Monthly Archives: March 2014

Is More…Better? With Thanks to Seth Godin

We’re constantly told we need to achieve a certain quantity of published books before we can be taken seriously as a writer. The number varies from three to six to twelve to…never mind we’ll never have that many books in print. I’ve wondered about this advice for a long time, having bred and shown dogs for decades. The quantity of dogs in your yard has no bearing on the the quality. The only connection is d irectly to your bank account. More dogs cost more to keep.

Can we draw the same parallel to quantity of books over quality? I’ve seen so many new and not so new ultra prolific authors produce a multitude of books, publishing within a month of finishing. They tell me they edit as they go along. They tell me they don’t need to let the book ‘rest’ so they can review it with a clear eye. Their goal is production and sometimes their sales numbers agree with their goal. Sometimes they don’t. Sacrificing quality for quantity?

Seth Godin’s Blog today spoke of this most eloquently, though his blog is geared more toward marketing than writing…

Not even one note  Seth Godin

Starting at the age of nine, I played the clarinet for eight years.

Actually, that’s not true. I took clarinet lessons for eight years when I was a kid, but I’m not sure I ever actually played it.

Eventually, I heard a symphony orchestra member play a clarinet solo. It began with a sustained middle C, and I am 100% certain that never once did I play a note that sounded even close to the way his sounded.

And yet…

And yet the lessons I was given were all about fingerings and songs and techniques. They were about playing higher or lower or longer notes, or playing more complex rhythms. At no point did someone sit me down and say, “wait, none of this matters if you can’t play a single note that actually sounds good.”

Instead, the restaurant makes the menu longer instead of figuring out how to make even one dish worth traveling across town for. We add many slides to our presentation before figuring out how to utter a single sentence that will give the people in the room chills or make them think. We confuse variety and range with quality.

Practice is not the answer here. Practice, the 10,000 hours thing, practice alone doesn’t produce work that matters. No, that only comes from caring. From caring enough to leap, to bleed for the art, to go out on the ledge, where it’s dangerous. When we care enough, we raise the bar, not just for ourselves, but for our customer, our audience and our partners.

It’s obvious, then, why I don’t play the clarinet any more. I don’t care enough, can’t work hard enough, don’t have the guts to put that work into the world. This is the best reason to stop playing, and it opens the door to go find an art you care enough to make matter instead. Find and make your own music.

The cop-out would be to play the clarinet just a little, to add one more thing to my list of mediocre.

As Jony Ive said, “We did it because we cared, because when you realize how well you can make something, falling short, whether seen or not, feels like failure.”

It’s much easier to add some features, increase your network, get some itemized tasks done. Who wants to feel failure?

We opt for more instead of better.

Better is better than more.


What do you think? Should quality or quantity take precedence? Or do we forever balance on a thin line between the two?


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Processing the Words into the Story

There’s a neat blog tour going around, where we’re asked to share our writing process, and then we ask others to do the same. I was asked by the amazing Kayelle Allen. Kayelle has created a vast universe full of people with the courage to fall in love. And I’ve found a wonderful eclectic bunch to share their information, some of them are going to be added in later.

We’re all starting by answering four questions

1) What am I working on? Edits on one of my older stories, and a new story following up on Teach Me To Forget. In TMTF Bethany refers to a women’s shelter that has helped above and beyond what’s expected and as a result many of the women from there have succeeded beyond expectation. One of them is a highly respected environmental expert. Jess is that expert, and the town she’s hired to help is the same town that turned its back on her when she was a frightened young girl. Is this an opportunity for ultimate revenge, or final closure? And what about the son she put up for adoption?

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? The first genre romance I read was by Jayne Anne Krentz. I had expected purple prose and unnaturally beautiful characters. Instead I read about people I could meet every day, succeeding against odds and falling in love in spite of themselves. The fantasy for me is every day people doing extraordinary things, such as saving the world…and falling in forever love.

3) Why do I write what I do? I could say my writing is cathartic but in fact it’s often painful and frustrating and anything but pleasant. So why do I write? Because these doggone ideas keep coming up in my mind and before you know it, the story is THERE RIGHT THERE just nudging me to let it out and play. And just about the time I give in and start that story I’m sure is going to just write itself, it decides to change me up into something entirely different.

4) How does your writing process work? Easier to say how it used to work. I used to work a full time job, come home, tend dogs, feed husband, put the various two and four legged friends to bed. Then I’d write from ten or eleven at night until two to three

Come play. NOW

Come play. NOW

in the morning. Fall into bed, get up the next morning to start all over again. I was massively productive. At that time I’d start with a basic idea of how the book would end, and write from beginning to end. Sometimes I’d write for a while, outline for a while, write again. And I told myself one day I’d have all the time in the world to write.
That one day arrived and I’m less productive than ever.  I’m dragging myself back into writing every day which is the major part of becoming productive. For the first time I tried writing scenes instead of straight through. Not sure if that’s working for me but it will be a great way to finally start using Scrivener.
I think some of the current road block has to do with fear of not being able to write anything that’s worth reading. The only thing worse is…you guessed it…not writing at all.

Funny thing, as I was writing about the process of writing I started…writing.  Still working around the dogs…put the dog out, bring the dog in, oops have to stop and play with the dog. Or cat. No more horses, unfortunately and gardening here is more of a challenge than it was in California. But there are such wonderful compensations.

Big skies, glorious sunsets

Big skies, glorious sunsets

What am I working on when I’m not staring at the sunset? Here’s a bit of what came about this morning…looks like my people are taking over the book, they’ve been resisting their first sex scene for a while, and finally explained why. They’re exhausted, they’ve fallen into bed together, and Jess thinks she’s ready to get closer.


    “No, Jess. Not tonight.” Not yet his thoughts added. And his body whined ‘When?
In the dim light he could see the lines between her brows, and the gleam of her eyes. Then her gaze shifted to the side, closing him out.
“I am not rejecting you. It’s just not the right time.”
“Seems to me it is. We’re in bed together, no one’s pounding on the door or calling on the phone. It’s dark, it’s private…”
“And it’s cheating both of us.” At her sudden intense frown, he sighed. “Sex is…well, it’s easy. Body parts fitting together, friction plus hormones and you get release, hopefully pleasant for both parties.”
“So what’s wrong with that?”
“What if you want more? What if I want more or we want more?”
“More than sex?” She raised up on one elbow, pulling away from him. For just a moment he wanted to hold her body against his. “What on earth are you talking about?”
He swallowed, studied the pale face surrounded by short dark spiky hair.
“Intimacy?” Her hand pulled away from his slackened grip, and landed on his erection, which responded immediately and with great energy. He grabbed again, pulling her hand up to rest on the pillow at her shoulder.
“No, Jess.”
“Just checking. You were sounding so girly, I wanted to be sure something hadn’t changed in the last few minutes.”

Like I said, they’re taking over. Feels like I’m just along for the ride.

You’ll want to check out how  Doranna Durgin explains her process. And you’ll probably end up as much in awe of her as I am…what a powerhouse!


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Kris Bock visits to share Whispers In The Dark and a New Mexico Recipe

Hi All, waving from the land of odd weather and tumbleweeds, welcoming a fellow transplant into New Mexico, Kris Bock, who’s sharing her new book and also a quick ‘n’ easy recipe so you’ll get a taste of the Land of Enchantment. I’ll be out back, liberating the next wave of tumbleweeds.

tumbleweeds waiting like commuters at a train gate

tumbleweeds waiting like commuters at a train gate

Okay Kris, you’re on

In my romantic suspense Whispers in the Dark, my heroine is an archaeology Masters student working at the fictional “Lost Valley.” This site is closely based on Hovenweep National Monument. Located on the southern border between Colorado and Utah,Whispers in the DARK these ruins were left behind by the ancestral Puebloans, also known as the Anasazi. It’s a smaller site than some, but that’s part of its charm. You can hike and camp without crowds. The lonely location allows for an almost Gothic atmosphere – mysterious lights in the canyon, spooky moaning sounds, and plenty of people hiding secrets. My heroine, Kylie, finds more than she bargains for, of course – including mystery, danger, and new love. She also falls in love with the Southwest, as I did after moving to New Mexico more than a decade ago.

Whispers in the Dark is on sale for $.99 this week: Archaeology student Kylie Hafford craves adventure when she heads to the remote Puebloan ruins of Lost Valley, Colorado, to excavate. Romance isn’t in her plans, but she soon meets two sexy men: Danesh looks like a warrior from the Pueblo’s ancient past, and Sean is a charming, playful tourist. The summer heats up as Kylie uncovers mysteries, secrets, and terrors in the dark. She’ll need all her strength and wits to survive—and to save the man she’s come to love.



New Mexico is most famous, at least in culinary terms, for its green chile. The official state question is “Red or Green?” – How do you want the chile sauce that comes slathered over almost any dish? (Red chile is simply green chile that has ripened. It is usually dried and powdered, whereas green chile is roasted over open flames, chopped, and frozen until use.)

The following recipe is not exactly traditional, but it’s my quicker and healthier version of an enchilada casserole. The directions are a little informal, as I usually cook by the “make it up as you go along” method.

Spray oil a 9 x 13 casserole dish.

Scatter broken tortilla chips in the bottom of the dish. (This is a great way to use the broken chips at the bottom of the bag.)

Chop a large onion and sauté in oil.

Add about 3 cups of chopped chicken (either fresh, or precooked, frozen chicken tenders). Sauté until cooked through.

Add one can of cream of chicken soup, one can or jar of enchilada sauce, and one can of drained, rinsed pinto beans. Mix well.

Pour the chicken and sauce mixture over the tortilla chips. Cover with another layer of broken tortilla chips.

Top with a layer of shredded cheddar, Jack, or Mexican cheese.

Bake at 350° for about 45 min.

This is one of my standards, because it only takes about half an hour to put together, and it makes enough leftovers for lunches. If you try it, I hope you enjoy it! You can also vary it by using black beans or ground beef, by skipping the meat and adding some vegetables, or by adding extra red chili powder if you like it spicy.

Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Counterfeits starts a new series about art theft. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. Rattled follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. Read excerpts at or visit her Amazon page.

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