Monday, August 10, 2009

New Hampshire AuthorFest 2009!

I am so excited! These last couple months I have been a part of organizing NH AuthorFest 2009, and I'm pleased to say that it's coming together very nicely! It's been a lot of work, but I'm finding it to be very energizing. We're going to have several authors, a couple publishers, and even a VP of Marketing for a publishing company. The event is being sponsored by Waldenbooks, the Lilac Mall and two local authors, Jeremy Robinson, and myself!

Our goal: To inspire future generations of readers.

The Date: August 15th from 11:30 to 3:00.
The Place: Lilac Mall, Rochester, NH

The Timeline:

11:30 - 1:00 Author Signing and Meet & Greet
1:00 - 1:30 Hunter Allain, who's hearing impaired, will be signing Last Night at the Zoo
(Leslie Allain will be reading)
1:30 - 2:30 Author Panel Q & A
2:30 - 3:00 Award Ceremony
(to award the Leaders Inspiring Readers award)

The Guests:

Jeremy Robinson – Action/Adventure
Kristina Schram – YA Fantasy
J. J. Hebert – Inspirational Adult Fiction
Jon Merz – Action/Adventure
Jeffrey Derego – Sci-Fi
Renee Mallett – Local Interest (Paranormal)
Gary Turcotte – Local Interest
Scot Stone – Fantasy
Brooks Sigler – Chick Lit
Marianne O’Connor – Local Interest (Paranormal)
Rebecca Horan – Memoir
Phil McGrail – Publisher, YA Fantasy
Stan Tremblay – Publisher’s Assistant
Dan Boucher – Book Reviewer
Beryl Donovan – Librarian (Gaffney Library, Wakefield, Director)
Carol Corbett – VP of Marketing & Publicity

Possible Attendee:

Nora LeDuc – Mystery/Romance

Our goal is to promote literacy, to make people excited about reading, and to encourage others to help those who need support in learning to read, whether they be children or adults!

Hope to see you there!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Different Ways to Publish

I recently heard about a new writer who is considering going the self-publishing route because in doing so, he would rake in all the profit. After thinking about his reasoning, I decided to offer my perspective on the three big ways to publish a book, based on what I've learned over the years. This is only meant to be a guide. Be sure to research each option on your own (that's a nice way of saying don't hold me accountable for anything I say here).

There are three major ways to publish your book:

1) Via a big publisher
2) Via a small publisher
3) Self-Publishing

All ways have their positives and negatives.

1) Publishing via a big publisher:

The advantages:

a. More knowledge - Big publishers know the trends, the markets, the way things are done. They know what sells and how well it will sell (for the most part). They have the editors, the artists, the layout team, the sales team. You won't be going it alone, that's for sure.

b. More reach - Big publishers are established all over the country and throughout the world. People know who they are and, as we all know, half the battle is name recognition. Readers sometimes base whether or not they'll buy a book based on who published it. I don't do this, but I've seen other, weirder, people do it.

c. Better access to bookstores - Bookstores typically don't want to take on self-published or POD books. Why? Because they can't send them back to the publisher if they don't sell. That means, they aren't as likely to take a risk on you.

The disadvantages:

a. Very hard to get a deal with one. Everyone and their mother wants to be a published author (seriously, my mother is a writer, too). There's a lot of competition out there and you are one of thousands and thousands, maybe billions.

b. New authors don't get much of a marketing budget, if at all. Better established authors are doing more and more of their own marketing, as well, these days. So if they aren't getting much, you probably won't get bupkis. In fact, you might have to contact bookstores and ask them to order your book. I met an author who realized this the hard way. Her book was released through a relatively major publisher on a certain date and she was all excited so she walked into a local bookstore on that day to find her book, only to discover the store didn't have it. Nor did they know it existed.

c. Less money off the deal. More people work for bigger publishing companies, and they want a piece of the pie, too. If you have an agent, you get even less.

d. Less personal attention. Face it, big publishing companies are like any big company. It seems that the bigger you get, the harder it is to maintain that one on one devotion to the individual. Plus, they're dealing with a lot of writers, each of whom wants the best for their book.

2. Publishing via a small publisher

The advantages:

a. Easier to get published through one. Simply put, there's less competition, and for the obvious reasons (basically in that they don't have the same advantages as larger companies).

b. More of a personal touch. If you show promise as an author, small publishing companies are going to want your business. They also have fewer authors, so they have the time and energy to devote to you. It's a nice feeling.

c. More say and control in final product. This goes along with the personal touch. Small companies have a lot to learn, especially when starting out, and still believe that the author might have something important to contribute, beyond writing the book.

d. You don't have to have an agent. Well, you don't need an agent with a big publisher, either, but smaller publishers are simply more accessible (especially via their website) so you don't need your agent to take one of their representatives out to lunch. You can contact them yourself!

e. Some small publishing companies really rock - they're just small! I'm learning more and more that smaller companies put more effort into everything they do, at every level. Maybe it's the, "We're small, so we have a lot to prove." I'm small and I feel that way sometimes. But smaller companies also tend to hire people who are passionate about their work. They still believe they can make a difference and are in the business for the love of it. You'll probably find these people in bigger companies, too, but I imagine, like any big business, individuality/creativity can get stifled in exchange for the almighty dollar.

The disadvantages:

a. Less outreach. Not to beat a dead horse, but small companies just don't have the long arms. Not in the beginning anyway. Often, they're just starting out and building contacts. That means your book is going to see fewer stores.

b. Books are more expensive to publish, therefore more expensive to buyers. I've seen some regular-sized, paperback books selling for between $20 and $25. People might pay that for a hardcover, but they're much less likely to do so for a soft cover by an unknown author.

c. Bookstores are typically not interested in taking on your book if it's POD (unless local and you take the books back after a certain amount of time). As I said earlier, they don't want something they can't give back. There are ways around this, however, for some bookstores. You will simply have to do the legwork to find out for sure.

3. Self-Publishing


1. Anyone can do it. That's right. Anyone can publish their own book. You, me, a four-year-old. Even a monkey.

2. There are sites set up to help you do it, like, or Very convenient.

3. You can publish whatever you want, with however many pages you want. You're the boss. If you want to publish your 150,000 + book, you can!

4. All the profit is yours! Nuf said.

5. Good way to make a memento for family and friends. If you aren't interested in numbers, but would like to have your book in print simply to say you did it, this service is invaluable.


1. You pretty much do all your own marketing, even if the site says they help with that. You have to make your book stand out. Of course, you are more than likely going to have to do marketing with the bigger companies, so this could be good practice.

2. It's costly. Self-published books (also POD) cost a lot of money to print. That means, to make any profit, you have to charge the reader a lot of money. Especially nowadays, people just don't want to take that risk, or don't have that kind of money to spend on a book.

3. The end results can be amateurish, at best. Editors exist for a reason. Self-published books are often the work of writers who aren't their own best editors, don't have readers, don't fully understand the writing process, etc. Self-published books are more likely to contain numerous typos and the book covers are often done by amateur artists or the writers themselves. Books really are judged by their covers, so yours has to be great. Often, they're not.

Now, before you go getting all mad at me, not all self-published books are poor quality. Just enough of them to give everyone else who self-publishes a bad rap. So know that you are fighting that battle. You're going to have to worker harder and longer just to sell a few copies.

4. There's a stigma attached to self-published books. Why? Read number 3. People definitely have that stigma and it isn't going anywhere any time soon. Again, be aware of this before deciding on the self-publishing option.

5. The process can be confusing. You're going to have to know your computer and how to do certain things on it, beyond typing words onto a blank screen and pressing save (creating and uploading book covers, for example, can be very challenging). Self-publishing can get rather technical and I found, after researching it a while ago (it may be easier now), that I may not have been able to figure it out on my own.

This short blog might seem like basic knowledge to seasoned authors/writers, but to newcomers, the differences can be confusing, or learned too late. Obviously, each method has its positives and negatives. If you are struggling to get a book deal and are considering self-publishing, consider this first. Have you done everything you can to improve your writing skills? Attend workshops, get readers, join a writer's group, garner more experiences, edit, edit, and do more editing, and be open to constructive criticism/advice. You may simply need to grow in your skills first before writing that great novel. The first few books you write might even be practice runs.

On the other hand, self-publishing can be a wonderful way to go. You don't have to deal with all the politics and rules of larger publishing companies, you're your own boss. Just make sure you know all the facts before going in. It can be an expensive, time-consuming and disheartening process, especially when you look on Amazon and see your book at 2 million (that means 1,999,999 books are selling better than yours). That's rough.

So do your research, decide why you're doing this and whether or not you're willing to put in the work, then go forward from there. There are going to be a lot of ups and downs (even for best selling authors - how many times has J.K. Rowling had to go to court?), so be persistent.

And remember...

"You won't ever fail if you don't try, but you won't succeed, either. Me, personally? I'm okay with failure. I've failed everything I've ever done and I'm okay with that. Heck, I'm more than okay with that! I'm proud of my record. Hey, you know what...I'm number one at failing! I'm a winner at losing! So just forget the rest of what I said about being a failure. Because I'm not one. That will be fifty cents, lady."

-Hilario Rukus, local crank.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What You Put Into It

The saying get out of it what you put into it. Wise words, I'm sure you will agree. And mostly true. Except when it comes to my pets.

Over the years I have learned that while I like animals, pets are not the wonderful 'blood pressure lowering,' 'always giving,' 'lovable' creatures they're made out to be. I call it the pet owner conspiracy.

Case in point: My pets. We have 3 cats, several goldfish, and a dog. They are all a big stressor in my life. I have tried to get the benefits I'm supposed to get out of them, starting with petting the furry creatures (the fish don't seem to like this so I've given up on them). Seems like a win-win situation, doesn't it? I get to relax with the soothing motion and they get, well, petted. Except...every time I pet my cats, my allergies kick up. So I startle them with my sneezes and then I get claw marks all over my body as they briefly freak out. Then I have to get up and blow my nose, which ruins the whole relaxation effect, as well, because now I'm standing up and the cat has fled the scene. And every time I pet our one cat, Beanie (we used to call her Sabrina - but that's just too nice a name - now she's Needy Beanie), it just kicks in her neediness and she gets all clingy and the claws come out so she can cling even better and she goes nuts if you try to stop petting her. When I try to pet our lab, she ends up chewing on my hand.

And what about that joyful greeting when we get home that other pet owners have said is so great? Well, we definitely get that from our spades. But we don't want it. She jumps up on us, scratching our arms or backs with her toenails because we can't fight her off as our hands are full of groceries, then she sniffs our behinds and crotches as much as she can before we push her away (what is that with dogs, btw? other than the obvious...). And then there's the licking of any exposed skin. Gah!

My blood pressure is rising just thinking about it...

So what do I get out of my pets? Well, noise, for one. They meow or bark or gurgle throughout the day. They also leave me lovely messes around the house (except the fish, who I'm kind liking more and more as this blog goes on), from regurgitated matter to clumps of fur to backend deposits (especially the dog, who gets into dead things and gets sick and has to get outside fast in the middle of the night but doesn't wake anybody so it ends up on the floor). I get claw marks on my furniture and doorways and clothes. My kids have holes in their shirts from when Dorrie was a puppy. The carpets are permanently stained.

So maybe I do get out of my pets what I put into them. Because I put food into my pets, so what I get out of them is...

_ _ it. You fill in the blanks.

I want to be an animal lover. I really do. I want to sit with my cats and pet them and they purr peacefully. I want to be able to play frisbee with my dog without the danger of losing a finger when I try to get the frisbee back to throw it again. Yet my fantasies of pet enjoyment just don't ever seem to play out the way I think they're going to (I blame commercials and advertisements, oh, and other pet owners who love everything their pets do - kind of like my mom).

So what does all of this have to do with writing and being an author? Besides the fact that I can relate everything back to those two things... Well, you get out of writing and publishing what you put into it. Blood, sweat and tears. Um, yuck. Why am I doing this again? I guess because I'm an optimist at heart, and a masochist, I suppose. Maybe I like to suffer. Or maybe my pets are sadists and they want me to suffer.

What's that Dorrie? You just ate a dead bird? On purpose? After you dug another hole in the yard and peed on my carpet? And then puked up the bird?

Oh, dear Lord, I think my heart just exploded.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Okay, I'm Cheating...

I was finishing up an edit today and then had to take my son to get his braces off, so my blog consists of linking you to an interview (of me) at my publisher's website.

Variance Interview

So, yes, I'm cheating today. If you have problems with this, take it up with Bop:

Or Beep:

Both are pretty tough, but Beep is particularly bad.

Talk at ya next week, peeps.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Three R's of Editing

For the past several years, I have been trying to live a greener life. Lately, I've been getting so green, I've started recycling my own underwear. On a lighter note, I've also started greening up my editing. My new editor has been working with me on Anaedor and I found that much of what I do in the editing process can be put into three categories, which I like to call the Three R's:

1) Reduce
2) Reuse
3) Recycle

Sounds simple, doesn't it?

Actually, it can be, but you've got to want it. Anyone who has tried to edit their book knows that it can be a difficult and emotionally taxing endeavor. While my editor might make suggestions about what I need to change, it's up to me to figure out how I'm going to implement those suggestions. Thinking in terms of the three words listed above is a good way to clean up your book so that it flows, doesn't waste any word, sentence, space or thought, and keeps your plot on track. It also helps you to avoid a nervous breakdown (after you get done cursing out your editor when he/she doesn't praise you as the genius that you are and tell you to not touch a thing).

So here's what I'm talking about:

Reduce: You'd be amazed at how many unnecessary words and thoughts you use. Print out your book and go through it with this thought: Does this drive the plot forward? Is this repetitive? Can the book survive without this word, sentence, paragraph, character? If you answer yes (be objective now!), then ditch the unnecessaries. Cross them right out. You'll find that eliminating 5,000 + words is actually not all that hard. Actually, I was shocked at how easy it was. Sometimes I fought letting things go, but in the end, when they were gone, I didn't miss them. I'm trying to convince my children to apply the same concept to using toilet paper (you really don't need three feet to do the job), but they aren't yet buying into it. We'll see how it goes when I make them switch to leaves.

Reuse: A lot of what you write is reusable, just as it is. Say hurray! might need to rearrange it, use it in a different way. Yes, that's a funny joke, but not right for this character. I love this phrase, but it doesn't work here. Put it here and it has much more impact. Recycling example: Milk jugs can be used for milk, but they also make great water containers for my plants, or chew toys for my dog after she steals them.

Recycle: Here is where you can use what you have, but it needs an overhaul. This is when you have the right idea, but you're not saying it the way it needs to be said. Melt it down and reform it. Perhaps you have a scene that's necessary for the book; however, it's just not coming out right. Scrap the words and rewrite the scene. Same idea, different look. As it is, this empty pop can has no use. Recycle it and voila! you have a new roof. they turn soda cans into roofs? I don't know, but I think you get the idea.

Like writing, editing is a process with definite rules. I am still learning them, rule by painful rule, and not always very gracefully. So whenever I find methods that help me maintain my sanity in this 'interesting' process, I pass them along. Give the three R's a try. You won't just be contributing to a better world, you'll be making a better book and keeping your health at the same time.

So make this your new motto: Live Green, or Die a painful, horrible death from radiation poisoning and/or an editing aneurism! Or, just live green or die.

Side note ~ Update on agent search: Stagnant. I have my new manuscript out there, but am hearing nothing back (other than the quickie rejections, which leave me feeling very unsatisfied). Remain hopeful. Have yet to resort to cannibalism.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Like many Americans, I was looking forward to Memorial Day weekend. I thought of warm weather, hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, of relaxing and maybe doing a little yard work - if I felt like it. I thought of fragrant flowers blooming, flags waving, kids playing. But most importantly, I thought about those who served our country and died so that we can have the peace and wonderful lives we have today. On this day in particular, I feel so proud of our country and of the brave men and women who sacrificed themselves to make a better world for future generations - for our generation.

Every night our family thinks about and prays for the soldiers fighting in Iraq (my 4-year-old prays, Dear God, Please watch over the whole entire Iraq and make sure the soldiers come home safely and watch over yourself and Jesus...I hope you have a good time together...). But on this special day, our family will pay homage to those 'forgotten' souls buried in the graveyard near our house. At the same time, we will think about our own lost loved ones lying far away in deep soil too far away for us to reach. It is time we pull them nearer with our thoughts.

On this day, strangers to us will become new acquaintances. We don't know much about the people buried in this small, family graveyard, but we can say thank you to them - for clearing this land, for planting those glorious lilacs, for digging up all those Granite State rocks. Thank you for this wonderful place. And we will offer our companionship to them in return. We will give them the gift of the sound of young voices and of exuberant life and of remembering.

And while there will probably be one or two spirits who would wish we'd just go away and leave them to their peace and quiet, I imagine the rest will enjoy experiencing something a little different. Something that reminds them of what was, so they can do their own remembering. So they can be alive if only for a moment.

Memorial Day is for Memories. This year, make your memories good and positive ones so that you can carry them with you throughout the year, a sort of talisman against further war, further death and violence, and as a reminder that there's more to this world than what we can see, that you can be a part of the healing.

In remembering, we acknowledge what we were and where we came from, and in doing so, shall never be lost.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Agent, Where Art Thou?

I am looking for an agent...that elusive species, which, if found, could bring joy and happiness (at the very least, a book deal) to my life. Those of you who have gone through the process, or are in it right now, know that it's a tough road to travel. Not only is it hard to find agents interested in _______ (enter your genre here), it's hard to make yourself stand out amongst all the other people searching for an agent who specializes in _______ (enter your genre here).

The worst part, though?

Well, the rejections, of course. But after that, it's the waiting. I know agents are busy, I know they gets lots and lots of email and snail mail and have to spend time trudging through submissions and on selling the manuscripts they actually do accept to publishers, not to mention that they need to eat and sleep, but I'm telling you, waiting a minimum of 4-6 weeks to hear back can be painful. Mainly because at the end of the wait, chances are, you're going to get a rejection.

Here are some of the rejections you might receive:

"Thank you for your submission. While your work shows promise, we don't feel that it fits our needs right now." Or... "I need to be sufficiently excited about a book to try and sell it and I'm just not feeling that about yours." Or... "Go away." I haven't actually received that last one, but I imagine it's only a matter of time...

On this long and perilous journey, I'm trying to stay positive. I'm trying to make my query letter sing, trying to follow all the different agency rules/regulations/orders down to the last little detail (which is never little to the agent, let me tell you). I suggest you do the same. No sense biting the hand that might someday feed you.

I wonder if agents know the power they have over us writers? Do they feel it? Do they get annoyed with our neediness and seek to punish us by throwing us into the Slush pile? I imagine some revel in their power - I suppose the rest are just plain tired and overworked and wished they only got what they wanted/requested instead of pink personalized stationery laden with hearts and lots of typos in a five-page query letter that talks about how much your hubbykins loves your book, but never says much about the book itself. Hint: Don't do this.

Author wannabes, you're not alone in this long, lonely, difficult process. It can be scary, disheartening, and depressing. But it can also be a great learning and growing experience (I hope). Maybe someday I (and you, too) will finally find that person who believes in us. Maybe someday (soon - life, I'm finding as I age, is incredibly short), I will meet the agent of my dreams. I imagine us sharing lunch - laughing, crying, singing Kumbaya together. It'll be great. Though, really, I'd just settle for help getting my book published and a nice working relationship, and maybe the occasional box of chocolates.

In the meantime, I will keep writing and honing my craft and marketing my other book and crying into my pillow late at night. What else is a person to do, but keep trying?

Wait...Don't answer that.

Just keep trying.

Oh, and listen to Jem's song...It's Amazing

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Mermaid of Muses

It's been a while since I've posted any blogs - sorry to those of you who follow me, who wait for my posting with an almost mad, feverish anticipation. Please forgive me. Once I tell you what happened, I'm sure you will find it in your heart to bestow mercy. You see, my blogging muse drowned in a terrible editing accident. Four different manuscripts to edit was just too much for her. I've only just now been able to revive her, poor thing.

Thank goodness my Mermaid of Muses had got good lungs.

The good news is that I've finished editing all of the manuscripts (for the moment, that is). The better news is that I also sent off one of those manuscripts to an agent and am hoping for an interested bite, chomp, ruthless devouring.

I worked pretty hard writing that query letter (which I've never been very good at doing), edited my manuscript tons of times, had my readers read it (four of them, two at a time with an editing between each pair), read and re-read everything myself, then I sent all of it off to an agent that I felt really good about, really excited about.

My heart was actually pounding when my finger readied itself to press the send button (this was obviously an e-mail inquiry and not a Star-Trek episode), but I took the leap and pushed! I'd done it!

The rest is up to fate, I told myself. My muse concurred.

Then I realized something - I forgot to run a simple spelling and grammar check. Of all the stupid things to forget! And of course, I found a typo in the small bit of manuscript that I sent. Being that books are what agents and their staff do for a living, I have a feeling my mistake is going to stand out like a Minnesotan in New York City.

I am now experiencing what I believe is called post-test anxiety.

"I know I got number 12 wrong!"
"And number 25, too, and that's worth 10 points in itself!"
"I totally blew it!"
"I'm going to fail!"
"I'm going to die!"

Sigh. I thought those overachieving, high anxiety days were over. Guess not. But I am left with the hope that the reader took a sip of her mocha latte during that bit. It's all I've got.

The best thing I can get from this experience? If they reject me, I can blame it on the typo. Woohoo!

Feel free to do the same...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Editing 101: Too Many Words!

Note: I'm reposting the following because 1) I am lazy, and 2) because I thought you might benefit from my many, many mistakes. So really, I'm doing this for you.

As I am currently editing book two of the Anaedor series, I thought I’d try to capture some of the problems I’ve found and pass them along to you to fix. I mean, learn from. Of course, I was nearly at the end of the book when I discovered something I wished I had figured out 400 pages earlier.

I use too many words!

The following are real world examples of changes I have made that I think will make my book flow better. First, I’ll present the original sentence/phrase, then show how I made it better (I hope). The changes are subtle, but important, I think. Obviously, you’ll have to generalize to your work, but I believe it is quite doable.

1a. I have just recently taken in a group of Lost Ones who are in desperate need of a new home.

1b. I have recently taken in a group of Lost Ones in desperate need of a new home.

*See how those 3 words (just, who are) are unnecessary? Plus, I just have to get away from using the word ‘just’ too often.

2a. They’ve been traveling for ages and hiding out for too long. They must settle soon. They need a home.

2b. They’ve been traveling for ages. They must settle soon.

*Could I be any more repetitive? Could I be? Well, yes, I could, but I don’t need to be. I don’t. It’s annoying.

3a. Her beady eyes narrowed doubtfully. “’But I thought Blendars supported Humans.”

3b. Her beady eyes narrowed doubtfully. “’I thought Blendars supported Humans.”

*Excessive use of the but word. Stop immediately. Same idea can be applied to the and word.

4a. “I have more to tell you!” she shouted excitedly, her voice booming. “You and your clan would benefit greatly from hearing my words of wisdom.”

4b. “I have more to tell you! Your clan would benefit greatly from hearing my words of wisdom.”

*I have been working on eliminating extra wording in between bits of dialogue based on a workshop I attended on dialogue by playwright, Tom Dunn. He likes to use only dialogue and nothing else. I’m not that talented, but I can apply his thinking to a lot of what I do.

5a. Ian broke in, making it clear that he didn’t find it to be that way in the least.

5b. Ian broke in, making it clear that he didn’t find it that way in the least.

*This change sounds better in context. I eliminated the phrase ‘to be’ because it made the sentence clunky.

6a. Realizing what was going on, all three Pirahnies gave an ear-piercing roar and lunged at the newcomer who was taking their meal away.

6b. All three Pirahnies gave an ear-piercing roar and lunged at the newcomer taking their meal away.

*I have learned that using the phrase who was or who is, is often not needed. More unnecessary words to clutter your work.

7a. I began to mumble the words to myself.

7b. I mumbled the words to myself.

*began to, started to…don’t overuse these phrases. They take away from the action of the sentence.

8a. the wiles of a Mermaid

8b. A Mermaid’s wiles.

*Use of the possessive, where practical, eliminates extra words and awkward phrasing.

9a. The helmet was covering his eyes

9b. The helmet covered his eyes

*Make your verb as active as you can.

10a. Even worse was that Loria believed the arrogant charlatan

10b. Loria believed the arrogant charlatan

*More unnecessary words.

These are only ten examples from the hundreds that I make in a day of editing. It’s a learning process that can be both frustrating and rewarding. I hope these concrete examples make some sense to you and are applicable to what you’re doing. I will pass along more tips as I continue this process…I’m sure there will be plenty more.

And remember: Writing is like life. Plan on making lots of mistakes.

Like this: a large door was a large door

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Skype Hype

Today I am going to try Skype. I'm a newbie, a first-timer, a frightened adventurer into the unknown. Yesterday, my publisher wanted to show me a few ideas for Anaedor's new book cover. He wanted to use Skype so he could physically show me the pictures. Great, I thought! My husband has Skype...we can use his. There was only one problem.

I couldn't figure it out.

Okay, first I had to figure out how to get to it. My husband's computer is a bit of a landmine to navigate but he managed to guide me through it via iChat (I didn't want to use the Linux Operating System apparently). Next, I needed to set up my own account. The site kept asking me to download Skype. Well, my husband already had it on his computer. I didn't need anymore Skype, thank you very much. Skype didn't care. Finally, I gave up in disgust. Of course, I'm sure the answer to my dilemma was sitting right in front of me, but I was too blind or tired to see it.

Story of my life.

Last night, my helping hubby set up an account for me, in like seven seconds. Plus, he told me I had to turn on the microphone and sound. Hmmm...That makes a lot of sense. So even if I could have used Skype yesterday, I wouldn't have been able to hear anything, or be heard. Nice.

Today, I actually had a conversation on Skype. First I had to tell my four-year-old to stay away while the door's closed. Ha! He wasn't too sure about that. Then I had to find somewhere to put our overgrown puppy. I didn't need a dog licking me or trying to get me to play when I'm trying to look sophisticated and business-like. So I decided that Dorrie could hang out in Grandma's room - she loves it up there because that's where Harold resides (my mom's dog).

Well, as you might have guessed, she decided to leave Grandma's room and find me. There were only a couple minutes before the conversation was about to I let her come into the office...she was nosing at the door and making sad sounds. Once inside, she immediately left, curiosity satisfied. Good, I thought.

Well, my publisher and I finally worked the Skype right and we had a nice conversation about my book...after the fiasco happened, that is. The dog stole a toy from my son and my son chased the dog into the office. The toy she stole? Once of those bouncing noise making balls that sings, "Louie, Louie!" and makes cat calls. She lost it under my desk and then got a hold of the mouse and started playing with that. Needless to say, I had to interrupt the conversation to save my computer. Finally, I removed both child and dog from the office and the conversation continued quite nicely.

So, here's my opinion on Skype:

Bonus: It's free, easy to use (once you're set up), and you can see the other person and they can see you (if you have a web cam). What you need: A web cam (my husband's apple has one built in) and some sort of microphone and sound system (again, he had that all figured out - you're on your own with that).

Negatives: The set-up is hard to figure out (well, it was for me), you have to agree on a time to do the call, there was some feedback on my end (I could hear my voice repeat everything I said, which was distracting), and finally, you can see the other person and they can see you. Actually, I was glad I wasn't able to make Skype work yesterday. Let's just say I wasn't at my visual best.

Anyway, it's free and kind of neat. I would certainly use it again.

Give it a try yourself...Skype's Website

Thursday, February 26, 2009

How Do I Get Motivated to Write?

Let's face it. We are all busy people. All of us. So how does a person make the time, summon up the energy, and find the motivation to follow their dreams?

It isn't easy. I have three young boys and a household to run. When I first started writing, I was in graduate school. Later, I was the brand new mother of a baby, then another one and another one. It wasn't easy making - forging - the time to write. Sometimes (most of time), I had to trick myself into doing it, especially when I first started writing or was very, very tired because my child was up sick all night.

I'm going to focus on the dream of becoming a writer because it's a dream that I'm currently pursuing. Plus, I've learned a few tricks along the way to motivate myself to write, which I can pass along to you.

So, let's say you've come up with an idea of what you want to write, but find yourself sitting, staring at a blank page/screen because you don't know how to start and all that white is intimidating the bejeebers out of you. Or you've gotten started writing and then got stuck. Or, you can't seem to make the time. I've been there many times and have struggled to overcome these obstacles.

Here's what I came up with to get over them:

1) Finding time: There are twenty-four hours in a day. The typical person needs to sleep 6-8 hours (I prefer 9). If you work, take away another 8-10 hours. Then there's eating, cleaning, exercising etc. You get the picture. So how does a person find time to write?

a) Make a schedule. List all your activities for the week. Somewhere there has to be an hour or two that you can sit down and do something just for yourself. Schedule it in.
b) As hard as this sounds, think about sacrificing one of your lesser favorite TV shows and use that time to write.
c) Find a consistent time to do your creating. Most people go to work at specific times. This is the same idea.
d) There's a lot of down time you don't realize you have. For example, waiting for a doctor's appointment. I've used this time to scribble ideas on scraps of paper. Or taking a shower or standing in line at the groceries.
e) If you're really serious about achieving your dream, you will make time for it. If you are not, you will make excuses. Don't be one of those people who says, I will write when I retire. Let's face these economic times you might never retire, or you'll die before you do.

2) Motivation: Create a creative environment. I have surrounded myself with my favorite books, both for leisure and for research, interesting pictures, my ugly doll, and my skulls, all to conjure up an atmosphere that shouts, Imagination! Another world! It doesn't have to be much space - you can hole up in a corner along with your computer, typewriter or notepad, with the perfect lamp and a stack of your favorite books close by and your i-pod in your ears. But it has to be yours. It's like going to work - you go to an office, or cubicle, or building, to do it. This space you create at home is your office. Consistency of environment can help get you focused and keep you on track.

3) Motivation: Look for stories everywhere. Lately, all someone has to do is bring up one slightly unusual story, idea, or image, and my mind takes it and runs, developing a story as quickly as it can. But first I had to work at freeing up my mind to see and hear the ideas. Be open to this world and it will flow into you. Heck, it might even start to shout at you, trying to get your attention. In raising my sons to be open to creative ideas, I've created little monsters. The two attending school have told me an idea has been percolating in their heads all day and they couldn't wait to get home to put it into practice. Children are so much more open; we adults might have to either reawaken the child within or train ourselves to be creative.

4) Motivation: Along with #3, keep notepads everywhere. By your bed, in your bag or purse, by the TV, in the car. As much as you think you're going to remember your ideas, you won't - unless you're one of those weird people who remembers everything. I'm not. As vivid as the idea was, it goes right down the toilet when the kids start to bicker or the phone rings, or a pretty, fluttery thing floats by.

5) Motivation: Talk to trusted people about your idea. Brainstorming is great for writing a book. You may not use other's ideas, but one of their thoughts might kick off an idea of your own. I've used this method many times to achieve clarity, map out a plot, figure out a detail. It's very helpful and actually quite fun. My engineer husband has a surprisingly fantastical imagination and has helped me figure out directions to take many times.

6) Motivation: Reward yourself for good deeds. I purposely eat less at lunch so I can have a snack while I type. I like food. I know I probably shouldn't use it as a reward, but I do. Still, I don't want to turn into a chair potato, so I have to work at not overdoing. Working at home, I have access to food whenever I want, and personally, I could eat all day. So I, and probably most people, really have to be careful using food as a reward.

My other rewards? When I finish something big (a certain number of pages a day, a book, an edit), I let myself read for fun, or watch a good movie, or go out with my family. The funny thing is, writing itself has become a reward. Most of the time, I love writing for the process itself (that doesn't mean I'm giving up my snack).

7) Motivation/Getting unstuck: Listen to the music that fits with the mood you want to evoke. Ethereal music for ghostly books. Rock-n-roll for an action scene. Whatever floats your boat. Music can be very inspiring. I can't, however, listen to music when I edit. It's too distracting. I've found that I can't seem to pay attention while I'm doing air guitar or singing at the top of my lungs. Go figure.

8) Motivation/Getting unstuck: To get in the mood to write, I read or watch movies in the genre I'm writing in. I write fantasy, so I watch The Chronicles of Narnia or Harry Potter. I'm currently writing a dark romance so I watched the new version of Wuthering Heights (which I wasn't all that thrilled by, I must admit, but it set a mood). Other movies/books can also trigger ideas.

9) Getting unstuck or started in the first place:
a) First of all, take off the pressure. Tell yourself that you don't have to do anything you don't want to do. When it comes to this kind of thing, you really don't.
b) Second, give yourself a goal. Today I am going to write one page, or even one sentence. I've talked about this before in other blogs, but taking baby steps may be just what you need to do to get yourself unstuck. Imagining having to do it all at once is too overwhelming.
c) Take a break. Take a shower or a walk. Or let your work sit for a day or two and think about where you want to go with it. Fantasize about it just like you fantasize about telling off your boss or a jerk with road rage. Writers have imaginations, use yours!
d) Write now; edit later. It's that simple. Don't let your perfectionism kill the project before it can ever really take off.

While writing can be a great joy, it can also be hard work. Most people get paid to work. Writers don't until they publish something, which can be a reward a long time in coming. So search out what motivates you, use it temperately, and most of all, don't give up! Following your dream is a process in itself and is meant to be enjoyed.

Now, what are you doing wasting your time reading this blog? Get out there and follow your dreams!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Just Thinkin' About the Weather...

Have you ever listened to the 10,000 Maniacs? They're a great group, or were, when Natalie Merchant was lead singer. Anyway, they have a song titled, "Like the Weather" on their CD In My Tribe. I even included a link so you can listen to a bit of it...Like the Weather. Just be sure to click on the right clip. It's the third song down.

So why am I writing about the weather?

Because it stinks!

Here in Northern New England another snowstorm hit us overnight. First, it snowed a lot, then it rained on top of it. Then, when we had to clear our driveway to get to work and school, it started to snow again. The weather forecast called for an abrupt ending to the snow, anywhere from 6-9 a.m. It didn't cease abruptly and it went on until 9:30! Now, Kristina, you say, what's the big deal? Another half hour? Yes, but I started clearing at 7:00, people! By the time I was done, I had to re-do several sections. Plus, the snowblower didn't want to blow the snow because it was the consistency of mud and when it did manage to blow snow, it blew it onto snow not yet blown, weighing those sections down until it was one large, immovable chunk. So we had to shovel that part. I lost three pounds in the process and gained a hernia.

I know I'm whining and I'm very good at it, but we'd just gone through a week of sunny skies and balmy temps in the 30s. Snow was melting, grass was appearing, our driveway was ice free and safe! No longer. The weather is messing with my head...again.

I guess that's what I get for living in New England.

Hey, I said it first, so save your breath pointing out to me that maybe if I didn't like winter, I should move. I do like winter, just not in January, February, March, and, God forbid, April. So there.

Still, at least this year I have my mom and husband to help out (the hubby usually manages to find a way to break a bone. No such luck for him this year). My mother is in her 60s and while she helps out, it makes me nervous. She is going to hurt herself and then I'll have to be her nurse. That wouldn't be pretty. There is a reason I'm not a nurse. It has to do with the fact that I don't like people.

Then I was shoveling the end of the driveway, along came a little machine with a plow and the young driver plowed the end of our drive for me. Bless him! There are good people in the world! I have seen the light!

Anyway, if you follow my blog, you know that at this time of year, not only am I just thinkin' about the weather, I get a little obsessed by it.

We'll see what happens this year. If you want to see someone make a slow spiraling descent into madness, pray for snow. Otherwise, join me and do the happy dance for spring to come now!

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Message From Above...

I was sitting on the couch reading a good book, around 9:30 at night, when a loud bang startled Dorrie (my dog) and myself. Something had hit the patio door about ten feet away, and hit it hard. In the gentle glow of the lamp, the two of us tiptoed over to see what had happened. Had it been an errant icicle? Doubtful. Icicles usually just drop straight down. A snowball from a strange and mischievous neighbor? I hoped not.

Together we peered through the dark window, and there it was…

A little owl. It was so tiny, about 6 or 7 inches high, and it stared up at me with big, black eyes like marbles and dark feathers (I’ve yet to come across a picture or a type of owl that really fits what I saw). It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I dashed off to find my husband and mother, so they could see it and so they could help me figure out what to do with a potentially injured bird. By the time they showed up, the little owl was gone. I felt both relieved and happy for it and terribly sad, wishing I’d spent another five seconds looking at the little guy, or gal.

It was a mystical experience for me. Though this isn’t the first wild animal I’ve seen (there have been many over the years, but more than usual lately). This fall I saw a huge buck about to run into the road before turning back into the safety of the woods. It was deer season and I said a little prayer that the beautiful creature would survive. I also spotted a pheasant at the same spot twice, on different days. The other day a fox darted across the road in front of the car. This was in the morning, an unusual time to see one. On a different day I had to wait while a flock of wild turkeys hung out in the road.

After this latest influx of animals, I’m starting to feel a bit like Snow White.

Anyway, I thought I’d share my brush with nature with you simply because it was so amazing to me, and because I think such experiences will become rarer and rarer - sadly. When I tell people about the owl, they aren’t nearly as impressed as I was, but if you’d seen the little thing and its wise, yet innocent eyes staring up at you, I believe you would have been equally touched. I just hope little owlie is okay, and remembers next time that there’s a house here.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Flu Prostrates Family: Mom Ready to Pull Out Hair

These are the latest headlines from our household. We have the stomach flu. Over the last several days, I have cleaned up a lot of liquids that have exited the body at brute force (topping speeds of 90 mph), from both of the main orifices, and from three of the four sickies (my husband has managed to make it to the toilet in time, thank the Lord). My oldest child has sometimes gotten the double whammy (both at the same time, poor thing). What a joyride we’ve been on! Today is day seven and I’m the fortunate individual who only got a mild version of it.

I’m just nauseous all the time.

I really just want to curl up and hide under the covers, but I am counting my blessings. One: I could be feeling the same way and still have to care for everybody. Two: Nobody puked at school or on the bus (though one of the kid’s friends did). Three: We’re saving on the grocery bill. Four: We could be living in a car.

Our puppy dog is going stir crazy. She’s always been public enemy number one to our cats, but now she has moved to terrorist status. She stalks them, waits for them to show their furry faces, and then attacks with a ferocious slobberfest. She doesn’t want to destroy them as a true terrorist would, but she does ignite fear in them because they don’t know she means them no harm. Their fur is clogged with spit, they’ve lost tufts of it all over the house, and they’ve had to run faster than they’ve ever had to run in their lives. Big Lou (our male cat) doesn’t like to run. That’s why he’s so big. Our one cat, Beanie, vacillates between thinking this is love (she’s very needy) and deciding those big teeth kind of hurt. Our last cat, Gypsy (a stray who adopted us), is smarter. She just stays out of the way.

To add insult to injury, the day before yesterday I was taking down comforter number twenty-five, which had been drying down in the laundry room (I had to wash it because someone puked on it despite everyone having an assigned bucket), which is also the furnace room, and saw a little red light glowing on the furnace. We had run out of oil. We have a strange set-up and cannot read how much we have in the tank and I don’t know how fast this house burns through oil (cause we only moved here in August) and there are more people using the hot water and it’s been unusually cold, too. So, we ended up spending a lot of money to have the oil company do an emergency delivery and re-start the burner. They were very nice, though, and hit us first on their run. Bless them.


Over these past several days, my boys have grown attached to their puke buckets. Literally, they’re kind of sticky. Ohhh…there goes the nausea again.

Anyway, there is something to be learned from this blog. Here it is: If your child mentions that their best friend puked on the bus, you’re in trouble. If you feel stomach pains or someone complains of them, you’re in trouble. Avoid letting the sickies eat or drink (think ice chips) too much when they start feeling better, or, you’re in trouble.

All right, that’s all from Sick Central. I’m not feeling so well…Where’s my bucket?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Weird Happenings in New Hampshire

The other day I was in Portsmouth doing some shopping at the local health food store before meeting back up with my family at the restaurant where my niece works. It was my mother's birthday and we'd just taken her out for brunch at the quirky Friendly Toast and were then going to stop briefly to see my niece. The others had gone ahead so that I could do my health store shopping sans children. Finishing quickly, I hurried on to meet them. I was walking down the sidewalk, minding my own business, jauntily carrying my paper bag full of healthy products,

When it happened...

"Excuse me!" a voice cried out from behind me. "Excuse me!" Thinking someone was in a rush and needed space on the slippery, snowy sidewalk, I moved over toward the building to get out of their way. Seemingly from out of nowhere, a female face appeared in the tiny space between me and the wall and a five dollar bill was shoved into my hand with the words, "Here! There's more of that where that came from!" Then she was gone. Totally gobsmacked, I stood for a moment staring at the bill in my hand before swinging around to see what the heck had just happened. Lots of people were out that Saturday morning, filling the sidewalks, and it was hard to see where the woman had gone. I thought maybe she had joined a group and was hurrying away, but I couldn't tell for sure. I hadn't gotten a good look at her because she'd come and gone so quickly, but if asked, I'd say she was your average looking (meaning, no unusual tattoos, hair color, or piercings), American woman in her forties.

I was so stunned by her action that I didn't even say thank you. Of course, I was also suspicious. Immediately I opened my purse, not to put the bill away, but to check my wallet. It was still there. So, this hadn't been a trick to distract me, then steal my wallet. I began to walk again, tentatively holding the bill in my hand as though it might contain a bomb. After a minute, I decided to look it over. I examined it thoroughly and found no messages or phone numbers or websites scrawled on it. No blood. No bomb. It looked all right.

But I didn't want it.

Right away I started searching for someone who would. A man waiting for the bus looked a little down and out, but he also looked grumpy. I figured that if I tried to give him money he'd yell at me, "Do I look poor to you?" and I would be forced to reply, "Well, yes, you do, sir. I thought you could use some money." And Bam! that would be the end of me.

I wanted to live so I kept walking, hoping at the very least that I'd find a street musician working the crowd. Strangely, on a cold January morning, there was no such creature. Still dazed, my mind started going through all the possibilities of what this might mean. Was it a strange, grassroots version of Obama's new stimulus plan? A reality television show taping what people do with the money a stranger gives them? If that were the case, I was determined not to look entirely idiotic with my paper bag and a five-dollar bill held out before me between two gloved fingers. I straightened my shoulders and walked faster.

The worst case scenario? Maybe, just maybe, I looked like I needed the money. Maybe that paper bag in my arm resembled a six-pack from the liquor store. Was that why she'd given me money? She thought I looked down and out? The Norwegian in me was horrified, and my husband didn't help matters any. When I met up with my family and told everyone my story, he said that maybe my jacket had made her think I was a homeless person. I was wearing a navy blue peacoat. I thought it made me look distinguished. Apparently, I thought wrong.

Okay, so I'm pretty sure, despite my husband's opinion, that I didn't look homeless or needy. As much as I would like to be politically correct and say there is nothing wrong with looking homeless and needy, I won't be hypocritical The only people who really want to look homeless and needy are the ones who are trying to scam you. I don't think those who are truly homeless and needy want to look that way. Not being either, I certainly didn't. The thing was, the woman ran me down to give me the money. She literally chased after me yelling, "Excuse me!" to get me to stop. What was it about me that prompted such unusual behavior?

My husband said he would have chased after her and demanded to know where the rest of it was since she had, after all, said, "there's more of that where that came from." I wouldn't have done that. What if this had been a ruse to get me to follow her down a dark alley so that she and her gang could kidnap me and sell me on the white slave market? I don't want to be a slave.

I ended up giving the money to my niece and she put it in her tip jar. She didn't want it at first, but I told her she could pay it forward some time. She promptly took it. The youth are so much less suspicious than I am.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure the gesture was meant to be in good spirit - a simple, generous act. Too bad I didn't take it that way, which says something about me, I guess. Too many times I've taken people at face value only to end up being ridiculed by them. This time, I was going to be careful. Of course, this time was probably the one example of someone truly being kind and not using me for a morning's entertainment...Boy, I wish we could hear what that woman's thinking right now! You probably just blew her mind, Beth!

For the moment, the event remains a mystery to me. If anyone has any ideas about what might have happened, please pass the information along. In the meantime, beware the five-dollar biller. You might just get free money out of the deal.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Things You’ll Never Hear Parents Saying to Their Kids

I believe the children are my future. I do. When I'm old, my kids are going to support me. Until then, I have to put up with a lot of their crap.

Over the holiday vacation I compiled a short list of...

Things You'll Never Hear Parents Saying to Their Kids:

1. I sure wish you'd cry more.
2. Please make a bigger mess when you eat.
3. Thanks for wearing that same pair of underwear (or socks, shirt, pants) all week.
4. Can't you be louder? It's too quiet around here!
5. Sure you can have my credit card and buy that $120 Nintendo ds.
6. Go ahead and tease the dog with your face, hand, or dangly bits.
7. I really want to know why you're whining.
8. Of course, I'll clean your room for you.
9. Oh, goody, you're sick again!
10. Thank goodness it's finally summer vacation!
11. I'm happy to wipe up around the toilet where you missed (the next two relate quite a bit to this one).
12. I'm glad you didn't put the toilet seat up when you were draining the lizard because I like sitting in pee.
13. I'm having another boy? Woohoo!
14. Yes, you may mix those chemicals together.
15. Feel free to play with my crystal glasses.
16. You want to build a catapult? Awesome! Let me know how I can help (oh, wait. My husband said this to my middle child).
17. Please, more fart jokes. I just can't get enough (actually, I can't. It's very sad).

Feel free to add some phrases. I will give you credit however you want me to.

Until next week...Be afraid, be very afraid (Wednesday Addams).

Monday, January 12, 2009

More Good News and a Helpful Link for Published Author Wannabes

That's probably one of the longer titles in existence, but I can't help wanting to share the confirmed good news about my book, via the blog link down below. You can also hear some real world advice about marketing that thriller author, Jeremy Robinson, has learned first-hand. It's a reality check for most of us, but better to know upfront than to be surprised and not ready to help your book do well, even if published through a major publisher in bookstores. Jeremy has gone from being self-published to scoring a 3-book deal with Thomas Dunne so he knows what he's talking about.

Anyway, here's the blog (it's actually a vlog - a video blog):

Good News!

Friday, January 9, 2009

You Know You Have a Puppy When…

You'd think puppies wouldn't have anything to do with writing, but oh, they do. We got a puppy in October. She's now about 4 1/2 months old...a chocolate lab named Dorrie. We named her after Dorrie, the little witch, a beloved character in the books that I used to read when I was a kid, and from Anaedora, her first name. Her full title is Anaedora Deogee (DOG). How does she relate to writing? She is very good at keeping me from it. Since getting her, she has definitely made her mark on our family - in more ways than one.

So, to my list: You know you have a puppy when...

1) Your clothes have more holes in them than Swiss cheese.

2) Your white carpeting is now polka-dotted yellow and brown and your hardwood floor is covered with muddy footprints that look surprisingly wolf-like.

3) You find yourself yelling "Get down!" even though you're not breaking into dance, which is what you usually do.

4) You end up chasing her because she got away from you and ran into the road, and there sitting and watching you looking like an idiot as you try to catch your mad puppy, are the local police.

5) Your hands have tiny little scratches all over them and a few dents, as well, because she's teething and decides gnawing your hand helps alleviate the pain.

6) You have to warn your children about yellow snow and how it's not from someone spilling lemonade.

7) Your lawn is littered with potholes.

8) You have to shovel out a play area in the snow or come out with an umbrella in the rain, which she finds icky even though she's supposed to be a water dog, all so she won't pee on the porch.

9) You start referring to yourself as her mommy or daddy.

10) Your tupperware is now a play toy.

11) Taking your dog for a walk on the leash has become the new aerobics.

12) You are able to blame certain odors on her.

13) Your mother keeps feeding her treats even when you've asked her not to.

14) The reaction her little puppy stomach has to those treats is what causes those certain odors.

15) You actually let something lick your face.

16) Your mouse doesn't work because she chewed through the wire.

17) The tiny Christmas figures that populated your sweet, little Christmas village are all headless and the conductor has no arms.

18) You love her despite your vows to send her back to where she came from after she either poops under the piano yet again (because she knows it's raining outside) or gets dog slobber all over your underwear that you were going to change into after your shower, but she somehow managed to find on your medievally high bed.

Okay, I admit that I love my dog, though I'm not sure why. Pets are supposed to help lower your blood pressure, but I must be doing something wrong, because all mine do is raise it. If I'm not chasing after Dorrie and wrestling her to retrieve one of my kid's hats which she plucked off his head while he was sledding, I'm cleaning up hairballs or chasing cats away from sharpening their claws on the bedposts. Plus, I'm allergic to cats.

I'd write more, but I have to go stop my dog from tackling the children.

P.S. If you want to order my book, please be patient as we are currently experiencing a vendor problem that my publisher is feverishly trying to fix. You were going to order one, right? Of course, you were. I have to have some way to pay all my vet bills.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Lovers of the Classics

To anyone out there who loves Masterpiece Theater, classic literature and/or romance...PBS is showing Tess of the d'Urbervilles (starting Sunday, January 4 at 9:00 p.m. ET and continuing on the 11th) and Wuthering Heights (January 18 and 25, @ 9:00 p.m. ET). I'm so excited! I hope they're as good as they look...

Here's the link to the site:

PBS Masterpiece Theater