Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Lately I've been exposed to crime stories on TV, as I've mentioned before. Murder isn't my thing, sure I kill people in my books, but never murder. I get bored and switch from my viewer mind to my writer mind.

Looking at the misdirection angle, some of them are sloppy - dropping clues over the transom. Some of the writing is excellent. The difference is connecting the dots, of course, in a logical/believable way.

The suspect always lies and the stars always know they are lying and trip them up with a clue.

I'm not as quick with spotting lies. I don't lie because it is too much trouble to keep them straight. When I catch someone in a lie, I'm angry. For me, each caught lie erodes the relationship until there is nothing worth salvaging.

So the writing stretch for me would be to learn to write a character who is a believable liar. Wonder if I can do it? What type of character would be a stretch for you to write?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bucket List

There is a movie called The Bucket List. Basically it is a list of things a person wants to do before they kick the bucket. The first I heard of anything like that was when I was a kid, LIFE magazine had 100 something (I can't remember what it was) that someone wanted to do before he or she died. The details escape me.

There is one very out of character thing I'd like to do before I die; White Water Raft the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. I'd have to go with a tour company. I can't for the life of me figure out why I want to do that, I am not the camping type and that is what they do every night for 10 days or whatever. Besides, I'm deathly afraid of drowning.

What out of character thing is on your bucket list?

Monday, September 28, 2009

A writer's instinct

There was an article about Tony Hillerman in the Arizona Republic newspaper. I liked the way Mr. Hillerman wrote easy like real Indian's talk. His voice and knowledge of Native American traditions and life made interesting mystery believable, plus I like to think that some people learned things the didn't previously know about the Navajo people by reading Tony's books.

The thing in the article that really made me smile was this:
"When Tony Hillerman finished his first detective novel set on the Navajo Reservation, a literary agent told him it looked like a best-seller. All he had to do was 'lose the Indian stuff.' "

It's funny how we never list the agents who 'pass' on a best-seller. I don't know why we are so protective, but on the other hand, what's to be gained by ratting them out? Agents are human and entitled to make dumb mistakes too. I received rejection letters long after I had an agent. And once I had one, I didn't want him. Figures, don't it? All of that is another story for another day.

The point is the writer has to believe in their ms. They need to step back and look at it with a certain amount of detachment. They have to ask, "How can I make this better?"

And more importantly, how can I make the next ms better?

It is important to constantly hone writing skills. Reading other writer's works is not enough. I know nearly every website says, read all the novels in your genre you can. Well fine for as far as that goes. But do you really want to write in someone else's voice? Read for enjoyment. Learn new skills, enhance the ones you have, assess each 'expert' for what feels right in your gut and in your intellect.

There it is, my opinion.

As a final note, the blog book goes to the printer today. I should have the proof copy by the end of the week. Whoo-hoo!

Friday, September 25, 2009

No Place Like Home

My godmother has Alzheimer's Disease. I believe friends help friends. I don't mean the easy stuff, I mean the stuff that takes a decision to go the extra mile. Let's face it, any bloke can do the easy stuff and go on their merry way.

What I do can be done anywhere I have wifi. My youngest child went off to university this year. So I'm not making much of a sacrifice moving to the mountains - no hero banners here.

I go back and forth between her mountain cabin and our city suburb house. The only real inconvenience is that I sometimes need something on my desktop computer at home. You don't need to send me lots of solutions to this, I've got it worked out now.

The point is this: As an adult it is a bit frustrating to reach for something that is at the other house. It made me think about the new vogue custody arrangements coming out of family court in divorce cases.

Everyone is patting themselves on their backs regarding the new The King Solomon Solution. The solution is that the kid/s will spend half a week at one parent's residents and the rest of the week at the other residence. They attend the same school all week, obviously. Oh how wonderful! Or maybe not. The parents are delighted because they get their half.

The words of Father Sigman keep coming to mind. His parents were two religions. Alternating weekends they attend each church. Father told me he wasn't both religions, he was neither. He was a kid then. Obviously at some point, he decided which religion he was to be for the rest of his life.

There is a judge I used to appear before who, in one case twenty years ago, had the parents rotate through the house every two weeks, the kids stayed put in their own rooms with their own stuff. I like her creativity. Perhaps a new Solomon Solution. So why hasn't that caught on? Because it was inconvenient for the adults.

Retrospective studies haven't been done on the impact of this 'ancient wisdom' on the kids. But I wonder if they feel they don't have two homes, they have none.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


PC, not 'personal computer' rather, 'politically correct'.

Recently, in an interview someone asked Charlize Theron if she was an African-American now that she had American citizenship.

That got me thinking about the PC labels we awkwardly stick on people groups. I have a black friend who was born in the Caribbean, and raised in Britain. As far back as anyone in her family knows, they aren't from Africa. She thinks it is funny that on forms her ethnicity (she married an American) is often (wrongly) marked as African-American. She says she is Black and British.

I know a black writer who belongs to a black women writer's organization. It is a large organization. I don't know her well enough to have a discussion about it, but my first guess is she would be 'steamed' if I belonged to a white women writer's organization.

Last year a large group of illegal Mexican immigrants marched on the State Capital in Phoenix. They wanted their rights! They marched with a Mexico flag (only) in their parade. My thoughts on that is that people should immigrate legally.

One reason most countries have immigration laws is to screen for communicable disease. It is a simple duty to their citizens to safeguard their health. The other reason, of course, is to prevent violent criminals from entering the population; another safeguard. So there are my two reasons why people should immigrate legally.

But I have to say, to demand rights to citizenship and not carry this country's flag was a massive insult to their fellow countrymen who did immigrate legally. If they want to carry a Mexico flag, then they need to go to Mexico and demand rights there.

Besides, I'm a mom and it sets a poor example for my kids for me to be for any social reform for someone who has first admitted to be 'illegal' immigrants. To soft soap it in social work school, they said 'undocumented aliens'. I said, a rose by any other name... It didn't set well with some. They said I was racist. The fact is, I can't be pro anything illegal and preach to my children the importance of respecting the laws of this great country.

One last comment, my Pueblo friend says in general Indians don't mind being called 'Indians.' It isn't like Chris Columbus intended it to be anything other than the name of the people he encountered. He was just a wee bit LOST. She doesn't mind, Indigenous Peoples or Native Americans (which really covers both of the American contents, if you think about it), but to be correct, really correct, she is Acoma.

My Japanese-American friend lumps all white Americans in one batch. We probably look more alike than we actually share traditions and cultural behaviors.

Same thing is true with mentally handicapped people. When I started in social work, the label was Mentally Retarded. Technically, it is a really good term. It is clear. But people started using it as slang and other people decided to change the name rather than change the thinking of the ones using 'retard' for slang.

So it is DD right now, Developmentally Delayed. We screw up sometimes and use developmentally disabled, another old name in the evolution of terms. There was a new one last year, cognitive delayed, but it never caught on, so we are back to DD. The real question is not the label, it is why we need to call a group by their medical diagnosis in the first place.

Well anyway, I just thought this might begin a discussion.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Week Two - mountain living

Yesterday marked the end of my second week in the mountains - although I did go back to Phoenix twice last week. After giving my friend a ride to Phx, I decided to bring a load of VIS (very important stuff) up to the cabin and unpack it before going back to spend another night with my family.

It was 8:30 PM when I headed up to Rim Country. I took I-17 since it is close to our side of town and I figured by then the traffic going to Anthem would be light. All went well the first 80 miles past Horsethief Basin and Bloody Basin (did they catch the horsethief there???). It was very dark as it is when there are no city lights, but there was a nice amount of traffic, so it wasn't too bad. Once I turned off the Interstate to the two lane mountain road, the drama began.

The next 40 miles were into the forest, the dark, dark forest with eyes shining in the brush as I rounded corner after corner. The road was on the side of the mountain. There were three possible travel conditions:

1) Deer or Elk crossing the road. They stand there and dare you to get stopped before they reconfigure the front grill of your car, and they never travel alone. Having a low to the ground car and a rag top, I began to think about whether their hooves would come through the top if they jumped over the car and sort of missed, landing on the roof.

2) The signs read, 'Watch for Rocks' but the stuff on the side of the road wasn't 'rocks' - it was boulders. Once again, what are the chances of one landing on the roof and not coming through the rag top? It isn't the same kind of problem during the day, you can look ahead and up, and see if there is anything on its way down. I suppose you would swerve if you ever saw a boulder coming, I never have seen any in transit.

3) The side of the road without the boulder issue is the side without a is the 'Thelma and Louise' side. The over the edge side!

There was not one inch of that road that was straight. Plus with tall pines on either side, it is very, very, very dark on the road with a little strip of dark midnight blue over head. So there's that and the sharp curves back and forth. Some turns were hair-pin turns, but most were sharp switchbacks. My shoulders were tense and becoming sore.

No one, I mean no one, else was on that road. Then I came around the corner and saw reflectors for a driveway on the left. Odd, but hey some people are more into rural living than I am. I've always been perfectly happy with city water, I don't need my own well - how do they drill a well up here anyway?

As I passed I saw that the driveway reflectors were really an old beat-up pickup truck. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw the headlights come on. And yep, it turned nearly clear around to follow me. It was making ground to catch up with me.

Remember the other day that I said my friend watches lots of crime shows. Well they are actually more murder solving shows. So my mind begins to think how this is a lot like one of the shows we watched. OMG!

I downshifted and took the curves a bit faster than the pickup truck could and slowly put some distance between us without going over the edge of the road. I knew I had to be getting to the end of the road and would have to turn right or left soon. Finally I couldn't see the headlights behind me and hoped they weren't fool enough to drive this road with no lights. I got to the end, tapped my breaks, down shifted, and for the first time in my life, I turned without signaling. The next 15 miles to town, I didn't see lights behind me. I met a couple of cars, but that was it. I felt better on this road because I was almost to the place to turn up the mountain to the cabin.

I found the cabin and unloaded everything, including the printer from the front seat, to the front deck. Then I climbed the steps quietly and hurriedly put everything inside the house. I wished I had thought to smoke as I finished the drive because I really wanted one now.

I couldn't find the key to the back door, the one to the back deck, the one were the wild things do not go. I went onto the front deck and stood right by the open door for my smoke. I heard something move under the deck, my heart was pounding in my chest. I did the only thing I could do - no not run - I stomped my foot hard on the wook planks of the deck. There was an 'OOooH!' sounding scurry out the other side. I bravely walked to the ashtray and came back inside. I checked the doors and looked out to make sure all eight yard lights were on, plus the two that are left on inside at night.

I hadn't slept in a house alone for 24 years. I heard every pine cone that fell in the entire forest. I heard the water heater come on and I had never heard that before. The refrigerator makes a light knocking sound. The clock is REAL loud, oh yeah, that was my watch, never mind. Man have I got material if I ever want to write something scary!

OMG! See there are havalina up here and they are really loud when they squeal at night.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


by Ivana Marić, Croatia, guest blogger

Kathryn has the perfect job, the perfect friends and family, and the perfect lover; until a client dies, her lover moves away, she meets her paternal grandfather and learns the secret of her identity. Things are starting to make sense or are they really what they appear to be?

High Tide sees Kathryn faced with numerous transitions. For a moment, everything seems to be just fine; Joseph is about to return from Ireland, the homeless project is showing great results and Kathryn’s grandfather establishes contact to her. Even Maggie is with her through her diaries.

At some point, everyone starts to fall apart. Upon his return, Joseph startles her with an unexpected offer. It’s on her to decide whether she is ready to leave her newly reclaimed life and her beach. After breaking up with Joseph, she seeks refugee in her beach again, and realizes that five years of absence was more than enough.

Everyone seems to be leaving, and Kathryn starts to feel lonely. Here is one of my favorite quotes: “I am tired of telling everyone Goodbye as they move on with their life, while I stand still. Maybe, I am ready to move on. Maybe it’s finally my time!” (p 115)

Sometimes it’s difficult to escape the high tide, but eventually, Kathryn takes control over her life, despite some “lawyers and their ability to mess up her life”. She finds her hope again, and decides to “chase after life with the drive of an eight-year-old chasing an ice cream truck!”

In conclusion: Nadine did it again. Her engaging first person present tense makes the story as realistic as it can be. Written in a simple, easy-to-read way, High Tide is a great read and, personally, a source of inspiration through Maggie’s and Kathryn’s diaries.

I love the beach descriptions as an instrument to show Kathryn’s sometimes stormy, sometimes nostalgic mood. Through Kathryn, the social worker in Nadine shines through. I was amazed with all those small things Kathryn does to make her clients feel better. Sometimes just a silk scarf is enough to raise someone’s self-esteem.

There were some parts that had me rolling on the floor laughing. Ever gave driving lessons to a nun? No? Maybe you should; nothing will reestablish your connection to God like that experience.

I’m looking forward to reading Storm Surge and learn more about Kathryn’s family. If there are any like her cousins, Storm Surge will probably be brimming over with intrigues!

Meet Ivana, my dear friend and writing colleague. Check out her blog and follow it!

Monday, September 21, 2009


by Glynis Smy, Cyprus, guest blogger

I love to read when at the airport and onboard the plane. When I leave for my journey I always have a new travel companion, a lovely new book, something to bond with during the hours cruising the clouds.

During my most recent journey I had in my hot little hand, Kathryn's Beach by Nadine Laman.

I am not very good at writing book reviews, but I will try my best to portray what this book did for me.

Having run away from her life, Kathryn is still haunted by the court rulings in one of the child abuse cases she is involved with, five years later she returns, only to find that her nightmare will not go away until she solves the mystery of a letter.

The book captured me, the story flowed and the characters were believable. Each person I met throughout the book came alive. I could visualise each one as they entered a scene. I felt comfortable in their presence, they relaxed me, drew me into the book. There were no fireworks, no raunchy sex scenes, just a great read.

Kathryn returns to memories, new beginnings, nightmares from the past and emotionally draining daily events. Uplifting new meetings and realisations, serene moments and positive actions made me realise this is real life in book form.

I have now ordered High Tide and Storm Surge by the same author, I wanted to go further into Kathryn's world, I had walked her beach and wanted to learn more, to follow her return and these two books will allow me to do so.

Nadine Laman has a new fan and she also has a great blog ~First Draft.

Thank you, Glynis! You do a wonderful job reviewing! I love reading your blog too! Your pic is so lovely that I've posted it, something I wasn't going to do because my blog is a draft, but I love your smile!

Glynis is a British writer living in Cyprus. She has a wonderful blog, check it out and follow her:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Blog Party Rendezvous

I said I'd post a place for people to leave messages regarding the party. I want to express appreciation to the people who said thank you for throwing this party, and to those who thanked the authors for the book prizes. Your mother would be proud of you, it is almost a lost art to receive a written thank you these days, most of the time they are emails.

I'm working on formatting the blog party book. It is over 500 pages, we sure had lots to say. I can't help but read as I format the pages and it is fun to read the comments again. I'm not correcting typos, only formatting. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

I'm not going to stay up late to post a comment, so I'll do it now. I've received all the books I was expecting. And have sent out the last of the books I had to send, even the books from Kip to the two little guys were sent today. So let me know if they arrive safely.

Add any notes or comments regarding the blog party. If you post a review, be sure to let the author know about it and post the link here. I'll do this again and always use the same title, so it is easy to search the blog for the word Rendezvous.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Leaving a legacy or living a legacy?

In the comment section yesterday, Stephanie Faris said... "It's all about leaving a legacy behind after we're gone. I often wonder...will these blogs and comments still be here 100 years from now? Will people study us to learn more about what it was like living in this century?"

I don't think these blogs (or their comments) will be here in 100 years. They might be archived in some way. I often think that the system could go down and everything lost from before as it comes back up. It happened once my first day as a moderator over at My Writers Circle dot com forum. That is one reason that I'm putting the blog party into book format.

I remember the 386 computer and the large floppy discs. Thank God, it was only months before windows arrived, because I was no good at DOS. My hubby's first computer had punch cards. Can you imagine? I miss the 3.5 discs and we seem to have a hard time sharing our external 3.5 driver (someone takes it to his office and leaves it there and the person he shares with - me - bought it, so I expect sharing to mean it is here part of the time).

Now we have thumb drives and they last a nano second in the big scheme of my needs for data storage. I have never found the CD back up to be worth the trouble. As a matter of fact, I've become horrible about backing up my computer because of them.

I just purchased an external drive back up and have not been able to get it to perform to my expectations based on the cost. Maybe I'll go by Staples and see if they still sell the 3.5 discs.

What I do part of the time with a few important files to email them to myself from my desk top to my lap top computers.

It is hard to imagine that not everything we do will be kept. NASA didn't keep the original tape of the moon walk, so what is the likelihood that what I write will be kept. I do hope a copy or two of my printed books survive a hundred years, someone's will.

Learn more about Stephanie here:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Post time

Ten minutes until post time, talk about procrastination! Actually, spell it N-A-P!

We continue to walk around the mountain area. It is quite interesting. I like it much better than going down hill to the post office. Ordinarily very good with dead reckoning and keeping my directions straight in the city, I could easily get lost in the back roads of this little mountain village.

I'm back in the valley for the night. One hundred miles down hill isn't exactly restful as we rocket down toward the city. It is amazing what can fit into a Mustang, when it has to be done. Doggie took up the back seat and was a splendid passenger. She is very well behaved and quiet, of course, being a service dog. She does a lot of that "doggie eyebrow" stuff as she watches her two roommates settle into a routine of living together. As I prepared my monthly sales tax report the other day, I began to think for certain that Alzheimers is contagious.

Once I dropped my friend off in Scottsdale and found my way to the freeway, it felt good to be in five lanes of busy traffic all going in the same direction. It is beautiful up in the mountains and certainly nothing to complain about - I didn't even bottom out at the bottom of the dirt road this time as we left. The scenery all the way down was gorgeous. Yet I was glad to look across the valley and see the back side of Camelback Mountain with the praying monk at the camel's ear. I knew where I was without looking at a road sign. It felt good.

So now, how do I tie all of this into writing? Just watch... First of all, when I say writing, I mean fiction writing. I know there are other kinds of writing, but this is what I know. Because my genre doesn't require a lot of research, I just write. No long drawn out character sketches or outlining chapters for me. It is pretty much what comes is what the reader gets (plus rewrites and edits).

There was a reviewer once who refused to review Kathryn's Beach based solely on the fact that it was written in first person. While I appreciate the honesty, I also thought it was a bit strange. Reminded me of a kid who wouldn't try a new food. Enough said.

Like hurling down the mountain with no need to touch the accelerator pedal, I just steer as the story gets written. When someone I know orders Kathryn's Beach, I sometimes wonder if they will like it. There are all kinds of 'analysts' theories that can be read into that - and they probably all apply. But besides the state of my mental health, I quit worrying about thinking such things years ago because the question keeps me driven to write the best story I can for the eventual readers.

That's what this is all about. The reader. From cave drawings and petroglyphs, we leave our message with the hopes that the ones who see them will understand our intent. Write well, my friends, even the notes to school...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Peer Pressure

One of the things that was important to me as a parent was that my boys, who were often referred to as the Laman litter, were individuals. The good thing about having three same sex kids in three and a half years was they often shared interests in activities and toys, so they played well together. Yet I wanted them to see themselves as individuals and to explore their own interests.

I encouraged them to assess situations and think for themselves long before the curse of peer pressure set in once they were in school. The other benefit was that they would think on their own when the drug and drinking phase arrived for their age group. That worked swimmingly.

One thing about the indie section of the publishing industry is the peer pressure. Yes, there are certain things that every writer should do and blah, blah, blah... There are other things that writers should know, then decide on their own if the items apply to their goals - letting no one pressure them to do otherwise.

From the beginning of my writing career, I've been pressured to conform. I can imagine how less mouthy people fare. It is confusing to know who to listen to and who to flip off.

There are well know reviewers who skim a book or don't read it at all then write something that tips off the author, like in a review of Jen's books (the reviewer switched cancer for a stroke) and for KB someone said she was a lawyer??? There are others, and if you don't know who they are now - you will learn, who tear down competitors. Think carefully about the integrity of the people out there shouting the loudest, they won't treat you any better than they are treating everyone else.

This is just like any other business, common sense goes a long ways and so does knowing the rules of the industry. New people in any industry are obliged to learn the rules. Read industry news from a variety of sources, as well as understand that some of the articles are more marketing than informational.

The big 'must do' item is e-Books. The most often answer to "Why?" is that everyone is doing it. Actually the large publishers only recently began to release some of their titles in e-format.

One writer said (link below), "I would expect 20 percent of book sales to be digital by 2014." For the 'in' thing to do, I would have expected to read a higher number. Not that statistics are a deciding factor for me. But one thing that article did do, after I waded through it, was to point to the fact that not 'everyone' is on the e-book band wagon if only 20% of sales will be e-formatted books in five years.

The point is, no one knows better what is best for your book. Seek good counsel. Then think for yourself and don't let peer pressure be your guiding force.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fabulous Blog Award

Blogger Peggy Nolan presented a blog award on August 25th. Since it was during the blog party, I've waited until now to acknowledge Peggy's kindness. Look on the left sidebar to see the beautiful award.

The "Your Blog is Fabulous!" Award stands for: Integrity. Commitment to Excellence. Stubbornly Optimistic!

The Rules:

List five current obsessions:

- My sons. You have exceeded every lesson and opportunity to be Renaissance men. I'm very proud of you guys and can't wait to see what you do next.

- My family and friends. You are my touch stone, my compass, my challenge.

- My writing. What can I say? This is what I do.

- Um...let me get back to you on the last two, I'm sure I have more than three obsessionssssss.

Pass the award on to five other bloggers.

Well, first of all...there are way more than five Fabulous bloggers.

Anita Davidson:

Carol Anne Strange:

Glynis Smy:

Cheryl de los Reyes Cruz:

DJ Kirkby:

Glyn Pope:

Nidhi Dhawan:

Jennine Garsee:

Joy Collins:

Katie Hines:

June Austin:

Ella... :

Carrie Sheppard:

Susan Gabriel:

Marsha Stewart:

Irene Watson:

And my dear Ivana Maric:

Thank you Peggy. You are a sweetheart.

Find Peggy here:

Monday, September 14, 2009

The week in review

Tomorrow I've been in the mountains for a week. There are so many funny stories I could tell about this week. The first few days it rained and the air was dense. As the rains have moved off, the air is thinning. I've found it difficult to breathe several times over the weekend.

I'm attributing the unbelievably bad singing at Mass to the thin air. It reminded me of the nuns in Sister Act. I know how to read music, but I can't do it. The dots rearrange when I look up, then back again - so I usually take my cue from the choir. I think the lone male voice was about my range, but he was a word behind the two women and the music. The two women were no good at singing together. I don't know the technical term, but it was bad. I think those of us in the seats were all praying for deliverance, but as it turned out, every part of the Mass that could be sung - was. And for those who don't know, there are lots of parts that are chanted or sung. In this case, none of them well.

My friend/godmother watches crime shows. It tickles her that I solve the crime or say, "Watch he is going to come back through that door." She asks how I know. I tell her, "I'm a writer, I know these things." She has taken to saying that I should write a book. Dare I mention I've written three?

My friends romanticize mountain living, though I know things that are fun for a weekend or a week get wearing over the long winter. I wonder how my Mustang will fare when the terribly rutted road is icy. We took my friend's service dog, a lab, to have her nails cut. That few pounds of added weight caused me to bottom out though I was being careful.

And so life in the mountains goes. I can think of nothing grand to write for my blog. I think Alzheimer's Disease might be contagious, since I can't think of anything clever to write. Though, I guess it could be the thin air...I think. Did I just repeat myself?

Friday, September 11, 2009

The What's In It For Me Attitude

This is the third post I've written for tonight. Now I'm down to the wire and might get this written just in time to post, which is a really bad idea because I'm so opinionated and my less than mainstream opinions should be revisited before I post them. Sometimes I alienate people. That is not my intent. On the other hand, it is not my intent to collect a following of 'believers' in the Nadine way of doing things.

As they were growing up, I taught my sons maxims I felt were important tools for them. This isn't earth shattering wisdom. One I want to share is, "To thy own self be true."

There is no dainty way to say some of the things on my mind the last few weeks. I guess I'll know on Monday if anyone is still reading my blog.

Collect the information you need to make an informed decision of your own. There are several things I do or do not do that are vogue which I have evaluated in terms of my career goals. But don't do what I do because it is me, evaluate what you do in terms of what delivers your goals.

For example, online social networks. I just don't do them. I cannot justify the two hours a day spent on them. I know most people plan to spend less than an hour on social networking per day. Clock it for two typical weeks and average the time spent - I bet it is more like two hours a day, if you count the few minutes throughout the day when you check in at the sites you frequent.

Here is the math for a two hour average for all social network activity combined. Two hours a day per 30 days is 60 hours a month on social networking. That is like a week and a half work at a regular job. Are you getting results worth that time investment or are you just making yourself think you are doing something because you are busy at it?

I have the ability to come up with authors for 4 weeks of blog party because of a network I built by hand over the years from many sources. That is my style, not bulletin board like posts on certain sites. Relationships with actual people works for me. I'm not one to yell into the Grand Canyon and think my echo is meaningful interaction.

What disturbs me is all the emails I've received from writers who eloquently or bluntly want to be in the next blog party. Their WIIFM attitude is off putting. I don't know these people and they have not develop a relationship with me over time before asking me for a service that I am not in the business of providing, nor do I want to be a book promoter.

I'm not in the business of selling services to writers. My main interest is readers. I don't think we take as good of care of them as we should. As far as writers go, there are plenty of people who sell services to writers. It is a million dollar business - if not more. There are a few of these people I highly respect, like Irene Watson. There are quite a few I do not respect, and I won't name them publicly or privately - don't ask.

All I am saying is I don't have a messiah complex. I don't need to gather followers who don't think for themselves. That is not a responsibility I wish to assume at this point.

Frankly is scares me that there are so many writers out there whose main concern is themselves. As I mentioned to one person who complemented me for promoting other authors, "It is a shame more authors don't promote each other."

The thing about these emails is they made me feel used, or that I was someone to use because I will do this stuff for free. It was an opportunistic drive to email me out of the blue like that. That isn't how this works. If I do another blog party - and I had planned to, but am not so sure now - then it will be authors I see doing things for other authors.

I'm just too set in my ways and have paid my dues to be used like that. Please hesitate before emailing to ask to be in the next blog party. You've missed the point. The party was for readers.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

On holiday...

I am on holiday in the mountains - Rim Country, the Mogollon Rim. (In Arizona we say it MO-gee-on.) I had forgotten about the storms that knock out the electricity and almost didn't get yesterday's post up before the storm hit- and yep, knocked out the electricity. It gets very dark in the forest when all the lights go out. Oh yeah, this city girl loves the rustic life. Ahem.

The first full day here my friend tried to kill me. It sounded innocent enough when she invited me to walk to the post office - just down the road.

This is a mountain. When she said DOWN the road, she wasn't kidding. It was a steep downhill walk. At the post office I waited outside seated on the curb, the calves of my legs were on fire from the downhill walk.

When she came out of the post office empty handed, I said - "NO! You go back in there and don't come out without mail!" It was about a half mile to the post office. It turned out to be five miles back to her cabin. I swear the exact same route was five miles UP the mountain. I thought I would die.

I blame it on her Alzheimer's that she has forgotten my [good natured] complaining and has informed me that we are going to walk to the post office again today. I am living for the weekend when the post office is closed.

Have I mentioned that I will be staying with her for the next few months or a couple of years, IF I live that long.

I'll get back on track tomorrow, but if there is no post then I am still sitting on the curb outside of the post office.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The skinny on editors

From yesterday's comments came this quick overview of editors. Read those comments, then read this.

A ghost writer will take your story and write it. This is often the case with cleb memoirs. Prepare to pay them well. They get no byline credits. Often though, people in the industry recognize their writing, so there is that...such as it is.

I hinted that there are different types of editors. In the big publishing houses there are acquisition editors. In a nutshell, they receive an ms from an literary agent. (It might be pre-read by an assistant.) If they like the story and think it will be a commercial property AND fit into the "list" they are putting together for one of the 'seasons' in 18-24 months, they will pitch that ms to a group of VIP who determine whether or not to buy the rights to the ms, and which rights to buy. This is a condensed version of the process. It is very much like the US Congress, they solicit votes for their ms among their peers and may trade votes for their peer's projects.

Skipping all the in between stuff, there are content editors, who like Yvonne mentioned, look at the story line and throw out the fluff and point out gaps in the story. They do not rewrite the ms, you do - and if you're smart, you will do what they ask. If a writer - especially a debut writer - is difficult to work with, very little effort will be put into making that book amount to anything. They will cut their losses and any hope of future work together the author had are out the door. Again, this is just the highlight of the process.

Jerry Simmon's book covers this in depressing detail, but if you want to play ball with the big kids, you should google Jerry and buy his book - AND READ IT. (It is the one with a stack of books on the cover.)

There are line editors. They focus on grammar and punctuation items. Enough said.

Sometimes proof readers are not the same as a line editor, sometimes they will proof a ms after it is formatted into book form.

The one clear point is that an editor does not rewrite your book. You have to do that. They are not going to change your voice. They will cut out the garbage and the hard part for beginning writers is to let go of the unessential stuff that does not serve the story.

When someone calls their book, "their baby," I steer clear of them. Most likely they will treasure every word and be more trouble than they are worth to get an ms ready to be a book. There are literally millions of writers in the world. No one needs to put up with a diva - and they won't.

The point of this is less about editing an ms into a book, and more about moving the writer to an author's mentality.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Before Editing

A reminder here, you can hire a line editor - proof reader (I know a good one if anyone needs one). But there is more to being a good fiction writer than grammar and punctuation. A perfect, error free ms isn't necessarily a good read. There are elements of the craft that are more important than the occasional subject/verb out of agreement.

A fiction writer needs to practice the skills of the craft: Character Development (not a two paragraph mini bio that stops the story dead - boring), pacing (sentence structure and context that matches the action of the words), scene (the development of vignettes that drive the story forward and develop the characters, create conflict and resolution), setting (only stand up comedians work on an empty stage - put people in the city scenes and animals in the rural scenes, and a habitat to match the setting), tone (the flavor of the story, the aftertaste), voice (who tells the story, the 'personality' of the storyteller - not the writer), literary devices (personification, foreshadowing, dialogue, backstory, and more), plots, plot arcs, and subplots, tense, point of view (POV) - see the links below for more info.

Notice I did not mention once that to be a good fiction writer you need to know the 48 prepositions or the 8 parts of speech (The basic eight parts of speech in the English language consist of the verb, noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction and interjection.)

Writing fictioin is like building a house. You need to have electrical, plumbing, structure, design, a roof - the paint and floor covering are last. Novice writers try to paint before the walls are up --they edit prematurely.

I've put together some books on writing on the third page of my amazon store If you buy only one book, buy the script writing book. Read the parts about camera angle and the parts that teach you to write a motion picture in your reader's mind. There are several other books I like, I'll ask Joyce - my web designer - to add them for me.

If you are editing while you write or right after the first draft is finished, it will show, it will not be your best possible work - I read far more mss than I read published books. I can tell at what stage the editing was done and your eventual readers will too, even if they don't know what is lacking. While editing is important, it is far less important than good writing...and that comes with rewrites. Basically, editing for grammar and punctuation is the last step of polishing an ms.

Writing a good story is the first step, that is why I say the elements of producing fiction are these in this order:

First draft - written from beginning to end, straight through, no going back at all - ever.
Rewrites - strengthening the story with literary elements of good story writing, done correctly, this step will be repeated several times - straight through, beginning to end.
Edit - cleaning up grammar and punctuation. And finally, line editing or proof reading.

From there you can query agents, shop your ms, or move into one of the many ways to publish your own book.

The saying goes: "Writers write" not "Writers edit." Don't get off track on what it is you wanted to be when you started writing, you wanted to be a WRITER.

Literary devices:
ms = manuscript

Goodness, google 'literary devices' learn the craft, it is far MORE than editing.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Editing links

by Glyn Pope, France, guest blogger

After the first draft of our masterpiece is written comes the time to begin to rewrites and edits. I found this page quite useful for self edit:

During the blog party, the following links were offered. To make them more easily accessible for a reference to bookmark, I compiled them for this post.

For grammar and writing
The Guide to Grammar and Writing is a reference resource I have used for some years now. It makes fascinating browsing too, especially in the so-called Grammarlogs (their Q&A section)
– Nick Daws blogging at:

I love my friend June Casagrande's Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies (Penguin). It's funny and makes the point about many rules not being "rules" at all. And it's entertaining! Everyone should read one book a month on language, editing and the art of publishing. It's our careers. Even if we aren't writers.
– Carolyn Howard-Johnson blogging at the following:

It is a holiday weekend in the USA, meet my guest blogger!
Glyn Pope is an author of two published novels, Learning To Wave and To The End Of Love. Glyn blogs at

Sunday, September 6, 2009


My best guess is some of you are laughing already.

Why a bound transcript of the BLOG PARTY? I know it is on the internet, but I make books - that's what I do.

It is a gift, a memento, a party favor, a 'thank you' to our guest authors.

Click on covers to enlarge.

It will be printed by my printer here in Phoenix, Arizona, and mailed to each guest author - autographed, of course. Obviously, it will be a short print run, but I'll put the extra copies on my website if anyone else wants one - autographed, of course!

I don't have the final page count yet, but it will be perfect bound, like my books, 5.5 x 8.5 inches and this is the cover art. The back lists each author who participated in the BLOG PARTY.

This isn't the is the next beginning. I love you.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Writers are alchemists with the ability to suspend time, to transport others to another world or reality, to make mortal a figment of our imaginations. Nadine Laman, 07

Marsha Stewart is my friend from Phoenix, Arizona, who lives in England. Marsha is a writer and a photographer. Marsha offered one of her photograph note cards sets to the blog party - because she is a very generous person, and because I am a huge fan of her photography. Marsha's cards sell in shops in Cambridgeshire, England. I have one of her cards and framed it until I find the perfect occasion to use it for a very special note.

We conspired to give her original photo note cards to one of the guest writers. Marsha and I are in agreement the gift goes to Glyn Pope. Glyn was very supportive of the blog party and of me, but he won this lovely gift for bring DJ Kirkby to all of us. (Made you smile, didn't I?) Congratulations, Glyn - and thank you very much!

Visit Marsha's blog here:

Here, Ladies and Gentlemen, are the awesome authors who guest hosted the BLOG PARTY. You are invited to friend them, follow them, and of course buy any books you did not win but really-really want.

My heartfelt thanks goes to these marvelous people:
(alphabetical by first name)

Andrew Revels
Books: Games Poor Kids Play
32 Reasons I Need A Helmet
Belly of the Beast

YouTube (Poem):

Carolyn 'Carrie' Sheppard
Book: Ghost Sniffer and Other Stories
Twitter: (business focused)
Fan site for chats and reviews:

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Books: The Frugal Book Promoter
The Frugal Editor

eMail: HoJoNews (at)

Cathy Marley
Book: Peeking Over The Edge...views from life’s middle
Blog: coming soon

Connie E. Curry
Book: Give Me Back My Glory

D.J. Kirkby
Book: From Zaftig to Aspire
Blog, Memoir:
Blog, reviews:
Blog WIP excerpts:

Erin Collins
Book: Shadow Walk: The Gathering
eMail: joyfulwriter99 (at)

Frederiko Aguilar
Book: The Desert Has No King

Glyn Pope
Book: Learning To Wave
To The End Of Love
eMail: gjpopeuk (at)

Irene Watson
Book: The Sitting Swing: Finding Wisdom to Know the Difference
Good info here: ttp://

Jeannine Garsee
Books: Before, After, And Somebody In Between
Say The Word


Joy Collins
Books: Second Chance
Coming Together

Publishing company: Chalet Publishers, LLC:

Karl Moore
Books: The Secret Art of Self Development
The 18 Rules of Happiness
The Little Book of Inspiration


Kip Cosson
Book: Ned Visits New York

Nadine Laman
Books: Kathryn’s Beach
High Tide
Storm Surge

Blog: http://www.nadinelaman.blogspot.comy/
Fan page, write reviews, dish spoilers!
eMail: NadineLaman (at)

Nick Daws
Book: The Festival on Lyris Five
Write Any Book In Under 28 Days
Essential English For Authors
Plus this:

Ray Derby
Books: Shadow Government
Bradley's Ghost
Clouds of Deception


Rita Toews
Books: The Bully: A Discussion and Activity Story
Bullying: A Parent's Primer


Susan Gabriel
Book: Seeking Sara Summers
eMail: writergabriel (at)

And with this, you have some of the finest people I know. Please take a well earned bow, my friends.

Post-party thoughts are welcomed in the comment section.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Oh What A Party!

Whew! Thank you! Thank you very much! What a party!

This is the first ever 4 week long Blog Party where free autographed books were given away by the authors every blog day - Monday through Friday!

Aren't we... all. that. Jaaaaaaazzz!

One more time, a very special thank you to the authors who participated: Joy Collins (US), Carolyn 'Carrie' Sheppard (UK), Jeannine Garsee (US), Erin Collins (US), Andrew Revels (US), Susan Gabriel (US), Glyn Pope (France), Carolyn Howard-Johnson (US), Frederiko Aguilar (US), Kip Cosson (US), Connie E. Curry (US), Irene Watson (US), Rita Towes (Canada), Nick Daws (UK), Ray Derby (US), Cathy Marley (US), and Karl Moore (UK), DJ Kirkby (UK)...and me (US).

Congratulations to each of you! You are winners in my book!

Ivy - Storm Surge by Nadine Laman
Kate - Kathryn's Beach by Nadine Laman
Nidhi - Second Chance by Joy Collins
Kate - Ghost Sniffer and Other Stories by Carolyn Sheppard
Susan - Ghost Sniffer and Other Stories by Carolyn Sheppard
Ella - Say The Word by Jeannine Garsee
Carrie - Say The Word by Jeannine Garsee
Nick - Shadow Walk: The Gathering by Erin Collins
Connie - Belly Of The Beast by Andrew Revels
Ivy - Seeking Sara Summers by Susan Gabriel
Roman - To The End Of Love by Glyn Pope
Peggy - The Frugal Editor by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Kevin - Shadow Government by Ray Derby
Kate - The Desert Has No King by Frederiko Aguilar
the Hobbit -Ned Visits New York by Kip Cosson
Pesky Kid - Ned Visits New York by Kip Cosson
Mary - The Bully by Rita Y. Toews
Andrew - Give Me Back My Glory by Connie E. Curry
Nick - Give Me Back My Glory by Connie E. Curry
Glyn - The Sitting Swing: Finding Wisdom to Know the Difference by Irene Watson
Peggy - The Sitting Swing: Finding Wisdom to Know the Difference by Irene Watson
Ivy - The Sitting Swing: Finding Wisdom to Know the Difference by Irene Watson
Carrie - Coming Together by Joy Collins and Joyce Norman
Anne - High Tide by Nadine Laman
Fiona - The Festival On Lyris Five by Nick Daws
Peggy - The Festival On Lyris Five by Nick Daws
Peggy - Peeking Over The Edge by Cathy Marley
Ivy - Peeking Over The Edge by Cathy Marley
Cathy - The Secret To Self Development by Karl Moore
Carrie - From Zaftig to Aspie by DJ Kirkby
Nick - From Zaftig to Aspie by DJ Kirby

Winners, please make sure you have given me your mailing address. I encourage you to blog or otherwise post a book review for the books you won. If you blog, tweet or anything else about the book you won, Please let me know about that and where the reviews are posted and I'll pass the note to our guest writers! Questions? Email me.

Suggestions of places to post reviews include online book sellers, free book review sites, your blog, and Most authors have their favorite place for reviews, so let me encourage you to contact the authors.

As Diana Ross sings, Reach Out And Touch Somebody, we partied in 57 countries: Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Canary Island, Chech Republic, Chile, Cote d’lvoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Republic of Maldives, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, The Netherlands, The United States (USA), Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay.

There are no words to express how I feel about what happened here. It was a lark comment about my 100th blog post and look what transpired - a celebration of writers, readers, and the writing craft. People have met who might not have otherwise met, friendships have been forged, and the world has glimpsed again why literature is important in society. I say with no hesitation, writers are among the finest people in the world. You are the heart, mind, and soul of this craft. I'm very glad we met.

I love you, I love you all.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Party with DJ KIRKBY!

Party! Actually I feel like doing the conga line again, but dance to the music that you like. This party rocks! This is the first time ever this type of thing has been done on a blog and like Woodstock, you can say you were here when it happened. Everyone is invited, welcomed, and I mean everyone! Jump in...and let's rock this day!

Cathy won Karl's new book yesterday. Congratulations! Way to go! I'll send your address to Karl.

DJ Kirkby (UK) is a writer I met the first day of this blog party. Glyn Pope (France) introduced us and I think it is only fitting that our last guest writer at the party is the one I met the first day. Not only that, but DJ and I are living with 'invisible disabilities' and we write! Oh boy, do we do that.

When you look at either of us, we look like you. But when we look at you, we know we are different and must translate from our world into yours, so we can interact in your 'typical' world. (DJ says, 'typical' - I say, 'normal')

When DJ said to me that, "School was soul destroying," it was the first time someone has named the experience I had too. Both DJ and I feel strongly about being open with her Autistic spectrum 'disability' (Aspergers) and my dyslexia. Neither of us want sympathy, goodness, this stuff doesn't hurt, it is just harder some days than others. There are a lot worse things we could have.

In her words, "I am determined that my disability will be used to raise autism awareness, to show that a disability does not mean I am incapable just that I have to do things differently to achieve the same outcome."

When we talked about the slant I was going to use today, DJ said, "Yes please champion us and our abilities as disabled people. I still do not know how to interpret facial expressions. I describe attending work as trying to act out a play in a 'forgeign language', so I have to translate it to my aspie language before I can perform in the foreign language of neurotypical people." I said that same foreign language thing here:

We can both overload with too much 'too much' from your world. For me it can be the blinking cursor on my monitor, all that bloody input on facebook, those horrible flashing ads on websites, the ceiling fan that my husband loves (I hate) -- all are like a stun gun to my thoughts, jumbling them more, so they don't come out right on my keyboard. For DJ it can be an unexpected tone of voice or a smile that doesn't fit the words when they are naked and without emotion. It is forgetting the expectation of greetings or enquiries to one's well being. "I struggle every day, some days all day. I won't pretend it is easy but I do want people to know that anything is possible if you work hard enough at it." - DJ Kirkby. Learn more about DJ here: and here:

Emailing with DJ has been like finding one of my own kind...a bit different, but finally, I'm not trying to explain what it is like to be on the outside of an inside joke. DJ labours to understand the subtle non-verbal communications and social pleasantries, I labor to be understood by using social pleasantries. We are two sides of the same coin and I think that is just perfect for the makings of a friendship. (Thank you, Glyn!)

Oddly as it may seem, we both found written language to be a bridge between our world and yours. DJ's memoir of her life as a hippy child in Canada, then UK, and her (OMG! finally at age 40) diagnosis with Aspergers is titled, From Zaftig to Aspie.

See DJ's YouTube:

THIS is DJ reading from her book!

Party Game: DJ is giving away two signed copies of From Zaftig to Aspie. To fit with the 'foreign language' concept, create an anagram of your name like this: For example, DJ Kirkby - 'J irk'd by K'. Does that make sense? OR write something you had to overcome to reach a goal (remember this is on the internet, think twice what you want to put on the net). 1 - 2 - 3 GO!

Party music from my friend, Marsha Stewart!

Music suggestion from Cathy Marley...another fine Phoenix woman, Anne Moscow, singing to all of you...from us here in Arizona USA.

This is the place to party without worrying about typos in the comments (who cares?) -- this is after all, only the FIRST DRAFT.

**If you need help navigating blogger, here are some basic instructions:
The comment section is below this line. Click on the word "comments." That's where you can leave a note. eMail me if you have trouble with this...NadineLaman(at)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Party with KARL MOORE!

We are partying halfway into our fourth week - and 'they' said it couldn't be done! Well, we party hardy! We rock! We chat! We give away autographed books! Everyone is invited, everyone!

Once again, our guest writer had so much fun that by the end of the day she doubled her offer of autographed books. The winners of Cathy's book are (cover your ears, they're gonna scream - I guarantee it) Ivana and Peggy! Congratulations ladies! This just proves it is easy to win, if you play. (don't need to email me, I have your addresses)

One of my first memories of Karl Moore is he emailed me an audio email. How techy is that! So AOL talked to me in this dreamy British voice, Karl's. He is amazing. He is a very energetic young man who sponsors, so there is no fee to join the awesom-est writer's forum on the planet.

Karl is the host of and does the most well done author interviews I've heard. He has an easy laugh and a kind heart. Go look at Karl's smile. Click around his website and find all of his radio shows or go find the links to some of them on the links page on my website (bet Karl didn't know they were there!)

Karl is a spiritual person, I'd guess (as the Native Americans say) he is an old spirit. A couple of years ago Karl was in Sedona, Arizona. To get there from the Phoenix airport, Karl was within 5 miles of my house! Too bad we hadn't arranged a cup of coffee (or tea) and a chat.

Today's gift book is one of Karl's newest books out The Secret Art of Self Development. You have to listen to Karl explain it on the YouTube below. One amazing fact is he launched three books simultaneously - world wide! The other two books are: The 18 Rules of Happiness, and The Little Book of Inspiration. He is such an over achiever, he also has audio book versions on Amazon US.

Party game: Karl likes inspirational quotes. Post your favorite inspirational quotes - attributed please - in the comment section to be eligible to win an autographed copy of The Secret of Self Development. The competition will be stiff, post as many as you can.

This is the place to party without worrying about typos in the comments (who cares?) -- this is after all, only the FIRST DRAFT.

**If you need help navigating blogger, here are some basic instructions:
The comment section is below this line. Click on the word "comments." That's where you can leave a note. eMail me if you have trouble with this...NadineLaman(at)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Party with CATHY MARLEY!

We are partying with our feet back on the ground, the sweet Mother Earth! Celebrating the life sustaining songs of the human spirit at its finest. Yes! Celebrate, party! Everyone is welcome to join in, everyone.

Fiona is the winner of Nick's book from yesterday. Congratulations! (email me, please) AND! As a BONUS Prize, Nick is giving away a second book to ... wait for it ... Peggy! Congratulations, girl, you worked for that one!

Cathy Marley is a Phoenix writer I met at a reception the night before a writers' conference here in the Valley of the Sun. I can't remember how many years it's been, but lots. One of the first two things I noticed about Cathy is her Doris Day smile and voice. We connected at the informal gathering and talked about the craft and the industry, and the friendship stuck.

Peeking Over The Edge: A View From Life's Middle is journey of self acceptance as roles and expectations change at midlife. Cathy's stories read like an afternoon talk, like reading her diary while curled up on a sunlit chaise with iced tea, like listening to one's own heart.

Cathy writes in the Preface: "I needed to know the world would be a better place for my having lived and that when I am gone I will be remembered as more than just a woman who put in her time." Thus began the meeting of the woman inside and the sagging rear in the mirror.

I cannot say better than another wonderful Phoenix woman, Betts McCalla, said: "I am enjoying your book so much I am trying to figure out how to put it in the freezer like Snickers bars and just take a little nibble at a time."

View Cathy's video:

Party Game: Chose two questions listed below to be eligible to win Cathy's Peeking Over The Edge: Views From Life's Middle. Look here for the answers:

1) What is the significance of Friday the 13th in Cathy’s story “The White Suit?”
2) Who wrote & performed the original music for Cathy’s Peeking Over the Edge video?
3) Who shot the cover photo for Peeking Over the Edge?

And last, since Peeking Over the Edge was originally written for them, two of my all-time favorite questions for my fellow baby boomers:

1)What famous actress took off her clothes when she was in the original cast of the musical Hair?
2) What well-known weather man created Ronald McDonald and played him in the first three television ads featuring the character?

This is the place to party without worrying about typos in the comments (who cares?) -- this is after all, only the FIRST DRAFT.

**If you need help navigating blogger, here are some basic instructions:
The comment section is below this line. Click on the word "comments." That's where you can leave a note. eMail me if you have trouble with this...NadineLaman(at)