Monday, May 30, 2016

Attitude Is Everything

My grandmother had a saying: Arbeit macht das Leben sues. Which translates from German to "Work is the sweetness of life." Both my grandmothers were pretty darn awesome and they both had an incredible work ethic.

I think my grandmother's point wasn't that we should only choose to work hard at the things we love to do, but to have the attitude that if something must be done then do it well and enjoy the process. That some jobs are necessary. Some are tedious. And some need to be done because you have no choice.  

But attitude is the key.

The marketing side of writing is definitely a challenge for me. I know what needs to be done, I just avoid doing it most of the time. 

Marketing is a necessary work for a writer. So I guess my attitude's about to change. What part of your job do you avoid?

Friday, May 27, 2016

SCIU #3 Early Snippet

I have new book brain.  A few days ago everything fell into place in my head so I could start writing the next book in the SCIU (Serial Crimes Investigation Unit) series.  Thus, my brain is so full of that, I'm having a tough time thinking of anything else. 

So, rather than try and force a post, I thought I'd just drop the very early, very rough draft of the beginning of SCIU #3 (no title yet, sadly).

Gavin Culp gazed out over the city of Springfield.  The sun was just about to set in Missouri and everything held a soft glow.  The autumn trees were alive with color as if lit by a hundred golden fires from within.
“I’ve never been up here,” the woman said from behind him.  “You’re so right.  It is beautiful.”
Luring her to this place had been so much easier than he had anticipated.  And he had already believed this would be his easiest kill yet.  Her intellect had always been beneath his own.
“I can’t believe I ran into again after all these years.  Small world, eh?”
“Yes,” he said with his back still turned from her.  “It is a very small world.”  Getting smaller all the time as a matter of fact.
“How did you manage to get access to this roof?”
“A friend has a key.  I come here to unwind, so whenever I’m in town, he lets me use it.”
“I can’t imagine a better place to relax.”
Finally, he turned to gaze upon his guest.  She hadn’t really changed much in twenty years.  Still the fat pig she’d been then. Same mousy brown hair. Same watery blue eyes. Her clothing was of a better quality, but she still wasn’t exactly dressing for success. 
“Imagine bumping into you after all these years.”
He had to stop himself from rolling his eyes and telling her she’d already said almost that exact same thing.  Pedestrian bitch.  She never had imagination.  That she had book smarts could never be denied, but her ability to problem solve and think critically had been her ultimate failing.  That she’d been so beneath him her ignorance lulled him into a false sense of security back then made him want to put a bullet between her eyes now.
But that wasn’t the plan.  That, in itself, would be beneath his intellect as well.
“Meeting you was almost like it had be pre-ordained,” he said with a smile.  “But what are you doing standing all the way over there.  You’re missing the best part.”
Her plump cheeks reddened.  “I’m a little afraid of heights, so if you don’t mind, I’ll just look from over here.”
Gavin laughed like it was the simplest thing in the world to overcome.  “I won’t let you fall, Martha.  Honest.  You don’t want to miss this.”
“It’s a surprise.”  He exaggerated a pout and she laughed—just like he’d planned.  “Come on.  Once the sun drops below the horizon, you’ll miss it.”
The look in her eyes told him she was moving against her better judgment, but she still moved.  One step closer.  Then another. 
He reached out a hand and she placed hers into it.  Her sweaty palm made him want to gag, but he grinned.  “That’s it.  A little closer.”
Stepping to the edge, she sidled up against him for either comfort or to come on to him. He wasn’t certain.  Either way, she wouldn’t find what she was looking for.  Not from him.
“What did you want to show me?”
“ A little thing I learned from Newton.”
“Newton?”  Her eyes crinkled and she laughed.  “How funny.  I went out of competition because of a question about Newton.  Something about his work with the law of gravity.”
“Exactly,” he said.
It was the last word she heard.  The only other sound was his laughter mixed with her screaming for the last three point oh five seconds of her pointless life.

It's rough, but there it is.  In this, we will see Mackenzie 'Mac' Toliver hunt down someone who's been pushing people off buildings.  In keeping with the theme of agents facing their fears to do their jobs, Mac is afraid of heights.  Also in this, Frank Carruso of Dying Embers takes his place as the hero of the piece.  Yay, Frank.  We'll also hear from Director Graham, of course, and Lynn. 

In case you missed it, Fertile Ground (SCIU #2) is available for purchase now.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Personal Flaw that's a Writing Strength

Even as a little kid, I was a worrier.

It's something I've never outgrown.

I immediately imagine the WORST possible thing that could happen in any given situation.

Like if the phone rings after a certain hour (or before a certain hour)  a normal person might think, "Hmmmph. I wonder who's calling" or "Gosh, I hope everything's okay."  or even, "Uh oh, that can't be good."

No, I immediately think, "Oh shit, something horrible's happened. Someone's dead or dying. I've got to go to them. I've got to find my keys. I'm not sure there's enough gas in my car. What if I get lost?"

And that's all BEFORE I answer the stupid phone.

(By the way -- usually it's a drunken idiot who's called the wrong number, which means my worrying and subsequent panic was for nothing.)

Trust me, I've tried to break myself of my automatic Doom & Gloom tendencies, but most of the time I fail.

And yet, this very trait serves me well with my writing. People always ask, "How do you come up with the crazy stuff that happens to Maggie?" 

I just let my worries run rampant.

So if Maggie enters an empty building, I think:

--And the electricity is off

-- A rat runs over her foot in the darkness

-- No wait, a rat taunts her from the darkness

-- But the rat isn't her biggest problem. The real problem is the mad scientist who has a generator-run lab in the basement who is doing some weird DNA cloning thing to try to pass on a chameleon's ability to change it's appearance...something a rogue nation would really like to get its hands on and weaponize, so the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

-- But wait, the mad scientist is about to experiment on Maggie's beloved dog

-- And what if the only way to save the dog is to inject herself with the serum.

Poor Maggie.

Tell me Killer Friends: What flaws do you see in people or characters that are also strengths?

Make sure to stop by next week when I've got an exciting announcement to make!! (No worries about that, lol)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Happy Holiday Monday!

It's holiday Monday! Victoria Monday in this neck of the woods, in which we honour Queen Victoria's birthday. Or use it as an excuse to look at pictures of her descendants.

Otherwise the long weekend is generally used to get things ready for summer. People are opening cottages and cabins. They're planting gardens, readying flowerbeds, buying flowers and any number of outdoorsy things if the weather cooperates.

At this very moment my husband is out buying bags of mulch or the recently weeded flowerbeds. Then it's off to buy flowers, followed by a visit to the hospital to see my dad who's recovering after having his knee replaced. More gardening but the rewards are showing and it's looking good around here.

But I do believe there will be a massage in my future this coming week. Last night when I climbed into bed I had an epipany on how to weave a further thread of conflict into my work-in-progress. But there was no getting out of bed once I'd gotten into it. All I could do was hope my memory wouldn't fail me come morning. Physical labour must improve memory because I did manage to remember and it's the perfect solution to the question my subconscious must have been asking.

I guess I should exercise more!

Workout Routines Only Book Lovers Will Appreciate

Happy holiday Monday! What's on your agenda for today?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Where Do You Find Books?

One of the eternal questions for a self-published novelist is where to put advertising resources (i.e. dollars and time) to get the biggest bang for your buck.

So, I'm putting it out there to the Killer Friends.  Where do you find books? 

Do you have a particular newsletter you go to?  Do you find books on Facebook or Twitter?  In the ads?  Or is it all word of mouth?

Personally, I subscribe to a long list of newsletters and when I'm looking for something new to spend my limited book budget on, I go through those looking for something that might grab me.  Here are a few that show up in my inbox daily...

Fussy Librarian
Authors' Billboard
Omnimystery News
Read Cheaply
Bargain Booksy / Free Booksy
Robin Reads

I've also advertised on all of those at some point, with varying results.  (Speaking of which, Fertile Ground is in today's Authors' Billboard New Releases section.)  It's not a comprehensive list by any stretch...

So, tell me, Killer Friends, where do you find books? 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Deadline day

Today's my deadline to send Hitwoman 15 (which still doesn't have a title) to my editor.

So basically I'm cursing at myself, drooling on my computer, and typing like a madwoman.

Since I can't come up with anything to blog about, I thought I'd share an unedited page from the manuscript.

Hope you enjoy it!

“Is there someone else here?” Angel asked, a note of tension creeping into his voice as he realized the shower was running.

“No,” I replied.

“No?” The dark haired man wearing a Navy t-shirt that strained to contain his bulging biceps crossed his arms over his chest.

“I was giving the little guy a sauna treatment, figured some steam would be good for his skin.”

Angel shook his head, making it clear he didn’t believe me.

Rushing over to the bathroom, I threw open the door, turned off the running water, and carried out the terrarium.
Angel tried to look around me to see if there was anyone else there. He didn’t seem satisfied that the tiny room was now unoccupied.

“Haven’t you ever heard of the Geneva Conventions,” God spluttered.

“Confections Godiva?” DeeDee asked.

“Geneva Conventions, you grammatically-challenged cretin. They exist to protect prisoners of war.”

“Bless your heart, you’re not a POW,” Piss reminded him from beneath the couch.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Thriller, Filler, Spiller Approach To Writing

I have to confess that this time of year is the most challenging for me writing wise. I'd much rather be outside. Or thinking about plants and digging in flowerbeds. Not to suggest I have a green thumb. I do not. But I love flowers. And sunshine. And fresh air. But I tend to plant the same annual flowers every year. The colourful kind. Also the extremely hardy kind. For instance, you have to try really hard to kill a petunia. I don't know the name of the flowers in the photo but they're hearty little plants. Which means drought resistant in my neck of the woods.

I also love flower pots. But I'm trying to think outside the box by mixing it up a little this year and using other than the usual petunia.

By using the thriller, filler and spiller concept. Makes sense right? Which could also apply to my writing style and how the creative process works in my brain.

Thriller: Plot pivots in the story. Those all important moments of madness and confusion. Decisions are made. Sometimes good. Sometimes bad. Either way the story shifts in that direction.

Filler: Those bits of carefully chosen background information. A sentence here. A paragraph there. Important details revealed in conversation. Carefully planted clues to what has happened in the past, how it might predict the future. And might explain why the present is in a state of chaos.

Spiller: Those bursts of surprise whose trails lead places you might not expect. Tangling and weaving more intrigue into the unsuspecting characters lives. It's the falling in love despite the past and the what might happen in the future.

Do you have a green thumb? Inspired by nature? 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Snippet for SCIU #2 - Fertile Ground

Hey All!  I'm going to be away from the computer most of the morning, so I thought I'd leave you with a bit of my upcoming suspense - Fertile Ground (SCIU #2)...


The woman strolled past Adam toward the produce aisle, the essence of her fertility wafting through the air like a perfume. He waited until she stopped to squeeze the cantaloupes before he followed. The fruit she fondled couldn’t be nearly as ripe as she was, but by all appearances, the melons were more attractive.
Today she wore her hair pulled back in a tight, unflattering ponytail, and her baggy clothing hid her as well as any camouflage. But he saw the female for what she was. A perfect vessel he’d spent weeks carefully choosing. Whether in this butt-ugly guise or when he’d first seen the girl with a simple dress flowing around those shapely bare legs, the essence of her femininity called to him. He wouldn’t need to actually look at her. Not for long, anyway. Finding these women attractive had never been a requirement. He only needed to get inside and plant his seed. Then he could be done with her. For now.
Nine months down the road, she’d bear a child in his image. They all did. And that’s all that mattered.
Seven weeks ago this girl had simply been another prey animal passing through his hunting grounds. She’d claimed his notice then, but he’d already had a target in mind. Since then, he had insured the other girl would be draped over the porcelain, proving that her womb bore his fruit. Time to move on to this next vessel.
When the brunette squeezed a tomato to test its ripeness, he smiled. Even as dedicated to his mission as Adam was, he could spare a moment to appreciate the irony. Most likely the girl didn’t possess the self-awareness to know how ripe her own body had become.
Fertile ground. Like the others. And exactly like the others, she couldn’t be bothered to keep track of her cycles. Women never watched for the signs. They never bothered to understand God’s rhythm or His plan for the female of the human bond.
Only Adam understood the Lord’s intentions.
“Be fruitful and multiply,” he said on a whisper of breath as the girl painstakingly chose a half dozen apples, placed them carefully into a bag, and gently set it in her cart. Those meticulous hands would someday hold his son.
A soft smile crept over his lips as he imagined his boy’s sturdy legs taking their first steps. The toddler’s smile of too-few teeth would express the initial joy of becoming a man and leaving the life of an animal behind.
For the first few years, children were little more than the monkeys some claimed mankind descended from. Adam knew better. The beginning of a man’s life amounted to a test. He could choose to crawl like an animal or not. Walking upright signified the passage from base creature into the greater ideals of God’s plan.
Adam’s sons would know their true place in the world. The women could raise them through those monkey years. Time enough to claim them once they joined the human race. Once they became men.
“Excuse me.” The shy voice was so close he jumped. “Oh! I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
He steeled himself against the annoyance welling up. Pasting on a deprecating smile, he tilted his head. “Not a problem. I was trying to decide if I want salad for dinner tonight.”
“It’s just that… Do I know you from somewhere?”
This wasn’t the first member of his herd to recognize him. Sometimes, he let them stumble across him on purpose. It made the hunt so much more exciting. Gazing at her carefully, he pretended to try and place her face. “Were you at the protest on campus a couple months ago?”
Her lush mouth split into a wide smile filled with the perfect teeth he hoped were natural. “Right. Over at Eastern. I figured that was you. Funny running into you here.”
“I was thinking that exact thing myself.” Enough people populated the metro-Detroit area they never would’ve crossed paths accidentally, but letting her think his appearance was a coincidence or fate played into his plans.
“Do you live near here, too?” Her green eyes narrowed under sculpted eyebrows. “Weird that I haven’t seen you before.”
“I travel around the area for work. I happened to be driving by on my way east, saw this place, and got the idea to grab something for dinner.” The words dropped smoothly from his mouth. He’d spoken the same lies too many times before for them to come out as anything but natural. Of course, it helped that they weren’t total falsehoods. He did travel for work and he was hungry.
“I live a couple blocks from here,” she said, nodding in the general direction of her apartment. He pasted a surprised look on his face, as if he hadn’t spent the previous night in her backyard watching her.
“Small world.” He grabbed a tomato and a bag of lettuce. “Well. Gotta get back on the road. It was nice running into you.”
“Sure. Next time you’re in the area, look me up.” Her words sounded friendly enough, but he knew she didn’t want to see him again. None of them wanted to.
But they all did.

I hope you enjoyed it.  I expect this to be available for purchase on Monday, May 16th... Yep, this coming Monday.  And it won't be set for pre-order this time, so you'll get it when you one-click it.  Yay!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

I have no shame....I believe in bribery

Here's the thing -- I live alone. I work alone.

No one asks "How was your day?" at the end of the day.

I've got no boss peering over my shoulder.

These aren't bad things, unless of course, my motivation is in the toilet.

Then it's all too easy not to do the work.

Which is why I bribe myself.


I even have an ongoing list of bribes. Stuff I can "earn" by completing certain tasks.

My bribes are always pretty frivolous. Last month's bribe was a set of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE magnets.

Here are some of the things that are currently on my list:

-- This sign (I love motivational signs)

Find it on Etsy

-- This awesome luggage tag

Which can be found on Cafe Press

-- These throw pillows

-- And these leggings which I'm absolutely gaga over...probably because I'm five at heart

-- I'm also a fan of David Irvine who inserts characters into thrift store paintings

I love Wild Thing! found here:

Tell me Killer Friends: Do you bribe yourself? If you do, what are some of your favorite bribes?