Friday, March 29, 2013

Amazon - Goodreads or Good grief?

You’ve seen the headlines. And if you’re on any kind of social networking site or forum for authors, you’ve seen all the posts.

Amazon is buying Goodreads.

This may seem weird, but I don’t actually have an opinion on it. The consensus that I’ve seen seems to be that Amazon is extending its already far reach beyond the comfort zone. I don’t know how I feel about it – mostly because Goodreads has always been an uncomfortable place for me. I don’t go there. I don’t read the reviews. I’m not there talking about books I like or dislike or trying to get anyone’s attention. That could be to my detriment, but having visited the place a few times and come away with that icky feeling you get when you’ve been somewhere you probably shouldn’t be, I never felt much desire to go back.

A lot of writers have strong opinions about Amazon and its influence on the industry. Some love it, some hate it, but no one gets by completely free of it.

My views on both entities are cautious. I love that Amazon gave indie pubbed books a chance and allowed writers so much more freedom than we used to have. I find them easy to work with and reliable. I don’t consider them a cash cow, but I know plenty of authors who are making a living off of their Amazon sales. I still don’t want to see any one retailer or publisher [since Amazon is now both] corner the market because that will take away the choices we’ve all just come to enjoy.

Tell me what you think about this merger/acquisition/whatever it is. Will it help the publishing industry, and by that I mean will it help authors? Will it hurt? Should we be thrilled or terrified or noncommittal? Discuss.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

What's your favorite Easter candy?

Even people who don't celebrate Easter seem to have a favorite Easter candy because of the great discounts offered on Monday.  Here are ours. Tell us yours!


CLARICE: Peeps are a classic- and I love that they come in all different colors now. I prefer purple, thank you. But if I had to chose my all-time, hands-down favorite Easter candy, I have to go with a good, old-fashioned hollow chocolate bunny - bite the ears off first and dismantle him piece by piece. Bwahahaha!


JB:  I'm torn between two candies. On the one hand I have a weird fascination with Peep diorama contests. If you don't know what the heck I'm talking about, check this out. On the other hand, I have a deep and abiding love for black licorice jelly beans...love 'em!


B.E.: All time favorite Easter candy - even though it wasn't around for the early part of my life: Cadbury Cream Eggs.  OMG.  Ooey-gooey and chocolatey?  Guaranteed to give you a sugar rush like you've never had before in your life?  Oh yeah.  That's what I'm talking about.  Barring those - because hey, you can't eat more than one of those a week without going into a diabetic coma - are Robins' Eggs.  I eat those by the handful as soon as they hit the shelves.  Nothing like a malted-milk ball in a candy coating to make me think Easter.  =o)


Tell us Killer Friends: What's YOUR favorite Easter candy?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Weathering Rejection

It's taking me forever to read WRITE IT FORWARD: From Writer to Successful Author by Bob Mayer, not because I don't like it (I LOVE it!) but because I'm trying to internalize most of what he's attempting to get across.

I was reading it and had to stop because I really wanted to share this nugget from the book: "...as you spend more and more time in publishing you can weather rejection and misfortune more easily".

You may not LIKE that idea, but I happen to agree with it. I was recently asked about getting THE CALL and part of the answer I wanted to give, but didn't, was this: Getting The Call does not mean your rejections have come to an end. It just means they're about to morph into something else.

Breaking into publishing isn't easy (for most of us). Getting through the publishing process isn't easy (again, for most of us). Publishing again isn't easy.

It's HARD to take rejection, whether it's from a prospective agent, an editor telling you to cut a favorite character, a cover artist shooting down your suggestions, or a publicist nixing a promotion idea, but I happen to agree with Mayer that if you stick with it, it gets easier. You can bounce back a bit quicker, a bit stronger.

This is a hard lesson to internalize because the natural reaction when one experiences pain or disappointment is to shy away from it. It takes a special dedication to put yourself through the process over and over again.

I've known writers who are way (way, way, WAY) more talented than say....me, who gave up. Some self-published (yes, I know there are lots of talented self-published writers, but there are also those who couldn't hack critiques and so never improved their craft, instead they went the "easy" route and self-published) rather than go through another round of queries. Some stopped writing all together. They couldn't weather the storm.

The majority of successful writers that I know (and sure there are some lucky outliers...there always are, and yes, I despise them) have learned the lesson that rejection gets easier with time and experience.

Tell me Killer Friends: Do you agree that "...as you spend more and more time in publishing you can weather rejection and misfortune more easily"?   How much rejection have you experienced? How do YOU deal with it?

If you want to see the interview where I talk about THE CALL -- visit Janet's blog.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesday!

Since the name of the game is TEASER Tuesday, and since I've already posted an excerpt of AN AFFAIR IN APRIL, I thought I'd give you a little hint of MATCHED UP IN MAY, Book 5 of my Spring River Valley Series, coming in May 2013.


Afraid of trusting the wrong guy again, Bailey Cole swore off men for twelve months. When her first date in a year goes bust, hunky bartender Matt Kelso steps in to turn her evening around.

Their spring fling heats up fast, but Bailey never planned on going from zero to sixty overnight. Will she let memories of her cheating ex permanently put the brakes on this perfect match?


EXCERPT


“You did it for Audrey, I want you to do it for me too,” Bailey whispered as she helped Cassandra Hall set up a spread of cupcakes and pastries in the Herald’s cafeteria. Maybe now wasn’t the best time to beg the caterer for matchmaking services, but she was desperate. Audrey Desmond and Cassie’s cousin Max Shannon had just celebrated their three-month anniversary thanks to Cassie’s matchmaking efforts, and with the one-year anniversary of the date she’d kicked her lying, cheating boyfriend Dan to the curb looming, she’d decided it was time to meet someone who could make her as happy as Audrey and Max made each other.
Cassie finished lining up a gorgeous array of red velvet cupcakes decorated with little sugar flowers in honor of the newspaper’s spring company picnic. She wiped her hands on her flowered apron and turned a serious gaze on Bailey. “I’m trying to cut down.”
Bailey eyed the cupcakes, cookies, and mini-cheesecakes that would fuel an afternoon of fun and games in the newspaper’s sprawling parking lot. “On what?”
“Matchmaking. I need to stop meddling in other people’s love lives.”
“Oh, no. You definitely shouldn’t stop. I mean, look at Audrey and Max. They’re so happy.”
Cassie rolled her eyes and nudged a couple of cupcakes in an already perfectly neat row.
“What was that? Are Max and Audrey not happy?”
“No, they’re great…really perfect for each other, and that’s the problem. I didn’t actually match them up. Everyone just thinks I did.”
“But Audrey told me…”
“It’s a long story. Let’s just say, my mojo isn’t what it used to be. Max and Audrey got where they are all on their own.”
Bailey sighed. This was just not fair. After nearly a year of strictly enforced avoidance of dating, she needed to try out her new attitude, her new hairdo, and her new lingerie. She’d clawed her way out of the shell of depression Dan’s infidelity had sent her into, made peace with the fact that she’d deliberately remained oblivious to so many of the signs that he was cheating on her, and made the decision that her next relationship was going to mark a new era in her life.
The moment she’d found out Cassie would be catering the desserts for the newspaper picnic, she’d volunteered as one of the kitchen helpers so she could nonchalantly hit the girl up for some of her famous love magic since none of the other attempts she’d made at wading back into the dating pool had produced any results.
“Please? This could be your swan song. I just need…a little help.”
Cassie gave Bailey an appraising once-over. “Honey, you’re gorgeous. What kind of help could you need?”
Coming from the pretty blonde with perfect bone structure, the compliment was worth something. Bailey grinned. “Thanks, but this is all new…I just had a makeover, and I’m not really comfortable…flirting or anything. I’ve been off the market for a while, and I don’t want to look like a fool, throwing myself at some guy I know nothing about.”
“So throw yourself at a guy you do know something about. This place is crawling with attractive men.”
“I don’t know any guys I want to throw myself at. I—” Bailey waved a hand in front of her. “I don’t want to throw myself at anyone. I just want to meet a nice guy I can talk to, who’s honest and trustworthy. A ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of guy.” She thought of Dan whose polished good looks hid the heart of a snake. Any guy with super white teeth and slicked back hair and a spray-on tan was out, out, out.
The expression on Cassie’s face told Bailey the woman was battling with herself. Finally, she pulled Bailey aside, toward the corner of the cafeteria and away from the other volunteers. “All right. One last time, and only because I know a guy who might be just what you’re looking for.”
Relief washed over Bailey. She resisted the urge to hug Cassie. “Thank you! I really appreciate it. I just…need to get back out there…”
“Let me give him a call and see what I can work out. Give me your number, and I’ll call you before the weekend.”
Bailey slipped Cassie one of her business cards. “I owe you, big time! What can I do for you?”
“You don’t owe me yet. If everything works out for you, let me cater the wedding.” Cassie winked.
“Deal. Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me yet. I’ll call you.” Cassie slipped Bailey’s card into her apron pocket and began collecting the empty cupcake trays. One of the other volunteers helped her carry them out to her van, and Bailey drifted over to where her friend Evie Prentice was helping stack plastic cups and paper plates.
“It’s done,” she whispered in a conspiratorial tone to the reporter.
Evie grinned. “She’s going to get you a guy?”
“She said she knows someone. I’m so nervous already.”
“Don’t be. You’ll be fine. I’m still sorry things didn’t work out between you and Taylor.” Bailey knew Evie still felt bad that there hadn’t been any sparks between Bailey and Taylor Croft. She’d set Bailey up with her boyfriend Tanner’s identical twin brother last month, but while the veterinarian was handsome and considerate and very sweet, there just hadn’t been any fire between them. She liked Taylor a lot, and they’d even taken in a movie on their own without Evie and Tanner, but all they’d managed to do was forge a nice friendship, nothing more serious. Evie thought the whole situation had damaged Bailey’s confidence, but that wasn’t the case at all. All Bailey wanted at the moment was someone to test the waters with, and Taylor was looking for a serious, no-holds-barred, lifelong commitment. Bailey was sure he’d find it eventually, but she just wasn’t the girl he was looking for.
“It’s fine. Taylor’s great, but he’s not the guy for me. I’m okay with that.”
“Who did Cassie fix you up with?”
“She said she’d call me by the end of the week. The suspense may kill me by then.”
Evie laughed. “Don’t worry. I’ve got an EMT on my speed dial.”

****

Just so you know - it may be a little early - but if you're here reading this, you deserve to be let in on a little secret - AN AFFAIR IN APRIL is already available at Amazon.com.


Monday, March 25, 2013

The Killer Next Door

Let me preface this by admitting it is the truth but that my memory ain't the best in the world.  The following are the events as best as I can remember them...

When I was a little girl, my brother had these two best friends.  Great guys.  Dave and Jim.  Two doors down from Jim lived another boy - John.  He was quiet and shy.  Not bad looking - or so I was told because I was too young to notice boys at that point.  If I remember correctly, one of my sisters might have had a crush on him at some point. 

Over the years, the trio of best friends let John hang around with them sometimes because, hey, he wasn't a problem and his home life sucked, so why not let the kid tag along?  He was at our house with them sometimes.  Sometimes he was over at Jim's place with them.  More often than not it was just the three friends because they had their own lives and John was only a peripheral part of it.

One morning - I think it was either Christmas or New Year's Day, our house got a phone call.  Had we seen John?  If we saw John we needed to call the police immediately. 

You see, John woke up that morning and decided he'd had enough of his stepfather beating the crap out of him every day.  So while his siblings and/or half-siblings were downstairs, he took a shotgun and ended that.  All well and good, I say, because in my opinion, child abusers deserve a special place in hell.  And if John had stopped there, I don't think there would've been a jury in the state that would've given him more than a light sentence and some counseling.

No, John's problem was that he didn't stop with the asshole.  I guess somewhere in his brain he'd decided that his mother was part of the problem, too.  After all, she'd allowed it all to take place for so many years without ever making it stop, or leaving the asshole who beat her and her kids, or playing out her own version of The Burning Bed.  He turned the gun on her.  Even then, that might've been enough.  The problem was done.  He was safe.  His siblings were safe. 

But John wasn't finished.  He got in his car and drove to see his ex-girlfriend.  He must've been distraught and I'm guessing he scared the shit out of her.  Naturally, she refused to go with him.  So her shot her, too.  And then for good measure, he took out her neighbor who'd come to help her after hearing her screams. 

The girlfriend lived... a week, I think.  She died from complications after surgery to remove whatever bullets or buckshot John had left inside her.  If I remember correctly, some piece of metal got loose and floated down a blood vessel, causing a clot that killed her.  (But as I said, my memory is shaky sometimes, so don't hold me to it.)

The neighbor lost an arm.

The other kids in the house?  Well, I don't remember exactly what happened to them.  I know I went to school with a step-sister of his and she disappeared - probably into another family member's home of foster care.

Last I knew, no one would buy the house where it happened and it sat empty for as long as I can remember.  (And I moved away from Michigan twenty some years later.)

And John?  He's living out three life sentences plus whatever he got for the attempted murder on the neighbor.  He's doing his time at a prison in Michigan.  No hope of parole.  Ever.  If my math is correct, he should turn 50 this year - after spending thirty some years behind bars.

John deserves to be there.  There's no place else I'd want him to be.  In retrospect, I'm certainly glad he didn't choose to visit one of the best friends' houses because I could've lost more than just a little bit of my innocence that day.

Makes you think, though.  If someone at some point had put a stop to his daily beatings, or if they had never happened, would he have turned another way?  Could he have become a nice mild-mannered auto-mechanic or a peaceful taxi driver?  Or was it just a given that something somewhere would make him kill?

Grisly subject for first thing on a Monday, I know, but hey, this is the Killer Chicks.  ;o)


Friday, March 22, 2013

Open Letter to a Ground Hog

To: Mr. Punxsutawney Phil
      Gobbler’s Knob
      Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania 15767


Dear Mr. Phil,

It has come to the attention of much of the northeastern United States that on the morning of February 2, 2013 you willfully and with malice aforethought misled the general public into believing spring was indeed ‘right around the corner.’

As a concerned citizen, I must lodge my formal complaint and hereby request…nay – DEMAND your resignation effective immediately as the official Ground Hog. It is clear to me, my good sir, that your commitment to the all-important task of interpreting the presence or absence of your own shadow on said day has become, to put it mildly, woefully inadequate.

I put forth as evidence of your misconduct the fact that on this 22nd day of March, the second official day of Spring, it is, in no way spring like. Nor has it been spring like at any time in the past six weeks. Your false prediction casts aspersions on Ground Hogs everywhere and should be ‘grounds’ for your immediately dismissal.

I await your formal resignation.

Sincerely,

Clarice Wynter

cc: The Easter Bunny


Note: If you think my demands are harsh, you should see what the State of Ohio wants to do to him.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lucky? Unlucky? There's no such thing as luck?

The whole "luck of the Irish" thing being bandied about last week got us thinking about luck.


CLARICE:  Like beauty, I think luck is in the eye of the beholder. I try to look at things from the bright side, which makes it a lot easier to feel lucky. For instance, it wasn't unlucky that I had a flat tire on Saturday. It was lucky that it didn't happen on Monday morning. It wasn't bad luck that I misplaced my credit card last week. It was good luck that I didn't have it with me at the mega-shoe sale. Depending on how you look at life, we're all a lot luckier than we think we are.


B.E.:  I spent most of my life watching that I didn't step on cracks, or throwing salt over my shoulder, or even crossing my fingers in hopes that I wouldn't piss off the luck gods.  It's still engrained in me, but the rational part of me knows it's moot.  Sometime we have a say in what happens to us and sometimes things are out of our control.  But in the end, I think we make our own luck. (Doesn't stop me from buying lottery tickets and holding my breath when they call the numbers, though. :wink:)  And, I think hard work helps make the luck better.


JB:  I think life is a balancing act. We all have good luck and bad luck,and with any luck at all, it balances out. BUT I know people who I definitely think are just plain lucky and those who seem to have been born under a black cloud. I don't have a lucky talisman, but I do have a lucky pen that I use to sign all my publishing contracts. ;-)




Tell us Killer Friends: Are you lucky? What's the luckiest thing that ever happened to you? Do you believe in four-leaf-clovers, rabbit feet, horseshoes, etc.? Do you carry a lucky talisman?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

So You Want To Pitch a Book Blogger but Aren't Sure How?

Hey Killer Friends!  We've got a special guest today for all our writer fans.

Donna Huber of Girl Who Reads is going to tell us what we need to know about pitching book bloggers. Take it away, Donna!



Crafting a Killer Pitch

As a book blogger and a publicist, I have the unique opportunity to be pitched to just as I’m pitching titles to others. As a book blogger, I have seen great pitches and...well, some make me die a little inside they’re that bad.

There are a ton of posts in the blogosphere about what not to do when pitching to book bloggers. I won’t bore you with another list of don’ts. Instead, I want to give you tips on crafting a killer pitch that you can use for book bloggers, news media, and even the reader standing in line with you at the grocery store.

When I worked for a publishing house, I asked authors to give me three summaries of their books. Oh, the groans I got! But the exercise is important in learning how to talk about your book.

First, write a summary of your book that is 300 words long. Next write a 150 word summary. Finally, take that 80,000 word manuscript and squeeze the essence into 75 words.

The 75 word summary will be the core of your elevator pitch. When you are standing in line and someone asks what your book is about, this is the summary you will go with. You can always elaborate if they are interested in hearing more, but in 75 words you must be able to hook your audience.

Don’t worry the 300 and 150 word summaries have a role to play and weren’t just busy work.

When I receive a review request, I usually make a decision on whether I will review the book or not within the first 3 - 5 sentences. Those opening sentences should state who you are and what your book is about. If I have to read past the first 3 - 5 sentences to determine what your book is about, the chances of a review drops substantially.


Example:

Hi Donna! I’m Jane Smith, author of young adult paranormal adventure novel Treasure Hunt on Ghost Island. In this fast-paced story, Alex receives a letter from his estranged father during the reading of the will. The back of the letter is a map to the ultimate treasure. Always looking for the extreme adventure, Alex embarks on the hunt of a lifetime, but will it be his last?

Treasure Hunt on Ghost Island will be available at all major retailers in ebook and paperback on May 1. I would be happy to provide you with a review copy in your choice of format.

(For some reviewers, the last two sentence can be very important given not all reviewers review ebooks).

At this point, I’m either clicking delete or reply. However, occasionally I’m still undecided. This indecision is usually a result of being too busy, but not wanting to pass up a great book. Therefore, you need to provide more information that will put it on my must read list.

Remember that 150 word summary? Now is the time to insert it. You may also wish to include quotes from other reviewers. A press release can also be a nice touch, particularly for bloggers who do book features/spotlights. Linking to your website or Goodreads.com can also be a source of information, but it should not be a replacement for providing pertinent details in the email.

The above example is a good generic model to follow. However, to make it a killer pitch one more layer needs to be added. The personal touch. If you can make a personal connection between the reader and your book, then you will catch them hook, line, and sinker.


Bio:
Donna Huber is an extroverted introvert who has found book blogging to be the perfect complement to her personality. She has been shyly raving about books and authors on her blog Girl Who Reads since 2011. She is also the publicist at GWR Publicity, offering affordable publicity services to authors.

Links:
blog http://www.girl-who-reads.com



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - Silver James' 'Rogue Moon' pimpage

This week, I'm giving up my scheduled Teaser Tuesday to show you a bit of the first draft of Silver James' next novel Rogue Moon (due out at Amazon this April).  It's the next book in her Moonstruck series, and I, for one, can't wait to get my hands on the whole thing. 


...
Any pup could have stalked the man. He crashed and stumbled along the game trail, cursing and panting. This was not the sport Rudy craved but his curiosity was even more aroused now so he followed just close enough to keep tabs on the human.

Until Rudy heard the woman scream. Had he not already been in wolf form, he would have sprouted fangs and claws at the sound. Ignoring the brambles that tore his fur and the vines attempting to entrap him, he raced toward the sound.

Reason caught up to his headlong rush and he halted before leaping from the tree line. The man he’d tracked spoke to a woman sitting in a car. Moments later she pulled down the road. A snarl curled his muzzle, baring his canines. Rudy would rip the man apart for…for what?

He abruptly sat back on his haunches. What the devil was wrong with him? He’d come out here to get away from humanity. To hunt and sate his need for blood. What cared he about a man and a woman meeting on a dark road in the middle of the bayou?

“Yeah, I’m sure. She was spooked. I know her. She’ll run to the old woman, tail tucked between her legs.” The man spoke into a cell phone.

An image flashed through Rudy’s imagination—a picture of him tucked between the woman’s legs. Fuck.

Yes, exactly, his wolf growled, prowling in anticipation.

Rudy didn’t even know what the woman looked like. Or smelled like for that matter. What the hell was he thinking? He would find a prostitute. Soon.

He waited as the man walked toward the main road, though Rudy stalked through the shadows in his wake. A car pulled up and stopped. The man climbed in, slammed the door, and the car sped off, kicking up dirt and gravel as it spun back onto the asphalt.

At the end of the drive, Rudy stared at the taillights fading around the curve to his right. He twisted his head to the left and sniffed. Without conscious thought, he turned that direction and padded into the night. He had new prey to hunt—a woman whose scream froze the hot blood pumping in his veins. A woman whose mystery he felt compelled to unravel.

Rudy darted onto the road and sniffed, separating the scents lingering there until he sorted out the one he wanted—the burnt oil smell of the woman’s car. Raising his muzzle to the sky, he howled again. He would find her. And then he would—

Neither man nor wolf could finish that thought. While the wolf wasn’t concerned, it unsettled the man. As if compelled, he trotted after the stench spewing from the woman’s car.

The wolf didn’t keep track of distance and the man’s thoughts were turned inward, simply letting his instincts take over. The grinning moon had shifted lower toward the horizon when he reached the muddy road where the woman’s car had turned in.

Like a shadow, he flitted up the road, boldly and unafraid of discovery. The clock had turned past midnight long ago. Humans would be abed, thinking they were safe behind their walls, unaware of the monsters that stalked the night.

Rudy stopped before entering the cleared space around the house. Dogs. Several of them. Stiff-legged, he skulked downwind of them. He had no desire to rouse the sleeping animals. He had no fear of fighting them, just saw no reason for the confrontation.

A scent teased his nose—tart, like lemon but with a deeper accent like crushed pine needles. The aroma didn’t make sense and Rudy couldn’t pinpoint where it came from. His wolf wanted to roll in it. He wanted—he didn’t know what he wanted. Again. He’d never been a man to waffle. His actions and thoughts were always definitive but at the moment, he could have been a newly-changed pup for all this made sense.

What was there about this scent that intrigued him so? And was this the same smell that eluded him on previous hunts—the one that kept him edgy, still awake and pacing the floor into the small hours of the morning?

Questions. Too many fucking questions. He wanted answers. He settled at the forest’s edge, muzzle resting on his front paws, ears swiveling like radar dishes for the faintest sound.

Dawn stole up on the eastern horizon, catching the night and Rudy by surprise. He’d dozed off in wolf form—something he never did. Vigilant once more, he tested the air. No wind. The dogs no longer slept outside. Where had they gone?

Rudy detected no sign of them—no scent or sound. Then the door opened and they spilled out, cavorting around the feet of an old woman. An old woman who stopped and stared straight into his eyes.

Camille Fontaine sketched a sign in the air with her hands. “Loup garou.” She whispered the words, but without fear. There was little in the swamp she feared and in her long life, she had faced much evil. Staring into the eyes of the wolf, she waited, more curious than anything else. When the animal didn’t move, she shooed her dogs indoors and latched the door so they couldn’t get out. Walking into the yard, she kept her gaze on the wolf.

Rudy didn’t move. Had the old woman ensorcelled him? He waited as she moved closer.

“Loup garou,” she repeated.

He stood, ears pricked in her direction, head low. He didn’t snarl. Not yet.

“You do not belong here. I banish you back to the darkness.” Her nimble fingers flicked through the air.

Muzzle curled into a silent snarl, Rudy remained as still as a statue. His hackles prickled but whatever magic this stará žena might claim washed over him with no effect.

Camille blinked when the wolf didn’t move. She drew the symbols again but nothing happened.

“Why are you here?”

Rudy flicked an ear. He’d like the answer to that question as well.

The door opened, startling both of them. The dogs barreled out, barking and snarling as they ranged stiff-legged around their mistress, prepared to defend her. Rudy ignored them. It was the young woman standing in the doorway that stopped his heart.

Camille twisted to face the house. “Isabelle, go inside, petite-fille.”

Rudy had his answer and by the time the old woman turned back to him, he’d disappeared.
...

Since Silver's been gracious enough to let a first draft snippet loose, let's be gracious enough to let her slide if there are errors.  (And even being a first draft copy, this is pretty damn good.) 


Now for a little bit more about Silver...
 
With a rampant imagination aided and abetted by a Muse who runs with scissors, Silver James loves to share the stories created in that vast cosmic void pretending to be her mind. Over the course of her lifetime, she's been a military officer's wife, mother, state appellate court marshal, airport rescue firefighter and forensic fire photographer, crime analyst, and technical crime scene investigator. Retired from the �real world� now, she lives in Oklahoma and spends her days at the computer with her two Newfoundland dogs, and the cat who rules them all, writing tales of mystery, mayhem, and magic. Oh, and a little romance.

If you haven't read Silver's Moonstruck series, what are you waiting for?  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Little Snippets of Time

Okay, I suppose by now everyone is sick to death of hearing how busy I am.  (I know I'm sick of it.)  But I did want to take a few moments to address what to do with those little snippets of time you have between all the things on your to-do list.  Like while you're waiting for a call back or when you're on hold or you're waiting for the dryer to finish before you run to the grocery store.  You can't do anything else with just a free minute or two, but why waste them entirely?

1)  Outline every word on every piece of paper on your desk.  You know it needs to be done, so why not use now to do it.  And don't forget to make swirlies and pretty flowers around the edges of every note.  These doodles aren't going to draw themselves, people!

2) Play a couple rounds of Word Forge.  (It's evil and addictive, but it's a great way to kill those little bits of time spent waiting.)  And hey, it helps to keep your writing brain sharp.  You're spelling out words, right?  So what if they don't fit together into a sentence?

3) Eat.  But only small morsels.  Don't want the insurance gal to come back on the line when your mouth is full, do we?

4) Pet the cat.  She really only wants attention in short bursts anyway - unless she decides she wants more and is willing to put claws in your leg to prove her love for you.

5) Rearrange your desktop.  This is my brother's way to occupy his time while he's stuck on the phone for a couple minutes.  Of course, after he leaves no one can find anything, but at least he can check 'rearrange the desk' off the to-do list.

What are a few quick things you can do between your bigger to-do list items? 

Friday, March 15, 2013

It's aliiiiiive!!!

Sometimes writing makes me feel like a mad scientist. On rare occasions I'm struck by fits of fiendish glee at the thought of tinkering with the lives and loves of my characters. I can do anything to them! Bwahahaha!

Of course they don't always cooperate with my evil plans, but that just makes me more determined to bend them to my devilish will.

The other night I had a mild brainstorm about one of my WIPs and rather than sit down at my computer and start making changes, I went to my 'laboratory' so to speak. I printed out a hard copy of the story, grabbed a red pen, scissors and tape and spread everything out on the dining room table fully prepared to cut and paste and slice and dice my way to a more cohesive plot.

I've done this before, and it's worked out pretty well. Good old fashioned cutting and pasting actually works for me. The manuscript, when I'm finished 'operating', looks a bit like Frankenstein's monster, all bloody and stitched together, scrappy pieces hanging off the ends and parts that just don't look like they belong.

Of course rather than let my creation teeter around stiffly, groaning in discomfort, I take it to the state of the art surgical theater and rebuild it on the computer so its next incarnation is seamless and streamlined and gives the illusion of being born in one perfect piece.

How do you edit? Do you work with surgical precision on a digital copy or do you get messy in a mad scientist's laboratory like me?

Just call me Dr. Frankenstein.

Sparks

No, not Nicholas.

My theme for today is things that spark the imagination. Okay, maybe that’s a nice way of saying ‘plot bunnies.’

I find that I have to keep my imagination in check if I want to get anything done. Reading books, watching movies and TV, listening to music…anything can set me off with the spark of a new idea for a story. Music is probably the worst culprit. It sounds odd, but I actually have to avoid listening to too much music because songs almost ALWAYS give me ideas for stories and I just don’t have enough room in my brain to keep them all.

My most recent plot bunny spark came the other day when my family went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Just about everything I saw gave me ideas for stories and a lot of ancient art conspired to form an interesting plot in my head…[we’ll just pretend here that my last post wasn’t really about procrastination]. I’d hate to think I have to avoid museums too, but all that cool stuff just BEGS to be written about.

What was the last thing that sparked your imagination? Does your imagination run wild and need to be controlled before it takes over?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Books that inspired me to __________

Books can inspire us to do many things: scale mountains, be a better friend, take up French cooking. Today we're talking about the books that inspired us.


Clarice: As far as romance goes, I suppose it's cliche to say I was inspired by Nora Roberts, but when I first started reading romance, hers were the books that kept me the most engaged. She made me care abou her characters and I wanted to be able to do that. Going farther back, I was definitely inspired by Madeline L'Engle's A WRINKLE IN TIME to want to create amazing worlds for my characters to explore. Above all, I think it was Erma Bombeck's humor books, believe it or not, that really inspired me to want to be a writer.


JB:  I read a bunch of running/marathon books when I decided to tackle my first half marathon, but by far, the one that inspired me the most was The Nonrunners Marathon Guide for Women: Get Off Your Butt and On With Your Training by Dawn Dais.  It is HYSTERICALLY funny and tells the story of a real woman undertaking a chafing, smelly, hungry quest. I figured if she could do it, so could I.  I've now completed three and I STILL re-read the "milkshake" bit before every race.

B.E.:  I read a really cute book last year (Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates) that inspired me to try a new way of baking brownies.  But typically books don't inspire me to try new things like they used to.  I know I'm inspired every time I read a book by Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant, because she's such a brilliant writer that I feel like I have to reach for that level of awesomeness in my own books.  I haven't gotten there yet, but it's something to shoot for.


Tell us Killer Friends: What have you been inspired to do by a book?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Are YOU living on autopilot?



Sometimes you need to turn left.

Last Saturday morning we did a St. Patrick’s Day 5k (no, I don’t have a clue why it was held the week before the holiday). I think this was my fifth or sixth time doing the race, so I didn’t have any “I don’t know what to expect” jitters. I knew exactly what I was going to do and what to expect.

I drove to the race, chatting with Long Suffering, and not paying much attention to where I was headed, because it’s the same basic driving route to the park where we normally run on weekends. Except that when we got off the highway, I should have turned left. Instead, I drove the route I always do and turned right. I was driving on autopilot.

After I’d turned around and gotten over being supremely annoyed with myself, I started to wonder when else I’m on autopilot.

I realized that it’s quite a bit, so I’ve been trying to shake things up, hit “refresh” on my brain if you will. I’ve been brushing my teeth with my non-dominant hand (which requires surprising concentration if you don’t want to get toothpaste all over yourself and your mirror). I shopped the supermarket starting from the opposite side than I usually do. I looked at my writing schedule and revamped it.

I’m trying to consciously make as many choices as possible instead of working from a place of routine or expectation. This fits in well with what I was talking about here. Deciding to turn off autopilot and make choices based on what I truly want is TRULY challenging.

Yet I find I’m ending each day with a greater sense of accomplishment.

I’m currently reading Bob Mayer’s WRITE IT FORWARD.  While I realize that advice from a former Green Beret is not everyone’s cup of tea, I’m lapping it up and loving the myriad of questions he poses.

Tell me Killer Friends: Are you living/writing on autopilot? What do you do to get yourself unstuck? Any great resources you can recommend?

Don’t forget to check out my site to find out the most up-to-date info on my latest release THE HITWOMAN GETS LUCKY, a  novella continuing the story of bumbling hitwoman Maggie Lee and, of course, the talking lizard.  ;-)








Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Teaser Tuesday -- Dangerous Waters by Toni Anderson


            Today's Tuesday Teaser is courtesy of romantic suspense author  Toni Anderson!





                                   Excerpt from DANGEROUS WATERS

Holly Rudd stepped off the speedboat and looked around. Vancouver Island was the size of Scotland, but with a population of only three-quarters of a million people, most of whom where based in the provincial capital, Victoria. The rest were scattered among tiny out-ports and communities like this one—Bamfield, population one-hundred and fifty-five hardy, adventurous souls, according to the last census.
“You can’t moor that there.”
She looked the guy up and down. Surfer blond hair and bare feet. Rugged good looks and attitude to match. She dumped her bag at her feet and turned to the guy who’d ferried her over from Ucluelet. Handed him fifty bucks. “Thanks for the ride.” He waved as he sped away.
She turned back to the dude who stood with arms crossed over his broad chest, radiating impatience and hostility. Sexy as hell. She was tired from lack of sleep, exhilarated by the thought of what the day might bring, but she sure as heck wasn’t blind.
“This is private property.” Blue eyes glittered. Pale hair glowed like white gold in the rays of the rising sun. Hot, tanned, gorgeous. Just her luck.
She raised a brow and checked her watch. “I’m meeting someone here.”
“Public dock is another minute that way.” He jerked his thumb down the inlet.
She smiled coolly. Twelve long years on the job and she was still dealing with macho bullshit. “But someone’s dropping a car off for me here.” She pointed up at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans sign on the side of a large wooden building and started toward it.
He blocked her path. “There’s no one there today.”
She rocked back on her heels, let her eyes range over the square jaw and heated eyes. “You’re not very friendly.”
He didn’t crack a smile. “Not in my job description.”
Not in hers either, but she found smiles worked better than growls when gathering information.
His mouth pinched, then he backed off, relenting. “Tell me who you’re supposed to meet and I’ll get someone to track them down.”
“Who are you?” She had a feeling she knew.
He blew out an impatient sigh. “Look, lady, I don’t have time for this—”
“Sergeant.”
“Excuse me?” Those pale brows formed a formidable line.
She held out a hand. “Sergeant. Sergeant Holly Rudd. I’m with the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit.”
“You’re a Mountie?”
A proud member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police by any other name. She nodded.
He stood stock still, nothing moving but the glitter in his eyes. Finally he sucked in a breath and shook her hand. “Nice uniform.”
She glanced down at her ragged old t-shirt, cut-offs, and thongs. “I was caught a little unprepared this morning as I was officially on vacation. Thankfully I always pack a uniform.” She tapped her bag with her foot, smiled widely, and watched his eyes grow a lot more friendly. And then they shifted straight back to suspicious as he realized she was cataloguing his expressions like a facial analysis program. “And you are?”
“Finn Carver.”
Ah. Her fingers tightened on his when he would have let go. “You called it in?”
“I did.” He forcibly disconnected her fingers.
“I’m going to need all the gear you wore last night, and the other diver’s. Forensics will want to check it out.”
He regarded her with one of those silent, steady gazes people used when they wanted to argue but couldn’t. “I’ll need it back ASAP. I have a busy dive schedule this week.”
“You can use something else for a day or two, right? I’ll make sure they do a quick turnaround.” She needed this guy on her side.
The little time she’d had before the boat trip she’d used to pull up background information on the two guys who’d found the body. Finn Carver had been in the military. Right now he looked ready to go into combat. “Any chance the dive team arrived yet?” she asked.
“No. Their ETA is eleven o’clock. West Coast Marine Service had a call north of Prince Rupert last night. It’s going to take them a few hours to get back here. So far you’re it.” His eyes scraped her form. He didn’t look impressed. She should be insulted, but she worked best when people underestimated her.
“I want to check out the crime scene ASAP.”
His face gave away nothing but skepticism. Those arms crossed again over that muscular chest. Mouth pressed into a firm line. She let her eyes wander over him. He really was very attractive and absolutely untouchable. Knowing that gave her a distinct advantage.
You can take me down,” she suggested.
He gave her one of those sideways glances. Not hostile. Not friendly. “Whoever is in charge of the investigation probably wouldn’t be very happy about that.”
“Me. I’m in charge. On the ground anyway.” Although she was the newest member of the major crime unit here on the island, she had plenty of experience. She let her grin reach her eyes this time. This was her first case as primary investigator in a murder investigation and she didn’t usually have to work this hard to charm anyone. “I just helped solve a case down in Blaine.” RCMP, municipal, and FBI collaboration. A hell of a big deal. “Guy murdered his wife, dumped her in Semiahmoo Bay. We found enough evidence to prove he was lying and he confessed.” To her, at the end of a bloody knife. She rubbed the newly healed scar on her arm. “I’ve been working with forensic experts in Burnaby for some time, looking at decomp after seawater submergence.”
His lip started to thin. He was definitely not buying it.
“If you’re too scared to go back down there…”
He snorted and whirled away. “What am I, eight?”
“If you don’t take me down I’ll find someone who will,” she called to his retreating back.
He stopped, tension stretching the muscles tight across his shoulder blades. “I thought people who found the bodies were suspects?”
Knowledgeable about police investigations. Check. “At this stage everyone’s a suspect, but I can take care of myself.”
A harsh sound was forced out of his mouth. “Just what a potential dive buddy wants to hear.” He swiveled back to her and moved so close she smelled his scent and felt his body heat. She held her ground, watching his nostrils flare. He was trying to intimidate, but she’d been a cop for over a decade, had grown up with cops. There wasn’t much she hadn’t seen or dealt with, and brawny guys with bad attitudes did not scare her. “This isn’t some macho pissing contest. Wreck diving is dangerous, especially at this sort of depth. Only experienced divers should be down there.”
“I can handle it.” Her voice was sharp. He wasn’t a pushover for female charm or pretty smiles. Perhaps proving she was damn good at her job would work instead.
He went to walk away, but she reached out to touch his arm.
“I have dive training.” She spoke softer this time. She’d learned to dive exactly so she could pursue this sort of investigation.
He paused, those eyes of his diamond hard. “Prove it.”
She let go of his arm and bent to pick up her bag. Unzipping the tote she pulled out her brand-new PADI diving certificate. “I just completed the basic dive training yesterday.”
“Fortuitous.” He plucked the book from her fingers and flipped through it. “You did four open water dives and think you’re ready for a thirty-meter wreck dive?” He shoved the book back in her hand and stalked away. “Not on your life, Sergeant Rudd.”
“I checked you out, Mr. Carver.”
“I bet you did.”
She followed him into a low-slung single-story building, the room full of tanks and neoprene. The desk overflowed with papers, keys, coffee mugs. Where was everyone? The place was quiet as a graveyard. He picked up the phone.
“I heard you’re the best dive instructor this side of the Pacific. If anyone can get me into that wreck it’s you.”
“Getting you into the wreck wouldn’t be the problem.” His eyes flicked over her, unmoved by flattery. He started talking on the phone. “Johnny? Finn Carver here. I’ve got a woman called Holly Rudd claims she just completed a PADI course with you?”
It went silent and Holly leaned against the doorway, straining to hear above the background sound of running water.
“What was she like under pressure? Think she could hold her own on a thirty-meter wreck dive?”
She watched his face, trying to gauge the answers, but his impassive features gave nothing away.
“Would you trust her with your life?” The reply made Finn smile. “That’s what I figured. Talk to you later.” He hung up.
“What did he say?” She could have kicked herself for asking.
He stared at her, then bent down and started filling an air cylinder. “You don’t want to know.”
Her eyes widened despite her efforts to conceal her emotions. “Well, it won’t be anything I haven’t heard before.” She lived in a man’s world and never forgot the fact, but she was done playing games. “Are you taking me down or not? So far we’ve only got your and Professor Edgefield’s word a body even exists. And even if there’s a body, it doesn’t mean it’s a homicide.”
He snorted. “Trust me, it’s a homicide.”
This was her first murder as lead investigator, and she would not be thwarted. Checking out the crime scene with the body still in place was imperative as long as she didn’t contaminate the scene. The guys on the Underwater Recovery Team were no more likely to take her down than he was. She geared herself up for an argument.
“You do exactly as I say. No pulling rank or cop bullshit when we get down there. And you’ll owe me.” Carver disconnected one cylinder and began filling another. His eyes were flat and hard.
“You’re going to take me down?” A rush of adrenaline shot through her. She nodded. “As long as it isn’t illegal, I’ll owe you.” She nodded.
“Down there I’m boss. You have to trust me implicitly.” He took a step closer and her mouth went dry. “If I put my hands on you…” He rested both hands on her hips and she felt the imprint of each burning hot finger. She forced herself not to react. This was a test. She didn’t fail tests. Ever. “If I grab you, you don’t freak out. You help me do whatever the hell it is I want to do. You follow my lead exactly and we’ll both get out of there alive.”
She found herself staring up into those bright blue eyes, only inches from hers. Energy sizzled between them. A sudden wave of sexual awareness mixed with mutual mistrust, a subtle perfume of complication.
Red burned his cheekbones. He released her. He hadn’t expected it either.
“I have to trust you. Think I can do that?” Blue eyes held her gaze.
She didn’t make a joke about putting her hands on him because suddenly it wasn’t funny. One, he was a suspect and she refused to feel anything for him that wasn’t strictly professional. Two, they were going to dive a hazardous shipwreck at thirty meters with a rotting corpse at the end. It wasn’t the sort of treasure most divers dreamed of, but she wasn’t most people. She kept her mouth shut. Nodded.

Available in print, digital and audio from
Powell’s (http://www.powells.com/biblio/71-9781612186078-0)


TONI ANDERSON is a former marine biologist who conducted her Ph.D. at the Gatty Marine Laboratory in St. Andrews, Scotland, and traveled the world with her work. She was born and raised in rural Shropshire, England but, having lived in five different countries, finally settled in the Canadian prairies with her husband and two children—about as far from the ocean as possible. She combines her love of travel with her love of Romantic Suspense and writes stories based in some of the places she’s been lucky enough to visit.
She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death Chapter, and The International Thriller Writers’ Association.
When not writing, she’s walking the dog, gardening or ferrying the kids between school, piano, and soccer games.