Archive for April, 2014

Here is yet another one of my lousy, terrible, not very literary poems.  Please enjoy it anyway.


I do not want to write today

I want to go outside and play

Just get my laptop, shut it down,

And then go wild and paint the town.

1950 beach
Throw a softball, join a band,

Build a castle in the sand,

Have a swim and sexy dance,

Go to clubs in leather pants.


I’m tired of the editing,

The plotting and the querying,

The character developments,

and literary elements.


It simply hurts to humbly grovel

With publishers to take my novel,

And spend my weekends writing tales

As if pursuing holy grails.


I want to rest! I want some fun!

To spend my days out in the the sun!

But in the end, by hook or crook,

I’ll still find time to write my book.


The End


That’s right.  The ever naked and nakedly ambitious Hart over at Confessions of a Watery Tart ( nominated me to be next in line for the Writing Process Blog Hop.  It’s a tag-your-it started by May Rock at  Check them out, because they are remarkably creative writers.

Now it’s my turn…

steampunk typewriter

1) What am I working on?

I’m polishing the second novel of what could be a series.  It’s called Charity MacCay and the Saintly Wives.  The first one is Charity MacCay and the Almighty Dollar.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

My two Charity novels are historicals, but unlike most books in the genre they’re funny and irreverent.

3) Why do I write what I do? 

Because I’m crazy.  And not normal.  And because – even with a modern thriller like my novel The Compass Master – lots of history keeps sneaking into what I write.  I try to create the kind of books I like to read: ones with some brains and lots of twists.

4) How does your writing process work?

I used to be more disciplined and usually wrote for long hours on weekends.  But that fell apart in the last couple of years because I got discouraged about publishing, and because I self-published The Compass Master, which kind of exhausted me.

When I write, I loosely outline my story as I go and scribble notes here and there, but never stick to them.  In fact, most of my notes are only about historical facts or background.  As for the creative process itself – this sounds weird, but I don’t like to talk about it.  When I want to write, I just clear my head and sit down at my computer and write.


However, because an agent is now looking at Charity MacCay, I find myself having hope and discipline again.  If my two Charity novels get traditionally published, I’ll keep writing.  But if I end up self-publishing them, I’ll probably die of exhaustion.  At the very least I’ve promised myself I’ll give up writing.

And on that cheerful note, I’d love to hand off this tag-your-it hop to someone else.  In fact, I was supposed to have THREE writers lined up.  But I have failed miserably at this end of the bargain.  EVERY WRITER I KNOW IS TOO CRAZY BUSY FOR ANY HOP ANYWHERE!  But I tried.  I really did try.

On the bright side, these writers are busy writing their novels and short stories, so all the success in the world to them.  Also, this is yet another opportunity for me to promote Hart’s latest cozy, Keeping Mum, which is written under her cozy pen name Alyse Carlson   It’s the third one in her series of fun, twisty mysteries starring the indomitable Roanoke sleuth Cam Harris.  Read and enjoy!

And you, my friends—what stories are you working on?

I have a VERY SMALL piece of some VERY GOOD NEWS…

(Drum roll…)

An agent is looking at my Charity MacCay manuscript!

Yes I know, it’s no big deal.  Merely one stepping stone that MIGHT lead to publication.  But when I got the email from the agent that said she’d LOVE (my caps, not hers) to have a look at Charity, I was ecstatic.  I was bubbly with energy and enthusiasm and ebullience.  I was also in a panic because I had to tweak my manuscript REALLY FAST by cleaning up the headers and title page and running another spell check and generally and neurotically making sure it was super-clean before sending it off electronically with a whispered Vaya con Dios!


This happened last Tuesday.  In the days afterward, I realized that my happy feelings had a dark familiarity.  You see, I know what it’s like to be unemployed and scared.  I know what it’s like to be laid off as a company goes under and I have to scramble to get back on my feet.  Meanwhile, my bank account is dwindling as fast as my faith in myself.

Lining up a good agent simply to look at my novel is, for me, like being thrown a lifeline after being unemployed for a long time.  And I should know.  It’s as if no one has even read my résumé and a sense of worthlessness has been creeping over my soul.  But then, suddenly, I’m scheduled for an interview.  What a relief!  Even if I don’t get the job, I made the top three!  I’m not a total loser!

Now I know too that this is what it’s like for so many of us writers, isn’t it?

cloud light

We attach so much self-worth to what we’ve written that every page becomes a piece of ourselves.  If no one wants to publish our novel, it’s like being an eager worker but no one wants to hire us.  Our hearts fall through the floor.  We pretend that getting traditionally published isn’t important.  We swear we’ll just self-publish.  We recite anecdotes of bestselling novels that were turned down by agents and editors and publishers, who obviously are all dumbasses, ’cause like, what do they know?

And then one of those rare creatures shines a light on us, and we explode with joy.

Anyway, this is how emotional the last few days have been for me.  When it came to getting Charity published, I’ve realized that I’ve been reliving a trauma that had nothing to do with writing, yet everything to do with how I feel about myself.

Have any of you had the same kind of feelings?  Have you relived old traumas through your writing?  If so, then I know just what that’s like.

Have you ever wanted to make a movie?  What I mean is, have you  had the urge to put down on paper your story in the form of a screenplay, then imagine being on the set while it’s filmed?

film making

Yeah I know, I’m traipsing through Fantasy La-La land on this one.   But see, the reason I’m asking is because I have a story idea that’s becoming so vivid I’m seeing whole scenes and hearing the dialogue.

And that’s just it – I’m SEEING my story as in a movie, which means I don’t want to write it down as a short story or novel, and not just because I’m in the process of swearing off writing anyway.  What’s happening is that this tale is taking over my brain, and it really would be so much fun to see it come to life.

But here’s the wretched reality:  if you think it’s tough getting a novel published by a good traditional publisher, try shopping around a screenplay.  The odds are actually better that you’d get a huge advance for your novel or win a couple million dollars playing the lottery.  That’s no exaggeration.  Screenwriting in Hollywood is now, more than ever, notoriously tough to break into.

the haunting

Granted, there are really good independent movies that don’t cost a fortune to make.  So if I ever win the lottery I can make my movie. And that notion may not be farfetched because my story isn’t a big honkin’ production; instead it’s a spooky  horror/paranormal thriller in the vein of The Conjuring or The Haunting (the 1963 version, not the ridiculous remake) and inspired by the ghost stories I grew up with, the ones my Irish relatives swear were real and happened to them.  The ones that scared the holy crap out of me as a kid and wouldn’t let me sleep at night, but I still asked to hear over and over.

Speaking of Ireland, the move Once, which won an Oscar for its theme song, was made in Ireland by some first-time filmmakers for around $200,000.  It went on to be a hit here in the U.S.  So maybe there’s hope for me yet.

I just know a bunch of you have wanted at some point in your lives to make a movie.  Would it be a drama, a comedy, or a sci fi?  There are so many genres to choose from.  Or maybe no genre at all because what you want to create is very original.  Wouldn’t that be cool?