Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Guest Blogger: Terry Odell

Terry Odell has been one of my bloggie buddies for a long time. She is very generous with her knowledge and uses her blog to share a lot of information about how she does things. On Fridays, she posts photos from different bloggers around the world ... and some from her own backyard in the mountains of Colorado.

Terry writes romantic suspense, including her Blackthorne, Inc. series featuring a team of covert ops specialists who go where Uncle Sam can't.

Her newest, Danger in Deer Ridge, is set in her new home in the mountains of Colorado. She couldn't resist using one of her locals as the cover model.

When Danger Calls: "Odell has written a story with nonstop action. There are plenty of surprises, especially when the line that separates the good guys from the bad guys becomes blurred ... Odell's writing will keep readers on their toes." RTBook reviews

Where Danger Hides: Romance fans will drool over Dalton and his fellow camo-clad helicopter-riding commandos as they look for runaways and love. Publishers Weekly

Rooted in Danger (April, 2010) "Odell is a topnotch storyteller. The dialogue is spot on, the characters are well drawn and their journey will leave you breathless!" Bestselling author Debra Webb


Settling into my chaise, I squint into the distance. Are those storm clouds at the horizon? I hope they stay where they are, because I have an opening scene to write. I set my Mai Tai on the small table beside the chaise and decide that the fruit in the drink counts as lunch. I'm staring at the screen, trying to decide what the covert ops team of Blackthorne, Inc. will be up to this time.

Sandpipers scurry back and forth, staying just out of reach of the surf's edge. Moments later, the gentle sounds of the surf are washed out by the whup-whup of a helicopter. I follow the sound up the beach to an area rich in tropical vegetation. The helicopter circles, then hovers, reminding me of the hummingbirds that come to my feeder at home.

What could they be doing? It doesn't appear to be a police helicopter, so I don't worry that they're looking for a fugitive. The clouds move closer. The wind picks up. The palm fronds atop the Tiki Hut rustle. I grab my Mai Tai, drinking the cool liquid in large gulps, still watching the helicopter. I can almost feel the tension as I imagine the pilot struggling to hold it steady. I don't have binoculars with me, but I swear I see a stretcher descending from the belly of the helicopter, swinging in the stiff wind. Is that another rope being lowered? Is there a person climbing down, agile as a monkey? I wait, straining my eyes to see, but the wind has intensified, and the blowing sand obscures my vision.

Before the storm hits with a vengeance, I pack up my laptop and head for my hotel. My day in the sun might be cut short, but I know exactly how my next book, Rooted in Danger, will start. 


Thanks so much to Carol for having me. Right now, I'm offering a buy 1 get 1 free special. Buy When Danger Calls for 99 cents and I'll give you a download of Danger in Deer Ridge. More details here:

To read the first chapter of any of Terry's books, visit her website, Romance With a Twist of Mystery and follow her blog, Terry's Place, at

Monday, June 27, 2011

Creating: Writing Tools

Monday has always been a writing-focused day. I never want Mondays to be a how-to. I feel this is so important that I repeat it every once in a while. Each of us is unique. I've said this before, but anytime I write about what works for me, please don't ever be dismayed if my way makes you want to pull out your hair.

Sure we all know the overall guidelines, no matter what we write. How we achieve them is personal to each of us. This is why my Monday posts are often connected to writing by a thread thinner than a hair. More to give you ideas to think about that to suggest how to do anything specific. There are a million places on the web to find those things.

Whew. I feel better now :)

So today I want to talk about writing tools. Pen, pencil, paper, computer. Done.

Not so fast.

A lot of you lately have been chatting about getting some of your best ideas in the shower - with no way to write them down. But there is! Check this link. You can also find different brands at Amazon.

I've recently completed a massive edit, the details of which would bore you to tears and take a year of blog posts to place in full perspective. In the process I found an amazing tool - thanks to one of my critique partners - probably already known to most of you since I'm usually late to the party ... AutoCrit.

The final stages of an edit, when you're really looking at words and phrases and sentences, is the part that drives me straight around the bend at warp speed. AutoCrit saved my sanity. Is it perfect? No. Is it free? No. But it's as perfect as I need. And it's an excellent value. I HEART AutoCrit.

Imagination. It's magic. It's inspired. It's the stuff fiction is made of. It's a tool we all use. We need to keep it well-fed, let it play, make it work out even when it wants to be lazy. And make sure that it knows how to respond at moment's notice ... zero to sixty in .05 seconds. Yeah, that's the imagination we want to preserve.

These are certainly not all the tools in a writer's armory, but I hope there's one here that will appeal to you.

What are your favorite tools?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten sounds of summer:

10. Mosquitoes

  9. Cicadas

  8. Thunder

  7. Baseball Announcers

  6. Boat Motors

  5. Fireworks

  4. Lawnmowers

  3. Outdoor Concerts

  2. Water Splashes

And the #1 sound of summer:

  1. Children's Laughter

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Today I'm also over at Terry Odell's blog with more photos of Galveston Island. I hope you'll pop over for another quick trip to the beach.  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Guest Blogger: Marilyn Baron

Marilyn Baron’s humorous supernatural eBook short story, A Choir of Angels, is a heartwarming tale of a family’s tragedy and a wedding promise unfulfilled. How far will a mother go to sing at her daughter’s wedding? Nothing, not even a little thing like death, is going to cheat Rhonda Paver out of celebrating the happiest day of her daughter’s life. Even if she has to cross over to the other side to do it.

A Choir of Angels is now available from:
TWB Press at in PDF eBook format or find a Kindle, Nook or OmniLit link at the TWB Press site. You can also search Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, or by author name and title.
Or find it on Smashwords at


Marilyn is a public relations consultant in Atlanta. She's a member of Romance Writers of America and serves on the board of Georgia Romance Writers (GRW) as editor of The Galley, GRW’s online newsletter. She writes humorous women’s fiction and romantic suspense, including “The Colonoscopy Club,” which finaled in the GRW Unpublished Maggie Awards for Excellence in 2005 in the Single Title category and “The Edger,” which won first place in the Suspense Romance Category of the 2010 Ignite the Flame Contest, sponsored by Central Ohio Fiction Writers RWA Chapter. What’s unique about my writing? “I like to laugh so I try to inject humor into everything I write. I tend to feature older heroines, because let’s face it, we’re not getting any younger.” 
Marilyn blogs at 

Get Distracted: Make a Wish on a Dolphin
By Marilyn Baron

I love the ocean. I was born in Miami and I have a beach condo on the east coast of Florida, so there’s nowhere I’d rather be this summer than Under the Tiki Hut, sipping an ice cold glass of lemonade and munching on some chips, working on my next romantic suspense. Sixth Sense is about a psychic who predicts the death of the young son of America’s heartthrob in a plane crash and a by-the-book police detective with a deep distrust of psychics, who fails to report her premonition, with disastrous consequences.

Watching the sunrise over the ocean and staring mindlessly at the swooping seagulls and stately cranes stepping out along the shoreline is the closest thing to heaven for me. Suddenly, my attention is diverted by a school of dolphins frolicking in the waves. I could watch them forever. I believe spotting a dolphin is a sign of good luck, so I always make a wish when I see one.

Do I find the nature around me distracting? Yes, but distractions can be a good thing for a writer. They free your mind and lift your spirit, so ideas can flow from your subconscious. I get some of my best ideas daydreaming or relaxing on my balcony looking out at the ocean. In fact, I came up with a fantastic idea for a new supernatural short story when I was watching the sunrise on my last visit.

So while the conventional wisdom for writers is “butt in chair,” “nose to the grindstone,” and “stay focused,” I temper that with this advice: “Let your mind wander.” After all, it’s summer!
Sunrise from my balcony.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Creating: Writing Surprises

I had a different post planned for today. It was written, scheduled, ready to go. But it kept niggling at me. Something wasn't right.

I'm still not sure what was off. It's still in the queue, but now it's in draft form. Maybe one day I'll figure out what I really wanted to say that didn't come across, and fix it.

But for now, it's late Sunday night and I'm writing a new post for Monday morning.

Hey, better now than to wake up at three in the morning and realize I have to change it :)

This is the kind of writing surprise we don't like.

Then there's the really bad writing surprise. Once, in an editing frenzy, I worked all afternoon making hard copy edits to a chapter. Finally it was done, and I set it aside to input the next day. We were having friends over for dinner, so I tidied up the house and myself and started cooking. The evening was a success.

The next day I sat down to work. No pages. I checked the drawers, the floor, the places Shiner likes to take things he isn't supposed to have. And shreds. Nothing. Then I remembered. I'd picked up a stack of paper to shred. Yep. I'd shredded my edited pages. I spent the morning redoing what I'd done the previous afternoon.

But then there are those Oh, Sweet! surprises. You know the kind I mean.

That stray line you added to Chapter 2 because you couldn't get out of your head that finally came together with the plot in Chapter 11.

The real villain who ended up a hundred times more evil and motivated than the one you chose originally.

The hunky hero who walked on in Chapter 3 and stayed when he was really supposed to just walk-on midway through and leave.

Surprises come in all sizes and flavors.

How do you handle writing surprises - the good, the bad, and the ugly ones?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Guest Blogger: Annie Rayburn (aka Carol Burnside)

Today's guest blogger Under the Tiki Hut is Annie Rayburn, also known as Carol Burnside. Annie/Carol and I have been bloggie buddies for a little while. She's a great friend and writer. Today she's going to draw from the comments to give away a copy of her new release, Bittersweet Obsessions. So read on to find out what Annie brings when she visits Under the Tiki Hut. Now I have some staring to do, so I'm turning theTiki Hut straight over to Annie Rayburn.

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I hope your brought your swim suit because it’s time to par-tay here Under the Tiki Hut! Grab a Mai Tai, pull up a chaise, kick off your sandals, and bury your toes in the sand. To start this shindig rockin’, I’ve brought along some friends from my latest release, Bittersweet Obsessions.

Everybody got a cold drink? Good. Gather ‘round. I’ll make a few introductions, let you in on a little gossip, and then y’all can mingle.

The stunning brunette in the black and gold bikini is Teriza. She’s Crainesian, which means her ancestors escaped here from the planet Crainesia before it exploded. What’s that? Yes, they’re telepathic, but don’t worry, they have a strict code against ‘eavesdropping.’ Isn’t her tan pretty? Their honeyed skin looks like warm caramel after being in the sun.

The tall, tan guy with his arm around the pretty redhead, is Deacon. He’s also Crainesian and a landscape architect who’s obviously been working without a shirt. No farmer’s tan on that one. Whew! Where’s a cool breeze when you need one?

Where was I? Oh, yes. The redhead under Deacon’s arm—Carol K, stop staring at his abs and pay attention. I’m talking about the cutie in the turquoise tankini. That’s Sallie, his wife. She’ll stick close because Teriza is here. You see, Teriza and Deacon are life-mates, which means they have a strong physical attraction enhanced by overactive pheromones whenever they’re around each other. My guess is Sallie won’t let Teriza get too close. While Sallie looks demure, she can be a tiger. Yes, sir. I’m envious of her sexy underwear drawer, but not so much that creamy complexion. Bless her heart, I do hope she used sunscreen.

Oh, yum, there’s Paul. He’s the big, rugged looking guy headed this way that looks kinda like that movie star, Clive Owen. Too bad he only has eyes for Teriza. Otherwise, I’d be dropping y’all like a hot potato and rushing over to get that extra pina colada he’s carrying. (sigh) Sure wish that last button would pop off his shirt... Oh, lordy. Did I say that out loud?

I invited a ton of people, including Sela and Jonavon from my short story Insight  and Zeenie and Turk from my novella Phantoms & Fantasies. Klaus, Teriza’s sexual surrogate and a major hottie will show after he downloads his own copies of them on Amazon. Between us, I think he’s just pouting because he wants his own HEA.
Brekke, Teriza’s sexy cousin, promised to put in an appearance later. Last time I saw him, he was hanging around my website and blog waiting to be interviewed. Who knew he was such a publicity hound? So for now, we’re it.

Woo-hoo! Somebody just cranked up Bob Segar’s “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll.” That’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout! All right, everybody, choose a character and mingle, ask questions. Let’s make friends.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Creating: Writing in the Moment

A note about Tiki Hut Guest Bloggers:
One Wednesday is still available: August 3
If you or someone you know is interested in guest posting here on August 3, please contact me at tikihuttime AT gmail DOT com

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You all know I'm a news junkie. Hard news. Soft news. Celebrity news. Local. International. I don't care. I want to know it all because I never know when something important will pop out for me.

So last week I was reading something about Angie Harmon. The focus was on Mommy Guilt. She has (I think) three small kids and she's currently working 90 hours a week - and she's not even a writer!

She said the most constructive advice she received was from Kyra Sedgwick: Keep your heart where your heels are.

I don't know about you, but that made perfect sense to me.

How many times have we wanted to be playing with family when we're writing?

How many times have we wanted to be writing when we're participating in family time?

How often does our mind stray to our new shiny idea when were striving to complete our WIP?

Keep your heart where your heels are.

When we're writing, keep our hearts with our writing, with our stories, with our characters.

When we're having fun with our friends and families, have fun. Make it quality time. Make the experience a wonderful memory.

And that shiny new idea? Make notes. Let the ideas develop. Don't stop working on the WIP.

Live in the moment. Enjoy all life has to offer.

Will we be able to always do this? Of course not.

But if we try, we will enjoy and experience more and waste less of life.

It's a choice.

The choice is up to you.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday's Top Ten

The top ten things about indecision:

10. Indecision may or may not play an important role in your life.

  9. You may or may not have a hard time making up your mind.

  8. Fries or Tots?

  7. You may or may not dread serving on a jury.

  6. "A rose is a rose is a rose." Or is it?

  5. If pros and cons are equal.....

  4. Black? White? Gray?

  3. What if?

  2. You have one hour, and two hours worth of work.

And the #1 thing about indecision:

  1. Will the chicken EVER cross the darned road?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Guest Blogger: Terry Spear

I'm thrilled to introduce you to Under the Tiki Hut's first guest blogger of the summer. Terry Spear jumped in with little notice and planning time, so I hope you will give her tons of support and comments ... comments for a chance to win a copy of her newest release.

Terry will be checking in a few times during the day, so let's give her lots to respond to. And lots of choices for that sexy jaguar of hers :)

Heart of the Highland Wolf, the 7th book in the werewolf series and the 1st in the Highland wolf series is now out!

Modern day werewolf laird Ian MacNeill reluctantly allows a film production company to use his castle, but he knows his secretive clan has a big problem when a beautiful red werewolf female who insists she's working on the film keeps showing up in the wrong places... and a matter of pleasure...

Julia Wildthorn is not who she says she is-she's sneaking into Argent Castle to steal an ancient relic for her grandfather and to do research for her next werewolf romance novel. When she catches a glimpse of Ian, she realizes he's the perfect hero...

Award-winning author of urban fantasy and medieval historical romantic suspense, Terry Spear's HEART OF THE WOLF was named in Publishers Weekly's BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR, NOR Reader Choice for BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE.

She currently has written ten books of the werewolf series based on real wolves, six out now with 7 more to come, a jaguar series coming soon, several vampire romances, two Highland medieval romances with a third in the series coming soon, several teen paranormal stories and a western time-travel ghostly romance coming in September.

Now onto my next writing location and adventure:

After I found a lounge chair at the Tiki Hut, fizzy pink rum drink with a hot pink umbrella in hand, I set it down on a bamboo table. Then laptop on my lap, legs crossed at the ankles, warm breeze sweeping across my bare legs, thatched roof protecting me from the bright sunny rays, hmm I reclined on the floral lounge chair, and thought I was going to get some real peace and quiet. Aquamarine waves crashed along the white sugar sand beaches, seagulls singing high above in the bright blue sky, and a tin band played off in some distance lounge up the beach. All were soothing and conducive to writing Heart of the Jaguar, first in the jaguar shifter series, when a shadow infiltrated my peripheral vision.

I turn to look to see what large beastly form has invaded my space when the most incredible golden tanned hunk smiles back at me. His hair is dark and sweeping his shoulders, his eyes a dark mahogany, fathomless as an unlit cave, but it's his smile that promises unbidden passion. He's wearing a leopard print bikini and it takes me a moment to see that it really is a leopard print and not a jaguar--they have spots in the middle of the rosettes. Yep, a leopard bikini that forces me to take yet another lingering look.

"May I?" he seductively purrs, motioning to MY lounger.

Okay, now normally I would tell him that this one was taken. But something about the way he looks at me as if he's teetering on the edge of sharing some really deep secrets with me, and ahem, much more, intrigues me. And I remind myself I'm an author who is writing about jaguar shifters, so what if, just on the off-chance this guy could be one, he could give me some...well, pointers about what it's like to be a jaguar. Yeah, that's what I tell myself.

But then I tell myself that I need to keep writing. Although in my book, research is of the utmost importance. So I move over and let the research begin.

:) Well, what would you do if you were the one sitting on that lounger with the fancy little drink, the laptop, and one sexy looking jaguar god peering down at you?

Tell me your thoughts and you'll have a chance to win a copy of the brand new release of Heart of the Highland Wolf, to US or Canada addresses only.

Thanks so much for Carol having me at her Tiki Hut so I could find the ultimate inspiration for my newest work in progress!

Terry Spear
Heart of the Wolf--Publishers Weekly "Best Books of the Year!"
"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male." 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Creating: Writing Structure

I still have some Wednesdays available for Guest Blogger posts.
A couple of openings remain for June and August, and July is wide open. 
Email me: tikihuttime AT gmail DOT com  
Please ask your writer friends to
  check last Wednesday's post
and to email me. 
Save me from Texas Tidbits - I'm beggin'!
You'll be glad you did.
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Ready. Set. Write!


No, no. You don't understand. First I must have coffee. And check email.

No, no. You don't understand. First I have to do laundry and run the vacuum.

No, no. You don't understand. First I have to feed the baby.
Okay, maybe I'll let you have that one :)

But the others fall into the category of excuses and procrastination. Yes, they do. Don't argue. I know because I've used all of them. And probably some you haven't come up with yet. Writers brains can get extremely creative.

We've talked about putting writing first. This post is about structuring your life, activities, and time so that writing has its time in your daily and/or weekly schedule.

We're all so busy that two of us could keep busy most days. If we had a clone, I know I have days where my clone would need a clone and still some things wouldn't get done. We live in busy times and are expected to cram every minute full.

I'm probably more guilty of over-scheduling than anyone. My philosophy is to put it on the schedule because if it isn't there, it definitely won't get done. Then I prioritize the schedule. Things at the bottom eventually get to the top.

Live-In Handyman told me the other day that I should never have more than seven items on my daily list. I tried not to laugh in his face. Really I did. Bless his heart, he doesn't have a clue.

Sorry about the little detour. Moving along . . .

What I'm talking about is this: When it's time to write, WRITE. Nothing else. Nothing. You write.

If the only time you can write is in spurts here and there, don't spend those precious minutes thinking about what you want to say next. Leave yourself notes so when you have the next spurt and open your manuscript, you're ready to write immediately.

Or maybe you write during your quiet time, late or early. The same rule applies. Writing time is writing time. It's not news time (who me?), Facebook or Twitter time, or anything else. You write.

Or maybe you schedule morning and afternoon writing times. Those hours may move all around or end up together in the middle of the day. But during those hours, you write.

I write for a block of time. During that time, if I hit a wall or need to look something up, I will take a break or look it up. On that break I set a timer for five minutes. I get my mind totally away from the problem. I may check email or visit a blog. When the timer goes off, I return to the manuscript. Most times, my subconscious has figured out what to do. If not, I write SOMETHING, even if it says 'FIX THIS' in red after what I wrote.

If you make yourself write during these times, whenever and wherever they are, for a month, the process will become automatic. It won't be easy at first, but it quickly gets easier. By the end of the month, at writing time, you will sit down and write because your mind will go straight to the manuscript. Butt in chair, mind on manuscript.

One month. And you'll have built a new writing habit that takes advantage of every minute you have.

Now ... go write :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten summer cooking secrets:

10. Punch your thumb in the middle of a meat patty before grilling to make a little indent. Keeps the patty level and promotes even cooking.

  9. Hold the ends of asparagus spears in each hand and bend until they snap. Discard the tough base.

  8. If you're making pastry, grate cold butter on the large side of a grater.

  7. Always let meat sit 5-15 minutes before cutting to seal in juices.

  6. Add lemon or lime zest to salads or sauces for extra zip.

  5. No matter how you cook fish, don't turn it.

  4. Use the freshest vegetables possible.

  3. Add herbs and spices early in the process for a subtle taste. For more pop, add just before serving.

  2. Keep your knives sharp.

And the #1 summer cooking secret:

  1. Cook with wine - and don't forget to save some for the food :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tiki Hut Summer Wednesdays

At least I hope I am by the time this posts. I have faith in Blogger. Really.

Moving along . . .
I went back to last Wednesday's post and reviewed the results. Guest Bloggers won by a landslide. Next was Texas Tidbits.

So I think what I'll do, since Blogger decided it didn't want a guest blogger here today, is host a guest blogger on the Wednesdays that I have one. On the other Wednesdays I'll write a Texas Tidbits post. I hope I don't have to write any Tidbits about Texas. So I'd appreciate your posting the information on your blogs to help get the word out. See below for contact information.

Most everyone preferred themed Guest Blogging. I've been thinking about something zany yet appropriate. I don't want anyone to have to think too hard but still have it be a fun read. And something that fits the Tiki Hut, summer, and writing. Promotion would be in the form of the author's introduction/bio. Photos encouraged.

And I'm so stealing AND plagiarizing some of Alex J. Cavanaugh's Tips for Guest Bloggers:

* Contact me as soon as possible so I can fit you into now one of 13 Wednesdays.

* I'm open to all bloggers. Humor is a must. Or suspense. Or a combination. No downbeat posts! This will also work in your favor. And my blogger buddies get preference.

* I schedule my posts on the weekend before they appear, so I need your post by Sunday evening before it's scheduled to go live on Wednesday. This will also help avoid any further Blogger snafus. And I prefer short guest posts - most of my posts are in the 350 word range. So no more than 500 words TOTAL for intro/promo and post. I might fudge a little on that, but not much. If you're long on one, cut some of the other. If you're long, ask first - don't just send it to me. People are used to zipping in here and zipping out. So the shorter the better.

* I’ll encourage commenters, but I need you to do the same. Sometime over the summer, I'll be on Facebook and Twitter - I know, I know - and will cross-promote when I get there.

* I don’t require a free book or anything. Really! I would rather support you by purchasing my own copy.
These are Alex's exact words! Mine, too.

* Please have the courtesy to thank me when it’s over. And you really need to thank the commenters, too.
I'm not a Hot Tamales fan like Alex, but you can send him some :)

Thank you, Alex, for allowing me to steal your rules.

And now to the Tiki Theme. All guest bloggers will base their post on this scenario:
You brought your laptop to the Tiki Hut for some peace and quiet.
What drink do you order? Any snacks?
You're writing away when something catches your eye.
What is it? How do you stay focused on your writing.

That's it.

If you're interested in guest blogging here, please contact me at tikihuttime AT gmail DOT com

Please pass the word. I really don't want to write Texas Tidbits. Thanks!