Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Year

Every four years we get bothered with an extra day in February.  As a rule, I hate February.  It's cold, it's dreary, and between seeing that rodent check out his shadow and having to give up something for lent for some of you, it's just not a fun month.  Oh yeah, there's Valentine's Day, but some people get so upset about not having someone to spend it with (our kids) or expecting us to buy things for V-Day (our kids) that it ruins it for everyone else.  And don't even get me started on the jacked up prices on flowers and chocolate on the days before V-Day.

So what do the wise calendar people do?  They decide to make our lives worse by adding that extra day on in FEBRUARY, the worst month to do this.  I think it has to do with February being the shortest month, but did they ever think of the reason for it being short?  People HATE February (at least I do).

I think leap year's day should be in June or something, so we can enjoy the warmth for one extra day, even if it is just a mental thing.

What do you think?


Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Sunday, February 28, 2016

10 Strong Female Character Names

Yesterday, I looked at tough male names.  Today, tough female names.  Here are my top 10:


Alex
Isabelle
Claire
Kate
Paige
Andrea
Alison
Morgan
Devon
Laura

All tough sounding names.  I could never see someone named Kate, for example, being just a housewife.  She'd be a secret spy or a bounty hunter or something.

What do you think?


Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

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References:
http://nameberry.com/list/102/Short--Strong-Girl-Names-
http://www.essentialbaby.com.au/forums/index.php?/topic/84538-help-with-some-strong-girls-names/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/30/strong-girl-names_n_6576466.html
http://www.meaning-of-names.com/search/index.asp?nm=strong&stype=1&gndr=2

Saturday, February 27, 2016

10 Strong Male Character Names

What's in a name?  A lot, if you're writing a book.

Today, I'm looking at male names.  Tomorrow, it'll be female names.

Have you noticed that some names lend themselves to more strength than others for males?  Here are 10 examples (and readers might disagree, but that's okay).

Strong men:
Hank
Mark
Luke
Jake
Jack
Daniel/Dan
Wyatt
Max
Matthew/Matt
David/Dave

If I were to write a book about a tough guy, those are the ones I'd start with.  All tough and no nonsense names.  Why?  Most of them have some sort of history to go with the name.  For example, David would be King David.  He was tough.  Wyatt--Wyatt Earp.  Or they have a meaning that's tough. 

For example, Jake (short for Jacob) means 'supplanter.'  According to vocabulary.com, a supplanter is:



A supplanter takes over or takes the place of someone else, usually on purpose. If usurping thrones is your thing, then maybe you have a future as a supplanter.
A supplanter takes the place of someone or something that was there first. For example, a new big-name donut shop may become a supplanter if it hurts or ruins the business of the local Mom and Pop donut shop. Supplanter often refers to governments and rulers of countries, and it comes from the verb supplant, which evolved from the Latin supplantare, meaning "to trip up or to overthrow."
Definitions of supplantern one who wrongfully or illegally seizes and holds the place of another

That's one tough dude.  Want to overthrow a government, call Jake.  He's the guy to do it.

In other words, I can't think of any character who would be named someone on that list who would be a pansy.  I can never see a Hank doing someone's nails, for example.  Jason, Yes.  Hank?  No.

When you name your characters, see if you can make the males stronger by choosing a name that's tough.  Usually, shorter names are tougher.  If they have a meaning or a history of a tough male, use it.  OR change it up a bit and use the tough named character as a beta character or a metrosexual.  It'll throw off your readers and make them think twice about stereotypes.

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books


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References:
http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/974261/tough-baby-names-for-boys
http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/953681/baby-boy-names-with-serious-swagger
http://www.essentialbaby.com.au/forums/index.php?/topic/1120723-cool-strong-boys-names-please/
http://warnacat.com/2013/05/08/500-strong-powerful-sturdy-names-for-baby-boys/
https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090808095415AAZLFwL
http://nameberry.com/nametalk/threads/124558-Looking-for-a-strong-masculine-boys-name!-Help!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Twisted Plotster

I've been asking myself lately what would be the strangest thing to write.  I came up with the words, 'twisted plotster' after the group Twisted Sister (and no, I'm not a fan of Twisted Sister).  Probably the only song I know of theirs is 'We're Not Gonna Take It.'

But if you notice, the story takes a normal family (well, the dad's off his rocker and needs to be put in his place), from a simpler era, and introduces something that would never happen.  The kid becomes a rocker, much to the dad's horror.  The kid brings his brothers in to fight, as well.  The dad gets put into his place, and the plot gets sort of twisted.

That type of plot, one that the reader isn't expecting, is a twisted plotster.  It would make the reader sit up and notice, because it's not the normal book in that genre.

So if you're writing a romance, for example, twist it.  Make it a romance...with a horror element.  Or maybe kill off the protagonist.  Something twisted to make it new and interesting.

Twist those plots and see if it helps.  It's new and interesting, for sure.


Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Thursday, February 25, 2016

When Others Get Ahead

Our daughter had a crisis this week.  She's a 3.99 GPA college student (she has one A-, the rest A's), studying web design/media development.  She hates her major (who doesn't?) and never ever wants to go into the field when she gets out.  However, she's said this about every major she's had, so I told her to stick with it, get the degree, and get a job in Photoshop (which she LOVES).

Anyway, her crisis came from this one class she has.  One of the students is working on his third major.  In this class, they have to work with a real-live client and give them an application or a design for their business.  This guy did an incredible app, and my daughter was jealous.  She wasn't on top in the class, and is going to have to strive to get there.

Someone had gotten ahead of her.  This wasn't boding well.

So she and I had a little talk.  First this wasn't the guy's first rodeo.  He'd done a lot more and was older.  Chances are, he'd also had a job or two or three that would've helped with his application.  Our daughter has had one job, and quit to get better grades.  Comparing this guy's life to hers was like apples and oranges.

Next, everyone's journey is different.  Our daughter isn't in programming, so she can't compete with the programmers.  She's in design (her choice, by the way).

Opportunities are also different for everyone.  The best thing to do is to take what you're given and strive to be the best at what you do.  Here's an example.  Our son is bright.  He could've gone to MIT, but we couldn't afford to send him.  Also, he'd have to live near a big city--he's the small town type.  Instead of making him a small fish in a big ocean, we convinced him to be the big fish in a small pond type of thing.  He was upset, but when he heard about a friend of his from high school who DID go to MIT, he realized it really wasn't for him.  The opportunity to go to a college closer to home was a better choice for him and he realized that after the fact.

When others get ahead, don't compare yourself to them.  Instead, focus on what you have to do to make it.  It's better to look through the windshield in life and see where you're heading than to stare at others on the sidewalk, or even to look into the rearview mirror and the past to see what could've been.

Head forward.  You'll thank yourself later.


Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why Are Zombies So Hot?

Ah, zombies.  They seem to be the latest craze in the book world.  It used to be sparkly vampires, but now zombies have taken the forefront.  I have to admit, I enjoy a good zombie tale now and again.  I'm even up-to-date on the CW show, iZombie (cute show if you've never seen it).

So why are people looking to read about the undead who eat brains?  Probably because they're frightful.  It seems that the masses enjoy horror and if you put humor with that horror, it's a hit.  Go figure.

Thus, I'll be working on a book including zombies in the near future.  But it won't be to scare the readers, but more to make them laugh.  Gotta love laughing at zombies.

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

5 Ways to Lose Readers

Some of us are really good at losing readers.  Some of us keep readers as die-hard fans.

What's the difference?

Well here are five ways to lose the readers.  I know, because I'm one of the readers you've lost.


1.  Be political in your narrative (don't even care which type of politics you state).
2.  Be preachy (some may say I've broken this rule, but I write books for people who like to read that type of book).
3.  Offend someone (see yesterday's post).
4.  Make your main character too stupid to live.
5.  Make your plot so convoluted, the reader can't follow it.

Have any more?


Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale books

Monday, February 22, 2016

5 Things Your Character Should Never Say

Imagine this.  You've written the best book ever (of course) and give it to someone to read.  They throw it back at you and say, 'No. No, no, no.  Rewrite the entire thing.  No one will ever read it.'

Why?

Because you broke the 'cardinal' rule of things your character should never say.

Here are a few things that your character, ESPECIALLY the protagonist (the good guy or the main character) should never say.

1.  Let's go kill some puppies.

Pets are NEVER EVER fair game to kill.  EVER.  If you want to hurt them so they get better and give that feel good ending, fine.  But don't kill them.  Times have changed from Old Yeller, Bambi, and the like.  Nope.  Never kill off a pet.

2.  That baby needs to be taught a lesson.

NOPE.  See #1 but insert children/babies in for the explanation.  Same with old people.  The old song, 'Bless the Beasts and the Children' holds true.

3.  I'm looking forward to the day the earth blows up.

HUH?  What character would ever say that, even in a sci-fi book?  Usually, the characters are out to SAVE the earth.  So, just no.

4.  I'm too timid to even try.

In today's day and age, readers are looking for a kick-butt main character.  They may start out a little wimpy, but by the end of the book they should stand up for what's right.

5.  I'm ready to offend some ____  (fill in the blank with the latest anti-hate group).

When I wrote 'The Lord is With Me,' I was afraid the entire population of the Middle East would be out to get me.  I changed many details from the original, worried I'd offend someone who wasn't Christian.  I was talking with another guy on Twitter, who had the same concerns.  He'd taken on ISIS in his book, and worried.  So no.  No offense.  Yes, you'll get publicity, but it won't be the type of publicity you want.

Ready to change it up a bit?  Take on one of these 'never say' things and have your character think it.  See what happens.  I can guarantee you won't like the outcome.

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale books


Sunday, February 21, 2016

When Things Go Wrong

Have you ever heard of the poem, 'Don't Quit'?  I have it posted beside my computer.  It goes like this (see http://boardofwisdom.com/togo/Quotes/ShowQuote?msgid=4908#.VsDtAfkrLDc for the poem):


Don't Quit
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow,
Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

- Actual author unknown...
but MIGHT be Edgar A. Guest


Have you ever felt like this, that you just can't continue working hard for something, so you want to quit?  I get that with EVERY BOOK I WRITE.  No kidding.  I wonder what makes me finish.  When I'm done, I'm proud of what I've accomplished, knowing that in the middle of the thing, I was actually going through the help wanted ads, figuring flipping burgers was more my calling than writing this book.

The next time you want to quit, just realize: 'And many a failure turns about; when he might have won had he stuck it out;.'  Just stick it out.  Success may be just around the corner.

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Saturday, February 20, 2016

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Voice?

I know an author who's a ghostwriter.  She just started this gig and honestly, I don't think I could do it.  Her one client had her write his book according to an outline.  She did it (I'd have failed right there...having gone off outlines in wreck-worthy moments) and turned it in.  But he refused to pay and threatened to SUE her if she didn't sound like his voice.  What the heck?  I'd give him the money back (don't know if she even got an advance), void the contract (she didn't have one--she's learning the hard way) and move on.

How can you write like someone else's voice?  Impossible, you say.  Or is it?

In this case, the guy wanted her to use big words like he did (probably to sound more impressive than he really is).  She was at a loss.  It wasn't her style.  So she came to me, the fix-it queen for everyone (or so it seems).

I told her to do what a friend of mine did for me, once, to make my manuscript shine.  She went through the thing BACKWARD and looked at each sentence.  No kidding.  It takes you out of the story and makes you think about the words instead of the plot.  Then, I had my ghostwriting friend sit with a thesaurus and look up words that might be repeated or replaced with bigger words for this freaky client.  Um...I hate to tell him, but big words in a story make a reader want to throw the book OUT if they have to look up the words.

Anyway, my friend said 'great ideas,' did the rewrite, and turned it in.  I think the freaky client was happy, because he THOUGHT it sounded like he wrote (and his outline was FULL of errors, by the way).  However, I'd NEVER read his book.  He's trying to impress when his story isn't impressive at all.

Plot counts, people...not big impressive words.

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Friday, February 19, 2016

Beware the Mirrors

Wow.  That title sounds like something out of a horror movie.  'Beware the mirrors' because you never know what you'll see there.  (See my post from Paranormal Signpost Up Ahead).

But for this post, I'm talking about mirroring in a book.  What's that, you ask?  I'm glad you posed the question. LOL!

Mirroring in acting means doing exactly what the other character is doing.  For example, he put his hands on his hips...and she does the same.  He smiles and winks, and she does the same.  Be careful of doing that in a book.  It's mirroring and boring reading.

I'm not sure what this is called, but I consider it to be either like mirroring or bad foreshadowing, bordering on repetition.  Hint:  it's not great writing.  I consider this to be like mirroring, because like what an actor does, the character does it in his head, and then says the same thing out loud.

Here's an example:

He thought she looked great.  "You look great," he told her.

He thought it and said it.  Foreshadowing?  Not so much.  Mirroring?  Sort of, but bad mirroring.  In other words, bad writing.  I knew an author who did this all the time.  Drove me nuts!

So, beware the mirrors and the bad writing.  It'll come back to haunt you (see what I did there???  I brought back the paranormal mirror concept.  LOL!).

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Thursday, February 18, 2016

What Do You Do When Your Character Falls Flat?

This has happened to me more than once.  All of a sudden, the main character loses all touch with reality, becomes boring, and wants to be a hermit, refusing to talk to any other characters.  If you're not a writer, you'll think I'm crazy or something.  But writers understand this.  You're writing along and WHAM...your character falls flat.

What do you do?

If that character is falling flat or seems to be that way, that means another character might be trying to steal the limelight (it happens a lot).  Figure out which character that is, and have your flat character take them on.  Fight it out.  First, it wakes up your flat character and makes them fight for what they want (their motivation in the book), and second, it puts the loud character back in its place--the role of minor character or even antagonist in the book.  It makes for conflict--what books are best at.

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ever Heard of Mondegreens?

Ever sung along to a song and you THINK you know the words?  But someone in the car (my kids are really good at this) corrects you?  Then you fight and have to look it up and lo and behold, you're wrong?  That's called 'Mondegreens.'  It's a fancy scientific word for 'you don't know the words to that song, Jack.'

Here's a whole article on it:

Why You Mishear Song Lyrics


Turns out, our brains are trying to make sense out of words that aren't very clear.

I did this once and STILL sing the wrong words to this song: (This is the official video, so I'm including it here:)




The words are supposed to be:

"Free To Be Me"

At twenty years of age
I'm still looking for a dream
A war's already waged
For my destiny
But you've already won the battle
And you've got great plans for me
Though I can't always see

'Cause I got a couple dents in my fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to fit the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
On my own I'm so clumsy
But on your shoulders I can see
I'm free to be me

When I was just a girl
I thought I had it figured out
My life would turn out right
And I'd make it here somehow
But things don't always come that easy
And sometimes I would doubt

'Cause I got a couple dents in my fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to fit the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
On my own I'm so clumsy
But on your shoulders I can see
I'm free to be me

And you're free to be you

Sometimes I believe
That I can do anything
Yet other times I think
I've got nothing good to bring
But you look at my heart and you tell me
That I've got all you seek
And it's easy to believe
Even though

'Cause I got a couple dents in my fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to fit the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
On my own I'm so clumsy
But on your shoulders I can see
I'm free to be me

What did I sing, very loudly, in my car while taking my kids to school one day?

This part:
Got a couple rips in my jeans

Became:

GOT A COUPLE BRICKS IN MY JEANS.

No kidding.  The kids just howled.

Have you ever done that, certain you knew the words, but as it turned out, you had no clue?  I do that all the time.  Now, at least, I know what it's called, even though I'm sure I'll never remember it:  Mondegreens.  Or, if you're like me, you'll call it, 'Monday Greens.'  LOL!

 Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Indie #55! Three Cross Faith #5 is out!

Many people have been asking me for the fifth of the Three Cross Faith series of books, by Eryn Grace.  It's a Christian romance about the members of the Christian praise band called Three Cross Faith.  I love working on this series, because the characters are just fun.

Anyway, I JUST published #5 of the series.  This one's about band member, Andy Ross.  He meets Rosie McCord, who's trying to save the nation from terrorists and has just a short amount of time to get to her uncle in New Mexico for help.

Enjoy!



Blurb:
Rosie McCord has one goal--to save the United States from the terrorists chasing her across the country. She stops at a library in Texas, hoping for a break.  When the bad men find her, it's up to someone else in that library--Andy Ross, of Three Cross Faith--to save Rosie in more than one way.



Chapter 1:

The library was supposed to be her sanctuary, the place she could escape from the men who'd chased her halfway across the country.

Even though she was certain she'd hidden her car and no one had seen her enter this building, Rosie McCord had a sinking feeling someone watched her. However, she really needed to use the restroom and take a nap some place safe.

With a quick glance around the nearly empty library, she didn't see anyone keeping an eye on her. She could steal a moment away without worry.

She wrenched the restroom door open and went inside. Once she'd finished and had washed her hands and face, she knew she had to get back on the road. Even though she considered staying here for the night, it might not be wise with the feeling of dread filling her thoughts. She needed to get to Los Alamos in New Mexico, to give her uncle the information she'd lifted from Virginia. She didn't trust anyone else to get it to him, not even by sending it through the mail or over email.

Rosie pushed open the door an inch and peeked into the library's main room, just to make sure no one had followed her. In the event she was found, she also had to make sure innocent people weren't nearby. The men hunting for her were ruthless, with no compassion for human life.

Six people were in the library. One blond-haired man sat at a table with a bunch of books around him. He was deep into research and Rosie considered him to be her best ally. The woman in the corner reading to her daughter would be in the way. Rosie hoped she'd leave with her young child before they became collateral damage. The couple making out in the stacks of bookshelves to her right would probably be leaving. The older, gray-haired librarian stationed near the front door needed to get away from her post, so her life would be spared. How Rosie would do that was beyond her. She'd have to hide so the bad guys wouldn't see her from the front windows.

Rosie waited for a bit until the couple left. A few minutes later, the woman finished reading the book to the young girl. They yanked on their coats and walked out of the building.

So the only innocent people left were the blond man and the librarian. Since it was nearly closing time, Rosie was half-tempted just to stay in the bathroom and wait for the librarian to lock up. It might be okay. She really needed some sleep and a place to hide out for the night so she wouldn't have a paper trail from her credit card. The thought of sleep intrigued her, until the librarian left her post with her purse. She was probably headed for the bathroom, where Rosie was hiding. She had to get out of there, so the librarian wouldn't make Rosie leave when the older lady locked up.

The librarian walked around the bookshelves, turning off extra lights. "It's almost closing time," she said to the blond man. "Would you like to check out those books?"

"No. I'll just come back. I'm onto something, but when I go home, everyone interrupts me. So I'll come back tomorrow."

Rosie couldn't see his face, but his voice was very warm. However, his accent was almost non-existent. She guessed he wasn't a Texan, just from all the dealings she'd had with people from this state.

The librarian turned her back on Rosie to see what the man was reading. "Travel books and living off the land?"

"Yes, ma'am." He lifted one of the books. "I'm just looking for a place to travel to for the holidays. Some place remote."

Rosie didn't care. She had to escape. Since she was about ten feet behind the librarian's back, this was her perfect opportunity.

She slipped out of the bathroom, inched toward the dark part of the bookshelves, and hid.

The librarian finished the conversation with a chuckle and headed for the bathroom, as Rosie had predicted.

Just when the bathroom door closed, Rosie moved to the darkest part of the shelves, where she couldn't see anyone. At least she could hide out.

"Come here often?"

Rosie spun around at the sound. Her hand flew to her upper chest in fear. The silhouette before her and the man's voice indicated it was the blond-haired guy.

She sighed a breath of relief. "It's you. You scared me."

He put a book back on the shelf. "Why are you back here? It's so dark, you can barely see." He searched through the books on the shelves and returned another one in his hand. He still held two more thin books. "It's not easy seeing where these books go, either."

She had to answer him, thinking fast on her feet. "Well, I was looking for—"

But she didn't get out the rest of her sentence before two of the men chasing her burst through the front door, carrying big guns. She pulled the blond guy to the floor and moved downward. She hoped he understood the problem but she couldn't say anything. In a darting motion, she lifted her eyes and peeked through the tiny crack above the books on the shelf, to see how close the bad guys were. She just wished she'd get out of this alive, so she could deliver the information to her uncle in time.


Webpage (links will be updated on this page): http://eryngrace.com/yellowrose.html

Buy Links ($2.99):
   Smashwords
   Amazon

Have a great week!
Markee/Eryn/SweetTale Books

Why I Love Life (And You Should, Too!)

Have you ever known someone who is so full of life, with so much energy that they just have people flocking around them all the time?  They're extroverts and love to be around people.  They get energy from others, and have a smile on their faces all the time.  They're also living from adventure to adventure, never letting dust settle under their feet.

I know of a few of these types of people.  I had one friend in Kansas like this.  She was a hoot to be around, but I could only hang around her for a short period of time.  I got tired of her energy, if that's even possible.  But she was a lot of fun to go shopping with, hang out with our kids, and so on.  She's a friend of mine on Facebook now that we don't live in Kansas anymore.  She travels with her husband a lot, going from trip to trip to trip.  Their only daughter is now married, so they're enjoying life.

I have another friend from high school like this, as well.  My sister found her on Facebook, and showed me her picture.  Her kids are all overachievers, like her, doing things like joining the Peace Corps, going on extreme adventures, and even one of her sisters was on Jeopardy.

I look at them and then look at my life.  I'm an introvert.  I prefer staying home.  Being with people saps my energy and stresses me out.  I like to travel, but not all the time--I need my home base.  People would never call me energetic--couch potato is a better description.

So why can't I be like these people?  They're all successful in whatever they do, have tons of friends, and just love life.  I'm thinking the rest of us just plow through our days, dreading when the 'other shoe' drops.

But do I love life?  Yes, I do.  My pace is a lot slower than these two women I described.  I savor life, enjoying what I have instead of always striving to find the next best thing.  I don't covet much of what others have (except for wanting to have an alpaca farm some day--LOL!), and I'm not out to impress people.  I think of myself more like a Bob Ross type with attitude.  If you've ever seen his videos or watched him paint, you'll know what I mean.  I make my days happy in my own ways.  I turn off the TV, turn on some music, and smile.  I love life, because it's mine and no one can make it miserable unless I allow it to happen.

So, love life.  Regardless if you're an action-adventure junkie or an extreme extrovert with a ton of friends and laughter all day long.  Make your own happiness--I did and I love it.

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Monday, February 15, 2016

I'm Tired of this Adulting Stuff

Have you ever said that to yourself, that you want to be a kid again?  Imagine if that were true--no responsibilities, someone else cooks and cleans for you, and you get to color and play all day long (and go to school if it's not summertime).  I want that.

I also want my life to be surrounded in fun things.  For example, I'd LOVE to have a tree house.  We watch Treehouse Masters on Animal Planet.  What a cool thing to have in your yard--a tree house.  I'd go there to escape, to enjoy nature, and to let my mind soar.  I'd love to have a tree house that was like a starship, or a hobbit hole, or even a fairy tale cottage.

I was looking at house plans for fun the other week and had to email a friend of mine.  I found the coolest house plan.  Check this one out:  Santo L'Agnello 2256.  It's the standard 2-bedroom, 2.5 bath, 2 car garage home.  BUT when you look at the plans on that page, check out the niche to the left of the family room.  Wouldn't that be really cool if that was a secret passageway to a secret room, instead of the closet and walk-in closet?  I want a secret room that might go out to my tree house.

So, of course I had to look up secret rooms (gotta love the Internet).  Check this out: Hidden Rooms on Pinterest.  They have doorways that look like bookshelves, or just look like part of the wall.  There are even hidden rooms under the stairs or even under the center island.  Or, take a look at this place.  It has secret passageways in the walls.  The building is gorgeous!

I think in my next mystery that I write, there has to be some sort of hidden room.  Or there could be a secret slide, like the one I wrote into Cameo Appearance.  It was in the castle so the occupants could get out fast, in the event of a fire.

What else would you put into your life to become like a kid again?

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day?

My son hates Valentine's Day.  It's the worst day of the year for him.  Why?  He has no one special to spend it with.  I told him he could come to our house and hang out, eat chocolate, and watch movies, but he's determined to be miserable on Valentine's Day.

But as everyone knows, sometimes it's better to be alone than in a bad relationship for Valentine's Day.  So if you are alone, and you're depressed, let me give you a bit of advice.  Date yourself.  Treat yourself like you'd like someone to treat you.  Buy yourself flowers.  Go out to eat or make yourself a wonderful meal.  Eat dessert.  Watch the funniest or sappiest movie you can find and let yourself laugh or cry.  Read a book and realize your life's not that bad, after all the things the character in the book has to deal with.  Date yourself and enjoy the time alone.  When you find out you can be your own best friend is usually the time someone walks into your life and interrupts that self-love awareness, which can be annoying.  LOL!

So Happy Valentine's Day, even if you are alone.  There's no time like the present to be your own best friend.


May you have a heartfelt and wonderful Valentine's Day!

♥ SweetTale Books ♥

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Paranormal Signpost Up Ahead

Today would've been my oldest sister's 61st birthday.  She died in April of 2004, due to cancer, right after she'd just turned 49.  Since I think of her every February, my latest mystery release, 'Gangs, In-Laws, and Outlaws' by Andie Alexander was dedicated to her.  I should also dedicate one to my dad, as well.  He died on February 18 of 2007.  He would've loved my books.

What if ghosts could read?  What if she was reading that book right now and just laughing at the antics of what I wrote?  In that book, a ghost named Jacques appears a lot, giving Natalie clues for the case she's working on.  Her dead parents help, as well.

I think it'd be cool to be able to talk to someone in the afterlife.  But I wouldn't want it to be creepy or scary.  My younger sister had a conversation with my oldest sister after my oldest sister died.  My younger sister could even see the dead sister in the mirror.  My oldest sister said, 'not yet.'  Who knows what that means, but she then disappeared.

If we could learn how to interact with the dead, and use their abilities somehow, that'd be really cool.  In my series of Kes books (Extreme Travel), Kes has a ghost named Agatha who cleans for her.  Wow.  Think how cheap that would be.  Your place would be clean all the time.  Granted, Agatha loves to clean and run the vacuum in the middle of the night, which would be annoying.  But still.  How cool would that be?

So the next time you see me mentioning my sister, realize I'm not sad.  She's watching out for all of us, even if it's just to watch us from a mirror.  I even want to think she's hanging out with my dad, visiting all the cool places in the world.  I put them 'on vacation.'  (If you read 'Death's Sidekick,' you'll see that Sadie's sister does that, too.)

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Friday, February 12, 2016

Hibernation?

Something crossed my mind the other day.  What if you could hibernate, like the animals do?  You'd be put in a case (like a tanning bed) and would go to sleep for a period of time, like maybe for all winter long.  You'd lose weight, but you'd also lose time--the time you're asleep.  Would you do it?

I thought about that.  I don't know if I would.  I'd love to sleep that long and lose weight.  But losing time?  I'd miss out on so much.  However, when I think about the day-to-day things that happen, would it really be missing out?

Then I thought, what if you could just fast-forward your life by a month or so.  Wouldn't that be weird?  You're watching your show, and whammo...you wake up and the plot's changed so much.  Your life would change like that, too.  It'd be interesting, for sure.

So would you do it if you could?  Would you hibernate and/or fast forward your life (like what hibernation must feel like)?

It's food for thought, for sure!

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Adventures of a Dead Battery

Ever have your car out of commission?  That was me last week...Thursday, to be exact, one week ago.  Actually, it started on Wednesday.  I was in the car, all ready to get MORE ice melt (100 pounds of it apparently wasn't enough).  I turned the key and heard 'click, click, click.'  Drat.  Called husband.  He threw up his hands, over the phone.  No help. When he came home from work, we tried to jump start the thing, with the owners manual and two different websites to help learn how to jump start a car.  It's not that we've never done this before, but this is a 'new-to-us' car (my car--a used 2011 Subaru Forester) and I didn't even know how to pop the hood.  Great car owner there.

Jump start didn't work.  Called tow company.  He wanted the car in neutral to put it on the flatbed (since it's an AWD, apparently it can't be just towed).  Couldn't put it in neutral with a dead battery.  So he jump started it...and it worked.  Husband drove the car around the block, no problem.  So the tow guy left.

Next morning, car is deader than a doornail.  Marley's ghost was more alive.  Thus, the tow company was called again, since we tried to jump start it and yet again, it didn't work (we must be doing something wrong, but two websites and an owner's manual CAN'T be wrong).  Tow company has two tow trucks...and both were called to a 5-car pile up in Green Bay on a major road.  After quite a bit of waiting, the lump of a paperweight in my garage finally was towed to the dealership, the battery was replaced, and life was back to normal.  YAY!

Anyway, the point is this.  When your car's out of commission and you're used to having it around, you feel like your left arm has been cut off.  I'm right-handed, and you'd think I wouldn't need that left arm, but I do.  I couldn't do anything, couldn't even concentrate.  Need milk?  I'll just run out and...oh, wait.  No car.  Strike that.  Use water or grape juice instead.  Ever have grape juice on cereal?

It reminds me of writing, believe it or not.  When there's a plot hole that you know you have to fix but can't because it'll unravel your entire book, it's that elephant in the room that won't go away.  Like the paperweight in the garage.  You just wait it out and see what happens.

I hope your week is going well!  I also hope you don't have anything hanging over your head like a dead car or a dead plot.  :)

Markee/SweetTale Books

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

It's Love Time...

Have you ever noticed that some months have a theme?  For example, January has the 'diet' (New Years' Resolution) and 'human rights' theme (Martin Luther King Day).

For February, it's donuts, chocolate, and love.  Yeah, there are other days in there (like president's day), but let's face it.  February is all about the fattening stuff and being in love, more so than other months.

I wonder why that is?  Could it be because February is so depressing, since it's close to the end of winter?

Don't know, but if you need something to do to remind yourself of being in love, or want to fall in love all over again with some characters in a book, try one of these.  They're not sappy but just fun to read:




Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Fine Line Between Sappy and Touching

I'm working on a Christian romance right now (actually, it's done and I'm editing it) that's the fifth book in the series (Three Cross Faith, for you fans).  I worked hard on it, and realized, when I was done, that it wasn't touching enough.  It didn't make me cry when I read it.  I even told my daughter and future son-in-law (I'm pretty sure they're going to get married some day) about it and they laughed.

But for romances, they have to be touching or the author's not doing their duty.  However, do they have to be sappy while being touching?  No.  But there's a fine line there, between sappy and touching.  If they're sappy, instead of making the reader truly feel for the character, they laugh at how stupid the scene is.

What is sappy, you ask?  It's a scene that's so emotional, and so sweet, you want to puke.  It would never happen in real life.  But everyone has a different idea of what's sappy and what's just touching.  Therefore, there's a fine line of how to write it in a book.

For the fifth book in this series, I took the less sappy path, the more touching direction, but didn't dwell in the thought for long.  I figured I could have some people touched, yet not turn off others with the sappiness of the moment.

What about you?  Do you like reading sappy books that make you cry because they're filled with emotion that could never happen in real life?  Or do you like it to be real, yet just a bit emotionally touching?


Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Monday, February 8, 2016

Is Your Character TSTL?

What's TSTL, you ask?  In the writing world, it means 'too stupid to live.'  They're the stupid characters, who say and do the stupidest things.  Usually, they're the heroine. The hero is the one who keeps them alive, and she has to depend on him because she just does stupid things.

Here's an article about it:  http://www.heroesandheartbreakers.com/blogs/2011/05/too-stupid-to-live-the-tstl-heroine.

This heroine reminds me of the commercial for Geico and 'It's What You Do.'  If you haven't seen it, check it out here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ-hlcux66s  Those characters are TSTL.

Have you ever read one of these TSTL characters?  What did you do?  Did you finish the book or throw it away?  Maybe it's propping up a table leg somewhere?

But consider this...sometimes, those TSTL characters are based on real people.  Wow.  That thought amazes me, but I know it's true.  I've met some of those TSTL people.  They're hilarious but have no idea they have 'issues.'

So the next time you read about a character who's too stupid to live, feel sorry for them.  They're probably based on a real-life person, or even (gulp) the author themselves.

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Ready to Plant a Plot?

This time of year, I get antsy for something new.  Something to grow.  Something green.

This year, I'm thinking basil and roses.  That's what I need.  The basil will last year round inside, and I can use it on this killer margarita pizza I make.  The roses...just for me.  They smell great, but they're high maintenance.  When they're budding or flowering, they're gorgeous.  Otherwise, not so much.

It reminds me of new plots for books.  They're exciting when you're planting them.  But when it comes to maintenance (the sagging middle and/or the editing), it's work.  However, in the long run, the end result is gorgeous, just like with roses.

So plant a plot today.  You'll thank yourself for nurturing it to full bloom.

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Must Be Close to Fat Tuesday!

Every February, this area (Green Bay, WI) celebrates Fat Tuesday (also called Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday).  It's the day before the beginning of Lent, when anything goes, because you're giving it up the next day...or so the locals think.

In this area, since there's a high concentration of certain European ethnic groups.  After Germans, Poles are the highest ethnic group in Wisconsin. 

So, it makes sense that on Fat Tuesday, local bakeries and grocery stores serve something called Paczki (pronounced POONCH-key), which is the plural form of paczek. They're basically filled donuts and DELICIOUS!!!  They seem to have them all over the Midwest, especially where there's a high concentration of people of Polish descent.

I noticed they already had some in the local Piggly Wiggly.  So it must be the weekend before Fat Tuesday.

Back when I was a kid, I lived in Lancaster, PA.  That's prime PA Dutch territory (the Amish).  They served something similar called Fastnachts in that area.  There is a difference, though, according to this article.  Traditionally, fastnachts use a potato pastry whereas paczki use yeast.  Also, some recipes for paczki call for rum or burgundy.  You'd never see the Amish using that in their recipes.

There are more types of donuts around the world, served on Fat Tuesday.  It seems that Fat Tuesday should be renamed 'donut day' and the local donut shops could clean up.  LOL!

Have a great weekend and eat a donut for me!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Friday, February 5, 2016

It's Friday! Put On Your Dancing Shoes

I wish I could put on my dancing shoes!  If I tried that, I'd put a hip out--and that's just from putting on the shoes.  Have you seen those things?

It's Friday!  Have anything fun planned for this weekend?  Us, either.  But I love weekends like that.  I get to do whatever I want and no one bugs me.  If I go grocery shopping today, I even get the whole weekend off, with only having to cook.  AND, if I talk my husband into going out to eat, I don't even have to cook.

When I have weekends with nothing planned, then I run into a dilemma.  What do I do all weekend?  Sometimes, that's more stressful than having something planned that I hate to do...like anything social.  When I have something planned, I can spend the hours worrying about what to say or even dreading having to go (have I mentioned that I'm an introvert?).

So, this weekend, I'm going to plan my free time.  Yes, you heard it.  All weekend will be planned so I have no downtime.  Ridiculous.  But this is the world we live in.  Our attention is divided most of the time, and we have things thrown at us all the time.

Some of my 'downtime' will be to lie down and think.  Some call it 'napping.'  I call it 'plotting.'

Some of my downtime will be to laugh and move.  I love doing that the most.  Those are my 'dancing shoes' since I can't dance and never could do it well.

What will you do this weekend?  Anything fun planned?  Anything stressful going on that you're dreading?

Have a wonderful weekend!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Thursday, February 4, 2016

It's a weird world...

Sometimes, there are things that happen that just aren't explainable.  If I wrote about something like this, no one would ever believe it.

Here's one of those things.  You may have heard about it online.

Woman says she is a cat trapped in the wrong body - she hisses at dogs, hates water and claims she can even see better at night

What?  If I wrote a story about a woman like this, I'd be laughed at by trolls.  What would possess someone to behave like this?  Is it just for her fifteen minutes of fame, or would she be clinically unbalanced?

What's even weirder is that she has a friend who also thinks he's a cat. They meow at each other.  Very strange.

This woman's psychologist says she'll grow out of it, but she doesn't think so.

I've seen strange things in my life, but this might take the cake.  What do you think?  Is she really a cat, or doing it for publicity?

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Get Some Great Think Time Today!

My middle daughter is hilarious.  I've always mentioned her as the 'redhead with attitude' on this blog (well at least I THOUGHT I did).  She doesn't seem to have a mouth filter (like me), and tells you exactly what she thinks.  Wonder where she gets that from.  LOL!

A few years ago, the 'redhead with attitude' sat with all of us at the dinner table while my husband talked, in length, about his job.  Now usually, people can engage such folk who like to discuss their job and it's interesting.  Not with my husband.  He uses acronyms he never defines, talks about people we don't know and don't care to know, and tells computery stuff between the acronyms and unknown people.  Talk about boring.  Worse yet, he doesn't understand how to tell a story, He spends a lot of time on extraneous facts and doesn't stick to the plot.  The setup for the story is way too long.  However, I have to admit I learned a lot about how to write a book from listening to him.  If it's not on the 'golden path' of the plot, leave it out.

Anyway, now that I strayed from the plot, myself, by giving you a bit of an explanation, let me get back to the dinner table. We're listening to three-letter acronyms of project names with characters we don't know.  Boring. When my husband was done with his long story that didn't even have a punchline, I turned to my son and said, 'now tell me what he just said in one sentence so I know what he's talking about.'  Of course, all the kids knew the answer, except for me.  They'd all known how to cut through the extra junk and get to the plot.  I seemed to have missed that part.

I turned to my daughter and said, 'I didn't get that.'  She said, 'Mom, when people talk like that, I get GTT.'

'GTT?  Huh?'

'Yeah.  Great Think Time.  You tune them out and go into your own head.  It's great.'

Of course, now, that's become a running joke.  When someone's droning on and on about something I don't care about, I turn to my kids and say, 'Excuse me.  I didn't get any of that.  I was having GTT.'

Get some GTT today!  Enjoy it.  I always do!

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Indie Number 54! Read All About It!

Here's number 54!  This one is number 3 in the Natalie Mystery Series of books.  I hope you like it!


Blurb:

Between the teenage gangs terrorizing the neighborhoods, having to deal with outlaws at her job, and her horrible in-laws, Natalie Brown seems to have a to-do list she'd rather not handle.  When attacks begin to happen at home, it's time to take everything on and deal with it, New York style.



Chapter 1:

Something made me stare at the computer monitor propped on the hood of my car as I talked to my husband on the phone.

Uh-oh. "Peter. Get someone over here right away. Someone's at the top of the water tower right beside the playground with a shotgun." I watched the guy lift the gun and point. "He's aiming at the kids on the playground! Quick! Get help!"

I waved my hands toward the gym teacher at the North Elementary School in De Pere, where I'd been working on adding cameras for extra security. "Get off the playground! Now! Someone has a—"

The shot rang out and the gym teacher fell. The stunned kids stopped dead in their tracks.

"Run!" I waved my arms again and pointed at the water tower. "He's got a gun!"

The children screamed and ran in all directions, back toward the school. They tried the doors but they were all locked.

"Go to the front of the school!" The kids took off, out of harm's way. The guy seemed to be reloading, so at least we had a little time to be safe.

Once I was sure the kids were gone, I grabbed the laptop off the hood and crawled beside my car, hiding myself.

"Natalie, are you okay?" I heard over the phone. "Natalie! Answer me!"

I put the phone back up to my ear. "I'm fine. I'm hiding beside my car. Now do you see why I need to carry a gun with me?"

"I'm on my way." The line went dead. Great. I'd been abandoned by my wonderful husband.


Webpage (links will be updated on this page): http://andiealexander.com/natalie3.html

Buy Links ($2.99):
Smashwords
Amazon

Have a great week!
Markee/Andie/SweetTale Books

Make Him Responsible!

Every year, that rodent called Punxsutawney Phil (I nickname him PP because who can even SAY Punxsutawney and I even grew up in PA) walks out of his lair (well, is dragged out) to see if his shadow will make an appearance.  And every year, when he sees his shadow, I yell at the TV.  The over-sized rat lies!  He knows not what he's doing.  Besides, it looks like all his handlers are drunk.  Who knows if they even are outside or if they're using a fake light just to tick me off.

I think PP should be responsible for his prediction.  Just like weathermen, I believe anyone who predicts something should be held responsible.  If PP calls for more winter and spring comes early, he should have to wear thick coats just to make him realize his job is important.

As for weathermen, I believe in the old three strikes and you're out deal.  If a weatherman misses in their prediction three times in the same month, then they should be slapped and fired.  Period.  I'm tired of thinking it's going to be sunny and whammo---two feet of snow slam us into an ice age.

What say you?  Do you agree?

Have a nice and wonderfully WARM week, regardless of weathermen and rats.
Markee/SweetTale Books

Monday, February 1, 2016

It's February--What Bathing Suit Will YOU Wear This Year?

Have you ever noticed how the stores are WAY ahead of the season?  They start advertising for Halloween in August.  Christmas comes in September, or so it seems, in these stores.  It's no different for summer clothes.

They start putting out bathing suits and shorts in February.  Ridiculous!  But I'm sure it's summer in SOME part of the world, and you have to bow to consumer demand, I guess.  However, in my neck of the woods (Green Bay, WI area), it's like below zero and snowing in February.

Why can't they get closer to the seasons for their advertising?  Let's say my coat rips on Feb. 1.  Tough.  I can't get a new coat because they're not on the racks.  You'll just have to improvise with this darling new bikini.  HUH?  Just crazy!

So what bathing suit will you wear this year?  It's February.  Time to start thinking about that stuff.

Just shaking my head.  Nothing like preparing for the future heat wave when you're snowed in.

Have a great week and a wonderful and WARM February!  I'm really looking forward to spring, myself.

Markee/SweetTale Books