Thursday, March 26, 2009

Au Revior, Shar!

The day has finally come! I'm off to Louisiana for my road trip, research trip, and two week gab session with one of my best girlfriends. (We're both researching books, hers more historical than mine but some of our research overlaps.)

Internet will be sparse, but I will have email via my nifty Blackberry so email if you need something - please! Or if you miss me! Or have good news!

I hope I don't miss too much good stuff here with my blogging friends - but then again, I'm sure YOU are hoping for majorly, fantastic, out-of-this-world news - and I hope you get it, too!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Speaking of massive, mind and finger-numbing revisions

I'm not actually DONE with the current WIP called MURDERING THE DEAD or as it's also been known, MURDER IN THE HOUSE OF EMBALMING or KING TUT or THE MUMMY TENT for lack of any truly provocative title.

This first big round of revisions means I got through some MAJOR character and plot changes and the cutting and editing of practically EVERY SINGLE LINE.

I still have a boat-load of NOTE TO SELF XXX's sprinkled throughout the manuscript that still need attention.

And then it needs another critique by someone to discuss a few more points and catch all the new errors which I know is going to mean a couple more minor scenes added somewhere, just don't know quite where or how yet.

AND THEN a final polish.

Ain't revisions fun? Not!

For those who are keeping track . . . I started drafting this novel August 12, 2006 wherein I wrote the first three pages. I began research and plot development about 4-5 years ago.

Writing a 400 page historical novel is a COLOSSAL undertaking of nerve, guts and bravado, and, I'm pretty sure, sheer craziness.

Like I just needed a reminder . . . hee, hee.

But DANG, it's gonna be good.

But, But, But, I have a new book to write meanwhile under contract with Scholastic. From scratch. When I get home from Louisiana. And those lovely editorial revisions on The Healing Spell . . .

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Wow, I just spent the last three days finishing up the major over-haul on MURDERING THE DEAD. I wrote from about 3:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon to nearly 11:00 p.m. Can anyone say EXHAUSTION?

Yesterday I spent about 4 hours making some BIG CHANGES to the last chapter that I think will be more surprising, more of a twist, and more emotional. I feel drained, but pleased that I got to the end of this 400 page tome before I leave Friday for my trip to Louisiana. YAY!!!

I'm going to celebrate with some delicious beignets and crawfish etoufee and tour the swamp and see alligators and have a healing done by a traiteuse. CAN NOT WAIT!!!

I'm traveling with a friend who grew up in Louisiana and Alabama and so this is also a girlfriend road-trip. We're going to spend two weeks TALKING non-stop! No cooking, no cleaning, no babysitting. Lots of gabbing and beautiful countryside and meeting lots of cool people.

AND what's more - I contacted Cote Blanche Production Company that put out a documentary 10 years ago GOOD FOR WHAT AILS YOU, that was very helpful in locating some folk treaters for me - and yesterday I heard from the head writer and wife of the producer/director suggesting we have a meet-up for coffee while I'm there!!! Yahoo! I get to meet more movie people!!! They are super nice and their movies and documentary's all focus on Louisiana.

I'm feeling very blessed. And excited! Bet you can't tell . . .

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

One last snippet?

I'm hoping to finish this current major, mind-numbing, difficult, sweat-fill, agonizing revision by Saturday night. (I'm in an overflowing adjective frame of mind for some reason.)

Here's the end to the last chapter I revised yesterday.

Today might be my last Teaser Tuesday for MURDERING THE DEAD before I blog about my awesome research trip coming up in only two weeks! But you're *so* lucky (har, har!) because I'll give you slices of THE HEALING SPELL, first book up next year in June, 2010!! ;-D

Queen Ankhesenamun gently placed the king’s hand back onto the table against his side. “I’m finished. I just had to see him one last time. And to know that he’s in good hands. You will take care of him?”

“With my life, your majesty," Imarus told her. "And all my heart.”

She gave him a small smile, a single tear making a path down her cheek. “I feel that I can trust you. Tutankhaten did, too.”

Imarus realized that tears were filling his eyes as well. “I’m honored, my queen.” He stopped as his voice began to crack.

Pesashet came across the small space between them and Imarus felt the touch of her hand on his arm. “Thank you for giving us these few moments with him. You have a gift, Imarus, and I don’t think you even know it.”
Through the blur of his vision, Imarus realized that he felt closer to Pesashet, this girl that he loved, and the feeling spread through him with a sudden warmth. They were communicating in a way they never had before, but it wasn’t due to any private conversations or intimate caresses. Their souls had somehow collided in this awful moment in time.

Somehow, Pesashet knew how agonizing it was for him to mummify Pharaoh. It was as though she read his mind, and his heart both.

Queen Ankhesenamun drew the linen cloth back over her husband’s body, and raised her head. Lips white, she said, “May I see my baby now, please? And then I’ll be gone.”

Monday, March 16, 2009

Books Read since January

I can tell that I've been writing - albeit slow and painfully - and am crazy busy because I don't get to READ very much! I hate that. I adore books, I need my daily *fix* of story and characters and suspense and getting out of my own world once in awhile.

So here's my list of books read since January. It looks pathetically small, but at least all the books were GREAT, ha!

1. GRACELING by Kristin Cashore (great debut for fanstasy lovers. But then, you probably already knew that.)

2. WAKE by Lisa McMann (Lisa's writing style is very unusual, but the premise and plot keeps you hooked because you gota see what happens!

3. THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY by Adam Rex (Funky book that takes the right writer to pull off - and he did. Lots of fun!)

4. SAVVY by Ingrid Law (I love quirky well-written books!)

5. THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by who else? Neil Gaiman! (Love, love the people in that graveyard!)

I also discovered a new Southern adult writer who is absolutely freakin' fantastic. Joshilynn Jackson. She has the funniest blog, too. Faster than Kudzu



And a new adult mystery writer from Louisiana and sets her books in Louisiana and whom I get to meet in two weeks because she is a Cajun Traiteuse! YAY!

8. FAMILY INHERITANCE by Deborah LeBlanc

I do have a stack under the bed . . . just in case anybody's worried that I have nothing else to look forward to! Here's what that looks like:

1. CHAINS by Laurie Halse Anderson
2. THE SISTER by Poppy Adams (adult literary)
5. NEED by Carrie Jones
7. PERFECT CHEMISTRY by Simone Elkeles
8. THE HERO OF AGES by Brandon Sanderson (adult fantasy)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Biting off More than I can Chew?

Last September and October I read through my first draft of MURDERING THE DEAD, the ancient Egyptian novel about the murder of King Tut for the first time. I'd written it 18 months earlier and it sat metaphorically twiddling it's thumbs while I revised two of the books that sold to Scholastic, came up with ideas for the third which sold on a synopsis, and also revised a contemporary romance set in Paris which is still waiting for submission.

After the first round of clean-up I sent “Egypt” to two crit friends and one of them gave me a TON of ideas for adding more suspense and action and plot twists and using my secondary characters more deeply. Needless to say I was OVERWHELMED, but I knew the ideas would make a more exciting and dramatic book so I started to work on it again in January thinking I could be finished sometime in February. Yeah, right.

Well - here I am on March 12 - and I barely hit the HALFWAY MARK today! It's going so slowly and I'm rewriting and adding new scenes and cutting so much that I've been lucky to revise 5 pages a day.

Then last week I got my editorial letter for The Healing Spell and I'm leaving on a research trip to Louisiana in two weeks.

I sat down last night and figured out all the projects and travel that are coming up this year and sort of did a general map of my year. YIKES! It's going to be a hum-dinger of a year work-wise.


1. Do the editorial revisions of The Healing Spell

2. Finish the major revision of Murdering the Dead and get final readers for comment/critique

3. Write the first draft of The Traiteur's Daughter - the book sold on synopsis

4. Final polish of The Healing Spell and off to copyeditor

5. Final tweaks/revisions of Murdering the Dead after critique comments and send to agent for review

6. Two-Week Research Trip to Louisiana

7. Summer Family Trip to the Midwest

8. Plan and go on trip to Bulgaria and Italy with son Jared (we've been putting this off for two years and 2010 will be more difficult with two books coming out).

Out of the next 4.5 months I will be gone 6 weeks. Not including the planning/packing and all that extra stuff that goes with traveling. I'm going to revise three different books - and write a new one??? I think I'm officially crazy.


1. We'll have a new baby in the house along with the almost one-year old currently living here that I babysit several hours a day. :-D

2. First Revisions with my editor for Secret Rites of the Goddess

3. Copy edits of The Healing Spell

4. Copy edits of Secret Rites of the Goddess

5. Proofread galleys of The Healing Spell

6. Revisions of The Traiteur's Daughter with crit group to get it ready to send to agent/editor.

Come December I'm going to have to be put out to pasture.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Friday ONE!

Setting for THE HEALING SPELL, Scholastic, Summer 2010

I've had three books published by Avon and Knopf in the past, two of them orphaned, but I've never had an editor like the one who recently bought my three books at Scholastic. She is AWESOME, ENCOURAGING, and FILLED WITH KUDOS like I've NEVER heard before in my life!

Where has she been all my life? All those years of rejections? All those days I was ready to give up? Rewrite AGAIN??? It's been how many years I've worked on this book??? SEVEN you say??? Oh, the pain, the pain! Okay, okay, I'll revise one more time. But this is it! Do you hear me? I can't do this anymore!!!! But I believe in my story. I love my story. I'll try again to create something out of these black marks on the page . . .

Anyone else have daily inner dialogue with themselves like this? This kind of conversation has gone on inside my head for, um, decades? Some days it ain't pretty.

I got my first revision letter and the manuscript back with yellow sticky notes!!! It's real!

THIS blew me away:

"Let me begin by telling you what a joy it was to read your manuscript. Truly, the story and characters you have woven are so rich and compelling, your prose so lyrical and graceful; your words leap to brilliant life. . . . Rare is the manuscript that proves to be as beautiful, as excellent, as fun to read, and in as wonderful shape as this one. You've crafted an emotionally gripping story that kept me turning the pages hungrily, and Livie's vivacity, gumption and struggles . . . made me fall in love with her. And just as importantly, you've created a wonderfully alive and complex world filled with details that made me smell the thick Louisiana air and feel the mud squelching betwen my toes. Congratulations, and thank you. What a gift!"

She tells me I've given HER a gift! That touches my heart and makes me cry.

At the end of her letter, she concludes with, "the ending is just gorgeous. I cried and cried when I read it the first time, second time, and third time, too! Marvelous job!

She has given ME a gift. I will always treasure these words. Makes all the gestation, labor and birth pains disappear.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

I bring you a slice of MURDERING THE DEAD (working title) of my ancient Egypt suspense thriller. At least that's what I've recently started calling it because "Suspense Thriller" just sounds SO cool. It might also have something to do with the fact that I'm trying to add more conflict and suspense - and, um *thrill*.

Note: I've been doing a major revision on this book, practically a new second draft, and it's taken me a month to rework 120 pages. 240 pages to go . . . gulp. I can do a first draft faster than this!

This new corpse's chest was a mess. It was going to take some skill to fix the crushed ribs and remove the organs where blood had pooled in a dark stain under the skin. The hyenas had probably come down in search of food, which was common at harvest time. The hyenas were probably rabid, too. One of the other bodies waiting in line for Imarus’ embalming knife had died of rabies, another from lung disease, a fourth knifed in a bar-room brawl. Heart attacks, chariot accidents, swamp fevers—Imarus saw it all.

He stared at the sun-browned skin, the long hair a sweaty tangle of black strands. Strangely, a fistful of grass and seeds were still clenched in his fist. Imarus' gut clenched as he loosened the man’s grip. Tiny white flax and crumbles of drying mud fell into Imarus’ palm. The dead man’s fingers involuntarily curled again, and Imarus sucked in his breath, his heart stuttering in his chest. A tiny symbol of the Aten god was tattooed on the lower palm of the man's hand.

He jerked the ragged cloth off the face. Imarus hadn’t recognized the weeping elderly man who had brought the body, but he knew this face. This dead man was Kuni. Kuni.

A flood of memories from the late-night meetings in his father’s shadow-lit study washed over him. Kuni had attended every secret meeting, one of the younger men sitting in the rear, listening but not saying much. He couldn't be more than a few years older than Imarus. Even though a poor farmer, Kuni had been a valuable link between the Aten underground organization and the farmers they were recruiting for the future.

This could be me, Imarus thought, feeling a shiver crawl down his spine.



Winner of The Southwest Book Award!

Time travel, war, love, rattlesnakes, magic . . .

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