"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, 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

Friday, December 4, 2015

A writer's list for Santa

It's Friday night, and once again, I'm thinking I want to go out, but just can't seem to light a fire under my own tushie to make it happen. This means it will be popcorn and wine for dinner again. In the meantime, I was thinking about Christmas presents, and writing, and this came out:

For those of you with a writer in your house, first of all, thank you for being so supportive. We appreciate all the times you’ve ignored our mumbling about what our imaginary people are doing in their make-believe worlds. We love it when you don’t notice the household chores we haven’t quite completed because we just need to finish this one paragraph. Thank you.

You’re probably wondering what to get us for Christmas this year. Here are some helpful hints, ranging in price from expensive to free, but all priceless to a writer:

1. Books. I know, this sounds weird to you. We write books, why would we want to receive them as presents? The thing is, writers need to read other writers. We need to know what the market out there is doing, what people are buying, and there’s nothing like a well told story to bring us joy and inspire us to do our best. That’s why we write, after all. One caveat: writers like to read books about the craft of writing, but I recommend you let your writer buy those, so they don’t think you lack confidence in their ability. Perhaps you could put a gift card to a bookstore in their stocking.

2. Conferences. As much as we need to read, we need to be in the company of other writers. If you are serious about writing, you are always looking for ways to improve. Workshops about craft, talking about character and plot with other writers, finding a mentor, these are all ways that we get better. Are conferences expensive? They can be. They are also an investment in your writer’s writing. If you don’t know which conference your writer would like to attend, you can start by Googling “writer conference (insert your state here)”, then look at reviews and testimonials. I, of course, recommend the SouthernCalifornia Writers Conference for an example of great workshops, friendly writers, and exceptional mentors.

3. Writing tools. Does your writer need a new computer? A printer? Maybe your writer is old school, meaning journals with lots of blank pages to fill. Timers are good for writing sprints. Pens, pencils, and printer ink make great stocking stuffers. Even a new pair of drugstore reading glasses, or a mug for their favorite inspirational drink.

4. A retreat. This is admittedly a high-end present, but every writer dreams of that weekend spent away from real life, hunkered down and doing nothing but finishing that novel. Maybe it’s a cabin in the mountains, or a place on the beach. It might even be an RV in the desert. As long as there’s plenty of food and drink, and no phone or internet.

5. Uninterrupted time. This costs the least and means the most. Chances are, your writer has to smuggle their minutes of deep-writing time in between work and family. To understand that, and resist the temptation to interrupt their groove, is the meaning of true writerly love.

6. Interest in their work (even if it’s feigned). Another freebie, if done correctly. Interest in their work can include asking them about how the latest story is coming along, and telling them how lucky you are to know such a creative person. More listening than talking is involved. P.S. Asking them if they’re ever going to finish that novel, whether they’ve heard from an agent, or how their sales are going are all forbidden topics. It's like putting a lump of coal in their stockings.

Any one of these gifts will make your writer very happy this Christmas. I know they’d make me happy!

Writer friends, is there anything else you want to add to Santa’s list?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Mrs. Carline Builds Her Dream Dragon

I'm spending today waiting for my new floors to arrive, watching the Turner Classic Movie channel, and working on the next book. (Side note for new authors: working on the next book keeps you from thinking about what is happening with the book you just completed. Mine's with beta readers.)

TCM is showing "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House", thus the title for this post. Cary Grant and Myrna Loy are a New York city couple who buy a dilapidated house in Connecticut and decide to fix it up, instead of razing it and starting anew. As you can imagine, hilarity ensues.

This is exactly where I am in the new book, although I'm not certain that hilarity will follow. I started writing a fantasy about a girl pirate some time ago. It began as a riff on "The Count of Monte Cristo." A young girl is betrayed by her friends and is carried off by pirates to be sold to a wealthy psycho. She avoids her fate, becomes a wealthy pirate, and returns home to collect her pound of flesh from her so-called friends. 

When I started writing, the book was in third person, and the young noblewoman, Lisette, is betrothed to another noble, but is more attracted to the village farrier. The farrier is teaching Lisette to fight with a sword, much against her mother's wishes. Lisette is an independent girl, straining at society's leash, but aware that her obedience is necessary to serve the family she loves.

My first change of heart was with the voice of the book. I've decided first person would be better. The reader needs to bond with Lisette. I went back through what I'd written and edited it to reflect "I, me, mine" instead of "she, her, hers."

Then I dreamed of dragons. I'm writing a fantasy - shouldn't there be dragons? Not just dragons for dragons' sake. My theme is revenge. Its cost. Its rewards. Vengeance is a favorite topic at the moment, if you read the news. But does the prize justify the price?

I invented a new myth, the myth of Blood-dragons. In my myth, blood-dragons are horse-sized creatures, and were once human. If a human has been wronged egregiously (either murder of a loved one or personal ruin), and cannot get retribution, they can appropriate the blood of one of these creatures. One drop on their lips will turn them into a blood-dragon.

They remain human during daylight, and only morph (dusk til dawn) for the 10 days from the waning crescent to the waxing crescent of the moon. To defeat their enemy, they have tough skin, long talons, fire breath, oh, and a little bit of magic, mostly in the form of hypnosis and mind control. And while they are a blood-dragon, they are immortal.

Once a blood-dragon either avenges their wrong or no longer feels the need for revenge, the spell is broken and they return to their mortal, normal human state. They have one year to fulfill their thirst for revenge. If they fail, or if their heart is still black with hate, they will remain a blood-dragon forever.

All this means that I must raze the old story and build a new one. Good thing I've got all day to wait for the new floors to arrive.

These have a general look of the dragon I'm dreaming about, with some changes.

What do you think? 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Tomorrow kicks off the traditional holiday season, and I'm torn between weeping from sentiment and weeping from sadness. The tears seem to come from different directions, but perhaps they are two branches of the same river.

My love and gratitude for family and friends bubbles over into sentimentality. My sadness at what's going on in the world wounds me to my soul. Each of these feeds the other--I fear for my loved ones, because I'm aware of how much I love them, and want them to be safe, because...

I'm sure you get the idea.

The world is in such a state, such a state. There is much to fear, and of everything, I think I'm most afraid of being afraid. Churchill was right. A fearful creature assumes "fight or flight" position. If I am afraid of the world, I shall either lock all the doors and hide away, or get out the kitchen knives and prepare to meet my enemies.

And when you're afraid, everyone's your enemy.

Full disclosure: you can call me a bleeding heart. I don't like the term "liberal" any more than I like "conservative." I don't understand what those terms mean anymore. I'm a woman who sees pain in the world and wants to make it go away. I know I haven't seen the seamy underbelly of human existence, and I do believe there are people who are evil. Believe it or not, I do believe in the death penalty for some people. I'm just not willing to paint everyone with one broad stroke.

I'm also not willing to be so afraid of the world that I want to turn people away from our borders, or tag people because they belong to the "wrong" religion or in any way treat people as though they are not the same as me.

And seeing the frailty of life makes me want to keep my loved ones even closer. I want to hug a little tighter, linger a little longer, share all the moments with all the feels. I even want to spend more time with my pets. My life seems so full of blessings, I think I might explode with joy.

This Thanksgiving, I'm all sappy with gratitude for what I have, and aware of what others need. Now more than ever, I possess a deep desire to make life better in my little corner of the world, and hope I can pass the torch to someone else for their corner.

Recently, I got a snippet-of-a-snippet of a song stuck in my head. I went to the internet to find the rest of the song, and I was surprised at how timely it was.

I know we can make it if we try. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

All the feels

I'm supposed to be editing, but it's Sunday evening and I just got home from a really fun wine tasting with my horse buddies, and everyone knows you write drunk and edit sober. I'm not technically drunk, or even buzzing, but I'm using that saying to take a brief break.

This post was supposed to be about my son and his last recital and how it all went down. This was his composition recital. According to him, the concert was for "people who really love him." I wasn't certain what to expect, but I confess I was disappointed when he told me he wouldn't be performing any of the music. 

"The professors don't want us writing music for ourselves," he told me. "Which is weird, since most successful artists are the ones that write their own music."


Anyway, what we were treated to was a portfolio of what he can do. There were pieces for different instruments, songs for soloists and choirs, scores for film, all culminating in a 20-minute "student project."

All in all, everything was musical and entertaining, and not as weird and atonal and "out there" as I thought it might be. Being his mom, I get all sparkly-eyed when I hear anything he does, so I'm no judge as to whether the music was good, but the audience liked it. 

"It Was Beginning Winter"

And then, he stepped on stage and conducted his student project, and I was sent into a deep, meaningful thought process for days. I'd like to tell you about the music, but honestly, I don't remember the music. I only remember the feelings.

The name of the piece was "It's All Too Much," and it began with a statement that we are overwhelmed with information via the internet and the media, followed by examples proving that statement. The examples built up, from benign information, to the daily bad news we are bombarded with, until the entire orchestra, singers, and even Marcus were screaming at each other about all the horrors in the news, what should be done about them, and an insistence that ignoring a tragedy makes one an emotional Nazi. 

As the screams reached a crescendo, Marcus stormed off the stage, then there was a sudden silence, followed by music and a song/recitation of a web comic called CatFoxWolf on tumblr, titled "Disquiet." (it's in three parts, the Part one beginning here - http://catfoxwolf.tumblr.com/post/56075944959/disquiet-part-i-of-ii-part-ii-is-here-i). Basically, the idea in the comic is that we are an amazing species, built by incredible circumstances, with such a unique and complex range of emotions, it would be insane to think we should confine ourselves to just "happy."

As much as we sometimes fight against some of our more raw, frightening feelings, they are necessary in order to be our full selves. And the last line of the comic, the last line of Marcus' piece, was so Marcus, I wanted to weep:

"Everything's gonna be okay."

I was all set to discuss this generation and the grand possibility that they were embracing their feelings and we would someday see the end of Strength = Not Feeling, Real Men (or Big Girls) Don't Cry, and know that we were moving toward enlightenment. 

Then I saw two things on Facebook, of different weights, but the same feeling. One of my friends posted today was the anniversary of her son's death. Another friend posted that her dog had (much wanted) puppies, and they had all died. I know there is no comparison between a human and a puppy, but the awfulness is still there, that here is New Life, wrapped in Joy and Expectations, and Life is Not. Supposed. To. Do. This. 

And I feel all the bad feelings of grief and anger and poignancy, and I don't want to. I'd rather not be such a normal, unique being and have these emotions. But they make the other feelings, of happiness and sweet joy, so much bigger. 

So this post is a reminder to cherish all the feels, whether you like them or not. Hug your children, too.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

BOO! From me to you.

October has been a busy month for me. When I'm not actually going somewhere and doing something, I'm in front of my computer, editing the 4th Peri book. I was going to call it "Married to Death" but I think that's going to be the title of the 5th book, which means I'm also constantly thinking of titles for this one and rolling them around in my brain.

Tonight is Halloween, and I'm normally both frazzled from hanging the decorations at the last minute and excited to see all the little superheroes and princesses who show up at my door. Plus, there's candy. Unfortunately for the little goblins and goblinettes, tonight I will be in Long Beach, watching this guy give his final recital.

Marcus, aka Jimi Hendrix, for Halloween

Last night, however, I got to dress up and go to a Masquerade Ball, hosted by the Placentia Library. It's their yearly Staff Appreciation Dinner, and they always do it up big. Last year was a costume party. This year, we put on our fancy clothes and bought cheap-yet-pretty masks to wear. 

I'm still wondering about the masquerade balls they threw in the olden days - how is it that you could remain mysterious and anonymous with one little mask? Especially one on a stick?

Here I am, looking all put together.

The mask was surprisingly comfy.

What you don't see behind the scenes is that it took me over an hour to get that way. For the first time EVER IN MY LIFE, I wore false eyelashes. Did really big, drama eyes, which called for big drama lashes. I got them on, more or less (I still need to work on getting the corners to conform to my lids), and wondered whether they'd stay on all evening or suddenly pop up unannounced, the way I've seen some women's falsies do.

They stayed.

I'm also wearing an outfit that has some kind of glitter on the cloth. Glitter that comes off, everywhere. It was like glitter dandruff. When I wore the outfit first, years and years ago, Dale was kvetching about having glitter on his suit and in the car, and I felt bad. Last night, I'm watching the trail of sparkle in my wake and thinking, "How wonderful, that at my age, I can still make the world a more sparkly place."

Here's my handsome date, Dale. I tried to find a Phantom of the Opera mask, but this was the best I could do.

I should mention the necklace I'm wearing. Ever meet someone and click with them right away and almost feel like you have shared a lifetime, even though you lived on opposite shores, had different families, and nothing about your external life is alike? I have a friend like that. We had never met, and when we did, we couldn't stop talking, and when we had to part, it was difficult. She gave me a necklace that her Welsh grandmother had given to her. I wore it last night for the first time, and not only did it look fabulous, it was like having the arms of ancestors wrapping around me, keeping me warm.

And now I must run off to the ranch and get my work done so I can come home, clean up, and run off to the recital. I'll leave you with a piece Marcus did last year. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Survival of the fittest. Or the most hydrated.

I was prepared for the Placentia Heritage Festival. I had my booth layout calculated and rehearsed. I had a cute and cool outfit to wear for the anticipated 96-degree heat. I had my cowboy hat with the tiara on it to keep the sun off my face during the parade.

What I wasn't prepared for was that the weatherman was slightly wrong. It wasn't a 96-degree day. It was 107 degrees. 

That kind of heat is all kinds of trouble. It started with the parade. We had a record number of marching bands, 30 of them, filing past the reviewing stand to be judged. It's important to these schools, so they want to look and sound their best. 

Guess what happens when you dress teenagers in polyester and wool and hand them tubas to play in 107-degree heat? By the time the fourth ambulance went screaming by, they cancelled the parade and shuffled us down to the park.

My booth was ready and waiting, staffed by my trusty assistant, Marcus. I'm usually over there by 11 a.m., but with all the bodies fainting in the parade, I didn't arrive until noon. At least the booth looked good, and several people had come by to reserve their books. They returned, so I could sign their purchases.

Even Dino showed up.

I'd like to say that the heat wasn't an issue, but it was brutal and relentless. My cute and cool outfit was drenched, which didn't matter since there were very few people even wandering by the booth. I did have a few people come out to see me, which I appreciated beyond words. Thank you, Rick and Linda Ochocki, Kathy Abell, Michelle, Pat, Stephen Connell, Dan and Cathy Lekawa, and probably a few more that I can't remember due to my own personal heatstroke.

My Sister-in-Crime Right-Hand Gal Pal, Pat Broeske endured the heat!

Michelle Knowlden, local OC author extraordinaire, stopped by!

At the end of the day (which came early, because the organizers realized we were in a dress rehearsal for hell), I did sell a number of books. However, I didn't give away nearly enough of the prizes. Of my 6 baskets, I only gave three away. One of them will remain in my heart forever.

Just as the staff was announcing that we'd be closing an hour early, I spotted a familiar face at my booth. An older lady, named Penny, whom I'd met years ago at our Concerts in the Park, came by. She was shocked and thrilled that I remembered her name.

As we talked, I learned the years had been unkind to my friend. Now 76, she had a stroke last year, and was semi-dependent upon wearing an oxygen mask. I was actually worried that she would overheat. She told me that she still read my column every week.

I smiled and grabbed one of my baskets. "You know what you need?" I told her. "A prize for being my favorite reader."

She was over-the-moon happy. Did she buy anything? No. Do I care? No. I care that she enjoys her life, and if I can help, I'm happy to do it.

I packed up and headed home, where I slept for two days, due to heat exhaustion, I believe. Next year, we're all wearing t-shirts with this on them:

People are now asking when my new books will be available as ebooks. You can expect them on or before Halloween. Stay tuned, but in the meantime, you can pick up a paperback from Amazon, B&N, or any independent bookstore.

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/

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