Sunday, July 29, 2012

Let's Play "Analyst Armchair"....

Are we fascinated with serial killers?   I know I am...I write about them.  Granted, mine are fictional, but still.  They've been around since the 1800's, starting with Jack the Ripper.  In truth, they were probably around even earlier than that, but it wasn't widely known or reported to the public.

They kill with wanton abandon...without consequence...without mercy.   Perhaps we envy their ability to have no conscience?  They stalk their prey, always for their own twisted reasons, but still we wonder.  We want to know how they tick.  Did they have a dysfunctional childhood?  Is that really an acceptable fallback anymore?  Honestly, to some degree, we all have those.

Has it grown worse in the last few decades?  Are we "producing" more?  Or does it merely appear that way, thanks to 24/7 news coverage?

Hollywood even gets into the act with movies about them..."American Psycho," "Silence of the Lambs," "Seven," and the popular franchise, "Saw."

Do we sympathize or vilify?   Maybe we do both...we try to understand the all important question...WHY do they do it?  Is it compulsion?  A need they're trying to fulfill?  Two examples would be Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy.

My 'analyst armchair' says Dahmer had a need for people not to leave him.  Was it due to his parents' divorce?  He didn't want his victims to leave...he kept their hearts (and other body parts) in his freezer.

Ted Bundy was cunning and shrewd.  He was the 'everyman.'  The guy that appeared honest...who needed help since he pretended to have broken limbs in order to gain the trust of his victims.  He had a sense of entitlement.  He was smart and outwitted police for some time.

Sit in the 'analyst armchair' and tell me YOUR thoughts and diagnosis.....


Friday, July 27, 2012


I must start this interview by saying I've gotten to know Marcia better over the last week, and she is one great lady.  She's down to earth, funny, and very generous.  I'd like to thank her for taking the time to stop by.

Marcia Clark, a former prosecutor who gained fame as the head prosecutor in the OJ Simpson murder case, added the title of author to her resume several years ago.  She writes a series of successful books based on the character, Rachel Knight, who happens to be a Deputy District Attorney.  I've had the pleasure of getting hooked.  I recommend you begin this series with the first one, "Guilt by Association"

What made you want to become a writer?  Where did the idea of Rachel Knight come from?

I’ve always wanted to write fiction, and specifically crime fiction, ever since I was a kid and found myself addicted to Nancy Drew. But I didn’t have the confidence to take the plunge and try to make a living at it. In hindsight, I think my addiction to crime stories probably had something to do with my decision to practice criminal law. I knew that was what I’d do from the first month in law school. Then I joined the D.A.’s office and well, you know…

I didn’t revisit my childhood dream of becoming a novelist until I’d done some writing for television. I think that experience gave me the confidence to give it a shot. 

The idea of Rachel Knight came straight out of my life as a prosecutor. The life of a real prosecutor, the one I had before the insanity of the Simpson trial. I wanted to relive – and share with everyone – the incredible experience of being a prosecutor in the Special Trials Unit in Los Angeles. 

How long did it take you to write the first book?

There were actually a few “first” books before I got to Guilt by Association.  I took a lot of runs at it before I got to the point where I had the right mix of characters and plot. But once I put that mosaic together, it took me about nine months. I think it would’ve taken a lot less time had I not been carrying a full case load at the time. I do court appointed cases on appeal, which is all written work, no trials. The good news about doing appellate work is that you can write your own hours. The bad news is that the hours total about eighty per week. So I did a lot of midnight to four a.m. sessions on the book.

Where do you get your character inspirations come from?

They all came from Rachel. I envisioned her first, then built outward from there, asking myself, “who would she be friends with?” And, in the course of the story, I always plot it out based on what would really happen next, and who might Rachel and Bailey run across as they investigate. I also had to figure out where Rachel lived. A character’s living situation is an important means of showing who he or she is. So I asked myself, “where would Rachel live?” Rachel has close friends, but she acquired them slowly, over time. Her early childhood trauma left her guarded, wary, and desirous of anonymity. 

Taking those traits into account I…well, wait, true confession time: there was another consideration that came into the mix. My own fantasy. I am not a big fan of housework and cooking, so I thought, “wouldn’t it be cool if she lived in a five star hotel?” That seemed like a realistic fit for Rachel, given her “issues” and so I found a way for Rachel to live at the Biltmore Hotel, which is a landmark hotel in downtown L.A., close to the courthouse. In the second book, “Guilt by Degrees,” I gave Rachel an upgrade to a suite, so she could have her best friends, Detective Bailey Keller and fellow prosecutor, Toni LaCollette, crash with her after a night of partying.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

For the first draft, I make myself sit and write nonstop for at least six hours a day, six to seven days a week. I write continuously so I can keep a feel for the pacing and stay inside the story. Once I’m through the first draft, I take as much time away from the book as I can before I do the first rewrite so I can bring fresh eyes.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?  If so, do you have some tips to break the spell?

I never have writer’s block. Ideas flow freely and constantly and all I have to do is dip a ladle into that stream for the next book or story. Doubling over with laughter now. Hold on, I’m still laughing, I need to take a second.

Okay, I’m back. Do I ever have writer’s block? Every single day. I don’t have any magical answers for how to break through. My way is simple and painful: I make myself sit in front of the computer and bang out every stupid idea that comes to mind until something decent falls out. I won’t necessarily stay with whatever I land on, but that “system” seems to get the juices flowing. Eventually.

Can you tell us about any challenges getting your first book published?  

I traveled a weird and backwards road to publication. When I finally finished writing “Guilt by Association,” I realized I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t have an agent, didn’t know any publishers – in fact, didn’t know anything about the publishing business. All my professional writing experience had been in television. So I asked my dear friend, Lynn Reed, an avid reader who had been involved in book clubs and blogs, for advice. She introduced me to award winning literary fiction writer Katharine Weber, who introduced me to then-Random House editor, John Glusman. And John really liked the book. He told me I had to have an agent and set me up with interviews. I got lucky and scored the best agent in the universe (let me tell you, those interplanetary interviews are a bitch), Dan Conaway at Writer’s House, and Judy Clain at Little, Brown/Mulholland Books, the best editor in the universe (again, lots of space travel involved). Though I didn’t wind up with John Glusman, I really loved him and would recommend him to anyone looking for a terrific editor.

Do you have any advice or suggestions for aspiring writers?

The best advice I can give is the advice Stephen King gave in his fantastic book, “On Writing:” READ. Read every day, read everything, read the good as well as the bad. He’s right that you learn more from the bad stuff than the good. And of course, write. Write every day. Don’t worry about whether it’s Proust, just put pen to paper or rather, hands to keyboard, as long as you can, every day. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do, but don’t expect writing to be an easy ride to fame and fortune. In the years before I got published, I spent more nights than I want to remember working away until three and four a.m., wrapped in a blanket, bleary-eyed and wrung out, and wondering whether anyone would ever read a single word I’d written. Writing is lonely, hard work. At the time I figured it was probably just me, that the people who made a living at it could bang out books blindfolded, with one hand on the keyboard. I’ve since learned – after reading what those authors said, and I don’t think they’d lie about it – that it’s hard work for everyone. That was comforting. I guess. 

What do you like to do for fun, when you’re not busy?

Mainly read. Though lately I’ve also discovered the joys of Twitter. When marketing director Miriam Parker first signed me up and gave me tweeting tips, I didn’t really get it. I just couldn’t figure out what I’d have to say that would be interesting to anyone else. Eventually, I decided not to worry about that. Laughing. And it’s been great fun meeting people there, hearing what they’re doing, what they’re thinking. In many ways, it’s what we get from reading books: the ability to experience things vicariously and discover new ways of seeing the world from our living room.

What project are you working on these days?

I just turned in my third book, “Killer Ambition.” I’m starting work on a short story, due out next spring, and my fourth book. And TNT has just optioned my books for a one hour drama series – very exciting! I’m attached as an Executive Producer and Dee Johnson, Executive Producer and Showrunner is writing the pilot script even as we speak.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your attention?

I can’t think of any “debut” authors, but one of my recent finds is Sean Chercover. His latest book, “The
Trinity Game,” comes out July 31st, and I got to read an advance copy. It’s sensational! I loved it

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

Thank you so much for reading my books, and for your support. And I’d love to hear from you on Twitter (thatmarciaclark) and Facebook (thatmarciaclark), so come on over any time! And Dawn, thank you for this interview!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My Butterfly...

OK it's just weird, but in a great way.  Remember how I had an experience with a butterfly several weeks ago?  I had another today.

I parked my car in the lot, at work, and noticed the same type of butterfly just hanging out, on a rusty pole.  It opened and closed its wings several times.  I greeted it with a happy hello and wondered if it was yet another sign.

About two hours later, I went to my car, and it was still there, in the same spot.  I asked it, "Are you a sign of positivity and good things for me?"
It fluttered its wings again.

I took it as a "yes."  :)

The USA Network...

One of my writer friends recommended writing for E-Zine online, so I gave it a's my first published article.  Since I love TV and movies, and I LOVE most of the shows on the USA Network, I did a piece about it...check it out and let me know what you may think about the network, if you're a fan.  Which are your favorite shows?

E-zine Article on USA Network

Monday, July 23, 2012


I just finished an amazing book by Bill O'Reilly entitled  "Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever"

As he notes in the introduction, this is a departure from his other books.  He says it reads like a thriller, and it DOES.  Even though we all KNOW the ending, I still found myself hanging on every word when it got to the day of the assassination.

For those interested in history, the civil war, or President Lincoln, it doesn't disappoint.  I never had an interest in history when I was in school, but now it fascinates me.  I admit my ignorance when I say I had no idea how doggedly determined General Lee was, or how the burning of Richmond, VA by it's OWN citizens, may have been the cause of the South's defeat.

Rather than getting mired in too many details, this book focuses on major battles in dramatic fashion.  It's easy to follow and very entertaining.

John Wilkes Booth's massive, intricate plans for not only killing Lincoln, but everyone involved in the North's success at the end of the war, was mind-boggling.  The accomplices he amassed reminded me of the 9/11 hijackers, plotting furiously for attacks to take place all at the same time.

I recall visiting our capitol many years ago as a youngster.  We were at Ford's theater and even the humble home where Lincoln died.  Naturally, I didn't comprehend or appreciate it as I might today.

Out of a possible 5 stars for this book, I give it a wholehearted 5 !!  

In fact, O'Reilly is coming out with a similar book,  "Killing Kennedy"  in October.  Needless to say, I've already reserved my copy!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Quote for Today....


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How do YOU read?

A heated debate has long been raging between traditional publishing and e-publishing.  It seems the “Big 6,” as the NYC traditional publishers are called, continue to fight against the stream.  With the dawn of e-readers and ways for writers to publish their own work, it has given hungry readers many more choices.   I have my own indecision on where I’ll land.  I still have that idealistic vision of submitting to publishers.  I think that’s how I’ll begin, when I’m ready.

My question to you is this….how many of you have kindle, nook, etc?  Any electronic device by which you read?  How many of you still prefer the feel of a book in your hands?   Or, do I also have fellow audiobook users out there?  That’s my preferred method these days.  I belong to a club that works the same as Netflix, where I essentially rent a book, listen, then return it for another.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Escape the World for Five Minutes.....

This is awesome to behold!  It gave me chills as more and more members joined in.  I hope you enjoy this nice distraction from the 'real world' for five minutes  :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012


I've got another author interview lined up in the next week.  Marcia Clark, a former prosecutor who gained fame as the head prosecutor in the OJ Simpson murder case, added the title of author to her resume several years ago.  She writes a series of successful books based on the character, Rachel Knight, who happens to be a Deputy District Attorney.  I've had the pleasure of getting hooked.

She has graciously agreed to be interviewed stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Hey, all of my writer friends!  PLEASE consider attending this webinar!  I attended a month ago, and it was absolutely amazing!  The two teachers were awesome and MEAN it when they say they are there for you.  Tam McCallan has become a true mentor to me and helped me tremendously with my own Work in Progress (WIP).  She's an easy going person whose philosophy is to pay things forward, and she really DOES.  She has read my manuscript and given me insights I never thought of, without asking for a single thing in return!  Believe me, if you attend one of her seminars, you'll have a friend for life and thank me!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"This Isn't Show & Tell" .......

I literally have two huge stacks of writing books on my coffee table.  I've been reading like crazy - in addition to my regular reading - I've been sprinkling that with books on my craft.  It's my latest obsession.  My husband will have to build me a new bookcase soon just to shelve them all.  Each one has nuggets of great information, and I drink them all in.  

They tell me how to write a great scene, how to write sparkling dialogue, how to create memorable characters, and so on.  One of the common themes is to SHOW not TELL. 

I'm a fan of Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware series.  Today, I started the latest one,  "Victims."  These are all written in the first-person POV, who happens to be Alex Delaware.  This book began with nothing BUT  "showing" and yet still managed to hold my interest.  I never noticed these types of things before getting serious about my writing.  I just knew I loved his books.  Since teaching myself to be more aware of how other authors write, I view books, and even movies, differently.

Alex is called to the scene of a murder.  He explains to the reader what the body looks like, what was done to it, what the apartment looks like, etc.  He also tells us what the landlord looks like, so we can picture him in our minds.  None of this is done with dialogue, as are other passages in the book when it comes to describing places and other characters.

I'm curious to hear others' opinions on what's wrong with doing this.  Obviously nothing, since he's an established author - at least, that's my guess.  However, us newbies are told NOT to do it.  I know there are exceptions to rules, but can anyone else give some experiences you've had?  Perhaps you've already got some books under your belt, and you've already dealt with publishing, so I'd love to hear from you.  

Friday, July 6, 2012

Out of the Mouths of Babes....

There is something to a cliche.  They're in existence because there's truth to them.   I was on the phone with my 8-year old niece the other day.  My sister-in-law obviously told her that her aunt is writing a book, so she asked me... "You're writing a book?  What's it about?"  

Me... UMMMM nothing like being backed into a corner by a kid's question I was ill-equipped to answer!  I told her it's about scary people doing bad things

My niece.... "What kinds of things?"

Me .... DOUBLE ummmmm .... death, murder, serial killers?  eeeek!!  I told her... "Oh just scary stuff."  

How lame am I?  After the call, I promptly emailed my sis-in-law to thank her for that!  Thank goodness she and I are close, so she found it did I...although not in the moment.  In the moment, I was like a deer in headlights!  (ahhh there, another cliche!) 

Writers are supposed to avoid cliches like the plague...oops I keep doing hopefully, you'll never witness me writing another one :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Book Review....I Think

I suppose this is a book review, though I'm not sure.  Perhaps it's just an observation.  I'm 2/3 of the way through "Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero" by Michael Hingson, and I'm disappointed.  I checked out Amazon's reviews, and I'm not alone in my thinking.  

As interesting as the story is, it's not as advertised.  It follows a blind man and his guide dog, who walked from the 78th floor of the World Trade Center on 9/11, after the tower was hit by an airplane.  Only that isn't really what it's about.  That's how it was portrayed, but the essence of the story is more focused on his blindness and how it never deterred him in life.  While that's a great story, I hoped for more about 9/11 and his dog.  Mostly the dog :)

I'm a dog lover, as some of you may know.  Therefore, I'm a sucker for any kind of dog story!  That's why  I'm feeling a tad so-so about this one, only because they should have described the book better.  If they had, I wouldn't have been picked it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Have I Arrived?

Hmmm....just a thought....does it mean I've arrived since I've come across several trolls already commenting on my blog?  LOL

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Try This! Something New.....

Let's try something new, interesting, and fun...I'll post a picture, and you can post me  3-4 sentences based on what you see.   Pretend you're a character in a novel and see where it goes...I can guarantee each one of you will have a different POV (point of view), which makes it even better...before you know it, you'll be writing a story! I'll start you off with mine.

John cast his fishing pole for the fifth time and blew out a breath.  Would he ever get the hang of this?  He was glad no one else was here to see his failings.

YOUR turn......  :)

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Writer's Crazy Life.......


Whoever thought (or thinks) it’s a simple, idyllic life was not a writer!  LOL   Since throwing myself into this head first, I've discovered it's the hardest work I’ve ever done.  First, I thought writing my first manuscript might be difficult.  Blessedly, it came easy most days.  

Then, I thought the editing was IS!  It will kill me! lol  I've complained about that enough on this blog to be perfectly clear on that subject. 

It's so much more than just sitting my duff in a chair and typing.  It's re-reading my work (no joke) 100 times to make sure I'm not writing in 'passive voice,' and that I'm SHOWING more and TELLING less, among a gazillion other do's and don'ts.  Reading all of my stacks full of writing books, each one filled with nuggets of wisdom.  

NETWORK with other writers via reading their blogs and commenting, reading their blogs and digesting their wisdom, having their blogs lead me to other writers' blogs that are interesting and helpful, and ... you get the picture on that one :)

EMAIL with my new writer friends to keep in touch and provide encouragement to one another.  

BLOG on my OWN blog...trying to post something interesting every day.  While doing so also makes me a better writer, it still involves time and thought.

ATTEND workshops & conventions.  So far, my only workshops have been online, though I plan to attend some in person one day, which requires got it....time and effort on my part, to be 'present' and mindful, and definitely eager to learn.

JOIN several writing sites that require me to read others' work and critique it in exchange for the same on my own work.  These sites also provide the opportunity to participate in various contests, which means more writing!  It could also mean accolades if you win, and something you can add to your 'resume,' so to speak.

READ!  I've said it before, and I'll say it again...writers MUST be avid readers!  I noticed on another writer's blog (yup another blog-see above! lol), that we should try to read at least one fiction book and one 'craft' book per week.  For those of you that are new to this, 'craft' basically means something ELSE I mentioned above - all of those stacks of books I have about writing better.  We always have to perfect our craft.  Reading about it helps - at least it does for me.

WATCH MOVIES in a new light.  Any work of cinematic origin is worth looking at from a different and new perspective.  I also learned this on another blog (see how helpful they can be?), and it has me viewing TV and movies from a writer's aspect.  Someone had to WRITE them.  They can assist us in learning plot, characterization, etc.

BE a Yahoo Network Contributor.  Okay this isn't a MUST, but it's something else I've taken on for some 'street cred.'  It can only help me when the time comes to submit a manuscript.  It keeps my name out there, lets me write articles & editorials and possibly take 'desk assignments' they provide.  Makes me feel like I work for a newspaper :)

WRITE!  Continue to write my manuscript, if it needs more writing (which it always does).  Also make sure I'm busy with another book in the works.  A writer should always have at least two projects going.  We must always be in constant 'motion,' so to speak.  More than one ball in the air...have I provided enough cliches there?  Oops...yet another thing we shouldn't do - write in cliches.  We have to be more creative!

All of this adds up to one thing...well SOME of it adds up to one thing...Marketing....yes, before I've even submitted a single thing to an agent, I must market myself and establish a 'platform'  - that thing we writers need that will show an agent and/or publisher we already have people who might be interested in reading our book, if they choose to accept it.

Do I feel stretched a tad thin?  Yup.  Do I think that writers get a bad rap from those who think all they do is lounge by a pool and maybe write once in a while?  Yup.  Do I still love ALL of it?  YUP!!

Are you exhausted yet?  Good!  Then I've painted the right picture...but again...I'm loving every crazy minute of it!