Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Valentine’s Day Massacre aka Love, Lace and Lingerie

This happened after Valentine’s day a few years back.

If you really want to get back at a man, drag him through a lingerie department.  Any place that sells women’s undies will do, but for best results, pick one of those speciality shops where the entire store is pink.  Try to find one where the sales clerk looks like his mother.

What is it with men these days?  They may be raised on pin-ups and admit viewing the odd (VERY odd) clip on the net, but drag them through a female gauchie department and watch them turn…well…pinker than the ridiculous teddy set my man bought me recently.

Which is why were in the Lacy Love store in the first place.  Returning it.

“Darling, “ I say, holding up two pieces of flimsy fuchsia lace held together by a two inch thread. “Do these nipple holes serve a purpose, or did you get this in a fire sale?”

“It looked good on the dummy,” he mutters, looking remarkably like a twelve year old.

“Dummies don’t move.  They are made of firm molded plastic.  I am not.  If I could get away with wearing something like this, I wouldn’t need it.”

The sales clerk comes over to the desk where we’re standing.  Correction:  where I am standing and he is cowering.  It’s even better than I hoped.  She looks like his grade nine English teacher.  All six feet of her.

“May I help you,” she says, beady eyes shifting to the chiffon thingy on the counter.  “Returning this?”  She chokes back a snort, then turns and yells, “Hey Gladys!  Take a look at this.  Somebody actually bought it.  Can you believe it?”

She holds it up for everyone to see.  Florescent light shimmers through the nipple holes, casting two adjacent circles on the far wall.  Naturally, the place is packed.  Women peek out from behind change-room curtains.

Gladys, who looks a lot like Maude from Golden Girls, sticks her head out from behind the bras and hoots like a jackal.  “You’re kidding!  I thought we’d never get rid of it.  Present?”  She looks at me sympathetically.

I nod.  The woman next in line looks at my guy as if he is some sort of sex pervert escapee from Penetang.  She backs away, cautiously.

“It doesn’t fit,” I say stoically.  Meanwhile, the ‘original purchaser’ is apparently engrossed in counting ceiling tiles.

“Actually, dear, it’s all marketing,” the sales clerk confides.  “Every Valentine’s Day we get zillions of hapless males in here buying hopelessly little bitty things like this.  And every week after, we get women like you returning the flimsies for store credit.  It keeps us in business.”

The sales clerk shakes her grey head as she writes up the credit note.  Then she looks up at my man – who is quietly trying to sneak out of the store - and peers sternly over her wire-rim glasses.

“Wait a minute.  Weren’t you in my English Lit class in 1981?”

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Why Writers Drink (as stated by someone with good authority...)

Below are the 8 stages of birthing a novel, and why fiction writers drink.


JOY – You are finished your manuscript.  Damn, it’s good!  The best thing you’ve written, and it’s ALL DONE and on deadline!  Time to open the Glenlivet.

ANGST -  You submit manuscript to your publisher.  Yes, even though they’ve already published 5 of your novels, you still don’t know if they will publish this one.  Will they like it?  Is it as funny as you think it is?  Is it garbage?  Glenlivet is required to get through the next few days/weeks.

RELIEF - They send you a contract – YAY!  You are not a has-been!  Your baby, which was a year in the making (not merely 9 months) will have a life!
Glenlivet is required to celebrate.

ASTONISHMENT – The first round of edits come back.  What do they mean you have substantive changes to make?  That story was PERFECT, dammit!  This is the 15th draft, not the 1st.  Commiserate with other writers over Glenlivet in the bar at the Drake. 

CRIPPLING SELF-DOUBT – The changes they require are impossible.  You’ll never be able to keep it funny/full of high tension, by taking out or changing that scene.  What about the integrity?  Motivation? And what’s so darn bad about being ‘too slapstick,’ anyway?  This is comedy! 
Can’t sleep.  Look for Glenlivet.

ACCEPTANCE – Okay, you’re rewriting, and somehow it’s working.  Figured out how to write around their concerns.  New scene is not bad.  Not as good as the original, of course (why couldn’t they see that) but still a good scene.  Phew.  You’re still a professional. 
Professionals drink Glenlivet, right?

 JOY – They accept all your changes!  YAY!  All systems go. This baby will have a life. Celebrate the pending birth with a wee dram of Glenlivet.

 ANGST -  Are they kidding?  THAT’S the cover?  

(Note to readers: The Bootlegger's Goddaughter is at the Publishers!  Contracts signed!  Release date Spring 2017.  Haven't seen the cover yet...)

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

IWSG DAY! Star Ratings - how they haunt us, and what they mean

Welcome IWSGers!  My biggest insecurity?  Star ratings.

When my first novel was published, my mentor told me: “Don’t look at your reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.  Particularly Goodreads.  No, really.  Don’t.  If your book continues to sell, then you know it’s good.  If your publisher buys your next book, then you know it is good.  Don’t  torture yourself by reading the criticism of non-writers.”

I found it next to impossible to follow his advice.  The lure of reviews on your work is pretty strong.

It took ten books – all published by traditional publishers – before I really felt I had a handle on ‘the dreaded review star rating.’  Here’s my list. (My opinion only, everyone. You may have a different interpretation.)

Anatomy of Star ratings

Five stars:  Just one word: Joy!
Bless them, every one.  A million thanks to reviewers who take the time to tell you they loved your book.

Four stars:  Okay, they really liked it. Maybe even loved it.  But even if they loved it, some people  reserve five stars for their very favourite authors, and the masters, like Jane Austen.  And literary writers.  A genre novel is...well…a genre novel.  Not quite as worthy (in some eyes).  But they really enjoyed it.

Three stars:  These are the ones that make me sad.  A reader is telling me that the book was okay.  I want them to think it was great!  Sometimes, this can be a reader who loved your books in another genre, and decided to try this book that is in a different genre, one they don’t normally read.  Often, they will give you that clue in the review (“I don’t normally read scifi”). 

For instance, I have enjoyed Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series very much.  Recently, I tried one of her romantic comedies (classified under the Romance genre.)  I am not a romance reader, and not surprisingly, I found this book lacking in the type of fast-paced plot I enjoy.  I would probably give it a 3 rating, where no doubt a seasoned romance reader would give it a 4 or 5.

Two stars:  These are often people who wandered into your book by mistake.  They thought it sounded interesting, so they bought it thinking it was one thing, and it wasn’t.  They’re mad at having spent money on something that isn’t their thing.  It’s not a happy event when you get these, but understand that these people aren’t your market.

One star:  These are simply people who enjoy hurting others.  Ignore them.  I do.

Here’s my advice, if you find that reviews haunt you, and keep you from writing:

1.  Stop reading them.  Really.  

2.  Never comment on a review.  Never.

3.   If you can, employ a personal assistant to read your reviews as they come in, and forward you the good ones only.  (This is my dream.  One day.)

One more thing: When you give away a book for free, there is a downside: you often get people picking it up who wouldn't normally spend money on that type of book.  Not surprisingly, they might not like it, as they are not your market.  Always expect some poor reviews, if you give a book away.  There are still many good reasons to do so.  Just be prepared.

Check out other great IWSG posts today!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Writing Funny with Frankenpoodle

If Dr. Frankenstein were creating a dog, this is what he might end up with.   Standing 30 inches at the shoulder, Frankenpoodle is a giraffe in a dog suit.

I got my start writing comedy.  Frankenpoodle got his start as the klutzy giant of the litter. No breeding for him.  Instead, he became a canine muse.  Together, we have slogged through eleven novels; me at the keyboard, him on the worn brown chaise beside me.   Both of us snarfing snacks and looking forward to walk time. 

Damn straight, this dog inspires me.  Toker, the big black poodle-cross with the Mohawk hairdo in The Goddaughter’s Revenge, steals the show.  He came back for a cameo in The Artful Goddaughter.

But that’s only the beginning.  A vigilante group leader who also manages the local Humane Society?  Look for Del and her dogs in THE B TEAM, a madcap comedy currently in the works.

This one’s for Frankenpoodle.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Behind THE GODDAUGHTER series...and a few secrets exposed!

Many thanks to Terry Ambrose for hosting this interview which takes us behind The Goddaughter series and exposes a few secrets along the way.

Click here for the link:

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

A smart-talking mob goddaughter who doesn't want to be one. A bumbling mob family that never gets it right. THE GODDAUGHTER CAPER!


“Where’s my box?” I blurted into the phone. Getting Seb’s box back was my absolute first priority.
Pause. Sounds of confused chatter. Mad Magda must have been in the room.
I sighed. “The one that came from my store. Mario and gang picked it up by mistake yesterday.”
“Oh. That box. I think we buried it,” said Jimmy.
“Last night.”
“You buried it?”
“It was a nice service. You would have liked it.”
My box got a funeral?
“It wasn’t supposed to be buried, Jimmy! They took the wrong box.”
More commotion. Mad Magda came on the line.
“Gina, don’t panic. We can unbury it. I know exactly where it is. Meet us at Black Chapel Cemetery at eight tonight. Bring a few strong lads with shovels.”
She rang off.
I stared at the phone in my hand. My inheritance got its own funeral. This family was freaking nuts.

Now Available in Chapters, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and all the usual suspects.


Tuesday, 19 January 2016

It's HERE! THE GODDAUGHTER CAPER Now Available in stores and online

Book 4 in the hilarious award-winning series featuring mob goddaughter Gina Gallo,
who is having a hard time leaving the family business.
Now Available in Chapters, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and all the usual suspects!

Strange things are happening in Steeltown. 
A body shows up in the trunk of Gina's car. 
Another is mistakenly delivered to her cousin Nico's store.
And then Gina and Nico stumble across a stash of empty coffins! 
Worse, everything points to her own retired relatives at the Holy Cannoli Retirement Home....

What critics have said about The Goddaughter:
“Just right for Janet Evanovich fans…impossible not to laugh”  Library Journal
“Hilarious”  Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

On Amazon