A Slice of Orange


Advice to Myself as a Newbie Author

August 22, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as , , ,

by Shauna Roberts

Today’s Guest: Dee Ann Palmer

A former nurse, Dee Ann Palmer now writes full time under her own name and as Carolina Valdez and Carol Holman. Her latest publication as Dee Ann Palmer is the mystery story “Marathon Madness” in the anthology Landmarked for Murder (Top). This month, her Carolina Valdez alter ego publishes “Tie ‘Em Up, Hold ‘Em Down” (Amber Quill Press), an erotic e-novella about two firefighters in love.

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

I would tell my prepublished self that I should learn how to research.

My latest project illustrates the importance—and the difficulty—of researching a story well. As I began “Tie ‘Em Up, Hold ‘Em Down,” I wondered whether I was crazy to tackle a story involving slow-pitch baseball, firefighting, and search and rescue. After all, it was a big chunk, and I was the one crafting the story. I didn’t have to do this! Call me dogged—or maybe just plain stubborn—but I stuck with it.

You need to understand those subjects weren’t entirely new to me. That’s what gave me the courage to use them. The men in my family had played baseball while I cheered from the sidelines and brought refreshments. Training to be a MIC (mobile intensive care) Nurse many years ago, I’d spent twenty hours in a fire station in a neighboring town, hanging out and riding with their paramedics. That gave me an atmosphere from which to create my own station and a glimpse into how they lived while on duty.

There are no women in this novella, but I’d recently seen a presentation to eighth-grade girls by a female firefighter, and I even knew the seventy-pound weight of their backpacks was the same whether carried by men or women.

I’ve watched “Dog Whisperer” on TV, seen TV specials on search-and-rescue teams, and, in my Sisters in Crime chapter meetings, heard an expert witness on search hounds who breeds Bloodhounds.

No matter how familiar the subjects I’d chosen were to me, I researched them. The tools I used included the Internet, personal interviews and the local library, with its interlibrary loan system, periodicals, books, and videos. I could have accessed the Internet in the library if I hadn’t had my own computers.

As an example, I decided to use a Bloodhound, but what colors did they come in? How much did they weigh? An email contact with a breeder gave me that information. I decided which color I liked and gave my hound a name. An Internet look at search and rescue teams gave me clues as to other hounds used and revealed that some are air scenters and others are ground scenters. Because Bloodhounds are ground scenters, I chose an air scenter as my second dog.

A look at online photos of the SAR team in my county as they assembled to train sparked the opening scenes of my story.

As for firefighting, I spoke by phone with a battalion chief in my town and stopped firefighters when I saw them ready to leave a call or found them in the supermarket. Did they sleep dormitory style? Who was in charge on a call? Yes, they still come down poles and only have one minute to hit the mat at the bottom once the alarm sounds. A loudspeaker tells them the nature of the call and what to roll. The captain confirms it via print out.

Because I was writing about gays, I didn’t have the courage to ask for a tour of the main firehouse in my town. I did tell one man I was writing a romance filled with macho firefighters. He just laughed.

And, yes, I read three novels about gays, bought the ebook The Joy of Gay Sex, and looked up gay toys and sexual practices on the Internet.

I checked our local firefighter job descriptions online. Googling firefighting equipment and gear led me to ask about the mat and the boots and suits they use on different calls. I saw yellow suits in the back of an engine when I spoke to some men leaving a call up my street. Yes, they leave their suits in the truck or engine.

Well, what do you know—there are trucks and there are engines! Different purposes for various calls.

Obviously, I wasn’t going to use all the information in my story, but it would’ve been stupid not to look in depth for more than I’d personally experienced. I guess the short answer to whether all that research is necessary is YES. It makes your story ring with authenticity.


Dee Ann Palmer’s Website is at http://www.DeeAnnPalmer.com and her blog at http://www.dee-ann-palmer.blogspot.com/. The anthology Landmarked for Murder can be purchased from Dee Ann or online at Amazon.com.

Her Carolina Valdez Website is at http://www.CarolinaValdez.com and her blog at http://www.carolina-valdez.blogspot.com/. “Tie ‘Em Up, Hold ‘Em Down” is available at Amber Quill Press and will be available at Amazon.com.

1 0 Read more

Eye on the Prize

August 21, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as

Every family has “rules.” I’m writing, of course, about the family rules that start out as a casual remark made by someone which grows to achieve inside joke popularity. In my family, the rule has to do with tattoos.

I remember being young, maybe 8 or 9 and telling my mom I was going to get a tattoo. At the time we were watching the Olympics and one of the athletes had the rings tattood on his body, not unlike many of today’s athletes. I said it more for the shock factor then anything. Imagine my surprise when my anti-tattoo mom immediately responded with “If you qualify for the Olympics I’ll pay for your tattoo.”

Well heck, I remember thinking that’s a pretty good deal! Oh, wait… Even at 9 I was too busy with school and sports and other kid stuff to even consider an Olympic attempt. But the rule remains.

Tattoos for me at that moment became more then just something that was pretty. They were a symbol. Achieve excellence in a field and mom had no problem with you proclaiming your achievement via body art for the rest of your life. SWEET! (Yes, I’m a little bit competitive).

The challenge remained in the back of my mind when I entered high school. I remember writing (let’s be honest, horrible) angsty poetry and reading about Toni Morrison. “If I win a Nobel Prize will you pay for the tat?” I remember asking my mom. You have to love mom, she nodded immediately even as she asked. “Honey, do you know what the Nobel Prize looks like?” I didn’t.

It didn’t have the same zing as the Olympic rings, did it?

After high school, college, and grad school I decided I’d read enough sad stuff to last me awhile and I turned to writing fiction. Specifically romance fiction. And who is the queen of romance fiction? The Nora. And everyone knows Nora tends to camp out at the top of the New York Times Bestseller list.

Only this time, I didn’t even ask if my mom would pay for the NYT tattoo. I really don’t think I could stomach having the New York Times logo forever emblazoned on my body. Maybe I’ll feel differently about that when the time comes.

But in the meantime. I want to know why Olympic medals seem to symbolize the prettiest of tattoos. As writers, I think maybe we need to hire a graphic designer. Just saying…

8 0 Read more

Contests vs Submission

August 19, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as

Monica Stoner, Member at Large

Several years ago, someone told me if a work was ready for a contest it was ready for an editor. I didn’t agree then and agree even less now. Having judged contests, I’d have to say some of the entries aren’t ready for the contest and should never go to an editor. This is not meant harshly, everything I’ve judged had some good features, but they were often lost behind poor pacing, grammar, or just too many words in the wrong place.

The huge advantage to a contest over an editor is, the contest judge has to read your whole submission. The editor can skim a couple pages and tell you the submission is not right for their line. The contest judge can find the place in your story where you need to start the book; an editor could easily find the same place but generally won’t have the time to do so. Nor should an editor have to tell you where to start your book.

Since so many contests now allow for judge comment, you have the advantage of multiple edits to the same book for one contest fee. You can agree or disagree with any of them, but if every one finds the same problems, you’ll know where to head for your next rewrite.

Once you have some manuscripts and contests under your belt, and have finaled in one of the contests, or at least not received your entry back dripping read with editorial comments, you might think about offering to judge. Don’t make this offer lightly, since as you would well know by then, fragile egos could be behind the creation of the entry, same as when you entered. Who better to understand how a mean word can send you to Camp Hershey or Dove when you should be sitting still and writing?

One or two sessions of reading contest entries can be eye opening for your own writing. I’ve also found this to be a great remedy for the dreaded writer’s block. Many clubs offer contests throughout the year and most are in need of a both entries and judges. Give it a whirl, you never know how much fun it can be until you try.

1 0 Read more

Writer on the Verge

August 18, 2008 by in category Writer on the Verge by Kate Carlisle tagged as , , ,

More Conference Talk!

Everyone’s been sharing their conference and post-conference experiences, so I thought I’d join the crowd. And I brought photos–mostly of me, I’ll admit. But ya know, it’s my camera. 🙂
For me, this year’s conference was all about networking with fellow writers and I think I succeeded. Well, I partied a lot, anyway.
I was thrilled to finally get a chance to visit and party with my fabulous blogging group, Romance Bandits, and even had a few chance encounters with the Golden Rooster. (A long story, but visit the blog a few times and you’ll catch on!) Here’s a picture of the Cheeky Chook with Romance Bandit and Kensington debut author Jeanne Adams. Don’t they make a cute couple?
Here’s a shot of me with another Bandita and double Rita finalist, the lovely and talented Avon historical author, Anna Campbell.
Here are a few familiar OCC faces. This was taken the night of the Rita awards. It’s me, with Jennifer Apodaca and Michele Cwiertny. Don’t we all look fabulous?
And here I am with yet another Bandita, Sourcebooks Casablanca author Loucinda McGary. Her first book, The Wild Sight, is out in October and she’s already starting to garner wonderful reviews! We’re showing off our first sale ribbons!
I’ve got lots more photos but an alarming number of friends have threatened me with death if I post them here. I won’t mention any names … but some people are so touchy!
Hope your conference experience was wonderful!

Kate Carlisle’s Bibliophile mystery series from NAL debuts in February 2009 with HOMICIDE IN HARDCOVER.

17 0 Read more

The Write Way………

August 17, 2008 by in category Archives, The Write Way by Maureen Child tagged as ,

Ahhhh………another year, another conference!
Hard to believe National has already come and gone…….But here we are. We’ve mostly recovered, we’ve filed away all the notes and tidbits we picked up in San Francisco, and we’ve finally finished dissecting every conversation we had, looking for the ways we screwed up or said the wrong thing!
Time to move on. And what does that mean, you ask??
It means it’s back to work. Back to writing. Back to racking up the daily page count and meeting all of those deadlines. Whether they’re self imposed or set down in contracts, meeting those deadlines counts.
Did you get a request for a partial from one of the editors or agents you met at conference? Then don’t just sit there, get it shined up and out the door. And while your baby is sitting on that desk, tapping its proverbial toes, waiting to be read, you should be sitting at YOUR desk, working on the next proposal. Don’t sit there fingers crossed, hoping for luck.
Build your own luck.
I’m not sure who said it originally, but I heard a great quote in one of the workshops at conference……..If you want to succeed, double your failure rate………
Makes sense. You’ll never succeed if you’re not trying. So get those proposals out there. Take a shot. Make your dreams come true while you’ve still got time!
Maureen Child is the author of more than 100 romance novels and novellas. Right now, she’s typing crazily, rushing to meet those deadlines………
5 0 Read more

Copyright ©2017 A Slice of Orange. All Rights Reserved. ~PROUDLY POWERED BY WORDPRESS ~ CREATED BY ISHYOBOY.COM