Saturday, December 15, 2012

New Blog Site

I had to change my hosting package for my website, so I moved everything to Perilous Fiction at

Check out my published books there, as well as well as at my Amazon Store.

What if your husband tried to kill you...after he was already dead?

Jack Clayton dies suddenly, leaving his wife, Natalie Clayton, with grief, funeral expenses, and a nasty mother-in-law. Now, someone wants Natalie dead—and all the evidence points to Jack. Fleeing to the rugged California coast, Natalie assumes a new identity. But life isn't safe, especially in Perilous Cove.

There's nothing quite as peaceful as a mountain lake resort town, unless it contains your ex-husband...and a killer. 

For singer Rayne Evans, Storm Lake is the perfect hiding place. But the picturesque lake community holds Rayne's deepest secret. If not careful, she could lose her band, her career, and her life.

Monday, April 30, 2012

1 Way to Use Up Incredible Amounts of Time


     Most of us don't plan to waste just happens. Time slips by without some significant accomplishment, except for figuring out what to eat for the next meal. A day, a week, a month--suddenly a quarter of the year is gone and we can't figure out where it went. More importantly, we can't figure out what we did that mattered.

     These days, I get up earlier than I have in years and, before I know it, it's going on noon, or two o'clock. 

     But at least most days the time isn't wasted. I've used it up learning something brand new. That's what building a new website - Perilous Fiction - will do. I'm learning Word Press one click at a time, and I haven't found it to be particularly easy. I wanted more than a blog site, so I'm diving into web design and a site that will incorporate a new blog. We'll see if I live to regret it.

     There aren't too many resources for using Word Press to build a website, though all tout it as a capability--even a strength. Most people assume you'll use Word Press to create a new blog, so stepping off the trodden path into whole site design goes against the norm. Every hint, tip, and training video must be sifted to find the ones that apply to me. I wish my brain functioned and absorbed knowledge as well as it did twenty years ago! Ahh, those were the days.

     Thrown into the mix is graphic design software, book cover design for my forthcoming Perilous Cove novel, editing said novel into final format, and learning all aspects of social media. Much to process, but I'm getting there. 

     Watch for Perilous Cove, Book One in the Perilous Safety Series, to be available sometime in May. Book cover coming soon.

     And check out the new website and blog at It's functioning, just not all I want it to be yet.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

2 Secrets of Blogging and Websites

From our Internet Marketing session at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference with Thomas Umstattd, we learned he recommends

  • Domain hosting and domain name registration should be with separate companies. He said it gives more flexibility and security.
  • He also said that your blog should be incorporated into your website. Blogs typically get more traffic than websites so, by combining the two, you drive more traffic (and consolidate all traffic) to your site and improve its ranking in Google. Makes sense, but it's something I didn't do and now have to change.

Thomas is a huge fan of WordPress. He said WordPress is capable of anything, and if anyone tells you different, they don't know what they're talking about. There is a WordPress for Dummies book--I might have to pick that up!

More later. Today's session is beginning and it's on blogging. 


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mount Hermon Update #1

Great to be back at the writers conference after missing last year. Lots of old friends (or at least familiar faces!). Deb Raney brought her husband, Ken, who is a graphic artist and is teaching a workshop on ebook covers. Deb is teaching the main fiction track.

Attendance is down from the room-busting highs of 4-5 years ago--maybe 275-300? Actually, it's a lot easier to connect with faculty.

Enlightening session this afternoon re: Alternative Publishing. The barrier-to-entry for self-publishing is nearly zero now (just throw it up on Amazon), but being findable and discoverable is difficult for the novice. Some authors are retrieving rights for their out of print books and reissuing them as ebooks and POD (Print on Demand). And Allen Arnold, fiction publisher from Thomas Nelson told me it's nearly the same per copy cost to print one book or 5,000, so they don't warehouse as many anymore.

Liz Curtis Higgs is our keynote and is keeping us in stitches each evening.

Well, since I'm writing this on my iPhone, my hands are cramping. I'll post more from my laptop later from a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Contests and Conferences

     I spent hours preparing my entry for the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest. It comes around every year at the same time, but it's always a struggle to get that tricky synopsis done. The entire story on one page. And you can't fudge the ending, because a synopsis isn't for readers, it's for agents, editors and, in this case, judges. They want to know how the story ends. But I made it 3 whole hours under the deadline. This is the last year we can enter the contest without having the entire manuscript completed. I'm already thinking about the next book (number 4), but have to complete my 3rd first (this year's entry), so I may not make it for 2013. Because this post might be read by one of the judges, I can't give the details of my story until summer. But I can say it's my most challenging in character feelings and emotions. 

     Then I revised everything again for proposals to two acquisition editors at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, which begins this Thursday in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The proposal guidelines for Mount Hermon are different than the contest, and have to be hard-copied and mailed. Of course there are always glitches. Like our Canon printer quit. Wouldn't power on. Fortunately, I had a new Epson still in the box from when I bought my MacBook Air many months ago. It took a little doing to get the whole thing configured (scanning was a little challenge), but it works fine.

     Speaking of judging:  I'm a first round judge in the Genesis Contest for the seventh year. I learn a lot from reading the entries and applying the judge's scoresheet, so I get back more than I give. It's humbling and a weighty responsibility to score someone's baby, and I think I've improved over the years, giving positive feedback as well as pointing out problem areas. I know I always appreciate balanced feedback for my own entries.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More on Living With the MacBook Air 11.6" - Day 8

One Cool Laptop
    One of the things I hate most about laptops is how hot they run. If you don't put some kind of pad under them, they'll cook your legs. Or you can use it on a desk, but then that sort of defeats the purpose, doesn't it? On cold days, I used to slip my fingers under the laptop to warm them up.

    Well, the MacBook Air 11.6" is incredibly cool, most of the time running close to body temp. Not much use as a hand warmer. It will get warmer if you're watching videos since the processor has to work harder, but it's still not bad.

Too small? Nah.
MBA and 1/4" hardboard pad
    Under all my laptops I've used a piece of hardboard to insulate myself from the heat. I don't need it for this purpose with the MBA, but I'm trying one out to see if it will keep the laptop steady. The MBA is so small that it tends to rock a bit on your legs when you're typing. The board isn't a necessity and I'm not even sure I'll keep using it, but might be something you want to consider. Hardboard is like pegboard material but without the holes. It's available at home improvement stores.

    I wouldn't bother taking the board on trips. After all, the whole point of getting the small MBA is for its lightweight design.

Carrying Cases
11.6" on hardboard
    Right now, you're out of luck on finding much of a choice for cases for the 11.6". Even the Apple Store doesn't have them. Some manufacturers are doing advance orders, such as SF Bags, and I'm sure Incase and others are scrambling to get something to market. I've read on forums that other netbook or laptop bags aren't a perfect fit. The MBA is wider than the norm due to its wide screen format. We'll just have to wait a bit.

No CD/DVD Drive
    Nope, you can't watch DVDs on this laptop, at least not without buying the optional external MacBook Air SuperDrive for $79. I haven't missed it so far. You can "borrow" a CD/DVD drive from another Mac or PC using Apple's Remote Disk feature. I used it to install some software, but couldn't get an older version of Quicken to work, nor does Windows install by remote disk. Not a deal breaker for me since there are usually other ways now that so much is online. And if not having the optical drive helps chop a couple of pounds off this unit, I'm willing to make the trade.

Daily Use Report
    My main worry was about the smaller screen size compared to my 13" MacBook. I did notice it initially, but after a week of daily writing (some days for several hours) I don't notice it at all. It's like this is normal. Part of this is due to the higher screen resolution, which provides more info onscreen. Of course it's all a bit smaller, but it doesn't bother me.

    I write with MS Word 2011, iTunes (gotta have tunes!), a browser, NoteBook (by Circus Ponies), and Pages (iWork by Apple), all open at the same time. Usually I also have Mail, Evernote, maybe another browser, and perhaps Excel (timeline for my book). Honestly, I can launch just about every application I have and the machine still keeps humming along just as fast as ever. I think it's using the fast Solid State Drive as backup RAM, but the SSD is so incredibly fast that I don't even notice it.

    I did pay to get the upgraded model: 128 GB SSD drive (up from 64 GB), 4 GB RAM (2 is standard), and the 1.6 GHz processor (up from 1.4 GHz). These upgrades were $100 a pop. But I tried the lower end model in the stores and launched everything I could, then copy/pasted a Word doc until it reached over 1,000 pages and tried a few Saves, disk copies, etc. It still screamed. I was duly impressed.

    My primary reasons for getting the upgrades were, 1. I'm using this as my main machine, not just a travel notebook, and 2. Apple has the new OS coming out next year, Lion, and it's possible it might benefit from more RAM and a faster processor. You can't upgrade either on these machines. And 3. I have a pretty large iTunes library and 64 GB SSD didn't give me enough headroom. Right now with everything installed, I'm using 75 gigabytes, so I definitely needed the larger drive.

    I'll be glad to answer any questions about the MacBook Air. Just leave a comment or drop me an email.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Living With the MacBook Air

    I want to talk about using the MacBook Air 11.6" as a daily machine, especially for writers.

    After 2 days of setup (syncing my iPhone, moving files, installing applications), I'm ready to go. I decided to do new installations of software instead of using Apple's Migration application because my old MacBook had three years of crud from multiple installs and some issues. I wanted a fresh start.

    Size-wise, the keyboard is exactly the same width as my MacBook and just 1/8" shorter from the bottom of the keys to the top of the number keys (the Function keys are smaller by about a third, but they work fine. I wrote for a couple hours yesterday and it didn't seem much different than my older MacBook.

    The key touch is great--typical Apple. The wrist pad area is about 3/8" shorter, but very usable. Not sure why Apple keeps making the front edge so sharp. Might have to file that down a bit. I used a cleaning rag on my old MacBook (it had a sharp plastic edge) for my right wrist since it tends to hang off the edge a bit more than my left--due to using the trackpad, I guess. Or maybe I'm built weird. MB Air Trackpad is glass like the MacBook Pros, and large. Very nice and not overly sensitive.

    The first thing I noticed is how BRIGHT this LED backlit screen is. Wow, what a difference! After using it for a day, it would be very hard to go back. Haven't tried it outside in sunlight, but might work. Screen is reflective, but not as bad as some.

    Straight across screen Width is 10 1/8" on the Air compared to 11 1/4" on the 13.3" MacBook. Height is 5 3/4" vs 7". But the resolution is better, so the amount of vertical info in windows is about the same.

    Real Experience: I was using Office for Mac 2004 on the old machine, but upgraded to Office for Mac 2011 Home & Student edition. I use Word for writing and keep the formatting tabs (or whatever you call those things labeled Home, Layout, Document Elements, etc) rolled up. I set the Preferences to launch with them closed. This provides more vertical space for the writing window. 

    I tested Word at the Apple Store, opening two docs side-by-side, and found it very usable.

    Let me just say, this computer is FAST. Fifteen or so seconds from cold boot to everything working; 1 1/2 seconds for full Shutdown. With the Solid State Drive (SSD) of memory instead of a standard hard disk, it's lightning fast read & write times. Word launches in 2 seconds. And wake from Sleep is instant, like an iPad.

    If you've seen the advertisement, you know the 11.6" MBA is small and light--and it is. At 2.3 lbs, it's a breeze to carry with you everywhere. Library, Starbucks, conferences. And BONUS, the airport TSA doesn't require you to remove it from your carryon like other laptops.

More in a couple of days.