"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)


Fess Up Friday

I finished all my Valentine's chocolates.

I haven't done yoga since Monday.

I skipped my afternoon rest so I could finish a game of Civilization IV.

My kids had to eat boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner.

And they had to make it themselves.

I have three loads of clean laundry sitting in laundry baskets.

I didn't do any writing for half the week.

I missed Fiction Friday.


TOC 2011: Margaret Atwood, "The Publishing Pie: An Author's View"

This is such a good, fun presentation by the lovely Margaret Atwood. I recommend it to all of you who are carefully watching the state of the Publishing Pie, as she calls it. Don't let the length of it deter you; it is really worthwhile, and she's very entertaining.

Thank you to Rachelle Gardner for calling it to my attention.


My Funny Valentine

David turned his key in the front door, opened it, and quietly made his way into the dark hallway.  A solitary light came from deep inside the house. He dropped his briefcase and overcoat in the hall closet, loosened his tie, and started toward the gleam.  As he was passing through the living room, the table in the shadows of the dining room caught his eye.


Two places had been set with their good china, cloth napkins, and sparkling crystal goblets.  Jenny had never done more than get him a card before, and after three months of her withholding sex, he really hadn't expected this.

He heard a shuffle and turned.  Jenny stood in the doorway of the room, wearing her terry cloth robe and fuzzy pink slippers.  Even with the light behind her, he could see that her eyes were red-rimmed and swollen.  He shrugged helplessly.

"I'm so sorry.  I had no idea.  Work has been so busy, and I stayed late to try to get caught up.  I completely forgot it was Valentine's Day."

That was a lie.  He hadn't forgotten at all.  He'd simply chosen to spend the evening banging Phoebe, his secretary, on the suede couch in his office than enduring the cold silence of the woman he'd married.

"I know how busy you've been.  It's OK," Jenny said without looking at him.

That, too, was a lie.  It was not OK.  He could almost see her mentally taking out a three by five card and writing "2-14-2011: Missed Valentine's Day dinner" in bright red ink.  It would be filed away in that endless card catalog of hurts and mistakes that she had kept over the last 12 years.

She moved toward the table and picked up a covered platter.

"I could heat it up for you," she said as she walked into the adjoining kitchen.

"No, no, that's OK.  I had take-out at the office."

Now that was true.  He had ordered a three-course meal from Avanti Ristorante delivered to his office, complete with antipasto, crab-stuffed chicken over angel hair pasta, crusty bread and olive oil, and tiramisu for dessert, all served with the house champagne.  Phoebe had gotten tipsy, and then a little bit whiny.

"When are you going to leave your wife?" she'd asked him as he walked her to her car.

"Soon," he'd promised, then kissed her good-bye and watched her drive away.

Jenny came back into the dining room and began clearing the table.

"I can help with dishes," he offered.

She waved him away with a tired smile.  She was in full-martyr mode now.

"I'll just set them in the sink and do them tomorrow.  They didn't really get dirty."

He picked up the goblets and followed her, added them to the rest of the untouched dishes, and turned to leave. 

She reached out and caught his arm.  It was the first time they had touched, that they had been close enough to touch, in months.  Her hand trembled with uncertainty.

"Happy Valentine's Day," she said and finally looked up at him.

He held her eye, fell into those bottomless ebony pools and saw the jagged cuts and tears that he had caused.  Another lie.  He'd never leave her.  He'd always stay.  It was his penance.

"Happy Valentine's Day."


K, this wasn't my favorite.  I guess I'm not a comfortable cynic! 

Today's prompt:

Its late on Feb 14th. Your character has just realised that they have forgotten Valentines Day and the affiliated expectations surrounding it. What excuse or reason are they going to give to their partner?

To play along, visit Write Anything's [Fiction] Friday here.


The Liar Society Contest

Another contest!  All right, maybe I haven't fully recovered from the move, and maybe I still don't feel well, and maybe I'm looking for an easy way to keep my blog active... but, really, I'd love to win this contest!

To win an ARC (advance reading copy) of Lisa and Laura Roecker's upcoming YA novel The Liar Society Contest, visit Jill Scribbles here.


Contest Winners

Cathryn Grant announced the winners of her "I Love to Read" contest today on her blog, Suburban Noir.  I was happy to see so many of my commenters on the list!  Be sure to find out if you've won -- and let me know what you think of her book, when you've finished reading!

Congratulations, winners!


The Cure

Dr. Jonathon Randall was merely twenty-nine years old when he watched his wife pass through agonizing torment and from his life forever.  She left him with a chubby two-year old daughter who had her mother's eyes and her mother's smile.  Seeing the child sent waves of pain shooting through him, and so he hired a nanny and threw himself into his work.

He initially determined that he would find a cure for cancer, but he soon found that that was not sufficient.  He had to find a way to eradicate all disease, anything that could threaten to take his daughter, his second great love, away from him.

Dr. Randall was a brilliant geneticist, and his work progressed quickly.  First he learned how to catalog individual genes in the human genome.  Then he focused on perfecting splicing techniques.  His breakthrough led to a patent on designer genes, and he marketed the technology to a chain of fertility clinics.  He made a fortune off of parents who carried home from the hospital babies with beautiful blond hair and blue eyes, who were more likely to win spelling bees and make captain of the football team.

He used the money to further finance his research.  He expanded his laboratory and hired an army of the most brilliant young minds to assist him.  He learned how to identify defective genes, and he developed the technique for replacing them.  He focused his attention on the code for immunity, and through many experiments learned how to create a super-immune individual.

But that would only help the rising generation, the new babies of parents who could afford the enormous expense of genetic manipulation.  His own beloved daughter still caught colds and flus and once, walking pneumonia.

He stumbled upon the answer while he was recruiting at the International Conference for Young Scientists in Alexandria, Egypt.  One impressive young man, fresh out of grad school and still working on his doctorate, had given a fascinating presentation on the potential of retroviruses.  With their ability to invade and insert their own DNA into host cells, they were the perfect vehicle for transferring engineered genetic material into anyone, anyone at all.  Dr. Randall offered the lad a six-figure salary on the spot, and arranged to have him begin working at the lab the following Monday.

It worked.  After several more years, Dr. Randall had created a super-bug, a retrovirus that contained the ability to alter a person's DNA so that they would be resistant disease.  He had done it.  But as Dr. Randall held the triumph in his shaking his hands, he finally looked up from his work and discovered that his daughter was now a stranger to him, and humanity was no longer worth saving.


Today's prompt: 

“My Million Dollar Idea
Identify a problem or issue – either in your everyday life or community. What product or service could ease this?
Let your imagination go crazy. If you had access to all the resources you needed, what would your million dollar idea be? Just remember, alot of the advances in science came about from writers ‘crazy’ ideas and asking “what if?”

This was very fun for me, getting back in the swing of things after our horrific move!  And, just as a teaser, this is part of my story that started with "Iced."  You can read my previous excerpts here, and here, and here.

And don't forget, this is the last day to enter Cathryn's giveaway for a free copy of her debut novel, The Demise of the Soccer Moms, and a free Kindle!  Visit her blog for details at Suburban Noir.


11 Reasons

Welcome Guest Blogger, Cathryn Grant!  Cathryn is an indie author who has just released her debut novel, The Demise of the Soccer Moms.  She's here to share with us her journey in deciding to become an indie author.  She is also hosting a fabulous contest on her blog, Suburban Noir where you can enter to win a brand new Kindle, or even more exciting, a Free Copy of her book.

11 Reasons Why I Became an Indie Author

I’ve wanted to be a fiction writer since I was ten years old and wrote, The Mystery Of The Missing Mansion. Yeah, it took me a long time to get here. I started writing seriously about twelve years ago. By “seriously” I mean I got up before work every day and wrote for an hour. I dedicated a few hours every Saturday and Sunday – as much as was humanly possible.

When I thought I had a novel ready for prime time, I started researching agents and working on a query letter. In the winter of 2010 as I read more and more about the industry, I realized everything had changed.

Here are the touch points in my life that led to the decision.

1. 2008: It was generally understood that a debut author would have little to no say in the title or cover of her novel. I accepted this fact, but I loved my long title and every time I had a positive reaction to it, I felt annoyed at the influence of the publishing sales department.

2. 2009: I began to realize, through reading agent blogs, that a writer was responsible for nearly all the marketing of her novel – I started blogging.

3. 2009: I learned that most books are only in bookstores for 2-3 months, that some books don’t make it to all bookstores – it depends on the sales rep and the store buyer.

4. 2009: I learned that most novels don’t earn out their advance.

5. Feb 2010: A guy in Australia read one of my short stories on my website and contacted me about possibly using it to make an Indie film. Nothing has come of it yet, but I realized the global reach of the web in a very personal way.

6. Jan/Feb 2010: Amazon announced 70% royalty for Indie Authors. I knew that with the traditional route, authors could expect to earn 8-10% off the list price on a trade paperback, out of which she’d pay 15% to her agent.

7. Jan-March 2010: I’d spent six or seven years working to get short stories published because I’d heard this would help get agents’ attention. It did. As I queried agents in early 2010, I received feedback that my credentials and writing were good, but a “pass” on representation.

8. May 2010: I took a class in using Web 2.0 tools for fiction. The class focused on podcasting, but the instructors emphasized that the web allows writers to connect directly with their audience. This was a major “aha” moment for me and the tipping point. My goal had been to find an agent, to get a publishing contract. What about focusing on finding an audience of readers who liked my voice? I started thinking about self-publishing.

9. May/June 2010: A form rejection from an agent arrived in my mailbox on a little slip of green paper – “Due to the state of the publishing industry, we have to be very selective in what we represent.” Really? I said. The state of the industry?

I read everything I could find on publishing, advances, royalties, the marketing effort required of a writer (now I had to tweet too!) and saw that the publishing industry was going through a major shake-up. I realized that everything I thought I’d known as I worked on my writing with the goal of being a published author was no longer (maybe never had been) true. All bets were off. I re-discovered Joe Konrath’s bog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. He’d done a complete about-face from his previous suggestions and was urging writers to self-publish.

10. June 2010: Zoe Winters, Karen McQuestion and others crossed my radar and I realized self-publishing was no longer a last resort, no longer about vanity presses, and was fast losing it’s “stigma”.

11. July 2010: As I told family, friends, and co-workers about my decision, I learned that the “stigma” seemed to exist primarily in the minds of writers and the publishing industry, not the readers I know.

In July I made my decision to self-publish “The Demise of the Soccer Moms” and started getting my novel ready for the marketplace. I experimented a bit with a collection of my Flash Fiction, just to see how Smashwords worked. It’s been a lot of work, learning to format (I’ve since learned I made this more complicated than necessary), figuring out how to get my work in front of readers, and adding all the logistical stuff to my writing schedule. My husband has done a ton of work – he did all the formatting and interior design for the print version that will be available in April. He’s also put in a lot of time talking me down off the roof!

It’s been exhausting, but the fun kind. I feel constant energy and the love knowing I’m in control of where my writing goes rather than sitting waiting for agents or publishers to show interest.

This is an exciting time to be a writer. Just a few years ago, directly reaching readers worldwide wasn’t possible. Everything has changed, but one thing remains the same – people are thirsty for stories.

Thanks for inviting me here, and thanks for asking me to blog about a topic I could talk about for hours.

Thank you, Cathryn, and best of luck with your fantastic new book!