Friday, March 25, 2016

Fine, I'll try outlining / Happenings In The Outhouse 25-Mar-2016

As of today, the polish edit on Discarded is complete.

"According to the FBI, more than 100,000 young women and children are victims of human sex trafficking in the United States.  Globally, that number is in the millions.

Little does Minneapolis PD Investigator Kolin Raynes know that finding a discarded cell phone would lead him into the murky world of human sex trafficking.  And Kassi Young, a homeless teenage prostitute, isn't the only one to fall into their clutches."

When it's up for sale, I will provide a link to it.

As I wrap up Discarded, I'm planning the fourth novel in the Central Division Series.  Much of it is in my head.  This time around, I'm going to do something I don't normally do: outline.


Before you freak out and run for the hills, let me say right up front that I do a little planning with each novel.  For this next book, I will do a bit more.

I'm always experimenting with refining my writing process and feel the need to give outlining the old college try.

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The best time to think of keywords and book descriptions / Happenings In The Outhouse 18-Mar-2016

When I start a new story, whether it's a short story, novella, novelette, or novel, I create three documents, without exception:

1) the story document

2) book description

3) keywords

Although most believe creating the story itself is the hardest part, what's equally difficult are creating the book description and proper keywords.  Through trial and error, I find it easier to think of these as I'm writing the first draft than once everything is polished and ready for publication.


Full of questions, aren't we?  No problem.  One should always ask questions when they do not understand something.

In my former writer life of submitting queries to agents, I found (and I'm not alone) that the elevator pitch portion of the query letter, the 2-3 sentence summary, was difficult.  How to summarize a 500-page novel into 3 sentences?  It can be done.  It just takes practice.  Go onto Amazon and read book descriptions in the same genre as yours to get an idea on what to look for.

Keywords are the same way.  At the bottom of each book's Amazon page are genres and sub-genres.  There are courses by other authors who teach this.  In the limited time here right now, I highly suggest going to Google and search it.  You can even go to Nick Stephenson's Your First 10K Readers site to assist you with this as well.

Bottom line is that it's a good idea to start thinking of keywords and book descriptions while you're writing the book, because you can tweak them along the way.

Update on Discarded, Book 3 in the Central Division Series: the book is complete and the editing changes have been made.  I'm going to do 1-2 polish reads, and then I'll hitting PUBLISH!  For now, I am putting it through Amazon only, at least for the 90-day KDP Unlimited period, and then it will be published elsewhere.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The evils of social media / Happenings In The Outhouse 11-Mar-2016

Time, time, time.

You only have so much of it.  168 hours to be exact, each and every week, each and every one of us.  No exceptions.  People constantly complain they do not have enough time for this, that, and the other thing, yet others create astonishing inventions, fabulous works of art, or build a financial empire on the same amount of time.

I title this piece the evils of social media because social media, whether Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. all seem to suck the time away if you're not aware of it.  I have no problems with social media per se.  I've connected with friends and relatives from way back, and when tragedy strikes one can reach out to offer a prayer of condolence.

But if you are creating something, look at how you spend your time.  At my full-time job, I have two 15-minute breaks and one 30-minute lunch.  That's a total of 60 minutes I can use to create something away from home, whether it's working on a first draft, editing a story, working on the elevator pitch, or even brainstorming a new story idea.  If I take the first five minutes and peruse Facebook for the latest news that isn't relative to me, that's 15 of the 60 minutes.  (And I do write at home too, in case you're wondering).

Do I really care what someone says about Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton, Ted Cruz or "Weekend at Bernie's" Sanders?  Do I have any impact on the legalization of marijuana or gay marriage debate?  Would spending my time commenting on a Facebook post, unless it's directly related to the work I'm creating, be a good management of my precious time?

No.  It's not.  I work hard at only doing tasks that further my writing empire.

Besides my blogs, I do work best through my blogs and e-mail.  If you wish to contact me: - I do answer e-mail, if you ask me a question.  That is the one task I do.  Now, I also subscribe to a number of newsletters.  When I open my e-mail during the day, I take a quick look to see what it is.  Most I save for later.

How much time are you spending on social media, on issues not directly related to your work in progress?  Could that time be better spent creating instead?

It is, for me.  How about you?

Friday, March 4, 2016

Discarded - Book 3 - nearing the finish line / Happenings In The Outhouse 03-March-2016

The third book in the Central Division Series, titled Discarded, is nearing the finish line.  My goal is to publish it by the end of March 2016.

At this point, I'd like to share the prologue.  This is still a work-in-progress, but is getting close to done.  This story deals with the larger issue of human sex trafficking, which is a scary subject in and of itself.  Here is the prologue.  Enjoy!


Kassi Young awakens to darkness, save for the amber streetlights whizzing by overhead.

She’s in the back of a car, lying across the seats.  The stench of musty, old leather and cigarette smoke causes her throat to convulse.  The lump of her cell phone in her front pocket digs into her hip.

She inches her hand down, careful not to make any sound against the leather seats.

“Charlie wants to know the ETA,” the female passenger says.

Kassi knows the driver tonight as Mitch, but doesn’t think that’s his real name.  Last month, she heard someone call him Dave.  And before that it was Matt and even Bob.  She doesn’t know the woman at all.  She’s been a mystery before tonight.

“I’d tell him if I knew where the fuck I am,” Mitch says.  “Goddamned fucking road construction.”

Kassi slips the cell out.  She glances up, just as a streetlight passes by, and luckily sees only the back of the seat.

Her cell is off.  With a limited amount of places to charge it where she lives, she keeps it off until she needs it.  She learned this the hard way when she first started living on the streets.  Her first night out, a girl named Megan saw her using Facebook and told her the web uses up too much juice.  “Trust me, I even suggest shutting off all web stuff.  Limit it to texting.”

Kassi didn’t heed the warning.  Her cell died in the middle of the night.  The only available power outlets were at Rosie’s, the community church, or at the homeless shelter, the latter if she’s lucky to snag a spot for the night.  Which she didn’t.  Rosie’s was closed then and the church outlets had a very long line.

Despite being in vibrate mode now, her cell still makes the usual droid sound when powering up.  Holding her thumb over the speaker along the back, she pushes the power button.  The screen lights up and she immediately presses it against her chest, praying Mitch and the woman don’t see it.

“Do you even know if we’re going the right way?” the woman asks.

“How the fuck am I supposed to know?  Why don’t you check on our passenger.”

Oh, shit!

Kassi closes her eyes as she hears the crinkle of leather in front of her.  She wraps both hands over the cell, concealing it the best she can.

But who is she gonna call?  She can’t call her parents.  Even if they know where she is and what she’s doing--or what she is supposed to be doing, which is earning a few bucks sucking or fucking--they still aren’t able to help.  Not even her two friends, Pink and Lemon, can do anything.

She counts to twenty and peeks open one eye.  A streetlight passes by, illuminating the headrest and nothing more.  She hits the phone icon, careful not to allow very much light from the screen to seep up, and then taps the dialing pad.

“911 emergency,” the dispatcher’s voice says and Kassi immediately presses her thumb over the ear speaker.

“You hear something?” Mitch asks.

“Like what?”

Kassi brings the cell up to her cheek and whispers, “Help me.”


A hand snatches the cell away from her, a long fingernail scratching her cheek.

“Did you even bother to search her?” the woman asks.

“Of course.”

“Then explain this.

“Here, let me see it,” says Mitch.

“What are you gonna do, Russ?”

Russ?  No, it can’t be.

“Shh--how many times . . . shit.  She called the cops.”

The woman peers over the seat.  “You’re gonna pay for this, you fucking cunt!”

A chilly breeze fills the interior.

“There.  Matter solved.”

“But what if the cops trace it?” she asks.

“What the fuck are they gonna find?  There’s nothing that can be linked back to us.”

The window closes, yet the cool air linger on.

Kassi’s only other option for escape is to dig her nails into Mitch’s neck, but that option is cut short as the woman leans back and presses a cloth over her face.  Before she can claw at her arm, a strong, sweet smell overcomes her and everything fades into a swirling pool of black and amber . . .