Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Field Trip - Spring!

As I sit here watching snow flurries outside my window, I thought I'd share share some cheerier pictures of spring flowers. Thanks to Mom for sending them. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 3

What I'm reading: The Player's Proposal, by Angie Daniels

Quick apology - we were without Internet for a good chunk of the day, and I'm making sure I get this post up in case it goes out again. That means I don't have time for any illustrations. Sorry.

Moving progress. We went to the Post Office yesterday, where we were told our mailbox keys would be ready. No curbside delivery here, so we'll have to schlep to a bank of mailboxes at the end of the street. The half-mile or so wouldn't be too bad, but the return trip is uphill all the way. We'll see how much exercise we want.

At any rate, the Postmaster (that's how she introduced herself, not as Postmistress, so I guess that's correct) was well aware of our arrival and knew exactly where we lived. Her house isn't far from ours, it turns out. She proceeded to fill us in on the neighbors, several of whom are from Florida. Her husband, as a matter of fact, does construction work there for a good part of the year. It took about 20 minutes before we were finished with advice, which included checking for antlers in the yard because the deer like to lie under the trees, and to make sure any bird feeders were hung out of the reach of bears.

Welcome to small-town, country living. Can't wait to get back to working on my manuscript. Plenty of character fodder!

Now, back to the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. Remember, these are simply recaps of what was presented, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of management.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2

Thanks to Ann for giving us that insight into setting. I've got mixed feelings myself—the hardest book to write was Nowhere to Hide, my July release from The Wild Rose Press, because it was set in Orlando, where I'd been living, and I was being very careful to get all the details right. Making stuff up, while maintaining the flavor of a locale, seems to be my favorite approach.

First, a quick personal update. We will have been in the house 2 nights when you read this. We're getting acquainted with how everything works, and spending a lot of time and money at places like Wal-Mart, Costco, and BB&B! I have some new pots and pans, but we're still using paper plates. Tumblers, but no stemware. Clothes are stacked and heaped—not enough hangers. But we're slowly chiseling away at the basics, and hope to start on some of the upgrades soon.

Now, back to the Pikes Peak Writers Conference.

One interesting item I omitted on Monday was the final topic of Barbara Samuel's workshop on Story Design and Values. She presented the Principles of Antagonism as set forth by Robert McKee, in his book, Story.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Using Your Hometown to Set the Mood

Join me in welcoming Ann Ambrosio who shares her love for setting as character in writing.

Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Terry. The location of your story can set the mood and I like to “feel” the place before I write about it. I grew up in the Saratoga Springs, New York area and naturally place much emotion there; that’s why I like to have Saratoga as a setting for a story. I’d like to tell you a little about Saratoga Springs.

Saratoga has a long, rich history. It’s where an important battle took place during the Revolutionary War and where the British General Burgoyne surrendered. Perhaps that’s why I feel a freedom loving spirit in that area. It was first settled in 1776, and it was incorporated in 1819 as a town. It’s now a city of about 26,000 residents and the population swells in the summer with visitors.

During the Revolutionary War Native Americans brought a wounded British soldier to a spring in Saratoga to bathe his wounds. They felt the waters had medicinal properties. Interest in the springs spread through America and Europe.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 1

What I'm reading: Like Mother, Like Daughter (but in a good way), by Jennifer Greene, Nancy Robards Thompson & Peggy Webb

Things got off to a shaky start as we awoke to about a foot of snow. No way my Honda Fit was getting up the steep driveway, and the roads were a mess. A semi couldn't make it up the hill of our street.

But, family is great. My daughter caught my Facebook update and picked me up, so I arrived in plenty of time to check in and get to the first workshops. Since I was a straight "attendee" and not giving any workshops, I went to a workshop in every session. Overall, the focus of this conference is on helping people along the road to publication, but there were plenty of offerings for every level of writer. We never stop learning.

The first was a bit "heavy" for early in the morning. Given by Susan Mitchell, it was about rhetoric and all the nuances of word usage. When someone starts off using Greek terminology, you know you're in for a dense amount of information. Thank goodness for handouts. The most memorable moment was when she mentioned one of her favorite sources, Kenneth Burke. That name was a weekly, if not daily, occurrence in my High School English Lit class. Here's to Mr. Holtby!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Field Trip: Hanging With Wolves

Jason's back, and I thank him for taking the time to send some more of his fantastic wildlife shots. When we were looking at homes in the Divide area, I did a little Googling, and discovered one of the local attractions was the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Rescue Center. So when Jason told me he'd had a chance to go behind the scenes and get up close and personal with some of their critters, I thought it was the perfect time to share them. And I'm definitely putting a visit to the center on my "to do" list.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Closing smooth and fast.

Keeping the Author Invisible

First news: I received an email from the publisher for Where Danger Hides letting me know it'll be released a month early. So look for it in May of 2011, not June. This right after I got an email from my editor saying:

The novel is extremely clean and one of the most enjoyable edits I've had in a long time! Thank you for writing such a great novel, Terry!:-) I'll be in touch by the end of the week with the edits.

Quick personal customer service rant – on Monday, we'd spent hours getting our communications package set up. Most of what we ordered is hooked up at the house itself. But we did order 2 new cell phones. The company doesn't have them in stock at their mall outlet, so they ordered them and said they should be in Wednesday. Cutting to the chase, we did get them, but not easily, and not without 3 phone calls, the first two of which gave us incorrect information. But, we have the phones, and we'll deal with switching not only phones but carriers. I imagine it'll be a steep learning curve. After all, the provider offers classes in learning to use the phone. I don't think that would be necessary if it was intuitive.

OK – back to writing.

I wrote the first scene of chapter two, then let it sit overnight. But, as it tends to happen, lying in bed, I realized I had omitted some important tension between the characters. In the scene, the heroine is observing the hero and the way he's interacting with his sick child. My error was that I knew why the hero was behaving the way he was, which influenced what I wrote. But the heroine didn't, and she was superimposing her own interpretations based on her own experiences. I hadn't shown that, even though I was inside her head in the scene. It's important for the author to remember to keep off the page. That was the next day's rewriting.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Don't Get Bogged Down

What I'm reading: A Cinderella Affair, by A.C. Arthur.

Thanks, Debra for being my guest. Renovating is very much on my mind lately--both in writing and living quarters.

A brief house recap. Closing is still on schedule. We transferred the money to the title company. We got homeowner's insurance. We have the walk-through scheduled. We spent about two hours signing up for television, land phone lines, new cell phones (current carrier has very marginal coverage in that area), internet, and on and on. The Hubster has been diligent about calling the utility companies to make sure everything will be in our name. Meanwhile, I've been looking into the other creature comforts. New pots & pans, bedding, glasses, flatware, and on and on. We got rid of almost everything before we left, and we've been living in a furnished apartment. Bed Bath & Beyond is loving me. And I'm loving their never-expire coupons and rebates.

And, in what seems to be routine, I've got a conference that begins the day after closing. (Anyone else going to the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, search me out. I'll be the stressed out one, and it won't be because I'm worried about pitching.)

And on to writing:

I recently judged contest entries for a RWA chapter for unpublished authors. Since they submit no more than the 1st 25 pages of their manuscripts, I've been Atrying to make sure that the things I was critical of in their work don't show up in mine first few chapters. One of the most common mistakes was bogging down the opening pages in back story.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Renovating and Revising

Today it's my pleasure to welcome fellow Wild Rose Press author Debra St. John to Terry's Place. In between working full time and renovating her 1920's home, she sometimes finds time to pen romance novels. She is currently working on her fourth novel and making plans to remodel the dining room.

Terry, thanks so much for having me here at Terry’s Place today! As I’ve been following your recent journey of moving and house-hunting, it conjured up memories of the experiences we’ve had with our house over the years.

Not long after we were married, my husband and I purchased what some folks might label a “fixer-upper”. The eighty-plus year old (at the time) home had been a two-flat for the entire time of its existence. Thus, it showed the wear and tear of a succession of families moving in and out over time.

Our grand plan was to convert it into a single-family home. We weren’t total “virgins” coming into this. My husband is a painting contractor, so he has some experience in the rehab milieu. I was considerably a bit more wet behind the ears, but willing to learn.And what a learning experience it has been. Nine years later it’s still a work in progress, and it’s been a journey fraught with blood, sweat, and tears along the way. I vividly remember the day we signed the contract on the house. We’d headed out to a little hot dog place for lunch. As I stood in line waiting for my milkshake, my husband must have seen the tears pooling in my eyes. When he asked what was wrong, I looked over at him. I’m sure my dismay was clearly visible in my eyes as I cried, “I can’t believe we bought that place. What were we thinking?” My vision of a dream home had been lost to images of nasty shag carpet, duct taped windows, and cracked plaster.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The WHY Of It All

What I'm reading: Killer Body, by Elle James

I spent several days working on the new manuscript, trying to pay attention to the process along the way, so I could share it here. Since I don't outline the entire book, or even the first few chapters, I thought I'd see if I can elaborate a little more on how I get from a blank page 1 to "the end." It's all about asking WHY.

Recapping last Thursday's post. I started out knowing at least the basics about one of my characters. In this case, because both had made appearances in other books or manuscripts, I knew who the heroine and hero were going to be. I then searched for whatever I'd already established for them.

Sometimes this is good, sometimes it's a snag. My heroine began as a woman on the run, so having her deal with a new identity seemed reasonable. I figured she'd want a plain, common name. Mary seemed perfect. (And easy to type). First snag: The hero's given name was Mark. Mark & Mary wasn't going to work. Or would it? Mark's name was only mentioned a few times in the other books, because he goes by his nickname, Grinch. (His last name is Grinciewicz, which ISN'T easy to type. Heck, I'm not even sure how to pronounce it.) So maybe it would work. But rather than deal with it now, I simply made Mary into Elizabeth. If I want to change it again, I can. Search and Replace can be your friend.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

And the winner is...

Congrats to Susie Kline, who is the winner of a copy of When Danger Calls. Susie, email me at

terry at terryodell dot com

with your address, and I'll get your copy in the mail.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Field Trip - Cripple Creek

What I'm reading: Mona, by Lawrence Block

Reminder - today is the last day to leave a comment on Wednesday's post and have a chance at a copy of When Danger Calls. If you haven't, take a minute. You've got nothing to lose, right?

Wednesday, after we chatted with the contractor about house fixes (and things are still on schedule for an April 22nd closing!), we decided to head up toward Cripple Creek.

We never got as far as the "city" itself, which probably saved us a bunch of money. The hubster had just finished a book I'd picked up at the Pikes Peak Library program called The King of Cripple Creek, and he's always more interested in history anyway. So, when he saw the sign for the Heritage Center, he pulled in. (Or maybe he just needed to pee).

At any rate, we wandered the center learned about the area and the gold rush days. They've still got some active mines, including the Molly Kathleen, which was the first openly owned by a woman. They do tours, and that's another thing on the hubster's to do list.

Once we absorbed what the Heritage Center had to offer, we wandered outside and took some pictures. Although it's not like I've never been to the mountains, it's still breathtaking to see such vistas, especially after living in Florida for over 3 decades. Hope you like them. I'm sure if Jason had been with us, they'd be spectacular, but you're stuck with me and my little point and shoot for most of them.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Back to the Writing Process

First – there's still plenty of time to enter the drawing for a free copy of When Danger Calls. Scroll down to yesterday's post and leave a comment there. But don't forget to come back here.

We were at the house yesterday, meeting with the contractor the sellers hired to make the repairs. Our biggest concern was what was hiding behind the paint on one of the bedroom wall. It was obvious there had been water damage, and we wanted to make sure we saw what was behind the wall to make sure it hadn't been given a quick cosmetic fix. Everything looked good, and the contractor seemed to know his stuff. We talked to him about having him do the "edits and revisions" we'll be wanting after we move in.

This seems kind of like the situation I had with Nowhere to Hide. It had been published before, by a different publisher. When I moved it to The Wild Rose Press, I had a new editor who regarded it as a brand new book, and even though it met "code" since it had passed muster with the previous publisher and editor, the new editor wanted changes. We'll move into a finished product, but we'll be making changes to suit our tastes.

But I'm getting sidetracked again (no surprise there). I have two manuscripts in the submission process. Then there have been the stresses and disruptions resulting from the move, living in cramped quarters, not having everything I'm used to. Somehow, starting a brand new writing project was too easy to set aside. After all, we're starting a brand new living project.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

And the Survey Says -- Plus a Giveaway

Thanks to Robie for her excellent post. As someone who's in transition, I can appreciate it. And thanks to all who took the time to express their votes and opinions about the possible excerpts to use in conjunction with my next Five Star release, Where Danger Hides. And please read to the end of this post -- there's a contest and a free book as the prize. Now for the survey results:

In first place, with 47.5% of the votes, Excerpt #1
In second place, with 18% of the votes, Excerpt #3
In third place, with 16.4% of the votes, Excerpt #4
In fourth place, with 14.8% of the votes, Excerpt #2
And, "none" had a 3.3% share.

I also very much appreciate that more than half of the people who selected an excerpt also gave reasons for their choices, or ranked the excerpts in order of their personal preference.

And, as expected, I suppose, there were lots of reasons given for the individual choices. Some liked a hint of mystery, others liked voice, others mentioned piquing their curiosity. Some said they liked the image the excerpt created, some said they got a good picture of the characters.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Power of Transformation

Today I welcome award winning author, an instructor of online writing courses and a world traveler to Terry's Place--all in one guest. Robie Madison shares some (not so) random thoughts on transformation—a vital component of the Journey Cycle.

First, thanks to Terry not only for the invitation to her blog, but also for her ongoing series about her hunt for a new house. As you’ll soon see, the topic “speaks” to a transformative event going on in my own life.

It all started with a question.

A while ago a friend of mine asked if I’d considered the physiological implications when my 6’4” hero shifts into a 15 foot dragon (my latest work in progress).

Quite frankly, that’s one part of world building I didn’t spend much—okay, any time on. This is fiction, right?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Writing is more than Writing

What I'm reading: Heaven on Earth by Lori Avocato; Untraceable, by Laura Griffin.

I'd received an alert that a local author acquaintance, Beth Groundwater, was going to be doing a program at one of the branches of the Pikes Peak Library District. I figured it was time to mingle with people interested in reading and writing, and plugged the address into my GPS. With only one or two moments of uncertainty, I arrived at the library.

First, I was impressed. Not only was it a large, modern building, but it was busy. On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, when you'd think people would be out adventuring. On the drive in, I noticed the first parking lot said, "overflow parking." I did find a slot in the main lot, but on the way out, both lots were full and cars lined the access road.

The second surprise I got was that this wasn't simply an author doing a program. It was an entire 6 hour mini-conference, an annual "Mountain of Authors" meeting. I knew I couldn't stay all day, but I found Beth, who introduced me to some of the library folks, and I felt like a writer. I picked up information about local writing groups, and chatted with people about writing, doing programs, and participating in their groups. I'd almost forgotten how warm and welcoming writers are.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Friday Field Trip - all around Italy

Today we're going back to Italy, courtesy of some great photos from my mom. She took up photography after we kids had left the house and moved from black-and-white in a bathroom darkroom (which was made easier since we kids had vacated the premises) to color, and then to digital. Welcome, Mom!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Grumble Day

First -- the excerpt survey is still open and active. Hope if you haven't already done so, you'll read the excerpts in Monday's post and then take the survey.

Inspection report. The inspector filed his 52 page report with our Realtor, and she's going through it, point by point, to present our requests to the sellers. So, things are still in limbo until they respond. And for those of you expecting another writing analogy today—sorry. I've been reading contest entries and will get back to writing next week. This is simply a personal rant.

I've spent too much time lately dealing with customer service. There are good ways and not so good ways to deal with customers. When we left Florida, we called our phone company and (so we thought) canceled our land lines but retained our cellular service. Seemed straightforward enough.

The downhill slide began then, although we were unaware of it. A little back story here: We had what the phone company called a "bundled" system, where our land lines (we had two—one for phone and one for fax) and our cell phones (again, two—hubster's and mine) were all connected to a single account, and we paid one bill a month for everything.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Inspection Day

First -- if you haven't read Monday's post and taken the survey, I hope you'll take a few minutes to scroll down and help.

Thanks to Amber for being my guest and making everyone feel welcome yesterday while we were up at our potential new home. Looking at only the superficial aspects of a home wouldn't be wise, so we met with the inspector yesterday. After all, even established authors who sell on synopsis don't have their books published without someone going over them with an eye for all the details.

As the author, we make the manuscript shine as best as possible before sending out to an agent or editor. This is the 'selling' phase, and I went over this in my blog post comparing staging a house to preparing a manuscript for submission.

Now, we're in the next phase. We've chosen a 'manuscript' we like and are moving forward. We hired an inspector to ferret out the flaws. And of course, I found story fodder (more about that at the end of the post).

It was the first time we've seen the property not covered in snow, although the weather was cold enough for some flurries. First stop, though, was at the Irish Deli in Divide for lunch. We've been there once before, and had chatted with the owner (who is also the cook, cashier and wait staff). When we went to place our orders, she asked if we had found a house yet. Given that our other visit was about a month ago, I was impressed. Small town living at its finest.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Yoga As Muse

Today my guest is Amber Polo, romance author who loves travel and uses location to spark her novels, shares the magic of her recent trip to Taos, New Mexico. I'm pleased to turn over the reins to Amber while I'm off dealing with the inspection of our (potential) new home.

I’d like to thank my hostess, Terry, for graciously allowing me to share a place close to my heart on her blog. Thanks, Terry.

I just returned from my 5th Yoga as Muse Writing/Yoga Retreat workshop in Taos, New Mexico. Five days of yoga, writing, and magical Taos spirit. Plus glorious food at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, inspiration to spark creativity, the company of fifteen stimulating writers, and hope for a chance meeting with Georgia O'Keefe's ghost.

The mid-March weather in the high desert is always unpredictable – from warm and sunny to snow - but the fires burn hot with authentic words.

Jeff Davis, writing instructor, coach, and yogi from Accord, NY, has created a gentle energy in New Mexico to recharge the imagination, reconnect to heart, and move writers from their “center to the page.” In groups, we learn how to integrate breath work, mediation, and yoga into a daily practice. In the Taos air, there is time to reflect, walk in nature, stare at mountains, shop, and be struck to write something new or work on an existing piece. Did I mention the wonderful food?

Monday, April 05, 2010

Help Wanted

What I'm reading: The Summer Hideaway, by Susan Wiggs.

What makes you pick up a book? For many, it's the cover. For others, it's the teaser on the back cover. One of the required tasks of Five Star is to complete a multi-page "Ancillary Materials" form. This includes things like author bio, complete synopsis to be used by the art department for cover design, "catalog copy" which they will include in their promotion to libraries, front and back cover flap copy (these are hard cover books with dust jackets) and so on. Another section is the excerpt, which goes on the back cover.

There are a couple of rules for the excerpt. 1: No more than 175 words. 2: It has to be lifted directly from the book. No editing.

It's been a while since I looked at this manuscript, but I had to revisit it to work on the forms. I'm humbly requesting your help here. Heck, I'm groveling!

I've narrowed it down to 4 possibilities. If you'll indulge me and read them, then take the poll (link after the last excerpt) to let me know which you prefer (if any), I'd really, really appreciate it. And if you'd send your friends over, I'd really, really, REALLY appreciate it.

#1 She'd barely managed to shut off the computer and grab her jump drive when she heard voices in the hall. Something about a date. God, with the kazillion bedrooms in this mansion, why would someone sneak in here for a quickie?

"You sure?" another voice whispered.

Even in a whisper, there was no mistaking the gender of the second voice. Male, like the first. Miri closed her eyes and magnified her prayers tenfold. She did not want to think about what might go on while she pretended to be invisible.

Blood drummed in her ears. Footsteps approached. Too late, she realized that when she'd ducked for cover, she'd gone in headfirst, which meant that her butt would be the first thing anyone saw if they checked under the desk. She squished herself into as tiny a package as she could, silently cursing the short skirt the caterer demanded its female staff wear. She wasn't exactly displaying her greatest asset.

Oh God, a warm hand touched that asset. She jerked away.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Friday Field Trip - Portugal & Italy

What I'm reading: Requiem for an Assassin, by Barry Eisler.

A number of years back, the hubster had two meetings in rapid succession: one in the Algarve in Portugal, and the second in Genoa, Italy. While he was busy, I roamed around. These pictures were taken back in the days of film, and then scanned. I didn't think about sizing them for enlargement. Hope they're still acceptable. But first, I'm guest blogging at "Once Written, Twice Shy" today. Pop over there. These pictures will be here when you get back.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


Early on in my writing, when I was submitting, someone I'd send my manuscript asked if I'd ever considered writing category romance. If you're not familiar with the genre, these are the stereotypical "romance novels", virtually synonymous with Harlequin. There are dozens of imprints with several titles in each, and they're released each month.

They're also short. I'd be passing my own halfway point, and they'd be finished. Writing short is too much of a challenge for me.When I wrote my mystery, my target was to finish in 80-90,000 words, which is what the smaller presses are looking for. It came in at over 100,000, so I had to cut. Of course, every word was brilliant, but if I was going to try to market it as my first straight mystery, I couldn't exceed the guidelines. In short, I had only so much space for my words.

Now, assuming the house we've got under contract will actually be our new home, I'll have to take another look at downsizing. But this time, it won't be words, it'll be "stuff."