Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Real Men Wear Kilts

Today, I'm welcoming author Lillian Stewart Carl to Terry's Place. You can not only tell by Lillian’s red hair and newt-like complexion that she’s a descendent of Scots, you can tell by her ears, which appreciate bagpipes, her tongue, which appreciates haggis, and her eyes, which appreciate men in kilts. Since she also inherited the Celtic gift of gab, she writes about kilts, too.

No, a man wearing a kilt is not wearing a skirt. Some men will loudly say so, because, after all, to accuse another man of being feminine is a horrible insult. But these jokers are both culturally dyslexic and jealous. Women flock to the male of the Scottish species in his colorful plumage.

Of all the jokes about kilts, my favorite is: What’s worn beneath the kilt? Nothing. It’s all in fine working order!

Yes, traditionally the kilted Scot wore no undergarments. “Going commando” is what it’s called today. No, it’s not required.

The original Highlander started out with a knee-length shirt, then wound yard after yard of wool cloth around his body and draped the end over his shoulder. Since he spent days clambering up and down icy rock- and heather-strewn slopes, it was helpful having clothing, blanket, and pup-tent in one package.

The bulkiness of the “great kilt” was why Scots warriors would wear only their shirts when charging down on an enemy. They didn’t paint themselves blue, although all those newt-like complexions no doubt turned blue from the cold.

Monday, May 30, 2011

e-Publishing "Dangers"

What I'm reading: Live Wire, by Harlan Coben.

First: A very Big Thank You to those who have served to protect our country.

Next: Tomorrow is the last day for my May contest, given the dearth of entries, it's likely to be the last contest I run here for a while. Click the contest tab to enter.

And, lastly, Blogger's comment feature is acting up. I'm switching to the pop up window option to see if that helps.

When I started writing, my first publications were with e-publishers, so I've certainly been aware of the digital market from its infancy. I have several titles from my back list that I decided to publish independently, but I recently decided that I would bypass a publisher for my next book. It wasn't an easy decision, but I thought I'd share some of my reasoning, as well as the pros, cons, and potential pitfalls.

First: I'd hoped to add two more of my back list titles, but I have yet to get the official reversion of rights from that publisher, so they've been relegated to the back burner.

Second: my two short stories aren't due out in an anthology until August, and based on what I've seen with that publisher, it's not a firm release by any means.

Third: I'd already written the fourth book in my Blackthorne, Inc. series, and had to decide if I should submit it to the publisher.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Half Price Books

A great time to stock up on books -- as long as you pay with a credit card or paypal, you'll get a 50% rebate on all purchases from All Romance eBooks. And, I've got a brand new Blackthorne, Inc. book that just went live. It's discounted, and I've also put When Danger Calls on sale for 99 cents. Details about it Monday, but meanwhile, you can check out DANGER IN DEER RIDGE here.

And The Winner Is ...

The winner of Sarah Grimmm's book, NOT WITHOUT RISK, is ... KAREN!

Karen, email Sarah at Sarah (at) Sarahgrimm (dot) com to arrange to get your prize. Thanks to all who entered.

And don't forget, I'm running my monthly contest, and there are only a few days left to enter. Click the contest tab above for details.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Field Trip: Mollie Kathleen 1

Hubster and I went to Cripple Creek for an overnight on Tuesday. The weather was NOT conducive to picture taking. I'm talking snow, cold, and gloomy skies. But on Wednesday, things were better, and on our drive home, we stopped to tour the Mollie Kathleen mine. The tour takes you down 1000 feet. This week, we'll look at what it was like down there, and next week, I'll share some of the pictures from up top.

There were 5 of us plus a guide on the tour. We barely squeezed into a cage that was supposed to hold 8 miners for the descent to 1000 feet. Those guys must have been small. Small wonder they posted this sign at the top:

Down below, we were given demonstrations of tools and mining methods, and how they progressed with time. The tunnels were dimly lit, but our guide would show us the reality by turning of the "tourist" lighting, leaving us to see what the miners had to deal with. Between the dark and the noise of the jackhammers and drills, working conditions would hardly pass today's standards. (They used to use burros to do the work, and they lived their entire lives in the mine until regulations said they had to be brought topside once a day. The cost was prohibitive, so they simply brought them up and released them, leaving men to do what the burros had done. They had a car loaded with its "normal" load of a ton of ore. A burro could pull 2. Neither of the men brave enough to try could move it more than a few inches.

So -- these are some views from inside the mine:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Grand Openings

There are only a few days left to sign up for my Dialogue Basics workshop at the Savvy Authors site. Link in the sidebar. And if you read yesterday's post on basic html, there was an error, which I corrected, so if you read it early in the day, you should go back and note the changes. And don't forget, Tuesday's guest, Sarah Grimm, is giving away a book to a commenter. Scroll down and leave a comment under her post.

This past Sunday, I drove "all the way down the mountain" to Colorado Springs to hear literary agent Rachelle Gardner speak on openings. I'm going to hit some of the high points in this post.

Since I'm starting a new book, I'm facing that dilemma, and it doesn't get any easier. And, since Hubster read the first scene of my efforts and said, "I don't like the first line," I figured it couldn't hurt to have a 'refresher' course in what an opening should do.

Rachelle spoke as an agent, but we also discussed things from a reader's point of view. If you're submitting, that opening has to attract an agent's attention. If you're published, you're convincing the reader to buy your book, and not one of the other kazillion on the shelf.

She gave us some excellent reasons why openings are so hard to write. The first, that as the author, you've probably got an emotional attachment to your opening scene because you've envisioned it for days, weeks, months or years. But it might not be the best way into your story.

Or, you don't really now where they story begins.

Or, you don't have a true feel for the theme or premise until you've finished the book.

(For the record, the second one fits me best.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Some VERY basic HTML

NOTE: Thanks to an observant reader, there's an error in the link coding html--my fault entirely, for being in a rush, and also trying to avoid Blogger actually 'reading' the html. I've made the corrections in RED below.

Thanks to Sarah Grimm for her post. Author Meg Chittenden once said writers are lucky because we hear voices in our heads but don't get locked up in rubber rooms. Hubster and I are at Cripple Creek most of today, so I won't be around to respond to comments as often as I'd like to. But don't let that stop you from leaving them, or sharing this post if it's at all helpful.

Back when I started my first personal website—back in the day when it was a cool thing to play with because your internet provider offered a certain amount of "free" space along with your account—I tried to figure out what the heck I was doing. I even bought a book about HTML, not that I understood it. (HTML 3 if that says anything about how long ago it was.)

Image copyright John C. Dvorak (And no, it's not real. It's a setup)

Now, most simple interfaces include automatic formatting codes, but there are a few commands I still use when you can't just highlight a word and click something that will insert the code for you. The main places I use them is when I leave blog comments, or am creating hyperlinks on my own blog. They also help me understand and find code when I'm trying to figure out why my blog or web page doesn't look right.

First, the bare bones. You signal whatever cyberspace magicians by inserting codes between < and > marks. Then you tell it to stop with a "/" symbol before the letter between the < and > marks

Okay, here's where it's going to get a little confusing, because Blogger insists that my examples are actually real HTML code. So, from here on out, I'm going to use "[" to represent "<" and "]" to represent ">".

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Voices in my Head

Today, I'm turning Terry's Place over to author Sarah Grimm. Hubster and I are off to Cripple Creek for a couple of days, but I know you're in good hands here today.

Sarah Grimm, writes romantic suspense and contemporary romance for The Wild Rose Press. As a young girl, Sarah always had a story to tell. At times they were funny, other times scary, but they were always happily-ever-after. Sarah is here today to tell us a little bit about the voices in her head.

Leave a comment today and Sarah will award one of you an electronic copy of her LASR Best Book of 2010 nominated romantic suspense, NOT WITHOUT RISK.

**Note: Blogger is having trouble accepting comments today--mine included--unless you log in with the name/url option. (The URL is optional). And we'll be accepting comments until Friday, with the winner announced this weekend, so if you're having problems, come back to this post and try again another time.

As an author I get asked all the time how I come up with my stories. This is a great question and applies to all creative people. How do we do what we do? For me, it has to do with the voices in my head. Yes, you read it correctly, the voices in my head. No, these voices don’t tell me to do things like hurt people. If they did, I’d have myself committed.

So what do I mean by the voices in my head? Simply this; at all times, in all situations, there is a character in my head talking to me, or more accurately, talking to another character. Sounds insane, I know, but it’s true.

Monday, May 23, 2011


What I'm reading: Sixkill, by Robert B. Parker

During our renovations and remodels, we found ourselves compromising on a lot of issues. Sometimes it was a matter of money—deciding what things we were willing to cut from our dream plan, and where we were willing to shell out the extra cash. We decided to go with underfloor heating in the bathrooms. However, a custom job, with the heat mat made to order for the bathroom was prohibitively costly compared with the off the shelf versions. The compromise meant we were restricted to the sizes the mats came in; we couldn't get the heat mat under the tile of the entire bathroom, leaving a few areas where the tiles remain cold. But having that extra course of tiles heated wasn't worth the price differential. It was easier to learn to take a bigger step into the hall bath if you were barefoot, avoiding the first row of tiles.

Another compromise – we had a lot more room in our former house. Finding places for things that went into our wall units and china cabinet meant more furniture. We ended up with a large curio cabinet in the living area. However, it doesn't have any interior lighting, so as far as displaying treasures goes, it's not really the perfect system. We ordered two more bookcases for the downstairs, but when they arrived, we realized that one was a shade too tall for where we wanted to put it. (Never thought about the bulkhead ceiling on that side of the room, or how tall the bookcases would be.) So, we found another spot for the second unit, which ate up several feet of wall space, meaning when we get furniture for the room, we're going to be limited in what will fit where.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Field Trip: Columbia Gorge and the Oregon Coast

Guess who's back? Right. Jason Odell. He's been traveling, which means ... you guessed it ... pictures. And, as always, click to enlarge. Welcome, Jason.

For the past five years, I've co-hosted a photography podcast on iTunes, called The Image Doctors. Each year, we lead a "photo safari" to a fun location. This year, we chose to photograph in Oregon; specifically the Columbia River Gorge and the central coast near Newport. Not only does Oregon offer breathtaking scenery, but it's also the home of good microbrew and amazing cheese and ice cream (we do plan our trips around local cuisine, when possible). These photos represent a sample of the kinds of photographs you can make there, provided you have a tripod for your camera.

The Columbia River Gorge parallels Interstate 84, and it is absolutely full of spectacular waterfalls. If you go, an overcast day is best. Avoid the weekends because the crowds get thick and it can be tough to park. Midweek, you can just about have the whole place to yourself. After we photographed in the Gorge, we relocated from Portland to the town of Newport. There are lots of great little seaside towns, but here was a spot that gave us access to a variety of locations within a two-hour drive. Newport is also home to the Rogue brewing company; a mandatory stop if you like microbrews. We photographed the lighthouses at Yaquina Head, Cape Meares, and Heceta Head. At sunset, we shot in spots like Seal Rock and along the beach in the town of Oceanside, near Tillamook. At Tillamook, we stopped in to the Tillamook Cheese factory for cheese samples and homemade ice cream.

Multnomah Falls (Columbia Gorge, near Portland)

Newport Harbor (Yaquina Bay)

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Not Your Usual Interview Questions

Today, I'm over at Tartan, Ink., a new blog by authors Sue-Ellen Welfonder and Karen Ranney. They invited me to answer some very different interview questions--the sort that make you think. I hope you'll zip over there and see my answers. And it's a fun blog. Leave a comment over there so I don't feel too lonely.

And if reading interview questions isn't your thing, you can stay here and enter my contest, or find something in the "Deals and Steals" page.

And because I feel guilty not posting anything here, even though I'm somewhere else at the same time, here's an excerpt from my 3rd Blackthorne, Inc. book, ROOTED IN DANGER. This snippet features Torie, the heroine, meeting Fozzie, the hero, for the first time.

In the stronger light of the kitchen, she got her first close look at the man. There was something disturbingly familiar about him. She tried to imagine what he’d look like dry, with his dripping wet tendrils of hair restored to their normal state. He stood there, waiting, his questioning brown eyes peeking from under bushy eyebrows.

Her grip on the gun tightened and she wrenched it free. “You! What’s the deal? My father’s double-teaming me now? Sends Mr. Nasty to scare me, and then you’re supposed to come to my rescue? Is that it? How dare he? How dare you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I never saw that bloke before. I told you, my car broke down. Have a heart. It’s bloody cold and wet out there. You wouldn’t want me to catch my death, would you?” One corner of his mouth turned up.

“Why should I care?” she shouted. Leftover grief, full-blown fury, or demonic possession, she couldn’t tell. But, totally out of control, she swung the gun at his head.

That book won't come out until next April, so how about a peek at Fozzie in a scene from my new release, WHERE DANGER HIDES. Here, Dalton's the hero, and Fozzie is still in 'secondary character' status I hope you can see why I thought he needed his own book.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Release Day

What I'm reading: Once a Cowboy, by Linda Warren; Night Magic, by Jennifer Lyon

Thanks to Kathryn Scannell for her fascinating and informative post yesterday. And don’t forget the big Smashwords sale from Backlist eBook authors. Details in the Deals and Steals tab. I'm also over at The Blood Red Pencil today, talking about "R.U.E."

Onto the fireworks – well, more or less. Today is the official release day for WHERE DANGER HIDES, the second book in my Blackthorne, Inc. series. This means that the publisher will begin filling orders. If you ordered the book from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, the books have to arrive there from the publisher, and then they’ll go out to you. The projected “real” release date is closer to June 8th.

The publisher targets the library market, and I’m a firm believer in libraries. I know that the hard cover price of the book might be a bit steep for some in today’s economy, so another way to help out is to request the book from your own library system. The information they’re likely to ask for:

Title: Where Danger Hides
Author: Terry Odell
Publisher: Five Star / Gale Cengage
ISBN 10: 1432825127
ISBN 13: 978-1432825126

What else can you do? If you have an Amazon account, log in and go to the book’s page:

Click the “like” button near the top, and/or scroll down to the product tags and click the boxes. Doesn’t cost you anything, and helps the ranking, which can help sales.

Of course, if you want to buy the book, that’s fine with me, too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Inside Environmental Emergency Response

My guest, Kathryn Scannell, writes fantasy and erotic romance. Like most writers, she still has a day job, which involves working for an environmental response contractor. Today she’s sharing a little of what it’s like to be part of the official response to an environmental disaster.

We’ve all seen environmental disasters on the news in recent years. The Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf last summer got a lot of coverage. Most of that coverage is focused on pictures of the disaster, with a few pictures of people in tyvek suits to spice it up. There’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes.

As an example, let’s look at a smaller incident, which I had some involvement with last summer. At the end of July, there was a major oil spill in the little town of Marshall, Michigan. An underground pipeline delivering oil from Canada to a refinery in the US ruptured one night, releasing oil into the ground. It rapidly found its way to a nearby creek and from there into the Kalamazoo River. The rupture was not immediately discovered, and by the time the problem was understood and it was shut down, and EPA estimates that 819,000 gallons of oil were released. This is a tiny fraction compared to the gulf, but to the people of Marshall if was a disaster. The EPA has a web page with the background, and many pictures for anyone who would like to know more : http://www.epa.gov/enbridgespill/

Response was immediate. Residents in nearby homes were evacuated because oil fumes contain cancer causing chemicals, notably benzene, and there was concern that they were present at levels which would be a health risk. EPA response contractors and responders from Enbridge Oil, which owned the pipeline, converged on the site within hours. At first the response ran around the clock, with people working 12 hours shifts. This continued for roughly a month, until a significant fraction of the spilled oil had been recovered using floating booms, giant vacuum trucks, and excavation equipment to remove contaminated soil. Air monitoring went on around the clock too, to determine if it was safe to allow people to return to their homes.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dialogue: Who’s Talking Now?

What I’m reading: Three Stations, by Martin Cruz Smith; Thrilled to Death, by L.J. Sellers.

First: Thanks to all who bought copies of WHATS IN A NAME? I’ve made my donation to my daughter’s fund-raising efforts for Team in Training.

Next: Check the “Deals and Steals” tab – Smashwords has a big sale featuring members of the Backlist eBooks group, and I’m pleased to be among them. Some of these authors are multi-award winners, and best selling authors, so even if you’re not looking for one of my books, there are some fantastic books out there.

And thanks to Mason Canyon at Thoughts in Progress for her review of WHERE DANGER HIDES.

As I write this, last Thursday still doesn’t exist according to Blogger. Maybe they’ll find my post, or maybe I’ll repost it another day.

I’m going to be leading a workshop—I hesitate to say “teaching” since I’d like it to include input from the participants—on dialogue basics for Savvy Authors. It starts on May 30th and will run through June 27th. There’s a sign up link in the sidebar.

Here's a secret – handling dialogue almost stopped me from becoming a writer. But wait, you're saying. Didn't you just say dialogue came easy?

Hearing dialogue was easy. Thinking dialogue was easy. But when I sat down to try to write a story that had been rolling around in my head, I found that typing dialogue was a royal pain. There were rules. Where did the punctuation go? I got so bogged down in remembering that you needed a comma and quote marks before the tag (not that I knew it was called a tag then), that I couldn't write the story. All that "shift" key stuff made writing a chore. The stories could stay in my head, where there wasn't anything complicated to remember.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

And the Winners Are

Kris Bock has picked her winners. Her message:

Thanks to everyone who commented! For more on the writing journey, please stop by my Write Like a Pro! blog:

Jemi Fraser wins an e-copy of RATTLED and Rosi wins an e-copy of THE EYES OF THE PHAROAH. You can contact me through my web site (www.krisbock.com or www.chriseboch.com) to make arrangements.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Field Trip: Mueller State Park

Blogger was 'out of order' for a while, so I couldn't get this post up. Actually, I'm not even sure it will post now, but these are pictures of last week's trip to Mueller State Park.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Editing: It's About the Big Picture, Too.

Don't forget, you have until Friday to leave a comment on Kris Bock's post and be entered in the drawing for her books, so scroll down. Also, in conjunction with my generous donor of copies of What's in a Name? I'm extending my donation until Sunday, so there's still time to help cancer research. Buy links here.

Late Tuesday afternoon, I got my first round edits from my new Five Star editor, for ROOTED IN DANGER, my 3rd Blackthorne, Inc. novel. So, it’s back to editing. And back to Track Changes.
First step was to go through all the ‘insertion/deletion’ points, which were virtually all things like punctuation. I did notice that she’s a ‘sparing use of comma’ person, whereas I tend to use them more liberally. Those are easy enough to accept.

Then I read through her comments and dealt with the easy ones first. I like her eye—she pointed out several places where I’d used the same word more than once in a brief passage, or was inconsistent with usage, such as having both R&R and R and R in the manuscript.

My heroine came from money, and I’d referenced the “Society Pages” in the manuscript. My editor questioned their existence, and I had to stop and poke around a bit, to see if newspapers still reported on the social scene. They do, but it meant a bit of tweaking to get the wording more up to date.

In several places, she thought a word or phrase I’d chosen didn’t suit the character or situation, but she merely pointed that out, and didn’t suggest more appropriate wording.

Counting Down to Release Day

Thanks to Chris for yesterday's post. I think any writer here will agree that it's something we love, and we need to remember that. And don't forget, you have until Friday to leave a comment and be entered in the drawing for her books, so scroll down to her post.

Also, in conjunction with my generous donor of copies of What's in a Name? I'm extending my donation until Sunday, so there's still time to help cancer research. Buy links here.

The "official" release day for WHERE DANGER HIDES is May 18th, one week from today. What this means for me is that the publisher will start filling orders. Most go to libraries, but there will be some stock sent to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, based on pre-orders. Since my book isn't going to hit the shelves of your local bookstores, it's not like I'll be able to drop into any local stores and see it on the shelf.

But, if you do like to buy books "in person" rather than on line, you can go to the customer service desk and request it. If you're a library user, and I'm sure most of us are, then the best thing you can do is ask your library if they have the book in their collection, and if not, you can request they order it.

So, what do I have for you as part of the countdown celebration? How about a look back to the very beginning of the book. I don't plot much, but as I play with ideas about the book, I'll jot things down in a disjointed document. Digging back through my files, I have one for this book called, "Brainstorming." Because this was a book connected to another, there were some things that were already established. Dalton appears in When Danger Calls, but he wasn't fully fleshed out (I didn't know his first name in that one), and since I didn't know he was going to demand his own book, I didn't bother with too many details. At this phase, I do try to consider the all-important GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict, so I'll list some of those possibilities as well.

You're now invited to step inside my head and see where the book began. And, of course, if you want to see how much of this actually ended up in the book, you know where to go to find out.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Love of Writing

Today, my guest is Kris Bock, who writes romantic suspense with Southwestern landscapes and outdoor adventures. As Chris Eboch, she writes children’s books, include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery set in ancient Egypt; and The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan historical adventure. Here she discusses what it really means to be a full-time professional writer.

Leave a comment today and Kris will pick one lucky person to win an electronic copy of RATTLED (your choice of PDF or e-book file) and another person to win an electronic copy of her children's mystery THE EYES OF PHARAOH. Note in your comment which you would prefer.

And while Kris is here, I'm over at Savvy Authors talking about my upcoming workshop on dialogue.

Welcome, Kris.

People who are not writers may have the idea that writers spend most of their time writing. I suppose some lucky ones do. But I realized at the end of March that I hadn’t been working on a new novel for three months. In December, January, and February, I had edited two novels, published two books, started publicizing those books, written a few articles, done dozens of critiques, taught two four-week classes, and attended two conferences. I had been as busy as ever in my life, but I hadn’t been writing new work.

Publicity is important—if people don’t read my books, I won’t sell enough to be able to keep writing them. But if I don’t create new books, I won’t have anything to promote. All those other writing-related jobs are important too—teaching, paid critiques, writing articles—because some (most) years they pay more of the bills than novel sales do. I do enjoy helping other people get closer to publication, too.

But I don’t want to be a teacher first. I want to be a writer first. That means finding the time to write.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Rule of Three

NOTE: all copies have been claimed. But don't stop -- there's a lot about the Rule of Three below.

Yesterday's post mentioned my donating a percentage of my sales to Team In Training to honor mothers and my daughter's efforts (and she's training for an ironman, so her efforts are considerably more than simply asking for donations!) to help raise money for blood cancer research.

One reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, bought 20 copies of What's in a Name? She kept one for herself, but asked that I donate the rest.

If you'd like a copy of this e-book, simply email me, with What's in a Name Giveaway in the subject line, and tell me what format you'd like. If you have a Kindle, I will gift you a copy. If you prefer to shop via Smashwords, I'll give you a free coupon. If you want an e-pub format, I can send one your way.

First nineteen responders will get the book. As for writing. I've started another manuscript. In anticipation of getting rights back to two of my books, I've decided to write a third. There's something about the 'rule of three' that seems ingrained in us as human beings, from Three Little Pigs, the Three Stooges, to the Third Time's the Charm. (Did you notice the use of three examples?)

Repetition helps readers remember. Things presented in threes just seem to stick with us: Faith, Hope. and Charity. Winken, Blinken, and Nod. Blood, Sweat and Tears. Stop, Look and Listen. Stop, Drop and Roll. How many more can you name? Dozens, at least, I'm sure.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day - Help a good cause

Yesterday, WHAT'S IN A NAME? was a featured book at the Kindle Nation Daily. My daughter is a triathlete who coaches and is training for an ironman to raise money for Team in Training, which gives money to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to help beat cancer. If you want to pitch in, I'm donating 10% of today's sales of WHAT'S IN A NAME?

You can buy it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, or All Romance eBooks.

It's a good cause, and you get to read a good book.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Friday Field Trip - Another Cover Quest

(In addition to my usual Friday Field Trip, it's my day over at Author Expressions, where I'm doing a little happy dancing about WHERE DANGER HIDES)

I've been working on a new Blackthorne, Inc. book, and with the release date of WHERE DANGER HIDES rapidly approaching, I'm thinking seriously about releasing my indie-published version some time soon as well. My rationale? WHERE DANGER HIDES is hard cover only. There are a lot of people who won't/can't fork over that kind of money, so I thought I could give them an option. But when you're going "indie" you don't have an art department designing your cover.

The new book is DANGER IN DEER RIDGE and it takes place virtually in my own back yard. So, step one in the cover process, just as it was for FINDING SARAH, was to see if I had any images that might lend themselves to the book. Saves paying for them! I leave it to the cover designer to pick the best bits and pieces and turn them into a cover.

So, today's trip is slightly farther afield than last week, but we're still in the Colorado Mountains.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Teller County Ride Along 2

If you haven't read yesterday's post, which is Part 1, scroll down. I'll wait.

One observation I forgot to stick in with traffic stops yesterday. The deputies have radar gizmos that they can point either in front or behind their vehicles, so they know how fast other cars are going. In most cases, it was a car going the other direction, which meant turning around to go after them. Now, we're riding on two lane mountain roads, and in a Ford Expedition, you're not going to be hanging any quick U-turns! Deputy Kennedy was adroit at 3 point turns, but now that he's assigned to that F-150, it'll take a bit more maneuvering for that pursuit.

Our day was quiet, which is a good thing, although I can understand the cops wanting a little more action. However, it gave me plenty of time to ask questions, and he was very good about answering them. He's part of the Emergency Response Team (think SWAT) and they practice 6 hours twice a month on top of their duties. Plus he does another practice as a patrol office, so skills are kept honed. Deputies work 4 days one week, then 5 the next. Shifts are about 11 hours each.

Most of his calls are either DUI or domestic violence. He says they might get one homicide a year in the county. They also respond to fire scenes. There's not much in the way of major drug problems like meth. It dropped down to almost zilch with the advent of medical marijuana.

Because things were quiet on the road, we stopped back at the office to check for "papers" to serve. (Not warrants; those are never done solo). When we got there, a woman was waiting to file a trespassing complaint, so Deputy Kennedy took her report. I was impressed by his patience and understanding attitude, and that he let her tell her entire story, which started 10 years ago. I'm not sure I have that kind of patience! But listening to him—more like watching him listen to her—is something that can be used as what I consider "flavor." Little details, things mentioned in passing, getting the terminology right.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Teller County Ride Along 1

What I'm reading: Secrets to Die For, by L.J. Sellers, Seize the Fire, by Laura Kinsale

Thanks so much to Helen for her fascinating post about literary salons. I'm sure everyone enjoyed that quick trip across the pond.

As promised, a recap of my ride along with a Teller County deputy. It's a long post, so it'll be spread over 2 days.

I chose the noon shift, since I didn't particularly want to be riding around in the dark. I arrived bearing the cookies I'd baked the day before. The clerk at the desk took them back to the deputies, and said they were pounced upon. I waited a few minutes, and Deputy Kennedy came for me. He gave me a quick tour of the building, and introduced me all around. I met the only Hawaiian deputy in Teller county. Deputy Kennedy introduced me as his "rider" although it took a while for it to register that he wasn't saying "writer."

Dispatch was "manned" by two women, one of whom was being trained. Everything goes through there. It was a far cry from the bustle of the Orlando Command Center I toured as part of their Civilian Police Academy, but the job they do is the same.

The interrogation room is much more "comfortable" than the one in Orlando. This one had a round table, chair, and even a small sofa. There was a camera in the ceiling, and the deputies could monitor questioning from their office. In Orlando, the room I looked at was sterile, with a small table bolted to the wall, 2 chairs, and no camera. If they wanted to video something, they brought in a human with a camera.

We headed out in a marked Ford Expedition, the typical patrol "car" up here. (I know the picture is a Ford F-150. The vehicle Deputy Kennedy normally used was in the shop, and he'd been rotating to a different car every shift. At the end of the day, he was assigned the truck as his 'new' regular vehicle. Since the rules said no pictures on the ride along, I took this one the next day when he stopped by.)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

London Literary Salons

Today I'm pleased to welcome author Helen Smith to Terry's Place. Helen is a novelist and playwright who lives in London. She loves going to literary salons.

There have always been literary events of some kind or another in London, where I live. On any given night I know I can be sure of getting a live literature fix, whether it’s from a poetry reading, a slam poetry event, a spoken word performance, a book signing, an author Q&A – there’s a huge variety of events in formats to suit all tastes, from conventional to quirky, from high-brow to low-brow, from brilliant to hit-and-miss.

Just lately London has seen the resurgence of the literary salon. Say the words and I see silk turbans and peacock feathers, I see bustles, fans and piano fortes: I remember reading as a child about the literary salons of the nineteenth century in England: they were a way for society hostesses to show off fashionable novelists, essayists and poets to admiring guests. Careers could be made at these events, patrons snapped up, and literary heroes assessed and admired, or dismissed. The only problem with any of this was that you had to be well-connected in order to secure an invitation. If the modern day counterparts were to be run along the same lines, I couldn’t hope to attend to mingle with today’s literary giants.

Fortunately the new literary salons are egalitarian events, hosted by writers rather than social-climbing heiresses. The hosts take their duties seriously: the primary aim is to entertain the audience by showcasing talent as selected writers talk about and read from their books, and great care are is taken to create an intimate, friendly atmosphere. Though the writers will need to be able to perform in order to engage the audience, it isn’t quite a ‘show, and though it’s a lot of fun, it isn’t quite a party. Perhaps most importantly, the successful event feels less like a promotion than a conversation.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Deep Point of View

What I'm reading: Shiver of Fear, by Roxanne St. Claire.

First: I got my box of author copies of Where Danger Hides. That's always exciting. Next: it's May, and I've got a new contest. Check the tab above. I've also got some new entries on my website, including a "from the cutting room floor" scene from Where Danger Hides, as well as a peek behind the scenes at the way the book started.

Last week, there was a lot of discussion about using deep point of view to tell a story. I thought I'd give a brief recap/explanation of the terminology, especially since I'm judging a contest for unpublished writers, and point of view, deep or otherwise, seems to be a problem for some.

Author Suzanne Brockmann uses the term "deep POV" and it seems accepted in the romance community, although it might not be an "official" definition. But, as some commenters pointed out last week, it sounds a lot like 1st person.

And yes, that's exactly what it is. When I write I want to be in the POV character's head to the point where I could substitute "I" for each use of "He" or the character's name. But writing in 3rd person POV gives the author the ability to have more than one POV character (although it's not required). There are authors who use first person for their main protagonist, and third for other characters, and it can work. There are authors who have used multiple first person POV characters. But traditionally in romance, there are two equally important characters: the hero and the heroine, and both will be POV characters. Not to say you can't have more. Suzanne Brockmann uses half a dozen or so in her books, and writes in deep POV for all of them.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

And the Winners Are ...

Congratulations to the winner of my April Grab Bag Contest, LOUISE. A big envelope of goodies will be headed your way.

And the winner of my "Mystery" book from last Wednesday's post is ... BRUCE. Bruce, email me with your address so I can send your prize.

Because so many wanted to know more about the book in question: it's "The Switch" by Sandra Brown. For the record, the fact that I used the book as an example of an exercise in point of view shouldn't be construed as a plug for the book. Regular readers here know I keep my opinions off the blog, so whether or not you (or I) think it's a good read wasn't the point. It was mentioned merely as lesson in POV.