Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Whole Lot of Busy Going On

Way too much going on. We're still going through boxes in the garage (most of which are making their way into the house), and trying to prepare for the move to Mississippi. On top of all that, our young worker is installing new doors, new windows, painting, putting up lights and ceiling fans.

Enter 2010 BWG conference, Gator Bites, Swamp Lily Review, NaNoWriMo, and a host of other things.

Our conference is November 13th. You can go HERE to learn more about it.

Gator Bites is a neat little brochure I'm putting together to promote our Bayou Writers. I have to give credit to Peter Cole out of Nashville and his Keyhole Digest for this idea. Brilliant! I hope you'll check out Keyhole Fiction and order some of their work--or even submit something to them. I'm excited about Gator Bites and thrilled that so many of our members contributed. I think it will be a great sampling of the talent we have in BWG. I can see how this tri-fold of micro-fiction and poems could be used to promote authors and writers' groups everywhere. Take a look at Keyhole Digest and what they have going and devise a way to use their ideas to promote yourself.

Now, let me tell you about SLR. Swamp Lily Review is an online literary journal I've started with my friend, Jan Rider Newman. I feel guilty including myself in the "started" thing because Jan is doing all the work. Every now and then I hear a loud boom and I know it's her banging her head against the wall as she works on our website. Who said building websites was easy? You can learn more about Swamp Lily Review HERE. Even though the website is still under construction, you can read our mission statement and our submission guidelines. One day, very soon I hope, we'll have a picture of a Swamp Lily. By the way, read those guidelines carefully. SLR is a lit journal celebrating Louisiana writers and artists who live and breathe in Louisiana.

Add to all of this, National Novel Writing Month. I love it. I look forward to it every year, but I never make 50,000 words. I only make it to 25,000 and stack those unfinished manuscript pages with the rest of my efforts. {deep, heart-rending sigh} I wanna finish--I really do. :-/ I'm honestly giving it my best shot this year. You're my accountability partners. :) Since I totally despise making a fool of myself, maybe I'll try harder if I know you're watching. This year I printed out a calendar and outlined the novel in each square of the entire month so if I follow it and write about 6 1/2 pages a day ... Yeah, sounds easy, doesn't it ... if I just follow it and WRITE only 6 1/2 PAGES A DAY ...

I just finished teaching my NF course for Lamar, and also taking two online courses through RWA: one on the ins and outs of self-publishing and one on short story writing.

Okay. That's what's going on in my life and what I'm doing during the month of November. And you can even add these few things: Need to compose a BWG Voting Ballot since we're voting for new officers on Nov. 6th. Need to create a President's Notebook for the new Prez. And ...Yikes! I need to finish the Prez's Message for the newsletter and get it to VP Jan right now. And hop over to the Bayou Writers' Group blog to post something new.

No wonder my husband says, "When we get to Mississippi, why don't you taker a breather and just read and write."

Sounds good to me--until I'm sitting all alone in an apartment, staring at a blank screen and wondering what my peeps back home are doing. :)

Here's a quote for busy people:

You never saw a very busy person who was unhappy. ~Dorothy Dix

Tell me what you'll be doing during the month of November.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Beat To A Pulp: Round 1 -- A Dream Come True

I popped over to Razored Zen the other day--that’s author Charles Gramlich’s blog—and happened onto a great interview. Editor Elaine Ash was answering questions about Beat To A Pulp Round 1 and boy, was there a celebration going on. Elaine told us how this book was a mere gleam in David Cranmer’s eye just a couple of years ago. I love seeing dreams come true like this. (Okay, stop right here and go read the interview. It's too good to miss!)

David Cranmer is editor/publisher of an e-zine called Beat the Pulp. Check it out HERE and take a look at his submission guidelines if you write pulp fiction. David created BTAP as an outlet for writers of hardboiled fiction at a time when a number of e-zines decided to close up shop. He presents stories that run the gamut of genres and provide readers with a sense of pulpy adventure. From what I understand, some of the stories on BTAP made it into this huge collection.

There was so much excitement over at Razored Zen about this anthology, I had to have my own copy. It arrived today so I haven't read it yet. The book is HUGE! And HEAVY! I promise it could be used as a weapon. Wallop someone up side of the head with it, and you could do some serious damage :)

BEAT To A PULP: Round One is a collection of short stories from twenty-seven of today's top writers and emerging talent. It runs the gamut of genres and sub-genres—noir, crime, hardboiled, ghost, western, fantasy, and sci-fi. And it's getting GREAT reviews. Bill Crider wrote the foreward. I remember Bill from the old days when the Golden Triangle Writers’ Guild held its annual conference. Bill Crider was one of our staples—so to speak. Round One cover art is by James O'Barr of The Crow fame.

So here I am holding this super-heavy book in both hands, and what do you think I do first?
I turned to the back and read the author bios, of course. I LOVE author bios. Interesting lot with great credentials, but some new writers too which makes it extra good. I've only read four of these authors: Robert J. Randisi, Ed Gorman, Bill Crider and Patricia Abbott. I'm looking forward to getting to know some of the others.

If you like bloody knuckles and broken bones, have a passion for the hardboiled story, you definitely need to get your hands on a copy of Beat to a Pulp: Round 1. You can order it HERE

NOTE: A warning to some of my followers: Do I have to tell you there is profanity and violence? This definitely isn't Christian fiction. :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Let The Insanity Stop HERE!

I just found NEW copies of my 14-year old romance on Amazon for $82.42 (3.99 shipping).

Is that crazy or what? Don't panic, they have another copy for only $19.95. And used for a penny. :)

Please, please...let the insanity stop! Don't pay $85+ for my little romance, I'll send you a copy. :-)
(Note: this is not a Christian romance but it's not R-rated either.)

Every now and then I check and this is the first time I've found my book (new or used) on Amazon. Where did it come from? Do used bookstores stockpile? How come mine is just making it out of the pile and onto Amazon? I don't understand how or why this happens. Can someone explain? A friend just bought a copy from another bookseller for a couple of bucks. Why is it I'm not getting any 'bucks' on these sales?

I'm in the process of trying to get the rights back on this book but I've been told it's a slow process. Publishing is a crazy business. About the time I think I understand--everything shifts and I'm back at square one.

When a writer finally sells his or her book, who do you think makes the most money: the author? the agent? the publisher?
Just curious.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just a Hint ... 25 Words or Less

I never thought I’d buy a book of fiction where each story is 25 words or less. But yeah, I ordered it and can hardly wait for it to get here. It’s Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer, compiled by Robert Swartwood and published by W.W. Norton & Company. I submitted my own Hint Fiction – after I figured out what hint fiction really is. In a nutshell, it’s the hint of a bigger, more complex story, and other than that, I don’t have a clue because my submissions were rejected.

Hint fiction was inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s six-word story — “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” —

I suppose the bigger, more complex story can be anything we want it to be—something sad or something happy. Most people read that and think sad, but I’ve been known to purchase things that don't don't work out for one reason or another, and never return them to the store. They end up in a garage sale. And that goes for baby shoes ... I remember. :)

I haven’t read any hint fiction as good as Hemingway’s so how do we know when it’s good? Is there a trick to writing it? What makes it bad? Is 'beauty' in the eye of the beholder?

Here are the two “stories” I submitted to Swartwood’s Hint Fiction anthology. We were supposed to title these stories too, but I'm incredibly horrible at choosing titles.

Mr. Fix-it and The Kindergarten Teacher
She didn't have a headboard in her bedroom. Didn't matter. In high school he'd been elected 'Most Creative Guy.' He grinned. He liked this challenge.

(A hint-crit partner said I was a romantic, but actually, I was thinking of something much more sinister.)

View from a Bridge
The cherry Popsicle dripped down her arm and onto the sleeve of her white blouse. He sucked in his breath, pulled the camera closer. Gotcha.

The story below was written for the Gotham contest but I forgot about it and missed the deadline. Shows how organized I am. I like this one much better than the other two.

I Thee Dead
The groom stood before the wedding guests, knowing the bride wouldn’t show, wondering how long he should wait before he wept.

I like hint fiction. I may not be too good at writing it but it’s fun to try, and I know Swartwood’s anthology will be a good read.

One Reviewer wrote: The stories in Robert Swartwood's Hint Fiction have some serious velocity. Some explode, some needle, some bleed, and some give the reader room to dream. They're fun and addictive, like puzzles or haiku or candy. I've finished mine but I want more. (Stewart O'Nan, author of Last Night at the Lobster )

I can't wait! I can't wait!
You can order your copy HERE. Or, Robert is giving away the Ultimate Flash Fiction package

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Lost Manuscript

Hubby and I are cleaning out our garage. That means going through 25 or 30 boxes of stuff that we never went through when we moved here in '95. What a chore. Today we found daughter's lost social security number. No telling how it ended up in a box in the garage but it has since been replaced. We found a letter from son (my stepson) when he was eleven. He's thirty now and answering the same questions from his dad: What are you reading? Are you exercising much? Some things never change. In eleven year old son's sweet little handwriting, he wrote, "I'm not reading much or getting much exercise. Will you sponsor me if I do a read-a-thon?"

We solved the mystery of all hubby's missing black socks. We found them!

It's always fun to go through boxes in the garage. What treasures we come across! Books that should have been in the house, craft supplies that should never have been purchased, magazines and manuscripts.

Yes, manuscripts!

When hubby and I were writing mysteries together, he'd handwrite the stories, then I'd rewrite as I typed them into the computer. Today, we came across some of that work that never made it into the computer. Hubby started reading.

"This is good," he said. "I wonder if I wrote this."

I knew exactly what he meant. I've discovered stories in old notebooks and wondered if I really wrote them. Some of them seem too good for me to have written.

Hubby selected portions to read aloud.

"Yeah, you wrote it," I said. Sounded like his humor, his sarcasm about bad marriages, bad women and love gone wrong.

But the only part of the story I recognized was the name, Joe Mack Crawford, our series character. We wrote two 3,000+ word short stories, several chapters of a novel called Beginner's Luck, and, evidently, this mysterious portion hubby found in a box. It was dated so we pinpointed the time to when we were between jobs: daughter and I were living in Longview in what we called "the cracker box" and hubby was living with his sister in Houston and working at the home office until they could put us on another project. Evidently hubby was doing more writing than I was during that time.

"This is really good, I hope I finished it."

"Turn to the last page and see," I suggested.

"No, I want to read to the end."

Fifteen minutes later: "I can't believe I wrote 23 pages and didn't finish it!"

That manuscript was written in 1987 and hubby was 41. I was 39. Joe Mack was 40. I have a picture of the house he lived in. We knew him very well: Brenda, his ex-wife, Cole, his 17 year old son, and his neighbor Bella Carpenter, who liked to sit in a lawn chair under the trees and drink sweet tea.

How do we finish a book and stories that were written some 23 years ago? We were different people then. We've changed and aged; Joe Mack hasn't. Does age make a difference? What about religious and political beliefs? Who we are today isn't who we were back then, and it all plays a part in our writing. Joe Mack may not want to be cleaned up. :)
What do you think? Suggestions?

Friday, October 15, 2010

999 Ways to Write A Book

Here I am talking about back story again. I know you're sick of it. I am too, but I'm still alittle confused. I'm reading two books and both of them are so sparse that I'm having a difficult time staying interested. There's an art to dropping tidbits of info into our stories. These two authors aren't dropping anything anywhere and I'm finding it annoying.

I don't require a lot of back story to stay interested in a good book, but geeze-louise, give me enough that the chapters make sense!

It's suddenly dawned on me that these days--this modern world of publishing technology, the ebooks/POD publishers/self-pubbing/short story apps, etc ... anything goes.


There must be 999 ways to write a book. With back story or without. With one character or twenty-one. All dialogue or ... all narrative. Or graphics only.

The most important thing we have to do is find an editor that likes our writing. That's the key. That's the answer. Put that on a little yellow sticky note and slap it on your computer. Write your book the way you want to write it then find an editor who loves it. They'll tell you what's wrong and if there's too much back story. Ultimately, the editor is the last word.

Next month I'm going to NaNoWrMo with the rest of the world. My novel is outlined and I plan to sit down and follow that outline. I'll get my usual 100 pages before I experience the Thanksgiving Crash. I'd love to make the 50,000 words goal but it hasn't happened yet. Turkey day always gets in the way. At least I'll have 100 pages of something new.

So, just out of curiosity, are you planning to Nano this year? If so, I'm registered as Jessy. Look me up and let's encourage each other.

BTW, do you know Jane Friedman? She's a columnist for Writer's Digest. Now go HERE and read the dirty secret behind writing advice.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Importance of Family

For months, we've been planning to attend a Ferguson Family Reunion in East Texas. We talked the kids into joining us. Yeah... fun for them, huh? Most youngsters don't enjoy sitting around eating unidentifiable casseroles and listening to old people discuss the past. They don't realize they'll be planning their own family reunions before they know it. Oh, how the years fly . . .

We took off on Friday in little Rhonda the Honda. I think I've mentioned that we bought Rhonda for our daughter back in 2001--a graduation present, but a couple of years ago we gave her our CRV, thinking she needed a newer vehicle so I've been driving Rhonda. And she's been great. She has a lot of get up and go which makes me feel energetic. I like being able to wheel into the tiniest of parking spots. Rhonda's nine years old and has around 65,000 miles on her. Yeah, that tells you how much running around daughter did. Good daughter--good Rhonda/Honda.

Well, back to taking off on Friday. We got as far as Iowa (that's Iowa, LA just about 10 miles down the road) and something didn't feel right. I was driving. I'm very in-tune with my vehicles. I can usually tell when something isn't right. I can even feel it when they've been worked on, tuned up... there's just a feeling. Well, long story short as the cliche goes, Rhonda was sick and Rhonda broke.

Press the gas, nothing.
Put her in reverse and press the gas. Nothing.
She just hung there.

We were towed back to Lake Charles by the cutest wrecker driver I've ever seen. He and hubby had great discussion about family values, stuff they learned from their dads, etc. I listened and took notes. This cutie is definitely lodged in my memory as hero material. I've been wondering what kind of heroine would suit him. :)

So... Steve the wrecker driver towed Rhonda to the Honda place where she stayed the weekend. Hubby and I were transported home to get his truck, back to Rhonda to transfer our belongings, then off to get daughter in Lafayette, and pack everything into CRV. Of course, by this time, we'd worked up an appetite so we ate before leaving Lafayette. Who can pass up Coyote Blues and their great tacos? Got to Longview motel at 11:30 pm Friday night, and up early the next morning to head to Mineola, TX.

Daughter and son got to meet cousins they didn't know they had, and visit with cousins they haven't seen in quite awhile. (You can see by the pic that they're all caught up.)

I know this isn't really writing related but it can be because family stories are important. It's easy to gripe about going to family reunions or class reunions--it does take effort. But I think it's important to tell your kids old family stories, even family gossip, stories from your school days and childhood. It's important to give them a sense of belonging to their family name.

The Fergusons have been known as good and godly people. Of course, among all those good people are a few interesting renegades, as in any family. Our kids have heard Ferguson tales for 27 and 30 years. If they listened, paid attention, they'll be able to pass some of these stories on to their own kids. Some of those stories are even written down.
They've heard stories from my side of the family too but the difference is ... there won't be any more family reunions in my family, ever again. My family bit the dust years ago because of words and actions that can't be taken back. Cousins speak with reservation through emails. Aunts and uncles don't speak at all. They're dying off--unforgiving and unforgiven.
Treasure your family--no matter how large or small. Share your history with your children and grandchildren. Write that history.
No matter how far away that family reunion is, no matter the hassle, do it! Go! Putting flowers on a loved one's grave, saying a prayer that our families stay healthy and loving . . . it's all important. Probably one of the most important things we can do is BE with that part of our family that we never get to see.
Are you in touch with your family? Do you see them often? Is there someone in your family you haven't spoken to in years? Think about making contact before it's too late.
NOTE: Hubby and I looked at new vehicles on Monday. I felt guilty. I think I'm a little too attached to Rhonda. She's family.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Quotes From Two of the Best

Since we're headed to Mississippi, here are some interesting quotes from Eudora Welty and Tennessee Williams. Don't you just love these pictures? I'm excited about moving to Columbus--temporarily, of course--and exploring. For about a year, I'll have no responsibilities except washing, ironing, cooking, reading, writing ... Sounds pretty good to me. :)

Which quote do you like the best and why?

To imagine yourself inside another person... is what a storywriter does in every piece of work; it is his first step, and his last too, I suppose. ~Eudora Welty

Writing a story or a novel is one way of discovering sequence in experience, of stumbling upon cause and effect in the happenings of a writer's own life. ~Eudora Welty

Enthusiasm is the most important thing in life. ~Tennessee Williams

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it. ~Tennessee Williams

Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose. ~Tennessee Williams

Oh, you weak, beautiful people who give up with such grace. What you need is someone to take hold of you - gently, with love, and hand your life back to you. ~Tennessee Williams

Success and failure are equally disastrous. ~Tennessee Williams

Success is blocked by concentrating on it and planning for it... Success is shy - it won't come out while you're watching. ~Tennessee Williams

The future is called 'perhaps,' which is the only possible thing to call the future. And the important thing is not to allow that to scare you. ~Tennessee Williams

Monday, October 4, 2010

How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack by Chuck Sambuchino

I used to watch David the Gnome with my daughter. David was the perfect Papaw. He headed a precious family of little people who greeted each other by rubbing noses. I have a lot of good memories and many hours invested in David the Gnome cartoons. That’s why I was very curious about How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack by Chuck Sambuchino. How dare this Sambuchino guy malign the reputation of my David! So you see, I agreed to review Garden Gnome Attack for a reason; I had my own agenda.

My first thought was, why would I want to survive a garden gnome attack? If those sweet little people attack, it’s probably to shower me with hugs and kisses. I had planned to defend them with such conviction that not one word of Sambuchino’s book would penetrate my soul--or yours.

But . . . when How To Survive a Garden Gnome Attack arrived and I ripped open the package, the cover alone turned my blood to ice. My heart pounded. I felt sick and had to sit down. There was a David look-alike holding an ax. One caption read ‘benign appearance belies murderous intent.’ I flipped to the first page only to read, “Keep reading if you want to live.”

How To Survive a Garden Gnome Attack sounds like a fun book, but really, you shouldn't read it if you're alone in the house ... or if it's dark outside ... or if you're a pack rat with piles of clutter. Gnomes can hide in clutter. I promise you, you'll be only pages into this interesting read before you're lifting your feet off the floor and searching the room for teeny tiny red caps. I've actually found myself glancing across the yard for 'stonescaping' while on the way to the mailbox. Stonescaping (akin to agriglyphs) is the "art of arranging stones to convey intention, a cunning means of nonverbal communication." I asked my husband if we could cap the chimney; we've ordered several motion-activated lights. The electrician comes next week.

This book might look and sound innocent enough, but ... it's the sweetest little horror story you'll ever read; one that will stay with you for the rest of your life. The photography is wonderful, and adds another layer to the goosebumps. Scroll to the bottom and watch the book trailer. You'll know exactly why I'm no longer a David the Gnome fan.

To read a couple of good interviews with Chuck Sambuchino who has to be one of the most talented, imaginative guys in the country, go HERE and HERE. Now read on to learn more about this book ... and how to save yourself from those creepy little garden gnomes.


Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (and They Will)

by Chuck Sambuchino

With an irresistible charm, gnomes seem friendly—even welcoming. By the millions, we brought them into our homes and gardens. And, in so doing, we unwittingly courted this threat. Now we must learn to defend ourselves.
Hiding in plain sight and feigning innocence and merriment, garden gnomes are seeking world domination. THINK ABOUT IT. They have infiltrated every state in America and exist on every continent. Deceptively benign, the common garden gnome has quietly lulled citizens everywhere into a false sense of security. They hide behind their wheel-barrows and disarm unwary suburban dwellers with their rosy cheeks so that no one notices the weaponry they wield. Those rakes, shovels, and pick-axes are not harmless decorations. Alert the Garden Gnome Liberation Front: It is not the gnomes who need saving. Be aware and be afraid. Wake up to the danger.
Chuck Sambuchino is a certified GDE (Gnome Defense Expert) with years of experience in direct combat—guerilla lawnfare style. HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK outlines a proven four-step strategy—Assess, Protect, Defend, Apply—for safeguarding family, pets, and possessions against home gnome invasions. The only published handbook of its kind, this indispensable manual features detailed plans for gnomeproofing dwellings inside and out, instructions for hand-to-hand confrontations, correct gnomenclature, guidelines for compiling an effective arsenal, illuminating case studies of human vs. gnome clashes throughout history, plus ten tips that could save your life.
Would you know how to stop a gnome from tunneling under your house? Would you recognize the signs of suspicious activity or an impending infiltration in your neighborhood? If the answer is ‘no’ then you need to buy this book. The danger is real and it is here. Don’t wait until it is too late.

Chuck Sambuchino lives a guarded life in a heavily fortified residence somewhere in Ohio. He is available for interviews, consultations, and commando missions, via his publicist, Kara Van de Water -

View the book trailer here!

Hardcover $14.99 full-color 112 pages 978-1-58008-463-5
Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Inc.

Friday, October 1, 2010


I thought I'd share one of my favorite blogs. I go there every day, even though the blogger only posts about once a week. I wish he'd pep it up some. :) This anonymous man was an editor for more than two decades in the mystery and suspense genre. He decided to make a change so he and a friend started their own publishing company. They have a staff of five. According to him, "Agents don't bother us much because we don't pay six-figure advances."

I love this guy's voice. He says he's devoted to the field and wants to share what he knows, and boy! does he share. Ive started from the very beginning of his blog and read to the present. He's hilarious. I can tell when he's disgusted, when he's sarcastic, when he's frustrated. He's absolutely wonderful! I hope you think so too.

Mr. Anonymous has chosen the pseudonym "Agatho" in honor of Agatha Christie, "often imitated, never equaled," he says. I don't know who he is, but I've spent a considerable amount of time sleuthing and I think I've found his publishing company. I don't want to rat him out here, so, after studying his blog, his likes and dislikes, if you want to submit to his company--or what I think is his company, email me privately and I'll send you his way.

If it turns out that you don't love this blog as much as I do, at least read his last two posts:
What Mystery Has Taught Me and So, What Do We Learn from Bad Books?

Go to Mysterious Matters: Mystery Publishing Demystified