Monthly Archives: August 2010

Can’t Take Us Anywhere

That’s what I start to think when I go places with my family. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll know that yesterday my mom was in the emergency room. This sent me and my siblings into a full-blown panic. No one knew what was wrong with her, only that Mom was at the hospital.

My brother and sister work very close to the hospital, so were there within five minutes. I work nearly an hour away, but the minute I heard about her being in the hospital, I was driving like Mario Andretti to get to her side. When I arrived at the hospital to see her, I was told that she had had too many visitors and I couldn’t go in. I was devastated. What? That’s my Mom!

So I go outside to fume and call one of my siblings. There’s my sister having a smoke. I told her what the nurse said and she complained, of course. Then, later I realized the nurses had a good reason for this new rule. Mom has severe hearing problems. She’s having surgery Thursday to try to correct one ear, but for now, you have to practically yell at her. Since my brother and sister were there with her, they were interpreting what the nurses and doctors were saying in Mom-speak.

THEY WANT TO KNOW IF YOU’RE HAVING PAIN NOW.

That kind of thing. On top of this, is my family’s natural absurdity. That pulse clip they put on your finger? Apparently mom had done something to dislodge it (she might’ve ripped it off because she’s insane) and it fell to the floor. My brilliant sister knew the nurses would come running if they saw Mom had no pulse, so what does she do? No, she didn’t put it back on Mom’s finger. No, my sister put it on her own finger while our brother watched in stunned surprise before he started laughing. They were loud. It’s just how my family is.

Then I get to the hospital. My brother went back to work, my sister stayed in the lobby so I could go see Mom. She was sleeping, but woke up when I showed. She had a look of dread on her face. She knew she was in trouble. Why? Because she didn’t tell me she wasn’t feeling well. She’d been at the hospital since 8:30 in the morning and didn’t tell anyone that she was there until noon. 4 hours! If she hadn’t looked so small and helpless in that bed, I’d have strangled her with her oxygen tube.  I told her they wouldn’t let more than one of us back there at a time and she gave me this look…I can’t even explain it.

She said, Is there someone on the other side of this curtain?

I nodded.

She glared at it. She’s the reason they aren’t allowing y’all back here. Tell them I want both of you with me. Go!

I didn’t of course, that would’ve been foolish. Instead, I distracted her with her purse, which I’d taken from my sister. She was appeased. Sometimes I feel like I’m dealing with an angry would-be empress, trying to make her happy with little sacrifices and offerings.

The doctor showed up and speaks in Doctor-talk. You know, low, soothing…completely unintelligible to my mother. She’d look at him, then at me. It was a long, arduous conversation, but the gist was that Mom had an anxiety attack or some weird cartilage inflammation crap in her chest. I’m going with the anxiety attack. He also said something about smoking sometimes causing problems and my mom gave him the-laser-stare-of-death with the words:

You doctors always blame everything on smoking!

I tapped her shoulder because really, I don’t want them to cart her away for psychiatric evaluation.

They let her go home and she seems to be doing well today. This was nothing though, trust me. Come Thursday I’ll be dealing with a virago of petulance. She’ll whine the entire (2 hour) drive home about something or other. But she’s my mom and I love her even though she’s going to give me a heart attack.

Thanks for the support yesterday, y’all. And people wonder why I wax poetic over my writing buddies!

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5 Things I’ve Learned

Last week I was tagged in a post by the lovely Angela Addams. The post was about the five things I’ve learned this year. Wow, could we possibly expand that to maybe 100 things I’ve learned? It seems crazy to me that it’s already the middle of August when it feels like it’s still May or June.

So to my five things:

1. I’ve learned that being quiet and unobtrusive only makes me appear standoffish and arrogant. I really worried about the conference, thinking I wouldn’t be able to break through my defensive walls and talk to people. Boy, was I surprised! I became a social butterfly (who went to bed early every night). I discovered a new confidence in myself and it stuck with me even after my plane landed in New Orleans.

2. I’ve learned the harsh lesson of putting all your eggs in one basket. The agent SNAFU has taught me that no matter how concrete things may appear to be, you still have to protect yourself by not pinning all your hopes on one other person. Your writing career is valuable. People will want to read your stuff and though it’s a heady feeling to have someone say they love your work, you have to use common sense. Don’t burn bridges before you’ve made certain the bridge you’re about to cross is rock solid.

3. Sometimes you need a break. Writing is fun, it’s supposed to be fun, but when it starts to feel like a chore, you need to back away from it for a little while. No,  you don’t need to shave your head and join a spiritual commune, but you do need to recharge your batteries. Get away from the computer. Leave Twitter, Facebook, and your writing groups alone for a little while. Leave your heroine hanging from a cliff. Go for a walk, go away for a short weekend, go shopping, or get your nails done. Do something to give your body and your brain a much needed break.

4. I’ve learned that coffee is my friend. As the year has steadily trudged on, I’ve become more and more dependent on it. Almost more so than chocolate. How do I know this? I drank sludge during the conference with a smile on my face. This was the kind of coffee that puts hair on your chest, but I braved it because I needed that caffeine. There was a time when I wouldn’t have dreamed of drinking coffee but once every few months. It wasn’t my thing. Now, I can’t live without it. I’m already planning to bring my own coffee to New York next year. I have to have my Community dark roast. No more sludge for me!

5. Finally, I’ve learned that there are friends to be made from every genre of writing. It’s been nearly a full year since I started taking my on-line presence more seriously and I’ve met some wonderful people. I’ve grown my network of friends, some of whom I had the honor of meeting in person, some I’m still on virtual terms with, but I couldn’t imagine continuing on this journey without them. You’re all the best!

Now it’s time for me to pass the buck. Are you ready? Three lucky people will get the chance to share their learning experiences with the rest of us. I’ve chosen: Lynn Rush, Daisy Harris, and Silvia Arada. What have you learned so far this year?

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Fantasy Man Friday

Hello, y’all! Do you know what today is? All together now “It’s FRIIIIIIDAY!”. Woot-whoo!! It isn’t just Friday, but it’s Friday the 13th! To be honest, I’d forgotten all about it until I checked my Twitter stream.

So what to talk about today to warm you up for the Fantasy Man? Well, last night, my brother stopped over to chat while we watched the Saints play the Patriots and he was asking me about writing. I’ve encouraged him to write for years because he has some really great ideas. His problem is mostly grammatical, but I told him that’s easily fixed with lessons and the like.

Last night, he wanted to know how I got my ideas. That sort of stopped me in my tracks because ideas just come to me. I don’t sit around and try to find them. If I did that, I’d never get anything done. It’s hard to explain that to someone who doesn’t have the same though process. I think most writers will be hit with an idea so suddenly that they are forced to pursue it. That’s how it is with me anyway. I tried explaining that to him. I don’t know if he got it or not.

Sometimes ideas come from random bits of conversations I hear in my head, sometimes they’re born of what I think would be the most embarrassing/horrible/funny thing I’d ever read. Sometimes though, a picture inspires me to write. Like this one:

Something about this guy (his name is Sergio Ramos Garcia), makes me think of a lion shifter. He looks exotic (and hot), athletic (and hot), catlike (and hot), and oh, hot! He’s not the most brawny Fantasy Man I’ve had here on the blog, but are you going to complain? I’m not! I mean…mmm nice. That little crease where his hips meet his abdomen? Niiiice.

Nom, nom. Okay, enough of that! What do you see when you look at him?

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Please Sir, More Books?

Yes, I feel like Oliver begging for more food. I’ve had the Kindle for about two months now. Do you want to know how many books I have on it? 130…well after yesterday, 133. Granted, I have about 7 on there I haven’t read yet, but that’s still a helluva lot of books!

I know I joked a while back, likening the Kindle to a crack pipe, but for me that’s true. I went to dinner a few weeks ago with my sister-in-law, brother, and mother.

Me: “I hope you all appreciate this. I’m giving up precious time with my Kindle for you.”

Sister-in-Law: “Yeah, I know and I’m glad. You love that thing don’t you? I wouldn’t be surprised if you named your first child Kindle and when they grow up, they’ll ask you where you got their name from and you’ll say ‘Well, once upon a time, I was in love with Kindle. Would you like to see it?'”

I couldn’t dispute her words because yes, I do love my Kindle. Sometimes when I’m feeling dorky (which is nearly…well, all the time), I’ll sing to myself, “Me and Mr. Kindlllllleeee, we got a thiiiiiiing going oooonnnnn.” Yes, I’m a nerd, but y’all love me anyway.

I don’t actually read any more than I used to. It’s about the same, but I read new stuff all the time now as opposed to me re-reading my favorites when I couldn’t afford to order books, or head to the local bookstore. Kindle has allowed me to explore new authors for a lot less than paperbacks. It’s let me find new genres to read without worrying about what the clerk will think when I check out. The Kindle has also been a wonderful conversation starter.

For instance, on my way to Orlando, I whipped out my Kindle and started devouring yet another sexy book by Kaitlyn O’Connor when the guy next to me says, “Wow! Is that a Kindle?”

I fought back a grimace and put it down, angling the screen away from him and the guy next to him who was also staring at my Kindle. “Yes.”

Guy 1: “I’ve heard and read about them, but I’ve never seen one in person!”

Guy 2: “How many books does it hold?”

And therein began a conversation that lasted for about 45 minutes of the hour and a half flight. I didn’t mind, not really. Guy 2 was very cute in a blonde surfer way and he read. I think I was just so surprised to come across men who actually read, I was delighted to share my Kindle experiences with them.

So do you ask me if I love my Kindle? No, I don’t love my Kindle. I adore it. I want to hug it and squeeze it and call it Kindle George Ravenswaay IV (I have no idea if that’s someone’s real name, it just came to me).

Have you bought a Kindle, Nook, I-Pad, or other electronic reading device? How do you like it? Do you buy it pretty clothes and show it to everyone with pride? (I don’t do that. Yet.) Do you find yourself reading more or less? C’mon, be honest. Is your family jealous of it?

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Mais

It’s Wednesday. Is it sad that it’s taken me two full days before I finally feel somewhat alert? At this rate, it’ll be Saturday before I’m running at top speed again and then I’ll have to go through this whole mess all over! But enough complaining.

Earlier in my writing “career”, I wanted to share a bit of my culture with my readers. Every week I’d introduce a new Cajun French word or phrase and explain it’s usage. I’m not sure if anyone actually read them, so I’m going to blog them instead. Yes, yes, you’re probably sick to death of me bragging about my heritage, but I’m proud to be a south Louisianan, what can I say?

First off, let me explain what a Cajun actually is. Cajuns are descended from the Acadians who were forced out of Acadia and found a new home in south Louisiana. They were French speakers and they’re very proud of their heritage. So proud that they will seek out “Cajun” restaurants in other states and have a hissy when the food isn’t cooked the way it is here. This brings me to my next point: not every person in south Louisiana is Cajun. I’m actually not Cajun. My family came directly from France in the 18th century. I’m almost positive they were convicts, but we’ll leave that for another post.

Cajun French is not the same French spoken in Canada or France, but if one of those ingenious Cajuns ever managed to build a time machine and go back to 18th century France, they would be understood. Funny, huh? The thing is, the language didn’t develop or change very much over the last 300 years because of isolation. Most of the Acadians moved to south-central Louisiana to what is commonly referred to as Cajun Country, or Acadiana. Yes, yes, words have been modified because of technology changes, but it hasn’t changed that much.

Anyway, back to the real lesson. Mais. Mais is a broad word. It means “but” and it’s used. A lot. For instance:

“Mais, did you see the UPS guy?”

“Mais, I ain’t scared, me, no.”

“Do you want a coke?” (Coke isn’t always Coca-Cola, it’s any carbonated soft drink).
“Mais, yeah.”

For the longest time I thought everyone was using “mais” like we do when “meh” began appearing all over the place. People use it to express disgust, anger, and indifference. Cajuns use “mais” the same way, but we also use it to open conversation.

Mais, there you go. I hope you enjoyed your first lesson in Cajun culture. I hope I can remember to do this weekly, but there’s no telling what other weird ideas I’ll get to blog about.

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My Dream Was Interrupted

I complained about this yesterday on Facebook.

Saturday, when I lost the thread of my story, I decided to take a nap. Now normally naps are anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. This is different from my powernaps. Powernaps are taken only during working hours and last maybe 15-20 minutes. Why is this important? Well…

For the most part, I don’t dream when I nap. I have to have a good sleep going to fall into a dream state, but I must have been more tired than I realized Saturday because almost as soon as I fell asleep, I was dreaming. It’s what I was dreaming about that was fascinating. You see, I dreamed I was part of a police investigation in France. I’ve never been to France. Even better, the crime happened on a train. I’ve never been on a train either. And like icing on the cake, the detective interviewing me was this guy:

This is Olivier Martinez. I’m sure those of you who’ve seen Unfaithful recognize him. I didn’t recognize him. I’ve only ever seen him in Blood and Chocolate and that was years ago. So why did he appear in my dream? I haven’t seen any movie previews in a while, I didn’t even know his name to be honest, but there he was in amazing Technicolor.

By the way, he didn’t look like this in my dream. He was more scruffy, broody, and oh so hot. No, no I’m not going into detail about what happened…mostly because he just talked to me in that French accent and brooded at me. It was lovely! It was like being a heroine in my very own romantic suspense. *swoon*

So you can about imagine how disappointed I was when the dream was cut off abruptly. Yup, I woke up. Or rather, I was rudely interrupted by my dog barking at whoever was knocking on the front door. I stumbled out of bed, shuffled through the house and flung the door open. I’m pretty sure I was a scary sight with my hair sticking up all over the place and a baleful glare in my eyes. Luckily it wasn’t Gerard Butler or that cute UPS guy. No, it was my aunt and cousin.

It’s been three days. You’d think I would be over it, but I’m not. My brain keeps sending me flashes of the dream (mostly Mr. Martinez’s face) when I least expect it. I can only suspect it’s because I didn’t have closure in the dream, you know, like solved the crime, caught the suspect, kissed Olivier (cause we’re on a first name basis now that he’s appeared in my dreams), that kind of thing.

Now, my only other complaint is…where exactly is Gerard Butler? Shouldn’t he be the one starring in my dreams? Naughty man. I suppose when he finally shows up, I’ll have to spank him.

Have you had any interrupted dreams lately? What do you usually dream about? Is Gerard showing up in your dreams? Cause if he is, tell him I expect him to be on time tonight.

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Losing the Plan

I made big plans last week to do some serious writing over the weekend. Boy, was I in for a disappointment!

I wrote maybe a thousand words the entire weekend. It just seemed like everything had to happen right when I was preparing myself to write. We had a lawnmower crisis (which is nothing new in our household). We’re cursed when it comes to mowers, but that meant since I have the only vehicle that can haul big items, I had to pack the mower up and return it to the store. That was half the morning wasted. By the time I did get to write, I was so out of sorts, I barely managed to add anything to my manuscript.

Then I’m dealing with serious indecision. This drives me crazy since I’m a very decisive person. The problem I’m having is that the story I’m currently working on was originally part of the series that’s in limbo. I decided to take that story, make it part of its own world and continue writing it. This meant a change in character names, world names, society, etc. And now that I’ve set on this course, I’m wondering if I should’ve done that. What if one of the seven publishers who have my manuscript decide they want the series? Then I’d have to go back and change the WIP yet again.

*slumps* I don’t know what to do. Do I push forward with the new series idea, or do I put it on the back burner until I find out what the publishers want? Since it could take anywhere between 3 months to a year before I hear anything, I don’t like that last option. It’s driving me crazy and ruining the wonderful creative bent I had going last week. (By the way, any advice y’all could throw my way would be greatly appreciated.)

On the other hand, I still make plans. During Nationals, I met so many wonderful people with new books coming out, that I’m going to try to start doing author interviews. I’ll have Nikki Duncan soon (sometime this month) and hope to tackle others. If you’re an author interested in doing an interview, contact me via danica.avet@gmail.com and we can work something out.

Hopefully I can find my way again. Feeling lost, especially when I have so many ideas, is a drag. What do you do when your plans don’t work out the way you wanted them to?

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Fantasy Man Friday

Am I the only one practically panting for the day to be over so they can start the weekend? I feel like I haven’t slept, truly slept, in over a month. I know that isn’t true (because then I’d be walking around saying BRAAAAIIIINSSSSS), but it sure feels that way.

I’ve decided to get off my very generous tush and finish one of the WIPs I’ve been working on. Of course because I am like water (finding the path of least resistance), I’m going to work on the WIP that’s half-way written. I looked over it yesterday to remind myself of the story and I loved it. I was charmed and entertained. I can only hope my critique partners feel the same when I start sending it their way. *crosses her fingers*

My goal is to write about 50k words by September 1st. Sort of like my own NaNo and to “git ‘er done” I’m going to head to a local coffee shop tomorrow armed with nothing but my mini and my headphones. I will buy the largest Oreo crush iced mocha supreme money can buy. I will write and I will bust out several pages towards my goal. We’ll see if I actually do it. I’m um…okay, I’m lazy on the weekends. There. I said it. I’m lazy!

So to inspire myself to write on my Amazon/Minotaur story, I’ve decided to borrow a picture from Allison Pang’s Midnight Man Candy. I loved this picture so much I went back more than once to ogle it.

Do you blame me? Look at his thighs!! Those are the kinds of thighs a woman can sink her teeth into! Grr. Um, the rest of him is pretty friggin’ fantastic too, but those thighs! *swoons* I mean, I know he isn’t a minotaur or a centaur, but something about this picture reminds me of my hero. It’s just so…elemental and schexy. *turns the fan on “high”* I am sweating over here and it isn’t the temperature.

What are your plans for the weekend? Do you have a writing goal you’ve set for yourself and made diabolical plans to accomplish, like not doing the laundry or cleaning the house?

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Branded

I was so going to write about something else this morning, something witty, but then I heard something on the radio that made me think I had to do a writing post today.

You see, I’d heard that Ozzy Osbourne wants to write a love song, something completely different from his…30 years? of heavy metal style, but is worried that his fans will think he’s sold out. This blew my mind. Here’s Ozzy Osbourne, the Prince of Darkness, worried about being thought of as a sold-out by his fans. I had to stew on this for a bit because it’s something we’re taught to worry about as writers.

For a while, I wasn’t sure what branding was, but as I became more comfortable in my writing skin, I realized your writing brand is what keeps your audiences coming back for more. The same is said for anyone in the movie, music, or writing industries. Audience expectations tend to rule your life, I’d imagine (just guessing here since I’m unpublished) and it probably leads to a lot of stress and creative blocking.

As a writer, I can see how troublesome this would be. If Stephen King suddenly started writing straight forward romance novels, there would be people who’d read it just out of curiosity, but his hard-core fans would be disgusted. The same could probably be said of romance authors with a strong fan base who suddenly begins writing horror with no love story subplot (although I think romance readers are more tolerant than other genres, but I’m biased).

When I decided to write “seriously”, I chose a pseudonym to protect my real name, but as time goes on, I realized that it was probably for the best for branding purposes. Should I choose, at a later date, to write in a completely different subgenre of romance, I can get another pseudonym to help ease the transition for any fans I might’ve accumulated under the name Danica Avet.

Right now, I have two pseudonyms, although only one has made a true public appearance: Danica Avet is out and about all the time. She has friends, a permanent home, a web presence, and shoots off her big mouth almost constantly. Jojo Solet is still unformed. I thought for a while that she would be my erotic pseudonym, and she still might, but I haven’t written enough erotica to give her a presence.

Does any of this make sense? I tend to ramble a lot, but the basic point is to watch how you present yourself on the interwebz, because every single piece of information out there is subject to scrutiny. When you make it big (scratch “if” out of your vocabulary), you want people to be able to find you, connect with your persona, and know that when you churn out more books the feel will be the same.

What are your thoughts on branding?

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An Unusual Nightmare

I know I said I was finished blogging about Nationals and I was. Until I remembered something I learned last week. It’s funny, isn’t it? The more I rest, the more I remember from the conference. I suppose my brain is finally coming back on-line.

Anyway, I took a workshop last week called Crime Scene Imagination. It was held by a DNA Lab Tech and a Body Farmer. I’m not going to go into the body farming. It creeped me out a bit although I was highly intrigued.

No, today’s post is about something the body farmer, Michelle Labbe told us. Someone asked what kind of animals were usually first on scene when a body was left in the woods. Of course she explained about flies, beetles, and the like, but what shocked me was when she said, “Oh and deer.”

Now I live in Sportsman’s Paradise. I’ve had wild game more times than I can count, but I never once thought of that wild game snacking on me. If you want to dig deeper, think of it as Bambi using you like beef jerky. I was horrified. I had to know more! So I raised my hand and asked what exactly deer would eat on the human body. I was told they’d probably eat hair, maybe the dryer parts of the skin.

I dwelled on this information for days and it still bothers me. I tried to justify it. It has to be the salt content in the human body. I know hunters put out salt licks for deer, so for a deer to decide munching on a dead body is a good idea, has to be because of salt excreted through the pores. I should be fine with that, right?

Wrong. The writer in me had a lot to think about because I’m now wondering about the deer that used to live around the house I grew up in. Were any of them man-eaters? Has there ever been a case of a deer killing a human to eat their hair and lick their skin? What about rabbits? Should I worry about them too? Like I didn’t have enough to be scared of already. You know, black bears, cougars, coyotes, alligators and all the damn snakes in south Louisiana, now I have to worry about the bloody deer! And possibly rabbits and nutria-rats and opossums and squirrels. There’s a whole world of trouble out there ready to snack on my corpse!

Phew, glad I got that out of my system. I mean, logically (but we’re not dealing with logic, are we?) I know that the cycle of life is unending. You’re born, you die, your body becomes food for the next cycle forming. It’s natural, but damned if it still doesn’t freak me out.

How about y’all? Have you learned something recently that freaked you out? Have you ever heard of a man-eating deer and if so, where was it?

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