Archive for June, 2006
June 26, 2006
Ah, the GLAMOROUS Life of a Published Author!
You’d love to know what it’s really like, wouldn’t you. Ah, the life of an author. Press conferences. Calls from publishers and agents who are trying to steal you away. Champagne. Caviar. Designer clothes. Flights across the country accompanied by a personal handler who takes care of everything.
Appearances on the Imus in the Morning Show and Good Morning America (in that order, otherwise Don Imus gets his knickers in a tangle and he might say you’re fat after you leave the studio).
Lying on the sofa eating healthy snacks while you dictate into a machine, which your secretary will transcribe into Pulitzer-winning literary masterpieces.
Not even close.
As her alter ego who knows everything she does, allow me to describe Beth Anderson’s typical morning for you:
She wakes up far too early because the cats are hungry and walking on her head.
Gets up, slips on sweats and socks if it’s hot and the air conditioner is on. Slips on sweats and socks if it’s not hot and the air conditioner is not on.
Makes coffee, then feeds the cats. To give them and her credit, they’re trained to sit there with their bibs on, holding their forks, while she gets the coffee going.
Maybe watches fifteen minutes of Imus on MSNBC. Loves it, but she has too much to do, can’t spare the time today.
Notices that Beemer, her boy cat who has a finicky stomach, isn’t eating. He’s lying by his food bowl looking completely disgusted, not to mention mortally wounded that she would even *think* of giving him this horrible stuff to eat.
Which he loved three days ago.
Cleans out his food bowl.
Opens a different can of cat food for him, dumps it in his bowl. Watches to see if he’s eating.
He is–this time.
Puts away clean dishes from previous day.
Washes dishes from last night, after she drains the water she put dishes in last night, intending to wash them right away. (Yes, she has a dishwasher but doesn’t always use it. Right now it’s full of water from her most recent plumbing disaster and she *can’t* use it. In fact, it’s dead.)
Thinks about what brand of dishwasher she wants to buy to replace it after she drains the water out, which will consist of three huge bath towels and an industrial-size mop.
Mercifully puts that out of her mind.
Vacuums all floors because her critique group is meeting here tonight, but first picks up two paper clips and a milk bottle ring the cats have been playing with overnight.
Cleans out the cats’ litter box.
Sweeps floor around the litter box.
Dodges while they all head for the litter box and watches while they all take turns, then drag more litter back out on the floor.
Cleans out the litter box again.
Sweeps around the litter box again.
Thinks about the cat pound for about thirty seconds, until one of them walks past her and thanks her for breakfast and the clean litter box by wrapping its tail around her leg and giving her a hug. She really is a sucker for cats.
Sits down at the kitchen table with her first cup of coffee to hopefully read at least a few pages of a highly recommended book by Lisa Gardner–excellent book, by the way. She’s dying to finish it. It isn’t happening today.
Stares at arc of a 105,000 word book sitting on the table that she has promised to review this month.
She’s a very slow reader. It won’t get done *this* month. Sometime in July, though. Good thing she works well under pressure.
Stares at another book, this one by Chris Roerden, that she’s dying to read, but which has just been moved to third place.
Stares at three-foot-high stacks of books by her friends she wants to read and at the rate she’s going, may never get to.
Gets up, goes to her computer read email.
On the way there, stares at bookshelves full of books she plans to read when she has time.
There isn’t much email yet except three bulletins from three major online news websites announcing that some prime minister in some obscure country she never heard of may resign.
Delete. Delete. Delete.
Checks her website stats. This is a three-times-a-day deal. The woman is obsessed, but something’s working, her stats keep rising fast. Undoubtedly because of my blog.
Looks longingly at Yahoo Games’ 13 Solitaire Favorites link. She has yet to win more than once every three days or so.
Reluctantly passes for now.
Shuffles papers around for something she was supposed to have done in April, but forgot. (Now she’s waiting for information from several writers’ club members so she can get it done.)
At the rate they read and respond to their emails, that may never get done either.
Listens to see if husband is up yet. He’s not.
Time for more coffee while she opens manuscript she’s doing revisions on.
And all this is before 7 a.m., which I think is disgusting because I love to sleep late. She doesn’t, she often hauls me up early anyway. I have no idea why she puts me through this torture, unless it’s just that she likes my sparkling conversation.
I ask her what keeps her going with her writing, with so many interruptions all throughout her day.
She tells me this: “I love to write. I want to find out what happens in the story.”
What’re you gonna do, eh? I think she keeps hoping she’ll finally find the glamorous life of a writer she thought was going to happen, once upon a time, long, long ago in her fantasyland.
Far be it for me to discourage her, although I know better. I’m not saying a thing.
But I am heading off this morning on another trip with Count Babalallapaloozo, who has forgiven me for my temporary lapse with Kinky Friedman. After all, a trip to a Greek island and an $8,000 ermine and leather sports jacket to protect me from the Chicago winter weather is nothing to sneeze at, right?
Ta ta for now, folks. Love y’all, and thanks so much for stopping by!
June 18, 2006
I’m SO in LOVE with KINKY FRIEDMAN
Looks like Count Babbalallapaloozo is about to become a thing of the past. I saw Kinky on 60 Minutes tonight and I fell hopelessly, desperately (is there any other way?) in love.
But tell me, who would NOT love a man who:
Takes care of so many stray dogs who are just lookin’ for a home. Feeds them, doctors them, loves them all. I have three cats, but still.
Kinky, I’m yours. YoursYoursYoursYoursYours! The dogs got me. I LOVE animals.
He also said something else tonight that rocked my canoe bigtime. He said, on 60 Minutes, that he’s interested in telling the truth. Is THAT a great thing to hear from a man running for political office or WHAT? Truth is something I’m REALLY hooked on myself because I detest liars, mainly because they all assume you’re too stupid to know they’re lying. Always tell me the truth, no matter what, and you’ll find me eating out of your hand sure as God made little green apples and red ones, too, even the ones with worms. I don’t mind a few worms, just don’t ever lie to me.
He’s running for Governor of Texas. Now THAT takes balls, folks. Makes me almost want to move to Texas just so I can vote for him. Or better yet, run the Texas White House for him and plan all his parties and do a little redecorating in my spare time. I have it all worked out in my mind, right down to the new sunken living room with a huge brick fireplace.
Man, I can see that crackling, roaring fireplace now.
Specs available on request, Kinky.
He’s a published author of a lot of very popular books. THAT would get me if nothing else did, even if he didn’t have such a wild sense of humor. But he does. He DOES! He makes people laugh. How sexy is that!
Hey, Kinky, we could trade edits. Interested yet?
He hangs out with the most fabulous people in the universe. No, no, not anyone like Karl Rove or whatzhizname, the Vice Prez. I’m talkin’ WILLIE NELSON! I’m talkin’ KRIS KRISTOFFERSON! Whoa, baby! Imagine the midnight songfests around the campfire back behind the Texas White House! Hot dogs! Barbecued Beans! S’mores!
Bring it to me, Kinky!
Or, if you ask nice, I’ll bring it to you.
Well, I figure if Miss Snark can be hopelessly in love with George Clooney, I can be hopelessly in love with Kinky Friedman, right?
Signing off for now, having just blown the minds of everyone who checks in here to see what Hotclue’s up to this week.
Hotclue’s up to no good. I guarantee it.
Hugs till later this week, y’all. (See, I’m already practing my Texas accent.)
June 9, 2006
A Funny Thing Happened On Our Way to Publication
First, I want to remind y’all that you DO know I’m Beth Anderson’s alter ego, right? I explained all that good stuff back in February on our very first post, but I just thought I should refresh that info for our newest blog readers.
I’m Hotclue, the young, beautiful, goofy one. Beth is the author, the one who plods along doing all the work. We have a good relationship, but I love to make fun of her and she lets me do it because in spite of all her other failings, she has a wild sense of humor and while she takes her work seriously, she doesn’t take herself seriously at all.
Okay, now that we’ve got all that straight…
Today’s blog will probably give published authors a good laugh because most have probably had, or at least heard of a similar experience when they first started on this weird and twisted path. And probably the unpubbed will feel a little better about their own snafus and pitfalls along the way once they read this. (Normal civilians will read it and shake their heads because I’m confirming what they all think anyway: All writers are nuts.)
It all started when Beth wrote her first book. Not the first one published. In all honesty, if there was ever a more unpublishable novel, I have yet to see it. And this was before Beth ever dreamed there was a Hotclue. But I was there watching the whole thing, so I can tell you all about it. I have, in fact, talked about this event when giving Beth’s lectures for her (she’s very shy), so I’m sure she really won’t mind if I torture her one more time about this.
Even if she does I’m going to tell you anyway.
Beth, at the time, knew absolutely nothing about writing a novel, but she did all the author things just the same. She went all over Chicago doing interviews, notebooks and recorder in hand, armed with pens, and me, because although she went, I was always the one who asked the questions. Since she was hell-bent and determined to write a book set in the Twenties, which neither she or I knew anything about, I had a lot of questions to ask.
She sat down at her electric typewriter (don’t laugh, at least there was no email to distract her) and plunked away, finishing her first book–er–draft in about six weeks. All 123 pages of it. Now to be fair, that WAS only the first third of it, but she wanted, at that point to know if she was on the right track. There was really nobody to ask either, because she had a LOT of technical questions only a pro could answer and this was before either of us knew about Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America and all of those other great organizations. It was also before we got on the Internet.
One day in a magazine she saw an ad. (I bet half of you know which ad it was right off.) The one where you send your book AND $275 AND they’ll read it AND if it’s the Great American Novel, your future is set. IF it still needs help, they’ll critique it and get back to you and THEN your future will be set.
Sounded good to Beth because she thought she HAD written the Great American Novel, since it was about a young man involved in starting the first auto industry union in Detroit (Ewwww! Borrrrring!). Since it was set in the Twenties, she called it NICKELS. Please don’t ask me to explain that. I can’t.
She told a couple of friends about the ad. They told her not to do it, that she’d be wasting her money. And I couldn’t stop her–I almost never can when she makes up her mind to do something irrational. But she was determined to hear, from a pro, how she was doing and she knew she couldn’t submit to a publisher since it was only one-third finished. AND the man at the head of all this Publishing Industry Knowledge was a big name agent, SO she wrote the check and sent it along with her 123 pages and waited.
The check was cashed pronto. Her reply from The Big Agency took a little longer. One day about six weeks later when the mailman arrived, there it was. THE ENVELOPE. It was a big envelope, so of course, being Beth, she thought it contained a contract.
It didn’t. It contained a six-page rejection.
Six pages of rejection. Hard, cold, unforgiving rejection.
That’s a LOT of rejection, baby. A LOT.
Enough to scar the average normal person forever. But we already established, didn’t we, that writers are not your average normal people.
In reading that rejection, it was clear she had done absolutely Not One Single Thing right. At that point, I was keeping a close eye on her to make sure she didn’t pick up anything sharp, but to my vast surprise, she started laughing.
She laughed in the house. She laughed in the car on her way to the store. She laughed halfway through the store. Until she came to the Sugar Frosted Flakes. And suddenly, it all hit her.
Well, I’m embarrassed to tell you, she started crying. Not softly. Not quietly. She cried quite loud, in fact, still staring at the Sugar Frosted Flakes. A couple of women passed by and looked at her, at each other, back at her as if they were thinking, “Well, if she doesn’t like Sugar Frosted Flakes, why doesn’t she just pick something else? It’s not like there aren’t two hundred different kinds of cereal here, after all.”
Beth didn’t care. She just kept crying and tossing things in her cart. I tried my best to stop her because she was grabbing Baby Wipes, which I knew we didn’t need, beef bones, and this was in the middle of the summer when nobody in their right mind was going to make soup. You name it, she tossed it in the basket and cried all the way through the store. Cried at the checkout counter. Cried halfway home and finally got herself under control because she didn’t want to cry in front of our husband. Pulled into the driveway where he was standing, watching her get out of the car because he knew, OH, HE KNEW she had to be terribly upset.
She took one look at him and said, “Don’t sympathize with me, don’t say anything or I’ll start–”
That crying jag went on for about three more hours until she ran out of Kleenex and started using her sleeve.
Finally she ran out of tears and you’re NOT going to believe what she did next. This is SO typical of her. She picked up the phone and had three long-stemmed red roses in a crystal vase (she wouldn’t settle for anything less than crystal) sent to That Agent with a little note: “Watch for me on the New York Times bestseller list.”
Gotta hand it to her, the woman has balls.
Right after that, she took the entire six pages, highlighted everything that could possibly be construed as positive with a yellow highlighter and hung them in her writing room wall where she could see them every day. There wasn’t much yellow on those pages, but any port in a storm, right?
And then she sat back down at that electric typewriter to learn how to write novels.
She says now that she knows it was stupid to send All That Money to That Agent, but at least her first rejection was her worst, and she lived through it. So for $275, if nothing else, her skin grew several inches thicker that day and nothing about the publishing world and all its vagaries has ever bothered her, at least not THAT much.
I think she’s done okay. I REALLY think she’s done okay with the book we just finished, THE SCOUTMASTER’S WIFE.
Maybe That Agent will see her on the New York Times bestseller list yet.
Oh, no, wait–I think he’s dead now. Well hey, if nothing else, she outlived him–a minor triumph, but a triumph just the same. We take our little victories wherever we can find them, right?
For now, loves, it’s the weekend and Beth’s kitchen sink is stopped up and she can’t get a plumber here till Monday, so she has a wonderful weekend to look forward to. Green greasy cold water languishing in the kitchen sink. How appetizing. I get to escape these dreary little life events, so I’m off on Count Babbalallapaloozo’s private jet to meet him in Aruba for a few days. Gotta work on my suntan, don’t’cha know, and by the time I get back the sink will be fixed.
Timing is everything.
So ta ta for now, I’ll see you again in a few days! Love y’all, and come back again soon, ya hear me?
June 2, 2006
HEY, LOOK WHAT SLOANE’S GONE AND DONE NOW!
Sloane Taylor’s FIRST book is out as of yesterday, June 1, 2006, a day that will go down in infamy! Sloane is one of my crit partners and a dang fine one if I do say so myself. Her book, a pretty hot erotica, is titled, TEDDI TURNS ON. (We won’t go into details here, you should go to http://www.triskelion.com and download a copy if you want the details, and with today’s huge focus on erotica novels, who doesn’t?) Or, you could visit her website at http://www.sloanetaylor.com and read a lot of things, including recipes, can you believe it. Recently I asked Sloane if she’d like to do an interview when her book is ready and although I had to beg and plead (yeah, sure ;-)) she finally agreed, so here we go:
Sloane, did you have a desire to write when you were very young?
Hey woman, I’m still young. At least I think so until I look in the mirror. Ugh! To answer your question, not really. I’ve kept a diary or journal since before paper was invented. Sometimes I wrote short stories. My favorite class was English and I loved essays. I had never thought of being a writer let alone try to make a living as one.
Oh wait, you mean we can make a LIVING doing this? Hmmm…well, when did you decide you wanted to write novels?
Ten years ago my husband died. At that time I owned a travel agency and to overcome the grief I literally traveled the world. About four years back a tremendous pressure built in me and grew daily. I began to see these short scenes before me, like watching disjointed movie clips. I wrote the damned things down because it was the only way to clear my head. A friend knew of a group of writers who met weekly, and shoved me in that direction. They welcomed me about three years ago and have suffered through my work ever since. One of the members decided she would be my mentor. I’ve always felt she was either on drugs or desperate for a good laugh. Anyhow, this well-known author who wishes to remain anonymous–the chicken–took me under her wing and spent time, which I’m sure she feels has been an eternity, teaching me the technicals of writing. To her I will always be grateful
What a wonderful, dear, sweet, beautiful and talented friend she must be! 😉 What made you decide this?
It was never a conscious decision. It was a path I stumbled onto.
You’re currently writing erotica. Tell us about your first book, TEDDI TURNS ON.
TEDDI TURNS ON is about a widow who owns a travel agency. Gee, what a surprise! She gets screwed over by a German tour operator on a group tour contract. Her only recourse is to confront him, face-to-face, and force him to honor their agreement. Along the way she meets David, who owns a successful boot manufacturing company. He’s not a cold man, sex is an important part of his life, but commitment is not. Teddi hasn’t yet learned to let go of the past. The attraction she feels for David brings on guilt she doesn’t know how to deal with. Their story is a learning experience for both people.
Ah, I see! An erotic learning experience, right? You have more books planned in this series. Tell us about the series concept that got you a four book contract right off the bat.
All the characters are older, thirty-five plus. I’m older and got sick of reading all the cutesy, perfectly shaped girls who got the guy. I wanted to read about women and how they solved real life problems. I figured the best way to do that was write it. The Magnificent Men of Munich series is based on four university friends who have become successful men in their chosen fields. Their lives weave in and out of each others’, leaving little time for women unless it’s a one-night stand. Each has a problem from their past they refuse to face. The four American women these guys hook up with all have a connection of some sort to the travel agency. Each woman has a unique strength that attracts their man, thus allowing him to recognize and overcome his weakness.
Oh, I’ve gotta read THOSE books for sure! So, after you do them, what’s next?
Wow! Do you have enough time and space for all that info? There are five more books in various stages of progress. All are romances and definitely erotic. Two are a series and two others will be suspense. (I have a lot of faith in my publisher, don’t I?)
I guess! Sloane, you’re doing a lot of promo. Tell us about it. What do you like least about doing it, and why?
I’m a “not in your face” type of person, so for me it’s daunting and a hell of a lot of work, but it has to be done if I want people to know about my book. On my publisher’s loops I read everything other writers were doing to promote but some of it just didn’t suit my personality. I did feel comfortable about pens, so with the help of friends we built the Ink Infantry. (Stop laughing. It works.) Each of these people took a bag full of pens and my postcards then distributed them to everyone they know. Conferences need goody bag items so I selected five across the US and one in Germany to ship pens and postcards. To celebrate the release of TEDDI TURNS ON we are doing drawings on June 1, 5, and 8. Each day two people will win a bath scrubby and two bars of honey soap featured in each of my books. Also, I hooked up with Coffee Time Romance, Road to Romance, and Romance Junkies to advertise my book. Copies of Teddi Turns On were sent to them, along with Rendezvous and Wantz Upon a Time, for reviews. Now I’m biting my nails to the quick, waiting to see what’s said about my baby.
And your baby was finally born yesterday, congratulations! (SECRETARY, OH SECRETARY, please order a silver mug and have it sent to Sloane, will you?) So what do you like best about doing promo, Sloane?
That I hired Karen Simpson as my publicist. The woman is a dynamo and sets up reviews, interviews, lectures, anything she can think of.
How do your family and friends feel about your writing career?
My true friends were elated when they heard the good news that my first book was being published. My adult daughter is supportive, but wishes I didn’t write erotica. I guess no kid, no matter how old, wants mom to know too much about sex. Studly, my S/O, thinks it’s cool and prods me forward daily. My critique partners are brilliant writers who have no problem offering advice or vetoing a scene. My mentor faithfully wields her 2×4 across my backside when I get lazy. See? This is all good stuff and uplifting to a writer.
Now…the other part of the family and other friends…by their reaction you’d think I’d authored the DaVinci Code and they were the Spanish Inquisition. They had a variety of reactions. Some were glad to know I’d developed a little hobby to fill in my spare time. Others were positive “this little fancy” would pass when I realized no one was interested in anything I had to write. My favorites were the ones who, after I announced the book was sold, immediately changed the subject. Nice people, huh? What they haven’t figured out is, their negativity and jealousy won’t hold me back.
Now that you’ve done the deed, what do you think is the most important thing anybody who wants to write novels has to do first?
Decide if writing is a hobby or a career. If you want it as your career then treat it as such. Develop a writing regimen. Join a critique group. And learn, learn everything you can get your hands on. No one is so good they have nothing to learn from another human being.
And after that?
Get your ass into the chair and write.
You’ve traveled extensively all over the world. If you had a choice, where would you love to live right now?
I would never give up my American citizenship, nor would I become an ex-patriot. So with that in mind, I’d like to live on the Geisberg, a mountain just outside Salzburg, Austria, for one year. I’d have to have a roof over my head and that roof would be the Hotel Kobenzl, a luxury spa hotel with all the balconies overlooking Salzburg. That atmosphere would be very conducive for my writing.
When you’re writing, what holds you up most, if anything?
Myself. I procrastinate unless I’m super excited about my project and then I won’t stop to sleep.
What do you feel is the most important thing to understand when you become a published author, and how did you go about understanding it yourself?
Unlike the diet du jour we switch off whenever a tempting dessert appears, or in my case a fresh jar of mayonnaise, you’ve made a commitment. There’s now a publisher who had enough faith in you to offer a contract. Readers have decided to spend their hard earned money on your book. You have to live up to that commitment and produce better books.
How do I understand that myself? That’s another toughie. After all the excitement and celebrating settled down I had an epiphany. This wasn’t a game or a fluke. This was the real thing, and my life had made a major right turn onto the high road. It scared me to death, so I had a long talk with myself to determine if I could handle being an author. After I tossed aside my barf bag and calmed down, I knew I could because I love writing and I’m good at it. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not an Ernest Hemingway nor do I profess to be like him. I’ve just learned there’s a God given talent in me and I need to use it, cause I don’t want to mess with the Big Guy.
This JUST cracks me up–you’re also a gourmet cook. What’s your favorite food that you love to cook?
Italian because it’s the easiest. No measuring. It’s all by taste and the aroma that fills the house is the best.
So what’s your favorite food when you go to a restaurant?
This might tick off the animal rights activists, but it’s veal. All menus I see have a big neon arrow pointing right at those tender little medallions.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Let’s see, the phone never rings, my cup of hot water and fresh lime juice is endless, and 4,000 flawless words magically appear on my computer. Don’t ask for much do I? .
Okay, we get the picture, you never have perfect days. What keeps you going as a writer?
My mentor and Studly. I’ve built this image in my mind that if I let either of them down by not producing, I’ve failed them and they’ll be disappointed in me. (Giving away too much info here.)
Anything else you’d like to add, either personal or professional, or both?
Professionally – If a person is serious about writing as their career choice they must remember that writing is a business. There’s no room or time to be anything but being professional. You can’t run and hide after a rejection or negative comment. Those things must spur you on to be better. Keep your mind open to new things. You’ll never stop learning unless you choose to, and that’s a shame because no one is that smart. Should writing become “work”, get the hell out of the profession. Negative attitudes will shine through in your writing.
Personally – Life should be fun or at least have many happy aspects to it. People make their own fun. You can’t rely on others to do it for you. So how do I do it? Many years ago a very good friend said she eliminated anyone from her life that dragged her down. Gwen didn’t mean the person who had problems they needed to discuss and wanted to resolve, she meant the whiners and bitchers who never let up and therefore change you. I’ve adopted her policy and my life has changed one hundred percent.
Sloane, thanks for dropping by and allowing me to blast to the entire universe that you’ve got a new book out. Folks, I read it and it is very, very good. Go nab it.
And thanks, loves, for dropping by my blog. I’m leaving in a few days for Mt. McKinley with Count Babbalallapaloozo, mountain climbing, don’tcha know, and don’t worry, our chefs and assistants are coming with us. I’ll have my laptop, so you’ll see me again in a few days. Until then, stay well, stay safe, and I love y’all,