Monday, June 28, 2010

And Now, My Pretty....

Over at Jungle Red Writers ( I've just blogged about those improbable plot twists that can really turn us off from a story--the girl who goes down to the basement in the storm, with the serial killer in the neighborhood... you know the kind of thing. So hop over and add your comments.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Don't Wave that Fish at me!

Okay, I confess it. I am not the world's best typist. In the days of the old typewriters I was hopeless. Even when the powerball was invented, I wasn't too hot. Then came computers and--hooray--for the first time I could type as fast as I could think. It changed my world.

However, typing this fast does sometimes lead to mistakes, which are not always picked up when I read through, and then somehow overlooked by my copy-editors, and proof-readers. One of these was pointed out to me yesterday by the actress who is reading the Royal Spyness books. In the book Royal Flush I have a character called Hugo Beasley-Bottome. I know it's a silly name, but the sort of name one does find among the English aristocracy. (I went to school with a Joan Fairbottom) Anyway, once in the book I refer to him as "Huge Beastly-Bottome."  My reader wanted to know if this was correct and I was being funny.
Not at all. Just a bad typist accompanied by sloppy proof readers.

And today I've just made another howler, only I caught this one on a read-through. I wanted to write, "She shook her fist at him." 
Instead I wrote, "She shook her fish at him."
I could see all my readers puzzled over where this lady managed to find a fish in a drawing room.

It's not my fault. My hands have a life of their own. They sometimes type words I don't want them to type. It's rather like my car having a mind of its own and taking me to a familiar site when I am really headed in the opposite direction.

So fellow writers, have you ever made a really funny typing error that was not picked up? And readers--have you ever come across anything worse that Huge Beastly-Bottome?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mordor is Real

Okay, I believe. Mordor exists. Sauron is real. Not just because there is so much evil in the world. I have more positive proof than that.
It would take an inspired evil genius to invent the internet and thus make us slaves to our computers for hours each day instead of getting out into the fresh air and interacting with each other.
And it would take an even more inspired evil genius to invent Twitter and enslave us by getting constant tweet updates on our cell phones.
How do I know Sauron is behind this? The language is a dead give-away. Take the latest twist on Twittering that I've been introduced to: HASHTAG.
a HASHTAG is a mark one makes before a word so that the tweet is relayed to everyone interested in that particular word. Example #books. #Rhys Bowen.  #bestseller.
Isn't HASHTAG one of the words that was written inside the One Ring? Has the evil one sneaked other Mordor words into our vocabulary? Is the entire poem from inside the one ring out there somewhere on the internet? Will the next new aps be burzum ishi-krimpatul? Is that volcano that keeps spewing out ash in Iceland really Mount Doom?
Don't say I didn't warn you.

And on a cheerier note: I have a lovely new website, designed by Sue Trowbridge. Please go over to and take a look!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Anything Other than Write!

Am I the only writer who would rather do anything other than write? I mean anything--laundry, clean bathroom, sweep patio. I know I have a certain number of pages to write every day and I enjoy the satisfaction of seeing the word count creeping up on my new book, and of the story actually turning into something I like. So why can't I just sit there and get on with it?

It was bad enough when all I had to lure me away from my writing was the pile of laundry and the geraniums that needed dead heading. Then Satan invented the internet and email and fascinating websites. But now there's Facebook and I have to check on what my friends have been doing for the past hour, and there's Twitter, and yes, this blog waiting for new and witty comments. Too many excuses not to write.  And guess what, I've just downloaded a Scrabble app for my iPod Touch. Next I may even succumb to Farmville!

And do you know what is causing this undisciplined behavior? I am ahead of my deadline. I'm giving myself plenty of time to do this book so that I am not under pressure for the last month. So what have I realized? I work best under pressure. I need that clock ticking, that deadline hanging over me to make me write. I need that pump of adrenaline to make the ideas come spurting out. (sorry, that's a disgustingly visual metaphor)

So I may go and enjoy the delightful summer weather that's finally arrived in California, and then write like crazy next week.
What about it, fellow writers--can you work in disciplined fashion all year, or do you need intense bursts of creativity and looming deadlines to work well?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Who are you calling 'Dear'?

Something terrible happened to me the other day. I was sitting in a coffee shop and the waitress called me “dear.” “Here, you are, dear,” she said, putting my coffee in front of me.

Then it hit. Oh God. She thinks I’m old. She’s speaking to me in that voice reserved for the elderly and the mentally retarded. Well, I didn’t intend to become old for many more years. I don’t feel old. I don’t think I look old. But obviously in the eyes of the very young, I have gone over the hill.

I got hints of that on my book tour last year. A woman of a certain age, traveling alone, is invisible. When I entered the hotel restaurant I was either ignored or asked, “Are you waiting for someone?” as if a woman was not allowed to enter the place alone and would never consider sitting alone to eat. Once I tried the response, “You never know. I may get lucky tonight.” At which they blushed and looked shocked.

A similar thing happened at the car rental. I stood behind a gray haired man in line. He was served immediately but nobody served me, even though there appeared to be someone free at the counter. Not being the most patient of people I asked, “Isn’t anyone free to help me?”

“We thought you with this gentleman,” was the response.

“Do you always assume if you see two people in line that they’re together?” I asked.

So the message to the world is quite clear. Women once they pass a certain age are not supposed to travel alone. Actually, women before a certain age are viewed with suspicion too. I remember eating in posh hotel dining rooms when I was a young woman on a book tour. Then the men at surrounding tables eyed me to see if I was sitting there with the express intention of being picked up. In those days I always took a book with me. Or ordered room service.

One small trick I’ve learned to make sure I get proper attention (and feel free to use this, ladies) is never to accept the first, or even the second table offered. “I’d prefer to sit by the window, et.” Then immediately ask to see the wine list and order something esoteric. Ask how the chef prepares the salmon. Take out your iPhone and bark “I can’t discuss it now. I’m eating. My office, tomorrow morning.” You need to come across as a power broad. Someone not to be trifled with.

I was on a flight last year beside a young man who shouted into his Blackberry until we took off. As we came into Houston he asked, "So, are you coming visit family?"
"No," I replied. "Are you?"
He looked amused. "I'm here on business," he said.
"So am I," I replied.
So the message to all you ladies out there who have reached a certain age is to refuse to be invisible. I think the Red Hat ladies have the right idea. When I get old I will wear purple etc.  We will not go gently into that good night!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Judging a book by its cover.

I've just been sent the cover sketch for my next Molly book, called Bless the Bride. It's absolutely gorgeous. I wish I could show it to you, but it's top secret at the moment.
The only problem is that it isn't right for the story. The story does lead up to Molly's wedding, it's true, but most of it takes place in the dark, dangerous alleyways of New York's Chinatown.
So here is the dilemma--should the cover reflect the dangerous backstreets of Chinatown or should it relfect the excitement of leading up to Molly's wedding? I fear if the cover looks too romantic it will put off my male fans. And there are so many interesting insights into Chinese life in this book which might attract readers of history and culture.
You can see it's a juggling act. The gorgeous cover would entice readers who like their mysteries a little romantic, but then they'd be disappointed because the book isn't all about romance. However brides sell better than Chinese backstreets.
So, dear readers--how much does the cover influence you when you buy a book? Are you annoyed when the cover doesn't truly represent the story?