Saturday, April 28, 2007

2 Fun Links

First, the Friday Feast, a day late…

Appetizer: How fast can you type?
I think around 60 words/minute, but that’s a guess, since I’m self-taught.

Soup: What is your favorite online game?
Uh oh…Gold Miner. I’m addicted!

Salad: On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 as highest), how intelligent do you think you are?
Wow, that depends on how you define intelligence. IQ? Street smarts? Emotional intelligence? I’ll leave it somewhere between 8 and 9.

Main Course: Name three of your best teachers from your school years.Mrs. Atkinson (2nd grade) ~ kindest woman ever. Mr. Allen (10th and 12th grade English) ~ a brilliant writer and teacher, today a playwright and the reason I enjoy drama as much as I do. Dr. McDonald (my Shakespeare prof from college) ~ taught me to write (academically, anyway) and how to truly appreciate the Bard.

Dessert: What are your plans for this upcoming weekend?
Oh, sleep, please. I’m terribly deprived after the last 2 weeks. And I really want to finish my latest WIP, One Night in Memphis. I only have about 3000 more words to go, so I think I can do it!


Second, a fun Numerology reading of my birth name (which is not my pen name, by the way, but I’m not sharing). Thanks to Marianne for the link!

Expression: 58 / 13 / 4 You are the builder of the world. With your organized, efficient approach everything gets done right the first time. You emanate security and would sacrifice your own desires for your family and anyone or anything else that you considered a responsibility. You have a relentless eye for value and quality and you have the patience and determination to work for it.

Soul Urge: 30 / 3 Your urge is to bring hope, joy and beauty to all you meet. You feel the best when you are in beautiful and comfortable surroundings. You have a creative essence and use your inspiration and imagination to make others happy. You enjoy attention and admiration, and you desire recognition for your talents.

Personality: 28 / 10 / 1 Others see you as a unique individual who always does their "own thing". Independent, capable and pioneering, you seem to take control of the situation and make it run effectively. You are very concerned with your image and always seem to dress in a way that gets noticed.'s scary how accurate this really is...

Friday, April 27, 2007

Didn't Expect It

"A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything..."
~Robert Heinlein

Last night, I was out with a group of girlfriends from work -- we went to a local dinner theater to see "Grease." Very fun, good food, good performances, nice camraderie. But during the conversation, one of the women turned to me and asked, "So I hear you're writing a book?"

I said, "Actually, yes, and I'm really excited because I have two that will be published sometime later this year."

"Really?" She turned away and that was that.

I wasn't really sure how to take that response, though I thought since I actually work and socialize with her on a regular basis, she might have a little more to say. Maybe I was expecting too much.

Disinterest? Jealousy? I dunno. But I didn't expect her to turn her back without another word.

Anyone else have similar responses from non-writers in your world? Are people excited for your successes, or mildly courteous while they change the subject? Do they want to know more, or do they dismiss your "hobby"? It's an interesting dynamic.

To wrap up this train of thought, here's a terrific interview with Stephen King after he won the National Book Award in 2003.

I suppose when it comes down to it, the support of those people most important in our lives is all we really need, right?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

So What's With the Weather, Anyway??

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."
~John Ruskin

Congratulations to Rachelle, the winner of an $5 Amazon gift certificate in yesterday's Writers' Wednesday drawing! Rachelle, email me at with the email address you want me to send the G.C. to. And thanks for posting!


We up here in the Northeast USA, after the storms and flooding of 10 days ago, have finally welcomed spring. With temps in the 70s and 80s, and flowers blooming, it got me thinking...

Does weather make a difference in your writing?

No, not the weather outside (though I'm sure that has an effect as well). I mean the weather in your stories.

Do you consciously think about the season in which you'll set your story? Location, of course, can be related to climate, and that will make some difference: a tale in Jamaica has overtones and possibilities that one in the heart of Alaska does not.

But what about seasons? Do you deliberately make a choice about when your story will occur? I've noticed that I tend to set my novels in late spring, which usually means the weather is nice and not much of a factor. But at a recent writers' workshop, I did a brainstorming activity that ended up with my hypothetical H/H falling for each other in the dead of winter. In Montana. Whoa.

Think about your favorite stories, ones you've either read or written. Did weather play any kind of role? Should it? Or is it one of those secondary factors that might/might not make much of a difference?

I'm just curious...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Writers' Wednesday: How To Spice Up Your Writing

"Variety's the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour."
~William Cowper

Welcome to the latest edition of Writers' Wednesday!

Special treat today: a fellow writer, Kenn Kasica, has delivered a great piece on how to add spicy details to your work. Please make sure to leave a comment for'll be entered into a drawing to win a $5 Amazon Gift Certificate if you do!


Think of your latest writing project as a large pot of chili cooking on a stove.

It is your latest novel, your simple poem, your unfinished song. It may be your love letter, short story or article you hope to send to Allie’s fantastic blog. It is in fact, the chili. The tomatoes are the plot. The beef is its characters. The peppers are its location. The onions are the timeline.

So what happens when your writing needs a certain twist? Welcome to spice cabinet 101.

All words boil in the mind like the chili on a hot stove. Like the chili, our writing needs spice. You make a better chili when you dare to add the chili powder, the jalapeƱo, and the Caribbean pepper for those like me who like it a few degrees north of insane.

Our stories have spices as well. They are certain words that heighten a description of a character, a place or just about anything. As important, the spices hook the reader. Like the spices in a cooking pot of chili, it keeps the hungry, hanging around. As you write, keep these words in mind.

A few are states, dates, colors, and vehicles:

States. We can find this spice in the smallest of terms. Louisiana Lightning, New York minute, Texas tea is but a few examples. I think state names grab reader’s attention. I have a part in a story I wrote where a man is driving a car and sipping whiskey. I do not refer it as whiskey. I wrote it as, “Brody kept his eyes on the rear view while his lips took in another hit from his bottle of Mississippi sting sauce.”

Another story I wrote was about horse racing. This gets interesting, naming horses. I am going to call my winning stallion “Rhode Island Blinking.” Blinking as in, waving bye bye.

Dates. Don’t be afraid to go back in time. Don’t fear the future. You have a car in your story, give it mileage. Give it a year. If there is a significant event in your story, give it a date. Say it is a blizzard. Give the blizzard potency, give it the year it wrecked havoc. Write the blizzard as the great blizzard of 48, or 78, or last years date. The reader most likely will note the storm from the start as a mother of a catastrophe.

Colors. The list is endless. Red October, Blue Hawaii, Yellow Beard, Black rain, White line fever. I like to use a color and attach it to another word. I have a story where one of the characters has a car. Could it be a monza? Hell no. He drove around town in a sweet 73 purple Barracuda. The attachment is its nick name. “The purple popsicle”. It is okay to nick name cars. We in fact, control the pen. Colors are not flavors, they are spices.

A few quick examples. A mystery. The sight of bright blue gun smoke rising through the brighter orange sun light. Horror. Blood, black cherry red was dried and baked on the hood of a 71 cotton white Fleetwood rag top from unforgiving Arizona sun. See what I am getting at? Spices.

This leads me to transportation devices. Again, cars. If you have a car in your writing, give it a life of its own. No, not Christine. How good would Bullet be if McQueen raced around in a Studebaker? Then again, if your character is a nerd, throw him in a muffler-less Astro Van. How about trains? The old blues giants had it all down. They wrote daring to mix all the spices.

“We just blue hobos, me and Kansas Jack.” “We been hitchin the Santa Fe since sixty two out to get our red hens back.

My point to all this is, add spices. I write with an edge hot as our chili. I think you write better with a cold cup of jo than nursing a warm chocolate mocha latte with a straw. It is just my understanding.

Chuck Berry, I think, did it best: “A souped up cherry red 53.” You know it is a car but you really don’t care what type of car it is. It is bad ass. You know it.

Characters and places make or break the best writing. Adding spice in the form of states, dates, colors, and vehicles can add the flare. Write with fluff, write for Dixie Cup. Write with spice, and the world will be waiting for you.

Chili is done. Time to eat!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Two For Tuesday

"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."
~Margaret Atwood

Duets today, anyone?

Two sites for you to visit:

My updated Spring Reading Thing post, since I finished The Nanny Diaries last weekend and posted a review there,


My brand-new author page at The Wild Rose Press! (It’s not very lengthy, but I figure they’re saving the space at the bottom for all my covers over the next couple of years…)

Two pictures that tell us spring has finally arrived:

Daffodils struggling toward the sun
(we replaced the pool deck steps last summer, not realizing that the previous owners had planted flowers at the foot of the original ones...)

And painted toes ready for sandal season!

One final reminder:

Remember, tomorrow is Writers’ Wednesday, which means when you leave a comment, you’ll be entered into a drawing for an Amazon gift certificate!

See you then!

Monday, April 23, 2007

The P Word

"Marketing takes a day to learn. Unfortunately it takes a lifetime to master."
~Philip Kotler

Did you guess what the P word is?

Well, for this fledgling writer, it’s the dirty little secret no one in the publishing biz tells you about until someone offers you a contract:


Ah, yes. We aspiring writers slave away at our keyboards, waiting to be discovered as the next brilliant author, the next best-seller, only to find that we should probably be spending some of that precious time building a name for ourselves.

I know that the big New York houses do it all, in terms of promotion, for their authors--and that’s terrific. But for the rest of us, we’re suddenly thrust into this big sea to flail about and find our fins before the waves drag us and our brand new novel straight down to the bottom without it ever seeing the light.

I never realized how much was involved in getting one’s name out there, and it’s daunting, to say the least. I’m supposed to create a “brand,” a slogan that captures the essence of my writing in a witty phrase that can be splashed onto every business card and bookmark I make.

I’m supposed to find time to join chat groups, post on forums, send out newsletters and sponsor contests, all in the name of letting a few more people know who I am.

It’s exhausting.

And honestly, I’m finding that I simply don’t have the time to do half that stuff. I know I need to promote myself, and I’ll do my best. In fact, I even ordered my first shipment of business cards, from Vista Print. (I’ll let you know how I like them.) And there’s a few sites I’ve found that offer helpful advice without becoming overwhelming: Promo-Ho is one of them.

But rather than spend hours posting to a chat group or fishing through responses on a forum, I’ll spend my time updating this blog and working on my latest novel.

Because honestly, what good is all that promotion if you don’t have the time to write a book for the faithful fans you’ve created?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Can It Really Be? Is Spring Finally Here??

"April comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers."
~Edna St. Vincent Millay

Looks like, for the second year in a row, late winter gave way to a roaring pre-summer, with spring getting the shaft from Mother Nature. While some areas around here are still cleaning out from last week’s flooding, most of us are enjoying temperatures up near the 70’s.

Yesterday I actually sat outside on the deck and read until I got too hot and had to go back inside. The flowers are loving it, as are the local critters, though as I walk around the yard, I see how much needs doing in the way of landscaping and planting. This will be our second summer in this house, and last year was, well, experimental. This year I’m ordering “deer resistant” flowers for just about everywhere I want to plant, though I suspect there really is no such thing.

Anyone know of anything that deer really won’t eat? I’ve had success with marigolds, and one friend said they’ll stay away from geraniums. Any other suggestions?

I’ll admit that I don’t have much of a green thumb (that’s my sister) and to be honest, I’d much rather spend my free time reading or writing than digging in the dirt. Still, I’ll give it a go. Maybe if I’m at all successful, I’ll post some pictures later this summer.

My latest WIP is coming along slowly but surely, with the height of the conflict happening in the most recent chapters. I just have to keep reminding myself that amid all the physical conflict, I have to work on the emotional conflict as well. Darn it. Writing’s hard.