A Slice of Orange


What Inspires You

February 26, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as

Life Lessons Are Ever Present

by Lori Pyne

As we walked across the parking lot towards the playing field, I warned my son to stay on the playground while his father and I joined the other parents to prepare the baseball fields for the coming season. With a quick agreement, he dashed towards the basketball court.

As I passed the group of boys my son had joined, I heard one of the boys say, “He’s in special ed.” The four small boys stepped away from my son. Rage filled my body. I stopped and stared at the tormentors. How could those brats be unkind to my sweet child? Having suffered at the hand of many school yard bullies, I was ready to battle for my son.

My son then tossed his miniature basketball towards the hoop. It missed and he chased after it. The boys stood and watched my son have a blast trying to make a basket. The older boys playing on the other court swept close and my son raced after them.

As my son did not seem concerned with the smaller boys’ refusal to play, I continued to slowly walk towards my husband. I quickly relayed the overheard comment to my husband.

My husband watched our son dash over to the slides and then turned his attention to the basketball court. Although he had been at the school for a number of lunch supervisory hours, my husband did not recognized the small boys either.

For the next hour I shifted my attention from the job at hand, keeping an eye on my son and watching the small boys. I was determined to talk to their parents. Despite my best efforts, the boys left before I identified their parents.

As I left the playground with a slow simmer cooking my temper, my son’s happiness penetrated my anger. My son had not allow the boys’ behavior ruin his enjoyment. Although I would have still liked to talk to their parents, I could control my reaction to other’s behavior.

Life lesson are everywhere. Some are gentle and quiet; and some are loud and hard to miss. The trick is to be willing to listen.


Lori Pyne is a member of OCC, and a multi-tasking volunteer. She is currently serving as one of our Online Class Moderators, Guest Reception Coordinator and Coordinator for the Book Buyers’ Best Contest for published authors. She is married with one son, and works full time for an entertainment law firm.

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e-maginings: Picture This

February 23, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as ,

I’m currently taking Suzanne McMinn’s online class Color Me Blogging, sponsored by OCC RWA. It’s a great class and we’re all learning a lot.

One of the things we discussed is putting graphics in blogs and whether readers like them or not. The only downside I can see if for people with slow modem connections as the graphics take longer to download than plain text. I spend part of the week at a location with a modem connection and I basically turn off “download images” just to speed up my internet experience. It’s not as much fun, though.

One thing you can do to make the pictures download faster is to resize them to a smaller size, say 200-300 pixels high. I use Paint Shop Pro to do that.

If you don’t have a personal picture to illustrate your blog, there are online stock photo sites where you can pick up pictures relatively inexpensively, if not free. My favorites are:



You can register for free at all of them, but you have to buy download credits to purchase the photos. The cost of the credits ranges from $1.00 to app. $2.50. The cost of the photos generally varies by size, with the smallest costing one credit and larger ones running At iStock photo, there’s always a free image of the week, plus their dollar bin section where every picture costs one credit. Dreamstime.com has a large section of free graphics. The picture in this post is a free graphic I downloaded from dreamstime.com because I loved it, but didn’t know what to do with it, so I’m sharing it here.

So, what do you think? Do you like photos with your blog entries or not? If so, small or large graphics?

Linda McLaughlin w/a Lyndi Lmaont

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Advice to Myself as a Newbie Author

February 22, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as ,

by Shauna Roberts

Today’s Guest: Debra Mullins

Debra Mullins is the author of ten historical romances from Avon Books, including her new release, The Night Before the Wedding, which involves a Scottish curse. For excerpts, check out her Website at http://www.debramullins.com or friend her at http://www.myspace.com/debramullins.

Debra, if you could travel back in time to before you were first published, what advice would you give yourself?

Ever wish you could turn back the clock? Do the whole “If I knew then what I know now” deal? Some people wish they could go back to high school with the body of an 18-year-old and the knowledge of a woman twice that age. Me, I sometimes wish I could go back to the days before I got published.

What’s that? I want to turn in my secret handshake? Not at all, dear readers. But there are things I had as a writer struggling to get her work in front of an editor that I don’t have now that I have published ten books. Enthusiasm. Opportunities. Time!

Enthusiasm. Whoever said ignorance is bliss had to be talking about the unpublished writer. Before I got published, all I could see in front of me was that golden finish line—publication. I did the networking. I did the conferences. I did the critique group thing. I spent every minute I could between kids and husband and household chores, working on my latest opus. I wasn’t writing for the market. I wasn’t worried about the cover conference or if the editor would like my hero’s name. I didn’t worry about whether my heroine kicked butt. I was writing the story that burned inside me, the one that demanded to be told. I could feel the power of it coursing through my veins. I just wrote what I saw in my head. Joyfully. Enthusiastically. Passionately.

1. It’s easy to lose sight of that joy once you get published. So the first piece of advice I would give myself is to hang on to that passion, that zeal, with both hands. It’s what brings your work to life. And it’s darned hard to get back once it’s managed to slip away from you.

2. The second piece of advice I would give myself is to prepare for the changes publication will bring. It’s a whole new world. The opportunities I was used to are no longer there. For instance, I can’t enter most chapter contests, even in a completely different genre in which I am not published, which means I can’t get that great anonymous critique of my work for just $25. I have to find different ways of getting feedback, and most of them will not result in my work getting in front of an editor as a finalist. Also, time becomes an issue. I have to make time to write the book, to do revisions, to handle copyedits, to go through page proofs. I have to find time for promotion and Website updates and judging contests. Somewhere in there I have to find time to be inspired again, to do things outside of writing to feed my muse, so the train of success can keep on rolling down the tracks.

Publication does change your life as a writer. Be prepared for that. Have a plan.

Every time I sit down in front of that blank page, I worry about a hundred things I never did before. The editor, the marketing, the cover conference—and does my heroine really, really kick butt?

3. So the last piece of advice I would give to myself, then and now, is to believe in your talent. Trust that when you reach for it, the writing will be there. Then close your eyes and jump into your story. Enjoy the ride.


Visit Debra Mullins’ Website at http://www.debramullins.com. Her book The Night Before the Wedding is available at all major bookstores and can be ordered online from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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Thursday Thirteen

February 21, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as

There is a movement in the blogging community called Thursday Thirteen (google it). Many writers blog these days, and we often run out of things to say. Well Thursday Thirteen celebrates this kind of blog fear. Pick a topic from apples to zebras and write 13 things. That’s it. And it turns out the process is strangely revealing. I recently did this for my blog on Valentine’s Day as a Singleton it was fun! So in the spirit of learning more about ourselves here’s my OCCRWA

(I know the picture should have oranges)

13. I joined OCC in 2005.
12. At my first meeting there was a sign that said OCC members had published something like 1700 books cumulatively. I remember thinking Holy COW!
11. It turns out that four of our members have published over 100 books. One has published over 200. We call them the 100+ club.
10. Although I love their books and am very proud of them I don’t have the intense need to wrap myself around any of these four women like a vine and cling.
9. I think this might be because none of them look like David Beckham.
8. Yes, I was quite delighted to hear that David and his family were moving to Los Angeles.
7. Unfortunately, despite my interest (and his wife’s diminutive size) I’m pretty sure I won’t be wrapping myself around David either.
6. You can tell Mrs. Becks is scrappy and her spike heels freak me out. (I’m a flip flops kind of gal).
5. So after nearly 3 years at OCC what have I learned?
4. Writers often go off on tangents
3. We love research particularly in the form of man candy. (You always need to keep the next story in mind, right? *innocent face*)
2. Never separate a writer from her chocolate.
1. Or her caffeine.

Words to live by people. Words to live by.

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Horton Wants to Hear a Who

February 19, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as

Monica Stoner, member at large

I’m reminded of phrases from my favorite writers. Any Rand, in Atlas Shrugged, Francisco talking to Dagny Taggart’s brother: “Words have an exact meaning.” Henry Higgins ranting in My Fair Lady “By rights they should be taken out and hung, for the cold blooded murder of the English tongue.” As a writer, it grates every time.

You hear it on newscasts and read it in newspapers: “The person, that works for the company.” If it’s a person, then it’s a who. The rules read as follows: (taken from http://www.grammarbook.com/grammar/whoVwhVt.asp)

Who refers to people. That and which refer to groups or things.
That introduces essential clauses while which introduces nonessential clauses.
If this, that, these, or those has already introduced an essential clause, you may use which to introduce the next clause, whether it is essential or nonessential.

The website gave some examples. In the interest of active writing, I would suggest going one step further. For: “She belongs to an organization that specializes in saving endangered species.” why not write: “She belongs to an organization specializing in saving endangered species.”? Reduces the word count by one but punches up the sentence. Our minds automatically hesitate on certain words, including “that.” When editing, I first go through to remove “that” plus any version of the “to be.”

So instead of saying “The group that is going to the museum.” try “The group going to the museum.” And so on. Of course once you start, your automatic editor will intrude when you’re reading for pleasure, and take some of the fun out of your stolen hours.

While I’m on an editing soapbox, let’s look at the word “laconic.” By definition, “laconic” means terse, of few words. The word has nothing to do with eyebrows, facial expressions, or any other body part. Unfortunately, some popular authors started the trend of such phrases as “he raised a laconic eyebrow.” Have any of you ever heard an eyebrow talk, tersely or otherwise? Because I certainly haven’t, nor would I want to. Eyebrows are supposed to stay quietly on my face, somewhere above my eyes.

Words have an exact meaning

For that matter, a phrase I’ve heard all too often recently is “mandatory spay/neuter,” referencing the removal of sexual organs from dogs or cats. Neuter is non gender specific, but is used for the sterilization of male dogs, most likely because the accurate word, “castrate,” is too painful for males to hear. Since this PC phrasing has been used to mitigate the importance of these surgeries, and to encourage more people to support the goals of animal rights advocates, it is doubly important to use the correct word. Spay. Castrate. Sterilize. If you want to speak collectively, neuter is appropriate. For impact, I’ve been known to use “Forced Sterilization.” If you want to sound a bit more knowledgeable, or just have fun, try Gonadectomy, a personal favorite of mine.

Words have an exact meaning and as writers we need to protect those meanings.

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