Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Being a Proctor

What I do in my day job came up on the email loop and I thought I'd post about being a proctor at Kingwood College http://www.kingwoodcollege.com/Templates/Content.aspx?pid=1931

(Wow!! Now that's a long address!!)

I administer tests - placement tests, makeup tests, tests being taken for online classes at another institution, and various other types of tests.

I give the tests and then keep an eye on the test taker to make sure he/she doesn't cheat. It's not a difficult job and I get to meet a lot of nice, although a bit nervous, people. And, for the record, I've never caught anyone cheating.

On first glance, people fall into stereotypes. I've seen the blonde Barbie Dolls, the jocks, the psuedo-intellectuals, and the goths - complete with tattoos, and all kinds of body piercings. But once you get to talking to them on a personal level, you get to know them a bit and they break out of that stereotype and become individuals. Most of them really are just big kids trying to find their way in an adult world that seems not only strange to them, but also hostile. I'm surprised at how many students expect to be treated rudely by the adults they have to deal with.

I'm lucky because I have two daughters the same age as the students and I know about their world - about gaming, manga, (Japanese comic books) and anime (Japanese cartoons).

I'm also lucky because I really like people. Every person has a story to tell, and I enjoy listening.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

If Crazy Horse only knew

This may sound like an unusual title, but if you stay with me you will either see how I tie it in, or you will think I am nuts and that is entirely possible....:)

Anyway, Lufkin, Texas, the city I reside in now has a cultural center. In it, they display and help people sell things like their artwork, and all kinds of things, including books. Now, how in the world could an aspiring author not take advantage of that?

This morning they had what they call an open mike where the people with things in the center can talk about themselves and their work.

Naturally, I couldn't miss that. As it turned out, only two of us showed up to get on the mike. This program lasts an hour, and being the gentleman that I am, I offered to let the woman go first. I think she was a little shy in the beginning, so I got up.

Now, I have been called many things in my lifetime, most can't be repeated on here, and most of them were probably true, but no one has ever called me shy.

I started telling them about my novel, Journey of the Spirit, Crazy Horse, all his accomplishments, and about the ten years I researched the novel, how and where I went, and as time flew by, the woman saw all the time evaporating and she lost some of her shyness. About fifty-five minutes into it, and I had the audience on the edge of their seats, she finally wrestled the mike away from me.

I really believe everyone their will buy my novel, except her. I want tell you the things she mumbled about me, and they were probably true.

Crazy Horse was much like the lady, shy and didn't like to talk about himself. Therefore, today, everyone knows about Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, but few know about Tashunke Witco. That is Crazy Horse in Lakota.

Unlike Crazy Horse and the woman, the people there sure know about me, now.... :)

I just hope they let me come back!


checking in

It's very quiet around here the last couple of days. That must mean everyone is busy, busy, busy! I know I have been.

As you know, I got my blog going. (Diana, I'd like to list your blog on my list of favs, too, if you'd send me a link to it, please.) I finally had a friend on line help me get it set up the way I wanted it. I (and she) had big time problems with the new Blogger. We eventually went back to the old template of it.

In a discussion about business cards, and whether or not to include your phone number on it (which I've not done, for obvious reasons) I learned of a web site where you can set up a voice box where you can retrieve your messages, either on line or off, and all at no charge. So, this morning I got that set up, and will have new cards printed as soon as I get my art work book cover. BTW, do most people use their book cover art on their business cards? I assume so. Publicize with everything we have -- fingers, toes, signs on our vehicles (John!).

That reminds me, I read of one guy who had his WHOLE vehicle painted with the book cover art of his book, and had solds lots of books that way! Man, though, that paint job must have really set him back a pretty penny! Think I'll do like John, and have a magnetic sign made for my car door.

AND amidst all these marketing strategies I'm setting up, I'm doing a final tightening of the second book. I figure I'll need it ready to submit about the same time DANCE hits the bookstores. Hustle, hustle, hustle!

Friday, January 26, 2007


Okay, I think I finally got my Blog up and arranged the way I want -- at least for now! I don't get called a tenacious bull (Taurus) for nothing! Worked on that thing all day, because I couldn't figure out how to get my photo on the Profile. Late last night, I finally figured it out with some help from my son-in-law, who has a couple of blogs.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Me, too!

Guess what I did this morning. Yep, I knew you'd guess. I created my personal blog! I've resisted doing that until I got a contract -- so now's the time. I'll post a lot of my news, events, progress, etc. on that. Come by and visit at


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Journey of the Spirit

Thank you for the compliments John Foxjohn!
Lisa and I started L&L Dreamspell to make dreams come true--and our Dreamviews are another way to help authors get the word out about their books. I enjoy creating these mini movies--watch for more coming soon!
For anyone who happens to see this blog and doesn't have the link to John Foxjohn's Dreamview for his novel Journey of the Spirit here is the link:
And please visit our website to find out more about the book!
Thanks again, John--

WOW! These girls are good

This may be hard to beleive, but I viewed my Dreamview this morning and it left me speechless. People who know me know how incredible something has to be to render me wordless.

Couldn't believe the incredible job Linda did on it. I spent all day e-mailing people all across the country telling them about it and inviting them to look at it. I have had some tremendous comments and it is no wonder.

When I first heard about this publishing company, I must admit I had some doubts. When I met them in person, most of those doubts left. I can assure you, they are all gone, now.

Lisa, I am ready to talk about that contract....:)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Glad to be a part of the group!

I'm excited! Yesterday, I signed a contract with L & L Dreamspell to publish my first novel entitled DANCE ON HIS GRAVE. As a new author of L & L, have been invited to join the blog. I look forward to getting better acquainted with everyone, and fun times writing, publishing, selling, and talking about mystery and suspense.

I'm not a mystery/suspense biggot, either! I've started reading Lisa's COLIN'S CONQUEST and having a great time with the bloody romance! Next, on to Diana's NINTH, and then John's JOURNEY when it comes out this Spring.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Book Preview

This will be a short post just to thank Linda for the excellent job she did on the Book Preview. She had a dilly of a editing job!!! Looking into the lens of a camera is very unnerving.

But, Linda pulled it all together and made it work!!!

She is an incredible artist.

A Big Hug and a Huge Thank You!!!


Ice Storm

As I sit here in the early morning hours with a cat on my lap and a cup of coffee nearby, I'm thinking of how everything is A-okay in my little world. We survived the ice storm that hit Houston a few days ago and didn't get any broken branches or have a power outage. And, I found it actually thrilling to see icicles once again.

When I was ten and we came back from Japan we lived for a couple of years in New Waverly, Indiana. New Wavery was, and is still, a tiny place, but I absolutely loved living there. In the winter I'd get up before dawn and walk about four blocks to the catch the schoolbus. I don't remember ever being cold. What I do remember is how the snow sparkled in the moonlight and appeared light blue. It was indeed a winter wonderland.

Of course, being a kid, I didn't have to deal with the realities of snow. I didn't have to drive in it or shovel the sidewalk. I just enjoyed it.

Which is what I did with our recent ice storm. I didn't have to go out on the roads, so I stayed in where it was warm and toasty. I only wish everyone could have done the same.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Check out Diana's Dreamview video!

L&L Dreamspell is proud to announce our very first "Book Preview" video.
We're calling our version "Book Dreamviews" and they're a lot of fun!
Diana L Driver's upcoming novel Ninth Lord of the Night is showcased in this two minute "teaser" viewable now at YouTube. Here's the link:
Not only are we staying competitive in the book marketing field with this new technology, we're also filming longer interview style videos to use as promotional pieces.
It's interesting to "meet" authors, find out more about them, and learn why they wrote their books.
Stay tuned for even more "Dreamviews" from L&L Dreamspell...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Demise of Murder Ink.

Sometimes I miss things, even though the information is there on my writer's loops. I don't read all the posts and then I'm literally "out of the loop."

On January 1st it was announced that the largest speciality bookstore in the United States - Murder Ink. in New York - was closing its doors. What a shame. They cited a rent increase and falling sales, due to chain bookstores and the internet, as the reasons.

A sign of the times, I guess. Such a shame.


Thursday, January 4, 2007

Welcome Aboard Diana L Driver!

I'm happy that you've joined the discussion on our L&L Dreamspell author team blog!
The beginning of a new year, during the cold winter months, seems perfect for writers. We're often eager to begin new projects, or else "resolve" to finish one or more of our "works in progress"--and when it's cold outside I know I'm happy to cozy up to the notebook computer--it makes a great lap warmer!
So everyone make yourself another pot of hot coffee, tea or cocoa and get busy writing. If you need some ideas L&L Dreamspell has some fun anthologies in the works that are open for submissions right now. Here's the link: Anthologies
If anyone has an idea for a group anthology, in any of the genres we publish, Lisa and I are interested in your suggestions! Write to us here: Publishing
Now get busy writing!

William Fitchner

Ever since Elaine "Cash" Anthony optioned the screen rights to NINTH LORD OF THE NIGHT, I've been thinking about actors to play the various parts. Mind you, I won't have a say in it all. I'm not too familiar with the younger stars, but I have decided that if wishes could come true, I'd really like William Fitchner http://www.williamfichtner.org/ to play either the part of the murderous smuggler or the part of Uncle Clifton.

For those who might not be familiar with Mr. Fitchner's work, he was Sulley in Perfect Storm and his latest part was as the sheriff in the television show Invasion. Recently he was in Dallas filming a new television show called Prison Break. I don't know when that show is set to air, but I read that they've shot two seasons and might be back to shoot another.

I've seen all his movies, including Black Hawk Down and he's an incredibly gifted actor.

Anyway, if wishes were to come true, I'd get to meet Mr. Fitchner who'd smile at me and agree to at least look at the novel and screen play to see if it interested him.

LOL - well, I CAN dream, can't I?


Wednesday, January 3, 2007

About Writing - Perception

A few days before Christmas I was driving by the airport on my way to work and a jumbo jet roared over as it took off into the clouds. I thought about the people on that plane and how excited they must be to on their holiday journey.

A few miles later, another jet flew over - this time the huge plane was coming in for a landing. I thought about those people who would soon be getting off the plane and how their journey was almost at an end. I imagined how excited their family members must be knowing their loved ones would soon be arriving.

Thinking of those happy families meeting and greeting each other put a smile on my face. I had Christmas music playing on the car radio and all was right with the world.

Until I pulled up and stopped at a red light. Stopped beside me was a large white bus with the words DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. I couldn't tell if there were any people on the bus or not as the windows were darkly tinted. The light changed to green and as the bus made its turnoff towards the airport entrance, I thought about the people who might be on that bus, whether or not they were being deported and if so, the reality they were experiencing.

That's what we do as writers. We consider all points of view, various realities, and different perceptions. The good and the bad. The happy and the sad. And, we give our characters experiences that bring those types of realities to the reader. In the end, real human emotion is what suspends disbelief.

My thoughts about perceptions.


Happy to be Here!!!!

Like John's BLOG about writing about Crazy Horse, I also knew I had a tale to tell with Ninth Lord of the Night. I knew from the getgo it was a good story. What took years was learning how to write well enough to do the storyline justice. And, I guess that's what writing is all about. Learning the craft so that a good story isn't ruined by poor writing.

I have high hopes for this book, especially now that Linda and Lisa are in charge of the publication and will have a hand in the marketing and promotion. Also, the book has been optioned for film and already the screenwriter has had some interest in her script from people in the movie business. We'll see what happens - Hollywood is a different kind of business than anything I've ever known.

I am grateful to Linda and Lisa for all the support they have given me. This is the beginning of a great relationship - one that will last for years and years.

Happy New Year to everyone at L&L Dreamspell!!!

Happy New Year to all of our readers. You are what make this life GREAT!


Welcome Aboard John Foxjohn!

Lisa and I are delighted you joined the L&L Dreamspell team! Thanks for participating in our new author group blog. It's always exciting to work on a new project, and I thoroughly enjoyed creating a very special cover for your wonderful new book Journey of the Spirit.
Anyone who'd like to find out more about the book should follow this link to the L&L Dreamspell website page for Journey of the Spirit -- http://www.lldreamspell.com/JourneyoftheSpirit.html
Once again, welcome aboard!
Linndah aka Linda Houle

A journey worth taking

When I was twelve, I read a book about Crazy Horse. That was too many year ago to mention. From that moment on, I wanted to write--but not write just anything, I wanted to write a book about Crazy Horse. My problem, I didn't know how, and I wanted to write one where people could not only learn about the history, they could enjoy it, too.

Years after reading the first Crazy Horse book, I read a novel by Ester Forbes titled, Johnny Tremain. I loved the book and it introduced me to two things: the term historical fiction, and a way I could write my story of Crazy Horse.

Again, I had a problem. I liked him, but sure didn't know enough about him or his people to write a book. I used my skills as a historian and investigator from a previous life...:) and began researching Crazy Horse and the Lakota.

This research took me many, exciting places. Ten years later, I still conducted research and hadn't written one single page on the book. I visited every single battlefield a couple of times--every museum, reservation, and talked to thousands of Lakota. I browsed dusty archives, talked to the curators, and walked the places I knew Crazy Horse had. Oh yeah, in the process, I also learned to speak the language.

When I started my journey to learn, I sought people who I thought were in the know. I am now in a position when people need information about Crazy Horse, the Lakota, the battles, I am the one they contact. I still hadn't written a page.

That was soon to stop. I sat down and wrote the book. I can't explain to you how it felt to finally finish that darn book. Bestseller and movie deals swam in my dreams. Riches beyond my wildest dreams clogged my thoughts.

Of course, when I was twelve, none of this mattered. I just wanted to write the book.

I started submitting my masterpiece and the rejections rolled in. This, I couldn't understand. Why didn't these people want a book that would rival Gone with the Wind?

I didn't know why. All I knew is, they didn't want it. I sat my book up and didn't touch it for a year, then got it out. In that time, I began to learn how to write. When I picked my manuscript up, I found out something. That had to be the worst book ever written in history. Hey, a normal book like this is between 80-100,000 words. Mine was only 190,000 spots of dribble.

I re-wrote and re-wrote it, and sat it aside another year, and got it out and re-wrote it again, and then I edited.

When I last edited it, I knew then, that the book was ready. Before I didn't know enough to know if it was ready.

They say that all things have a purpose. Now, just think, if someone had taken the book the first time, things would not have been in place. Those things I talk about are Lisa and Linda at L&L Dreamspell. Yes, my publishers.

Now, the book isn't perfect, but I can't tell you how excited I am about it, but I do think I found the perfect publisher for it.

Is it the next Gone with the Wind? Probably not. It is a book someone's teenager can pick up and enjoy, pass it to their dad. He reads it, and likes it so much, he passes it on to mom. She is so excited about it, she tells her friends, and the cycle continues.

Now, you might ask, is this book that good? I have a simple answer, yes.

Ninth Lord of the Night Coming Soon!

Think the Maya Gods are Dead and Buried? Think again...

L&L Dreamspell is excited to announce the upcoming Action -- Suspense novel Ninth Lord of the Night by Diana L Driver -- due for publication in early 2007.

Diana has officially joined the "Dream Team" of talented authors at L&L Dreamspell -- this book is the first of her many projects due out this year.

L&L Dreamspell is set to publish several anthologies in the first half of 2007, including Mystery of the Green Mist -- a mainstream mystery story collection -- which will include one of Diana's stories.

Also forthcoming is a group anthology from The Final Twist -- the Houston, Texas chapter of the national organization Sisters in Crime. Diana L Driver, founder of The Final Twist will also have a story in this yet to be titled mystery anthology.

Back to Ninth Lord of the Night -- here is the L&L Dreamspell weblink for the book, and from there you can visit Diana's "Dream Team" web page to read more about this talented writer!


Here's the book's back cover material:

Think the Maya gods are dead and buried? Think again... What if they're only sleeping?

Spine tingling action combines with breathtaking suspense in Ninth Lord of the Night. In less than eight hours, seventeen-year-old Zack goes from California, the land of fun and sun, to the third world nation of Guatemala, where his life is changed forever. He expects to be bored, not tangle with murderers and artifact smugglers. He wants to go home, instead he's swept into the world of Mayan myths and legends -- a world that is his to claim if he only has the courage.

Hated by his brother, distrusted by his uncle, and seen as a troublemaker by other members of the archaeological study group, the only person Zack can turn to is the beautiful Maria, a girl fighting the demons of her own heritage.

Driven by unseen forces, Zack must choose to fulfill his destiny -- a destiny he neither wants nor desires -- and go against the vicious smuggler, or resist change and leave things as they are, allowing others to reinvent his character.

Then, he must make the larger decision. Let go of the precious Mayan artifact? Or use it to redeem himself in the eys of his family?

In the steamy jungles of Guatemala, Zack will learn that every choice has consequences, and he won't always get what he wants, but that what he does get is better than anything he ever imagined.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Resolution Time!

Ah yes, the beginning of a brand new year, and time to make some resolutions.
I decided to look up "resolution"--it has several meanings. In this case we are talking about a formal statement expressing will or intent. Yet the word also means the process of resolving and "resolve" means to break up into parts: analyze.
If you are a writer, and you intend to make 2007 a productive year, then perhaps taking your writing tasks and breaking them into smaller parts, then analyzing what you need to do in smaller steps along the way might actually work!
Now I don't mean going totally anal and filling up notebook after notebook with plots and plans and notes. I've been there/done that and trust me, it didn't work--I had a dozen notebooks full of notes and never wrote that particular book...
However, I've been working on some short stories for several upcoming anthology books, and I noticed something interesting about my writing process. For the first story I jotted down one page of notes to myself--about my main characters and their traits, and some of the situations I wanted to use within the story. I wrote that story in less than a week!
The second story, well, I confess--I got lazy and didn't make my scribbled page of notes. Guess what? I've been working on it for several weeks, I'm only at the half-way point, and I'm not sure where the characters are supposed to go or how it's going to end.
The next sound you hear will be me opening up my spiral notebook and scribbling away with my trusty pencil... Check back in a week or two--I'm resolving right now to get that story finished!
Good luck with your resolutions--Linndah

Monday, January 1, 2007

Crazy about Cats?

Want to know what happens when a lonely vampire, searching for a soul mate, gets more than the girl when he finds himself mixed up with jewel thieves at a wild and crazy cat show?
Read The Cat The Canary and The Vampire by Linndah!
Visit the web link below for more information--you can also link from there to Chester the cat's personal web page, and even send him an e-mail...
Sex, Murder, and a Crazy Cat Show
Synchronicity—a Dangerous Love Connection

Sexy celebrity author Andrew Augustine’s book promotional tour was almost over. His last stop—Houston, Texas—the Gladstone Hotel’s Mind and Body Conference. No ordinary man—Andrew was an immortal vampire—constantly on the prowl, always seeking a replacement for his long lost soul mate Samantha.

Devastated from yet another break-up, Valerie Stevenson thought she’d never find her ‘Mr. Right.’ Hopping into her blue sports car with her award winning Selkirk Rex cat, she headed for the Fall Frolic cat show at Houston’s Gladstone Hotel. No idea she was driving into her future—with danger around every curve.

In the middle of everything, Chester the cat took center stage—at the cat show, a jewel heist—even in Valerie’s secret relationship with a tall dark handsome mystery man. Playing around with a vampire was like playing with fire. Would Valerie’s reckless desire lead to her own destruction?

Vampires Are Watching You!

Ready for some action packed Vampire reading?
Get Colin's Conquest by Lisa Rene' Smith!
Eyes. Intense vampire eyes...watching from the woods... Powerful, summoning eyes...

Joanna didn’t know why she felt called into the wilderness. Packing a few things, she headed to her favorite destination, her remote cabin in the east Texas piney woods to enjoy an impromptu vacation, relaxing by the lake. Nearby, a mysterious stranger watched...waited...and planned his ultimate conquest...

Colin, the handsome centenarian vampire knew from the moment he first laid eyes on the lithe young beauty he’d found the perfect mate. The time had come to claim his chosen one...but he didn’t anticipate her feisty nature, and the dangers he’d face in his pursuit. Stubborn and strong, Joanna refused to be taken against her will, yet once bitten, Colin’s hypnotic power permeated her being, causing a love/hate bond that brought about near disaster for both of them.

In the book Colin’s Conquest, Joanna’s struggle to escape her destiny delivers her moments of amazing passion, yet also brings terrifying punishment. The world of the undead is full of surprises, and even the powerful Colin doesn’t realize until almost too late that he isn’t the only member of the ancient blood seeker society who plans to take her as his bride...

Red Hot Reading by Linndah!

Start the New Year off with a BANG!
Read Infrared Nights by Linndah...
Sleeping Spirits Just Want to Have Sex—A Ghost Hunter’s Erotic Adventure

A warm August night.
Ghost hunter Amy Thompson prowled dark and mysterious Stonebridge Cemetery, armed with an infrared video camera. Spirits trapped between death and the afterlife waited amongst the tombstones, their chilling presence teased and taunted the blonde beauty—daring the girl to explore her hidden fantasies.

Would the infrared videotape capture a full apparition?
The young woman didn’t remember to ‘be careful what you wish for’ when she invited Robert Marshall’s ghost to rise up from his grave and appear for the camera. Watching Amy and Jeff’s spontaneous erotic fun and games unleashed the restless soul’s carnal cravings—the ghost hunter soon became the hunted.

Spirit communication comes in many strange forms.
Robert’s unending desire haunted Amy, trapping the girl on a sexual roller coaster ride. Dark obsession spun her around dangerous curves and propelled the girl to new heights of pleasure. Would Amy and Jeff’s relationship survive the ordeal of passion and betrayal?