Category Archives: My Novels

Sleuth Fest 2016: Do I dare?


Sleuth Fest 2016 is being held in February here in Deerfield Beach, Florida. This is Mystery Writers of America’s premier conference. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet and greet other authors in the crime fiction/mystery writer league. Seminars are held to provide attendants ways to hone craft skills. There is also time given to pitch your completed, unpublished manuscript to agents. The list of offerings:

* Agent Appointments to pitch your finished work

* Critiques of your 10 page manuscript submission

* Forensic track with current forensic techniques and hands-on forensic workshops

* Social events to mingle with agents, editors and your favorite authors

* Auction to purchase critiques of your work by bestselling authors

* Sessions on the craft of writing

* Sessions on marketing and promoting your work
* Practice your Pitch sessions with experienced authors


You’re not promised a one:one with an agent as the 10 minute time slots fill up fast and I’d be coming in kind of late to the party. Yet, the introverted part of me that cringes at the thought of physically putting myself into a social situation like this also feels it would be grand experience. Do I dare?

Anybody want to meet me there and hold my hand? I’ll pay your plane fair. I’m serious.

I want to go and give it a try, but my social anxiety cripples me.

I need a fan club!

Vote for Winning Book Cover: Narrowed Down to Two

“Naked Alliances” is softcore crime NOT hardcore crime. I recently went through the process of narrowing down covers.

When I first sent out the brief requesting cover designers, I gave the Title of the contest:

Florida Regional Crime Fiction With Humorous Undertones

I was immediately slammed with hardcore, gritty covers. Dozens of them. And designers had a hard time wrapping their heads around “crime with subtle humor”. It was the hint of humor they all missed the point on.

After the first elimination round, I finally got designers focused on humor, but most went overboard into what appeared more like cartoonish children’s books. It is strictly an adult themed book, with violence and nudity. The subtle humor, even some of the silliness, is aimed at adults.


Before you choose a cover between the first poll winner and the runner up, I will tell a little about the story so you have some context. One of the protagonists is an exotic dancer who used to be an E.O.D. Specialist in the Army (explosive ordinance disposal). The story involves the other protagonist, the private investigator becoming foster dad to a young girl on the run, recruiting the exotic dancer as babysitter and hiding them in a nudist resort.

Now that you have a little background, pick a cover that you feel best offers hints at subtle humor and will catch your eye in a thumbnail on Amazon or draw you to read the blurb.

I need your vote! Make sure to star both covers, so your vote counts as like and disliked.

These are the winner and the runner up of the fist poll.

Thank you all for your participation!

Please vote again, even if you already voted in the larger poll.

Here’s the LInk!

Story Not Forgotten

Whatever happened to that other WIP, “Melody of Madness: Surviving Sister?”

It surfaces for air every few weeks. It is a painful process, slow and tedious. It is a difficult thing to write on an issue that is so very personal. How two sisters grew up in the same household and community and suffered from the same psychiatric malady, but share their perceptions through entirely different personal life experiences and develop entirely different personalities.

Claudette, the older, the pianist, appears strongest at the beginning, suffers and struggles through extraordinarily difficult situations that weaken her resolve, but stores the lessons away soulfully, strengthening the marrow that supports her frame.

Carol, the younger, the ballerina, appears weak and frail initially, defies all odds to achieve lofty goals, surpasses everything she ever dreamed of…lilting her way along, and then the perfection is ripped away, shattered, and she is sucked into a vortex she can never escape from.

The relationships they have with their parents, each other, and the ones they come to love crumble as a result of their illness, but one finds ways to triumph and one is forever lost to the emotional waves of manic-depression that crash the spirit against jetties of life.

They love each other as much as they grow to despise each other. Each has three daughters of approximately the same ages.

The sequel parallels the lives of the two middle daughters who are manic-depressive, subsequently dealing with their malady differently and resulting in totally different outcomes.

My word count on Book One is at 15,300. But it moves along like a sailboat on the sea with no wind. There is so very much research required, and the subject matter during the time period does not lend itself to quick searches on the internet.

This is a black and white 8X10 I have of my mother during her youth. Standing in the water, she is showing her friend, one of the Strickland girls, a water lily.

fifties and mama Pine mountain 001

This is a 1957 Chamber of Commerce brochure of the small town of Pine Mountain (Chipley), GA, the inspiration of the fictional town of Southbridge, GA, in the book.

fifties and mama Pine mountain 005


More photos of the pages in the brochure showing the local attractions. I found this in my mother’s scrapbook. You should be able to click on the pic to read the detail.


Uprighted clip

S.O. co. uprighted



Small southern towns are very proud of the little things that put them on the map, like Callaway Gardens, Roosevelt’s Little White House and State Park. Even my Uncle’s Standard Oil Company and the various hotels family members owned got into the brochure, and of course, both the Methodist and the Baptist Church…every small southern town has those. The only industry in town was Dacula Shirt factory…it has long been gone, Arrow took them over and it is nothing but a warehouse and offices today.

This is still a pet project that has not been abandoned but can only receive occasional attention.

Do you have any pet projects hiding in the wings?

Strange Flames

You know I am writing something different. It’s a modern day fairy tale. I haven’t decided what to call it yet. So far it’s in my Scrivener as “Fairy Tale”. I’m thinking, “OMG, Jesus is gay!” You won’t know why until you read the first chapter.

It isn’t meant to be offensive. It is a funny story…and it starts with a southern Baptist girl’s iconic image found in the guy she marries. Turns out he was gay. They get divorced. Don’t tell me this couldn’t happen. It is sort of a memoir. So it’s my story.

I always tried to look at the humorous side to the life I have lived. It’s a coping mechanism.

Maybe I should title this thing “100 People I Didn’t Marry, and Why”.

So, writing a book means you need to do a little research, right?

I mean there is always research involved in what you are writing. This is turning out to be more fun than I thought.

Have you ever wondered what happened to old flames? What about that guy or girl you used to date? What are they doing now? What about their exes…the people they were with before you? Ever wonder about them?

I was twelve years single so they are all fair game as far as I’m concerned. I’m finding them on CNN, You Tube, Facebook. Some are actually quite famous now…some not so. BTW, I have no regrets.

I found this video. This is Sonja. She used to be married to a guy I dated for a year. He was a bit strange. An auspiciously flamboyant eccentric multi-millionaire with new money. I think she was stranger. What do you think?

Seriously…she’s a madame at the Alien Cathouse brothel near Area 51.

This woman was a school teacher when I knew her.

No kidding!

What about you? Any strange old flames?


A Novel Idea

20110907we-relationships-chart-map-showing-many-places-and-peopleBeta readers rock! If you don’t use them, you are really missing out on a wonderful opportunity to get virgin eyes on your work and help you identify strong and weak spots. On my second pass by the alpha reader he saw much improvement in my first crime novel  and I still have a few places that I want to go back and touch up to strengthen a character’s position on certain pertinent matters. So that, along with some beta notes trickling in, is what I have been doing all week.

I have an outline for book two, and another story in my head for book three, but I am feeling a need to break away from this and write something different. I just read a very good “relationship” novel (will tell you more about that later) and I have been mulling over some ideas. It really stimulated me to think about just what comprises a good novel.

Honestly, being human or not, relationships are what most every novel boils down to. The relationship between people and their world, the relationship between lovers, the relationship between individuals, parents, children, siblings, friends, elves, war lords, bad guys, good guys, pets, robots…relationships are what make good novels relate-able.

So I got restrospective and started thinking about all the relationships in my life. There is really some good fodder there. It has not been a typical life, though, but some typical relationship issues were resolved.

The only piece I have really written well in first person was about a gay guy coming to terms with his identity in a community that was less than accepting. I liked the practice of getting into his character, but that story has been done to death.

I am thinking of taking another angle, and writing a piece in first person about a woman who finds herself with two grown children, divorced from a gay guy, and five hundred miles from her home at the age of forty. How she starts over with her life. Having never had her twenties, because of family responsibilities, she suddenly finds herself in a world she has been isolated from for twenty years. She violates the old double standard by trying to juggle relationships.

It sounds sad, but it really isn’t…there would be humorous undertones throughout as she acclimates to a new lifestyle and the dating scene again.

I don’t have a clue what genre it would fit into. Women’s fiction? Chick-lit? I don’t read much in either genre, so I really don’t give a flying flip about rules. I just want to tell the story. The underlying theme is about forgiveness.

I am not one of those paranoid people about sharing unpublished ideas online, because we all have our own ways of telling our stories.

I haven’t made an outline. It’s just a thought. What do you think about it? Boring or interesting? Amusing, maybe?

Any ideas for a working title?

Naked Alliances: Book One: The Naked Eye Series, Cover Idea and New Blurb

green naked Alliances 002

A potential case offered by the former mayor of Orlando could give Richard Noggin P.I. the edge he needs to propel his business into the big leagues. Before he can get to his meeting for his new assignment, a cold case murder, he gets sucked into a crisis situation involving two women from Orange Blossom Trail in the red light district. His calm existence as a private investigator solving marital conflicts and fraud quickly unravels when a transsexual entertainer dumps an abused Asian girl on him. 

I sent off my manuscript to a couple of beta readers today. (Thank you so very much for your willingness to take on this task!!!) Now I am bored…waiting, and was playing around with cover image ideas and blurbs. This, of course, is not a professional book cover image but it works for a manuscript .mobi file pretty good.

I have Book Two in my head, so I have started roughing out a vague outline. I have always been a linear writer, but crime fiction does not lend itself well to that method. So I am experimenting. Some of what I write in Book Two will depend on characters from Book One, so I am anxious to see how the beta reading goes before I get too deep.

What do you think of the blurb?


If you are not having fun, you are doing something wrong!

Keep writing!


Thank you to all the commentators. I believe we have a good gritty blurb that speaks more to the mood and genre of the book. Special thanks to Misha Burnett, who got me thinking in a different direction. That’s what I love about “social” media. People can pool ideas and creativity abounds.

“Richard Noggin, a Florida private investigator, figured that taking on a maleficence case for the former mayor of Orange County would be good for his career. Instead he finds himself in a shadowy world of sex, secrets, slaves…and murder. Drafted to solve a cold case, murder leads to murder. From Little Saigon to Leisure Lagoon, Richard works to protect a young girl and bring down a sinister crime boss.”

Progress Update: Naked Alliances, First Round


I am so far behind with television recorded on my DVR that I have to fast forward through Christmas commercials. Seriously, tried to watch an episode of NCIS with my husband last night and I am like, “Who are all these new people?”

That shows how writing dedicated I am. It has been my focus since the beginning of May. I started this wip in November, put it aside to work on another project, and picked this back up in May. Working every day, sometimes sixteen to eighteen hours non-stop, I had the fish bone skeleton fleshed out on June 8th.

detour_signThat’s what I am calling the first draft. I finally let the rocket scientist, my alpha reader and crime novel aficionado, read it. I was sorely disappointed when he scored me a two out of five. First I did the proofreading edits required, and then I set about fixing a few things and breathing some more life into this animal.

He didn’t like the opening. So I rewrote it. I shared it with my writers’ group and they loved it. Doing so did raise a question in my mind though. Having two predominate plots, with both of them introduced in the first chapter leads the reader to believe they may be more connected than they are. There is character connection, but they aren’t connected by many plot elements. A few, but I’m not sure if they are enough to satisfy the reader in the end.

He’s not bothered by the POV switching for Richard and Brandi, the private investigator and his sidekick, but third changeperson limited narration is not what he is most familiar with. He’s likes third person omniscient best. I’m not changing that because it isn’t really possible without a complete rewrite, and there are so many times that Richard and Brandi are not together it is necessary. When they are together, I try to stick with one POV or the other to avoid head-hopping…but it does sort of result in third person omniscient. I’m not really seeing that as problematic on the revisions.

I felt I already had too many characters, but the RS felt I needed more. Richard is supposed to be somewhat of a loner, and likes to work alone. The RS said not having many friends, neighbors or associates made him less personable, hard to sidle up with. So I did what I could to work a few more into the story. I really like the result.

magicianThe RS also said that Richard needed more of a personal life. I didn’t want volumes of backstory on Richard…and his situation is really keeping him too busy for much of a social life, but I did what I could to round him out a bit better. Maybe that needs more work. I don’t want to severely change his persona though. And I don’t want a lot of ancillary side tracking not related to plot. But I think I have managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat on this one.

I am also in the process of adding another action chapter into a spot that lulled. It is the first time that Richard and Brandi are working actively together and I think I can do this in a way that will make both of their unique personalities shine.

With what I have pumped into this second draft, the additional chapters and revisions, adding characters and giving my MC a bit more of a life, I have drastically altered several scenes.

The RS loved the last few chapters and the ending elements, so I’m not tampering with that.

I will have 30 chapters, and have already reached 64,616 words without the chapter I am in the process of stop signadding. After this, I have a few more chapters to tweak and fine tune and it will be ready for another pass by the rocket scientist. He’s good at proofreading and I want it up to par when I send it to beta readers. Hopefully, I’ll be ready to do that next week.

I am looking to having two read and see what else I need to adjust, and then I’ll try with two more.

I know it is about progress, not perfection, but I would like for this to be the best it can be.

Then, I can start on Book Two…it is already scratching and clawing its way through my brain and itching to come out.

First Read

The alpha reader has finished my MS. He loved the story. He particularly enjoyed the last two chapters and the way that it ended. He really likes the sidekick, Brandi.

Initially, I decided I would not share anything remotely negative about the series. We already know that I am unconventional, and do not always follow rules. I am told we must praise our work as if it’s the best thing since sliced bread. But a first draft is exactly that, a time to examine what might not be working.

Maybe you don’t have any problem areas in your writing and kudos to you if you don’t. But more often than not, with a first draft it is time to take a realistic look at your product and decide where it needs tweaking. There may be parts that need revising, rewriting, or developing further. Better now, than after it has hit the market.

When I first published Red Clay and Roses, I did not know about alpha readers and beta readers. That resulted in putting a product on the market that needed a revision. I learned from first reviews that there was disconnection that wasn’t working all that well in the very first chapter. I revised it, but still didn’t spend the time I should have smoothing it out. I would like to think I have learned from that experience.

I do not want to rush Naked Alliances, or the series. I have some work to do.

I spent a lot of time and energy on developing the character of Brandi. I did not give my main character, Richard, the detective, as much attention and it shows. He needs a life beyond these crime adventures.

The rocket scientist says that he is likable, but flat. Where I was trying to show action and dialog, I neglected narrative and character development. Richard also needs familiars.

The story moves really fast. Though it is 27 chapters (maybe more when I am done), the time spanned is about a week. That’s not a long time to get to know someone. I did not want to write a lot of back story, so I opted to let Richard develop as the story moved along. It really did not work out as effectively as I had hoped and I understand why.

He’s so busy. A lot is going on. Everything around him is new to him. People, settings, and the type of work assignment he has, all new. Nothing is familiar, comfortable. He’s out of his element, but you, the reader, don’t know what his element is yet. He starts out as a bit of a loner, but it is told in third person, and he is hard to get to know in this way. It is difficult to sidle up to him, identify and feel he’s your friend.

So that is what I am doing now. I am working on Richard’s character development, giving him a bit of a life outside of his work. Narrating in a few things to introduce him, and adding a few experiences that let you know who he is before everything in his life suddenly changes.

This may take a couple of weeks, maybe more. I am going to need a couple of pairs of virgin eyes when I am done. I would like to have two people read. Edit and then have two more people read. I do have two beta readers lined up.

It is an off the wall crime caper. I am working hard at doing this right. I don’t want you more confused than a chameleon in a bag of Skittles, so have patience with me.


Central Florida has never been hotter! The first in The Naked Eye Series Novels has Richard Noggin, P.I. scouting the swinger’s venues and a nudist resort to solve a vicious murder case and bring down a crime boss. A young Asian girl’s unexpected appearance on the doorstep of a gay club sets off events that have him struggling to protect her and a fighting to survive.

Pseudonym for Criminal and Corrupt, Silly and Shallow

I have been thinking seriously about taking a pseudonym for my new series and setting up a new site.

Red Clay and Roses is a serious novel about serious issues. It was my debut novel and despite its flaws I am rather proud of it.

The Naked Eye Series is totally different writing. The writing style is different. The voice is different. The genre is different. The characters are sometimes silly. The behaviors of ancillary characters can be shallow. The crimes are serious.  But the overall flavor of the book is amusing…well, sort of.

Doubt, the raven, and I have been dusting furniture today. His feathers came in handy. We moved around some nick-nacks, took down a couple, and added a few, trying to get the house in order.

The rocket scientist says the book, Naked Alliances, “Has merit.” We worked on a couple of paragraphs, tweaked a few lines. He’s helping me tighten it up some. He is three chapters away from the end. There were still a few typos, wrongly used words. Road for rode, was for what, crng for cringe, pron for porn, threshold for door jamb, some dropped commas, a few periods where commas should be.

Now that it is closer for to being ready for other eyes, I am having reservations about presenting it. Not that I am ashamed of it or embarrassed. I just wonder if I shouldn’t have a pseudonym for this sort of work that stands apart from anything more serious that I write…like historical fiction, women’s fiction, a memoir.

I have given some thought to creating another web site. As I have said before, I don’t want to publish this until I have at least two more ready to go. There is plenty of time to prepare, I would think. Anyone here interested in following that site could certainly do so. But I suppose having a wacko crime fiction dedicated site, specifically for the series, makes a lot of sense.

What do you think? Pseudonym? Separate site?

For lack of anything better to do today I played with my character profiles. Here’s some screenshots:



I am really bored today. Hummm! What other trouble can I get myself into?

Start book two?

The Alpha Reader and Doubt’s Arrival


It really started Saturday. The rocket scientist finished a book and picked up my manuscript.  A few hours later, I noticed he had set it down and crawled between the sheets to watch some TV in bed. I checked his reader, where I had put a copy of Naked Alliances for his convenience. He had only read the first two chapters.

Me: So it wasn’t intriguing enough to make you want to keep reading.

RS: I’ve been reading all day. It is fine. I need a little break from reading.

Me: Okay, I don’t want to rush you. (But really I do.)

Sunday he was reading it again. He pointed out a couple of typos and told me I needed to add back a small scene I had taken out. He liked it better with a little foreshadowing of something that is to come later in the book. I made some notes on the paper manuscript. Later in the evening, as I set supper on the table, I noticed he had quietly read up to chapter ten.

Me: You’re up to chapter ten.

RS: Yeah. It’s moving right along.

Me: So, you wanna talk about the book now or wait until you’re done.

RS: I’ll wait. I’ve highlighted a couple of places where things seem a bit disjointed. We’ll see how it all comes together.

Me: *sigh* (The only word that I really heard was disjointed.)

When he went to bed last night, I saw he had gotten up to chapter sixteen. I followed him to the bedroom.

Me: It’s not ready for publication, is it?

RS: No, but it can get there.

Today, after he left for work, I looked in his reader. Naked Alliances is in there with Tim Baker, Michael Connelly, Jonathan Kellerman, Tim Dorsey, John Sanford, Tony Hillerman, Sue Grafton, and Carl Hiaasen. Dozens and dozens of books by these prolific authors.

About that time, I heard a ruckus outside. The yard cat, Boozer, was going nuts. A package had arrived UPS all the way from Idaho. Yes, Doubt is here. The Raven from Entertaining Stories. Lisa and Craig packed him up and sent him to me because he was pecking up Craig’s left brain. So now he is here to work on mine for a while. I thought it would do Craig and Lisa, the Robot, some good to have a little vacation from Doubt. Craig needs some reviews. He doesn’t need Doubt around right now. If you are looking for a couple of quick, clever reads, look up C.S. Boyack on Amazon, here and here, and give him a try.

I brought Doubt inside and took him out of the bucket. Lisa had packed him in there with some water. He was nestled on a bed of peanut shells. When I lifted the lid, he started flying around the room, dodging the ceiling fan blades. He lit on Sunny’s cage, our little yellow cockatiel. Sunny began to sing. Doubt didn’t seem impressed.

The rocket scientist had to go up to Ocala today, so he’ll have a long drive home from work through rush hour traffic. I hope he is up to company. I knew Doubt was coming, but I don’t think the RS did.


I don’t know what to do with myself right now. Wait to do edits. Start on the next manuscript, Book Two in the series. Or, just hang out with Doubt a while on the back porch. It is screened in. There’s a nice perch out there that once belonged to a parrot we had. I could teach him how to talk southern. Maybe we should just go to the beach for a couple of days. Doubt could hang out with the gulls.



* I have to add a note: RS did laugh out loud a couple of times as he was reading. That’s not a bad thing. I had  few attempts at humor in there, so it must have punched him a little, like it was supposed to. At least I am hoping that is why he was laughing 🙂