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Monthly Archives: June 2014


Speaker: Shelley Gillespie

Shelley Gillespie who spoke at Dog-Eared Pages last week is full of energy and inspiration. She has developed all of that into her business as a Book Writing Coach.

Shelley writes for the Arizona Republic newspaper and recently wrote a fantastic article about Diana Gabaldon.

To develop your writing skills and actually get things done use your imagination, visualization and set up a schedule. Write Every Day!

Have a fun, catchy title. Take the time to jot down what you want to write and go from there.

Keep the writing alive. Every once in awhile throw in a short punchy sentence to  keep yourself, your characters and the reader awake. Use “Scan – Find” to check your manuscript for the overuse of certain words.

Some of the the books on her reference shelf are: Warriner’s English Grammar, Roget’s Thesaurus, On Writing by Stephen King, Strunk’s Elements of Style, Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss,  The AP Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style.

Shelley has two books about getting off the couch and hiking, even in the Arizona desert. The first one was geared to adults but another version for kids soon evolved.  Hiking: For the Couch Potato can be found at her web site and at hiking.forthecouchpotato.com.

Visit Shelley’s web page to learn more about her books and services and to sign up for a free e-book on publishing: 10 Steps to Book Writing Success.

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Speaker: Arabella Thorne

Another in the series of speakers at Dog-Eared Pages Bookstore in north Phoenix.

Arabella Thorne is a down-to-earth speaker and writer.  She worked for the Los Angeles Times for 19 years and now lives in the Arizona desert. She has been a photographer and done freelance writing. She also writes fan fiction for The Lord of the Rings. She started with fan faction at the age of 12 with The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

She has two books available which you can learn more about on her website. They are The Elf Lord’s Revenge and a novella; I Swear My Roommate is a Vampire.

To make it from idea to published she says to write all the time and to have deadlines – even if they are “fake.” It is important to finish what you start (something I really need to work on.) She also stresses the importance of keeping your name out there with novellas, short stories and other publishing options.

She loves the history of California and her first book is set in Alta Vista before the Gold Rush. She did a lot of research and then added a bit of fantasy with an elf family.

She suggests writing against the type. That’s one reason she put elves in California. The vampire in her novella isn’t the usual alpha male but based on a favorite teacher she once had.

I got the impression that not only does she write the unusual but her view on life is full of humor and an ingrained wit.

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Speaker: Bill Lamperes

I’ve fallen behind on introducing you to the speakers I’ve been meeting. These were all at the Friday Night Writes group at Dog-Eared Pages bookstore. These are short, informal meetings full of energy and great information.

First of all is Bill Lamperes who used to live in the Phoenix area but now resides in Colorado. Bill has eight books covering as many genres and sees himself as a storyteller. His website is a joy to read; just as listening to him speak is like a spark to the imagination. 

I could tell right away that I wanted to read something by him and settled on Voices because it is set in the Phoenix area, is a mystery, has ghosts and is about a writer. How much more perfect (for me) can you get? The description is: 

Jack Weston, a writer for Western Trails magazine, wallows in the agony of his wife’s unresolved hit-and-run death.  He attempts to drown his sorrow in alcohol until his editor, Phil Slocum, arrives to pull him back from the abyss. Phil’s intervention saves Jack’s life, but cannot restore the writer’s emotional balance or creative style.

Phil attempts to help Jack deal with his writer’s block by sending him on assignment to record ghost stories from haunted hotels in the southwest. The distraction provides Jack with an opportunity to escape confining memories and focus on his craft.

At every hotel, the unexplained voices of ghosts invade Jack’s dreams and offer clues to find his wife’s killer.  A mysterious hitchhiker appears throughout his travels and urges him to interpret the discordant messages.

Jack overhears a human voice admit running over a woman.  The chilling words send him on a three-state manhunt to find the killer. He connects the voice to a suspect and faces the problem of turning paranormal clues into credible evidence, but how? With the help of a quirky detective and a woman he befriends, the three pursue justice, only to realize their lives are also in danger.

The book met all my expectations and I’m looking forward to reading more.

A couple of the things I noted down during Bill’s talk was to spread out the descriptions of people and places instead of putting them all in one paragraph. Also, when using dialect use just a few words in the beginning and then write normally.

Bill said he will be back in the Valley in the fall and I hope to get to hear him again. PWC (11)





Writer’s Blog Hop

Writers are wonderful. I love meeting them, talking to them, learning from them, and writing about them. This blog was started to share many of those meetings and some of the things I have learned about writing. It doesn’t do any good if the word doesn’t get out. Writers are also good at supporting each other and this blog hop is one way of doing that. I hope you will follow the trail of blogs forward and backward and make new friends along the way.

I’ve been tagged by one of my favorite writers. I have followed C. B. Wentworth’s blog for a very long time. We spend time together talking about writing and just writing. She is a great inspiration and if you haven’t visited her blog please go spend some time there. She does photography, writes poetry, travels, knits and keeps me inspired.

Thank you C. B. Wentworth for all your help and support.

Here are the questions I’ve been asked:

What am I working on?

I have an endless list of projects but the biggest one right now is rewriting my book O. K. Corral Postscript: The Death of Ike Clanton. It has been out of print for awhile so I’m looking forward to making it available again; with some updates. I’m also continuing with my Old West history articles and some fiction. I’ve been dabbling in some poetry. I have two blogs that also keep me busy.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

That’s a tough one to answer for western history. I write broader and also I look for the unusual. I like to take small stories of everyday life and put them in perspective. Since I do a lot of writing on Tombstone, Arizona I’m looking for the people and stories that haven’t been done to death.

Why do I write what I do?

I’ve had a lifelong interest in the Old West and kind of fell into researching and writing about it through a twist of fate and my long-time interest in genealogical research. Researching my family taught me a lot of things that has helped in finding the little stories of the Old West. I’ve thought, often, about writing more fiction and would like to write a cozy mystery or ghost stories but right now the Old West is holding me in its ropes.

How does my writing process work?

I scan old newspapers until something strikes my fancy. Sometimes I happen on something while researching something else. I always make a note or a copy of anything that catches my eye. I also read a lot of journals and books about Arizona history in particular.

Once I find enough information on the current subject and the basic information is in my head I sit down with a fountain pen and spiral notebook and start writing the story. I don’t worry about the details at this point. I just keep the pen moving and get the skeleton of the story down. This is a process I use for all my writing. I belong to a writer’s group where we are given a prompt and then write a page or so just completely stream-of-consciousness. No worries about grammar or spelling or even the plot. Just get something down. That seems to be the only way I work well. I have a hard time composing on the keyboard.

Once I have a draft I start entering the article into a document on the computer and add the details from my research. Sometimes questions come up and I go back and do more research but at that point I have the article pretty well written.

I let that sit for a day or so and then go back and reread and edit.

I have a number of journals going with ideas, short stories, poetry and anything else that comes to mind. I don’t want to lose those thoughts.

The final thing I am to do is introduce you to three other writers who I admire:

I’ve only known Anna Questerly a few months but she is full of inspiration and that ever present energy. Besides being a children’s writer Anna owns a bookshop and is a wealth of information a variety of books. She is also involved in many community writing events so her blog is always fun to read. You can visit her here.

Last, but not least, is a newer acquaintance who I think will become another long-term friend, Barbara Hinske. I met Barbara about a month ago when she gave a talk at the Desert Foothills Library and liked what she had to say and was enthralled with the idea of her mystery novels. I’ve read the first one, Coming to Rosemont and look forward to her latest release. It was funny that the day I met her another friend brought in an article about Barbara’s mini-book exchange “house” in her front yard. I wish I could do that here. You can learn more about Barbara Hinske at her blog here.

My other choice is out of town and not able to do it and since my fourth choice was already tagged I’m only doing two. Not worth stressing over. Right?

Now go join the blog hop and meet some great people.



Speaker: Raleigh R. Pinskey

The Writer’s Connection at the Desert Foothills Library kept up with their long list of inspiring speakers with Raleigh R. Pinskey. Just listening to all the things this energetic lady has done in her life was amazing. Plays, books, promotion, radio, television, and public speaking. You can get a taste of her energy on her website.

At one point she said, “I’m a character.” That was to be taken in the usual way but also she wanted to stress that we are all potential characters for out writing. Bits of us will always show up in our writing.

She told us to write, write, write and when something tugs at us to go with that and follow the tangents. Write about everything! Find your own voice and the voice of the story. Interweave these tangents into your writing. She had us brainstorm a list of memorable people, places and events in our lives. You can also make a list of memorable stories from history, television and movies, and world events.

Some of mine were: Nearly drowning, seeing an ape on the Golden Gate Bridge, Granddad catching a snapping turtle, accidentally wearing two different shoes . . .

She finally helped me to understand the knack of writing with specificity to lead to universality. You can use your own senses, what you see, hear, smell, think, feel and do to tell a story that is universal in nature. Everybody does these things but the writer makes it specific to their own view. Her example was how she has always hated her fine, thin hair and dealing with that. Everybody has issues with their hair so her story becomes universal.

A fun thing was to tell stories, or a bit of a story and then be told to stop and the next person pick up the feelings, experiences and sensory perceptions of that story.

She carries notebooks and writes down everything that comes to her as soon as possible. She’ll even pull over to the side of the road to get the thoughts down. She then uses a “wheel” for brainstorming to add ideas and take them away while editing. Like the bubble technique for brainstorming.

Energy, passion, caring, and a get-it-done attitude had every body in the room ready to go out and write, write, write.

Publishing Tips

Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter Spring Event: Part VII

Deborah J. Ledford is the author of three books in a thriller series. She has won numerous awards for short-stories and screenplays.

Deborah talked about the ins-and-outs of agents and going with recognized publishers. No matter which way an author goes the PR is on their shoulders. The author’s name is “where it’s at.”

The term “self-publishing” is going out of style because it is connected more with small runs such as family histories. “Independent (or Indie) Publishing” is the growing term for those who publish on their own.

To get an agent you should have a “killer” query letter. Janet Reid’s blog has great query examples. She said to start with your first choice and you may need to send out one hundred queries. The manuscript should be perfect and formatted to fit the industry standard. The industry is very specific and attending events such as this, doing your research and networking with other writers is how you learn to get it right.

To get an author’s name out there it is important to have a web site. Also enter contests and write short stories to gain a positive reputation.

A basic breakdown is that short stories are usually about 5,000 words, flash fiction is usually 50 to 500 words, long stories are 7,000 to 10,000 words. novellas run about 40,000 words and novels can be 70,000 to 80,000 words. Of course there are always exceptions.

Along with practice, practice, practice Deborah adds read, read read. You have to find the time to read. While others say to read your own genre she says not to read in your own genre while you are in the writing process to keep from picking up the other voice.

She closed the talk with the urge to have a blast while writing your first draft. Then it gets hard with the editing. Always keep a delete file to paste sections you take out. They may come in handy later. Never throw anything out.

This concludes my comments and observations on the Desert Sleuths Mystery writing event in May 2014. The next big event by this group is scheduled for August 14 -15, 2014. Find them on Facebook or go to their web site for more information.


Romance and Crime

Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter Spring Event: Part VI

The next subject was covered by two authors. Pamela Tracy has almost thirty publications to her name including full-length and novella fiction. She writes historical, contemporary and suspense in Christian romance. Marsha Sandoval has been in real estate for 35 years and her first novel is about a real estate agent who starts another “business” to supplement her income during the economic downturn. It is titled Cat House.

Both of these ladies write around the romance; this was a mystery writer’s event. They agreed the mystery is more about who did it, there is a villain and a reason to solve the mystery and it is solved by learning who did it. The black moment is when the protagonist learns the bad guy is worse than he thought and in the end there is justice but not necessarily a happy-ever-after. In romance the culprit is an issue and the plot twist is they fall in love no matter what. They are given nudges together which they fight for whatever reason. The black moment is when they think they are together and happy when something happens to jerk them apart again. The end must be tied up with a neat bow with them happy-ever-after.

Mysteries are more of a spider web with more going on. There can be humor in both and should be used just as it shows up in life.

They suggested the importance of being consistent such as writing p.m. or pm or four o’clock or 4:00.
There must be a story arc and the characters must grow. Use adverbs sparingly (another comment made throughout the day.)

Again, they said to write what you love.


Scottsdale Civic Center Mall by Rita Ackerman, May 2014.

To be continued.