Monthly Archives: April 2012

Saving the Suburbs from evil one fiend at a time

When I met Julie Kenner more than ten years ago, she’d just begun what has become an amazing career.  The first book I read by Julie was Aphrodite’s Kiss.  Loved it.  Then I read The Givenchy Code.  Also terrific.

THEN I found Carpe Diem, the first book in the Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series.  WOW!   The  idea is so much fun and the execution was brilliant.  

Julie is an astonishingly excellent and prolific writer.  Everything I’ve said about her is completely–well, almost–objective.  She’s a friend, so . . .

The best part about all this is that she will be e-publishing her Soccer Mom series little by little.  A new short story, The Demon You Know, is now available.  I have it on my Kindle, lots of fun and a great introduction to Kate.   The next best part is that she’s blogging HERE tomorrow!  I’m so excited.

Ollie’s Ninety-fourth Birthday

Book Reporter–a great site for finding books to read–asked me to submit a blog for Mother’s Day.   I immediately thought of my mother-in-law Ollie Perrine, the mother I inherited by marrying George.    Here’s the link to that blog

George just sent me pictures of Ollie on her 94th birthday at church, a celebration lovingly set up  by her prayer group.  

 I’m blessed to be a Perrine.

What They Don’t Teach You in Seminary Part 1 by Rev. George Perrine

Guest blogging today is my husband, Rev. George B. Perrine III, a really nice guy, terrific minister, and my inspiration.  Take it away, George!  The blog is yours.

What They Don’t Teach You in Seminary

I.              Extension Cords

So here’s how it really works in churches:  Mary Lou is about to teach an adult class on the weekend and she has a projector to show her slides.  The only wall in the classroom on which she can project her pictures is the wall with the electrical outlet so Mary Lou needs an extension cord.  She finds one but it’s plugged into the coffee maker in the hall.  Since no one is using the coffee maker, Mary Lou borrows the extension cord and her class get to see her slides of Hawaii.  Question: Does Mary Lou put the cord back?  Of course not.  Here is Rule 1: in a church everything belongs to everyone and no one needs to put it back.

The pastor comes in very early Sunday morning and is desperate for a cup of coffee  but the extension cord to the coffee maker is missing so he borrows the cord to the church secretary’s radio (she is not in the building on Sunday anyway).  He makes his coffee, and does he put the cord back?  Of course not, see rule 1.

On Monday morning the secretary comes in and turns on the farm and market report on her radio but it doesn’t come on because her extension cord is gone.  So she borrows the extension cord in the pulpit which provides power to the light the pastor uses to read his sermon notes.  See rule 1 again.

The next Sunday morning the property chairman who is responsible to turn on the light on the pulpit finds there is no extension cord and he searches and finds one in a classroom attached to a projector.  The pastor has a light to bring Light to the worshippers and all is well.  Rule 1 has worked again.

Rule 1 also applies to masking tape, staplers and pens.  Pastors, you know the big drawer on the side on your desk which holds files?  In the back of that drawer is a big hole behind the files.  The wise pastor keeps a supply of extension cords, masking tape, staplers and pens in that hole, and he/she knows that once given out, they will never come back so the pastor never, never tells where they are!  Is that unchristian?  Well, do you want to read your sermon notes on Sunday morning?

Five Bad Habits of Good Writers with Alicia Rasley

Alicia Rasley, RITA-winning writer, extraordinary teacher, and editor, joins us today.  For how much I’ve learned from Alicia and why I’m so delighted to have her visit today, please go back a day to Monday’s blog.  I will say that she helped me through rough spots and is one of the reasons I’m published today.  Welcome Alicia and thank you!

 Thanks, Jane, for inviting me to guest blog! We’ve known each other for a long time. I don’t want to think how long, because really, we are NOT that old. Surely not.

 Anyway, I thought I’d blog on the Five Bad Habits of Good Writers, and start with the person/writer and end up with the businessperson/writer.

 1. Bad habit: Thinking that you have only one book in you. Many writers start out because they want to tell one particular story, a story that’s been inside them for a long time. They write that story in a white heat, and then… then what? Are they done being a writer now that they’ve written that one book? No. If you have one book in you, you have more than one book in you. In fact, now that you’ve gotten this story down, the story that has preoccupied you for years, you might find that you’re liberated now to invent new stories. And you’ve learned something about your writing process and about the structure of a story that will help you when sheer inspiration fails. (And besides, you can always write a sequel to Book #1. Did the Harry Potter series end after his first year at Hogwarts? 🙂

2. Bad habit: Writing 3-chapter proposals, one after another. It’s tempting, yes, to just move on if an idea doesn’t work or a proposal doesn’t sell. But don’t get into that habit. Serial quitting wreaks havoc with our writing process, makes us feel like impostors instead of real novelists, and leaves us empty-handed when an editor says, “What else you got?” And now, when we can sell our books directly to the reader with indie publishing, it’s great to have a few uncontracted novels to put up for sale. But no one is going to buy a dozen partial books. Try to push past that third chapter and finish at least a sketchy first draft. You’ll probably find you fall in love with the book!

3. Bad habit: Deciding you’re good enough and have nothing to learn. You’re never good enough. You’ve always got more to learn. We all do. The moment you decide you know enough and write well enough, that’s the moment you stop being a writer and become a hack. You don’t want to be a hack, do you? Of course not. So with every book you start, determine what you want to learn, whether it’s how to design an action scene or how to hide clues or how to embed more metaphor into your verbs. And then apply yourself to that lesson. Do research. Experiment. Find models in authors who do that aspect well. This will make the writing process more interesting, and will also help individualize each book. And finally, this will help you stay current with what’s going on in fiction, as you’ll be open to new ideas and new techniques.

4. Bad habit: Making business relationships personal. Your agent is not your mother, and your editor is not your friend. You might think they’re terrific. They might think you’re terrific. But let me brutally frank here. You have to be emotionally able to fire the agent if she stops working for you. You must be ready to stay with a publisher that has fired your favorite editor.  Loyalty is a virtue, but temper that with discretion. Too many writers have thrown their lot in with another industry professional who doesn’t in fact have the writer’s best interest front and center. (Nothing wrong with that—everyone must deal with her own career.) This is not a big problem unless you make the relationship personal, so personal loyalty is expected on one or both sides. I’m speaking as someone who made this error and couldn’t fire an agent who just about tanked my career. (We were best buds! How could I fire her when she was losing all those other clients? Was I going to be a traitor too?) Business relationships are about business. Save your love for your family and friends.

5. Bad habit: Forgetting that this is all about the reader. When we start to write, quite naturally it’s all about us. We have a story to tell or a problem to work out.  Then when we start to submit, it’s going to be all about the agent and editor—we want to craft the query letter and the book to capture the attention of the elite industry professional who can make our publishing dreams come true. That’s all perfectly normal. The danger comes when we forget that the whole purpose of writing novels is to connect with readers. When we do what touches or moves or surprises our reader, we will be fulfilling our mission. This means we have to stop being defensive. If our work doesn’t entertain the readers, we should find out why. Often we can make that connection without losing what we personally love about our story—but we can’t get to that point if we decide the reader doesn’t matter. The reader matters most of all. That’s why we write.

The publishing world is changing radically, and we have to change with it. So next year, I might have five different bad habits to report!

So— can you add to this list? What are bad writing habits you notice in yourself and other writers?


* * *Alicia Rasley is a RITA-award winning novelist who has been published by major publishers such as Dell, NAL, and Kensington. Her women’s fiction novel The Year She Fell has twice been a Kindle #1 bestseller in the contemporary fiction category.    Her articles on writing have been widely distributed, and many are collected on her website The Writer’s Corner. She also blogs about writing and editing at Edittorrent. Her Regency romance Poetic Justice is currently available as a Kindle Select book.  She is also the author of the plotting guidebook The Story Within, available for the first time in electronic format.     Click to go to the Amazon page.

Who do you call?

The marvelously talented Alicia Rasley and I’ve been friends since before she and Lynn Kerstan won the RITA.  When I went to RWA conferences, I always attended her workshops because they were so much fun and I learned an incredible amount.

Then I discovered “On-line Alicia.”   She has the most wonderful web site of articles to help writers and answers questions.  Really, when I was stuck, I’d head over there for inspiration and help.   I don’t know if this is still available, but she had a worksheet which helped outline an entire novel in thirty minutes  I used that over and over when I got lost and had no idea what happened next.   I don’t know if I would have published without all the information and help and answers I received from Alicia, but I know her tips really helped and smoothed the path.  She’s taught writing and been an editor.  She really knows what she’s talking about.

NOW her wonderful Regencies are available as ebooks.

I cannot tell you how excited I am both that she’ll be blogging at Notes from Butternut Creek and that her wonderful books will be available again.  Please stop by tomorrow for her blog Five Bad Habits of Good Writers

You can find Alicia at and


How did a nice girl like you end up writing gritty mysteries?

I first met Laura Griffin at her first book signing and was impressed with what a lovely person she is.   I then read her book and was surprised that this lovey woman could write such tough, gritty novels.   Over and over, Laura has proved that she’s one of the best writers of romantic suspense around.  Her latest novel TWISTED released Tuesday.  Laura, I’m delighted to have you here today.  The blog is yours.

Hi, Jane, and thanks for having me today! I get this question a lot, actually. And I’m not sure how I ended up writing chilling suspense books, but it probably has to do with my newspaper background.  I started my career as a reporter, and I was always drawn to the hard news stories. I liked the excitement of going to a crime scene and interviewing cops and hearing eyewitness accounts.

Newspaper reporting turned out to be a great entrée into fiction. I learned to overcome my shyness about interviewing people, which helps me all the time while I’m writing books. Whenever I have a question about something–maybe a police procedure or something about forensic science, I try to track down an expert who can help me get the answer.    I also love to interview people when I’m starting a new story. No matter what my protagonist’s job is–whether it’s a police detective, or a forensic anthropologist, or a hair stylist–I want to meet someone who does that job and get a first-hand account of what it’s like. I want to hear about the sights, the smells, the challenges of their daily life.

My new book TWISTED features rookie police detective Allison Doyle, who is working her first big murder case when she meets FBI profiler Mark Wolfe. To learn about Allison’s job, I interviewed female cops and did a police ride-along in my community. Touring the FBI Academy at Quantico and talking to veteran agents helped me better understand my FBI hero.

I hope readers will enjoy TWISTED! I had so much fun writing this story. This is the fifth book in the Tracers series, and people often ask me if it’s necessary to read the books in order. It isn’t. Each book focuses on a different romantic couple and has a stand-alone mystery plot. So feel free to plunge right in!

* * *New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin started her career in journalism before venturing into the world of romantic suspense. She is the author of ten novels and has won numerous awards, including a RITA Award for Whisper of Warning. Laura lives in Austin, where she is working on the next book in her popular Tracers series. Find Laura on Facebook at or visit




Inspiration from the Great Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky (hockey player) said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  That’s always been my philosophy of writing as well.  If you don’t write and submit, you’ll never publish.  That isn’t easy.    No matter how much you submit, that doesn’t guarantee a publishing contract, but you’ll never sell if you stop writing.

Come by Seekerville today where I’ll be blogging on the low points of my writing career–believe me, there were a lot of them!  Exactly like Wayne, I just kept taking the shots–although we do differ in some other significant ways. 

And tomorrow best-selling RS writer Laura Grinffin will be visiting  Notes from Butternut Creek.  Hope you’ll stop by.