suggestions welcome

I'm back.
Back from?
Oh, here and there.
I am looking for ideas on the best way to get my books out there.
Is it blogging?
It is time now for me to get out here and pound the pavement getting my books sold...
good times!

So I am going to a writer's conference...and I am going to share that experience here...
along with something I've not done in a long time....
I am going to post excerpts of one of my stand alone novels, Searching for Hemingway.

I hate pretentious people.
At this moment, I was surrounded by them. “They” were the professors at the University and true to professorial form, they were sucking all of the oxygen out of the room. Normally, I disdained this sort of gathering and avoided them at all costs, but I was currently dating one of the pre-eminent English scholars on the east coast, so it was incumbent upon me to come to this bastion of geniuses and half-heartedly listen as they blathered on about things even Shakespeare himself would have found tedious and boring.
Just as my eyes started rolling in the back of my head, someone in the group made some disparaging remark about Amy Tan’s latest article in the Journal of Rhetoric. The article was about demeaning language, and I found it sad that these nobody’s felt the need to demean her.
It was at this moment that I knew I needed to get the hell out of here before my mouth took a turn for the worse, as it tended to do whenever I was being diminished. Okay, they weren’t talking about me, but they were discussing a novelist, and to these thorns of the English rose garden, fiction writers were schlock artists with nothing to offer their teeny tiny esoteric world. To these long-winded snobs, fiction writing should be sold next to the National Enquirer, which didn’t set well with me since I was a writer for a weekly magazine called The Scene. I was also an aspiring closet novelist, but I didn’t let that light shine from under its bushel; at least not with these people. The fact that I wrote for a magazine that covered past and future artistic venues from cooking to music to books was puny in their erudite eyes. They thought that anyone who didn’t know the meaning of avuncular and abnegate must be severely retarded. I have a Master’s Degree in English and I had no idea what either of those words meant, so I tossed the vocabulary gauntlet down for my 160 IQ Einstein, Professor Derrick Robinson, the man who dragged me to this soirée.
“What does avuncular mean?” I asked after the last pretentious party.
“You’re kidding, right? The word is on ninety percent of the SAT exams.” Derrick was hailing a cab and I was behind him, glaring at the back of his head. If I’d been holding an ax, I would have been glaring at the back of two halves of his head. “I must have missed that one, then.”
Two more cabs ignored him. I may not know avuncular, but I knew karma.
“You should read Monty’s book on the history of contemporary language, Eleanor. Very enlightening.”
Two E words I hated. For some reason, both Derrick and my father called me by my full name. Everyone else called me Ellie. If you were a really good friend, you called me El. “I don’t need to read a book, Derrick. I merely want to know the meaning of that one word.”
The third cab pulled over and I folded myself into it. I fold because at 5’10” there’s a lot of me to get in there in a short amount of time.
“It means,” Derrick said, pausing only to give the cabby the address of my destination. “It means doing something in a benevolent uncle-like way.”
I had to laugh. What in the hell does that mean? I mean, when would you use that word? And who would even understand you if you did? I believed language should be used to communicate with, not to be used as a club. Words like avuncular were stupid and were used only by the highly intellectual in order to establish some sort of rancid superiority. “It’s a seriously dumb word, Derrick.”
He shook his head slowly. “Words cannot be dumb, Eleanor. To say so is to speak in a low brow manner. It is not becoming.”
The cab driver looked over his shoulder, but said nothing. I, on the other hand, laughed in Derrick’s face. I mean, I really laughed. “Low brow? You think that was low brow? Saying it’s a fucking stupid word not worth the spit required to say it would be low brow.”
That night, he slept at his house. Apparently, I was too low on the vocabulary totem pole for him to sleep with. Still, he schlepped me to the end of the year bash, where I swore to myself I would use as many low rent words as I could. I wondered if schlepped counted as one.
Oh sure, I could have bellied up to the bar with the other power wives of his esteemed colleagues; doctors, attorneys, one physicist, and two shrinks, but they were just as pretentious as their publish or perish hubbies, so I had no luck there. I cursed myself for leaving my book in the office. I am always reading since I also write book reviews for the magazine. I think people should always have a book with them for occasions such as doctor’s office visits, cab rides, you name it. One Valentine’s party saw me sitting in the restroom for over an hour with a book. I wasn’t really missed, of course; me with my penny ante vocabulary. I mean, who would miss someone who never used the word avuncular?
Sighing, and quickly moving past a conversation about the use of symbolism in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, I made a break for the balcony, praying it would be unoccupied.
It wasn't.
A tall, dark haired woman was leaning on the railing looking out over Manhattan. I’ve traveled a great deal in my thirty years but few things are as pretty at night as the New York skyline. It’s breathtaking. Apparently, the woman thought so as well, because she didn’t hear my footsteps. She was mesmerized by it, and for some reason, I by her. She had a Joan Crawfordish stature but with softer tones around her face. She wore all black, including a very stylish black hat. Very few women can get away with wearing a 1940’s style hat, but this woman was one. She looked like a living anachronism…my first 64 cent word.
“Bored by the prattle of self-absorbed educators, Ms. Malloy?” She spoke without ever turning around to look at me.
“My ears are bloody stumps,” I said, joining her at the railing.
“How their students keep from slitting their wrists out of sheer boredom is beyond me. I could barely breath in there, stuffy old coots.”
I knew the feeling. “How did you…”
“I read your column religiously, and so far, you are seven out of eight on your fine observations and reviews of the novels.”
“What was the eighth?”
She grinned wider, still not looking at me. “I am quite sure you know which one. Even your review was a tad…wishy-washy.”
I studied the skyline and nodded. “It was Tainted Wine, wasn’t it? I think I felt wishy washy when I wrote it.”
She nodded and only then, turned around. “Your review wasn’t convincing, but I thought perhaps it was my own perceptions about your work that made it appear…gray.”
“Gray?” It felt as if I had just walked into the middle of a conversation.
“Yes. As if you were afraid to commit. I have noticed that about your writing in recent weeks. Don’t get me wrong. I believe you are an excellent writer and a fine judge of good writing. May I assume you are…” she lowered her voice. “Writing the Great American Novel?”
I know why she lowered her voice. I hadn’t even told Derrick that I was writing a novel.
“I write, yes.”
She barely tilted her head. I realized she was wearing Ben Franklin-type glasses. “Such a succinct answer. A rare quality at a party full of windbags. Are you far along?”
I nodded, but the truth was, I had been suffering from writer’s block. “Half way, more or less.”
She seemed to be studying me before she asked, “Might I give you a bit of advice?”
What was I supposed to say? No? “Umm, sure.”
She turned back to the view and was silent for a few moments. When she spoke again, her voice was barely above a whisper and I had to strain to hear. “Women too often surrender their dream for love or they set it aside in lieu of someone else’s. You are struggling with your writing because ever so slowly, yours is being sacrificed. For whatever reason, you do not understand the worth of your words. You can be a diamond in the rough, Ms. Malloy, if only you would allow yourself the luxury of guilt-free writing.”
“Guilt-free wri…”
“Yes. You need to find a way to untie it and release it from whatever has captured it.”
I wanted to ask her a million questions, but Derrick chose that moment to find me. “There you are! I’ve been looking all over for you. I checked the bathroom, in case you found something to read in there.” He came over and hugged me.
“Hardly,” I said, pulling away.
“Forgot your book, didn’t you?”
I grinned. “Yes, damn it, but that’s okay because I’ve found this remarkably interesting woman who…” when I turned to introduce her to Derrick, she was gone.
“She was here a second ago. You must have seen her. She was wearing all black with this big black hat.”
“I think I would have seen a woman wearing a big black hat.”
"She was here a second ago. You must have seen her, she was wearing all black.” I moved quickly to the first door to look for her, but the party was packed and I would never be able to get through the crowd. “Where could she have gone?”
Derrick joined me at the door and put his arm around me. “One more hour. I promise.”
Walking back into the main room, my vision kept sweeping back and forth in search of the woman in black. I never did find her again, and though I didn’t know her name, her words were ringing in my ears even when we left the party.
“Something on your mind, sweetheart?” Derrick asked as we got into the cab. “You seem distracted.”

“I was just thinking about my writing,” I said, snuggling up to him. Derrick was the kind of soft man that a woman could snuggle up to and not be touched by rough hands or an unshaven face. He had a square jaw that my best friend, Paula, called a Dudley Do Right chin. He did look like Dudley Do Right in a lot of ways. He had that same curly-ish blonde hair and deep set blue eyes that I’m sure all the little college cuties swooned over.
“Still bothered by that pesky writer’s block?”
Sighing, I stared out the window and thought of the woman on the terrace. "Bothered? Not any more. I think I know what my problem is."
"And what would that be?"
Facing him, I smiled. "I'm working on a novel."
"You're what?"
Turning away, I sighed. Guilt free writing. Maybe she had something.

Riding Time!

Well...if it's not writing, it's RIDING. You see, when we moved back to California, Lori wanted to get me away from the computers (I am still teaching about 2.5 full time jobs), so she finally agreed to letting me get a Harley...not just ANY Harley, mind you, but the one of my dreams. a gasket cover of dice rolling a seven with the words LUCKY over the top.
I've never named a vehicle, but the bike's name is Lucky.
I feel Lucky most of the time....and blessed.
1) I live in a gorgeous town I grew up in filled with old friends, many of whom never left, many who are returning to care for their elderly parents as well.
2) I have a wonderful partner (and wife) who understands me and takes care of my needs...meaning she gives me time and space to write and ride.
3)I have my health. The older you get, the more important that is.
4)I am incredibly happy on a daily basis
5)I have a cool bike and new, cool tattoos, and and and...
Life is great.

Back in the Proverbial Saddle

I would call it the metaphorical saddle, if I didn't really fit in one just about every other day. Did I buy a horse, you ask? Sort of. I am the proud owner of a 2003 Harley Davidson Dyna Wide Glide who goes by the nom-de-plume of Lucky.
There are times when I think that Lucky quite literally saved my sanity. Being out on the open road is about as free as you can get without flying, and I sort of did that as well this past year. When my youngest daughter and I jumped out of an airplane, I was a little disappointed that it wasn't nearly as fun as being on the back of Lucky. That may tell you a little bit about Lucky: Lucky has red orange and yellow flames across her entire body. She wears so much chrome, as you have to wear sunglasses to look at her. And loud? You can hear Lucky for miles down the road. With all of this, the best part about Lucky is the fact that I no longer have to ride alone.
Lori has decided that she, too, likes being in the saddle. Once we decided that Lucky was going to become a part of our life, we joined a motorcycle group of all women called JUGS. You can check us out and our uber the top cool bikes at Here, we have found kindred spirits; women who aren't into drinking, drama, or drugs.
Why am I sharing all of this?
Because I see a book in it some day. In the Harley world, we have a saying: "if I have to explain it to you, you wouldn't understand." I'm thinking maybe I want to try to explain it to you.
So, stay tuned... because I am back and to bigger and better than before!

What a year

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to sit down and catch people up on my website and blog…it’s been a helluva year and I, for one, am damn glad it’s over. This is the first time in a really long time that I am looking forward to the new year…a really new year.
Not that I’m complaining, mind you. There were some really good parts of 2008:
My eighth book, Across Time came out.
I went to the Panama Canal
Spent a month in Mexico
Visited our youngest in Orlando, where she is Minnie Mouse at Disneyworld.
Watched our oldest excel in college.
And then…
Here is what happened:
We hate the weather in Oregon...last winter was 9 gray months and we decided we did not want to grow old there.
So we started looking for houses in the sun.
Florida, Georgia, Arizona
I was hired at a C College in Florida, but after being in Ft. Lauderdale, I couldn't see us living there, so I declined it.
Then we took a vacation to New Orleans, only to have American Airlines cancel all flights there.
"Can we get to Phoenix?"
So we took that opportunity to look at the ONLY house (a finished model with a pool) that we had fallen in love with over the thousands we'd looked at.
The model had gone on sale THAT day.
So we bought it.
Came home and I started applying in Arizona.
Got hired at the high school in Maricopa.
Put the Oregon house on the very baaaaad market.
In August, I drove to Maricopa, leaving Lori to sell the house and get us packed.
And then....something happened.
I did not do well on my own...I slid down the shitter from a combination of sleeping 3 hours a night, not eating, and being miserable without my dog, my girl, and my books. I was nearly manic by the time Lori came to see me and realized that I was in crisis...we don't know why, but we surmise Maricopa is built on an Indian burial ground, like Poltergeist, and so much there is fucked up.
Lori goes home to Oregon and packs up and moves to Arizona, regardless of the house being for sale. Packs up the dog, the turtles, and a few books, and heads down to Arizona. The first night we were together, I slept 16 hours…
And then we had to move from where I lived into a bigger place.
So....there we in one room of a 5 bedroom house we were sharing with a very lovely Christian woman, who, one week after we moved in, lost the house in divorce court.
But she got the judge to let us stay until Dec.
Problem with that?
The house was EMPTY.
We didn't have a couch...a fork...a pot...NADA.We couldn't even make a sandwich if we wanted to!
To make matters worse...when we bought the house that day, it was one of the few days the CATTLE DAIRY FARM one mile away didn't smell like Bakersfield. I mean, there were days you couldn't take a breath. It was horrible!
So there we an empty house, in a town that stunk, at job where, two months of eating lunch every day, my colleagues (whom I enjoyed) hadn't asked me ONE SINGLE QUESTION. They didn't know if I was married, straight, had kids, or published 8 novels. They knew NOT ONE THING even though we parties every Friday together. How does that happen? How can you not ask someone one personal question? And the funny part is, I really dug them. They were bright, fun, excellent teachers.
But we managed to keep convincing ourselves that this was where we were supposed to be.

And then my mom went into the hospital on Monday and she died of heart failure on Tuesday, necessitating that we return to California to care for my stroke-addled father, who, while still driving, clearly needed help around the house and in general.
What a delightful surprise we got when we discovered that my brother and sister-in-law had been stealing from my parents for years. They had actually gotten my father's SSN and checking account number and set up autopays to pay for their idiot children's cell phones, cable, and cigarettes. They have also been living rent free for the last 5 years, and basically taking half of my dad's pension to live on.
So, two months after we moved to Arizona, we called the movers and returned for good, to Danville in order to protect my dad from the likes of my brother and sister-in-law, who have been living on the gravy train for years.

So...with Lucy and the turtles, Lori and I are settling in to a new life in California. I've built an incredible library in the front room, complete with fireplace and huge picture window. I have been hired by a Community College to teach Intro to Fiction and Composition, and Lori is busy painting and getting the smoke smell out of my dad's house. He loves her as well as little Lucy, and is doing well for having lost his wife of 51 years.
We got him one of those Barka Loungers guys love, a big screen TV, a new bed, a tv in his room, he eats better than he ever has, watches movies with us several times a week and loves our Wii. Life is good for Ronnie.
We have committed to making our home in Danville. We love it there, as it is so quaint, safe, and was voted 20th most affluent city in America by Forbes Magazine. What that means to us is culture. People with money support the arts, put more tax dollars into education, and keep their homes up! LOL. cow smell!
We have decided that we want to start going and doing more, and after the first of the year, are taking same sex ballroom dancing lessons. Ahhh, the beauty of living in the Bay Area!
We look forward to the New Year...a new life from old ashes, and my 9th novel came out in March of 2009, called Second Time Around.
And sooooo now, you're all caught up.
Letting my dad remain in his home until the end of his life is the best gift we could give him. He is a wonderful man who has helped so many people, that this was the only thing to do. I am so glad we're doing it. He is a lot of fun and just a sweet, sweet man.
So that’s where I have been for 2009…glad it’s over…ready to move on.
And I AM moving. I am ready to get an agent, to sell as many Second Time Arounds as I can, and ready to enjoy all life has to offer. If you want to drop me a line…you can always find me at
Lin and Sloth

Let me help!

I get so sick of writing about MEMEMEMEME that I NEED to ask those of you are students what you think about the textbook buyback scams happening to students all over the country.

See, as an English instructor, I don't use any textbooks. ANY. EVER. I refuse to participate in the gouging of our poor the book buy back system that is a joke...nor do I want to use an antiquated text that I used when *I* was in college (my classmates' last names were Neanderthal and Cromagnon).

It's deplorable that we are at the mercy of big business! Besides, with the Internet resources that are out there, there's so much we can use that is FREE, BETTER, and more UP-TO-DATE than those crappy texts so many professors assign.
Does it take more work on my part? Hell yes. Is it worth it? Hell yes.

So...I was thinking...some of you have stories you want people to read and comment on. What I am proposing is this: I would like to send my students to people's blog (especially those who are on my friends' list) and have them read and comment about the pieces. Then, I can log on and grade my students' comments and participation (not online, of course, but in my little black book MWAHAHAHAH)

If this sounds like something you're interested in, feel free to post here, telling me the following:
Length (I'd prefer a shorter piece of 3-7 pages)
One Sentence description of the piece.
What you want the reader to look for as s/he reads.
When/where it is posted so they can find it.

I hope this is helpful. Many of you have been so kind and helpful to me, in getting ACROSS TIME to your friends, your bookstores, etc. I want to return the favor!

Linda Kay

This will make your day!

Okay...I seldom forward things to people, but I did this next piece because it warmed my heart and made me smile.
In a zoo in California, a mother tiger gave birth to a rare set of triplet tiger cubs. Unfortunately, due to complications in the pregnancy, the cubs were born prematurely and due to their tiny size, they died shortly after birth.

The mother tiger after recovering from the delivery suddenly started to decline in health, although physically she was fine. The veterinarians felt that the loss of her litter had caused the tigress to fall into a depression. The doctors decided that if the tigress could surrogate another mother's cubs, perhaps she would improve.

After checking with many other zoos across the country, the depressing news was that there were no tiger cubs of the right age to introduce to the mourning mother. The veterinarians decided to try something that had never been tried in a zoo environment. Sometimes a mother of one species will take on the care of a different species. The only orphans' that could be found quickly were a litter of weanling pigs. The zoo keepers and vets wrapped the piglets in tiger skin and placed the babies around the mother tiger. Would they become cubs or pork chops?

Take a won't believe your eyes!!

Life's funny...

So...we're going to New
Orleans...only...we were holding American Airlines tickets.
We get to the counter and decide we'll go
anywhere where it's sunny...why not Phoenix?
We've been looking at homes there because they're
really affordable and we want OUTOUTOUT of cold,
gray, drizzly Oregon.
So we say, "Can you get us to Phoenix?"
The poor thing who has been yelled at by everyone
says, "Are you kidding? Really?"
She gets us right on a non-stop flight...we get a
cute hotel and a Mustang Convertible and decide,
"Let's at least go to Maricopa (a small town) to
cross it off our list. The only house we want is
a model home and it's not for sale."
Au contraire, mon ami.
We get there.
Our house....after looking at HUNDREDS and
wanting only for sale.
It has 100,000 worth of upgrades, including:
Pool with fountains
Surround sound inside and out
Plantation shutters
Gourmet kitchen
3 car garage
All window coverings
4 bedroom, 3 bath 2700 square feet.

And yes, we bought it.
Yes, we bought it. And why?
We weren't SUPPOSED to be in Arizona last

Or were we?
So now, we have put our home up for sale, I am
looking at jobs in Phoenix, and we'll
be moving anywhere from 2-12 months from now.
Because it's still a model home, it won't be
ready until they sell the last bunch of houses,
which worked great for us because now there's no
It was meant to be.
We can do just fine with all my online jobs (I
now teach at 6 different schools online and love
it), but to keep from being a hermit, I need to
get a job, so I am looking at the MANY other
options in Phoenix. The truth is, I want to teach
right there in Maricopa at the local high school.
That would be fun for me!
Anyway, I wanted to catch you up on the comings
and goings of our life.
Even my MOM thinks it's
a great idea and said, "Frankly, I'm surprised
you stayed in Oregon as long as you have. You'll
love Arizona."
What have you done with my mother?
We are terribly excited, as this was THE house we
wanted and we weren't going to do what we call
When we Costco (and we ALL have done it), we see
something for a great price, but say we'll "get
it next time." When we go back, it's never there.
So we got it.
Life's funny.
This is our pool:


OKay....I've checked around and asked a lot of different folks about the best way to get my books out there, and so far, the most popular response is Myspace. Ugh. I have such ISSUES with myspace...

Does anyone have any advice/ideas/thoughts about this being a good way to go?

Virtual Book Tour Completed

Well that was fast, furious, and fun! I had a great time answering the questions, visiting with people, and generally hanging around blogs to see if folks were commenting, reading,etc. It was an interesting experience...I won't know if it is entirely successful yet, but I am certainly glad I gave it a try.

I am contacting a family member who is a publicist just to see what she thinks I ought to do for my next step in getting Across Time out there. I've had good feedback from people who've read it, but it's time to get it moving!

I am currently working on revision the third in the Across Time series. My editor, Katherine Forrest is working on Second Time Around and will send it back to me with her comments.

Well, I better get back to writing.

Oh...a MUST read...The Book Thief. Don't let the blurb fool you. The story is WONDERFULLY written and completely engaging.