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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

WIP Wednesday - The Pendulum Files

I've been working on two books simultaneously - The Pendulum Files, which will be the fifth book in the Black Swamp Mysteries series (following Exit 22, Vicki's Key, Secrets of a Dangerous Woman and Dylan's Song) and The Tempest Murders, a stand-alone to be released this fall.

At the end of Dylan's Song, Dylan discovers in his native Ireland that Vicki is expecting his child. In The Pendulum Files, they are back in America and Dylan proposes to Vicki at a local restaurant, The Village Station. The restaurant is real and if you're ever in the Lumberton, North Carolina area where the series takes place, I highly recommend it.

Meanwhile, Brenda Carnegie is on house arrest when they discover that Joseph Gabucci, the hired assassin who killed Brenda's partner-in-crime in Exit 22 and tried to murder her and Christopher Sandige, has escaped from prison - and is after her again. Her ordeal includes escaping a bomb only to be captured by Gabucci. It also includes a high speed chase across Fort Bragg, the military installation about 30 miles northwest of Lumberton.

Christopher Sandige is out of a job since he testified before Congress about his boss' involvement in illegal activities. It's an election year and he's having to sit things out on Dylan's couch while others strategize and plot to have their person elected. He won't be on the couch for long, though. With Brenda around, there is never a dull moment - and Chris finds himself pulled into her flight from Gabucci once again.

If you've read the series, what would you like to see happen to the characters in future books?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday Teaser - The Real Ghosts

Last Tuesday, I ran an excerpt from Vicki's Key that took place when Vicki awakens in the middle of the night and sees a ghost in the bathroom mirror.

Some of the ghosts in the book are based on real sightings.

One such ghost is called the Lady in White. She has been seen multiple times at the Carolina Civic Center, a beautiful and historic theatre in Lumberton's downtown. She is dressed all in white, though some have reported that the dress is a white background with a pastel or light pattern. It is a style reminiscent of the 1940's or earlier, when women dressed in their finest to attend the theatre.

She appears on the balcony of the theatre. She glides from one side of the balcony seating to the other, and simply disappears through the wall.

I got the idea of using ghosts in the book when I attended a Robeson County Arts Council meeting at the Carolina Civic Center. I arrived early and while I waited for others, the theatre's Director told me about various ghost sightings there. Some, like the Lady in White, have never harmed anyone - though she has startled quite a few.

But one has been reported to push the employees down a back flight of steps. It generally happens after the play or event has finished and the audience and performers have left. One or two employees would remain behind to check the entire building before completely locking up. It is during this check that two have reported feeling someone's hand on their back just before they are shoved forward and downward. No one has ever been hurt, though you can imagine the impact to them emotionally and mentally as they grab for the railing to stop their fall...

Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever seen one?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Musings - Hooked on Copper

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that someone urged me to watch the BBC America series, Copper. She thought I would enjoy it because there are a number of actors in the series who could easily play the role of Dylan Maguire (in the Black Swamp Mysteries series) or of Ryan O'Clery in my upcoming book, The Tempest Murders.

I was lost when I started watching the current show, so I went back to the first show of the first season. I've now finished watching the entire first season and have started on the second.

And I have to say I am completely hooked.

Over time, I have become very interested in the main characters. I found that I've reached the point where it doesn't much matter about the specific plot for the episode. What matters is how the characters are evolving and how the threads that tie each episode together wanes and flows, revealing more layers to each individual.

The backdrop is 1860's New York, specifically the Five Points area where a large number of Irish immigrants lived in slums and squalor.

There's Annie, a young girl who was married at the age of ten and who barely looks older than that now. However, she can manipulate with the best of them and her street savvy never fails to astonish me. Whoever dreamed up her character is a genius.

Of course, there's the main character, Kevin Corcoran, an Irish Detective who, at the beginning of Season I, has returned from fighting in the Civil War to find his wife has disappeared and their daughter is dead. The thread that weaves its way through Season I has him following leads in an attempt to find out whether his wife is alive or dead, and what happened to her and his only child.

I became very upset with Francis Maguire, a fellow Irish Detective who, it turns out, was quite capable of crossing the line and murdering at least two women in an attempt to keep his secret hidden. I like Maguire (the common surname with the main character in my Black Swamp Mysteries series notwithstanding) and I was very upset with him for moving so far to the dark side. I've reached the episode in Season II where he's brought back into the New York Police Department and he must work with Kevin Corcoran again. That will surely make sparks fly. (Shown above: Kevin Corcoran (played by Tom Weston-Jones) on the left and Francis Maguire (played by Kevin Ryan) on the right.)

I find myself more drawn to Robert Morehouse's character, also. He began with the persona of a spoiled, frequently drunken rich kid. But then I learned he'd lost a leg during the Civil War and Kevin and an escaped slave, Matthew Freeman, saved his life. When Southerners plot to set New York on fire before the end of the war, he shows his true personality and strength when he works undercover to foil their plans.

Do you watch certain series because you enjoy the characters? Do you read series books because you already know the characters and you want to know what happens to them?


Friday, July 26, 2013

Freaky Friday - Are We the Freaks?

In H.G.Well's book, War of the Worlds, it isn't military superiority or human ingenuity that destroys the alien invaders. It is the bacteria on Earth.

Scientists who study other planets have asked the question: Are we the freaks because we have managed to live and thrive in an environment completely filled with bacteria?


In some ancient cave drawings and sculptures from ancient civilizations, they seem to depict beings in space suits. Could we have been visited by aliens in ancient times - but they had to wear the space suits so our personal bacteria and the bacteria found on Earth did not kill them?


Do you believe in life on other planets? Do you believe they might have traveled to Earth at some time in our past?

I love writing about conspiracies. When I look at the cave drawings, sculptures and art from around the world depicting the same type of beings in the same type of "space suits" I wonder about a book plot involving the world's governments and their combined efforts to keep the general population from learning that we have been visited by beings from other planets. The reason they'd keep it secret is simple: learning that we are not the only beings in the Universe would turn everything we've been taught upside down. Would it also lead to a breakdown of our civilization as we know it?

What do you think?


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

I watched a biography on Mark Twain this past weekend. I never really thought about the fact that he self-published his books, beginning with The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Even when he was known throughout the world, was traveling the lecture circuit and was considered the most recognized man on the face of the earth, he was still self-publishing.

Yet I haven't seen anything that tells me why.

It seems to me that the largest publishers would have paid him a personal visit to convince him to publish his books with them, but they remained with his own publishing company until the company went out of business in 1894. It experienced financial failure. Turns out, he published his own books, which did quite well, and his friend's Ulysses S. Grant's autobiography, Personal Memoirs, which also did well. But then he published a number of other autobiographies, including Tecumseh Sherman's and the Pope's, which flopped.

In Mark Twain's autobiography, he said, "All publishers are Columbuses. The successful author is their America. The reflection that they--like Columbus--didn't discover what they expected to discover, and didn't discover what they started out to discover, doesn't trouble them. All they remember is that they discovered America; they forget that they started out to discover some patch or corner of India."

His life was fascinating, especially considering the personal tragedy he faced while still churning out humorous vocabulary.


What also struck me during the biography was Arthur Miller's comments about why Mark Twain was never a good businessman. He said (and I am paraphrasing) that creative people such as writers can see the possibilities in an invention or a course of action; they have a vision that others might not share. But perhaps because they see the possibilities, because they have that vision, they often don't see the side that businessmen look for: the fatal flaw in the plan, the financial aspect, the potential for failure.

Do you like Mark Twain's books? Which is your favorite?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

WIP Wednesday - Cover Reveal

I am excited about The Tempest Murders, which will be released this fall just in time for the holidays.

The cover reflects the scene leading up to the climactic end. During the height of Hurricane Irene, Detective Ryan O'Clery steals a boat in a frantic attempt to reach the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which has been cut off from the rest of the state by the hurricane flooding the roads. Ryan is trying to reach his soul mate, Cathleen Reilly, before the killer reaches her first...

He believes the same killer ended her previous life two centuries earlier in the worst storm in Ireland's history, leaving him a broken man. Now he is in an epic struggle to prevent history from repeating itself.

Do you believe in reincarnation?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tuesday Teaser - Things That Go Bump in the Night

Below is an excerpt from Vicki's Key. Vicki has moved into the old, rambling mansion that is filled with ghostly appearances, ice-cold rooms, and blood seeping through the bathtub. Laurel Maguire, the old woman who Vicki was hired to help, is confined to the third floor bedroom and her nephew Dylan has arrived from Ireland to help. Dylan's room is upstairs from Vicki's.

The room was plunged into darkness. She bolted for the doorway, only to run directly into the doorjamb. Grabbing her injured arm, she struggled into the bedroom, screaming hysterically as if the woman in the mirror had wrapped her cold arms around her. As she stumbled through the darkened room, she scattered items from the dresser. They clattered to the hardwood floor and became obstacles in her path, causing her to stagger through the room.
Tara’s Theme began to play as the walnut jewelry box toppled to the floor, its contents strewn. The china vase shattered, each jagged piece finding her bare feet, slicing into them. As she stumbled in the darkness trying to find the door, the thorns from the silk roses stabbed her with the same ferocity as real thorns.
She fell to her knees, cutting one on a piece of glass, before coming back to her feet and faltering toward the door.
In the lengthening shadows the doorway had become a cavernous opening, and she squinted in a futile effort to see it more clearly.
She had come within a few feet of the door when the lights flickered back on and she was left standing face to face with Dylan.
His hair was tousled and his face was pale, his eyes wide and unblinking. His mouth was slightly open as if he was trying to form words but they wouldn’t come. He was shirtless and barefoot. And he was holding a gun.
When the lights came back on and the house came alive with the buzz of electricity, she continued to scream as if she had no control over her own voice.
Dylan stood near the door, staring at her. Finally, during a lull in her screaming, he said, “What the bloody hell is goin’ on in here?”
She pointed to his side. “You—you have a gun!”
“What did you expect me to have? A plate o' cookies?” Then without waiting for an answer, he continued, “Christ, Woman! You woke me up from a sound sleep screamin’ like a banshee. And I still don’t know what you’re havin’ on about!”
Vicki placed her hands on her knees and tried to catch her breath. In the lit room, it seemed hard to believe that a gory scene existed just behind her in the bathroom. With Dylan’s eyes still upon her, she managed to point behind her. “Go look in the bathroom.”
“Why?”
“Just—go look. I can’t describe it.”
He remained still for a moment before motioning toward the bed. “Get over there and sit down.” His voice was authoritative and no-nonsense. She started toward the bed when he added, “Watch your step. You’re bleedin’.”

“I know,” she managed to say as she reached the bed and sat down. It felt like every muscle in her body was quivering. Dylan slowly made his way across the room, stepping around the shards of glass that littered the floor. When he reached the bathroom, he pushed the door all the way open so it thudded against the back of the wall before he peered inside. A moment later, he stepped into the room, his gun ready.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Musings - Layers of Personality

My fans know I am a people watcher, and I often get ideas for characters by observing other people, noting their quirks and habits, and interweaving traits with those of others. It's often through people watching that I am able to develop multi-layered personalities for the characters in my books.

A few years ago I worked for a short time with a woman who was physically very attractive; the kind of woman one would envision as a beauty pageant contender when younger. She was very outgoing, always had a smile on her face, and always greeted people with a big wave of the arm and a "hello" you couldn't miss for a quarter of a mile.

She'd been born in a very rural area into a family who could barely make ends meet and raised by extended family members. But she'd "married well" as my aunts used to say, and found herself one of the nouveau riche.

That's where the plot thickens.

As I worked with her, I found out that every morning and several times throughout the day, she checked on all of her holdings to find out how much more money had been earned while she slept or had her nails manicured. She became obsessed with money to the point that nothing else mattered to her.

She and some of her family members were near my table at a signing and she kept the broad, beautiful smile on her face, called across to everyone she knew, all the while whispering to those closest to her horrible things about each person. If they weren't dressed to the hilt, or as beautiful as a movie star, or had as much money as the Rockefellers, she was witheringly critical.

I never said a word nor does she know I overheard her. But I logged the information into the back of my mind. What better antagonist in a book than a beautiful woman who no one would ever suspect, but who has a dark, subversive personality seething just under the surface?

What do you think is more dangerous - an antagonist who looks the part or one who seamlessly blends in with their surroundings?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Freaky Friday - Androids

Last Friday, I talked about DARPA and their research and development of sophisticated robots. I'd come across their website and information about their work while researching my latest book, The Pendulum Files, which is due to be released in the spring of 2014.

At another end of the spectrum, there's the development of androids that look, act -- and some say will one day think -- like humans.

Below is a video of one research company in the United States that is using Albert Einstein's famous face on their android in an attempt to mimic facial expressions:



And the Japanese are making tremendous strides in making lifelike androids:





Imagine the future as the military robots capable of performing tremendous feats are combined with the lifelike features of androids.
 
Then science fiction doesn't seem like "fiction" so much anymore, does it?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thursday Thoughts - On Promoting a Series

Until 2012, all of my books were stand-alone, which meant that readers did not need to read any particular book first. There were a couple that had the same characters, such as the true story of Mary Neely in River Passage and Songbirds are Free. But if you read them in reverse order, you would still understand what was happening with each character.

But in 2012, the Black Swamp Mysteries series was launched, due to the popularity of Exit 22, which introduced Brenda Carnegie and Christopher Sandige.

Vicki's Key introduced two new characters, Vicki Boyd and Dylan Maguire, so the reader didn't need to read Exit 22 in order to understand what was happening.

In Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, all four characters came together - and what transpires in that book keeps these characters together for the rest of the series, either through blood or circumstance.

So Dylan's Song, which was released in early 2013, picks up where Secrets leaves off... And if you didn't read the first few books in the series, you'd find yourself kind of... lost.

I thought about this recently when someone suggested that I watch the BBC television series, Copper, about New York during the era of the Civil War. Turns out it has quite a few Irish hunks on it - actors who could easily play Dylan Maguire (Black Swamp Mysteries series) or Ryan O'Clery (The Tempest Murders).

But I found myself completely lost when I watched the first show of this season. Turns out, I didn't understand the relationship between the men and women and children... And I didn't understand what was going on.

So I had to go back to Season I to watch those first critical episodes that explains who everyone is, where they came from, who they're related to, and so on.

Has this happened to you, either in a book or with a television series?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

WIP Wednesday - It's All in the Details

I received a compliment the other day that really means a lot to me. It came from an editor who routinely works with bestselling authors. He said the car chase scene in my upcoming book, The Tempest Murders, was one of the very best he'd ever read.

The car chase occurs because Detective Ryan O'Clery spots the serial killer who had eluded capture. He is sitting in a parking lot at the time and in his haste to get him, the car jumps the curb and there is a hot pursuit, taking them both through a small town and then into the countryside, where he can see other law enforcement joining in the chase across the low-lying fields.

The chase scene takes several pages. At first glance, the action is rapid-fire, frenetic and emotion-charged. But in writing it, everything has to be slowed down to minute detail. The scene took days to write because what the reader encounters in each paragraph is action-charged, blow-by-blow detail.

There are many times in which I have to slow down the action to such minute detail: during fight scenes, for example, the reader encounters each movement much like a person in the 1930's sat beside a radio and listened to the blow-by-blow description of a boxing match or baseball game. I, the author, am the eyes and ears of the reader as I am writing those scenes. Though they might read in three minutes what it took me thirty hours to write, every sentence, every description, every emotion must be felt as if they are right there in the driver's seat... or the pitcher's mound... or the boxing ring.

What is one of the most memorable scenes you've ever read by any author?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tuesday Teaser - Green Eyes

I had an interesting conversation last week with one of my editors, who said that every book she's read lately has featured a male lead with green or hazel eyes. She said she found it very interesting because less than 19% of the world's population has green/hazel eyes, and in less than one hundred years, it's expected that blue and/or green eyes will be almost nonexistent.

My entire family has green or hazel eyes; my father's eyes are green and my mother's (who is now deceased) were hazel. But both were of Irish descent. In Ireland, green eyes are still encountered regularly, as they are in Scotland and England.

The residents of Nordic countries (Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway) often have blue eyes.

But brown eyes are dominant. Those of Asian, African, Hispanic/Latino, Indian and many others have brown eyes. So as residents of various countries regularly marry those from outside the lands of their ancestors, it is far more likely that the light-colored eyes are not passed on to their children.

In the United States as of May 2013:

32% of the population has blue or grey irises;

15% has blue, green or grey irises with brown or golden flecks;

12% has green or light brown irises with minimal flecks;

and 41% of the population has brown irises ranging from brown to dark brown.

(Statistics from the American Academy of Ophthalmology)

When you are reading a book, is there a particular eye color you like to read about? One you like to picture? Is it brown, blue, green or hazel?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Musing - What It Takes

I overheard someone lately who said he would love to be a writer because they only work when they feel like it and yet they earn six-and-seven figure incomes.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

To be a success in this business (and it IS a business, regardless of how much some of us love it) a writer must often work 40, 50 or more hours each and every week. About half that time is actually spent in the act of writing. The other half is everything else that comes along with the trrritory.

Years ago, when I first entered this business, the writer's job was to write. Once the book was accepted by a publisher and in the production, release and promotional cycle, the publisher did the bulk of marketing and promotion... Getting press releases to the media, getting sales information to the wholesalers and retailers, and raising the profile of the book.

But when companies began to get "leaner and meaner", one of the tasks that publishers pushed onto the author was the marketing and promotional efforts. This includes everything from getting reviews, getting in newspapers, magazines, and blogs; getting featured on the radio and television; scheduling book signings, talks and appearances; and trying to figure out in every way imaginable how to reach the ultimate consumer, the reader.

Once an author's book is published, the job changes dramatically. From that point forward, the job becomes half writing and half promotion.

While I am writing one book (The Pendulum Files) I am editing another book (The Tempest Murders) and I am promoting the Black Swamp Mysteries series. In June and July, it means promoting Vicki's Key, in August and September, it's Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, and in October and November it will be Dylan's Song.

It doesn't matter whether the author is with a small publisher or one of The Big Five New York publishers. The promotion and the marketing falls squarely on the author's back. If the author happens to already have millions of followers - such as a repeat bestselling author or a celebrity of some sort - then some marketing dollars are budgeted for the book, proportional to how many millions of books the publisher expects to sell.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Freaky Friday - When Life Imitates Art

I recently reread I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. I'd read it years ago but became interested in it once again when I came across some research into the use of robotics in the military. The book was considered complete science fiction when it was first released. Those who thought robots could be in our lives some day thought it would occur centuries from now.

But the past fifty years - and even the last twenty - have shown us tremendous strides in all area of science and technology.

Robots are routinely used in detecting improvised explosive devices (IED's), originally in Iraq and Afghanistan, saving an untold number of lives. The device doesn't look anything like us - it's on wheels, is small, and boxy. But to the guys who routinely work with them, they care about their robot.

Then there's the work DARPA is doing. In my latest book, The Pendulum Files, I needed a scene involving the military and advanced technology. Enter DARPA. A real government agency, DARPA stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Their research is truly something out of Isaac Asimov's books: exoskeletons for our soldiers, robots that look more like humans...

Their work employs some of the brightest minds in the world in biology, chemistry, medicine, physics, astrophysics, engineering and mathematics, to name a few. Their work involves ground, sea and space, including superiority in outerspace.

Below is a fascinating video of just a few of the robots DARPA has developed. Imagine sending robots into battle in future years instead of men; with speeds exceeding 18mph, no human could outrun them. With robots capable of jumping heights of two stories, no human could climb faster in an attempt to escape. Just imagine what our future holds...



Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thursday Thoughts on Research

My blog posts are eclectic, as anyone who follows me can attest.

My target market for my blogs are not really other authors, as there are scores of authors out there writing how-to tips on marketing, promotion, writing, editing, finding agents and publishers... and everything in between.

I've been told some people follow me for my Freaky Friday posts because they like science and technology. Others enjoy my Tuesday Teasers where I provide an excerpt from one of my books... And others like to know what I'm working on next, which I reveal in Work-in-Progress Wednesdays.

My Monday Musings and Thursday Thoughts are often based on research I've performed. I love learning and when I am not actively learning something new, I feel as though I'm not growing.

My latest book, The Pendulum Files (to be released in March 2014) required a lot of research into cargo ships, exporting goods from China to the United States, military technology... and even the control room of an American submarine.

It's easy to be misled on the Internet. So I look for sites I know I can trust: libraries, government agencies, universities, historical societies, and museums, to name a few. If I want to know what new technology is being developed for the military, I go to the websites of agencies and contractors that are developing them. We've all seen the drone technology - but have you heard yet of exoskeletons for the military? Or robotic soldiers?

Yes, I write fiction. But my readers count on me to have checked the technical accuracy of my books. I know writers who simply use their imagination; that might have worked at one time, but in this golden age of knowledge, readers expect more.

What do you think about a writer's research? Do you like their books to be so close to the truth that the plot is totally believable? Or do you overlook the details in a book?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

WIP Wednesday - Rogue Storms in Books

I love the use of weather in books, whether they're monstrous snow storms that leave the characters stranded... or thunderstorms... or even hurricanes.

In the book I am editing now, The Tempest Murders, there are two hurricanes as the backdrop: the first is called Ireland's Night of the Big Wind, which struck Ireland in 1839. It occurred before the sophisticated technology we have today so most of Ireland's residents were struck unawares. The storm was so strong, it pushed the Atlantic Ocean from Ireland's west coast all the way to the Irish Sea on its east coast--a distance of more than 200 miles.

In the video below, you'll see the high seas that can form during one of these monster storms, completely engulfing this large ship at times. Imagine it sweeping over Ireland, and you'll know the terror the first chapter in the book uncovers...



The second storm in the book takes place around a hundred and fifty years later as Hurricane Irene heads toward the North Carolina coastline... And it is on the Outer Banks as the hurricane slams ashore that the climactic scene takes place.

And why is it called the tempest murders? Because the storm in Ireland was not considered a hurricane, as they had not yet established hurricane standards.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuesday Teaser

Dylan's Song is my latest suspense and the fourth book in the Black Swamp Mysteries Series. The Irishman everyone has fallen in love with - Dylan Maguire - returns to Ireland with Vicki Boyd and her sister Brenda Carnegie. Their purpose s two-fold: to find and extract a missing CIA operative who is held captive in an underground cell in the bogs; and to see Dylan's grandmother before she passes away.

The book is one of my favorites because I loved the backdrop of Ireland and the tiny village the three travel to. The myths of Ireland come alive in the book, especially as Dylan tries to escape with the CIA operative through the bogs at midnight.

Below is a video that will give you a feel for Ireland...



Of course, Dylan and Vicki will have to return to the Emerald Isle. Now that Dylan has confronted his demons there, he is beckoned back... In a book scheduled for release in 2015, they return to face new challenges... and their growing love. I know that's a long time to wait, but two more books will keep you occupied until then! The Tempest Murders might be released soon, and The Pendulum Files is scheduled for release in the spring of 2014.

Monday, July 8, 2013

When a Pseudonym Would Have Worked

I've been asked several times during my latest round of book tours who my favorite author is.

I didn't used to hesitate. I knew the author's name and the books she'd written which are still my favorites. Though I've read many authors over the years, her writing continues to remind me why I fell in love with books.

Then why can't I tell people who she is?

It's an awkward situation. I would love to recommend her but I have difficulty doing it.

You see, I fell in love with her books because she wrote suspense. There was some romance woven throughout but I always admired the way in which she handled it. There was enough to make my knees weak but not so much that I had to cover the book in a plain brown wrapper.

And then she started writing gay porn.

I truly don't mind if others enjoy porn or gay or lesbian porn. But it honestly doesn't do anything for me to read about two men together. I can't -- and don't want to -- envision myself as one of them. And if I can't place myself in the role of one of the characters, the words on the page are... just words.

I also know if I say she's my favorite author and readers begin looking for her books, they'll wonder about my taste in books... or perhaps my taste in general.

You see, this author did not use a pseudonym for this new genre. And personally, I think she should have.

It would have been easy for people to find out that she writes in two genres and under two names. But if I recommend her books to someone else under one name, the other books wouldn't be so obvious.

But now if I recommend her and the reader remembers only her name, they're likely to see her latest works - her gay porn books - in the same list as her suspense, and...

It's awkward for me.

Would you feel the same way if you were me? Do you think she should have used a pseudonym? Or do you think I am being overly conservative?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Freaky Friday - Global Warming?

Scientists have been studying the Arctic, which they believe is critical to understanding our planet's climate and climate changes.

Prior to 1850, an estimated 1,400 to 1,850 billion metric tons of organic carbon accumulated in the Arctic, reflecting the billions of years the Earth has been in existence.

Since 1850, an additional 350 billion metric tons of organic carbon has accumulated, primarily from fossil-fuel consumption and human activities.

That means at the current rate, we will have doubled the amount of organic carbon by the year 2665.

What does this mean for the future of our planet?

It means all this carbon will be released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane, melting the ice at the polar regions, causing oceans to rise, coastal areas to flood, some islands to disappear completely, and the temperature of the planet to rise substantially - creating stronger storms both in the summer months (hurricanes and tornadoes) and winter months (winter storms).

What do you think? Do you believe this is occurring because of some natural phenomena or do you believe humans could be leading the planet - or portions of it - to extinction?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

WIP Wednesday

Over the years, I've been asked to edit other authors' books. Sometimes I'm asked to content edit, the broadest type of editing, and sometimes to line edit, which - as you've probably guessed - takes the editing process to a minute level.

There are things I've learned about editing another author's works - or even giving my opinion:

1. Never try to change another author's vision.

What might take me a few hours to read might have taken another author months - or even years - to write. Their book is something they have lived with: the plot, the characters, the way the story unfolds. Though some suggestions can be made to make the book better, it should never attempt to change the story they want to tell.

2. Never try to change the author's voice.

You can point out changes in point of view, but you should never try to alter the way they communicate a story. Every author's voice should be uniquely his or her own.

3. Never pass judgment.

The book might not be your cup of tea but that doesn't mean it doesn't have merit. Just google "famous bad reviews" to see the truly horrendous things that editors have made about books they didn't like - books that often went on to sell millions of copies.

4. Avoid absolutes.

Never say "it HAS to" or "never, ever, EVER do this"... There are no absolutes in this business. An example: in Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain, the author uses a dash at the beginning of text in lieu of open quotes usually encountered during conversations. 

5. Never dash another's hopes.

Before providing criticism or a critique, ask yourself what your objective is and how your words could impact the author.  The end result should always be positive. If it's negative, it says more about you than it does the author.



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tuesday Teaser - Wrapping It Up

One of the fun things about writing a series with the same characters and setting is the ability to weave certain subplots throughout. With a stand-alone book, the author must meticulously wrap up all loose details.

But with a series, certain elements can continue from book to book, even unresolved issues.

Take Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone series. We learn in the first book that Jesse is still in love with his ex-wife, and though she has remarried, she obviously doesn't want to let Jesse go. He moves across the country but he is still tethered to Jen through the telephone. She phones, and it can change his entire mood - or drinking habits.

At the end of that first book, things don't get wrapped up with Jen. I've never heard a reader ask, "But what happened...?" It's clearly a layer that is going to continue through the series, just as people in real life often have unresolved issues and relationships.

Further on in the series, Jesse loses his job. His drinking has gotten out of hand and along with other occurrences in the book, we find that America's favorite small town police chief is out of a job. It's there that the next book begins, and we don't know whether he will be reinstated or if the new chief, the son-in-law of a city councilman, is going to prevail.

When you are reading a series, do you look for everything to be wrapped up in each book? Or do you know that some things will continue from book to book? What is your favorite series and why?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday Musings - Is Attention Evil?

I am an avid people watcher. I find human behavior fascinating. But sometimes it can get disturbing.

I was in a store recently when I came across a young child who was crying because her stomach hurt. She had bags under her eyes and she was pleading with her mother as she was being pulled around the store by her wrist.

I engaged the mother in a conversation. She had an advanced degree and was what people used to call "book smart". I turned the conversation toward her child, who was still crying.

"She's only doing this for attention," the mother said.

"How do you know this?" I asked.

"Because I'm her mother."

"Well, what do you do when your stomach hurts?" I asked.

"I take medicine for it."

"Does your child have direct access to that medicine?" I asked.

"Of course not. She's a child."

"Then what do you expect her to do when her stomach hurts?"

"I expect her to shut up," the mother responded.

"So, when your stomach hurts, you take medicine to stop the pain. But you want your child to suffer in silence?"

At that point, the mother responded with words I won't repeat.

I alerted the store's security and a short time later, I saw the mother giving the child OTC stomach medicine as security looked on. I'd like to think I stirred something in her intellect or motherly instinct that caused her to pay attention to her child's cries.

When did parents begin ignoring their children because they thought they simply wanted attention? And isn't a cry for attention valid as well? If we teach a child to "suffer in silence" through physical or emotional pain, what is that accomplishing?

Or is it simply that the parent can't be bothered by their own child's needs?