Monday, August 25, 2014

Attacking the Jungles, Both Outside and In

When I posted that I was finally getting back in the groove, I didn't realize what had been going on while I sat around waiting for my eyes to start working again.

My four garden boxes turned into jungles of weeds, overgrown giant marigolds going to seed, unharvested and wasted green beans that now look big enough to feed the squirrels...if only they liked green beans as much as they like the seed in my bird feeder, and depleted tomato plants whose remaining small green tomatoes will probably not ever turn red. Fried green tomatoes, anyone?

The kale and Swiss Chard survived and are still producing new tender leaves. I found them as I pulled off all the holy (or is that holely) giant outside leaves that had been ravaged by nasty little chomping beasties. There are a few beets in there somewhere, if only I can find them. And I still have delicious little carrots to harvest a few at a time and eat as snacks. And cabbages. I have four cabbages that looked pretty beat up on the outside, but turned out to be compact and sweet inside. I love cabbage. One of my favorites is to fry shredded cabbage with chopped green pepper and a couple handfuls of smoked sausage pieces. Shhh. Don't tell anyone, but I use a little bacon grease to fry the cabbage for extra flavor.

The house and my office look worse than the garden. Being one who will use any excuse to avoid housework, the only things that got done were those my sweet cleaning gal takes care of for me in her 90 minutes visit every other week.

And worst of all, my novel in progress hasn't progressed very far.

And my blog has been so neglected I'm embarrassed.

The only real writing-related things I took care of were most of my duties as co-editor of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers blog and a couple of tasks need to promote Dead Wrong, my suspense novel that will be released November 19th by Five Star/Cengage.

Getting back in the groove wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, but I'm making progress.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sarah Sullivan's Post at the Writing Bug is for Those Addicted to Writing (Sort of)

I had to pass this one on. Sarah's post at Northern Colorado Writers blog The Writing Bug is funny, even though it felt as if she was talking about (making fun of) me.  (Just substitute "cat" for "dog" in the appropriate places).

Not Writing 101:  How to Overcome Your Writing Compulsion
Not Writing 101: How to Overcome Your Writing Compulsion - See more at: http://www.writingbugncw.com/2014/08/not-writing-101-how-to-overcome-your.html#sthash.U5Eg8jk2.dpuf
Not Writing 101: How to Overcome Your Writing Compulsion - See more at: http://www.writingbugncw.com/2014/08/not-writing-101-how-to-overcome-your.html#sthash.U5Eg8jk2.dpuf

I'm already a master at most of these techniques, even while I insist I write because I need to, want to, and can't not do it. As I get back into my current masterpiece-to-be (well, okay, not exactly a masterpiece, but a good idea nevertheless), I need to keep Sarah's post in mind.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Getting Back in the Groove

Boy, getting my eyes fixed was more of an ordeal than I expected. The two cataract surgeries were fine with no hitches, but that two weeks in between when my eyes weren't working together was even more torture than the problems I had leading up to surgery.

Now at least I can see distance with no glasses and close up with drugstore specs until all the healing is done and I can get new handy dandy reading glasses.

What have I learned during my vision problems?

1. Not being able to write is torture.

2. Not being able to read is even more frustrating than not being able to write.

3. Sitting around whining, "I'm bored," is even less attractive in adults than it is in kids (and not well-received by other adults--spouses, for instance).

4. Being bored demonstrates a lack of creativity and an inability to relax and enjoy the moment.

5. Sitting in an easy chair and listening to music with eyes closed is a wonderful activity....at least it was once I learned to relax.

One of the things I tried was listening to audiobooks. Software called Overdrive allows me to check book out from the library and listen to them through my laptop.

I'm not accustomed to listening to audiobooks, so I found that I often dozed off or let my mind wander and had to backtrack, sometimes a whole chapter. I listened to Insurgent, but am convinced I would have enjoyed the print version a lot more--I liked Divergent, the first book in the trilogy which I'd read before the eye problems started.

I also started listening to one of my favorite author's earlier novels and couldn't get past the way he described every single character's appearance, including what they were wearing, when they first came into a scene. Now I'll have to look at his more recent books to see if he finally gave up that pace-destroying practice. If not, then it's something I didn't notice when reading print versions.

I doubt I'll go back to audiobooks as long as I have the choice of reading print books instead.

So, now I'm trying to get back in the writing/reading/blogging/book promotion groove. And I'll be attending the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference Sept. 5-7. And the Northern Colorado Writers Retreat at the end of October.

Time to get busy.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sure was easy to select the winner of The Enlisted Men's Club

There was only one entry, so I didn't even need random.org to help select:

Kenneth Harmon

(author of the soon-to-be-released

The Amazing Mr. Howard)

as the winner of a copy of

The Enlisted Men's Club 

by Gary Reilly.

Congratulations, Ken

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Enlisted Men's Club by Gary Reilly

I'm a big fan of Gary Reilly's Asphalt Warrior series which I've mentioned on this blog many times. The Denver cab driver, Murph, is my hero--a business world dropout and wanna-be author who drives a cab and has two rules for living. One....he wants to make a minimum amount of money each day to sustain his bare bones lifestyle. Two....he vows never to get involved in the lives of his passengers. None of that goes according to plan, of course, but Murph keeps trying and occasionally dusts off one of his many manuscripts with the intention of actually doing something with it.

I love these books, and am very happy to know there are more to be published in the series even though author Gary Reilly is no longer alive to hear the applause of his many fans.

Because of the Asphalt Warrior series, I was very excited to learn about the publication of a different kind of novel produced by Gary when he was alive. Based on some of Reilly's experiences in the Army during the Vietnam War, this trilogy begins with The Enlisted Men's Club and Private Palmer's holding pattern at The Presidio army base in San Francisco. He's waiting for orders to go overseas, most likely to Vietnam.

The pacing is slow and deliberate. At first I felt I was reading too much detail, too much day to day routine, too much moving of Private Palmer from here to there and back again. I was learning too little about what Private Palmer was thinking.

It didn't take very long, however, to realize what Reilly was doing as he put together these chapters. My tension level began to rise as I read more and more. The waiting was almost unbearable. I wanted a drink every time Private Palmer headed for a bar. I began to understand why I couldn't access Private Palmer's thoughts.

He didn't want to think. He made sure his life was filled with the small routines and thought-killing activities that he needed to carry on from day to day.

To think would be to fear. To think would mean facing the inevitable. To think would bring on an anxiety so intense an ordinary man might not be able to survive the waiting.

And in truth, some didn't.

The Enlisted Men's Club is disturbing in the way psychological suspense is. It's scary. I'm not going to put any spoilers here. I want you to read the novel for yourself. And I will read the second book in the trilogy as soon as it's published.

Thanks to Mark Stevens, one of Gary Reilly's friends who have made the publication of these novels possible.

I purchased The Enlisted Men's Club and will give away this gently-read copy to one U.S. or Canada resident who leaves a comment on this post by midnight Mountain Time Saturday, August 16th.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Will Write for Food ... by Eileen Goudge

I have an ironic T-shirt that says WILL WRITE FOR FOOD. I laugh whenever I put it on because it’s not far from the truth. There were some lean years in the beginning when a check meant the difference between grocery money and going hungry. 15 published novels later, I no longer worry about putting food on the table (just about where it’ll end up on my middle-aged body!). But here I am reliving those days of uncertainty by leaping into the vast unknown of indie publishing after 30 years of being traditionally published.

Suddenly my T-shirt is seeming a lot less ironic.

It all started a little over a year ago with lunch with friend and fellow author Josie Brown, who took the leap a few years ago and has been very successful at it. As I was launching into the usual litany of author complaints, she stopped me mid-rant and asked, “Why not self-publish?” I replied, “Who me?” I couldn’t envision a different path even though the one I was travelling wasn’t the same one I’d set out on all those years ago, given how radically different the publishing landscape of today is from yesteryear’s. Still, I was resistant. Until Josie said, “Then why don’t I give you a tin cup and you can beg for quarters?” Her point: If something isn’t working, try something different—what do you have to lose? It was the kick in the butt I needed.

Thus began my odyssey into self-publishing. Terrified by my own audacity, I felt like I was walking a tightrope—butterflies in my tummy, breaking out in a cold sweat whenever the doubts crept in. Was I doing the right thing? Could I get up to speed on all the stuff I needed to know and do? Starting with all those mysterious acronyms. (What the heck did BISAC stand for, anyway?) But I also realized something wonderful: I had the freedom to write whatever I damn well pleased. I’d always wanted to try my hand at mystery, having strayed in that direction with some of my women’s fiction novels (most notably WOMAN IN RED). My very first short story, in fourth grade, was titled “The Secret of the Mossy Cave,” so I guess you could call it destiny overdue.

Good-bye Beaten Path, hello Cypress Bay! My series is set in a fictional northern California seaside town inspired by the one I lived in before moving to New York City in the 1980’s. The title came to me, fittingly enough, while I was taking a stroll on the beach. The first book, BONES AND ROSES debuts August 4th 2014. It introduces Tish Ballard, property manager extraordinaire and recovering alcoholic with a mouth the size of the flambéed blowout that ended her career as a realtor and persistence to burn. The discovery of human remains in a storage locker sends her on a quest to find answers that takes her to some dark places, not the least of which is the ghost of her high school indiscretion with lead detective Spence Breedlove.

Because I’m smart enough to know I can’t do it all, I signed with a distributor, INscribe Digital—good move, as it turns out. I also hired a marketing person, someone with whom I’ve worked in the past, and have my social media guru buddy Susie Stangland, to help with all things social media related. Fab book designer, Mumtaz Mustafa, designed the covers for both BONES AND ROSES and Book #2 in the series, SWIMSUIT BODY. So far, so good.

The rest is in the hands of Fate and those of Dear Reader. I’m trusting that my existing audience will follow and I’ll gain new readers. And, hey, I’m not too old to do handsprings if I have cause to celebrate. Come visit me on my website. I love to hang out with my fellow authors online. Sharing about our growing pains makes them seem less awful and more laugh-worthy—like my ironic T-shirt.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eileen was born on the Fourth of July, and her career came into being in much the same way: with fireworks. Which is to say bursts of inspiration accompanied by dazzling displays of verbal pyrotechnics (or so she believed at the time) and culminating in self-immolation in the form of rejection letters. She persisted and went on to publish numerous YA novels and 15 women’s fiction novels, starting with the New York Times bestselling Garden of Lies.

With the first title in her Cypress Bay mystery series, she boldly ventures into territory she has long wished to explore, ever since her love affair with Nancy Drew as a young girl. You can find Eileen on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, August 4, 2014

How I'm Spending My Summer Breaks

I had cataract surgery on my right eye.

The improvement in vision in that eye, especially distance vision, is truly amazing. Images (including the street signs) are sharp instead of fuzzy. And colors are bright and clear instead of dulled.

It was so much fun, I'm going back a week from Wednesday (8/13) to have the other eye fixed.

Meanwhile, my eyes are not working well with each other nor are they helped much by my glasses. Prolonged anything, including reading, computer work, or TV, make me feel a little woozy.

I downloaded Overdrive to my laptop and learned how to check audiobooks out of the local library and download to listen. Thank goodness for that. Otherwise I'd be going bonkers. I'm listening to Insurgent now.

That's why you'll only see me showing up here with tiny posts until about August 18th when I expect to be back writing and posting lots and lots and lots.

I have a lovely guest blogger helping me out this Thursday. Eileen Goudge is well known for her women's fiction, but she's made the jump to mystery and to indie publishing and will tell us a little about what she's learned in the process.

What are you doing with your summer break?