Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Two Dogs

Once upon a time there was a dog name Wrangler.

Wrangler and his brothers and sisters lived in a field under an abandoned travel trailer. One day men came and put them in a truck while their mom was out hunting for food.

A few weeks later, Wrangler found his humans and his forever home with a beautiful backyard. It was all his, and it had a tall fence to keep any men from taking him away. Inside he had a soft bed. And windows to look outside. His humans gave him plenty of food and treats. They played with him and loved him.

Life was good.

Then one day Wrangler's humans came home with another dog, whose name was Shiner.

Shiner was a tiny little thing with a very loud bark, and Wrangler wanted him to go away. Now he had to share his yard and his humans. He didn't like that. So he tried to be big and mean. But his humans didn't like that.

Then one day everything went into a big truck and Wrangler and Shiner went for a long ride with their humans to a new house with new smells and a new backyard big enough for both of them.

Now Wrangler and Shiner play together and look out for each other and take care of their humans. They have plenty of windows, plenty of food and treats, plenty of soft places to sleep. And plenty of love.

Life is good.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Man and A Woman

This post is inspired by a short story written by one of my critique partners. You know who you are :)

From time to time I've read articles about making men sound like men and women sound like women. Below are some generalizations to get you started if your alpha hero is sounding like Great Aunt Myrtle or if your sexy heroine reminds you of Joe Jock.

Men use a lot of articles to describe items. He picked up the ax to inspect it before chopping the wood. Women tend to personalize items. She tossed her hair dryer into his suitcase.

Men and women notice different things. In a waiting room, a man is more apt to notice the doors and windows, the seating arrangements - the architectural elements. Women will notice wall color, upholstery, accessories, scents. Women are more likely to notice other people in the room.

In conversation, the goal of men is to impart and/or gather information. A woman's goal is to build a bridge to the other person to build a relationship.

Men want the bottom line. And I mean that in the nicest way - LOL. Like Sgt. Joe Friday on Dragnet, for most men it's "just the facts." Women want to tell you the story. Women use more words than men to say the same basic thing.

Men love gadgets. Women love shoes.

Men think about sex much more than women do.

Again, these observations are not set in stone and none of them may apply to the people in your real life. Or even to any of your characters. But you can use them to nudge those stubborn characters in the right direction for your story if they're getting out of line.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten reasons to play hooky:

10. You're Bored

  9. New Movie

  8. Family is Visiting

  7. Shopping

  6. You Didn't Prepare

  5. Sleep

  4. Beautiful Weather

  3. Dog Swallowed the Car Keys

  2. Go to the Beach

And the #1 reason to play hooky:

  1. Because You Can!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's Spring!

Here in San Antonio, it really is spring. For reals.

Our temps have held in the 80s for afternoon highs for more than a week. Nights are mostly low 60s. Last week was Spring Break in Texas.

I know many of you are still experiencing cold. And even snow. So I'm going to share a tiny bit of our Texas spring with you.

Our redbud tree:

And our one zucchini plant:

I love spring! It will arrive where you live, too, if it isn't there already. Get ready :)

Monday, March 21, 2011


Look! Over there. See it shimmering on the horizon?

Is it a city? An oasis?


It's that bright, shiny new idea for your next novel that just popped into your head. And right now it's just a mirage.

Our job is to make it real - to take this shimmering illusion and turn it into a story. We take all the elements of storytelling and weave them together to bring the vision we see into sharper focus.

The closer we get to turning our shiny idea into a perfect story, the clearer the image becomes. But it still looks as far away as when we first saw it. We may have typed "The End," but those two little words don't mean we're finished.

We're just getting started. What comes next is The Big Edit. Repeat after me ... rewriting is fun.

Finally the big day arrives. We pull out the manuscript to give it one more read before letting it face the world. Or at least one editor or agent. We start reading. Maybe every once in a while, if we did all the jobs right, we might stop and tilt our head. Did I write that? Hmmm. Not too bad.

And when we reach "The End" this time, we look up and see our shimmering illusion is now a sturdy castle filled with an entire royal court.

Or maybe an austere courtroom where a battle royale plays out.

Go where your story takes you. But don't stop halfway. Otherwise your story will remain shimmering in the distance, nothing but a mirage.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten Texas words:

10. Howdy
In the country, you say howdy to an approaching car by raising one, two, or four fingers from the top of the steering wheel.

  9. Tump
The only way you'll get the dirt outta that pot is tump it over and bang on it.

  8. Alamo
Remember the Alamo!

  7. J'eet
J'eet lunch yet?

  6. Fixin'
No, I'm fixin' to.

  5. Cowboys
Next year.

  4. Spurs
Go, Spurs!

  3. Y'all
Are all y'all coming to the party?

  2. Bluebonnet
Texas State Flower AND ice cream!

And the #1 Texas word:

 1. Enchilada
Texas is a whole nuther world!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Awards Wednesday

Let's get right to it.

Summer Ross at My Inner Fairy presented me with the Memetastic Award:

Balloons, stars, confetti, and an out of control teddy bear. What's not to like!

If you haven't visited Summer's blog, give it a go. Make sure to read the great quote in her header.

In order to accept this award, I have to tell four truths and one lie and pass the award to others.

  • I'm a Texan.
  • I have two furry children.
  • Three of my best friends are former roommates.
  • It took me four tries to learn to juggle.
  • Five things I love: Mexican food, the smell of rain, mockingbird songs, a good massage, the beach.

I'm passing the Memetastic Award to:

Laura Eno at A Shift in Dimensions
Donna Hole
Tara at Feel of Something New
J.L. Campbell at The Character Depot
The Rainy Day Wanderer

From the multi-talented VR Barkowski I picked up the Happy Blogger Award:

Go visit VR. You'll be glad you did. Good stuff there with every post.

LOVE this award :)
I like sunflowers.
I like the total look of it
I LOVE that I don't have to do anything with the award to accept it!

I'm passing this award to these bloggers because visiting their blogs never fails to make me happy:

Elspeth Antonelli at It's a Mystery
Lydia Kang at The Word is My Oyster
Manzanita at Wanna Buy a Duck

Thanks for the awards. I hope all the recipients have fun with them.

Go visit. Have Fun. Meet some new friends.

See you Friday!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Who, What, When, Where, Why

The Five W's.

Today I'm turning the Tiki Hut over to you.

Answer any or all of the questions. Or comment about something else entirely. I'm easy :)

Who do you like to write about - fictional characters or real people?

What genre does your work fall in, for the most part? Is it the same genre you prefer to read?

When is your favorite writing time? Your most productive time?

Where do you write? Are you desk bound or do you grab your laptop and head to the coffee shop or beach?

Why do you write?

I'll start.

I prefer to write about fictional characters because I can make them as interesting or as boring as I need them to be. And I don't need to wonder if they'll still speak to me the next day.

I write mystery, suspense, and romance blended together. It's my favorite genre to read.

I love to write late at night, but when I do, my brain won't turn off and I don't sleep. So I write a little each morning, and do most of my writing in the afternoons.

I'm not desk bound, but my desk is my favorite place to write. If I venture out with the laptop, it's more difficult for the writing part of my brain to open up. Probably because I don't do it enough.

As someone else said on another post ... I write because I can't not write. I write to get the stories out of my head, but writing is definitely a path that chose me.

Your turn!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday's Top Ten

The top ten things about March:

10. The Ides of March

  9. St. Patrick's Day
Erin Go Bragh

  8. March Winds
Don't Blow Away

  7. Shamrocks
Good Luck

  6. March Madness
No Dribbling Allowed

  5. Pots of Gold
Find the End of the Rainbow

  4. Iditarod Dog Sled Race
Mush, You Huskies

  3. Vernal Equinox
Yea, Spring

  2. Leprechauns
Catch One . . . If You Can

And the #1 thing about March:

  1. Green Beer
Just Sayin'

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Crazy Bad Hair

Crazy hair from hell
Grows all the wrong ways and more
It lives on my head

You've all heard me rant about my hair from hell. Nothing's changed. Last week it was time for a haircut. The woman who cuts it always tells me she's glad I'm her customer because my hair challenges her. I'm not making this up.

She recently moved to a different salon. And she told me she was moving so I would follow her. She wasn't making it up either or she would've cut and run, and I would've had to find a new haircutter.

While I was draped and at her mercy, she told the haircutter next to her that I'm a writer and I'm in the middle of a book. They talked for a minute or so about how exciting that is. I'm like If only you knew.

The other haircutter said, "What's your book about?"

I told her. It's good practice for getting the hook right.

She said, "Did that really happen or did you make it up?" She actually used the words make it up.

I said I made it up.

She said, "All of it?" And looked at me as if I'd grown a second head. Maybe one with even worse hair.

I'm like duh. "Yes."

She said, "Wow."

What did her wow mean?
a. She must have a vivid imagination.
b. How could anybody think of something like that.
c. Why would anybody think of anything like that.
d. No wonder she has such crazy hair.
e. All of the above.
f. None of the above.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Little Story That Could

A few years ago I wrote a regular short story for a themed anthology, but it didn't make the cut. Neither did the anthology, but that's another story.

The story was about a woman named Avery Carson. It was a procedural. I thought it had merit and kept tinkering with it, kept sending it out. No one liked it. I was liking it more and more. And I wanted to mark it off my list :)

After months of tinkering, submitting, rejection again and again, I put it away. I was involved with another project and didn't want to think about it any more.

Months later I pulled it out again. Ah, I knew the answer. I added a whole other layer to it, made it longer with a more complex plot. Instead of 3000 words or so, it grew to 5000-6000 words. Had a different title. Again tinker, submit, rejection. The same pattern. I put it away again.

Many months passed before I pulled it out again. I couldn't let go of Avery. And it was Avery, not the story. I chopped all the plot. What I had left was the core of Avery. I knew exactly who she was. And a 500-word flash story was born. With a new title. This was Avery's story, in a nutshell.

Again I sent it out. Again it came back. More than once. But I didn't put it away. And I didn't tinker. This was her story, and I had finally told it.

Every month or so I checked flash markets to see if I could find a fit. Nothing. I didn't believe the story really fit any genre. It definitely wasn't fantasy, scifi, historical, horror, slipstream, or romance. It was dark. There was crime. I tried all sorts of markets - mystery, flash only, even literary. I kept looking.

Last year, a new market opened - Dark Valentine Magazine. They were looking for dark fiction. They didn't care about genre as long as the story was dark. And they were open to flash fiction. Off it went.

They loved it. "Blues in the Night" was included in the premier issue last May.

And last week it was nominated for a Derringer Award for Best Flash Story by the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

So the little story that no one liked for years has gone on to be short-listed for an award in its category.

The moral to this little story is:
Never Give Up
Write the Best Story You Can
Believe In Your Work
Believe In Yourself

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday's Top Ten

The top ten breakfast cereals:

10. Cheerios
Cheerio, Old Chaps

  9. Lucky Charms
To Keep Vampires and Zombies Away

  8. Crispix
A Primer for Using our New Camera

  7. Total
For All the Accounting Types

  6. Cap'n Crunch
For Mornings We Want to Run Into Something

  5. Wheaties
We're All Champions

  4. Rice Krispies 
To Snap, Krackle, and Pop the Pounds Off

  3. Special K
For Our Friends Down Under - Kangaroos, Koalas, and Kiwis

  2. Corn Flakes
To Keep Us Flakey Enough to Laugh at Corny Jokes

And the #1 top breakfast cereal:

  1. Life
For Everyday Living

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Awards and a Yell for Help

Sometime since I made my last awards post, a couple of bloggers put awards up for grabs.

The Words Crafter at The Rainy Day Wanderer offered this one:
"So I want all of you to have it. This isn't about being lazy. It's about how much I love to read what you write. Honestly. I'm going to make my way around throughout the day and leave a comment confirming it."

And she did.
I'm passing this award to anyone currently drafting a new manuscript or editing a WiP.

You know who you are. Take it ... it's yours ... and well deserved.

And Medeia Sharif presented four choices to people who commented on her previous post, and I was one of those commenters. I already had two of the choices, and the third involved a lot of work. My selection was the easy, citrusy way out :)

This citrusy award goes to anyone who lives in a state that grows citrus OR anyone who likes the citrusy color palette OR anyone who likes any citrus product. Froot Loops don't count :)

You might have noticed I've finally gotten off my duff and actually made a blog page. It's for blog awards and gets them off this page so maybe it will load faster.

I'm wanting to do some more things with pages, but I'm a bit of a techie idiot. If anyone would be willing to answer a couple of questions, please leave your email in the comments and I'll get in touch.

Have an award-winning day!