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Friday, March 29, 2013

Food, food and more food

Cinnamon Roll at Bayside Cafe
Joyce Faulkner and I have more or less eaten our way through Port Isabel and South Padre Island, TX, in the last couple of weeks. In between book events, we have planning meetings with historian Steve Hathcock, author David Harry, Griff Mangan from Paragraphs, and other fun people.

If you're planning a visit, you won't go hungry. Great food is abundant on both sides of the causeway. If Mexican is your wish, we suggest breakfast or lunch at Manuel's and The Chef House in Port Isabel. If you're on the island, try The Chef's Fresh Mexican Food at lunch or La Hacienda for dinner.

Want a sandwich for lunch in Port Isabel? Try Le Sandwich Boutique for delicious soups and sandwiches. For a burger menu to tempt the hardiest eaters, you'll love Will and Jack's.

If you're in the mood for Italian, you'll love Gabriella's on the island. Many restaurants offer Gulf shrimp and fish. Pelican Station in Port Isabel is a personal favorite. Tonight we had a melt-in-your-mouth Filet Mignon at Sea Ranch on the island and of course, we topped it off with Key Lime Pie.

We've divided most of our breakfasts between Bayside Cafe in Laguna Vista and Grapevine on the island. Both have excellent omelettes and at Bayside, we can't resist the cinnamon rolls - we do share one because they are huge.

Can't believe we've been to all of those places but we've enjoyed them all. Think we've gotten any work done?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book Event at Paragraphs

Joyce Faulkner did a reading and book signing at Paragraphs on Padre Blvd this afternoon. After discussing her books, she read two of her short stories. Each moved the audience and elicited responses.

Charles and Mary Russell Muchmore took a break from packing to meet Joyce. They are leaving for home this week. Their enthusiasm for life is always a joy.

Sally Scaman's fun-loving spirit has added to every signing she's attended.

I met George Gause at a couple of presentations about Emergence: The John Bax Story. Today we met his wife Virginia. Both have a background as librarians at the University of Texas - Pan Am. They have spent many years in the Rio Grande Valley and I think they know everyone!

Thanks to Alice Bax and Nancy Smith for attending another of our events. Janice is visiting the island from Albuquerque. She is finishing her manuscript and we enjoyed talking 'author stuff' with her.

Joyce appreciated all the people who stopped by to learn about her books. Afterwards, we spent quite a while discussing books, happenings and life in general. It was an enjoyable afternoon with great people and interesting conversation.

Thanks to Joni and Griff (owners of Paragraphs) for providing a forum for authors on South Padre Island. We always appreciate your support.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My new mystery, Murder Takes No Prisoners, will include photos of Jefferson City, Missouri. Hap Lynch meets a young girl who sees the ghost of a dead woman whose body was found on the prison grounds.
Missouri State Penitentiary regularly hosts paranormal tours. I plan to go on one.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Fog softens the world when you approach with a camera in hand. A couple of days ago I had the good fortune to enjoy a foggy morning when I took Luke for his morning walk. I raced back for my camera and captured a tiny portion of its beauty. The dew on the spiderweb was awesome.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Air Fiesta 2013 - Brownsville

I love taking pictures at the air show every year. While they have fantastic acts every year, my favorite is the Tora! Tora! Tora! - the re-enactment of Pearl Harbor.

This year, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Commemorative Air Force's air shows in the Rio Grande Valley, they offered visitors an expanded version. I can't think of a better way for children and adults to feel the magnitude of that attack - the sounds, the smells and the confusion.

The re-creation ended with President Franklin D. Roosevelt's famous speech to Congress on Dec. 8, 1941.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Editing Manuscripts

Two words! My advice to writers sending manuscripts can be summed up in just two one-syllable words: Edit First.

Editors read for content but the truth is that we grit our teeth at underdeveloped story lines, characters that seem like paper dolls, and grammar that would make an English teacher faint. We don't expect your manuscript to be perfect but we do expect it to be polished.

When you submit a manuscript, the publisher reads it for both marketability and the cost of production. Editing is a a time-consuming job, and as a small publisher, I have to translate the time into dollars - more time, more dollars. I've never yet read a manuscript that excites me enough to overlook that financial consideration.

So back to basics; edit first. When you've completed your manuscript, find a professional editor. Don't even think about depending on yourself. After you've given so much time to developing the story, you reach a point where you see what should be there rather than what is.

Don't rely on your spouse or your best friend. They can't objectively separate the work from you.

Hire a professional with experience who can look at the work objectively. Editors become experts in plot and character development. They can help improve and revise your work, bringing a sharper focus to your story. Although no two editors see a manuscript exactly the same way, they develop an understanding of what entices a reader.

If you intend to self-publish, hire a proofreader when all the editing and layout work is completed. Proofread it yourself first because you will find the errors that sometimes occur during layout. However, that final set of eyes should be a proofreader who has no prior knowledge of the book.

Once you've finished this process, be proud of your work. You've accomplished a lot.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Writer's Perks

I realize that most careers offer their own perks but I can't imagine one that offers anything more exciting than being a writer and an amateur photographer.

Every morning, I awake to thoughts of the characters waiting for me. My fingers itch to get to my computer and bring them to life. I can enjoy the beautiful people and see that justice meets the not-so-beautiful. I can roll the good characteristics of my friends into one energizing person that I love getting to know.

I think every writer loves the fact that their characters take on a life of their own. It's the best reason to write a series because each book brings you closer to the characters.

But it's not only the characters. It's the weather and the surroundings. It would be difficult to write about  the fog if you've never walked or driven through some soupy days. It's windy in Texas and as I've learned about the history of the area, I find I want to write more in this setting that has been defined by its weather.

It's the events - the every day happenings. Most of us have gone to a restaurant and met someone who will definitely end up as a character in a book. Or maybe we hear bits of a conversation that brings a scene we're working on into better focus. Sometimes the event itself - an outdoor market or a visit to a library - dishes up plot and character ideas.

In any case, everything I do, see or hear has the potential to live again in my story. I love that.

I love expanding my horizons by talking to people at signings and other events. People possess an incredible amount of knowledge and experience. I enjoy the opportunity to hear about their lives.

Carrying my camera adds potential to everything I do and everywhere I visit. I can save an image to better remember it or I can save it for possible use in design - for a book, a FB page or my website.

The best advantage to carrying my camera is that it creates an awareness of my surroundings, whether it's nature's beauty or people living their lives. I often think of the times I spent hours running around doing errands and never took the time to notice the world around me. A camera offers not only a chance to capture a moment, but also the photographer's chance to notice that moment.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Air Fiesta Brownsville, TX

One of my favorite March activities, Air Fiesta in Brownsville, takes place next weekend, March 9 and 10 at the Brownsville Airport. Sponsored by the Rio Grande Valley Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, the show offers glimpses into an earlier generation of planes. This is Air Fiesta's 50th Anniversary and an expanded air show will thrill visitors.

I love Tora! Tora! Tora!, the reenactment of Pearl Harbor. Until I first saw it a number of years ago, I had no concept of the vastness or the loudness of the real attack. Movies just don't do it justice. The time it took for the Japanese planes to do a bombing pass, turn around and make another pass amazed me. The heat from the bomb explosions (created by the pyrotechnic team), the deafening sounds, the smells, the time - and this is just pretend.

Everyone should see a reenactment to get a sense of the scope of an air battle.

The aerobatic acts enthrall me and I especially like any type of precision flying. Add the chance to see the planes up close and personal, and it's an educational and entertaining experience. I look forward to seeing the B-17, B-25s and all the other aircraft.

If you're in the area, plan to attend. I'll be there, camera in hand.