Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Naming Names

Hot guy photos deleted in the aftermath of an author being sued for photo use. Sorry.

Last night I was on the last stages of wrapping up a YA project (or at least wrapping it up as in all-I-can-do-with-it-at-this-point) and decided to open a new scrivener file. I have a bunch of critiquing to do this week, but I also wanted to get started on a new Cupid's Conquest story. I'd love to say this one has been bouncing around in my brain for a while, blah, blah, blah, but that would be a lie. This is a brand new shiny thing. I'm hoping it shines bright enough that it becomes one of those stories that writes itself.

So far... not so much, and all I did last night was "cast" and name the two leads. The casting was easy. I had very few pre-conceived notions about these characters other than they were athletic (which is a pretty broad defining characteristic). In minutes, I had faces to go with them. Then the naming started.

Oy! I've figured out one reason that I should stick with long running series featuring the same characters: I have a hell of a time just randomly grabbing a name because it always works out that I've used it before in another project. Don't believe me? Let's demonstrate...

  • Lily: used for minor characters in both Kiss of Death and a Badlands story I'm working on (see website under works in progress for more info on that one). Funny part? Both Lilys are... similar in their nature to the story.
  • Rafe: I started a YA about a month ago that's kind of stalled. I wanted to use Rafe for one of the guys. A quick search informed me that I'd already used Rafe as a name in another of my adult WiPs. Totally different characters, but the one in the adult wasn't exactly a throw away character where I could just pretend it didn't matter (not to mention Rafe isn't exactly... Bob or Jim or...)
  • Damon: My first thought for one of the new characters was Damon. I love the name and I could totally see him as a Damon. Remember that adult WiP I mentioned a second ago? Yeah. It has a Damon too. *head-desk*

I'm starting to think this is why JR Ward uses silly names with wonky spellings for her vampires. At least the odds of using those again is slim to none. Anyway, after much pondering (and some help from friends), my main characters have names.

I'm sure there are some of you sitting there saying "Just put in filler names." I wish I could, but that has never worked for me. Reason being, I don't see my characters as people until they have names. Case in point? As soon as I knew both their names, these new characters started talking to me, and now I can see their story so much clearer. And trust me when I say, for this one, I really need that.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

RT Madness

See? Katee Robert & I *are* different people
If you saw my RT schedule, you know that it was shaping up to be a crazy convention. I may have over-extended myself a teeny bit. Maybe. Hell, I'm probably going to do the same thing next year (minus the photo shoot). Someone just remind me of two things next year:

  1. Pace myself because Saturday night is a long way away. 
  2. If I plan on drinking a lot, do not (under any circumstances) mix vodka and rum. I should know this by now, but I always seem to forget. 

Having said that, I had a fabulous time. I'm going to do a longer wrap-up for Wicked Lil Pixie, but some highlights of the week:

  • Katee Robert. Oh, Lady Soulmate, I had such a good time with you and miss you already. Thanks for putting up with me and my bouts of insanity. 
  • Aussie dinner. Not only did I share a table with Rebecca York, I shared a cab back to the hotel with Ann Aguirre (and a pissy-ass cab driver, but more on this at Pixie's). It's such an honor that Megan and Jennifer thought enough of me to include me with such an incredible group of authors. I still get fan-girl shivers thinking about it.
  • My first panel... ever... anywhere. I was absolutely terrified, but with the fabulous group of women I had there with me, it wasn't nearly as panic-inducing as it could have been and thankfully people seemed to find it really informative. (I ran into a couple women who had attended at the end of the week and they were still debating whether or not to use pen names. I'm calling that a win :) )
  • The Gaslamp Gathering. ALWAYS a good time. So many costumes! <3 <3 <3 
  • The Atrium. If you don't know what that means, you really should have stuck around after the bar closed on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday :P Good times. Thanks, people!
  • Angela James telling me to "Calm down and get a drink" at the Carina Press author party. Thanks, Angela, talking to you that night helped me mellow out for the remainder of the convention :) 
  • Meeting James Rollins at the FanTastic Day Party (where I was supposed to be schmoozing). There is a story here involving the wonderful Deanna Wadsworth, but I'm saving that for Pixie's too (just to embarrass her in front of a bigger audience :P)
  • The Harlequin Dance Party and Damon Suede. First, I've never seen the dance floor at RT that full before <3 Second, Damon, you are absolutely fabulous and I totally want to write M/M now because of you. (Still terrified that I can't do it justice, but I think I'm going to try. *gulp*)

Low point of the week? Finding out I was so tired at lunch on Sunday that I totally missed it as Paul Wesley (Stefan Salvatore) walked right in front of my freaking table. Trying to see it from the perspective of that just meaning RT was one hell of a party, but... *sad sigh*

That's it for now. And as a send off, Katee Robert's new (temporary) theme song:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Find Me at RT!

(If you will be at RT and collect buttons like I do, make sure you read all the way to the end...)

Twenty-four months ago, I attended my first Romantic Times Booklovers' Convention as an aspiring author. Now I have three short stories, three novellas, and one full-length novel (under my YA name) tucked under my belt, along with the first Blood Kissed novel coming later this year. Today... I leave for my third RT Convention.

My how times have changed. The first year, no one knew who I was, but if you wanted to find me I was be-bopping everywhere. This year... I have a schedule and a pretty hectic one. These are not all the events I'll be attending, these are simply the places I've committed to being as and author.

Tuesday (I will probably get in around 1:30. It might be a bit later as I have a doctor's appointment that morning--crappy scheduling choices FTW!)

  • 7PM-- Dinner with the Australian contingent (offsite) Thanks for the invite, ladies! You rock!

Wednesday (At some point today, the amazing Katee Robert and I will be setting up our "Relax with a good book" prize basket in Club RT. Make sure you enter to win!)

  • 2:15-3:15-- Writing Under Multiple Names (writer panel) in DaVinci A&B
  • 4:45-5:45-- Build-A-Hero Workshop (reader panel) in International D (Note: At least one cover model is supposed to be there to help out!)

Thursday (aka busy-ass day number 1--I'm also pitching in here somewhere)

  • Club RT (there is some confusion over what time, it may be 11:15 or it might be 1:30 or even 2:00--I'll update as soon as I see the official program)
  • 2:45-3:45--Steampunk Gaslamp Gathering (reader event) in O'Hare A, B, & C (Do NOT miss this one. There will be snacks and costumes and a fashion show. People who attended last year loved it.)
  • 4:00-6:00--Signing at the E-book expo (GunShy, Badlands, and Pretty Souls will be available to buy through All Romance E-books. In addition, I'll have print copies of Pretty Souls to sell and sign.)

Friday (aka busy-ass day number 2)

  • 10:00-11:00--Plotters, Pantsers, Plotsers (writer panel) in LaGuardia
  • 11:15-11:45--Club RT appearance
  • Afternoon--Photo shoot with VLC Photography! (offsite)
  • 5:00-7:00--Carina Press author party (offsite)

Saturday (At this point... I'll sleep when I'm dead. Actually I may sleep in the morning :P)

  • 6:15-7:15-- Fan-Tastic Day Party (reader event) in Rosemont
  • 8:00-9:00-- Carina Press Cocktail Party (They are giving away an iPad 2--maybe 3?--at this event!)

Coming this summer!
In addition to all of that, places where I'll be to support friends and have fun (for at least part of the time) include:

  • Wednesday-- Ellora's Cave Step Up & Stomp Party (9-12) and the YA Midnight Slumber Party (11:45-1)
  • Thursday-- Clan McFae Faery Ball (8:30-12)
  • Friday-- Heather Graham's Night of the Stars Party (9-12)
  • Saturday-- Giant Book Fair (10:45-2), SOS Military Mixer (3:30-4:45), Candy & Spoons (5-6), Harlequin Dance Party (9-12)

As far as swag goes, there will be Badlands trading cards again. Also, I have buttons! There will be Blood Kissed buttons in promo alley. But I'm also going to have some Badlands ones--complete with phoenix. There are two ways to get Badlands buttons. One is to attend the Gaslamp Gathering on Thursday. They will be in the goodie bags! As for the second way...

I will have a few extras with me (probably about 20-40). If you can't make the Gaslamp Gathering, you have to hunt me down (and hope I still have some) and give me a Badlands specific code word. In addition... I will also have a small stash of buttons featuring the Kiss of Death cover (probably only 20 of these, so if you want one, find me early!) and some Cupid's Conquests buttons. Each of these will have a specific code word. Make sure you know the word for what you want! 
  • The word for a Badlands button is: Dragonfly. 
  • The word for a Kiss of Death button is: Remus. 
  • The word for a Cupid's Conquests button is: Psyche.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Searching for Seleste...

This is going to be a rather long, rambly post--possibly with a good deal of cursing. If you don't feel like actually reading it, I understand. If you want to be able to pretend you did, give me virtual hugs on facebook and commend me for my effective use of Firefly quotes.

Those of you who want to stick around, you might want to grab a chair (who am I kidding... only crazy people read on those treadmill desks).

Some of you have known me for most of my life. Others for several years. And others barely know me at all. But those who have known me from any time before 2011 have been well aware of... changes in my personality. Over the summer last year, I blogged about my battle with depression, so that isn't really news. The fact that I'm still fighting it might be, and I've recently started to pull out of things enough to take a good hard look at what sent me into the brain-chemistry spiral-of-doom.

Short version for those of you bored already is this--I took some major self-esteem hits and the after-effects trickled into everything. Shit started to spiral like a whirlpool and sucked me down into the deep. Once I was down there, part of me decided drowning was easier.

Long version for the rest of you...

About a year ago, great things were happening, I was on top of the world. Sure there were little things going wrong (when aren't there?), but overall things were good. Then, in about a 2-3 month period of time, several things happened that knocked me down hard. We're talking blows to my self-esteem like I haven't dealt with since elementary school (and for those who have known me "forever," you know that was a pretty severe low point in my life confidence-wise). Can I sit here an pin-point exactly what those things were? Some of them, but not all, and I really don't want to re-hash them to be quite honest. Plus, the ones I do remember came from friends, and I'm not going to throw people under the bus. (I'm prefer to assume that they didn't go in with horrid intentions. Sure, it's possible, but I prefer to think better of people than that. So for my own well being, I'm going to pretend they meant well.)

But in each of those particular cases, the stuff that was said or done made me start to question pretty much every fucking aspect of my life. This isn't just about the writing. We're talking writing, appearance, family, friends, children. And what little wasn't directly under fire soon came into question as the spiral of doom sucked me down.

I didn't just worry about the book I was writing, I worried about the ones that were out. The ones I hadn't written yet. I worried about the non-writing things that I was doing that could be detrimental to my career.

Had it just been that, I think I would have been okay. After all, I liked a good chunk of the stuff I was writing at the time. But because of some of it, I questioned every friendship I had. Not only from the perspective of whether or not they actually were my friends, but even more whether or not I deserved friends... at all. I started to believe that I was this horrible person.

Thankfully, my kids are out of the "mommy, I hate you" stage, because they and my husband (even though I questioned their love at every turn) were one of the big things that kept me from drowning when this first got out of control. They kept me marginally sane, but I still spent every day questioning every friend, every conversation, every word, every decision.

How would it affect my friendship? My marriage? My career? My sanity?

I started drifting away from social media. I posted less, and what I did post wasn't me. It was this shell that all my questions had left behind after I reached the conclusion that I was too abrasive, too loud, too snarky, too brash... too everything. Friends who I used to talk to every day were almost avoided out of fear. Fear that they'd notice the changes and not want to stick around. Fear that they'd prefer me this way. Fear they wouldn't notice at all.

Quite frankly, I'm surprised a lot of people didn't just take their toys and go home. I mean, quite frankly, I wasn't any fucking fun anymore. But most of them stuck around. A few even stuck by me hard-core. And those are the friendships that have helped slowly pull me out of this dark place. The funny part is I didn't even realize how far I'd gone until a few days ago when I said something (I don't remember what it was, but I do remember wondering if I should say it) on Twitter, and Nat (Wicked Lil Pixie) said something to the effect of "You sound more like you."

It was like a slap in the face--the good kind.

For the first time, I looked at what I'd been doing for the past year, because I knew it had been going on that long, even if it hadn't shown at first. What I realized was those self-doubts, those hits that had made me question everything, had turned me into someone who played it safe. I stopped balancing on that high-wire that separates too-much from not-enough and jumped into the net on the not-enough side. It was safe there. Nobody gets offended by the person who avoids pushing buttons.

The problem is nobody really gives a shit about them either. I'd made myself invisible to everyone but the people who really cared about me. And I'm pretty damn sure every single one of them was well-aware that I haven't been me in a long time. And more than my author photos with the ample cleavage, more than my semi-outrageous behavior at conventions, more than any snarky, borderline offensive thing I could say online, THAT would be what killed my career.

A year ago (and longer than that), I prided myself on the fact that I was always "me" online. What you saw was what you got. No reservations (other than not identifying my kids). When I tried to become a "good girl" who "followed the rules" and "did what I'm supposed to," I killed that fun, free part of me. And really? It sucked. Every. Single. Thing. About. It. Sucked. Ass.

I don't want to be her. She's a boring bitch. She complains, but she's never funny about it. All she does is work. And it feels like work.

I remember writing where it felt like freedom and truth and what I imagine being high feels like. I miss it.

I remember talking on Twitter and saying whatever crazy thing came to mind. Not that I mind doing that while chatting with Katee, but I miss doing it with everyone else.

 On my website it says my motto is "No worries, no regrets." I fucked up and forgot that for too long. I don't want to be safe anymore... I want to be me again. For better or worse.

So, I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it. I just need to remember how to be me again because I seem to have forgotten a little bit. On the other hand, I know what the problem is, and that means I can kick it's fucking ass because "Knowing is half the battle." (Yes, I went with the G.I. Joe quote. It'll help me identify the people who didn't bother reading this shit. Because that's how I roll :P)

And to my husband, my kids, and my friends who have stood by and not let me completely forget who I am... thank you. From the deepest, blackest recesses of my soul, thank you. There is a special spot in hell reserved for people like you--namely the head table at my debutante ball. I <3 each and every one of you.