Monday, June 30, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
I just got a 5 heart review from The Romance Studio, so my ego has been stroked.
The best part was that the reviewer liked one of my cop 'brainstorming' scenes, which I obtained, at great expense by buying beer and food for 3 homicide detectives and watching them interact.
I think I'll take some time off and actually go OUT to a movie. Never do that, but I can't let Indiana Jones get away without seeing him on the big screen. I'll bring my eBookwise to read during the interminable pre-movie commercials, coming attractions, etc. etc. And hope that everyone's taking the kids to Wall-e.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Sit down and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Last night's twenty-minute drive to the airport turned into an hour-long, bumper-to-bumper drive in the rain. Although I would rather have spent the time in the airport baggage area (even remembered to toss my eBookwise in the car) rather than on the Beachline, the timing actually worked out well, as hubby's baggage was slow to appear on the carousel, and he had to wait only a minute or two for my arrival.
The usual post-travel stop for dinner at our local Chinese restaurant was very welcome. As was the second glass of wine I enjoyed. Hubby could drive home. And leftovers mean one less night of cooking.
Wimbledon's in a rain delay at the moment. I need to figure out the "Something Bad Happens Here" moment in Chapter six.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I ran across this little bit (can't find the author to give credit, sorry!) and I think it demonstrates how important some of those little punctuation marks can be.
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous,
kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless
You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings
whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy - will you let me
Now, let's change some of the punctuation and see what happens.
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous,
kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless
You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no
feelings whatsoever. When we're apart, I can be forever happy. Will
you let me be?
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
What I'm writing: Chapter Six
I confess to being hooked on Grand Slam Tennis. Don't ask me why. The only time I ever played was during the "Individual Sports" unit in high school PE. I did try racquetball for a while when it was new. The best part was that it was indoors, in the air conditioning, and if you waited, the ball would come back. I started having the Slams on while I did needlepoint, because you didn't have to watch the matches. If something exceptional happened, you'd hear the crowd, and they'd do an instant replay. The 'thwack-thwack' rhythm of the ball was nice background noise. It's not the same if I'm trying to write.
But with 10 hours of television coverage daily, I'm going to have to do more multi-tasking. I do find the evening hours are fine for writing, but my husband comes home tomorrow after a week out of town, and I'll have to be more available. Like, cooking dinner.
I'm also on the last days of my day job, and dealing with all the loose ends means I'm actually working more hours than when I was working.
But -- yesterday's email brought a new review for Hidden Fire. In the wake of another rejection letter--the very nice, friendly one agents seem to get, but one that had me wondering if the editor, or third-level editorial assistant--actually read the manuscript, it was nice to find another person who thought my writing didn't suck.
From Night Owl Romance
This page-turner turns on the heat between our hero and heroine while circumstances surrounding them seem destined to bring their relationship to an end. Lack of trust runs high, deception seems de rigueur, and unexpected plot twists keep the reader guessing. This was a superb who-dun-it well worth the read.
Read the full review here.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Writing for a small press, and not having another release until December, keeping my name visible is a major but necessary time suck. One of my publishers pointed out a new writing community site, and although I didn't investigate too deeply, it's free, and Susan Wiggs and Amy Tan had pages, so I thought I'd give it a shot.
I now have an author page at The Red Room. Please drop by and check it out. Let me know how I can improve it. I'm still trying to decide if I want to get a video clip up there. Right now, they default the page to whatever they're pushing. I can't say I like the idea of someone else's choices being on 'my' page, but the thought of doing -- or even finding -- a suitable video is something I don't want to deal with right now.
Monday, June 23, 2008
What I'm writing: Chapter 5, scene 2
I took a moment to look at the file for Hidden Fire, and I realized I'd committed an embarrassing sin of omission. In my haste to get a draft manuscript turned in last fall, before leaving on my trip to South Africa, I sent the manuscript to my editor, promising all the ancillary pages would follow if she thought it would fly.
Once the manuscript was accepted, the editing process took precedence, and due to the idiosyncrasies of the forms we send in to the publisher, there is no separation of "Dedication" and "Acknowledgements." Somehow, I never submitted the second half of my intended intro page. The dedication is there, but my thanks to everyone who helped bring the book from a vague idea to the page never made it.
I offer my humble and profuse apologies, as well as prolific thanks to the following, without whose help I'd never have finished the book.
Mark Hussey, Darrell McCaskill, Michael Kispert and Thomas Stroup of the Orange County Sheriff's Office. Your advice and company gave me those bits of realism I needed. Apologies for things I adjusted for the sake of the story.
Major Thomas Fuller, US Army for the XY help.
Wally and the gang at Crimescenewriters for answering questions about anything and everything.
The Novel Alchemy group for their keen eyes.
CJ Lyons, MD, for her medical assistance.
My ever-patient crit partners, Dara Edmondson and Julie Salvo, and all the support from the ladies of CFRW.
Helen Woodall, my editor, and to cover artist Croco.
And, of course, to Dan who helps with absolutely everything.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Romance Reviews Today posted my first review for Hidden Fire.
HIDDEN FIRE is a fantastic story full of suspense and the delightful ups and downs of relationship negotiations. Readers will find Terry Odell’s book a wonderful escape from the daily grind of life. I found the characters’ insecurities and strengths to be loveably human. I give this book thumbs up for bathtub or beach reading.
Read the full review here
Friday, June 20, 2008
What I'm writing: End of chapter 4, gearing up for Chapter 5, scene 1. Also evaluations of contest entries.
The contest I'm judging now doesn't use quantifiable score sheet. Instead, we critique the manuscript, marking it up as we see fit, plus we must write an overall evaluation. Once again, this analysis provides good insight to improving my own writing, as I find myself reading over the previous day's efforts even more critically than usual.
And, in a moment of relative synchronicity, today's Yahoo quote of the day was some excellent advice from the late Kurt Vonnegut.
1. Find a subject you care about.
2. Do not ramble, though.
3. Keep it simple.
4. Have the guts to cut.
5. Sound like yourself.
6. Say what you mean to say.
7. Pity the readers.
I'm especially aware of #6, because dear Mr. Holtby, my high school English teacher pounded this one into us. Tenth grade English was more focused on writing the expository essay, but everyone dreaded seeing SWYM on the paper --- almost as much as the single red line across the page, which meant, "I stopped reading here."
Each day as I try to transcribe what my characters are saying and doing, I have visions of Mr. Holtby's SWYM keeping me in line.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
What I'm writing: Chapter 4, scene 2
The Civilian Police Academy alumni had been invited to 'tag along' at the last to DUI checkpoints. In addition to having completed the basic academy and passed background checks, we bring desserts. The Sheriff's Office is moving toward saturation patrols rather than checkpoints, but the goal is the same: get impaired drivers off the road. And they're requesting our help in getting donations to feed the officers who are on duty, as well as showing up to help serve. In return, if we want, we can ride along with an officer for a few hours, the caveat being that our names will be on the reports as witnesses, so we might be on the receiving end of a subpoena somewhere down the road.
Last night's class was a sobering (pun intended) look at DUI statistics.
In Orange County, Florida
In 2006 there were 1322 crashes attributed to drunk or impaired drivers. 952 of these resulted in injuries. 64 resulted in death.
In 2007, there were 186 fatalities. It's now June, 2008 and there have already been 60 deaths.
The arrest rate for drunk drivers is estimated to be one arrest for every 100 impaired drivers out there. Any recent drop in arrest rate in our county is due to the decreasing manpower, not the decreasing number of drunk drivers.
Between the hours of 6 PM on any given Friday and 6 AM the following Monday, 1 out of 8 drivers is drunk of impaired.
One out of three people will be impacted in some way by a drunk or impaired driver. One out of THREE. Too often, these people are the innocent bystanders, in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In 2005, 14,000 people died in DUI related accidents. In 2007, the number was greater than 16,000.
The number of deaths is growing, and it's equivalent to a jumbo jet crashing once a week for a year. You can't tell me that if that was happening, there wouldn't be massive overhauls to the system.
And those figures are for deaths. There are countless injuries that don't result in death.
In the Orange County Sheriff's Office, there have been FOUR deputies who lost their lives due to drunk drivers. (This doesn't count those who have been unable to return to work after an accident). On the other hand, there have been ZERO deputy deaths due to crime-related shootings.
The idea behind the DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols is not so much to arrest drunk drivers (although that is definitely a goal), but to educate the public that it's a safety issue. You may not be drunk, or even had a single drink. But what about the other folks on the road?Their motto: "If you drink, that's your business; if you drink and drive, that is OUR business."
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
What I'm writing: Chapter Four
A very short post today. Tonight is our Civilian Police Academy Alumni meeting, and the deputy in charge of the DUI stops is going to recap our Memorial Day stop as well as enlist the help of our group for future DUI "events". (I think that means he's going to ask us to organize the food, but that's fine. Those officers deserve some kind of reward for their above and beyond efforts.)
So -- come back tomorrow and I'll let you know what I found out.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
What I'm writing: Chapter 3, scene 2--still--but it's getting there.
I'd forgotten I volunteered to be a contest judge until I got my packet of manuscripts yesterday. I enjoy reading them because they adjust my focus to being critical, and as I find noteworthy bits and pieces, both good and not-so-good, I find I'm more tuned in to what's working and not working and why in my own work.
The Dear Author and Redlines and Deadlines blogs have some interesting discussions and questions about e-books and e-publishing.
The bed was made when I came home from the Y this morning. Does it count if I know he did it because he read yesterday's blog? Hmmm....
Comic strip, PC & Pixel by Thach Bui for June 10th, sent to me by a friend:
Quote of the day, which seems fitting as I'm still wallowing in nailing the first three chapters:
A note of caution: The temptation with a complex plot is to throw everything at the reader at once. Resist this with all your might! In the opening chapters, it's better to hint at the backstory rather than reveal it through lengthy flashbacks, which can bog the story down. Let it unfold gradually.
The Writer, June 2007
Monday, June 16, 2008
What I'm writing: Chapter 3 (was chapter 5) scene 2.
What do you think of as a 'romantic' moment? Flowers and chocolate on Valentine's Day? A glittery something on your birthday? Flowers delivered every Friday?
For me, romantic means thoughtful. Doing something unexpected. Sure, a guy's going to be in deep yogurt if he forgets Valentine's Day, but it's the action that says "I'm thinking of you all on my own" that trips my heartbeat.
Is a Swiss Army knife a romantic present? Some would say no, but the circumstances, not the gift, define the romance. Years ago, I watched MacGyver. Hubby could take it or leave it, and it definitely wasn't a 'let's sit down and watch this together' sort of a show. I was vaguely aware that he'd come into the room, but didn't even turn my attention from the set. When Mac got out his trusty knife, I mumbled, "Why don't I have one of those?" So when I unwrapped my birthday present and found my very own "mini-MacGyver" (hubby wasn't sure I was ready for the real MacGyver version), I was thrilled. Not for the knife, but for the fact that he actually heard me, even when I wasn't staring right at him, and making a specific request.
Sometimes the gifts can be glittery – such as the time when hubby and one of our daughters were out for dinner. Afterward, as we walked through the strip mall toward our car, I decided to look in the jewelry store. Hubby was definitely against it, but daughter and I pointed out things we liked while hubby grumbled. The next week was Valentine's Day, and daughter and I each received one of the, "that's nice" pieces.
Other things that say romance to me:
Hubby saying, "You're working hard, how about if I take over washing the dishes and one baby feeding every day". Bonus points for it being the 2 AM feeding.
Hubby poking his head into my office where I'm busy typing away, and saying, "Dinner will be ready in 20 minutes."
Coming back from the Y and finding the bed made.
Hubby saying, "I'm making eggs, should I cook some for you?"
Note: leaving the dirty frying pan on the stove 'in case you wanted to have eggs' is NOT thoughtful and romantic.
If we have to ask, it's not romantic. If those Friday flowers are because you (or your secretary) has a standing order at the florist, it's not romantic. If, however, you bring home flowers for no reason other than, "You looked sad when you had to throw out the last ones," then that IS romantic.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Literacy, or the lack of it, is a major problem in our country. While Nora Roberts can afford to donate much larger sums of money than I can, at least by giving a day of my time once a month, I can do my part.
Check out ProLiteracy Worldwide to find a program in your area. And if you don't have time, yes they all take checks.
What are you doing to give back to your community?
Friday, June 13, 2008
I'm definitely not a speech-giver. Talker, yes. Ask anyone who knows me. Talking is easy. Making sense, staying focused -- well, that might be another issue.
However, I decided to keep things informal. I have bullet point notes and handouts about all the things I learned when I started writing for other's eyes. Maybe I'll post these here as weekly or monthly craft topics.
So, here's my 'talk.' I'm hoping it'll be an informal Q&A, and I'll let those who made the effort to attend drive the discussion.
Point of View – choosing the right head and staying there.
This is a conscious decision on the part of the author. There's no 'right' or 'wrong' but it needs to work to draw the reader in. Current convention prefers one scene, one POV. So, what's a scene?
Scenes aren't just those double spaces or cute symbols. Think theater backdrops.
Show, Don't Tell, or slow down and describe the roses.
Avoid Back Story Dumps
Description – one of my major 'skip-overs' as a reader. And, as a mystery reader, if the blouse is blue, there had better be a good reason for me to know it.
Only Trouble is Interesting.
Characters. Make your readers love 'em. Back to that show don't tell lesson.
Dialog. Get past the mechanics. Eventually, you won't have to think about commas and quote marks; your fingers will do it.
Your Words Aren't Precious. If it sounds like a writer's voice, kill it.
You Can't Fix A Blank Page. Barf it all out, clean it up later.
READ, READ, READ. WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. BICFOK.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Everyone knows characters have full, rich lives. Experiences that shaped them into who they are on the page. Some writers will write pages and pages of 'autobiography' for their characters before typing word one. After all, if a reader doesn't care about a character, why will they read the book. And how can they care if they don't know anything about her? Right? Wrong.I'm over at Title Magic today, discussing back story. Please drop by and leave a comment. Pretty please?
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Despite a signed contract, three rounds of edits and getting cover quotes from authors, the book doesn't seem real until there's a cover. No matter that I don't have page proofs yet, or ARCs. Once there's a cover, it's a BOOK!
My first impression? It's BLUE. But I think it says "action adventure" more than "romance", which I like. And they spelled my name right.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Lately, every time I check one of my on-line groups, I'm seeing "Check out my book trailer". I'm still on the wrong side of the fence with these, I think, but with their increasing popularity, maybe I'm wrong (won't be the first -- or the last-- time). But to me, it seems strange to judge a written medium with a visual one.
Also, people seem enthralled with all the bells and whistles they can use, so they throw them all in there. Fancy dissolves, sparkling, bouncing text, backgrounds that obscure what you're trying to read. Why? If there are words on the screen, isn't the purpose to be able to READ them?
My take: When I want to read a book by an author I know and trust, I pick it up without the need of a 'sell'. I belong to the Mystery Guild, and they send a monthly catalog. I look at the blurbs. In the library or book store, I pick up a book and read the back cover copy, then read a page or two. If I'm shopping on line and have never read (or sometimes even heard of) the author, I go to the blurb, then read an excerpt.
I can't see that a 'movie clip' about a book is going to give me what I need to decide to buy. What I'm looking for is good writing. How does a movie clip let me judge that?
Then, there's length. Some of these go on for 5 minutes. I can usually tell within 30 seconds of reading an excerpt if I want to read the book. Why should I spend five minutes "reading" at someone else's speed? That reminds me of those old filmstrips in school. (Showing my age again--I'll bet most of the readers here have no clue what I'm talking about--think of it as an early precursor to PowerPoint.) I would always be done reading whatever was on the screen long before the little 'ding' said move on. If I click over to a YouTube clip and the time shows more than a minute, I'm gone.
Another pet peeve -- websites that open trailers as soon as you click to the site. If I'm browsing, odds are I'll have my iTunes going. Getting a jolt of someone's trailer music is an immediate turnoff. If you want to attract me as a potential reader, you'll do better to have an optional 'click here for trailer' button. Then again, Nora Roberts is advertising her books on television.
Maybe this is one more thing that makes me feel old. (Here's my idea of a clip worth my time -- and it's NOT a book trailer, just something another "old" friend sent).
Do you go out of your way to check out trailers? Have you ever bought a book based on seeing a trailer? Did it live up to expectations?
Monday, June 09, 2008
What I'm working on: Library presentation for Friday.
I figured that with the possibility of a significant moment in sports, I'd watch the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, so I could say I had. Not all the pre-race hype; I tuned in as the horses were being loaded into the gate.
Does anyone else think the television coverage went a little (ok, a LOT) overboard on Big Brown losing the Belmont? He came in dead last, which I'll agree was a story, but to totally ignore the winning horse seems a bit rude. I mean, since when don't you mention the WINNER?
Our local paper's sports section this morning wasn't much better. The headline said "BIG FROWN" and it took five paragraphs into the story for a quick mention of who actually won the race, and then went right back to Big Brown.
My theory – the media had done all its story research and probably had the stories 90% written before the race, so they went with that, but what was television's excuse. Even when the picture cut to Da' Tara getting the flowers and being led to the winner's circle, all the audio and all the interviews were of Big Brown's jockey, the veterinarian, and anyone else they could find.
Or maybe they'd built Big Brown up so much, they had to justify why they were wrong?
Am I the only one who finds this reporting biased? Other opinions as to why a horse's moment of glory would be diminished by hype?
Friday, June 06, 2008
My day job for the past 10 years or so has been as part-time administrative assistant for an international not for profit scientific organization. Its Board of Directors are all volunteers, serving for two year periods. Over the years I've been associated with the society, I've worked with a fair number of these folks. Some regard their responsibilities as things to deal with in their spare time; others take their terms of tenure very seriously. (Not really that different from those who work at paid jobs.)
I've been working for/with one of the officers for several years now, and he's one of the good guys. I know if I have a question, he'll be there with an answer right away. I've been working on my transitioning out of the organization, and popped him an email a couple of days ago with some things that fell under his domain. I was shocked to get this as his answer:
A tornado took out our neighborhood and home yesterday and we are living our of our car and a hotel at night.He doesn't live in what I'd consider a tornado prone part of the country.
But the kicker was that he'd be out of touch for 'a couple of days'. This is a major life disruption, and I wouldn't expect him to be back at a volunteer "job" for a couple of weeks at the very least--months would be understandable.
My heart goes out to anyone who suffers such a sudden and devastating loss. True, material goods are just "things" and life takes priority, but to lose so much with no warning has to be a life-altering shocker. It reminds me not to take anything for granted. And to be thankful for the good guys.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Because my books are digital long before they're in print, and even in print, are still hard to find on bookstore shelves (but you can go to the customer service counter and request them), I've decided it's only fair to offer a 'try before you buy' option on my website. Instead of brief excerpts, I've uploaded the first chapters of my Cerridwen Press novels. It's the next best thing to wandering the shelves in the book store browsing through pages at random to see if a book looks like a fit.
You can find these reads on my updated website.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
So, if you're interested, here's the link.
What I'm writing. Chapter 5, and my guest blog column for June 12 at Title Magic.
Admitting defeat, yesterday I took my new phone and the two pages of instructions I'd printed from the manual. The ones where the steps on the page didn't match the steps on my phone menus. I learned I'm totally out of it when it comes to understanding technology terminology. Sometimes it's nice to be a little old lady, because the kids at the phone store don't expect you to have a clue, and they're very patient.
When I bought the phone, the sales guy took my old sim card and transferred all my contacts to my new phone. I could press 'contacts' and there was my list in all its jumbled glory. And the phone made calls to those folks. As I mentioned in Saturday's blog, however, I couldn't get some of the features to work, such as the personalized ring tones. After all, it's nice to know immediately if it's your agent calling. Or your husband.
Well, guess what I learned. All those contacts were "on" my phone, but they weren't "in" my phone. Or is it the other way around. Seems that the sim card list isn't really integrated into the phone's memory, or something like that, so I had to copy any contacts I wanted to edit and once they were in the phone, the step by step menus worked. And there are even different icons so now I know who's inside and who's just hanging on my sim card. Which I'm supposed to sync with my PC, which is somewhere I'm not ready to go just yet. I can see me crashing my entire computer. Or exploding my phone.
Maybe I'll just find the instructions for solitaire. The phone's supposed to do that, too.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
What's in a Name? has been selected as a finalist in the Single Title Romantic Mystery/Suspense Category of the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery Suspense. This is a well-respected contest sponsored by the Kiss of Death chapter of Romance Writers of America. There are a lot of familiar names among the finalists, and I'm delighted to be one of them. The Single Title category finalists.
"Overkill" by Linda Castillo
Editor- Cindy Hwang, Berkley
"Into the Dark" by Cindy Gerard
Editor- Monique Patterson, St. Martin's Press
"Dead Giveaway" by Brenda Novak
Editor- Paula Eykelhof, Mira
"What's in a Name?" by Terry Odell
Editor- Helen Woodall, Cerridwen Press
"Head On" by Colleen Thompson
Editor- Alicia Condon, Dorchester
In addition to personal gratification, I think it proves that small publishing houses can hang with the big NY players. The winner is announced at the RWA National Conference at the Kiss of Death's annual Death by Chocolate party. What could be better than that!
Monday, June 02, 2008
I got curious about how people found this blog. I'm not exactly a 'big name'. So, for the month of May, I tracked all the search engine words that brought people to this site. After eliminating those who were actually looking for me specifically, this is what I ended up with:
6 class civilian post
behind the scene sex scene
between her legs
brockmann into the fire
bullet catchers apprentice blogspot
buy voice stress analyzer
central florida dui checkpoints
cerridwen press in print
coldest winter in florida
computerized voice stress analyzer
counting to 10 in Africa
dead heat audiobook dick francis
drink coasters one liners
excerpt: into the fire by suzanne brockmann
frustrations with research
funniest character names
funny names that don't fit ironic
gayle wilson award of excellence
how can i reenforce pages in a ring binder
hurricane breeze paper
hurricane count down
hwuhwule game reserve
interview in progress sign
jason santiago good nite
jason santiago-central florida location
jonathan odell the last safe place
male pov sites
marjorie m. liu
military civilian police academy test quiz
my chip carving-give away contest
police class 5
polygraph have you ever had sex with an animal
polygraph say no to everything
reading programs nora
retirement jobs handyman
righting a tipped-over motorcycle
sara dennis no accounting for chase
scoring guide for a womanless contest
severe back pain, begged for backrub
sex bed scenes
short sex scene
smartours south Africa
spoilers: into the fire by suzanne brockmann
suzanne brockmann ebook - over the edge
syneca cover art
terry exterminator place
terry meanings names
terry odell irad
terryodell free reads
terry's place hair Chicago
the dreaded synopsis
the waiter slipped his hand under the table up her leg her date opened her playing with her nipples
trouble fundraising with team in training
what to wear for chp voice stress analysis test
why men apologize
I wonder -- were you looking for me when you came here? How did you find me?