Calgon anyone?

I really shouldn’t be writing a blog right now because I’m feeling incredibly stressed out and overwhelmed. Unfortunately, one of the (many) things that is causing me stress is the fact that I haven’t posted a blog in a while and so here I am.

Besides my mother, I doubt anyone has been stalking my website awaiting a fresh post, but I feel it is part of my job as a writer to maintain a current blog. And for the most part, I enjoy blogging! What I don’t enjoy is when my day job as a trademark paralegal gets so busy that it becomes necessary to work overtime to keep on top of it and that’s where I am right now.

Please do not get me wrong, I feel incredibly blessed to have a solid career and a stable job as a paralegal. I live in a very expensive city and while I work hard, I also play hard and my paycheck needs to stretch beyond my rent and monthly expenses to allow me to a maintain my lifestyle. I certainly do not make enough money writing to quit. (I also enjoy my day job, although not nearly as much as I enjoy writing.) But right now, when my second novel is in the last stages of pre-publication and there is so much preparation involved, is not the time for my work responsibilities to soar. Right now, all I can focus on are the following steps that either need or should be taken before Planet of the Flakes is published, for instance, meeting my editing deadline (of Friday); working with a designer on my cover (the cover artist I initially wanted is not taking on new assignments); writing my acknowledgments (first draft completed, thank God for small favors); reaching out to other authors/bloggers to read the manuscript and provide pre-publication reviews and blurbs; updating some of the contents on my website. I tip my hat to all of you self-published authors who opt to do this all on your own as I looked at the outline of tasks created for the publication of Planet of the Flakes and know that there is so much more involved that, thank goodness, falls into the hands of someone else.

On top of pre-publication stress, I agreed to judge a writing contest for the Chick Lit chapter of Romance Writers of America of which I am a member and, of course, I conveniently received all four entries last night and have only until early August to read and critique them. I really enjoyed judging the entries last year and the year before which is why I volunteered again, but the timing isn’t great. And to make matters worse, I am being trained on a new database for the next two days at work which means I won’t have time to actually do any of the work that is in my to-do pile until Thursday at the earliest and by Thursday, I am sure new work will be added to the pile.

The next few weekends are already completely booked between a friend’s upcoming wedding festivities, my oldest sister coming into town with my youngest niece and my boyfriend’s cousin’s wedding in Michigan. All of these things are fun and I’m not complaining but OMG, my head is spinning and all I want to do is crawl under my covers and cry.

I confess that there are things I could probably do to make more time in my day. For instance, I could go to sleep later and work on my writing stuff late into the night, however, I get up early every morning to either go running or to the gym and that would not be possible with five hours of sleep. Some might say I should sacrifice the gym, but those who know me the best are aware that I am a much more productive person (not to mention nicer) when my exercise routine is not jeopardized. I suppose I could decline all social invitations after work to write, but it’s not as if I go out every night of the week anyway and giving up all time with my friends would put my sanity and cheery disposition in danger. Finally, it probably wouldn’t kill me to miss The Bachelorette but I am just too afraid to take that risk 🙂

Interesting, when I started writing this blog, I was feeling quite sorry for myself and out of control. In reading back my last paragraph however, I realize that I do have some control. No, I cannot control how demanding my clients or the attorneys for whom I work will be on a given day and I cannot snap my fingers and accomplish all of the things I need to do, but how I spend what free time I have is a result of choices that I make and if I really needed to get something done, I could make the time to do it.

This doesn’t mean I am through complaining but for now, I am leaving my pity party and finishing my work so I can go home and watch The Bachelorette.

Cheers 🙂

 

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Blurb for Planet of the Flakes

Further to my last post, things are moving along for the publication of Planet of the Flakes. I am still working with my editor who is in the process of reviewing my revisions, but has already let me know that she really likes the new scenes I added to the book to flesh out the secondary characters and develop my main character’s relationships with her friends and family. Additionally, I am scheduled to have a phone call with my Book Manager this afternoon. The Book Manager will be assisting me with the promotion and marketing of the book and I am very excited to hear her ideas. I didn’t have any assistance with marketing for my first book and am delighted to have someone on my team this time around. All that remains is the assignment of my cover artist. I have been brainstorming ideas for cover art and am looking forward to that stage of the process.

Finally, my editor sent me the blurb for the book and I wanted to share it with all of you!

Here it is!

“Jane Frank is ready to fall in love. It’s been a year since her long term relationship ended and far too long since the last time she was kissed. With the LSAT coming up she needs to find a long term boyfriend (or husband) before acing law school and becoming a partner at her father’s law firm. There’s just one problem: all the guys in New York are flakes. They seemingly drop off the face of the earth with no warning and no explanation. Should she join her best friend Marissa in singlehood, making cupcakes and watching True Blood? Or should she follow her co-worker Andrew’s advice and turn the game back on those who scorned her? As Jane attempts to juggle her own responsibilities and put up with the problems of everyone around her, she starts to realize that the dating life isn’t as easy as she originally thought.”

Hopefully, the blurb has tweaked your interest. If you have ever dated in NYC (or any large city for that matter) and been on the giving or receiving end of the disappearing act, you will probably relate to this book. And even if you have been happily married for 20+ years, I guarantee it will make you laugh and possibly make you cry!

a time to write; a time to edit

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I am in the process of editing my soon-to-be-published chick-lit novel, Planet of the Flakes, a story about a type-A young woman whose life plan is veering way off track thanks to the flake-invested pool of singletons she finds herself swimming in after ending a nine-year relationship with her high school sweetheart.

Let me tell you something about editing, for those of you who are not writers – it’s not an easy thing to do and I don’t just mean the physical act of editing. I mean, from a emotional standpoint, it can be difficult. When I finished my first draft of Planet of the Flakes, I did about three rounds of revisions on my own – without an editor. I do not consider description a strength of mine and so my first round of edits involved fleshing out scenery, what my characters look like and are wearing, their bodily gestures and so forth. The second round of edits involved me reading the book out loud and changing any sentences or phrases that sounded awkward. When I was comfortable that the book was as good as it could be without the help of a professional editor, I enlisted the help of a “book doctor” (fellow author Diana Spechler) to give the manuscript a thorough critique. Based on Diana’s comments, I began yet another one or two rounds of edits. These included developing secondary characters, upping the tension where necessary, clearing up ambiguity etc. and I even changed the ending. It wasn’t until I was satisfied with the changes that I even began the submission process to publishers. Enter: publishing contract. Yay!!

You would think after so much hard work and a well-deserved publishing contract, the novel would be in turn-key condition, right? Wrong. It was time to work with yet another editor who would provide her own set of comments, both substantive and “cosmetic” (grammar, punctuation). I braced myself for her feedback and willed myself not to let my ego get in the way, knowing that my editor and I would have a common goal: to make Planet of the Flakes as good as possible. It also comforted me to know that as author of the book, I was free to accept or reject the changes as I saw fit. With one published novel already under my belt, I was confident that my instincts were good and that I’d be able to let go of my pride enough to recognize which of the suggested changes would truly strengthen the novel and which would not.

Let’s not get carried away though – I was still terrified!

When I received my editor’s initial email, I was extremely excited as we appeared to be on the same page. She had no desire for me to do any major rewrites and, in fact, truly loved the book, but she had some suggestions for strengthening the novel which is exactly what I hoped to do in the editing process. I was especially pleased because she loved the ending of the book (she called it “golden”) and I had been concerned that she would want me to change it.

For the past few weeks, I have been busy working on the edits. I did a lot during my lunch hours but I knew if I continued at that rate, it would delay publication and so I locked myself in my apartment this past Saturday, determined to finish the first round before I went to bed that night. The plan was to get up early, go for a quick run and get started by about 2pm. Instead, I slept until 11 (much needed after a full, long week at my day job), ran 9 miles and spent 1.5 hours at the pool on the roof of my apartment building. I didn’t get started until 4:30pm! When I finally finished, it was almost midnight and I celebrated with a cold beer – Blue Moon. It was delicious!

I wound up agreeing to most of my editor’s suggestions and in total, added about ten pages to the manuscript as a result of a few added scenes and some more dialogue in certain areas. There were a couple of things on which we disagreed and I stood my ground – respectfully of course. And I provided a reason why I was unwilling to make those changes. I sent the revised manuscript to my editor on Sunday and now await her comments. I’m hoping there are not too many rounds back and forth because I REALLY look forward to the publication of Planet of the Flakes. I absolutely love this book and hope you will too!

Bad Love Triangles

I was reading a book recently and found myself irked by the “so-called” love triangle. I’m not comfortable mentioning the name of the book and don’t try to figure it out by looking on my Goodreads “currently reading” list because I did not add it!! While the novel itself was generally entertaining, the love triangle bothered me because one man was written to be the obvious “winner” and the other the clear “loser.” One man was the safe, corporate type and the other was the dangerous, rugged type but the “safe” guy was also “boring”, “controlling” and “selfish” while the dangerous guy was not only sexy but also fiercely protective and a big teddy bear on the inside. Had the safe guy also been drawn as funny, loving and great in bed (and “safe” and “good in bed” are not mutually exclusive), there might have been a real competition, but because the safe guy was not written with any redeeming qualities, I felt gypped of tension. Even if the heroine did not fall in love with the dangerous guy, it was in her best interest to dump the safe guy anyway because he was a jerk. This was not the first novel I had read where one man was written as cold and dispassionate or a liar, making the protagonist’s ultimate choice either obvious from page one or too convenient, and it is sort of pet peeve of mine.

 I’ve often thought about writing a book about a woman who is torn between two men but, if I do, I aim to create two equally attractive contenders (both on the inside and out) for my character’s heart such that readers might actually have opposing views on who is right for her. I want my character to do some heavy lifting to figure out, not who is the better man, but who is the better man for her. I know this will be difficult which might explain why none of the books I’ve written so far (and I’m on my third) feature true love triangles! In my opinion, Emily Giffin did it really well in Love The One Your With between Leo and Andy. While I knew Andy was ultimately the right guy for Ellen, part of me yearned for her to choose Leo. Good ‘ole Boy Andy was not fatally flawed in any way and Leo, while more brooding, was not painted the villain – they were just two very different men vying for the affection of one woman who ultimately followed her heart and made the right choice for her. Movies that did it well, in my opinion, were Sweet Home Alabama and Maid of Honor. While Reese Witherspoon’s character in Sweet Home Alabama ultimately picked her first love from high school, it wasn’t because her NYC boyfriend played by Patrick Dempsey was phony, selfish or really in love with someone else. Reese’s character chose the man played by Josh Lucas because, in her heart, she knew she’d never stopped loving him. In Maid of Honor, Patrick’s Dempsey’s character ultimately won the heart of the leading lady, but it wasn’t because her betrothed Colin was a jerk, it was because she had loved Tom all along. Fans of The Hunger Games created “Team Peeta” and “Team Gale” for a reason – because there was no obvious right or wrong choice; it was a matter of who Catniss deemed to be the better man for her. You know a love triangle is good when there are opposing views – Pacey vs. Dawson (Team Pacey), Peyton vs. Brooke (Team Brooke), Kelly vs. Brenda (team Brenda).

It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed novels with predictable or convenient love triangles, but I much prefer riding shotgun on the heroine’s journey as she figures out what she wants rather than being three steps ahead of her because the author has spoon-fed me the answer.

What are your feelings on love triangles? What have been your favorite or least favorite love triangles?

And the winners are…

In the past two weeks, I have hosted two giveaways for a free e-copy of Just Friends With Benefits.

The first giveaway was in honor of reaching 300 fans on my book’s Facebook page. I’m pleased to announce that the winners of that giveaway are Michele W and Jane Cook.

The second giveaway was part of the Chick Lit Author Blog Hop. The winner of that giveaway is Kassandra.

I will be in touch with the winners by email shortly. Congratulations!  I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.  To everyone else, thank you for participating. I hope you will consider buying my book anyway 🙂 Otherwise stay tuned as I will probably host another giveaway to honor the release of my 2nd book, Planet of the Flakes, later this year.

 

my second novel is being published!

I am way overdue for a blog, I know. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to blog, it’s just I’ve been too busy crossing my fingers, twiddling my hair and chewing my fingernails while awaiting the fate of my 2nd novel.

Well, I can finally announce that my second novel, Planet of the Flakes, has been contracted by Booktrope Publishing, a small press publisher based out of Seattle. I’m totally stoked!!

This time around, I actually had choices, which was both a good and bad thing. It was good because it’s always better to have more than one choice than no choice at all, but it was bad because having choices means making a decision and making a decision comes with the risk of making the wrong one. That being said, I made my choice and I think (and certainly hope) it was the right one. I’m beyond excited! (And, yes, I am aware that I said that already but at least I expressed the same emotion using different words the second time around. It’s the least I can do as a writer!)

What is Planet of the Flakes about? So glad you asked! Here’s a blurb:

After ending things with her first-ever boyfriend of nine years and waiting the requisite 365 days to avoid a dreaded rebound relationship, twenty-six-year-old Jane Frank is finally ready to fall in love for the second and hopefully last time. Jane doesn’t care if she meets “the one” via online dating, at a single’s event or through the law firm where she is employed as a paralegal, as long as she is in a loving, committed relationship by the time she starts law school in a year.

Jane dives head first into the New York City dating scene only to discover it is infested with flakes who are interested today and gone tomorrow without so much as a phone call, voicemail, email, text message or even Post-it note. At first Jane tries to maintain her optimistic spirit, but it is an uphill battle. Eventually she decides to turn the tables and discovers she much prefers pulling the disappearing act to being on the receiving end of it.

And before you ask, this is not based on my life! Jane Frank is nothing like Meredith Schorr, although I will admit it was my own experiences in the NYC dating world that inspired the idea.

I do not have a release date yet for Planet of the Flakes but I will be sure to keep you updated. In the meantime, my first book Just Friends With Benefits is available on Amazon, Fictionwise, www.wings-press.com and B&N (coming soon).