Monday, August 31, 2009

To E or Not to E

What I'm reading: Lost Among the Angels, by Alice Duncan

One of the on-line groups has been discussing e-books lately. It's been gratifying to see that a good percentage of the people responding are seeing e-books as an alternative, not an either-or.

There's nothing wrong with liking print books, but that doesn't mean you can't also appreciate some of the advantages of digital format. To those who say, "I will never give up print books," I say, "Why should you have to? But why does that mean you can't look at e-books as well?"

The e-book is still in its infancy. The e-book reader has a long way to go. And it's not just that e-readers are expensive. Until there's a 'one format fits all' approach, people are going to be reluctant to commit.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of lighthearted reviews of two of the big players in the e-reader market: Sony and Kindle.

Keep Reading...

The Smart Bitches blog had an arrangement with Sony to let a select number of readers test drive the reader in return for a review. This one reviews the 700 model.

For more, you can scroll the blog:

For the Kindle, hubby was reading Scientific American, and he showed me this article: (Note: beverage alert before you start reading it)

For the record: I don't own either. I have an eBookwise, a reader that I bought before the Kindle came out. It's a basic model, but I love it. As a matter of fact, I've loaded it up because for the next two weeks we're going to be gone more than we're home, and I expect to have plenty of time for reading. Rather than fill a suitcase with paperbacks, I can take my eBookwise and have the equivalent in what amounts to the space and weight of a single book.

This is a short post, I know, but we're getting ready to leave town, and there's plenty to read at the links in the post.

Tomorrow, author Lorena Streeter is my guest, and she's sharing what she learned when she decided to write in 1st person instead of 3rd person POV. Please come back and see what she has to say.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Last Minute Contest Reminder

Don't Forget!

I have an ARC of When Danger Calls (which I'll personalize for you) to give away. The deadline to enter is Monday, August 31st. Details are on my website. There's a simple question to answer, and the answer can be found on my website as well.

If someone asks single mother Frankie Castor to clear a room, she'll smile and find a vacuum cleaner. Ryan Harper uses a gun. Can they work together when their lives depend on it?

Frankie’s returned to her childhood home in Montana to help care for her mother. Her biggest worries are balancing the budget and the upkeep of an aging home. When she offers a man a ride home from the hospital, she never imagines she’ll end up having to choose between her daughter’s life and matters of national security that could cost the lives of millions.

Ryan returns to his family home to find a way to prove he didn’t leak vital information on a covert ops mission gone south. As he searches for the meaning of a file he’s kept hidden from the mission, he has no idea that international mercenaries have been searching for it—and him. When the mercenaries come after Ryan, he’s torn. Fighting for his country wars with fighting to rescue people he loves.

Set against a Montana mountain backdrop, When Danger Calls is a story filled with action, adventure, and romance, where the stakes keep getting higher and higher

Friday, August 28, 2009

Homicide - Hussey: The Littlest Cop - Part 2

While Detective Hussey is here at Terry's Place, I've got a post about "Made It Moments" at Jenny Milchman's blog.

Let's continue with last week's chapter from Detective Hussey. The full post is here. For those who have read it, I'll start with a few paragraphs to refresh your memories:

On May 7, 1984, while Janet and I were patrol officers, a grandmotherly old lady named Anna Houston, was brutally stabbed to death in the West Lake Apartments. Anna was known to people in the neighborhood as the 'Cookie Lady', because of her tendency to bake cookies for all the local children. Janet and I were working midnights then, and assisted in the search of the area for the murder weapon, any other evidence we might find. We canvassed the neighborhood, looking for witnesses. No luck, it seemed that nobody had seen anyone or anything.

The detectives, whose names I will not name, were feuding and either were unable, or unwilling to solve the case. As the weeks and months went by, the trail and list of suspects grew cold. The case went into the 'cold case' file and was not thought of again, until 1996, when Detective Janet Hughes began working on it.

And now, on to Part 2:

She took the massive file home and pored over the yellowing documents, making notes, posing questions, jotting down addresses and phone numbers. In her spare time, between working her other cases, she ran down leads which had gone cold years ago. She called relatives and friends, who were surprised that the nearly twenty year old case was again being worked.

She placed Automated Pole Cameras at the murdered woman’s grave on the anniversary of her death. She re-contacted friends, neighbors and acquaintances who had been interviewed almost two decades before. Many had died or moved away. The case file was growing, but she was no closer to solving the heinous homicide.

In 1997, Janet married one of the nicest guys it has ever been my privilege to know, John Franson. John was the stabilization Janet needed in her life. Their personalities complemented each other’s perfectly.

Also in 1997, Janet and I became family, when I married her sister, Joyce. Joyce also worked for the Lakeland Police Department, first as a dispatcher, then as a property and evidence clerk. She retired from the PD in 1998.

Janet was thinking of calling the Fox television show, America’s Most Wanted, and having the case profiled. Instead, she reluctantly telephoned a Lakeland Ledger Newspaper reporter, who she really did not care for. Janet knew though, that he was a good writer, who had a feel for police related stories. Janet told Rick Rusos about the case, and on January 4, 2000, a story appeared about the crime which had never been solved.

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It was enough to get the phones ringing. Janet got her first break in the case, Rick Rusos wrote a great article, asking for any citizen assistance in solving the Anna Houston case. Three Tampa news stations also did follow-up stories.

The calls came rolling in. A boyhood friend of Robert’s agreed to testify that the day after the murder, an exited 16-year-old boy had told him that he "stabbed the white lady that lived cattycorner to us." The friend said that Robert showed her a two inch long 'fresh' cut on his right thumb from when the old lady was fightin' him.

'This accounted for the suspect’s blood located in the kitchen of the crime scene,' Janet thought. Another call came in giving the same name as the person who was responsible for the murder of Anna Houston. Two people who did not know each other had given the same name of a suspect, previously unknown to the investigation. The two witnesses were reluctant to testify.

Now she had a name and there was still blood evidence from the murder in the Lakeland Police Department’s Evidence Locker. Of that Janet was sure. Many times she had looked at that evidence. Over and over, until she knew each piece and detail of the case, as if she’d been there that night. She would dream about the case at night. Many nights she just didn’t sleep. She’d go over the facts of the case in her mind as she stated at the TV set. "I’ve got to find this guy, somebody knows something."

With the advent of the DNA technology, it was now possible to compare old case evidence to samples taken from new suspects. Janet had no probable cause for a search warrant, but there had to be a way. Janet contacted the prison officials, where her suspect was being housed for narcotics trafficking. After some discussion, it was decided that when the inmate left his cell for a shower, a corrections officer would remove his toothbrush from his cell, and give it to Janet. Hopefully there would be enough of Robert’s DNA on the toothbrush for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s serology lab to compare it to the samples already in evidence. It was not to be. The lab report stated that there was insufficient DNA for analysis.

Janet hoped the confidential information was enough to get a search warrant. The information was recorded and transferred to the warrant. After a little judge shopping, the warrant was signed, and on a rainy day February of 2000, a small entourage, led by the world’s smallest homicide detective, arrived at the Florida State Prison to draw several small vials of blood from a convicted drug dealer who thought that he had gotten away with a brutal murder.

"I know why you’re in here," the detective said.

"Yeah, Bruno put me in here. I got got by the best." Robert grinned.

"You want to tell me about killin’ this old lady?" Janet asked.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

DUI Checkpoint - August 22, 2009

First, as promised: Drue Allen's winner from the people leaving comments on Tuesday's post is …. Elizabeth Spann Craig. Congratulations, Elizabeth. Please drop Drue an email at drueallen (at) gmail (dot) com with your address so she can mail your goodies.

Now – on to a recap of last Saturday night's DUI Checkpoint, as promised.

Officers from a multitude of agencies, as well as the DOT and MADD assembled for a briefing prior to the start of the checkpoint. For this event, traffic was stopped in both directions in what might be considered a 'rough' part of town.

As usual, part of the 'dues' we volunteers with the Civilian Police Academy paid was bringing desserts to help keep up the energy levels for these law enforcement officers who were working from 8 PM to 4 AM in the hot Florida night. A local restaurant donated some bbq.

Not only was the outside temperature high, but the portable lights and car engines added to the heat. We helped out by carrying water to the men and women working the line. This time, however, because of the location, in addition to the expected safety lecture (wear an orange vest, keep eyes and ears open, and if you hear anything—louder than usual car engines, shouting, gunfire, etc., look to see where it's coming from and then go The Other Way), we were also told we could not cross the street to the median without a uniformed escort. Felt kind of like being four years old and having to have a grownup help you across the street.

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Once the line opened, the officers stopped every car and asked to see license and registration. At this point, they could check for safety issues, and should anything seem out of sorts, they could search the car. And since the checkpoint was announced in huge brightly lit road signs, one wonders why so many people were caught driving without licenses, on suspended licenses, without seatbelts, or any other "duh" offenses. But, as the Captain pointed out in the briefing, they catch the stupid ones on checkpoints like this.

And there were plenty of them. We watched them administer field sobriety tests (and the mobile testing van was also on site). People were driving around with babies in arms instead of in car seats. The Highway Patrol was checking car seats, making sure they were installed properly (far too many aren't—80% nationwide is the statistic I found) and they even had some they gave to drivers with unprotected children.

One woman who didn't have a valid license expected the officers to let her drive away after giving her a ticket. Thank goodness for cell phones; there were a number of people who had to call someone to come get them. I'm sure there were a lot of kids who were going to be grounded.

One arrest was of a woman who "didn't know" her license had been suspended. It was only her ninth stop in two years. Hmmm. She went to jail.

Hubby and I didn't stick together, so I'm going to let him give you his impressions of the evening:

What are people doing out on the road with babies at midnight?

Amazing how many of these folks don't have, don't use, don't know how to use kiddie car seats. Have these folks no concern for the welfare of their children?

Guy pulled over for some reason - perhaps a visible handgun on the car seat. His concealed weapon permit was valid but his drivers license wasn't! And no obvious drugs in the vehicle as one might expect when the driver is visibly armed.

And then there are the drivers and passengers apparently unaware of the seatbelt law. Citations all around!

Then there are folks who have mounds of papers in their vehicles and can't find their insurance cards and vehicle registration document.

The dogs had a great time.

Of course there are those folks with no driver's license at all and no one else in the vehicle with a license. Call for a pickup. Tow truck, please.

A few DUIs; folks taken away in handcuffs and they didn't look very happy.

A boy blew over the limit. Apparently of drinking age but had to call his parents to come and get him and the car. Don't know if he was given a citation but later on, back at home .............ouch!

Folks driving through the check line yacking on cell phones - can't wait until that cell phone behavior becomes illegal along with texting while driving. Just how important are these phone calls?

Overall the LEOs seemed to be quite nice to a lot of people who could have received citations.

I'll echo hubby's comment -- the politeness level of the cop side was impressive.

In addition to watching the line, I spent some time chatting with one of the Narcotics deputies who was working with his drug dog. According to department policy, they can't bring the dog over to check a car without cause. But once an officer stops the car and has a reason to suspect drugs, they would call for the dog.

His dog was a black lab, relatively new to the force. The officer explained it was good practice for him to work in these circumstances, but he sometimes gave false positive alerts because he was new, and the reward for an alert was playtime.

Another thing I learned was that much of what the narcotics division does is check packages coming in through FedEx and UPS (they can only check the USPS mail if invited). There are a LOT of drugs coming into Orlando, although the officer told me of a recent serendipitous case. They'd checked packages, and the dog alerted to several. Upon opening them, they found very fancy, very heavy, very suspicious looking stuffed animals. Further investigation found not drugs, but jewelry, inside the animals. This led to a breakthrough in a robbery ring out of Houston. The kicker: there were no drugs, but whoever had taped the packages had been handling marijuana, and traces were stuck on the tape.

Since we had a lot to do over the next few days, we left at about midnight. If I can get the statistics from the Sheriff's Office, I'll post them.

Meanwhile, tomorrow is Part 2 of The Littlest Cop, Detective Hussey's latest chapter. Please come back.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Our Anniversary with Victoria and Albert

I was going to recap the DUI checkpoint today, but I'm still recovering from our anniversary celebration. Bad news first: I forgot my camera. So, no good pictures, which is a shame, because the dinner was like the grand finale of Top Chef Masters. I do have a scan of the menu, though. Link is at the end of this post, and also in the "Links" column of my website.

First things first. We arrived at the Grand Floridian, which is a Victorian era themed resort. You check in with a guard at the entrance, who hands you a personalized parking pass. He must call ahead, because when we pulled into valet parking, the valet (one of at least a dozen costumed staff, all ready to serve), greeted us by name. I wanted to go the full-pampering route, so even though we had only 2 small cases (shoes and war paint take up lots of room!), we let them handle the bags.

Inside, check-in was fast, and they were quick to wish us a happy anniversary and give us special "Celebration" buttons to wear (which we did until we got to our room. Remember, this is Disney Territory all the way).

Our room was across the courtyard, in the Big Pine Key building. First trickle of unease--that meant walking from that building to the restaurant. I'd kind of figured it would be simply getting into an elevator. Had I known, I might have brought an umbrella from the car. But, we'd deal with that if necessary. The other trepidation was that it would mean walking much farther in those new shoes.
Scott, our bellman, brought our bags on a large golf cart and gave us a quick tour of the resort before escorting us to our room. Our VERY expensive but what the heck, it's our 40th anniversary and we hope the last we'll spend in Orlando.

Although the room was elegant enough, I wasn't particularly impressed. The hotel's been around awhile, and is showing her age. They'd recently cleaned the carpets, as the coffee table was on the couch, but Scott took immediate care of that, and did the usual 'lay of the land' spiel as well as bringing us a bucket of ice. Oh, and note the Mickey Mouse lamp on the desk (click for a better view.) Don't think they had those in Victoria's day.

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Nice things: great bed (but it did squeak). Plenty of room. Mini fridge. Two robes in the closet. But as hotel rooms go, it was average, at best. Amenities were sorely lacking. Nice soap -- full size bars, not slivers, but only shampoo, conditioner & 1 small lotion. No sewing kit, shower cap, shoeshine cloth, mouthwash -- things you get in most nice hotels where rooms cost 1/3 of what we paid. No turndown service. I wanted chocolate on my pillow (not that I could have eaten it that night.) Ceiling fan rattled. They delivered a complimentary split of champagne right before we left for dinner, which was nice. And it came with a card signed by The Mouse himself. I'm sure our grandson will like that someday.

Next, we hung the privacy sign on the door (fade to black).

When it was time to go for dinner, it wasn't raining, but the wind was blustery. I didn't break an ankle, and have a fairly low-maintenance hairdo, so things were fine.

On to Victoria and Albert's. Again, we were welcomed and offered anniversary congratulations. When we were seated, the receptionist brought a purse hook so my purse wouldn't have to dangle from a chair or rest on the floor, and the elegance of the evening was established. We spent the next two-and-a-half hours being wined and dined, and not a Mouse in sight. Three bread courses with three different butters, not one of which was in a Mickey mold. From the amuse bouche to dessert, everything was elegantly presented, and phenomenally delicious. Seven courses. Seven wine pairings. It literally looked like what I've been watching on Top Chef Masters. The amuse bouch was actually four dishes, from a custard baked in an eggshell to tomato sorbet. And on and on. Hubby and I chose alternate dishes so we could taste even more of these delights. (If you look at the menu, note that we did NOT opt for any of the 'additional cost' selections.)

After being handed a bag containing our commemorative menus, a small loaf of orange-date-nut bread, the little candies we absolutely couldn't eat, and a long-stemmed red rose, we waddled back to the room. We've eaten at this restaurant on other anniversaries, and the last time, we decided to spring for the room so we wouldn't have to drive back. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give the restaurant experience as 12. The room...maybe a 5.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Baseball Teams and Breakout Novels

Welcome, author Drue Allen, who's patiently awaiting the upcoming release of her debut novel. Today she's got some fascinating insights into our future readership. She's included a video clip, and I encourage you to watch it. And that's saying a lot, because my normal tolerance for clips is in the 2 minute range, and this one runs five. And be sure to leave a comment, because Drue's offering a great prize to one lucky commenter.

Tomorrow’s Readers

What do baseball teams and breakout novels have in common?

I’ve become something of a baseball fan recently—and not ONLY because the Texas Rangers are in the pennant race. It’s exciting to hear the crack of the bat, sit in the stands and cheer, watch the fireworks each time Michael Young smashes a homerun.

Writing is a little like baseball. You want to hit one out of the ballpark, but doing so requires focus and determination. In truth it probably requires more than merely writing an excellent book. We also need to know what TOMORROW’s readers will want to read.

How much time do you think passes by the time I write an 80,000 word manuscript, send it to my agent, she sends it to a few publishers, they get in a bidding war over it, a contract is signed, and I’m given a slot? I’m a quick writer—some people say I’m obsessive-compulsive, but I find that terminology harsh. Best case scenario for me is six months to write, then another six months from agent through contract negotiations. At that point we can tack on another twelve to eighteen months for production before the book actually appears on a shelf—if things go well.

So when I open up a brand new document, as I did last week, and begin a sparkling new story—I need to envision what readers will want to read two to three years from now. What will seem fresh and exciting to them?

Keep Reading...

Have I mentioned that writing rocks? It certainly does. I love it, and I’m awed by the entire process.

This idea of envisioning what my reader will want to read in two to three years is a bit daunting though. Some days I feel as if I’m attempting to write science fiction. The enormity of this task was brought home to me this week when I was directed to the following video.

It’s entitled “Did You Know?” I’ve watched it five times now, and I’m still fascinated. Researched and designed by Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod and Jeff Brenman, I believe there’s something there for most everyone—but certainly for anyone trying to communicate. To date, it’s received over 2 million views on youtube. So even though it wasn’t designed for writers, I think it bears a little attention in this discussion.

Part of our job includes envisioning our audience. I write romantic suspense, a wonderful blended genre—and one that is constantly changing, both in content and in readership. As I watched the video, quite a few items jumped out at me (and the song is catchy too). For instance, I learned—
• China will soon be the #1 English speaking country in the world
• 1 of 8 couples married in the U.S. last year met on-line
• There are over 200 million registered users on MySpace
• There are approximately 540,000 words in the English language today, five times as many as there were during Shakespeare’s time

WOW! Each one of those facts astound me, and they each change the picture in my head when I envision my reader and my novel which will appear on the shelf in two years. (Okay, maybe not the last fact, but it is very cool and gives me pause each time I choose a word.)

I also think Fisch/McLeod/Brenman do well when they end their video with “So What Does It Mean?” They don’t even attempt to interpret their findings, but rather leave it to their viewers.

So how did I interpret what I saw? I immediately started thinking about my readers . . . the ones in 2012. The ones who will be reading the book I just started writing. The video reminded me that instead of becoming caught up in minutia such as whether my book will appear in hardback, paperback, ebook, Kindle, or on someone’s IPhone . . . perhaps a wiser use of my time would be to spend it considering my reader’s background. What do they consider a romantic gesture? Will they recognize my male lead as heroic? Can they buy into the basic premise I’ve so carefully laid down on page one and will it thrill them in the way I intended?

I believe romance in its truest form doesn’t change. When you strip away the trappings of our time—technological and societal—romance remains the same. I teach collegiate age young adults, and they still love a good story. The question for me is whether as a writer I have the ability to catch and hold their attention long enough to place my tale of love in their hearts and minds.

As authors, when we do that, we’ll have earned ourselves loyal readers. Kind of like true baseball fans—ones who stick with their teams through good seasons and bad.

I’m interested though. What do you think of when you picture TOMORROW’s readers? Are they different from today’s readers, or pretty much the same? Does technology change our conception of romance? Leave me a comment here on Terry’s Place, and I’ll pull a random name and send you a small Texas package. I’ll even be sure to include a Texas Ranger souvenir. Winner will be announce here on Thursday, so remember to check back! (Note: Drue will be at work, where she can't access the blog, but she'll respond to comments as soon as she gets home.)

Drue Allen’s debut novel, The Cost of Love, will be published by Five Star Press in March, 2010. For more details visit her at

Monday, August 24, 2009

40 Years, But Who's Counting?

What I'm reading: Master of Surrender, by Karin Tabke

August 24, 1969

It's been one heck of a ride. Looking back, this was my post one year ago today.

Since then, we've dealt with me deciding to quit my part-time day job to spend more time writing--right before the economy tanked. Followed by your job disappearing, and deciding it was time to pull up stakes and move--right before the housing market stagnated. Somehow, we've managed to maintain our optimism that everything will work out. You've been there when I've wondered why I'm still plugging away at writing, reminding me it's because I have so much fun doing it, whether or not I land that next book deal (although I know you keep hoping for the movie rights.)

Today, we're pushing the reality of our "normal" (whatever that is) lives aside as we escape to 24 hours of magic. Tomorrow, when we come home again, it'll be back to dealing with the normal stresses, but we're dealing with them together.

And to those who ask what the secret is to so many years of marriage: It's simple. Separate bathrooms.

Please come back tomorrow for my guest author, Drue Allen, who's talking about Baseball and Breakout Novels. You won't want to miss what she has to say (or a chance at winning a great prize in her contest.)

So, faithful readers, today, I hope you'll forgive my strictly personal content. However, you can find me here and here, and I do hope you'll pop over. And don't forget there's still another week to enter MY contest. ARCs of When Danger Calls are very few in number. On Wednesday, it'll be back to writing as usual. I've got updates, plus a recap of Saturday night's DUI Checkpoint. But today is for me and the hubster.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Come say hello

If you have a minute, pop on over to the APA blog. There's an interview with yours truly, and a chance for a free book.

Open House went quite well. (Translation, people showed up and had nice things to say.) Tonight, we're observing a DUI checkpoint (unless it pours rain.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Homicide - Hussey: The Littlest Cop

The next chapter in Detective Hussey's manuscript is a long one, so it'll be broken into parts. Size doesn't always matter.

In 1979 when I joined the police Department, I was put to work for several days in the old comm center, located in the basement at number 20 Lake Wire Drive. It was a dismal little area, built at a time when there was concern for nuclear threats. The walls were thick without any windows, and the lighting was bad. Moral was a constant problem.

It was here that I would be introduced to a little dark haired girl who would change my life in ways I could not have imagined.

Janet Lynn Hughes was about 4’7' tall, and had short, almost boyish, hair. She wore dark, 'Buddy Holly' style glasses, which did nothing for her image, and she was extremely opinionated and a little bossy. I took an instant liking to the girl that everyone called 'Horsey' behind her back. Janet was born in Wyoming, and had done some amateur rodeoing when she was younger. She constantly talked about cowboys, horses and the old West. All things I was interested in. Though I was only in the comm. center for a week or so, before going to the academy, Janet and I became close, lifelong friends.

Later, after becoming a patrolman, I would gain deep respect for the little dispatcher. She always knew where you were, and never lost anybody in the field. While the other radio operators were busy with their reading or needlepoint, you could count on Janet to be one step ahead of you. If you stopped a car, then later asked for a tag check, nine times out of ten, Janet would already have it done. She was a whiz on the radio.

Janet was a hard-charging party animal too. She could drink beer and hang with the big boys. She could tell a story, cuss and chew snuff with anybody on the department.

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She sometimes came out and rode with me on my patrol shifts. One time a guy came running toward our car with an axe raised over his head. Before I could get out of the car and draw my revolver, Janet had the shotgun out, racked one in the chamber and covered the asshole. It was during one of these 'ride-alongs' that Janet told me of her desire to become a Police Officer.

In those days there were very few female cops. The ones we did have were assigned to mundane duties and none had risen to any rank or held any detective positions. In short (no pun intended), the future for a lady cop was bleak. It didn’t matter; she knew what she wanted.

In 1982, Janet applied with the Civil Service Office, to be a police officer. She was turned down. Now folks, Janet is a 'Hughes', and as I have learned painfully, once a Hughes gets an idea in their head, there is no swaying them.

Janet contacted Mulberry Police Chief, John Hunter, and asked him to sponsor her through the Polk County Police Academy. Chief Hunter is a fine man and has been kind enough to have sponsored numerous dedicated policemen and women through training. He is a credit to his profession.

As Janet attended the Police Academy, unlike her male counterparts, who attended their training on duty and were paid, Janet was forced to go to the Academy in the daytime from nine until five, then work the midnight shift, dispatching from twelve to eight. On April Fools day, 1983, Janet graduated from the Police Academy with honors. She was immediately offered a job with the Eagle Lake Police Department. As she was working out her two weeks notice and preparing to leave the Lakeland Police Department, a steady parade of her friends walked in and out of the Chief’s office. There were patrolmen, detectives, sergeants, lieutenants and captains. All encouraged the Chief to hire Janet as a Sworn officer. He finally relented and Janet was sworn in and given her gun and badge.

Janet’s field training period was tougher than most. There were still a lot of guys who didn’t think women should be cops, especially little short (there’s that word again) women. I would say she had to work twice as hard as the guys. Near the end of her training, she wrestled with a suspect who was resisting arrest, and suffered a broken arm. Many people would have quit then and there. Not Janet. She worked the desk, until her arm healed, then completed her training.

Over the next twenty years of her career, she would prove herself and then some. What she lacked in size and strength, she made up for in heart and attitude. I know of no person who has ever been disappointed to have Janet show up as his or her backup

Janet learned her lessons well from the 'Old Guard'. She believed in keeping confidences. What is said in the police car, stays in the police car. She learned to successfully utilize street level informants, and never betrayed a trust. Even the criminals respected and trusted 'Shorty'.

In later years, Janet decided she would like to be a detective. Again, she met with resistance form the dinosaurs of the old regime. There just weren’t any 'girl' detectives. Again, she was not swayed. They finally ran out of legitimate excuses, and in 1990, Janet Hughes, became a property detective.

Again, she was extremely successful, many times working circles around the lazy veteran detectives who had been in the bureau for years. She was able to use her understanding of people and informants to solve crimes and clear cases at a record rate.

Janet worked her way through CID, from Burglary to Aggravated Assaults to Robbery and late in her career, from Robbery to Homicide. She was one of the most successful homicide detectives in the history of the Lakeland Police Department. Her attention to detail and articulate court testimony sent many a scum-bag to Florida’s death row. One case, however, became the crowning achievement of her illustrious police career.

On May 7, 1984, while Janet and I were patrol officers, a grandmotherly old lady named Anna Houston, was brutally stabbed to death in the West Lake Apartments. Anna was known to people in the neighborhood as the 'Cookie Lady', because of her tendency to bake cookies for all the local children. Janet and I were working midnights then, and assisted in the search of the area for the murder weapon, any other evidence we might find. We canvassed the neighborhood, looking for witnesses. No luck, it seemed that nobody had seen anyone or anything.

The detectives, whose names I will not name, were feuding and either were unable, or unwilling to solve the case. As the weeks and months went by, the trail and list of suspects grew cold. The case went into the 'cold case' file and was not thought of again, until 1996, when Detective Janet Hughes began working on it.
Be sure to come back next Friday for the continuation.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reading Like A Writer

Before I start: Our Realtor called and said he wants to hold an Open House both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. In addition, there's another DUI stop that starts Saturday night and runs through about 4 AM Sunday. Looks like it'll be a busy weekend. And a lot of prep work beforehand.

On Monday, we'll be celebrating our anniversary with "Victoria & Albert" at the Grand Floridian.

Back on topic: Reading like a writer. Once you start learning the craft of writing, the entire reading experience changes. All of a sudden (a phrase one of my editors did NOT like), you start noticing things like speaker tags. Point of view. And word usage. Sometimes they'll clunk; sometimes they'll trigger an, "I've got to borrow that one," moment. Sometimes both.

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One author seems to love the phrase "blew out a sigh." Or there's the dialogue tag that says, "Mary said to John," and then "John said to Mary." In a crowded scene, I can see where that comes in handy. I've used it myself. But when there are only two people in the scene, it's obvious who each is talking to. After the second time, it starts leaping from the page. And, strangely enough, it seemed to predominate in only one or two chapters, as if the author meant to change it but forgot. Was there another person in the scene in an earlier draft? Curious writer-readers want to know.

I also noticed the use of someone who 'angled a chair' to face another character. That was one I thought I might borrow. (Hey, it's a word in the dictionary, so it's not stealing). Then I noticed a whole bunch of 'angling', which started to be conspicuous. But I did like the word, and went through my manuscript to see if it would be a better word than 'turned.'

I did a Find on "turned" and found far too many of them. Another word to add to my ever-growing checklist. Checking my Synonym Finder yielded a full page of variations on the word, broken down into 44 sub-categories. You'd think a few of them could replace some of my eighty-something 'turneds'.

I didn't find any "angleds" when I searched, but there are a couple of them now. The caution is that when you replace a word with a better one, you're likely to find that you've used it already within a page. Or a paragraph. I don't know why we tend to keep using the same words over and over.

Sometimes, there just aren't any decent synonyms that make sense. Or that don't sound contrived, or like you just looked them up in a Thesaurus. It's important that the word choices match your writing voice as well as the character's. If you have a teen-aged boy locked in a dark basement, he's not going to be looking for a point of egress. So poor vocabulary choices can also slow a read.

Which segues into today's fun. I haven't shared many of my words of the day in some time. So here's a list of recent words that probably will never make it into anything I'm writing:

And here's one from Susan Wiggs, which doesn't mean what you probably think it does

I've finished (I hope) finding all the "real life" stuff in my manuscript. As far as I can tell, the only one that might require permission is the name of a restaurant chain where I've set a scene. I called their company, and the girl who took my call thought it was 'really cool' that I wanted to use the name in a book. She directed me to their PR firm, and we'll see if I get a response. The passage, taken out of context, might look like there's a problem with the food, although that's definitely not the case. If they don't like it, it'll be a 'coffee shop.'

Tomorrow, I'm finally back to working on my new manuscript. Not only did I finish the Tip Sheet, but I also managed to get a good draft of my contest entry. The challenge: a 7200 word limit for the beginning of a manuscript PLUS a synopsis. The manuscript pages had a perfect ending point at about 7600 words, so that wasn't going to work. The synopsis I'd been using was almost 2000 words. Balancing what to include in each so that the synopsis covered the major plot points, turning points, and GMC, while still leaving enough room for a good chunk of manuscript was an ordeal. I'll look at it again in a day or two, but now, I'm eager to get back to dealing with my newly discovered villain. Once I've got his back story figured out in more detail, and filtered in a few more clues, I can start moving forward.

And don't forget – Homicide – Hussey is back tomorrow. This week: "The Littlest Cop."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Envelope, Please...

What I'm reading: Tribute, by Nora Roberts.

On Monday, I discovered I was the recipient of a Superior Scribbler Award, which was awarded to me by Elizabeth Spann Craig. Thanks, Elizabeth.

There are conditions, of course. These are the rules which I have to post here:

1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

My 5 recipients:

Lee Lofland, The Graveyard Shift
Susan Wiggs, The View From here
Nancy J. Cohen, Notes From Florida
Jenyfer Matthews, Writing News and Disconnected Thoughts
Murder, She Writes
Linda Faulkner, Author Exchange Blog

So, the rules having been followed, what else is going on?

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My publisher has requested the manuscript for the sequel to When Danger Calls, working title: Where Danger Hides. It's been many months since I've looked at it. The first requirement was to re-format according to their guidelines. They prefer a different font size, have specific requirements for chapter headings and scene breaks. Just the little things that meant I couldn't merely attach the file which was formatted the way my agent had wanted it.

And, of course, wanting to put one's best foot forward, it meant reading the whole thing again. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed reading it. Normally, by the time you send it off, you've been polishing and tweaking it until you don't want to see it again. But I've written two other full manuscripts since then, two short stories, and am working on another, so it was almost a fresh read.

The next requirement was to fill out a "Tip Sheet" which is pretty much a CYA form for their legal department. Any real people, places, or things have to be listed. I don't use anything real in a negative manner, but I do mention specific products by name -- things like the Glock my hero carries, or the iPod the heroine listens to. They eat Ben & Jerry's ice cream in a scene. I hadn't given them any thought when I was writing, but having to go through the manuscript and note them made me realize how I prefer to use real, recognizable products if it helps define a character, or delineate a setting.

Whether the publisher accepts it or not is yet to be seen. But I really liked Dalton after his appearance in When Danger Calls, so when he demanded his own story be told, I readily agreed.

This means I haven't been writing much new stuff on my manuscript, but I should be back with Gordon, Justin, and Megan shortly.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Balancing Act

Today, I welcome author Karla Brandenburg to Terry's Place. She's one of my long-distance critique partners, and I thank her for stepping up to the plate rather last minute when my previously scheduled guest had to do some calendar juggling. Welcome, Karla.

For most writers, being an author is in addition to having another full-time job. What the heck, you say? Well most of us aren’t in it for the money, although I’m sure we all dream of becoming the next JK Rowling or Nora Roberts. We do it for the love of the craft. And yet, it’s a love/hate relationship. We can be so enamored of our latest story idea and plunge right into writing it, which is great fun, until you hit the point where you realize now you have to have a plot to go along with your great idea. And characters that will draw your readers into the story. And conflict, because real life does not always go according to plan. ot to mention crafting a sentence that is interesting to read (i.e., something more interesting than, “See Spot run. He ran away. Here he comes now.”).

The other really fun part about writing is that it’s a learning adventure each and every time I write a story. For my most recently completed work, I learned a new word – taphophile – and I discovered that there is a whole group of people in this world who belong to societies about the study of tombstones and graveyards. Sound morbid? It was fascinating!

I learned more about gravestones and cemeteries than I ever imagined, most notably, what certain symbols or engravings represent. It is my experience that authors are wired just a little differently. Learning new things sends the imagination off into a different direction of “what if.”

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On a road trip recently, I visited a cousin’s home for the first time and was captivated by the beautiful setting, in the country, on a hill, overlooking green farmland and meadows with the church steeple in the town barely peeking up over the trees in the distance; the definition of pastoral.

My husband’s first thoughts involved dollar signs, what it cost to live there, quickly followed by what it would be like to drive up that hill during the winter. Practical aspects. To me, it was peace and serenity and, noticing the way my cousin’s husband mowed the grass, crop circles in the middle of a rural Wisconsin town. There were mysteries hiding in the tall grasses and complex relationships struggling to be ironed out, all facilitated by this magnificent setting.

Writing isn’t something authors choose, it’s something that chooses them, giving rein to their imaginations and dragging someone else along with them who never thought of “it” that way (whatever “it” may be). Finding the balance between working the day time job, managing your household and still finding time to pursue a second career as an author is precarious, at best. There are days when life takes over and something has to give, but ultimately, for a true author, the writing is always there.

Billy Joel said, in an address to college students, that he knew from the start that music was his life. While he didn’t encourage other people to choose his road – he never graduated high school – he never considered another career. I think that’s true of any artist. Artistry of any type is a highly competitive arena, and even though it may not always be lucrative, but for the best authors, it isn’t about the money. It’s just who we are.

Karla Brandenburg is the author of The Treasure of St. Paul and Intimate Distance. She is currently working toward publication of her latest novel, Epitaph. Click here to buy Karla's books at
Click here for the e-book version of Intimate Distance
Click here for the e-book version of The Treasure of St. Paul

Monday, August 17, 2009

Finding the Bad Guy

Yesterday's comic, Non Sequitur, by Wiley Miller caught my attention. I'm not sure you can see enough of it here, but if you visit the link, you should be able to read it more clearly. And why did it strike a chord? Well, after reaching the 76K word mark in my manuscript, I've finally discovered who the bad guy is.

Now, not knowing the bad guy isn't quite the same as not knowing the ending. I'm sure Author-Girl in the strip knew that Wolf-Girl would escape and survive, but the question was "How?" Likewise, when writing a romance, you know the hero and heroine will have their Happily Ever After, and when writing a mystery, you know someone will solve the crime. It's getting there that's the challenge.

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In mystery fiction, readers seem to demand that they've at least met the bad guy before the end of the book. Is that the case in real life crime solving? I'm not so sure. After all, a detective will follow leads based on the evidence. A lead might fizzle, eliminating a suspect, in which case he'll dig deeper and move on. I can accept that he might find a lead by interviewing person A, which leads him to person B. If he discovers person B is indeed his bad guy, then he stops looking. (Which reminds me of that childhood riddle: why is it when you look for something, you always find it in the last place you look?) So, in a typical case, it's quite possible that the cop never saw or considered the suspect until he'd eliminated a long string of dead ends. Is that fair in fiction? I don't know. In true-crime, perhaps, but if a reader is trying to solve a puzzle, I think they want all the pieces on the table.

I was concerned that I might have to go back and add a character to be my bad guy, since I was so close to having to wrap up the story. Didn't seem fair to introduce him in chapter 26 for the first time. Realistic, maybe, but who said anything about fiction being real?

So, although I knew what the bad guy had done, and that he'd be caught, I really didn't know who he was. The good side of that? I'd left the possibilities open for a number of characters to be the bad guy, so when the one I thought might have done it turned out to be a red herring, I'd already laid clues so (I hope) the reader might have reason to suspect him as well. In going through the broad strokes of the manuscript, I did find the culprit. Not only that, I'd already given a fair number of scenes where he showed up. It's now a matter of tweaking his back story, and solidifying his motives. It doesn't look like I'll have to add much to what's already on the page. I think these kinds of 'surprises' are what makes writing fun. And, to me, more natural, because I haven't been consciously trying to plant and obscure clues, which I think would end up being red flags waving in the reader's face.

On the real-life front: We've lowered the asking price of our house, per our Realtor's suggestion. He's now getting a few clicks on his "For Showing Instructions" link. About 1 in 3 of these seems to be coming to see the house. (Based on a sample size of 3). I don't mind those who request instructions, but I do mind those who then follow them by calling to set up an appointment and then don't show up. Or call.

Friday, the hubster and I went to the mall to have lunch and shop for shoes for me (HIS suggestion. Frankly, I'm more of a barefoot person). We found a few to his liking. I predict a broken ankle within a month. The store had to order them, so I don't have them in hand (on foot?) yet. And as far as taking them on the cruise goes – I don't think so. Hard enough to walk on those stilts on a substrate that doesn't move. But he likes me tall.

Anyway, when we got back, our credit card weighted down with our purchases, we found no card from the Realtor, and unless they've mastered the art of levitation, so they didn't leave footprints on the carpets I'd so carefully vacuumed as we left, they didn't show up. And no phone call to reschedule or apologize. At least Saturday's Realtor did call twice to update his schedule. Number three hasn't called for an appointment at all.

Tomorrow, my guest is author Karla Brandenburg, who's talking about what keeps a writer writing.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Homicide - Hussey: Shots Fired

Welcome back, Detective Hussey, who by now needs no further introduction.

I listened with amusement this morning to a news report about a small town, veteran police officer who was, as the official report stated, teaching a trainee an arrest technique, when his gun went off and shot the rookie in the chest. The reporter said the younger officer would be fine, thank God, and the incident was under "internal investigation."

This translates to: "We were playing grab ass, and I was showing the kid my quick draw technique, when I hit the trigger and accidentally fired my piece."

I always find it comical when the general public, or police administrators for that matter, attempt to equate a firearm incident which happens to a cop to a firearm incident in the civilian world.

To a police officer, the gun becomes just part of his equipment. It is issued to him like a raincoat or a flashlight. In the beginning, he familiarizes himself totally with his weapon's system, its capabilities, its special quirks. Then he fires it once or twice a year on the range in a completely static environment, with no one shooting at him.

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For most of their careers, cops are bored out of their minds. So when they are sitting around at home watching TV, or sitting in their patrol cars on the late shift, instead of whistling, or doodling on a desk pad, they play with their guns. In fact, it would have been possible for the police department to have thwarted some of their problems, had they done something about the boredom. In their infinite wisdom, they chose not to.

When I came on the department, one of the rules was, you always rode around with your window down. No matter how hot or cold it was, the window was to be down. The philosophy was you couldn't hear crime with the window up. If a supervisor was to see you somewhere with your window rolled up, you could be disciplined.

The other rule was, no AM/FM radios. We would sneak small transistor radios in our brief cases, but you'd better not get caught. They were adamant about this one. One year the new fleet of cars came in with AM dash radios, as standard equipment. The Chief delayed delivery of the new cars for several weeks, as the cars were shipped to the city motor pool and each radio removed and thrown away. We wouldn't want the officers to be distracted, better they play with their guns. Your tax dollars at work once more.

It is here I must explain about "choir practice." The term comes from some of author Joseph Wambaugh's novels about the Los Angeles Police Department. One of Mr. Wambaugh's most popular books came out in the early 1980's, and was titled, "The Choir Boys." It was the fictional account of the antics of several Los Angeles Police officers from the department's Hollywood Division. It told of irreverent, perverted, out of control cops who got together after their shift to drink, carouse and unwind at what they called "Choir Practice."

The term caught on nationally. You could go anywhere in the country and ask the local guys where their watering hole was and when was choir practice. You would be directed to either a local bar, a park or some other exclusive area where access could be controlled.

The Lakeland PD was no different. We had our spots too. One was the graveyard on the West side of the Lakeland Civic Center. We would sometimes gather there, coolers full of beer and liquor, and unwind, usually after an evening shift. If you worked midnights, the location would change. Some mornings would find everybody at "Benny's Oyster Bar" on North Florida Avenue. Benny Brackin, the owner would open up early for us, and at 8:00 in the morning, we would have a traditional breakfast of raw oysters and ice cold beer. Many times we have stayed at Benny's from early morning until the dinner crowd was coming in the evening. After the day shift, the place might be somewhere more suitable, like Bennigans or the XYZ lounge.

I tell you about choir practice because usually, after work, off duty, cops carry their guns, and sometimes when they drink, they play with those guns.

It was not uncommon to be at someone's house watching a ballgame or a movie, to look up and find some guy with his gun out, barrel stuck in his mouth. At one Super Bowl party at Officer Kevin Mimb's home, Steve Donoway removed his new Walther PPKS .380 automatic to show to Monte Mathis. Monty took the gun, pointed it at the floor and promptly discharged a round into the carpeted floor of Kevin's living room.

Monte has stories of his own. In 1984, he responded to an armed robbery in progress. Monte saw the bad guy around Florida Avenue and The Boulevard. Monte gave chase, and in the 200 block of W. Quincy Street, the bad guy wrecked his car and began to shoot it out. The turd's first round found its mark, as it ripped through Monte's chest and exited his back.

I'll never forget the screaming as the radio echoed, "I'M HIT!" Then the softer voice, "Hurry up guys, this ain't gonna' last long," as he saw the blood draining from his body. Monte however, was a fighter. He was able to compose himself, and return fire, wounding and disabling his adversary. The assailant would later die of AIDS in jail. How sad. Monte was decorated and revered for his heroism.

In this business there are a couple of sayings. "Commendations don't mean shit, a cop is only as good as his last headline," and "One aw shit will wipe out a hundred atta' boys." In 1988, four years after his shooting, Monte was working as a narcotics agent and as the guys were sitting around waiting for a deal to go down, they played with their guns. Monte placed his Smith & Wesson 9mm auto against another narc's head, cocked the hammer, then pushed the de-cocking lever, causing the hammer to fall.

An investigation ensued, after which Monte was fired. He stayed unemployed for seven months and thirteen days (not that he was counting). After a lengthy court battle, he was reinstated with all his back pay and benefits. Countless witnesses paraded through the hearing telling stories of pranks and practical jokes involving firearms. Ironically, when he came back to work, Monte regained his hero status. He did some time in the Internal Affairs Bureau, then was promoted to Sergeant. He is today, a valued member of the Lakeland Police Department. What a tragedy it would have been to deprive the citizens of his hero's experience and dedicated service.

Tom Brown and I would ride around on the midnight shift, unlocking the Remington 870 12 gauge shotgun, and tipping it forward from its dash mount. Which ever one of us was riding in the passenger's side would stick the shotgun barrel in their mouth and ride until we could pull up next to an unsuspecting motorist. The driver would then yell "Get away, or the cop gets it." People must have thought we were crazy.

All of us used to carry around a box of 140 grain, semi-jacketed, hollow pint, .38 special bullets, identical to the ones the Police Department issued, just in case you had to fire a few rounds. This day and age, carrying extra ammo is strictly forbidden.

One midnight shift, around 3:00 in the morning, a call for a backup went out from Officer George Kistner. George was a seasoned veteran who rarely got himself into anything he couldn't get out of. He asked for units to be dispatched to him on the north side of Tigers Stadium. We raced to help as usual. When we got there, George had cornered a wild pig.

The nearly 400 pound boar had apparently wandered out of the wooded near Lake Parker. When we got enough guys to surround the animal, we closed in and the huge pig was shot with our service revolvers. We picked the beast up, and loaded him into the trunk of Sergeant Pete Petersen's car. We took him to Pete's house and hung him up in a tree. The unfortunate animal was skinned and put into Pete's freezer, where he later became the guest of honor at yet another choir practice.

Gary "G.W." Fallin used to hunt rabbits with his duty gun on the midnight shift, and I can think of at least one deer that was shot with a riot gun near Lakeland Hills Boulevard.

The "nutty" gun lobby in this country is of the opinion that they would like to disarm the public and have the police who are the "professional" gun handlers, protect them. It's not that we don't have respect for guns, we do. We just understand that a gun is an inanimate object that is just a necessary tool for doing the job we've chosen.

I am sure that this chapter will shock a good number of people. Nobody has a sense of humor anymore. You see, people who day after day deal with a steady adrenaline drip have to reach for a little more dangerous form of recreation, such as skydiving, motorcycling or "barrel-swallowing."

I've seen service revolvers used to pistol whip suspects, and I've seen them used to hammer in nails to hang up pictures, I've seen them used for paper weights, and decorations. They're just tools.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Voice and Fashion

What I'm reading: Warrior, by Angela Knight

Recently, I've started watching "What Not to Wear." I'd never heard of the show until I was at a conference, waiting for an agent appointment, and another writer asked if I thought she was dressed appropriately. She told me her entire wardrobe had been hijacked by a television show, and she had only 3 outfits until she could get to New York for her shopping spree.

Then, hubby made some comment about how something in my closet (probably many somethings) would never pass muster on "What Not to Wear." So, when an episode showed up during a bit of channel surfing, I stopped clicking and watched. I learned that one poor, badly-dressed soul gets $5000 for a new wardrobe, but has to follow the "rules" set forth by Stacy and Clinton, the hosts of the show.

The show has become a guilty diversion as I take a lunch break (and the hubster normally brings his sandwich in and watches it too, although I'm not sure why, since half the time he prefers the slut look so many of the participants start with. Ah, wait. They show the before clothes!). And some days I watch a second episode in the evening.

One of the most common fears expressed by the nominees is, "I want to be me. I don't want someone changing my special style." Of course, Stacy and Clinton will argue that the nominee has no style, and they proceed to throw away the poor person's wardrobe.

And before you shout, "waste, waste, waste", I have it on good authority that the clothes are actually donated – which must make Stacy and Clinton cringe, since they consider almost all the stuff totally inappropriate for wearing.

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And the nominees most certainly must sign something that says they have to go along with it if they're going to get the money, yet they continue to argue that their clothes are fine, and Stacy and Clinton don't really know them well enough to tell them how to dress.

Anyway – what does this have to do with writing? I ran across a few posts on "Voice" in my blog hopping, and I think there's a tie in. Because when each episode of WNTW ends, the participant agrees that they're the same person on the inside, but now the outside matches. And they almost always admit they were wrong, and they're much happier now that they've seen that they can be attractive, yet be themselves.

Stacy and Clinton don't create cookie-cutter clones. They pay attention to the participants' likes and dislikes, and try to show how they can keep those, while working within some more fashionable parameters. Like, no tails pinned to one's jeans. No bare bellies.

Any author starting out tries to write what she thinks an author should sound like. She might work hard to make her characters sound unique, and true to their backgrounds, but all the other stuff—the narrative parts where the character isn't speaking—sounds stilted. It sounds "writerly." And what the characters say isn't the same as "Voice."

There's no real way to teach voice. We've done exercises in workshops where everyone gets a picture and writes a paragraph about it. Then they switch with someone else, and write a paragraph about that person's picture. When they're read out loud, it's clear that no two are alike. Not only do they see different things in the picture to write about, but some will write humor, others write dark. Some write short, snappy sentences, others write flowery prose.

If you read multi-published authors, you'll start to be able to recognize their voices. There's no way you'd mistake Janet Evanovich for Michael Connelly. As the writer, you have to let your own voice show through, no matter what you're writing. It takes practice—and courage, because you have to put "you" on the page, and not the "writer."

But when you finish, you should have your own special work. You won't be a cookie-cutter clone. Rule of thumb—if it sounds "writerly", cut it. When the words flow from the fingertips, that's probably your own voice coming through. Let it sing.

On the real life front:

No word on when the dryer part will appear. I guess the repairman and I have different definitions about "I'll keep you informed," despite my followup call to the company.

And, not so surprising, the retirement/unemployment thing is hitting a few stumbling blocks. Hubby went to the eye doctor. They now require payment before you see the doctor. Upon checking, they said our insurance doesn't exist, despite the fact that we've been making the COBRA payments for the past 5 months. (Sorry, couldn't resist using the snake to illustrate this point). I wonder what'll happen when the dentist puts the charges through for my routine cleaning last week. Of course, nobody at the insurance side of things was answering the phone, and their website was down. The only 'bright side' is that since this is all based on hubby's former employer, he gets to deal with it.

And, what he found out was that despite our paying for everything, we don't exist. We've been reinstated retroactive to the 1st of July, but somehow, I'm wondering if they'll refund our premiums for all the payments we made prior to that. Not holding my breath for that one.

Tomorrow - yep, it's Friday. Bookmark this blog for another chapter from the adventures of Homicide Detective Mark Hussey.