Colleen Gleason: The Rest Falls Away

Confession time. I meant to read this book last year. The concept–Buffy in Regency England–intrigued me last July when I met Colleen Gleason at the RWA National in a Venator tee shirt.

Why didn’t I read it way back then? Time and space. No, not in some weird sci-fi sense. I left the RWA National Conference with too many books. Too many books! (Monkey Boy‘s head would explode if he heard me use that phrase, since he thought I had too many books prior to said conference.) As it turns out, I did myself a disservice. I should’ve bought it way back when!
Erica Ridley
After heading home last July with ~100 new, free, mostly signed books, my TBR (to-be-read) shelves bowed under the strain. Except for the occasional local chapter signing, I didn’t purchase any new books during the ensuing months because I didn’t have the time to read them nor the space to put them. (Since I have also attended 4 regional conferences during the past year, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn my TBR count exceeds 200. Daunting, even for a confessed bibliophile like myself!)

However. I happen to be between stories right now, as I’m in the planning phase for DATD. When I saw Colleen’s contest on her blog, I just had to enter. And, wonder of wonders, I won! Colleen sent me a tee shirt (pictured right) and a copy of her book. (You can win, too, because it’s not over yet. Go check it out!)

I opened the book yesterday around 5:30pm, meaning to sneak in a chapter or so between my “real” work (ie, client stuff I should be doing) but then the next thing I knew, it was a quarter til 10 in the evening and I’d just hit The End. And I wanted more.

So I fired off an email to Colleen, babbled fan-girl style1 (and begged for confirmation of a certain story element I hoped would also be present in the sequel) and added a new author to my keeper shelves.

Rises The Night comes out in June (Aargh! I will be in a 3rd world country for the entire month, with absolutely zero access to new releases until I return toward the beginning of July!) but The Rest Falls Away is out now. If you haven’t already read it, go buy it and join me in the comment trail to dish about the story and whether you fell hardest in love for M or S or P. (For me? S, baby. *purr*)

1I waxed incoherent on how I thought M was like early Angel and S was like Spike, and how h-a-w-t I find the whole bad boy who loves being bad angle… Hey! Lightbulb! There’s actually a BBWLBB in DATD, him being a demon and all… I think I just found my weakness!

Your turn: Have you read TRFA? If not, have you at least entered the contest on Colleen’s blog? Read any other good books lately? If so, please spill author/title info! And confess… what do YOUR to-be-read shelves/piles look like?

Costa Rica: Days 7 & 8

My last two days in Costa Rica were mostly filled with traveling.

On Thursday afternoon, we drove to San Jose (about a 3.5 hour drive) because our flight left the following morning at 7:30 am.

Beforehand, I visited some of the local area schools.

I’m attaching a lunchroom photo at the local elementary school, and a photo inside one of the pre-school classrooms.

I also got to fill up on mango cake before the long drive. Mmmmm. (No comments from the peanut gallery about fitting into a wedding dress this fall!)

That night, we ate at a Persian-Mexican restaurant, which was a first for me.

I’ve had plenty of TexMex in my life, but never Persia-Mex. Tasty, though!

Your turn: How was your weekend? What’s the most “different” restaurant experience you’ve had in recent memory?

Costa Rica: Days 5&6

Sorry, didn’t have Internet yesterday. Did manage to read more of various CP excerpts which were already downloaded onto my laptop (yay!) and that was fun.

I brought one of my older stories with me thinking I was going to have time to do some revision.

Wrong again.

Every moment has been packed with something, mostly computer stuff and translation stuff.

BUT, I did manage to go hiking yesterday and horseback riding day before yesterday!

On my hike through the forest, I ran into some cows. Technically, they ran into me.

And sniffed my hair. And licked me.

Your turn. I’d love to know your experiences with squeezing in writing time while not at home and/or your adventures with bumping into animals in the wild.

Costa Rica: Day 4

Today was mostly full of work, so I’ll talk some more about yesterday. While still in the house, I squeezed in some time to read some of my CP’s partial that she plans to enter into contests.

On our way to the festival, we stopped by the side of the road to get drinks for the kids and the roadside stand was next to a pineapple field.

Besides pineapples (which I had no idea grew from bush-like plants) I also saw several butterflies.

Okay, here’s the funniest part, which I can’t believe I forgot to tell you about last time. While we were kicking it old school on the dance floor above the bull ring, we saw a twenty-something man wearing a LED screen belt buckle.

Yeah, you heard me. LED screen. Turquoise lights spelled out whole sentences, marquee-ing across the rectangular screen three or four letters at a time.

By the time we’d pieced together the first word or two, we realized two things. 1) We were staring at his crotch. 2) He had no doubt planned that effect. Aargh!!

Your turn. What’s the weirdest or most bizarre fashion statement (or fashion victim) you’ve come across?

Costa Rica: Day 3

I am snatching a few moments online to check in with all of you. I don’t have yesterday’s photos downloaded yet but I will give you some from the day before while I fill you in on yesterday’s activities.

We went to a fiesta in a city just this side of the Nicaraguan border. (We could see Nicaragua across the water.)

It drizzled throughout, but that didn’t stop the party. There were lots of people riding show horses, making them do tricks and dance. At another part, a little girl (maybe age 7) sat on a show horse with a cordless mic and sang… All I can say is WOW. Best set of pipes I ever heard. (Not sure if Blogger can post video or not, but I took a maybe 5 second clip with my digital camera, and I’ll upload it if possible.)

A few blocks away, a magician performed on a stage. His first tricks were with sheets of newspaper (and even less impressive than it sounds) but he progressed to rope tricks (which were cool) and disappearing/reappearing egg tricks. His finale was to shove the newspaper in a metal pot, set fire to it, slap the lid on top, and then lift the lid to reveal—a rabbit! (clarification: a small, shaking, scared sh*tless, bunny rabbit)

Next we visited a two-story bullring. The ground floor was the big dirt circle where the bulls ran, and the top floor was a discoteca. We danced a little and then slunk back to the wall when the music changed from general (hispanic) dance music to salsa. I have little-to-no salsa skills (I can follow someone’s lead, and that’s about it) but the locals were amazing. After we overcame our salsa-envy, we peeked over the side rails at the bulls penned below. (We didn’t end up staying for a bull fight.)
Your turn: How was your weekend? Did it rain for you, too? What was the funniest (or weirdest) thing that happened?

Costa Rica: Day 2

Today I hiked from Mata de Canas (the town where the house is) to Nuevo Arenal (the larger, neighboring town). Being Saturday, the bank was not open (yes, there’s only one) but I tried to use the ATM outside the bank. After the machine said “transaction canceled” for the second time, I wondered if maybe their network couldn’t connect to my U.S. Internet bank. So I tried the “check balance” option. It connected fine, but gave me a balance of zero. Zero!

Naturally, I was a bit concerned. Had some nefarious shyster stolen my identity and drained my bank account? I went directly to the grocery store and purchased a milk box (like a Hi-C juice box, but with caramel flavored milk). When the cashier rang up my purchase (U.S. equivalent of 40 cents) I handed over my debit card. (I know she was wondering what kind of freak charges a 40 cent purchase, and that answer is me when I’m testing whether or not I’ve been ruined.) Thankfully, the charge went through just fine, so I’m forced to assume the ATM was out of whack, not my bank account. Whew!

On my way back to the house (where some actual progress was made on the to-do list of reasons we came down) a man on horseback stopped me. He said, (in Spanish) “Would you like me to take your photo?” Realizing I was clutching my camera in a classic tourist pose, I said, “Sure, why not?” He then leapt down from his horse and said, “Go on. Get up!” To which I said something brilliant, like, “Uhhh… get on your horse?” And he said, “Yes, yes, I will photo you riding my horse.”

So I shrugged, said OK, and hopped onto his horse. He took the camera from me, and after some minor technical difficulties (he first looked into the lens side instead of the LCD screen side) he managed to take my photo. He then helped me down from the horse, handed me back my camera, and rode off.

Your turn. I want to know your experiences with ATM cards freaking out (surely I can’t be alone in this!) or random conversations with strangers.

Costa Rica: Day 1

I left for Costa Rica on Friday morning. The layover was in Miami and naturally, this being Florida, a thunderstorm ensued, leaving us stranded on the runway for an hour or so. Customs in San Jose was also a long wait, but believe me–Costa Rica is worth it! I have never been to a prettier place in my life.

So, the first thing we did was get in the car to drive to the house. Not a short trip, since we were at the San Jose airport instead of Liberia, which is the closer (but in this case, more expensive) airport.

On our drive up, we met with the infamous Costa Rican pot holes, as well as an entire herd of piscote. When we arrived at the house, we sat outside with a bottle of Imperial (the national beer) and watched the sunset. (Ah, bliss)

I do have more photos, but at these upload speeds…. Please forgive me!

Your turn. I want to know your travel horror stories! Give me your best (worst) airport experience, sauna-sized pot holes, whatever.

Working Vacation?

Today I leave for Costa Rica. I’ll be back next Friday. Since I do business wherever my laptop happens to be, the plan is to keep posting all next week while I’m gone. (Provided that there’s no snafus with Internet access, of course.)

I’m super-excited because a) I love to travel, and b) Costa Rica remains the prettiest place I’ve ever been in my life. (And I’ve been to quite a few places!)

So, while I’m gone, would you like me to post about:

  1. Costa Rica, baby. Tell us everything!
  2. Writer stuff only. We don’t care about Costa Rica.
  3. Happy medium? Can we have a little of both?

Vote in the comments!

Pep Talk to Aspiring Authors

So, today my crit partners were throwing a pity party because the ratio of aspiring authors to acquiring editors is astronomical. I say, WHO CARES? What’s that got to do with me?!

Actually, what I say is this:

First, you cannot, repeat, CANNOT, think of writing (or any profession) from a statistical standpoint.

Sure, there’s thousands (or even tens of thousands) of aspiring authors to every agent, and an even bigger discrepancy when compared to publishing houses. So? It’s not the lottery, where all tickets are created equal.

Do you write a genre that sells? As a matter of fact, if you write Romance, you write a genre that sells 55% of all published fiction. Zow. So right there, your ticket is worth a lot more than ANY OTHER GENRE WRITER OUT THERE. Okay? With me?

Now. Are you a member of a professional organization, and do you take advantage of the information/loops/etc of said organization? If so, once again, less than half aspiring authors do this. Maybe less than 1% if we count all the wannabes that “are going to write a book someday” but don’t have the courage to put pen to paper and get the party started. =)

Do you study the craft by reading books/blogs/etc or taking workshops? If so, once again, you cannot BELIEVE the number of would-be authors that do not do this.

Are you a member of a constructive, helpful critique group whose advice you both respect AND strive to implement whenever it improves the story? If so, Hades and Hermes, only a fraction of the professional aspiring authors out there can say yes to that! Do you know how hard it is to find that kind of support? And how hard it is to TAKE and ACT ON constructive criticism? If you’ve got both of that, you are WAY ahead of the curve!

So now the piece of paper you’re holding looks less like a scratch off and more like Charlie Bucket’s golden ticket, my friend!

The last three things consist of talent, which cannot be taught, but if you are getting requests and/or contest finals then you probably possess in spades, SKILL, which comes from practicing the craft and learning from experience, and PERSERVERANCE, which is 100% up to you.

Had J.K. Rowling or Stephen King given up after the first 200 rejections, we wouldn’t have Harry Potter or Cujo today. Got me?

So buck up, soldiers! You can and WILL! Go forth and write!

Miss Snark’s Crapometer

Well, I finally got off my duff and cranked out 750 words for Miss Snark. Actually, I wrote 1200 words and had to cut it down to fit the maximum. I squeaked in a few hours before the deadline, although I have not received confirmation that the email arrived safe and sound. So far, it’s not on her web site anywhere, so we’ll see.