Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday's Top Ten

Before we get to today's top ten, I want to tell you about a freebie. After you comment on the top ten - you are going to comment, right? - go HERE. Why?

Ciara Knight's Rise From Darkness is FREE at Amazon today and tomorrow only. So hurry! You don't want to miss this great YA paranormal.

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The top ten things to do instead of reading Friday's Top Ten for the three weeks I will be on Blog Break:

10. Play Tiddlywinks

  9. Watch Grass Grow

  8. Recite the Alphabet Backwards

  7. Twiddle Your Thumbs

  6. Organize Your Sock Drawer

  5. Watch Paint Dry

  4. Cut Your Bangs

  3. Play Solitaire

  2. Solve the Mystery of Life

And the #1 thing to do instead of reading Friday's Top Ten for the three weeks I will be on Blog Break:

  1. Read the Next Blog on Your List

And now I'm outta here. See you on Monday, May 21.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What's Next?

The time has come for a real blog break.

I have 500 jillion things to do to get ready for the release of IN NAME ONLY in July. Yes...mark your calendars now - July 10 is the magic day!

Plus queries to send on Solomon's Compass.

And writing to do on my WIP.

To say nothing of a planned vacation.

I'm sure I won't get everything done that's on my list, but I hope the list will at least be manageable instead of out of control. I need six weeks off, but I'm taking three.

And when I return, I'll have a surprise for you. Promise :)

You'll see me around on a few blogs for a while, and probably on Facebook from time to time. If you need to reach me, you can message me on Twitter [good] or Facebook [better] or by email [best]. My email address is on my profile.

I'll be here for the top ten this Friday and through the weekend, then it's adios until Monday, May 21.

I'll miss all of you, but I have to take my life back. And it's only three weeks. Right?

Monday, April 23, 2012

What I Did on My Surprise Vacation

Last week on my surprise mini-break, Live-In Handyman treated me to a couple of days in Port Aransas. Or as it's affectionately known to most Texans - Port A.

Port A is located on the northern tip of Mustang Island, a barrier island in the Texas Coastal Bend, just north of Padre Island and Corpus Christi. Interested in the pronunciation? Aransas rhymes with Kansas. Not Arkansas.

We followed storms to the coast.

Even the seagulls were too wet to fly :)

So we stayed indoors and enjoyed an awesome pizza here. And maybe a beer. Just sayin'.

The next morning dawned bright and sunny.

Port A was preparing for SandFest, and we got up-close and personal.

Coming back through the dunes, we saw many of these.

And then we spent some time on the deck.

But the trip wasn't complete until we found ... Tiki Huts!

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday's Top Ten

The top ten foods that should be low-calorie and low-fat:

10. Peanuts

  9. Lemon Meringue Pie

  8. Macaroni and Cheese

  7. Ice Cream

  6. Lasagna

  5. Potato Chips

  4. Fried Chicken

  3. Guacamole

  2. Enchiladas

And the #1 food that should be low-calorie and low-fat:

  1. Chocolate

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Call to Adventure


Hi all you lovely people!

I'm back from my mini-vacation - and I'm all relaxed and so much not in work mode - LOL. But I'll be around to see you all during the remainder of the week.

I wish all of you could have been with me - such a wonderful time. I'll tell you all about it next week.

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Each time we write a story we take an adventure. A big part of the journey takes place before we ever type the first word. We meet vampires, psychopaths, superheros, pirates, dragons. Maybe even a sheep or two. Or a pizza delivery man.

As we craft our story, our characters take an adventure. Maybe it's on the high seas, in a dark, damp cave, in a glitzy world capital, or in a cornfield. Or maybe even all the way around the block.

And when our story is released, our readers take an adventure all their own. Each reader brings her own experiences and outlooks to our stories and creates a new one of her own.

Sometimes our stories are edge-of-the-seat adventure, sometimes it's tension-filled but the adventure is more subtle. Sometimes the adventure is so funny you can't stop laughing, sometimes it makes you cry. The same adventure may be all of that, and sometimes our hero may fall in or out of love.

As the writer, the choice is yours. Travel paths you haven't visited before. Seek new meanings to familiar events. Explore. Apply your findings to the page.

Go ahead . . . take an adventure.

And let us experience it, too!

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Monday, April 16, 2012

A Tale of Two Phones

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . . we had everything before us, we had nothing before us. . . .
--Charles Dickens
   A Tale of Two Cities

My phone still looks the same. The same little love scratch is still on the screen. But no one is home. It's a shell of its former self. I buried it in my sock drawer.

Mr. Sam Sung went belly up, right on my desk. Not even time for last rites. At least he went quietly instead of blowing up or catching fire. And when I selected a replacement, the folks at the phone store were able to retrieve my messages and phone book and transfer them to New Phone.

Never mind that it took me an hour later that night to figure out why New Phone didn't ring. And how to get beyond the locked screen that said it was unlocked. And add my own images. An hour I could have spent reading. Or answering some of the email in my inbox.

But all of that is now old history. New Phone and I are playing well together. And I hope we have a long and happy relationship.

So I was wondering how I could work this story into a blog post by relating it to something else - like the writing life or writing craft or promotion or any of those other things we deal with on a daily basis.

And I came up empty.

So this one has to stand on its own, regardless of Mr. Dickens' sage words.

Anyone want to buy a slightly abused used phone shell?

Happy Monday!

Update: After I wrote this post, Live-In Handyman surprised me with a mini-vacation. So I'm not really here. I will be around between now and Wednesday, but not too much. See you later in the week!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday's Top Ten

The top ten typos I make over and over and over:

10. hear for here

  9. here for hear

  8. to to or do do for to do

  7. its for it's

  6. it's for its

  5. comapny for company

  4. adn for and

  3. hlep for help

  2. the for they

And the #1 typo I make over and over and over:

  1. Crol for Carol

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kreativ Energy

Yesterday, I was messing around with settings, and saw that Word Verification was set to ON. What? I never turned it on. I turned it OFF a long, long time ago. I don't see a difference either way, so I'm relying on all of you to tell me whether it's on or off for you. If it has been on, I apologize and thank you for wading through it. I wish someone would have told me of the change. If it's been off and now I turned it on, I'll mark it down as another Blogger thingie. Either way, by no later than noon U.S. time - depending on when you guys tell me - it should be off. If it's still on after noon, please let me know. I appreciate your help :)

Now, without further ado....

The other day Sarah at Fanatic for Fiction blessed me with the Kreativ Blogger Award. Sarah is a university student in Belfast . . . and she just had her birthday - she's no longer a teenager - on the day she handed out the award. Go visit and wish her Happy Birthday all week! Oh, and thanks, Sarah :)

The Rules
1. You must thank the person who has given you the award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link the person who has nominated you for the award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5. Nominate 7 other Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs to let them know they have been nominated.

So let's get to it - not sure how much more I can tell you about myself:

1. I'm vertically challenged, topping out a little south of 5'3".

2. I wish I were tall :)

3. I had a happy childhood.

4. I'm much more suck-it-up than oh-you-poor-dear.

5. One of the times I feel most alive is when I'm writing.

6. The glass is always at least half full.

7. I rarely take myself seriously.

As is my recent custom here, this award is yours if you want it. Be sure and take the rules with you - for whatever they're worth :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Have a Heart

Last week I had a lot of thoughts about what to write about in this blog post. After about the third one, I decided I better jot them down so I didn't forget.

Somewhere between then and now, I'm guessing one of the dogs ate my index card. I can't find it any place. I'm certain [of course!] that I wouldn't have grabbed it along with a few other papers and fed it to the shredder.

Now I'm charged with trying to get my itty-bitty brain to remember what I wrote on the card and how I planned to tie it all together.

Words fail me.

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One thing I planned to chat about were the nice folks at Blogger, bless their hearts, and how they can't count. Has anyone else experienced wild changes in the number of comments Blogger says there are and how many there really are?

There would be one number at the bottom of the post and a different number on the comment screen. And neither number matched the actual number of comments. And these numbers changed throughout the day. This went on for 2-3 days.

Maybe they were just messing with me.

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Another thing I was going to mention was how great all you A-Zers are doing. I wish I had time to follow all of you on a daily basis. Sadly, I'm not SuperWoman.

There are a few I'm getting to every day, and the quality of the posts are amazing. Every once in a while I visit a blog I haven't been to in a while and I find another awesome A-Z post. Congratulations to all of you!

The only other thing I remember I wanted to mention was the way a friend of one of my neighbors phrased something. She was talking about how difficult it is for some people to part with possessions, and how she could help. What she said was: Her heart is attached to everything. Mine's not.

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I thought that sort of describes how writers are with our manuscripts and why we need critique partners and beta readers and editors.

Our hearts are attached. Theirs aren't.

But for the life of me, I can't remember what else I planned to say. Whatever it was, must have been what would tie all this together.

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday's Top Ten

The top ten things I learned from the Easter Bunny!*

10. Good things come in small, sugar coated packages.

  9. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

  8. Everyone needs a friend who is all ears.

  7. There's no such thing as too much candy.

  6. All work and no play can make you a basket case.

  5. Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day.

  4. Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits.

  3. Some body parts should be floppy.

  2. Keep your paws off of other people's jelly beans.

And the #1 thing I learned from the Easter Bunny:

  1. A cute tail attracts a lot of attention.


*Shamelessly stolen from an email. Kudos to the writer!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Guest Blogger: Ann Carbine Best

Please welcome Ann Carbine Best to Under the Tiki Hut. I've known Ann for a year or two, and she's a wonderful person. I have not read her memoir, but I have read her novella IMPRISONED and was quite impressed with the the way Ann was able to bring Svetlana's voice alive. So here you go,'s your turn to keep the cabana boys in line for a couple of days.

Thank you, Carol, for hosting me today….

A small press, WiDo Publishing, accepted my memoir IN THE MIRROR, back in December of 2010. It was a long and interesting process that took place at a time when the publishing industry began going through massive changes. It was a major change in my life in other ways, too. Because I was housebound with my disabled daughter, my only means of marketing was through the Internet, so I had to learn how to blog.

There were times when I felt like my seventy-year-old brain was stretched to the limit! So much so that I didn’t think I could ever self-publish. However, at my age, I didn’t want to wait years to publish something else; and I knew that a novella would be a tough sell, especially one that didn’t fall in one of the “popular” genres.

But I had a novella in my files, Svetlana Garetova’s story.

I met Svetlana in 1997 when she was a fill-in aide for my disabled daughter, for a week. On day one, I told her I was interested in miracles and angels stories for a book I was writing. After showering my daughter, she started telling me how she came to America. Instantly I knew she had a dramatically compelling story. I stopped her. “I’ve got to record this,” I said, and got out my tape recorder.

I spent several days transcribing what she told me into story form. But I never did the miracles and angels book, and so her story sat in my file for years. Then last fall when I got it out, I thought, This really is fascinating. IMPRISONED was born.

But I’m getting older by the minute, and don’t have the time or patience to query publishers. And so, because I’ve always enjoyed a challenge, I decided to self-publish it, partly to see if I could do it. I couldn’t do a cover on my own. I absolutely can NOT figure out PhotoShop. So a friend came to my rescue. She said she would do it for free, but I paid her anyway.

This was all I had to pay. From a lifetime of reading and writing, and with my editing and proofreading skills, I knew I could produce an error-free manuscript. I just needed some readers who would tell me if something didn’t make sense.

After they gave me their feedback, I went through the manuscript again and again to make sure everything did make sense, and then I had to figure out how to format it for uploading. It took time, but Mark Coker’s Smashwords guide is designed for dummies like me. Up it went on Smashwords.

However, getting it uploaded to Amazon was another problem. I finally used one of the programs suggested in Amazon’s style guide, Mobi Pocket Creator.

Through a lot of trial and error, it worked!

The last time I saw Svetlana in 2005, she said I could do whatever I wanted to with her story. I think she’d be pleased with the way it turned out.

Brief Synopsis: When Svetlana Garetova flies with her four-year-old son from Moscow in Russia to Salt Lake City in America for a visit with Jimmy Rafael, she becomes very ill. He nurses her to back to health, but when she recovers, she realizes with horror that she has missed the deadline in Moscow to pay protection money for her businesses. Her distraught mother tells her that she would be safer in America, and when Jimmy says he will marry her, she accepts his proposal even though she barely knows him and has some misgivings. On their wedding night, she discovers who he really is, and that she and her son are almost prisoners in his house. She must find a way to escape, and people to help them.

You can download a sample from the beginning of IMPRISONED from Amazon HERE. This link also takes you to my own memoir, IN THE MIRROR.

You can also read a sample of IMPRISONED on one of my blog posts. It’s a scene from the middle of the book, the most dramatic scene in the story.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Buttons and Books

My mother was a domestic goddess. She cooked, she cleaned, she repaired. She painted, gardened, sewed, and more.

Me? Not so much, except for the cooking part.

Because she sewed, she always had boxes filled with rolls of leftover fabric. And jars of buttons.

My grandmother had a button can, but her buttons were different. They were old-fashioned country buttons.

Mom's buttons were all different shapes and sizes and colors. Slick city buttons.

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When I was a little girl, Mom's buttons fascinated me. I played with them for hours. They became roads, houses, buildings, cars, trees, people. I made up stories, moved the people from place to place, played all the parts.

After I finished playing, or when Mom said I had to, I had to put the buttons back in the jar. This was fun, too. Sometimes I scooped them up all at once and dumped them back in. Sometimes I picked them up by color. Sometimes by size. Usually she had to tell me to hurry up.

My roundabout way of getting to the point here is that I've always made up stories about people that I made up.

So maybe I should scout around for some old buttons. Next time I have a plot or character problem or wonder what's next, the buttons might close the gap and keep me on track.

Did you play with buttons when you were a kid?

What was your favorite pretend toy?

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By the way, today is Book Drive Day over at Margo Kelly's blog. Zip over to see what she's doing for Columbia High School and how you can help.

Happy Monday!