Monday, February 28, 2011


Bobbye Terry is back with a great post on how to increase the tension in your writing. Like this post? Leave a comment when you finish reading.

You know what’s it like. You’re reading a book on the edge of your seat. No bathroom break, no sir and you hope you don’t have to call for a catheter. Whatever happens, people better get ready to take care of it, because no way are you leaving this story. The tension in your shoulders is so tight, you can feel your muscles throb. Yet you turn the pages. Oh, my word, what will happen? How can the hero escape? How can he stay alive? Tension like that, my friends, is what you want to read. And it is, most assuredly, what you want to write. But how?

For me, it’s all in knowing how to crank it up. Here is a list to help:

The Law of Three
I find this very useful when writing suspense. To me, it means two separate things.
First, when writing a suspense or thriller (or any fiction, really) raise the stakes three times. You take a bad situation and make it worse. Then, just when you think how much worse could it be, kick it up one more notch.
 But it can’t happen all at the same time. That’s where pacing comes into play (stay tuned).

For example(from Coming to Climax, releasing September 5th):
 Margaret is going back to Climax for the first time in twenty-plus years to resolve her argument with her niece. She doesn’t know how she’ll ever face Blue, who married her sister on the rebound all those years ago. Margaret worries and frets, even orders three little bottles of Scotch on the plane. Can she pull it off and save face (the stakes)? Their meeting will be tense. But what if…you then find out Blue’s adopted daughter is really Margaret’s child? Will Blue forgive her and will she alienate Caroline forever? The stakes are raised again. But what if…the crimes in the town have something to do with those she loves and may lead to her death, or worse, Blue and Carolina getting killed? The stakes are raised again. Now you’re ready to feed in the tension by hitting the hot buttons, her stakes. Each time, the tension escalates.

Now thanks to Margie Lawson, think of the repetition of three items. By repeating words or phrases in a work, it brings emphasis or punch to the segment. That will be demonstrated at the end of this article.

Pacing and Sentence Structure
Don’t use long flowery sentences when in the middle of a tense scene. Think in shorthand and see the scene through the eyes of the person who has the POV. You’re seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting in snippets of sensation. Actions are choppy and hurried.

Reappearing Images, Phrases and Sentences 
 One technique that pulls your book together and gives you a gotcha moment is to introduce something early in the text and then repeat it later with a twist. This could be a scene in a calm location, such as a thinking place or the security of one’s home. Later the same scene is colored with the ominous presence of the villain who seeks to kill the hero. Like Chef Emeril says, “kick it up a notch.” Similarly you can use a phrase or object that was used in an early violent or tense-filled scene and reintroduce it much later in another such scene, but this time involving a main character or the hero himself. For instance, in Nick of Time, the sequel to Coming to Climax, the book opens with two evil characters trapping a woman in a net they set up to capture her deep in the forest. One of the characters says. “Easier than trapping the Easter bunny.” Much later in the book, a prominent secondary character is trying to get away, and is also caught in a net. The same evil character says. ““Easy trapping, but you ain’t no Easter Bunny.” See? Gotcha’!

Atmosphere and Setting
I talked about this earlier when I explained about the calm scene becoming the violent one later. That’s setting. Use everything, the weather, the lighting, the location. For instance, my really threatening scenes in the Climax books normally take place in the deep forest with low lighting and obstacles to running, in abandoned buildings, even around a graveyard. Take time to describe the scenery. Paint a word picture so the reader can feel the dark mood and the somber tone.

Now, see if you can spot some of my techniques in this snippet (now unedited) from Nick of Time, coming in January 2012
The guy vaulted at him, grabbing his shirt. Luke jerked loose, the fabric ripping. He lunged for the door. The man’s hands, talons, grabbed his shirt. Exerting unearthed power, Luke wrenched free and ran.
Ran from the trailer, primed for evasion. Ran down the path, terrified of capture. Ran like the hunted, straining to survive.
He darted into the woods, his breath coming in ragged gulps, his mind racing like an over-wound toy. The shadowed forest of a slowly setting sun dotted his view with dark patches of hopelessness. Run for escape. Run to the dark. The man won’t see me there.
Hiding behind a dense thatch of trees, he heard nothing. Maybe I lost him. He stayed silent, trying to calm his heaving chest. Maybe he left. His heart whammed against his ribcage, pounding anger at his foolishness. Where did he come from? His mind slapped him, laughing at his ignorance. He should have known.

I hope my insights will help someone on their quest to writing success.

Can you spot Bobbye's techniques? If so leave a comment with your answer. What are some things  you do to crank up the tension?

Bobbye Terry
 Bobbye Terry. BE MINE, VALENTINE, Turquoise Morning Press (TMP)
w/a Terry Campbell:CRAIGS' LEGACY, 2/11/2011, Black Opal Books; Backlist on Kindle
w/a Daryn Cross, IT'S MAGIC, Crescent
                                                   Enjoy the book trailer:


Friday, February 25, 2011


Sandra Crowley

It's our pleasure to welcome Sandra Crowley to our blog with an excerpt from her debut novel Caught By A Clown. If you like this post, please leave a comment when you finish reading.                                  

Hi all, I’m  a Texan vacationing in Colorado’s mountains for, well, a few years now. LOL I’m really happy to be invited to As You Were Saying because so many of my friends and relatives are in the Fort Worth area. I hope you enjoy the following blurb and excerpt from my debut novel.

CAUGHT BY A CLOWN, a spicy romantic suspense, will warm you and thrill you from its opening at a nudist resort in Arizona, to its race to a Texas horse track, and its tumble into the Florida clown school.

Tagline: A spontaneous freelance journalist on a mission of mercy finds herself entangled with a methodical undercover FBI agent out to settle a score.

Blurb: Stacie Monroe's spontaneity lands her in hot water again when her best friend's little brother disappears and Stacie trails him to a nudist resort. To get inside the exclusive oasis and convince him to return home, she must blend in, a move tailor made to shock her oh-so-proper family and renew efforts to bring her in line.

That's exactly what Special Agent David Graham intends to do when she interferes in his case. Yet, the soft-hearted temptress challenges his resolve, revealing the path to a love he thought impossible. Will that love survive when he betrays her in order to unravel the final twist in his case and convict a vicious killer?
Stacie tapped one sandal-clad foot on the floor while Agent I'd-Rather-Scare-You-Than-Confide-In-You ignored her. She glanced toward the bathroom, crossed her legs, and wished she hadn't finished that last glass of wine.

"Aren't you going to search that closet or open those two bottom drawers in the dresser?" she asked when he tucked his camera inside his pack.


A nasty suspicion raised its head. "Why not?"

"Don't have a search warrant. That limits me to a visual inspection of what's in plain sight."

"I won't tell," she pushed, despite being certain of his response.

"There are laws."

She groaned over the close match to a pronouncement she'd heard her whole life. There are rules.

Boring. Snoring. Gone. Think of something else.

Like how Agent By-The-Book caused this mess. If he'd mentioned being from the FBI when they met in the office none of this would have happened. He ignored her interest in Alan Walsh and her intelligence in favor of treating her as if she were a child in need of a lesson.

Nature threatened to float her teeth, but Stacie refused to ask for relief. She fidgeted on the hard chair and crossed her legs the other way. The backs of her thighs pulled where her skin had stuck to the wooden seat. That twinge of pain reminded her she ought to be thrilled Graham claimed a badge and not a rap sheet. Instead, she rattled the handcuffs that shackled her to the chair and worried how far he meant to carry her arrest.

Buy Caught By A Clown here.
Don't forget to leave a comment! Thanks for reading  with us.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Welcome to the fourth in a series about my travels across country with my friend Jan in her big rig.

The morning sun followed us westward towards the Arizona border. Colorful flat plains alongside the road were half covered by shadows of clouds making for a unique light pattern on the ground. Mountains and mesas in various shades and altitudes off in the distance promised a change in surroundings.

We couldn’t help but feel like we were in a movie. One half expected to see two Native Americans astride horses high on a mesa overlooking the desert floor watching Clark Griswold on his desperate trek to find a gas station.

The mesas themselves are incredibly beautiful testaments of the ancient earth on which we live. Horizontal lines across the elevation delineate the different eras of geologic time while the pinks and greens of the plateau give them depth and height.

The scenery gets more breathtaking as we go.
The winding blacktop on which we drive passes truck stops and an occasional casino that interrupt the majesty of nature that surrounds them.

Close to the Arizona border mesas line each side of the road as though in welcome to The Grand Canyon State. They cry, “This way to our own brand of nature’s beauty! Come and see what we have to offer!”

That afternoon a sign bearing the likeness of the blue, yellow, and red Arizona state flag welcomed us across its border as ancient, rocky mesas in tans, browns, and greens looked on.

Soon after the land flattened out quite a bit while clouds began to cover the desert sky. There were mesas and rocky hills off in the distance beyond the sandy ground and scrub bushes that came much closer to the highway. Off in the distance desert rain nourished the landscape.

This made for an awe-inspiring sight. While we enjoyed this view the road beneath was ascending towards a mountainous Flagstaff.

The rain reached that city as well. From a distance it was hard to see the mountains because of the cloud cover in addition to the rain.

Up at 7000 feet now, the mountains and hills of Flagstaff greeted us in wet hues of green and browns. Ground levels of various heights surround the area.

It is also a fork in the road where the driver has to choose between going northwest towards the Grand Canyon, continuing west en route to Los Angeles, or to turn south on I-17 in the direction of Phoenix. We turned south.

This is where the terrain of Arizona really becomes mountainous. Jan loves this drive and was disappointed that I couldn’t see all of the scenery because the precipitation covered a good portion of the view. But because it was new to my experience there was nothing to miss as far as I was concerned.

While driving up, down, and all around on wet pavement Jan explained to me how to drive a big rig in the rain, against gravity and with it, plus a heavy load. If it was me driving my knuckles would be white all the way. But Jan made it all look so easy.

She says she doesn’t mind it so much in the Southwest but likes to stay out of places like Washington, Oregon, and Idaho – especially during the winter. That is easy to understand.

The rain accompanied us almost to Phoenix.

Sorrell cactus lined both sides of the interstate waving their prickly branches in a happy welcome.
Both east and west of the highway mountains rose to soaring heights and sloped to various depths. The afternoon sun painted the desert mountains rich tints and shades of aqua, green, pink, red, orange, gold, ochre, and brown. It was a feast for the eyes straight from Heaven.
We enjoyed this view until the sun set for the night. But then it wasn’t long until we hit the Phoenix city limits.

There were businesses of all kinds on terraced hills above each side of the road as palm trees lined the edges. Spotlights invited customers to some of the ventures; neon adorned other establishments in their own efforts to attract patrons.

People were out and about on this busy night as we made our way to Swift’s national headquarters. Jan had the truck inspected before we dropped off the load we were delivering as required by Swift.

They had to check to see if the trailer needed any repairs and to have the tandems at forty feet to be legal to run in case we went to California.

Intense heat radiated from the ground and the air was sticky since it was monsoon season. There were two inspectors and several trucks. They couldn’t work fast enough for us.

Finally done, Jan maneuvered the big rig around the parking area and found a space for the trailer. She put down the landing gear, unhooked the air lines and the pigtail (electrical) then retrieved her lock from the doors.

Free of our excess burden we were on our way to the home of Jan’s brother Rob for the next two nights. Rob and I had not seen each other since I moved from Chicago in 1979. Our two year difference doesn’t seem like anything now, but back in the late ‘70’s he was Jan’s kid brother.

Now at 6’5” and mostly gray I would have recognized him anywhere. We had already been there for a while when he finally got home from his truck driving job.

Rob, Jan, and I had a great time talking about Dolton and the people we knew and who we still know. The three of us were lucky enough to have grown up in such a place and acknowledged it. We yapped until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer.

Each settled in for the night now, we couldn’t help but laugh as we did our own parody of The Walton’s. Instead of just, “Goodnight John-boy! Goodnight Mary Ellen! Goodnight Jim Bob!” We added, “Goodnight Jan! Goodnight Rob! Goodnight Claire! See you in the morning.”

Thanks so much for reading my post. Leave a comment so that I know you've stopped by.

For Claire Hickey, writing is a newly realized passion. For Claire Hickey, writing is a newly realized passion. For Claire Hickey, writing is a newly realized passion. Read more of Claire’s work at Feed The Mind, Nourish The Soul in the Communities at the Washington Times as well as her blog Sustenance For The Mind.


Like this post? Leave a comment after you finish reading.

The Smallest Church In America

  by Ruby Johnson

While visiting with my sister in Darien Georgia, I had the opportunity to visit a tiny church called the "Smallest Church in America".

 Located just north of Darien on Highway 17, it is nestled off the highway and tucked behind a small sandy circular drive in a copse of trees. This tiny church is only 15 feet long and 10 feet wide, though it seats12 parishioners and a pastor.  Outside the church entrance stands a small, miniature-looking bell tower about 12 feet tall with a little bronze plate dating 1998. However, the church itself, the brainchild of Ms. Agnes Harper, was completed in 1949. Ms. Harper was a widowed grocer of modest means when she decided to build a church for those in the area. At the time, it was thought such meager funds would not do justice to the magnificence of the Lord. But Ms. Harper persevered, deeding the title of the church to one, “Jesus Christ.”

Walking through the never-locked door, a burst of light floods the small room and  shines on the prayer bench between the pulpit and the pews. The room is quiet and there is a holiness about the room giving me a sense of peace. Pews made of wooden chairs form three rows on either side of the abbreviated aisle, each chair with a built in wooden slot for hymnals and a fold-down prayer bench that tucks gently underneath each of the sturdy seats. On this overcast afternoon, the room has a slightly used feel to it caused by the sandy tracks on the carpet. The Church pamphlets state it is  “Where Folks Rub Elbows With God” and it is easy to see from the size why they would state this. A bird chirps  outside the entrance, a lonely sound in the quiet of the afternoon. The simple wooden planks that form the arched ceiling allow for the filtered sounds of  cars going by along with  the chirping of the bird.

The space is filled with  sincerity and warmth, a quality that feels in high demand in this era of  political preaching. It is as though you can feel the comfort of a higher power. In such a small area, where just a few people can worship, it is powerful to still feel so miniscule.
The pulpit is made of maple wood with a simple cross adorning the front. To the  right side of the pulpit against the wall  is a sign, soliciting donations. A box  built into the wall has a slit in it. Underneath the powerful lock holding the collection deposit closed is a sad note with a hollow warning “Do not cut lock.” Underneath this script, and to the side of the lettering are handwritten notes with such sentiments as “You will go to hell” or “You’re stealing from God.” I am saddened by the realization that evil can invade such a small sacred place. I realize that the sheltered chapel is in  a particularly vulnerable spot. Yet, even this weakness may bolster the strength of the little building, whose existence continues on despite thieves and vandals.

A step down from the pulpit area on the right hand side of the church is a binder full of notebook paper, which serves as a guestbook . There are pages and pages of entries, some  a single line, stating merely the visiting party, date and hometown. Others are more religious, such as, “God so love the world he die on the Cross for all of us I should love Him” and "No church is too small to learn about God,  to the not-so-religious, “I'm here hangin in the smallest church in America!” I added my name and "Feeling the holy presence in this small church."

The Smallest Church is full of little dedications. Small private glimpses into personal relationships are all over the room. Behind the pulpit is a small plaque dedicating the building to “the glory of God and for all who pass this way in loving memory of their parents.” On a bulletin board, tacked up were  several handwritten notes. More personal mementos dotted the windows,and ledges of this non-denominational church. By the  plaque rested two beanie babies, and the windowsill behind the pulpit is decorated with an assortment of figurines depicting the Mother Mary.
The spirituality and the comfort of the smallest church is difficult to put into words, but a bronze plate slipped into the background of the chapel has some words which come close. “I came to this place in search of inner peace and found it. I heard, what could only be, the wings of the Angel of God. I felt them brush by me and was filed with the peace and comfort of the Lord. I will no longer doubt his presence in our time. This is a special place.”

Thanks so much for stopping by. Please leave a comment if you feel this post gave you something of value. ~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ruby Johnson,  is a member of Greater Fort Worth Writers who writes fiction and is also a
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Today we have Bobbye Terry participating with an excerpt from her new book Buried in Briny Bay.  It's due out next month and you're getting a sneak peak.  If you like this post, please leave a comment when you finish reading.

Parking in the underground parking lot, Trixie and Roxie took the elevator up to the hotel lobby and strode toward the front desk, attempting to appear nonchalant. “Excuse me,” Trixie said to the short bald man with his back to them, “My name’s Nancy…Drew and this is my sister, Nora…Charles. Could we ask you a question?”

He turned, wearing glasses so thick Trixie wondered how the poor man could see anything. “Yes ma’am. A room?”

“Not right now. Actually, a friend of ours is registered here, but he forgot to give us the room number. Frank Albright? About five-ten, sandy hair?”

The man nodded. “He does have a lot of friends. He’s been up there for the last hour or so. Room 225, ladies, one floor up, to the right and right next to the ice machine.”

Thanking him, they made their way to the elevator. “That was almost too easy,” Roxie whispered to Trixie. “But really, Nancy Drew and Nora Charles? Couldn’t you have been a bit more imaginative?”

“Shh. He didn’t even recognize the names, so it’s not important. One thing’s for sure, he isn’t going to be able to give a description. That guy’s eyesight has to be so bad, he’s lucky he can see blurry images. But don’t count your lucky stars yet. We haven’t completed out assignment.”

Hesitating at the door to Room 225, Trixie knocked. The door creaked open a couple of inches and stopped. They stood there, looking at each other. Roxie strained to hear any movement inside. “Maybe he isn’t there.”

“The door’s open and the guy at the desk said he was in his room.”

Roxie shrugged. “Maybe he sneaked out when the guy wasn’t looking.”

Trixie exhaled sharply. “Come on Rox, nobody leaves their door open when they leave.” She pushed the door. As it swung open, they saw a body under the covers in bed. “Mr. Albright? Is it okay if we come in?”

“Frank, Frank, it’s Roxie. We just wanted to talk to you.” Roxie waited for a response that didn’t come. “Boy, he’s a sound sleeper. I wish I could do that. I wake up at the sound of a pin dropping. Then it’s up and down every couple of hours. I’m beginning to wonder if I have Fibromyalgia…”

To enjoy a trailer for the book go to:

We'd love to hear from you. Please share your comments with us.

Bobbye Terry


Bobbye Terry. BE MINE, VALENTINE, Turquoise Morning Press (TMP)


w/a Terry Campbell:CRAIGS' LEGACY, 2/11/2011, Black Opal Books; Backlist on Kindle

w/a Daryn Cross, IT'S MAGIC, Crescent Moon Press

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Movement and a slam of the cab door shook me awake. Sunlight streamed in the driver’s side window as I peered over my bunk. Through squinty eyes I saw that Jan was gone; that must have been her leaving to go into the rest rooms.

Pretty Boy
Remembering that we had to leave early I climbed down, and dressed. By that time Jan was back to see if I was awake and filled the plug in thermos with water for our coffee. We went and did our morning routines while it heated.

Amarillo, Texas

Now with bright shiny faces and coffee in hand we headed north on Texas Highway 287 towards Amarillo and I-40.

It’s not unusual to think of sand and a dry climate when you think of Amarillo. After all, Amarillo means “yellow” in Spanish. We found instead grassy farmland that was for the most part green. “Verde” better described the scenery than its given name.

Amarillo is also where you find the second largest canyon in the US. Palo Duro Canyon is second in size only to the Grand Canyon.

The crevasse is one hundred twenty miles long and as much as twenty miles wide. It sports cabin rentals, campsites and RV sites, hiking and mountain bike trails, and horse rentals. There is also a gift shop and history, geology, and wildlife exhibits as well.
We passed it on the road.

South of the city I waved in the direction of my friend Bonnie who has a place there. No time to stop this trip. But there are plenty of truck stops she said she could meet us at next time. Cool.

Once we turned on I-40, Texas got really flat right before the New Mexico border. It’s the flattest land we’ll drive for several days.

On To Albuquerque...

The Land of Enchantment greets you with a bright yellow welcome sign that crosses the highway complete with an ancient symbol of the sun called a “Zia” flanking each side.

It doesn’t take long to start seeing mountains and mesas off in the distance. The word, “desert” comes to mind but not the dead, bland and neutral colored type.

Multi-colored hues in various shades and tints of red, pink, green, brown, purple, and even blue paint the landscape.

These desert colors brought to mind words like life, soul, and vitality. My senses were very aware of them. It’s truly an amazing experience that many people won’t find at home.

Albuquerque sits in the bottom of a valley surrounded by mountains. The road becomes more winding as it takes you to a lower elevation. Down, down, down you go to the bottom of the bowl.

A giant metal cactus sculpture greets motorists from the roadside on the outskirts of the city. Jan says at night it is lit up and a sight to see.

Albuquerque/NM tourism
In no time we are at the Swift terminal of Albuquerque, Jan’s home terminal. It’s smaller and newer than in Lancaster. The surroundings are prettier too.

To the east are the Sandia Mountains. North of the terminal are five dormant volcanoes. They look so pre-historic you wouldn’t be surprised to see a stegosaurus or a pterodactyl off in the distance.

sandia mountains/NM tourism
The ancient cinder-cones looked totally lifeless but research says that they are merely asleep.

The main building was much like the one in Lancaster. But it’s bright and laid back atmosphere made for a much more comfortable rest. The staff I met was quite interesting and likeable. All possess a great sense of humor; we laughed quite a bit in the agreeable surroundings.

Jan and her supervisor Steve have a unique relationship. He is a former driver who started supervising when Jan started driving. They learned the ropes together and are friends in addition to their professional relationship.
The others include an affable guy who does stand-up comedy at the local club, a full blooded Navajo Indian who has been married to his high school sweetheart for the last twenty-five years, and a man whose grandmother was a Cherokee Indian forced to participate in “The Trail of Tears.”

This combined with the lower temperatures made Albuquerque a pleasant place to hang our hats for a bit. The goal was to get to Phoenix and it would take a couple of days to get a load going there.
On Thursday Jan and I took some empty trailers to the train yard in Albuquerque since we were waiting anyway. It gave us something to do and I got to see more of the area.

The city and its vicinity are lovely. Native plants encompassed by rocks in desert hues fill the landscaping along the highways. The colors and symmetry are simple yet stunning.

In the older sections near the train yard we saw buildings embellished with art expressing the heritage and beliefs of the local people. The adobes and church architecture did too. Huge old trees at least three feet in diameter graced a clearing just across the railroad tracks as well.

The trailer deliveries filled the day. Once back at the terminal we retired to the truck for the night. Relaxed in our bunks we laughed out loud as we watched several episodes of Fraser before putting out the light.

A mild Friday morning greeted us with a load needing to go to Phoenix. Eager to be on our way we were ready in no time flat.

Soon we were ascending up and out of the desert bowl that encompasses Albuquerque.

 Excitement built in anticipation of seeing the beautiful landscape and scenery that lay between us and the “Valley of the Sun.”

Besides Jan lives in Phoenix with her brother Rob and planned to take a day off while we were there.

Stay tuned for more...
For Claire Hickey, writing is a newly realized passion. Read more of Claire’s work at Feed The Mind, Nourish The Soul in the Communities at the Washington Times as well as her blog Sustenance For The Mind.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Exploring The Romance of Chocolate And Valentine's Day

If you like this post, please leave a comment when you finish reading.

shared from flickr
 by Ruby Johnson

St. Valentine's Day,  named after an actual Christian saint (or, possibly, up to three persons), is no longer celebrated on the Catholic general calendar. The day  is now most associated  with love and romance. The liturgical color  is red just as the valentine cards of today are red. The red cards of today, however, symoblize energy, passion and love. Pink valentines symbolize friendship. The card is used as symbol of the recognition of a lover, friend, or anyone important to you. Those in advertising will tell you that red evokes emotion.

What is it about chocolate that brings out the best in romance, the best in wine and sometimes the best in cravings, especially around Valentine's Day?  If you're a chocoholic the following will probably be elementary to you. For me this time of year is bitter sweet, because I miss the roses, chocolate, and wine my husband use to give me as a sign of his love. He was a big man with an even bigger heart. I didn't know much about wine, when we first met, but over the years I learned from him.

  • One key  to combining wine and chocolate-- the lighter the chocolate, the lighter the wine. Then again, every rule has a counter-rule:  Champagne and sparkling wine go with anything - dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate. You just want to make sure with the whiter chocolate, you want a drier, fruitier Champagne.
  • A dark truffle can go with sparkling wine but also with a nice berry flavored Merlot. And Port with a dark chocolate is the best. It's pure. You taste nothing else but the chocolate and the tingling on your tongue. The sweet-sour counter-action works great. It's enough to satisfy the craving that you've got.
  • A Kirsh or raspberry truffle goes well with Cabernet Sauvignon or Port. A Dark Truffle goes well with Merlot. The nuttier truffles go well with a Spanish Sherry.
Take a sip of wine first and roll it around on your tongue. Then take a bit of chocolate and let it go through your mouth slowly melting. Then take another sip of wine. You'll notice a totally different taste in the wine. Chocolate will bring out the finest qualities of the wine and diminishes any imperfections. Just like two people in love. They complement each other. They're just made for each other.

After eating a chocolate there is actually a chemical in it that makes you feel  the same way you felt when you got  your first crush. That's the same chemical that your body makes.  People always say that chocolate is an aphrodisiac or the love candy. There really is some truth in that.  Maybe that's why romance writers love chocolate.

Around Valentine's day, there are millions of boxes of chocolate to choose from-- Hershey's Kisses to  boxes of  Truffles. Red roses and chocolate are really a standared. If there are any men reading this, give your wife, significant other, or someone important to you, a card, a rose, a box of chocolates, and/or a bottle of wine. You will be remembered for your romantic gesture. And ladies,  send roses to your husband or lover. He will be flattered and pleased that you love him enough to send him something so special. Don't have the money for roses, a box of chocolates and wine? Then a simple card with the words of your heart can mean so much.

What's the most romantic thing you've had happen on Valentine's day? Leave a comment and let us know.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


If you need to write a logline and deliver a pitch to an editor or agent the websites below are additional sources for study.

 Ray Anne Carr gives some tips on how she develops a logline and pitch.

This is an indepth article on the subject.

This is a site with agents and you can submit a pitch to be evaluated by them.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


If you liked this post, please leave a comment when you finish reading it..

by George Talbot and Ruby Johnson                                                    

Ernest Hemingway’s buddies bet he couldn’t write a complete story in ten words. Hemingway did it in six-- .probably a tribute to the love of his six-toed poly dactyl cats.

 For sale: baby shoes, never used.

Hemingway is said to have considered the story to be his best work, and it supports a simple idiom offered by John Irving; “Whenever possible tell the whole story in the first sentence.”

What they probably didn’t envision was the use of this technique to pitch ideas to an agent or editor. They didn’t call it high concept but that is what it was. Lori Wilde author of over 50 books, used this technique to sell two novels to Time-Warner books based solely on a 25 word high concept pitch. She says there are several components to the high concept.

• It’s different.
• It’s universal
• You can immediately visualize the entire story
• It can be stated in one sentence.

See how this works with the following:
An arrogant cop must find a way to save the people stranded on a city bus that will explode if it slows below 55 mph- Speed

Using Lori’s example:
It’s different—exploding bus
• It’s universal—almost everyone has ridden a bus
• Emotional appeal—life or death situation
• You can see the entire story—if the bus slows down, it’s blown into a million pieces.

Seems simple doesn’t it? But whoa, it isn’t. Getting a 300 page novel condensed down to 25 words is harder than you might think.

Rosemary Clement Moore, author of Splendor Falls, says If you’re going to pitch to an agent, a sit down pitch should take no more than 2-3 minutes to outline the essentials in your book and a pitch should include the following:

• Genre and target audience
• Character and their most important “hook”
• Internal Goal/Conflict
• External Goal/Conflict

It could also include, briefly:
• Inciting Incident
• One complicating element
• The climactic turning point
• Theme or lesson learned
Know what your main characters want, the external conflict, inciting incident, the stakes, and the ending.

Her tips: Describe as if you're trying to convince your significant other to spend $20+ to go to a movie he/she knows nothing about. What are the themes/bigger message? Is there a particularly interesting setting? Do you have a background relevant to the book?

“But the zinger is the 1-2 sentences that gives the distilled essence of your book. You can lead or conclude with it.

If you can offer more advice on this subject we’d love to have you leave some comments.

 George Talbot and Ruby Johnson are members of Greater Fort Worth Writers.
 George Talbot  writes short stories. He is almost retired and the owner of  2 dogs, 2 horses and father of  2 daughters.

Ruby Johnson, CRNA is published in professional journals, and likes to say her profession in Anesthesia is to put people to sleep  and now she's trying to wake them up with words.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

4 Ways I Translate Mind Pictures Into Words

Like this post? Leave us a comment after you’ve finished reading.

By Kay Boeger

Recently, when a member of my critique group said she was having trouble translating the mind pictures she has of her story into words, she asked for some tips. Listed below is my writing process:

For big, complicated scenes (and there are a lot of big complicated scenes in the one I just finished) I put it down in layers.

  1. Dialogue 
             First, just what are the characters saying? I do this first.

      2.   Movement
             Next, are the characters standing?  Are they waving their arms? Shaking their heads?

      3.    Setting 
             Then I go back and add setting - are they outside? Is there a fountain? Is the linoleum old and scarred?

      4.    Feelings

             Last, I add feelings. When the character says "I can't believe you did that," is she incredulous, or angry?
             And before he says, "Well, believe it sweatheart," is he hurt or shocked?

Sometimes the order of the layers changes, but the technique is the same.

 If you've ever watched one of those videos on "How to Draw," the instructor usually starts by drawing a simple circle - something we can all do. Then the instructor adds other basic shapes to the circle and before you know it, you're looking at a cute bunny. I can't draw, but I feel I'm using the same technique when I write.

Do you have a tip that you can add? Let us know you stopped by our blog today. We’d love it if you shared your thoughts with us!

Kay Boeger is a member of Greater Fort Worth Writers and is presently shopping her manuscript with agents. She also has studied horticulture at Tarrant County College and is a certified nursery consultant.



FORT WORTH, TX.  - We took off in Jan’s Freightliner T2000, affectionately referred to as “Pretty Boy” or “Big Blue Truck.”

The first stop was the Swift terminal in Lancaster, Texas.  Jan drives as an owner/operator for Swift and had hoped to get another load immediately so we could leave first thing in the morning.

The terminal consists of a large building, parking for terminal employees, truck parking, gas pumps, and weigh stations.
The parking area was lined with empty and full trailers waiting to be hooked up to a bobtail truck, which is a truck that doesn’t have a long trailer attached – just that abbreviated nub off the back.

An example of a Bobtail
 The main structure contains offices but also a driver’s lounge with TV, vending machines, tables and chairs, recliners, internet access carrels, washers and dryers, and bathrooms including showers. Drivers filled the lounge. Almost all were men with the exception of a woman or two.

Unlike other male dominated occupations the Women’s Movement has yet to make much of a dent in the trucking industry. Not surprisingly all the female drivers including Jan, are independent, confident, assertive, capable of taking care of themselves, and living life on their own termsWe sat outside in the cool evening. Jan introduced me to the people she knew. There were chuckles when they found out I was not a driver but a passenger who had never traveled by big rig before.

It is a pretty exclusive club; sleeping in the bunk of a truck and showering on the road probably doesn’t appeal to a lot of people.
Our society stigmatizes the long haul driver as well.

Nevertheless, new scenery enchants me; my eyes are always looking for the next landscape or attraction. There are many things that are different on the open road and missing any of them is just not an option.

While my role on this trip was that of an outsider, everyone we met was kind, no one was rude. In fact all those I met were enjoyable.

They were a variegated crew of married and single guys, all trying to make a, living, wanting to take care of their families. They were from many different states and from all walks of life.

Jen, one of Jan’s road friends, is part of a driving team with her husband Jim, a driver of over twenty years. The pair has journeyed together for most of themAt some point Jen decided she was going to drive as well and went to school at Swift. She was in the class just ahead of Jan. Now they run into each other from time to time out on the road.

Jan completing the  paperwork required
for each load of freight she hauls and delivers.

Driving a truck is a way of life. It’s an occupation that you won’t be truly happy doing unless you were born with a knack for it or born into it. Wanderlust has to be part of who you are.

Jan began to worry that I might regret agreeing to go with her because we were going nowhere fast. The loads she was offered were of the “short distance” variety.

The problem with “short distance” loads is that a long-haul driver won’t earn enough unless the short haul takes them to freight going cross-country. Unless there is a payoff at the end of the short hall, it can actually cost the driver money.

Later we retired to the bobtail.
After a comfortable sleep the new day offered more of the same. Jan’s cell phone alert sounded often but all offers were short haul loads.

The odds of our leaving anytime soon seemed bleak at best.

That evening we gathered outside once again with other drivers. There was a cool breeze blowing as some in the group laughed at the comedians on someone’s laptop and others talIn the morning we lounged in our pajamas and drank coffee in the truck. Jan has a portable coffee maker that she fills with hot water made in a thermos-looking device that plugs into an outlet in the cab.

The on board computer displayed a couple of loads that looked promising but they didn’t work out.

We'd started our journey on Sunday and it was now Tuesday. Jan was flabbergasted at this point. At some terminals it’s not unusual to get stuck for a length of time but not at this one.

The likelihood of getting out of there that day began to fade. It was early afternoon now and Jan went to the office window to speak with one of the office guys named Tony.

He dug around and found one that had goods going to Denver.


I organized the bobtail for the journey while Jan did her pre-trip paperwork. She called her supervisor Steve in Albuquerque to give him the good news.

The load didn’t have to be in Denver until Friday so Jan asked him if she could drop it off there and have someone else deliver it (“Tcall” is the term for this.) He said he’d get back with her.

She asked me if I wanted to go to Albuquerque and possibly Phoenix. Heck yes! I told Jan that I had only been through one corner of New Mexico and never to Arizona. Before long, Steve called her back with the go-ahead.
Soon we were on the road. The direction and route took us right past my neighborhood and I waved as we went by.
Later that night we stopped at a brand new rest area off of Highway 287 just south of Amarillo.

It had been a long day and we were tired. We cleaned up in the quiet rest area building then went back to the truck and straight to sleep.

Our first full day of travel was just a few hours away and we didn’t want to miss a minute of it.

Please return next Tuesday for another episode of Claire's life on the road...
To ask Claire a question, please leave it in the comments section.

Claire Hickey is a member of Greater Fort Worth Writers Group and writes for the communities of the Washington Times.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


This is the final part of my dialogue regarding the state of publishing with Randy Ingermanson. This is a timely discussion, not just because its coming on the tail end of Digital Book World Conference, or even the current state of publishing, but my own publishing company’s recent review of the last year, which has led us to make a few changes. I’ve touched on a few in this interview, but even since then, as we’ve watched what is going on around us in the world of publishing, we’ve made adjustments. We are already seeing some excellent results for efforts. Next week we’ll post about some of the changes Who Dares Wins Publishing is making and what you can expect from us in the future.

Randy: Part of the publishers' problem is that contracts written more than 10 years ago don't really cover e-books.

Bob: That's what I'm battling Random House over. I stupidly signed away 2 books to them last year, but declined to do any further.

Randy: Books published in the last few years will never go out of print now, because of e-books. Unless you put clauses in the contract to redefine what out of print means.

Bob: There are clauses being built in on that. RH says less than 300 sold in two reporting periods, which is pretty low.

Randy: My agent friends tell me that publishers are rewriting the contracts.

Bob: Yes. The 25% eBook royalty isn't going to work much longer.

Randy: I think it has to go up to 50%, which is still low compared to 70% or 90%, but most authors would be willing to take that to avoid the work. But 25% seems unfair to most authors.

Bob: Yes. We offer 40% right now. It's currently higher than pretty much everywhere else.

Randy: This is a time of chaos for publishing.

Bob: Yes. And the key is to stay on top of all the latest information and try to sift through it all.

Randy: Right, things change every month.

Bob: Reading blogs, things like your newsletter, PW, going to conferences. It's all key. Twitter is a good information source. I hit probably five or six links from people who have good information every day to stay updated.

Randy: One thing that's changing is the required lengths of books.

Bob: Yes. We're focusing soon on shorts. 10-15 thousand words at $2.99. And, on the other end, it doesn't cost any more to do a 170,000 words book.

Randy: The nice thing is that you could write a 10k book in a week.

Bob: Or pull it together from a bunch of blog posts.

Randy: Whereas most authors would be stressed to do a 100k book in a month.

Bob: Yes. I'm getting some experts to put together shorts on their particular fields.

Randy: And as you say, books that were formerly too long (more than 150k or so) can be done economically. It only adds a few cents to the Amazon cost to the author to do a really long book. I think they charge the author about 5 cents in delivery fees for a normal sized book.

Bob: Yes. The other interesting thing is going to be enhanced ebooks. We're not sure how that's going to work, but we're playing with it.

Randy: Meaning "director's cut" editions? Something I've been thinking about a lot.

Bob: Adding in links to photos, maps, etc. And, like Baldacci did, extra content.

Randy: Most of the e-book readers won't support video.

Bob: No. And it could be distracting if done badly.

Randy: The iPad could handle it, I think, but not the current Kindle.

Bob: Readers read. That's why I'm not a fan of film trailers for books. Different medium.

Randy: The thing with video is that it requires really good production values or it looks hokey. I don't like them either. I looked at trailers for a while and found that I was unimpressed with every trailer I'd seen. And a 3 minute video feels like forever. I'd rather have text so I can skim.

Bob: Exactly. I used to have video of my presentations, but dropped it because the quality wasn't good enough. And, interestingly, people would rather listen to CDs or MP3 than watch something. That's another area where we get income: MP3 downloads of my workshops. We're on iTunes with that. We also sell MP3 direct. Just got an order as we've been talking for my Warrior Writer presentation.

Randy: Audio has high value to the customer. They can put it on an iPod and listen on the commute or in the gym. I've been selling MP3 direct on my site for a long time because it's a great deal for customers and therefore a great deal for me.

Bob: Yes. It's one of those things that took a little while to perfect, but we've got it down now.

Randy: What are your thoughts on podcasting books in segments?

Bob: I don't know about podcasts. We've been discussing them, but it's a big investment in time. So it's on our "to look at" list.

Randy: It's something I'd love to try for promoting my novels.

Bob: One thing we thought of yesterday was a free eBook with excerpts from all our books. A sampler. So that will be done before the end of the month

Randy: That would be cool. People tend to be quick to download free, but not so quick to consume it.

Bob: Yes. But it only costs us the time to put it together. It's hard to tell what works and what doesn't as far as promotion.

Randy: One thing I think might be cool would be an "omnibus" version of a series -- get them all in one big e-book at a price that's much better than buying them one by one. It could work for a complete series. Not so much for a series in progress.

Bob: Good idea. I think we'll try that for my Atlantis series. Have six books in it. Pull them all together at a discount. (We’ve already done this since the interview and bundled all six books for the price of four. Also, we cut prices on all our fiction 50%, just this week).

Randy: Joe Konrath mentioned this idea on his blog a few months ago and I've been itching to try it.

Bob: Actually, we could do it this weekend and get it up. I'll let you know how it goes. That's the great thing about eBooks -- you can do things fast.

Randy: Right, once you're past the learning curve. I think you'd need to price it so that it's still a good deal if people have bought one or two books. So it needs to be a deep discount. That's my hunch.

Bob: I'll update you on it. I can hear my partner in NY groaning as I've just made more work for her. But since the books are already individually formatted, it shouldn't take much time.

Randy: LOL, just what she needs -- more work.

Bob: Yeah. Our To Do list is never-ending.

Randy: I'd love to hear how it works out.

Bob: I'll email you and also blog about it at Write It Forward

Randy: One last thing before we break -- how important is POD for an author going the e-book route?

Bob: I don't think it's that important, unless you have a following or are doing non-fiction. We put non-fiction on LSI right away. For fiction, we do a couple a month as they get traction in eBook to keep our overhead reasonable.

Randy: Makes sense to me. LSI is Lightning Source, right?

Bob: Yes. The good thing is you can also sell via LSI in the UK. And it’s expanding to Australia this year.

Randy: When you say "overhead" you're referring to the cost of typesetting, correct?

Bob: Set up costs. Plus, formatting takes quite a while for the POD book. That was a steep learning curve. You only get two shots at upload or they charge extra.

Randy: Gack! What are the setup costs for Lightning Source?

Bob: $75 initially and then another $20 charge for something else. Not too bad. But when you're doing a lot of titles, it adds up.

Randy: Right. Plus the time to do it. And time is money.

Bob: Time is the key for that.

Randy: OK, we've covered a huge amount in the last hour. Anything to add?

Bob: Just reiterate that it's a great time to be a writer, but the most important thing is to have great content.

Randy: Agreed on that. Thanks for your time!

Bob: Thanks -- have a great weekend.

For more information on Bob, his books workshops, and  publishing company go to: and

Friday, February 4, 2011



Bob Mayer and Randy Ingermanson continue their conversation on the state of publishing.

I’m going to pick up the interview right were I left off from the last post. I will post the last part of the interview over the weekend. Next week will be discussing some of the changes we are making at Who Dares Wins Publishing as we’ve completed a series of after action reviews. It’s an exciting time to be an author.

Randy: Tell me more about Who Dares Wins.

Bob: We started it to get my backlist out in eBook and POD. Once we went through our learning curve, we realized we could expand and have slowly been doing that. Taking on other writers.

Randy: How does your acquisition process work?

Bob: Right now, it’s mainly authors who have rights to their backlist. Most authors think they can do it themselves, but it’s not as easy as it appears.

Randy: No kidding. There is a learning curve on the formatting of an e-book. And most e-books need cover art because they can’t use their old covers from the original book.

Bob: And we’ve done a book that needed to be out right away on social media for writers. A traditional publisher would have taken a year to get it out, which would have made it obsolete. Cover art requires an expensive program and expertise. Has to pop in thumbnail.

Randy: Meaning that a 100 x 150 pixel cover is a whole different game from a 600 x 900 pixel cover.

Bob: Yes. Simple is better. Contrast is important.

Randy: But on the plus side, the cover will appear in RGB format, not CMYK. Which means that certain colors that simply can’t be done on a paper cover will work on electronic media.

Bob: We just did a blog on cover art and some things we learned. We’re still learning. Also there are six different eBook formats right now, so that’s a lot of work.

Randy: Do you automate the process of putting out all the formats? SmashWords uses their “meat grinder” technology to produce them all from one Word file.

Bob: Right now, the other half of my company, Jen Talty, does all that. We dropped Smashwords because you lose some control over pricing and that then becomes an issue with Amazon’s webcrawler.

Randy: Can you elaborate on that? What control do you lose?

Bob: When Smashwords puts a book to all its sources, those sources can reprice it. Amazon will then lower your price on Kindle to the lowest price it finds.

Randy: Amazon has the market clout to do that.

Bob: Yes. So we lost our 70% royalty on some books that got priced below the $2.99 threshold.

Randy: Gack! Not good. The 70% Amazon royalty is huge for authors. That makes the game reasonable.

Bob: We pulled them and are now reloading on Smashwords but restricting where the books can go. The CEO of Smashwords actually came to my blog to explain what they were doing, so it’s getting worked out. What no one talks about is 100% royalty.

Randy: Meaning?

Bob: We’ve formatted all our books for the various devices. When someone buys an eBook directly from our web site, we don’t have a middle man.

Randy: Right, but you still have credit card charges, which amount to about 14% of the price on a $2.99 book. Roughly.

Bob: We use Paypal right now, and I think their % is under 5%.

Randy: It is, but they also charge a $.30 base fee, which is about 10% on a $2.99 book. Both PayPal and credit card charges work out about the same, when all is said and done. I love PayPal, by the way. But on small ticket sales, there’s a hefty fee as a percentage of the sale.

Bob: Yes. Still, a 90% royalty is very nice.

Randy: Yes, it’s much better than 8% from a major publisher. Which gets paid 9 months after the purchase. With a percentage held back for fear of returns.

Bob: Yes. I earn more in one month from a book we publish than six months from my traditional royalties.

Randy: I’m not surprised. Speaking of returns, do you think the industry is going to change the return policy in the future? I’m astonished that it’s still in place.

Bob: Yes. Because Print On Demand is the future. Once the price point on the Espresso Machine gets low enough, they’ll be no more shipping of books to bookstores. They’ll be printed right there. We use POD to supplement our eBook sales. We find that for non-fiction, readers often want the physical book.

Randy: I agree. For fiction, I always get the e-book now. But for nonfiction reference books, I still like paper. You don’t think brick and mortar bookstores will die, do you?

Bob: Sadly, I think brick and mortars will die. They already are. Unless they specialize. Do what Starbucks is doing. The trend is to go local. Local authors, local books. Hold more events. Use the Espresso Machine as an income source by letting people print their own books right there.

Randy: But local has the disadvantage that it doesn’t scale. An author can only be in one place at a time. Whereas the web never sleeps.

Bob: True. And with social media an author has a much greater reach than ever before. I think it’s an exciting time to be an author.

Randy: It’s a GREAT time to be an author. You’ve got a book out on social media correct? By one of your authors?

Bob: We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media by Kristen Lamb. What’s key about her book is she focuses on content BEFORE worrying about getting on social media. Most authors are using social media poorly without a plan. For example, authors using their book cover or their pet as an avatar is wrong. Unless they’re only going to write one book or sell their pet.

Randy: A lot of authors try to just promote themselves, rather than promoting ideas. Content is still king.

Bob: Content is King. But I’ve had to accept promotion is Queen.

Randy: Promotion is a whole lot easier when there’s content to back it up.

Bob: Most writers hate promoting. Author is INFJ on Myers-Briggs. Exact opposite, ESTP is promoter.

Randy: Right, I’m an INTP myself. So maybe I’m a half and half.

Bob: Yes. Always have to have great content.

Randy: One thing established authors have is name recognition. Like David Morrell, one of my favorite thriller writers.

Bob: Yes. Being a Brand. Morrell just bypassed traditional publishing.

Randy: Right, and I bet he’ll do extremely well.

Bob: He will. Along with his backlist.

Randy: That’s one thing people don’t talk about much with e-books, but it’s huge — backlist. When you discover a new author and he has a big backlist, you can get it all. Instantly.

Bob: I’ve got 18 titles from my backlist up and it’s great to watch the money roll in.

Randy: I just started reading Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. I started with Book 15.

Bob: His first book, Killing Floor, is classic.

Randy: Then I went back to Book 1 and started buying the whole series. That’s a whole lot easier to do with e-books than with p-books.

Bob: Yes — people who read eBooks buy more books. That’s a glimmer of hope if publishers will embrace it. But they haven’t yet.

Randy: E-books are always in stock and they’re available at 3 AM on a Saturday night in Ulan Bator.

Bob: And they tend to be impulse buys.

This is a good place to take a break. As mentioned earlier, I will post the rest of the interview over the weekend.

For more information on Bob, his books, workshops, and publishing company go to: and

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