31 December 2011

Signing Out From 2011

by Diane Carlisle

Closing out the year with these few thoughts that make me thankful I have another year coming.

My son came home after three and a half years in the Army, having endured a year in Iraq. He served in the Infantry of all fields! He is now enrolled in college, studying Information Technology and working full time. I'm so very proud and thankful of his service, but am truly happy that he is home safe.

My daughter and I have become closer than we'd ever been. Her broken heart gave me an opportunity to step up to the plate and show what I really had in me as a mother. We experienced some major bonding this year and I even heard her tell another person that I was her best friend. I'm not one of those moms who try to be the daughter's best friend either. See...I wasn't even trying at something and it just happened. :)

My husband of 25 years had all his CT scans come back clean this entire year! That's cancer free 1/5th of the way! Four more years and it'll be like he never had cancer. How awesome is that?

I've even made major accomplishments for myself that needed to be made. I've given up on striving in my field of study and leaned more toward nurturing my desire to write and opening the pathways to discover what is the right path for me. Sure, my job pays my bills, but it doesn't keep me healthy and lively, not like what I produce when I am writing.

I've joined the Tallahassee Writer's Association, the Florida Writer's Association and I've been accepted into a local writing group comprised of editors, published writers and fellow professionals in the Tallahassee community. My next pursuit is to join the Toast Masters Club here in Tallahassee so that I can brush up on my speaking skills.

Life is good, people! All you have to do is figure out what you like to do and do away with the people in your life who are keeping you down. Follow your dreams. It's not about getting a bigger paycheck, it's about making progress. Sometimes you have to take a step back to make that happen.

Bring on the New Year!

28 December 2011

Why Guys Really Are From Mars

by Diane Carlisle

Going on 25 years of marriage, I was thinking back to the times before we were married and it made me wonder why I considered marriage at such a young age. Not only was my husband the same handsome man he is today, but he was a miracle after having endured a few years dealing with men who really were from Mars. How did he approach me and ask me out?

"What time do you get off work?"

"Two o'clock."

"Can I buy you breakfast?"

"I'd like that."

I found out later that he needed to be up at 6:00 in the morning to make it into work on time. I didn’t learn about that during the date; it was much later into our relationship, when he was comfortable enough that I would realize it didn’t matter.

See how simple that was? There's nothing fake, no non-sense, and none of this hidden agenda and side stepping. There were just a few simple questions and a little bit of confidence and genuine feeling. That's all it took.

However, before my lovely husband came along and swept me up with his no non-sense swag, there were 5 truly remarkable approaches made toward me that deserved a rejection. I wasn't really equipped at the time to respond to these really bizarre approaches, but I can respond to them today. Here they are. Each approach now has a title and my official answer!

The Jail Bait

"My ex-girlfriend works at the Foxy Lady. Will you go there with me tonight so I can make her jealous?"

Um, sure. I always wanted to go to a strip club and get beat up by an angry, naked girl and end up in jail for sexual assault because I accidentally touched her boob while defending myself.

The Little Black Book

"Can I get your phone number in case I want to ask you out sometime?"

The priorities are all wrong here. Ask me out on a date first, then get the phone number. Okay?

The Fan Club

Rolling a joint, "Some friends and I are hanging out at the Mullet Festival this weekend. Want to tag along?"

The Mullet Festival is not a stage, you are not a rock star and I am not your groupie.

The Look At Me Now

He gloriously fans out 10 twenty dollar bills and says, "Would you sleep with me now?"

You had a better chance before.

The Self Fullfilling Prophecy

"I was going to ask you out, but you're not really my type."

I was going to say no, but you never really asked me out.

There was a Dilbert cartoon that came out this week featuring “The Topper”. In the name of my favorite cartoon, can any of you top these? Please tell me your story and give me your answers you weren’t able to provide in the heat of the moment!

23 December 2011

All About My 5th Grade Bully

by Diane Carlisle

I commented about school lunches on April Plummer's blog this past week and it got me thinking about childhood traumas, or what I call childhood dramas today. This led me to thinking about an issue which has become a huge problem today, and not only amongst children either. Bullying is becoming so widespread, or is it just getting more visibility because of social media and technological advances?

I remember the girl who bullied me when we were in 5th grade. I can envision her face as I'm writing this. When I see her, this child who must have been lashing out, but at what I couldn't begin to tell you, she is just that, a small child.

Her name was Ellen Mathews (name changed to protect her in case she’s a changed person today). She always wore a dress. She didn't wear new dresses. They were old and two sizes too big. Her hair wasn't glistening and shiny like the other black girls whose moms had obviously taken care to comb, braid and polish their hair before sending them off to school.

Ellen's hair was scary. I can only imagine that she had to do her own hair. Her braids were loosely twisted together like the hairy legs of a tarantula spider and they looked like they had a fine layer of volcanic ash dusted over them. Her skin wasn't golden, chocolaty or brown, it was an ashy black and her eyes the same. She knew I was afraid of her and I think that made things worse.

Why do I remember her so vividly? Because up until that point, I'd never been bullied in my life. Sure I'd been in arguments and fights with other kids, but being bullied is a whole different issue. I'd never felt so alone as I did when I was bullied, and that face and her demeanor, mannerisms and all, will never go away.

Such little things a person can do to terrify another person and she probably didn't realize it. Maybe someone was doing it to her, I don't know. But, how else does a child learn that kind of behavior? I mean to ball up your fist, bug out your eyes with an angry grimace and silently mouth to someone you barely know, “I’m a get you.” That doesn’t just come from a 5th grade little girl.

I remember once we were on our way to the library and she walked up next to me and started teasing me and so I sped up. Then she sped up so that we were neck and neck again. I slowed down and so did she. I was afraid and she knew it. Then she said, "I'm a beat you up when we get out the library."

I didn't say anything back, I just kept walking. My entire session at the library was spent worrying about being beat up. Ten minutes before the bell rang, she looked over and stared at me. I glanced away, but each time I looked up again, she was still staring at me and her face looked angrier and angrier. It was like the first time I'd watched The Wizard of Oz and Miss Gulch rode by on her bike during the tornado and then turned into the wicked witch of the west. I remember all I wanted to do was go home.

I felt claustrophobic. All the other children at my table seemed to be caught up in their own groups, laughing and whispering with each other, and the librarian was busy cataloguing books. It was the loneliest feeling I'd ever experienced. I should have told a teacher, but I didn't want to bother anyone with my little issue. I didn't want anyone to know I was afraid, that this little girl who was smaller than me was making me afraid.

Anyway, she beat me up like she said she would. I was shoved and pushed against another child, who got mad at me for stumbling into them and thus pushed me back into the bully. Of course, they couldn't get mad at the person responsible for pushing me into them, right? The whole time I wanted to apologize to each person I stumbled into in hopes that they'd forgive me and not join the harassment.

Of course, I didn't tell my parents because I didn't get punched in the eye or mouth, no black eye or fat lip. She didn't hit me, just lots of shoving and pushing which sort of injured my pride a bit. Then a teacher got word that there was a "fight" and Ellen and I both had to write "I will not fight in school" five hundred times each. Sad, isn't it?

The next morning I remember going into my parent's bedroom and whispering to my mother, "I don't feel good. Can I stay home from school?" The dreaded hand to my forehead to check my temperature was an indication that I'd be going to school to face my bully yet again.

This sort of thing didn't happen every day. But you just never knew when it was going to happen. How do you prepare yourself to face such a person? There was always that day when I'd show up at school and Ellen didn't. CHA-CHING!! Free at last, free at last! Thank God Almighty, free at last! Well, at least for that one day.

21 December 2011

Celebrate This Giveaway - Win Writer's Software

by Diane Carlisle

Come celebrate with me! You have an opportunity to win a license for one copy of Contour, a software package that will help generate your plot for that novel you've been mulling over. It's a $50.00 value!

All you have to do is sign up for my free newsletter which will ensure that you receive an electronic version of my future blog entries. When you do this, you will receive an email asking to verify your listed email address. If you're not sure how to sign up, just post a comment with your email address. Be sure to use "at" in place of "@" in your address to ensure spammers cannot extract it. I will personally sign you up to receive your subscription without the additional hassle.

On the day of my 10,000th hit (next couple weeks), I will randomly draw an email address and the winner of that drawing will receive an email from me with a link and license code for access to the site and download of the software.

If you have any questions, please contact me via the contact form at the bottom of this page.

I can't wait to see who wins! I want to exchange our first plot creations with Contour (I bought a copy for myself as well. You didn't think you'd get something I didn't already have...did you?).


Merry Christmas everyone!!

***UPDATE: 10,000 hits exceeded on 12/29/2011 and winner has been granted one license of this software!

16 December 2011

My Top 10 Pet Peeves of the Romance Novel

I am not picking on romance writers. I’m picking out some elements of romance novels that bother me, especially when they are over done or poorly written. So, here are my top 10 pet peeves on the romance novels that I’ve read throughout the years. Don’t worry, mystery/suspense novels, you’re next!

1. His eyes danced across her bosom

Really? Aside from the fact that eyeballs do not have arms and legs and therefore cannot possibly dance anywhere, let alone atop her voluminous breasts, this just grates on my nerves. I want to pluck those pesky eyeballs from her chest and hoist them back into their sockets.

2. Kissing and flirting for increased sexual tension

When a story is already classified as a romance, there’s no question that there will exist a sexual tension of sorts between the hero and heroine. But don’t ruin it with the occasional stolen kiss or less than climactic romp in the hay throughout the storyline. It’s not necessary and it makes the consummation less meaningful and intense. When he finally “takes her” it should be all the way or nothing. Wait, that’s too much like real life chemistry.

3. The sardonic smile

Seriously, what does this look like? Does one side of his lip go up in a quirk and the other in a half-ass smile? Awkward, isn't it? Why doesn't he just smile after making a satirical remark? Is that too difficult to put down on paper?

4. His smile reached his eyes.

Don't you picture a set of stretched lips popping out from behind the eyes, gasping for breath after having climbed some mysterious set of stairs in order to get there?

5. The seduction by the virginal heroine, while the hero watches with obvious amusement

This is painful to read. This doesn't happen in reality. No matter how clumsy a beautiful, young woman's attempt at seduction, no male object of her affection is going to be watching with amusement. He will be involved from the beginning when she asks, "Would you like to come in for a drink?" This is not amusing to any man; this is serious business. Anything a woman does from this point on deserves his full attention, seriously.

6. Aftermath of the lust-filled evening

Why does the guy always get up first, leaving the woman to awaken, alone, cheeks burning as she reflects upon her behavior from the previous evening? Instead, I want to see her walk in when he wakes up. I want her to be fully clothed and in control. She drops a few photos on the bed and says, "My real name is Isabelle Gonzales and I'm a spy. I've been following your involvement with Cicero, Inc. We'll need to clear a few things up before breakfast." Exit heroine, wearing 4 inch stilettos and an Armani suit. But hey, that's just me.

7. Enter femme fatale

Why are they always a mirror image of the bitchiest girl in high school? A woman doesn't have to be a complete bitch to make another woman feel insecure. I'd like to read some fresh material on this element of romance. The femme fatale is over played and certainly under appreciated by me.

8. Good looking millionaires thinking that a woman is after his money

Right, because he certainly doesn’t have anything else going for him. Perfect teeth, brilliant smile, confidence, strength and a great command over the people around him -- no, that's not attractive at all. It's definitely his money she's after. Nothing like ruining a perfectly wonderful hero by making him a dumbass on top of all his greatness.

9. The big misunderstanding

Every romance has one. The perceived socialite is discovered to be a virgin. The hermit lumber jack turns out to be the CEO of a multi-million dollar company. Ta da! Surprise! Really?

10. Wrapping it all up

The ending of a romance is always the boring part to me. All the mysterious things going on have to be wrapped up by the author in such a way that you will understand why something happened that probably shouldn't have happened without explanation. This is also the part where the man gets mushy and drops the facade of being the strong, wealthy, confident man with whom she fell in love. He's become a wallowing wimp and she cries tears of joy over his professed love for her.

The End

13 December 2011

From My Digital Studio

by Diane Carlisle

Many of my blog entries are geared more toward writing, blog chains and tips. Sometimes I've gone off in the weeds and wrote a piece or two about technology or maybe I've ranted about something that annoyed me.

Well, here's another digression for you. I want to share some of my other artistic endeavors. Surprise! Aside from dabbling in writing, I enjoy photography. Actually, I was asked to photograph a friend's wedding in April and I'm a bit nervous about doing it, so I was hoping for some feedback.

If you enjoy the slides, please let me know by commenting. It would give me that extra confidence I'm going to need in order to pull off a wedding!

08 December 2011

A Picture's Worth 50 Words

by Diane Carlisle

I came across this photo because I was looking for some inspiration to write a steamy, romantic scene for my suspense/mystery project. After I stumbled upon this, I got to thinking. What's going on here? And who the hell is that dude in the background?

So now, of course, my OCD is kind of looping along here. I can't get anything done because I can't think of anything other than the purpose of the guy in the background. If you look closely, he isn't even looking at the couple in the hay. He's looking over to the right. If I were him, I'd at least have a seat on one of those bales of hay and enjoy the entertainment.

Seriously, could anyone possibly come up with any sort of fictional situation that could explain this photo? Can you write your version of what's going on here?

I started thinking along the lines:

While waiting for his turn with the lady Jessica, Patrick noticed a movement at the side entrance to the barn and decided to have a look. He wasn't about to let anyone get in the way of his chances to score, even though he was getting Mack's sloppy seconds.

In 50 words or less, please share your story in the comments.

03 December 2011

T'was The Night Before Upgrades

by Diane Carlisle

This month's prompt:
Home for the Holidays (not associated with the real Holiday).

This one is broad: write about a holiday memory. It can be fiction or non-fiction, and the choice of holiday is yours (fictional holidays are okay too). Perhaps you can invent an annoying relative.


I'm going with a poem this time. Before I became a Developer, I was a Systems Administrator to the home of several AS400 systems. An upgrade can make you feel so alone in the world because they had to be performed when nobody was using the systems, mainly at the early hours after midnight. Since it's supposed to be a holiday blog, I'll try and keep it to the beat of Twas the Night Before Christmas.

T'was the night before upgrades
No developer in sight
The server backed up
Tapes locked away tight

With the coffee pot on
And I fraught with jitters
Had stayed for the evening
Left behind by the quitters

At the strike of midnight
I looked at my plan
To remind myself
How important I am

The lights were all dim
The cubicles bare
My own sense of doom
Cried out in despair

Let one thing go wrong
Just one little glitch
Your career will be over
Before the first pitch

I took a deep breath
And opened the door
The room lit up
No motion ignored

I loaded the drive
And it whirred with a noise
I stood back and waited
Patience and poise

When it was over
And my pride was restored
I knew right then
Why I never get bored

Life is not easy
While at the helm of the ship
It's better than jumping
At the crack of a whip

A holiday message
From me to you
Always have pride
In the things that you do

Happy Holidays all! Please add a four line verse from your own life and share it in the comments! I would love to hear about a slice of your life. Have fun with it!

Other Holiday Participants and Posts:

orion_mk3 (link to this month's post)
Ralph Pines (link to this month's post)
pyrosama YOU ARE HERE
AbielleRose (link to this month's post)
writingismypassion (link to this month's post)
Domoviye (link to this month's post)
Areteus (link to this month's post)
Alynza (link to this month's post)
SuzanneSeese (link to this month's post)
robeiae (link to this month's post)
MamaStrong (link to this month's post)
kimberlycreates (link to this month's post)
darnzen (link to this month's post)
LilGreenBookworm (link to this month's post)
Cath (link to this month's post)
AuburnAssassin (link to this month's post)
Diana Rajchel (link to this month's post)
SinisterCola (link to this month's post)

30 November 2011

Creating Character Emotions - Apathy

by Diane Carlisle

From Dictionary.com - apathy   [ap-uh-thee] noun, plural -thies.

1. Absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.
2. Lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.


The floating scaffold moved side to side, sloshing about the soapy water in his bucket. He whipped the squeegee downward in a quick motion, the excess fluid sprayed off into the wind like a mist. The muffled voices inside just another part of the scenery, a hundred feet in the air in front of his 15th window of the day.

The screaming on the other side seemed like a movie playing in the background. He pressed the spongy strip to the glass and made square patterns on the surface, the liquid dripping toward the bottom pane and carrying a summer’s worth of dust and pigeon shit in its stream. A green and white speck hitched a ride inside a soapy bubble the size of a nickel.

The woman threw a vase across the room, "I hate you!"

The man ducked and the fixture shattered against a closed door.

He'd witnessed this scene before in his own living room, back when Margie used to watch the Soap Operas. He would leave her alone, engrossed in her favorite episodes. Something else could occupy his time. Make a sandwich. Swat at flies. Anything.

He flipped the squeegee over to its rubber side and pulled downward, pressing hard against the glass. The water flowed quickly, gravity forcing the drips to race each other to the bottom.

In two large strides, the man closed the gap between himself and the woman, placing his hands around her neck. He looked angry.

The wind shifted the scaffold back and forth and the clean surface he just uncovered gleamed in contrast to the rest of the window. He again placed the squeegee back to the top and pulled down. A pigeon stopped in for a visit and perched itself on a side panel.

“Hello there little fellow.”

The pigeon cooed back at him.

The woman tried kicking and punching, but she looked as if she was losing in her struggle for air. Her punches and kicks slowed down and then she was still.

"People will be people, eh?" he said to the pigeon and then raised the squeegee to remove the rest of the soapy liquid before moving on to his next window.

22 November 2011

I Turned 45 Today!

by Diane Carlisle

I didn't think I'd ever have the opportunity to speak those words. Or, in this case, should I say write them? It's one of those things you never think about when you're 18 or so. You don't just wake up on a given morning and go, "Wow, one day I'm going to be old." It just sort of happens to you. But funny thing is, when you turn 45, you actually do look ahead 10 and 20 years, because now you're looking at retirement, and a few more of those pesky wrinkles.

Did you know God created us in a way such that our eyes go bad right around the same time we start noticing the fine lines? Yes, you actually look a lot worse than what you're seeing in the mirror. God has compassion. My eye doctor called the other day to remind me that it's time for my annual eye exam. I said, "No it's not, I'm fine!"

But I'm not going to think about that today. Today is my birthday and so I'm going to celebrate by listing a few things in my life for which I've been truly grateful.

1. My husband. Because no matter how old I get, he'll always be 8 years older. I just need to keep him young and healthy so that I die before he does.

2. My children. Thank goodness I endured having them AND raising them. When you get to be my age, you appreciate that you have adult children around who can take care of you when you can't take care of yourself anymore.

3. My college degree. I was going to save the world from that Y2K bug. Remember that? I graduated with my Computer Science degree in 1998. I was ready for them to unleash the beast unto the world so that I may slay it and be truly worthy. Nothing glorious there, just a lot of painfully monotonous coding and testing.

4. My sister. Because she is 11 months older than I am so we're always the same age on my birthday and remain so for about three weeks. I won't ask her what it feels like turning 46. I'll just wait it out until next year. It just makes me feel better when I can see that she isn't totally freaking out over it.

5. My adversities in life. I wouldn't have made it this far if I didn't have challenges pushing me forward and people getting in the way of my success. I've had to change and adapt to all sorts of life's nuances and having done so, I realize that my ideals of yesterday were never meant to be because they would not have served me well today. My success is what I have now. Everything else positive that comes my way is just icing on the cake.

Have a great day!

19 November 2011

Flash Back 1984 - What Happened?

by Diane Carlisle

In the summer of 1984 I worked in an ice cream parlor. Times were as bad, if not a little worse than today, but as teenagers back then, we didn't worry about our futures. It wasn't beneath us to work in fast food or customer service. I served chili dogs and soft serve ice cream. I even made milkshakes in those mixers that always spun the glob of ice cream to the top, splattering milk all over the place. But I was happy to collect my $52.00 paycheck at the end of the week.

I applied for student loans and attended Coastal Carolina Community College to try and better myself so I wouldn’t have to work in the fast food business for the rest of my life. I worked late at night at my mother’s restaurant and lounge. After “last call” I had one hour of cleanup and two hours all to myself to get my homework done.

The closest thing we had to console games was a downhill skiing game produced by Activision. A stick figure would move down a snow capped mountain in a pair of skis that resembled a perpendicular equal sign which, when manipulated by the controller, would turn slightly to the left and then the right in order to simulate the side to side motion you might imagine happening when someone is actually skiing down the side of a hill.

The most entertaining part of the game was when the skier would crash into a tree or a flagpole and the equal sign turned into what looked like a 'V', made to resemble a mangled set of skis. Game developers had to be creative with what they had back then.

Still, we'd get bored and head out to the local gaming arcade. Tempest, Asteroids and Galaga were much more entertaining, had better graphics and they only cost one token. By the way, a token back then wasn't $.25. You could stay in the arcade all night if you had a couple bucks. That was our entertainment and social outlet.

So what's the difference today? The unemployment numbers come out and we gasp. Our children are coming home from college with no jobs. Yet, in America, the obesity rate is skyrocketing and our economy is crashing to an all-time low.

Credit and technology is what happened.

Want that new console game that's coming out next month? It only costs $59.95 and you'll probably beat it in less time than I spent on a Friday night with friends at the arcade. I know arcades sound lame to kids today and who needs to be part of a social group when we have Facebook and Twitter? Work at Burger King? Fuck that. Our kids eat fast food, they don’t serve it. They'll just wait around until someone offers them a desk job where they can sit around all day and surf the internet.

Reflect a little. So tell me, what were you doing in 1984?

12 November 2011

Classroom Introductions Are Stupid

by Diane Carlisle

I've always heard that fear of public speaking is the number one fear for 90% of people, a higher percentage than that of those who fear death. Wow, that's something. But that in itself makes me the more curious about this phenomenon. Let's dissect the very simplest form of public speaking, the classroom introduction.

I hate it when the instructor tells the class about himself, or herself, and then asks each student, when it's their turn, to stand up and tell a little about themselves, starting with their name. UGH!! Again? I just did that in the last class! Why do professors require this sort of thing? Is this a teaching tool that they learn at University to get the classroom under control by elevating themselves and blathering on about their own background and why it is they came to be here before us today?

I'm thinking, "Good, I'm not in the front row this time, so I won't be going first. I'll get to hear what everyone else has to say and then I won't feel so bad after they all reveal how absolutely boring they are in their everyday lives." Of course, it never turns out that way. There's always the Director over some huge operation in the Gulf or a Naval Officer working on his Master's degree while taking a break from his annual hiking expedition.

So what can I say now? My nerves are in a bunch already, but now I have to reveal that I'm a software developer who loves to play online, roleplaying games as well as 1st person shooters, and I like to write about fictional characters who commit heinous crimes, including the dismemberment of a college professor who asked his students to introduce themselves.

I stand, take a deep breath, and clear my throat, "My name is Diane Carlisle and I'm a software developer." I sit down.

< crickets chirping >

You would think I just blurted out that I was an alcoholic. I take out my iPhone and make like I'm busy.

"That's interesting, Ms. Carlisle. Do you have any hobbies?" Ah, the ole you won't get away with that in my classroom tactic.

I look up. "No, I don't." Back to my iPhone.

"So, what do you expect to gain from this class?"

I want to say an "A" but decide that would be rude. See what public speaking does to people? That's not me at all. Why does this happen? Normally, I'm fine with talking in front of a group of people and being the center of attention when I have something which I care to share, like a software product I created. So why is an introduction of myself so off putting? Why do I feel so at odds when asked to tell a little about myself?

I don't like to blather on about who I am (at least not in a public forum such as a classroom) because I'm a rather humble person. Once I'm done with the class, it's time to move on. Nobody is going to care about what I do or who I am 8 weeks from now when this class is over, so why are we wasting time and energy going through it? I hate being redundant. Can't we just exchange business cards? Here, take one...my blog address is printed on there and I wrote a "little" about myself on a page labeled "About Me". Stop by and comment sometime.

So, are you ever anxious about public speaking? If so, why?

09 November 2011

NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month

by Diane Carlisle

NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month (not affiliated with the real NaBloPoMo).

Write up a back cover blurb for a book you have written or would like to write. It should be short, sweet, yet give a sense of people and events without totally spoiling the ending. NaNoWriMo participation is not required, and the blurb may be for fiction or nonfiction as you see fit.

My Blurb Cover

After two disciplinary actions against her, Sergeant Kelly Cooper is transferred to Precinct 9, where her new boss, Captain Grant Elliot, assigns her three cases that will either make her career or send her packing. A chain of murders with no leads or suspects has spanned two years, leaving investigators frustrated and without answers for the growing menace of angry protesters who are demanding answers.

All three cases have one thing in common. The victims were case workers for the Department of Children and Families. Sergeant Cooper must piece together a gruesome puzzle and find answers that will lead to the killer. No other investigator will assist her and though he set her up for failure from the start, Captain Elliot finds himself secretly attracted to this rigidly stubborn detective.

Participants and posts:

orion_mk3 (link to this month's post)
Ralph Pines (link to this month's post)
MysteryRiter (link to this month's post)
AuburnAssassin (link to this month's post)
Jarrah Dale (link to this month's post)
SinisterCola (link to this month's post)
dolores haze (link to this month's post)
pyrosama (YOU ARE HERE)
Alynza (link to this month's post)
writingismypassion (link to this month's post)
Cath (link to this month's post)
Inkstrokes (link to this month's post)
egoodlett (link to this month's post)
LadyDae (link to this month's post)
SuzanneSeese (link to this month's post)
anarchicq (link to this month's post)
Stu Ayris (link to this month's post)

Cleanup On Aisle Four!

by Diane Carlisle

Why do grocery stores display feminine hygiene products in the same aisle as medications, healing aids and incontinence products? This leaves a really unfair connotation of dysfunction, don't you think? I mean, why not pair off the incontinence products with toilet paper? Don't they both absorb urine to some extent?

Better yet, place both feminine hygiene and incontinence products with ALL paper products used for the absorption of any liquids. I think that would be fair. Hell, why not welcome Pampers and Huggies into the same aisle! Get them away from the baby food. Would you want to buy your food in the same aisle as toilet paper? When things make sense in general, no one appears to be the lesser human being based on age or gender.

I’d like to see the grocery stores embrace my God given cycle and place my respectable sister products where they belong. There’s no reason for them to remain on the same shelves as Band-Aids and Neosporin, all at the disposal to those in need of products which assist in the healing of wounds. Please, my period is not a wound!

That would leave medications all to themselves though, wouldn't it? Why not pair these medications with wine and beer? That way, when we're out buying cases of Miller Lite or bottles of Merlot, the packets of Alka Seltzer and BC Powders will greet us and remind us to prepare for the screaming hangover from which we'll suffer in the morning.

One more thing. Why keep the flowers so close to the selection of fine wines? They don't go together anymore. The days of magnanimity are over. Alcohol is a daily consumption; flowers are purchased on special occasions. Put them near the bakery where people order cakes inscribed with "Happy Birthday!" and "We'll Miss You!"

Who's with me? We'll straighten this out eventually. We'll just have to take a back seat to the Occupy Wall Street folks who seem to have the spotlight right now.

02 November 2011

Author Interview - Conflict of Interest

I recently had the honor of interviewing published author, Terry Lewis, on his debut novel Conflict of Interest. I read this book two months ago, but just now had the courage to ask for an interview. I'm not sure why I was hesitant to ask; he was happy to answer my questions!

Have a peak and then go buy his book. It's one that will have you talking to the book like you do a movie where you want to yell at the protagonist because he's getting himself in a pickle!

Q: Your protagonist has obvious flaws. Why did you choose the ones you did?

Lewis: What do you mean obvious flaws? I thought he was just about perfect. Okay, seriously, I knew I wanted a narrator who might be the murderer. I wanted the reader to wonder about him, yet hope he or she was wrong. So, he needed to be likeable at the core, but prone to bad decisions so that you want to slap him. Alcohol abuse is both a symptom and a contributing factor for such people. Mix in a willingness to push the envelope a little, a tendency to engage in risky behavior yet avoid its consequences, and voila!

Q: How did your being a judge influence Conflict of Interest and how you wrote it?

Lewis: I don't know that being a judge necessarily influenced it but certainly my legal experience as a lawyer and judge was the key factor in what I chose to write and the sorts of scenes, language, etc in the novel. The law is what I know and I have always liked this genre, so it was a natural route for me.

Q: What was your journey to publication like? Were there any obstacles with your debut novel Conflict of Interest?

Lewis: I was very lucky. When I started thinking seriously about trying to get it published, I read books and articles about it. I sent out query letters to about twenty agents, and to one small publisher in Florida. I ended up getting interest from an agent at the same time the publisher expressed interest. I put the two together and ended up with a contract.

Q: What advice would you give someone who is just starting out, what pitfalls to avoid?

Lewis: The best advice I ever received was, write what you like to read -- a variation on write what you know. The point is if you are writing a novel, it is going to take you a long time. Best to spend that time with something that is interesting to you. Otherwise, you will lack the passion, the discipline, to see it through.

Q: I realize research is essential when writing fiction. If the police checked your browsing history would you be in trouble?

Lewis: I sure hope not, but if so, it probably wouldn't be because of research for my novels. One of the reasons I chose to write legal thrillers/mysteries was because the legal world was one I already knew pretty well. I do some research on things, and the Internet has proved useful in this respect. I also have inquired of medical examiners or other experts about some of the forensics.

Q: What other novels of yours would you recommend to fans of Conflict of Interest?

Lewis: That's easy. I only have one other published novel -- Privileged Information.

Q: Are you currently working on another novel and if so, can you tell a little about it?

Lewis: Yes, I have a third novel that has been finished for some time and in search of a home. It is about a paranoid schizophrenic patient in Florida State Hospital who is accused of killing his psychologist. The story is told primarily by the lawyer, but also by the patient. I am also working on a 4th, in which a lawyer who represents a judge accused of murder learns that her father may in fact be guilty of the crime.


And that concludes my first ever author interview. Thanks, Terry! We will be looking forward to the publication of your third and fourth novels.

31 October 2011

Halloween Fun 2011

by Diane Carlisle

Happy Halloween to all of you out there in the Blog-o-sphere!

I'm excited to share my Halloween blog with you. It's been exciting the last couple days. We went shopping for house decorations and I think we went overboard this year because my daughter is going through a break up with her boyfriend. We wanted to spice it up for her. After the purchase of the house decorations, it was on toward the next activity. Pumpkin carving!

Chelsey carved a ghost, I the Grim Reaper and my son a wicked looking pumpkin with jacked up teeth. I always forget how tedious the carving is, but this doesn't seem to deter me each year. My husband set up the platform in the yard hours before we even finished. Yes, he was just as excited as the rest of the family. Wait for the pictures at the end of this post, you'll see!

Just as the finishing touches were made to the pumpkins (lit candles and all), the end of "Black Swan" was upon us. Wow. Great movie, but not something to watch with your adult children, I promise you. I found out the hard way. We did purchase a DVD collection we thought might be good viewing. I plugged it in next. Sadly, I realized I should never purchase a compilation of 10 horror movies on one DVD that cost less than $5.00. The movies are painfully raunchy, for real.

Anyway, that's been my Halloween experience for this year! I rather enjoyed it, being that I spent time with both my children and got a really creative display this year. Enjoy the photos and the one video!

26 October 2011

5 Dos When Naming Your Characters

by Diane Carlisle

Let's talk about character names a bit. And I'm coming at this from a reader standpoint. Why? Because I'm a reader! I love to read. As a matter of fact I do more reading than writing these days. Here are 5 things to think about when choosing character names.

1. Please give your characters names that are not similar to one another. For example, don't put Kaleb and Kalee in the same story or in the same proximity to one another. The reader will become exhausted trying to follow who is doing or saying what. Reading should be enjoyable, not feel like we're tracking and sorting oranges and tangerines.

2. Be creative with names, but simple is better. Ofishella doesn't quite do it for me. And try to make sure that names belong in the culture in which the story takes place. If they don't, please give information to the reader which tells them why this foreign name is where it is. In other words, if Asish and Mahua live in India and hire a nanny whose name is Linda, please explain why Linda is there and how she came to be. Diversity is wonderful, just give some backstory, and I say this in the voice of Tony Montana, "you gonna has to esplanit to me."

3. Think about a character's traits before settling with a name. If I read the name Dustin or Brittany, I'm expecting a teenager. Don't ask me why, I just am. If I read Ruth or Martha, I'm expecting an old lady.

Martha stood up and stomped off toward the kitchen. Her wobbly legs gave out and she fell and landed on her tush, the padding of her diaper lessening the impact.

See? I just don't see Martha as a baby learning how to walk. In reality, there probably are a few baby Ruths (no pun intended) or baby Marthas out there somewhere. The problem is for the majority of readers these names are going to connote old ladies.

4. Make sure the social position of your character works well with the name you choose. You don’t want to have Billy Joe Baker running a software company and you certainly don’t want Edward Bentley Groesman, III selling hot dogs from a cart at Lake Ella.

5. Stick with one name. Richard shouldn’t be called Dick interchangeably, even if his wife is mad at him. A friend named Kimberly shouldn’t be referred to as Kim for short if you are introducing her as Kimberly. If anything else, you should make that distinction in the beginning and then stick with the shorter name throughout, “Hi, I’m Kimberly Johnson, but please call me Kim.” From that point forward, she is to be referred to as simply Kim. If you think about it, why wouldn’t someone just say their name was Kim if that’s what they want to be called? Why are you, the author, going against her wishes anyway?

In the voice of Obama, “Let me be clear…this is not a bitch session on character names…far from it. This is simply character name statements. I don’t think I can be any more clearer on this matter. Thank you.”

So, what tricks do you use when creating your character names? Do you have rules for naming your characters? Any peeves on character naming conventions?

15 October 2011

A Lesson in the 8 Senses

by Diane Carlisle

This was a fun exercise in my creative writing class. It was so much fun that I wanted to share these on my blog this week. Can you guess the senses I'm using in the following sentences?

The eight senses to look for are: sight, sound, touch, smell, taste, sense of space, sense of time, and sense of the unknown. Some of the sentences might have more than one of the eight senses, so don't be shy, post your answers in the comments section below.

1. She scooped a gob of melted cheese from the edge of her grilled sandwich and sucked it off her finger.

2. The storm hurled bands across the courtyard and the winds howled, blasting leaves through the parking lot and rattling the chain link fencing.

3. Class was almost over, but Jessie pressed on with two questions left.

4. The little girl stood anxiously behind the monkey bars and plucked off each petal one by one, “He loves me. He loves me not.”

5. She pulled her semi-damp hair into a bunch to secure it with a clip, the sun having dried much of it, leaving behind a thick film of pasty salt.

6. The air was thick with cotton candy and funnel cake as they moved through the grounds, “Step right up, win the lady a prize!”

7. He had a picture of a human skull on the front of his shirt and it had a medieval sword stuck through its right eye socket, exiting an open jaw full of decaying teeth.

8. When she woke, his arm was draped across her shoulder and his leg across her hip and she wondered to herself why she never got a good night’s sleep.

Part II - we had to use all eight senses in one paragraph. What a challenge!

I grab a beer and step from the boat onto the dock. The loose planks creak and wobble beneath me, cold water from the river lapping between the boards and splashing my feet. Two ducks square off in the marsh and their wings seem to fan a mixture of dead fish and algae into the breeze. Seagulls cry out as they head home and the sun is setting, spraying its reflection across the glass surface of the still water. In all this, I stand alone with the sky and the earth knowing in less than a day the hurricane will reach this sanctuary and possibly destroy it. I pull the tab on my beer and it bursts open. I take two large swallows and welcome the cold and bitter liquid. I can’t tell if it’s the carbonation from the beer or the sadness in my heart that forces the tears to spring forward.

Can you find all 8 senses in that paragraph?

08 October 2011

Some Things Dark and Dangerous

Choose a word from this list of Lovecraftian words or this list of obscure words (or one from both if you're feeling ambitious). Use your chosen word(s) to craft your post. It doesn't have to be Lovecraftian or even horror, but it should be dark, or unsettling, or scary, or Halloweenish in general. This is part of the October 2011 Blog Chain at Absolute Write.

My two words are “manuscript” and “prosaic

The Manuscript
by Diane Carlisle

And there she was, in her house. He'd found her on Twitter. He loved her profile picture, long auburn hair, eyes hidden behind a pair of large black Oakley’s. Classy girl, he’d thought.

It was Halloween and the kids had all finished up with their greedy pleas for candy; the rambunctious teens had all gone home after they littered the streets with busted pumpkins, slimy seeds sprayed across concrete driveways. Not his concern. His concern sat in a chair at her computer, probably fucking around on Facebook where she posts all her lovely pictures. He was her friend. She accepted didn't she?

His breath sprayed a warm mist onto the interior of his plastic mask, the moisture sent droplets down the walls like sweat running off a cold beer can on a hot, sunny day. He lifted the plastic face to scratch his sideburns and wipe his mouth, then pulled it back down. He loved the clown look. He'd purchased the bright orange Afro wig on the same day.

He laughed and performed a little jig on the side of her lawn. The flood lights at the corner of the house cast a shadow in the grass, making his bouncing Afro appear unusually tall. He felt like a kid again. Just like Pennywise from that Stephen King movie. What was it called? Perfect, he thought.

He lifted his Remington fishing knife. His reflection in the steel blade smiled back and his coffee stained teeth peered through the opening. His eyes looked a bit wild for his liking. Then he poked his tongue through the hole and wiggled it, “How about a little kiss?”

He jumped and clicked his heels together, then shuffled his shoulders back and forth, running in place like a football player at practice. He let the jitters escape him, hyping himself up with the excitement of finally meeting her. Then he moved to the back of the house.

He turned the knob, no resistance. Home alone with the door unlocked? Stupid bitch. He let himself in and fought the urge to call out, “Lucy, I’m home!” He made his way to the aquarium. The bright blue moon lights made this all feel like a dream. He watched the creatures swim about in the tank. Maybe he would just wait for her to come out of her office, her den...

I stopped typing and pushed the keyboard away. Not bad. It only took me an hour to draft it up, but it felt like I’d been sitting in place for half the day. I minimized Notepad and logged into Facebook. I changed my status to “Another short story, done!”

I needed coffee, or maybe some hot chocolate. This would be the manuscript I submit for publication in the Annual Review of Oktoberfest. My mind was definitely not a prosaic one. I left my office and ran into something so hard it knocked the breath out of me. Surely I know my own house.

“Hello, Diane. Remember me?” I saw a steel blade go up in the air, a permanent smile on the clown’s face. Then the knife came down and I felt a pop on my neck. Warm liquid gushed from my throat, the smell of copper. I grabbed his wrists and screamed but my vocal chords only forced out spatters of thick, red blood.

His voice was muffled as if he were talking with a sock in his mouth. I must be dying. I wonder who will find my body laying here in a pool of blood. Will they read my story? Will they submit it on my behalf? Will I be published posthumously? Dammit! I wasn’t ready for this.

The End

Please visit the other participating bloggers for this month's challenge. Also, social icons are provided at the end of this post so that you can share with others and spread the Halloween spirit!

Participants and posts:

orion_mk3 (link to this month's post)
Ralph Pines (link to this month's post)
Cath (link to this month's post)
Diana Rajchel (link to this month's post)
Alynza (link to this month's post)
pyrosama (YOU ARE HERE)
dolores haze (link to this month's post)
leahzero (link to this month's post)
AbielleRose (link to this month's post)
pezie (link to this month's post)
MysteryRiter (link to this month's post)
Inkstrokes (link to this month's post)
AuburnAssassin (link to this month's post)
Alpha Echo (link to this month's post)
robieae (link to this month's post)
JSSchley (link to this month's post)
spacejock2 (link to this month's post)
Madelein.Eirwen (link to this month's post)
AlishaS (link to this month's post)
lufftocraft (link to this month's post)
Proach (link to this month's post)

02 October 2011

Rejection Letter From My Future Selves

by Diane Carlisle

I read a few intriguing examples of letters by authors wanting to publish their works. Strangely enough, the letters were written by their future self/selves giving valuable advice to their past self. The idea was to expose the reasons we are consistently rejected. These turn out to be lessons learned for many writers, good writers even.

We all know the things we've done in our journey as writers. But damn it! We knew we could write, so why did we get rejected? Why was my masterpiece not accepted for publication? It was masterfully crafted and beautifully written.

I loved this idea and so I wanted to share my letter to myself, the Diane back in 2000. I hope you enjoy. How am I supposed to grow if I can't poke a little fun at myself, right?

Dear Role-playing Gamer Chick,

I am sorry to inform you that we are not able to accept your fantasy novel as a sub-genre romance depicting the woes of your fairy character and her struggles to win over the dark elf of Norcastanomapostia.

Though your passion for writing is apparent to us all here at Carlisle-Publishing, we feel that you will do well to live life to its fullest, outside of the gaming world, in order to establish that much needed connection that will make your story more palpable to those lovers of fiction in our current market.

We wish you well,

Your future self, 2011

23 September 2011

The No-Resolution Resolution

by Diane Carlisle

We read a story for my creative writing class and it was one of those stories that end where the hero and villain come together, the final battle, they both reach for the last sword. Both are bruised and bloodied and basically on their last breath. When they reach for the sword at the same time, the story ends. What? It’s called a no-resolution resolution.

I was thinking about the no-resolution resolution and this whole thing about nobody in the end winning. That ending feels so not right to me. There's no period on the end there that tells me I just read a great story. The two just reach for the sword and that's it?

How about the ending of some horror movies where it's obviously over, the protagonist/hero/heroine has overcome these horrible events. They are safe and away from this dangerous lunatic. Then BLAM! A decaying hand springs up from a freshly dug grave...screams everywhere, OH MY GOD!

Yea, I hate that too.

I don't like open conflicts with no resolution, especially in a story. I'd still be taping soap operas if that were the case. Characters in those even come back to life to make sure the conflict stays fully engaged! Come on, really?

I prefer a more classic story that resonates forever, that nothing could ever take away even when it ends, something that has a real impact and a resolution. Once I experience the journey of a character, please don't destroy it (years later) with, "...and THEN." I'm like, "Nooooooo, don't!" Well, with the exception of Grease 2, loved it. But it was a complete new cast and a different story.

I'm getting away from writing now and moving into the movies, so sorry about that.

Another example is The Matrix. It was a hit. Then they came out with Matrix Reloaded and Revolution (back to back literally). In the first movie, Neo learns to use his powers to battle the wonderful Agent Smith. Then in Reloaded, he's stronger and more powerful, so he can essentially battle several of these replicated Agent Smiths. Finally, in Revolution he fights an insane number of Agent Smiths. With power growing exponentially, thus does the number of Agent Smiths. Really? REALLY?? I feel about this no-resolution resolution this same way. What's the point?

It's not natural. It goes against our basic human instinct, survival and resolution. If there is no resolution, then there is eternal conflict and the need for another chapter. This is good for capitalistic minds, but for the sake of art, I don't like it. It doesn't work for me because it's a cop out to the final product. Some write to market, others for the art.

A no-resolution resolution isn't something that I imagine a good read, especially not in a short story, maybe not even in a novel. An epic series, maybe, like Harry Potter. Eventually, each character must come to the end of his or her journey and there must be a reason, that reason is a resolution.

Until Harry Potter gives up his wand, his journey will continue, one right after the other. Dorothy went home; she gave up her ruby slippers. Something needs to be resolved for the protagonist when I read those final two words, The End. That's when a story is truly a story, not when the final two words are, stay tuned....

Are you okay with the no-resolution resolution?

17 September 2011

A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words

by Diane Carlisle

Silence is Golden

This is my post for the September 2011 Blog Chain at Absolute Write. This month's challenge is to respond to a picture.

"We can't keep meeting like this," he said.

She pulled out another cigarette. He struck a match and cupped the tip as it flickered. She leaned in and let the flame dust the tip, drawing the smoke into her mouth and letting it fill her lungs.

She lifted her head up and away from him and blew the fumes out, "What's the matter? The Mrs. keeping you tied up on a leash now?"

"It's not like that." He drank the last of his scotch and placed the glass on the bar as the ice clinked to the bottom.

"One more, Frank?" the barkeep asked.

Frank nodded. He stared into his empty glass.

She crushed out her cigarette, picked up her purse, and stood. "So, I guess this is it?"

He looked at her for the last time. Her beautiful red lips turned down at the corners, eyes ablaze with anger.

She cracked an open hand across his cheek. "I'm sure you'll be happy one day, Frank."

He watched her leave. She had a hell of a figure, that one.

A stranger at the end of the bar lifted his bourbon and gave a slight nod of condolence.

Frank raised his glass back at the stranger and they drank in silence.

Here are the other participants and their responses if they've been posted:

orion_mk3 (link to post)
BigWords (link to post)
robeiae (link to post)
pezie (link to post)
Ralph Pines (link to post)
AbielleRose (link to post)
Darkshore (link to post)
dolores haze (link to post)
Alynza (link to post)
pyrosama (YOU ARE HERE)
lufftocraft (link to post)
Cath (link to post)

This post was also submitted to Art Themed Thursdays Blog Carnival. Please visit and join the fun!

11 September 2011

I Tried to Cut Off My Cousin's Penis

by Diane Carlisle

I consider them milestones in my growth as a person and as a writer. I hope you stick around to read them.

I tried to cut off my cousin's penis.

When my sister and I were four and five, our cousin was only three. I'm not sure why mom and Aunt Sachi decided the children needed to bathe together. They were probably hoping to conserve time and maybe save a little on the hot water. After we were all undressed, the adults left us alone while the water filled in the tub. I imagine they left to find some towels. When my aunt came back in and screamed, we all jumped out of our respective skins.

My aunt grabbed the scissors from my sister's hand and I quickly let go of my cousin's penis. It just wasn't normal hanging there like that. Obviously there was something wrong with him; he was so unlike me and my sister.

By the look on my aunt's face, I could tell she was horrified. Did she not know that the thing was there? For God's sake, she was his mother. You’d think she’d seen it before!

I almost died at the age of five.

My sister and I, along with another friend who was four, took a long hike to a common dam in Iwakuni, Japan. When I think back, I wonder where my parents were because the dam seemed a good mile away from home.

We hopped into one of many Nishiki fishing boats docked along a concrete landing surrounded by sand and small rocks. One of the other kids at the dam placed the anchor into the boat while we played ship captain and crew. We were so enchanted and immersed in our role-play that we didn't realize we were floating until the boat started rocking back and forth. By then, we were in the middle of the dam and none of us knew how to swim.

I remember standing up in the boat and crying while my sister yelled for me to sit down. My carrying on was making the boat rock more and to the point we almost tipped over.

As only five and six year olds might do in a situation like this, we sat as still as we could, because by golly the boat stopped rocking. Then an old Japanese man jogging along the dam saw us, swam out and rescued us. I say old, but he was the same age as I am now, but to a five year old, that's pretty old.

My parents found out about this little adventure of ours two weeks later when our rescuer ran into us in a Japanese super market. My mother was full-blooded Japanese and understood every word the man said. My sister and I just looked at each other and then at our mom and the old man. I remember I was fascinated by how fast they spoke in the Japanese language. We watched this foreign exchange back and forth until my mother had a look on her face that told me I wouldn't see the light of day for a very long time, and I didn't.

I dabbled in mirror writing in first grade.

It frightened my mother. She thought I had some sort of learning disability. I wrote a whole page using words that I created backwards and upside down. My first grade teacher finally called a conference with my parents but I had no idea why they made such a big fuss over it.

When we got home I held my paper up in the mirror and showed my mom that it was perfectly fine if you looked at it in the mirror. She made me stop doing that because the teacher couldn’t be bothered with having to use a mirror to read my writing and so I suffered many years having to suppress my inner muse.

I used to write in numbers.

Weird, I know, but it sort of looked like this on paper:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8...

When I reached 100, I wrote it down in bold with an exclamation point, like so:

...97, 98, 99, 100!

I wrote numbers in this manner when I was bored and every time I reached another milestone like 200 and 300, I would also bold them and top it off with an exclamation point. Can you say OCD? I won't tell you what happened at numbers 1,000 and 10,000. I'll just say they all got their own special decorations.

I gave birth to my first child in a Japanese baby clinic.

My husband was stationed in Iwakuni, Japan in 1988, the year I gave birth to my son. I had to be driven to a local baby clinic when my water broke and put me in labor almost three weeks early. I didn't speak Japanese and the Japanese mid-wives didn't speak English. I also wasn't in a position to afford a translator. To say the least, my experience was an eye-opener, because I'd never had an enema either. I quickly discovered that no words are needed in a humble situation.

After I delivered my son, I realized I was in culture shock. I was starving by the time they brought my first meal to me. I lifted the silver dome cover of the large serving tray. Interesting as it was, the display didn't look very appetizing to me. There before me was a tightly packed bed of rice and lying across the top was a large broiled fish, a whole fish, teeth and all. I sent my husband to the military base to buy me a pizza. I came to understand why different genres are written the way they are written. To each their own!

So, anything from your past you’d like to share? I’m having a rather reflective day today and it’s a shame I have to go back to work in the morning.

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