More hours in the day?

As I write this, I am at my desk in our schoolroom monitoring my 5th grader who is enraptured by her math test. She must be because it’s now going on hour three. Sad thing is that she knows the material, but keeps daydreaming her time away. I sat her down to the test and cleaned the kitchen, put on laundry, got the floors ready to mop, stripped the beds…and checked on her to discover she had only answered four questions in the first hour. There are 28. *sigh*

Theoretically, I should be able to sit here and fiendishly write on Fridays. One of my sons is off at gifted class which lasts all day. The other is a self-starter who has already knocked his agenda out and curled up to read. Since I can’t move ahead without having his twin fall too far behind to manage his Sunday make-up, he’s effectively done. My daughter? Well, she’s just decided that if she throws a big enough tantrum over the math, I won’t make her do it. Since that tactic hasn’t worked since the day she was born, I can’t imagine why she thinks it might now.

So, instead of getting a jump start to cleaning so I can enjoy the long weekend and maybe squeeze in an unscheduled block of writing time, I’m sitting here watching her wallow in misery. It’s not fun.

And just like that, life has gotten in the way of my work yet again. Someone asked me the other day when I managed to sleep. I could only laugh. Angelic Avenger, my first book, was written between the bright hours of midnight and four a.m. Blood and Destiny was written between four and six a. m. Stealing Grace has been pounded out between the hours of 8:30 and midnight. Tiger by the Tail doesn’t count because that was written during the day in about a week. It was short enough that I could ignore some of the daily routines to get it done. The same goes for Love at First Shot.

Where does a body draw the line? How important is sleep, anyway?

Our homeschooling day starts at 6:30. The self-starters come down and get a jump on their agendas while I fix breakfast. Math is scheduled for 7:30 to 8:30 on every day but Friday when it has to wait until we get back from carpool. If the kids are on the ball, we can get the core schoolwork done by lunch and knock out the electives right afterwards, just in time for Daddy to get home.

At that point, it’s odds and ends until four thirty or five when it’s time to start dinner for 6:00. After dinner, it’s clean-up, bathes, and last-minute wrap-ups for the day before bedtime, which coincidentally is 8:30.

That doesn’t include Monday when we have to break in the middle of the day for speech therapy, or Wednesday when we leave at eight and don’t see the house until three due to therapy sessions and music lessons.

I want to write more, faster, better every day, but man, where am I going to find the time? I know, I could put my children in school; however, my duty as a parent comes first. Where we are now, homeschooling is the best thing for them. One of my twins is ADHD/Asberger and he just doesn’t function well in a classroom. One day a week, he can manage, but not all day, every day. The others benefit from the one-on-one instruction, too…even if the daughter is taking three hours to finish her math today.

Today is one of those days when I envy people who have their children in school, or have a day job. I know it’s the frustration talking, the doubt that I’m doing the right thing, and sheer exhaustion.  With a little luck, this will be the last year I have this schedule. We’re planning a move to Cherry Point, North Carolina, over the summer. Any one who has some details about the schools there? I’d love to hear them!

*ranting concluded*

Ah…the life of a writer…

There are a great many wonderful things involved with writing as a profession. 🙂 We get to set our own schedules, work as much (or as little) as we want, skip around talking to the voices in our heads, and get paid for all of it. But the freedom isn’t what I love most about my job.

What I love most is the ability to evolve. Contrary to my publishing schedule, I write a lot. Unfortunately, most of what I’ve been writing has been transitory. My style is evolving and I’ve been working hard to improve my craft. There has been a learning curve. I wrote two books that won’t be published during this phase. And they shouldn’t be. The writing in them both was inconsistent and simply are not up to standards. One of them was a St. George book while the other was an unrelated work. The lessons learned have been carried over to STEALING GRACE, my next St. George book.

STEALING GRACE is Milo’s story. For those of you who haven’t followed the St. George series, Milo is a selkie bull who fancies himself a technogeek. He makes his first appearance in BLOOD AND DESTINY. His heroine is a lady of St. George, Grace St. George. She is a high-end cat burglar. She’s quite the fire cracker! I can’t give away too much before STEALING GRACE is officially contracted, but I will say that you can catch a free sneak-peek short story available from my website. CHRISTMAS GRACE is set well before STEALING GRACE, so bear that in mind when you’re reading it. After all, what lady doesn’t have a past when she finally finds Mr. Right?

I love my St. George heroines! They’re feisty, independent, hard loving women who know how to take life by the horns. They also have a vulnerable side thanks to being raised in an orphanage. They all have their unique issues resulting from their respective backstories and experiences, but one of my favorite things about working with them is teaching them to trust enough to love.

*sigh* Now, I’m off to keep pounding on Grace (who has decided she doesn’t like the ending of her story). Watch for more news as it becomes available!

The Joy of Writing…

Writing is many things – exciting, daunting, wonderful, and exasperating. 🙂 I love what I do, but there are days when I wish I’d never drafted that first character. Today isn’t one of them.

Today is when I bow down and thank God that I am blessed with writing as my vocation.

I get email from readers who want to know what the hold-up is. I appreciate those letters.  Because it reminds me that I’m not the only one invested in my work. 🙂 I apologize to everyone who’s reading this who wants more stories from me.

I’m working on it. I promise. Every day.

🙂 But the hold-up is that I’ve been honing my craft. When I was discovered with TIGER BY THE TAIL, I was a babe in the woods when it came to how to cobble together a decent story. In the last three years, I’ve written, attended workshops, rewritten, attended conferences, and rewritten. Every time I sit down in front of the computer, I have a little bit more of a clue.

The problem with learning by the seat of my pants is that it’s a time-consuming process. BLOOD AND DESTINY is a step in a new direction for me. I’ve learned so much that I’m working to roll it all into my next story. Vivian doesn’t have a title, but I thought everyone would like to know what’s up with the next St. George book.

Now, Vivian isn’t a St. George girl. No, she’s a whisper from Marcus Smythe’s past, about twenty-five hundred years ago. Yes, she’s a vampiress that circumstances have backed into a corner.

So, what does a vampiress two millennia old do when forced to act? Well…I’ll keep you posted. *wink*

In the meantime, rest assured that I’m working diligently to improve my writing for your enjoyment – and hope that I’m living up to the promise of better books to come.

What a girl wants…

I’ve been getting a lot of flack lately.

I’m a military wife.  My husband was deployed aboard the USNS Comfort for the Haitian Earthquake Relief effort.  As the mission wound down and the Navy began to send extra staffers home, he asked what he should do if he were offered one of those tickets off the ship.  Stay or go?  My answer was STAY.

Everyone seems to have interpreted that as me not wanting him home.  They have implied that I don’t care for him like I should.  That I, in fact, do not love my husband.  That I’m not interesting in sharing BLOOD AND DESTINY’s success with him because I do not value his opinion.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I would have loved to have had him holding my hand when BLOOD AND DESTINY jumped to the 2nd place spot on the MB&M’s top ten list, or any of the variety of lists it’s popped up on.  It would have made the experience that much more complete.  But it would have been incredibly selfish of me to expect it.

You see, we have children.  Three delightfully precocious and exhausting elementary schoolers that I homeschool.  The eldest is in third grade…and her FCAT testing was hanging over her head like Wylie Coyote’s Acme anvil.  Because we homeschool, that standardized test is especially important because it tells me if we’re providing her with the level of education she needs to be academically successful.

Now, nothing would have made me happier than to have my husband fly in the door on the first plane home.  However, after weeks apart, could my darling Daddy’s girl concentrate on doing her absolute best on her testing knowing that as soon as she’s done, she gets to come home and play with Daddy?  Nope – she would have slapped down whatever answer caught her eye first and rushed through the test…bombing the score.

It’s about priorities and being able to put my personal wants and needs behind those of my children.  My husband understands that and agrees with me.  If he had been sent home before the testing cycle, we would have made it work so that it was as non-disrupting as possible.  But, the best case scenario was for him to come home after the testing cycle completed so we could take an entire week off for Spring Break and everyone could enjoy the family time.

I gave up being able to satisfy my personal (and selfish) desires when I became a mother.  I can wander by a department store window and admire the outrageously priced display without grabbing my debit card to rush in to make a purchase.

Now days, I look at the price tag and equate it to how those funds are better allotted in our budget.  After all, the kids have activities and lessons that will lay the foundation for their personalities and successes for their entire life.  They don’t run cheap, either.

My life is in the years where I have become the sum of my experiences.  There may or may not be triumphs and successes in my future.  If there are, it’s gravy on a life already well lived.

My children are just starting.  They’re building their personalities and sense of self-worth with every step they take.  Every time they accomplish something, their faces light up and they glow with pride as they set the next goal higher.

So, yes.  Daddy will be home soon.  The testing cycle is over.  And my children are excited over Spring Break (which starts Monday).

What a difference a year makes.

What a difference a year makes.  Wait.  I just said that.

Last year at this time, I was sitting at home reading all the posts from people that were returning from Nationals.  They were all inspired, motivated, and recharged about writing.

I so was not.  I was staring at the second Tigers manuscript and seeing the fatal flaws in it.  I couldn’t get beyond it.  I was questioning my choices and wondering why, of all things, I had decided to attempt being an author at all.

So, what’s a writer to do?  Pick up the phone and call a friend.

Vivi Andrews, who took home the Golden Heart this year, gave me the talking to that I so richly deserved.  Her advice?  “Get out of your own way.”

She said other things, too, but that was the one comment that I carried in my heart.  So, I sent the manuscript off.  Immediately after that, I looked at my files and found another project outline I was passionate about.  I tinkered with character building scenes and then launched into what is now BLOOD AND DESTINY.

My editor saw the same fatal flaws in HEART OF THE TIGER and sent a very informative, very kind revise and resubmit with a lot of suggestions on how to correct the problems.  For those of you who are still interested in the Tigers, the revamp is pretty extensive and it’s been put on hold until I can devote the time of effort it needs.  Anyway, it reaffirmed that I wasn’t naive and clueless when it came to critiquing my own work.

I put Destiny aside and looked over another novella with a renewed sense of confidence.  After a little minor tweaking, I submitted it out and pulled up another project I had begun to doubt.

ANGELIC AVENGER.  With my heart in my throat, I polished the synopsis, wrote a new query letter, and sent it to my Samhain editor.

LOVE AT FIRST SHOT was well-received, but needed some work.  Taking that revise and resubmit offer in hand, I tooled it accordingly and sent it back.  Three times, I sent it back until it was finally right.  The Wild Rose Press agreed with me and offered a contract just days before Samhain offered for ANGELIC AVENGER.

Strangely enough, after months of self-doubt and second-guessing myself, I remembered why I was writing.  It wasn’t to torture myself.  It was the joy of being able to share my stories with others.

Returning to BLOOD AND DESTINY, I began to retool the wordage lost when I converted from a PC to a Mac.  For some reason, the last three chapters on Destiny had gotten eaten.

This time, the writing came easily to me.  Why?  Because I’d finally gotten out of my own way.  I’d put aside my doubt, embraced my characters, and let the words flow.

Everyone says writing is a lonely job.  And it can be very isolationist.  But, there’s a solution.  We’re in a digital age.  With IM, online groups, and forums specifically dedicated to writers, it’s easy to find people who are not going to look at us as if we should be locked up when we mention the little voices in our heads.  Or better yet, give you that horrified look when they ask what you do and you tell them you’re a romance writer.

The solution to the loneliness?  Network, find a group of writers that will embrace you with all your quirks, and get a good long distance plan and lots of cell phone minutes.  Then, when you need that extra nudge or bullying, pick up the phone… or answer it when they call.

Exciting News!

Okay, I’m a bad blogger.  I’m sorry.  I have no excuse except there has been a lot of things to deal with on the personal front getting the family moved once the school year ended.

We have made it and mostly settled in the new house.  I’m finding Florida to be a wonderful place to write.  In fact, I just wrote “The End” to BLOOD AND DESTINY.  It’s been sent out to my friends to see if they can find any mistakes I might have missed when I went back over it.  BLOOD AND DESTINY is a shapeshifter/vampire romance.  I hope to have more information to share on it soon!

I have a cover!  LOVE AT FIRST SHOT was contracted by The Wild Rose Press.  While I still don’t have a release date, I do have a cover.  This novella was originally drafted as a Tickle My Fantasy submission to Samhain, but didn’t get picked up.  After significant expansion (to the tune of 12,000 words), The Wild Rose Press contracted it.  Stay tuned for more information about Emma and T.J.’s pending release.

ANGELIC AVENGER has a release date.  October 6th, 2009, Bella’s story will be available for sale.  I’m very excited to see my first book hit the bookshelves.

As to what I’m working on now?  The next Angel story.  I hope my current productive streak holds true and that there’s more news to share soon.

Happy New Year!!

2009 opened with a sigh rather than a bang around here.  My husband and I looked at each other at quarter past eleven and decided to give it up.  He was sleeping soundly when I watched the clock turn, my mind awhirl with excitement over the coming year.

Closing out the 2008 year, I had some serious reflection and reorientation of direction.  It marked the publication of my novella and a host of learning on my part, but it also was filled with trials – mostly internal.

I only made one resolution for 2009 – to but all that behind me and move forward.  There’s no where to go but up!

ANGELIC AVENGER is back in the vault pending revision.  HEART OF THE TIGER is awaiting revision, too.  LOVE AT FIRST SHOT is finally coming out of the vault and on the market.

The docket for 2009 is pretty  much set.  I have a vampire book nearly finished, a werewolf story ready to start, Del and Doom are slotted, too – for those of you who have asked for more of that story – and added to it is another Angel book – this one darker, edgier, and more romance oriented.  Yes, I’ve taken the wonderful feedback from ANGELIC AVENGER to heart and refocusing the Angel world accordingly with renewed excitement.

Stay tuned for more news as the ball gets rolling.

How did you close out 2008?  What kind of resolutions and realizations did YOU make?