Friday, July 30, 2004

Dinner is over

Okay, trying this again. Dinner was very good. Hey, maybe I can cook after all. DH offered to do dishes. I said, "No, I'll do them," and then he goosed me. I told him, "Never goose a woman with a knife in her hand."

Back to the beginning... I decided to start blogging today after reading entries in the MSNBC blog about the Democratic National Convention. It was very absorbing. Plus my friend, romance author Jennifer Ashley, has a blog. I guess you might say I'm surrendering to the cultural pressure (egads! what is next? A pair of Vera Wang slingbacks? Not with these Vienna Sausage toes!)

Short synopsis of my life: I'm Bonnie. I live in a middle class neighborhood in a house with my husband of (nearly) nine years, Frank, two Shih Tzu dogs named Tia and Tiger and a smart alerk parrot named Cain. Cain talks and loves to insult me. Yesterday he called me "butthead." I don't know where he picked that up.

I write romance as a hobby and I've published two novels. Both are set in Egypt. I work full time for a charity as a writer and travel to poor countries. While there I interview poor people, usually get dysentery, and then I return to the United States and write about the people I've met to raise money to help them. I've been doing this for 10 years and I've traveled to Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guyana, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Guatemala, and probably a couple of other countries I've forgotten. I sometimes travel about one week out of the month.

I'm done with travelng for the summer and in the office a lot right now. I work with a group of people in the Creative Department. We Create. Today one of my co-workers brought in muffin tops. I told her, "Hey, it's an Elaine thing from 'Seinfeld.'" But they weren't REAL muffin tops. Because there were no bottoms. They just baked the tops and saved dough on the bottoms. I told my co-worker, "I'm going to visit the bakery and protest. This is false advertising. How can you have tops without bottoms?"

Life just doesn't make sense some days.

Now, back to blogging. What's been going on with my romance writing? Not much. I don't have another contract or an agent yet. I have a couple of Egyptian historicals with my editor. One has been there for seven months. I also have another book under consideration with another publisher. And another book, my weird vampire dark comedy, under consideration with a couple of agents. I'm in the process of revising it to resubmit to an agent I really like who wants to see it again. My good friend Renee, was nice enough to take a look at the entire book and make suggestions. Wow! It was like the light came on. I got really energized by her critique and I started writing again! Nice feeling. Rewrote the first chapter of the vampire book and I'm slowly going through it to make the other revisions.

Today I sent another plague email to my editor. I've embarked on a journey I call the Ten Plagues of Egypt Email Campaign. It's one email a week I'm sending to my editor asking if he read my Egyptian book yet. Today's Plague of the Week was Hail. It read like this: "And Moses sayeth to Pharaoh, "The Lord will send a hailstorm upon Egypt, destroying all manner of things if you do not let my people go." Pharaoh thought long and hard about the hail and realized, hey, I live in a freaking DESERT and hail is nothing more than ice which melts in the sun and we could use a shower or two, replied, "Go to hail." And the saying became popular throughout the land but the letters became slightly altered so that to this day, "Go to hail," has become a far different meaning than the original except if one has a Southern accent."

Then I asked my editor, "Have I become a blip yet on your weather radar?"

No answer yet. I still have hope the book will be read. Some day.

In the meantime, there's the vamp book. I set aside the Revolutionary War romance I was writing for the fun of it and sank my teeth (ha ha) back into the vamp book. Back in February, I started writing a vampire comedy just as a joke. I wrote the first draft in five weeks and then decided to send it out to agents just as a "what the hey" kind of deal. I got some bites (ha ha bad vampire humor) and then some rejections and some asking to see the full m.s. The adventure continues.

Rejections stink. There's no way around it. Some days I handle rejection better than others. But they're sneaky little things. Like lint balls. They always pop up when you aren't looking. They arrive when I'm feeling down. Or have a raging case of PMS. Or when I return from a very exhausting trip abroad. I got one rejection after I returned from a grueling trip to the Domincan Republic (hey! That's another country I forget about!) We worked 15 hour days, climbing mountains and stayed one night in this nun's house where red ants infested my suitcase. I had to shake out all my clothing and repack. The poverty we saw was horrible, these sweet kids with their coarse hair and huge guts from starvation. I saw this teenage girl who must have weighed barely 10 pounds more than my female Shih Tzu. She was 17 and came up to my chest. I wanted to cry when I left there. I barely made it through customs without collapsing from emotional and physical exhaustion. All I wanted was some uplifting news. And when I got home, there sitting on the kitchen table was that awful white envelope with my name on it.

Maybe next time I'll put someone else's name and address on the SASE.

I really like the vamp book. Lucien is a cool hero. He's dark and moody and very sexy. He wears Armani suits but deep down, he's a blue jeans vamp. The book is very odd and features my quirky sense of humor. Yesterday I fleshed out Ashley some more. I nailed her internal conflict and wow! It already makes for a much more powerful opening. I think I created Ashley with a lot of me in her, the first heroine I've ever done that with. Ashley is searching for meaning in her life. She was drifting before, which was, as Renee pointed out, the problem. Now she has a clear goal and is pursuing it.

Go Ashley, go. Because I have NO idea where I'm heading.

The most frustrating part of the waiting game in publishing for me, being contractless (is that the same as being braless? Nope. It's not very comfortable), is feeling like I'm disappointing readers who liked/loved my first two books. When they write and ask, "When is your next book coming out? Are you writing another?" I feel good and bad at the same time. Good they were nice enough and cared enough to write. Bad that I don't have good news to share.

I got an email this week from a very nice reader named Gloria. She asked if I have another book coming out. And I wrote back and told her that I have projects under consideration. I also got a fan letter from a reader named Cynthia in Oregon. It was a very uplifting part of my day. I'm going to write her back this weekend, but it's going to be typed. My penmanship looks like someone is zapping my hands with a Taser as I scribble. I should have been an M.D.

Tomorrow is Saturday and we're heading out on a day cruise with my FIL and a group of senior citizens. (Note to self: Bring quarters for slot machines). This should be interesting. Senior citizens gambling fascinate me. At the RT convention in Reno, you had to walk through the casino to get to the workshops. I saw a wizened little old lady who was hooked up to a portable oxygen tank at the slots. She was smoking. And the local funeral home sends ME their literature about planning for the future? Uh-huh.

Until later.

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