Thursday, April 24, 2014

How Norah Jones helped to make me a better writer

by Maria Geraci

The other day I was getting my eyelashes worked on (long story for another post) and while I was blissfully laying there on the table, a Norah Jones song came on Pandora. I can't remember which one exactly, but Norah Jones has such a distinct voice that you always know it's her when she's singing. I've always been a fan of Norah's but hearing her sing brings a smile to my face. Norah, you see, helped make me a better writer.

Years ago, (about 12 to be exact) when I first began writing I belonged to a small online critique group. I was new to writing and thought that a critique group would help me hone my skills. Our process went something like this: Every week a member would upload a chapter of their work and the other members would critique it. When my first time came I was nervous, to be sure, but mostly I was excited to see what people thought of my work. Because of course, I was going to "wow" them with my genius. Right?

Um, not so much.

That first critique was brutal. In a nice way, because the members of my crit group were nice people, but brutal to my precious ego, nonetheless.

I can remember opening up the crits and seeing what I perceived as negative comments everywhere. My first chapter sucked (my words, not theirs) but essentially, I needed to start again from ground zero. I spent the day driving kids around in my minivan, waiting for evening to come when I'd have some alone time to get a good cry in (because generally it's not good form to have an emotional meltdown in front of your kids). I questioned whether or not I had the chops to start another career in what was probably the busiest time of life.

That night with the kiddos (and the hubby) all tucked in bed, I opened up a bottle of wine and put on a Norah CD and reread the crits again. And again and again. While her soft voice crooned in the background, I began to see the wisdom in my crit partner's words. I didn't "suck" but I needed to learn to write. I knew I could tell a story. Like Norah, I knew I had a unique voice (like we all do!). I just needed to zero in on my voice and learn the writing skills necessary to tell my stories the way they needed to be told.

It turned out to be the best crit of my writing life. I woke up the next day and started again from scratch, because that's what writers do. They learn from their work and rewrite until they get better. And in twelve years, that hasn't changed. Even though I'm published now, whenever I hear Norah, I think back to that day 12 years ago and am inspired all over again to never give up and keep writing better.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Readers Review!

By Bethany Maines

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Help a starving author – leave reviews for the books you read today!

There’s a lot of talk these days about shopping local with the goal of supporting actual people instead of massive corporations.  Well, you can’t get much more small, local, and actual than author.  Reviews really do help authors. It’s through reviews that their books percolate through the great Google and Amazon algorithms and get recommended to other readers.  And new readers means new buyers, which translates directly to an author’s pocket book.

That being said, I don’t often leave reviews for books. An author, I know that harsh reviews can be devastating to writers.  I also think that after working on the craft of writing for more than a few years, that I’m pickier than the average reader and that can make for some rather negative reviews.  But since I truly value an honest review I have adopted a “If I can’t say anything nice, then I don’t say anything at all” policy when it comes to reviews.  Which means that my reviews on Goodreads are further a part as my life becomes busier with less time for reading, and I find it harder to find a book that I love with the same passion I did when I was younger.  Hopefully, that means that if you see a review from me, you’ll know that I truly enjoyed the book. 

So keep on leaving reviews, try not to be too mean, and definitely, definitely keep on reading. 

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery series and Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Guidebook to Murder Releases April 17th

And I'm celebrating.

What's it like to be an author? What wild and crazy things do we do when one of our books is finally out into the world?
Wild authors at the Michael Hauge workshop-St. Louis

April 17th is a Thursday. So I'll be getting up at 5am, working out for 30 minutes, playing around on the computer for another 30 minutes, then getting ready for work.

The 30-45 minute drive is made tolerable with an audio book playing in the cd player. Probably a mystery. Or a romance. Maybe I can find a Heather Graham mix up for the week.

Then I do my thing for 8 hours at a local leasing company. And, no, I won't pick you up.

Drive home - more story. Whoever invented the audio book, I'd like to buy you a beer. Or two.

Walk the dogs, make dinner, write 1000 words on my WIP, and play on social media for a few hours, including checking out my blog tour posts.

And, since I'll still be on Lent, I'll dream of chocolate peanut butter eggs and eating bunny ears.


How do you celebrate a special day?

In the gentle coastal town of South Cove, California, all Jill Gardner wants is to keep her store--Coffee, Books, and More--open and running. So why is she caught up in the business of murder?

When Jill's elderly friend, Miss Emily, calls in a fit of pique, she already knows the city council is trying to force Emily to sell her dilapidated old house. But Emily's gumption goes for naught when she dies unexpectedly and leaves the house to Jill--along with all of her problems. . .and her enemies. Convinced her friend was murdered, Jill is finding the list of suspects longer than the list of repairs needed on the house. But Jill is determined to uncover the culprit--especially if it gets her closer to South Cove's finest, Detective Greg King. Problem is, the killer knows she's on the case--and is determined to close the book on Jill permanently. . .

Lynn Cahoon’s a multi-published author. An Idaho native, her stories focus around the depth and experience of small town life and love. Lynn’s published in Chicken Soup anthologies, explored controversial stories for the confessional magazines, short stories in Women’s World, and contemporary romantic fiction. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and four fur babies.

Friday, April 18, 2014

We Have a Jewish Lawn, But Where Are the Diamonds?

by Linda Rodriguez


People who have been reading my posts on my own blog, here at Stiletto, and on my other group blog, Writers Who Kill, know that I have had to battle disapproving neighbors and the city about my front yard, which is planted in native, drought-hardy plants for the most part. The neighbors and the city both would prefer that my husband and I have only bluegrass in my yard, and they’d like to force us to do that. Fortunately, we’ve been able to fight it for the past seven or eight years.

Now, along comes Pat Robertson, that ancient, uber-wealthy televangelist, to give us just the excuse we needed to stand up to the neighbors and the city. On March 31, Robertson said on his television show on the Christian Broadcasting Network that you never saw Jews tinkering under their cars or mowing their lawns because they were too busy polishing their diamonds. 

My husband, who’s Jewish, sent me the link to the video.  

He included a subject line in his email that read, “We Have a Jewish Lawn,” referring, of course, to the problems with the city.

I watched the video with the poor confused old man and emailed my husband back. “You’re right. We do. But where are the diamonds?”

And I’m still waiting, darn it!
REPLY TO COMMENTS (because Blogger still won't let me reply :-(

Marilyn, yes, it is sad, but no more than we can expect from Robertson anymore. It's a shame that he puts himself forth as representing Christianity, which is something very different and much better than what he shows the world. I would say he's irrelevant, but he has millions of viewers. I can't understand why people and cities all over the country are so insistent on the bluegrass yards when they require so much water and chemicals to survive. Yards like yours and mine are much more sustainable and eco-sensible (I think I just made up that word, but we needed one like that, didn't we?).