Monday, August 31, 2009

Beginnings

Today my life is all about beginnings. It's back to school day for my daughters. I've survived another summer.

The first day of school has always been my version of New Year's Day. That seems even more relevant this year as we haven't been living in Pittsburgh long.

For the short amount of time we have been here Pittsburgh has become my hometown in a real way. I'm sure all of you natives have heard this before. Pittsburgh is friendly and unique. And it's beautiful. I was sure that when I feel in love with a place it would be somewhere in the desert southwest, probably in Arizona. But then I met Pittsburgh. I still get a thrill when I drive out of the Fort Pitt tunnel, onto the bridge, and there is the city spread out before me. A city I'd grown up learning was filthy and depressed. And it is none of those things!

I could go on and on about the sports teams, the summit and all of the things that are obviously wonderful about this place. But what really makes it great is the people. So much so that I've been writing a book based here. And I like to think that Pittsburgh itself is a terrific character.

When speaking of love and new beginnings I ought to mention that previously I was writing in the romance genre. Nothing wrong with that. I plan to continue with it. One night last spring I was awakened by a new character telling me her story. She's a private eye here in Pittsburgh. So I'm writing her story in first person, another first for me.

I was published as a journalist and a poet in a long ago previous life. And I trained to become a romance novelist. Now I am embarking on a new career with writing suspense. I'm even using a pen name. So I am happy to introduce myself as Sherry Dare, resident of Pittsburgh and suspense novelist.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Short Stories



Working Stiffs welcome writer KB Inglee today!
by KB Inglee

I love writing short stories.

My reading choice has always been short story anthologies. I would go through the table of contents and start with the shortest story and work my way up to the longer ones.

When I began writing seriously I was of two minds. I knew novels were the way to go, but I soon found myself using shorter form to fill in the back story of my series characters. When I reread my first novel manuscript I realized that it was actually a series of short stories. So I gave in. I am a short story writer.

For some reason I had the idea that short stories would be easier to sell than novels. I can’t say I was wrong about that. No fiction is easy to sell. But it is pretty hard to get a short story placed, and paying markets are few and far between.

I learned quickly that each anthology had to have a least one noted author. I was surprised to find that the best story in the book was not by the noted author but by someone I had never read. The top notch novel writers didn’t write the top notch stories. It is clear that it takes different skills to write a good short than a good novel.

When I go to book parties, I have to carry four books with me. I have ten pages in each book. I often wish I had a whole book to call my own. From time to time I think about doing my own anthology.

It takes me three days to write a short story. Not necessarily three days in a row. The story I am working on now started with several hours of writing to set the scene, introduce the characters, and start the action. Three days later I wrote the end. I know who did it and why. I am still working on the middle, how my detective gets from the beginning to the end. I know the clue I need to plant but I am not sure where to plant it. One morning I will wake up with the answer. Until then the story will wait for me.

I do as much research for my stories as I do for my novels. Many of the stories I have written were based on a single non-fiction book. Each story is informed by the extensive research I have done on the time period, background of my characters, and the setting. The short story published in Chesapeake Crime 3 was written after nearly a year’s work on a single historical reenactment, Washington’s march to Yorktown for the final battles of the Revolution.


KB Inglee does historical interpretation at two gristmills in Delaware and Pennsylvania. She writes historical fiction, mostly short stories. Wearing the clothes, taking care of heritage animals and using water powered heavy machinery gives her a feel for the time period that makes her writing more vivid. Her stories, set between the mid 1700 and the late 19th century, appear in several anthologies, including Death Knell IV and Chesapeake Crime 3. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, and a local writing group Written Remains. She lives with her family in Northern Delaware.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Things That Drive Me Crazy

(and yes I know I don't have far to go.)

by Joyce

One of the many things that irritates the hell out of me are the commercials on the radio to erase your credit card debt. You know--the ones that begin, "Do you have over $10,000 in credit card debt?" There's only one that I can listen to without steam coming out of my ears, and that's the one where the debtor actually has to pay his debt.

I heard a new one yesterday, though, that made me want to scream. It begins the same way-- with the $10,000 in debt thing--then some guy says, "I beat the system!"

Wait. It gets worse.

A woman comes on next and states, "The credit card companies are doing everything in their power to KEEP YOU IN DEBT! We'll eliminate your debt and you won't have to pay anything to the credit card company!"

Silly me. I was under the impression that if you bought something, you paid for it. I was taught that you should live within your means. If you can't afford it, DON'T BUY IT!

Boy, am I stupid.

When I was a kid, my mother had one credit card--back then it was called a Charge-o-plate. It was for the Gimbel's department store. We used to take a bus to downtown Pittsburgh and we only shopped in Gimbel's basement--where the bargains were. I don't think I realized until I was a teen that Gimbel's even had an upstairs. I don't know if my mother ever had a balance on her Charge-o-plate, but my guess would be no. She was the Queen of Frugal.

I realize the interest rates on credit cards are ridiculously high. You know what my solution is? Everyone get a pen and write this down.

I'll wait.

Ready? Okay. You only charge what you can afford to pay off when the credit card statement comes. I know--I'm a genius. You never pay any interest this way. And if you're like me, and have a certain card that shall remain nameless, you get cash back. In other words, they pay ME instead of the other way around.

Why is it that instead of rewarding people for doing the right things, we have to keep bailing out everyone who is irresponsible? Take the Cash for Clunkers B.S. I know it's helped the car dealers, but really. We're rewarding the wrong people here. We're rewarding irresponsibility. And does anyone else wonder what's going to happen a couple of months down the road when some of the people who bought cars figure out they can't make their car payments? Some of them were driving clunkers for a reason.

But at least the car dealers can repossess the cars. Credit card companies don't have that option. Maybe they should.

That's my rant for the week.

Does anyone agree with me? Are we rewarding people for being irresponsible? What would be your solution? Feel free to chime in and tell us all what drives you crazy, too.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Unattained Goals

by Annette Dashofy

It’s time to ‘fess up. I failed.

Sort of.

Back in May, fresh from Pennwriters Conference Coordinator’s Hell, I came here and made a pledge. Set a goal. I vowed to have my first draft completed by mid August.

As I look at my calendar, I can see it’s well beyond MID August. And, no, I haven’t finished my draft.

So, yes, I failed in meeting that particular deadline. But I hardly consider myself a failure. I’m a whole lot closer to the end than I was a few months ago. I’ve been steadily plugging along and if I were to guess, I’d say I have roughly 75 pages left to write.

The other reason I don’t consider myself a failure is my list of excuses: Edits on a short story that is still very much in the running for the Guppies anthology. In fact, I have another set of those due in a little over a week. THAT deadline I will most definitely meet. I’ve also been sending out queries for articles in the hopes of generating some income. Two of those story ideas have been green-lighted. Yay!

Several other Working Stiffs and back bloggers chimed in on the goal deadline thing. How’s it going? Did anyone meet the mid August deadline? And I believe a couple of you (Will? Elizabeth?) had planned on the end of June. Well? Did you or didn’t you? And if you didn’t, did you at least make more progress on the manuscript than you might have without the deadline?

Because I think that’s the real reason I set those things for myself. In the pressure of the effort, I accomplish more than I might without it.

So here goes again. My new goal…my new deadline for completing the first draft…is the end of October. And, yes, I know I have an impending trip to Bouchercon in the midst of it all, which will eat a big chunk out of my writing time.

Guess I’d better get to work then! Write on!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Joy of the Hunt

By Martha Reed

Everybody talks about the process of writing but I don’t hear many folks talking about the fun of it. I have to think that most writers to find fun in it or at least satisfaction because otherwise why would you do it? It certainly doesn’t pay much, any applause you get is fleeting and writing has to be the most obscure way to get close to fame that I can think of besides singing on a CD of Gregorian chants. So why do it?

I know why I do and I have done enough of it two recognize two significant stages in the process: 1) about halfway through after I’ve got the rough manuscript and I’ve started the actual writing bit, filling in the transitions, honing the characters and building a plot. This is the most workmanlike portion of the process but I know from experience that I’m really into it when I hit this stage – there’s no going back now and 2) about fifty pages out when I can see the finish line and I realize: holy crap! I’m actually going to finish this thing. The corollary here of course is the hopeful tag line: and it’s really good!

Luckily for me I hit item #2 last Saturday. I thought I was finished with my manuscript back in May but I went to the PennWriters conference, met a real old school homicide detective and realized halfway through his scotch at the bar that my police Lieutenant was way to wimpy to stand up to a real investigation so it was back to the drawing board. I don’t complain about the extra work because I am thankful for the insights because it made my character better, and that’s always a good thing. So I sat back down and started plowing and low and behold I finished Chapter Twenty and the end is in sight. (And I really like it).

The other odd thing I keep going back to is where the story ideas come from. I do read a lot and I know my tired old brain is processing because some nights I can’t turn it off. What gets me is those moments when I open a notebook from 2003 and I have to scribbled items: This one is about John. He needs to investigate. And Watch the Whistler. Now what freaks me out about these notes is that yes, John needed to investigate but how did I know that in 2003 five years before I started writing the dang thing and Watch the Whistler who for the first 200 pages of my new novel is a shadow character but of course he’s the one who pops out in Chapter 20 and focuses the entire novel.

Shaazooey. Sometimes this stuff freaks me out a little. Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever found a note to yourself that now has a meaning it could never have had when you wrote it? Do tell. Curious minds want to know.


PS. How about this one? I set out to write 500 words and when I finished the sentence above I ran word count and it’s exactly 500 words without any editing. Okay, I’m going to stop now.

Friday, August 21, 2009

To Marple or not to Marples, Is Not The Question. Which is?






By Pat Gulley

And so PBS Masterpiece Mystery has finished another version of Miss Marple, though why they had to redo so many of the stories the previous two had already done escapes my reasoning. Of course, why they add Poirot and Miss Marple to stories that were never theirs to begin with is also a big question, but that’s for another time.

Which Miss Marple is your favorite? Mine is Joan Hickson because to me she looks the most like the one Agatha Christie created and wrote about. Fluffy, small, frail looking, and blustery in speech, though she always seemed to make herself clear—maybe not to the detectives—but certainly to us. She looked like every little old lady everyone looks at once or twice in their lives and thinks: senile, dim, gaga, helpless, or desperately in need of our assistance moving across the room. And as we soon learned when reading Miss Marple stories: Dump, fool us! And though Joan didn’t play her to the end when she was forbidden any kind of heavy activity like her gardening, we knew she’d get there with that clever mind of hers still as sharp as ever.

I should clarify my statement by saying I never saw Barbara Mullen or Grace Fields, and I don’t expect there will ever be a way of seeing Barbara’s performance, though maybe, just maybe Netflix might come up with a copy of the 1956 version of A Murder Is Announced with Gracie Fields from Goodyear Television Playhouse. It could happen. Googling Goodyear Playhouse brought up a lot of facts, but no pictures or a place to see the adaptation preformed.
Margaret Rutherford’s characterization was either her own idea or some scriptwriter’s idea of what the ignorant public expected. The dim witted sidekick doing all the grunt work apparently was mandatory because the only detectives we would recognize was in the Sherlock Holmes vain. Angela Lansbury and Helen Hayes did fair jobs, but they were offered as elderly women of the time, with all that went with the current sensibility, not to mention what suited the style and looks of the actress.

Geraldine McEwan did a pretty good job, though the back story added to Marple’s past stunk to high heaven for me because Agatha told us about Jane’s upbringing and there was no love affair. Probably in keeping with the current assumption that insists the ignorant public requires some sex in every story they see on TV or in the movies. And though adding Tommy and Tuppence in later life into one of Geraldine’s stories was interesting, I’m sure you are all aware of the fact that it is Miss Marple who was actually added into that Tommy and Tuppence story. So, while we are at it, just why did Geraldine’s stories all seem to be a combination of two books? Who gives free reign to writers to do that? Or is it the production company that makes them do it? Inquiring minds want to know! At least major Agatha fans do. (See another time above.)

And now we have Julia McKenzie. She looks straight out of the 50s, in her tidy hat and tweed suit, but much younger than the Jane Marple of the books. The thing that bothered me about most of Julia’s stories is that she seemed to have been dropped into them out of the blue. No rhyme or reason for her to be there in the room or stay there. In one, she was hiding behind a shutter and sneakily listening. And the fact that the stories chosen were all ones we’ve seen several times before, we knew they could have been done better. So they weren’t exactly fun to watch. Agatha wrote some good stories for the 50s and 60s (she took her stories straight out of the headlines of the day, you know) so McKenzie should be able to do a tolerable job for the times. I wish they’d do Third Girl—it’s about roommates—definitely one of my favorites because it reminds me of my time in NYC with roommates. So we’ll see, but she isn’t replacing Joan Hickson anytime soon for me.

Here’s a list of the Marples.
Julia McKenzie 2009
Geraldine McEwan 2004
Joan Hickson 1984-1992
Gracie Fields 1956
Helen Hayes 83 85
Angela Lansbury 80
Margaret Rutherford early 50s?
Barbara Mullen 1949, so said Mystery Scene Magazine.

Which is your favorite, and why?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Knock, knock. Who's there?

By Paula Matter

fun·ny

ADJECTIVE:

Causing laughter or amusement.
Intended or designed to amuse.
Strangely or suspiciously odd; curious.
Tricky or deceitful.

What makes you laugh? Do you like slapstick? Puns? Play on words? Smart ass rejoinders? Wit?

Do you prefer profound over profane?

One of my co-workers expects a joke from me every day I see her. I have a knack for remembering jokes, so my well has not yet run dry. Probably goes back to my days of bartending. I have another co-worker who loves to tell me jokes. Unfortunately, 99% of them are in my well already. But I laugh because it’s what she wants.

I love making people laugh. I find tremendous joy in it. I could share my favorite joke with you now, but it’d take too long to write. Stop me at a conference or some other writerly event sometime and I’ll be happy to share.

Here's one of my favorite short silly jokes:

Why don't seagulls fly around bays?

Because then they'd be bagels.

What’s your favorite joke? Your favorite funny story? Favorite bumper sticker?

Let’s make each other laugh today.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Realtors® Writing

by Jennie Bentley

Welcome to the Stiffs on this lovely Wednesday morning, when I’ve booted Annette out of the desk chair and taken over. I’m here with my fellow Realtor® and writer Nancy Lynn Jarvis, a real estate practitioner in California, to talk a little about her books, THE DEATH CONTINGENCY and BACKYARD BONES.

Here’s Nancy’s bio:

Twenty year veteran of the real estate industry, Nancy Lynn Jarvis, is writing murder mysteries instead of selling houses. Real estate is an interesting business, the stress level involved in buying or selling a home ranks right after death and divorce. People reveal a lot about themselves during the process. The business attracts its share of colorful practitioners, too. Their stories and Nancy’s experiences provide the settings where her Realtor and part-time sleuth, Regan McHenry, works while she unravels mysteries.

Nancy, would you give us the elevator pitch for the series, please?

The characters in my books have secrets. Protagonist Regan McHenry is good at unraveling them. She has been compared to Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple because she solves crimes by observing and seeing connections and asking questions the police overlooked. You’ll have fun figuring things out right along with her as you read. As the San Francisco Examiner says, the books are “smart, funny mysteries.”

Doesn’t that sound interesting, fellow Working Stiffs?

I’ve got a real estate mystery of my own coming out in June, by the way. Y’all know about the Do-It-Yourself home renovation mystery series, featuring designer turned renovator Avery Baker, and her boyfriend, hot handyman Derek Ellis. This is something different. The book is called A CUTTHROAT BUSINESS, and stars Savannah Martin, new-minted Realtor® and Southern Belle in Nashville, Tennessee, who stumbles over a dead body in a house she’s showing to a potential client. I’ll give you three guesses as to cause of death.

But enough about me. Nancy, tell us a little about how you came to write BACKYARD BONES and THE DEATH CONTINGENCY. Were these your first books, or have you written others? Have you always been writing, or is this a more recent dream?

I never had aspirations to be a writer. Starting The Death Contingency was almost accidental, really. My husband and I decided to experiment with being retired for a while when the real estate market tanked. To beat being bored, he built a spectacular greenhouse and a 16’X22’ foot office from the ground up — I decided it would be an interesting puzzle solving game to see if I could write a mystery. I had a beginning and ending in mind and a stockpile of real estate related experiences ranging from the humorous to the bizarre to use as background material and not a clue what to do to weave them into a book.

To get started, I read Tony Hillerman and reread my favorite Agatha Christies for structure, made the protagonists me and my husband and other characters people I knew, and began acting out the day’s scenes and dialogue alone in my office each morning. Over time the characters developed personalities separate from the people who inspired them. The Death Contingency was a learning experience; large portions of it had to be rewritten several times.

By the time I started Backyard Bones I had discovered the importance of outlines, at least loose outlines, and time-lines of who-knew-what-when which are critical for mysteries, so the first draft was much easier.

The books are different, though. Pacing for The Death Contingency is slower and the book more introspective since the amateur sleuth thing is new to Regan, the protagonist. She can’t quite believe what’s going on, she keeps hoping she’s mistaken, and she’s reluctant to trust her instincts. Backyard Bones begins with a Regan who, while she may change her mind as to who she thinks the murderer is, is much more surefooted in her sleuthing.

Those sound great! And way to go developing the main character over the course of the series!

So tell us a little more about Regan. You said she’s based on you, but that she developed a personality of her own as you wrote about her. Share a few things that you and she have in common, and a few ways in which you're absolutely different.

She’s curious, impatient, and determined. She’s a bit of a crusader. She cares a great deal about her family, friends, and clients. Those aspects of her are like me. But she’s much more daring, younger and thinner, and more obsessive than I am. She’s also a lot better at thinking on her feet than I am, especially in stressful situations.

Yeah, Savannah is younger and thinner than I am, too. What’d be the point otherwise, right?

So does Regan get up to any trouble in the books that you've been in yourself? Does she do things you wouldn't do in a million years?

The murder story lines in my books are made up, but other than that, the things that happen to Regan have happened to me. Occasionally I’ll get an email from a reader saying, while they liked the book, they thought a particular event wasn’t believable. I love responding to those emails, although one man emailed back that he still didn’t believe me.

I’ll bluff like Regan sometimes does, but I wouldn’t pursue a criminal like she does. I’d be afraid I might be right and that the murderer would realize I was on to them and come after me.


Definitely. Although Savannah tends to fall into trouble more than she seeks it out. Some poeple are just like that, you know? She causes things to happen, but not on purpose.

So what was the hardest part of writing the books for you? Was it the same thing for each book, or did it vary? What did you do to overcome it? Do you have a favorite part?

The hardest part of writing for me is creating an unpleasant scene like finding a body or being in a tight situation with the bad guy. When I write, I’m really in the moment and sharing what’s happening to Regan. I get upset. I’ve been known to cry while I’m writing.
I haven’t figured out a way to overcome that problem, but I may not ever want to.

My favorite parts of writing are coming up with the Dave character’s terrible jokes and puns and creating the characters I completely make up like Jerry in BACKYARD BONES and Mrs. Rosemont in THE DEATH CONTINGENCY. As I was writing about her, I ran into Mrs. Rosemont, a very unusual looking and completely made-up elderly woman, in the grocery store. I was afraid to talk to her because I had her voice perfectly imagined and I didn’t want to risk ruining it, but I did silently follow her to watch how she moved. Evidently I wasn’t a very good stalker, though. She finally got so troubled by my staring at her that she abandoned her grocery cart and hurried out of the store.

That’s funny! I amuse myself by following people around sometimes, too, just to get the feel for what tailing someone must be like. Just in case I ever want to write a PI novel.

So what has most surprised you about being a writer?

Two things have surprised me about writing. The first is how much fun it is. I love all aspects of it: writing, publicizing, and especially talking to people at book signings. I’ve met many interesting people I would never have known if I hadn’t written the books.

The other thing that’s even more of a surprise to me is that even though I have an outline and have created a life history for all the characters so I understand them, sometimes the characters tell me things about themselves I didn’t know. In BACKYARD BONES I had intended to have a different character be the murderer, but when it came time to write the unveiling, as it were, I knew I had been wrong about the killer’s identity. I thought I could go back and change a few things and add a few clues to make the new killer work since the book presents many suspects, but when I went back to make the changes I discovered the clues were already in place. Evidently the killer had been telling me about his guilt all along and I missed it until then.


That’s happened to me, too! And isn’t it fun when the characters correct you that way?

If you could give one piece of advice to the prepublished writers reading this, what would it be, and why?

Edit, edit, edit. When you think your book is ready for prime-time, edit it again and get a good copy editor to go over it, too. Even if your story is wonderful, your reader won’t think it is if they get distracted by mistakes.

This is very true. As someone said—I have no idea who—editing is where the real writing begins. And as it happens, it’s my least favorite part of the process, but a very necessary one. I'd also recommend making sure other people get some input into the process, as it's soooo easy to become too close to our own work, and to not see it clearly.

So there you have it, fellow Stiffs: my friendly chat with Nancy Lynn Jarvis about the Regan McHenry books. We’ll both be hanging around the blog today, if you have anything you want to ask us. And big thanks to Annette for relinquishing her Wednesday!

See you next time!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dog Days of Summer....

By Pat Remick

The summer heat has finally reached New England and it's too hot to write. But it seems appropriate during these "dog days of summer" to talk about a recent article that said oxytocin levels almost double in people – and in dogs -- when humans talk to and stroke their dog friends. Beta endorphins and dopamine levels supposedly go up, too.

So, in the interest of science, Buddy and I are increasing our efforts to generate those feel-good chemicals so we won't mind the heat so much. Oxytocin also is believed to be involved in social recognition, bonding and the formation of trust, as well as generosity.

More reasons to love dogs.

I haven’t always been a dog person. Buddy, the 18-pound Lhasa Apso pictured here, was the first dog in my life in over 30 years. He's king of our house now, but apparently that’s OK for the humans who live here, too. According to the article about Meg Daley Olmert’s book “Made for Each Other: The biology of the human-animal bond,” we feel better about ourselves if we have animals in our lives. I'll try to remember that when Buddy wakes me up at 5 a.m. by barking at the wind.

There have been a number of reports this summer that involve dogs and scientific research. My favorites were the studies that found not only are dogs smart, they're smarter than cats.

According to one report, the average dog is at least as smart as a human 2-year-old and can understand up to 250 words and gestures, do basic calculations, and count to 5. The research also shows a dog's social skills are at the teenage level. Having raised two teenagers, I can assure you a dog is far more sociable than a surly teenager who responds in monosyllables.

The research generating the most controversy among cat lovers was conducted by Dr. Britta Osthaus of England's Canterbury Christ Church University. She tested the ability of cats and dogs to retrieve unreachable food from under a plastic screen with three different scenarios: one string with a treat attached, two parallel strings with just one baited and two crossed strings with food attached to only one. All the cats could do the single string test, but none consistently chose the string with the treat when there were two strings to choose from – unlike the dogs. Cat lovers claim the felines just weren't motivated and don't care what people think but dogs are always trying to please humans. (That would come as a surprise to my husband who is having a difficult time persuading Buddy to go outside in the heat for his evening constitutional as I write this.)

Whether you prefer canines or felines, you probably aren't shocked by the results of an Associated Press-Petside.com poll that found half of all American pet owners consider their pets as much a part of the family as any other member of the household while another 36 percent say their pet is a member of the family, but not a full member. Most also admit to feeding them human food, nearly half give them human names and a third let them sleep in their bed.

I do give Buddy human food and I suppose his name could be considered human. But I vowed I'd never let a dog sleep in our bed. Don't even try to guess how long that lasted.

But now that I know there are medical benefits from having the dog nearby so I can talk to him and pet him to increase our oxytocin levels, I don't feel quite so guilty about it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chillin' & Grillin'


It's Sunday evening. A long day of driving is over, the thunderstorms have passed and I'm sitting out in my screened-in porch (call it a 3 seasons room) watching bratwurst sizzle on the grill while Spoon beats out an alternative tune on my stereo. My mind just returned to a novel I just picked up after a long wait in my to be read pile. Since this novel is by an author I know and like, I'll not mention names to protect the not-so-innocent.

The novel starts out like a good suspense should. Heavy on the action. In fact it starts with a woman in the hands of a killer. The writing is explicit. Details honed to a fine edge. It's like being a voyeur peeking through a thin slit in the blinds.

Excuse me a second while I grab my tongs, slide open the screen door and flip my brats.

Thanks for waiting. Now back to that first chapter.

The story begins with a woman jogging in the park. As she turns into a wooded area, she hears footsteps behind her and quickens her pace. The author finely crafts the scene, making you feel the trepidation of the woman as her instincts tell her something is wrong... Something bad is about to happen.

I'm completely drawn in. I'm hooked. This is going to be a great read.

EXCEPT! As the knife is about to plunge into the terrified woman, she wakes from a dream.

DAMN, DAMN, DAMN.

I felt like I had been sucker punched. Great action with details woven in that surely come into play through the rest of the novel and I want to throw it against the wall. Yes, I feel like I've been cheated. My mind snaps back to that prime time soap opera Dallas and the 1985/86 "DREAM" season when Bobby Ewing died.



I remember how cheated I felt then, and I feel no less cheated now. Maybe being a writer has made me too critical a reader, but I just feel like sometimes authors take the easy way out. Someone as talented as the author in question shouldn't have to resort to gimmicks to start a novel with a bang. Of course, maybe the dream is intended to be part of the story, but at this point, I'm not sure I'll pick the damn thing back up.

I need to sauce up my brats with a little Sweet Baby Ray's, so I ask you what you think? Cheating or not?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Guess You're Stuck With Me

by Joyce

I guess none of the other Working Stiffs wanted to take me up on the offer to fill the empty spot today, so you're stuck with me.

Heh.

Hmm. What to write about.

Okay. How about this.

Nah. That won't work.

Maybe ... that won't work, either.

Sigh.

Okay. How about if everyone tells three things that people might not know about them--kind of a shortened version of that thing that was going around awhile back. I'll start.
  1. My maiden name is Oliphant.
  2. My parents only knew each other for two weeks when they got married.
  3. When I was in high school I wanted to be a doctor.
Your turn!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mulling

Working Stiffs welcomes guest blogger Simon Wood today. Appropriately, one of his books is titled WORKING STIFFS.

MULLING

by Simon Wood

"What are you doing?"

"Something."

"Well, it doesn't look like something."

I had a lot of conversations like this in school with teachers that usually led to one of those "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" kind of lectures. Sadly, my footwear never came with "bootstraps," so needless to say my school years weren't my best. Daydreaming was an issue that I didn't shift until I went to college. Now the daydreaming is back--in career form (of sorts). Daydreaming is even tax deductible. You just can't daydream without a bag of Ruffles in your hand.

Now that one book is in the bag and I'm embarking on the next, I'm in that daydreaming phase, where I'm piecing ideas, themes, scenes and other stuff together before I start outlining.

Normally, when Julie comes home at night, I'm banging away at the keyboard and she knows her little man has been hard at it since 9 a.m. At the moment, when she comes home, I'm stretched out in front of the TV with a cat or two on my chest.

"What have you been up to today?"

"Working."

"It doesn't look like you're working. It looks like you're vegging out."

"I'm being conceptual. I'm forming a story, wrapping my head around the idea. You know me, measure twice, cut once."

"So it's been a DVD day."

"No, it hasn't." I sit up and a kitten slithers off my chest. "I have been working. I'm mulling things through is all."

"Simon, what's that pile of Dr. Who DVDs sitting on the floor?"

"They help me mentally cleanse my palate."

"And this empty Ruffles bag?" she says, picking it up.

"Brain food." I snatch the bag from Julie and aim a sleepy kitten at her. "Julie, you have no idea about the creative process. I am mulling. Mulling is an important part of the writing process. Now move, I can't see the TV."

Julie's an angel, but she can be mean sometimes--don't you think?

The problem is that we live in a quantifiable world. We need results. Tactile ones at that. When I'm in the throes of a book and Julie asks, "How much have you done?" I can answer, "Twelve pages," or "Three thousand words" or "Two chapters." These are things the world and Julie can hang their hats on. Me included. I like quantifiable. There's traction. Forward motion. Progress. Industry. A paycheck.

Mulling doesn't inspire the same response. Mulling is intangible--like air. It's there, but you can't see it. But just try and go through a day without it, and you (and I'm looking at you, my old teachers and Julie) will be begging me for some of that intangible stuff. Yeah, too bloody right you will.

So I'm mulling and I'm going to take my time with it. There's no point in going off half-mulled. That would be ridiculous.

I think I've explained myself sufficiently. Now where did I put my Ruffles and those kittens?

Yours in front of the TV,
Simon Wood

Simon Wood is an ex-racecar driver, a licensed pilot and an occasional private investigator. He shares his world with his American wife, Julie. Their lives are dominated by a longhaired dachshund and five cats. He's had over 150 stories and articles published. His short fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines anthologies, such as Seattle Noir, Thriller 2 and Woman’s World. He's a frequent contributor to Writer's Digest. He's the Anthony Award winning author of Working Stiffs, Accidents Waiting to Happen, Paying the Piper and We All Fall Down. As Simon Janus, he's the author of The Scrubs and the forthcoming, Road Rash. His next thriller, Disgruntled, will be out next April. Curious people can learn more at www.simonwood.net.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Where Do You Write?

By Annette Dashofy

The link to this website Where I Write has been making the rounds lately. If you haven’t seen it yet, click here to check it out. Go ahead. Take your time and browse the pictures. We’ll wait for you. (Cue Final Jeopardy theme music.)

I’ve intended on blogging about this for a while now, but kept putting it off until I cleaned my office. Having decided THAT will never happen…at least to the degree I’d like…I’ve decided to hell with it and show you the naked truth of the matter. I present…MY OFFICE:



There isn’t a wide enough angle lens to make it appear bigger than it is.

Okay, I realize you can’t post photos of you own writing space in the comment area, so you’ll have to just describe it for us. Where do you write and what does it look like? Cluttered? Neat? Are there furry editors like mine on the premises? Or do you set up office at your local coffee shop?

And does anyone have an office anything like any of the pictures on that website???

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You Should See The Other Guy

By Martha Reed

I decided to make some changes in my life this year and one of them was to really take an active part in maintaining my health – make a real effort with nutrition and exercise, schedule all my checkups and appointments, etc. The surprise was when I arranged for a casual skin screening and my PCP didn’t like the look of some of my moles. Now, I should mention that I am the Queen of the Mole People - always have been – and some of these spots have been with me for as long as I can remember. The eye-opener this time was that she didn’t like a couple that were on my face.

Usually, when I get a mole removed, I schedule the outpatient surgery, close my eyes and go to my inner happy place in my mind and come out when it’s all done. The actual surgery nowadays is down to a science and is about as uncomfortable as getting your teeth cleaned, meaning not really. Bing, bang, done, I’m out the door and back to work with 400 milligrams of ibuprofen singing in my veins. Yesterday morning, however, I had to lie down on a table and let them pick up a scalpel and come at my face.

I’ve been trying to figure out why have someone come at my face is any different that pruning something off my back, knee, hip, or upper arm. I can’t tell you why, only that it is. The weird thing – for me, anyway – was that this time it was a surgery where I stayed awake. Every other time I’ve gone into an operating theater I’ve been unconscious. This time I walked in, was introduced to the team (strange?), everyone said “Hi” or “Good morning” as I was led to the table. It got very surreal after that and that was way before they gave me any Percocet.

I lay back and one half of my brain was directing me to retreat to my inner “Happy Place!” “Happy Place!” while the other, writerly, side was trying to take in all the details on the off chance I might be able to use them in a story someday. The pristine white room, the surprisingly narrow surgical table, the bright chrome lights in the ceiling. My conscious self was trying to get me to LEAVE THE AREA (in my mind) while the other part of me was listening and recording everything that was being said around me. There was a real War Between the States going on inside my head at approximately 10AM.

One of the very, very kind surgical nurses asked me where I worked and then started quizzing me on any people we might know in common. The courteous, trained side of my nature tried to answer her questions while the other side struggled with controlled panic. The two surgeons stitching my lower lip started discussing Cubs baseball and I wanted to ask them if they were really focused on the right topic just then but thought better of it. I know that I was just another random patient and that it was just another day at the office to them but it felt weird to become an object. After they started laying surgical towels over the parts of my face that they didn’t need (like across my eyes) that’s pretty much when I checked out.

That’s the report. Any further details for a future story will have to be fiction.

Monday, August 10, 2009

DUSTY BITES THE DUST

by Gina Sestak

Dusty was a nasty cat, wiry and rough-furred.  He was a stray before my mother took him in.  He bit anyone who touched him and ate like a ravenous beast, clearing his own dish in seconds, then chasing her other cat away to gobble that one's food as well.   She told me Dusty never purred.

In 1997, facing surgery, my mother asked me to take Dusty to a shelter.  I refused.  She asked my brother and, when he refused as well, tried to get a neighbor to do it.  I offered to let Dusty stay at my house.  She told me I'd be sorry.  

And so I caught the cat and drove him to my place.  Dusty bit me, too, and scratched.  He yowled all the time, pacing the rooms like a prisoner, and attacked me while I tried to sleep.  When I permitted him to go outside, he invaded a neighbor's home through a cat door and sprayed her furniture.  I tried to keep him in the house after that but, one day when I came home from visiting my mother in the hospital (the surgery hadn't gone well), Dusty was gone.  He had managed to find a weak spot in the bottom of a basement door and force his way out.  The broken boards were pushed outward, coated with gray fur where he'd squeezed through.

I put up signs in the neighborhood, placed ads in the newspaper, posted to a missing pet site, and asked around, all to no avail.  I called the shelters.  Whenever my mother asked, "How's Dusty?" I would lie and say, "He's fine."

Several weeks after he disappeared, I got a call from the Humane Society.  Pittsburgh Animal Control had picked up a cat who matched Dusty's description.  They were planning to euthanize him; he had bitten one of their workers, and so was deemed unsuitable for placement.  

I didn't recognize Dusty at first.  He was emaciated, having lost 4 of his 12 pounds.  When I tried to pet him, my fingers encountered dozens of splinters in his neck and shoulders.  These souvenirs of his escape convinced me of his identity.

I paid a fine and brought him home.  

Dusty had never seen a veterinarian.  I took him in and got him treatment for a respiratory infection and a tape worm - no wonder he'd been hungry all the time!  His rough fur became soft and glossy.  I pulled out the splinters.  Still, he continued to bite and yowl.   Stressed out by my mother's worsening health, I would lose all patience and just scream, "SHUT UP!  SHUT UP!"  It didn't help. 

At wit's end, I decided to change the rules.  I told him that, from then on, any time he opened his mouth I would interpret his yowling as a request to be petted.  I began to grab him, hold him down, and pet him 100 strokes every time he meowed.  To my astonishment, he liked it.  He began to purr.  He would follow me from room to room and sit on my lap, chewing my buttons, or go to sleep with his head on my feet.  He would sometimes even fall asleep with his head in one of my shoes -- the first time it happened, I was afraid he'd passed out from the smell, but he was only dozing peacefully.

When my mother passed away in September 1997 her other cat joined us, and Dusty welcomed him as a long lost friend.  Dusty always wanted to play and, if Taffy and I weren't in the mood, he would bite us until we chased him.   The cats shared duties as my bed companions and de facto alarms clocks, making sure I got up at 5:00 a.m. for work every morning, even on weekends and holidays.  While Taffy was content to wake me with a purr, Dusty would hide over the side of the bed and pop up to bite my toes until I'd get up.  

In recent years, both cats developed age-related health problems.  Dusty's heart began to murmur, and his kidneys to malfunction.  I took him to the vet every month or so for monitoring tests and gave him daily medication.  I restricted his diet and bought expensive food he hated.  

Last Tuesday afternoon, Dusty went outside.  When I checked on him a few hours later, I found him dead on my back porch.  The vet examined the body and pronounced it a natural death.  The vet said Dusty didn't suffer.

And now I miss him.  He used to greet me at the door whenever I came home.  He would come when I called.  He liked to snuggle up and purr.  He even appeared in a short film for me, my first project in a Motion Picture Fundamentals class.  The assignment required taking a dozen or so black & white photographs, then using them to construct a moving-stills film with music.  I called it Dusty Seeks Enlightenment:

video

Wherever Dusty is now, I hope he's found enlightenment and peace.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

by Jennie Bentley

You know this picture you may have in your head, of the gracious author at her book signing: hair perfectly coiffed, nice clothes, friendly smile? That’s me. It’s release week for Spackled and Spooked, and I’ve got back to back events scheduled this week and for the next two. Three bookstore signings, one release party, one Evening with an Author, one TV appearance, and a three-day conference. Plus a couple of interviews, complete with photographer. What that means is an endless round of worry over make-up and clothes, whether my slip is showing, whether my hair is fluffy enough, how overweight I’ll look when the cameras turn on me...

Last year’s TV appearance for the release of Fatal Fixer-Upper was not auspicious. The anchor started the interview by asking me a question I didn’t understand. I kid you not, it sounded like gibberish. The words made absolutely no sense. I’ve watched the clip since, cringing, and it wasn’t just nerves: the question still doesn’t make sense to me, even when I’m calm. The cringeworthy part, though, is the silence that follows. The deer-in-the-headlights look on my face as I sit there, trying to decipher the question and how to answer it. The dawning horror on the anchor’s face as she realizes that she’s sitting opposite a guest who has frozen.

It worked out in the end, and I don’t think it took more than eight seconds or so. (Which, let me tell you, is an eternity on TV.) Eventually, I said something. Anything. I didn’t care what it was, as long as it filled the silence. I didn’t answer the question, but I was coherent. And it got better from there.

This year I get to do it again, along with all the other stuff I mentioned. If you look closely, you’ll see the manic look in my eyes as I worry about the hair, and the slip, and the fact that at home, I’m revising Plaster and Poison, which is scheduled for release in March, and writing DIY#4, tentatively titled Mortar and Murder, which—if I can get it written by the end of the year—might make it into the stores by the end of 2010.

Can you spell P-R-E-S-S-U-R-E?

Oh yes, and that’s without taking into account the ten or so manuscripts I've critiqued for Killer Nashville, the conference I’m attending next weekend; and the ten or so wannabe authors I have to meet with, to discuss their manuscripts; and the panels I have to prepare for, and the fact that at some point during the weekend, I have to write and ship a guest blog I promised to do on the 16th...

It’s the glamorous life of a writer. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. In September, when it’s all over and the only thing I have to worry about is finishing Mortar and Murder by the end of the year, I’ll look back on it and smile. But for now, if you happen to catch sight of me in the next few weeks, forgive me if I’m not the picture of the smiling, gracious author, would you? Ignore that rabid look in my eyes, and the way I twitch when someone says my name? And if I don’t answer your question right away, give me eight seconds for that deer-in-the-headlights look to go away and my brain to fire on all cylinders again? I’ll get there, I promise!

And if you’re in the neighborhood, I’d love to see you. Check out my website, to see where I’ll be, and when!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

COME ON UP TO MY PLATFORM – DARN GLAD TO HAVE YOU!

We're thrilled to have Sophie Littlefield as today's guest blogger. Welcome to Working Stiffs, Sophie!


Sophie Littlefield’s a recovering housewife from the California suburbs who wrote a whole lot of stories before creating Stella Hardesty, the middle-aged rural renegade heroine of A BAD DAY FOR SORRY, which came out on August 4th. Her young adult novel BANISHED will be released next year from Delacorte - and just between us, there may be a zombie or two in that one.

There's been a lot of talk lately about author platforms and how they're really important, especially in today's crummy publishing climate.

The first time I heard the phrase 'author platform' I had no idea what it meant -- sounded like I was supposed to have an opinion about something - and to be honest, that worried me. Ever since I really buckled down on this whole full-time author gig, I've been content to let other, more-qualified people make the big decisions. Running the country? You have my proxy, Mr. O! How to fix the danged economy? Heck if I know - but I'm cheering for you guys, Mr. Bernanke! Bachelorette? Idol? Next Top Model? Seriously, whatever America decides is cool with me!

(Oddly, most of the time lately my strongest opinions have to do with highly processed food products, as in "fried Cheetos are just a hell of a lot tastier than Puffs" and "the best Diet Coke in town is at the Shell Station on Camino Tassajara" and "anything ordered off the secret menu at In-n-Out tastes seriously better." I think it's a result of malnutrition in these final weeks leading up to my book's release date, when I've been too busy to eat proper. Note that I said "mal"-nourished, not "under"-nourished. We are going through Pop Tarts and Luna bars and Sun Chips at an alarming rate.)

Anyway I was somewhat relieved to find out that an author's platform is really just a way of describing all the folks who have a special reason to be interested in your book.

For instance, if you're a professional hockey player, and you pen a romance between a puck manufacturer and a Zamboni driver, then your platform is hockey fans and players.

If you drive a Budweiser truck on your day job and your mystery series features a beer magnate turned amateur sleuth, your platform is brewskie aficionados everywhere.

If you're an undead high school cheerleader with 800 facebook friends, and you've written - hell, in that case, you could probably write a grocery list and sell it!

This is great news for all those folks with popular hobbies or media jobs or fancy pedigreed pets - they're selling tons of knitting mysteries and newscaster mysteries and bird mysteries these days - but when I took a long hard look at my book, I got kind of worried.

My character, Stella Hardesty, doesn't really have any hobbies - at least, any legal ones. (Oh, that reminds me, a word to the wise - inmate populations aren't really the kind of platform that publishers get super-excited about.) She's middle aged and cranky and broke. She doesn't dress well, her personal grooming's a little hit-or-miss, she spends her days off catching up on laundry and bills, and she doesn't have a boyfriend.

You wouldn't want her life, I'd wager. In fact, your life - if you are anything like me - has a little too much in common with Stella's, a little more often than you might like. Boring job. Financial stress. Love life doldrums. A few extra pounds --

Wait! Oh lordy, I just had the most brilliant thought. My platform is. . .me. You. Us. All of us ordinary hardworking Janes, just trying to get through the day with a sense of humor and a handful of Oreos. Our kids drive us nuts. Our Spanx get a workout. Our minds wander to the hot waiter at the falafel joint when we're supposed to be doing our taxes.

Right? Am I right? This might be the biggest platform of all time, sisters! The come-as-you-are, get-a-beer-from-the-fridge, take-a-load-off platform. Don't know if it will sell books. But it does surely feel like good company!

Watch the trailer for A Bad Day For Sorry:

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Call Me

by Guest blogger(s) Allyson Roy

If you think being the guy half of a female pseudonym is easy you should hear the pet name my father used to call me as a little kid. I won’t even tell you. Too risky. Wouldn’t want it buzzing through cyberspace. Even though he thought it was cute and funny. Even lovable. Somehow it didn’t quite strike me in those terms. The goofy, made-up word reminded me more of a French side dish or the name of some new line of clothing for babies. Don’t ask me what miracle spared me from his ever using it on me while in the presence of one of my friends. No doubt my bosom pal from the fifth grade would have hopped on it. Word would have spread through my school. Within hours my budding male identity would have been dealt to a major blow. All the quarters I saved in my piggy bank wouldn’t have been enough to hire a Madison Avenue publicity agent to salvage my reputation.

Alice also had her moniker cross to bear. For the purpose of this post she’s willing to disclose the name she hated: “Jocko.” As in the, oh, so popular colloquial term, jock. In high school she was very athletic -- cheerleading, gymnastics, running and ballet. Her reward was to be named after that very specialized garment designed to protect a man’s private parts during rigorous exercise. Gee, thanks.

Nicknames can be a real pain. Which is why we decided to give the lead character in our Saylor Oz Mystery Series, a high school label that keeps coming back to haunt her. In her early thirties now, Saylor hasn’t yet made it to five feet tall. And while growing up, she was always the shortest one in her class. Add that to her last name -- Oz -- and you’ve got the ingredients for a
perfectly awful nickname: “Munchkin.” That’s gotta hurt.

But we like to think it helped developed Saylor’s empathetic qualities and taught her early how to use her wits to stand up for herself. She’s a character whose personal insecurities combine with her game insistence on coming through for her friends, which usually gets her into situations that make her look ridiculous, not to mention putting her life at risk.

Meanwhile Saylor’s best friend and sidekick, Benita Morales, an obsessively frugal financial analyst and female boxer, is called Binnie. This takes on more defining aspects when combined with her ring name: “Binnie The Bitch.” The contrasting nature of the two character’s nicknames can hopefully give readers a fast, clear picture in their minds of the distinctly different personalities.

Saylor, a psychologist, sex therapist, and perfume aficionado, is a warmhearted oddball whose most lethal weapons are her fast mouth and her determination to be there for people who need her. Benita is more cynical. A hard line do-it-yourselfer and a pro boxer, she’s not afraid to get physical with obnoxious pendejos. So while Saylor is a nurturer who thinks nothing of following her intuitive hunches, Benita challenges her with hefty doses of reality testing, except when her own buttons are pushed.

One reason this opposition is crucial for our two main characters is because our crime adventures contain hefty doses of over-the-top humor, with Saylor and Benita working as a comedy team. Kind of like their two creators. No, not Jocko and yx%#. We’ve made up our own name this time, thank you: Allyson Roy.

Come visit us at http://www.allysonroy.com where you can read excerpts of both Saylor Oz books or enter a drawing to win one.

Many thanks to the authors of Working Stiffs for having us as guests today.

Allyson Roy translates as Alice and Roy, husband and wife collaborating authors and winners of a 2009 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Their Saylor Oz mysteries take place in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood and combine gritty, urban suspense with wacky, over-the-top comedy in a style they call Madcap Noir. BABYDOLL, the second book in the series just came out this week.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

D-DAY!!!!


by Jennie Bentley

Yeah, this is the same post title I used last year, when I announced my debut. Today is the official release of my second book, Spackled and Spooked, #2 in the Do-It-Yourself Home Renovation mysteries, which I have on good authority - specifically, from Joyce - has been available in Pittsburgh, among other places, for a few weeks already. Apparently some stores received their shipments of August releases on July 16th and didn't see any reason to wait to offer the books for sale. So when a friend of mine in Delaware went to her local Barnes & Noble this weekend to look for my book, they were - get this - sold out!

No biggie. I don't really care when people buy the book, just as long as they do. And sold out actually sounds like a good thing.

Anyway, I'm using the same title again because, although it's not my debut today, my ITW debut author buddy and fellow Berkley Babe, Diana Orgain, is visiting the Stiffs today, and it's her D-day. Bundle of Trouble, featuring brand new mom and PI Kate Connolly, hits stores today, and sounds like a whole lot of fun. Without further ado, here's Diana:


I Should Be Writing...

In writing this post I’m trying to answer the number one question I get asked by moms (or other writers) – how I find the time to write. I have three little ones. My oldest is a girl, 5 and I have two boys ages 2 and 5 months. The honest answer is “I don’t know.”

Right now, two of three are playing with a tea set and the third, the baby, is chewing on a teething toy and working on kicking his socks off. It’s Sunday and we’re getting ready to go to my mother’s for dinner. My brother and his family are there and my kids are getting antsy to go play with their cousins. I’m writing this post between fixing socks, doing dishes and packing the diaper bag.

All the hub-bub is typical around here. Both my husband and I work from home and we squeeze out every productive moment of the day we can. Kindergarten starts in a few weeks, and although I’ll miss my darling during the day it means I can write during nap time (since my five-year-old no longer naps but the boys do).

So what is my advice for working or stay-at-home moms who want to write? You have to really really want it. It means early mornings (even earlier than those early morning feedings) and it means late nights (even later than those late night feedings) you get my drift. Caffeine is an absolute pre-requisite for me.

In fact, I’m so addicted to coffee that I even found myself wishing to leave for my mother’s house a little early (she makes a great cup of coffee!). But alas, before I can go have Sunday dinner I still must answer the question of how.

I think as writers (or anyone pursuing a goal) you have to make the time. Yes, you can use found time wisely – but for bigger projects you have to make the time appear in your schedule. Commitment is a huge part of it and enrolling others to help you. For instance, I am very fortunate to have such a supportive husband and mother. My mom is always willing to take my kids to the park for a couple hours so I can write.

And then, once you have the time you cannot squander it. That is one thing I absolutely still struggle with.

Suddenly in an effort to find time to write, I arrange for my mom to have the kids and husband is out of the house on errands and then I am curiously alone.

The house is silent.

I can write in peace or…or I could…gasp…I could actually nap!

Yes, sleep is so good for the brain. I can think up a writing question, like say, what happens in Act II or “whodunnit” and fall asleep and the answer will suddenly magically appear. So that is not really like not writing, because I will definitely still be working on the story…only…it’s just that I’ll be asleep.

Hmmm. So you see. It is a struggle. Always juggling and balancing priorities.

When I completed my first book, Bundle of Trouble, someone told me to join Facebook and Twitter as a way to promote the book. Now, I must guard that I am not on these sites chatting when I should be writing.

Do you find yourself wanting to do something else when you know you should be focusing on a big project, dream or goal? What do you do? How do you bring yourself back to the task at hand? I’d love to hear your thought and tricks!

###

So there you have it. To learn more about Diana, Kate Connolly, and Bundle of Trouble, visit Diana's website, www.dianaorgain.com. There's even an excerpt you can read!

I'll be back on Friday with an update on my doings and undoings. Until then, enjoy my ITW debut author buddies and fellow Berkley Babes the LaPlantes, AKA Allyson Roy, tomorrow - you don't mind my calling you a babe, do you, Roy? Alice? - and ITW debut buddy Sophie Littlefield on Thursday.

Till then!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Where Did The Weekend Go?

By Wilfred Bereswill

My apologies to readers of the Stiff. I find myself completely brain dead. It's been one of those weekends. I wound up working most of the weekend on a transition plan for my day job. Now it's time for bed and I don't have a clue on what to blog about.

Not only that, but I'll be in meetings most of the day tomorrow (Monday.) Please chat amongst yourselves and accept my apologies. I promise to have something worthy in 2 weeks.

Oh, one interesting tidbit. I received an email from someone I haven't seen in 43 years. Debbie, (last name withheld) is somebody who lived across the street from me in a house I live in from 1960 to 1966. In her email she says that she was in a local library and saw a brochure for my book and recognized my name. She got to my website and contacted me through it. It is a small world.

Enjoy your Monday.

Upcoming Guest Bloggers

Please visit with us this week and say hello to our exciting guest bloggers!

Tuesday--Diana Orgain
Wednesday--Alice and Roy LaPlante
Thursday--Sophie Littlefield

Other upcoming guests in August include Simon Wood (I just noticed Simon has a book titled Working Stiffs--how appropriate!), KB Inglee, and Sherry Diener.