Friday, February 28, 2014

Ice, Snow, and Being Part of a Caring Community (Part II) by Debra H. Goldstein

In my last blog, I wrote about the caring community created by the twenty-five of us stranded at the YWCA. What could have been a horrible experience became a warm and wonderful time as we all helped each other make it through our unexpected stay.  As I struggle to find my voice and place as an author, I have found that writers also create caring communities.

Whether offering manuscript advice, methods of researching and expressing ideas, or simply how to find one’s way around at a conference, I have observed best-selling authors and peons joining together as a community.  Those who are successful give shout-outs and support to those climbing the ladder – and make sure the platform is wide enough for all to share.

For example, at Malice Domestic 2013, I had the privilege of riding an elevator with Carolyn Hart. I’m a pretty confident person, but as the elevator went up, I stumbled over my words telling “Ms. Hart” how much I enjoyed her books. During the conference, where she was honored with the Amelia Award, she told the audience how her writing career failed take off immediately. In fact, her first few books either were not published or didn't sell well, but she kept writing. When she became an overnight success, it had been a long night. 

Our paths crossed a number of times during the conference and at the Sisters in Crime breakfast. Ironically, we were in the elevator together again leaving the conference. This time, I congratulated “Carolyn” on her award and we actually laughed about spending the conference in the elevator.

Thinking back on the difference in my behavior during our elevator rides, I realize that the change in my attitude came from being impressed with her writing abilities and with her persistence and willingness to help other writers. Even during the hour interview tied to her award at Malice, she took the time to give a newer writer, Terry Shames, a shout-out. It takes a big person to share one’s limelight with others. Carolyn's work ethic and her generosity during that conference demonstrated how a little bit of caring behavior enhances the community of writers.

Because of Carolyn Hart’s shout-out, I made it a point to read Terry Shame’s book, A Killing at Cotton Hill.  I loved it.  I’m looking forward to reading her new book, The Last Death of Jack Harbin.

My personal writing journey also reflects an ever-expanding community of generous writers.  2012 IPPY award winning Maze in Blue, a murder mystery set on the University of Michigan’s campus in the 1970’s originally was published and now will be reissued by Harlequin Worldwide Mysteries as a May 2014 book of the month because other writers opened or suggested doors to go through.  Similarly, Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief! which appears in the new short story anthology, Mardi Gras Murder, would never have been written nor submitted if another writer hadn’t generously posted the open call for submissions on two listserves.

I am thankful for the community of writers who care enough to help me.  Have you been given or extended a helping hand along the way?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~                              ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Debra H. Goldstein's debut novel, Maze in Blue, received a 2012 IPPY Award.
She writes fiction and non-fiction pieces.  Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief! was included in the Mardi Gras Murder short story anthology in February 2014.  A Political Cornucopia was featured in the November 2013 Bethlehem Writers Roundtable.  An upcoming issue of Mysterical-E will include her short story The Rabbi's Wife Stayed Home.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Gonna-Be-A-Special Day

My Gonna-Be-A-Special Day
By, Laura Bradford

It's been a little crazy in my world the past month or so, as I worked to finish the tenth book in my Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries. But I've finally done it. Phew!

What's most exciting for me at this moment, though, is the fact that I finished it before the third book in my Amish Mysteries--SHUNNED AND DANGEROUS--launches on Tuesday (March 4th).

For whatever reason, it always seems as if I'm launching a book while finishing up another, which, translated, means I never get to truly enjoy the "launch." It's not that launch day is some super fancy day with parties to mark the occasion, but it's still special in its own way. Or, should be, anyway.

So much of a writer's life is spent isolated. We sit at a computer for hours and days on end, writing. Sure, our characters keep us company, but it's still just us...and a screen.

The release of a book, however, is different. It's that moment when our readers get to read what we spent so long writing. Some, of course, love it, plowing through the words we took months to write in mere hours. Their enjoyment makes us feel good. And then, of course, there are the folks who aren't so crazy about it, and like to let others know how they feel. But to each his own, right?

All too often over the past few years, I've barely been able to pick my head up to do more than register the facts folks are reading. If someone took the time to email me and let me know their thoughts, than I knew. But if not, well, I'd launched books before so no big deal...

Uh, no.

It is a big deal...

For me.

Next week, I'm shaking things up a little bit. I'm actually setting aside Tuesday to relax and enjoy SHUNNED AND DANGEROUS's big day. I may go to lunch...I may bet some frozen yogurt...I may bake something yummy in celebration. And I will most definitely drive to the bookstore and see for myself that SHUNNED AND DANGEROUS is on the shelf.

What do you do to mark a self-milestone?


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's Alllllivvvvvve!!

by Bethany Maines

It’s here! It’s here!  Tales From the City of Destiny is finally available for purchase!  After what seems like months of writing, proofing, and review it actually exists as a really, real book. Does this feeling ever get old?  I don’t think so. Last year, this project was just an idea, barely an idea even, and here it is as a physical object that anyone can hold.

As a graphic designer I marvel at this phenomenon every time something I’ve dreamed up comes off the press. From invitations to signs everything looks slightly different in real life than when I began the creation process. Some things look better, some things are disappointing and some things are neither bad or good ­– just different. And while every single time it’s still cool that something I dreamed up is now a real physical object, the dissonance between idea and reality no longer surprises me.

Except when it comes to my books.  Somehow the process of turning a word document that barely contains my invisible friends into an actual book is… amazing. And I hope all of you will purchase your own copy and enjoy reading about my invisible friends as much as I have enjoyed writing about them.

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, February 24, 2014

A smorgasbord of replies

It’s that time of month again when I have no idea what to write or talk about. Instead, I posted a status on my Facebook page seeking help for topic ideas and what you see below is a smorgasbord of replies.

First Mystery
The first mystery book I read was Encyclopedia Brown and I read every book in the series. Believe it or not, I’ve never read an Agatha Christie book. I did read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I enjoyed the television show as well. Reading mysteries is like solving a puzzle and you know how you smile and jump for joy when you place the last piece of puzzle, that’s the joy I have when I figured out the mystery and watch how it all came about.

Why I do what I do?
It all started with my emails to author saying I love their book; thanks for writing it and when’s the next one coming out. The more I read and enjoyed the books, the more these emails went out. One day I read the same book twice and that’s when I decided to write my thoughts and put it online for my enjoyment and as a journal of the books I read. My musing was not a “review” site then, nor is it now. It’s just a short (okay, sometimes it’s longer than I intended) paragraph on what I thought of the book. I also keep a database of ALL the books I read as not all books are mused. In the beginning I gave ratings, but someone commented that my rating wasn’t worthy of what I gave it. Hello…it’s my thoughts and not everyone is going to like a book the same way I do, so I stopped rating books on my blog. Word of mouth is a powerful promotional tool and I wanted to share the books that I read with my friends and this was the perfect way to do it.

How did I get a monthly post on the Cozy Chicks?
After reading several of my book musings, I was invited to do a monthly post highlighting the Berkley and other publisher’s books that I’ve read. I had some reservation because I knew that I could not write a “proper, standardized” review, but that was not a concern to them, so after some thoughts, I accepted the role and I do enjoy it because I get to bring books to readers who might not have seen the books listed elsewhere. My first Dru's Cozy Report was on August 15, 2010 and featured "Death in Show" by Judi McCoy, "Maid of Murder" by Amanda Flower and "Death by Diamonds" by Annette Blair.

How did I come up my monthly feature “A Day In The Life?”
I would post a musing 3-4 times a week on my blog and I recall that I had a vacation planned which I took and while away, there was nothing new on my blog. I’ve learned that if you don’t have fresh content on a daily basis, you can lose readers and since my blog was still in its infancy, I had to come up with something to keep readers interested and coming back and that is when I came up with my feature. I always wanted to know what a protagonist's day was like and just that snippet gives you some insight into the character and the book. I’m having so much fun reading all that the characters have to say and I hope my readers are too. This is another way of introducing characters and their book that otherwise they might not have known about since there are 1,000+ books published a day in the U.S. and U.K. combined. My first featured post was by Nora McFarland on August 8, 2011.

Several years ago, we went to a chocolate and wine tasting event and it was fun, but the lady who was leading it had me laughing as she kept says cacao and only 70% chocolate will do. I am not a fan of dark chocolate; I prefer milk chocolates. One of my favorite candy bars are Kit Kat, Snickers, and Hershey kisses. It's no wonder my preferred hot beverage is hot chocolate.

Fangirl moment
One of the best fangirl moments was at my first Malice when I was invited to dinner with the Cozy Chicks and other cozy authors. Talk about going to heaven, I was in my glory or as I often said “I was in my element.”

When was the last time you sought help to jump start a conversation, blog or your work in progress?

Check out dru's book musing here or on Facebook.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Out With the Old, In With the New

NOT my junk corner

We have had a problem for years with our internet provider, who shall hereafter be referred to as @#$$% Ma Bell. Their charges have skyrocketed while the speed of their DSL connection and dependability has plummeted. And almost every bad storm we have, winter or summer, we lose connectivity to the internet. Finally, Google Fiber made Kansas City one of its rollout cities, and for almost two years, I’ve been waiting for Google Fiber to make it to my “fiberhood” so I can say a less than cordial good-bye to @#$$% Ma Bell.

Two weeks ago, the Google Fiber crews finished connecting to my house—what a racket of drilling into my foot-thick brick exterior walls!—and made an appointment with me to come inside and do the interior part of the installation. That appointment was for yesterday.

As it approached, we realized that the point where they would bring in the cable lay in what’s turned into our junk corner of the family room. That means decluttering and moving things and cleaning, oh my! (I find those things much scarier than lions, tigers, or bears.) We found things we didn’t even know we owned hidden under the don’t-have-a-place-for-it-right-now-so-I’ll-just-set-it here-temporarily mound. (Please tell me that at least some of you have one of those!) Like a never-used, decades-old cassette tape player. Not much use anymore, unfortunately. And no one’s admitting to placing that machine there now.

Furniture must be moved out of the way to create room for them to work back in the corner by the electrical outlet, which means moving other furniture out of the way to make room for that furniture and moving other things—like my spinning wheel—out of the way to make room for the second batch of displaced furniture. It’s kind of like falling dominoes with bookcases, tables, and spinning wheels—and lots of stray books, boxes from my son’s Iowa home, and of course, forgotten tape players.

As I write this, we’re about to head into the final battle with the junk corner in anticipation of the advent of Google Fiber in the afternoon, so as you read this, I should not only have reliable, low-cost internet but a newly clean and organized junk corner. A win-win for everyone, yes?

Now, confess. Do any of you have a junk corner hiding in the depths of your home? How do we let this happen?

LATE ADDENDUM: As the very nice Google Fiber guys were about to finish the installation, a power transformer across the street exploded with a huge bang and blue-sparked light in zig-zag waves like in a comic book or graphic novel. The whole neighborhood lost power for many hours just as it was starting to snow. So my husband, son, and I trekked to a local coffee shop for warm shelter (I'm still recovering from pneumonia, and I can't do cold.) When it closed, we drove out to a suburban 24-hour restaurant with central heating until my answering machine clicked in and told us they'd finally fixed the neighborhood power. As you read this, I will still not have Google Fiber. They can't return until Saturday. But it's almost here.

COMMENTS (I still can't comment so I'll have to edit to respond--isn't that crazy?)

Pam Hopkins, don't you think it's a human trait to put things down somewhere "just for now" and then forget about them as we get busy?

Mary, I had an overfull bookcase break and topple in my office/fiberart studio last year. What a mess! I'd send you the tape player, but I've already freecycled it. I am so looking forward to being able to call AT&T to say, "It's over." Cancelling landline, too, and going completely cell, which I never thought I'd do, but they've driven me to it.

Ritter, thank you for all of this information about Ooma. I'd never heard about this before. It's definitely something I will be checking out. I really appreciate it!

Ah, Faith, I'm not talking about the garage that's too full of stuff for a car. Some things are just too shameful. *sigh* I didn't mention that every spare space in our house is crammed with boxes, bins, and eztra furniture recently moved from out son's home in Iowa. Unlike the junk corner, that's not a normal aspect of my house. (He's found a job in the area and will be getting his own place once he digs out of the debt in which months of job-hunting left him.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The CIA...and Gloria Steinem

By Kay Kendall

Gloria Steinem said it best: “Writing is the only thing I do that I don’t feel like I should be doing something else.”

I began writing fiction fifteen years ago. My first manuscript was a literary novel that I worked on forever and put aside when I failed to get an agent. That was important eight years ago, much less so now under different publishing conditions. But I found I still was compelled to write so I immersed myself in crime fiction, let the patterns of the genre seep into my head, and then began to write my mystery.
Within the mystery genre, historical fiction is what I like to read best. Many authors locate their sleuths and their spymasters during the great wars of the twentieth century. The two world wars and Cold War are amply represented in mysteries and spy fiction. The Vietnam War is comparatively not “taken.” Besides it is the era I grew up in. I decided it was an historic niche that needed filling and that I was the one to do the filling.

I wanted to show what life was like for young women of that era, the late sixties—not the type who made headlines, the Angela Davises and Hanoi Janes, but the moderates who nonetheless got swept along by the tides of history during that turbulent time. All that turmoil lends itself to drama, intrigue…and murder.

I don’t consider myself a daring or courageous person. My heroine Austin Starr feels fear, is often anxious but keeps on pushing regardless. I picture her as myself with more moxie.

Recently I gave a book reading and said that to my audience. Imagine how startled I was therefore, when a long-time family friend said, “That’s nonsense, Kay. You are so adventuresome. You went to the Soviet Union for a summer when you were only twenty to study, you moved to a different country (Canada), and you’re always trying new things.”

I must confess that opinion made me feel good, although I still regard it as unfounded.

Still, I will tell you a secret.

Imagine how surprised that old friend would be if she knew that the CIA training of Austin Starr was based on my own flirtation with that spy agency. I really did interview with the CIA. When offered a position, instead I chose to attend grad school and continue studying Russian history…. Just as my protagonist Austin Starr does. 

Maybe I have more moxie than I give myself credit for after all.

All that said, it’s no surprise that I’m excited for the second season of the TV spy thriller The Americans to start up in a few days on the FX Network.  Any movie or TV show, put spies in it and some derring-do, and I will be there, front and center, for the vicarious adventure.

Kay & house bunny Dusty

Kay Kendall is an international award-winning public relations executive who lives in Texas with her husband, five house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. A fan of historical mysteries, she wants to do for the 1960s what novelist Alan Furst does for Europe in the 1930s during Hitler's rise to power--write atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit of the age.

Discover more about  DESOLATION ROW, here at

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Okay, Here's What's Happening

As usual, I've been busy.

My latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, Murder in the Worst Degree, is due out in March. I've been busy planning the promotion for it. I'm doing another blog tour in April and had fun writing all the different posts--though it was a lot of work and took a long time.

Also in April I'll have the official launch at our local Art Gallery, and I'm scheduled to speak at the library during National Library Week.

During the week this post appears, I'll actually be in Temecula visiting my daughter, two of my grandkids and a slew of great-grands. In face, I'll be visiting one of the greats third grade class to talk about being a writer and how to write a story. (Love talking to kids about writing.)

The photo is some of the kids I'll see-but missing the boy whose class I'm going to visit.

March is Left Coast Crime and it's in Monterey this year--and yes, I'm going. Can't pass up one that is so close. Years ago the first LCC I attended was in Monterey and it was wonderful. The same folks are organizing it again so I'm sure it'll be great. Though LCC is big, it isn't as big as Bouchercon. Most of all, I'm looking forward to seeing old friends.

(And yes, we did get more rain and snow in the mountains. Everyone says it's not enough yet, but the rainy season isn't over.)

Marilyn who writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. series as F. M. Meredith

Monday, February 17, 2014

Finding the Reality in Reality Shows

I love competition shows. Top Chef, Project Runway, Biggest Loser, and all the many offshoots. I even watched a season of Big Brother. Now that’s time I’ll never get back. 

But the others are shows that tend to show me the value in determination, talent, and, even, self-confidence. The contestants who do the best are those who know their own story. They know their style and are able to use the challenges as boundaries within which they present themselves through their product.

I’m watching a marathon of this season’s Top Chef right now and am drawn to the chef who knows she’s good, but doesn't trust her knowledge. She’s won a challenge and yet, she’s still her worse critic. Last year she competed to get on the show, but failed. She fought back and earned a spot in this year’s cast. Now, she doesn't believe in her talent.

I see myself through her eyes. Determined, accomplished, but still uncertain at times.

My version of a Quick Fire Challenge - Lynn's Potato Pie

I believe writing, and life even, is like that. The universe gives me boundaries and within those, I am able to play and create my own world. My own stories.

All I have to do is get out of my own way.

Last week my son sent me an old Monty Python recording of a news report following a writer starting a new story. Every word was analyzed by the announcers, even the one’s crossed out. Sometimes my internal editor is like that news reporter. Looking for the amazing when really, a story should be written in private, then edited in public. Writers need to give themselves permission to write crap. Then edit pearls.

Me getting my ticket into the Michael Hauge workshop.

Failure isn’t the end. Its one step in success. Maybe more.

Do you watch reality TV?

Lynn - who really doesn't need another fix to her habit.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ice, Snow and Being Part of a Caring Community (Part I)

Today is Valentine's Day.  A day of love and caring.  Although I could write about romance, hearts, and Valentines, the unexpected snow/ice storm in Alabama and Georgia taught me a lot about reaching outside of one's heart.  This week, I share the Valentine I received during the storm.  This is the first of a two-part blog about creating caring communities.  Check back on Friday, February 28, for my observations about the gifts given by the writing community.  I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day.  As I celebrate today, I will still be thinking of the love and caring I received during the winter storm.  This is my tale retold with gratitude:

Ice, Snow and a Caring Community
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YWCA Central Alabama

Ice, Snow and a Caring Community

January 30, 2014

Judge Debra H. Goldstein is a retired U.S. Administrative Law Judge and accomplished author.  She has been an active community volunteer in Birmingham for over 20 years and currently serves on the YWCA Board of Directors.

Creating a more caring community is the cornerstone of the YWCA Central Alabama’s vision statement. During this week’s unpredicted snow and ice storm, the YWCA has lived up to its vision.  I know, because I was one of many embraced into the YWCA’s caring community.

For me, a Yankee used to driving on snow, I didn’t think much of the flakes falling as I left a downtown meeting. Two hours later, when my efforts to reach the highway failed because of accidents, clogged roads and an inability to sustain enough traction to get up hills without fishtailing, I decided I needed an alternative plan. I thought about working my way over to a hospital, because it would have power and food, but then I thought about the YWCA. Having been a volunteer and Board member for more than twenty years, I knew I could count on the YW for a warm place to sit with a cup of coffee while I waited for the traffic congestion to ease.

Hours passed and the roads became impassable. I was stuck for the night at the YW, but I wasn’t alone. Executive Senior Staff, child care workers and volunteers sacrificed the window of time they could have gone home to make sure every child in child care was safely picked up and that the heat and other amenities needed by the building’s full-time residents were maintained.  Then there were the extras – displaced downtown Board members, volunteers knowledgeable about the YW and some who saw its lettered sign, like a teacher from Carver High, who came in desperate for shelter from the storm.

In the end, twenty-five of us sat down for a family style spaghetti dinner that we all agreed tasted better than any Italian dinner we ever had eaten. Dinner was followed by laughter, conversation, a movie, and the assignment of beds, couches, sleeping bags, and palettes on pillows. Clean t-shirts, toothpaste and toothbrushes made all of us presentable for breakfast and the beginning of another day of watching the television to know if we could safely leave. Most of us couldn’t, but it didn’t matter. We were part of a caring community.

The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the YWCA Central Alabama. The intention of this blog is to provide information and perspectives on social justice issues; however, the YWCA makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The YWCA will not be held liable for any errors or omissions in this information or for any losses, injuries or damages incurred from the display or use of this information. This policy is subject to change at any time.      

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Professional Jealousy is not attractive

by Maria Geraci

With tomorrow being Valentine's Day, I had this cute little post planned, typical romance writer style. But like a lot of America, I've been glued to the Olympics and then something happened that I haven't been able to get out of my mind. Professional athletes dissing on other professional athletes. As in the Shaun White thing.

In case you're not familiar with Shaun White, he's an American gold medal Olympic Snow boarder. Four years ago he was the talk of the Olympics. He made snow boarding an Olympic sport to be reckoned with. He put the sport on the map. Made lots of money. And paved the way for other snow boarders to make lots of money. Heck, he even made ME want to snow board. And I don't like the cold!

Sadly, this Olympics have been a different story for Shaun. It began when he pulled himself out of one of the first snow boarding events. The one where they go down this cool looking slope and do all these loops and things. Yeah, you know. That event. Then the tweeting began. Other snow boarders mocking Shaun White saying he only pulled out because he knew he couldn't win, etc... And then Tuesday's debacle. Shaun, who was expected to win the men's halfpipe, came in fourth. As in, no medal. And then the tweeting and nasty remarks got kind of vicious. Professional (and I say that loosely) athletes gloating that their king had been dethroned.

Now, I don't know Shaun White personally. Maybe he's a jerk. Maybe he's a nice guy. But regardless, it's sad to see athletes dissing on one another. Especially in the world arena.

I hope as writers we're above this kind of behavior, but I've seen stuff like this happen in the publishing world too.

Lesson learned: One day you're up, one day you're down. Every dog has his day. Let's all be nice to one another. Especially on Twitter. Most especially on Twitter.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Putting on the Sequel Panties

by Bethany Maines

As my writing goal for this year, I am determined to get my third book in the Carrie Mae series fully outlined and at least one draft done.  Carrie Mae (for those who haven’t picked up Bulletproof Mascara or Compact with the Devil) is the at home make-up sales company that is a front for an international, all-female, espionage organization.  And my heroine Nikki Lanier is one of their top agents.  My original plan for the series involves 5 books, but life (marriage, new business, new baby, changing book deals) has managed to delay my production speed. I made this goal in January and as of Sunday had made zero progress toward that goal.  Every time I went to open up my notes I got pissy and decided to do something else.  It got so bad, that I actually did the dishes one day instead of working on my outline. If you knew me at all that’s like saying I decided to have root canal instead of going on vacation.

So Monday night I gave myself a stern little talking to and opened my notes.  I can’t imagine going through someone else’s writing notes and attempting to make sense out of them. Going through my own notes is like trying to track an elusive animal through the underbrush.  I followed the traces of my own thoughts and began to realize that I was further along than I remembered.  My outline was more complete and my research was fairly cohesive.  But just as I remembered what I’d been planning to write, I also remembered why I stopped. 

The first problem I had was that my plot involves pot smuggling on the Canadian border and Washington State just legalized plot.  Thanks a lot Washington.  Thanks for deciding that if the medical research indicates that pot isn’t all that dangerous maybe we should stop spending money on prosecuting people and also try to make money off of it.  Or in other words, thanks for making my writing life more difficult.

The second problem was more emotional. As I had been working through the plot I came into a strategy conflict with my writer’s group.  They thought the novel was a too much of a leap ahead in my story arcs and wanted at least one short story before the book to fill the gap. I wasn’t convinced they were right and, even worse, I wasn’t convinced they were wrong.  The more we discussed the matter, the less certain I became.  And of course the more uncertain I was, the more grumpy I became about the whole project.  So then I put it aside to “think” about it.  Which is writer code “I give up.”

But now I’m back, dang it.  I refuse to give up on my characters! I will revisit the advice from my writer’s group.  I will put on my big girl panties and make some decisions.  Because if I can’t dictate what my fictional characters are going to do with their lives then I’m not much of a writer now am I?

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.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It's Not Easy Being Green

by Marjorie Brody
The solar panel specialist looked across the table and leveled his gaze with mine. “It’ll be years before you see a return on your investment. Make sure it's something you really want to do."

Well, of course, I want to ease the electric grid and use solar power. I've always wanted to do my part to help the environment, protect natural resources, ensure a cleaner, healthier environment for future generations. But installing solar panels will be a huge financial commitment. Even more than the attempt to decrease my carbon footprint by buying a hybrid car - a car that uses premium gas and gets only 25 miles to the gallon, btw. (You're right. It's definitely not a Prius.) Surely I'm green enough, I tell myself. I tick off my efforts.

I recycle.

I conserve water.

I car pool, for crying out loud.

To borrow wisdom from Kermit the Frog:
It costs money. It's time consuming. It's often not popular.

But then, many situations in life are not easy. You do them because they are the right thing to do. Because they support values you hold dear. Situations like, allowing a beloved child to take consequences for his action without interfering, leaving a salaried position to follow the career of your heart, or uprooting to a new city to be closer to elderly parents.

In fact, just writing a novel comes with it's own set of investments, it's own cost. Time, relationships, and health.

Writing consumes time the way parched soil consumes water. It took me over two years to write Twisted. Two years.

Writing steals you away from family and friends. Playing with non-existent characters on a page can be wonderful fun, but at the expense of saying, "Sorry, I can't have lunch with you today," to a dear friend?

Writing tempts your physical wellbeing. With the major commandment for authors to BIC-it (Butt In Chair), where's the exercise and fresh air? When your nose is glued to the computer, or on that pad of paper, or over Dragon Dictates, you're not sniffing flowers in your garden, smelling the on-coming rain while you're riding your bicycle, or savoring your partner's cologne as you swirl on the dance floor.

And please note, I'm not complaining about doing these things. They are choices I willingly make.

But why take on such a challenge? Why not do something with less personal cost? Something easier?

I wrote Twisted because my protagonist had a story she needed to tell, and I wanted to give her a voice. I needed to give her a voice.

My short stories and plays? I write them because I cannot not write them. It’s who I am. If I want to define myself as an author, I need to act like one, relishing the rewards, but being willing to pay the price. Whatever the cost.

Yes, whatever the cost.

Just as Kermit cannot not be green.

Just as he realizes that despite the struggle, "It's beautiful, and it's what I want to be."
So solar panels? Bring them on.

To watch Kermit sing "It's Not Easy Being Green"

What hard decisions do you make in order to be true to your beliefs? What gives you the strength to make them?


Marjorie Brody is an award-winning author and Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her short stories appear in literary magazines and the Short Story America Anthology, Vols. I, II and III. Her debut psychological suspense novel, TWISTED, delves into the secrets that emerge following a sexual assault at a high school dance and features a remarkable teen who risks everything to expose the truth. TWISTED is available in digital and print. Marjorie invites you to visit her at               

Monday, February 10, 2014

Odds and Ends

by Rhonda - the Southern Half of Evelyn David

Let's catch up.

Amazing that it's already February. Time is just rushing by for me. The past twelve months have been so busy at both my day job, my writing job, and my home life. I'm having a little trouble keeping up.  

In Oklahoma it's been cold, cold, cold. Single digits temperatures and multiple snow events. You'd think the outside weather would inspire me to do some serious writing, but instead I just want to curl up with a blanket, a cup of hot tea, and a good book. At heart I'm a reader first, writer second. I'm very late to the party, but I just read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I enjoyed it very much and I've purchased the sequel Dragonfly in Amber, but have not had a chance to start it. 

While my favorite tv shows (Major Crimes and The Black List) are either on hiatus or done for the season, I've become a big fan of Netflix and my Roku. I've finished several British series – Waking the Dead, Calling the Midwife, The Bletchley Circle, Island at War and a rewatch of Foyle's War. I'm working on MI-5. I think there are about 80 episodes of that series, so it will take me awhile. Looking forward to new episodes of House of Cards, produced in house by Netflix. 

Anyone watching the Winter Olympics? I'm planning to watch the ice skating and maybe some of the snowboarding events. Have to admit that I'm not as invested in watching as I was twenty years ago. Maybe I just kept up with the athletes more. My co-author's son, sports reporter Sam Borden, is in Russia covering the events. His blog about his adventure is very engaging. He's almost as good a writer as his mother. I recommend you check it out.  

On the home front this past year there have been roof repairs, new hot water heater, new washing machine and a few other things I've put off doing/replacing. If I don't get a new mattress soon, I'm going to permanently cripple myself. Speaking of which, there is good news – not on the new mattress quest but on the maiming myself point. Thursday night I thought I broke my little toe on my left foot again, stubbed it against the corner of a dresser, but now I think it's just a bad bruise or sprain??? Any way my painful limp has made way to cautious but mostly pain-free walking now.  

I did accomplish something this month. My 93-year-young aunt has written a book about her life growing up in the 1930s rural Indiana. I've formatted and published it for her. It's her first book! It's available in both Kindle and trade paperback formats -The Laughing and the Weeping by Bettie B. Dossett. Her delight in the physical act of holding the trade paperback version reminded me of how I felt when Evelyn David's first book, Murder Off the Books was published. There is a certain special joy that is indescribable.  

The collective "Evelyn David" has been occupied getting our Brianna Sullivan Mysteries published in audiobook format. The first four are available now at Audible (through Amazon) and iTunes. Our wonderful narrator, Wendy Tremont King, has provided a delightful voice to psychic Brianna Sullivan. The fifth book, A Haunting in Lottawatah, will be out as an audiobook in the next month or two. Can't wait for that one! Should work out really well in audio format.

Speaking of ebooks - I heard a news report about that 25% of readers now have access to ereaders or tablets. Amazing! Also there is something new coming - sound tracks for ebooks. Not someone reading the book for you, but a sound track! Music, sound effects, etc. Not sure if I'm ready for that. Although for our haunted house book - creaking stairs, rattling chains....

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Missing in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Summer Lightning in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Fireworks - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords





The Ghosts of Lottawatah - trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
Book 1 - I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries (includes the first four Brianna e-books)
Book 2 - A Haunting in Lottawatah (includes the 5th, 6th, and 7th Brianna e-books)
Book 3 - Lottawatah Fireworks (includes the 8th, 9th, and 10th Brianna e-books)

Sullivan Investigations Mystery series
Murder Off the Books Kindle - Nook - Trade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake Kindle - Nook - Trade Paperback 
Murder Doubles Back Kindle - NookTrade Paperback
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords