Dogs at Work

Mr. Adorables looks so cute curled up on the sofa some mornings, I just can't stand to leave him there. And, well, this morning he and Benton were being kind of snippy with each other. Plus there was the cocker spaniel incident while we were out walking that got everyone in a tizzy.

So I brought Stanley to the studio. I know, I know, what a moron. As if there aren't enough out of control things happening here. And then… he got out.

I opened my door for just a minute and Stanley leapt down off the chair where he had been snoozing (pretending to sleep just to catch me off guard). Down the hallway as fast as he could go, so fast his hind legs were outpacing his front legs, and around the corner. As I tore down the hallway after him, I could hear people laughing and shouting 'look at him go'.

Oh god he's headed right for the office of 'X' who will not be pleased…

Tongue hanging out of his crazy laughing mouth, he disappeared amongst the cubicles OF COURSE in the production area where the people with less humor sit.

And then he was gone.

So I'm running along as quietly as I can in high heeled boots calling in a whisper, 'Stanley! Stanley! Come back here you ratfaced little demon…' Hoping to God 'X' or somebody like 'X' doesn't come round the corner and see me acting like an idiot.

Way to go from 'professional' to 'nutty chick' really fast, Ann.

And I turn around and Stanley is just sitting there with his head cocked sideways and this big grin on his face like he's laughing at me. So now he's tied to a chair in here.

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‘Goldilocks and His Three Bears’ to be re-issued

Loose id will re-issue my m/m/m/m domestic discipline tour de farce 'Goldilocks and His Three Bears' on July 5! It's had a little editing and my few years of experience applied to it this time round. Hopefully good news for those of you who've written wondering where you can purchase a copy.

'A Man, a Jersey and a Tight End' will follow and a sequel that takes a little more serious turn and features two minor characters from the first two books.

I'm struggling with blurbage writing this weekend. Haven't seen the cover yet, but Loose id excels at covers as you all know.

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Son of a Gun reviewed at ‘Outlaw Reviews’

Happy Tuesday!  Son of a Gun was reviewed at Outlaw Reviews and received nine out of ten stars.  A lot of good insight as well.

There is a sequel, I swear.  It's sitting on my laptop with a beginning middle and end, mocking me with it's saucy unfinished self.

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Insomnia

We see all the statistics about crime going up during a full moon.  And hear about unbalanced people becoming more unbalanced and animals getting a little wacky.  So I guess I should be grateful that my luna only results in ghastly insomnia.

I'm not even a little sleepy.  The dogs are asleep.  All the lights in the neighborhood, except of course the street lights and those on the freeway nearby (this IS Los Angeles) are dark.  Even the weirdo who lives in the building behind mine.  Who stands out in the driveway sometimes at 2 a.m yelling things like, "where are my pants?"  and "well I can't find my keys.  They're in my pants.  hee hee".  Even he's asleep.  Or passed out in a gutter.

But I'm wide awake.  Like a cartoon of awake.  Eyes wide open, bloodshot, craaaazy looking.

A long time ago my girlfriend said I must be a werewolf. 

grrr.

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How to read a review

 

I love a good review. What writer doesn't? Sometimes I feel like a chimp scribbling in a cave, here, with very little feedback from anyone but my editor and my best friend (who still thinks its amazing that I've been published at all, so the bar is a little low). The positive feedback is heaven. AND a well-written review can give you some clues as to what you are doing right. Which is super nice.

But I do get icky reviews.

Sad face.

Of course I do. I'm no William Faulkner.  Yet.  I'm not going to point out the not so great reviews because a: I'm not telling you this so you can go kick the crud out of that mean reviewer. and b: I'm kind of hoping that minimal attention will make the review disappear, if not from the internet, at least from my memory.

But what to do with it? I mean, it's a well thought out review. Written by an intelligent person who knows the biz.

Let me tell you about my very first bad review:

I was in fifth grade and had just written what I felt was an interesting and exciting story about a dog who defended a child from some bad person. I felt that it was the most brilliant and facinating thing I had ever penned. It was written as an assignment and when the teacher spoke to the class, having graded our stories and before handing them back, she offered up two which she hoped we would use as examples. One being an example of a good story, the other an example of a horrid one.

Guess whose was the horrid story?

Sad face. With tear.

After the mortification, instead of hating the teacher, whom I actually adored. Instead of complaining to my mother or my best friend. I studied the notes on the paper. It was kind of hard to ignore the big fat red 'D' at the top, but I think I have managed after a couple of decades to avoid the errors that my fifth grade teacher pointed out. Now I've got a whole nest of new nasty habits and problems, of course, but I'm slowly scaling the mountain and I hope I get a little better every time.

So, what to do with a bad review?  Don't respond.  Don't think of reasons to hate the reviewer.  Don't sick your internet friends on him/her.

Learn from it. And next time, write better.

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Amber Green on ‘How to write a blurb’

  My friend and fellow author, Amber Green has offered up her advice on how to write a blurb for me to post here. 

WRITING A BLURB IN FIVE STEPS

For some markets, you might be allowed only 120 words to engage the potential reader, while the most generous spaces rarely allow more than 200 words. How do you choose, allocate, and arrange these precious few words?

Start with either the SETTING or the PRIMARY PROTAGONIST.

PRIMARY PROTAGONIST

The protagonist is the person who makes the story go; he isn’t necessarily the narrator or point-of-view (POV) character. Watson is not the protagonist of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Normally, you should lay out the protagonist’s full name along with two or three words of description. Each word of the description should have the resonance and relevance of a blog’s keyword, of a library’s subject catalog, of an Amazon tag. Physical descriptions might come to mind, but should be used only to the extent the physical description hints at the story’s conflict or stakes. If you had only six words to describe Spock, would you waste one on his hair? Medusa, on the other hand, cannot be clearly imagined without mention of her hair. If you have a reason not to categorize the protagonist so completely, allocate part of his space to identifying (and characterizing) a second character in terms of his or her relationship to the protagonist. If you have a romance in which two protagonists play equal roles, the primary protagonist for the purpose of the blurb is the character who has the most to lose in the first half of the book.

SETTING

These lines orient the reader to the reality of the story–to be specific, the reality of the first half of the book. If the reality shifts halfway through that first half, such would happen if the primary protagonist were shipped off to school or enlisted in the military, focus on the second of those realities. Ten to twenty words is necessary and sufficient; at least two of them should be keywords. You can then spend another ten to fifteen words to show how the primary protagonist fits into that reality. Think in terms of sentence fragments instead of sentences, so that you can rearrange them more easily. Choose details carefully to create a mood–which must echo the mood of the story itself–and remember to include keywords. You might combine these bits of sentences with those used for the primary protagonist, but for your first draft, keep the setting in a separate paragraph until you’re satisfied with it.

SECOND CHARACTER

After having introduced the primary protagonist and the setting, you can describe a second major character. If the second character has POV scenes, and if you have room, introduce him much like the first. If not, give him much less attention. Either way, focus exclusively on details that reflect on his relationship to the primary protagonist or to the primary conflict of the story. A second character is not an essential part of every blurb.

COUNTERFORCE AND STAKES

What is the primary protagonist up against? What happens if he fails? If your story has an actual villain as the antagonist, she deserves almost (but not quite) the same level of introduction as the protagonist. If the protagonist got four key words, the villain gets three. An antagonistic force, though, should only be described to the extent you can do so in vivid, concrete terms. One trick here is to focus on the counterforce that the characters actively face in the first half of the book. Do no more than allude to what they must contend with after reaching what they thought would be their goal, after their reality and goals shift in the middle of the book. Whether to focus on the primary protagonist or on the characters as a pair (or group) in this section is a delicate choice; whichever you choose, make the same choice for the counterforce and for the stakes. Sometimes you can leave the stakes implicit, but more often the consequences of failure make your strongest hook. Ending your blurb with a yes-or-no question risks insulting and alienating the potential reader. If the answer is obvious, strike the question.

EDIT

Highlight your keywords. No more than twelve words should separate any keyword from the next. If you count more, you need to reword, rearrange, or trim out the excess wordage. Echoing a keyword more than once is good, but if you repeat a keyword, make sure the second appearance of the word adds or clarifies a connotation not apparent in the first usage. Do the mood, tone, and vocabulary reflect the essence of the story? If not, reword. Now, count your words. If you’re over your limit but love the blurb as it is, save a copy for use elsewhere (like a loop chat) and cut ruthlessly until you reach your limit. If you’re under your word limit but within 20% of it, such as when you have 164 words and a 200-word limit, you're fine–don’t puff the blurb just to come closer to the size limit.

Sleep on it. Come back to your blurb on a different day, if at all possible. Shorten the sentences where you can. A sentence with multiple commas probably needs trimming or breaking up. Read the blurb out loud. Is the focus where you want it? Does the tone strongly echo your story’s tone? Does the last line entice the potential reader to head for the checkout? Trim and reword and rearrange until the answers are all yes. Then call it good.

By the way, Amber just released the next book in the Turner and Turner series "Turncoat" (see gorgeous cover)

And Amber's blurb follows!

KT is back, in Turner & Turner 2: Turncoat.

Nine months ago, Ken Turner and his lover, FBI agent Turner "Turn" Scott, handed in enough evidence to bring federal charges against KT's stepfather, but Father escaped to Mexico. When Mexicans kidnap Turn, KT desperately smuggles himself across the country to seek help from a man out of Turn's past. A man whose photo Turn still cherishes. A man who, KT finds, has crossed the border and now contends with KT's stepfather and other drug lords for leadership of their cartel.

To survive, the drug lords must know which parts of their networks have been compromised. Turner Scott has that information. One of the drug lords has Turn. Another has KT. The third knows KT might be Turner Scott's only weakness.

But Turn himself doesn't know whether his hunger for justice is stronger than his taboo love for KT.

Continue reading

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What to do when your hockey team s*cks…

1) watch baseball

2) write – angry, bitter betrayed stories in which overpayed hockey players are found dead and the killers are never apprehended. 

3) eat chocolate

The Blackhawks lost their first game against Vancouver.  They looked horrible and didn't even score once.  There is no joy in Mudville.broken heart

 

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The Big Thrill

The Big Thrill asks a number of writers "What Can Thriller Writers Learn from the Movies" this week, and I'm one of the writers who weighed in. Although belatedly. I'm lame.

Check it out. Neil Plaksy and Charlie Cochrain among others are bringing up some very interesting points.

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Hello WordPress!

Wow I finally made it here!  I feel a little like Dr. Who's companion disembarking from the Tartus.

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ten stars for ‘Death by Misfortune’

I stumbled over a review of ‘Death by Misfortune’ at Outlaw Reviews today. It’s been there for a week, but I’m such a lame internets surfer I only became aware of it through a google alert.

It’s an amazing review written by a talented writer. The sort of review that writers print out and paste on the wall above their computers to warm them on those chilly days when no words will come…

Since today’s to-do list includes the following:
1) finish taxes, write ginormous check to federal government may they rot
2) clean dog pee from carpet
4) look at the current mystery WIP again and try to figure out what is wrong with a principal character and why he seems made of cardboard.

I really needed this little boost today.

so, yeah. squee.

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