BabesinBookland

2 Blondes, 1 Redhead & a Reviewer

Archive for the month “May, 2013”

Random Thoughts

3 20 13 004So, today’s blog post is a random collection of trivial things that make up a day in MY life. Author, barista, entrepreneur…
Ready?
3:55 a.m. Alarm goes off. I slide reluctantly out of bed. Rain pounds against the window, and BED is much cozier than racing around getting clothes on.
4:10 a.m. Dressed, hair slicked back in a pony tail, Shove feet into shoes – realize there’s a glob of dried whipped cream on the end of the shoe lace. Gross, but no time to chisel it off. Tie shoe.
4:15 a.m. Rush dogs outside into pouring rain, which they H A T E. Drag dogs, who suddenly have no power to walk on their own, to a semi dry spot and tell them to pee. They look at me like I’m the Anti Christ. Pee.
4:22 a.m. Two minutes late due to reluctant pets. Feed them treats and head out the door, apron, sharpie, hat and – whew – keys. Immediately lose hat in the wind, hat is now wet as I climb in the van and start the car.
4:29 a.m. Get to work just as the manager does – we run inside the frigid store, made all the more cold because we are soaked from the dash from our cars.
6:30 a.m. Finally grabbing a KIND bar and coffee on break. Pastry case takes an hour and a half to set up with the new system – doesn’t matter how fast I try to be. Coffee’s caught up. Glad that it wasn’t me who flooded the back room…
9:00 a.m. Rush home, still freaking pouring, to let the dogs out. I have to catch the bridge across the intercoastal just right, or I’m late. I have five minutes coming and going allowed for error – no more. Pippa’s terrified. She hates storms, but she can’t hold her bladder forever and she growls at me as I force her outside. Scary little Pomeranian teeth. Benny coughs. I know he’s a Chihuahua, but my friend Kathy insists he’s a little Jewish old man inside the Taco Bell outfit. I tell him that I refuse to buy Campbell’s Chicken Noodle, but know that if he’s still coughing later, I just might.
9:30 – Back to work, wiping peanut butter toast from my lips as I run inside. Made the bridge – all is well. CRAZY busy day. Something about dreary weather makes people think they need freaking frappucinos. Yeah, go figure. Temperature drop – let’s have a frozen five thousand calorie drink.
1:00 p.m. Work’s done. I drop my friend off at home so he doesn’t have to ride his bike in the rain, then put gas in the tank and get home in time to let the dogs out between rain showers. Change out of coffee scented work clothes – my closet smells like an espresso scratch and sniff. Kick off shoes, hoping the chunks have fallen off but not willing to take the time away from my new business, SMMNow!
1:45 p.m. Computer up, docs up, scanning email – don’t dare check Facebook. Something about it sucks an hour or two from my day. Okay – I’m nosy and I want to catch up with friends, if the truth be told….lol
4:00 p.m. Dogs want out AGAIN – good heavens, why do I feed these needy creatures?? Come back, allow myself a peek at Facebook.
6:00 p.m. Time warped into the future within the blink of an eye. Realize that it’s time for a glass of wine and the dogs’ dinner. They’ve been whining pathetically by their bowls as if they’ve never eaten before. Phone rings. Mom/Sheryl/Piks/Destini/Brighton/Patrice calls and I take a relieved break. Apple, cheese slice, pasta – something quick and easy to feed the machine then back to work.
8:00 p.m. Eyes are drooping. Computer and just plain old fatigue hit. I try to read, or do a last browse through Facebook to catch up on my own marketing or promo. Answer editor/agent/publicist/fan mail
9:00 p.m. Shower – set out clothes for the next morning to do it all over again.
10:00 p.m. Bed. Toss, turn. Worry about things outside my control.
3:55 a.m. Repeat 🙂

That’s my day – wanna share yours?

When you need to recharge…

Recharging, gathering your wits and aligning them in a row so you are productive, is different for everyone.  I think it has to do with how you were raised, or rather, how you saw others around you.  I, for one, cannot relax in my own house for the simple reason that I’m never bored.  Therefore I never at a loss for something to do, or needs to be done.  I can always find something that needs to be done.

Like my mother, the apron is ON all the time.

Given that, I leave to really recharge.  This year, I’ll be going to a sunny Florida beach for a family reunion. It will be fun in the sun and lots of take out.  The one rule, God love my mother for this—is that there is no big cooking.  So it’s a week intended to completely relax.  The toughest thing I do is maybe wash a load of beach towels and rinse sand off chairs and shoes.

I can’t always take a week off, but up until a few years ago, I took off for Romance Writers of America to spend time behaving like a real writer at a conference but truly, I was there to see my peeps.  Oddly, that one week for me alone at RWA costs about the same as a week in Florida on the beach, food and sundries included for my family.  When I need a short term recharge, I spend a couple hours in our pool or my never fail safe guard–a good book.

Have a great Memorial weekend everyone!

ooh-rahh!

Amy

Recharging the batteries

Zen - easter 2013 052I’ve spent a lot of time these past few months figuring out who I am, what I want, and how to get there. I’ve dug deep beyond the surface and trudged through the murky depths of what makes me tick. I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, I’ve railed at Fate – and I’ve had my toes in the sand. The ocean is a huge balm to my soul. The crash of the waves, the endless back and of forth of the water, the smell of salt, the breeze, the pelicans and fish and dolphins and the people watching -all of this gives me energy, feeds my heart and allows me to focus on the good in life.
Whether I’m walking along the water’s edge or sitting with a friend, the ocean brings me peace. Where do you go?

The book that inspired…

Oh let’s jump on the Way Back Machine with Sherman and Peabody.   

Too dated? 

My career started pre-internet, so I don’t think I’m that off track.

I was a licensed Cosmetologist for 13 years.  Writing was out of left field for me.  I’d never written a word unless forced.  I was the mother of a 3 year-old and a newborn and Id organized myself into complete boredom when I’d picked up my first romance novel.  I read hundreds but with one novel, I was on page five or six and kept asking myself, ‘when is the description of a show boat going to end and the story going to start?’  That I even asked that question generated more and I believed I could do better.   Ha.

I still consider it arrogant of me to believe I could pick up a pen and be good enough to be published.  But then, I never considered being published at all.  That’s not why I write.  At that time in my life, my idea of a writer was scratching out on parchment by candle light in some cold dark apartment.  money was never a factor.  I just wanted to learn and studied extensively any how-to book I could find.  We were living in Okinawa Japan then and I wrote for any magazine, newspaper and TV guide who’d accept my work.  A few of those sales paid for the manuscript shipping cost to the US. 

It took me three years to write that first book.  It was rejected six times and rightly so.  It was so loaded with everything I loved about romance novels and vastly over written.  But it taught me how to write.  Believe it or not, a couple rejections were encouraging.  I was already onto the next story, and wrote My Timeswept Heart, a historical time travel about a Sgt Maj.’s daughter who travels back in time to end up with the Continental Marines of the Frigate Navy.  I should add that my fellow writers in the Okinawa Writers Guild thought I should forget a time travel and write a straight historical romance.  They insisted that a publisher would not buy a paranormal book from an unpublished writer. 

Needless to say, I didn’t listen to that piece of advice.

 Amy

Books that inspired…

Patrick Dennis wrote Auntie Mame back in the fifties, I think, and I found the book as a teen at a garage sale. Original price for this puppy was 50 cents, and I think I got it for less. I adored it – the copy is now tattered and rubber banded together. What’s great about this? It took me away to another world with tons of laughter. As a teen in the 80’s I had no idea what life might be like in the fifties, but Auntie Mame was vivid in my mind. Whenver I need a pick me up, it’s a toss between that book and an Erma Bombeck. So far as fantasy goes, I inhaled A Wrinkle in Time and C.S. Lewis. I read everything I could get my hands on – from fables to nursery rhymes to my mother’s purloined library books. I remember one time I was twelve and home sick with a cold and I read a book of hers while she was at work. About the plague. By the time she came home I was sure I was dying, lolol

Books have always been a means of escape, another reality – and if the story grabs me I’m game for the ride no matter what the genre. And like Babe Rhonda, I am a HUGE fan of Gone With The Wind . Who do you LOVE?

Today only, PEONY, Book 2 in the Queen’s Guard series

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-queens-guard-peony/id643048164?mt=11

http://www.amazon.com/The-Queens-Guard-Series-ebook/dp/B00C0JD0QK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1368626803&sr=8-2&keywords=the+queens+guard

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-queens-guard-traci-e-hall/1115230608?ean=9781605426570

Reading for inspiration . . .

 

rhonda

So what book inspired me to become a writer?  Gone With the Wind.  Yes, I know it’s a tome but when I read it I was transported into another time.  It was the first time that happened to me.  I think I was about 14 when I first read the book and I’ve probably re-read it a dozen times since then.  Everything was so vivid.  The setting, the characters, all of it.  If you’ve only seen the movie, then you need to read the book.  There are many, many differences from what made it to the big screen.

 

Scarlett is actually more selfish in the book, but at the same time, more complex.  In spite of her flaws, you find yourself rooting for her as the story unfolds.  And the backdrop of the Civil War really comes to life.  Especially when the characters confront the aftermath of the war.  Melanie isn’t as sympathetic as she is in the movie.  But Rhett is as hot as ever.  The sexual tension between Rhett and Scarlett is palpable.  Ashley comes off as the same wuss he is in the movie.  This IMHO is the only flaw in the book.  What does Scarlett want the weenie for when she can have Rhett?

 

The pacing of the story is what makes it such a great blueprint for a novel.  Give it a try.

 

There have been other books that I consider special.  Sydney Sheldon’s Master of the Game comes to mind.  For those of you who haven’t read it, the book is a multi-generational saga that starts in the diamond fields of South Africa and eventually ends up in New York several generations later.  It’s a sweeping tale with a large cast of characters who are perfectly delineated.  It’s the characters who make this story.  The plot is a bit contrived but you read on to find out what new strife befalls the characters.  It has wealth, intrigue and character conflict galore.

 

A great study in crafting characters.  Check it out.

Owning my flaws… let me count the ways

Oddly I think I had fewer flaws that bug me when I was younger.  Does that mean I’ve just grown into them?  Or am I just more aware of them now?

My wise father has always said, “We are all a work in progress.”  We learn constantly about ourselves and the world.  You can’t disagree with that.  One has to recognize, accept and learn from those flaws but only if you want to improve yourself.

I grew up in a clean house; therefore I clean mine constantly to keep that high level.  I clean as I go.  It’s not a flaw but a habit learned from mom.

So what’s the difference?  A flaw is detrimental.

I have a temper.  I’m the ONLY one in my family with it, too.  Really.   I’ve had to bite my tongue so much over the years I shouldn’t have one anymore.  During my husband’s Marine career, I didn’t voice my opinion much because often it was contrary to USMC policy.  I am the daughter of a Marine Colonel and had ‘what you do reflects on me’ hammered into my brain, so I know the consequences.

Being aware of my temper forced me to step back often, do the ‘count to ten before you speak’ or meditate, stuff like that.  I’ve tried to meditate but my mind is like a pinball machine, shooting from one topic to another.  I have ADD and consider it a flaw.  To balance that, I need lots of notes and reminders.

I could have been an addict.  I get obsessed with a subject sometimes.  I’ll pour over books, movies, documentaries to learn all I can on one subject.  I’ve done this with jewelry and candle making, perfume, pottery… well, you get the idea.  The thing is, I learn it all, and then I’m bored with it, set it aside and rarely go back unless it generates a novel.

I feel very strongly there is a standard in having a writing career and just being a decent human being. If you cross it, I will write you off.  Ethics and professionalism have a high moral value to me.  When a colleague reported to me that she and several writers were auditing a major publishing house, I printed that fact in an Op Ed piece.  Sans the names, of course.  She was auditing my publisher and the CEO called me, wanting to know the names.  I refused and if he had pursued, I could have gone to jail.  I would have done so gladly too.  So you see, I’m loyal to my friends.  When it comes down to basic need, the people in our lives are the only thing that matters.  I raise my sons to ‘surround themselves only with people who treat you as you treat them.’ Ditch the rest.  Life is too short.

With writing, I lack confidence in my work.  That wasn’t always the case but it seems the longer I’m at it, the more I see the flaws in my writing and want desperately to correct them and be better.  I’ll go back to the basics until I recognize that I already know this stuff, proving again my lack of confidence.  It’s a waste of time and effort and lately, I’ve managed to see if before I go off the reservation.  I’d like to blame the death of my friend and editor Kate, but that’s not all of it.  Add in menopause with its accompanying depression that just pisses me off, and that makes for a hot mess.  I hate disappointing readers.  I know I have.  They are waiting for a book that will likely not be published unless I do it myself.

To counteract this, I need a challenge.  A mental challenge.  Writing a historical– something I haven’t done nor read in 10 years– is it.  It’s slow, regaining the ‘voice’ is the toughest but I had to accept that the writing will never be the same because I’m not the same person.  When I reach the point that flowery descriptions don’t make me roll my eyes, I’ll be there.

Amy

Flaws! Who, me??

Just kidding 🙂
I am loaded with flaws and idiosyncrasies. Hmm, you say. That might be interesting. But trust me – it isn’t very interesting stuff, it’s just what makes me, me.
Since living alone, I’ve been getting to know me pretty well. I am not as nice as I could be.I know when I’m being a little gritchy, but knowing doesn’t re-set my balance. I like a walk on the ocean or a nap for that!
I have this ridiculous need to sort through emotional things and ‘tag’ them – as if labeling them allows me to put them away. I’m not sure if this is successful or not. Some things refuse to stay packed in the box!
I like to plan ahead. Even though I know that we only have this one day, today, I still like to plan and prepare for the upcoming week/month/year. It makes me feel proactive, as if I have some control over my world. I know that there are things beyond my control, but I like to do it anyway, lolol.
I am over focused at times, and forget to take a breath.
I dislike order. I prefer a little chaos. A straight line bothers me.
I don’t care about which way the toilet paper roll goes – or if my socks are folded. I’m content if things are clean – it doesn’t have to be perfect.
I don’t cook. I can, and will for family because I love the act of being together over food and conversation, but I’d be happy with meals delivered to my door from the gourmet market.
Same thing for laundry. I’d love to hire out 🙂
Wow – now you know just some of the things that make me human and unique. Come on and share yours!!
I dare you, lol

Traci

when readers chime in….

I love hearing from readers, good or bad.  I’ve been fortunate to get terrific reviews, with the exception of a couple out right attacks.

The bad comments I take with a grain of salt for the simple reason I’ve experienced many where I know for certain they didn’t read the book or they read it so fast they didn’t catch the tell tale clues.  My books are not perfect by any stretch and I’m okay with that.  I’ve been at this for 20 years and I’m still learning.

Regardless, reviews are subjective opinion and you can’t please everyone.  Once a writer gets over that, it’s easier to take the harsh ones.  No one wants to be criticized but that’s the way of a writer’s life. The writer is putting their hard work out there for you to be entertained. If they don’t do that, they fail.  I’m the writer who always wants one more look at the manuscript before it goes out.  I worked a month ahead of my deadlines for just that reason.

Also, before I was published I worked with a critique group of mostly military personnel and they were brutal.  My skin grew thick quickly. They forced me to rethink and revise.  I owe them more than they ever realized.  I love it when a reader ‘gets it’ and this happened with my last book, Damage Control.   The reviews weren’t great but a few got my theme through the story.  Ah well, can’t win them all.

I think my advantage is I learned early, with my first couple novels, that once I give it to the editor, it’s not mine anymore. It’s theirs to edit, market, slap a cover on and sell.  It’s out of my hands and this is the big part, Writers have NO control after that.  They might talk a good game, but it’s the editor and marketing who control the release of a book.  I sank a lot of money into promotion that it did little to no good.  Being burned a few times keeps me scorch free.  Besides, they don’t pay enough for me to promote much, trust me.

When a reader sends a note about loving my book, it’s a boost.  Writing is solitary and it gets lonely at the keyboard.  A note is like chatting with a friend I’ve missed, a kindred spirit.  We revisit the story since by the time the book is released, I’m deep into the next one.  Right now, that’s a historical set in 12th century Ireland during the Norman Invasion.

AMY

 

 

Queen’s Guard :Peony – Available today!

I’m really happy that the second book in the Queen’s Guard series is out – and I’m really hoping that sales fly through the roof so that I can continue the rest of the series, lolol. I clearly remember my first book release. It was like magic! All of the work I’d done and the story I’d poured my heart into, available for readers to do what they do – read.
And connecting to our blog subject this week, I’ve had good reviews and bad reviews. I remember the first time a woman emailed me after reading Love’s Magic. She told me that my book had taken her away from hours of tedious pain in the chemo chair.
That brought what we do, as writers, home. I owe the reader a story that will hopefully transport them to whatever world I’ve created. This is my fifteenth book out today – and while I don’t need to celebrate by going out to dinner, the feeling is still very magical.
All week Peony will be on special for 99 cents, and I’ll be blogging at Writerspace, as well as on my facebook page. I’m doing an impromptu contest thing with all of the amazing people commenting on my medieval tidbits. Love, love all of the history buffs on facebook!
So, I hope you take a chance on Peony, and give me the opportunity to write Mamie’s story (Rose) next. She’s a bunch of fun 🙂 Feel free to write a review!

http://www.amazon.com/The-Queens-Guard-Series-ebook/dp/B00C0JD0QK

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