Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year and Contest Recap

Farewell, 2011. Welcome 2012.


A few updates for the end of the year.

First, thanks to all my followers, friends, readers, "likers" and commenters. I write this blog as much for you as I do for myself. And a special thank you to those who have bought and read my books, with even more thanks to those who have taken the time to tweet, rate, or review them somewhere in cyberspace.

My newsletter is just about ready to send, and thanks again for all the feedback. There's still time to sign up so you won't miss the first issue of 2012. And I'm having an exclusive giveaway for those getting my newsletter, so if you haven't signed up, be sure to take a minute to do it now.


And my ongoing book giveaway contest … although I didn't hit all my goals, I'm still giving away books. But if you want some, you have to enter.

A recap:

I'm cleaning out overflow on my bookshelves. Some new, some gently read. Some autographed. Maybe even a 'collector's item' from my box out of print books. I'll stuff as many as will fit in flat rate priority mail box.

There are five ways to enter, and you get one entry for each:

1. Follow the blog on Google Friend Connect (sidebar)
2. "Like" the blog (sidebar)
3. Sign up for my newsletter at my website
(remember it's a 2 step process; you have to click through the confirmation email)
4. Share a recipe for my What's Cooking Wednesday
5. Share photos for my Friday Field Trips.

Send your entry to contest @ terryodell. com (remove spaces) Put "Big Giveaway" in the subject line. 1 email is enough, just tell me what categories you're entering, and I'll add your name to the list as many times as needed.

Contest entry deadline: Friday, January 6, 2012. 

And don't forget the Backlist eBooks 99 cent sale. It ends Jan 8th, so don't miss your chance to pick up some great bargains from some great authors. Deadly Secrets is my sale book, but you can find others here.

Also, if there's anything you'd like to see more (or less) of on this blog, you can let me know at terry @ terryodell. com (again, remove spaces)

Have a safe, healthy, productive and Happy New Year! See you in 2012.


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Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Field Trip - Birds (not angry)

I asked Jason if he had any more pictures to share. He said he'd already given me all his "good" ones and didn't have anything new. So, I dug through my hard drive and found these that he'd given me back in 2005, before he took up photography full time. I think they're just fine.

Happy New Year. Be safe.








Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fun With Rhetoric

What I'm reading: Surrender at Dawn, by Laura Griffen (Nook)

Many of us (not saying me, mind you) remember those grammar and rhetorical device lessons from our English classes. You know, things like analogies, metaphors, similes, and the like. Well, today, as my last "writing-related" post of 2011, I thought I'd share a fun one: paraprosdokian. Everyone could use a smile or two.

Disclaimer: Hubster sent this via email, and I don't have sources for the examples.

A paraprosdokian sentence consists of two parts where the first is a figure of speech and the second an intriguing variation of the first. They're used typically for humorous or dramatic effect.

- Never argue with an idiot. He'll drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

- Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

- The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday - Ham Sandwiches

What I'm reading: Freaks, by Tess Gerritsen; Second Son, by Lee Child (Nook); Highlander's Curse, by Melissa Mayhue (bike)

Thanks to Jonnie for yesterdays' guest post. Series and Stand Alone is something I can relate to.

My physical therapist's office hosted an Open House, and I'd like to thank Carol Greenstreet, who enjoys poking me in the back with needles, for sharing her recipe for some yummy ham sandwiches. If you had a Christmas ham, this might be a good way to use up leftovers. If not, you can certainly find ham in the deli section of your local grocery store.

Ham Sandwiches

1/3 c butter, softened
2 T finely grated onion
3 ½ T poppy seeds
2 t Dijon mustard
2 t Worcestershire sauce
2 dozen small dinner rolls
½ lb thin sliced baked ham
8 oz package sliced Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 325. Beat butter, onion, poppy seeds, mustard and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl until blended. Split rolls with serrated knife; spread butter mixture on both cut sides. Place ham and cheese on bottom half of roll. Replace tops.

Place on baking sheet and bake until brown and a bit crispy on the edges.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

In the Beginning--Series vs. Stand Alone


Jonnie Jacobs is the author of Paradise Falls (forthcoming March 2012) as well as twelve previously published mysteries. Today she discusses the thrill of starting a new book, and the differences when starting a stand-alone and a series.

Now that the various winter holidays are behind us and we look forward to the clean slate of a new year, I’m reminded of the way I feel when I’ve finished a book and am ready to start another. I love beginnings—a new year, a new day, even the oft-dreaded Monday. And I especially love beginning a new book. Getting characters into trouble is a lot easier than getting them out it! But more than that, I like the freshness of a new book. I have a pretty good idea of my characters, but they always surprise me. I think I know where the story is going, but it rarely does. At the start of a book, anything is possible.

Where to start when the possibilities are seemingly endless?

I’ve written ten books in two different mystery series. The nice thing about a series is that after the first book, many of the decisions are already in place. I know my main characters, their friends and family, the setting, and much more. Of course, series characters need to grow and change. Each book is complete in itself, but it’s also a chapter in an ongoing story, and one of the things readers like about series is being able to follow characters over time. I try in each series book to move the character in some new direction in her personal life, and in each book I learn more about her.

A series also means that decisions you made in prior books stick with you. If you’ve written about an amateur sleuth in book one, readers might be upset to find she’s turned into a veteran detective by book two. Similarly, readers expect the author’s voice and writing style to remain fairly consistent. And decisions about your lead character, even if they were minor and offhand, can come back to haunt you.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Newsletter Survey Results


What I'm reading: Second Son, by Lee Child (Nook)

And Happy Boxing Day to those who celebrate.

Thanks to all who participated in my Newsletter Survey question. I've taken all your responses into account as I work on my next issue. The survey asked to check any items you'd like to see in an author newsletter, and these are the results:

New Releases: 100%
In the Works: 83%
Contests: 63%
Personal Glimpses: 58%
Excerpts: 46%
Photos: 29%
Recipes: 20%
Puzzles & Games: 12%

If you haven't signed up yet, you can do so at my website.  (And you can win some of my overflow books if you sign up--just email me to let me know you want them. Details, as always, on the Deals & Steals tab). I'll also be giving away another ARC of ROOTED IN DANGER via my newsletter, so you'll need to subscribe to enter that one.

Other Bits and Pieces: The Backlist eBook authors are having a 99 cent sale through January 8th. This is a great way to fill up those new e-readers! My book, DEADLY SECRETS is one of the books on sale. You can find all my indie books here.

I'll be doing a month-long workshop for Savvy Authors in February. I've blogged about it at their site here.

And, I'm still hoping for a few more likes and follows before Saturday. 

Tomorrow, my last guest blog post of 2011! Author Jonnie Jacobs will be talking about Series vs Stand Alone.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays Again


Normally, this is a "Jewish Christmas"



However because this year, Christmas Day falls in the middle of Hanukkah, we'll be celebrating with family, and won't be going out for Chinese food. (Not to mention, the Jewish population in Teller County isn't large enough to support either of the two Chinese restaurants in the county, so they're not open.


We'll be having Hanukkah at Gram's this year on Christmas Day.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays

For some it will be Christmas Eve tonight. For us, it's night 5 of Hanukkah.
Wishing everyone a happy weekend and hope you can share it with loved ones.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Field Trip - Oh, Deer

First: DEADLY SECRETS is on sale for 99 cents at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Take advantage of this special price for the holidays. Buy for yourself or give as a gift.

I'd hoped to get out to take some winter pictures around the neighborhood yesterday, but woke to about 8 inches of snow, and it was still snowing. So I went through my hard drive and thought I'd share some deer pix. They're not reindeer, but those don't live around here.  The pictures were all taken from our house. Some through glass, some with quickly grabbed cell phones, so I make no claims that they're high-quality shots. Only high-quality subjects.

And have a wonderful holiday weekend. Since Hanukkah and Christmas overlap this year, we're having our family get together on Sunday. No Chinese food this time. Latkes, rugelach, and more.















Thursday, December 22, 2011

Character Names

What I'm reading: Eye of Heaven, by Marjorie M. Liu (bike)

I hope everyone is getting ready for their holiday celebrations in a calm, peaceful, stress-free way! And if you're stuck having to find a last-minute gift, may I humbly remind you that e-books can be given as gifts. It's been around for a while on Amazon, but Barnes & Noble has joined in the "gifting" parade, and you can buy any e-book (of course, I hope one might be mine) and send the gift to someone on your list. They'll get an email telling them the gift has arrived, with instructions for download. The only caveat might be where they live—for various legal reasons I don't understand, non-US folks might not be able to redeem the gift. But it definitely works for anyone in the states.

No braving the crowds at the mall, no standing in lines, no postage, no wrapping. Easy-Peasy.

On the writing front—a recent read had me pulling my hair, and not because of the quality of the writing, or the story. It was simply one of those things that tangled my brain and kept slowing the read. I've talked about it before, and it's a common enough "problem" that I wonder why editors aren't more alert to it—or at least the editor who was "in charge" of the book. However, since one of my editors apparently paid no attention to character names, I can sympathize—WHAT'S IN A NAME? had 3 characters named Hank/Henry If you have the print version of that book, you can find them. The new e-version, thank goodness, has been fixed.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday - Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Thanks to those who are stepping forward with recipes. I'm always looking for more!

Today there's a double treat at What's Cooking Wednesday. My guest for today is Janet Rudolph, who's sharing a recipe for chocolate-dipped strawberries. In addition, I was a guest at her blog with my recipe for Apricot Brandy Balls. Be sure to check that one out, too.

Welcome, Janet.

I’m a chocoholic, and to fulfill my addiction, every day I post a recipe, review or news about chocolate. I’m all about easy and delicious. One of my favorite recipes is for Chocolate Covered Strawberries. They’re simple to make, and they always look fabulous. You can stuff them or drizzle them, but fresh strawberries dunked in good quality chocolate is the key.



CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRIES TO DIE FOR!


INGREDIENTS:
1 quart fresh large fresh strawberries, with tops
1 cup Dark Chocolate 60-65% cacao, broken or chopped
1/2 cup Dark Chocolate 72-85% cacao, broken or chopped
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
White chocolate, melted for Drizzle

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How Many Drafts Does It Take To Make a Loaf of Bread?

First, to those celebrating, I wish you a very happy first night of Hanukkah.

Today my guest is editor Brittiany Koren. I had the pleasure of working with her when she was assigned as my editor for my first two Blackthorne, Inc. novels. In addition to editing for Tekno Books, she collaborated on five anthologies for DAW Books. She also created the White House Gardener series with author, Dorothy St. James, for Berkley Prime Crime. She recently started her own editorial business, Written Dreams.

And a brief update--Brittiany emailed me last night apologizing that her work schedule changed, and she won't be near her computer as often as she'd like today. But she's looking forward to reading and responding to your comments--it'll just be much later in the day than she'd hoped. 

Thank you so much, Terry, for inviting me to be your guest. I’m excited to be here!

Most writers, in my opinion, submit their manuscript too early to publishers, perhaps thinking editors at publishing houses will help them with needed revisions. Unfortunately, in today’s marketplace editors don’t have that luxury, and a manuscript rejected because it is not well-written. Revising is an important part of the writing process. Here’s my recipe for a well-revised manuscript…

So, you just finished your first draft. Congratulations! Finally, after months of hard work it’s time to submit to a publisher. Wrong. Your manuscript has only the broad strokes at this point. It’s time for your first draft revision.

Think of your manuscript as a simple recipe of white bread. You have flour (characters), yeast (plot), salt (climax) and water (setting) combined in a ceramic bowl. That’s your first draft.

What’s a good period of time to let your manuscript rise? A week to a month. As a writer, you need time away to distance yourself, and forget. This gives you an objective point of view to do the next stage in the writing process. Revision.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Making the Formula Work

What I'm reading: Pirate King, by Laurie R. King

Thanks to those who have already signed up for my newsletter, liked and followed the blog, and shared recipes. I'm waiting for pictures. I still have books to give away, including an ARC of ROOTED IN DANGER. And my newsletter survey is still open. Check the sidebar.

My recent reading has made me think about those who discount genre"fiction, or commercial fiction, or anything else not classified as literary fiction as predictable and formulaic.

This may be true in a sense. After all, in a mystery, the detective solves the crime, in a thriller, someone saves the world, and in a romance, the hero and heroine will get together in the end. (And probably have sex on page 191.)

However, it's not the destination but the journey that's important. And a skilled writer can make a reader forget that it's all going to work out in the end. Or at least have them wondering how, or if this might be the one book where things don't work out.

In a short story, the author had my heart pounding as her hero was in danger of drowning. Intellectually, I knew he'd be all right. He was one of the author's recurring characters, after all. So why was I trapped in the read the way the hero was trapped in the ocean?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Author Newsletter Survey

Thanks to those who have already responded to my 1 question survey about author newsletters. There's still time to chime in.

Click here to take the survey.


And I'm giving away an ARC of ROOTED IN DANGER to one subscriber. Details on the Deals & Steals tab.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Field Trip - Tucson

Several years ago, I attended an Adult Literacy conference in Tucson, Arizona. I had time for a little picture taking. I shared some of them in a May, 2010 post, but since nobody else has stepped forward with pictures, there are bound to be some repeats. (Yes, that's a hint...and sharing pictures gets you another entry in my big giveaway)










Thursday, December 15, 2011

Author Newsletters? Help Wanted

What I'm reading: Mama Does Time, by Deborah Sharp (Nook); V is for Vengeance, by Sue Grafton (print)

A few months ago, I decided to undertake a formal quarterly newsletter rather than random emails. Now, it's time for me to start thinking about what to include, and since you're the folks who read these things (or at least glance at them), I would love your opinion on what you want.

Of course, this assumes you actually subscribe to newsletters. The way my life goes, they're probably out of fashion, but I'm going to hang in there for at least a year.

Here are some things I've noticed from other newsletters.

1. New releases
2. What's in the works, with some behind the scenes peeks at the process
3. Excerpts
4. Photographs
5. Puzzles and/or games
6. Contests
7. Recipes
8. A more "personal" look at the author's non-writing life.

As I read the list, I realize I have a lot of this on my blog, but not everyone who would get my newsletter reads my blog. I really would appreciate your answers. You can either respond in the comments with your choices, or respond via my 1 question survey.

Click here to take survey



And, as a thank-you bonus: If you sign up for my newsletter, you can enter a drawing for an ARC of my next release, ROOTED IN DANGER. The drawing is open to "old" subscribers as well. To enter, whether you're a new or previous subscriber, email me at contest @ terryodell.com (remove spaces) with 'NEWSLETTER CONTEST' in the subject line.

The signup form for my newsletter is on my website home page. Be aware that it's a 2 step process. After you submit your form, you will get a confirmation email, and you have to click through on that one or you're not added to the list. This might seem a hassle, but it prevents spammers from signing people up. (And if you don't get the confirmation, please check your own spam filter—sometimes they end up there.)

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday - Rugelach

First, I'm a guest blogger over at Crime Scene Collective. I hope you'll pop over and say hello.

For this week's recipe, I thought I'd share one of our family traditional cookie recipies. They're not 'officially' connected to Hanukkah, although we've made them at our house for decades. They're great for assembly line preparation with kids. And enough work so that they're a definite 'occasion' treat. You can also make the dough well ahead of time, which is another plus in my book.

(Sorry I don't have a real photo--I'm not actually making these until next week.)



Rugelach

Pastry:
2 sticks butter
8 oz. cream cheese
½ t salt
2 c flour

Filling:
½ c + 2 T sugar
1 T cinnamon
3 T melted butter (you might need more)
¾ c. dried currants (or raisins, but chop them down to currant size first)
1 ¼ c finely chopped walnuts.
(rumor has it mini chocolate chips are good here, too!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles: Plays, Screenplays, Novels

Today my guest is author Jacqueline Corcoran. She was born to Irish and Welsh parents in England, but has lived in various parts of the U.S. for most of her life. She is a social worker, psychotherapist and professor with ten textbooks and a self-help book to her name, but her true love is fiction.

What is the difference between writing plays, screenplays, and novels? I have written all three, and, in one instance, I wrote the same story in all three formats, so I have learned some important lessons along the way.

Creating A MONTH OF SUNDAYS was a years-long process. I began writing novels when I was 20 (actually 17, but I didn’t finish that first one). But after 10 unpublished novels, I decided to switch modes. Screenplays were a good fit for me because I write dialogue-heavy anyway. I joined screenwriting groups (one in Austin and one in Richmond, Virginia when I moved there) and learned the craft. But in between, when I lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area (an unglamorous town in the middle called Euless), a colleague told me about a playwright’s group, and I decided to try my hand at plays.

This was a fairly professional group that had a dramaturg and staged readings attached to it. Having a staged reading was a tremendously gratifying experience. I loved hearing my lines re-enacted (and finding out which ones got laughs) and seeing the physical personification of my characters The director was an older, Irish man, who claimed to be classically trained, and he was always screaming at the actors during rehearsals. We were all terrified of him. The person who played the protagonist was older and frumpier than I had envisioned, but I suppose it fit everyone’s stereotype of a social worker. The actress mentioned to me that she had a difficult time asking so many questions in dialogue, but when trying to solve a murder, there naturally has to be a lot of questions asked. I loved the person the director chose to play the victim – she had long, red hair and wore a skimpy top under her overalls (yes, overalls were in style then).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Reviewers and Genres

What I'm reading: Angle of Investigation by Michael Connelly (Nook); A Simple Winter, by Rosalind Lauer (bike)

I know some of you read my post last week at Jenny Milchman's blog about writing outside the box, or at least outside some of the genre conventions proscribed by the print publishing industry. If you haven't read it, you might want to pop over, as today's post is related to that one.

I got an email from the publisher of my upcoming Blackthorne, Inc. novel, ROOTED IN DANGER, that my ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) were being shipped. These are the final galleys, printed in trade paperback format. It's the last chance to read the book for any errors, and these are strictly errors of the typographical kind.

But what raised my concerns was the spreadsheet she sent of the reviewers that the publisher has sent ARCs to. (Or, to whom/which the publisher has sent ARCs if you're not into ending a sentence with a preposition.)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Weekend Update

(If you were curious about the birds in yesterday's post, Hubster has identified them in the comments there.)


My Giveaway Contest is still going on. I have too many books on my shelves. Some brand new, some gently read. Some autographed.

Five ways to enter, five chance to win.

1. Follow this blog on Google (I know they're going to be changing it, but I think it'll still work for Blogger sites. Either way, I'd love to see the numbers climb, even if they're going to disappear)

2. "Like" this blog: click the icon in the sidebar.

3. Send photos for my Friday Field Trips

4. Send a recipe for "What's Cooking Wednesday"

5. Sign up for my newsletter. Form is on my website.

How to enter: Click the Deals & Steals tab above for instructions.



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Friday, December 09, 2011

Friday Field Trip: Project Feeder Watch

Every year, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology conducts its Project FeederWatch. Of course, Hubster participates. In addition to keeping track of the birds at our feeder, he photographs them as well (no-brainer, right?)

Here are some of our visitors. How many can you identify? (clicking should enlarge them a bit)








Thursday, December 08, 2011

More About Prologues

Monday's discussion of prologues was definitely a lively one, as was Tuesday's discussion about getting out of the box over at Jenny Milchman's blog. Thanks to all who chimed in.

Don't forget - leave a comment on Tuesday's post by Mel Teschco and be entered in a drawing for a copy of her book. You have until Friday. Scroll down. Now! 

Allison Brennan's comment about her "rules" for prologues piqued my interest, and I went back and looked at the one I wrote for DEADLY SECRETS.

I'm copying her response here (with the understanding that she says she's broken all of them for the sake of the individual book):

1) Prologues should be short. I prefer 3-6 pages, but I have written a 15 page prologue.

2) Prologues should happen more than a week before the story begins, and preferably long before with one of the major characters that shows or explains their motivation or conflict, but I've had one that happened immediately before (24 hours) and I'm sure there's one or two from a secondary character's POV.

3) Prologues should hint to something important in the story, preferably a clue or give the reader insight into the character that they couldn't otherwise have in the first 100 pages, that is important for them understanding or enjoying the book.

So, here's my question for you. Does my prologue for DEADLY SECRETS work for you? I'd say it met with Allison's guidelines (Chapter 1 begins 5 years later).

Click to read it, and I'd love to get your take.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday - Easy Apricot Chicken

First, a thank you to Mel for taking us to Australia yesterday.

Next, congratulations to Karin Anderson who was the winner of Giveaway #3. I'll have another drawing as soon as I get to 20 new newsletter subscribers. Sign up at my website

And thanks to author and frequent visitor to Terry's Place, Elizabeth Spann Craig, for today's recipe. I think I've got this one buried in my own recipe files. Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth, and now I'm going to have to make this one myself.

Apricot Chicken



12 chicken thighs (I used chicken breasts—about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 cup apricot preserves (can use whole cranberry sauce instead, if you like)
1 cup French dressing
1 package dry onion soup mix
pineapple chunks (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine the preserves, French dressing, and dry soup mix in a bowl.
Put the chicken in a 9 x 13 baking dish and cover with apricot mixture.
Cook uncovered for 50 minutes. Add pineapple chunks (if you like) and cook for 10 more minutes.

Elizabeth’s latest book Hickory Smoked Homicide released November 1. Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries (2012) for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink. She blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder

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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

An Australian Trip

I'm pleased to  welcome Mel Teshco to Terry's Place. Mel writes sizzling paranormal and contemporary erotica for Ellora’s Cave and Harlequin Nocturne Bites. Stone-Cold Lover was her first book in the Winged & Dangerous series featuring gargoyle characters living in the harsh Australian environment, and she’s since written 10 more books with characters from this diverse landscape. Today, she's taking us Down Under. Be sure to leave a comment, because she's giving away a book.

But before you read on, please pop over to Jenny Milchman's blog, where I'm her guest today. I'm talking about the challenges of getting out of the box. Australia won't be going anywhere while you're gone!

I’ve just come back from a ‘trip’ to my brother’s cattle farm (more a hobby farm of around 220 acres) where he lives with stunning views of the surrounding hills and in relative solitude with his wife and son. In Australia, driving a full day or more to go and visit a loved one or friend isn’t anything unusual. It takes around 13 hours for me to drive from the Sunshine Coast/Wide Bay in Queensland, to my brother’s farm interstate, New South Wales. And I can tell you, it gives me great appreciation for the seemingly endless procession of truck drivers who drive far longer than that at any given time.

I’ve spent much of my life along the East coast of Australia, from the breathtaking beauty of the Buchan caves and its beautiful, rolling green hills where the winter’s morning air has your breath puff out like smoke, to the eerily beautiful taipan snakes that slither through the endless sugarcane fields of Mackay and further north.

Is it any wonder I adore setting my stories in Australia? The country offers such a diverse landscape: snow, desert, beaches, rainforest, farmland and mountains, often with drought, floods and fire. Then there’s its creatures – deadly snakes, dingos, kangaroos, wombats, koalas and for the paranormal lovers – bunyips and big foot. I’ve even used crypto zoology in my panther, shape shifter story Identity Shift.

Speaking of which, I’m offering a reader who makes a comment a copy of either my self-published story Identity Shift, or any one of my gargoyle books from the Winged & Dangerous series.

Identity Shift can be purchased from Amazon, Smashwords and AllRomance. You can track down all Mel's books at  her website and blog

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Monday, December 05, 2011

Before the Beginning

What I'm reading: The Drop, by Michael Connelly

Note: Today is the LAST day to enter Giveaway #3. Check the Deals & Steals tab. Remember, you have to let me know you've entered.

First, a brief pause for this commercial message. DEADLY SECRETS, my first non-romantic suspense novel, is now available for sale. Although it's technically an "indie" publication, there's nothing "indie" about it. I'll talk more about that another time. Today, it's prologues.

When I was starting to learn the craft of writing (not really all that long ago), I noted that many speakers, be they authors, agents, or editors, spoke about prologues. As with everything else, opinions varied. Some agents said, "When I ask for your first five (or ten) pages, don't send me your prologue; I want to see Chapter 1, which is where your book really starts." Others wanted to see the prologue.

There was the question of what determines a prologue in the first place. If it's showing action that begins shortly before your Chapter 1, then it should BE Chapter 1.

Then there's the question, "Is it needed at all?" Could that information be woven in as back story. Are the prologue characters going to appear in the book?

And lastly, came the guideline I tended to follow. Prologues in romance used to be the norm (along with epilogues, but that's another topic). However, they were falling out of favor, and the recommendation was to avoid them.


Saturday, December 03, 2011

Weekend Updates

1. A reminder: Giveaway #3 is underway, and if you want some books, you need to enter by Monday, December 5th. Details at the Deals & Steals tab.

2. Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter. I'm waiting until I hit 20 new followers, and then I'll have even more books to give away.

3. My overall giveaway is still going on. Remember, you get an entry for following the blog, "Liking" the blog, signing up for my newsletter, sending me a recipe or pictures for a Friday Field Trip. That means you can have up to 5 chances to win a big batch of books.

4. Guest Blogging.
I'm ready to open the first quarter of 2012 (January, February, March) to guests. Guests don't have to be published authors, or even writers—I'd love to have readers leave posts as well.

The basic "rules"
1. No religion
2. No politics
3. No BSP (blatant self-promotion)

If you'd like a slot, please email me for the official guidelines at blog @ terryodell.com (remove spaces)

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Friday, December 02, 2011

Friday Field Trip - Desert Rest Stops

Although we split our drive to Tempe, Arizona into two days, we didn't stop much along the way for photos. And most of the "good" spots in places where it was impossible to stop. Maybe next time...










Thursday, December 01, 2011

Marketing Recap

What I'm reading: Seal of my Dreams, by too many authors to list here.

And Giveaway #3 is underway, so be sure you enter. Check the Deals & Steals tab for how. Deadline to enter: Monday, Dec. 5th.

I've been working on final edits for my mystery, DEADLY SECRETS, working with the cover artist to finalize the cover (what do you think?), and still trying to follow my own advice from Monday's post and move forward on the WIP.

And then there's the marketing side of writing as well. In keeping with my honest sharing of what's going on with writing, I thought I'd give a short recap of my Thanksgiving weekend sale promotion.

Rather than bruise my ego too badly, I'll chalk up the lower than expected number of requests for the free books to the fact that many people were involved with holiday travel, family, and other real life chores.


Because my sales of my Pine Hills Police books were low, my goal was to lift FINDING SARAH, and hopefully, the rest of the Pine Hills Police books to a more visible spot in the Amazon rankings. To do this, I gave copies of the book to anyone who requested one. This means I paid for the book rather than offer a Smashwords coupon. However, I know there are a lot of people out there who don't own Kindles (myself included), so I DID offer a free coupon on Smashwords. These don't cost me anything, but they don't move the book up in rankings.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday - Company Green Beans

Thanks to Jenny for her encouragement yesterday. I think we all found some inspiration there.

I discovered this recipe from my mom when I was going through some files. She called it "Company String Beans" because she made it when she had dinner guests, or had to bring a veggie side dish. It makes a nice alternative to the classic green beans/mushroom soup/fried onion rings standard, and it's what I made for Thanksgiving this year.

Company String Beans

3 pkg. French cut green beans, cooked & drained.
2 T butter
2 T flour
1 t salt
1 t sugar
1 t pepper
½ onion, grated
½ lb. Swiss cheese, grated
1 c. sour cream
Corn flakes
Butter

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stick-to-it-iveness

Today my guest is Jenny Milchman.Jenny is the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, and the Made It Moments forum on her blog. She teaches writing and publishing for New York Writers Workshop, as well as online, and has designed curricula to teach writing to children.I'm pleased to welcome her to Terry's Place.

I thought I’d talk today about perseverance.

They say success in this business is 1% talent and 99% perseverance, so it must be pretty important stuff.

But what is perseverance? The dictionary defines it as: “Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”

That definition pretty much sums up my own journey to publication. It took me almost eleven years to sell my “first” novel. And my first was really my eighth. Along the way, I was lucky enough to have three terrific agents, and fifteen editors who wanted to make offers on one or the other of five novels submitted.

Whenever I reveal these numbers, I get met with a range of responses. Some writers don’t want to hear them. And I don’t blame them a bit. Writing even one novel is hard. Really hard. During that process, the prospect of doing it again, and again, and again and again and again (you get the idea), before ever getting published is not a pleasant one.

I felt the same way. When I had just finished my first novel and was sending out queries to agents, my mom had one of those mother-is-always-right moments, though neither of us knew it then.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tips For Finding Your Groove

What I'm reading: The Fifth Witness, by Michael Connelly


First, today is the last day to request a copy of FINDING SARAH. If you want a copy, email me at bookstore @ terryodell (dot) com with Thanksgiving in the header, and tell me whether you want a Smashwords coupon or a Kindle gift. This is NOT a contest. Everyone who asks can have a download. My only 'catch' is that you download the books when you get your email, since this giveaway ends today. If you want to preview the book, you can find the first chapter on my website.

And pop into the Deals & Steals tab to see how you can enter my contests.

As faithful readers of this blog might know, lately I've had little time to work on the WIP. I was sidetracked by edits for DEADLY SECRETS, my upcoming mystery. One daughter came to the states from Northern Ireland to visit. Hubster and son had birthdays. Our other daughter competed in the Iron Man in Arizona, which meant two driving days each way plus the event itself. Then came Thanksgiving.

Since I'm not under a deadline, I didn't even try to move forward on the WIP. Didn't even have my laptop. But now that I'm home, our daughters are back to their own homes, and the laundry is done, it's time to get back to work.

How to deal with lapses in writing time? I'm sure everyone has his or her own system, but the following works for me. Your approach will differ, depending on your own writing system.



1. Get rid of chores that will nag.
If you are going to worry about cleaning house, paying bills, going through email, take the time to get the critical things dealt with. Otherwise you're not going to be focused on your writing.

2. Do critiques for my crit group.
This might seem counterproductive, but freeing your brain from your own plot issues and looking at someone else's writing can help get your brain into thinking about the craft itself.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Free Book Offer Ends Soon

A reminder that I'm giving away downloads of FINDING SARAH to anyone who asks for one. Email me at bookstore (at) terryodell (dot) com with Thanksgiving in the subject line. I'll give you either a Kindle gift or a Smashwords coupon. Be sure to tell me which version you want in your email. Expires Monday, so don't wait.

I've hit 400 followers via Google Friend Connect. If you want to win some books, you have to tell me. Check the Deals & Steals tab for the details. I'm still hoping for 500 by the end of the year ... that will be a BIG BUNCH OF BOOKS, so tell your friends to follow this blog.

Next giveaway will be when I get 20 more newsletter signups. You can do it at my website.


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Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Field Trip: Iron Man Arizona

What I'm reading: Fatal Judgment, by Irene Hannon.

First, a reminder that I'm giving away downloads of FINDING SARAH to anyone who asks for one. Email me at bookstore (at) terryodell (dot) com with Thanksgiving in the subject line. I'll give you either a Kindle gift or a Smashwords coupon. Be sure to tell me which you want. Expires Monday, so don't wait.

I know a lot of you read my post about my daughter's first Iron Man Triathlon, and know that we drove down to Arizona to watch her amazing effort. Here are some pictures of the event. For anyone who doesn't know what an Iron Man is, it's a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride, finished up with a 26.2 mile run. Nicole spent the year training and it paid off. She finished strong, with a smile on her face, and was very close to her projected time. You can read her race reports to see what it was like from her side at her blog, Banana Death.

These athletes are either nuts or way too dedicated--or both. We saw athletes who were running with prosthetic legs--one man even carried a spare. And a tandem bike, which was used by a blind competitor.

The first event was the swim, which began right around sunrise. Imagine over 2500 people in the water waiting for the start.


This was the leg of the race where it was virtually impossible to pick out individual competitors.


We found a spot near the point where the swimmers exited the water. Nicole had predicted about 1.5 hours for her to complete the swim, which is her weakest event. She was very close to that time.


And if you want to know what it's like to watch the swim portion of an Iron Man, I tried a short video with my cell phone.

video

Next came the bike ride.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving - and a Free Book

It's Thanksgiving, and I'm sharing (again) one of our own family traditions. For those who celebrate the holiday, may yours be a safe and happy one.

Among so many other things, I'm thankful for my readers, and for the holiday weekend, I'll give anyone who asks either a Smashwords coupon OR a Kindle gift of FINDING SARAH, Book #1 in my Pine Hills Police series. Email me at bookstore @ terryodell .com (remove spaces). Offer ends Monday, Nov. 28.





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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giveaway #2 Winner

My random number generator selected Elizabeth Main as the winner of my second giveaway. Congratulations. Next giveaway will be at 400 followers--almost there and/or 20 new newsletter subscribers. (To subscribe, go to my website and fill out the form)

What's Cooking Wednesday - Curried Fruit Bread Stuffing

Thanks to Katherine Grey for taking care of Terry's Place while I was on the road yesterday.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought I'd share the stuffing recipe my family insists on. I first made it on a whim, because it was supposed to be used for stuffing a duck (or was it a goose?). At any rate, it works fine for turkey and became our tradition.

Curried Fruit Bread Stuffing

1 c finely chopped celery
1 c finely chopped onion
½ c butter
2 t curry powder
1 large pkg herb seasoned stuffing mix (cubes)
⅔ c raisins, plumped in hot water
1 can diced peaches, reserve syrup
Salt to taste

Saute celery & onion in butter until tender. Stir in curry. Toss w/ stuffing mix. Add raisins & peaches. Sprinkle w/ ¼ c syrup and toss. Season w/ salt.

Add more liquid as needed. Broth, cooking juices, etc.

From here, it's up to you. I've made this for decades, long before anyone considered actually cooking stuffing inside a turkey as a potential health hazard. Since there's no egg or meat or anything like that in the recipe, and I don't normally cook huge birds, there hasn't been a problem. However, nowadays, it's recommended that you bake stuffing (which then becomes called "dressing") outside the turkey. If you do, I suggest that you add some of the turkey drippings to the dressing before you bake it. Or when you reheat it. As with all my recipes, feel free to do what works for you.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More Napkins, Please

Today my guest is author Katherine Grey. Katherine writes historical romance set primary in the Regency period. Her debut novel was released in August, 2011. In today's blog post she tells us how she learned where her story ideas come from.

Have you ever wondered where writers get their ideas? Or as a writer been asked, “Where do you get your ideas for your books?”

The first time I was asked that I floundered around for an answer like a fish caught on dry land. I didn’t know what to say, my mind jumping from one thing to another and discarding them all for fear of sounding like a person who needed some serious mental health care. Maybe, because at the time, I wasn’t really sure where my ideas came from. They were just there, some fully formed, some not so much.

A few weeks after that embarrassing incident, I was in a local restaurant having dinner with a few family members. A loud voice suddenly said, “What do you think I’m an idiot?” I looked behind me and saw a man and a woman sitting two tables away. He looked angry and had his hand wrapped around the woman’s wrist where it lay on the table. She was just staring at him, not saying a word. I turned back around and my sister asked in a low voice, “Do you think we should get the manager?


Monday, November 21, 2011

My Writer's Knowledge Base Interview

Tomorrow's the deadline to enter Giveaway #2. Don't miss out. Details in the Deals and Steals tab.

As I type this, I haven't left for Arizona yet. As you read this, I'm on my way home. Since Nicole hasn't run the Iron Man in "real time", I can't give you any results or trip highlights, so I thought I'd run part of an interview I gave to Elizabeth Spann Craig for the Writer's Knowledge Base newsletter in September.

ESC: You do a little genre-blending with your books. How would you categorize them and what are the pros and cons of genre blending?

TO: I like to think of my books as "Mysteries with Relationships" although the publishing industry calls them Romantic Suspense. I think with the explosion of the indie market, it's easier to blend genres. Readers like a wider variety of genres and subject matter than the NY print publishers are willing to risk money on. I have one 'straight' mystery that was rejected by publishers because they said it was a blend of police procedural and cozy. I'm seriously considering publishing that one myself, because I think readers won't mind the crossover.

ESC: You’re not a plotter, but you’re writing complex mysteries. Can you tell us a little about how far you plan ahead in a story or what your writing process is?

TO: I don't normally know what's going to happen more than a few scenes ahead of time, although I have a very (VERY) broad, general idea of the framework for the story. If I can write without needing to know specifics, I plow ahead. For example, in When Danger Calls, I knew Ryan had a disc that held some Very Important Secrets. I didn't know exactly what they were, or how they were encrypted until I learned more about Frankie's talents – because it made good "writing" sense for her to be the one to decipher the code. In Danger in Deer Ridge, I knew my heroine had taken something from her husband, but I was probably 2/3 of the way through the book before I knew exactly what it was. And if I don't know, then I certainly can't be dropping brazen hints to my readers.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Today's the Day!

Iron Man Arizona starts at 7 AM this morning (in Arizona). Her sister hopes the sign will help keep Nicole motivated. Or maybe we should have made one that says, "Will swim, bike & run for cake." But that would need to be much bigger. Hope you will be keeping her in your thoughts today.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Field Trip - Potpourri

We're on the road today for Iron Man Arizona (see yesterday's post for why). I hope I'll have some new pictures for next weekend, but for now, more from my hard drive. (A lot of these were taken with my old camera, and I wasn't saving them as very large images, so apologies if they don't open larger. I'm learning!)

Remember, I'll be drawing a name for Giveaway #2 when I get back, so be sure to enter. Can't win if you don't!  I only need a few more followers. And 20 new newsletter signups will kick off yet another giveaway.





Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's a Marathon, not a Sprint

Tomorrow, daughter #1, Hubster and I are heading out for Tempe, Arizona, where daughter #2 (by 3 minutes) will be competing in her first official Iron Man triathlon.

She's been training for triathlons for a couple of years now. She started by joining Team in Training to help raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She thought she'd give it that year, but went on for another year, this time as a coach. That grew into her setting up her own business, NEO Endurance Sports as a coach for endurance athletes. (And yes, there's a writing tie-in, so please keep reading)

During that time, she ran her first full marathon. That's over 26 miles, for those who might not be familiar with the distance. And, the first marathon runner died at the end. Not something a mom likes hearing when her child says she's going to run that distance.

Nicole finished the race, and said she'd probably never do it again—she just wanted to prove she could. You can imagine my surprise last year when she said she'd signed up for the Arizona Iron Man. She's going to run a full marathon AFTER she swims over 2 miles and bikes 112 miles.

How did she prepare for this? Slowly. Gradually increasing distances, doing more workouts (even if it means getting up 2 hours early—she has a full time job and husband as well), and totally changing her eating habits. This was the child who existed on bread and potatoes, with the occasional ear of corn. Her idea of a green vegetable was canned green beans. Now she's making and eating things like kale, and adding veggies to every meal. According to her records, since January 1st, she's spent 200 hours on her bike logging 3115 miles, 108 hours have been spent running 568 miles, and 293,451 yards were swum over 125 hours.

As writers, especially those of us stepping into the world of indie publishing, it behooves us to remember that we're entering a marathon. We see authors like J.A. Konrath, Bob Mayer, or Barry Eisler who are bringing in huge sums of money. But these authors started in traditional publishing and came in with their established brands and followings.