Monday, April 28, 2008

This Writer's Life: Time Management

I am a guest blogger today at Melissa Walker's blog. She is the fantastic author of the Violet Series. I wrote about something that I was once familiar with and now with my post-pregnancy body long for the days that I could actually wear; an itty bitty turquoise string bikini!

Time Management

Wow so I guess the fact that I am writing this blog at 8:24 pm thirteen hours after I wanted to get it posted let's you know that right now I am struggling with the topic of time management.

A shift in the family schedule has caused my writing life to go a little topsy turvy. I usually begin working early in the morning. I always enjoy writing but have been most productive when I write from seven am to noon take a lunch break and then write again from two pm to four. But lately, I've had to shuffle my schedule and write from ten to noon again from two to four and then squeeze in some time after the girls are in bed. And although I am getting the same number of hours or close to it, I've noticed that since I now have constraints on my time I'm becoming more productive.

When I was an attorney, a judge I had cases before often said 'only busy people get things done.' I admit that I tend to be the most productive, the tighter my schedule. Less time to goof about, I guess. Not nearly as much internet surfing, or emailing, or dawdling or phone call making. No, right now, as I adjust to my new schedule, I find that I am actually buckling down and getting a load more work accomplished than I feared I might. Although, as you can see from this late in the day post...well...I'm still getting the kinks out.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Annette Fix and The Break-Up Diet

I am so pleased to have Annette Fix, author of her memoir The Break-Up Diet as our guest blogger today.

I have to admit, the most svelte, sexiest, skinniest, hottest I've ever been was always 3 months post break-up. The worse the break-up the thinner I became. I am happy to know that I am not alone...

My Un-Hollywood Secret
by Annette Fix

I’ve always wanted to be famous. Not run-of-the-mill famous for things like night-vision sex tapes, stints in rehab, and panty malfunctions—I mean reeeeally famous, like the way the bank manager immediately recognizes you because of the size of your account balance.

I think my obsession with fame started with my voracious reading appetite as a teenager, consuming a buffet of paperback Jackie Collins novels. But here’s the rub, no matter how cool I think it would be, I could never be Hollywood famous.

Why, you ask?

1) I suck at recognizing stars and I’m even worse at remembering names. And I think my celebrity unsavvyishness has been passed down to my offspring. It took 30 minutes of Q&A to finally figure out that when my son said he met “That old actor guy with the mole on his face.”—he meant Robert De Niro. That just proves my point. I’ve realized that you can’t play with the in-crowd if you don’t know who they are.

2) I’m not that interesting. I don’t have a giant ass and haven’t posed for Playboy. I haven’t behaved like a bitch on a reality show to milk my 15 minutes. And I’ve never been chased by TMZ photogs. I’ve realized that you can’t become famous unless you do something extreme.

What’s a fame-hungry girl to do?

Um…how about write a book? It worked for that British lady with the wizard fetish. So, I decided to take the advice “write what you know.” I penned The Break-Up Diet, a memoir about my boil-the-bunny obsession with my ex, my swan dive into the shallow end of the dating pool, and more personal skeletons-in-the-mental-closet details of my single mom sex life than any sane reader wants to know. Think Bridget Jones’ Diary, if Bridget were a stripper and trapped in an episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County. What can I say; it’s my life.

Look out, Diablo Cody, I’m just one platform stiletto behind you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Radio Tour

I LOVE the radio. And tomorrow is one of most favorite parts of being an author, tomorrow I do part of my radio tour.

6:10 am Pacific Time USA RADIO, Daybreak USA with Scott West

9:30 am Eastern WHAM Rochester NY, Chet and Beth with Chet and Beth

9:40 am Eastern WLW-AM Cincinnati OH, The Jim Scott Show with Jim Scott

9:50 am Eastern Cable Radio Network, Cable Talk with Jack Roberts

10:00 am Eastern KJTZ-FM, Abilene TX, Jalapeno and Company with Andy Olvera

8:50 am Mountain KCMN-AM Colorado Springs CO, Tron in The Morning with Tron Simpson

11:30 am Eastern WNCQ-FM Upstate NY, Jason in the Morning with Jason Langstaff

10:40 am Central WRHL-AM Rochelle IL, Conversations with Kelly Prindle

12:35 pm Eastern WRVC-AM Huntington W.VA, Viewpoint with Jean Dean

12:35 pm Central WKRS-AM Chicago IL, The Sandee and Clint show with Sandee and Clint

So tune in and take a listen. I'm sure we'll discuss Hollywood Girls Club and Secrets of The Hollywood Girls Club as well as any other dishy dirty stuff that we want to talk about.

Monday, April 21, 2008

This Writer's Life: Finding The Agent

Wow, so I get a whole lot of emails asking how can an unpublished writer get an agent?

I am going to make a very Zen that when I was unpublished would have annoyed the f*&^ out of me...

When the manuscript is ready, the Agent will appear.

Oh yeah? Very easy for you to say...Miss already published writer.

Okay...I'm not saying exactly that an 'agent-genie' will pop out of your diet coke can asking if they can represent your manuscript. But what I am saying is get your manuscript ready. Don't worry about the agent. Don't worry about finding a publisher. Don't worry about all those are getting way ahead of yourself. And wasting time and energy. Don't worry. Instead, do the work.

That's right, do the work.

Write the entire manuscript. From start to finish. All 250 pages, or 280 pages or 320 pages...(I wouldn't go much over 400 pages). Write the whole darn thing. And then print the manuscript out. Read the entire manuscript...start to finish...ignoring typos, and problems, and story structure.

And then--put the manuscript away.

Away? Like on a shelf or in a closet or under a bed?

Yes Away. For two weeks...or longer. Then read the manuscript again.

Wow, this feels like a different manuscript.

Uh-huh. Now, mark it up. Take a very deep breath. Ready?





The entire thing?


Jeez,that takes too long.


But I want an agent now.


To know if I'm wasting my time....

Ah-hah! So the reason you search for an agent before the manuscript is finished is to bolster your moral. Prove to your fragile writing ego that your scribblings aren't in vain. But, grasshopper, that is not an agent's, no, no, an agent is not meant to be the 'thing' that keeps you writing. No a writer writes. Whether they have an agent, a publication contract, a story...whether they have confidence, a computer or paper and pen...a writer writes. An agent sells. Write, rewrite, do your part and then when your manuscript is polished to shine like a diamond, the agent will appear.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Dirt: A Woman In Hollywood

Movie Scripts and Television Pilots

This week I've been working on a couple projects, all in different stages of completion (except for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as those three days were eaten up by the release of Secrets of The Hollywood Girls Club). I've noticed that my writing process for scripts, whether it's for television or film, is different and yet the same than when I am working on a novel.

First, writing a novel I think is much like running a marathon...not that I've run a marathon...I'd like to, eventually..but...I digress. When I write a manuscript it is the slow and steady plodding every day. Especially with the first draft, each day chipping away at the story, writing and getting the first draft on paper and the word count up. Then next comes the rewrite, and I never know how long the rewrite will take.

When I write a script, it feels like a sprint. Perhaps because there is so little exposition and so much script page might take 2, 3, or 5 pages in manuscript format.

And yet, the similarities in the writing process for both a manuscript and a script are striking...I hear a voice, I see a scene, I dash to my computer to write everything down. I become incredibly confused in the center of whatever the project, because I so clearly see the end and have no idea how I'm going to get there. I fall in love with certain scenes, lines, chapters that don't make the cut...instead they get cut. I always *want* to believe the first draft is all the work I need to do...that it's perfect but know in my heart if I rewrite and polish and rewrite again, the story will be so so so much better served by my hard work.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Laura Caldwell

Laura Caldwell's newest book The Good Liar is an excellent thriller. Laura made the transition from Women's Fiction/Chicklit to Thriller writing seamlessly. She was kind enough to answer some of my nosy questions...

I write in the morning. When do you write?

In the morning, too, although not necessarily because I'm a morning person. It's just
that if I don't get something done--pages, research, editing--it chases me around all day and I'm tortured. I used to have this thing about not checking email or phone until I finished a certain amount of words, but that stellar habit seems to be eroding lately.

Why do you write?

Ah, so we're just getting right to it, huh? Zero to fifty in six sentences. : ) I guess I write because I always have these stories in my head, these scenarios and questions....What if there was a woman who got married to a fabulous man but he turned out to be lying to her about who he was? What if a fashion designer married an Irish actor and he became uber famous right after they got married? What if a girlfriend's trip to Italy led to blackmail and murder? The fact that I'm getting to play them all out now is amazing, and I'm grateful for it all the time.

Who are your biggest writing influences?

I'm not sure I have any particular influences, and my favorite books are always changing. Right now I'm reading The Sun Rises Slowly by Erna Paris, a book about the International Criminal Court, because I'm teaching that topic in Rome this summer. I'm also reading a memoir called Extraordinary Circumstances by Cynthia Cooper because it's about an everyday woman pulled into an incredible situation, and that's sort of the kind of memoir I'm working on right now, too. Lastly, I always have a mystery going, so I'm reading a new book by Joy Fielding called Charley's Web.

Have you got any tips for budding writers?

Budding writers have heard this before, but it's all in the discipline. It doesn't have to be mega-discipline. It just has to be setting of a goal and sticking to it maybe 50% of the time. My weekly goal when I was first writing (while I was also practicing law) was simply that I was going to sit down and write one time during the week. It's amazing what starts to add up when you sit down just once a week and get something out.

How do you deal with writers block?

I can't talk about writer's block. I'm superstitious, and I'm afraid if I talk about it it will happen. I'm moving onto the next question and pretending you never said that...

You are an attorney, as well as a writer, how does this help or hinder your
writing process?

I think it helped tremendously. One of the biggest complaints of attorneys is that they have to bill hours, but billing forces you to be disciplined which spills over well into the writing world.

You wrote a number of women's fiction titles before writing thrillers; The Rome Affair and The Good Liar. How did you make that transition and why?

I wrote Burning the Map, my first novel about a girlfriend's trip to Italy and Greece, before there was a market for chick lit. When I couldn't sell that, I started writing a mystery. So when I finally got my foot in the door, I was writing both. And I was lucky enough to have an agent and an editor who supported whatever I wanted to do.

The internet has a nasty habit of luring me in and stopping me writing!
What’s your procrastination vice?

It's a trap! You think, "I'm just going to check one email," and next thing you know you're researching a bike trip to Machu Picchu and you've lost three hours. I try to turn off my wireless internet, but it's just too damned easy to turn it back on.

When you become the a billionaire through writing, what will you do with
your life? Will you still write?

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I can't ever imagine not writing. But the tricky thing about life is that there are a lot of things you can't imagine and sometimes the gods still throw them at you.

What do you love most about the book you’ve just written/released?

The thing I love most about The Good Liar is that it's an international thriller that moves from Russia to New York to Brazil, but at it's core it's about an average Chicago woman who finds herself in an unbelievably un-average situation. I love stories about everyday girls.

What are you working on now?

A few things. Mostly I'm working on my "Red" series that will come out next summer featuring a sassy, redheaded lawyer from Chicago who keeps finding herself in a mess of trouble (hmmm, sounds like someone I know. Note to self: see therapist soon). The first one is Red Hot Lies, the second Red Blooded, the third tentatively titled Code Red. They are all coming out in the summer of 2009.

What do you want the reader to take away from your book?

I want a reader to be entertained first and foremost, but I always hope that the books are thought provoking too.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Secrets of The Hollywood Girls Club

Today is publication day! Secrets of The Hollywood Girls Club is now available. Today is the second publication day in my publishing career. I must say this publication day feels different than the first. Different how? Well, I'm excited about Secrets and yet, I'm not obsessed.

Hollywood Girl Club was almost like a first child, where you plan and plan for the birth. Feathering your nest, buying clothes, and every gadget and gizmo made for babies. And then with the second child, (at least for me) you relax a little. You realize that for a new baby you need diapers, blankets, lotion, and some onesies. And you're calmer, you've been down this road of labor, birth, and new baby before. That's kind of how I feel about Secrets of The Hollywood Girls Club. I am just as excited as with Hollywood Girls Club, just as thrilled, feeling just as blessed, and that amazing feeling of abundance but not as anxious or uncertain.

I am joyful that everyone can now read Secrets of The Hollywood Girls Club. I really love this book. Also, THANK YOU! Thank you to each and every one of you who bought Hollywood Girls Club and who have bought or are going to buy Secrets of The Hollywood Girls Club. Thank you for taking the time to read the books. Thank you for your kind emails and wonderful reviews. Thank you.

I am very blessed and my life is filled with abundance.

Monday, April 14, 2008

This Writer's Life

This Writer's Life today and the past week is a blurrrrr.... Tomorrow is my second release day and I've found (since I'm now a veteran) that the normal rhythm's of my writer's life get disrupted near the release of a book. I'm not complaining, how could I, or anyone complain about their book being released into the world? This is a beautiful, wonderful, truly abundant event, the release of my words, Secrets of The Hollywood Girls Club. But, the actual release of a book takes a whole lot of time.

Suddenly personally imposed deadlines for rewrites and first drafts get pushed. Blogs that are meant to be written (ahem) don't. And my house? Well my house which is under normal circumstances a refuge for dust bunny's and dirty clothes seems to take on an extra layer of dust and grime. Because, the normal routine is just off.

But I choose to embrace this difference, with all it's ups and downs...fits and starts...dirt and grime. I embrace it and thank the universe wholeheartedly for it, because it is in these moments, this day, that I am not only a writer, but I am a published writer. And although not the goal for all writers, for me, publishing is a wonderful achievement, like winning the gold medal at the end of the race. And although during the days leading up to OSD (on sale date) and the weeks immediately after my routine is disrupted and filled with guest blogs, radio, interviews, and personal appearances...every single bit of this abundance is worth it, because the entire time, I feel like I've won the gold!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Contest Winners

And the winner is.....

I can't tell you.

Of course I can't because the winners are the best ever Secret Keepers...and how could I possibly go and blab their names on the internet? I can tell you that if you won, you got an email this morning. I can also tell you that some of the Secrets? word...Wow! You guys are the best Secret Keepers in the world. I laughed, I cried, I giggled, I felt honored that you chose to share your Secrets with me.

And of course we can't no no. These Secrets are too good. And the book, Secrets of The Hollywood Girls Club, is about to come out. And I've heard from so many of you that sharing your Secrets in this private way feels so good, so freeing. So keep the Secrets coming. I am running the contest for the month of April. If you've entered once and haven't won, your Secrets will remain in the contest for April. But if you haven't entered yet...well send me a Secret. Shhhh, I won't tell.