Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Can we stop the insanity? Please??

Congratulations to President Barak Obama for winning a second term. I, like most Americans, was up late last night watching the results. Our CTV here in Canada streamed the whole thing live on my computer, so I was a happy camper.

My thoughts this morning are - now that it’s all over, can it really be over? Can we all please stop the insanity? No more attack ads. No more fighting. No more hatred. Quit the relentless campaigning and obscene campaign money raising and govern the country. 

There is so much that needs to be done. The rest of the world needs you. We in Canada need you. But we need an America which isn’t divided and acting stupidly childish. Please, please reach out and work together. Congress and senate? There is a little word called ‘compromise’ - look it up in the dictionary. Resolve to practice it. Listen to your president. You elected him. He is your leader whether you like it or not. So, like it. Just do it.

And now finally, a few words to both Fox News and MSNBC News. You know what you’re doing. Stop it. Now. I would like to take the both of you into a room, give you ‘time outs’ and then make you look at each other and say ‘I’m sorry.’ There is a little word called ‘kindness’. Look it up in the dictionary. Resolve to practice it. People tune into you for information and advice, and all they get from you is vitriol, anger and hatred. That fuels their anger and hatred even more. Have you read Twitter lately? Do you really want a revolution?

Mark 3:25

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NaNoWriMo - see you in December!

It was just a week ago that I decided to embark on a project for the month of November  which will have me writing an entire book. Yes, I plan to write 50,000 words this month. It was just a week ago when I looked at the ad for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and thought, ‘why not?” 

For many years I’ve heard people talking about NaNoWriMo, but it was always for “other” people. But this time, I thought, I need this. This will be helpful. 

So, this blog will be somewhat quiet for the month. I may post my word count occasionally, but to get my accurate daily word count, please follow me on Twitter. My handle there is @writerhall

I’ll also be  putting this up on Facebook as well.

Wish me luck. Anyone out there joining me? Let me know!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The physical challenge of writing

Rita Mae Brown is the only author I know of who devotes an entire chapter of her writing manual, Starting From Scratch to the necessity of being physically 'fit' for the task.  Today I guest blogged over at the Word Guild site on my battle with arm and wrist pain while writing. I'd love for you to visit there, and comment over there. Here's the link.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Publishing’s Dirty Little Secret

I used to have a lot of respect for eBook thriller author John Locke. I bought, studied, shared, quoted from and tried to implement - down to the letter - his suggestions on eBook marketing in his: How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months.

Use Twitter. Use Facebook, he writes. Write important blogs. Develop a tribe of loyal followers. But nary a peep in that gold mine of information about hiring an online company to get people to buy copies of your .99 cent novels and then write favorable reviews on amazon - thus raising that all-important Amazon ranking. 

No. He is quiet about this, which would lead any thinking person to believe that this is something he doesn’t want anyone to know.  This might be his dirty little secret, but it's not his alone. According to the Aug. 25 New York Times article which started it all, a now defunct little corner of the internet ( commissioned 4,351 book reviews for various unnamed authors who have risen to eBook Amazon fame.

Here’s the Huffington Post response. This one pulls no punches and calls this Publishing’s Drug Problem. I am sure many an Olympic athlete has asked, How can I possibly compete when opposing teams aren't playing fair?

They aren't the only ones. How can an author, facing the thousands of eBooks released daily, hope to get her book noticed?

This gets me thinking about frying pans. Yes, frying pans. Right now I’m in the market for some new ones. In free moments I’ve been wandering around the internet and reading customer reviews on the merit of this or that pan. But can I even trust them?

Now we know how Locke did it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In the middle of tragedy and life - can I press the reset button?

A lot of Christians live their lives quietly and on their own. When they find themselves disagreeing with something in ‘the church’, they either don’t say anything - go with the flow - or they leave. Many do leave. Few ask them why.
Because I’m a writer with an ever changing mission statement, (see previous blog) I ask why. As well, I’ve decided to share bits of my faith journey in this blog. Because I know - I know - that so many of you have the same questions I do. A lot of the old ways aren’t working, and you long to press that reset button. 
In my previous blog I wrote that I wanted to share with you a blog and podcast that has come to mean a lot to me - The God Journey.  This is all about pressing the reset button, starting over. It’s all about asking the question - what if everything we’re ever been taught about God is wrong? What if it’s simply - Jesus loves me? What if that’s what it is? Entirely? What if it’s not about religion or church or tithing or making sure we ‘witness’ or have a daily Quiet Time or read through the Bible in a year? What if it’s none of those things? What if it’s better than we could ever imagine? 
I wanted to write more, but then the Dark Knight Rises tragedy happened and I am overwhelmed by sadness for the victims and their families. And I am embarrassed by some Christian leaders who are quick to write about this coming up with theories ranging from God's Judgment to The Devil (Capital letters) was responsible.
One author wrote that ‘the devil's fingerprints’ were ‘all over this tragedy.’ He suggests that this would finally prove to the world that Satan and his demons really do exist. And I ask, why do we need proof of that? Someone else had the audacity to explain to everyone that only 'Christians' who were killed were in Heaven now. And I am reminded up cult members who picket funerals with their messages of hate. (Excuse me while I go and throw up.)
(There, I'm back.) I shake my head and I want to hit that Reset button. We all need a ‘do-over’, I think.
And then I ponder -  if The Devil was really behind this, that means we’re off the hook. It's not our responsibility to work for gun control (if that’s what we feel strongly about), or work for decency in movies  (if that’s what we feel strongly about.) 
No. we can just sit back, fold our arms across our chests because this battle belongs to Satan and God and they can just have it out while we watch. 

But I don't think it's like that. I think God is calling us more than ever to get involved with suffering people, to hand out cups of cold water in his name.
But here’s what I know - The devil didn't 'make' that young man go in that theatre and kill a dozen people. He had a choice. It was his choice. He did what he did because he wanted to.
For more on ‘spiritual warfare’, I’d love for you to read this link from the Free Believers website and tell me what you think.

And now on a lighter note - Here's Flip Wilson and his famous 'The Devil made me do it' sketch.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

To my gay friends and to Anne Rice, I am sorry

You have probably seen the attached series of photos and story - 21 Pictures that will Restore your Faith in Humanity. It was viral a few months ago.
When I clicked on it I was moved, just about to tears. However, I never got past the first set of pictures. I still haven’t. I keep looking at them. I keep thinking about them. And I knew I had to write about it here.
It was my church which has fostered so much of this murderous homophobia. In the past I have heard it preached from the pulpit even, couched in terms such as ‘Love the sinner, hate the sin’ - which is a phrase I despise with everything in me. I am embarrassed and sickened by that sentence.
More than a dozen years ago, vampire novelist Anne Rice became a Christian after becoming very ill. A couple of years ago she renounced that faith. She wrote on her Facebook page:
“In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”
This has been a struggle for Anne. This has been a struggle for me. I wish Anne knew that you can refuse to be anti-gay, anti-femininst, anti-birthcontrol, anti-Democrat, anti-secular humanist, anti-science and still be a Christian. There are Christians who don’t hate gays. I have chosen to remain a Christian and I am not anti-gay, anti-femininst, anti-birthcontrol, anti-Democrat, anti-secular humanist, and anti-science.
The church has been wrong about so many things. Does anyone remember back to when African Americans were not even allowed inside many churches? I was a child in the 1950s and I do. Church leaders pointed to obscure and out-of-context Bible verses to prove their point. 

And now we know how wrong we were. So now I am daring to ask, could we be wrong about this?

I’ve been so helped by a website and podcast called The God Journey. But more about that site and podcast for another day.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

How to Write a Really Really Short Story

About a month ago I came across a ‘how-to’ idea for writing short, short fiction, sometimes called ‘flash fiction.’ I was too busy then to pay much attention to it, but it hung itself up on a hook in the back of my brain, ready for me to take it down when the time came. And tonight, as I write this, I remember the idea, but not where it came from. I’ve looked all over the internet, and can’t find the reference to the person who came up with it. (So, if you know where this idea came from let me know! I like to give credit where credit is due.)

But here it is: you begin by writing the climactic scene, and then you work back from there to the beginning little by little. What an intriguing idea, I thought. Someday, I’m going to try that!
I guess the reason I am so interested in writing short is that I just finished a long. Eight days ago I typed The End on a book manuscript that has been haunting me for - no joke - six years. I sent it to my agent with a great sigh of relief. But to be fair, during that time, I also wrote six books for Harlequin. But even through the writing of all of then, the idea for this mystery series was simmering in my imagination. So, it was with great relief that I finished it. (It had been one of my New Year’s Resolutions!)
I took last week off. And for a week I did no writing. I just read. Sometimes we writers just need to fill the well. Partway through the week I took 'the idea’ down from the coat hook. It might be fun to write a book from back to front. I always write mine from front to back, and usually don’t even know who the murderer is until the second to the last chapter. And that’s a scary place to be.
I like reading short stories. I also like writing them and have had several published in anthologies and more online as eBooks, but I’ve never written a story back to front. I’d be interested in your experiences. Do you write stories from the beginning to the end? Or do you write the climax first and then work back from there? What works?
Here are a few links on writing short fiction:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Do Mission Statements Change?

Instead of posting here today I would like to direct you over to The Word Guild site where I am posting in the subject of - Do Mission Statements Change? This is a posting that I've worked on for a long time. It represents a change of direction for me, one that I have undertaken not without a lot of thought and prayer.

I'm moving my writing into the general mystery market after having written 18 books for the Christian book market. Why the change? Well, that blog explains why. So, if you have comments, I'd love for you to comment over there.

Thank you so much!

Friday, April 27, 2012

My Relationship with Goodreads

I'm an author and I love Goodreads.  I love it for two  reasons. The first is that it's a wonderful place for me to track my own reading. A long time ago, back in the era of paper, I kept track of the  books I read in a little notebook. I gave them  ratings from 1 to 10. Now, however, I use Goodreads for that same purpose.  And I can share these with my friends.

The second reason I love Goodreads is for the “recommendations.” Once you've reviewed twenty books you get to see a huge list of the types of book you like to read.  I have found many wonderful new mystery and thriller authors this way.

Some authors shun Goodreads because of the reviews they may have gotten on the site. And I've gotten my share of two star reviews–ugh!  And it's never pleasant. But my advice is to use this wonderful site as a personal reading tool, a personal tool for sharing with your friends the books you have read and enjoyed.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A gift for Friday the 13th

Because of this auspicious occasion - the 13th of Friday - I'm making one of my best selling novels free for your Kindle! Just go here.

STEAL AWAY was originally published by Multnomah Books. I am so pleased now to offer it as an eBook. It was shortlisted both for a Christy and a Daphne. I hope you enjoy it!

A year ago I thought eReading devices were the dumbest things going. The book itself, the print version, the binding, the pages that turn - whats wrong with that perfectly good technology? And then I got a Kobo Touch for Christmas. And now there is no going back for me. It's featherweight. I can read it in bed without getting shoulder aches, and can adjust the print size for these old eyes of mine.

As for Kindle books, I read them on my iPhone, which is also wonderful. There are so many times I'm stuck in traffic, or stuck in a line in the bank or post office, and can whip out my iPhone and read a chapter or two.

The only thing I don't like? I haven't taken my Kobo into the bathtub with me. Also, the beach. Do you just leave your Kobo or Kindle on the sand when you go in for s swim? I can leave beach books on the sand without a thought. Since I haven't had a Kobo in the summer yet, it remains to be seen what I finally end up doing.

Cheers -