Doc Talk

I forgot to mention about my wonderful doctor. The night I was released, he came in to talk to me. When the serious discussion was winding down, I said, “Did you save my hip bone you cut off? Gary and I were hoping to polish it and use it for a gear shift in our ’67  Camero.”

Doc got an uber serious look on his face, carefully settled himself on the arm of a chair and said, “In the United States, we have very strict laws about how medical waste can and must be handled. According to the law, we absolutely have to –”

Before my eyes could start rolling back in my head, I interrupted him. “I was just joking, Doc. I didn’t really want it.”

A look of pure relief came over his face, as if he’d quickly prepared himself for a battle that he suddenly didn’t have to fight. Poor guy. No sense of humor, but a fantastic physician. (That’s the way it should be, huh?)

I could envision polishing the ball joint and giving John MyCane a cute little nose, but I didn’t tell super doc that.

The New Phone Books Are Here!!

Actually, what I meant to say is “The new TV shows are here!” but any time a thought along that line comes to mind, I always remember Steve Martin in some old movie shouting, “The new phone books are here!”

I don’t mind reruns of shows I like, but it’s always kind of a relief to see the fall season start. I haven’t caught many shows so far because I’ve been writing like mad, making visits to the ER (both the two-legged and the four-legged kind) and hanging out with my mom while she recuperates from a couple falls, but I did catch a couple.

I love “Criminal Minds.” Wish Hotch would smile once in a while (anyone remember him as Greg on “Dharma and Greg”? He was so much more human in that role!) Love Morgan, and Garcia retains her role as coolest character on TV.

Missed “NCIS” and “NCIS: LA.” (I still snicker — practically the only major city in the US that doesn’t have some sort of Navy presence.) I also missed “Law & Order: SVU,” and the first half of “Ghost Whisperer.” Where the heck did Melinda and Jim get that six-year-old kid who calls them Mom and Dad???

I’m not a huge fan of “Medium,” but I absolutely adore David Cubitt, who plays the detective, so I try to watch it just for him. Love his voice!

And “Numbers” . . . between Charlie, Don, David and Colby, how could a woman not love it? I thought it was funny that some of the promos tried to play up the suspense of whether Amita would accept Charlie’s proposal. Duh! He’s the sexiest geek on TV. Of course she did!

What shows are you watching/waiting for? Anything new I should give a shot?

Getting the Message

The Cherokee believe in The Little People, the Yunwi Tsunsdi. These mythical folks are like leprechauns only they don’t have a pot of gold. Instead, the Little People play tricks on us. They hide our car keys, socks, and earrings all to make us laugh at ourselves, to teach us not to take ourselves too seriously and sometimes to send a message. And they sent me a little message last Sunday.

A few weeks ago, I shared with you a little strange, but true, ghost story about my mother’s house. Since then I’ve been wondering why I don’t write ghost stories or paranormal romance since I really love the supernatural. You know the tales I’m talking about? The ones that dance a chill up your spine? So last Sunday, I was sitting at my desk in my bedroom trying to write. I like to work in our bedroom because I can shut the door and work without distractions. We have a “home office” in what should be our dining room. This room has been converted into an office and a “library”. It’s lined with bookshelves to hold my books. And yes, we need a whole room just to hold MY books. But this “office” has no door, so I don’t like to write there.

Anyway, I sat down to write on my current WIP, a contemporary romance. I couldn’t seem to string two complete sentences together. Zip. Zero. Nada. Frustrated I took my glasses off, set them next to my laptop, and went to check on the clothes in the dryer. (Yes, I was multi-tasking – doing laundry and writing romance). When I came back to the bedroom, I couldn’t find my glasses. They weren’t next to the desk, not on the floor, not on the bed.

So began a search.

Did I leave them on dryer? On the kitchen table? On my head? (Oh, yeah I’ve done that before.) Maybe I sat them on the coffee table in the family room while on my way to the washer and dryer in the garage. Nope, not there. After about fifteen frustrating minutes, I finally found the glasses in the one room I KNOW I wasn’t in that day – the office/library.

My glasses were sitting on the very top shelf right next to a copy of Stephen King’s Bag of Bones. Shaking my head, I went back to my desk and started to write. Two hours later, I had written two chapters of a new ghost story.

I think I’m getting the message.

Clearing the Clutter

   I’m kind of a pack rat.  I don’t save string in a giant ball or a drawer full of rubber bands.  But, I do have a stack of Biography magazines that I’ve had for over five years and you all know the size of my TBR pile.  I also have more stuff in my house that I’m tired of dusting, so I’ve been in the process of getting rid of a lot of it.

   In a couple of weeks, I’m giving a weekend retreat for our local romance writer’s group on plotting and brainstorming.  Part of my research involved going through the boxes…literally, BOXES of articles on writing….looking for information.  When I first became a professional writer, I save every article, handout, flyer, etc. I could about writing.  Most of this stuff I would never use in a million years and part of it I don’t need anymore.  So as I go through these boxes, I’m tossing out a ton.

    This activity brought some thoughts to mind.   Have you ever thought that writers tend to have a lot of clutter that is probably interfering with their work.  I’m not talking about family, though if you treat your writing like a job, there are times when your family needs to know not to call you “at work”.  But, I’m thinking more of things like doubts, stubbornness, laziness, etc.

    Probably the biggest clutter most writers have is doubts…doubts about your talent, your skills, or even that you don’t deserve whatever success you earn.  Or maybe your writing is cluttered with mistakes, dead ends, wrong ideas about what you think the market wants.  If you are too stubborn to change when needed, you probably have a pile of garbage clogging up your story.

    Take some time to de-clutter your work.  Get rid of those doubts and accept that you deserve all your success.   You don’t have to take all the advice offered, but be open enough to at least listen to those you trust and accept what will work for you.    And my personal clutter that I need to clear?  I have a couple of stories I have completed that I STILL haven’t submitted.  What good does it do me to finish something if I don’t send it out? 

   So along with the junk in my house, I need to clear out my writing.  And I will…when I get time.  🙂

Giving Back or Being Used?

I’m hijacking the topic from yesterday’s Riding With The Top Down’s blog by Helen Brenna, which is reading someone’s work for free.

What do you do when approached to give your opinion on an aspiring writer’s work? I’m not talking about contest judging as the entrants have PAID for your critiques.  While I’m nobody in the publishing world, I still feel an obligation to give back what has been so graciously been given to me. (Major thanks to Marilyn, Susan, Linda and Deb!)

But. . . the few times I’ve accepted this burden, spending hours with detailed critiques, I’ve either alienated them or hurt their feelings that I’ve never been asked to help again. I wasn’t cruel or called their ‘baby’ ugly, but I didn’t hand out the praise they thought their work deserved. If the NYT BS author said it was ready for publication, why did you ask me to read it?

Now after reading RWTTD blog, I’m having second and third thoughts about accepting unsolicited work. I don’t really have the time, and in today’s technological world, there are other options for aspiring writers.

What is your take on this?

Interview with Debra Dixon

Debra Dixon is a busy woman— novelist, CEO, national speaker, publisher, business consultant, software developer, wife, mother and awesome friend. Thank you for dropping by Writing Sluts today.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Short answer:  Yes.

Long answer:  I wrote a sequel to GONE WITH THE WIND when I was 10.  Obviously, to any lover of romance fiction, the ending sucked.  My sequel was better than the real sequel.  <g>  Then I wrote a sequel to BIG RED.  And I finally ventured into completely “fresh” territory when I wrote a gothic romance while I was in college.

When did you decide to write GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT?

About the same time I decide to write everything–  When people with sticks begin to beat me.  I was actually talked into writing GMC.  I didn’t think anyone would buy it.

What movies to you recommend to help demonstrate GMC?

If you went to see a movie more than once at the theater, put it on your list.  Usually people have no trouble with strong GMC’s in the suspense and adventure genres.  I get requests most often to explain more about GMC in the quiet stories.




DEAR FRANKIE  (Gerard Butler, English film and not a tidy resolution but clear GMC)

The list could go on for days, but I’m assuming you guys have a large following of romance writers or writers who include relationships so those movies are good.

 Do you have any advice for writers waiting for ‘the call?’

Write.  Buy “GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict” (

Oh, you mean “meaningful” advice?  Fine.  Whatever.

My best advice is for writers to remember that writing success doesn’t define them.  The act of WRITING defines them.  A world of people want to write, but very few have the ability to conceive a full story and commit a beginning, middle, and end to paper. 

Too often we dismiss the incredibly difficult act of writing.  Writers don’t control what is published.  Publishers do.  But writers control the power of their words.  Don’t ignore the writing.  Keep writing.

 Chill.  (while still writing)  Don’t let ants-in-your-pants force you to the wrong publishing option for *you.*  Don’t let the expectations of others (You mean you haven’t sold yet?) rob you of the joy of creating fiction.   Writers have so many more options in 2009 than they did 10 years ago.  Everything from publishers with national laydowns to self-publishing a book.  But don’t make the wrong publishing decision for *you* just because you’re tired of Great Aunt Hildy asking you why you aren’t published.  Sure, Great Aunt Hildy might not know the difference between self-publishing and a national laydown.  But you will.  (assuming that your particular goals and needs are best served by a publisher with the infrastructure that makes a national laydown possible.)

The world doesn’t end if the call morphs into a letter beginning with “While we appreciate your taking the time to submit your work, . . .”  There are other publishers and other publishing models.  Spend some time while you’re waiting for the call to plan your next move.  What’s the “next best thing” for you and your book?  And then get the book right back out there.

 As an editor and co-owner of Belle Books,  how important is the query letter?

Important.  Don’t screw it up with puffery for the book or about me/us.  Don’t forget to attach the submission materials.  Use the spell checker in your email program.  Include your website or blog as part of your signature.  If you don’t have those things, are you living in a cave?

 Make sure your book blurb isn’t generic.  Capture my imagination.  If your book is a common plot, then you’d better make sure your blurb drips with your voice while still being a “professional summary.”

 What grabs your attention in a submission?

Voice.  Wait, let me think.  Voice.  Wait, let me say that again. . .voice.  Sure, clever concepts are great.  That makes me zoom to the material, hoping against hope that there is a *voice* on the page.  I want world texture, vivid characterization, a great concept, an involving plot and I want all of that supported by a voice that wraps around my imagination and drags me down into the story.

What is the biggest turn off?

Hubris.  Coyness.  “Will Anathea survive the evil wizard Sorkar’s plot?  You’ll have to ask for my book to find out.”  Uh. . .no.  It’s commercial fiction.  I pretty much know Anathea survives.

Melodramatic characters.  I see this constantly.

 Do you ever read for ‘fun?’

Not nearly as much as I would like, but I do read for fun.  You have to.  I had favorite authors and loved to read long before I became a writer and then a publisher.  However, I always feel so guilty about my to-be-evaluated piles.  I’ve worn a lot of hats the last 18 months as we’ve gotten the new imprint established so I’m hoping that 2010 will be less hectic.

What do you do to relax?

Besides reading, I’m a movie junkie and I quilt.  Seriously enough to have added a quilt studio to the house during a remodeling project.  1st Place Quilt by Debra

  1st Place Quilt by Debra

And my son and I share an iTunes account.  Mostly so he can call me up and tell me about the movie sales so I’ll go buy some and he gets them free.  Smart boy, that boy.

 What is on your iPod?

I just downloaded (*bought*)  K.D.Lang’s Hallelujah this morning.  The music I listen to most often is on my computer.  As for my iPod. . .um. . .this is sooo embarrassing.  My son loaded it.  So I don’t actually know everything that’s on it.  He got tired of it sitting there because I never found time to load it.  So, one day he walks in and hands it to me.  “Here.  You’re done.”  Lots of country.  (What was Kanya thinking??  Poor Taylor.) 

 Do you have any favorite TV shows?

House, Supernatural, Bones, Grey’s Anatomy, So You Think You Can Dance (hey, don’t judge me)  I’m expecting to love the new series The Forgotten with Christian Slater.  And over the summer I plowed through NCIS, all the seasons, on NetFlix.

 What is coming up next at Belle Books?

Gosh, what a great opportunity to plug our new newsletter, THE BELLE RINGER .  Here you can view it online or you can click the “Join Our List” button at the bottom of the page.

ks, spring and fall are our big lists.  We’ve got a ton of new books out and coming up are two I’m very excited about.

 SOUL CATCHER by Leigh Bridger (urban fantasy) SoulCatcher200

Amazon Link:  




PRIMITIVE by Edgar and Emmy winning author Mark Nykanen  (suspense)Primitive200

Amazon Link:   






Thank you, Debra, for sharing your time and sage wisdom with our readers.


What Are You Reading?

Hey, it’s Marilyn, and yes, I’m late getting my post up. Again. And yes, I’m taking the short and easy way out, because right now, on my other computer, my hero is in the middle of opening up to the heroine — a major turning point — and I want to get back there before he clams up again.

So what’s everyone reading? Give me titles and authors; I’m always looking for something new to dig into. As for me, I just finished An Inconvenient Corpse by Jackie King — a mystery about a woman who finds a naked dead man in her bed. There are some great secondary characters, and the subtle beginnings of a romance between Grace and the homicide detective who catches the case. It’s a real pleasure of a book.

Next I’m starting Over Hexed by Vicki Lewis Thompson. The idea of a dragon with ADD just really appeals to me — and so does the hunky guy on the cover. Wow! I love funny and witches and dragons, so I’m fully expecting to love the book.

So spill now. What are you reading?