Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Moving Farther E-Ward

What I'm reading: Playing with Barbie by Wynter Daniels; On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle

Thanks, Daniel for your thought-provoking post on e-publishing yesterday. I'm going to add some of my own thoughts today as a follow-up.

**NOTE: When I checked this morning, the Smashwords website was having problems. If the links aren't working when you read this, I hope you'll come back and try again--it's been one of those days.

My first publications were for e-publishers. This isn't the same as writing for a print publisher that also creates digital versions. Why? My first submission, a short-short story called Words had been accepted by a print magazine. Unfortunately (although not all that uncommon, I discovered), it went out of business before the story appeared. There's not a big market for short stories, and I moved on. A while later, I discovered a new romance publisher, The Wild Rose Press. They took short stories, so I submitted Words to them. It was accepted, and I was now a published author. Of course, back then, the only way to buy the story was through the publisher's website, and there weren't a lot of e-readers around. Most folks read e-books on their computers.

Fast-forward a year or so. I had a novel, Finding Sarah that was outside the relatively rigid box of what the New York print publishers were buying. I submitted it to Cerridwen Press, a new imprint of what was then the 500 pound gorilla of e-publishing, Ellora's Cave.

A brief digression here. Ellora's Cave filled a niche that readers wanted. They published erotic romance, and called it "Romantica." Readers could purchase and read these books and stories from the privacy of their homes. No carrying around steamy-hot covers.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Moving E-Ward

Today I welcome author Daniel Arenson to Terry's Place. With ebooks surging in popularity, many authors are going indie—abandoning their publishers, uploading their novels to ebook stores, earning more money, and selling directly to readers instead of to booksellers. Daniel has some insights to share.

Ebooks are the biggest revolution for reading since Gutenberg... and not because we're switching from paper to digital.

In the 15th century, the invention of print changed the world.Reading and writing were skills few owned. Producing books required copying every word by hand. Print brought knowledge and light to thehuman race and was, perhaps, the most important invention since language itself.

Now, in 2010, we're seeing a new revolution for the book. At a dizzying pace, ebooks are taking over. Millions of readers have already switched to ereaders such as Kindle or Nook. They carry hundreds of titles in their handheld devices whose monitors mimic paper. But it's not the medium--an electronic device vs. a paper book--which is significant. This is a revolution because for the first time, authors can sell their work directly to readers.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Counting Down to Nowhere to Hide - 2

What I'm reading: One Wrong Step, by Laura Griffin.

With just under 3 weeks until the release of NOWHERE TO HIDE, I thought it was time you met the hero, Graham Harrigan. I set him up with a reporter. Let's see how he fares.


Meet Graham Harrigan

I tap on the door.

"Come in," says a female voice.

I enter and see a cluttered desk in an equally cluttered office. The woman seated behind the clutter looks up. Her eyes roam up and down my body, and she gestures to a chair with a well-manicured hand. "Sit. Relax. It's not painful, I promise."

I guess it's obvious I'm not sure what I'm doing here. I sit in the chair she indicated. "Terry Odell said you're expecting me?"

"That's right." She clears a spot on her paper-covered desk and sets a tape-recorder in the middle. "All right if I record the interview? Less chance of me getting something wrong."

Now I know why I feel so strange. I'm the cop. I usually conduct the interviews. Being on the other side is awkward. "No problem, as long as I get a copy."

She nods, her mouth curving upward. "I can do that. Or would you like to use your own machine?"

I don't tell her my recorder's been running since I hit her receptionist's office. Old habits die hard. Instead, I pull it out of my sport coat's pocket and make a show about fiddling with the buttons. "Might save time."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chronologically Challenged.

Some of you might have seen a sneak preview of tomorrow's post, where we'll meet Graham Harrigan of NOWHERE TO HIDE. That was me being technologically (and chronologically) challenged when I tried to schedule it for my usual Monday. Sorry, and come back tomorrow. Graham will be here! Have a great Sunday.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Field Trip - Burgundy Canal

First, as promised, the winner of Lynda Hilburn's contest is ... WATERY TART! Please email Lynda at boulderboomer (at) to let her know how to get your prize to you. Congratulations.

House update: things are moving along. Yesterday, the contractor started installing base cabinets, and the closet company installed the shelving units in both of our offices. That's the good news. The bad news is that we're without any sinks upstairs, and have only a pedestal sink in the basement bathroom to use, unless we decide to use the bathtubs. And it'll be at least 3 weeks before the countertops and sinks get put in. I'm seeing a lot of disposable dishes.

Today, I promised a trip to France. Mom took a barge trip down the Burgundy Canal, and she's sharing some of her pictures. You can click on them for larger images. Last minute update -- just talked to my mom, and the picture of the tree on the rocks was taken in Maine, not on her trip. She thought it was pretty (as do I) so she threw it into the mix.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

More on Transitions

What I'm reading: The Fortuneteller's Lay, by Lara Dien

Don't forget, Lynda Hilburn is giving away a copy of one of her books to a commenter on her Tuesday post. Scroll down and read yesterday's post, leave a comment there, and then come on back. You have until 5 PM Mountain time tonight. Lynda will select a winner, and I'll announce it tomorrow.

The cabinets arrived yesterday afternoon. Contractors will begin installation today—they promised to have all the base cabinets in kitchen and baths installed in time for the countertop people to come measure for the template on Monday. Today, the closet people are supposed to be installing our office shelving. I'm eagerly awaiting that phase, so I can start putting things away. It should start feeling more like an office and less like a storage room. Can't wait to go shopping for real furniture.

Yesterday I was talking about transitions, and how important it is to make smooth changes when you switch POV characters. But transitions are important even if you're not shifting POV.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Handling Transitions

What I'm reading: Better Late than Never, by Savannah Stuart

Thanks to Lynda for her intriguing post yesterday. Don't forget, she's giving away a copy of one of her books to a commenter. Scroll down and read yesterday's post, leave a comment there, and then come on back. You have until Thursday. Lynda will select a winner, and I'll announce it on Friday.

Last week, I mentioned transitions, and how everything has to flow.
In our house, we have small areas of tile at the entry doors and in front of the two fireplaces. The rest of the flooring is newly installed ¾ inch hardwood. One of the challenges the contractors faced was making sure the transition between tile and wood was smooth, because the new hardwood was thicker than the pre-existing laminate flooring.

In your manuscript, you have to decide how you're going to get from one place to the next. My writing style tends to be write it, then juggle it. The danger is that things will get choppy. I don't want my tile mixed in with the wood.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Allure of the Bad Boy

Today I'm pleased to welcome Lynda Hilburn to Terry's Place. Admit it--we all find bad boys intriguing. Let's hear from an expert about why we do. Be sure to leave a comment answering her questions -- she has prizes! And it should make for an interesting discussion.

I had a psychotherapy session with a client yesterday and she reminded me of an ongoing question in my mind: What is it about bad boys? Why are we attracted to them? Why do we abandon good sense (along with clothing, sometimes, LOL) when one walks into the room?

From a psychological point of view, we’re often drawn to men who remind us (consciously or unconsciously) of an important male figure from our childhoods. Or, we’re enticed by the opposite. For example, if Dad was a bad boy, depending on how his behaviors impacted us, we might either idealize or demonize him. If he was a laid-back beta male, we might crave what had been missing.

Hmmm. Do we believe that hanging out with a rebellious, borderline criminal will somehow rub off on us and we’ll begin to explore our primitive sides? Is this really about our desire to be wild and crazy? Unrestricted? Less like good girls?

What is a bad boy? When I use those words, I don’t necessarily mean someone who is evil. Although, he could be. He certainly doesn’t follow rules or conform to society’s ideas about what he should/shouldn’t do. He might have a flexible moral compass. He’s often a risk taker, who probably wouldn’t be satisfied with a traditional nine-to-five job or a “normal” life. He’s the perfect projection screen for our fantasies.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Counting Down to Nowhere to Hide

What I'm reading: Fantasy in Death, by J.D. Robb

What with the moving, the renovations, and everything else that interrupts routine, I neglected the calendar. I really have to get my white board mounted on my office wall. It's less than a month to the release of my next book, "NOWHERE TO HIDE" from The Wild Rose Press. I have a million things to do. Sorry if this post is interrupted, but I've got to dash for a bit. While I'm gone, maybe you can check out my recipes for Key Lime Pie over at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. Or poke around the Coming Soon link on my website. I'll be back as soon as I can.


Oh, Good. Hi, everyone!

Terry's off running errands and she left her computer on. My name's Colleen McDonald, and I'm going to sneak in for a bit. Don't say anything to her, okay?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day and Key Lime Pie

First - a very Happy Father's Day to my dad. Although we can't be together, I'm thinking of you.

And I'm over at the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen today, talking about food. Specifically, Key lime pie, a treat I discovered when we moved to Miami and we had a key lime tree in our yard.

Please stop by if you have time. You'll find not only recipes, but also book excerpts.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Field Trip - Florissant Flowers

Last week I shared my vista shots from the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. I mentioned that the hubster was busy shooting the wildflowers. He's sharing some of his shots today.

His fancy camera gear lets him get much more up close and personal. Now, if anyone can identify the flowers ... :-)

And please--if anyone has any photos to share for a Friday Field Trip, let me know. I need more variety here! Thanks.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Connecting the Dots

Quick house progress: after two quiet days, the workers were back at floor installation yesterday. The noise of power saws and power guns, the pounding of rubber mallet on floorboard getting it into place, and their radio. The smell of sawdust, of burnt wood when they cut the bottoms off trim so the new floor would fit, and of varnish, where they were redoing the door jambs. It's not quite familiar enough to be background noise. But the cabinet people called, and they'll deliver the new cabinets for kitchen and bathrooms next week. It's rare that I'm lucky enough to get in on the early end of a window.

As for writing…

Every now and then, there's a scene that absolutely refuses to get from opening to closing in a straightforward fashion. I just got up close and personal with one of them—for over two days.

I had my starting plot points, there were only two characters in the scene (and one was asleep for most of it), and I had a reasonable idea of where it should end.

As I worked on it, however, it was more like a connect-the-dots picture, but without any numbers telling you what the next dot should be. Sort of like this one--with an entirely different way to get the right picture.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

For "Other" Press Six

Thanks to Kerrie for her post on technological advances. I think I'm going to piggyback on that topic.

Note: Today's a grumble day, so if you want writing, come back tomorrow.

After a productive weekend, I was looking forward to yet another day of relative quiet. Only one of the workers was scheduled, and he was going to be doing electrical and touch-up painting, which meant another day free from floorboard pounding.

When he called early Monday morning, saying his daughter had an ear infection and he couldn't make it, I wasn't the least bit bothered. Another full day to myself (Hubster left Friday for a meeting in Laramie, and won't be back until tomorrow afternoon.)

I followed my morning routine, checking blogs and email, and then worked on the scene I'd written the night before. It needed some tweaks, and didn't end in the right place, but I felt pretty good when I'd fixed it. I like knowing I have a good long stretch of time to write when I start on new stuff, so I decided to plan my day. I prefer to get the little things out of the way, then settle in with the WIP.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Going By Way of the Dodo

Today I welcome Kerrie Flanagan to Terry's Place. She's reflecting on a simpler time as a freelancer and sometimes secretly wishes for those days again.

I long for trips to the mailbox to see if a magazine editor responded to a query. But alas, those days are gone.
I must admit, I jumped on the email bandwagon as soon as I could. I pushed the envelope and called editors to see if they would accept an e-query. I felt I uncovered a hidden gem. I marveled at its ease and efficiency.

Then magazines started putting their issues online. We no longer had to order sample copies or spend hours at the library looking through past issues. I was giddy with excitement. The magazine world was now at my fingertips.

I remember shooting off query after query into cyber-space. No longer did I campout by my mailbox, I now compulsively checked my email every 17 minutes to see if an editor responded. At least with the mailbox, I got a little exercise. Now my eyes became red and glassy.

Monday, June 14, 2010

If It Ain't Broke...

What I'm reading: The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames.

If you haven't checked in over the weekend, you might not have seen my new blog design yet. I'm going to call it a work in progress, because I haven't figured out how to interpret the "simple" directions provided by Blogger. It's been trial and error more than anything else. My knowledge of HTML consists of being able to put words in italics, bold, or underline them. And I know how to link text to a web URL. That's about it. So when the instructions say, "find this line of code in your template and insert this piece of code, I feel like I'm in Kindergarten. Or worse, because I actually knew most of what they taught us in Kindergarten before I got there. It's more like how I felt in calculus.

I dropped that course second semester, which might not bode well for me getting the blog to behave.

One feature that disappeared was the "keep reading" link. Since I know this created problems for slow-loading browser days, when I saw that Blogger claimed it had a quick and easy (so it said) 'jump link', I … jumped on it. But to use it, you had to change to their new editor. Cringe. New? The old one worked fine most of the time. But I gave it a shot.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Look?

Found an entirely new blog design system. Probably spent too much time playing around. I can't control all the elements--at least I haven't figured out how, but this seems to work. Any impressions?

And as long as we're on the subject of blogs, I was interviewed about blogging here. I wouldn't mind a comment or two.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Field Trip - Florissant National Monument

Last Sunday, we went to a new favorite breakfast place in Florissant. Afterward, we went to the nearby Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. I'd suggested the excursion, since there is an easy 1-mile loop walk through the petrified forest. And it's not Florida, so the weather was pleasant.

Although it was a National Parks Free Weekend, since it's someplace we figure we'll visit many times, we decided to buy an annual pass. And the entire National Park system offers a special Senior rate -- for $10, you get a lifetime admission to ALL National parks. Who says there's no good side to getting older?

I brought my little point-and-shoot. Hubster (who also dressed like we were going on an all-day hiking trek) brought his good camera with the fancy lenses. He took a lot of flower shots.

But today, it's mostly my little vista shots. It was tough choosing just a few for this post. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Men Aren't Women With Chest Hair

What I'm reading: Risk No Secrets, by Cindy Gerard

A quick recap: Sexual Tension is about the magic between two characters. It's layered. You have to consider awareness, language, and the ability to get into the characters' heads. Yesterday, I covered her discussion of awareness.

Today, we'll start with language, both in dialogue and narrative. If you're going to be writing sexual tension and sex scenes at an intense, realistic level, Linda Howard suggests that you get comfortable with the language, especially words that describe bodies. Use words when they're appropriate to the characters and situation. Judicious use of shocking language makes a point. Used too often, they lose their power.

Howard told us that in order to get used to writing words that she wasn't comfortable with, she sat at her computer and filled the screen with F-bombs. She got used to seeing the words, and her fingers got used to typing them.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

It's Still About the Sex

Thanks to Julie for being my guest yesterday. A great post. If you haven't read it, you should. And, you should also read Monday's post, plus the 12 Steps to Intimacy (there's a link in Monday's post) if you didn't read them Monday.

In addition to doing her workshop, Linda Howard was generous in answering questions on all aspects of her career. She admits to being a total "pantser" and writes by telling the story of her characters. She never really knows what will happen next. That sounded very much like my process, so I was encouraged. When she closes in on the end of a book, she's totally immersed in it to the point that she skips some of the basics—like eating and sleeping. Her husband graciously steps in and does the "wife stuff." She said a recent book had her submerged for several weeks. To feel 'manly' when she was finished, her husband went and bought a backhoe.

After she went through the 12 Steps (you have read them by now, right?), she elaborated on how to apply them to romance writing.

Points to remember: It's about species survival. Human infants require many YEARS of nurturing. There has to be a strong bond between male and female in order to keep them together long enough to rear children. Sex drives this bond. Males are stuck being attracted to females long before females are attracted to males. Pheromones work differently. Male testosterone levels make aggressive behavior something that has to be curtailed in order to establish the requisite trust for bonding.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Sex and the Single Mother

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming best-selling author Julie Leto to Terry's Place. She's tackling the topic of surmounting non-sexy character situations and writing a sexy book.

My readers have certain expectations of my books, particularly when I’m writing for Harlequin Blaze. The line is super-sexy and focused, oftentimes, on how the sexual attraction between a man and a woman leads to a deeper, more emotional romantic connection.

In my own mind, I’ve equated those reader expectations with writing about heroines who are younger, somewhat unencumbered women on the brink of some new threshold of their lives. In that interest, I realized recently, I’d never written a single mother heroine. Having children around just isn’t that conducive to no-holds-barred, open-minded sexual exploration!

Well, that’s not entirely true. The heroine of my very first book, SEDUCING SULLIVAN (published in June of 1998) had a heroine who had custody of her best friend’s daughter, who I believe was eleven. In the unedited version of the book, that kid caused me more problems...every scene she was in, she stole it and destroyed the sexual tension between the hero and heroine, which was pretty powerful stuff otherwise. To fix this problem, I revised the book and sent her to camp. Score! The book sold. She still appears in a single scene in the book—but that was it.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Survival: It's All About Sex

What I'm reading: Storm Prey, by John Sanford

Not much to update on the wildlife front - a raccoon got into the hummingbird feeder again. We've been bringing it in at night, but apparently not early enough. And I did spot a coyote on our way to breakfast Sunday.

On Saturday, I drove all the way into the Springs to attend a workshop presentation by best-selling romance author Linda Howard. I've summarized her 12 Steps to Intimacy on this blog more than once. I suggest you read today's post first. I'll give you the back link at the end.

Although the 12 Steps to Intimacy was the topic of the first part of her workshop, she spent a considerable amount of time explaining the why and how these steps came to be, from a species survival standpoint. I thought I'd share that with you today. Her research, as mentioned in my earlier post, is gleaned from Desmond Morris's books. He was an anthropologist, and his concepts are based on comparisons of human beings with other mammalian species.

Howard's first point was that sex is very powerful, and very important. It's more than recreation. Her comment: Sex and guns are powerful—handle both with care. Writing sensual love scenes requires an understanding of the human sex drive. Our mating rituals have deep roots in survival instincts.

And, as she points out, survival of the species is a more powerful drive than survival of the individual.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Friday Field Trip - Giant's Ring

Another blog-clone day. Here at Terry's Place, you're going to Ireland. I'm over at Author Expressions again, with my job interview for the hero of When Danger Calls. Pop over and meet Ryan. These pictures will be here when you get back.

Jessica has returned with some nifty shots of Giant's Ring. I asked her to explain it, and this was her response.

It's a late Neolithic or early Bronze age henge monument. The stones in the center are the remnants of a "passage grave"...the entrance to the center, which was a ceremonial site. It's surrounded by the big earthworks about 3.5m high. There's been some archaeological evidence of cremation pits and 3 rings of timber posts (think Stonehenge & Woodhenge, but smaller). The "grave" in the center would have been originally covered with earth.

If you click on the photo, you should be able to view a larger image. Thanks to Ray for suggesting that, and Jess for re-sending them all in a larger format.

For those who might want to know exactly where this is, you can click here. The circle is clearly visible (or should be--I still don't trust links to open the same way for everyone).

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Skill Sets and Transitions

No new wildlife—I think the construction noise freaked them out. Hummingbirds are fearless, however—they don't even wait until you hang up the feeder.

Construction update. Tile laid in one of the entries and in front of the fireplace. The darker tile is going to look good with the lighter oak. Hall bathroom gutted and ready for tile tomorrow, along with the other entry (if they did them both the same day, we wouldn't be able to get out of the house until they set). They're discovering extra work due to strange techniques used by the previous owners. I thought things would be quiet, but they got out power saws and power screwdrivers and power noisemakers in general. And … drum roll … we have a Dumpster! Yes, Dumpster is a trademark, just like Kleenex, so it has to be capitalized.

As I listened to the workers dealing with laying the tile, I started thinking about layers of skill sets for characters. Depending on our upbringing and experience, we might consider those who work in 'blue collar' trades as people who work with their hands, not their brains. I know the focus on my generation was to get a college degree and work in an office, rising the corporate ladder.

Slight digression here...

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Waitress, I Need Two More Plot Points

What I'm reading: One Last Breath, by Laura Griffin

Thanks to Patrick for his helpful tips on editing yesterday. Lots of meat there.

Quick wildlife update: A glimpse of red in an aspen outside our bedroom caught my eye. I didn't recognize the bird, so I mentioned it to the hubster. I could sense skepticism as he asked me to describe it. I'm sure he thought I'd seen one of our regular visitors. And, of course, it had flown away by the time he came upstairs to look for himself. He poked through his field guide and showed me 'what it probably was'. I said no. It showed up a little while later, and indeed, it was a new bird. Not only new to our house, but one he'd never seen before. Ever. A Red Crossbill. Points for me.

I will confess that not a lot of writing got done yesterday. Our stalwart crew of two showed up with a jackhammer type device to break out the tile in the kitchen area. Actually, not a lot of thinking got done, either. However, on a serendipitous note, they had to take out the old range to get the tile out from underneath it. In doing so, they found that there was a capped gas line already in place, so they won't have to deal with installing a new one for my new gas range.

Also, the installer for our window treatment showed up on schedule, so he was in and out putting up our shades. We should have a dark bedroom—maybe I won't be up at 5:30 in the morning anymore. And with a covering for my west-facing office window, I can continue to work after 6 PM.

However, I did work on the manuscript Monday.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Craft of Editing

Today my guest is C. Patrick Schulze, someone I met on Twitter. As he is in the final stages of editing his current manuscript, he offered to pass along some of his insights into the craft of editing. In addition to providing this post, he's also got a podcast version. Welcome!

I'd like to thank Terry Odell for allowing me to guest host today. It was kind of her to offer me the opportunity to meet all of you.

What makes a writer? You'd think it might be his writing. The truth of the matter is it's rare that one's writing makes the writer. For most of us, the craft of writing develops its true strength only after we learn the craft of editing. It is within our editing that our true writing emerges.

So, how does one put the craft of editing to work? Without doubt, it's a laborious undertaking but one that's mandatory if you wish to success with your writing. As with the craft of writing, the craft of editing is a process that's unique to each writer, but here's what works for me.

First of all, I complete my rough draft then set it aside and write something else for a while. When I pick my rough draft up a month or so later, I begin my first revision.

I'll read through my rough draft at least seven times and, with each read, edit for one or two related concepts. I also find it useful to record my manuscript as I read. (I use the free software from Further, my wife reads it aloud to me at least once. It really helps to see how others read it.

Here's my editing process.