"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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Out lying.

I'm whittling away at the exciting conclusion of the new mystery (tentatively titled Murder on the Hoof), and getting closer to the final climactic scene, wherein the characters' lives will be in danger as the killer is revealed. In thinking of that final battle, I imagined a scene, then thought:

But that's how most stories would end it. If I do X instead of Y, no one will expect it.

It was right after the euphoria passed that my funk began. I suddenly realized that all of my novels have been built on some idea that started out as, "I know that the average story zigs, so I'm going to zag." I keep thinking that if I have solid plots with interesting characters, readers will flock to my novels. They'll love the zag.

Or maybe not.

The majority of readers (you know, that great big statistical group out there) seem to want the conventional story. They don't want anything that zags. I'm not criticizing - at all. I know what the problem is. It's what the problem has always been, no matter what I've ever done in life.

I'm an outlier.

In the world of data, where numbers nerds quantify the world and identify trends, there is usual one big clump of normal, and then random stuff that doesn't fit anywhere and no one knows why. The random stuff is called outlier data.



Let's face it, I'm never going to be in the meaty part of the bell curve. In my case, I feel it gets worse. If the data being quantified can be measured from 1-10, I'm equal to coffee beans. I don't even belong on the chart.

Will I have readers who enjoy my stories? Yes. Will I ever get into that club of authors with millions of fans? Maybe I could, if I wrote conventional tales, which I can't - yet. Will I ever join the rest of the average data, join the trend, and get under the bell?

Pfft. Please.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Silent running (again)

The weekend sale is over. It shot Snoopy's memoir up to #1 in Horse Books across the board (General Fiction, Children's, etc), which was great.

I also got a lot of writing done. I'm on the downhill slope of the new mystery, somewhere around 20,000 words left to go. (BTW, how do I know it's about 20k words? Because my books typically come in around 65-80k words and I'm currently a little over 50k. After awhile, that means something.) I'm going to be working feverishly for the next week or two to bring this story to a conclusion, so I may not be around much.

Before I dive back underground, I had to go to a very big meeting of Sisters in Crime. It was our yearly lovefest with Mystery Writers of America. We had lunch and some big names came to discuss murder and mayhem. This year we had two Larrys: Larry Welborn, a crime reporter for the OC Register, and Larry Montgomery, an investigator for the OC District Attorney's Office. They were both fascinating, and Larry M. actually gave me a lot of ideas for strengthening the book I'm working on, once I start the edits.

Larry W. told the story of working, on and off, on the case of a woman who police originally thought committed suicide, then changed their minds when her landlord "accidentally" murdered another woman in the apartment complex. He chased leads for 31 years and finally got the DA to file charges, only to have the charges dismissed because of due process. It seemed like a heartbreaking end to the story, but he did not act particularly upset. Some might consider it a waste of his time to uncover a truth that would never be used for justice. But the world knows that this woman did not kill herself. And after 31 years, her blank, pauper's grave now has a headstone. She is remembered.

It got me to thinking about why we do things. Sometimes it's not for the money or the fame or the promise of truth or justice. Sometimes it's just to lift ourselves up.

I found this on YouTube.



We can't afford to stop dreaming.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Get it while it's hot

In honor of August's hotter than Hell temperatures, I'm offering From the Horse's Mouth: One Lucky Memoir on Kindle for 99 cents this weekend.

Save $3 to spend on a Big Gulp!

The sale is over on Monday, so hop on over and pick up your copy, quick-quick-like-a-bunny. Here's where to go - http://www.amazon.com/From-Horses-Mouth-Memoir-ebook/dp/B00D0HDYRQ/

What are you waiting for?

“When I was a young horse, I thought if I wasn’t always good, I could at least be useful. Then I broke my leg.”

When Snoopy was three years old, he won the 2007 Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Association Trail Futurity. His trainer and his owner had his career mapped out—he would be campaigned around the circuit and qualify to be invited to the AQHA World Show.

Then in 2008, Snoopy broke his left hind sesamoid, a small bone in the leg. This injury can mean anything from surgery to euthanasia. Surgery didn’t guarantee he could be ridden again, much less shown.

In the tradition of Black Beauty, this is Snoopy’s own story, told from his special point of view. He tells of his youth, his training, his injury, and his long fight to return to the show arena, to prove he’s the same horse he always was, only different

“The perfect gift-book for horse-lovers of all ages.” —Michele Scott, best-selling author

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

ohmagodohmagodohmagod

LAST NIGHT I WENT TO SEE THE MONKEES IN CONCERT! I'M SORRY ABOUT THE CAPS BUT I CAN'T SEEM TO HEAR ANYTHING AND I'M STILL SUPER-EXCITED-UBER-OVER-THE-MOON!

Okay, better now. Let me explain.

The Monkees' TV show debuted in 1966, when I was 12 years old. It feels like I was 14 at the time, but I think I felt 14 from the time I was 11 until I was 18, after which I felt 16 for a few years. I think I may just make up a new way to measure age, called feel-years. Currently, I'm 42 feel-years old. But I digress...

When the Monkees did their first tour, I was as crazed as the next pre-teen wanting to see them. They were going to be in Chicago and St. Louis, two cities that were completely within my parents' driving range from Decatur, Illinois. I asked. I begged. I pleaded.

My mom said no the way you say no when you don't even think about the request. My dad didn't even hear the question. I remember the last night I could have seen them. St. Louis. My mom took us out to visit someone who was camping at a nearby lake. I stood on a hill, looking up at the night sky, thinking, "The concert is starting now. I wonder what song they're singing first."

Then I grew up and those four zany guys moved on. They finally got back together as a foursome, but I might have been 18 feel-years old that year and too cool for them. In December, Davy died and I thought, well, that's that. But Micky, Mike, and Peter have been touring this summer, and I kept seeing all these fun posts from them on Facebook. (Confession: I've never stopped thinking that Peter Tork is the cutest thing on the planet and yes, I stalk him - on Facebook, where it's appropriate.)



So I bought tickets.



We walked into the Terrace Theater in Long Beach to the sound of Monkee mania. They were showing video clips of the TV show on the big screen on the stage. Dale and I were on end seats, in the 14th row. I couldn't help but feel the excitement. I began to babble.

Me: "I hope no one sits right in front of us. We can see the stage better."
Dale: *nods*
Me: "Especially really large people."
Dale: *watches screen on stage*
Me: "And no turbans."
Dale: *watches screen harder*

My hubby is a patient man.



At last, the lights went down, the Monkees came on, and I spent two hours grinning like an idiot, standing, clapping, and singing along. And I wasn't the most exuberant old-teen in the place. Two women a couple rows down spent the night in full-metal Bugaloo mode. One of the woman wore a shiny gold dress that should have been a size larger. Just saying.

I nearly broke out into the Swim once myself.




The only part that briefly lost my interest was when they did some songs from Head. I'm a big Monkee fangirl, but I've tried to watch that movie twice now, and I just don't think I can get drunk or stoned enough to get through it. Sorry, guys.

I couldn't have told you all the songs ahead of time, but each time they started one, I'd think, "Oh, I remember this one," and could sing along with at least the chorus. I particularly enjoyed "What Am I Doing Hanging 'Round."



Just before they sang "Daydream Believer" they showed a wonderful clip of Davy Jones singing and dancing. Then Micky explained that they knew they had to perform this song but couldn't decide who should sing it. Mike came up with the solution.

"It's your song." Micky pointed to the audience. "We want you to sing it." They brought up a guy from the front row and had him sing the verse, then pointed the mikes our way for the chorus. The guy might have been a plant, but he was amazingly on key.

By the time we got to the chorus, I was 14 in feel-years again. This video is proof. I am not singing along with the crowd, I am braying. Say it with me, people. Pronounce that hard g. Braying-ga.

video


They closed the show with "Pleasant Valley Sunday." When I heard the opening guitar, I shrieked. The transformation was complete. It only took me 45 years to be 14 again.

How old are you today in feel-years?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sorry for the delay. I'm digging my way out of the weeds.

I'm in the middle of my first draft of the horse show mystery, so I really don't have much to say on the blog, except:



OH MY GOD THIS BOOK IS STUPID WHY DID I START WRITING THIS IT SUCKS!

Which is how I usually feel around the 40,000-word mark. Not to worry. The plan of attack is to slog through the mire, get to the end, dig the last hole out of the tunnel and reach the sunlight. Then I put it on the backburner for a few weeks to get some perspective.




In the meantime, I couldn't just leave the post up about the free Kindle promotion, so here's something to make your Monday a little nicer. (And maybe your Tuesday and your Wednesday, depending upon when I get back here.)




Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's crazy! It's unprecedented! It's "hot"!

Are you ready?

Beginning at midnight PST, The Hot Mess will be FREE on Kindle, for three days. Yes, free. No, I've never offered this book on Kindle for free before.

It's a freakin' hot August miracle, people!



Here's the blurb:

It’s a hot time in P-Town!

No one in the small town of Placentia, California is surprised when Benny Needles’s house catches fire. The outside hasn’t seen a paint brush in years. The inside is stuffed with Dean Martin memorabilia. It would be a simple case of homeowner negligence, except for the body found inside.

Under suspicion of both murder and arson, Benny turns to the one person who has always helped him, private investigator Peri Minneopa. Fire investigation isn’t on her menu of services, but Peri’s weak spot for Benny overrules her reluctance, and she agrees to look into things. Her investigation takes a dangerous turn as she uncovers family secrets, going back several decades.

There are skeletons in everyone’s closet, and even Benny’s bones are rattling.

Here's the book video:



What are you waiting for? Set your alarm. Mark your calendar. Three days. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The hangover from the hangout

Last night I did a Google Hangout for Indie Author TV with Jason Matthews and Marla Miller. It was pretty fabulous, and I enjoyed doing it. Here it is, in its 23-minute entirety:




Some behind-the-scenes extras:

1. Jason started having technical difficulties, but no one knew it until he said anything. Marla and I just thought he was showing my different online footprints - A LOT.

2. The barking you hear at the end are my two canine maniacs - caniacs as I like to call them - who had decided they had been kept out of the room long enough. Letting them in the room while I did the interview is like having a phone conversation as a mom. Your kids never want your attention until you pick up that phone and then everyone needs you.

3. I tried to look better for the camera than I did. My hair decided to go squirrely, and the blue top I was wearing made me look like I had blue eye shadow. Really, I know better. At any rate, the words all worked, so I can't care that much about looking my age. Mostly, I wanted to find the right nouns and verbs and sound like I was as savvy as Marla thinks I am.

4. I'd do it all again in a heartbeat, although perhaps I'd hire someone to make me look good.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Making Googly eyes

There are a lot of ways to network these days. In ye olden times, when internet was but a wee tot, we had MySpace. Now there are so many ways to meet new cyber-people, I can barely list them all. We've got Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, chat rooms, and dozens more.

If you're an author who is trying to meet a lot of people to see if any of them would like to ultimately read one or two of your books, you could go crazy trying to keep your profile active on all these sites. I know. I used to try.

Ultimately, I settled on mostly Facebook with a touch of Twitter. I realize that should be the other way around, but Twitter is so fast-paced, I often feel like a cat chasing a laser. Now that I'm uber-comfy on Facebook, something new has popped into my view.

Google+.

They say Google+ is for the serious crowd, which means it should have automatically rejected me when I signed up, but it didn't. Here's the link to my Googly profile. I'm still learning to use it for good, not evil. I've already discovered one cool thing you can do: You can hang out.

Google+ Hangouts are a way you can video chat with people. You can even sign in and watch other people having a video chat, like taking a workshop. On Monday, I'll be interviewed on a Hangout called Indie Author TV with Jason Matthews and Marla Miller. Here's the link:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/cednauk52ndcujijt7hb1g0g6r0

Jason is a self-published author, who has written both fiction and nonfiction, and is a very good interviewer. He was very savvy during our pre-interview checkout and asked a lot of great questions.

Marla is my pal from the Southern California Writer's Conference. She is a writer, editor, and professional problem solver for many writers. Talk about pointed and interesting questions - she's a whiz at getting to the meat of your story! Visit her website, Marketing the Muse, for more.

We'll be doing our interview at 6 p.m. on Monday (that's tomorrow, August 5th) and I hope you check it out. Don't worry if you have to miss it - it'll be on YouTube, and you can bet I'll be sharing that link!

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