Thursday, May 31, 2012

There's a great writery sort of give away on Thinking Through Our Fingers.
 They're offering a four person chapter critique--which is always a great thing to have. If you have a chapter you'd like critiqued.

Heroes--the Real Memorial Day

Today is the real Memorial Day. It’s also my dad’s birthday—which is appropriate, because my dad is, in my eyes, a war hero. He was on the ship Utah in Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack of 1941. But with or without the war, my dad is still a hero.

My mom was also a veteran. She served in the WAC, the Women’s Army Corps. General Douglas MacArthur called the WACs "my best soldiers", adding that they worked harder, complained less, and were better disciplined than men. Many generals wanted more of them and proposed to draft women but it was realized that this "would provoke considerable public outcry and Congressional opposition" and the War Department declined to take such a drastic step. Those 150,000 women that did serve released the equivalent of 7 divisions of men for combat. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower said that "their contributions in efficiency, skill, spirit, and determination are immeasurable" (From Wikipedia)

I’m not my mom. Despite the similarities—the number of children we raised—our callings in church service—I am still not my mom, just like my brothers can never be my dad. The world has changed.

My mom served for a number of years as a stake relief society president. I’m also in a stake relief society presidency. Her stake extended from Everett, Washington to the Canadian border and encompassed the San Juan Island. I know this, because as the youngest child, my preschool years were full of relief society visits. I remember visits to tiny Lummi Island and the city of Bellingham. In those days before e-mail, cell phones and copy machines—life was more of a chore. Today, I can drive from one end of my stake to the other in about fifteen minutes. I can send out an e-mail to hundreds of people at a time. The ways I can serve in my calling would seem nothing short of a miracle to my mom.

My mom’s service didn’t begin or end with her church calling. My mom bottled fruit, canned vegetables and sewed her own clothes. My parent’s garden was bigger than my California back yard. My mom saved money by sewing our clothes--sewing today is more costly than a trip to Ross. Even if I wanted to, even if it made sense—I can’t pattern my life after the life my parents lived. I suspect it will be the same for my children. They’ll walk into a life that I can’t imagine. Which reminds me of one of my favorite poems.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The Prophet Khalil Gibran

My mother died nearly thirty-five years ago. She was released from her stake calling shortly after she fainted during a meeting. She’d been suffering from cancer for years in silence. Yesterday I called my dad for his birthday and spoke with my memory impaired stepmother. She told me that my dad was in the hospital. She could tell me little else, other than he wouldn’t be home any time soon.

My dad is still here, but sometimes I miss him, I miss my mom, and I miss the way of life that seemed so much simpler, and yet harder, than today.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Catfish Marketing Campaign

A friend asked me what I’ve been doing to market my books and the sad truth is—not much. I have two books out, low sales and being something of an introvert, promo is hard. The advice I’ve received is focus on writing your next book and I’ve been doing that, but to be honest, not because I think it’s the best marketing plan, but because I enjoy writing a thousand times more than I like marketing. Still, here’s some things that I’ve done so far.
I blog, obviously, and I participate in blog hops, hoping that the winners and visitors will want to read my books. This is a painless and inexpensive time and dollar-wise way to promote. Besides my actual face to face writer group friends, I also belong to several online writer groups—a few of them have more than a thousand members. I’m fairly quiet, but I read the posts daily and try to participate in helpful, meaningful ways. 
This summer, when my next two books are being edited, I’m going to try something new. I’m calling it my Catfish Marketing Campaign—thirty ways to market in thirty days.
I wrote a friend that I was going to spend the summer learning marketing and it’s about as interesting as catfish. He sent me back this great video and the advice “even catfish can be interesting.”

I learned three things from that e-mail exchange.
1.      Don, my friend, works 10-12 hours a day and makes very, very good money. He’s in software design—totally different field, but he loves it, so he invests a lot of time into it. Lesson—if I love writing, I’ll want to spend my time on it.
2.      I told him I couldn’t write for 10-12 hours a day or my brain would turn to mush. He said that in his work he “wears a lot of hats.” Lesson—I, too, can wear a lot of hats—drafting, editing, marketing, networking.
3.      If you watch the video clip, you’ll see that the fishermen get bloody and they put their head under the dirty river stream. Lesson—if I want to be successful, I have to be willing to go out of my comfort zone. I may get a little bloody and I’ll absolutely get wet.
There are still aspects of marketing that make my toes curl, but I try to spend a little time every day looking for free marketing and promotional opportunities. I treat it like a treasure hunt and I troll the internet, blogs, and social sites. And what am I looking for—other than free ways to promote? Opportunities to give and connect—to answer questions, to help , to make kind suggestions, to offer some sort of service—and every time I do that—I sign my name and put a link to my blog and my books. Because I truly believe what goes around comes around. For example, I once was asked to be a guest on a British sci-fi/fantasy blog and I thought—this isn’t my genre, no one reading this blog is going to buy my book—but that day, someone in the UK did.

Am I selling a ton? Sigh. Not yet. But I think my plan is working and even if it’s not—I’m still spending a lot of, most of my time, doing something that I love to do. And after my next two books are edited and available to the world? I’ll have four books published and at the end of every book there will be a chapter of the next upcoming book (and oh—that one is going to be sooo good) and a good book with a satisfying end and another good book with a teaser beginning—that is the very best marketing tool of all.
Stay tuned for the Catfish Marketing Campaign—coming your way in July.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Scene Chart

At nearly 60,000 words, Losing Penny is a rough first draft and a tangled mess. My personal life is much the same. To restore order to Losing Penny, I dug out a handout from a long ago UCI (University of California Irvine) novel writing class taught by Louella Nelson. The handout is called Scene Setup and Editing Chart and I’ve made forty copies—approximately one for each scene. It looks like this:

 Scene # 1 Goal: Penny’s self image problem
Opening hook: Penny trying to fit into a bridesmaid’s dress
Time: morning
Mood: frustration
Weather: cloudy
Setting: fitting room and gym
POV (point of view): Penny
POV’s goal: to lose weight
Expressed emotions:
Sensory details:
 Sight- mirrors
Sound- add sewing machines, people giggling—at gym, sounds of clanking weight machines, people grunting Smell—fabric?
sweat Taste—of last night’s cake
Touch—the feel of the dress, sweat
Characters: Penny, Rose, dressmaker
 Closing hook: Penny running

 My writing goal for today is to fill out this chart for at least three scenes of Losing Penny. For a peek at how I’m going to put a little order and sanity into my personal life, please visit my blog,

Monday, May 21, 2012

Find Out What You Already Know

Don't believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you'll see the way to fly.
Richard Bach

Finally, A GHOST OF A SECOND CHANCE is available at Barnes and Noble. (The blog hop lives on, but only for a few more hours.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Welcome to the Love in Bloom Blog Hop! I’m offering a signed copy of my novel A GHOST OF A SECOND CHANCE and this gorgeous photo album. The album looks nothing like the photo album Laine discovers in her grandfather's attic--no dust or spiderwebs--but I really like the crystal and I hope the lucky winner will, too. I debated on what to offer for a give-away. I really wanted to buy everyone apple fritters, the favorite food of my main character in A GHOST OF A SECOND CHANCE, but that sounded messy, so I’m including a recipe. If you ever feel stressed or haunted by ghosts, I hope you’ll find some comfort in a fritter.

 What do you have to do to win my book and the photo album?

 Follow my blog. 

Like my book on Amazon. Here's the link--

 Leave a comment and include contact information (so that if you win I'll know how to find you).

 And to thank you for visiting, here's the fritter recipe.


1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup finely chopped apple
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

Preparation: Sift together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add milk and egg; beat until batter is smooth. Fold in chopped apple. Drop by teaspoonfuls into deep hot oil -- about 370° and at least 2 1/2 to 3 inches deep -- and fry for about 2 to 3 minutes, until nicely browned. Drain well on paper towels then roll in confectioners' sugar while still warm. Serve as is or warm, with syrup, if desired.

When you’re finished licking your fritter sticky fingers, please visit all my blogging friends to see what prizes they’re offering.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ten Things about Today

1       1.      Page 220 of the zillion to the tenth rewrite of The Rhyme’s Library, a book I started writing about ten years ago.
2       2.      Ten days until my baby Nathan marries Shirley Tyler. I’m making boutonnieres, not today of course—the flowers would die—but I should look online for samples and ideas.
3        3.      Ten hours until dinner time, my favorite time of day spent with my family. I need to start now.
4        4.      At ten o’clock the library opens. Still too early.
5        5.      I need to make five times ten cupcakes for the stake women’s conference on Thursday—two days      away. That will have to be done tomorrow, at the earliest.
6        6.      Grendal has more than ten burrs in her fur from her latest canyon walk.
7        7.      Ten minutes to mop the laundry room floor.
8        8.      Ten minutes to check e-mail.
9        9.      Ten friends on facebook.
1      10.  Ten ways to procrastinate editing the zillion to the tenth rewrite of The Rhyme’s Library. Sigh.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Party Going On--Somewhere Else

This weekend was youth conference—a mixing and mingling of about 400 local kids ages 14-18 from our church. My girls didn’t go. Actually, they did go Thursday night, but come Friday noon when everyone else took off for a desert trek, my girls stayed in school. They have AP finals next week and study review sessions planned. Saturday morning while 400 of their friends were partying, my girls took the SAT. This was their choice. They had signed up months before and they have a schedule of the first test, the second test, etc. (My girls are brainiacs and I love this, and so many other things, about them).

That evening, our family went to see Miss Saigon. We had bought the tickets months ago, long before we knew when youth conference was scheduled and given they were missing everything else, we went ahead and went to the play—excited because we knew it had the same producers and composers as Les Miserables—a family favorite.

And we could see the similarities between the two musicals. Both started in raunchiness—Master of the House and whatever they call the lewd opening number of Miss S—both had a Fagin type character, driven by greed—both had a poor girl who dies in the arms of the hero. I liked the ninjas, the acrobats, some of the music, and the helicopter was really cool, but it was a very sexy and sad story with the overwhelming theme of keep your pants zipped… an important message, but hardly relevant to my girls. I’m so sad they missed youth conference.

Last night they were going to spend the night at the host home, but by the time we got home all the other girls (probably exhausted from dancing and partying) were asleep. They left early this morning to attend church, the culminating event of the weekend party. That they missed.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Research and Good Friends

Since learning that most of my blog reading friends are Russian, I’ve decided to cut down on my actual (English) words and post some pictures. I took these on my last Seattle trip. In theory, I was researching my novel A Ghost of a Second Chance, but in reality, I love architecture, funky houses and over the top Victorianbilia and since the Pacific Northwest is the perfect place (in oh so many ways) to find that sort of thing, I had a great time walking around and making use of my camera.

I’m thinking of using the first picture for the cover of my novel The Rhyme’s Library (coming to the world this summer). I took the following pictures in the University district. Two are from the University of Washington’s library, where Laine, the heroine of A Ghost of Second Chance, goes to research ghosts and paranormal activity. I took the last two on Queen Anne’s Hill, where Laine, Ian and Grandpa Sid lived and where I set the fictional street of Lilac Hill in my novel Stealing Mercy.

Spending a day researching and placing my fictional friends in these very real places is like spending a day in the company of very good friends.