Friday, March 30, 2012

Barbies Bunkhouse: Writing Road Map

If you're like me, you've seen, read or written numerous posts on plotters vs pantsers. I have to admit, while the bottom line is always the same, I find these kind of posts interesting and give the pantser in me hope for my plotter-wannabe status.

You see, while I'm methodical and organized in various other areas of my life...when it comes to my writing I am anything but. It was a defining moment when I attended one of my first conferences as a newbie writer and found out there were others like me! I am a pantser. Now, my writing is by no means all helter-skelter. It does make sense. I just tend to be kind of...well...all over the place. I think nothing of writing out an entire scene, then jumping to another, then going back to where I'd originally left off. Sometimes that's the only way to quiet the voices in my head.

Of course, it doesn't help when your CP (eh-hem..KariLeeTownsend) is a successful best selling author! And she should be. She is a plotter to the greatest extent of plotting. I am in awe of her plotting and outlining techniques. She's taken everything she's ever learned at conferences, and some things she's figured on her own, and put them together in a system that works! Trust me, when she's shows me what she's done, my draw drops and I have to wipe the drool. It's amazing! It makes sense and I find myself wanting to do that with my own work. Well, "I" am a WIP as far as plotting is concerned. Kari is converting me, and my stubborn pantser nature has been a bit resistant over the years, but is slowly starting to come around. Eventually, I will get it.

So where am I going with this? Well this week I worked on an actual time line for a new story. I kept finding that I just couldn't move forward even with the synopsis until I new beyond a shadow of a doubt that what needed to happen in the story could feasibly happen in real life. It's a soldiers journey to get home, but things happen along the way to detour him. So I've been researching Middle East flights, bus routes, you name it I'm looking it up. Mileage from one city to another because at one point my hero makes the journey on foot. It's opened my eyes to my story enough where I felt comfortable to crank out part of the synopsis yesterday. It's not done yet, but it's a start. But through the synopsis, my brain is already working along that route and figuring out the events that will happen to my hero. Ooohh..gives me chills now to think of it!

I guess my point is that even the most die-hard pantser has plotting tendencies. There comes a time that in order to make the story believable, you have to research and know what you're talking about, which in turn leads you to subconsciously plotting!

Have any of you worked on road maps for your stories, or possibly to connect a series? Liz, Kari, Anita, you all write series. Maybe if you don't know exactly what will happen within each book, do you ever think ahead to how each book in the series will relate to each other? do you plot or map it out? We wannabes want to know!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cassy’s Corner- An Amazing Time with Fellow Writers


I’ve just returned from my second Brainstorming at the Spa session in Matera, Italy. I never made it to the spa. Let me start with a little background. For those of you who have heard this before, hang in with me.
The Women’s Fiction Festival will be having its 9th celebration this year. Don’t be put off by the “Women’s” part of the name- there are plenty of men in attendance. The Festival is wonderful. It’s a true mix of writers, editors, agents and a few children running around. I won’t even mention the food and wine.
Out of that, a few years ago a small group of us decided we would benefit from a brainstorming time. Last year was our first get-together at a time different than of the Festival. The wonderful Liz Jennings coordinated it and the insightful Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency led the discussions. We numbered about 18-20 last year, a few less this last week. Each writer had time to present his/her current project and the group focused on how to move the story forward. Christine gave us lots of feedback and presented industry know-how that we’d never find on our own.
I returned late last night from year two. This was my 4th time to Matera, a very unusual and fascinating Italian town. I’ve now been to two Festivals and two brainstorming sessions. After four days of intense days (breakfast at 8am and bedtime after midnight), my mind is spinning.
 Except for one fantastic addition to the group, everyone there was a repeat from last year’s brainstorming plus Festival times. Over the year we have stayed in touch nearly daily. We have our Yahoo group, FaceBook, Twitter and private emails. The group is very international, writes across all genres, and stands ready to pitch in for each of us. With all of our contact, we didn’t need much “getting to know you” time. It allowed the work to began within minutes.
 Granted, we did have long lunches and late dinners, but I would guess that nearly 90% of the time focused on writing and publishing. There is something to be said about time that is not crazy with running to meeting after meeting in a large hotel but rather a concentrated effort to help each other move to the next level.
I thank each of the wonderful folks who took time to think through my work and also thank them for trusting me to comment on theirs. The only thing missing was a few more hours of sleep.
May you find a group that helps you think through your projects and support your efforts. Do check out the website for the Women’s Fiction Festival. It is a unique opportunity held in a place like no other.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kari's Kave: To Swag or Not to Swag!

To swag or not to swag...that is the question.

As I look at my calendar, Malice Domestic is just 4 weeks and 2 days away!!!!

First of all, I am so excited. Finaling in the Agatha, being on a panel, signing books, meeting my editor for the first time...it's all so exciting. Not to mention, this is literally THE conference to go to if you want to meet diehard cozy fans! And so many fabulous cozy authors will be there.

Like a lot of smaller conferences, this one starts on a Friday and ends on a Sunday. I'm driving, so I thought most things don't get started until around 3pm. Check into the hotel, register, and then get ready for the opening ceremonies at 5:15pm....right?

Wrong!

This sucker starts at 9am Friday morning. Eeek!!! Malice 101 is an introduction to all things Malice. Since I've never been, I actually would like to go to that. But, it won't kill me if I don't make that. Although, the goodie room is open at 9am and I have a lot of stuff to put in there for both Mysteries & Margaritas as well as the Killer Characters blog I'm on. Double Eeek.

To drive from my house to MD will take 6 hours if I don't hit traffic...that means leaving at 3am!!! WHAT was I thinking? I never should have cancelled my room for Thursday night. Ugh. Although, my schedule at home is too busy for me to leave on Thursday anyway. It just means I go to bed early and bring lots of coffee for the road!

The event I really don't want to miss is called Malice Go Round! That starts at 10am. It's like speed dating with your favorite authors. You literally get 2 minutes with each author participating. I am not participating this year, but I wanted to check it out and meet a bunch of new authors to me, etc. They say it's insane, a complete whirlwind of an event, but exciting and fabulous. I wanted to see what it's like in case I get to do it next year :-)

And they break for lunch at 11:30 which is when I will hopefully check in to my room if they have it ready then. And then start the workshops at 12:30 right up until the opening ceremonies at 5:15 where they announce all the Agatha nominees and we get our certificates.

Next, we have the Berkley dinner to go to at 6:30pm, followed by the Agatha Best novel nominees and the live charity auction. Only to get up Saturday and start all over again. On Saturday morning, I get to host a new author table at breakfast. You sit there with 8 empty chairs around you and hope like hell some of the fans choose to sit at your table. I have to make favors to give away and be prepared to talk about my book.

Panels start up at 8:45. My panel is at 10:15, followed by a signing. Then it's lunch with my editor, more panels, and then the Agatha banquet where we find out who wins each category. And we get to sit at the Berkley table...yay! Finally, as the conference comes to a close, there's a breakfast Sunday morning, followed by even more panels, a lunch break on our own, and then the closing tea ceremony. the whole thing doesn't end until 3:30pm, so my drive home will get me there by 10PM.

This is going to be one busy conference, but again...I am more excited about this particular conference than I have been about any conference in a long time. I really plan to make myself network and meet new people. Fans, authors, industry professionals, etc.

Now, here's my question. With such a great opportunity for cozy authors, what kind of swag to do you think is best? I have bookmarks for fans, business cards for authors and industry proffesionals, custom made fortune cookies and pens for favors at breakfast and some special people. And even postcards to advertise M&M as well as my teen superhero series. And I'm bringing my M&M totebag to carry around, and I have a Killer Character pin on that as well.

What do you think fans like most for swag? Calendars, notepads, pens, bookmarks...what???

I want to be creative but not break the bank. Any ideas?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Anita's Attic: Laughing At Your Flaws

Last week Kari blogged about being inspired by your surroundings. I’m very inspired by my surroundings but unfortunately, my surroundings are cluttered. J Does clutter make for a cluttered mind? That would explain the frustrations and fuzziness and woes I’ve been going through, unless it’s just menopause trying to sneak up and bite me in the butt while I’m in panic over my deadlines.

My mother is a lot like me, or I’m a lot like her. We’re kind, respect everyone and everything, have a witty sense of humor, love nature, and she loves bargains too. J But that’s where the similarity stops. My mother is not a shopaholic. Never has been. Never will be. She has NO debt, owns her house and her car, cans and puts away food every year. She’s as frugal as they come, yet she has everything she needs. Probably more. Her bargains…remember. And she’s never been overwhelmed a day in her life. When things got tough, and they did, she worked. She got up and did something. She tackles life and problems with a simplicity that is nothing short of brilliant. She would write a self help book. Why then, is her daughter (Me!) the opposite?

I wasn’t always this way. Well, I’ve always had too much stuff, and I’m always in a frenzy over something, but I used to laugh at my frenzy and I was neat. My house was so uncluttered that people probably weren’t comfortable. There was nothing out of place. Or course that was in my pre-kids life. J And I could tackle huge tasks that dumbfounded other people. They thought I was like Super Girl. It didn’t even faze me. But now everything overwhelms me. My living room overwhelms me. My kitchen overwhelms me. My dishes overwhelm me. My huge candlestick collection, my purses, my bracelets, my mirrors. I have too much of everything. But I don’t want to get rid of it. By golly, it was a bargain! And I love my stuff. Whoever said that your possessions own you had it right. But I’m too hard headed to give them up yet. J

So for now, I have to accept myself with all my flaws and stop complaining. If I’m cluttered or uncluttered, plotter or pantser, slow writer or fast writer, glass half full type or glass half empty type, whatever I am. It’s MY LIFE. I have to OWN IT and DEAL WITH IT.

If I’m fat. Be happy, or shut up and lose weight. If I’m cluttered, laugh at it, or shut up and de-clutter. I will laugh with myself while I’m polishing away my flaws like problems in a manuscript.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Liz's Lair: With A Little Help From My Friends!

First of all, I apologize because this blog is late getting posted. I do have a good reason, though. Yesterday, we picked up my husband's best friend from high school at the airport and got to visit with him until the wee hours last night. Since we all went to the same high school and hubby and I were sweeties from our junior year on, he is also my good friend, too.

So, we brought out the old yearbooks and our wedding pictures (he was a groomsman) and spent the night reminiscing. This morning I had to take my grandkids to school (had to be at my daughter's house at 6AM, so I didn't have time to write a blog this morning. If I were organized like Kari, I would have written it Saturday and scheduled it to post on it's own.

But wait! I didn't have time to do it on Saturday, either. Right after my grandson's soccer game (he scored a hat trick and they beat a previously undefeated team) I headed into Dallas for a Plotting Princess Retreat. In attendance were Karilyn Bentley, Kathy Ivan, Alisha Page, Elizabeth Essex, Michelle Miles, Liese Sherwood-Fabre, Chris Keniston, Phyllis Middleton. Vicki Batman was our lovely host once again, and we welcomed new Princess Sasha Summers who brought tiaras for everyone.

Vicki started us off with a quick business meeting, and then we jumped right into the program which included a really good Twitter 101 lecture by Alisha. I am now proud to say I will be a Triberr member. She's got like a million people in her tribe, and I'm gonna be one of them. Then Michelle gave us really explicit instructions on how to establish an author page on FaceBook and how to network a blog. All really good stuff that I plan to look into.

After breaking for food, we started on what we really do best--plotting. We came up with a great title for Chris' wip and a terrific tag line for Sasha who will release a Greek mythology romance as well as a contemporary romance this year.

Then we moved on to me and CHICKEN CACCHIA-KILLER. I introduced my characters and gave a short blurb and plot points for book 4 of the Clueless Cook Series.---and oh boy, the ideas started flying around the room. After thirty minutes I had my entire book plotted, and I'm ready to get started on the opening chapter. YAY!!!!!

My point in all this is that I have been thinking about how we always hear that writing is such a solitary business, and I'm here to tell you that isn't always so. I've found writers, in general, to be a very giving group, willing to pay it forward. Sasha told us about a well know author she had shot the bull with at a conference.In conversation she mentioned her Medusa book. The author emailed her and asked if she could read the story and gave Sasha a great blurb for her cover--all unsolicited.

For those of you who have yet to get the privilege of writing an acknowledgement page and thanking all your beta readers, CPs and anyone who encouraged you on your journey to publication here is an opportunity to do just that. I am calling this FRIEND APPRECIATION day. I want to publicly acknowledge my CP, Joni Sauer-Folger, who just signed a three book deal with Berkley Prime Crime, my beta readers, Chris Keniston, Sylvia Rochester, and Nora Roth, my agent, Christine Witthohn, my editor Faith Black, and everyone on all my loops who have been so supportive. And I can't forget my high school friend who spent the night, John Ritter, and my best friend all through high school, Suzie Schneid Turner who joined in long distance for the walk down memory lane.

Now I'm giving you the opportunity to tell us who you want to thank. As an an extra bonus as my way of paying it forward, I will plot, critique a chapter, or just simply discuss your story with one lucky commenter, If you are interested in being included in the drawing, be sure to post your email address so I can get in touch with you.

So, let's spread the love. Who are the princesses in your life?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Barbie's Bunkhouse: Publishing Draft

We all know I'm an NFL girl. Last year was very hard for me as a Colts fan to lose Peyton ALL season. In spite of my devotion, I really didn't see him coming back to the game. Hey, 4 neck surgeries should make anyone nervous about re-injury! Yes, he's a true athlete and there was a part of me that thought "oh, God, please don't pull a Brett Favre. Go out on a high note, don't try to prolong this." So while my Colts suffered through a terrible season, I jumped ship. While I joined in on Tebow-Mania (I've liked him since his Florida days) I have banded with my hubby and now tote the Giants as MY TEAM. But to be fair, it's going to be an insane football season in my house. The G-Men have lost Manningham (thank God we still have Cruz), Peyton is now a Bronco and Tebow is now a Jet (watch out Sanchez - I kind of feel bad for him)! I will always be a Peyton Manning fan (my Syracuse orange & blue will come in handy), and I'm curious to see how Tebow will grow as a QB if given the chance, I think he has some serious potential (my son is a Jets fan).

so where am I going with this??? Well, this got me thinking of all the millions & billions of dollars spent on professional athletes. The trading, the drafting....it's serious business!! I keep saying the united states could pay off our national debt if they stopped paying ALL professional athletes for 1 year. Think of it....they make more in 1 year (and most of the time they are in multi-year contracts) than most people with ever make in their lifetime. So gee...if I'm a NY Yankee and make 5 million a year, and I've been playing for 6 years of my 8 year contract......If I can't give up 1 years worth of pay, then I seriously have a problem.  Hell, give them a tax incentive - give us your years salary and you won't have to pay taxes for 2 years! But that's another blog post..... LOL.

Wouldn't it be interesting if the publishing world treated authors as athletes?? New, unpubbed authors could enter a draft, go to "writing combines" to showcase themselves - via their web sites, web presence, contests won, workshops taught, etc... We could be put through our paces just as the college guys. Put in a room full of other writers and see how quickly we could come up with a viable, interesting and unique plot based on a given topic and or characters.  I think that would be interesting.

These combines could take place in different locations and for different genres. And at the end of the "season" all the publishers would draft their new authors. And in the event a current author wasn't doing well, said author could be traded to another house, or let go at the end of their contract. And hey, why not get TV and movie people involved! Now wouldn't that be a hoot! They wouldn't have to pay advances - they would just have to agree on a yearly contract dollar amount.

Think about it....if Amazon, or Berkley, or NAL agreed to pay me $500,000 over a 5 year period....I would write my A$$ off, promote like crazy and give them whatever story they wanted me to write! We don't have to be greedy mongers like athletes! Writers are sensible folk. It's hard enough to balance out our taxes between income v expenses!! Who'd want to have to do THAT when you're dealing with millions! Then again..... Seriously, I think $100,000/yr for 5 yrs is reasonable. It basically covers my years of emotional trauma while waiting and riding the endless rollarcoaster called publication, it would cover conference expenses, promotion, and a make over so I'd look good while representing my new publisher! :-)

So sign me up! Draft me! Who else is in?? I think we need to write a proposal!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kari's Kave: A Peek Inside My World!












March Madness is upon us, folks! The time of year when I usually start going nuts being cooped up inside after a long cold winter.

Only...this winter has been anything but long and cold. It's going to be 82 today and 84 tomorrow. I live in central New York.

I repeat...it's March! And this is madness :-)

Though I do have to say because it feels more like summer, I have been inspired to open the windows and clean out the clutter.

For me, that means clean out the office.

When I'm in the middle of a project, I have papers everywhere. Since I just finished book 4 in the Fortune Teller Mysteries called Trouble in the Tarot, I needed a breath of fresh air.

My husband built me a nice office in the basement. Big desk, bookshelves, lots of room. The only problem is he works and the kids are all in school.

WHY would I confine myself in the dark dungeon as I like to call it? I won't, plain and simple.

Believe me, I appreciate having a place to really store all my stuff. And it's great when the family is home and I'm under deadline and need a quiet place to work. But on a regular basis, I want light and sunshine and fresh air.

So I gradually started sneaking upstairs and working in the formal living room. Which, by the way, no one else EVER uses in our house.

Once in a while someone will go in there to read, but pretty much I am the one who uses that room ... sooooo ... I decided to make it mine :-)

I gradually started working on my laptop on the couch or in the chair. Then I started binging my notes up until they eventually took over the room.

Finally, I bought a small desk and put that in the little corner between the living room and the family room. It was a perfect little hideaway.

Then I started adding bulletin boards, a small book shelf, etc.
Suddenly, I had two offices. Okay, so I call the downstairs my office...and this I call my workspace :-)
Recenty, I even turned my desk away from the wall so it would face the window. I love to look out and be inspired by the outdoors.
Hubby doesn't get it. Then again, he's a man :-) A great man...but a man nonetheless, and let's face it, men really are different than women.
He can work out in the basement, work from his own office down there, etc. and it doesn't bother him. He is logical and efficient and practical.
I, on the other hand, need ambiance!
I can't workout down there because there's no atmosphere. Same with writing. I need atmosphere for inspiration. I am a romantic and a dreamer and WAY more sensitive and emotional than he is.
We balance each other out perfectly, which is probably why we have 4 kids and will have been married 23 years this July :-)
So what kind of person are you?
Do you need a certain atmosphere to write or read or do whatever it is you love to do?
For me, inspiration comes in the pretty things around me. The things that make me stare off into space and daydream.
Some day I am going to go away for a weekend alone to someplace with a spectacular view like the mountains.
I can just picture a cabin in the woods like the Poconos, with views of the mountains and a hotub, porch, etc.
Or when I watched the movie Nights in Rodanthe, I wanted to go there so badly. And I want to go during that time of year.
It wasn't hot yet. The house sat on the beach. The waves were big. There were chairs outside next to a firepit. I could just picture myself wrapped in a sweater with a glass of wine and my laptop, staring out at the ocean and dreaming of the next story I want to write.
I've never taken a writer's retreat like that. My CP Barbara Witek and I have done a simple overnight in a hotel room just to get some work done.
It was sooooo productive, we swore we were going to do it again. Only, life with 4 kids involved in everything under the sun and a husband in sales who travels is crazy and hard to ever find a time that works. But I am determined to find a weekend that works for both of us, and just do it!
Hubby fully supports whatever I want to do, he just laughs and thinks I'm crazy sometimes. Especially because when I'm under the gun and behind on a deadline, I can pretty much tune the world out and write anywhere.
That doesn't mean I like it.
I want to be inspired. I love what I do, but when it becomes a chore, it takes the joy right out of it for me. So I work at always making the most of my writing time and shooting for inspiration wherever I can get it.
I even like to set the scene and prepare my space with the perfect lighting, maybe light a candle, have a glass of wine or cup of tea, etc.
It really does make all the difference in the product that comes out of your fingertips and onto the page at the end of the day :-)
What inspires you? What's your office look like? Do you have any rituals or things you like by your side as you write? Inquiring minds want to know :-)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Anita's Attic: Reviews

I haven't been checking reviews lately, but I thought for my blog today, would post some reviews from Amazon. Good and bad. I find it interesting to see that what one person hates, another loves.

But a pleasant thing happened. I couldn't find many bad ones. Actually only one that was really negative. Wow, nice surprise. This just makes me so appreciative of everyone who has helped me along the way so I can do what I love. My family, my agent Christine and the Book Cents family, all my writing friends, and of course my CP Dana Rodgers.

So here they are:

The author has outdone herself with this set of books. Awaken the Highland Warrior was excellent and they just keep getting better. These are characters to love. Three dimensional and fun with depth. Like tv's "Friends" with a wonderful twist. Can't wait for the next in the series.

I plan on grabbing every book this author writes! You gotta love the Connor clan, kinda like gorgeous X-Men in kilts. ;) Both books were really fun reads, if this is your type of genre you can't go wrong by following this author.

So, looking at all the 3-5 stars for this book and wondered, "What's wrong with me?". I love reading romance novels, especially Scottish Highland men but for some reason, right when I started reading this book, I really couldn't get into it. I didn't read the first one (not knowing there was a first book and this was a series) so maybe that's the reason I'm having a really hard time enjoying this book. It's definitely not a stand alone and it's really quite boring. I have no idea what's going on and I'm finding if I end up reading the first book, am I going to find it as boring as this one?

I'm really not liking either of the main characters at all. It's a constant back and forth with the trust and love issue and it's driving me crazy. Wish their relationship was more believable. There are too many secondary characters I can't keep up with. Which ones are the brothers again and which ones are not? Ugh....too much going on and yet, boring as heck.
Just my opinion.

This book jumps into action and doesn't slow down till the last pages. There is hurt and angst as Shay and Cody try to work through their painful past and the misunderstandings that separated them. There is more betrayal and jealousy as the boyfriend Shay just broke up with shows up and turns out to be another warrior assigned to protect her. And there are more secrets to be revealed.The story is a bit busy with action, emotion and love that finally gets to be expressed. I loved all the action and mystery and I liked that the romance was a primary part of the story but the lovemaking scenes were few and, although intense, they were not overly graphic. There is also humor with some uniquely wacky `relatives.'

This is a great book. It has action, warriors in kilts*oh wait covered that already*, steamy couples, strong love, and yeah warriors in kilts!! This second book in The Conner Clan really turned me onto the series and yes I must now backtrack and read the first in the series. You can really not go wrong with this read. The writing is spectacular and the story line is really intriguing.

Hello I love this book, I am now hooked on her books. Once I started reading I couldn't put it down. I mean it I was lucky I started reading it on Saturday because I read it until 4am Sunday morning. I turned around and downloaded the next of her books.

I can't wait until the next book comes out! The story line from the first book to the second flowed easily,and the book was hard to put down.

This second book in The Conner Clan really turned me onto the series and yes I must now backtrack and read the first in the series. You can really not go wrong with this read. The writing is spectacular and the story line is really intriguing.

The characters are well developed - I feel like they are friends I have known for years. I love how she introduced most of the characters in the first book and then brought them all back in this second book. We get to know some of them even better in Embrace The Highland Warrior... and believe me....you will love them all!!!!

What's not to love about sexy highland warriors fighting evil demons and vampires. Throw in some strong heroines, a little mystery and just the right amount of romance... and you have a winner! I hope the author doesn't stop at just three books in this series...... please keep writing Anita!

Anita Clenney has continued to spin a tale that a reader can't resist. My only suggestion would be to first read Awaken The Highland Warrior so that you are involved with the entire saga. Well written, a page-turner.

All in all, I did think that this was a good read that kept me entertained. I wish that I would have started with the first book, but I think that I'll go back and read it before continuing on with this series. That way I'll get the chance to get a better feel for some of the secondary characters. I would recommend this books to fans of paranormal romance but make sure that you start with Awaken the Highland Warrior!

Bottom Line: A good read and a series that I want to read more of.

Embrace the Highland Warrior will take readers on a thrilling adventure with plenty of action, jealousy, demons, and warriors. Anita Clenney has blended paranormal, romance, and highlanders into an exciting, and hopefully long-running series. In Embrace the Highland Warrior, future story lines are put in place as characters appear more throughout the book, and I am very much looking forward to reading the next installment in the series.

CAN'T put it down until you finish it? This book was like that. It's full of wonderful Scottish warriors and damsels in distress, fighting vampires and demons, and it has mysteries and clues woven in. I love the blend of past and present. My daughter, who's studying novels and writing, tells me that when you write it has to be believable even if it's fantasy. I can picture these characters in flesh and blood even though it would be strange to have a family of brawny Scots living next to you. Strange, but AWESOME! The way Anita Clenney writes about them, it's totally believable. This series is great! I could do with a little less sex, but then I guess they are Scottish warriors and they can't help it. Anyway, I can't wait for the next volume to be published!

I really am enjoying this series and it's a nice change from my normal, historical, genre. I find the characters well written, with the hero/heroine both alphas, which I find important in a contemporary setting. The book also does a good job of explaining how the "clan" deals with the issue of the paranormal in the modern world with technology, internet etc which helps to keep the reader engrossed in the story and not asking how could they do that.

Fighting demons and vampires is a dangerous game and Shay doesn't have many warrior skills since she's untrained. Cody does his best, but she's not cooperating with him. He tries to direct her; she tells him to get stuffed. The author makes this interplay lively, which makes it a great read.

When I read these reviews, even the bad ones, it really makes me so grateful that I am a writer, and that I am surrounded by others who share the same dream. That's an amazing feeling.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Liz's Lair: Getting to Know Me

Here it is Sunday night, and I'm tired. I brushed my teeth and was all ready to hop into bed when I remembered that tomorrow is my day to blog. Crap! I have nothing, so I decided to post a few of the questions from an interview that appeared in the Seattle PI by the fabulous Diane Morasco, Morasco Media, who gets me as a writer. You can read the interview in it's entity here.

Anyway, it's always a little exciting to be interviewed and get to tell everyone what makes you click. I'm taking a few of her questions, giving my answers, then I'm going to analyze them.

Are there any stories that have made you cry, laugh, stunned you or rendered you speechless when you heard it, that you had to incorporate them in your fiction?



I get all my funny lines from my Bunko Babes, a group of women -- all grandmas -- with whom I've been friends for over twenty-five years. We vacation every year together, leaving hubbies and grandkids at home. These are some of the funniest women I know. For the original plot in Mortal Deception, I saw a story on 20/20 about a dying child that inspired me to say "what if." For Beef Stolen-Off, I noticed I was seeing more and more stories about cattle rustling becoming the new carjacking in Texas, and my imagination immediately went to work.

I am getting ready to go with my Bunko friends for our annual vacation. I will come back with so many great lines for my next story, it will almost pay for the trip. I'll definitely blog about it when I get back.

What is the most disgusting fact you've woven a story around?

In my ghost paranormal series (with an editor as we speak) one of my secondary characters is married to an ex porn star. Don't ask me why, but I had a blast writing their kinky sex scenes. What does that say about me???

Seriously, what does that say about me? Am I a frustrated perv?


Has your life changed since you've become a published author? If so, how?

It has gotten way busier. In today's economy, unless you're Evanovich or Roberts, you have to do most of the promotion yourself. I did a guest blog every single day in October when LLD came out. I also have to laugh at the number of people who think I'm rich now that I have a published book. Seriously??

This year's taxes--Income - $2500. Expenses- $8500. I rest my case!!

And one last question:

Do you ever fear writer's block or that you'll let your audience down?

Constantly, as most other authors do. We are an insecure bunch. Because reading tastes are so subjective, I know I won't please everyone. I always dread hearing that someone didn't like my story since it is so much a part of me. I guess it goes down to wanting everyone to like me and my books. For a lot of my writing years I didn't let anyone read my stuff for exactly those reasons. I've had to grow a thicker skin and now realize different strokes are what make the world go around.

And that, folks, is where I am today-in serious writer's block. If I don't get started on CHICKEN CACCIA-KILLER, I am going to be so far behind, it will be pathetic. So, I am looking for anything that will bring my muse out of hiding. HELP! I need ideas. Tell me what you do when your muse doesn't want to play nice?

I'll leave you with this-You might be in writers block if you have actually named the dust bunnies under your desk.


Say hello to Fuzzy, Wuzzy, and The Playboy.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Exited about New Release

I'm totally thrilled to share with everyone that yesterday was release day for my second novella, Bet On Love. This is actually my first romantic comedy and it was so much fun to write.

This story came about because it was an opener to a different story! As I'm sure we've all had scenes we had to cut but absolutely loved. Well, this was one of those scenes. Not the entire book, mind you, but how the story unfolds. I hated to cut it from the original story, and when the opportunity came to come up with an idea for a novella, I thought it the perfect time to bring the situation back to life. All I needed were new characters. Alas, Shelby and Cole were born, and they were a great fit.

This just shows how you can re-furbish an unused scene and create a whole different plot with brand new characters. I thought for sure I'd have problems getting the original plot out of my head enough to create a new one, but the characters knew exactly where they wanted to go with it.

Here's a little blurb to let you know what the story is about:

Broken-hearted sports agent, Shelby Greene, heads to the bright lights of Las Vegas to attend the wedding of a college roommate hoping to ease the pain left behind by a cheating ex-fiancé. The myth of catching the bridal bouquet takes on a whole new meaning when Shelby wakes up in bed with her old school obsession – Cole Martin. Only they didn’t just sleep together, they got married, adding to her belief that men are nothing but trouble. He agrees to enlist a mutual friend to help them out of their situation, but she has to return home with him. Trouble or not, a home with Cole is everything Shelby has always dreamed of. Is love worth betting on this time around?

Go to Amazon to download your own copy and find out why what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay there! I'm working out details to a fun contest to be announced soon. So stay tuned, and check out my website for contest updates.

I'm really excited about this story and hope you will all like it as much as I did while writing it!

Have any of you ever used a cut scene in a totally different book?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cassy's Corner- Ready to Share

Next week I'm leaving for a wonderful small get-together with a group of writers to brainstorm our current projects. We met last year in Matera, Italy as a spin-off group from the Women's Fiction Festival (WFF), also held in Matera. About 20 of us were together for four days, each taking a turn to present our work, frustrations, hitches in plots and characters and whatever else struck us as important. It was completely "your" time. So, that meant the entire group focused on how to help you out of whatever corner you'd painted yourself into. The genres were all over the place.
The days began early and ran late with lunches, dinners, time in the whirlpool and walks through the sassi mixed in. We didn't stop talking about writing and publishing. Well, except for taking time to find more and more about each other.
Over the year we have continued our discussions and our mutual support on a private Yahoo loop. These folks have become friends as we've talked about our work, our families, and even our new homes.
Next week is our second brainstorming session in Matera. Again led by the wonderful and talented Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency.
I'll be posting from Matera next week. Be sure to check out the WFF site. It's definitely one of the best conferences out there. And, as I found, has spun off into a great group of fellow writers ready to support each other.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kari's Kave: Gotta Have Faith!

I couldn't resist this post :-)

I am so excited!

I finally get to meet my editor, Faith Black, of Berkley Prime Crime.

She is just amazing. An author develops many relationships. Some of the most important are the ones with her critique partner, her agent, and her editor. I am a people person. It's really important for me to have a great rapport with the people in my small little corner of the world.

I lucked out with all three.

(Believe me, I've heard horror stories from people hating their agent or editor or not having any luck with finding a CP). My CP, Barbara Witek, is the same CP I've had since I first started writing. We work so well together and have really become best friends over the years. And my agent, Christine Witthohn, is the same agent I've had from the start. An amazing woman and good friend who works her butt off. And then there's my editor, Faith Black.

My editor is always there for me whenever I need anything. And I feel so comfortable being able to shoot her an email whenever I have a question or even just want to shout excited about something :-) She's not afraid to shout right along with me! She has believed in me from the start, has a great eye for making a story its absolute best, and she really gets what I'm all about...and likes it!

I have wanted to meet her since forever...and now I get to.

Faith Black is going to Malice Domestic this year!!! YAY!!!

Just 6 more weeks, and we finally meet. What should I wear? What should I say? Ha ha...I feel like I'm going on a first date :-) Seriously, though, this truly is the icing on the cake for me.

Just had to share...and now I will probably have that song going through my head all day, "Oh, you gotta have Faith..."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Anita's Attic: An Unexpected Ski Trip

Due to an unexpected ski trip, (we caught the last few days the resort was open) I am running behind on everything, especially writing related, so I'm scrambling to put together this blog.

I was going to stay home and write, since I'm in panic over my deadline, and I've reached the place where I realize I don't actually enjoy skiing. I had merely deluded myself into thinking I did because it's something the entire family did together. I love the trips, and being together, but I'll watch, thank you. Skiing is far too much work, lugging all that equipment, cramming your feet into those crazy boots. I feel like I'm having a panic attack when I first put on ski boots. It's like my feet are stuck in concrete and I can't move them. Eventually, that passes, but then there's the cold. And the falling. I don't like falling and I don't like being cold.

So this trip was going to be just Austin, the kids, his uncle, and his niece. The fathers and kids. But Caleb's basketball team had a game in the playoffs, which he couldn't miss, so I had to drive him up to the resort the next day. I'm glad I did. I love hanging out with my family, and I figured I could get some work done at the same time. When I got to the condo and opened my laptop, all excited to get to work, the file was blank. I freaked out for a minute, worried that my files at home had been erased (I actually did that once) but thank goodness, it was just a glitch. I have those around electronics. As it turned out, I also needed to fill a plot hole so I worked on that instead.

The weather was lousy the first day. It started raining as soon as Caleb and I got to PA. It got cold that night so everything froze. The snow was icy, but the kids didn't mind. The third day was great. Sunny, warm, and the icy patches had been covered. Austin loves skiing but he can't handle much with his back. The first day with Skylar did him in. I didn't want to ski, so we turned the kids loose. Caleb snowboarding, Skylar skiing. It made me a little nervous at first. You may recall our ski trip four years ago when Skylar fell off the lift. But everything turned out great. The kids were nice to each other, no fighting, they worked together, helped each other, and as my daughter said, "mom, we bonded." Wow.

Austin and I sat inside the lodge and watched them, making sure they came up every fifteen minutes on the ski lift. It was such a joy to see them helping each other adjust helmets or waiting until the other was ready to take off downhill again. I just wanted to cry.

Every night, we went to the resort's indoor pool, hot tub and sauna. But lest you get a grander picture than it was, to say "resort" was a bit of a stretch. It wasn't anything fancy, but we had a ball. And getting everything half price didn't hurt.



Monday, March 12, 2012

Liz's Lair: Meet Suspense Author Tiffinie Helmer


It is with great pleasure that I turn my blog over to my friend and fellow suspense author Tiffinie Helmer, a Utah girl who spends her summers in Alaska catching salmon. Today is Tiff's debut with her Alaskan adventure, and I am proud to be the one to introduce you to her. Here she is:

Love is never easy. But I made it extremely difficult for my characters, Skip and Wren in my short story IMPACT. They were childhood friends who became high school sweethearts, then life happened. Skip became an Alaska State Trooper. Wren became a criminal who fell into drugs as a way of escaping her troubled childhood. He arrested her and sent her to jail. Now its five years later, Wren is sober but still nursing a broken heart and carrying a grudge the size of Alaska.

You’d think that would be enough, but not for my characters. No, they need to fight to be together, prove to me they are worthy of the love I have in store for them. So I threw them into a situation where they had to rely on each other in order to survive. That’s right, a plane crash with an arctic storm bearing down somewhere between King Salmon and Egegik.

Where the hell is that, you ask? It’s nowhere.

If you look at the map, they crash landed in Southwest Alaska above the Aleutian Chain on the brutal banks of Bristol Bay. Have you seen Deadliest Catch? If you have then you’ll get a good picture of the nasty Mother Nature can dish out. If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and check them out. Deadliest Catch’s Season 8 starts April 10th on the Discovery Channel.

I really enjoyed writing Skip and Wren’s adventure and hope you’ll check it out. Here's a teaser.

Alaska State Trooper Skip Ozhuwan has waited five years to reunite with Wren Terni, the woman he’s always loved. Flying back home for his sister’s wedding with only him and Wren in a chartered bush plane guarantees he’ll have her undivided attention.

Ever since Skip arrested her five years earlier, Wren vowed never to lay eyes on him again. She’s gotten sober and made a life for herself that she’s proud of. Seeing Skip now throws her into a tailspin.

When the plane crashes, they are forced to battle a violent arctic storm, outwit predators, and dispose of a dead body. They must find a way to get past their differences if they are to survive to have a future together. That is, if they don’t kill each other first.

What kind of crazy situations have you put your characters in or have loved reading about? One lucky commenter will win a copy of IMPACT.


Amazon

Barnes and Noble
My website

Tiffinie Helmer is an award-winning author who is always up for a gripping adventure.

Raised in Alaska, she was dragged “Outside” by her husband, but escapes the lower forty-eight to spend her summers commercial fishing on the Bering Sea.

A wife and mother of four, Tiffinie divides her time between enjoying her family, throwing her acclaimed pottery, and writing of flawed characters in unique and severe situations.

Friday, March 9, 2012

You mean...I have fans???

I type this with a HUGE smile on my face, as evidence that I really am an author - a darn good author - really hit me this week. And boy, does it feel good!

As you know, while waiting for traditional publication, I decided to self publish my holiday short story Santa Wore Combat Boots. I must say, for as quickly before Christmas (literally 3 days before) that I put it out I had wonderful reviews and excellent sales (since being a holiday story, I expected them to drop off once the new year hit). Let me tell you, this sweet, touching short story has set me off to a fabulous start. One that I hope the publishing Gods are somehow noticing. (wink, wink) Because of this venture into self-publication, I have fans.

You all can go ahead and laugh, but I expected this when the day comes that I have an actual contract and a bigger entity behind me for distribution. But we're talking it's just me and Amazon. I did nothing but email my family, post on FaceBook and Tweet. Due to the timing and content of the story, I didn't run a contest, I really didn't guest blog anywhere. It was my social loops and word of mouth from my "social loop peeps" who reposted or retweeted.

But because of this wonderful short story, I have built a fan base. There are actually people out there reading my work who are no relation to me what-so-ever! They are not long lost friends from school, co-workers or relatives. They are anonymous people who I have never met. They are giving me reviews, they are emailing me.

This week I received a message in my FB in box from a woman who said she loved my story and hated for it to end. She wanted to know if/when I was going to have another one out. I had a graduate student come to my office this week because she downloaded my book (read it, loved it, loved the cover) and didn't realize I was an employee until someone told her. She was excited to meet me (yeah, ME?? really??) and we talked writing and books for about thirty minutes. I felt like a celebrity. (I really did)

Then I received potential covers for my upcoming release of Bet On Love. I'm thrilled with them, but have to choose between the two. Hmmm....I let them gel overnight, so I will be making a decision later today.

So between the cover art and reader feedback, this has been a perfect ending to my work week. I think as writers we are always looking for validation, even in the smallest form.I guess I'm so surprised because Santa Wore Combat Boots is a short story. While yes, I wanted this kind of attention and feedback, I just never dreamed it would do so well in such a short amount of time. Every once in a while I wonder how well it could have done if I'd gotten it out before Thanksgiving? And to think that people who have read it and seriously looking and anticipating another book from me. I'm wowed and humbled at the same time. <G> I have fans.

It's amazing how a compliment can give you a boost! Today, I feel like I can take on the world.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cassy's Corner- Yellow Stickies

Our dear readers, this is  repeat blog from literally two years ago. As I'm am working through a new book, I thought it was pertinent. Do, please give us feedback on your process. Best, Cassy


How Yellow Stickies are Running My Life- Well, at Least My Story

I’ve mentioned a number of times over the last few weeks about my stickies. Today I thought I’d share what a change they have made in my plotting process. Those of you who are not plotters, this is where you might want to stop reading, or hang in there just to find out about “the other side.”

For my most of my books, I have done some plotting combined with some seat-of-the-pants writing. My editing has been pretty extensive. The worst was one of the years I did NaNoWriMo (another blog for that one—a great process for so many people). This time I decided to accept that I really am a plotter and want to understand my story right from the beginning. Alexandra Sokoloff, screenwriter and author, has a super blog and newsletter filled with information on structuring your novel. It’s basically all the same stuff we’ve read again and again, but she presents it oh so well. I took her advice.

So, this is how I have set up my current, and still very new, story.
- At the top of my table (use a big one, guys) I have a sticky that has my story’s premise—right there sitting in the middle of the table at the top, so I don’t lose sight of it.
- I divided the table into four vertical sections—Act 1, Act 2, Midpoint, and Act 3 (I did say that this is the stuff many have written about and we’ve all read—nothing new).
- At the bottom of each section I put a sticky that has the climax of that section spelled out. At this point it’s only a sentence or two, I’m not actually doing the writing.
- Then, I back up and start to fill in the scenes I’ve already thought through, so the scenes fall from my prior fussing and thinking. Each scene has its own sticky so I can move them around if I wish (and that happens a lot).
- I am shooting for 15- 20 scenes per act.

What works for me is that I know within each act or arc where I need to be—what has to happen in the plot. Questions constantly on my mind are: have I built the tension; has my character shown her true colors; has the bad guy been “bad” enough; what else can I do to torture my poor heroine, and so on. This is another way of asking—how do I pull it off? But, the structure sits before me, waiting for me to add more stickies ( no, I’m not OCD. You’d be convinced of that if you saw my closets).

I started this book while traveling. All of my beautiful stickies came home on kid’s school-book paper and they are now living lined up on four paneled doors in my office. This is a much more structured approach than I have used before. But, I confess I love the look of the soldiers marching in order, plus I love that I know my story. What I now have to do to is make this fun tale come alive.

Talk with me. What is your process?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kari's Kave: Welcome Special Guest Alison Gaylin!






















We have a special treat for you today. Please help me give a warm welcome to a fabulous author named Alison Gaylin.


She has a fantastic new book you won't want to miss. A great new series I predict will be a huge success. AND SHE WAS is the first in a new series from Alison Gaylin which combines the psychological depth of Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan series with the fast pacing and gripping tension of Harlan Coben’s suburban thrillers. Indeed, Lippman and Coben are huge fans of this young and upcoming talent in the mystery world.


At the core of the series is a clever, striking, and literally unforgettable premise. Missing persons investigator Brenna Spector suffers from hyperthymestic syndrome, a rare neurological disorder which gives those who suffer from it perfect autobiographical memory. Triggered by the years-ago disappearance of her older sister, the disorder forces Brenna to remember every moment that’s happened since in precise, visceral detail: the good, the bad, the mundane, and the tragic. Yet the one event she wants desperately to remember—and solve—grows foggier and foggier in her mind.


Now the disappearance of a local woman named Carol Wentz has intersected with a missing child case that Brenna investigated eleven years ago, in which six-year-old Iris Neff walked away from a Labor Day barbecue, never to be seen again. Brenna learns that Carol—like herself—had been secretly obsessed with tracking down Iris, and may indeed have found her. Reliving life—changing and deeply upsetting memories, Brenna discovers myriad ties between Carol, Iris, and other residents of the town where they live—and uncovers a shocking web of murder and deception that stretches back more than a decade.


Take it away, Alison!


My new book, AND SHE WAS, is the first in a new series about a private investigator with perfect autobiographical memory. And though I don’t have that very rare condition, certain aspects of memory have always fascinated me – namely, the things we choose to remember and the things we don’t.


Some memories are wonderful, and it’s easy to understand why we’d want to hold onto them – keep them wrapped up like gifts in our minds holding onto as many details as possible, so we can open them and savor them whenever we need to. But others are true bad pennies – and for some reason, those are the ones I tend to remember the most. My earliest bad-penny memory, in fact, formed the germ of the plot of AND SHE WAS: the little girl walking away from the Labor Day barbecue, never to be seen again.


That little girl was me. I was four years old, having just moved with my parents from New Haven, Connecticut to the Southern California suburb of Arcadia. My parents took me to a party at a house on our street, and I met a girl there, maybe a year younger than me. I wanted to show her my house, and so we left the party together and promptly got lost. That was bad, sure. But lots of people have a getting-lost memory. The part that really sticks with me is the woman with the beehive hairdo.


There we were, my tiny friend and I, standing in the middle of a sidewalk, all turned around, wondering how we were ever going to find out way back to the party. Just when I was pretty much thinking we should probably go that way, this Aquanet commercial of a woman came flying out of her house, scooped up the smaller girl in her arms, and took her away. “You should be ashamed,” she told me. As if I wasn’t four years old. She left me alone on the sidewalk, feeling as though I’d been slammed in the stomach with a two-by-four. After that, I headed toward town, where I got more and more lost, until a police car picked me up and brought me home to my very worried parents, and sure, all of that was pretty traumatic. But not quite so much as it was to be left outside while the other girl was taken in. “What’s wrong with me?” I had wondered. “Why aren’t I good enough?”


And though I can’t remember the rest of that first year in California to save my soul, even though the next few years creep up on me in snippets and most of junior high school is pretty much a blur, I can close my eyes and return to that sidewalk and conjure up that awful, rejected feeling as if it’s just happened. I’m still mad at that beehived cow – who is probably around 90 at this point. I’m still confused and hurt and ashamed. And most of all, I wonder why it is that I’ve hung on to such an unpleasant memory so tightly, for so long.


I’m thinking it’s a comparison thing. After all, when it all comes down to it, my encounter with Beehive was my very first rejection, and also my worst. For all the rejection I’ve experienced over the years as a writer – be it from teachers or agents or publishers – it’s gift boxes full of champagne compared to the way I felt on that sidewalk. If I ever saw Beehive again, I’d like to think I would praise her for helping to make me into the thick-skinned professional that I am. But that would be disingenuous, wouldn’t it? I think my real response would be more akin to a long string of highly unfavorable and unprintable words, with maybe a kick in the shins for good measure. But whatever I chose to say to her, however I chose to respond, I’d hope she’d remember it, always.


It’s only fair.


To find out more about Alison go to http://www.alisongaylin.com

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Anita's Attic: A Writer's Weekend

These deadlines have me in panic mode. I wish I could just go away for two weeks and write. Maybe I could get this relic hunters manuscript finished. The rough draft anyway. But I can't just bail out on life, so I'm stuck with all the craziness. This past weekend is a good example.

My daughter had been begging to get some highlights in her hair. A lot of the girls are getting a red streak or something funky. So my sister in law said she would pay for it. It took two weeks to get the appointment, and of course it would be at the same time Skylar's supposed to be playing in a basketball game. Playoffs. Optimistically, we go to the salon, hoping the appointment will be quick. Skylar found a picture of the hair color she wanted. It was bold, with light blonde, dark brown, and a few streaks of reddish color. The hairstylist was a sweetheart. She bought four of my books, so of course she was. But Skylar experienced what most women will be well acquainted with in their lives. It's almost impossible to get hairstylists to understand the color or style you want, even if you have a picture. The color turned out so subtle, it wasn't worth the $130 my sister in law paid. Skylar was disappointed needless to say, but I told her. "It's just beginning, darling. Get used to it. It took me a quarter of a century to find someone I like."

Dad, on the other hand, was pleased that the color job failed. We'd forgotten to tell him she was thinking of a bold color and he wasn't too pleased at the thought of his little girl with multicolored hair. I can't really blame him. I just caved to the pressure. My kids are good at exerting pressure. In preschool my son told his teacher that if he just asked and asked and kept asking, eventually I would give him what he wanted.

From the failed hair appointment we rushed to the basketball game. It was late starting, so we made it in time for the second half, but Skylar had just got out there when she was knocked down and she cut her knee. It wasn't just her. Everyone was getting knocked down. After a horrendous game, we slapped on a bandage and rushed home for the next event. My son's date. Sort of date. He's just about to turn 14, and he was supposed to meet his girlfriend and some friends at the mall, then go to the movies.

They were running late, so we had to wait for an hour. Finally, they arrived. The plan was for them to hang out at the mall for a while, then hubby and I would pick them up and drop them at the movies, but you know how plans go. Especially with a bunch of teenagers. They didn't show up at the appointed time. I waited for half an hour, ready to pull my fingernails out. Then, five minutes before the movie was ready to start, I called the mall and had them page him. Of course he comes out as soon as I end the call. Rush, rush, rush to the theater. Come to a screeching halt, throw the kids out in front, speed off to find a parking spot in the same galaxy, meet hubby who's with my daughter, and finally we sit. Relaxation, at last. Or so I thought.

After the movie, my daughter talked me into taking her to the mall to spend her babysitting money. She didn't get to go to the mall for the first trip. I'm brain dead from that trip, but like the pushover that I am, off we go. Have you ever walked the mall with an 11 year old? I have, many times, and I can say I'm too old for this. I love shopping, but she makes me feel like I need a wheelchair. She ran into a friend and they spent a while chatting, then just as I thought we were ready to leave, she ran into two more friends. Instead of going to the car, we started back through the mall with them.

I was a walking zombie by then, with two aching feet. I mindlessly swiped my credit card in the photo booth and waited for them to take goofy pictures of themselves, as I longed to be anywhere else. Then, joy of joys, one of the moms offered her a sleepover. Yes! I hobbled to the car, managed to drive myself home, and since I was too tired to think, much less write, I crawled into bed without even taking off my make up.

That was this writer's weekend. Not much writing, but my kids had fun, and in the end, that's probably more important.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Liz's Lair: Common Mispronounced Words

Today, I am starting the first chapter of CHICKEN CACCHIA-KILER. I spent a lot of time this weekend writing character profiles and working out plot points, and I’m ready to take the plunge. But not before I have a little fun. Not too long ago I ran across this website and had a good laugh. (And this one.) It lists a lot of the words commonly mispronounced—words that make people think of Archie Bunker and his outrageously funny mispronunciations. My favorite one was when he referred to Edith’s doctor as a grinocologist. Anyway, I decided to list a few of the ones I found out there and see how many more we can come up with. I know this has nothing to do with writing, but stay with me. You may find out, like me, you’ve been saying words incorrectly.

anyway
–it’s anyway—not anyways

arctic
– Note the C after the R. Say /ARK-TIK/, not /ar-tik/.

accessory – the first C has a “hard” sound. Say /AK-SESS-OR-Y/, not /ass-ess-or-y/.

asterisk
– Notice the second S. Say /AS-TER-ISK/, not /as-ter-ik/.

athlete -- It’s ath-lete, not ath-a-lete.

barbed wire-
Notice the AR in the first syllable. Say /BARBD/, not /bob/.

cache – The word is of French origin, but it does not end with an accented syllable. A cache is a hiding place or something that is being hidden: a cache of supplies; a cache of money; a cache of drugs. Say /KASH/, not /ka-shay/. Crap!This is one of mine.

candidate – Notice the first d. Say /KAN-DI-DATE/, not /kan-i-date/.

cavalry
– This word refers to troops that fight on horseback. Say /KAV-UL-RY/, not /kal-vuh-ry/. NOTE: Calvary refers the place where Jesus was crucified and IS pronounced /kal-vuh-ry/.)

drowned – This is the past participle form of the verb drown. Notice that there is no D on drown. Don’t add one when using the word in its past form. Say /DROWND/, not /drown-ded/.

Espresso
– say ess-presso, not ex-presso.

February
– Don’t say feb-u-ary. It’s Feb-ru-ary.

Nuclear – don’t say nuke-you-ler. It’s pronounced exactly how it’s written – nuc-clee-er.

Prerogative – say pre-rog-ative, not purr-rogative. Oh boy, another one I mess up.

Sherbet – not sher-bert, but sher bet. Yikes!!

And did you know the phrase spitting image actually is spit and image. We shorten it.

And then there’s the redneck’s dictionary.

BARD - verb. Past tense of the infinitive "to borrow."
Usage: "My brother bard my pickup truck."

JAWJUH
- noun. A highly flammable state just north of Florida.
Usage: "My brother from Jawjah bard my pickup truck."

MUNTS - noun. A calendar division.
Usage: "My brother from Jawjuh bard my pickup truck, and I aint herd from him in munts."

IGNERT
- adjective. Not smart. See "Auburn Alumni."
Usage: "Them N-C-TWO-A boys sure are ignert!"

Seriously, folks, I know we can come up with a lot more of these. I have one that my husband uses all the time. It drives me up a freakin’ wall. He combines flustered and frustrated and says flustrated.!! Can you say nails on a chalkboard??

Let’s hear some of yours.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Welcome to March!

So today is the 2nd day of March.  OMG, March! Oh, the things I was going to have done by the time March came to town....Eh, I didn't get a lick of them accomplished! But that's OKAY (I keep telling myself), I have a new agenda, new deadlines, and hopefully a grip on my sanity. :-)

My group research project is due today, and we are presenting our paper this afternoon. It's all on the March Madness Fans. Yup, NCAA basketball. Okay, at least it wasn't hockey or golf. But c'mon..we all know I'm a football girl. Yes, I love my Syracuse Orangemen, but I have yet to call myself a basketball "fan". It's okay. (college only, I could really care less about the NBA). So I worked hard between all of the other ridiculous reports and readings we had to do for this class. And me, being the "mother" of my group, had OCD issues last night because the youngins had stayed up into the wee hours of the morning the night before to finish their pieces to our report, and had other classes until night time last night and I feared they wouldn't be able to pull it off. I know, I should trust them. THey have been wonderful to work with thus far....but why freak out and wait until the last minute at 3am?? No, I actually had a "free night" (whoohoo) so I sent the calming text that "I" would put our propspective pieces together into 1 complete report. And also because the OCD writer in me wanted to make sure the formatting was correct, error free, and it flowed.  Sorry, can't help it.

But that has been what I've been up to this morning as well. I sent them the finalized version last night but we were 3 pages short! so one of the girls "fixed it up" and sent it back sometime in the early morning hours while I was in dreamland. Well, she changed the font. NO WAY am I getting zinged for not following directions!! Basic rule! TNR 12 pt was stipulated in our requirements. so...I changed it back, and we lost only 1 page. Ugh.

If March signifies madness, well folks, I'm already there. Worst part is...my characters are screaming at me!! They are demanding of my time in a major way. I have stories to write, finish, create! Some of which due to my personal self-imposed deadlines I need to have done by July/August!!!! Which means I really need to budget my time wisely here in the next 2 months so I'm not under the gun.

Still hoping for some cozy news....which will add more fuel to my already stoked fire!!!

So if you're a basketball fan....Welcome to the month of madness! I hope your teams do well, but for me it's all about the Orange!

Maybe we can hold onto the Madness and use it to motivate some writing!! *cue the pep bands!*

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cassy's Corner- Starting Over


 I’ve been working on a book for a number of months. It’s a new genre for me. It started out as a grand adventure. I still think it will be, but not for right now. As many of you know, life has been a tad hectic lately with a death in the family and illness for another. So, the work I’ve been tackling has a certain “flavor” in my mouth. It’s similar to when you eat too many chocolate cookies and somehow they just don’t look as good as they did when you opened the box. My lovely wip is going to need to sit a bit until it is no longer associated with the swirling events around me.
What to do? I love to write. It’s me. So, I went to my shelf of old stories. Books I have written a long time ago yet have needs to be edited, updated and put back into the light. I picked one that has always been a favorite. It needs work. It needs a new thinking.
What fun this has been. As I have been reading (200 pages read in one day) and rethinking where I was going with this story, I have had a grand adventure. First, I am disconnected with the author- me. It’s been long enough that I’m able to be totally critical and accepting at the same time. I have little or nothing personally invested in this work. Hence, I can look at it with open eyes.
Next, it is a puzzle to be solved. I can see where there are holes in the mystery. My brain is in overdrive working to see how I can solve the issues I missed before.  This is fun. It’s like being given a large complex circumstance written by someone else and left for me to solve. How nice of me to do that for me!
So, I’m jumping right in and trying to figure out how build larger characters, make their lives more frustrating, and keep the pages turning.
Have you gone back to an earlier work? What does it feel like? Do you “own” it or is it a fresh start? This has been grand for me. It’s also a certain affirmation- I really do write fairly well. Good to find out every now and again. Tell me your experiences. I’d love to know.