Plotting by Magic Eight Ball

 

I don’t know why I’ve bothered to take all those classes, why I’ve wasted blood sweat and tears over my book plots…when I could simply have used a Magic Eight Ball.

“Yes!” it agrees.

Consider this passage beginning from a potential novel. “Esmeralda looked out her window and saw…”

Now, I could spend hours debating what she saw. I could dither over the wisdom of opening the novel with my heroine spying on something. I could fret over the sentence structure. And so on. You know, the usual writer’s angst.

OR

I could simply use the Magic Eight Ball.

Liz Jasper (to the Magic Eight Ball): Should Esmeralda see her hero?

Magic Eight Ball: Signs point to yes.

LIZ JASPER: Hmmm. I guess that means she should see him, but indirectly. Maybe he’s in costume?

Magic Eight Ball: Concentrate and ask again.

LIZ JASPER: Right, right. She sees him getting into his carriage on the way to a costume ball.

Magic Eight Ball: Reply hazy try again.

LIZ JASPER: They’re in the carriage together, on the way to a costume ball and he has on one of those mask thingies. AND, that when she realizes her guardian is the mystery man she kissed in the garden at the last costume ball!

Magic Eight Ball: Cannot predict now.

LIZ JASPER: And she knows he’s on his way to meet his fiancée, to whom he was promised at birth but has never seen, and Esmeralda knows she cannot let him marry someone else because she loves him! So she rings for her maid and dons the gown from that fateful night, the gown she swore never to wear again, and secretly follows him to the ball in the second best carriage!

Magic Eight Ball: My sources say no.

LIZ JASPER: Dammit! No, you’re right. It’s been done. Hmm. How about she goes with him to the ball and that’s when she realizes he’s the one?  Maybe when they’re dancing together?

Magic Eight Ball: Very doubtful.

LIZ JASPER:  You know, this is very annoying! Why can’t you like any of my ideas? I’m a published author, you know.  An award-winning published author. Fine, that was mysteries and the Esmeralda book is a historical romance, but still.  Authors need to stretch themselves. Who are you to say I can’t write a big thick romance?  Screw you.  She’s going to that darn dance, she’s going to follow him out of the garden, and she’s going to…to seduce that blind fool!

Magic Eight Ball: My sources say no.

LIZ JASPER: Fine. She’ll stumble and he’ll clutch her to him–just for the sake of keeping her from falling—and  then they’ll kiss. Ha HAH! Now that’s good stuff.

Magic Eight Ball: Outlook not so good.

LIZ JASPER: You’d probably like it if they didn’t even exchange a smoldering look!

Magic Eight Ball: Most likely.

LIZ JASPER: Maybe You think I should be working on the next Underdead book like I’m supposed to be!

Magic Eight Ball: “As I see it, yes”

As you can see, the Magic Eight Ball can save you hours of time wasting and even help you with time management! I’d let you borrow mine, but it’s having some technical difficulties right now. Maybe when the glue dries…

NOVEMBER NEWS

     Almost Turkey Day!

(Hey, I LIKE Thanksgiving. I’d do a countdown but I figure my time is better spent in the Thanksgiving spirit of looking up recipes of things I can slop gravy over. Mmmm. Gravy! No, I’m not sharing. Get your own gravy bowl!)

Award winning UNDERDEAD  and the sequel UNDERDEAD IN DENIAL are now available in eBook and trade paperback!

 

“Jo is terrific! An entertaining lighthearted romp!”~~Midwest Book Review 

“UNDERDEAD is certainly not your typical vampire story, it’s better!”~~ Two Lips Reviews

“Hilariously funny…a page-turner extraordinaire”~~MyShelf

“Fun to read murder mystery with vampires rivals TWILIGHT series”
~~ Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fiction

 

As a launch special, the eBook version of UNDERDEAD will be on sale for $0.99 for a limited time. To find links to both books in whatever format you prefer, click here.

WHERE TO FIND LIZ IN NOVEMBER: Pin Up Hair Emporium and Unique Boutique. Reading, book signing and wine and cheese and palm reading. You saw it right, palm reading. 6-8:30. 1560 Fourth Street, San Rafael, CA

     

Take me now, Dirk Deedlehopper!

When asked why I write book series, I usually respond with something suitably ponderous and writer-ly about character development and plot arcs. And it’s true that I like the way one really gets to know and care about characters in a series. But writing a series has an important advantage no one really talks about:  you don’t have to come up with as many new names. 

I hate naming characters. I’m not kidding.  It’s really hard for me. Most of the names that pop in my head pop in because I know someone with that name.  And that causes all sorts of problems.

For instance, imagine you’re creating your hero. He’s tall, dark and handsome or buffed, blond and gorgeous or whatever. You imagine your heroine leaning in for that first kiss. She moans, “Oh, John!”

Hold on. (And not because that’s terrible writing.) John was the name of the guy who took you to homecoming your sophomore year of high school. He had fish breath and damp hands.  O-kaaay. Not John. You rewrite. Your heroine and hero are sharing a box of Junior Mints. He puts his arm around her. She leans toward him and whispers, “Oh, Rick!”

Backtrack, backtrack, ick, ick, ick.  You have and Uncle Richard, which is awfully close to “Rick.” And don’t forget about Ranger Rick Magazine which you read as a kid. How can you possibly write a romantic scene when you think “raccoon?” I mean, how much chest hair does the guy have? Eeew. Now in your head your tall, dark and handsome hero has got a serious back hair problem.

Okay.  Time to switch gears.  Let’s name the murder victim. Okay. The victim is a female librarian in her 50s.   How about Marge? You can’t think of anyone named Marge.  Except for Marge Simpson, but since your victim is too old and square to have dyed her hair blue and too young to have a nice blue rinse, chances are no one is going to think Marge Simpson. Fine.  Death to Marge! And then your mother reads the manuscript and you get this phone call:

Liz’s mom: “I can’t believe you killed off our next door neighbor.”

Liz: “What? What are you talking about?”

Liz’s mom: “Marge! Marge Wilkinson. How will I be able to look her in the face? Who’s going to watch our cat when we go to Florida?”

Liz: [awkward pause]”Her name’s Marge?”

Liz’s mom: “What did you think her name was?”

Liz (in her head): “Mrs. Wilkinson.”

Liz (aloud): “It’s okay, Mom. I can change her name to…” (Liz looks frantically around desk. Sees ad for Glendora Cleaners.) “Glendora.” Hah. Perfect.  Death to Glendora!

Liz’s mom: “Glendora? Tsk. That’s a ridiculous name for a librarian.“

So you can see how difficult coming up with names can be.  I think we should all be glad I haven’t resorted to Dirk Deedlehopper. But if I’m honest, it’s only because my best friend used to date a guy named Dirk and George Deedlehopper doesn’t quite have the same ring.

[Note: this was originally blogged elsewhere. I’m re-posting these here. See note below. Is this an endless string of notes destined to torture you? Perhaps. Why don’t you scroll down and see?]

Underdead and Underdead In Denial re-releasing in ebook and in print!

Last December, my publisher changed their focus away from mainstream fiction. I got the rights back to my novels just as the self-publishing world took off.

 The re-pub process has taken a bit longer than I’d anticipated. And I have to admit I needed a shove from one of my author buddies to go down this path. And a few long phone calls with another author friend who had gotten the rights back to his backlists. (He’s now a bestseller! He reports he doesn’t have groupies–bummer–but that he did have a woman come up and kiss him at Bouchercon. Yes, it’s those moments that sustain writers, even if it didn’t happen to them (and in their head they change “women” to “hunky guy”. Though I’m holding out for groupies.) More phone calls to other authors to see if they had a read on the market. Hard to believe at this point that all this back and forth was needed, but we were trying to figure it out as we went. The book market has changed tremendously in 2011. 

On the plus side of all this, I have book covers that I love. And I can set the price for my books and decide whether to offer them in print. (Yes, they will be available in print. I  still like to snuggle up on the couch with a print book and I know others do, too.) On the downside, all this is a lot of work. There’s a lot more involved in getting books out than I’d expected. Here’s a partial list of what I’ve done in the past months:

* Moved my website here and completely overhauled it. It took 8 calls to yahoo and many discussions with my genius social marketing friend about why I kept loosing my email. But it eventually got done. By me trying different things and finally discovering what worked.

* Taken professional author photos (At the behest of VV who said, “Liz. Really. You NEED to have a decent photo up.” And my sister who said, “Liz, you know all those photos I have of you in the ugly hiking hat? The ones we took of with my phone where you have the double chin thing going on and sunscreen dripping from your left ear? If you don’t put up a decent photo, I’m posting one of those.”)  

* Sat in on a talk with Mark Coker, head honcho of Smashwords. (Nice guy, not CEO-ey or sales-y at all. For my virtual writerly backyard bbq, he and his family are totally invited.)

* Eaten chocolate. Lots of it. Got the cat and I addicted to Trader Joe’s Cheese Crunchies.

* Taken another course on marketing and promo. Not my fav. thing, marketing and promo. I really like doing booksignings and panel talks, but M&P isn’t all chatting with readers. If it were, I’d like it a lot more, because who doesn’t like that? I talk about books with my family and friends a lot. Always have. My mom sister and I will go ten rounds arguing about a book we’ve all just read.

* Made my (then) pregnant friend help me redo the back cover copy for both books. It’s amazing what you can get pregnant friends to do for chocolate and air conditioning.

* Started the next Underdead book.

* Had a fabulous cover done by the talented husband (Bob McAndrews) of one of my writer buddies. Having a cover that suggested mystery/vampire/humor/fun was a huge plus. Kimberly Van Meter did a great job with the next cover. As ever, thanks Ida Mary Walker, aka mizzd-stock for being the cover model.

* Admitted that I had better things to do than learn how to perfectly format a manuscript. Admitted that, as I am not a detail person by nature, perhaps that is one thing I can farm out. Really, really enjoyed making that decision.  Steven James Price of Generation Next Publications formatted the print book layouts, the print covers and the ebooks. Great decision to have hired him.

That’s a partial list of all the stuff that goes into getting your books back out after you’ve gotten the rights back from your publisher. Now. I have to go check my print book proofs on Amazon. Keep tuned for the official release. No, this wasn’t official. Well, official whining, perhaps.

Hah! Or, How I Stopped Calling Yahoo! And Fixed It Myself.

I’ve called Yahoo! seven times. SEVEN TIMES over the past two weeks. Every person I spoke to had a new and different idea of how to configure the anames and cnames so that they pointed to WordPress. The reps were all really nice. But none was able to get my website moved over here to WordPress. Well, some were close. One actually got it to work, but at the cost of disconnecting my email, so, no, I don’t consider that attempt a success.

I finally decided to contact WordPress, but they haven’t responded yet.

So I put myself on the job and I figured it out in about 5 minutes, after a lucky hit on google search for WordPress IP addresses. It suggested I do the following: On the start menu, click on “run” then type in “CMD”. On the black screen type in “ping lizjasper . com”. (No spaces in the web addy of course.)

It gave me a bunch of numbers, aka the IP address that my WordPress website (newly stripped of the www.) was pointing to. I wrote it down. I then typed in “ping www . lizjasper . com”. A DIFFERENT IP address. A hah! I copied and pasted both  IP addresses into my browser and found out one of them pointed to WordPress. So I popped back over to my Yahoo account and changed the aname on my domain to the WordPress IP address. A half our later, the “Under Construction” sign that was the latest plague brought upon my poor website by Yahoo was gone and my WordPress website appeared.

!!!!!

In all it’s POS glory. It’ll get prettied in due time. Now that I can see the darned thing, I’m willing to bother working on it. But I’m learning as I go, so it’s not going to be pretty overnight. And pretty is relative. That’s another reason to write paranormals. I get to create a world, and in my world, pretty websites are for sissies. That’s going to be my firm opinion on the matter–at least until my website looks better.

Boy is THIS fun.

I’m in the process of transferring my website from Yahoo! over here. That sentence should read, “Hey, I’ve moved my website. It took thirty seconds. So now I have all this time to upload book samples for you to read, because I’m re-releasing my Underdead books this month. Enjoy the previews!” At least that’s what I strongly believe I should be typing here. But no, despite having a fine mind (not mine, thank God, or I wouldn’t even have this bit available) on the job of helping me move it, it resists being moved. It is evil. It’s like something out of my books infected my wordpress blogs. It’s lurking in the background cackling. (On the plus side, having evil cackling things hanging around on my writing sites bodes for my next book, assuming, of course, I ever get to write the darned thing. Right now I’m too busy calling Yahoo! tech support– and then bugging the Fine Mind for another round of pity help.)

On the plus side, my website no longer points to the crappy site that sitebuilder stopped supporting. Turns out that when you opened my old website with any browser other than Explorer, half the images were missing and a third of the verbiage. Nice. It was just random phrases and occasional pictures floating on a naked background. Which sounds far more exciting than it was. In truth it was just crappy and embarrasing, the inside of a casino in daylight.

Right. So this is my first blog on the new site that someday will be what people are directed to when they look for lizjasper.com. In the meantime, just we evil gremlins and cranky writers here, waiting for brilliance to strike at yahoo’s nameservers.