Monday, June 30, 2014

What Writers Can Learn from Successful Corporate Types

The results are in on my inexact, informal survey. 
Here's the hypothetical situation I proposed. The book is in the submission phase, so the writer is in that wonderful hell called WAITING-TO-HEAR-BACK.  What do you think is the most important thing this writer should do, believing that s/he will be published and will soon have to tell the world about this new book?
16 said keep writing 
  • something new and different
  • something to "play with" and enjoy

11 said work on marketing (many went on to be very specific)
  • set up blog tour
  • set up cover reveal 
  • book promo posts
  • blog about that tour
  • prepare “stock questions” for interviews
  • organize mailing list
  • plan website updates
  • set up social media accounts

1 make list of reviewers
1 read 
1 critique other’s work 
1 research agents
1 work on tag lines and synopses 
1 take a break before starting something new
1 make list of alternative titles
1 do anything that needs doing, even clean the bathroom

We could have predicted these responses, couldn't we? Well, all but the bathroom suggestion. Writers are a-nose-to-the-grindstone lot. Keep writing. Start the next project. Develop a marketing plan. Whatever you do, don't forget you're a writer, even in the down times. 
I was sure we weren't the only compulsive workaholics, so I took a look at a successful person in another profession and came up with some interesting things.  

While developing the Huffington post, Arianna Huffington pushed herself to the brink of exhaustion, finally fainting, falling and breaking her cheekbone on the edge of her desk.
I loved what she said about realizing she had to slow down. " The toughest part was disconnecting from all my devices. . ." (she was running an online media company :-))

Here's some of the other things she said that I thought we writers might take something from.
  • learn to live with incompletion
  • say no to things, even when you want to do them
  • remember success has to include health and happiness or it isn't success.

Let's hear it for Arianna!


Juvie in Orange

So now I'm back to my Logline/Tagline creation. I got some great feedback and did some more work.

Previous Week: Shackled by near illiteracy, a teenage boy decides escape from his alcoholic mother and absentee father will give him a better life, but his bad choices trap him in even a worse place.

This Week: Sixteen-year-old Hutch McQueen is shackled by near illiteracy and trapped in a dysfunctional family. When he tries to escape, he chooses the wrong way and lands in juvenile hall. He might have a second chance if he listens to the priest and the teacher. 


Previous Week: Going to juvie wasn’t part of his escape plan. 

This Week: He's trapped by near illiteracy, surrounded by tempting escape plans, short on good choices. 

What do you think of Arianna's advice? Any other suggestions for my log line/tagline?  Have a great Monday. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Celebrating the Small Things, Especially Good Writers


LG KELTNER @writing off the edge
KATIE @TheCyborg Mom
CAFFEEMAGGIEATO @mscoffeehouse

Thanks for being good helpers!

I'm celebrating my library. I mean my own, small personal place where I've tucked books away for many years. These are all books I've read and wanted to keep, so they've been vetted and passed whatever test I had in mind. 

This month I'm rereading some books to see how they affect me or interest me after many years between the first time I read them and now. 

First, I pulled out God's Grace and finished it in two nights. I'm not sure why I chose that book because I'm not a big dystrophia fan, but I did. Malmud's book depressed and fascinated me. Brilliantly written, it doesn't speak well of the human race, its self-centeredness and it's natural talent for bringing humanity down even when it intends the best.

Here are a couple of short, but beautiful passages. Malmud pokes fun at us on every page.

Man was subtly conceived but less well executed. Body and soul hung badly together. Maybe next time.

Given the nature of death--how long it lasts once it sets in--who can blame us for inventing resurrection?

And on that cheery note I'll bid you goodbye. But wait. Here's a small bit of philosophy to take the Malmud edge off.

"The greatest prayer is patience."

Monday, June 23, 2014

How To Get Rid of Shallow Writing & A Quick Technique Book

Those Shallow Writing Days

Have you ever felt that you were writing a story as if you were looking at it from an outside window? Those are my bad writing days. I hate it when the prose goes flat, the characters have to be pinned up against wall (or as, in this case, a tree) they're such paper cutouts, and the plot has become a series of not-too-exciting episodes.

A few years ago I heard a speaker at a conference who gave us an exercise to try in small groups. It was this: We had to think of a single picture of something very private. Something we wouldn't want anyone else to see--so secret that we wouldn't even carry it in our wallets for fear of being in an accident and having a paramedic discover it. (Kind of the ratty panties or shorts your grandmother warned you never to wear in case you wound up in a hospital.)

Then once we had the image that made us squirm with embarrassment or discomfort, we had to write or re-write something--a scene from one of our WIPs, a character description, a setting we'd been trying to nail and hadn't.

The premise behind this was to make us understand our job as writers is to reveal what's hidden and disturbing and in some cases fear-provoking. We can do that best if we start by revealing what we've hidden: that deep seated panic of being lost, that sense of despair when someone we love dies, the intense hatred of another, the embarrassment of the flub in front of people.

I have a few of these snapshots and I use them when I'm doing what I call shallow writing. And, no, you can't see them. You might get a peek at my shallow writing, however.


I'm doing a Summer Sale for Sliding on the Edge, so it will be selling for .99 through June 26. 


A writer friend just published a concise, but jam-packed little book. She presents her 5 last techniques she learned. These are what saw her fiction published. It's out in paperback and Kindle. A great QUICK desktop helpmate. I did a REVIEW  if you want to see more specifics about what I found positive in her book.



I'm doing a little unscientific survey. Want to help? Here's the hypothetical situation. The book is in the submission phase, so the writer is in that wonderful hell called WAITING-TO-HEAR-BACK. 

What do you think is the most important thing this writer should do, believing that s/he will be published and will soon have to tell the world about this new book?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Celebrating All Kinds of Things Bookish & Steampunkish

Hi and Happy Friday, but wasn't it Friday just yesterday? And wasn't January the day before that?


If I'm to celebrate anything it has to be my good bloggy friends who stop by and entertain me with their comments. So that's who I'm celebrating today. No small thing, of course, but very important.

Maybe there's one small thing I can add. A good night's sleep last night. My characters snoozed from the workout I gave them the other day, so I got to snooze, too.

Helping with this mighty important hop are:

LG KELTNER @writing off the edge
KATIE @TheCyborg Mom
CAFFEEMAGGIEATO @mscoffeehouse

Stop in to say hi!


Now here are some authors who didn't take that sage advice, "Write what you know." And aren't we glad they didn't! Look at what they've come up with.


joylene nowell butler

Two years ago, author Pat Bertram asked if I’d like to collaborate with her and 8 others on a steampunk mystery.  

Because it was Pat asking, I said, “Sure."

Problem: I’d never heard the term -- steampunk

Wiki’s definition: 

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century….[etc., etc.]

To give you a better understanding, here are short list of steampunk movies:

Sherlock Holmes
The Time Machine
Van Helsing
The Brothers Grimm
The League of Extraordinary Gentleman

Warning: if you have to Google your intended genre, you might be in a wee bit of trouble. 

Hence the reason it took two years to complete the project, none of us knew what we were doing. Well, three did, but they dropped out within the first year. The rest of us debated every six months or so whether we should quit. 

It was tough going. I know there were moments when I wanted to shout, “I give up!” Why I didn’t was strictly stubbornness. I hate giving up. 

Still, I suffered. I pulled chunks of hair out of my head trying to determine what motivated our antagonist. I eventually figured out what my character, Dakota David's motivation was. Like me he was confused most days. I knew I could work with that. But when it came to incorporating his story with the novel’s lead character, I was completely in the dark. Had it not been for the patience of Pat Bertram, we’d all still be at it, or worse, there’d be no BREAK TIME. 

When “they” say you should write what you know, know that they mean research and the Internet are your new best friends. 

I had no idea what steampunk was when we began collaborating on BREAK TIME. I watched a lot of steampunk movies on Netflix. I studied everyday life. I learned which gadgets were essential for everyday living. I kept it up until one day I announced, “I get it. In fact, I like it.”

Welcome to Break Time, a collaborative steampunk anthology written by seven authors from four countries—USA, New Zealand, Canada, Australia—who have never met. 
The year is 1966. Steam still reigns. Oil never became king. Coal is used to heat water to create steam to run engines, and because of it, pollution is a serious problem. The last war was the Great War. World War II never happened. There was no Korean Conflict, and no build up of troops in Vietnam. Despite what might be idealistic times, not everyone is happy. 
Alexander Giston, 64 years old in 1966, invented a machine that broke time and allowed him to return to the past and save his wife and son from the train wreck that took their lives. Heeding his advice, they agreed to travel by aeroship instead, and were lost when the aeroship went down. A third attempt failed to keep them from dying. 
Al promised himself he wouldn’t again attempt to save his wife and son. Instead he decided to go to the past to kill steam, the means of their death. But some who live and prosper because of steam will do anything to save their way of life, even to kill Al as often as they need to.

Here’s a sneak peek from Dakota David’s section:

Grandfather also saw the wolverine. He looked back at David. “The bear hunts the wolverine. Yet he comes to you to prove that rage can be controlled. He is warning you that your gift has purpose. One day, many years from now, a man will approach you, coveting the suppressed rage of the wolverine’s enemy. This man will be prisoner to the past yet present to the future. It will be your gift that sets him free . . . if you choose to help him.”
Present to the future; what the hell did that mean!
“What if I don’t want to help him, Mushom? What if I can’t?”
Grandfather closed his eyes, lifted his chin to the heavens. The smooth lines in his face softened, and David knew he was speaking to God.
He’s praying for me, Great Spirit. Please listen.
After a time, Grandfather looked back at him. “I don’t know that you will help him. It’s a choice to make then, not now. All future can be changeable, Nosisim.”
It hadn’t been the answer David hoped for and he raised his arms to the sky and called out to the Great Spirit. “Manito! Thank you, but the gift isn’t wanted. Please don’t make me take it. Honour someone else . . . !”
“. . . And that’s my story,” Al Giston said, startling David from his reverie. “Will you help me?”
When David looked at Al, he saw a desperate man, a man who felt justified by his insane request.
Or am I the one who’s insane. I’m talking to a matchitehew from the future.
“You have my deepest sympathies, Al, but I can’t help you.”

And be sure to visit 

Joylene, Métis, has been writing her entire life. She began her first novel in 1983 to honour the passing of her father. Today she and her husband live in the home they built with their own hands on Cluculz Lake. Her first novel Dead Witness was a finalist in the 2012 Global eBook Awards. Her suspense thriller Broken But Not Dead won the 2012 IPPY Silver Medal for Canada West. Joylene is currently applying final touches to two suspense thrillers. Contact her at cluculzwriter at yahoo dot ca

Monday, June 16, 2014

How to Ratchet Up Tension In Your Novel

What is tension? 

I love this definition: "Delicious moments of anxious uncertainty." Doesn't that grab you and make you want to create those kinds of moments in your stories? So how do you do that? 

  • You make your characters want something.
  • You create obstacles for them.
  • You don't let them have what they want.
  • You keep them trying to get it. . .for a while.

To enhance this tension of WANTING BUT NOT GETTING, Carol Kilgore has added the TICKING CLOCK. A perfect tension heightener. With character trying to overcome obstacles against the clock, readers have to turn the pages, and that's exactly what writers want.

By the end of a long evening working as a special set of eyes for the presidential security detail, all Kat Marengo wants is to kick off her shoes and stash two not-really-stolen rings in a secure spot. Plus, maybe sleep with Dave Krizak. No, make that definitely sleep with Dave Krizak. The next morning, she wishes her new top priorities were so simple.
As an operative for a covert agency buried in the depths of the Department of Homeland Security, Kat is asked to participate in a matter of life or death—locate a kidnapped girl believed to be held in Corpus Christi, Texas. Since the person doing the asking is the wife of the president and the girl is the daughter of the first lady’s dearest friend, it’s hard to say no.
Kat and Dave quickly learn the real stakes are higher than they or the first lady believed and will require more than any of them bargained for.
The kicker? They have twenty-four hours to find the girl—or the matter of life or death will become more than a possibility.


Carol writes grocery lists, texts to her family, new lyrics to old songs for her dogs, love notes to her husband, and novels for herself. And for you. In between, she blogs weekly at Under the Tiki Hut and is active on Facebook and Twitter.

She sees mystery and subterfuge everywhere. And she’s a sucker for a good love story—especially ones with humor and mystery. Crime Fiction with a Kiss gives her the latitude to mix and match throughout the broad mystery and romance genres. Having flexibility makes her heart happy.

You can connect with Carol and her books here:



"Do what you have to do resolutely, with all your heart. The traveler who hesitates only raises dust on the road."

I'm guilty of hesitating and raising dust, but I'm working on being resolute.  How about you? And will you visit The Write Club today and cast a vote? I'm off to do that. Also don't forget Secrets of Honor is waiting for you. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Celebrating Small Things & Recounting Some Writing Experience, Especially Loglines and Taglines


LG Keltner @ Writing Off the Edge

Katie @ TheCyborg Mom

CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse

This week my small celebrations are:

finishing line edits ahead of schedule on Double Negative.
writing one short story for Heroes of Phenomena Book Launch.
composing a fairly decent logline and tagline for Double Negative. (See below.) 
staying cool during our 102 degree day. Yuck!
Oh, and not succumbing to my triskaidekaphobia today.

Oh no! Not Friday the Thirteenth.


I'm visiting another UNCOMMONYA author this week, MELISSA WRAY. It would be great if you'd stop by. You can read me in my verbose, writer mode. It happens sometimes.



Are you good at writing LOGLINES or TAGLINES? It takes some practice, I can tell. You. And are you clear on how these two are different? If not, here's what I know about them.

LOGLINES tell you in a single sentence what the story is about.
TAGLINES are intended to catch your interest.


An example: Jaws

Logline: A sheriff must find and kill a man-eating and frighteningly intelligent shark before it murders again and scares away all the tourists who support his beach-front community.

Tag Line: Don’t go into the water.

Tell me what  you think about mine. I could use some help if you see where these could be better, please tell me. 

Double Negative

LoglineShackled by near illiteracy, a teenage boy decides escape from his alcoholic mother and absentee father will give him a better life, but his bad choices trap him in even a worse place.

Tagline: Going to juvie wasn’t part of his escape plan. (I'm still fiddling with this one. I may be back with another version next week.)

Are you celebrating anything this week? Are you good at loglines and taglines? Triskaidekaphobia much?

Monday, June 9, 2014

T.B. Markinson and Some Monday MiscellanyThoughts


Elizabeth “Lizzie” Petrie has it all. She’s rich, beautiful, intelligent, and successful. None of this matters to her mom. Les-Bi-An. That’s all her mom sees.
Even though Lizzie insists her mom’s antagonism does not bother her, Lizzie distances herself from her entire family. When her brother, Peter, calls her out of the blue to announce he’s getting married, Lizzie’s entire life changes drastically. Peter’s fiancée wants to bring the lesbian outcast back into the family. Will this desire cause Lizzie to lose everything dear to her?
Sarah, Lizzie’s girlfriend, is ecstatic about this change in Lizzie’s personal life. Sarah, the hopeless romantic, wants it all, including settling down with the fiercely independent Lizzie.
Can Lizzie be tamed? And can she survive her family and all of their secrets? 

T. B. Markinson is a 40-year old American writer, living in England, who pledged she would publish before she was 35. Better late than never. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in England, or taking the dog for a walk. Not necessarily in that order. A Woman Lost is her debut novel.

Take a look at this! 

Every FREE download sends a donation to LA Youth Orchestra. Download yours today here. Smashwords

Heroes of PHENOMENA is a global, cross-industry collaborative campaign encouraging the next generation of authors, artists & musicians! 

Epic motion picture advertising music production house, audiomachine, will make a donation to the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra with every download of the PHENOMENA album companion collection.

A dedicated youth section showcases talented aspiring artists and authors from Elevate’s Life & Art Studios, alongside inspiring industry professionals and the winning entries of PHENOMENA's Epic Heroes Event!

To wrap up my Monday post,  I found this quote that I thought I'd share. 

"Why do what you will regret? Why bring tears upon yourself? Do only what you do not regret, and fill yourself with joy."

I'm off to do something I won't regret and fill myself with. Joy. Want to join me?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things and the Big Ones with Guest Pam Torres, The Write Club and Melissa Wray's Flash Fiction

On the small front, I'm celebrating my lettuce crop and my amazing fava beans. "How can anyone celebrate that?" you ask. Well, let me tell you. Once you've tasted lettuce and fava beans from your own garden there's no going back to those picked-too-early, packed-in-plastic, shipped veggies. Every bite is a celebration. 

New books are always a BIG reason to celebrate and I'm fond of books about animals. so I'm very happy to host PAM TORRES and her story IT'S NOT JUST A DOG. Pam is generously donating ten percent of the proceeds to the ASPCA and other organizations that aid in the care and rescue of animals in need. Everybody give Pam a huge round of applause and then click HERE and buy her book.

About The Author: 
Pam Torres was born in Logan, Utah and did most of her growing up in Prairie Village, Kansas. Besides playing Dorothy during tornado weather and digging Peter Pan-like underground forts she also played piano and ran cross-country. She started her family early, and had five energetic and creative children, and returned to school when the last one was four. She has fond memories of reading and playing with her children in between hefty amounts of volunteering at church and their schools. Several of her favorite memories are doing writers’ workshop, updating the art docent program, recruiting volunteers, working as the parent liaison for the curriculum team, publishing articles in the newsletter and directing a very popular after-school art club. 
Writing was the one constant in her life through all the struggles of single parenthood, stepparent issues and bringing a large family together. She continued to write her brains out in hopes of writing full-time one day. After five years in sales, she quit her well-paying job to write. Her supportive husband is her biggest cheerleader and she frequently acknowledges that she couldn’t have done it without him. 
The Project Madison Series is her debut middle-grade series. She organized Project Madison around its release and is donating 10% of her proceeds to the ASPCA®, animal shelters and other programs to benefit homeless or abused animals.

About The Book: In the second book of the Project Madison series, things get complicated as Madison and Cooper try to navigate their new relationship. School has ended and they're spending more time together, blogging, working at the kennel, training dogs—including Lilly. When Jonah, the new neighbor who has moved into Paige's old house, begins to spend more time with Madison, Cooper isn't at all happy. 

Jonah's uncle, a Native American, shares his knowledge about Madison's power to see and feel canine memories and emotions. The mysterious white wolf returns and fills her mind with dreams and more questions. Madison starts a dog-walking business and discovers Ben, a crotchety old man whose dog is skin and bones.

When the kennel receives a dog that has been brutally injured, Madison is determined to find out what happened. She and Cooper realize they're going to need Jonah and Donald to bust this investigation wide open and save the dogs. But getting to the bottom of the mystery will threaten not only Madison but everyone she loves.

Visit Pam at her BLOG or other Social Media

You can find It’s NOT Just A Dog! at the online stores below:

Don't forget to take a peek at the WRITE CLUB entries and enter your vote. Starts June 16. This is quite an interesting series of bouts and the stories are great matches. Who will win? That's up to you.


And here's a great chance to show off your short, shorts. It's summer go for it!

Do you have a short story or an extract of an unpublished story you would like to share on Flash Fiction Friday?
Then just email a query to to express your interest. It's that simple!

A thought for the day: 

"Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill."

Do you like supporting causes by buying books? Did you sub something to the Write Club? Have any short, shorts to pull out for the summer?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

IWSG Wednesday and UncommonYA Gives Sliding on the Edge a Shout Out

Visit more of the GROUP
Co-Host for Today

Therese J. Borchard offers help to getting you over that Insecurity Hump. She's the author of Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes, and The Pocket Therapist: An Emotional Survival Kit, so I think I can point to her as an expert on these matters. Here's one of her steps that I found particularly appealing and wanted to share with you on this Wednesday.
Consider it beautiful.
If you believe what Saint Augustine did, that the origin of “sin” is pride, then it’s easy to consider the opposite, humility, as a supreme virtue. And follow that logic to insecurity=vulnerability of spirit=humility. Borchard points out, “With insecurity, we admit that it’s not all about us, and that philosophy in this world of self-centeredness is quite lovely.”

Now that I'm thinking of insecurity as something positive I can move right along with my day. I'm co-hosting IWSG today and since this is my first co-host gig, I was a bit insecure about it. Now I think I see a halo just over my head.

The group called UNCOMMONYA is giving my first young adult novel a bit of a boost with what they call THE BLAST. So today is full of possibilities for all kinds of insecure moments. That's why I was particularly happy when I found Borchard's information.

Even my characters are INSECURE and, therefore, BEAUTIFUL!

"Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he indeed is the noblest victor who conquers himself."
How does this philosophy and the logic I've proposed sit with you? How do you deal with insecurity?

Monday, June 2, 2014

How To Write Books, Market Them and Not Go Mad


For me sanity is all about scheduling and coffee/wine (depending on the time of day). Those are the only things holding this writer together. I'm not offering these solutions for everyone, just saying that so far these are working for me.

My Schedule for today:

04AM Drink Coffee and Write new book (just kidding about the book)
05AM Visit my Blogger Friends (not kidding) fb and Twitter
06AM Do Line Edits (serious business)
07AM Find more coffee. (absolutely necessary)
08AM See husband, get his plan for the day, eat something.
09AM Work on book (not kidding)
10AM Hike up some trail.
11AM Set plan for week.
12 PM Meet husband at designated place for lunch--this time of year that would be our deck.
01PM  Write
02PM Organize publicity for Library, posters and website, talk to sons on phone, make plans with friends for tomorrow.
03PM Check garden. Pick lettuce for dinner. Go to meeting for library.
04:30PM fb and more Twitter. :-(
05PM Think about dinner. Consider wine, then write instead.
06PM Pour wine. Find husband and hand him marinated chicken for bar-b-que.
07PM Pour more wine. Toss the salad and feel smug. (planted it, grew it, harvested it).
08PM 30 minutes of a Netflix something, decafe and maybe something like a salted caramel treat.
09PM Kindle in bed, read someone else's writing. Make notes for review.
10PM Face in pillow.


If you've followed me for a while,  you know I don't usually blog on Wednesdays, except for the first Wednesday of each month. And this week is special in a couple of ways. I'm going to co-host the IWSG (Insecure Writers Group) while ALEX takes a well-deserved break. Oh, you might know it as I Was Searching for Gary. Please placate him and tell him you know the real meaning of IWSG. It makes him happy.

And, the UncommonYA group, which has some amazing authors, is going to BLAST me. That means, it's going to feature Sliding on the Edge. That poor book needs a boosts if ever a book did, so, of course, I'll blog on Wednesday with some glee.

The Write Club is underway.  Read. Vote. Enjoy!


What's your schedule? Do have one? How's that working. Do you IWSG much?  Hugs to my followers. UR Amazing and I appreciate y'all. (Is that the right spelling? People from the South, weigh in please)