"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

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A pirating day

I'm still choosing a cover and refining the jacket copy for Peri's latest adventure, A MORE DEADLY UNION. Currently, I'm striving for a June release date, although I may push it out if necessary. I'm also planning a big, fat launch party. It's been awhile since I had one of those, but as my age advances, I feel the need to celebrate milestones.

Life is short. Celebrate the happy.

In the meantime, I'm still working on my girl pirate book. It's fun to write, because it's like Play-Doh, molding and massaging and creating whatever comes to mind. I'm not sure where the story might go, and the characters and their motivations keep getting stronger, and they reveal secrets to me the more I write them. 

So much so that my first chapter got scrapped, and I'm now writing it all in first-person because Lisette wants to tell this story. I don't know whether it's because she's nobility or just strong-willed, but she's a girl who will do anything to get to her goals, including narrating her own tale.

And then there are the dragons.

Here is the new first chapter of the current work. I hope it whets your appetite.

* * * * * *

When I was five years old, I saw a dragon kill my uncle. This would be unremarkable if dragons existed, but my entire family told me I had a wild imagination and dissuaded me from telling anyone else. For anyone I had told, they tsk-tsked and explained that, poor child, I was so traumatized by witnessing my uncle’s death, I had dreamed up a horrid beast to explain it to my wee five-year-old brain.

When you’re young, parents are always telling you the vegetable on your plate is really magic candy, and it’s midnight on New Year’s when the clock rings eight. You believe them because they are your parents and they are wise and you love them.

So when they said I must have been mistaken and frightened and there are no dragons, I tried to believe it was a knife and not talons that slashed my uncle’s throat, and it was a torch and not a beast’s breath setting fire to his body.

What my parents did not know, what I never told, was that after killing my uncle, the dragon came to me. His image is seared in my mind. He was the size of a horse, crimson and black, with a line of golden spikes down his back to his tail. His coat was not scaled, as the tapestries portrayed them, but silky and long, like luxurious fur.

As he sniffed me, his nostrils widened from narrow slits to rounds, and the crescents in his eyes glowed, matching the waning moon. His breath smelled of ashes, and he brought his tremendous talon to press me against the wall. My body quivered, waiting to be sliced into ribbons, but I faced him. His eyes drilled into mine, searching for something within me.

After some moments of what I can only describe as a combination of terror and excitement, he turned from me and flew away, with a cry that expressed both anguish and victory. Even if I could have forgotten the smell of his breath, the weight of his claw upon my breast, I could never forget that scream.

I am now on the eve of my 18th year, a grown woman, preparing to be a bride, and leaving behind my childhood dreams and fantasies. I must learn to stop looking for great beasts of fire and claw. Still, there is a corner of my heart that keeps watching, both fearing and hoping to see another.

Friday, January 29, 2016

I got you covered

Good news, Peri lovers! The fourth book is in the editing and design phase. It was a difficult story and I had to wrestle it into submission at several points, but I'm satisfied with the results. I thought it was going to take me as long to think of a title as it did to write the darn thing. Fortunately, my editor and friend, Jennifer Silva Redmond began throwing phrases my way, which led me to other phrases, which eventually led me to:


Perfect, trust me. Once I had the title, I could start Joe Felipe on the cover art. It took us our normal three rounds to come up with something I liked.

I love the symbols used, in that the story covers an election, marriage, and quite a bit of shooting. When I placed my order with Joe, I said the cover needed to reflect the previous books in the series. He followed my request faithfully, down to the block lettering in the title. 

The problem is, I find the block lettering boring. So I asked him to come up with some alternatives. Here's what he did, along with a note that he could make the letters any color that suited my fancy.

Cover 1

Cover 2

Cover 3

Cover 4

Which one do you prefer? Don't be shy - you can let me know in the comments here or in social media. I need all the help I can get.

Friday, January 15, 2016

How do you help an author? And why should you?

I've got a To-Do List the length of the Great Wall of China, so this is not a long post. One of those items is to incorporate all my editor's comments into what I'm still calling "the 4th Peri book." It has moved from MARRIED TO DEATH, to A CLOSE CALL. Jenny (my fab editor) has a few ideas that sound promising. Stay tuned on that.

Today I'm going to do a little BSP, Blatant Self Promotion. I don't do it often. People don't like it. And really, I may be talking about me, but I'm also talking about authors in general. Let's start with the big question: why should you help an author?

Do you read? Are there any particular authors you like to read? Why? 

If an author has given validation to your own views, let you forget your problems, taken you to a land you've always wanted to visit, made you feel better in some way, then maybe you could return the favor. Make them feel better. Validate their need to write. 

I confess, I don't have everyone's name and number when I write a book. But I do have an idea of who my audience is, and I write to please them. I write little romps wrapped around a puzzle. What I want to give my audience is a few hours of fun. I want them to enjoy my characters as if they're good friends, and speed around Orange County with them, solving a crime. 

Would I tell my stories if I didn't have an audience? Don't get me wrong, I'd still write. I'm a writer. It's what we do. But no, I wouldn't write novels that no one wanted to read. Do I expect anything from my readers? No.

But it'd be nice.

If you want to help an author, here are some things you can do:

1. If you tried one of their books and liked it, read another one.
2. If you liked one of their books, leave a nice review on Amazon or Goodreads.
3. If you liked one of their books, recommend it to your friends.
4. If you like their books, send a little note to the author and tell them. One note. No stalking.
5. If you didn't like one of their books, leave a fair and balanced review on Amazon or Goodreads. Surprised? Authors need a wide range of reviews, positive and negative. Otherwise, people think all the reviews are from your family.

Why do any of this? Because, in the end, we need each other. You need books. Authors need readers. 

Which brings me to, well, me. Li'l ole me, writing my heart out, with 10 books on the cyber-shelves. What do you want, mystery, romance, humor? I got 'em all, and you can get them, easy-peasy.

Want ebooks? Visit my author's page on Amazon to choose and download.
Want paperbacks? You can go to Amazon, to Barnes & Noble, to any independent bookstore and order any of my books, OR you can contact me for an autographed copy.

Here are some links to get you started: 



Thank you!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A spanking brand new year

I'm in the habit of starting a blog post with the intention of saying one thing, and ending up saying another instead. This time, I'm going to try harder to stay on target.

Happy New Year!

That wasn't so hard. 

Actually, I was going to talk about the new year and the chance to shrug off last year's bad habits and poor excuses. Before we trade them for better bad habits and shinier poor excuses, let's resolve to think positively about 2016, and make changes that will help us.

The truth is, it's easy to make resolutions. You can make as many as you want, tiny and big. If you're a writer and wondering what you might improve on, here's the annual Joe Konrath list of Writing Resolutions. I like his list because he includes ALL of his resolutions, beginning in 2006, so there's a lot to choose from.


You could make more personal resolutions, although I caution you about any resolutions concerning your body and changing its general shape. Read Anne Lamott's words on resolving to go on a diet. 


"How much weight are you hoping to gain?" I love that line. There's not much about her post (or her) that I don't love. Forget dieting. Honor yourself and let the rest fall into place.

I think that's my wish for your resolutions this year, the one I'm going to take to my own heart: Honor yourself, in as many ways as you can.

1. Honor your health by making a fuss over yourself. If that means using the good china, do it. If it means listening to the doctor, take their words to heart. Live longer.

2. Honor your work by being passionate about it. You are your own valued employee -- start valuing!

3. Honor your joy by having fun. Live, for Pete's sake. As Auntie Mame said, "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death." Pull your own chair up to that table!

4. Honor the ones you love by loving them with abandon. Open your heart. Wish the best for them. It makes it so much easier for them to love you.

Have a fabulous 2016!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Merry Christmas letter to you

I've gotten them all sent out, so I can now post the annual Christmas letter and photo for everyone's enjoyment. If you read the blog, you get the added extras -- the outtakes!

You’ll be doin’ all right with your Christmas of white…

Oh, for Pete’s sake, somebody send some precipitation to California, please! If I’m very lucky, that statement alone will ensure a deluge by the time I send these greetings.

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way first, having to do with our photo. You’ll notice a new look to the background this year. In September, we moved the horses to a new stable, two ranches down from our previous location. It was an opportunity for my trainer to grow her business, something no one can afford to pass up these days. Although we miss the Silver Rose Ranch, we love our new digs at Hillcrest Equestrian Center.

You’ll also notice we are missing a family member. Katy the cat succumbed to kidney failure this year. She was 18, and I swear, some nights I still feel the weight of her at the end of the bed.

As for the rest of us, Marcus completed his undergraduate work at Cal State Long Beach. He now has a Bachelor of Music, with majors in Vocal Jazz Studies and Composition. His studies took an unexpected turn, causing him to spend one more semester at school. That, in turn, gave the Vocal Jazz Director an opening for him to sing in Pacific Standard Time one more year. So he’s spending a year with one foot in and one foot out of school, still getting music-related jobs wherever he can.

I asked Dale what he wanted to talk about in the letter and he said, “I’ve done too much, one letter won’t cover it.” I will tell you that retirement led to a lot of travel for him this year. He went to Angels’ spring training in Arizona, the Frozen Four in Boston, golfing in Maine, a family reunion in Louisiana, and even a spur-of-the-moment trip to Denver to visit a friend. When he was home, he coached two youth basketball teams, golfed, and played softball. He’s one busy retiree.

I’m still boring. Write a book, ride a horse, go to the library and make decisions, repeat as necessary. This was my 10-year anniversary of writing for the newspaper, so I released 3 books of columns on various subject matters. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my year, but the highlights all included friends, from the time we got to spend with Michael and Chrissie in Oregon, to having dinner with my high school buddy Mark and his wife Marjie, to our infrequent get-togethers with others. If I could request more time on this planet, I’d want to spend it hanging out with the people I love.

As for family trips, we did our usual mountain getaway. One of our dear, young (Marcus’ age) friends couldn’t make the trip because she was stuck in the hospital due to a recurrence of cancer. This meant our trip was modified to accommodate a visit to her in Sacramento. We love her, and we hate cancer, and we can’t wait for the day when it can all be cured without going through such painful processes.

Although we’ve had a lot of fun times this year, it sometimes feels like an enormous chore to keep the bad news of the world at bay. I’m not looking forward to next year’s election and all its negativity. All I can do is remember to breathe deeply, love greatly, and do my best to be kind.

So we wish you a Most Merry Christmas, and a Highly Happy New Year!

The Carlines

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