Monday, December 19

Happy Holidays!

Sorry I haven't been around in a while. My to-do list combined with my annual end-of-year laziness, has not made for a very productive cocktail. I will return in the New Year ready to go, but in the meantime, I wish you all a wonderful Holiday, and Happy New Year!

Monday, November 28

Yes, I am that loser...

It's been FOREVER, I know, and I will fix that soon I promise! I have a blog away to accept as well as a list of topics I have been dying to blog about sitting on my desk top, but I have been writing/editing, and that had to come first. You know how it is.

Anyway, real quick, I wanted to let everyone know that my official website is up and running! Yay! There are still some sections to come later, but for now things are looking good! At the bottom of the homepage, you will see the 'Follow Me' section with links to Facebook, Twitter and this blog. The Facebook page isn't quite ready--or that is to say, got accidentally deleted, and needs to be fixed--but I have actually set up my twitter page, and need some generous souls to follow me. Yes, I am that loser with only one follower (I swear she's not me!). So, if you are on twitter and feel like following me that'd be great, and I'll follow you back! (Really, I need some real people, not just the review blogs, organizations, and publishing houses I have so far...)

My site is:

Hope everyone had a fabulous Holiday, and I'll be back real soon!

Friday, November 11

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain... or run him down with your shopping cart

Gather around kids, and hear the tale of a clumsy girl who went shopping at a store called Meijer. Anyone from the Chicago/Milwaukee area knows Meijer is a superstore, basically like a Wal-Mart but a little nicer. I was there this morning, stocking up on food and snacks for my lock-in this weekend--Hubby and kids left at 4am this morning for Florida to visit his parents, which means I have three whole days of freedom in which I will hunker down in my house and edit the hell out of my new book, and that obviously calls for some snackage.

Anyway, arrive at Meijer, get my cart--a crappy one with a wobbly wheel of course--and head over to the book section, which is always my first stop. I'm perusing, checking out what's new, minding my own business, when I see that at the end of the book section,they have some of the shelves moved around and curtains up, doing some construction. Construction that apparently required them to run a cable all along the floor. As luck would have it, when I reach the end of the aisle, the wobbly wheel on my crappy cart gets stuck on the tape they used to tack down the cable so no one would trip over it. I am pushing and pulling trying to get it loose from the tape, which somehow was able to wind itself around the wheel. I realize the only way to get it free is to snap the tape, which I do by shoving on the cart. It works, however the cart slips out of my hand and goes flying into one of the polls holding up the curtain, and slamming into a guy on the other side who was sitting on a folding chair reading one of the magazines. This poor sap was scared out of his mind, and nearly falls out of the chair, but at the last moment was able to grab on to one of the book shelves and avoid hurting himself, thank God. I apologize, he laughs and says don't worry about it, I make a stupid joke about the tape, he's says not to worry, and I leave, tail between my legs.

I finish shopping, pay for my stuff, and make my way toward the exit, where I see two store workers putting up a huge sign that says:

Book Signing Today!
10-12 & 1-3

Followed by a huge picture... of the guy I ran over with my cart.

That's right folks, I ran over bestselling author, Christopher Paolini with my shopping cart. There was no construction, they were setting up for a signing, and Mr. Paolini was hiding, waiting for it to start. Had I not seen the picture I would have never known, though it did explain the twenty-odd Inheritance book displays all over the store...

Christopher, if you happen to go back to your hotel tonight and google, 'chick who ran me over' and come across this, I am very, very sorry.

Anyway, that's how my day is going, how's yours?

Monday, October 31

World Under Construction

World building sucks.

That's right, I said it. It's fantastic when done well, horrible when done anything but well, and doing it well is harder than a witch selling wrinkle cream. (It's Halloween, give me a break.)

World building can be as simple as adding a few elements into the real world that we are already familiar with, to creating an entirely new world from scratch. With my current WIP I find myself somewhere in the middle, and it really hard. Not coming up with the world itself, anyone can do that. The hard part is portraying it in a way that is true to what I envision, but also something that people would actually want to read. In my case--as it is with most major world building projects--it is for a series, and I am fast realizing that, not only is world building difficult enough on it's own, but it is also a plot killer. I've heard that for every paragraph of world building you add, you have to remove a paragraph of plot. Is that true? Can you have expansive world building and an involved and intricate plot?

Yes, of course... but not really.

I have always noticed that the first book in a series with a large amount of word building is always considerable shorter and simpler in plot then any of the books that follow. I had assumed that was due to the fact that publishers want first books--and in some cases multiple books--in a series to be able to stand on their own in case the sales aren't high enough to justify continuing publication of the series. However, only recently have I realized that that is only part of the reason. The other reason is that a good majority of that first book has to be devoted to world building, not leaving as much room for plot. Sure, you could have a huge information dump in the first chapter or two and lay out your entire world for the reader, then jump head first into the story--but I wouldn't recommend it. Not if you are looking for someone to sign/buy the book, anyway. Ideally, you want to spread your world building, and character building for that matter, out over the course of the book, weaving into your plot. With plot having to share the stage with your world and character creation, obviously, there won't be as much room in your first book for an involved plot, but if you are building your world in an interesting and engaging way, your readers won't care.

Look at the first Harry Potter. It is vastly simpler in over all plot compared to any of the following books, but you don't care because the wizarding universe that is being introduced is so interesting that it makes up for what might be lacking plot-wise.

The good news, is that once that first book is done and you move on to the subsequent books, you can dive straight into plot from chapter on, giving you more than enough time to create as involved a plot as you want. Don't get me wrong, world building should never stop entirely; your world should continue to expand and become more detailed as the series progresses, but after the first book, the major work should be done. Think about it, why do you think that writing fan fiction is so popular? Because it's easy! The hard part is done, and all you have to do is come up with a story! Lets say I go to write a Twilight fan fiction, do I have to introduce the charters? Do I have to set the scene, or build the world? No! All I have to say is Bella, or Alice, or Forks, or any other character, place, or idea from the series, and you immediately have in image in your mind that I did nothing to put there.

Having to be the one who puts the images there without boring or confusing the reader is the trick, and at the moment, it is kicking this writer's keister.

Anyone else?

Saturday, October 29

8 Sobering Truths about Commercial Writing

First of all, let me say that I take NO CREDIT for this what so ever. I came across it by chance, and though it was so wonderfully appripriate for not only me, but so many of by bloggity friends, that I had to share it with you all. I tried to simply link you to the original blog post, but the link refused to work, so here it is. It was written by Steve Burks whom you can find at He has several other fabulous posts, so stop by and give him a look-see when you have a minute.

Without further ado, Steve Burks'
8 Sobering Truths about Commercial Writing

1. Almost everything's been written about already. Screenwriter Paul Schrader calls it "narrative exhaustion."

2. It doesn't matter what you think about your writing. The buyer's always right. So unless your instincts happen to jibe with what the editors and the masses want, you'll be doing a lot of guess work.

3. The same technology that enabled you to get in the game, did the same thing for millions of other people. Of course you're better than "them," but from the gatekeeper's point of view, allunsolicited submissions look identical in the slush pile and e-mail junk folder. And the market was already glutted before the digital revolution.

4. If you depend on feeling inspired to write, you're in trouble. It takes a long time to write a good book. You're not going to feel like doing it every day. If you can't wrap your mind around the concept of art as work, you'll never make it through a first draft, let alone revise it ad nauseum.

5. Getting information on how to write a good book is easy. Actually writing a good book is hard.

6. Gatekeepers expect you to suck. You can't beat perception. A referral from someone they respect would earn you the benefit of the doubt, but that someone must be an agent, editor, or published author. In other words, getting referred is just as hard as getting published.

7. Only great writers have no competition. Good writers still do, because there are enough of those around. So even if you don't suck, the competition is thick.

8. No matter how well you write it, someone will hate it. The flip side is, no matter how badly you write it, someone might love it, but that someone won't be an editor, so you'll never get a chance to find out.

Wednesday, October 26

How Cool Is This!

Just a little Happy Halloween to all my buddies! If you like the TSO house at Christmas time, you'll love this!

Monday, October 24

Blog Awards!

I am nearly done with my first draft of my current WIP, and might just be able to do some regular blog posts by the end of the week! Yay! As it stands, I have a list of topics sitting on a digital post-it note on my desk top, but I refuses to let my self succumb to the temptation to blog, as I figure if I have time to blog, I have time to write.

In the meantime however, I received two blog awards this week, and our of respect for the givers, didn't want to put off posting and passing them on. Though the fact that I even got them is somewhat crazy considering I haven't posted in so long, I'd thought people had basically forgotten about me!

First off the Your Blog is Fabulous Award from Janice Mullin

As well as the Beautiful Blogger Award from Kaite Purseglove,(yes, that is her real name)

Thank you SO much ladies!

The rules were to pass them on to four each, but as I got two in one week, I am going to make my own rules. Oh, yeah, that's right, I'm a rebel. :)

I am going to pass them on to three bloggers each. The Fabulous Award will go to Jen Daiker and Angela Cook, and the Beautiful Blogger to Angela Cook again(as I am loving her new look), and Bethany C (because, who doesn't love a good short bus!).

Be talking to you all real soon!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, October 11

Fun ways to waste time...

First off, let me say sorry to my peeps for the neglect lately. A combination of my WIP and Blogger issues have made my posts scarce. (My computer was actually the one at fault, not blogger, but for some reason, Blogger was the only site affected.)

I don't have a full post today, but I figured in the mean time I'd share a few fun things I've found/been shown over the past few days.

First, if you are a follower of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, you'll already have seen this, but it is so cool it's worth seeing again. Just in time for Halloween, decaying and condemned Victorian homes... made completely of Legos.

Next we have Wordie, shown to me by my agent. All you do is copy and paste a bunch of text and it will automatically create a word cloud. You can choose the colors, and style, then save, or print. It's really cool!

Last but not least, we have Ben and Jerry's special Holloween website. Really cute site with fun stuff like build your own scarecrow and the 'Flavor Graveyard'--a special graveyard dedicated to all the flavors Ben and Jerry's has discontinued over the years! (Tip: Click on the mortuary in the cartoon graveyard to see the full list of 'dead' flavors.)

Yeah yeah, I know, as if we don't waste enough time online as it is, right? Well if I'm going to get sucked into internet randomness, then darned if I'm not going to take a few of you down with me! So, enjoy my randomness, and I'll be back soon!

Sunday, September 25

Does this genre make my butt look big?

Chick Lit.

What is it? Well, that's hard to say. It depends on who you talk to. There didn't use to be an argument. Chick Lit used to be any book which centered around a twenty something woman who liked high fashion, had man problems, had/wanted a glamorous job, liked to shop, had a gay best friend, was the 'girl about town' that we all wanted to be, or any combination there of. But that was back when everyone loved it. There was a huge surge of Chick-Lit in the 90's after the first ever Chick Lit novel took off which was Bridget Jones' Diary, but that has since died off. Lately, you have undoubtedly heard that 'Chick-Lit is dead'. No one wants to by it, or sell, it or read it, and if you label your work as Chick Lit you are dead in the water.

But my question is: How can that be, when publishers, authors, and the media continue to change the definition of what Chick-Lit actually is? Sophie Kinsella, Emily Giffin, Jennifer Crusie, Jodie Picoult, Sarah Strohmeyer, Meg Cabot, and Candace Bushnell all have been considered Chick-Lit at one time or another. Yes, they all write stories about 20-30 something women, but that's pretty much where the similarities end, yet they have all been considered Chick Lit. Most of them have even been asked about the label and how they feel about it. (Sophie Kinsella loves it--as she should being one of the queens of the genre, Emily Giffin is fine with it, Jodie Picoult was confused by it (as am I, in her case), and Jennifer Crusie didn't necessarily agree but also had no problem with it.)

A few days ago, author Polly Courtney actually left her publisher, an imprint of HarperCollins, because she was tired of them branding her books as Chick Lit when she feels they are women's fiction.
Yeah... left her publisher. That's big doins', folks. Was it that serious? She says yes.

So where does that leave people like me, who are actually writing in this genre? I've always considered my stuff Quirky Women's Fiction, but isn't that really just another way to say Chick Lit? I've never been ashamed of it, look, there it is right there at the top of my blog under my name. I've never though tit was a horrible thing, after all, that's not only what I write, it's also what I read. Am I dead in the water?

Here's how I see it: Women's Fiction and Chick Lit are very much like Paranormal and Fantasy. These days, there's a lot of gray area. Yes, both paranormal and fantasy have specific definitions, but sometimes it's hard to tell. Some books are absolutely Paranormal, while others are absolutely Fantasy. But look at The Sookie Stackhouse books (True Blood)--they are set in our world with vampires and shape shifters (Paranormal), but we also have Fairies, magic, and alternate universes (Fantasy) So which is it? Does it matter? No.

The moral of my very long winded, slightly ranty story: Don't let your genre define you; define your genre. In the end, if you have a great story, labels don't matter. If someone handed you a book and said, "It's a middle grade fantasy.", are you super excited? Probably not. Did you read Harry Potter? Probably. While reading it, did you care that it was a middle grade fantasy? Probably not.

Friday, September 23

Great Page for Writers

Hello all, hope everyone had a stupendous week. I just wanted to share a little gem I ran into this morning.

Jennifer Crusie is not only a fabulous author of romantic women's fiction, but on her website, she has one of the best 'For Writers' sections I have ever seen on a personal webpage. It is full of great info, no matter what stage of the writing process you are in--writing, finding an agent, finding and editor, selling, publishing, getting blurbs, reviews, press releases, and so much more!

Check it out at:

And be sure to check out Bet Me, her newest book!

Talk to ya'll soon!

Sunday, September 18

The Frumpy Country Cousin

Let me start this post by saying: I love my book. My agent and I have spent months reviewing, editing, polishing, and perfecting it, and it really is a thing of beauty--high heals, makeup, designer gown--the works.

However, I am not here to talk about the shiny beautiful manuscript, I am here to talk about her frumpy country cousin, otherwise know as my current work in progress. She's dirty and disheveled, with frizzy hair, chipped nail polish, mismatched shoes--and, dare I say it--needs to loose a few pounds. Basically a hot mess. If you put the two projects next to each other, you can tell they are related; voice, tone and style all being very similar, but that's about all they have in common. They would not be friends or even hang out together. Finished MS would probably steal WIP's boyfriend, throw punch on her hand-me-down dress, and leave her crying alone in the corner. And the worst part is, I would be right there next to Finished MS, laughing and pointing at the frumpy wall flower.

Why would I be joining Finished MS and not punishing her for her horrible behavior? Because, as much as I hate to admit it, I have as big a problem with WIP as she does. I just can't accept the fact that that sloppy mess actually came out of me. I have grown so accustomed to the beauty and shine of Finished MS, that I expect everything I write to be as polished right out of the gate. It's hard to remember that Finished MS used to be as buck-toothed and dumpy as WIP is now. It took me months to clean her up and teach her some manners, and even that wasn't enough. I had to take her to a professional beautician (who moonlights as a literary agent) to get her to where she is now. So naturally, I should know that there is no reason to be upset with WIP, as she just needs a little time.

Like I said... I should know that.

I do know that. But that doesn't mean it isn't hard to remember.

So now if you'll excuse me, I have an Extreme Makeover: Manuscript Edition to get started on.

Saturday, September 17

Let Them Eat Cake

Hi all,

I'll be back with a regular post tomorrow, but I wanted to show everyone what I've been up to this past week. (besides having wisdom tooth drama, that is...)

My husband's company has a "Time for Giving" event every year where they raise money for different charities. At the end of the event, they have a cake competition where people make cakes to represent each charity and they are judged. Last year, I made the cake for St. Jude's Children's Hospital and we won, so they asked me back again.

Here was our cake this year:

It took 32 long sugar filled hours, but we won! Yay!

See you tomorrow!

Sunday, September 11

Vicodin and Fast Food

Good afternoon everyone!

I had my wisdom teeth out a few days ago, and I've been having trouble with them.(Picture me lying on pillows with a gigantic retainer in my mouth.) This has left me confined to my bedroom with little to do besides look for entertainment online. I've done a little writing, but let's face it, the Vicodin--while it makes my writing interesting--doesn't lend it self to making any great strides in that department.

Basically I've spent my time watching TV shows via Netflix, and looking for videos on YouTube, which is how I happened across this little gem and thought I'd share...

Yes, they really are naming fast food joints...

I about lost it laughing, but then again, that could have been the pills.

Talk to y'all soon,

~ Mar

Wednesday, September 7



We've all got them--the words we use in our writing over and over and over again. I've always known I have them, but it wasn't until this last long weekend of editing that I realized just how much I use them. Here, I'll give you my list as an example:

Alright--(which isn't even considered a word, so not only do I have to
              delete a ton of them, but then I have to change the ones I
              keep to 'all right')
Muster--(I don't know why, but this is my go-to word for 'gather' or
              'collect', etc.)

My agent will probably read this and add a dozen or so more to the list, but I'm pretty sure these ones are the worst.

Why have I taken a bigger notice of my buzzwords, you ask? It's because this is the first project where I have deliberately left them in--the first draft, that is. A few weeks ago, while working on the first draft of my new ms, I came to realize that I was spending more time worrying about word choice than I was spending actually writing. This wasn't a problem with my first few books because I wasn't totally conscious of it. However,(ha, see there it is!) now that I am aware of it, I'm obsessing about it. Every single time I type the word 'anyway' I want to change it immediately, instead of simply moving on. As a result, it was taking me days to write chapters that should have taken me hours.

Well, I am happy to announce that I have put an end to it. I have officially adopted idea that it is okay for your first draft to suck. Deep down I have always known that this is the case, but this is the first time I have forced my self to be okay with it. After all, no matter how 'perfect' I think I get that certain line or paragraph, when I go back and read it the next day, it still sucks, so why waste the time initially when I will have to go back to it again anyway?

Well, I can happily tell you that I no longer edit while writing first drafts. Not ever. Or at least not usually. Okay, maybe once in a while. Every now and again, but only when I forget... or when a sentence is really bad...

Alright, so it's kind of a hard habit to break, but I am much better, and that is a start. Ernest Hemingway once said, "The first draft of anything is shit.", and if that was good enough for him, it's certainly good enough for me.

How about you all, Buzzwords? Let's hear them!

Tuesday, August 30

Remember Me?

Hey look a new post! Ala-bit a short one, but hey, it's something!

Thanks so much for the patients everyone, I really appreciate it! Also, I want to give a huge thanks to Anita, who gave me a blog award last week! I'll get to officially accepting and posting is in a day or two, but in the mean time, thanks Anita!

Now on to business...

It's a short one today, but it's something I have been thinking about a lot lately. Romance novels.

Did you know that romance outsells every other genre every year? Like, by a lot... a whole lot. Why is that not common knowledge? Because most romance readers don't admit to being one. Romance readers like me. There is a lot of romance I enjoy--Mary Balogh being my all time favorite--but do I wear a 'Romance Novel Reader' shirt to the super market? No. Why? The same reason everyone else is embarrassed to admit they love romance. We all know that when the average person hears 'romance novel' they picture this:

...and this...

...and of course...

The Cover! Seriously? The cover, which 90% of the time has absolutely nothing to do with the actual book!  Seems really stupid, but that's all it takes. When people see a horribly cheesy cover, they assume the story inside is equally as lame and cheese-filled. Okay, yes, sometimes that is the case (we all know there are terribly corny bodice-rippers out there), but more often than not, the cover has nothing to do with the actual story. Hell, sometimes the characters aren't even described correctly! The blond bombshell on the cover is actually supposed to be a mousy brunette school teacher, etc.


When the overly cheesy, Fabio-style covers came into popularity, I'm not sure, but I'm thinking it was 80s early 90s. What I have noticed lately however, is that publishers are starting to realize just how horrid those old covers are, and have begun to give some of their older titles face lifts. For instance,

This... now this.

Dancing dreamily... pretty bow.

And my personal favorite...
...oh yeah, much better.
So, in conclusion, I would like to thank all the publishers who are giving readers like me more to enjoy, with no reason to hide my book behind a magazine or roll the cover back so no one can see it! ;)

Long live romance!

Wednesday, August 17


Life has been beyond busy for me these past two weeks, and I apologize for neglecting you all. I will get back to posting regularly soon, but I had to give a quick congratulatory shout out to Anita Howard, who is a spectacular lady who writes YA. She has just signed a two book deal with Abram's Amulet imprint for her first novel, Splintered.

Check her out at A Still and Quiet Madness, and look for Splintered on shelves, Spring 2013!

Wednesday, August 3

Show Me The Money!

Hello all...

Just wanted to share a link to a page that a friend of mine sent me. I lists all the major publishers and what they have been paying for first books in recent years. It is on the website of author Brenda Hiatt, and she keeps it up to date. Pretty interesting stuff...

Happy Wednesday, and talk to you soon!

Friday, July 29

5 Things not to do at your court appearance...

1.) Do not leave your flip -flops in the car saying, "Oh, I won't need them, these shoes aren't that bad, I'm sure I'll be fine until I get back to the car," only to leave the courthouse two and a half hours later limping, cursing, and bleeding.

2.) Do not arrive an hour before your scheduled time thinking you will be the first one there and will thereby be one of the first called. You will be the first one there, however you will not be able to check in until ten minutes before your scheduled time, at which point everyone who arrived after you will rush the door forcing you to the back of the line. Then, when you are finally checked in, you discover that it didn't matter an any case, because they are calling cases in alphabetical order!

3.) Do not offer your seat on the only bench in the hall to the pregnant lady who just walked in, because she will graciously decline, and while you are up asking her if she would like the seat, some thirty something year old jerk-wad, who wears ripped jeans and a dirty baseball cap to court, will steal it for himself.

4.) Do not tell the Judge that something is "None of your business," or you will get thrown out of court and fined. (That one wasn't me.)

5.) If you are driving a car and the seat belt is cutting painfully into your neck because the seat isn't adjusted properly, do not loop the belt under your left elbow, or you will get a ticket and have to spend half your day in court. Meh.

And what happened, you ask, when the big moment rolled around and I was finally called up before the Judge? Well I'll tell you. It went like this...

Clerk: Marian Vere
I walk to the podium.
Judge: (to me)Ms. Vere, this is a seat belt charge. (to the prosecutor)Any priors?
Prosecutor: No.
Judge: Wear your seat belt. Charges dismissed.
I leave.


Wednesday, July 27

When you are a best-selling author...

Back online! (again...) After the crazy storms of the past weekend, my entire street has been without internet now for almost three days, but we are back up! Why it always seems they have to create problems to fix problems is beyond me, but that's a whole different matter...

So, nothing major on my mind today, but I do have a question for all my lovely readers. Most of you are as-of-yet unpublished writers, and I know I am not the only on who sits on the couch and dreams of all the great things I am going to do/buy when I become a best-selling author. Come on, we all do it. We all picture ourselves on the best sellers list, seeing a line out the door at our book signings, speaking and sitting on panels at writers conferences, and so on. Don't be ashamed, hell, what else do we have to keep us going if not our dreams--pie in the sky or otherwise. So my question to you is just that--what will you do with all your money? Now, yes, we are all going to pay off debt, send the kids to college, etc, etc, but what I mean is the fun stuff. The sort of stuff you think about at night before you fall asleep? Here, I'll give you mine:

  • I want to build us a big house where I can have an office/library where built-in bookshelves will be a must. Not too big mind you--not a full out mansion--I would have no idea what to do with all that space. Big, but not intimidating. It will also have an awesome kitchen where I can bake and cook without running out of counter space five minutes in. My hubby want's a running track going around the perimeter of the basement, but we'll see.
  • I will finally buy some make-up that isn't super cheap. You know the kind, the stuff that is actually embarrassing to pay for because it's the stuff that middle schoolers wear (I don't buy the middle school colors, mind you, just the brands), but it's cheap and does the job.
  • I will buy my husband a convertible. He had to get rid of the one he had just after we were married for something more practical, and I've always felt bad about that.
  • I will finally buy my underwear from Victoria's Secret, and get rid of the worn out, thread-bare, hope-to-God-I-never-have-an-accident-and-get-caught-dead-or-other-wise-in-these-things undies that currently fill that particular drawer in my dresser. (Side note: the panty thieving goat is more than welcome to visit my house anytime. I'll even leave the window open for him. Fair warning to him, it'll probably scare him straight!)
  • I will throw an awesome Christmas party every year for family and friends. The kind of Christmas party you see on TV and always want to go to, but never do because no one you know ever throws them.
  • Last, Hubby and I will renew our vows at Disney World (which is where we were married the first time), and this time we will fly all out guests down and pay for their rooms so they can enjoy without it costing them anything.
So there it is! Now it's your turn. Castle by the sea? Harley Davidson? House in the Hamptons? Don't be shy, let's hear them!

Friday, July 22

Inspiration Friday!

After a short hiatus (sorry), Inspiration Friday is back...

Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you're doomed. 
~ Ray Bradbury

I don't think it is possible to give tips for finding one's voice; it's one of those things for which there aren't really any tricks or shortcuts, or even any advice that necessarily translates from writer to writer. All I can tell you is to write as much as possible. 
~ Poppy Z. Brite

I got to thinking about the point in every freelancer's life where he has to decide whether he wants to A, have a social life, and do art in his spare time, or B, do art, and have a social life in his spare time. It has always seemed to me that if you have any hope of making a living as an artist  writer, musician, whatever  you absolutely must learn to tell people to leave you alone, and to mean it, and to eject them from your life if they don't respect that. This is necessary not because your job is more important than anyone else's  it isn't  but because a great many people will think of you as not having a job. 'Oh, how wonderful  you can work whenever you want to!' Well, yes, to a point, but generally 'whenever you want to' had better be most of the time, or else you won't have a roof over your head. 
~ Poppy Z. Brite

I never had any doubts about my abilities. I knew I could write. I just had to figure out how to eat while doing this.
~ Cormac McCarthy

Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money. 
~ Jules Renard

Writers seldom write the things they think. They simply write the things they think other folks think they think. 
~ Elbert Hubbard

There are three difficulties in authorship: to write anything worth publishing, to find honest men to publish it - and to get sensible men to read it.
~ Charles Caleb Cotton

One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you're maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones.
~ Stephen King

There is probably no hell for authors in the next world - they suffer so much from critics and publishers in this.
~ C. N. Bovee

Wednesday, July 20

Stand up and celebrate!

Self doubt, rejection, dejection, depression, repeat...

They happen to us all, and it's so easy to get lost in the negative when there seems to be so much of it; naysayers everywhere you turn, and rejection by the truckload. Worst of all, is there is no end in sight. The majority of the queries you send out get rejected, of the few that didn't, the majority of those submissions get rejected. Then you finally get an agent and the start to submit your work to publishers and the publishers reject you. Then you finally get a publisher and your book comes out only to be met by bad reviews and harsh critics... and it goes on and on. Unfortunately, that's the name of the game.

We spend so much time focusing on the goal that is still out of reach, that we forget about all the goals and milestones we have already reached. So my goal for this week--as I have fallen into the confidence crushing loop lately--is to celebrate everything I have already accomplished, and I encourage you to join me. No matter what stage of the game you are in, I promise you have loads to celebrate. For instance(not necessarily in this order):

  • Getting that great idea.
  • Having your first planning, outlining, researching, or just thinking session.
  • Picking up the pen(or laptop) and actually starting your first chapter.
  • Finishing your first chapter.
  • Overcoming that plot hurdle that for a while you couldn't see around.
  • Finishing your first draft.
  • Finishing your first round of edits.
  • Getting your first critiques back.
  • Finishing your second, third, fourth, etc. round of edits.
  • The day your ms is finally ready for submission.
  • Finishing your query letter.
  • Finishing your synopsis.
  • Your first partial request.
  • Your first full request.
  • Your first rejection with notes.
  • Your first revise and resubmit.
  • Landing an agent.
  • Your first round of editing with your agent.
  • The day your ms goes on submission.
  • The day an editor makes an offer.
  • The start of your second, third, fourth, etc. book.
  • Your first negotiation.
  • Your first auction.
  • Your first sale.
  • The day you sign your contract.
  • The day you actually see money.
  • (The list goes on, but I'll stop here for now.)
Some of you may be only part of the way up that list others of you may be past it all, and some of you will skip some of those steps altogether. However, I can promise you this, no matter where you are on the list, there are loads of people behind you, and it's only a matter of time until you work your way up.

Some of you may be saying, "Some of those are to minor, I'm not going to celebrate something that small," to which I say, "Why not?" With all the rejection we face in the business, why not take as much pleasure and celebration as we can? Think about it, if we are going to get upset after every singe little rejection of every query letter we send out,(and we all do, at least to some degree) then why not celebrate every little step that got us to that point? I say, party on brothers and sisters!

So, that is why I want you all to post your own lists here for us and join the party! Celebrate what you have accomplished and be proud! Use things from the list I have given, or add your own. Don't worry if your list is small, and don't intimidated by those with longer lists--that's not what this is about. It's about being proud of yourself, and spreading the idea of self-love to all of our writing friends out there. Also, to all my readers with blogs of their own, I am tagging all of you to make this an un-official meme. Post your lists on your own blogs and invite all your readers to do the same. Writers are notorious for celebrating each other, but when it comes to celebrating ourselves, we tend to slink in to the corner. Well not today. We are all amazing, and it's time we got the credit we deserve--yes, from the world of rejection we face head on every day--but more importantly, from ourselves!

My List:
  • Actually sitting down to write my first book.
  • Finishing the first draft of first book.
  • Starting my second book.
  • Finishing the first draft of second book.
  • Revising second book.
  • Sending second book to betas.
  • Getting my first feedback.
  • Writing my query.
  • Sending my first query.
  • Finishing the book.-- Yes, I was one of those bad writers who queried before the book was totally ready. Shame on me. Do as I say, not as I do... :)
  • Getting my first partial request.
  • Getting my first full request.
  • Getting my first offer of representation. (I actually accepted the second)
  • Starting edits with my agent.
  • Finishing edits with my agent.

Sunday, July 17

What I learned at RWA

I've been thinking about this post for a while, and I've decided that the best way to do it is simply to post all the major points that I learned while at the RWA Conference in list form. That will be the easiest way for me to write everything up without leaving anything out, and it will be much easier for you all to read without going cross eyed. :)

So, without further ado, what I learned at RWA:

You do not have to have writing anything to attend the conference. - Now yes, that should have been obvious, as many people come to learn, however I didn't realize how many beginners there would be. I mean beginner beginners. People who didn't know what Point of View was, people who didn't know what a Query Letter was, people who didn't know what the term 'genre' means, and so on. Made me feel a little better about myself.

Most people who write YA shouldn't. - YA is more than just making your characters a certain age, it is about voice. You have to have that very specific young adult voice to be successful in the genre, and most writers don't have it. A panel of 4 agents and 2 editors all agreed that 9 out of 10 YA queries/submissions they receive are from writes who should not be writing YA. They may be excellent writes, but they don't have the voice. They also said that many of those stories could very easily be changed from YA to Adult Fiction with only a few minor alterations, so really examine your work to make sure it's the best fit for you.

You can't change your voice. - Voice is a very complicated idea and a very simple idea at the same time. Here is the best way I can describe it: Imagine sitting in a room with 49 other people. A man walks in, stands in front of the group, says "Hello.", then walks out. If you were all then asked to write on sentence describing what you just saw, the outcome would be 50 different sentences even though you all saw the same thing. That's your voice. It is how you talk--how you use the English language. The words you choose and the order you put them in. You acquired your voice when you learned to speak as a toddler, and you can not change it. That's not to say you can't give each character you create a voice and personality all their own, because you can--should even--but the way you write will not change. It also has nothing to do with craft. You can always make yourself a better writer with practice and training, but learning about grammar and punctuation and formatting, and drafting, and research, and everything else you can learn about the craft of writing will not change your voice. That is why some people can write historical fiction and others can't. That is why many people can't write YA and others can write nothing but that. Some voices lend themselves to multiple genres, others don't. That is why it is important to find your voice and let it direct you--as in write what your write best--not necessarily what you want to write or wish you could write. Me for instance, I love Regency romance and would love to be able to write Regencies, but it will never happen. I don't have the voice for that, and it's not something you can fake. You can spot a face voice in a heartbeat. Make sense?

Authors don't change their website photos. - Apparently this is a dirty little industry secret, but I didn't know about it, so I'll share. Apparently, authors pick a head shot or two that they like, and stick with them... like forever. I was lucky enough to meet several authors who's work I am familiar with--and more to the point, who's websites I am familiar with. Now, I'm not going to mention anyone by name, but let's just say... I didn't see what I expected. Some were older, some *ahem* larger, and so on. One I had thought would be in her 40's and she was 83! Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with all this. If they want to keep up older pictures, so be it and more power to them, I just had no idea how common it was.

There is no such thing as the 'maybe pile'. - A lot for us like to think that when it takes a long time to hear back from an agent, that means we have been put into that agent's 'maybe' pile, as in , they are considering asking for more material. Sorry to say, there is no such thing--at least for most agents. Most agents know whether they want more from you from about the third line in a query. They do this for a living, they don't have to think about it. The only thinking they may do is at the last stage when they are deciding to represent you or not, but even then, it's not something they have to think about long. If you haven't heard back, it's because they just haven't read your query yet, or they are a no response agent. By no means is this to say that all agents work this way, but the six on the panel said that they all do and all the agent's they they know do as well.

Well, that's all the major stuff, but there were of course a ton a little things along the way too, like authors can be published by more than one house, and that most publishers these days actually prefer to sign multiple book deals, and what a Victorian woman looked like without her clothes on. (Yes, there was an entire seminar about the undergarments of a Victorian woman. It was a hoot!)

All in all, even with the drama I had in arriving and the move before and after, I can say it was a great time, and I will definitely be going back. Next year is in Anaheim and the husband is already planning his Disneyland trip. Oyi.

Wednesday, July 13


Praise and thanks be to the man named Dave from AT&T who has restored me to the land of cable and internet! :D

So we have LOADS to celebrate today--hence the name of the post. First and foremost, I want to give a super huge shout out to Bethany C, one of my faithful followers, and one of the winners of my 'First Line Contest', because last week she scored herself an agent! WOO-WHO! She is now represented by Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch Literary Services, and I know we are all super psyched for her! Congratulations Bethany! YAY!

Next, we have my being back on line which has already been mentioned, but I am so happy that it deserves another. I have tons of TV to catch up on (is it sad that it's all Food Network?), and so many blog posts to read that there is no way I will get to them all, but that's okay. I'll do my best.

Next up is a new blog that you all should check out. My agent Carly Watters of PS Literary has started her own blog that is full of all sorts of useful stuff like what agents are looking for--and the stuff they don't really care about, how to know if you manuscript is ready for submission, publishing trends, and so on. She is at Definitely check it out!

Last but not least the giveaway! I gave you the subject and stipulations in the last post, and I will also post them on the 'Contests and Fun Stuff' page, but now lets talk about the prize. The books included int he giveaway are as follows:

The Summer Garden by Paullina Simons - Women's Fiction

Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney - YA Fantasy

Shameless by Karen Robards - Historical Romance

Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah - Women's Fiction

Isolde by Rosalind Miles - Historical Romance

No Mercy by Sherrilyn Kenyon - Paranormal Romance

Heartache Falls by Emily March - Contemporary Romance

The Werewolf Upstrairs by Ashlyn Chase - Paranormal Romance

I Dream of Genies by Judi Fennell - Romantic Fantasy

Virgin by Cheryl Brooks - Erotic Science Fiction

The Heir by Grace Burrowes - Historical Romance

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook - Steam-Punk Romance

The First Love Cookie Club by Lori Wilde - Contemporary Romance

So, submit your entry in the comment section below, and include which of the books you would like if you were to bee chosen as a winner. You may select up to five. If you are a winner, I will contact you for a mailing address, so you don't need to include that. Good luck and have fun!

PS - I will still do my final RWA post, I promise I haven't forgotten. I will have that up for you by tomorrow! :)

Saturday, July 9

Checking In...

So, this is not a real post yet as I STILL don't have internet. We are however officially in our new house and if all goes well, I will be back on line this coming Tuesday.

However, right now I am in a hotel in Wisconsin because I am doing a triathlon tomorrow morning, and yay--hotel has free internet! So I basically wanted to say hi, thank you all for your well wishes, and let you know I haven't fallen off the earth.

Also, as I have a slew of new books sitting on my shelf--some that I will not read, others that I already own--from RWA, I decided to do a giveaway! After all, what's better than new books? Many are even signed by the author! I will post a list of the titles in a few days, but for now I wanted to get you thinking...

When to you get your inspiration?

Now how mind you, but when.

For instance, I come up with some of my best ideas while I am doing the dishes, driving with the music on, and running(hence the me thinking of this very idea during a triathlon weekend).

What I want is a good inspiration story. It can be anything from, "My car broke down and while I was sitting in the waiting room at the auto store I came up with a story a bout a mechanic," to "I was changing my daughter's diaper and an alien story just hit me." Anything goes!

Start thinking about you story, and I will post the list of books in a day or two, and that is where you will post all your great stories. And don't be shy, as I will be picking more than one winner!

Talk to you all soon!

Monday, July 4

Just a quickie...

Hello everyone. No I haven't forgotten about you, and I will do the larger post on the RWA Conference soon, but for now I am stuck. The day my husband and I got home form New York we had to start moving to our new house, and I have been painting, packing, and cleaning, pretty much nonstop. Also, as of yesterday, our cable service has been switched to the new place, so I have no internet.  We all went to Panera for breakfast this morning and I am squeezing this post in thanks to the free wifi at Panera.

Thanks for your understanding, and I'll be back soon!

Thursday, June 30

RWA Conference Day 2

Oh my, what a day...

First off, I promised to show you all my 'swag' so here it is...

What we have here is :
Conference Tote Bag
Badge an Badge holder
Conference Planner
Themed Mint Tin
Collapsible Water Bottle
City Map
Flash Drive
and eight (yes eight) Books

These books I got today and one of the book signings. There are to book signings a day, and each signing showcases two publishers. This particular signing was Sorcebooks and St. Martin's Griffin. I didn't go to yesterdays signings because I didn't realize what they were. Basically, you line up, go into the big room where there are dozens of authors from the designated publishers, choose which books you want to read, and get a signed copy--for free. Yes folks, all those books were free, and they don't even represent half of what I could have gotten! The rest however were things that didn't so much interest me so I passed. (Plus, I have to be able to get all these home...) There are two more signings tomorrow and I will be going so my book tally will most likely double.

This is the wall in my hotel room right now. Crazy, right!?

So, as far as what I learned today, I realized it is going to be easier to wait until the end of the conference to talk about that, as there is so much that overlaps, I don't want to be redundant. However, I did get one little piece of info that is a little disheartening--especially if you write YA.

Ever wonder, "Hey, I wonder, if I got a book deal when my book would actually come out."? Well, as of today, I can give you an idea. During the conference, one of the biggest things going on is the pitches, as in you can pitch your book to a pannel of editors and agents with the hopes of being signed. Three of the editors from the panel--one from Sorcebooks, one from Dell, and one from Harliquin--gave us this info: If you write traditional romance, women's fiction, or any other mainstream genre, and you get a publishing contract in the next month or so, you could still possibly land a spot on the 2012 publishing card with a release date in the fall or winter of that year, however, most will see pub. dates of spring/summer 2013, or even into that fall. The ones pitching YA(by 'the ones' she meant the writers who pitched yesterday and today at the conference) unfortunately, are vying for spots on the 2014 and 2015 publishing card. YA is just that full, making it a hard sell.

That's right YA writers, if you were to get a book deal this month, the earliest you book would be on shelves is summer/fall 2014. Now they did say that there are always exceptions to those numbers, but not many. They also said that while they could only technically speak for their own houses, they did say that this scenario is cross the board in the industry.

Yeah, kinda sucks...

Anyway, that's all for today. I go into more detail tomorrow, but for now, going to go eat my dessert from Junior's! Yay!

Oh, and highlight of the day... I actually met Nora Roberts! Like shook her hand and everything! I'm not really what you would call a 'fan' of her's, as I kind of think all her books are the same, but come on, it's Nora freaking Roberts! Fan or no, that was cool! :)

Wednesday, June 29

RWA Conference Day 1

Well I'm here in the Big Apple, and trust me, that was no easy feat...

I missed the only seminar that I wanted to go to today due to an extremely delayed flight, a 2 hour shuttle ride from the airport to the hotel, and the hotel's strict no-check-in-before-3:00 policy. That, plus too much walking in bad shoes, dehydration, and motion sickness all made for a pretty horrible day. The only conference thing I was able to do was register, get my 'swag bag' and check out the 'goodie room' which was basically a long room FILLED with business cards and bookmarks advertising for upcoming books by conference attending authors.

The awesome news is that my conference bag had TONS of free books in it, and a lot of them were things I had actually wanted to read! I post a picture of everything I got tomorrow. I will also post anything I learn at my numerous seminars tomorrow that is of general interest to writers so that all my blogging buddies can get something out of this experience too! Just so you know, I will only post things I hear actually come out of the mouths of editors and agents--not the plethora of rumors and speculation that circulate like crazy at things like this. So anything I tell you, you can take to the bank. :)

As for now however, I am exhausted and going to hit the sack!

Good night all, and I'll talk to you tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 22

Publishing Glossary

Two days ago we finally found renters for our townhouse, so we are moving! Yay! However, the bad news is, with the RWA Conference next week, I basically have the rest of this week to pack our entire place. Beh.
Thus, I will not have time for much in the way of blogging this week, but when I read this I had to share...

My agent tweeted a link to this blog post today, , and if you have a free minute and need a laugh, you have to check it out.

Talk to you soon!

Monday, June 20

Be a Quitter

A few days ago, I wrote a post about giving up on books you don't like, and something about that post has been humming in the back of my mind ever since. I don't usually mull over my own rambling, but this time I might have hit on a deeper subject without realizing it. The subject being: quitting.

Now, before it get into anything here, let me preface by saying that you should always give everything you try a chance. You should not give up right away because it isn't fun, or is too hard, etc. If you don't give things a chance, you will miss out on a lot of great opportunities to expand as a person and enjoy life.

However, that being said, sometimes quitting can be good. This country has an obsession with never quitting anything, and I don't believe it's healthy. And I'm not just talking about the things you hate, I'm also talking about the things you love, but may never be successful at. For me, it was music.

Now, don't get me wrong, I haven't lost music from my life entirely, but I no-longer consider myself a musician. I had a very short lived attempt at a life as a singer, and it just didn't pan out. I was talented, but just not talented enough. I was trained too, so don't think I was one of those American Idol wannabes, I actually have a music degree in vocal performance. I did--and do--know what I am doing, but sadly, singing is just like writing; of the thousands out there trying to 'make it', only a teeny tiny percentage actually will. Sure, when you come out of a failed audition all you fellows say things like, "Don't worry, this just wasn't the job for you!" and "You'll get'um next time!" and "Someone will just love your voice!", the same way that writers say that sort of thing to each other when queries and submissions get rejected. It's she same for actors, dancers, musicians; all of us. We all have more rejection than acceptance, and we all have cheer leaders in each other. Are the cheerleaders right? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But in the end they don't really matter--what matters is you. Do you see yourself making it? Honestly now, don't give yourself any of that, "Rah! Rah! Never say die" crap and soul search for a minute. Is this what you were really meant to do? That's what I did with regards to my music career... and the answer was no. I realized that if I was going to 'make it' that I would have. I will always sing and play my instruments, and I will die if at least one of my kids doesn't want to join the band in school, but as far as who I truly am, the answer isn't meant to be 'singer'.

But this is all fine, because if I hadn't quit the music industry, I may never have found the calling to write, and I can truly tell you that I am a writer. I see myself writing for the rest of my life. I loved--and still love-- music, but the way I feel about my writing is just... well, different. I can't describe it, but I know that it's right. That is what I believe happens when you find what you are meant for. But I never would have gotten here without quitting first.

Please don't take this all the wrong way. I am not telling you to quit writing if you haven't yet succeeded, or to quit the job you hate (unless you can afford to do so, in which case more power to you), nor am I saying 'it will never happen for you, so just give up'--not at all. What I am saying, is don't get so stuck on one thing, that you miss out on all the other things that may be better suited for you. Being focused and driven is great, as long as you don't have blinders on. This idea of learning to quit can encompass anything, from (just an example here) quitting writing all together, to simply quitting on a book, only to move on to your next one. Quitting something that you have tried your best at is not failure; it's growth. A person who has failed more than you is a person who has tried more things than you. Don't be the person who misses out on hundreds of wonderful experiences in pursuit of one. When I was researching this idea I came across a quote from author Julianna Baggott who words it perfectly:

"Sometimes you shouldn’t stick it out. You should give up. You should say die – so some other part of you can come alive."

Things writers say that I just don't understand...

I'll be back later with a normal, less-ranty post, but I had to get this one off my chest...

I am getting so tired of the over-dramatic, hyper-romanticized 'If I couldn't write I would die', 'Writing is like breathing for me', 'I don't write because I want to, I write because I have to', and the like. They are all over the online writing community, and I mean, come on... melodramatic much?

Don't get me wrong, I am very passionate about my writing. You have to be, or odds are, what you write won't be any good. I love what I do, and am truly blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love.

But come on... you'd die


Sunday, June 19

We Love You Guys!

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads who write, and all the Dads who make writing possible for Mom!

Love you guys!

Friday, June 17

Inspiration Friday!

I was looking through some writing quotes the other day, and got a fun idea. There are so many great quotes about writing, from everyone from Stephen King, to T.S. Elliott, to Albert Einstein. Some are funny, some are serious, but all are totally appropriate in one way or another. Combine that with the fact that--statistically speaking--Friday is the day in which the largest number of query letters/submissions get rejected by agents(stat from Writer's Digest online), and you have the perfect recipe for my all new Inspiration Friday! Every Friday morning from now on, I will post a few writing quotes to help inspire you to get through the rejection fest that may be coming, and into the weekend with a smile!

So, without further ado, here are our quotes for the week!

I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.
~ Peter de Vries

Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write checks.
~ Richard Curtis

Imagination is more important than knowledge. 
~ Albert Einstein

Talent alone cannot make a writer. There must be a man behind the book. 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats. 
~ Howard Aiken

I have the heart of a small boy. It is in a glass jar on my desk
~ Stephen King

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. 
~ Jack London

Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet.
~ Anonymous