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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Revisiting 2011

An entire year over. Though in all honesty it wasn't the best year of my life and I'm looking forward to 2012. I can't completely knock the past 12 months - everyone is healthy, Second Chance was released and got really great reviews and I finished Moon Over Monsters. But I've got big plans for the coming year and I am refusing to look back – the goal is to learn from my mistakes, push forward and cross my fingers for a miracle. I don't think it's appropriate to pray for a want - one reason is because ... you know when you want something and then you get it and it doesn't quite measure up to the dream? Well, something along those lines. Plus, their are big problems in this world and I'd hate to use up a miracle for something I can truly live without. I'm not sure it works that way but I'm also not sure it doesn't.

What I am is grateful for all that I have and though it would be mind blowing and awesome to see Melanie and Adam up on the big screen ... No, it would be fantastic. And why not? Moon Over Monsters, too. I'll tell you what - I'll keep working hard and trying my best and then my totally unbelievable goals will be possible and when they come I'll have earned them. Right? Sounds like a reasonable plan. In the meantime I'll keep enjoying life just the way it is.

Best wishes to you and I hope all your dreams come true in 2012.

Happy Holidays,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Generation XX or XY?

It's been over a month since I've discussed the progress of book 3 -- I started at the end of September and struggled through October. I can't remember at what point I went for three times a charm but ... Hooray! I've back into the flow. It wasn't writers block but more like writers quicksand! I had to continue to look at the story from different angles to figure out a path that followed Melanie's style in a way that got me to my destination. Every time I thought I had it right -- the story wouldn't move.

Not now!

Today I was driving by a high school as it was letting out and I've got to say I don't have too much interaction with high schoolers - a couple of nephews but that group as a whole?? Let me just say I feel sorry for high school girls. But to be fair ... some of the kids I couldn't tell their gender. They were all wearing baggy jeans and graphic T's with shaggy, unwashed hair and Vans.

Is it me? Am I aging? Becoming my parents? What about the problem that seems to be surrounding me -- why is everyone mumbling? And how come I have to explain to my kids that Madonna isn't famous for being an author with a British accent?

It's raining and we're off to the orthodontist.

Be safe,

Friday, December 9, 2011

Commercials And Less Is More

Okay so I really like commercials. I would say I love them but there are too many that drive me nuts and I either have to immediately mute the show or completely change the channel. But a good commercial can change your life. When I find a gem ... I wait and watch. Sometimes (good but bad advertisement) I don't even know what they are trying to sell me. My mom loves anything with an animal and if they make it dance or add a monkey – gold. I have to admit I sort of like them, too. But not when they make the animal talk, I think it must be offensive to them. I do enjoy some of those local ones, you know what I'm talking about. They're so awful that they're captivating. Car commercials are boring and how much flooring can one city purchase?

Years ago it was a Hershey's commercial that had me wanting a candy bar for days. I know my girls have a list of items with marvelous commercials aimed exactly for their age and gender. I went to the store and looked at some of these ridiculous requests ... too bad you can't rent these toys and watch as your kids get bored in twenty minutes. But all these toys need is one really good holiday season.

So, cynical!

Well, my take on this holiday is Less Is More. I hope you finish your shopping and find all the great deals. Beware of talking dogs and dancing worms.

Best wishes,

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Art of Laughter

When Border's was closing and they were practically begging me to take books off their shelves I was searching for any book that had a review of "funny", "hysterical" – do I have to think of more or do you get the picture?
Anyway, I've gone through three - I've had very little time to read – and none have been funny or hysterical. I think books that make you happy are essential and would like to in some future time try my hand at 'hysterical'.
Ergo, I'm researching what makes someone, test subject = me, laugh. I'm devastated by these first samplings of supposed 'funny' books. You'll understand when I explain that I found a new book from an author that has made me laugh. I liked her, I really liked her. Guess what! Not funny. Worse than just not funny!

So, I asked myself ... Is it me? Have I lost my sense of humor? I can laugh with my mom all day for absolutely no given reason. Other than she's oddly funny. Have I watched 'Easy A' too many times? My dad was funny. Not just funny ha-ha but clever, insightful funny like Mark Twain (not Samuel Clemens who wasn't funny).

I want to laugh. Don't you?

I am going to divorce myself from all news media for a week and see if that helps.

So what is it that makes you laugh? Why was Janet Evanovich funny in the first 12 books and then lost her mojo for the next five (haven't read 18). Big mysteries of life. I want mojo ... even if I loose it after 12 books.

Oh, well - cheers to you and your own personal mojo!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pay Day!

So, I got my check from Warwick's! These are good days.

But what I really want to talk about is Christmas presents. I have decided to buy Made in America. I have two eleven year old girls ... what is made in America for them? My husband suggested dog collars – not for them to wear, duh – but to walk the dogs. Have you ever noticed how men come up with the oddest suggestions? It's like they try to be weird. But I think it just comes naturally. You have to placate them a little ... make them feel good about their ideas and then do whatever you want. And if you don't believe me, let me just say I've been married for 20 years! Crazy, since I only feel 23, but this is a story for another time.

Back to Made In America – I looked at clothes, toys, electronics, nothing. To make matters worse, today I had no choice (that I could find) but to buy foreign made holiday outdoor lights.
This is going to be difficult. However, something that matters takes effort ... I think I sort of screwed up that quote.

Remember the book discussion - Sat. Dec. 17th - Mostly Books 1pm. I just don't want to be there alone. Though, I might be able to answer all my own questions.

Good day,

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving this year was like taking a step back in time. Family from all over town came and visited - it was loud, wonderful and sad. It reminded me of my childhood when aunts, uncles, cousins and long distance family gathered at my parent's house. The only problem was that one of my heart's favorites was missing, we were at a different house and ... I'm older.

So, right now I'm still in the middle generation between kids and parents. It's fascinating. What is? How people don't change. I always thought that as you grew older, you'd learn - or maybe that unimportant stuff would matter less ... it doesn't. Same petty crap that you struggle with as an 11-year-old is still there when you're 75. Personality is a very curious thing, strong and dominant.

I'm trying to become aware and I am going to break the cycle for me and for my girls. I'm afraid my mom is a lost cause, not that she's petty or my family is ... it's just that the same undertone of conversation repeats for 50 years. I miss the big family gatherings.

Reminder: Book Discussion at Mostly Books on Dec. 17th at 1pm! Had a dream about it last night - big auditorium and an uncomfortable spotlight.

Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving and that you learned a little more about who you are and where you come from.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Get Thee To The Shrink And Clear My Mind

I've been plugging along on the third book of the Melanie Ward series and this time has been rough. I had the basic plot all sorted out but for some reason it's been difficult. I can't put my finger on the problem. So yesterday I decided I must be going the wrong way. I'm not going to scrap everything I've done ... actually, mostly I am but I don't want to think about that. I'm going to have to rebuild from square one. Stinks, but the pain of forcing out words is worse.

I thought by the fourth book it would be easier. It hasn't been. I have to wonder why. Why can't I get grooving? Maybe it's the use of words like grooving that are causing the problems. Maybe it's working on Moon Over Monsters at the same time. Maybe it's that I'm trying to work from home. Maybe it's none of those things or maybe it's all of them.

This book I want Melanie to be happy. I really am tired of those books where the protagonists are always in the dumps. It's a good time for her, really. She's free. Free of Finn, free of men and back doing the job she loves. But even writing this I have this gut-twisting feeling. What is that about? Maybe I should send Melanie to a psychologist and find out why she's being so uncooperative.

Okay, I know I was only kidding but ... I like it!!! Hello Book 3!

Anyway, spent the morning getting the neighborhood Christmas lights in order. Thursday is Thanksgiving and my oldest twin is off at school rehearsing for her monologue this evening. Nice.

Enjoy the weekend,

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Backbone Is Essential When Writing A Memoir

Here is a paragraph (or two) of grievances I have with famous (or semi-famous) people who write tell-all books.

Alone with the shadow writer or with their computer they are brave. They write truths as they see it and then – And Then! – when they're out promoting this tell-all memoir and the reporter asks a question - suddenly they back pedal. "Oh, it wasn't so bad ...  I meant it like this ... here's what happened ... no! we never do retakes on my reality show ... I really do love my mother, it was supposed to be funny ... I never actually saw him take the drugs."

On and on the excuses fly.

My opinion, for what it's worth, write it and then put your backbone to use. Or forget the whole thing. But don't sit in a chair on a national morning show and fidget as a quote is being read. If you're writing to make a buck - go for it - but then don't discredit what you've written by semantics. Annoying!

Uh, oh. Is this how my day is going to continue? Time to pull out the yoga mat.

Be safe,

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bond. James Bond – Roger Moore Style

Big Thanks to James and his staff at Warwick's! Had such a great time meeting La Jolla neighbors, vacationers and a couple of other writers! It took me the full 6 hour drive home for my throat to recover. Happy Birthday to Gina.
Being back in that beautiful city reminds me of why I picked that spot for Melanie.

Can't forget to thank my mom who practically moved into my house to watch my disobedient dogs. Truthfully they're pretty good dogs unless you're walking around the house with slices of bologna in your hand. Why? Don't know. Don't want to know. One of those things that you're told and ... it sounds like too much work to figure out. I'm just happy all fingers stayed intact.

Spent the entire afternoon today researching vintage cars from the James Bond movies. Now I personally am not a big fan of the early ones but ... I'm not writing about me. I've browsed tens of tens (?) websites and am thinking I'm going to have to actually watch the movie. Mind you this isn't in a major plot line in the book but I want to get it right because readers are 007 fans and I'd stress if I found out later I was wrong on a fact. Over dramatic? Or just a waste of time? Either way ... Roger Moore here I come.

Be safe,

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Warwick's in La Jolla

Looking forward to an author event in San Diego this weekend!

7812 Girard Ave.
La Jolla, CA

Sunday – Noon-2

Melanie Ward's home town! Even as I type I've left her and Trish to battle it out over Adam. Summer at the beach ... sunsets. Truthfully anytime of year in La Jolla is a perfect time.
I'm so excited about Warwick's
It is an amazing place - I was at a high school reunion a couple of weeks ago and I mentioned it to a classmate that lives in San Diego. Of course she knew of it.

So, I'd ask for luck, however, I'm of the opinion (today) that the future has already been fixed and no matter what I do ... I will only be walking directly in the chosen path.

I really should start keeping track of all my beliefs. And no I don't believe fickle is an accurate description. Or maybe it is ... or will be on Monday. Who knows? What does it matter? I sort of think time and space are non-existent.

Moon Over Monsters is going incredibly well - still not finished editing ... it's a lot of work getting everything right and I'm never totally right – making it doubly-difficult.

Choose not to take things too seriously,

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Relentless Search For Marketing

Truly this could be titled Relentless Search For Sales but to me – marketing is more fun.

Next weekend I have a book signing in La Jolla - Melanie's home town. I really am excited about this trip and have been sending out emailers to get attention. I know we have to spend more money on marketing to get the books noticed but the problem is that there are just too many open hands out there wanting my money. I am a skeptic. And I don't have enough cold cash that I'm willing to part with – there are no guarantees in sales, I don't expect them but ... I also don't want to hand over a check for zero return. I'm caught in a cycle - spend money to make money but who do I spend the money with? How much? What direction do I want to go?

Millions of books are out there - what is it that I want? It's a good question.

Do you think you can have it all? Is it possible to be successful in your personal life and also have an amazing, successful career with money and love? See I don't know. I'm a really fair person and I think that I sort of screw myself up - should someone get to have a completely satisfying life?

Let me know what you think,

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Writing Is A Job


I'm in my office, my computer is open and the cursor is flashing ... "give me words!" Jill's pile of 150 pages of editing is at my elbow ... waiting.

But here is what I want to talk about ... Halloween. I live in a neighborhood that gets a lot of treaters. We sit at the edge of the driveway and hand out candy to hoards of people. It's fun. 75% were dressed up and that includes the dogs. It gets expensive. Candy isn't cheap. I bought 1,000 pieces and it lasted almost an hour and a half. We were out by 7:10 and people were still flowing into the neighborhood. This year the kids and parents were mostly polite but this is my problem ... I get it that people want to dress up their 3 month old and take them for a walk ... but why hold out a plastic bag requesting a piece of candy? Really can a 12 week old baby suck on a Skittle? It's obnoxious. And it takes away from kids that can actually enjoy trick or treating. So, next year all you adults with babies that can't have sweets - please – dress up your kids, have a great time and buy yourself your favorite bag of candy. But let the princesses, transformers, spidermen and bat girls have their night of treats.

I love Halloween. The weather, the fact that in 3+ weeks is Thanksgiving - everything except adults holding two pillowcases and asking for seconds. Whatever happened to shame? Maybe I'll start a petition to bring back SHAME. I'll get the old lady with a long white ponytail to sign ... the one who zipped into my parking space at Target. The one who blatantly stole and had the audacity to paste JESUS bumper stickers on her car windows. Well, I had to ask her, "Is that what Jesus would've done?"
She was the one who was promoting the King Of Kings and stealing in that very vehicle. SHAME on you old lady. Shame on YOU! People are funny.

Remember never be boring or a hypocrite or a boring hypocrite.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Query Letter (Nightmare)

I just want to go over query letter criteria.

I like to take a quick refresher - crash course - through sample letters. Remembering that no one is the same and taking the bits of advice that work for me. Then research agents. Making certain that I am sending my letter to the right person at the right agency. Taking in the tone of the website, agents bios and what books have they published. I really check out covers, titles, plot and then I go to Amazon. Because remember you are hiring them. And I know writing a query letter can feel like begging but at the end of the day I want to respect the people I work with, want to trust them.

E-mail queries are so much easier than snail mail but with that there is more opportunity for error. Double check your work before hitting send.

I'm practicing my hook for Moon Over Monsters. Want to hear?
The visions were coming nightly. Christina Casey never felt as if she belonged either because of her off the charts IQ or because as a 15 year-old she was still not allowed into a PG-13 movie.

Obviously not done. Rough. But it's a start!

Good luck,

Monday, October 24, 2011

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I want to send out prayers and wishes of well being to those fighting and surviving breast cancer. And to all the brave family members who are there to care and support their loved ones. 

First let me say I didn't win the lottery. But I haven't given up the idea that this mind thing can work. I guess I just have to figure out what is going to happen and then think of that. Can't Lose! I must be doing something wrong - true I really didn't buy a ticket. I thought about it and I told people I was going to win and when a commercial for the AZ Lottery came on the radio it renewed my vigor to win. But it is out of my ordinary and I kept forgetting - 

It's been one month since I started book 3 and I'm having trouble. I'm not stuck in a writers block but I feel like I'm living in slow motion. I've redone the first chapter already ... not a good sign and I don't know what the problem is. My brain is distracted with a bunch of life clutter and I can't seem to find the right rhythm. I've been writing from home and I know that's not as productive but ... but nothing I've got to get a move on. 
I saw a website that advertised you could start and finish your book in 8 days! I don't know about that - I hate scams and I hate people who take cuts. The other day I was in line at a department store and this lady stood behind me, smiled and so I know she saw me ... but then she proceeded to catch the sales clerk on the side - Well, I yelled STOP THIEF!! - sort of - I did approach the two and of course said something. 
It was either say something or stew about it - I only like stew on winter evenings. She hemmed and hawed and said she didn't see me ... blah, blah ... A thief and a liar. Just wait your damn turn like everybody else! 

And with that I say Stand Up To What You Believe In -- No Matter How Ridiculous!

Stay alert,

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reading Is Good For You

Reading makes you a better writer - it is my personal belief and I challenge anyone who wants to argue! I really don't because this isn't one of my Strong Feelings About Nothing. It is simply an opinion. I love to read. I love books with heart and books that are frightening and refuse to read ones that try to 'educate' me or have scenes of harming children.

From reading I learn what I like and I take that with me while I write. Because I can't please everyone my goal is to write what I would love to read. I can't go wrong if I follow that simple philosophy. But I do have to say - Sunday I went to family party and my 82 year old uncle is reading Second Chance. His daughters bought him a Kindle and he started the book over the weekend and is almost finished. It was awesome talking to him, he's excited about the characters, dislikes Finn and was laughing about something Melanie had done. How nice is that?

I know the country is faced with debt, unemployment and facing long months of hateful political ads - so we all need a break. Writing and reading can be that escape.

Also - I've been having these weird episodes where I talk about something from ... well, example - I was saying (Saturday) about when I was a kid and Scott Baio was in teen magazines and how I hadn't seen him in years. True? Well the next day on regular TV there was a movie called 'Cursed' and who was in that movie? YES! Freakin' Scott Baio!! What a bizarre'O world! So, this the thing - I'm going to try it all day long. Talking about cool stuff and see what materializes!

Here's to a winning lottery ticket (do I have to buy one for this to work?)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Launch Party

We're having a little late Launch Party for Second Chance!

Saturday October 15th from 5pm-8pm
Here in Tucson - 4401 Paseo del Barranco

There will be food, wine, books and friends and family.

With that done - I do have to say that the third book is just as challenging as the other two. I've been doing this for weeks and I have to scrap a big chunk. It wasn't smooth going – I was hitting obstacles at every turn – a good sign that I went the wrong direction, duh! I guess I should've realized it sooner.

Over the weekend I spent time working out problems and it turns out I picked the wrong place to start. Even as planned as I thought I was - it isn't until the fingers hit the keys that the truth is shown. At least I can use most of what's done ... somewhere else, later in the book. Still it is a setback. Feels like a huge bummer, though, if I can find a groove I'll get back on track.

But I have to express how strangely happy I am to be back with Melanie. I think it's love. Infatuation or True love? At this moment I can't tell the difference. I close my eyes and I'm there. I've been listening to my playlist ( a brief moment to recognize the loss of Steve Jobs who absolutely changed my life. Years ago I got an iPod for my birthday and at the time I had no idea how much I needed one – so my thanks and prayers are with him. ) Back to my point ... I'm listening to a song by Ryanhood - Born To Run To You - and there is this moment where Pachelbel - don't know which one - is blended into the song and when I hear it, it takes my breath away. That's how I feel being back with Melanie. Corny or Goofy - I don't care.

What I do say is that writing is a leaning experience and though I am not necessarily making the same mistakes - I'm finding new ones. There will always be something to learn.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Editing Nightmares

I got back the first edited section of Moon Over Monsters. YIKES!
When I say I have a very rocky relationship with commas it is an understatement! I am being nice. I used to understand. I graduated from high school and college and am reasonably rational so why ... why is it so difficult? People say ... just put a comma where you take a breath. HA! First, when I speak I don't breathe and second ... it's not that easy.

I cannot appreciate Jill enough!

Years ago when Jill edited Living Lies the first time she gave me a list of rules - and let me just say here, I tried! I bought books with worksheets and I really attempted to learn. But this is the problem - it's all too abstract. I'm a numbers person, not to say I love math but at least it's consistent. 2+2 and all that.

I guess my point is if you're like me, don't let grammar is hold you back ... or if you're exactly opposite (and I can see this more) and you get too tied up in being completely correct you'll have a hard time finishing a book.

It is all about teamwork! We each have our strengths and we all need help. What I love about Jill is that she's honest. She isn't out there to spare my feelings or give me false compliments. I trust her. Any grammatical change she suggests - I make without question. And I'm not sucking up ... she'll never read this - if she did it would be smoother and sound better!

I got lucky. She read Living Lies and I could tell by her comments that she 'got' it - she 'got' me and my style and the characters. How do you find that? Try out different editors and don't settle on just anyone with a red pen.

Best of luck and I hope you all find your own Jill.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I love to watch people - sometimes I find myself captivated and staring. It can be embarrassing but the drooling aspect of my daze has gotten better. Though I have to say I am absolutely sick of "reality" tv. It all seems so fake and when the ratings dip the insanity picks up. I understand why we have to have it - over a hundred channels of cable television - still 24 hours in a day - and that means a lot of crap to watch. Quality programming is too expensive so we get stuck with shows featuring people who should never have the attention of the public.

Why am I so against shows I don't watch? I don't know. It's part of a personality flaw. I get really hot and heated over things that just don't matter. I call it ... Strong Feelings About Nothing! And sometimes I find myself passionate and ready to battle over a blip.

How about you - have you got Strong Feelings About Nothing?
I have at least a dozen.

Take care,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Appreciate Time!

Why when you're an independent writer no one appreciates your time? I realize I don't have a monthly release and I don't write essays or articles so it may not seem to some that I am busy.

Today for example I call my mom - not unusual we talk daily, twice a day, three times ... whenever the whim takes hold but today! She says "I need you to come over and shred my 40 years of old paperwork."

Seriously! Suitcases of old statements, cancelled checks and even ... yes! A file titled "Worthless Receipts" - Really? I just started a new book and I've got twins, four dogs, dinners daily (which I hate) and about a thousand chores that I put aside because they're just no fun. But even my least interesting thing to do is better than shredding ancient documents!

And I love the "if you don't have anything better to do" - Yes! I have better things to do but you are my mother and ... I shredded the first of many file folders dated 1988.

Time is essential and prioritizing is crucial. But the biggest waste of precious time is having your computer crash! Happened yesterday. My husband asks, "how can I help?" Very nice but he doesn't understand my need for violence at that moment, not late involvement. Now all of a sudden it's his fault - don't know why but I'm creative and can come up with something.

How easy it is to say ... back up your work. I do, in fact that's what I was doing when I lost it! Don't judge, don't hate and don't forget to take a breath. Most likely what I lost wasn't as magnificent as I remember it to be. But now I will never know.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Starting The Third Book Of The Series

On Thursday I started Book 3 of The Melanie Ward Novels. To open a new page and see that big white screen staring at me is an odd feeling. Not scary - which is what I'd think but WOW! Wow, what the heck am I going to do? And I have to get it done by ... when?

The bright white page isn't where this book starts - it started months ago, thinking about what happened to Melanie when she got back from Africa. It's not square one but ... pretty close. To put images into words, the right words is a big deal. My goal for Book 3 is to visualize every scene. Which I do but this book I want to be transported with every sentence. I want to laugh with Trish and I want Melanie to learn something ... so many hopes for her and those characters around her that have been holding steady in that white space ... the hiatus is over.

For my last two books - Second Chance and Moon Over Monsters - I had outlines waiting in the wings but not this time! And last week I was in a mood - sad? Not exactly just down and there's always something to feel about ... birthday, finishing a book, starting a new one, low sales - just a feeling of am I moving in the right direction with my life? Big, unanswerable questions. There is still residue of those emotions but ...

Happy Autumn -

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cost to Benefit

Okay, so the book signing was Saturday and I did a neighborhood experiment. Background: I live in a very community oriented neighborhood - we have a name, lawns and a mixture of long-time residents and young families.

So with $40 out pocket expense and 2 hours/40 minutes of my time I set out to deliver flyers. I put them on the doors the morning before the signing. I didn't count the exact number but my estimate is approximately 250 flyers/homes.

What was I expecting? If I am honest I would say 10 people - I'm not a dreamer but even my rational mind was disappointed. 3 neighbors. That is just over 1% - but it is also three people who didn't know about me on Thursday.

So there you go -- it's an idea and if it's worth it to you and I'm not saying it isn't -- 1%.

Brighter Side - my ya is off and running. Delivered to the awesome Jill as I type - it is crunch time and as soon as she's done my job starts back up. I really hope she likes it!!

Tomorrow I am taking the day off - it's my birthday and I'm shutting down the computer - I will keep thinking because Thursday is the start of Melanie Ward Book 3!! Mentally it is all plotted out and Melanie has different adventures waiting for her.

For my 3 neighbors and those that couldn't make the signing -- Thank You! Your support matters.

Another year older and it only feels like a day,

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gotta Get the Words Out!

Book Signing!
Saturday at Clues Unlimited 
3146 E. Fort Lowell 

So how does a single author, without a big house behind her, publicize her appearances? Get creative.
I know there are online sites and all the social networking tools -- those are the first that come to mind.

But let us not forget the good old fashioned method - door-to-door sales. There are 300 homes in my neighborhood and my book signing is about 100 yards away ... Here is where one girl with flyers and an active neighborhood wears out the soles of her shoes.

Could this be any more grass roots?
I get exercise, my covers get noticed, my name gets out there and who knows I might get some sales out of it! I will let you know how it goes.

I've been thinking about taking up meditation - but first I'm going to let my kids try it out. If it works for them and they're at peace, maybe I'll get some quiet!

All about little steps and small changes.

Deep breaths,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An 8 Step Process ... or is it!

I'm just about done going through my young adult - seriously it will be ready for edit next week! Holy Moly! It's going really well but I am not ready to say Smooth Sailing, yet -- one never knows what's beyond the horizon. I've even got a title - that I'm going to keep under wraps until it is a definite go.

Every author has their own process - mine is - 1. write the outline (which really is the story - I don't do chapters stuff until later) all the way through to the end - 2. go back and fill in the story trying to use all senses and making certain the timeline is right (chapters go here) - all the way through to the end - 3. read through fixing small errors, getting rid of non-esssentials, clarifying confusing sentences and general tweeking - 4. give to the awesome and amazing Jill - 5. receive back about 10k errors to fix and one last chance to adjust anything - 6. hand it back to Jill - 7. get it back and fix for the final time, then ...  8. out of my hands - until dust jacket and the cover art, photo, marketing, book signings - you get the picture.

After all that I'm a little sad. I thought I was closer to the end ... if there ever is an end.

And as a side note -- Can I just ask all the older men of the world - Stop Using Right Guard! It stinks and it doesn't make you smell good! That spray stuff sticks in my nose, throat and I can taste it for hours. YUCK! They walk around in a aerosol bubble knocking out people along the way. Nuff said.

Great days to you,

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Do You Know What Your Children Are Reading?

Have you read what your kids are reading? Because all Young Adult books are not created equally. The pendulum swings from tame to yikes!

I read the popular YA novel over the past couple of years. I wanted to know the market, the readers - which is not limited to kids - and I wanted to know the guidelines. It's a great genre because anything is possible. It's a area that accepts the impossible, the incredible and there are no limits to the imagination. With a YA you can suspend belief for 300 pages and expand your mind.

Read to your kids, read what they are reading - create a new generation of readers.

Kate Mathis

Friday, September 2, 2011

Myth Busters – An Author's Perspective

"Write What You Know"

What kind of advice is that? I know it's come out of the most famous, popular and award winning authors since the beginning of time but ... I have to disagree. (non-fiction being the exception) What if what you know isn't interesting? What if you feel the calling to write about a race car driver? You're half way there, you've driven a car. The racing part ... you can learn!

There are no limitations to your imagination!

If everyone followed that philosophy of write what you know, we'd never have great works like ... Superman, the Little Mermaid, Journey to the Center of the Earth. You'd have boxers writing boxing literature and inmates writing murder mysteries because who else would admit to have experience in dolling out death? Oops, I think OJ did do that.

Imagination and the internet. That is what you need. So all you science fiction authors who've never ridden on the Space Shuttle ... relax, let out a huge sigh of relief knowing that you don't have to spend a fortune to be a Cosmonaut! You just need a computer and a vivid imagination.
And when you bump into the submission guidelines that ask why are you qualified to write about interplanetary travel know that if not you, who? John Glenn? Pretty sure his was an autobiography.

As the author of a spy series, I'm not at liberty to explain how I get my plot lines and that's what I say in my query letter. What spy is going to lay out the truth just to get published? Besides, who knows ... maybe I am a secret agent! Does it matter?

Take care and write what you love - if you know it, excellent!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Earth Shattering News

My Earth Shattering News is to all first time authors ...

Have a hook.

I've been scouring websites looking for that magic combination and truthfully I have only found tidbits of information that I can use and put into practice. Lately, looking for a publicist all I hear is "What's her hook?" Even if they say the love the book, it's not enough. And here is the rub ... I have no hook. Do you?
Our first place to start is a trip through memory lane to seriously consider all the real best 'hooks' of the 20th century.

Angela Ashes - he wrote for 30 years before he was published. I'm sorry but ... I don't want that.
Harry Potter - she wrote in a pub, broke with her daughter asleep in the stroller. Well, I wrote at a McDonald's while the girls slept in their beds. Count?
What about the people who were homeless, addicts or near death ... I haven't got any of that and I'm grateful.
Twilight - three months after she finished her first book there was a bidding war and we all know the rest of the story. Maybe there's something there we don't know.
Any others?
A quick recap ... because I've been responsible I'm uninteresting. That sucks.
I could be bad ... but tattoos look like they hurt. Motorcycles with the high handlebars seem completely uncomfortable. Alcohol gives me a headache. Speeding tickets are a waste of money.
Wait! I have lived in my car. But it was just over night when the hotel in San Diego gave away my room because we got there after 9pm.
Near death? I saw Eat, Pray Love.
An affair. Why? No one is better than Brent.
An eating disorder. Only if I could choose where I'd loose the weight.
Religion and politics are too heated and I could never even dream to out do them in being bad.

I think I may be stuck at boring. If you knew me ... you'd know I'm not boring but I've got nothing but my word to back that up. My goal for the rest of the week is to figure out my 'hook' - even if I haven't done it yet - next week I start. I sure hope it's not dangerous or expensive or painful. And I draw the line at being mean – not even for the best hook in the world.

How about you? Are you going to search for your hook?
Well, I wish you luck and success with all of your dreams.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Getting Ready

As part of my getting out there while having a great time campaign I've signed up for a evening hosted by a local radio station. Crazy? Perhaps.

It's a girls only, over 21 Slumber Party at a Westin here in town. 1,000+ women all ready to have a good time with vendors ranging from nail salon to plastic surgery. There is only one author and though I will be standing in front of my table I fully intend on having fun, selling books and meeting people. Not to mention I get to hang out with three enormously important people - Amy, Angie and Sharon!

We can now accept credit cards which is huge! I've got bottles of wine as giveaways for stopping by the table. A giant dish of candy (hey, I'm a girl and I know what matters). Melanie Ward Banners for both books, book marks, Kindle labels - for those e-readers and plenty of books.

So, I'm excited and crossing my fingers - though to define success solely on the almighty dollar is ... justifiable!

Wishing all of you great success in all of your crazy ideas,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Next Level

It's true I've been plugging along. Mostly writing with less effort put into marketing the books. And the truth is that I am happy with how well the story is being received. But the other side of that same truth is that we've sort of pushed the boundaries of what we can do, how far we can take the book.
The question then is what's the next step?


1. Part of me has been thinking that maybe the YA due out in December will help get me in the visibility of a big publisher. We'll lose control but my books will be opened up to another world of people we can't get it to.
2. We could hire a publicist. How/where do we go about finding one that can really do what we want them to do? Involved with this decision is ... trust and a lot of money.
3. And I haven't really exhausted the online market potential.

That leaves me scratching my head. What do we do next? I am not alone in this question - I've done my research - and maybe I'm even more confused because of it.

I think I will try all three of the above. I guess I forgot that was an option.

As a side note = book 3 is plotted out. It's fun and exciting and I can't wait - new people, old people and really great things are in store for Melanie.

See you later,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Signings

So, it was a big week last week. Live TV was pretty awesome! I think I could get used to that gig. <>

We had the first book signing for Second Chance at Mostly Books on Saturday. <>

Some family were there, which that support is alway appreciated. A really cool thing was that two women who purchased Living Lies at its very first book signing in 2009 showed up! So Great - I only wish there'd been more time to actually talk with them.
I think for future events I want to have time set aside for afterwards to go out for drinks or just to chat and get to know people. What do you think? Anyone out there?
Anyway, a suggestion was made that "I pop these out faster" a suggestion which I am prepared to follow.
What's fun was asking what they think was going to happen in Book 2. I haven't heard back so here's hoping that they like Second Chance. What's hard is not spilling any book 2 secrets – mentally I've already moved on to Book 3 - still no title. I should've done the Janet Evanovich's number thing or Sue Grafton's alphabet titles - oh, well, too late.

The promotion machine is still churning out signings - Clues Unlimited on Sept 17th <> Bookman's pending and I've got a signing at Warwick's in La Jolla on November 13th! <>

As far as tips for writing - it's getting easier. With each book (just finishing YA fantasy) I'm getting smoother with the first drafts. There still is a huge process with editing and rewriting but I feel more confident with each step.

Thanks again to everyone who came to the book signing - it really is a pleasure to speak to you all again.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Live TV

Good morning - I'm off to do a spot on the local show Morning Blend!
Feeling pretty good about the whole thing ... waiting for the nerves to kick in.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Are You Observant?

I am a people watcher. I could spend hours sitting on a bench in front of a well populated, character filled environment. Today, on a beach a man with his diaper-only clad three year-old daughter sat feet behind me. I'd been enjoying the fun filled, crowded beach for two hours when he showed up with a hacking cough and a cell phone. His kid was running around and he was on his cell shouting about paying a woman $2,300 for "nothing". He'd sold his house and was cleaning out the garage ... yes, I know too much.
The point?
You can find personalities for your characters anywhere! When I want an annoying habit for a sub-character I will pull on my experience from today and there you have it ... an inconsiderate loud talker, a germ-infesting spitter or a disconnected dad.

Sometimes I would never be able to use some of the people I watch ... they are too over the top and unbelievable. I love those people!

I don't keep a notebook to write this stuff down - used to, but never cracked it open again. My advice, try keeping notes and see how it goes.

Happy writing,

Monday, August 1, 2011

Debunking the Myths

As I was writing my first book I heard a lot of rules about writing.
1. Write about what you know
2. If you want to write, write.
3. Don't quit your day job.
All of which I took as complete gospel. Until upon reflection I realized I had worked in a bank for nine years and what I knew ... was boring. After nine years palettes of money no longer held their appeal. What I found was interesting was a world beyond what I knew. After I had kids and daycare for two was going to deplete my bimonthly paycheck – I walked away from my day job with imagination intact and wanted to write.

So here's the thing about myths ... some are right and what you have to figure out is which ones are right for you? Pick and choose and throw the rest out the window.

My only advice would be to write what you like. It's a lot of work and you'll have way more fun if you're in love with your characters. Believe me ... these imaginary people become family.

Best wishes,

Friday, July 29, 2011

What's Your Idea For A Book?

When Living Lies came out I wondered ... of all the stories I could imagine, how did this one come to life? I started out with a completely different plot ... a couple on their honeymoon in Paris witness a murder. The premise was that they'd just purchased a new digital camera and ... accidentally filmed the killing.
Well, after writing out the flow chart for that story Melanie, the bride, was more capable and independent – eventually transforming into Spy Melanie. And Adam, groom, changed from the bumbling technical dope to a handsome chef. Truthfully I didn't know Adam was a bad guy until one morning I was writing and like a punch in the face it hit me! Of the many surprises I encountered during writing ... that's one of my favorites. It was really cool how he'd taken on a life and I was only the narrator.
So, whatever your plot is ... remember it is okay for it to change. Start off easy with a flow chart of what you think the story looks like. Continue from scene to scene and keep going until you feel the sigh of relief that "it's done".

Ever hear of The Morning Blend on Arizona's KGUN 9?
Well, watch on August 11 at 11am!
I'm excited and nervous but in a good way.

Take care,

Friday, July 22, 2011

A New Way To Think

Book stores are closing. Publishers are tightening their belts and what are writers left to do? How do we get our products into the hands of readers? Mark Twain had door to door salesmen selling Tom Sawyer. That was innovative and it worked! So, what are we – in 2011 – left to do?
I can reach millions from home and yet ... I am no Mark Twain. I knock my head on my keyboard trying to come up with a financially solid resolution.  It is easy to get discouraged. I've lost days this week researching but as good as the web is there is nothing compared to face to face contact.
My solution is not only to utilize online resources (more than just Facebook or Twitter) book clubs, writers associations and book reviewer but to get out of town and meet readers. It's a monetary investment but I'm signing up for Book Festivals. They're all over the nation and happen year long. Okay, so this isn't new. I'll admit it – I'm stuck in the box and though I try to feel for the edges I am locked in my thinking. I'm hoping that by making a move I will experience an epiphany, an awakening, people will read the books, love them and I'll be able to continue to write.

I have signed up to participate in KIIM FM's Shannon's Slumber Party. 1000 women at a local hotel for a giant sleep over - I'll have a table and books. It's different and truthfully it sounds like a blast and I'm excited to be involved.

I am open to suggestions, ideas and collaborations. I'll let you know where the festivals will be and how they work out for me.

Still thinking,

Friday, July 15, 2011

Query Letter Phobia

I'm not sure it's a real ailment, however, I'm starting to get hives. My third book has taken a different turn - Melanie has been left to her own devices for a time while I concentrate on a Young Adult novel. YA is such a great genre and I'm having fun but I'm closing in on the finish line and I am thinking about going with a different agency. That means the dreaded Query = Rejection Letter. I guess I could go for the completely unrealistic optimism but ... lets face it rejection is part of the process.
Living Lies got rejection slips and to say the mailbox becomes Enemy Number One is not an understatement. I know I am not alone, all of us who have opened our own self-addressed stamped envelope to find 1/8 of a sheet of paper to "apologize" for not being interested "at this time".  Maybe these days it's email but the wound still stings.

You could see the rejections as a sign of bravery and courage to put yourself out there but the truth is they just suck. The one thing I did learn is that I cannot constantly rewrite to fit one suggestion - be confident that someone will see into the heart of the story and all you need is that One! One perfect letter at the right time to the right person. That doesn't sound so difficult.

Wish me luck,
- Kate

Friday, July 8, 2011

5% of writing a book is the actual writing.

That's what I was told when Living Lies was first being released. I was offended. Really, all that effort, years of work and it was only worth 5%?

So, I've soften my heated outrage. Marketing, selling and promoting a book is a lot of work! And though I really like meeting people and hearing compliments ... it's hard. I'm not built for sales. I have to be prodded to ask for a review on Amazon or for a Like on Facebook. I just want people to read the books, to have a good time, to fall in love or in hate and to forget everything else for 400-ish pages.

Here in 2011 - I'm agreeing that 95% of the work is selling the book, but 95% of the fun ... is writing.

Now for my personality transformation - I'll be at Mostly Books 5th Saturday on 7/30 @ 1pm
Borders - Park Place  8/6 1-4
Mostly Books  8/13 2-3


Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy July and release of Second Chance!

I've been thinking about what I've learned - first there is no right way to write. That has been the most glaring fact I learned. After I started writing - and thought I was finished - the seminars I took described how a person should go about writing and most often they stated an outline. Outline. I tried an outline on Second Chance ... didn't work. Unless 'they' consider writing the basics of the plot, storyline, character development and a good 75% of the book as an outline ... then I failed that miserably. Because as I write the story comes out - not to say I don't know where I'm going, nope, I know. From thought process. I think and set up the environment, the atmosphere all in my mind then I write. And when I'm done - have completed the entire thing (maybe leaving the ending alone until I'm certain) then I go back through the entire manuscript and make changes, tweak, revise and all the rest - then give it to the awesome editor and she corrects my errors, gives me suggestions and is the base for gauging how the book is being taken. A couple of times she thought things that I didn't mean ... okay, changed. This works for me. It doesn't mean it's the right or wrong way - I just cannot plan out each chapter. Maybe one day I'll try it again and that will be the best book ever but for now ... it's just me and my thoughts.
I hope it helps.
Happy and safe 4th!


Friday, June 24, 2011


What's the point of reading? To take a break from your own set of problems - Right? To feel something, laugh, cry or get angry. In order to accomplish that ... readers need to be compelled by your characters. Either love or hate but they have to be relate-able. Personally, I really like books that make me laugh. And I don't like to read about things I watch on the evening news. Every writer has a different approach ...

So, what do you like to read?

– Kate

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Things I Didn't Know

I didn't know how tough it would be to get published. I knew it would be difficult but I wasn't ready for the complete rejection. Sending query letters out almost daily and getting response from maybe half. And the responses I did get were slips of paper, cut from 8.5 X 11, saying 'not at this time'. For awhile I changed the chapter, the query letter - I reviewed, enhanced and would receive another letter saying it was too enhanced, too reviewed.
I know it sounds trite but you've got to grow a thick skin and let someone else read the rejections. Keep the one (and you only need one) positive declarations of all your hard work. An agent that gets personal with their rejection isn't someone you'd want to work with anyway. Truly the writing is only a small part of the puzzle and there is so much more afterwards. Another thing I didn't know.
Someone told me that writing was 5% of the process and though I would raise that to at least 60% there still is that 40 that is killer!
Have confidence. Tell yourself daily that it is possible and keep writing.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Bad Advice I Recieved

So, like any novice author - I took a 'getting published' class at the community college. Being slow on the curve I went after I thought I was done with the book. I had written 60k words - imagine surprise when the instructor stated that 80k was the average. Okay, that isn't the bad advice. The bad advice was that he suggested that writers stop being readers as they are working – reasoning ... was not to be influenced by another's style. I took it to heart and stopped reading - which is difficult for someone who loves to read. Two years I walked away from bookstores. Then I couldn't stop myself and picked up The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. It was awesome and gave me more than a moments – Uh, oh! I cannot do that!!
Putting my insecurities aside – I continued writing and reading. And because I had learned my people so well - reading didn't influence my writing in any negative way. If anything - it made it better.

As a side note - I was able to catch up on 24 missed months or reading and loved almost every page of it!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The only way I was able to finish Living Lies was because I liked the story. It was something I would read.  There is just too much work to do if you and if you aren't interested in your characters – who will be? When I got bored I figured everyone else would be bored too and I shook it up. Even if this meant I discarded an entire chapter – whatever it took. There were scenes that were difficult to delete but for the sake of the story I had too. I can still imagine Trish using her physical therapy skills on Melanie – it was funny but in the end it had to go, it isn't about me.
In the end I think you should write what you would read – then you'll always have at least an audience of one.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Getting Started

I have to say that when I started Living Lies I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My background is in marketing not creative writing and maybe that was a good thing. I worked in banking for years – after having tested many other career options – and had always figured I'd go back after my twins were born. But when I got to that moment other factors had come into play and the decision to stay home was easy. When the girls were two I needed to do something! I was losing a part of who I am and I couldn't figure out a way to have it all. So, I picked up a pad of paper, a pencil and went on weekends to a fast food restaurant to sit and write. Thinking about Melanie and her life during the weekdays and writing it down on weekends – it became my escape from laundry, dishes and the constant needs of little ones. It was slow going but I learned a lot about writing and about Melanie. Not time wasted but time spent on character development – it's sort of a joke to make myself feel better.

Whatever time you have to give to writing - do it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Second Chance is Finished!

I have just finished the sequel to Living Lies. Second Chance is Book 2 in the Agent Melanie Ward Series. I am in the process of sending galleys out for review. Second Chance will be on sale everywhere – July 2011!