Sunday, November 18, 2012


Editing.  It is an emotional word for a writer.  A writer picks and chooses his/her words carefully. He tells the story that is in his heart, the story that plays over and over in his brain until it is put on paper.

Then the editor returns the copy.  There is so much red on the copy and notations on the margin that it looks like that paper that you threw together in JR High school. 

You thought you had a good story.  You have all ready written and rewritten the story multiple times.  Now, you aren't so sure.  With each correction you make, you feel your ego shrinking.  You swallow your pride and work on.

When it is over, you lick your wounds.  Then you read your manuscript and realize the story is more clear, more focused than it was before.

People think writing is easy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


The days of writers staying in anonymity are long gone.  These days, a writer is required to promote his or her work.  Quite often, the promotion is done at the writer's expense.  Fortunately, the computer and the Internet helps in this respect.  Traveling across the country is expensive, but with some work, an author can visit book clubs, schools, and public assemblies of all kinds via webcams or Skype.

A lot has changed since my first book came out in 2002.  Now we have Facebook, blogs, and so many other methods to make the public aware of our book.  In 2002, my sister, Denise, worked hard to make and maintain my first web site.  Last night and this morning it took me (a novice) about an hour and a half to build a nice web page.  As I get more information about the books--and book covers--I will continue to update the site.

I also put together a Facebook author page.  This will allow me to inform "fans" about important events involving the books; release dates, promotional sales, events I will attend, and so on.

Many things have changed in the publishing industry since 2002.  I am beginning to get excited!

My new web site:
My author's page:

Monday, October 8, 2012


People frequently tell me that they have always wanted to be published.  They have a story to tell, but just haven't had the time to get around to writing it.

At one time, being a published writer was a very difficult task.  A person had to research a magazine and know how to slant the story for a specific publication.  To have a book published was even closer to impossible.  Many publishing companies had their stable of writers.  Others had formulas or specific kinds of books that they wished to risk their funds to publish.  A new guy--especially one without an agent--didn't have a chance.

Now things are changing.  POD companies, ebooks, and Amazon have drastically changed the market.  More independent companies and self-publishing companies have emerged.  More people are getting a chance to become a published author.  That can be both good and bad.

A writer should always strive to improve his craft.  Part of improving your skill as a writer is reading the works of others.  At one time I was an English major.  I read and studied the works of the great writers.  What I didn't realize was that I could also learn from those whose writing leave something to be desired.

You see, I have developed the hobby of downloading ebooks.  Some are very entertaining.  Others aren't so great.  Before deleting a book I really dislike, I try to analyze why the book doesn't work for me.  Then I ask myself if I tend to make the same mistake.  For example, last week I read a book where an important character was killed in chapter two.  The murder left me emotionless.  The author had not made me like--or dislike her.  She was not real to me.  Her death was no great loss.  Neither was the book when I deleted it.  I realized I must make my characters real, or my books will be deleted also.

Who knew I could learn from reading bad books.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


What is the difference between:
1) a story that is filled with action, adventure, and well written
2) a story that catches your attention, draws you in, and tugs at your emotions 
Both stories show talent and creativity.  The second story is one in which you and the author have made a connection. 

As a school teacher I was trained to help children to make connections with stories so that they would learn to enjoy literature.  We were to ask the students questions like, "Do you remember a time when you got lost, like Curious George?  Were you afraid?"

Most adult readers do this on their own.  We connect with a character in the story.  We say the book interests us but we really have made a connection that keeps us reading.  It explains why some readers love nostalgic pieces while others enjoy sci-fi.  There is something in that genre or with that author that connects with the reader.

This truth about making a connection with an audience was really brought to my mind a few years ago when I watched the movie The Passion of the Christ.  I tend to disconnect when viewing emotional works, so I found myself analyzing the theater audience.  How were they responding to the movie?

There was a scene where Mary is watching her brutalized son marched to the crucifixion.  The audience cannot connect with that.  Very few women can empathize with a son who was treated like Jesus.  Instead, the writers give viewers a flashback.  We see the very young Mary rush toward her child as he is falling on the gravel road.  Every mother remembers trying to help her child with a skinned knee.  Every mother knows that pain!  In an instant I heard a wave of sobbing in the movie theater.  "Cinema genius," I thought.  I, too, remembered holding my crying child.  I, too, was weeping.

What did I learn about writing from that moment in the movie theater?  If you want to make a connection, try hitting a universal experience.  In A Changing Season, my main character is dealing with some post traumatic stress, in the form of a dream.  I considered having her dream about physical abuse, but thought that most people could not connect with such behavior from a parent.  Instead, she dreams about a sharp, cold man who cannot communicate.  I felt that people might connect with this sort of relationship.  Any other abuse is merely hinted at.

Did I wimp out or did I find a way of connecting with an audience?  You tell me.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012


So, I just got the message from my editor that I have turned in all the components for my my first ebook.  I have sent my bio., the questionnaire for the cover art, the manuscript edited, and formatted.  Whew!

I never feel confident about my titles, whether it is a magazine article or a book title.  I must be pretty good at it though.  I am seldom ever asked to change my title.  This time, however, I was told that my title, Second Chances, is very similar to the title of another book that will be released at the same time as mine.  Truth be told, I was getting second thoughts about the title, Second Chances, but I was afraid to say anything.  When my editor contacted me and asked me if I would consider changing the title, I agreed. 

Since themes from Ecclesiastes run through all the books in the trilogy, I decided to go with  the title, A New Season.  It will be available on Amazon as a Kindle release in January.  If you do not own a Kindle, you can get a free Kindle for PC download on your laptop or notebook. 

I can't wait to find out what the next step to this adventure will be!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


In my last blog, I posted about my new computer, its size, and its usefulness.  Since my next 3 books will come out in ebook form, I needed a method for reading them.  For this reason I went to the Kindle For Computer link and downloaded Kindle onto my portable computer.

My Kindle application came with 4 books.  I immediately erased 3 of them.  I will probably never read the 4th, but it is such a classic, I kept it all the same.  As I searched a variety of sites, I found that I had a bookstore at my fingertips.  From my home I could now download almost any classic or public domain book for a matter of pennies and in most cases free of charge.  After reading, I could even delete it if I wanted.  Why would I ever go to a library again?

The newest best seller could now be purchased for 1/2 the price of a hardcover or paperback book and begin reading it in a matter of seconds.  Each page is crisp.  You can control the color of the paper (bright or dim) and even control the size of the print--great for someone with eyestrain.

The big jackpot for a cheapskate like me--many of the newer books are free, too.  If an author is trying to create a buzz about a new book, especially the 2nd or 3rd in a series, the first book is, at least for awhile, offered free of charge.  There are several services that will email you about Amazon and Kindle discounts.  Yesterday, I downloaded a book by Jerry Jenkins and Linda Goodnight,both well-known authors who have free book offers. 

I have heard of people who have collected hundreds of books on their Kindle in a very short time.  So far, I am being picky.  In a week's time I have only collected about 10, but I have been deleting the ones I don't like as well as keeping the ones I do.

I do miss turning the pages of a real book, but at least these don't get frayed.  I used to like the smell of the pulpy books, but lately I have become more sensitive to book mustiness.  I am sure I will always love the feel of a hardback in my hands, but ebooks have their place, too.

Here is where you can find the Kindle download:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Well, I hit a snag.  My son's computer has Microsoft Work instead of Word.  When my publisher sent a file and I opened it in Work, the file corrupted.  Sigh.  This is not the first time that it happened, but it took almost all day to finish that document.  I have been without a computer for over a year.  It is time I get the right materials for the job.

I gathered all the gift certificates I have been collecting for over a year and put them together.  Then I waited for Tennessee's school tax free weekend to make my purchase.  One weekend a year a list of school supplies, including certain computers, can be purchased tax free.

Finally, I made a list.  What was I looking for in this purchase?  1) I desperately needed a portable computer, something that would fit in my purse or bag.  At the same time, I wanted a computer with a traditional keyboard, not one of those touch screen thingies. 2) I wanted a computer that would allow me to download Kindle style books.  3) I needed Microsoft Word.  I was tired of corrupted files.  4) I was on a budget.  I needed a computer that was economical.

It seemed too much to ask.  I certainly didn't want to compromise on any of the first 3 on my list.  If I got all three of those, I doubted I would be able to keep #4.  I was about to give up and settle for a Kindle.  On my way to the register, I walked past a little Gateway laptop with a 12 inch screen.  It is so cute and fits in my oversize purse.

What did I learn?  When shopping for a computer, know what you want and don't compromise.

Now I have to redo that file and get it to the publisher before Monday.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Since I am consumed with my new contract and making deadlines, it is only reasonable that would be the topic of my next few posts.  There are many misconceptions about what it means to be a writer and what a writer's life is like.  Maybe this blog will give some insights.

True, I am not a writer like Stephen King or Jan Karon.  Still, I am a published writer and have been paid for my work.  --And I have never paid for my work to be in print.  I have always held to the principle that money should flow to the author, never away from the author.  It is how I have managed to wander through the minefield of publishing scammers.

Anyway, I have learned so much by working with Desert Breeze and I haven't even seen anything in print yet.  One interesting thing I was asked by the publisher was to do a search and find on my manuscript.  My first search was on the word that.  I was amazed!  It literally took hours to correct the overuse of the word that.  Then I looked for the phrase as if.  That only took about 45 minutes.  Then I was asked to search for words ending in ly--yes, those nasty adjectives.  That took another 6 hours.

What a learning experience!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Did I tell you?  The contract finally arrived.  It is real.  Deadlines are real. First there was a delight, as if all my writing dreams were coming true.  Then there was fear--panic.  Would I be able to do all that was required?  

Then I took a breath.  God had not brought this far for failure.  I could do this.  I would do this.

With the editing done, all that is left is formatting--which I am very poor at, by the way.  Still, it will be done.

The next hurtle is book #2 in the series and promoting book #1.  Such is a writer's life.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Those of you who follow my blog know my dream has been to be a real writer, not just one who is paid for his product, but is known for it.  This past week I have come one step closer to that dream.  I have been offered a contract by Desert Breeze for a 3 ebook deal.  I posted, a few months ago, that I would keep people appraised about what it is like for a writer who is trying to get a manuscript published.

Second Chances was first sent to a publisher in 2007.  It has been rewritten a multitude of times since then.  It has been edited (by me) twice since then.  I am editing it, once again, and reformatting the text before it goes to the Desert Breeze editors.

People amuse me when they think they can write stream of consciousness and get it published--as if their words were divinely inspired.

I know it will continue to be hard work, but it is also satisfying work.  Follow my future postings if you are curious as to what it takes to become a published writer.

Monday, April 2, 2012

PERSON OF INTEREST--When Fiction Feels Real--part 3

I began these entries as way to examine the popularity of a single TV show, that has struck a chord with its fans. Though clearly fiction, often evoking the mood of super-hero comic books, there are certain themes that make the show feel authentic.

First, we examined the paranoia that the average person feels, whether shopping in the mall, or driving under a traffic light. The second theme was that of deception--people and situations aren't as they first appeared. The final theme of Person Of Interest--and my personal favorite--is the theme of redemption.

Reese was once a soldier, then a CIA agent. When we are first introduced to him, he is homeless and living in New York. Carter arrests him after he fights off bad guys in a subway. She tries to give him some advice, one vet to another. Then a stranger, Finch, posts his bail and hires him to do a job that no one else can do. Finch knows Reese is the man for this job, because he has been watching him.

Reese is given the chance to make up for whatever he did in a former life that filled him with regret and self-loathing. He solves crimes and prevents murders in a vigilante style, though more efficient than the police. All the clues are given by Finch's creation, The Machine. In the episode, By the Numbers, Reese is critically injured and, as Finch attempts to save him, Reese thanks his partner for a chance to redeem himself.

--But Reese is not the only redemption story. In the first episode, Fusco is a dirty cop who intends to kill Reese and dump his body in a swamp. Reese forces Fusco to become his lackey instead. By the end of the first season Fusco admits that it feels good to be known as a good cop again. The feeling doesn't last long as Fusco is forced to go under-cover as a bad cop, to continue to work for the good-guys.

It is that feeling of redemption that drives this show. --But our characters are limited and sometimes make mistakes. They are sometimes manipulated by Elias and used as his pawns. Redemption is a difficult thing to attain when one is working in the human realm. --And Elias proves to be a formidable foe.

We feel Reese's struggle. We mourn over Fusco as his name continues to be soiled, and we wonder what is in Finch's past that drives him to lose one identity and constantly create new ones. Even Carter has past regrets that haunt her.

Maybe we look at our own secrets and hope it is possible to somehow redeem ourselves. Maybe we can make amends, recreate ourselves, and create a better life for those we love. Maybe that hope helps fuel the popularity of Person Of Interest.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Person of Interest is a CBS TV program that is part of the Thursday night line-up. It is an action/adventure show that occasionally gives homage to movie heroes like Mad Max, Dirty Harry, and Batman.

The show has a very loyal fan base and I believe part of that comes from universal themes that strike deep emotional chords with viewers. In my last post, I discussed briefly the feeling of paranoia--the idea that we are all being watched.

Today I would like to explore the theme of deception, the idea that people or situations are not as they first appear. In each episode our heroes, Reese and Finch, are assigned by the "all-seeing" machine at least one social security number of a person who is either going to be a victim of, or is planning to commit a crime. Reese and Finch must decide how to intervene.

In one episode Reese follows a caring, talented doctor he thinks is being stalked by a serial rapists. In reality she is stalking the rapists, planning to kill him so he cannot rape again. People in this show have many layers. They can be a mixture of both good and bad.

In another show, a talented and much loved school teacher's life is saved by Reese. This man turns out to be the heartless mob leader, Elias, who kills without remorse.

On the other hand, Reese and Finch have met their share of suspicious people, who turned out to be totally different. For example, there was the apartment superintendent who liked to tell tall tales. In the end his tales turned out to be the truth.

Viewers can strongly connect to the reveal of the characters we meet each week. After all, how many of us have "made friends" with someone at work, only to have that person stab us in the back for a promotion? What about the person in our social circle who loves a good tidbit of gossip--to use against us when necessary? Let's not forget the friend who "stole" the person you wanted to date.

--And what about those people who we first wrote off as useless, who later became important in our lives. P.O.I. seems real because we can relate to the situation. People are seldom what they first appear to be. Only time reveals one's true character. P.O.I. takes the time to develop those characters.

Monday, March 12, 2012


As a writer, I often find myself analyzing pop movies, books, and TV. I inquire as to why these things have attained such popularity. Lately, I have been focusing on a single TV show, Person of Interest. This show is gaining cult status, much like LOST, Forever Night, or Star Trek.

I usually don't go for movies or TV shows based on comic books or Mad Max style action heroes. I was, however intrigued by the premise of a TV show about post-911 surveillance, organized by a super-computer.

Person of Interest is a show that causes the viewer to willingly suspend disbelief in order to enjoy clever writing. Though the story is pure fantasy, it seems real. This is partially because the show deals with themes that the viewers feel to be real.

There are 3 basic themes that reoccur in the show and they strike a chord with fans. These themes are paranoia, deception, and redemption.

Person of Interest explores our basic paranoia, the feeling that someone is watching us. The machine not only sees us, but judges us. The color of the facial recognition squares on the screen, determines the degree of our violent intent. When a man on the screen says, "I would kill for that job," the machine decides whether or not this is an actual threat. Viewers find it easy to believe that tracking a person in this way is not only possible, but probable.

Our heroes, Reese and Finch, however, manage to remain invisible--often hiding in plain sight. Their identities remain unknown and they are able to move throughout New York City in anonymity.

We live in a world where our identities are always in danger. It is nice to feel that it could be possible to "live off the grid." Instead, we are more likely to believe that we are being tracked by our cell phone's GPS or that someone has bugged our land line. I have to admit my own paranoia was piqued recently when I put my own cell phone beside my lap top and was suddenly able to overhear a total stranger's conversation.

It is our basic paranoia that draws us into the world of Person of Interest. It is the other 2 themes that keep us there. I will explore those themes in future posts.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

After The Memorial Service

Yesterday I attended the memorial service of a friend. Though the focus of such things is, naturally, on the deceased and the family, I am always reminded of life's ephemeral quality.

I once wondered how I would be remembered after--well--you know. I like to think that we are all connected--like in the Hollywood movies. It is hard to keep a dry eye at the end of an It 's A Wonderful Life style movie. I would even love to write such a life-affirming tale. The truth is, I have days when I really doubt that my life has such a ripple effect on others. Have I inadvertently saved a ship load of soldiers or kept Potter from taking over the city? My ripples just aren't that wide.

So now, as I am attending more funerals of people my own age, I realize it is not so much about how I will be remembered when I die, but will my memory linger at all? It is a bitter pill to swallow, a major readjustment as I gauge my life, my decisions, my goals. How does one live this new phase of life--knowing that tomorrow is not promised, that all you have accomplished will be forgotten?

Then I turned to Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 NKJ.

9. What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?
10. I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied.

11. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
12. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives.
13. and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of his labor--it is the gift of God.

Why didn't I notice those verses years ago? I guess I needed them the most--today.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Well, I took the big step.

Yesterday, on MLK day, I sent off my manuscript to a publishing company. This is the 3rd time to send
, Second Chances, to this editor. There were specific changes she wanted me to make before considering it for publication. I quickly realized the changes greatly improved the story.

Second Chances is about 5 years in the making. That is 5 years of writing, sending to publishers, rewriting, sending to other publishers, setting the story aside, then rewriting again. Most of that time I have been working at a "day job," too.

Now, I wait--and pray.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


I am just checking in today. I have been editing a manuscript and really have not had the time to post on my blog since New Years.

The holidays came and went--and I continued to work on creating this baby of mine, the first in a series of three books. It is a story about a mother's search for her missing teen, a detective who might be able to help her, and the single clue--a boy who claims to have seen a U.F.O.

So are you interested, yet?

One of my resolutions--to find a publisher for this novel. With a wish and a prayer, and a lot of work, it'll happen.