Friday, July 31, 2015

The Phases of Writing

Hey Killer Friends!  I thought I'd talk to you a little about the process this morning.  Or at least, the process as it applies to me.

Phase 1: Sit my butt down and start a new story.  Sometimes this is on the computer.  Sometimes it's in a notebook.  The important part is getting paragraphs down.

Phase 2: Write all the way through to THE END.  (Well, actually, I don't type the words THE END until I'm nearly through editing, but you know what I mean.)

Phase 3:  Read through.  I really do start this phase with every intention of just reading the book from start to finish, but every single time, I start making edit notes.

Phase 4:  The Kindle-edit.  This may be specific to me.  I mailed myself the book for Phase 3, so now I sit down with a notepad and a red pen (always a red pen for me), and as I read, I make notes on paper about everything that doesn't work.  I use a > at the beginning to indicate new note, write down the first words in a sentence so I can find it later, and then underline or circle the niggly part.  At the end of the note, I put a ( and explain what needs doing.  Sometimes if the part needs extra work I put >> and then the end note is whay longer.

Phase 5: The Fixing.  I take the notes I made, sit here at the computer, and work through all the lines.  After I complete one, I put a big black check mark next to it.  Sometimes, it's fast going, and sometimes one note can take hours to complete. 

Phase 6: Off to the editor: Part One.  Wherein my most awesome editor marks the hell out of the manuscript I just spent weeks fixing to make it better. 

Phase 7: Editorital Fixing

Phase 8: Off to the editor: Part Two.  By now, the only things that should be in the notes are typos, weird wording, errors I inserted during my last Fix.

Phase 9: Editorial Proofy-type Fixing

Phase 10: Formatting the book for publication.

Phase 11: Uploading the book to Amazon and Createspace.

Scattered throughout all of that is cover creation/selection stuff, marketing stuff and angsting stuff and general rending of garments. 

And that, my friends, is the glamorous world of writing a book.  Any questions?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Play Me a Song, Piano Man?

Took a mini-vacation this weekend with a friend. We both had reasons to celebrate (I was celebrating the release of THE HITWOMAN'S ACT OF CONTRITION) and we had a great time.

I tried a new-to-me food in a salad:

Sweety Drops

Little mini peppers -- yummy!

We also went to a piano bar. Lots of fun and I was quite happy with what they did with my request: "1985".

If you're not familiar with it:

Tell me Killer Friends: What new-to-you foods have you tried lately? Have you had sweet drops? If you were going to request a song, what would it be?

Monday, July 27, 2015

I Have A Release Date!

It's official! 

I have a release date for my next romantic suspense, EXPOSED.

September 11, 2015

Someone's always watching...

Kate Logan needs a safe haven, a place to start over after her modeling career disintegrates in scandal. But her hometown of Aspen Lake isn’t the sanctuary she hoped. Her vow of a low-key life is disrupted by a break-in and other strange happenings at her boutique. As the chair of Aspen Lake’s Gothic Revival Festival, she’s also drawn the ire of a religious fanatic. Kate is up to her stilettos in drama and intrigue including one sexy carpenter who’s determined to get in her way.

New to town, Seth Stone is seeking inspiration and solitude to concentrate on his art. Short on funds, he agrees to take on a second job restoring the damage to Kate’s Closet. Trouble erupts along with the desire to get to know Kate better. When he’s used as a pawn in a smear campaign against his gorgeous boss Seth fights back. But now the whole town is watching. Including the man determined to further his own agenda. Time is running out with nowhere to hide.

Sneak Peek!

Splinters of wood, shards of glass, and Kate’s last remaining scrap of poise crumbled under the heavy tread of his steel-toed boots. Seth eyed the broken lock, gave the door a yank, and sent it crashing to the floor.

Kate jumped back.

Next, Seth ripped off a shattered section of doorframe and tossed it into a growing pile. “They knew to take it out close to the deadbolt. Knew the doorjamb would give way. These old deadbolts only extend so far and presto you’re in. Would have taken some heft to do it though.”

So, a hefty axe-wielding maniac with a thing for women’s clothes. Perfect. That didn’t make her want to chug a giant rum and coke at all. “Can you fix it?”

“Sure.” He dug around in a couple of pockets before pulling out a measuring tape.

Good Lord, his cargos had more pockets than she had good intentions. But at least he was giving her some good news. “Today?”

“The door? Yeah. I’ll need to go back and get supplies: a door, new locks. Obviously.” When she didn’t smile back, he nodded his head in what could only be defeat. “Right. I have a couple of things I need to finish up there, and then I’ll be back.” He fingered a torn wire. “Nothing I can do about the alarm. You’ll have to contact the company. But you’ll have a door in by the end of the day. The rest of it is going to take some time.”

He dived back into his pockets and came out with a little pencil. More searching for what she assumed was paper to write on with no luck. She flipped open her organizer, pulled off a piece of paper and handed it to him. “How much is all this going to cost me?”

I give you a hint, it's going to cost her plenty! EXPOSED is Book 2 in my Aspen Lake Series with BACKLASH being Book 1. 

What he’s sworn to protect, she’s willing to sacrifice to save those she loves...

When dedicated teacher Lily Wheeler interrupts a vicious gang attack on one of her students, she vows it won’t happen again. But her rash interference puts her in the path of a cold-blooded killer and the constable tracking him — a man she has little reason to trust, but can never forget.

Constable Chase Porter returned to Aspen Lake to see justice done, not renew old acquaintances. But when he rescues the woman he once loved from a volatile situation, he realizes his feelings for Lily haven’t lessened over the years.
Now, the dangerous killer Chase has sworn to capture has Lily in his sights. Can Chase and Lilly learn to trust each other again before it’s too late — or will old insecurities jeopardize their future?

So, that's what is new with me! What's new with you?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Drawing a Blank

As I sit here Thursday night, composing a post for this morning, I am drawing a total blank.  I could tell you about my upcoming release, but since JB's book releases tomorrow, and mine doesn't release until next month, I want her to have the spotlight.

I could tell you about my newsletter, but I'm drawing a blank on that, too, and it's supposed to go out August 1st.  It'll get done and it'll have neat, exclusive stuff in it, but exactly what the words will be, I have no clue.

All my words seem to be used up right now.  I'm deep into editing two different books, but I haven't written any new words since early last month, and I feel like a freakin' creativity desert.  Nothing witty this way comes. 

So, rather than bore the crud out of you any more than I already have, here's a picture.

Maybe Mr. Squirrel will be more interesting than I've been today.

What's interesting for you right now?  What could I write about that would bring you here, keep you here, and encourage you to comment?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Next week, I'll post some stuff about my upcoming release.  Stop on by.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


The tenth book in the CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN series will be out July 25th!

Imagine a high-strung, comfort loving hitwoman at a rustic spiritual retreat. 

Things are finally looking up for Maggie Lee. 

Her almost-lover Patrick is taking steps (albeit deadly ones) to insure they’ll have a future together, her niece Katie is about to be released from the hospital, her sister Marlene has stopped turning tricks and started tossing pizzas, and Maggie has a chance to land a new (legal) job. 

If only God would stop hounding her to apologize to her mother, Maggie would be pretty close to content with her life. 

When Maggie agrees to take out a new target, using a spiritual retreat as her cover story, she ends up with a spoon (long story), an odd, selectively mute roommate, and a chance to save a life. 

As Maggie struggles to balance all the important people in her life and deliver on the deadly contract, she begins to believe that God may be right about the act of contrition he’s demanded…but will she live long enough to do it? 


Monday, July 20, 2015

Stay Sane, Have a Hobby!

Back in the days when I was terrified of failure and therefore avoided trying my hand at doing what I truly wanted to do which was be a writer I searched for a creative outlet. I crocheted, sewed, needlepointed, and scrapbooked just to name a few. Then came my artist phase. I foolishly thought I was going to be an artist. A painter. Not of rooms, but like on canvases. I think that's when the tide turned. Those attempts at oil painting were my rock bottom.

I can laugh about it now.

But, I still have hobbies! Everyone needs a hobby, don't you think?

Hobbies reduce anxiety and lower your blood pressure. They help you block out the noise. They can lead to social connections. Help improve your memory and fine-motor skills. There is a bunch of good things and positive results waiting for you around the hobby corner.

Some of my favs:

I want to list reading as a hobby, but at this point I don't think I'd survive without it, so it's more like one of life's necessities. Water, food, housing, books.

Never let it be said I've let a craze pass me by without trying it out. I bought my first adult colouring book to take camping. I enjoyed getting out the coloured pencils and giving it a go. It's something I could see myself doing to keep my hands busy and my mind free. And, I get to go to the craft store to buy more pencils and markers.

Photography. I love taking pictures. Which is why I love Instagram. You can find me here.

Walking. Something I don't do enough of but plan to do more of.

I'm pretty sure Pinterest and online Solitaire don't count as hobbies. Do they? My husband loves jigsaw puzzles and golf. What are your favourite interests and hobbies?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Deer in Headlights

As you all may or may not know, I'm a hermit. I rarely go out in public, and when I do, it's with as much anonymity as I can get away with.  Now, that's not to say I can't be sociable.  I just prefer not to be about 90% of the time.  Oh, I'm a whiz at chatting with the local convenience store gals, or the bank gals, or the Walmart cashiers.  They don't know me, I don't know them, and if none of us every sees each other again, no one will be the poorer.  (Although, after two years of chatting, I'd would miss some of them if they went away because seeing them makes my outings more pleasant.)

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is I do better when I'm anonymous.  And if you're just a writer, that's okay, I guess.  I mean, it was okay for the past ten and a half years.  I wrote, and no one knew about it.  Of course, I also wasn't published and, therefore, not in a position where I had to be out there selling my own work.

Now, I am a self-published author.  Sales and marketing are all on me.  I have to present a face out there in public if I want to sell books. Okay, that's what online is for, right?  Never need to actually see or be seen?  Huzzah.  Except that doesn't feel like quite enough. So, every rare once in a while, I actually pull up my big girl panties and face my fears.

Yesterday, I decided to do just that.  You see, I've been meaning to hit the library up north and donate copies of my books.  But every time I've driven past there before, I've chickened out.  I made myself not chicken out this time.  And I'm so glad I didn't.  The gals there were amazing and enthusiastic.  They were welcoming and excited about my books.  And excited to know me.  I was in a happy place.  Until...

The book reviewer for the local paper walked in.  I didn't know who she was until the librarians made the introductions.  And I know I got that 'deer in headlights' look.  Not that the woman wasn't totally pleasant.  She was friendly and kind.  What got me freaking out - beyond the magic tipping number of more than two people around me at once - was she wants to do an interview and a write up for the paper. 

Then another patron of the library came in.  He was an artist and a member of the local group of creative people, and he wanted me to join.  Lucky, the journalist gal had already left by then, so I didn't have more than three people talking to me, but he presented a whole other set of things to freak out about.  One of the librarians saved me by telling the gentleman what I had told her earlier - I am a hermit.  She even pointed to the back of my books, where it specifically says I'm living the hermit life.  He smiled and went on his way, saying how nice it was to meet me and how he couldn't wait to read my books.

After he left, an older woman came in and the librarians chatted me up, but by then I was shell-shocked, so all I could do was smile and nod.

Thinking about it now, my heart's pattering.  Not quite as bad as when the local bookstore owner suggested I go to a local writer event - where there would be tons of people - but still.  I'm not cut out for personal appearances.  Not anymore.

But the head librarian said she wants to talk to me about having an author event there in the future.  She was so nice, how could I refuse?  Besides, at some point, I need to get over this hermit-tude.  And one day couldn't hurt.  Right?

What about you?  Have you ever spoken in public?  You know, it's like the most feared thing in the world next to Death, right?  And I majored in public speaking, for petesakes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Can you be an unlucky person?

I'm not a big believer in being lucky. I tend to think that most "luck", at least to some degree, comes from being at the right place at the right time. 

Chances are if your co-workers say you're "lucky" to have landed a promotion, they're not aware of the work you did to put yourself in a position to be promoted. If you're "lucky" enough to catch a home run ball while in the stands, you probably bought yourself a ticket (and probably not in right field), you attended the game, and you paid attention to what was going on.

So, I don't really believe in being unlucky either...unless I'm feeling sorry for myself.

Like last week when I was telling my sister about one of my recent misadventures and she interrupted to tell me, through gales of laughter, "You are just unlucky. Some people are unlucky and you're one of them."


Here's the story:

I'm driving along the highway and suddenly a huge piece of truck tire appears in the road ahead of me. Because of the traffic surrounding me, I had no choice but to hit it. 

It ruined my bumper (and resonator),  but I was convinced I was lucky it hadn't bounced higher, that I hadn't swerved into anyone, that I wasn't hurt.  I felt lucky.

So I limped the car, which was making terrible noises, off at the first exit and pulled into a Waffle House. (If you're not familiar, Waffle House is a chain...that apparently serves a lot of waffles. They're a Florida fixture, but I'd never been to one before.) It was 11:30 in the morning, a busy place in an unfamiliar area, so it seemed like a good, safe place to stop.

I called AAA, sat on hold for a long time, finally reported that I needed a tow, and was told it would be a THREE HOUR wait. (At 11:30 on a perfectly clear Monday morning.) 

But it was okay, I figured. I'd go into the Waffle House, have some lunch and appreciate their air conditioning.

I made a couple of calls. Aware that the breakfast crowd seemed to be thinning in preparation for the lunch crowd.  

Finished my calls and headed for a cup of coffee and a world famous waffle.

Except this particular Waffle House closed at NOON that day for renovations.

(This is the point in the story where my sister made her unlucky declaration while laughing at me. In her defense, if you had any idea of everything that's gone badly for me in the past few years, you might very well agree with her.)

So I couldn't get coffee, or a waffle, but I was able to beg them to open up and let me use the bathroom, so I've now at least been inside a Waffle House.

Long story short, the tow truck showed up about an hour and fifteen minutes after I'd called.  Which in a normal world sounds ridiculous, but considering I was expecting a three hour wait in a DESERTED parking lot, on a 90+ degree day, I was thrilled.

So what do you think, KILLER FRIENDS? Can someone be lucky or unlucky?
Which would you consider yourself?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Mental Toughness and Going For The Win

We're off camping! We've taken adventure by the hand and we're off to survive in the wilderness for 5 days. We will being foraging off the land and living like the pioneers did. 

I'm kidding.

That would be insane. We have a trailer, with a microwave. And importantly, a bathroom. But I've run a bit short of time so I'm recycling a blog post I wrote for my personal blog a while back. But the Pam-Am Games are currently going on in Toronto and I'm always fascinated by how athletes deal with the stress of competing.

No one can help but be impressed by the physical prowess of athletes competing at the Toronto 2015 Pam-Am Games. The best of the best from 41 nations, they are magnificent. Powerful, agile, honed to perfection, they push the bounds of human stamina. It's all very impressive to behold. But what's truly impressive, to me anyway, is the mental toughness it takes to get this job done. To compete and challenge the best in the world and not get lost in the mental garbage land of doubts, desperation, and the dark places one goes when things are not going as well as we had hoped.
No excuses allowed in this arena. Mental toughness and resilience are everything.
All this can apply to success in any endeavor, writing included. If you want to be the best you have to think like the best. According to David Yukelson, Affiliate Associate Professor of Exercise and Sport Science Sport Psychologist at Penn State there are four Key Psychological Characteristics Associated With Mental Toughness: Self-Belief, Motivation, Focus, and Composure/Handling Pressure.
Self-Belief: You have to believe you can do it. Without a doubt know you can do it. You need to figure out what makes you unique, make the absolute most of those qualities and strengths that work in your favor and that put you in contention.
Motivation: You have got to be able to taste the success. Feel it with your fingertips. See it as clearly as your face in the mirror. And you have to want it with everything you have in you. You need to take the setbacks that are going to come your way and use them to strengthen your determination. Use the momentum of motivation to bulldoze distractions.
Focus: Retaining that concentrated focus at the right times. By using routine and practice to signal effort. You walk through that door and it's on. You need to shut down the negative voices telling you things you don't need to hear. And you need to be able to turn it off when you walk back out.
Composure/Handling Pressure: Be in the moment. Embrace the pressure. It's in your hands. What you do with the distractions and unexpected events can mean the difference between productivity and negative gains. You will worry, the anxiety will wrap around you like an old friend. Learn to cope with it.
A Positive Attitude
"We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot."  Eleanor Roosevelt

Patience and Persistance
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”    ― Calvin Coolidge

Dreams do not come cheap. Nor are they easy. But we all have them. Are you prepared to put it all on the line to achieve yours? Which athletes have inspired you, past or present?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Back Up Time

Hey all.  When was the last time you backed up your files?  Take some time and do that, k?

As I sat here listening to the thunderstorms roll in, I remembered to backup my files.  But, you know, the last time my computer crashed, it was a bright, sunny day.  My computer had just had enough.  It died.  The harddrive went soft.  And I lost everything I hadn't remembered to backup.  We call it The Great Computer Crash of 2006.  And I live in fear that it will happen again.

My books were fine.  I back those up every time I make a change.  Every single time.  And I back them up by emailing them to my Gmail account.  Plus, when I backup to USB Drive, I put those on there, too, so I don't lose anything pertinent that wasn't in the book's file itself.  This time it was book covers - because I know damn well those aren't anywhere else. 

No, what I lost was a good bit of picture files.  Including almost all of my baby pictures for Kira Kitty.  She was so tiny back then it's almost hard to believe, and I don't have the pics to prove it anymore.

Now, since I take a boatload of pics, and I never throw anything out, I need a 32GB stick just to keep them all - and soon I will have to go to a 64GB stick.  I do have one of those.  It's got everything I need on it, and it's sitting in my safety deposit box.

Oh yeah, I should mention that it's a wise idea to make sure you have a backup off site.  In case of emergencies, doncha know.  If your house burns down, all your files will be safe.  Or if a tornado blows through.  You get my drift.  If you don't have a safe deposit box, send a copy to a friend or a family member - someone you trust to not go waltzing through your files - as long as they live somewhere else.  Don't want your backups in the same general area as your hard drive, just in case.

Yeah, I need to practice what I preach because I know darn well the drive in the box needs updating.  What a pain in the buns.  Still, it's worthwhile to do it. 

Because the last thing you want is to lose months worth of precious files and pics and words.  You'll never rebuild them.  Trust me. 

What about you?  How often do you backup?  Use a thumb or a CD, or do you leave it to the cloud?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Trying to be Positive

If you follow me on Facebook (if you don't, why not? here I am) you know that for a couple of weeks now, I've been posting a quick list every day about what I'm feeling happy/positive about.

I decided to do this one day when it felt like all I saw on FB feed was negative/angry/hate-filled posts.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with some of those posts and could write them myself. But after writing a ranting post, I paused, and asked myself if that was what I wanted to put out into the world. Did I want to perpetuate the practice that makes me angry/sad/depressed?

My answer was 'no'. So I've been posting positive/happy things and a weird thing started to happen.
Some of my followers began their own positive posts. People send me private messages, people email me.

I never expected any of that.

I was just trying to change my own mindset.

And guess what, it's working.

A couple of weeks ago I had a car accident and I immediately found the positive in it. In the past I would have raged about how unfair it was and how the truck driver who left his tire in the road was an idiot, but when I got out of the car and  looked at the damage, I immediately thought, "That could have been a lot worse. I got  lucky."

This week I'm a bit overwhelmed about next week's work. I'm writing Hitwoman 11 (due to my editor at the end of the month) and I'm going to get the copy edits back for Hitwoman 10, AND I'm getting content edits back for another book, AND I really want to work on the new series I'm developing.

That's ALOT of work.  But when I started to panic and feel overwhelmed, I found myself thinking, "Isn't it cool that after years of hard work, I'm this busy with my writing?"  Change of mindset. Now I'm eager to tackle EVERYTHING.

Now don't get me wrong. I still have negative/angry/hateful thoughts (they keep manifesting in my dreams...that can't be good) and there are days when I'm hard-pressed to come up with something "good" to post on Facebook, but I'm glad I've gotten into the habit and I'm grateful for all the practice has brought me.

Tell me Killer Friends: What are YOU feeling happy or positive about?

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Strange Things That Fascinate Suspense Writers

You do not want to know the search history of your favourite writer. Particulary, but not limited to suspense, thriller, crime, mystery, or romantic suspense writers. Heck, probably any writer who has ever plotted anything. Ever.

You just...don't. Trust me.

Because there are times I get a tiny bit paranoid about the information I'm searching for and I can't help wondering if the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has some kind of cyber division who has set it's search engine optimization meta data parameters to red-flag people innocently searching for ways to shoot a peson without actually killing them. Can you imagine that conversation?

RCMP cyber crimes officer1:  Get this, Rick. This one's not even pretending to be subtle.
RCMP cyber crimes officer2:  Do they ever?
RCMP cyber crimes officer1:  Abdominal gun shot wounds. Seems she's not interested in killing someone though, just maiming them. Wants to know how long it would take to bleed out.
RCMP cyber crimes officer2:  Writer?
RCMP cyber crimes officer1:  Got it in one.
RCMP cyber crimes officer 2:  Why can't they watch porn like everyone else?

So, when you don't have to go looking for felonious information because it literally lands in your lap along with your morning tea, all the better.  Headline in Saturday's paper: Sinister Plots Sprout From a Poison Garden. This particular garden is found at Alnwick Castle, not far from the Scottish border. You've seen it in the Harry Porter movies. It's where Harry learned to fly a broom. But I digress, because...

A. Poison. Garden.

Now I'm obsessed with the idea of one of my characters (somewhere down the line) tending her or his own poison garden.  I mean people grow things all the time that can be harmful to your health, just ask anyone who's had a baby or a pet. The Washington Post article by Diane Roberts mentions daffodils, that lovely, harbinger of spring. Did you know that ingesting a bulb will hospitalize, if not kill you? That catnip makes humans mean and violent, which is why the hangman would eat a bunch before an execution?

Inspiration has struck.

Setting: Ex-Husband's Summer House

Cunning Villain:  I brought salad.
Not-so-Innocent Victim:  Thank you. That's very kind. Um...were you invited?
Cunning Villain:  Made with fixings right from my very own garden. A peace offering of sorts.
Not-so-Innocent: Victim:  It's looks delicious, but I don't think I recognize some of the ingredients.
Cunning Villain:  New type of greens. Very popular with the hipster crowd. Especially if eaten ironically.
Not-so-Innocent Victim:  Right.
Cunning Villain:  So glad we can get together like this after everything that's happened.

So, what does your search history reveal about you? Are you a gardener? Every read a book in which poisonous plants played a role?

A lupin from my garden, which is not poisonous. As far as I know...

Friday, July 3, 2015

Sales and Ads and Tigers, Oh My

Okay, so there won't really be tigers, but I do have a sale starting today and running through the holiday weekend.  It's what they call a Kindle Countdown Deal, and it works like this:

Today, Accidental Death will be 99c.  Tomorrow, it'll be $1.99. Sunday it will be $2.99.  Monday it'll go back to its regular price of $3.99.  Pretty good deal for a book I figure is 272 pages or something like that.  (I forget the page count.  It's a little over 80K words.)

Coinciding with today's sales is an ad with Ereader News Today. 

Anyway, here's Accidental Death in a nutshell:

Murder doesn’t happen here.
Serenity is the safest, little town in Colorado.  But residents are dropping like flies. No big deal. Accidents happen.
Detective Dennis Haggarty is there to comfort his recently widowed sister, not investigate a homicide.  However, finding a corpse means he can’t avoid doing his job—especially since the local authorities are determined to disregard the facts.  Delving deeper, he finds a string of deaths everyone wants to ignore even when all the evidence points to murder.  Lucky for the detective, one person in town seems rational enough to help him.
Too bad she’s his prime suspect.

I hope you'll snag a copy.  Tell your friends.  Leave a review.  That sort of stuff.