Archive for May, 2007

Ah-hah!

Posted in writing on 05/30/2007 by Susan Shay

Have you been to my website? www.susanshay.net If not, check it out. I have a section where authors write about their Ah-hah! Moments. (BTW: That’s an Oprah term.)

From my website:

What are ah-hah! moments? Epiphanies. The times when you gain explosions of knowledge.  In connection with your writing, what was your biggest, funniest, most exciting, or most career changing?Was it when you realized you really were a romance novelist, when you knew you wanted to write or when you figured out you weren’t a panster but really a plotter.  You know what I’m talking about . . . Instant the light bulb smacked you upside the head, you held up one finger and said, ah-hah! So where did I get the idea? I was creating my own website, and I wanted something to bring people back. Something that would stay new and change. Something different. 

That’s when I had my Ah-hah! Moment.

I contacted a couple of friends, and they each gave me one. Then I asked a few more. Next my entire RWA chapter. I’ve even had a volunteer or two, but I can always use more!

Do you have an Ah-hah? Everyone does. And sometimes one person’s Ah-hah! is another person’s rescue. I’d love it if you’d share yours with me.      

HELP!

Posted in writing on 05/29/2007 by Susan Shay

I need your help. 

I thought blogging was hard, but I didn’t know what hard was until I came up against self promotion. *sigh*

Mama taught us kids not to brag on ourselves. As a child, when a neighbor or friend started bragging on her kids, I’d look to Mom. Your turn, I always thought. You’ve got 6 kids. You can brag on at least one.

But she never did. When I glanced at her, I’d see her rolling her eyes. Even her silence taught me something: Bragging is not a good thing to do.

And I learned my lesson well.

I’m not a bragger. And I really don’t like braggers. People who go on about ‘my this is so great’ or ‘my that is worth so much money’ or ‘I’m getting rich doing . . . ‘ make my teeth itch. All of them need a good smack. 

I have trouble even telling people I sold a book, much less asking them to buy it. “Why?” my friends ask. “It’s a good book.”

Because that’s like bragging.  Na-na-na-naI sold a book!!!

I even had trouble telling a friend I’ve known since I was 6. She’s always been extremely supportive of my writing. I see her every Sunday in church, but I couldn’t make myself grab her by the arm and tell her I’d sold a book.

This last Sunday I was a greeter at church, so I made up my mind. I would tell her. So I screwed up my courage, and when I saw her, I grabbed her. Then I told her I had something for her. I took her over where I’d left my purse and gave her a bookmark.

Yep, I chickened out. I didn’t tell her. I made her read it for herself.

After a moment, she read the bookmark and saw that (SURPRISE!) I’d sold a book.

Now I need to have a booksigning here in my hometown. The Library group has already offered. All I need to do is give them a little nudge. But how?

I’ve had at least two of them tell me it was going to happen. Do I push a little harder? Remind someone? Beg?

Or would I be smarter to forget about it?

Remember years ago, people used to ask, “What if they had a war and nobody showed up?”

That same question plays in my mind. “What if they have my signing and nobody shows up?”

To be honest, it’s not a bad book. (Remember, I’m bragging challenged.)

I’m honestly thrilled that it sold. It’s the last one I have finished that’s set in Oklahoma, and this is Oklahoma’s centennial birthday. It’s about a bull rider who gave up rodeos to raise his six-year-old daughter after her mother abandoned her in California.

It’s about a teacher who cares enough to put her liberty on the line to keep the little girl out of that grasp of a child molester.

It’s about a man and a woman who find a way to get past the scars of their past and fall in love.

It’s about making a choice between living with honor and only living.

Not a bad book. I just don’t know how to let other people know about it.

So how do you do it? Did you have to force yourself to tell people about your work? Is there a place I can go to learn to brag?

HOW DO YOU GET PEOPLE INTERESTED IN YOUR BOOK? 

I really need the help.  

   

Memorial Day

Posted in writing on 05/27/2007 by Susan Shay

Did they really have to create a holiday to make us remember our loved ones who’ve passed on? I don’t think so.

But it’s a great excuse to go to the cemetery and run in to old friends.

Every year just before Memorial Day, someone in my family takes beautiful silk flowers out to the Cleveland cemetery. They’re saddles–the arrangements that sit on top of the stone–so they’re up out of the way and stay a little nicer.

Unless a storm comes along and blows them to Crestview. And since Memorial Day comes in May, it’s a really good chance that we’ll be chasing to the nearest object large enough to stop that many arrangements to sort ours out and haul them back. Some years, we have brightly colored flowers strewn up and down Cemetery Road.

For the last couple of years, I’m one of the “placers of the flowers”. I’ve gotten where I really enjoy Memorial Day. If you stand and look around, most of the stones have arrangements on them. It looks like a church full of women wearing their prettiest hats.

The other thing I enjoy is running into old friends. I saw one friend I graduated with out there this year. It’s been a few years since I’ve chatted with her, but we had my niece out of school for lunch and I didn’t have much time. I took a little, though. And she was beautiful. Isn’t it funny how some people get prettier and prettier and the rest of us just get fuzzy?

No fair.  

We went back that afternoon to put flowers in the vases that are part of our grandparents’ head stones. Amy thought they looked too empty. Duh. They were. But since I’m the driver and she’d gone to the trouble of buying them, I drove.

Dad met us out there and we all got weepy for a few minutes, then he headed home. We loaded up in the van and were driving toward the exit when Amy yelled, “Stop!”

Being very quick on the brakes, I stopped.

She’d spotted someone she wanted to talk to. And when I realized who it was, I wanted to talk to them, too.

We had a great talk. This guy is a cowboy and a preacher (when my brother was a kid, he always said he wanted to be a cowboy preacher. This guy did it.)

Since I LOVE rodeos, and put them in my books whenever I can, I grab any chance I get to hear about the real deal.

There was only one problem that day. The guy we were talking to had been married to a really pretty woman with dark hair. (Could have been one of my sisters.) The woman he was with that day was a gorgeous blonde with a to-die-for tan.

Naturally it made me a little uneasy, since I’ve known his sister forever and this wasn’t her. Without making it obvious (I hope) I kind of ignored the woman for a while, until she laughed and said something about them having 6 kids in their family, too.

It was his wife! She’s just as pretty as a blonde as she was a brunette.

And she’s funny, too. I think you get a really different sense of humor when there are at least 6 kids in your family. . . and she got it. Her husband picked it up, too. (That doesn’t happen with all spouses. Just a lucky few.)

I tried to cut the conversation short (at least I thought about it) because they had a long way to go that night, but these people were just as talky as me. Don’t you love it when you see people you like and who like you, too?

I have a friend who says I’ve never met a stranger. That’s not true. I just ignore the strange ones and look for ones who turn into future friends.      

BIG LOVE

Posted in writing on 05/26/2007 by Susan Shay

I love Big Love.

Don’t take that wrong. I’m talking about the HBO show about polygamy, not the size of–never mind.

I even have my middle son hooked on the show. We Tivo it so we won’t miss an episode.  

Big Love isn’t the kind of show anyone who knows me would expect me to like, especially my husband. I’m not admitting I’m jealous or possessive, but everyone in my acquaintance knows what kind of explosion would rock the earth if my dh came home with an idea about a 2nd wife, or even dating to find another one.

See? That’s what I mean. I get to wondering about that lifestyle. How do they find the 2nd, 3rd, etc wife? Do they team date? Drag main with wives hiding in the back seat, waiting to pop up once they find a likely candidate? 

Anyway, this show has two Oklahoma women on it–the #1 wife, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Mary Kay Place, who is the #2 wife’s mother–so you know it’s got good acting. <g> 

The writing is what makes me want more. Bill Paxton plays the husband, named Bill. (Ever notice how often his name is Bill in movies? Doesn’t he recognize other names when he’s acting?)

Anyway, this guy’s got three wives (they call each other sister wives) three houses and 7 kids with one on the way. Bill balances everyone, rarely making any of them jealous, which is as facinating as the amount of Viagra he was taking several times a day. 

And the metaphors are in your face. When Barbara (#1) talked to her cold, up-tight, disapproving sister, she chewed ice the whole time. When Margene, wife #3 (youngest, cutest and ditsiest) was given the task of getting Bill’s baptismal clothes ready,  the clothes ended up in shreds, with the oldest daughter going out and buying more so no one else could find out.

But it’s more than metaphors. Wife #2 is as troublesome as the middle kid in some families (not mine of course) can be. She charged on credit cards until she was $60,000 in debt, then when Bill found out, got furious and cut up all her cards, she left home. When Bill could finally talk to her the next morning, she told him they kick her out of the homeless shelter at 8:00 in the morning. He told her to come home, then we saw her tuck the bill for a very expensive hotel in her purse.

This chick has a long braid and long dresses, like the women at the compound (a big group of polygamists) but she knows how to boogie! She’s my least favorite character. The one I love to hate. Conniving, evil, grabby and selfish. Boy, I know a lot of people like her.

I was chatting with my friend, Dale, about the show once. She said she watches it like she would a poison snake in her living room.

So what do you think about Big Love? Do you love it or hate it?       

Editors edit

Posted in writing on 05/25/2007 by Susan Shay

So I was reading Jaci Burton’s blog today and she commented about someone else’s blog who’d complained about editors. I have to agree with Jaci–editors are there only to make the book better. I can’t imagine arguing with my editor. (I had trouble not saying “yes, ma’am” when mine suggested I do something.)

These people really know their stuff. And while I’ve learned a ton since I started writing, I would never think about arguing with an editor.

Did I just get a really good editor, and a nice one? I don’t know. Maybe. I have to say, I really enjoyed working with her, and look forward to working with her again if I get that lucky.  

I also read Marilyn Pappano’s blog today. She talked about book titles. The only complaint she had with publishing was in the titles her books received over the years.  But knowing Marilyn as I do, she didn’t rant, rave, stomp or storm. She just went back to writing another book.

So with examples like these, how could I do anything but what I was told during the editing process?

How about you guys? Any of you have problems with your editors that you’d like to share?  

M & M twins

Posted in writing on 05/23/2007 by Susan Shay

M & M Twins

McAlester

Posted in writing on 05/22/2007 by Susan Shay

Boy, did I have a great time last Friday. I went to McAlester with bf Marilyn, where we met bf Meg for lunch and shopping. Poor Meg moved to the wilds of Texas, so we don’t get to see her nearly as often as we’d like. But when we get together, we have so much fun!

We do a little eating (yummy, Roseanne’s!) a little shopping and a lot of talking. We discuss books and authors and editors and agents and people we know and people we don’t know. You name it, we probably have an opinion on it. And usually they vary. It’s kind of like being in high school again. No worries, no problems, just fun.

The M & M twins are the next best thing to sisters. (I’ve got several sisters and one brother already. I wouldn’t give up any of them.) And M & M are writers, so they understand that “got to do it” (write) that won’t leave me alone. They understand when I tell them I have a character in my head that’s so whiny, I have to wipe some of the whine off before I write her. One of the M’s even asked me if I serve cheese with her whine. (Uh, no. She’s inside my head. If she gets fat, it might hurt my neck.)

One of the M’s is a racer, as in cars. On  a track. The other is a big dog lover and a multi-multi published author, but she loves us newbies anyway.

When I found my first RWA chapter, did I know I’d find great friends, too? Nope. When the M & M’s and I started critiquing, did I expect this friendship to bloom? Naw. In fact, we had a few critiquers along the way that made me repeat over and over what I told my husband at first when he asked, “What if you don’t like these women?”

“I’d critique with the devil himself to get to have Marilyn and Meg in the group.”

Well, M & M and I might have had Satan (I’m fairly certain we did) as well as one or two of his demons in our critique group over the past few years. But having M & M for encouragement has more than made up for it.

And watching M when she kicks the horned ones to the curb makes it all worthwhile.

  

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