The 30K in 30 Days Challenge

X-posted from the Mavens blog.

Since I last posted right before leaving for the RWA National Convention, I’ve been swamped by the day job. My company holds a conference for its clients every year in late August or early September (depending on when we can get the hotel), and I’m a major contributor to the effort. This year, I gave four presentations, none of which were remotely close to being developed at the beginning of this month. I had four weeks to get my act together, and believe me, I needed every one of those weeks.

So NOW, I have another deadline looming over me. I’ve promised all three of the Red Door novellas by October 1st. The first novella is (thankfully) already complete, but the second and third are sitting at 5,000 words (of a projected 25K) and roughly 20.5K (or a projected 30K). Soooo, to finish and ship the printed manuscript off to New York in time, I’ve got to write an average of 1,000 words per day for the next thirty days.

That’s more than doable, of course. But since I’ve been “out of the saddle” for a full month now, it seems more than a bit daunting. And so, in an effort to motivate myself, I’m setting down the 30K in 30 Days Challenge. My friend and critique partner, Emma Petersen, even created this graphic you can post on your blog or website if you decide to jump on the bandwagon:

The challenge officially begins today, Sunday, August 31 and ends Monday, September 29, but you can jump in any time with your own start and end dates. If you’d like to engage in periodic check-ins, support, encouragement, commiseration, advice, and the occasional ass-whuppin’ when you need it, simply leave a comment on this post. I’ll be posting again next week to let you know where things stand, and you can let me know how you’re doing, too. In addition, I’ll be keeping a calendar on my personal blog to show my progress. There’s nothing like a little shame and humiliation to keep me on track!

YOUR TURN: Want to join the fun? Leave a comment and I’ll blogroll you!

First Sale News!

I’m tickled pink to be able to announce that my friend, Courtney Milan, has not only expanded her family (by one puppy), but has made her first sale! Because I couldn’t say it better than the Publisher’s Marketplace announcement of the deal, here it is:

Golden Heart Nominee for Breath of Honor Courtney Milan’s PROOF BY SEDUCTION, about a rigidly logical marquis who uses the scientific method to save his heir from the clutches of a fraudulent fortune teller, only to fall for her and discover that the one hypothesis not susceptible to proof is love, to Ann Leslie Tuttle at HQN, in a good deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, by Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency (World).

Huge, huge congratulations to Courtney and kudos to her agent, who sure knows how to pick ’em!

The Cell Phone Industrial Complex

Okay, so this rant is unrelated in any way to writing, save for the fact that the incident that provoked it occurred at the RWA National Conference.1

I must preface this story by explaining that as a member of the Baby Boom generation (albeit the very tag end of it), I am of the general opinion that a cell phone is PRIMARILY a phone and that its purpose in life is to provide a convenient way of contacting other people (and them contacting you) when you are not at home.

This means I have no particular interest in the myriad additional functions that cell phone manufacturers have seen fit to add to phones in the past several years. I do not need a music player on my phone (I have an iPod) nor a camera (I have one) nor access to the Internet (it might be handy, but my eyes are old and the screens are all pretty small!). I will confess that as much as I despise texting, I am finding that a somewhat useful subfunction of the cell phone, simply because it allows me to keep in touch with my IM friends. Even so, texting isn’t something I do a lot, nor do I want to do it more, so having a phone that would make it easier isn’t high on my list of desires.

All of which means I have a very simple, unassuming cell phone that I bought a little over a year ago. It’s got a camera in it, but I never use it, but that’s the only “fancy” extra function it has. Before I left for San Francisco, I put a full charge on the phone from the charger in my car, because I lost the wall charger somewhere between Memphis and San Diego earlier this year. A full charge usually lasts me four days, and I was set to be gone only three, so I figured I’d be fine.

I figured wrong. By Friday evening, the phone was running low on charge. In retrospect, that was perfectly predictable, since I was using it a lot more than I usually do. I turned it off that night when I went to bed to preserve what little charge was left, and hoped for the best.

On Saturday afternoon, I ate lunch at a little streetside cafe on Market Street, just around the corner from the hotel. I was on the phone with Beverley Kendall, regaling her with stories of my conference experience thus far, when the charge gave out. Well, damn. That left me with no way to get in touch with anyone for the rest of the conference, not to mention no way for my family to call me in the event of an emergency.

Then, I looked across the street and saw–like a vision–a Verizon store. ROCK ON! After I finished eating (Kofta with hummus and rice, yum!), I walked across the street and into the store. To my amazement, there was no line (I’ve never been in a Verizon store where I didn’t wait for half an hour, minimum). Surely my stars were in perfect alignment!

I bopped up to one of the available reps and pulled out my phone. “I want to buy a charger for this phone, please.”

The guy gave me this pitying look and said, “We don’t sell a charger for that phone. It’s too old.”

WTF? I bought this phone a YEAR AGO! Okay, maybe fifteen months ago. The point stands. It’s not like I got it at the blinkin’ turn of the century.

But I am a polite sort of person who prefers not to make a scene, so I asked in my most pleasant tone of voice, “Well, can you tell me where I might be able to buy one?”

The dude made another face–this one patronizing–and said, “Oh no, no one sells a charger for that phone any more.”

Long story short, I left without a charger but in possession of a big chip on my shoulder. Because what this guy was REALLY telling me is that the only solution to my problem is to buy a new phone. And I don’t WANT a new phone. This one works perfectly and does exactly what I need/want. Verizon’s (and, if his assertion is to be believed, other retailers’) failure to carry a replacement charger for this phone
is nothing but a ploy to force people to buy a new phone (and, of course, take on a new contract) to resolve the problem. And IMO, that just stinks.

Look, we are a nation of consumers, and we treat pretty much all goods as disposable. I know that. But people, we have to stop. The planet can’t take much more of this. (Hmmm, I feel I am channeling Scotty here: “She can’t take much more of this, Cap’n.”) This persistent attitude in our culture that the solution to any problem with a product is to simply throw it away and replace WILL NOT DO.

There is an irony here, though. Verizon is, first and foremost, in business to make money, and that means it is in its interest to sell stuff. What I wanted was a charger. NOT a new phone. And I am not going to buy a new phone simply because they don’t sell what I wanted. Because I do have a charger in my car and it works perfectly well. No, I can’t use it when I’m away from my car, but if my phone runs out of charge, it’s an inconvenience, not the end of the world. I can LIVE without it (as I did most of my life before the durn things were invented). I didn’t ENJOY it and it was a pain in the ass, but I survived.

So, in reality, the retailer’s refusal to carry the charger for a year old phone COST them a sale. Is it a sale that would have made them as much money as selling me a new phone? No. But they’re not going to get THAT sale anyway, at least not for quite some time.

Retailers need to catch the clue. There is money to be made in supporting their customers’ desire to keep and extend the life of the product they already have. And it’s good for the planet. Win/win.

Too bad the Cell Phone Industrial Complex will never buy it!
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1Had a rocking great time! I met everyone on my “must see” list and a good many others who weren’t. Darcy posted a few choice pics over on the Manuscript Mavens blog if you’d like a peek. I have quite a few insights and thoughts to share post-conference, but I’ll do that over the next month or so rather than dumping it all on you at once.

My Heart (and More’s) in San Francisco

X-posted from the Manuscript Mavens blog.

By the time this post appears (thank you, Draft Blogger, for the ability to manipulate time and space!), I’ll be in San Francisco at this year’s RWA National Conference. Based on my experience at last year’s Dallas event, I’m sure I’m already exhausted, overwhelmed, and giddy with pleasure.

Last year, I have to admit that I spent most of my time a) hanging out friends, b) hovering around the pitch room, and c) in the booksigning area snapping up free, signed books. What I didn’t do was attend a whole lot of workshops, perhaps in part because I couldn’t decide which would be useful to me and which wouldn’t. A few that I went to were very worthwhile, but many wound up not addressing my needs in one way or another and I ducked out before they were over.

This year, I’m still expecting to spend a lot of time on a) and c), though not quite as much on b), since I don’t need to pitch either agents or editors (and believe me, I’m as shocked as anyone by that). I would like to chat with some editors informally about some of my other projects to see if anyone seems really interested in seeing any of them when I’m ready to submit. Hence, I volunteered to help in the pitch room on Friday afternoon.

I’m also hoping to meet my Kensington editor, John Scognamiglio, since I hear he’ll be in attendance, and I know I’ll be having dinner on Saturday night with my wonderful agent, Kevan Lyon, and some of her other clients (can you say networking, baby?). Since I’m bunking at a family friend’s house, I’ve set aside one evening to get away from it all and have a quiet dinner with her.

Beyond that, though, I haven’t made up my mind what to do with myself. I’ve marked a few workshops/sessions that sound interesting/useful to try to attend. I will probably check out the PAN retreat on Thursday afternoon.

I have to be honest, though, and say that if I had my druthers, I’d find a quiet corner somewhere in the hotel to hole up and write. Because three whole days away from the demands of husband, kids, house, and the day job is just too seductive an opportunity to ignore. Especially with a deadline hanging over my head.

YOUR TURN: What would YOU do it you were me? Suck up as many conference goodies and workshops as possible, or find that quiet corner?