Thursday, September 30, 2010

We Have a Winner

The winner of Tia Dani's contest is Laurie Schnebly Campbell. Laura - send your email to Tia Dani at Tiadaniauthor at aol dot com so she can send your prize. Congratulations, and thanks to everyone who commented.

Homicide - Hussey: The Awakening

What I'm reading: At Close Range, by Tara Taylor Quinn

While I'm regrouping after my trip to the Writers' Police Academy, and en route to the Emerald City Conference, I'm delighted to share the next installment in the "Homicide - Hussey" saga. If you read the previous post last Thursday, you might remember that he enlisted in the Army. Following is his recounting of his early days at Fort Bragg. Enjoy!

I was partnered up with a senior Specialist 4th Class named Clive Satler. Clive had less than a month to go on his hitch. He was content to answer the calls that came crackling across the huge jeep radio, and to not make waves. I, on the other hand, was like a puppy dog. I wanted to investigate everything. I wanted to write tickets, I wanted to ferret out criminal activity and I wanted to bust up bar fights.

I had checked out a hand held radar unit from the sergeant's office. When Clive saw me dragging the gray plastic suitcase holding the radar gun, he groaned, settled down in the passenger's seat of the jeep, and pulled his red beret down over his eyes. "Do whatever you want, but don't wake me up, Cherry." With his eyes closed and as an afterthought he said, "And don't get me into no shit."

I started the M151A1 ¼ ton utility truck (Army nomenclature for jeep), and after advising the desk, officially designated on the radio as Smoker, that unit 2-1 was in service, I headed to the heart of the 82nd Airborne Division Area. I found a spot, in plain view, as mandated by the Supreme Court, and pointed my radar gun north in the hopes of catching a speeder. The speed limit in the division area was 35mph, so it was pretty common that guys would speed on the wide-open four-lane highway. GI's are usually in a hurry. In the 82nd, in the midst of frequent readiness alerts, off-duty time is precious, and troopers like to make the most of it.

I had written several tickets, each one for at least ten miles over the speed limit. My partner continued to snore. I hoped I never got that lazy and worthless. How could he be like this? Police work was so exciting.

My daydreaming was interrupted by the high pitched whine of the radar gun. I excitedly locked in the speed at 57mph. "Holy shit!" I yelled. "Twenty over, a mandatory court appearance." I threw down the radar gun and depressed the clutch, jamming the jeep into first gear and popping the clutch at the same time. The jeep lurched forward, spinning the rear wheels and throwing gravel.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Writers' Police Academy, Part 1

First, thanks to Tia Dani for their haunting post yesterday. There's still time to leave a comment there for a chance to win their prize!

What I've been reading: Get Lucky, by Suzanne Brockmann, McKettricks of Texas: Austin, by Linda Lael Miller, Highland Moonlight by Teresa J. Reasor

The first official Writers' Police Academy, organized by Lee Lofland (if you don't know him from his blog, The Graveyard Shift, he's a retired cop who helps authors get the 'cop stuff' right' in their books). We squeezed into shuttle vans on Friday morning and arrived at the Guilford Technical Community College. One of the exciting things about this conference was that the venue was the actual campus that trains law enforcement officer, firefighters, and EMS personnel. Many of our workshops were taught by the same instructors who train cadets. I can't begin to imagine the combined years of experience we had access to.

First on the schedule after registration was an overview of every imaginable facet of public service. The campus is in High Point, and we had representatives from both Greensboro and High Point. We had police, highway patrol, deputy sheriffs as well as firefighters and paramedics. They had vehicles, from ambulance to ATV to mobile command centers, all giving us full access to the equipment they used, as well as an amazing willingness to answer every possible question a group of writers could come up with. Dive teams, S.E.R.T. (their version of SWAT), Hazardous Devices (what we used to call the bomb squad). A group of cadet firefighters showed up in turnout gear as part of their classwork—they were going to be practicing live fires that day.

And to let you know how interesting it was, I didn't mind being outside in a huge parking lot in the southern heat and humidity for several hours! And, even more impressive was the fact that all these officers also came out to stand in the heat, in uniform, on their own time.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Haunted Writer Retreat

Tia Dani is a multi-published writing team made up of good friends, Tia Eaton and Dani Petrone. Together they create endearing and realistic characters, humorous dialogue, and unusual settings, and, best of all…they’re having the time of their lives. There's a giveaway, so be sure to keep reading and leave a comment I'll announce the winner on Thursday, so you have plenty of time to pass the word!

First of all, Terry, thank you for inviting us to Terry’s Place. We’re excited to be here visiting with you and your readers. In appreciation we are giving away a CD of our book, Color of Dreams, to one reader who leaves a comment.

As a writer sometimes you just need to get away and re-charge your brain cells. The best way we light a fire under our dormant muse is to hang out with like-minded friends, brainstorming, eating chocolate and drinking wine. We do this several times a year by going on a weekend retreat at a fun place in our state. And nowhere is more fun to us than staying in a hotel that is supposedly haunted. For us as writers the fun of delving into ghost lore comes from learning the story behind the haunting and then exaggerating it to another level.

One of our favorite places to visit is Jerome, AZ. Jerome is an old mining town set on the side of a mile-high mountain. The timeworn, crumbling buildings are now home to mostly artists who sell their work in the shops lining the main street. Jerome is a wonderful little town to purchase gifts of sparkly jewelry, scented candles, lovely paintings and beautiful handmade clothing. And when you get hungry you must stop in the Haunted Hamburger for lunch, but be sure to save room for dinner. The Asylum, the dining room in the Jerome Grand Hotel features mouth-watering entrees and a great wine list. Besides, you never know who might drop in to say ‘hello’ while you’re dining there. Local legend tells the story of a lady who roams the building looking for her daughter who died at birth.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Book Week 2010

Are you aware Banned Books Week started on Saturday? Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. For more, click here .

The trouble with censorship is that once it starts it is hard to stop. Just about every book contains something that someone objects to.
~Studs Terkel

A Texas town has banned the Harry Potter books because they glorify magic, and learning to read.
~Craig Kilborn

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.
~Joseph Brodsky

"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it."
-- Mark Twain

"Adam was but human - this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple's sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent."
-- Mark Twain

"All these people talk so eloquently about getting back to good old-fashioned values. Well, as an old poop I can remember back to when we had those old-fashioned values, and I say let's get back to the good old-fashioned First Amendment of the good old-fashioned Constitution of the United States -- and to hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death!"
-- Kurt Vonnegut, author

"The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book."
-- Walt Whitman

"There is no such thing as a moral book or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all."
-- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
"The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame." Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all." -- Oscar Wilde

How many of these books have you read?

When I was it high school, it was Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, and Lady Chatterley's Lover that were making the headlines. I wonder how many of the books I've been reading lately (heck, even the ones I've written) would fare by those standards.

Tomorrow, my guest is writing duo Tia Dani, and they're talking about haunted houses--based on their own experiences. Be sure to come back.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Field Trip - Arizona Wildflowers

Early on in my writing, I had the pleasure of being in an on-line critique group with William Penrose. I had an even greater pleasure when my travels too me to Tucson, and we got to meet face-to-face. Some time back, I shared my photos of that trip. Bill is a rockhound and loves getting out to the wilds of his desert environment. He's been generous enough to share some of his pictures. This week it's wildflowers. Next week, it'll be country side. (And I still hope more of you will share some of your own photos!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Revisiting Homicide - Hussey: Intro

Given that I'm traveling to the Writers' Police Academy, I thought it would be appropriate to re-run some exploits of a real live law enforcement officer. This post is from January 9, 2009

I met Deputy Sheriff Hussey when I asked one of the Civilian Police Academy instructors if he'd mind answering questions. I offered to buy him coffee; he asked if there was an Ale House in my neighborhood, and brought two of his colleagues, one of whom was Detective Hussey. Since then, we've chatted, emailed, and had a few more brews. Hussey has been writing accounts of some of his stories, and he's graciously allowed me to share them. I'll be posting them from time to time -- sorry, I don't have a schedule, so you'll have to check back if you want to see more. I figured the beginning was the best place to start -- so, meet the man who answers his phone, "Homicide. Hussey."

They say that police work is a ringside seat to the greatest show on earth. Truer words were never spoken. It's hours of sheer boredom, punctuated by seconds of sheer terror. It's the toughest job you'll ever love. War is hell. They're all great clich├ęs and they all apply.

I've had more fun and been more miserable being a cop than you can imagine. Mostly though, its been fun and at times, rewarding. Once you've put your world into perspective, and realize that all the things you thought you could change when you were a rookie but found out you will never change, life as a cop is easier to take. You realize things don't matter as much. You just do the best you can, and try to make a difference in a few situations and in a few peoples' lives. You try to leave this world a little better place than it was when you came, or at least not a worse place.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Writers' Police Academy

Since we're leaving at the crack of dawn tomorrow, today we'll be busy taking care of all the last minute preparations. It looks like it'll be a great experience. I mean, how many conferences have you been to where they send the following information about what to expect?

Prepare yourself mentally. Don’t be shocked if someone carrying a machine gun passes you in the hallway. There will be shouting, sounds of gunfire, and bursts of adrenaline!

During the handcuffing and arrest workshops instructors will be demonstrating various techniques. You may be called upon to participate. This is not the time to show off your black belt or ground-fighting skills. Do not, do not, do not do anything other than what you’re told to do by the instructors. The life you save may be your own…

Cameras will be allowed, but you absolutely must ask permission before taking photos and videos during any of the workshops. Some of the officers work undercover assignments and a photograph could jeopardize their safety. Yours too if you snap a photo without permission… :)

And if you want to see some of the workshop offerings ...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Travel and the Writer

Today my guest is Jim Ingraham who wants to share his take on a recent trip north with his son Pete and wife Slim.

And while Jim is here at Terry's Place, I'm over at "The Old Silly" blog sharing a quick lesson on Transitions.

Welcome, Jim

I have just returned from a seven-day voyage to Alaska. I had originally planned to keep a journal or perhaps a diary so that I would remember events of the trip. I described the flight from Florida to Seattle (truly uneventful) and the marvelous experience of having dinner on the rotating restaurant on the Space Needle. After boarding the ship that was to carry us north, I set the journal aside and just enjoyed what I was witnessing. I do not intend to write “Murder on the Alaska Cruise.” Agatha did that about a train ride, and one’s enough. But I did give a lot of thought to the value of travel to writers.

Somerset Maugham traveled for story material and came up with good stuff like “Rain.” Hemingway and Flaubert and Graham Greene, among flocks of others, made productive use of travel. Alternatively, the legendary editor Max Perkins discouraged a woman from traveling to Paris for atmosphere. “It’s better to use your imagination,” he said, or something like that.

So what do writers gain from travel?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Character Arcs and Disbelief

What I’m reading: Silencing Sam, by Julie Kramer

My current writing obstacle: character arcs. A character has to change over the course of the book. My heroine begins as woman who’s fled her abusive husband, taking their son with her. Her ‘inciting incident’ happened before the book opened, when the husband started beating the son as well, which was her last straw.
Ultimately, she’s going to have to change from being afraid (since her husband might be looking for her) and defensive (because that was her coping mechanism for dealing with him) to self-assured and independent.

Two issues: One stems from the abbreviated timeframe of writing a romantic suspense. Things happen quickly. The author has to be able to convince the reader to suspend disbelief that a romantic relationship, complete with the requisite HEA will take place between Page 1 and The End. In order to keep the tension and suspense moving, things unfold over relatively short periods of time.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

And the Winner Is...

Congratulations to KIM the winner of my Flash contest.

This will be the last winner for a while--contests are taking a hiatus.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Field Trip - Egypt

While we're exploring Egypt, I'm hosting mystery author Dorien Grey at Author Expressions. Please see what he has to say about Paper Dreams.

Today's field trip comes courtesy of my mom, Lelo Carter. In 2000, she and my dad went Egypt. Here are some of the pictures my mom took. Thanks to Mom for sending these -- but how about some more of you?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Getting the Setting

Last day to enter my contest! Click the tab for details.

Right now, we're experiencing the change seasons, something that was so subtle in Orlando, that I always said there were two seasons there: Summer and February 3rd. But as I type this, I'm looking out the window at the aspen trees.

They've been going from green to gold over the last week, standing out in stark contrast to the dark green pines. Not long ago, they were just getting their leaves.

Setting. I love being in the book with the characters. I may not have ever been to that location, but I want to think that if I ever did visit that locale, it would feel like I'm coming back to somewhere I've been.

When we left Los Angeles for Miami back in the dark ages, the television show CHiPs was popular. (Note-I didn't say it was good). We watched it primarily to get glimpses of the city we'd just left. We also laughed at the way Ponch and John would bike from San Pedro to the San Fernando Valley in a matter of minutes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Editing? Get Out of the Box

What I'm reading: Ashton's Secret, by Liana Laverentz

First things first – I've blogged about authors supporting each other before, and today I've got two examples.
Without any solicitations on my part, this blog was discovered by Patricia Marie Warren, who has a blog called "Typing One Handed." She's featuring Terry's place as her blog of the week. I hope you'll drop by – this isn't an interview, book promotion, or the like. It's simply a review of what she likes about my blog. Take a moment to check her out … and, of course, leaving a comment would be wonderful.

Second, I was approached to participate in an on-line book launch for author Carolyn Schriber. She's writing an historical novel, something that's way outside my writing comfort zone, and approached authors to contribute articles on the craft of writing, which is well within my zone. She decided she liked it enough to include me in her launch party, so I'll be fielding questions and discussions over there from 1-9 PM, my (mountain) time. I'm in the Interview Room. She's got all sorts of things going on -- games, food, workshops. It should be interesting, and I'd love some company.

I hope you'll visit both sites, and pass the word.

And as long as you're popping around, here's another review for Nowhere To Hide.

As for my "real" life:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why Cops are Partial to "No Comment"

Kathy Bennett has been a Los Angeles Police Officer for over twenty years, with most of her career spent working the streets of L.A. Most people see police officers as a badge and uniform. Today, Kathy gives us insight into how, even off-duty, police officers have to limit their public exposure.

(Note: Kathy is not only out of town, but had a virus attack her computer. She's promised to check in whenever she can, so feel free to post comments, ask questions, and be your usual friendly selves.)

I’ve been a Los Angeles Police Officer for more than twenty years. I’d wanted to be, not just any cop, but an LAPD officer from the time I was twelve. Wearing the badge and uniform of the LAPD was a dream – and one, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure I’d achieve. I’m not the biggest, strongest, or even a remotely athletic female. But what I do possess is a strong determination. A trait my husband likes to call my stubborn streak. That resilience served me well in my Academy training where my physical endurance was put to the test daily.

Another quality I’m blessed with, is a strong sense of opinion. I’ve got views on almost everything; and depending on how well I know you, you might hear some of them. But one thing I hadn’t considered in becoming an officer, nor was I prepared for in starting my career, was the way I’d have to censor my opinions.

Oh, I’d expected that when I was in uniform I’d have to put aside my personal beliefs when dealing with the public. But what about when I’m off-duty? It seems reasonable I should be able to talk to friends, neighbors and say whatever the heck I’d like, right? Hold that thought for a minute.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Don't Ask Me For Blueprints

What I'm reading: Captive of Sin, by Anna Campbell

No surprise to anyone reading this blog regularly that I'm not much of a plotter. In fact, I'm giving my "Plotting for Non-Plotters" workshop at the Emerald City Conference in a couple of weeks. Recent events made it clear I could never be an architect.

Now that the upstairs of our house is finished (although we still need some furniture), we're moving on to the basement. While the upstairs was purely cosmetic, downstairs is a conversion. The basement is technically "finished" in that it has carpet, heat and finished walls, but it's still one big space with the exception of a bathroom and laundry area. Making it into living space means more than replacing appliances, cabinets, or painting and installing new flooring.

So, we turned to an expert, an architect our contractor recommended. He showed up, we gave him our wish list, he quoted a price (ugh), and we agreed. He took some measurements and said he'd get back to us in a few days.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quick Update

Quick update - A Summer's Eve is now available at the Kindle Store. Hope you'll check it out.

Randy and Sarah are back in a previously unpublished epilogue to Hidden Fire. Cutbacks in the Pine Hills Police force have increased Randy’s workload, and he’s looking forward to getting some time off to spend with his wife. However, despite all of Randy’s detective skills, Sarah still manages to surprise him, sending their lives down a new path.

This story is connected to Finding Sarah, Hidden Fire, and Coping Mechanisms, but it stands on its own as a slice-of-life vignette.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Field Trip - Germany

My daughter spent her senior year of high school as an exchange student in Germany. She lived in a tiny village, Belrieth. The nearest 'recognizable' city was Meiningen, noted for its theater. It was an enlightening experience for both my daughter and her host family, as she was there just three years after the wall came down.

Several years later, we had the opportunity to travel to Germany with her, and she showed us some of the sights. (Note - these were taken in pre-digital days, and scanned a number of years ago. My skills with Photoshop are lacking, but I hope the images are satisfactory for computer viewing.)

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Those Pesky Overused Words

L'Shannah Tovah to those who are observing the New Year. It's 5771.

We all have crutch words--those words that seem to crop up in a manuscript, edging out other, more useful or appropriate words. Some of them seem to be the equivalent of the spoken "um" merely vamping until thoughts coagulate. I have a list, but even after I cull my known offenders, others seem to be sucked into the manuscript--after all, nature abhors a vacuum.

I've started trying to search and destroy these words as I go, checking every few chapters. Easier to cull 50 appearances of "just" now, than 500 of them later.

But sometimes, there's a word that will be repeated simply because it IS the best word, and to start substituting makes things even more awkward. A door is a door. How often do people go through portals? If it starts to sound like your digging through a Thesaurus to avoid repeating a "limited function" word, you might be better off repeating it.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Rolling With The Punches

What I'm reading: What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown

Every so often, you’re at a gathering and you mention you’re a writer. “Oh, I’ve always wanted to write a book. One of these days, when I’m not so busy, I’ll write one.”

Well, first, if you wait until you have time, you probably won’t ever write the book. Writers write because for them, it’s like breathing. Something they have to do.

But there’s the other side. Publication, and all the business angles. Nobody mentions these when you’re starting to work on the craft.

Obstacles abound. Writing the best book you can means learning a lot about the craft. Then there’s the market niche. A good book doesn’t mean it’s a marketable book. You learn that it’s almost impossible to get published by a major house unless you have an agent—they won’t even look at unagented submissions.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Magic Boomerang

Today, author Margaret Tanner visits Terry's Place. Thanks to the magic of cyber-space, she's dropping in from Down Under.

You be the judge. Do lucky charms work?

I always scoffed at magic or lucky charms. If I couldn’t see it, I didn’t believe in it. Well, that is not until I visited my Dad’s sister, a sprightly old dear in her nineties. It was the 30th anniversary of my father’s death.

After a watery, milky cup of tea and some stale cake, that Aunty said she had baked the previous day, but I think it could have been the previous week, she started telling me about the silver boomerang, which we had found many years ago amongst my late father’s war medals. (A boomerang is an Australian aboriginal hunting weapon). The boomerang bore the words “I go to return.”

It was a good luck charm, and my father apparently wore it throughout the 2nd World War. There was magic in the boomerang, the lady who had given to him was convinced of it, as was my aunt. Whether Dad believed in it or not, I have no idea. The original owner apparently survived the carnage of the 1st World War. So, did the good luck charm live up to its name the second time around?

Monday, September 06, 2010

Passing the Test

What I'm reading: Hangman, by Faye Kellerman

It's Labor Day, a holiday for those of us in the US, and I'm taking the day off from 'serious' blogging. Our plans include a drive into the Springs for an outdoor Arlo Guthrie concert with our kids. Back in the day when our daughters were dating, any serious prospects were subjected to listening to his version of The Garden Song. We have the "Precious Friends" CD, a joint concert with Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger, and the version of the Garden Song on this CD has Arlo teaching the audience the words, and having them sing along. If the boyfriends didn't join in and sing along when prompted to do so on the CD, they flunked.

(I tried to find a clip of this version, but it was recorded in 1981--too early to record and share on YouTube.)

However, this is a fun version as well, albeit far more recent.

As for writing - copyedits are done, but I'm obsessing over the back cover copy. The publisher insists that authors deal with it. A lot of you helped me choose an excerpt (thanks!) but now I'm stuck with balancing the value of an excerpt vs the value of author cover quotes--and I have a maximum of 175 words in which to do it. Readers prefer excerpts, but the book buyers (and Five Star targets the library market) want to see reviews and endorsements.

Come back tomorrow for my guest, Margaret Tanner. Her topic: The Magic Boomerang. You won't want to miss it.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Friday Field Trip - Shrooms

Hubster started photographing mushrooms a few years back. When we go out, he's always on the lookout for them. And he's trained me to watch out for them as well. Then he goes home and tries to match his pictures to the mushroom book(s). (Of course he has more than one). The names of the ones in today's Field Trip aren't guaranteed. As a matter of fact, different books give them different names, and they're not always identifiable at all. If anyone knows for sure, feel free to post them. Although some are edible, we haven't been brave enough to try. So, here are some of his fungus photos. Hope you enjoy them.


Dye Polypore

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Get Off The Page

Normally, I eschew too much self promotion. But because this is my blog and I get to make the rules, here’s a review snip from Long and Short Reviews for NOWHERE TO HIDE (But don't worry--we'll get to writing in this post. Promise.)

Terry Odell creates characters that the reader can empathize with and cheer on as they cope with overwhelming challenges. She also writes a love scene that makes one apt to agree with Colleen that “sex rocks”. Her writing style is so smooth that she seems to disappear and the characters come alive so the reader is in the moment with what is going on.

Nowhere to Hide captivates and keeps one turning pages.

But, since it wouldn’t be right to spend the whole blog talking about a nice review, let’s look at it from the author’s standpoint.

Anyone care to gander a guess at what line in the review makes me the happiest?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Copyedits and Me

What I'm reading: Sizzling Sixteen, by Janet Evanovich
Thanks again to Mark Danielson for yesterday's post and photos.

Double-duty today. I'm also over at Author Expressions, so you get two blogs for one!

Picking up from Monday’s post:

Quick recap. Some differences between submissions, first-round, and copyedits.
Once your manuscript hits the editing phase, you should be fixing things, not changing things. This isn’t the time to do your searches for overused words, or clunky construction. That should have been done before you sent the manuscript off. When your first round editor sends comments, focus on what she’s said.

What do you do if you DO find a word or phrase keeps popping up as you’re dealing with first round edits? If you’ve got an understanding editor, you can probably make the changes. But do everyone a favor, and make sure those types of problems get noted so you don’t make them again. (Although you’ll find new crutch words will replace the vacuum you’ve created.)

Your first round editor might ask for more significant changes. In When Danger Calls, I’d carefully written around a scene I didn’t want to show on the page—a combat scene, and I wasn’t sure I’d get it right, so I had written a generic “seven minutes later when the gunfire stopped” kind of transition.

Nope, my editor said. She wanted those seven minutes on the page. That required writing, not fixing.

Back to the copyediting. Here’s my process (and it’s pretty much the same for both first round and copyedits):