Author Archives: Lisha Cauthen

Get the Most Out of Your Ghost…Tour

It’s that time of year again, full of thrills and chills and things that go bump in the night.

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When many usually sane people decide to attend commercial haunted houses and ghost tours.

Now, I haven’t attended a haunted house and I never will, based on this:

 

flashight gif

And this:

 

blink

 

And this:

 

giddyup

But I have gone on a bunch of ghost tours, and I’ve got a few tips for writers and others about…

 

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF A WALKING GHOST TOUR

  1. Stay in the front–sounds obvious. But if you trail the group you will miss things. Even if the Ghost Walk Conductor uses a bullhorn, you’re gonna miss stuff. Random people walking down the street will ask you what’s going on. Other ghost tour customers will buttonhole you with their own personal ghost stories. Which are almost never any good. And the tour leader will often talk to the people in the front, off-mike.
  2. Laugh, gasp and generally encourage the guide–even if it makes you feel like a bit player in a melodrama. An engaged audience is a lot more fun for everybody–including the speaker. If he enjoys delivering his spiel, he’ll ham it up. Throw in extra tidbits of information that he might skip if he’s in a hurry to ditch a surly group.
  3. Ask questions–figure out whether your speaker is more interested in the ghosty or historical part of his job. If he’s working for a ghost tour company, he’s enthusiastic about at least one. And usually knows a lot more about his subject than he’s telling you. If you’ve got a question, ask it. But dear God, please don’t tell the group about the time your great-grandmother heard the Banshee cry. Nobody cares. Sorry.
  4. Interrupt–honest to Murgatroyd, I have become intolerant of fools in my middle age. As far as I’m concerned, a chatty audience member gets one it’s-all-about-me comment per situation. If a fellow ghost tourist feels the need to continually take the speaker’s presentation off track, interrupt with a question that will help the him get back to business. (“Did George Washington sleep here?”) Or simply repeat the last thing the tour guide said. (“You said he had a wooden leg named ‘Smith’. Go on.”) 99.999999% of the time, he will be grateful.
  5. Tip–come on, cheapskate. You flattered and cajoled your host into giving you the ghost tour of a lifetime, now tip him. And while you’re at it, ask him to recommend historical and paranormal sources you can check out. After all, this is book research, right? RIGHT?

 

Monkey Love–MailChimp is the Bee’s Knees

A few of you might be aware that I edit an almost-weekly newsletter called the KIDLIT SCOOP. (Which contains news and opportunities in children’s publishing. Click over on the side there, if you want to subscribe.) But have you noticed the platform I use to compose and send the newsletter to one and all?

It’s MailChimp.

MailChimp has a tiered pricing system–one price for mega-volume use, another price for medium-large customers…and for the little guy who only has a couple-hundred subscribers, it’s free.

That’s right. Free.

ANYWAY. Couple weeks ago I had a bit of trouble. So I emailed The Chimp, asking for help. The little nipper emailed me back with wonderful suggestions…and well, we got quite a little correspondence going while we tackled the problem. Which of course, got solved.

BUT THEN.

 

 

Yes! The support guy was so relieved that our correspondence was calm and pleasant, he sent me a prize!

THE POINT

Well, there’s more than one. First, LOOK AT THAT COOL HAT. Second, be nice and nice things will happen to you. (Which I don’t believe happens all that often, but it’s worth a try.)

Most of all, look at how MailChimp has treated me, a non-paying user. Forget the slick ads and noisy social media–

THAT. Is how you make a loyal customer. In the future, when I need to send a mass mailing to every man, woman and child in the United States of America, where do you think I’m going to go?

loyalty

Check my Instagram to witness my continuing MailChimp love affair.

seven amusing tumblrs i miss terribly

Hello. Miss me?

I’ve been working like a demon for months and months on my current WIP. And am now halfway through my final pass, mere weeks away from being done.

eyepatch martin

STICK A FORK IN IT.

So I thought I’d get back in ye ol’ blogging habit. Today, let us consider:

 

SEVEN TUMBLRS I WISH THEY WOULD UPDATE

  • Sad Etsy Boyfriends–Their mission statement: “Dedicated to the wretched creatures abused for economic gains by their Etsy girlfriends.” Oh, lawsy. How I wish they’d post a few more specimens. Guys in undersized knit hats, guys in pink hoodies with green applique whales, and half-nekkid guys wearing nothing but feathers. ALL SAD.
  • Paula Deen Riding Things– “We adore Ms. Deen, and the last thing we want is to upset her.” Naw, this blog doesn’t upset Ms. Deen. Just because these two guys photoshopped Paula riding the Easter bunny, Anthony Davis’ eyebrows, and most famously, sticks of butters.
  • Tom Hanks is a Bunch of Animals–Animal photos and gifs, with various Tom Hanks heads attached. You haven’t lived until you’ve watched a parakeet with Tom Hanks’ head, rolling around on a tennis ball. Please, please, please, post some more!
  •  Halloween or Williamsburg–I want this tumblr to be my best friend. Pictures of people dressed, um, eccentrically. And you’re supposed to guess if they’re wearing Halloween costumes or their usual attire. HINT: It’s never a Halloween costume.
  • Kim Jong-il Looking At Things–What a classic. The Dear Leader liked to…how should I put it? Oh yes. Look at things. Fairly intently. There aren’t going to be any more posts, I’m pretty sure you know why. What a shame.
  • Texts From Bennet–This tumblr has been picked up for publication, and hasn’t been updated for nearly five months. Woe. Is. Me. Because “These are text messages I exchange with my 17 year old cousin Bennett. He is a white boy that thinks he’s a Crip, is currently unemployed, has a girlfriend named Mercedes…by the way, this blog is 100% real.” Real HILARIOUS.

Enjoy!

dawggg

My Writing Process in a Shell of a Nut

toddOne of the best things about having writerly friends, is celebrating with them when they cross the finish line.  One of my talented friends in such a position is LOUISE GALVESTON, author of By the Grace of Todd.

 

Louise tagged me in the #myworkprocess blog thinga-do. Here’s her post on her work and how she produces it, and below, mine.

 

 

A. What am I working on?

Currently, I’m revising a perky little YA manuscript that involves cellular memory, serial killing and sex. And also, bad words.  Although this story is quite dark, it’s a lot of fun for me. It’s set in my home state of Texas, and recreating the rhythm of Texan speech patterns, as well as idioms peculiar to the state, is like wrapping myself in a warm serape.

serape

B. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write books for guys that girls like to read too. If it’s a subject that’s usually discussed in whispers, I wave it like bunting on the Fourth of July. My stories are gritty and realistic, but always with a small twist that makes the world skew a bit toward the weird.

horse

 C. Why do I write what I do?

You’d have to ask my psychiatrist.

D. How does your writing process work?

I believe in vomiting out your first draft–just GET IT DOWN.  As I write,  characters’ names change,  the plot careens wildly and I might try on different tenses and  points of view. DOESN’T MATTER. Then, I choose which tense and point of view I like, and rewrite for plot and story elements. Then a third draft concentrating on character, setting and cleaning up plot holes. Then a last pass to clean up anything I missed. I. Am. Thorough.

demon

NEXT WEEK, MAY 5TH (may already) GO SEE MY PALS’ POSTS ON THIS VERY SUBJECT:

Heather Trent Beers’ blog, I’M JUST SAYIN':

Heather is my adorable friend who writes articles for magazines and periodicals, local and national, for kids and parents. She also writes charming picture books, as well as edits for cash money. We like to travel together under aliases.   http://heathertrentbeers.blogspot.com/

Tessa Elwood’s blog, INK & ANGST:

Tessa is my cool friend who writes YA novels and designs websites and also is a photographer extraordinaire. This gal’s got her fingers in so many pies *CORN ALERT CORN ALERT* we call her Marie Callendar. She also lets me post on her blog sometimes. Is that a pal, or what? http://inkandangst.com/

Heather Ayris Burnell’s blog, FROLICKING THROUGH CYBERSPACE:

Heather is my cyberfriend. We met on Twitter and have yet to coordinate a meeting IRL. BUT I HAVE FAITH. She’s lives on a mountain and raises things–crops, critters and kids. And writes picture books, as well as a YA here and there. I love her madly, and am so curious to get together in person so I can hear her voice. I imagine it is smooth as a lamb’s ear and fresh as goat’s milk.  http://frolickingthroughcyberspace.blogspot.com/

 

Where Have All the Sharing Buttons Gone?

 

Now that we’re all good and melancholy, here’s the point of this post:

Have you noticed that like and share buttons have disappeared from your favorite blogs? Or perhaps, even your very own blog?

Um, be that as it may…I’ve found the problem.

IF YOU ARE A FIREFOX USER  WITH THE ADBLOCK ADD-ON, GO TO TOOLS>ADBLOCK PLUS>FILTER PREFERENCES>FILTER SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BY JIMINY, DISABLE  FANBOY’S ANNOYANCE LIST.

Yes, I understand some tracking might be perpetrated by a couple of social media sites. But lawsy, don’t you want to be able to share an interesting post on Tumblr, with one click? Or, perhaps, see what’s what on your own personal site?

You’re welcome.

KOWS: Keep On Writing, Silly

You may have noticed my absence from social media for the past several months.

invisible smoker

 

Or maybe you haven’t.

Anyhoo.

I’ve been madly revising my current manuscript to the detriment of all other aspects of my life.  Especially housework. Of course, it doesn’t take much to get me to give up on housework.

But Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, this blog, the other blog, Sub It Club…etc., etc.  Regretfully, they have been mostly on hiatus while I finish my WIP.

So I would like to offer this situation as a shining example of the role of Social Media in a writer’s career. It is incredibly important, but all things stem from THE WRITING.

When necessary, we should be willing to let all other things go to hell in a handbasket.

 

cat in a handbasket

 

Oh, were you looking for cows?

 

 

 

 

not another writer’s new year resolutions post

Geez Louise, I despise New Year’s resolutions. I never keep them, and don’t even remember what I resolved past January 3rd. Usually, along about October I find the notebook I was supposed to write in every morning, stuffed under the car seat or kicked under the washing machine.

Then I despair.

no more writer resolutions

Not this year, bucko!

Happy_dance

I don’t want to generate failure anymore. No more promises to work on habits and goals that I don’t really want, no matter how many Good Writers recommend them. Instead, whatever interests me, I’m just gonna do it.

And when it doesn’t float my boat anymore, I will stop.

Maybe I’ll end up making the same changes in my life that a New Year’s Resolver does, but I won’t feel like I’m being punished, and I sure won’t feel guilty if my self-improvement ideas don’t work out.

approved

whither shall we goest from here, mes amis?

No, I have not abandoned my lovely blog. But I’m starting to feel the need to revamp.

I’ve blogged here with varying degrees of enthusiasm since 2008. That’s over 5 years, my dear, sweet readers.

So it’s time to redesign, refocus and reverberate. I’m going to mess around with design and style for the next few months, and think about the direction to take with this platform.

BUZZ WORD ALERT

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Who Helped Kill the Mockingbird?

I watched a documentary the other night about Harper Lee, called “Hey Boo“.

I’d been thinking about her upcoming court battle with her current agent. Imagine. Stealing the rights to one of the most beloved American novels of all time. Allegedly.

And I wondered why Miss Lee hadn’t written another book since To Kill a Mockingbird. I mean, nearly every page of that masterpiece has one quotable passage. Or two. Or even three.

The documentary indirectly answered the Mystery of Harper Lee’s Retirement for me:

It took her eight years of bumming around in odd jobs before she had a manuscript. She gave it to Tay Hohoff at Lippincott, who described it as a string of stories rather than a novel with a beginning, middle and end. But she saw something in Miss Lee’s writing, and guided her through several rewrites for two and a half years.

No. Kidding.

How often do editors do that sort of thing anymore? How would they have time? And how many brilliant novels have we lost, because there was no editor to guide the writer?

There have been a lot of conspiracy theories floated, claiming Harper Lee did not write To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the suspected authors being her childhood friend, Truman Capote. But I think we know now who helped Miss Lee write her book.

Her editor.

Oh. And she loved Gregory Peck playing Atticus Finch.

harper lee and gregory peck

WRITERS’ BOOT CAMP: COME SEE MY BLUE HAIR.

PEOPLE OF EARTH.

There is something extremely nifty going on in Omaha on Saturday, September 7th, 2013. Not only can you see my blue hair, you can learn a thing or two.

Jenn Bailey and I will be running a Writers’ Boot Camp for SCBWI-NEBRASKA.

Jenn starts the day with Scrivener 101. You’ll see how to storyboard, organize research, revise using keywords, and a lot more. Imagine being able to pull up all of your main character’s dialogue at once to see if his speech pattern remains the same. Track a secondary plot thread. Check your research–videos, pdfs, sound files–right in your Scrivener program. Save time and write a tighter, multi-layered manuscript.

Next, Twitter Tune-up.  Learn how to connect with agents, editors and other writers, or movers and shakers in any industry. Where and how to join a chat. And find out how to hashtag, MT and RT with the best of them. We’ll demystify the lingo and let you in on the etiquette of successful Tweeting.

Last of all…face it. You know you need a website. If you’re like me, html and CSS might as well be Aramaic. But there’s a way for anyone to put together a beautiful website, with or without a blog. I will hold your hand and take you step-by-step through the WordPress Workout. We will set up a site together, so you can see exactly how themes, headers, titles, widgets, pages and blogging work. We’ll talk about the dreaded SEO and how to get recognized by Google. You’ll leave with your very own site, ready for your personalization.

Everyone’s invited, whether children’s writer, adult writer, business person, student or teacher. Anyone who wants a bit of web presence or must produce documents should come.

Also, Jenn and I are a ton of fun.

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Don’t let the crowns fool you.

REGISTER HERE:

http://www.scbwi.org/Regional-Chapters.aspx?R=16&sec=Conf

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