"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Start the countdown

My house is a disaster. I know, I've said that before, but it's seriously filled with boxes and bags and paperwork. Most of it will be packed up and taken to the festival on Saturday, but part of it is lying around waiting for me to put it away.

I'll get it done, sooner or later.

In the meantime, I'm almost ready for the big launch on Saturday (Hint: Tri-City Park in Placentia http://ocparks.com/parks/tri_city_park/). Today, I spent a lot of time putting up the canopy and trying out the changes that I wanted to make after touring the LA Times Festival of Books and getting ideas.

I decided to put my banner on the very front of the canopy, so people can see it. Last year, I had to buy a new EZ-Up, since mine broke, and got a yellow one, so people can see it easily. I also wanted to position my tables to allow people to pass through the booth. For one thing, I was told that people don't want to come into a booth if it feels like they'll get trapped inside it, but they'll come in if they see an exit.

For another thing, small children always run through my booth anyway, so I might as well clear a path for them.

Another thing I did was to get some curtains to hang on the sides. Yes, I know you can get flappy-things to go on the sides, but I wanted something that didn't say, "I brought the snacks for the soccer game today."

It took several hours to check it out and get it right, but I think I got all the problems worked out. This is what it looks like:

My gnomes, Booker and Hatch, will go on little table with a sign encouraging people to come inside. I do think I'll get a different color of felt for the table. Green doesn't go with anything else.

Having two tables means I'll have my books on one table and swag on the other. What kind of swag? Well...

I'll have bookmarks and pens with my website on them. These little beauties:

A little fan to deal with the 96-degree day - what a great idea!

There will also be a cauldron full of candy, and my giveaway baskets.

What? Giveaway baskets?

Yes. You may not be able to see what's in them, but basically they contain either a coffee mug or martini glasses, a signed copy of one of my books, a bookmark, a pen, a fan, and a gift card to something good.

Gayle, how can I get one of these wonderful baskets?

I'm glad you asked. You can win one in a couple of ways. 

1. If you walk up to my booth at any time and say, "I shot a man in Reno," I'll give you a basket. 

2. Otherwise, every hour, I will give a basket to the 10th person who comes into my booth. 

Please come see me. Even if  you're not a winner, I'd love to see you there!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The recap so far.

I've been plugging my whirlwind life recently. I'd feel bad about this, in that "what kind of narcissist are you?" way, except that I've been plugging the events that I think other people would enjoy attending. 

It's not exactly my fault that I'm going to them, too.

So how did everything go, you may ask. Seriously. You have my permission to ask that.


As usual, this was a fun weekend of talking about writing, learning about writing, and laughing about everything. I seemed to have picked up a bad habit - the day of the conference, I came down with a cold. In San Diego, I did the same thing. Each time, I sounded worse than I felt, but sounding worse meant that I practically lost my voice.

Helpful hint: Losing your voice when you have to teach a workshop or two is not a good way to spend a weekend.

My most vivid memory of San Diego is having to teach public speaking at the very last workshop of the very last day. Dearest woman Laura Taylor bustled into the workshop with a tray of herbal tea with lots of lemon and honey. It was like pulling the thorn from my paw. I will adore her forever.

At Irvine, my survival instinct took over, which meant I did not get to close down the bar with my tribe every night. But I did get to spend a little time, here and there, with some of my pals. My workshops went very well. At least, the participants told me they liked it. I hope they're not privately emailing (SCWC director) Michael Steven Gregory and saying, "Please stop her."

I sat in a couple of workshops that taught me a lot. Both were about leaving the worry about plotting behind and Just. Writing. Suzanne Redfearn taught "Pantsers: Keep the Creativity Flowing" and I loved her exhortation to not worry so much about where you think the story HAS to go, and let your characters take you where they NEED to go. We did some writing exercises in her class that were fun and freeing.

Then I was pleasantly surprised in Jeff Michael's class, "Write from the Heart." He discussed The Muse and Her role in our writing. I've always struggled with the middle of my books, and as he spoke, I realized that my Muse tends to feed me inspiration for the first part of my book, and the last part. I see the scenes setting up the story, as well as the end. But in the middle, She seems to abandon me to go shoe shopping.

"Oooh, pretty, shiny," said Whimsie, Gayle's Muse

I have to say, I admire her style.

So I asked Jeff to discuss it, and he had a lot of helpful things to say in class. Afterward, we sat down to lunch and discussed it further. We were joined by his wife, Jill, of course, and our good friend and ultra-entrepreneur, Garrett Miller. Jeff had some excellent suggestions for making certain that my second act is true and necessary and worth the read. 

As always, I told him how thankful I was for his kindness, as well as to Jill and Garrett for their indulgence. Take note, folks. Always show gratitude. It costs nothing and its value is priceless. 

And in case you want to get in on the fun, the San Diego conference is in February. Go here to learn more - http://writersconference.com/sd/

On to...


The good news is that it was a rousing success. We had a room full of people who met new authors and heard about Sisters in Crime. Our panels were smokin' - these women were funny, insightful, intelligent writers. And our guest speakers could not have been more engaging. 

Catriona McPherson had everyone laughing with her story of how she came to writing. I love her easy, down-to-earth personality. She's won numerous awards, and she deserves them all, and more. Honestly, her Scottish (working class, she says) accent is so entrancing, I would listen to her read the phone book. 

Carol Higgins Clark was equally charming, discussing how her mother's novels led her to her author's life. It turns out, in her teens, she typed up one of her mother's manuscripts for her. The experience was a deep memory for her, and started her on her path. She was also funny, describing how we all think she's super-famous, and yet people can't even get her name right. We may think she's super-famous, but we know she's super-fabulous.

The not-the-best news is that the event was tremendous work for all involved. I'm writing this after two glasses of wine and about five naps. Ask me more about it after another week of sleep and more wine.


What's next is an interview with Garrett Miller on his popular and fun Rated G Radio show (click here to find it - http://www.blogtalkradio.com/garrettmiller). I've been interviewed on his show before and I'm always excited and a little nervous, only because I want to be a good guest. Garrett is The Perfect Interviewer and should have his own talk show. He actually listens to your answers and asks questions from there, very much like my interview-idol, Dick Cavett. 

So tune in at 7 pm, PST, and listen to me talk about humor and books and...

My launch party at Tri-City Park on October 10th! It's the Placentia Heritage Festival, and I'll be selling my three new collections of humor columns, to honor my 10 years as a humor columnist for the Placentia News-Times. 

Come on out to the park and find my booth - I don't know where I'll be, but my canopy is bright yellow. The park festivities open around 10 a.m., but I won't be there until I've ridden in the parade. I think we get to the park around 11 or so. 

Once I get there, we will have prizes and treats and a generally fun time!

Hope to see you this Saturday!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Plugging. So. Much. Plugging.

Oy, I have so much to shout about, I've had to increase my aerobics training just to get enough lung capacity to be heard.

First: The Southern California Writer's Conference is coming soon, September 25-27 - have you signed up yet? If you haven't and you're a writer, you need to. There are workshops to help you develop your writing, workshops to help develop your pitching, and workshops to help develop your marketing. And I'll be teaching a workshop to help you decide what kind of author you want to be - traditionally published, or author-published?

Go here to register: http://writersconference.com/la/la-registration/

Seriously, go there. Right now. (Then be sure to come back!)

Second: The 2nd Annual Ladies of Intrigue is a few weeks away, on Saturday, October 3rd. It's a full day of meeting fabulous women mystery authors (sponsored by the Orange County chapter of Sisters in Crime), hearing them speak, and buying their books. There's coffee in the morning and lunch in the afternoon, all in the delightful Hotel Huntington Beach. We've got two very special guest speakers, Catriona McPherson and Carol Higgins Clark. I will be your hostess for the day, and promise some lively entertainment.

I know what you're thinking: Why do I want to go to this? I'll give you several reasons:
1. You are a voracious reader who is always looking for new authors and series to read.
2. You are active in an organization that is always looking for interesting speakers, and you want to see whether any of these authors would be a good fit for your group.
3. You are a member of Sisters in Crime (any chapter) and want to support your SinC community.
4. You are a writer who wants to know more about what kind of books are being published, and who is writing and publishing them.
5. You enjoy a fun day of mingling with other book-a-holics.

Go here to find out more about the event and the speakers: http://www.ocsistersincrime.org/LOI.htm

Go here to register: http://www.ocsistersincrime.org/LOIregistration2015.pdf

Really, I'm just begging you to attend this. It'll be all kinds of fun, and we need at least 100 people. 

THIRD (and finally): My Book Launch is coming! On Saturday, October 10, I will be launching my three new books at the Placentia Heritage Day Festival in Tri-City Park. I'll be in the booth from noon until 5 pm. What will be going on during those five hours? PLENTY!

1. All of my books (in paperback) will be on sale. They are regularly priced from $12.99 to $14.99, but on that Saturday only, they'll be priced as follows: one book = $12, two books = $20, three books = $24. Such a deal!

2. Prizes-prizes-prizes! Books and gift cards will be given out for whatever reason I see fit. I'm thinking that I'll give a prize to... the first person who tells me, "I shot a man in Reno," and maybe... the 20th visitor to my booth, and then... anyone who tags me on social media, especially with a picture. 

3. Refreshments. All book launches have refreshments, so I'll be handing out something, depending upon my time and creativity. I might serve cookies, or cupcakes, or Halloween treats, along with a drink of some sort. Sorry, it has to be non-alcoholic. 

How's that for a launch? 

Go here to see the new books and read about them: http://gaylecarline.com/whats-new/

I hope to see you SOMEWHERE soon!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Still plugging away

I may be writing this post to promote the Southern California Writers' Conference, but if you can't get to Irvine this September and feel the need for a conference, here's a list of what to look for in a good one. 

*I suppose I should insert the caveat that this is my opinion and your mileage may vary, but I believe with all my heart that this is why I keep coming back to this particular conference (I have been to others, but they didn't make me want to return).

1. How organized is it? A good conference should have its workshop schedule and leaders available ahead of time for you to look over. How do you know you want to attend if you don't know what they're teaching? There should be an email address if you have concerns. Your check-in should be easy. It should look like they've not only done this before, they've constantly learned to do it better.

2. How are the rooms organized? This might not be obvious, but I like a room with several tables and chairs, instead of just rows of chairs. I've come to learn, which means I'll be taking notes. It's so much easier to write at a table than to squeeze into a row of chairs (they're always too close together) and balance my notebook/tablet on my lap.

3. Who is teaching? No, I'm not talking about the guest speakers or anyone's fame. The workshop leaders need to have some experience at what they're telling you. Query tips should be taught by someone who is or has been a publisher, an agent, an editor. In other words, someone who has read queries and decided to accept or reject a manuscript. Authors teaching craft should have written books and gotten some reviews. Not all glowing, but at least no reviews saying they suck at grammar and spelling.

4. Who are their guest speakers? Here's where I'm probably going to surprise you: yes, I love to hear a famous author speak. I actually had lunch with Dean Koontz once, and his speech was delightful, warm, funny. It was also of no value to me as a "new" author. The world where he first found his agent and publisher does not exist anymore. I need to hear from new authors, authors that have just found their path within the last 10-15 years, or the more established authors who have re-invented themselves for the 21st century.

5. How welcome do you feel? Writers are a fairly introverted species, but the best ones are good people, if shy. You should be able to go into a room, sit down at a table and meet someone new. Lunch should only be a lonely experience if you want it that way. Otherwise, you should be able to see someone else with a badge and ask if you can join them--or invite them to join you. BTW, one way I see SCWC as creating this inclusive environment is that their workshop leaders, guest speakers, and conference directors are completely accessible. Did you really enjoy that workshop leader's talk? Ask if you can join them for lunch. Have a drink at the bar in the evening. Who doesn't need more friends?

6. How do you feel by the end of the conference? If you feel motivated, supported, encouraged, excited, antsy to get to work, you've found your tribe. If you feel like maybe writing is a dream for someone else, this was not the conference for you, and you need to go have a big glass of wine and call your Friend Who Loves and Supports You to talk you off the ledge.

There's still time to get the discount to the Southern California Writers' Conference, and there are still spots left on the StoryCore Track, designed to help you take your pretty good story to OMG-Must-Read level. Go sign up. Now! http://writersconference.com/la/

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A shameless, yet rational plug

The view from our cabin
I just got home from a week's vacation in the mountains, which is mostly relaxing, if you don't mind getting up early to walk the dogs, packing and unpacking food every day to go to the lakes, and the 10-hour drive to and from the lodge. At least we take two days.

They're so sweet when they're sleeping.

This particular trip was sidelined to visit one of our friends, a dear young girl who was supposed to be with us on the vacay, except that she discovered her leukemia is back and she had to be in the hospital instead. And, as lightly as I'm trying to say that, my heart is aching with hope and fear and a desire to be on my knees begging God to make it all right.

So now that I've been home for 24 hours, I am a big ball of tired-cranky. My son would call me salty. "Gee, Mom, want some salt with that?" he'd ask if he were here. Since I am here, I can answer him.

"Shut up."

I now get to plan for my next trip(s) in September, back-to-back travels to Monterey, then Irvine. In Monterey, I will be attending workshops to help me become a better trustee for my library. There's always something interesting to learn, plus, well, Monterey. I'm totally looking forward to breakfast at LouLou's on the pier.

Irvine, however, is where the action's at. September 25-27 is the Southern California Writer's Conference. This is our "Los Angeles" conference, which is almost never held in L.A. We used to be in Irvine, then we went to Newport, and this year, it's back to our old Irvine haunts. 

We should christen the hotel with a bottle of something.

This is probably the first of a couple of posts about the conference, but I wanted to let everyone know there's still time to get a discount on registration, a room at the hotel, and even an advanced reader or several.

Go here: http://writersconference.com/la/

I'll be teaching at least one workshop to help people who are on the fence about self-publishing determine whether they want to try it or not. When I'm not teaching, I'll be in workshops learning to grow as a writer and a marketer of my books. 

I know what some of you are saying. "The conference costs money. I can't afford to go to conferences. I get everything I need from YouTube videos, chat rooms, and my writer's group at the coffee shop."

IMHO... no, you don't. Seriously, go here: http://writersconference.com/la/

Here's what a conference gives you (or a good one should): access to industry professionals. These folks are editors, publishers, authors with traditional contracts, people who've been around the block more than once. They can steer you, mentor you, lift you up toward your goal, IF--

If you want to be a better writer and get a book out to the world. (Have I told you where to go? http://writersconference.com/la/)

And if you're worried about the cost, here is something to consider: being an author means you are self-employed. That means you are a business. Businesses need assets, need investment. Writer's conferences are an investment in the business of your writing.

After all this blabbering, I'm still feeling salty, so what are you waiting for? Get thee to that website and register!

INVEST IN YOU. http://writersconference.com/la/

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