Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

Today we take the time to remember and honor those members of our military who made the ultimate sacrifice. Politics doesn't play a part. These men and woman gave their lives so we can choose the life we want to live. We owe it to them to remember.

Thank you for your service and sacrifice, and the sacrifice of your families.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

When does something go from being an event to something more?

We all have events in our lives - the kids need to be picked up from school, time to worm the animals- you know the every day in and outs of living. I've been to lots of events. Marketing meetings, seminars and fund raisers. I've seen some of the shows that redefined Broadway productions.Sometimes what we expect to be an event with the little "e" becomes an Event, capital "E." The capital E moments are the ones that leave their impression long after the incident is over. There are good Events - graduation day, wedding days, the moment your child is born - that often are the culmination of lots of small events. There are the horrible Events that steal your breath away and fundamentally change you - September 11, the death of a parent or child, the diagnosis of cancer or the loss of innocence.

But when does an occurrence cross the line from just something that happened to an Event?

For me, the crossover happens when there's a fundamental change in how I see or interact with the world. Sometimes we're lucky enough to realize when an Event is happening. Other times we only recognize the paradigm shift in its aftermath.

 The first time I heard Tracy Hickman tell his story about how one of his stories touched a soldier was one of those moments. The first time I heard James A. Owen tell his story and draw his dragon was another.

I spent the year between the 2012 Superstars and 2013 Superstars in professional turmoil for my day job. My law firm of 5 years was splitting up. I could join the D.C. office, but my title of "partner" would be just that - a title. Rather than do that, or go out on my own and face the uncertain income stream that entailed, I decided to join a firm that promised to treat me like an equal, and in six months we'd renegotiate my compensation (base salary plus a percentage of the collection) and my status in the hopes of making me a full equity partner.

That situation didn't work out like I'd hoped. After the managing partner blew off yet another meeting about my future with the firm to get a haircut - yes, you read that right, he left to get a haircut, or at least that's what he told me-, I had a decision to make. Having the managing partner skip out of a meeting with me for a haircut was a wake up call. Now what was I going to do about it?

The firm offered me insurance and a regular paycheck. I wanted those things for my family. My husband has run his own firm or been part of a two partner firm for most of his career. There are months where he won't bring home any income, followed by a month with LARGE checks from his court appointed work. Right now he's working on a case that, if he's lucky, will pay him in February 2014. Yup, you read that right too - 9 months from now. So, I thought about James.

James has a saying, "Never give up what you want most for what you want most right now."

What did I want most - to be part of a firm where what I could do and who I am was valued. Where I didn't feel like the partners were sabotaging me.

What did I want most right then? A paycheck so I could keep my kids in their school and keep their life somewhat stable.

When I thought about it that way, the choice was clear.

So, because the managing partner refused to meet with me, I quit by e-mail and gave him ten days' notice.  That decision caused about three months of hassle with the old firm and I still have a target on me as far as they are concerned. But, it was the right choice for LOTS of reasons.

Anyway, I hung out my shingle on February 1, 2013. I agonized about taking a week off for Superstars 2013, but then I'd already committed to Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta to help out. What I want most is to be a person of her word. Again, the choice was clear.

Superstars 2013 was an EVENT. Not just for me, but for lots of people.

I could quote all the blog posts about it., but it's better, I think, just to send you to them.

Nathan Barra wrote - Expectations and Hope Rewarded - you can find his post at:

Sam Knight wrote "A Lightning Strike on Your Writing Career: Seriously you NEED to read this one." You can read  If you've read my short story collection, Paths Less Traveled, you know lightning strikes has a special place in my heart.

Terry Odell shared her insights from the seminar in a multipost blog starting here.

Mark Leslie wrote - Top 10 Takeaways from Superstars Writing Seminar. You can find that post here

To Mark's quotes, I'll add the following:

"It does not matter if you are published, it matters if you are READ." - Tracy Hickman.

"It's the bad books that make you a better writer." - Joan Ann Johnson.

Superstars  is an Event for me. Not only did I get to see lots of friends from previous Superstars and meet fabulous new people. I got to look behind the curtain and make Kevin and Rebecca's life easier. As part of the non-session outing to Star Trek, I met a lovely family and got to talk to a young man about his dream about being a writer. And discovered that his father also harbored the dream.

Like Sam, I saw the lightning sparkle and strike for many people this year. Sure, some of those strikes won't ignite the rocket Sam refers to, but surprising number will.

Really, people. Why weren't you there? I hope I'll see you next year.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Garden of the Gods

One of the perks of going to Superstars Writing Seminars this year was I got to visit The Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Co. To borrow from its website:

Garden of the Gods Park is a registered National Natural Landmark. Imagine dramatic views, 300' towering sandstone rock formations against a backdrop of snow-capped Pikes Peak and brilliant blue skies.

The park has become one of my favorite places. Not only are there amazing rock formations (and the pictures in the post don't do justice to the place or give you a sense of the sheer size of these rocks. I went shortly after sunrise. The sound of the pigeons in the cliff face was a constant thrum in the background. Rabbits calmly cropped grass while I stood less than five feet away.

I'd heard the rocks change as the lights hit them. And they did.  Even though the main track through the park was only a mile long, I spent three hours meandering through the cliffs. I'm going to try to swing by again before the conference ends.

If you are ever in Colorado Springs, The Garden of the Gods is well worth the trip. I know I'll be back.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Musa Publishing: Dirty Little Secrets

I never thought I'd be writing romance themes in my stories. To find out how my tag line became "stories about characters that live and love" please check out my post today on the Musa Blog.

Musa Publishing: Dirty Little Secrets: by Nancy DiMauro   

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Getting Geared Up for Superstars

After a lovely breakfast in bed and the gift of flowers from my boys (all three of them), I spent the better part of my day on a plane headed to Colorado Springs, Colorado for the Superstars Writing Seminar. The seminar officially kicks off on Tuesday, but there's lots of unofficial getting together and airport runs tomorrow.

Kevin J Anderson just posted the updated schedule. And I have to say, we have some great presenters this year - Kevin, of course, Rebecca Moesta, Eric Flint, James A. Owen, Tracy Hickman, Lisa Mangum, Joan Johnston, Jim Minz, Mark Leslie Lefebvre, Peter Wacks, and Superstars Alumni -  M. Scott Boone, and Moses Siregar.

Superstars is still by far the best way to learn about the business of writing.

I'm taking bets on who wrings more tears from  the audience - Tracy or James. I'm going to be posting from the seminar. So  stay tuned this week.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Editing versus writing

I'm currently editing two novels. It struck me the other night how fundamentally different the process of writing is from editing in one aspect. When I write a story, I'm always looking at my increasing word count. My goals are based on how many new words I add to the story each week. There's that moment of excitement when a story passes the "short" length and into novella. Then there's the sheer joy of crossing into novel length.

But then, I type "The End" and panic sets. One of the down sides to being a discovery writer is that I write long. Too long. I might have 50 pages before I figure out where the story starts. As I start to push the upper edge of genre appropriate word count. I start thinking about how much is left and how much I'll need to cut in the edit phase.

When I switch hats from writer to editor, I reverse the process. I have a minimum number of words I need to lop off. It's a bit disheartening when I start the process, but then just like the moment of watching the word count rise, watching it decline becomes a thrill. Not only am I  bringing the beast into genre acceptable limits, but I'm watching the story lines tighten, making my prose cleaner and meaner. Once I chip away excess words, I find themes I hadn't realized I'd written in.

So, right now I'm in the process of taking a 130,500 word behemoth back down to something closer to 110k. Three thousand words to down, seventeen thousand to go. Oh yes, and did I mention I wanted this edit complete before I leave for Superstars Writing Seminar on Sunday (May 12)?? Well, I do. So it's back to work for me.

As always, thanks for stopping by.