Friday, February 26, 2010

Who Needs Superman When You Have Biblioburro?

Before we moved to California, I attended a small primary school in Massachusetts. We didn't have a school library, we had a bookmobile - a large RV-ish vehicle that travelled to schools to loan books to children. The inside of the bookmobile was lined with shelves packed with children's books for all ages and all reading levels. Our town wasn't that small and did have a library, but I don't recall ever visiting it as a child. All my books came from the bookmobile. It was my first taste of reading for pleasure. Of picking out my own books. It was as good as being allowed to pick out my own candy from the corner Five and Dime (yes, I am that old).

In rural Columbia they don't have bookmobiles. But they do have the Biblioburro.

I kid you not.

This morning as I was cruising through, I came across the story of Luis Soriano, a primary school teacher in Columbia concerned about illiteracy in the rural parts of his country. So what did this enterprising man do? He threw books on the backs of donkeys and created the Biblioburro. Each week he leaves his own family and travels for hours over rough terrain to visit and teach children in poor villages

This story made my day.

Senor Soriano, you are a true hero.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

No Book Left Behind

Last Saturday was the launch party for Corpse on the Cob, book #5 in the Odelia Grey mystery series. It was a lot of fun with about 30-35 lively people in attendance. And, as always, the folks at The Mystery Book Store rocked! Lots of books were sold, lots of pie eaten, lots of wine imbibed.

During the launch I talked about Corpse on the Cob, Ghost in a Polka Dot Bikini (coming Feb. 2011) and Murder in Vein (coming Sept. 2010), and even gave folks a look into Odelia #6 (coming June 2011). One of the questions I received during the Q&A was whether or not, now that I have so many books in the works and in various stages of completion, Corpse on the Cob is old news to me even though it's just now being released. After all, I wrote Corpse on the Cob over a year ago. Since then I have written two other books and started on Odelia #6.

Truth is, January 2009, when I turned in Corpse on the Cob to my publisher, does seem like a lifetime ago. In February 2009, at the launch party for Booby Trap, I was so excited to tell folks about my upcoming new Ghost of Granny Apples series and about the next Odelia, Corpse on the Cob. At that time, Murder In Vein, or even the idea for a vampire mystery series, wasn't even on my radar, let alone something I was talking about.

WOW, what a difference a year makes!

Hell, what a difference five months makes!

In September 2009, at the launch of Ghost a la Mode, I remember taking my agent aside and telling her I had an idea for a vampire mystery series. She said to send her some sample chapters. Since then I've struck a 3-book deal for the series and completed the first book. I've even started the 2nd book.

Thinking about this makes that question about Corpse on the Cob seeming like old news to me hit home.

Sometimes I feel like Odelia is being pushed aside to make room for the new kids on the block. I hope she doesn't think I'm replacing her with shiny new toys. It's just that new babies need more attention. Even if her nose is bent a bit out of shape, I'm sure she'll understand once she thinks about it. In the end Odelia will benefit, too. Of course, I may have to bribe her with Thin Mints or a carton of Ben and Jerry's.

I've just finished 25% of the new Odelia Grey book. This will be book 6 in the series. The working title is Body Bingo. From the ease with which this book is flowing, I don't think Odelia is holding a grudge.

We're pals to the end.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Talk to the Hand

I've taken my bitch pills again today.

After a great workout with Justen, I came home (in a great mood, mind you) to find one of my neighbors pulling out of her parking space ... and leaving her gate open.

At the apartment building where I live, we park in stalls that have iron gates. The gates serve no purpose except to be annoying. They aren't locked and sometimes are difficult to open and close. In order to pull your car in or out, you must open your gate, enter or leave, then get out of your car and close your gate before driving off. If you leave your gate open, then your neighbor must close your gate in order to get to his or her car. We've asked that the gates be removed, but the owner insists in keeping them. Sometimes, like when a garbage truck is coming down the alley or there's a lot of alley traffic, you can't get out and close it without causing a tie up, but that's the exception, not the rule.

Okay, so several months ago a new neighbor moved in. She NEVER FREAKING CLOSES her gate, leaving it for me and 3 other tenants to close it if we want to use our parking spots. Even when she's arrives home, she refuses to close it. Other neighbors have spoken to her about it and have told me she simply ignores them. Today she was pulling out of her stall as I was returning home from the gym. She didn't close her gate as usual. As she drove past me I yelled at her: CLOSE YOUR GATE.

She stopped her SUV, climbed out of her car, and proceeded to explain that this morning she had a 104 fever and was on her way to the doctor. It was 8:05 a.m. She was dressed to the nines, with full makeup and not a hair out of place. She's trim and fit and quite attractive. 104 fever my fat ass!

When I asked her what her excuse was every other day, she started giving me a litany of complaints: shoulder injury, headaches, tired, you name it. I told her to save it for someone else and to close her gate in the future, it's all I ask.

Then she did something that really pissed me off - she played the age card. Oh yeah, she did. She announced to me that she doesn't close her gate because she is "almost 62 years old." (Notice how fast she dropped the 104 fever act.) Now that age thing might work on someone else, like one of our younger neighbors, but on my 57+ ass, no way! And I told her so. I let her know that I was nearly her age so that excuse wasn't gonna fly and shame on her!

Fess up neighbor lady: You're lazy. You're a prima dona. You're not a good neighbor. You're self-centered. Pick one and stick to it, but don't try to sell the helpless old lady bit to me, not unless you're pushing 70 or using a walker or cane or have an arm in a sling. (Trust me, this woman was pretty damn fit looking.)

I know this woman will still NEVER CLOSE HER GATE, and I'm going to have to live with that. It is what it is. And I am thankful she lives on another floor and I almost never see her. Even if I do, I can hold my own.

Okay - two bitch sessions in one week. I'm blaming this one on Odelia. I'm working on Odelia book #6 right now and accosting an inconsiderate neighbor is definitely something Odelia would do. I've got my Odelia game face on. You think my neighbor will buy that as an excuse for my bitchiness?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In the Pink - Make That Blue

I'm discussing my male readers over at Inkspot today.

Come on over and say hello.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Danger, Bitch Ahead.

I swore at my trainer today. Well, actually, I didn't swear AT him, but I did swear and growl a lot during my work out. You see, I woke up in a foul mood this morning and usually I don't.


I'm one of those annoying types who usually wakes up with a smile on my face and a sunny attitude, even if I've only gotten a few hours of sleep. I don't even need coffee to perk me up. Not sure why I didn't wake up cheerful today, but I didn't. I woke up ready to cry my eyes out and kick the cat box. (Please note, I said cat box, not cat.)

Today was measure and weigh-in day at the gym. I can see a lot of you nodding in understanding. Weigh-ins will put a woman in a foul mood every time. Right? But I've lost weight and inches. Not as much as I had hoped by now, but enough to feel and see the difference both in my clothes and in my general well being and stamina.

I can now do 100 crunches a day - HAH!

My trainer's name is Justen Grant. He's a lovely man and was recently named one of Bally's top trainers for their entire Western Region. Justen knows what he's doing. Me? Not so much. I haven't a clue what I'm doing. I just know I want to be healthier and fitter and shop in stores other than those that carry plus sizes.

I also know I want to participate in and finish the 2011 LA Marathon in 13 months. Count 'em - 13. Between now and then I have to deliver 3 new books to my publisher. With a schedule like that, those 13 months are gonna fly by in the blink of a computer screen. But even with such a heavy writing schedule, I know I can get myself in shape for the Marathon. What's more, the exercise clears my head so that I write better and faster and with more dedication. It's a win-win.

So what's the $#*&!$ problem today? I have no idea. Maybe it's the mental and physical let down after delivering Murder In Vein to my publisher in record time. Maybe it's worry over my upcoming insane schedule. Maybe it's simply hormonal.

Whatever it is - GO THE HELL AWAY! Now. This minute. We're talking don't let the door hit you on your ass on the way out kind of go away. I need my focus back and my head in both the writing and workout game. And I won't take no for an answer or listen to any lame ass whining.

Got that, Sue Ann?!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Natural Born Liars - My Answers

Here are the answers to my Natural Born Liars Quiz. There were 2 true statements. Thanks for playing!

I won money on a TV game show. - Yes. $4,000 about 15 years ago on a show on a minor network.

My mother was a NYC Rockette. - I'm sure my mom is rolling in her grave laughing at this one. She, btw, LOVED the Rocketts.

One of my cats had a sex change. - Not a chance, though my male cat is rather fastidious.

I was once married to a man I met on a cruise ship. - Dallied with, yes, married, NO.

I threw up in front of Bob Barker. - No, but I met him years ago.

Jack Nicholson once tried to pick me up. - Yes. About 35 years ago, Nicholson tried to pick up me and two girlfriends as we were walking from a theatre in Hollywood to our car. He was hanging out of his car calling to us, "Hey, girls, want to go to a party?" We voted 2 against 1 not to accept his invitation. I was a nay vote. Ask me now, Jack.

I'm related to Michelle Obama. - Only in spirit.

I've been arrested twice. - Not even once, though I'm sure there have been reasons over the years.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Natural Born Liars - It's a Game, Folks!

Okay folks, sit back and enjoy or play along, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

Are Authors Natural Born Liars? That seems to be the question or point of this exercise.

This fun award was created by Lesa Holstein at Lesa's Book Critiques.

The rules are simple.

1.Thank the person who gave this to you. Thanks goes out to Hannah Dennison.

2.Copy the logo and place it on your blog. Done

3.Link to the person who nominated you. See #1 above.

4.Tell us up to six outrageous lies about yourself, and at least one outrageous truth.

I won money on a TV game show.
My mother was a NYC Rockette.
One of my cats had a sex change.
I was once married to a man I met on a cruise ship
I threw up in front of Bob Barker.
Jack Nicholson once tried to pick me up.
I'm related to Michelle Obama.
I've been arrested twice.

5. Allow your readers to guess which one or more are true. Go for it folks!

6. Nominate seven "Creative Writers" who might have fun coming up with outrageous lies.

Alan Orloff - A Million Blogging Monkeys
A.H. Ream - Dispatches from the City of Angels
Eric Stone - Meanderings
Beth Groundwater
Keith Raffel - Dot Dead Diary
Pop Culture Nerd
Christa Faust - Deadlier Than the Male
Deb Sharp - Ask Mama

7. Post links to the seven blogs you nominate. See #6 above.

8. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them. Okey dokey.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Dead People and Deadlines

Just this minute - this VERY MINUTE - I hit the send button and sent my final manuscript of Murder In Vein , complete with final edits, off to my editor at Midnight Ink. The manuscript was due February 1st, and it was delivered on time. They gave me 1 week to do the edits and I delivered those on time. OOO-RAH!

Whew... I'm bushed. Except for a celebratory dinner with Darrell and Diana James on Saturday night (Darrell just landed a 3-book contract with Midnight Ink), I was glued to my editing all weekend. I won't be seeing Murder In Vein again until May when I receive the proofs before it goes to print.

Come celebrate my slaying of deadlines by visiting my guest blog today at Beth Groundwater's blog. I'm seeing dead people over there. Big surprise, huh?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A Cover To Die For

Here is the cover for Murder In Vein.

Coming to a bookstore near you September 1, 2010!

Monday, February 01, 2010

I Did It. I Really Did It!

Today is February 1st. My deadline for Murder In Vein was February 1st.

About 30 minutes ago, I hit the send button on an e-mail that shot the finished manuscript for Murder In Vein from my computer into the hands of my editor at Midnight Ink. As you may recall, on December 2, 2009, my editor called and asked if I could deliver the first book in my new vampire mystery series by February 1st. I gulped and said, why yes, of course.

Since then I've been running a writing marathon, complete with updates on Twitter, Facebook and here. Since then, I've pounded out 36 chapters, representing nearly 80,000 words.

And I still maintained a day job. The manuscript was completed with no small thanks to several long holiday weekends and a couple of vacation days thrown into the mix.

Normally, the routine is I submit a manuscript. About a week or two later my editor will send me editorial suggestions and I'll be given a couple of months to make the final edits before it is sent off to my production editor. The production editor readies the book for printing. Right before it heads to print, I get one last look at it, about nine months after I've submitted my original manuscript.

Meet the accelerated version: I sent in manuscript today. I have until next Monday to complete my edits. In May I'll be doing my production edits. September 1st Murder in Vein will be released - seven months from submission.

I did it, yes, but I wouldn't recommend writing a novel this way unless you're looking for a one-way ticket to the Funny Farm.