Harping On Harper Lee

As an author, I’ve gotten good and bad reviews. The later always sting, but it’s part of the biz.

Nevertheless, I was curious if a classic, like To Kill A Mockingbird, had received any negative reviews.

To my amazement, it has quite a few!

I especially loved the reviewer who gave it 2 stars and misspelled Pulitzer Prize, or the teen who said it was boring and “there’s barely any actions.”

So how should writers handle such critique?

One author I know says she NEVER reads reviews of her books.

I may join her!!


Am I A Pantser?

Wanna know if I’m a Pantser or a Plotter?

Curious what sparked my War of Whispers series?

Need a break from Black Friday?

Then check out this blog interview I recently did for Suzanne van Rooyen.

Drop a line. Make a comment.

Looking forward to meeting you!


You Don’t Need More Crayons

With sharpener!!

Back when I was a kid, Mom would drag me along with her to get school supplies. Most of the stuff I didn’t care about. Crayons, however, were a different matter.

I wanted the big box, the 64 count. The one with the gold and silver crayons, and the sharpener on the back.

Mom smiled and told me we could only afford the small pack.

I fussed. I pouted. But I still didn’t get my mega-crayons. So I resigned myself to failure as a creative, and at so early an age, too!

School came, and when it was time to color, we pulled out our Crayolas. I remember how we looked this way and that to see who, if anyone, held the Holy Grail of Crayons. Most clutched the small size like mine. Except for the girl in the front row. We stared goo-goo eyed at her box with the silver and gold ones…with the built-in sharper…with colors we couldn’t even pronounce!!

“That’s NOT FAIR!”

“How come she gets it and we don’t?”

“Why is she special?”

No, we didn’t really say those things, but I know we all thought them. Instead, we shook our heads–discontent with our lot–while Little Miss 64 flashed a smug smile.

The next day, we walked into class and marveled at our drawings taped to the wall. Even as a kid, I learned a valuable lesson that morning. Those of us with just the basic colors had been forced to be more creative, while the girl with the countless colors wasn’t creative at all.

As an adult, I still have moments when I get jealous of other creative’s artistic or financial success. I become that kid who whines about not having so-and-so’s proverbial Box of Crayons,  convinced, like so many of us, that it is the secret to success. I sometimes even think I deserve it more than they do. Boy, that sure sounds nasty when out in the open, doesn’t it, but it’s the truth!

So today, I’m going to use the crayons I’ve been given, even the broken ones. I’m going to smile, keep my eyes on my own paper, and let adversity spark my creativity.

“I’m NOT a Girl!”

It happened just the other day…again!

Someone thought I was a girl.

No, not by the way I look or dress or walk, but simply based upon the sound of my voice.

Since most of you have never met me, and since the words I’m typing  cannot “sound” and thus you can’t hear me (by the way, if you can, please seek medical attention immediately!) you’ll have to take my word for it that I have an odd sounding voice.

You’d think that I’d be used to it by now.  After all, I’ve had it since, gee, let me think…  And yet, invariably, the sales call or the McDonald’s drive-through reply of, “Thank you, Ma’am!” slams the truth home: I don’t sound like I think I sound!

My voice has been compared to that of Joe Pesci or Ty Pennington’s (sorry, fellas!) and when I sing (I use the term loosely!) I can imitate Geddy Lee from Rush.  Flattering?  Sometimes.  Fun to showcase at parties?  You bet!  And yes, getting a room full of folks to laugh is great, but it doesn’t heal the sting, no, the emotional trauma caused by those sanguine drive-through greeters…

“Ma’am, would you like to Super Size that?”  “No! I want to Super Size your your thick skull before I crack you one!”

And unlike bad breath or rude etiquette, I can’t change or fix it; I’m stuck with this tone!  I suppose I could fashion some hi-tech gizmo with digitized voices and wear it 24/7.  No one would dare call me “Ma’am” or “Mrs Lowder” with the testosterone-laced voice of James Earl Jones, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Clint Eastwood!  And the annoying sales call?  I’d have them cowering beneath their cubicle wishing their momma was nearby!

Years ago, I’d defend myself brashly with retorts like: “I’m Mr. Lowder!” or “I’m NOT a girl!”  But the years have worn me down.  Now, I simply answer their question, or order the latte, all the while wagging my head like the beaten old hound that I am.

And then I go home, fire up my computer and pour out my wrath on them in my stories.

Hey, you’ve got to get your motivation from somewhere.

Vengeance is mine, saith the writer.  Mighty is the pen!

Perception, Reality, and the Eagles.

Back when I was a touring musician out of Nashville, I had a funny experience in which perception wasn’t reality.

Our custom tour bus was parked one morning in a shopping mall.  Needing breakfast, I donned shades, ball cap and joined a fellow musician for the short jaunt across the parking lot to McDonald’s.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a couple making a bee-line for us.

“Please!” she waved, “Can we get your picture in front of your bus?”

We hadn’t showered, were groggy and thus were totally bamboozled why this woman would want a picture of two scraggly  musicians.  Nevertheless, we shrugged and posed arm-over-shoulder as she snapped away.

Thanking us profusely, she jogged off with her husband, giddy with excitement.

“What was that all about?” my friend asked.  I glanced over my shoulder at our tour bus.  Air brushed in large letters across the back side was, “Hotel California.”

I burst out laughing.  “She thinks we’re the Eagles!”  We laughed all the way to the golden arches.

In marketing one’s product, whether it’s a book or an idea, you want the public to “see you” (perception) in a way that makes you larger than life.  After all, you need to stand out from the pack.  Take the story I just shared.  The fact that this poor woman has our picture pasted & labeled in her scrapbook as, “The Eagles: On Tour!” isn’t our fault.  It’s actually hilarious!  Does she point me out as Joe Walsh?  Don Henley?  But I digress.  The point is this: We didn’t lie to her (she never asked us who we were!) nor did we falsely promote ourselves.  She merely perceived us to be someone else based upon our image (i.e., tour bus, logo, etc.)

So as you begin the process of selling and promoting, don’t worry if people misunderstand or perceive you as someone you’re not.

It may be the very thing that will help you succeed.  Who knows, maybe you too will be an Eagle!