Thursday, June 30, 2011


First, before posting my thoughts for the day, I want to apologize to everyone who checks into our blog. I have been missing this last week or more and today’s post is late. I am just getting back up to speed. My computer was hacked by LulzSec. That’s the same group who broke into the CIA and the US Senate. Maybe I should be honored to be in such a group, though it has wrecked days out of my life. They have now arrested a 19 year-old man in Great Britain who is one of the ring-leaders. What a waste of incredible brain power.

But, hopefully, I am now back! So, on with our topic of the day- What Does It Take?

We all have our crutches. I have a writer friend who can’t even think of sitting at her computer until she has a cup of coffee in a particular mug- only that mug. I have another colleague who listens to music, changing it for the type of scene she is writing. I know of someone else who has a small bowl of chocolates right at hand, never letting the supply run out. I know another who gets up, showers, puts on make-up, hair perfect and then works alone all day. My list is so small—nothing.

I want no music. I don’t eat chocolate (no virtue here, just don’t like it). I hate when the TV is on. But I do have to worry about email, the phone and the two Golden Retrievers at my feet. But none of those help my writing.

What does? What helps getting the words flowing on the page?

For me it’s quiet. It’s the time I set aside to write and not let the rest of world slip in. No music, no interruptions, just writing. But, I work at home. What does that mean? It means the electrician, the yard man, the….well, you know what I am saying. There is the impression that I’m not really working.

So, my question is this, and many of you have answered this before so bear with me, how do you manage it? Kari, you are great at having a schedule and sticking to it- but do you answer the phone? Liz, you are incredible at setting aside the right amount of time to get the next chapter written. Anita and Barbie Jo- I could list how you pull it off.

So, what works for you? How do you write and what gets you going?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kari's Kave: a Review by Any Other Name Would NOT Smell Just As Sweet!

It's so hard when you write in a brand new genre than what you're used to. When I first discovered cozy mysteries several years ago, I loved reading them. After a while I thought Hmmm, I wonder if I could ever write one. And then I thought, What the hell. I'll never know unless I give it a shot. So then that's exactly what I did.

The point is there are so many fabulous authors out there who write cozy mysteries. It's intimidating. You can't stop wondering, Will people like my book? Is it any good? What if it bombs? And soon that leads to, Oh my God I suck! People are going to hate my book! That's it. It's going to fail for sure.

RT is like Publishers Weekly. They give reviews, but they are tough. Publishers submit to these before a book debuts, but that doesn't guarantee they will even get a review. And of course the first review that comes in for me is from RT.

The fabulous Christine Wenger saw my review and clued me in! I haven't stopped smiling since :-) For the first time, I truly believe maybe my book doesn't suck after all. Maybe it IS good. Maybe it really will do well. And most importantly, maybe people really will be entertained and like it! We as authors are often insecure because our writing is a reflection of who we are. Well let me tell you people, I feel totally validated.

I posted the review below and RT's star system below that so you can see exactly WHY I am so excited :-)

Wish me luck, folks. Tempest comes out August 2nd!

4 1/2 Stars from RT

Fun and fortunetelling await readers in this first-rate debut mystery featuring a young and feisty psychic. Mitch is the perfect adversary for Sunny, and their constant bantering provides plenty of madcap situations to entertain readers. Great pacing, characters and a surprisingly good conclusion make this new series absolute fun!

Psychic Sunny Meadows is leaving the Big Apple and moving to Divinity, NY, to open her own fortunetelling business. Sunny's first customer is a frantic librarian, Amanda Robbins. When Sunny reads her tea leaves, she sees impending doom. Sunny notifies the police, but it's too late and Amanda is found dead. The police are skeptical and name her a prime suspect. To clear her name, she must work with Detective Mitch Stone to uncover the real killer.

4 1/2 Gold - Phenomenal. In a class by itself.
4 1/2 - Fantastic. A keeper.
4 - Compelling. A page-turner.
3 - Enjoyable. A pleasant read.
2 - Problematic. May struggle to finish.
1 - Severely flawed. Pass on this one.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Not at RWA

A lot of writers are at RWA now. I debated, but in the end just couldn't swing the money. And I truly need to be writing like a mad woman. So instead of feeling sorry for myself, I'm going to try to buckle down and get some work done. I've finally broken through the walls on both the mystery and the paranormal romantic suspense. Yay! What an incredible feeling when you finally see the story in a new light and start moving forward instead of spinning in your tracks. So I'm going to write as much as I can so I can get these darned books finished. Next year, I'll be at RWA with my party hat on. Hubby may go with me. This is a short post today since as Liz mentioned yesterday, not many will pop in with all the NYC excitement. Hope everyone there has fun, and may the rest of us be productive here!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Liz's Lair: Encore Vacation Blog

Since I figured most of y'all would be at Nationals or on your way to NY and I'm at beautiful Lake Conroe with myfamily, I decided not to waste some of my excellent advice when no one will probably even click on M & M today, me included. So, I'm going to repost an earlier blog. Sometimes I scare myself with my wisdom!! See for yourself.

When I was thinking what I would blog about today, I tried to remember some of the things I see in contests and comment on. Since I judge at least four contests a year, (not always the same genre) I see a lot of different writing styles. It's my way of getting even for all the crappy scores I've received.

Just kidding - about the getting even, not the less-than-genius scores I've received. In my case, I usually got at least one judge who thought I was the next Evanovich and one who advised me to keep my day job. I've been told it was because I had a strong voice - a politically correct way of saying some love me, some would rather see me back in a nurse's uniform.

So, I try to really be tolerant when I judge an entry. There's a way of pointing out an error and giving a suggestion on how to fix it without shattering the person's self esteem in the process. Sometimes, the only good thing I could say about the writing is that they handled POV well, but at least, it's something positive. In today's economy, people are entering fewer contests, so I try to give them the best bang for their buck

But there's one thing I never let go unnoticed when I see it in an entry.

Nothing gets my blood boiling faster when I'm watching TV or reading a story than having a person with access to the public putting out their political and/or religious views like it was bible (pun intended.) I don't care if you're a Democrat, a Republican or like me, somewhere in between, or if you practice Buddhism or Catholicism. I gave up my time and money to be entertained - so entertain me. If I wanted politics, I'd watch one of the news channels.

Stereo-typing is something else I see sometimes in contests - another no no. I try to remind the writer as gently as I can how many people their words may offend on so many difference levels. And in my opinion, (it's my post, you have to listen. Your opinions will come in the comments.) if even one person refuses to buy your book because of something you wrote, that's one too many. And what we may not realize is that there are readers as well as other writers who buy a lot of books out there reading our Facebook entries and Tweets. I can think of one really big name author, a favorite of mine, who will no longer get the price of her next novel out of me because of exactly what I'm talking about. A certain recording artist also got nixed from my "have to have" list. I know I'm only one person, but I have to think if it made me mad, chances are it affected a few others the same way.

So, every one of us needs to be more aware of making sure there is nothing in our stories that could offend anyone. I use a lot of "Bubbas" as villains. Usually, they're comic relief. I think I'm okay with that because nobody really thinks he's a "Bubba", or as Jeff Foxworthy says - "You're a redneck IF...."

Here's an example of Redneck Water-Skiing in Texas. A visual is better than a thousand words!!!

Enough serious stuff. It's time to add a little humor to the subject. I confess to receiving these over the Internet and have no idea whom to credit.

To be politically correct, remember:

She isn't a BABE or a CHICK. She's a breasted American.
She isn't EASY. She's horizontally accessible.
She's not a DUMB BLOND - She's a light-haired detour off the Information Superhighway.

And my personal favorite:

That's not his Line of Demarcation hanging out of the back of his pants. It's rear cleavage.(I actually put that in my latest book.)

Come on, people, you know you're smiling. Now comment on being politically correct in general or any good ones to add to my list.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Barbie Jo's Bunkhouse: Say Hello to Lola

Happy Friday once again! Today is the day you all get to meet my muse, Lola! Thanks to Kari Lee Townsend and Sarah Pearson and Donna Cummings my muse now has a name. kari actually started it off with Lolita, then Sue beat Donna to the blog with Lola. And Lola it is! Totally suits her. Come see for yourself.

Me: Welcome to the M&M blog, Lola!

Lola: Thanks. I see Liz posted a fantastic recipe for Cake, but where’s the coffee? Why isn’t there a Starbuck’s on THIS corner.

Me: Hmm…is someone a little cranky today?

Lola: Whatever. How long is this going to take anyway?

Me: Why, you got a hot date I don’t know about?

Lola: You’re funny. We’ve actually got the second half of a book to plot, in case you don’t remember.

Me: Oh yeah…..I’ve been working on index cards, that counts right?

Lola: Sure. But we are supposed to be working on “the board”. But instead you are interviewing me. Priorities, Barbie Jo. Just sayin’.

Me: Wow. Way to be hurtful. It’s all writing related, so relax. Don’t go getting all blocked on me just because of a little interview.

Lola: You block yourself. I’m always here.

Me: Yeah, right, unless you’re out on a “date”. And speaking of which, do you think you’ll ever end up in one of my books? Do you have enough influence to do that?

Lola: You have a couple cozy mysteries where I wouldn’t mind getting cozy with the leading man, if you know what I mean.

Me: Oh, you like those guys do you? Sorry to disappoint you, but they have other “interests” if YOU know what I mean.

Lola: Maybe someday you can find the perfect guy for me to have a romance with.

Me: What are your requirements and I’ll think about it.

Lola: he’s got to be musical, and strong – I like those six-packs and guns! (although a six pack of corona and a glock can totally get them noticed!) A sense of humor is a good thing, but I want someone who can spar with me and not cry like a baby.

Me: you can’t make the hero cry, that’s just not right.

Lola: Then don’t write a wimpy-ass hero! Alpha male or go home!!

Me: Aaand… you should know I have a hard time with those.

Lola: which is precisely why you need to write one. You have to get better at it. Your CP can’t carry you in the alpha department forever you know.

Me: Again with the hurtful?

Lola: Just trying to get you to toughen up.

Me: Riiight. And I think this is going to conclude our interview for today. I don’t need my writing weaknesses splattered all over blogdom. Say bye-bye, Lola.

Lola: Whaat?? We just got started, and besides I used your smartphone to locate a starbucks. Why don’t we pick this up on location? You know you want to. I can easily distract you….

Me: Sorry, Lola, maybe some other time. I will go get the coffee, if you hang out with our friends on M&M and answer any questions they might have for you. And BE NICE!!!

Lola: Hey, sure! Bring it people! Game on, and I’m here all day!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cassy's Corner: Stupid Freakin' Computer

Okay, it's me..not Cassy. She is experiencing technical problems and is unable to post today. So, I thought I would jump in and post one of the recipes from LIVER LET DIE for the July 4th festivities. In the story, Myrtle owns the local diner and one of my characters is always trying to steal her recipes. This is her famous Mandarin Orange Cake and I promise, it's yummy and so cool for a hot day.

Here it is: Enjoy.

Myrtle’s Mandarin Orange Cake

For the cake:

1 package yellow cake mix
1 can (11 ounces)mandarin oranges with juices
½ cup cooking oil
4 large eggs, beaten

For the topping:

1 container (16 ounces)Cool Whip
1 can (8 ounces)crushed pineapple with juices
1 box (1.4 ounces)vanilla instant pudding, dry

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 baking pan. In a large mixing bowl combine the cake mix, mandarin oranges and juices, cooking oil, and eggs. Blend on low speed for one minute. Continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes until mixture is smooth. Pour into the greased dish and bake as indicated on the box. Cake is done when toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool completely (approximately 30 minutes.) To make the topping, combine all of the topping ingredients and mix well by hand. Do not use a mixer. Spread the topping on top of the cake and store in the refrigerator until ready for serving.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kari's Kave: Feeling like Quasi Motto These Days? I've Got Some Tips For You!

Okay, so this post was all written nice and early this morning, but then my computer decided to restart itself and I lost everything. ugh. Then I had to take a break and get the kiddies off to their last half day of school. Tomorrow they go in for just one hour, and then they are done for the summer. But now I'm back and attempting this again. Holy cow, I just posted this but no links showed up. I can't believe I have to edit this again! Okay, links still aren't showing up for some reason, so I'm going to type the websites and you can copy and paste the ones you want to look. Sorry folks, this doesn't seem to be my day :-(

You all know I have been a writing maniac lately. Works great for my deadline...not so great for my health. I have back problems. A friend told me she stands while she works, so I moved my laptop to the island in my kitchen. Perfect height and it worked like a charm. No more back pain. But then my legs and feet started hurting from standing still. I felt like I needed to move.

I suddenly remembered Cassie telling me about a work station she bought and used. And then I remembered a woman from my writing chapter who mentioned a Tread Desk. So I decided to do some research.

I started with a Tread Desk which involves an adjustable desk you can raise when you want to stand and lower when you want to sit. It sits over top of a flat treadmill. The treadmill only goes up to 2 for a speed setting so that you can adjust the speed to easily type while you walk. And when you sit, you just turn off the treadmill and sit your chair right on top of it. It looks like a simple flat mat.

Here's the link:

Then I moved on to an actual Walk Station which involves a whole unit. The desk also raises and lowers over a treadmill, but this treadmill is thicker and this desk is a little more involved. Indent for a keyboard. Monitor that is raised to eye level so no neck or eye strain like you get with looking down at a laptop.

Here's the link:

And then I started thinking which would be better. Laptop on desk or computer monitor at eye level. So I looked into ergonomic tips for these walk stations.

Here's the link:

When all was said and done, I realized these suckers are damned expensive. Maybe in the future I'll sell enough books to afford one. In the meantime, I will combine my island and standing with my treadmill on a low speed and walking by making my own version of a tread desk / walk station. I had my hubby cut a thick piece of board wide enough and deep enough to hold my laptop and give me a bit of room for my notes, etc. and put it on my treadmill. It fits perfectly on the arms, giving me plenty enough room to still stand and walk behind it.

I hate having to go down in the basement, but when my back hurts at my desk upstairs, I simply carry my laptop and notes to the basement, turn on the light, and walk away. I walked for two hours yesterday, wrote 10 pages, and burned 200 calories. Not many calories at such a slow speed, but hey, the point was to write without pain. I had already done my exercise for the day, so these 200 calories were an extra bonus...or a way to burn that glass or two of wine I had later as a reward :-) And if you don't have a treadmill, then find a way to prop your laptop so it's at the right level, and march in place or slowly step side to side while you type away. Give it a try. You just might be surprised at how much it helps.

Here are some extra tips for staying pain free while writing. This is our profession after all, and we are way too young to be feeling like Quasi Motto :-)

Tips for the injured writer

Here's the link:

Exercises for writers and other desk slaves

Here's the link:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Anita's Attic: Hitting a Revision Wall

I’m working on book three in my secret warrior series and I keep hitting a wall. I feel like I’m looking at the same page over and over. I am looking at the same page over and over. It’s driving me nuts. I finally hit a breakthrough. I brainstormed with my CP and decided to start the scene in a different place. I thought about one aspect of it, the vampire’s mansion, looked up some pictures online, and it really smashed though that blocked wall. Now I’ve hit another wall. I’m struggling to get it all on the page, and I think it's because I'm trying to include parts from an older version. I have 18 pages of good stuff that I want in, but I suspect I’m spending more time trying to find the right paragraph and fit it where I want it to go than if I just wrote the entire scene fresh.

I faced this with the second book in the series. Originally it was a romantic suspense I’d written earlier, but I realized it had all the ingredients I needed for one of my warrior series stories. I just had to change some things, but the skeleton was there. I’m still not sure whether this was a smart idea. I think it took me longer to revise the manuscript than if I’d just written something new from scratch. I had to add in the paranormal elements and change scenes, add new plot threads and work in all my secondary returning characters.

Another part of my problem is I edit as I go. Not final editing, but I can’t completely turn off my editor and just let the creative side go, as many writers do. In my case, that may be a good thing, since I have more trouble going back and “fixing” things.

Do you have trouble revising scenes? Is it easier to just start fresh? I’m open to tips.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Liz's Lair: A Series Diary Even Pantsers Can Love

Most of you know I have been in Ohio for a family reunion and am getting on a plane back to Texas today. I knew I wouldn't have a chance to write a new blog, so I looked back in my archives and came up with this one. Since I'm ready to start on book 3, MURDER FOR THE HALIBUT, I thought it was appropriate.

For some reason, I spent a lot of time either listening to the way other people plot or telling them how I plot. So, I decided today’s blog should be about that.

I recently went to successful writer and workshop teacher, Randy Ingermanson’s Workshop The SnowFlake Method. He starts with a twenty-five word or less blurb and builds it into a workable synopsis. On Saturday, the talented, Lori Wilde spoke at my chapter meeting about themes and plots. She has over 50 books out there, so she’s doing something right. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no right or wrong way. You have to do what works for you.

Even true-blue pantsers are finding they are doing more plotting nowadays than they used to, especially if they’re writing mysteries or selling on proposal. Die-hard plotters have been doing this all our writer lives. So, I decided I wanted to know how everyone else does it. I’ll start with my own writing and my latest wip.

I went to a “gathering” of a few writer friends a while back, and the question came up about plotting. I confessed I only had a blurb for my second book, BEEF STOLEN-OFF. Here it is:

Jordan finds herself smack in the middle of a cattle theft ring where the “steaks” are high and the cowboys are not what they seem.

Since my series title was about casseroles (or it was before my editor changed it to Clueless Cook, which actually fits better.) I had what I thought was a catchy title following that theme and an idea what it would be about.

That’s it. I had no clue where I was going with it, other than cattle rustling was involved. With the help of my friends, we threw out some “what ifs?” and I came home with a pageful of ideas.

The next thing I did was sleep on this for a week or so. That’s where I do my best plotting, and this time was no exception. Since I write long-hand, I list what I call plot points on a piece of paper.
Things like :

Jordan goes to Cattleman’s Ball so she can write a review and her escort dies in her arms.

Jordan goes to his funeral and his aphasic mother mouths “help me” to her.

I usually have a page and a half to two pages, and these eventually end up as scene hooks and/or red herring candidates. When I have this all on paper, I start my research. In this case, I needed to know something about cattle rustling, ways I could poison someone without it showing up in their blood, and Texas barbecue. These printed research sheets are the things I study when I’m in the doctor’s office or on an airplane, and my imagination goes wild. My plot points get changed so often, I have to write them in pencil. The same goes for my character profiles.

Now it’s time for me to meet my characters. I have developed my own character profile sheet that I use for every single character in my book. It has important things like their GMCs, their backstory, etc, but it also has not so important tidbits like what kind of perfume they wear, what kind of music they listen to, what kind of clothes they wear. Since I am taking my first shot at a series, I can’t tell you how helpful this has been with my second book.

There’s nothing that ticks me off more than when I’m reading a book in a series, and I notice some minor detail that is different, like all of a sudden a secondary character is wearing jeans and tee shirts instead of moo moo’s. Kind of extreme, but you get the point.

Since my series involves a small town, I have given that its own character sheet as well – where the Pizza House is, how far does she have to drive to get to work. Things like that will appear in all the books of the series and trust me, they’d better be accurate. I’m on a loop with mystery readers, and those gals are educated and know what turns them off...and have no problem talking about them. God forbid if Aunt Suzie's hair changes from blond to brunette.

I once heard the wonderful Roxanne St. Clair talk at Nationals about keeping a diary, especially if you are writing a series. Said the fans get really bent out of sharp if you get something wrong in your own book. She didn’t do this and ended up paying big bucks for someone else to do it for her. ..after the first few books.

Thank you, Rocky, as that one thing stuck in my head and forced me to take the time while I was writing Book One. Number one – I don’t have big bucks and number two- it has really helped me know my story. I use my character sheets for my diary. It was great pulling out the original ones from LIVER LET DIE to use when I started on

Of course, there are different characters in BSO since I killed off a lot in LLD. Oh well, what’s a few more sheets?

I wanted to add that I did the exact same thing with MURDER FOR THE HALIBUT. I went with a blurb:

When Jordan and her friends find themselves on a cruise where she is judging a culinary competition, things get "fishy" when the front-running chef is found face first in his signature Halibut dish.

From there we fleshed out a beginning plot that I have built on. We now call ourselves the Plotting Princesses.

So, let’s hear it. How do you plot? Inquiring minds want to know. If you’re brave enough to throw out your blurb so we can tear it apart – just kidding- go for it. I will respond to all of them tonight when I get home. Feel free to rip mine a new one on this glorious Monday in Texas where we’re still celebrating the fact that our Texas Rangers went to the World Series for the first time in franchise history, and our Mavericks are the NBA Champions for the first time ever.

Now if only the Cowboys would win more than 6 games this year.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Barbie Jo's Bunkhouse: Name That Muse!!!

Happy Friday everyone! I'm thrilled today because this is the first time in a looong time that I haven't procrastinated with my blog post! YAY ME!

So anyway, let's get down to business. The business of naming my muse, that is. That's right, after all these years of writing (14 to be exact) my muse has never had a name. Sure, I've probably called her a few not-so-nice names in the fit of a plot meltdown, or synopsis struggle...but my muse and I have never been on a first name basis.In answering an email from fellow Book Cents Author Donna Cummings, she calls her muse Endora (remember her from Bewitched? Yeah, how freaking cool is that???). They were going out for ice cream. And I got to thinking, maybe my muse would cooperate more often if I called her by name. Only problems is, I have no idea what to call her. Out of all of the creative character names I can think of for my stories, I just can't come up with one for my muse. Maybe because I'm too close to her? I don't know. So this is where I need your help.

Let me tell you a little bit about my muse: She's definitely a steak and potatoes kinda girl. Whiskey is her drink of choice, but she's been known to imbibe in a martini or two (or three). Dessert? It's all about the cheesecake (turtle cheescake is her fav). She's quite sassy, and has a bit of a dark side - although she's not evil at all. She loves her bling, but she's no foo-foo princess. She's a little bit country but has a rock and roll heart. And speaking of her heart?? Underneath that snarky exterior beats the heart of a hopeless romantic. She loves that romantic spark, she's flirty and can be all out sexy when she wants to be. Loyal to a fault, she will put herself out there for what she believes in. When push comes to shove, the writing truly is, all about her.

So there you have it. Help me give the girl a name. Polls will be open all weekend. The winner will be announced on next Friday's post as I interview my newly named muse. AND I will put your name (or pseudonym, initials, whatever) on my website as helping me to name my muse!

And Thanks to Donna for giving me this great idea. You can follow her on twitter @BookEmDonna (How's that for a plug?!)

Keep those names coming troops!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cassy’s Corner- Identity

We have just attended our younger daughter’s graduation from medical school. She graduated on Saturday then flew on Sunday from California to Massachusetts—beginning her residency Sunday night with no break in between. It got me thinking about transitions and identity. My daughter walked onto the stage a person who had spent four long years in medical school, tough years. She walked off the stage a legal doctor.

That morning she had all the knowledge needed to be a doctor. But without the formal ceremony, she didn’t have the permission. It took the anointing of the powers that be to move her from almost there to being there.

We as writers have our own transitions. When our books sit on the shelves of Barnes and Noble we can count ourselves as writers. But, when does it happen prior to that? When can you stand at a cocktail party, glass of wine in hand, and answer the question—What do you do? With the response, I am an author.

Often I when I’m introduced by my friends to others they cite my prior occupations. Being a writer is frequently not mentioned. Why would that be? It’s how I spend hours each day.

Do you find yourself explaining? Do you find you need to help others understand?

I had a funny experience last year. As most of you know I spend a fair amount of time in Italy. My books take place there. We had an unusual snow storm in Italy while I was there last year. Actually, there were three snow falls on different trips, but that’s another story. For this particular storm I was alone. So, no husband or others to chip in. I had no heat, no water, no electricity, no Internet, no nothing. Even, no food. It really wasn’t a problem. I did have lots of candles.

The story really begins not with that. It begins many months later when my husband and I were back at the house and talking with someone on a nearby property. He is not someone who knows us at all. He told us what a rough winter it had been. And, would you believe there was this writer, a woman, who was in one of the nearby houses. She, can you believe, was alone and writing. She had no heat, no electricity, no water, someone had to bring her food, and the neighbors told him that she wasn’t even upset. She was writing by candlelight.

We laughed. He then looked at me with his hand over his mouth. “Oh, no,” he said. “It’s not you?”

So when do you become “real?” When are you a writer? I think my daughter was a doctor long before she walked across the stage. And we too are writers long before our books hit the shelves.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kari's Kave: To Sabotage or Not To Sabotage...

Have you ever pushed yourself and been amazed at what you could accomplish?

It's like with a diet. When you truly push yourself and stick to the plan, the results are amazing. Yet when you sabotage your efforts by filling your life with temptations and distractions, it's so easy to get off track.

Same with exercise. Whether you're training to run a marathon or lifting weights, etc, you will never improve the distance you can do or the amount of weight you can lift unless you stick with it and keep going. Push yourself to take that next step.

The same is true with writing.

The first thing to do is figure out how much per hour you can write. My day consists of six hours between the time my youngest gets on the bus until my oldest gets home from school. For me, I usually write four to five pages an hour. Then figure out how many hours you realistically have. I usually strive for two to three hours a day Monday through Friday. My average page count ends up being about fifty pages a week. That still gives me evenings and weekends off, as well as having an hour or so to spend on promotion.

So why is it I end up on a writing marathon for every deadline?

Because like dieting and exercising, I tend to sabotage myself. Each time, I keep saying, "Oh I have plenty of time," and then I put off completing my pages for the day for whatever reason. I always have an excuse. But in reality, pages should come first, then promotion or whatever else I'm doing.

I need to make a lifestyle change. Set a goal and stick to it, period. I know what I am capable of when I push myself. Basically twenty to twenty-five pages a day, which is pretty much what I've been doing for the past few days. Four to five hours straight with no promotion or distractions, just me and my laptop and my notes as I type away. Being that "in the zone" can lead to some amazing writing, it always does for me, but it's not healthy. A person's body can only take so much repetition like typing and sitting for such long periods.

So when this book is done, I am determined to stay on track from now on. Write at a nice healthy pace, stay fit as well as "sane," and possibly finish a book early. Wouldn't that be nice for a change.

So tell me, do you all sabotage your writing like you do your diets and exercise? Or are you one of those "good" people who actually stick to your goals? What are your tips for staying on track? Inquiring minds are desperate to know :-)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Anita's Attic: What Makes a Favorite Author?

I love to read. Some of my earliest memories are of going to the library with my mom. I loved Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit. I remember going to the library and marveling at those rows and rows of little green books. They all had green covers then, unless I'm confusing my memories. It was like entering a world of magic. Later on, I found the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. I couldn't read them fast enough. I loved following the clues and watching Nancy solve the crime. I think it's so great that now my daughter loves Nancy Drew.

When I was a teenager I found Harlequin. That was before romance was so sizzling. And I adored Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney, and Elizabeth Peters. I was enraptured. I could spend hours with my head in a book. My problem is when I find something I can be impatient and obsessive. Back then, I wouldn't start a book unless I could finish it. It was unthinkable to start a book, put it down, and pick it back up the next day. So I would read like a maniac and when life got in the way, I would stop reading for a while. It was on one of the reading frenzies that I decided I could be a writer. I hadn't been reading for a few years. I was busy with young kids, then we went on vacation to our friend's cabin in the Adirondacks. I thought, why not take a book. I picked up a Carla Neggers and BOOM. I was back into reading. I read incessantly for three years. I don't know how I got anything done. I still love to read, but as we've mentioned on this blog, it's harder when you're a writer. You don't have as much time, and the writer's part of your brain can interfere with reading pleasure. I still have my favorites. And now, as a writer, I want to know what made them my favorites? There are so many great books out there it can be hard to choose. What makes me want to pick up this author instead of that author? I believe as writers we need to write books that would blow our own minds as readers, so I want to know what is it about a particular writer that draws me in. Here are some of my favorites and what I think they do well.

Diana Gabaldon: She does everything well. Her books are long, but she can wring more plot from a book than almost anyone I've read. After I read her first book, Outlander, I couldn't believe it when my Cp said Diana had written seven books about the SAME characters. But she has, and each one is filled with amazing plots, and the characters never get old. I'm anxiously awaiting book eight. The way she writes setting is brilliant. You can feel yourself in the place, seeing it through the characters' eyes. She really plays up on the sense of smell. Her characters are so real, you would swear you can touch them.

Elizabeth Peters: I love the world she's created with Egypt and the pyramids and this wonderful character, Amelia Peabody. Amelia is an amazing woman. Smart, sensible, and not afraid to speak up. She's a woman ahead of her time. Her husband, an alpha male who knows when he's met his match, is the perfect mate for her. I love watching her keep him in line as he gives his Emerson scowl, and she's always ahead of everyone else, mentally and physically. She wields a parasol like a sword and carries a big bag containing anything anyone could need to survive. Her son is hilarious when he's young and mysterious as he grows older. These books are so funny and just darned interesting. The writer is an Egyptologist, and the authenticity shows in her writing.

Kristan Higgins: Kristan Higgins writes romantic comedies, and she's a genius at making ordinary characters larger than life. She writes emotion in such amazing way. I don't cry easily, but most of her books will bring a tear to my eye. But they aren't sad books. That's the brilliance of it. They're funny. She'll have me wiping a stray tear then laughing until my sides hurt. Love her.

Jeri Westerson: Here's another writer with an amazing ability to write setting. I can almost taste those dirty streets of London. I really like her character, Crispin Guest, and his sidekick, a little boy named Jack. I think what I love about her books is they have a Sherlock Holmes feel, and she always has a really interesting mystery.

Harlan Coben: This man can write mysteries. He can do plot twists on top of plot twists. And he's another one that does emotion well. But the emotion in his books is so understated that it packs a blow. I love getting to the end of his books, and after the mystery is solved, you discover that there's still more to the story. The last page can be a shocker.

Janet Evanovich: I don't care so much for her old romances, but the Stephanie Plum series is great. I can pick up one of these books, and I'm laughing by the first page. I love the humor of the characters. They're so unique that they couldn't be real, but she does them so well that they feel as if they must be. This is one book that I will buy in hardback.

Linda Howard: She's an amazing writer, so good that her stories compel me even though I don't really like her settings or characters. That's saying something. If I read a blurb on the back of a Linda Howard book, it's not going to appeal to me, but she can write so well, she makes any character and setting intriguing. And she understands the power of sex. She is wonderful with love scenes. They're never flowery. They're raw, real, powerful. I had the opportunity to hear her last workshop last year at RWA in Orlando. She presented her "12 Steps to Intimacy". It was powerful. She really understands how and why males and females think and interact the way they do.

These are just a few of my favorites. I would love to know what it is about your favorite writers that makes you pick their book. What do they do well that we can learn from as writers?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Liz's Lair: Who's Buying All the Mysteries?

One of the chapters I belong to, the Sisters in Crime, commissioned a 47 page study on the book selection habits of the mystery book buyer. Here's what they found:

The study, titled “The Mystery Book Consumer in the Digital Age, is the first of its kind to provide an overview of the mystery/crime fiction book-buying landscape, with information on who buys mysteries, where they buy them, what they buy and why they make their mystery book purchases. The research is based on publishing industry data gathered and interpreted by the PubTrack book sales analysis division of Bowker – a unit that specializes in business intelligence for publishers, retailers and authors – with input from a Sisters in Crime survey team.”

Now that got my interest right away. Off the top of my head, I would say the average mystery reader is female, fortyish and older, and loves the female sleuth genre more than the police procedurals or the thrillers. Men, on the other hand, are just the opposite, heading for the cop books and the International thrillers. Me, I love them all. Show me a book where someone dies and I have to figure out who and why, and I'm all over it. Anyway, I found some of these demographics rather interesting and want to thank the great SinC chapter for doing this. Here are the results.

Most of the mystery readers are women, usually over the age of 45, making up 68 percent of all mystery sales. Younger readers aged 18 to 44 represent another 31 percent of the mysteries sold. (So who's buying that last 1 %???)

Another interesting fact is that 48% of all mystery buyers live in suburban areas, while 27 percent reside in rural areas with the remaining 25 percent coming from urban areas.

35% of all mysteries are purchased by southerners while 26% more live in the West, 20% in the Midwest, and 19% are North easterners.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. Most mysteries (39%) are purchased through brick and mortar books stores. I wonder if that's changed since the downsizing of Borders. Anyway, another 19% are borrowed from libraries, and the final 17% are purchased on line. This is another thing I wonder about with the emergence of the Nooks and Kindles and Ipads of the world. Even when this study was done, online purchases of mysteries topped all the other genre sales.

Which brings me to an observation. According to this study, most mysteries are being read by Southern suburban women over 45. Guess when you reach that age, the hormones are going wild and the Georgia peaches really want to see someone take it in the back of the head…preferably a two-timing man!!

Actually, the southern belles aren't the only ones who like a good revenge killing in their books every now and again...fanning myself!!

Okay, let's hear it. What are some of your favorite mysteries and why? One lucky commenter will receive an autographed copy of LIVER LET DIE in October when it's released.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Barbie's Bunkhouse: The Perfect Writing Environment

Yes, we've heard all the glam about writer's in their PJ's, or sitting with their glass (or bottle) of wine to get them in story mode. But is that reality? We all know Barbie LOVES her wine, and while it's good to loosen things up and brainstorm, it's not overly productive when I'm actually writing. Well, unless it's in the middle of the day, and I suppose if it's just one or two glasses vs. half a bottle. But wine at night relaxes me too might and makes me sleepy, which equals not many pages. And while I have stayed in my PJ's before and gotten pages done, life eventually calls and I have to get out of the house (and also look presentable, because I'm just that way.) PJ's arent' really working for me either since most of the time except for weekends I'm getting ready for the dreaded 'day job'.

I've had 2 glorious vacation days this week. One of which was a decent writing day. The other? while I intended for it to be a writing day, it turned out to be anything but. Grrrr..... But I'll get over it and move on. But during my time off, with my computer, i found myself changing locations where I write. Mornings at the kitchen table with the morning light and my picturesque backyard, evenings back at my desk in the livingroom enjoying my garden fountain and westerly breeze (when it's not so humid). Changing location helps. My desk keeps me more secluded, away from the hub of the house so I tend to get more done. In the quiet of the morning, I just love my kitchen and the rest of the house is still sleeping.

Which got me thinking...Does the perfect writing environment exist? I know it's subjective to each writer. But if you could CREATE the PERFECT writing place what would it be like? Does your muse require nature? a bustling coffee shop? A City skyline? Or anywhere as long as you have ear-buds and mozart?

I know writers who retreat to cabins in the woods where there are no internet, no tv's. it's just a room with electricity a bed and a kitchen. They go there when they are in deadline mode and basically crank out an entire book in one week. WOW. I'm thinking a need a shed in my backyard, with a cot and desk (forget the lawnmower).

Kari and I recently did a mini-retreat. We started at her house in the morning, then checked into a local hotel and wrote I think until midnight'ish. Then we were up and writing again until checkout. It was awesome!!!! Maybe not my ideal environment (hotel room) but the idea of getting away, even locally, from the duties of the family and actually being productive was THE BEST!!!

so for me, if I had to create that perfect writing space. I think it would be a cabin/cottage out in the woods. I love the sounds of nature - especially in the morning. A fireplace to add atmosphere, maybe some candles or better yet old oil lanterns because I think they are cool (American Pickers fan, remember?) Heck, I wouldn't even mind if there were animal heads on the wall! A hot-tub would be nice out on a deck for a relaxing break, an the fridge would be stocked with great foods to BBQ, and of course....WINE!!! Which is fine because I'd be writing ALLLL day, and relaxing with Mr. Pinot in the evening!

So how would you create your space? Inside or outside your home? Out of the country? Let those imaginations soar! Money is no object! What is YOUR perfect writing environment?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cassy's Corner- Juggling

I have been thinking a fair amount lately about all the pieces we put together. How many labels can you put on yourself? Are you a mother, a wife, a husband, a friend, a writer (!), an artist, a gardener, a chef....well, the list goes on. And we do it all. But the words still need to get on the page.

I am interested in hearing about how you do it. How do you set the priorities. Spouses and kids- certainly they have priority, but when you do step in and say "enough." This is my time and my writing.

I'll be here as much as I can today. But, it's travel again for today and I'll be here a much as possible. Sorry, I am really not fussing. It's just that the question has come up with a number of my writer friends, especially those who work from home.

Again, I'm not on a rant. Hardly, just need to pack my bag once again.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Kari's Kave: Bestill My Beating Heart...Oh, And How Old Are You By The Way?

As you all know I'm finishing up book two Corpse in the Crystal Ball, and book one, Tempest in the Tea Leaves comes out in less than two months, by the way...squee!!!

So, anyway, I've been thinking about "story" a lot. By now I've really gotten to know my characters well. I am having so much fun with them, and that got me thinking about what kind of characters I have. Then I looked at all my books and realized I tend to gravitate toward the same "type" of characters. Even when I read, I tend to buy books that have the same type of characters that mine do.

For my heroine, I love a strong, independent woman. She's a woman who is flawed for sure, but isn't afraid to let her shortcomings stop her. She's searching to find her way and will go after it when she finds it. She's a romantic and a dreamer and downright funny, yet stubborn. I love funny, sassy, quirky heroines! She's cute as can be, and fun, and lighthearted, and doesn't take life too seriously. She's kind, caring and compassionate and can't help fighting for the underdog.

For my hero, I love love love an alpha male! Tall dark and brooding. He's the silent, cynical, untrusting man who keeps himself at a distance. Yet he's loyal as hell and will fight to the death to protect you. He's good at what he does and a perfectionist. He's tough yet vulnerable, though he'd never admit it. He's wounded by something, and you just can't help wanting to comfort him. Most of all he's sexy without even trying to be.

I also tend to go for older heroines and heroes. People in their twenties are still making mistakes and stupid choices. People in their thirties are finally figuring out who they are and achieving some goals. People in their forties know who they are, are comfortable in their own skin, and have stopped caring about what other people think. It is what it is, etc. I really tend to like the thirties and forties so much better than the twenties. I find I can have a lot more fun with characters of that age.

How about all of you? What "types" of characters do you like best? What age groups do you prefer? Inquiring minds want to know :-)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Anita's Attic: Voices in Your Ear

After Liz's wonderful blog yesterday about which battles to fight on edits, I started thinking about all the changes I've made to Awaken the Highland Warrior because of someone else's opinion. We all know how valuable an outside perspective is to our writing, because we just can't see everything that's there or that isn't there. I find myself thinking something is on the page because in my head it was all laid out nice and pretty, when in fact I'd zoned out and left a gaping hole.

Liz talked about editors and handling edits. I ran into this with edits on both the first and second books of the secret warrior series. Most of the time, I found my editor was right, at least partially. Even if I didn't think so at first, once I really thought it over, her suggestions made sense. There were some exceptions. She'll never like suspense as much as I do, and I suspect she'll always battle me on that. I didn't like the publisher changing the title from Awaken the Warrior to Awaken the Highland Warrior, but I understand why they did, and it probably will sell more books. I didn't like changing my wonderful cliffhanger ending in book one to a smaller cliffhanger, but I listened and I compromised.

But it isn't just editors who are voices in our ear. We have critique partners, beta readers, and our agent. When Christine first signed me, after she'd gone through my story thoroughly, it was like the old cliche' writers should just cut the first chapter because they usually start the story too soon. Sure enough, she told me to cut the first chapter. I liked that chapter. It showed the discovery of the treasure map and the heroine putting together the clues and her eerie journey through the graveyard to find her treasure. BUT, when I cut it, I saw that Christine was right. My first chapter was lovely, but it slowed the pace down too much for my genre.

We also have critique partners who are so important, but this is where my question comes today. I only have one critique partner. Most of you have met Dana. I don't know what I'd do without her. She knows what I'm thinking even when I can't express it. She reins me in when I'm going into left field and kicks my plot in the butt when I'm not empowering it enough. So, how do you manage more than one CP? Or horror of horrors, an entire critique group. I know people who say they have groups that send out so many pages per month. I've never understood how those writers have time to write if they're spending so much time critiquing other writers' work. And the bigger question: How do those writers deal with the number of voices chiming in on a story? I've heard writers talk about their story getting so watered down with so many opinions that the story became perfectly dull, not even their story anymore. And editors saying they could tell a story had been critique partnered to death because it had no voice. I'm curious. If anyone has several CP's, does it get confusing? Is it a brilliant editing tool that I'm missing? I would love to know.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Liz's Lair: Knowing Which Battles to Fight

Before I get started on this topic, I want to let everyone know that Mortal Deception will not be released today. Since Amazon has started a new mystery line along with their romance line, my agent wants to submit it first. If they decide to pass on it, I will get it up in a hurry, and we can drink cyber margaritas. Stay tuned.

Now to the topic. I know a writer who will never change anything about her story, no matter who suggests the changes. I used to think she was being true to herself… that she was confident in her own writing. But after going through edits with my own editor, I no longer hold my friend up as my hero. She remains unagented and unpublished with a story that has garnered more rejections than Stephen King's 150 or so. I can’t help wondering if she had made a few revisions, would her story have had a better chance in NY? Is her failure to bend a little keeping her out of the bookstores?

With that in mind, I decided to share my own experiences with you about changing my story. Fortunately, my copy edits were minor and not too painful. The first big curve ball came my way when my editor said that after a marketing meeting to discuss my book, they not only wanted to change the title Ducks in a Row to Liver Let Die, but they also wanted the series to be called The Clueless Cook Mysteries instead of the original Casserole Lover Series.

I balked … argued that it made my heroine seem stupid and suggested several other possible titles. My editor said she would go back to the arts and copy gurus and talk to them, but they really did like the Clueless Cook title since my heroine takes over as the culinary reporter at the local newspaper and has no idea how to cook.

I was satisfied she would look into it, but before she called back, I had a change of heart. The room at Berkley had been filled with marketing experts with who knows how many years experience between them. Who was I, a retired nurse with a BA in arts, to think my way might be better?

I called Faith (my editor) and told her I was fine with both the book title and the series’ title. I will call this banter with her the Battle of Titles, and this round went to her. I had waived my white flag.

Next came Faith’s copy edits. My cozy differs from most of the others in the genre because it’s written in third person and includes the hero’s POV. I even had a few scenes from the killer’s point of view as this is how I write my straight mysteries. Faith wanted me to cut the killer POV scenes… said they took her out of the heroine’s POV and didn't say anything that the reader didn't already know or wouldn't find out later. However, she said if I felt strongly about leaving them in, we’d discuss it.

This was my chance to win a battle. Instead, I deleted all three scenes. Round two – the Battle of the POVs again went to Faith. After reading through the scenes again, I realized she was right on.

The last big thing I conceded was the name of my heroine’s newspaper. I called it The Ranchero Globe. The copy editor argued it should be Ranchero Globe(without the italicized and lowercase "the".) I argued that on the cover it's listed as The Ranchero Globe. Last week I heard back from Faith that as per grammar rules, it will be Ranchero Globe. When I checked on the cover at Amazon, I discovered they had deleted the "the" and it now reads Ranchero Globe.

Okay that one was a draw. I argued that it should be exactly as it is on the cover. So they fixed the cover.

There were a few more points I argued, and apparently, they made my changes. I was never overly aggressive...merely expressed my wishes as to why I wanted to keep certain things in. Faith is a dream editor, and I trust her judgment implicitly. Remember when I asked her what she needed from me for book 2 before I wrote it...a synopsis, three chapters? Basically her response was that it was already under contract, and I just needed to write it. If she puts that much trust in me, then I have to trust her editorial instincts. She’s been at this a whole lot longer that I have. I couldn't be happier with the entire Berkley team working on Liver Let Die. I should be getting my galleys before long, and I think I’ll need surgery to get the perpetual grin off my face as I hold "my" book in my hand

So, my point in all this is how do you know when to make the changes and when to stick to your guns? No one wants to be labeled "difficult", but after all, it is our story. I want to know how you handle it when someone suggests a major change in your work. I know a lot of you enter contests and have CPs who sometimes see the story differently than you do. Do you pick your battles or draw the line in the sand like my friend?

Do you concede some things and save your best arguments for things that really matter to you? Inquiring minds want to know.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Barbie Jo's Bunkhouse: Mystery Games

I actually don't know what made me think of this. Maybe it was all the phone everyone had out on Martha's Vineyard...I'm not sure. Have any of you gone to a Murder Mystery Dinner or something similar, where you are served a very nice meal, but all the while there are clues and you have to figure out the "who-dunnit" for the night?

I never have. Up in Alexandria Bay, NY they do this at one of the Inns along the St. Lawrence River (or at least they used to), and I think I've even seen writer's groups or I believe there's even a conference like that? I swear I've read it somewhere in my travels. I think it sounds like a lot of fun, and I can almost believe my hubby would come with me and enjoy himself!

Several years ago I came into possession of a murder dinner party game. I read the rules and it sounds like a blast! Have you ever seen them, or has anyone ever played? You invite guests to dinner, and each guest is a "character" in your dinner/plot. During the evening, the murder is discovered (someone NOT playing sets it up because they will know who actually did it) and your guests "mingle" and talk amongst themselves IN CHARACTER to try to figure out who did it!

OMG, well this sounds like sooo much fun and I want to do it, but I'm not sure if A.) I have enough guests to make it work, and B.) Would my crazy friends actually "play along"? Hmm.... But I figure since I have been bit by the cozy mystery bug, I would LOVE to try this out.

I'm thinking it sounds like an awesome summer BBQ/dinner type game where we can make full use of the house and outside. I just may have to dig that little box with instructions and the story out of my sock drawer and figure out how to do this.

Has anyone ever done this before? If so, how did it work out? I'd love to know!!!

Meanwhile...stay tuned for a report later this summer and I will tell you all about it!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Anita's Attic: History, Dumptiques, and Crows on Martha's Vineyard

As Liz reported in her blog on Monday, we had a great time on Martha's Vineyard. Christine and several of her clients went to the Vineyard for an event at Bunch of Grapes Bookstore. It was the first panel for many of us and there were a good bit of jittery nerves, but reports from the audience said we handled it like old pros. We also had taped interviews for the local TV station, another first for many of us, except Sheila Redling, who's truly a pro at being on air, radio anyway.

Cynthia Riggs, another of Christine's clients, the author of the wonderful Victoria Trumbull mystery series, was so gracious to open up The Cleaveland House to our bunch. The circa 1750 house is filled with history, from ship planks on the wall, books her mother and father wrote, stories of births and deaths, and a whittled down chair her great grandmother used. You could find our group sprawled all over the place, chatting in the parlor, roaring with laughter in the kitchen, or sitting beside the goldfish pond talking about the wildlife and the crows. I told them about the pet crows my brother and I had when we were young. My father had rescued them as babies. (This comes in to play later in this blog). You could even find Liz's husband Dan and my husband Austin working in Cynthia's vegetable garden, which we ate from several nights. It was a delightfully hilarious trip, and I'm certain that several of Christine's clients (and her aunt Peachy) are really comedians. I've laughed until my ribs hurt. The banter was magnificent.

The last day, everyone else left early, but Austin and I weren't supposed to leave until later that day, so we borrowed Cynthia's car and headed for the Dumptique, a little place by the local dump where you can get someone else's trash and turn it into your treasure. I found several books and a great pair of reading glasses.

But my adventures didn't end after we left The Cleaveland House. Cynthia dropped Austin and I off at the airport and I started feeling really dizzy, not something you want when you're getting ready to go up in a tiny little Cessna that already makes you feel claustrophobic. I think it was all the pollen and sinus drainage (sorry, too much info, but these last few days were filled with too much sharing. Dare I mention Liz's panties...and Dan's open window...) Anyway, Austin suggested that I go outside and see if it helped with the dizziness. It really did, but as I was sitting there, I heard something in the trash can behind me. I turned, thinking it was the wind rustling the plastic lining, but it wasn't. So I crept over and peered in. It was one of those trash cans with the heavy metal top and two side openings. I saw something black. Big and black. I peered closer and saw it was a crow. An employee walked out, and I told her. She said birds sometimes fly in there to get food, it would be fine. But I can't leave stuff alone, so I lifted the lid off. The crow tried to fly, but couldn't.

By this time, two more passengers had walked out and were sitting on the bench. They were ooohing and ahhhing, and commenting on my bravery. Well, really, it was just a crow. So I pulled out the entire trash bag lining, crow and all, and carried it to a grassy area. I could see that the crow had gotten plastic wound around his claw so tight it was like rope. Who knows how long he'd been there. By that time, he was on his side, gasping, and I knew I had to hurry. I went inside and approached the first ticket agent. When I explained that the crow was going to die, she said that was fine with her, they were over populated, she was behind schedule, and it wasn't her problem. So I went to the next one. She gave me her scissors and her bottle of water. I went back outside, gave the crow some water, and cut the plastic bag from his (or her - who knows with crows) leg and then threw it into the air. It flew straight up and landed on a tree branch, as the women on the bench yelled, "You saved its life!" while Austin and the ticket agent who gave me the scissors cheered from inside.

The two ladies outside were on our flight, and they kept calling me the lifesaver, swearing that I was meant to save that crow since I had had pet crows as a child. One thing led to another, they found out I was a writer, lamented that they hadn't known about the Bunch of Grapes event, and said they were both going to buy my book. So I sold two books by saving that crow.

As the plane rolled down the runway, we looked across and saw a lone crow drinking from a small pool of water. Maybe my crow, maybe not. Our flight from the island was wonderful. The weather so clear it was a breathtaking view, with no dizziness. So my trip to Martha's Vineyard was everything I expected and a whole lot more.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Kari's Kave: Surviving Writing Deadlines at Crunchtime

Good morning, Bloggerland!

Kari here. So today is my day to blog. I got up, looked at my to do list, and knew exactly what I wanted to blog about.

Writing crunch time during a deadline.

I am in the homestretch of book 2 Corpse in the Crystal Ball. Everything is coming together nicely. All my loose ends are getting tied up. The killer is about to be caught...but all of this takes a lot of time sitting in a chair and writing.

I am fortunate enough to get to work at home and just write. I love what I do, but for some reason, it can be exhausting. I can bust my butt doing yard work, clean the house for hours, etc, and not feel as drained as when I write all day.

So I did some research and found this article.

It really makes sense. We're not just working our muscles, we're working our brains. We're mentally drained, have eye strain, carpal tunnel, bad backs, etc. And all of this is worsened by where we write, how we sit, what kind of lighting we use, even what type of food we eat before we write and what time of day we write.

So as I push onward and upward, I am going to be more conscious about all of these elements. Take breaks during low points in the day, write during high points, eat healthier, stretch and exercise.

We might love what we do, but we only have one body. If we take better care of that, who knows what creative awesomeness might flow forth onto the paper. So eat, sleep and be merry, my people, and write on!