Fans, friends, and anyone else can use the following address to send me email:

Whether it's a comment you don't wish to post in front of everyone or a request for information, I will monitor this address and try to follow up to those indicating they wish a reply. (Please, no spam. I just want to make it easy to communicate.)

IMPORTANT - email addresses are ONLY used to respond to messages, and are NOT sold or used for any other purpose.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Feel the Power!

Query for submission of "Where Power Lies" came back positive, so the manuscript is on its way to the selection committee! I spent some time fiddling around with the cover art (not so good) and with the blurb. I think the blurb I've got truly represents the story, but it's too long and not really "snappy." While my intent is never to falsely represent anything, I want to come up with a descriptive piece that's quick and intriguing. As for my cover art attempts, I have a couple of designs in mind. One features a futuristic city growing out of the ruins of the old, i.e. the "No Zone." The other concept is to have a silhouette vignette of the woman's dead body with a man (the Senator) standing over it, but the shadow he casts starts at his feet and then becomes the shadows of many people. I guess it depends on the blurb again, so if I rewrite what I have, one or the other covers may seem like the better option. The problem is, I'm not sure I can execute either of them very well with my meager tools and skills. I actually had a third option but it doesn't fit well with a blurb because it uses symbols that the reader will only discover by reading the book. Ah, well. Back to the drawing board.

"Mongan Manor" is still waiting to move to the next scene, but "Power" has been the focus of my attention and I haven't even thought about what should happen next in any detail. I find that sitting and staring at the computer screen, waiting for inspiration to come, doesn't work for me in these cases. I just have to sit and think about it, not doing anything else. On a few occasions, I've been able to just start typing something and my muse suddenly reveals the path ahead, but usually not. And I have never yet been able to skip over a leading section and just write the scene I've been so eager to get to. Just can't bring myself to do it. Maybe it has to do with not working from an outline. The story must unfold for me as it does my characters, so I can't skip over connecting sections to write the "fun stuff" out of sequence.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Gone and Done It

I completed my edit of "Where Power Lies" yesterday, and this morning, I sent off a query letter to Write Words about it. Guess that's that. Of course, until I get a request to see a sample, I can still make minor changes, but I'm going to try to avoid that. It's time to move on. If the manuscript is accepted, I already have the blurb, but the specter of cover art will then loom. Perhaps when I reach the next stuck place on "Mongan Manor," I'll take another whack at a cover image I have in my head.

Back to "Mongan Manor." I had some ideas on how to move forward, which involves Paul determining how the search for answers will move forward. I'm still pulling the passage together, getting ideas into proper sequence. Stefanie and Paul will be trying to get more information from the members of the family at Mongan Manor and to determine who might be behind the trouble the Ken is warning Stefanie about. Of course, their investigation is going to stir up the antagonists and bring some of that trouble their way. I've also considered a few aspects of the big conclusion scene which has already been foreshadowed, but there are a lot of details to work out. A key element is that while events of the past shaped the current situation and many of the players are long dead, there must be enough information among the living to enable Stefanie to solve the mystery.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Final Edit?

Finished reading hard copy of "Where Power Lies" and I have started the painstaking effort to make electronic changes without introducing any new errors. Once that's done, its query time.

Since I got onto this editing pass, I haven't had time to consider the next phase of "Mongan Manor" as yet, but once again, it's one of those cases where I want to get through the buildup and on to the next action which will be a major turning point. I also have to work out the murder aspect. I have the players and motives arranged, I think, but how it actually happens has yet to be developed. Of course, Stefanie and everyone else at Mongan Manor will first find the body and have to work out how it happened. All that's down the road a bit, nothing more than an outline of events at this stage.

A friend of mine has been posting Halloween music videos (from YouTube) on his Facebook page for some days now, and one of them is a recently-discovered favorite for me. "Voodoo" by Godsmack. He laughs at the notion of what people who don't know me would say to my liking it, but people who really know me know I have a widely (wildly?) eclectic taste in music. Anyway, in response to his post, I mentioned how surreal it was to listen to the song (which I could not resist) at 7 a.m., and he said something about a new story line. I said I'd see what my imagination could come up with. Voila! An idea. Still very formative, but I'm intrigued by the notion of doing a horror story. Well, maybe not horror as the genre is usually taken to be. I'm not a fan of blood and gore because, as Stephen King once wrote, the icky factor is the lowest level of horror fiction. I'd rather try for the top level--pulling the reader into the story so that he/she feels the terror and horror of the characters. An interesting challenge...

Monday, October 28, 2013

News and Updates

I heard from the publisher over the weekend and hopefully "Game Faces" and "Dabblers" will soon be out in paperback! Can hardly wait to get my author's copies.

I started writing a blurb for "Where Power Lies" in the interest of coming up with a cover concept, either that I could do myself or hire someone to do. Of course, I still have a long way to go on the proofing from hard copy that I began, and then making all the corrections to the manuscript. You'd think as many times as this story has been rewritten, I'd have it down by now, but alas... Sometimes, how I respond to reading my own book relates to my particular mood at the time. I had thought I would hold off doing more editing for a bit, but I may get back to it sooner rather than later.

That's because I'm stalled in "Mongan Manor" for the moment. It's time for Paul to get involved in solving the mysteries, an his interactions with the other characters are crucial. They will reveal things in very subtle ways which makes the coming passages tricky to plan and write. While I'm making every effort to not fall into the same plot pattern as in the first two books, there is one pattern that stubbornly exerts its influence, and that's not necessarily bad. Stefanie absorbs events and details and she reacts to them in her own emotional way. Paul comes in and applies his logical thinking and people-reading skills to pull her observations together to indicate what people are planning and doing. This is their synergy, filling in each other's gaps in ability. In this outing, in the name of changing things up, Paul is not resistant to the uncanny and Stefanie is not hiding anything from him any more. I guess another recurring theme is that Stefanie's psychic abilities continue to develop, but that's intentional. It's part of her character growth, which in turn is what makes me want to keep writing the same characters.

Also on my mind of late is more promotional activities. I need to polish my book brochure for a slicker look, as well as on-site materials for book fairs, etc. Since there may be speaking engagements in my future, I should probably outline a talk to give. I'm also considering a sort of book give-away, but I need to work out the details before I announce it.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Useless Words

Another appointment this morning gave me more time to read "Where Power Lies" off hard copy, and I keep finding tons of stuff to change. All those conversation tags that add nothing--I said, he said, she asked. So remembering some tips from one of my favorite editing books, I devised a set of "rules" to follow regarding tags.

  • Replace a tag with some action where feasible. "I think you're wrong on that." He looked down his nose at her. "You need to rethink your reasons."
  • If there has been a break in conversation, a narrative passage for example, tag the first two exchanges of dialog to establish who is speaking to whom. 
  • Use tags a bit more liberally (or better yet, the action substitution mentioned above) when more than two characters are speaking. 
  • If a line of dialog opens a chapter or scene, make sure the reader knows who is speaking.
  • If the tag does not clarify anything, cut it.
  • Watch out for overuse of adverbs on tags, i.e., seriously, jovially, softly, gently, etc.
  • Avoid repeating the same pattern of avoidance. For example, doing the first option above over and over again. Mix it up.
What I also (re)discovered is that by removing those useless words, it leaves room for more creative stuff where it really makes an impact. I'll be reading more in days ahead.

Now I'm eager to write the next scene in "Mongan Manor" which will crank up the action some more.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

While waiting for workmen to keep an appointment this morning, I started reading a printed copy of "Where Power Lies." Aaargh! Found mistakes--real mistakes!--on page 2. It's that old closure thing again. Also, having been away from the manuscript for a while, I spotted a couple of things to change for the sake of clarity, as well as unnecessary stuff I could remove, mainly tags that aren't needed. I've read about half way thorough Chapter 2 and I cringe at the number of corrections to be made. Lots of corrections also means lots of opportunities for me to introduce MORE errors. But maybe it'll all be worth it.

Made some progress on "Mongan Manor," especially in the thinking department which led to the next scene to be written. But now I'm into "Power" again, but maybe I can juggle the two books at once.

Since my morning appointment required a bit of a drive, I found myself thinking about the cover for "Power," and trying to figure out how much ease of execution should weigh into my decision on a design. There are a lot more factors that go into a cover concept. Eye-catching is certainly paramount, but I personally hate it when an attractive book cover misrepresents the story within. I believe that when someone reads the blurb on the back (or screen), the cover art should mesh with that little information and invite further investigation, i.e., reading the book. Some of my concepts for "Power" would be impossible(?) for me to do myself, but before I run off to find a graphic artist, I have to decide if a particular concept will follow my rule above. Perhaps what I should do is write the blurb first! Haven't done that yet, maybe because my early attempts have indicated it will be a tough job.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Planning Ahead

I have an errand to run tomorrow which will require me to sit and wait for an unknown period of time, so my first activity this morning was to print a copy of "Where Power Lies" to proofread. In the past, proofing from paper has allowed me to find errors I missed, and I hope it will this time too. I'm still thinking about giving self-publishing a try on this one, just for the experience. Got to do a cover for it as yet too.

Some work happening on "Mongan Manor," but I find myself at a point where I need to figure out what happens next. Paul has arrived at the manor and is about to meet some of the family there. He'll go head to head with one of them who happens to be a genius, too. I need to plan that conversation carefully to move things in the right direction. It's also about time to provide some more clues and perhaps for Stefanie to have a warning vision of something bad about to happen, i.e., the murder. Seems I have a few things to iron out in order to move forward.

Still prevaricating on the whole book trailer thing. It's going to take a good deal of work even after I decide what I want the finished product to look like. I have to wonder if my time would be better spent elsewhere, like spiffing up my promotional materials. I was showing my hubby one of my book brochures compared to that of another author which I picked up at Glen Ellyn Bookfest a few weeks ago. Hers was on slick paper, not just plain bond, and the graphics were more professional looking rather than clip art and other images available on Microsoft Word. Also on the promotion front, I may have some personal appearances pending next year, and it may not be too early to outline a talk about my writing career. I've spoken in public a couple of times before and was on a panel discussion at Love Is Murder this year, but being the "star" will be somewhat different. On the up side, I'll be talking about a subject close to my heart.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Updates et al.

Working on "Treasure of Mongan Manor" this morning, still in the easy going stage before I hit the first "stuck place." Maybe I won't hit one this time around. The book has so many elements in it--psychics, geniuses, ghosts, treasure, greed, inheritance, puzzles, genealogy. I noticed a certain Gothic edge to it as well, which doesn't surprise me under the circumstances, mainly due to the setting in an old manor house.

I think my antagonist candidates are pretty solid now, each having a motive to justify their actions. I might even have decided on the murder victim. There are a couple more characters to introduce that will muddy the waters somewhat and provide more information, but Stefanie's husband is about to join in the "fun." (In quotes because fun for me to write generally means not much fun for my characters.)

Yesterday, I did some more thinking about a book trailer, focusing on "Dabblers." I wrote out a script, as suggested by the article I hit on, and then viewed some examples on YouTube. I think many of them were professionally produced, which makes me fear creating something that is instantly recognizable as the work of an amateur. Then again, one of the book trailers I saw at the Glen Ellyn BookFest a few weeks ago looked as though it could have been produced by the techniques I thought I would use. Well, there's one way to find out how well I can do the job. I am considering doing more of Stefanie's "sleep drawings" like the ones I made for the book's cover, and those would work well in the first part of the trailer, although I'll still need some other images as well. I can try putting something together and then try it out on some friends for their opinion.

Also, while writing this morning, Microsoft Word presented a new Gotcha. I typed the following sentence:

I stared after her, unsettled, wary, and wishing I was better equipped to figure it all out.

Word flagged "was" with a green underscore indicating a grammar error. I right clicked on it and took the suggested replacement of "were." After the change had been made, Word put the green underscore on "were" and suggested replacing it with "was." This is one of those grammar rules I struggle with because "I was" seems intuitively more correct than "I were," so I did some research. I found my answer on this web page. Quick and Dirty Tips. The answer is "were," and the reasons given are quite interesting.

My own quick and dirty tip for the day? Be leery of spelling and grammar checking by a computer program.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Spreading My Name All Over

This morning, I delivered paperback editions of "The Dreamer Gambit" to the Barrington Area Library and the Elk Grove Village Public Library, as well as one "Two Faces, Two Faced" to Barrington. Elk Grove Village has stated they will BUY copies of all my other books for their collection. Now that I have seven books published, the idea of donating a copy to libraries in the name of creating a following is a good idea. When I only had one book, it seemed like giving away the store. Elk Grove Village will put a special sticker on the bound end to let people know I'm a local author. Itasca Public Library where I dropped off a copy of "Dreamer" last week, wants me to do some speaking appearances next spring and fall. I may get free advertising on any or all of their websites and newsletters, perhaps even something on their bulletin boards. Books given away could be money well spent!

I found a website which gave tips on how to create a book trailer and what to do with it when you have it. I discovered I have all the tools I need already on my computer, so I'm going to give it a whirl. Once I create it, I'll see how it plays. If it works well, it could become an attention getter for future book fair appearances.

Now I'm eager to get back into "Mongan Manor" for a bit this afternoon.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Uncertain Ground

Starting on a positive note, I delivered a copy of "The Dreamer Gambit" to the Itasca Community Library near me and talked about the possibility of doing some appearances there, possibly two. If it all comes together, this will be a great chance to reach out to the public and maybe gain some readers.

Now, that uncertain ground. In "Mongan Manor," Stefanie is getting her first look at the family portrait gallery which will be crucial to solving the secret puzzle. I've already prepared the reader with the knowledge that the paintings do not cover the entire family, but this idea of presenting various players in the action all at the same time. Most of them are deceased anyway. I know I can't focus only on the ones with key roles in past goings on, because that could give it all away. And I don't feel purposely tossing out red herrings is fair to the reader. Whatever gets presented should have some meaning overall. Thus far, I'm interspersing descriptions and possible clues with Stefanie's observations and reactions. We'll see how it turns out.

The other issue is the character of Stefanie. She's an unusual character with her strange allotment of traits. Her psychic abilities, her eidetic memory, and her skills at solving visual puzzles make her feel estranged from nearly everyone. Her ongoing struggle is to accept herself as she is, but while working on that, she is a self-exiled outsider. The problem is that I find it so easy to get into her head. No, I am not psychic, and I'm lucky if I can remember what I had for breakfast much less everything I've ever experienced like Stefanie does. I'm fairly good at puzzles, true, and have a limited artistic ability, but that hardly seems enough for me to be able to step so smoothly into her shoes. Does this mean I'm as weird as she is? I suppose my imagination has always made me feel apart from other people, too, and perhaps that explains it. I can only hope that her behavior in the novels is relatable enough for readers, that they understand her mood changes and thought processes and empathize with her.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Another library I contacted replied that they would like to receive one of my books and perhaps arrange a personal appearance. While I've done a little public speaking in the past, this would be the first time for me to be the "star." I'll probably have some time to put together a talk of some sort, but it will be an adventure. So that's three down and three to go of the places I sent letters to.

On another promotional front, I've been thinking about spiffing up my brochure for a glossy, more professional look. I had the idea of finding a photo of an old fashioned typewriter keyboard and changing the keys to spell out a brochure title and my name. I still need to explore printing options to get a good finished product. Also considering a poster of some kind to display at personal appearances. Maybe even a book trailer?

Working on "Treasure of Mongan Manor" again and making pretty good progress. Still trying to decide who will be murdered and why. I think there has to be a murder in order to kick the stakes up, provide some real danger and suspense. Of course, there must also be some development of Stefanie, either her power or her personality. Character growth is something I always look for in a series or even just one book, because the conflict the character finds him/herself in must require change of some kind. That's growth. Somehow, the old-style mysteries, where the sleuth was just the gatherer of information without any hint of having a personal life, never really appealed to me that much. While I do love the puzzle aspect of the story, I want the whole package, either as a reader or a writer.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Meanwhile, Back at the Manor...

Doing some work on "Treasure of Mongan Manor" this morning, feeling my way through introductions to the people who live in or are visiting the manor. I don't want to bring in too many people at once, though, because that can be confusing to the reader. It's an odd thing a writer has to remember: while the story and its players are perfectly clear in your head, the reader will know nothing in advance of being told about it. Each introduction of a character must tell something about them, provide some reason for them taking the spotlight, however briefly.

Will there be a murder at Mongan Manor? Probably. There's a family fortune, a buried treasure, and a secret in the offing, any of which could be the motive for a murder. Some might want to solve the secret, and some might want to keep it under wraps. Some believe in the treasure and some don't. I haven't given any insights to the inheritance as yet, but I'll be toying with it soon enough. One motive at a time.

I also caught a problem earlier. Working from the family tree I drew up, with all the nice Irish names applied to several generations of family members, I realized in the writing of the current introductions scene that I had one character named Marla and another named Moira in the same room together. The names are just too similar. Marla then became Alma. It's that old closure thing. People don't read every letter or even every word placed before them. There are lots of examples of the phenomenon circulating on the web, where even though  the letters are in the wrong order, maybe even interspersed with numbers, as long as the first and last ones are correct, most people are able to read it. The study of human psychological development calls that closure. So if a reader is speeding along at a good clip, having two such similar names could be confusing. As my publisher says, one of the cardinal rules for an author is never to confuse your reader.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Promo Engine, etc.

Last week, I sent letters and book brochures to six libraries near me, offering them a choice of a free book as well as my willingness to join in book fairs or meet with book clubs. I received one very nice response expressing interest in my offer of a free book (they actually asked about two of them). The other response I received yesterday mystified me a little. It came in an email saying only the library would not be able to add my titles at this time and thanking me for the information. They didn't want a freebie? It makes me wonder if that person actually read the letter. The email said nothing at all about author events, etc.

After my online efforts at promotion yesterday, i.e., joining or updating various websites, I got a spike in visits to my blog. I can only assume it's related. I'll keep exploring. I'm also giving more thought to offering editing services on Authors Den. For a fee, I'd read the first 20 or so pages. The fees might change according to how much the writer wants me to do. Grammar, spelling, punctuation would be the first level. Then structure and style. Then maybe a critique of how well the book opens. Need to work out the particulars of the plan, such as how works are sent and payment received.

And "Where Power Lies" now begins with a prologue. I think the idea works well to acquaint the reader with the setting and also alleviates the need for my first-person POV character to convey that information. Now the year of the story is up front, along with a description of the events that gave birth to the changes in society. Gone is the longish "thinking" part which did not occur until Chapter 2. The result gives me that satisfied feeling you get when you've fixed something that needed repair with a quick nod and a dusting off of hands. Just hope I didn't introduce any new errors. (*sigh*)

Now, back to "Mongan Manor" and some tricky first encounters.

Monday, October 14, 2013

I Know I Shouldn't, But...

Had a great idea for "Where Power Lies" over the weekend. In earlier posts, I wrestled with the issue of back story, how to present to the reader what my character already knows about the future world she lives in. The current manuscript contains a long passage of her thoughts as she travels to work one morning, but the soliloquy has always felt stilted and too much like what it is--info dump. Later on, another leading character recounts some of the same information as part of a speech.

Inspiration struck. I'll write a Prologue! It will be an excerpt from a speech which occurred ten years prior to the actual story. That later speech will echo it in an offbeat way. Dee's reflections on her way to work in the city will be greatly shortened with that long narrative eliminated, all the better to have her think about something more important! I'll get down to making that final (?) tweak later today, and then perhaps my muse will rest easier.

I also have more ideas about moving "Treasure of Mongan Manor" forward. I stopped at a point where Stefanie is about to meet more of the "players" in the mystery/puzzle, but I wasn't sure which characters to have her interact with or what the outcome would be. After being away from the story for a day or so, I realized the decision was actually easy and the result will move the plot along. That's what it's all about, after all.

This morning, I started pursuing some promotional leads as well. I'll put a link to the newest addition of websites I have information on on this page as well as all the others. That's what takes the most time--having every site link to all the others. Based on an email from Authors Den about how to make the most of my author page there, I did a bunch of updates on that site. There is also an article I kept in my favorites list about making book trailers. I may have skimmed it at first, but I'll take another look. The main question I  hope to answer is once you make a book trailer, where do you put it so people will see it?

Anybody out there care to comment on book trailers? Helpful? Never look at them? Hard to do? I'd love to get comments.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Sent off six letters and brochures to local libraries yesterday, offering each a free book for their collection and to make appearances with book clubs or at fairs. We'll see how that works out. I'll be exploring more promotional ideas and I'm giving serious consideration to making a book trailer. I found some articles on how to do that, but I'm not sure exactly what to do with it when it's done. I suppose I could do what some authors at Glen Ellyn Bookfest did and bring a computer to display the trailer in their allotted space. When it comes to personal appearances, I see a need to step it up a bit and look more professional. Would that help sales? Dunno.

Waiting to hear from my publisher about print editions of "Dabblers" and "Game Faces" before I send in my query for "Where Power Lies." A few times, I've started to open the "Power" manuscript and then decided there was nothing more to be done to it. I'm sure there are things I would change if I really tried, but it really is time to move on.

"Mongan Manor" is progressing well. Still fumbling around with how to get back story told. I've settled for putting in references whenever I think of them with the intent of editing them down later. I certainly want the book to be readable by someone who has not read the previous two books, but I also don't want to annoy those who have by restating things they already know. This can certainly be done, I believe, and a good example is with the Tempe Brennan books by Kathy Reichs. I did not start with the very first one, yet I enjoyed several of the books without it. Some of the references to previous events tempted me into reading the books that covered them, so that's the effect I want to achieve with my series.

An interesting blog post from Brianna Lee McKenzie (a writer's journey) which I picked up on from Twitter. She writes of how she had never written erotica, never tried to do steamy, explicit sex scenes, and yet found actually doing it not all that difficult. Hmmm. Maybe someday, I'll give it a shot, too. Thanks, Brianna, for the inspiring post.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


This morning, I prepared mailings to some local libraries, offering the a free book as well as my availability for events. I'll be dropping those at the post office this afternoon, and then I'll see where it goes.

Making HUGH progress on "Treasure of Mongan Manor." I've decided this time to not worry about picky stuff like how long chapters are or where I provide bits of back story. My aim is to get the story down in words and get bogged down as little as possible.

I think the title is pretty solid now. Since there was an inheritance involved in "Seer, Tyro, Fiend," I wanted to do something different. Since my setting is a modern-day castle of sorts, a hidden treasure just fell right into place with it. Now I have a family gathering in a Gothic setting and they're all interested in finding the treasure. One member has hired Stefanie to use her puzzle-solving skills to find it first. Inventing the title manor house is proving to be a lot of fun, as is dropping clues for Stefanie. Since logical thinking is not one of her highest skills, she sometimes gets a little lost, especially when other people attempt to benefit from what she knows or says. That's when Paul comes to the rescue, applying his intellect to supply the pieces she is missing to figure out patterns. One of the characters in this one is a genius, like Paul, and it should be fun having them butt heads.

Something I will have to do soon is go back over my family tree and figure out dates of death for some of the ancestors. Those dates will relate back to specific and important events, and I have to make sure all the ages work out right as well.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Publicity, Etc.

Well, I had planned to be at the Joliet Public Library Author Fair on Saturday, October 12, but unfortunately had to withdraw in light of other personal matters. Because of that, and upon some reflection following the Glen Ellyn Bookfest, I've been taking another look at publicity. Part of my endeavors this morning was to get contact addresses for other local libraries. Then I created a letter to send them offering to donate one of my books as well as to make personal appearances. Since I have some paperbacks on hand after Bookfest, and some brochures, I'm going to do a mailing to the libraries in my area. If they like the free book, they might just want some of the others. You never know, and it's worth a shot.

The other thing I did this morning was complete the query letter for "Where Power Lies," which I am now calling finito. I could probably go on editing and tweaking the manuscript for ages, but what's the use in that? I received a comment on the subject on this blog which sort of pushed me over the edge. It is time to move on.

I also did just a wee bit of research on "Mongan Manor" for an upcoming scene. I need an Irish character to say something supremely Irish that gives him away, and it must be in a specific context. I believe I found it, and now I'm eager to get into writing the scene which is still, sadly, a ways down the road.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

When Will It Ever Be Done?

Still tinkering with "Where Power Lies" and with each change, I ask myself if I should just call it done and move on. Then I'll come across something that really needs to be changed, if not an outright mistake, and I dig in again.

The urge to get back to "The Treasure of Mongan Manor" grows ever stronger. Thoughts of how to set up the mystery for Stefanie continually send up a siren song to open the document and do something. Then I think "Power" needing to be finished before I can put full attention on "Mongan Manor," and around it goes again.

While I had planned to go to Author Fest at the Joliet Public Library this Saturday, I've had to back out for personal priorities. Besides that, I'm giving my promotional strategy an overhaul. So far, only thinking about what to do and how to do it, but the idea that continues to reverberate from Glen Ellyn Bookfest is that all the other authors' displays had a more professional look as well as something to catch people's eyes. I realized that what I had out there was not set up to entice people from a distance; they had to be right up next to the table to see what was on it. In light of that, I also wound up speaking to more authors than to readers, which gives me pause. Time for a new approach.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Quest for Perfection

Reading "Where Power Lies" from the back to the front this morning, and doing this way does seem to help me find things. I've also had a few snippets of ideas occur to me at odd moments during the weekend, just details to tweak the setting a bit. I also noticed a few cases of repetition, but do I really want to go through the process of running the word frequency counter again? Some of the repetition I've noticed occurs in different forms or tenses of a word, for example, wary and wariness, intense and intensity, warning and warned.

It comes down to the constant question of when have I done enough proofing/editing. In all of my previous books, I have found more errors in the final product, from out-and-out spelling or grammar errors to those pesky repetitions. Working with a small publisher, I don't have the input of an editor who will go over every word and punctuation mark. I could hire the service of such a person on my own, but even in books which I've read that supposedly went through a professional's fine-toothed comb, I have found  mistakes. Sometimes BIG ones.

On the other hand, I have also read books, both best sellers and self published, that other readers raved about without a single mention of errors of any kind. That raises the question of the worth of the effort to reach perfection. If readers overlook the imperfections in books, then they certainly won't notice complete perfection either. Is striving for zero errors an effective use of my time or anyone else's? I think if the story is good, if people enjoy it and remember it and want to think about it, any errors they find won't matter.

I'm not making excuses here. Proofing is still necessary, and I'll keep trying to reduce errors and such as far as is feasible. But sooner or later, that manuscript has to be called "done" and head out into the world.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Word Pictures

Working on "Treasure of Mongan Manor" today, and it's such fun describing the images I have in my head about the title residence. When I left off yesterday, Stefanie was still a day away from her trip into the Wisconsin countryside, and I wasn't sure what to do next. Then I decided, what the heck? Let's get her out there to where things get going in a big way. Chapter break and then she's driving into the small town (which will be the scene of an important turning point) and on to Mongan Manor. I wanted to give it a place-out-of-time feeling, a throwback to another age, because part of the coming action will have Stefanie wondering what age she's living in.

I also started doing some proofreading on "Where Power Lies" yesterday, starting with the last chapter. Whether it's starting fresh at the end or because I've been away from it for a few days, I immediately found a few things to change. I'm also thinking a bit more about the Reese Ballard character. He's an enigmatic man that Dee compares to Jekyll and Hyde. Not that he's evil. He just gets very focused and driven about his job and turns hard-edged and intense which fascinates her. Other times, he's like any other guy, a little shy and sweet. Dee discovers the key to his many moods along the way.

Anyway, the method of reading from the end to the beginning looks like a viable tool. When I do get back to full scale reading, my plan is to contemplate each sentence (if long enough to warrant it) and sharpen the prose as much as possible. Now if I can just get "Mongan Manor" to a good breaking point where my fingers don't itch to type more on it.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Trying to Stay Focused

While "Where Power Lies" sits waiting for another proofreading, I've decided to concentrate for the rest of the week on "The Treasure of Mongan Manor," where things are heating up. I'm in the easy-flow stages of this one, where the ideas keep coming and fitting neatly into the plan. Why fight it?

The other reason I'm holding back on "Power" is to ensure I have time to really do it right. I plan to start at the last chapter and work backwards. Reason? Too often, when I read from start to finish, the last part of the book gets less attention as I get involved in experiencing the story. By starting at the end, maybe I'll not get so excited by the building tension and pay more attention to looking for errors.

As for pitching "Power" to my publisher, my top concern is genre. In talking to other people about it, I've called it a futuristic political thriller mystery. While that captures the spirit of it, I doubt it will suffice. There is a murder to be solved. It involves political maneuverings. It's a thriller because action and danger continue to move forward. And it takes place in the future, showcasing new technology, but that's not the real center of the story. Since this is rewrite elebenty-seben of this book, I'm obviously committed to telling the story in some fashion, mainly because I think it's a good one. Maybe even better now that I've added the pseudo-political element. As for the cover art, I've actually contemplated the unthinkable--hiring an artist!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Moving Forward

After a few days of hiatus from writing, I'm back on it today and moving forward on "The Treasure of Mongan Manor," volume 3 of the Windsong Lake books. I'm about to get into the real meat of the story, and I've had some good ideas about one sequence I'd been mulling over. It has the potential to be rather erotic, but I don't really write erotic stuff, as I've mentioned in blogs past. Still, what I'm envisioning might call for some physical description of that nature, because it's an important scene with pertinent information. I'm not to the point of writing it yet, so I'll give that some additional thought.

Another question I'm wrestling with is whether or not there should be a murder involved. As planned thus far, there's plenty of conflict going on, any of which might end up with someone murdered. The murder of someone who might have held all the answers could have a suspense aspect to it, but I don't know yet. As much thought as I've put into mapping out all those conflicts over a missing treasure among members of an extended family, I haven't yet figured out how it all resolves. The characters at this point are just sketches, a statement of a role each plays, so I can't really plan until they become more fleshed out. Once I start seeing who they all are, I can identify a murder victim, a killer, and the motive.

Early on in the planning stage, I began to wonder if there would be a role for Amy, Stefanie's best friend. Happily, I've found one for her. Since Stefanie is a poor reader and even worse at doing background research, Amy will provide information important to solving the puzzle at hand, i.e., the secret to the treasure.

As a side note in the Gotchas category, I was talking to an author at Bookfest last Saturday, and he told me how he had someone proofread one of his manuscripts when it was converted into a Kindle format. My publisher has often told me that sometimes these formatting programs don't "play nice" all the time, but this author's experience proved that in spades. Careful reading of that manuscript found the exact same sentence repeated EIGHT TIMES in various places throughout the book. Now there's an error that would be tough to find without reading the whole book straight through in one sitting.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Blahs

Been a bit under the weather lately and just not in the mood to work on anything much. It happens sometimes.

Bookfest 2013 is over and done. I didn't sell a single book, although I saw other authors all around me selling theirs. I'm now doing some serious reflection on presentation for future events. Many people showed up with some sort of attention-getting gimmick--a video screen with a book trailer, special props, even food. Were those responsible for drawing interest? It may be a fact of life, but it's a little disconcerting that people coming to learn about and buy books are easily swayed by something other than the books. I had a representative selection from all three of my series, but I'm thinking maybe I should focus on just one at any event and choose a suitable attention-getter based on it. I have a couple of ideas about that.

I'd also love to hear from anyone with an opinion on what attracts people at book events.