Monday, November 17, 2014

A Worry of Bloggers (and other Assorted Madness)

So you know about Misattributing, right?


See, it's my superpower. I can hear what YOU say and give it a new context so it means something different (usually dirty and I wouldn't bother if the new thing wasn't funny)

So last weekend I was reading a link to a blog post and it began, “A worry of bloggers is...”

And I just stopped reading. I would SO MUCH rather think that bloggers, collectively, can be called a worry and that this worry is doing something COOL than to have yet another thing to worry about... So I have dibbed it so. We, COLLECTIVELY, are now a Worry.

My buddy Joris did these
There is precedence, you know...

A flamboyance of flamingos?

A murder of crows?

These names are OBVIOUSLY the result of somebody having way too much fun.

What about An Anxiety of Authors?
A Rascal of Writers?
A Significance of Statisticians?

Go ahead. You try it!
See--aren't these great? He's a talented guy.

In Other News...

Still WriMoing. My sad news of last week gave me some slow days in there when the muse really just wanted to be mopey, but I still wrote at least a little every day, and my super start padded the down time. I have confidence that at some point this week I will pass the mark where I only need to do less than a thousand words a day to make it.

I am experimenting with this one. It is the first true mystery I've done where I am including multiple PoV including the person(s) who dunnit... I'm not sure whether I like it or not, or whether it takes the whole MYSTERY out of the mystery... U is for Undertow (Sue Grafton) did it and I liked the effect, but it may be I need to do something different on the rewrite. Even if I do though, I feel like I understand my killer better this time than I have. I think it will prove a useful exercise even if it DOES get dropped.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 (she is 5'8")
And TOMORROW, my baby boy turns 16. Poor kid has finals Wednesday and Thursday, so it is lousy timing (his high school is on trimesters). Measured him Friday—he is 6'6” tall. He has a driver's permit and has to fold himself into our car—it's not like my husband and I are tiny people, but 5 inches is a pretty big deal.

I have a swamped week at work with deadlines Thursday and Friday, so this will be the only blog, but hopefully once I am past that, I can get back to a little more.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Lonnie Lindquist: A Heartbroken Tribute

A light went out this week. I hope my writing followers will excuse this personal sidebar, as writing is how I process and this seems to be all that has been on my mind for a couple days.

A recent pic, stolen from Facebook

I hadn't seen Lonnie since we graduated high school a thousand years ago (he only attended one reunion--sadly, the one I missed), but he was my friend when I was only first beginning to understand who I was or what I wanted. I had a giant crush on him for a while there, when I was about 12, and while he wasn't my first kiss, he was the first boy I kissed and really meant it. (one-way, most assuredly—he liked me only as a friend—that is how those things went for me in the early teens)

You see, back before all the girls started dating older boys, back when even talking to a boy made me blush—clear back to Junior High, my group of girlfriends had a group of boys we did things with. I can credit Kim, I'm sure, my friend who was born with social skills from here to the moon. She knew how to talk BACK, so the boys came around in spite of my sputtering and gawking.

Lonnie moved back to Moscow after some time away when I was in 7th grade. He had straight teeth, the thickest hair you ever saw, and big blue eyes that always had a spark of mischief. More importantly, he had an easy social friendliness—teasing some, but in a nice way—that made him less intimidating than a lot of the other boys.

Excuse the quality of these old pics...
The boys had gone to a different elementary, but lived close to our neighborhood. I lived immediately next to the Junior High, so my house became the gathering spot. At lunch, after school—when I had a slumber party, those boys snuck over MANY times. They played pranks on us (more on this in a minute) or goofed around... teenaged boys and girls being teenaged boys and girls.

Lonnie and I had an odd bond, too. Both of us had lost our dads to accidents in relatively recent years and had young, pretty moms doing the best they could. We never actually talked about it, but I always felt a little more understood by him than by my friends with big “whole” families.

His house was only a few blocks from mine and was on the way to my best friend Shannon's, so during that crush era, I had a good excuse to walk by a lot—which mostly just forged a friendship with his younger brother, but did show my dedication.

Lonnie could nearly always be spotted with his basketball—he wanted to be Larry Byrd. And our friend Bruce claimed he was jinxed in the 'sneaking in' department—any time those boys got busted, Lonnie was one of them. But when I think back to some of the pranks...

REDRUM: Best Prank Ever

I've written before about the Redrum Caper, but thought it worth a rewrite, as the important pieces seem to have shifted, but forgive me if you've seen this before:

The Shining was made into a movie (for the first time) in spring of 1980. Of note is the fact that the movie came out 5 days after Mt. St. Helen's blew. In Moscow, Idaho, where we all lived, we got almost an inch of ash settling on the streets, creating a spooky apocalyptic feel and canceling school for the rest of the year, so there was a MOOD present, as well as the antsiness that comes from not being able to get out much.

Three friends and I decided to go to the movie (only my second R movie, if I remember right) and then spend the night at Shannon's house. [girls of 13 and 14 come in packs and rarely have a weekend without a sleepover, so this is all run-of-the-mill...] Kim and I had read the book, Shannon and Sharyl had not, but Kim and I had talked about it enough, they knew the basic plot, and the movie did not disappoint.

After the movie we all sat around Shannon's kitchen table doing that finger thing Danny does, saying “REDRUM, REDRUM,” and “Heeeeeeeere's Johnny!”

Kim was pretty spooked, telling the rest of us to stop. Sharyl was hysterically amused, Shannon and I... middle grounders... but still, we went back and forth a little. After a while we all went upstairs to get ready for for bed. As we walked into Shannon's room (on the second floor, mind you) across her bedroom window was REDRUM in red.

Kim screamed... and screamed and screamed and screamed. I think I screamed at first.  Sharyl continued to laugh hysterically. (she has a big brother and was used to this sort of thing, I think). Shannon screamed but then got MAD (seeing this as a mean prank), her mother ran in, to see who was dying... all the while Sharyl still laughing...

In the aftermath...

We learned that the Marauders (Lonnie, Bruce and Craig--the three you can see faces for to the right), who knew we'd gone to the movie that night, sat outside the kitchen window and listened to us scaring each other (laughing all the while). Lonnie and Craig (at the very least... I don't think Bruce made it to the roof) then climbed onto the garage roof with a tube of lipstick stolen from one of their mothers (probably Marilyn, Craig's mom), and wrote REDRUM (of course they remembered that from the OUTSIDE for it to look right, what they really had to write was MURDER. They didn't make it off the roof before we came in, and Lonnie twisted his ankle leaping off the roof.

And I'm pretty darned sure Shannon's mom called and made them come over and get on the roof to clean the lipstick off the window a few days later, but I might be making that part up... it would be very in character, though--Jessie has a certain undeniable authority when she gets that look in her eye, even today.

While that was the biggie, there was also the time Lonnie and Craig filled all the glasses in my mom's cupboard with water and turned them upside-down on the counter...

Weren't we terrible?
But we got even. Spanish club sold people as a fundraiser and we got to then dress them as we wished...

I wouldn't go back to Jr. High for anything. It was such an insecure time for me, but there were definitely bright spots, and for me, Lonnie was one of them.

These were great friendships. I was sad when we all shifted and drifted—high school we didn't really have classes together and my group of girlfriends shifted to an older group of guys we hung out with, but my fondness has never gone away.

Rest in peace, my friend.

If anyone else has memories to share, I would love you to do that.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Guy Fawksin the WriMo

Burn Baby Burn!

Erm... I meal Hello! Welcome to Insecure Writer's Support Group First Wednesday! And yes, I do plan to tie these three themes together with lesser ado than you might think would be required. But first, to set the mood:

Burning the Guy: a British tradition
The Fifth of November
    Remember, remember! 
    The fifth of November, 
    The Gunpowder treason and plot; 
    I know of no reason 
    Why the Gunpowder treason 
    Should ever be forgot! 
    Guy Fawkes and his companions 
    Did the scheme contrive, 
    To blow the King and Parliament 
    All up alive. 
    Threescore barrels, laid below, 
    To prove old England's overthrow. 
    But, by God's providence, him they catch, 
    With a dark lantern, lighting a match! 
    A stick and a stake 
    For King James's sake! 
    If you won't give me one, 
    I'll take two, 
    The better for me, 
    And the worse for you. 
    A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope, 
    A penn'orth of cheese to choke him, 
    A pint of beer to wash it down, 
    And a jolly good fire to burn him. 
    Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring! 
    Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King! 
    Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

Know how I love NaNoWriMo?
Know how NaNoWriMo is all about setting aside your inner editor to just write FAST?
Know how it is permission to write CRAP?

NaNoWriMo is like Guy Fawkes, writing a book and the idea was probably pretty good, but the execution is CRAP. But that doesn't mean it doesn't need to be done.

Now Guy went and got hanged and burned and all that, and I don't want you to do that to yourself. But maybe consider that NaNoWriMo isn't actually writing a BOOK so much as a first pass at your PLAN of what will eventually be your book.

So this is NOT wasted time, but if you act like you are done after this, you are libel to get burned. Got it? (this lecture is to myself as much as you--I have a few WriMos that I've never touched again, but it IS worth it anyway)

(was that such a stretch?)

Monday, November 3, 2014

My Mysterious Year

So I write REALLY a lot of books... and my writing career seems to be doing not a terrible lot. My contract is over—three books, the first sold through and I still get a little check from it every six months... the other two have NOT sold through, which means they don't ask for more, I guess...

My YA books have not sold. Only got close on ONE (had an agent, submitted, no buyer). My serial thriller (self pubbed) has grossed me all of about $40... (which is a significant loss when I look at paying for editing and covers)

So how does one jump start a writing career? Have I been doing this long enough to figure it out?

Tangent #1

Ever scraped a house? Trying to get the old paint off before you are ready to sand, prep and paint again? Know how it's easier to chip away at the old if you start where there is a bubble in the paint or where something has already been chipped away?


I've decided the most promising route to getting there is starting where I have a little traction. Feels like VERY little at the moment, but I think if I really dig in and focus for a while, I might manage it.

Tangent #2

I am belatedly reading a Sue Grafton book at the moment. It is my first time—not sure what I was waiting for except she really was getting big when I was still in my YA with my kids phase and by the time she got to about M I thought she seemed too gimmicky. What did I know? I think she is speaking to my audience. Some humor. Some quirk. But REAL issues. Real psychology, real violence. I don't use a PI for a sleuth, but otherwise I think the feel is right. I finally have a comparable to give my agent and publishers an idea how to frame me.

Why Not Self-Publish?

You know... I honestly don't have the time at the moment. If I didn't have to work a day job, I could handle all the details. But if I had that kind of time, I ALSO might have already made some progress on my YA stuff—the spit polish agent quest or contests or small publishers.

So Why This Focus Now?

I spent the last year writing, polishing and publishing a serial totally more than 300,000 words. And while part of me felt a little burned out focusing THAT heavily on one thing for a whole year, I know now I can keep up the pace, and THIS year, I am not going to do all one project. And I will have the leeway to alternate writing and editing in long spurts...

And What is the PLAN?

BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (you know I can't say plan without a maniacal laugh, right?)

Well right now Ellen has What Ales Me.

And right now I'm WRITING the first in a DIFFERENT series: the Corset Cop Chronicles...

What the heck is THAT? Well, my sleuth is a retired cop who, upon retirement, decided to open a lingerie store... She is in her early 60s and sassy and smart. She has five sons and varied relationships with them. She is to some degree based on a real woman, a woman I knew growing up because the real woman's youngest son is my age... but only the set up... former cop, now selling lingerie, five sons. Everything else (aside from a bit of sass) is fiction.

I managed over 14,000 words of this puppy in my first two days of NaNoWriMo... Progress, baby!

The second series fits the cozy profile better than the ale series, but they honestly have similar tone. It is where I am most comfortable I need the danger to feel real. I need the character flaws to be real.

And I think if I get two series going, I might finally feel myself launched... or that is the hope anyway.

In the meantime I may polish some of my YA. But I am going to hold off on WRITING new YA, even though I have a ton I want to do. I just feel like until I get my real traction, spreading myself too thin means I won't EVER be able to support myself at this. So in the next 14 months... until the end of 2015, my plan is to write THREE new mysteries. One this month, one for BuNoWriMo and one for NaNo next year. That gives me two in each series or, if What Ales Me sells, three Artful Ale and one Corset Cop.

Since Ellen HAS What Ales Me, I hope that will sell right away. But having a couple ready will help my case regardless.

Know What I Didn't Quite Believe Until Recently?

Besides the fact I couldn't do it all?

That a coherent plan was really a prerequisite. My observation was most people had managed anyway. But I think that is because until they take off, there is no way to KNOW what they've been doing.

Do YOU have a plan? How are you coming on it?

Monday, October 27, 2014

NaNoWriMo Countdown

Okay kids... are you READY!?

I finished my hard copy edits on What Ales Me last night. A few small things to address per the DIVINE Elizabeth Spann Craig, plus a read to make sure my chapters all end on a BOOM pageturner... but I should be able to send it to Ellen tonight.

That leaves me the PERFECT amount of time to prep for NaNoWriMo, eh?

This is NOT my backstory
I already HAVE:

character sketches


some backstory


Chart my suspects with their motives and the clues my sleuth will uncover

Make my 'goal spreadsheet'

Clean off my desk

Erm... and I might be having trouble committing solidly to one story, as part of me wants to write the second in the series for the one I just finished... I've been immersed in this world, the characters are solid, and if it SELLS I will need more of them...

Always something exciting around here, eh?

Unfortunately, that's all I have time for right now, as this other project is BIG, but once it is done, I hope to have more to say...

Anybody else WriMoing? What do YOU do to prepare?

Buddy me if you want: hartjohnson

Monday, October 20, 2014

Survive For the Bucket List (Two Blogfests)

Halo, fine friends! Today I am participating in TWO blogfests, but they go together well, so I figure its all good. First is the Survive and Thrive Blogfest about taking care of ourselves—disease awareness, prevention, annallat.

It's hosted by
Stephen Tremp
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Michael Di Gesu
L. Diane Wolfe

And then, since we are all surviving so much longer... there is the BUCKET LIST... stuff we want to be sure to do before we die...

Survive and Thrive: Stubbornness Doesn't Pay

Know how some people 'refuse to be sick'? I am one of these—I don't give into small bugs, I don't take sick days, and I refuse to let stuff get me down.

Two years ago I had a hard lesson about why this isn't always smart.

Those of you who have been around a while may remember my aunt passing away in 2012. She was only 60 and had cancer of both colon and uterus, but based on family history, I suspect she had colon cancer first—a cancer that can be cured if caught early. There was some investigation into a syndrome, which she was negative for (thankfully), but (also thankfully) sent me to a genetics counselor for advice on how to look into my own risk.

It has set me on a course of earlier and more frequent screenings for colon cancer—something that short of the information about my family I might have resisted. And already those screenings have found and allowed for removal of 'something suspicious'.

So what I'm saying is LOOK AT YOUR HISTORY. If you know what runs in your family then you can identify if you are a case where “run of the mill” is too little.

And with All this Extra TIME.... Let's figure out what we want to DO!!!

Bucket List

I've done most of the physical stuff, so most of what is on my list is stuff I want to SEE, which means I am going to SHOW you... Here are the highlights of my Bucket List.

A slow tour all the way around the Meditterenean

Angel Falls Venezueala

An Ancestral trip (including Norway and Sweden)
A UK trip of all my favorite stuff... (Monty Python, Harry Potter, etc.)

Private Writing Retreat with a couple of my buds

And then there are a couple things way out of my control that I REALLY REALLY want to experience:

Having a runaway best seller and having a book made into a movie.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

In Which I Try to Face My Failure to Organize

Know how I hate pants? Makes it hard to apply a “Fly by the seat of the pants” methodology to keeping track of stuff and scrambling to meet the next deadline. I do alright (one word—west coast girls are language rebels and alright means just okay, where all right means ALL RIGHT which is perfect, not alright, but I digress) *cough* Anyway... Fine for the writing, but I have been BAD about all the little stuff, and some of that LITTLE stuff for ME can be BIG stuff for YOU... like announcing book releases, covers... doing that promoting of my friends so when it's my turn, I don't feel like a heel for asking.

I've been wondering if maybe a community calendar might serve us all well. ONE place where we all put our own important dates (maybe limit how many each of us gets so nobody goes nuts) but that A BUNCH of us could use to track book releases in particular, but maybe also a couple huge promotional things.

Does something like this already exist and as usual, I am the last to know?

If not...

I'm not sure the best location for this... is it a blog we are all allowed to edit? (that seems messy). A shared Google doc we can all check regularly? I'm willing to take advice here. I think it could help a BUNCH of us. And if it is EASY I could set it up, but it is highly probable it is above my tech-savviness. (taking volunteers...)

I could just keep a calendar, but I already know I find out SO MUCH last minute or late that it doesn't give me a chance to help much, and I really DO want to help.

Anybody else have an interest in this? Suggestions for how to go about it? Tricks you already do?

Maybe it is even we keep our own calendars but put together an email list for people who agree?

A Blog maybe isn't the most ideal place for a conversation, but that is sort of what I'd like to start if people have ideas... maybe we can problem solve.