Saturday, January 17, 2015


Why are the Irish such stubborn asses?

Don't get your dander up, lads, I'm including myself in that generalization. Perhaps you'd feel better if I labeled the behavior as tenacious. That has a more pleasant ring, aye?

According to an online dictionary:
To be tenacious is to be persistent, determined, unyielding, steadfast.

To be stubborn is to be obstinate pigheaded, difficult, contrary.

(Interesting to note that the online resource uses tenacious to describe stubborn, but not the other way around.)

I suspect most of us would prefer to be labeled steadfast rather than pigheaded. In practice, I suppose they are pretty much the same, stubborn and tenacious. The next time I am tempted to be obstinate and contrary, I'll make a concerted effort to be unyielding and persistent instead. I wonder if anyone will notice a change in my demeanor. I'll keep you posted on that.

Anyway, back to me countrymen. Why so stubborn, I mean tenacious? Could it be the result of hundreds of years of English oppression? (Sorry, blokes. I know you get tired of hearing that, but you brought it upon yourselves.) Perhaps it stems from years of famine, poverty, slavery, and war. Surviving such dreadfully abominable circumstances no doubt cultivated resilience in the Irish. Making it through hundreds of years of heinous treatment certainly required tenacity. Perhaps they even had to be stubborn.

Only rarely have I exhibited such behavior. It's not in my nature to be stubborn.

Just kidding. I'm downright pigheaded about most things. I forego tenacity and head straight for full-blown stubbornness. I believe in doing things all the way. A prime example: I said I'd never hire an editor. I had what I considered to be some pretty darn good reasons, too. I was most certainly obstinate whenever a friend or acquaintance even broached the subject. I wasn't going to give a complete stranger the reigns. God knows what they'd do. Probably delete all the cursing and water down the cheap sex. I couldn't let that happen.

Turns out Stephen King said, "To write is human. To edit is divine." I saw the quote on Goodreads and harrumphed it, but it stuck with me for a few days. I realized that if Stephen King thinks that highly of the process of editing, then I'd better reevaluate mine. Thank you Mr. King for the slap upside the head. I appreciate it more than I can articulate.

Through the generous help of a kind friend (Christine Green), I connected with NY editor, Nina Alvarez. Wow. What an invaluable and constructive process this editing thing has been. I was quite literally sick just thinking about handing my manuscript to an unknown person, who I imagined held a great big red pen ready to strike out this and delete that. I couldn't have been more wrong. I now appreciate and recognize the importance of the crucial skills the right editor can bring to the table. Nina is teaching me to step outside the story and see what's really there, instead of what I think is there. It's been eye-opening. Exciting, too.

Nina's wisdom and patience are just what the doctor ordered. Not only is she incredibly supportive, but she drops brilliant snippets of truth about the craft of writing that illustrate her understanding and experience. Please indulge me while I share two:

Her response to my frustration with finding a perfect ending:
"Go back and find the clues you left yourself. The ending is there, just waiting for you to find it."

Her description of drafts:
"The first draft is you telling the story to yourself. The second is you telling the story to your readers."

I wish I hadn't been so stubborn regarding editors in the past. However, I'm glad that Stephen King's comment about the subject danced across my computer screen. It has forever changed the writing process for me - in all positive, constructive ways. My sincere thanks to Christine Green for her willingness to share. Some people would want to keep Nina's talents for themselves, but Christine's heart is too big for such foolishness. My deepest gratitude and appreciation for Nina's honest insights and observations. The final product is going to be so much more than I'd have been able to accomplish without her guidance and direction.

Enough of the gushy stuff, I mean you'd think I was writing an acceptance speech. Perhaps I'll need this crap when I win the coveted Most Tenacious, Pigheaded Irish Wench Award.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Fever Finally Broke

After a week of hell, the fever finally broke!! The flu still has the upper hand, but I'm making a slow come back. I managed to stand for 90 minutes late this morning, tinkering in the kitchen, before having to lie down for two hours. I also made baked ziti for Lauren... and then headed straight for the sofa. After an hour or two, I found the strength to make it to my desk.

Tomorrow will be better. I should be back to full strength in a few days. Thanks for asking.

Now that the fever is gone and my thoughts are sort of normal (don't expect miracles, okay?), I'm rethinking the title for book #3. After my last post, in which I proposed

Southernmost Invasion: The Swarm

one of my friends private messaged me. She said the title sounds like science fiction and she has a valid point. I don't want potential readers to think it's about a swarm of killer bees or tropical zombies.

Back to the drawing board? I don't know. Perhaps either Southernmost Invasion or The Swarm would be good....maybe putting them together pushes it over the science fiction edge. Your feedback is needed now more than ever!

On a side note, I had a conversation with a grown man today that you wouldn't believe if I testified about it in a court of law. I promise you this: the jackass and his heartless, selfish comments will be included verbatim either in book #3 or #4. If I can work the scene into book #3, I certainly will do just that. Then I will gift wrap a copy and hand deliver it to the donkey with said passage highlighted. Perhaps I'll add his email as a footnote, so that any reader who finds themselves moved by his callous, half-witted, short-sighted, malicious drivel can afford themselves the opportunity to drop him a line. 

I shudder to think this "human" is responsible for raising three sons and I pray to Allah, Jehovah, Waheguru, Elohim, Vishnu, and Baby Jesus that they are somehow spared from becoming a soul-less ghoul like their father. One such man on Earth is more than humanity can handle.

I relish the opportunity to share the exchange with you. Your cute little mouths will drop open, drool will escape and drip onto your lap, causing you to wipe your slobber with the back of your hand before you wipe it on your pant leg. Then your mouth will drop open again, repeating the sequence. Ahhh, yes. Good times.

Thank you, Mr. Ignoramus Lunkhead, you discourteous twit, for providing what is sure to be a memorable segment in my next novel. Writers rely on harebrained nincompoops such as yourself for fodder.

Where's the NyQuil?!?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Great Potential

Wow! You guys don't disappoint, that's for sure. I asked for editor referrals. Bam! I asked for title suggestions. Bam! Bam! Bam!

Thanks to the treasured advice from my friend, Christine Green, I have partnered with editor Nina Alvarez. She hails from Rochester, NY, and I think we make a good fit. Nina's been editing for several years and has some great success to show for it. I'm excited to have her onboard with this project. (I can't believe I hired an editor. It's exciting and unnerving. I swore I'd never do it.)

If you're a regular visitor to this blog, you may recall that Hellbent has been the working title of book #3. I like the name and it works with the story line, but there are at least a dozen other novels out there with the same title. The world doesn't need another.

You offered some amazing suggestions. Some were hilarious (thanks, Tiffany Paine), others quite nautical (thanks, Tim Farley), and some made sense only after a couple of glasses of wine (thanks, Lisa Perkins). After sorting through all of them, I have a tentative new title:

Southernmost Invasion: The Swarm

oooooo. I likey. Do you?

I've been battling the flu since before my last post, so I'll have to revisit this when the fever finally breaks. I liked the title Southernmost Swarm: The Invasion a little better at first, but I think it might be too hard for people to say. Please do me another favor and say it out loud. "Southernmost Swarm". Do it again. Is it hard to say? Does it sound odd? Now try doing the same thing with "Southernmost Invasion". Different experience, right?

To give proper credit:
 - Invasion was suggested by Marie Pauly
 - The Swarm was suggested by Tim Farley

(No, I don't play favorites to people whose last names ends with the "lee" sound.)

Thanks guys! You will both be officially thanked on the dedication page!

I added "Southernmost" to tie the title specifically to the Keys. Your thoughts on the new title are most welcome.

One blog post, some de-germing with Lysol, and it's back to the sofa I go. When will this damn flu ever end?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Be Nice and Find Me A Title!

I'm going to talk about a subject that most of you will shy away from. It's okay. I know that it makes people uncomfortable. No, it's not politics, because I hate that subject. Not religion either; I've already done that. It's not farts. People love talking about those. Well, at least my family does. I assume all families do. (That will be a topic for another day.)

Recently, I've been touched by the number of people who've contacted me to thank me for writing "Confessions of a Catholic School Dropout". Actually, I think shocked would be a more appropriate way to describe how they've made me feel.

There are a shit ton of women (hmm...there are a shit ton or there is a shit ton? I think "is".) out there who have pasts similar to my own. More than I suspected. Those that I've spoken with are grateful (their word, not mine) that I publicly owned my past and wrote about it for others to experience.

Stop rolling your eyes. I can see you. Does that make you nervous? Then be nice.

My past is exactly that. The past. As a small child, I was the victim of sexual abuse by a family member. Period. The end. I don't dwell on it because it's over. I'm not proud of it, but I'm not ashamed of it either. I didn't do anything wrong.

I'm not going to rehash all the stuff that's already been said about victims feeling guilty for their abuse. I'm sure you already know about all of that. It sure is weird, though. You know what's even more weird? There are adults who still blame the child for being abused. Yep, it's true. I just talked with one today. She's a grown-ass woman, married, with three beautiful baby boys. Her mother (and other family members) continues to blame her for the abuse she suffered as a child!

What the hell is wrong with people?!? I want to punch that poor woman's mother in the vagina. Repeatedly.

Okay, enough about that.

I've set an artificial date in my head for publishing the third book - which STILL doesn't have a title. The book is officially done, but I'm editing. Along those lines, I've decided to hire an editor. Yup, it's true! I'm biting the bullet and hiring someone who knows what they're doing. I've fought the idea for years, but I can finally admit that it's a necessity for a really well done novel.

Does this mean I'm growing as a person? (My closet sure says that I am.)

I hate asking for help and that's what hiring an editor feels like, which is why I refused to consider it for the first two books. Having said that, we all know that there were typos in both books and that there were some timeline issues in the second. I used to say that I was proud of the good and the bad in each book; that everything between the pages was mine. I didn't want an editor to be able to take credit for any part of what I'd written. I still don't, but I've decided that if I can find the right editor, I won't feel that way.

So...the search is on for a qualified editor that 1) I can work with; 2) I can afford; and 3) I can trust. Feel free to send recommendations or  - even better - offer your services.

For those of you who aren't editors/don't know any editors, you can help me with the book title....

The setting is the FL Keys (of course) during mini season. (That's a two-day affair during which people can fish for FL lobsters before the commercial season begins. Our islands are mobbed by people from the mainland. They are like locusts and leave a mess in their wake. Most locals hate mini season.) It's a story of life and death, love lost and found with a little bit of human trafficking thrown in for good measure. Some of the characters are despicable ghouls, others have questionable morals but are trying to become better people. It's my best story yet.

The damn title continues to elude me and I don't mind asking for help with this problem. What the hell am I gonna name this dang thing? Get busy and start thinking.

And, please remember to be nice. Just because Santa doesn't arrive for another 356 days, it doesn't mean you can be a dick.