seven lines excerpt. one.

There’s a hashtag making the rounds on Facebook where authors post the first seven lines or seven paragraphs of their work in progress.

I’m going to post several #sevenlines to carry me through the long holiday weekend. Ask any questions you have, and enjoy!

Cary Browning walked out of Bread and Bean, a loaf of warm sourdough tucked in a brown paper sleeve held to his nose, and nearly ran into Priscilla Reddy.

A very pregnant Priscilla Reddy.

“Excuse me,” she said, sidestepping before their feet tangled and one of them, or both of them, tumbled to the sidewalk fronting the Fourth Street foodie boutiques.

Bread and Bean, Bliss, and Butters Bakery occupied the same block—a block that stayed busy not only during the holiday season but year-round. Not a surprise considering the offerings: coffee, fresh-baked bread, artisanal chocolates, cookies, cakes…

It was a wonder there weren’t more foot-traffic accidents what with additional shops opening, others relocating to the growing business district, some, like Butters Bakery, being sold, the previous owners retiring, the new owners expanding into pastries and pies.

Cary didn’t mind the change but then he was part of it.

a way to find books. reviews.

(Don’t forget! You might win a book if you comment on this post:

Just a quick post today as I’ve got a to-do list five yellow legal pad pages long. Yeah. Not all of it has to be done today, obviously. In fact, it’s a to-do list that takes in the whole year of 2018, so it’s pretty broad and it’s all about writing.

In the age of self-publishing, everything runs on data and algorithms, which means one of the absolutely most helpful things readers can do for authors in order to continue seeing books in their favorite series is to leave reviews.

Don’t let that scare you!

A review doesn’t have to be a deep intensive analysis. Something as simple as “great book,” or “loved it,” will drive those numbers that put the books in front of more readers. And the higher the honest star-rating the better, of course!

So I’m curious. Do you leave reviews? Did you know that the more reviews a book has plays into the aggregated data that drives a book’s discoverability?

meeting story people. visually.

We’re having a new a/c unit installed today which means workmen in the attic over my head. So I’ve been outside with pen and paper and it’s been a gorgeous autumn day with lightly clouded blue skies and temps only hitting the mid-sixties.

I’ve been writing on Hope for the Holidays and though I’ve done all the pre-work of learning about these two people, I’m struggling a bit. Part of that is because my writing gears are rusty. And part of it is because I couldn’t settle on their names.

I absolutely must have my names fixed within the first ten pages. Most of the time before I begin. Sometimes, however, I’ll go ahead with what I think works, only to find myself chafing because this person or that person needs a better fitting name.

But these two… I got the names right yet they were still giving me problems. They both have heavy backstories so what I was writing felt real, but it also felt… whiny. Pathetic. Like they’re feeling sorry for themselves when they don’t at all.

And then I realized that even though I’d colored their hair, I had no idea what they looked like. I even changed my heroine’s hair color three times! I used to page through magazines, or even do a Google image search, but not for several years.

My favorite way to see my characters is to find them on modeling sites. And my go-to site is Seattle Models Guild. Of course, they’re beautiful people, ha, but there is always someone of the right age and ethnicity to fit my vision of my peeps.

So this is a link to my hero, and here’s one to my heroine. (I’m linking rather than posting the photos as they are copyrighted images.) I don’t necessarily need readers to see them as I do, but I have to see them to get them on the page!

we live in a zoo. still.

Living in a semi-deserted neighborhood near a creek and a (literally named) Hundred Acre Woods means… animals. We’ve trapped and released two oppossums recently and are working on a tricky racoon.

We’ve also had cats show up. Casper followed one of our cats home.

We almost never see strays. Loose dogs on the streets belong to residents. We’ve returned a couple to their owners.

But having few witnesses around means some people feel free to dump. We’re assuming that’s what happened in this case since this girl had a… female injury when we found her running around the subdivision entrance.

Meet Tootsie.

My older daughter went out to get her and an elderly woman in a pink Monte Carlo *g* stopped to help and gave her a leash. My younger daughter, who works with one of Houston’s largest dog rescue organizations, arranged for her surgery.

Husband and I drove her across town to the animal hospital Thursday afternoon and he picked her up yesterday. At the moment, we’re fostering her as she recovers and awaits her forever home.

She’s a kitty chaser which is obviously an issue, though our headmistress cat is quickly schooling her. Plus, the cone helps.

Thing is, she’s the size of our Snickers, the color of our Duke, and she has the same breed temperament and that dang curly tail as our Takumi who we lost in January.

She’s kind of a fate dog. And she woke me up this morning with a kiss.

a post-harvey. post.

A comment made to one of my recent Facebook posts had me realizing that unless you lived through Hurricane Harvey and are STILL dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, you might have no idea what’s going on down here post-Hurricane Harvey.

For example: In our ten-house circle, we are still the ONLY people in residence. Next-door neighbors are renting a condo. Neighbors to their right are staying in Lake Charles, Louisiana with family.

Neighbors to their right… we talk to them off and on but don’t know where they’re staying. Neighbors to their right are renting a house in a neighboring subdivision so their teens can stay in the same school.

Husband has talked to the dude to our left (on the other side of the main street) and he’s close. But that’s all we know. Then there is us.

Us is now four adults: self, husband, daughter, son-in-law. They were also displaced by the flooding but it kinda worked out since the hubs and the son-in-law are tackling the rebuilding.

The four of us live on the second floor of our home along with our two dogs and their two dogs, our five cats and their four cats. Oh, and now we’re fostering  a dumped stray who just had surgery.

We turned the hubs office into our bedroom. My office is now OUR office AND the living / TV / public room with the sofa that was already up here. We lost our good living room furniture downstairs.

My daughter and son-in-law occupy one of the spare bedrooms, and the final spare bedroom serves as our kitchen and pantry. We have two folding tables and three patio chairs downstairs. Those are usually covered in tools and construction detritus, so we eat in the office.

And, yes. We cook. Enchiladas. Sausage or salmon on the grill. We do buy a lot of rotiesserie chickens but now that we’re settled into what will be a routine lasting several months, we’re doing our best not to eat fast food… though we do order pizza every couple of weeks!

We have a mini fridge and a dorm fridge, a crock pot, a toaster, a can opener, and coffeemaker upstairs. I managed to save my Kitchenaid stand mixer but those are our only small appliances. Downstairs in the construction zone is our wall-mounted microwave and toaster oven.

Since we lost most of our clothes, hubs and I are sharing his office closet. Only a half dozen garments are hanging. The rest are folded and stacked on shelves since we lost our dressers. Somewhere in the garage is a bag of clothes to go to the dry cleaner, but none of those items are daily wear so can wait.

We’re sleeping on a donated mattress and box springs set that is heaven. My wonderful daughter-in-law obtained the bed for us. My daughter and son-in-law have a mattress on the floor. Their clothes are on a bookshelf.

We have three big shelving units in the kitchen-pantry bedroom for the food and the dishes. We use a lot of disposables but wash some upstairs and some down. My knees complain a lot but the hot tub is working once again!

But you know what? We’re doing fine. It’s just a new life that we never expected to be living. I’m so very happy to be in our home with what we have left of our things. And only once in a while do we miss something we’ve lost, but we move on.

We’re sawing and hammering and painting and writing words. We’re building something new. I like it!

let’s start this thing up. again.

(Trivia: I have 3291 blog posts that I’ve set to private; the earliest of those was written 9/12/2002. That’s a LOT of words!)

I’m going to try this again. Blogging. Saying what I want to say where I feel safe saying it because social media these days… ::shudder::

If you read any of those 3291 posts in the past, you’ll know that I talk a lot about writing, my process, what I’m doing, and I’m planning on the same.

For now, however, how about the chance to win some books?!?!?

I’ve had the same website design for too many years to count. I had a designer friend make me a new theme and then I had my daughter start transferring all the old files to the new format. This was probably four years ago… or more!

I finally gave up on trying to launch (on deadline, no time to fix content, barely time to update content), then started up again with a plain WordPress theme last year when I realized things were such a mess.

Lots of annoying internal tech issues dealing with copious amounts of old files, but finally I’ve got the new site up. And everything you need to know NOW instead of THEN has been updated.

To be eligible to win, all you have to do is page through the site and tell me in the comments to this post (NOT on Twitter or Facebook) something you  notice about the site… what you like, what’s broken, what’s missing, what book you had no idea I’d written, which book is your favorite, etc.

Then tell me what available book (Kindle version) you’d like.

You have to do both!

There’s also a surprise book that I haven’t mentioned anywhere yet (that one is NOT eligible to be won) that I’m really excited about. I just have to finish it…

I’ll randomly choose ten winners from all comments posted by midnight CST 11/25/2017.

(Trivia: I post the video below every time I set out on a new publishing adventure!)