Tuesday, March 29, 2011

CNYRW Mini-Con 2011

The 2011 CNYRW Mini-Conference was so informative, I think my head is going to explode.

This year's Mini-Con was three seminars for the price of one. And as if that weren't enough, we were treated to two speakers: Anna DeStefano, the bestselling author of more than eleven award-winning books, and literary agent Michelle Grajkowski of 3 Seas Literary Agency.

Friday night, we had a candid discussion on the state of the industry. Anna publishes with Dorchester whom, as you know, is the first New York publisher to have gone digital with its catalog. If Dorchester succeeds, the consensus is that the rest of the major publishing houses will follow. The wheels turn slowly in publishing, but it's to Dorchester's credit that they were able to look at the facts and adapt accordingly. Good luck to them!

Saturday morning, Anna presented her method of craft and characterization. Character and story are deeply intertwined, and the simple chart she presented allows a character to drive the events of the story through his major personality flaw and its arc. Who knew you could create a 400-page monster from the push of such a little bitty chart? Anna also went over the process of drafting and revision, with the reminder that a first draft is always going to be less stellar than we anticipate, and that's okay! The revision is where we can perfect it. (Thank goodness!)

In the afternoon, Anna and Michelle presented a workshop on industry professionalism, with emphasis on respecting personal boundaries. Michelle gave us the unique perspective of an agent (hint: they're nervous at those pitch appointments, too, so don't sweat it so much), while Anna brought us the point-of-view of an author. The information presented here was helpful not only in business relationships, but personal ones. This was good stuff we could take home and practice on our families, so Anna and Michelle reminded us not to limit it to those "writing things."

What a great Mini-Conference! I feel like we packed a week into two days. Thank you to Anna and Michelle for their energetic, fun, and informative presentations. What a blast! Can't wait to see what CNYRW does next year!

Friday, March 25, 2011

We Have A Winner!

Congratulations to May P., who as part of The Romance Reviews Grand Opening contest has won a signed copy of my first book, "Earth!" The prize pack includes a signed copy of "Earth," a postcard featuring the book, and a very special 100% biodegradable bookmark! When you're finished reading the book, plant the bookmark in your garden or a flowerpot, and its paper will grow into a beautiful bouquet of wildflowers!

Keep an eye on this blog for announcements of future prizes and upcoming book signings. I'll list them all here as they come up. Congratulations again to May P., and Happy Reading!

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Little Therapeutic Demolition

Yesterday was perfect. Perfect sunshine, perfect touch of lingering chill in the air, perfect absence of snow on the ground ... and perfect decimation of the ugly aluminum shed that's been lingering on our property for seven-odd years.

We built a new shed last summer, and the old aluminum one spent the winter on our back patio housing the snowblower. We didn't have much chance to organize the newly-built shed last year before the snow hit, so everything was basically a cluttered mess in there. Well, we cleaned that up, hung tools, built a shelf for my gardening supplies, and moved the lawnmower and snowblower into their new homes in the new shed.

Then we eyed the Ugly Aluminum Beastie with gimlet glares. The UAB gave a shudder of fear.

Hubby walked over, picked the whole works up, and moved it into the center of the lawn. We started by unscrewing what bolts we could get to. UAB resisted. Then Hubby decided on a better (and certainly more satisfying) tactic. He proceeded to kick it down to scrap metal by sheer force. (I helped, but without quite the grin of delight on Hubby's face.) Let me tell you how nice it is to wreck something that ugly when it's been staring you in the face for seven years on your property. The neighbors even came out for the show. I think they were as glad to kiss it goodbye as we were.

We carried it out to the curb, and the scrap didn't even have the chance to warm the dirt before someone pulled up and offered to haul it away. Bye-bye, UAB! Hello, room for my new greenhouse. (That's going in as soon as the tax refund comes back.)

And just so you know, I slept like a rock last night.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Squirrel Wars 3: Fuzzy Strikes Back

They're at it again.

After the rousing success of my squirrel-proof suet feeder (not for lack of their trying, mind you; the thing's covered in tiny scratches from their foiled attempts at opening the cage), Fuzzy and his gang regrouped. They have taken to shaking the squirrel-proof tube feeder so that some of its contents will spill to the ground, and they can feast. They are also still hanging upside-down from the roof of my squirrel-proof hopper feeder, and scooping out bits of the food within. Smart little suckers, ain't they? It still takes them quite a while to make any sort of dent in the seed, though, so I suppose I should take my victories as they come.

But Fuzzy's not done tweaking my nose yet.

Yesterday, the Greenwood family spent the afternoon at the local zoo (which, by the way, is still fun in winter, especially if you're one of the penguins - one of them spent a good ten minutes showing off for my son, who loved it). When we arrived home, Fuzzy and one of his little lookouts (or maybe his squirrel hitman) had found their way into our trash can, and were fast making off with the remains of a tortilla. They scattered once we got out of the car, but this time, I just shook my head, pulled out the rest of the tortilla, and dropped it on the ground for them. (It's gone as of this morning, in case you wondered.) You may have won this time, Fuzzy, but I will prevail!