Archive for April, 2011


My job review is coming up pretty soon.   That’s nothing to get excited about ’cause I have an office job, and you know what that means.  I sit at a desk and work on a computer and with papers and files.  Just like a gazillion other drones.  And I’m grateful for my job.

But what I’d much rather do is sit in on a job review for an AGING action hero.  ‘Cause if I hafta get older, then so does Jennifer Garner-Alias/ Jane Bond / Lara Croft / Nikita/ Mila.  I wanna see how those ladies perform when they get well into middle age, comme moi.

PERFORMANCE REVIEW FOR FEMALE AGENT

Per usual, employee has exhibited exceptional execution of duties in most situations, particularly in execution of designated villains.

Able to utilize martial arts, parkour, and gymnastics training to full effect.  However, the employee’s visits to a chiropractor and physical therapist have increased significantly, adding to firm’s overhead expense.

Employee is still maintaining high body count in shoot-out situations with multiple attackers.  In fact, employee often shoots more of the enemy than is strictly necessary.  We may wish to consider psychiatric review of employee for possible latent hostilities or PMS symptoms.

Employee is still capable of handling any firearm with keen marksmanship.  However, it appears that she must now wear reading glasses when using a scope in a sharpshooter situation.  This might become a liability.

Employee is still capable of handling all makes and types of vehicles.  However, rather than riding assigned motorcycles or racecars “full throttle” as directed, she has visibly “slowed down” and complains about “reckless” younger drivers in the firm.

Employee has been requesting that the firm pay for “minor” plastic surgery and laser treatments in order to appear younger and more seductive when on assignment.  She has been informed that, rather than relying on her appearance and sexual allure to manipulate male targets, she may now be better suited to missions in which her physical attributes are irrelevant.  Employee did not take this suggestion well.

On at least one occasion the employee had been directed to slip several sleeping tablets into the drink of the male enemy target.  However, the employee was overheard as describing the target as “hot” and instead “accidentally” slipped him tablets of Viagra.  The employee later claimed that she had simply failed to wear her reading glasses when choosing the tablets from her supply.

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS:   Continued employment of employee is recommended, but with the caveat that she be “eased” into less physically strenuous missions and given more oversight.  Also, we believe the firm would be well advised to restrict her access to firearms and medications.

Scary People

on April 19, 2011 in Misc Comments Off on Scary People

In the last couple weeks I’ve learned that there are a lot of scary people out there.  I mean a LOT more REALLY SCARY people than I ever thought existed, and they’re more aggressive than I’d assumed, too.  And what’s starting to give me nervous hives is that when The Compass Master comes out one of two things will happen.  Either:

A)  Like the vast majority of self-published books, it will disappear and only one or two dozen people will buy and read it (thank you Mom and friends).  Or…

B)  Through some fluke of fate my book will get some attention, it will start to sell, which will then mean…

The crazy scary people will come get me.

I know this because my novel deals in part with religion.

The irony is TCM isn’t anti- or pro-religious faith.  Unlike The Da Vinci Code or The Templar Code, The Lost Tomb, etc. (TCM falls into the same genre), I don’t dismiss Christianity by downgrading J.C. to merely human or say he was married to Mary Magdalene.   However, my modern-day characters do deal with a definite downgrading of the Book of Revelation and with the Inconvenient Truth that women in very early Christianity acted as priests and bishops and Paul himself hailed one as an apostle.

So in TCM Layla must handle such evidence while trying to outsmart and evade dangerous members of an extremist right-wing American Catholic and Protestant force that’s trying to top them.  (This angle too is based on more hard fact than most people would like to think.   Ever heard of the Council for National Policy?)

See, the key word here is EXTREMIST.  We’re not talking about the vast majority of Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, pagans, Buddhists, Trekkies, Wiccans or whatever.  When it comes to personal spiritual beliefs or the lack of them, most people are pretty tolerant and respectful.  I have wonderful friends who literally sing in the choir at their church and others who can’t be bothered with any religion.  You could put them all in the same room and they’d get along just fine.

But crazy extremists don’t respect and tolerate.  They go on websites, blogs, public forums, letters to the editor, anything and everything.  They attack, insult, preach to, defame, cyber stalk, blackball, mock, you name it.  I truly had no idea how bad the cyber world of extremist religious  and anti-religious fruitbats was until within the last couple weeks when I ventured into articles on religious issues on major websites like Huffington Post and the Daily Beast.  I even made the great mistake of leaving a couple comments about certain points in  the articles.

Holy fruitbat shit.

I mean, suddenly I wasn’t in the nanny-patrolled world of the comment sections of the New York Times.  Suddenly I was in a dark, dangerous alley infested with rabid Jesus freaks and hard-core atheists ready to spit insults at anyone who doesn’t believe exactly as they do.  And a couple of them wouldn’t leave me alone.  They kept hitting the Reply button and typing in more snark or sermons.  All I could do was ignore them and try to go far, far away.  Which they REALLY don’t like.

I guess on the upside it’s whack jobs like them who gave The Da Vinci Code so much free publicity.   Remember when it was on the cover of Time (or was it Newsweek)?  Controversy sells, and the Code was the mother of all fictional controversies.   A lot of people picked up the book just to see what all the fuss was about.   So maybe good things are in store for The Compass Master.

On the downside I don’t have Dan Brown’s millions of dollars in royalties to retreat into fortified solitude.  On the upside, I now know how to fire a shotgun.

I am so having fantasies of one day taking a whole weekend off.

That means no writing.   No editing.   No trying to figure out how to promote The Compass Master.   No pouring over artwork to figure out my cover.   No sifting through stacks of papers or stuffed 3-ring binders to determine what still needs to be done.   No scribbling notes of TO DO stuff.   No wallowing in angst over historical facts in my book and if I got them all absolutely right.   No freaking out when I find a missing period in my manuscript that’s supposed to be perfect at this point.

This is what writing has done to me.

SO LET THIS BE A WARNING TO YOU, PEOPLE!

If you don’t want to end up like me — a sad, pathetic, overworked, neurotic homebody with a severely curtailed social life and a brain that refuses to shut down at night….

NEVER WRITE A NOVEL!   AND NEVER EVER BECOME A NOVELIST DETERMINED TO SELF-PU8LISH!

That being said…

I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it ain’t an oncoming train.

I find myself feeling lighter by the day because in the next ten days or so I will really, truly, finally be submitting all necessary TCM stuff to CreateSpace.   Then in a few weeks CS will get back to me with the proofs for TCM, which means reading through it one truly FINAL time before publication.   Then that’s it.

OMG.   I’m actually finished?

Yes, there’ll still be regular, daily promo work to do.   But… THAT’S IT!

I’m actually starting to feel free. Liberated.   No longer mentally constipated.  I’m going to have a life again.

Of course, normal writers have normal lives and manage to balance their art/passion with real life.   But me?   Hell no.   I am definitely unbalanced.   I go onto other blogs and read about how hard their authors are working, yet between the lines I can tell that they still have lives — normal, healthy lives like normal people.   How do they do it?

Anyway, I mean it when I say I’m starting already to feel lighter and freer and – dare I say it – a little happier and even proud.  ‘Cause I DID IT!   And that means someday soon I’m gonna take one whole weekend off and see friends and movies and do real Layla stuff and have fun and relax and in general just fart around.

It’s going to feel so good.

Blurbing

on April 12, 2011 in Misc 4 Comments »

Let me tell you, writing a blurb for you own book is SO TOUGH!

Blurbs, of course, are those paragraphs on the back of books or inside book flaps.  They’re a lot like query letters, which I’m lousy at, only they have to be even more pithy and catchy.  And instead of snagging an agent’s attention you have to just plain flat-out SELL your story to anyone who bothers to pick up the book in a store or click on your title while cruising Amazon Books, Barnes and Noble, or whatever.  That means you have to stand out in a field of thousands of blurbs.   T’aint easy.

But now I think I’ve got my blurb.  Give or take a phrase or some words.

First, my big thanks to Hart (Confessions of a Watery Tart) who gave me encouragement on an earlier version.  And a big thanks to friends Annie and Rich (and Rich’s co-workers) who rewrote what didn’t appeal to them and gave me a much-needed different perspective.

Now I’d LOVE to hear what you think of it or about changes you’d make.   ‘Cause once this baby is on the back of my book or posted on Amazon et al., it’s pretty much permanent.

THE COMPASS MASTER

Layla Daltry is the go-to antiquities hunter for museums and wealthy private collectors.  As a scholar of ancient manuscripts, she knows what to look for.  But as a romantic idealist and passionate thrill-seeker, she takes too many risks, balances on the edge of the law, and gets into places she doesn’t belong.

Yet even Layla isn’t prepared for the deadly endgame that’s set in motion when her mentor and closest friend dies.   She learns too late that Dr. Maeve Finnegan-Bryson had been secretly following a centuries-old trail of codes and ciphers that will lead to hidden ancient letters.   If found, these letters will radically alter history and threaten modern powerbrokers.

Now an unseen enemy has stolen the professor’s final clues and is shadowing Layla’s every move.   With her life in the balance, Layla must race across Europe while breaking secret codes and searching for the letters.   The person who can best help her is former lover Zach Sandoval – a man who has betrayed her once before.   Together they discover that the professor and the enemy had, years earlier, chosen them to be both players and rivals in a lightning-paced hunt that is already spiraling out of control into a contest of intrigue, treachery, and lethal mystery.

First of all – SORRY I WAS ABSENT HERE FOR SO LONG!  To say that I’ve been freaking busy is an understatement.   But now, for better or worse, I’m back.

So anyway you know I’m a swashbuckler at heart.   I mean, I fence epee, I write about action heroes, my childhood hero was Sheena Queen of the Jungle.   And of course, the all-time writer of overblown swashbucklers was Alexander Dumas.   As in The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask, and the ultimate revenge novel, The Count of Monte Cristo.

Revenge ain’t supposed to be good.  Even at the end of Monte Cristo the hero is given a lecture by the love of his life about forgiving instead of destroying the evil rat bastards who had destroyed him.   The Count got his revenge, but the price he had to pay was to lose the woman he loved.   That’s supposed to be the uplifting moral of the story.

Oh please.

I LOVED how he got revenge.   Dumas built a fascinating, elaborate plot of a carefully constructed revenge (dumbed down beyond all recognition in the 2002 movie, which you should avoid).   One by one the hero destroys his enemies by playing to their badness or revealing publicly and anonymously their evil acts.   As Martha Stewart would say, it’s a good thing.   Evil should be stopped and punished, right?   And anyone who thinks that means resorting to our legal system (it sure as hell ain’t a justice system) is a super naïve babe in the woods.

And all this talk brings me to….

My own revenge fantasies.

And you have got to be a superhuman saint if you’ve never had any yourself.

I had my own darkest ones after 9/11, but that’s really too dark to talk about.   Then there’s what I want to do with the CEO’s and other criminal executives of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Wells Fargo…  Oh, the list just goes on and on these days, doesn’t it?    But more realistically…

I want revenge on my neighbors.

These are the same neighbors who every few months have LOUD parties that wake me up at 2:30 a.m. and I can’t go back to sleep and the next day I’m dragging and feel like crap.   Sure, I once called the police.  So have other people on the block, who have also had talks with them.   That’s just enough to make the miscreant nitwits quiet down for a few months.   But then once again they have friends over and they all LOUDLY get going at 2:30 a.m.

You know, there really must be a deep, abiding, visceral joy to be had in throwing a brick through a window in the house of such a neighbor.   More practical would be putting a skunk in the back yard where they’re partying, or into their house where the music and screaming (and I mean SCREAMING) are taking place.   But getting a hold of a skunk without getting sprayed and putting it in a place where it will spray ain’t easy.   I know ‘cause I’ve checked.

So today I’m asking that if any of you just happen to have a  dandy recipe for a stink bomb, I’d be ever so grateful if you passed it on to me.   I promise to put it to good use.

I have been so busy this last week and so sleep deprived that, due to feeling like a zombie, I haven’t written much anything here.   You may have noticed.   But today I’m got the great good luck of spreading news about a couple of my fave buddy bloggers.

And to start things off…

CONGRATULATIONS CIARA!

I am so happy to report that CIARA KNIGHT, who has a gorgeous site about WRITING TO THE EDGE OF DARKNESS (http://www.ciaraknight.com/) has honored me with her LOVELY BLOGGER AWARD.  But of greater importance is that just today, Ciara has announced she’s going to be a PUBLISHED AUTHOR!

(Pause for shouts of Huzzah!)

Ciara has signed a contract with Turquoise Morning Press for her Young Adult Paranormal, Rise From Darkness.  That is fantastic news, lady.  YOU SO DESERVE IT!

Also of great note  is the naked tarty shameless Hart Johnson over at CONFESSIONS OF A WATERY TART (http://waterytart23.blogspot.com/)

Hart has a YA entry in Amazon’s formidable ABNA competition, and so far she has made it all the way to the quarter finals, which means her book beat out a few thousand contestants.  An excerpt of her novel, The Kahlotus Disposal Site, can be read for free on Amazon.  I’ve read it and it’s so good I  got an insecurity complex and went back to reread The Compass Master’s first chapters to make sure they grab me the way Hart’s chapters do.

Hart also has a contract with a real live PUBLISHER for a cozy mystery (talk about being multi-literary-talented).

To top it off, this is crazy busy whirlwind has generously offered to review my blurb for The Compass Master, which I’ll be composing this weekend.  You know what blurbs are—those pithy descriptions on book jackets or the back of books that convince readers this novel is the best thing since Gone with the Wind or any Harry Potter book and you’ll be miserably deprived if you don’t read it.   Blurbs are like query letters for the general public—your literary success can hang precariously on them.  So thank you, darling Hart.

Obviously in the coming months I’m going to be getting in line to buy the books of Hart Johnson and Ciara Knight.  That is really gonna feel so cool.