He’s Baaack!

ImageNational Novel Writing Month, you have been conquered. My book is finished, and I’m four days early. Whoo-hoo! I finished at 8:42 p.m., and the final word count is 52,452.

Considering I’m easily distracted, I’m proud of my achievement, and the book is quite entertaining, if I do say so myself. I think this calls for a celebratory interview about the book. My favorite interviewer just happened to be nearby when I stuck my head out the back door and whistled down the street. He’s settled at the kitchen table with me now.

Cranky Interviewer:  I thought I told you not to call me when you finished this book.

Me:  There was no one else available, and I’m excited to get the news out.

C.I.:  Just so we’re clear, I want cash this time. … The title is Windy ImageCity Hunter, right? Was it windy?

Me:  Yes, Windy City Hunter, because the setting is Chicago, and of course it was windy. Chicago in December two weeks before Christmas? It was near-blizzard conditions at times.

C.I.:  Well, let’s cover the important stuff first. How many bags of m&m’s did you go through?

Me:  Two and three quarters.

C.I.  You’re kidding, right? That’s nearly 400 m&m’s!

Me:  They inspire me.

C.I.  How many beginnings, middles, and endings are in this tripe, er, I mean this stunning masterpiece of fiction?

Me:  Why do you always have to be such a wise guy? You know my writing is light, breezy, and easy to read. My books are entertaining and a good escape for a day or two. You should try one. To answer your question, there are three beginnings, three middles, and three endings.

C.I.:  You’re kidding, right? You convoluted this book, too?

Me:  It’s not convoluted. There’s a murder, a mystery, and a sort of mystery/puzzle thing going on. I gave that a beginning, middle, and ending, too. I didn’t want to leave any loose ends.

C.I.:  I hate to ask the next question, but everyone is going to want to know. How many exclamation points?

Me:  You will be happy to know there are only 83 exclamation points in this book.

C.I.:  Jeez Louise, will you never learn? … What’s this I hear about zombies? How could you possibly incorporate zombies into one of your fluffy books?

Me:  They were on television. Susan was greatly affected.

C.I.:  Oh, for crying out loud. You’ve been hyping zombies for weeks, and now you’re telling me they were on television. You’re killing me here! … Does Susan cry very much in this book? Why does she cry so much?

Me:  Of course she cries a lot in this book. She’s sensitive and emotional, but she laughs a lot, too.

C.I.:  How about a quick synopsis?

Me:  Sure. Susan and Darby are in Chicago to compete in a cooking competition. They stay in ImageDarby’s Uncle’s condo, and shortly after they arrive, a tenant is murdered. One of them, Darby or Susan, I’m not telling you which, is eventually suspected of the murder and ends up in jail. So, you see, it doesn’t matter which side of the bars Susan ends up on, she’s upset and crying.

C.I.:  Where’s Mick during this crisis.

Me:  He’s in England. He doesn’t have much of a role in this book.

C.I.:  There are rumors that your blogging has seeped into your writing. Are some of your blogging buddies going to be embarrassed by what you’ve done to them?

Me:  Oh, you bet! There will be acknowledgements in the back to thank one awesome guy for allowing me to seriously abuse him, and I described the photos of another blogger as artworks in a gallery. That was very cool.

C.I.:  You’re going to get sued, you know. … When are you going to publish Windy City Hunter?

Me:  I’m not going to rush it. I want to be careful with the editing, and I have to give my niece time to do the cover, so I’ll probably publish in January. It would have been a neat accomplishment to publish five books in one year, but I’ll settle for having written five in one year.

C.I.:  Yeah, whatever. … Last question. Will there be another Susan Hunter book after this one?

Me:  Of course! I don’t have a working title yet, but I know Susan is going to be writing children’s picture books in the next book. I’ve had a few suggestions so far: Zombie Hunter, Flushing Hunter, and Rat Hunter (thanks, guys!).


Cranky Interviewer Dude

C.I.:  I’m outta here. Good job on that NaNoRhinoceros thing or whatever it was you just did. I’m not interested in your next book at all. I hate kids. Please don’t call me.

Me:  Ok. Toodles!


Take NaNo and Stuff Your Chicken With It


First things first. My husband’s name is Rich. I’m tired of calling him hubby, and I have no pet nicknames for him, so there you go.

Next, I was thankful on Thanksgiving Day. I’m always thankful. I say that upfront lest you think I am ungrateful as this post continues.

Rich and I were in the kitchen Thursday morning as we prepared our Thanksgiving dinner to take to my mother’s house. Music was playing, and we enjoyed the time cooking together. But every time something would go into the oven, I would run to my computer to type a few sentences, and then back to the kitchen, I’d go.

It was time to throw together the corn bake. My family calls it corn shit. “Hey, Maddie! Are you Imagebringing that corn shit again?” Anyway, the corn bake was popped into the oven, and I was off running to my computer to type a few more sentences. … In a nutshell, National Novel Writing Month was a terrible idea. Who thought doing this in November was optimal?

My mother doesn’t care for turkey, and we don’t care what we eat, so I stuffed two chickens instead. Imagine my surprise when it was time to leave, the oven door was opened, and the chickens weren’t done. Neither was the corn bake. I can only assume the oven decided to be persnickety about cooking chickens instead of turkey.

We dragged it all out anyway, and we took off for Mom’s. I called ahead and told her to turn her oven on, and we would finish cooking everything there. Well, that was just fine with her because she wanted to go to the grocery store and stop off at the drug store to pick up her prescriptions. On Thanksgiving.

Mom and I left Rich in charge of the food, and off we went. Having a husband with a strong feminine side is wonderful. He browned the chickens, finished the corn bake, and heated the noodles, sweet potatoes and extra dressing. When we came home forty-five minutes later, he had the meat off the chickens and onto a platter. Our son had arrived, it was just the four of us for dinner, and it was very nice. … Until several hours later when NaNo raised its ugly head inside my brain. I had to go home right then. I had to work on my book.

I did write for a few hours that evening. I was even a teeny bit cranky about it. Ok, I was a lot cranky about it. I would have much preferred to visit blogs and see how everyone’s ImageThanksgiving turned out. When I finally gave up and went to bed, I had crossed 30,000 words – still 6500 words behind. Sigh.

By the end of the day Friday, I was at 33,710 words – still 4600 words behind. On one hand, I wanted to throw in the towel. The book would get done eventually, and I’d rather blog than write. But my mother has been reading the book a few chapters at a time as I get them done. I gave her two more chapters on Thanksgiving. She called Friday evening and told me to hurry up and finish the book. She said she loves it, and can’t wait to find out what happens next. She went so far as to say that this one might be her favorite. Hmmm … I was partial to the ghosts in New Orleans; she must like the zombies in Chicago.

So here I am on Saturday evening at midnight. I was tempted to visit blogs today, but I restrained myself, and it turned out to be a good writing day. Rich and I played a little Dr. Mario when I needed a break, but for the most part, I started writing around 2:00 and kept at it for the day. Word count at midnight: 41,188. The finish line is in sight. Today, I was a writing goddess.


Click for a closer look and to see what Susan is doing now.

It’s World Toilet Day

ImageI hate toilets.

Yes, I know we need them. Yes, I know how to use one. Yes, I’ve hugged a few in my lifetime. But that doesn’t mean I have to like them.

I’ve mentioned before that we live in a century home. That means it’s over 100 years old, and the plumbing is probably original to the house. When we bought the house, it came with two evil toilets.

The upstairs toilet was the worse. Oh, it had us fooled with its pretty blue color, but I eventually caught on. You didn’t dare get up and go in the dark in the middle of the night, or the seat Imagewould be mysteriously up, and you’d take a water plunge. No one in this house leaves the seat up. No one. It was the evil toilet slipping its seat up in the night.

Then it took a lean. Literally. There is wallpaper in the bathroom with a tiny flower pattern in straight rows. The back of the toilet was lined up perfectly with a row of flowers. One day I noticed the toilet was a little lower than the flowers on the right side. Over the course of a year, the toilet leaned more and more until it was two rows of flowers lower on the right side than the left. You had to sit sideways to use it.

Thank goodness my husband is a man who can do anything … when he’s good and ready. The evil toilet was removed, floor boards replaced, and a brand spanking new white model that could flush a sweater arrived. It has a magical seat that closes hydraulically in an ever-so-quiet motion. No more catching the back of your pajamas on the seat and having it bang in the middle of the night.

However, the evil spirit from the upstairs toilet moved into the downstairs toilet. Go ahead, give it a flush. Works perfectly, doesn’t it? That’s what it wants you to think. The next guy who goes Imagein there and flushes runs the risk of the toilet overflowing. The second guy must always be prepared to be the plunger guy. Run the washing machine? Oh yeah, the downstairs toilet has a fit, and the water does freaky things and sometimes looks like it’s boiling. Go back in there and flush it again just for kicks. The kitchen sink gurgles. That’s cute.

Want to come to our house to visit? We’d love to have you, but if you have to use the toilet, please run down the street to the McDonald’s.

Hubby and I were lying in bed the other night. It was that really quiet time just before you drop off to sleep. But then there was a noise that was killing me. I had to get up, close the bathroom door, and turn on a fan in the bedroom so there would be ambient noise to drown out the offending noise.

The faucet in the bathtub was dripping.

Even though I hate toilets, I have done my part today to promote awareness for all of the people in the world who don’t have toilets.

ImageQ: How many men does it take to change a roll of toilet paper?
A: We have no idea. It never happens.

My blog is rated PG. Add your own love/hate toilet story … or add some toilet humor!

Vacation, Writing, and An Aussie

My husband says his vacation is technically over, but I still consider this weekend to be the last two days of his vacation.

I thought about doing a Christmas song post like this: On the First Day of Vacation, My True ImageLove Gave to Me … a rude awakening to the sound of a saw. Not a manly man chainsaw like a burly woodcutter in plaid would use in the forest, but a Sawzall with its weenie little sound. He was outside and finally cleaning up the large tree branches from the wind storm a few weeks back. I made my way downstairs, opened the back door, leaned out to give him a thumbs-up and said, “You go girl!”

But the rest of the days sort of blur together, and I don’t remember what day he slept on the sofa all day so I could write. Or what day he went to the grocery store for me so I could write. Or when he cleaned the kitchen and then cleaned out the junk drawers. He ground up dried jalapeno peppers in the coffee grinder and filled a spice jar for me with “jalapeno dust.” I also noticed the fried microwave disappeared. He kept me supplied with chocolate.

On Wednesday, he took a drive up north and picked up my mother. Then he came back for me (because I am not riding 60 minutes round trip listening to those two moan andImage complain!). We went to Warther’s Museum to see the Christmas tree displays. Local businesses set up trees, sell them, and the proceeds support the local hospital. Mooney Warther was “the world’s master carver,” and we always enjoy the time spent in the museum – Christmas trees or not.  Afterward, the three of us had lunch together. It was a nice day.

I’m still slogging away at writing my book for National Novel Writing Month, but I’m woefully behind. I’ve broken the rules of the experts, and I’ve taken the time to read what I’ve already written. I’ve also done some editing, and I’ve rewritten a few passages. Sue me. As of this post, I’m at 20,894 words. Unbeknownst to my husband, I’m going to continue to slip Nyquil to him so he’ll sleep all weekend so I can write.

I haven’t been able to keep up with blogs very well, but I will catch up soon. There is one blog I must point out to you today. David Harding is a teacher and an author of children’s books. He lives in Australia, and he recently had a blog post entitled, How to Talk Like Me. It was a hoot, and I suggested he do a video explaining the rules Imageto his favorite game, Gorilla Dice, so we could actually hear him speak … and he did! He titled it, Me Talking Like Me. I’ve watched this thing at least a half dozen times already, and I still laugh when I watch it. There isn’t sound for a few seconds, so be patient and watch with amazement as he affixes a moustache to his face for Movember. If you haven’t already clicked one of the links for him, click this one and go see David and follow him. 🙂

Blogging, Blah Blah Blah, NaNoWriMo

ImageWell, obviously, I can’t do two things at once. My brain can either produce the writing for my book, or it can produce something for my blog, but not both.

It took me over four hours last night to go back and read blogs from the week, drop likes, and leave embarrassing comments. Even though I was late to everything, I did find that being the last one to leave a comment can be a good thing. Fewer people are likely to read the crazy things that come out of your brain at 2:00 in the morning.


My cousin sent a link to me this week. It was for some old pictures of our grandmother, grandfather, and aunts and uncles. I have to show you one photo that I just love. My aunt and uncle (brother and sister) look like they came right out of a Mad Men episode. They both have drinks and cigarettes in hand, and the furniture was fab.


Of course, I saw my mother this week. She doesn’t have a computer, but she does have a Presto machine. It’s a printer for receiving emails. Before I went up to see her, I sent the first chapter of my book to her. We were waiting in line at the drive-thru at the bank, and she said, “I don’t like your book.” My heart sank. If my mother didn’t like the first chapter, I was in trouble. There was no way I was starting over, and I didn’t have another idea. I said, “Aww, really? What didn’t you like?”  She tried, but she couldn’t hold back a smile, and she said, “Oh, I’m just teasing you. I loved it. I can picture everything, and it’s really good. I didn’t like that you left me hanging.” Grr! Mothers! She took a week off the life of my heart.


NaNo is a bit of a pain. When I wrote my other books, I just wrote when I felt like it. Some days produced a lot of words, other days a few or none. This is Day 10, and I’m supposed to be at 16,667 words by the end of the day. That’s not going to happen. The story went completely cattywompus in the condo, and I have no idea how it got out of control. But it’s making me laugh, and I’m going to go with it and see what happens. It’s as though all of those ideas and notes I made before November have Imageflown out the window. The detective in the Santa suit – out. The major mystery at the cooking competition – out. A man wearing a gorilla head – in. Susan and zombies – in. It’s as though I’m possessed. Oh, and we’re only at 11,627 words.

Hubby is on vacation next week. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of writing done then. /sarcasm

So, what’s shakin’ in your neck of the woods?

Let’s Talk about Author Interviews

You may remember that cranky interviewer who was here a while back. He conducted my first book Imageinterview, and I thought it went well. I was able to get the message out about my newest book with its 101 exclamation points, but I haven’t sought any other interviews. I’ve been torn between my thoughts as a consumer and those as a writer.

When I was a consumer only, here is what I thought about author interviews: I don’t care. It wasn’t personal; I simply didn’t care about the author. I never read the jacket flap information about an author. I skipped over author interviews in magazines, and I didn’t read about the author at Amazon or B&N when I bought books.

Janet Evanovich is a favorite author or mine. As a consumer, I don’t care about her writing process or her personal life. I care about Stephanie Plum, and I’m rooting for Ranger, but I’m thinking it will be Morelli, because he is most likely to offer the happily ever after to the series.

But now that I am an author, my mindset is changing. Here at WordPress, I’ve come to know some really great people, and I’m building personal relationships with other authors. How cool is that! A few have been interviewed by other bloggers, and I loved their interviews.

I kind of still don’t want to read about Janet Evanovich, but I do want to read about my friends and other aspiring authors here at WP. The interviews put an author’s name and their book(s) out there for more people to see. In turn, more followers may be gained, more relationships built, and along the line, some sales of books will be made.

All interviews aren’t created equal, and based on my own feelings, past and present, I think it’s important to appeal to the consumer first, so if the reader doesn’t stick around long enough for the personal information, they at least have the information about the book.


Valerie Clarizio

For an example, I chose fellow WordPress author, Valerie Clarizio to interview. Her book, Cookies for Santa, debuts tomorrow, November 5 at Melange Books (also Amazon and Barnes & Noble).

I already know I like Valerie, but before I decide to buy her book, there are some things I want to know, because no matter how much I like Valerie, I’m not buying gruesome horror and lying awake at night with the lights on for a month. These are basically the same things I want to know before I see a movie, and here are her responses:

Genre / Audience: Romantic Suspense / Adult female. Heroine is 28. Hero is 32.

Content Warning: Cookies for Santa does contain some adult content. There is some minor swearing and a consummated love scene that is both sensual and emotionally satisfying.

Synopsis: Detective Spinelli’s life is tossed sideways when he is reassigned from the Homicide Division to assist in the Child Services Division of the Social Services Department for the holiday season. From the beginning, Spinelli and caseworker Shannon O’Hara generate their own kind of fireworks, causing more than the normal workplace stress. … Shannon moonlights as Santa Claus’ little helper at the mall, and when Santa and an elf turn up dead, Shannon appears to be next on the killer’s list. Spinelli is placed back on homicide and goes undercover as Santa to help capture the killer. He catches a great deal of grief along the way, but will he capture the heart of his little Santa’s helper as well?

Book Length: 38,000 words / 130 pages

The above information is all I need to know to make a decision to buy or not. I don’t need to read a Imagesample, and I don’t need to read anything about Valerie. She has a great cover, and that would draw me in as well, but a cover is never a deal breaker for me. The consumer side of me is now satisfied.

But let’s move on to some questions I would like to have answered from my standpoint as a writer as well as in my effort to continue a personal relationship with Valerie. There could be many questions, but I’ve chosen just a few.

Because of some of my own experiences when writing, I was curious to know Valerie’s answers to the following three questions:

What prompted you to sit down and start writing your book? I had just finished reading the most recent novel of my favorite author and was waiting impatiently for her next one to come out. In the meantime, I had a dream about Spinelli, and I woke up thinking, Wow, my favorite novelist should write this story. After giving it more consideration, I thought to myself, Wow, I should write this story.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences, or is it purely imagination? It’s all purely imagination. Though I wouldn’t mind if a couple of the scenes actually would happen in real life. 🙂

What was your favorite chapter to write? I especially liked writing chapter twelve. The chapter contains another scene of Spinelli playing Santa Claus at the mall. In this scene, Spinelli/Santa is visited by a couple of kids that he and Shannon had previously removed from their home and placed in foster care. The oldest child’s Christmas wish really got to Spinelli, and you can see this tough homicide detective soften before your eyes.

As an author, I wanted to know the answers to the following two questions:

How long did it take to write Cookies for Santa? It took me about five months to write Cookies for Santa, and about eighteen months to finally get it in print.

Why did you choose traditional publishing over self-publishing? How many queries? I was afraid to self-publish. I wanted someone experienced in the business to do things such as edit, design the cover, and help market the book. I’m a newbie, still trying to figure this all out. … I sent out six queries, and of the six, two publishers took a serious look at the MS.

The next three questions are in the fun category and give me a little more insight into Valerie as a person and a friend:

Who would play Shannon and Spinelli in the movie version? Molly Quinn would play Shannon, and Anson Mount would play Spinelli.

What does your family think of your writing? Since I write outside of my day job, I spend many evenings in the home office. That said, my husband has washed more dishes in the past year and a half than he did in our first 20 years of marriage, and he has sole control of the TV remote. J Seriously though, he’s been very supportive. Each of my brothers think they are the hero…they are mistaken, and as for my cat, as long as her food dish is full, she doesn’t care what I do.Image

What is your favorite cookie? White chocolate macadamia nut!

Of course I had to ask her favorite cookie, and if chocolate wasn’t in the answer (even though it’s white chocolate), I would have had to find another person to interview. And look! She used an exclamation point at the end of her answer.

There you have it. A little information to help you get to know Valerie if you would like to follow her here at WP, and enough information about her book to make a decision to buy when it comes out tomorrow. A big thank you to Valerie for being a good sport and allowing me to do a less-than-typical interview.

As for the rest of you, do you read about the author before making a decision to buy a book? Do you read about the author after you know you like their work? Or were you like me and ignored them completely while simply throwing money their way and devouring their books?

If you have any questions or comments for Valerie, feel free to leave them for her in the comments section.

National Novel Writing Month – Day One

Thursday, November 1, 2012

9:00 a.m. – Drag myself out of bed after six and a half hours of sleep. Brrr. It’s cold. Remind myself to find the time to work on clothes warming invention before it gets really cold.Image

9:30 a.m. – Take out dog. Make a cup of cocoa. Clean off my desk in preparation for big writing day.

10:00 a.m. – Show up at a blog and drop a haiku. Mess around reading blogs for a while, write and send an email.

12:00 – Surf websites looking for floor map of condo in Chicago. Walk around the streets of Chicago with Google Street View. Oh, look! A squirrel! Make myself stop surfing clothing stores and go back to condos. Zillow sucks me in, and I shop for my own condo.

1:30 p.m. – Finally have floor plan, room samples, and list of condo amenities. Crap! There’s no paper in the printer and none in the house.

1:45 p.m. – Play a few rounds of computer game.

3:00 p.m. – Drop a comment on a blog and leave a typo. It’s a curse. Read more blogs.

4:00 p.m. – Take out dog again. Did he really wait this long to ask to go out? Converse with hubby about dinner. Leftover spaghetti?

4:15 p.m. – Microwave still dead. Pile leftover spaghetti and sauce in baking dish, top with Parmesan cheese, and plop into the oven.

4:30 p.m. – Run to store for chocolate. Pat myself on back for remembering to buy paper.Image

5:15 p.m. – Hubby home. Dinner is good. Spaghetti is always better the next day – or was it from last week?

6:15 p.m. – Crash on sofa in den and play Dr. Mario with hubby. Crank up music and realize Pitbull and Flo Rida both have new songs out. Hubby loving and singing along with new Rihanna tune; I’m not so sure I like it. I am tonight’s champion. Yay!

8:00 p.m. – Back at my desk. Ok, I’m ready to write. Ready, set … oh, look! A squirrel!  Country Music Awards are on.

8:25 p.m. – Text from son; he works afternoons. Haven’t seen him for a while. Decide to run up and see him over his lunch break.

9:30 p.m. – Back home. Country Music Awards are still on. Fast forward to catch up live. Motorboatin’!

11:00 p.m. – Awards over. I can write for a couple of hours now. That’s plenty of time to crank out more than 2,000 words. Commercial comes on for Nashville with that cute girl from Heroes, Hayden Panettiere. Hey, I missed that last night. Find it online to watch missed episode.

Midnight – Nashville over. Take out dog again. Dog goes to bed. Hubby sleeping on sofa. Now I can write!Image

12:10 a.m. – Grab notebook and start handwriting notes for first scene. No actual manuscript writing, but look at me! I’m accomplishing something!

12:15 a.m. – Oh, look! A squirrel! My dvr is recording something. What am I recording now? Check the listing and see Project Runway is recording. Well, I’m not waiting to watch that! It’s the All Stars.

12:30 a.m. – Give up on writing and put together a blog post chronicling first day of NaNoWriMo while I watch Project Runway. After all, this blog was originally intended to track my writing journey.

National Novel Writing Month – Day 1 – Number of words written: ZERO

Blasted squirrels.Image