A Writing Style for Every Reader and a Reader for Every Style

Guess I’m finally going to have my rant session. Met with a couple of writer friends last week to bounce ideas around, and one of the women was extremely quiet. Highly out of character. Her exuberance that typically sent us home recharged and excited over our current projects was missing. I knew something was wrong. When I finally got her to open up she burst into tears.

She spilled her problem like she was spilling her soul. It left me wanting to beat the bloody hell out of someone.

Seems she’d been cornered and totally, viciously denigrated for her subject matter. Was told it was trash. That writing romance novels was not a noble endeavor and in no way constituted a literary contribution. That she dared to put (*hand to forehead*) s-e-x in them made it worse and constituted the ultimate sin.

Does her attacker write? No. She probably has no idea the work involved in rendering an interesting, compelling and cohesive story. Yet she had absolutely no qualms about robbing her victim of her budding confidence. I caught myself plotting to invite the old biddy to our next writing exercise. And yes, I say that wearing my shark-tooth grin. But I’m glad I stopped to think before reacting or commenting. You know why? Because coercing her to try to write with the intention of putting her in her place made me no better than her.

I’ve read this girl’s outline as well as her first few chapters. It’s a story based around the Spanish settlements in early New Orleans history and is incredibly well researched. I admit to feeling a little weepy when she told me she’d been inspired by a short story I have out in an anthology, because until she read it, she didn’t know you could take liberties with history and build imaginary characters around an actual event. People, this girl made history come alive. You learned historical facts painlessly because she brought them to memorable life.

Someone even attempting to crush that type of talent pissed me off. Being allergic to jail, I did the next best thing. I laughed it off. Difficult with your jaw clenched. Then I sat her in front of the computer and showed her the different book purchasing sites and how to find each categorical rating. From Inspirational to Erotica to Mystery to Contemporary Romance to Horror to Paranormal to Historical Romance to Futuristic to Fantasy to Young Adult and even Non-fiction, and every sub-genre in between. Showed her each had top-sellers and how to find their authors websites. I took her to websites of two authors in vastly polar categories who shared their earnings, and she was stunned to find both earned well. I think I handled it pretty well.

But I’d still rather punch someone.

This young lady nearly threw away her dream of writing because of one judgmental individual. So if you write, or if you ever plan to try, put your steel-toed boots on. Someone is sure to try to step on your toes. It goes further than this girl’s plight, too. It infuriates me when I hear authors of one genre belittle or dismiss authors in another, or one category of reader denigrate readers of another genre. Diversity is what keeps us all afloat.

Yes, I’m a little sensitive. I was slammed once for writing Paranormal stories by a writer of Inspirational stories. Him being an all-knowing male and myself a female (read ‘of no consequence, as men are in charge of everything’. He remarked women were God’s afterthought. I lean more toward the Creator knew you can improve-on-every-prototype camp.) didn’t make our road together less rocky. He piously told me all writing should be educational and uplifting; like the Bible.

Man, did he step in that one. Having a Baptist preacher for a father sure helped me out with him. Ever see a man suffering a combination of shock he was agreed with, yet puffed-up with false self-righteousness because he thought he’d managed to slap someone down? It turns your stomach to see a person so pleased over hurting another. The dead giveaway he was in trouble should have been how cheerful I was when I told him I often went to the Bible for inspiration with story lines. 

Story from the Bible that would make a killer Historical or Contemporary: King David and his lustful red-headed self sending a soldier off on a suicide mission so he could get his hands (and other body parts)  on the guy’s wife. That turned into a wild tale when hubby came strolling home from the battlefield.

Shame on Rebekah for favoring her younger son to the point she worked a devious plan to fool her own husband, and rob her older son of his birthright. But if you thought on it, I said after a bit, Esau did earlier trade the promise of his birthright for a bowl of Jacob’s stew. Esau obviously didn’t really respect his father’s heritage, so maybe he didn’t deserve to inherit it after all. I pretended to think a bit more, and said shame on Esau’s brother Jacob, too, for taking advantage of a blind man, and using a pelt in place of a hairy arm and neck to rob Esau of his birthright by lie and subterfuge.

OH! And what about those two really kinky daughters who got their dad drunk and got pregnant by him so their bloodline wouldn’t die out?  Or the only reference to masturbation I could find being it’s better to spill your seed in the belly of a whore than to spill it on the ground.

He was stumbling backwards by the time I finished. Hmm. Maybe I should be ashamed for losing my temper. I’m convinced those stories are the Creator’s way of saying He’s seen it all, and there’s nothing we can’t bring to Him. Or Her, depending on your religious preference. After all, the biggest lesson the Bible teaches us is not to be so hasty to judge someone else.  

So if you ever find yourself afflicted with a case of the better-than-thous, or tempted to indulge in a bit of snarkiness, substitute a little professionalism instead. Respect the craft even if you can’t agree with the subject matter. We writers work to create our best stories, no matter which genre we claim as our own.

Putting my steel-toed boots back on. The Good Book says to turn the cheek. Once. After that it doesn’t say anything, and I can give you Chapter and Verse of some rollicking good fights. I may be too much of a weenie to do much when it comes to defending myself, but I want to be ready to kick the crap out of the next person who deliberately works to destroy a new writer’s dream.

As far as my attacker? He was my inspiration to fight on–in my chosen genre. He’s nothing more to me now than an example to be used. Check out the sign at the top of the post. He sure doesn’t pay rent! lol Write it like you mean it, folks.

See you next week.

~Runere out!~

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com   Friend her on Facebook, she loves the company! Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Paranormal Investigation Teams: What Personalities Do You Find? Plus pics!

Most of you know I work with a paranormal investigation team. Not as often as I would like these last few months, but my heart was with them. Between knee replacement and Hubby’s ticker trying to un-tock, we’ve been doing the medical mambo.

I just agreed to take over as Case Manager for the book we’re putting together of haunted destinations in the South, while Helen, our original case manager, helps nurse her parents during recovery. So interviews for entries in the book will take front seat the next few weeks. (Hint-hint. If you know someone with a B&B, store, restaurant, bar, etc. with paranormal activity or history, we’d love to include them in the book! We’ve covered places in Memphis, Atlanta, Pensacola, Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs so far. Feel free to give them my email addy. It’s RunereMcLain@hughes.net)

One of the questions I’m asked quite often is what do you do on investigations, and what type of person joins a paranormal investigation team? After all, ghost hunting is not glamorous, as depicted on TV, and there aren’t responses or viable evidence during every investigation. It requires long, overnight hours of asking simple questions then sitting quiet with recorders and infrared cameras rolling, all in hopes of picking up a voice or visual anomaly. Other times you closely observe monitors, marking down times and possible events to be double checked when recordings and film are later reviewed. Sessions usually last about forty minutes, there’s a short break, and teams switch rooms or positions. We always work in teams, and always carry blessed medals. And enough pictures are taken that you’d think a herd of paparazzi had descended on the place. You can get a little flash drunk, blinded by the flare of multiple cameras in a confined space in the dark.

I love all of it; the travel, the site histories, the setting up, the investigation, tearing down and reviewing. But if I had to name a favorite part, it would have to be my fellow investigators. Not everyone can go on every investigation. So members have to blend easily with others, be willing to take the lead, or willing to step back and let another take the lead. Members have to be willing and able to travel on weekends, get hot and sweaty, get cold and wet, get sandy, muddy or dirty, sustain long hours and be able to keep quiet. Finding people with the ability to stay quiet is more of a challenge than most think. It’s only natural for people to want to converse, and during long investigations, boredom prompts the urge to exchange information.

I don’t want to bore anyone so I’ll just touch on a few of our members at the last get together to show the diversity. We had a government worker, a self-employed business woman, self-employed business man, a police officer, an EMT, a young male technical advisor and father, a single mom, a Native American specialist, a model, a skeptic, and a paranormal writer.

Back up, you said? Model? Yes. Real live working professional model. Tessie is one of those rarities who is beautiful inside as well as out. She showed up at our fundraiser in crisp shorts, feminine top, full make-up and four-inch cork-soled platform sandals. And I’ll give her this much, despite her band box appearance she’s no Barbie. She has no problem getting her hands dirty with any aspect of an investigation. Traffic may have problems keeping up a steady flow when she stands roadside displaying the Ed Hardy skin care products basket she brought to raffle off, but she takes the squealing brakes, honking horns and moon-eyed guys in stride, distributing her mega-watt smile without prejudice to age, appearance, type of vehicle or wolf whistle.

Susan is our Native American expert. There are six siblings in her family of Irish-Indian ancestry. They all favor, yet three have such fair complexions they could have stepped off the boat from Erin yesterday; the other three look like they just stepped off the Reservation. Susan has the reputation for physical encounters, some violent. If we’re working a case and hear thud, “Son of a bi–!”  you can lay money on it being Susan. She was picked up and tossed across a hall hard enough to put her head through the sheet rock at one house. Dolly is our founder, and she’s a ghost magnet. Jared, her son, is our resident skeptic and torments us all, but in a good way. Bobbie is our mom, and is one of the fastest to pick up on a change of atmosphere or a visual. We also had Scott, Jeff and Harold there, newbies learning the ropes. If I left anyone out, I plead old age.

How did I get into investigations? As a paranormal writer I asked to go out with the team to give a character realism, and was hooked immediately.

So who makes up a team? You. Me. Retired Aunt Martha. The college student off for the summer. A policeman. A fireman. The techno-geek and the Skoal-ringed country boy. In other words, anyone with a desire to explore the unknown.

On grounds of Civil War Hospital prior to asking for sign of a presence.

After asking for a sign; mists and orbs. (Orbs are simply energy, not ghosts.)

Mists coalescing into tighter form.

First picture when asking for a sign.

Second picture after huge spike on EMF meter. So, what do you think now?

Come take a walk on the wild side with us. We’re taking applications right now!

~Runere~

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com or on Facebook@RunereMcLain or follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

The Lure of Old Cemeteries

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If you know me, you would know, I’m a scary cat when it comes to watching horror movies. At the same time. I have this passion for paranormal, witches, voodoo, and old cemeteries. The old ones are my favorite, aged, and covered with moss, and some defaced from weather, and climate.

When I visit an old cemetery I love the old crypts, or graves. Love to see their names and wonder  what their life was like when they were alive. A defaced and broken crypt is ideal for a scene in any paranormal story which might include a vampire, goul, ghost, or whatever your fantasy might take a writer.

So with this in mind, here are some great pictures of some crypts located somewhere in the deep south. Let your mind wonder, and your imagination run wild, and free.

Writers: Do What You Need to Survive (and that’s write!)

Don’t know how many of you have self-imposed quotas, or minimum word counts for the day, week or month. Some well-established writers only pen five or six pages a day. I just wish my writing was that tight. I know if I don’t rough draft at least a chapter a day it feels as if everything else in my life is off-kilter. Normally I manage a bit more, typically two chapters or 5k words, or other writing in the form of outlines, queries, edits, synopses, etc; but the chapter minimum keeps me from twitching. Just remember: practice and repetition makes things easier, so write something every day.

Since I spend any time away from the laptop people watching, there’s never a shortage of possible material. Oh. And animals. That small spiral notebook I carry (Okay, Hubby does it since he has bigger pockets) is filled with fragmented jottings of plot, scene, situation, conversation, even interesting names. Written on my knee, the wall,or  Hubby’s back they may be difficult to transcribe and translate, but they’re there. Just a few pertinent situational words to help with recall. If one of the dogs gets hold of said notebook, the pertinent situational words turn the air blue while I employ Scotch tape to reconstruct it.

This week I’ve been collecting animal bits and pieces. Not of the animals themselves; just their activities and responses. I’m beginning to think brain damage may be a prerequisite to become my pet. Take the newest addition, Cochise, the pit bull rescue for example.  A sweeter, kinder dog doesn’t exist. But there’s not enough room on the bed for a sixty pound dog to pretend he’s a three-pound puppy. He’ll bounce and crouch and pounce and spin and flop, joyously stomping me to kingdom come (he thinks he has the grace and delicacy of a Toy Poodle), then try to run in circles. Invariably he runs right off the bed. I drag myself to the edge, hang over, and am met by the most confused “What the hell just happened?” expression ever worn by an upended canine. The sad part is he climbs right back up and does it again. And again. We’ve started keeping track of how many times he does it a night. His low is three. High is seven. That was the night Hubby cupped my face in his hands, looked me deep in the eyes and reasoned sadly yet gently, “You know there’s something really wrong with him, don’t you?”

I let the big dogs out at six every morning. The Blue Heeler and Golden Lab tear away shoulder to shoulder at full speed, like connected low flying rockets. They travel the yard in a huge sweeping arc while I dump the horse her feed. They’re on the return end of the loop to the pond and back about the time I’m walking back toward the house. The bucket comes in handy when they forget to watch where they’re going. It lends the illusion I’m in control of the situation if I flail away with it as I’m mowed down. They’re always sorry. I can tell by all the puppy kisses and bouncing they do on my back as I belly crawl for the peach tree to drag myself upright. And that Lab amazes me. She can squirt under a Suburban while running full tilt. Lays under there, paws over her muzzle laughing while the Heeler flops around on the ground from head-butting the door at 30 MPH.  Hubby has resorted to the bathroom plunger a few times to get the dent out.

My daughter has a sugar glider that lost a paw. What’s a sugar glider? Think nocturnal version of a flying squirrel. I peeked into Tutu’s cage (named thusly because she’s too, too cute and too, too loud) and saw what looked like a sleeping long-tailed chipmunk. I kept tempting her to leave her teepee with a piece of cheese. My “Good Lord!” was heartfelt, and I nearly plopped on my butt from jerking back when she popped her head out.  Being nocturnal, sugar gliders have big eyes. Really big eyes. Big googly eyes like you find on a pre-kindergartener’s rendition of a face. 

I learned first hand she transforms from chipmunk to a thick-tailed furry kite when she got out. It was a race to catch her before any of the two cats and two dogs did.  Four people stumble rapidly through several rooms (and into each other), leaping over furniture and booting cats and dogs back, usually with Rachel scrambling around shouting, “Dammit, Mama! Let her land on you so I can grab her!” I’m sorry, but it’s instinctive to duck if something with bug eyes and fluttery panels of skin stretched between its front and back legs launches itself at you from the top of the curtains. Tutu dive-bombs with the intensity and deadly accuracy of a kamikaze pilot. She could be shoosting mid-air straight for you so you’re yelling “I got her! I got her!” like an outfielder claiming a fly ball, and — poof  — fuzz her tail out like a mad cat, and the resultant drag from all that flared hair aids her in some freakish arial evasive maneuvers.

She finally landed on a bed. We got the door shut and a towel stuffed under it so she couldn’t get out. (She can flatten herself like a bat to fit beneath the door.) Seems her short stint of freedom inflated her sense of self. My son-in-law weighs about 260, yet this five or six-ounce creature stood on her back legs doing a spread-armed Frankenstein pose in challenge, shrilling at him like a falsetto-voiced hawk. Never dreamed it physically possible for that decibel of sound to come from something so tiny. Will just glared at her in disgust as she flared her ‘wings’ at him. “Really, Tutu?” he demanded as he grabbed and missed. Grabbed again. “Really?!?”

I know I’m going to use Tutu vs Will in a book one day. Think it’s the whole flea-on-an-elephant thing that appeals to me.

Y’all go get your writing done for today. I have a chapter to bang out so I’ll feel better!

~Runere~

PS Shadowz Paranormal Investigations is having a meet & greet, bake sale fundraiser, and is taking applications for investigators this Saturday, 4pm to 8pm, beside the Mystik Spirit New Age Store in Bay St. Louis. Come by and visit or ask questions. Remember applicants: You must have picture ID and be able to pass a background check!

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com or friend her on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

The Small Things . . . And Blow-up Dolls

Strange how it’s the small things that create lasting impressions. Small things that make you absolutely screaming crazy while the big things roll off.

It’s why I try to incorporate the small things into my writing. The gestures, the nuance of a crooked smile, the stroke of a warm hand down an arm to tangle fingers, a thumb in a belt, a chin lifted in greeting. They individualize characters, make friends of them. Have the reader laughing and saying “I do that too!” or “Oh my gosh! That could be John!” The familiarity creates a bond.

Then as relationships advance, the ‘small things’ take on different meaning. Usually with first names, brown eyes, skinned knees or freckles. Two such small things got my baby sister this past weekend. She’s been stretched thin and took some time with her girls to relax at my brother’s house near Jackson. The Farm. I’ve always maintained you sleep with one eye open with children around. Bekah took advantage of the first opportunity for a daytime nap she’d had in forever. Emma and Tom Jr’s little girl took advantage of the nap.

Rebekah woke with a mustache and unibrow, having slept through their application. Either she was really tired, or those girls have mad skills. Personally, I’m excited because I see the delicate touch of budding neurosurgeons or bomb squad personnel. (Thank heavens they used washable markers.)

Met with friends and conversation turned to past occupations and the most hilarious incident of each. While working as a musician, I had a lead guitarist who was magical in his talent. He was also in the Air Force. His wife packed up the kids in a snit and moved back to Arkansas. After the required length of time to reclaim residency there she filed for divorce. Her grounds? Desertion. This poor guy was in the service, stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, with another three years to go where he’d re-upped at her request. To have accompanied his wife he’d have gone AWOL. Thank heavens for reasonable judges; she didn’t get away with it. I don’t know how it ended, but he finally transferred closer to where she was.

The short tale I have is from his time here alone. Our band was like a family. So when his birthday rolled around we jumped on the opportunity to torment him.  The owner and clients of the lounge we played at loved this guy, so they went along with our machinations, each bringing a tacky gag gift to ‘comfort’ him during his crazy divorce. Hubby’s and my contribution? A cheap blow-up doll in a kneeling position. Problem is they come flat in a cellophane package. Hubby declared there was no way he was blowing the thing up by hand. Uh, mouth. So just prior to the first set we pulled into a beachfront gas station advertising an air hose.

Since we had to keep the doll hidden for it to be a surprise, Hubby decided to inflate it in the back seat. Package ripped open, he crawled into the back while I leaned over from the front seat to help spread her out like a plastic Flat Stanley.  Hubby located her filler tube, connected the air hose then nodded for me to drop quarters into the machine.  I jumped back in the front.

No sooner did she start to plump than a station wagon full of kids with beach rafts, floaties and an assortment of inflatable toys pulled in behind us. But with the compressor rattling Hubby never heard the vehicle pull up. He glanced out the back window to find an audience. Right about the time an arm popped up in the air. His eyes bugged, and he smacked it down hissing, “Help me!” Hubby gets flustered so seldom I started to laugh. He still had the air hose on the fill tube so she kept inflating. I looked at the woman in the station wagon whose horrified gaze was locked on the plastic head and shoulders slowly rising above the back of the seat like some rouged-and-lipsticked demonic entity. 

Both of them had perfect circles for mouths.

I laughed harder, over her expression and Hubby’s frantic efforts to disconnect the air hose. Wasn’t happening. And once I start laughing I’m good for nothing but limp arm gestures and snorting when I try to breathe.

Hubby threw a leg over Plastic Polly’s torso in an attempt to force her down out of sight. All that happened was her bent legs popped up either side of his hips, her little pink feet waving in the air. I’m laughing hysterically, he’s red-faced and yelling for me to help him, and the little kids are hanging out every window of the station wagon trying to see what’s going on and pointing.

Hubby and the doll were thrashing around in the back seat as he kept trying to disconnect her. The poor woman finally came to her senses, found reverse, stomped on the accelerator and squealed out of the parking lot. Sure hope those kids got their toys aired up. Hubby clambered over the now fully inflated Plastic Polly, exited the door and turned off the air compressor.

The birthday party was a raging success, two Seabees escorting Polly in between them on signal. (Navy men will do anything to humiliate an Airman, and vise versa.) Hubby was so embarrassed being caught by little kids and the fact I didn’t help him, that he didn’t speak to me until the end of the second set. Every time I looked at him, I couldn’t help it. I’d remember his face and hiccup or snort into the mic, to the point the owner asked “Is she okay?”

And yeah, I’m going to use that in a book. Everyone thinks I make this stuff up any way.  If they only knew.

Keep writing everyone! Love’s worth every keystroke!

~Runere~

**Of special note: Hubby had a stress test last week. It came back abnormal. So did the EKG he had done today. (Thursday, since I set my posts a day early.) It raised enough concern he’s scheduled for heart catheterization and possible stint(s) next Friday. I’d appreciate y’all giving a shout out to The Man Upstairs for him. I’ll let you know how things go. Yes, I scared. The man is my world.

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com or friend her on Face Book. Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Long Distance Dilemma

It happened again. A call from three thousand miles away seeking assistance. It started something like this; “Hey Poppa! It’s Hunter. Do you know how to get a locked door open?”

“The key?”

I heard the snort of pure exasperation. “C’mon, Pop! We don’t have a key.”

Pop knows to ask the important questions first. “Where’s you mom?” G-son: “She’s at work.” Pop: “Guess you’re locked out until she gets home then.” G-son: “No, Pop! We have to get in!”

An uh-oh pause. Pop’s “Why?” was a bit suspicious.  G-son: “Because Noah’s locked himself in Mom’s bedroom.”

Did you just experienced the same metal-on-metal screech of thought processes locking up that we did? When it happened to us it didn’t quite drown out the all too audible fight for possession of the phone. The other g-son won. Not like they needed to take turns or anything. They were loud enough to negate any need for a conference call.

“Noah’s locked inside. (*Noah’s four.) You two are locked outside,” Poppa reiterated to g-son number two.  At an affirmative answer he asked “Why can’t Noah come unlock the door and let you in?”

“Noah doesn’t know how to un-lock Mom’s door. He’s asleep, but he’s stuck in the room even if he does wake up.” Pop had just suggested they try all the windows to see if one was open when g-son number two said, “Uhhhh, Pop? Gotta go! Call you back in a minute.”

They didn’t call back. But neither did we get a hysterical call from their mother, so we knew they were alright. I did manage to get hold of g-son number two the day after.

“How’d you get inside?” I started our conversation. Indistinct mumbling and a quick change of subject attempt came from the other end of the line. That just made me dig my heels in. I asked again. Louder, balancing on the back two legs of my chair to wait him out.

An irritated burst of breath sounded in the phone with his admission. “Fire department,” came out like one word, low and begrudging. The bang of my chair dropping back the floor almost drowned out, “And the police.”

 “Do what?!?”

“Sheesh, Maw! Do you have to screech like that? I’m gonna be deaf in my old age now!”

“Tell me.” The boy recognizes a command when he hears one.

“We got locked out of the house while Noah was locked in Mom’s room. Asleep. When he woke up we were going to tell him to unlock the window because he knows how to do that, crawl in and unlock the door. ” He hesitated. I was confused. It didn’t make a bit of sense, and then he got mad all over again. “I went out on the porch to see if Mom’s window was unlocked and Hunter followed me out. I told Hunter not to close the door! But noooo. What does Hunter do? Makes his eyes real big, puffs up and slams it just because I said not to! (*Older brother, younger brother issues. It’s a male dominance thing.) Told him it was locked and he said No it isn’t! Yeah, it is. Tried to prove me wrong. Twisted the handle while he stepped to go inside. Bounced into the locked,” he stressed the word, “door with enough force I thought he broke his nose. Knotted his head up pretty good.” Was that admiration?

“Is he okay?” Hey, I worry. Tyler pooh-poohed things. “He was flopping around on the porch but could still hear me.” 

My fingers probe my temples in a massage. “But how did the Fire Department and police get involved?”

“I was walking around trying all the windows to find a way in. I kept thinking it was getting kind of dark inside. Then when I got to the back porch, I got a whiff of smoke and the smell of food cooking. Told Hunter there must be an old hobo in the woods cooking his dinner and burning it. That’s when Hunter got this really weird look on his face.”

“I had a pizza in the oven,” Hunter remembered. Forty-five minutes too late.

“It was getting dark inside because the house was filling up with smoke! We called the Fire Department, but while we waited for them Hunter watched the kitchen while I stood by the bedroom window. I kept knocking and yelling, trying to get Noah to wake up and unlock the window. But he only stuck his head under the pillow and rolled up tighter in the blanket. Hunter was going to yell if he saw flames and I was going to break the window to get Noah out. I’d already thought it through, Maw,” he assured me, so I must have been sputtering pretty badly. “With the door closed there was very little smoke in Mom’s room, so I knew I didn’t have to worry about a flash fire coming up the hall getting in there.”

I’m hyperventilating by now. He just keeps talking. “The firemen tried to kick in the back door but it wouldn’t give. So the police kept at that one while the firemen ran to kick in the front door. Took a fireman and another cop about seven good kicks together to get it open. The cop at the back door kicked his in about the same time.  The fireman already knew which room Noah was in and he ran and grabbed him. I kept hearing this banging noise, and when the fireman ran outside, Noah was beating him all up in the helmet. The fireman set him down and he ran and grabbed me around the leg. I asked him why he was hitting the fireman, and he said “I was scared, Tyler! I never saw anybody dressed like that before!”

Tyler’s a good big brother. He squatted down and told Noah, “If you see somebody dressed like that don’t ever be scared of him. If he’s dressed like that, he’s there to help you.”

“What did Noah say?” I asked. What else could I do? My new headache made viable thought impossible. Probably from breathing so hard. “He said, ‘Okay’,” Tyler replied. Hunter started talking in the background. I heard, “Mom says we can’t cook any more pizzas unless she’s home. Steven (*their soon to be step-dad, poor man. I feed him very well when he visits; he deserves that at the very least.) says that two dollar pizza just cost him six hundred in doors. Not including the entrance locks and deadbolts.”   

Okay. It could have been worse. Nothing burned but the pizza, the firemen used huge fans to remove the smoke, and Noah has a new hero. I’m grateful. But do you see why I’m phone shy?

This is a writing blog, even if I digress most weeks. So I’m including a question I had in a recent interview. What is the hardest thing you’ve found about writing? Didn’t even have to think about it.

Finding a good critique partner. If you’ve found a good match, you are blessed! It’s hard to find someone who writes in your genre, yet their style is different enough from yours to maintain the integrity of each other’s stories. I’ve tried several. And all too often it wasn’t a two-way street. You critique their work in detail, pages and pages, looking for plot holes, grammar, tense, timeline and POV problems; dropping things to be a sounding board when they get stuck. But all too often an inequity develops.That same dedication isn’t applied to your work. I know what I’m talking about there. One partner had to have 240 pages critiqued for a contest. I put my writing on hold to make sure she met the deadline. I later asked her to read five double-spaced pages to see if I’d achieved the imagery I wanted. Just read them. Her response let me know she hadn’t even bothered. She yammered a few words about Werewolves, my usual subject matter, and how I write them so well. How she loved this particular description.  The story was about angels. THAT partnership was dissolved, gracefully, but dissolved. A word of warning: Handle things carefully. You never want to hurt feelings or make enemies.

While it’s best not to use friends as crit partners, crit partners can become some of the fastest friends you’ll ever make. A good example of why a good critique partner is so important was posted by Sarah Ballance yesterday, a Guest Fox of Jeff Salter’s at http://fourfoxesonehound.wordpress.com. I laughed, I nodded, said a couple Amens and added her to my To Be Read list on the power of that post alone.

So here’s to critique partners! Especially those good ones! Good writing!

~Runere~

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com and friend her on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Industry Rants

Hello everyone! So this weekend I had some fun with my local RWA group, Gulf Coast Chapter of RWA, where I got to ride in the Pensacola bus with writers, Arabella Stokes, Kelly Stone, Jillian Chantal, Micki Gibson, and Jamie Farrel. I had a great time riding to Mobile with them, though Arabella did scare me a few times on the way back. I was silently going, “RED LIGHT RED LIGHT!!”  or “CAR, BRAKES!!!” but she was kind enough to let me ride in her car so I have nothing but love for her. A little excitement never hurts!!

At the meeting we talked about several things that happened at RWA nationals. I was not fortunate enough to get to go so I was very excited about this past meeting. I wasn’t disappointed by the meeting. I got a great deal of information. And I also heard a little about the rantings that were going on at nationals. Now, you have to understand, I don’t pay much attention to online rants. I am a member of several writers groups but they are all on digest mode except for my local group. I don’t normally pay attention to rants online but when in person, heck yeah I’ll listen. So apparently no matter what editors and agents are saying there is still a stigma on self published and epublished authors. Except when the epublished author is backed by a publisher who is funded by a HUGE print publisher. As an epubbed author this didn’t surprise me. I mean when you have to fight the “organization” to recognize your work then of course agents and editors are going to be unimpressed by your past work. However, what just kills me is when all you hear is “it’s not about your publishing credits, it’s about the story.” I have come to hate this phrase 🙂

But my point is not to fall into a rant. I could, easily, however I won’t.

I had to stop and wonder if I was missing that many much in being on digest on my writers groups. Are we as authors defending our choices too much these days or are our words getting out more than before because these are hot topics?

I have no answers. All I can tell you are my personal experiences and for those I normally don’t go into detail online, because it’s ONLINE!! I always try to practice what I preach, Never EVER post, tweet or facebook something that could come back to bite you in the ass later!!

Are you self published, epublished, or print published and ever felt the need to defend your choice? Or have you ever been looked down on because of your choice? I’d love to hear about this and if you are a writer and tired of hearing about the stigma on epublished and self published books, I’d love to hear from you too and also if you’re published and what type of published you went with.

 

thanks so much!! I look forward to reading interesting opinions!!

Sayde

Sleeping Alone . . . and Still No Covers!

Tuesday night was only the second time in 28 years Hubby and I have slept apart. And it certainly felt strange. I usually sleep with a leg draped over him, and kept waking up with a cramp in my calf from stretching my toe across the bed trying to find him.

He had to spend the night in a sleep study lab. Writing buddy Jeff Salter from Four Foxes One Hound asked why I didn’t stay there with him. Well, for one thing they wouldn’t let me! I tried to cling to the door frame, but it was two on one. Like I told him, it’s a little hard to keep your leg wrapped around the potted plant with one tech dragging you from behind and the other peeling you off things.

Probably wouldn’t have worked anyway. There were far too many wires I might have dislodged. By the time they finished hooking hubby up he was decidedly disgruntled. Don’t think it was what he expected. Wired head to toe, he had straps around his chest, stomach, head and thighs to keep dozens of wires and leads somewhat in place. Can’t decide if he looked more like a bad bondage experience, or a Junior High science experiment run amok. And when they put the combo oxygen meter/snore mic in place? I had to pretend to cough to cover laughing because it looked like an up-the-nose retainer from hell. Knew he was mad because his eyes started to glow that strange blue that happens when he’s angry. I did as I promised and called when I made it home okay. The tech that answered kept snorking through the phone — that half laugh, half chortle sound people make when they try to laugh and breathe at the same time —  because he thought it was hysterical hubby refused to even lay down until he heard I was home safe. He hung up snorking again. Said he was going to tell hubby I left the message I’d decided to stop off at Michael’s (a local club) for a couple of drinks. 

I wasn’t the only one missing hubby when I got home. Again and again the dogs went to the back door, only to turn and look at me. It was obvious they were saying “Yo! You forget something in the truck? How about getting him?” They wandered the house off and on all night looking for him. I guess Cochise, my rescue Pit, was determined not to lose both of his kibble keepers, because he crawled up on the bed about halfway through the night. Ever tried to doze back off with a 60 pound dog draped across you calves? I couldn’t chase him  off. With an entire king sized bed available, he commandeered my half with me in it, and wouldn’t budge. He even had all the covers! I must feel really, really safe where we live, because when I got up at 4AM to pick Hubby up at 5:30, I found hadn’t even locked the door. Don’t tell him I forgot, though. I lied and told him I double and triple checked everything.  (Hey, I thought I did!)

But one good thing happened to keep my mind off being alone and feeling pitiful. Danica Avet sent me an ARC of the latest book in her Veil series!  I started reading it, and so far I really am enjoying Izzy and Grant’s story in AIN’T NO BULL. It will be released (Siren Publishing) July 13th, and I definitely recommend it! Check Danica out at her website, or with her blog partners at http://FourFoxesOneHound.wordpress.com From what I understand, she just may have a few more copies to give away!

Anyway, Hubby’s back home and all is well with the world again. Went to bed last night and I think both of us were a little more snuggly than usual. I was about to drift off when he rumbled,complaining,  “Don’t know why they call it a sleep lab. Sure didn’t sleep much without you there.”

I just smiled in the dark when he gave me a squeeze. I relaxed for the first time in almost  forty-eight hours. I slung a leg over him, sighed, and thought, Yepall’s right with the world.

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com or as a friend on Facebook.  Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

When the Dreaded Evil Pitch Fairy Strikes

A live pitch session with an editor or agent can be an anxiety provoking experience, no matter how well you prepare. I’m sure chapter members in New York for RWA 2011 are suffering nerves at this very moment. Murphy and his snicker lurk everywhere, ready to strike. Here’s wishing you the best of luck, ladies! Murphy’s Law be damned!

When it’s your turn to pitch –and we should have plenty of writers pitching their manuscripts at Silken Sands Writers Conference in Pensacola come next March!– it’s best to go in confident, but expecting something will trip you up. Prepare for it in fact. Sit down and think of as many awkward scenarios as you can. And make an appropriate recovery plan.

Possibilities? Simple ones such as tripping as you approach the pitch table. Talk about a confidence wrecker. Your carefully groomed professional mien gone in one spastic, foot churning, elbow flapping moment. In a dress and heels no less. (I literally heard the echo of my brothers snorting with laughter and shouting “Go ahead, Grace!” as they did in childhood.)

Going blank as you sit down or forgetting to introduce yourself. (Have your business card ready. Practice your pitch beginning to end until it’s second nature. Write down a trigger word to get you going.)

An anxiety attack with accompanying hyperventilation. (If you hold the paper bag, try not to smear your friend’s lipstick with it. She’s embarrassed enough. Looking like a clown after the fact will make things worse and she’ll never pitch again.)

Losing your pitch security blanket, such as a paper with an outline or index cards with high points listed. I’ve helped mop papers dry when a glass of water was spilled (use ball point or pencil for writing them! Felt tip ink runs when wet. Or wept on.); and while moderating outdoor pitches I’ve chased wind-whipped index cards over so many different terrains it isn’t funny. (Number your cards! Even if simply dropped, it quickens getting them in order.)

There may be major problems, too. Helped clean up an agent once at a small conference in Houma. A young woman leaned in to deliver her pitch and the agent, a down-to-earth, conscientious person who tried to make authors as comfortable as possible, responded in kind. Imagine how horrified they both were when that poor girl was overwhelmed with pitch nerves and tossed her cookies!

If you’re to bring the first three chapters of your MS and the editor or agent reads as you pitch, don’t despair. She isn’t tuning you out. Remember: editors and agents constantly multi-task. They can listen to your twelve-minute condensation of 100k words as they read. What they read should match what you describe. Expect pertinent questions about your MS. Know it inside out; down to page numbers of scenes that demonstrate your ability to write emotions, descriptions and relationships — IF ASKED. Don’t walk in thinking all you have to do is direct him/her to a few isolated areas. They need to feel compelled to read your story from beginning to end. So give them the enticing book trailer version — but include the satisfactory ending. They have to know you can reach conclusions and tie up any loose ends. If it’s for a ‘hot’ line, be able to pinpoint a sex scene or describe the physical aspects you present. Not a blow-by-blow (no pun intended!) recitation of your writing, but the overall effect you’ve worked to achieve.

Know your genre. Know your pitch editor/agent. Be sure they match.

Know your characters. Talk about them as real people. Readers will temproarily live in the world you create, and they want characters they can identify with. An editor/agent looks for well-rounded, strong, and believable characters — that means with a weakness, or flaw, or insecurity, or challenge that makes them real, yet with a high degree of individuality.

Practice your pitch with whomever will listen. Over and over and over. To the point you can switch to auto-pilot if necessary. Work with writing buddies first; they can point out weak areas and applaud your strong ones. Then move on to non-writing buddies. If you can hold their attention, pique their interest or make them ask questions, you’re close to achieving your goal. Don’t trust the dog’s reaction. He sits there and listens, but his ears pricked forward can mean anything from his noticing your building panic, to your voice being too loud or shrill. Speaking of loud and shrill; record your pitch. Listen carefully for enthusiasm and confidence levels. Ensure you remain audible at all times without allowing excitement to make you out of breath or shrill. Exercise good diction. Avoid monotones.

Time your pitch to be sure you stay inside the pre-determined limits, yet speak clearly and concisely, unrushed. Don’t hurry through it because you’re nervous, or worried you won’t get it all in. (When timing yourself, make sure to allow a few seconds here and there for questions and answers. If questioned, make a deliberate mental note of where you are so you can pick up where you left off.) Fine tune your pitch. Then fine tune it again. Use words that are descriptive, emotive, provocative.

Questions I’ve been asked are “What makes this relationship unique?”, “How does your writing compare to what’s out there?”, “What do you feel is fresh enough about your writing to set it apart from what’s out there?”, “What is your favorite part of this story?”, “What specifically are you looking for in an editor/agent?” and “You said you were presenting this on its own, but see it as a series. Give me the basic concept of two more stories and their main characters.”

Yes, that last question threw me for a few seconds. Time is oppressive when you’re scrambling around in your head for what you need. I mention it because I don’t want anyone else caught like that. I’d concentrated on the single title I was pitching to the exclusion of other stories. You can believe I now have a thirty-second encapsulation of my envisioned series, and the accompanying three to five sentence interesting  summaries of stories therein. 

So, what have you encountered? Dreaded? What unexpected questions have you been asked you wish you’d been better prepared for? I’d appreciate your sharing them here so we can all prepare for literally anything. Murphy may show his face, but being able to stand on his coat tail and hold him at bay is an empowering thing. 

It can get you through a pitch session. And earn you that request for a partial or a full! 

Good writing, everyone! I’m working on my pitches for Silken Sands already. Stay safe over the Fourth of July weekend.

~Runere~

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com or on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Computer Issues and Masculine Mayhem!

Sorry all! Suffering computer issues! I’ll have to drop mine by Magic Mike’s for resurrection. So until then I’m back on Hubby’s Hoopty ‘Puter. That means this post is not only late, but will be short and sweet.

My house has been taken over by men. There are masculine things where there should be no masculine things. Like gym equipment in my dining room. Finding a battery charger (industrial size automotive variety) camped out there as well sent me over the edge. I went hunting to see if it was just me being overly sensative, or if the invasion was actual fact.

In the middle bathroom I have a short stool to put towel and jammies on at bath time. It was overloaded with Hotrod magazines and newspapers. Shouldn’t have snatched them up. (Mom warned me to always be a lady. Sorry, Mom.) When I did, an adjustable crescent wrench thunked down on my bare toes. As I hopped around clutchng my foot I yelled at the ceiling. Why was it even there? There’d been no plumbing going on. Stormed to the back door and slung it out into the yard. Don’t know exactly where it landed,  and yes, I regret the fit of temper. I know it’ll come back to haunt me. I’ll probably find the stupid thing while mowing. Dang it.

I then collected nine–yes, NINE–rods and reels from bedrooms, living room and kitchen. How can one thirteen year old boy use that many at one time?!? Treble-hooked lures were on the microwave and in my nest of mixing bowls. A tackle box resided where my baking pans should be.

Just inside the back door Hubby’s horse’s grooming supplies –that belong in the shed–are set as a trap for me to kick over and have to pick up. Repeatedly. I decided to empty the dishwasher to calm my nerves and found three screwdrivers and a hammer in the silverware drawer. Went to soak in the tub and relax my irritation away. Opened the bathroom cabinet only to find a can of GOJO hand cleaner usurping the space for my creams and skin cleansers. GOJO belongs OUTDOORS so the greasy splatters don’t end up inside! Yeah, right.

Went to hide in my sanctuary: my office. I found three hunting caps that weren’t mine, and a duck decoy. Why a duck decoy? I don’t have a clue. I’m not using it as a prop to write by; I’ve never used it. Don’t intend to use it. I’ll own up to the  police utility belt with flashlight, pepper spray, asp, ammo pouches, 9mm and two sets of handcuffs with keys. But not the mallard with the life-sized green head pointed at me, yellow beak ready to pinch if I get too close. (Yes, it’s very realistic. I’ve been bitten by ducks and avoid them like the plague.)

Wandered into my bedroom and spotted the small crystal dish on my dresser for my rings. My rings were gone. However, there is an air compressor quick-connect, three yellow wire nuts, two red ones, a drill chuck key and a foreign object I can’t identify. I want my pretty crystal dish back! I opened my jewelry chest to find all sorts of man odds and ends, Hubby’s and the boys. Tore a nail jerking things out. Searched for an emery board ten long minutes before I realized they’d been confiscated to file carbon off the spark plugs of the mowers and go-carts. Intended to trim a piece off a sheet of fine grit sand paper, only to discover the kitchen shears in the knife block were missing.

At that moment it dawned on me I have nothing in this house I can claim as solely mine! Masculine hands have latched onto everything, claiming them as their own.

In a childish fit of pique, I decided to get even. I dug out an extra cookie cutter. It now resides in Hubby’s toolbox. I’m gleefully hoping someone else finds it and taunts him with it. I put sample vials of perfume in the grandson’s tackle box. Hope one gets crushed and he gets teased by his fishing buddies every time he opens the lid and the light, feminine fragrance wafts into the air! I emptied a plastic box of hooks from Hubby’s tackle box then put it back. When he opens it in the middle of a fishing trip and finds it empty, he’ll know how I feel when I discover my box of Brillo pads under the kitchen sink have all been used cleaning rims and chrome on the truck!

Then I found one item I found I had to call the grandson about. He’s visiting in Washington State right now, so you know my curiosity was great.  I asked what it was and he started snickering.

I’m including a pic of it so you know I’m telling the truth. But I started laughing so hard I got over my mad.

Bait box in a thong!

Oh, yeah, he’s definitely growing up and the boy hormones are on the rise. He dressed his bait box in a thong!!

 
Good writing everyone! I’m running away for the rest of the day. I really, really need it!
 
~Runere~
 
Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com and on Facebook! Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain
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