Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"So what's the answer?"

Over on Jack Getze's blog, his main character Austin Carr is debating POV, and the discussion leaned toward the magic-bullet combination that makes a reader forgive the problems a story may have.

Is it Story?

Is it Craft?

Is it Voice?

Or is it D) some variegated combination of all the above, plus more? Now granted, an agent can come and tell us what makes them offer representation, and I'd welcome it. [I'd welcome the offer too, but anyway (grin) ]

I want to know what does it for readers (writers also read, so you guys chime in too). If you're reading a book where the craft is lacking, or the story drags, or the voice is dry, what keeps you in it? What captures you?

I know any one of these things can make you want to toss the book through a wall if it's REALLY poorly done, but what has to be done well enough to help you gloss over the gaffes?

Rescue of the Week

Going back to the cats this week. I know, I know, but the kitties need homes too. And for someone who isn't home a lot, or doesn't have a nice yard for a dog, a cat who will stay indoors all the time can be a great buddy. I especially love the coloring on this calico.

She is described as being perfect for someone who works during the day but can spend time with her at night. Sounds like a great companion who can take care of herself while you're away at work and then be ready to pick up your spirits when you get home.


Friday, December 12, 2008

"Doc, I'll get enough sleep when I'm dead."

I've been told by several authors that one of the greatest compliments you can give them is to let them know their book cost you a night of sleep. Think about how much that must mean to them. The story and characters were so engaging that you literally couldn't put the book down.

Lately I've had a couple of those. I let Zoe Sharp know that her FIRST DROP had me dragging the next day. I emailed Michelle Gagnon to let her know my students could tell I hadn't slept a week because of BONEYARD. Though I haven't told him yet, Brett Battles owes my in-laws an apology, because I was a weary, miserable jackass for a wedding we attended because of THE CLEANER.

And Marcus Sakey? Yeah, my students would like to know why my handwriting is so tough to read on the work I gave back last week. I'm sending all of their complaints to you buddy. (If any of you haven't read THE BLADE ITSELF, you need to. Today. Now if possible.)

I can only hope my stories will one day do the same (and I'll gleefully apologize to anyone who has such a "complaint" about any of them).

So spill it. What books have cost you a night of repose? Which authors had you looking for an injection of adrenaline the next day to keep you awake at the wheel?

And, did you contact them to tell them? If not, you might want to think about that. It's been my experience that authors are very friendly and really cool when they find out their book was too good for you to put down. And why wouldn't you want to spread good feelings like that around?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Rescue of the Week

In case you haven't seen, I have really great news. I don't know if this blog has had even a remote effect on the situation, but so far every one of the rescues showcased here has been adopted. I haven't been able to find out for sure if Brutus and Buttercup went home together, but they were adopted the same weekend, so I think so. If one of these great pups or kitties is now yours, please drop a line in the comments to let me know how things are going.

And with that said, let's introduce the newest Rescue of the Week!

Cassius is not actually at the Wake SPCA, he's "away at summer camp" for the time being. He's a big fellah at about 80 lbs., so it would be better if you have a good-sized yard and are comfortable with larger breeds.

****EDIT: CASSIUS has been adopted!!!****

Monday, December 8, 2008

"What, are we havin' a contest or somethin'?"

Over at Nathan Bransford's blog, there is indeed a contest taking place. Out of the goodness of his heart (or the madness in his head), writers can enter their first paragraph in the hopes that he will read it, like it, put it into the finals, and allow it to win the writer a tiny but ridiculously valuable piece of Mr. Bransford's time. If you are a writer, and you don't at least try this, there is something wrong with you. Then again, if you don't try this, I stand a better chance. Still, I'd rather go up against the best and win, so click the link and turn something in!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Kids these days...."

Okay, so the other day I started my lesson working through some of HAMLET, and I discovered that most of them hadn't read the previous night. Okay, it's HAMLET, even for academic level Seniors, it can be difficult. The problem is that some of them hadn't been reading their assignments on a semi-regular basis. So I asked why.

Because they don't read at all, some said. And a few even said they don't see the point, because they don't plan to go to college, so why bother?

And yet they watch movies all the time because they "love a really good story."

Ugh. This drives me nuts, and I doubt I'm alone in this. They want a story, but according to many of them, they like the blockbusters where they don't have to actually think. Now understand, this isn't all of my students. Not even a majority. But it was enough that it concerned me.

Many hadn't read a book for pleasure (rather than for school) in over a year. And in quite a few cases, I had to discuss what movies they liked to figure out the kind of story they might find interesting. Wanna know why? Because when I asked, many of them said they would have no idea where to start in a bookstore to find the kind of books they might like.

Let me repeat that. They had no idea what GENRE they might like, and where to find it in bookstores. So I did what I could to help, but I wanted to open this up to you guys to give me more suggestions. As far as movies, they named everything, including sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, historical fiction, romance, mystery, military, etc.

So if you were to recommend books/authors in any of those genres to a high school senior who desperately needs to read something interesting (to get them back into it), what or who would it be? Any suggestions welcome, give 'em your best shot!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Rescue of the Week

Meet Kip - A sweet tri-colored beagle who can sure use a nice, warm forever-home for the Christmas season. Instead of a new puppy, consider taking a wonderful, loving adult dog like this who will require less maintenance (potty training and the like) and still give unconditional love for hours at a time.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"The very best time of year!"

One of my favorite things about the holidays is the time. I do my best to get whatever grading I plan to do over the break, and finish it before I go. That leaves me time to do two things: Read, and Write. I plan to spend most of the free time I have over this break doing both of those things.

I've taken a sufficient enough amount of time away, and am now ready to tackle those revisions for my WIP. At the same time, I have some reading to catch up on. Marcus Sakey's THE BLADE ITSELF, Alexandra Sokoloff's THE HARROWING, Jeffery Deaver's THE BODIES LEFT BEHIND, Lori G. Armstrong's HALLOWED GROUND, and Jason Pinter's THE MARK are sitting atop my TBR pile.

And I await Christmas time (and J.D. Rhoades, and Sean Chercover, and Toni McGee Causey, and Louise Ure, and Robert Crais, and Laura Lippman, and....) for the same reason, as I will be asking almost exclusively for books this year. Hey, any small boost I can give to the publishing biz, I plan to.

So, what are you planning to read over the break, and is your writing getting some time on the docket as well?

Rescue of the Week

As I said, I'm a dog person, because I'm allergic to cats, but it's a lot of fun just to watch them all lounging or playing in the room together, and this guy is young and full of energy. He'll need lots of care and supervision if you want to make sure your home isn't destroyed, because he isn't old enough to know what's okay and what isn't yet. Still, he'll be a lot of fun to play with, and I sure hope you'll love him and give him a good home! He's K-PAC!

*****EDIT*****: WONDERFUL NEWS!!! K-PAC has been adopted!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wolfpack whips Heels in Chapel Hill

Okay, I'm well aware that this has nothing to do with writing or rescued pets. I can't help it. This was a very good day to be an N.C. State Wolfpack fan, and I'm flat out enjoying every moment of it that I can.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rescue of the Week

This lovely young lady has been named NEIA by the wonderful folks at the Wake County SPCA Adoption Center. She is cute as can be, and the perfect "medium dog" size at around 45 lbs. or so.

*****EDIT*****: WONDERFUL NEWS!! Neia has been adopted!!!

Please, if you're looking for a forever friend and you DON'T live in Wake County, please consider adopting a shelter pet before you go and buy an animal. I don't know how, but shelter pets KNOW they've been rescued. I'm convinced of it. And because of this, they are the most loving and loyal animals you'll ever find. Just think about it...

Friday, November 14, 2008

"And I, I want to thank you..."

Last night was very cool for me. I met one of all-time favorite authors last year; a man whose work I hope mine might one day be compared favorably (it ain't there yet, I know that for sure). For those who don't know of Jeffery Deaver, you are missing out. Go out and read one of his books. NOW. I'll wait.

Back? Okay, good.

So anyway, I met him at the Barnes & Noble in Chapel Hill while he was on book tour for THE SLEEPING DOLL. I told him how encouraging it was to have read THE EMPTY CHAIR, because it told me people would buy thrillers based in North Carolina, which is what I hoped to write. He gave me some encouraging words and signed my copy of his book. I went home happy and, of course, loved the new book immensely. I also went to see Michael Connelly a few days later, another great writer to whom I would love to someday be compared, and he gave me encouragement and a metaphor for writing that I'll never forget. Both were great experiences for me personally.

Flash forward to last night. Mr. Deaver's on book tour again, this time for THE BODIES LEFT BEHIND, and I went to get his latest and have him sign it (this time the Raleigh B&N, btw). And he recognized me.

Let me say that again: A NYT Bestseller I met and spoke to for less than five minutes recognized me a year later.

Now, let's be honest here. I said it was nice to see him again, and when he said, "I thought I recognized you," I sorta filled in the gaps (eager dork that I am). So he could have been playing it off just to be nice.

Doesn't matter. That was still a very cool thing for him to do, and I will always remember it. He congratulated me on the story (yep, I told him. couldn't help it). It was just a great experience.

Which brings me to my point, if you couldn't figure it out. I'm not asking a question today, I'm just giving you guys an opportunity. I am routinely amazed and humbled by how open and friendly and helpful and encouraging the Mystery Communmity is to its readers (aspiring writer or no). And that goes for the mid-list authors and the big name bestseller alike. They are all even more gracious and giving than you could ever imagine.

So, this post, and the comments section, is for anyone who'd like to to say it readers to writers or writers to readers. Mystery Community Group Hug, I s'pose.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Weekly Feature!!

Okay, while I want this blog to bring readers and other writers together, I also want it to do some other good. You may (or may not) have noticed that there is a distinctly non-writer link on the blog-roll to the left. It's for the Wake County SPCA.

My wife and I are HUGE believers in rescue pets. Both of our girls were rescues, one from the Harnett County shelter, and the other from the Wake SPCA.

I admit, I'm a dog lover, and I'm allergic to cats. Cats seem to know this, and seek me out whenever they can to nuzzle me and make me sneeze and get whelts and such. Still, I am an animal lover in general, so I will try to help the kitties out too.

Here's what I'm going to do:

We go by the shelter now and again, and play with the puppies and dogs for a little bit, because the dogs seem to like the attention. But we can't afford another one, so we always have to leave them (and we're heartbroken every time, trust me).

So, I'm going to post one lovable, tender, you-can't-possibly-ignore-this-face rescue pet each week, in the hopes that I can help people find that friend they may not even know they need. It's so much more humane than buying a puppy because they are already spayed or neutered and have already experienced being abandoned in some way. Giving them a loving home is one of the greatest things you can do for these wonderful and loving guys and gals.

So without further ado, this week's Rescue Pet of the Week is a two-fer:

For more information about Buttercup, call:SPCA of Wake County at (919) 772-2326 Ask for information about animal ID number A034646

At the shleter they have named her Buttercup. She is adorable! Her Buddy, Brutus, is also sweet as can be. They have a real bond, and would do better going home together. Here's Brutus:

For more information about Brutus, call:SPCA of Wake County at (919) 772-2326 Ask for information about animal ID number A035850

I don't care who you are, you spend some time in a room with those two lovable (and gentle) giants, your heart will melt.

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Another [Great] one gone...."

I'm posting twice today (okay, this week) because I didn't get around to yesterday, and this is one that needs to be said.

I've never met Michael Crichton. And I'm really, really going to miss him.

I can still remember lying in bed in Avery Dorm at Lees-McRae College with this new book, AIRFRAME, thinking, "I'll read for an hour or so, then go to bed...early class tomorrow."

Noon the next day, I finished it and went, "WOW." I mean, the building of airplanes? Seriously, the man can make the politics behind the building of airplanes so entertaining that I physically can't put the book down???

Yep. And now he's gone.

I read over in the comments section of The Kill Zone that Mr. Joe Moore believed the things in JURASSIC PARK were possible after reading the book. I'm here to tell you, Mr. Crichton has me convinced, thoroughly, that Global Warming is never going to be the issue Gore makes it out to be, simply because of STATE OF FEAR.

Yes, he's that good a writer. Don't believe me? Fine.

Read it. You'll see. Farewell Mr. Crichton, Ms. Flinn, and Mr. Hillerman. The mystery community is hurting from the recent loss of you three, but we will miss you and all of your unrealized/gone-too-soon works most of all. God Bless.

"Do you remember that day?"

Stephen King once gave a lecture on writing, and someone was nice enough to put it up on Youtube for the rest of us. I watched a portion of it the other night, and he said something that stuck with me. I'm paraphrasing, but it was something to the effect of, "We all remember that first time, when we were reading something that had been published, and we went, 'Wow. That is truly awful...I can do better than that!'"

You know why that stuck with me? Because I can remember exactly where I was, and what I was reading. I had just finished two books I really liked, THE TWELFTH CARD and DECEPTION POINT. And then I read this third one, which I won't name, by a different author, who I won't name, and I thought, "Geez, this is from a NYT Bestseller? Hell, I can do better than that."

I know how arrogant that sounds. And I'm also smart enough to realize that I just finished my first novel while this writer is still hitting that NYT list consistently. Doesn't matter. I still think I can do better (although I've now realized that I couldn't do better my first time around...I think it's good, but I can do better than it, too).

So I guess my question to all of you is this:

1) If you're a writer, did you ever have that moment? I don't want you to name the book or author, but can you remember which specific book you were reading that made you say ,"Yep, I can do better"?

2) If you're a reader, have you ever hit one by a NYT Bestseller and thought, "Man, they mailed it in on that one"? Have you, even if you never intend to write anything, ever read a published novel from a respected and/or famous author and figured you could do better than that effort?

PS - Yes, I'm well aware that I am as yet unpublished, that someone will read this, then see my first published short story in Spinetingler and think, "Pfft, I could do better than that." And should I ever get a book deal, there will be aspiring writers out there who read it and think the same thing. I won't be upset or embarrassed. I'll just be excited to read what they have to write, because my thinking that is what finally got me to do it, and frankly I just think the world needs more good books.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

"I dunno man. That sounds like...a lotta work!"

NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. Every year, from November 1st to November 30th, people across the country will sit down and endeavor to write 50,000 word novels in one month. It's a phenomenal feat, because you have to write every day. All across the blogosphere over the next few days, you will read of people challenging one another, encouraging one another, cheering for one another.

I think it's great. I'm not doing it.

Please understand, I'm not taking some weird stand against NaNoWriMo. I really do think it's great, and I really would love to do it. But I'm not. I just finished my first draft of my first novel (you know, the one I think is great that agents will probably tell me was good training for future writings). I'm letting it breathe before going back and attacking the revision process. Perfect time to get started on the second in NaNoWriMo, yeah?


And here's why: 50,000 words and a complete storyline requires two things...AIC and the ability to fly by the seat of your pants.

AIC (ass in chair) I can do. "Pantsing" I can't.

I am a plotter through and through, and I just can't do the pants thing. I think those of you that can are far more creative than I. The sheer emotional stability to hang on breakneck as you trail yur protagonist, weeping as the sorrowful times hit, elated as your heores succeed, and all of this while cataloguing what happens to someone only you know and love. I can't do it. I'm too emotionally invested. I gotta know what happens, and when. If I don't, I'm all to pieces with concern, or guilt, or something.

As I said, you'll see lots of posts where people are encouraging each other to do NaNoWriMo. This isn't one of those. This is to console those of you who look at it and say, "Man, I really want to, but I don't think I can do it this time around."

HOWEVER...I've given you my reason (and it's not, "But I don't WANNA!!!"). If you aren't doing NaNoWriMo, tell me why. Those of you who are doing it are also more than welcome, btw. Tell us why you love it, and maybe it'll spark some of the I-can'ts to become I-wills.

Friday, October 31, 2008

"You know what they have now? Devil's Night greeting cards..."

I used to love Halloween. I mean I loved it like there was no other holiday. Every year I looked forward to what I would be. It was ridiculous the fervor with which I anticipated this holiday. And my reasoning was not a good one. See, most kids like All Hallows Eve because of the candy, or the trick-or-treating, or to see what cool costume they can wear.

Not me. I looked forward to Halloween because finally, for one day out of the year, I didn't have to be me.

Kinda pathetic, huh?

Even as a kid, I was such a useless, sappy little loser that I literally hated being me. A white, middle-class kid with a loving home, two sets of parents who loved me, and a pretty solid upbringing, and I thought I was such a waste because no one outside my family saw me as special. As better than everyone else in SOME way, like the jocks were at sports, and the super smart kids were in class, and the good-looking, smooth-talkers were with the girls (yep, even in middle school we had smooth-talkers).

I was ordinary. And I hated being ordinary.

I was so upset one Halloween in High School because I couldn't find the costume I wanted (that wasn't the only thing wrong, by a long shot), that I wound up spending about a month in a psychiatric ward for teens. All because I missed my chance to be special for a day.

Don't worry, I can now look back and see what a moron I was. Promise. But I bring this up for two reasons.
1) The's Halloween and people everywhere are talking about what a fun day it is. But I'm a cynic, so I don't do shiny and happy. Shiny and Happy are not exactly noir, now are they?

2) I see, every day, the same white upper-middle-class kids bemoaning their lives because the world won't function according to what they see as right, or appropriate. Won't think THEIR way is special. And more and more, I see people in the world taking these kids' side because those kids could be damaged.

Get a grip.

There are too many things all around this globe that are so much worse than what these kids deal with every day, and yet they can't get past their own perceptions and walk in someone else's shoes for a bit. If they could, there might be less whining and drama, and more hard work and production and appreciation for life going on.

So this is my PSA for the day, soapbox and all. If your son or daughter is in the same weepy, narcissistic-but-self-loathing state I was, then sit them down and help them find a little perspective.

And if you are one of these kids who sees yourself at the center of all that the world is sending crashing down on your head?
Take a deep breath, a look in the mirror, and make YOURSELF special. Stop waiting for the world to find you. Put yourself out and there and say, "Dammit, I'm special." Then, when the world ignores, laughs at, or degrades you for doing so...keep working to make yourself special. Keep doing it until that one day when someone you're not related to says, "Hey! You're right!"

And that'll just be the start. Sorta like writing and publication, huh?
Happy Halloween, everybody.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Where have you gone...?"

The mystery community has lost a great man. Tony Hillerman died yesterday at the age of 83. If you've never read a Hillerman novel, they are unlike any other in the wonderful depiction of modern New Mexico, Utah, and the colorful characters so easy to get to know and cherish.

I haven't read a lot of Hillerman, because like a fool I always figured, "Ah, I'll get around to it", just knowing there was always at least the chance there might be more. Now that can never be, and we are all the worse for it. A terrific mystery writer, gone.

God bless and God speed, Mr. Hillerman.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Where the Hell did that come from?"

All writers (yep, even the unpublished ones) get asked--when it's discovered they are a writer--the same question: "So, like, where do you get your ideas from?" The answer is always a variation (sometimes nice, sometimes smartassed) of the same word:

Still, as a reader I think people are maybe looking for something more specific. Stephen King once wrote about the "What If?" questions he comes up with, and the books are his answers. I think he talked about it in ON WRITING, but I'm not positive. Anyway, I'm betting that that's closer to what readers are actually asking about--and any readers out there can feel free to correct me in the comments if they disagree.

So I figured this might be a good chance to get people talking specifically about individual stories and books, and from whence the ideas for them came. A good example would be Michael Connelly's THE OVERLOOK. When he was in Greensboro on tour for it, he said that a story he'd been told about radioactive material in North Carolina being stolen had led him to Bosch's next case, and if you've read THE OVERLOOK you see where that wound up.

If you haven't, do it. Now. No seriously, like walk out of your job and go buy the book.

Okay, not really. Wait til after work.

Anyway...I guess I'll start, it being my blog and all that good stuff. My book started with an idea for a villain, a guy who wanted to deflect suspicion from what he was really doing by taking advantage of the recent fears about religious extremism. I thought, "what better way to cover your tracks than to play on what EVERYONE seems afraid of these days. And after the worldwide lunacy over Salman Rushdie, and later Dan Brown, I figured why not create a writer who ALSO likes to play on those emotions (unlike these two, who I've never met, my writer is an unsympathetic jerk about it). This creates conflict for the reader, because he or she is unsure if:
A) the writer is the villain
B) they're okay with him being the villain
C) the writer is the next victim, and
D) they want him saved if he is

I love it when authors twist me up in moral knots like that, so I figured there had to be some readers who loved things like that which made them think beyond the work itself. If I'm wrong, well I guess it'll have to be the next book that starts my career rolling.
Or the one after that, or the one after that, or....

So tell me, if you're a reader, what do you REALLY mean when you ask where ideas come from? And if you're an author, can you pinpoint anything more specific regarding the idea or the original impetus for writing any particular novel or story?

Friday, October 17, 2008

"But where should I put you?"

Well, I still haven't come down from the high of finding out I would have a short story published for the first time. That said, my novel is still a WIP, and I have no idea if it will be the one to break through, or if that'll be my next (or the one after, or the one after, or...). So I am really asking this next question moreso than answering it:

Where does a mystery writer want his or her books shelved?

I know the smartass answer, but I'm being serious. Last week I went into B&N and picked up a DVD. I was hoping to get one for my wife to use in her class, but it hadn't come in yet. Anyway, while I was there I had a few minutes to kill so I thought I'd check the shelves for some of the writers I'd like to eventually mimic. I looked primarily for members of the Murderati, along with some other up-and-comers, and I found something interesting...

They were in a couple of different locations. Some were exclusively in the NEW FICTION section, some were with mystery, and some were with general fiction.

This got me to thinking, "where is it better to be shelved?"

My first thought would be mystery, because a mystery-lover would expect to find a mystery- (and even a thriller-) writer there. But Now I'm not so sure. Because names like JT Ellison and Brett Battles were in general fiction, along with the likes of Jeffery Deaver and Michael Connelly. Now I'm well aware that Mr. Battles's books could be considered thrillers, but Ms. Ellison's seem like mysteries to me, as do most of Mr. Deaver's and Mr. Connelly's.

So does being housed in General Fiction mean you've "really made it"???

I can't imagine that's true, because Sue Grafton definitely has, and she and Janet Evanovich both have sweeping sections on the MYSTERY shelf.

So published authors, I'm honestly asking here:

Where would you rather be placed (other than front and center with a placard that says, "BUY ME!" like J.A. Konrath's latest book trailer)?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The dangers of a technologically deficient teacher with an email account

Okay, so I don't like to bash a colleague if I can help it, but this is getting ridiculous.

On Monday, I opened an email from someone advertising something for elementary students. I teach High School. I checked, and the original sender had clearly made a mistake. She had emailed EVERY school in the county, not just the elementary schools. Not the brightest thing, but a simple mistake, no big deal. I deleted it and moved on.

Shortly thereafter I got several emails in succession. They were all replies, but I got them because the first person had hit "REPLY TO ALL", left the subject line the same, and wrote "please remove me from this list." They thought it was some random junk email. No big deal, but they clicked Reply to All. Again, it's a mistake, but a costly one. I have since gotten CLOSE TO A HUNDRED EMAILS asking me (and everyone else on this list) to also please remove them from the list, it's three days later, and we're still getting them!!!

People, are you serious? We have to work so hard to combat the ridiculous stereotype that those who can't do, teach. Do you really not get why this is wrong? I'd wager every one of your students, failing or passing, repeating or otherwise, would have handled the situation better than those of you who are STILL doing this.


Originally posted October 13, 2008: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, some variation of all three???

I've recently seen a lot of different people blogging about genre. For me, this focuses on mystery/suspense/thriller. The other day, Nathan Bransford blogged about his definition of each, and it got me thinking...what would my current WIP be?

See, based on Mr. Bransford's definitions, my work would kind of cover two of the three. It's got action (has to, or it would put me to sleep, and I'm writing it!).

It also has more than one mystery. So is it a mystery, or a thriller?

Well, what would you call some of Patterson's early Alex Cross works?

What about Jeffery Deaver's stuff, like Garden of Beasts or The Sleeping Doll?

How about Crais's The Watchmen, or Zoe Sharp's Charlie Fox novels, or Brett Battles's Quinn novels, or fellow North Carolinian J.D. Rhoades's Jack Keller series?

Yes, I realize it's incredibly egotistical to bring up these names in conjunction with my own unpublished stuff, but these are the people I idolize. I think you have to look at your work and try to see it next to the top caliber authors out there. So you know what? I would call most all of these mystery/thrillers. And that's my WIP as well (unless/until an agent tells me otherwise, that is).

What about you? Does your work cross more than one genre or subgenre? Have a romantic suspense, or a mystery/sci-fi?

Originally posted Oct. 7, 2008: CELEBRATION TIME, BABY!!!

Today the sun is shining just a little bit brighter. The air smells a little bit sweeter. And I feel a little taller...5'9" here I come!!

Why?Because I got an email last night from Spinetingler Magazine. Apparently the guest editor (Jack Getze, and a HUGE thank you to you, sir!) -- who is now a permanent editor, I've been informed -- read my submission and liked it. He wants it for the Winter 2009 edition of the magazine. For those of you unfamiliar with Spinetingler, it's a suspense fiction magazine where some pretty darn good writers have logged early tales. Names like Bill Cameron, J.D. Rhoades, and J.T. Ellison. And they're giving me a shot.


Okay, okay, sorry. I just had to get a little excitement out there. It's just such a relief when someone who's never met you essentially says, "yep, you can do this." My wish for every single person who reads this is to find that same sense of encouragement and support in their chosen profession.

Have a great day, and may the sun shine a little brighter for you!!Oh, for a look at the other side of the coin, they're discussing bad reviews over at Murderati. Check it out!

Originally posted Oct. 2, 2008: Ahh, Thursdays....

Interestingly enough, I've had a decent day. I got caught up on a good bit of grading because my student teacher had the majority of the classes today. It's a really great feeling to get all of that work off of your back.

Unfortunately, I still can't take the time to write tonight, because I have just a little bit of grading left and then I'm going to watch some playoff baseball. Nothing like October, even when my favorite team is halfway across the country. Considering they're based completely on the other coast, I guess I should feel lucky.

Anyway, I just thought I'd talk a little bit about life as a teacher and a writer. Depending on what you teach, it can be interesting/difficult. I'd love to give all kinds of advice to unpublished writers out there, but I am one myself. As such, my advice probably isn't worth much.

But as a teacher, I can tell you that it can be really tough to maintain a marriage (even when your spouse also teaches), be a writer, and be a successful teacher all at the same time. And here in my home county it's even worse. Here's why:

These days, we're so brazenly politically correct that we can't let a student feel bad. Even if they didn't do their work because they were just plain lazy, we can't hold them accountable. We (and by we I mean teachers and administrators at the school level, NOT the county level) just have to work harder at motivating our students. And we also need to work to be better teachers, because the whole state isn't doing as well as our county, and therefore we are the problem. It's complicated, I know.

Then there's the whole writing thing. If I didn't have more homework each night than my students, it wouldn't be a problem for me to write til my heart's content. But that's not how it works. And when I get to school at 6:50am and don't leave until somewhere between 4pm and 6pm, then have to go home and be a good husband lest we both go insane and grow apart from all the grading, well writing 500-2000 words a day is daunting.

So I write when I can, and it's never as much or for as long as I'd like. J. A. Konrath has talked several times about the myth of "you must be disciplined and write every day!" and I appreciate a published author letting the rest of us unwashed masses of mystery know that it's okay if life just muscles in once in a blue moon. If not, we'd all spend our every waking moments engrossed in weird tales of serial killers and decapitation and bullets whizzing and....

hey, wait a minute....

Okay, so I guess I'll just stick with this one

So yeah, from now on this will be my only blogging home.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Not here...never here....

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