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This month I have two “new” books out. I say “new” because one of them is a reissue. But I’ll bet it’s new to you! This is the first time in digital for FULL BLOOM, and it was published in print in 1990. That’s almost 25 years ago. The other book, FOR THE RIGHT REASONS, is actually new, and it’s Book #9 in the Project Justice series.

You can check them both out on Amazon.com; just click the covers for more information.

Book #9 in the Project Justice romantic suspense series

Book #9 in the Project Justice romantic suspense series

Retro Romance, reissue of a 1990 Silhouette Romance by Karen Leabo

Retro Romance, reissue of a 1990 Silhouette Romance by Karen Leabo

SynopsisI might be one of the only writers in the world who actually enjoys writing a synopsis. For me, it’s a time of ultimate creativity, a chance to challenge myself to come up with the best characters, the most unexpected plot twists, the cliffiest cliffhangers.

I always write the synopsis before the book. I tried writing a book without a synopsis once, and it was an unmitigated disaster. I wasted weeks tearing it up and putting it back together, cutting and adding, so that it made sense. But maybe you are comfortable with seat-of-the-pants writing. That’s okay. Writing a synopsis after that messy first draft allows you to see where your story needs shoring up. Find the holes, the parts that don’t quite connect. Write the synopsis as you wish the book had turned out, then dig into your revision with a plan in mind.

However, if you ever expect to sell books on proposal, as almost all prolific working writers do, it’s a good skill to master, and it’s not beyond your ability. Once you get down the basics, you get better with practice. (If you ever read any of my early attempts, you would see the truth in that.)

In June I am teaching a month-long workshop at the Margie Lawson Writing Academy, one of the premiere venues for online writing instruction. In this class, you will learn a foolproof formula for writing a synopsis that sings.  You will participate in exercises that actually create the building blocks you’ll use to assemble the synopsis, along with one-on-one feedback. (Feedback is shared with the class, so you learn from your own work as well as that of your classmates.) At the end of the month, you will write your synopsis and receive a personal, detailed critique/editing from me. The $50 you’ll spend on tuition is worth that service alone–that is what I would charge a private client just for the critique.

This is the last time I’ll be teaching this class for at least a year, possibly longer, as I am taking a vacation from teaching classes. This is my highest-rated, most in-demand class.

You don’t have to hate synopsis-writing anymore!

 Please go  here to learn more about the class and sign up:

You don’t have to hate synopsis-writing anymore!

 http://www.margielawson.com/lawson-writers-academy-courses/detail/2-writing/81-june-synopsis-queen

Class space is limited, so don’t put it off.

 

End-of-Summer Recap

It’s been more than a month since I’ve blogged, I’m ashamed to say. A lot has been going on in my life!

Writing: I’ve been toiling away on Book #7 of the Project Justice series for Harlequin Superromance. This book features Hudson Vale, a character who played a pivotal role in FOR JUST CAUSE. The book is due Oct. 1 and I am waaaay behind schedule; keep reading to see why. I attended the national Romance Writers of America conference in Anaheim, and I found a new agent! I’ve been without representation for almost three years, and it’s nice to have someone in my corner again.

Vacation: My husband’s family takes a yearly bicycle trip. This year we went to New York state, cycling along the towpath of the Erie Canal. (A couple of years ago we did the C&O Canal (through Maryland and W. Virginia) and this was somewhat similar. We rode for 7 days, from Buffalo to Syracuse. Totally self-supported so we had to carry all of our stuff with us. And–get this–I made all the arrangements this year. I was stressed out the whole trip worrying that I’d messed up reservations. It was quite the logistic nightmare, finding bikes to rent, places to stay, and how to get the bikes back to Buffalo (urg, don’t even ask!). But it was so much fun. We only had one little snafu, when a motel simply wasn’t where it was supposed to be, as shown on both my guidebook map and the GPS. We had to ride about 5 miles farther, which was no big deal except that Max, my husband’s cousin, had a flat tire. But everything else went well. We saw some beautiful countryside, visited several museums and a wildlife refuge, ate some wonderful food. One of the best things about cycling is you get to eat a lot! You’re on the bike for several hours each day and it burns a lot of calories. We also visited Niagara Falls, my first time, and I loved it. Although we walked over the “Rainbow Bridge” to Canada for a visit, and to see a different view of the falls, I liked the American side better. Instead of a bunch of hotels and restaurants, there’s a pretty park with hiking trails, and you can get very close to the falls. We took the tourist boat, Maid of the Mist, to get a close-up view.

Acting: I continue to go out on a lot of auditions. Mostly for student films and very low budget features, a few internet TV shows. I have booked a few jobs. The best one was for a student film where I played a really angry modeling agent. I got to scream at this poor model. The other kind of fun job was for an Epson printer commercial–footage that they put up on their website so prospective customers can take a “tour” of a printer. Unfortunately, though I spent half an hour in make-up, they ended up shooting only my hands. :( And finally, I have a job on Monday as an extra for a real TV show you might have heard of, American Horror Story (it’s on FX). They needed an actress with super-short hair to play a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. Oh, and one other modeling job, next weekend, for a photographer’s portfolio. He does beautiful work so I’m excited.

Home Renovation: I have finally hired a contractor to build us a back porch. We just signed the agreement with the architect ($3,000+ just for that, gulp). Haven’t done much on the house since finishing my office and the front yard. But soon I’m going to tackle painting the living/dining room. On Sunday, the plan is to clear some space out in the garage and move my mosaic materials out there. Right now they take up the whole dining room.

Jury Duty: Spent a week on a truly horrible, disturbing criminal case. I was an alternate juror, so I sat through the entire trial, though I didn’t deliberate. I was relieved the jury found the defendant guilty on all counts.

That’s it. I keep saying this, but I’m going to try to post my blog more often. I used to blog every single day. How did I do that?

You never know what’s going to happen on a movie or TV set.

I was hired as an extra for a web TV series called The Tesla Archive. I was to play an FBI analyst. My wardrobe instructions specified that I wear black pants or skirt, white button shirt and black blazer. I didn’t have the shirt and pants in my closet. (I steer away from white because I always manage to stain white the first time I wear it.) So my first order of business was a trip to Goodwill for the required wardrobe.

I’m now at an eighteen-dollar loss, because this role doesn’t pay. (I am doing lots of stuff–if it sounds like a fun project–where the only compensation is a nice lunch, a copy of the project once it’s done, and credit. At this stage, I badly need to fill out my resume and put together a reel of clips showing my work. That is my immediate goal. The big pay-offs will come later.)

I drive out to La Mirada–it’s only about thirty minutes and light traffic, so that’s cool–and hang out with my fellow FBI analyst extras. The set is all decked out with computers and screens like an FBI “situation room.” I don’t know the specifics of the show, but there’s some kind of crisis going on and all the analysts are working furiously at computer screens or running to and fro. For the first scene, we did lots of “crosses” where we walk across the set in the background while the main action is going on.

The last scene of the day was a complex one involving one long take, with the camera moving along a track, focusing on various people as they talk and move. My job was to sit at a computer terminal, pretend to stare intently, type and jot things down.

During the rehearsal for this scene, the actor who’s playing my boss (I guess he’s head of operations or something) suddenly walks up to me and says, “Wingate. Any activity from local law enforcement?”

I’m thinking, Crap, what do I do? Extras aren’t supposed to talk. But he was speaking right at me and obviously waiting for an answer, so I said, “None, sir.”

The director of the show liked it and left it in. We filmed it about twenty times (because the shot was so complicated, it was hard to get everything right all at the same time). So I said, “None, sir,” every time. I thought about changing it up. “All’s quiet, sir.” “Quiet as a graveyard, sir.” But I figured that would be pushing it. So I said the best “None, sir” I knew how to say.

After we wrapped for the day, they asked me to invent a first name for myself, and I’d be listed in the credits. I decided my character seemed like a Joan. So I’m “Joan Wingate.”

I don’t know when the series will make its debut. I think the aim is to get it released on Hulu. I will keep you apprised.

Meanwhile, I’m also auditioning for two game shows. Tomorrow is my first audition for Pyramid. (Remember the $100,000 Pyramid with Dick Clark? It’s that game, and it airs on the Game Show Network.) The other is a show called Sing If You Can, by the producers of Don’t Forget the Lyrics and a few other shows. The basic idea is that contestants sing while the people from the show distract you and see if they can get you to flub it up. I survived the first audition, and the second is scheduled for later this week. (I can’t sing, in case you’re wondering, at least, not well. I have no training and have never performed in public unless you count some drunk karaoke. But I figure they have to have some bad contestants that people can make fun of.)

On the writing front, still waiting to hear from Harlequin about the next three Project Justice books. I am having second thoughts about the vampire book and whether I should really send it out. Just not sure that’s the right thing for my career. Hmm.

I had four contractors come out and look at my porch. So far only one has gotten back to me with a bid. It’s a frightening project and the one thing (beyond electricity and plumbing) that we wouldn’t even consider attempting ourselves.

Last week I was cast in a movie as a featured extra. No lines, but I was in a couple of scenes with the star. It’s a romantic comedy. The star, I think, is a fairly well known TV actress. Unfortunately, I didn’t recognize her and I was too embarrassed to ask who she was. But she was very nice and she hugged me at the end of the day. (Actually, I think I know who it is. But I don’t want to say, in case I’m wrong.)

Anyway, here I am relaxing in the glamorous Extras Holding area (a pop-up tent in the parking lot):

My role was “Sleeping Woman” or “Wardrobe Woman.” In the main scene I was in, I was sitting on a bench, having fallen asleep. I’m holding a big wad of clothing. The star walks past me talking on the phone, and she stops to give me a Christmas present. Very challenging acting! I had to sleep! LOL. The director actually gave me the instruction to “sleep more.”

I was in two other scenes backstage at the fashion show. In one I had to cruise past pushing a big clothes rack (the biggest challenge was to not run over the model crossing in front of me). In the other scene, they dragged me onto the set to block a camera reflection in the mirror.

These are the shoes I had to wear:

Those of you who know me well know I don’t wear heels like this anymore! Well, it looks pretty uncomfortable but it wasn’t too bad. At least I didn’t embarrass myself and trip and fall on my face.

This was a pretty large-scale production. There were at least 25 people on crew–A director, first and second assistant directors, make-up and wardrobe and prop people, several lighting guys, sound guys, PAs aplenty. The set was at a studio in Glendale. I was there for more than ten hours–all for that one little part.

Extras don’t get paid much, but usually we are fed well. This was not a union shoot, but they were adhering to union rules. We had a very nice catered lunch. This is me going through the buffet:

I really love acting. I’m hoping to get to do more of it. There’s always a lot of down time on the set–I think a career as an actress would complement my writing perfectly, if I can discipline myself enough to actually use the down time to write, instead of staring wide-eyed at everything going on around me.

This week, I really need to buckle down on the writing. I have a project that is ready to send out into the world! The long-suffering vampire novel is finally finished and ready to go.

Latest News!

Haven’t blogged in a while, but I have a couple of things to talk about this week.

First, big book giveaway! I’ve teamed up with six other Harlequin Authors. Together, we’re giving away SEVEN packs of SEVEN autographed books. We’re doing this on Facebook, and it’s super easy to enter for the drawing. Here is the link to the contest page: http://www.facebook.com/kara.lennox/app_455995934413715

Second: Do you need an agent? How do you find the right agent? What can agents do for your career? These questions and more will be addressed in the online workshop “All About Agents,” I’m teaching at Savvy Authors,  Class starts June 11! Here’s the link:http://www.savvyauthors.com/vb/showevent.php?eventid=885

Other writing news: I just turned in a new proposal to my Superromance editor for three more Project Justice books. Fingers crossed!

So what else is going on?

I’ve revived my acting career. I got a little part in an industrial film shot by Sony (an in-house marketing kind of thing) and I had so much fun! My actress friend Marie said if I want to do more, I should sign up at Actors Access. So I did, and I’ve been submitting myself for all kinds of roles. And, OMG, I got one! I get to play “Sleeping Wardrobe Woman” in a low-budget feature film.

On the home front, I had a contractor out to look at our back porch (which basically doesn’t exist) and give us a quote for building a new one. I really, really want a porch. It’s going to be expensive because we have to match the houses’s historic details. But I’m hoping we can do it in phases. I’m supposed to get a quote this week.

In the garden, we’re harvesting raspberries, strawberries and cherry tomatoes almost every day. I’m afraid the other tomato plants are something of a disappointment. I don’t know why, but they aren’t making tomatoes. Last year we had tons! Only the cherry tomato plan seems to be happy. But I did harvest our first yellow squash, and we have loads more coming. Can’t wait to eat it tonight!

And, finally, I dusted off my metal detector and went over the whole front yard, while it’s still mostly soft dirt. I found a Ziploc bag of what I thought, at first, was silver coins. But it tuned out to be some miscellaneous chrome hardware, parts of a chair or something. ::sigh:: I also found 4 pennies. Then I went to the beach, where I found a number of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies, nothing old.

As you can see, I have way too many interests and hobbies. I wish I could clone myself. Lately I’ve been neglecting my Etsy stores. Haven’t done much in the way of art, and I have stacks of vintage items sitting around waiting to be cleaned up, photographed and listed for sale. (Got an antique silver plate water pitcher for $1 the other day!). But only so many hours in a day.

My Weekend Project

Now that my office is done. the yard could no longer be ignored. We were in danger of being ticketed by the city, the front yard weeds were so high. This is what the weeds look like: This is the half of the yard that isn’t done yet.

Yesterday afternoon was spent digging, pulling, hoeing, raking, and making trip after trip to the compost cage. This morning we finished the weeding, then went to Home Depot to buy mulch. You see, this is the third time I have cleared this yard of weeds. Each time, I have intentions of planting, and I do a few plants, but then the tall grass takes over again.

This time, we bought some ground cover that supposedly will fill in in six to eight months. I forget what it’s called now, but it has gorgeous flowers in all different colors. We also put in the path of pavers today, which will help with keeping up with weeding until the ground cover fills in. The other ground cover is a succulent with pink flowers.

I am really surprised we got all this done. I swear, I am going to keep up with it this time. The bark mulch should help prevent some weed growth.

So, here is the “after” photo. (Some of the plants were already in place, like that big philodendron, and the fountain grass, and that mass of ice plant in the front.)

We also bought a cana (I remember my mother growing those) which is in the very back by the fence. You can’t see it very well. And we bought a strawberry plant.

 

In the back yard, the tomatoes are only so-so. We’ve harvested one, but one plant simply isn’t producing any, and the another has one tomato but it doesn’t seem to be growing or blooming anymore. Something ate about half Rob’s grapes when they were pin-head size. Our orange tree is finally making oranges–some are bigger than shooter marbles now. But the tangerine tree fruits are still B-B sized and don’t appear to be growing. It might still be in shock from transplanting.

The squash plants look beautiful and are about to bloom, so I’m hopeful we’ll get squash this year. The broccoli has sprouted; we planted seeds so it’s way behind. I’ve never grown broccoli before.

That is the garden report! For a couple of people who have brown thumbs, I think we’re going pretty well.

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