Friday, November 30, 2012

Cultural Confusion

Let me say first of all that I am not a member of the Twitter-verse. I don't get it. Little zippy statements flung out into the ozone. Or fights or spam or head doesn't fit into 140 character snippets.

And another confession - I did watch American Idol for the Steven Tyler years. He's a nut and I found it interesting.

So on to the cultural confusion - my take on the Tyler-Minaj bruhaha. He said something like: "If Bob Dylan were on American Idol today, Minaj would say - put him in the cornfield."

To my generation, or any fan of the original black and white Twilight Zone, he is referencing the episode with Billy Mummy. It was about a child with awesome mental powers. Whenever he did something horrible, like turn someone into a doll, his mother would turn away and whimper "Put it in the cornfield, Timmy!"

It's been a catchphrase in my house for years. Anything you didn't want to see (like great-aunt Susie's dentures) - put it in the cornfield!

That old TV reference was obviously not in Miss Minaj's wheelhouse. She heard "cornfield" and must have thought plantation slave labor picking the corn... Which is really unfortunate. But then again, what did she think he meant? That she would force Dylan to pick corn? I can't sort that one out.

I have been chatting on a forum about colloquialisms that just don't translate. We were discussing the differences between British, Australian and American English. And here is a pop culture reference that didn't fly. There are just so many ways to be misunderstood!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Donate to a good cause!

Worldbuilders is an organization started by Patrick Rothfuss that helps feed people. They work in conjunction with Heifer International, a really excellent organization.

Click on the link to see the cool things they are auctioning off.

Three copies of White Lies are winging their way to the auction right now.

It's a wonderful way to help others in need. This is the time of year when people want to give gifts. Go over to their website and give to people who truly need it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

First Reading!

I will be doing a reading at the West Asheville Library with Michael Havelin, author of the Ben Bones mysteries on December 8th from 2 - 4pm.

As soon as I figure out how to put the poster on my blog it'll be here!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Looking at the business side

I've worked in business for a long time and in lots of different places. Every new place I moved to, I did temp work. So I've seen all sorts of businesses. And my family has always been business oriented, bookkeepers, office managers, CPAs.

When I was working free lance as a scenic artist and submitting my artwork to competitions and galleries, I was also learning the business side of the arts. It was hard. It wasn't something that I wanted to spend my time on. Luckily, I had lots of resources to fall back on. Some things I may have simply absorbed from general conversation in the family - business plans and systems and budgets.

Now that I'm am working on the writing, I still have to look at it as a business. It sometimes is very scary that the business is me! I produce the work and publish it and market it. I'm selling things that were made up in my head. Amazing. And now I am going to be doing some local readings.

In all my other jobs I was never required to tap dance in public. I have to get up in front of a crowd and speak. Whooo! This is going to be another new experience.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A bad movie as a lesson in storytelling

Last night I watched a bad movie. It really doesn't matter which one. It broke a lot of storytelling conventions and as a result ended up as a mishmash of characters and events without a satisfying outcome.

The first problem was that the main character wasn't sympathetic enough. He was a self centered jerk who enjoyed partying a little too much. There were some hints that he wanted to open his own small business, but the way he approached it just showed ignorance and arrogance. Nothing through the movie showed me that he was actually working toward that goal, just talking about it. By the end of the movie I had no idea what he wanted.

The next problem was whose story was it? The main character takes on a sidekick. Who turns out even more selfish and more into partying. Um, am I supposed to care as that kid gets involved in worse and worse situations? Was MC supposed to care? The story sort of wanders back and forth between the 2 of them. Neither one has a significant goal. Neither one achieves anything.

Some of the scenes lasted way too long and told me nothing.

The romantic connection was lame. The woman held out, stuck to her principals. She told him flat out that she didn't want anything to do with his lifestyle. And at the end of the movie, for no apparent reason, gave in. I found that so annoying, on top of all the other disconnects that it made me really hate the whole thing.

Storytelling rules aren't there arbitrarily. They are how a story effects us as people. It's interesting to see what happens when they are ignored.

Friday, November 16, 2012

More artwork and other things

I am posting more artwork today.

This week I took the first steps toward turning White Lies into an audiobook. It looks like it should be an easy process. Hopefully, I will be surprised and it really will be easy!

Thr Self Published Book Contest is still running. You can vote until December 3rd. Here's a link if you haven't voted yet. Underground Book Reviews

I'm working on a story for another flash contest. And I dove back into the next mystery. Things are finally moving along!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

First Person POV

I used to hate first person novels. If I opened a book and saw that damning "I" in there, it went right back on the shelf. Perhaps it was too intimate. Or maybe it narrowed the world too much. From the other side, I can't say what my prejudice was based on, because now I am a convert. As long as it is well written, POV doesn't matter.

I think Robin Hobb's Farseer Series may have been the turning point. I love the character narrating the story. Each chapter begins with a page from a diary written by a person who seems to be at the end of his life. Over the course of the novel it becomes evident that it is the diary of the young protagonist. He is trying to write a history of the events that are unfolding in the story. His look backward colors the naivete and impetuousness of his actions. It also adds information that he might not be privy to at the time. That is a nice mechanism to get information to the reader without info-dumping.

And if I think back, Zelazny's Amber series is first person. That was a series I burned through. There was a break several books in, when the narrator changed and I was horribly disappointed. I wanted to stay with the original person. I think I lost interest when I lost him. I was too caught up in his personal wants and needs to move on to someone new.

The character narrating has to engage the reader. He/she must be so interesting that we want to stay and listen to his/her story. The good ones that I can think of all have secrets that are slowly discovered. There are complications and conflicts. They must strive to achieve some worthy goal all the time struggling with their own inadequacy. The external world and the internal conflict must be interesting enough to keep the reader caring.

Although a lot of new writers tend to use first person, I think it is harder to pull off.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Last Harvest of Summer 2012

We finally had a hard frost. I gathered up the last of the tender veggies and herbs. In the basket I have frying peppers, bell peppers, basil, parsley, Swiss chard and maybe dill. I also picked a lot of tomatillos, which are hidden underneath.

The parsley and Swiss chard will tough it out for awhile. It'll take much lower temps to do them in. But they won't grow much either.

The frying pepper was almost 5' tall and very prolific. I ended up giving a lot away. The bell pepper only put out a few here and there. I picked 4 or 5 small ones that had just formed.

The tomatillo was a special tiny one. The fruit was about marble size and really sweet. It had a wonderful flavor raw in salads.

I still have some carrots, parsley root, beets, radishes and mustard greens coming along. They will coast along in the cooler temps just fine. My yard doesn't get enough full sun in the winter to merit a full winter garden, but I still try a bit here and there.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Self Published Book Contest

Please vote for my book!

Click on the link below. White Lies is the last book on the list.

Underground Book Reviews


Friday, November 9, 2012

So much to do - so many to do lists

I am a list maker.

When I get busy, I like to make a list and prioritize things. It helps to organize my work flow. This week I felt like I was doing a lot of things, but badly. I don't like feeling rushed. That is why I try to organize my time. Somehow that just wasn't working for me this week.

I have writing to do, bills to pay, people to contact, follow ups... The garden is a mess. We finally had a killing frost and I can pull out all the dead annuals. I missed some blog days.

So I made a list, and then another one. And a list to make a list about some other things.


I may need to sort out the whole month, just to get list making off my list.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Book Nurse

I am starting an editing service. I have heard of book doctors. That name, to me, has the connotation that something is seriously wrong, like needing surgery or prescription medicine. Something only a doctor can do to make it right. I am leery of anyone who wants to take charge of my writing.

Nurse on the other hand, is something that takes some training, but is also a mindset. I could not be a medical nurse. It's not something that comes easily or naturally to me. But editing does. When I read anything, books, articles, comments in forums, I find myself going over the words - is it clean, clear to the reader? Is the intent coming through properly? Does it make sense? Does it flow?

So I am offering my services for hire. I will be slowly building a page here on the blog until I sort out a website.

The first 10 clients will get an introductory rate of $30/hr for a full read with analysis on plot, characters, pacing and reader experience. I'll also let you place a limit on how many hours you want to pay for and I will fit in whatever comments I can on however much I've managed to read in that time.

Email me for a quote or for more information at