Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Today my guest is author Mark Danielson. Some of you may remember his great pictures from an earlier Friday Field Trip post. He's shared his pictures. Now it's his turn to share some words, showing us the world from his perspective.

I wish every American could see the world as I have, for travel promotes global understanding. As a fighter pilot stationed in Korea in 1977, I traveled extensively throughout Asia. As a current airline pilot, I have circumnavigated the world countless times. While each trip is unique, my experience has shown that politics aside, people are people, regardless of how they dress, the color of their skin, the religion they practice, or the language they speak.

From thirty-five thousand feet, there are no borders, the air is clear, the earth a cornucopia of color. Cities spread like spilt milk, rivers and highways are capillaries, mountain ranges resemble lemon meringue pies, and there is no evidence of war. Welcome to Utopia.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

What I'm reading: 61 Hours, by Lee Child

Actually, what I'm really, really, really reading are copy edits for Where Danger Hides.

We spend a lot of time trying to ensure our work is perfect. Are my margins right? Correct font? Chapter headers starting in the right place? Should I use numerals or write out the words? Headers? Footers? Page numbers? How do I denote scene breaks? How many spaces at the end of a sentence?

We stress about rules—which are fixed in stone, which are flexible, and which are brittle enough to break. We worry about the details—too much telling, too many POV characters, too much head hopping. Does the plot hold true? Did I do enough homework? Are the details right, or will I look like an idiot putting Ponderosa pines where there ought to be spruce trees?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Field Trip - Cripple Creek

Here are the promised pictures. It was an overcast, chilly morning, but the scenery was still remarkable. Hope you enjoy them. Commentary can be found in yesterday's post. Although Cripple Creek is a tourist attraction, there's still an active gold mine (conglomerate, actually) in the area.

Leftover mining stuff

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back from Cripple Creek

What I'm reading: Whiplash by Catherine Coulter

We're back. And why does going away for 24 hours put you three days behind?

For anyone who doesn't know Cripple Creek, it's an old mining town that's turned into a tourist attraction. Some history, but mostly gaming. Hubster and I are anything but gamblers, but we wanted to check out the place. Hubster IS into history, mining, and trains, so he tolerated the fact that just about every establishment there was there for gambling.

We arrived shortly before noon, so our first stop was the Cripple Creek and Victor Railroad. The next train departed at noon, so we bought tickets for that trip. It's about a 45 minute ride, from Cripple Creek to Anaconda, and then back (in reverse). It's a steam-powered engine, and runs on a narrow gauge track (which was more meaningful to Hubster than myself). But it was interesting to watch the engineer shovel coal to keep the fire stoked, and made you wonder what it would have been like living back then with all the smoke and cinders in the air.We had a bonus on our trip, as there was a small tree threatening to fall on the tracks. A second crewman was aboard to that point, and he jumped off to deal with it. On the return, "dealing with it" meant using the locomotive to pull the tree down. No chain saws, nothing but some rope and "train muscle."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vague is OK

Since I'm writing this post on Sunday I can't report on our Cripple Creek anniversary getaway. Yet. I know Hubster is looking forward to riding the narrow-gauge train. And thanks to Autumn for covering things yesterday.

Back to my non-plotting. One of my crit partners is aghast that I don't nail more specific details before I write.

For my WIP, I am more or less locked into another plot point. The heroine's husband's abuse escalated big time after his father died. Again, that's in my May 2011 release, so I can't change it. (Of course, that's being optimistic that this WIP will see publication, but I have to write it as if it will.) About the only other things we know about the husband is that he's very possessive, and social status is number one on his priority list.

Thus, I needed a good reason to explain why everything went south after the father died. My reasoning said it was because the father was involved in something shady, and somehow, the heroine's husband was now involved.

My questions: Why would he let himself be dragged in, especially since his father was dead? Given his established character, it might be something that if he doesn't do it, his standing in the community will plummet. A chat with Detective Hussey (if you're new here and don't know who he is, he's a very real homicide detective, and that's his real name--scroll through the archives for "Homicide Hussey" posts) assured me this was a reasonable motivation.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

He’s Not Perfect But He’s Mine

Today, I'm turning Terry's Place over to Autumn Jordon while the hubster and I go to Cripple Creek for our 41st anniversary. I know you're in good hands. (As am I.) And, no, Autumn's title has nothing to do with my husband. Just one of those coincidences. Weclome, Autumn.

I love a good romance story, don’t you? And I love a hero who is imperfect.

Screech …

What did I say? I love a hero who’s not perfect. That’s right. It’s true.

Why you ask? Because perfect heroes are boring. They’re not real. Can you name one man you know who is still perfect, after the third date, when the stars in your eyes are dimmed by the wakening dawn?

I see you nodding your head frantically and displaying your engagement ring or wedding band. Very nice, but admit it, the guy who is perfect for you is not perfect. He probably has a habit that makes you itch to hide his channel changer at times.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Trust Your Subconscious

What I'm reading: French Pressed, by Cleo Coyle

We pause for these commercial messages…Digi Books Café has a 20% discount offer on all e-books. NOWHERE TO HIDE is one of those books, so if you've been contemplating reading it, this is probably the cheapest way to get it. The coupon code is e3d9d10a3c. Link to the book is here.

Of course, if you 'd rather have a personalized hard copy, you can email me and I'll send you one (or any of my other print books).

Friday's special treat of seeing one of my Free Reads, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PAGE, get some unexpected publicity still makes me smile. If you missed it, you can see the article here. The link to the download itself is here . And, for the record, Hubster even downloaded the Kindle app for his phone so he could "buy" the story and help keep its sales ranking up there.

As you read this, contractor gods willing, our guys should be finishing up installation of the new "front" door and getting the new lights and mirrors in the bathrooms. We finally got delivery of our nightstands, so no more cardboard boxes. Next up: exterior pressure cleaning and a new coat or two of stain.

As for writing …

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Kindle Surprise

Surprise, surprise - One of my free reads, 'THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PAGE" was a featured pick at "Kindle Nation" today. A serendipitous discovery. (You have to scroll down a bit to find it)

Or, the direct link to download the story is here.

Friday Field Trip - Vancouver Island

First, I'm over at the Author Expressions blog today, talking about what I learned at a Brenda Novak workshop on Romantic Suspense. Hope you'll stop by.

Next, there's a new contest with a cool prize. Click the contest tab.

And now, back on the road, this time with my sister-in-law, Amy Daraghy, who recently took a vacation trip to Vancouver Island. Amy's been my nature consultant for my books-her knowledge of what grows where my books are set is invaluable. So it's not unexpected that the pictures she sent are scenic. Clicking an image should open an enlarged version. Enjoy! (And these are only a tiny sample of what she sent, so there will be more Friday trips with Amy in the works.)

Along Highway 19 Between Port Hardy & Duncan

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's Been How Long?

What I'm reading: Infamous, by Suzanne Brockmann

Yesterday, when I started on my usual blog rounds, I noticed that Elizabeth Spann Craig, a frequent visitor here, mentioned that she'd been blogging since May of 2009 and was taking a 'blogcation' for about a week.

That got me thinking ... how long has this blog been around? I went to the archives and discovered I've been here at Terry's Place since July 10, 2006. Over the years, things have changed. I've learned more about the business. I've learned more about blogging. And I've watched the user interface with Blogger change as well.

I thought it would be fun to re-post my initial blog here, and you can see how things have changed. (The following has not been edited.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More Choices

What I'm reading: The Black Cat, by Martha Grimes

Thanks, J.L. for your post yesterday. A lot of those authors are on my Keeper Shelf as well.

Today, as well as being here, I'm at the Single Titles blog, discussing multi-layered characters.

Since Monday's blog on Choices seemed to generate some interest, I thought I'd take it a little further with some examples.

Writing professionals much more knowledgeable than I have stressed that your characters must want something in every scene, even if it's only a glass of water.

For any "want" there are three possible outcomes: Yes, No, or Yes, but.

Let's see what happens with each.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Blog Pick of the Day

Quick note: Last night I was notified that yesterday's blog post, "Choices" was chosen as the Red Room pick of the day for today, Tuesday. If you haven't read it, either pop over to Red Room or scroll down--but be sure to come back to read J.L. Wilson's post!

Good Reads vs Good Books

Today my guest is the prolific author, J.L. Wilson.She's here today to chat about how her reading tastes have (and have not) changed over the years. What’s on your Keeper shelf? And what has influenced your writing?.

First off, thanks to Terry for letting me blog here today. I had an interesting experience lately that I’d like to share. When I was in Colorado in July for a conference my niece and her new husband (they’ve been married a year) met me for dinner. Her husband said that he’d like to try some new authors and I mentioned some names off the top of my head. My niece just sent me an email, asking for recommendations so she could buy him a book or two for his birthday—and I have no idea who I listed back then. So I started to recreate the list for her.

I thought this would be simple. I started to email her back with a few ideas, then I stopped and thought. What authors/books had I read in the past that led me to new authors, or to new genres, or to new insights? What books weren’t just “good reads” but were ones that intrigued me or made me think? In short: what were Good Books.

Monday, August 16, 2010


What I’m reading: The Executor, by Jesse Kellerman


Today's the last day to enter Cleo Coyle's contest – don't miss your chance for some great prizes. Click the Contest tab for details.

If you’re writing, you’re told to put some kind of conflict on every page. These conflicts don’t have to be life-threatening, or even fear-inducing for your characters. Sometimes they can be ordinary. The important thing to remember is that the character must make a choice.

A simple, real-life example. Saturday afternoon, the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America had a summer pot-luck social. At the same time, our homeowners’ association had a summer pot-luck social. Given they happened at the same time, trying to attend both wasn’t an option. Conflict.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Field Trip - Back to Florissant

First - don't forget the contests. Deadlines to enter are this weekend.
Second - Happy Friday the 13th.

Yesterday, hubster and I went on a drive through some of the back county roads, saw two wild turkeys and went back to the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument to walk the Petrified Forest loop again.

I know I posted pictures from there once before, but I thought it might be interesting to do it again. Unlike Florida, there are SEASONS here, and the difference between June and August is noteable. Besides, it's just a darn pretty area. And hubster was happy because it's been raining a lot, and there were mushrooms. One Friday, I'll get him to share his hobby.

If you're interested in comparing the views, the original post is here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Stats and the Author Ego

Yesterday's talk about supporting others, hit counters, and the author ego led me to today's post. (And thanks for all the comments).

A note – it's not a particularly 'fun' post today, although I don't mean it to come across as whining, but if you'd rather go off and play, here's a book cover challenge someone posted on Twitter. Enjoy (and if you play, feel free to post your results in the comments.)

Author egos tend to be fragile things. Every time we release something to the public, we fear it's going to crash and burn. So, here are some ego-wrinklers.

Author J.A. Konrath swears that giving books or short stories away, including via piracy, is still good for the author. He cites his Kindle sales figures, saying he's now making more money than he ever did via his traditional publisher's advances and royalties.

However, he had a strong-selling series of mass market books, and a hefty list of offerings. He's also the consummate promoter. I don't think he can generalize and say his route is the one to follow, because there are too many variables in the mix.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's Not About Reciprocity

What I'm reading: Death Watch, by John Sandford

Thanks, Susan for your thought-provoking post yesterday, and good luck with writing the book. I hope you do.

We had our first non-family guests the other day—a colleague of both mine and my husband's from my marine mammal conference days, his wife and his mother. They were interested in my writing and asked if they could buy a book, and if I'd autograph it. (No brainer, eh?). But what one said when I signed their books surprised me. She said she probably wouldn't get around to reading it, but she thought it was special to have a book signed by someone she knew.

(Reality intervenes here—while I'd like her to read the book, and like it enough to recommend it to others and maybe even buy another one, I took her money without hesitating.)

One thing I learned was that although writers are very supportive of each other, you can't expect reciprocity. When I first joined my local RWA chapter, authors would show off their new releases, and I'd gladly buy them, regardless of sub-genre, because these were my immediate writing colleagues. It didn't really matter that I probably wouldn't have picked up their books if I didn't know them personally.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One Book I May Never Write

Today I'm pleased to welcome author Susan Oleksiw. She's well-known for her mystery novels and reference works, but today she talks about another book topic that has been hovering in the background of her life for years. Will she write this book or not?

For the last few years I have been grappling with my identity—not the one that shows up at work and efficiently gets things done, or the one that goes out to lunch with friends and always finds something to laugh about, not even the one that has learned to admit to strangers that, yes, I’m a writer. No, this is the one that I don’t quite know what to do with.

During one of those late night conversations in college, a psychology major talked about the many kinds of personalities we each have, how we are different with different social sets—family, friends, professional groups. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but his words have come back to haunt me because now I’m grappling with a forgotten self that won’t stay forgotten. So, I’ve been doing what any writer would do about this problem—I’m planning to write a book.

Monday, August 09, 2010

There Are No Rules

What I'm reading: Split Image by Robert B. Parker

Contest reminder: There are two contest going on for another week. Click the contest tab above for details – plenty of prizes, and a surprising dearth of entries – join in!

And check the sidebar--I've added another short story to Smashwords. This one's the unpublished prologue to Finding Sarah.

On my recent hopping around the blogosphere, I've noticed many posts listing "rules" about writing. Of course, nothing will get my contrary nature fired up faster than trying to tell me to follow specific rules—especially if I don't agree with them.

In my early, naïve days of thinking I might want to put my works out somewhere other than my hard drive, I was clueless. If you've read any of my bio information, you'll know that I wasn't a romance reader, so when my daughters told me I was really writing a romance, I listened to some friends who suggested I join a RWA chapter.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Friday Field Trip - A Foodie's look at Europe

First - A previous guest blogger, Cleo Coyle is having a major giveaway for her new release, and I'm sharing her contest information. Check the contest tab. And don't forget to enter my swag contest. I've got books and goodies to give away.

If you've been visiting Terry's Place for a while, you might remember my brother's posts about his trip to New Orleans with the Culinary Corps. If not, you can find his first post here, and the second one here.

He recently went on a trip to Germany and France, and being a former chef, looked at things from a culinary perspective as well as that of a tourist. He's been kind enough not only to share pictures for my Friday Field Trip, but also to give commentary. Welcome back, Mark Carter.

The first picture is of a street band, The Rathaus Ramblers, that was performing at the weekly Turkish market in Berlin. It's a great outdoor market that stretches for a few blocks in the Kreuzberg. Berlin has the third largest Turkish population of any city. They were playing a mix of swing jazz, klezmer and ragtime. See them at http://www.myspace.com/rathausramblers. I never could figure out if the banjo player's beard was real.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Getting Started

What I'm reading: Decaffeinated Corpse by Cleo Coyle

First I'd like to share another review for Nowhere to Hide, from Happily Ever After Reviews.

NOWHERE TO HIDE is a romantic suspense that will leave you guessing until the end. Ms. Odell’s characters breathe off the page and beg you to join them in a world of desire, lies, and yellow police tape. Once you start, you will not want to put this book down.

Next, my office is almost fully furnished. I got my comfy rocker-recliner reading chair yesterday. Really adds something, doesn't it.

As for the "meat" of today's blog, it's over at Patricia Stoltey's blog. She interviews authors about how they got started. My route was a little unconventional. Hope you'll head over and read it.

Comments welcome both here and there.

And tomorrow—don't forget it's Friday, and we're taking our Field Trip to Europe.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Wrapping up POV

Thanks to Tom for sharing his new project. I hope everyone had a chance to read it--and took the 3 minutes to watch the video clip, and check out his blog. As a parent and a former teacher, I couldn't help but feel the passion he has for dealing with these deplorable conditions.

As promised, here's the analysis of yesterday's over the top example of writing without understanding the need for a consistent point of view. This is an example of an attempt at third person point of view.

Mary entered the room. John thought she was the most amazing woman he'd ever seen. Mary walked past without seeing him. She went straight to the patio where the buffet was set up. Seeing trays heaped with caviar, her favorite delicacy, she picked up a plate and waited in line. The breeze ruffled the floral chiffon of her dress. She wondered if her long auburn hair would get mussed. No, she thought. She'd sprayed it with enough hairspray to withstand a hurricane. She scooped caviar onto her plate as John stepped into line behind her, a smile on his face. A tiny furrow appeared in her brow, and her green eyes narrowed.

Let's take it line by line, looking only at point of view.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

School Pride

I first met SWAT Commander Tom Stroup while at the Y in Orlando. He taught a special workout class (which I admit I never took--too intimidating) but was there in his work clothes, which included prominently displayed badge and gun. I introduced myself and asked if he'd mind answering some writing-related questions. He was most gracious and we set up a meet at the local Starbucks, where the "don't use stereotypes" credo was reinforced when he ordered tea, not coffee. Not only did he answer my questions, but he invited me on a tour of the Central Ops building, where I picked up a lot of the 'local color' found in Nowhere to Hide.

I had an e-mail from him recently about his latest venture, which is not related to his law enforcement work, and it was fascinating, so I asked him to share it with my readers. And be sure to watch the video clip at the end. Welcome, Commander Tom Stroup!

I am a SWAT Commander for a large metropolitan police department, and here I sit in an airport in Vermont waiting for a plane to take me to Detroit, Michigan. I will arrive in Detroit on Saturday evening and I will begin work on Sunday morning. I will be the co-host of a new NBC reality show called “School Pride”. We will have 7 days to totally rebuild an ailing school.

The story of how I went from SWAT Commander to TV host is fascinating, but will have to wait for another time. The real story is why do schools in America need to be rebuilt? The first episode of School Pride will air on September 24, 2010. We will rebuild 7 schools across America.

I knew that there were “issues” with the American educational system, but I was not prepared for what I soon discovered. I expected to find schools that needed a fresh coat of paint, and I knew that teachers were overworked and underpaid.

Monday, August 02, 2010

And Even More on POV

What I'm reading: Whisper of Warning, by Laura Griffin

Before we move on with today's topic, NOWHERE TO HIDE got a top rated review from Romance Junkies. It's gratifying to see that even though I'm outside the box with a romantic suspense, the reviewer not only recognized it as a mystery, but enjoyed it as well!

The Point of View chat at Savvy Writers last Thursday went very well—at least judging from the folks who emailed me afterward asking for my handout. Thanks all for the suggestions you gave here. I figured I might as well post the next installment, since the topic seemed to be of interest. One of the aspects that didn't lend itself to the chat format was taking a passage written in one POV and change it to another. This can be a good way to show where you're writing shaky POV.