I write weird

There I said it.

OK maybe not the actual words I put down on paper, but maybe my process is a little different.

Some of my writer friends find it very difficult to share a work in progress (what we in the knitting world call a WIP) until it has been completed and polished and revised and revised some more and then polished again.

Letting someone read it beforehand “gives away the magic,” I’ve been told.

Maybe that comes from the whole writer-as-starving-artist thingy, where we see the writer eking out word by painful word in a dark dingy garret, agonizing over every adverb and participle.

You know those writers— we’ve all seen them in an awful lot of past characterizations in movies, books and television.

Nope. Not me. Not this gal.

Maybe it’s my twenty years in newspapers, where we started each day with a blank page and collaborative put together the news — the stories— of the day by a prescribed time each day in a process that was anything but magic. That daily routine made me a collaborative writer.

As a new reporter (I won’t say young, because I came into the business in my mid-thirties), I’d submit a story, and then an editor would mark it up (and, at the same time, eviscerate my soul—how many times did I run into the ladies room to cry when my buried lead was excised with little or no anesthesia?). I’d resubmit it, maybe several times until that mean old crotchety editor finally (finally!) sent it on to the copy editors, who tweaked it some more, and then on to the composition room, who fit it onto the page… and, then, once again, to my agony, cut it if the story ran long.

In between all those steps, the story could or would come back, or be questioned or critiqued.

“Did you get the name of the dog the fireman saved?”

“You have the fire starting at 4:00. Is that AM or PM?”

“How many fire departments responded? What kind of equipment?”

“Verify the chief’s name please? Jesus, you’ve got it spelled three different ways. Which one’s right?”

Somewhere, somehow, by the time I was an old crotchety editor myself, and telling reporters “Jesus, you’ve got it spelled three different ways,” I began to write novels.

Something down deep inside made me do novels the same way I did newspapers.

I have a trusted group of folks in my critique group who function as those copy editors and line editors did, asking me the same questions, catching errors like the pros they are.

“Your hero has blue eyes through chapter 25 and now he’s got green eyes?”

“Look at your verb usage. She had bled? Just say she bled.

“How authentic is that reaction? Would you react that way if someone had just stolen something valuable of yours?”

These comments come during monthly writer’s critique group that I chair. It’s a great group of people, some of who seek publication, some of who just want to express themselves more effectively.

I don’t think showing my work in progress gives away the magic. On the contrary, I think it grounds the magic more.

And that doesn’t mean I take everyone’s critique as gospel. There is method to my madness.

Generally, if I get the same critique (outside of just plain wrong grammar, usage or spelling errors) from two or more people, I’ll look at it seriously and most likely make the suggested changes.

If only one person has a reaction to something I’ve written, I don’t dismiss it out of hand, but I have to consider where the critique is coming from. I have to consider at that point the person’s experience, their knowledge of the genre I write in and, sometimes even their motive. I hate it when I have to consider their motive. Only then will I look at seriously changing something.

It seems to work for me. So what about you?

Be sure to get your free copy of my e-book Lethal Little Lies on Amazon from Feb. 2-6 and get Death of a High Maintenance Blonde for free Feb. 8-12. Watch for my newest e-book Death Comes to Jubilant Falls in mid-February.

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Stepping into 2015

Halfway through January, I thought it probably a good idea to make up a list of writing goals for 2015.

After all, if you don’t have goals, how you gonna know where you want to go? And if you don’t know where you started, how can you know how far you’ve come?

For me, the largest goal involves increasing awareness of my books.

For every independent author, the responsibility for marketing falls squarely on his or her shoulders. I spend an inordinate amount of time talking to librarians, bookstore managers, and festival coordinators or combing the web for author events where I think my books and I will be a good fit—nearly as much time as I spend creating these stories. I spend money on advertising and give away a hell of a lot of books to garner the four and five-star reviews I have.

I have sold my books at author events, high school reunions, yarn shows, llama shows and fund-raisers for multiple sclerosis. I have sold my books, literally, out of the trunk of my car. Seldom do I go anywhere without a copy.

So why would I only have my eBooks available at one place?

It made sense then that my largest writing goal for the year involves moving my eBooks away from the exclusive Kindle Select Program on Amazon and onto some of the other platforms out there.

While it was a great program for me, limiting ones products to only one store can limit your sales. There is no doubt that Amazon is the biggest player in the sandbox and that the majority of my sales will still come from there, but it’s time to spread the wealth around a bit.

The first of the year, I moved Barn Burner and The Major’s Wife to Kobo, Google Play, Smashwords and Nook.

As my exclusivity with KDP ends on a book, I will move it to these other platforms.

On Feb. 1, the eBook versions Murder on the Lunatic Fringe will be available of Kobo, Smashwords, Google Play and Nook.

Ten days later, Lethal Little Lies will also be made available on those platforms.

While my exclusivity for my last books Death of A High Maintenance Blonde ends Feb. 12, I’m going to keep that with KDP until probably about May, when I plan to release a collection of all five mysteries in eBook format only.

(I like to have a bit of a free promotion on with some of my other books before the release of a new book and keeping at least one book in KDP will allow me to do that.)

If you haven’t purchased the Jubilant Falls series of mysteries, this collection will be a great way to get them all in one place.

And while all that is going on, I’m shooting for a July release date on my private investigator novel. This one is a little different for me and it’s going much slower than the others. Maybe I lived in my fictional world of Jubilant Falls, Ohio for too long. It’s time to stretch a bit and grow.

(I haven’t even mentioned the yarn stuff! In addition to the writing, come spring we will be shearing the llamas and alpacas, beginning the process of making and dyeing my yarns all over again! Not to mention going to llama shows… lots and lots of llama shows!)

My final writing project for 2015 is something I’m truly excited about.

For the last several months, I have been at the helm of a writer’s group in Chillicothe Ohio known as the Southern Ohio Writers and Readers Collaborative. It’s a very small group of writers whose experience ranges from beginner to seasoned professional.

I thought it would be a good idea for those new writers to gain experience in the publishing world, so we plan to put together an anthology of short stories and poems, with a target publication date of Nov. 1.

The eBook, whose title and theme are still being discussed, will be available for free and in time for the holidays.

Why don’t you come along for the ride?

Find me this year at:

April 24-26: The Indiana Fiber and Music Festival in Tri-County Shrine Club, 701 Potters Lane, Clarksville, Indiana. While it’s primarily a yarn show, I’ll have copies of all five Jubilant Falls mysteries with me for sale.

June 6: Just One More Romance author event at the Dayton Marriott, 1414 South Patterson Boulevard, Dayton, Ohio where I will sign books.

July: Loganberry Books Author Alley, Shaker Heights Ohio. Traditionally held on the first weekend of July, this is a celebration of indie authors like I’ve never seen and well worth your time. And there’s a street fair going on around us!

Sept. 18-20: The Wool Gathering, Young’s Jersey Dairy, Yellow Springs Ohio. Another great yarn show—and I’ll bring my books there, too!

Oct. 9-11: I’m considering bringing my books to my own hometown Enon Apple Butter Festival in Enon, Ohio. Why shouldn’t my hometown know I’m here, right?

Oct. 29-Nov. 1: Killer Nashville writer’s conference, Omni Hotel, Nashville.

Would you like me to come speak to your group about indie publishing or my mysteries? Drop me a line! I’d love to speak to your group!

Guilty as charged

I have been guilty of blog abandonment. I’ll admit it.

My friend Sharahn has been riding me this blog: “You need to work on your blog! You need to let people you’re out there! You need to build your brand!”

Yes, I do all those things, but I have to say, 2014 was an ugly year with a few bright lights interspersed along the way.

When I last published this blog, I had just lost my father-in-law, Richard ‘Shorty’ Gaskill tp kidney disease. My last entry was just days before his burial in Arlington Cemetery.

Over these past 12 months, I lost my stepfather, a WWII veteran, just before his 92nd birthday.

I have watched a long-term friendship founder and die—and because she was a newspaper editor I freelanced for, took a hit on my income stream as well. (I’m a loyal to the end, but freelance doesn’t mean free, even if I’m your best friend.)

My friends have struggled as well with serious illness (theirs and their spouses), injuries and surgery.

What are you gonna do? Some years just suck.

But there were some bright spots.

After struggling long and hard through the recession, my daughter moved to Washington DC, where she found a job with benefits and is thriving in an apartment of her own.

My son and his wife welcomed a second child in July. Miss Lena is a bright spot in all our lives. he also began his dream job, teaching audio engineering.

I have also reconnected with other family members in what can only be called wondrous and mysterious ways.

You never know when truth and blessing comes into your life. Maybe one day I can write about it.

My writing did not suffer, despite the long list of events in the year.

MURDER ON THE LUNATIC FRINGE was published in April, following extensive editing, and while it was being edited, I began writing the next book, DEATH OF A HIGH MAINTENANCE BLONDE, which came out in November.

The theme of HMB was how two people come back from professional and personal disasters to find love again.

Addison McIntyre is, as always, a character in the book, but the story centers on her new reporter Charisma Lemarnier, a reporter with a mysterious past, who is looking into two cold-case murders.

Everybody has known one of ‘those’ blondes, right?

There are blondes — and then there are high maintenance blondes. And Eve Dahlgren was a high maintenance blonde, even forty years ago in high school.

When Eve ends up dead, and Journal-Gazette publisher Earlene Whitelaw is arrested for her murder, it looks like an open and shut case. It’s up to editor Addison McIntyre to prove her boss didn’t kill her.

When those two story lines come together, the secrets of a small town get blown wide open.

I’m back to work on another novel. This one is a different direction. I’m writing about a private investigator named Niccolo Fitzhugh in a small Ohio steel town who’s investigating the murder of a hooker. I haven’t even come up with a title yet.

I felt like I needed to take things in a new direction, give my dear Addison a break and stretch my artistic/author wings a bit. It was just time.

The plan is to have the novel done by May—God knows I hope to have title by that time!

I’ve also taken on the leadership of a writer’s group in Chillicothe Ohio. Our project for the year is going to be an anthology of short stories written by the members, which will be published as an eBook near the end of the year.

Will I ever revisit Addison? I don’t know. Maybe that series, after five books, is done. I know I have several others plotted out and can return to it at any time. We’ll see. The newspaper business has changed so much that it has to be a part of the story as well.

But thank you for sticking with me and thank you for your interest in my little stories.

Lets make 2015 a fabulous year!