Monday, July 30, 2012


Now that I've had a week to reflect, it's time I share my thoughts on Lexicon.

Friday evening began with a few words from Mitch Haynes, the brain and vision behind Lexicon. He told us his dream for Lexicon was that it be different from other writer's conferences where we have to sell ourself, where egos rule and writers compete with each other. I liked that right off. So many times we get caught up in what others can do for us, we forget what we can do for them.

The dinner was very good and while I really don't like mingling, the meet and greet was fun. Once I get started I'm fine, it's that first couple meets and greets that are uncomfy. :-)

Saturday morning started with breakfast and more meeting and greeting. Then on to the workshops.

Marketing Your Business on a Shoestring was a bit basic but I still took away a couple ideas I want to try.

Every Novelist Should Write Short Stories reminded me just how much I love doing short stories. I also met Earl Staggs, who is a great guy. I bought two of his books and plan to dig into them soon.

The Do it Yourself Marketing Boot Camp gave me some things to think about as I work on my  marketing plan. 

Lunch took longer than expected 'cause the hotel kitchen got overwhelmed but we didn't mind. We shared lunch with editor Susan M. Malone of Malone Editorial Services.  If you need an editor, I highly recommend her.

After lunch, it was a workshop with Susan dealing with Story Arc.  Now I love story arc, hero's journey and three act structure stuff. As she talked, I went through my WIP checking to see if I had all the elements there.

Next it was Intrigue Your Reader with Darlene Hartman. I'd met Darlene the night before and fell in love with her. She actually wrote several episodes for the original Star Trek series. Darlene is one classy lady.

I skipped the time with agents and took a short nap then headed down for the "Round Table" discussions. These were all very informative and carried over on Sunday morning.

The highlight of the conference though, had to be Saturday night.  After dinner at Braum's, we had ice cream, a group of us ended up downstairs in the lobby/seating/dining/bar area.  We talked about the publishing business, social media, life in general and had a great time getting to know each other. We headed to our rooms a little after midnight.

Never have I come away from a conference with friends as I did with Lexicon. I'm already looking forward to next year's conference.

The thing about Lexicon, we were all equals. Novice writer as well as published. Traditionally published, small press or even self-published, it didn't matter. We weren't there to compete with each other, but to help.

Sunday, during breakfast, one of the agents attending joined the table where I sat. I've been to quite a few conferences and never has that happened before. And, that's another reason I enjoyed Lexicon so much.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Boing, boing, boing...

I've been studying writing seriously for about ten years and I admit, I have a lot to learn but I think I'm getting there. For a long time when I read, even for pleasure, I picked up a book about writing.

I counted once and had twenty-five books on writing the novel and I've bought more since. Like I said, I have a thing for books about writing.

Here's where I'm going with this...  In all the books I've read, all the workshops I've taken,  head-hopping has been condemned. Especially for novice writers.

You know head-hopping right? The shifts from one POV character to another in the middle of a scene or paragraph. We're reading along with one character, right in the middle of the action then all of a sudden it changes mid paragraph and we are now in another character's head.

It's disconcerting. It's abrupt. It's often confusing. It's annoying to have to go back and reread to see what happened.

The other day I downloaded a book and started reading. I really enjoyed the story but the constant head-hopping seriously impaired my enjoyment.

This author changed POV character almost every page, often mid paragraph. I had to stop reading, go back and reread so often, I lost count. When I read, I want to escape into the world and having to check the map every five minutes or so hampers that. It takes me from that world and reminds me it's just a book and not a well written one at that.

So, my question to you... How do you feel about head-hopping? Do you, don't you? Like it or not? Is it okay in certain instances and if so, when?

This is just "part" of my books on writing.

Oh, the book was  "self-published" however it had been well edited except for all the head-hopping.  And nope, I probably won't buy another of hers because I'll always remember I had to work to read this one. I'll always think of her as the "head-hopper."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Self-promotion vs Spam

Not long ago, I deleted 46 spam comments from the blog.  Yesterday, I deleted 42. Thankfully blogger catches them before they get posted to the comment section but I still have to go in ever so often, check the "spam" comments and either delete them or say they aren't spam. I wonder if whoever, and there has to be a whoever involved somewhere, thinks I'll really buy cheap viagra, valium or any number of whatever drugs they are peddling.

And my email...right now there are almost 1,200 spam items listed. Ranging from cheap viagra and cheap insurance to miracle cures for just about every disease to the pleas for help moving large amounts of money (which I'll get part of if I give them my account info). Again, I wonder, just what are these people thinking.

I've even gotten spam on my cell phone, on Twitter and Facebook. Don't these people have a real job? Don't they have better things to do?

I will say, I have found a use for the spam email. I go through and come up with character names. Usually I'll take a first name from one and a last from another, but it still is an easy way to see how names look.

Here's where I'm going with this...

As an author with several published works and a new novel coming out next month, I have to promote my writing. If people don't know about it, they won't know to buy it. And that's a loss for both of us.

But where does it go from self-promotion to spam? If I send everyone on my email list a short email letting them know I have a new book out, is that spam? Probably not to most on the list but I'm sure one or two might consider it so.

How many times can I post about my book on Facebook or Twitter before it becomes spam and too much? One, two, ten...?

And what about those groups and websites that want you to promote on them? Is one post a week fine but two in the same week spam?

I don't have any answers. Not really, anyway.  What do you think? How do you balance self-promotion to avoid spam?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fantasy Friday - Mirror, Mirror

Mirror, Mirror

     “Galen, please! I must consult the mirror.” Eesla stood before him, hands clutched at her waist. “No one will know, the castle sleeps.”
     “My Lady, His Lordship has forbidden it. No one may consult the mirror without his approval.” He pulled his cloak around his shoulders, rested a hand on his sword hilt and took a deep breath of musty air. “I dare not disobey. Besides, the mirror shows only what it chooses.”
     “Please, Galen...” Light from torches mounted on either side of the wooden door flickered, casting shadows down the empty hall. She looked up, met his gaze. “Lord Darius demands my decision on the morrow. I must know which path to choose.”
     “I dare not, My Lady. My life would be required if we were discovered.” He brushed a tear from her cheek. “And the mirror’s images are uncertain, open to many interpretations.”
     “My father values your services these many years. You would not be punished.” She fell to her knees and clung to his legs. “I will take any blame. I must know my fate.”
     Galen pried her arms from his legs. He could blame her tears if they were caught. She’d used them often enough with her father. “Stand, My Lady, weep no more.” He helped her to her feet, gave her hands a gentle squeeze. “I see no good coming from the mirror, but I’ll not forbid you to try.” And, she’d owe him, he would use that to his advantage.
     Eesla wrapped her arms around his neck, kissed his cheek. “Thank you, my friend.”
     “Do not thank me yet. We both may regret this decision.” He handed her one of the torches, opened the door and moved aside. “I’ll wait here.” She kissed his cheek again took a step into the darkness. Galen watched her light another torch then closed the door with a soft thunk.

* * *
     “Yes, My Lord.” Galen bowed slightly, turned and strode from the great hall. Soon, he would be the one commanding, but until that day... He sighed. Maybe the gardens. Eesla often strolled among the flowers when troubled.
     Halfway across the courtyard he saw her atop the watchtower peering over the wall. He changed directions and made his way up the stone stairs. What had she seen in the mirror?
     “My Lady, your father and Lord Darius are waiting.” He met her gaze, studied her troubled frown. A strand of golden hair fluttered in the evening breeze. Galen brushed it from her face.
     “I should not have consulted the mirror.” She gazed toward the setting sun. “My father was right to forbid it.”
     He clenched his jaw, then took a deep breath. “Have you decided upon an answer for Lord Darius?
     Eesla nodded her head, continued to stare over wall. “I will marry Lord Darius. He is a wise man and will rule well in my father’s stead.” She rested her arms atop the parapet and sighed. “I may learn to love him one day, but there is no suitable alternative.”
     “You could choose me, My Lady.”
     She laughed and tossed a pebble off the wall. “You always were able to make me laugh. I could never marry a common-born.” Eesla sighed. “The mirror, though... I wish I had not looked.”
     “What did you see, My Lady? Mayhaps together we can understand.” Galen leaned against the wall, gazed down at her.
     “I saw myself — my body — broken and bleeding.” She shivered then met his gaze. “I lay on the rocks below. But... how could one fall from the watchtower? The wall is chest-high, the stones are solid.”
     Galen reached down, grabbed her about the knees and flipped her over the wall. “Just like this, My Lady.”

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Word Wednesday

I thought I'd share words with you today. Here's a few of my favorite...

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia - the fear of long words. 

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis - longest word in an English dictionary - it's a lung disease caused by breathing in fine particles of silica dust such as from volcanoes.

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch - this is a village in Wales and the longest place name in the world. Can you imagine trying to get this on an envelope or learning to spell it.  Makes me glad of Longview. :-)

Borborygmus - the word for those stomach rumbles.

Defenestration - the act of throwing someone or something out a window. I really like this one...

Deipnosophist: A person with excellent dinner table conversation skills.

Got any favorite words?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ten Things I Believe...

I've been writing like crazy, reading research for project and 900 other things so this post is getting a late start.  But, better late than never. Or so they say...  And just who is "they" by the way?

Ten Things I Believe... (In no special order)

 Wild animals should not be kept as pets - They are wild. Even those raised in captivity are still wild deep down inside, You can't breed out instincts. Leave the lions, tigers, bears, wolves and other wild animals in the wild.

Dragons - I believe at one time, there were dragons on the earth. No, I don't believe they required virgin sacrifices. Maybe they did hoard gold and other sparkly things...heck, Ravens do, why not a dragon. I believe dragons were basically flying dinosaurs and are extinct now. My son has a good theory on why we haven't found their bones...they were hollow. Had to be really light to be able to fly.  Anyway...I believe in dragons.

Family is so very important.  When your friends let you down, family should always be there for you.  I know it's not always that way but honestly, when you come right down to it, family is always gonna be family.

Good Friends are few and far between. - We make "friends" so easily these days. And many we call friends, we don't even know. I mean, I have several hundred "friends" on Facebook and have no clue who most of them are. Sometimes do make a real friend. And those are special and should be treasured.

Chocolate - There's no such thing as too much chocolate. There's no wrong occasion for chocolate either. 

Kids need to earn their own way - sure we spoil 'em but they have to learn to be responsible adults and they can't do that if they are given everything they ever thought about wanting. They need to learn there are consequences for each action, that no means no, and that life isn't fair.

 Thunderstorms are awesome. I love a good thunderstorm. The amount of power involved is just totally amazing. I love watching the lightning, feeling the wind, listening to the rain, especially on a metal roof.

There are way too many reality shows on tv. I mean, way too many. Thing is...these aren't reality. Soon as you stick a camera in there, people change. Now, I'll admit I used to watch Survivor and still occasionally watch Deadliest Catch. Hubby likes the Storage War shows...which not long ago, we  met the auctioneer of the Storage Wars Texas. He's a local guy, really nice, invited hubby and I out with him and his family. We passed but got picture taken with him. :-)

Life is too short to hold grudges. Besides the fact that you make yourself miserable, the person you have the grudge against usually doesn't care or doesn't even know.

I believe our police officers, military and fire fighters are under valued. We take them for granted, wanting them to be there when we need them but not the rest of the time.

What about you? What are some things you believe?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ten Things Tuesday... On My "Desk"

We had to move last December and the place we are now doesn't really have room for my desk. I have a HUGE desk.  It's 6'x3' and has an "L" attachment that's another 3'x2'. It's huge, weights a ton, made of real wood. Right now, it's in my garage. I miss my desk.  A LOT.

So, right now, I'm using the kitchen table as a temporary desk. When we have company over, I have to clean all my desk type stuff off, move it in the other room then bring it back later.  It's not the greatest situation but I'm dealing with it and planning on getting an office for me and my desk soon.

But for now...I'll be here. And since I'm here, I thought I'd share Ten Things on my "desk."

Cans of cat food. I have the pickiest eaters. They drive me nuts about what they will and won't eat.

Aussie leave in conditioner. My daughter left it here.

Bag of powder sugar mini donuts. Leftover from Sunday night fellowship.

Texas Ranger baseball Pez dispenser. - Rangers fan, saw it, had to have it. Haven't done anything with it yet.

Holder of napkins -they come in handy sometimes. :-)

Printer - of course.

 Yearly planner - I make notes in it so have to have it close by.

Misc. stacks of paper - story notes, critique group pages

Camera - for spur of the moment "cats doing something cute" pictures

Cell phone - always nearby.

What's on your desk?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mystery Monday - Midnight Snack

A while back, I was given a prompt to write a story using only dialogue. This is the result. Hope you enjoy.

Midnight Snack

            “Finally, it‘s about time you got here. What’d you tell Bill?”
            “Just that you and Dave had a fight, that you were upset and needed someone to talk to. I told him not to wait up for me, that I might stay over. Of course, he was practically asleep on the couch before I left so that’s where he’ll probably be in the morning. He’s such  a bore lately. Where'd Dave go?”
            “He didn’t go anywhere. Come on. I’ll show you. “
            “Oh god! Is he dead?”
            “Yeah, he’s dead. But I warned him. I told him what would happen if he ever cheated on me.  He asked for it. You know, he didn’t even lie about it. Said she made him feel like a real man. Well, she won’t be making him feel anything ever again,I can tell you that.”
            “Did he tell you who she is? I mean, do you know who he was seeing?”
            “I didn’t even ask. Right now though, we got to get rid of him. I saw a couple gators when I jogged over Possum Creek yesterday. We can dump him there. It’ll be days before they find him, if they ever do. Wrap the shower curtain around him.I’ve got the truck backed up to the deck. We can just slide him right in.”
            “What are you going to tell everyone? Sooner or later someone will come looking for him.”
            “Yeah, all his buddies down at Joe’s.I’ll just say we had a fight, he left and didn‘t come home. It’s almost the truth. The Johnson‘s will confirm the fight and that he left.”
            “But he did come home. What about that?”
            “They were asleep by then. A 747 could  land in their yard and not wake them. Besides, he parked in the back when he came home. Thanks to the privacy fence Dave insisted on building, they can’t see back there. Now, let’s take out the trash.”
            “God, he’s heavy. How are we going ever going to get him over the bridge?”
            “I’ve got a plan. Don’t worry. Follow me in your car.”
            “Alright, I’ll meet you there.”
            “Don’t wimp out on me. I need you. You don’t want me going to jail do you?”
            “Of course not. You’re my best friend. I won’t let you down.”

            “Hold onto the shower curtain. I’ll ease the truck away and he’ll slide right out. Ready?”
            “Go real slow. Oh god, oh god, oh god. He’s out.”
            “Now to get him over the bridge. Here gator, gator. Time for a midnight snack. Grab his feet, pull him up and over the rail. Leave the shower curtain, I’ll get rid of that later.There’s a construction site not far from here. They won’t notice it in the dumpster. Good, now help me shove him over.”
            “I’m going to have nightmares for weeks.”
            “No, you won’t. I mean, you only helped a friend. It’s not like it’s your fault. Oh wait, it is partly your fault.”
            “What do you mean?”
            “Did you really think you’d get away with it? That I wouldn’t figure it out? You’ve been wearing that same cheap perfume since sixth grade.  When Dave came home from his business trip last month, his clothes reeked of it.”
            “Come on, I’m not the only person who wears Temptation.”
            “True, but you were gone the same weekend. I called. Thought a girl’s night out would be fun. Bill told me about your business trip.”
            “I was in meetings all weekend. Honest. It really was a business trip.”
            “Maybe. I couldn’t prove it one way or the other so I started following Dave. The Blue Moon hotel on Tuesday and Thursdays at lunch. Then there was the day y’all didn’t even make it to the hotel. Last Wednesday wasn’t it? I always hated doing it in the front seat but you seemed to be enjoying it.”
            “I didn’t mean to…  I couldn’t help it. And he said it was over, that he was filing for divorce.”
            “It doesn’t matter. You were my best friend. There’s no excuse. No matter what he said.”
            “What are you going to tell Bill? He knows I went to your place. He’ll expect me back in the morning.”
            “You never made it to my place. Just cause you said I called, doesn’t mean I did.  Besides, once he finds out about you and Dave, he’ll be more angry than concerned.”
            “Please…  You don’t have to do this.”
            “Yeah I do. You were a good friend but it‘s too late. Now, you’re dessert for the gators. Bye Pam.”
            “I’m sor…”
            “Look out below. Open up boys, this one will make you feel like a real gator.”


If you like this, you'll probably enjoy Six Pack of Murder. It's six short stories along with the opening of my soon to be released novel, Dark Descent.