Sunday, April 28, 2019


Anyone who has spent any time around me knows I love roses. I've had them as an integral part of my landscape and in my writing, for years. When I was in Austin, I found the Antique Rose Emporium, who specializes in (you'll never guess) antique roses. Their website even breaks down the various varieties into the type of fragrance they offer. When I moved to North Carolina, my little patch of yard had two rose bushes, leggy, spindly things. I pruned them back, fed them with my favorite rose food, and was rewarded with only one rose. One bloom for the entire season.

Sadly, it didn't even have much of a scent.

A few days ago, I was at a major home improvement store, in their outdoor section, which was bustling with folks. The woman behind me in line had a rose bush in her basket and I asked if she'd ever heard of the Antique Rose Emporium. She said she only grew Knockout roses, which have heavy blooms, but alas, no heavy scent. No scent at all.

So which way do you lean? Do you want show or do you want substance? Because roses are as much a part of me as my writing is, I favor substance. I want heavy fragrance, and continual blooms all season. I even wrote about roses in the first of the Flower Girl series. My heroine spent her days in the greenhouse, talking to her roses. I admit to doing the same.

My rose from the Antique Rose Emporium arrived yesterday. I passed on the one that smelled like pineapples in favor of an old-time musky scent. My new rose is called The Beverly. I just planted Bev in the back yard along with a huge gulp of water and some of my famous rose food. All she needs is some sunlight and she'll hopefully spread her toes in the sandy soil of North Carolina and take off.
Here's Beverly!
My conversation with the stranger with the Knockout did yield something good, though. She told me of a place in Vancouver, Canada, where they have acre after acre of roses that perfume the air. I'm going to have to check it out.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Mueller Time

Like most Americans, I've been riveted to the news this week. The long-anticipated report from Bob Mueller was finally ready for viewing. The news reporters reminded me of gleeful children at Halloween with too much candy from which to choose.

Although I was pleased that I was able to understand the Cliff Notes versions of the report the news folk divulged, I was tantalized by the fact I could download and read the entire 400 pages. I googled how to do it, hit the button, and had this strange screen appear on my computer. I couldn't get rid of it and get back to the normal screen of favorites that I see whenever I open Safari. So I decided to shut down and restart my computer to try to get rid of it. By the way, I didn't get the report. One more thing to blame Trump for.

When I started the computer back up again, I was instructed to enter my password, which I did. However, Apple didn't recognize that password and asked if I wanted to reset. I went along with them, tried a new password, and got the message that this computer wasn't eligible for a new Apple ID. I was effectively locked out of my computer.

Since the nearest Genius Bar is two hours away, I called the Apple help line. It took hours to figure out what had happened. My frustration level hit an all-time high, since I'm not the most tech savvy person on the planet. But in the end, they figured out what had happened and how to get rid of the annoying screen. And they cleaned up a lot of space on my computer, helping me eliminate old programs that were occupying way too many gigabytes, or whatever.

I still have no copy of the report, but have decided that's okay. I'd rather have a functioning computer so I can make a living. Maybe I should stay away from politics.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Advertising Hype

I attended a writer's conference this weekend. It had been billed as an A to Z of self-publishing, and since I'd just regained the rights to two of my books, I thought it a timely discussion. So, despite the prediction of rain all day, off I went, on a 3-hour round trip in the pouring rain to have the speaker impart her words of wisdom. Come hell or high water, I wasn't about to miss this talk.

When I arrived at my location, it wasn't just raining–it was pouring. Sheets of rain slammed down on the hood of my car.

My in-car umbrella decided to play hide and seek with me, so I sat for a few minutes in the downpour, hoping for a break–which didn't happen. I wasn't about to sit in the parking lot and miss the meeting, so I took off at a brisk walk toward the door.

Brisk pace or not, by the time I got inside the building I was drenched. My t-shirt clung to my back in a cold, icy grip and I could feel my muscles begin to seize up. My shoes made little squishy noises as I walked across the marble floor. My hair, never known for putting on a good show, gave up completely and dribbled onto my cheeks. A quick check in the ladies' room proved what I'd already guessed. I looked like something the cat had drug in, after she tossed me in a few puddles.

I wiped the mascara off my face, propped my wet locks behind my ears, and proceeded to the meeting. I am nothing if not motivated and persistent. But, alas, here's where the problem began. (I  know what you're thinking...)

Either I'd read the wrong meeting blurb or the speaker had, but the talk wasn't about self-publishing at all. Rather, it was how to write and market a book. The speaker had come prepared with a slide show and handouts. Which she then proceeded to read.

This type of speaker has always bothered me. I'm a writer, as is everyone else in this meeting. Which means we know how to read. Words are our business. I don't need someone to read for me what I can read on the screen myself. I want embellishment on the points being flashed on the screen. So I got grumpy. Not only was I not getting the talk I'd driven here for, it was being read from a screen to me, as if I couldn't make out the words on my own.

Or maybe I was just cold and damp. The puddle under my seat kept growing.

After spending most of my professional life in the advertising business, you'd think I'd have learned not to trust the advertising hype. I sat quietly, damp and cold, and kicked myself for not double checking the agenda. Then, the speaker told me something new. Something I'd never thought of before. Eureka!

As I drove home, I realized hell hadn't come to North Carolina, but some of the rivers were running out of their banks. And while I didn't learn anything about self-publishing, I learned something. Time well spent.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Fast Or Slow?

Early on in my writing career, I attended a lecture held by Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jayne Anne Krentz. Their wit, and their obvious friendship with each other was inspiring. But what struck me most was the different approach they each took to their writing. One wrote very fast, the other took a more slow approach. The takeaway from this meeting was I needed to figure out which approach worked best for me and not be swayed or intimidated by another author's output. What was important was to keep the storyline moving toward "the end" every day.

I took their advice to heart and now, with 19 books under my belt and more than that under the bed, I've found an agreeable pace for myself. I know the first 500 words are the hardest for me each day. It's like I'm slogging through mud as each word is slow to develop, elusive and just out of my grasp. But I also know that at some point during those 500 words the scene takes over and the remaining 500 words of my daily output are quick to follow. I can sometimes get to 2,000 words a day, but that's a rarity. But looking at the big picture helps. If I write 1000 words a day, in two months' time, I will have a flash first draft of a book. Usually it works.

But my current WIP has altered my formula. I began the book in early February, so according to my timeline, I should have the first draft completed by now. Not happening. There's something about these characters–Pippa and Daniel–and something about the time period –the American Revolutionary War–that keeps me adding to the story line.

I'm only about halfway to the end of the story and all they've managed to do is share some cheroots and a couple of kisses. Yes, Pippa likes the occasional cigar and blows some impressive smoke rings. By the time I crawl to "the end" I figure I'll have a first draft of about 80,000 words. Usually I need to go back through my flash draft and add in description and emotion, fleshing out the structure. In this case, I may have to cut words from it

Life could be worse.

How about you? Do you write fast, like Jayne Anne, or slow, like Susan Elizabeth?