August 7, 2013

Rose’s Fresh Look And Thirty and a Half Excuses Pre-Order Link

  The Rose Gardner Mystery Series Gets a New Look! To celebrate the long-awaited and soon to be released third book in the Rose Gardner Mystery series, I’ve updated and freshened up the covers!    Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes is on SALE for $0.99 until Sunday, August 11! Amazon B&N Kobo iTunes     And today I’m revealing the cover for Thirty and a Half Excuses Available September 10! You can preorder your copy of Thirty and a Half Excuses (A Rose Gardner Mystery) from Amazon today! Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes will be available on September 10, or soon after.   Life in Henryetta, Arkansas is turned upside down with the arrival of a televangelist, but it’s the death of a little old lady on Rose’s street that catches her attention. The Henryetta police deem her death natural causes, but Rose suspects foul play and so does an unlikely supporter– the president of the Busy Body Club, her eighty-two year old neighbor Mildred. But Rose is in the middle of opening her nursery with her sister Violet, who’s separated from her husband Mike, as well as stalling her boyfriend Joe’s family, rich socialites who are determined to meet […]
June 4, 2011

Getting It Right the First Time

If there's one thing I have learned 23K into my sixth novel, its that not a single book has been written the same way. My first, my throw away book, was a NaNoWriMo project. I'll be honest and it was more about meeting the goal than the story, although I didn't believe that at the time. I'd started several novels before and never even hit 20K so completing a book was at the top of the priority list. One key for me in completion is that I'd spent a week or so plotting, which had always been my bane. As weird as it sounds to most writers, my blog posts on my family blog taught me to plot. Every blog post/story had a beginning, middle and an end. It sounds logical enough, but I when I started my previous novels-- the unfinished ones-- I had a vague idea and started writing.
March 29, 2011


I’m editing. I’ve been editing for over a month and the end is in sight. I’ve done  revisions, sentence restructuring and tried to remove as many *I*s as possible. I’ve embedded deep POV, taken out unnecessary lines (even if I love them,) and found repetitive words. I’ve read this manuscript so many times I can practically recite passages word for word. I have favorite lines. Favorite scenes. I start reading the find myself swept up in the story that’s lived in my head for months, clawing at my brain to find itself on a page.  I love this story more than I’ve loved any of the other four before it, which says a lot. Julia is a character more close to my heart than any other my other characters (which feels oddly, or not so oddly, like picking a favorite child.) As the story progresses, my heart aches for her loss. I can only hope readers ache for her too. But I’m approaching the point where my manuscript feels like a game of Jenga. You know the game. You have a stack of wooden blocks and you take them out one by one until the tower topples over. Every time […]
March 28, 2011

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Only in my world could a phrase so ridiculous sound pretentious. Last fall I entered The Beacon, a writing contest for unpublished authors that’s sponsored by First Coast Romance Writers. I entered CHOSEN, my paranormal thriller (Paranormal)  and TWENTY-EIGHT AND A HALF WISHES, my soft mystery with a touch of paranormal (Mainstream.)  Toward the end of November, I found out that both manuscripts (judges read the first two chapters) had both finaled in their categories. The judges for the contest offered exceptional feedback and allowed me a week to make any changes and send back for the final judges. On Friday, I received an email telling me that I won in my category. Which one? I won both. *falls down and dies* You have to understand, when I entered the contest, I did it for feedback.  I hoped to get some unbiased opinions on my manuscripts For the feedback from the first round judges alone, the comments were worth every penny of the thirty dollar entrance fee.* CHOSEN had few suggestions but positive feedback (especially when the judge has no idea who you are) is an ego booster. It’s also uplifting for someone like me who has critique partners who write beautifully […]
March 14, 2011

Blog Par-Tay Giveaway!

I love Twitter. Anyone who knows me, knows this, but one of the main reasons I love Twitter is the AMAZING people that I meet. One of those people is Carolina Valdez Miller. Honestly, I can’t remember the first time I “met” Carol, but one of my first memories of her is from a blogfest someone hosted.  I think it was a fight scene. I read her story, which she claimed to have started around midnight and finished a few hours later, and I was blown away. Blown away. I emailed my friend Trisha Leigh and said “I want to write like Carolina when I grow up.”* *true story So Carol became this person I talked to on Twitter, but also someone I admired. Then last September I went to Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s Conference in Denver. It turned out to be a Twitter hook up (not that kind) and I had the honor, pleasure and delight to meet Carol in person. She turned out to be just as nice in person as she is on Twitter, no scratch that, she turned out to be nicer. Carol’s one of those people that is so genuinely sweet you can’t help but […]
October 31, 2010


In my previous post, I mentioned that I picked up a WIP I had started this summer and temporarily abandoned to write another manuscript, TWENTY-EIGHT AND A HALF WISHES. Last week I revisited HUNTED. Frankly, I expected a complete rewrite with the exception of the first chapter. But when I read, I realized some of the scenes just needed tweaking– cutting things out, changing dialogue, adding things back in. The tone of HUNTED changed, the end point was the same, but instead of taking a Greyhound bus, my characters were taking the Bullet train. And it’s just what it needed. I also posted I had reached the point of running out of old words to use; I’d either used them all or thrown out the rest. It was all blank pages before me. I love me a blank page. I let my imagination loose and scene after scene tumbled in my head and it’s a race for my fingers to get it all down. A burning story is like a new lover– (pft, like I would know…) –you want to be with them constantly. Only real life gets in my way. I have five kids living in the house, four […]
October 29, 2010

Hi, I’m Denise and I’m a Pantser

I’m gonna confess right up front that’s not entirely true. It’s a huge debate, a line drawn in the sand. It’s like a team rivalry — are you a MU or a KU fan? (Sorry, I’m from Kansas City, it’s a HUGE deal here) I’ve noticed the same thing with writers. Which are you? A Pantser or a Plotter? And depending on where you fall, you’ve got an ally or a rival, because one type has trouble understanding how the other functions. I want to know why we have to choose? The truth for me is I am both. Don’t get me wrong, I could never snowflake and an outline seems way too much like eighth grade English class. *shudder* But I don’t sit down at my laptop with one line “It was a dark and stormy night” and expect to get an entire novel out of it. Sure, it takes one idea to get a novel started, and with me one idea can be a combustible tangent– the idea gets started in my head and explodes into a story in days. And I suppose I do plot, in my own way. The flow chart for CHOSEN* *don’t look too […]
August 20, 2010

Theme Song for Rose

When I wrote Chosen, I had songs that related to different chapters and scenes, but with Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes, I didn’t have the same experience. I’m sure it’s partially because it just tumbled out so quickly. Or maybe it’s because TEHW is a different kind of book, lighter and quirkier. I listened to a lot of Evans Blue and Death Cab for Cutie while I wrote, but when I edited I discovered Sky Sailing. The lead singer and creator of Sky Sailing is by Adam Young, the lead singer of Owl City. They sound a lot like Owl City but with less electronic key board and more acoustic guitar. I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many times my iTunes says I’ve listened to it, but I’ll admit it just broke three digits. Sky Sailing’s CD An Airplane Carried Me to Bed is light, sweet and a little bit wistful. Like Rose. A lot like Rose. So I found that the entire CD is a fitting playlist for Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes, as weird as that is. But here’s what’s weirder: Rose has a theme song on the CD. The words aren’t necessarily appropriate to her character […]
August 18, 2010

Query for Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes

Oh, the dreaded query letter, the nemesis of most writers. The one page that can open a door or slam it shut, so much packed into so few words. With Chosen, for some reason I had a hard time boiling my book’s plot down into few paragraphs. With Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes, I had a hard time getting the voice, because with this book, the voice is EVERYTHING. I struggled and wrote and rewrote and then I remembered hearing a piece of advice to write the query in character and then switch to third person. (Never, and I mean NEVER send your query as your character in first person. NEVER. EVER. I hope I got my point across.) Okay. So I wrote my query letter as Rose, not hard since I wrote the book in first person anyway. And that right there was the key for me to turn it around. I captured Rose’s voice and then switched all my I’s and me’s to Rose and she’s. The result is what you see below: ————————————– Dear Superstar Agent: For Rose Gardner, working at the DMV on a Friday afternoon is bad enough even before she sees a vision of herself […]
July 28, 2010

OMG Stick a Fork in My WIP– It’s Done!

On Monday June 28, I started a test project that didn’t have a title for and the barest of ideas, created mere days before. I decided to write and see what happened. What happened is short of amazing, to me anyway. I ended up with a 102,000 word manuscript that not only had a plot, but two subplots, all well woven in a funny, sentimental and thrilling mystery with twists and turns my alpha readers never saw coming. Some I didn’t even see myself until I wrote them. What I experienced the last 30 days is nothing short of magical. I never forced it, rarely planned much, had a general idea of where things were going (knew the mystery and details in my head, let them come out where necessary) and just let it go. I sat down and the words FLEW out of my fingers. And I never had more fun writing. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Wow, 102,000 words in thirty days? That must be a lot of CRAP!” But at least six hours a day of those thirty days, if not more (probably twelve on Saturday when you take into account I wrote until 4 a.m.), […]
July 28, 2010

The Blessing (and the Curse) of the Alpha Reader

Hi, I’m Denise and I use alpha readers. Now some of you are saying “What? What is she talking about? WTF is an alpha reader?” and others are now looking down your nose with contempt. No real writer uses alpha readers. And a few of you, some who are too ashamed to admit it, are nodding your head and whispering “I do too.” What is an alpha reader? An alpha reader is a person who reads your book while it’s in first draft. Okay, I’m going to let a few of you get yourselves back together before I continue on, because some of you would rather face a firing squad than show people your first draft. And guess what? That’s okay. Just like some people use detailed outlines, snowflake methods, or whatever else people use to intricately plot out their books, others just “pants” it and go. I fall somewhere in the middle, which if I had to guess, I think most writers do too. If someone tried to force me to use an an outline you would find me laying on the floor next to my computer throwing a temper tantrum in frustration. The rigidness of an outline is […]
July 18, 2010

Wordle of Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes

Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes first draft is halfway complete at 46,000 words in only 20 days! (And 5 of those days I didn’t write!!!) To celebrate I created a Wordle! You plug in your manuscript and it prints out your most used words, biggest to smallest. I’m not sure how helpful it actually is, but is sure is pretty! I am LOVING my exclamation point tonight!!! Yeah, my trim job sucks. Deal.