Friday, June 28, 2013

Taking a break

Sometimes I feel like being a writer is a 24/7 job. Since I began writing for publication about ten years ago, I’ve been ‘on the clock’ essentially, always writing, editing, blogging, or promoting or thinking about writing, editing, blogging or promoting. During all of that activity, I spent a lot of time feeling guilty about things like cleaning, laundry, cooking, yard work etc. And when I was doing those domestic things, I was feeling guilty about not writing, editing, blogging or promoting.

I envy the people out there who seem to have a handle on making writing their job without having it become a full time obsession. I confess, I’ve never been able to do that. When I was a stay-at-home mom with a part time office job and what should have been ‘plenty’ of time to write, I was still frazzled by everything I had to do.

When I was a part-time secretary with two kids in grammar school and what should have been ‘plenty’ of time to write, I was still at wits end a lot of the time.

When I was a full time writer with a part time office job and a part time editing job and two kids in middle school, with what should have been ‘plenty’ of time to write, I still spent a lot of that time worrying that I wasn’t utilizing my time effectively.

Now, I’m a full time secretary with a part time writing job, on hiatus from my editing job and I’ve got less than ‘plenty’ of time to write. In all this time I’ve actually managed to write a lot more than I think I have. When I count words and manuscripts, it’s quite a bit, but I still wonder how much more I could have done if I could have gotten out of my own way, put aside the worrying that I wasn’t doing enough of this or enough of that or that each hour I spent doing one thing could have been better spent doing another thing.

You would think in all the years I’ve been doing this, I would have it all figured out by now, but I don’t.
I suspect there are a lot of writers like me out there, who are trying to do it all without neglecting anything, and always feeling like they’re falling short. I think it boils down to asking too much of ourselves and not taking the necessary time to recharge and regroup.

If you feel that way, raise your [virtual] hand. If you don’t, if you really have figured out how find time to do it all, let me know – and better yet, write a book about it. I guarantee it’ll be a best seller.

On that note, this is my last regular post for Killer Chicks. I’m grateful to JB for inviting me to her corner of the web and for indulging all of my multiple writing personalities. I’ll drop by now and then and I’ll always be checking in to see how things are going here, but I’ve decided to spend more time concentrating on my writing goals for the moment.

I wish all the past, present and future Killer Chicks the best of luck and I’ll be rooting for their continued success. Thanks for reading!


Jennifer and Bernadette

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cat crazy?

June is National Adopt a Cat Month.

CLARICE: You've met my brood. Did you know a group of cats is called a 'clowder'? My clowder of kitties is my collective favorite, but my baby is the middle one. He's spoiled and rude, but I love him to little furry pieces. I also particularly love Princess Monster Truck. Have you seen her? She's beautiful in a way only a Monster Princess can be.

JB: Well right now my favorite cat is a fictional one. I just adore the character Piss who was introduced in THE HITWOMAN AND THE FAMILY JEWELS. She's a Southern gal who can give God a run for his money.

B.E.: No.  I refuse to adopt any more cats.  Don't get me wrong - I love the two I have but these two are more than enough.  Both of them are rescues, and while Kira is fairly low maintenance (except for when she's pretty sure she deserves wet food), Max is a special needs kitty and he takes up a bit of time. 

Tell us Killer Friends: Who are your favorite kitties?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Everybody lies....especially to themselves

I'm working on a manuscript (no, not a Hitwoman book) and the biggest fault of one of my characters is how much he lies to himself.

Now this isn't a bad character, he's just like the rest of us. He's become so accustomed to telling himself untruths rather than facing up to reality, doing the hard work, or facing hard truths that he isn't even aware he's doing it most of the time.

We all do it.

Maybe you want to improve your diet and exercise regularly, but you're inner voice is telling you that it's inconvenient to eat healthfully or that you don't have the time to exercise.

Maybe you want to learn something new, but your mind whispers that would require investing time and/or money in lessons and/or equipment and there's no guarantee you'll even enjoy it.

Maybe you want to read more books, but that would require less web-surfing or television viewing and those are a lot more relaxing your mind argues.

Maybe you want to take your writing to the next level, but it's easy to believe that there's a huge element of luck involved... and you're just not the lucky type.

Okay, so I said "you" in all those examples, but what I really meant was "me".

I'd like to do all those things, but the chitchat in my brain does it's best to convince me that "now isn't the time".

Which is both a lie I tell myself.

Change, of any kind, is hard work. Change requires effort. Instituting change means committing to discomfort.

I don't know about you, but I really despise discomfort. That's why central air, fuzzy socks, and hot showers were invented, isn't it???

I've spent the last six months of this year trying to manage to keep the lies I tell myself about writing and publishing and marketing and creativity quieted. I'm not successful all the time. It's hard work. I'm constantly stressed (discomfort!).

BUT at least I'm recognizing the lies I'm telling myself more often. By recognizing them, I can battle them. By battling them I'm making progress. (until the moment tomorrow morning when I once again decide it's hopeless....which is usually before I've had my coffee, lol).

I'm working on a streaking project which I've outlined on my blog to see if momentum can help me to manage the lies I tell myself. I'll let you know if I'm able to maintain it and whether it helped at all.

Tell me Killer Friends: What lies do you tell yourself?  Do you know why you do it? Can I help you wrestle your inner-fibber to the ground?  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Check out Misty Evans and THE BLOOD CODE!

Have you met Misty Evans?

She writes kickass Cinderellas and dangerous Prince Charmings.

Her latest The Blood Code a Secret Agent Novel is now available!

Fifteen years ago, Anya Radzoya fled Russia with her grandmother after the suspicious deaths of her parents, but she can’t escape the royal genes that make her one of Russia’s last living princesses. When President Ivanov blackmails her into returning to Moscow in exchange for her grandmother’s life, Anya discovers he’s planning to unleash a nuclear war. With no one else to turn to, she joins forces with CIA operative Ryan Smith.

Undercover at the nuclear summit, Ryan recruits Anya to find proof Ivanov is resurrecting the Cold War, but he suspects his new asset is a double agent. Anya is determined to rescue her grandmother with or without his help, however, and Ryan finds himself falling for the beautiful princess before he even trusts her.

Trapped inside the Kremlin with a cunning and ruthless opponent, the two must risk their lives and their hearts to save Anya’s grandmother as well as millions of innocent people.


Monday, June 24, 2013

It's Cute, It's Green, and It's Poison

When we first moved into our new house, I wondered at all the amazing flora we have here.  Flowers blooming everywhere.  Trees of varying variety.  Creeping vines...

On the black walnut trees in the south yard, and on the oaks in the back, a viney looking thing grew.  It looked wicked, choking my lovely trees.  I remembered seeing it from when I grew up in Michigan.  I remembered we weren't supposed to touch it.  And I was pretty sure it was poison ivy.

On the trees in the north side yard, we had these things that looked like some kind of symbiotic tree.  Their trunks were about an inch or two thick, and the leaves were quite lovely.  It looked peaceful.

The south side plant had five pointy leaflets.

The north side plant had three fat leaflets.

I think you see where I might be going here...

The five pointed plant is a Virginia Creeper.  Totally harmless.

The three pointed plant is, of course, Poison Ivy.

I honestly had no idea what it looked like.  After we moved here, I actually touched it when I was trying to figure out which kind of totally innocuous friendly tree it was.  (Trees are our friends, man.)  Nothing happened.  Then the people who came to install our gutters told us what it was.  As soon as I could, I suited up and I killed it.  But ya know what?  It's still wicked even after it's dead.  Touch dead poison ivy, you still get itchy.  Burning it can make you seriously ill.

Unless you're one of the 25% who aren't actually allergic to it.  (Which may or may not be me, but I ain't taking any chances.  That shit's nasty.)

I seriously doubt it'll kill you... maybe if you scratch and get a secondary infection... but even if it's not a fatal poison, it will make you wish someone else would kill you.   Big nasty blisters.  Severe itching.  Oozing.  It's just gross.  Trust me.  And for godsakes, don't go googling pics of what the rash looks like.  Trust me on that one, too.  Yuck.

So, consider this a public service announcement.  And here's a little piece of advice I never heard until I researched poison ivy...

Leaves of three, let it be.  (Or KILL IT, stuff its wilted bodies into garbage bags and bury them deep)
Leaves of five, let it thrive.  (So you don't go murdering perfectly harmless Virginia Creeper like I did.)

...I still think poison ivy's kinda cute though.  Don't you?

So, how about you? Do you have this crap where you live?  Ever gotten a reaction* to it?  Or are you one of the lucky few?

*Poison ivy's rash comes from an allergic reaction to urushiol.  And it's the same crap in poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac - so stay away from all three.

Friday, June 21, 2013

What you put into it

We all know people who make success in the publishing industry look easy. You know who I mean, the author who hits the NY Times best seller list with her first book, the author who lands an agent with a proposal before even writing the book, the one who insists she does almost no promo yet everyone seems to have heard of her book and loves it.

I’ve always been the first person to say sometimes it’s just luck. Being in the right place at the right time with the right product is the real key to phenomenal success, sometimes in lieu of hard work and determination. I really want to believe that, because that easily explains why some authors can spend lots of time and money on promo and sell next to nothing, and why some authors can charm agents with their style and voice and still not sell the manuscript and why some authors write in trendy genres with timely plots and still get no recognition.

Unfortunately, while there is an exception to every rule, I’ve come to the conclusion that you get out of this business what you put into it. Hard work and determination may not get you to the NYT, but they can’t hurt and there’s some merit to the idea that you make your own luck.

My personal level of hard work and determination has waxed and waned during the time I’ve been writing – and sometimes from day to day, hour to hour and minute to minute. I ultimately believe I’ve gotten out of it what I’ve put in, for better or worse, and any future success isn’t a matter of a turn of the cards, but a measure of how hard I want to fight for it.

The real question most days is, how hard do I want to fight for it? It’s so easy to get discouraged and feel like I’m working twice as hard and getting half as much. When I start to feel that way, I have to stop and remind myself that this isn’t an all or nothing endeavor. If I’m not #1 on the list, it doesn’t mean I failed. If I don’t have agents beating down my door to buy a self-pubbed story, it doesn’t mean the book isn’t any good. Whether I’m making just enough money to buy that Mocha Cookie Crumble at Starbucks that I love so much or enough to buy a brand new Mercedes, I’m still earning money with my writing and I’m telling the stories I want to tell. It’s about loving to write and doing it anyway, even when it’s hard, even when it seems like there’s no reward because the book hasn’t climbed up the charts or garnered a dozen five-star reviews.

If one person out there loves the story, it was worth writing. If I have one more story in me to tell, it’s worth telling.

What thoughts keep you working toward success?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What would YOU splurge on?

Tuesday was National Splurge Day. Here are some of the things we like to splurge on, or dream of splurging on.

CLARICE: How much room do I have? And how much money are we talking for this splurge? I've splurged on a selection of expensive nail polish [including an organic one], I've splurged on designer tea, I've splurged on a complete set of organic spices and I've splurged on fuzzy socks. If I had a whole ton of money, I'd probably splurge on first class plane tickets to an exclusive island resort.

JB: I dream of splurging on travel. (Yellowstone, Costa Rica, Europe) I do splurge on spiral notebooks and magazines. I'd like to splurge more on plants and visiting friends all over the country.

B.E.: I think I blew my splurging budget when we bought this house.  And I'm content with that.  Still, if I had the fundage, I'd buy the lots on either side of us - because I'll be bummed if anyone does buy them and builds on them.  I like the privacy we have now.  Oh, and I'd splurge on a new car.  I could totally use a new car.  And I'd buy a truck for the Hubs so he has something to tow the new boat I'd buy him, too.  ;o)

Tell us Killer Friends: What's YOUR idea of the ultimate splurge?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Real" Writing Advice

I recently received a note from a friend of a friend basically asking how to write. Since it was a friend of a friend, I felt compelled to write a fairly detailed response. Since the person didn't acknowledge my response (bad form!!!) I don't know whether they found it helpful, but I was thinking someone might stumble on it here and glean something....or at least have a sense of validation.

The original correspondent seemed to be under the impression I took a class and that "pushed me over the edge" to being a professional writer.  (Yes, I DID roll my eyes a bit.) Here's what I said:

I'm sure he meant well, but his explanation was a bit off the mark. It took me twenty years of failure to be able to write professionally now. 

I'm not sure what he meant about a class that put me "over the edge" since I haven't taken one for years. I've taken classes in creative writing at local adult ed schools and classes in screenwriting at a local theater, and workshops at writer's conferences, but I don't know how to explain the process. 

A lot of it just comes from a ton of practice, getting critiqued, figuring out what doesn't work, and trying again....and again...and again. 

I think it's a pretty common misperception that people decide to do it and magically it happens for them. Most writers I know have spent years/decades learning/honing their craft.

Also if you want to write for publication just know you'll probably face a ton of rejection. I literally have hundreds and hundreds of rejection letters.

But if you want to do it, you absolutely should! Just know you have to love it in order to dedicate yourself to the work.

There are tons of websites that offer writing advice and many places offer online classes. (I've never taken them, so can't give any personal recommendations.) Writer's Digest and AbsoluteWrite http://absolutewrite.comwould be good places to start. Writer's Digest also puts out a magazine and a whole library of writing How To books.

Have you looked into *your state's Writer's Association? You might find a local writer's group there (**I was dumb enough to supply the link)l  or you could use MeetUp to see if there are any nearby.

If you Google YOUR STATE + Writing Conference you'll find a lot of options too.

If you can figure out what you want to try to start writing (from looking at your blog  (***yes, I was stupid enough to waste my time doing that too) I might guess essays, but I could be wrong) you can google that and you'll find lots of info. You won't be locked into whatever you choose....I wrote poetry, magazine articles, online content, and screenplays before I ever attempted a novel. (also, don't expect your first, second or third novel to sell...most don't)

The most important thing you can do to get started is to start. Don't talk about it. Do it. Get in the habit of doing it every day or most days of the week. You can't fix a blank page. You CAN fix what you've already written.

Tell me Killer Friends: What advice would YOU give to aspiring writers? Did anything I say ring true for you? Do you disagree with any of the advice I shared?

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Little Survey

I've been wondering...

What brings you to Killer Chicks?

What makes you stay?

What makes you comment?

What makes you come back?

And lastly... Why did you or did you not 'follow' the blog?

Any information you can provide will help us make this place better for you, so pony up with the deets.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Tweet this, not that

I think I’ve confessed this before, but I’m going to do it again. I like Twitter.

It’s sort of like people watching at the mall, sitting in one spot and watching everyone scroll by, catching snippets of conversation – only you’re not considered weird if you jump into one of those conversations and add your two cents.

I started tweeting when I debuted my new pen name and to be honest, now I sort of wish I’d tweeted sooner. I don’t want to maintain three Twitter accounts, but I like the idea of being able to tweet in different personas.

I’m intrigued by the idea of Twitter as a promotional tool. Since I’ve managed to avoid Facebook and I don’t haunt too many online forums, I need some type of social media outlet and Twitter works for me because I don’t have to spend a lot of time planning posts. Of course, as with everything else writers do, there are right ways and wrong ways to use Twitter. Since I’m no expert on it – I did a very small bit of research and came up with a couple of rules that might be helpful for the writer who wants to Tweet effectively.

Tweet this: Stuff that inspires you or makes you laugh. [Your followers should want to get to know you, and if you engage them with interesting snippets of life, they may be intrigued enough to want to buy your book.]

Not that: Politics and controversial subjects. [Unless you happen to be writing about politics and controversial subjects, it might be best to avoid anything that could erupt in a Twitter Storm.]

Tweet this: Your relationship with coffee. [Seriously, I’ve seen this mentioned in a couple of places. The love of coffee apparently binds us all together, so Java-centric tweets are apparently always welcome. Who knew?]

Not that: Your cats. [I disagree with this one. I tweet about my cats because they fall under the first rule up there. Writers have cats – well, a lot of us do. I suppose if your cat drinks coffee, it’s all good.]

Tweet this: Stuff you do. [Twitter is a conversation, so they say. Talk about what you’re doing – if it’s interesting of course.]

Not that: Stuff you do. [Avoid blow-by-blow descriptions of your day. Unless you’re Justin Beiber no one wants to know your every move from dawn til dusk, spare us. Actually, even if you are Justin Beiber, no one really wants to know.]

Tweet this: Your books. [Let everyone know about a new release, a sale, a price change, even an awesome review – when it happens, then get over it and move on.]

Not that: Endless promo. [This is a perfect way to lose followers. If your every tweet is essentially a version of BUY MY BOOK, yer doin’ it wrong.]

Tweet this: Movies, TV and books you like, properly hashtagged of course. [Great conversation starters and often a good way to attract new followers.]

Not that: Endless retweets, updates on who followed or unfollowed you, tweets with every other word #hastagged. [In virtual conversation this just amounts to white noise.]

Do you use Twitter as a promo tool or just as a social media outlet? Tell me how you Tweet.

You can follow me at @ClariceWynter – and I promise not to clog your tweet stream, ever.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Favorite TV Dads

In honor of Father's Day we thought we'd talk about our favorite TV dads.

CLARICE: I'm old enough to be a fan of MY THREE SONS. Steven Douglas, played by Fred MacMurray, always seemed to me to be a cool dad. He didn't yell and always seemed to know exactly how to handle all the problems faced by his kids no matter what age they were. I'm currently a fan of Ted Mosby - the 'not-quite-yet-a-Dad' from HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER. I think it's cute that he would spend time telling his kids about how he met their mother [even if eight years of the story have mostly been abou Aunt Robin]. In fact - I think maybe those kids are going to need some therapy when he's finally finished with his story.

JB: I was a huge fan of Pa Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie. I so wanted to be Half Pint. (but I can't tell if that's because of the show or the book)

B.E.: Growing up, I always kinda liked the dad from Family Affair.  And the dad from Courtship of Eddie's Father (the series, not the movie).  Of course, Mike Brady was always patient and understanding with his Bunch, so that made him cool.  And yeah, Pa Ingalls was definitely in the running as an awesome Dad.  Nowadays, I don't watch a whole lot of series TV and what I do watch doesn't have the best father figures.  I stopped watching Grey's Anatomy but before I did, Derek Shepherd looked like he was going to make a good dad for little Zola.  And Booth is probably going to be an awesome dad to Christine. 

Tell us Killer Friends: Which TV dads were/are you a fan of?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cumulative Effect in Yoga and Writing

If you stand up, straighten your legs, and bend over, how far can you get? Can you touch your toes? Can you place your palms flat on the floor?

I can get to where my entire palm is just below my knee. Obviously no one is going to nickname me Gumby. I'm inflexible. Always have been. Even in grade school I couldn't come anywhere near touching my toes in gym class.

I've made an effort this year to practice yoga on a regular basis. As much as I suck at and hate running, I'm even worse with yoga. (I may be the only person who swears during Warrior and perfects their Corpse because it's the only pose they can execute correctly.)

I bet by this point you're wondering what the hell this has to do with writing. Stick with me. I'm getting there.

In January, the tips of my fingers reached halfway down my knees. Now, after almost six months of practice, I can get my palms below my knees. I've made progress. Sure it's only a couple of inches, but it's still progress. It didn't happen in a day. Or a week. Or a month.

It happened because I consistently did the work (despite the discomfort it causes).

The same goes for writing.

Every time you sit down to write, paragraph by paragraph, you're making progress.

Sometimes it's hard to see the progress you're making, but as long as you keep doing it, you'll have more than when you were thinking of blowing it off.

Maybe you need some tools to help you along. I used a mat, blocks, a strap, and have tried multiple dvd's before I found the combo that works for me. Maybe you need a new book on craft, or a new critique partner, or to attend a workshop or conference. Maybe you need to try writing a new-to-you genre or form.

If what you're doing isn't working for you, tweak your approach, BUT KEEP PRACTICING.

Your progress may be incremental, but the cumulative effect does add up.

Tell Me Killer Friends: Do you believe in a cumulative effect? How do you keep yourself motivated? In what areas has it worked for you in the past?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Teaser -- B.E.

I meant to have everything set to pimp the work of an author acquaintance of mine today.  But things got away from me this past week and I never did get time to get her permission and a chunk of her work to post here.  Sorry about that, folks.

I could be a total toad and just post the same snippet I posted this week on my newly renamed writerly blog "A Pound of B.S." (formerly Tabula Rasa).  I'm doing a new thing over there where every Sunday I'm posting the beginning of one of my books.  I'm up to my third book as of this past Sunday.  But I don't want to be a toad.  All y'all deserve better.

And right at this moment, I'm at a low spot in my writing.  Where I'm not sure if anything I've ever written is good enough for other people's eyes.  The rational part of me keeps telling the wimpy irrational part to get over it, though, so here's a bit of my third book...

“A promise you can’t keep is no promise at all,” Dayton said, reciting a quote from the Union vids.  Suddenly the blue of his coverall made his eyes appear colorless, and Mary felt like she was peering at gaping holes into his brain.  “This isn’t about your inability to arrive at work in a timely fashion.  It is about your not being able to do the job our great Union has spent untold resources training you for.  They’ve coddled you along too many years now, but they’ve finally seen the truth and given up on you.”  He sniffed the air and wrinkled his nose as if she were garbage.  “You no longer have value here.”
His words landed like physical blows, and she had to steel herself from shying away.  To have no value was the worst thing Mary could imagine.  Nothing was lower than a Violet, and even they had value.  “Please, sir.  I’ll work harder.  I’m not useless.  Please…”
“Be quiet!  You’re finished here.  I insist you leave these premises at once.  The Union will give you your reassignment before the day’s end.  I truly feel sorry for whatever poor sucker gets you this time.”  With no hope of changing the Union’s directive, she hung her head and turned to leave, his final words chasing her from the building.  “Personally, Miss Jones, I hope they make you a Violet.  It’s more than you’ll ever deserve.”
Clutching her few personal belongings, she let her feet carry her away from the only workhome she ever knew, and from the route she normally took home.  The Union would expect her to rush back and pack, but she was in no hurry.  Certainly, they’d punish her in some way for this additional transgression, but at the moment, she didn’t care.  She didn’t want to sit in the tiny apartment that wasn’t hers any longer, waiting for them to move her someplace worse.  Hearing the vidset bark out an unending stream of Union messages now would only drive home the fact they’d declared her incompetent. 
The word echoed in her ears until she couldn’t stand the thought any longer.  After all the years spent listening to how much she owed the Union, and all the effort she wasted trying to be exactly what they wanted her to be, the announcement she failed was the worst thing anyone could have told her. 
Even the vicious taunting from the other foundlings had been sweetness in her ears compared to this.  Then, she had done her best to disappear—hiding in a closet or cowering under a stairway until they found another target for their cruelty.  If only she could hide as easily from Mr. Dayton’s voice reverberating through her head.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Got Hobbies?

Yeah, I'm a writer, but I never considered that a hobby.  Lord knows, hobbies are supposed to be relaxing.  Do I look relaxed?

Okay, so that's not me.  But I'm pretty sure that's what writing does to your brain after a while.  No, hobbies are supposed to be relaxing.  They're what keeps me from ending up like the above chicken.

First off, and the one that takes most of my hobby time is photography.  I love taking pictures.  Give me an hour to walk around just about anywhere, I'll give you something pretty or interesting or funny to look at.

Mr. Squirrel Needs Coffee

I'm not the best photographer in the world.  I'm not even quite sure how to use all the functions on my nifty neat camera.  I still get a lot of blurry pics.  But I think the reason I'm not really the best photographer is that then it would be too much like work and then it would cease being a hobby.  I'm not willing to go there. 

I'm also a bird watcher.  (The photography hobby comes in really handy there.)  I can sit and watch birds for hours.  To me, they're just the neatest little things.  I spend hours trying to identify the little buggers and when I do, it's like finding treasure.  I know people don't get it most of the time, but sometimes that's what hobbies are - something you enjoy but other people don't get.  Whether people understand is neither here nor there.

Still haven't identified this sucker.
Right now, those are my big hobbies.  When I have time and the inclination, I also crochet.  I only know how to do a single chain stitch, so that's what I do.  Over and over, row after row after row.  I make blankets and then give them to people.  They aren't professional quality, but they're soft and warm, and so far everyone who has one appreciates it.

And I bake.  But baking has led to what I call my 'ever-widening ass' (there's even a song for it), so I've pretty much stopped.  Especially since right now it's only the Hubs and I around to eat my creations.  Back in the old house, I could send baked goods next door and my neighbor friend's four boys would gobble them up.  So no baking for me for a while.

How about you?  What do you do as a hobby?  And if you say writing, that's okay because if you love to do it and it's not driving you crazypants, that's the best hobby of all.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Brain food

While we’re on the subject of donuts…let’s talk about brain food. You know, the stuff you probably shouldn’t be eating but what’s life without it? The stuff that fuels your late nights at the keyboard and keeps the gears in your head running smoothly.

My latest obsession is Starbucks Cookie Crumble Frappuccino. My daughter got one the other day and I tried it and fell instantly in love. So much so that I figured out how to make my own at home with chocolate ice cream, iced coffee and chocolate sprinkles. This was probably a bad idea, because at least the ones I get from Starbucks require money and a half-hour ride [there are no Starbuck’s closer to my house, thank God.] Of course, the blender is at arm’s reach in the kitchen and I can whip up one of these monsters in about ten minutes. I know this addiction is going to catch up to me, but until it does, oh, sweet, sweet desire – I’m in heaven. And I’m sure the combination of caffeine and sugar is good for my imagination. That jolt of artificial energy keeps my fingers flying over the keyboard, therefore not only is it good for me, I can also, technically consider it a work expense and write it off my taxes. Right?

Tell me about your secret or not-so-secret addiction. You know you have one. Spill it!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Favorite Doughnut?

Tomorrow's National Doughnut Day. (Aren't you glad we let you know there's a reason to celebrate such things?)

CLARICE: I love Krispy Kreme jelly donuts. They are sublime. They are full of evil and addicitve as sin, but there is NOTHING like them if you want an overdose of sticky, sweet, gooey perfection that you will regret moments after you eat it. Worth every bite.

B.E.:  I don't think it's possible for me to have a favorite doughnut.  They're my secret addiction.  I could eat a dozen all on my own - and then pay for it later.  So I'm trying to be good and not buy them at all.  But the Krispy Kreme display at Wally World calls to me.  I pick up a box, and then put it back.  Last trip, a half dozen made it all the way to the cashier before I told her to put it back for me.  Who knew that plain old glazed doughnuts could be so attractive?  I mean, they'd be harder to refuse if they were filled with creme or slathered in peanut butter frosting... or if they made an apple fritter.  Mmmm, apple fritters...  :drools a little:

JB: I've never gotten the appeal of Krispy Kreme, but give me a slightly stale plain cruller to dunk in my coffee and I'm in heaven.

Tell us Killer Friends: What's your favorite kind of doughnut? Do you dunk??

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Writing a Book Blurb

There are many things I'm absolutely no good at. I'm directionally challenged, patience-challenged, and comma-challenged BUT  (I think....though I may be deluding myself) I can write a decent book blurb.

Here for example is the book blurb I used in my query letter for CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN:

Maggie Lee is not your average hitwoman. For one thing, she’s never killed anyone before. For another, her sidekick is a talking gecko, a picky eater who is obsessed with Wheel of Fortune.
Desperate to help her hospitalized niece, Maggie finds herself accepting a mobster’s offer of a big payday in exchange for killing his even more monstrous son-in-law. Paired with Patrick, a charming murder mentor (who just happens to moonlight as a police detective) Maggie stumbles down her new career path, while contending with self-doubt, three meddling aunts, and a day job she hates.

If you've read the books and it sounds familiar, that could be because this is the blurb the publisher used:

Maggie Lee is not your average hitwoman. For one thing, she's never killed anyone. For another, after hitting her head in the car accident that killed her sister, her new best friend is a talking lizard—a picky eater, obsessed with Wheel of Fortune, that only Maggie can hear.
Maggie, who can barely take care of herself, is desperate to help her injured and orphaned niece get the best medical care possible, so she reluctantly accepts a mobster's lucrative job offer: major cash to kill his monstrous son-in-law.
Paired with Patrick Mulligan, a charming murder mentor (who happens to moonlight as a police detective), Maggie stumbles down her new career path, contending with self-doubt, three meddling aunts, a semi-psychic friend predicting her doom, and a day job she hates. Oh, and let's not forget about Paul Kowalski, the sexy beat cop who could throw her ass in jail if he finds out what she's up to.
Training has never been so complicated! And, this time, Maggie has to get the job done. Because if she doesn't . . . she's the mob's next target.

There are a slew of great articles out there about writing a good blurb, but I'm going to weigh in with my two cents worth of advice in the form of three words:


I write the rough draft of my blurb BEFORE I write my book. I may change or tweak it down the road, but I think it's important to answer those three questions up front (at least for may not want to answer all of them for readers).

So using my example:

WHEN Maggie's niece is injured, she accepts an offer to kill someone.
THEN she's paired with Patrick, her murder mentor.
And things go along swimmingly UNTIL she realizes that if she doesn't pull off a job, she could become the mob's next target.

See how that worked?

I haven't read TWILIGHT but I pulled the blurb from Amazon to give you another example.

My breakdown:

WHEN: Bella Swan moves to forks she's bored
THEN: She meets Edward and falls in angsty teenage love (or so I'm guessing)
UNTIL: She finds out that he's a vampire and there's a greater evil bent on destroying their love

Amazon blurb:

Bella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Bella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Bella, the person Edward holds most dear. 

So tell me Killer Friends: What do you think the secret of a good blurb is? What makes YOU decide to read a book?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Breaking Glass -- Giveaway -- Lisa Amowitz

Today I want to introduce you to illustrator-turned-debut-author Lisa Amowitz

Her novel BREAKING GLASS looks to be an intriguing read and I'm excited to see the illustrated preview SHARDS.

She's got a cool giveaway AND a contest, so please give Lisa a Killer Welcome!

BREAKING GLASS from Spencer Hill Press, July 2013
by Lisa Amowitz

On the night seventeen-year-old Jeremy Glass winds up in the hospital with a broken leg and a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit, his secret crush, Susannah, disappears. When he begins receiving messages from her from beyond the grave, he’s not sure whether they’re real or if he’s losing his grip on reality. Clue by clue, he gets closer to unraveling the mystery, and soon realizes he must discover the truth or become the next victim himself.

Don't miss the free dowload of SHARDS  which is an illustrated preview of BREAKING GLASS.

Author bio:

LisaAmowitz was born in Queens and raised in the wilds of Long Island, New York where she climbed trees, thought small creatures lived under rocks and studied ant hills. And drew. A lot.
When she hit her teens, she realized that Long Island was too small for her and she needed to escape. So she went to college in Pittsburgh. Go figure.
On leaving college, Lisa became a graphic designer living in New York City. She eventually married her husband of a zillion years, had two lovely children, and was swept away to a fairy tale life in the Bronx, where, unbelievably there are more trees and wilderness than her hometown. She can see the Hudson River from her kitchen window.
Lisa has been a professor of Graphic Design at her beloved Bronx Community College where she has been tormenting and cajoling students for nearly seventeen years. She started writing eight years ago because she wanted something to illustrate, but somehow, instead ended up writing YA. Probably because her mind is too dark and twisted for small children.
BREAKING GLASS which will be released in July, 2013 from Spencer Hill Press, is her first published work. VISION, the first of the Finder series will be released in 2014, along with an unnamed sequel in the following year. LIFE AND BETH will also be released in the near future, along with graphic novel style art.

Giveaway items:
(1)   custom pendant like the one pictured on the book cover

(2) signed ARCS
(1) original work of Breaking Glass related art created and signed by the author.