A Heartbreaking Goodbye

Many of you know that my dog, Gideon, has been gravely ill. And I thank you for your patience while we’ve gone through this terrible time.

Today, we had to say goodbye.

In remembrance of my baby Gid I’ve posted this poem. A kind soul posted this on my FB page when Gid’s illness took an awful turn. Grab your Kleenex. You’re going to need it.

THE LAST BATTLE

If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then will you do what must be done,
For this — the last battle — can’t be won.

You will be sad I understand,
But don’t let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day, more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.

We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn’t want me to suffer so.
When the time comes, please, let me go.
Take me to where to my needs they’ll tend.

Only, stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.

I know in time you will agree
It is a kindness you do to me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.

Don’t grieve that it must be you
Who has to decide this thing to do;
We’ve been so close — we two — these years,
Don’t let your heart hold any tears.

~Unknown

Where I’ve been… and why.

I don’t normally talk about my daily life. I guess I’m private that way. But I feel I need to clear some things up. I’ve been seriously lacking lately in reading your blog posts. I know this and I’m doing the best I can to rectify this. There is a good reason for it though. One of my dogs– Gideon, I’ve talked about him before– is gravely ill.

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Gideon

 

He’s been sick for a few weeks, but took a turn for the worse six days ago. Without going into detail, he requires massive amounts of my time while I attempt to keep him alive, with a quality life. At the same time my other dog, Cascius, is seething with jealously. So I try to give him extra attention. It’s both physically and emotionally draining.  lazylion

As such, everything else falls to the wayside. Family first. It’s a must.

I wish this wasn’t the case. I wish Gideon would magically bounce back, return to being healthy, running and playing. I wish I could leave him for a few hours to see my granddaughter, too. She’s growing so fast and we’re missing it. But the sad reality is I don’t know how much time he has left, could be days, could be weeks. When I do get a break I read to escape the horrors of my reality. Books are magical in that way. Don’t you agree?

Image from Dishin’ the Dirt with My Friends

Image from Dishin’ the Dirt with My Friends

So, I haven’t abandoned you. I always have and always will support you in any way I can. I just need a little time to deal with the ones I love. I think everyone can understand that.

I do have some exciting news, a surprise guest appearance by the author of six critically acclaimed thrillers, who’s also written two of the best craft books I’ve ever read. A must for every writer’s toolbox, IMO. I’ve also added some new links on the crime writer’s resource page and added menu items. More on all that later. For now, I’ll hold you in suspense.

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This pic just never gets old.

 

 

 

To The Writer Who Dares To Dream…

Friends often ask me why I’m glued to my computer, always in the house working and not out having fun. My answer, “Because I have a dream.”

When I first started writing a book it was exciting, new, shiny. I wanted to tell everyone about this huge undertaking. By the time I finished writing 90K words half my world knew about it. It’s human nature to want to share a new venture with the people in our lives. So I filled everyone in about rewriting my first draft, tried to educate them a bit about the process. They politely smiled and nodded because they were sick of hearing about it by this time.

Then it came time to choose a publishing path. That was when everyone had an opinion, and most didn’t know enough about either option to properly list the pros and cons. Since I didn’t know any other writers I listened to my heart and chose traditional, and then sent out my “masterpiece” just knowing that some lucky agent would snatch it up and make me an over-night sensation. A star.

steinbeck

And then…

When that first rejection came in my dreams shattered into a million pieces. Some of you will quit at this point. Some of you, like me, will be too stubborn to admit defeat. I told myself things like, “Maybe it wasn’t the right agent. I just need someone who will appreciate my hard work.”

Again, I was fooling myself. I was still riding the high of dreaming about becoming a best seller. And you know what? That’s okay. I should dream. And dream big. That’s what drives us. That’s what keeps our rear-end in the chair and us working. It’s the kind of thinking that WILL turn us into stars one day. That’s what differentiates us from the ones who quit after four rejection letters.

But I also learned that it was important to set smaller goals along the way toward that dream. And I’ll tell you why. By conquering small hurdles I had something to be proud of, a reason to pat myself on the back, a reason to keep forging ahead.

Some small goals of mine were:

1. Finish writing the first draft.

2. Finish rewriting and editing the first draft until I could not make it any better.

3. Show my polished work to a beta-reader. At this point most probably won’t have a critique partner yet unless they have friends who are writers. At least for me this step took time. It took years for me to find good critique partners. Which is why I’d bind and gag them before I’d let them go. Just kidding… sort of.

4. Tackle the query letter. Don’t rush this step. I made this mistake too. This is your first impression and you can only make it once. Trust me on this.

Once I conquered one of these goals I rewarded myself in some small way. Had my favorite treat or gave myself an hour of free time to surf the net or chat with a neighbor. Each small goal drove me toward my dream. And I was building confidence along the way in an industry that can be crushing to one’s spirit.

Writing is hard. If you don’t agree with this you’re probably not doing it right. No one– and I mean no one– ever quickly jotted down a story and sent it off only to discover it soared to number one on the New York Times’ Best Sellers List. It just doesn’t work that way. Writing is work, it’s passion, it’s art. When you write you should pour your soul into your words. Feel the emotions you’re trying to portray. Robert Frost’s famous quote: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” It’s so true. If your words don’t move you, how do you expect them to move anyone else?

no tears

Then I had to face a hard truth that my first novel might never see the light of day unless I published it myself. Which, for me, wasn’t an option. For me, that would mean compromising my dream. And I wasn’t willing to do that. Not then, not now.

Here’s a little fact that will be a hard pill to swallow for most of you. I know it was for me. Most traditionally published authors wrote four to six novels before they ever got an agent. Honestly, I almost fell off my chair when I read that one. Now, does that mean you can’t rewrite that first novel over and over again? In my opinion, no. I don’t see that it would make a difference whether you rewrite one or write four new ones as long as you’re honing your craft.

Letting go of that first novel was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I lived with this book for years. It was my baby, my first-born. I’d held on to it longer than I should have because I’d poured my heart and soul into it, rewrote it so many times that I got sick of looking at it. My husband could practically recite the novel from memory. It’s called A Strangled Rose, and it will always be close to my heart, which is why I keep it listed on my website. Maybe someday I’ll rewrite it one more time and set it free. Never say never.

But it was a necessary step in order for me to grow as a writer. I needed to let go of my baby and create something new, fresh, have a new adventure. I needed to do this for me. Now, you may not need the same thing. You may be happy rewriting the same story 400+ times, because when you first start learning that’s about how many times you’ll need to do it before you hone your craft. Ask any writer out there. I bet they all tell you the same thing.

fail only if you quit

It all comes down to perseverance. How badly do you want it? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get there? If you can’t imagine not fulfilling your dreams then you will succeed. It’s the writer who sacrifices, who writes when they don’t feel like it, who studies the craft when they’d rather be out with friends, who writes and writes and reads and reads who will rise above the others. I believe this with every inch of my being.

But it all depends on what your definition of success is. Some are happy to sell 100 copies of their book. Some shoot for 1000. Others say anything under 10K is failure. Whatever your idea of success is the most important thing you can do is never, ever give up on your dream. No matter how many times you fall, get back up and keep going.

Writing is not for everyone. Some write as a hobby, and that’s fine too. It’s the writer who dares to dream beyond that I’m really speaking to today. The writer who wants it all and won’t settle for less. The writer who won’t quit until they see their name at the top of the New York Times’ Best Sellers List. And even then, who will strive for not one book on that list but two, three, twenty. The writer who sees their books turned into television series and movies. That’s my dream. What’s yours?

 

Channeling Your Emotion to The Page

This morning at 5 a.m. I woke to a nightmare. Before I get to that story let me give you a little back story. For those of you who don’t know I have two Rottweilers. Cascius turned eight years old this past June and Gideon just had his eighth birthday on the twelve of this month. If any of you have, or have ever had, a Rottie than you know that they have a tendency to get cancer, as well as other terminal illnesses. The vet tells me Rotties have a 95% chance of getting sick before the age of eight. I know, it blew my mind too.

This is Cascius. I think he has bone cancer in his right front leg. I had two others with bone cancer and he’s exhibiting the same symptoms. Cascius Kit To really appreciate his size, here is a picture of Cascius on top of Bob last winter.casBig Bob is nearly six feet tall and weighs about 180 lbs., so it’s not like he’s a little man. I seriously don’t know how Cascius got so big! He’s very active. Give him a ball and he’ll entertain himself for hours.

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Don’t torpedo your career. Be professional.

I wavered all day on whether to post this or not.  In the end I decided it was an important subject.

What I read this morning shocked me.  Many of you might have heard about this argument between author and reviewer.  Actually the reviewer never responded.  It was a one-way bashing.  This was only just brought to my attention today.

Back in May, a reviewer was asked to review an iBook for a self-published author.  Well, the author who wrote the book did not like his review, to put it mildly.  In all honestly, the review wasn’t all that bad.  Yes, there were some disparaging remarks like… “It reads, in fact, rather like a juvenile genre offering on the level of Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys, although it does brandish a vocabulary that might challenge many pre-teen readers… until they figure out that a tap can bring up the built-in iBooks dictionary.”

The book in question made use of Apple’s iBooks Author.  I don’t know much about iBooks except it seems that with this tool you can create books for iPad and Mac.  It even gives you the ability to create an interactive experience for the reader.  Sounds cool, right?  Well, according to the author in question, he is the first to use this tool.  Or at least use it correctly.  His words not mine.  He also said, “He paved the way for others…”  You’ll soon see how ridiculous that statement really is.

The reviewer wrote, “Did I mention that all the characters in this book are teddy bears?  It is a detective story about teddy bears.”  ted

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Building your audience with Triberr

Let’s talk Triberr.

For those of you who don’t know about Tribber, let me briefly explain.  Triberr is a social media site for bloggers of any kind.  It’s especially great for writers.  Once you join you will choose what “tribes” you’d like to belong to.  By doing a quick search you can find a tribe for just about anything.  Each tribe has a chief.  And the chief is the one who allows you into his/her tribe if he/she is so inclined.  Some tribes have certain “followers” limits– meaning on Twitter, not your blog.  If you don’t meet that number requirement you will receive a polite, “Check back with us when you reach x-number of followers.”  Don’t get discouraged.  Most don’t have a limit.

tribe

 

When choosing your tribes you want to look for the ones that have the longest reach.  Some tribes have a combined audience of 500K people.  Where as others may only reach 50K.  You would think, the wider the net the better the tribe.  Not always true. Sure, joining a tribe with a big following is great.  But don’t simply discount a tribe for their numbers.  Some tribes have lower numbers but are better sharers.  All tribes have to start somewhere.  Keep in mind, the larger tribes fill up quickly.  It’s better to get in on the ground level and keep a firm footing. Then when the audience grows to a half-million people you are already a member.

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Yes, I know what a moose looks like!

There seems to be some confusion on whether or not I know a moose from a deer.  I assure you, I do.  I realize the quality of my cellphone photos are not great, but some of you guys are really ruining my moment here.

To clear the air, I will give myself, and those of you who question my ability to distinguish the two animals, a refresher lesson.

This is a moose.

stock-photo-moose-115083517

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