Monday, October 29, 2007

Creating Plots

I'm in a creative mode. With fall weather turning the leaves gold and scarlet outside,the air fresh and crisp, I'm filled with story ideas. Not all of them will pan out, but I keep a list of ideas, and write the basics as they come to me. Right now, I'm planning a new project.

I really don't like to reveal new projects, because I like to hold them inside until I'm ready to develop them. A visit at a local bookstore, chatting with the bookseller gave me the info I needed: The topic I want to write about hasn't been overdone. Overdone is a big problem, though every writer has their own style and twist on the same stories, some of which seem to be universal.

Along with tremendous creativity, I'm doing a lot in my own life, and have hopes that there is a story in there someplace, from a unique point of view. I experience the elements within my stories, such as driving the West, going to festivals, talking to craftspeople, interviews, etc. And a lot comes from my own life, because looking back, I've done a lot, like most people.

Weaving those elements into stories sometimes is easy, and sometimes not. Today, I'm outlining a series, or starting to outline it, choosing the characters that best lend themselves to the work/story.

Fall and Spring seem to be my high-creative months, more energized, all the way around. But I still take time to get out from my desk, a necessity to keep fresh, and I'm driving the country, enjoying the scenery and spinning those story ideas. :)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Moms and Grandmas Have Changed

Last night, while chatting with a friend, I thought how much times have changed. Moms and Grandmas used to talk about the latest quilt design or recipes, and now we (that's right, I am both of them)are keeping up with the Internet, software, graphics, enewsletters, etc. My friend and I talk recipes, family, etc., but when we get going on software and newsletters and electronic gadgets like PDAs, AlphaSmarts, software for DVDs and various downloads, we really get busy. Last night, she was coaching me on how to get my 3000 AlphaSmart, which I use quite a bit when parked in waiting rooms, to use the Get program. This Get It program copies what is on the PC and transfers it to the AlphaSmart. (AlphaSmart 3000 is an older model as there are Neos and Danas, but I like the ease of packing this thing in a tote bag.) As it turns out, after much back and forth, there is no way my "Y" cable is going to work for a download/clip and paste.

Oh, well. We both have XPs, dreading the changeover to Vista, and wondering how much software we'll have to buy to keep up. She's run several print and online newsletters and we both do graphics and I was telling her about a new freebie, Print.Net for graphics, which is actually pretty neat, tho we both have several graphic programs. She's clinging to WordPerfect, but I have to move on and we both just wish they would have left it in the Dos or WP7 version, very plain.

So we chat a bit about recipes/gardening, etc., but we always come back to techno stuff and how-tos. She has a Windows CE, while I just have a plain PDA. It seems neither one of us can manage schedules, addresses and phone numbers without our gizmos. She likes to write on her AlphaSmart while her husband drives.

Last night I brought my laptop up to speed; it hasn't been used for a while and needed updating for a new graphics program. That took a few hours and then the AlphaSmart fiasco.

Then I think about my mother's life and my grandmother's, and how they talked with their friends about cooking, canning, sewing, and quilt making. (My mother crocheted.)

Times have really changed. We are close to family and friends and peers on the Internet, rather than gathering around a quilting rack. And I wonder about the coffees and visiting in each other's houses, too. Part of Desperate Housewives appeal may be that they are in each other's lives so much, while actually today's woman may not visit, or know her neighbor. Today's online communities and chats, etc., allow for networking and are sometimes a substitution for real live communication over a morning cup of coffee.

Families around the nightly dinner table is a scenario that doesn't occur very often in our busy lives, but I do wish more families would take time to do that. With text messaging, etc., it's not unusual to see family members not communicating...with each other.

My friend and I live miles apart, rarely see each other, but do keep in touch. Especially when one of us needs an electronic fix, like the "Y" cable fiasco last night.

Nope, we're not gathered around the quilting rack any more. And there's no going back.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Software for Writers and Promotion

Between books, while doing galleys and proposals and laying out other general ideas, I've been updating my website, blog, and attempting to try different mailing lists. I thought someone might be interested in the software and my research to date. WebEngine by VirtualMechanics is terrific with lots of options I haven't had time to try. Did I tell you that I'm a software junkie? :) My old software was really outdated and this one is so convenient.
I could be a lot better, but how much time does a writer have anyway? If you want to try their freebie, that would be WebDwarf, downloadable almost everywhere. It is good for practice, but you may want more professional. They also have the award winning SiteSpinner. The support has been good.

Then for my updated blog, this one, I'm using freeskins. I made this much more difficult than need be. All you really have to do is to do the header image and then adjust the rest from the control panel. When things are too simple, I try to muck them up at bit :) This one is a 3-column and I like that better because I'm into widgets. I also love the tabs, which you can make run all across the page. I wanted a clean banner and redo the header as needed. The background is from Se7en at Freeskins has some gorgeous designs.

About widgets. Go to and fill up! Jennie Cruise and Bob Mayer have a cute little one that scrolls through their He said/She said program, which is super, if you've never experienced it. I also have a widget that anyone can take and put on their website, listing my posts. It also has my photo with it. It's basically a RSS feed and any visitor can take yours and post it on their website or blog.

Since this is Blogger. Blogger for Dummies is the place where I got this read more code. I think this will be great for my long-winded posts, but also excerpts for my upcoming books.

Speaking of RSS feeds, I use Bloglines rather than fill up my mailbox, etc. Bloglines is an "aggregator" which means it has a web crawler that goes out and fetches whatever you've subscribed to into your Bloglines pocket; read at will, save the clips you want and the rest disappear. Very handy. They also offer free blogs. I have two of these, one career/writing, the other personal.

Then, if you want to do your own trailers, try KoolMoves Here's my first try. I learned a lot.

It would be good for basic animations/banners, but for that, I use Jasic's Paint Shop.

Adobe's Elements is super, and so are others.

But most of all, I'm intrigued with PageFour. It's a basic outliner and the free version gives 3 notebooks. We novelists would call them, "books." It takes "snapshots" phrases or scenes that we want to bring up for reference. Very nice product, or I think so. It uses .rtf, and I think that language should be used by all text software. You can go a long way on those 3 free notebooks and there is no cut-off on the trial.

I love trials. I am currently working on my mailing list trial. Seems ok. You can subscribe to my mailing list using the buttons here or at my website. I want to get into html letters, if the subscriber wants them.

Will let you know later how that turns out. Stay tuned....

Monday, October 08, 2007

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I have a good friend struggling with this terrible disease and hope you'll visit the National Breast Campaign for information.

This is great!

Se7en at Freeskins does wonderful graphic blogs. I wanted the 3-column one to do more with the side columns, i.e. my photos, widgets, etc. Also the header allows for more room for my book covers, which are coming up! I also have a new look for my website, a matching one. So hopefully life can begin again, I mean the writing life. :) But please check back. I have a few more "wiggles" to go. Right now, I'm going over the print layout (pageproofs) before A STRANGER'S TOUCH, Tempest's, story goes to print. Really happy about the cover. Life is good!

Thank you, Se7en!

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Changing the look of my website was 100% easy. Changing the look of this blog is not.

Please excuse my fumbling, but I'll get there sooner or later! Meanwhile, please do visit my website at

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Book Titles

We're working on suitable titles for Leona's story. Logically, the feel should come between AT THE EDGE, the first book of the psychic triplet trilogy, and A STRANGER'S TOUCH, the second. Rather, the "feel" should come between those two titles. Not that easy.

I've titled 95% of my books, and sometimes you hit an easy one. Flys right from your email to the editor and sales/publisher passes it. This one isn't going that way. The story is complex, concerning family relationships, psychics and a romance.

Wrapping a book is everything. Cover and title and elements, all wrapped up in an eye-catching package. This titling process is intense with emails flying back and forth between me and my publisher. It will continue until the feel for Leona's story is right. Tons of lists, open synonym/thesaurus/searching everywhere for a title that hasn't gotten a big name stake driven into it. Or hasn't had a thousand other books with the same title.

Very delicate and grueling process to get the best fit. This one isn't that easy.