Archive | August, 2012

My Dream Headlines

14 Aug

Just for fun, and to give my creativity a little boost, I decided to create some “dream” headlines. I dislike reading the newspaper or watching TV news because almost every story is bad news or a negative take on an event or some new study.

Here are a few of the headlines I would like to see:

Presidential candidates agree to limit their campaign budgets to $1,000,000 each and use any additional donations to pay off student loans.

Auto companies to sell solar powered cars; price within reach for most of us.

Citizens in small Pennsylvania town spontaneously begin to pick up litter; practice spreading throughout the country.

Run on library! Children flock for more reading, allowing teachers to give less homework.

Militants in  — Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Iran (pick one or all of them) — agree that killing is not the best way to solve problems and lay down their arms to talk honestly to each other.

OK. I am a bit of a dreamer, but it was a fun exercise. And I do feel more optimistic just have written my headlines.

Try it! You might come up with an idea for a story or a project, but I guarantee you will feel better.

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Life Gets in the Way

7 Aug

My week suddenly became very busy and blogging time cut down to zero. I am posting a review of The Lost Ones by Ace Atkins that I wrote for Suspense Magazine. I am always happy to celebrate another author’s writing.

The principal characters in The Lost Ones are soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to rural Mississippi, soldiers who have not yet learned to put their guns down. One of them, Sheriff Quinn Colson, has become the chief law enforcement officer of Tebbehah County. Another, Donnie Varner, runs a gun shop and shooting range, and is not averse to making a sale to buyers on the wrong side of the law, a dangerous business, especially when he becomes involved with members of a Mexican drug cartel.

At the same time, Quinn and his deputy, Lillie Virgil, are on the trail of another group of unsavory characters who are in the business of selling Mexican babies.  Their crimes become even more serious when one of the babies dies, and the couple last seen with the child have disappeared along with several other children. They have left a filthy trailer, clear evidence of the treatment the children received, as well as abused dogs penned outside in even worse filth. The sheriff seems to just miss this notorious group every time they reach a new hideout.

The characters in The Lost Ones are as real as your next door neighbors. They live in an economically depressed region of the South, where poverty and political corruption are a way of life. But a novel populated with as many unsavory characters as this one only becomes a great novel when it is clear that even the best characters have their weaknesses, and the worst just may have a “good” quality or two.

Author Ace Atkins takes the reader through many twists and turns as the plot barrels to its dramatic conclusion. The Lost Ones will keep you up until the last page is turned, and leave you satisfied and waiting for the next novel in the Quinn Colson series.

Conversations with Readers

2 Aug

One of the parts of being a writer that I like most is conversations with readers about my books, especially when they have questions about the characters, or want to know what is going to happen in the next book!

Their comments motivate me as a writer, because I want to keep my readers entertained and coming back for more.

Recently a couple of readers commented about a minor character in The Gate House. It is a character that I have especially enjoyed writing about, and I was happy that other people saw in “Elaine” what I did. It also encourages me to write more about her, and I hope to give her a bigger part in a future book.

Another reader has been questioning me about the future of the romance between Nara and Alex, which begins in The Gate House. No way will I give away my secrets! But I was very pleased that my readers care about my characters. It means that they are real to them as they are real to me.

I think it is important as a writer to pay attention to what my readers ask for and comment on. And their feedback motivates me when I sit down to write.

Readers — do you ever write to an author with comments or questions?

Writers — do you listen to your readers’ feedback and take it into account when you write?