I woke up in a bad mood to begin with. Groggy, tired, I squinted at my cell phone as I staggered into the kitchen in search of some coffee and dog food. The kibble was for Sandie and Dolce, the coffee, well, for me. But I paused when I saw an email subject line from an old friend in the east: “Sad news.” And I knew.
Lorraine was my first real editor. While that in itself is important, what was even more valuable was her belief in me as a writer. As an author. She loved my stories, praised them time after time. The edits were grueling; after all, these were my early romance novels and I was still developing my skills. But she once said, of StarCrossed Hearts, “I must have read this manuscript seven times by now, and I still love reading it. Your characters are like old friends of mine.”
She once pitched my book to John DeSalvo, who happened to be sitting at the same table during a romance book convention. For those not in-the-know, John is one of the most popular romance novel cover models ever–he’s appeared on over 1500 books! So John mentioned he was going to become a movie producer and was looking for a big, epic romance to film. Lorraine handed him a copy of my book. Bless her heart.
Lorraine was a founding partner of Wings ePress, which opened its publishing doors just ten years ago next month. StarCrossed Hearts was one of their four launch titles. I was quite proud of that fact. Later, I went to work for Wings, managing their cover art department. It was a lot of work for very little pay, but I enjoyed working with Lorraine, the other partners and staff members. And, of course, the authors, all realizing their dreams of becoming published.
We always worried about how hard Lorraine worked. She would often sit in her recliner until the wee hours, reading and editing on her Rocket eBook device. She was exhausted, but she almost never missed a deadline. She was firm but kind to her authors. She loved her dogs, her friends, her sons (not necessarily in that order). She spoke with a little bit of urgency, but with a Southern inflection I loved. Writing under the name Margaret B. Lawrence, Lorraine was also a fine author of romantic and historical suspense.
I’m sure the long hours and stress took its toll; a few years back, Lorraine had a debilitating stroke that left her unable to work like she had before. Regrettably, at first because I didn’t want to bother her, we lost touch. I’d been meaning to write her. Always thought I would, one day, talk to her again. But last night, her heart decided to take a well-deserved rest.
Lorraine, you did good, girl. You went after a dream and made it come true. You made it possible for hundreds of struggling writers to become published authors. I’ve seen their tears of joy upon getting that first copy, that first tangible evidence of their success. You accomplished that. All those nights of burning the midnight oil, all those aches and pains, the tired eyes, sacrifices—it was all worth it. And in case I didn’t say it enough before…
Thank you, LOLly. I miss you.
Happy New Year.
Have been thinking about what to say, but I’m so late I’m afraid all the good topics have already been written. And it’s already the 4th; folks are probably DONE hearing about how bad the ending of LOST was, how sad it was when so-and-so passed away, how shocking it was to see Miley sucking on a bong. Okay, maybe not so shocking, that.
And the year to come? My plans? I have plenty. In the writing arena, I’ve made some decisions concerning my backlist, which has been just sort of sitting without much support from me. These three books are going to get a minor makeover and be re-released under my own publishing byline by this spring. New edits, new covers, new prices. I mean, why not?
Becoming a publisher means I can publish some other things, too, experimental works and some shorts for a couple of
new authors just wanting to dip a toe in the water. I’ll need an editor or two, and some help with the cover art. Cover art must be first rate, it’s the very first impression and if it’s shoddy or amateur, no level of quality in the book will make a difference.
That being said, my books with Echelon (CAPE SEDUCTION, POINT SURRENDER) will stay with Echelon. I have no desire to move them, and will continue to promote them alongside my newly released backlist work. If I’m right, all will benefit. I will focus heavily on ebooks this year (as if I haven’t for twelve years already!), although with the help of sites like Amazon’s CreateSpace I can re-release my older books in paperback as well. I’m glad for that, for those people still digging in about paper.
Once I reach a level of completion with this project, I’ll be able to resume work on my next lighthouse mystery. ANGEL’S GATE is started, but I felt it was heading toward a proverbial cul-de-sac and I need to back up and take a turn. I’m hoping to be able to convince the PTB to let me inside the real Angel’s Gate Lighthouse in Los Angeles Harbor. I just need to meet the right person!
On January 22nd, I’ll be speaking at the Blanchard Community Library in Santa Paula, California. The topic? Lighthouses, of course! Specifically, California’s lighthouses, and how they helped shape our history (it is California history month, after all.) I will focus on a few specific beacons, then segue into those that inspired my work. Really looking forward to this event.
Considering Romantic Times Convention on April 8 at the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. Pricy, but lots of fun. Will advise.
April 30/May 1, in addition to my yearly stint signing with Sisters in Crime/LA, I’m joining a small consortium of authors in a booth at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, this year being held at the University of Southern California. I hope UCLA fans won’t stay away!
The cabin in the mountains is coming along nicely! Should be done late February. I can’t wait to hunker down with my books and hot toddy before a roaring fire…
Over the holidays, my niece and I took a day off and drove up to Santa Barbara for lunch. To our astonishment, both Barnes and Noble and Border’s were selling out their inventories, both closing their doors on December 31st. These stores are across the street from each other. I guess Santa Barbara book buyers will have to turn to the web. And ebooks?
Speaking of those minute miracles, I am rapidly filling up the new COLOR NOOK my husband bought me for Christmas! Man, do I love this device. I’ve always been somewhat of a gadget person, but this thing is fab. Does almost all that an iPad does – for half the money. I’ve loaded it up with songs, photos, books – I can do a crossword puzzle, check Facebook, write an email and edit my latest manuscript – and I can do it in the dark!
Further to my “Long Lost Relatives” post, I was contacted by my newly discovered cousin’s ex-wife. I wrote her back, giving her all the info I had and the one photo from my website. She has yet to respond, but I can wait. It’s been my whole life, after all.
These blustery autumn days are blowing in something new. Winds of change. Life it taking another turn, as someone very close to me is about to give birth to a precious new baby boy, a blessing, a grandson. As she waits, anxious and uncomfortably round, I muse–thinking back to those days almost 29 years ago when I carried her husband inside of me…waiting, anxious and uncomfortably round.
Am enjoying my history class more than I thought possible. I think it’s a crime when a child (me, many moons ago) has a teacher that makes a could-be worthwhile class about as exciting as a box of starch. Mr. “L”, my high school history teacher, was also the school detention teacher, which I think he preferred to history. The most interesting thing about Mr. L was his summer vocation. When school was out, he drove an ice cream truck by day, and tended bar at night. Think on that for a moment.
People who bought my books at my two wonderful launch parties are beginning to write with their thoughts. Everyone loves the stories, complete with the editing hiccups that slipped into the first release copies. Oops. Perhaps my books are like Native American blankets. Not allowed to be perfect, for only the Great Spirit can be perfect. As humble humans, we–and our creations [books and blankets?]–cannot be without some flaw. Do I stick with that story?
I found a book on eBay about HOT TODDY: The Mysterious Death of Thelma Todd. Except for the cigarette smell, the book is nearly new and I am enjoying the unfolding of a mystery I’ve thought about for many years. We all know how it ends, but the how/whodunit will forever remain a secret.
One more bit of news. I cooked parsnips for the first time in my life. Along with carrots, butternut squash (another first) and brussel sprouts, these made up my roasted vegetable platter, served along side some garlic mashed potatoes with crumbled bacon and chives. I’m actually cooking again. I’ve discovered I can do this, if I remove myself from the keyboard long enough.
It’s been less than a year since I paid $259 for my nook. Next month, the color-touchscreen-backlit model debuts for $249. Am just a bit peeved. Will talk about that at length in the future.
This time of year always brings to mind the late Dan Fogelberg, who sang of the “end of October, the sleepy brown woods seems to nod down their heads, to the winter…” — from “Old Tennessee.”
Thank you, Dan. Rest in peace, troubadour.
So what’s going on in the world?
I’m feeling good. Like some positive vibes are at work, downloading in the background. Can’t really explain it. Planets aligning or some such malarkey. When I feel this way, I want to share it. So here, have a slice!
Been hard at work making decisions about my career, and am going to be delving into some new areas this year. Will be posting more about that later.
I’d love to hear from any newly converted ebook readers. The news this morning that Apple’s half million or so brand-new iPad owners downloaded a whopping 250,000 ebooks was exciting, especially to us 12 year plus veteran e-authors. What a showdown this is becoming! Devices and formats are facing off in a “High Noon” scenario, and I’m confused but loving it. Making darned sure all my books are offered in those most popular formats. I’ve always been pretty technologically sound, but even my head is doing the Linda Blair trick right now.
My website wants a new face. I really like the template/theme I’m currently using, but it doesn’t provide for some of the things I want to do in the future, so I’m prowling for a new one. Dreading and yet looking forward to the customization process. It will be my forth Word Press customized site, and I learn a lot more every time.
When I was in high school, our French teacher made us all get “pen pals” in France. The French students were far better at English, I’m afraid, than we were at their language, but it was lots of fun. Today, I have a new on-line pen pal in Wales. This delights me to no end. There is something incredibly special about sharing news with others so far away. Fortunately, my new friend speaks English, otherwise I might have trouble. Anybody know Welsh? LOL.
Will I buy an iPad? No, not now. Too expensive for me. Plus, you know that old advice about never buying a first-run anything. My niece is loving her nook, which is a whole lot more affordable, but of course, it’s “just” a reader. Thoughts?
March Madness! We love March. March is…
- Small press month
- Women’s history month
- National Nutrition Month
- National Kidney Month
- American Red Cross Month.
See anything interesting yet? Maybe you’re not up to a whole month of anything, so consider this: it’s Read an ebook week! Yes, those annoying tree-huggers are back, admonishing you for still reading paper books! I’ll admit to reading both, although I prefer the “e” variety and have for many years. Do I have a dedicated ereader? Yes, and no. My ereader is the granddaddy of all ebook reading devices, the Rocket eBook, and it’s like 8 years old already. Heavy, clunky, but adorable.
On Monday, I noticed the woman on the next treadmill was jogging while reading a Kindle, placed on the magazine deck of her machine. She had to reach up every few seconds to press the spot that would turn the page as she ran. Very jazzy. Poor me, trying to read about Johnny Depp in Entertainment Weekly, while the overhead fan kept blowing the magazine’s leaves. Hrmph.
To celebrate REBW, my niece and I went to B & N yesterday and she scraped up $280 in cold, hard-earned cash (she’s 18) for a nook™ ereader. (Yes, it’s lower case. Go figure.) We were both so excited and spent quite a while playing with it later. While I am enamored with the upcoming Apple iPad, I am so not enamored with the $500+ price tag. So I’m going to wait a bit, get the feedback from my niece on the nook and see if I get a chance to test drive the iPad when it comes out. In the meantime, I’ll play with her nook. Say, look what she’s reading!
POINT SURRENDER is available for your nook, your Kindle, your Sony reader and even your Rocket eBook. Read it on your computer, your iPhone, your MACBook. Your Pocket PC, your Blackberry, your Palm Pilot. And even (shhh! – don’t tell everyone) available in dead-tree version! (On sale at B&N.com for $11.69!)
Australian students using netbooks in the classroom.
Since Governor Swarzeneggar’s recent move to make digital textbooks a reality in California, I have been watching the process unfold and have listened to a dizzying array of public reaction. Typically, many people fire off opinions prior to becoming fully informed on the subject. Some fear that economically-disadvantaged students would not be able to keep up without computers and/or internet connections at home. Others cite the high cost of ebook readers as the shortfall of the project.
One thing’s for certain: there is a lot more to be researched and said. I’m not entirely sure that the Governor was totally up-to-speed himself as he proposed his mandate. And how could he be? Technology is changing rapidly, as hardware (ereader manufacturers) and software (textbook publishers) providers all scramble to provide the latest and greatest and more, do it first.
As previously mentioned, the Kindle DX is currently in use on several college campuses as students determine the strengths and weaknesses of the portable electronic book. One issue is the device’s inability to display in color, which diminishes the impact of science textbook photos and diagrams. History books, too, suffer under the monochrome limitation.
After reading about One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) a non-profit organization that strives to “empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child,” I thought, why not here? While it is certainly a worthwhile, altruistic goal to modernize education in Peru and Cambodia, why can’t we improve education in Bakersfield or Hemet in a similar fashion?
Naturally, when I was first introduced to the popular new “netbooks“, something clicked. Netbooks are fully-functioning laptop computers, missing only a CD/DVD drive and a pound or two in weight. Smaller keyboard, smaller screen, but internet capable. Beefy enough to handle word processing and ebooks. Retail priced lower than the Kindle DX. In color. Wrap it up with a rubber collared bump guard and you have a student-ready learning device.
No waiting around in Evansville, IL. The school district is acquiring thousands of netbook computers for their students and teachers. This pilot program will see the rental of these units to families for $70.00 each. The District is picking up the $45.00 balance of the $115.00 yearly rental fee. See the whole story here.
I envision a time when a high school will have its own wi-fi intranet, where teachers will upload and download lesson plans and tests will be instantly posted from students’ netbooks. I see textbooks with interactive, mini-videos embedded within. Who wouldn’t rather watch a reenactment or actual archived footage of an historic event than read through four dry paragraphs recounting same? Today’s students are point-and-click fanatics.
Read here about an Australian school where netbooks have already been implemented. Be sure to read comments made by 4th & 5th grade students. (Top photo courtesy Anne Mirtschin.)
As I mentioned above, there is still much ground to be covered. I look forward to being on the front lines.