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Friday, April 26, 2013

Heartbreak and Triumph

Sometimes I am amazed at what makes the headlines, and the pat on the back celebrities are given for doing even the most mundane of tasks. One celebrity mother was called "Super Mom" for walking her oldest child to some kind of lesson, all while ... get this … pregnant!! Wow! I'm not sure, but I'm guessing she was even chewing gum! Wouldn't it be incredible if she were?! I know … I, too, am amazed at the feat she was able to accomplish. Sacajawea ain't got nothin' on that woman!!

One of the top headlines on another website was that so-and-so and her child were in Paris … having lunch! I don't know about you, but it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know that so-and-so eats food … just like me! I suppose that makes us, in effect, kindred spirits! That juicy tidbit was also shared with its equally amazing co-headline … another celebrity went to an awards dinner … commando! I can see why thatmade the headlines. Can you imagine going through life and never knowing so-and-so didn't wear underwear to dinner on April 24, 2013? Scary, isn't it?

(P.S. It wasn't officially reported, but she was wearing a bra, either!)

At this point, I feel it necessary to defend this poor, helpless celebrity … she didn't realize the dress that the dress her stylist selected, purchased, and altered to fit her precise frame was sheer from hem to neck ... on both sides ... until she put it on right before the ceremony.

To avoid this little "oopsie" in the future, perhaps she should have her stylist send the dress over a few days before the event, then she would know beforehand what undergarments would … or would not … be required. In the event her stylist is too busy deciding what other celebrities will be wearing, the celebrity could always send one of her servants to fetch the garment … and, of course, send a bill to the stylist for the inconvenience having to send her own servant. That sounds fair, doesn't it? I mean, these celebrities hire people for specific tasks … cooking, cleaning, landscaping, grocery shopping, etc. If you're paying someone to do your shopping, and they have to run an errand for your stylist, the stylist should pay for that … wouldn't you agree?

I used to have servants. To those on the outside looking in, they called them "children", but I preferred to think of them as my "staff". Unfortunately, they weren't good at much besides swinging and making plastic food in their Little Tikes kitchen, but when I wanted one of them to bring me a cold soda … they foughtover who would get to serve me. I know they would sneak a drink of the soda before it got to me, but I'm quite certain the thrill of serving me was the motivator … not a sip of the forbidden soda.

Unfortunately, the "servants" you give birth to become less and less helpful as they become more and more capable. When they wanted to help me, they were of no use at all … they created more messes than they ever cleaned … and they created a bigger mess while "helping" clean a smaller one! Now that they are old enough to be a real asset to my team, their desire to help is long, long, looooooong gone!

It's nice, though, that I get to live vicariously through these wealthy celebrities. I can rejoice with them when marry the perfect mate … and I can cry with them when they divorce a few years later and walk away with a paltry 30 million dollars. (Sometimes, I don't know what a judge is thinking … how are they supposed to fly to Paris for lunch whenever they want cheese and croissants if they only have 30 million dollars in the bank?)

I can empathize with their embarrassment when they flash their panty-less crotch getting out of a chauffeured limousine. (I don't know about you, but I hate it when that happens to me!).

I can share their indignation when the sordid details of their life are picked over and speculated about. (Just because they tweet every detail of their life doesn't give anyone the right to intrude upon their privacy!!)

I, too, can share the disgust of these young women when they are leered at by "old men". (These young women parade around in little more than lingerie or pose for a photo shoot naked … save for a few props to cover their modesty … because it was their job, not to give men something to drool over.) Just because a celebrity walks around in stripper heels and shorts that barely cover their underwear (if they bother wearing any), doesn't give anyone the right to stare at them lustfully!!

I think the most heart-wrenching thing I ever read was when one celebrity, after the birth of her first child, was forced to do something she had sworn she would never do … she had to hire a nanny. To make matters worse, when she and her husband flew (I can't remember if they flew first class or chartered a private jet) from their spacious New York penthouse to their sprawling mansion in California … they had to bring the nanny with them.  (All these years later, it still hurts when I think about it.) I can only imagine the pain that poor woman felt when she got to sleep all night or take a shower without worrying the baby was crying.

The hardships celebrities endure just breaks my heart, but when I see the courage and strength they show by getting up early enough to have their make-up team get them ready to take their children out for ice cream (all by themselves … except for the security team following them), my faith in humanity is restored.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Well, it's official

I did not make the Semi-Finals in the Amazon contest, but after the review from my PW reviewer, I didn't expect to. I read three or four (of the five) who made it through to the Semi-Finals in romance, but I didn't leave a review for any of them ... so that tells me they were not books I would be interested in reading. Even if the novel seemed to be extremely predictable, if the writing was good, I left a review. I didn't leave reviews on the ones that were boring, poorly written, or that had plots that were (in my opinion) just plain ridiculous.

I tried to leave only reviews that were positive. If I had nothing positive to say, I didn't leave a review ... with two exceptions ... and those two were so offensive I felt obligated to leave bad reviews. They were not just offensive, but darkly, deeply disturbing. The love interests in one was a child and her pedophile molester. Am I to assume we are supposed to hope the pedophile "gets the girl"? The other was one writer's attempt at "Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-Mommy-Porn", and fell far short. It was really just expletive-ridden, vulgar language by promiscuous women who were rather mean. I didn't like them, so I didn't really care if they found love or not ... and I kind of hoped they wouldn't! Even so, I was kind when I left reviews for them. I don't see any point in being cruel or hateful, even if I was repulsed by their stories.

None of those I enjoyed and rated highly made the Semi-Finals. I hope those writer's understand that the PW reviewer who judged their entry (most likely quite harshly) isn't necessarily their target audience ... I am ... and I liked their work. The PW reviewer read their romance novel because they were paid to, not because they have any expertise in, or the desire to read, that genre.

I am disappointed that I was eliminated, but not as much as I thought I would be. According to one PW reviewer (per his blog), Publisher's Weekly hired reviewers on a contract basis to judge the entries. This judge did not mention that they were given entries in their preferred genre. I've said it before and I'll say it again ... you cannot accurately judge a book properly if it is a genre you do not enjoy. If you were to give me the Twilight manuscripts, I wouldn't be able to give them bad reviews fast enough. I do not enjoy paranormal romance ... at all ... and I will be the first one to tell you not to ask my opinion on one, because I already know you won't like what I would have to say. Don't give me horror, either, because I'd rather read paranormal/fantasy than something like that! I cannot accurately judge those types of work because I do not read them, do not enjoy them, and have no way of knowing if I'm reading a plot that's been done ad nauseam.

My review was written in a way that leads me to believe the reviewer does not enjoy reading romance. While not overtly hateful, it was definitely mean-spirited, and got a few key facts very wrong. They either did not read the book (skimming rather than reading), or I did a very poor job of getting my message across. Since this person seems to be the only one who came away confused on basic facts, it doesn't appear they read very carefully. I realize not everyone will like it, even those who enjoy romance, but this reviewer almost seemed angry that he/she had to read "another romance novel".

Although I wanted to win (of course!), I honestly never expected I would. More than anything, I wanted to make it to the Quarter-Finals (and I did!) for one reason ... to get a PW review that I could use when querying an agent. Well, I got my review, but I don't think I can twist it enough to make it usable.

Okay, enough grumbling! It's time to look on the bright side ... now that I'm no longer in this contest, my manuscript if freed up and I can concentrate on finding an agent and getting published. Not winning did not dampen my spirit, and I still believe I will be successful and that my dream will be attained. As long as I have tomorrow, my dream will live on :)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tomorrow Amazon Announces the Semi-Finalists

I wish I felt better about my odds at progressing into the Semi-Finals, but my gut feeling at this point is that I will not. I think I wrote a great book that appeals to more than just fans of romantic fiction, and I will work to get published if I fail to make it to the next round of ABNA, but it takes more than a good story and great writing to continue on ... you also have to be lucky enough to have your work read by someone who reads ... and enjoys ... the genre in which you write.

Some of the Publisher's Weekly reviews are available to contestants, privately. It is my understanding that all Quarter-Finalists get two PW reviews.  (Note: I was incorrect ... we get one PW review). I have one review posted to my account, and it isn't glowing. It wasn't horrible or scathing, but it was definitely not kind. If they are correct in their assessment, then I have some things to work on. For instance, they said Larry was constantly talking about his past, his dreams, needs and wants, and that Tara had a crippling self-esteem issues and "never had anything to say, so she said nothing at all".


If that's what they took away from the story, then I did not write it well. Yes, Tara does have self-esteem issues, but they are hardly crippling ... and yes, Larry talks about his past, etc., but every book has characters who talk/remember their past ... and since Larry is quite content with his life, his past is a very minuscule part of the book.

The way they referred to "the genre" in the review makes me feel like this is not someone who reads romance novels. I received two amazing reviews from the Amazon Vine Reviewers, who both chose to read from the romance category, and they both loved the excerpt. These are the people who buy books, so I'm choosing to believe their comments are closer to what a romance reader would feel.

I had heard that the PW reviews were notoriously brutal, and yet I wasn't worried ... I was actually looking forward to their reviews! Oh, how naive I can sometimes be! I will read my book again, and try to see it through the eyes of the PW reviewer.

I am very curious to see who makes it through to the Semi-Finals. I read a good many of the excerpts in the romance category, and wasn't impressed by any of them. There were a few that I might pick up at the library, but I didn't read any that made me want to finish them badly enough to purchase them.

One more day and I will know if I'm one of the lucky 5% to continue on ... or if I will be one of the disappointed 95% that will be eliminated.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Author Book Signing in Franklin, TN on May 18, 2013

I'm a member of Music City Romance Writer's, the Nashville, TN chapter of the national organization of Romance Writer's of America, of which I'm also a member.  I will be there with eight other MCRW members who are published authors.  I haven't met all of the authors, but  ha've met a few and am looking forward to meeting the others.  I recently attended a Writer's Retreat in Natchez Trace National Park in Tennessee, and all of the women I met there were amazing writers and very nice, and I  had a blast at the retreat with them!

Information on the Author Signing is available on the MCRW website by clicking here Music City Romance Writers Meet & Greet.  If you're in the area, stop by and say hello ... and perhaps pick up a good book or two!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I've been a little neglectful of my blog :(

In my defense, I have been very busy, just not online.  I had new flooring laid in most of my house, and have been busy painting, cleaning, and decluttering.  I'm contemplating putting the house on the market and downsizing.  I really don't need this big, old house any longer.  It was a great place to raise my children, and they have wonderful memories of growing up here, but it's just too big now.

I'm doing all of the projects I always wanted to do.  It seems quite sad that I'm doing all these things and won't get to enjoy them.  I have completed a long, long, LONG list of things, but my list of things still to do is just as long, and I'm running out of steam.

I come home from work, change into my work clothes, and get to work on my list.  I work as quickly as I can until it's time to sleep, and fall into bed exhausted ... only to wake up, go to to work, come home and put on my work clothes and start all over again.  As I'm working I remember things I need to add to my list or discover another "project" that will make the house more attractive to buyers.  Hence, my roster of things to do seems to be an ever-growing list.  Fortunately, my list of things I've done is growing, too, which bolsters my spirits and gives me energy to continue.

When I bought this house in 1999, the kids and I moved from a tiny two bedroom bungalow to this rambling, giant house with more room than we dared dream of.  Even though we had long since outgrown that small bungalow, we'd been there a number of years and leaving was emotional.  We've been in this house three times as long and have many more memories here.  I know I need to sell this place and get something smaller, but leaving will be very difficult.

I'm trying not to think about how hard it will be to leave, and concentrate on the next young family that will move in and make their own wonderful memories here in this grand home.  As I clean, paint, and mark off task after task, I'm working on my next book in my head ... and dreaming of what my office will look like in my next home :)