High School Art

Today I'm at an art competition for high school students. My husband and I are assisting our daughter, the art teacher who's still on crutches. We loaded up the sculptures, paintings, and drawings and made the trek to a high school far north of Houston.

The quality of art produced by these kids is simply amazing. Of course, when our daughter was in high school, she also amazed us with her talent. She was a state winner in sculpture so she knows how important it is to kids who want a career in art to do well in the competitions.

This one is the first of many that we'll attend between now and next spring. Sometimes I feel as if I've never left high school since I've spent so much time at one since our daughter's surgery has made it difficult to get around.

Takeaway Truth

They say kids keep you younger. I guess that's true if you stay involved in kid activities and surrounded by hundreds of them. 

Let's Rodeo!

Fall may be upon us, but, here in Texas, a lot of people are thinking about next spring. Kids are readying their animals to compete in the Houston Rodeo & Livestock Show, and adults and kids alike are thinking about an equally important aspect of the 2010 rodeo. Tickets to concerts at the Houston Rodeo!

Yep, it's time to start deciding which of the world-class entertainment acts you want to see at rodeoHOUSTON because tickets are already available for some of the acts like the teen crush Jonas Brothers and 2009 GRAMMY winner for Best Country Male Vocal Performance Brad Paisley. Perennial favorites, and multiple GRAMMY and CMA winners, Brooks & Dunn will be there too.

What Makes Houston Rodeo Special

Since I live in the Houston area, I know all about this annual event. Let me tell you what makes it so special. You get the thrills and chills of one of the biggest rodeos in the world, but you also get to see the most popular entertainers of the time.

After the day’s rodeo events conclude, the arena is cleared away and a unique rotating stage is moved to the center of the ring. That's when it's time to sit back and be entertained by acts usually found only in Vegas or touring and performing to sold out venues. We're talking country, rock, hip hop and Latin.


Check out the website to see who's being booked and on which dates. If you're like me and have been to the rodeo in the past, you know that they have something for everyone regardless of your musical taste.

From the tween crowd pleasers like Miley Cyrus to traditional country music by George Strait; from hard rocking Bon Jovi to the sensual sounds of Beyonce; from ZZ Top, that little Texas band beloved by all, to Maroon 5; the Houston Rodeo is the biggest party in Texas, and you're invited.

Scoring Tickets

Getting tickets for the performers you want to see is easy. Go to the TeamOneTickets website, a BBB Accredited Business that's COMODO Hacker Proof protected, and take a look at the line up of entertainers. You can purchase online or call using their toll free phone number.

Read their policies and their guarantee regarding your ticket delivery, and you'll get peace of mind that you won't miss the big date. They've been in this business since 1979 so they know what they're doing, and they know how to make sure they satisfy the customer.

You can select the entertainer you want to see, the date you want, and the seat you want. For the chance to see these stellar acts, the ticket prices are quite reasonable I think. There's usually a price that fits every budget, but the great thing is that no matter where you sit, you get a good view of the stage. Remember I mentioned that rotating stage? That ensures that everyone gets to see the entertainment from every angle.

Takeaway Truth

I've been to the Houston Rodeo, and it's Texas-size fun. It's also an event that makes for family memories and laughter.

A Nag Ram, A Rag Man, Anagram

Have you ever thought about creating a pseudonym to use in your writing? If so, a neat way to do it is to create an Anagram from your name.

Anagram Defined

When a noun, the word means a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters of another word or phrase. The verb form is anagrammatize, meaning to rearrange letters in such a way. Anagram has Greek roots: anagrammatismos. Ana meaning up, again, back, new plus gram meaning letter.

Anagram Website

The website is neat. You can plug in your name and get a list of anagrams. The example they use on the home page is an anagram of Clint Eastwood: Old West Action. How very appropriate.

Anagrams of SlingWords include World Sings and World Signs. Go check out some anagrams of your names, blog titles, and such. You may find inspiration for a new blog, book title, or pseudonym.

Takeaway Truth

Words provide endless fun for writers.

Blogs Beget Publishing Contracts

The phenomenon of blog writers getting book contracts seems to have turned into a trend. Now there are literary agents who monitor popular blogs and keep tabs on the blog's consistent traffic numbers. Apparently, the thinking is that successful blogs have built-in audiences that will buy books. According to publishing insiders, every publishing house is paying attention to successful blogs.

Blog To Book

From blog to book is something I think you'll see happen more often as time goes by because publishers and agents see it as, if not a slam dunk, at least a good bet with content already in place. All that's needed is layout, artwork, and, voila, you have a book that has legs, if not wings.

Christian Lander, publisher of Stuff White People Like, is a good example. His humor blog was turned into a popular book by the same name in 2008.

Takeaway Truth

You never know where a path may lead.

Writers Must Monitor Licensing

Recently, I wrote about Fair Use, the concept of using certain material for review, research, critique, etc.

What I want to relate to you today is not about Fair Use per se, it is about the need for writers to monitor what is done with their work, i.e., Fair Use, as well as how licensing agreements are executed.

A couple of years ago, Jon Krakauer sued Houghton Mifflin Co. and RR Donnelley & Sons Co. He alleged that they had infringed his copyright for the best-selling novel Into Thin Air. They had contracted with him to reprint several thousand copies of an excerpt from his novel to be included in a ninth-grade textbook. Instead, they reprinted more than a million.

Writers need to monitor the results from contracts to make sure the licensing activity is that to which they have agreed. This is one of those situations where you know what to do, but you don't know how to precisely go about it. If you're a big name author, high up on the food chain, it's easier because you have an agent and probably legal representation who can follow up on these issues.

For midlist and below, this is a DIY project that may be next to impossible.

Takeaway Truth

It's not enough to be a good writer. One must also be an astute business person as well.


Quote for the Week

This is the week that ends with Halloween. Ghosts and goblins, princesses and ninjas, and a good assortment of other pop culture-based costumes will appear on doorsteps everywhere and cry the words that strike delight in most adults' hearts: "Trick or treat."

Of course, if we're talking real fear, let's look to what Arthur Conan Doyle said: "Where there is no imagination there is no horror."

Horror writers everywhere depend on readers having an imagination. Of course, what Arthur Conan Doyle said is why I don't watch horror movies or read very many horror novels: my imagination is simply too vivid and all-encompassing.

Recently, I wrote about Horror on my other blog. I should have included this quote by J. M. Barrie: "A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man awoke in the night."

In this country, Halloween, as most of us know it, is for kids to dress up and get candy. Lots of candy. No bump in the night for the little ones. At least I hope not. It's not nice to scare little kids.

Takeaway Truth

I think we all agree with Steve Almond, "Nothing on Earth is so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night."

Does Email Promtion Help?

Writers who have been in the promotion trenches for a long time have a lot to teach business owners who are thinking about using email or email newsletters to promote their product and/or their businesses.

Valuable Clutter

I reached this conclusion as I reread articles from last winter's Authors Guild Bulletin. You see, we're in the 4Q of the year so it's time to start clearing out the clutter of accumulated magazines and newsletters that still arrive in my mail box. Don't get me wrong. I like these hard copies because I can read them at my leisure instead of on the computer monitor. I like to stack them on the bedside table for reading in bed.

Of course, I hang onto them for most of the year too. I like to refer back to them and again read the particularly good articles. The subject of one such article is what I want to talk about today.

Email Newsletters

If you're an author, or you're in business, chances are you either publish an electronic newsletter, or you're thinking about publishing one because the buzz is that it helps sell books or whatever product in which you have a vested interest. At the very least, you think it may help fix your name, product name, or business name in the minds of the reader.

Authors Guild Also Wondered

Authors Guild, of which I'm a member, also wondered if email newsletters helped so they did a survey and published the results in last winter's Authors Guild Bulletin. (I'm always pushing membership in the Authors Guild because I think they do great work on behalf of writers. If you're eligible for membership, please join us. Tell them I sent you. *g*)

Survey Says

More than 2100 working writers responded to the survey. About 40% of them said they either use email newsletters or compile email lists in order to promote their work. In fact, two thirds of the respondents think using some sort of email promotion helps, but another third don't know if it helps or not.

Like most authors can tell small businesses thinking about doing an email campaign of some sort, you do a lot of stuff - everything that comes down the Internet pike - hoping it makes a difference and will give you some definable benefit, but you never really know whether any of it really works.

What Writers Can Teach Businesses

Some writers say they can see a rise in their ratings on Amazon after sending an email to coincide with the release of their latest book, but those writers seem to be the minority. I suspect the writers who can verify an increase in sales in relation to an email newsletter are the already big selling authors.

Most writers don't see any increase yet they keep sending out into the electronic ether with the thought that they are promoting their name. They look upon the effort as laying a foundation and building upon it. Eventually, payoffs will result.

Best Campaign

Sending emails or newsletters is wasted effort if the recipient just hits the delete key. The result you want is for the recipient to open the email or newsletter and to read it. How do you achieve that?

1. Don't make the newsletter nothing but an advertisement for your book or product. Just like a good book, your mailing must have a hook that makes the recipient read on.

2. Think of the recipients and what you can give to them. Entertainment? Education? Escape from reality? Contest prizes? You want to think of who they are, how they live, and what they need. Then give that to them in your newsletter.

3. Don't wait until you're famous to get something going. Cindi Myers aka Cynthia Sterling started publishing her Market Newsletter long before she herself was published. Most romance authors know her because of that email newsletter, and so do editors and agents because of her information gathering from them. Start early in order to build an audience for your information.

4. Never email anyone who has not requested information from you. If you plan on an email or an email newsletter, make sure they know you're gathering their addy for that purpose. You want to befriend people, not alienate them with what they'll consider spam.

Takeaway Truth

Promotion via email is something that can work for any author, even those who would rather walk barefoot over broken beer bottles than speak in public.

More Copyright Talk

When I posted Let's Talk Copyright, I promised another post about more issues dealing with the complex issue.

What Can't Be Copyrighted

You can't copyright an idea or a concept or theory that has not been expressed in a permanent medium of some sort. You can only copyright the way you express those elements in a fixed medium like a book, photograph, work of art, song, etc. Nor can you copyright a title. That's why you see so many various works with the same title.

If a work has a copyright that has expired, thus making the work now in public domain, then it's up for grabs by anyone and can be used without restriction. If you're looking for something that can be used, do a public domain search.

Fair Use

Even if a work is copyrighted, and the author and/or the licensee are the only ones who have the right to make a copy, not all copying is prohibited. What allows copying by others is covered by a legal concept called Fair Use which I discussed on my other blog.

Briefly, Fair Use allows limited copying for teaching, reporting news, scholarship, literary criticism, or research. Fair Use is used as a defense when someone has been accused of infringing copyright. It is not a law or a right that anyone has. Usually, whether someone has exercised Fair Use or infringed on a creator's copyright is decided by a trial.

Poor Man’s Copyright

If you've never heard this term, it's probably because no one in today's world mentions it any more, and that's probably because everyone realizes it's no kind of legal protection.

Back when I first began writing, I remember hearing a published author speak who told how her engineer husband used Poor Man's Copyright to protect his work. She said that might be something an author could do if worried someone would steal their work before it was published.

The way PMC worked was that you put your work in an envelope and mailed it to yourself. When you received it in the mail, complete with a postmark on the envelope, you shelved it, unopened. The thinking was you could produce the work, sealed in the envelope, and the postmark would attest to the fact that you had created it on a date prior to someone who had stolen it and published it on a later date. Pretty lame, huh? Back a couple of decades ago, a lot of unpublished, aspiring writers did this. For some reasons, those who aren't published are very fearful of having their work stolen.

Work For Hire

Many writers sign contracts wherein they do not retain copyright in their names. The copyright holder is whoever hired them to write the work. This is called Work For Hire. These are the contracts you should not sign unless:

1. You get paid a good chunk of change.
2. You don't care whether your name is associated with the work or not because you don't see your career growing in that direction.
3. You need the money so much that you can't afford to turn the deal down.

Takeaway Truth

Copyright ownership is a very big issue for a writer. Make sure you have a solid grasp of copyright basics, and always understand contract clauses.

Student Discounted Software

Software is expensive. In the past, on this blog and my other one, I've posted about freeware and shareware websites that offer similar applications for the expensive products used by most of the world, i.e., Open Office Suite instead of the Microsoft Office Suite. I've also posted about websites where you can register to win their software of the day offer.

This Post's For You

Today I want to tell you about websites that offer the expensive software packages at deep discounts for Students and their parents. These websites also offer these reduced prices to teachers. Most teachers already know this, or they get even bigger discounts through their school districts so this blog post isn't directed at them.


Student discounted software is usually available to students and their parents in these categories: K-12 Students, Home School Students, and College/University Students. You have to submit proof of eligibility at most sites. Billing and shipping is usually in the parents' names.

Sample Websites

Here are a few of the many sites, in alphabetical order, where you can purchase software at student discount prices. This post is not an endorsement of any particular site. Do your own homework and check them out in order to make a wise choice.

Academic Superstore

Campus Tech



On The Hub

Student Discounts

Takeaway Truth

Why pay full price when there are bargains to be had if you're eligible, and most of us are, so always shop around.

Let's Talk Copyright

Many people have little knowledge about copyright. Or, worse, they have misinformation about this important subject.

I talked to an old friend about the issue because he wrote a book and published it himself with one of the DIY publishers. He sold so many copies that he wrote a second book. He sent me an essay from it, and I thought it was good and would be a compelling read for my visitors so I asked him if I could publish it.

Of course, I told him I'd make sure to post a copyright notice with the material. He said not to do that because he hadn't copyrighted it yet. Then I spent several minutes writing him and explaining to him what copyright meant and how it was different from registering a copyright.

Naturally, I decided this would be something good to present on the blog because many of you are professional writers who haven't learned the business yet and many of you are amateur writers who also don't know the business dynamics of being a writer. Perhaps this will help.

From The Beginning

Copyright is yours from the get-go. When you create a work, you immediately own the copyright to that work. You don't have to do anything else in order to make this happen. You don't even have to slap that little circled C on the work, but you can if you want to. I do most of the time because it's kind of a sense of accomplishment.

Copyright Vs. Copyright Registration

Once you have created a work and therefore own the rights, it's a good business decision to register your creative work with the Copyright Office. Go online, get the form, fill it out, and submit your fee, and your Copyright will be registered.

This is important should you ever have to sue someone for infringing your copyright because you can't sue unless you've registered the work. Prior registration also allows you to collect attorney fees and statutory damages.

Meaning Of Copyright

Copyright is your protection and authorization to the exclusive use of all rights in the work. You can assign those rights to others. No one can display your work, publish it, copy it, or create anything from it (called a derivative work) without your permission. If they do, that's called Infringement, and you can seek legal redress.

Life Of Copyright

In the U. S., copyright is for the life of the author plus seventy years if the copyright is registered under your real name. If it is registered under a pseudonym, copyright is for 95 years after publication, up to 120 years from when they’re created, whichever is shorter. After copyright expires, a work passes into public domain.

Takeaway Truth

Copyright is a complex issue. Familiarize yourself with the basic tenets and make a point to learn about the subject in more detail. You can visit the U. S. Copyright website for more information.

Customize Your Blogger Template

On my other blog, I posted an interview with the code slinger who designed the WordPress template I'm using. After a bit of thought, I decided I should give some information to my Blogger friends about achieving a customized look for their blogs.


Back in the summer when I was customizing each of my blogs, as well as my daughter and my husband's blog, I must have visited a few hundred websites and tested at least twice that many templates to see how they looked with my content.

The process is actually quite easy to do, and, in the near future, I will give a step by step guide to help you accomplish this task.

Start Shopping Now

In the meantime, here's a website that offers templates for Blogger XML. Visit Falcon Hive, and you'll be amazed at their exquisitely designed blog templates.

I used one I found on Falcon Hive. Of the many, many sites I visited, Falcon Hive was the most user friendly. Not only do they have stunning themes, but all the themes that I tested worked smoothly and seamlessly with no parsing errors or other glitches.

Another thing I really like about Falcon Hive is that the theme designer gives you specific instructions on how to program elements of the theme to reflect your navigation to other websites, the header, tagline, etc.

Takeaway Truth

Just a little effort and a minor learning curve is all you need to make your blog have that custom look.

Worry Or Work

Quote for the Week

Dale Carnegie said: "If you can't sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It's the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep."

This explains why I'm up at all hours of the night working on something or other.

Takeaway Truth

Working at night instead of worrying may leave you yawning the next day, but you do get a lot accomplished. Or, at least I like to think so.

Hint Fiction Inspires Contract Discussion

Here's a tidbit about the changing face of fiction that I intended to pass on back in August, but I was dealing with my daughter's health issues full time then. Perhaps you've already heard about this, but I find it really interesting.

In the fall of 2010, W.W. Norton plans to publish an anthology of Hint Fiction.
Hint Fiction?

That's a story of 25 words or less that suggests a more complex, and, therefore, a more in depth, story. Their premise is that a 25 word or less story can have as much impact as a much longer story.


The anthology is supposed to have between 100 and 150 stories. (Let's see 150 X 25 words = 3,750 words, or the equivalent of about 15 double spaced manuscript pages. Hmmm. Wonder if the price will be representative of an average short story, if such a piece of writing were, by some miracle, to find its way into print in book form in today's world.


Norton held a contest for submissions back in August. They said: "We want your best work." They even offered to pay $25 per story for World and Audio rights. Now, if this were freelance writing, $1.00 per word would be a lovely fee for a project. However, this is for a book project that will probably garner quite a bit of interest simply because of its premise.

Inspired Discussion

What a perfect opportunity to point out contract differences and what they mean to writers. All the facts below are imaginary, but they illustrate the point.

Doing The Math

So that $1.00 per word doesn't sound so good for a book that will probably sell for at least 10.00, depending on its format, Worldwide. Flat rate contracts with all rights granted to the publisher means the writers get no royalties or residuals if you're used to the entertainment business speak. That smarts when a book may sell at least 20,000 copies.

Even a meager royalty contract usually grants at least 4% royalty to the author. $10.00 X 20,000 copies X 4% = $8,000.00. Divided among 150 authors means each author would get about $53.00. Gee, double isn't much more. Is it worth the bother?

It is because royalty contracts cover the future. Writers once planned on royalties for long term income and retirement.

The better contract is not because the author may make another 25 bucks. The better contract means that the author stands to keep earning. There's no telling how many books might sell nor how many more may sell in the coming years if the publisher keeps the book in print. I know writers who are making royalties on books published years ago.

True, these publisher-created projects rarely result in royalties for the authors, but this is an example for you to see the importance of royalty contracts. One can dream, can't one?

Takeaway Truth

Professional writers know the business of writing as well as how to craft plot points. Learn the business so you'll know what's a good deal for you.

Thomas Nelson Opens Vanity Press

A publishing company that charges writers to publish their books is a vanity press. In today's world, it's more polite to call them self-publishers. Now, I'm the first to admit that some books, my mom's memoir Memory Lane, for example, are suited for self-publishing because they're books that fit a very narrow niche.


The real news is that Thomas Nelson has found a new profit center according to the newsletter from Shelf Awareness a couple of days ago. I suffered a severe eye-rolling attack of Duh! when I read about Thomas Nelson Inc. launching West Bow Press, "an imprint whose books will be designed, published and distributed by Author Solutions Inc., the country's largest self-publisher."

The piece went on to say that Thomas Nelson wouldn't be editing manuscripts, but that they would monitor sales to identify potential big sellers. Michael Hyatt, Thomas Nelson's CEO, said: "There's no question we think this will generate revenue."

That last statement brought out the DUH and more eye rolling so I had to take to the keyboard.

New Profit Center

So a respected publishing house is going to launch a vanity press because they've figured out that people will pay big bucks to get their book published? This is just another profit center for a corporation, not a public service designed to bring legitimacy to vanity, or self, publishing as Kevin Weiss, CEO of Author Solutions, suggests in his statement about the partnership: "What this will do is to put the stamp of approval on self-publishing."

Soapbox Time

There is no stamp of approval needed for self-publishing if one uses this publishing process to publish a book that simply won't get picked up by a royalty paying publisher no matter how well-written it is. Again, my mom's memoir is an example. It's well-written, I saw to that, and packaged well, but I didn't think any publisher would be interested in the reflections of small town life during the Roaring Twenties and Great Depression by a non-famous person.

Narrow niche nonfiction books fit the self-publishing model well. At CreateSpace, the self-publisher I used, books like computer programming guides, vegan guides, and other esoteric content books do quite well. Even my mom's book has sold nearly 100 copies with no promotion. (I suspect popular history buffs have found it a treasure.)


Vanity publishing gets the sneer when writers whose manuscripts, usually fiction, are so mundane, boring, and/or poorly written that no publisher will plunk down money to publish it. It amounts to a question of quality. I've seen a lot of self-published books, and I'm forced to say that most of them are mediocre at best and embarrassing at worst.

Takeaway Truth

Mastering the narrative skills and writing thousands of words in an effort to get good enough to write something worth publishing has far more to do with claiming the title author than possessing the money to pay a publisher to print your manuscript.

There are no short cuts on the road to success, regardless of the career involved.


Dan Poynter, author of The Self-Publishing Manual, pointed out in Comments that my terminology was mistated (sic). He said: A publisher that takes money to publish your book is a vanity press. An author who invests in typesetting and printing is a self-publisher. A vanity press is not a "self". (sic) Please do not use the terms interchangably (sic).

He's correct. In some parts above, I do use vanity press and self-publisher in a shorthand way to mean that which is opposite a traditional royalty-paying publisher. For that, I apologize. Where you see me use the terms, as if a printing company and a person who is self publishing are identical entities, instead think vanity press and one who self-publishes.

You may find yourself wondering what the difference is between a writer who pays a vanity press to produce a book and a writer who self-publishes a book by paying a company for various editorial tasks and for printing the end result. Is there a difference? I guess that's a blog post for another day.

(If this is now as clear as mud, my job here is done I suppose. *g*)

CounterSpy Will Win You Over

I abhor those websites that offer software to scan your computer for spyware, but, then when it's found, they want you to pay a huge fee to download the software to get rid of the PC poison. That's why I think CounterSpy, Antispyware Software from Sunbelt Software is head and shoulders above the competition.

No Coercion Necessary

SunbeltSoftware.com gives you a free trial of the software, and if spyware is found, you can remove it without first paying. They believe in their product so intensely that they don't have to resort to extortion to get you to buy it. They know that once you've used it, you'll want to buy it. It's that good.

Rest Of The Story

And why shouldn't it be? Sunbelt Software is the creator of VIPRE, what I think is one of the best anti-virus softwares. I should know because I did a lot of research into the subject.

Back at the beginning of summer, I was retained to write about VIPRE, their innovative antivirus. I was so impressed with the product that I immediately purchased it for the new laptop I bought in June. CounterSpy is award winning, and it's the little brother of VIPRE. Best of all, you can get a site license for a very small fee, and I mean small, to cover every computer in your home. As soon as each of my Norton contracts expire, I'll be changing over to Sunbelt's product.

Visit Website

You can buy online, Chat Live if you have questions, read their daily list of Top Computer Threats, learn what's In The News, and even make suggestions for improvement with Feature Request. What's not to love?

Takeaway Truth

Make a better mousetrap, or, in this case, anti-spyware, and the world will beat a path to your door.

Jennifer Schuett Triumphs

It was all over the local news last night at 10:00. The man who sexually assaulted Jennifer Schuett 19 years ago then slit her throat and tossed her onto a fire ant mound has been arrested. Jennifer survived that, worked with a police artist after the attack, and, today, has the peace of knowing that the man has been caught. Read Harvey Rice's article and see photos at the Houston Chronicle website.

This heartless pedophile/rapist is Dennis Earl Bradford, now 40 and living in North Little Rock, Arkansas. You may recall that I posted the police sketch of him on the website. The photo is eerily similar to the 1990 driver's license photo of Bradford, a welder who is married and the father of 2 children and step father of 3 adult children.

Round Of Applause

Thanks and congratulations to Dickinson, TX, Police Detective Tim Cromie and FBI Special Agent Richard Rennison of the bureau's Texas City, TX, office for keeping their promise to Jennifer that they would never give up. To them, this was never a cold case file. When DNA technology testing had advanced sufficiently, they submitted the man's blue tee shirt and underwear found wrapped around Jennifer's pink shorts, shirt, and white underwear near where she'd been dumped.

Though the clothing had been sent to the FBI lab at Quantico, VA, last year, the backlog of work at the lab delayed testing until last month. They ran the results through the FBI database, and, not surprisingly, got a hit. The sample from Jennifer's attack matched the sample from Bradford after he was arrested in 1997 and convicted for the abduction and rape of a woman from a nightclub in Hot Springs, AR.

How Many More

Guess what? He also slit that woman's throat. Convicted, he was sentenced to 12 years but served only 4 before gaining parole. I wonder if there are other girls or women out there who weren't lucky enough to survive his disposal methods. Are there missing girls or women that can be tied to him?

What's really scary is to think that when he did this to Jennifer, he was only 21. Apparently, he lived near the apartment complex from which she was abducted. Was she his first victim after he'd spent years building up to that by committing lesser crimes that went unnoticed?

Let Your Voices Be Heard

Contact your elected officials. There must be a better way to identify these predators, and there must be more accountability for them once they enter the system. I mean, he was incarcerated for what I think is a heinous crime - kidnap, rape and attempted murder by cutting a woman's throat - so why was he deemed no threat and given early release?


We should all take a lesson from Jennifer Schuett and refuse to be victims. I'm grateful that she had the courage to step forward and give a face to her ordeal, and that made her, not a victim, but, in her words, "victorious." With her attacker's arrest, she's truly victorious.

Takeaway Truth

We writers always hear that persistence pays off. Most of us have the Calvin Coolidge quotation about persistence memorized. I'm glad that Detective Tim Cromie and Special Agent Richard Rennison embody the persistence Coolidge talked about. They never gave up. Never. Never. Thanks, guys.

(Cross-posted on Joan Slings Words.)

Hit The Wall

Eleven days ago I posted to Sling Words. Then, nothing but silence. I hit the wall of life and crumpled for a bit. Why? Well, that's a long story.

Long Story, Not So Short Version

This has been one godawful year. I won't even go into the stressful event that kicked off the year lest you think we live under a black cloud.

The climax, or so I thought, came in June with our daughter's orthopedic surgery. That was an ordeal on her, being made helpless and completely dependent on us until she was allowed up on crutches.

July brought complications from her enforced non-mobility in the form of a blood clot in her leg. I learned to love the hospital staff.

August brought the ordeal of watching her struggle to resume her teaching position wherein she fought the pain each day of working without the support of crutches, with only the boot to protect her precious reconstructed foot.

Finally, she was out of the boot and in physical therapy. For almost a month, we had a nearly normal life. She was able to resume driving so I was relieved of chauffeur duty. We were counting the days until she could walk without limping and the pain, still a 7 on a 10 scale, had disappeared.

What Happened

We've tried to pin it down when the accident happened, but we don't know if it was when she lost her balance and lurched onto her right foot with sudden force or whether it was the next day when she was walking outside and stepped in a slight depression in the ground.

The end result was sharp pain. The next few days the pain grew in intensity so we immediately went to her surgeon. The news was devastating. One of the bone grafts in her foot had fractured.

I Confess

For the first time in my life, I could not control my emotions. I broke down and cried in the doctor's office. She has been through so much, as have I and my husband. I would prefer all this physical agony be mine. I could bear it better than having it happen to her.

Prayers Needed

So, she's back in the boot. Her school district granted her an exception to teach on crutches. She's going to try to work despite the pain, now a full blown 11 on a 10 scale! In three weeks, she gets another X-ray. We're praying of course that the bone graft will have begun to heal again with new bone growing into and around it.

Short Version

Sometimes life sucks so bad that you have to withdraw, curl into a fetal position, and weep until you feel you can face life again.

Takeaway Truth

It's like that old Scots proverb: "I'll lay me down and bleed a while, and then I'll fight again."

Book Cover Art Contest

Today is the opening day for entries to the 2009 Judge A Book By Its Cover Contest, sponsored by Houston Bay Area Romance Writers of America.

Eligibility: Book published in 2009

Deadline: Entries must be received by January 15, 2010

Entry Fee: $15

Entry Requirements: The cover of your book or novella published by a traditional house, ePublisher, POD or self-published during 2009.

Entry Format: Electronic files (JPG or GIF) only

Categories: Contemporary Series, Single Title/Mainstream, Historical, Romantic Suspense, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Paranormal, Sexiest Cover

Judges: Booksellers in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia

Grand Prize: Winners will be featured in a full-page color ad on the inside front cover of the April Romance Writers Report, the magazine of Romance Writers of America.

For more information, an entry form and rules, visit Houston Bay Area RWA or email Leslie Marshman judgeabook at hbarwa dot com.

Takeaway Truth

If you're proud of your cover art, show it off.