Thursday, July 28, 2011

Blow Torch Pizza

So we had pizza tonight.  A very good pizza I might add.  Pretty much on par with the best pizza I've had to date in a little restaurant in Minneapolis.  But I'm betting this pizza didn't get cooked quite like that one.

I'm not the cook in the family.  Apparently, I'm not creative enough because I never would have thought of this! 

It wasn't barbequing a pizza that I wouldn't have thought of.  Although, I have to admit, that as a method of cooking  I would have chosen the oven.  Still, a barbeque is reasonable enough - it was the blow torch that really got my attention.  Apparently the bottom was cooking much faster than the top and voila, a little blow torch cooking solved the problem!

It was rather a surreal moment when I looked outside and saw the look of concentration as with blow torch in one hand and spatula in the other, supper was being prepared.  I may even have taken a step back.

However, if that blow torch was responsible for any of that flavor, then I'm all for sticking the for sale sign on that stove and going for the gusto.

I may be a pinch-hitting cook but as I've said before there's as much creativity in cooking as in writing, just a different kind.  Today, while I wasn't hauling out tools from the garage I was attacking a problem story from a different angle. 

There was a bit of a block in the current story, things weren't flowing as they should.  I was frustrated.  I'd been frustrated for days and using every diversion possible.  I vaguely, in a moment of complete story-induced insanity, considered my mother's newly acquired beautifully cased obsolete typewriter which she graciously offered.  While I love the idea of the sturdy feel of a typewriter and completely loved the retro blue colour, the reality?  I think that typewriter would not only up my frustration level but cause me to unleash my frustration on more mayhem than my characters were prepared for.  My options seemed to shrink into a creative noose.  Outlining my characters meal schedule for the next three weeks in detail didn't seem a solution either.

So what was the problem?  The first chapter was great, any number of people said so.  And those that didn't say so - hey, I wasn't listening to them.

The problem was the beginning - I knew that.  I'd always known that.  I just didn't know how to get the momentum back.  The first chapter had been pruned into a too neat final draft and the chapters that followed, not so much.  In fact some of them, not at all.  And I was stuck in the mire of what remained unable to start weaving it all back together again.

I whined.  I ground my teeth and I dodged the issue. 

That's when I discovered the problem, not only was I acting like a victim, I was allowing my characters to as well.  This story had taken me over the proverbial barrel because it had seen no resistance.  It was time to haul this sucker back.

I mentioned weaving before and that's exactly where I went, right back to the beginning to weave the rough with the good and haul a character or two out of a slough.  It was a new way of looking at a story but this story has been different from the start.  I shouldn't expect it to change now.  Kind of like cooking that pizza, I just had to change course and come up with a new way to lead my characters safely to an ending we'll all love.  The solution isn't as dramatic as the blow torch but in the end it will work just as well.

And as far as cooking, I shouldn't leave the complete impression that I'm only a pinch-hitter.  I cook - just not that frequently.  Breakfast for one although, the family cook has again proven that he can blow my scrambled eggs out of the water.  However, I must say that I still hold the record for most inventive dog food recipes and best dog biscuits.  And if the dog would quit begging for that last piece of blow torch pizza I might even get him to back me up.

Any creative solutions in your day? 


Monday, July 18, 2011

Canary In A Coal Mine

Writing is a many faceted endeavor - more so than I ever anticipated when over a decade ago I told myself it was time to take that lifetime dream, those little scraps of muse driven first lines and half written novels, and get serious.  Then, I thought it was all about the writing.  Silly me.

I never factored in the octopus that is the writing industry.  It's not a natural octopus either for its arms  are not a stable eight but an unstable labyrinth of mutating possibilities.  Promotion alone could make an author lose sleep at night and that's not thinking about it but actually doing it - being online, addressing one more possibility, one more potential reader connection.   And that's where the octopus starts to mutate.

While promotion could choke you if you let it - in the end I know it is all about the writing.   But there is the fact that you have to get the writing under the nose or preferably noses of people willing to read it. 

It's a full-time job some days juggling all those balls.  For those who have made it - there's assistants.  For the rest of us, there's those wonderful people who volunteer and just quietly step in and fill a role.  When it comes to my blog I count on one person.  She's my self-appointed canary.  And she was singing pretty loudly the other day when she e-mailed me not once but three times and that's before I had even responded to the first e-mail with the news that my blog was not opening properly in her browser.  Not news I wanted to hear on that day but definitely news I needed to hear, and quickly.

Like a canary in a coal mine, sometimes we just need a friendly voice rerouting before we hit a derailment.  


Saturday, July 16, 2011

And the Grief Goes On

If it plugs into a wall this week I want nothing to do with it.  That goes for computers, TV's and any other electronic device including those that allege that batteries aren't the same as plugging directly into an electrical outlet.  They're from that family - that family of gadgets that has caused me nothing but grief these last few days.

In fact I'm so annoyed I might just consider using a pen or at the very least, a good old-fashioned typewriter!

After wrestling with the computer, I decided to record a show for later.  And another wrestling match ensued when record refused to comply.  Not even dire threats of bodily harm would change its little electronic heart.  I finally realized that I have the upper hand and disconnected it from the wall.  It's amazing what a good old-fashioned jump start will do.

Boa Constrictor - Singapore
But the biggest annoyance of all this week was my blog.  Blogger had me yanking my hair out - maybe not literally but I sure was considering it.  I imagine it was rather like wrestling with an uncooperative snake?  What happened?  Well, I took a risk.  You can't get anywhere if you don't take a risk and sometimes if you take a risk, you can't get far.  The risk I took wiped out my sidebar information and half my post.  Not good when hosting an author on book tour.  With traffic for the day higher than normal I didn't risk reposting - after all considering the day so far - who knew what might happen next.  So I made do with a temporary patch and limped through the day.

Electronics and me this week are on the outs.   Although I'm pleased to report that today we've returned to speaking terms.  The blog is up and running - properly.  I discovered that a complete wipe out and retype of the last post combined with a deletion of the post just prior, which proved to be the originating problem - only an hour or two or three or... of work and research - solved the problem.

What I've learned from this fiasco - besides the fact that sometimes a fix really is a case of luck and a jump start.  The one big lesson - never trust code you didn't enter yourself and never trust the fact that just because the post looks great on one browser that it looks good on them all.  A lesson learned the hard way. 

Now it's Saturday, blistering hot and with the problem that irked me for so many hours resolved, its time to kick back and enjoy the rest of the weekend. 

The question is do I dare hit publish on this post - or would that be pushing my luck too far?

Guess what - I'm going for it.

You - what do you do when it looks like luck might be waffling?


Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Innocent Witness - Virtual Tour (Duplicate of Original)

Author Terri Reed
This was a duplicate post but the technical issue that caused its creation has been fixed!  Insert dance jig here!  Consider this the original even with the duplicate qualifier above -  I'm slightly afraid of messing with the title.   Ryshia

Today I'm welcoming author Terri Reed.  Terri is here as part of the tour for her new release "The Innocent Witness".

Terri will be giving away a $25 Visa gift card to one lucky commenter over the course of this tour.  So if you haven't commented yet, start now and follow the remainder of the tour and up your chances of winning!  I'll post the remaining tour sites and dates at the bottom of this post.  But now on to Terri.

"Thank you for hosting me on my Virtual Book Tour," Author Terri Reed.

"Happy to have you here Terri.  It's always fun to showcase an author and a new great read and "The Innocent Witness" looks like it will deliver just that."  Ryshia

Let's start things off with Terri's answer to this teaser - the only requirement I threw in was that her answer must be about a trip, of course, that trip could be as mundane as a trip to the local grocer.

Here's what Terri had to say in regards to:

Life Hasn't Been Quite the Same Since...
I was eighteen.  The summer after high school I went to live in Italy for three months as an exchange student.  I stayed with a lovely family in the town of Fabriano, in the province of Ancona, located in the Marche region of central Italy.  The town is famous for the art of paper production.  Of course at the time I had no idea what that meant.  Now, I realize the specialness of the town and the history of the area.

That summer was the first time I was away from home by myself without friends or family.  I remember stepping off the train in Fabriano and feeling utterly alone.  It was the strangest sensation and one I will never forget.  The beauty of the town and the countryside overwhelmed me.  It was nothing like the west coast of California where I was raised.  The Italian family I lived with welcomed me with open arms and I quickly felt comfortable as I acclimated to my new surroundings.

There was a daughter my age who spoke English and she taught me enough Italian to get by.  She and I and a couple of her friends took off and toured the country.  It was a summer of fun and adventure as we explored Italy from the Adriatic Coast to Venice to Florence.  It was exciting and scary all at once.  And it started in me a love of travel that has never ceased.

Blurb for The Innocent Witness:
Faith sustained Vivian Grant through her horrible childhood and loveless marriage, but how much more can she take?  Her husband has been killed.  Her autistic son is the only witness.  And someone is twisting the evidence to place the blame on her.  Viv has no one to trust--and danger is closing in.

A failed protection detail cost former Secret Service agent Anthony Carlucci his job--and his self-confidence.  He's not going to fail anyone under his care again.  Anthony will risk anything to keep Viv and her son safe...including his heart.

 Excerpt from the Innocent Witness:
      Probing, coffee-colored eyes assessed her from beneath lashes most women would give their eyeteeth for.  A roman nose and blunt jaw completed the face that could rival Michelangelo's David.  The stranger was dressed in a black custom-tailored suit, if she wasn't mistaken, with a crisp white dress shirt and a thin black tie.  Ray Ban sunglasses hung from the breast pocket of his suit jacket.

      He had broad shoulders and a trim waist.  His black slacks hung just right over his polished black dress shoes.  He looked like he'd stepped out of an advertisement from the pages of a GQ magazine or was the poster boy for the federal government.  Like Will Smith and Lee Jones in Men in Black.  The two agents who'd taken her for a ride last night had nothing on this guy.

      Viv narrowed her gaze as suspicion and wariness infiltrated her mind.  She didn't trust anyone right now.  "Dad, you called the feds?  After what they did?"

      "What?  Oh, no, no.  Not to worry, my girl.  You'll be in good hands.  Carlucci's no longer with the government."

      Carlucci arched a raven-colored eyebrow ever so slightly.  He held out his hand.  "Anthony Carlucci.  I'm with Trent Associates.  your father has apprised us of the situation."

       Her gaze flickered to his outstretched hand then back to his face.

      "The situation being that I found my husband murdered and then fake FBI agents drove me to a secluded place where they were going to do...who knew what?"

      "Exactly," her father said.  "Trent Associates specialized in personal security.  Mr. Carlucci has intimate knowledge of Washington politics and law enforcement."

      "Really."  She couldn't keep her doubts out of her tone.  Just how was this going to play out?

About Terri Reed:
      Award winning, multipublished author Terri Reed discovered the wonderful world of fiction at an early age and declared she would one day write a book.  Now she is fulfilling that dream and enjoys writing for Love Inspired.  She is an active member of both Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers.  She resides in the Pacific Northwest with her college-sweetheart husband, two wonderful children, and an array of critters.  When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, gardening and playing tennis.

      You can write to Terri at P.O. Box 19555 Portland, OR 97280 or visit her online at www.loveinspired or email her at or leave comments on or

Want to follow the remainder of Terri's tour?
  7/15/2001  Theresa Stillwagon

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pry My Hands From the Keyboard - Now!

Today I should not be at the keyboard.  You know one of those days when you try to catch up on that boring admin stuff and all you make is piddly, stupid little errors.  It doesn't matter how many cups of coffee I drink, the errors continue.  Little things that mean a lot.  You know the days when you know it's the month of July but your fingers insist on typing June?  When your brain insists that it's the 12th of July even though your computer is burning a hole in your screen with the actual date - July 13. 

What's with that?  Could it be that yesterday I declared that if today was hot it would be a vacation day?  Today is hot!

And here I sit at the computer preparing a post for tomorrow which is a visit by an author on a book tour.  Note:  this isn't one of the boring admin duties to which I referred.  I actually love doing this!  It's fun for me and helpful to other authors - everyone wins.  So, in case you haven't caught what's going on tomorrow, I'm featuring author Terri Reed and her latest, "The Innocent Witness."  Which, I'm sorry Terri, but I managed to post that as The Silent Witness" and couldn't get that name out of my head.  I've corrected that now - another case of, it's one of those days. 

One of those days - why now?  - why today? 

I'm sensing my subconscious at play here demanding that promised vacation and playing havoc with my fingers' connection to my brain.  Ah well, as far as tomorrow's visit, everything is posted correctly and ready to go. 

Now I'm looking at the mailing list update for my newsletter and thinking - nope, opening an excel spreadsheet right now would be fatal.  Who knows who I might be sending an e-mail to.  Even my computer seems to be a little off its game as it spins one unresponsive script after another.  And I gave up research on the current WIP a few hours ago.

What do you do on one of those days?   Me, I think I'm raiding the fridge for an early lunch and heading out into the sunshine.  I've created enough havoc for one day.  Fortunately, so far it's all been correctable.