Category: Writer

This Week in ‘Overestimating Your Own Intelligence’

So, I got a little click-happy on Amazon this week and stocked up on reading material.

First, I bought these:

The Hating GameCinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)

Because The Hating Game sounded like a funny rom-com and the more I read about The Lunar Chronicles, the more I felt I needed to give them a read.

Then things got a little weird.

Next, I bought this:

Welcome to the Universe: An Astrophysical Tour

Because I thought, well gosh, I’d like a quick little primer on astrophysics!

And then, because no one was there to stop me, I bought this:

The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory

Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory?? Shut up. You had me at superstrings.

Because I thought – you know what’s been missing from my life? A basic understanding of theoretical physics and quantum mechanics!

So, yes. I’ve greatly overestimated my intelligence in my recent book-buying excursion. Although, I do know that string theory is not a game children play with yarn, so I feel like I’m starting with the proper foundation.

Well, I’ve had my broadcast TV phase, my lawyer phase, and my writer phase. Maybe this will be the start of my astrophysicist phase. Just kidding. I hear they make you do math.

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All’s Fair in Love and Book Reviews.

I read an article by an author who said never – never – read reviews of your book online.

Okay, but did he mean like never ever? Or just kind of never? Because never seems sort of impossible, right? (For a slightly neurotic, first-time author like me it proved to be, anyway.)

And I looked. That’s right. I read them all.

Here’s the funny thing about reviews of your book – a good review makes you smile and puts a spring in your step. For about a day.

A bad review is like that popcorn kernel that gets stuck between your tooth and gum that you can’t seem to dislodge no matter how hard you try…because the popcorn kernel is in your soul. Giving you something to poke at late at night when you’re trying to sleep.

So even though there are substantially more good reviews out there, the few bad ones are the ones that got under my skin. Which is probably why that author said DO NOT READ THEM! A-ha. If only I had the ability to listen to sage advice when it is presented to me.

Oh well. Some of the good ones make it all worth while.

Lisa over at LostInLit called it “Hilarious, Witty and Quite Charming.” And Lisa (I know – I’m winning with ‘Lisas”!) over at LisaLovesLiterature gave it 5 stars! And Becky on Goodreads said I “hit it out of the park!” Megan over at ReadingBooksLikeaBoss added me to her “Book Recommendations” tab! And then I found this young woman who goes by The Lone Reader who did a very funny and enthusiastic video blog about it. If I can make anyone rattle on that fast about my book, I certainly should be able to overlook a few naysayers.

So if *you* have read my book – and liked it – please leave me a review 🙂  (And I’ll try to keep myself from reading it). If you read it and didn’t like it – my name is spelled N-i-c-h-o-l-a-s-S-p-a-r-k-s. Be sure to get that part right.

 

Defacing Public Property.

img_20161028_171652Okay. It was actually a book signing. But it was my *first* book signing so it seemed a little strange that people wanted me to write in a perfectly good book.

Last Friday I was fortunate enough to take part in the author reception at the Fall Discovery Show held by the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association. So…lots of authors and lots of booksellers. Or something like that. It was a blast.

My favorite comment of the night was a young woman that hurried over to my table to tell me that she had read the description of my book and that she “had to find me” because my book was something she “needed in her life.” I know, right? Super cool. And I’m pretty sure she didn’t confuse me with someone else, so I’ve got that going for me.

Funniest comment of the night: someone said “So?? What do you like better? When you were an attorney or now, being a writer?”

To which I replied (likely with little grace, thanks to the two glasses of wine): “Oh, I’m still a lawyer.”

They replied (with what seemed genuine astonishment) “Really?”

Yeah. Really. “I’m pretty sure a lot of authors have to keep their day jobs,” I said. “Unless you have a dream about pale, sparkly, teenage vampires!”

Okay. I didn’t say the part about sparkly vampires – but I thought it. But, for all those authors, working the day job and moonlighting as a writer? I gotta say, seeing my actual book in actual print…made all that moonlight worth it.

So, This Happened.

Galley Cover

Just like that. I have a title. And a cover. And a description that is a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster in that it’s partially my original story pitch and partly what “they” came up with (whoever “they” are that tinker with these things at the publishing houses).

So, sure, it felt pretty real when I got the deal. And it felt a little more real when I signed the contracts. And then it felt realer still when I got that first advance check.

But, I must say, this sort of hit a new level of “oh my god – this is really happening!” Which is a pretty good level.

And, about the time the actual book cover showed up on my publisher’s website (Forge is part of Macmillan), it showed up for PRE-ORDER on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and even popped up on Goodreads!

Oh – and I now have my official release date: January 10, 2017.

So, I’m gonna ride this high until I get my copies of the galley (Advance Reading Copies) and am actually holding a copy of my book in my hands and then I’ll write a post about how that’s the realest real yet! I know. You can hardly wait.

Look at it this way…I’ll probably be a lot cooler on my next go-round. But this time? I’m gonna enjoy every, little, teeny, tiny step. Because it took about 15 years to get here 😉

As Yet Untitled.

Insert-Title-Here

For those of you that don’t know – I’m going to give you the five-cent description of my novel. It is, at its heart, a romantic comedy about Kate Shaw, a 30-something starting over as a new lawyer (don’t get carried away drawing author parallels – besides, I’m 40-something). The twist is that, in this slight alternate reality – marriage doesn’t exist. All relationships are based on 7-year contracts which can renew or expire (or, more likely, wind up breached). So, much like there are men in our world who only date married women, this world has similar men who only date women already under contract. These men are called…wait for it…contract killers. Get it? (And yes, I realize women can be contract killers, too.) But, beyond this, it’s about Kate and her funny love life and her even funnier lawyer life.

Okay. Long story short, The Contract Killers was the name of Book 1 of the trilogy. The concern has been raised that this title sounds too thiller-y and might mislead the potential audience. So we need to <gasp> RE-TITLE the book. (Cue the Death Star music.)

While I loved my original title, I definitely see the need to change it. But how? I’ve spit-balled about 30 suggestions at my agent and editor but nothing is hitting home. So, while my manuscript is already in copy-editing and art is working up the cover design – I HAVE NO TITLE. Which is giving me anxiety.

So now – I’m putting it out to you. Because you are brilliant and creative, and had the perfect title all along that you didn’t even know you had. And because you want to be sure I include your name in my acknowledgments.

 

 

You Can Lead a Horse to Wine, but You Can’t Make Him Write a Novel.

Lead a Horse to WaterI’ve been thinking about motivation and the thought occurred to me that perhaps if I only allowed myself wine *when I was writing* – I’d get this next book knocked out PDQ. (That means “pretty damn quick,” for you laymen out there.) But, then again, that would require discipline. And self-control. And saying no to wine. Plus, I have about another 40,000 words to go. And that might be a lot of wine.

On a somewhat unrelated note, I googled “wine” and “horses” (don’t act like you’ve never done that) and I got that dandy picture above. But I also found this:

Horse bottle holderWhich seems kind of inappropriate. But, I actually have this bottle holder except that mine is a moose. Now, I’m not sure if it is the horse that makes it look pornographic, or if I’ve been in denial about the fact that my moose appears to be getting raped by a wine bottle, too. And maybe Steve wasn’t being a pervert when he told me what it looked like my moose was up to.

I linked the picture to a store where you can buy your very own so that if you felt like the only thing missing from your life was a horse deep-throating a bottle of wine – your life can now be complete.

My Writer’s Streak.

Writer's Streak

Apparently, when you are rep’d by Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency, you become a member of the Wolf Pack. And, once my announcement came out, the other members of the Wolf Pack informed me of a Wolf Pack tradition. They told me Michelle’s authors put a streak of color in their hair when Michelle gets us a book deal. Shenanigans, right? Have no fear. I insisted on photographic evidence. Which was happily provided.

And since I have never been one to tempt fate – or miss an opportunity to do something ridiculous with a totally valid excuse – or, frankly, resist peer pressure when I don’t feel like it – here is my new writer’s streak.

And since, as Linda Grimes put it, some judges are lacking in a sense of whimsy, I strategically placed it so that it could be overlooked in court. Unless I meet a super whimsical judge, in which case, game on.

Writer's Streak 2

It’s Official! My Agent Just Accepted a Two-Book Deal From Tor/Forge Publishing!

Man, this writing thing is a long and winding road. And this is the moment you dream of but doubt will ever actually happen…the book deal.

I was lucky enough to gain representation from the amazing Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary and now we officially have a book deal! We just signed a deal with Tor Publishing for the first two books of my trilogy, The Contract Killers. (Which, despite the title, is actually a funny romance with a twist.)

So this wanna-be published author just became a gonna-be published author and dreams really do come true if you stick with it long enough and never give up.

Damn it, Mom. You missed it by four months. And you believed this moment would happen more than anyone. I ❤ you always.

Inspiring, My Ass.

Image

I’d like to thank Heather for the nomination that comes with a homework assignment. Just kidding. Sort of.

I don’t know how inspiring I actually am when the only uplifting thing I’ve written had to do with my goal of emulating my dogs’ blasé attitude. But, what the hell. I’ll play along. (And thanks for thinking of me, Heather 🙂 )

So, I know nothing about this, but apparently I’m supposed to give 7 facts about me:

  1. I’m 5′ 10″ but was never coordinated enough to play any tall-girl sports.
  2. Until I was about 19, I made everyone refer to my hair color as “strawberry blonde” because I refused to be called a redhead (now I embrace all my gingery splendor).
  3. Halloween is my favorite holiday. (Binge on horror movies AND dress up like a super hero? Yes, please.)
  4. The theme song for the TV show, “Angel,” is the ringtone on my phone.
  5. I played a hooker in a less-than-B movie about 16 years ago.
  6. My favorite book is A Tale of Two Cities (despite hating it in high school when we were forced to read it…thank God I re-read it as an adult).
  7. I have a useless, irrational phobia of mosquito hawks. (But they’re harmless! They eat mosquitos! No shit, Sherlock. They are also creepy and terrifying…and I’m pretty sure they can smell my fear.)

Okay – and part deux – I pass along the homework assignment nomination to bloggers I find inspiring. Problem is, as a general rule, I don’t follow “inspiring” bloggers…I follow funny ones. So here is my list of bloggers inspiring me to keep up my attempts at humor:

Truth Shall Set You Free So Don’t Be a Crybaby. Just the name is glorious. But her posts are, too.

Gone Catawampus. Really genuinely funny stuff. She even has a funny post about death. That is talent.

Sparklebumpsthebookwhore. She’s inappropriate and hilarious. The perfect combination.

Jonas Lee’s Imaginarium. Okay…he’s nicer than the rest of us and the closest I have to “inspiring” (mostly because he lets me call him “Avocado”).

Laughing Coyote Productions. Just found Deb a couple of days ago and was dazzled by this post where she explains the importance of lying in your biography. And somehow God passes her a note from the window of his truck on a busy thoroughfare. Delightful.

Idiot-prufs. Start with this post about a rejection from a children’s book publisher. It’s hilarious.

Underachiver’s Blog. No, I didn’t misspell it – that’s the way she’s got it. And this post is inspiring…when she says something does taste better than skinny feels…and that in her world Prince Charming likes a woman with a good backside.

Yes, I’m think I’m supposed to list more, but those are the ones that come to mind right now. I am always on the lookout for hilarious bloggers that make me LOL in inappropriate situations, though, so if you know of more, share!

Dear Lord, Make Me Funny.

Image

Although I would settle for you making everyone else less funny so that I seem funnier by comparison.

My husband is a big Joel Stein fan and just bought his book “Man Made.” He told me I had to read the intro. Just the intro. It’s hilarious. Well, turns out, Mr. Stein’s intro is funnier in four pages than I am in 41 years. I’m not certain of the conversion rate on those two units of measurement, but I’m pretty sure it makes me sad.

Because you can’t fake funny. Some people just are. I am not. I do have funny moments. When I’m drinking. Because alcohol makes me funnier makes me think I’m funnier. But the rest of the time? My cat is funnier than I am. (In my defense, though, she is hilarious.)

Although, according to my friends, I do excel at being unintentionally funny which is better than nothing. And probably puts me somewhere between Sponge Bob and Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the funny-meter.

Funny Meter