Thursday, August 31, 2017

To War - fighting back from Hurricane Harvey

Weather is a constant, and 'whether' it's you, a family member, the dearest friend, or the most distant neighbor --
ALL of us have experienced terrible storms and their aftermaths.



Texan proud - I have lived in Texas all my life and like so many fellow Texans, I feel overwhelmed by the devastation that I see left behind from Hurricane Harvey, and I am completely humbled by the outpouring of day-to-day heroes.

In a world where anger is so often the proclaimed answer; where violence seems to be the norm; and words slash with deadly accuracy ---- I say, enough.

Stop for a moment, look around you right now. There is something of beauty in front of you; something that will provide you joy; and something that YOU can do for another.

The smallest acts are often the most valuable.




My challenge:
not one whiny word for the day, not one accusation, not one UNNECESSARY frown.
Stay in the moment, look inside, and find joy.

I'll let the pictures speak. The words are LOUD & CLEAR, if you'll simply listen.






























Harvey blows ashore.







UNDERWATER.








Rides come in all shapes & sizes, but the rescuers are all Heaven-sent.







Carried to safety!













Heroes save EVERYONE!





Even our Texas dogs are 'doers'. Sometimes, you have to save yourself.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

3-2-1 Book Launch

3-2-1 Book Launch

Book releases have changed over the past ten years or so. What was once the primary responsibility of the publisher’s marketing team has morphed into the author’s responsibility. What was once covered with editors/agents emails and flyers to brick-n-mortar shops is now vibrantly alive through social media.

To keep myself on track, I’ve compiled a list of what-to-do’s for my upcoming book launch. Am I arrogant enough to think I’ve covered it all? Nope, not even close. But I work better with a list, and as I reminisce of Bloggers’ Thirteen Thursday, I decided to start with that number.

1) Complete final editing & formating review of manuscript – check and recheck.
a. Visit with establish authors for last minute insight.


2) Format through




Sigil & check all formatting through


Calibre – underway.
a. Visit with technical support staff.










3) Compile list of teasers from manuscript for social media releases – check and recheck. (More may be added at future date.)
a. Read, review, & assess current teasers used in social media.


4) Decide on title – check and recheck.


5) Class on tagline; complete tagline – check and recheck.
a. Finding valuable resources on taglines is the first step to #5.


6) Work with graphic artist on book cover, tweak, analyze, confirm pixel requirements, file specifications, generally make myself crazy and then decide on the final version – check and recheck.
a. Select a brilliant graphic artist. I was incredibly lucky as one of my nearest & dearest friends is said graphic artist.


7) Resize final book cover to several sizes for social media release. Add release date – check and recheck.
a. All on my own & invested the due diligence in Paint.


8) Begin primary release of book cover with release date – underway.


9) Write book dedication – still in process.


10) List book reviewers and design spread sheets for monitoring – underway.
a. Research a viable resource list that is consistently updated and then visit each potential reviewer’s site to find those that are the best fit. Thanks Melanie Rockett


11) Complete all necessary documents, dates, & pricing structure for release with Amazon – underway.
a. Going through the specifics for a 3rd time. Comes from having an attorney in the family.



12) Determine possible author interviews, set dates, schedule return favors as needed – underway.


13) Update all Romance Writers of America



information to reflect current release – pending.
a. Spoke with Houston office and followed their specific advice on how to update member profile.

Finally – The reality is that there’s more to cover. So, brainstorm on all the things that I’ve forgotten to do; try not to hyperventilate; make the next list; and get on with the release.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Summer Memories

Special shout-out to my writing friend,
Marsha R. West.

She put on my thinking cap for summer end.
What are you favorite/not so favorite summer time ends?

Marsha mentioned her first summer job and memories flooded back.

1st summer a bit over 16 and I went to work for Leonard’s (now Dillards) in the cosmetic department.

Three strong memories:

1) All women department – even in the men’s cologne.

2) Old-styled cash registers – counting change a requirement (loads of folks used cash for purchases. At least once a shift, I’d get some lady who dumped all her change on the glass counter-top and counted pennies/nickels/dimes until she made up the odd amount.)



OLD fashioned CC machines: remember the card swipers? No, not where you ran your card through the side of the POS machine. Nope, OLD-SCHOOL. Hand over your credit card, the sales person placed it on a ‘flatbed’ card swipe, loaded a 3-ply form on top, physically swipe flatbed arm over the card to make an imprint on the form, then fed the form fed through a slot in the old-styled cash register, price was entered, last four on card were entered, click amount, click credit, click VISA, MasterCard, AMX, click total, then if the stars lined up right it all went through. What could go wrong with this system? Everything. However, the good news? We weren’t inter-linked to the internet so as long as the store had power we could conduct those sales.



3) I came home smelling wonderful EVERY day. Always some new fragrance to try. Because the senior sales reps knew that young women wearing their fragrances were more likely to reel in men looking for a last-minute wife or girlfriend gift. I had loads of samples.



Heat – hours and hours of it.
Texas girl, remember.


Asphalt so hot that the tar bubbled in street cracks. (When we were little and constantly barefoot, my feet were tougher than the odd ‘tennie shoes’ my mom made me wear.) I wore Sunday shoes – white patent leather – that my dad had to buff out every Sunday morning because I couldn’t walk without scuffing my shoes, sandals for the beach and occasional trip to the discount store, tennis shoes (Ked’s) for the sticker fields that were the cut-through to the local 7-11. On the street, in the yard, even biking, we went barefoot. When they say shoe-leather tough, we really had the feet for it.



We really did fry an egg on the sidewalk.



Slip-N-Slides. It took until mid-October before the Slip-N-Slide rut in my parents’ front yard finally disappeared. Again, Texas girl – grass stays green a long time here.


Oh, but ours didn't come with a built-in bumper cushion. You stopped when you slid on the grass. Many a swimsuit turned permanently green.


Skateboards. Not high dollar durable fiberglass with titanium wheels. Not quite so elaborate. My dad cut out an oval from dated, stained plywood, sanded it down, drilled holes and connected a metal skate to the bottom, attached a rope through a hole in the front and off I went. From the ages of seven until . . . the ten-speed took precedence, I constantly rode the skateboard. Skinned knees, banged-up toes (no shoes, remember), tan lines from shorts and tanktops, freckles and life was wonderful.


Is it any wonder that we never wanted summer to end?
Did 100° heat keep us inside?

Absolutely not. There were sno-cones to eat; Slip-n-Slide contests; paths to explore; lemonade stands to build and man; dogs to walk and occasionally chase; hide-n-go-seek after dark, and fireflies to capture.

Be inside?


Not on a double-dog-dare.


Friday, July 28, 2017

If Women Ruled the World or something

A recent article brought this blog to mind: 'If women ruled the world. . .'

All right, all right, I'm not insinuating that women can't drive. Far from it. I tool around in a full-sized van, 6600 pounds, thank you very much and I can park the puppy in a rat hole. Do remember, I'm from Texas and things are bigger here than in other parts of the world -- rat holes included. But gals are normally handling a number of things while trying to park and I think it's only fair we should get a bigger parking spot.


There would be a little 'bill' equality . . .


Tools would be simpler.


Now, you're talking my talk.
Don't ask, 'where's the beef?'. More importantly, where's the duct tape? No woman's purse is actually complete without duct tape. Want to know how to hold a fence in place? Duct Tape. Keep air from leaking out of a tire? Duct Tape. Prevent anything from flapping in the wind? Duct Tape. Okay, I rest my case.


And for traditional tools . . . I say, 'Who needs 'em' I have hung many a picture with a shoe, and no, I don't measure before I put it on the wall. Hang and bang--that's my philosophy. And I can screw anything in place with a butter knife or better yet a metal nail file.
Make sure to get a heel with serious heft to it, however. If you're going to bang away, you want it to be effective.





Oh, and not the good butter knife, for crying out loud. That's like your kids buffing the dog clean with your good kitchen towels. Keep an old - we don't have the rest of the silverware set anymore - butter knife in your special tool drawer. Don't have one. Hit any Saturday morning garage sale. A .25C max.

















Hiking boots would actually LOOK good.




Toilet seats would stay in their proper position.



And guys would have the right toolbox.
Guys, if you're going to help 'make em', then roll up your sleeves and wade in.




Why? Questions with no answers

Why, Why, Why?

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are dying?

Why do banks charge a fee on "insufficient funds" when they know there is not enough money?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?




Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Whose idea was it to put an "S" in the word "lisp"?

If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?


Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?


Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator as though it has been magically refilled? Magic is the mom, folks.

Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?

Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end on your first try?

How do those dead bugs get into enclosed light fixtures?

When we are in the supermarket and someone rams our ankle with a shopping cart then apologizes for doing so, why do we say, "It's all right?" Well, it isn't all right, so why don't we say, "That really hurt, why don't you watch where you're going?"


Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?

In winter, why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?

The statistics on sanity is that one out of every four persons is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends -- if they're okay, then it's you.


Friday Funnies - I don't have the answers to these questions. Not sure the answers exist. However, if they made you smile or even laugh, then the questions have served their Friday purpose.

Do drop by my porch again.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Readers For Life

#readersforlife, RWA supports literacy. As of 2016, $1M raised for fund. Outstanding. 2017: Orlando, When: Saturday, July 29, 3:00–5:00 ET pic.twitter.com/kAkcc4C4tf

— K.M.Saint James (@LoneStarMeander) July 25, 2017">Readers for Life

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Don't Slow That Pace


Slowing the pace or resolving a major character conflict at the end of the chapter or scene gives your reader an opportunity to:

1) put down your fabulous writing
2) turn off the light
3) and dream about some other author's characters



Not quite a Kiss Goodbye - but too close for any aspiring author who has designs on a Best Seller list.
Make your readers hang around and hang on, forcing them to read through what would be a natural place to break.

How?

Use strong hooks.

As writers, we WANT to finish the thought, to build to the end - always pushing the conflict up the next notch. BUT - and it's a huge BUT, resolution is the last thing that needs to happen at the end of a chapter. Break the action right in the middle, leave the reader asking the question, ‘What happens next?’ or even ‘OMG, I’ve got to find out more.’; and you’ll provide all the incentive readers need to keep . . . well, to keep reading.

Character answers are a must.
Readers won't tolerate being left hanging or in the dark - indefinitely.


But like good whiskey - a shot at a time is the best way to enjoy.

Instead of wrapping a chapter - Weave the answer through the beginning of the next chapter or scene. Leave the thread dangling until the reader absolutely needs to know. There is power in the payoff with this technique.

Certain notable authors published their works as serials: Louisa May Alcott in A Long Fatal Love Chase, early Louis L'Amour works, and YA author, Gary Paulsen, started his work in 'shorts'.

THE POINT?

They believed and used . . . the HOOK.


If you're unfamiliar with STRONG HOOKS, then familiarize yourself with the above listed authors. Sometimes oldies really are golden.

Still not convinced?

Are you watching this season's AGT?
Before every commercial break . . . here's what's coming -- stay tuned, don't leave the room, keep watching.
How about the news? Pick any station broadcast. They honestly spend more time telling you what they're going to tell you, than the actual 'telling' of the news story. Why? . . . here's what's coming -- stay tuned, don't leave the room, keep watching.

What do these major entities know that is important to writers?
Stay tuned, don't leave the room, keep . . . reading.


If you wrap the scene up, put a bow on it, give the package away . . . guess what? Your readers aren't forced to 'stay tuned and keep reading'.


From my WIP - The Grave Digger - protagonist, Emma McBride has come to town to visit her godfather, Gus, who owns The Red Belly Bar. Gus is Emma's closest living relative, and the man who has protected her for years. To catch up on the latest news, Emma is pumping Margot, long-time friend, and the godfather's secret crush.


“Burke? Who is Burke?” Emma searched her memory, drawing a blank, but not liking the fact that some man, some stranger had convinced her godfather what was best. “Is that one of the infamous card buddies?”

“No.” Margot seemed to draw out the answer. “I thought Gus had spoken to you of this matter.”

“What matter?” Tension knotted in Emma’s stomach. She might only happen through town twice a year, but she checked in on a weekly basis. “What is it I don’t know?”

“Gabriel Burke, he runs the business. Each day, for the last six months. Shortly after your last visit, he came.” Margot's snow white brows knitted in concentration. “No one expected him to stay. Then one day, he is a partner with your godfather at the Red Belly bar.”

With a nudge against the china, Emma pushed away the remains of her snack and focused all her attention on her companion. “Exactly how sick is Gus? And tell me the straight of it. ”

Confusion then a bit of anger sparked the older woman’s gaze. “I do not keep the secrets from you, child. But it would seem your godfather has kept too many.”

* * *

If storms came in the form of gauzy lace shirts then the gypsy-like creature, who’d just whirled through the Red Belly bar’s front door, appeared to be a heavy-duty downpour. Faded jeans hugged all the right curves and stopped above a pair of slim ankles. Some nonsense of strappy leather sandals crisscrossed her feet. Pure California or some reincarnated flower child was Burke’s first thought. Until she pulled free the wide-brimmed hat and shook her head. A waterfall of blonde strands unfurled like golden silk down to her slim waist. Then the woman turned and Gabriel Burke stopped thinking at all.

This scene is in Chapter One, the closing of Emma's POV and her scene, and then the opening into Gabriel's POV and his scene. *** marks the spot. The conversation is designed to leave the reader asking questions. It's already established how much Emma loves her godfather, how she visits this specific town to spend time with her godfather, even how Emma expects - as we often do - that her godfather will live forever. Now, she's learned he's ill. That someone - some stranger - has influenced her godfather's decisions. Someone who's only been in town a short time, and now has partnership in her godfather's bar. You bet she has questions, and so does the reader.

Share a hook from your WIP, or one from your favorite books.

As always, you’re welcome to drop by my back porch. It’s heating up here in the deep south. BBQ is on the grille (Veggies, too) and beer in the cooler. Drop on by anytime.

Until next time
~Sandra

Texas sayings

~Watch your step! Cacti, tumbleweeds, and an occasional armadillo might be ahead.

~Welcome to the land of tar-bubbling summers, gas-guzzling pickup trucks, standard Stetson headgear, and mile-high hair.

~Welcome to the Lone Star State, and Romance With A Texas Twist!

Quote of the Day