Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Public broadcastingImage via WikipediaThis was my first day back in the Real World, and I celebrated by dragging myself out of bed at 5:00 a.m. to do a stint on WUFT/WJUF FM.

Yes, it's time for the Spring Membership Campaign! Unlike last year when we had our record breaking unlikely-to-ever-be-repeated $16,000 morning, we had a more modest but respectable $4,000 morning. I was assured this was very good for a Tuesday in the middle of the drive, and I'm willing to accept that. Today in honor of Earth Day we pushed thank-you gifts like a lovely Florida butterfly gardening book, reusable totes, and a guide to scenic North Florida. We did good and did well.

As always, it was fun being back on the air. I miss my radio days. Not the days of sitting through long land use meetings or getting called out in the middle of supper to go to a fire, but being on the air. Let's face it, there's a lot of egoboo in broadcasting and it still tickles me that people recognize me by my voice--just the other day I was in a check-out line and the older woman at the cash register said, "Didn't you use to do the morning news?" After 26 years away from the mike, she still recognized my voice.

I'll be back in the fall for another membership drive, but until then, if you listen to public radio, don't forget to pledge your support. After all, as I'm sure you've heard before, you are the public in public radio. And we'll send you a nice mug or tote bag as a thank-you gift.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Did you go through withdrawal yesterday because the "Smart Bitches Trashy Books" site was down? I know I did. They're back up and running. Click on their link at the blog and check out their new awesomeness.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

One of two surviving copies of the 1812 broadside printing of the Defense of Fort M c Henry, a poem that later became the national anthem of the United States.Image via WikipediaI love the serendipitous moments that occasionally fall into your lap. Today I realized that if my WIP's current action is set around autumn 1814, I might be able to work in the burning of Washington and the battle of Fort McHenry. Sure enough, my dates coincided and suddenly I had a whole new scene referencing that action, and the writing of the Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key.

These may be my favorite moments while I'm writing. When something "clicks" and a scene takes shape and everything makes sense once again.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Albert and Alberta in the Swamp (Florida Field). Image captured by :en:Tampa Gator September 2004.Image from WikipediaGo Gators!

And here you thought they were for decorative purposes only. Alligators save the world, here.

Friday, April 04, 2008

USS Porter undergoing sea trials.Image from Wikipedia
I was reading a news story today about modern day pirates taking a French luxury yacht off the coast of Somalia. As I scrolled down, this caught my eye:

"The U.S. Navy has led international patrols to try to combat piracy in the region. Last year, the guided missile destroyer USS Porter opened fire to destroy pirate skiffs tied to a Japanese tanker."

This made me grin, because Commodore David Porter was the head of the US Navy's anti-piracy campaign of the 1820's, and a character in my novel, Captain Sinister's Lady.

I believe Porter would have found it most appropriate that the ship named in honor of him and his naval hero son, Admiral David Dixon Porter, be used in the battle against today's pirates.
Today was my day to blog at the HEA Cafe, so I thought I'd share it here as well:

I’m not as far along as I’d like with my WIP (Work in Progress) because I sent a partial to my agent, and he sent back a note saying, essentially, “Kill the backstory and start with someone bleeding.”

When I saw this I slapped myself upside the head and said “D’oh!” because it took me back some years to when I worked in news. I’ve been a news reporter, radio news anchor, radio news director and producer of the local TV news. There’s a nasty little saying in broadcasting: “If it bleeds, it leads.” This means if you have a shooting, horrific accident or tornado, it goes at the top of the newscast. In a newspaper, it’s called “Over the fold”.

There’s a reason for this: You want to grab peoples’ attention and hold it. A story about the proposed tax hike is important to everyone in the county, but it’s a snoozefest–unless you can tie it to some poor schlub who’s going to lose the little hardscrabble piece of land his family’s owned since they settled it before the Civil War. That’s exciting! That grabs attention! It tugs at your heart-strings!

It’s just like the first and most basic rule of newsgathering: “Dog bites man isn’t news. Man bites dog is.” Get the reader’s attention by showing her something she's not expecting. The ordinary isn’t news, the out-of-the-ordinary is news. One of my best journalism professors would snidely scrawl “So what?” in red ink across my news stories if all the facts were correct, but the story was b-o-r-i-n-g.

And he was right. It’s the same thing with writing your novel. “Make someone bleed!” is good advice. Don’t get sucked into loading your backstory up front because your reader 1. Likely doesn’t need as much information as you think she needs and 2. You can work it into the story down the road. Make the reader ask “What? How did she get onto a pirate ship? How’s she going to stay alive on a pirate ship? Is that guy going to die?”

They’ll keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. You can always insert details of her terrible childhood later. Think about all the exciting books you’ve read, the ones that kept you up past your bedtime ‘cause you had to find out what happened next–if you can hook ‘em at the beginning and keep the excitement rolling, the reader will stay along for the full ride.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008



I was reviewing what I'd written yesterday and realized, once again, I'd spent two pages telling instead of showing.

This is one of those basic fiction writing rules that doesn't change--99% of the time, showing your story is better than telling your story. So I went back and I re-wrote it, and it is, of course, substantially better.

But dang, this writing stuff's hard work! Why didn't anyone warn me about that?