Friday, September 30, 2011

Under the Covers with a Naughty Book

Is there anything better than reading a naughty book, with a flashlight, while burrowing under the covers?

Wait, I know! Reading a naughty book, with a flashlight, burrowing under the covers, while eating chocolate! Ding, ding, ding...we have a winner!

For more of my take on this monumentally important topic, see my post over at The Debutante Ball today.

(I know. What a cop out. But my characters are cracking the WIP, and I must pay some attention to them, too. Can't have them getting jealous of my blogging time. It makes them act out in a most inappropriate way.)

If you're a writer, and have a minute, tell me what your characters do if they get upset with you. Pout? Sulk? Go crazy? Shoot all the other characters and leave you with no one left to finish your book?

If you're a, go check out my Deb post. Of course, you're welcome to say hi here, too. And on Twitter. I love seeing you everywhere. :)

P.S. There's still time to enter the Camel Caption Contest from Wednesday. Remember, you can enter as often as you like!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What's more fun than Angry Birds? Angry Camels!

A camel picture in search of a caption:

Best one wins one of my legendary dumb and/or edible prizes.

Contest closes Sunday, Oct. 2, at midnight. East Coast time.

Come on, don't be bashful. Really, I'm very easily entertained. Any old  caption will do. And you can enter as often as you like -- I never get tired of reading captions. Or of being entertained. Enter early, enter often!

That's what she said... (*ahem* Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

Happy Hump Day! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week, a Guest Post by TG

I'm a little busy following a hot idea down a plot trail in my current WIP, so I asked TG if he'd mind filling in for me today. Since he's a total sweetie-pie, he agreed.

Take it away, TG!

Greetings, fellow Linda-philes. I am honored, and more than a little bit humbled, to be able to leave my mark in the corner of my soul mate’s cyberspace sanctum sanctorum. I am told that this is “Band Books Week” and that I should limit my ramblings to Band Books. Well, music lovers, you are in luck. Having spent the past thirty years producing, mixing, and recording live music, this is a subject near and dear to my heart.

Over the years, I have acquired a few Band Books, Here (in no particular order) are some of my favorites:

The Best Fake Book Ever, by the Hal-Leonard Corporation. Chords and lyrics to over 1000 songs for those times when you are asked to play something your band hasn't rehearsed and has no intention of ever rehearsing. It is a good collection of well-known tunes, but I think the title really should be “The Best Fake Book For Now” to allow for future improvement.

X-Ray;The Unauthorized Autobiography, by Ray Davies, the legendary front-man of  The Kinks. Interesting read from a member of the “if you can remember it, you weren't there” generation. I mostly like it because Ray gave me a signed copy after the show.

The Beatles Unseen Archive, compiled by Tim Hill and Marie Clayton. Duh! It's The Beatles. Also, if you can still make money off a band that hasn't been together for more than thirty years, go for it.

The Musician's Guide to the Road-A Survival Handbook & All-Access Backstage Pass to Touring, by Susan Voelz. Susan, a classical violinist, wrote this book about her time touring with Texas Roots Rocker, Alejandro Escovedo. Fun and useful read for anybody remotely connected to the business. After all, what could be more important than knowing the correct bathroom etiquette  while riding in a rock 'n roll tour bus?

In closing, all these books... Wait. Linda is trying to talk to me... What?! Banned Books? Well, that is something entirely different. I don't believe in them.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Me and Carly, Rockin' the An-ti-ci-pay-ay-tion...!

To forestall the possibility of y'all getting Too Much o' Linda, today I'm just going to link over to my post at The Debutante Ball, where you can read my take on "Anticipation."

What's that you say? You want content here, too?

Okay, take it away, Carly!

Hmm. I wonder if she anticipated how those shoulder pads would look a couple of decades later?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why Etiding is Improtant

Dear Canada:

That is not a deer.

Linda G.

So, have you ever had an OMG editing moment of your own? One you didn't discover until it was too late to fix? Maybe in an email or a manuscript, after you hit "send"?

(Geez, whoever eventually invents the "unsend" button is going to be a freaking gazillionaire.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Help! My Bookshelf Has PMS!

Austen, King, Evanovich, Clavell, Coben, Crusie, Gabaldon...honestly, its mood swings are more jarring than a teenage girl's in prom season. Just looking at it makes me crave chocolate. Then chips. And maybe cry a little. Sometimes a zit appears on my chin...

Okay, that may be carrying the metaphor too far, but books do have moods. A certain feel to them. Their "atmosphere." Some are happy-go-lucky, some are dark and brooding, some are mysterious (and not just the mysteries, either). There are books where the mood is akin to a kegger at a frat house, and others that would make a funeral seem like a lighthearted occasion.

But you guys know that already.

What I'm curious about is how you choose which kind of book you want to read at any given time. Do you try to match whatever mood you're in? Or do you try to counterbalance it with something different?

I mean, if you're feeling down in the dumps, do you choose a happy book in the hopes it will cheer you up? Or do you choose something that reflects your somber mood, and just wallow a bit?

Personally, I tend to be a mood matcher. Not always -- if I'm feeling anxious about something, I don't like to read an anxiety-producing book, for instance. No Stephen King for me when I'm worried. But if I'm brooding about something, I might choose something with a Gothic setting. Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Rebecca...they just seems to fit.

If I'm angry, a good kickass dark urban fantasy is just the ticket. (What? It's cathartic.) Vicki Petterrson's Signs of the Zodiac series always works well.

And nothing beats a good rom-com when I'm feeling happy and in the mood to giggle (Tawna Fenske's Making Waves, anyone? Which, btw, is also good if you're in another kind of mood. *waggles eyebrows*)

So, what are you reading now? (Well, not NOW now -- I know you're reading my blog right now. Maybe I should ask what's on your nightstand. Books, I mean, not any of that personal stuff, like...oh, never mind. You know what I mean.)

Does what you're reading reflect how you're feeling?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Formally Yours, a Rerun (aka, What Hairy Legs Have To Do with Manuscripts)

It's that time of year again! Yup, time for me to get gussied up and go to the Ball!

No, not The Debutante Ball. Though I am there today, too, talking about my favorite characters, and I'd love for you to stop by. No pictures of me in the shower this week, I promise.

But in this case I'm talking about the big fundraising Ball TG's employer throws every year to raise money for the arts. Specifically, the arts that provide TG with a job and a paycheck. (Rah, rah, rah! Support the Arts!)

Since I've been having one of THOSE weeks (UBER busy!), I'm going to rerun my Ball blog post from last year. (Hey, I have to put up with a rerun of the big dance. I'm just, um, paying it forward.)

If you don't want to read it again, you can, yannoh, go check out my new material at the other Ball. ;)

From Sept. 24 of last year:

Don't send your ms out with hairy legs

 Let's talk about personal grooming.

(What? It's an important issue.)

I like to think of myself as a clean person. I shower. I brush my teeth. I depilate* on a regular basis. I wear clean clothes most of the time, and always remember to change my underwear, in case I get hit by a truck, because lord knows I wouldn't want to mortify my mother if the docs in the ER were to speculate I might be wearing less-than-fresh panties**.

On any given day, if, say, a surprise guest showed up on my doorstep, I would not present an absolutely appalling picture. (Unless examined very closely or in harsh sunlight, of course. Then all bets are off.) But I certainly don't take the time to go through every single grooming ritual on a daily basis. I mean, I do have a life. Things to do, don'tcha know.

You're reading one of those things right now. But, in case you're wondering, I will be shaving my legs this morning. And my pits. And I'll even buff my heels with one of these:

Because tonight I'm playing Cinderella and going to The Ball with TG--a job-related, highly formal event, wherein the foundation he works for seduces money out of rich people who happen to be patrons of the arts (and we love each and every one of their generous hearts, yes we do!). It's a special occasion, so I'm trying harder than usual.

[BTW, those aren't my feet. I thought you should know, in case you're a closet foot fetishist, and might be tempted to develop a crush on me based upon an unrealistic image.

Not that my own feet are awful. I mean, I use the dry-skin-grater-offer thingamajig and a special lotion and everything. I even have peachy-pink toenails. I just don't have a picture of me using the thingamajig, because, frankly, TG thinks it's pretty gross, and wouldn't play photographer for me. Not that he doesn't appreciate the fruits of my labors, even if he isn't a foot fetishist. Who doesn't enjoy a smooth foot? He just doesn't want to watch me do it. You might even say it grates on him. (Uh, sorry.)]

You are by now probably thinking, what in the HELL is Linda getting at with all this nonsense? (Isn't it amazing how psychic I am? Honestly, it's a gift.) Well, I'll tell ya.

*Ahem* Personal grooming is not unlike what we do with our writing when we revise. When we edit and tweak, plump it up and pare it down, it's kind of like washing and shampooing and plucking and shaving. All that stuff we do to put the finishing touches on a manuscript before we send it out into the world?

It's hygiene for our writing.

A lot of writing is akin to the everyday grooming basics--don't sweat it, it's fine as long as it doesn't stink. Just get the words down, relax, and call it done.

But some writing is like going to The Ball--you want it to be as polished as possible before unveiling it to the world. Like before you send it out to an agent or editor. Now, nobody--and no manuscript--is ever perfect. Some probably have an inborn radiance, sure, but hell's bells, even Angelina Jolie looks better with a little make-up, right? And she probably smells as bad as anyone else if she doesn't take a shower. The thing is, you work with what you've got, and you try set it off to its best advantage.

All I'm saying is, some occasions call for a little more effort***, whether you're dressing up you or your manuscript. Just something to think about...while I go grate my heels, tweak my brows, and figure out which uncomfortable pair of shoes I'm going to dance in tonight.

*depilate: to remove hair from the body.

**Though if I get hit by a bus, the state of my underwear would probably undergo a sudden and drastic change. If you get my drift. So what does it really matter?

***Sadly, I'm afraid I didn't shave this post's legs. Sorry, but I was pressed for time. You understand, don't you?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Special Guest: Elise Skidmore

I know you've come to expect a camel post from me on Hump Day, but this week I have something even better: an interview with someone who's helped me over a lot of humps in my writing life. (Heh-heh. Bet you didn't see that tie-in coming.)

Don't worry. You'll still get your camel pic, too -- at the end of the post.

I've known Elise Skidmore for years, and consider her a close friend, though we've never met in person. It's odd to think of that, can you be friends with someone you've never even seen in person? Well, you start by meeting online at website for writers (Books and Writers Community, though it was still called the Compuserve Writers Forum back then) and you chat. The chat leads to banter, and a whole lot of writing exercises, and before you know it you've made a writing buddy for life.

Elise is one of my beta readers, and her belief in me has never wobbled. From the time I first started sending her my feeble attempts at prose, she always said "when you're published...," never "if." Told me she had a "feeling" about it.

Frankly, I used to think she was full, let's say "it," shall we? since it rhymes...when she made assumptions like that. But it turns out she was right. Also, that she's not above saying "I told you so." But good friends are allowed to do that.

One thing I've always envied about Elise over the years is her gift with poetry. She can take a handful of simple words and mold them into images that pluck out a melody on your heartstrings. (See there? That metaphor just proves I suck at it. *envy, envy, envy*)

So now Elise has a beautiful book of poetry out, called Poems from the Edge of Spring, and I get to interview her, which is a true pleasure.

(BTW, isn't the cover gorgeous? Trust me, what's inside is even better.)

Q: You've written poetry for as long as I've know you. Why poetry, why a book, and why now?

A: I have been writing poetry since I was a kid. It's always been a way of putting feeling thoughts and feelings into perspective, even though I was very shy about sharing what I'd written for a very long time. I think, like most writers, I lacked confidence. Poetry is very personal to me, much more so than prose, so I worried about what other people would think and how it would reflect on me, in much the same way a parent feels their child's actions reflect on them. While I believe the way poetry is taught in school makes most people shy away from it, I have to thank my 8th grade English teacher, Miss Jarmol, for introducing me to two of my favorite poets,  T. S. Eliot and Edna St. Vincent Millay.  They brought emotion and story to life in their poetry, sometimes with only a single line or image.  Not that I think I'm anywhere close to their brilliance, but I love finding those tantalizing words or phrases that spark the idea for a poem brewing. Sometimes they'll follow me for days before the spark kindles, but it's a wonderful feeling when it does.

So that's why poetry. As for why a book and why now, well... Over the last 17 years I've been involved with online writing groups and made friends with some very talented poets from all over the world. Having poets whose work I admire and respect praise my poetry (as well as offer constructive criticism when it was needed) led me to believe that there might be a wider audience out there who would appreciate what I had to say. For years those poetic friends have urged me to put together a chapter book, but it's a sad truth that even famous poets don't make much money for publishers. So other than marketing a single poem here or there, the only way to have a poetry published is to self-publish, which has its own stigma to it, not to mention, expense.

Then last April, I completed a "poem a day" challenge, which yielded what I thought was some of my best work, and was again encouraged to make it available to a wider audience.  Coincidentally, another long-time friend, Lisa Norman, had just started a small press publishing company called Heart Ally Books. With the recent increased popularity of e-books, she suggested we try e-publishing first, and if it worked out, we could do print later. For me, it's never been about making money from poetry, it's about getting the poems out there to as many readers as possible, and this seemed like the most cost effective way to do that.

Q: The table of contents lists the poems in order by date. Did you really write each poem on the corresponding days?

A: The answer is yes and no.  Let me begin by saying that titles are my nemesis, whether we're talking prose or poetry.   A great title strikes a chord that stays with you long after you've finished reading. All of the poems in the April half of the book were written on their corresponding dates, but April's a short month and I felt if we were selling a book it should have more to it than 30 poems, plus I wanted to include some of my earlier poems that I especially like. That's when the title, Poems from the Edge of Spring came to me. The first day of spring being March 21st, I thought using the days of March as markers for the "extra" poems, followed by the April set, it would be perfect. As for the dates without titles, like I said, titles are tough for me, so with poems I sometimes leave them untitled rather than force something I don't really like. Also, when I'm writing some of the shorter Japanese forms like the tanka or haiku, I don't give them titles as a general rule.

Q: Under the product description at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble is one of my favorite poems of the collection: 

Mosaic of Joy

Piecing together
a mosaic of joy
from shattered tiles
scattered around her,

she picks up
their first kiss
and declaration of love
and snugs them between
the light in his eyes at long ago reunions
and furious lovemaking on an ugly orange rug.

There are slabs
for the lives they created together,
the children who once quickened inside her,
who even grown have the ability to move her.

She fills in the cracks
with happy surprises
and hands held under pre-dawn stars,

certain that grout made from love
will last forever.

To me, it epitomizes the theme of collection, so good choice! Is there any significance to the March 22nd  date on which you wrote it?

A: I wish I could say there was, but no. There are poems where the date is significant, "Counting," for example, but not that one. "Mosaic of Joy" is just one of the favorites I wanted to include in the collection. The title was just one of those phrases I mentioned earlier that got stuck in my head and I walked around for days piecing it together. Some poems are like that, coming together a little at a time. Others spill out all at once.

Q: How would you describe your adventure in e-publishing? Would you do it again? Would you recommend it to others?

A: Overall, I had a very good experience with it. My publisher has done all the hard stuff--Techies 'R' NOT Us.  Thankfully, Lisa took care of all the formatting problems, explaining the difficulties step-by-step, and showing how things would look before the book was put out there.  Anyone who's used an e-book will tell you one of its best features is being able to adjust the size of the text. However, changing the size of the text changes margins and line breaks, which is not a good thing when you're dealing with poetry. With form poetry, it makes your meter and rhymes look wonky. With free verse, lines breaks are often chosen for effect, and if those breaks change it can change the intended meaning.  Lisa did her best to ensure that the poems would look as close to what I'd intended, even with the various changes, and I think she did a terrific job.  While I don't think print books are ever going to disappear, I believe e-publishing is here to stay and I love my Kindle. (And that comes from someone who usually doesn't take on new technology until it's considered old.) If I had the opportunity to do it again, I would--as long as I had someone I could trust to take care of the technical aspects of it.

Q: Why aren't there any dirty limericks in the book? (Sorry. But this is me doing the interview -- what did you expect? *grin*)

A: LOL. The honest/serious answer is that I have trouble writing limericks; trying to keep the meter, rhyme and be funny all at once is hard for me. On the other hand, I did contemplate including some of the erotic poetry I've written, but decided for my virgin book offering it might be better to hold back a little.

Q: If you had a dream interview question, what would it be? (I'm guessing it's not the limerick one.)

A: I don't know if I have a "dream interview question" since until recently I never entertained the idea that I'd be interviewed (LOL!).  Maybe something like: What's been your favorite reaction to the book so far? The answer would have to be: "I'm not a big fan of poetry, but I love the poems in your book." I'm not sure if that's a compliment of my poetic talents, but I love knowing someone loved reading what I've written.

Thank you, Elise! For the interview, and for a marvelous book of poetry that both entertained and moved me.

Poems from the Edge of Spring is available in both Kindle and Nook formats, for the bargain price of $2.99. Heck, you can't even get a decent cup of coffee for that anymore, and this book lasts way longer than java. And by later today or tomorrow, it should be available at the iBookstore, too. Cool, huh?  

And now, as promised, for the camel groupies:

She's (looks like a girl, huh?) so happy because she's a poetry lover. :)

Monday, September 12, 2011


So, if you were a dog, what kind would you be? Or, if not you, any of your characters?

You know, generally speaking. Not that every member of each dog breed is exactly the same, any more than all Swedes are alike, or all Germans, or all Czechs, etc. This is just for grins, and not to be taken seriously.

A few examples:

Terrier -- little, clever, tenacious.

St. Bernard -- helpful, always ready to offer a drink.

Labrador -- fun and athletic.

German Shepherd -- in charge, don't-mess-with-me.

Pit Bull -- scary.

Greyhound -- fast and sleek.

English Bulldog -- ugly, snores, drools, farts, and is easily overheated.

And so on. That's by no means a complete list, so feel free to add your own. Or mix it up, say with something like a labradoodle or a cockahuahua (hey, what else would you call a cocker spaniel/chihuahua mix?)

My MC is kind of a terrier -- little, smart, and feisty. Oh, and a strawberry blonde, like this Norwich Terrier.

Me? A St. Bernard, of course. Need you even ask? ;)

Ready to play?

Sit. Speak. *pat, pat* There's a good...uh, never mind. Just have a drink and try not to over-think it.

*TG wants an English Bulldog. He claims they're adorable, steadfast, and not as gassy as you might think. I've told him he can have one after he retires, so he can follow it around with a plastic bag.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I've Never Played Angry Birds, and Other Random Crap About Me...

I've been tagged.

So, according to Patsy Collins (who is apparently big on paying it forward *grin*), I'm supposed to tell you ten random things about myself. Might be kind of tough to come up with something I haven't already told you, since just about everything I say here is pretty random. But, for Patsy's sake, I'll try.

Ten Random Things About Me:

1. I'm allergic to green peppers.

2. I can't write to a soundtrack, because I get too involved in the music. But I'm jealous of those who can.

3. I put my footwear on sock-shoe-sock-shoe, and always start with my left foot. But, really, I'm not that anal about most things.

4. I'm mild-mannered and peace-loving about most things, but put me in front of a Scrabble board and I morph into a heartless, cutthroat Bwah-Ha-Hah Bitch.

5. I believe in ghosts. Kind of. (Not really.) Okay, maybe a little. I'm conflicted.

6. I've never played "Angry Birds." (I know! Hopelessly behind the times.)

7. I'm a lot more moderate with my imbibing than it might appear online. (Shhhh! Don't tell anyone. I have a reputation to maintain.)

8. OTOH, I probably eat more chocolate than I generally let on. It doesn't do to carry that moderation thing too far.

9. I have four two-dollar bills.

10. My mom calls me "Little Lin," despite the fact that she has to stretch to hit 5'4" and I'm 5'9".  (Okay, I have to stretch, too. Big deal. Stretching is good for you.)

Anyone who wants to play, consider yourself tagged!

Oh, and if you wanna see where I write, pop over to The Debutante Ball today. There *cough* might be a picture of me in the shower. (What? Don't you write in the shower?)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Camel-Dog -- Whimsical, or Just Plain Wrong?

If you try to be something you're not, sometimes the results can be ridiculous:

Yeah, that's a dog.

As much as this dog's owner wants it to look like a camel, the essence of dogginess is still there.

Now, a lot of people will think this is wrong. But I'm of two minds on it. On the one hand, it obviously lacks authenticity. There's a basic dishonesty about it. (Plus, it probably embarrasses the dog. Give the dog a piece of bacon, though, and it'll likely get over it.)

On the other hand, a part of me kinda likes the whimsy. I think the world could use more whimsy.

If we twist our brains a bit, I'm sure there's something here we can apply to writing fiction.

*twist, twist, twist*

When you're true to your voice -- whether you're literary or hard-boiled or funny or erotic, or whatever -- then I think your readers pick up on the underlying "you-ness" and are more comfortable. More willing to suspend that disbelief for the brief time they spend with you. So it helps to know what you are, and make the most of it, instead of warping your work-in-progress into the genre du jour.

But maybe you're just a born camel-dog kind of writer. Maybe that's what comes naturally to you. In which case I say...


Just don't feel like you have to write a literary-inspirational-vampire-zombie-erotic police procedural to make your book stand out. Unless that's YOU. (And if it is, let's talk. Because I really want to read your book.)

If you write, what's the most comfortable fit, genre-wise, for you? 

(Which isn't always easy to pin down. Believe me, I know. For the longest time I thought I was writing funny paranormal mysteries, but it turns out they're light urban fantasies. Hey, I just write 'em. I let the pros categorize 'em.)

If you're a reader (as I strongly suspect you are; otherwise, really, why would you be here reading this?), is there a book that's drawn you in despite being a genre you normally don't salivate over*? What was it about the book that worked for you (if you can pin it down)?

*Note the clever doggy reference to tie up this blog post. You know, Pavlov's dog? The salivating thing? The way that...oh, never mind. Trust me. It works. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Libation, Labor Day!

That's what I plan to do.

If you don't celebrate Labor Day in your neck of the woods, take the day off anyway. Don't worry about your boss -- I'll write you a note.


Dear _____________ (fill in boss's name),

____________ (fill in your name) won't be coming to work today because (duh!) it's Labor Day somewhere, and everybody needs a break now and then. I'm sure you understand, compassionate employer that you are. 

Thank you,
Linda, your employee's blogging buddy

There. That ought to do it. Yes, even for you self-employed people -- don't let your boss be a jerk, either. ;)

See ya Wednesday!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Shall We Dance?

Hey, guys, I'm not really here today. I'm over at The Debutante Ball, pretending to be a sweet, blushing, eyelash-batting, tiara-sporting, virginal debutante.

(Ha! Right. You can just picture that, huh?)

Anyway, please click on that link, stop by, and say hello.

I'll be the one wearing this:

Not really. I'll be the one waving the cigar around, as usual. But if you come see me, I promise I won't blow smoke in your eyes.

(Seriously. Don't let me be a wallflower on my debut post... *grin*)