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I've Been Tagged

The Eleven Questions " getting to know you" Tag

I've Been Tagged by Claire L. Fishback over at Write Fish.    It is the 11 question campaign game.

1. You must post the rules.
2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create ten new questions to ask the people that you have tagged.
3. Tag eleven people and link to them on your post.
4. Let them know you've tagged them! (so dem's da rules)

Here goes:

1. If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?   That's a tough one. Does it mean a new place or somewhere I have visited before?  I want to got back to the Greek Isles, especially Santorini.

  But, a place I have never been & I am dying to go is Fiji.

2. Why do you write in the genre you write in? I love the rush and adrenalin that I get from a good mystery. Suspense is like a drug for me. Thrillers keep me on the edge of my seat, full of fear and anxiety, but begging for more.

3. How did you come up with the idea for your current work in progress (or most recent work in progress)?   A combination of cases I have witnessed in my life and a some of the criminals I met many years ago actually sparked the idea, but the story is not related even remotely to any case I have ever read about or known. I asked a bunch of those "what if" questions.

4. What came first, the chicken or the egg and why?   Uh, upon advice of counsel I refuse to answer that question on the grounds it may incriminate me.    

5.  How often do you write?  Everyday (now you didn't ask how much)

6.  What is scariest: Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, or other?   I have to say other. I am more afraid of true & real evil, like serial killers & Cult leaders who kill or can persuade people to drink the koolaid. They are Real and it is not always easy to spot a monster who walks beside us or lives near us or works close to our children.  They don't have pointed horns or breathe fire. They look just like us.

7.Pizza toppings: name three of your favorites.   Roasted garlic, tomato & banana peppers.

8. You're given a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble, do you a novel by your favorite author, or a how to guide on writing (such as Dwight Swain's Techniques of the Selling Author)?
It depends on which book I last bought, but nine times out of ten - the new novel by my favorite author.

9. Yes or No?

10. If you could have any exotic or fantastical pet, what would you have?
Honey Bear - (don't know how exotic that is).

11. Why do you write?

Because I can't sing. Just kidding (not about singing though) I write as a way to relax and because I enjoy losing myself in the worlds I create much like I like losing myself when reading a good book. Writing also allows me to express all of the emotions I tend to bury. I get to show my frustration, fear, anxiety, sadness, happiness etc. through the thoughts, action & dialogue of my characters .

OK, now my questions.

  1. Name one thing you consider your biggest regret in your life so far?
  2. If you could go back in time and do things differently, what is something you would change
  3. If you could travel to another time period, but you must agree to remain there for a full six months would you go? If yes what time period & where would you time-travel to the future or past
  4. Would you rather be on the best seller list once (only once) or win the single ticket mega multi- state lotto?
  5. When you write in the privacy of your own home, what do you wear?
  6. What was the happiest day or time of your life?
  7. Would you rather have loved deeply and been hurt deeply or have never felt true love before or the hurt that can go with it
  8. If you current novel is made into a Major Motion Film; who would play your protagonist?
  9. If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you
  10. Name one thing about you that you seldom share with others~or something that we in the blogosphere do not know about you.
  11. You are a character and are being interviewed: What is your greatest strength? Worst flaw?

So, now I am it. I get to tag you... and you... and you... and...............

Theresa Sneed 
Harlow Corban     Whose Debut Thriller is now available, Life in Death
Diana at My Life in Writing 
J.C. Martin
Kaylie Austin  
Another Author
Jennifer Chase
Barbara McDowall 
Louise Wise  who has a new book review blog, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Reviews of Louise Wise
Michael Haynes 
Nick Wilford at Scattergun Scribblings 

Happy Mardi Gras

Happy Mardi Gras- Laissez les bons temps rouler!!  * Warning: photos of women's breast.

Throw me something Mister
This past weekend we celebrated Mardi Gras in North Louisiana with the Krewe of Gemini Parade. The weekend before was the Krewe of Centaur. This is the parade that our own Krewe of Justinian participates in. Mardi Gras is music, parades, floats, picnics, excitement and..... lots of booze. It is one big holiday in Louisiana and in triplicate for New Orleans. Everyone wears purple, green & gold adorned with long beads caught from the beautiful floats. The grounds are jam packed with spectators throwing balls , cooking out, playing music, dancing & watching the crowds walk between parades.

During Mardi Gras, all of the businesses and roads are practically shut down~~people are walking everywhere, hanging out with friends and meeting new ones. Everyone is dressed in crazy costumes, kids are everywhere and they love it. It is a state holiday and schools are closed the last week of Mardi Gras. Interested in how it all began? Interested in the history & tradition of Mardi Gras.  Click on the links below the photos for more information on Mardi Gras.

Fact or myth? Mardi Gras is only for adults & drunks and is no place for children?  Drunken Lunkheads?

The throwing of trinkets to the crowds was started in the early 1870s by the Twelfth Night Revelers, and is a time-honored expectation for young and old alike.
In 1884 (over 100 years ago!), Rex started using medallions instead of trinkets. These medallions are represented by today's doubloons. These doubloons are aluminum and anodized in many different colors. They depict the parade theme on one side and the Krewe's emblem on the other. They have become collector's items. “

Mardi Gras Floats, Balls, Royalty, and King Cakes:
The baby is located somewhere inside the cake.  Does anyone know what it means if you find the baby inside your slice of King Cake?

Mardi Gras is one big party. While most people think of parades when they think of Mardi Gras, there are many other Mardi Gras traditions. Krewe members work hard all year on the floats, parades, balls & other traditions. After the parades end we strip the floats and begin building for the next year. The wood on the float is good for two years so we change the theme of our individual floats every two years. Throughout the year we have float building parties. A few weeks before the parades begin each Krewe host their own coronation ball where the royalty is adorned, debutantes are announced and the identity of the closely guarded secret of the identity of the new King & Queen is revealed. It is part of the mystique -keeping their identity a secret until the night of the ball.
The mystery and tradition of the balls is too lengthy to discuss here. I will devote a separate post to the mystery and intrigue of the famous Mardi Gras Ball & royalty. Most aristocratic Balls are by invitation only and then only a a select group make the cut. People no longer feel left out if they are not invited to the prestigious aristocratic Balls. Lots of folks don't make the final list-including some governors who have made it known that they want to attend.

While Mardi Gras is traditionally known for the parties and drinking we try to remember the true meaning of Mardi Gras. New Orleans is a predominantly Catholic/Christian city~~& this is how Ash Wednesday is celebrated. I am Jewish, but I honor and respect the Catholic traditions and I participate in every aspect of Mardi Gras. The last day before Ash Wednesday (FAT TUESDAY) is when the Catholics receive ashes and begin 40 days of sacrifice in imitation of Our Lord, ending on Easter Sunday, with the celebration of the Resurrection.
You don't have to be Catholic to give up something meaningful for the 40 days succeeding Fat Tuesday. I give up something each year as a sacrifice to God and in honor of the Mardi Gras tradition

Happy Mardi Gras

How To Finish or Revise Your Manuscript

Are You Having Trouble Finishing Your First Draft?
Does Your Manuscript Need Some Fine Tuning?
I have been reading books on Revising Manuscripts and I have put together a list of tips, ideas & suggestions that I found helpful. It is a combination of exercises and suggestions taken from a variety of books designed to improve the craft of fiction writing. It is rather lengthy so I am going to break it up into a three part segment.

If you have a first or subsequent draft to revise then you use these suggestions on your own work. Even if you have not completed your first draft, this is an excellent guide to help you improve your writing.  If you have not completed your first draft, it is a wise idea to study the work of authors you admire or books from the same genre that you are writing.

It is best to study a novel that you have already read from beginning to end at least one time. The next time you read the novel, you will be reading it as a writer. Plan to pick it apart and decipher it. Learn from published authors what works and what does not.

Select two books that you liked or that kept your attention for whatever reason. Pick two of your absolute favorite books. The gist of this idea is taken from a book written by Chris Eboch, titled  ADVANCED PLOTTING.  You can purchase the Kindle edition for only $4.99

In Monday's Post, I will show you how Chris Analyzes the plot of a book for conflict, tension and how to analyze your main character; subplots and secondary characters; Theme; and how to fine tune your manuscript.

Today I will share some basic tools for analyzing your draft. Again , if you do not yet have a completed draft, use these exercises to analyze two of your favorite books. Analyzing the work of a respected author in your genre will open your eyes to things you are doing that are not working and show you why they are not. You will also pick up necessary tools to develop a great first draft.

Pick two recent books I liked and re-read as writer studying the craft.

Determine how many chapters

Average length of chapters
Average length of sentence
Did they follow the 8 sequence 4 part/three act story structure?
How much of each chapter/scene is
1. Exposition
2. Action
3. Narrative
4. Dialogue
5. Backstory
6. Character's internal thoughts

How and when does the author weave backstory in?
Why do we care about the MC?
How & when is the MC introduced?
What dialogue tags are used & how often?
What other ways does the author break up the dialogue so we don't have talking heads? (action, movement, facial expressions, gestures, other non verbal cues)
Can you tell the characters apart. Do that have unique and distinguishable mannerisms, quirks, habits, manner of speech, dialect, accent, favorite sayings that clearly identify each character. How prominent is the voice.
* A good idea

(Try reading just that character's dialogue aloud)~~ Is dialogue lively & interesting-advancing plot & creating tension? Is it believable

  1. For each chapter or scene write a sentence describing what is happening

For each chapter or scene list the emotions portrayed
Highlight the major emotions
Track subplots by briefly mentioning what happens in chapters where subplots appear
Use a different color highlighter for each subplot
For example
Pink for the romance subplot
red for the villains subplot
blue for MC and her father's subplot
purple for conflict at work subplot
Make note of cliffhangers that end chapters
These are general & basic ideas.
Monday we will outline more specific and detailed ways to revise your draft or use authors in your genre to help improve your first draft.

Get ready for some major analyzing.

On Monday we will  analyze the plot for conflict & Tension
In part 3 we will analyze the Main Character, subplots, secondary characters, theme, & fine tuning using a template from Advanced Plotting by Chris Eboch.

For a sneak peak at some of the Templates used, visit the author's Kris Bock aka Chris Eboch website. Take a look at this awesome Romantic Suspense authors tips & ideas.

Remember this writing exercise can be used to revise or edit your novel also.

How about you? Do you ever read as a writer? Do you pick apart novels in an effort to learn from the best? How do you decipher novels?

Origins Blogfest

What is the Origin of Your Writing Dreams?

D.L Hammons over at Cruising Altitude   is co-hosting this blogfest with Katie Mills The Creepy Query Girl,  Alex J. Cavanaugh  and Matthew MacNish from  The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment .  

It is very Simple: Tell us where your writing dreams began.

As a kid, I spent all of my summers in Leland Michigan. At the end of the summer the entire town celebrated the Barbecruise. We turned our boats into mini Mardi Gras type floats and paraded through the lake. The kids and adults participated in a plethora of other games and activities.

One activity for the younger kids involved telling stories individually and in groups on a stage. I don't remember what my first story was, but I do remember the crowd laughing and applauding.  I guess it went to my head and I discovered that I could entertain others with my "made up" stories,  hence a storyteller was born.

As I got older I started writing my stories and reading them to my family.  I am sure they  tired of  me, but they continued to indulge me.  Unfortunately, we did not have anything remotely close to YouTube 40 years ago and I won't bore you with the "home movies".

I did find some clips from kids doing this last year.

My storytelling & writing continued and I loved to put on a show at summer camp, then boarding school, college & well I guess it never ended.

Finally, I became a lawyer because I knew how hard it would be to become an actress  & lawyers are really just actors on stage telling a story and the lawyer who has the best presence and story wins. LOL kidding (sort of)

The magical little town where it all started & where my grandparents bought me my first electric typewriter.

The most exciting innovation ever (even better than the microwave). Our kids have it so nice & easy today. They cannot even begin to appreciate something as simple as an electric typewriter.

I am about to cry..... I am so old!!!!!  Do any of you remember the electric typewriter?

4th Writers- Campaign Challenge

It's Back! The Fourth Writers' Platform-Building Campaign.

Rachael Harrie over at Rach Writes is the host and creator  of this awesome platform designed to link writers, aspiring authors, beginning bloggers, industry people and published authors together with the aim of helping to build our online platforms. The campaigners are all people in a similar position, who genuinely want to pay it forward, make connections and friends within the writing community and help build each others' online platforms while at the same time building their own.

Rachael explains the idea behind the campaign here.

Here is a post by Rachael, explaining what it means to be a campaigner.

This is an excellent opportunity to make friends and build your online presence while helping others do the same.

This campaign will be a mini campaign.  Here is a list of the campaigners  for the fourth Campaign. You can also sign up here and add your name to the list that best describes your genre.

You need to be a follower of  Rachael Harrie's Blog.

Key Dates:

The Campaign will run from now until Saturday March 17 2012

The list of campaigners will close on Wednesday, February 15th, so make sure you sign up before then.

The First Campaigner Challenge will begin on Monday, February 20th and end on Saturday, February 25th.

The Second Campaigner Challenge will begin on Monday, March 5th and end on Saturday, March 10th.

For more information & to meet Rachael's co-host. Visit her blog now.

Flash Fiction: Revenge

The Third & Final Day of The I'm Hearing Voices Character Blogfest
I’m Hearing Voices
Hosted by Angie & Cassie.  Today's Challenge:
Emotion Flash Fiction: Emotion is the engine of a story. Pick an emotion and in a flash fiction piece of 250 words MAKE us feel it! We want to connect with your character.


His face contorted in agony.  He'd just come to, handcuffed to a dog cage.      His eyes bulged in terror-his wife was tied to the sofa.

"Feel like you've been drop kicked in the gut?"  I asked, but he couldn't answer.  The panicked eyes spoke for him.

     "I'll give you one chance to live."

His brow scrunched and the lines on his forehead formed a V.  What did she see in him?

     "I'll do anything... you want." His voice edged with fear.  Coward. I figured his first words: please don't hurt my wife.

I untied her while pulling the gun from my waistband.  The tough guy pissed himself.  I was parched.

     "Get me something to drink, honey.  Try anything he's dead."  I watched her from the corner of my eye while I held the .38 special on the asshole in the cage.

     "We can work this out. I won't report it."  He whined.

I took another sip of the dark ale from the icy mug  she still knew exactly what I like to drink . I was hot.  Another swig, I felt weak.  He rattled the cage and I shot him.  The thunderous explosion in my head was my ex- wife clapping.  Was I hallucinating?

I felt queasy. I stumbled back.
     "You killed him. Thank you."

     "What?"  The beer fell from my hand.

     "For killing him. I am free from both of you."

     "I''m confused."  

     "I know. It's the poison.

     "What poison?"

     "That I was going to kill my husband with."

The End!  250 Words.


Dialogue Introduction:  

Day 2 of  Angie and Cassie's 
I'm Hearing Voices Blogfest
Today, February 8th - Dialogue Introduction:  Have two character introduce each other other using only dialogue- no backstory,  no internalization, just dialogue between the two.  Max 250 words.

Mr. Andrew Miciotto:  " I need to be paid, Otis or I cannot continue representing you.

"I've got your money, don't worry about it."

"That's the problem. You've got it. I don't." Andrew replied

"Can you get me off?" Otis asked.

"That's not the point."     

"Maybe it ain't your point, but it's mine. You know what happened to the last person said they could help me, but didn't?"

"I don't give a rat's ass. Otis, pay up or get another lawyer."

" I stuck the bitch till she bled to death."

"Damn it, Otis. How many times have I told you , I don't want to know if you are guilty of this crime. In fact I prefer to not know."

"I ain't talking 'bout this case, man."        

"Your jail house threats don't scare me. You're just mouthing off like you always do. You're all talk. You can either get right with me of I'm gonna withdraw as your lawyer. Que pas?"

" Now you's insulting my manhood. I've done learned me a few things about the law in here. You dis's me like that again, I'm a sue you for defecation of character."

"Defa--- what- of character?"

"You heard me the first time."                    

"Yes I sure did, Otis. Shitting on your character. I will not do that. Now you got my money or I'm telling the judge we have a witness problem and I am off your case."

"What witness-we ain't got no witness problem."          

"Oh, but we do. I cannot locate Mr. Green and without him I cannot go forward.
Now Click on the Picture and you will be directed to the official site for this blogfest and you can read the entries submitted by the other participants.  

I’m Hearing Voices

Here is a link to my post from Monday: Characters on the couch. It did not post on Monday. I set it up on Sunday night to automatically post to my blog on Monday morning, but I just learned that it did not post.

I'm Hearing Voices

I'm Hearing Voices!  Character Blogfest

My Apologies. I wrote this post on Sunday night because I knew I would be away from my computer all day Monday & Tuesday~~ I scheduled this to post to my blog on Monday 2/6/12 @ 6:00 am. I just discovered that it did not post.

I’m Hearing Voices

Click on the picture above and it will direct you to the official site for this blogfest.

Today is the first day of the blogfest hosted by Cassie Mae over at Reading Writing and Lovin it and Angie  over at Live To Write...Edit When Necessary.

The blogfest is designed to help us flex our character writing muscles through three separate blog post. The first is today, the second will be on Wednesday, and the final post will appear on Friday, February 10th. Please check back on Wednesday & Friday for the subsequent post.

Today's Topic ~  Character on the couch day.
I have a series of questions to ask a character that I am have a particularly hard time writing. She is a potential antagonist/villain for a story and her name is Leigh Ann Dixon.

What is your biggest vulnerability, Leigh Ann? Do others know this or is it a secret?

LAD:  This is all confidential, right? You are not allowed to ever share what I say to you to    anyone? Okay, then. I have a hard time keeping a man interested in me. They start off strong, but they always back off quickly.  I am sensitive to rejection. I don't tell people this, but men must have a way of sniffing it out because they use my vulnerability to hurt me.

What do people believe about you that is false?

LAD: That I am an extremely jealous and suspicious woman

What would your best friend say is your fatal flaw and why?

LAD: I don't have a best friend. Woman are backstabbers and cannot be trusted.

What would that same friend say is your one redeeming quality? Why? 

LAD: Even my former so-called best friend would say that I am pretty & intelligent and I know 
           how to get what I want

What do you want most and what will you do to get it?

LAD: I want my family back the way it was before my ex-husband fell for that tramp and I will do 
          anything & I do mean anything  to get it. I will get my husband back for my daughter if I 
          to kill the slut to make it happen

Thank you Leigh Ann, for sharing that. 

Now hop over to the other blogs to hear the voices inside their character's heads

Insecure Writers Support Group

Do Not Adjust Your Calendar.  Today is not Wednesday, February 1st.

                                       I am just a day behind. So much for my 2012 goals- I will not procrastinate
                         I will learn to manage my time more efficiently
I suppose my biggest insecurity at the moment is that Alex-The Group Therapist, will throw my sorry, lazy ass out of the support group. But, no you can't. I need my therapy.


What am I insecure about as a writer? A whole lot of things.

I think I must be insecure about, for lack of a better word or phrase:  the fear of completion.  Am I so afraid of failure and rejection that I am sabotaging my own chance of success?  Let me try to explain.  I thought I had a finished, complete novel. I was all geared up to send it to someone who graciously offered to critique it and I began to worry. On a positive note, I read Martha Alderson's new book,  THE PLOT WHISPERER  and I was impressed. I signed up for a series of plot consultations with her and I learned so much about story structure and sequence.

After our second consultation, Martha had a good idea about the plot, characters, theme and other importand story points of my novel. With the use of her plot-line and input I was able to rearrange the order of some of the scenes that I was on the fence about.  The minor changes vastly improved my story. I am scheduled to start back this month with our ongoing plot consultations. This makes me happy. This is not my problem.

My problem seems to be that I am never completely satisfied. I am always reading new craft or technique books and starting over. I don't necessarily go all the way back to the beginning and start all the way over, but if I read a blog post or a book or I take a class, I inevitable end up picking an area of my novel and rewriting it.

Revisions and rewrites are part of the process, so what is my big problem, you ask? About 90% of the time I go back to my original version of the part   I just had to take apart and dissect.  

Why am I so afraid to just say, " This is it. This is my complete, revised, polished novel." ?

I have decided to send what I believe is my final draft to a professional editor. I just need to push myself. I get my MS ready to go, I research the professional editors & then Boom~~Fear~~ takes over and I start the same crap all over again. I tell myself that it is not ready for an editor.

Bottom line: I am afraid it just won't be good enough. That is the only explanation I can find. In my mind, until I am rejected I don't really know that it is not good enough.

Okay, that was hard to say. I am ashamed and embarrassed.

How do you convince yourself that your final draft ----is just that------your Final Draft?
I love comments & I appreciate each and every one. I am going to switch back & quit using DISQUS as soon as my Get Fired Up blogfest is over. 

Until then, I am asking for you to please fill out the area that ask for your name, email and website when you leave a comment. If you don't then I cannot click on your name and be linked to your blog & I have to find you in my followers list, or hope to come across your name in the comment section of another blog or I have to google your name & blog. I just worry that I am not replying or reading your blogs and that really bothers me. I guess you could say I am very "insecure" about it.

I apologize for the inconvenience.  I assure you it is temporary.  I will return to blogger comments on 2/29/12-after the contest ends (I don't want to risk losing any comments from participants).

Thank you.

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