Thursday, September 28, 2006

The cost of following our dreams...

Do you ever feel like you are on the edge of something...but that it can either be really glorious or fizzle to something even less inspiring than mediocrity? I feel that way about my writing, that if I'm not careful I'm going to tip in the direction of mediocrity. Equally frightening, if I work really hard...I won't. My friend JoAnn Ross advised me early on that one of the biggest stumbling blocks to my success would be my own fear of it happening.

The fear is not without justification. Following our dreams comes with a cost. That is one of the reasons I have so little tolerance for people who will look at me with envy and say I'm so lucky to have published, so lucky to be doing what I want with my life. I look back at them and wonder when was the last time they sacrificed...truly gave up something good for the hope of something great, or paid the price in pain for the possible pleasure of achievement?

You notice those words - "hope" & "possible" - they are the difference between risk and a sure thing. Following our dreams is rife with risk. I kept writing through years of rejections and stumbling along a rocky path that left my knees bloody and my heart sore by adhering to the principle that I could not guarantee success, but I could guarantee failure - by giving up. Surprisingly, that mantra is every bit as necessary today as it was then. I try with every book to write something better than the last, to find a deep emotional connection with my characters that my readers will mirror.

Before I published, the only thing standing between me and the book of my heart was...well..me. Now there is reader expectation, editorial feedback and my sales history. When I look at which books sold the best, I can't help but thinking those were the books that found the widest band of connection with readers and knowing that to stray too far any one direction puts the relationship with my current readers and my editors at risk.

When I think of all that I have given up to follow the path of being a writer - time with my family, time for my hobbies, time to read, huge investments of money into pursuing my craft, publication and then promotion, friendships even, sleep, sometimes my peace of mind - I cannot cavalierly dismiss these truths. Jayne Ann Krentz once wrote an article on the concept of creation for self rather than others and I realize that I need to reinvest in that principle. That maybe the cost of my dream has driven me away from the risk taking that made *me* love my books.

I started this blog musing about the cost of success as well as the cost of pursuit thereof. Success itself can be frightening. Reaching ten year goals in a matter of two years can be terrifying and a leave a person rushing in a desperate attempt to keep up. When asked what I want five years from now, a small part of me hesitates to give voice to my ongoing dreams - for fear they will come true NOW and I am not ready for them, yet who would turn down a blessing? Not me.

I am so grateful to be where I am with my writing. To have books out that touched readers hearts and hit bestsellers lists. To have more books in the pipeline and know that they are there because I wrote them, but also because my publishers believed in me. In the next book.

But I still feel on the edge of that precipice and I only hope I'm going to fall into the unkown, to adventure, to something grand. :)

The truth is...every dream will come with some cost, if only the initial risk of pursuit. What dreams have you taken a risk to follow, or what dreams still lurk waiting for their moment in the sun?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sunshine and Sparkly Smiles

I am loving this renewal of warm weather and sunshine. Don't know where it came from, but it is LOVELY. And it brings out my favorite thing...sparkly smiles...in everybody. The neighbors smile when I pass them on the way to pick up teens from school, the teens smile washing the car 'cuz they're *enjoying* getting wet, hubby smiles...well, maybe just because. Man, that guy has a great smile!

And well, no matter how much my back hurts, I'm definitely smiling. TAKE ME is going to be out soon...in fact, it may already be on some bookstore shelves. (If you have a sighting, will you share?) I'll be blogging more about it next week, but suffice to say, this book is one of my all time faves and I'm uber eager for reader reaction.

Another thing that makes me smile? Wonderful editors. They really rock. I'd turned in my revisions on my latest HP and my ed is on the wire schedule wise for it, but I got to feeling the ending was rushed and I needed to revisit the final scene. Her answer? Go ahead, just get it to me yesterday. LOL So, I'm working on that today and loving this process that makes doing what I do so very special.

I want every book to be the best one yet and having editors who are willing to let me do my thing, well...that totally blesses me.

Discussion Question: What brings out the sparkly smiles in you?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Oh...my aching back...

Okay, so I um...threw out my lower back helping get my son's room rearranged and refurnished to support three boys sleeping in there. My family keeps asking me if I'm feeling any better and I reply, "If I don't move." I finally came into the computer 'cuz I was so tired of laying perfectly still in bed and well, I need to work, having spent most of my working hours this week doing family stuff. :)

So, it's a chance to catch up with you all. Which I like. :) And I need to post my blog on Vamps & Scamps and then maybe get some pages in.

Michelle B had an icredible discussion going on this week on Romance by the Blog (link in my sidebar). If you get a chance, hop over and check it out.

I can't wait to see Grid Iron...only I'll have to until I can sit in a movie theater seat without groaning. LOL

Any movies you all are loving or looking forward to seeing right now?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Jack and the Beanstalk

I haven't lost my mind. Really, I haven't...but enter harried mother who just got the whole transportation situation uh...situated...for the three teens attending 3 different high schools. Said mother is also harried aunt who helps sister out when *her* transporation issues get a bit convoluted due to work and yeah, we just got that straightened out too. Oh, and said mother is *also* a harried writer trying very hard to stay on track with current book.

So, what do I do when one teen comes home and says, "We've got three foreign exchange students from Korea that need host families for the school year..."? I call the coordinator and set up a meeting. Well, what did you expect? Before the kids were born I spent one summer coordinating a foreign exchange program for 30 Japanese students and teaching them English. I know how hard it can be to find host families and well, I have mentioned how much I love being a mom? Love being an aunt too. Figure I would love being a "host mom figure" just as much, yeah? Good thing dh is such a hero...he went along. :)

So, um...a few hours later, I'm not one, but uh...THREE students richer in my household. Okay, one of them is going to another host family this weekend, but the other two are staying through June. Which means new furniture and uber reorganization of my son's bedroom. Three boys in one room. Yeah, we can make it work. If it were girls...uh...no, but boys? They're not so picky about space. At least mine isn't and neither are the exchange students. Just gotta make three beds work...good thing the room is bigger than a closet, no? But one bed? A queen size my boy sleeps on diagonally because he is so tall. Yeah, we've had to get very space creative. Enter futon and loft bed above it.

We've got the shower schedule worked out, they've discovered Top Ramen as an after school snack thanks to my nephew and dh and I are researching Korean recipes.

We are going to have such an adventurous year this year!

Discussion question: When was the last time you did something that sounded crazy, but you knew it was the right thing to do?

Prize Winners

I didn't forget...just got sidetracked...LOL

So, for the New Brava Site blog prize, I decided to give away two prizes. One drawn from the comments made before the deadline and one after. It only seemed fair, yeah? The winners of a signed book of choice and Brava cover flats are:

Joyce and ChristyJan

Blog winners for the weekly drawings for drawings I have not done:

Maureen - Winner of Kelly Vitollo's debut eBook

Kathleen - Winner of grab bag of books from my prize shelf.

All prize winners, please email me with your snail mail address so I can send your prizes. Oh, yeah...the post office just loves me. :)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

New Brava Authors Website

Just wanted to let you all know that the Brava Authors website has been revamped and it's to die for gorgeous!!! It really is! You can visit it at:
http://www.bravaauthors.com.
Be sure and stop by the all new message boards and visit with your favorite authors and a queen among editors, Kate Duffy.

One of the things we've been chatting about amidst ourselves is how very diverse the Brava imprint is. It's not a line and the authors all have their own story to write. Some are sexier than others. Some use the language of erotica while others do not. Some have suspense or mystery elements, others do not. Some are straight romance...some are hugely funny (read Karen Kelley lately?)...in short, there is a truly special, wonderful plethora of stories for every taste in romance.

Visit the website, check out the message board and then come back and let me know what you think. I'll be giving away signed cover flats by other Brava authors and a signed copy of a book of choice to a winner drawn from the comments on this blog post. :)

And I didn't forget last week's contest winner...I'll post her name as well as the special contest winner from this post tomorrow night. :)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Online time and other bits...

I'm wondering how the rest of you manage your online time. For months now, I've struggled because I spend hours every day keeping up with my online commitments...more hours than I actually have to write and that's disturbing on more levels than I want to talk about. Not to mention really, really bad for my stress levels. It also means that my time with my family is severly hindered. So, well...I've made some tough decisions, which I'll be sharing with my loops in turn, but here's my new time management plan:

1. Go no mail indefinitely on pretty much all of my discussion loops.

2. Visit my favorite blogs (besides this one) no more than once a week.

3. Visit my favorite discussion boards no more than once a week or every two weeks.

4. Attend no more than two chats per month.

I'm keeping my online class group because mentoring others is uber important to me and making my blog my central point for contact with readers. I'm still available via private email and love hearing from readers about my books, but I can't keep up with online chat groups or daily visits to any discussion board or blog but this one.

Making such drastic changes in my online time is super hard, but it is that or write fewer books, which I have to believe readers would prefer I not do.

Oh, and the other bits? Some VERY cool news...but both Ready (#13) and Willing (#10) were on Fictionwise.com's Bestsellers List last week (they're still on the list, but have dropped a bit this week). So, the eBooks are doing well. Happy day! AND Take Me received a 4.5 Stars, Top Pick from RT!!! I'm totally over the moon on that. :)

Discussion question: What strategies do
you use to manage your online time?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Final bits on Vancouver...

I couldn't finish my travelogue on Vancouver without telling you all about my interview with Mark McConchie. First of all, I recognized his face and found out later it was because I'd recently seen him in an episode of Psych (my new favorite show - okay I only watch two shows, but for it to be one? is saying something). He's a totally amazing guy. Incredibly nice and very generous with his time. The lunch interview stretched late into the afternoon and the batteries on my mini-notebook went dead taking notes. I had to switch to pen and paper. Yep...he was uber interesting all right. I could have asked him a million more questions, but I figured he deserved a break.

He was full of information on acting and the film industry itself as well as just being well...cool. He knows what he wants, what he's willing to do to get it and not willing to do. Those kind of self-realized people are few and far between. Another friend of mine, JJ Massa is one of them. I can talk with her for hours too. LOL

But I'm digressing, which I'm good at but is going make this blog too long for you all. :) After interviewing Mark, my family and I went to a restaurant he recommended and it was fabulous. Went back to the hotel and saw this very interesting gay bar on the way back. Yes, I wanted to go in for research sake...yes, that's got something to do with the current book...no I didn't go. No one to go with. Wasn't about to drag dh. He's much too good looking...I'd probably end up jealous. LOL

The next day, we did a return to the renovated section of downtown and then my daughter and I went to a spa. Research. It really was. Wait until you read the book and you'll see. I probably asked my skin therapist more questions than she's ever gotten...my procedure took nearly a half an hour longer than it was supposed to. I felt badly, but she was so sweet about answering everything. And when you read about the secondary character who is a skin therapist, you'll know I did my research in real time. :)

We ate at another scrumptious restaurant or two - food is VERY good in Vancouver and then went back to our condo/suite to pack. I'm ready to go back, but think my publisher and maybe readers (yeah?) would be happier if I stuck around here and finished the book!

Discussion question: Have you ever gone someplace you wouldn't necessarily want to tell your mom about?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

As promised...couple of very promising reads.

Okay...you all know how much I like uber dark and sexy books. They are often found among the paranormals, but I want my strong emotion too and this book looks to deliver all three. I'm definitely putting it on my TBB list.

SLAVE TO SENSATION
Nalini Singh

In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of "rehabilitation" - the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was...

Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a Changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy co-existence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several Changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion - and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities - or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation...

There is nothing I like better though than a truly sexy romance and Kelley Vitollo's debut release is available *tomorrow*!!! Can't wait to read it.

Dream Man, a short story by Kelley Vitollo available September 8 from Forbidden Publications.

Sadie has the same dream night after night. She dreams of a mysterious man with black hair, gorgeous blue eyes, and magical hands. When dream becomes reality and Sadie comes face to face with her dream man, will she have the courage to see if reality is better then the dream?

And this week's blog winner? Will receive a copy of Kelley's Dream Man!

Today's discussion question - In both of these stories, the heroines have to take a risk to follow their heart (one perhaps a little more deadly than the other ::g::) and I've gotta admit that I love that kind of story. What about you? Did you have a "moment of decision" when it was all or nothing in a relationship, when the risk of staying was almost as big as the risk of walking away? If you don't want to get too personal...then how about sharing your favorite moment of decision in a romance?

FYI - I will be blogging more about my trip to Vancouver and my wonderful interview with Mark tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fallen off the Face of the Earth?

Not really...but sometimes it feels like it. I'm making a concentrated effort to get caught up with life again now that the kids have all started back to school. Who knew putting three teens in three different high schools could be so challenging? But everything times three made for a super hectic week after our vacation. And one of my teens is a senior...yep, senior pics are a mini stage production. Or not so mini really...wow...just, wow...eye opening.

I've got notes to type up from the trip to Canada, my desk is cluttered (you all know I can't write with it like that) and I'm a nervous wreck about my son going to public high school even though I know it was the right choice for him. But I think I'm going to get caught up today. I really do. I mean with life...and I sort of started here...letting you all know I'm doing great, just busy and plan to be back on track from here on out.

I'll be back tomorrow with a book pimp (or two) and the announcement of *this* week's contest *prize*.

PREVIOUS WINNERS

Veronica - CD with copies of 14 of Denyse's erotic romance books.
Estella - Grab bag of books from my prize shelves along with chocolate.
Melissa - Grab bag of books from my prize shelves along with Vancouver BC souvenir.

Winners, please email me with your mailing address so your prizes can be sent.