Hubby and I are mired in busy-ness. I'm trying to finish the current book I'm working on, which is almost there, and the hubby is working on his MBA classwork. The beautiful days of summer are beginning, and we're too busy to go to the pool or enjoy the sunshine for more than a quick break. In fact, this coming weekend when everyone else will be going on Memorial Day holidays, we'll be here, working. Well, he'll be working, because I MUST be done by then. Other than a quick read through, I won't have the pressure I've had for the past few weeks. Don't know what I'll do with myself — except, yes, I'll probably start another book. I have ideas for the next few, so I want to get them on paper before I forget. 🙂

The most exciting thing going on at Chez Harris, for me anyway, is that you can now find THE PRINCE'S ROYAL CONCUBINE in stores! Here's proof:

I don't know why the book looks so orange in photos. It's not orange at all! A reader sent me a photo too, and yep, it was orange. Have you seen the book in your neck of the woods? Is it orange? 😉

Comment here, send me a photo at lynn AT lynnrayeharris DOT com, and I'll enter you in a quick little blog contest for a choice of one of my backlist books and a $5 gift card to Starbucks!

NOTE: since I know you aren't hovering in bookstores as I write this, the contest will be open for a few days. 🙂

How life gets in the way

Hey, y'all! Life has sure been busy the last few days, let me tell you. Yesterday, I had wonderful intentions to write all day. Didn't happen. First, there was the emergency trip to Sherwin Williams to buy paint samples. Then there was the curtain lady from JCP who came to try and sell me custom curtains (this is what happens when you go to a home show and sign up for stuff without thinking about it too much). The curtain appointment took 3 hours — and we were only talking about TWO windows!

After she left, it was back to Sherwin Williams for more samples. Then I had to wait at home in case the painter came by to see what I'd chosen (but I still hadn't chosen!). Once my hubby got home, it was back to Sherwin Williams a third time for more paint. I bought 7 samples yesterday, and finally made a decision. The painter is relieved, I'm sure. Tomorrow, he starts painting. Whew, who knew choosing paint was so hard?

This morning, as if yesterday wasn't busy enough, another guy from the Home Show came by. This was for a yard service and termite control. Since Hubby and I suck at yard care (weeds, fertilizing, etc), we really wanted to see what this would cost. Totally reasonable, so I signed us up. And for the termite control too.

(I didn't buy the curtains, however, if you were wondering. Though the fabric was beautiful, I have a hard time with $2500 for curtains for two windows — tall windows, to be sure, but still.)

This afternoon, I have to go pick up the paint that the painter is ordering this morning. And somewhere in all this mess, I have a book to finish. I'm seriously getting cranky about it too. Because I figured out a plot problem and fixed it, and now it's time to move forward. But my motion was on hold for household things, which has really frustrated me.

The best part of yesterday, however, was getting my North American author copies of The Prince's Royal Concubine. I wasn't expecting them so early, but when I saw the UPS man, I knew that's what it had to be because I hadn't ordered anything recently. So you know what this means! To celebrate, I'm giving away a copy today on the blog. Leave a comment and tell me about the best book you read recently. (Does not have to be mine, btw.) Or you can tell me about how life got in the way of something you were doing. 🙂

Update: using the handy dandy Random Number Generator, the winner is Jayme! Jayme, please email me your contact info and I'll get the book out to you ASAP! Thanks for all the comments, y'all! I enjoyed hearing about the books you like, and about your little life detours. 🙂

Contest results coming!

Sorry, I've been a bit behind, but will announce winners of the December contest and update the site either later today or first thing tomorrow morning! Thanks for your patience. 🙂

The Presents Contest

I have followed the comment trail over at I Heart Presents with sadness and even a bit of disappointment. It's up to the editors to sort out the rules, and I will not comment on that at all. And while I DO understand the disappointment of some of the people who are commenting, I have to say that I don't think personal attacks are ever warranted.

Yes, I was an unknown when I won the first Presents contest. And you can bet I was damn happy. Thrilled to freaking pieces. I didn't expect I had an automatic pass through the publishing doors, however. As it turned out, I did not. I had to work hard, through two sets of revisions in which I wanted to tear my hair out and even cried because I thought I was failing big time and would never get bought, but would quietly fade away when my lovely editor rejected me and stopped answering emails.

Happily, I finally nailed those revisions and my lovely editor bought the book. Four books later, I'm still thrilled and amazed. And I still have revisions and I still work hard and bite my nails and wonder if my editor will reject me. Because it DOES happen, y'all. Being published is not a guarantee of future publication. (So if you tell me that because I'm published, it's easy for me, I can assure you that you are wrong. Whether you believe it or not. And no, I didn't believe it before I was published either.)

I will not speak to rules, because I am not qualified to make that judgment. But I can tell you that the two published winners didn't get an automatic pass into the top two. Their work had to be outstanding, and it had to live up to the Presents promise. I don't believe either one of them deserve to be attacked personally, whether or not you like that they won or think they violated a rule. It's your right to be disappointed, and to express dismay that published authors were allowed to enter. It's even your right to demand to know how the rules were applied and whether or not they were violated. But it's not your right to be mean to these women.

And I will say this until I'm blue in the face: JUST BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T WIN DOES NOT MEAN YOU WON'T SELL TO THE LINE! Ask Tina Duncan, Maisey Yates, and Mira Lyn Kelly! Of the two runners up when I won, one of them went on to sell into TRADE PAPERBACK under another name. I won't out her because she may not want that, but believe me when I tell you the woman is amazingly talented! I am thankful to call her a friend and to run ideas past her even now.

I understand being disappointed to realize you were competing against published authors. But who do you think you're competing against whenever you submit a manuscript? Your work has to be as good as what's published in the line to get bought. You are competing, whether you know it or not. And I really don't know whether there were published authors in the contest I won; being published already does not automatically make you a better writer for a particular line than someone unpublished who is targeting the same line. I've heard, from reliable sources, about single title writers who want to break into Presents and can't. They don't have the voice, and all the publishing credits in the world won't get them bought if they can't write the story.

Okay, so that's my opinion. If you were disappointed by the outcome, good grief I don't blame you at all! But please don't listen to the naysayers who tell you that you might as well give up because you'll never get a fair look and you can't compete with published authors. YOU CAN. You do it every time you submit, so keep writing and keep growing. It took me 15 years to get published. How long will you keep trying before you give up for good?

A new contest

My December contest is live, so be sure to check out the contest page and see what the prizes are this month! There will be three lucky winners this time! Congratulations again to Jillian S. of Dayton, OH, who won the November contest. Just as soon as I dig myself from under this deadline, I'll pop your goodies into the mail!

I'm still working hard on the sheikh story. I only have a few days left to get it done and turned in. I'll get there, because failure is not an option, but man can it be tiring during the trek to the finish line. I love what I do, but sometimes I just want to take a break and do nothing but sit on the couch in front of the fire and read all day.

Since that's not an option, I keep my nose to the grindstone and keep working. I admit that I spend a little more time than I should online, but I also think of it as a way to keep my sanity. 🙂

Have you ever seen “For Love of the Game” with Kevin Costner? I don't like sports very much, but I love sports movies. I like the story behind the events whereas I don't actually like to watch real games all that much. Give me a character in crisis, and even if he's a sports hero, I love it (I also feel this way about SEP's football romances and Rachel Gibson's hockey romances).

Kevin plays a great character in this movie, and one of the things he does, while pitching this huge game of his career, is tell himself before he throws the ball to “clear the mechanism.” Then the crowd noise fades and there's nothing but him, the ball, and the batter on the other end. I think of my online forays during the day–or even the times I get up and do something else, like throw in a load of laundry or fix lunch and watch 15 minutes of TV while eating–as clearing the mechanism.

It's necessary to the way I work. I can't go away for long, because that interrupts the flow too much. But a short break where the brain is engaged in something else entirely? That clears the mechanism and I find when I sit back down that I might see the path I've been trying so hard to find.

This blog post today is clearing the mechanism, too. I decided I needed to write something other than the story, and I wanted to share this process because it's one of the things that helps me. It may not help you. You may need to focus completely, so I can't guarantee this will work. (But if you try, you must resist the temptation to wander down country lanes, so to speak. Quick breaks, get back to work, etc.)

So now that I've spent the last fifteen minutes writing this post, it's time to get back to work. What tricks do you use to clear the mechanism?