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Curiously unaffected

Wednesday, September 28, 2005
By today's anniversary. As a matter of fact, I'd forgotten all about it until I saw it on the calendar.

A year ago I had cancer.

At the time, the thought of it consumed me. Today, I got the kids off to school, did some writing, cut out coupons, wrote my menu and my grocery list and went shopping. Specially marked cereals, buy one, get one free.

At the time, I had received my household goods only a fortnight before. There were boxes everywhere. No more boxes now, except for the garage.

At the time, my mom came down to take care of me and my family. Now, she cares for my step-dad, whose health is in a slow downward spiral.

The entire hospital experience was uneventful except for the fact that my body refuses to give up any blood. It took 14 sticks to get a blood sample and put the IV in before surgery.

After the first night, I couldn't sleep. I slept all day, so by night time, I was awake. I put on my robe and saddled up the IV tower and wandered around the halls. That's when I saw the women who probably wouldn't be walking out of the hospital.

I think I was the youngest woman there, but it was difficult to tell. Pain has a way of making people look older than they are. Almost no one was alone. Family members slept uncomfortably on retro pleather couches.

And I was grateful. To the doctor who caught the first hint of a problem and for all the medical professionals who came after. To my family who pitched in and kept it together while mom was out of commission. To God for the chance to live -- and live better than I had.

So get regular physical exams. Get regular Pap smears. Don't skimp on exams because of the cost, the pain or the embarrassment.

Happy No More Cancer Day!!
9/28/2005 01:33:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 16 Comments


Sunday, September 25, 2005
I've said it before, I'll say it again. Reading Anna Lucia's writing is like walking through velvet. Truly luscious. Go. See if you can't get the taste of blackberries out of your head.
9/25/2005 05:57:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 3 Comments

Writing Fast Part II

Saturday, September 24, 2005
Ok, Silma. I don't suck. I am not a loser. I simply rarely meet my impossibly high personal standards. ;-)

However, I have written 15 pages since Monday, which is pretty phenomenal for me. That's what I typically aim for during a BIAW and it hasn't even been an entire week yet. So YAY me!!

In other news -- Dd's teacher and I have worked out a system wherein dd gets happy/frowny faces based on whether or not she finishes her work in class. This is much more effective than last year's smiley system which was too general -- be good. She averages 4 happy faces per week and I'm pretty happy with that.

She's also reading a LOT more than she ever has. She's picking books that are at her reading level (mid 4th grade) and flying through them. Woohoo!!! Color me a happy mama!!!

Off to make some spaghetti sauce in my crockpot for dinner tonight.
9/24/2005 10:11:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 5 Comments

Writing fast

Wednesday, September 21, 2005
I'm doing the Fast Draft Workshop with Candace Havens over at Romance Divas. Essentially, it's a BIAW, but for 2 weeks of torture instead of just one.

I hate doing these things.

So why am I doing it? Because it works for me. Even if I don't make my goal -- and out of all the BIAWs I've done, I've only reached my goal once -- I still get a lot done.

But man, I hate doing it. Part of it is because my internal editor likes to bang on my brain and give me a monster headache when I shut her away. Part of it is because I really hate not making my goal. Way to make me feel like a big LOSER!

Still, I have 8 more pages today than I did before I started on Monday morning. Just like everything else in life, it's nice. But I could do more IF ONLY...

The two most damning words in the English language and I can't seem to rid myself of them.

Well. IF ONLY can kiss my ass today. I'm going to get my pages.
9/21/2005 08:07:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 7 Comments

How Not To Be A Writer

Saturday, September 17, 2005
Don't write.

Sit around and moan and blog about not writing.

When you have time to write, sit and stare at the blinking cursor, then play eighteen consecutive games of Spider Solitaire.

Tell yourself you'll write as soon as you finish your blog post. Or as soon as the kids are out of your hair. Or as soon as the Muse is with you.

Let me tell you something. The bitch is on permanent vacation. Work around it.

Whenever you accomplish any writing at all, tell yourself that you've accomplished something wondrous, then sit on your laurels and brag about it for a week until you write another paragraph or two. And brag about that.

You think I'm talking about you?

I know I'm talking about me.

This is not the way to have a career. This is not the way to be a writer who not only writes, but gets published. And for as much as we blather on about "writing for ourselves" or "writing for the art of beautiful language" that's only so much bullsh*t that writers say when we suck and just don't want to admit it.

I'm not fooling myself. I'm doing my best to strip away the scales from my eyes. I don't think I suck, but neither did the other coupleo of thousand people who submitted their writing to a publisher this week. The sick, disgusting truth of it is -- most of us suck. According to one editor blog, at least 80% of all submissions bite the big one.

Now, I think Dude was damn fine work. And if (when) it gets rejected, I like to think that it'll be in some redeemable form where I won't be utterly humiliated to have sent it and it won't shred my pride to submit it somewhere else. I'm usually a pretty positive person, snarky vicious bitchiness aside, but I have to set my feet for the likelihood that I've just set myself up for my first rejection.

Back to my original point, however, which is about How Not To Be A Writer. I think I've covered the basics.

I think there's only one thing I've left out.

How To Be A Writer:

*Get Your *ss In The Chair And Just F***ing Write
9/17/2005 11:39:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 7 Comments

Friday, September 16, 2005
Lord, I'm boring. And now I'm going to drag you into dullness with me.

I got up after a bad night's sleep and bullied my children into getting ready for school.

I did my last morning of carpool for the next couple of weeks.

I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher.

I called a friend whose cat was just killed by a driver last night. (Actually, that wasn't boring and will likely be the highlight of my day.)

I paid the bills.

Ds didn't have preschool today at all, so I've been playing with him on and off. Nick Jr is on in the background. Go Diego Go! is a new form of torture.

Dd only has a half day of school and will be home in half an hour.

Do any of these things look like writing? No. No, they don't. That's because I haven't written today. I have opened various wips and figured I'd work on Cold because that's the one that was left at the most interesting spot. But I haven't actually written anything.

So, after I throw a load of laundry in the washer, I'm going to write. What, I don't know, but I will write. Honest!

PS Last night, Romance Divas had their chat with Chris Keeslar from Dorchester. Someone asked about their ms which had been there for 14 months. Over a year without any word at all? Isn't there something in the Constitution about cruel and unusual punishment? My gut clenched. Please let Kensington be quicker, even if it's only to swing the axe.
9/16/2005 11:12:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 3 Comments

Not much to say today

Wednesday, September 14, 2005
I sent off my first draft of a short to a CP who is familiar with Woman's World Weekly. Hey, they pay $1000 for 1100 words if they accept it. We'll see if I hit the right tone for them.

This morning I made my first trip back to the coffee shop since school let out in May. The barista even remembered what I like to order! I got about 2 1/2 pages done on The Gentleman's Club before I hit a road block. I've got an alternate title for it now, though. The Devil She Knows. Whaddaya think? It's a historical, set in NYC's Gilded Age.
9/14/2005 01:11:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 3 Comments

It Was A Toss Up...

Monday, September 12, 2005
Whether I was going to cry or throw up. In the end I was merely queasy and had a tight feeling around my eyes after I sent Dude winging its way to NY.

I am determined to get it out of my mind and concentrate on something else for a while.

I took snacks to preschool since today was ds's day to be Line Leader. I celebrated with a triple grande Caramel Vanilla Macchiato and a cherry turnover. I went to the library and picked up some books that dh wanted as well as Kathy Peel's book, "The Family Manager Takes Charge."

I've actually used her system effectively before and I feel the need for a fresh start. In that spirit, I trekked to Office Max (is it just me or do all writers get a little giddy at the sight of all that paper, all those pens, the thousand and one ways to procrastinate that shop affords?) and picked up the cutest hanging file box in a gleeful shade of red. And hanging files. And manila folders. And a few labels. You can never have too many labels, right?

Anyway, I'm off to clear out my office armoire and file 'til I can't file no more.
9/12/2005 02:13:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 10 Comments

Sunday Morning Blogging

Sunday, September 11, 2005
I'm getting ready to take the Monkey Children to church, so this will be a short post.

Several Divas are frequent submitters to Woman's World Weekly, a supermarket magazine that I'd never read. Lisa Bradley (I can't find her link right now. If I find it, I'll edit) had one of hers published there a couple of weeks ago, so I picked up a copy. Very sweet and very short. Apparently, those are pretty much the guidelines. 1100 words that your grandmother would like to read. No paranormal, no historical, nothing too out there. Contemporary, sweet romance that Just Might Happen To Average Jane.

And I thought, "Sooooo not my thing."

Then this idea showed up. I was watching that Airport show on the Discovery channel -- the one where they follow the airline employees around LAX and tape their encounters with customers. Long ago and far away, I worked the ticket counter, gate and baggage claim for Delta Airlines at a small city airport. Is Delta still in business? It was a couple of weeks ago, but as I recall it was getting a little dicey. I digress.

I'm a little over half way done. Average Jane and her slightly better than average Joe. Very sweet. I don't have a title for it yet, but I'm not one who has to have a title to work.

So, with this WWW piece, that means that I have four WIPs to choose from right now. Most are still in the beginning stage, so it's a toss up to see which one progresses past that fatal fourth chapter, where all my stories tank.
9/11/2005 08:29:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 4 Comments

This Is SO My Day!

Friday, September 09, 2005
Yeah. That's gonna come back to bite me on the butt later on. But for now, I'm too happy to care!

Sylvia Day, Brava author extraordinaire, graciously agreed to crit my Q&S in the midst of what has been a very busy week for her. All her suggestions were useful and to the point.

So now the only thing standing between me and the post office is putting headers and page numbers on the ms and buying a Tyvek envelope.

My stomach is churning. Dude will be gone on Monday. My very first submission. I may need to concoct an elaborate ceremony for this. Something involving diamonds would be nice.
9/09/2005 01:10:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 4 Comments

First Contest Final!

Romance Divas sponsored a "We All Win -- Best Opening Hook" Contest. We were allowed to enter the first 150 words of up to five stories. I entered Dude, Big Bad Wolf, The Gentleman's Club and Cold.

Dude (cunningly disguised as an entry called Definitely Not Quite Dead) finaled!

One of our coordinators, Kristen Painter, is the Diva of Schmooze. Lemme tell ya, this woman could get secrets from the Pope. Anyway, she convinced Nadia Cornier, who has just opened her own agency, Firebrand Literary, after being with Creative Media for several years, to be our final judge.

Yes, that's right. Dude's hook is headed to an agent.

Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps now would be a good time to refill your coffee. Sela is currently running around like a madwoman, doing the Lunatic's Frenzy Dance and will be occupied for some time.

Ahem. Ok. I'm back. Yes, I know that this could mean less than nothing, but it's a world of possibilites, you know? It's possible. That's all I'm sayin'.

It's just possible....

In other Romance Diva news:

Live Chat with Christopher Keeslar, Dorchester Editor

Chris Keeslar, one of the Dorchester editors will be in the Romance Divas chatroom on Thursday, September 15 at 9pm EST. A password isn't necessary to access the chat room, but you must be a registered member.

Q & A with Deidre Knight:

During the week of Sept 18th, Super Agent Deidre Knight will be answering questions in a special section of the forum aptly titled, "Ask Deidre". Don't miss this opportunity to get those questions answer and get to know this fabulous woman!

Free Workshop with Author Of The Month Candace Havens:

Candace Havens presents Fast Draft: How to write your first draft in two weeks. Really.
Week of September 18th, 2005
Fast Draft is way to get through the terror of the first draft in a fast and efficient manner. Why draw it out over several months, when you can have a first draft in just two weeks? Using creative techniques you'll learn how to write more pages a day than you ever thought possible. This class works for new writers as well as seasoned professionals, and allows writers to flesh out a story fast to see if it will work.

This last one sounds suspiciously like there's plotting involved. Hmmm.
9/09/2005 06:44:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 4 Comments

Alpha Males Don't Wear Pink

Tuesday, September 06, 2005
It scares me that I had to say that.

The front page of the Life & Style section of today's The State (Columbia SC) proclaims that men are "Pretty (potent) in pink." The parenthetical is part of the title of the article. Here's the subtitle: "It gets the girls. It shows you're a sensitive guy. Hey, what's not to like?"


I'm going to say that there are men whose skin tones are of such a shade as to be enhanced by the color pink. Just like there are women who look fabulous in pink. Not as many look fabulous in it as wear it, but that's a blog for another day...

But just because you look good in it doesn't mean you should wear it.

If your hero is a Beta kind of guy, a metrosexual Gamma, go for it. It's not going to bother me.

But Alpha males don't wear pink. Yeah, they may get their nails buffed, they may wear silk underwear, but for my money, if your Alpha CEO hotshot hunk shows up in peach-tinged rose -- Uh uh. Nope. No way.

I realize this is narrow-minded of me. This is even sexist. So be it. Tough. Like I said, I can accept that he may look really good in it. I don't even mind it on guys whose character or lifestyle proclaim them to be more laid back. But if your guy is a chest thumper, please don't make him thump a petal pink chest.

Just my opinion. Feel free to differ.
9/06/2005 07:57:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 10 Comments


Friday, September 02, 2005
It's done.

Dude, You're Dead! is as polished as it can get. The Q&S is at a 90% solution, needing mere tweaks to be complete. It may wing its way to NY as early as Tuesday, since Monday is a holiday.

Cece took pity on my panic and helped me find what surely must have been in front of me the whole time -- the address for Kate Duffy's office at Brava.

I've tried to take the advice that brevity is the soul of wit and the query, with synopsis embedded, is two pages long, 1.5 spaced lines.

But life here goes on because I have to take my celebratory butt down to the grocery store so we can eat something this weekend.
9/02/2005 11:31:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 8 Comments

Judgmental Bitch and the Elusive IT

Thursday, September 01, 2005
I can hear it now. I've been judging some of the entries for the Romance Divas Best Opening Hook contest. I have four entries of my own, which are gathering mixed reviews. For my own judging, I decided I'd start with the historicals and work my way through the entries by genre. There are ten historicals and I've judged five so far. I'm on a break from being a way harsh bitch. Don't worry. I'll pick it up again later.

I'm torn over a lot of these entries. Usually, I'm not keen on the voice or the character. The limit is the first 150 words or 15 lines. A larger word count wouldn't necessarily make me want to read the book.

Can you really capture an audience in your first 15 lines? Is that really enough to judge an entire book? Remembering the Romancing the Idol seminar at the RWA, some of the entries barely got that far before they were shot down.

I suppose the answer lies in the voice. The more I read, the more I write, the more true it becomes. Plot, characters, tone and genre be damned. If I like the way someone strings words together, I'll read it. I think at this point, I've read a little bit of every sub-genre of romance out there from inspirational historicals to paranormal erotica. Some are mistakes of hideous proportions. Many, thankfully, are not. Some just don't grab me and I've figured out why. It's their voice.

From sweet to sinful, creepy dark to pants-wetting funny, if the author has that gift, that almost undefinable IT, I'm a fan.

Please God. Let me have IT.
9/01/2005 10:34:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 7 Comments


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