Sunday, January 31, 2010

Personality Types

Did you know most writers are introverts? It's true. Makes sense when you think about it, too. How else could we sit by ourselves for hundreds of hours working on a keyboard to complete each book? I've always been perfectly content with my own company, something my husband didn't appreciate when we started dating. He may still not understand why I need my space, but at least he respects it more than he did when we first got together :)

When we first started dating I was insanely busy with full time university, a part time job and competitive sports six to seven days a week. I remember coming home once on a rare night off, salivating over the idea of curling up with a new romance novel (because I wasn't writing at the time. I read or painted instead.), and he was at home waiting for me. He kind of hung around staring at me while I was comfortably ensconced in my robe on the couch with my book, until I finally demanded, "Can't you go out with your friends or something?" He was uh...surprised. His previous girlfriend had complained they didn't have enough time together, and here I was telling him to get lost :) But it turned out okay, since we're still together. It just took a while to figure each other out, and now he knows to give me some free time to recharge my batteries. And that includes taking the kids out once and a while so I get quality time with my laptop. I never really thought about it until last year when the issue came up again, but maybe it does seem odd to the outside world. I know all my writer friends totally get where I'm coming from though. It's really hard to explain to someone with an extroverted, socially oriented personality.

If you're interested, try a free sample test. The test is based on 16 personality types, and measures four core areas. For example, mine came up as INFJ, as explained below.

Your Type is INFJ
Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judging
Strength of the preferences %
44 12 25 67
Idealist Portrait of the Counselor (INFJ)
Counselors have an exceptionally strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others, and find great personal fulfillment interacting with people, nurturing their personal development, guiding them to realize their human potential. Although they are happy working at jobs (such as writing) that require solitude and close attention, Counselors do quite well with individuals or groups of people, provided that the personal interactions are not superficial, and that they find some quiet, private time every now and then to recharge their batteries. Counselors are both kind and positive in their handling of others; they are great listeners and seem naturally interested in helping people with their personal problems. Not usually visible leaders, Counselors prefer to work intensely with those close to them, especially on a one-to-one basis, quietly exerting their influence behind the scenes.
Counselors are scarce, little more than one percent of the population, and can be hard to get to know, since they tend not to share their innermost thoughts or their powerful emotional reactions except with their loved ones. They are highly private people, with an unusually rich, complicated inner life. Friends or colleagues who have known them for years may find sides emerging which come as a surprise. Not that Counselors are flighty or scattered; they value their integrity a great deal, but they have mysterious, intricately woven personalities which sometimes puzzle even them.
Counselors tend to work effectively in organizations. They value staff harmony and make every effort to help an organization run smoothly and pleasantly. They understand and use human systems creatively, and are good at consulting and cooperating with others. As employees or employers, Counselors are concerned with people's feelings and are able to act as a barometer of the feelings within the organization.
Blessed with vivid imaginations, Counselors are often seen as the most poetical of all the types, and in fact they use a lot of poetic imagery in their everyday language. Their great talent for language-both written and spoken-is usually directed toward communicating with people in a personalized way. Counselors are highly intuitive and can recognize another's emotions or intentions - good or evil - even before that person is aware of them. Counselors themselves can seldom tell how they came to read others' feelings so keenly. This extreme sensitivity to others could very well be the basis of the Counselor's remarkable ability to experience a whole array of psychic phenomena.

Okay, so is it any wonder that I wound up an RMT and a writer? That's downright spooky, but I guess the good thing is that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. What's your personality type?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Dear Mom...

Mother's Day is only a few months away, and I just received this submission request from a dear (and insanely talented) friend. The rules are simple. She wants letters written to your mother, telling her about your special bond with the woman who gave you life. Maxiumum word count is 350 words, so for us writers, that's nothing! Final entries will be read by an actor during the show, and perhaps later might be included in an anthology. You can see the link here.

I'm planning to send in an entry to my mom, and I hope it will tug on more than a few heartstrings because both of us barely survived my birth, and I was so premature I spent the next three months in an incubator. Neither of my parents could touch me for weeks afterward. The best they could do was to reach through the incubator with latex gloves on and stroke my fragile little limbs with their fingertips. Makes me tear up just to think of it. I can't imagine not being able to hold your baby.

My mom said people would stop and stare at me in the nursery and cover their mouths in horror, or say "Oh, that poor little thing...". Yeah, it was pretty bad. I looked like a skinned rat, and weighed just over three pounds. Nowadays some premies weigh just over a pound and turn out just fine, but 35 years ago being over two months premature was a very dicey situation. Until about two months after my birth my parents both still expected to lose me, but I'm a lot more stubborn than that! And here I am. Take that, world!

Even if you don't enter the contest, please tell your mom how much she means to you. You wouldn't be here without her.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Belly Dance: Not Just For Greek Restaurants

By now if you've been reading my blog you know what a research nut I am. My second release is due out next month, and I thought I'd share some research I did for Cover of Darkness. It features a Navy SEAL, so of course I devoured about a half dozen books on SEAL training and past missions, including Lone Survivor, which is still one of my favorite books. The heroine is Bryn, from Out of Her League. She's half-Lebanese, and moonlights as a belly dance instructor when she's done her day as a social worker. I was already pretty familiar with her from writing the first book, but I knew squat about belly dancing other than what I'd seen at Greek restaurants. So, naturally I signed up for classes. Turns out there are different kinds of belly dance, but I started with cabaret style, the kind most people are familiar with.

I started my classes about a month or so into the drafting phase, and I loved it. Loved. It. My second son was only eight months old, so on top of getting me out of the house for some exercise away from the gym and giving me some adult interaction, it gave me the best ab workout I've ever had. Even better than the core classes at the gym. And there's something intensely powerful about belly dance. Want to feel ultra feminine and erotic? Try belly dance. I'm telling you, there's nothing better to get in touch with your inner diva than shaking it to Shakira (also half-Lebanese, by the way). It's empowering.

I loved dancing so much that I wound up caving in and performing for a while, which my husband loved :). And before you all point out the obvious, yes, I realize I'm in desperate need of a tan in these photos.

After performing for a while, however, I wasn't enjoying it as much anymore. Too much pressure for something I'd taken up as a hobby. Let's face it, I had more than my share of pressure during my years as a competitive softball pitcher facing national and international-level batters. Dancing was meant to be fun, for crying out loud. I didn't want to be stressing over memorizing complicated choreography and worrying about wardrobe malfunctions. So I stopped.

But I missed it. Not the performing, but the dancing. I missed feeling sultry and alluring and strong all at the same time. Missed moving to those heavy, exotic beats and getting a fabulous workout that didn't really feel like a workout. So I started up again last week, and I'm loving it. I adore feeling that burn in my abs and butt again! My hubby's pretty excited, too. I'll be posting more about belly dance as the February 26th release date for COD approaches, but I'm hoping I inspired at least a few of you to give it a try. There are some good DVDs about belly dance instruction if you're too chicken to join a class. Rachel Brice and Jillina are two of my favorites,so you can check them out online. I once took a very intense one day seminar from Jillina, and was sore for a week afterward. It was awesome :). We learned new combos and layered different movements while using veils. Very sultry and mysterious. In a later post I'll talk about a Tribal belly dance seminar I took, and maybe even get the fabulous teacher to do a post. She's amazing!

Today is a gorgeous day in Vancouver, and the sun is sparkling off the water in my little town. After I pick the big guy up from school later, I'm going to take the boys for an ice cream and walk on the pier to see the purple starfish that like to cling to the rocks at the end of it. It's little warmer than usual for mid-January, so warm the cherry blossoms are coming out two months early. That's going to look a little odd to the world when they see coverage of the Winter Olympics in a few weeks' time. But hey, I'm loving it, since January is usually so gray and rainy. And to burn off the ice cream, I'll do some shimmying and locks later on. Now get out there and dance! If you've never tried belly dance, do. You won't be sorry :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Another release from Savannah Stuart

I don't know how she does it, but Savannah Stuart (the alter ego of the fabulous Katie Reus) has another book coming out today. It's called Miami Heat, and it's from Loose ID publishing. You can check out the blurb and purchasing info here.

In other news, I'm cruising along on the first draft of Crash and Burn. So far Jake and my gorgeous PJ are working out rather nicely. I hope the scene outline I made will help me streamline the process and smooth out any snags along the way. Tomorrow I'll be blogging over at Writers Gone Wild, because the ladies there have kindly invited me along until they get sick of me ;)
Here's my pin-up picture.
I thought she was kind of cute, and I've always wished I was a redhead. See ya over there tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Year, new attitude

Meet Jake. He's my new secret weapon in the fight against writer's block and the dastardly first draft. Along with my new muse (I never name them, because that would just be creepy), this next book should be a breeze to knock out. My old muse was great, but as a SEAL he was getting really restless and bored, so I've sent him back to the Teams where he's happiest. Besides, my new muse is very...inspiring ;) *Fans self*

He's a PJ, because I have a huge fan-girl crush on all PJs, and he's real easy on the eyes. He's kind of quiet, but steady, and hangs around to offer suggestions when I need them. When I get tired from slashing Jake through the vines and tangles of the first draft, my PJ takes over and blazes the trail for me. Sigh. Is that romantic or what? And it doesn't hurt that he has really nice arms, too.

This next book is tentatively titled Crash and Burn, and is the second in my Bagram Special Ops series. I'm thinking it should be the AFSOC series instead, since all the heroes are Air Force Special Operations, but we'll see. This book features Ryan, a CCT (combat controller, which I will highlight in later posts), and Candace, a Spectre gunship pilot. I've got plenty of conflict to work with, and there's no shortage of sparks between these two. He annoys the ever living hell out of her, and loves every second of it.

My writing resolution for this year was not to start drafting until I had an entire scene outline laid out for a book. Otherwise I'll grind to a halt and wind up languishing around the halfway point. Not this time, and hopefully never again. I've already got my working outline done, and all I have to do now is flesh out the scenes a bit more before I start the draft. I guess I did cheat a little, because I've already written one of the closing scenes in tribute to my late grandmother. Believe me, she was such a character in life that I had to include her in one of my books, and Ryan is in for the surprise of his life when he meets her.

My PJ is sharpening Jake for me now, so after I flesh out my outline, we're off into the jungle together. I'll be in very good hands ;) Looking forward to it!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Relentless Release Date

Just got word from my editor that Relentless (book 4 of my series) will be released on July 9th of this year. That's less than two months after No Turning Back comes out! At this rate, I'm willing to bet the fifth and final book, Absolution, will be out in the fall. Wow, I'd better start cranking out the next few books, or 2011 might be a little lean:)

You can see Vancouver's gorgeous and distinctive skyline in the background of this cover. The book is set downtown, actually at the building with the white sails in the foreground (Canada Place). Of course it's also partially set in my lovely town of White Rock, which is in the southern suburbs of the city. What can I say? I love where I live. Better brace yourselves though, because this and the next book are pretty, *clears throat*

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Lesson In Perspective

This weekend I got a hard lesson in perspective, and it was sorely needed. My mother-in-law was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, and over the past week things have deteriorated at a faster rate than we had expected. My husband's whole family and all the grandkids went to the hospital to visit her yesterday. Under the circumstances she's doing pretty well, but her pain level is starting to increase. And I guess you've got to understand my hubby's family. They all have an extremely strong faith in God, but they're a little odd sometimes. As an example, my hubby is the first born and considers it his job to be the prankster of the family. He wanted to get his mom a card that said Have a nice trip. He couldn't find one (thank God), so he went in and said it to her instead, and added she should pack a bathing suit since it's hot where she's going :) They all laughed hysterically while my sister-in-law and I shook our heads. Gallows humor, I guess.

Anyway, this weekend I also started sending out queries to agents for my newest manuscript, so now I'm kind of on pins and needles and bracing for the rejections that are part of the querying process. Last night my MIL asked about my latest book, and I told her all about it and that I was shopping for an agent. When we left her sitting in her robe in her hospital bed, I had a huge knot in my throat because I know it's only going to get worse for her from here out. I don't want her to suffer, and I don't want her family to have to watch it happen. I've lost loved ones to cancer and it's always a wrenching experience.

Last night's visit was a pointed reminder to me about what's really important in life. First, our health, which we take for granted as much as we do our freedom and sometimes our loved ones. I'm extremely lucky to have my health, two healthy boys, and a husband that loves me. Those are the important things. When you look at it like that, everything else kind of fades away into the background. Having my books published by a NY house would be nice, but it's not that important in the grand scheme of things. I need to remember that, and I need to be consciously grateful every day for all that I do have.

So for all of you out there struggling to attain your writing dreams, don't give up, but make sure you put the rejections into perspective.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Done. Mostly.

Well, I'm done the first round of edits for Turbulence and it feels great. I'm going to put it aside for a day or two before looking at it again--or so I tell myself. I've been busy with Board meetings and sick children in the past couple of days, but I'm going to start plotting the second book of the series soon.

As an added treat, I received my certificate and silver pendant for my Laurel Wreath win back in November with Out of Her League. It's hanging from my neck right now, and I think I'll keep it on for a long while. Every time I get discouraged about writing or start to doubt myself, I'm going to look down at it for a boost.

Hope everyone had a great New Year's!