Saturday, April 30, 2011


A writer spends a lot of time waiting.

Waiting for word from a publisher or agent to give the thumbs up it lives or down it dies in the arena. This is the nail biting, on the edge of your seat kind of wait.

Of course the waiting game isn’t quite as bad as it used to be. Traditionally a writer would have to send a manuscript though the mail to the publisher. The wait for their decision could be anywhere from six months to a full year. Depending on how high the stack of submissions they’ve received is.

Over the years ideas have changed, some of which has come with the advantages that technology has gifted to us. Many publishers now accept electronic submissions. Being able to submit by email gets the writer’s masterpiece into hopefully the right hands faster.

Still once a writer hits send they have to wait for reply. Though that wait isn’t as long as it used to be. For some it is still a few months before you can get word others a matter of days or a couple of weeks.

A vast difference from, really, not that many years ago. If the reply is a rejection the writer goes back though the manuscript to determine why their baby was thrown out with the bathwater. Then begins the waiting process all over again with the next submission.

There is one hope to all this waiting. Good things come to those who wait. It’s cliché I know, but absolutely true. One day after waiting and waiting the contract comes in the mail or the first check for royalties.

The nail biting and worry is forgotten and everything is as it should be. We just have to wait a little longer for it to happen. So have patience.

**Part of the A to Z Challenge… Letter P**


Friday, April 29, 2011

On Top of the World

Photo by Elise VanCise  2011

The Ferris wheel turned the car slowly skyward. His hands gripped the safety bar until his knuckles turned white. Heights were not his thing. The best he could handle was changing a light bulb. Now here he sat on a bench climbing up above the highest roof top he could see.

He tried to just look straight ahead but that wasn’t working. His line of vision kept changing. Closing his eyes made him feel woozy with the gentle rhythmic swing of the car and the sensation of rising. Focus on something, just one thing and watch it until we stop.

Searching he found a roof top. Christmas lights still adorned the edge .There were some leaves and maybe a darker spot where the roof needed repair. This was better. He could make it to the top. Banishing that last idea of being on the top he concentrated harder on the roof.

Dude, you really need to clean out those gutters. The car started to slow then stop. Stop! We can’t stop!  We’re on top of the world here!  

The giant wheel creaked a bit in the soft breeze. Oh God get me down from here in one piece and I’ll be in the front pew this week. I swear. 

His eyes darted to the next sound and he realized he could see out over the entire town. Panic set in he was sitting 100 feet in the air. With nothing but a skinny metal pipe keeping him from plummeting to his death.
A bird few by. Birds! We’re the same height as birds fly! He watched the wings stretch as the creature soared passed them. It was actually kind of cool watching it. He was seeing things from a bird’s eye, literally.

He could see everything from here. Even some of the town beyond the fair grounds.  The gardens nearby were in full bloom, the flowers making a pattern from here. Cool that looks like a starfish and a rabbit. I wonder if they meant for that to happen. Hey there’s my wife and son coming out of the fun house. 

He started to relax, just enough to keep from bending the metal bar. This was kind of fun. He looked down at some of the other rides watching the faces of people as they looked up and screamed in terror on the roller coaster. Behind the tilt-a-hurl was an interesting scene.

Wait a minute. That’s my oldest son with that cheerleader he likes.  He almost leaned forward a bit to get a better look at what they were doing behind the ride. Then it happened he watched them get closer until their lips touched.

His son’s first kiss was a cheerleader. Before he could stop himself he shouted. “Way to go, boy!”

He sank back in the seat afraid his son would look up at his exclamation. Then he was saved by the ride starting back up and moving around. The trip down wasn’t too bad. Except for that last good wind that rocked his seat making his fingers go all white knuckled again.

When he stepped off his youngest son and wife were waiting for him. She grinned proudly. “I didn’t think you’d really ride the Ferris wheel.”

He puffed up a bit quite proud of himself for conquering his fear… sort of.  “Are you kidding? Up there your on top of the world.”

Stop by Outlaw's pRose for another Ferris wheel adventure
**Part of the A to Z Challenge 2011...Letter O**


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Not Real

She walked though the apartment counting her boxes making sure everything was there. Her first place out on her own. It had been a hard decision to make leaving home for a promotion in the big city.

Everything was there, now the fun part. The kitchen was the place to start. She walked in and opened the first box on the counter. After wiping out the drawers and the cabinets she began putting away dishes and silverware.

Reaching up to set the serving plate on the high shelf she felt a soft breeze though the back of her hair. The room was suddenly chilled. Rubbing her arms she looked at the windows, they were closed. “The air vents must be pointed this way.”

She checked the windows then went back to the counter to put the last stack of dishes up. They were already in the cabinet. She doesn’t remember doing it though. She didn’t, she set them down to check the windows.

After a moment she laughed, “I must be more tired than I thought from the drive up here.”

After closing the cabinet doors she made her way to the bedroom. The bright lights from the street below light up the room. “That won’t do, daylight isn’t supposed to be for another seven hours.”

She opened another box and pulled out a thick blanket then turned to put it over the window. She stopped and gasped as a man shaped shadow stepped away from the window.

The blanket fell to the floor as she ran from the apartment into the hall.

A male voice uttered a surprised, “whoa.” 

When she bumped into him she jumped back with a squeak of a scream.

The man held out his hands palms up showing he meant not harm. “Hey, I’m your neighbor, Jack. Are you okay, is something wrong?”

She isn’t sure of the stranger then sees the bag of groceries in his hand. It couldn’t have been him in her bedroom. She grabbed his sleeve. “There’s someone in my bedroom… ... I think. I saw a tall shadow he, he, he moved toward me.”

Jack gave a soft nod as he placed a comforting hand over hers. “Would you like me to go check it out?”

Before she could give a verbal answer to call the cops she felt her head nod.

Jack handed her the bag of groceries and grinned softly as he walked into the apartment with caution. He moved though the living room to between the kitchen and bedroom. He felt a chill in the air. A glance at the thermostat told him the air conditioning was turn off.

He shook his head. It was cold outside he could still be chilled from being out in the weather. He looks into the darkened bedroom and sees a darker shadow in the corner by the window.

“Hey! Who’s in there? Someone in there?” When there was no sound or movement he walked into the bedroom and looked around. An uneasy feeling as he moved around the bed to examine the corner. Jack plugged in the lamp and turned it on. The room was empty except for the boxes and bags.

He couldn’t help the glance to that one corner of the room that seemed dark even with the light on. He almost ran into her as he walked out into the kitchen. With a startled laugh he grinned.

“It’s okay. Might have been a shadow from the street, they can look pretty weird on the walls sometimes at night.”

She laughed at herself face blushed pink. “I’m so embarrassed, thank you for going to all the trouble. I’m Emily by the way.”

He grinned and took the hand she offered for a shake. “Nice to meet you, Emily. Don’t be embarrassed, new place and all can be kind of spooky.”

He sees her cell phone on the counter he programmed in his number then held it out to her. “If you need anything just call. I’m in number 34 two doors down. And I’m a chronic night owl so it doesn’t matter what time it is if you need to talk, or a hand with something heavy.”

She grinned and nodded. “Thanks, and thanks for coming to my rescue.”

After walking Jack out with his groceries, Emily went back to the bedroom. She covered the window and got ready for bed. When she turned out the light she saw the same shadow for a moment.

With a gasp she turned the light back on and shook her head. “Nothing there, it’s not real.”

Exhausted from the move and excitement she turned out the light and lay back. As her eyes drifted shut she saw a large shadow figure step away from the wall. Tightening her lids against the possibilities she hugged her pillow. “It’s not real. It’s not real.”

Or was it.

***Part of the A to Z Blog Challenge 2011... Letter N***


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Movies About Writers

Writers write stories but they make great characters too. Quite a few movies have been made with writers as the staring character. Here are a few of my favorites. 

Swimming Pool
Mystery Writer Sara Morton needs a change of view. Her publisher offers the use of his French villa for her to write and relax. (yes at this point I’m insanely jealous.)  The beautiful villa has a large swimming pool which becomes a common element between Sara and the young Julie claiming to be the publisher’s daughter shows up out of the blue, bringing chaos and intrigue into Sara’s well ordered world.

I enjoyed watching Sara go from being a strict well ordered woman to finding her self doing things far out side her comfort zone.

Secret Window 
Demented John Shooter accuses mystery writer Mort Rainey of stealing his story. Claiming he wrote it first. Shooter demands restitution and for Rainey to tell the world the truth.

Through out the film you’re never quite sure what the truth is. There are hints of it if you really know where to look. Johnny Depp portrays Rainey with is usual witty and entertaining way. With a conclusion with a twist that will tickle any mystery buff.

State of Play
This is the American adaptation of the British series. Of course there is no way to pack all the great stuff from the series into a 2 hour movie but I think we did a pretty good job representing the spirit of it with this version.

Russell Crowe (*sighs dreamily*) plays journalist Cal McCaffery. He’s assigned to a story which involves his old college buddy turned politician, played by Ben Affleck. The more Cal digs into the truth the more dangerous it becomes. For he and his side kick Della.

Of course it doesn’t help that Cal, had an affair back in the day with said buddy’s wife. You’ve got a powerful story of politics, cover ups, romance, and murder. Who done it, who’s still doing it, and who’s going to cover it up.

True Crime
Clint Eastwood plays the hard core, boozing, skirt chasing reporter Steve Everett. Everett is sent to San Quentin to interview a man on death row. The inmate claims to be innocent, the evidence against him was all circumstantial.

Something about the story rings in Everett’s ears. He sets out to find the truth, did the man awaiting execution in a matter of hours murder that woman or was it mistaken identity. Something else that appeals to me, this story is based on a real life event. It’s a thrilling tale not just about the inmate and his truth but the revelations Everett has about his own life.

There you have it four films to sink your writer’s teeth into. So pop some corn and heat up the DVD player for a night of great writing on screen.

**Part of the A to Z Challenge 2011 Letter M**  


Lee Child’s Jack Reacher

This week on the Book Blogger Hop we are to pick a character from a book we’re currently reading or have recently read. I’m in the middle of The Hard Way by Lee Child.

Which lets me slip this under L for the A to Z Blog Challenge. Yeah I know cheating a smidge and getting a 2 for 1 here.

I really enjoy these thrillers though staring the character Jack Reacher. Jack is a former MP, tall, dark, and handsome. What’s not to like? Okay that’s from a girl’s perspective. For all readers Jack Reacher offers intelligence, awareness, a deep pocket, and a knack for finding himself knee deep in a situation.

He doesn’t just use his brawn and prowess with weapons to get though the ordeal. Jack uses the mental skills he’s developed over the years as well as his muscle. He’s got a rough edge but underneath you can see a man with heart enough to stand by someone in need.

Lee Child has a great writing style that keeps me turning the pages. Jack has a few entanglements with the ladies here and there but these books aren’t about romance. They’re about the mystery and thrill. I look forward to more Reacher books. A strong character to keep a girl warm at night.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Kiss Me, Kill Me

Ben stood for a while behind the empty bar trying to gather himself. This argument was bad. They’ve had one of those so called up and down relationships from the beginning. Their craving and passion for each other always won out in the end. This time… this time he was afraid that wasn’t enough. How could it have gotten so out of hand?

A heavy sigh fell from his chest as he looked around the room. This old saloon had been a wedding gift from her. Closing his eyes for a moment he could still hear her laughter as they played together, making love on this very spot on the bar.

He pulled a bottle of whiskey from the shelf below and poured the amber liquid into the glass. He held it up to the light, lifted it to his lips and emptied it in one swallow.

The liquid burned its way to his stomach. He looked down at his wedding ring gleaming in the light. Eternal love, that’s what it was supposed to represent. She hardly wore her ring anymore.

Maybe she felt it was more a shackle than a sentiment. He loved her so deeply. His ring starting to show signs of wear was a symbol of not just what he felt for her. It was a promise that neither of them ever had to be alone again.

His hand clinched around the half empty bottle his mind turned back to the day just before they met. He had gone to one of his warehouses for delivery of a weapons shipment.

He’d been an arms dealer then. Ben constantly walked outside the limits of the law, with a feral pride. He knew something was off about that deal.

Arriving at the warehouse he felt the prickly sensation at the back of his neck that told him it was going to go bad. All though the talks he felt… something. Before he could address it the buyers decided to play games and the deal went south, fast.

Luckily he was faster. He never felt more alive than he did with a gun in his hand. A breath later only his men were standing, still, the sensation didn’t go away. He glanced up at the catwalks. Even sent one of his men to investigate.

Nothing was found, not a box out of place.

That night he’d gone to the hotel lounge to relax. Then she sat beside him, eyes so blue he could get lost for hours. He tried to seduce her but thinking back she was the seducer.

Confident, sexy, unafraid of whatever he might ask of her. He took a few more long draws from the bottle remembering how she touched him. He had no idea who she was, only that he wanted her.

Ben lifted the bottle to his lips again and retreated to the small apartment on the second floor. He set the bottle down to pull off his coat and boots. When he reached for it again he saw the scar on his palm. Their first real argument.

She had told him the truth, that prickle on the back of his neck a year ago in the warehouse had been her. She was there, hidden amongst the crates rifle aimed at his head.

She had been watching him for months. Following him, waiting for the right moment to do the job she’d been hired for. The moment came and went. Her finger never squeezed that trigger.

He’d grown so angry at this revelation his grip tightened on the glass in his hand until it shattered. It had cut deep, bits embedding in his flesh. Rage of betrayal filled him but at the moment he’d stepped forward to grab her, he knew he would forgive her.

They were cut from the same cloth. Maybe that’s why they argued and made each other so frustrated.

He’d asked her why? She’s never been able to tell him why she didn’t kill him that day.

He had to forgive her, his craving for her ran too deep. The next morning he gave her a puppy and asked her to stay with him. To be his wife, though he couldn’t quite say those words.

So much has changed since then. So much pain has passed their way. Maybe things would be better if she had. She would be happier with out him to cause her so much heartache.

 He chuckled as he took a deep draw from the whiskey bottle. One would think that an outlaw running guns would make a good husband to an assassin.

Reclined on the sofa he could still feel her kiss. Passionate, hungry, almost feral with need that matched his own.  It had taken a year for them to realize they really felt something for each other. She found his heart, something he didn’t think existed. But why… why didn’t she kill him in the warehouse.

He wondered if she still thought about it. Finishing the job. He was sure he’d given her enough reason to.

None of their problems mattered in the end.  Ben loved her. He was so affected by her when she was away from him he couldn’t eat or sleep until she was back by his side. He would sacrifice anything to make her happy again. Once last kiss, then she could pull the trigger.

There was a prickling at the back of his neck as he heard the door open behind him. Her hand rested on his shoulder. The matching band to his own resting on her third finger. He grinned softly as his hand covered hers. “Kiss me, then you can kill me.”

 Be sure to visit Outlaw's pRose for the companion piece "Kiss you , Kill you" by Rose Wade. 
  **Part of the A to Z Blog Challenge 2011... Letter K** 


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Judging a book by its cover

I admit I do. Many, many times I have picked up a book because the cover caught my eye. The cover for a book is like the model for the swimsuit.

The thin sexy beauty gets up there and struts her stuff across the stage. Clad in the designers swimwear. Sure we like the bikini, but what sells us on going to the store and trying it on is the model.

She shows us how good it makes her look and we think, “I would look so hot in that.”  At least until we get into the dressing room. Once we get our not so modelish form squeezed into the bits of spandex will we know for sure if we really like it.

The same goes for a book cover we look at it and say ooo that’s a great cover. Caught by color or image and reach out to “try it on.”

Opening the book becomes stepping into the dressing room. We read the synopsis, the first few pages. Maybe give it the old page 99 test. Then we know if it’s a keeper or makes our butt look too big.

But it was the cover that got us that far. The best covers are simple, to the point. Eye catching colors or a stark image that says, “I’m the perfect fit.”

As a designer myself it’s very important to find the perfect image to capture the feel or meaning of the book. I want the reader to know what kind of story their looking at. At the same time I want it to grab attention and say, “Pick me, pick me!”

Not an easy task. Having a good designer is as important as having a good editor. You want a designer that will choose materials to bring your work to life.

Readers judge books by their covers, just like we do clothing on a model. The perfect cover design is just like that swimsuit. It will make you look sleek and sexy for all to oogle on the beach… er the bookshelf.

This post is part of the Fellow Writer’s Blog Hop and the A to Z challenge  Be sure to check out the other great blogs on the hop!

If you would like to see my design work please go to EV Designs.

Happy hoppingJ


Monday, April 11, 2011

Internet Connections

Remember the days when the only way to get on line was to use a dial up service. There were only maybe two companies to choose from at the time. And look at us now.

Businesses that operate only in this cyber world. Places like Facebook and message boards for us to connect with people around the globe. The internet has lengthened our reach to beyond our imaginations.

It was in November of 2007 I made a very important connection. I met my best friend and Sister in Heart Rose. We’ve never met face to face but we talk every day by the magic of the internet.

When it behaves that is. Technology is still fickle when it comes to keeping a signal though a thunder storm or the power goes out. (that latter happens way to often at my house, when you live in the woods you sit in the dark.. a lot)  But rarely do we miss a time to chat.

Rose is one of the sweetest most generous people I know. She’s been there for me in the darkest of hours. Even though we have lived an entire country apart. She lived in Washington and I live in Florida. Now we’re just a few states apart, her hubby is a military man stationed in Virginia.  

We found so much in common and things that gave us a bond into sisterhood.  Our love for all things Russell Crowe was a big bonding point of course ;) Being moms of two boys the same age that I think were one boy split in some kind of  Star Trek transporter accident. And lastly a love of writing. We started writing together on the fan fiction board where we met. Then created our own board, then grew from there. 

We write every day together. Sometimes serious, sometimes just for kicks. Rose is a talented writer. I always look forward to her next work. She has a gift for capturing the emotion of the moment in prose.

One of the best things about our friendship is the honesty we have. We can tell each other something stinks or just isn't quite right. Or in my case Rose reminds me of all the grammatical taboos. I'm sure I've given her a few gray hairs at the expense of my tense switching alone. But I am more than happy to hear her say uh... you did it again, instead of a yeah that's great when it's really not. 

It’s a wonderful feeling to have someone you know you can trust so completely. Someone who doesn’t judge, who will encourage. I hope I do the same for her. The last couple of years have been really hard on my side of life. If it weren’t for Rose. I’m not so sure I could make it though. Thank God for those internet connections.

Everyone should have a close friend but having that friendship grow into something more like family is even better. So this post is a tribute to my bestest friend, my writing partner, and Sister in Heart, Rose Wade.  

Part of the A to Z Challenge... I    To find Rose's posts for A to Z and more go here  Outlaw's pRose


A deep rumble woke Ben. He sat up and looked around the loft of the stable thinking he’d been caught by old man McKeen.

The rumble came again only louder. It wasn’t the old geezer tossing him out, it was Ben’s stomach. Four days, it was four days ago his mama had left him at the station.

She left him behind, telling him to sit and wait. She would be right back with the tickets. They’d go to Virginia to live with his aunt. Mama never came back from the ticket booth. Her carpetbag was gone. All Ben had was his small pack and the Bible she gave him.

Dawn was breaking. He needed to get out before the old man really did catch him. Quietly Ben made his way to the street and around the backs of the buildings. Maybe he could find a scrap of something. Anything he was so hungry.

His insides felt like they were shriveling up as he stopped at the rain barrel by the inn. Cupping his hands he took a few long drinks to try and fill the void.

As he splashed water on his face a scent drifted down the alleyway. Ben’s stomach clenched with hunger as the scent filled his nostrils with one of his favorite things in the world.

Fresh baked bread was somewhere close, very close. He sniffed at the air and turned down the alley. He followed the smell, stomach growling loud enough to make the stray dog napping in the shade raise his head.

Ben stopped at the window there they were. Three fresh baked loaves of bread. The steam was still rising off the tops. His tongue licked along his bottom lip as he took a step forward to get a deeper breath of it.

Something hit him on the back. Mr.Grove the owner of the inn shook the broom he’d just walloped Ben with. “Get, you urchin. Take your filthy self back to the gutters.”

Didn’t he recognize him? His mama had done some work at the in. “Mr. Grove, sir… “

Before Ben could finish the broom was raised again. He raised his little skinny arms and ran back down the alley.

The innkeeper satisfied the boy was gone went back to sweeping the stoop.

Ben sat behind a barrel and rubbed his lower back. He could still smell the bread. It made his mouth water. If he didn’t eat something soon he’d turn to dust and blow away.

He tried to drink some more water to fill his gut, but, that only made his stomach groan and ache worse. The bread smelled so good.

He could feel it in his hands warm with a crispy crust and soft fluffy inside. It would melt in his mouth as he took a bite. 

The sound of the inn’s back door closing made him open his eyes. Mr. Grove had gone back inside. There wasn’t anyone in the alley.

He crawled on his hands and knees to sit under the window so he could smell the bread. His belly ached to the point of tears now. Ben was so hungry. He could take it. There were two more loaves. They surely wouldn’t miss one.

No, he couldn’t take it. He didn’t have no money and stealing was a sin. Ben’s mama always told him to be good. Be a good boy and grow into a good man. He couldn’t do that if he stole. That would make him bad.

Lifting his face up he could feel the warmth from the fresh loaves. If he didn’t eat soon he wouldn’t make it past the age of eight to become any kind of man.

Stomach tight with hunger Ben raised his arms up and grabbed the edge of the cheesecloth. Slowly he pulled it toward him.

Mrs. Grove called out to her husband startling Ben. He jerked his arms back and hugged his knees waiting for the innkeeper to come back with the broom. Nothing happened.  Mrs. Grove went back to humming.

Sitting there had become torture, he didn’t want to make his mama angry. What if she came back and found him with the stolen bread. She’d have his hide for sure.

Ben looked up at the loaf. It had been four days since he saw his mama last at the station. She wasn’t coming back, no one was going to help him. He had to help himself.

He stood stomach aching and growling as his breath panted with fear and excitement. Before he could change his mind again Ben reached out and grabbed a loaf of bread. He took off running as fast as he could behind the buildings.

Turning a corner he ran to the ladder of the livery loft and climbed up. Hiding behind a stack of hay bales he hugged the loaf to his chest. It was still warm and smelled so good. He was panting still from his run. Waiting for someone to catch him.

When there were no shouts he began to relax and looked down at the bread. Ben licked his lips as his fingers dug into the crust and it apart. Steam flowed out as he pulled a hunk of the soft white fluff into his mouth.

Tears rolled down his face as he ate. His belly hurt from not having anything this solid in so long then it started to feel full. That feeling was the best thing he’d ever felt. He wasn’t a good boy anymore. Maybe he wouldn’t be a good man but he wouldn’t be hungry again. 

Part of the A to Z Blog Challenge ... H 


Sunday, April 10, 2011


There it was resting on the table next to the morning paper. It was real, not a toy, the real deal. She picked it up in an awkward grip. It was heavier than she thought it would be.

Her fingers shifted over the grip pressing a button. The clip hit the table with a clunk startling her.

The gun fell from her hands making a louder sound as she pushed her chair back. She stood to quickly back away. Her back hit the kitchen counter making her jump again.

Hands covered her face she took a long breath. She couldn’t do this, she wasn’t like him. Her throat had gone dry and aching. She tried not to look at the object on the table as she moved to the sink a bit shaky as she filled a glass. 

As she drank the cool water her eyes fell on her refection in the shiny steel of the toaster. The image was slightly distorted with the curves of the appliance, but, the black eye and swollen split lip were plain enough to see.

It wasn’t a choice anymore. She had to. Moving back to the table she sat down in the chair and looked at the thing lying there.

With a sigh she picked up the small box next to it and read the print. “.44 magnum ammunition, features 240grn lead core copper semi-jacketed hollow point bullet. Brass case and non-corrosive boxer primer. Well that’s good. Wouldn’t want it to rust after embedding in his brain after all.”

Bruised fingers opened the box and slid out the tray of shiny projectiles. They didn’t seem so dangerous stacked neatly in rows.

Cautiously she plucked a bullet from its nest. Gently she tried to press it into the clip as the man at the gun shop had showed her. The bullet popped out from between her fingers, bounced across the table top, over the edge to hit the floor.

She gasped waiting for a minor explosion. After a moment nothing happened so she walked around the table and picked up the brass cased explosive. A nervous laugh fell from her lips. Dropping it wasn’t going to make it explode. It had to be fired. Only the pin striking the exact spot at the precise moment would make it go off. 

With a calming breath she sat back down and began to press the bullets into the clip. Each one sliding home gave her a bit more confidence. She was in control, maybe for the first time in a long time.

The clip was now full. She picked up the gun by the grip making sure the safety switch was on like she had read in the book. The clip went easily back inside with a click.

Her hand closed over the top and pulled back putting a round in the chamber and readying the weapon to fire.

She set the weapon back down on the table and looked down at it. Her mother had always told her these were things of destruction and death. Now she sees it as something completely different. Looking at the cold steel she all she can see is freedom.

Part of the A to Z blog Challenge for the letter G. 


Friday, April 8, 2011

Festival of Reading 2011

One of my favorite events of the year is the Lake County Festival of Reading.This year the festival theme was Murder, Mystery and Mayhem.

There have been some really great programs all week long and still two days left to go in the festival.  I had the honor of being the featured author for the Astor County Library for April 7th. 

Pam Goodson, library manager and the staff of Astor Library are all fantastic people. They have been very supportive of me as an author. I think it's important for an author to have a library home and this is mine. I'm very proud to be a part of the Festival and Astor Library events. 

My son and I were excited to get down there and set up. Tristan was my fabulous photog for the event. 

We were hosted in the Florida room. The cool garland around the table was made by Pam. It has a night and Black Knight Securities. 

Black Knight Securities is the business Valeska Gorstef owns. She's the main character of my novel Half which was featured tonight. 

There were some great door prizes a  book bag filled with goodies and a n autographed copy of Half.  And a honey themed basket to raise funds for the festival program. 

My main subject of tonight was NaNoWriMo and the Writing Experience. About the challenge of writing 50, 000 words in only 30 days and finding the joy of writing. 

It doesn't matter what your skill level is, as long as you're putting words on paper and enjoying the thrill of creating a world of your own. 

See people really came! :) There were library patrons and two members from my writing group that meets monthly. 

Hey if you're in the Lake County, Florida area come join us at the Eustis Denny's the last Wednesday of this month at 6:30pm.  We have a great time munching, discussing writing and sometimes critiquing each others work. 

And speaking of noms.... 
Pam made a fantastic cake and we had those great Half and Half cookies. Remember that Seinfeld eppisode... :)  

It was a great event with food, fun, and fantastic people. People who know how wonderful books are and how great a community library can be.

You can check out the rest of the festival events here Lake County Festival of Reading 2011. 

Go support your library :) Check out a book, music CD or DVD today. 


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Excellent Reader Review.... Sort of

Letter E in the A to Z Blog Challenge

Tonight was my big event of the year the Lake County Festival of Reading. But I’ll save those details for the next post in the A to Z challenge. J  An older gentleman was one of the guests tonight.

He told me he’d checked out two of my novels, Don’t Touch and Half. I’m always thrilled to notice one of my books missing from its resting place on the library shelf. Hearing from someone that did the deed is even nicer. Better yet, Mr. Tucker proceeded to tell me he really enjoyed reading Don’t Touch.

He told me he liked reading about the places in Lake County where the book is set and that it was just a good read.

Now on the other hand… he read Half and didn’t enjoy it. Said that it was a bit over him which is a sweet way of saying honey I didn’t like the vampires.

Yes, I’m admitting a reader didn’t like a book. Hey can’t make everyone happy I’ve had other raving reviews for Half. It just wasn’t enjoyable for him. I like that he told me he didn’t enjoy it and why.

 If we don’t get a few bad reviews how are we going to improve? You listen to the review or feedback objectively. Then decide if you felt the reason was preference or was there something off that might need a second look. 

Our readers’ views might not always match ours but we need to listen and learn from the bad as well as the good.

Mr. Tucker and I talked for quite a while before the program began and he’s a very sweet man who patrons our wonderful library system. Mr. Tucker said he prefers to read westerns. Well he’s in luck.

Rose Wade and I are working on a western novel. Hopefully I can get another review from Mr. Tucker when it’s published. Or maybe he’ll give me another chance with my other book out now, In the Dark.

Either way I cant’ wait to see what the next review will say.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Damn Good Advice

Mark Twain once said, “Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

How many times do we use words like very or adverbs unnecessarily? If we really took Twains advice to heart our writing would probably come out much cleaner and uncluttered.

I think we tend to get hung up on getting across our vision to the reader and over describe things. The old adage of “less is more” is exactly right. We don’t need to tell our reader every minor detail.

There are times we may need to expand description to explain something uncommon. But most often the reader is well aware of how a sunset for instance looks and behaves for example.

Using more than two descriptive words on a subject is overkill and apt to lose the readers attention. They skip lines or pages to find something interesting. You also want to leave just a bit of room for the reader’s imagination to paint the scene as they see it.

A word I used to be very guilty of over using was and. That wonderful three letter word that let you string objects and sentences together endlessly. Better yet the abuse of he, she, it, was, and as.  

I have to catch myself still over using ‘as’. As they ran down the hall, or he moved though the house as he… blah blah.

He, she and it are sometimes easier than using the name or another word to point to the character. Over used they become clutter and can be confusing as to which he, she or it is being referred to.

Mr. Twain was a brilliant man and knew that we should keep it simple. Not dumb it down, just keep the clutter out of our stories. The reader doesn’t get bogged down in unnecessary words or phrases letting the characters and the plot shine. 

If we can identify the words we over use then take Mr. Twain’s advice. Our rough draft will read a little funny. But when we edit and remove all the damns the writing will be just as it should be. That’s some damn good advice.

Want another good bit of writing advice check out The Other Ways of Writing :) 


Monday, April 4, 2011

Cranes and Canvas

photo Elise VanCise 


The cranes walked though the grass elegant, heads held high. They watched me as I stood on the porch watching them in return. Their long necks bent beaks to the ground. They picked at the blades of grass looking for a morsel.

One scratches at the dirt making a soft calling sound. A youngling walks slowly over it its parent nibbling the offered bits. After their meal the family wanders around the yard looking for a sunny spot.

Once they find the perfect place they fluff and primp. One opens its wings full stretch. The magnificent creature rose to the tips of his toes as if to take flight.

After a moment passed he flapped his wings and closed them turning to nuzzle his mate. The family finished with their visit turned together and made their way back to the wood.

I would have to wait for another visit from my feathered friends. 

The photo above was taken in my front yard. Almost every day I get a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Crane and their 3 younglings. I love to watch them and take pictures they are so beautiful in the way they move.

Canvas is a Winner!

My entry to The Nature of Magic Blogfest won first prize by popular vote! Thank you to Tessa and Laura for hosting the fest. There were so many great entries to choose the finalists from.  Thank you to all who read and voted for your support.

If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet go here: Canvas
Don’t forget to go to  Rose’s blog and read the next part here Canvas: Mia Arrives.

North American Cranes (Nature Watch)Sandhill Crane Tide Pool Bird Art Mouse PadHammers Bird Watching Binocular 8x40 Multi-coated Lens

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Black and White Not So Plain and Simple

Cup of Plenty by Elise VanCise 

When you want to state that sometime is steadfastly one way or another you say it’s all there in “black and white.” Or the facts are “black and white.” Black and white is supposed to mean it’s clear to see no room for doubt or shades of gray.

Take a deeper look at a black and white photograph. The image isn’t made up of just two colors, but many varying shades of light and dark.

What has all that got to do with writing? Think about your favorite book or the story you’re working on right now. How black and white is it?

What makes a black and white photo interesting are those shades of gray between the light and dark. If the plot really was as simple as boy meets girl then it wouldn’t be very interesting to read.

Lily Pads in the Current by Elise VanCise

Fiction has to be more than just words put together. We need to add those varying shades of conflict, defat and triumphs to give the story depth and interest.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula would be kind of boring, not even frightening if he only wrote, “The vampire bit Lucy. Lucy turned into a vampire.”

Instead he gives us rich descriptions and lines like “Children of the night, what sweet music they make.” I remember reading this book for the first time and Jonathan Harker arriving at the Count’s castle. Dracula greeted him with “Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own free will.”

Something about that line gave me the willies. Enter freely and of your own free will, isn’t plain and simple. That phrase is filled with shadows and shades of gray, which the reader soon finds out.

St. John's River from the Astor Bridge by Elise VanCise
Life isn’t black and white like type on paper, it’s filled with shades of color. So why not add as much of that as we can into our stories. Enrichen the contrast between black and white point plots with shades of detail and meaning that will pull your reader into the world you’re creating. 

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge Join in the fun :) 

Black & White Photography in a Digital Age: Creative Camera, Darkroom and Printing Techniques for the Modern PhotographerCreative Black and White: Digital Photography Tips and TechniquesDracula