Friday, September 3, 2010

Moving the Blog

Well folks the time has come. I'm moving the blog over to my regular website.  In the end it makes more sense to have most everything in one place and not maintain the blog separately.

Pop over to the new place. I'm planning on pontificating about Drew Barrymore, writing and the vicissitudes of life over there now!

Hope to see you there.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Autumn, Again

Ignoring the fact that it is going to be 90 degrees today, Autumn is on it's way. I know this because it has been lovely and cool for the past couple of weeks and the trees are starting to change. It's small. A few leaves here and there. A patch of red or gold in the middle of a sea of green. But it's there.

I could probably recycle last year's post about Autumn, I'm sure I'm repeating myself. It's because I love this time of year. The air feels good to me. My body tends to run on the hot side, so summer is uncomfortable for me. I don't really like sub zero temps much, so winter isn't the best. Although I do love it when it begins to snow.

Spring is great, signs of new life and a chance to start over on my flower garden. But fall requires very little  effort on my part. The kids rake the leaves. If I feel like it, I pull stuff out of the garden and clean it up some. But I can also leave that to spring if I like. I really am a lazy creature.

I love the bug reduced fall. I won't call it bug free. Life in the country is never bug free. But the population of flying and biting critters drops off, the air is silky and cool, the sun shines and the trees put on a fabulous display.

What's not to like?

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's a Good Day

I'm in an especially good mood today. I was kind of wondering what that was about and then I remembered - Moonlighting in Vermont got a really good review last night. There is something about the validation that comes with a good review that makes me giddy.

I'm sharing it with you so you can feel giddy too.

I'm just jumping in here to say this review is from Brenda Scott at the Manchester Examiner. Just the kind of detail you might like to know.

Moonlighting in Vermont is a superbly written, romantic mystery with just a hint of comedy, by Kate George. Winner of the Daphne du Maurier award for excellence in the Mystery/Suspense category, Kate George shows us what truly incredible writing can achieve. The storyline was so absorbing; it was hard to put this one down! Bella Bree MacGowan, paste-up artist by day, housekeeper by night, describes herself as a Rachel Ray look-a-like “without the benefit of a hair and makeup stylist.” George’s heroine is a fictional treasure that is strong-willed, self sufficient, and not easily derailed!
The backwoods town of South Royalston, Vermont is typically a quiet venue where not much happens; a place where the rich and famous have been known to frequent to get away from it all, certainly not a place for murder? When Bree is assigned to clean one of the cottages at Whispering Birches, a super-luxury hotel, she finds her boss dead on the floor. Bree quickly becomes the prime and only suspect as Detective Miles Brooks does everything in his power to point all clues toward Bree. In the weeks that follow the murder, Bree manages to lose her boyfriend and her daytime job at the Royalston Star. She becomes the subject of much gossip in town and is even accosted at Vera’s funeral! With nowhere else to turn, Bree scrambles to dig up clues, and carries out her own investigation in order to clear her name and avoid the fate that awaits her.  
George’s characters are both interesting and compelling because each struggles with difficult conflict. Bree is conflicted by her feelings for Beau; on the one hand she is attracted to him but feels that if the relationship doesn’t work out, she risks losing her closest friends, Meg and Tom Maverick. Bree loves and needs her job at the paper but resigns anyway because she feels she’s putting the integrity of the paper and Tom’s job on the police force at risk. Meg grapples with her deep feelings for her husband and the attraction she feels for Scott. Even Jim Fisk, Bree’s ex-boyfriend who deserted her when she became the prime suspect in order to protect his career, has second thoughts and tries to win her back.
And then there’s detective Miles Brooks who continually treats Bree as if she were already guilty! Does he truly believe she’s a murderer or is his brooding, all-to-serious personality just an act to cover up his true feelings?

Very happy in Vermont.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Don't Postpone Joy

I was at a high school graduation in June where one of the speakers was an ex-teacher from the school. He'd been battling brain cancer and was thankfully in remission. He wasn't going to be coming back to work at the school. He had other things he wanted to attend to.

One thing this teacher said during his speech was this: He had been in Florida, and while there he went to walk into a shop or restaurant only to discover it was closed. On the door was a hand lettered sign.

Don't Postpone Joy

Of course hearing a cancer survivor say those words was especially moving. Who better to remind us that we have limited time here on earth?

Don't Postpone Joy

I mention this because I've been postponing joy probably since I was in my late twenties. And lately it's worse because I'm working on the adage that Life Rewards Action. So I'm acting. I'm taking care of my kids and my day job and trying hard to become a novelist who can live off her writing. Not many writers can actually live off their work so that's a tall order. I think I can make it there, but I know for most writers it takes a while. I'm not worried about it. But while living by

Life Rewards Action

I've been postponing joy. I was pleased when my first novel was published, but did I really celebrate it in my heart? No, I was busy moving on to the next steps, marketing and writing the next novel. As I sit here I have four incredible children who should bring me great joy, but what am I focused on? the finances and how in the world am I going to get my name out there so people will buy my books.

That is so wrong.  Don't postpone joy. See the beauty. Feel the miracles that surround you. Breathe.

Don't Postpone Joy

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

So Nobody's Interested in Book Reviews

I can see that book reviews from a person with questionable taste in literature might be suspect. Especially as I basically just say I like this book in a general sort of way and don't go into specifics. So how about a movie review? Would you find that interesting?

I watched two movies worth reviewing this week. Memento and 500 Days of Summer. Two very different movies with one thing in common - a kind of quirky oddness. Of course both movies leave you completely different so don't read too much into the oddness, but it's there all the same.

For me, Memento is about how people will use other people's weaknesses to their own ends. Of course sometimes that backfires. But the blatant self interest is appalling and the manipulation of situations left me cold. This is not a feel good movie. It's supremely well acted, written and directed and definitely worth seeing, But if you are at all squeamish, don't watch it at night.

500 Days of Summer is not your typical love story. I place it with the more modern and alternative Juno and Nick and Nora's Infinite Play List. It's off balance in a fun sort of way. But the mood is not traditional, well heck the story is not traditional. It appears to be written for the disillusioned twenty-somethings. I watched with my sixteen-year-old daughter. She liked it. I liked it. So I guess it works as a chick flick. But honestly I think it would work for the guys too. It's not a shoot 'em, car wreck of a movie, but it's shot from the male point of view and plays to guys sensibilities. It's not easy on the girl, which honestly works in this movie.

So there you go - two short and probably unhelpful movie reviews, but maybe you like them more than the book reviews?

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Review of Sorts - Family Honor by Robert B. Parker

I just finished Family Honor by Robert B. Parker, and I got to wondering what it is I like about his books. I like them well enough to read until I literally can't keep my eyes open anymore. I had to re-read the last few pages from last night because I couldn't remember any of it.

It's not just the female protagonist, I like Parker's Spenser almost as well as I like Sunny Randall. But it is part of it. I like that Sunny is independent. That she's not afraid to try things. She's not afraid of mistakes. She moves along, not knowing the answers, just doing what seems best and trying to figure things out. She takes risks.

Parker created Randall. I know this to be a fact. (Well I suppose it to be a fact. Semantics you know.) And yet, I feel as though she is real. It's as though I could know her, I wouldn't be surprised to meet her. I'd say "Oh sure, you're Sunny Randall. You took in that fifteen year old girl. How's that going?"

It takes a certain amount of skill to develop characters who seem real. Human beings are complex creatures. Motivations are rarely straight forward. It's hard to create characters that are complex and likable without bogging your story down with detail. The trick is to deliver a story that seems light, that doesn't drag, but still supports complexity of character and plot.

It's something to strive for.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fickle Friday

As you know I've been trying to figure out a cover for California Schemin'. And I have to count myself lucky that my editor let's me have input. So many authors are stuck with what they get when it comes to book covers.

Of course I got manic about it and went hog wild and mocked up a ton of covers. Which overwhelmed my poor editor and she had to tell me to quit it already. She's got work to do. So I'm quitting cover design for a while. And maybe something will come to me while I'm not concentrating on it. Or maybe something will come to you and you'll tell me about it and it will all be fixed.

I want the cover because I want to work on the book trailer. Making book trailers is fun. It takes me a long time, because I'm technology challenged. But it's a change of pace, and I'm nothing if not short of attention span. Giving my brain something different to work on is always a plus. And it furthers the career so I can't lose.

But I also can't finish the trailer with out a cover. And unfortunately I'm in love with the controversial skunk.

Oh and because it's fickle Friday here is a picture of the real Foresthill Bridge in California. It's something like the highest, or second highest bridge in the USA. Amazing huh?

Click here for the Foresthill Bridge

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Can you stand to look at another cover?

Because I had another idea. Just give me a yes or no on this. Or you could say you like this but there's a cover from the other post I like better, if you like.

So, I'm trying to learn what makes a good cover. And I think it needs to be clean and somehow related to the story, if at all possible. And eye catching across the room. But you know all these things.

My worry about the girl in the blue dress was that although Bree does a lot of running in this story, the cover might get dated rather quickly. My cousin commented on that to me. My brother agreed. And maybe it makes the book look more like a straight romance, which California Schemin' definitely is NOT. There is less romance than in Moonlighting in Vermont. I need a mystery cover for this book.

Then there is the bridge, which I like but many of you do not. Too boring without the dead woman. Too gruesome with the dead woman. Too much like Inspirational romance. Nothing against Inspirational Romance, but California Schemin' is not what an inspirational reader is looking for. Absolutely not.

A few people adored the green and blue cover but most of you hated it. So I was thinking about other images. I could have put Hammie on the cover, but the guy in my head (and collage) for Hammie is David Beckham. I doubt I'm going to get permission to use him on a cover. (Maybe I should ask?)

But an image I thought about early on, long before I started mocking up covers was of a skunk. There is a skunk. And they are cute creatures, if very smelly. And I like animals, and Bree like animals. And the skunk IS kind of KEY. So there you go. That's my rationale.  Here's the cover:

Edited to add a second skunk cover.  Will the cover renditions never end?

What do you think?

Monday, August 16, 2010

California Schemin' Cover Revisted

So here's the deal. A couple of the covers almost tied. With the Bridge coming up from behind at the last minute. I decided to rethink a little and we're voting again.  This time there are a boat load to choose from so get a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and settle in. Or a glass of water - that's what my youngest daughter says I drink. Little does she know.

This is hard because there are two that you've seen before, actually three that you've seen and then a bunch of variations on a theme. So I'm mixing them up. Not the same order as before. I'm sorry if this is too complicated, but I did suggest wine for a reason.

1. Green/Girl Running:  Almost no one liked this.

2. Girl on Stairs: This one came in second, but a strong second.

3. Girl in red shoes on staits: Was it marly that suggested this? Sorry if it was someone else - my mind is melting.

3a. Girl in green boots:

3b. Girl in work boots:

4. You've seen this the original bridge:

5. now we come to endless variations on the same theme -

5a: You can't tell, but she has angel wings.



6. Different angel (in case it looks just the same as the others!)









Ok. Is your brain mush yet?  Mine is!  Tell me what you think. If you can think. Which I can't.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Name that Book - Bree MacGowan number Three

Here we go again. It seems like I was just here trying to name Mermaid Girls – now Glimmer Girls. And once again I’m looking for your help. I’m starting the third in my Bree MacGowan mysteries and I need a title.

The first two books have titles that are twists on song titles. Moonlighting in Vermont, song Moonlight in Vermont. California Schemin’, song California Dreaming. The third book is to take place back in Vermont. I think. I suppose it could be set partially in Canada, New Hampshire, or Mass.

So the thing is I need a song with a place in the title. Preferably a State.

Okay here’s the challenge: come up with some songs and tweak the titles so they’re appropriate for the title of a humorous mystery.




Friday, August 13, 2010

I'm over at Motherhoot today

I blogging about being a writing mom over at Motherhoot today.  Stop by and leave a comment. Please? I'm feeling all lonely over here by myself.

Thanks, I knew you'd come through for me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Choose your favorite Book Cover:

In anticipation of my Bree MacGowan Sequel that comes out next march I mocked up three covers to give my editor an idea of what I like. I didn't have a favorite, and neither did she so I'm opening it up for Discussion.

If you're confused about what makes a good cover you could read Jennifer Crusie's criteria for a good cover. That might help you make a decision if you don't know which cover you like best. Basically we're looking for a cover that calls to you across the room, and when you get closer makes you want to pick it up.

By the way - these are covers I mocked up myself last evening. The real ones will be much more professional looking.

So here you go:
Option A: The Bridge Cover

Option B: The Green Cover

Option C: The Running down the Stairs cover

So tell me, what do you think?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Grave Digging: Burying the Dog Fence

First let me say that I realize that most graves are dug by back hoes and not people with shovels. I know this and it’s beside the point. I’m thinking of people who are digging graves for nefarious purposes. Not cemetery employees.

But let me start at the beginning - I have three dogs who I keep from pestering my neighbors by enclosing several acres, close to eight I think, with an electric radio dog fence. The dog fence allows me to have good relationships with my neighbors. Without the fence I would be continually apologizing and paying for the damage my dogs would do. How do I know my dogs would do damage? Because they are dogs. And because they dig holes big enough to lose UPS trucks in at my house. Craters. They dig craters.

I also let one of my neighbor’s run his horses on our pasture. I know. It’s very kind of me. It’s also an easy way to keep the grass from taking over. The horses keep the pastures from looking like my garden. Really. Recently, another neighbor, we’ll call him Good Neighbor, offered a piece of land that adjoins ours to the Horse Neighbor. Horse Neighbor moved his physical fence which exposed my dog fence.

That is why, had you driven past my house early this morning, you would have seen me out in the field burying a new wire. Why do I have to bury the wire? Because now that the Good Neighbor has offered the adjoining field for Horse Neighbor to use there is no horse fence separating the two fields. The horse fence used to protect the dog fence from destruction. Think draft horse feet with lovely metal shoes. A ton of weight (yes, literally) with a sharp metal edge coming down on a tiny wire. The only way for me to keep the fence intact (and thus contain my dogs) is to bury it. Don’t you wish you could have the kind of fun I have?

This is what I discovered while digging the shallow trench to lay the wire in. Digging is not easy. It’s hard on your body, specifically the right elbow and the left leg. And face it I was just digging up the first six inches of dirt. What if I’d been trying to conceal a body? How hard would that have been?

This is what I was thinking about this as I was jumping up and down on my shovel, trying to get the blade to cut through long grass and the roots of some sort of bush. I was thinking that if I was going to ever write a mystery where someone tries to bury a body I’d better to it right. Either said villain had better have a really tough time digging this hole or they’d better borrow a back hoe. Either one would be telling. It’s hard to hide freshly dug dirt.

So what do you think? Given that digging is such hard work how would you go about hiding a body? Or would you be like my villians and just let it lie?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Writing When Times are Tough

I have trouble writing in the summer. I don’t work at my regular job in the summer, so really I should be able to pound out the words. But the ugly truth is I stay up late and don’t get up early so there isn’t any real quiet time. My oldest daughter, bless her heart, wants to spend time with me, so when the other kids go to bed she wants me to sit and watch movies with her. And when she wasn’t here it was my husband and the ball games that broke my concentration. It’s my own fault. I know that if I want serious writing time I have to get out of bed between four and five in the morning. I just don’t discipline myself well.

On top of that it seems my grandma is dying. She’s ninety-eight, so she’s had a good run – but as I’ve said here before I was really expecting to attend her hundredth birthday party. My Grandma is on my mind a lot these days, and that affects my writing too. But the fact remains; if I want to grow up and be a writer I have to actually write.

So today I joined a challenge posed by the fabulous women over on Jungle Red Writers. In brief the challenge goes like this: Everyday, including weekends I have to write one page, double-spaced (I think) before I do anything else on the computer. No email, no, no Jen Crusie, and no Alastair Stephens. In other words, before I get sucked in to my daily social fix, or the promoting (read networking) that all authors have to do these days, I have to write one page. I think that’s two hundred and fifty words. (Unless it’s single-spaced and then it’s five hundred words.) I’ve already written three hundred and fifteen words in this piece.  So it’s not hard to produce a page.

My normal required word count runs between fifteen hundred and five thousand words. But I haven’t been keeping up. I’m using revisions as an excuse, but come on. I need to add content to the current wip and content only comes from writing.

So here’s my plan. In the morning, before I even get out of bed, I will fire up the laptop and write that page. Maybe I will write more than one page, but at a bare minimum one page. (And I’ll look up the official rules, double or single spaced, font size etc.) One page a day. Even in a hectic summer with life happening all around me I can manage that. If I can’t then I’m going to feel pretty pitiful. After all, it’s only a page.

Here is my challenge to you. Try writing a page a day. Even if you’re not a writer. Join the challenge at Jungle Red and write. There are prizes btw, which is probably why I’m doing it! I love prizes. So write a page a day and then come here and tell me about it.

I want to hear from you.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Disorganized Disorganization

Organized disorganization would be if I had all my chapters in one place and could put my finger on the one I wanted at any given time. Actually even if they were in different places if I could identify them and find them when I need them I'd be fine. More than fine. Peachy.

That's what I thought I had. Organized disorganization. I even thought I had them in the same file on the same flash drive. Wrong.

I have a very long chapter somewhere. VERY LONG. That. I. Can't. Find. It's possible I emailed it to myself at some point so I'll drag through my inbox shortly, but meanwhile the frustration mounts. How could I be so wrong about my organizational system? How could I lose such a huge chunk of my story? It had a giraffe in it for heaven's sake. How the heck do you lose a giraffe?

I have a difficult time organizing my novels as I'm writing them. I usually start sequentially but then some where along the line a scene pops out at me begging to be written even though I'm not there yet. So instead of a chapter number I give it a descriptive title thinking it will be easy to find later. Yeah right. By the time I've written a dozen or so out of order scenes I'm sunk. I can normally figure things out eventually, but this time I've gone beyond my normal level of ineptitude. I'm missing things.

I can't tell you how big a headache this gives me. It appears not only do I need an assistant to follow around after me and pick up the things I put down carelessly and then never can find again - I also need an assistant to keep my writing in order. File it properly after putting the date in the title and making sure I can identify which scene it is. Jeez, it makes me look incompetent!

Ah, the life of the creative mind. It's very messy.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My Incredible Rebounding Grandmother

Some of you know that my 98 year old grandmother hasn't been feeling well. She was in the hospital for six days and when she came home her condition worsened to the point she couldn't even sit up without being totally out of breath. I was worried.

Low and behold, yesterday she was able to get up without suffering from breathlessness! This morning the same thing. Grandma seems to be rebounding from this illness, which apparently was an in balance between sodium and potassium. It's amazing to me that the ratio of sodium to potassium could make such a big difference.

I'm encouraged to the point of saying that we might be able to go back to planning that 100th birthday - although my Aunt says that maybe we should just focus on 99 for the time being.

Grandma, you rock!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Love Those Girls

Before I start let me just say that I also love my boys and my youngest daughter. Just because I'm posting about the two oldest doesn't mean I don't care about the rest of you. Got that kids?

Before I start this you should probably know that we hosted a foreign exchange student last year. Mag is a wonderful girl from Belgium and she and my oldest daughter, Callan became best of friends. We were all very sad when she went back home in June.

So yesterday I posted on my facebook account something like "My oldest daughter, the genius." I'd gotten a copy of the email Yale sent her. Yale sent my daughter an email. I'm so proud I could melt. Then my daughter comments "You know it" which made me laugh.

Then Mag posted "I am the oldest daughter, Callan." You have know idea how wonderful this made me feel, besides the fact it made me laugh. That Mag feels like a part of our family touches me. That she is comfortable making jokes on my facebook posts... Well you get the picture.

I love those girls. I love their relationship to each other, that they talk via facebook everyday. Mag is this wonderful artistic young woman, Callan is into the math and science end of things. That the two of them will soon be let loose on the world is a very good thing.

Nothing but good times ahead.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Crazy Weather

I don't have much to say today, as Alastair said about himself, I suck at blogging! Well sometimes anyway.

But here is the interesting thing. I'm in the central valley of California. One of the hottest places you can be in the summer. It regularly gets to 100 degrees. But it's cooler here than it was in Vermont before I left.

It was 65 this morning. It's 85 now. Pretty nice really. Perfect summer weather with no humidity. The week before I left we were having heat warnings and horrible humidity at home.

So what's up with that? It's actually cool in the house with all the doors and windows open and the breeze wafting through. Funny.

Now I will go back and sit with my Grandma some more. She's in good spirits although weak. Her body may be failing her, but her sense of humor is still intact.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hot Friday

The trouble with blogging when you're hot and sweaty is that it's hard to be upbeat. In fact, it's hard to be anything but down right cranky. Everything is bugging me, from the squeaky riding mower my neighbor is using on my lawn to the way my clothes feel, damp and sticking to my skin, it all stinks.

But I think what's really bothering me is how long it has been since I made real progress on the wip. I really want to get this done. Send away the first three chapters and go back and revise Calif. Schemin' so it's ready for publication.

But there is no peace in the summer, no breaks from the general hubbub. Last year we did a little face lift on the kitchen, this year it's my youngest daughter's bedroom. You would not believe the amount of stuff that girl had in her room that is now shoved in hallways, bedrooms and the living room. Only the Bathrooms and the kitchen are immune. The general clutter is enough to  make anyone crazy. The add the heat. Bad, Bad, Bad. Thank your lucky stars you aren't living in this house!

I think the only thing for it is to get up at five in the morning and try to get a couple of hours of writing in while it's cool and before the crew starts waking up.

Monday, July 5, 2010

It's Too Hot for Knitting

The truth is, its too hot for anything. I live in the North East for a reason - it doesn't get hot. Yeah, right. It's so hot here now that I was reminded of my childhood in Central California. I can remember finding my mom outside on the porch in the middle of the night and wanting to sleep out there. Well, it was probably only eleven PM, but still that was the middle of the night to me, so hot I couldn't sleep. No breeze to ease the swelter.

My mom used to wet a washcloth and put it on my forehead to cool me down so I could sleep and I did that for my youngest daughter tonight too, when she came downstairs at eleven absolutely exhausted, too tired to sleep and hating the feel of the fan on her skin. I would have died for a fan when I was her age, but that's just me.

We don't have air conditioning out here because it doesn't get hot. Hah! We have two sources of heat for the winter, but we're SOL when summer comes around. Last summer I don't think it got over about 85 degrees all summer. Rained non-stop. I complained about that too. I have strict rules for summer and she just hasn't been obeying them at all. It should be between 75 and 85 degrees, sunny - although rain at night is good because then I don't have to water, and there should be a breeze - especially at night. Doesn't that seem reasonable? Seems right to me.

I did spend three hours floating down the river today. It was a good day for that, except for the parts of us that got too much sun, and the rapids that capsized me and scared one of my sons to death. That part I could have done without.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Random Friday

I put my daughter on a plane to California today. I've put her on planes before, Washington, DC, England, New York, Nova Scotia - and for longer periods of time. Last year she spent five weeks at a French immersion program at St. Anne's College, this year its ten days with my family and three weeks at Stanford. I know I'm bragging when I say my oldest is a bright kid, but it's true. She is.

But here's the thing, I was a lot more nervous about this trip than I've been about any of the others. I'm not sure why. I'm a bit better now that she's on her way, she called from Chicago to let me know she'd landed and knew where her next gate was. Soon she'll land and be in the hands of my very capable Aunt.

But there's still a voice in my head whispering that I'm losing her. And in a way maybe I am. She's growing up. In two years she'll be in college, that is if she doesn't elect to do her Senior year AT college. So she's on her way and I'm proud, but last night we held on to each other like there was no tomorrow.

I never considered myself a nostalgic mom. I'm great with letting go, being away and giving them space. But here it is in my face, this fear of losing her. Huh.

On another topic, I was walking on our road this morning. I live on a seldom traveled dirt road. In fact, I don't think I've heard more than maybe two cars go by today. Anyway, there's a hill so walking up I don't notice much but the dirt in front of my feet. Coming down I was struck again by the beauty of the place where I live. So very green, and in among the bushes sat pink flowers that no one planted. And between the breaks in the foliage gorgeous views of the distant hills. Or not so distant hills, they are just on the other side of the valley, but then there are the mountains beyond.  I missed a lot this last year, working in a room with no windows. I'm glad to be home for the summer.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Okay Book and Movie Buffs Help Me Out Here!

I need the titles of movies you think have stellar dialog.
I need the titles of movies you think have horrible dialog.

I need the titles of novels you think have stellar dialog.
I need the titles of novels you think have horrible dialog.

Why, you ask? Because I'm putting together an internet class on writing good dialog. The class is titled, thanks to my friend R., "Frankly My Dear…" Writing Unforgettable Dialog.

Conversation is one of my writing strengths. Earning money as a writer is one of my goals. Put them together and you get a class on writing conversation. Make sense? I thought so.

So I'm good at writing dialog, but I'm not comfortable using my work as examples in my class. I'd much rather use even better, and even worse work than mine. Which brings me to the above questions - I'd love your opinion. What do you think?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Food vs Emotion - Food wins every time

Here's what I don't understand: Food.

I was a tad anxious today. Unsettled. Grumpy in the morning. I have legit reasons for anxiety so I'm not worried about that at all. Its this:

I was craving food. Not just any food, the stuff I shouldn't eat. Fat and sweet. The fact that I wasn't going to let myself have those foods was making me, if anything, worse. I started craving ice cream. I needed it. I wanted it. I had to have it. If I didn't have it I was going to die of twitchy, mind exploding emotion. I could have crawled out of my own skin.

So why? I can understand alcohol, it's mind altering. It puts a damper on anxiety, at least for me. It lets all those inhibitions loose. But I have no trouble not drinking alcohol. I have maybe two drinks a year, and those I could take or leave. Drugs the same way. Don't appeal to me.

But food. Oh God. I go into withdrawal. I crave the strangest things. Diet Coke/Pepsi. Nuts. Cookies. Chocolate, of course, but most especially ice cream. Now why is that? I know sugar can alter moods and caffeine. Oh and Chocolate. But nuts? Salt of course and fats. Are fats mind altering, because truthfully I could eat avocados non-stop for a month. Sliced, mashed, guac'ed. Avocados are lovely on toast with a little salt. So it doesn't have to be ice cream, avocados work too.

As you can probably tell, I caved. I ate an ice cream sandwich in the car outside the hardware store. And I immediately felt BETTER. Not like a pill whee you have to wait 20 minutes to get rid of a headache. Immediately. Better. Twitchiness all gone. Head back where it belongs.

This really bugs me because eating ice cream isn't in my best interest. It's hell on my blood sugar. But it works. It brings me down from places a therapist can't even reach, and it does it in five seconds flat.

Okay, I give. The therapist could probably get there eventually, but who wants eventually when you can have right now? Not me, obviously. I couldn't even make it out of the hardware store. But why?

I've heard of stuffing emotions, I haven't had my head in the sand for the bast twenty-five years. But I still don't get how avocado on toast can bring immediate relief from crawling skin and the desire to leave the country. NOW.

And cream cheese with Nutella on a toasted bagel? Takes me to heaven.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wanted - Beta Readers

So here's the deal. I'm doing things a little differently for this book and I'm looking for beta readers (see definition below) who aren't actually writers. I'm thinking three or four people who are willing to read a total of about 50 pages.

Now, if you are a writer, but think you can keep your writerly instincts under control that's ok. I'm looking for comments about story, not grammar, sentence structure or spelling or character arc. That stuff is all going to change later anyway.

You should like a romance (lightly comedic) sprinkled with paranormal elements. I'm talking mermaids and magic here. Not dark creatures.

You should be willing to read electronic copy (or print it out on your own) because the printing and mailing is expensive and time consuming.

You should be willing to write me a email/post/missive about what worked for you, and what didn't. What you liked, what confused you. What was clear. What was not. Did you like the voice? Did you think the story and voice meshed. Do you think the hole thing is drivel and should be shelved. If you'd like a form to fill out I think I could come up with one if anyone asks. Otherwise it's just what comes to your mind.

The ability to ignore typos is also a good thing, because you'll be reading a draft, not finished product, and there are going to typos and interesting word choices!

BETA READER: A brave soul (male or female) that likes to read works in process and comment honestly on the contents. Truthfulness is important, and so is the ability to be truthful without being ruthless. Being specific is okay. Being mean is not.  In other words it's ok to say "I just didn't like this." It's not okay to say "Your writing stinks."  It's okay to say "I think Johnny is a shallow SOB and he needs some positive character traits." Not okay to say "What's wrong with you that you think Johnny is a guy that any of us could relate to?"  Savvy?

Apply within.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Parenting Code of Honor

The discussion over at Alastair's Paper Bullets of the Brain has been very interesting lately. He raised questions about the meaningfulness of the Chivalric Code in today's world. Is it relevant, is it not. Does trying to raise the consciousness of men necessarily demean women? Does a code that requires a certain behavior of men toward women intrinsically reduce the status of women? I think not, but there's lots of very intelligent discussion over there for you to peruse. Just don't fry your synapses. They take a while to recover.

While thinking all this deep and meaningful stuff over, I witnessed something in my own life that made me think there should be a code of conduct for parents toward their children.

1) could be distilled as - cause no physical harm

2) could read  - cause no emotional harm including shaming, belittling, yelling, threatening. Nothing but the building up of emotional worth in children allowed.


3) should read no part of this code shall require parents to stay in painful or unhealthy relations for the sake of their children. Because I believe that children learn to parrot those painful and unhealthy ways of relating.

When a woman stays in an abusive relationship to create stability for her children she teaches them some very negative ideas. Like if a man treats a woman badly she should just take it. If my mother took it, then I should take it too.

We teach our girls to sacrifice their happiness for their children. In fact we teach them to stay in abusive relationships for the sake of their own children, which is just wrong. There is a cycle of unhealthy and unhappy behavior that needs to be stopped.

And we teach our boys that it doesn't matter how they behave, their women will stay with them regardless, to give stability to their children.

I say stop it now.

The following may fall under the category of too much information. If you're squeamish about personal details you might want to stop reading now.

I've recently realized that I am living my mother's life. My mother left my angry and emotionally unstable father to marry an emotionally closed man. She stayed in that unhappy marriage until the second we all moved out and then she fled. That has been my plan. I was waiting for my youngest to turn 18 when I could flee.

When I made that plan I didn't realize that I was thus dooming my girls to repeat the whole thing again. And dooming my boys to behave like giant asses until some smart woman hits them over the head with a frying pan.

As an aside, I don't think my brothers became giant asses, so maybe boys don't become their fathers. Or maybe I have exceptionally astute brothers, I don't know which but it's probably the later.

But it's all just freaking wrong, making martyrdom for one's children a virtue. And yet my mother believed it. She advised me to stay, even after she witnessed the meanness, the smallness of spirit my husband exhibited toward our small children. Before she passed away six years ago I asked her point blank if there was any point in leaving a bad relationship and she said no. She said it was unlikely I would find anything better. Stick it out was her advice. I wish now that I hadn't listened.

Because now my children have learned to talk abusively to me, their mother. The boys and girls alike will use contempt on me in order to try and get their way. They don't get their own way, I'm not rewarding that behavior, but it appalls me that they think it's okay to talk to me like that. But I know where they learned it, and I'm stopping the cycle now.

I wish there had been a code of honor among parents when I married. I think both my husband and I would have done better if there were clear rules. Sure there are books and whatnot floating around, but what if there had been an "Order of the Enlightened Parents?" And elite group to inspire the rest of us. will clear rules - and not too many. Like my rules above. Only better, and more so. More like the Chivalric Code. A code that demanded honor among parents. A code that stated that yelling at children is smarmy. That an adult is supposed to control their own behavior when the child cannot.

Would I have been a better parent if there had been an elite group to aspire to? I think so. I'm very competitive that way. I would have wanted to belong to the Divine Group of With It and Compassionate Parents. Who wouldn't?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Endings - moved forward

I wrote this last Thursday but not much has changed sense then!

This is not a post about ending my book, although I'm getting there. No, it's that tomorrow is my last day at this job. I didn't particularly like what the school had me doing this year. Riding rough shod on teenagers who haven't learned respect. I don't just mean respect for me. They destroyed the stapler, two calculators, one of the tables I had to bring from home so they could have a decent work surface.

I really should be celebrating my release from this windowless room. It's been a hell of a year.

But the thing is. I never woke up dreading work. I wanted to be here. I enjoyed the kids most of the time. It was the shit job, the job no-one wanted. Hell, I didn't want it. But I took it, and I made it my own. My review was stellar, I'm told they like to keep me, but they aren't. No contract.

You know it hurts more than it should. Feeling unwanted. Yes, I know I shouldn't feel UNWANTED, after all it's budget cuts and all that. But it's hard not to. I liked getting to know the kids. Feeling like I made an impact on their lives. And I'm being cut loose, not just from the job but also from the money.

So it's scary and sad. And I'm mad that I'm letting it get to me.

To hell with them. I can go spread my joy somewhere else.

But hidden behind that righteous anger is the real sadness. The young woman who came into our lives and changed all of us for the better is leaving us in a few days. She'll be going home to her own family, in her own country and moving on with her life. She's off to college, to the start of a new life. I want to go too.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The LIRW Luncheon, The Good, The Bad and The Lovely

In the interest of full disclosure let me just say that I was up prior to 4 am yesterday, spent close to 14 hours driving to and from, didn't get to bed until after midnight last night, AND because my body doesn't realize the school year is over I was up at 6 am this morning. I may be a tad cranky! So If I'm out of line on any point feel free to call me on it.

Firstly, we were late. The Tom tom we were using played a huge practical joke on us and sent us into the Bronx, and we spent a good deal of time on surface streets before regaining the freeway and making our way onto Long Island, where the luncheon was held. We (my three NECRWA companions and I) arrived late and flustered and in need of the ladies room.

LIRW graciously held lunch for us. Which I thought was lovely of them. So we missed the champagne reception, and the opportunity for networking before the lunch. That was disappointing, but certainly NOT LIRW's fault. The room the luncheon was held in was beautiful, the waitstaff attentive, the food excellent. And the air conditioning kicked in at all the right times.

I sat next to Steven Zacharius of Kensington Books. He was gracious and entertaining and fielded my questions with good humor. He was a very entertaining luncheon partner, as well as the keynote speaker, and he gave me some very good advice.

The food was fabulous. Hands down the nicest lunch I've had in a while. I'd place that in the lovely category too. Now those of you who are squeamish had better cover your eyes, because the next three points are bad.

Maybe it's just me, but if you put together a luncheon for writers to have the opportunity to schmooze with editors and agents, the proper thing to do is to let the writers schmooze. One of the luncheon organizers sat on Mr.Zacharius's other side. It was obvious they knew each other well, talking and chatting of this and that. I had to rudely interrupt to get Steven's attention, a privilege I paid highly for. That was bad form in my mind. And perhaps I'm being a tad diva-ish, but I thought she should have introduced him and then stepped gracefully out of the way.  Just my opinion, but I paid $60 bucks to go to that luncheon, spent seven hours in a car getting there and I should not have had to wrestle an organizer for the opportunity to do what I had paid for. - See I told you, I'm grouchy.

The other BAD, and I personally consider this really bad, again my opinion.  I am a non-smoker. The lovely lady sitting next to me was most obviously a smoker. She disappeared at regular intervals and came back bringing a cloud of smoke with her. Okay obviously not a CLOUD but definitely the SMELL. Not something I care to ever be subjected to, but especially not while I was eating. Now, had this woman been a guest I wouldn't have been so appalled. (Okay, I would have been appalled, but not to the same degree.) Nothing the hosts can do about a guests behaviour.  But again this lady was one of the organizers. She was delightful in all other ways, but surely people who smoke realize the stench is unpleasant to non-smokers, and being a HOST to the rest of us should have lent a certain responsibility for courteous behavior that toward her guests? Again, I'm cranky, but cigarette smoke and food - YUCK!

One other Bad, not one the organizers could have done anything about. During the keynote speech, one of the agents in attendance was making rude comments - out loud. The writers don't want to hear this stuff? Well I'm a writer and I wanted to hear it. We all have been at functions where we didn't enjoy some aspect of the talk. The POLITE thing to do is to shut up, make your to do list (in your mind - again we are avoiding being rude here,) and complain about the speakers when you get back to work. Your co-workers are a fine audience for your annoyance, but to foist your opinion onto the other invited agents and editors AND on the guests who PAID for the privilege to listen to that speech. Badly Done - to quote Jane Austen. It's unlikely that the person who committed this act of abject rudeness will ever read this, or recognize herself if she does, but if you have the sneaking feeling this was you: Shame on you. You're mother would be very disappointed!

Hmm, maybe I should be interning with Miss Manner's instead of writing novels, except I have a sneaking feeling this post would also be considered rude!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I wrote this last Thursday but not much has changed sense then!

This is not a post about ending my book, although I'm getting there. No, it's that tomorrow is my last day at this job. I didn't particularly like what the school had me doing this year. Riding rough shod on teenagers who haven't learned respect. I don't just mean respect for me. They destroyed the stapler, two calculators, one of the tables I had to bring from home so they could have a decent work surface.

I really should be celebrating my release from this windowless room. It's been a hell of a year.

But the thing is. I never woke up dreading work. I wanted to be here. I enjoyed the kids most of the time. It was the shit job, the job no-one wanted. Hell, I didn't want it. But I took it, and I made it my own. My review was stellar, I'm told they like to keep me, but they aren't. No contract.

You know it hurts more than it should. Feeling unwanted. Yes, I know I shouldn't feel UNWANTED, after all it's budget cuts and all that. But it's hard not to. I liked getting to know the kids. Feeling like I made an impact on their lives. And I'm being cut loose, not just from the job but also from the money.

So it's scary and sad. And I'm mad that I'm letting it get to me.

To hell with them. I can go spread my joy somewhere else.

But hidden behind that righteous anger is the real sadness. The young woman who came into our lives and changed all of us for the better is leaving us in a few days. She'll be going home to her own family, in her own country and moving on with her life. She's off to college, to the start of a new life. I want to go too.

Clara of the Sea

The problem is my protagonist, Clara. Clara has been missing a last name since I started writing her story. I figured it would come to me, somewhere in the text and then I would just have to go back and fill it in where ever it seemed necessary. I'm pages away from finishing this book and still no name.

I've thought of a fake name for her, one that her mother uses when she puts her on TV. But her own true surname still alludes me. I'm thinking it has something to do with the sea.

Clara's "TV" Name is Ariel Marina. Clara's mom isn't all that original, she just wants her daughter's name to sound pretty and exotic and be reminiscent of mermaids.

Clara's real name is harder for me. I want it to be about the ocean, but not obviously so. I'm thinking Valtameri - but that doesn't sound right with Clara. Clara Valtameri. Nope. Try again. How about Clara Karagatan. That might work. Okyanas. Clara Okyanas? Mor? Clara Mor. Unfortunately the o has a tent over it and I don't know the correct keystroke to make that work, so maybe that's not the choice for me. Clara Moore. Mor is Welsh, Farraige is Irish.

You can see the problem, there are too many possibilities! It has to have a ring to it, and it has to connect her to the sea. I'll be at this all day!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Name that Dialog

I'm putting together a class on dialog and need a catchy title for it.

Snappy dialog that...
smart talking
chipper chatter?

All REALLY bad.

Got any ideas?

Blatant Self Promotion

More Blatant Self Promotion (aka Shameless self Promotion)

Hi all, Stop by the Author's Show on Monday, June 7th - where Don McCauley will be interviewing me. It's not live so you can check it out any time that day.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Book Within a Book

Yesterday I found myself writing a book within a book. Quoting passages from a non-existent book in my current wip. The funny thing is that story has become very clear in my mind. So even though I've written maybe five paragraphs, the rest of the novel is floating around in my brain, begging the question "Is this a story I need to write?"

I could write it. It's probably only a novella. I shudder as I say this knowing I am tempting fate. I say a novella and the universe laughs and feeds a bunch more into my head making it an epic 150000 word novel. Or something horrible like that.
But the question really is should I take the time to write it. Would it be interesting to anyone but me? That's pretty much an unanswerable question. No one has seen the first story, so how could I know if they are interested in the second, nested within it? I don't know, and I have so many other projects that need to be written that the smart thing would be to ignore this one. But it keeps bumping up against the edges of my brain; trying to work its way out in such a way that I'm not sure I'm going to be able to ignore it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

So close I can taste it!

I haven't counted my word totals in a while. Those weeks where I wasn't writing due to other commitments loomed large in my head. I didn't feel like I was making progress. But I had a couple of good days this week where the writing was easy and the word counts mounted up so I thought I'd check out my total. I don't always write linearly, sometimes a scene pops up out of sequence and I open a new document. At the moment I have fourteen separate documents that I'll have to meld together into one.

So I wrote down the fourteen word counts and added them together: Get this - 58037. That's nearly two thirds of the way through. Two thirds. I could conceivably be done in another month. It'll probably be two because I just don't get that much quiet time to write, especially in the summer, but still I'm getting another book finished.

What you may not understand is that this is amazing to me. Not that I finished one book, that's like me to take on a huge project and push through it. But then I also took on a second and finished it, and now a third, plus I have about half another book waiting for me to go back to it. I'm a fickle person. My usual MO in life is to master something and move on. Or not even master, sometimes it's just complete it and then move on. Or, even more often, Complete one, start on a second or a third and then just abandon it, because I'm bored with it now. Or I can't find the time. I have a quilt in pieces in my sewing box. A cross stitch 90 percent complete. An afghan in pieces - I may just say that they are scarfs and let it go at that. A crochet Boa scarf I havent' completed because I just don't have the time. But the books - they are getting finished.

Interesting. Part of it may be due to the fact that I now have readers. And they write and ask for the next book, setting up an expectation that I need to fulfill.  But mostly I think it's because the writing is a part of me in a way that the other projects aren't. It allows me to communicate, to use my humor and wit (what there is of it) to entertain. And God knows I love to get a laugh.

So there it is. 58037. Pretty darn good if I say so myself. It brings me more pleasure than I can say. And that makes ME laugh.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Sentimental Journey

I don’t usually consider myself sentimental. I don’t get choked up at the usual milestones. Kids going off for their first day of Kindergarten? Yippee! Sixteen year old get’s her license and can drive herself back to school to get her forgotten school work? Finally! Kids can put themselves to sleep? Hey, I can go to bed before they do! Can’t beat that. So imagine my surprise when I found myself tearing up at the sight of a hall full of our high school seniors in cap and gown.

Granted our Foreign Exchange Student was in that group, and it’s a reminder that she’ll be leaving us soon. But it was more than that. One of my best friends’ sons was in the group. There were a bunch of students I’ve gotten to know over this last year in a way that wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t worked in the school. Still, me? Tearing up? What’s going to happen in a couple of years when my oldest graduates? I’m going to flood the school.

I have this funny ache in my chest that has taken me completely by surprise, and not even I can put a funny spin on that. I’m going to miss this group of miscreants.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

See me over at Frances Stockton's Blog

I'm over at Frances Stockton's blog talking about some of my creative processes. Come on over and make a comment. - I'm feeling all alone!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

So why aren't I writing again?

I'm finished Judging the seven books I committed to for the Daphne pubbed division. Let me tell you, reading, rating and commenting on seven books in three weeks is not easy. You wouldn't think it would be hard, but it is. Why it's hard is complicated, but is partially due to the subjectiveness of judging. What I love another judge may hate. And while that doesn't really affect my scoring, it affects how I feel about the how I score. It's mental work, and if you don't happen to like the book you're judging it's grueling. Because you have to finish. You can't just put it down and move on.

Having finished yesterday I thought I might be able to get back to Glimmer Girls today. But I haven't recovered. I still have all these other stories floating in my head, getting in the way of the magic I need for Clara and Dilly. I should have my soundtrack with me, but it's sitting on my bedside table with the story I was listening to. Soundtrack at home, Collage at home, eyes at half mast. How in the world can I write?

One word at a time.

I may not make my minimum word count today. But in this situation I think I have to forgive myself the word count and just focus on moving forward. One lousy word at a time. Because this isn't going to be one of those easy days when the words pour out. I'm going to have to drag them to the page, kicking a screaming and stick them there with glue.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Garbage in my Head

As you may, or may not, know, I'm a regular reader of Jenny Crusie and Lucy March's blogs. I think I'm a little like both of these women. Jenny because she writes and she's crafty, Lucy because she's making changes and making her life better.

Lucy is fearless in a way that I am not. She's been willing to look at the junk in the trunk and throw some of it out. In the process she discovered that she likes running. Wow.

I have a lot of trash floating around in my head.
On the whole, I'm optimistic, like people, find life engaging. In fact I think my basic personality is pretty positive. When I was a small child, before my life got complicated, I used to wake up singing in the morning. A friend of mine claims I still do that when I stay at her house, but I don't remember doing it. There just this small bubble of joy that comes out when I'm relaxed and freed from the daily stresses. That's the good stuff.

The garbage in my head, that's the bad stuff. I am harder on myself than any other person in the world. Meaning I'm harder on myself than I am on others, harder on myself than they are on me.

What I was going to write is that I lie to myself. But I don't really think I do. I sugar coat some things. I'm used to beating myself up if I relax instead of doing one of the million things on the to do list. But I'm going to stop that. Everyone is allowed to have down time, for gosh sakes. Even me.

The garbage in my head has a lot to do with shoulds. I should put my kids before myself. I should make more money. Maybe that's more practical, I need to make more money - or spend less. I've stopped thinking I should cook, I should clean. I shouldn't. I do, because it's less hassle than not doing it would be, but really - I think other's in the house could chip in more. I am after all, working full time, writing as much as I can, taking care of 5 kids at the moment. But I do what I need to do keep a certain level of peace and order.

I'm beginning to think there isn't so much garbage in my head after all. Pressure, yes. Plenty of pressure. Garbage, not so much anymore. I'm getting better at tossing that out as it shows up.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Life Crazy

I put Eleanor Rigby on my play list for Glimmer Girls. I thought at first it was a version of Life Crazy. But I'm listening now and I see the connection. Clara, in the midst of so much attention is lonely. Dilly, sequestered away and kept from the world - lonely. Johnny, who can't commit to a relationship because all his energy goes to keeping his sister safe and happy. Molly, working her but off to keep the hotel running, but she really loves to paint.

Clara comes into their lives and changes everything. For the better in the end. I hope. But before she comes it's Eleanor Rigby.

Emotion is so important to the story, it drives my characters actions. The need to feel better. So it's good I can feel those things.

The problem is that when life crazy floods ME with emotions I can't write. The feelings sit in the pit of my stomach, making me feel sick. When I feel sick I want to go to bed and pull the covers over my head.

Isn't it interesting that the very feelings I need to feel in order to write characters that readers relate to cause me to shut down, keep me from writing. I've always had too much emotion for my brain to process. I retreat, pull in on myself, hide. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I don't have the time or opportunity to spend days holed up in bed hiding from the current version of Life Crazy.

I've committed myself to writing through the crazy - at least for this week.

On another note, I discovered yesterday that I can write a five hundred word essay in twenty minutes, even though it takes me all day to write fifteen hundred words of a novel. So along with committing myself to writing through the crazy I'm also going to write for an hour straight out every morning before doing anything else. I hope this is not doomed to failure. To get an hour of quiet in the morning means the getting up at five am routine. I'm not good at that.

To tell the truth I think the reason it takes me all day to reach my word quota is that I'm writing in a room full of teenage kids. Five in the morning is starting to look much saner than when I first mentioned it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Not Writing Week

In case the title isn't clear, I'm not writing this week. It's not an intentional Not-Writing-Week. I started in a blue funk over some uncontrobable thing, moved into reading for a writer friend who wanted some advice and ended with oh-here's-California-Schemin' and you-need-to-make-some-changes from my California expert and line editor de jour, Lisa.

I'll get another set of changes before too long from my other line editor de jour, but hopefully they won't be a bunch different from Lisa's. But they may not be too different from the ones I already have. I hope. I hope alot.

So I haven't writen one word of Glimmer Girls. Really. Not one word. It's kind of hard to make word counts when I'm not writing. Duh. As it happens I'm not getting the Glimmer Girls mood this week either. I haven't got a sound track yet, and the collage isn't finished. So my usual fail-safes for getting into the mood, aren't in place.

The weekend is here so I'll push myself to stay up late and do a sound track. The collage is harder, because I need certain kinds of pictures on glossy paper. I usually use magazines, but there's a certain magic element that isn't common in gossips rags. I may have to break down and print color pics off the internet onto photo paper. Expensive, but there is a NEED for it.

Being a poor writer sucks sometimes. If I was flush I could just go to joannes or michaels and buy lovely scrapbook items to put on my collage. I have to be more creative than that, which is okay, but takes time. As time is skint too, I have to get really creative and manufacture time and materials and stories. After all it's all about stories. People in my head that refuse to go away unless I write about them.

The Glimmer Girls voices are surprisingly silent this week. I doubt that will last.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bree MacGowan Rides Again!

It's come to my attention that I never blogged the good news about Bree. Having unloaded my guts onto the internet many wonderful people came to my rescue and bought enough copies of Moonlighting to make my editor reconsider. She's willing to read California Schemin' and publish it if it's any good.

California Schemin' is the second of the Bree MacGowan Mysteries, I'm hoping you all enjoy it. I hear the second book is nerve wracking for a writer. Trying to get the right mood, making it as good etc. It certainly is making me nervous - Did I write a good enough book?

I guess we'll see how I did when the book comes out!

And Thank you, to everyone who bought Moonlighting. My readers are the best.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday Ticker on Glimmer Girls

It's bad. Very bad. Total word count as of today: 30797. That puts me a third of the way through the book. So very slow....

As you may have heard the new title (for now) is Glimmer Girl. Titles are always up for grabs until the book is on the press. At that point you're pretty much stuck with it.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this blog today - I've got a lot of book to finish!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Glimmer Girls

I don't have anything worth saying today so I'm giving you an excerpt from Glimmer Girls/Shimmer/Mermaid Girls. It's ROUGH. A very first draft (mostly). And as some of you know I can't spell, and I don't get funny until the second or third time around. In other words, this is probably not worth reading. But as only three people read my blog anyway...

Once upon a time, future or past, a young woman of about twenty-five stood in a dreary dressing room and grew a back bone. She faced down the one person whose approval she had always craved, whose advice she had always taken: her mother, Daisy. She looked her mother in the eye, and for the first time ever she said “no.” It was about time. Her name was Clara.

“No, mother, I won’t go on.” Clara stood with her back to the mirror, feet planted arms crossed. “I done with being the local freak show.”

“But Clara, dearest.” Her mother reached out and caressed one o f the red-gold curl that had found their way out of the up-do and onto Clara’s shoulder. “The camera is always so kind to you. And what will Fernando say if you don’t appear?” Daisy was smaller than her daughter, dark haired against Clara’s fair head. She was full of tenacity, used to getting it all her way.

“I’m not the slightest bit worried about Fernando, mother. He will make the best of it, as a good talk show host would. Go yourself, and tell the world of the difficulties of having a willful child for a change. I’m sure they are tired of my oddities by now.

“Oh Clara.” Her mother was clearly exasperated. “You know they won’t believe me if you aren’t there to show them.”

“They’ve all seen me, Daisy. You’ve had me on TV at least twice a year since the day I was born. I’m not going out there.”

“Very well, Clara, but it’s on your head alone if I’m a laughing stalk.” The way Daisy squared her shoulders as she left the room would have made Clara laugh if she’d been in a laughing mood. Like she’s going to meet the executioner. But lord knows the audiences have always loved her. A gasp of sympathy would erupt whenever Clara was unveiled. Outbursts of compassion would come during the question and answer segments. Daisy would be just fine.

Clara looked in the dressing room mirror. As a defect, it wasn’t so awfully bad. I have all my limbs. It was the mantra she’d used since she could remember, staving off the loathing a despair that she felt whenever she was paraded around, the local freak show. And I have a pretty face. I’m not fat or stupid. It’s rather pretty, really, like a neon necklace. But the undeniable reality was that she’d been born with fish scales covering parts of her body.

The scales shimmered. A lacy pattern of blue and green, like peacock feathers, or multicolored tetra fish. A delicate necklace of scales circled her neck falling across the tops of her shoulders into a V between her breasts. Intricate overlapping patterns cascaded down her back ending with elaborate curly cues along her waist.

Clara pulled her customary, short sleeve, mock turtleneck on over the low cut, backless dress that her mother made her wear for TV. She hailed a cab outside the studio and went home to pack her bags. She’d been shilling for her mother since she could remember, spending hours in green rooms and sitting under television lights. She’d gotten a BFA, specializing in graphic arts, by studying in dressing rooms, and while traveling on busses and trains. She wanted nothing more than to get out of the city, find a town where no one had the slightest interest in her and get on with life

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Ticker and the Mermaid Girls Title List

Word count as of This morning: 27066. Dismal really. But hey, progress is progress. I will do better!

On a more interesting topic here is the short list of titles. I’m not sure we’ve got it yet, but I’d love you to weigh in. Do you like any of these? Are you feeling there is something better? If you need a feel for the story look back to my first title blog:

I have a favorite, but I’m not telling yet. Got a better idea? Please share.

Clara Mia
Dear Johnny
Out of the Blue
Johnny Be Good
Sea Spells
Clara Mia Mine
Glimmer Girls
Glimmer Girl

Come on now - I want to hear what you think. If you don't like any of them say so! It's no skin off my nose, most of them were thought up by someone else!! (sorry guys.)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Workshop that Wasn't

This weekend I taught a workshop at the NECRWA Let Your Imagination Take Flight Yearly Conference. Did I say taught? Muddled through would be more accurate. Now none of the participants complained, they didn't know what I was capable of doing, thank goodness, but I do. I stank.

This is something I don't understand about myself. When I'm on, I'm on. Funny, energetic, fabulous vocabulary. When I'm off, forget it. I lose my place in the lecture, can't remember words, ramble on. It's pitiful. And that was me yesterday. When I was done I would have happily crawled under a rock.

So I'm asking myself, what went wrong? Stage fright? No not really. I've been mulling it over and here's what I think:

First of all, I should have stood up. They were taping all the workshops, (They can throw mine out) and I was tied to a microphone at a table. I do much better when I stand up. My thoughts are clear, I project better. There is something about standing in front of the audience that clicks in my head and signals my brain to kick in.

Secondly, the audience. It was small. six people. We should have been sitting around a small table, not spread throughout a confernce room. The room wasn't set up for a small group and it would have me much more comfortable to talk to this group, rather than lecture.

I should have asked for a longer time slot. My workshop required the attendees to write and then share their writing. That takes time. We ran out.

Lastly preparation. I was over prepared in some areas and under in others. I need to even it out. Also, I let workshops I went to before hand influence me. I kept wanting to incorporate what others had said into my talk. I should have stuck to my original outline.

So there you go. Do I think it will help for next time? Honestly? No. I know myself. Sometimes I'm on. Most of the time I'm on. But when I'm not - well forget it. There was nothing I could do. I already had on my scrunchy black cowboy boots and lucky underwear. If they couldn't save me there was nothing I could do.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It's all in the Title - Free-for-aller and Monday Ticker

Very little Progress this Monday. I'm up to 21,306. In my own defense I want to say that I was working on a synopsis and contest entry essay last week, as well as Mermaid Girls.

Speaking of Mermaid Girls here is The Infamous List of Titles:

Water Baby
Gasping for Air
Plenty of Fish
Swim Fare
Out of the ordinary
Clara Mia
Dive Right In
Skin Deep
Head above Water
sink or Swim
Dancing Downstream
Different Strokes
Back Stroking
Swim Meet
Dear Johnny
Out of the Blue
Swim Practice
Johnny Be Good
In the Swim
Net Worth
Beneath the Surface
All that Glitters
HIdden Treasure
A different Magic
The Clara Charm
The Clara Quest
Sea Spells
Land Locket
Out of the Ocean
Heraldy and the Purple reality
Gleam a little Gleam
Deram A little Gleam
Sweet Gleems
Clara Mia Mine
Glimmer Girls
Rise and shine
Sparkle and Shine
Mermaid Sightings
More Than Mermaids
Gleam Girls
Fish Sticks
Tower of Mabble
Fish Stems
Flower of Mabble

I'll start narrowing it down tomorrow! Unless someone else wants to jump in and play!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I'm loving the titles coming in on my last post. Hope to see some more come in.  But while we're waiting I wanted to say something about perception.

My dogs are obnoxious. They bark at everyone that goes by, if they know them or not. It irritates me, not because of the noise, but because I think it makes me a bad neighbor.

I have a neighbor with horses. Heck I have lots of neighbors with horses. One particular man drives his draft horses past on a regular basis. I used to tell him to call me before he came past my house and I'd bring the dogs in. He looked at me like I was crazy.

"You're dogs are helping me to make the horses bomb proof." ( a bomb proof horse is trained to resist it's instincts to run when its afraid. They are steady, predictable and win more driving competitions than horses who aren't.) (do I have my it's (its) mixed up?)

So there you have it. My perception is that my dogs are a pain to my neighbors.

His perception is that it's handy to have obnoxious dog up the road because it helps him train his horses.

I have no idea what the other neighbors think of us. Probably they aren't to worried about our dogs. They have their own quirks and probably think we think they are obnoxious. Luckily we live in the country so we aren't on top of each other, and really, I have the best neighbors in the world.

Friday, March 19, 2010

It's all in the Title - Freeforall!

I don't feel I'm particularly good at titles. I've called my current WIP Mermaid Girls, but it's sort of misleading and doesn't let on that the book is full of witty dialog and the possiblity of magic, so I'm opening it up.  Got an idea? Feel free to post!

I’m currently working on a romance set in a world where the possibility for the paranormal exists. It’s not everyday, but still stuff happens. In fact, it’s possible that my protagonist’s father is a mermaid. So far it hasn’t been said, but I think maybe there’s a merman out there with a taste for legs.

Clara was born with scales. Here’s a description from the WIP:

“As a defect, it wasn’t so awfully bad. I have all my limbs. It was the mantra she’d used since she could remember, staving off the loathing a despair that she felt whenever she was paraded around, the local freak show. And I have a pretty face. I’m not fat or stupid. It’s rather pretty, really, like a neon necklace. But the undeniable reality was that she’d been born with fish scales covering parts of her body.

The scales shimmered. A lacy pattern of blue and green, like peacock feathers, or multicolored tetra fish. A delicate necklace of scales circled her neck falling across the tops of her shoulders into a V between her breasts. Intricate overlapping patterns cascaded down her back ending with elaborate curly cues along her waist.”

Clara’s mother, Daisy, has taken advantage of Clara’s ‘deformity’ by parading her around to TV talk shows, gossip rags, medical magazines – using any media source to get attention, not for Clara’s sake, but to satisfy her own need for attention.

At the start of the story Clara has finally developed a back bone. She will shill for her mother no more. Clara packs up and moves north a hundred miles to the quaint and faintly magical town of Mabble. In Mabble Clara meets Johnny, a restorer of antique carousel animals. (my apologies to Jennifer Crusie, who I believe has something similar in a current release. I didn’t do it on purpose and if people object I’ll try and figure out a new occupation for him. I hope not though, because I’ve written a lot about Johnny!)

Clara and Johnny become a team, searching for her vocation in life. Or rather her avocation – a prudent judge required Daisy to set aside money for Clara until she turned 25. They grow to know and like each other while exposing Clara to new experiences.

Johnny doesn’t know Clara has scales. Clara doesn’t know Johnny has a little sister, Dilly, who could be her double, including scales. Dilly’s mother has isolated her from the rest of the world, and lives in fear of the physical defect ever being exposed.

Johnny is not without his faults; he has avoided relationships with women because of his sister, but tends to be a bit of a hit-and-run artist with the women.

Clara has some trouble with men who are attracted to her because she has money. She also has trouble developing any kind of intimacy because she’d rather not show off her scales ever again.

I’ll leave it there. There’s a lot of witty dialog. Hopefully some fun. Happy ending of course, but I don’t want to give too much away.

** I forgot, I tend to write light, kinda funny, kinda sexy stuff. I'm not Jenny by any means, but I titles like hers would be fine!**