Monday, November 19, 2007

I live in hooterville.....

That's right folks........our hooterness is definitely showing as it often does in the fall. Just today I'm buzzing down the block in my little car, and what doth my wandering eyes behold, but three guys in flannel shirts skinning Bambi in the drive way. Only in Texas could they wield long knives in the middle of a decent neighborhood while skinning and chopping up a deer that they have hanging from a tree - in front of the house.

Of course, a couple of years ago when I worked for a financial firm that processes debit cards, my boss drove to work with a dead deer in his truck which dripped blood for several hours before he took it to the processor. Interesting thing was, people would just walk by the truck and say, "Hmmm, guess Dave got 'im a deer this year." And keep right on walking.

As far as other goings on, I got to see Leanna Ellis this weekend as she flew in to talk to the local writers' group. Her new book is called Elvis Takes a Back Seat and comes out in Jan just in time for the King's Bday. It was great to reconnect with old friends again - I don't get to do much of that these days.

On the writing front, I'm finalizing the leadership series for CU Business magazine. It will be a feature to introduce the series and then 10 article on various aspects of leadership. I think it will be a fun and informative series, and if I can piggyback a book deal, all the better. As for the ghostwriting, our group is expanding and growing tremendously. We're now rotating 50 book projects at a time and its amazing to look back at the volume we've produced over the last year. It's also exciting to think where we're headed as we become more involved in the process everyday.

Not bad for a bunch of writers from hooterville, TX.......

Thursday, November 01, 2007

plotting, scheming, and other pursuits...

The busier I get the worse of a blogger I become. Natural I suppose. After returning from the wonderful trip to CA(see last post) I was home almost two whole weeks! Then it was off to West Palm in FL. Work again but still it was nice to get to go somewhere warm as its starting to really cool off at home.

In FL I got to meet several of our clients that TAG has been ghostwriting for. It was great to see some of the covers and media they had received as well! Most of the time, we finish the book and are pretty much out of the process so it was neat to see the end result. We are also going to be very busy as we have even more projects in the pipeline. Good thing we found more writers and editors this last month. While they're twiddling their thumbs right now, the flood is soon to come!

The TAGsters have also been very responsive to the idea of doing their own books and are working on several good ideas. We'll see what comes of the plans. If I've learned anything from the gurus, it is that incremental change is the key to sustained success it's not about making it overnight. We are adding to our expertise incrementally both as contractors and as business owners and it is really building into something worthwhile. Speaking of stuff we've added, see our trailer on You Tube for Picks & Shovels.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

post cruise update.....and then some

So, I've been reminded numerous times by those near and dear (and not so near, but still dear) that I haven't wrapped up the Cruise. We stopped in Tortola, but spent an AMAZING day on the boat cause we were too tired after Antigua to get off!!..Then on to the Bahamas... the scene of the "crime" as most of you are aware....when we got married on Cable Beach, they were building Atlantis - actually it was a giant hole in the ground - so it was exciting to see what they did. I have to admit that in the end, I was disappointed. I thought it would be a great 'Bahamian' experience but it's more like Vegas south with a Carribean theme. Since they have no competition, they have few table games with any kind of player advantage (this means NO poker!!!) so I was stuck playing black jack with a $15/bet minimum...forget the fact that I won a grand, it was still a bit on the 'less than great' side. If I were paying to go to Atlantis, I wouldn't - so there. The end of a cruise is always depressing, and the lightening storm in Orlando that soaked our suitcases was a cherry on the top. You don't really think about all those T shirts you buy that are bright red sitting in the suitcase with your precious whites....till you get home and they have somehow mutated into a pink melange......oh my!!!! What???? Were they mating and gyrating furiously during the storm??!!

So then I was home for 5 days........a short stretch in anyone's book. Then I was off to the ranch in northern CA once again for 9 days. Nothing is as serene as northern CA in fall....except for the deer (its mating season) and the mountain lion alerts (apparently mating deer are yummy to the local big kitty population) and the traffic!!! Who hits bumper to bumper at 85 miles an hour on the way to the airport at 4:30 in the morning!!!!????

It was still an incredible week. The highlights of which were hearing Bob Proctor, Gerry Roberts and Paul Martinelli speak. We've worked for these guys almost 2 years now and this was the first time live! I have to admit they were different than my perceptions which was very good. I also got to hear Mark Victor Hansen talk about their new E-book business and his goal of selling 1 Billion books this year (yes that's with a B). It was incredible that the idea that me and Liz have had for the last few months is exactly on target with his ideas. Not only was he very encouraging, he said our goal of $1 Million by Dec 31 this year was a piss ant goal!!! So we've raised you all know....... and asked for a little help from our friends. We'll be in the US, Australia and India in just a few short weeks and our goal is to make millionaires out of every single TAG member that jumps in with us. Nothing like confirmation from the big guys to encourage you along the way!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Update from the Cruise #4

Antigua!!! I have to say I’ve looked forward to today as we booked a catamaran cruise so we’d know if we want to do one with the kiddies next year. I was a little concerned as I’m not a sun person and generally can’t spend more than ten minutes in the sun without getting toasted – and tropical sun is especially brutal. But we were on a large double decker catamaran with plenty of shade. Even though there were easily 60-70 people on the boat it didn’t seem crowded at all. The one we chose was a 6 ½ hour trip where they circumnavigate the whole island, drop you at a private beach to swim for a couple of hours, feed you lunch and then bring you back to the ship. Once they got the catamaran going, it was wonderful!!! The breeze was fabulous and the views stunning. They pointed out the great beaches, celebrity homes (I took a photo of Oprah’s new house) and other points of interest. It was a very fun ride as we hit the Atlantic side and the waves got bigger. Our cruise director was also on this excursion and it’s always a good thing if you see crew members from the ship as they know the best excursions. After a couple of hours, they pulled up to the private beach, lowered the stairs and we walked right out on the sand. They had snorkeling, or you could just soak in the beautiful water – which is what we did. Except Kevin forgot he had his wallet in his pocket so it got soaked. While we swam, the crew fired up the on board grill and grilled chicken and steamed red snapper for lunch. It was very good and was served on real china – no paper plates and plastic ware! And did I mention that it was an open bar? It was all included. They had beer and fruity drinks, then red and white wine was served with lunch. After lunch we got to swim a while longer as they cleaned up and then we were off again. We got back a bit early so they dropped us off at a second beach for a short swim before heading into the dock. All in all it was well worth the $99 each and definitely a “have to do” with the kids next year I think they will love it! We didn’t do any shopping and got back , went to dinner and hit the hay. John and Joella are doing the catamaran tour in Tortola tomorrow but we decided to have our own “Fun Day at Sea”. We’re too old to go go go everyday and I did get a bit sun burned and need a day to rest up so we’re sleeping in…..

Update from the Cruise #3

Today is the fabulous St. Thomas!!! Kevin bought tickets to the Sky Ride which is a tram that takes you up the Mountain…in the Caribbean that’s anything that approaches 800 ft. There was a little shop and bar at the top of course and we sat up there and enjoyed the beautiful views and the breeze. I also got a great little coral and turquoise necklace at the artists booth. There were three Carnival ships in port lined up and the ship we are taking next year with the kids was behind ours. It is the Triumph and sails out of Miami. After our Sky Ride, we decided to go to the other side of the island to Coral Cove. It is a really neat marine park where you can take pictures of sharks, pet the stingrays without getting wet and play in the tanks with the star fish, anemones and sea cucumber. They also have an undersea aquarium that you can walk down to and see out into the bay as if you were scuba diving which is pretty nifty. Everywhere we went there were iguana all over the place – they are kind of like squirrels at home just not as cute. But they were everywhere. We went back to the outdoor mall at the dock and decided to have lunch at a place called Delly’s bar where the specialty drink is the Bushwacker. It is a coffee, amaretto thing like liquid tiramisu. Anyway its very good and you don’t really realize how much liquor it has in it as you suck down the first one. So of course, I ordered another as our fish and chips arrived. The fish was hand battered mahi mahi and was wonderful. So by the time I finished lunch I was very glad we were within crawling distance of the ship….needless to say we took a short nap when we got back on board. We got up in time to see the ships pull out of port. It’s a very tight fit for three big cruise ships and I wondered how they were going to do it, but they backed it up and swung it around no problem missing the next ship by a mere 50 feet or so. I have to think it must be like trying to parallel park a foot ball field on water but they are very good at it. That night I went to the onboard watch sale and picked up a very sparkly fossil watch for next to nothing. We went to bed early as we have booked an all day catamaran excursion on Antigua tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Update from the Cruise #2

Here is the second installment of news from the cruise….

Day 3- Sunday – Today is our first fun day at sea as we steam toward our first destination of Puerto Rico. I spent most of the day actually working. I plugged my little laptop into the bar and wrote, sipping on the fruity drink of the day and watching the waves roll by. I love that I can now work from literally anywhere in the world and enjoy myself tremendously. Oh, and BTW, after a few hours and several fruity drinks it sparks an incredible creative writing session where numerous new ideas burst forth – I didn’t say good ideas just ideas. Tonight is also the first formal night aboard ship and it was great fun. We stayed up for the midnight comedy show as is our usual habit – cruise ships usually have great comics. He was the guy that has cerebral palsy who won Last Comic Standing. He was very funny. We also attended the Broadway type show that was right before but ended up leaving. I have very little tolerance for so called culture. The seas were slightly choppy but quite fun in my opinion. Neither one of us suffers a bit of motion sickness so it works out well.

Day 4 – Monday – I again worked on my laptop at the bar most of the day. I did venture into the spa to get my teeth whitened. They offer it for $199 on the ship and its $500 at home. It really worked well and took that grey look off the enamel caused by an overindulgence in red wine. We didn’t get into Puerto Rico until 5 pm and we only had about 5 hours there. We didn’t stay that long. There are some wonderful historic sites that I wish we’d toured, but the sun went down so fast I don’t know that we would have seen much. Since we’re scoping all these ports for the cruise with the kids next year we want to know what to do and what not to do so we’re trying some new stuff. One of the things we tried was a local dish called Mofongo. It is basically a bowl of what I thought was potatoes, stuffed with meat and gravy. Turns out the bowl is mashed plantains – which are not sweet and act very much like potatoes. It was good, but not something you’d want to eat every night. Then, instead of a dinner mint, they brink you an after dinner drink called coquito – OMG it’s the best stuff every like cinnamon eggnog on crack!!! It comes in a tiny little glass of less than an ounce and is a wonderful blend of coconut cream, cinnamon, Puerto Rican rum, sugar, cream, and egg yolk – and it tastes as rich as it sounds. WE left Puerto Rico at midnight right about the time we were again in the midnight comedy club. This time we were listening to Happy Cole who was even better that they guy last night. I bought his CD to listen to when I get home.

Update From the Cruise #1

So we’re steaming along through the big blue ocean and here I am updating my blog…isn’t technology great?? So far its been pretty wonderful – as expected. So here’s the update.

Day 1 - Friday– We flew into Ft Lauderdale to spend the night. Probably unnecessary, but I always have that dream where we’re standing on the dock and the boat has left without me – so we always come in early to avoid the stress caused by flight delays and thunderstorms. Anyway we got a cheap room at a hotel which shall remain nameless and went down to the bar shortly after arrival to get our first drink of the trip (okay not first, but first out of an airport). The bar was a very small operation tended by a woman who apparently has a deep love for cats judging by the way she kept letting them into the back room and feeding them in between preparing drinks. We decided that we’d rather no eat there (go figure) and asked the cat woman for a recommendation to someplace “nice”. She said that the Rustic Inn was famous for its ambiance and was right on the water. Have I mentioned that it’s HOT in Florida?? I mean like HOT HOT HOT!!! Anyway we hop a cab to this well known local place where the specialty includes all types of crab….and the ambiance includes mallets that are used to crack said crab and splatter everyone including the diner with bits of seafood. The mallets also double as congratulatory instruments for when a birthday, anniversary, etc is announced - you are to pound them on the table mercilessly in celebration. This is proof that everyone has a different definition of “nice” and the word ambiance is used rather loosely these days.

Day 2 – Saturday - We, and many of our fellow cruise goers, piled onto a bus the next morning and were spirited off to our wonderful ship – the Liberty. Our room is very near where ours was last year with a balcony toward the back of the boat and its weird that many of the same crew on this boat were on the Conquest last year so it’s like old home week at the bar…go figure. The first evening we got to meet our dinner mates for the week who turned out to be a fabulously normal couple from Missouri named John and Joella. They have been a lot of fun.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

5 days til the CRUISE!!

As I made my obligatory flip flop run today for the cruise, it occurred to me that I hadn't updated in a while...actually almost a MONTH! So here's what's up since I last shared with my fans (all two of you). We leave on 9/14 to fly to Florida to hop a boat to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Bahamas.

I can't tell you how bad I need to get away for a while. Our group has produced so many books in the last two months that it boggles the mind - but we did it and so I think we have reached a whole nuther level of production capabilities. We've also had some contact with several people that have offered to help our little endeavor in one way or another which underscores the amazing generosity of people.

The covers are done for our first two fiction releases and our nonfiction release for fall is a short six weeks away. We'll be producing a video trailer for our books thanks to more help from amazing friends who happen to have offspring in the video production biz. I'll be doing some editing on the cruise, but I don't mind...its kind of funny that when you love what you do, you also consider it recreation.

Classes are well underway at AC again and we're teaching a critique class and the ghostwriting class. The novel class didn't make, but quite honestly I was so swamped I wouldn't have been at my best anyway - maybe it will make for spring.

The garden is winding down and somehow I still feel like I missed the whole summer. It's this whole working around the clock thing I guess. I have talked to several outstanding people in the last couple of weeks while doing some research so I'll be sending out more magazine queries before I leave on the cruise and we'll see what happens. Right now I'm looking very forward to fruity drinks and no phone for 8 days!

Friday, August 10, 2007

So here's what happened.....

You all know I quit my job...on a Thursday(July 26) on Friday I got a call from the publisher that we do ghostwriting for. They wanted me to fly to California to interview a person who is a personal friend of the guy who owns the company. And of course I said YES!!! So on Saturday I was on a plane to Sacramento....then drove north west about 70 miles to a place called Clearlake Oaks. Clearlake is a fabulous lake second only to Tahoe for beauty.....anyway..... stayed 2 days at one of their lake houses...then was moved up to a multi million dollar Casa for the next two days. Hills topped with vineyards.....great beef on the hoof in the valley (about 60 miles due north of Napa) like Texas only with no humidity....or wind.....or weather......just gorgeous......and this ranch had such a peace about it.....really fabulous. At first I was a little disoriented since I didn't have Internet access and cell phone reception was being cut off for the first time in I don't remember when. So after the first day I decided to quit stressing and just go with it. I met the most amazing people and learned much about myself and the person I'd like to be. All while interviewing this woman who has gone through amazing and tragic events and yet run a company for 40 years that is on the cutting edge within the personal development industry. Her name is Jayne.

So after I got back, we were slammed with projects. Australians, Europeans, British (no apparently they are not European - who woulda guessed?) and we're trying to get everything finished before the Cruise in Oct. Not the birthday cruise my hubby and I are going on Sept 15, but a cruise on Oct 6 for business that many of our ghostwriting clients will be on. Sucks to be us right??? NOT!

Anyway we're hauling butt toward this cruise. So I got back from my respit in CA on a Wed. Then the most fabulous thing happened.....I got an email on Friday from a marketing person for the 26th Annual National Credit Union Convention. She had read an article of mine about creating Buzzzzz to increase your bottom line in Credit Union Business. AND SHE ASKED ME TO SPEAK AT THEIR NATIONAL CONVENTION!!! In Vegas! What a fabulous opportunity. So of course I'm going!

So I emailed the publisher of the magazine to let them know the good news and he requested a call the next Tues to discuss future issues. So on Tues, while we're talking about the possible ideas, I tell him about Jayne and the work she is doing. He loved it! In fact he will be featuring her on the cover of the January issue and I will be interviewing her for the cover story. I will also be writing a monthly column for them next year on the field of human development/human potential. How fab is that???? And that was just this week. Stay tuned folks cause it's looking like a wild ride to the end of 2007!!! And BTW I will be speaking in Vegas on Feb 19-22 if any of you want to drop by!!!


Friday, July 20, 2007

59 days to my next CRUISE

Gee time flies!! This year on our birthday cruise we'll be off to the Virgin Islands, Antigua, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas. I remember the Bahamas like it was yesterday but its actually been nine years! My husband calls it a "return to the scene of the crime" since we were married there. On the beach. In our swimsuits. Not sure exactly what day - those fruity drinks were free you know.

I'm now working full time at the writing, my stint in corporate America finished for good. It's weird to finally get to do something you've wanted to do for twenty years - and fabulous. Speaking of which, I am swamped with Projects but I am also deferring more to our other writers as they are able to handle more projects. I can't even tell you how great its been to have so much good help from the writers and editors. They take a huge load off of me.

Tomorrow Liz and I will be speaking at the PPW meeting on ghostwriting and answering questions about how The Amarillo Group (TAG) works. From a conceptual standpoint its very different than most other freelance or writing associations and sooooo many people are interested!

My friend, Jodi Thomas is back from her hop across the pond and did a little promoting of our ghostwriting book at a conference in England. There seems to be just as much interest over there as here. I also had lunch today with a Brit who is interested in being our UK connection and I think the arrangement shows promise since we have so many UK clients and their needs are so specific.

On the home front, our garden is nuts this year. We're actually giving away tomatoes and it's only mid July! Everything is producing abundantly and keeping up with it is quite a chore - but worth fresh veggies.

The collegiates will be home the second week in August so that will be fun. They so rarely get to come home anymore. We decided that since all four kids were getting older, we need to take one big family vacation before the are all gone for good. Jen's already a grown up, Ryan graduates college next spring, Kaci graduates high school and Kayla will be 17. The only vacation that makes sense to us at this point of course is a cruise. The kids can run amuck on the boat all day and we can still do our thing. We also decided that we'd invite both sides of the family and if they want to join us, they are welcome to. We're calling it the Virden-Burks family cruise (like a Chevy Chase movie with sharks instead of a dead granny). We're planning a tour of the Caribbean (without Jamaica if we can avoid it) but don't know if we'll go out of Ft. Lauderdale or Tampa at this point.

That's all the news for now, must get back to the writing that actually pays!!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Is it summer?

I hear it is, but haven't really looked out lately to see! Busy as always. Since Austin, I've written three (almost four) books, been chewed out by two clients, loved by two more. Pretty average I'd say. I've been amazed at my ability to ramp up and meet the increasing management demand for TAG even to the point of engaging in administrative overkill (long story). We've taken on two new writers, and are talking to two more next week. Our project load has doubled in the past two weeks and I have to say I'm really proud and encouraged that our existing writers have stepped up production and are handling everything that comes their way.

The last freelance/ghostwriting class is next Wed and as busy as I've been I almost hate to see it end. There are several promising writers who I think you will be seeing in print shortly. I really enjoy the class although more and more people are asking why I do it with all the projects we have. I must admit part of it is just being able to spend a few hours talking to writers who are serious and want to get into the business. I remember when that was me and it has completely changed my life for the better and I hope it does the same for them.

I read a short essay a while back about finding your purpose. That purpose being what you were put on the earth to do. I have to say writing is it. It's something I do into the wee hours, not realizing the time has slipped away. Something I think about constantly and can't wait to get back to. I wish I could describe it better, but it's an acknowledgement that what I've know about myself since I first picked up a pencil in grade school was right. I was born to put words on the page. It is truly who I am whether I am helping someone else complete their book, or working on my own i know that people world wide will read words I've written and hopefully take them to heart.

A recent event reminded me of how short life is and how sad it would be if I didn't spend my time doing what I love. So I've decided to let the weeds grow, ignore the dust bunnies and spend my time immortalizing thoughts and dreams by putting words on a page.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Off to Austin

The Amarillo writer's conference last weekend was really fabulous!! Great time to catch up with old friends and make new ones as always. Our book made its debut and the reception was excellent. We're off tomorrow for the Austin Agent's & Editor's conference and anticipate great things. I actually have some time to make my to do list for next week and so far here's what's on the slate:

1. Gathering more stories from some of my girlfriends about their views on aging for the Aesthetic Cosmetic book.
2. I received some background material from a new client that is involved in funding real estate through non-recourse loans within an IRA - very interesting concept and the book cover was fabulous! Can't want to start writing this one.
3. Finish up editing a book concerning the meaning we associate with money and how that affects us.
4. Get TAG Publishing website up and start email marketing campaign for our book.
5. Get Bosses From Hell website up. This was an idea I had a couple of years ago when I was contemplating the Doctoral degree in Management. The basic idea is to run a contest to let people submit stories of awful bosses and then write a book with those stories as well as advice for dealing with them in the jungles of corporate cubeland. This is one of those ideas that just won't die - so be thinking of the worst things your boss has ever done to you so you can submit! I'm not sure what the prize will be but I'll let you know.
6. Get some sleep!! You'll notice this is last on the list which means, if there's time, I'll get to it.
Happy Writing!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


The book is out in two days!!! So exicted! We also found out this week that our financial book that comes out this fall will have a cover quote from Bob Procter (Mr "Secret" himself) and possibly Jack Canfield of 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' fame. It's really more than I hoped for and a great sign I think.

Projects for TAG are picking up nicely, as they tend to do during the summer. July and August may be wild but we're clearing out a number of old projects and have the room. We've also added some more members to our ranks and several of our member school teachers will have more time during the summer so it works out great.

The Amarillo writer's conference is this weekend and I'm very much looking forward to seeing old friends that come into town for the occasion. Speaking of friends, there are several you need to meet. The first is Leanna Ellis. She has her new website up and a new book out soon called Elvis Takes a Back Seat. It's a wonderful read and a great cover! Visit her at

Candy Havens, who many of you have meet if you've taken one of my classes, also has a new book out this week. Charmed and Deadly is her third for Berkley and there's more on the way! You can visit her at Don't miss her blog! She's one of the most entertaining bloggers I know.

I'm off to class now, tonight's subject will be the business side of writing and the elements of a great query letter.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Class, No Divorce

We had the first meeting of our ghostwriting and freelance class last night at AC and I think it went very well. There are 14 total signed up and all but one showed (or let me know they had to be gone)! They were very receptive to the ideas and I think it will be a great class even though its only six weeks long.

One of the students is a teacher from England, Sally Vaughan, who has been over here on a teacher exchange program. She's a house guest of Jodi Thomas' right now and is incredibly delightful! (gee you can almost hear my English accent!). After class we went back to Jodi's and had a fine time chatting about the oddities and frustrations of the book business - but that and two bottles of wine is still a good time!!

For those of you (my spouse in particular) who are wondering about the mysterious nature of my last post, NO I'M NOT GETTING DIVORCED! It's weird when your husband reads your blog and then says, "Ummm, is there something I need to know?" Really! I think when he read the "has been a thorn in my butt for years" part he just assumed it was him.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Head Spinning

So much to do, so little time - as usual.

We're anticipating the arrival of the first copies of Picks & Shovels. They should be here the morning of June 8th - so excited!! We are also attending the local FiW conference that weekend so that will be the book's debut. The we're off to the agents and editors conference in Austin where we will be doing a preconference workshop on ghostwriting.

We are also starting our summer class at AC tonight which is a beginner's guide to ghostwriting and freelancing. Liz & I are teaching it together and then she will teach it in the fall and I will teach the novel class and the critique class.

We're also plotting the release of our fall books and devising marketing plans for each of them. The test work will be done using Picks & Shovels so we'll see the effectiveness of the different marketing avenues and plan accordingly.

Speaking of marketing, I went to a marketing meeting yesterday that involved a friend who is trying to reach the next level of her career. It was interesting to say the least. As much writing as I have done lately about the ingrained nature of old paradigms, it was very evident there. Some of the participants had already shifted their mindset to the next level and some really hadn't. It was an interesting example of how limiting beliefs can kill great ideas. We'll see what comes of it.

Speaking of limiting, I've made some decisions lately to take control over one area of my life that has been a thorn in my butt for years. There comes a time when you have to decide if you will continue to ignore you own issues or just frickin deal with it. So I'm dealing. Sorry to be mysterious, but I will also be keeping a diary about it and publishing it in 2008 so I can't reveal everything here.

On the slate the rest of the week are three ghostwriting projects that need various tweaks, nothing major, just time consuming. The ghostwriting has been going rather smoothly lately for a change and everyone is working away on their projects. All of the ghostwriters are busy though the editors are a little bored right now. Of course, their time is coming since so many of these projects will reach completion about the same time.

My next big project (are there ever any little ones?) will be getting the TAG Publishing website up and accepting orders. I'm planning to do that this weekend and since I've done so many websites now, it should be relatively painless - here again its just time consuming.

106 days to my next cruise!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Next Cruise (and a bit of a rant)

Flights are all booked to Ft Lauderdale for our next cruise in September. This time, we're off to the Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Anitgua, and the Bahamas. I'm so glad we're making this an annual event! It really gives me something to look forward to.

September 13th will also mark the switch to my working full time for TAG Publishing. Not that I have any plans to discontinue the freelance work I'm doing - in fact I will probably be doing more since I will have more time, but I'm excited to see where it all leads.

On the slate this week is the next draft for the lipo book, finalizing the first draft for the Botox book, and finishing up a first draft on a business book for a client in London. I have to admit it's such a nice switch to go back to writing about business when I've been neck deep in nip, tuck, suck books this spring!

One other item that most of you have probably heard about is the uproar over Simon & Schuster changing the language in authors' contracts to now have indefinite rights to a work as long its in their electronic archives - which basically means forever. This is a perfect example of why small publishers (like ours) are popping up all over the place. As the corporate publishers squeeze more and more from the authors, they are looking for other options. While big name authors still have the power to negotiate a good contract, midlist and especially unknown authors are at their mercy.

The sad thing is that all of this is completely unnecessary. Big publishers operate from a sense of lack, that they must have every option available in order to squeeze out one more dime from a limited market. This is the worst backedup thinking that I have ever seen in a business environment. It's not like we're going to run out of readers! And the thing is, if you produce a good product, people will come to know that product and trust you to give them what they want.

It's time for authors to stop allowing publishers to push them into formula type, book mill books that are not where their heart is. It's time to just say no. No to the "us" versus "them" mentality. No to the disintegration of great fiction just to earn a buck. No to allowing your time and talent to be wasted while your book languishes in the corporate machine.

Personally, I think its time publishers and authors worked together for their mutual benefit. I think its time for honest communication and clarity in financial dealings and if it's broken, for God's sake fix it!!

Just my thoughts today.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Read All About It!!

We've been so busy my head is still spinning!! BUT we are solidifying plans to get our little publishing company off the ground. So Excited!! The offical name will be TAG Publishing, LLC. We've got our fall line up solidified and are tentatively and very selectively looking for manuscripts for next year. We've decided to launch a fiction line and add to the nonfiction line we currently have. Those of you reading this blog are the first to know - so pass it on but only to the very best writers or agents that you know.

The nonfiction line will consist of our writer's reference books (we will continue "The Wealthy Writer" series) as well as self help and financial books. That's not to say we won't entertain other ideas in the area, but they have to be good! (DUH!) Our next book in the non-fiction arena is The Wealth Attraction Factor and will come out in Hardback in October. We will be following that up with our first fiction release, The Christmas Rat - a small hardback gift book that details one family's zany xmas! Our publishing website will be up soon and I will keep you posted as to the new developments.

If you know of someone who may be interested in sending us an idea, please let them know to send queries and the first ten pages to: TAG Publishing, LLC P.O. Box 8975 Amarillo TX 79114.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Things are going swimmingly!

So I can't seem to get back in gear since Vegas - and I have SO MUCH to do!! I accepted another assignment from Kiplinger so I'll add that to the mix. I heard from one book client that I thought had dropped off the face of the earth and the others are all getting stuff to me so I'm swamped, which is good.

I also heard from an old friend yesterday by email and it so weird cause I had just been thinking about her. Its strange to get a blast from the past every so often. It reminds you of who you were then and how far you've come - its surreal. If you had asked me when I was 18 what I'd grow up to be, I hate to think what the answer would have been. I pictured myself something like the woman in American Gothic - and I'm soooooo glad that did not come to pass! OMG! I would have missed so much - and so would my kids.

In our latest bid to take over the universe, we're discussing how to manage the electronic version of the book and when we need to get the "Wealthy Writer Institute" off the ground. So many business opportunities to conquer, so little time.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Vegas is the BOMB!

Back from our most recent tour of Vegas....actually the only thing I toured was the poker tables. I played mostly at Binion's and the Golden Nugget. We went down to Caesar's to eat at Bobby Flay's place, Mesa Grill and it was great! So was the Australian Rock Lobster at Binion's Steak House. Unfortunately we had to return to real life....Bummer.

At least I got a little reading in on the plane. I read Nora Ephron's book, I Hate My Neck, and it was really funny. Quite the commentary for women over 40 - I loved her take on the purse issue. I also started a book called Stumbling On Happiness. Which is basically an explanation of why we think we know what we want, but when we get it it wasn't really what we wanted. It was written by a Harvard Psychology professor who has a surprisingly fabulous sense of humor.

I also discovered a love for mudslide martinis and indulged it on this trip. yummy. On the project front, I have been assigned two more articles for Credit Union Business and am finishing up some projects for Life Success. Liz and I are working on the content for our ghostwriting and freelance class that starts at Amarillo College at the end of May. We're also getting ready for our preconference workshop that we will be doing at the Agents & Editors conference in Austin in June.

I can't believe our book will be out June 1!! So excited. I spent some time today researching more conferences and possible speaking gigs to promote the book. Time is passing very quickly and I've already given notice that I will be quitting my day job in September. In order for that to happen on schedule, I am going back to spending a higher percentage of my time on the marketing and promotion side of things to get as many projects as possible in the works.

We will be having another get together for the members of TAG the third weekend in April. We'll be able to conference in the editors from Louisiana too so that will be neat. And best of all, JEN WILL BE HOME!! She hasn't been home in ages so I can't wait. And now that she is doing some editing for TAG she might as well learn the whole ball of wax.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Book Cover

We got a preview of our book cover this week. Looks neat doesn't it? We are scheduled to do a pre-conference workshop for the Writer's League of Texas at the Agent's and Editors conf in Austin June 15-17. The books are scheduled to be here June 1 so we should have them for the FiW conference as well. So much Excitement!!
Landed two more assignments from CU Business this week and am wrapping up one more ghostwriting project for a client in London. Then I should be good to go to VEGAS!!!
We leave Tuesday for another trip and we're staying downtown again. However I will be visiting the Bellagio for the $1000 tourney on Friday night. We'll also be at Caesar's on Thursday - Kevin got us reservations at Bobby Flay's place. He did them a month in advance and it was still tough to get in!! I need to ghostwrite a book for a celebrity chef!!
Our Ghostwriting/Freelance class for beginners starts in May and we're working on the curriculum. It's a short, six week class but I think it will be pretty good. We're also speaking at the PPW meeting in July so we'll have another chance to present our book.
The ad campaign for starts next week so I'm hoping April will be a very busy month(if it could get any busier). That's another reason for the Vegas trip - a little R & R before all H*** breaks loose!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Once Upon a Dream

So I've been told that I've let my reading public down with my spotty posts. Sorry - been very busy.

In the newest plot to take over the world, we've had interest from 3 writer's groups to either do a workshop, speak at a regular meeting, or give a seminar at their conference on ghostwriting. All good. We met last Sunday with the girl that will be doing our book cover and gave her our overview. I hope she is more clever and talented than we are!

The ghostwriting book has to be at the printer by April 10, which doesn't give us much time for layout after I get back from Vegas. But it shouldn't take me long to get back up to speed on the software, after I lived it for two years solid it should be like riding a bike. (Okay a very big bike down a really steep slope)

The plan for finishing projects prior to Vegas is well under way. Two more books to write and two to edit. If I can write a third, then I'll do that too. Vegas is in 13 days...tick tick tick. The lipo book first draft is done and as usual all I think about is how much I'd love to have some of that!! But I really think the tummy tuck is much more important.

I finished a sort notice assignment for Kiplinger's on time and the book was really good. It's called Your Credit Score (I know, not very original but to the point) and it was really eye opening.

We sent off our proposal for the nonfiction idea to one agent which I pitched on the phone (by the way sports fans, never do this you risk incurring the ire of the great agent gods). However it is time sensitive since Bob Proctor and crew are taking the nation by storm. I figure if we don't hear from her soon we'll start pitching other agents. I still think she's the one, but who knows.

The Amarillo Group has taken on numerous new members who want to have a go at the freelance life. I think several of them are promising and we should be receiving several projects in the next couple of weeks to keep our experienced writers in the money and also try out some of the newbies.

Next up on the schedule is 'The Magic of Wealth' which should prove to be a fun one and then a business book which intrigues and interests me. One of the questions I've gotten the last few days is "What about your fiction?" WHUT???? It's not like I've forgotten, but the truth is that I can't work for free! Can you?? And I really think the recent experiences are leading me down a path that may offer even more opportunities both for fiction and non-fiction so I'm taking it as it comes and not stressing over it. Positive vibes people, positive vibes.

One of the more interesting results of the turmoil, changes and outcomes of the last couple of months is how non-stressed I am. Shouldn't I be like overwhelmed? Panicked? At the very least concerned? No, not really. It's really much easier than people believe to be successful. You don't have to struggle and you don't have to suffer. You just have to go with it. Maybe it's a function of age that you don't fear the beast in the closet anymore. You don't worry in advance and you just deal with the issues as they arise - which is always better than worrying and making the problems bigger than what they are.

I think that's my advice for this blog. Just go with it. Look for the opportunities and take them, see where they lead.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Picks and Shovels

For those of you who haven't heard, there's a new non-fiction book in the works. Liz and I are using our ghostwriting experience to write: Picks and Shovels - Cashing in on the New Gold Rush in Ghostwriting. Which, BTW is turning out to be a gold rush *laughs in a greedy yet contented fashion*. We are anticipating finishing by April 1, don't know the production schedule yet.

The title for the book came from a friend, NYT Bestselling author, Jodi Thomas. We were at lunch talking about the idea for the ghostwriting book and she said that we were like those people in the California Gold Rush who, instead of wasting their time looking for gold, sold the picks and shovels to the miners....they were the ones that made real money. She's right!! Our ghostwriting helps others achieve their dreams of publication. We provide the tools and then they go out into the world to find their fortune. I just love that.

In other news, I got another assignment from Kiplinger, so I will be reading this weekend. I also received a full manuscript back in the mail that I submitted to someone. At first I thought no, I have no clue, then opened it. It was a manuscript I submitted to an agent in June of 2005!!! So....almost a smooth TWO YEARS later she says that she feels my pacing is too slow for the current market....really....she should know about slow. Good thing I have several sources of moola.

The last session of my critique class is tomorrow. So sad. It went so fast this semester!! Of course, when you are busy everything goes fast. I've been searching this evening for some more markets to submit to. I have a few ideas for one particular magazine and I think I may target it for a while and keep a log of how long it takes to break in, and then how long it takes to move up. So far, in my experience, its has taken less than two months to break into a given market(assuming hard work of course) and less than six to move up(again assuming hard work). So I think I will try a little experiment with a couple of the 'biggies' and see if they skew my average.

When I was desperately searching for my spread sheet from two years back to find the wayward submission *not the least bit bitter here,* I also ran across the spread sheet I started last April after the non-compete ended. Some of you who follow my blog (you poor lonely things) will remember the 'One Thing' list. I started it as a way to force myself to do one thing every day to advance my writing career. Wow...I mean wow!!! Who knew that one thing a day could have brought me so far so fast. I stopped keeping track last fall when I was doing so much every day that I couldn't keep up. Now I do those things almost without thinking, they have become such a natural part of my life. It makes me wonder....hmmm....what if I had done TWO things a day....or FIVE???? I'm almost afraid (yet excited) to think how far along I'd be now.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

hi ho ...hi ho...its off to work we go....

Yes, at it turns out the writers have banded together.....we are now called sort of ...officially...."THE AMARILLO GROUP". I realize that this isn't really original, but hey....we is what we is. And currently we are a well banded group of professionals who can perform. And really - isn't that what it's about?? We had a group meeting today and the feel from everyone was really good. We are so much stronger than if we were going at this individually. We will hopefully have a deal with publisher #1 on Monday (all signs seem positive) and will be approaching other publishers soon. The whole idea is to circumvent the cash flow problems that most writers experience by lack of steady work flow. Money makes me happy and apparently I'm not the only one. I will function as project manager for the group and hope to scare up so much additional business that we can't handle it. Part of that business will come from the editing website, . The final changes are being input over the next few days and the print advertising campaign will begin in April.

The latest issue of Credit Union Business came out, with an article on SERPs(Supplemental Executive Retirement Plans) by yours truly, and so I'm trying to think of some ideas to pitch them for spring. Nothing comes to mind right now, but I'm sure that it will by the end of the week.

The newest Executive Summary is due to Kiplinger's Financial by tomorrow (yikes) but since we had some trouble with initial delivery(did I mention that DHL sucks?), I'm hoping they will take that into consideration. However, I've never missed a deadline - never - and don't intend to start. Whatever I have to do, I will do. Though this book has been really interesting, the Author used the word exacerbate every couple of paragraphs for the entire book!!! Where was the editor that day???STARBUCKS???.... This needed a much heavier hand, but I will deal with it as is, as usual. It's still an interesting book on trade triggers and what moves the financial markets which is totally my cup of tea...if I drank tea .....which I don't...

As always, keep your mind in the middle and strive toward your goals. Where does that come from?? Well, of course from the Professional Bull Rider's association. What's better than a bull rider's butt? ummmmm.... not much.... cherry o ...till next time.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Wars and rumors of war....

Isn't interesting how people band together in times of stress? While I can't spill all the details here, I've been really surprised at how some fellow writers have rallied themselves out of a tough spot. It's even further evidence that just when you think the worst has happened, another door opens up - and may be even better. We'll see.

On the slate this week (yes JUST this week) is the final draft for the HR book. Turns out the client loved it so hopefully the hard part is behind me. I'm hoping to get it out by Friday. Also on the list is the book on Vedic Astrology. While I know zip on this subject, I don't have a problem learning. I knew zip about Australian Immigration Law too and recently finished the first draft of that book which I think was pretty good. Haven't heard from the client though, so we'll see. This weekend I have to finish the Executive Summary for Kiplinger. The summary is on a trading triggers book which is really interesting. It's a fabulous thing to get paid to read books you would read anyway. I also need to put the final edits on the editing website and let it go 'live'. I would have already done this, but the last edits Jenny sent me were lost in the computer shuffle (apparently old computers get totally confused when you ask them to save to a .pft file - who knew?) so if you read this Jenny, please resend!!

I got a reject from an editor last week on a book partial that I'd even forgotten I'd sent. It was submitted last March (yes I had to look it up - thank god for spreadsheets). She said she'd read several similar in the past few months but that my opening line was one of the best she'd ever read. Too bad they don't buy just one line. As it would happen, part of tonight's writing class was on opening lines. I usually read a few from great authors, then give the class the assignment of writing a great opening line. They always love that assignment and so do I.

This is my first blog post since setting up my computer last Sunday. I love love love it. The bigger screen is so much easier on my old tired eyes. I really should give it a name. Maybe Lois....nah...sounds like a granny. How about Charlene....yes that's it. Smart with just a hint of sassy.

Yes the tree is still up.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Class is in session

The new round of classes at AC have begun and this time I have a strange, but exciting, mix of students. In the Great American Novel class, I have nine men and two women. Usually its the other way around with more women than men. So it should be very interesting and a whole different look at novel writing from the male perspective. I'm excited. In the critique class I have mostly familiar faces from the last novel writing class. I'm thrilled they are continuing to pursue publication.

I'm a little bummed that the Seminar I was supposed to give to Panhandle Professional Writers was cancelled due to the inbound snow storm. Have I mentioned how much I hate winter lately??

One good item of note is that my new computer came so I will be playing with my new toy all weekend....and maybe taking down the Christmas tree (or maybe not). Technically I have until Valentines Day to remove all vestiges of my favorite holiday(these are my rules so deal with them). At least I'm not still turning on the tree lights every night.

Another shipping incident occurred today only this time with UPS. Supposedly they left my package from Kiplinger on my porch (okay so technically it's a large square of concrete, but whatever) well the package was not there. In fact I'm betting he tossed it onto someone else's 'porch'. Normally it wouldn't annoy me that much except I'm on deadline for the review of this book. Of course Kiplinger has been nice enough to overnight me another copy, but still!! What is wrong with these people?? First DHL leaves poor Jen's Xmas on her 'porch' to get stolen, and now UPS tosses packages willy nilly onto the plains of Texas. My last hope is FED EX...and they better come through!!

On the writing front, I finished the First Draft of the Human Resources book that I was ghostwriting, and now I'm on to a Liposuction book. If nothing else, its always interesting. I'm also still working on my editing website and trying to get it live sometime next week. We'll see how much I get done this weekend!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year's....again

Isn't it funny how time speeds up as you get older? It seems like just a couple of months ago I was anticipating 2006, and what it would bring, and now its over already. I have to say that overall the year was fabulous for me. I took my first cruise (which was so great *sigh*) and did several things on my "Stuff to do before I die" list. I think I finally got over my agent phobia and (with the help of some other writers) brainstormed a couple of ideas that will make onto paper this year.

Professionally, I made some leaps and bounds that I never anticipated, pushing me that much closer to living the life I want (and getting that great piece of beach on Grand Cayman).

As I look to 2007, I really feel that tingley anticipation. Like when you know something great is going to happen but you don't know exactly what form it will take. There are so many possibilities given all that I have going on, that I know this could easily be my best year ever. Even if it goes like the last six months it will be very above average, so its a no-lose situation.

I decided this morning to get out a piece of paper and write down all the great things I expect to happen this year. As I read back over the list (and it wasn't long) I looked at each item and caught myself thinking, OMG...what if it actually does happen? What if it all happens???

Then I thought, wait a minute....what do you mean IF?? I wonder how many times that we keep ourselves from achieving all there is? How many times do you tell yourself that you are wishing on a star, or that it's a dream that is far from reality? Well, I say that's crap! You are in control of you and have the power to achieve anything you set your mind to, me too. And I refuse to settle for the life I 'should' have. There is no reason to sit around and wait on life to happen.

I resolve this year to go out and make my life happen. I resolve to get exactly what I want and do exactly what makes me happy and if that means leaving my Christmas tree up until June, then so be it. What do you resolve to do?