Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday's Top Ten

The unofficial top ten first lines of novels:

10. It was a dark and stormy night.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  9. I am an invisible man.
Ralph Ellison

  8. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
George Orwell

  7. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....
Charles Dickens

  6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Leo Tolstoy

  5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.
Vladimir Nabokov

  4.It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a fortune, must be in want of a wife.
Jane Austen

  3. Call me Ishmael.
Herman Melville

  2. Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
JK Rowling

And the unofficial #1 first line of a novel:

  1. The sun didn't shine, it was too wet to play, so we sat in the house all that cold, cold wet day.
Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Over the weekend, Live-In Handyman and I went to the San Antonio Botanical Garden. The park is the perfect size for a morning or afternoon visit. Live-In Handyman, for those of you new here, has a neon green thumb - he could grow an igloo from an ice cube. I was a little surprised they allowed me to enter - I have a propensity for killing plants of all kinds with a single look.

While he was busy admiring everything and taking lovely photos, I snapped a few and tried to stay out of his way.

I'm guessing these birds are purple martins, since I think this is a martin house:

I heard a woman say these are nasturtiums:

And I do know what this is:

Now a test. Find the duck:

And because Elspeth Antonelli said she'd never heard a mockingbird - here's a link for sound only -
Happy Wednesday!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Words and Music by . . .

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You know how your mind leaps from one word to the next to connect things? I can't be the only one. I'm sitting here listening to the mockingbird outside the window. He's singing up a storm. And I'm thinking, "Now there's some real Texas music."

My mind goes Texas Music! Blog about Texas Music. I'm like, "I can't blog about Texas Music - I'd be stepping on toes and violating copyrights all over the place."

Then the next idea popped into my head. I know how I can do this.

But...Under the Tiki Hut is a writer's blog for readers and writers, not a music blog. While most of us probably do like music, it's a safe bet that our tastes span the spectrum.

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So I decided to blog about Texas writers.

There are a lot of us!

So I decided to blog about well-known Texas writers.

Still a lot!

Well-known Texas novelists. Huh? Google gave me the two-headed look. C'mon Google! Maybe we didn't create Harry or Bella or Peeta, but a few Texas novelists may be a little upset to learn their names aren't on such a list.

Worse for me, I still don't have a blog topic.

But that mockingbird is still singing and keeping me happy. Maybe that's all I need on a fine Monday morning.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday's Top Ten

The top ten ways to write a blog:

10. About yourself

  9. About your family

  8. About your friends

  7. About your pets

  6. About your pet peeves

  5. About your dreams

  4.  About your adventures

  3. About your screw-ups

  2. About your passions

And the #1 way to write a blog:

  1. About not much of anything at all

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring is Popping Out All Over





It's Spring!

Why are reading this blog?

Get out and enjoy!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lucky Sevens

Last week Medeia Sharif tagged me with the Lucky 7 meme. Here's what I'm supposed to do.

The rules:
1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they're written.
4. Tag 7 authors 

Since I'm not yet at page 77 on my current WIP, I chose to give you these lines from IN NAME ONLY, hoping to whet your appetite for more.
Summer took a quick shower and grabbed a beer from the fridge. The leftover brownie caught her eye, and she snatched it to test Charlie's theory. 
Before her shower, she'd spent almost half an hour researching James and Amanda Packett on the Internet with little result. She found their names, but learned nothing about them. 
Now she curled into a chair, turned on the lamp, and read about the hydrogen isolator. She had drunk half her beer before she remembered the brownie and took a nibble, then a swallow of beer. A smile spread across her face.

Now I'm supposed to tag 7 authors. I've seen this meme around for a few weeks, so I don't know who has it already. If you want it, it's yours :) 

If you don't, but you know someone who does, they're free to come over here and snag it. All I ask is you - or they - leave me a comment so I know where it's going. Inquiring minds Nosy writers like to know these things :)

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Also last week, Tami Brothers passed the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award on to me.

Receiving this award means sharing 7 random facts about me. One of the rules for receiving this award is to pass the sweetness along to 7 other bloggers.

I've received this award before, so I'm passing it on the same way as I did the tags above - you or someone you know want it, it's yours. Just tell me in the comments, please.

Now ... 7 random facts about me. Maybe you'll find one you didn't already know.

1. I love going barefoot.

2. My eyes are green.

3. One of my ancestors helped establish a town near Boston.

4. I love rain.

5. And sunshine.

6. I'm afraid of spiders.

7. My favorite follower is YOU!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday's Top Ten

UPDATE: I just banged my head against the wall. Guess what I forgot? Only my second favorite green food item in the world ... guacamole! It's a wildcard. Use it to take off your least favorite green food item from the list. And did you hear? Heinz has packaged Green Ketchup in honor of old St. Paddy himself :)

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The top ten green foods for St. Patrick's Day:

10. Cabbage

  9. Spinach

  8. Celery

  7. Kale

  6. Broccoli

  5. Honeydew

  4. Lime Jell-O

  3. Kiwi

  2. Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

And the #1 green food for St. Patrick's Day:

  1. Green Beer

"May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks. May your heart be as light as a song. May each day bring you bright, happy hours. That stay with you all the year long."  --Irish Blessing

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Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Guest Blogger: Amy Atwell

Today I want to welcome Amy Atwell to the Tiki Hut. I've known Amy for about a year, when I joined her goals group. She's unstoppable. And she has more than enough energy to keep up with Alex J. Cavanaugh. I keep hoping some of Amy's energy will rub off on me, but so far that's only a dream. She's here to tell you about her new endeavor.

Take it away, Amy....

Thank you so much, Carol, for inviting me to the Tiki Hut! I’ve really needed a getaway. I’ve been pretty busy lately.

The Creative Process

As a writer, I’m still working through my creative process. It took me ten years to write half of my first manuscript and then, once I made the firm commitment to finishing the draft, it only took six months to write the other half.

My most recent completed book was an idea I started and wrote about 30 pages on. Those pages sat for probably two years. And then, suddenly, I wrote the rest of the book in about five months.

For me, once the book takes shape, it takes on a life of its own. I can’t hold it back. I finish off that book and prepare myself to start the next.

But last year, while I was between books, an idea crossed my path that caught my attention and wouldn’t let go.

I had this vision of an online resource website for authors, and it would be all about the business of getting published, being published, managing your career. I had sold my first book, LYING EYES to Carina Press and gone through the debut book launch process, and I wished more than anything that there could have been a single resource I could have gone to that would have at least pointed me to the answers.

This idea was my new bright, shiny. Have you experienced one of those? You’re working diligently away on a story, and this other idea dashes across your consciousness and totally steals your focus. Suddenly, the current story is a waste. What you really want is to chase the new bright, shiny.

But is that a good idea? I always wrestle with that. Am I possibly sabotaging myself by abandoning the current project to chase this new one? Not to be cliché, but the bird in the hand IS worth two in the….

Being a gambler, I pushed the current story project aside. Bring on the bright, shiny!

My first hurdle was trying to describe what I wanted to accomplish. Thank heavens for Kelsey Browning! She’s a writer who shares my business perspective, and she immediately understood my “pitch” and helped shape the vision of what is now Author E.M.S. (Entrepreneur.Management.Solutions.)

For nearly a year, I’ve been writing content and building this website. It sounds simple, but it has kicked my butt as much as any story has. It’s not plot, but there is a structure to the website and the content needs a certain flow. And, oh, the research! I made great progress for the first two months, and then I started to drag. The bright, shiny started to lose its luster. There were a couple times last fall when I wished that another idea would cross my path. But I’d made the commitment, and I wanted to see this idea “in print.”

By the holidays, I was in the homestretch. Oh, not that the site is finished—there’s still plenty of building to be done! But I could see the structure holding its shape, no longer sagging in the middle. I could see the “plot” points—in this case, a searchable database of online reviewers and library-like sections on Self-Publishing, Promotion, Websites & Blogs and more.

I suffered a mini-meltdown around Christmas. My husband’s computer lost its hard-drive. Our backup device wasn’t working properly. Our site softwares all needed upgrades, so I upgraded (and, er, crashed…) the site. Thankfully, I’ve got wonderful tech support people who rescued me. But this process was similar to submitting—you’re ready to be published, but you have to send your work out there and wait! <G>

By February, I had a thumbs up, and I could see my dream about to become a reality. Except…there were still a few minor things that needed to be tweaked, edited, revised. I remember being so sick of this website a few weeks ago, I was convinced it was stupid, no one would like it, and I had wasted all my time.

Sabotaging thoughts. Ones I’ve learned to move past. Author E.M.S., my dream site, is up and running. Instead of a book to entertain readers, I hope I’ve started to build something lasting that will help authors.

Are you susceptible to the bright, shiny? Do you have a solid process that works for every story?


Amy Atwell worked in professional theater management for 15 years before turning from the stage to the page to write fiction. She now gives her imagination free rein in both contemporary and historical stories that combine adventure and romance. Her historical romance AMBERSLEY hit the Top 100 on both Kindle and Nook and has sold over 30,000 copies. When not writing, Amy runs the WritingGIAM online community for goal-oriented writers and has recently launched Author E.M.S., the online business resource library for authors. An Ohio native, Amy now resides on a barrier island in Florida with her husband, two Russian Blues and a demon kitten. Visit her online at her website, Magical Musings, Facebook, Twitter and/or GoodReads.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday's Top Ten

By popular vote ... the top ten new names for the Seven Dwarfs:

10. Sweaty

  9. Nerd

  8. Brewski

  7. Stud

  6. Mouth

  5. Dude

  4. Geeky

  3. Homey

  2. Toad

And the #1 new name for the Seven Dwarfs:

  1. Kirk

Monday, March 5, 2012

Guest Blogger: Alex J. Cavanaugh

I'm honored to have Alex J. Cavanaugh guest blogging today Under the Tiki Hut. So I'll just shut up and let him take the stage. Tried to sweep off the sand, but you know how that goes.

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You know, hanging out under the Tiki Hut is pretty great.

I’m in the shade, which is good for someone like me. (Pale skin doesn’t fare well in the sun.) I have a great view of the beach. The waiter just brought me a Corona with a lime. And a water. Need to stay hydrated and sober, or this post could go south very quickly.

You know what I like best about the beach? The women!

This is awesome. I didn’t think the beach would be this crowded with women. (Most visitors only talk about the guys - I was worried!) Women strolling through the waves, stretched out on towels, and even a group playing volleyball. I could get used to this view.

And look at how young these women appear. I bet I’m twice the age of most of them.

Unfortunately, I left the Ryan Reynolds physic at home. What was I thinking? I’m in shape but not young and cut. So strolling down the beach putting on a ‘gun’ show is out of the question.

Oh well, I’ll just kick back and…

Well! One of them is approaching. Look at her curves. She’s perfect. All right, think Alex. Sit up straight. Don’t say anything stupid. Maybe I look like Ryan Reynolds in this shade. Wow, is she sexy. All right, serious expression. Don’t look too anxious…

“Did you order a Corona for me?”

Well, duh, of course she’s sexy. She’s my wife!

Visit the author’s site and leave a comment during his book tour for a chance to win CassaFire, CassaStar, and a CassaFire tote bag and mug!

by Alex J. Cavanaugh

CassaStar was just the beginning…

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities. 

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

Available now!
Science fiction - space opera/adventure
Print ISBN 978-0-9827139-4-5, $15.95, 6x9 Trade paperback, 240 pages
EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-6-9, $4.99, available in all formats

CassaFire is the sequel to Cavanaugh’s first book, CassaStar, an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller:
“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

You can visit the author’s site at
Book trailer available at

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday's Top Ten

The top ten things this week's top ten list isn't about:

10. Times for saying I love you

  9. Benefits of time travel

  8. New names for the seven dwarfs

  7. Things I eat for breakfast

  6. Favorite fairy tales

  5. Ways to make potato salad

  4. Reasons we laugh

  3. Stupid sayings

  2. Making the most from retail therapy

And the #1 thing this week's top ten list isn't about:

  1. Magic Moments