Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Top Ten Things I Know About Editing

I did this post on editing for The Blood Red Pencil last month, but I know that, unbelievable as it may seem, not all of you made it over to every single other blog I guested on last month.

So since I am not only touring for THE UNSEEN, but MOVING this week, talk about horror, I am reposting that blog here for those of you who might find it useful.

Hope everyone is well, and we'll be back to our regularly scheduled program soon. If I survive all this.

- Alex



------------------ Top Ten Things I Know About Editing --------------------



Before I started writing novels, I worked as a theater director, a Hollywood story analyst, and a screenwriter. All of those jobs have given me some pretty useful perspectives on editing. So for today’s guest blog I’ve put the best things I know into one of those ever-popular Top Ten lists:

1. Cut, cut, cut.

When you first start writing, you are reluctant to cut anything. Believe me, I remember. But the truth is, beginning writers very, very, VERY often duplicate scenes, and characters, too. And dialogue, oh man, do inexperienced writers duplicate dialogue! The same things happen over and over again, are said over and over again. It will be less painful for you to cut if you learn to look for and start to recognize when you’re duplicating scenes, actions, characters and dialogue. Those are the obvious places to cut and combine.

Some very wise writer (unfortunately I have no idea who) said, “If it occurs to you to cut, do so.” This seems harsh and scary, I know. Often I’ll flag something in a manuscript as “Could cut”, and leave it in my draft for several passes until I finally bite the bullet and get rid of it. So, you know, that’s fine. Allow yourself to CONSIDER cutting something, first. No commitment! Then if you do, fine. But once you’ve considered cutting, you almost always will.

2. Read your book aloud. All of it. Cover to cover.


The best thing I know to do to edit a book — or script — is read it aloud. The whole thing. I know, this takes several days, and you will lose your voice. Get some good cough drops. But there is no better way to find errors — spelling, grammar, continuity, and rhythmic errors. Try it, you’ll be amazed.

3. Find a great critique group.

This is easier said than done, but you NEED a group, or a series of readers, who will commit themselves to making your work the best it can be, just as you commit the same to their work. Editors don’t edit the way they used to and publishing houses expect their authors to find friends to do that kind of intensive editing. Really.

4. Do several passes.

Finish your first draft, no matter how rough it is. Then give yourself a break — a week is good, two weeks is better, three weeks is better than that — as time permits. Then read, cut, polish, put in notes. Repeat. And repeat again. Always give yourself time off between reads if you can. The closer your book is to done, the more uncomfortable the unwieldy sections will seem to you, and you will be more and more okay with getting rid of them. Read on for the specific kinds of passes I recommend doing.

5. Whatever your genre is, do a dedicated pass focusing on that crucial genre element.


For a thriller: thrills and suspense. For a mystery: clues and misdirection and suspense. For a comedy: a comedic pass. For a romance: a sex pass. Or “emotional” pass, if you must call it that. For horror… well, you get it.

I write suspense. So after I’ve written that first agonizing bash-through draft of a book or script, and probably a second or third draft just to make it readable, I will at some point do a dedicated pass just to amp up the suspense, and I highly recommend trying it, because it’s amazing how many great ideas you will come up with for suspense scenes (or comic scenes, or romantic scenes) if you are going through your story JUST focused on how to inject and layer in suspense, or horror, or comedy, or romance. It’s your JOB to deliver the genre you’re writing in. It’s worth a dedicated pass to make sure you’re giving your readers what they’re buying the book for.

6. Know your Three Act Structure.


If something in your story is sagging, it is amazing how quickly you can pull your narrative into line by looking at the scene or sequence you have around page 100 (or whatever page is ¼ way through the book), page 200, (or whatever page is ½ way through the book), page 300 (or whatever page is ¾ through the book) and your climax. Each of those scenes should be huge, pivotal, devastating, game-changing scenes or sequences (even if it’s just emotional devastation). Those four points are the tentpoles of your story.

7. Do a dedicated DESIRE LINE pass in which you ask yourself for every scene: “What does this character WANT? Who is opposing her/him in this scene? Who WINS in the scene? What will they do now?”

8. Do a dedicated EMOTIONAL pass,
in which you ask yourself in every chapter, every scene, what do I want my readers to FEEL in this moment?

9. Do a dedicated SENSORY pass, in which you make sure you’re covering what you want the reader to see, hear, feel, taste, smell, and sense.

10. Finally, and this is a big one: steal from film structure to pull your story into dramatic line.

Some of you are already well aware that I’ve compiled a checklist of story elements that I use both when I’m brainstorming a story on index cards, and again when I’m starting to revise. I find it invaluable to go through my first draft and make sure I’m hitting all of these points, so here it is again, for those just finding this post.



STORY ELEMENTS CHECKLIST

ACT ONE


* Opening image
* Meet the hero or heroine
* Hero/ine’s inner and outer desire.
* Hero/ine’s arc
* Inciting Incident/Call to Adventure
* Meet the antagonist (and/or introduce a mystery, which is what you do when you’re going to keep your antagonist hidden to reveal at the end)
* State the theme/what’s the story about?
* Allies
* Mentor (possibly. May not have one or may be revealed later in the story).
* Love interest
* Plant/Reveal (or: Setups and Payoffs)
* Hope/Fear (and Stakes)
* Time Clock (possibly. May not have one or may be revealed later in the story)
* Sequence One climax
* Central Question
* Act One climax

___________________________

ACT TWO


* Crossing the Threshold/ Into the Special World (may occur in Act One)
* Threshold Guardian (maybe)
* Hero/ine’s Plan
* Antagonist’s Plan
* Training Sequence
* Series of Tests
* Picking up new Allies
* Assembling the Team
* Attacks by the Antagonist (whether or not the Hero/ine recognizes these as being from the antagonist)
* In a detective story, questioning witnesses, lining up and eliminating suspects, following clues.


THE MIDPOINT


* Completely changes the game
* Locks the hero/ine into a situation or action
* Can be a huge revelation
* Can be a huge defeat
* Can be a “now it’s personal” loss
* Can be sex at 60 — the lovers finally get together, only to open up a whole new world of problems


______________________________
ACT TWO, PART TWO


* Recalibrating — after the shock or defeat of the game-changer in the Midpoint, the hero/ine must Revamp The Plan and try a New Mode of Attack.
* Escalating Actions/ Obsessive Drive
* Hard Choices and Crossing The Line (immoral actions by the main character to get what s/he wants)
* Loss of Key Allies (possibly because of the hero/ine’s obsessive actions, possibly through death or injury by the antagonist).
* A Ticking Clock (can happen anywhere in the story)
* Reversals and Revelations/Twists. (Hmm, that clearly should have its own post, now, shouldn't it?)
* The Long Dark Night of the Soul and/or Visit to Death (aka All Is Lost)

THE SECOND ACT CLIMAX


* Often can be a final revelation before the end game: the knowledge of who the opponent really is
* Answers the Central Question


_______________________________

ACT THREE

The third act is basically the Final Battle and Resolution. It can often be one continuous sequence — the chase and confrontation, or confrontation and chase. There may be a final preparation for battle, or it might be done on the fly. Either here or in the last part of the second act the hero will make a new, FINAL PLAN, based on the new information and revelations of the second act.

The essence of a third act is the final showdown between protagonist and antagonist. It is often divided into two sequences:


1. Getting there (storming the castle)
2. The final battle itself

* Thematic Location — often a visual and literal representation of the Hero/ine’s Greatest Nightmare
* The protagonist’s character change
* The antagonist’s character change (if any)
* Possibly allies’ character changes and/or gaining of desire
* Could be one last huge reveal or twist, or series of reveals and twists, or series of final payoffs you've been saving (as in BACK TO THE FUTURE and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE).

* RESOLUTION: A glimpse into the New Way of Life that the hero/ine will be living after this whole ordeal and all s/he’s learned from it.

If these story elements are new to you, check out the post linked on the right-hand side of this blog!

So, anyone have a top few editing tips for me? I’m always looking!

Happy editing!

—Alex



=====================================================


All the information on this blog and more, including full story structure breakdowns of various movies, is available in my Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workbooks.  Any format, just $3.99 and $2.99.



Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amaxon DE

Amazon FR

Amazon ES

Amazon IT


If you're a romance writer, or have a strong love plot or subplot in your novel or script, then Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks II is an expanded version of the first workbook with a special emphasis on love stories.


Smashwords (includes online viewing and pdf file)

Amazon US

Barnes & Noble/Nook

Amazon UK

Amazon DE


Saturday, June 20, 2009

And yet more tour...

In a fit of overextension, I'm guest blogging at The Lipstick Chronicles today:
The House That Dripped... not exactly blood

along with my regular Murderati post: Richard Matheson, My Father and Me

And if you're in L.A., I'm dropping in to sign THE UNSEEN and hang out at the great The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood at 11 am this morning.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ah,yes, The Sound of Music

Too tired to write my own blog today, but I don't have to because this is much better.

Here's some street theater from an Antwerp train station... 200 dancers descend on unsuspecting commuters. I used to do this kind of surprise street theater almost every week while I was at Berkeley, and there is nothing more gratifying than seeing people light up as they realize that reality has just shifted, just a little, but that life could always be just this amazing...

And by the way, THIS is why people lined up around the block to see Julie Andrews at BEA. What a talent!

Enjoy!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Not more touring!!!!!


Wow, still trying to recover from the Horror Writers Association Stoker Weekend! (on right with dark sirens Rhodi Hawk and Nanci Kalanta).

But no rest for the wicked.

- Today I am interviewed by the lovely and talented Caren Crane on The Romance Bandits; there’s already a rollicking discussion going on psychic experiences.

- If you’re in the San Diego area, I’m reading and signing at Mysterious Galaxy at 7 pm tonight (Tuesday, June 16).

- If you’re in Florida, I’m doing a radio interview with the always entertaining Cliff Roles of Talk of the Sun Coast, Thursday at 4 pm EST. (June 18)

- If you’re in L.A., I’ll be signing at The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood on Saturday at 11 pm. (June 20)

- I’m also guest blogging at The Lipstick Chronicles on Saturday, about the particular kind of haunting I experienced while staying in a haunted house to research The Unseen.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Story Breakdown – THE MIST (Act One)

Okay, I think I have enough time to write a story structure blog today. Well, actually, that would be because I’m on a plane and there’s not much else to do. But that’s fine.

People have been on my case for using such dark movies as examples, so today, just out of spite, I’m going to go even darker, a pure horror movie, The Mist. Rubber spiders and all.

Come on, now, I have to get in the mood for the Horror Writers Association Stoker Weekend! And besides, as I keep saying, there is a lot to be learned from movies and books outside your own genre. You might find any number of movies in totally different genres from your own that are structurally very similar to your own story, and it’s useful to keep an open mind, look at particular structures, and seize on anything that’s going to help you get your own story written.

And if you’re writing anything takes place in a limited, even one-set location, The Mist is an excellent example of how to do that. It’s as concise and exciting as a good play, and makes terrific dramatic use of its (basically) one set.

It is of course also an excellent example of a horror story.

The Mist breaks down perfectly into sequence and is a great film to watch if you’re having trouble with the concept of sequences. It’s even super easy to name the sequences, to get an even better idea of what unifies a sequence.

And what really, really strikes me about the first act – actually, just even the first sequence – is what a great example of foreshadowing it is. I don’t think you can even call it foreshadowing: it’s just a progressive, relentless series of signs that something is drastically wrong, and it builds that suspense and dread in a beautiful and excruciatingly effective way.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, here. Let me just start this off at the beginning.


THE MIST


Written and directed by Frank Darabont
From the novella by Stephen King

ACT ONE, SEQUENCE ONE

OPENING IMAGE – the paintings David Drayton is working on – for a movie one-sheet. This is a nod to Stephen King – several of the paintings are from The Dark Tower series, and there is something a little otherworldly about the canvases, to set the genre tone. Personally I’m not crazy about those paintings as an opening – I know this is Drayton’s profession in King’s novella, but I don’t really buy actor Thomas Jane as a painter here; he’s got a nice, solid, blue-collar energy, more a local than an out-of-towner. But I realize it would have been difficult to make that change to such a well-known and loved story.

For me the real opening image comes 1 minute 30 seconds into the film: the tree crashing through the plate glass window in the front of the house during the storm. It’s a startling and ominous moment, a nice genre scare, and a great example of a THEMATIC IMAGE: it’s a visual representation of the core premise that some science experiment conducted at the nearby military base has shattered the wall between dimensions and let these creatures from another dimension into our world.

Then in the aftermath of the storm comes a very ordinary scene, the Drayton family checking out the damage. The one ominous moment is the shot of the mist starting to roll down the mountains and over the lake.

Then we have the great character introduction of the neighbor, Brent Norton, with whom David is barely on speaking terms. Brent is an interesting character because he is so ambiguous: he may turn out to be an ally, or a fierce opponent, and that ambivalence is there from the very beginning. And I must admit that there is always something charming to me about the first several words out of a character’s mouth being variations of “motherfucker”.

I have to be honest and say, I didn’t much like the opening when I first saw this movie in the theater and I didn’t like it upon re-viewing. I'm thinking the opening scenes might feel uncomfortable because there was originally a whole other opening in the script, showing the military lab and the actual experiment that caused the rip in reality that brings the mist and all of the creatures into our world. I think Darabont was absolutely right to cut that opening, but it may have left some rough edges in the beginning, which feels sketchy compared to the masterful execution of the rest of the film.

So now David, his son, and Brent head off to town for supplies, leaving the wife behind and thus breaking the cardinal rule of survival in horror stories: never, ever, EVER split up.

However, aside from some mist, there is nothing particularly ominous that has gone on that would make the Draytons think splitting up is bad.

It’s only after the men have left her and they’re on the road into town that we get a series of increasingly ominous signs of how out of whack things are:

- They pass numerous military vehicles on the road, all of which seem to be on a mission.

- David’s cell phone won’t work in town and neither will the pay phone.

- There’s a newspaper headline we see in passing with the headline “Biggest Electrical Storm On Record”

- Inside the grocery store an MP comes for the three young soldiers who were just getting out on leave, and tells them all leaves have been canceled and a bus is waiting to take them back to the base, but won’t tell them why.

These moments all happen one on top of each other in just five to seven minutes, creating a spiraling sense of anxiety and dread, and in between we get quick introductions to all of the players: the feisty schoolteacher, Mrs. Reppler; good guy grocery clerk Ollie Weeks; the prim store manager, Stan; lovely checkout girl Sally, the young soldier who likes her, Private Jessup; and the human antagonist, religious nut Mrs. Carmody.

- Then while David and Billy are shopping, sirens wail and a convoy of emergency vehicles rush by on the road outside.

- And shortly after an alarm that sounds like an air raid siren blasts outside, and a man (Dan Miller) with a bloody nose runs down the middle of the street shouting, “Something in the mist! It took John Lee!” He runs into the store, and as the crowd gathers at the windows to look out, we see the mist rolling through town and overtaking the parking lot. One man panics and runs out to his car, and the mist swallows him, then we hear horrifying screams. And then the mist surrounds the grocery store, obscuring everything, and there is silence…. Then an earthquake hits, sending groceries flying and people falling to the floor, lights swaying and people screaming.

But that’s not even the sequence climax. Just as Spielberg did so effectively in Jaws (as we discussed here), that action climax is followed by an even more powerful emotional one, in which a mother says to the stunned crowed that she has to go back to her two young children and begs someone, anyone, to go with her, and no one will – all the assembled crowd turn their heads away. That’s when we know that everyone in the store knows there is something profoundly unnatural out there.

The woman tells them, “I hope you all rot in hell,” and walks out by herself to be swallowed by the mist.

David takes a weeping Billy back into the back of the store, and the lights fade on Sequence One, a classic curtain. (17 minutes).


SEQUENCE TWO:

Not hard to name this one: The Loading Dock.

Before David actually goes back into the loading dock, there’s a short scene in which some of the women have gathered around David as he tends to Billy: Mrs. Reppler, the elderly teacher, and another teacher, Amanda Dumfries; Sally, and another sympathetic older woman, Hattie. (this is the beginning of GATHERING THE TEAM).

The women stay with Billy while David goes back into the loading dock to see what’s going on with the generator. In a great, low budget move, Darabont takes the action into the dark loading dock, creating a whole spooky new atmosphere and isolated location within the grocery store (okay, King conceived the whole thing, but Darabont knew not to mess with perfection!) David hears some huge thing outside battering against the metal door. He goes back out into the store to get help and two mechanics, local yahoos; good guy clerk Ollie Weeks (a brilliant bit of casting there of Toby Jones) and teenage bag boy Norm follow him back into the room.

The yahoos ignore David’s warnings about something dangerous out there, and raise the door. A huge tentacle slides in and snatches the bag boy. A prolonged and horrific struggle ensues, with David and Ollie trying valiantly but vainly to save the kid while the yahoos freeze in terror. (A TEST, which in a horror movie separates the sheep from the goats. David finds a strong and unlikely ALLY in Ollie in this battle; another GATHERING THE TEAM moment).

This is also a revelation of the NATURE OF THE OPPONENT: there is definitely something otherworldly menacing them, and David’s line really drives it home: “What the hell was even attached to those tentacles?”

So the bag boy is killed, David has a violent reaction and punches out one of the mechanics, accusing them of getting the kid killed, and then collapses to his knees and dry heaves – overcome with adrenaline and terror.

Now they know what they’re up against, and David and Ollie have a quiet scene in which they discuss what they’re going to do next (PLAN). They know they have to tell the others in the grocery store what happened, and they talk about the serious problem of getting the others to actually believe what’s out there. David says, “I saw it and I’m not even sure I believe it.” This is a great example of STATING the problem that the characters are about to encounter so the audience can start to anticipate the reactions – it’s a good technique for keeping the audience engaged in the action. Ollie also states another huge PROBLEM: “How are we going to keep that thing from getting in? The whole front of the store is plate glass.” Again, stating the problem creates dread in the audience/reader. Ask a question like that and the audience engages fully in the action.

So the sequence, and Act Two, end as David and Ollie go back into the market to face the others (location change to end the act).

Sequence Two takes place in real time, which gives it a great immediacy and even more terror. In fact the whole movie is a good example of unity of place, time and action.

(I'll keep going with this movie breakdown, because it just gets better - but possibly not again until next week - see below insane schedule.)

- Alex

-------------------------------------


Previous story structure articles
, now in order!

------------------------------------

I am on tour for my new supernatural thriller, THE UNSEEN.

In the next two weeks you can catch me at:

The Horror Writers Association Stoker Weekend in Burbank, June 11-14: I'm reading, singing, paneling, presenting an award at the banquet AND singing at the Ball - with the Slush Pile Band, the latest incarnation of the Killer Thriller Band crossed with Heather Graham's Slush Pile Players theater troupe.

I will be teaching teaching the Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workshop this Saturday (and it's open to the public if anyone wants to sign up without attending the Stoker conference).

I will be doing bookstore signings at:

- Dark Delicacies in Burbank, Thursday June 11 at 7 pm
- Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, Tuesday June 16 at 7 pm
- The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood, Saturday, June 20 at 11 pm

All interspersed with as many drivebys as I can fit in, in L.A., the Valley, the O.C., San Diego, San Gabriel, and Riverside. Maybe on up to Santa Barbara if I don't drop dead, first.

And I will be guest blogging:

Wednesday June 10 at The Blood Red Pencil

Tuesday, June 16 at The Romance Bandits

Saturday, June 20, at The Lipstick Chronicles, where I have been told I must talk about sex. These constant demands of the author life...

THE UNSEEN tour - So Cal loop

I'm back in L.A. now, after a frenetic couple of weeks promoting THE UNSEEN in New York, Virginia and North Carolina. After my Quail Ridge signing (great turnout, dozens of people!) I blitzed around Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte and Winston Salem doing drive-bys and stopping on the road to do radio interviews.

Obviously no writing done, but that is the absolutely great thing about a book launch - you really CAN'T write. Well, except for these guest blog things I've been doing.

But other than that, it's an enforced break. I love that!

Miraculously I finished BOOK OF SHADOWS, my fourth book for St. Martin's, two weeks before THE UNSEEN came out, and even more miraculously my editors have already read it and loved it, so all that pressure is off and the universe is even more aligned than usual. I will have a fine break from the book to give me some distance and perspective and I have also amassed enough good karma to now force some of my dear trusted writer friends to read it and give me notes to bring the next draft to a new level.

These are all great things, and thank God it happened that way, because this is what my next two weeks look like:

Horror Writers Association Stoker Weekend in Burbank, June 11-14: I'm reading, singing, paneling, teaching the Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workshop on Saturday (and it's open to the public if anyone wants to sign up without attending the Stoker conference), presenting an award at the banquet AND singing at the Ball - with the Slush Pile Band, the latest incarnation of the Killer Thriller Band crossed with Heather Graham's Slush Pile Players theater troupe.

Plus - signings at

- Dark Delicacies in Burbank, Thursday June 11 at 7 pm
- Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, Tuesday June 16 at 7 pm
- The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood, Saturday, June 20 at 11 pm

All interspersed with as many drivebys as I can fit in, in L.A., the Valley, the O.C., San Diego, San Gabriel, and Riverside. Maybe on up to Santa Barbara if I don't drop dead, first.

Plus radio interviews, video interviews, and more guest blogs:

Wednesday June 10 at The Blood Red Pencil, on editing
Tuesday, June 16 at The Romance Bandits
Saturday, June 20, at The Lipstick Chronicles

Yes, all of the above is my idea of a BREAK. Which says something about writing full-time, if you ask me.

But despite all of that, you who have been patiently waiting will be happy to know I saw THE MIST last week (to get in the mood for the Horror Writers weekend), and it's a great film to break down for sequences and specific suspense techniques, so I will get at least the first act up either this afternoon or tomorrow.

Hope everyone is well and enjoying this almost-summer!!

- Alex

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Alex signs THE UNSEEN in Raleigh tonight

If you're in the Raleigh/Durham area, I'm reading from and signing THE UNSEEN tonight at one of my favorite bookstores of all time - Quail Ridge Books and Music, at 7:30 pm. I think Quail Ridge must be one of the only bookstores in the country that can pack in dozens of readers for an author event - the store should be on every author's radar.

I'm especially psyched about tonight because Dr. J.B. Rhine's daughter, Sally Feather Rhine, a psychologist and paraspsychologist in her own right, will be there, so the discussion should be amazing.


Reading/signing Thursday, June 4, 7:30
Quail Ridge Books & Music
3522 Wade Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27607
919-828-1588 / 800-672-6789


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

If all that weren't enough, I am also guest blogging today at Diane Chamberlain's blog, on how our home states influence us as writers.

AND I'm guest blogging at Murder She Writes, for Allison Brennan, and it's a character post, about using archetypes in your writing: "Goddesses in Everywoman" (a book that everyone who writes or wants to needs to read, if you have any female characters at all.)

So if you've been jonesing for some Screenwriting Tricks, that should give you a fix!

I'll do the men later.

(Wait, that came out wrong...)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

THE UNSEEN tour diary week two

Oh, my aching... everything.

Hmm, how did I get these bruises on my thighs? It's certainly not from anything interesting.

A LOT of driving in the last two days. 11 bookstores yesterday, and I started late, because I did 11 hours of driving (from Richmond to Virginia Beach to Raleigh, with bookstore drop-ins, eight I think) the day before.

Yesterday, 90 degrees out and humid... good thing the AC in the car is glacial.

But so nice to walk into bookstores that have dozens of my books, and already prominently displayed. There's a good reason to write about a certain PLACE... we're all so loyal to our turf.

And so many lovely stretches of country road, with lots of wildflowers because of all the rain. I really could do about two straight weeks of driving, it's blissing me out. I'm trying to figure out how I can get more than one more day in in North Carolina before I head out to the West Coast. Not sure that's going to happen.

I am guest blogging today at Diane Chamberlain's blog, on how our home states influence us as writers.

And I'm guest blogging tomorrow at Murder She Writes, for Allison Brennan, and it's a character post, about using archetypes in your writing: "Goddesses in Everywoman" (a book that everyone who writes or wants to needs to read, if you have any female characters at all.)

And here's a fun thing I came across - a French blog about THE UNSEEN with a video of Dr. J.B. Rhine - in French! I am thrilled to find I can actually read the blog and understand the clip, and even more thrilled that en France on connait moi for any raison at all.

Tomorrow is my Quail Ridge Books signing, and Dr. Rhine's daughter, psychologist Dr. Sally Rhine Feather, of the current Rhine Research Center and author of the great THE GIFT, The Extraordinary Experiences of Ordinary People, is going to be there, as well as Rhine Center director Pam Olson, and of course my Raleigh mystery writers posse: Margaret Maron, Diane Chamberlain (on tour for her own new release, SECRETS SHE LEFT BEHIND), Sarah Shaber, Brenda Witchger and Katy Munger are all going to be there.

I'm sure I have a million things to do today but until I get more coffee I am not going to remember even one.