Sunday, November 15, 2009

Some stuff just sucks . . .

What I did this weekend . . . . *sniff*

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stuckedness: Getting unstuck in Writing

Here are some helpful ways to brainstorm:
1. Ask yourself what is the absolute worst thing that could happen, and what is the absolute best and why?
2. Is there another logical way the story could work?
3. Does the story need to change in some small or large way?
4. Change location. Write some place or time you don't normally write.
5. Change media. You'll be surprised the diffence changing the way your write makes-- I sometimes write longhand in a spiral notebook--just make sure you don't lose the notebook *g*
6. Go back to you character GMC sheets for inspiration. Is there anything you missed? Anything new the character has revealed to you?
7. Interview your character. Ask him or her questions a reporter might ask, Who, What, Why, Where and How? Keep an open mind and leave the questions open-ended and let the character answer. You'd be surpised how well this technique works!
8. Read the chapter that's bothering you before you go to sleep and let your subconscious work on it. Make sure you keep a pen and pad by the bed--I do this one all the time.
9. Skip ahead and come back to it. If it's really giving you grief, leave three xxx's as a place holder so you can easily search for it later, make a note in your master notebook, and move ahead. Let your subconscious and the characters work on it while you're moving forward. The wonderful, magical thing about writing every day is the characters start doing some of the work for you. Let them do it!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My mother wore combat boots . . .

My mother wore combat boots
It used to be an insult.
When I was a little girl in the Seventies, it was a taunt, a remark, “Your mother wears combat boots!”
Only my mother did.
On weekends, when duty called, and during the week, when duty required, combat boots were as much a part of my mother’s uniform as were the smart, polished little navy blue kitten heels. Footwear for military women were not built for comfort or style, but for pride, and for that they were worn, and worn well.

I watched my mother wear those combat boots through many muddy marches, patrols and parades, to celebrate Flag Day, The Fourth of July, The Bicentennial and many other American holidays, but I will always remember the pride I felt helping my mother polish her boots, the stories she told me about the women who came before us, the women who made it possible for us to be take those bold steps, and the women who would take the bold steps beyond.

My mother wore combat boots.

And for that, I am very proud.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Finding Time to Write When You Don’t Have Time to Write

Nobody has time to write. I certainly didn’t yesterday. There are so voices many demanding your attention (some even deserve it) it’s amazing we get anything at done all. But there are ways we can get our writing done if we make it a priority.
The first is to do just that—make it a priority. Even if it’s just a few moments a day, write every day. Make it a habit.
Write just the dialogue if that’s all you have time for. Your characters will remind you where they were, what they were seeing, smelling, hearing and feeling. And you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much mileage you can get out of dialogue when you go fill it in later.
Keep something with you to write with at all times. Just a small notebook or some index cards. There are so many wasted minutes in each day—in the Ten Items or Less Line (which is a big fat lie and should be actionable in court), at the doctor’s office, at the 19-minute stop light, at the bank—you name it. You wait all day long. Take those moments to take back your life.
Pay attention to your Muse. She (or in my case, he) is a fickle thing, and if you don’t honor him when his mood strikes, there’s hell to pay later. Those little notes may pay off big time later.
And finally, we all know what a time suck TV and the computer can be. Unplug the box and plug in the Muse.
So get busy and go write!

Friday, November 6, 2009

National Novel Writing Month Tip Of The Day

Brainstorm words or images about your story or theme. In a notebook dedicated to your idea or story, write down every word, idea or song that springs to mind or sketch every image or stream of thought you can think of about your idea. Just let the ideas flow.

Don't stop to evaluate their worth. Keep writing down ideas. When you can't think of another thought, put it away awhile, but keep it handy. Often the most powerful or meaningful ideas will appear after you've put the idea away. You never know when that fickle Muse will show up . . .

Don't have a theme? Don't worry. They often appear when and where you least expect them!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book in a Month: Novel Writing Tool Kit By Kit Frazier

Get the dog washed and the dishes done, 'cause it's time to clear the calendars for National Novel Writing Month!

Whether you're thinking about writing a novel or mired in the middle of your work in progress, this is the class for you. The intensive course of study reviews Christopher Vogler's The Hero's Journey's three-act structure and Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation, and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction, and breaks these concepts down into a manageable, 30-day writing regimen, with particular emphasis on those all-important first five pages and middle-of-the-story conflict.
The Book in a Month Tool Kit includes:
1. PowerPoint Videos of Class Instruction

2. Personal Goal Tracker Calendar
3. Character Worksheets
4. Character Goal, Motivation & Conflict Sheets
5. Story Board Worksheets
a. Act One

b. Act Two
c. Act Three
6. Time Tracker Worksheets

Instructor Kit Frazier will provide daily encouragement to students and host Friday online brainstorming chats.

Students will also have the opportunity to share work in small online groups. To sign up, visit See you there!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Puppy Time!

The Collie Count down begins!
Tomorrow I leave to go pick up my mom and get the Poochini. I'll spend the night at Brub's with his chitlin's then pick up Mama then head toward Natchitoches, Louisiana.
We'll pick up Bodhi at G-Force Kennels and do some sight seeing around the historic district, check out the Cajun districts and see what we can see.
We'll be staying at the The Jefferson House Bed & Breakfast, which is pet friendly, and has a lovely view of the Cane River, and has been written up in Gourmet Magazine and Forder's Southwest. We'll take lots of pictures and keep y'all posted!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Coming to terms

I'm really excited about the puppy, but I'm having such bittersweet feelings about Tahoe. I still miss him so much. He was such a diva, like he was born with the heart of a broadway star. Like he did a double flip into this world and said, "TA DA!"

And even now when I sit down to write it's just like missing a part of my heart.

I know I will love the new puppy, and he will have his own personality, and today I finally realized something important--that I don't have to make room in my heart for two dogs--Tahoe already did that for me.
So, welcome home, Baby Boy puppy. You don't have a big collar to fill. I wouldn't do that to you. Instead, you'll have a collar of your very own, to fill it as you see fit. And I will love you for the little puppy you are.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Nekkid Time

There’s an old Garth Brookes song that poses the question of what to do with a cowboy when he don’t saddle up and ride away.
If you are unlucky, broke or just plain out of your mind, you get engaged. But before you do that, you have to meet his family. In this particular instance, his family—his grandmother in particular—was his ace in the hole.
It turns out his mother and father died the same year my father died, when we were both four-years-old. I took this as a sign. He took this as a way into my pants. Either way, it worked out for a while.
Miss Jessie was a tart, tough little blue-haired Baptist lady who smelled like Avon’s version of gardenias and the Old Testament, and from the moment I met her, I was smitten.
After our first big fight, Fluf went to his grandmother so that she might intercede on his behalf. Instead of jumping to his side, she said, “Well, boy. Ya shit in your nest and fell back in it. Now you got a mess to clean up.”
We survived that fight, along with many others, due largely to a little old lady with a loving heart and balls as big as icebergs.
So, when she asked us to go fetch some things from her little rent house out in West Bumfuck, who was I to refuse? Besides, this would be Fluf’s and my first roadtrip together, and I’d never been that far west.
Turns out I hadn’t missed much
West Texas is approximately one billion miles away from Austin, and because the trip takes six hours, we decided we’d spend the night there and head back the following afternoon.
Living in Austin tends to spoil you, and you forget that not all places on God’s green earth are green. Rotan, Texas is brown. The grass is brown, the dirt is brown, even the sky is brown because it’s filled with dirt.
Saying so does not hurt a West Texan’s feelings, because they know it is unattractive, flat and dry, and in fact, they take great pride in the sheer endurance it requires to live there. But I don’t believe in endurance for endurance sake, and I’d have to be sittin’ on an oilfield to ever want to live there.
I’m not alone in this musing. Miss Jessie used to say if she owned hell and half of West Texas, she’d live in hell and rent out Texas. And if she did, there’d be three hundred rednecks waiting in line for a lease.
In truth, there is a terrible, desperate beauty about West Texas, like the Chisos Mountains that rip red and orange through the wide, blue sky.
But Rotan, Texas has no mountains, and the entire town has one tree. It may not be the armpit of the world, but I’d put it in the top ten.
About two hours into the trip, the air-conditioner in Fluf’s truck broke (things always broke in Fluf’s truck—in fact the whole thing was held together with duct tape and a prayer), so we spent the next four hours languishing in a heat than the hammered hinges of hell. It also smelled like ass.
In its hay day, Rotan was an oil town, and the stench of long-dried up oil rigs blankets the town like a noxious fog.
Then there’s the dirt. You would not believe the amount of dust and red dirt that can fly into an open pickup window and deposit itself in areas of your body that, until that moment, you were blissfully unaware of.
Getting hotter and tired-er and dirtier by the mile, I informed Fluf that I had enough dirt on my body to re-pot a geranium and I would not be fit for company until I had a shower and brushed at least some of the dirt out of my teeth.
Assured that no one was in Miss Jessie’s rent house, and that I could in fact take a shower so long and hot it’d dry out the town. Calmed by this assurance (and the second or third beer he handed me), I settle back and contemplated brown skyline.
Now if there’s anything a redneck loves more than his truck, it’s a naked woman in said truck.
He popped the top on my third (or sixth) beer, and announced, “It’s nekkid time!”
There’s a big difference between being naked and being nekkid. Naked means you don’t have any clothes on. Nekkid means you don’t have any clothes on and you’re up to somethin’.
Rednecks are often big time sweet talkers, particularly if there may be an opportunity to see some boobies. I’m convinced it’s an evolutionary skill, because based on their housing arrangements (sacking out on a friend’s sofa) and their financial planning (buying lottery tickets), no redneck would ever get laid.
And in the interest of getting laid, Fluf commenced to cajoling me to get nekkid.
I was pleasantly buzzed enough to acqueiesse to this small, slight perversion. It was dark, there was no one in the god-forsaken place for miles—what harm would it do?
It is one of God’s pure truths that if you tempt fate, you’re gonna get it triple fold. The moment the panties came off, flashing red lights appeared from nowhere and we were being pulled over.
I made a mad scramble for the floorboard when Fluf said, “Don’t worry. It’s just Curtis. He can’t see.”
“What do you mean he can’t see?”
“He’s blind.”
“Right. You have a blind cop driving around town pulling people over?”
“He’s not really a cop. They let him use the light and pay for his gas, and he runs around handing out speeding tickets.”
“So if he’s blind, how did he know we were speeding?”
“He can tell by the engine sound.”
“But how does he drive?”
“He knows the road.”
I clutched my shirt while Curtis the blind traffic cop was at the driver’s side window, ripping a ticket off his handy little pad.
He was a small guy, balding and a slight pooch lopping over his belt buckle. And he had on the thickest glasses I’d ever seen.
“Fluf? Is that you?” Curtis said, squinting through his coke bottle lenses.
“Hey, Curtis, how you doin’?”
“Oh I could complain but it wouldn’t do no good.”
“Nice car. Who’d you sue?”
Curtis offered a wide, half-toothed grin. “Some fool up from Fort Worth.”
Fluf nodded, like suing someone and buying a car with the proceeds was the most natural thing in the world.
And, after about five minutes of this witty banter, asking after Curtis’s mom-n-them, the blind traffic cop bade us goodbye and admonished us to slow down.
He said nothing about my near nakedness.
I wasn’t sure if I should be grateful or offended.
“He really can’t see,” I said.
“Yep. Blinder than two-foot up a bulls ass.”
And then he tugged my shirt away from me and grinned. “Welcome to West Texas. Now, get nekkid.”

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rednecks are like dogs because . . .

Rednecks love a good dog. They prefer the sporting dogs because they come when they're called, they're loyal, and some of 'em will even go get you a beer.

Sporting dogs main two appetites are similar to a redneck's--hunting and humping. If they aren't eating, they're looking for something to eat, and if they're not humping, they're looking for something to hump, and man nor beast seem really particular about what gets humped or hunted.

Which is why I prefer my dogs a bit more sophisticated (I'm still working on my taste in men).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I lost my ever lovin' mind . . .

Well gang, I finally did it. I lost my mind. I was surfing around on the Net when I shoulda been writing, looking at (what else) puppies and puppy rescues, pretty much anything related to all things furry and four-legged, and I was mindin' my own business when I hit a related link, and there he was. My puppy.

And I lost my ever lovin' mind. Started bawlin' like a banshee right there at the keyboard, right in the middle of an ordinary afternoon, just drinkin' iced tea and eatin' Cheetos, and I started crying my eyes out. R came runnin' in, "You okay? You smash a finger or somethin?"

"No," I said, "I found my dog." He just shook his head and went back to fixing things in the big house, and I went back to emailing the lady on the website to tell her she had my dog, and to please hold him for me, I'd be there quick as I could to come pick him up.

To show you how far I've lost my mind, I have to drive all the way to Louisiana to get my mind and my dog back. But that's okay. I'm going to go pick up my mama and take her with me, we'll go make a little Cajun roadtrip out of it, and come back with some po'boys, a puppy and hopefully, a mind that is whole and fully intact, such as it is.

Puppy crisis averted, for now, back to writing that dang book . . .

Friday, August 21, 2009

Looking for Dog in the little things . . .

I've had puppies on the brain all summer long, but I've been on the fence about what to do about it. They're so much responsibility. There's the potty training and the chewing and all the million things you forget when you're in the thralls of being charmed by little puff balls of puppy-ness. And then there's the fifteen years of another life depending on you--no trips without him or without making plans for him, there's just so much to think about.

On the other hand, there's nothing quite like the unconditional love of a dog. Nothing like coming home to someone who is literally head-over-heels happy to see you. Nothing like snuggling up to a furry friend at the end of a hard day. Nothing like a cold nose and a warm heart. No better muse than a dog who thinks you're the most brilliant writer on the planet.

I think I'm a goner. I think I'm getting a puppy. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Remembering Tahoe

I've been thinking about my boy a lot lately and missing him so much it's like a phantom pain. I sit down to write, and he's not there, his soft ears near my knee where I absently stroked them trying to come up with something poiniant, if not poetic. He's not there to remind me to take a break, to dance in the kitchen, to wander the neighborhood, to smell the evening news. It's tough to write without your muse.

It's been a year and a half now. More and more often I find myself surfing the web instead of writing, popping by pet rescues, looking for the dog who's out there looking for me. Knowing when I see him, I will know him and he will know me. I know there will never be another Tahoe, unthinkable, I know, but perhaps there will be another dog and another day . . .

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wishing on stars . . .

The Perseid Meteor Showers are one of my very favorite meteorological events, and R and I spent the evening (well, after working on the house) sitting out on the porch watching the shooting stars. I made some good wishes. Here's to a good year for all of us, full of new agents, fat contracts and that all of our good wishes come true . . .

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Cavalry Arrived

R's sisters Ida and Martha arrived with little Chloe to check out the progress and wound up lending a hand with the lighting.

Of course, we took some time to hang out, play with the dog and ducks and take a spin on the paddle boat (which Chloe steered) before getting back to work.

Martha and Ida helped with the light fixtures and placards, and

Chloe helped sweep, and then we had a fish fry and broke open a big juicy watermelon to thank them!

Here is the turn-of-the Century Chinese chest that will be the bathroom counter, with one of the hand-hammered copper sinks, and the adorable lanterns that will serve as the bathroom lights! Big thanks to my sis-in-laws for swinging by-don't be strangers--and next time we won't put you to work! Maybe next time we'll have the hammock up . . .

Monday, August 3, 2009

Generations of little feet . . .

So we went out to Cherry Springs to get the wood for the floors--this is the wood from Great Opa's old house, so it's probably close to 100 years old. I just love the thought that we'll be walking on wood that bears the lovely scars of generations of little feet that came before us.

We ran the wood through the planer (it's hard work, finding the wood, gathering the wood, dragging it to the trailer . . . ) and now it look just beautiful. We braved snakes, scorpions and one tiny little lizard. The calves are getting big, and the buck's horns are coming in. It was a good but very exhausting weekend! And yes, that's a three foot snake skin on top of the toilet tank at the hunting cabin *ick*

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The art of forgetting

A Friend’s Umbrella
Lawrence Raab

Ralph Waldo Emerson, toward the endof his life,
found the namesof familiar objects escaping him.
He wanted to say something about a window, or a table, or a book on a table.
But the word wasn't there,although other words could still suggest
the shape of what he meant.
Then someone, his wife perhaps,would understand: "Yes, window! I'm sorry,is there a draft?"
He'd nod.
She'd rise.
Once a friend dropped by to visit, shook out his umbrellain the hall, remarked upon the rain.Later the word umbrellavanished and becamethe thing that strangers take away.
Paper, pen, table, book:
was it possible for a man to thinkwithout them? To know that he was thinking? We remember
that we forget, he'd written once, before he started to forget.
Three times he was told
that Longfellow had died.
Without the past, the present
lay around him like the sea.
Or like a ship, becalmed,
upon the sea. He smiledto think he was the captain then,
gazing off into whiteness,
waiting for the wind to rise.
"A Friend's Umbrella" by Lawrence Raab, from The History of Forgetting. © the Penguin Group, 2009. Published with permission. (
buy now)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ichabod is back!

Ichabod the blue heron is back . . . she's been gone for about two weeks, and I was down on the island, and there she was, fishing on the rocks! Luckily, she leaves my koi alone, and she hangs out when we go fishing, and we always throw her a fish or two. It's amazing to watch her, she's so graceful when she fishes, until she flies, then she looks so awkward, like a pteradactyl or some kind of prehistoric creature.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Place I Want To Get Back To
by Mary Oliver
is where
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darknessand first light
two deer
came walking down the hill
and when they saw methey said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let's see who she is
and why she is sittingon the ground like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the wayI go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of the flowers;
and then one of them leaned forwardand nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed that brief moment?
For twenty yearsI have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts, bestowed,
can't be repeated.
If you want to talk about this
come to visit.
I live in the house
near the corner,
which I have named
"The Place I Want To Get Back To" by Mary Oliver, from Thirst. © Beacon Press, 2006. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Where to find a redneck if you must . . .

And the tale continues . . .

My first real brush with a redneck traumatized both me and my mama and even had lasting repercussions on my little sister. I was my minding my own little eight-year-old business (isn’t that always how it is when you run into a redneck?), drawing pictures of kittens and hearts when Bud Epperson turned away from making glue chips in his desk tray and informed me that he was going to marry me.

“I’m gonna marry you,” he said.

I thought maybe he’d gotten too good a whiff of that glue, but he was dead serious –or as serious as you can get in the fourth grade—and he said, “I’m gonna hold you down and cut your fingernails and you’re gonna milk cows. I’m gonna marry you.”

Of course I was horrified and ran straight home to ask my mother if he really could cut my fingernails and make me milk cows.

Horrified her ownself, Mama immediately enrolled my sister and I in Charm School. Apparently, she thought teaching us to eat with the right fork and walk with books on our heads would not only whip us into marriageable shape, but would also make us unrecognizable to the average, every day redneck.

Sadly, redneckedness rubs off on you a lot faster than charm does.

Oh, sure, my sister and I learned how to artfully apply makeup, how to win beauty pageants and the proper way to cross your legs (at the ankles, knees pressed together, which incidentally I found out later, is also a perfectly acceptable form of birth control and is still being taught in many a Texas school).

Mama knew a lot about charm, having pulled herself up by her own petticoats and escaped a life of redneckedness.

She also knew that rednecks are a lot like Cheese Doodles. Once you’ve had one, you pretty much want the whole bag and then you’d spend the rest of your life with Doodle Dust down the front of your shirt.

And so it was that my sister and I were shielded from blatant redneckedness until well after the age when many southern girls lose their virginity in the back bed of a pickup truck hanging onto a gun rack, which was always my mother’s greatest fear. It turns out there are worse things that could happen.

My own personal redneck rode into my life the same way he rode out—riding to the rescue of a blonde. The first time, the blonde was me.

It was my own fault for putting myself in a situation that required rescuing. The particular situation that led me to this particular redneck was, of course, another redneck, because everyone knows the easiest way to get over one redneck is to run right out and jump on a new one (I said the easiest way—not the best way).

While rednecks can be found roaming freely most anywhere in the continental United States, there are proven habitats that tend to attract them in large numbers, and most of them are in Texas. These places include but are not limited to: anywhere that beer, bait and ammo are sold, any establishment where meat is fried, and anyplace they might get to see some boobies, including company picnics, tractor pulls and family reunions.

A redneck will never look a gift boobie in the mouth, and will fall all over themselves to get a peek at even one, lone boobie. They don’t even care what the boobies look like. You could have tits you can fold like a pair of socks and a redneck will still want to see ‘em.

And, as one of my redneck friends informed me, the only bad boobie is a covered-up boobie.
Now, if you’re looking for a redneck to keep, the Home Depot is by far your best bet. Being at the Home Depot suggests that he is willing and able to fix things, has the money to pay for the things he needs to fix things, and if he pulls out that little orange credit card, you can surmise that he is able to make a commitment at least once a month. You may also surmise that if he’s getting things to fix things at the Home Depot, the home he’s fixing does not come with wheels and a trailer hitch.
I met my own personal redneck not at the Home Depot, but at the South Austin meat market. Needless to say (or maybe not), both of my boobies were covered.

On the advice of a friend who knew I needed to move all my personal possessions out from under the nose of Previous Redneck, I took myself down to the meat market to enlist the help of a man she called “Fluf.”

I was immediately wary when she referred to him as Fluf, but, being acquainted with more than my fair share of rednecks, I took this with a grain of salt. Besides, I’d left half my shoes at the Ex Redneck’s house. They weren’t my favorite shoes, mind you, but I wanted them back. Another woman could take my place in his bed, but I’d spit nails before she took my place in my shoes.
And though I was fully clothed on meat market day—as I am on most days—Fluf later told me that there was sufficient evidence that my boobies were worth a little wait.

With very little malice and absolutely no forethought, I waltzed myself into the meat market full of fear and false bravado, and with good reason. Fluf looked like a machete-wielding, swarthy, southern version of Yosemite Sam.

Not to mention the fact that I was told he could bend a crowbar with his bare hands—not a bad trait when you’re looking for someone to move all of your earthly belongings out of the house of another redneck.

One thing I knew for sure was that he in no way resembled anything remotely related to fluff, at least until I learned the origin of the moniker.

FLUF, he told me later, was an acronym for Fat Lazy Ugly Fucker, and was bestowed on him by friends at the Baptist Boys’ Ranch.

If it is true that all good boys go to heaven, then boys on the fence go to the Boys’ Ranch, where they are taught survival of the quickest and the slickest.

Fluf was neither fat nor lazy or ugly, but he could indeed be a fucker when the occasion called for it, especially after copious amounts of tequila—a fact he seemed proud of, because he had a t-shirt that said, Instant Asshole, Just Add Tequila. But as I mentioned, these are all things I learned later.
While I balked at the nickname, there’s one thing you have to know about rednecks is that they’ve appropriated the Native American custom of naming people for their attributes, abilities or behavior, such “Barn,” as in, her butt’s big as a barn door, “One Arm Amy,” on account of she only had one arm, and “Smidge,” as in premature ejaculator.” So, if you’re planning on saddling yourself a redneck anytime soon, you may as well pick your own nickname, or you’ll be assigned one and it will stick, whether you like it or not.

Anyhow, on that fateful day at the meat market, Fluf was behind the counter, blithely butchering a feral hog. Horrified, I tried not to stare, as I am a Hypothetical Vegetarian, which is to say I eat meat but I feel bad about it, and I prefer not to eat anything while it still has a face.

But standing there in Aisle Five, flanked by pork butts and bacon, I realized that I did, in fact, have a pig in my life, and this guy with the machete and appeared to know how to handle a pig. Not that I wanted him to filet my ex, but it was nice to know I had options.

Later, we discovered that we both had misgivings about the other. He thought I was a social worker, and I thought he was an ex-con. It turns out both of us were mostly right.

Tentatively, we exchanged telephone numbers and I hightailed it out of there before he continued his assault on the hog and before I could change my mind.

Writers' League!

On Saturday, June 27th, I'll be moderating a panel about writing for graphic novels at the Writers League of Texas Agents Conference, being held at the Sheraton Hotel in Austin.Joining me for "Beyond the Strip: Inside the World of Comics & Graphic Novels" will be Alan J Porter, Rick Klaw (former editor of MoJo Press and online reviewer and columnist), and Tony Salvaggio (writer of Psy*Comm and Clockworks)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Agent Class Starting Soon!

There are four more spots in the Agent Class starting Tuesday. We’re going to be looking at winning query letters from best selling authors, we’ll share insider tips from Super Agents Jenny Bent, Kim Whalen, Deidra Knight and Noah Lukeman, along with some secret weapons to help you get your foot in the door. In the second week of class, we’ll help you write (or rewrite) your pitch and/or query letter. Email me privately at for more information.Hope to see you there, it’s going to be a lot of learning and a lot of fun!

Friday, June 19, 2009

This one's for Rita . . .

By Kit Frazier
©Kit Frazier 2009

Chapter One
Redneck Rule of Three

Grandma Jessie used to say there are only three kinds of men in this world: the ones you play with, the ones you stay with and the ones who just need killin’.
With a redneck, you get a three-fer. I know this because I went through all three of these stages with a redneck of my very own.
In the beginning (the play-with and stay-with stages), my own personal redneck could do no wrong. The man practically farted hearts and flowers which is a neat trick if you can get him to do it. But as we neared the killin’ stage, I was tempted to chop off his private parts and duct tape them to his forehead.
Since the law (even in Texas) frowns upon maiming your loved ones, I’ve amended Grandma Jessie’s Rule of Three to include two alternative endings.
The first is that if you can’t beat ‘em, you’re not using a big enough stick. Face it. You’re just gonna have to out redneck your redneck. This isn’t hard, if you have in fact decided your redneck is worth keeping. The trick is to just hang around with a redneck—any redneck—as long as you can possibly stand it, because sooner or later the redneckedness is gonna rub off on you.
And honey, once you’ve been subjected to that level of redneckedness, there’s no amount of Extra Strength Clorox or mega-doses of the Discovery Channel that can scrub the redneckedness out from under your skin.
While greater minds than mine have pondered the meaning and/or classification of redneckedness, a redneck is basically a cowboy who’s gone over to the dark side.
You will know you’re on your way to true redneckedness when you realize that kitchen appliances are merely extensions of garage appliances. A steak knife is as handy as a pocket on a shirt and can be used not only for slicing up a good steak, but also as a screwdriver, a back scratcher, and/or a hammer. Moreover, you learn the true use of major appliances—transmissions go on the bottom rack of the dishwasher, baseball caps go on the top.
The second, and my preferred alternative method, is the Redneck Catch & Release Program. You catch and keep your own personal redneck and do the whole moon-pied, doe-eyed, hearts-and-flowers thing until one day he stays out all night and you have to restrain yourself to keep from Super Gluing his frank to his beans.
And when you’re finally to the point of wanting to back over him with his own tricked-out pickup truck, it’s time to take him back to the auto parts department at the Wal-Mart where you found him in the first place.
This is not to say you can’t still have a little fun at his expense—dancing naked in the backyard around a burning pile of his underwear, for example (I warned you—redneckedness rubs off on even the best of us).
And, after you’ve drunk your bodyweight in Bourbon and Diet Coke and all your good sense ran out the dog door and you decide to go get yourself another redneck, don’t worry. As Miss Jessie used to say, “There’s an ass for every saddle, and another one’ll be along directly.”

Friday, June 5, 2009

Some interesting news . . .

This is from Cindi Myers' weekly Market News . . .

Last week I shared information from the Book Industry Study Group's Making Information Pay 2009 conference about the state of the publishing industry. I want to continue that report this week, with information from Kelly Gallagher, v-p of publishing services at R.R. Bowker , who spoke on "The Customer's Always Right: Who is today's book consumer?" The average book reader last year was 45 years old.
Women comprise 65% of buyers. Of all Americans 13 or older, 50% bought a book last year. The average age of the most frequent book buyer is in the 50s. The average price paid for a book last year was $10.08. Unit sales (number of books sold) for the year to date are down 1.2%.31% of all books purchased last year were impulse purchases, and 28% of purchases involved readers planning to buy a book, but not knowing what they wanted. Thus more than 50% of book buys are impulse purchases. 41% of people earning more than $100,000 a year buy comics and graphic novels. 41% of all books purchased are bought by people earning less than $35,000, and most people in the U.S. earn less than $35,000.The average book reader now spend 15 hours a week online, more than for TV. Digital book sales grew 125% last year and represent 1.5% of the trade. Digital book purchases by those 64 and over rose 183% last year. Seniors are the largest users of Kindles. 48% of e-books are read on computers. Kindles have a 22% market share; the iPhone has 20% of the market. Last year for the first time online became the "No. 1 selling channel," and accounted for 21% of sales.Book clubs are still significant sales channels for reaching older readers.The fiction market is predominantly female. The one area of fiction in which men predominate is science fiction, where 55% of buyers are male.

You can view a slideshow of Mr. Gallagher's presentation at http://tinyurl. com/pqnjy2

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cabinets & Fireplace!

So, Opa was here all weekend, catching boo coo fish! Yesterday when Opa hauled in a big catch I said, "We should have a fish fry!" and Opa took his fish and left before we could get our mits on his catch . . .

In the mean time, R and Opa got the cabinets going, and yesterday R started on the electric.
Today the guys are here working on the fireplace.
Atticus doesn't like all the commotion. Look at that face . . . I feel like that about writing sometimes . . .

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Writers' League Chat

Pitches are like a snapshot of your book. It gives your agent/editor the essence of your novel. You should have three pitches: One line, one paragraph and a short synopsis.

The one-line pitch is like a TV Guide blurb. My one-line pitch for SCOOP was, “It’s a southern-fried Janet Evanovich.”

The one-paragraph pitch is like a back cover blurb. My one-paragraph for SCOOP was “Starting over after a truly bad marriage and armed with a freshly minted journalism degree, Cauley is disappointed to find that the only job she can get in her hometown of Austin is as an obituary writer - something that only happens to interns who've been very good, or reporters who've been very bad. Somehow, Cauley's managed to do both. While on the hunt for a story that will get her off the Death Page, Cauley's life takes a turn for the worse when hapless childhood friend, Scott Barnes, threatens suicide and barricades himself in a dilapidated old shed where he phones Cauley for help. Cauley is soon devastated when she discovers Barnes dead at his computer with an empty bottle of bourbon and a computer-generated suicide note. Soon, Cauley is up to her eyelashes in dead bodies and everyone wants to know what Barnes said in the shed - the last time anyone saw him alive.”

Killer Query
A query is similar to a pitch, but it also provides a snapshot of you, who you are, what you’re writing and why you chose this particular agent.

Queries are three paragraphs limited to one page. The first paragraph is about the agent, the second is about the book, the third is about you. That’s it.

For more insider info, email me about the Perfect Pitch, Killer Query wonline workshop beginning June 1. Mention the Texas Writers’ League and get a $5 discount!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sad news . . .

My goslings are gone. They were getting bigger every day, then one disappeared, then the other.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Back to Writers' League of Texas & Cyndi Hughes

I was horsing around online the other day (which I call Pretend Writing--it feels kind of like writing but is really just goofing off) when I discovered pal Cyndi Hughes (former Texas Book Festival founder) is now the director of Writers' League of Texas!

We went to Threadgill's yesterday (she had veggies and I had a wonderful, heartclogging, inject gravy directly into your veins chicken fried steak) and we talked about the new things going on at the League, including her Build a Book series, that covers everything from sitting your butt down at the computer to getting yourself an agent.

In that vein, I'm going to be on a panel on how to get your self an agent next Thursday, so come on over and meet me there!

Austin Mix & Mingle Happy Hour
5 - 7 PM
Doc's Motorworks Bar & Grill, 1123 S. Congress (two blocks south of the WLT office)
Come get to know fellow members or learn more about the Writers' League. After Happy Hour, join us at the WLT office for our monthly program, "The Big Windup: Prepping Your Pitch, Proposal, and Synopsis."

Saturday, May 9, 2009

How much cuteness can you stand?

So the goslings came up on the island with their mama and daddy, and I just ask you, how much cuteness can you stand???

They didn't even mind R weedeating with that noisy weedeater!

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Geese are Back!

We're out on the property, busting tail and trying to get in the utilities when look who showed up! The Canadian geese are back, and they brought the little ones!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Confessions of a Contest Slut . . .

Nearly a decade ago, I was at bestselling author Julie Ortolon’s house, doing some work for the newspaper we both worked for when I noticed she had rows of framed awards hanging on the walls of her home office.

When I asked what kind of awards they were, she glanced over her shoulder and said, “Oh. They’re awards for romance writing contests.”

I was in awe. I had won writing awards at the newspaper, but the publisher keeps those—you want to look at your own award, you have to actually show up to work, and what fun is that?
But here were these rows and rows of awards bedazzled with glittery gold stars and official seals, proof that she was a writer with a capital “W.”

I knew then and there I had to get me some of those awards for my very ownself.
What I did not know was that contest wins were a ticket to the top of the slush pile, and ultimately how I got both my agent and my first editor.

But contests did something else for me: the judges behind the contests taught me to be a better writer.

Contests can tell you if your story idea and GMC (goal, motivation and conflict) is strong enough to carry an entire book, where to start your story, scene and sequel an proper manuscript format, all things you’re going to have to know before you get The Call.

That day in her office, Ortolon printed out a list of contests she liked based on agent/editor judges and critique value, and bam! I was hooked.

Now I want to help you final in your contest, and how to parlay that win into a contract! Email me at to sign up!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Family, family . . .

Well, it turned out to be a weekend of family! We were going to work on the house, but it was R's dad's 86th birthday party, and most of the 12 children were in attendance (along with their 40-some odd extended family). . . I made my famous Barracho Beans for Saturday, and we had a ball.

We had so much fun we invited the out-of-towners to the house Sunday, and we got a housefull!
Kittie Boy was his usual surly self, but nobody got bit, everyone got a boat ride, and we all had fish, which put Puss Boy in a considerably better mood. Today, however, I paid for his inconvenience . . .

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Texas Sayings . . .

I've been thinking a lot about my dad lately, and we were compilin' a list of Texas sayings when he died. He loved them--they always made him chuckle, and getting an Old Colonel to chuckle is no easy task. I've decided to take up his cause and collect as many as I can.

Some of his favorites were, "Useless as tits on a boar hog," "Richer than ten-foot up a bull's ass," and "Daylight's burnin'!"

What are your favorite southern sayings? Come up with some good ones and we'll vote on who gets the "Not Now! My Muse is Kicking Ass!" tee shirt . . .

Some of my faves are:

I’m gonna give it to ya with both barrels.
That really chaps my hide.
Madder than a long-tail cat in a room full of rockin’ chairs
Look out, she’s havin’ a conniption.
He’s sharpenin’ his saw teeth.
She’s in a sod-pawin’ mood.

I’m so mad I’m gonna cloud up and rain knuckles.
He’s got his tail up.
She’s got her hackles up.
He’s burnin’ like chicken at Baptist barbeque.
Look out, he’s tearin’ up the pea patch.
That just burns my britches.
He’s so mad he could stretch sheet iron.
She’s mad as a wet hen.
I’m mad as a cow with a sore teat.
I’m so mad I could eat a horned toad backwards.
He’d fight ‘til hell froze and skate on the ice.
She jumped on me with all four feet.
He’s madder than a red ant.
She’s so mad she’s sweatin’ steam at every joint.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Roof!

It's raining, but the guys are here doing the roof! Also, our plumber sucks. They know we have to get the house inspected before each draw, and they're hounding us (and we have no control over it) and they did a crappy, crappy job.
They cut giant holes where smaller ones would have done the trick, and mounted the big switch box two feet from where it should have been. When confronted with the poor workmanship, he said, "We gotta do what we gotta do. Where's our money?"

Never using them again . . .

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Atticus's Motto

And don't you forget, bub.

Rainy Days & Sundays Make Me Happy :)

The house is rockin' right along, despite a sub-standard job by the plumbers. And I wish the HVAC people had done as we asked by pushing the unit back as far as possible--we're trying to limit our carbon footprint in many ways, and the biggest is building a house that's more than 1000 sq.ft. smaller than we planned on five years ago.
The cedar post R put in the center of the house is a real treat, and I'm loving the way it looks!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The house and Puss Boy

Once again, Puss Boy is on the prowl, and we're making progress on the house. Not too happy about the plumbers, but we'll see how that goes . . .

Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing

Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing
My friend Pantera with Tahoe & Me

Tahoe and a new friend at the signing