Saturday, October 10, 2009

Promotion 101 - While Giving Back!

After my first book came out, I thought the book would just miraculously fly off bookshelves by itself—that everyone would just magically know it came out. Right? Nope! The most surprising part for me about publishing a book came in the form of Promotion! Eeek. Just the thought made me uncomfortable. How do I get out there and ask people to buy my book?

Once the book hit the shelves, I started learning quickly that a book needs to be promoted in order for it to be successful. And I learned that promotion is simply a way to get your story out to more people. Where to begin? I brainstormed and found creative ways to promote my story while still giving back to those that have helped me throughout my writing journey. Here are a few things I started with:

Participate in blogs. I started guest blogging on a few author sites. It’s a great way to get involved with other writers and readers! And it’s fun. I participated in group chats and Q&A sessions. I also started my own blog and began hosting other writers as well! What a great way to network and give support to other writers.
  • Donate your book. I donated copies of my book for contest prizes and to my local library. If the library didn’t have my book on the shelf, this was a good way to help get it there.
  • Write for a newsletter. For my local writing group’s newsletter, I wrote articles. I tried to figure out topics that I thought other writers might be interested in. The newsletter staff appreciated the help and you’ll find it rewarding to give back to the writing group.
  • Do a chat. The library I grew up with gave me so much—the books that sparked my dream of being a writer and provided me with endless summer days of being swept away happened in that library. I contacted them and asked if I could do a chat about how that part of my life led to me publishing a book. From this, they asked me to talk to the middle school kids about writing and accomplishing a dream. What an honor and feeling of accomplishment. The look on these kids faces alone, the possibility that they, too, could reach their dreams was priceless! Also, I donated back the books sales to the library to be used in a new children’s program that would help other aspiring writers.
  • Local book signings. Tell your story to others in the form of book signings. Don’t just go for the big guys either. Find your local independent book stores too. It gives you an opportunity to talk to the people in your community.
  • Give your time to your writing group. If you are part of a writing group, such as a local chapter of Romance Writer’s of America, see where you can donate your time, from organizing events to conference preparation, or possibly being a judge in a writing contest. See where you talent can make a difference and go for it!
Whatever you decide to do, have fun with it. Be proud of your accomplishments!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Welcome Lorhainne Eckhart!

Please welcome author Lorhainne Eckhart to my blog today! She tells us what her favorite scene is in The Captain's Lady. And it includes an excerpt below! Thanks for joining us today, Lorhainne.

My Favorite Scene

My favorite Scene is when Abby is first rescued. As she is lowered to the deck unconscious hurt, battered and in desperate need of help. She lay there submerged somewhere in a semi-conscious state, as she is drawn back to the present. As she opens her eyes, confusion clouds her awareness, as Captain Eric Hamilton leans over her and for a moment she believes he is an angel.

Slowly her awareness returns as the Captain transforms before her, wearing a military uniform surrounded by his crew.

She is hurt and confused. And Abby fears being caught once again from the man she escaped from, who held her captive for a year. Abby is overwhelmed when Eric tells her she has been rescued and is on a US Navy Destroyer.

The Excerpt below:

“It’s going to be okay.”

His words were soothing and filled with hope.

Eric watched the flow of emotions, stunned by the magnificence of her baby blue eyes. They reminded him of the clear blue ocean of some of the cleanest southern waters he had ever seen.

Only there was fear lurking in those eyes.

“Are you an angel?”

“Oh that’s one he’s definitely not been called before.” The muttered words came from one of the crewmembers, and were followed by resounding snickers from the crew hovering behind.
Smiling at the obvious disillusionment, he rasped a steady hand over the rough growth of beard that insisted on appearing so early in the day. “I’m Captain Hamilton with the US Navy;
you’re aboard my ship, the USS Larsen. We recovered your dinghy off the starboard bow. Can
you tell me how long you were out there? Where you came from?”

The unmasked confusion in those fragile eyes turned to desperation. “The United States Navy?”

The emotion in her voice was heartbreaking as tears spilled over, slowly tracing a path down the sides of her face.

Blurb: The Captain’s Lady

Captain Eric Hamilton is a powerful force in the U.S. Navy, having earned himself a reputation of being a hard-nosed chauvinist. He’s commander of the USS Larsen, a destroyer, currently deployed in the Persian Gulf during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Abby Carlton has just escaped from the man who held her captive for a year. Abducted while travelling in Paris, she was given to an Arab man as a gift, until one night she makes her desperate escape.

While on patrol one morning Captain Eric Hamilton discovers a dinghy floating aimlessly. Abby is found, battered and in an advanced state of pregnancy, lying in the bottom of the dinghy. From the moment she lay on the deck of his ship her innocence finds a way to penetrate his hardened heart. But time is running out. Eric is falsely accused of sexual assault and the CIA wants Abby and the baby for bait to flush out her captor.

: The Captain’s Lady

Captain Eric Hamilton is a powerful force in the U.S. Navy, having earned himself a reputation of being a hard-nosed chauvinist. He’s commander of the USS Larsen, a destroyer, currently deployed in the Persian Gulf during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Abby Carlton has just escaped from the man who held her captive for a year. Abducted while travelling in Paris, she was given to an Arab man as a gift, until one night she makes her desperate escape.

While on patrol one morning Captain Eric Hamilton discovers a dinghy floating aimlessly. Abby is found, battered and in an advanced state of pregnancy, lying in the bottom of the dinghy. From the moment she lay on the deck of his ship her innocence finds a way to penetrate his hardened heart. But time is running out. Eric is falsely accused of sexual assault and the CIA wants Abby and the baby for bait to flush out her captor.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Welcome Special Guest Diane Craver

Special Guest Author Diane Craver tells us how she creates strong female characters! Leave a comment and one randonly drawn winner will receive an autographed copy of Never the Same and a $5 Amazon gift card.

How to Create Strong Female Characters

My novels are emotional reads with inspirational overtones and some humor thrown in the mix. In all my books I like to integrate family into each romantic plot. My daughters have been my inspiration in writing strong, moral, intelligent, and independent female characters.

When I wrote my chick-lit mystery, A Fiery Secret, I based the feisty investigative reporter, Catherine Steel, on my daughter Christina. Although Christina felt the character was actually a ombination of her and two of her sisters. She could be right. My family loves to analyze my characters! I don’t want to give too much away about the plot, but will say that Catherine saves herself from a very sticky situation by using her brain. A secondary character, Miranda, is based on my daughter Amanda who was born with Down syndrome. Although Miranda and Amanda have limitations, within those limitations both girls are bright. Miranda does something in the book that is crucial to the plot. I can see Amanda doing the same thing in a real life situation.

Dr. Jennifer Hunter is a successful psychologist and a popular radio host in my inspirational romance, No Greater Loss. She survives big crises that a weaker woman would never be able to handle. In Never the Same, Kimberly Collins manages to get a distressed child and a teenager, Tori, off the plane before it explodes. Kimberly is not afraid to make drastic changes in her life after surviving the crash. In many ways, April has the same nurturing and competent personality as Kimberly. I used Emily’s soccer background and academic achievements in writing Tori’s character.

By the way, a lot of my characters are not based on family members, but they become so real to me that they seem like family.

My main character Whitney in my new release, Whitney in Charge, was not inspired by anyone I know. But like my other characters, Whitney is also a resilient female. In spite of her horrific loss, she's able to fall in love again. Whitney's sisters, Shannon and Regan, add humor to the story.

Writers: Who inspires you when you write your female characters? Do you base any on a mother, daughter, sister-in-law, aunt, or friend?

Readers: Do you like your female characters to be rescued by the heroes or do you like them to survive dangerous situations as an equal to the hero?

Blurb for Whitney in Charge

Whitney Benson is tired of her older sisters’ attempts to fix her up with every single male they meet. Shannon and Regan cross the line when they arrange for her to go skydiving with the simple excuse that more guys like to float in the air than women. Whitney needs to find something else to keep them busy.

When she suggests that the three of them start a family business, the fun begins in their small town. And she thought being a TV producer in New York had been exciting.

Without going skydiving, Whitney meets two eligible bachelors, Jack and Ben, who constantly battle for her affection. Which one will she choose? Both men make Whitney realize, even a heart shattered by her husband’s death, can once again be made whole.

But did she have to fall off a cliff to learn that?

Excerpt for Whitney in Charge

“It’s time for you to overcome your fear of flying.” Shannon took a bite of shrimp. “We want to go to Hawaii sometime. Remember how we promised Mom we would? Just the three of us.”

Whitney shrugged. “That’s different. I can fly to Hawaii without doing skydiving first.”

“I don’t think so.” Regan scooped a heaping spoonful of chow mien onto her plate. “You drove me crazy when we flew to Wisconsin for Aunt Martha’s funeral. You had such terrible anxiety attacks.”

Why did she have to have such stubborn sisters? The last thing she felt like doing was something stupid like skydiving, but she knew they’d never give up on her. They always thought they knew best because they were older and married. Big deal they were a bit older. Shannon just turned thirty-nine, and at thirty-four Regan was only three years older than Whitney.

Shannon nudged Regan, grinning with her eyebrows arched high. “Tell her about Jack.”

Regan shook her head. “Not a good idea.”

“Who’s Jack? Another skydiver?” Whitney asked.

“He’s a paramedic and single. He’s worked with Casey, but Jack’s not a firefighter. He’s not interested in meeting you.” Regan gave Whitney an apologetic shrug. “Sorry. It’s a shame because Jack’s a dead ringer for Matthew McConaughey.”

Shannon raised her eyebrows. “What did Casey tell Jack about Whitney?”

“Not enough obviously,” Regan said. “But I’ll─”

“No.” Whitney put her hand on Regan’s arm. “Don’t say anything. I don’t want to go out with someone who feels pressured.” She grinned. “Although resembling McConaughey might change my mind.”

Find out more about Diane at

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Inside my world of a Book Review

As writers, one of the most incredible things that happen in the world of publishing is to get a review on your book that takes your breath away. And it happened to me this week! Two nights ago, I opened my email to find that Long and Short Reviews reviewed "A Daughter's Promise". After reading the review, I couldn't sleep that night. Getting a book contract felt like winning an Academy Award, so I would equate the feeling of getting a great review to being inducted into the Hall of Fame somewhere! Thanks so much LASR for reviewing my work! Click here if you'd like to read the review.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stop and Smell the Roses Blog Bouquet - Winner!

We have a winner of an ebook copy of "A Daughter's Promise"! Congratulations to Jana Richards. Jana, please email me at and I can send the book to you!

Thanks to everyone that left comments and stopped by the Stop and Smell the Roses Blog Bouquet! It was a fun day and the comments were great!

Don't forget to go after your dreams!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Stop and Smell the Roses Blog Bouquet

Thanks for stopping on the Tour!

If you're looking for the next stop on the Stop and Smell the Roses Blog Bouquet, you've made it! Its a blog tour sponsored by the authors of The Wild Rose Press. Twenty authors, twenty blogs, and twenty prizes! At every stop of the tour, leave a comment and you'll be entered to win a prize from that author.

Find the Bouquet in your Life

We each have our own bouquets in life, made up of individual people who give us love and support, and play different roles along our journey. Put together, their "bouquet" enriches our lives and helps make us strong.

When we're born, we start out with the stems of our bouquet--our parents, brothers and sisters, and family. They are the root of us, the root of who we are. They are our foundation and the ones that show us the right way to grow and take care of ourselves. Then as we get older, and find our way through college and first jobs, we collect even more flowers through the friendships we make, work relationships, neighbors, and all the people we come to share our lives with.

As our life progresses, our bouquet gets bigger and more vibrant and abundant. Along the way, we learn that sometimes a stem will be with us our entire lives, while others may be with us for just the time we need them, or the time they need us. But no matter how small the connection, they can make an impact on us that lasts out entire lives.

Thinking through the tragic events from this week, I realized that Michael Jackson's awe-inspiring talent is part of my own bouquet. (Not just the fact that when I was twelve years old, I declared that I was going to marry him and we'd have three children!) But every time I listened to his songs, I danced, sang along, and always--always felt inspired. Years later, when I sit down to write a new story, but I'm not feeling motivated, it is the inspiration and go-get'em attitude of others, like Michael Jackson, that have touched my life and taught me how to get going. Whenever I hear one of his songs now, they bring back memories of being inspired and feeling as if I can tackle the Great American Novel. And as I learn more about his legacy through TV broadcasts and the news, I realize all of the lives his talent has impacted. It gets me thinking about how truly important it is to share ourselves with others--our dreams, our hopes, and our fears.

Think about your own bouquet. Who is it in your life that inspires you? Cares for you? Supports you? Find your bouquet, and hold onto it. Take a deep breathe in and don't forget to take time to enjoy its beauty.

A random drawn winner of a commenter on this blog will win an e-book of "A Daughter's Promise". See for an excerpt and trailer. Winner announced tomorrow morning here! Stay tuned.

Now....On to the Next Tour Stop

Please check out all the authors on the tour. Don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a prize!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sneaky Writers- Everyday Moments as Inspiration by Sandy Lender

Please welcome special Guest, fantasy author Sandy Lender!

Some of you may have heard me say this before. Writers are sneaky people. Terry Brooks says of writers in his book SOMETIMES THE MAGIC WORKS: “Much of what happens around us goes into a storage bin in our minds for future consideration and possible use in a book down the line. What we observe is as important to us in determining what we write as what we know.”

When you’re around a writer, you need to watch your p’s and q’s (that’s pints and quarts to the English majors among us). Writers use everyday stuff that you might not think is intriguing and turn it into a plot device or bit of dialogue. If it happens in front of us, it’s fair game. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the presence of a non-fiction memoir-writer or a sci-fi/fantasy geek like me who makes up worlds that you could never envision a simple grocery store conversation ending up in. Oh, yes. Imagine my poor mom’s surprise to learn that a certain embarrassing moment from the early ’80s ended up in print.

I put this story on my brand spankin’ new Web site at, but I’ll share it here again because it’s so bizarre…and…well…Mom doesn’t read these things so I figure it’s safe. He he.

I was probably 12 or 13. Innocent. Na├»ve. We were in the check-out lane at the grocery store and I stared mindlessly at the tabloids. The headline on one about discussing a sensitive topic with your teens struck me as odd, so I turned to Mom at the other end of the buggy and asked, loudly, “Mom, what’s virginity?” Of course I mispronounced it. Long “I” on the “jine.” Virjinety.

Some people around us snickered, hiding their faces from my blushing mother. She leaned forward and said, lowly, “I’ll tell you in the car.”


Years later, that recalled scene struck me as funny, and I knew the young, precocious version of Amanda Chariss, the heroine in the CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS trilogy, had to pull some such stunt on her wizard guardian Hrazon. (I figured Hrazon would forgive me for it.) But the scene would have to be a flashback because my lovely Chariss is 20 years old when we meet her in CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS. She knows what virginity is.

So I wrote a scene from Chariss and Hrazon’s early travels laced with a little danger due to Chariss’s age and the condition of Onweald’s social system, but it just didn’t fit in the novel. There wasn’t a place to put it. Yet it was so charming that I wasn’t content to delete and forget it. I wanted to share it with the readers who had fallen in love with Chariss. I pulled it into a short story called “Joveran Border Crossing” for my short story chapbook WHAT CHOICES WE MADE.

That’s how an embarrassing moment for my mom ended up in print in a fantasy story more than two decades later. Seems so easy, doesn’t it? These situations happen daily for writers. We see something that may seem ordinary or mundane to everybody else, but it’s story fodder for us. When you see one of us whip out a notepad and start scribbling like mad, you know something’s going in the storage bin for a future book.

Thank you for checking in on the tour today, and please don’t tell my mom this is on the ’net again. He he.

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

Choices Meant for Gods - Blurb

Not even the gods noticed when Chariss was born with the mark of The Protector. Now she and her wizard guardian seek shelter from a mad sorcerer in a household not just full of secrets and false hope, but watched by the god who will unwittingly reveal her role in an impending war.

When an orphan sets aside a lifetime of running and fear to accept the responsibilities of guarding an arrogant deity, can she face the trials in the prophecies she uncovers? Will Nigel Taiman of her latest refuge dare to use his dragon heritage to bind her to his estate or to help her in her duty?

Thank you Sandy for stopping by! Please check out Sandy's other blog tour stops here. Sandy will be giving away an autographed hard cover, first edition of Choices Meant for Gods each week of her tour to one commenter! Good luck!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Can you Smell that Story?

So the other day I was pulling into my favorite coffee place (Dunkin of course!) and all of a sudden, WHAM!, a memory brought me smack back down to the middle of my 10th grade science class. I was sitting next to --well, I can't remember his name at the moment, but he was my lab partner. And very cute too. But one small problem. We had a dead frog laying on his back on the table in front of us, and my lab partner had the scalpel in his hand and the expectation that I would make the second cut. I know exactly what you're thinking..... Iced hazelnut, skim milk, and one sugar reminds you of dissecting a frog in high school?


When I pulled through the drive up, I had both windows and the moon roof open--and then it hit me. The Smell. The same exact smell of the cleaner or antiseptic or whatever the science teacher used to clean the desks, floor, and all the areas around where the frog dissection took place. I don't know the name of the cleanser, or really what exactly they used, but I hope you get the picture. But I do remember one thing. That smell evoked such a strong memory in me that I was transported back to a time that took place more than twenty years ago.

The whole frog experience made such a strong connection with me because that day in the science lab was attached to an emotion, maybe even more than one. Anger. Stubborness. Disgust. I refused to dissect the frog. In fact, I think my mom even had to go to the school because I would not even consider the idea of touching it.

Even though that was an off-the-wall example, it basically describes the same process with fiction writing. When we create a powerful scene, and really in all the scenes we write, we attach emotion. But, to evoke the memorable story-gripping emotion, we have to use the five senses... smell, hearing, touch, taste and vision. That way, the reader can connect an emotion to the scene like I connected that smell to the battle I had about dissecting the frog.

Yes, I could "see the frog" but how did I feel about my experience with the frog? So here goes. If I had to put my experience with the frog according to the senses, this is what it would read like:

  • Smell: Hazy antiseptic-like odor shot up my nasal passages with the fierceness of poison.
  • Hear: The incessant beat of my heart quickened, drumming thickly in my ears.
  • Touch: My hands were paralyzed, unable, unwilling to embrace the idea of touching the frog's slick coat.
  • Taste: A tasteless lump formed in the back of my throat.
  • Vision: Lifeless frog, spread like an eagle. (okay that may be a little hokey pokey, but you get the picture!)
When the smell of antiseptic hit me, it didn't matter where I was. Being in a line for coffee was a casualty. I could have been anywhere and the smell would have evoked the same emotion! And if we're lucky, our readers will remember our stories the same way-- a long time after closing the book.

I did enjoy my iced coffee after the drive-thru, and I had a nice time remembering my lab partner. ;)

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Saying Goodbye--Letting our Characters into the World

Nope, this isn't about saying goodbye to my blog. This is about saying goodbye to characters in our stories. You know the ones. Through the course of your book, you've gotten to know them. After all, you made up their lives! You gave them a name, gave them a way to talk, and showed them how to act. But after a while, the tables turn, don't they? They begin to show you how they want to act, and talk, and interact with other characters. Just like bringing a child up in the world, our characters take on their own identity, and some of the things they do surprise us. They take us through the twists and turns of their conflicts, resolutions and happily ever afters.

As you grow a relationship with these heroes, heroines, and ultimate bad guys, your compassion and unconditional love for them develops and thickens through the course of the story. They become part of your family. You live and breathe their actions as you pursue your word count for the day. The words we use to describe them on the page transform into living, breathing people. They even talk to you at all odd hours of the night. And you know every one of their thoughts.. You do help them make decisions, but primarily its their personalities that drive the story--their hangups and their strong points.

But somehow, as the story winds down, and the time nears for them to launch their story to the world, they don't need you to help them along the way. Once you write "The End", they want to say goodbye for good. Part of us wants to hold on, and never let them out into the world, but the other part of us wants to scream to readers "I hope you love them as much as I do!".

As writers, we miss the friends we create. But its the readers who keep them alive, by their interest and the emotion they feel from our stories. At book signings and author events, we can talk about our characters and re-live our time with them through the eyes of our readers. That is one of the greatest joys of being a writer. We get to grow characters, set them out to the world, and then experience the joy others have found in them.

And then....and then we get to start over again and get to know the new characters in town. :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Writing is Like a Jug of Water

Being a writer is like a jug of water. Sounds funny, huh? But it’s true for me. The water in the jug resembles story ideas that are in my head. When the jug is full, writing comes easily. Characters, setting and dialogue flow onto the page. I don’t use a plot or outline, so one idea will lead into the next throughout the story.

But where do my ideas come from to keep that jug full? Watching people’s expressions, smiles, the way they move. Listening to conversations. A lot of ideas can come from simply sitting in a coffee shop. Once an idea strikes, I’ll jot it down anywhere, including the back of bill envelopes and various sticky pads throughout the house. If I’m driving the kids to soccer, stopping at the gas station, or stuck in traffic, I use a notebook in the glove compartment. In a nutshell, I use any paper I can find.

Keeping track of these papers and stickies gets tricky, but if it’s a good blurb, piece of dialogue, or scene sketch, I always remember where I wrote it. I may forget where I left my car keys five minutes earlier, but a really great story idea is like a first love. You never forget it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring Clean your Writing Time

Spring cleaning isn't just for windows. Why would anyone want to clean windows when the weather is just getting beautiful enough to take your notebook to the park? And while winter is turning into spring, it's also about the right time to give our writing-base New Year's resolutions a good scrubbing. Yes, it's a perfect time to spring clean not just our writing habits, but also re-discover time for writing that we might have used doing other things. Or maybe for you, it may be a time to organize your writing materials so you can get to them easier.

First of all, roll up your sleeves and take a good, hard look at your day, and then clean out those pockets…pockets of time I mean. A pocket could be a lunch hour at work, or possibly the twenty minutes it takes for the pizza to be delivered.But sometimes our time is so filled up with other stuff, it may take a little juggling (i.e.,
as PTA dinner dance volunteer, you’re signed up to hand write 400 place cards AND decorate the ballroom). If you’re like me, you’ve got a family, career, and pets that count on you, and even ten minutes alone is rare. Be creative! Try different ways to reclaim those pockets of time, such as carpooling, job sharing, volunteering for only one event, etc. And when you do discover your own pockets, you’ll find it’s just enough time to jot down an idea for a story, add a paragraph or two to your work in progress, and most importantly, keep you moving toward your dream. Dust off and organize those writing materials and find out what you absolutely need to be in your work area to be productive. For me, coffee. Printed outline. Research book for the scene I’m working on. Music CD. And of course, chocolate. I put the rest on the bookshelf in an easily accessible area. For the “this-is-nice-but-I-never-look-at stuff”, I piled it in one of those big green plastic tubs you can get at any home store. After all that, I took a deep, cleansing breath and felt rejuvenated—and most of all I felt ready to write! I cleaned away all my frustrations of not finding papers, re-writes, research materials, etc. The best part? I found a half hour pocket of time I would have normally used just to get ready to write.

Finally, see the results of your hard work shine by tracking your progress. Any wall or desk calendar will do. Just jot down your word count for the day in each square, and then total it up for the week. Voila! Who knew that cleaning out a few pockets and reorganizing your work space could bring you that much closer to your dream?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Authors Day at Chris Redding's Blog

Today, for new post Thursday, I'm visiting author Chris Redding's blog spot for her Authors Day interview. Since Chris' motto is "Take a wild ride with a Chris Redding book", you know you'll enjoy visiting! Lots of questions, lots of fun!

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

How to Organize your Writing like you Organize your Taxes

Yikes! Did that title just say writing is like taxes? Can that be true? Yes!

When we think of the word taxes, or filling out fax forms, some of us may get itchy, or maybe even downright sweaty. Then let’s think of writing. Ahh. Writing. Just the word alone soothes the senses.

What could possibly be similar between writing a novel and sending out taxes? It comes down to one word: organization. Keeping tax information easily available helps you complete a tax return each April 15, right? Well, having a good system for organizing writing tools helps you to prepare a manuscript for submission. And the payoff is big. A good tax return could send you to a tropical island for a week, but submitting a manuscript could land your name on the cover of a book!

Can you imagine? Your name on the cover of a book. Take a second to think about that before reading on. It does the soul good.

Just like paying taxes throughout the year in the form of property, mortgage, and everyday purchases, you give bits to your writing all the time in order to complete a story. These bits come in different forms: actual writing, critique groups, writing classes, writing group meetings, etc. Organizing all of these bits puts you that much closer to achieving your goal.

Here’s a few ways to help you get organized and get your name on that cover.

Keep receipts. Like a receipt folder, keep a notebook of how many words you put in. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. It’s up to you. A receipt is like a badge of honor; each one brings you a little closer to your goal. If you’re like me, you like to watch your progress unfold. Find a small (but pretty, of course!) notebook. Enter the date and the number of words written. For me, it works the best if I have a pre-determined number of pages I want to get done that day. Others may want to log the word count. And still for others, simply writing “I wrote today” works. Whichever method you choose brings you closer to the payoff.

Keep track of statements. Instead of a financial statement at the end of the year, you can keep a log of where you’ve submitted manuscripts and queries. You can create this log using any word processing software, such as Microsoft Word. In a table format, include headings such as Where Sent, Date, Date Returned, Contract Info, Comments. This simple log allows you to keep track of all your writing submissions, including novels, short stories, etc. Don’t forget to add one more column, Date you got the Call (you need to add that one with a smile).

Estimate your return. Just like you can estimate your tax return, if you organize your writing plan around the time you feel most creative, you’ll be able to estimate your payoff (how many words/pages you can write in a specific timeframe). For example, if you feel stronger and more creative in the morning hours, try to work your schedule so the bulk of your writing time is during those hours. For a few weeks, make a mental note of how you feel when you sit down to write. Do you feel full of creativity? Or do you feel so-so? You can keep track using the 1 to 5 method. At a 1 level, you couldn’t write “Hi Mom” on the paper without struggling. At a 5 level, you can tackle the topic of World Peace, then write three chapters. For me, mid-morning is when the juice really flows. Since the evening hours are a level 1 to 2, I try to do some editing or planning the next day’s chapter. Whatever time you decide on, go for it and get the most from your return!

Find a good accountant. In a nutshell, an accountant keeps track of your tax liabilities and encourages you to make good investments for a healthy financial future. The same goes with writing. Find someone who supports your passion for writing. This could be a critique partner, writing mentor, family member, or someone in your local writing group. Take advantage of your local RWA chapter to see if they have a list of available critique partners. Or find a writing buddy to have lunch or coffee with once in a while. Finding a support system can energize every ounce of your writing.

Enjoy your Return. Like a tax return, you get writing rewards back a hundred fold. Maybe not in a lump check, but in ways like a wonderful critique session, a good chat online with other authors, or a contest win. All of these “wins” help on your road to publication. The bottom line? If your tax return isn’t big enough to send you to Hawaii for the week, you can always use that time to start a new manuscript. Keep writing!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"A Daughter's Promise" is being Roasted!


Just a quick note that "A Daughter's Promise" is on the grill at the Book Roast blog site. If you have a minute, stop by to see the roasting! AND if you leave a post, you enter the drawing to win a copy of "A Daughter's Promise". How cool is that!

Come visit me at the Book Roast.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What A Good Day Means

There is nothing on this earth like having a day doing the thing you love the most. Besides spending time with your spouse, kids, and pets (of course they’re number one!), think about the next most important thing that makes you happy. Maybe riding the waves at the beach? Playing in a band? Watching your favorite football team? We all have our unique interests—our passions—the very things that give our souls a voice. For me, it’s writing stories. When I’m writing, hours pass by with the speed of a minute.

Sometimes as we grow up, and gather many more responsibilities, we forget what we love doing the most. A half hour to play guitar may seem unrealistic when your daughter needs to be driven to ballet, then soccer, and then dinner. Sound familiar? The key is to be creative. For example, during your busiest days of the week, you plan to play the guitar for ten minutes, and then maybe an hour on another day. Figure out a schedule and put it on your calendar. If you need more prodding, remember how you feel when your fingers hit those guitar strings.

In the last few years, I’ve been able to slowly cut down on my work schedule to give me more time to write. I also try to use those nooks and crannies of the day, which include lunch hours, getting up a little early, or the few minutes before the school bus comes.

The important thing is remember your passion, remember what makes you happy and make time for it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Poets of Our Time

Once in a while, when the earth and moon align the right way, life brings you together with new acquaintances, who quickly turn into friends. I’ve had the pleasure recently of getting to know two people, Jessica Keck and Rene Marie Rogers, who I have learned are exceptional poets. I wanted to take this week’s blog to show you their work. They interpreted a short story of mine (Center Lane), and put its essence into poetry. So, sit back, grab a cup of coffee andindulge is some great words.

Thank you Jessica and Rene for sharing your thoughts.


by Jessica Keck, copyright 2009

Nothing makes the blade of your mind as sharp as betrayal

Dulling your conscious thought of wrong and right

Before they came to fill you with light

You were stranded, waiting in the tribunal

Breathing in, breathing out; so small a trip

One step, two steps, down the center lane

As you carry the coffer of your soul

Sounds faded and vision blurred

Allowing your deliverance to bear the torn scream of, “YES! This day it will start!”

And so it did

So subtly did it have you consumed

So blatantly cavalier was your assurance

Of the day you would hold them forever

Yes! Forever, they are yours.

No matter their deeds, no matter their lies

The bars of a prison are seen from both sides

Feeling so cold and smooth

As you must remember to be

Here you are, stranded again

Oh, but not for long; lose the couth

Mark every breath, measure every step

Embrace the repetition of that last scene

You know the one

The very one that gleaned the birth of vengeance

Now the strands of inner fury weave the stillness of your movements

You will not leave the stranded

Take your turn in the center lane

Swiftly running to demand it

Smells are pungent, noises are amplified

Again time stands perfectly still

Cajoling your conscience – you are sane

Ba-bump. Ba-bump.

Two hearts now stranded

As the rivers of life’s elixir recede into the night

Forever entwined


by Rene Marie Rogers, Copyright 2009

Time stands still

Animated suspence

Physical existence fades

Hell to pay, but it's just too late

I've chosen

My will exercised and




In this capitalized state

Where she's not mine

And I

Gave my life*

For her freedom


See the blinding hate once obscuring my scutinizing eye from

The intense radiance of hope

Glistening listening coloring the the bitter ocean

I am but a fetus

I feed this agony fearcicles

As hate juice melts, trickles and sets in

Like love potion pollution

Making my epidermis crawl in matrix motion*


Familiar resembling the likes of mundane miracles like

The dichotomy of panic in silence

Followed by the amazing awful breathtaking

Hello world wail*

At deliverance

Of the grandest commander in miniature form

Welcomed, resented

Worshiped, tormented or praised

Raised to be what you can only imagine for now


Life happens

Again passing you by

That prowling thief in the night

Stealing presence

Here becomes there

Now then

Once again

Here it comes


Is screaming

Pulsations violently streaming and leaping bounded beats

Only the tin man would kill for

Staccato sensations

Every vein wasted

Inebriated on poisonous sin

Swollen with anger yet barren within

I lie still


Mind against fusion of oneness with all*

Hate's tall order overtaken by a short order of small


In this fight

What I've done is wrong

Dear god for the sake of right

Forgive me

I am still

Catatonic but racing inside these rapid collapsing skins

Giving in

Living and breathing

Desiring an end


My breath feels much stronger

Yet the senses give in

I'm dying a terrifying


Despising the game


Can't help but cry

Releasing hollow howling winds of confusion*



Am I


It's suicide

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Being Swept Away

Have you ever been swept away by a story? Swept away to the point that it’s torture to put the book down to make dinner? Maybe a juicy love story? Or a spine tingling suspense?

You know it right when you read the first page. Hook, Line, and Sinker. The story literally grabs onto your adrenaline and doesn’t let go!

Almost every one of LaVryle Spencer's books took hold of me in that way. I spent one whole summer reading book after book written by her. We even went on a road trip that summer to New England and I didn't want to get out of the car for a break! I couldn't get enough! I felt like I literally was in each of the story lines. And by the end of each story, I had become family with these characters. The love story between Lorna Barnett and Jens Harkens in "November of the Heart" took my breath away.

Do you remember the last story that swept you away? Like any other defining moment in your life, I’ll bet you can remember exactly where you were when it happened. That is the most incredible part of reading a great book.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Liberty States Fictions Writers

When you have a craft, such as writing, its so exciting when you find an outlet--a place where you can share your interests with other people doing the same thing. When you use terms such as POV or head hopping, people don't think you're talking a crazy lingo! When characters talk to you, you find these other people have voices in their heads too. And THAT is awesome. For me, I like to go to a group with scheduled meetings, a regular time that I can talk with other writers and swap accomplishments, advice, and the latest news on different stories. It's like a shot in the arm of motivation.

So, recently, when I found out about a new writing group, Liberty Fiction Writers Group, I was so inspired. The tagline on the front page of their website hooked me right in....

Create Something Magical

That's my purpose in be a part of something that is open to writers of different genres, and is creative and fun! That is my kind of group.

The Liberty writers (NJ, NY and PA) meet once a month to hear speakers, share knowledge and inspire each other. Their initial meeting happened in early January and they have a lineup of great events throughout the year. For more information, check out their website at Liberty Fiction Writers Group.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

2009- The Year for YOU

So many resolutions, so little time! As I was putting up my new wall calendar for 2009, I read the anonymous quote on the bottom of the page for January:

"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going."

How true! Think about your past. Any of our goals and dreams--we had to work hard to get there. There are no shortcuts. A perfect example from a movie is Rocky. His boxing was his life, but he realized that not only did he have to surpass all obstacles to win the fight, but he had to have the heart to do it. And there weren't any shortcuts. Hard work and determination--and a lot of sweat! But was it worth it for him? Look at this face at the end of the fight. Bloodied, sure. Physically exhausted, absolutely. But the shine of "I did it" in his eyes surpassed any of the physical stuff. He did it.

And we can do it too! Going into 2009, think about your resolutions and come up with a plan. Even if you don't like the term resolution, think of it as new way to approaching things. If you haven't decided or thought about what you'd like to do in the New Year, here are a few things to get you on your way:
  • Explore different books Whether its reading a new genre or picking a new author. Anything new that you've been interested in. Go to the library and grab a book in a different genre that you haven't read. If you usually read mysteries, grab a sci fi or any other story that looks interesting!
  • Try a new hobby.Go ice skating! Or any other activity that you may/may not have done before, and have always wanted to try. You'll probably have to train first and practice, but the feeling of gliding on the ice is priceless! Or go bowling, teach your kids a card game, put a bird feeder on your deck and try to identify the birds. Remember what you loved to do as a kid? Try it again! All of these things get you going...get your creative juices going and bring you into 2009 with a good outlook!
  • Start a journal. Get a notebook and jot down thoughts. Maybe once a day, two times a week, whatever you're comfortable with. A journal usually can unveil things you're interested in! If you journal the things you're thankful for, or just journal about everything things, you may be able to figure out what your true interests are. And if you're interested in writing, things in your journal can be used as story seedlings.
Dream a little, figure out where you want to go for 2009 and do it! I'd love to hear what you decide.