Showing posts from 2012

I love short stories...NOT

I had an epiphany the other day as I struggled with my current short story in progress. I mean, they’re SHORT, so they should be easier to pound out than a 90,000 word novel. Right? Wrong. I finally hit on WHY. For me, at least, the hardest part of writing a novel is the first 100 pages of the first draft. I know some writers get hung up on the “muddle in the middle,” but for some reason, I don’t worry about that. The revision process gives me ample opportunity to figure out pacing issues. But the whole business of meeting the main characters, setting the foundation for the plot and subplots, figuring out relationships and roles within the story drives me friggin’ nuts! And what exactly is a short story? At its entirety, it’s under 100 pages. I never have a chance to get up that head of steam that carries me into the rest of the book. The whole story has me slugging along, trying to find the protagonist’s voice. Struggling to nail the plot. Agonizing over past relationshi

And the Winner IS....

The votes have been tallied and it wasn't even close. The winner by a landslide is #4. Thanks to everyone who voted and voiced an opinion...especially the flattering ones!

A New Face

I've been hearing over and over lately that I need to get new headshots done. People who only know me from my online presence complain when they meet me that I don't look anything like my picture. Hmmm. Is that good or bad? I'm still not sure. However, the fact that I now wear my hair a lot longer than I used to is a fact I can't deny. The problem with new photos is...well, I'm older than I was when I had those last ones done. If I could get away with posting a picture of me when I was 25, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Seriously, inside my head, that's still what I look like. Outside? Not so much. But I caved in this weekend. After shooting over 60 frames, I came up with four that I like. So I'm posting them here and asking for a vote. Which ONE photo should be my new "face" for my online persona? Choice #1 Choice #2 Choice #3 Choice #4 Leave a comment with your favorite. Okay, I get to make the final decision, so this

My New Baby

Two years ago, after procrastinating for entirely too long, I had my web designer create a whole new website for me. I wanted it to reflect my “new” mystery series about a small town paramedic/deputy coroner. Yes, the one I wrote about in my last post: The Next Big Thing. But then, just when the new design was ready to go live, I was drawn back to the racetrack mystery by an interested agent. After a rollercoaster ride that I wouldn’t have traded for the world, it looks like the racetrack story is going back into the drawer. At least for a few months. I’m back to querying agents for the paramedic mystery. Therefore, at long last, it’s time for the new website. Earlier this week, it went live and I couldn’t be happier with it. If you follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook, you’ve probably already heard me crowing about my new baby. But in case you haven’t seen the new yet, please take a look. I plan to do another minor update (new autho

The Next Big Thing...

Sometime recently, my dear friend Joyce Tremel contacted me about taking part in a blog chain called The Next Big Thing. I was up to my eyeballs in planning the Choices and Challenges of Modern Publishing Workshop for Pennwriters, and the date she gave me was AFTER the workshop, so I said “okay.” The workshop was Saturday. Oops. The blog was supposed to be up Monday. Some day I’ll learn. But better late than never, so here goes. First off, be sure to check out Joyce’s blog for her Next Big Thing . I’ve read part of this book. It’s fabulous! What is the working title of my book? Circle of Influence . Where did the idea come from? A few years ago, a neighboring community was dealing with something of a political brouhaha when a local official got power-hungry and started throwing his weight around. The citizens were in an uproar and the police had to be called in to escort the politician from the meetings for his own protection. It was in all the

Better Late Than Never...I hope

If you're checking in here looking for my Next Big Thing post, I apologize. I'm running late after preparing for  and hosting Pennwriters Choices and Challenges of Modern Publishing conference this past Saturday. It was great to work with Jane Friedman , CJ Lyons , Nancy Martin , and Susan Meier . But in the process I seem to have overlooked the fact I was tagged and supposed to participate in this blog chain...TODAY. So check back on Wednesday. I promise to have something ready by then.

Adventures in Ohio

Yesterday, Hubby and I climbed into my beloved old pickup truck (affectionately nicknamed The Beast) and headed to Ohio ’s Amish Country to pick up the dining table and chairs we’d ordered back in July. The Beast, by the way, used to be my primary source of transportation. We bought her new in 1990…a fully loaded ¾ ton Chevy Silverado with all the extras for hauling our horse trailer and fat Quarter Horses. Back then, I remember complaining that it took $26 to fill the gas tank. Yes, I was horribly na├»ve. These days it takes well over a hundred bucks to fill ‘er up, not to mention the Beast has close to 200,000 miles under her belt, so we mostly leave her bedded down in my mom’s garage. The last major jaunt she’d been on was three years ago when we hauled our camper to Confluence. She’d groaned a bit, lugging that thing through the Laurel Highlands . But we figured Ohio is mostly flat and the old girl should be able to handle a table and four chairs. I should mention so

Coming Soon...

At the Pennwriters Conference in May, one of the speakers said that blogs were dead and the "new blog" was Facebook. Feeling overwhelmed, I latched onto that nugget as an excuse to lighten my load. Hence, my absence here. However, I admit I miss blogging. So in very short order, I'll be back. You've been warned. First though, I intend on revamping, refocusing, and redesigning this blog and, to a lesser extent, my website. I'm also back in what I less-than-affectionately call Query Hell. And I'm organizing a workshop on Choices and Challenges of Modern Publishing for Pennwriters. And I'm coordinating our Sisters in Crime annual writing retreat. Yes, my plate is full...with everything except writing. To quote Captain Jack Sparrow (and Ozzie Osbourne, I believe), " Not good ." So until I catch up and get back to blogging here on a regular basis, you can find me on my Facebook page .

Pennwriters Conference Report

No, I have not fallen off the face of the earth. Nor have I been sucked into the vortex of post-conference brain overload, although that one is closer to the truth. The cold, hard fact is I have no good excuse for not posting here about the conference sooner, other than I've been busy doing things like following up with some of the contacts I made, processing and mailing photos to people who requested them, and...well...SLEEPING. I don't think I've ever been as exhausted in my entire life as I was after this year's conference. I guess I'm too darned old for late night slumber parties followed by early morning wake-up calls. At this rate, I might be caught up by November. Anyhow... My traveling and rooming partner for this trip was the brilliant and brilliantly funny Deborah Riley-Magnus . We arrived in Lancaster last Wednesday evening and promptly collapsed in our business suite, which was simply a mirror image of the one I stayed in two years ago.

Conference Countdown Continues

The clock is ticking. I'm leaving for the Pennwriters Conference Wednesday afternoon. That leaves me just under 48 hours to get everything done that needs to be done. My workshop notes and handouts are printed and paper-clipped and stashed in my computer bag. Most of my clothes are packed...except for the items that might wrinkle. I have my copies of Fish Tales boxed and ready to go (the bookseller couldn't get them, so it's BYOB...Bring Your Own Books). One important item that remains on my to-do list is "purchase wine." I'm in charge of picking up the wine for the speakers' goody bags, plus I've offered to donate a bottle of my favorite chocolate wine for one of the auction baskets. PLUS I expect a few friends to stop by my hotel room at some point for a wine and chocolate party, so I need a bottle of two for that. This very important task (VIT) was on today's to-do list. I drove to the liquor store only to discover it's close

Conference Countdown

Since I attended my first Pennwriters Conference in 2004, I've participated in just about every way possible. I've chaired committees. I've served as unofficial first lieutenant to the coordinator. I've BEEN the coordinator. I've been "Conference Yoda" to a couple coordinators. There is, however, one thing I've never done at a Pennwriters Conference: taught a workshop. Until now. And in my usual jump-head-first-into-the-deep-end style, I'm not simply teaching a one-hour workshop. I'm teaching a four-hour pre-conference seminar workshop. My initial fear was that no one would sign up to hear me talk. Heck, I'm not sure I would sign up to hear me talk. But they have. I'm amazed. And honored. I've been working on this thing for months. The flop sweat panic has passed. I'm ready. I think. I hope. Of course, there's room for more. I like to think it's a pretty good workshop: Crime Fiction

Writer Wednesday at The Blotter

I'm guest blogging today at The Blotter, my friend and fellow Working Stiffs Joyce Tremel's blog. It's Writer Wednesday and I'm talking a bit about what I've been up to lately. And I've included a snippet from Horse of a Different Killer for your enjoyment... I hope!

The Festival of Mystery 2012

For the past 17 years, the world of mystery lovers, writers, and readers has gathered on a spring Monday in Oakmont , PA , for the Festival of Mystery. Last night, it happened again. But this year's festival also signaled the end of an era...and the beginning of what we all hope will be a new and glorious one. Mary Alice Gorman and Richard Goldman have owned MysteryLovers Bookshop since 1990 and have turned it into a rarity in independent book stores...a successful, thriving, profitable business. I fell in love with the shop the very first time I set foot in it and found myself surrounded by all those mystery titles! My goal in life is to get a novel published simply so I can sign their bathroom wall, although space in there has become increasing tight. They've started on the ceiling, now. However, that era is about to come to an end. Mary Alice and Richard have sold the bookshop to Laurie Miller Stephens, who was also in attendance at this year's Festival. The f

Let the Partying Begin!

After a long winter (okay, this year, it was more like a long NON-winter), spring is upon us and so is party and event season. It started yesterday with Lisa Scottoline's annual visit to Pittsburgh . This year, she was here to promote her latest "emotional thriller" Come Home . I've long sung Lisa's praises. Back when I was first starting my search for an agent, she was generous enough to insist I send my manuscript to HER agent. I did. He rejected it. But I will love her forever for being so supportive. She also agreed to be the keynote speaker for me at the Pennwriters Conference that I coordinated in 2009. Let's face it, I adore anyone who makes me look good. And that keynote speech still ranks as the best one we've ever had (in my opinion anyway). Yesterday's visit to Pittsburgh ...Oakmont actually...was bittersweet. Lisa's mom is in the hospital forcing her to cancel her book tour, with the exception of this stop. And the main reaso

Poor Skye/Bad Kensi

Some Higher Power seems to think I'm a good kitty mom because He keeps sending me cats with health problems. I've dealt with thyroid issues, kidney failure, blindness, deafness, and cancer in my cats over the years. After my sweet Sammie lost her battle to squamous cell carcinoma, I thought my next rescue kitty, Skye, would be low maintenance with her measly allergies. That fantasy lasted all of a week when my vet diagnosed her with Bartonella. You might have heard of it called Cat Scratch Fever. There's a lot of conflicting information out there about the illness. Basically, it's spread by fleas. Skye had been infested with them when she was dumped at the shelter. In her case, the infection manifests itself in severely inflamed gums. But after a couple of rounds of azithromycin, Skye's oral problems were under control. That lasted for about five years. Now, it's back. I did three rounds of the antibiotic this time with only temporary results. Last

The Joys of Camping

I have a rule about no cleaning the first two trips to our camp in the spring. The place definitely needs it, but I’ve learned to ignore the mess. For one thing, April in Pennsylvania is generally muddy. That old adage about April showers wasn’t created for nothing. For another, there are always unexpected repairs to be made after the place has sat empty for six months. This year, the mud isn’t so much an issue. It’s been a weird winter and spring. It’s also been dry. However, the “unexpected” repairs part of the equation has more than made up for it. The campgrounds don’t “officially” open until next week, so we weren’t sure what we’d find. Our first happy discovery was the water had already been turned on. My first less-than-happy discovery was that the Internet had not. No big deal. It’s amazing how much work I get done when I’m not online. Yes, I should know this by now. But when I’m offline for days on end, the emails tend to pile up in my inbox and take half a

Grandpap's House: Part Two

Last September, “they” (I don’t know who “they” are…someone hired by the current owner) started tearing down my grandfather’s house. I blogged about it at the time , expecting that the house would be gone by winter. Wrong. They made it this far and quit. As if being neglected for all those years wasn’t insult enough, they ripped off half her roof and left her wide open, naked to the elements. I prefer to remember the house I spent much of my youth in like this. And I have a nice collection of even older pictures of the house in its heyday.  The picture below is my mom and my great grandma feeding the chickens out back. And a shot of the inside. That's my older brother by the tree. The house will definitely live on for me. I’ve used it as the home for two of my protagonists. If I keep writing about it, I’ll never completely lose it. But in reality, the demolition crew has returned. They removed a big chunk of the house this weekend. Now it looks