DOES FRIDAY THE 13th SCARE YOU?

Are you superstitious? Do you believe unusual ‘things’ will happen to you on Friday the 13th? Personally, I do. Only I don’t think bad things will happen. Nope, for me it’s just the opposite.

You see, I’ve chosen the 13th to announce that I’ve signed another contract with The Wild Rose Press. Woot! If anything will bring me luck and fantastic book sales, this will. Although, just for good measure, perhaps I should also go drive by a cemetery and see if a black cat will come out of it and run across my path. That has happened to me and I had very good luck afterwards. (Y’all did know that I’m kinda ‘weird,’ didn’t you? 🙂 )

The name of the story is LAST HOPE ALASKA and is set in Juneau. I absolutely love Alaska and I love this story! I hope I’ve done justice to the Juneau area and have depicted the region accurately. If not, I’m sure everyone that lives there will let me know. 😉

Emily Redfern is a cute but quiet librarian from Tulsa who opened her heart to the wrong man. Now she’s on the run and has to dig deep to find survival skills she hadn’t known she possessed. Broke and exhausted, she lands in Juneau – her last hope for a refuge.

When Sam Tarkington was wrongfully imprisoned, it cost him everything to prove his innocence and be exonerated. All he wants is to regain his reputation, his business, and basically his life as he’d once known it. But when he befriends a woman with a southern accent, all of his intentions get sidetracked in a major way.

Danger lurks in the wilderness. Will the challenges facing them bring them closer? Or prove to be their final demise?

Stay tuned for more details and I’ll provide them as they come available.

(Now I’m going to go dance in the street and celebrate. BIG TIME!)

Writers’ Academy 2013

Last month I attended the WTAMU Writers Academy and it was AWESOME! Yes, that’s an overused word, yes, it’s a cliché. But folks, there isn’t any other way of saying how great it was for me.

I have to admit, I didn’t do very well last year. My fault. My head wasn’t in it. This year? Whole different story! I took Alexandra Sokoloff’s class again.

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Only this time I was excited about my story idea going in. I didn’t have a lot of the plot, and of course, several things changed before we were done plotting. But that’s why I coughed up good money to go…to find out what worked and what didn’t. I have to tell you, I am SUPER excited about this story! Now all I have to do is get it written.

By the time we were through going through my story on Wednesday and Thursday I didn’t even want to stay for the rest of the class…I wanted to go WRITE! But I didn’t. The whole point of the class was to not only get input from the instructor, but from other class members…a give and take, if you will.

For those of you who know me, you know I’m not much of a plotter. So to be able to walk away after (basically) four days with a complete plot line is practically unthinkable. I did it, though. So did every other person in the class. Alex paid us the biggest compliment when she said every single story was viable and marketable. Woot!!

 

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Here we all are the last day. Alex is next to me with blond hair. Notice there’s only one guy in our class. Bless his heart, he didn’t turn beat red when we talked about hot flashes, etc. {snort}

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This is a wonderful (and forever) friend, Jolene Navarro and her daughter, Storm. Jolene’s 1st book will be out this October through Harlequin Love Inspired. I KNOW it’s great! Storm writes paranormal and has a bit of a different twist on angels and demons. Can’t wait to read the finished product.

I’ve already dived into the writing full speed and making great progress. We’ll see just how fast I can write a complete manuscript. Keep your fingers crossed while I try to type mine off. 🙂

Creative Wells

Man does not live by bread alone.

No, we need more. In fact, we creative types have to keep those creative juices flowing. One way or the other. Right now, for me, it’s attending a workshop founded by NY Times & USA Today Best Selling Author Jodi Thomas and Random House Publishing’s Upcoming Star Tim Lewis at West Texas A&M University’s Writers’ Academy in Canyon, TX all this week.

I’m taking the Screenwriting Structure for Novelists class taught by Best Selling Author and Bram Stoker Award Nominee Alexandra Sokoloff. I’m starting a brand new project and I have to tell you, I feel really good about this story! It’s sort of a sequel to Shattered Promises, my story in the anthology Romance – The Spice of Life. The new story is titled Deadly Promises. Does that give you a tiny inkling of what you’ll get when you read the book? I hope so. 🙂

This takes place during the same timeframe as Shattered Promises, only with different characters (naturally). There’s the plane crash and a lot of flawed characters, including: a new sheriff in town, a struggling widow and a stalker. I’m also going to address some social issues.

Like I said, I’m super excited about this. We’ll see what comes out of the class and if they can help me fill in a BUNCH of holes in the plot. I have faith that Alex will be able to see what I’m completely overlooking. Or even go a direction I never would’ve thought of going.

I can’t wait to reconnect with old friends as well as make new ones. Spending a week immersed in writing with other writers is so uplifting and inspiring, it’s unbelievable. I’ll come home completely wiped out and drained, but it’ll all be good. Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t crash and burn during this class because she definitely puts you through your paces. Regardless, I’ll have all the plot points worked out by the time I leave on Friday. Yay!

Btw, wish you were here as they have other wonderful instructors, such as: Margie Lawson, Jennifer Archer, Dian Curtis Regan, Mike Bellah along with tonight’s banquet speaker, Linda Castillo. Now how could you go wrong with a line-up like that? 🙂 ♥

Disaster in Oklahoma

It’s springtime, therefore that means bad weather. Oklahoma has more than had its fair share over the last couple of days. If you haven’t heard the news about the tornado’s that hit us, turn on the news. Even national media have sent crews to Moore to cover the devastating damage.

It looks like a war zone out there.

I won’t post pictures. I’ve seen enough. Buildings and homes reduced to rubble. Vehicles tossed around like matchsticks. People and animals buried alive under the debris. Last night over a hundred people were pulled from what was left of their homes. Thankfully they were alive! I know a lot of prayers were answered.

However, others weren’t as lucky. So far, as of this writing, the confirmed death toll is 24. I pray this doesn’t change. But I don’t know if everyone has been accounted for or if there are people out there whom they haven’t found yet. Trapped. If so, I pray for their recovery.

There was another tornado on Sunday that struck the town of Shawnee. Lives were lost there, too. Homes and businesses destroyed. People’s everyday and ordinary worlds changed in a matter of minutes. Just like it did for those living in the Moore and Oklahoma City areas.

I don’t live anywhere close to the areas affected by Sunday and Monday’s tornados. Nor will I be traveling there. I have no skills that would help in the recovery efforts and I’d just be in the way. My heart is there, though. I’m praying for all the people affected, for those who are doing the search and rescue, and for those who are working hard to restore some of the services we each take for granted. i.e. electricity, water, phone, etc.

We can each still help by donating to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and a multitude of agencies (including animal rescue) that will be there to help with immediate needs. I’m not going to list them here but you need to check out the validity of them. Unfortunately, there are people who jump at the opportunity to scam others out of their money during times like these and take advantage of those who can least afford it.

PLEASE keep all the people who have been directly impacted by the storms in your thoughts and prayers. Oklahoma appreciates you.

Writing Conferences – The Ups and Downs

I’ve been extremely quiet lately. There’s a reason. I attended the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc’s (OWFI) conference May 3-5 in Norman, OK. Wow. What a rush! Not only did I meet with my first line editor, but also the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Wild Rose Press. I hung out with them on Friday night after the Famous Author’s Banquet during a Buzz Session.

Oh! Speaking of the banquet, I hit the ‘big screen’ by announcing the publication of my books last year, GRAVE SECRETS and ROMANCE-THE SPICE OF LIFE. DSCN0670_706

DSCN0673_709I wasn’t alone, by all means! Lots of OWFI members had books released last year. Our pictures were displayed along with the book cover and a short blurb about the story. Each author stood when their name was called by Alaska Yup’ik Storyteller Jack Dalton. Then we waved (enthusiastically, I might add) as the audience cheered us on. DSCN0674_710My good friend, Kathlyn Smith, did her best to get a good picture of me. Wasn’t meant to be, though. *s*

I also got to hang out with friends from the West Texas A&M Writers Academy as well as others from Amarillo, including: Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyllis Miranda. Jodi was one of the speakers, and let me tell you, she told us in no uncertain terms what it takes to make it. Yet, here I sit. Writing a blog and not writing on my story. The good news is I came up with another storyline while there. Woot!

So all in all, I got my money’s worth out of this conference. Will I go back in the years to come? You betcha’! This year there were four other members of Smart Women Who… attending the conference. 931229_10151632008947456_1977057717_n[1] T.D. Hart, Jackie King, Kathlyn Smith, myself, and Susan Shay. I think everyone had a fantastic time.

What about you? Do you go to conferences? If not, why in the world not?! Even though you may come home exhausted—I know I did—it’s a great opportunity to connect with other writers, pitch your story to an editor or agent, reconnect with old friends and make a ton of new ones. How can you lose?

You can’t.

BOOK SIGNING!

Yikes! I almost forgot to make a big announcement! (Man, am I slipping.)

This Saturday, April 6th, I’ll be participating in the Ladies Lifestyle Extravaganza at the Claremore, OK Expo Center. You can find me at the Boarding House Books booth. It’s my understanding that their booth was so popular last year that they’ve doubled the size this year. More than a dozen authors from Oklahoma and surrounding states will be participating in the signing and I’ll be there from 9 to 5. (Hint, hint. Come see me and say Hi! I’ll have copies of Grave Secrets and Romance – The Spice of Life available for sale.)

Of course, that one booth isn’t all there is to see. If you’d like to meet the reigning Mrs. Oklahoma, Julie Pittman, you’ll have your chance as she’ll be modeling clothes from local retailers. Escorting Mrs. Pittman and the other models will be some of Claremore’s finest firefighters. Hmm I wonder if they’ll have calendars for sale? A romance author can always use a bit of (ahem) inspiration. Right? 😉

Other items of interest at the extravaganza:

Seminars will be conducted throughout the day on topics of interest to women (anywhere from health to finances), dance demos will be presented by Claremore Dance Studios, the fashion show, and various exhibitors with products ranging from health & beauty, jewelry, purses, clothing & accessories, home décor and much more.

Oh, yes. I almost forgot. There’ll be door prizes, including Ladies Lifestyle cash, a Coach Purse as well as other door prizes. (I could sure use that purse. I wonder if I could sneak it out? No, I didn’t think so. *sigh*)

There are all kind of fun things to see and I encourage you to drop by. I’m willing to bet you’ll leave feeling better than you did when you walked in the door.

In case you’ve never been there, the Expo Center is located behind the Indian Hospital, off West Will Rogers Blvd. See you there!

Humor vs Suspense

I got my hair cut the other day and, as usual, was talking to my hair dresser about my books and writing in general. She asked if I’d ever written anything that was funny.

What? Me funny?

I don’t think of myself as funny. In fact, I think of myself as rather stilted and flat. But come to think of it, I do like to make people laugh and feel good about themselves. And when I worked at the day job, I’d send instant messages and emails with snarky tones in them to my friends.

The problem is, when I sit down to write blogs, I automatically turn into business mode. You know what I’m talking about…dry, rather boring. So, if I do decide to try and write funny, do you have any suggestions for me? Any helpful hints to turn off that ‘boring the peewaddings out of the readers’ mode that I seem to slip into so very, very well?

Although, I have used that aspect of myself to draw on the suspenseful and mysterious side that continues to lurk within me. That little critter can’t be muzzled (apparently) because no matter what I try to write, a bad guy always shows up. Maybe I could write about a bad guy who’s also a comic and uses his constant joking to throw the police off the track. Definitely something to consider. Probably been done to death a thousand times, though. *sigh*

I suppose I need to simply relax and let the ‘inner’ me out to play. Hmm. Play. Maybe that’s the problem…I think of this as work. Granted its work I enjoy, but work all the same. Now if I could just get that ‘goof off’ meter working, and still crank out the words, I’d be fine. What do you think? 😉

Writing Your History

How much of ‘you’ do you incorporate into your stories? Is there a familiar setting from your past that you find showing up out of the blue in your writing? For me, I like houses with rock siding.

Why? Because the home I grew up in had rock siding so I’m drawn to them. Love the look. But there’s a downside. Scorpions. Nasty little critters that lived in the cool crevices, coming out to torment us when least expected. It’s amazing how fast you wake up when one of those suckers stings you, too. Ugh.

But I digress. I wanted to talk about writing.

In my first book, Grave Secrets, I have a scene where the hero and heroine visit an elderly couple on their farm, giving the heroine a glimpse into his past. A critique partner told me she didn’t think it added anything to the story and to consider cutting it. I listened, nodded my head, and seriously thought about following her advice. For some reason, though, I couldn’t leave the scene out. I didn’t know why, just that my gut told me to leave it.

So I did.

As it turned out, that scene played a major part in the ending of the book. Something I hadn’t seen coming. (Y’all do know that I’m not much of a plotter, don’t you?) LOL

The elderly couple were actually my great aunt and uncle. I changed a few things about them, except their deep and abiding love for each other…and the fact that he had Alzheimer’s. Sadly, they’re both gone now. I miss the lessons they taught by their actions as well as their words of wisdom.

I guess sometimes we just have to follow our gut instincts and drop those jewels from our childhood into our stories. If you do, I’m sure the story will have a much richer flavor. I know mine did.

Tell me, have you used something, or someone, significant from your past in your writing? If so, how do you feel it impacted your story?

 

Weird Writers?

Who says writers are weird?

I’ve heard this before, and I guess it’s true to an extent. After all, who else have complete ‘other’ worlds living in their heads? We have imaginary friends who we talk to, laugh and cry with and are closer to than our own families. Our stories complete us.

But we aren’t all that weird. Not really.

Yesterday, my dentist’s assistant told me that after reading my book, she would’ve never thought I could come up with something like that. She looked at me as if trying to see inside me and where that ‘dark place’ is and who the real Linda Trout is. (evil laugh)

She compared me and another of their patients who writes paranormal (and is highly published) to some of their ‘normal’ patients. One lady who they thought was nice and calm, suddenly and during the procedure, came unglued. I had a feeling they had a hard time getting her to settle down so they could finish their work.

Whereas, on the outside, their two patients who write appear very calm and quiet. (Does she mean nice?) I suppose that’s why she’s so surprised at the stories we produce and wonders where the ideas come from. Especially the paranormal writer who creates these other wordly worlds.

I think this just goes to show how little we know about those around us. A very reserved businessperson, a gentle pre-school teacher, clergy; you name the profession and I’ll show you a writer who can knock your socks off with their stories.

I suppose the unsuspecting public should beware. There’s a writer lurking on every street corner, just waiting for the inspiration for their next book. It could be you, you know.

The next time someone calls you weird, simply smile and let them wonder. We all know WE’RE the sane ones. Right? 😉

 

Mardi Gras 2013 and Birthdays

It’s Mardi Gras and time to PAR-TY!!

Do you have your beads ready to throw? Or catch as the case may be. I have a slew of them that I’ve collected over the years plus a couple of nice masks. (Psst. I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours. LOL)

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For years I worked in the oil & gas industry. Every year we knew we wouldn’t be getting any info out of the people from Louisiana because everyone was out celebrating. Don’t blame them. If I lived down there, I’m be doing the same thing. 😉

So tell me, do you have any big plans for Mardi Gras? Parties to attend at either work or afterward? Or are you a big fuddy-duddy-sitting this one out?

Also, today would’ve been the 126th birthday of my favorite great-uncle, Clarence Harris. He was a hum-dinger.In his later years, he’d go down to the senior citizens center every day for lunch with ‘those old people.’ Even though he was the oldest one there, he’d liven the place up the minute he walked in the room with his laughter and smiling face. That’s one of the things I liked the most about him…his laughter.

He lived to celebrate his 100th birthday before he decided it was time to go home and be with his beloved wife, Bea. They were sure a couple of characters. Every Sunday afternoon for as long as I could remember, they’d make the rounds of their favorite nieces and nephews homes. If I didn’t have sweets fixed, Aunt Bea would tell me what she wanted. Let me tell you, I’d hustle myself into the kitchen and get it made asap! I didn’t mind. My mamma taught me to respect my elders and I did.

Besides, they had such wonderful stories to tell of coming to Indian Territory in a covered wagon from Arkansas and their lasting marriage. Funny thing is, her family said it would never last, yet they had 72 years together before she passed away. Now that’s true love!

Do you have favorite relatives who you’ll always cherish? I certainly hope so. Aren’t they a blessing?

So enjoy your Mardi Gras celebrations and Happy Birthday Uncle Clarence!