Monday, June 29, 2009

My grandkitty read Second Time Around!

My daughter suspects that Webster stayed up, all night, reading. Here's why:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Manic Readers Site

I was just referred to as a site to post an author page and request a book review.

They accept PDF uploads of your book and, although they don't promise a review, seem to have reviewed a great number of books - some of which were penned by very well-known authors.

Why not give it a shot?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Janet Evanovich's 15th Plum novel was released today. I, of course, picked it up at the bookstore 'cuz it's been on order for months. I also finished reading it in one sitting. Funny, it took her a year to write it and I read it in a few hours.


If Evan Hunter/Ed McBain were still alive, I'd have done the same thing with the pre-ordering and picking up on the day his latest book was released.

When I think VOICE, these two people immediately come to mind. They have totally different voices and they write about totally different things. They don't need to have their names affixed to a piece of work for me to recognize them, however. Their perspectives of the world are unique, as are those of their characters.

A lot of blogs have been discussing the topic Plot or Character lately and for me, it's always been VOICE. The plot could be the most intriguing thing to hit fiction in the past hundred years and if the author's voice doesn't grab me, I'm not interested. The character can sound appealing on the cover blurb, but if it isn't imbued with a distinctive voice, I don't really care about him or her.

Now that I think about it, Rex Stout's voice was especially strong in the Nero Wolfe series.

Voice is something editors and agents tell us we have to have, it's something we writers write about, but it's elusive. There aren't any How-Tos when it comes to Voice, as there are with POV, Plotting, Setting the Scene, etc. At least not that I've seen.

Do you have any tips or suggestions about VOICE?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Really Good Advice

I just re-read Lawrence Block's Telling Lies for Fun and Profit - a how-to book for writers. Of all the writer's how-to books I've read, this is my favorite.

Why, you ask? I'll tell you why. His advice is good. It works. Here's a brief summary:
  • Don't over explain. Trust the reader.
  • Don't over-describe. Let the reader use his/her imagination.
  • "Don't begin at the beginning."
  • Verbs are usually the culprit in sentences that don't work.
  • Characters must be: plausible, sympathetic, and original
  • "Hang out." As in, go places. See new things, eavesdrop on conversations, collect grist for your [writing] mill.
  • "Spring forward, fall back."

And the absolute best explanation about how to plot: Put a bear in a canoe...

If you don't have the book, go out and buy it. Now!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why I Hate TV

I hate TV.

Not the machine itself, but the idiotic stuff it airs.

I separated from my ex-husband in mid-September 1991. I got the the 3 kids, the business, and some furniture. He got the house and the TV. I hated TV back then and figured it was worth it to give him the house to get rid of the TV. (I did want the kids.) I hate TV so much, in fact, it took my [then] 10, 11, and 13 year-olds eight weeks after the separation to convince me to buy them another one. They couldn't convince me to buy a remote control though; it's an evil thing and promotes couch-potatoism.

This morning, I heard two DJs talking on the radio about how they like most of the the reality TV shows on TV. They did discuss two reality shows they hate. Tell me, how are "reality" TV shows realistic?

What's life-like about dropping a bunch of people off on an island and putting them through a tests like eating bugs, swimming in water with octopuses (or is it octupi?), and stuff like that?

What's realistic about tossing a bachelor (or bachelorette) together with a dozen members of the opposite sex with the expectation that after all kinds of silliness, he (or she) will fall and love and live happily ever after with one of the dirty dozen? If happily-ever-after were that easy, wouldn't our mothers have just tossed us in a room with twelve of their favorites years ago?

And what about wife-swapping? Like it happens in real life the way they portray it on reality TV shows...

When I was a kid, my parents watched Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and the Waltons. Even then, I thought those shows were stupid. Like a bunch of guys really lived their entire lives, week after week, in a submarine underwater. No women, no kids, no dogs, no cats. Right. And the Waltons. My parents were never that nice. Don't get me wrong, my parents were great. But my dad yelled once in a while. My mom got cranky--a lot. (She had 4 kids. It makes sense now.) And my brothers were NOTHING like John-Boy...

I preferred spending time alone in my room, playing paper dolls, reading, lip-syncing to the songs on the record player, or--better yet, writing stories.

Still do.

Only difference, these days, is that my kid sister doesn't piece together the ripped pages of my rough drafts after she digs them out of the trash. She can't--she lives 2,700 miles away!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Writers and Their Pets

Does it seem to you that most writers are also animal lovers? Just about every writer I know has a handful of critters hanging around the house: dogs, cats, parrots, gerbils...

Is it because our critters provide us with love, attention, and silence--which makes them far more attractive as roommates?

Is it because of our tendency toward solitary pursuits, either by choice or requirements of the profession?

Or is it something else? Share your thoughts with me, I'm curious.

P.S. Delaney, Charlotte, and Max follow me everywhere (into the bathroom, if I let them!) and are, as we speak, warming my feet.

P.P.S. The two feathered creatures, especially the loud, noisy one, belong to my husband. It was simply an anomaly that I taught Miss Big Mouth to say Hi, dad!

WHERE Do You Come Up With Your Ideas?

No, I'm not asking you the same question people ask us writers all the time, How do you come up with your ideas?

I'm asking WHERE - as in, physically, geographically. WHERE is your body, and what is it doing, when your best ideas come to mind?

Behind the wheel of your Subaru when you're tooling at 75 MPG on the interstate? During the 10-minute breaks you get each hour when you're making an eight-hour business presentation? Aha, the shower, right? What about when you're horizontal beneath the sheets and unconscious? (I don't know about you, but my unconscious mind works WAY better than my conscious mind. Is that a sign of age? No, don't answer that.)

Most of my best ideas come to me when I'm physically doing something OTHER than writing and generally don't have access to a pen and paper. (Or that wonderful memo tool on my cell phone!)

WHERE are YOU when your best ideas zap that light bulb picture above your head?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Perks of Writing in the Mountains

Mom with her newborn twins; she allowed my husband within 12 feet to take the family photo. Last week, a different doe gave birth to a single fawn in our yard in a different location. Although this happens every spring, we never tire of it.

The twins were born yesterday, 6/10/09; their fur is still damp in this photo.

Young Mr. Moose visited us for the first time in the fall of 2007 when he was a baby. This shot was taken last Friday, 6/5/09.

NOW, do you understand why I spend so much time looking out the windows or sitting on the front porch?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Carolina Conspiracy Blog

Many thanks to the authors of the Carolina Conspiracy Blog for inviting me as a guest blogger this week.

Here's a link to my article, What Next?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Writing Funny

Don't you just love to read stuff that's funny? Don't you wish you could write it?

I do. And I'm sure I could, if only I could come up with a character who lent herself to funny. I've been toying with some ideas, but none of them have gelled.

If you know of any good resources or have any good suggestions please, let me know. I really need some help.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Generosity of Writers

Just a quick little post to share the word about the generosity of writers.

Because of my blogging efforts during the past several months, I've come to meet a number of truly TERRIFIC writiers--in all genres. They've shared advice, information, writing tips, promotional opportunities, and their books. Yes, one person actually sent me a copy of her book as a thank-you for me helping her convert a photo of a pet to a JPG file!

I've also come across some excellent reading material, by authors I never would have known about before I launched myself into the world of Blog.

My personal life has become so much richer because of these new friends and acquaintances--something I hadn't counted on.

Writers rock!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Marketing - the Other Side of Writing

Many writers believe that so long as they faithfully crank out a certain number of pages or words per day, they're writers.

While the actual writing is certainly an essential part of being a writer, so is the marketing and promotion of your work. How are readers going to know about your masterpiece if they don't know it exists?

Readers don't have ESP, you know. They don't receive telekinetic messages from our publishers when our books hit the stands. Which means it's up to us to inform them about our newest release.

Here are some ways that you can help promote your work, 24/7/365:
  • Help market and promote the books of other writers. We all have different circles of friends, family, acquaintances, business associates, fans, etc. By promoting other writers, we broaden our contact base and, as a result, our fan base. Host a blog, seek out blogs where you can post articles or announcements, join writer's groups and their listserves, join as many online writer's sites that allow you to post information about you and your books/works.
  • Print up postcards or bookmarks to marketing/advertise your work and pass them out to the following people (some of whom you can recruit to pass them out to people THEY know): friends, family, co-workers, employees, clients/customers, bank tellers, grocery store clerks, your kids' teachers, member of civic groups, people at the gym, public bulletin boards, total strangers. (I've found postcards to be less costly. If you want a referral to an online site that prints quality material inexpensively, send me an e-mail.)
  • Have nice business cards printed on quality cardstock. Pass those around to people as stated in the previous paragraph. If you take yourself seriously, and as a professional, others are likely to, as well.
  • Contact local bookstore owners and offer to do book signings and/or readings.
  • Contact local radio and TV stations and offer to give away signed copies of your books in exchange for brief free air-time.
  • Offer to give writing workshops at local libraries, schools, bookstores, etc.
NEVER stop promoting your book(s) and telling people about them. ALWAYS have copies of them handy for sale.
One thing I've learned, which still amazes me: people are thrilled to know published authors! They love the fact that they KNOW a published author and love, even more, TELLING OTHER PEOPLE that they know a published author. Take advantage of that love and allow those people to help you.
Be sure, however, to thank EVERYONE who helps you along the way. Although it's possible to write a book all by yourself, it isn't possible to market it all by yourself.