Horizontal Floors: Everyone Needs Them

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I love writing speculative fiction. Part of my process is to create cities. I start with something vague in my head, which I write down in a large Code&Quill monolith journal. From there, I continue building my city mostly in my head and writing in the journal. Then, I begin creating other things, like cars, gynoids, etc. Finally, I create the characters who will live in my city. Even as I’m creating the people and gynoids, I continue adding to the cityscape. If I’m lucky, two years or less (sometimes more) from my first concept of the city, I find a publisher for the work. Currently, I have two books in a four-book speculative fiction series published with the final two completed (or almost finished) and both will be published later this year. I also have three more completed speculative fiction manuscripts marinating.

I made the mistake the other day of reading the some of the reviews for the first two books. The people who didn’t like the books were those who either don’t like speculative fiction (then why were they reading my speculative fiction book?) or those who wanted me to create the technology and cities the way they wanted them created. One reviewer suggested that I hadn’t changed enough from the way things are today (never mind that my characters were living on Earth in the first book and it had all but become a frozen wasteland with nine-month-long Arctic-like-winters and no summers and flora and fauna were a thing of the past and add to the weather issues I had traffic going vertical as well with four horizontal levels of urban traffic—assuming the reviewer actually read the book, I guess there’s no pleasing some people.

I agree with the urban planner/architect who says that cities in the future won’t be that different from what we have now because humans will always need horizontal floors to walk on, facades for privacy and protection, and windows for looking out. Other planners and architects are working on incorporating nature into their vertical structures with large gardens every three or four floors or running wild on many exterior floors as well as roof-top community gardens.

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Apparently, the people who are predicting what the cities of the future will be all agree that the urban sprawl of today—think in terms of Los Angeles and Las Vegas—will be transformed into vertical cities such as you see with Hong Kong and Singapore in order to make the best use of the land available. I’ve seen some of the fantastical creations by architects who believe vertical buildings will no longer need to be just tall sterile structures.

What will happen in current cities—like NYC, Chicago, London, Berlin, and others—that no longer have the land to allow for horizontal building? They will have to halt building structures for their inhabitants, current and future, in a horizontally manner or they have to figure out a way to build ever higher self-sustaining vertical buildings in which to house their ever-growing populations of people and growing businesses.

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So when I write fiction set in the future, the cities I create for my stories are no less—nor more—fantastical than the cities being created by today’s architects and urban planners around the world, and they all have horizontal floors.

 

 

 

 

 

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Judging Book Covers

Last summer, I began hanging out on certain web sites and looking at book covers. I am blown away by what I’ve seen. There are beautiful covers, silly covers, covers that draw your eye to them, covers that make you turn away from them.

All those covers led me to ask myself, do I choose books by their covers? The answer is necessarily complicated. I know I’m like a magpie, drawn to bright primary colors (just look at the cover on my book The Shower coming out on January 15th), but in looking at dozens of covers, I’ve found myself attracted to covers that are striking in the creativeness of the cover artist.  Do I read the book because of the cover? No, but I will pick it up, so to speak, to read what the book is about.

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Then I began wondering how important book covers are to readers. Without a doubt, I think readers are attracted to a well-done cover and repelled by a cover that obviously was created by an amateur trying to use Photoshop Elements.

A recent survey* published by the author A.E. Radley asked lesbian fiction readers about their experiences with LesFic. Questions asked included what the respondents thought about book covers.

On a scale of 1-6, 194 respondents of 200 gave a rating of four to the question of whether book covers were important to them. However, when asked about the quality of LesFic covers, only 9.3% said covers were of a very high standard while 38.9% said the covers were just okay and 33.6% said covers are of a “good standard.”

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I generally don’t picture my books’ covers as I’m writing the book. However, once I’m given a cover to consider, I have an immediate gut reaction to it. It’s either very right or very wrong. When I saw The Shower’s cover I reacted positively to it as I did to the cover of my book Killer Winter.

Only once did I have a bad reaction to a cover and that was many years ago. The first potential cover sent to me was just plain awful. It was clear that nobody at the publishing house had bother to read either the synopsis of the book I sent with the required request for a cover nor had they read the blurb about the book much less bothered to read even the first chapter in the book. I ranted and raged to my friends. I sent a polite note to the publisher saying that the cover didn’t come close to reflecting the story itself. I made suggestions. Finally, after a month of “negotiations,” the publisher presented me with a cover that I considered to be okay. I have no idea just how close I came to being fired by the publisher, but I simply could not live with what they considered to be a fine cover for my book. I remember thinking I was going to pilloried by reviewers because the cover was so terribly wrong.

I know readers may never have heard of me or my books, but will at least look at the blurb for my book if I have a cover that speaks to them viscerally. I figure if the cover speaks to me at a gut level, maybe potential readers will have that same reaction and give my books a try. At least that’s what I tell myself.

 

*Note: You can find A.E. Radley’s survey here – http://aeradley.com/lesbian-and-bi-women-fiction-questionnaire-results-2018/Check it out. It’s very interesting to say the least. Oh, and participate in the new survey she has posted.

Killer Spring Chapter One

Killer Spring is a romantic mystery set in the future. While Killer Spring is the second in a four-book series, it reads as a stand alone novel.  Both Killer Winter, the first book in the series, and Killer Spring can be found on Amazon. I am sharing the entire first chapter with you, and hope you enjoy reading it.

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Chapter One

Leah Samuels was sitting with her back to her desk staring at the lake behind her office building. The trees in the copse beyond the lake were just beginning to sprout new leaves the color of a fine green mist. She never tired of looking at the view in all its many and varied transformations. Her former world had been white at best, dirty gray on bad days, and downright depressing on the in-between days, the result of perpetual winter. Flowers, trees, and grass had ceased to exist on New America, but flourished here. Not for the first time, she wondered if she would flourish here, too. When she’d moved here, she firmly believed the flowers, trees, and colors of Xing could and would heal her psyche and save her life. And she’d been right.

When the door to her office slammed open behind her, she was out of her chair and reaching for her weapon as she turned toward the intruder before she remembered she no longer wore the leather holster holding her police-issued weapon and she was no longer a police officer. Now, she was the fifty-two percent owner of Black Orchid Investigations. It was just as well she had no weapon, otherwise she would have shot one of the richest men on Xing. She was sure the fallout from that would mean the end of her not-yet-a-year-old business.

“I’m sorry, Leah, he just barged through the office,” Stacy, her assistant, said.

“That’s okay, Stacy. I’m sure Mr. Bensington didn’t mean to scare you and the others. Please send Cots in.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Mr. Bensington, welcome to Black Orchid Investigations. How can I help you?” Leah asked the man whose face she recognized from the daily vidnews programs.

Cots entered the office and stood with his arms folded across his chest near the door. He was an imposing figure and seemed to take up much of the space in any room he entered. He stood six feet seven inches tall, without an ounce of fat on his lean frame. He was the firm’s techno guru, knew about 97,000 ways to kill someone, and owned twenty-four percent of Black Orchid Investigations.

“I don’t want to waste time on pleasantries. I want to hire you.”

“Why don’t you sit down, then, and tell me how we can help you,” Leah said, choosing to ignore the man’s rudeness—for now.

Bensington sat heavily on a chair as if he were carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. He was disheveled, his white shirt looked like he’d slept in it for a week, his blue tie was askew and had a grease stain on it, and his hair looked like he’d hadn’t washed it in many days. Leah knew from the vidnews his daughter had been killed a few weeks earlier, and the local cops were having a hard time finding the killer or killers, according to the media.

“I want you to investigate the murder of my youngest daughter, Sarah.”

“I thought the police were handling the investigation. Have they closed the case?”

“All but. The detective in charge of the investigation has been handling other cases over the last week or so.”

“Most detectives generally handle more than one case at a time.”

“I told the Chief I wanted this specific detective to handle my daughter’s case and I didn’t want him handling anything but my daughter’s murder. Now I find out he’s been assigned at least three additional cases.”

“Mr. Bensington, what exactly do you expect me to do for you?”

“I expect you to find my daughter’s killers. Sooner rather than later.”

“The person most likely to do that for you is the detective in charge of the case.”

“If that’s true, then why hasn’t he done it?”

“The possibilities of why he’s not closed the case yet are legion,” Leah said.

“I don’t care what his excuses are, I want him to find the damned killers.”

“You asked for him to be assigned to the case for a reason…what was that reason?”

“I’d been told he’s the best detective on the force. Now I find out he’s an idiot.”

“What’s his name?”

“What does that matter?”

Leah wasn’t about to explain why she wanted to know the detective’s name, so she sat waiting for Bensington to answer her question.

Bensington clearly wasn’t used to others questioning his authority, so it seemed he wasn’t about to answer Leah’s question. Leah waited patiently. She briefly glanced at Cots standing at the door behind Bensington, who grinned at her. Obviously, Cots’s money was on Leah winning the contest.

“His name is Andrew Becker,” Bensington finally said, ending the stalemate.

Leah was familiar with the name, but hadn’t yet met the man. She, too, had been told he was the best the Victoria Police Department had.

“Thank you. So you have the best detective assigned to your daughter’s case and yet here you sit in my office.”

“I told you. Becker’s an idiot. He’s no closer to solving the case than when he was handed it weeks ago. Everyone knows these kinds of cases go cold fast. I don’t want that happening to my daughter’s case.”

What Bensington said was true, unfortunately. However, Leah wasn’t sure she wanted to take on a case still being investigated by the police department’s top detective.

Bensington saw her hesitation. “Look,” he said. “I’ll pay you whatever you want.”

“It’s not a matter of money, Mr. Bensington,” Leah said.

The man sitting across the desk from her could make or break Black Orchid Investigations. If they were unable to solve his daughter’s murder, Leah was sure he’d guarantee they’d never get away from surveilling wayward husbands and wives. Without having the details of the murder scene, possible witnesses, and suspects, they’d be trying to solve a murder with one hand tied behind their backs. However, she was intrigued by the case and had been following the media’s reporting on it.

“Listen, I’ve done my research and I know you moved here two years ago from New America where you were the most decorated detective on the police force there. You had a very successful career with the police department. And you almost single-handedly cleaned up the most corrupt police department in the galaxy. If you could do that, I’m confident you can find my daughter’s killers.”

Leah glanced at Cots. He raised an eyebrow and smiled at her. They both knew Leah had been in the midst of solving a case involving a mass murderer, and incidental to that was a serial bomber, a mobster, and some seemingly corrupt police officials and officers.

“I’m prepared to transfer 750,000 Xing credits into your business account today if you’ll take this on for me. I’ll transfer another two million credits when you find the killers.”

Again, Leah looked at Cots. This time both his eyebrows were nearly touching his hairline. He gave her a nod she took to mean he thought they should take the case.

“How old was your daughter, Mr. Bensington?”

“She was only twenty. She was beautiful and brilliant. She was going to be an astrophysicist,” Bensington said, tears obscuring his voice, making him difficult to hear. “Please find the monsters who killed my little girl.”

“Mr. Bensington, I will take your case, but with conditions.”

“What are they?”

“The first is that you stop trying to solve the case yourself. You could compromise our ability to find the killers by meddling. I want you, and your people, to back away as of now.”

“But I could be helpful. I need to be involved.”

Leah didn’t say anything. She sat and watched Bensington, suspecting he was arguing with himself about his need to be involved and thus in control, and his desire to have the case solved. She sensed those two things were at war with one another.

“Okay,” he said with a sigh. “What else?”

“I want you to send me all the information you have on the case, including police reports, photographs, and autopsy reports. Everything. And I want it by the end of today.”

“Okay.”

“Cots will give you our standard contract to sign, and the pertinent information for transferring the money into our account.”

“Very well,” Bensington said as he stood up.

Cots crossed the office to offer his hand to Bensington, who took one look at him and turned to Leah. “But he’s—”

“My business partner.” Leah interrupted him before he could point out the obvious—Cots was an alien. “If we solve this case, he will have been instrumental in our having done so. If you have a problem with him, I suggest you find someone else to hire.”

“There’s no one else I can turn to.”

“Then I suggest you go with Cots, sign the contract, and get the funds transferred.”

Leah stood up and held out her hand to Bensington. He took it, and said, “Thank you.”

Leah had mixed emotions about what she’d just agreed to do. She took a deep breath and left her office to get a cup of tea from their break room. She stopped at Stacy’s desk. “Tell Cots and Peony I want to see them as soon as they’re available. Also tell the staff to join us in the conference room in an hour.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

As she continued down the hallway to the tea kettle, she had a familiar feeling in her gut. They’d caught what was sure to be an all-consuming investigation until they found the killers of Sarah Bensington. And it excited the hell out of her to be on a serious case once again.

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 Killer Spring can be purchased on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Killer-Spring-Kay-Bigelow-ebook/dp/B07G85PCN8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1542567462&sr=8-1&keywords=killer+spring%2C+bigelow

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Writer’s Circle of Woe

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There have been books in my writing life that I thought I would never finish. I’d start them with characters I liked, a clear beginning and a clear ending. By the time I hit the 12,000-word mark, I had no idea how to get to my clear ending. By 20,000 words, I was thinking I’d just trash what I’d written and start over and – maybe, just maybe – create an outline. By the 35,000-word mark, I was really liking my characters a lot, but was still struggling to know what should happen over the next 35,000 words. By the time I finally finished the first draft, I was sick of the book, the characters, and writing in general. Maybe, I’d go back to being a reader. But what about the book I was looking forward to writing? And before I knew it, the terrible circle of woe began again.

Now my third book has just been published, the fourth is due out in January, the fifth will start the editing process next week, and two more have been contracted for during the next year. I have six completed manuscripts on my personal to-be-edited schedule and I visit them on a regular schedule waiting for the day I think they’re polished enough to send to a publisher.

I lost three completed manuscripts in a disastrous computer meltdown. Yes, I backed them all up to a thumb drive. But since I was in the middle of packing up my house for a cross-country move, by the time I got settled into the new house, I had no idea where the thumb drive was. I found a half dozen thumb drives, none of which held the three missing books. Still haven’t found them and it’s been four years. The one manuscript I mourn the loss of most was a historical set in Hong Kong and the New Mexico Territory. But at least I no longer have to figure out what more should be written on them. But I digress.

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From the comments of some readers, I think they may believe we writers have the proverbial light bulb go on over our heads, and we rush to a new Word document and begin typing. In a short time, a manuscript is completed, a publisher joyfully accepts the manuscript as if it were manna from heaven, and it appears on Amazon all bright and shiny new just waiting for the right readers to find it and love it. That is, if they think at all about the process of how their shiny new novel gets into their hands. I was like that once. I didn’t think about how books came to be in my TBR pile. Yes, I was thankful the author had sat down and wrote the book and that a publisher was kind enough to publish it, but that’s as far as I got. Then, one day as I finished a particularly unsatisfying book that had been exactly like the previous dozen or so books I’d read, I said to myself, “Self, I can write a better book.” Unable to resist that challenge, I sat down and wrote a novel. Lo and behold! I found myself enjoying the writing. I also ended up with a half-way decent novel. I put it on a virtual shelf and moved on to the next idea.

And so began my love/hate relationship with the circle of woe.

Today, I’m sitting here in my favorite chair writing a blog post and avoiding writing on a book I have no idea how to get from where I am to the ending that has become more nebulous by the day. I can’t chuck it because I gleefully signed a contract to write it several months ago. Where is that proverbial and elusive light bulb?

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The Cliché Conundrum

 

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Clichés, according to the Writing Center at the University of North Carolina, are “expressions that either have a general meaning or have ‘lost their meaning’ over time. These overused phrases do not provide a specific meaning or image.”

What if the expression, idea, or element of the artistic work has been used a lot and has become synonymous with how lesbian relationships proceed? Yes, I’m talking about the tried and true U-Haul reference. I’m not convinced it’s a cliché since according to the definition above, the U-Haul reference definitely provides the reader with a “specific meaning or image.”

I used said reference in The Shower, which is due out in January, where both characters knew the reference and found its use funny.

I could argue that the U-Haul reference isn’t a cliché because it hasn’t been used in the same sense that, say, “better to be safe than sorry,” “it’s always darkest just before dawn,” or “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Rather, the U-Haul reference may be used almost exclusively within the lesbian community. Since the lesbian community is a very small part of the general population, can anything used consistently there ever be considered to be a cliché? Having used it in print, I’d argue the answer to that would be “no.”

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Be that as it may, there are clichés used throughout the rest of the population that we writers are told we shouldn’t be using like those listed above according to many who instruct writers on how to write a novel.

When an elementary teacher handed her class a list with the opening words to a number of clichés, she asked that the students to finish the sentence. The following are some of their answers:

Better to be safe than … punch a fifth grader

Strike while the…bug is close.

It’s always darkest just before…Daylight Savings Time.

No news is…impossible.

A miss is as good as…a Mr.

You can’t teach an old dog…math.

Where there is smoke, there’s…pollution.

A penny saved is…not much.

If at first you don’t succeed…get new batteries.

I’ve been reading a lot lately. I’ve decided to expand my horizons. There some really good books out there. I’ve enjoyed many, couldn’t stand others. But at no time in my reading marathon did a cliché stop me from reading the book.

Writers are told not to use clichés so much that it may itself be a cliché for be more creative. So I took one cliché “fingers as cold as ice” and tried to think of what to use instead of those five words. Interesting task. What I came up with invariably was much longer than five words, for instance “her digits were so cold my skin felt like it was frostbitten.” Five words versus twelve. Then I remembered reading that writers need to stop writing over-blown sentences, i.e., don’t use twelve words when five would do. Uh, advice givers, you can’t have it both ways.

What’s a poor writer to do?

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Setting a Writing Schedule – Is it Possible?

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I have three book in progress. One book, a romance, I started writing on September 2, 2017 and have written 20,500 words. Another book, a speculative fiction book, I started writing on October 6, 2017 and have 84,000 words. The third book, a futuristic mystery, I started writing on April 21, 2018 and have 21,600 word. Only one of the books is under contract, the other two I’m writing because I love the storyline and the characters. None of them are in the same genre.

My problem with them is that I feel guilty when I work on any of them. It would make sense, I think, to work on the one under contract. But I really want to be writing on one of the other books. So why not work on the one that isn’t causing guilt and conflict? Because I really want to be writing on one of the other books.

You see my problem, yes?

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So one morning this week I woke up thinking I should just finish the book that’s closest to the end. I thought I’d solved the problem. But, I’ve been working on that book for over a year and it doesn’t seem to be anywhere near done. So that didn’t solve the problem of which book to focus on.

The next morning, I woke up thinking it was merely an issue of time allotment. So I figured out a schedule. Write on the book I least wanted to work on in the morning while I was fresh and gung ho. In the afternoon, write on the other one I didn’t really want to work on. And reward myself for working on those two, by writing on the one I really wanted to focus on in the evening. Problem solved. Right?

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Wait a second. I have books I want/need to read. I have to read several because they are about to be published and I promised to review them prior to publication.  Usually, that’s not a problem. But then I started reading an Epic Fantasy. And, it was soooo good. I wanted to savor every last one of its pages so I didn’t race through it. I loved the main character. So I grabbed a few minutes from writing on each of the books over the course of the next few days to read my book. And once, when I found myself awake at 2:30 am, I picked up the book. Three hours later, I set it aside. Fell asleep immediately, and slept for another three hours. Which meant, I’d cut into my morning writing by two and a half hours.

Then, I latched onto the perfect solution. I’d divide my week up by days and rotated through the week reserving one day per book. So that took care of four of the days (three books to write plus books to read). Then one day my sister shows up at my door. She needs to talk. We headed out to a nearby Starbucks and sat in the parking lot talking about what was bothering her. After an hour and a half, we decided to do some grocery shopping—and that took another hour and a half because we ended up sitting in the grocery store’s parking lot and talking some more. So three hours of my morning gone. That very same afternoon, a friend called saying her ride to her doctor’s appointment canceled on her and could I take her to the doctor’s office. Of course, I could. But because we live in a small rural town, her doctor (and mine) is located an hour and a half away. So by the time my friend and I returned from her doctor’s appointment three and a half hours later, I’d spent six and a half hours of my day not writing.

 

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This morning I got up telling myself I was going to write on whatever struck my fancy and the schedule be damned.  So here I am writing a blog and wondering if any of those three books will ever get written. At least one of them had better get written, it’s under contract. The End.jpeg

 

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Ode to Editors

Usually, by the time, I send a manuscript to my publisher, I’m tired of the book, I’m tired of the characters, and I’m ready for it to be published so I can put a copy on my shelf reserved for my published books. The characters have been guests at my party for far too long and they now need to go somewhere else and let new characters into the party  room known as my brain.

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Let it be noted that before I send the manuscript to the publisher to be edited, I’ve read the manuscript several dozen times, I’m sure I’ve found all the errors, like one of the main characters is called by her nickname before the character even admits she has a nickname. I’m convinced I’ve removed all the extra  spaces between words and/or punctuation. I know I’ve been consistent in using characters’ names (especially since I’ve changed a certain character’s name three times), planet names, ship names, etc. Those are the lies I tell myself. When my editor gets her hands on the manuscript, she invariably finds all these little oopsies and not only points them out to me, but actually asks me if she missed something. No, she didn’t miss anything, I did.

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Authors, editors are our friends. They make our book better than we already thought it was. They find and fix the things that drive readers crazy – misspelled words, over usage of our favorite things like commas, em dashes, and tags. They immediately see there’s a plethora of characters all of whom have names that start with the letter S. Like therapists, they ask the hard questions you’ve not yet asked yourself, like does that four-page scene that is so well written (at least in your head) really move the story along or is it just hanging out in the manuscript because you like the way it’s written? Another question I’ve been asked is why are there two chapter eighteens? They actually make sure you’ve resolved an issue from page 28 that you made a mental note to fix later, but forgot that (a) you made that mental note to yourself and (b) forgot that issue even existed even though you’ve read the manuscript a dozen times and never bothered to check that the issue had been resolved somewhere before you typed “The End.”

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I’m like the pitcher on the mound. I know my catcher knows the other team better than I so when she gives me a sign for a fast ball, I throw a fast ball. I’ve learned over the years my editors (at least the good ones) are my catchers, they know the genre better than I. So I seldom argue with my editor. She wants more, I give her more. She wants less, I delete the offending words. She corrects a misspelled word, even though I’ve been spelling it that way in other books and no other editor has corrected it—when I was first starting out, I’d go off in a huff to prove her wrong and damn, she was right according to the five sources I checked—so now I don’t even bother to go look, I accept the change.

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I’ve read books—a lot of books of late—that are so badly written that I’m led to believe they are, at best, first drafts that magically got through the system like that. Not all were self-published. A surprising number of these authors had publishers, reputable publishers. I don’t know this for sure, but I surmise that many, many books have errors in them—nothing major, but woe betide the author if there are because a reader will invariably catch and slam you in her review of your book—what bothers me most is when every page has a misspelled word on it (did the author not notice the red line beneath the word indicating it was misspelled?) or misused words like “too” for “two,” or a character whose name is Jillian suddenly becomes Jilian.

A good editor catches all those things. So listen to your editor. She’s not your competition, she’s not asking you to make changes because she prefers her way over yours, and she’s not the devil incarnate sent to make your life miserable.

Killer Spring

I recently finished working with my very talented editor on the second book in the Leah Samuels series, Killer Spring. It’s scheduled to be published in October 2018.

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In this sequel to Killer Winter, Leah Samuels has moved to the planet Xing to get away from the killer winters on her home world. Her investigative firm is hired to find the killer of the daughter of one of the richest families on the planet when the police are unable to find the murderer. With meticulous attention to detail, Leah and her team delve into the crime, pursuing leads that weren’t even on the radar of the police. They encounter intrigue, danger, and deception while trying to unravel the mystery, all afforded them by a corrupt system and a powerful underworld.

When she meets the sister of the murdered woman, Jardain Bensington, Leah falls into lust, something she didn’t think was possible until it happens to her. Her mind tells her to walk away, but the rest of her body, including her heart, tells her to take a chance on Jardain. But Jardain’s playgirl reputation and her possible involvement in her sister’s murder threaten to keep them apart, despite the mutual attraction.

Join the Black Orchid Investigations team in this second in a four-book series featuring Leah Samuels.

How to Avoid Editing

I recently set off to do research on living in the Artic on the internet to take a break from editing my latest work-in-progress. Before I knew it, I was lost. Well, not lost—more like I wasn’t where I thought I was going. When will I learn to not to follow links? This time, I came across this photo

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Don’t even ask how I got from the Artic to this art deco oil painting, Tamara in a Green Bugatti by Tamara de Lempicka. It’s a self-portrait by the Polish artist painted while she lived in Paris in 1929.

This was not the first time I set out to find one thing and ended up somewhere completely unexpected. Just the other day I went off to verify that Prince and Mike Pence were both born on June 7th. I don’t even remember why that had become important to me or even if it was important, but there I was on a page all about Prince and from there…. Well, you know how that morning went.

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There are so many other, less interesting, ways one can spend one’s time avoiding editing your latest WIP. On this trip though, I’ve found a little bit about living in the Artic, an Art Deco artist I’d never heard of, and Prince. No telling where I’ll find myself when I return to my editing again. I can’t wait to see where I go next.

Pocket Treasures

When I was a kid, my jeans pockets were a treasure trove. They were filled with things I thought were wonderful—a piece of wood, a stone, my favorite marble, a found playing card, a sea shell, or, when we lived in the Philippines, a wilted hibiscus flower I picked for my mother, but forgot to give her.

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As I grew older the contents of my jeans pockets changed. The treasures became smaller and fewer. The treasures might be a piece of paper with a phone number but no name to indicate whose it was, a tube of Chapstick, some loose change, a wadded up Kleenex, and an old movie theater ticket stub.

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As an adult, I became more aware of how I looked. I wanted my slacks to fall from my waist to my shoe tops in a straight line with no bulges in between which meant, alas, there were almost never any treasures in my pockets. I carried a brief case and/or a purse and at the bottom of each of those I could usually find things I had been loathed to throw away at the time, like a book of matches with a phone number written on the inside of the cover, but no name, a tube of a favorite lipstick that was used up, a crumpled pack of cigarettes with a single broken cigarette in it, an appointment card from a doctor, a note containing the name of a court case, and last year’s calendar.

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As I matured, I found myself returning to my days as a kid. The pockets of my jeans again became a treasure trove of wonderful things—a slim wallet so I wouldn’t have to carry a dreaded purse or briefcase, my iPhone, a 3×5 card with the titles of a few books I wanted to read, a credit card I forgot to put back into my wallet, a slim notebook for writing down snippets of overheard conversations or a description of a street after a rainstorm in a foreign country, and, always, a fountain pen.

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This morning as I sat contemplating writing a blog, I checked my jeans pockets and found my iPhone in one pocket and two pennies and a Zebra ballpoint pen in the other. That’s all. That’s the sum total of my pocket treasures these days. I’ve successfully downsized my life and in so doing, it seems I’ve downsized my pocket treasures as well. More’s the pity for that. It was a lot more awe inspiring emptying my pockets when I was eight.

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