Sunday, March 30, 2008

Writing a little

I'm managing to write a little every day. On April 1st, I intend to start a 30-day regime, whereby I write something every day. I don't want to overburden myself and aim too high, so I will strive for at least 1000 words a day.

I've been doing better by writing by hand. It seems that the ideas flow better with a pen or pencil in my hand. I then type it onto my AlphaSmart--revising a bit as I go along. Once it's on the Alphie, I can easily let it flow onto the computer.

I've been making all sorts of notes to myself. As I go along in my thinking about the new track of Vengeance Is Mine that I've decided to try, I find myself using the Alphie for the notes and keeping track of them on the computer. I now have a seperate file for all my notes and am slowly printing them out.

I recently got an "all-in-one" HP printer and will try to copy some of the pages in the BOOK IN A MONTH--for my own use. They're different pages indicating ways to keep track of what you're writing. I think I might find them useful.

Everything is worth a try..............

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Reading to Learn

Although I've published three historical novels, I still continue to read writing books for the idea they present. Right now, I'm reading a marvelous book, MAKE A SCENE. It's one of the best books I've read on doing scenes. The author's style says many of the things I already know, but he says them in a different way. He provokes my imagination and, because of the book, I have made many notes for scenes in my Vengeance Is Mine. I'm determined to finish that book before going on to the second book of the Saratoga series.

I'm also reading BOOK IN A MONTH, which I mentioned yesterday. The book is interesting and I'm hoping that it spurs me on to write every day--no matter what comes up. I have surely been lacking in drive in the past year. A friend and I will be working the book together, starting on April 1st. We have agreed not to discuss our stories, but merely to consider how much we have put together in a given day or week. We both need to write and do little else.

Despite all the doctor appointments in April, to which I must drive to Bennington, I will write in each and every office. I find that I'm more confortable writing by hand, so once I have a scene started, I will put it on my Alphie and finish it. Then, and only then, will it go on my computer--AND I WILL NOT GO BACK OVER ANYTHING UNTIL THE FIRST DRAFT IS COMPLETED.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

30 Days to a Novel

A friend and I are going to start a 30 day novel-writing bit. We're going to be working through Book in a Month by Victoria Schmidt. We each work in different ways, but hopefully, our outcome will be a good start on a novel. Perhaps, we'll even have a first draft. So it's surely worth a try. April will be one busy month. I haven't decided how many words or how many pages, but I'm thinking about it. Not too sure that I should settle on a definite number...might defeat myself before I start.

I find myself thinking about a dear friend of mine, Alice Orr. She's not feeling up to par and for such a dynamic woman to be ailing is almost a crime. So, here I am, thinking about her and sending much New York ZEN to her.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sad News

Dear Authors,

I don't often share much personal stuff about myself or what is going
on with me, so I never thought I would be coming to any of you with
this but sometimes life comes at you and you have to deal with it,
and this is one of those times for me.

I could beat around the bush here but that's not me. You deserve the
truth even if it is painful for me to talk about.

I have found out recently, very recently, that my cancer has
returned. For those of you who do not know, this is my 6th time
around with this in a little over 10 years. It started as cervical
cancer 10 years ago and each time has gotten worse and spread to
other places. I will be starting chemotherapy and radiation
treatments shortly and as I have been through these same treatments
twice already, I can honestly say it isn't pretty.

After discussing the issues and options with Susan and Billi, and
then Gretchen and Brenda, it was decided for a few reasons that I
will discuss below, that the only option was to close Dark Eden as of
April 1st. I have to devote my energies and my time to getting
better, and to my daughter.

One reason for closing is the treatment plan itself. I will be in no
shape to run a company, much less take care of anything else.
Another reason is with Brenda having gone back to work fulltime, that
would leave just Gretchen to do it all and as great as she is, she
can't do it by herself. Billi works fulltime and does her part of
the business in the evenings and on weekends. Susan has health
problems that she didn't have when we started this company and
wouldn't be able to do the things that I do. It was hard enough
after the house fire to keep things running smoothly and even then
they were getting some help from me. They pitched in and ran things
beautifully after the fire but that was only for a few months, this
would be for the next 6 months at the very least.

The last reason is all of you. All of you deserve an owner who is
going to be here, who is able to get the things done that need to be
done. I don't want my authors trying to figure out why I haven't
answered emails for a couple of days, or why royalties are late, or
wondering when the things that need to be taken care of are going to
get done, when the reality is that I will be too sick to do it.

I will spend the next two weeks preparing letters to release your
book rights to you, doing March royalties, and closing the readers
group. I will then begin shutting down all the DEP email addresses
except for my own and forwarding all mail from that to my personal
email address. By May 1st, I would hope all payments have cleared
the bank, and on that date I will also close the author group.

On a personal level, I feel horrible that this has to be done to all
of you. I have come to know almost every one of you personally and I
feel as if I have let you all down when you trusted me with your
stories, and I am so sorry for that. You trusted in the fact that
DEP would be around for a long while and I am truly sorry that we are
not going to be.

If you have any questions or problems, please don't hesitate to email
me as I will be working to get last minute things tied up over the
next several weeks.

Please feel free to post this on your blogs or websites as you see
fit. I would rather have the truth out about why we are closing,
even if part of it is a personal issue, than to have DEP's name
trashed across the blog universe. Lord knows some of those people do
not have enough to do but sit around and pick their next victim. I
do not want it to be this company.

If I have not told all of you lately, it is and has been, a pleasure
working with all of you gifted writers and DEP's fantastic staff.

Debra Durham

Monday, March 24, 2008

Interview with Patricia Guthrie

Wanted to post this early in the morning but wound up taking two dogs to the Vet's. Abbey has a stomach ailment and is on one kind of medication and Barney is on another, for sore and stiff back end. I finally got back to the office and it is now after ten.

But here is the interview with Patricia Guthrie, who wrote In the Arms of the Enemy.

This story is dedicated to those horses lost to man’s greed and inhumanity and to those humanitarians whose mission is to save and protect them.

1) What gave you the idea of writing about horse racing fraud and its outcomes?
The seed was planted around those horse show scandals. I had horses in a couple of barns in the northern suburbs of Chicago. I showed a little. Not much. When I moved to the south suburbs I moved into a great barn that specialized in dressage. I’ve ended up in western pleasure. But, believe me everyone knew about the Helen Brach disappearance and the murder of the show horses.

2) What kinds of horses are you writing about and what kind do you ride?
The prologue is set at a race track. Maggie is a trainer and Adam’s father owned many of the horses Maggie and her fiancee trained. The rest of the story takes place at Maggie’s father’s boarding barn. Maggie rides an old quarter horse named “Playboy”. A horse she rescued from the track.

3) Tell us about your main character, please. Is it a horse?
This is a romantic suspense, so there are two protagonists. Adam Blakely and Maggie O’Brien. Adam thinks Maggie had a hand in killing his father’s race horse and its trainer, thus causing his father’s fatal heart attack. The police already have made up their mind that his father was responsible, so Adam goes undercover to try and catch a killer. Only problem, he falls in love with her. This is a story about greed, murder, deception, love and horses. Its motto: Keep your friends close; but your enemies closer.

4) Are you aware of the scandal that went on in the Horse Show business over the deaths of horses, several years ago?
Yes. That’s the seed that planted the story in my mind.

5) Do you intend to write more about the horse business? Yes. I’m plotting another one out right now. It should take a while to get it together.

6) If so, what phases are you going to explore next?
My next book that will be coming out in the spring is called Waterlilies Over My Grave. This is about a woman who leaves a career and an obsessive ex-husband to take a job in a resort town, only her ex follows her with deadly intentions. It’s a romantic suspense. There is a collie in this book named Lady. (I have three collies at home who help me write) and she helps get the bad guys. She’s in quite a few of the scenes.

After that, I’m working on another romantic suspense where the heroine inherits a castle in Romania inhabited by drug dealers. This one has a horse in it that belongs to a nine-year-old boy. The horse wears a straw hat. I haven’t worked out her name or breed yet.

For much more information about Patricia Guthrie and In the Arms of the Enemy, please visit her virtual book tour page at

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saturday and Sunday

The Cambridge Fiction Writers' group met on Friday at the usual time. Since I was just beginning my Vengeance Is Mine again for nth time, I mentioned that I did not want a line to line critique--it was a first draft. I wanted them to be readers and see if what I wrote made sense or if it confused. Doing a line by line doesn't help when you're just writing a scene for the first time. The meeting went well and I came out of it encouraged rather than discouraged. After the meeting we had a pot-luck birthday party for two of the gals who were born in March.

Saturday, I spent a good part of the day helping the neighbors with cleaning out our cellar. There was water-damage and we sent two truck loads to the dump. Our neighbors were fantastic and helped immeasureably. Shel and I couldn't have done it by ourselves.

AND TODAY: I want to tell you that I will be hosting author Patricia Guthrie. who wrote In the Arms of the Enemy, a book about what's often done to horses for the insurance money. I read the book and enjoyed it tremendously. Hope you all like the interview............

Thursday, March 20, 2008

For those interested in what is happening to Borders Book Store.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New York

The Washington Post had a fine article on the 'high-jinks' in New York State. I'm beginning to wonder about politics...........Where do we all go from here?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I think I got my groove on today. I started redoing the characters of Vengeance Is Mine because some folks couldn't tell that Ayden was a woman or a man. Once I got started on that, I found that changing the names of some of the characters helped me get a new slant on the novel. I also found that I had 96 pages already done and am intending to rewrite it all the way I want it. As often happens, I've gotten new ideas and have conquered a problem that bothered me--how did the killer find the person to be murdered. I've got it all now.

I have paid the bills and should be free for the rest of the month. I have fixed two different folders--one for Vengeance and one for Saratoga Winter. I am also reading the book, Book in a Month, which should help me work harder by giving me a method and helping me to outline both stories.

I got another book, Make a Scene. I love to read and every time I read some other author's approach to writing, I not only learn something but I get ideas for my own novels. It's an interesting concept. I know some authors don't read books about writing. I guess they all know more than I do.......but I don't care. I learn something new every day. Now, if I can only apply it to my novels, I'll feel great.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Just a bit of writing

Today, I'm doing a lot of reading, trying to find the cause of my blocks. I'm reading Book in a Month by Victoria Schmidt. What she's got listed covers every excuse I've ever used for not writing. It all embarrassed me so I wrote a couple of paragraphs--but her book looks good and I think I'll try to follow it--see what I can do in the course of a month.

I want to finish the suspense--or die. At the SRWA meeting on Saturday, it got creamed but the folks there gave me some good ideas. I'm going to use those ideas and the novel has taken another turn. I realize now that I hadn't figured it all out properly. It was okay as a romantic suspense, but it didn't come close to the chiller I wanted it to be. Now, I have a better grip on the book.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saturday's Meeting

Today, the SRWA had the largest writers' meeting since I rejoined. There were nine of us. We had a short meeting, lunch and then critiquing. I submitted a new beginning for my suspense and they ripped into it. Actually, they gave me some good solid ideas and I can't wait to work on them.

After the meeting, I went to Staple and bought another flash drive, so that Shel can have one. I will give him the one that works without much trouble. I think I have the right one. If necessary, I'll give him my easy-to-work one and I'll fuss with the new one.

I keep looking at the All-in-One Printers. I'm dying to get one. They look like they work great. If I had one, I could get rid of my two printers, give Shel a better one. My new office has gotten kinda' crowded with all the equipment I have on and under the desk.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Meetings galore

This was the week of meetings. Monday evening, the Cambridge Historical Society met. I'm a board member and had to be there. I got their late, since they had decided at the meeting I missed to start a half hour earlier. They swore they sent me the minutes and didn't really believe me when I said I hadn't received them. But this time, I got the minutes, along with the envelope with the wrong address on it. The wrong address was crossed out and the correct printed with pen. I'll take it to the next meeting.

Tuesday morning at 8:30, the same Society had a breakfast meeting for the Membership Committee to plan for the annual Membership Mixer.

Wednesday was my meeting with Doc R for my annual physical. Got a shot to prevent Shingles, but was told I was otherwise quite healthy. The Doc made sure that I was given two more doctor appointments and one for a mammogram.

Thursday, I had to pick up medicine for little Abbey--at the Vet's. The medicine, a bucket of glucosomine for both dogs and a certain kind of kibble that keeps their teeth clean set me back about $200. Heavens but setters are expensive.

Friday, the Cambridge Fiction Writers met and we worked on three works from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. I didn't get a chance to have the members read mine, so I'll take it to the Saratoga Romance Writers' meeting on Saturday.

Sunday, I'm going to hide in my office................

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Still in water mode

The water in our basement has gone down quite a bit--but not entirely. I want to get down there to remove all the wet stuff before it starts to smell funky.

Today, I did nothing but catch up with my emails, blogs and WVU work. Tomorrow is a mammogram in Vermont, which will take up a good part of the day.

As you can see, I have done little to no writing and am in a funk about it. I just don't feel like writing--bothering to torture myself, but I do know I have to get busy. My publisher is waiting for one of the two novels she's been promised.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Battling floods

I haven't written on this blog all weekend and not even on Monday. We've been battling a flooded cellar. A foot and a half wended its way into our basement. The fire department came twice to pump us out. We were lucky and had our hot water heater and furnace up on blocks and they're fine. Our freezer and the food therein are probably gone. Once the water recedes enough to get downstairs (with big rubber barn boots) I'll try to plug the freezer back in. Oh well...

I did want to tell you that I'm going to interview Patrica Guthrie on the 24th of this month. Here's some info.

For much more information about Patricia Guthrie and In the Arms of the Enemy, visit her virtual book tour site -

Book Summary
Light Sword Publishing announces the release of Patricia A. Guthrie’s first published novel “In the Arms of the Enemy.”
When the death of a racing stable’s prize horse and his trainer is blamed on the stable’s owner; his son, Adam Blakely, goes undercover convinced that the trainer’s partner, Maggie McGregor, is the killer.
Determined to leave the tumultuous world of horse racing, Maggie returns home to try and find peace. When a handsome horse owner moves his horse into her father’s boarding stable and asks Maggie to train his horse, family finances dictate that Maggie accept--and that’s when the accidents begin.
Drowning in deception and lies, Maggie and Adam search for a killer and uncover an insurance scam so insidious, it threatens to rock a horse racing empire and bring the killer to their doorstep. They need to learn to:
Keep your friends close; but your enemies closer.
Review magazine "Affaire de Coeur" says, "With a strong mystery and a sizzling romance, Ms. Guthrie captivates readers from the start. This is an enjoyable thriller with a plot that will keep you guessing until the climactic end.”
* * * * * Rated five stars

Patricia A. Guthrie is a resident of Park Forest, Illinois. A recently retired music teacher from the Chicago Public Schools (May Community Academy and Chicago Vocational Community Academy) and former opera singer, Author Patricia A. Guthrie is now an avid horse owner, dog obedience trainer and writer. Ms. Guthrie lives with three feisty collies who act as “ghost writers” and help her write at every given opportunity.
This story is dedicated to those horses lost to man’s greed and inhumanity and to those humanitarians whose mission is to save and protect them.
In the Arms of the Enemy By Patricia A. Guthrie

Thursday, March 6, 2008

An idea blossoms

I finally got a good idea for Vengeance Is Mine. I have been reading book after book for months now without anything clicking in my head, and I finally read a Mira Book that inspired an idea. While my idea is not as extensive as any of the books I've been reading, I have some thoughts. I guess I've been learning for the past few years.

Finally, I feel like I want to write again. I don't know whether I've had writer's block or what. I've always thought the block was in an author's head. Well, it sure has been in mine. It's like being in a wasteland.

Nothing you write sound good even to you. If others read it, it sounds terrible..........worse, it makes you feel like you can't write at all. One of my critique groups has had me down in the dumps, as if not one single sentence of mine should be left unchanged. At this point, my only solution is write what I feel is necessary for my story but not present it to the group. At least, not present it until you've done the first draft.

Of course, my husband's concept of what I should be writing, how I should be writing it and how futile my efforts are is certainly not helping. I guess he believes that he's the only author in the house, and I'm there to do his bidding--change his work into RTF, send it to the publisher in the proper format, print out his pages when he needs to edit or whatever......cook (although he does sometimes), clean, take care of the dogs, the house and the bills--and, best yet, keep my bloody mouth shut, except to answer, "Yes." Right now, I don't intend to share anything I write or do with him. He can be the big author that everyone cheats, ignores and doesn't appreciate.

Boy, I guess I'm in a tizzy--but the time for the end of such moods is coming to a close. I have an idea................I intend to write Vengeance Is Mine as if it's a totally new book and not rely on any rewrites from the old one.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Looking for new facts

1863 - American Civil War: Battle of Chattanooga begins - Union forces led by General Ulysses S. Grant reinforce troops at Chattanooga, Tennessee and counter-attack Confederate troops.
1867 - The Manchester Martyrs were hanged in Manchester, England for rescuing two Irish men from jail.
1869 - In Dumbarton, Scotland, the clipper Cutty Sark is launched - one of the last clippers ever to be built, and the only one still surviving to this day.

Saratoga Summer: 1863 takes place during the Civil War. The Conscription Draft Act riots play an important part in the book and the information is historically accurate. I merely dragged my characters through how New York City was in 1863, down to one of the first elevators and the burning of a black orphanage. I also take my characters further north, just in time for the first legalized racing in that city--and during the War.

Since I'm working on the sequel now, I've started doing some of the necessary research. I do know that there was a large fire in Saratoga that year--and some racing. I already have some idea of how I'm going to play those things.

At the same time, I'm researching later years because, at least, two more sequels are coming. I just don't know the time frames but I gave myself some facts to look at for the later books. Doing sequels are hard unless you do one after another--something I haven't done, but I'm learning.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Hate Mondays

As an author, I hate Mondays. Today, I decided to go directly to the office. I did not pass GO (Curves) because I wanted to get to the first of the month bills. Went right into the office with the hopes of being able to write on one or the other of my novels.

Before anything else, the dogs started barking in the house, so my husband let them out, screaming to me that they wanted to come into the office. In they came. I started with the bills. They have to be paid, although I'd like to throw some of them out. Every time I sat down with the checkbook in hand, the damned phone rang.

I got a call from Sally's daughter about some plans to be made or not.
I got a call from the Membership chairwoman of the Cambridge Historical Society for a breakfast meeting next Tuesday. We have to do a big membership drive.
I got a call from the Treasurer of the SRWA about cancelling the Tuesday meeting because of the weather report--snow, sleet and freezing rain. We cancelled--then I had to send out an email to everyone (I'm the VP of the group.) so they'd know we cancelled--and I also had to call two people in case they don't read their email right away.
I got a call confirming a doctor's appointment later in the week.

I finally got the checks written out, bills paid, sealed, stamped and ready to post, and I'm so frazzled that I don't even feel like writing. I've let the dogs out once already and they're still walking around this small office, driving me crazy............but at least, the husband is able to write in his office. He has nothing else to do.

And people think I make lots of money doing this--trying to write. Hell, no!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Author Moods

Sometimes we can't control how we feel about situations. While I was writing my suspense, Vengeance Is Mine, and having trouble with it, my husband suggested that I might be more comfortable writing my historical sequel. So I started Saratoga Winter 1865 and got to Chapter 3. His next suggestion, since I seemed to be having trouble with the historical, was that I really seemed to like critiquing more than writing. Now, I don't even feel like writing at all...not even on my blogs. I guess it's difficult to have someone so close tell you that you are not succeeding in anything you're writing--even though you know it yourself.

It's funny, my publisher is interested in getting both of the above mentioned books. My writing sells for her. She keeps asking me about them and I'm nowhere near completion on either. It's a bit daunting, having my husband critique my very behavior and three different writing groups critique my pages, until not a word I've written is worth reading.

Actually, I would like to go back to the suspense. I really like to write and will start doing it for myself and myself alone, if that is what is necessary. I guess having two writers in the house is a bit much, so I will work quietly in the background. I am going to start sneaking into my outdoor office and writing on the much for cooperation.