Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Our furry companions

If you follow my blog, you know I'm a cat lover, and you've read the stories about my entertaining cats. Life, as they say, moves on.

This month I had to say goodbye to my blonde assistant. For a dumpster rescue, I never expected she would live to ten years, much less to almost 20. She was 19 this past September, and full of life, if a step slower. She grew hard of hearing (there are very few cats you can actually sneak up on), and she had her off days as she became a "grandma cat." My heart is broken every time I look at the empty corner in my office, or touch her favorite blanket that became her "nest," her favorite place to sit in the whole house. She was a beautiful cat and very much a part of our family. She always welcomed the kids back home, and even the grandkids when most cats would hide from small children.

If you've ever wondered if you should adopt a pet, I'm here to tell you it is a rewarding experience, much like having children. There are the training issues, the messy times, but when you are still and they love you, there's no other feeling like it.

As she crosses the rainbow bridge to join the pets who have gone before her, I thank her for 19 years of love and companionship.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Snester (say what??)

While I was proof reading my latest work, I stumbled upon this word: snester. WHAT??

I seldom miss typographical errors while I'm writing thanks to the technology that points out errors immediately. Even after I've finished, I generally don't find more than three or four typos in the entire manuscript (not misuses, typos). So when I was reading and ran into this word, I was dumbfounded. What the heck was that word supposed to be? The obvious answer came to me after only a few short minutes.

It brought to mind a published book I read that had a similarly odd word. I spent way too much time looking for the post I wrote about that word, but it didn't take long to figure out that the author in that instance had replaced the word tuna in her manuscript. Instead of searching for the whole word tuna, she did a global replace, which inserted the substitute into the word for-tuna-tely, which turned it into something else entirely (which word escapes me at the moment). One would hope these types of things would jump out BEFORE publication.

paper wasp nest
Which brings me back to snester. I'd written about bees and wasps and hives, and one of my critique partners pointed out that wasps build nests, not hives. He was right, of course, so I did a search and replace for hive and replaced it with nest. And I forgot to enable "search for whole word only." The mystery word? S-hive-r. The plus side to my boo-boo was that I discovered that I'd overused the word shiver!

Aside from giving me a good laugh while I was proofreading, goofy made-up words are a good reminder to be careful when you do a search and replace! Check that little box that says "search for whole word only" or watch for "match case" in those instance where capitalization applies, as well.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The final curtain

It's done. The last Epitaph installment is with the editor. Bittersweet, when a series comes to an end.

With every ending comes a new beginning. My plan is to take the holidays off, catch my breath. Do all the things I've been putting off in the mad rush to finish, and yet another story is never far behind. I have thoughts of a new stand alone, and I have ideas for a new series. I'm also thinking of expanding my brand, for those folks who don't appreciate the steamy bits. With recent world events, I'm leaning to the sweeter side of romance. Can't say for sure until I sit down and write the darn things.

For this week, I'm going to hug my 19 year old "blonde assistant" cat. I'm going to clean my house. I'm going to do my Christmas shopping and I'm going to check my Christmas cookie recipes for the best ones to make this year on "cookie baking day." I'm going to clear more of my TBR list. So many great books from authors I admire and enjoy. And I'm looking forward to spending more time with my family and friends. For this week, I'm going to smile and appreciate all the little things and when I get my edits back on Friday, I will begin preparing Epitaph 7 for it's release in the new year.

Thanks to all of you for encouraging me to keep on keeping on!

Catch up on all the Epitaph books here

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Giving Thanks

It's always nice to take a minute out of our lives to give thanks for all we have. How appropriate that we have holiday for that!

I am thankful for my family - My husband. My children and the people they've chosen to spend their lives with. My grandchildren. My sisters. Aunt and uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins.

I am thankful to have had the opportunity to share my home with pets.

I am thankful for my friends.

I am thankful for the people who read my books. You have no idea how much it means to have someone appreciate the fruits of my labors of love.

I am thankful for my faith. I have been blessed, and on those days when I need to remind myself of that fact, I'm grateful to have blessings to count.

I am thankful for food on my table and continued health.

Wishing you all a
Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

If it's worth doing...

I'm very excited to tell you I've finished the first draft of Epitaph 7! That's when the real work begins, the checking through it for continuity and holes and "what was I thinking there?" The getting a finished product ready for the editor.

As I finish writing a book, my brain is usually spinning ahead to "what's next." In this case, I'd already decided to give myself a break over the holidays. Finish off Epitaph 7 and give my creative juices a breather. Wouldn't you know it, my imagination had other ideas. In between my OCD to finish what I have, I got excited to start in on my next project - except my next project would come with a February deadline. That's pretty ambitious, and for someone who was looking for time off, will I short-circuit myself? It would mean rushing through completing this one or rushing through writing the next one. This is where the old adage "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right" has been front and center in my head.

I always strive to bring the best product forward. The original Epitaph novel is an example of that. I started that book in 2009, but I couldn't get it right. Even I knew it wasn't working, but I couldn't let it go. It took me seven years to figure out what was wrong and fix it, but rather than try to force a sub-par book to market, I took my time. I'm pleased with the end result, and the rest of the series that it spawned, and I'm glad I took the time to get it right. Likewise, I can't rush the final installment to market until it's done "right," and I don't want to hurry the new story at the risk of making a muddle of it. Once I start the new project, I'm not sure I'll make the February cut-off, but the new story is speaking to me. In a loud voice. Clearly. So it will be written. If I miss the cut-off, I'll wait for my next opportunity to present it, or I'll follow Plan B (yes, there actually is a Plan B).

The moral of my story (and shouldn't there always be a moral?) is to follow your heart, and if something is worth doing, it's worth doing well/right, even if it takes a little extra time.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

When the antagonist is a family member

As I was working through plot points on my latest work in progress, I was trying to decide my antagonist's character arc -- and struggling somewhat since the antagonist is a family member. Coincidentally, I was concurrently reading a book by another author in which the antagonist was also a family member. Brilliant! I figured I could see how she handled the situation, even in a different genre, to see if I might be able to apply similar tactics.


Having a family member as an antagonist opens a whole new can of worms. In the leisure reading I was doing, the author actually killed the guy off! Family member and all! The hero was conflicted on several levels about what to do with him and actually told his law enforcement friends not to kill the only family he had left. Granted, the villain was beyond redemption and in a tough spot, but there were so many other ways the author might have dispatched him. Let's just say I was horrified at the route she took. The guy had assassins after him, for heaven's sake, and she let the hero mortally wound him and one of the law enforcement guys (who'd been asked not to kill him) shoot him dead, all while the assassins had a gun trained on the him. ARGH! My sense of honor was offended. My sense of "this is fiction! You get to decide how this man dies" was offended. Of all the options... and then "the hero is now free to live happily ever after." WAIT! WHAT? This is his last remaining family! Despite the antagonist being beyond redemption, there were other ways to dispatch him that might be less traumatic to the hero and the heroine he was trying to protect. Needless to say, I will not be applying any of these options to my antagonist. Which takes me back to how best to deal with dispatching MY antagonist.

In my work in progress, the antagonist is evil, but she's in over her head. I'm thinking she might get jail time, but I don't think its serious enough for her to be killed over (contrary to the book I just finished - that guy definitely deserved what he got, but as a reader, I would have preferred by other hands). So I'm back to muddling around inside my own head meting out justice to the bad guy to the satisfaction of our protagonists.

Sometimes this author stuff is heady!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween!

Are you a Halloween ghoul? Or a denier?

In my experience, people seem to go all in, or ignore Halloween completely. During my walks around the neighborhood, I encounter displays of giant spider webs, headstones with clever names (Ivan Churblood), ghosts, witches, and a host of other decorations. Me? I'm lucky if I remember to take out my haunted house candy holder (shout out to my crafty sister who made it for me!) Outside decorations? I'm boring. I don't even put out a pumpkin anymore.

I enjoy the spooky movies - not the slasher flicks, but the ones that rely on your imagination to scare the poop out of you. Which brings my to my newest binge watch - The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix (thanks, Stephen King, for the recommendation). I was a fan of the original black and white movie (the remake, not so much), and while the series does introduce tangible ghosts (which is less scary), it's an interesting interpretation of the book. Another of my favorite old time scary movies is The Uninvited.

And then there are the spooky books (insert EPITAPH series plug here - although my ghosts are less scary than the people they haunt). The book that scared me to read was The Amityville Horror. Couldn't have it in the same room with me when I finished (although I was fairly young when I read it). I recently saw a funny Halloween post where someone said their mother-in-law had read the Exorcist and had a similar reaction, threw the book into a lake. The person who posted thought it would be funny to buy another copy, soak it for a day, and put it somewhere her mother-in-law would find it. The book that wouldn't die!

What are your favorite Halloween traditions? Reading? Decorating? Binge watching? Or nothing at all?

The Epitaph Series