"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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Let the querying begin.

Just as I got a little traction in both of my manuscripts, the editing came back on my fantasy. Isn't it frustrating to absolutely KNOW for a FACT how to stack your priorities, and have each one take a long time to check as complete?

The fantasy manuscript is edited. I am happy with it. I may be sick of it. Nevertheless (oh-how-I-love-that-word), I have already let it set sail to three different ports. One is an agent I've met, one is an agent I was recommended to, and one is a stranger in a dark alley. Wish me luck. Here is my normal synopsis:

* * * * *
Young noblewoman Lisette de Lille is duty-bound to marry on her 18th birthday, and solidify Frances hold over their small Caribbean island. What good would it do to dream of finding love, or experiencing freedom?

She does dream about something she saw as a child. A red dragon. No one believed her, but it was terrifying and mesmerizing, and she searches the skies daily, hoping to see it again.

Lisettes life of obligation is upended when her fiancé and his Spanish mistress sell her to the pirate Rocco. She is drawn to the ruthless and seductive pirate and his secret to an ancient curse involving dragons, even as she seeks revenge against her betrayers. Her buried desires, for love, freedom, and even dragons, may be within her reach, if she can convince Rocco to help her.


First, she must convince him not to kill her.

* * * * *

Agent I've Met requested a full synopsis, ending and spoilers included. I won't be sharing that one with you.

BTW, in case you're wondering, this is my idea of Tristan de Rocco, pirate of the Caribbean.



Sweet dreams.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

And now, the Amazing GeeCarl will attempt the impossible!

I write one book at a time, which is hard enough sometimes, since I also write a 600-word column every week, but when I'm writing a book, I'm inhabiting that world. You might call me obsessive about it. It's hard for me to relax and have "down" time, because my head is constantly in Manuscript Land. Every attempt to watch TV, read a book, even a trip in the car makes me look out the window and wonder, "Could I drop a body by that strip mall? How much oleander does it take to kill someone? Wait--in chapter 2, I said the corpse was two weeks old, but the neighbor saw her walking down the street yesterday."


via GIPHY


This was fine when I was writing my mystery series. One story, one book, one place to shine the writing headlight. I took time off of the mystery for the Snoopy memoir, and then again to write the romantic-suspense. 

And then I wrote the fantasy.


via GIPHY

It would have been okay, if the fantasy was a standalone, one-and-done. But it's not. It's at least three books, possibly more. I really need to write the other two before I know how many more.

But I also need to write the fifth Peri book. A lovely lady paid good money at a silent auction to have her husband's name put in the story. I can't make them wait too long for it.

But the fantasy series...I'm querying that, and should I get a nibble from an agent and/or publisher (from this blog to God's ears), they will be asking for the rest of the story. I need to have something to show them.

So for the first time, ever, I am going to attempt to write two books at the same time. There will be thrills! Chills! You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be beside yourself with awe and wonder!


via GIPHY


If you see me at any time during this process, hand me a cup of coffee and a box of Kleenex. I plan to be exhausted and weeping for most of it.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Oh, no, please don't offer me free books

...said no one ever.

This weekend, I'm celebrating April Fool's Day with humor. Humor is a broad topic, and very subjective. What makes me laugh may not even make you smile. It might even make you scratch your head and say, "I don't get it." And that's the worst part about humor. If something doesn't make you laugh, do you say, "Well, that kind of humor doesn't appeal to me"?

No, you say, "That wasn't funny (because I didn't laugh)."

So let me define my "humor"--if you like situational comedy, full of gentle wit, centering around a woman with a family, a home, a car, and other things that like to foil her daily plans to be doing anything else, then have I got a deal for you.

This weekend (March 31st thru April 4th), I'm offering ALL FIVE of my humor books for FREE on Kindle. Yes, ALL FIVE. 

I know what you're thinking. Gayle, I can only read one book at a time, and my TBR pile is enormous. Even my Kindle App is sagging from the load. 

Here's the great thing about a book (or books) of essays: you don't have to read the whole book. Got some time, waiting at the doctor's office? At the curb, waiting for the kiddo to get out of school? You know if you start reading a whole novel or biography or whatever, you'll just get into it when--BAM!--"The doctor will see you now."

But you could read an essay. They say the average person reads 200 words per minute. I don't know who "they" are, but the essays in my books are around 600 words apiece. That's three minutes. In most doctors' offices, you might read four essays before you're called in. Three minutes at a time, for a complete story.

Here are the links to the books (you can also visit my brand new PROMOTION page on the website for the latest deals):

WHAT WOULD ERMA DO? CONFESSIONS OF A FIRST-TIME COLUMNIST
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004LX0D04

ARE YOU THERE ERMA? IT'S ME GAYLE
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005YOL7JA

RAISING THE PERFECT FAMILY AND OTHER TALL TALES
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B016TY4EPM

YOU'RE FROM WHERE?
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B016TZ3XRG

HOLLY JOLLY HOLIDAYS
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B016TZTZZK


Pick 'em up before April 4th--you won't be disappointed!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Of pirate girls and dragon wings

The good news about being an author-entrepreneur is that I can write whatever I want. The bad news is, I can write whatever I want. This can be a dangerous thing if your mind tends to wander, as mine does. Do people know me as a mystery author, or a humor author? Where does the Snoopy book fit into all that?

And then there came the day when I was in the shower and I thought, there's not enough books about girl pirates. As usual, I thought I'd write a little diddy, perhaps a novella or a short story, about a girl pirate and be done with it. But we know that's not what happened. Not with my little lets-go-down-the-rabbit-hole, whats-behind-this-door brain.

A full-blown fantasy novel was born, a la The Count of Monte Cristo meets Pirates of the Caribbean. There was a strong-willed young noblewoman and a sexy, dangerous pirate. It was great fun, and yet...

There came a day when I was in the shower and I thought, if I'm writing fantasy, I should have a dragon. I never get to have a dragon and I've always wanted one.

Showers are dangerous.

Just when I was about to toss a dragon into the middle of things, my buddy Jeff Michaels showed up (talk about the winds of Fate!) and reminded me to make the dragon mean something to the story. As lovely as they are, dragons can't just pop into our stories, helter-skelter.

What I ended up with was the first book of a trilogy. Now what?

Now what is that I've been convinced by several pals to query this book to agents. Will I find representation? IDK. Will I find a publisher who will give me at least some of what I want from a publisher (knowing what I know from years of self-pubbing)? IDK. Will "at least some" be enough for me to take the deal? Triple-IDK.

What I will take away from the experience, even if I end up self-pubbing, is an idea of what the traditional world thinks of my work and what they're willing to offer me to get it. Sometimes you want that opinion, that yardstick to measure you. 

I'm getting my manuscript back from my editor in about a week (yes, I still paid a professional editor to polish my words), and I'll start the querying process. We'll see how it goes. Here's my query so far:

Lisette de Lille is not excited to be marrying a local nobleman, but she is shocked when he and his Spanish mistress sell her to the pirate Rocco instead. Rocco is ruthless and seductive, and holds the secret to an ancient curse involving dragons. Lisette will do anything to avenge her kidnapping, even if it means becoming as ruthless and as seductive as her captor. But will she pay the ultimate price, of becoming a dragon herself, to bring judgment to her betrayers, or will her love for Rocco turn her heart from revenge?

In the meantime, if you want to see some of my ideas for characters, dragons, ships and whatnot, I have a Pinterest board that might interest you. https://www.pinterest.com/gaylecarline/pirate-fantasy-novel-ideas/

Monday, March 6, 2017

Let your mind alone!

The title of this year's Beauty of a Woman Blogfest entry is taken from a book of the same name by James Thurber. He is a humorist, whom I admire for about a billion reasons, and it is his quote that I use as the name of my blog. If your sense of humor is like mine, look him up. 

This post is part of the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VI! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 11th.
As always, I want to thank August for the opportunity to contribute to her tour, and do encourage you to read the other entries!


I'm also using this little movie clip, from Desk Set, with Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy:



The reason for this is to show you all that, in anything I write, I associate many things with many things, and I cannot let my mind alone.

I was in the shower one morning and said, "There are not enough girl pirates in books." I quickly decided to write a little riff on The Count of Monte Cristo, using a girl protagonist, and having her become a pirate in order to exact her revenge.

But then my mind began to wander.

Women can be badass...or can they? We can seek adventure, be rough-and-tumble gals, thirst for excitement. We can laugh at death, just like men. Unlike men, however, we have one more primal fear: rape. 

Yes, I know. Men are raped. Unless thousands of you guys tell me differently, however, I'm going to assume you don't walk down dark alleys fearing you'll be raped. Mugged, yes. Murdered, sure. 

But it's us, the females, who have that small muscle in our gut that's always strung tight. It's that fear, That Fear, that keeps us from walking down the dark alley. We may be more afraid of being sexually assaulted than of being chopped into pieces. 

My heroine, Lisette, is sold as a virgin to the pirate Rocco. I wanted her to be a bold, stubborn noblewoman, in a very fictional version of the 16th-century Caribbean. How do I handle THAT FEAR, and make her run toward danger, or at least stroll confidently in its direction?

I began by dismantling my own beliefs, my own fears, my own hangups about a woman's body, about virginity, and about how important physical touch is, in terms of utilizing all of our senses.

Once she is kidnapped, Lisette starts to question her virginity. Why is this such a sacred thing? No one waits for that special moment to say their first word, take their first step, eat their first solid food. You're ready to do it, so you just start. Why is that part of our real estate such hallowed ground, that we protect it and wait for The Right Someone (and in ye olde days, showed the stained sheets as proof on our wedding night)?

She begins to wish she was not a virgin anymore. In her words, "Just get it over with." Unfortunately, Rocco has some secrets of his own. Taking her as a lover is not exactly on his to-do list, at least not that he freely admits.

It doesn't stop her from exploring her sexuality. As she matures, she wonders why sensuality is such forbidden fruit. At one point, she asks, is it such a sin, to crave a man's touch more than, say, to enjoy a delicious meal or hear a pleasant tune?

Even as she questions what she's been taught, and rejects most of what she's learned, she still manages to experience sex on her own terms. As with many stories, she falls in love, it's complicated, and I expect it will have a happy ending--eventually. Did I mention my little riff grew up to be a trilogy?

Perhaps I let her off easy. The story is strewn with the bodies of men who try to rape her and fail. Perhaps I should have let one succeed. It is the reality for many women. As the writer, I would get to examine what kind of steel Lisette has in her backbone if she does not win one of these fights.

But this is a fantasy. My excuse is that I want her to be strong and smart and independent, and fight for what she believes, and win. I want her to embody that warrior in each of us. And a piece of me wants to open that introspective door in other women's minds--what do you really think about touch and sex and your body?

She's a pirate, yes, but in a way, she's also a superhero. All because I can't let my mind alone.

PS. I have completed the first book of the trilogy, a historical fantasy. Or perhaps it's a hysterical one--time will tell. It's currently in that state of Artistic Limbo: in the editor's hands, trying to be a book, while the Author and Editor decide whether to query an agent, look at small presses, self-pub, or toss the whole thing in the nearest bonfire. Wish me luck. Better yet, wish me the strength of a girl pirate.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Feed your head

I've begun starting my day differently for the past couple of weeks. Instead of being forced from my bed by the dogs sometime between 6 and 6:30, stumbling crankily to the kitchen to let them out and feed them, then going back to sleep on the daybed in the office, I've changed things up.

Now I do about 40 minutes of meditation and yoga instead of going back to sleep in the daybed. It dawned on me that my little gray cells, as Poirot called them, are not just a little cluster of creative thoughts and ideas. My brain is a physical entity, an organ, like my lungs and my appendix. (Some days, especially like my appendix--it takes up space in my body and no one knows what it does.) It needs blood flow, just like everything else in my body. 

They say it takes 21 days of repetition to make something a habit, but after only 10 days, I discovered I really can't get through my day without it. I felt immediate results the first day, in my energy level, and my mental clarity.

When I announced this on social media, one of my friends said, "How do you make yourself concentrate? My mind tends not only to wander, but to sprint here and there." 

Here's the thing: At no point did I say I was good at meditating. I just said I did it. Only about 8-10 minutes a day, but I do my best. My mind is like a 4-year-old who is supposed to stay in line with Mom at the store, except there are interesting shiny things and candy over in the displays. She keeps wandering away, and I keep taking her hand and leading her back into line. I work every day at making her stay longer, but I don't know if I'll ever be 100% successful.




I've tried different approaches. First, I tried staring at a fixed point. I have a turquoise bin at eye level that is a perfect blank canvas, but my eyes catch glimpses of the books on the shelves next to it, and I feel ironic when I am trying to claim my inner peace and calm with "Forensics for Dummies" staring back at me.

Then I tried a mantra. I couldn't use a phrase. Phrases are words, which make me think of other words, which make me chatty. I started with the standard "Om" instead. My morning voice is lower than my regular tone, so the "Om" was rather husky. This reminded me of foghorns and ships coming into port and noir movies about ne'er-do-wells trying for their big break.

I gave up on the mantra.

What works best, so far, is to close my eyes, take three large breaths, then focus on the air coming into my nose, then out of my mouth, then in, then out, then repeat. My 4-year-old still wanders, looking at my schedule for the day, remembering something that happened yesterday, trying to remind me to look up the definition of some word, what kundalini yoga entails, sikhism, etc. I continue to take her by the hand and lead her back to my breath. 

After 8-10 minutes, I put on some yoga music I found on Amazon, and stretch everything out. I do whatever feels good in the moment, but there are a few poses I always hit:

1. Downward Dog--one way to get the blood flowing to your head is to be upside down.
2. Warrior--it's a nice stretch and I like the pose's name. Makes me feel invincible.
3. Sun salutations--greet the day, why not? Hello, morning! Again, another chance for my head to be upside down in a forward fold.
4. Tree pose--Balance is important to me, and it surprised me, when I began working with my personal trainer, how much of it I had lost. I don't want to fall, especially as I grow older.

Then I spend about 5 minutes on some little journal entries to give a shape and intention to my day, and voila! My brain has been nudged into consciousness. 

(No need for the pill to make me larger...BTW, what's that little blob laying on the bass?)





What are your rituals for beginning your day?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Guardians of honesty come in all kinds

I know it's been forever since I've posted. I still adore you all, I'm just rushing down that deadline road, and I don't seem to have any brakes. It's hard to be focused on one manuscript's editing, another manuscript's genesis, and have to stop to write a column. Blog? I need more words for the blog?

So I'm pausing briefly to show you two characters in my office. I was going to give these away (I still might), along with the several (50, maybe?) other stuffed critters in my closet, but I decided I would hang on to these fellas for a little bit longer.




I assume you know Jiminy Cricket. I like him because he reminds me to let my conscience be my guide. But who's his friend on the left?





Eugene the Jeep, from Popeye. When I used to watch the old Popeye cartoons, Eugene was in a few, and always causing chaos. I thought he was the perfect yin to Jiminy's yang. Then I read up on Eugene the Jeep. Here's what Professor Brainstine told Popeye in a 1936 comic strip:

"A Jeep is an animal living in a three dimensional world—in this case our world—but really belonging to a fourth dimensional world. Here's what happened. A number of Jeep life cells were somehow forced through the dimensional barrier into our world. They combined at a favorable time with free life cells of the African Hooey Hound. The electrical vibrations of the Hooey Hound cell and the foreign cell were the same. They were kindred cells. In fact, all things are, to some extent, relative, whether they be of this or some other world, now you see. The extremely favorable conditions of germination in Africa caused a fusion of these life cells. So the uniting of kindred cells caused a transmutation. The result, a mysterious strange animal."


Here's what you need to know about him: 1) He can teleport; and 2) He always tells the truth. The chaos he leaves in his wake is because he's always disappearing and reappearing in places, and he cannot lie, not even to save his friends.



So now I have two little guardian plushies, one to tell me to always be good and honest, and the other to remind me that you can be impish with it. A perfect pair.

Do you have any guardian cartoon characters?

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