Random Documents

Whilst packing “stuff” for my move, I took time to go through everything in my desk. Purge, purge, purge. I eliminated over half the paperwork in folders. Some things I left behind because there’s more storage there than here.

I found some miscellaneous documents I printed from websites. They pertain to writing, so I thought I would share them with you.

The first is How to Write a Pulp Western. Yep. At one time that was an interest of mine. I love pulp fiction, and a good western can make my day. I wonder if my love of westerns is from my teenage years while watching them on television on Sunday mornings/afternoons with my dad. Do you remember Sundays as being the day for westerns?

This document, How to Write a Pulp Western was written by Ben Haas (aka John Benteen). Ben typed this document for his son. I found the information interesting and informative. The article starts off telling you what you need for a successful western: the hero, the villain, and the weenie. The villain is the most important of the three, and the weenie is whatever is the conflict. The typed pages are here:

Rough Edges: How to Write a Pulp Western – Ben Haas

The comments on the blog post are worth reading as well.

Continuing with the theme of pulp fiction, I’m also a fan of noir fiction – especially detective fiction.

A character in my Murder books is a long-time private investigator who is definitely not PC by today’s standards. Some of his language is right out of the 30s. I had a ball trying to find things for him to say that weren’t too over the top. This list of words of Gumshoe Slang is a hoot!

Twists, Slugs and Roscoes: A Glossary of Hardboiled Slang

There are more words on this list of slang from Dirty 30s.

Dirty 30s! – Slang of the 30s

One more for the detective theme. S.S. Van Dine’s 20 Rules for Writing Detective Fiction:

Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Fiction – S.S. Van Dine

I like #7 – There simply must be a corpse in a detective novel, and the deader the corpse the better.

Next up: Fearmongering Words

I read an article about how danger words and words that evoke fear are effective in keeping a reader hooked in your story. Using the word murdered is better than using the word killed. It evokes a stronger emotion. Supposedly, fear isn’t just an emotion, it’s an effective tool that can send your writing to the next level.

I think this was one of the reasons I decided to use the word Murder in the titles of all my Two Sisters and a Journalist books.

Fearmongering Words Cheat Sheet

And finally, a list of words that denote Flabby Writing.

The funny thing is that because I write “simple,” meaning I use simple words, I kind of like some flabby writing. Most of my characters have humorous elements about them, and they talk flabby. I do like eliminating unnecessary prepositions and prepositional phrases. Adverbs many times get the chop, too. When I had Murder Under Construction edited, the editor nixed the word nefarious. She thought it was too old-fashioned for today’s reader. Hmph. I finally use an interesting word, and she wants to chop it. Stubborn me. Nefarious is still in the book today. 😊

297-flabby-words-and-phrases

Do you have printouts or links to articles you refer to now and then to give you inspiration or help with your writing? Share!

A Selfish Bonus Post

I’ve been hoping to keep to a once-a-week posting schedule, but today I have two reasons for sneaking in an additional post.

April 20 – 4/20 – 4:20 – 420 … for some people, that number has a significant meaning. Today is World Cannabis Day. In some parts of the world, smoke and odor will fill the air at 4:20 this afternoon. I know people who only remember that today is my birthday because of this day of smoking pot.

So, today I am sixty-seven years old. I flinch as I add another digit to my age, but as long as my inner child never ages past twelve years old, I’m good with it.

Ok, enough birthday celebration. Onto the next item.

I really love my Stanley Pearl book. I recently re-read it, and I enjoyed it just as much as the last time I read it. 😊 I like some of the absurdness of the story as well as the humor moments. It is a tad racier than anything else I’ve written but would still garner a PG-13 rating at the movie theater.

I haven’t marketed the book at all, and the thing that has been holding me back is the cover. Although the stock photo works just fine, the cover doesn’t really convey anything about the story.

I want to change it, but I’m struggling with ideas. I know my readership here isn’t what it used to be, but for those of you who are here, if anything pops into your head, give a girl a hand. Here are some basic points:

I want the cover to be cohesive with all my other covers, meaning I want that hand-drawn, somewhat cartoonish look.

Color isn’t an issue like it is with my other covers.

The story is more like a romantic comedy than anything – and an adventure for Stanley. He goes from a boring, drab accountant to an attractive, exciting man mixed up with dangerous people.

This is the blurb at Amazon:

When a boring accountant comes out of his shell, romance and danger await him.

Stanley Pearl’s life has been turned upside down. His wife ran off with another man, leaving Stanley to raise his teenage son alone. He takes the summer off from his accounting position to stay home with his son and write the novel he always dreamed of writing.

When a wealthy client demands Stanley help her nephew with his less than legal accounting, he has no choice but to say yes. Before he can deliver the finished work, his client is abducted, and Stanley soon discovers he has something the captors want.

A waitress at the coffee shop where he has been writing offers to help Stanley by introducing him to her ex-CIA brother. There’s no denying the chemistry between Teresa and Stanley, but can he stay alive long enough to explore the possibility of a relationship?

Stanley Pearl is a standalone novel with romance, suspense, and a splash of humor.

There are a whopping three reviews for Stanley so far (all good!). One is an editorial review from Readers’ Favorite (located above the product description). You can see those here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DP4W8QQ/

If you have any suggestions, ideas, other book covers that show a representation of what might work … please let me know. What should be on the cover?

If you want to read Stanley Pearl, here is a code for a free book at Smashwords: PB99T If you want a copy from Amazon, let me know in the comments or drop an email to me, and I’ll send a link to you: maddiecochere@breezybooks.com

Thanks!!

Oh, I forgot to mention, I already have a design company ready to do the new cover, but they are hoping to get some information from me as to what I want. Ack! I don’t know what I want.

What say you?

A Fine Place for Writing – Part 2

Grab the Wayback Machine and travel back in time to September 2, 2012. There you will find my blog post showing where I was writing. I know you don’t want to go back there, so let me show you the picture:

If you want to know what all the numbers and arrows are for, you will have to go read the post – A Fine Place for Writing

I not only wrote many of my books in that fine place, but I also wrote a few books in an upstairs bedroom that was basically a playroom when our granddaughter visited. Ha! That room is Pepto Bismol pink. Here’s a picture of that writing place:

And who can forget the deck Rich built for me. That was a great place for writing until bird doo-doo, bugs, flies, neighbor kids, traffic, and my own family running in and out of the house every five minutes basically sent me back into the house.

You don’t need pictures of our local library or the Marriott hotel. I was writing at both of those places, too. I schmoozed with the staff at the Marriott more than I wrote, so that kind of defeated the purpose, but what great people! I had fun there, and it was a nice distraction during the rough times earlier in the year.

So, now that I’ve turned my life on its head, pretty much everything has changed. So, of course, has my fine place for writing.

Are you ready? Get a load of this setup:

Faerie lights. That’s right, faerie lights. I’m writing at night more than I am during the day, and I love these lights. There’s not much rhyme or reason to their placement, but they make me happy just as they are.

That’s still the behemoth of a desk I bought many years ago at a thrift shop for $35. It was pretty beat up then, and I haven’t done it any favors over the years, but I love it. It weighs about a million pounds and was the last thing I managed to get in here, because I couldn’t find anyone to move it for me. My “office” is just inside the front door in the living room.

My overall mood determines the music I choose (when I can tear myself away from the music of The Dead South). I always write with music – usually loud. The neighbors haven’t complained yet. And occasionally, I might have an adult beverage. Drambuie over ice is my preferred drink in winter, Hendrick’s and tonic for summer – or sometimes a spicy bloody Mary (bonus points for the potassium in the V-8 juice).

My old computer on the right has years of emails, photos, documents, and all-around junk filling it to the brink. Many of the files are backed up elsewhere, but there are programs I still use that are obsolete, so I keep the computer up and running and drag files back and forth on thumb drives.

My new computer is a marvel. How in the world can an entire computer fit within a thin monitor? Sheesh, I remember our very first computer back in ‘92. It was a Packard Bell with a 50mb hard drive. The computer and the monitor took up a ton of space. I was proficient with DOS programs. Technology. Wow.

I must admit, I love being able to sit at my desk and write whenever I want. I actually love being able to do whatever I want whenever I want. This new-found freedom is good for my soul. I have no idea how much time I have left in my life, and I plan to live this time with happiness and abandon.

So, how about you? A life of happiness and abandon? How about your fine place for writing? Take a picture of your writing space and drop it in the comments below!

Living life with abandon doesn’t mean living recklessly but rather deciding that no matter what comes your way you are going to enjoy everything, and you are going to make the best of what is going on around you. ~Michael Horner, Living An Ultra Life

In the Kitchen

My new kitchen. Note the fire extinguisher on top of the refrigerator. I’ve already caught a kitchen towel on fire but handled that one myself. The orchid is a gift from my son.

I’ve always loved to cook. As a teenager, my very first cookbook was Trader Vic’s Mexican Cookbook. I used my family as guinea pigs while I cooked many of the recipes in the book. Dad wasn’t a fan, but Mom and siblings were on board.

Today, I’m only a slightly intuitive cook, so I do use a recipe for the groundwork, but I’m not afraid to make changes or additions based on personal taste.

My cooking abilities seemed to miraculously ratchet up a notch during the pandemic. … Actually, it was because I became hooked on watching YouTube videos of people cooking great food. I couldn’t write recipes down fast enough.

The menfolk couldn’t believe all the good food I was turning out, and unless they requested something specific, we easily went six months without eating the same thing twice. Every meal was judged against this statement: “I’d be happy if I got this in a restaurant.”

I made monthly menus and categorized each day of the week – Sunday Dinner, Italian (Monday), Chinese (Tuesday), Sandwiches (Wednesday), Mexican (Thursday), One Pot/Casserole (Friday), Pizza Day (Saturday). Homemade pizzas were so good, we never had any desire to call and order one.

I became addicted to kitchen equipment. I spent way too much money on a Dutch oven. I love it for baking round loaves of rustic bread. A Kitchen Aid mixer? You betcha. And I’ve yet to use it for mixing anything. I bought the pasta attachments, and I make my own pasta. I always have homemade spaghetti in the freezer, ready to drop in boiling water and on the table three minutes later.

I make my bread dough by hand but let my bread maker produce my pasta dough.

Because it’s all the rage, I had to have an air fryer. Probably the one purchase I have some regrets about, because I only use it for wings. However, now that I’m by myself, and the air fryer is on the kitchen counter instead of tucked away in a cupboard, I might use it more often.

Oh! And a carbon steel wok. I love this wok! My Chinese food was great coming out of my large Farberware skillet, but the wok makes it so much easier and faster. The last Chinese dish I made was Orange Chicken. It was fantastic.

I keep my handwritten recipes from YouTube in three-ring binders. I won’t overwhelm you, but I’ll pull a few recipes I think are winners from each category. Maybe you might want to try them, too.

To start:

Spicy Chili Oil (I love this stuff and am not afraid to put it on anything!)

Italian:

Creamy Tuscan Chicken

Pasta Alla Norcina (I make my own Italian sausage for this.)

Chinese:

Orange Chicken

Spicy Ginger Beef Stir Fry

Vegetables:

French Onion Soup Potato Gratin (Oh my! So good! I made this for Thanksgiving dinner last year. It was a hit.)

Spanish Stuffed Zucchini with Cheese

Sunday Dinner:

Chicken Pan Pot Pie (Made in a cast iron skillet. Awesome!)

Roast Chicken with Lemon & Garlic (Lemon Gravy! This chicken is fantastic. I cut all whole chickens this way now – even Cornish game hens.)

Mexican:

Taco Bell Copycat Red Sauce (I use loads of this in Mexican dishes.)

Spicy Chicken Taquitos

Chili Con Carne (From Trader Vic’s cookbook.)

One Dish/Casseroles:

One Pan Chicken and Dirty Rice

Cheesy Jalapeno Popper Bake

Breads:

Farmhouse Loaf in a Dutch Oven (I love this water/slap-and-fold method for making bread. So easy.)

Ciabatta Bread for Sandwiches (Another favorite. The recipe doesn’t say to, but I use the same water/slap-and-fold technique when making these.)

Sandwiches:

Low Sodium Deli Style Roast Beef (My go-to protein for in my salads.)

OMG Burgers (A little work, but they are super tasty.)

Sloppy Joe Grilled Cheese

Pizza:

Beer Pizza (One hour pizza.)

Mushroom Pizza with Fresh Herbs

Enjoy!

What are your favorite kitchen items? Will you try any of these recipes? If you do, pop back in and let me know what you think!

Dealing with Bad Reviews

Early in my writing career, I don’t recall finding much information about dealing with bad reviews other than to put on your big girl panties, suck it up, and move on.

I never found that helpful.

I’m on the other side of bad reviews now, but I sure was in the thick of them for a while. I became a target for bad reviews, and there was nothing I could do to stop them.

Most of my negative reviews are on my permafree books. It’s easy to download a free book, and if it isn’t your cup of tea – ding it. (Or download a free book for the sole purpose of leaving a negative review.)

I still have emails from the first two years I was writing. Here are some things I wrote to family and/or friends as I was tortured by bad reviews. My comments from these emails are in quotes.

“This whole review system is a kick in the gut.”

“I don’t think this writing gig is for me. … I just want to walk away. … I don’t have the thick skin needed for this.”

Becoming a target from people who read my blog was painful.

“Every time I post good things about my books, covers, whatever, on my blog, a few bad reviews are always right behind – sometimes within minutes.”

“Reviews have been the hardest part for me. I wasn’t prepared for them. I went back through my blog and edited and deleted posts where I felt someone could use my words against me.”

I felt as though my personality was changing.

“I really don’t have what it takes for this. I don’t. Some things with writing and self-publishing have practically paralyzed me. I’ve never had so much depression in my life. This is not who I am.”

What saved me?

February 28, 2014. Two years in. I had an ad run with BookBub for Sunshine Hunter.

There were in excess of 80,000 downloads the first two days. I was quickly able to see that approximately 300 people were making their way through the entire series of books. Sales were brisk.

Reviews started coming in – from complete strangers – not peers and/or readers to my blog. The good reviews far outweighed the bad.

That’s how I was able to get on the other side. That’s when the thick skin began to grow. I can honestly say I rarely look at my reviews now, and I certainly don’t flinch when someone doesn’t like one of my books. They may be an acquired taste anyway. My Susan Hunter books are pink and fluffy. My Murder books are uncouth.

So, what’s the takeaway here?

I honestly don’t think there is one answer. I do believe once your good reviews outweigh your bad by a good margin, you will breathe easier. You’ll develop that thick skin. Then force yourself to let the reviews go. Focus on writing your next book.

I realize not everyone can get a BookBub ad and be able to rocket past the bad reviews. So, do what I did for two years – rely on friends and family to listen to you complain and moan like crazy. Cry at times. Shake your fists at the Heavens and ask, “Why?”

You need an outlet to release the frustration and pressure. However, don’t stop writing. Never stop writing.

Before I let this topic go, I must add that I am of the camp where it is a no-no to respond to reviews. People have the right to free speech, and I don’t need to engage. Usually, nothing good will come of it.

I also think it’s wise to see if there is anything you can take from a bad review and use to either better your writing or fix something within your book. I’ve done both.

How have you handled bad reviews? Do you have some advice you can add? Leave a comment!

I should note that although I was distressed by some bad review “bombing,” the good reviews on my books were always more than the bad. I was never in the negative with my reviews. I liken the situation to the new car that gets a tiny scratch on the way home from the showroom floor. All you can forever see is the scratch. Negative reviews have a way of taking away all the good things people said who loved your book(s).