My weekend with an editor

I spent Friday and Saturday with an editor from Grand Central Publishing. She came to San Francisco to speak with our RWA chapter and answer questions about the industry.

I picked her up from the airport early Friday afternoon, showed her around the city, then spent the whole next morning and afternoon talking about “the business”.

I. Learned. So. Much.

Surprisingly though, most of what I learned this weekend had nothing to do with writing or publishing. Of course I took away gleaming tidbits of information about what goes on behind Oz’s curtain. Of course there’s things I know about being on submission that I didn’t know before. Of course I feel like I have a better grasp about how the industry’s cogs work. But that’s not what I’m writing about today. And because lists are neat and easy and I’m in a neat and easy kind of mood, here’s five things I learned from my crazy, whirlwind of a weekend:

1-I should never handle parking tickets. Never ever. I lose them every time. Is it in my wallet? On my dashboard? In my pocket? Nope. This time it was stuck in the machine and instead of waiting for the ticket to spit out, we were on our way, gabbing about Weight Watchers and laughing about big butts (mine mostly). It took a good Samaritan holding the ticket up, screaming through the parking garage, “Did anyone lose a ticket?!” for me to wise up. I’m parking ticket challenged. There have to be others out there…

2-It’s freezing ass cold in San Francisco in May. (On a related note: Minus the racks and racks of *I Heart SF* sweatshirts, there are NO warm clothes sold in the city in May.)

3-When a friend is on vacation, thereby able to eat whatever desserts they wish, if you are the one showing them around on their vacation, you are by default on vacation too. Diets need not apply. We ate at the Cheesecake Factory for a mid-afternoon snack after realizing that both of us had eaten there before without trying their infamous cheesecake. (Random similarity, right?)

Doesn’t it look delicious? It really was.

4-Doing absolutely nothing is absolutely something. We drove around San Francisco from one spectacular stop to another. We gawked at Alcatraz, drove across the Golden Gate twice, curved our way down Lombard Street, strolled Pier 39, and ate absolutely tongue-lolling food. We talked family, shopping, friends, boyfriends, husbands, school, books and alpha heroes. Although I’d only just met her, by the end of the day I felt like I’d known her for years. We didn’t really do anything, yet it was one of the most memorable days I’ve had in a long time.

And finally…

5-Editors aren’t scary three-headed creatures who chomp on manuscripts for lunch, glaring hungrily at debut authors as they begin their submission process. Contrary to what debut authors think, editors are helpful and friendly. They want you to succeed! Editors are people too. Great people who love books and writing (many of them are authors themselves). They smile ear to ear with their clients as all their hard work shines on the printed page. They’re people who fight for authors and genuinely love the publishing process.

I had a great weekend. Now excuse me while I get my cheesecake-lovin’ butt to the gym.

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Sights for Sore Eyes *Part Two*

Have I mentioned I’ve been busy lately? Let me put it this way…the day before the Jamestown trip (see post below) the fam bam and I drove to Santa Cruz to help The Pesty Older Brother Who Is All Levels Of Cool Without Trying move out of his beachfront apartment into another apartment that’s further from the sand, but still all kinds of awesome. While the munchkins and I were waiting for Husband and Brother to off load some furniture in the new place before the rain poured down, we took a walk.

The rain had just cleared, but not for long. Dark clouds lumbered across the sky. Winds picked up. Local beach goers walked home.

We walked out.

I’m not afraid of the rain in the least. If it had poured while we stood in the sand, and we got drenched to our socks, I wouldn’t have cared. I wouldn’t have ran in. I probably would’ve been the Crazy Lady on the beach who stood there, face and palms up to the crying sky.

How could I turn away from this?

Or this? Princess and Tank threw driftwood into the sea, laughing as it got tugged out by the tide.

When we finally reached the waters edge, rain began to fall, dusting our coats. It was then that I noticed the little fellow above. See him there standing so still? (No, he’s not only standing still because it’s a snapshot. He stood still enough for me to get CLOSE to him. I think he was as mesmerized by the beautiful sights as I was.) He was so tiny and small up against the backdrop of the sea and it made me think of how small we all are in the grand scheme. *I’m trying really hard here not to use the “Dear God, make me a bird, so I can fly far, far far away” line from Forrest Gump.

But really, me and that still bird and the swelling ocean and the falling rain and my laughing kids had a moment that day.

It was beautiful for more reasons than the scenery.

After moving was done and we met back up again with the whole family, we took a walk on the wharf. (I think you can see its shadow on the horizon in one of the above photos.) I noticed something as I flipped through my pictures from this trip. I took zero pictures of the wharf. I’ve been there countless times. I know its subtle turns and open-faced crab shacks. I know the sweet-smelling candy stores and bawling sea lions. But every single time I go, I’m amazed by the sea. I ALWAYS come home with pictures of the ocean taken from the far end of the wharf.

Here’s the picture from this trip:

Stunning, isn’t it?

Do you feel rested from your Nano flurries yet? How’d you fare? Are you a Nano Winner? A Nano 2011 Hopeful? What have you done to rest your mind from all that wonderful writing?

Sights for Sore Eyes *Part One*

After slamming a gazillion words into my WIP the last few weeks (okay not a gazillion, but geez, it felt like it) I realized I couldn’t see straight. So I took a trip up to Jackson, a quiet old-fashioned town nestled in the Sierra Nevada’s, where the air smelled like pine and snow and Christmas and I let all my Nano worries fall to the mountain floor.

I found the 1897 Train Station up there, which still runs train rides during the day and a few Santa filled ones at night. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of my train, but I did manage to snap a pic of the steam train from the Back to the Future III film.

It makes its home there along with a few other steamers that are just too cool not to ghost your hands along. The three mile long trip snaked through mountain passes, between towering pines and chugged along open valley flats. The views were so beautiful…



There was even a violinist on board, serenading the passengers. He was AWESOME.

He swore he could play any Christmas song requested from memory with either his violin, the banjo strapped to his back or the harmonica in his pocket. I rattled off a few tunes, trying to get him to trip up, but he knew them all. Let me tell you, he Rocked the train and Made the trip. I wish I’d gotten video of him playing on the train, but when I got home I youtube’d him and found this:


*If you have a few minutes and appreciate blue grass, give it a look. In between the random talk, there’s bouts of musical genius.

On the way back, I wandered around the train grounds a little…okay a lot…and found this sun-kissed spot…

I wish I’d brought my notebook or a better camera. This was taken with my phone and did not do nature justice. It was a beautifully chill night with the promise of snow in the air. Frosted grass crunched beneath my feet. The water was still, the thoughts flowing. But I had to move on. It was too damn cold to stay for long.

After leaving Jamestown I headed east and dropped down into Sonora. I stopped at Dorthea’s Christmas Shoppe, a quaint little place just outside of town. Dorthea’s has the most unique Christmas decorations EVER. You know, the handmade ones you can’t find at Target or Walmart or any other big chain. I get a few ornaments there every year so that no two ornaments on our tree are the same. Makes for interesting Christmas Day talk about who likes which best, what year we bought it, how old the kids were, etc, etc. Here’s the two I bought this year:



*Once again, the pictures don’t do them justice. They’ll sparkle right up with the Christmas lights.

On my way out of town, trying to beat the sunset, I saw this…

…and had to stop to take it all in. That tree is as red as the church.

Gorgeous.

Holy Editing, Batman!

Yowzer! Blam! Zap! I totally rocked Enemy, Beloved last night. With my trusty mocha blast at my side, I stayed awake until nearly 1am, pushing characters around and showing them who’s boss. They behaved…for the most part. I had to put the smack down on my hero, Slade. Overall, I’m conquering the powers of evil writing, one day at a time.

Okay, okay, I’ll be less dramatic. When my manuscript was “finished” it was 97,000 words. It’s now nearing 100,000. This week alone I’ve added 14 pages, deleted 8, and broke apart a flashback scene, flittering it around the novel in revealing bits and pieces. I’ve also added a cool little bit to the end (that really should’ve been there to begin with–why oh why didn’t I think of that before?) and made the tone of the whole story a little darker.

Dark and world-building…that’s my goal. Actually scratch that. Dark and gritty and empire building…that’s more like it. I have about a week to finish the edits (on an agents request–isn’t that the coolest addition in the world?) and I’m gonna rock it.

How did I get all this finished in such a short amount of time, you ask? Let me show you where I went this week…


That’s a beautiful Capitola beach, people, and it was fabulous. The weather was perfect–70 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze. No one was on the beach. It was just me, my family, and the damn pesky seagulls.

Wouldn’t you buckle down and write your little fingers off too? Oh, and take a look at where I spent my mornings…


Pretty nice digs, huh?


My work station had the best view in the world…


You can’t see it here very well, but every time I got stuck on a nasty little scene, I’d look up over the ridge of my laptop and see the ocean.

Now THAT’S the way to buckle down and write. Take that forces of evil! Hahahaha!

San Francisco Trip

Okay, first let me tell you that the How to Knit a Love Song’s launch party was great! Almost a hundred people turned out…go Rachael! She was positively glowing…and rightly so. The book is awesome, and knitting fans everywhere are celebrating! I joined in as one of them and got her autograph.

And then I blabbed about something like how many people turned out. I look nervous. I don’t know why. I gotta stop holding my hands like that…

Before the party, my friend Aggie and I strolled around Pier 39, had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe, and you know, pretty much did the whole tourist thing. I had to take a picture of the Pier 39 sea lions…or lack thereof. They disappeared a few months back and are slowly returning. For those of you familiar with how many there were before, this picture will shock you.

Those docks used to be full of them…now I counted ten. Maybe.

I’ve read that the same sea lions have chilled out on those docks for over 50 years and have only left one other time–the month before the loma prieta earthquake. When they recently disappeared I was a little worried “The Big One” was gonna hit. I’m just glad they’re making their way back. Maybe this means the earth will stop rockin’ for awhile. God, I hope so.

And last but not least, HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY! Go pinch someone not wearing green, eat some corned beef and cabbage, and drink until you’re silly!

Take a trip with me

That’s right. Let’s go for a drive up to the mountains. Escape the stress of everyday life and breathe in alongside me.

We’re heading up to Kirkwood via Hwy 88. If you squint, you can see snow up on those hills in the distance. This was one hell of a storm, dumping white on hills that probably have never seen snow. We’re talking as low as 2000 ft.

We’re seeing snow sprinkling the ground now and it’s getting colder. 30 degrees to be exact. Can’t wait to see what 8000 ft is like…

The scenery is breathtaking. The air is crisp. Ice is on the road, so be careful and drive slow. Good thing we have four wheel drive. We should be safe. 4000 ft is looking pretty drenched.

We’re getting close now. Only about an hour away from empty slopes and air so cold it stings your lungs. Snow covering the ground is littered with glitter-like frost. The ground sparkles all around.

The roads are dangerously icy. We were just pulled over by CHP for going 48 in a 25. Did you know that when chains are required the speed limit drops to 25? Always? I didn’t. We plead innocent and are on our way with a stiff warning. Thank you for working hard to keep the roads safe, Officer! No one is on the roads up here. It’s around 7000 ft elevation and the air is thin. Good thing our windows are rolled up. It’s too freaking cold to even test the wind chill. It’s damn cold. I believe it.

We’re here! And here I am! If I look freezing, it’s because it’s now 10 degrees and I’m on top of the world, where the wind gusts are unforgiving, but the views are incredible.

See what I mean? Breathtaking, isn’t it?
After a few runs, we’re heading home to a warm cup of coffee and a cozy blanket. Thanks for coming with me!

Kirkwood

This week I took to the hills to do some snowboarding. I haven’t been in years and have been dying to go back. My knee injury (tearing my miniscus not once, but twice) has proven to be a hinderance in everything from daily walking to strenuous working out. I was a little scared I’d get to the slopes and have to call it a day early because of pain. Stupid pain anyway. I’m over it.

I took some advil…okay, lots of advil. And I packed a book in my backpack just in case. Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward. (Have you read the series? No? You should. They’re great.) I also packed more advil, my knee brace and loads of water in case I got stuck on the mountain and had to wait for ski patrol to help me down. You could get thirsty up there, you know.

Anyway, I went up on the medium run once. And came down cautiously on my heel edge only. I am a master at the falling leaf. You beginners know what I’m talking about.

Then on my second run, I went for it. Back toward base, I turned to face the mountain and remembered what it was like to breathe that fresh mountain air and be free.

guy snowboarding

The slopes were empty. The 10 degree weather might have had something to do with that. I guess we were the only crazy ones to brave the freeze.

My knee didn’t twinge at all. And no ski patrol had to be called. But the J.R. Ward stayed in my backpack. That is a tragedy all its own.

Pictures are coming soon. I promise.