Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Guest Author: Caridad Pineiro on Writing Paranormals and Suspense

I'm so pleased to have Caridad Pineiro here because she's talking about one of my favorite subjects: the pyramids in Mexico and how they gave her the inspiration for her book, Aztec Gold.

Welcome Caridad!

People wonder why I write paranormals and romantic suspense stories and I guess the answer is that I like action, adventure, traveling and history. Writing paranormals and romantic suspense lets me combine all those different elements.

How do I do that? Let’s start with the history part. Whether it’s vampires like in THE CALLING series or the demon in AZTEC GOLD, these creatures have been around for a long time. When thinking about the stories that I’m going to write for them, they bring that history with them to the future and it has shaped what they are. For example, in FURY CALLS the vampire, Blake Richards, was born to a poor Welsh coal mining family. His experiences in watching his father go down into the mines as well as his father’s death led Blake to sacrifice himself in order to save his family. I loved showing that history in the novel because it shaped the man (vampire) that Blake has become.

The history in AZTEC GOLD is a little different because in that novella the past affects everything in the present from the moment that the heroine, Cynthia, is given ancient journals and maps to authenticate. The papers are a connection not only to the past, but to her ex-lover who went missing while in search of a previously undiscovered temple in the Mexican jungle. The temple is centuries old as is the demon within its walls. The temple and demon were based on Aztec history and the setting was based on another of the things I like – travel.

I was lucky to be able to visit some Mexican pyramids many years ago and as I walked along the streets of the city surrounding the temple and climbed one of the pyramids, the ideas came to me for stories set in a similar locale. It was absolutely fascinating to be able to explore areas inhabited by a different people who had mysteriously disappeared.

The disappearance of so many people sparked the idea that maybe they had vanished due to the existence of a violent and nasty demon. A demon that may still be in existence, terrorizing the people living close to the pyramids.

That’s where the action and adventure arise in AZTEC GOLD as the heroine travels to Mexico to find out what happened to her ex-lover and discovers that Rafael is not only alive, but claims that the members of his expedition were either killed or taken by a demon that lives in the nearby Aztec temple. I just loved showing how Cynthia and Rafe make their way into the temple and battle the demon. I also love writing the fight scenes and having readers sit on the edge of their seats as Cynthia and Rafe try to find a way to stop the demon and find their missing friends. But it’s sometimes hard picturing in my head the movements of everyone in the fight scene. Sometimes I even act them out or even ask a friend to help me walk through the steps in the fight to make sure they’re accurate.

I also take the time to make sure that the weapons and other items used in the stories are portrayed properly and fit the characters, especially the kick-butt women. I have several books at home on weapons and also do research on the Internet to make sure the details bring to life the items for readers. I also reach out to law enforcement friends to make sure I’ve got it right.

It’s a lot of work sometimes, but I love it! I couldn’t imagine not writing or creating stories for you guys to read. I hope you like the blend of all the different elements that I bring into the stories. If you want to see some behind the scenes photos, etc. for my various novels, you can visit my website at

Thanks, Amy for having me here and thanks to all of you for dropping by.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Special Guest Author: Paty Jager

I'm so pleased to have author Paty Jager here as my guest. She's a terrific writer and has a fascinating paranormal trilogy to talk about. So here she is!

Amy, Thank you for having me here today.

I'm excited to talk to you about a little bit of what I've learned while writing my paranormal historical trilogy, Spirit of the Mountain, Spirit of the Lake, and Spirit of the Sky. These books are about a trio of siblings the Creator made spirits to oversee the Lake Nimiipuu or the band of Nez Perce who lived in the NE corner of Oregon in the Wallowa country.

The second book of a trilogy has a pregnant heroine, which led me to devote hours reading books about the Nez Perce customs and social living aspects to learn all I could about pregnancy and child birth.

The Nez Perce women had specific jobs. They gathered roots, berries and herbs as well as the firewood. It was their job to keep the fire going all night during the winter months. They were the cooks, the ones who dried and stored the meat, fish, berries and roots. Tanned the hides, made the clothing, wove baskets and constructed the dwellings. They did everything needed to sustain a family other than hunt, prepare weapons, and fight. If need be, they could hunt for smaller animals, fight, and take care of weapons though it was not one of their jobs.

During battles women provided fresh horses, food, and water for the warriors, tended the wounded, warned others of danger, directed children and the old people where to hide and how to leave when their encampments were attacked. If a husband was shot they could pick up his gun and fight. They also cooked and gathered wood during attacks, keeping the children, old people, and warriors fed during the attacks and battles.

Pregnant women still did most of the chores right up until the moment they started labor. Some would have miscarriages from long periods of riding horses in the last months of pregnancy. Usually during campaigns of fighting.

If a woman was pregnant they believed their man would have bad luck hunting. She was also not allowed to see any part of a kill—blood, skinning. They feared her child would be born deformed. They also didn't touch, view, or ridicule any deformed animals or humans, fearing it would cause their child the same misfortune. They didn't tie knots or do things symbolic of obstructing the birth.

A wide strip of buckskin was tied around their bellies. This was believed to protect the child. After the birth, this strip was burned or buried, giving the child a healthy, strong body. They did everything to keep the baby safe. The Nez Perce wanted to build a large strong tribe.

When a woman started labor she was isolated in a small dwelling with either an older family member or a mid-wife. If there were complications the Ti-wet (medicine man) was called in. The dwelling had a hole dug in the middle of the structure. The blood and after birth were put in this hole and buried. The umbilical cord was kept in a small leather pouch attached to the cradleboard. It is believed to be bad luck to destroy such an intimate part of the baby.

The cradle board is made by a relative. The baby is transported and tended in the board until he is ready to walk. Children were breast fed for several years. This was one of their ways to contribute to birth control. Other ways were with herbs.

This information was incorporated into Spirit of the Lake the second book of the trilogy which will release in May.

Blurb for Spirit of the Mountain

Wren, the daughter of a Nimiipuu chief, has been fated to save her people ever since her vision quest. When a warrior from the enemy Blackleg tribe asks for her hand in marriage to bring peace between the tribes, her world is torn apart.

Himiin is the spirit of the mountain, custodian to all creatures including the Nimiipuu. As a white wolf he listens to Wren’s secret fears and loses his heart to the mortal maiden. Respecting her people’s beliefs, he cannot prevent her leaving the mountain with the Blackleg warrior.

When an evil spirit threatens Wren’s life, Himiin must leave the mountain to save her. But to leave the mountain means he’ll turn to smoke…


Wren’s eyes glistened with unshed tears. “My gift is to save The People. The weyekin who came to me in my vision quest said this.” She wrapped her arms around herself as if staving off a cold breeze.

Himiin hated that they argued when they should relish their time together. He moved to her, drawing her against his chest, embracing her. The shape of her body molded to his. Her curves pressed against him. Holding her this way flamed the need he’d tried to suppress.

He placed a hand under her chin, raising her face to his. The sorrow in her eyes tugged at his conscience. To make her leaving any harder was wrong. But having experienced her in his arms, he was grieved to let her go. Even for the sake of their people.

Her eyelids fluttered closed. Her pulse quickened under his fingers. Shrugging off the consequences, he lowered his lips to hers. They were softer than he imagined. Her breath hitched as he touched her intimately. Parting his lips, he touched her with his tongue, wanting to see if she tasted as sweet as she smelled.


She tasted of sweet honey straight from the bosom of a bee tree.

One taste was not enough. He pulled her closer, moving his lips across hers, tasting and savoring the feel of them.

Her mouth opened and she sighed.

His body came to life. The sensations transcended anything he’d experienced before. How could one woman make him feel powerful and vulnerable at the same time? Why did he wish to crush her to him and never let go and yet feel compelled to treat her with the tenderness

one would give the tiniest of creatures? He couldn’t continue this way.

To hold her, to touch her soft skin. He would never be able to let her go.

He must.

Buy link:


Sources: Nez Perce Women in Transition, 1877-1990- Caroline James; NeeMePoo – Allen P. Slickpoo Sr. and Deward E. Walker Jr.
* * * *

Thank you so much, Paty!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Make Me Buy Your Book: Ghost Stories

Make Me Buy Your Book!

This is an opportunity for me to find the kinds of e-books that I love to read, but which can be hard to find sometimes. And it’s an opportunity for published authors to share information about their books and find new readers. Win-Win.

On the 20th of each month, I’m going to post a blog detailing the specifics of a genre or type of book I’d love to know about (and hopefully buy).

This month, I’m looking for Ghost stories! Some might call these horror or perhaps mysteries with a paranormal element. Either of those descriptions works. But I’m looking for the atmospheric, delicate horror of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Barbara Michaels’s Ammie Come Home. Or Stephen King’s Dumas Key (which is excellent, by the way). I want stories where ghosts are something to be feared, not the object of love and desire.

Creepy. Understated. Moody. Gothic. If any of those adjectives describes your book, let me know about it! I also have a morbid and fairly wicked sense of humor, so black humor or even just sarcastic wit is also very much appreciated. Actually, I'm pretty much a sucker for any kind of humor.

I’m not interested in gore-fests, sexually explicit, or erotica material. I’m sorry, but them’s the rules.

How it Works

Here’s how this works—you can post a comment, up to 250 words long, containing a blurb about your book.

Please be sure to include a link to your website or other location that has additional information and buy links.

And again, please make the blurb something suitable for general audiences.

Now go forth and make me…buy your book!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

School of Hard Knocks: Pick a Genre

Know what you want to write

Today I’m starting a new series of articles on writing. You could call it the Blog of Hard Knocks, if you’d like. And while you may sigh and wonder why there is yet another blog with information about becoming an author (geared toward writing fiction) I can only say that I’ve learned a few things over the years that I haven’t seen talked about much. And these things were helpful to me. Eventually.

Of course, the pearls I’m going to throw out there are really nothing new. They are things other writers told me. But these bits of advice were more like a pebble in my shoe than pearls I immediately picked up and treasured. I listened and was aware of these pebbles of knowledge, but I didn’t really understand until my foot was bleeding copiously.

Maybe other newbie writers (or even established writers) and those curious about the writing process will pay more attention to these pebbles earlier instead of having to sit down and pour the blood out of their shoe because they just “didn’t feel it enough” to act sooner.

So here goes.

First Pearl of Writer Wisdom

Know what the heck you’re going to write.

Sounds simple enough. But it’s more complicated than it sounds. The biggest mistake a lot of folks make when they sit down to stare at a blank screen for the first time is they have only the vaguest idea of what they want to write. We’re talking genre. You might think, “Oh, I’m writing a romance—with bits of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Time Travel, Paranormal, Mystery, and Crime/Thriller thrown in. And it might be young adult. I’m not sure yet.”

Right there, you have a problem—if you actually intend to try to have your book published. Even if you want to self-publish through CreateSpace/Kindle or one of the other burgeoning eBook publishing channels. Because…your book has to be marketable. People have to understand what it is before they will buy it.

Even more important, if you can’t clearly state the essence of your book, clearly and cleanly, you’ll probably write such a confusing mish-mash that even you will have a hard time reading and understanding it.

Think: Clarity.

Pick a genre. Each genre has very specific rules and if you want to be a successful author, you need to be aware of those rules. Study them. For your first manuscript, make it as typical of your chosen genre as possible—it will help you write a quality book.

Here’s an example.

So…let’s say you sat down and you wrote a book about a young guy who has magical powers. And he goes to a school for wizards and makes friends. And discovers he has enemies. Stuff happens. Whatever.

Then everyone dies.

Now, clearly, if you’re writing a fantasy book for young adults, having all your characters die horribly and gruesomely at the end is probably not the way to go. It violates one of the basic rules of the YA Fantasy genre—at least one character must survive until the end. Even better, there’s a happy ending (more than one person lives and he/she is happy about it).

Of course, if you’re writing bad horror, then killing everyone off at the end is an option although I do classify that as bad horror. Even Stephen King allows at least one character to survive—which is what makes his stuff good horror and very saleable. And shows that even the horror genre has rules…but I digress.

But you do see what I mean, right? Every genre has things it will allow and won’t allow, and the more familiar you are with the various genre frameworks, the better armed you will be to write a manuscript that will be saleable. And after publishing—it will be marketable. You’ll be able to define who your audience is, and identify which general fiction category it falls under so readers can find your book, and you can target your promotional efforts to folks who may actually buy your book. It’s no use writing a young adult book about a young girls adventures in her flower garden and then pitching it to a bunch of 18-year old guys, unless you just like to see young guys laughing.

I know this is probably disappointing to some authors who are dying to write a Mystery-Time Travel-Sci Fi-Paranormal-Regency-Romance-Crime Thriller, but the reality is, you’re better off focusing on a more well-defined framework and genre. You’ll thank me later when you actually have to sell the beast you’ve written.

That’s it—now go forth and write that book!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bogus News from the Future

My previous blog predicting the course of the publishing industry over the next few years was so successful that I’m adding future predictions to my repertoire of blog topics. In fact, here is my next installment and the first of my Mostly Bogus news from the world of electronics and publishing.

The latest Mostly Bogus News from the Disinformation News Network

Dateline: Jan 11, 2021

HIC Apps

Google and Amazon announced today two new apps for the increasingly popular human identity chips (HIC). As most of our readers know, HIC were invented ten years ago and last year were included in an Identity Assurance law that legislates such chips will be embedded in the forearm of babies shortly after birth, to assist in locating lost or missing children. While such chips have previously been passive devices, the newest generation uses the minute electrical impulses generated by the surrounding muscle tissue to make the chips active. This has allowed small apps to run, including the latest two from industry giants Google and Amazon.

The Google HIC-app, known as G-Loc, will allow parents to view the location of their children on Google maps. This is expected to be a boon for both parents and law enforcement personnel in locating children who may have wandered off or become lost or even kidnapped. However, civil rights activists have already raised alarms about this service, pointing out that the same apps could be used by spouses to track the location of their errant significant others, not to mention the effect this technology may have on the ability of students to evoke their right to play truant. It remains to be seen what limitations lawmakers may set on this new breakthrough technology.

Amazon also announced today that their HIC-app, dubbed KHIC, will allow readers to download e-books to their HIC. These books can then be read via any available display using a Bluetooth technology, including the increasingly popular, new wave reading glasses and contact lenses. This technology frees the reader from carrying any type of e-reader as content is delivered on demand to the HIC and from there can be displayed on any nearby display device.

For those readers who prefer audio books, KHIC will stream the audio version of the book directly to any Bluetooth-equipped hearing aid or headsets. It is reported to work very well with auditory implants surgically implanted to correct deafness, although there are rumors that listening to too many audio books in one sitting may lead to distraction, impatience, and a general inability to listen when other people are talking.

However, since most conversations take place via tweets and instant messaging, this is not seen as a real issue for audiophiles, most of whom scoffed at the notion that their social skills might suffer if they preferred to listen to the voices in their head over those of their significant others. One audiophile was quoted as saying, "What? Wait a minute, this is the really good part..."

Late Breaking Update

Jan 12, 2012 - A wife took an axe to her husband today after discovering him in flagrante delecto with a pair of co-eds claiming to be from the University of Boston. The wife, identified as I. M. Cummins, was a member of the Boston police department and had purportedly been working on a case involving a pair of missing teenaged girls. She was issued a search warrant based upon geographic information obtained through Google’s newest G-Loc app and tracked the girls to room 313 in the local Ho-Down hotel and convention center. Detective Cummins discovered the girls doing unspeakable things to her husband who was inconveniently handcuffed to the bed at the time. His bonds prevented his expeditious escape, allowing his wife time to find the hotel’s fire axe and use it to free her husband from his restraints by relieving him of most of his limbs and head.

The girls returned unharmed and in excellent spirits to their parents.

The hotel maids, however, subsequently filed a complaint concerning their unsavory working conditions due to the occasional unpleasant surprise found in and around the bed in room 313.

More Related News

After a group of innovative students used KHIC to download and view the answers to their final exam in Moral Philosophy at Yale, Amazon is considering the addition of a Professor-Control add-on to KHIC. The add-on will allow teachers and other officials to shut down any KHIC running within 50 yards of their KHIC. Civil Rights groups are monitoring this to ensure it’s not used to prevent readers from accessing and enjoying e-books whenever and wherever they wish, including books previously listed as banned or just plain stupid (JPS).

While the three students involved were expelled from Yale, MIT offered them a scholarship to work on a project involving the development of additional HIC-apps for the Department of Defense. Details concerning such a project, or even confirmation that such a project exists, were unavailable at this time.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Predictions for Publishing

Publishing—What the heck is going on?

Everyone has their own opinion about the publishing industry and where it’s headed. Heck, read J. A. Konrath’s blog for a fascinating look at book publishing and the growth of e-publishing. Is traditional, NY-based, Big House publishing in trouble? Morphing into something else?

Who knows?

It’s all speculation. Me? I just thought it might be fun at the start of 2011 to take a look at publishing. Perhaps it’s just all that Science Fiction I read in my younger years that’s compelling me to do this. Perhaps my family is right and it’s deep-seated, intensely morbid insanity.


Some of these predictions are my own wish-list. Some are just fun. Some are fun, but also on my wish-list. I leave it to you to decide what might be real and what is just demonic possession.

Projections for the Publishing Industry


Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, the big 6 NY Publishers became the big 3. Several medium-sized publishers merge to become one of the 3 new, big 3 NY publishers.

Sales of e-books continued to skyrocket with reports from Amazon that they now sell three e-books for every paper/hardcover book sold. After this announcement, a Barnes and Noble spokesperson is reported as saying, “Hey, so are we! Wait—no! We’re selling FOUR times as many e-book as paperbacks! Especially since we’ve closed 40% of our stores in less productive markets this year. No—wait. Don’t report that last part. Just say we’re selling four times as many e-books as paperbacks. Wait! Can I get a do-over on this interview?”

A standard format for e-books is under discussion to allow readers to more easily move their virtual libraries from one type of e-book reader to another. E-book virtual libraries are under discussion by leading technologists so readers can keep their stash of books “in the cloud” and permanently available regardless of the devices used for reading/storing the books.

In a surprise move, the Federal Government takes over management of the public library system in the U.S. due to issues with funding and the rate of closures. Feds claim they will examine hosting virtual libraries for readers, too, as part of the public library system and as a way to fund the remaining physical libraries.


Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, the big 3 NY Publishers became the Big One.

Universities and Colleges now require students to have an e-book reader and all text books used are e-books downloaded from Google.

Harvard accidentally grants an author a PHD in English Literature and a tenured professorship when the author is listed on the Times Bestsellers list before they realize the author is self-published. One of Harvard’s non-tenured professors hangs himself in his office in response. Nobody finds the body for three months, leading to the accidental identification of the mummified remains as a medieval scholar who went missing from Cambridge and was widely believed to be brought to the New World as a curiosity to trade to the Native Americans for beaver pelts during the 17th century. The mistake isn’t discovered until his suicide note is found, inexplicably left in an antique typewriter in his office.

A standard format for e-books is adopted. Readers are unsure, however, if they wish to pay the exorbitant fees to have the Feds maintain their virtual library for them in the public library cloud.

In December, in another surprise move after what is dubbed “The Fed Cloud Debacle”, Starbucks strikes a deal with the Federal Government and takes over management of the public library system, incorporating them into their café system. The heavily caffeinated reading public starts consuming books at a faster rate, pumping some much needed energy into the print publishing industry.


The Big One publisher initiates a new program to find authors by trolling e-book sites. After an outcry from prolific and very articulate writers, software vendors include the Big One in their SPAM filtering to cut down on the number of annoying e-mails writers receive, begging for authors to submit their work.

Three agents kill themselves when the last of their authors send them the now traditional “Bite Me” e-mails informing them they are now self-publishing, thank you, and raking in five times as much money as they earned as traditional authors.

Writer organizations such as Mystery Writers, Science Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America, open their doors to the self-published authors. They have so much money they don’t know what to do with it, so they start buying management of literacy programs from the Feds, who are glad to get the money, even if they have to shut down and RIF 50% of the Department of Education.

After the Feds put pressure on them, Starbucks Café and Library system opens up a soup kitchen extension that offers “Soup and a Book” to support the homeless who want to read. After three months, one heavily caffeinated customer spills soup all over his e-book reader due to the “Starbucks Shakes” and he’s electrocuted and dies. The soup kitchens are closed.


Agents are forced to register in a central system so software vendors can include agents in their SPAM filtering to cut down on the number of annoying e-mails writers receive, begging for authors to submit their work. Impetus is added to this when agents bog down Internet traffic with their desperate, whiny e-mails begging authors to choose me!

Five well-known writers who clung to traditional publishing leap off the Empire State building holding hands as a final protest when the NY Times Bestsellers list is dominated by self-published writers writing the enormously popular Science Fiction Romance series: Werewolves are from Mars, Vampires are from Venus. The news article announcing this tragedy misspells all but one of the author’s names and has to issue a retraction which no one reads. However, one lone blogger in Detroit sees the retraction and mistakenly believes all the authors—except one—survived. This leads to a revolutionary phenomenon in e-books purported to be from the four remaining authors about werewolves and vampires who fall in love during long space voyages. These e-books are widely believed to be written by the authors’ ghosts. The e-books outsell all of the authors’ previous works, combined.

Ghosthunters, International does a show where they prove the four authors’ ghosts are writing from a castle in Scotland, using the ENIAC computer abandoned there in 1949, and a 300-BAUD modem to access an obscure bulletin board system with a connection to the Internet running in the pantry of one of Elton John's mansions in England.
 News agencies begin to predict the end of e-books because of general illiteracy and the fact that anyone who can complete a manuscript can be a published author. Obviously, only the illiterate can write a book nowadays given the current hostile publishing climate. And who has time for reading when everyone spends all their time on blogging, tweeting, social networking, and e-mailing?

So there you have it. A look at the next four years in publishing.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Manuscript That Destroyed Publishing As We Know It

To all the authors, editors, bookstore owners, and agents out there, I extend my heartfelt apologies. It’s all my fault. I admit it. All those publishers closing their doors or merging. All those bookstores closing…I’m just sick about it. But the first step to healing is admitting the problem. And the problem is my manuscript. Specifically, manuscript X. It has another title, but given its impact on the industry, I’m afraid to use the real title for fear of causing even more tragedy as it slowly spreads through the blog-o-sphere.

This is a true story.

Or at least mostly true.

Well, the beginning is true, and here it is.

About six years ago, I wrote a manuscript. It was a murder mystery. Call it X. X was pretty darn good. Maybe not great, but good. So I sent it to an agent. The agent was interested, but before anybody signed a contract, someone died in the agent’s family and she quit working for a while. Sorry. Just a coincidence and a sad one, at that. I sent flowers.

Then I started resubmitting X and pretty soon, found another agent. She was interested, too, but before we signed anything, she got ill and decided to stop being an agent for a while. I was really sorry about that. Sent more flowers and signed up to be able to send flowers to agents at the press of a button on my cell phone.

Started using a death’s head icon for the manuscript file. It was just a joke. Really.

But starting to fear the manuscript was not healthy for agents, I submitted the manuscript to a small press publisher. The publisher liked it. We talked about a contract but then the economy tanked. (My fault. Sorry.) The publisher went out of business as a result.

Now, despite these odd coincidences, I didn’t learn and I kept submitting the darn thing. As it wended its way through the publishing industry, more companies slowly went out of business. Or for those that survived, a series of editors quit. So did a few of the agents I sent it to at various intervals, still trying to maintain the pretense that I had nothing to do with this growing horror.

Finally, I stopped. And tonight, I’m looking at X and wondering…if I go the self-publishing route with Amazon, are they big and strong enough to survive the curse of X? Or will it cause the e-publishing market to implode before it even matures? Or worse, will I finally succumb to the curse since I will be stepping into the shoes of an editor if I self-publish? That’s a scary thought. My chickens may come home to roost.

That’s not pleasant. I raise chickens. I know what those little devils are capable of. In fact, I may someday write a true horror story about evil fowl. Assuming there is still a market for books.

If I was a thoughtful, decent person, wouldn’t I stop the destruction by deleting all traces of manuscript X?

Maybe. But like my chickens, I’m not that nice.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

2011 - Resolution

2011 Resolutions and News
All writers should be busy right now making their resolutions, so I'm right in the thick of things when I write mine. A word of advice, though, to other writers, as well as folks in general, when you make your list of goals remember to sift them through the filter of what you have control over.

If you're a writer, you can have a goal of submitting your manuscript to fifty publishers, but you can't control getting a contract offer. So keep your goals as actions you can manage. This goes for non-writers, too.

There are two schools of thought about goals. The first school says to set your goals as high as possible with the theory that you'll go beyond what you thought you could do to reach them. The second school says, set reasonable goals as they will encourage you to continue as you check them off your list.

For a writer, since we all know our real goal is that contract over which we have no control, we already have a very high goal to reach for, even if we don't specifically state it (because we have no control over it). And since we're getting rejections almost daily and have very little encouragement other than the occassional nice review, I'd suggest that writers (and anyone similiarly positioned who already faces overwhelming challenges) set goals that are possible for a human to reach. Reaching at least a few will provide much needed encouragement to continue in what can be a very discouraging arena.

So what are my goals for 2011? Here they are, and I'll bet a lot of writers can cut&paste these into their blog, too, because they're probably pretty much the same for most writers.
  1. Edit & polish Deadliest Rose to submit to publishers
  2. Edit & polish It's a Crime to submit to publishers
  3. Maintain blog and post regularly
  4. Do weekly promos and search out new promotion opportunities
  5. Do weekly crits for crit partners and submit my own stuff, too
  6. Walk more for exercise--lose weight!
  7. Write a new mystery book--first draft--for NaNoWriMo in November
  8. Write first draft of my next paranormal romance about Theresa Blackstone
  9. Finish Christmas novella
  10. Publish crime short story to use in promotions
So much for goals. And now on to more fun!

Upcoming Goodies
I'm celebrating the publication of the first three books in the Archer family historical romantic mystery series!

John Archer, the irrepressible rogue and senior member of the family, is saddled with two problems: a love of adventure and far too many unmarried neices and nephews. As you might expect, John finds ways to indulge his need for adventure by getting his family members in deep trouble while simultaenously playing matchmaker. Unfortunately, his masterful efforts are rarely, if ever, truly appreciated!

So here are the books (in order) that are now available in both print and ebook forms.

The Necklace - a young woman, a scoundrel, and a family heirloom that might possibly be cursed!

When Oriana's uncle John brings home a wounded friend, Chilton Dacy, for her to nurse, she can't help but wonder what sort of scoundrel he might be. Her uncle has a long and sad history of befriending miscreants of the worst sort. Then, she finds a necklace thought lost and her worries only increase. The necklace bears a curse promising a hideous death to anyone who posses it, and it starts coming true when she's blamed for the murder of a stranger when the necklace is found on the body.

It's up to Chilton to prove her innocence and save her from an overly personal encounter with the hangman's noose!

For more info and buy links:

I Bid One American - an American heiress nobody wants, a duke every woman desires, and a murder no one expects!

When Nathaniel, Duke of Peckham, meets American heiress Charlotte, he's suspicious of her indifference. Too many women have sought--and failed--to catch is attention. But Charlotte seems more interested in dead Pharaohs than English dukes.

Unfortunately, when a debutante seeking to entrap Nathaniel is murdeered, his reputation as a misogynist focuses suspicion on him! On impulse, Charlotte comes to his aide, unaware that her actions place her in harm's way.

Danger mounts when a highwayman interested in rich heiresses turns his attention to Charlotte and another debutante is found dead in Nathaniel's carriage...

For more info and buy links:

The Bricklayer's Helper - a masquerade turns deadly when a murderer discovers one of his victims survived...

After her family perishes in a suspicious fire, Sarah hides her identity by working as a bricklayer's helper. But her disguise can't keep her safe when someone discovers she survived and follows her to London. Alone and terrified, Sarah pins her hopes on William Trenchard, an inquiry agent with Second Sons. William, however, seems far too attractive for Sarah's peace of mind, and she soon fears that involving him may be her final--and fatal--mistake.

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Starting in 2011, I'm running a continual contest through my blog here at and all you have to do to enter is write comments when the mood strikes you.

From the comments, I'll cull a monthly winner to receive one of my books in e-book form and it's reader's choice so she (or he) can select the book they wish from my list (check out ).

Every three months, in March, June, September, and December, the winner will receive a print set of the first three books in the Archer series, including: The Necklace, I Bid One American, and The Bricklayer's Helper. Or, if they prefer my other books, they may make a selection of any three. (I'm sorry, but due to shipping costs, paperbacks will only be shipped within the continental USA. However, winners in other locations may select three ebooks, instead.)

Promotions for Other Writers
Finally, on the 20th of each month, I'll be asking other writers to drop by and write comments consisting of a blurb about their book(s). I'll post a blog specifying which genre is open for that month. I'm hoping to find some new reading material for myself and other readers, as well as providing writers with another promotional opportunity. A win-win for all!

So happy New Year!