Especially for Writers

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What I’m Thankful For

Happy ThanksgivingBest holiday of the year: the official day of recognizing we owe thanks to God for our family, friends, communities–and so much more.

I’m thankful to God for many things, and my family and friends are up on top of the list.

There are others, too, hidden folks who work behind the scenes, whose names go unknown and services unnoticed. For instance, I’m thankful for the crew of people who get the electricity on again when it goes out. Thankful for the linemen who keep the telephone wires up so I can chat from the house to anyone anywhere anytime. I’d like to say the same for my cell phone, but it doesn’t work at the house. Still, I’m thankful for it when it does work.

I’m thankful for Trent, the guy at the Kroger store who carries my groceries to the car for me. He’s a sweet kid, and my husband and I have a lot in common with him. Since I haven’t fully regained my strength after being ill, Trent’s youthful muscles come in handy.

I’m thankful for the UPS guy who finally figured out which house is mine so I can get my medicine on time. And I’m really thankful for whoever created the medicine!

I’m thankful for whoever invented instant cocoa, warm socks, and flannel shirts–and when we’re having a Texas Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for whoever invented air conditioning.

I’m thankful for the options of ham or turkey, for a dressing recipe that has been passed down through the generations, for Mom’s preference of odd veggies and MSB’s love of pecan pie (meaning there’s more coconut for me). I’m thankful for being well enough to eat what I want–and I’ll be thankful for any pound I manage to lose after the holiday season is over.

I’m thankful for you, my readers and friends. I pray you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and remember to give thanks for all your blessings. We have so many in this nation, and for that, I am truly thankful.


Posted in Misc. | Tagged | 8 Comments

Gathering of Authors

me in Texarkana

This past weekend, we went to Texarkana, Arkansas, to Tammy Thompson’s Fall Gathering of Authors, the charity event for St. Jude Children’s Hospital and the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Let me tell you: We had a blast! Twenty-five other authors showed up for the event, not to mention the kids–young writers whose short stories were published in the fourth edition of the anthology Dream Catcher. Their parents came in droves to buy several copies of the anthologies for relatives and friends.

Events like this are always great, not just for sales, but for networking. We were offered several wonderful opportunities for speaking or selling my books, and if they pan out, 2016 will be a great year. But the idea that the proceeds from the event went to two wonderful children’s hospitals made the event even more special.

We met some terrific people. Let me run through a few:

AnneThis is Dr. Anne Redelfs. I first met her at the ETBU Writers Conference in Marshall, Texas. She’s a specialist in post-traumatic stress, not just through her practice, but also as one who lived through Hurricane Rita’s destruction of New Orleans. She now lives a tad bit farther inland, in Texarkana. She’s going to partner with me for festivals and things to sell our books. With the two of us splitting vendors fees, we’ll have a better chance to earn a profit!

JCI had fun chatting with JC Hulsey, who is both an author and a publisher. He writes and publishes mostly Westerns, but he’s open to anything. I saw him talking with one of the other young authors who also writes Westerns, so I hope they connected.

If you’re interested in checking out this Texas publisher, you can find him at Outlaw Publishing (though I think his website is currently “in the making”).

KimKim Thompson is a Louisiana writer–very Cajun cultured and more fun than a truck load of circus clowns. She’s also a devout Christian and fellow coffeeholic. We often dared to leave our table (either the dinner table during a speech or our book tables during the event) to grab a refill.

MSB loves her magazine, Louisiana Legends. It’s a simple publication–spiral bound stories on plain paper with black and white ads–but she’s just beginning. The stories had both of us snortin’ coffee.

I snapped this shot of the man while we were setting up. He was in high demand at the event. A great-lookin’ guy with good strong arms to help carry and tall enough to reach this and stretch up there and get that–shoot, who wouldn’t want him on her team?



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Especially for Writers

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By the way–if you’re in the Texarkana, Arkansas area, come join me here~~~

Gathering of Authors

Posted in Authors, write tips, Writing, Writing Tips | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Coming Saturday, Nov. 21!

Gathering of Authors two

Excited to be participating in this charity event this coming Saturday. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet with readers and other authors, all while benefiting the Arkansas Children’s Hospital and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

If you’re anywhere near the convention center in Texarkana, Arkansas, come by and visit with me and the 25 other authors!

Posted in Personal, Promotion/Publicity/Marketing | 2 Comments

Back to It

MondayMonday following Mom week always presents a problem. I’m behind on everything, it seems, because I haven’t touched my computer in at least six days. I have blog posts to write, tweets to schedule, folks to keep up with on Facebook, and a work in progress to plug some meaningful words into. And that’s just the day job. We’re not counting the house that needs cleaning, laundry that needs washing, the shopping I must do if we’re going to eat this week.

But, truth be told, it isn’t as bad as all that. Well, the house is, but otherwise it isn’t so bad. Come Monday morning of any week, not just the one following Mom week, I still have blog posts to write, tweets to schedule, folks to keep up with, and a WIP to work on. It all just feels different, more urgent, when I’ve been gone a while.

I woke up at 3:30 in a state of panic because I’m so far behind. How silly is that? And yet, it’s what I do every Monday-after-Mom. I toss and turn in the early hours, trying to get back into the swing of business. What do I blog about? How do I write the upcoming scene?

Today is a bit different from the usual after-Mom Monday, because we’re in November–the month that belongs to my husband. Which is the primary reason I don’t participate in NaNoWriMo. We’re gone more often than we’re home, and when we’re home, the ability to concentrate on anything for any length of time is nigh unto nil, and I’m wracked with the panic that comes with knowing I have so much to do and so little time to do it in.

So, now it’s 5:15, and I’m writing this. I gave up on going back to sleep, because it ain’t happenin’. I have too much to do in too short a period of time–and all the while, the part of my brain that isn’t screaming at me to get to work is telling me to settle down, it isn’t as bad as all that. The world isn’t going to end if I don’t get a blog post written. No one is going to care if a tweet from me doesn’t land in their feed, Facebook friends will go on doing what they do, and my WIP will be here, waiting for me.

I wish the part of my brain screaming at me to get to work would listen to the part of my brain telling me to chill out.

Good morning, Monday.

Posted in Personal | 13 Comments

Especially for Writers

I’m at Mom’s, so this is short and sweet humor:


Posted in Writing | 6 Comments


I found a site intended to connect novels with readers, book clubs, reviewers, etc. and it sounded like a great idea. I listed my first novel, Give the Lady a Ride, with it, and sat back to wait. Not that I was holding my breath–sites like this one don’t tend to be highly active.

But, surprise, surprise, I got a note from a young lady who wanted to read and review the book for her blog.

For some reason, I was leery and asked for a link. Sure enough, most of the novels she read and reviewed were mainstream, and readers of mainstream Romance aren’t particularly fond of Christian fiction.

I tried to get out of it by making sure she realized this is a Christian Romance, which means (though I didn’t tell her this), it does not come with steamy scenes, innuendo, and cussing. She insisted she was aware of its genre and still wanted to read it.

Her site had only three previous reviews on it, complete with author interviews, and none of the reviews had reader comments. She must’ve been just starting out.

Well, okay, I thought. I’d send her an electronic version of the book and be done with it, but oh, no, she wanted the print version. I don’t remember the excuse, I just remember it sounding feeble at the time.

Because I was on the site, I thought I was obligated to send her one. So I did, grumbling about it the entire time. While she got a free book mailed to her at my expense, I would get nothing out of this–certainly not exposure. There’s nothing on her site that indicates anyone would see this but her.

All this happened last month or the month before, I don’t remember. But I went to her site today, and sure enough, there my book was, complete with my interview and a three-star review.

I don’t mind that it was three-star. That doesn’t bother me. Reviews are entirely subjective, and no author can please everyone. Her write-up actually was a good one. Her complaint was that she didn’t “feel” the suspense that goes with bull riding. “Great effort was made to make it that way. I just didn’t feel it,” she wrote. This is the first time anyone has ever said that about the book, so, like I said, her review didn’t bother me.

What bothers me is that I got myself suckered in to a racket. Yes, I got a review–and I admit, it really does seem like she read the book. But now, she’s going to turn around and sell it, probably on Amazon, and I won’t see a penny of the proceeds. I found on the website I joined a page where readers can join and learn how to make money on this.

Is it dishonest? I don’t really know. She really read it, really reviewed it–never contacted me about the review, and never promoted it that I can see. But the deal was square as far as I can tell. She fulfilled her end of the bargain. She even ended her review with this:

It’s not a bad book at all. If you enjoy a good classic Christian western novel this book is a keeper. I enjoyed the basis on the ranching and inspiration! This author did her research!

Not bad.

But here’s the warning: these deals aren’t always “square.” I’ve heard of authors–particularly Christian authors–getting brow-beaten and harassed into sending print versions of their books to reviewers who have no intention of reading them. They’re “book sellers,” and we authors are providing their inventory for free.

After kicking myself black and blue, I asked one of my Facebook groups what they would have done, and not a single one of them would’ve fallen for this. They’d offer an electronic version, and if the reader refused (red flag!!!), then they would bow out. “It’s my policy,” they’d say, “to provide only an electronic version.”

Frankly, I don’t know how to feel about my experience with this young lady. Like I said, I didn’t get a thing out of this. Her review wasn’t even posted to Amazon. I’m tempted to get an embosser and press “Not For Resale!” on several pages throughout the book. But things could get ugly, and I’m not that big a fan of conflict these days.

This may not be a big deal–I mean, if she sells the book, that’s more exposure for me, right? And there are several people reselling my book on Amazon. Folks I’ve never heard of have it on the market for up to hundreds of dollars, like that makes good sense. And I’ve seen where the pdf of my book is being given away through some sites that have warnings against suing them written in legalese.

So this isn’t really that big of a deal, I guess. I’ll mark it up to lesson learned, and hope my lesson helps you. Don’t send the print version.

Posted in Writing | 8 Comments

Pacing Emotion

Company Man

The man’s chest was not moving; he was not breathing. Nick leaned over him, the pistol now dangling in his left hand by his side. He placed his right forefinger on the man’s throat and felt no pulse. This was no surprise; the staring eyes had already announced that the maniac lay dead.

He’s dead, Nick thought. I’ve killed him.

He was suffused with terror. I killed this guy. Another voice in his head began to plead, defensive and frightened as a little boy.

I had to. I had no choice. I had no . . . choice.

I had to stop him.

Maybe he’s just unconscious, Nick thought desperately. He felt the man’s throat again, couldn’t find the pulse. He grabbed one of the man’s rough, dry hands, pressed against the inside of his wrist, felt nothing.

He let go of the hand. It dropped to the ground.

He poked again at the man’s chest with his toes, but he knew the truth.

The man was dead.

The crazy man, this stalker, this man who would’ve dismembered my children the way he butchered my dog, lay dead on the freshly seeded lawn, surrounded by tiny sprouts of grass that poked out sparsely from the moist black earth.

Oh, Jesus God, Nick thought. I’ve just killed a man.

He stood up but felt his knees give way. He sank to the ground, felt tears running down his cheeks. Tears of relief? Of terror? Not, certainly not, of despair or sadness.

Oh, please, Jesus, he thought. What do I do now?

What do I do now?

(Company Man, Joseph Finder, St. Martin’s Press, 2005. Reprinted with the author’s permission.)

You’ve heard of giving a fast pace to your high action scenes by using shorter sentences and words. This isn’t a high action passage. The action occurred in the pages before, in Nick’s heart-thumping account of discovering an intruder. Of trying to make the intruder stop his advance, to make him leave Nick’s home where his children slept. Of the bullet that hit it’s mark, and the subsequent rise of the downed enemy. And of the last shot that put the enemy down permanently.

But this scene is raw emotion, adrenalin giving way to stunned panic, and it’s illustrated the same way–short, choppy sentences, short words, lots of white space on the page. The entire structure of this excerpt shows the main character’s inner turmoil.

Notice the first paragraph. Each of the sentences are longer. Finder even uses the supposedly taboo semicolon to avoid a choppy sentence structure. This paragraph comes immediately after Nick realizes the bad guy isn’t going to get up again, and it illustrates that instant of lucidity before the stronger emotions set in.

From the moment Nick realizes he killed a man, the pace changes. Finder uses a couple of “telling” sentences to mark the shift from lucidity to panic. In the paragraph beginning, “Maybe he’s just unconscious,” Finder installs two complex sentences and omits the conjunction. “He felt the man’s throat again, couldn’t find the pulse. He grabbed one of the man’s rough, dry hands, pressed against the inside of his wrist, felt nothing.”

There are no italics, no quotes around Nick’s internal thoughts, nothing to distract the reader from the progression of emotion Nick is experiencing. Just the progression itself is illustrated: from stunned to defensive to disbelieving to self-justification to pleading with God. This is another wonderful lesson from this passage. Not only can you pace the writing to show emotion, you can pace the emotions themselves from bad to worse. Draw them out, intensify them. The pace of the scene, combined with the progression of emotion, produces the page-turning tension that is the goal of every writer.

A critical eye on the excerpt can find violations of conventional writing wisdom in the text. As I typed it from the book to this page, I found seven such violations that I didn’t see when I first read the scene. Unlike other books I’ve read, Company Man kept me so engrossed that I wasn’t distracted by little things the “powers that be” consider rule-breaking. I have no doubt Joseph Finder knows the rules, but more than that, he knows the craft. And because he does, Company Man was a New York Times best seller.

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Especially for Writers

Found this on Pinterest. Love it!


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