Friday, August 31, 2012

Barbie's Bunkhouse: The "Ah-Ha" Moment

YAY! It's Friday!! The end of the work week as we know it! Although here in Central New York it's supposed to be another 90++ degree day. Can someone please tell Mother Nature we're ready for a cool down?? Seriously, I'm done with the heat and sooo over summer. Some of you all may not want summer to end, but I'm ready for fall and a frosty date with old man winter! And yes....I'm ready for some FOOTBALL!!!!!Heat and Humidity are NOT my friend (nor friend to my hair). And quite honestly, it messes with my creativity. I don't know about you, but when I'm over-hot I get tired, cranky and the brain just doesn't function.

But...I will put on my big girl panties and tough it out. Because while summer has flown by in all it's hot, humid glory causing my self-imposed writing goals (remember those? I had BIG plans to finish 2 holiday anthologies) to shrivel to dust and disappear, I've found time to think. REALLY REALLY think. Summer wasn't a total lost cause. I have 2 stories in their final stages which will be coming out soon: Extreme Love Makeover - a romantic short story, and Twist of Fate - my full length romance with an underlying suspenseful tone. I'm really excited for them to finally be "live". While I did attempt to work on the holiday stories, I just wasn't feeling them. Gee, maybe the insanely HOT weather had something to do with it.....

Then, just a couple weeks ago when I started to feel in limbo with my writing I had a talk with my agent about the stories I currently have up and how they are doing sales-wise, and making some interesting changes to the covers of the upcoming books. As I listened to her talk me and my books up, I really listened to what she was saying and it was like someone flipped a switch.

I had my "Ah-ha" moment.

Suddenly, I "got it". It all made sense. I didn't have to write for the trends (between the day job, this just isn't possible, and is how I feel behind the 8 ball all the time) because by the time I could finish a full book publishers would be saturated. Although a good romance is always a true seller, but I didn't have to write from my heart either. I just had to write, period. Have something finished that could either be shopped around or put up on my own. And I really felt like it was time for something new - I'm done trying to re-work partials of old stories. I needed new blood, fresh characters and plots.

My agent gave me a goal. Think of a series that I could write which would brand me. Think of who my current audience is/could be and write the stories they would love and continue to follow. Something unique that hasn't been overdone.

Well, after a couple days of thorough thinking, some research and brainstorming...I'm pleased to say I think I've got it!! I'm working on finishing up the entire series proposal to see what my agent thinks. And honestly, I think this is my best effort ever.

Sometimes we get so caught up in writing and wanting publication, we are willing to do anything to get there. And while we're on the rollarcoaster (or hampster wheel) we can easily lose sight of why we have loved to write and create in the first place. I've always believed things happen for a reason and there are "signs" all around us if we just open ourselves to them.

Mother Nature in her own way basically made me slow down and take stock of things. My agent in her ultimate wisdom and encouragement sparked the idea. And I ran with it - in a totally different direction than I have ever gone with my writing, but in a way it's one that does speak to my heart for various reasons.

When the time is right, I will share it all with you. But for now, as summer winds to a close and we prepare for the goodness of fall, take a moment to reflect and consider a different direction. And if you've ever had your "Ah-Ha" moment, we'd love to hear about it!!

Enjoy the gorgeous weekend ahead and happy writing/thinking/creating!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cassy's Corner- The Wonderful Beate Boeker

Dear Readers: Today I am delighted to have Beate Boeker join us. She is a talented writer and a total hoot to be with. Her humor is non traditional and leaves you wiping your eyes. Like the character in one of her books strangled by a bra? It goes on and on. We met at the Brainstorming session in Matera, Italy this last year. I look forward to many many years of talking with Beate. We share a total love affair with Italy, writing, and great food. I think you'll find her as fun as I do.

Beate Boeker is a marketing manager by day and a writer by night - if she manages not to fall asleep before nine PM, that is! She lives in the north of Germany, is married, has a daughter, and a weakness for chocolate. Several years ago, she started to write in English because she found that the resources for beginning writers are much better in the US than in Germany. Her favorite country is Italy, so it's no wonder that some of her stories are set there. Her name is a mix of Latin and a German dialect and translates as 'Happy Books', so of course, she has no choice but to write light-hearted novels with humor and mischief from page one. 

Beate, what brought you to writing? You have a varied background but have chosen to put pen to paper--or fingers to keyboard.
I always made up stories when things got too boring, and this is also the main reason why I write - to liven things up. During my studies (I studied international business with languages), I had regular signposts that told me I had made progress - exams, certificates, etc. 
But when I started to work, I realized that routine came quickly, say, say every two years or so - and that changing jobs all the time is not an option. By writing, I can go anywhere, make anything happen - without rocking the boat too hard. And if I don't like it, I can delete it again. A perfect escape . . .

Your life is complicated. Family, job, and an active writing career. Spill, girl. Tell us how you put it all together.
Hmm. Difficult question. Over the years, I have developed a few rather odd techniques that work for me, though they may sound strange. For example, I only clean the house when I chat on the phone to my friends or family. That saves a lot of time (even though my friends sometimes complain about the bangs of pots and stuff while they talk to me). 
I don't cook complicated meals (though I love eating them!). Lucky enough, my husband likes to cook from time to time, or we would get a very strange diet. 
And I don't like TV. It either bores me to death or it scares me to death (particularly the news), so I have decided not to watch it. I'm probably the least informed person on this planet, and I wouldn't recognize a single star even if I walked through Hollywood. 
I'm basically a coach potato. I get plenty of interaction with other people during work, and when I'm at home, I'm happy to remain there and don't feel the need to go out all the time. My larger family (who are all heavily into partying) have given me up as a hopeless case.

You write with great humor but the topics aren't silly. What is the process you use to come up with such great stories?
Life. I have an amazing family that keeps on doing strange things, and also in business, you see so many incredible situations, stuff you would never have believed when you were a serious student. Either you laugh or you cry. The only drawback is that I can't put everything into my books - these stories are so unbelievable that nobody would swallow them. Like the fact that a company chooses its employees by checking their birth dates. If they have more than three times 1 in their birth date, they're out. Something to do with the stars, apparently. Or the fact that an offended auditor once told a colleague "I have more titles than you have letters in your name, so you'd better treat me respectfully."

Can you give us an idea of one of your latest releases?
I've recently published a novel called A New Life. It's set in Florence, Italy, one of my favorite towns. My heroine Anne was accused of murder, but due to lack of evidence, she wasn't convicted. However, she lost her job and her friends and decided to leave the US to start a new life. Through family connections, she gets a job as a secretary in an exclusive hotel right in the historical center of Florence. The attractive hotel manager is not pleased to have a secretary foisted onto him who has never worked in a hotel before and doesn't even speak Italian.
This novel is a mix of two genres - the first part is pure romance, and just when you think that the Happily Ever After is around the corner, a murder happens, which throws my heroine Anne back to the very beginning. This makes it difficult to sell in a traditional setting, but in e-publishing, anything is allowed!

What differences have you seen in the European market versus the US? I know you are very familiar with both.
The US are leading when it comes to the development of e-books and the corresponding technology. I only know two other people in Germany who have a Kindle, and when you look at buses and trains, you won't find people reading with e-readers yet. The i-pad has arrived in force, but so far, it's a limited target group (mostly male business types). In Germany, the prices for books are fixed by law - this means there are no discounts. Book shops can return all the books they don't sell. A newer law stated that German e-books have to cost the same as print books - so you can imagine that it'll still take some time to take off over here. I'm always looking across the pond, fascinated by the changes going on. If it wasn't for the Internet and all the advice people share so freely, I wouldn't be published today. I have three romance novels published with Avalon Books, a traditional publishing house in New York that was recently sold to Amazon.

What are your thoughts about going the independent publishing route given all the buzz that's around that topic, not to mention the huge success many have had?
I think it's great. I'm learning every day and find that the Internet is a whole new dimension. It has its dangers, but the chances are amazing. I don't count on being the next millionnaire, though. I believe it still takes patience, building up the craft, and learning all the time. You have to be very flexible, have to test things, and you have to learn to keep your motivation up even if you hear that someone has just sold 40,000 copies - and you have sold what - 10?

How do we find your work? I know it's great, fun, and very entertaining. I want to be sure others can find it too.
The hardcovers from Avalon Books can be found in libraries, but all of my releases are available on the usual platforms - Amazon, B&N, etc. 
Here's a link to Amazon: 

What comes next??? 
I'm working on a book series which is also set in Florence. Each book is a complete cozy mystery, with a romance between the heroine and the investigating Commissario as the arch that links them all.
The heroine has a completely crazy and very interfering family. It all starts when the heroine finds her grandfather dead one hour before her cousin's wedding. In order to avoid destroying the wedding, she hides the grandfather in his bed and tells everyone he didn't feel like coming. However, they soon learn that the grandfather was murdered and the heroine finds it hard to explain to the stony-faced Commissario why she moved the body. I had so much fun writing this novel and hope that it'll make my readers laugh, too. 

If you wish to be kept updated, just send me a quick note via the form on my website:, and I'll add you to my newsletter-list.

Thank you so much for joining us. I loved our time together in Matera. I know our readers will fully enjoy spending time with you between the pages.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kari's Kave: Racing to the Finish!

As I train for my first 5k ever, I can't help think about my writing.

I feel like this summer has been a marathon in itself. Travel lacrosse teams and then college visits galore. On top of that, I decided to go from couch potato to 5k.

WHAT was I thinking?

I actually am really liking running :-) Who knew?

But as I run, I think how can I go faster? What corners can I cut to race to the finish? I find myself doing the same thing with my writing. How fast can I type? How quickly can I finish this book?

The scary part is...what am I leaving out by doing that? What am I missing? Am I on this roller coaster ride of cranking out pages that quality might start to slip? Like running, I might finish faster, but it ain't gonna be pretty. Same with my book. I might finish faster, but it might not be that good, either.

Sometimes it's worth slowing down.

The point of the 5k is to finish, period. Not kill myself in the process. Same with my books. I've stopped beating myself up for not meeting my own personal deadlines. In the end, I want the product to be good and more than pretty...I want it to sparkle :-)

Happy reading and writing, folks. I'm off for a run!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Anita's Attic: Where Did Summer Go?

Am I the only one who feels like time is moving at warp speed while I'm moving as slowly as this snail? Not that I know what warp speed really is. But I swear, I don't know where summer went. One minute I was dreading the kids getting out of school because I have deadlines and not enough uninterrupted writing time and the next I'm sitting at football practice talking to my mom on the phone and I realize that we have ONE WEEK left of summer vacation.

For me, all summers go quickly, but this one has zoomed. I didn't get as much new writing done as I would have liked, but I did go through two rounds of developmental edits and copy edits. And I've done a lot of plotting. So when you consider that I've gotten to spend more time with the kiddos and gotten some things done, it's all good.

But come next week, I've got to put my head down and move faster. Not like Mr. Snail, who was in my driveway a few weeks ago. He (or maybe he was a she) is cute in an ugly sort of way, but if I'm going to make my deadlines, I've got to move faster.

How about you? Have you accomplished the things you wanted this summer?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Liz’s Lair: Pomo What????

Now that I’ve got you curious I think I’ll make you wait a few more minutes while I talk about my booksigning yesterday at aReal Bookstore. Trust me, it will be worth the wait, so indulge me.

A Real Bookstore is a huge indie store in Fairview, Texas. It’s really a terrific store, and we had a wonderful lunch from their fantastic deli. I decided to have my first booksigning for BEEF STOLEN-OFF there because they were so sweet last year when I had my launch party for LIVER LET DIE. Anyway, I signed with the wonderful Diane Kelly who wore a beehivey pink wig like one of the character from her book (Tara Holloway mysteries from SMP which are hysterical, BTW.) And I was so excited to have two friends from Iowa drive down to sign also. Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter write the Pampered Pet mysteries(also wonderful)  from Belle Bridge Books as Sparkle Abbey. I met these two in a bar (of course!) at a mystery conference last year and we forged a fast friendship.

Anyway, the signing was also a Q & A session and it went really well. Did I mention there was a divine three-layer chocolate cake (Thanks, Lorna of aRealBookstore.) Here’s a picture of all of us with a couple who drove sixty  miles because they wanted to meet me and Diane. (They bought Sparkle Abbey books and will soon be a fan of theirs, too!) 
Before I forget I want to thank all my DARA friends who came out to support us. )Vicki, Gay, Kat, Juliet, Pam, Angela, Karen, Patience (who used to be in the same Iowa RWA chapter with Sparkle Abbey) Linda and anyone else I missed. Also thanks to my daughter who brought my two grandsons and Tim Woods and Steve Carter and a whole bunch of Mary Lee’s wonderful relatives. We had a really good time. Now, I have to find an excuse to go to Des Moine!!

Before the signing I took Mary Lee and Anita to the DARA meeting which was a bit different from their very small meetings back in  Iowa. We had a wonderful speaker, Mary DeMuth who talked about how to succeed in publishing without burnout.

OMG! Could  there be a more necessary topic for me? I’ve been whining so long about my deadlines and blah, blah, blah. You have to be sick of me. Hell, I’m sick of me!

Well back to my story (no wonder I can’t get any writing done. See how easily I’m distracted.) Mary ended the wonderful program with a way to get back on track, and I swear, the woman was talking directly to me. She told us about the Pomodoro Method.

What in the world is that, you ask? Remember those kitchen timers that look like a tomato? Well. pomodora means tomato in Italian and thus the name, Here’s the method in a nutshell.

  1. Buy a timer (they advocate the ticking kind, but it would drive me crazy. I have a digital one.)
  2. Write down the stuff you want to accomplish in a day (decide how much of that you can do in twenty minutes.)
  3. Set the timer for 25 minutes
  4. During that time only concentrate on that task.
  5. At the buzzer, get up and walk around. Do something else for 5 minutes.
  6. Then set the timer again for another 25 minutes.
  7. Follow the steps above until you’ve done 4 twenty five minute segments. Then take a 30 minute break.

Isn’t this terrific? I can do this, even with my short attention span. Thank to Mary DeMuth and this easily followed method. And guess what—the Pomodoro Method in its entirety is a free download here and even has a cheatsheet and a worksheet. I love freebies, especially ones this good.

I woke up this morning not so intimidated by my deadlines and ready to get to work. I’ll let you know if I love it. Now, tell me about how you work everyday? Do you time yourself or just write until you drop? The funny thing about that is that Mary mentioned a study that found that working constantly statistically yields less output.

Yes, you read that right. Long, long hours at a job isn’t as productive as you thought. Just what I needed to hear. Call the new me The Twenty-Five Minute Girl.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cassy’s Corner- Ballooning

I have never been in a hot air balloon before yesterday. The real deal. Huge balloon, tiny basket where three of us barely fit (pilot, my husband and I). We watched as they fired up the canopy. It took three men all working constantly to ready the balloon.  The balloon is huge.  We lifted gently off the ground. The only sounds are the wind and the fire jets of heat intermittently sent into the balloon to keep us afloat.
There is no steering device, so you go where the wind takes you. Yesterday was not a windy day, hence part of my story.
The two men who didn’t join us on the flight drove a “chase car” and were in communication via walky-talky with our pilot so they always knew where we were. Truthfully the balloon is so large and bright green I’m not sure they could have missed us.
We got to about 10,000 feet. It was incredible. The flight is worth blogging about but truly isn’t my point.
My point is in thinking about how we perceive our world. With little wind we really didn’t travel a huge distance. The area we covered was well known to us. My husband would gesture to a restaurant we love to frequent. He’d show me a road and remind me that we take that path to a nearby town. He helped keeping me aware of the landmarks. I was lost.
Here was the area I have driven for four years. I know these roads. I know the ways of getting from one place to another. I know the landmarks. NO. Not true.
From the air the appearance of the landscape I thought I knew was totally different.
It gave me thought. Here was an area I know well. But when the perspective was changed so was my connection. I was lost.
My husband touched my arm, “Honey, there’s Radicondoli.”
Of course I thought. Of course it is. But, it’s not the Radicondoli I know.
So, what do we know. We sit at our computers happily typing away. We create people who live with us for many months. But here was a space I thought I knew. Yet I did not.
Coming from the sky changed my image. It has forced me to think of perception and of attitude. We see things as we choose. But there are moments when we realize that a new experience creates a fully different perspective. Looking at what I thought  knew from so many feet above taught me I really don’t know. As with our writing, we are comfortable with our habits. Yet, as they are changed we discover we have new possibilities. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kari's Kave: Gremlins are the worst!

Okay, so I swear there are Gremlins out to get me.

I tried all morning to do a post for today, but my stupid internet wasn't cooperating.

I finally get internet back, and then my computer decided to stop cooperating.


Then I wrote new pages for the first time in a long time, and .....I lost them!

Insert screaming!

That is the worst. So hard to recreate something you've just written, and I loved it! Loved where it was going, loved the dialogue...grrrr.

Damn gremlins!

What do you do when life doesn't seem to want to cooperate?

I am off to get an oil change and read a good book, unless the gremlins decide to make my car break down and kill my kindle!

Someone will die if that happens.

Seriously, what do you do when life hands you lemons...other than grab the tequila and salt, Liz, which is sounding pretty good right  now :-)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Anita's Attic: The Three Amigos

Writers are intrigued by the unusual and bizarre, at least I am. I got
this email and the story wasn't just unusual, but it was so amazing
that I wanted to share. The photos are credited to Barcroft Media.
I have no idea where the story originally posted, but it stirs my
imagination and my heart.

(Scroll down to the very bottom. Blogger put some lots of white
space between the photos.)

 The 3 Amigos

They make an unlikely trio but Baloo the bear, Leo the lion
and Shere Khan the tiger have forged an unusually strong

Considering that they would be mortal enemies if they ever
were to meet in the wild, it is stunning to see their unique
and genuine friendship in these intimate pictures.Rescued 
eight years ago during a police drugs raid in Atlanta, Georgia,
the three friends were only cubs at the time at barely two
months old.
They had been kept as status symbol pets by the drug barons.
Delivered to the Noah's Ark Animal Rescue Centre in Locust
Grove, Georgia, the decision was made to keep the youngsters
together, because of their budding rapport.

"We could have separated them, but since they came as a kind
of family,  the zoo decided to keep them together," said Diane
Smith, assistant director of Noah's Ark. "To our knowledge,
this is the only place where you'll find this combination of
animals together."

Living with the zoo's founders for the past eight years, Shere
Khan, Baloo and Leo have now moved to a purpose-built
habitat where the US public can now witness first hand their
touching relationships.
"We didn't have the money to move them at first," said Diane.
"Now their habitat is sorted and they have been moved away
from the children's zoo areas where the public couldn't really
get a good look."

"It is possible to see Baloo, who is a 1000lb bear, Shere Khan,
a 350lb tiger and Leo, who is also 350lbs, messing around like 
brothers. They are totally oblivious to the fact that in any other
circumstance they would not be friends."

Handled by Charles and Jama Hedgecoth, the zoo's owners
and founders, the three friendly giants appear to have no
comprehension of their animal differences."Baloo and Shere
Khan are very close,"says Diane. "That is because they rise
early, and as Leo is a lion, he likes to spend most of the day

"It is wonderful and magical to see a giant American Black
Bear put his arm around a Bengal and then to see the tiger
nuzzle up to the bear like a domestic cat. When Leo wakes
up the three of them mess around for most of the day before
they settle down to some food."
"Surprisingly for three apex predators with the power to kill
with a single bite or swipe of their paw, they are very relaxed
around each other.They eat, sleep and play together," said
Jama. "As they treat each other as siblings they will lie on
top of each other for heat and simply for affection."

"At the moment they are getting used to their new habitat.
Shere Khan is being quite reticent about the move, but Baloo,
the bear, is very good at leading him on and making him feel
comfortable and safe."

Explaining that the three 'brothers' have always seemed to
share a unique bond, Charles said: "Noah's Ark is their home
and they could not possibly be separated from each other. You
just have to remember who you're dealing with when you are
with them, though. It's when you forget that these fellows are
wild animals that you get yourself in trouble."The trio's new
habitat had to be constructed carefully, in order to
accommodate its occupants.

Jama said: "The clubhouse had to be very sturdy for the guys,
because they all sleep in it together." She added: "We had to
include a creek, because the tiger and the bear both like to be
in water."

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Liz’s Lair: Reader Appreciation Day

I, Liz Lipperman, sometimes known as Lizbeth Lipperman, declare today, August 20th as Reader Appreciation Day. Readers all over the world stand up and take a bow. You all are awesome, and I love you.

To celebrate today I decided to post some of the funniest comments from readers. I’ll let you guys vote for your favorite, and the winner will get their choice of an autographed copy of BEEF STOLEN-OFF, an ARC of MURDER FOR THE HALIBUT, or a free download of MORTAL DECEPTION. And guess what? For helping me pick the winner, one lucky commenter will get the same prize, So don’t forget to leave me with your email address when you comment. Here goes;

1.I can now blame you for my not being able to see straight two days in a row as I stayed
up until 2 am two nights reading.

2. Jordan wasn't annoying in this one and story just sucked me in right away.

3. I’m on page 284 and I LOVE Nate! Please don’t hurt him. I’m worried to death something bad will happen to him!

4. It really held my interest without boring me with technical information that I'd probably forget before I finished the book.

5. One of those books that has you saying "Ahhhh!!! That's it??? I wasn't finished..""

6. I cannot wait to read more about Jordan and her crazy crew. I need neighbors like that! =)

7. My daughter hates me for constantly singing the song Live or Let Die and the acoustics that go with it. Because I can't sing with or without a margarita

8. Besides, who couldn't love a Ho-Ho-girl?

9. I had the pleasure of reading this while I was down with the flu - and I almost forgot I was sick

10. Buckle up,'re in for one helluva ride! And bring your fan...

So, vote away, and you might even win something today. And if you've got a great comment from one of your readers, please share it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cassy's Corner- Sentences

Where Do Sentences Come From?

Draft is a series about the art and craft of writing.
Sift the debris of a young writer’s education, and you find dreadful things — strictures, prohibitions, dos, don’ts, an unnatural and nearly neurotic obsession with style, argument and transition. Yet in that debris you find no traces of a fundamental question: where do sentences come from? This is a philosophical question, as valuable in the asking as in the answering. But it’s a practical question, too. Think about it long enough, and you begin to realize that many, if not most, of the things we believe about writing are false.
Whenever you find an unasked question you’ve also found an assumption. Here’s another example: what is writing for? The answers seem obvious — communication, persuasion, expression. But the real answer in most classrooms is this: writing is for making assigned writing. Throughout their education, students everywhere are asked repeatedly to write papers that are inherently insincere exercises in rearranging things they’ve read or been told — papers in which their only stake is a grade. There’s no occasion to ask something as basic as “Where do sentences come from?”
Certain kinds of writers do try to answer this question. They talk about “process” as if it explained something important. But what “process” usually describes is the circumstances — time, place, tools — in which certain writers believe that sentences come from wherever they come from. That gets us nowhere. It’s like asking where water comes from and pointing to a David Hockney pool as an answer.
Alex Camlin
So let’s demystify the origin of sentences. Think of it this way. You almost surely have a voice inside your head. At present, it’s an untrained voice. It natters along quite happily, constructing delayed ripostes and hypothetical conversations. Why not give it something useful to do? Memorize some poetry or prose, nothing too arcane. A rhythmic kind of writing works best, something that sounds almost spoken. Then play those passages over and over again in your memory. You now have in your head something that is identifiably “language,” not merely thoughts that somehow seem unlinguistic.
Now try turning a thought into a sentence. This is harder than it seems because first you have to find a thought. They may seem scarce because nothing in your education has suggested that your thoughts are worth paying attention to. Again and again I see in students, no matter how sophisticated they are, a fear of the dark, cavernous place called the mind. They turn to it as though it were a mailbox. They take a quick peek, find it empty and walk away.
So experiment a little. Make a sentence of your own in your head. Don’t write it down. Any kind of sentence will do, but keep it short. Rearrange it. Reword it. Then throw it out. Make another. Rearrange. Reword. Discard. You can do this anywhere, at any time. Do it again and again, without inscribing anything. Experiment with rhythm. Let the sentences come and go. Evaluate them, play with them, but don’t cling to them. If you find a sentence you really like, let it go and look for the next one. The more you do this, the easier it will be to remember the sentences you want to keep. Better yet, you’ll know that you can replace any sentence you lose with one that’s just as good.
There’s a good reason for doing this all in your head. You’re learning to be comfortable in that dark, cavernous place. It’s not so frightening. There’s language there, and you’re learning to play with it on your own without the need to snatch at words and phrases for an assignment. And here’s another good reason. A sentence you don’t write down is a sentence you feel free to change. Inscribe it, and you’re chained to it for life. That, at least, is how many writers act. A written sentence possesses a crippling inertia.
What should these mental sentences be about? Anything you happen to notice. Anything you happen to think. Anything you want to say. You could make a sentence merely because a word keeps popping into your mind. But learn to play with every sentence you make in your head, shuffling words, searching for accuracy, listening for rhythm. Your memory will surprise you. Because you’re writing nothing down, it may seem as though you’re not writing at all. But you’re building confidence, an assurance that when you’re in the place where sentences come from — deep in the intermingling of thought and words — you’re in a place where good things usually happen.
Before you learn to write well, to trust yourself as a writer, you will have to learn to be patient in the presence of your own thoughts. You’ll learn that making sentences in your head will elicit thoughts you didn’t know you could have. Thinking patiently will yield far better sentences than you thought you could make.
I’m repeatedly asked how I write, what my “process” is. My answer is simple: I think patiently, trying out sentences in my head. That is the root of it. What happens on paper or at the keyboard is only distantly connected. The virtue of working this way is that circumstances — time, place, tools — make no difference whatsoever. All I need is my head. All I need is the moments I have.
There’s no magic here. Practice these things, and you’ll stop fearing what happens when it’s time to make sentences worth inscribing. You’ll no longer feel as though a sentence is a glandular secretion from some cranial inkwell that’s always on the verge of drying up. You won’t be able to say precisely where sentences come from — there is no where there — but you’ll know how to wait patiently as they emerge and untangle themselves. You’ll discover the most important thing your education left out: how to trust and value your own thinking. And you’ll also discover one of things writing is for: pleasure.

Verlyn Klinkenborg
Verlyn Klinkenborg is a member of The New York Times Editorial Board and the author, most recently, of “Several Short Sentences About Writing.”

Kari's Kave: Road Trips & Bonding!

Yay....we made it to IL!

Today is the first day of my road trip to visit colleges and meet lacrosse coaches and see stadiums! So exciting....or at least it was this morning when we headed out. After 12 hours in the car, I am pooped!

The whether held up for the most part. A bit of rain but not too bad.

The construction wasn't too bad. Parts slowed us down but nothing major. Maybe 30 minutes.

Hubby has to work so he stayed home with other 2 kids, while I took two oldest boys.

Sum up...

12 hours on the road: exhausting
Freaking tolls: expensive
Doing all the driving alone: horsepucky
Bonding with my boys...priceless :-)

They crack me up. They laughed and talked and even played music and talked about songs, etc. For once they weren't glued to their gadgets. So we bonded for a long time. Then finally they zoned out, which was okay because we had bonded.

So while they slept for a while, I zoned out into my own world, and I bonded with my characters!

Some of the best thinking I do is when I'm driving. Especially long distance alone (or with kids sleeping). Just me and the open road and my story...priceless :-)

So tell me, where and when do you do your best thinking? Inquiring minds want to know.

Next stop...Michigan!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Anita's Attic: A Good Feeling

Have you heard the song that goes, “oh, oh sometimes, I get a good feeling…” Well, it goes something like that. I'm probably butchering it. But anyway, my kids and Austin love that song, and actually I do too. I don’t know what the person is singing about--I'm not 100% sure if it's a man or a woman singing--It could be drugs for all I know, but it sounds upbeat and it does make me feel good.

But when it comes to good feelings, what really gives makes me smile is hearing from readers. It's so amazing to read an email from someone who has taken the time to not only buy and read the books, but to thank me for my stories. Wow. I've made an impact in this person's life. Maybe it's only a small one, but that's mind boggling for me. When I started writing, I couldn’t imagine reaching readers, much less having fans. When hubby says, "What are you doing?" and I say, "I'm answering fan mail" it's a very surreal. Me, answering fan mail.

But it isn't just humbling and exciting, it's scary. I mean, I owe these readers. They've invested in me and I have to deliver. Book after book after book. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. I LOVE my readers and I love writing. I just hope the readers keep on enjoying my stories. 

Here are a few of my feel-good emails (without the names). 

I have just gotten lost in both of your books! I have read everyone's and yet...your suspense and love stories are so real to how I imagine it would be! I think you are absolutely wonderful and Thank You ever so much for these characters and stories!.....I can't wait for the next! Bless you and your family!

I was wondering when the next book was coming out in Highlander Warrior Series? I have read both books and I am itching for more! LOL! 

Not long ago, I found Awaken and just tonight I finished Embrace.  They were both absolutely wonderful!  I love how you crafted all of these wonderful characters, created superbly interwoven plot lines, and developed a sizzling suspense that has me itching for the next novel… I so look forward to reading more.  I haven't been this excited about a series in a long time.  Thank you!

I have read both books and I loved them. I could not put it down.  My question is if you are planning to write a third one.  We still don't really know why Tristol wants Shay and why does Shay and Bree have special abilities. In addition, I also want to know what is going to happen to Duncan and Sorcha? Is she his mate? What behind her constant need to hurt Duncan? I really hope that you are writing another book in this series.

I have been waiting impatiently for the next book in your highland series. I read the first two within a day of them coming out and I hope you are continuing the series. I read a lot of highland warrior romance. On average a book every two days and I can honestly say I find yours by far the most imaginative and riveting. Please don’t let us Anita fans down. Keep writing, I need my Anita highlander fix!!!                    

Now that gives a writer a good feeling!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Liz's Lair: The Three Words You Never want to Hear Out of Your Hairdresser's Mouth

As I was curling my hair the other day, I got to thinking about different hair colors and decided to blog about it. This subject didn't just pop into my head, mind you, but to tell you how it got there requires a little back story.

Since I was in my early thirties I have been getting my hair highlighted. My three sisters are all blondes, and I am the only brunette, so I put a little blonde in my hair to make me fit in!

Anyway, when I started noticing gray hairs I began to get highlights and lowlights. (that's some blonde and some brown highlights.)Then the gray went crazy, and I now have to get all my hair colored brown, followed by highlighting with blond. This has been working fine until I got a wild hair up my you-know-what  and decided I wanted a little touch of red. A few of my friends had gone this route, and I liked the way it looked on them. So, I had my hairdresser add a touch of red to the brown dye.

The results weren't bad, and I got a lot of compliments on my hair. Still, when it was time to redo the color, I decided I liked the darker brown to contrast with my dark brown eyes. I told her to just add a small smidgen of red this time.

As I leaned back in the shampoo bowl while she rinsed out the color, I heard the three words you should never hear from your hairdresser.
"Oh  my God!"

"What'?" I asked, trying not to get alarmed. I have crappy hair anyway. I didn't need an OH MY GOD moment.

"I'm pretty sure you're gonna want me to redo this," she said as calmly as she could.

"Are you freakin' kidding me?" I asked when I got my first look.  I was now a redhead. And not just a chestnutty redhead. I was a Lucille Ball look-alike without the curls. Needless to say I freaked out. Even after she redid it, it didn't entirely remove the red. So, because my hair is so fragile and it had already been dyed twice and still needed the blonde highlights, I decided I would just have to stay a redhead for a few months before I dared to redye it.

And you know what? Although I will definitely go back to the overall brown, the reddish tone does make it look like I have more hair than I actually have.

Anyway, all this got me thinking about Jordan McAllister, my heroine in the Clueless Cook series. She's a redhead with bright blue eyes and the fiery temperament  of the Irish. See what I just did there? I stereotyped her the way I imagine all redheaded women to be--feisty and independent. Redheaded men aren't so lucky in my mind.  I'm guessing they took a lot of teasing in their youth.. You know, "I'd rather be dead than red on the head." Admit it--you tortured some poor redheaded boy at least once in your life.

All this made me curious, so I did a little research, and I found the most interesting study about hair colors and stereotyping. We've all heard the blonde jokes, and we know that redheads are seen as competent but cold with a fiery temper. This article addresses whether stereotypes affect job progression, mobility, and the rise to the corporate suites. They used 500 members of the London Financial Times Stock Exchange and discovered that blondes, who are viewed historically as less competent but likable, were under presented in positions of corporate leadership in the UK. Redheads, while a miniscule number in the UK population, were over selected to lead some of the United Kingdom and Europe's largest wealthiest companies

“This stereotype of incompetence, by definition, affects the status of blondes in society and in particular in the workplace. One may conclude if a stereotype operates to label a group as incompetent, it also restricts
their ability to raise their status in the corporate hierarchy. Thus, negative stereotyping of hair color does appear to affect placement into leadership positions, particularly at the CEO level. The dumb blonde myth
then is not a myth. Perception becomes reality and the pattern perpetuates.By having an awareness of the issue, further investigation into the stereotyping is important and warranted. While the research indicated
stereotyping is unconscious, moving such awareness to instruments including job screening forms could help counter such seemingly discriminatory actions and possibly minimize the stereotype.”

Who knew that the color of your hair would help you rise to the top of your company? Read the entire article here.

What's this all have to do with writing? The next time you are giving your characters certain attributes, remember that hair color can be very important. I just finished copy edits for MURDER FOR THE HALIBUT, and the copy editor begged me to add some different eye colors other than dark. We all know that a person's weight and dress affect them in a job interview. I wonder if there's been a study about eye colors and stereotypes.

Now I want to know your take on all this. Are you conscious of this stereotyping  when you're writing in your characters new characters?

While I wait on yout  comments , I'll just sit here and try to figure out how I can get to the UK and a new six-figure corporate CEO position with my new red hair. Someone's got some 'splainin' to do.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Barbie's Bunkhouse: Raging Storms

What's up with the weather lately??? I swear, temperatures on the East Coast are rivaling those out West! Not only are we experiencing extreme bouts of heat, but we've been hit with some pretty harsh storms as well. don't get me wrong, I don't mind the rain or the occasional thunder storm. But hail and deadly lightening?? What is mother nature thinking?

All this crazy weather has me thinking of romance. The heat and humidity can be like a hot and steamy love scene. Thunder and Lightening is the big black moment. Hail and high winds are the conflict scenes. The calm after the storm, the resolution and rebuilding. Sunshine and rainbows of course are the happily ever after!

Okay, now that I've justified it, let's see what kind of emotions storms bring out in us. I do love the sound of the rain. And there's just something about passionate kisses in the rain (I won't lie, I've had one many moons ago and have never forgotten it!) The smell of the air before it rains and even after the storm passes.

I think experiencing different weather changes can certainly help us when putting those rich details in our writing. Even if we don't, sometimes just looking at the weather map and seeing in Arizona it's 110 degrees. I don't care that it's a dry heat....I would still be hot and miserable! :-)

But it's not all about the heat and rain. Snow can conger up memories and emotions too. Skating, skiing, snuggling by the fire with hot cocoa.

Sometimes in our writing we go through stormy periods. We get writer's block, which builds and builds until we eventually work through it. There's the decisions of what to work on next, when ideas seem to be screaming in our brains all at once. We just need to quiet the thunder and let the story of our hearts shine through - the story calling to us the most - in order for the rainbow to appear and our muses to be happy.

When our muse is happy - the story seems to write itsself.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cassy’s Corner- The Sense of Community

I recently returned from a visit with my parents. It usually takes me about four hours to drive from their house in New Hampshire to mine in Connecticut. Somehow my husband is able to make it just over three hours, but that’s a different story.
My drive was going along very well until I reached the Massachusetts Turnpike. Dead stop, backed up for more miles than I could see. I was tired and had already been on the road for over two hours. Frustration rose. I was alone in the car as my husband was in Japan. Soon my stewing and feeling sorry for myself abated. Emergency vehicles zoomed by on the right shoulder. Clearly some one or some ones were have a far worse day than I. With that in mind, I decided to play some games.
First, I turned up the music, picking an CD I enjoy. With the windows closed, the music as loud as I could tolerate, I sang along at full volume. My head was bobbing, one hand tapping the steering wheel, and I was having fun. This is, you must realize, while my car was in park. We weren't going anywhere.
I glanced sidewise. In the next car a young man gave me a thumbs up as he could see inside my car-as I was boogying. I laughed. You have to realize this is not normal for me.
I then needed a new activity. This was going on for ages at less than two miles per hour. So, I’m a writer and what do you do? You read bumper stickers. “If you can rd this U R up my arse.” Lovey, no?  “I seek a higher place in life, don’t send me there.”  My favorite—“Warning, dear crossing.”
But, we were moving so slowly I really didn’t have a chance to a have a great selection.
Then there was the woman who motioned to me. She waved at my car and then pointed at hers. Back and forth. I finally figured out the message. Our cars matched. Same color. Same model and looked liked the same year. We were twins and she was thrilled. Great. We are on I-90 going two miles an hour and she has found a friend.
The best part happened next. A station wagon slipped up next to me. On the back were two adult serious bicycles and two of the smallest bikes I’ve ever seen. On in blue and one in pink—all strapped to the back of the car. Certainly there were children in the car. They hedged forward a few inches, then so did I. I peeked into their car. Yes, a small boy and girl were strapped into the back. I waved, one handed as the other was on the steering wheel.
I had their four hands waving back with exuberance. I was smiling and chuckling. Our cars moved six feet in front of each other every 10 minutes. We waved each time.
I came away from the almost six hour drive feeling fulfilled. Why? Because with the man who gave the thumbs up on my silly singing, the lady who wanted to show me we had the same car, and the kids who gave me a game that took me back years to my own girls, we made a small community. Strangers who will never see each other again connected. It was lovely.
I have been thinking about this. We reach out in so many different ways. AND that influences what we write.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Kari's Kave: It's Marathon Time

Okay, so my best friend and longtime CP have decided to train for our first ever 5K marathon!

Eeeek, what have I gotten myself into?

It's one of those things where you're getting older, and you're experiencing more aches and pains, and you realize that what we do for a living is very sedentary. We sit on our bums all day long! We both realized OMG we need to make a serious change in our lives before we get too old to do so.

So we are following a beginner plan from couch potato to 5K.

There's a race right here in Syracuse in September, so follow along and wish us luck.

What does this have to do with writing you might ask? Well, at least I asked myself that :-) And I realized sometimes we get stuck in a rut with our own writing. We get off track, we procrastinate, our writing becomes flat, etc. So we must do something about it.

Start writing every day, no matter what. Then keep pushing yourself to do a bit more every day. Mix it up and write outside for a change. Something to keep your motivation up and your spirits high. Then at the end of your marathon, you'll have accomplished your goal and completed your book! Think how great you'll feel.

No more excuses!

Okay, so I'm talking as much to myself here, folks :-)

Time to get off our bums and get busy! Good luck.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Anita's Attic: What I Learned From Thomas Jefferson

Last month the kids went to the grandparents for a summer visit. It was great not having to play Mom Taxi and it was great to have some time to spend with hubby. After a Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean marathon, Austin and I decided we should get out of the house. Since we live not far from Charlottesville, Virginia, we decided to tour Monticello where Thomas Jefferson lived.

First, it's a shame that I'm a Virginia native and hadn't been before, but as the tour guide said, "Better late than never." I have to say I wish I had gone before. Perhaps on a day when it wasn't 95 degrees outside, but it was a great trip. I was mesmerized by the place and by the man who built it. The house, considered an architectural masterpiece, was lovely, but not quite as large or fancy as I had expected.

Instead of a grand staircase when you entered the house, tucked away in a corner was a tiny staircase  that would have been difficult for a large man to squeeze into. Jefferson was a creative genius, but also efficient. He believed a grand staircase was a waste of space. The entrance to Monticello was like a mini museum, giving his visitors a glimpse of American history while they waited to be received. Jefferson was a lawyer, politician, avid reader, fascinated by education, astronomy, weather, architecture, government, horticulture and most anything you could think of.

His inventions were remarkable. He invented a copy machine (a device that would move a second pen as he wrote), double-pane windows when no one had them, a self-opening the 18th century! and many more things to make life more efficient. The man was a brilliant.

And he kept slaves....Therein lies the rub.

How could a man so enlightened, so foreward-thinking and caring of humanity and education have enslaved human beings? It doesn't make sense to me, and it's disappointing. He was from a prominent family and anyone with a significant amount of land in those days had to have many hands to do the work. Jefferson himself inherited 3,000 acres when he was young and the land probably came with slaves. I think he was so used to slavery that he turned a blind eye to the despicable trade. And to make matters more interesting, after his wife died, he had a long-time relationship with one of his slaves, and he fathered three of her children. Or so go the rumors, and they're pretty solid rumors because even the tour guides discuss it on the tour.

Here's a man who authored the Declaration of Independence, served as the 3rd President of our country, as well as many other political offices, established the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, founded the University of Virginia, just to mention a few of his numerous contributions and accomplishments, yet he kept slaves and had a relationship with one of them, even had children with her.Sounds like a novel. In fact, Jefferson would make a great character for a book. Characters, just like people, aren't all good or all bad. Good characters have flaws. Sometimes serious flaws (like tolerating slavery.) The best bad characters aren't all bad. They have some redeeming qualities hidden in there somewhere. They might not ultimately choose to act on them, but they're there.

During my visit to Monticello, I didn't just learn about Thomas Jefferson's accomplishments and his contribution to our history or about his remarkable inventions, but it was a reminder that good people do some not so good things. We're complex and flawed, just like the characters we write in our stories.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Liz’s Lair: A Killer Summer And A New Attitude!

I had such good intentions at the beginning of summer. I really did. But they all went to Hell in a handbasket in no time. Here’s the sad story. The summer started out at the end of May when I spent a week with my Bunko buddies in Key Largo. We do this every year and we had a blast, as usual.

Somehow, I managed to get through June without too much drama and I did get a little writing done. Then July came along and the proverbial fecal matter hit the fan. BEEF STOLEN-OFF released July 3rd, and although I didn’t do as big a promotion tour as I did with LIVER LET DIE, there were a lot of blogs to write and time spent marketing the new book. Did I mention my 3 sisters and 3 nieces came for a visit the day before BSO released? They were here for a week, and although we also had a blast (I have the most fun family ever.) I went nonstop. 

After the sisters left, I had a week’s reprieve for more marketing before we left on a week’s family vacation at Canyon Lake. That was also a blast, but it was so activity-filled that I felt like I needed a vacation when we got back.

But Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo. I had another week’s reprieve but I spent it trying to catch up with everything. Then I got my two granddaughters (ages 1 and 3) while their parents sail off to the British Virgin Islands. As of today, we are in Day 4 of a 10 day babysitting gig and we’re surviving. Actually, the girls are so much fun to be around, but like all kids their age, they require your undivided attention. When they go to sleep at 8ish, we fall into bed ourselves. 

I have pretty much declared the entire summer as a no-writing time since I am one of those authors who need total concentration. I wish I could sit down for thirty minutes at a time and write, but I’m not. I decided that a long time ago and I don’t torture myself trying to change my writing ways just because someone else can do it that way.

So, this summer has flown by, leaving me exhausted, happy and WAY behind on my deadline for CHICKEN CACCHIA-KILLER. And you know what? I’m okay with that. If I need a deadline extension, so be it. When the girls go home next Sunday, I will put the pedal to the metal and get as much done as I can before I run off to Italy for a writer’s conference where I will be rubbing noses with European publishers and writers. (That's 5 cliches if you're counting!!)

And oh yeah, our house is on the market, so I have to keep it clean every day!

Hello. I’m Liz and  I have a new attitude. What about you? How’s your summer going?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Barbie's Bunkhouse: What now??

So I survived my girls weekend in Canada with my wonderful sisters in law! Okay, well, barely survived. It was a much needed escape and bonding time. Let me tell you, those women can shop!! I picked up a gorgeous pair of celtic earrings, and beautiful mood bracelet (changes colors with my body heat) from a local artisan. After spending most of the day in the trendy little town of Westport, we headed back to camp. And you guessed it, started happy hour.

Sailor Jerry came to play, and knowing others were going to join us, we made a run to the local package store to grab the Captain. (okay, that just sounds wrong!!) Trust me, I introduced my family to the wonders of spiced rum and diet cherry pepsi - my new obsession (maybe not so much now, at least for a while). We snacked and looked at pictures from Kathy's trip to Ireland with her quilting group. Gorgeous pics! I sooo want to go someday - it's on my list. Now, I'm a 2 shot girl. I like my drinks strong. Kathy is a bit of a lightweight, but Diane and I kept pace with each other. Our Red Solo Cups were empty before we refilled.

Apparently Diane is like my hubby. Either that or there was a conspiracy. I SWEAR, I'd only had 3 drinks and they hit me like a ton of bricks. I kid you not. I can't remember the last time I drank so much I could not speak. I used hand signals people!

Thumbs Up
Thumbs Down
Flat Line
Finger Up

Oh yeah....they thought it was extremely funny. And then I realized I needed to go to bed. My bed was out on the porch (screened in, cool at night and peaceful in the morning. I could have lived there!) So Diane made up my bed and Barbie Jo went "night-nights". Except I wasn't totally out for the count. Uh-Uh. This Irish girl still had some spunk. I could hear them talking, and they even called the hubby to tell him "The Princess has fallen!" Oh, remember, they had been drinking too! My poor hubby.  #1) He couldn't figure out who was calling him, #2) Who was the Princess #3) How did I fall? And guessed was picture time! They showed no mercy! Thank GOD the porch was too dark and the pics didn't come out. I surprised them by saying I could hear every word they said (I just couldn't open my eyes, sit up, or carry on conversation). And I think at one point I called them bitches for taking pictures of me. OMG, it was too funny.

Believe it or not, I woke up the next morning all bright-eyed and ready for coffee! NO Hangover!! YAY!!!! I'm still trying to figure out how Diane was not as drunk as I was. Unless SHE made my drinks stronger than hers....Hmmm...... I think the fact that we shopped and never had lunch was a factor as well. I do remember Eileen's husband BBQ'ing our chicken for us, and I remember devouring it at some point.  Oh boy.....

But that's the camping story. I love it in Canada. I needed the relaxation, and I did get some tweaking done on another short story I was trying to lengthen so I feel good that I was able to do some "work" for a couple hours each morning. Looking forward to it again next year!! (except maybe a little less Sailor Jerry. I never saw the Captain). So what do I do now?????

But this has been the last week of sports games with the kids (soccer and volleyball). I'm looking forward to the next couple of week nights off so that MAYBE I can get some serious writing done. Yeah...remember those 200 pages mentioned last week???? They still need to be written. And in between all of this are college visits with #1 son, and our family vacation.

2 weeks, 200 pages HAS to happen. The spiced men in my life need to stay away. Maybe they shall be my reward? Yes, there will be an Autumn girls retreat in my future. In celebration of deadline met.
Now I'm off to prepare for my Diva's bday party. 12 girls and a huge scavenger hunt. No writing today!!

Stay cool this weekend, folks! enjoy some family time and here's hoping SOMEONE gets their pages in for the day!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cassy’s Corner- Friends

I am picking up on the theme I wrote about last week- social media. Today is more about the concept of “friends”, “likes”, and relationships. Last night I had a conversation, a face-to-face conversation with someone important to me. We talked until midnight—two people sitting in a living room laughing and sharing stories. This person happens to be a dear friend, and also my mother.
During our evening we covered many topics including telling stories of an old family friend who used to be able to create chaos, total silliness, and total commitment. We had lots of moments to remember. Each story, some very very funny, had to do with an experience one of us had with this friend. Face-to-face experience.
It’s changed.
With email, FB, and Twitter we’ve started having friends and colleagues we’ve either never met or have met only once or twice. They are our “friends”. This has become a safety net of communication for many. How many loops do you belong to? How much encouragement have you received after you share a victory or a disappointment? How often do you post a question to a loop so others will help you out of the corner you’ve written yourself into? I reach out for clarification in tiny details I want to get right. 
I do it all the time. I seek out many of these contacts. They are my friends. And, I can find them while I am sitting in my kitchen wearing PJs.
One writer friend and I touch base nearly daily. She is in Europe; I’m in the US. She is a professional chef on a luxury private yacht. We write about our writing, about what’s happening in each of our lives, what is driving us nuts, exchange recipes (she is a chef after all), what the next project will be, and more. I consider her a good friend. She's planning on visiting me this summer- and we have two books thought through for which we will collaborate. Yet, we’ve only spent a few days together two years ago at the Brainstorming in Matera, Italy time I have told you about. I would be deeply saddened to lose contact with her. But that is part of the point I am making. How many people do you have as friends that you might never have met, or have met in passing? She is not "in passing". But so many are.
We have developed a new paradigm for communication. In part it’s fantastic. Yet again, as I now sit in a nightgown writing this to whomever wishes to read it, we are living in tiny bubbles.
I still laugh about the stories my mother and I told last night. They wouldn’t have been the same if we only had the words on our screen.