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Monday, February 25, 2013

Identification at Banks

I made a deposit at my bank the other day and they asked for a photo ID.

For a deposit.

While I definitely have a problem with people taking money out of my account without permission, but I'm pretty much okay if they want to put money in! Is there a problem I'm unaware of where people all over the country depositing money into someone else's account ... on purpose? Although it might be considered a double-standard ... because I think they should have a photo ID to withdraw money ... I don't really have a problem with someone going into the bank with a wad of cash or a stack of checks and putting it into my account, even without proper identification. If the bank insists on something, have them face the camera and smile. That's all the identification I require!

So ... for what it's worth ... if anyone wants to put money into my account without a photo ID, I promise not to complain if the bank just looks the other way :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Summer in Ocracoke is moving to Round Two in the ABNA Contest!!!

I checked the Amazon ABNA page when I woke up this morning.  The results weren't posted yet, so I got ready for work.  I had a pretty busy day planned, but I checked the website one more time before I had to leave my desk and get busy.

It was just after 8:00 a.m. Central Time.  The results were posted.  My heart was pounding.  I wanted to make it to Round Two!

With much trepidation, I clicked on the link for "Romance".  They were in alphabetical order ... by first name.  I scrolled slowly until it hit the J's ... and my name was there!!!!  I was so excited!  I started screaming to my co-worker ... who knew I had entered and was excited for me, but nearly as excited as I was!  I took a few deep breath ... more like huge sighs of relief ... and then sent a test to a few people who were as anxious to know the results as I was.  I wanted to hug someone, but there was no one to hug!!

After I found that typo, I really didn't think I would make it past the first round, so I was elated to see my name on that list!

Now I wait until March 12th, when the Quarter-Finalists are revealed.  I know I am incapable of being unbiased about my own work, but I really do think this novel has an exceptional beginning, which is what will propel me to the Quarter-Finals.

So once again ... I wait ... but with much more hope :)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Groan :(

Reading over my pitch for the ABNA contest, I discovered a typo ... and a pretty big one.  I used the word "sale", when it should have been "sell".  With the judging for Round One already completed (to be announced in two days), I discovered the mistake far too late to correct.

With this round being judged solely on the pitch, and with the pitch being 300 words or less, every word matters.  While "sale" rather than "sell" may seem like a minor mistake, it may appear as though I don't know proper English ... and who wants to read more of a book where the writer obviously has such a tenuous grasp of language?

It may not matter at all, and it may turn a judge off entirely.  I guess I'll find out the day after tomorrow.  It was always going to be a long shot to pass from round to round, and I think this makes it more difficult for me to do so.

I read my pitch hundreds, if not thousands of times before I entered.  I gave my pitch to several others to help me proof it, and none of us caught it.  Maybe the judges won't either ... but I think it's just as likely that my fair godmother swooped down on her pink unicorn and fixed it before they had a chance to see it.

Friday, February 8, 2013


As all writers do, I love to read.  I bought a Kindle book on Amazon (though I will not reveal the title).  Fortunately, it was only 99¢.  Had it been more, I would have been upset.

I don't know for certain, but I'm assuming it was self-published.  I say that because there were numerous typo's in it that a professional editor would have caught.  I also say that because the formatting was atrocious!  Anything in italics (and some entire sentences were) had no spaces ... just one really long word.  Take the last part of that sentence ... justonereallylongword.  While it's possible to read it, it's cumbersome.  There were also many, many words with the first or last letter separated by a space ... separate d by a s pace.  Again, it's possible to read, but makes the entire reading experience less enjoyable.

Most all online retailers that sell ebooks have their own ebook tablet readers, and they allow self-publishers to upload their work as a PDF or Word document, then their software formats it to be read on their device.  The problem is that it never formats them correctly.  I remember pulling my hair out after uploading my first book and seeing what it looked like when downloaded.

I spent days trying to figure out how to format it in a way that uploading wouldn't ruin, with zero good results.  I ended up paying someone to format it for me.  When I found an error (my error, not theirs) in the ebook, I had to fix it.  I couldn't afford to pay someone to format an ebook over and over, so I finally figured out how to create an ebook myself.  The process to create one is very time-consuming, and after having done it, I understood why it had cost me so much to have someone else do it.

I don't know the age of the author for the book I downloaded, but I'm guessing she was young ... a teenager.  Her writing showed promise, and I think in time she will become a good author, but this book was not written very well.  Parts of the book were told through the eyes of a child.  Those parts were a little easier to read than the parts told through the eyes of an adult ... because it sounded like a kid trying to pretend to know how adults think.  The plot was overly predictable and silly at times.  When the protagonist met a kid on the playground in chapter one, she hated him so much I had a feeling they would end up getting married ... and .... (yawn) ... they did.

As someone who has self-published, it makes me sad when I see something like that for sale.  It's books like that one that give self-published novels a bad name.  Agents see a lot of this, I'm sure, and it's one less reason to think a self-published novel has any credibility.

If the person who wrote that book was a teenager, I hope she continues to write.  As she gets older and her adults don't sound so immature and juvenile, I think she'll be really good.  If she's an adult, I hope she gives up writing or joins a writing group that will give her some constructive criticism, and that she uses a professional to format any future ebooks.

O r should I s ayandthatsheusesaprofessionaltoformatanyfutureebooks.

Monday, February 4, 2013

And the Countdown Continues

Nine days until ABNA announces those advancing to Round Two.  This is the part of the contest that worries me the most, because Round One is judged solely on the pitch.  I made my pitch as strong as I could, and I don't know how I could have made it any better ... but I don't think it does justice to my work.

If I make it to Round Two, my excerpt will be read.  My excerpt is Chapter One, and is just over 3,000 words.  I think A Summer in Ocracoke has an excellent beginning, and if I can just make it to Round Two, I think I have a pretty good shot at going further.

I recently sent the manuscript (as an ebook) to a total stranger.  He writes a blog I read, and I emailed him out of the blue to ask him if he would read it for inaccuracies regarding a specific thing.  He is an author of non-fiction, and I know he loves to read ... but this is a man who does not choose to read romance novels.  I expected him to tell me no or not even bother to reply back.  To my pleasant surprise, he did reply back ... he said yes ... and then wrote back that he enjoyed it!  He read it very quickly, and told me it was very engaging ... that he kept turning the pages to see what happened next.

He went to the trouble to note typo's and other errors throughout.  When he uploaded the book from his Nook to his computer, the notes were stripped away ... so he sent me his Nook so that I could change the errors he found.  I was flabbergasted ... that's the only word I can use to describe it ... flabbergasted.  As a thank you, I'm tucking a small gift certificate in the package when I ship it back.  He doesn't expect anything for reading it, but I think he's gone above and beyond the call of duty, and I wanted to thank him somehow.

It is very exciting to have my work read ... and enjoyed ... by someone who does not know me and does not care for the romance genre.  I think it helps that I don't write ooey-gooey, over the top stories, with fabulously wealthy protagonists who jet-set around the world and live off their trust fund.  Nor do I write erotic, descriptive love scenes (something I've been told I should do!) ... but I don't ... and never will.  Unless you're writing something like Fifty Shades of Grey, I don't really see the point.

One of the sexiest movies I've ever seen was Phenomenon ... yet there were no love scenes ... the camera's cut away at just the right time.  You knew what was happening, but didn't watch it.  To me, that's sexier.  It's not the sex that's sexy ... it's the emotions that lead up to it and follow it that are the story.  Fifty Shades of Grey is a book about sex ... A Summer in Ocracoke is a book about love.

I write about ordinary people ... with ordinary lives ... that share an incredible love.  And I think that is sexy.

So ... nine days to see if I'm lucky enough to be read by a judge who can see the value of my work ... who didn't just have a fight or find a run in their pantyhose or get stuck in traffic on the way to work or come home to find their dog got sick on the carpet.

The only thing I can equate this to is when I was a kid, waiting for the last nine days of school before summer vacation.  Like then, I just have to wait ... nine ... long ... days.

Friday, February 1, 2013

It's Cold!!!

It's no secret among those who know me that I am NOT a fan of cold weather.  Once it gets cold ... and by cold, I mean below 70ยบ!) ... my nose starts running.  I live far enough south that we don't get a lot of really, really cold days, but today the wind chill is zero ... and that makes me very unhappy.

I work inside, sit near a heater, and wear long underwear under my clothes.  When I have to go outside, I resemble Ralphie's kid brother Randy (in A Christmas Story) when his mother got him "winterized" for his walk to school ... remember that scene ... "I can't put my arms down!"

When I come home, I don't leave again unless it's absolutely necessary.  If it weren't for the kids, I'd never go to the grocery ... I'd eat salt and flour if it meant I didn't have to leave the house!

I should have been a bear.  I'd hibernate on time with no complaining and I give you my word ... I wouldn't emerge until it warmed up.  I would have made a very good bear.  A very good bear, indeed.