Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Getting Organized

I am not a very organized person. Some people (my husband) might disagree since I like things put away where they belong--mainly so I can find them again when I need them.

But my desk tells a different story. Because everything is within arm's reach, I don't need to compartmentalize. Whet I need is usually in plain sight. Or under something.

I did get tired of my cords getting tangled up, especially since I accumulated more electronics in the past few months--phone, camera, Nook, Ipad. If you've ever tried to insert your phone cord into your camera, you know the feeling.

So I got out my trusty permanent marking pen and labeled the white ones. That left just the black ones to confuse me, but I think I have them figured out. I leave the plug on the telephone cord.

They still wanted to participate in a group hug, however. Outside  of  keeping each cord in  separate room, I had to do something.

Two Hills Brothers coffee containers (Sugar-free Vanilla Cappuccino is my favorite)
Four toilet paper cores (or a tall medicine bottle, but they're harder to get)
Three rubber bands.

And there you are. Nicely nested and easy to get at.

I have no patent on this, so feel free to copy.

This has absolutely nothing to do with writing. I can't even think of a connection. If you can, please leave a comment and share your insights!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Terrible Tuesdays

I am seriously thinking of changing the title of this blog to "Terrible Tuesdays." Tuesdays must occur more than once in an average week, because here it is again.

Today was worse than usual. Okay, so it's hard sometimes to come up with a subject for my weekly rant, although I find if I just start typing something comes to me. But, after a few days spent in a slump wherein I played endless games of  Spider Solitaire and Free Cell, while checking my e-mail every five minutes just to break the boredom, I woke up this morning determined to be Productive (note the capital P).

I have revised "Wherever You May Be" and dozen times and can do no more. It is time to send it out into the world to make its fortune. My big decision this morning was to dig out my historical romance and try once again to finish it.

Now, having observed other people's problems with computers eating or otherwise destroying their precious manuscripts, I saved mine in an external hard drive. So, retrieving it should be simple, right?

It wasn't in the file where I had left it. It had wandered far afield. My first thought was that it was gone forever, perhaps orbiting merrily around Jupiter. My second thought was that I could never, never find the energy (or the wits) to write it again. From scratch.

Then I did a Search. After a great deal of chortling and chuckling, my computer brought forth the file I was missing.

Here is the path: Computer->Sandy Bruney Backup->Documents_>BCK1->Archives->_nsd_C->Documents and Settings->Sandra Bruney->My Documents->Documents->My file.

It took me the better part of an hour just to access the file. Then, my diabolical computer had one more trick up its sleeve. Every Word file had been converted to a .doc.nsz file. Which wouldn't open in any program I could find. At last I tried opening it in Notepad and eureka! the words I had labored over some two years ago came back to life.

I'm happy again, but much too tired and frazelled to tackle the story now.

Productivity will have to wait until another day.

Oh -- tomorrow is the last day to enter the drawing for a free copy of "The Almost Bride" and a copy of your choice of one of my hostesses' romance novels. Just go to http://wp.me/p1Ggnm-cH   and leave a comment with your e-mail address for a chance to win. And thanks to everyone who already dropped by. Your support means a lot to me.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Practice makes perfect -- almost

Are you writing anything new? What's it about?

I imagine writers hear this all the time. I know I do. I wonder if other writers have the same difficulty in trying to tell what her story is about  before the listener begins to look bored or changes the subject.

And this is with friends.

Now imagine you have three to five minutes to outline your entire plot not to an interested friend, but to an agent who has heard it all before, and is looking for that indefinable something different in your story. This conversation is called a "pitch" as in you are tossing your baby to an onlooker and hoping she will catch it.

I "pitched" for the second time last Saturday at the monthly Carolinas Romance Writers meeting. The first time was also at a CRW meeting (which is why I pay dues and attend meetings...they frequently have publishers and agents as guest speakers). I was horribly nervous, stammered, and made no impression at all unless it was why is this idiot pretending to be a writer?

This time I wrote down my pitch, practiced it at home, practiced in the car riding to Charlotte and practiced it again when I picked up my passenger. I wasn't going to be nervous this time!

I was calm until the "cold read." The agent read one page of our manuscripts and made comments on why she would or wouldn't read further. Her comment on mine? "Another cute meet."

What I thought was a --well, cute-- way to introduce the two main characters and set them up for conflict, was something this experienced agent had seen dozens of times before. She wasn't dismissive, even suggested I change the scene to make it less contrived, but I already knew it was doomed.

I got through the pitch and came home and began revising the manuscript. I did learn two things, though.

Look out for the cliched and overdone introduction.

Practice your pitch until you can repeat it to a professional without stammering.

All in all, a good experience.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A new year, open to possibilities. In 2013, I resolve to try new varieties of wine, and read as many books as I can cram into a mere 365 days. Now that the library has Freading, and I am armed with both my Nook and iPad (which downloads Kindle books) I probably won't have to trudge to the library as often as in the past. Except to take my hubby, who disdains electronic readers and prefers a solid book in his hands.

And since I go in with him, I have to browse the shelves, right? and if there's a new book by one of my favorite authors in finger-tip reach, I naturally add it to his stack.

Isn't it wonderful to have so many choices? And with the explosion of new books on the market, our choices are nearly unlimited. Yum, it's like being in the candy store of my childhood, where a nickel could net you a little brown bag full of goodies.

When I was around four or five, I found a pebble that was flat and perfectly round, like a nickel. I took it to the store and offered it to the clerk. Amused, she allowed me to select several pieces of candy.

Wow! A magic pebble. I found another, and repeated my shopping trip.

The third time, the store owner contacted my mother. She thought it was funny. Mom did not. I was told the difference between a stone and a coin, and sent to  my room to brood upon my sins.

Suppose I had offered a real coin, and was given a bag filled with pebbles? Not so amusing.

With the onset of self-publishing, one can purchase a book and not realize until opening it that she has bought trash and not a treasure. While most of the SP books I have downloaded have been excellent reads, some should never have seen the light of day. Which makes people, once burned, suspicious of any SP book.

I think that, if not in 2013, but soon, there will be a self-governing board to vet SP novels before they reach the market. It can only help all of us who choose that route to publication. Sort of like a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

So that's my prediction for the new year.

And my great discovery of 2012 was that I can still ride a bike at age -- ha, ha, I'm not telling!

Happy New Year everyone and may blessing fall like rain upon your heads.