ORGANIZING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS

Starting right now, for every image you plan to keep, if it’s digital, name it with the date and the people and/or places in it and batch load them to DropBox, to another on-line back-up storage place, or to one of the sites listed below. If you have printed photos, put the names, place, and date on the back using a gel pen as soon as you have them in your hand. I can’t emphasize how important it is to put crucial information on each image or photo. I had to throw out some that dated back to the 1800s that my mother and aunt kept because I had no idea who the people were, so they were useless to me. The same will happen with digital ones if they are not correctly named.

Next, upload your photos to a place like:

  • FLICKR flickr.com Easy sharing from almost any mobile device
  • PHOTOBUCKET photobucket.com Scrapbook builder. Add music and slide shows
  • SNAPFISH snapfish.com Encourages you to order prints and personalized gifts. Has private “group rooms” for family and friends to see your photos and leave comments
  • SHUTTERFLY shutterfly.com You can upload photos and have them made into greeting cards or calendars. Sign up and get 50 4×6 free prints
  • SMUGMUG smugmug.com/ Yearly fee, seems reasonable for what they offer, which is a lot
  • GOOGLE PHOTOES google.com Automatically finds and stores all the photos on your PC and Android devices

I’ve mentioned just a few of the highlights from each site. Frankly, it makes me want to upload my photos to several different sites in get all the unique features. Uploading to any of these sites can act as your backup for photos, which is another reason to use more than one site, in case one goes out of business or suddenly fails for some reason.

Figure out how you want to store printed images. Scrapbook or boxes? You might want to have a system of boxes to temporally store them until you put them in a scrapbook. The boxes can be labeled, for example by person, place, or date in order to easily place them in the book later. You may also wish to get all your print photos digitized. I’ve noticed that the prices for doing this have come down a lot lately.

Ideally, and if I had to do it all over again, I would keep a diary (so easy to do now digitally) and put the pictures on the diary pages every day. Later this could be made into a bound book you can give to people in the photos and keep for yourself.

ARE THESE FIRST LINES GOOD STORY HOOKS?

Artie is either on a bus or robbing a business when each story begins. There are buses, limos, alleys, and always, beautiful women involved in the first paragraphs. I didn’t plan on the busses, limos, and alleys when I started writing the series. But I think they worked in each story and worked with a series. Here’s the first line from each story. Do they draw you in, or do I need to work on my first lines?

Artie and the Long-Legged Woman: Artie watched with horror as first one beautiful leg emerged from the white limousine and then an equally gorgeous leg followed.

Artie and the Brown-Eyed Woman: The scream brought Artie to the window.

Artie and the Red-Headed Woman: The bus bucked and came to a stop in the middle of the street.

Artie and the Green-Eyed Woman: Artie Applegate stepped into the dark alley and closed the jewelry store door behind him, his hands still gloved.

Artie and the Big-Footed Woman: Artie tightened the grip on his athletic bag as the bus jounced over another manhole cover.

The good news is that all stories now available in a “bundle.” It includes the first four previously published stoies and the bonus last one, “Artie and the Big-Footed Woman.” If you buy it through Untreed Reads, the publisher, you get a free bonus short story, “Going Where the Wind Blows.”

http://store.untreedreads.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=6_224&products_id=1932

or:

http://bit.ly/2cKl9i5

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble now, and other places soon, like Kobo.

artie-bundle

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FIVE MAJOR INFLUENCERS OF MY NOVELS

Lewis Caroll

Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass

Entranced during childhood and beyond by the quests with very quirky characters and fun situations.

Influenced and still influences everything.

Mad Tea Party

Anne Tyler

Love her quirky characters, the humor, and the interesting plots. Locations are also often well-drawn.

Influenced almost everything, but especially my first published novel:

Sara’s Search

Nancy Drew

Influenced:

Tina Tales, especially Cluttered Attic Secrets where a group of friends—both female and male, but grown-up–attempt to solve a mystery. Sassy, pro-active protagonist.

Organized to Death

Buried Under Clutter

Cluttered Attic Secrets

Donald Westlake

Dortmunder Series, but all his books are great with engrossing situations and amazing characters.

Influenced: The Artie Crimes series:

Artie and the Long-Legged Woman

Artie and the Green-Eyed Woman

Artie and the Brown-Eyed Woman

Artie and the Red-Haired Woman

and upcomming, Artie and the Big-Footed Woman

Sue Grafton

Influenced, of course, my female PI series about Paula Mitchell:

Perfect Victim

A Broken Life

Secret Exposure

Front cover final I recommend composing your own blog post about the five major influencers of your writing.

(Sorry about the formatting. I don’t know why WordPress won’t let me do single spacing in this post, and I don’t want to take the time to figure it out when i could use the time better by writing my fiction!)

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OUR 2016 TRIP EAST

We spent most of June traveling. A total of ten days travel to visit two locations where we spent eight days total, not counting the days we arrived in each city.

Two days to get to Meridian, MS, where I finally got to meet an on-line writer friend, John Floyd, and his lovely wife for dinner. We had a great time.

Two more days to get to Washington, DC, for an annual Vietnam Helicopters Crewmembers reunion. We’ve been going off and on since the late 1990s, so there are a lot of familiar faces. My husband served two terms in Vietnam and retired from the Army. He’s on a “crewmembers net” on-line, and many of the members attend the reunions. It’s great to put faces to names and actually chat with people. Many of the wives show up, and in the beginning, rarely a child or two. Now the children are grown and they love coming with their own children. It seems as if about half the attendees were family, the rest actual veterans. Many stories are swapped, much food and drink consumed, and lots of fun and laughter. It was great to see old friends and make a few new ones. We arrived on a Tuesday and left on Sunday for Newport, RI.

Because of an enormous amount of traffic, it took longer than we expected to get to Newport.

We both have a lot of history there. My husband grew up in the town and didn’t leave until he joined the Army. My aunt and uncle lived there, so from the time I was thirteen, I visited often, and when eighteen got a summer job there. Then now-husband Chris and I met later that year during Christmas holiday time in the church his family and my aunt and uncle attended. The Young People’s Association was decorating the church for the Christmas celebration, and I went to help. Ended up handing Chris ornaments while he put them on the tallest branches (he’s 6’4”). A couple of parties attended by both of us after that, and he asked me out. We ended up getting married in the same church where we met and have been happy ever since.

So, in Newport we visited Chris’s family (I have none left there, unfortunately). A brother-in-law, two brothers, and one of their wives, an old friend who hosted one of those parties from way back when, a couple who also met each other around the same time Chris and I did—the man went to school with Chris and we’ve gotten together with them every time we’re up there. Plus two women we’ve known, independently, since our teenage years who happened to meet each other in California and ended up living together, for years now. They are both Episcopal priests. I went to high school in New Jersey with one, and Chris attended church camp in northern RI with the other. It’s one of those coincidences that gives you goosebumps. Chris’s friend grew up in Bristol, which is right outside Newport, and the two women are now renting the house she grew up in and are in the process of buying another one.

I got to eat some lobster, Chris got to eat his whole clams, and the weather was glorious. We both love going back, but hate the trip itself.

It took five days to drive back, and again, the traffic in the northeast was horrendous. You wonder why we don’t fly. That’s just as bad, or worse in other ways. Seating is way too small for both of us who are so tall. TSA and cancelled flights are another big issue. Rental car places a huge hike away from the terminals. Difficulty finding anything and everything. Just not worth it.

Now home and rested, I plan to work on my writing some more. As soon as I make that first million, I’ll get a jet card, and we’ll fly up there every summer for a month or so.

It’s good to have dreams. And good to be home, but we’re so glad we went.

May I recommend a short story collection of mine called Warning Signs? I thought I’d suggest it since the cover is kind of on-topic. It’s an ebook available on Amazon (click on the cover). But if you sign up for my newsletter, I’ll send you a print autographed copy for free. Just email me your snail mail address.Warning Signs 160 pixels

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ARTIE AND THE LONG-LEGGED WOMAN

It’s December, and many people don’t have time to take a break and read a book. I have a great solution–short stories. I’ve written a slew of them, but some of my favorites star Artie, a hapless burglar who keeps bumping into beautiful women who need help. Artie and the Long-Legged Woman was the first I had published in this series by Untreed Reads, and so I’m particularly fond of it. There’s more info about it on my short story page–click on the cover there. But here’s a taste of what’s to come–the first two paragraphs of the story:

Artie watched with horror as first one beautiful leg emerged from the white limousine and then a second equally gorgeous leg followed. He held his athletic bag tightly in his gloved left hand, his right hand on the doorknob, ready to leave the jewelry store out the back exit into the alley. But there were the limo, and the legs, and here he was, holding the goods.

Artie sighed. He closed the door quietly behind him and started to walk away. Maybe the woman belonging to the legs wouldn’t notice. Sure.

Artie_Long-Legged_Woman_finalAnd also, the first paragraph (the rest of which you can see on the page dedicated to this story) of a very nice review:

I think I’m in love! Artie, why couldn’t you really exist, you conniving thief, you. Unfortunately, even if you were a real live person, I’m sure I wouldn’t fit the bill. No long legs here. Could I maybe win you over with a smile? I’d love to have those jewels you steal in my hands, even if just for a few minutes. I admit, I would be overly worried that you would get nicked by the po-po though. Now that would make for many a sleepless nights.

Isn’t that great? Really, I did NOT write it myself. I hope you will check out all the Artie stories, 99 cents or less,, depending on whether you buy them at Amazon or Untreed Reads (the publisher), links on the dedicated page. Or anywhere else you can buy ebooks, in any format out there.

HAPPY DECEMBER!

SECRET EXPOSURE MYSTERY NOVEL REVEAL

Latest novel just out, third in the Paula Mitchell, PI, series–Kindle edition. Print version coming soon.

Front cover finalClick on Cover to see on Amazon

Here’s the description:

Did Simon Langford abuse his son and kill his wife? Paula Mitchell, a Rhode Island private investigator, is hired to prove he’s an innocent man.
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When Simon refuses to answer Paula’s questions, she interviews his friends and acquaintances. Trouble is, they’re almost as secretive as Simon, and she’s sure some are lying. When Simon is arrested for his wife’s murder, Paula knows she needs to work fast, or Simon will go to prison, probably for life. And might never see his little boy again.

After old flame Steve comes back to town, Paula is excited about the rekindling of their romance. Events turn dangerous, though, and Steve’s need to protect Paula might get in the way of her solving the case.

Paula’s frustration escalates until the day she discovers some answers from an unexpected source that provide a surprising breakthrough. But when she acts on the information, she puts her own life in danger.

Hope everyone will check it out!

ALICE IN WONDERLAND’S ANNIVERSARY

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

This year marks the one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the first printing of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderful, commonly referred to as Alice in Wonderland.

“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”

The late rabbitWhen I was about five, my mother read me both the Wonderland book and the Looking-Glass one, and I loved them so much, I begged her to read them over and over again.

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

But until this year, I never checked into the background of how the Wonderland book came to be written. I thought I’d share some of the interesting facts I found out about the author and the book here.

“Have I gone mad?”
“I’m afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are.”

Mad Tea PartyFirst, probably a lot of people know that Lewis Carroll is a pseudonym for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, but I didn’t. Or that he based a lot of his characters on real people and places, even images. Because he stuttered, he said his last name Dodo-Dodgson, and thus the dodo bird in the book was created. The rabbit hole was probably a symbol for the stairs, called the rabbit hole, in the back of the main hall in Christ Church where Mr. Dodgson was a mathematician.

“I’m afraid I can’t explain myself, sir. Because I am not myself, you see?”

Just AliceMr. Dodgson first told many of Alice’s adventures to three little girls on a boat ride with their father, Henry Liddell. Lorina Charlotte, aged thirteen at the time, Alice Pleasance, aged ten, and Edith Mary, aged eight. They loved the stories so much, he later wrote them down, expanded on them, did his own illustrations, but later hired an illustrator, John Tenniel. The first draft was 15,500 words, but then he added more material such as the Cheshire cat and the Mad Hatter tea party (one of my favorite scenes) and it became 27,500 words.

“Curiouser and curiouser!”
“Off with their heads!”

Red QueenThe author had a rare neurological disorder that causes hallucinations and affects the size of visual objects, which can make the patient feel bigger or smaller than he is. This of course became a major part of the book. The disease is now often called the Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.

I have to say that Mr. Dodson’s life was almost as fascinating as his stories. Happy Anniversary, Alice!

As the Cheshire Cat said, “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.” And now you know why I love to read and write. What is your favorite book? What was the first book you remember being read to you or that you read yourself?

NEWPORT, RI, FUN FACTS: THE AWFUL AWFUL™

I love Newport, RI, so it was logical for me to set my Tina Tales mystery series in that city on Aquidnick Island. And I thought it would be fun to share some facts about Newport here on my blog from time to time.

clutteredatticsecrets-08Today I’m going to talk about a famous drink served there, which is mentioned in my latest novel, Cluttered Attic Secrets. It’s not unusual for a drink to become famous, but usually they’re alcoholic drinks. This one is free of alcohol, bigger than any cocktail you’ve probably ever had, and almost a meal in itself.

It’s called an Awful Awful™. A little known (almost secret) fact about the Awful Awful™ is that it originated in a town next to the town where I grew up in in New Jersey. The Newport Creamery bought the trademarked drink’s secret recipe way back in the 1950s, and when I first visited Newport, I was amazed to find I could get one there. The small chain, Bond’s in New Jersey. is long gone, unfortunately—they had the best hamburgers, too.

An Awful Awful™ is a blend of a secret frozen ice milk mix, whole milk, and flavored syrup, and is very, very cold. It’s obviously patterned after milk shakes, cabinets (what milk shakes are called in Rhode Island), and frappes. They can be made from any flavor. If you drink three, you get the fourth one free. It used to be (maybe still is) a rite of passage for young boys to do that in high school. Only five hundred calories each.

So, if you’re ever on Aquidneck Island, stop by the Creamery on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, or go just down the road a way to Middletown, and have an Awful Awful™. You’ll be glad you did. Go here for more information: http://www.newportcreamery.com/icecream.asp