2 Blondes, 1 Redhead & a Reviewer

Archive for the month “April, 2013”

You suck


Yes, I’ve heard that more than once, but more frequently now that readers have more outlets on the internet.  Does it bother me?  Sometimes.  I’m pretty thick-skinned but sometimes a reader will post something incredibly stupid and that irritates me.  Hey – if I could write a book that appealed to everyone, I’d be one wealthy woman.


The latest comment that jerked my chain was where else?  Goodreads.  Some reader took me to task for describing a location the same way in 2 different books.  Note to reader – it’s an ongoing series and the descriptions have to have continuity.  I can’t just make up new descriptions in every book.  If I did there would be more Goodreads floggings with my name attached.


Here’s what I don’t like.  The internet gives people anonymity and that often inspires people to say things they wouldn’t normally say.  I had one reader who posted a review on Amazon and while I was fine with the fact that she hated everything about the book, I was pissed when she announced who the murderer was in her review.  I did complain to Amazon and they removed the review as it violated their posting policies. (BTW, in my complaint I asked only that they remove the one sentence reveal of the villain, it was their choice to take it down in its entirety).


Here’s a factoid . . . some authors pay people to write positive reviews for them on all the sites.  If a genuine reader wants to comment, positively or negatively, I’m good with that.  I’m not good with the practice of buying five star reviews.  You?



People Are Strange

When you’re a stranger – faces look ugly, when you’re alone…who doesn’t love The Doors, or Jim Morrison, who could be the Poster Boy for Strange?
I am going to avoid the obvious selection in my life of people who have been horrid, in favor of a light an fluffy sort of awful, lol. Working with the public provides endless sources of “what the hell?” And last week was no exception. A woman shaped like a water barrel with legs wearing costume make up (blue eye shadow, black liner, pink cheeks and red lips) pranced inside the shop and ordered an iced coffeee.
Easy, right?
No. She requested the barista wash his hands, put on gloves, and add precisely twelve ice cubes. Two pumps of classic – light non fat milk. In a sing song voice, she made her specifications very clear.
The barista, wanting to make the customer happy, did every step as required, then handed off the drink with a smile.
She handed it back, telling him to do it again. He’d put a lid on the drink, and she didn’t want one.
After doing it all over, the barista presented the beverage, with a smile, lolololol, and the woman walked over and deposited an imaginary tip in the box before dancing out the door.
I think I’ll take TWO of whatever she’s having….

Share your strange story!!


When the past comes back to bite you


Social media can be a wonderful thing, but it also has its drawbacks.  A couple of weeks ago I got a friend request from a guy I knew briefly in college 30+ years ago.  I made the mistake of going out with him once and the next thing I knew, he was planning our wedding.  Back in the day – before caller ID and the word stalking was in vogue, he was considered a pain in the ass.  Now I’m not implying he was dangerous, just persistent.  I didn’t find out until after the date from hell that he lived in the apartment across from mine with a clear view into my bedroom.  My roommate was kind enough to switch rooms with me but Mr. Persistent kept calling.  After a month or so I told him I was seeing someone.  In about a week he called to tell me I’d lied – which I had – there was no boyfriend.  He continued calling and making a pest of himself until the end of the semester.  I switched rooms and never heard from him again.


Until the seven Facebook messages.  Apparently his persistence is a lifelong thing.  I checked out his profile and he’s married with five kids.  Still lives in my old hometown.  Apparently none of that stopped him from asking if I was happily married.  Seriously?  I ignored him.  I guess once a stalker always a stalker.

Writers behaving badly…

Hum.  Do I get to name names?   No? Okay, fine. I have dish.

It’s Romance Writers of America conference in NYC some years ago.  Yours truly was a volunteer and the Line Gestapo at registration.  You had to have a face I.D.  You’d think we’d asked for a lung the way people complained.  However, I was informed by the fire marshal that the lines had to be neat and short in case of fire so we could leave without a stampede.  He wanted to shut us down and make RWA move to a larger room, it was that crowded.  I was vigilant, very Marine wife.

The face I.D. thing is what bothered the big wig historical author.  When informed, she said she didn’t have one but that will be okay. I repeat the RWA registration instruction and she insists, she won’t need an I.D. because all these people could vouch for her.  I told her that didn’t matter, no face ID and you’ll have to go to the longer line.

You’d think I’d slapped her.  “Don’t you know who I am?” she demands.  Loudly.

My response was, ”No, I don’t, but you should know that I am the  person you have to  get past to register.“  I walked away.  My work was done.

I didn’t have to repeat that story.  Several did it for me, bless their hearts.   After 20 years in this business, I have plenty of stories of authors full of their own crap, er.. self importance, but a couple stand out.

A NY Times bestseller at a luncheon with several newbies like me blabbed her advance numbers with, “Can you believe they only paid me a million two for two books?”

No, I couldn’t.

Let’s see…  At another NY conference a pal of mine won a little red rubber duck for asking the best question. She went around the conference and took photos of ‘famous’ writers with said duck.  I recall a photo of James Rollins with it on his head, another of it on a cop’s car on the New York streets and my favorite was Clive Cussler giving it a scolding.  Nearly everyone just jumped on the idea and played with it.


One International bestselling author, one of those who writes with another author, gives them second billing and never thanks them when the books win awards—was signing books.   Placing the duck on a stack of his books, my friend starts to tell him about the photos when snotty pretentious author flicked the duck off the book and across the room.  Very pointedly done too.  To a fellow writer no less.  A first class jack ass.

Need I say more?

Be a snot, I don’t care because I believe in my soul what you put out there, comes back to you three fold.  Send out good, and good comes back to you. But send out bad… speech, behavior etc. and you’ll get it right back in your lap. Three fold.  What goes around, comes around.

Besides people will tell the story next time–with names.

I live my writing career by a beloved quote from humorist Erma Bombeck, “Never forget your last book is only a garage sale away.”


Whoop Ti Do Authors

Ego can be a tricky thing. We want to be confidant as we discuss our books. We want to share the world we’ve created with others who might like our project, and by extension, us.  Authors are not movie stars – typically, lol. Harley Jane Kozak is an exception that comes to mind, and she is as humble as she is beautiful! Most of the authors I know are on the quiet side of the spectrum, and more comfortable behind the table than at a podium with a microphone. I happen to love a micrphone, but I taught myself to treat my booksignings as sales events, and I had to be both artist and promoter. I did a stint as president of my local writing chapter (Gooo FRW!) which allowed me to grow my confidence. Ego, acting in a way that is appropriate. Healthy.

Who knows if another stint behind the podium would have been the turning point, taking my confidence to the diva stage? Okay, that’s not really me – but the one time I witnessed an author behaving badly, it came as a shock. This person was nice as pie, worked hard, and believed in her craft. Generous, too. So imagine my surprise when she behaved like a D I V A at a local booksigning with other authors. She wanted a table separate from ours, and across the room. And she was not above having a temper to get her way.

Wow. She’s reverted back to sweet and wonderful since then, but I’ve never forgotten it. I’m always on guard for those moments when an otherwise healthy confidence level can take a turn toward prideful monster – bwahahahahaha.

I’ve got amazing friends in this industry, and both of my fellow babes are part of my growing up process. I’ve been blessed, and shown the ropes. I hope to do the same for anyone needing a helping hand – this industry does not have to be cut throat. In fact, if that is the support you are getting, I’d suggest moving on 🙂

Okay – fan girl moments? Meeting Tim Dorsey at Murder on the Beach bookstore – amazing. He wore a stained sweater and khakis – seemed nervous, but oh so very nice. Catherine Coulter – love her!  She was very sweet, and had her ‘assistant’ take my name and email info. Heather Graham – down to earth and really amazing human being, Cherry Adair, the most generous woman in the universe – I even met Nora Roberts once! The list goes on, and I’m pleased to say, that aside from that one incident, I’ve never been treated rude by a writer.

I’ve spilled my guts – who have you met? Nice, or nay?

Eleanor of Aquitaine had a sibling, who

Eleanor of Aquitaine had a sibling, who some believe was the cause of King Louis’ deep seated guilt over the Battle of Vitry, which led to his fervor toward Crusade and gaining God’s forgiveness. Who was this person?

taxes should be finished – how about a F

taxes should be finished – how about a FREE download of Queen’s Guard: VIOLET by Traci E Hall?

The pretentious author

Okay, we all know one or two.  Those people who treat their book/career as if they discovered a cure for AIDS instead of writing a book to entertain.  I’ve been privileged to get to know many ‘big name’ authors and in my experience 99% of them are lovely people.  That 1% is the problem.  I know a moderately successful author who refers to fans and the unpublished as ‘the little people’ or ‘the great unwashed.’  All the while she pays someone to write glowing words of thanks when the same people send her a compliment.  That rankles.  I hate when an author gets so full of herself/himself that they forget what it was like to be an aspiring author, or how special it felt to meet someone whose work you really loved.


I know authors who won’t do workshops because they consider it training their successors.  Seriously?  I’ve never met anyone who attended a workshop and sold a manuscript as a result. 


But there is a caveat to all this.  People often misinterpret behavior.  Me?  I hate book signings.  They make me feel uncomfortable and I’m not the kind of person to hawk potential buyers.  I’ve heard people make comments about my MIA approach to signing.  A book signing is a two Xanax event for me.  I do them once or twice a year but that’s about it.  Not because I think I’m so wonderful that I shouldn’t participate, I just get too nervous.


Then there’s the pretentious author who won’t deal with an editor.  Many big name authors don’t want to be edited.  They love their own words and think them sacrosanct.  Me?  I think and editor makes a book better.  They often see what I couldn’t because they’re reading it clean.  I can’t imagine being so impressed with myself that I ignored an important step in the process.


Then there’s the author who believes his/her own press.  I’ve seen this a lot.  They hit the Times list and suddenly they’re all bitchy and demanding.  Really?  Very few people base their buying habits on the Times list.  Hell, a lot of people have no clue there is a Times list.  Not that hitting the list isn’t a milestone, it is.  But thinking you’re the best thing since sliced bread goes a bit too far.


My nominee for the best successful author – Lee Child.  He’s warm, funny, humble, talented, gracious, and generous with his time and his knowledge.  He’s the kind of author who gives authors a good name.


Ever had a run in with an imperfect author?  How about a role model?  Know someone who is a standout?


Happy writing, Rhonda

Welcome to workshop week



I’ve already vented about pantsers, so I’ll spare the diatribe.  Suffice to say I’m not a proponent of vomit it up and clean it up later writing.  Why write and edit yourself to death when you don’t have to?


So what’s my tip . . . don’t forget pacing when you’re plotting your book (or even writing the synopsis).  Your story has to unfold so the characters are different on page 500 from when we originally met them.  Pacing properly can help build this character and story arc.  You need to remember a few things . . .


First, your pacing should look like an EKG.  There should be peaks and valleys as the story unfolds.  There are places when you want serious action or deep emotional conflict and places where the story slows to develop information.


Second, sentence structure is the key.  If you’re writing for the valley – use longer, more descriptive sentences.  Conversely, for those high impact moments, you want short, stark sentences that convey urgency.


Third, don’t start in mega high mode.  If the emotional impact of the story or the action is at an all-time high, you don’t have anywhere to go.  Yes, your opening should be strong but if you start out at warp speed you have nowhere to go but down.  And you don’t want to write a story that is only on an upward climb.  The characters and story must unfold at a natural pace.  Think about it – you don’t get the same high when you buy a pair of shoes as when someone is shooting at you.  Okay, maybe that was a bad example, shoes are important.


So as you’re thinking through your story, remember to think not just in terms of character development or plot specific, think pacing too.  Keeps you from writing dead space.



Habits to break, ones to keep…

It’s true. Twenty–one days of strict guidelines for yourself and you can break a habit.  Or make one, your choice.   I say that easily, but it’s not.    I’m trying to get back to the routine that drove me through writing thirty seven books and it’s slooow  in coming.   SO—for me, I must get into the strict timeline and ignore the housework and errands until I’ve completed something.  I used to work with pages a day, not word count, but that fell by the wayside after book #10  and I just did it.  But taking writing from so-so job to I’m getting paid for this is not difficult.  Someone gave me money and I’m expected to earn it.  Duh. 

Doing that job without pay isn’t any easier and that’s where the slacker comes in and takes over. 

She is such a pain, that slacker Amy. I don’t like her so I get mad at that bad self.  And I start a new ‘let’s break that habit’ and I’m off. Sticking to it helps with constant reminders that pop up on my computer.  I need that annoying visual. 

 The habits I’ve broken were my pack and half a day smoking. I’ve quit completely for a few months, then fall off the wagon.  One smoke of a real cig and I’m right back to electronic for the simple reason that it burns my throat and tongue now.  Another habit is the no writing… yes, got into that for a nearly 2 years so this is a huge habit that must be mashed.  I’m writing daily and on something that might sell, instead of random writing exercises. 

Habit broken.

With that, I will sign off and get to work on a new proposal.


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