Friday, March 23, 2012

The Lucky 7 Meme is fun!

My dear friend, fellow blogger and Canadian, Carol J. Garvin of Careann's Musings has tagged me with the Lucky 7 Meme. (Merci beaucoup, Carol) The challenge is to go to page 77 of my current WIP, count down 7 lines, then copy the next 7 lines and insert them here on my blog.

My first reaction was that I wasn't sure if I had 77 pages done. Then I wondered, does that mean double-spaced or single? I converted to single and was left with 69 pages. In the end I let my ego rule the day and chose an older WIP because, frankly, the 7 lines in the double-spaced version of One Wrong were boring.

I had no idea how tough this would be.

Here is the Lucky 7 Meme protocol:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
2. Go to line seven
3. Copy down the next seven lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they’re written.
4. Tag seven authors
5. Let them know

Here are my 7 lines from page 77 of Kiss of the Assassin:

"Can you even speak the truth?"
"It's unlikely you'd recognize it. If you're trying to trick me, Comrade Minister Strasnov, I don't care anymore. I came today because I hoped you could provide a pleasant diversion. But like all men you had to spoil it. Now tell me how could you destroy him? And why would you risk your career to do so?"
"I know his secrets. But I won't place you in danger by saying more. Except to add, know my word is good despite my teasing. One day I could give you your freedom."

Kiss of the Assassin is an old manuscript I've been working on off and on since the mid 90s. It's actually my favourite story to date, but it's about the Vietnam War, and all the agents and publishers I sent it to in the early 2000s said nobody is interested in that war any longer. I still love the story, but I've just been busy with my other works Dead Witness and Broken but not Dead. No, I don't plan on giving up and will begin querying again soon.

What's your story about, Joylene?

Funny you should ask. Kiss of the Assassin is an epic political thriller about a young Russian woman, who witnesses the murder/suicide of her parents on a collective farm when she is five, only to be raised by a power politician as his own personal assassin. As she matures, she begins searching for a way to escape his control.

I'm now supposed to tag 7 other writers. If you can't participate, don't worry, there's no pressure.

I hope you'll take the opportunity to check out these blogs above. They are some of the most talented and fascinating writers I know.

Now for something unrelated but just as profound. Today's post is number 499!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Heard Any Good Blonde Jokes Lately?

I joined my first online writer's group in 1994 and submitted Dead Witness for critique. Three writers read my manuscript and gave me great suggestions and comments. They also had some big criticisms.  The first one told me that she had to stop herself from hurling the book across the room. Lucky for me she was reading it from her computer. The second said I needed to toughen Valerie up so she was more proactive with her life. The third one wanted to know why Valerie had to be a typical beautiful blonde, and also why her kitchen was blue.

I was stumped over the last one too, but regardless, those three writers made a huge contribution to my career. Today, when I tell  non-writers about it, you can see the look in their eyes, the one that says Are you nuts? Why would you put yourself through that?

It's the same look we give those singers who march out in front of the Canadian and American Idol judges and sing their hearts out, then become incensed when they're rejected. In their minds, they hear a beautiful sound when they sing. It's the judges' job to tell them that's not the case.

Tone deaf singers can't learn to sing, but inept writers can learn to write vivid, compelling prose.

Here's a brief excerpt from Chapter Three of Dead Witness...

She pulled a blanket off the bed and curled up in a chair next to the window with the electric heater underneath. The policewoman, sent back with her, sat on the end of the bed, and watched a Jim Carrey movie. Her gruff moments of laughter added to Valerie's despair. During each commercial, she'd give Valerie a reassuring smile. 
Valerie wrapped the blanket tighter. 
The sun had long since set, and in its wake, a full moon rose in a cloudless sky. Valerie leaned her elbow on the windowsill and looked at the city lights, neon signs flashing promises of the most delicious steak and lobster dinners, the best computer sales, the friendliest car salesmen. Traffic streaked down I-5 and Madison, and a cruise ship left the harbour, lit up like a Christmas tree. She slumped back. 
An untouched plate of Vietnamese noodles and greens sat on the dresser next to the bed with the officer's empty plate beside it. Had either of the two victims liked Asian cuisine? Valerie tried to imagine them eating, but dead was the only way she saw them. Blood, exploding through the air while the man in the raincoat smiled. 
Her eyes blurred. She imagined the victims' families hysterical with shock, desperate to believe it was all a bad dream. Just as she had the night her parents had died. Only now there were visions to go along with their deaths, visions she'd never allowed herself to imagine before tonight. The sidewalk covered in blood. Her mum and dad falling to the ground. Did they think of her and Aidan and worry about leaving them? Did they suffer? Had there been some comfort in knowing they were dying together? 
Valerie wiped the tears from her face. Her sympathies went out to the wives, mothers, and family of the two dead men. She sent them silent condolences and told them she understood their grief. 
What she couldn't say was the repercussions of today would diminish every happy moment of their lives from here on, just as her parents' deaths had changed everything for her. Not just the births of Megan, Christine, and Brandi, but also every celebration, birthday, and holiday since. And she sensed it had been the same for Aidan. 
Their parents had died twenty-three years ago. And yet it felt like yesterday. 
* * * * 
May the first, nineteen seventy-three: Valerie, fourteen, had snapped at her mother, and was ordered to her room. Before leaving for their dinner reservation, her father appeared at the door for his usual goodnight kiss, and she'd pretended she was sleeping. Still, his kiss alighted upon her cheek, while her mother whispered at the door, “How can she seem so content in sleep, yet so miserable when awake?” 
“Honey, she's a teenager. They're supposed to be miserable.” 
She should have said goodnight. She should have apologized to both of them for being such a snot. I'll do it in the morning had been her last conscious thought. 
The next morning, she didn't get the chance. At two a.m., five Mounties, three of whom Valerie knew because they were friends of her dad's, and some lady from Victim's Services appeared at her front door. One of them said, “Let’s go inside.” 
“We'll talk inside.” 
The door opened wide. They filed into the front foyer. And somebody said her parents were dead. 
She laughed.  
* * * *

Write like there's no tomorrow. Read novels in your genre. Study your favourites. Believe in your gift. Know that you're doing what you were meant to do. And never ever give up.

--happy editing,

For 3 years I've been trying to figure out how I can send each of my followers a thank you note. I'm still trying. Until then, please know that I appreciate each and everyone of you very much. Thank you!

Monday, March 5, 2012

ASK PZM - Mar 2012 Blogging & Pinterest

Q: Is blogging no longer worthwhile?

For a writer I believe blogging continues to be very important. Remember, we authors are NOT targeting the world. We are targeting people likely to be interested in what we write. And the operative word is WRITE.

Therefore, to continue to demonstrate to our target readers the value of what we write, we need to write.

What is equally important is to share the links to our blog posts on social media sites. This is especially true for sites such as Twitter, which many people use as their own personal news feeds to find information of interest.

We want to get in front of our prospective readers with good blog post headlines that attract these prospective readers. Even if these prospective readers only read parts of our blog posts, these prospective readers are being politely reminded that we are out there writing.

Cautionary tip: Whenever we write a blog post or a comment or a tweet, we should try to make it of value and not simply promotional. The objective of using social media to connect with potential readers is to create relationships that may lead these potential readers to become actual readers of our writing.

Q: Can Pinterest help people become aware of my books? is a relatively new site that is rapidly gaining popularity. In some ways the site is different than other social media sites because it seems to me that on Pinterest promotional activity is expected and accepted.

Basically, a “pin” is one photo with a brief description and a link (or two). A “board” consists of one or more pins on a specific topic.

For example, let’s look at my Pinterest account at

I have created one board that I labeled “My Books & Ebooks.” (See ) If you click on any one of the individual pins (photos) you will get the ability to add a comment. (Please do.)

Even if you do not click on a photo to open it, you still can click on the two hot links in the pin. One hot link appears automatically because I “pinned” the cover of the book or the YouTube page for the video from a specific URL, which is where this automatic link goes. The other link, which is in the description of the photo, I added when I wrote the description.

Note that these two links could be to the same location or each to a different location. In fact, I have just learned you can make these links into affiliate links for recommending other people’s books or products.

Cautionary note: Although I am NOT a lawyer, I do think that an affiliate link needs to be somehow labeled as such.

There is a category on Pinterest called “Film, Music & Books” that I used for the board I created for my books and ebooks.

(There is not a large selection of categories at the moment, so I could not find an ideal category for some of my other boards. I have been using “Education” rather than choosing “Other.” As this is not a very satisfactory solution I hope more categories are eventually added.)

FYI – If you use a photo with each of your blog posts (and you should for various reasons), then you can “pin” each blog post photo onto a board (see, for example, my board labeled “My Guest Blog Posts”) and legitimately promote your blog posts this way.

And here is a Pinterest tip I learned from an ebook group on LinkedIn:

You can create pins out of any photos related to the theme of your book in order to get your book in front of people. (The pins scroll down on the category pages as new pins are added.)

Now we do have to be careful of copyright. Let’s imagine, though, that I somehow found a photo of high school students taking the SAT exam and I could legally “pin” the photo without giving credit to the site where I found the photo or to the photographer.

I could then edit the automatic link in the pin of that photo to send people to the information page of my ebook HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL AND PREP FOR COLLEGE. I could also put in the description of the pin how this ebook covers the subject of SAT exams.

As writers we tend to be imaginative, so Pinterest may be a great place for all of us to use our imagination to promote our books with photos.

Bonus tip: Do any of you also write screenplays?

I accidentally fell down the hole into Amazon Studios, which I think is an amazing opportunity for screenwriters without contacts in Hollywood.

I read the development agreement and was pleasantly surprised how Amazon solved some of the tangled issues that often ensue with screenplays developed by Hollywood.

Caution: You should read the agreement yourself – I am NOT a lawyer and I am NOT advising you to upload your screenplay. I am only suggesting you consider carefully looking into this opportunity.
Check out my page at to see my screenplay DR. SOAPY. You can download it for free. And if you read it and like it, you can share the page link on Twitter and Facebook or email it to friends.

Ebooks revisited:

I am trying out the ebook conversion option for the first of my 3-part ebook series HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL, COLLEGE AND BEYOND (see )

BookBaby claims:
Get eBook distribution to the biggest retailers in the world, including Apple's iBookstore, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo, and more. BookBaby authors enjoy the convenience of having their eBooks delivered to all the leading eBook retail websites.
I am interested in seeing how this distribution works, and I hope to be able to report on this in a future Ask PZM guest post.

P.S.  This just in -- new site for authors and artists to sell their works.  Read about it at

Here is more from Phyllis on her December post concerning Amazon reviews. "The Elephant in the Room: #Amazon" at @The_IndieTimes

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter and Pinterest) is the co-founder of the online marketing company, which is WBENC certified and also builds WordPress websites for clients. More information on her books and ebooks can be found at

© 2012 Miller Mosaic, LLC

Visit Phyllis’ Google Plus profile.
Check out Phyllis’ books and other projects at

Friday, March 2, 2012

Lord of the Dance & Calamity's Corner

Last night I took a night off from the latest nasty bug, (lots of water and ibuprofen) and attended Lord of the Dance at the CN Center in Prince George with my posse Patty, Carmelita, and Miss Betty. And no, I didn't spread any germs. I coughed in my elbow and stuffed my nostrils with kleenex, which may be why people kept gawking at me. But never mind that. If you haven't seen the dance live, here's just a glimpse of a fabulous evening:


I'm also the featured Author of the Month in Calamity's Corner ezine. If you'd like to read my article "Keeping the Faith", email Calamity at calam at live dot com and put "subscribe Calamity's Corner" in the subject bar. I put my heart and soul into that article and I'm proud of the results. Are you allowed to say that?

March 5th ASK PZM, Phyllis Zimbler Miller will be answering questions about Pinterest. If you don't know what Pinterest is, (my new addiction), it's a virtual pin board that allows you to share all the beautiful and fascinating things you find online. I love it. Where else can you drool over the house in "Something's Gotta Give"? 

Or pin a sweet photograph of a puppy and kitten caught sleeping together?

Anyway, I better get back to drinking gallons of water. 
--stay bug-free