Mystery...Romance...Sci Fi...Humor... The joy of writing fiction - meeting brand new people in places that don't yet exist.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Beautiful Saturday Morning

Just a Saturday mini-blog...

It's a drop dead gorgeous morning in Dayton. Bright sun, blue sky, cool breezes, comfortable temps. There are a couple birds singing in the back yard but otherwise things are very quiet. And I have almost the whole day free. I 'm thinking of heading out to the deck with a mug of tea and my laptop to do some writing. Or maybe some reading. Or perhaps some of both.  Life is good.

I hope your day is looking as good to you.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Where do you think?

I ran this morning. My usual 5K route around the neighborhood. I know a serious runner would probably call my 12 minute/mile pace jogging rather than running but I read somewhere that you should be able to hold a conversation while jogging and since I’m gasping and wheezing like a broken bagpipe, I call it running.

Anyway, this morning I did what I usually do while I’m running…I wrote. Sort of. I was working on the sequence of events in a section I’m currently re-writing, playing with the order, looking for flaws in the logic. This is something I can’t do sitting at the keyboard. When I’m typing (or writing on paper), I get wrapped up in the words, in how I want to say something. To work on plot, structure, logic, etc. I need to walk away. Or run.

Sometimes just pacing around the house works. Sometimes it takes a longer walk.  I carry my little digital recorder with me so I don’t forget what I came up with before I get home. If I’m really stuck, I take a shower. I do my best thinking in the shower. I’ve gotten soggy and wrinkled working out a tricky plot twist. (I’ve also dripped all over my keyboard but that’s another story.)

How about you? Where do you do your best thinking? 

I’m currently enjoying: Delicious and Suspicious by Riley Adams

Quote of the day: The pessimist may be proved right in the long run, but the optomist has a better time on the trip.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mooku Challenge

Okay –we’ve got to have some fun while everyone’s off at RWA. So I offer up a Mooku Challenge!

What is Mooku, you ask? Well, it’s just Haiku…for cows.

Your challenge is to come up with a traditional Haiku poem (three lines: first line is five syllables, second is seven, third is five) that includes cows or dairy products.

I offer these three to get us started.

Milk sits in a glass
Its color is white as snow
Is there no Hershey’s?

I wait in the field
My udder is near bursting
Won’t someone milk me?

Old milk in the fridge
You sniff it uncertainly
But who will taste it?

Give it a try.

I’m still enjoying: Delicious and Suspicious by Riley Adams

Quote of the day: Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Unwriting (or My Novel and I are Both On a Diet)

I spent most of the weekend writing. Or more accurately, unwriting - a word that describes what I’m doing much better than ‘editing’. I finished my mystery, HUNTER’S WAY, last summer and, to use that old birth analogy, it weighed in at a whopping 150,000 words. No problem, I was sure my crew of beta readers would point out to me lots of areas that rambled or dragged or were totally unnecessary, and I’d be able to start trimming the fat. Unfortunately, they loved it. Pretty much as it. A writer’s dream come true. I received great suggestions for changes and corrections but nothing on major cuts.

Even in my unpublished ignorance, I know I’m going to have a hard time interesting an agent in a 150,000 word mystery from a new author, so I started hacking away. It’s hard. Beyond the “but I really like that scene” woes, there’s the risk of snipping away a vital clue or cutting a carefully woven thread and leaving it dangling. Then there’s the whole “show, don’t tell” issue. Showing makes a better story but telling takes fewer words and finding the happy medium is a challenge.

So that’s how I spent my weekend. And how I’ll be spending a lot more. I’m down to 128,000 words now, just over halfway through the story with a major cut/rewrite coming up.  You know, writing is a lot more fun than unwriting.  Wish me luck.

I’m currently enjoying: Delicious and Suspicious by Riley Adams

Quote of the day: Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

Friday, July 23, 2010

To Beat the Heat

Saturday seems to be a slow day for blogging so I decided to share a picture.  This is for all of my blog friends who have been bemoaning the heat in their hometowns.  I hear you.  It was 104 in my car this afternoon. So when you're wishing for winter, here it is.  Sparkling clean.  A thing of beauty.  A joy to behold.

And really freakin' COLD!

There - did that help? 

What do you mean, I can't do that?

A friend who’s been away on vacation visited my blog for the first time last night – and immediately asked where the RSS button was so she could sign up for new post e-mail alerts. Being a savvy blogger of all of two weeks I quickly responded, “Huh?”

I have my blog set up to notify me when I receive comments but it didn’t dawn on me that there was no way for my followers to do the same for my posts. Additional comments on posts they’ve commented on, yes. New posts, no. So I did some checking and discovered some blog hosts offer this feature and some don’t (not counting the use of add on “feed” sites). It surprised me once I thought about it. Since one of the purposes of having a blog is to reach followers, new post alerts seem like a very basic function.

I went back to my Blogger dashboard, which does provide me with a quick and easy way to see what’s been posted on the blogs I’m following, but then all those blogs are also on Blogger. This wasn’t intentional, I’ve just been following my nose from blog to blog and picking the ones that appealed to me, and Blogger sites lead to Blogger sites. I even tried adding a non Blogger site to my Dashboard reading list. Blogger accepted it but it didn’t play well with others (every post on that site showed as new).

Which brings me around to my questions of the day:

If you blog on Blogger, why did you choose it as your blog host? Do you follow many sites outside of the Blogger network? Do you think the lack of an easy “new post e-mail alert” option for followers is an issue?

If you blog on another host site, why did you choose that one? Is it easy for you to follow blogs on other hosts (i.e. Blogger)? Does your host offer a “new post e-mail alert” option for readers? Do you think it’s important?

If you don’t maintain your own blog but follow others, do you mainly follow blogs on Blogger or on other hosts as well. Does the lack of a “new post e-mail alert” option on Blogger impact how often you visit and/or how many sites you follow? If you follow a site that has the e-mail alert option, do you use it?

I’m going to continue checking into various blog host sites just to see what I come up with but, let’s face it, no one really knows how a service works like the user.

Quote of the day: Do Not Meddle in the Affairs of Dragons for You Are Crunchy and Good With Ketchup.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Comments from Snoopy

I have a number of pieces of paper stuck to the wall around my computer. Some are information, some are inspiration, and a couple are just to remind me not to take myself too seriously.

One of my favorites is an old Peanuts cartoon, clipped from a newspaper and yellowed with age. It’s three frames long and in each the picture is simply Snoopy, sitting on his doghouse with his trusty typewriter. The text goes like this:

Some nights were dark.
Some nights were stormy.

Some shots rang out.
Some maids screamed.

Some more editors
sent rejection slips.

How about you? What’s on your wall?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Unwritten Rules

I actually had reading time this weekend, mostly during a couple long car rides. Managed to finish one book, read a second all the way through and start a third. Wonderful!

But something I read is still bothering me. In one of these books, the author had one of her characters take a couple nasty swipes at another author, slamming her writing style and questioning her popularity. The character making the comments was not a sympathetic character so perhaps her comments where meant to be dismissed but, at the same time, no other character defended the second author or challenged the comments, so they were pretty much allowed to stand.

I’ve read a number of books where the author mentions another author or a character from another author’s work but this was different. Since the author in question (the one being slammed) is well known and extremely successful, the comments struck me a bit like sour grapes. As an “aspiring” writer I don’t know what the unwritten rules are for this sort of thing, so I’m wondering – as a writer, is making negative comments about another writer’s ability or popularity within one’s own story considered acceptable or even a compliment (as in, there's no such thing as bad publicity) or is it considered bad form? As a reader, what are your thoughts?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

5 Things

I saw this on Maria's blog and on Dru's blog so here's mine. I tried to include at least one thing in each category that wouldn't be on everyone's list. If you do this meme, please let me know so I can read yours.

5 things always in my purse
Too easy - I don't carry a purse. If it doesn't fit in my pockets, it doesn't go with me.

5 things always in my pockets
cell phone, keys, reading glasses, wallet, lucky coins

5 things always in my wallet
driver's license, credit card, medical insurance card, Red Cross Disaster Volunteer ID, grandkids pictures

5 things always in my refrigerator
milk, cheese, eggs, juice, dog food

5 things always in my closet
shirts, pants, blazers, three different sizes of clothes, assorted Red Sox gear

5 things always in my car
phone charger, umbrella, CD's, first aid kit, hair brush (necessity if you drive a soft top)

5 things always on my desk
computer, piles of paper, correspondence waiting to be answered, notepads, half finished mug of tea

Hope to see yours.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Guest Blogger - Tracy Lawrence

I'm still hoping for more feedback on my earlier post on "What is Paranormal?" so today I've invited Tracy Lawrence from my novel HUNTER'S WAY to fill in. Here's Tracy...

Hi. I’m Tracy Lawrence. I’ve been Kiri Hunter’s best friend since we were kids. Since the rest of the world still knew her as Elizabeth. But she’s always been Kiri to me.

You know, names are funny. When I first started writing, I debated on a pseudonym. For one thing, I didn’t want people to think I got published just because of Daddy’s money; but more than that, I didn’t want to embarrass my parents. They’re pretty conservative and I write nice gruesome murder mysteries. You know, serial killers and steamy sex. Not quite in keeping with the family image. But Mummy loved them. Especially the steamy sex! Really! She gives copies of my books to her friends with the hot parts bookmarked. I think Daddy just skips over those parts. Daddy's little girl and all that.

And the “Daddy’s money” issue went away after my second best-seller. After all, most of the people buying my books don’t spend a lot of time reading the Society page, so they only know me as Tracy Lawrence the mystery writer. Which is what I should be doing now so I better get back to it. Thanks for letting me stop by.


Monday, July 12, 2010

What is paranormal?

At a writers conference this weekend, we were discussing the often blurred line between genres – specifically between a mystery with a strong romantic element vs. a suspense romance - and the fact that it might be a moot point. An author can pitch a story to an agent as one genre, it may be published as another, and the local bookstore may sell it as something else entirely.

But this discussion also touched on the topic of paranormal romance. How do you define paranormal? Vampires, ghosts, and anyone with magical powers, of course, but what about aliens? If one of your romantic leads happens to be a visitor (refugee, wayward traveler) from another planet, with or without special powers, is that paranormal? Or is it strictly sci fi, and never the twain shall meet? I tried researching this one on Google, moving from web site to blog until my mouse-hand cramped tight and I had to stop. The results? Everyone seems to have a different opinion.

So I’d like yours. Writers and readers, please weigh in on this question. If I have a sexy romantic lead with some very interesting special gifts who happens to be from another planet and who falls for a “normal” human…is that a paranormal romance? Why or why not?


Friday, July 9, 2010

Back in Time

I drive a Saab 9-3 convertible. It’s a really nice car. Silver with a black top and black leather upholstery. It’s several years old but amazingly ding free. It handles well, has great pickup and gets good gas mileage. It has one of the highest safety ratings for the back seat passengers of any convertible, and I carry very precious cargo in my back seat. It's even sporty enough that I get the occasional, “Hey, nice car.”

But that’s not why I love it. I love it because every so often - not too often but sometimes - when it’s summer and I’m riding with the top down and the wind is blowing my hair, an image or a sound or a smell will catch the corner of my mind and that Saab will morph into a 1964 Rambler American convertible. White with a green top and green vinyl upholstery. White wall tires, broken radio, manual everything.

And for just a moment…in that car...I’m 16 again.

How about you? What has the power to take you back, and to when?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Deadline Driven

I stayed up until after 2:00 this morning working on my stupid website. I think it's all put together but I wasn't up to dealing with my first upload to my host server while half asleep. Hopefully tonight (still have to work around my "day job").

So why the rush? Well, I set a deadline for myself of having the website up and running before I attend the Antioch Writers Workshop this Saturday. I think I had a vision of networking with writing professionals, handing out business cards with my website info on them, and having someone actually check it out. This may or may not happen, but I want to be ready.

But I'm a very deadline driven person. I saw a t-shirt once that said, "If it wasn't for deadlines, nothing would ever get done." Story of my life. This year I hit a bit of a wall with my writing; couldn't seem to make any forward progress. So I decided to enter a couple short story contests. I'd never entered one before so that was something new for me. (Just writing short stories was something new for me; I'm more of a book person.) Of course, contests have deadlines and - bingo - I started writing again. I guess this is the same technique as inviting people over so I’m forced to clean the house, which I’ve done for years.

What about you? Are you deadline driven or one of those self-disciplined people who manages to work along steadily without any sort of axe hanging over your head?

~ Linda

Monday, July 5, 2010

Let's be honest here - I created a blog site to go with my new web site. I created the web site to go with my professional e-mail account. I created the professional e-mail account because it seems to be expected these days that authors in search of an agent and/or a publisher will have a professional e-mail account (in their own domain name) and a web site and a blog and assortment of social media accounts. Gone are the days where all you needed was a really good manuscript, lots of tenacity, and a fair amount of luck.

Not that I object to using the Internet to further my cause, but I'm reminded of the e-mail joke that's been going around about the guy who couldn't get a job as a janitor at Microsoft because he didn't have an e-mail address. He uses his last few dollars to buy a bushel of tomatoes, sells them at a profit, and over the years builds up a successful produce company. At the end of the story, he still doesn't have an e-mail address and someone wonders where he'd be today if he'd had e-mail all these years ago. His reply? "I'd be a janitor at Microsoft."

So here I am. I've devoted the holiday weekend to creating a website (almost ready to launch) and a blog site, when what I really want to be doing is working on the final editing of my novel, Hunter's Way. But where's the happy medium? Where do you draw the line between working on your craft and promoting it?

Do you know? Any artists or craftsmen or independant professionals that struggle with this issue and want to share their insight? Or their frustration? I'd love to hear from you.

~ Linda