Monday, September 26, 2016

First Drafts: Sticking Points And Solutions

First drafts can be like mazes. The way through is never a straight line.


That delightful, delicious, d*mn first draft!

Love it? Leave it? Or is there something in between?
I found out how other writers from David Hewson to Nora Roberts solve the first draft.
Learn what I discovered in my report at Anne R. Allen's blog.
Join the fun! Share your sticking points and solutions in the comments!

Monday, August 29, 2016

How to write compelling characters.

Audrey Hepburn's Little Black Dress

Clothing and appearance, scent and sensibility provide powerful metaphors for a character’s inner life


Joan Crawford’s shoulder pads.

Harry Potter's wand.

James Bond's Beretta.

Mark Zuckerberg's hoodie.

Dragon Lady red lips.

Summer in the city.

A leather-upholstered Rolls-Royce in Hong Kong.

Sexy, man-trap perfume.

Audrey Hepburn's Little Black Dress.


They all have something in common. What is it?
Anne and Ruth know—and they tell. :-)


Thursday, August 4, 2016

She's getting older, but is she getting better?



DOWNHILL (OR, NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE)


From carbon paper to carbon emissions.

From Edward R. Murrow to Bill O’Reilly.

From Audrey Hepburn to Lady Gaga.

From Julia Child to Rachael Ray.

From Ernest Hemingway to EL James.

From Dr. Freud to Dr. Phil.

From I Like Ike to Le Donald.

No wonder I’m so p*ssed off. Not just because I’m about to turn sixty and not just today, but just about all the time and just about everywhere.

On line at the supermarket where I have to bring my own bag and pack my own groceries.

At the gas station where I have to pump my own gas.

On hold listening to the robot telling me my call is important.

At the twenty minutes of trailers and commercials that precede every movie.

At splash ads on the internet.

At cellphones and their rude, clueless users.

At Metro cards that don’t work on first swipe, at double length buses that make Manhattan’s terrible traffic worse.

You name it, it bugs me.

And, right now, you can add Ralph to the list.

Just because we’d been married since about forever did he really have to go on a diet, start exercising, and buy a fancy new wardrobe?

Was he having a mid-life crisis? Or was he having an affair?

For the answer to this question + more, read The Chanel Caper, Book #1 in the Strong, Savvy Women Series.

Available for your Kindle.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

My Mom's recipe for old-fashioned blueberry cobbler

Summer is still here. So are blueberries—and Blueberry Cobbler!



My Mom was a proud New Englander and an excellent cook. Her recipe for blueberry cobbler is quick, easy and delicious, perfect to share with friends, family or to eat standing up in the kitchen as it comes fresh from the oven!

1 quart blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Place in buttered oven-proof casserole.

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sifted flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons butter

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter until crumbly. Moisten with 1/2 cup milk. Spread over berry mixture and bake in 400 oven for 25-30 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned.

Et voilà!

Enjoy with or without ice cream.
Alone or with someone you love.
Morning, noon or night. :-)







Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A woman of a certain age: She had clothes she had owned since Carrie went to the prom but did she need bikini boot camp, a face lift, a Brazilian wax?

I remember college like it was yesterday...

and our first apartment, a fourth floor walkup in a neighborhood so crummy local gang members were afraid to hang out on the corner. I remember my first job at Click magazine and the day Ralph retired from the NYPD. I remember when and why George Profett, the city’s most neurotic billionaire, hired Ralph to be Profett Media’s Vice President in charge of Security.

I remember all those things—and more—but the more important question is, why don’t I remember how I got to be almost sixty?

What happened to all those years between college and now? How did they go by so fast? What was I doing? Why didn’t I notice?

When, exactly, did I become invisible?

When did empty taxis start passing me by and when did the feral perfume ladies in Bloomingdale’s no longer bother to assault me with a spritz?

When, exactly, did people stop listening to me—even when I knew more about the subject at hand than anyone else in the room?

When did my shoe size go from 7 to 8 and my bra size from 34 to 36 even though I hadn’t gained any weight (well, not much, anyway)?

When did I stop reading Vogue and start sleeping in flannel pajamas all year because our apartment was cold in the winter and Ralph blasted the air conditioner in the summer?

Was I one of those women who had let herself go?

Was I about to get dumped for someone newer and younger?

Did I need bikini boot camp, a face lift, a Brazilian wax?

Would a new hair color, a different shade of lipstick or a pair of crotchless panties get Ralph to pay attention to me?

As it turned out, what it took was none of those things. Instead what made the difference was a murder in Shanghai, a dire threat from George delivered in a cheapo Vietnamese restaurant, a gung-ho war correspondent with a humongous pair of 36 Double D’s, a washed-up Martha Stewart wannabe trying to make a come back and a showdown with a one-eyed, one-lagged Afghan warlord who didn’t speak a word of English.

It all began the day I bought a fake Chanel bag from a sidewalk vendor on East Fifty-third Street. I was thrilled with my purchase and knew Ralph, a label snob, would be impressed. Anxious to show off my new bag, I headed for the office, moving faster than I had in years.

So fast, I didn’t notice I was being followed.

Kindle
Read FREE on KU

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

She's a no-BS American woman of a certain age—face to face with an Afghan war lord.



Deep in the wilds of Afghanistan, murderous war lord Hadjji Jalali Gullamdullah
was holding my DH, Ralph, prisoner.

He—Gullamdullah, not Ralph—stood six feet seven and then some. Weighed 350 pounds and then some. Had one eye (the left) and one leg (the right). A beard halfway down his chest. Wore traditional Afghan clothing—kameez shalwar—the loose tunic-like top over baggy pants. Topped off with a black turban and accessorized with an AK-47 and a dozen glowering Uzi-toting bodyguards.

He was accustomed to rabid Taliban fundamentalists, Qu'ran-spouting Al Qaeda fighters, thuggish poppy-growers and murderous drug smugglers but not to the fury of a menobleeped American female in the clutches of the worst mood swing in the history of the post-HRT era.

“Ralph better be all right,” I threatened.

Gullamdullah reached out and grabbed for my iPhone with his huge paw but I stepped back, danced out of his reach and hid the object of his desire deep in the folds of my burqa.

“I want to see him,” I snarled. “Now.”

With that, Gullamdullah took a step toward me. He didn’t care about Ralph, he didn’t care about me, all he wanted was the goddamn iPhone.

He reached for his AK-47. Pointed it straight at me.

Then he pulled the trigger.

Find out what happens next in The Chanel Caper.


Kindle
Read FREE on KU

Monday, June 13, 2016

She remembers Princess phones, floppy disks, carbon paper and typewriters

Blake Weston is a smart, savvy, no BS New Yorker.
Her husband, Ralph Marino, is a très James Bond ex-cop.


When Blake and Ralph, facing sixty, are forced by Ralph’s über-neurotic billionaire boss to work together to solve a murder—and save Ralph’s job—a minor skirmish turns into a major battle. And then...Well, let Blake tell you what happens next.

I left the apartment—with a slammed door for emphasis—and made my way to Julia’s. She’d been spending most of her time in her new fling’s downtown loft so I knew her apartment was empty. I let myself in with the key she had given me years before.

I flipped on the TV. Flipped it off. Wandered into the kitchen, opened the fridge, inventoried the lo-cal, no cholesterol, zero trans-fat, gluten-free offerings and realized I wasn’t hungry. Considered breaking into Julia’s Ketel One but concluded that in my agitated state booze was the last thing I needed.

I went to the bedroom, thought about getting into bed but I was too angry with Ralph to sleep. If I were feeling generous (which I wasn’t) I suppose I could blame his NYPD training but being kept out of the loop and being treated on a “need to know” basis was getting old—and getting old was something I already knew too much about.

I was old enough for night sweats and morning stiffness. For Metamucil and Centrum Silver. For colonoscopies and cholesterol counts. For junk mail offering estate planning advice and good deals on burial plots.

I was old enough to remember the Pan Am Building, Bendel’s when it was at 10 West 57th Street, cash registers, getting up and crossing the room to change the channel, Princess phones, floppy disks, carbon paper and typewriters.

I could even remember when “latte” was Italian for milk—not American for coffee.

I had survived blizzards and blackouts, subway series and subway strikes, Ronald Perelman and Ronald Reagan. I had reached the stage when I forgot names and phone numbers, book and movie titles, where I’d left my glasses, why I’d entered a room and what I was going to say next.

But I wasn’t that old.

I had kept up enough to know I was living in an age of e*trade and eharmony, podcasts and tweets, fuel cells, stem cells, sleeper cells and fat cells. I still had my marbles, my eyesight and my determination. I could conduct a conversation without drooling and get into the bathtub without a LifeAlert.

I also knew enough to ask for input when I needed it, so I called Julia.

“Working with Ralph is not going well,” I told her.

read FREE at KU
Kindle