Monday, November 29, 2010

Out There

When I first started “developing an on-line presence,” I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. The blogging, the Facebooking, the Twittering. Guest blogging. Being interviewed*. Commenting on other blogs. The YouTube of me pole dancing. I’m a private, introverted person, and I wasn’t sure all that interacting would suit me very well.

I guess I was wrong.

As I’ve become more comfortable putting myself “out there,” I’ve found that it’s not so bad. Even enjoyable at times. The best thing about it? The chance to meet so many great people. Other writers, readers, bloggers, stalkers, whatever. There’s quite a supportive community on the Interwebs. For that, I’m grateful

Now, with the release of KILLER ROUTINE about four months away, I’ve begun to think about maybe beginning to start planning for a blog tour.

Any suggestions?


*And speaking of interviews, Jean Henry Mead has an interview, with me, on her Mysterious Writers blog. Stop by and see what I have to say about writing, and improving one’s writing. Sorry, no YouTube video.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Do I Hear Groaning?

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite Hollandaise. It always has bean. In my eyes, it’s hard to beet—family, food, football, and a four-day leekend (which gives me a chance to ketchup* on all the stuffing I’ve been putting off).

Lettuce count our dressings.




(While some of you might relish this post, others might find it corny, or way too dilly. Peas, just don’t be a turkey and wine about it in the comments. It’s how I roll. After all, I yam what I yam.)


*I had a friend who used to put ketchup on his turkey. What a goose!


Monday, November 22, 2010

He Talks!

I’ve blogged about how much I love libraries before here.

That’s why I was thrilled when I received an invitation to be part of Fairfax County Library’s BookCast series of author podcast interviews.

If you’ve got 18 minutes and 43 seconds, click through to hear the interview.

Click Button

If you’d rather listen to the interview when you’re “on the go,” you can download the podcast with iTunes here (see November 18, 2010 BookCast interview). It’s free.

Thanks to Director Sam Clay, interviewer extraordinaire, and Pat Bangs for their invitation and their hospitality. They made this author a happy camper—I had a great time!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Hark, My ARC!

My friend Rachel Brady recently blogged about celebrating certain publishing milestones and posted a picture of her new book DEAD LIFT, and my friend Jude Hardin recently posted a picture of the ARC for his upcoming book POCKET-47.

So I thought I’d join the party. Here’s a picture of my KILLER ROUTINE ARC:



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ooo, Shiny

The holidays are fast approaching and I’m considering pulling the trigger and asking for an ereader.

Kindle? Nook? Nook color? iPad?

So many choices!

Tell me, O Great Blog Readers, which ereaders do you like? Why? What features do you deem essential?


Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday morning, 6:00 a.m.

So what is it with transitions, anyway? What’s the best way to move from one scene to another?

Scene transitions are always a stumbling block for me. I’m usually tempted to start a scene with something simple and direct.

“Three days later, Jim woke up. It was Tuesday morning. In Los Angeles.”

But that gets old (real old), scene after scene (and it sounds like I’m channeling Jack Webb).

On the other end of the spectrum is the scene that begins with no transition, one that jumps right into the action. These are tempting, too, except I’m always afraid I’ll leave my reader confused as to where and when the action is taking place.

In reality, I guess I mix it up. Sometimes I’ll ground the scene, other times I’ll just jump in and try to make the time/place obvious through context. Since most of my critique members and beta readers don’t even comment on my transitions, I suppose I’m handling them adequately, even if I think some of them are kind of clunky.

Writers, how do you prefer to handle scene transitions?

Readers, are there certain types of transitions that bother you?


Friday, November 12, 2010

Recharged and Ready

Astute readers of the blog may have noticed that I didn’t blog this past Monday (you can go back and check, if you’d like—I’ll wait). I was on a long-weekend vacation with my wife.

Very relaxing.

A few highlights:

On Saturday (or as I liked to call it Crabapaloozaday), I had crab for lunch and crab for dinner. I would have had crab sundaes for dessert, but for some inexplicable reason, the Inn didn’t serve them. Had to make do with s’mores instead.

I met a local celebrity (TV/radio sports announcer), just hanging out at the Inn. I’ve been a fan of his for about forty years, and he was as nice and personable as you would think from seeing him on TV. Met some other nice people, too.

I also finished a book. Yes, an entire book.

What does my vacation have to do with writing? Well, sometimes it’s necessary, at least for me, to step away from the keyboard (I didn’t even check email while I was gone!) and recharge the batteries. Gain some perspective. Get a different view of the world. See what’s really going on outside of my cave.

Which I did.

I also met a few local characters who just might make it into future novels.

All in all, a very successful weekend!

How do you recharge your writing batteries?


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Then What?

A peek inside my planning brain (if you can stomach it):

In a few weeks, I should be done with the (latest) revision of the WIP I’m working on (the sequel to KILLER ROUTINE). Then I need to proof the galleys for KILLER ROUTINE. Then I have a short story I’ve written, but need to submit. I also have some ideas for the next book in the Last Laff series I should get on paper. Then… Then…

Then what?

I have an idea for a stand-alone thriller. Interesting premise, strong characters, good plot (what I’ve got so far, in my head—I haven’t actually written anything down yet). But before I start outlining it, I need to do a few things. I need to see if it’s “been done” before. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to research that, but I think I’ll start with der Google and see where that takes me. Then I need to run it by my agent to see if she thinks it’s a good use of my writing time and energy. While the story intrigues me, I’m not sure I want to tackle the book if it’s not marketable. Then I need to pull out my calendar (yes, the “paper” 2011 planner I bought at the dollar store) to see if/when I can shoehorn it in, amidst the promotional activities for the release of KILLER ROUTINE in April.

And of course, like everyone else, I’ve got a billion other things to do.

How do you plan your long-term writing projects?


Friday, November 5, 2010

Re-Direct Friday

In case you missed it, yesterday I blogged about what I learned, promotion-wise, with my first book.

Check it out on InkSpot.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This, That, and the Other

Some random thoughts:

Who is swayed by robocalls imploring you to vote for their candidate? Obviously, someone, somewhere, thinks this is an effective way to campaign. But seriously, who thinks, “Well, based on the issues, I was planning on voting for Kramden for Governor, but, you know, that robocall completely rocked my world. Go Norton!”? I want names, people!

Maybe I’m being a polly-alan, but I am very encouraged by the fact that people with e-readers are reading more than before. More is good, when it comes to reading.

I’d be much more inclined to enjoy autumn if I didn’t know winter was to follow.

I voted with my 18-year-old son yesterday. Pretty cool!

Just got a GPS unit. On the first trip, about a mile and a half to the grocery store, it would have gotten us lost. Luckily, we switched to the back-up system: our common sense. (I was reminded of the episode of The Office where Michael drives into the lake because the GPS told him to.)

Why is it that I think of the good lines AFTER I’ve completed a draft?

StallingForTime I went to an MWA Chapter dinner meeting last week and heard Gary Noesner speak. He’s a former FBI hostage negotiator (and chief negotiator for ten years), and he was terrific. His book: STALLING FOR TIME.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Oh no! “It’s Nice.”

I’d be completely lost without my critique group. They shred analyze my manuscripts, tell me what’s ridiculous working, and provide me with very pointed point-on suggestions. After they’re done with me, I know my work will be a lot stronger.

But I don’t stop there. After I complete another revision based on my critique group’s comments, I also like to get feedback from a second group of people, my beta readers. (Some call them lay readers, others call them first readers. Just don’t call them late for dinner!) While this group changes a little from manuscript to manuscript, it’s composed of family members (hi mom!) and friends. (They don’t mind doing it—at least that’s what they tell me.)

The two groups serve different functions. My critique group gives me very detailed comments, from line edits all the way through thematic interpretations. My beta readers usually just tell me if they like it and why.

Both types of feedback are important to me.

My beta readers are first and foremost exactly that: readers. You know, the people I’m writing the book for. If they’re happy—if the book is engaging, well-written, suspenseful, entertaining—then I know I’ve got a winner. If they offer up the dreaded, “It’s nice,” then I know I’ve got some more work ahead of me.

Writers, what about you? Do you use the feedback of beta readers, in addition to critique groups?