Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wanderlust

I know it's the time of year where everyone seems to be buckling down and starting school and thinking of things to do. Maybe I'm just being contrary, but I can't stop thinking about taking a vacation. It's not for lack of going anywhere. Our family took a fun trip this summer and I've also gotten to head out of town for a few writers' conferences and speaking trips. So why the urge to flee the homestead? Who knows? Sometimes you just have to wander, I suppose.

Like Yahoo had this great article up today on the 10 Best Lighthouses to Sleep In. My favorite is the Pidgeon Point, where they have a hot tub at the top of the light house. How cool is that? And you know some of these old places have to be haunted, which makes it even better.

Or what about the IceHotel in Sweden? This is the place that they carve out every year. Finally an excuse when my husband says my feet are cold at night. Well, duh. We're in a hotel made of solid ice. Go find something else to complain about.

I've got to think there's something neat even closer for those of us in the middle of the U.S. Like somewhere along Route 66. I don't know. I was distracted by visions of Sedona. I've always wanted to go there too.

What's your favorite vacation spot? (real or in your pipe dream fantasies) One lucky commenter gets a signed copy of A Tale of Two Demon Slayers or a Kiss My Asphalt t-shirt. Winner's choice!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

When the circus came to town!

I don't mean to sound un-American, but I've never really cared for a circus-not even when I was a kid. Don't know why-they've just never tripped my trigger. None the less, this week I found myself sitting with two eight year olds and a seven year old (grandsons) under the big top watching one.

We're not talking Ringling Brothers here either-the big top wasn't that big and it was a little on the worn side. A small circus that travels from town to town here in the Midwest, the acts didn't quite have the sparkle of a large circus. They had one lion and two tigers, and one of the tigers wasn't all that pleased at being here in Stuart. He pretty much refused to do whatever his trainer wanted and when finally, after much prodding, he tried to make a jump, he missed. Ever see a tiger embarrassed?? No, well this one was! (On the second try, he made it and received a large round of applause which seemed to sooth his wounded ego.) Also many of the performers had dual roles-the trapeze artist also did an act on unicycle along with the girl who spun from a rope anchored at the top of the tent. And the clown?? (Notice I use the singular?) Let's just say he was young and still learning his craft.

But you know-all of the above didn't matter to my companions. They didn't notice the faded, worn big top. They cheered along with everyone else when the tiger finally made his leap. They didn't catch on that it was the same people, dressed in a different costume and called by a different name, doing the tricks. And to them, it was the height of hilarity when a man dressed in a gorilla suit did a schtick involving "granny panties" and a bright pink bra. (A schtick that I'm sure has been around since the Marx Brothers were in diapers!) They were in the moment and accepted what they saw without complaining that there wasn't "more". They had nachos, cotton candy, and snow cones, and as far as they were concerned, life was good!

So in the future, am I going to enjoy going to the circus??? Probably not-I'm still not crazy about them, but I did learn a lesson from these three little boys. Even something "small" can be fun if one only accepts it for what it is and lives in the moment. And they were right-life is good!!

That's it for this week-have a good one and catch you next!!
Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's Wednesday!

Rachel and Carrie drove all the way from Chicago for the signing. Thank you, ladies!

It was great to meet you.

I was sitting here this afternoon, hard at work on finishing a book that was due two weeks ago (!), when I realized it was Wednesday.

Rather than try to write a blog that's even semi-intelligent, I think I'll just post some photos from the signing I did a couple weeks ago at Something Different Gallery. We had a great time.

My thanks to all the readers who turned out and to George and Koula, the gallery owners, who are truly the nicest people in Cleveland!



Yes, we are having this much fun!


Dennis and Frank bought books for all their friends at the beach in Delaware where they're

vacationing. My books gets to go to the beach...I do not!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A week in the life

We talk a lot about books here, and events, but what about the day-to-day life of an author? What do we do when we don't have a new release or a signing? Well this past week or so, I kept a diary.

Monday: Buckle down to work. Edits to Last of the Demon Slayers are due on Wednesday. Two of my beta readers have read the book over the weekend and given me their feedback. I thought about it this weekend and decided to twist the ending in a slightly different way. Call up Jess Granger to talk it over with her and she agrees. Actually, her exact words are, "Stop tweaking and get the (**& book out." But she says it with much love and affection. She also reminds me of a novella I have due at the end of the month. Yea, yeah. I like the new novel ending too.

Tuesday: Write part of a chapter of the novella in the morning. Pick up my son at pre-school and take him for McDonalds so that I can edit Last of the Demon Slayers at McDonald's Play Land. Vow to order the grilled chicken salad. Order the Big Mac meal instead. I need the calories in order to do a better job on Last of the Demon Slayers. Call Jess on the way home and tell her about some of the tweaks I made. She tells me to turn in the book already.

Wednesday: Read over final edits to Last of the Demon Slayers. Get a voicemail from Jess telling me to stop messing with the book. Ignore her and continue fiddling. Turn the book in to my editor at around 2:00 p.m. The house is quiet so I sneak upstairs to the purple couch and start editing the part of the novella I wrote Tuesday morning.

Thursday: Intensive writing day where I focus exclusively on the novella and am rewarded with a surprise character who ends up being completely different that I'd imagined. Excited because I like this character a lot more than I thought. Decide to give her a bigger role. Of course this changes the ending of the book, but I like that better too.

Friday: Pack up and drive down to the Ozark Writer's League conference. I'm a guest speaker and it's about a five hour drive (counting potty breaks and Diet Coke stops - those two always go together). Make it down there at 5:15 p.m. after getting lost in Branson so many times that the hotel desk clerk and I have become phone buddies. Said hotel clerk informs me that the reception is starting a half hour earlier than I have on my schedule and therefore, I'm late. Toss everything into the hotel room, which turns out to be a really cool looking suite. Vow to go buy bubble bath for the ginormous tub in-room tub that looks more like a mini swimming pool.

Friday p.m.: Return to the suite, tired yet happy, with plans for the tub. End up writing instead. I had an idea in the car on the ride down and swore to myself I was just going to write it out before I lost it, but before I know it, it's midnight and I'm due up at 6:00 a.m.

Saturday 6:00 a.m.: Wonder why on Earth I agreed to get up at 6:00 a.m. Get over that in the shower. Meet everyone for breakfast and the conference. The Ozark Writers League members are amazing. I love it when I get to speak to such a talented group. The energy is palpable and I want to do everything I can to help them fine-tune their writing. I do my workshop on Plotting the Novel and do a signing afterward.

Sunday: Goof off with the family and finish Justin Cronin's book, The Passage. Great book.

Monday: Get back into the novella. Edit everything I have so far and run it off. I'm one of those people who has to see it in print. Plus, reading it straight through gives me a zing and the momentum to barrel straight through to the end.

Tuesday: Prepare to read the novella and get zing-y. But first, the blog...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Heading Off Into the Sunset

Hi everyone,

I'm sorry to announce that I'll be hanging up my spurs here at Something Wicked. Certain commitments at home have recently intensified, and I've got my nose to the very serious writing grindstone at the moment.

I just wanted to send you all a fond farewell, and say how much I've enjoyed hanging out with you here. It's been a pleasure meeting everyone. I'll still be posting on my personal blog every Saturday, so feel free to stop by and visit.

I hope to see you around, and good luck to everyone on all your writing adventures.

Until next time!

Happy reading,

Jess Granger

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's a Cemetery Scavenger Hunt!



If you live in northeast Ohio (or even if you don’t, and you’re looking for a road trip) and you’re searching for something interesting and unusual to do this weekend, check out the Cemetery Scavenger Hunt!



The tour begins at 1 pm on Sunday, August 22, at Erie Street Cemetery, 2254 East 9th Street. That’s right across the street from Progressive Field, where the Indians play. I’m proud to say I’m hosting at Erie Street this year, and I can promise you some interesting experiences. For one thing, Erie St. is the oldest cemetery in Cleveland, and includes graves of many of the area’s earliest pioneers. Your "challenge" at Erie Street will be to visit the graves of 12 special residents and fill out a crossword puzzle with clues provided by the headstones. In the process, you’ll meet a musician from the Civil War, a man who devoted his life to making Cleveland a better place, and one special fellow with the intriguing nickname of "Machine Gun Jefferson."



When you finish at Erie Street, you can head over to Woodland Cemetery (6901 Woodland Avenue) where you’ll receive another challenge and have to find eight clues on eight different graves.



The festivities go on, rain or shine, and there are prizes and raffles, too. This fundraiser is sponsored by the Woodland Cemetery Foundation and the Monroe Street Cemetery Foundation and your $15 entry fee is fully tax-deductible.



For more information, contact Michelle Day at 216-319-2081 or visit
http://www.wcfcle.org/



This is a wonderful chance to explore two of the city’s most interesting and historic cemeteries, and to learn more about the lives of the people who settled here on the north coast. See you there!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Last of the Demon Slayers and a book giveaway

Hey, sorry I'm a little bit late today. I've been giving Last of the Demon Slayers one final read before it goes to my editor tomorrow morning. I have to tell you no matter how many times I do this, it doesn't get any easier to turn a book in. There is always that one word you can change, the one scene you can tweak. It never ends. Thank goodness for deadlines or I'd still be fiddling with The Accidental Demon Slayer.

I'm really excited about this December book. For one thing, Flappy and Pirate have pivotal roles. Those two are a hoot and a half to write, so any scene that they're in is always kind of crazy. Then the love story between Lizzie and Dimitri heats up. And we get to meet her dad and find out exactly what happened to make her the accidental demon slayer. I'm really excited to get it out there and see what people think.



And speaking of books that are already out there, I'm giving away five hot-off-the-press bestselling novels that I received at RWA a few weeks ago. They are:
And the winner is Sharon S! Just email me at angie@ angiefox .com and I'll get those books out to you!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dogs

Did anyone else catch "And Man Created Dog" on the NatGeo this week? If not, and you're a dog lover, I'd highly recommend watching the rerun. I found the whole thing fascinating, and a bit sad. In addition to theorizing how dogs became man's best friend, part of the program profiled Randy Grim and his Stray Rescue of St. Louis. Their goal is to help the 40,000 some feral dogs loose on the streets of St. Louis. They provide medical attention to these strays then place them in adoptive homes. Can you imagine-40,000 in one city alone? If you multiply that by the number of cities in the US, that number must be staggering!

Personally, as I've mentioned before, I have a soft spot for rescue dogs. My dog, Roxy, was a rescue that I adopted three years ago from the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. Her beginnings were heartbreaking-found in a box as a puppy, she was rescued, adopted, then given back to the shelter when her adoptive family couldn't keep her. Enter one middle aged writer looking for a companion and here we are three years later. As active as she is, she probably should've went to a home with about a dozen kids instead of someone who spends a lot of time sitting in front of a keyboard! But she doesn't seem to mind-as I write this she's lying at my feet, taking a little nap. At night, she sleeps at the end of my bed, and during the day is usually at my side no matter what room I'm in. I never have to worry about someone entering my house undetected. She knows someone's coming to door before I do and lets me know in no uncertain terms, even if we're outside in the backyard. She'll do anything for a hot dog, including jumping through a hoop-we learned that trick in doggy school, much to the delight of my grandchildren. She'll also shake, give me a "high five", lie down, and roll over. And I'm sure there are more tricks I could teach her if we worked at it.

Not too crazy about other animals, especially the squirrels in the backyard-and we do have one that likes to mess with her. He'll sit on the fence staring at her through the window until she notices him and demands to be let out. Usually that demand involves a very sudden and high pitched bark, which, if I'm not paying attention, has a tendency to make me jump out of my skin. Then the race is on-the squirrel hot-footing it along the fence with Roxy in pursuit. Once safely in the tree, he looks down at her and twitches his bushy tail, annoying her even more! Finally the game is over-Roxy satisfied that she's defended her territory and the squirrel happy that he's won the race. However, if during the chase, that sucker ever loses his footing and falls-he's going to be a goner!

So when I look at Roxy and watch all her antics, I can't help thinking about the dogs Randy Grim and those like him rescue. The many "Roxy's" out there who never find a home. Living and dying alone, never knowing the joy of a family and never given the opportunity to bring pleasure into someone's life. Like the pleasure and love Roxy's brought into mine.

It's sad, isn't it?

That's it for this week-see you next Thursday.

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Looking for Something Different?

If you live in northeast Ohio (or even if you don’t, and you’re looking for a road trip), don’t forget tomorrow’s (8/12) book launch party for "Tomb with a View."

It will take place from 5-8 at:

Something Different Gallery
1899 West 25th Street
Cleveland

For those of you who know the area, it’s a tad north of the West Side Market, on the same side of the street.

There’s free street parking after 6. You’ll need your quarters before. And there’s always free parking in the lot behind the building.

Something Different is a wonderful gallery with an eclectic mix of art and artists. The owners, Koula and George, are hands down the nicest people in Cleveland. They firmly believe that writers are artists and they’ve been generous in their support of me and my books. The gallery is filled with interesting jewelry, glasswork, paintings, and has a nice mix of some vintage items, too. There’s bound to be something that catches your eye.

If you can’t join us for books and a glass of wine and you’d still like signed copies of "Tomb with a View" or any of my other books, give the gallery a call at:

216-696-5226

They can ship books directly to you and even gift wrap.

Come on down! It’s going to be a great evening.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Post-conference book giveaway

RWA in Orlando was fantastic - great company, publisher parties and of course free books! I took a suitcase full home and of course I must share.

So in the name of good reading, I'm going to be giving away five books by bestselling authors:
Winner gets the whole bunch. Just post and let me know you want them. And if the mood strikes, tell us what you're reading right now.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Where did the time go????

This week it’s been back to the “day” job after a three week hiatus. Did I accomplish everything I’d planned? Nooo, I did not! I tried, I really did. I’ve stayed offline as much as possible—as a result, I now have over 2000 unread emails located in my inbox that I need to get cleaned out. I did browse Facebook occasionally—it’s a great way to find out what’s happening in my youngest daughter’s life as she posts everything! And I tried staying away from the library—okay, so maybe I didn’t do too well at that, but if I don’t have a couple of books on my nightstand, I go through withdrawal.

As I’ve said before, my main problem is time management—I don’t know if set my goals too high, or if I’m too much a procrastinator. Either way, there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day for me. Which is a fallacy—I read once that everyone has the same amount of time (which is true) and it’s how we use that time that makes a difference. And I’ve truly tried different approaches to improve my skill. I’ve used lists—not too effective as I either misplace it, or forget to look at it. I’ve tried the “carrot trick”—if I finish this project, I get a reward. And I’ve tried making a schedule for myself, but some distraction always seems to interrupt me—“no, Mom, I need to talk to you right now!” None of the above seems to work.

I guess at this point my only choice is to embrace it. As Popeye the Saliorman was fond of saying “I am what I am and that’s all that I am!” Maybe if I cut myself some slack and simply accept the way I approach things and plan accordingly, I’ll be more effective. Maybe if I concentrate on what I do accomplish, instead of what I don’t, my life will be easier. I do eventually get everything done, just not when I’d planned.

I’ll let you know how it works out!! *g*

Gee, I’m out of time—got to move on to the next thing!! That’s it for this week—have a good one!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Presents from the Past

I’m helping a cemetery group with an interesting project. Each year, they host what they call Meet the Neighbors day. It’s a chance for folks to come in, tour the city cemetery and interact with re-enactors who are dressed like cemetery "residents." The actors talk about the person’s life and the times in which they lived. In past years, we’ve had a chance to meet a couple mayors of Cleveland, an undertaker’s wife who talked about Victorian mourning customs, and an abolitionist.

All interesting, and certainly a creative and lively way for visitors to learn not only about the city’s history, but about the people who lived it.

The latest event is going to focus on how the area was affected by the Civil War. Fortunately, I’ve had help with the scripts and all are done except for one. That’s the one I’m working on.

Truth be told, I’ve been lazy about it. In fact, I started only the other day. I’m working on a family named Scarr. There are a bunch of them buried in one plot, with one monument, and as far as anyone can tell, two of them (James and Frederick) were cousins. Both died in the war.

My goal is to learn enough interesting things about these two young men to fill a 10-minute time slot and I’ve got the research collected by the members of the cemetery foundation. But I’ve been looking online, too, and discovered a local site dedicated to the Ohio 103 regiment, the one in which James served. A couple emails and a phone call later, and I’ve found out that James (who was a musician in the army) didn’t die in battle, he died of disease. I’ve also been promised pages from a historic diary that talk about James’s death.

I have to say, I am in awe. I admire the people at the cemetery foundation who work so hard to make history relevant to the rest of us, and I especially admire people like Bill (my contact at the 103st) who treasure historical documents and so generously offer to share them.

So on this Wednesday morning, here’s to all lovers of history! There is much in our past that should be treasured, and many stories to tell. Thanks for helping us out!