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That pretty much sums up how my days went last week–you know, nothing exciting enough to make your heart race and all kinds of things that make you shrug and say, “Oh, okay, so that happened.”

The top ten occurrences in my life last week:

1.  I finished the first round of edits on my paranormal romance, Snow Shadows, and sent it back to the editor.  That’s usually a yippee for me, but this time it was more like a “Whew!  Glad that’s over.”  No reflection on my editor or my publisher, it’s just my happy gene seems to be on the fritz right now.

2.  My husband and I, after looking at a million or so houses, have narrowed it down to two, which should be another “Yippee!” but I can’t seem to work up any more enthusiasm than “Okay, make the offer and we’ll see what they say.”  See what I mean about my happy gene?

3.  The Patriots lost the Super Bowl and after maybe two seconds of shocked disbelief, I couldn’t help but feel proud of Eli Manning and the Giants–mostly for Eli, ’cause after all, the Giants are a New York team and being a Red Sox fan practically from birth, well…nuff said.  But since Eli’s dad, Archie, and his brother, Peyton, are so closely connected to my alma mater, the University of Tennessee and I watched Peyton play at Neyland Stadium countless times, I almost feel like I’m a part of their very extended family, so congrats to you Eli!  And maybe now I can get that darned Three Dog Night song out of my head!  Eli’s coming…

4.  Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were the halftime show–a major plus for me as I’ve been a fan for…forever.  But they didn’t play any of my favorite songs, so okay, that was nice, but nothing to jump up and down about.  Tom, why the heck couldn’t you play “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”?  It’s only one of the greatest rock songs ever and I probably maybe, um, there’s a slight chance I would’ve gotten up and danced a step or two…or at least thought about it.

5.  I worked on updating my web site, but I’m having trouble getting excited about that right now.  Maybe when I actually have a book on the market again, that’ll get better, but while I wait…blah.  No help for that, as far as release dates go, writers are more or less at the mercy of their publishers.

6.  I decided to take the month of February to polish up some of the books I have finished and see if I can’t get them ready to submit to publishers.  I currently have a half dozen completed manuscripts gathering cyber-dust on my computer and I need to do something with them.  I’m not making it a goal or a resolution–you know how I am about those!–I’m merely looking at them and trying to polish them enough to submit them.  If I make it, I make it.  If I don’t, well, such is life.

7.  The thing is…I don’t even have enough for a top ten list.  Ho-hum, that’s my life right now, it’s happening, but it ain’t anything to get excited about.

Then again, maybe it’s the dreary, rainy weather we’ve been having here in the mountains of North Carolina that’s got my emotions muted. 

Uh-oh, here comes another song–rainy days and Mondays always get me down…    

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Okay, so I thought the Cassie Edwards thing had pretty much faded out of the limelight, but something happened over the weekend that stirred it up again.  Another romance author was heard from, posting some totally irrelevant comments on her blog and challenging Nora Roberts’ right to speak about the whole plagiarism issue.  I have to tell you, that was a real WTF moment for me.  I mean, come on, every romance author out there knows that Roberts was a victim of plagiarism and that alone earns her the right to give her opinion on this whole sorry mess.

But it’s not just the people who have been a victim who should speak up, it’s  all of us.  When Ms. Roberts said plagiarism hurts every author, not just the one being stolen from–sorry for the paraphrase, I don’t have time to go back and look up the exact comment–I wanted to stand up and cheer!

Because she’s right!  Plagiarism does hurt all of us in one way or another.  I know this whole thing has hit me on a number of levels.  And I admit, the ones that are really getting to me, are the personal ones.  Like the fact that I’m currently in edits on a book which is based on a Native American legend and I wasted three hours the other day re-reading my research and comparing it with the words I wrote in a scene where my main characters discuss the legend–and driving myself totally apeshit in the process!  There’s also the fact that my writing focus has shifted in the last year and now I seem to include a Native American element in all my stories as Ms. Edwards did in most of hers, making me worry about comparisons–which will likely never come.

My personal feelings aside, I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Roberts.  Plagiarism is wrong and when an author chooses to sink to that level, every single one of us should have the courage to shout it from the rooftops.  And I don’t care who the guilty party is, just as I don’t care that Ms. Edwards is a grandmother or that she’s a skilled violinist–which should give you an idea of the irrelevance of this latest author rant.  I mean, WTF does that have to do with anything?–or how many books she’s sold.  Whatever she is and how ever many books she’s sold, the fact remains, she’s a thief.  There is, in my mind, no valid excuse for that!

The thing is…beyond the lame-ass excuses for why she did what she did, there are a lot of people out there shrugging this off and wishing everyone would shut up and move on to something else, but I’m sorry, I just can’t.  I don’t think I’ll ever get to that point.  This is something that will be with me for the rest of my life, especially the rest of my life as an author.  Because I believe as an author, it’s my words that define me.  They’re mine, they come from my heart, my brain, my imagination.  The fact that I’ve written them down and choose to share them with others doesn’t give anyone the right to take them away from me.  It’s as basic as that.

So, a note of thanks to Nora Roberts for standing up and saying what needed to be said and showing me what it means to have the courage of your convictions.  And to Cassie Edwards, Janet Dailey, and all the people out there who are trying to convince us that this issue isn’t worth getting worked up over, a hat-tip for reminding me of how important honor and integrity are to me.

And speaking of hat-tips, a huge wave of mine to the New England Patriots and the New York Giants for the awesome play-off games yesterday.  Congrats!  

That just about sums up how I feel right now…wasted and without a clue what to write about.  I think I may have done some serious damage to my muse with my latest writing binge–two novellas in two months!–and I don’t know whether to get down on my knees and beg her forgiveness or just leave her to sulk in a dark corner of my mind until she gets over it.  Probably better to leave her alone and let her cool off a bit, she’s liable to kick my ass if I don’t.

So, I’ve been writing, and like I said, I’ve completed two novellas, one a cougar story which needs some serious polishing before I do anything with it, the other a…I’m not sure what to call it.  I submitted it as a paranormal romantic suspense, but now that I’ve had time to think about it, I think it’s more of an urban fantasy, with elements of romantic suspense.  It’s not paranormal–I don’t think–and I hope the publisher doesn’t throw it in the trash because I sent it under the wrong genre.  Just another thing to chew on my fingernails about while I wait to hear from them.  Nineteen days and counting…

I do have something to keep me busy while I wait; the first round of edits on Snow Shadows, my paranormal romance that’s coming out later this year with L&L Dreamspell.  But since I haven’t written anything on this blog since shortly after Christmas, I decided I needed to get in at least one or two entries for January before I sink into the mire of rewrites and revisions.

Plus, a couple of things are weighing heavy on my mind right now.

First the owner of the now defunct e-publisher, Twilight Fantasies Publications, which shall not be named, did something I find truly despicable and repugnant, she’s self published a fifty page novella she once offered as a free read on her publishing site.  When I heard this, I had a true WTF moment?  Not the first this publisher’s given me and probably not the last.  Anyway, not only was the book once offered as a free read, it’s now up for sale for over sixteen dollars (hardback) and just under seven dollars (paperback).  I mean, come on, who’s going to pay that kind of money for a book that size, much less one that’s already been released for free?  It is offered in ebook format for under four dollars, but still…

The thing is…this author, who put this book out originally under her pen name, is now offering the same book under her real name.  I guess that’s a case of changing the names to protect the innocent, huh?  Not that she’s innocent in any way or form in my mind.  She’s slapped a new cover on it, listed the publisher as Twilight Fantasies (I assume to make it look like the book was good enough to get accepted by a real publisher), put the original editor’s name on it (who I understand was never paid for her work), and is asking an unbelievable amount of money for it.  Can we all say scam?

I have no idea what this particular vanity press charges to publish something, or if they even charge, could be they take it out in royalties, or something, but if they do, my question to this scurrilous woman is; did the money you owed your authors, editors, and cover artists pay for this?  And if so, when can we expect our percentage of the royalties?  Will you pay them or will you slink off into hiding like you did before, complaining all the way about people being mean to you?

Beyond that, I feel sorry for any reader who purchases your exhorbitantly priced book, they could’ve gotten your fifty pages of nothing (totally my opinion of course) for…well, nothing!  Kind of makes me wish I was vindictive enough to prove your point about how mean people are by posting a message to any readers out there who want to buy your book and offering to send it to them for free.  But alas, woe is me, one of the first things I did when I severed ties with you was delete my copy of the free download.  Oh well.  And, knowing you and your pompous jerk of a husband, you’d probably sue me for copyright violation or something.

Which brings me to the next thing on my mind–Cassie Edwards and her “alleged” plagiarism of various authors.  This one really pisses me off, for a number of reasons, all of which I’ll comment on tomorrow–I hope!

Right now, I’ve got to see if I can coax my muse out of hiding.  I may need her when I work on  those edits!  Hmm…maybe an imaginary trail of white chocolate macadamia nut cookie crumbs will do the trick. 

Oh, and before I forget, Go Pats!  And, sorry Peyton!  You didn’t make it this year, but I’ll be rooting for your brother in the play-offs.  Eli’s coming…

No, I’m not talking about another e-publisher biting the dust–although there have been some recent rumblings about trouble at one of the more established houses, but that’s all they are right now…distant rumbles and we’ll have to wait to see how it plays out–what I’m talking about here is football.  Next to baseball, football is my sport of choice.  What’s my favorite team?  Well, hmm, that’s a problem for me.

I’m a big fan of the New England Patriots and have been ever since 2001 when Tom Brady replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe in a game against the New York Jets.  Brady wasn’t spectacular, but he caught my eye and I remember telling my husband he was going to take the Pats to the Super Bowl.  It was just a little feeling I had.  Well, who doesn’t like to be proved right?  I do and so, the Pats became a favorite.

But…I also like the Indianapolis Colts for the same reason–their quarterback.  You see, I’m from Knoxville, Tennessee, and anybody who grows up in Knoxville knows that the only team in town is the UT Vols.  Up until we moved to Maine, my husband and I used to have season tickets and I watched Peyton Manning play many a game at Neyland Stadium.  He was a favorite too, not just because he was a good football player, but for the fact that he turned down a chance to go pro and stayed with UT during his senior year.  That doesn’t happen very often and I really liked him for that.

So now, as I have for the last six years, I find myself not knowing who to cheer for, the Pats or the Colts.  And a lot of Pats fans don’t understand that.  In fact, I’d say most Pats fans don’t understand it.  Manning is arguably their most hated opponent and saying I like him and his team is…well…them’s fightin’ words to some people.

The thing is…for me, it’s a win-win situation.  I’m pretty sure they’re going to be playing each other in the post-season, just like they have in years past.  Peyton won last year, so maybe this year it’s Tom’s turn.  Who knows?

All I know is I can’t wait for the Super Bowl.  Not only am I pretty sure one of my favorite quarterbacks will be there, but when it’s all over and done with, it won’t be long until spring training starts.  Yay!

No post yesterday, because Unwilling Angel was released and I was busy with all the hoopla that goes with having a book released.  I tell you, it’s an aweome thing when you submit a manuscript then hear from a publisher that they would like to offer you a contract, but when it finally hits the cyber-space bookshelf–after weeks, or even months, of edits, countless hours spent working with a cover artist to find just the right cover, and days of pre-promotions, it’s a relief.  You get–or I do–a feeling of whew, at last it’s done!  Now I can move on,

The thing is, what do I do next?

I have plenty of options to choose from–five, count ’em, five works-in-progress, seven completed books which need a home, more promotions for my new release, web site to be updated, etc., etc., etc.–none of which appeal to me at the moment.  You see, after yesterday’s whirlwind, I need a break and I can feel my Procrastination Slut persona coming to the fore.

I’ve written about her before in my LJ blog, but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned her here, so I’ll give you a bit of explanation.  I have this tendency to shut down, especially when I have a lot of things I need to do.  It’s irritating, but there it is.  I’ve learned not to fight it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t dream of what it would be like if I banished her for good.

Hmmm…I’d have numerous books either out on the market or awaiting release, I’d finish off those WIPs and get them out to publishers in the blink of an eye, I’d compose query letters and synopses with little or no painful frustration, I’d be a computer-savvy wiz at promotions, and I’d know how to upload a picture to this blog–

 –and that’s another thing, why is it when you click on the “insert image” icon on WordPress, you don’t get a “browse” option like you do on almost every other site in the cyber-world?  Instead, you get seven fields which have to be filled out and most days, my brain is way too tired for that.  Maybe while the Procrastination Slut is ruling, I should present this to her as a puzzle to be solved.  She doesn’t like to work, but she has no objection to sitting on her butt and playing around with the computer.  So, maybe if I don’t classify it as work, but dress it up as an…enigma (she likes fancy words), I can fool her into figuring it out, because I know there’s a way to do it, I just haven’t found it yet!

Anyway, the Procrastination Slut is back–hey, do you think that’s what’s wrong with the Red Sox, they’re putting off till tomorrow what should be done today, or more correctly, what should have been done weeks ago?  I’ve been trying not to think about this, but I have to say it, Boston is through for the season, they may as well pack up their equipment and slink off the field with their tails between their legs.  And I do mean slink.  They have no reason to hold their heads up and I have no desire to give them a standing O.  Come to think of it, they’d better keep their heads down, ’cause I’m sure there are a lot of fans in closer proximity than I am, who’d love nothing more than to toss a few balls and bats at them.  A word of advice, boys; keep your batting helmets handy this winter, it may save you from a hospital visit.  Oh, and during the post-season when you’re not playing, in between watching the New York Yankees win the AL and probably go on to win the World Series, maybe you should hit the Patriots up for some shoulder pads and a lesson or two on how to band together when times are tough–you obviously don’t have a clue.  To put it in lingo you’ll understand…you suck wicked bad!

Okay, that helped a little bit.  Now, back to our regularly scheduled program…the Procrastination Slut reigns supreme in my world and there’s no telling how long she’ll hang around.  So, while she’s reclining on her chaise lounge (her version of a throne), popping bite-size Heath bars in her mouth (her version of chocolate truffles), and being entertained by her sister’s latest romantic thriller (her version of a court jester), I’m going to present her with a conundrum (I think she’ll like that word):  How many cyber-space imbeciles does it take to post an image on WordPress?

Her answer (I’d bet money on this one):  Ask me later, I’m too busy wasting time right now.

For me, this past weekend was one of extreme highs and lows, and in my mind, can only be compared to a roller coaster ride.  It had the heart-pounding thrill of climbing that unbelievably high slope, the breath-stealing anticipation of reaching the top then teetering there for a few spine-chilling moments, and finally, the mind-blowing descent down the other side.  By Sunday, I didn’t know whether to give in and enjoy the sensations or shut my eyes and scream, “Stop the ride, I want to get off!”

I climbed into the car on Friday night while it was hovering at the ride’s lowest point, held there by the Yankees defeating the Red Sox–a game we should have won and would have if our stellar and much-revered bullpen had performed the way they were expected to.

On Saturday morning, the car started its rickety climb up the slope when I received word from a publisher saying they wanted to include my short story “The Secret Life of Alice Smitty” in their PMS: Poison, Murder, Satisfaction anthology–see Saturday’s post “Happy Dances.”

Shortly after that, we reached the pinnacle when Josh Beckett led Boston to a 10-1 trouncing of the Yankees.  It was a beautiful thing, especially since I actually got to see it!  Of course, I had to watch it on Fox–do those people have any idea how incredibly dull and insipid their sports coverage is?–but even that wasn’t enough to dull my excitement.

Sunday morning the car was teetering on the summit when I received word from the publisher of my first book, “Death by Indifference,” that they were closing at the end of this month.  This one was its own little roller coaster ride in and of itself.  I was in turn, crestfallen, ecstatic, pissed off, and hopeful.  Crestfallen because that meant my book would only be available till September 30th.  Ecstatic because they’d had the good sense to close before being forced into bankruptcy as so many others in the epublishing industry have been in the last few months–thereby tying up the rights to countless books for months on end and causing unfair and unbearable distress to their authors.  Pissed off because I knew for months this was coming, I saw all the red flags and ignored them.  I’d signed a contract with them back in February for my paranormal romance, “Snow Shadows.”  They more or less sat on the manuscript for seven long months, and I can’t tell you how many times I thought of writing them and pulling the book–patience is not a strong point of mine!–but I let it slide.  How stupid is that?  Hopeful because it means the days of wondering and worrying are over.  As of September 30th, I can submit both books to other publishers and with any luck, they’ll see the light of day sometime in the future.   

Sunday afternoon and we’re still teetering on the brink.  My husband and I have been looking for a house for the past six months or so.  We finally found not one, but two we like enough to make an offer on and now we have to decide which one we like more.  They have a fairly equal amount of pros and cons, so the only thing to do now is weigh each pro/con individually and see where that leads us.

Sunday night, we plunged into the abyss when the Red Sox blew another game to the Yankees–I don’t want to talk about it!–then it was back up again when the Patriots won their game against the Chargers, hopefully silencing at least a few of their critics regarding the accusations of cheating which came to the forefront this past week.  One of the other bloggers on WordPress, http://firedannyainge.wordpress.com, made a very valid point about this and I quote,

The Patriots have lost quite a few players in recent years that weren’t too happy about not getting paid. Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Willie McGinnest, Adam Vinatieri etc… to name a few. Wouldn’t you think if this had been going on for a long time that one of these players would have blown the whistle if they knew?”

Well, duh, of course.  Why didn’t I think of that?  So, thanks firedannyainge for pointing this out and giving me ammunition to use against my husband who is a Colts fan.

So now, the hair-raising ride is over at last, I can climb with wobbly knees out of the car, and get on with my normally dull and staid life.  The thing is, I have a sneaky suspicion I’m going to be feeling the repercussions from this particular roller coaster ride for a long time to come.

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams

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