Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Who is the overcommitted writer? This will give you some idea of who she is:
* She has no less than 10 ideas racing around in her head begging to be written, but she has no time to write any of them down
* She spends no less than 8 hours a day on the computer
* Her family eats lots of fast food or TV dinners
* Her housework piles up until she can't take it anymore and spends an entire day cleaning out of sheer frustration
* When she is lucky, she gets more than 5 hours of sleep each night
* She is the woman who volunteers for every project put on at her church, her children's school, or by local town committees
Doesn't this writer sound hopeless? She's a lost cause, right? Well, not exactly.
The trick to not getting overcommitted is to learn how to say "no". It's not a dirty word, but a lot of people--especially women--find that tiny word so difficult to say.
Saying "no" does not mean you are a bad person, self-centered, or ungiving. It simply means that you realize your body and mind can only do so much with the time you have. If you're constantly running around with little or no time to relax and enjoy life, then your physical and mental health will suffer.
But how do you say "no" and not feel like a bad guy? Honestly, I'm still trying to figure that one out. I have read lots of articles about ways to say "no" and tips on how to get to the point where you can say "no" comfortably, but I'm not there yet. Writer Donna Birk had this great article I found at http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Birk1.html, which talked about the stages of learning to say "no". I'm in Stage 1, where I have identified that I need to say "no" to things. This is also the stage where I am able to see places where I could have said "no" but didn't.
As part of my goals for the end of 2007 and into 2008 I have made my writing a top priority, right next to spending more time with my family. I've already started to put into motion things that will allow me to do both. Once I was at the point where I realized I needed to say "no", I stopped living the life of the overcommitted writer and began living the life of the the writer who is going to make the time for the things that are the most important to her.
You can do it to!
Monday, November 26, 2007
It was later that I was taught a distinction between detective fiction and crime fiction. By my professor’s definition (I’ve heard others since), a detective novel is told strictly from the point of view of a detective. You only know what he knows. A crime novel may be told from the point of view of a criminal, a victim, or a bystander (innocent or otherwise.) It can even be told from multiple points of view, employing a crosscutting technique so often used in film and TV. This can raise the stakes, and often begs the categorization “thriller,” which I use to describe my books.
My main character is a detective, but in three of the books, the reader knows who the killer is long before the detective does, even before the killer kills. The story often begins with a murder and ends with a solution, as all detective stories do. But there are other murders along the way, and plots and schemes, and attacks and counterattacks. There are elements of romance as well as mystery. My goal is to make the reader hunger to find out what happens next, rather than wondering what happened before.
My newest book, The Last Jew Standing, is different from my others in that the entire story is told from the point of view of the detective, Dan Reles. We only see what he sees, and often, by the time he finds out what the criminal is up to, the damage is already done. My goal was to create a story that was just as thrilling as a multiple-POV story, but with only one narrator. To do that, I created a situation where the character found himself, (along with his family and his town) in increasingly desperate danger.
Then I challenged him to get out of it.
For more information on Michael or The Last Jew Standing, check out his website.
Monday, November 19, 2007
From burglary to armed robbery and murder, infamous bad guy Frank Cullotta not only did it all, in Cullotta he admits to it—and in graphic detail. This no-holds-barred biography chronicles the life of a career criminal who started out as a thug on the streets of Chicago and became a trusted lieutenant in Tony Spilotro’s gang of organized lawbreakers in Las Vegas. Cullotta’s was a world of high-profile heists, street muscle, and information—lots of it—about many of the FBI’s most wanted. In the end, that information was his ticket out of crime, as he turned government witness and became one of a handful of mob insiders to enter the Witness Protection Program. “Frank Cullotta is the real thing,” says Nicholas Pileggi in the book’s Foreword, and in these pages, Cullotta sets the record straight on organized crime, witness protection, and life and death in mobbed-up Las Vegas.
Murder in Las Vegas
According to investigating police officers, Lisner had put up quite a fight. Bullet holes were discovered throughout the inside of the dwelling, and blood was found on the walls and floor leading from the garage, through the residence, and out to the pool. Although the house had been ransacked, the cops didn’t believe robbery or burglary was the motive. They declined to speculate on the reason Lisner was killed, but they did have a theory on how the murder went down. The killer, or killers, knocked on the garage door, surprising Lisner. When he answered the knock, the shooting started. Although wounded, the victim attempted to escape his assailant, running through his home, the would-be killer in close pursuit and bullets flying. After a valiant effort to survive, Lisner’s luck ran out when he reached the pool. No murder weapon was found and no suspect named.
But the police had their suspicions on the why and who of it. They knew that the dead man had mob connections and was in legal trouble. He’d been arrested by the FBI on July 11 and charged with interstate transportation of stolen property, aiding and abetting, grand larceny, and conspiracy. Free on $75 thousand bail, Lisner was scheduled to go on trial October 29 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
Lisner was also believed to have been acquainted with Chicago Outfit enforcer and Las Vegas organized crime kingpin Tony Spilotro. And it was rumored that the deceased had been negotiating with the FBI to work out a deal in the cases pending against him in Washington. Could those negotiations have included providing incriminating information against Spilotro, one of the FBI’s prime targets?
Metro investigators knew all this and suspected that Spilotro might well be behind the killing. However, they couldn’t immediately prove their suspicions and kept their thoughts to themselves.
As it turned out the cops were pretty close to the truth in their idea of what occurred at Lisner’s house that night. But they were wrong in that Lisner had not been surprised by the arrival of his killer, he had been expecting him. And the victim had drawn his last breath in his living room, not outside by the pool.
There was no error in their belief that Tony Spilotro was behind the murder, however. When the soon-to-be dead man answered his door that evening he invited his murderer inside. In a matter of moments the visitor began to fire a total of ten bullets aimed at his host’s head, with several finding their mark. The assassin wasn’t Tony Spilotro himself, but he was there at Tony’s behest. The man was Spilotro’s trusted associate who ran a crew of burglars and robbers known as the Hole in the Wall Gang. His name? Frank Cullotta.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
This question has tumbled around in my mind for the past few weeks as I search for blog hosts for my clients at Pump Up Your Book Promotion. I actually handled the whole gaining myself an online presence thing backwards. Unfamiliar with HTML and afraid of designing my own website, I chose to start a blog first. It was an easy way for me to make a little bit of the World Wide Web my own and I like to spout off at times, so it worked for me. I did eventually break down and put together a website, like a good little professional writer should, but I still enjoy blogging much more.
Over the past several months I have seen some amazing websites, but they don't tell me enough about the writer. I am always left with wanting to know more. That's why blogging is so great--your readers get to know more about you without spending $15.95 to figure out if they like you or your work. Blogs give writers the chance to really reach out to readers and gain new fans, and I believe they do it better than websites.
Now, the trick is that you have to keep the blog updated. No one wants to go back to a blog that hasn't been updated in three months. I like to think of my website as the place to promote my blog and not the other way around. While I can be lazy and only update my website once a month, I have to constantly be updating my blog to increase it's visability and ranking with blog rating sites. I'm more motivated to blog than update my site, and I schedule my blog updates along with the other items on my to-do list. So, all around, it works much better for me.
If I had only enough time to commit to a website or a blog, I would choose a blog hands down. And newsletters--while a wonderful way to promote yourself--take more time than I have and am willing to sacrifice, so I'll stick with a blog. It's a win for me and a win for my readers.
Start your blog today at these or any other free blog hosting site:
Monday, November 12, 2007
Synopsis: Christmas is fast approaching and many of the women in the town of Holly are bracing themselves for stress, overwork, and little understanding or appreciation from the men in their lives. But then inspiration hits. Joy Robertson, Laura Fredericks, and their knitting buddies decide to “go on strike” and give the men an opportunity to see firsthand what it takes to make the holidays merry and bright. Soon other women are joining in and husbands all over town are getting a crash course in decorating, shopping, and what to wear to see Santa, and are searching frantically for an interpreter to translate the mysteries of holiday recipes. The men may just come to appreciate the holidays after walking a mall in their wives’ high heels. But maybe the women will learn something, too.
ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS EXCERPT:
Glen Fredericks slapped the back of his last departing Thanksgiving dinner guest. "Good to see ya. Thanks for coming."
"Hey, man, great time," said the mooch. "Thanks for having me."
"No problem. We'll do it all again at Christmas," Glen promised.
Behind him, Glen's wife Laura suddenly envisioned herself going after her husband with the electric carving knife he'd used earlier on the turkey. "In your dreams," she growled. She stepped around Glen and shoved the front door shut. Having made contact with a hefty male hind end, it didn't shut easily, especially for a woman who was five feet two and a hundred and nineteen pounds, but she managed."Hey," Glen protested. "What was that all about?"
"You need to ask?" Laura gave her over-chewed gum an angry snap. He did this to her every year, and every year he promised that next year things would be different. But they never were.
"Mama, Tyler's in the 'frigerator," called five-year-old Amy.
Laura marched toward the kitchen, Glen trotting after her. "Today might have been your idea of fun, Mr. Invite the Whole Planet Over, but it sure wasn't mine."
No woman in her right mind would volunteer to have her house turned into the city dump by the invasion of family, friends, and Thanksgiving freeloaders her husband had invited into their home. Before the invasion, this room had looked great, decorated with little gourds, cute ceramic pumpkins, and her two prettiest vases filled with mums. Now everywhere she looked she saw mess. CD's lay scattered on the floor in front of the entertainment center. Her new leather couch was littered with a plastic football, Glen's socks, magazines, and an open can of nuts (half-spilled). Glasses and bottles were strewn every which way across her coffee table. The little hand-painted, wooden Pilgrim couple that she'd set out on the sofa table now lay on their sides as if taking a nap, not that you could really see them anyway in the litter of napkins and appetizer plates and other party leftovers. And it was hard to ignore the towel on the carpet, evidence of an earlier wine spill mop-up.
People said you shouldn't have cream colored carpet when you had little kids. Well, people were wrong. She managed to keep the carpet clean just fine with two kids. It was Glen's moocher co-worker who was the problem. And of course Glen had been too busy yucking it up to tell her about the spill. She only discovered it when she stepped on it in her stocking feet.
"Come on, babe," he protested. "It's the holidays, and it only comes once a year."
"It's a good thing because it takes me a whole year to recover. In case you didn't notice, Glen, we've got two children, a big house that I clean, and I work thirty hours a week." Before Glen could reply they heard the distinctive crash of a dish breaking followed by a startled cry. "Oh, great. Now what?" Laura muttered, and picked up speed.
She found five-year-old Amy hovering near the doorway, a golden haired cherub. "I told him not to," Amy said, already the bossy older sister.
Behind her, by the fridge, stood two and a half-year-old Tyler - nickname, Tyler the Terrible - whimpering. At his feet lay a fluffy pile of whipped cream fruit salad, broken shards of ceramic bowl sticking up through it like mountain peaks through the clouds.
Laura walked over to where her son stood and surveyed the damage. "Mess, Mama," Tyler told her.
She had been going non-stop since six in the morning and it was now eight at night. She sat down on the floor behind her son and began to cry. That set Tyler off, and he started wailing. She pulled him to her and they both went at it."It's okay, baby," Glen said and knelt beside her. He was a big, kind-hearted teddy bear of a man. Most days. Today, he was just a big pain in the butt.
He reached out to put a beefy arm around her and she gave him a shove. "Bite me. Do you have any idea what this day has been like for me, Glen? Do you even have a clue?"
"You made a great dinner," he tried.
"Yes, Imade the dinner. No one brought anything except your mother, and all she brought was soggy pumpkin pies. I stuffed and baked the turkey, I made the fruit salad, the candied yams, the smelly rutabagas your lazy cousin loves, the green bean casserole, the mashed potatoes and gravy and the home made dinner rolls from your mother's recipe. Why can't she make her own damn rolls?"
From the other side of the kitchen, Amy gasped. "Mama said damn."
"Mamas can do that on Thanksgiving," Glen said, thinking fast.
Yeah, he had a comeback for a five-year-old, but he couldn't think of anything to say to his wife. What could he say, the big turkey? "I cleaned and decorated the house, set the table, and made the whole effing dinner. And, while you and your family and those freeloaders that you call friends all sat around afterward like beached whales and watched the football game, your mother and I got to clean up the big, effing mess you left. I don't care how much football you played in high school and college. You could miss fifteen minutes of one game to help."
He frowned. "Hey, I was watching the kids."
"Yeah, right. When, during the beer commercials? Tyler ate almost an entire candy bowl of M&M's. It's a wonder he hasn't thrown up yet. And if he does, guess who's dealing with it."
Glen held up a hand to cut her off. "I will, don't worry. But you know it's not entirely fair to say I did nothing. I helped."
She glared at him. "Oh, yeah, you put the extra leaf in the table and brought up the folding chairs. Real big of you." She got up and steamed out of the kitchen, calling over her shoulder. "I'm taking a bath. After that, I'm going to bed with my mystery novel. I don't want to see you or anyone for the rest of the evening."
Glen's voice followed her. "That's a good idea, babe. Take a break. You deserve it."
That was an understatement Laura decided, looking at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. The makeup that hadn't worn off was now smudged and runny from her crying jag, and her hair was a mess. She looked like blonde roadkill. She felt like it, too. The labors of Thanksgiving had almost crushed her.
And in just four weeks her husband expected her to do this all again. Four weeks? Who was she kidding? It would all start this weekend with cleaning up the mess Hurricane Glen had left in his wake. (Naturally, he'd help . . . for about two minutes until he got distracted horsing around with the kids or finding a football game to watch.) Then they'd start hauling out the Christmas decorations and begin the Christmas shopping. The day after Thanksgiving, the biggest shopping day of the year - she couldn't face it. Maybe she'd just stay in the tub until she turned into the world's biggest prune. Or until Glen got a clue.
Except Glen was terminally clueless, so she'd never leave the tub again. If only his brain size matched the size of his heart. Maybe he needed glasses. He obviously couldn't see how much he dumped on her this time of year . . .
Find out more about Shelia and On Strike for Christmas at her website.
Friday, November 09, 2007
All writing takes place first in the higher dimensions of the heart, soul, and mind of the author and then gets translated to the two dimensional piece of paper. So when one is experiencing writer’s block, whether you are fully aware of it or not, it means that somewhere along those points of energy, or energy meridians, exists energy blockage.
One of the keys to unlocking the doors to creativity lies in the ability to clear and rebalance the energy field and/or chakras. When the energy field is balanced, one discovers with joy that the hinge on the door of the creative mind once again swings open as easily as a newly oiled gate.
The first step in clearing the field is as simple as identifying what is really bothering you or affecting you on a very physical level. We start with this because this is the energy that resides in the first or root chakra. Issues and challenges regarding money, time, family, and relationships can have quite a negative effect upon creative flow.
The second chakra is the seat of creativity. If we are writing and creating something that we have no audience for or have challenges in bringing to market, then we may find the creative flow being stifled or staunched. It is akin to being in a constant state of pregnancy and never giving birth.
The third chakra is the resting place of the soul. If you aren’t able to express, communicate, and impart what is in your very core, you will perhaps experience a wedge of stagnation and frustration.
Most writers write from the heart, from their imaginations and upper chakras. When experiencing writer’s block it isn’t that the heart and mind are closed. It’s that the flow to these is temporarily blocked. If the flow is blocked by the static energy being generated from the lower chakras, nothing brilliant or inspirational can get through or get translated to paper. It’s similar to a clogged pipe. It is necessary to eliminate the obstruction in the system.
Clearing the energy field and balancing the chakras is not a difficult task if one understands that one must start at the base and work up from there. I used to teach a class on how to do it, and then in 2005 I developed a music and meditation series for vibrational attunement of mind, body and soul. One can incorporate this concept of vibrational attunement into everything they do. I incorporated it my new cookbook, Voice of the Angels – Talk To Your Food! Intuitive Cooking. Cooking and preparing food is a basic root chakra function; however the creative procedure of doing so is an upper chakra operation. When you tie those together, you’re opening and balancing all of your chakras easily and effortlessly.
One of the most important goals of my body of work is to make chakra balancing and energy clearing into a completely natural and enjoyable process for everyone. In learning to do this we can become our best selves and our whole selves. Here’s to no more blocks! Let the creativity flow!
Dyan Garris publishes a free Daily Channeled Message on her website: http://www.voiceoftheangels.com/
Monday, November 05, 2007
SAVAGE SURVIVAL is not just another testosterone driven science fiction novel. At the basic level, it explores the personalities and attitudes of men, women and children when stripped of the comforting insulation of organized society. Invulnerable aliens have captured millions of humans and are subjecting them to the most brutal and horrible environments ever encountered, in essence a survival test of a magnitude heretofore undreamed of.
Lyda Brightner is an eleven-year-old girl when she is suddenly and without warning separated from her parents and thrown into the midst of undisciplined humans in a harsh desert environment. Food and water and clothing are fought over. Those who control it can do as they wish—and their wishes are terrible.
Lyda is weaponless and alone, like almost everyone. Raped at eleven. Forced to kill. Grieving for her parents. All that stands between Lyda and death is her own innate bravery, her quick mind, her unwavering integrity and ultimately, her belief that someday she will find someone to love.
Lyda's strength of character and fighting spirit make her a leader, even at a very young age. Over the next six years she must constantly fight the ever changing and ever more dangerous environments the aliens subject them to. But she must fight other humans as well, those who have survived by brute strength and ruthless plundering of the weak.
But even if she lives through all this, Lyda must still face the final question: What do the aliens have in mind for the few hundred remaining humans, those few left of all the millions who died?
SAVAGE SURVIVAL is a coming of age novel like no other and Lyda Brightner is a character you'll never forget.