Okay, so Release Point is done, in a manner of speaking.  I’ve rewritten the last half of the story, and I promised myself I’d put it aside for a week and either play with something new or just take time off from writing altogether.  My mom needs an afghan for a neighbor who just had twins (I have a “spare” in the closet but not two) but I couldn’t find a pattern I liked enough to want to spend X hours on it.  Three hours of pulling out pattern books, trying the patterns out, giving up, starting over…I went to bed at 10 thoroughly disgusted.  I should’ve just read another JR Ward book instead.

Last night, just for giggles, I opened Release Point and the first page popped up.  “On a warm July night in St. Louis, Paul Dante…”  I looked at the first line that I’ve read at least a thousand times, and I cringed.  I just couldn’t read it.  It’s like when you see your driver’s license photo and you think, “Oh my God, do I really look like that?” and then you tuck it in your wallet and hope you never have to look at it again.  I couldn’t stomach even the thought of looking at the story, and I closed the file and walked away from the computer and let Alex play on games for an hour. 

I’m working on the synopsis for RP instead, which is challenging when you consider that the synopsis I wrote to get it into the NJRW contest bears little resemblance to the “finished” product, but I’m hoping they’ll let me resubmit a revised edition in case I final.  If I don’t, then I’ll have some interesting feedback awaiting me.  Last time I entered NJRW, I saw my overall score, bagged up the entries, and tucked them on the top shelf of the closet, a place I can’t reach without a ladder…but I can sure throw things up there if I don’t need them any time soon.  It took me 6 months to pull it back down again and see what the judges said.  Most of the feedback was positive, but not positive enough to warrant high scores.  Of course, looking back, that book wasn’t all that good.  Release Point, I think, is way better than that. 

Alas, patience is not one of my virtues…

My triumphant return

I can make that statement, pretty sure in its authenticity.  Over the last 9 days I’ve been so obsessed with finishing the rewrite on Release Point that I managed to write 43K words despite a full day at Hershey Park and a half day at Citizens Bank Park at the Phillies Phestival, not to mention a minor loud argument with my husband, a day job, and assorted other responsibilities.  Yesterday, despite a major case of exhaustion (it may have had something to do with standing on line for hours at HP, then doing it all again at CBP), I wrote 10K words to finish RP for the second time.  I still think it’s WAY better than it was but I know the last scenes need a lot more emotion in them.  I can do that.

The odd thing is that emotions slipped in that I hadn’t seen coming.  At one point the heroine’s father explains why he left her mother; her mother did to her father what I did to my ex before I left.  Our expectations were so far apart that we couldn’t stay together and stay sane.  I’d lost a great deal of myself in being who he wanted me to be, until I realized I couldn’t be that person anymore.  That’s why Danny left Elizabeth.  When I finished the scene, I had to hold my breath because it really pulled something out of me to be able to admit to that.  At the time, I’d just thought I was unhappy and he was a selfish bastard.  It was as much my fault as it was his.  (Maybe more mine; he didn’t really work on conscious thought very much.  I’m convinced he had ganglion where a brain should’ve been.)

I haven’t yet re-read the last 10K words.  Once I do that, maybe I can slip in a little more feeling, and then I’ll put it away for a week before I open it up again and read it through from the beginning.  It’ll be interesting, seeing the difference from the first version and this one.  Oh, and I need a whole new synopsis.  Even the one I sent the NJRW contest is off. 

I totally love this story and I adore the characters, but almost as much, I love that this story is finally done.  I can now, with a clear conscience, sit back and read another JR Ward book, or crochet something while watching baseball on TV, or even doodle with one of my other unfinished ideas.  There’s nothing I need to get done.  I’m on my own timetable now.  What an amazing feeling of liberation!

Me again

I’m still here.  Release Point is flying fast and furious, but I had to stop to go back to drop in some added motivation on Paul’s part.  I think it really amps up his reason for what he did, and it also shows how much he’s willing to give up for Grace.  I get breathless just thinking about it. 

I updated the Excerpts page.  Take a look and tell me what you think.  I’m SO excited! 

Back to climbing the wall!  (RIP, Dr. Pausch.)

Time Off

As much as I love blogging, I’m taking some time off for a little while.  When you get a message from God telling you to focus on editing and rewriting a Work in Progress, you don’t say, “Actually, I have better things to do; thanks anyway.”  Besides, I spent some time on the rewrites yesterday and I like what came through.  This might not be the Impossible Task that I thought it would be.  The characters came back to me without a problem, and I have visions of turning the antagonist into a truly nasty guy.  I even think my voice is better now than it was two years ago when I first wrote it.

Forgive me, but I’ll be stepping away for a little while.  As Mr. Rogers said, “I’ll be back when the day is new/And you’ll have things you want to talk about.  I will too.”  🙂

Deus ex iPod

Yesterday I got a message from God.  I don’t doubt it because I talked to a friend at my RWA chapter and she said it happens to her too.  Thanks, Leslie, for convincing me I’m not just clinically insane.

It was a disappointing day, starting off with that immense feeling of failure at seeing my friend succeed where I’m still hitting a brick wall.  House-hunting is turning into a nightmare that would scare Freddie Kruger.  Then comes something every writer dreads.  (The girls at VFRW call it “the big R”.)  I was feeling lost and at odds with everything I wanted in my life.

I sat in the car and clasped my hands together in prayer and said, “God, please, just point me in the right direction.”  Of course, I’m sitting in the car at the time; God isn’t a GPS, so I felt kind of silly.  But then I plugged in my iPod.  The first song that came on had been playing in the morning when I turned it off, “Have a Little Faith in Me”.  Ironic, but I pretty much saw that one coming.

Next, though, was a song that I still believe Atlantic City gifted me with personally, Nick Lachey’s “What’s Left of Me”.  John and I went to AC for my birthday in ’07 and I wanted to walk the boardwalk so I could see where Paul’s bar in “Release Point” would be.  John had a blister on his heel so I walked it alone, no music (the way Grace did when she went walking every day in the MS), down to the south end of the boardwalk where the casinos are just buildings in the distance.  I found the location and felt a chill flutter over my nerve endings.  On the way back I passed a casino that piped music out to the boardwalk, and that song was playing.  The lyrics fit Paul so well that I knew it was a gift:  “Watch my life pass me by in the rear view mirror…I don’t wanna waste another day stuck in the shadow of my mistakes…Now I’m broken and I’m faded, I’m half the man I thought I would be; but you can have what’s left of me…take what’s left of this man; make me whole once again.”  It stopped my heart cold.  I didn’t have my note pad with me so I repeated the lyrics in my head over and over until I could get back to a pen and paper and scribble down what I’d heard.  

Next up:  Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry”.  I’d been feeling like crying all day.  I didn’t.

Next:  Avril Lavigne, “Keep Holding On”.  Self-explanatory.

Next:  Mark McGuinn, “Mrs. Steven Rudy”.  Maybe God just needed a laugh.  Surely He knows I love that song for its snappy beat and the POV of someone who’s lusting after something he knows he can’t have. 

Next:  Harry Connick Jr., “Where or When”.  I couldn’t hear the song but the title said it all.

Next:  “On the Right Track” from Pippin.  ‘Nuf said.

Next:  Bruce Springsteen, “Thunder Road”.  An anthem when I was growing up, I picked up on the words, “Sit tight, take hold.”  (“Well I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk…”)

Next:  John Williams, “Theme from Star Wars”.  Not sure what that was supposed to mean but it sounded ominous.

Next:  Josh Groban.  It calmed me down when I had a case of road rage.  (One of two.  It was a full moon and the talent on the road showed it.  I wanted to cry for the adrenaline running through my veins, but I remembered the song that had played earlier.)

Next:  Susan Tedeschi’s “Alone”.  ‘Nuf said.  Snappy, jazzy beat.  “Don’t want to be here alone.”

Next:  Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying”.  That says it all.

Next:  Shania Twain, “Up!”  The lyrics:  “Up up up, can only go up from here.” 

Next:  Keith Urban, “I Thought You Knew”.  I might be stretching with that one, unless He’s addressing my nagging self-doubt.

Next:  James Morrison, “You Give Me Something”.  That song (on TNT commercials) dogged me through numerous ball games until I gave in and searched iTunes for it.  More good lyrics:  “I never thought that I’d love someone; that was someone else’s dream.”

Next:  Rascal Flatts, “I’m Movin’ On”.  “At last I can see that life has been patiently waiting for me; and I know there’s no guarantees but I’m not alone.”

Next:  Cowboy Mouth:  “Too Much Fun”.  The song that played over a highlight montage at Cooperstown last July while we waited for the Induction ceremonies to begin.  It gave me the distinct impression that baseball is one heck of a fun game to play. 

That’s when we came home.  Okay, God, I get the message.  I’m going back to work on “Release Point” ’til it’s done, and then I’ll go back to my other WIPs.

Congratulations, Judi Fennell!

My inner b*tch has to take a back seat for a little while because my RWA chapter president, my friend, has finally achieved something she’s been working toward for many, many years.  Judi Fennell sold her 3-book Mer series to Sourcebooks today. 

Judi practically broke her back in the First Chapters and American Title contests, but she told us that she learned some amazing things about promotion from those experiences.  She encouraged us all to go to the Long Island Romance Writers Luncheon, and I’m realizing now that I should’ve sat at her table so I could’ve watched her in action.  Judi’s a fantastic writer and an amazing person, and I’m SO proud and excited for her! 

And yes, I’m jealous as hell, though I’m starting to realize, maybe I’m not so much jealous of her as I am mad at myself because I’m not quite there yet.  My day is coming and I’m damn well not giving up.  I’m definitely not as gregarious as Judi is, but I’m learning from her, and I want to learn more.  Judi stands as proof to the rest of us what we can accomplish if we keep our heads in the game at all times.  Never ever give up.

Congratulations, Judi!  As Laura said, massive amounts of cyber-bubbly to you!!  Please don’t forget us “little people” when you’re on the NYT Bestseller list.  🙂

Accepting my Inner B*tch

I’m 41 years old, dammit, and today I pick up my first (and probably not my last) pair of reading glasses.  I’m even a little happy about them; they’re cute and more importantly, I’ll be able to read books at night.  I might even be able to see the computer screen after 10 pm.  What’s not to love?

I’m overweight but I’m relatively healthy.  Sure, my butt could shelter a Peterbilt, but it also makes for comfortable sitting, and I can bump people out of my way (sometimes without even trying).  I’m learning to be comfortable in my own skin, even though I have more of it than I need.  The other day I was miserable in my own skin but that was probably PMS talking. 

I have more gray hair now than I did at the beginning of the year.  I blame most of that on the house-hunting.  I just couldn’t stomach the idea of looking at another house, so I gave myself yesterday off and went to the supermarket instead, and probably spent so much that we can’t afford a house anymore.  But I noticed this morning that the gray hair is almost kind of cute; I’m starting to get that Bride-of-Frankenstein-streak thing going on, which is unique, or at least, it would be if the Bride of Frankenstein hadn’t done it first.  At least in general my hair looks good, and I hear gray hairs are thicker than regular hairs.  I’ll take all the help I can get.  I’m so jealous of my blonde friends; their transition to gray won’t be nearly as noticeable.  I seriously considered coloring it again but a) there’s the continual problem with upkeep, and b) it’s such a pain in the butt.  So for now the gray stays where it is, and I hope I can pull off “distinguished” with a grace equal to George Clooney. 

The media these days seem to think we should be afraid of everything.  We have TSA, video cameras on every street corner, and the Patriot Act is legal despite every clause that contradicts the Constitution.  When we go home (just where we think we ought to feel safe) and look in the mirror, we should be afraid of who we see because <GASP!> we’re aging, therefore we need to buy a few hundred dollars worth of products to make sure we still look like we’re 17.  Get with reality, people.  Every 7 years our body’s cells replace themselves, and we all know that copies are never as good as the originals.  That’s why babies are so perfect; they’re still working with the original material.  After your first birthday, it all goes downhill, so relax and enjoy the ride.