Friday, May 29, 2009

Think-Ahead Marketing

OT: I'm a bit giddy. I read an action scene filled with car stuff and gun stuff to my husband (I know, I know . . . shouldn't do that, but I did), and he liked it. My toughest critic. Wahoo!

Okay . . . this morning I had a choice. Man the garage sale or take the car into the dealership to have the CD player checked. Garage or . . . garage. Right? Having been the sole proprietor at our home during previous neighborhood garage sales, I naturally elected to go to the other gray space. Sometimes I'm not a team player.

Man, did I make the right choice. I was as close to spa-pampered as a person can get from the moment I walked in. "Don't worry about pulling up your car, I'll run and get it for you, ma'am." He didn't even ask me what my car looked like, and—a little scary–never had to. "Did you want it washed today, ma'am?" Duh!

A waiting room decorated like a hotel lobby. A gorgeous rug, groupings of overstuffed reading chairs, decorator lamps and tables and chairs. I looked around for the fireplace, never mind that it's not winter. The parts desk had a sign over it that said "Concierge." An espresso machine, fresh fruit and pastries, cold water, juice and pop. A flat screen and wireless. What more could a writer want? I plugged in and hit the keyboard, hoping that the CD player would be fixable, but that it would take hours to get the job done. Unfortunately, the effective technicians diagnosed the problem within an hour.

I wondered if they would mind me showing up on a regular basis. I would park the car away from serious buyer traffic. Out of the way. Kind of like J.K. Rowling and her coffee shop. I wondered if they made her buy coffee while she wrote quietly in a corner. Our garage (even without the garage sale going on) can only hold so many cars. I would really try to minimize the espresso, and subsequent use of their oh-so-luxurious (think Nieman Marcus) Women's restroom. I really would.

And what if I prominently featured Kuni Lexus in my novel? In a nice way, of course. Where either the good guys or a victim hung out. Never the evil antagonist. Would that work?

Writing space aside, the idea of holding a book signing in such a wonderful, non-traditional location has a certain appeal. Brandilyn Collins has done it with amazing success for at least one of her novels. Of course, Brandilyn Collins is an amazingly successful author. (It's important to remember that quality comes first.)

The manuscript I'm working on primarily takes place in a fictional town. But both Aspen and Denver are right there. Hmmm . . . decisions, decisions.

Think about the book you're reading right now, or the one you're writing. Is there some amazing off-the-wall potential there for a book debut? Something that would knock the socks off predictability?

CR: Black Water Rising by Attica Locke. (Don't you just love that name?)

It's all better with friends.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Book Review: EXPOSURE by Brandilyn Collins

Kaycee Raye "writes what she knows" in a syndicated newspaper column about fear. But lately, her fears have become issues. Issues impacting both her friendships and her personal reputation in the small town. The paranoia her mother passed on to her is nothing compared with the escalating images confronting Kaycee now.

Add another fear—that maybe she’s going over the edge.

She puts her growing panic on hold when someone she cares for very much is in danger. But the threats against Kaycee, real or imagined, intensify. Could what’s happening to her be connected to the other event?

Brandilyn Collins brings a taut psychological suspense to readers in Exposure. She’s a master at weaving plausibility and incredulity into a fast-paced, action packed page turner complete with inspired twists.

While other authors rely on contrivances to facilitate a story, Collins adeptly employs skill and imagination to create surprise and “Aha!” moments. She plays fair with her readers and her timing is impeccable.

Exposure belongs on your nightstand. But it won’t be there long.

Highly recommended.

(Also available as a Kindle download!)

CR: Black Water Rising by Attica Locke

It's all better with friends.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


This is gonna be short because we're watching the Nuggets play the Lakers and I need to be with my husband to fully enjoy this thing.

That's one kind of timing.

But here's the another.

Listen up.

DON'T wait until [fill in the blank] to develop a web presence. DON'T.

You all have something to say. You're at your place in this process just as surely as I'm at mine.

So maybe you start with things that are grabbing your attention in the news. (American Idol, anyone?) Or maybe you just say something about everything you have to learn and what you learned this day. Know what I'm saying?


Let your family and your friends know that this writing thing is consuming you. Getting published is your goal (if it is), and you're taking it seriously. Maybe they will be the only ones that will pay attention to you for a while. Fine. Get them on board. Let them know where your heart is.

Start with something. Announce it. Announce it here. Twitter me. I'll re-tweet.

Just stop waiting. Get serious. Just do it. You can always upgrade later.

Are you listening?

Gotta get to the game. We're losing. Might be too late for my shouts to make a difference, but a girl's gotta try.

CR: Exposure by Brandilyn Collins. Odd thought . . . Brandilyn has such a presence of her own, it's sometimes hard for me to let go of her power and focus on the power of her words.

It's all better with friends.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Started three different topics today to talk about.

None of 'em grabbed me. How in the world were they gonna be relevant to you?


Monday, May 18, 2009

Book Review: DEAD ON by Robert W. Walker

Marcus Rydell left the Atlanta Police Department under a cloud of suspicion. During what should have been a routine process of serving papers, the situation became anything but, leaving three law enforcement professionals dead, and a passed out Detective Rydell under the bodies.

Iden Cantu, a man known for his military and hunting prowess, who had now added murder to his resume, was on the run. Steroid use had blurred his emotionally bankrupt soul, leaving in its place a maniacal desire to torture others.

Four years later, Katrina Holley has a thirst for revenge, and she’s not above using a burned out ex-cop turned PI to quench it.

Walker does a lot right in Dead On.

His descriptive ability is amazing. Walker creates character out of setting, painting the emotional hues in downtown Atlanta or the isolated countryside with just the right touch. He either enhances the scene with a matching setting, or sets it in sharp relief.

Through Walker’s skilled hand, fully formed human characters drop in the reader’s lap. He does especially well with Marcus Rydell, who readers will feel they know from the first page, and who, I think, Walker was most comfortable writing.

The plot and escalating tension are dead on in Dead On, concluding in a very satisfying manner.

The only major issue I have with this book is with certain aspects of the dialogue. I found some of it stilted or unnecessary, and some of it occurring in inappropriate circumstances. To be fair, the bestselling author, Tess Gerritsen, calls his dialogue “whip-smart.” I found it a little “too smart” a couple of times. Go figger.

The bottom line is that Dead On will provide you a great summer read, with characters and a plot to hold your interest.

Dead On will be available on July 17, 2009.

CR: Exposure by Brandilyn Collins.

It's all better with friends.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Suspense Novelist Bites Bullet

I have entered the Danger Zone. There are other people here, but I'm the only Me, and it's a bit frightening.

Making a monetary investment in one's career can be daunting. Inspiring. Murderous. Visionary. Intense.

I have joined Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Add that to American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime, and I'm well . . . plugged in. And a dues paying writer. To writer's groups. Three of them.

Tomorrow I'm attending a workshop sponsored by RMFW and given by Chris Roerden, author of Don't Murder Your Mystery. An investment of both time and money.

But the big one? The one that has brought suspense to my own doorstep?

I registered for the ACFW conference in September. I'll be taking a class from Donald Maass the day before at an Early Bird session. That kind of expense bestows commitment. My self-imposed finish line (which today feels much more like a deadline) of mid-July has taken on all kinds of ominous overtones.

I have been referred to two agents by other writers, but have promised myself not to pursue them until I had something reasonably marketable to offer. I also refrained from paying for yet another conference until I had the same. Now, I'm paying for a conference and planning on scheduling appointments with those agents.

What have I wrought?

Today is either gonna be a fantabulous day of writing for me, or it's just gonna suck. Anxiety is propelling me. I pray toward something productive and as close to what Jenny calls a Perfect First Draft as I can get.

All advice welcome. Company, too.


CR: Dead On by Robert W. Walker. I'm almost 1/2 through. Hope to finish it sometime this weekend.

It's all better with friends.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

War of Words

So, how many words should a writer write, if a writer could write words? (Sorry, slipped into my nursery rhyme mode for a moment.)

One prolific author is said to churn out 10,000 words a day. At roughly 100,000 words per book, it's no surprise that she has several available at any given time. She's written best-seller after best-seller. I used to love her books. Now they all seem kind of the same. Does she ever differ from her established formula? Probably, but not that I've noticed.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. She's found a large and loyal audience. One that she doesn't want to disappoint. And man, oh man, is she payin' the bills!

Another novelist has said that, when pressed with a deadline, he can sit down at the beginning of a writing session and before he's done for the day, produce 20,000 words. Now that's a lot of pressure!

It seems like most full-time writers fall somewhere in the 2,000-4,000 words a day category. That's some pretty serious work, as far as I'm concerned—and a place to which I aspire.

Right now, I'm stoked when I hit 1,000. My most recent high is 1,262. My average is about 600. Not nearly enough, but that's the truth of it.

So. Should I give up writing because I will probably never generate 10,000 words a day? How about the writer who struggles to find time to write 300? Should they quit? Not hardly.

What we have to do is find our rhythm. Find the place where we can get into a steady zone and accept that pace. Doesn't mean we can't work to get better. To produce more. But comparing ourselves to writers who crank out huge numbers of words (even words that sell) won't make our words any better.

I'm just sayin'.

The best writing has no lace on its sleeves. ~WALT WHITMAN

CR: Dead On by Robert W. Walker (available in July)

It's all better with friends.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Where Did the Words Go?

I have a theory.

Writers who are new to the game—who haven't yet been thrown back on their haunches with the sheer enormity of the learning curve before them—can lay down an enormous amount of words in a single setting.

They're free, and if their feet don't touch the ground, so what? They are creating the greatest work of verbal imagery since . . . well, since forever. They are basking under a rare and unimaginable (to all of those non-artistic folk, anyway) light. They are the newest, as yet undiscovered, treasures of the publishing world.

I know this, how? Because that new writer's name was Peg.

Let's go back . . .

At some point, my eyes begin to get adjusted to this strange new light. This writerly light that had placed me atop pedestals (for a few days at least) is now shifting, at least to me. It's betraying my birthright with something called Craft. The daunting spectacle of POV and backstory, MRUs and GMCs, hooks and sagging middles, scene structure and that pesky thing called grammar, all begin to rain their tentacles down on my fresh, green, Spirit. And my Spirit becomes paralyzed. Belief has been sucked out and replaced with mind-numbing, creativity-breaking, Need for Education. Aaargh.

Somewhere along in here, word count drops about 90%. And if it moves at all, it goes down.

Sound familiar, anyone?

But then, after some fitful starts and stops, something begins to happen. The butterfly begins to emerge from the cocoon of Writing 101. There's a pattern to her wings, a purpose to her day. She knows ever so much more than she did as a caterpillar. She can step out—or fly out—with the confidence that now the words of her warped mind (she's a Suspense Butterfly) will meet their intended target without fail.

And word count increases.

CR: Dead On by Robert W. Walker. This book puts a fully-realized character in your lap from the beginning. So far, so good. It will hit the stands mid-July.

It's all better with friends.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Suspense Novelists with Multiple Personalities

One of my favorite authors (one of a very few who don't write suspense), Anne Lamott (she can make me laugh out loud or spring tears—sometimes at the same time), wrote the following in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (by the way, it's available on Kindle):

Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Don't worry about appearing sentimental. Worry about being unavailable; worry about being absent or fraudulent. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you're a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive.

Today, I had a good writing day for me. I'll need a lot more of them if I want to cross my self-imposed finish line of mid-July for my first draft.

I tried (like a willing athlete) to follow a bit of Anne Lamott's advice—to write to the emotional center. I won't know for a while if I was successful because I'm refusing to put on my editor hat at this point. I'm feeling a bit bipolar about the whole thing, but there you have it.

I also tried (oh please oh please oh please let this have worked) to take a page from Dean Koontz and draw out a bit of the tension. He's a master at making the horrible moments last. There's no way you can skim through a high-wire scene in a Koontz novel. No way.

But at one point, kind of toward the end of the drama, Stephen King's sardonic sense of humor butted its way into my scene. It didn't even apologize. It wormed its way in and I wrote it. It wasn't a big deal. It will either work in the end, or it will stink.

If what I wrote today makes the cut and dodges the delete key, I will figure out a way to take full credit, necessitating the deletion of this post. If it doesn't work, I will toss out the advice and examples of Lamott and Koontz and King like so much flotsam.

Yeah, right.

When you're writing, do you ever um . . . split your personality? Does someone else try to toy with your voice?

CR: Dead On by Robert Walker. This book will hit the shelves in July, and so far I'm liking it very much. You may want to make note of it.

It's all better with friends.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Novelist's New Clothes

Yesterday I switched out my winter clothes for my summer clothes. In other words, I was editing my closet.

Tired of the dark, heavier winter wardrobe, I was only too happy to lug it over several trips to a closet from which I'd pulled all the brighter, lighter summer clothes now piled on our bed.

I wasn't adding anything new, but I had to consider deleting a few things here and there. If something didn't 'fit the story' (and I knew I would never be that size again) it was time to say good-bye. Deleting things you enjoyed when you wrote/wore them but that no longer work with everything else can be painful.

A few items from my winter stash could potentially become useful if we get a cool Colorado day. Not an unusual occurrence. But rather than have them take up space in my newly edited closet, I convinced myself that because I wasn't storing them off-site, I could still remove them. Knowing I had access made me feel better.

Which is easier? Editing clothes or words? Do you edit as you go (lose weight/gain weight) or do you edit as the seasons change?

CR: Almost finished with The Best Revenge by Stephen White. If the ending is as good as the rest of the book, it'll be on my Top Five for the year.

It's all better with friends.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Do What You Are

I received an incorrect email yesterday. Can you believe it? Has that ever happened to you? It wasn't blatantly incorrect. Just enough to send my radar all acquiver.

Urged to dig a little further, I put on my hardhat. Nothing showed up under Snopes, but Google led me to a wonderful list of lessons. Regina Brett is a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. She made a list of 45 Life Lessons and 5 to Grow On. I'm going to study them a bit more, and probably add one or two of my own.

But. Number 18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

This is a Great Truth. One I have heard before, and one proven out via tweets from writers in the last few days. I love Great Truths.


If you're a teacher, you teach. A painter, you paint. An accountant, you account. Er . . . or something. But you do it.

If all you have is five minutes during a demanding day to do what you are, then do it for five minutes. If you don't, you're cheating yourself.

If you have hours to do what you are, and don't have to think about dinner or chores or other responsibilities, stifle your giggles and get on with it.


If you're a writer, write.

I know what you're doing now. The question is, what are you doing next?

CR: Still reading the Stephen White. (I've told you I'm a slow reader.)

It's all better with friends.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Twitter Critter

If you have been peeking around my blog, you will see I recently succumbed and signed up for Twitter. People seem to think this is a fun tool for communicating and building networks.

And guess what? I think they're right.

I resisted for quite a while, thinking it a colossal waste of time and energy. One more thing to suck up my Dedication to Discipline. But in a moment of weakness (and honesty about exactly where, on a scale of 1-10, my Dedication to Discipline actually was), I took the leap.

Here are some of the benefits I see right away:

  • People I didn't know are following me, and I'm getting to know them a bit as well;
  • I've seen for myself that writers write;
  • There's a gentle accountability available to me if I tweet that I'm going to write. After all, I now have witnesses.

It's that last one that is huge. I'm thinking about using it for weight loss as well.

Maybe later.

In the meantime, I'd love to see you on Twitter.

CR: The Best Revenge by Stephen White. So far, this one is going on my Top 5 list for 2009. Cool.

It's all better with friends.