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A valentine hug to some writing pros...

The difference between people who believe they have books inside of them and those who actually write books is sheer cussed persistence–the ability to make yourself work at your craft, every day–the belief, even in the face of obstacles, that you’ve got something worth saying.” --Jennifer Weiner

At then end of 2013, Andy Roberts, the Chief Technology Officer for Booktrope (my publisher) posted this message to all the authors, saying "Booktrope thanks you for being in the latter category."

I'm sure Andy has no idea how meaningful that post was to me at the time he posted it. To have your publisher or an officer representing your publisher thank you for your sheer dogged determination, in the face of all manner of obstacles each of us faces en route to publication, was balm for my worn-out soul.

I just published my third novel, WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'? with Booktrope Editions. Make no mistake, getting to publication is a slog. I had been working on TOM JONES for five years. It began as a NaNoWriMo novel in 2008, and I've been workshopping it (online and on-ground) since then.

The occasion of the publication WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'? I thought it might be a nice opportunity to give a shout-out to certain writing professionals (they teach and also write, edit, and publish themselves) who profoundly influenced me, whether they realize it or not.

Alicia Rasley--When I first began writing fiction in 2005, I easily found Alicia's content on the Internet and read (I believe) every thing she had posted on her site. She has tons of great tips and articles to help you develop your craft. I then took one or two of her courses, learning even more, if possible. Alicia's the writer who introduced me to the idea of a journey or narrative arc, that you must consider your protagonist's arc: from delusion to self-discovery, from loneliness to contentment, etc. Spend an hour on her site, and I guarantee you'll learn something, no matter how many books you've written.

Michael Giorgio--I took a couple online mystery writing classes with Michael back in 2008-09 (I think.) He was extraordinarily helpful to me, and his guidance allowed me to realize that I needn't try so hard to be jokey when I write mystery. I took his advice seriously, and allowed the humor in WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'? to flow out of the story and the interaction between characters rather than wedge it into the narrative. I appreciated his early, careful feedback on my writing and grew as a writer from it.

Roz Morris--Roz wrote a wonderful post on the value of reincorporation and guest posted on this blog a few years ago. She has lots of other great tips available to help you improve as a writer and deepen that reader writer relationship. The first time I heard her relay that the technique of "reincorporation seems to hit the audience’s satisfaction centres to a primeval degree," I knew she was right, but had never heard it expressed before, let alone so succinctly, and set out to use it in my writing.

Lenore Hart--Lenore was my fiction foundations instructor at Wilkes University. Boy, was she ever tough on me. But I learned a ton from her. She exhibits the most masterful use of figurative language. The way she paints pictures for readers makes me sigh with delight. And we all know readers can't feel a thing you want them to feel without concrete language and details underpinning the scene. When I last contacted Lenore, she was hard at work--as always--on numerous writing projects. Her sheer devotion to hard work alone, always pushing herself, never resting on her laurels, inspires me daily. I featured Lenore here a few years ago, and want to talk with her very soon about some of the new things she's doing for and with writers.

Lori A. May--Lori gave an eye-opening and ultimately life-changing presentation during my last semester at Wilkes University. She introduced me to the idea of literary citizenship (which you can read more about here), which she continues to model in her endeavors. She also introduced me to a model for goal-setting and monitoring toward forward progress and ultimately success as a writer. It's a winning plan she herself has obviously user-tested and proven. I would do well to go back and review since it's easy for life to intervene and sidetrack authors meaning to accomplish this and that.

Thanks to all of you, from the bottom of my heart, for helping me along my path to publication, for inspiring me and encouraging me. This is my valentine to you, for your wisdom and expertise, so kindly shared for my benefit.


My 'Winter's Respite Read-a-thon' progress


Now that Who Killed 'Tom Jones'? has launched, I figured that I would do a little bit of pleasure reading. I just won a book in a Goodreads giveaway--it's always so fun getting that print copy in the mail--so I thought I would start that one. I also purchased some historical fiction off of BookBub that swirled around the world of barogue opera and never got to start it.

Yes, it is extraordinarily consuming publishing a novel--that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.

So, I have used this read-a-thon to dive into these two books:

Finding Harmony (Katie & Annalise #3) by Pamela Fagan Hutchins and Interrupted Aria: A Tito Amato Mystery by Beverle Graves Myers

Because I write contemporary fiction and just released a contemporary mystery, I suppose I am a little more critical of Finding Harmony. I keep comparing my mystery to hers, and I think I come out looking pretty good--though I do love her cover.

Also, as an opera wonk and opera performance reviewer for Bachtrack, Aria Interrupted is right up my alley. I love historical fiction and know that it is loads too difficult to write for me to ever attempt. Thus far Interrupted Aria is exquisitely written and informative--and I am just loving it.

So, thank you, Michelle, for forcing me to dig into some new fiction with your very cool Read-a-thon. I am having a blast so far.


Last prize up for grabs...DVD set of Tom Jones' old variety show

Today we've reached the end of our Totally Groovy Book Launch for WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'? And in the eyes of some ardent fans, it's not unusual that I may have saved the best prize for last.

This collection is a fan fave on AmazonI've heard tell that "This Is Tom Jones: Legendary Performers" is a 3-DVD set of the best moments from Tom Jones old variety show on ABC from 1969 - 1971. It features clips of legendary entertainers such as Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Liza Minnelli--all of whom I LOVE.

Sir Tom (I am inscribing a signed copy of WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'? to "Sir Tom") shows his versatility as a song stylist, going down home with Johnny Cash. 

Honestly, I really want to watch it myself right now since so many of Sir Tom's YouTube videos are mostly grainy and/or blurry.

If you are interested in this prize, just use the Rafflecopter widget below. Of course, you can go totally old school, too, and leave a comment on this blog post. I LOVE all of your comments, btw.

Just so you know, Rafflecopter will select four more winners once the giveaway is concluded. Each winner will have her (or his) choice of any one the following prizes featured this week on this blog:

  • The tie dyed apron 
  • The yoga pants
  • The Best of Tom Jones CD
  • The puffy shirt
  • "This is Tom Jones" volume 2 DVD set (3 discs)

And every person who enters is a winner! Not only because you read this blog, but also because you'll get a free ebook of WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'? (Nook, Kindle, or PDF--your choice).

Totally devoted to puffy shirts and skin-tight pants,



a Rafflecopter giveaway



A puffy shirt, anyone? (You wanna be a pirate!)

This comes in lavender, aquamarine, and pink Today's prize is a pretty and elegant puffy shirt. 

Yes, a pretty one. We're not outfitting the Pirates of the Caribbean here. Though I have to say that a much younger version of myself liked that puffy shirted look on Sir Tom Jones.

This handsome gent is tribute artist Steve McCoy(And on his tribute artist Steve McCoy, the entertainer featured on the cover of WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'?)

Though entertainers got away with the pirate look, it's just a tad over the top for men in real life.

Anyhoo, there are variations of the puffy shirt that look fun and flirty on women today--no pirate homage necessary.

So, if you'd like to win this cute little number, just leave a comment on this blog post or use the handy Rafflecopter widget below to increase your chances of winning.

Yours in pretty puffy shirts,




a Rafflecopter giveaway  


Yoga pants, anyone? Today's super cute 'Tom Jones' giveaway

The band on the pants can be in any color--even black if you don't like the contrastWhat do yoga pants have to do with Tom Jones? Well, I doubt even he wears them, and we all know that he is the king of clingy pants.

There actually IS a connection to yoga pants and my new novel WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'? One of the senior citizens who lives at the Finger Rest Home does yoga. And her yoga pants are pinched off the dryer and used to aid and abet a fugitive. (But that's all I can tell you. You really have to read the book if you want to know more. Where can you buy the book? On Amazon and Barnes & Noble, print & paperback.)

Aren't these particular yoga pants super cute? And the waist band can be in your choice of contrasting colors or also in black. And the wonderful thing about yoga pants is that you don't have to do yoga to wear them. (Although you might want to. I had a GREAT yoga class during Christmas break. I felt ten years younger after completing the five classes.)

You can win these pants by either using the Rafflecopter giveaway entry system below.

Or simply leave a comment on this blog post--the old fashioned way.

Namaste, y'all.

a Rafflecopter giveaway