Friday, April 29, 2016

If You Not Wrong Us - My Story

I want to tell you my story. It is an important and inspirational story about life and love and betrayal. All of it will go into my book If You Not Wrong Us. I was used, lied to, and grifted for thousands of dollars. If I showed you the spreadsheet of the so-called loans and money scammed under false pretenses you would be horrified. I'm horrified, too, but I decided to use this story to help others avoid my pitfalls.

This man came into my life under false pretenses right from the beginning. In doing my research and checking, I've managed to piece together the truth. The truth didn't come from the source of the behavior, but from my own investigation. My only regret is that I didn't dig in sooner.

I let this man play, con and use me. I loved him. I would have done anything for him -- and he knew it. Yes, I kept having misgivings. Yes, my gut screamed warnings, but love is blind. Love is blind. Your heart wants what your heart wants. And thus, what I beat myself up about is not listening to my gut and letting him (as they say on the streets) "come-up" on me.

This deadly deceptive man was married and pretending to love me. He lied and asked me for money to divorce his wife. I gave him the money. The divorce never took place, but he told me it did. He told many other women the same story. I have no idea how many other women he "came-up" on and stole from. I'm sure there are more out there. I have no doubt.

But the real moral to the story: I am in recovery. I have found true love. After this criminal was exposed in my life, I began anew and the most amazing thing happened. This wonderful man appeared in my life. The most unexpected and caring man. My true soul mate and best friend.

We can stay up all night and talk and talk and talk. He makes me laugh. He's committed and readily emotionally available. He loves me and tells me nonstop. I stopped and said, "After all the women in the world, why me?" He said, "You're wonderful. You don't even know how special you are. You have that smile and light in your eyes."

I realized something important from his words. I had allowed a low-life conman to take away my self-confidence and self-worth. This man had made me feel like a big nothing. He hid me from his life. He made it seem like I was nothing but a business associate. He used me. He stole from me. But worse, his actions and behavior toward me stripped me of my confidence and worth.

So when Chris, my beautiful lover and boyfriend, showed up he started to tell me a whole different story about how he perceived me. And through his eyes I not only recognized how I had allowed this low-life-not-worth-anything ex-business associate and lover to reduce my feelings about myself down to nothing, I was finally able to see my own value again. Every day since Chris showed up, he mirrors back to me nothing but love and generosity. A desire to be true to me. We have it "firing on all four pistons". What a miracle. What a gift. We both deserve it. His life hasn't been paved with blessings either. But now we have each other.

So ladies, never, never, ever let someone steal your self-worth. Don't let anyone define you, but you. Don't let anyone steal your "mojo". Yes, this man destroyed me financially and walked away from the mess. But ultimately no one can destroy your spirit. Don't let anyone ever steal your spirit! As I have more than told this man (and know this will be true): until he does right by me, everything he touches is going to rot. Doing right by me means paying me back every cent he stole and honestly telling the truth about what he did to me. Not telling people I'm crazy or lying. He knows I'm not lying nor crazy. He knows what he did to me. So hear this now and hear me roar:

Until you do right by me everything you touch is going to rot.

And in the meantime, I'm going to rebuild every inch of my life. I'm going to be back on top and successful. And most importantly I'm happy with Chris Carter, my beautiful, sexy, thoughtful, smart, and good-hearted BIG man. I call him my Big Man. He protects and cherishes me. And I feel so fortunate.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Future of Publishing and eBooks

The publishing industry is in transformation with the eBook revolution changing the business model. The value of eBook publishing offers many positives to buck publishing industry trends -- one being the ridiculous book-return policies practiced by book distributors. Book distribution into the bookstores is a literal joke. The other day I got a bill for $2,000 from Baker and Taylor. I said I haven't even had $2,000 in royalties paid to me, why do I owe you this money? They replied that I had accepted an agreement to take all returns from all sources. Not understanding obviously what that had meant I became disgusted. How can any business make money under the weight of such nonsensical policies where I'm obligated to pay for books returned from any source. With no tracking on which books were returned, I couldn't even reconcile that information on the royalties.

Now I'm wondering how to revise the business model. Authors still expect bookstore distribution. The ability to make money with this model is virtually impossible. I've come to the point where I tell authors don't expect the bookstore distribution to pay off unless you become a household name. I've also placed restrictions on contracts that unless your book has an established sales track record there is no reason to even try the bookstore distribution route.

The future of publishing is in question. I am leaning toward almost exclusive eBook publishing to cut costs and increase profit margins. I know many people still prefer print, but the sales ratio speaks for itself. For every 1 print book I sell these days we have at least 9 eBook sales in comparison. This number continues to flux a bit with each book and its respective audience, but none the less it's not going the opposite direction.

I imagine that much like vinyl records, print books will become a novelty item in about 15 years. Once the print industry phases out more and more as the impact of eBooks is felt, the overall change on the economy of publishing will show itself. Printers whose high per book print price means net profits are barely worth the effort will find fewer clients interested in printing.

I don't know exactly where this resolve itself with my company, but an outcome is inevitable. And the benefit of zero storage requirements and reduced overhead in postage costs makes the eBook market even more promising than ever.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

1 Tip to Keep Social Media Audience Interest

How do you grow your followers without having to do the outreach? I have one key tip:

Keep your posts interesting!

I didn't say salacious, profane or hateful. Keeping your posts interesting doesn't require you post your bare skin, bikini pictures, or anything that resembles Playboy.

Keeping it interesting requires lots of pictures (people like visuals), thoughtful or provocative, and generally intelligent. When you're out and about look for the opportunity to photograph something different. Food shots are marginally interesting if it's a great meal or wine or even coffee.

Beauty is all around you. Interesting things happen all around you. Make note of these things on social media. Write your own great quotes and thoughts. Inspire other people. Use your life events and lessons learned to share and help other people grow from your experiences. Use humor or be humorous in your responses to other people's posts.

All business these days benefit from social media, but remember it's "social" and social means being social and sharing. Businesses should not use social media in a cold marketing and advertising way. People aren't on social media to read advertisements or like advertisements. Businesses would best be served to put a marketing authority in charge of their social media and give this person permission and parameters on what to post, but keep it real.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

3 Important Tips to Sell Books

I've watched readers and behavior when interacting with books. Here are the three things you want to be your very best to close a sale:

1. Enticing book cover -- the very first thing that lures in readers is a great book cover. A great book cover is the first draw to get a prospective reader to pick up your book. It's the first step toward a sale.

2. Fantastic title -- readers walk up, they see an intriguing title. A great title should be interesting, mysterious, intriguing, and not so own the nose direct that it won't spark the question, "What is this book about?" Note: If your title is esoteric or unique, make sure your subtitle tells the reader what the book is really about. Your subtitle should be direct.

3. Captivating back-cover copy -- reader picks up book based on cover and title and what does he/she do next? Flip the book over and read the back-cover copy. I've learned that you need to make sure your copy reaches the right audience. My book Body in the Trunk had a first draft of the back-cover that misled readers into thinking it was a romance novel when it was a murder mystery. When I realized that mistake, I rewrote it and reprinted it. You want to capture the interest of readers who enjoy your genre and not rule them out by not communicating the contents of your book effectively. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Dear Player ...

Dear Player,

You think you're so smooth. You think it's cool to brag to your friends how you have X-number of girls on the hook. You think it's so amazing that you could get girls to fall in love with you and then take advantage.

Dear Player,

Let me tell you true. Life has a way of making justice prevail. You will not get to move on and act like you did no wrong. Your callous and insensitive and purely selfish behavior will find you. You will pay a price higher than the physical plane.

Dear Player,

When the scale of justice weighs in on you then you will know the price of your messing with hearts and minds. You will have to pay that price and it will come in a way that will destroy you. And you will heartlessly wonder why? How could this have happened? What did I do?

Dear Player,
The classic line is what applies to you ... Straight from the Color Purple and Miss Celie: Until you do right by me, everything you even think about gonna fail!

6 Common Questions Writers Ask

Some interesting questions I commonly get asked that I want to share and answer. I work with dozens of writers, and I get asked all sorts of questions about the profession. So here are some common questions and answers:
Do you have a writing routine? For 3L Publishing projects, I have very specific routines and processes. For my own writing, I don't have the time to include a routine per se. What I usually do is work at night and just go for it. Other writers do things like write eight pages per day or write in the mornings or evenings for at least an hour. I do recommend you give yourself some kind of goal. I like the eight-page rule because you know when you're going to wrap it up, and if you want to go longer that works, too.
Do you take input from readers? Yes, I like to do focus groups. I don't recommend you do a focus group with friends and family. You want unbiased opinions. Friends and family can't help but be nice. Nice doesn't sell books. So use social media and take volunteers of associates in your extended network.
Do you use a writing coach even though you're the publisher? Yes, I do like to work with my own coach on projects. It helps me see the proverbial tree in the forest. You can't see the little or even big things that make your work go from good to great. A writing coach with an experience professional will help you pull back and see clearly to improve you work. In my case, I'm not too big for britches to not set aside my ego and ask for help. Sometimes I think our egos are a barrier to our greatness. Besides, if you don't like or agree with something you can keep it as-is.
What can I do to proof my own writing? I love this one: read it backwards. You're focused on the words not the sentence. Reading backwards will help you catch spelling and grammar errors. When we read our eyes can literally put a word in that isn't even on the page. It's strange how it happens, but it does. Reading backwards will not solve the entire proofing challenge, but it will help clean up your work.
How long should the average book or novel be? The average novel should be 50,000 words. NaNoWriteMo requires a 50,000 word minimum for its writing competition that typically takes place in November. Anything below 50,000 words is considered a novella.
Does it matter if it's a novella or novel? Yes, most publishers like to publish novels. Novellas are short, and this format is not the most popular among readers. So aim for 50,000 to 75,000 words, which is industry standard. I always say why go into a very difficult industry to break into by giving yourself a strike before you ever enter the door. Always try and cover your bases - especially if you're a new writer.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

4 Tips for Hot-Selling Book Covers

Did you know a book cover (not content) can sometimes be the determinant of whether or not a book sells? I know authors may feel disappointment that a visual aid could make or break their books, but it's one of those realities.

Here is what I know about great book covers:

Sex always sells. It is just the way it is and no use in fighting mother nature. So a compelling and sizzling sexual cover can do wonders to pique curiosity and sales.

Beauty sells though too. One of our authors was stuck on whether to go sexy or beautiful. She went beautiful on instinct and her book cover for Passenger from Greece was acknowledged with a finalist award.

Headline treatments can stand on their own. A compelling title combined with an interesting use of typography and white space can provide the tools for some fantastic book covers.

Mystery and intrigue provide the basis for great covers. Think about 50 Shades of Grey, a now iconic book cover. It had a lure of dark mystery about the tie and the hand on the tie.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Abused - Chapter 15

The Abused is about eight addicts who go to rehab and one starts murdering the others. The complete novel will be available this summer in an eBook-exclusive release by 3L Publishing ( 


            After coming out of detox, Kevin was shaken. He had detoxed on his own many weeks before arriving at rehab. He wasn’t really gay. He just liked sex and gender didn’t to matter to him. He thought of himself as more sophisticated than the average guy.  He had never had enough money to go to school, but he had been good with engines and machines and managed all right.
When he met his former wife he should have felt lucky to have this educated, beautiful woman want him, but he was arrogant. He thought she was lucky. He bragged to his buddies how this poor desperate chick wanted him. He had always been good with women, acting like their best friends and listening to boring drama-queen shit about friends and boyfriends. Merry though was always quiet and reserved. She never whined about stuff. He liked that about her. At the same time her coldness was hard to deal with, too. She could be nice and all, but she had this layer of iciness about her.
He wondered about her every now and then. Jude had quit talking to him after their drug bust. She had so expeditiously divorced him and never contact him again. He wasn’t surprised. She could be decisive and quick when she felt burned. Once her sister lied about their mom’s Christmas present, a food processor, costing $200 to get an extra $100 out of Merry, and when Merry caught on she never spoke to Carrie again. Of course Kevin knew they had a long contentious history. She had shared some of her tortured childhood with him, but judging by her ability to detach and cold people out, he figured the abuse went pretty deep.
He received her alimony checks each month right on time without question. It made him feel almost bad in a way. He knew it was court-ordered, but the way the checks so faithfully arrived made him think somewhere in that ice-cold heart of hers she still felt something … maybe. He honestly couldn’t say. Yet the checks arrived on time each month. With two grand in his account it allowed him freedom to work at his leisure. But truthfully it had given him too much freedom, which is how he wound up getting deeper into drugs.
The addiction had become at first a welcome friend to ease his mind from daily burdens. Drugs and booze made him feel good. It made him forget the ever-growing coldness in his marriage. It made him able to tune out Merry when she asked him to help around the house or at least put his shit away after using it. His drug-fueled binges left his memory foggy, but he did recall taking a Bic razor to her throat once and then laughing like a hyena at the ridiculousness of a cheap plastic razor being able to do any real damage. Merry though was shockingly distant and unaffected. She just stared coldly at him while he cackled on and on. He thought she would make a great dictator or something. Nothing ever seemed to bother “her-coldness”.
And then he had started up with Jude, a man. Most women got confused by the whole homosexual thing. It’s hard to compete with genitalia that is unlike your own. Merry though – she had no fight in her when she caught him with Jude. He saw the light in her eyes dim even more. Jude was callous but also insecure. He had worried that Kevin’s meal ticket would leave them high and dry, and that Kevin would go back after her. Jude had fantasies of a gay life with his lover at his side. And really Jude wasn’t such a bad guy. He was handsome and caring when he wanted to be. On Valentine’s day he bought Kevin those “tickets” where you pick one and have to do that to your guy. The first one was “suck his cock” and Kevin obliged even though it made him gag sometimes. He refused to swallow as that was so “gay” to which Jude cracked up.
“What you’re not gay?” he had chuckled.
“No, I’m pansexual,” Kevin had flatly replied.
Jude’s response was continued laughter. He thought pansexual sounded like an airplane ride straight to “Gay-ville” as he referred to places like The Castro or Guerneville in the redwoods. Kevin remembered a particularly perverse and fun weekend spent in the redwoods running naked along this stream bed that was empty (it was late summer), but absolutely beautiful with ferns and plant life lined along the edge of it. He remembered the banana slug and even the snake hidden in a tree trunk all coiled up.
His memories of Jude were also corrupted by drug-fueled homosexual orgies with Jude’s various buddies. By this time his marriage to Merry had transformed into a farce. They quit having sex even though mechanically speaking it was pretty good sex. But when Kevin tried to connect with Merry on an emotional level, she was vacant. He would stare into her dead eyes and hope for something more than physical relief to show her feelings and pleasures. All she did was moan and close her eyes to her husband. She could blame him all she wanted, but she had checked out of the relationship long before Jude came along.
Jude wanted them to do a commitment ceremony, but Kevin wasn’t interested in the gay lifestyle. He liked Jude, but his preference really was with women. He did want a family, too. And since had been raised by a Protestant minister, he felt a slight twinge of disgust at the idea of raising children with another man. Of course, he never mentioned this feeling to Jude, but he figured Jude might have sensed it. So when they started doing heavier and heavier drugs, Kevin felt sure Jude was truly checking further out of their relationship, too. The drugs enabled them both to avoid reality. And once Merry was gone, Kevin no longer had any barrier to going as deep into the drugs as he preferred.
Now here he was in rehab. Jude was gone. Merry was gone before Jude. His life was vacant, and he was facing forward as a sober man with a shameful past. But he often smirked, he still had his charm to get by on. He could charm any woman and even the most devout lesbian out of her panties. He was good looking and sweet when he wanted to be.
On this day, he was supposed to start individual therapy with Craig. He liked Craig. He seemed like a down-to-earth guy who understood more about drugs than most. His frankness in their group therapy made Kevin feel like there was someone out there who could maybe help him stop. He did want to stop. Drugs were ruining his life, and he hoped to shape up and find normalcy, whatever that was for him and no one else.
He found himself knocking on Craig’s office door and being asked to come in. He walked hesitantly in and sat down on the toupe-colored sofa. He noticed all these shrinks had sofas and blankets. What were the blankets for? So you could cuddle your “blankie” while you confessed your sins, he thought to himself. Craig motioned to him to have a seat, and Kevin plopped down. Craig walked from behind his desk and took a seat in the chair across from the sofa.
“Hey, you know they put me in detox, man.”
“They put most people in detox.”
“Yeah, well I was straight, dude, and that sucked. These drug heads were like screaming at the top of their lungs and shit. I was like the only sober dude in the joint.”
Craig glanced at his file. “Hmm… well our executive director ordered it.”
“Why? And who the fuck is this person?”
“You don’t get to meet her. In fact, she doesn’t work with patients and she prefers no close contact to keep her objectivity with you all.”
“And she gets to tell me where to go?”
“Someone who won’t even look at my face?”
“Who the fuck makes these stupid rules. What is the dude like Ghandi – too good for the rest of us addicts?”
“He is a she.”
“Look, let’s talk about you. How are you doing.”
“I hate this shit.”
“You will for a long time.”
“How long?”
“The rest of your life.”
“Are you fucking serious.”
“As a heartbeat.”
“You know they want you to cut the profanity, right? It’s part of self-respect.”
“How’s that? And who f— … shi— crap, whatever! Cares!”
“We do. We are going to retrain your way of being. We want you to value yourself. To love yourself enough that you would never think to pollute the body, the temple God gave you, with drugs. And when we’re through we hope you will return a reformed man to society. A man who understands what it means to be a man. And how a man should behave and treat others. We don’t promise for one minute you will ever stop craving the drug, but what we do promise is it will get easier over time. And we’ll give you the tools to help.”
Kevin shifted uncomfortably. “Yeah, okay.”
“All right let’s see … you ready to relearn your life skills?” said Kevin as he sat forward and clapped and rubbed his hands together.
“F— um, yeah.”
“Turn to step one of the 12 Steps. ‘Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addiction and that you life has become unmanageable.’”
“Ah, come on doc. Only the cops think that.”
“Oh, so your life was so great that you got busted, thrown in jail, and wound up here. Is that right?”
“No,” said Kevin sullenly.
“The first step doesn’t mean you’re less of a man, Kevin. It means you’re actually more of a man by admitting you’ve got a real problem. Do you?”
“Do I what?”
Craig stared at him.
“Yeah, yeah, fine.”
“You have to mean it for this program to work.”
“F— um, okay … yeah! Yeah, yeah!”
Craig got up and opened the door. Kevin looked at him in confusion.
“I want you to go. Go to the rose garden. Sit in the bastion of nature. And I want you to think about the first step. And when I see you tomorrow, we are going to discuss it.”
Kevin stared at him. He reluctantly got up.
“I fu— shi—, huh!” he sighed searching for better words. “I hate roses.”
“Grow to love them. And don’t forget to study the aphids. No go.”
Kevin looked once more at Craig. “Aphids? Are you for real?”
Craig just stared at him. Kevin had a fleeting thought of blowing him to get out of the rose garden. This thought almost made him chuckle aloud. He miserably obeyed his new “master,” which is how he would come to think about Craig, the counselor, the therapist, the guy who told him to sit in a fucking rose garden to search for answers.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

9 Signs You're Being Conned and Played

Recent events in my life got me to thinking. Why don't I listen to my intuition like I should. First, some people will try to tell you that you don't even have an intuition. Stop right there. Want to know what is your intuition? It's the slightly uncomfortable feeling that something isn't quite right. It makes you feel uneasy and provokes you to question things more than you normally would. 

After being monumentally lied to for not just a short period of time, but literally years I felt so angry. Not just with him, but mostly mad at myself for continually chasing my little voice into a closet. The man in question lied and lied and lied and lied until the very definition of lying should be "his mouth is moving". 

After being manipulated and conned out of literally thousands of dollars, I really was indignant. At the same time, the signs were all over the place. So for the art of teaching others important lessons I learned at both the expense of my bank account and emotions, here are some warning signs that your man is a player, liar, conman, cheater, you name it. I hope women (and men) out there pay close attention to this list, because if it's happening to you don't roll over and take it. Leave his/her sorry behind in the dirt and move on. 

PS, your scammer will NEVER admit he's lying, so don't count on that as a way to get to the truth. If you want the truth, ask people who know him; stories won't add up.

#1 The romantic partner (male or female) will not stay the night -- ever. He (in this case) won't sleep in your bed. Makes up lame excuses for whatever reason. Why is this important? Well, it probably means he's either married or has another girlfriend whose bed he occupies instead. In my case, the guy was both married and chasing skirt at the same time.

#2 Asks you for money in a way that just makes you uncomfortable he is even asking. We were both in similar professions so it would seem natural to ask about compensation. Problem is (and I'll never forget this) the person in question says it in a subtle but very manipulative way. The phrase "well, I hate to ask because it's you" didn't feel right. I remember my stomach going up my throat. It's you -- and the grift began right then and there. 

#3 Never calls at night time. Again, it's because this person isn't truly your man or woman. He is playing house somewhere else, and when he's that "somewhere else" he can't talk to you. Again, this man was married -- makes sense now, but I had my own kids and life so it never really mattered. He texted though, so it seemed acceptable. 

#4 Won't go out with you at night either. I can't tell you how many dates (and even business meetings) were canceled because of the time of day. Lame, third-rate excuses that even rolled down to him using his kids to hide his true activities (oh, X hit his head on the goal post and has a concussion) ... later when I found out that he had actually used his kids as a diversion I think that disgusted me the most.

#5 Keeps borrowing money and not paying it back. In this case, he "borrowed" very large sums of money. To this day, I've never seen a dime. Again, he very lamely used his kids to con the money out of me, which is so sickening. And when the bill came due, he used other lies and diversions to avoid paying it. My favorite, oh the check got delayed. Oh, it's still delayed because it was an overseas check ... it's a small community bank ... and on and on it went. At the first mention of the delayed check, I knew I was screwed and there went another $3500. 

#6 Gets upset and even more manipulative when you can't lend him more money. Using his own health and safety as a way to manipulate me into giving him more money, he lied that he needed the money for his kid's "future" and was willing to seek nefarious sources if he couldn't get the money. Naturally as any good and decent "mark" I ponied up another $1600 for "his son's future". I'm positive his son's future was never in jeopardy since he never (and it was confirmed) went to camp.

#7 When stories just don't add up. Listen carefully to someone. When you start to notice little "falsehoods" turning into consistent "falsehoods" turning into clear contradiction (AKA lies) then imagine you've only touched the tip of the truth. When I finally dug in and prepared myself to face the reality of all of those lies, I had suspected that where there was a fire there was likely a flaming mess -- I was right. 

#8 Everyone else is lying. Your conman will always tell you it's them not me. The other people are bitter exes, angry, or just insane. Reality is the entire world is not dishonest -- just the person trying to say they've done no wrong. Another name for this is called deflection.

#9 In the end your conman will fly the coup as fast as he flew in when the "jig is up". He will own no personal responsibility for conning you out of money by manipulating your good heart. He will say everyone else is the problem not him. He won't own up to the lies (as deep as they go) and will figure out how to squeeze the last drops out of the game. My boyfriend now calls this, "Riding the ride till the wheels fall off."

Now when the dust settles and you realize this guy is probably explaining your "break up" or "parting of the ways" to those who even care to ask, he will likely say it was your fault. You're crazy. You're whatever. Even though it will add the final salt to the wound, walk away and stay away. 

In the end my conman got so much money for his lies it's gross. He even managed $5,000 out of me to help pay for a so-called divorce from his current wife that never happened. I have no idea what he used that and another $5,000 he drained me for, but if you want to move and not get sucked further into negative stuff, walk away and stay away. It will be hard, and it was hard. He was my so-called best friend and lover for almost 5 years, but I knew the day I slammed the phone down for the last time that the hurt was subside and life would go on. As it has done. 

Those close to me know who this man is. If you know this man, read this blog carefully if he's in constant touch with you. The writing is on the blog. Protect yourself. Protect your loved ones. Protect your bank account. 

As for me, I appreciated what my new man said, "Don't blame yourself for loving him. He used your love to get what he wanted. And in the end he's the biggest loser or all -- he lost YOU." 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Three Tips to Create the "Page-Turner" Effect

Here are some tips to improve your novel:
Pacing 101-keep your prose moving by not getting caught up in redundant techniques. For example, I laughed with my author today that only so many facial expressions are available in the repertoire of descriptive opportunities. She puzzled on the comment. I chuckled, "Well, you can only 'smile, grin or frown' so many times before it's repetitious and unnecessary to keep saying it. When you take out what I'll call "the extended version of dialog" you'll notice something interesting-suddenly, your story is moving much faster. When trying to create the famous "page-turner" effect you'll want to expeditiously tell your story. Trim the fat, make it lean, but don't make it skinny (and that's a whole other tip in and of itself).
Redundancy, Redundancy What's Your 'Abundancy'? You'll notice a little play on School House Rock here (for those of you youngsters who have new clue about that one... well, what I can say. A super big tip is to not to describe something then turn around and re-describe it through the dialog. Your reader just read it. It's redundant, and it bogs down the pace. Plus, it's a sure way to send your reader into Rip van Winkle Ville. Again, if you don't know who that is refer back to another ancient cartoon with Elmer Fudd in it... sigh! I'm now so dated here that the AARP application that came in the mail just the other day is starting to seem less offensive.
Humor always makes even the worst book better. It's a drama, right? Why add humor? Truth is during particularly tense moments whether on the page or in real life, a good chuckle always feels better. So don't hesitate to add some humor to your story. Readers will appreciate the laughs.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Abused: Chapter 14


            Sandra walked off the elevator in a confident stride. Just then Darian came around the other corner away from Merry’s office. She was chewing her fingernails and looked very edgy. She saw Sandra and stopped and waited for her in front of her office.
            “Hey, you know, I need some gum. Can I have some gum? Do you have any?” she frenetically shot off these questions.
            Sandra stared at her. Her hair had thinned and fallen out so it was scraggily looking. The sores on her face had at least healed and scabbed over since her arrival. But judging by her hyper mood and her shifting eyes, Sandra wondered if she was high. She unlocked her office door and allowed Darian to walk in first. She went to her desk and pulled out a plastic-cup-shaped Orbit mint-gum container. She extended it to Darian who gratefully grabbed out her own Chiclet-sized piece and shoved it her mouth. Sandra sat in the chair across from the taupe-colored leather sofa where the patients were expected to sit. It had a fluffy blue blanket over the back so the patients could cover themselves if they got cold. Darian sat down as far from Sandra as she could get.
            “Your sores are healing,” commented Sandra.
            Darian ran her blue fingernail over the rough scab of the one on her left cheek. She took in the feel and was quiet for the first time since she had gotten in the room.
            “You want to tell me why you were down at our Executive Director’s office?”
            “Oh, um, that chick is the executive whatever?”
            “Oh, I got lost.”
            “I see,” nodded Sandra. “Do you want to talk about how you feel after detox?”
            Darian shrugged, “I want some meth. You got some of that and I’ll feel pretty good actually.”
            “Cravings bothering you? It will be like that for the rest of your life – just not as bad as time goes on.”
            Darian started unconsciously scraping her nail lightly across the arm of the sofa. She was very uncomfortable. Sandra opened her folder and glanced at it.
            “What’s that say?”
            “What do you think it says?”
            “That I’m a whore.”
            “That my brother sold my body to any guy with a cock and a buck.”
            “What? You’re not all horrified and shit?”
            Sandra stared at her. “You think I should be?”
            “Yeah. Hey, you got a smoke or something? Vape works, too. Do they let us do vape in this pen?”
            “Hey, yeah so … what do you want to know. Do I like it? Yeah, actually some of the guys were pretty nice. So like yeah … I liked it okay. Sometimes …”
            “I see. And what about your boyfriend? Did he like it … what you did for a living?”
            “Fuck you Ms. Fisher. Course not,” Darian suddenly got up and paced the room. “Fucking cunt, ask me that shit!”
            “Sit down.”
            “Then I’ll have to call Stu and Paul.”
            “Fuck off,” she roared and sullenly obeyed. “I fucking hate men. I don’t want no more douche bags touching me all right! None of you bitches either.”
            “So you’re not a lesbian?”
            “Fuck no! God I need a cig … at least a vape. Come on. Get me one.”
            “So you used the women the way they used you?”
            “What the hell do you know about it? Fucking bitch.”
            “You’re aware we don’t accept that kind of language around here?”
            “So, you’ll lose ground privileges unless you stop talking to me that way.”
            “Fuck you!” she shouted even louder.
            Sandra stared at her, got up, pressed a button, and stood there without saying a word. Darian glared at her.
            “You’re one of them – just another cunt-faced bitch who wants to fuck, right?”
            Stu and Paul entered. Darian stood up and tried to bolt past them to the door. Stu who was easily three times her size, grabbed her thin arm, while Paul grabbed the other. She began wildly screaming.
            “Rape! Fucking rapists! I’ll press charges. Assholes!”
            Sandra nodded at them. As they pulled Darian down the hallway, she made quite a raucous. Sandra could hear her crying rape down in the solitary rooms where Darian Masterson would spend a long afternoon and evening cooling down. She would be kept out of group and isolated in therapy until she regained her senses. The come down from the drugs took time, and meth was a particularly nasty one to sober up from. Sandra expected Darian to go at least another three or four days in a foul mood and unwilling to really dig into therapy. She went back to her desk to make some notes when Merry came to the door. She knocked on it and peered in.
            “Everything okay in here?”
            “Meth head.”
            “Oh,” she nodded. “Just checking.”
            “That stuff is so toxic. And that girl is very young. I doubt this will be her last trip to rehab.”
            “Oh, now Sandy lighten up. Sometimes they’re not repeaters. Have some faith.”
            “Hmm… you want to go to lunch?”
            “How’s that new guy, what Kevin Sanders doing?”
            “Pretty good actually. Flirting with the girls though. The nurses love him.”
            Merry nodded. “On second thought I think I’ll have a sandwich at my desk.”
            “Oh, too bad. They’re serving turkey and mashed potatoes in the cafeteria.”
            Merry shrugged, “No, I’ll pass. See you later.”
            And Merry’s head disappeared from the doorway. Sandra thought she acted a little odd – well, for Merry anyway. Merry never seemed quite social. And although she had been their ED for almost a year now, no one could say they really knew her very well. But she was likeable enough.
“Well,” thought Sandra, “turkey sounds good.”

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

3 Common Mistakes Fiction Writers Make

1. Using the character's name too often in the dialog. Think about it. When you're talking to someone, how often do you actually say his or her name. You don't need to use their names. People don't talk like that and repeat someone's name often in conversation. It bogs down your writing and pacing.

2. He said, she said -- no, no. If you have only two characters in a scene once you establish who has spoken first, no need to use "said" anymore unless you have specific purpose to express more than the statement of someone saying something. For example, she said with an angry look of outrage.

3. Repeating what you just described. Too often writers will show the character doing something and repeat in the dialog what the reader just read. Once you've established something about a scene, no need to rehash it in the dialog or even reference it again. It bogs down the pacing and bores the reader with the redundancy. For example, a character walks in the room and eats peanuts. Then you have the character say, "Hey Bob! I just ate peanuts."

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Wildflowers at Tabletop Mountain

The time is now -- go see the Wildflowers at Tabletop Mountain! This nature preserve, which is located in Northern California just above Lake Oroville offers a colorful feast of nature's wonder. The flowers consisting mostly of purple lupine and orange poppies carpet the landscape that consists of lave outcroppings and expanses of brilliant green grass. A three-mile hike takes you to waterfall pouring down the side of the butte. Bring plenty of water and hiking shoes and don't forget to jump over the muddy areas.