#navbar-iframe { display: none !important;} The Naked Page: October 2005

The Naked Page

Author Jamie Sobrato's Diary


Night of the Living Dead

Have you ever tried to resurrect an old manuscript? Maybe you wrote a story--or part of a story--you loved, but at the time you didn't do the idea justice. So years later you decide to give it another go, and I know from experience that it never works out the way you think it will. Resurrections are messy, complicated, and fraught with the possibility of Frankenstein-like results.

My second Harlequin Temptation, Too Wild, is such a resurrected story. It was the fourth (I think) unpublished book I'd ever written, and after writing and selling more than a few others, it was a story I really thought I could do justice. First time around, I didn't yet have the skill to pull it off. Second time, I had to rewrite it from scratch, and it was...painful.

Really painful, like reopening an old war wound to dig out some shrapnel just because I wanted to use the metal in an art project.

I contend that old stories are best left to rest in peace. Maybe you can borrow bits and pieces of it, but it's easier if you just reinvent and create from the place you are now rather than trying to dig up old bones and risk having a night of the living dead happen right there in your writing space.

Happy Halloween!


Book Spotting

I was at a store yesterday and spotted my November release, Any Way You Want Me.

If you're a regular Blaze reader, take note: they've stopped being released mid-month and are now hitting the shelves at the beginning of each month. Well, except some stores put the books out early, which is why my November book is already in some stores. Confusing, right?

In other news, I have a book due mid-December. What was I thinking when I picked that deadline? I'm attempting to do all my holiday shopping now, along with the cards and all the other stuff that I usually put off until the last minute. On the bright side, I usually experience a huge post-partum high after the delivery of a book, so maybe I'll spend the holidays feeling merrier than usual.

The book in question is one I'm excited about, part of a series I'm doing with Colleen Collins and Carrie Alexander. Mine has a sexy British hero and a kick-ass police detective heroine. More details to come.


The Blog Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

I haven't been feeling very witty of late. I keep hearkening back to the good old days--oh, say, about 4 or 5 months ago--when I actually had something interesting to say on this blog. Now it's all just degenerated into me alternately whining about stuff and posting quotes of the day.

So if I can't be witty, I'll try to at least be useful. A noble goal, right?

I was talking to a friend recently about audiences. She asked me who I show my work to when I'm excited about something I've written. First I had to remember if I ever get excited about anything I've written (I'm usually too busy berating myself to muster genuine excitement).

Then I realized, yes, I do sometimes write something that makes even jaded old me proud, but oddly, my first instinct is to hide it, not show anyone, because I don't want them to ruin my excitement with their opinions or lack thereof.

If you're an aspiring writer, one thing you may be finding out or will soon learn is that putting your work out there in the world can be brutal. Publishing is a business filled with rejection, revision, and criticism.

The external joys are fleeting, and sooner or later, it all comes down to you and the writing. When you write something that you love, savor it. Keep it to yourself for a while. Enjoy it the same way you would a delicious but tiny dessert that really isn't big enough to share.

The outside world can wait, because its reactions are unpredictable and rarely very useful when you're in the midst of writing. You have to remember that even if you're a brilliant writer, half the world will hate what you're writing, another 25 percent will be indifferent, and the final 25 percent might love it. Okay, so I just made up those numbers, but the point remains.

Your most important audience should be you, because when you've written something you truly love, you'll have the confidence to stand up for it through all the rejections. You'll believe in it enough to persevere. And the ones who persevere are the ones who sell.


A New Toy

For those of you intently following the story of my dying laptop computer, it seems Lappie is not dead, but can no longer be relied upon for anything but internet use. He crashes inexplicably, makes weird noises, and experiences brain hiccups that make doing actual work on him impossible.

So with a book deadline coming up in two more months, I was determined to find a new laptop. I finished my last book on the husband's desktop computer while Lappie was in a coma. This left me cranky for having to sit in one place all the time (I like to move around a LOT while I write), and it left my husband curled up on the couch in the living room going through computer game withdrawal.

It became generally agreed-upon in the house, once the book was finished, that I should never touch his computer again, and that I must find a new laptop ASAP, so this weekend was my deadline.

And I did it! After shopping for weeks and getting really frustrated that all the laptops in cool colors cost too much money, I finally settled on a sweet little Dell 700M, which I ordered last night. It is pretty small and weighs about 4 lbs (so it fits in my purse), plus it is silver and white, colors I think are way condusive to creativity. And, it's got a beautiful screen--nicest I've seen on any laptop. The keyboard is just big enough to type on, which I elbowed small children out of the way to do at the Dell kiosk at the mall, and I have to say, I'm in love.


Quote of the Day

It is better to say, "This one thing I do" than to say, "These forty things I dabble in."- -- Washington Gladden

(Okay, I know I'm being lazy with the quote of the day thing again. As soon as I locate the brain I misplaced, I'll try to write something intelligent...or at least something thought up by me.)


The Cover Gods

People keep asking me if I have any say in how my book covers look. Have I blogged about this already? I'm too lazy to go look. Anyway, the short answer is: NO.

I would not request that my heroine appear on a book cover sporting both horns and a halo. Nor would I request a few of the other things that have appeared over the years.

The long answer is, yeah, I have a little bit of say-so. I fill out an "art fact sheet" that asks for information about the story and characters and allows me to describe three possible covers I'd like to have. In many cases some variation of my idea has ended up on the cover, maybe not as I'd pictured it, but hey, I couldn't complain. I usually describe hotter scenes than what finally ends up on the book. I think sex sells--so sue me.

I also think some abstraction is a good thing, so I liked the fact that on the cover of What a Girl Wants, their heads were mostly cut off and the picture was a little blurry. That cover was from a scene I described.

Pleasure for Pleasure's cover also was a variation of one of my ideas. In the book, they're in a car parked at the beach, which is what I suggested for the cover. The artist took some liberties in actually putting them on the beach on the cover, but I loved that cover, so I have not a single criticism.

But mostly what we authors do is pray to the cover gods and hope for the best. Considering the number of covers the artists have to produce each month, there're doing the best they can with the difficult task of translating someone else's ideas into a piece of art. And sometimes, what they produce is amazing.


In a Funk

I'm in a weird funk. I have some proposals to write, and I'm partway through, but I just want to stop and goof off, even though there's not an inch of slack in my schedule up until Christmas. And I am DETERMINED not to be writing during the holidays. Been there, done that, won't do it again.

Maybe I just need a big dose of caffeine.


Reviews and Such

Romantic Times gave my November Blaze, Any Way You Want Me, a 4.5 star Top Pick rating, and I don't point this out to brag so much as I do to not-so-subtly induce you to go out and buy the damn book.

Writers don't get a lot of feedback. It's weird, writing a 300-page book by yourself, then sending it off in the mail, and mostly what you hear back is a vast, empty silence. Sure, a few months pass and you get a revision letter from your editor. A few more months pass and you get line edits, then galleys. More months pass and the book finally hits the shelves.

But along the way, we get very little idea of how most people react to our work. Maybe that's a good thing. I don't know. I do know though that on those lucky occasions when I get a nice review, or a complimentary letter from a reader, I finally start to feel like the book was worth all that effort.


Quote of the Day

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather we have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.- -- Aristotle

That's one of my favorite quotes, and it sort of goes along with this rah-rah motivational theme I've half-assed developed here lately. So, go forth and be excellent today.


Download Sexy

Sexy All Over, my most recent Blaze, is now an ebook! I had no idea it was going to be released in this format. Ebooks are a new venture for Harlequin, but it was a nice little surprise to find myself suddenly available for download.


Resistance is Futile

If you're a writer or any other type of artist/creative person and you haven't read The War of Art, you should. I've been thinking a lot about Resistance lately, as discussed in The War of Art. It's that force that we constantly battle to stay creative. And it takes so many forms, it's easy to mistake it for other things. Resistance may take the form of excuses, procrastination, the need to research a project to death, the need to pre-write the project to death, and so on.

Our job every day is to win the battle with Resistance by showing up at the naked page and doing what we can. It may be great work, it may be garbage, but the best you can hope for on any given day is to be present at the page and try your best.


Never Say Never

I hate to turn this blog into a boring chronicle of my computer travails, but here's the thing--Lappie's not dead after all! The husband came home last night with a plan to fix it, based on a tip given to him by the same tech-savvy friend who helped us the first time. So, apparently, the brain damage was reparable. And he's alive! The husband tells me the price of his services is that I praise him in my blog. So, dear husband, here it is: you rock.

This ends again my search for a hip little pink laptop, but that's okay. My practical side wants to get at least another few years of use out of Lappie before sending him off to the highest bidder on Ebay.

In other news, I have been profoundly unproductive today. Unless you count going jogging. I am attempting to 1.) do my part to conserve fuel, and 2.) get rid of the five pounds I gained working on my last book deadline, by walking/jogging the kids to and from school. This is actually fun, but it has the negative side effect of making me feel so good about my accomplishment that I'm not getting much else done.

Or I can blame it on post-deadline brain. A natural side effect of being creative for great lengths of time is that the brain eventually rebels and refuses to do much of anything but process episodes of Survivor and Clean Sweep. My brain needs a break, and I must respect its needs. Except more deadlines loom, so Brain is going to have to get off its globby gray ass and get back to work. ASAP.


I'm Alive!

I'm back from the silent void. I finished my manuscript around 2AM Saturday morning, after sitting in front of the computer for nearly 2 solid days. My ass is now flat and rectangular, like the chair seat it was molded to. But it's so good to be done!

Finishing a book feels very similar to childbirth, only there's no chance for an epidural, no doctor willing to come in and perform a C-section if things don't go as planned, no natural childbirth coach to see you through those final harrowing hours... But also there's no postpartum stuff to endure, so in that way it's a heck of a lot easier.

In other poinless news, my laptop is officially dead. Lappie has irreparable brain damage, I'm sad to say. But here's the cool part--my tech savvy husband was able to enlist the help of an even more tech savvy friend, and between the two of them they helped me rescue all the un-backed-up files from the hard drive. Hooray for people who understand computers!

So I'm back to shopping for a new laptop, preferably one in a cute color. Except the aforementioned husband keeps reminding me that having a laptop in pink or orange or red really isn't worth an extra thousand bucks. Damn it. He's right. So I'll settle for silver or white. Anything but black, because I've had black laptops for the past six years and am just sick of staring at the same color all the time.

The company who finally figures out how to market electronic devices to women--and I mean really market to them, not just offer a few extra colors and call that appealing to both sexes--offering good quality machines that are intuitive to use AND aethetically pleasing, will make zillions.