Nine missing days

Before I get to the capitivating way I spent July 23 thru July 31, let me say that tomorrow's blog will probably be more interesting. Wow, is that self-defeating or what? Telling you in advance to skip my riviting blog about the last nine days and just tune in tomorrow. {Picture me shrugging my shoulders.}

Next week I think I'll have another WAR STORY of a recently contracted first author.

Back to the 9 missing days. They just disappeared into some cosmic Bermuda Triangle because I swear I don't know where they went! I blogged on the 22nd, and here it is the 31st. So what did I do for nine days? Read, wrote, talked, visited, and a few other things.

If Angles Burn by S. L. Viehl (Get it!!)
How To Murder A Millionaire by Nancy Martin (old book but good)
the daily Houston Chronicle (looking for ideas)
Muscle Pain Relief in 90 Seconds (back acting up again)
Last Girl Dancing by Holly Lisle (Get it!)
last 6 issues of Romance Writers Report
research on law enforcement skills, protocols,
research on small town infrastructure
histories of several parishes in Louisiana
again Writer's Guide to Poisons
Howdunnit: How Crimes Are Committed

birthday and anniversary messages
notes on book to be started when this one finished
emails--too many to count unfortunately

Phone calls (doesn't include leaving voice mails):
Mom--3 times
daughter A--2 or 3
son M1--2
son M2--1
various irritating solicitors--1
insurance agent--1

not enough

Other things:
took lots of photos of different things--will be used on my web site in the months ahead--many of them on the MY TEXAS page.
went to San Antonio--nice place but HOT! Seems hotter than Houston for some reason, and the air quality was awful. Made me long for my inhaler. Smog reminded me of L.A.

That's about it. I'm outta here so I can meet with my web mistress MAE to start the monthly update of my web site.

Sling Words out.

Universal pain

Yesterday I had my nails done and had another of those truth is stranger than fiction experiences. In writing, we are exhorted to find the universal truth--that which is true for all people regardless of race, religion, or national origin. One of those universal truths is the pain of betrayal.

For nearly three years, I've had the same young Vietnamese woman as my manicurist. I find it interesting that I'm one of the few people (meaning anglo and hispanic women) who patronize this salon who actually has conversations--other than, "How you? I'm fine. How are you?"-- with the Vietnamese women there. Maybe it's because I'm not uncomfortable around people who chatter in their own language--probably because I lived in Japan for so many years. I feel at ease with my manicurist and even can spot a few words I recognize in the flow of Vietnamese that characterizes a typical nail salon.

My manicurist (I'll call her Wanda) and I have an easy relatinship, and she has often confided in me and sometimes asked for clarification of our (meaning Americans) strange ways or English words or phrases. So I wasn't particularly shocked when she told me that her husband had left her.

I'd already noted that she looked awful--you know that glassy-eyed look from too much weeping? So I'd asked with a rather more serious tone than usual, "How are you today? Are you all right?"

In a salon crowded with a trio of giggling teenage girls, suburban wives, and half a dozen other nail specialists giving manicures and pedicures, Wanda shared her story. Because of the mask she wore, I could see only her pain-filled eyes. It was even worse than a story of a husband abandoning a wife and a four-year-old son. Wanda had found out that her husband probably wasn't even hers. His "real" wife had called Wanda to tell her to leave the woman's husband alone.

"I was number four," Wanda said, her voice choked with pain. (I honestly couldn't understand and didn't want to probe deeply about whether he had actually gone through a wedding ceremony with her or if she'd been the fourth girlfriend in a live-in relationship with the man.) She'd thought her husband worked off shore--several weeks out in the Gulf and a small amount of time at home. She'd discovered that he'd never worked off shore. Everything she thought she knew as truth was a lie. Now she's left to raise her son alone and try some day to explain to him who his father is and why he'd done what he'd done. Maybe one day she can even explain it to herself.

When she fell silent, I asked if she'd seen a lawyer to pursue him for child support. I already knew that probably she wouldn't do this. The Vietnamese community is assimilated into our culture in varying degrees. There are many who never go to the police when they have been victimized. They often don't seek the legal redress that we wouldn't hesitate to go after. Wanda said she couldn't do that. Her husband had disappeared. She fell silent.

When I was getting ready to leave, her gaze lifted to mine. With her eyes blinking rapidly to hold the tears at bay, in a low voice, she said, "I hope my son does not grow up to be like his father."

Sex, Murder, and Mint Juleps

Okay, that's my new title for wip. How do you like it?

Primary song on my playlist for this manuscript is Sway by Pussy Cat Dolls. Why? Well, it's playful and sexy, characteristics of my heroine in the wip. And it makes me smile when I hear it which I hope readers do when they read Sex, Murder, and Mint Juleps.

I so agree with Paul Guyot, aka Ink Slinger, about playlists. It was such a relief to discover I'm not the only author who plays the same song endlessly.

Since getting this "new" computer, which came loaded with RealOne, a couple of years ago, I started making playlists. Last year when I returned to writing fiction after nearly four years of a massive, but well-paying, technical writing project I'd taken on, I decided to create a playlist for the manuscript I started writing. I discovered hearing the music I'd selected got me immediately "into" the story.

Now if I hear a particular song, I immediately think of writing a particular scene or manuscript. Kind of like when I hear Janis Joplin's Piece of My Heart, I can close my eyes and remember in detail the road trip I took many years ago, mostly driving at night, from San Francisco to L.A. in my new sports car with Janis wailing on the stereo.

Will post other songs in the playlist another time. Need to get writing.

Sling Words out. (Yeah, as someone commented in an email, that's what Ryan Seacrest says. No, I'm not a Seacrest groupie. I find him mostly annoying, but I guess he's paid well to be that way. I just like that signoff.)

The siren call of the fictional world

Got Stevie Ray playing with Floodin' Down In Texas so appropriate as I watch the storm clouds roll by. I thought I was going to have to get the tranquilizer gun out when the power went off earlier today during the British Open. DH hit the panic button when he couldn't see what Tiger did on the 14th hole and the succeeding ones. Thought I was going to have to trank him, but, thankfully, the power came back on by the 17th hole. Tiger won, and all is right in my husband's golfing world. Thank goodness. I hate it when he sulks all Sunday afternoon because Tiger didn't rack up another win.

Bam! I'm getting ready to kick it up another notch and get my manuscript finished. Sure am having a lot of fun with the characters and the story. My brain is becoming more and more preoccupied with the fictional world I visit each day. Had thought I would take today off from writing, but I've been whittling on the log line for the story. I've had a log line for Eat, Drink, and Kill Mary, but on second draft, I've had some of those serendipitous things happen that make a writer laugh out loud with joy. So I have to change the log line, and I think I'm going to change the title too. Maybe. Still like my original title, but I've thought of one that is also good and maybe reflects the romantic comedy/chick lit tone of the mystery. After all, my roots are in romance.

Sling Words out.

Sci Fi Friday is back!

I'll try not to be a total geek and rave too much about Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Battlestar Gallactica, but they're back!!! Finally, something interesting to watch this summer.

If you haven't discovered these three shows, shame on you. You're missing some great characters and action. My only regret is that Richard Dean Anderson won't be reprising his role as Jack O'Neil. Actor Ben Browder, the new leader of SG-1, is familiar to fans of Farscape, as is Claudia Black who was on tonight as the thief Valla.

I guess this respite will have to suffice until my other favorite action show 24 comes back to the small screen. Haven't seen anything on the big screen that interests me enough to spend an afternoon at the movies. {sigh}

Daughter and DH are out to snag the latest Harry Potter as soon as it's put on the shelf at one minute past midnight which is right about now. She spent the week re-reading all the previous Harry Potter books to ready her palatte for the new one.

Tagged by Polly P. I.

Oh, frack! Polly P.I. tagged me with one of those chain letter things, that is, a meme. Got to be current and use the latest jargon so I don't sound hopelessly dull and boring even though I'm sure in answering these questions, I'll come across as just that plus moronic.

Just wait, Polly! Payback's a bitch.

Okay, here goes.

1 - Imagine it’s 2015. You are visiting the library at a major research university. You go over to a computer terminal (or whatever it is they use in 2015) that gives you immediate access to any book or journal article on any topic you want. What do you look up? In other words, what do you hope somebody will have written in the meantime?

First, I'd check to see if the diseases that have devastated my family have been cured or at least have had medication created to effectively treat them. I'd hope to read that peace had reigned in the Middle East for many years. Then I'd check out my kids, my writer friends, and me, of course, to see if we'd "made" it.

2 - What is the strangest thing you’ve ever heard or seen at a conference? No names, please. Refer to “Professor X” or “Ms. Y” if you must. Double credit if you were directly affected. Triple if you then said or did something equally weird.

Oh, boy. Could I write a book on this! I am one of those people that total strangers will walk up to and tell their entire life history, including the parts that should remain secret! Plus, I always seem to be a witness to weirdness. Even saw the Stones once in a New Orleans restaurant and one of the women with them spent a good hour under the table. Guess she must have dropped her fork.

Let's see, a couple of stories fit for public consumption? Well, this isn't the strangest but it always makes me laugh when I think about it. I was at a writer's conference and in the hotel bar late one night having a drink with a writer friend I see about once a year. In walks an agent (details censored upon second thoughts) and an editor (details also censored upon second thoughts). They get a table in a dark corner and proceed to get drunk and engage in what used to be called heavy petting--you know the stuff you used to see only in a parked car occupied by two horny teenagers. My friend and I nursed our drinks, stared, laughed, and talked about blackmail. The agent and editor were too preoccupied to notice their audience. Alas, I was too chicken, uh, that is, too much of a lady, to say anything about it the next day when I had an appointment with the agent.

At another conference there were two women, very pale, thin, and each with long, lank black hair. An editor there "hid" from them by talking to me at the cocktail party. He said they'd submitted a 1500 page hand written manuscript for a science fiction novel they'd co-written in which the hero was named Paramecium and all the other characters were named after bacteria.

3 - Name a writer, scholar, or otherwise worthy person you admire so much that meeting him or her would probably reduce you to awestruck silence.

Gosh, there are so many. Today though, since I just reread Lightning again, I'd have to say Dean Koontz. I think the man is a master at his craft. I love his books for the characters, the often lyrical prose, and deft manipulation of science fact with fantasy. He created the cross-genre novel with the puzzle of the mystery, the ideas of science fiction, the struggle between good and evil of fantasy, the dark moodiness of horror, and the intelligent love relationship of a good romance novel.

4 - What are two or three blogs or other Web sites you often read that don’t seem to be on many people’s radar?

Conversations About Famous People isn't an unknown to most women in the blogosphere, but maybe men haven't cruised by yet. It's hilarious. If you ever look in the mirror and go, "Yuk!" then cruise over to that blog and take a look at some candid photos of the "beautiful people." You'll feel better asap.

efoodie, the everyday gourmet What can I say? I love food--cooking and eating.

Diary of an Adult Runaway She's living in Paris! I adore Paris.

Okay, now I have to tag 3 other poor souls?

Distressed Jeans at Conversations

Kathleen O'Reilly

Natalie R. Collins of Stalking Kelly Ripa

How many writers in the U. S.?

Hmmm. I'm reading, rather belatedly, the feature article entitled "A Fascinating Look at Selected Reading and Publishing Statistics" in my Sisters in Crime June newsletter. Back in May, after having read statistics from a study done by the American Library Association about the reading habits of the United States adult population, I'd blogged about those depressing stats. I can sum up the results of that segment of the survey, as noted in my previous blog, in two words: rather pitiful.

Now the SinC newsletter gives more statistics--about the reading public, manuscript sales, book sales, and the number of writers in the U. S. All the stats elicit reactions ranging from curiosity to melancholy, especially for anyone concerned with the decline of reading, but the stats that struck me as most interesting were the ones about how many people in the United States defined themselves as writers.

In 2004, there were 15 million Americans who said they were writers. That's an increase of 4 million from a few years ago. I'd be willing to bet prior to 1990, the number of people who called themselves writers was a mere fraction of today's 15 million. Why? Well, prior to 1990, not as many households had computers. Now, most people seem to have one or at least have access to a PC at work, school, or in libraries.

There's always been a kind of unspoken belief in the general population that anyone who possesses the ability to read and write therefore possesses all the tools necessary to become a writer. That belief now seems to have become a reality.

Back in the Dark Ages, before computers, the idea of writing a book was daunting because even with a correctable typewriter, the task was arduous. The PC was the great enabler. Now, these self-defined writers can write their books and publish them in print or on the Internet. I've known several "writers" who published with what many of us consider vanity or subsidized publishers. They think they have credentials just as good as any author published by Random House et al. (I can well imagine how many lobbed rotten tomatoes that statement will earn me.)

Would these self-defined writers have even written a book if they'd had to do it with a typewriter? I think not. I say this because I know how hard it is to write a manuscript that way. I wrote my first book, which shall remain buried in my file cabinet, on a portable electric typewriter, and it was not a correcting typewriter either.

If there were 15 million self-defined writers in 2004, what will that number be in another few years? But that's not the real question. The real question is what kind of impact does this have on "real" writers who are struggling to break in or break out of mid-list? Do these millions of writers have an effect on the publishing industry? Oh, yes, they certainly do. Just ask any editor or agent who has to deal with the slush pile.

The Halo Effect, a win-win for all

M. J. Rose is an author I admire tremendously, not just because she writes one heck of a good book but also because she's so darn innovative in her promotion ideas. Now, with her new book, The Halo Effect, she's using a medium you'll be seeing more and more--the vidlit (a literary video). Vidlit is an animated short film about a book.

M. J. has designed a "blog tour," asking other authors to blog about The Halo Effect between now and July 19 and to include a link to the short animated film for The Halo Effect. For each blog link made to the vidlit for her novel, $5.00 will be donated to the nonprofit literacy program Reading Is Fundamental.

Now that's what I call a win-win situation for all concerned: the author wins by getting an excellent book noticed by readers, readers win by getting to read an extraordinary book; bloggers who participate win by helping a deserving author and a deserving literacy organization. And Reading Is Fundamental wins in receiving, hopefully, the goal donation of $2,500.00.

So, M. J., here's my blog and my link. Thanks for the chance to participate, and good luck with The Halo Effect.

Readers, rush out and buy The Halo Effect by M. J. Rose. Here's the link again to view the vidlit or visit M. J. Rose for mor information.

War Stories: Pam Mellor

Recently, I wrote an article In Their Own Words: Authors Talk About First Sales and was struck by not only the enthusiastic response from so many authors who wanted to tell their story but also by the inspiration I gained from hearing those stories. An author may make many sales throughout a career, but the first sale stands out. Details of that event are engraved in a writer's memory.

Since I'd been thinking about adding a regular feature (hopefully something to appear at least once a month) to Sling Words, I thought stories about an author's first sale might be a good addition. In fact, I touted this as First Sale Stories. In thinking about it though, I decided War Stories was a more evocative--and more accurate--title for the series. Why? Oh, let's just say that we writers often feel as if we're engaged in a war. Each manuscript we write is a battle fought until The End signals a truce. With each submission we risk rejection, a war wound. I know a lot of writers who are so battle-scarred they should receive an Authorial Purple Heart! Yet, on and on we fight. So what better title for an article about someone who has fought the good fight and triumphed?

So, Sling Words welcomes you to War Stories.

Poor Pam Mellor--uh, that is--lucky Pam Mellor was asked to be my first victim--I mean guest. Fortunately, Pam, in the flush of victory, was more than gracious and charming and agreed to give it a go.

Pam: Okay, here goes.

Sling Words: When did you sell and how?

Pam: I signed with my agent, Sha-Shana Crichton of Crichton & Associates Literary Agency, after she'd emailed to ask if my trilogy of erotica novellas was still available. I said yes and was told she would get back to me very soon. A few days later, she called and offered representation. That afternoon, she called and said two big publishers were interested in the trilogy. One day less than three weeks after I'd signed with her, she called and told me we had a contract. But wait! The other publisher wanted us to wait to accept the contract until that Friday. When Friday passed with no word, I tried to be positive. Then Monday, June 27, my agent called and asked what I wanted to do. We decided to take the Kensington contract, with a few stipulations.

Sling Words: What's the title of your book, genre, pub date if you have one?

Pam: The title is Pleasure Beach, and it's actually three novellas in one spine--and they let me keep all of my original titles! Pleasure Beach was my title, as well. As for's a totally "new" genre--humorous erotica. One of my old critique partners said: "Leave it to you to create a new sub-sub genre!" I take no credit for the "creation." I suspect it has been lurking for years, and Kensington was just smart enough to see the viability of a market for it. BTW, the line has yet to be named, so therefore no actual pub date has been established. I've been told early 2006--January, February, or March most likely.

Sling Words: Okay, give us a comment about how you felt when you made the sale.

Pam: You know, that's interesting. I had a call back in October from an editor at Harlequin who loved my romantic comedy--two weeks after I'd mailed the requested manuscript to her, Harlequin announced the demise of their humor line...just my luck!--and didn't want to just send a rejection letter. She said she'd tried for something like a month and a half to find a line at Harlequin or Silhouette where it would fit and had even asked them to reinstate the humor line for my book (They refused.). After her call, I remember punching my fist in the air and having a permanent smile--all because I'd finally "hit" an editor who "got" my humor and loved my writing and wanted more. I felt somewhat like that after I signed with my agent. was a shock to not feel that euphoria multiplied when my agent called and said we had a contract. I thought it was because we still did not know with whom. But even after she called me--yesterday, in WalMart, while I was reading vitamin labels--it didn't happen. All of my friends and critique partners were jumping up and down and amazed at how calm I was(okay, maybe I wasn't all that calm, since I went into a dialing frenzy). But I still wasn't "over the moon." Know what I mean? But...then my editor(MY editor! I actually have a real, live, editor! EEK!) called to introduce himself--suddenly it was real. We had a nice conversation--although I'm not totally sure what was said, but since I'm "the mouth of the South" I can converse on auto-pilot. Thankfully, years of education also clicked in and I seem to have taken notes--they're in my chicken scratch, so I can only assume I wrote them. BTW, I couldn't stop smiling all night long.

Sling Words
: How long have you been writing?

Pam: Is that a trick question?(ha,ha) I always said since I was old enough to hold a crayon. Before that, if you count the tall tales I entertained everyone with--my cousins will swear to you to this day that I could read at 3 (I'd memorized the books and/or embellished with how I thought they should be written!) But for publication? Maybe 10 years. Seriously for publication? More like less than 5 years. Life kept getting in the way and then, just when I was really starting to ACTIVELY pursue publication, my father became ill, had a lengthy hospitalization and died. Mother sank into an abyss of depression and held pity parties for herself until she became ill, 2 years later and died. That was in February and for a while there, I felt as though I'd fallen into the grave with her or, at the very least, developed adult-onset ADD. She passed in February and I couldn't do more than walk in and check my email and walk out until about May. It was a horrible period in my life. I credit my wonderful agent for saving me. I mean it! Had she not called and offered representation and affirmation at a time when I so sorely needed it, I would still be attending my own pity parties. For that alone, I am forever grateful. Selling my book was icing on the cake!

Sling Words: What do you think led to this first sale?

Pam: My wonderful writing, of course! Seriously, I believe it was not giving up, not changing my voice no matter how many rejections I'd chalked up (I couldn't, even if I tried, anyway) acquiring an agent, and--maybe most importantly--being fortunate enough to have my manuscript submitted to the right place at the right time. And don't underestimate the power of prayers!

Sling Words: Got any PR details you want readers to know, i.e., your one-sentence blurb, web site, blog URL, P.O. Box, or whatever?

Pam: Once you visit Pleasure Beach, you'll want to return again and again.

Sling Words: Hey, that's good! Anything else you'd like readers to know?

Pam: I hope they all will run out and buy Pleasure Beach as soon as it is available! And, no, alas, I did not do extensive research for the erotic scenes.

Sling Words: I didn't even think to ask about kinky sex research, darn it! Would you elaborate on something? What was the order of the selling manuscript--first, tenth, or what?

Pam: I say I have been pursuing publication for almost ten years--seriously pursuing it for less than half that amount of time. :) My selling manuscript was #8, #9 and #10...I think.

Sling Words
: Thanks, Pam, for participating. Great answers. Do you have some way for readers to check back with you?

Pam: No web site yet--I have no idea as to when I will acquire one. Sigh. So much to do! Makes me tired, just thinking about it.

Sling Words: Thanks again, Pam. We here at Sling Words wish you great success with Pleasure Beach! (Sounds like a place we'd all like to visit. Wonder when the next boat leaves?)

Okay, Readers, there you have it. Next year when you're looking for a comic
erotica, remember Pam Mellor and Pleasure Beach.

Coming attractions

I've been thinking a regular interview feature would be fun to do. So I tried to figure out something that would be inspiring and interesting and, hopefully, something that could be repeated at least once a month. What met all those requirements? How about First Sale Stories?

Drop by Monday, July 11, for First Sale Story: Pam Mellor. You'll meet Pam Mellor who just sold her first book to Kensington.

Yay! Yippee! Hurrah! Brava!

Don't miss Pam's compelling story. See you Monday!

Hell in a hand basket

My grandfather used to say: "The world's going to hell in a hand basket." If he'd still been around since 9/11, I'm sure he'd be convinced of that fact.

The people in London suffered yesterday. Whether it was because of the G8 conference or the fact that they're allies to the U. S., the tragedy was a heinous act by terrorists. Anyone who harbors terrorists or gives them support in any way should be banned from civilization. Better yet, let their victims decide the murderers' fate by majority vote.

Then, today, I read on several blogs about Joseph Duncan, who had raped 13 young boys by the time he was 16. He's the one who apparently bludgeoned Shasta's older brother, mom, and the mom's boyfriend to death before kidnapping Shasta and her other brother who is probably dead and may by this time be identified from the remains of a child found recently. Sent to prison at 17, Duncan is now 42 and has taken the innocence and the lives of too many children.

Why was he ever released from prison?

Why is he even walking around and breathing?

What was the death penalty created for if not for him and people like him?

When will people learn that men like him can NEVER be changed?

On a smaller, more personal note, I read that Evan Hunter/Ed McBain died. What pleasure his books brought me over the years. I know he had more stories to tell. I'll go watch my DVD of one of the many movies made about the 87th Precinct. The one I've got stars Dale Midkiff. It's a pretty good flick, but I've never seen any of the movies as good as the books.

5th of July

I designed this graphic for products at my cyber shop The Write Way and think it's a nice thought for the day after Independence Day. So declare your own Independence!