Sunday, July 31, 2011


Finally.  I put aside all the duties of family and made it to a meeting of a group of local writers.  They meet the last Wednesday of every month.  A few members of the group have invited me in the past but the timing never worked out for me to make an evening meeting.  Since I dropped my membership in RWA at the end of last summer, I've missed meeting with fellow writers face to face.  Thank you to Don Helin for inviting me.

The group met at the local B&N since Borders closed. Even though it's about a 35 minute trip in heavy traffic, I felt I really needed some person to person connection.  It was great.  Twelve writers attended, a multiple of genres represented, and together discussed where to go for the next meeting.  B&N didn't really want us there taking up space in the cafe.  Scrooges.  Next month will be in a local library.

After getting the organization items out of the way, the group hunkered down to the real purpose of their meetings.  A number of the attendees had brought up to five pages of a piece of work.  They passed around hard copies for everyone.  We took a few minutes to read and mark, and then went around the circle and gave feedback.  One of the rules is for the author not to respond to what is said.  It was very friendly.  The scope of knowledge and professionalism makes me regret not getting to this group earlier.

So what kind of feedback should one give?  I think it's important to start with the positive.  Good dialogue, great characters, interesting setting or perhaps an engaging plot.  But you don't really help anyone if you're only positive. 

At least one of the things shared was not of a genre I like reading so I tried to only pay attention to the words on the page.  If I felt I couldn't relate to the characters or their behavior, I kept my mouth shut unless I could specifically say what didn't work about them.  If I thought the pacing too slow, I searched for where the writing could be tightened.  It was my first time giving feedback in such a setting.  Usually I do this sort of thing online and not in real time so I have more time to figure out the words that are constructive rather than destructive.  I did know enough to try and end with a positive observation.  Writing is tough and anyone who can stay at it deserves some pats on the back.

Fortunately, the group gathered made few grammatical or punctuation errors.  Do you ever do face to face critique sessions?  What is the most important feedback you feel you can give or receive?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rules of Writing

I'm going to guess most writers have some brand of style book hovering around near their writing desk.  You can even find style books online.  In them and in any other number of reference sites, books and classrooms, you can learn the 'rules' for writing.

This quote was in the monthly newsletter for Pennwriters:

"There are three rules for writing the novel.  Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." - W. Somerset Maugham

The longer I'm in the business of writing the more I believe in that quote.  I'm not sure when I realized ending a sentence with a preposition isn't really a sin though lots of editors don't like it.  Let's face it though, when we speak we end sentences in prepositions all the time.  Some sentences sound better with the preposition at the end.  How many of you have had editors who insist you don't have a single of, from, or whatever before the period.

I had an editor who insisted I remove every 'being' from my manuscript even the ones like, 'human being.'  She frustrated me a little.  Another editor insisted throughout an entire 450 page book that I should refer to the horse in my book as 'he.'  She wanted the stallion to always be called 'it.'  I threw a few things when I worked with her. 

How about not starting a sentence with a conjunction?  But I do this all the time.  And so do lots of authors, many of them very successful.  Because sometimes starting with a conjunction conveys the meaning the author wants.

So what 'rules' of writing do you break on a regular basis?  Which rules don't you like to see broken? Have you ever had an editor or critique partners who insisted you break no rules?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wish List

I guess most writers have becoming a bestselling author or having one of their novels made into a movie.  Those interviews on the morning 'news' shows would be great stuff when our publisher flies us to New York.  Ahh, dreams. 

But besides those biggies I have some things on my writer's wish list I intend to make happen.  One of these days, maybe even next year, I'm going to attend BEA and grab up lots of goodies and meet some of my favorite authors.  I've heard you can get lots of freebies, T-shirts, pens, candy, totes and BOOKS! I'm going to do it.

I'm going to attend one of the big 'cons' like the recent ComicCon.  I think all my children would love to go along to one of those.  That wish is a little further in the future but I'm still going to do it.

Not next year but perhaps the year after, I want to go on a writer's retreat.  I'm not sure where or when, but I do know what I want.  Writers, a private room, a peaceful outdoor setting for long walks, someone to fix meals and make coffee, and time to write, write, and write.

What things are on your wish list that you can make happen rather than just hope they some about someday?  Have you even done a writer's retreat? Where? 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Where Do We Go Now?

I know many of you are mourning the loss of your local Borders store the same as I am.  I don't have the fortune of having an independent book store near me.  There are two used book stores not too far away but one is inconvenient and the coffee out of the range of even an addict like me.  The other is so tightly packed with books one can't move let alone relax and browse.

My daughter and I visited our beloved Borders yesterday as they started their clearance sale.  The cafe and even the bathrooms were closed.  All the tables and chairs, even the soft ones scattered throughout the store, were gone. The things I usually buy in Borders, fantasy and mystery, were only be offered at 10% off, so I didn't pick up any books.  I thought to look for a new planner for 2012 or a great calendar but they were no where in sight.  The special coffees and really cool mugs were also missing. I guess those poor overworked souls who usually hustled around behind the counter in the cafe were the first to lose their jobs.

My daughter picked up three books, two she needed for her AP classes in the coming school year.  The only great buy was 40% off of magazines.  I picked up one fitness magazine, one cooking magazine and three for writers.  My daughter found three for herself. 

The man who checked me out has worked at the store as long as I've shopped there.  I gave him my sympathy for the loss of his job.  He told me our store was actually a great money maker for Borders but it was going down with the rest of the ship.  He also gave me so hope by sharing the rumor that Books A Million might move into some of the stores spot that have had great performances. 

As we walked to the car, my daughter talked about how sad it was.  We can still drive for 25 minutes over crowded highways to visit the nearest Barnes and Noble but it won't be like having the bookstore ten minutes away.  The B&N has always been crowded and will be even more so now.  I won't retreat there to work on edits or my blogs when the homestead proves too distracting.  There are no coffee shops I know of to use as a quiet though public office.  It was sad.

Are you losing your local Borders?  Do you have a bookstore you visit for no other reason than the wondrous feeling of being surrounded by books?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Book In Hand

Most authors remember the thrill of holding their first book in their hand.  The UPS guy delivers that box packed with unmarked, perfectly new and untouched books with your name as the author.  They even smell good.  It was thrilling.

Today my sixth fantasy romance novel, Tiger's Mate, was released in ebook in April and today it came out in paperback.  I'm thrilled to have another one of my books in print and I'll be ordering some copies for myself tomorrow.  My publisher, New Concepts Publishing, is a small, but successful and well-established publisher.  Like most small, independent publishers, you won't find their books in the big stores.  Borders (if they're even in business later this week)  won't set up a signing for my romance novels.  With independent bookstores on the endangered list, it's more and more difficult to find venues to sell my print books.  That used to bother me.

I've grown past my need to see my book gracing the shelves in a bookstore, though I still love that, and come to the realization I make more money off the sales of ebooks.  And I don't need to search across three states to find a bookstore willing to set me up at a table inside the front door. The number of print books I'll sell won't pay my son's college tuition next year but each one is an extra little treat. I hope some people put it on their 'keeper' shelf.

As an author, do you see more of your earnings from ebooks or print?  Do you have a 'keeper' shelf for the books you want to keep and reread over and over again?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Guest Author: Elizabeth Mueller

Please welcome Elizabeth Mueller today as she talks about the characters in her upcoming release, Darkspell, and also take a glimpse into the writer behind the story.  Let's start with a few questions and don't forget to enter Elizabeth's super, wonderful contest for prizes a little bit out of this world.
How do you select names for your characters and do any of those names have a special meaning or origin for you?

I love the name Alex. In my opinion, it has that sexy, rugged feel to it. As for Winter, it feels fragile, beautiful and light. I do what feels right as I write.

You write YA. Are you hoping to provide a momentary escape or do you hope your readers receive something more from reading your novel?

I’m aiming for both! Though our trails weigh us down to the point of devastation, there is always hope. Always. I just love the freeing emotion of triumph after hardships.

Tell us something about your villain and what makes him or her interesting?

Ooh, the villain. He is a twisted, evil thing that shapeshifts into a demonic creature. He rules by magic and great power. Nothing stops him from hunting Winter down once he discovers her secret. Or had he always known?

Most readers want their heroes and heroines to take the high road. Can you give us an example from your novel where this happens?

Alex is forbidden to form a romantic relationship with Winter because of his obligation to his coven and her. He respects both, but can’t help his love for her. I show it through his obvious conflict that only appears to Winter as anger.

Writing for publication can be an uphill battle and often frustrating especially for someone as busy as you. How do you motivate yourself and what kept you going until you sold that first book?

My love for writing and the therapeutic escapism it provides me is potent enough for motivation. Going back over and over for revisions can be trying, especially when I would like to see results and get moving to the next book.

I would have to say that it is my sense of purpose. It feels like the right thing to do, to get my first book published. Getting there is a drive for me like waking up. It’s an integral part of who I am. If I stop, it would be like giving up on being a mother to my four children.

I won’t do that.

Can you give us a blurb about your novel and tell us when we can purchase it.

Winter Sky believes she is everything ordinary . . . until she is kissed by Alex Stormhold.

As seer of Stormhold Coven, Alex is sworn to be Winter’s protector against the darkness that hunts her. Violently thrust into a magical realm she always thought impossible, she stumbles upon a disturbing secret of her own.

Will love prove thicker than magic?

Darkspell’s release date is fall of 2011! You can keep up at my website. Here are the places where you can buy my books in the near future at:, the TreasureLine Books online bookstore, Barnes & Noble ebook and paperback, ebooks: B&N, Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Borders, Diesel, Sony, and Scrollmotion.

You will be able to order/reserve a personalized copy through my website soon!

Please join me in my celebration for Darkspell’s fall release all July long! A pre-book launch party if you will. Click here for details.

Thank you for visiting today, Elizabeth.  I hope all my followers will take time to enter the contest.  Leave a comment here and on Elizabeth's blog.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Large parts of the country are suffering from devastating droughts causing irreversible damage to this years' crop of fruits and vegetables.  Here in the northeast USA we had way too much rain in the spring but the last two weeks have been rather dry. I'm doing some watering nearly every day to help my plants survive though I'm leaving the poor lawn on its own.  I'm doing the minimum of care needed to keep my greenery alive during this minnie drought.

Writers sometimes enter droughts also.  Sometimes the muse abandons them or perhaps the world sticks its relentless turning into the time a writer sets aside to be creative.  Hopefully the drought lasts only a short time

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fix It and Forget It

I really enjoy blogging though I've had trouble commenting on some of my favorite blogs while I'm working on the old desktop. Blogger keeps insisting I have to sign in over and over again on any blogs that require verification letters.

I try to prepare the blogs for an entire week ahead of time, usually on Saturday or Sunday, and then schedule them.  Each day then I can spend time visiting other blogs and not worry about creating posts for my own.  I don't always get the entire week ready, especially if I have an event occurring I will want to post about.  But I do love when I have three or four blogs all ready to go.  It reminds me of my beloved crockpot. I fix them up and then forget them until the hour they're cooked and ready to consume.

Do you prepare multiple blog posts ahead of time? Do you use a verification code on your blog?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Visions During the Mindless

Most of us have chores we do where our minds are free to wander while our bodies do work.  Running, well slow jogging nowadays, has always been a time when my thoughts bounce randomly about.  Especially in the winter when my feet are more likely to be striking the unchanging surface of the treadmill rather than dodging traffic. 

This summer I've been doing most of the mowing on our acre plus lawn with a push mower as our tractor works in fits and spurts.  I love the exercise but I really like the mindless chore where my mind can work over problems in my writing, plan dinner and dream about making it big so I can hire someone to mow the hilly parts of the back lot. 

Two days ago I did some baking while the kids and my husband were all at work.  The house was blessedly quiet and I couldn't resist pulling out some receipes I'd saved to try.  Once everything is mixed together, I realized baking was one of those chores I only needed a part of my mind to do.  Some of my thoughts turned to the grim spector of my laptop sitting all alone in a repair shop but mostly I worked through my writing plans.

Vacuuming, laundry and other household chores are other pursuits I can do with half a thought.  Gardening and washing the car are some other outdoor activities that give me lots of time to think. 

I tell myself these mindless tasks are actually time spent on my writing.  What chores or activities do you do with half a thought for what your muscles are doing? 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Back to Work

The appliance repairman saved us.  With my boys home from college for the summer, we have six people filling the clothes hampers.  The very nice and efficient repairman took care of my washer problems in less than thirty minutes.  Somehow one of my headbands floated where it had no right to be and got stuck in the pump.  He took care of it though the headband didn't survive. It was my favorite one.  Still a small price to pay for getting the washer running.

And I took the laptop to the repair place.  They're going to call me in 3-5 days with a diagonisis.  Even if they can't fix it, they're sure they can save my data.  The helpful man who took my information said because I had a black screen instead of a blue screen, it might not be a crash but a virus.  Little beasties. I have a security program I paid good money for and I'm going to be unhappy if it failed me.

Still the blogging is going okay on the desktop and I'm working on another project off a zip drive so I'm not completely stalled out. 

If my cheap laptop isn't worth fixing, I'm thinking of what I'll replace it with.  Financially, I hoped to make it last one more year and then replace it with a MAC.  The repair shop had used MAC's for sale.  My first laptop was a MAC and I've wanted another one but the cost is prohibitive for me.

Are you a PC or a MAC?  How about some pros and cons for both?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Melt Down on Two Levels

I don't usually post a lot of personal stuff on this blog, but today is the exception. First I'll start with an apology to all my blogger friends I haven't visited yesterday or today or probably tomorrow.  I'm working from my ancient desktop Dell computer and for some reason every time I try to post a comment on a blog it asks me to sign in again and again and again. I can't figure it out unless it's blogger going berserk and if it is, it just tops off the last two days.

Yesterday I went about my morning chores while all kinds of plans lined up in my head.  First thing on the list was a visit to Barnes and Noble with my daughter.  The B&N isn't far away but it's on the other side of the city so it means dealing with a lot of traffic including a major road construction project near the store.  Usually we only visit there on weekends when hopefully the roads resemble a path to somewhere more than a parking lot.  But I am a school teacher which means I'm off for the summer and can go in the middle of a week day. Can't be too much traffic, right? People are at work.  So I started a load of laundry and we set off for the bookstore armed with over $50 in gift cards.  Apparently everyone working had a travel day because they were all on the road but we made it to the store with only a few frustrations.

We spent a lovely hour with our coffees and teas, found some books by authors new to me.  Fun times.  We fought the traffic home again. I intended to finish the laundry but when I opened the lid I found it still full of water.  No agitating, no, spinning and no pumping the water out.  Some of you offered your sympathy when I had trouble with my dryer over the winter so feel free to give a little more.  Called the repairman and tried not to think of how much this would cost. 

Actually I felt a little freedom, knowing I couldn't do any laundry. So I sat down to work on that WIP.  Turned on the old(seriously old) laptop and it appeared to be starting up. But no, it gave me a black screen.  What the heck?  Restarted.  Black screen.  Restarted in safe mode.  Black screen.  Black to match my mood.  Of course I had all my documents backed up except the one I was working on.  Grrrr.....

So the two most used machines in our house, my laptop and the washer, took the crash and burn route today. I'm going to try to keep up on my blog and visit my friends but difficulties may arise.  My washer and dryer are on the second floor, right outside the bedroom, and my laptop lives on the first floor.  Somehow the combined catastrophes didn't melt down the house though my temper nearly created some flames. 

What was your worse computer quirk?  What machine can't you do without in your house? Do you work from more than one computer?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th

And I am happy.  The economy is slamming most of us and too many of my former students are in foreign unfriendly places.  My profession, teaching, is under attack by many politicians as usual when money gets tight. My children are facing challenges I never had to and I worry they may never be able to afford the physical comforts to their future children that my husband and I provided for them. 

But I still feel like I live in a great country with more opportunities than any where else in the world. My son and I watched a soccer game where the USA women trounced Columbia.  My son had watched the women play before and said our ladies are mostly faster and stronger than their opponents.  But what other country provides the opportunity for their young women to start at an early age and compete at any level they can manage?

So happy birthday, USA, I love ya.  Thanks to those who work to keep her strong and growing.  Thanks to our wonderful friends at our borders and across the big pond for having our backs when we really need you. Happy July 4th to all.