For the Criminally Inane

For the Criminally Inane

Thursday, June 14, 2018

My Advice to Aspiring Writers

Why Write?

Writing brings your dreams to life. Or your nightmares. Depending on what you are writing. When I first started dedicating time to writing ten years ago, I read scores of books, mostly from the library, about writing. So here's the short list of my advice for aspiring writers:

1. Write everyday

You may say, every day? And I'll say, every day. If you start making excuses, it's easy to get out of the habit. Now, I didn't say you have to lay down a bazillion words that day. But you should write and keep in the habit of writing every day. On Sundays, I write letters to loved ones instead of working on my story.

2. Learn the craft

I think too many people assume you either have writing talent or you don't. Writing can be learned. Check out books from the library. Read articles and blogposts on line. Do everything you can to improve your skills. I enter contests for feedback. 

3. Don't try to publish too soon

When you've worked so hard to write a book and you've finished, the first thing you should do is celebrate. Writing a novel/book is hard work. Finishing one is a miracle! Then you should let it sit, at least two weeks, before going back over it again. Have patience with your work. Make sure it is in the best possible shape before sending it out to the world.

4. Don't wait too long to publish

This may sound anti-thetical to #3, but don't wait for perfection either, because it ain't gonna happen. I think you'll know when you are ready. Don't give up, but don't keep putting off something until "it's perfect." Be patient, don't be a perfectionist.

5. Don't be jealous of others' success

The green-eyed monster of jealous is an awful creature. He steals your happiness and your energy. Don't let him do it. Be happy for others. Celebrate their success. You cannot become what you secret despise. Bitterness doesn't make friends.

6. Be patient with your success

Writing and publishing take a long time. It's not an overnight success for most people. Work to build your audience, your fans. Be gracious and generous every step of the way. When you do reach success, mentor others. There is room enough for us all.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Why I write comedy

Why I love to write funny books

One dark January day after I had my third child, I was in the throes of Post-Partem Depression. Mix baby blues with the grays of January and you get a terrible color. Thankfully, we had a family tradition of going to the library on Saturdays. While there, I was browsing the Young Adult fiction and I came across a book, a third in a series. I had read the first book previously and wasn't impressed enough to pick up the second. However, I opened the third book and started reading and it was pure yumminess. It had a light-hearted love story, fun action-adventure and comedy. It was like eating after a fast or melting shaved ice on your tongue during a hot day. It was delicious to me. It hit the sweet spot in my brain. I was so rude to the people who came to dinner that night. I literally opened the door with the book in hand, waved them in and went back to reading.

It was healing

To me, laughter is healing. Fiction connects us with people, with humanity. Even more than film, fiction in book form gives us compassion. It helps us to see the world from a different point of view, experience a different life. Walk in the proverbial shoes of someone else. I lived another life between those pages.

And I wanted to do that for other people.

Books change us

Do you have a book you reread often because it is just so well-written that even though you've read it a thousand times it still makes you feel something? I have a list of my favorites. Princess Bride is one of them. I love it because it is again, the comedy, action-adventure and it has a love story. 

What is your favorite funny lines from Baker's Dozen or from any other book?

What's a book you love that you read and reread?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Ten things you can do to help a writer friend

Ever wondered how authors get the word out about their books? The answer may shock you: it's you! Doing a few simple things for your author friend can help promote their book with little effort or time on your part. And since you are such a good friend, you'll want to help *wink*. Even if you haven't bought book, there is something you can do! I've made a list of small and simple things you can do today help authors in big ways.

Little time, no money

*Go to Amazon and mark all of their reviews as helpful. This helps those who have reviewed to earn more "cred."

*Do the same thing on Goodreads. If you don't have a Goodreads account, you should get one ;) Click here. Goodreads is a great place for readers to hang out and discuss and review books.

*Add your friend's book on your Goodread's shelf or in a list, group. This helps get the word out about the book. Plus me posting it to Goodreads is self-promotion. If you do it, it's helping someone find a book they'll love.

*Write an Amazon review. If you've bought the book, even if you didn't buy it from Amazon, you can write a review (up to once a week on non-Amazon purchased items). Reviews should be honest and as short/long as you like. Even a simple "I liked it" will count. In the algorithm, the number of reviews count more than what's written. 

*Sharing is caring. Like/share/comment on writer's posts on Twitter, IG, Facebook. This gives the writer more visibility because all of your friends can see your comments.  

*Request your friend's book at your local library. Not only is it a purchase of your friend's book, (thank you!) but it also increases awareness of the author. Most people are willing to check out a book because of the low-risk involved before they buy a book. I was able to fill out a form on line for my local library. *Warning* It may require a phone call.

*Recommend friend's book. Nothing is more persuasive than a recommendation from a friend. Word of mouth goes a long way!

*Join their newsletter. Then, if you feel generous, forward their newsletter to other readers. It's an easy, non-intrusive way to help spread the word. (Find my sign-up on my website here.)

*Comment on their blog.

*Take pictures of yourself reading the book to share on social media. Social media is one of the best methods of getting the word out. Selfies reading the book on Kindle or paperback would be awesome. Tag the author. A few helpful hashtags #amreading #reader #booklover #books etc.

I have to say a HUGE thank you so much to those friends who are already doing this! You are amazing and the best! I am forming a team of people who can  help me spread the word and possibly earn rewards like Amazon gift cards or swag. If you'd like to be a part of this team, let me know and I can add you to my private Inner Circle, called the Z-Pack. I have a private Facebook group for special opportunities like helping me chose titles, character's names etc and have Facebook LIVE events.

Comment below with anything that has helped you or a suggestion I missed.

Monday, May 21, 2018

How to handle rejection, bad reviews and bad news

Not everyone is going to love my books

There are some really good highs as a writer. One of the best moments is when I received my first full request from an agent. I literally screamed when I saw it. Scream so much, my voice hurt. It was a sign that I was finally getting closer to my goal. The second best was receiving my contract for my first book. I was so pleased, I called my family and friends and let them know. Then when the reviews started coming in. Even people I didn't know loved my book. It's so gratifying to find other people loving the characters I've fallen in love with, too.

But there are some lows.

Not everyone is going to love what I write. I recently received a rejection from an agent who I queried with the book that was accepted for publication last year. I laughed of course but rejections are a lot easier to take when you already have a publication. I also received a less than stellar review this week. Hey, all reviews have merit, but man, it hurts. 

How to stay positive

For me, it's all about perspective. Persistence. Letting go. Keep going. I may rant for a few minutes, but I don't let it hurt me or bring me down.

Celebrate every victory

The person who wrote the bad review wasn't my friend or anyone I knew. That means my book is getting out there beyond my friends. That's a victory! I now have another review! Yay! Every victory is worth celebrating and those victories will help us see that what we are doing is important. 

What are some ways you stay positive?

Friday, May 18, 2018

Meet the best friend

The best friend excerpt from clean romantic suspense novel Baker's Dozen on sale for $2.99 until May 25. Buy here.

Carla Vehemia is the daughter of a wealthly manufacturing tycoon in St. Louis. She likes lower-class men and supports Andy in her vigilant-ing. 

Sweat dripped down Andy’s brow as she tucked into a corner of the dojo to undress from her Master’s gi at the end of class.
“Thanks for a great session,” Carla said over the din of kids preparing to line up on the mats. “Going for dinner?”
“I have something to tell you,” Andy said when she had finished tucking her pants into her bag.
“You finally applied for the CIA?” Carla’s deep brown eyes lit up. Her dark skin contrasted with her white uniform. Only Carla could still be feminine in a gi built for a block.
“How far did you get last time?” Carla asked, admiring her luminous black hair in the wall of mirrors behind a row of chairs surrounding the perimeter of the dojo.
“I decided on careers I was qualified for and placed them in the Job Cart. But that’s not what I was going to tell you.”
“Next time, hit the Apply button.” She smoothed her soft curls with the palm of her hand, her perfectly placed lipstick unsmudged by her physical exertion. “Hey, when do I get my BMW back? Was it in the sting op for that car repair shop? I read your blog this morning. Amazing.”
“Thanks,” Andy said. “Yeah. Sadly, it’s no longer in perfection condition. Jack jimmied with the powertrain; the drive shaft is broken. It’ll probably get confiscated as evidence, now.” Andy wrinkled her nose. “It was my fault. I got a ride instead of insisting we go to the shop. Sorry.”
Carla shrugged. “Daddy will buy me another. Scott wrecked the McLaren 650S he got for graduation, and he didn’t even get into trouble. But of course, he is the golden child so he gets away with everything,” Carla said, still focusing on herself in the mirror. “Now, what did you want to tell me?”
Andy leaned closer as Carla faced her. “Somebody detected my disguise,” she whispered.
Carla’s glossy lips parted in surprise. “Nobody recognizes you, ever. You even fooled Sandra.”
Andy smiled remembering her first test run. Dressed as a FedEx man, she delivered a package to Sandra at work. Disguised in a short red-headed wig and prosthetics, Andy had a fifteen-minute conversation with her about begonias. Sandra never suspected. Andy was that skilled.
“Who was it?” Carla asked, her perfectly shaped brows gathered in a furrow.
“Some guy,” she said, tugging her yoga pants over her spandex.
Carla leaned close. “Was he cute?”
Andy didn’t reply. She wrapped up her belt and stuck it in the bag, slipping on her shoes.
Carla continued through Andy’s silence, giving her a sly smile. “What scares you more? A guy noticing you or him seeing through your disguise?”

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Meet the Heroine

More excerpts from my clean romantic suspense novel Baker's Dozen

Meet Andy Miller, an investigative journalist in my clean romantic suspense novel, on sale for $2.99 until May 25, 2018. Buy link here.

Men lie. They lie about how many women they’ve been with, their alcohol tolerance, and the size of their, uh, paycheck. Which was exactly what Jack, sitting across from Andy Miller, was lying about.
He tapped his coffee mug with the tip of his finger, stretching his lean body against the booth at Ronney Dell’s. “Ninety grand this year alone,” he claimed.
Closer to fifty grand, according to his secretary. Though maybe he was taking into account all the vehicles he had sabotaged before fixing which weren’t on the books.
But Andy didn’t contradict him. Instead, she demurely batted her lashes and smiled into her shoulder. “Ninety grand,” she cooed, snapping her gum. “I don’t believe it!” she said.
And that was the truth.
Andy brushed back the bleached wig of her “Mary Lou” persona covering her natural brown hair. Brown as the Mississippi mud, her dad always said. She fingered a necklace just above the plunging neckline of a tank top and Daisy Dukes combo. Oh, the depths she sank to for a story. But to avenge poor, old Mrs. Wheyland, it was worth it.
“It’s been all this overtime, you know.” He gave her a crusty smile. It had been too long since he’d seen the inside of the toothpaste cap.
“Are you going in to work tonight?”
She wanted one more peek at Jack’s books. Something was amiss, something more than the sabotage. After doing some research on how much small repair shops made, she wanted to recalculate the figures.
“I’m just about to finish up your BMW. Want to come?”
She nodded. “Watching you work gives me such a thrill.”
Andy smiled in anticipation of sharing all seventeen of Jack’s dishonest dealings with her ten thousand Twitter followers @BakersDozen. And if there was a bigger story in the books, it would be the cream on top of all the corruption and scandal. Lies à la mode.
“Let’s go.” He tossed his head.
He gulped one last swig of coffee. Andy slid from the booth, arms jangling with bracelets, her stiletto boots nearly entangling in the table legs. At the register, Jack patted his back pockets, then his shirt pockets, and swore.
“Forgot my wallet in my other pants. Mary Lou, will you?”
Andy flashed a tight smile as she did some mental math. She had paid for dinner five of the six times they’d been out. If this had been a real date with a real boyfriend, Andy would have left him to wash dishes for their meal. At least Jack was a tax deduction. She slid her wallet from her red weekender tote. “Sure, hon.”
“Last time, I promise,” he whispered in her ear. This was the only truth he’d uttered their entire relationship. He didn’t even know how true it was.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Meet the Hero

Here are excerpts from my clean Romanic Suspense novel Baker's Dozen on sale $2.99 until May 25th. Buy here.

Hugh Donaldson is an undercover agent. But for who, that is the question.

The tattooed man slapped his hand on the counter and leaned toward her, pointing to a sticker on the bag of chips. “The price tag says two forty-nine, not three forty-nine. Are you stupid or something?” he said. 
The young clerk’s face flushed red as she realized her mistake. “I’m sorry. I’m not sure how the mix-up happened. Let me void the transaction.” 
She fumbled through the keys at the computer. The man sighed and set his foot down heavily. 
“I’m sorry,” the cashier said again. She squinted at the screen, fully absorbed, her fingers unsure, as she typed on the keyboard. 
While the clerk was distracted, the man lifted a pack of gum from below the counter and slid it into his pocket. “This is taking too long. Just forget it,” he said. “I don’t need the chips.” 
“I got it,” she said at last, tossing a strand of hair behind her ear and ringing up the chips again. “It worked.” 
“About time,” the man said, plopping down some cash. 
The clerk handed him his change. 
“Idiot,” he said, not quite under his breath, as he left. 
When Hugh stepped up to the counter, he laid down his two hot dogs. “Want him to pay for that?” he asked. 
She glanced up from ringing up the hot dogs, her face still red. “For what?” 
“He just stole a pack of gum. You want him to come back and pay for it?” 
The clerk smiled and nodded her head. “Yeah!” 

“I’ll be right back.” 
“Who are you the police or something?” 
But Hugh was already out the door. He approached the man as he opened his car. “Hey, you going to pay for the pack of gum?” 
The man opened the door and arched an eyebrow at Hugh. “Excuse me?” 
“You lifted a pack of gum inside. And I think you owe the clerk an apology. You were rather rude.” 
“Not going to happen.” The man ducked into his red Camaro. Hugh caught his door before he could close it. The man yanked at the door. 
Hugh held firm. “You will go in, pay for the gum, and apologize to the store clerk.” 
The man jumped to his feet and puffed out his chest as he faced Hugh. “You gonna make me?” He whipped out a gun from his waistband. He pointed it four inches from Hugh’s nose. 
Hugh smiled slightly, amused. “A gun? You think you’re going to shoot me? I only asked you to do the right thing.” In a flash, Hugh knocked the gun from the man’s hand and joint locked his arm, forcing him down, immobilizing him. Still controlling the man’s arm, Hugh trapped his face against the black tar of the parking lot with his foot. “Are you going to apologize?” 
Before he could answer, sirens blared and blue and red lights of two police cars splashed over Hugh and his captive. The store clerk approached him. “I didn’t know what to do so I called the police,” she said. 
“Brilliant,” Hugh said under his breath, lifting the thug from off the ground. 
“What’s going on here?” the first cop asked, approaching with caution unsure who was the good guy and who was the bad guy. Hugh released the thug to two officers but a third grabbed Hugh. The clerk hurried over, talking fast. 
“The other guy pulled a gun on this guy,” she said, pointing first to the man and then to Hugh. 
“Yeah?” the officer said. He opened a pad of paper and wrote down what the clerk said. “Why’d he threaten you with a gun?” he asked Hugh. 
Hugh sort of shrugged, still held by the officer. 
“He was a real hero,” the clerk continued with shining eyes. “First, he spotted the man shoplifting a pack of gum, but then when he confronted him, the other guy pulled out a gun. This guy disarmed him completely.” 
The officer turned to Hugh, eyebrows raised. “He lifted a pack of gum, and you were going to stop him?” 
Hugh gave him a short nod. 
One of the other cops interrupted the questioning after they cuffed the man and escorted him to the back of the police car. “Looks like we picked up a winner. Driving a stolen vehicle, has four warrants for his arrest here in Missouri. Two in Illinois.” 
The interrogating officer returned to Hugh. “I guess we owe you some gratitude for stopping him. But you shouldn’t have confronted him. You never know if you’re going to come across a hardened criminal like this guy. Still, I am glad no one was hurt. Next time leave it to the trained professionals.” 
“I’ll remember your good advice, sir.” Hugh glanced over to a man in a suit watching outside his car. He had a huge grin on his face. 
The clerk slipped Hugh his hot dogs. “They’re on the house,” she whispered to him. Hugh remembered his hunger and grabbed the now cold dogs. 
“Thank you,” he said to the girl with admiration shining in her eyes. He bowed to the officer. “Am I free to go, sir?” he asked. 
The cop arched an eyebrow at Hugh. “I want your number in case we need to ask you further questions.” 
Hugh nodded and gave him a number, then joined the man in the suit who had his elbows resting on the roof of his Mercedes and an open car door. Antonio laughed at Hugh as the cop cars departed, lights flashing, sirens whupping

“You sow chaos wherever you go,” Antonio said, with a slight Italian accent, shaking his head, his lips drawn up in a smile.