Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How I Spent my Summer Vacation

What Summer Vacation?

Others have already had some lovely posts about their summer reading. It makes me want to cry because this summer I read very little. I had a book due August 15 and there were so many interruptions for other projects and life and what have you that there was a lengthy period when I was waking up at night to find that in my dreams I was stressing about finishing the book.

My family thinks I'm joking when I put the Do Not Disturb sign on my door or that I cannot possibly mean them when it goes up. ACK!!!  Yes (Name of Family Member), I love you, but I DO mean You. Now go away.

I get a lot of work done sitting in the back seat of my car at lunchtime. No internet. No beloved family members.

You may think this story has a bad ending involving tearful phone calls to agents or editors, but actually, I finished the book and turned it in four days early. W00t!

No Stress Here, Baby!

During the first few days after turning in the book, I would sit in front of my computer, filled with stress before my hands were on the keyboard. Someone would come to my door to talk to me and I'd be, all, hey, I'm busy, can't you see that, and . . .  Wait a minute! No. I'm not busy at all. But I couldn't tear myself away from the computer because . . . I'm sick, I think. Manuscript Separation Anxiety Disorder.

Reading. There was some of that.

But I did do some reading and I can list some of the highlights in no particular order.

I read Meljean Brook's steampunk novella (In Burning Up) Here There Be Monsters and that story was so good I didn't want it to end. If you're wondering about steampunk, this story would be a great start.

Recently, I finished Georgette Heyer's The Grand Sophy which I enjoyed, but not as much as I thought I would and not nearly at much as Venetia. The former had a distasteful scene with a Jewish money lender -- full of every stereotype you can imagine. Even as I told myself that Heyer wrote during a time when such bigotry was rarely questioned, I found myself feeling a bit sad. Since I am no longer a Heyer virgin, I recognized both the hero and heroine archetypes from other books by her so this one did not seem quite as fresh to me.

And yet, Heyer is a magnificent writer of character and her strong women are strong indeed. Subversively so. It was a lovely read that lasted only two days because I had to know what happened next.

I discovered, much to my (ironic) delight, that I had somehow skipped Lee Child's Gone Tomorrow. Lucky Me! I read that in a couple of days. I love Jack Reacher. I do so adore thrillers and Lee Child is one of the finest thriller writers out there.

Um. That's all I can remember right now. I read a few books I was unable to finish as they annoyed me to the point where I felt I had better things to do with my time. There was a time when I used to finish a book no matter what, but over the years, I've decided that if a book is disappointing me enough, there is, in fact, a point at which I wish to spend my time doing something that would be not reading that book. Do any of you do that? Do you slog through No Matter What? Or do you reach some line in the reading sand beyond which you will not turn another page?

In which Carolyn Goes Afield

Like many women readers, there aren't many genres I don't read. I harbor a deep and abiding love for Thrillers. Barry Eisler and Lee Child are two favorites of mine.

Not long ago I started reading Fantasy again after a years and years long hiatus caused by a lack of female characters that were anything like real women. I was mightily pleased to learn the character landscape of Fantasy has changed considerably. Joy!  Jim Butcher and Brian Sanderson are two male authors I encountered who write wonderful female characters. I have also read Books 1-2 of Bujold's Sharing Knife series and will be tracking down more.

Stuff about Carolyn

I write historical romance for Berkley Books. Scandal was a 2010 RITA finalist in the Regency historical category. Indiscreet won the 2010 Bookseller's Best award for Best Short Historical. This was my first time ever winning a writing award and it was both unexpected and thrilling. I got awesome bling. In 2011 I will be writing two more historicals for Berkley; they'll be out in 2012. I am trying not to stress about getting started on the first of those books while I take a brief break . . . I'm hoping to last two weeks before I crack, but I'm starting to have dreams about not starting the first book until like 3 days before it's due, and I can't write 33,333 words per day.

My short story Moonlight appears in the Mammoth Book of Regency Romance, which just came out this July 2010. ETA: Since I retained the digital rights to this story, I've posted it at my website along with some gorgeous artwork I commissioned just for that story. You can read Moonlight at my website or download a pdf from that link. It's licensed under a Creative Commons license so you're free to download the story, post to your own website (with credit and link back to me) or upload to any device you like.  The artist for this story is the amazingly talented Seamas Gallagher.

I also write paranormal romance for Grand Central Publishing. Demons and witches and the like, only maybe the bad guys aren't what you'd expect. My Forbidden Desire was a 2010 RITA finalist in the paranormal category. In January 2011, the 3rd book in my paranormal series will be out; My Immortal Assassin. That will be followed by My Dangerous Pleasure (the book I just turned in) in June 2011. Hopefully Grand Central will want more paranormals from me. In the next few days, I'll have another free short story, this time a paranormal, also with artwork from Seamas.

The RITA, for those who don't follow romance, is the Romance equivalent of the Hugo for Sci/Fi/Fantasy and the Edgar for mystery writers. 

I have a chihuahua named Fudge and a cat named Jake. The vet believes Jake is a Maine Coon cat, but he happened to be born under the barn at the bottom of our driveway so I know he's not purebred. I picked Jake from the litter (we found homes for them all, and were able to trap the mother and get her spayed. She then lived under my sister's bed for a year before she decided it was OK to come out) because he was the smallest. He grew into large fluffy cat. 15 pounds of lap cat. He loves to sleep on my printer and help me write. The dog sleeps behind me on my chair as I write.

My son is a teenager and I am a terrible embarrassment to him.


  1. Wonderful, funny post Carolyn! I have never ever considered writing in the back seat of my car:). And the good thing about your teenager is that he'll begin to notice how his parents are gaining IQ points as he moves into his twenties. (We were bonafide idiots for a period of time!)

    As for Manuscript Separation Anxiety, I will have to suggest that as an official diagnosis in the next manual...

  2. Carolyn, you're so busy it's a miracle you got any reading done. (The teenage son alone is a handful I'm sure.)

    I like a thriller now and then too. I'm a huge Harlan Coben fan but will try Lee Child and Barry Eisler. I also have a Lisa Unger on my TBR pile. Great post. It's really fun to get to know everyone.

  3. Carolyn, I'm just going into full fledged "Do Not Disturb" mode with a deadline in November (and lots to do in between besides writing, ack!). I already warned my hubby that my symptoms of PMDS (pre-manuscript deadline syndrome) will increase ten-fold with each passing week! ;-) And you have a Maine Coon mutt, too? We've got one adopted as a baby from the APA, complete with fluffy tail, fuzz coming out of ears and toes, and spectacular ruff. Anyway, so good to meet you! I'm having such fun learning all about the other Girlfriends, and I keep adding to my "books I wanna read" list!

  4. Carolyn, you are always amazing! ANd we want to see photos of the bling.

    I love Lee Child, too..I don't know how he always manages to be so compelling..got to love Reacher.And Lee is such a cool guy, I might add.

    ANd oh, indeed! I definitely just put down a book if I'm not loving it. My husband sighs through the whole thing--he'll say: AH..I'm hating this book. I say--stop, then! But he won't. It's come to the point where I sometimes take his books and hide them, to put him out of his misery.

  5. Making note of your recommendations, Carolyn--all new to me. I saw the cover of your upcoming book recently--verrry sexy and I love the type/design.

    Also love your blog! Treasure trove of info.

  6. Hey Carolyn, so fun to meet you here! Love the book recommendations and I second Roberta's wisdom about teen-age boys and how you get smarter as they get older. My twenty-something sons now call me ASKING for advice.

  7. Gosh, I hope you all are right about the teenage boy thing. He's a good kid, but sometimes, when I'm not wondering where all the food went (he's 15 and 6'2" and getting taller) he doesn't scruple to roll his eyes at my hopeless doofery.

    For anyone who hasn't read Lee Child yet, you are in for a treat!

    Hank! Hiding the hubster's books. I can just see you, all Gee, honey, I don't know where that book could have got to!

  8. Carolyn
    Nice post! Good to see you here and great to see you at RWA. I love your historicals. As for embarrassing the teenager? Hmm... I am quite certain I will get the opportunity to embarrass my girlies. It is, after all, our job as mothers.

  9. It took me a long time to get to the point of being able to put a book down. It depends on why I don't like it, but for certain problems, it's not going to get better. The Internet helps me: the last time this happened, I tweeted, "Hey, what's the twist ending?," somebody told me, and I could quit.