Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Field Trip - My Deck

Several weeks ago, Jason wanted to come over to shoot birds--with a camera, of course. Here's what he got by hanging around our deck and in our front yard. (Oh,and there's one non-avian species in here, too. Chippie wanted his picture taken)







Thursday, September 29, 2011

Justify Those Scenes

What I'm reading (bike) Up Close and Personal, by Carla Cassidy.

First -- Happy New Year to those who are celebrating the arrival of the year 5772 in the Jewish calendar.

Next, Thanks to Karen Cote and Avery Aames for being my guests. There's still time to join the Thanksgiving Project and to win Avery's book, so scroll down if you haven't read their posts.

Please keep an eye on my sidebar. That's where you'll find updates, including savings on books and more.

And I've been negligent in mentioning that Sept. 24 - Oct. 1st is Banned Book Week. Don't take for granted our freedom to read. Check out these frequently challenged classics


When I was re-editing FINDING SARAH for its re-release, I thought I'd check to see if there were any scenes I'd cut that might be worth slipping back into the book, now that length was not the issue it was for the print version. I did expand one scene showing Randy at work as a detective, in what I'd called his "kitchen caper" scene, but when I looked at another scene I'd enjoyed writing, I decided it still didn't belong in the book.

Why? Because the scene didn't do anything other than keep Randy from getting back to Sarah. Now, pulling the hero and heroine apart can create conflict, but a scene needs more than one reason to exist in a book. And this scene just didn't have it.

But, because it was fun, I've added it to my Cutting Room Floor files on my website. Why don't you pop over and read it, and then come back to see the final, very much abridged, version.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday - Avery Aames Apple Pie

Thanks so much for author Avery Aames for joining me in sharing recipes on What's Cooking Wednesday. She's giving away a copy of her newest release, Lost and Fondue, so be sure to leave a comment. Winner announced over the weekend. (I'd love more sharing, so if you have a recipe, let me know!)

Here's a little about Avery:

I have made pies since I was a little girl. Chocolate pudding pies, fruit pies, lemon meringue. I sold them around the neighborhood. My favorite is still apple pie (and peach pie…but for this blog…apple). I could eat pie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In addition, I love cheese. What could be better than combining the two? I’m not just talking adding a slice of cheddar on the side, which is what my dad loved to do. I wanted to incorporate the cheese into the pie. Since I need to eat gluten-free (something I discovered over 12 years ago…that’s another whole blog), I have had to adjust my eating habits. One of the easiest things to make, if you can find a good, gluten-free frozen pie shell, is apple pie. If you can’t find that, there are plenty of mixes, including Bisquick and Bob’s Red Mill and Pamela’s, (all gluten-free, already boxed or bagged) that will help you make a single shell. Instead of adding a lattice pie pastry to the top of this pie, I shredded cheese. It turned out gorgeous. And scrumptious.

“Life is good; cheese makes it better.” That’s my quote and I’m sticking to it.



AVERY AAMES APPLE PIE WITH CHEESE CRUST

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

2011 Thanksgiving Project

Today my guest is Karen Cote, who reminds us that sometimes it's important to look beyond ourselves.

Hello and thank you so much Terry for allowing this platform to announce a big heart…Coffee Time Romance. A sponsor for a very special project for those in need. Check out the details below and please…get involved. All that’s needed is someone to step forward to nominate a family and give hope to someone who may need a helping hand in a time of need.

We need you to help us select a needy family this season.

Thanksgiving is a time for family gatherings and holiday meals - for sharing and spreading happiness. A time to be thankful for the people, experiences, and gifts we receive in our lives. Unfortunately, there are some people who have a tougher situation than we do. Regardless of the hardship in their lives, whether it's a family crisis, lost job or other unforeseen circumstances, they are unable to truly celebrate the holidays because of their financial situation.

In hopes of helping these families share in the holidays, last year, Silver Publishing donated two $500 Gift Certificates to grocery stores local to two needy winners. The recipients were nominated by family, friends and coworkers who witnessed, first-hand, the hardship these families experiences day-to-day. They nominated each family via a forum post. It was heartbreaking to pick only two families, but we chose and they were able to join others in the holiday experience.

Monday, September 26, 2011

More to Publishing than Writing

What I'm reading: New York to Dallas, by JD Robb

Writing, especially if you're going the indie route, requires a lot of non-writing stuff.


When I got the rights back to my Pine Hills Police novels, FINDING SARAH and HIDDEN FIRE, and I decided to consolidate the 4 short stories featuring Randy and Sarah into a single volume, FINDING FIRE. (Title suggested by Facebook friend, author Lev Raphael, when I asked for suggestions. I think he blended the two titles very nicely, don't you ?)

If you recall an earlier post, when rights revert, the covers aren't included, so I had to get new covers for FINDING SARAH and HIDDEN FIRE. Thanks to Jessica's efforts, and my sister-in-law's photography, there's a new cover for FINDING FIRE that fits right in with the other two books.


Then it's a matter of formatting. Each sales venue requires slight modifications, so you have to make sure you're linking the Barnes & Noble books to your Barnes & Noble page, not your Amazon page. Formatting the actual text for Amazon, B&N and Smashwords is simple, but All Romance eBooks requires that you do your own conversions for the various formats. I used Calibre, which isn't too complicated, but it's still time consuming to create 4 or 5 formats for 3 different books.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

And the Winner is ...

Thanks to everyone who commented on last Thursday's post. My random number generator has selected chrissymunder as the winner.


Chrissy, please email me at bookstore (at) terryodell (dot) com to arrange for your prize, a download of Finding Sarah.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Field Trip - American Eagle Overlook

First, you can still have a chance to win a copy of FINDING SARAH -- just scroll to yesterday's post and leave a comment. Winner announced on Sunday. And I'm still looking for 500 followers on Google Connect and 250 'likes'.

In addition to high tea, our guests enjoy (make that REALLY enjoy) hiking. One of our excursions began at the American Eagle min overlook, near Victor, Coloardo.

Today it's mining stuff. I'll have vistas another time. (click to enlarge)






Thursday, September 22, 2011

Real Life and Writing (and a giveaway)

What I'm reading: A Creed in Stone Creek, by Linda Lael Miller

I'm still talking characters at Coffee Time Romance (link in the sidebar).

And don't forget my goal of 500 followers by the end of the year. And 250 likes. Giveaways when milestones are reached. I still can't count on the followers gadget to show up, but I'm optimistic things will stabilize.

We've had family visiting all week, so we've had a change in our routine. I was going to recycle a writing post I'd posted before, but thought I'd simply share one of our 'adventures.' On the other hand, it IS a writing post, because everything can be considered writing fodder. I can think of several writing connections here. What about you? Leave your ideas in the comments, and I'll given one commenter a download of Finding Sarah once it goes live. And now, join us for tea.

Hubster's sister is a tea aficionado, so we went to our local coffee house that advertises "high tea." In our rural area, any sort of approximation of elegance is rare, so we didn't know what to expect. We know the coffee house well—we have breakfast there almost every Sunday, but despite it's decor, which reminds me of my grandmother's house, it's more 'local grub'—breakfast burritos, biscuits and gravy type stuff. And the clientele is usually the "rugged" sort.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday - Glazed Bison Meat Loaf

We're having company this week, so I made a recipe that my daughter and her husband love. I'm not much of a beef eater, but this recipe called for bison (although you can use beef, or a combination of the two) and I thought it would be appropriately "Colorado" for our guests. This recipe was modified from a recipe from Chef Brian Lyman on the Celebrity Kitchen website.

Bison is less fatty than beef. The original recipe calls for half and half, but I used broth. It also called for butter for sauteing the vegetables, but I used olive oil. As always, do what works for you. You could bake this in regular loaf pans, but I liked doing them free form, because I could do two smaller loaves and they cooked faster. We'd been hiking all afternoon, and faster cooking seemed better!


(I forgot to take a picture of the plated meal, and one of these days I'm going to get some white plates, or something that makes the food look better in these shots. Trust me, it tastes really good!)



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Destination: Bookstore

Today my guest at Terry's Place is BD Tharp. She's a self-proclaimed book-a-holic who knows what makes a bookstore a “destination”. She admits her favorite place to write or read is in the local bookstore, with a large latte close at hand.

And it's also my day at The Blood-Red Pencil, where I'm talking about some confusing words.


Everywhere I go I have to visit the local bookstore(s). Recently we were in Taos, so I stopped by the “Moby Dickens” bookshop in the Taos Plaza. It’s a great little shop with floor to ceiling shelves filled with bright colored books. Most of the shelves are painted white, so the spines really pop, and the books that are faced forward catch your attention. There are nooks and crannies to explore or settle into for a quick perusal of the book jacket blurb or first page or two.

Like most bookstores they also have other items, decorative pens, stationary, artistic cards, stuffed animals, eclectic bookmarks, maps and other interesting paraphernalia. Have you ever noticed the smells--of paper, leather and the inevitable dust that collects no matter how many times you wipe the surfaces clean? It’s a comfortable aroma that permeates all bookstores.

With the explosion of electronic books we’ve lost some nice stores (e.g. Borders Books). And not just the large chains or discounters, either, we’ve lost a lot of small independent bookstores, too. Personally, I love a bargain. Give me a coupon and I’m ready to use it. But there are special stores that become a “destination”, a place for readers and writers to go and hang out.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reversion of Rights - You Can Fix Things

What I'm reading: Part of the Bargain by Linda Lael Miller

After a long wait, I finally got a reversion of rights date for FINDING SARAH and HIDDEN FIRE. As of Wednesday, they will be mine. It should be noted that when you get the rights to a book back, all you "own" is what's between the covers, not the covers. So, I hired a cover artist and this is the new look. I'm trying to call attention to the fact that these two books are connected, so we went for a similar look in both. My sister-in-law provided the main cover image for FINDING SARAH and my son, whom many of you have met here, provided the image for HIDDEN FIRE.


Why did I ask for my rights back? Bottom line: the books weren't doing anything for me (or the publisher, I would assume). About 18 months ago, one of my publishers "remaindered" my first Blackthorne, Inc. book, WHEN DANGER CALLS. The rights reverted to me, and I thought I'd give indie publishing a try. E-books were nothing new to me; my other publishers had been e-book first publishers.

So, I tackled the learning curve for putting books on Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and a few other sites. I discovered that although I wasn't raking in the bucks, I was making some sales.

When Ellora's Cave said they were closing down their Cerridwen Press line, and were moving those books into the EC umbrella under the "Blush" imprint, I decided to take the rights back to WHAT'S IN A NAME? but to leave FINDING SARAH and HIDDEN FIRE there, to see if sales would be better under Blush. Meanwhile, I re-published WHAT'S IN A NAME? myself, along with a few short stories.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Quick Followup

What I've discovered after changing the "comments" settings:

1. Virtually no spam in my spam filter. Perhaps the embedded format thwarts these bots.

2. Some difficulty in leaving comments for those with IE. If you're using IE, I found that clicking the 'preview' before trying to submit a comment sometimes shook things loose. And I did have to sign in to Google again. Perhaps that also helped clear the pipes.

3. The Followers via Google Connect Gadget seems to have a mind of its own. I'm sure this is because I put out a plea for more followers.

*** New: According to Blogger, there's some sort of filter and cookie issue (I don't speak that language) which is keeping some IE users from commenting. I've tried the last option, and we'll see what happens. If you use IE and are willing to give things a try, I'd appreciate it. Still don't have an answer on the followers gadget thingie.

If you want to comment but can't, my email is in the contact tab.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Field Trip - Memorial Forest

Here are some more shots from the Memorial Forest. I tended to take vistas; Hubster got up close and personal. (And, of course he has to include the obligatory mushroom)





Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blog Q&A

Blogging. I've been here at Blogger since July of 2006. This was my first post.

The template I used was a lot different then, but as Blogger updates, it's "retroactive" so you can't see how bare bones my early blog page was.

I've got some questions at the end of this post, and would appreciate your feedback. I hope you'll take a moment to comment.

A while back, there were issues leaving comments on this blog, so I changed the comment system to the pop up instead of embedded. Perhaps coincidentally, I noticed a upsurge in spam comments. Now, Blogger has a very good (as far as this blog is concerned) spam filter, and in all these months, only one spam post has made it through the filter. However, I get notified about every comment posted here, and that includes the spam. Then, I feel some obligation to verify that they didn't show up on the page, which does take time.

A possible solution might be to put back the spam word verification system, but that adds one more step for my legitimate readers, and I really prefer to make things as simple as possible. I allow anonymous comments, simply because there are those who prefer not to give any personal information.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday - New Mexico Green Chili

What I'm reading: True Grit (book club)

Thanks to Cicily for yesterday's most informative post.

The other day, I wanted to make this recipe for New Mexico Green Chili. However, I didn't have all the ingredients, and I was only willing to go as far as the local grocery store in Divide. When I couldn't find poblano chiles, I used what they had: Anaheim. And, after a little time with Google and Facebook, I determined they'd be acceptable substitutes.


Here's the original recipe with my notations. I made it with the beans as a vegetarian dish, but the recipe also says you can used cooked chicken. Or, I would imagine, any other meat of choice.

4 poblano chiles (I used Anaheims)
1 T olive oil
1 large onion, cut into ¼ inch dice
2 jalapeƱo chiles, seeded & minced (Mine were huge, so I used one. Heat varies from one pepper to the next. You might want to sample a bit to decide how much you want to use)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ c packed fresh cilantro, chopped (Substituted a little chopped parsley; I don't like cilantro)
1 t cumin
¾ t salt
2 lb tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut into quarters or eighths if large (see note and pictures below)
1 can vegetable broth
2 cans (15-19 oz each) white kidney beans,(My store only had Great Northerns) rinsed & drained
(or 12 oz. cooked chicken)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Unsolicited Advice

Today my guest is Cicily Janus. As a published author, a journalist and sleep deprived intern for one of the best agencies on the planet, Cicily would like to think that maybe, just maybe, that her unsolicited advice helps others.

Being a published author, I was hesitant to tell people, mainly other writers, that I wanted to move over to the dark side. The agent side. Trust me, this isn’t some kind of power-trip. I honestly wanted to help writers become successful in their goals.

The question was, how to do this without losing myself and becoming, what much of the writing world considers agents, a member of the dark forces. To tell the truth, there wasn’t a way around it.

Let me explain.

This process has afforded me considerable perspective as a writer. When I set out on this journey I was optimistic that good writers were in abundance. But after working for two of the best agents in the country for over two years, I’ve learned that it isn’t about being good, it’s about being sparklingly impressive from word one in both your query and MS.

These days the market is overly saturated. The effect it has on agents (and their interns) is this: We’re simply unable to give feedback, advice or anything BUT a form rejection. So...here’s a new angle on agents. Over one year I rejected 3,000+ writers. Among these: 90% were form rejections, 9% didn’t follow published rules for queries and 1% had pages requested. Of that 1%, only one...and that’s one person...was signed. So I began to ask myself, how do writers go from good to great?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Research: Too Much or Too Little

What I'm reading: No More Bull, by John Sharpe

First – after many delays, DECEPTION, a mystery anthology including one of my short stories, is available for sale at Amazon, Books a Million, and Barnes & Noble.

Format: trade paperback.


You can read more of my contribution here


We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post:


I've been reading manuscripts for a contest recently, submitted by unpublished authors. I've noticed a problem that I think is worth sharing. Research. Too much or too little.

Everyone's heard it: Write What You Know. But what does that really mean? Do you have to be a cop or PI to write a detective story? Can you write about a chef if you can barely boil water? If you're a firefighter, is that all you can write about?

Now, having the inside skinny on the workings of any profession, craft, or lifestyle will add depth and color to your work. Most of the time, agents and editors will want to know why you're the one who can write the book. They love platforms.

But it's not a hard and fast requirement. It's a matter of learning enough to keep things on the page accurate within the realm of fiction. And sometimes knowing too much can hurt your writing more than it helps. Two things to remember:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembrance

Please take a moment to remember the events and the lives lost on  September 11, 2001.

It's been ten years. 

Friday, September 09, 2011

Friday Field Trip - Memorial Forest

First -- Happy 90th Birthday to my aunt, although she'll never see this because she wants nothing to do with computers. Happy Birthday anyway, and you should be getting flowers because you don't have a computer. Oh, I'd have sent them anyway, even if you DID have a computer. Love you.

Last Monday, not because it was Labor Day (when you're retired, empty-nesters and/or work from home, one day is exactly like any other--except for Tuesday being clean sheet day, and Wednesday being garbage pick up day, Sunday being drinks at McGinty's, etc.), but because the weather was nice and we'd skipped our usual Sunday hike (which you can do if you're retired, empty-nesters and/or work from home) and headed out to a nearby Women's Memorial Forest, where I took pictures of Gnarly Things. Had I been Jason, they'd have been prettier, but I'm not, so you'll have to deal with my point and shoot, straight out of the camera (more or less) shots.









Thursday, September 08, 2011

Why Print?

What I'm reading: Dick Francis's Gamble by Felix Francis

I'm continuing my "All About Characters" seminar at Coffee Time Romance with a discussion of the various types of characters today: Stars, Supporting Cast, Extras, Walk-ons and Spear Carriers. Please drop by. But don't forget to come back.

The big switch in publishing is into digital formats. Whereas a couple of years ago, people wanted to know if they could walk into a bookstore and buy my books, today I'm more likely to hear, "Is it on the Kindle?"

Side note: As a NOOK color owner, I don't really like the idea that everyone assumes an e-book reader is Kindle, but I think it's slowly becoming generic…kind of like Kleenex. But there ARE other readers.

When I decided to bypass the publisher for DANGER IN DEER RIDGE, another Blackthorne, Inc. novel, I formatted it for every digital outlet I could handle. Barnes & Noble, Amazon All Romance eBooks, and via Smashwords, also Sony, Apple, and more. I did it all myself, and I didn't find it too complicated, perhaps because I've been involved with publishers who required digital submissions. I knew enough about formatting a Word doc so I wasn't intimidated by the Smashwords formatting guidelines. And I definitely recommend starting there. Once you've mastered Smashwords, the rest is easy.

I also recommend the free program, Calibre, which will convert a document to most formats, since All Romance eBooks doesn't do the conversions the way the other shops do.

But I've digressed. I meant to talk about print books. I know there are still readers who want to read print. My mother, for example. Even though I know sales of my print version will be minuscule when compared with digital, the more formats, the more readers I can reach.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday, Multi-purpose Sauce

What I'm reading: Double Play, by Jill Shalvis

Thanks to Kelly for her reminder that we can't slack off even when we're the boss.

For today's cooking installment, I decided to go with something quick, easy, and versatile. My mom called this "Sauce for Vegetables" but it can be used for a lot more than that. Hubster grilled fish the other night, and because it was a very mild flavored fish, I decided to dress it up with this sauce.

As you can see here, there aren't a lot of ingredients. And you can increase, decrease, or swap things out as you prefer. It's kind of like my plotting style. A lot of improv. (If you look at the recipe card, you can see there's not a whole lot going on.)

Here's the "official" ingredient list, which you can clearly see in this picture:


1 small onion, chopped (I used 1/2 a large one, because we like onions)
Butter or oil (not on Mom's card, but you have to brown the onion in something! Use what you like: I used olive oil and butter)
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. mustard
Dash cayenne (depends on your heat tolerance)

Here's what you do:

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Being Your Own Boss--The Downside of Indie Publishing

Today my guest is Kelly McClymer. She's written short science fiction, fantasy,historical romance and YA. After dipping a toe into the indie epublishing trade by bringing out her backlist, she found she liked the control, the income, and the (relatively) quick payment turnaround. Once she gets the business side ironed out, she'll be epublishing several indie original YA novels. And while Kelly is here, I'm over at Coffee Time Romance talking characters.

I know many people who dream of being their own bosses…until they are. And then they run screaming back to the world of 8 hour work days, regular paychecks and paid vacation days.

I've always had a mix of choose-your-own and follow-the-leader jobs. I find good things about both (a paycheck you can count on is very nice), but at heart I'm an entrepreneur. I want to do something new as soon as I've learned the old thing well enough. Writing is the only career that lets me do that, with the added advantage of allowing me to use what I've discovered working regular jobs.

For years now, I've been pulling what I've learned from life and using it in books, some sold and some yet unsold and unfinished. Motherhood has informed a lot of my writing, but so has my first career as babysitter (perfect for a YA writer), my years working in the drug store, in various university offices, as a tutor for children with dyslexia, and as a temp employee. I always thought I was a good business person, though, and able to tend to the business side (deadlines, quality control, keeping myself out there for people to stumble over).

And then I started putting my backlist books out as ebooks. The learning curve was steep, and full of hair raising drops and rises, not to mention a hairpin turn or two. I ran a successful promotion and made good sales. I thought I was a good business person.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Using Multiple POV Characters

I hope you're having a safe and happy Labor Day weekend. A reminder: Today's the last day to take advantage of my e-book giveaway.

And another reminder that I'm hosting a month-long discussion of characters at Coffee Time Romance. It's free, and you can drop in any time. And thinking about characters leads me to today's post.

When authors put a character on the page, they've made a decision as to whether or not it will be a POV character. In my opinion, if you're going to make a character a POV character, there needs to be a good reason for it.

If the only reason you're adding a POV character is to show his thoughts, then you should probably re-think it and see if there's another way to get that information to the reader. We live in a single POV world. A POV character has to be critical for plot advancement, not author convenience.

In romance, it's a 'given' that there will be two POV protagonists: hero and heroine. There might be more, but there are always at least two.

Mysteries are another genre. Most mysteries I read feature some kind of crime-solving detective, and often, they're part of a series where the same character heads up the entire series.

And then there's suspense, which by nature, requires more than one POV character, because the reader needs to know more than the protagonist—hence, the suspense.

A recent read falls into the suspense category (the back cover calls it a thriller, but I disagree with the recent overuse of the term). As someone who definitely prefers to connect with characters, I tried to step back and examine why the book works for me.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Labor Day Weekend Giveaway

Don't miss out on a chance for a free download of either WHAT'S IN A NAME? or DANGER IN DEER RIDGE. Offer expires Monday, Sept. 5th, 2011. Click here for details.


Like this post? Please share by clicking one of the links below.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Friday Field Trip - Pikes Peak

Today I'm over at Savvy Authors with a blog about R.U.E.

Yesterday I mentioned that Hubster took charge of our anniversary reservations. We stayed at the Cliff House in Manitou Springs, which was a very elegant change from Divide establishments. Wait. There are no hotels in Divide. Anyway, here's a glimpse of our room. Note the turndown service in the last one. And something I've never seen before. They laid little foot mats at each side of the bed. Not that the floor was cold--it's summer and there was carpeting.







We wandered around town for a while. This is one of the old cog railroad engines.


The next day, we went to the Cog Railway for our trip up to the Pikes Peak Summit. This is what the new trains look like:

Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Currency of Romance

What I'm reading: The Arranger, by L.J. Sellers

Don't forget my book giveaway. It runs through Labor Day.

Last weekend, Jaxine Daniels spoke to my local RWA chapter. Her topic: The A,B, C's of Romance Heroes. After going through different interpretations of different types of heroes, including the all-too-prevalent alpha male, and quoting a good number of authors, all of whom had their own categories and definitions, the takeaway gem was that there is no need to sweat whether your hero is Alpha, Beta, or Theta. Or a Thinker, Ruler, Warrior, or Sorcerer. Or a Chief, Bad Boy, Best Friend or Charmer.

Write the character you love. Let others worry about where to pigeonhole him. I would say that her description of the Warrior Poet seems to be closest to the heroes I write and love to read about. They're strong when they need to be, but aren't afraid to show their sensitive, loving side. They have the courage to walk away from an unnecessary fight.

However, the biggest gem I carried away from her presentation was that women express their feelings using words, while men show their feelings in actions, using their currency. In this context, currency is what matters to a person. (It's almost another example of "show, don't tell.")