Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Writer's Workshop

I have read many books "On Writing," throughout the years. I still do. I most recently read John Locke's book on how he sold 1,000,000 e-books in five months and enjoyed it a great deal. It dealt with the marketing and sales aspect (obviously) and contained some great information in it. Some of my favorite books on writing are by James Frey--"How to Write a Damn Good Novel," etc. These are fantastic books on how to build your story. I also love Sol Stein's books on the topic. The "Writer's Journey" by Chris Vogle is another great resource. There are a ton of great books on writing available to us, and thats' a really good thing because as writers we are always wanting to learn and evolve.

As I read these books, I consider them in a way to be a mentorship. I have a few mentors that I work with on a regular basis like Mike Sirota (Yoda) and my dear friend Don McQuinn. Both of these guys are excellent sources as teachers and editors. They have been in the business for many years and understand the nuances within it. They give back, and I think as writers become successful that giving back should be a part of their writing life. Giving back is an important aspect to being a human being. Part of the way that I have tried to give back to writers over the past few years is by teaching at workshops and conferences. I have a lot of fun doing this because just being around other writers gives me energy. Writing is like air to me, and writers are the blood. We all need one another. It is the one aspect of my life that my family or friends who do not write can not fully understand about me. This is a passion that I was born with and it will always burn inside of me. The feeling of writing a scene that brings me to tears or makes me laugh is an unspeakable high. Or, when I create dialogue that moves me in some way, or characters and plot lines that pour out of me, I feel joy. I also feel this joy when working with others who share this passion.

That's why I decided to take the workshops I have put together over the past few years and incorporate them into a book for other writers. It's not a long book, and many of the ideas are not original. They are concepts that I learned from other writers and then finessed into what worked for me. I cover everything from creating three-dimensional characters to plotting to marketing and publishing. I also included worksheets and some ideas to get your "think tank" working. I have written about my personal experiences as a writer and hopefully if you choose to read it, I will save you from some of the mistakes that I have made along the way. I also hope it touches you in some way and that it gives you value for your writing and possibly for you personally. If you are interested in checking out "A Writer's Workshop" for your Kindle ($2.99), here are the links in both the U.S., and the U.K.


U.K. tp://

Have a wonderful weekend!


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Stalker on the Prowl

There is an experience that I think most women can relate to. There are some men who can also relate, but on a different level; they certainly can react when someone they love, such as a wife, sister, mother, friend has had this extremely uncomfortable experience.
From the time women are little girls they are taught to look over their shoulder, to be aware of who is around them, and to trust their instinct. I can remember my dad having a talk with me before I went off to college and him telling me exactly what to do if I felt threatened. I can remember an LA police officer coming into the sorority house I belonged to and telling the members what to do if threatened. My husband gives me a reminder now and then as to what I should do if I feel threatened. All three of these men suggested everything from screaming, to going straight for that male anatomy that would make any man scream…

Now for women, a threat can just be as simple as a feeling. If we live alone or even spend a night alone, we have a heightened awareness that we carry with us because it is ingrained in us.

I can remember the first time I felt truly threatened. I was about eighteen, and I was going to get my hair cut. I had never been to this particular salon, and I was not a genius when it came to directions. So, driving my 1984 Celica (most likely with Madonna belting out Lucky Star on my tape cassette), I found myself sort of lost and, as usual, low on gas. This was an issue my father has had with me since the day I got my license. Anyhow…I noticed these skuzzy-looking dudes driving next to me in their beat-up car. They weren’t just skuzzy. They were creepy, nasty-looking, long-haired, greaseball, slime ogres. And, they started following me. My stomach sank, and I could feel the rapid beat of my heart and the burst of adrenaline as I realized there was no gas station in sight, the gage was low, and I could not for the life of me find the salon. Remember, this was pre-cell phone. I tried to ignore the guys, speeding up and slowing down, singing along with Madge, and I knew that I had to get my wits about me—and at eighteen, I will admit that wits were not my strong point. I can remember talking to God out loud, just asking that He would get me safely to where I needed to go before I ran out of gas. Amazingly, that is exactly what happened. I found the salon and pulled into the lot where other people were around. The creepers kept on going. It was unlikely that these piece-of-shit characters were going to do anything to me, but I won’t ever know. I am sure, however, that they enjoyed intimidating me and freaking me out.

Through the years, other things have happened, things that would make me edgy and nervous. However, nothing quite like that until I was much older and the single mother to my boys. The boys were five and three at the time. My oldest belonged to a pee-wee soccer team. As usual, on Saturday mornings we would venture out for my son to play in a game. My youngest was with his dad that morning, so it was just my big guy and me. I was pretty shy during those years—I was a single mother who had been through some tough crap, and I had a tendency to keep to myself.

My kid had a helluva game. I was cheering as any happy mom would. As I stood on the sidelines, I could not help the feeling that someone was watching me. This sense enveloped me. It was surreal, and in a strange way, claustrophobic. I scanned the parents around the arena and the park. My eye caught this guy who just did not fit in. Dads of youngsters have that certain “dad” look. I don’t mean in a physical way, but you know when someone on the side of a game is Dad. He looks that part by his demeanor and interest in the game. This dude was young, okay looking, tall. But definitely no one’s dad. He smiled at me. A serious shiver snaked down my backside. I walked a few feet further down the side of the soccer arena. I did all that I could to focus back on the game and not the man who I knew was watching me. I was able to do a decent job of that, mostly because my son was playing an amazing game. When he scored the final goal, I jumped up and down and hollered out his name. As I went to run out to meet him, I realized that the man had made his way over, and before I could get far enough away, he actually said to me, “It was good for you, too, then.”

Oooh! Gross and just totally inappropriate! My jaw dropped. I ran over to where my son was and stayed in that mix of kids and parents until I couldn’t spot him anymore. I can tell you that for the rest of that day, I was constantly aware of my surroundings and looking over my shoulder. With my little boy, that awareness turned into full-on, “This Mom will kick your ass mode, you blankety-blankety-blank (you can fill in the blank ).”

I am sure there are readers out there who can relate to these two situations—the kind where your heart races and real fear charges your every nerve ending. It’s that feeling that a good thriller gives you while reading it. It is those exact feelings and the combination of these two stories (plus one that I won’t go into here about a stalker ex-boyfriend who I hope lives under a rock somewhere) that were the catalyst for my thriller, Daddy’s Home.

Readers ask all the time if I ever draw from real life experiences. Although the thrillers that I have written take the feelings from these stories to the extreme, I think that we have all experienced fear and can relate to the intensity of emotion. While these situations were unpleasant, I was able to get those emotions on the page and have watched as both Daddy’s Home and Mommy, May I? have climbed the Amazon U.K. charts. Daddy’s Home, was #1 and Mommy, May I? have remained in the #5 position for over a month! If you like thrills and chills, then I hope you will give these thrillers a try.

Also, feel free to share if you can relate to either one of these experiences. I’d love to know how you responded and what occurred.

Thank You!



Daddy’s Home US Kindle:

Daddy’s Home Paperback:

Daddy’s Home UK Kindle:

Mommy May I? US Kindle:

Mommy May I? UK Kindle:

Book trailer for Mommy, May I?