Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Another Stepping Stone - Book Clubs

(What's outside my window: Snow flurries.)

The journey for the production of Surrender the Wind has been both eye-opening and exciting. I received an email from my editor, the lovely and talented Barbara Scott at Abingdon, that they are making a huge effort to find book discussion groups to promote the fiction line to. Thus, I've been given an assignment to write ten to twelve questions that they will post online as well as in the back of the book.

I started yesterday jotting down questions. They've got to be great, thought-provoking, questions that will spark discussion. These are so important to me, since they will be firstly published in my book and online, and secondly because the book club members will have taken the time to purchase and read my novel. I am duty bound to give them what they need in order to have a fantastic meeting.

There are a few local book clubs where I live, mostly connected with the library. In 2003, when I had a novel published through a pod press, (I was naive back then) I was invited to meet with three of them. They were great fun, and I look forward to the experience again, only this time with a novel in hand from a great publisher.

Do you belong to a book club? What kinds of questions do you feel generate the livest of conversations? If you are an author, have you met with book clubs, and do you have a discussion guide for your novel?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another Little Piece of My Heart

I read this comment from a writer on an agent's blog this morning, and found it disturbing. 'In the end a book's just words on paper. It isn't me, or even a part of me. It's a product, a piece of work.'

I ask the quest
ion why this person is even writing if he feels this way? If there is no emotional attachment, such as the burning desire in the heart to write, what is the point of spending all those hours, days, months, and sometimes years, writing a novel? If it is only a product, then I would think there would be a lack of passion in the writing.

I feel the complete opposite. When I finish a manuscript it isn't just 100,000 words on paper. It is the completion of a journey to bring into fruition a story. It's hours of brain power, creativity, imagination, and a deep love for storytelling. A writer is what I am. My stories are a part
of me...they came from me. To say they are not separates me from my work.

Could we ever separate Margaret Mitchell from
'Gone with the Wind', or Harper Lee from 'To Kill a Mockingbird', or F. Scott Fitzgerald from 'The Great Gatsby'? Could we erase Jane Austen's name from Pride & Prejudice? And are these novels just words on paper...a product? Or are they something deeper than that?

If we can say novels are not a part of the writer who wrote them, then why even put their names on the covers? If a manuscript is just a bunch of words on paper, not part of you, then try to imagine someone tossing it in the fire
place. Quickly the pages ignite and begin to curl. A moment and your work is gray ash. What kind of emotional reaction would you have?

What if someone took the only copy of your manuscript and shredded it before your very eyes? How would that make you feel? What if you had failed to back up your file, and your computer died, and you lost all you had written? Would you feel crushed, sad, outraged? Or would you shrug your shoulders and say the following? 'Ah, well. It was just words on paper, not a part of me, unimportant to my life's journey.'

What is your view? Is your writing a part of you?

Surrender the Wind ~ A novel borne out of blood, sweat, and tears...All 100,000 plus words a part of the writer who wrote it.

To be released, August 2009

Monday, December 15, 2008

I have put up a new website. It needs some tweaking.
Author Amy Deardon tagged me.

I'm supposed to list seven random things about myself, so here goes.

1. I was six and in the first grade in this picture. I wouldn't smile because I had lost my two front teeth. My mother insisted on the 'doo'.

2. I wrote my first short story when I was eleven, about a little girl that found a horse in an abandoned stable in the woods, complete with illustrations.

3. I'm afraid of spiders, especially big, hairy wolf spiders.

4. I like thrift shopping for designer name brands.

5. Once upon a time, I scaled and repelled a one-hundred-foot-high cliff in New Mexico on an outdoor school, built a 'houch' in the woods and slept in it alone for two nights. While thumbing it home, I almost got trampled by a herd of Texas longhorn steer. My husband, Paul, got me over the fence just in time. Ah, the days of foolish youth, back in 1983!

6. I've made seven bed quilts and four quilt wall-hangings.

7. I married my high school sweetheart.

8. One for Good Measure ---- Best-selling romance author Nora Roberts is my first cousin. Her father was my mother's brother, and we had our annual family reunions at his house in Silver Springs, Maryland every August. In the yard were cherry trees, and we kids loved picking them and stuffing ourselves.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

(What's outside my window....rain.)

1. There is a lot of talk on writers blogs about the state of the publishing industry and how the economy is effected it now and in the future. Rachelle Gardener and Chip MacGregor, Christian literary agents, have some interesting posts. I'd like to put out there to any author that is feeling depressed or fearful not to lose heart. Hold on to Proverbs 16:3. 'Commit your works unto the Lord and he will establish your thoughts.'

2. Today, I will be building a new website through doteasy. My site was with freewebs, but I'm canceling since it was attacked by a trojan through a banner ad and they did nothing to help. I'm excited to make a new look, new information. I'll post the url when I am through.

3. Here are a few things printed in the Frederick News Post one-hundred-years ago. Frederick at that time, was a small agricultural town in central Maryland south of Gettsyburg and north of Antietam battle field, along the Catoctin Mountains in a peaceful place called Apple Valley.

December 9, 1908 -
Minnie Page, colored, was arrested last night by Officer King, on a charge of keeping a disorderly house.

Yes, they printed 'colored'. It made me wonder what kind of house Minnie kept. Perhaps she was not a good housekeeper? We will never know.

December 10, 1908 -

Boys will be boys! My son, when he was ten, shot out the neighbor's sliding glass door when he discovered a be-be gun in her son's closet. Of course we paid for it, and he worked it off.

While Charles and David Funk were throwing stones at each other on East Fourth street yesterday afternoon, one of the missiles struck a pane of glass in the store window of Mr. Lewis M. Kintz, East Fourth street, breaking it. The mayor was notified and Officer Herwig placed the boys under arrest. They were taken before Justice Alfred Ritter who dismissed the charge, the boys’ mother agreeing to pay for the broken window.

What could be more romantic than an elopement? My great-great grandparents eloped and were married in Washington DC on Christmas Day, 1864. Their story has been shrouded with some mystery throughout the years.

Miss Janie Price Gaines, daughter of Dr. John M. Gaines, of Hagerstown, and Dr. I. M. Wertz, a prominent young physician of that city, eloped yesterday afternoon, going to Baltimore on the Western Maryland fast mail train, where they were married by an Episcopalian minister. It was largely through the aid of a friend and his big touring car that the first part of the elopement was a success.

As I read these each morning, I think how they could fit into a novel or short story. I wrote one short story based on the robbery of a man and had it on my website for a time. Maybe I'll put it there again...or here next time.

Surrender the Wind
Coming August 09

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Book Cover for Surrender the Wind

When I opened my email box on Thursday morning, and saw that an email had come from my editor with the cover, I froze. My hand paused above the keyboard. I took in a deep breath, and then I opened the attachment. What I saw took that deep breath away. Here is the final cover for Surrender the Wind, to be released in August 2009. I hope you like it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

(What's outside my window? A gray sky against the barren limbs of my sugar maple that look ready to burst with snow.)

I'm taking a different route today on the road to publication, by featuring Linore Rose Burkard's Regency romance entitled 'Until the Season Ends'. You are greeted by a gorgeous cover, with two lovers whose eyes are aglow, and whose smiles are slightly mischievous, dressed in period clothing that rival the recent PBS versions of Jane Austen's novels.

I haven't met a person yet that hasn't enjoyed novels of the Austen kind. I think many readers have grown weary of bodice ripping tomes, and now long to read romances in the vein of Austen and Bronte. They want stories of love, loyalty, faith, friendship, courtship, and marriage.

Until the Season Ends swept me away straight through the door of a country house, into the halls of London's high Regency society, where Ariana Forsythe meets a dashing bachelor --- Mr. Phillip Mornay. Immediately I was endeared to Ariana and rooted for her that she would win Mr. Mornay's heart and bring him into a more peaceful valley than the low one he had been treading through.

Please visit Linore's website for more details at
You can purchase
Until the Season Ends from Amazon,, Barnes & Noble, and other online stores. Until the Season Ends would make a great Christmas gift for the readers on your list...especially your mom, best friend, sister....

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Evolution of a Book Cover

(What's outside my window? It looks like it is going to snow. White-gray sky. Misty landscape.)

Things are moving fast at Abingdon. My cover arrived in my inbox today. It's gorgeous. It is not quite finalized yet. My editor and the Abingdon staff have asked for a change in the font and its size for the title, and to increase the size of my name.

Once it is final, I will put it on my website and blog. For now you have to picture it. A windswept sky and an old English manor in the background. The antagonist standing to the left, his face bitter and angry, his fist clenched. The hero, Seth, stands behind Juleah his wife. His right arm holds her at her waist, his left hand encircles her forearm. She has her face turned toward him. He is looking out from the cover, to you the reader, with the air of an honorable man. His face shows he is protective of his wife at all costs. Juleah is dressed in a green gown with three-quarter length sleeves edged in draping lace. Seth is in a black overcoat with a white neck-cloth tied at his throat.

I cannot wait for the final result.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tis the Season

Tis the Season is a phrase that tells us the Holidays are upon us. When a novel is going through production, tis the season for rolling up your sleeves and working as hard as you can, writing the best you ever have.

It's been a while since I last posted. Things are quiet right now, in regards to the production of
'Surrender the Wind'. I finished my edits a day early. What a fantastic experience.

Writers, when you receive your first round of edits, do not cry, wring your hands, panic, or throw yourself prostate on the ground. Shove all that emotion aside. This is a time of tremendous growth and learning. Dig in your heels!

My editor showed me areas of weakness I did not see before. She showed me places where I needed to take the reader deeper. There was one scene in particular that I had to totally remove. I had thought it was good writing, but she pointed out it did nothing to move the story forward. There were a few chapters that I had to do a total rewrite, and afterwards I saw how much improved the book is now due to the expert eye of my editor. She also pointed out the good things, noted where she felt emotionally engaged, where the writing was strong.

Trust you editor.

Note: My website has been infected with a bug. I have been sending 'tickets' to my web server and they have done nothing. For now it is down. If you know of a really reliable web server, let me know about it. I've been looking at some, and they seem great, except they have templates I do not like.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Power Failure

On Thursday morning, I was working on the macro edits, when suddenly the power went out. Black screen. No electricity! It was not restored until 5 o'clock. I thought I had lost all the edits I had worked on. But on Saturday morning, when I opened the file everything was there. Whew!

Writing tip from macro experience:

Use Google maps to figure out distances between locations in your story. Your readers will want to know how far the manor house is from the village on the Devon coast of England. They will want to know how long it would take for your heroine to travel by coach from London to Bristol, for example. Time is important. Distance is also important.

Use words that express the passing of time when transitioning from one chapter to another, or from one scene to another.

The next day...
The following morning...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Little Writing Tip

(Outside my window this morning: A northern clipper has descended upon the land. A wintry sky, a chilling wind, is still as inspiring as a summer's day.)

I'm tossing in a very brief entry today. Just a little writing tip that I have picked up on while working on the macro edits, which I am about halfway finished. The deadline is Tuesday, so time is precious.

If you want to build intimacy between characters, use dialogue.

So simple. I know, I hear you saying, "I knew that". Ask yourself, if you really do know. In your work in progress, are you moving the story along with dialogue coupled with action? Are you building the relationship between your hero and heroine through their conversations with each other? Are you using the dialogue to make smooth transitions between scenes?

Post your answers to these questions in the 'Comments' section.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


(This photo was taken in 1909 either somewhere in Maryland or in Washington, DC. The couple in the middle, with the girl on the boy's knee to the left are my grandparents. On the back of the photo are all the names. It must have been a church get-together or a teen party of some kind. I will never know.)

Every morning in the Frederick News Post, my hometown newspaper, they post a few clips of what happened on 20/50/100 years ago. The 100 year ones are often humorous, but sometimes serious. They really reflect how different things were back in those days. If a person spit on the sidewalk, they'd be jailed and fined. The railroad was new to the area and a huge attraction as was the automobile. Horses broke from their hitches and ran amuck through the streets.

I've been thinking this morning about 'Time'. How quickly it goes by, how thousands of people have been born an died and past into obscurity forever. Remember the phrase, 'seize the day'. Do that today. Hug those you love, give praise where praise is due, and don't forget your Creator while you are at it.

I'm taking a brief pause from the macro edits this morning to share what happened 100 years ago in Frederick County, Maryland.

On November 14, 1908
Grace, the 3-year-old daughter of Mr. Edgar Philip Flook, residing west of Middletown, met with an ugly and painful accident Saturday, November 7, when she fell backwards from her high chair at the table and almost cut her tongue in two. Dr. Lamar, Middletown, was summoned and after putting the little sufferer under the influence of chloroform, placed eight stitches in the severed tongue.

Miss Ivy Hoover, of Basin, Montana, daughter of Prof. E.C. Hoover, formerly of Wolfsville, this county, writes a friend in Hagerstown that she had her first vote for President this year. In Montana the women have the privilege to vote.

On November 16, 1908

Mr. John Matthews, of near Emmitsburg, has succeeded in growing a new variety of corn, which for lack of a better name has been called “rainbow.” The ear is of good size, fairly well-grained with kernels of widely different color — yellow, white, black, grey and intermediate blues.

Gen. Adam E. King, of Baltimore, has been invited to deliver an address at the dedication of the monument erected on the Monocacy Battlefield to the memory of the Sixty-eighth, the Eighty-seventh and the One Hundred and Thirty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiments which took part in the battle at that place on July 9, 1864.

On November 19, 1908

Grant, the equilibrist, and his trained dog Betsy, and Leonard, the funny monologist, entertained another large audience at Family Theatre last night. These acts, together with life motion pictures and illustrated songs, are making a hit this week at this theatre, which is growing in popularity and is drawing larger audiences each evening.The new electric light dynamo purchased from Hagerstown Railway Co. arrived yesterday afternoon on the Frederick Inter-Urban Railroad.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Writing, writing, writing....

(Outside my window, the sky is gray and cloudy. It's rained almost all day.)

Working on edits. My editor is awesome. Writers, this is the first phase of editing you will go through .... the macro edits. Her comments and suggestions are fleshing out my characters to a greater degree, and I'm learning so much about how to change those pesky 'ing' words into a more aggressive voice.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Macro Edits

(Outside my window the sky is gray. It's going to rain. A good day for being inside and making a huge pot of soup.)

I opened my email this morning at 7:30 am. My editor has sent me my macro edits. I haven't opened the file yet. I decided, I'll finish my coffee, eat a bowl of oatmeal, take a shower, dress and then roll up my sleeves. I'm going to put a sign on my door that says 'Do not disturb. Working on edits!'

I'll let you know, dear readers, how this goes, if the file is dripping in red, oozing through the crevasses of my computer, plopping down onto my desk. It may not be so bad. Barbara's email to me was kind. She said
Surrender the Wind is a romantic, satisfying read, and that readers are going to love it. She ended saying I had done a great job and should be proud of my work.

Well, that give me hope.


I couldn't wait. I opened the file, and to my joy it wasn't so bad. In fact, the manuscript is not dripping in red. I glanced over the first through pages, and the notations Barbara has made are great, as well as important to the flow of the story.

I read somewhere recently that every writer, no matter who they are, needs a good editor. I'm on my knees thanking the good Lord for mine.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Diverting a Bit

(What's outside my window on this beautiful autumn Sunday? Golden leaves from my maple tree blanket the deck and yard. Spunky squirrels are chasing one another up the tree. The sky is cloudless and deep blue.)

I love this time of year. It's the time for sweaters, wrapping up in a quilt on the couch to read. It's an inspiring time of the year for me, and I get more writing done than in the summer months. I'm diverting a bit in this entry from the production of Surrender the Wind. I was on the subject of characters the last time, and characters, to me, are what makes a book long as they becoming living, breathing, flesh and blood people to readers.

I'm currently writing another novel entitled Beside Two Rivers. It is next in the Lion and the Eagle series of books that transport readers between early America and its mother --- England. Next weekend my husband and I are going to get up early and take a day trip out to the Potomac and the Harpers Ferry area where part 1 of the story takes place and Beside Two Rivers ends. Hubbie went fishing there yesterday morning at 5 am and said the trees were beautiful, especially the sycamores.

Anyway, I have been working on a scene in the book, and suddenly two characters popped up first in my imagination and then on paper. Rose and Lily --- twin nieces of my hero Ethan Brennan. They have added a new twist to the story --- born out of wedlock to Ethan's sister, Georgianna, who died giving birth to them. Ethan has the responsibility of raising his nieces, as well as protecting them from their unfavorable father and the scandal that could follow them throughout their lives. The heroine, Darcy Morgan, will come to cherish these children as well.

Rose and Lily are day and night. Rose has dark hair, round apple cheeks and large brown eyes. She's a bit of a tomboy at age 3. I've named her after my mother, and modeled her personality from the descriptions of her as a little girl. Bashful Lily has sandy hair, curls that tumble down to her shoulders, blue eyes and creamy skin. She is more the little miss.

This was not planned. Often my minor characters are not. They just pop up. As a writer, does this happen to you while working on your novel in progress? Please share with me.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Characters --- Who Are They?

It's been a beautiful October in Maryland. The trees are vibrant with color this year. Almost three months ago, I sent Barbara Scott at Abingdon my manuscript. Surrender the Wind is due for release in exactly one year.

The news on the progression of the novel this week is as follows.

After thinking over the book cover, I considered who I would want to play the roles of my main characters, Se
th and Juleah, if Surrender the Wind happened to be made into a movie. I searched images online and found my perfect pair. I put together a character profile for each, with a photo of two of the best British actors around today, and sent it to Abingdon. I've also uploaded this to my homepage, along with a pictorial of the novel.

(British actor Dan Stevens. He’d be perfect in the role of Seth.)

Seth Braxton: (26) American patriot, son of a patriot, and grandson of an English squire. Seth is outwardly stoic, and he is a skeptic when it comes to anything handed to him by his grandfather. The gruesome realities of war have left him reserved. Yet, the Revolution taught him to be a man of faith and duty.

His own desires in life take a backseat to the needs of his sister, then later to his wife. Doing his duty is honorable to Seth. Seth is a Christian, as were most men of his day, and wrestles with such things as death, eternal life, and forgiveness. He sees life as a journey toward the Truth. He is also doubtful about true love, if it even exists, and is indifferent to it. Seth keeps his true feelings to himself. He will not reveal too much of his inner man. He prefers t
o be alone, unencumbered by human conversation. But this changes when he meets Juleah.

(British Actress Natalie Portman. She looks exactly how I picture Juleah.

Juleah Fallowes Braxton: (22) No powder, rouge, or wig, conceal Juleah Fallowes. She finds those habits marks of vanity. Her hair, long and dark, is brown as the color of oak leaves in autumn. Seth likens her eyes to the color of a moonstone. They sparkle full of spirit, clear a color as amber glass struck with noonday sun.

She is the daughter of an eccentric landed gentleman, who likes to romp barefooted in her father’s fields and wade in the pond on moonlit nights. She is a romanticist in many ways, a poetic creature with deep feelings. She is strong-willed, yet disciplined and passionate. She is not afraid to speak her mind, especially to Seth. She feels she must prove herself to him, that she is not the timid English girl that keeps her eyes always down, that only speaks when spoken to, that does not laugh in public or interject her opinion especially on matters of religion and politics. She wants him to see her as educated and a free thinker. Juleah is also loyal, and Caroline Braxton’s closest friend.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Book Cover in Production

More on the production of Surrender the Wind.

Yesterday, my editor sent an email and asked that I send her a professional color photograph by December. I take terrible pictures. I guess I've never found anyone that can get the right angle and lighting, along with the right expression. I have one photo taken in 2001 that isn't too bad. But me and cameras don't get along. I always seem to shut my eyes or screw up my face just as the shutter is clicked. The picture here is me in first grade. I would not open my mouth to smile because I was missing a front tooth.

I did some research and found a fantastic photographer in Frederick, Maryland. Studio 11 is owned and operated by Barbara Campbell. She sold me when I saw her self-portrait on her blog. I'll be calling her for a head shot.


Early this morning, my wonderful editor, Barbara Scott, sent an email asking me to give her more descriptions of my hero and his nemesis. She informed me the designer is already working on the cover. A follow-up email blessed my socks off. She described what they have in the works ---Ten Width, the manor house in the story, is in the background, my hero and his lady are standing just in front of it as if they are in a cozy garden. The drawing of the manor looks like a photo I have of Symondsbury House in England, which in my imagination fits Ten Width to the tee. Barbara said she was stunned by the charcoal drawings the designer showed her. Since the novel is a historical, the cover will be rendered in oils. "Oils!" said I. What no photo-shop like the pod publishers use? I am stunned and elated! Writers, it's worth the wait to find a 'real' publisher. Don't hurry by having your book published by a pod or self-publishing firm.

Now, someone has got to pinch me and wake me up!

(Check out the 'Must Reads' and the 'Books to Anticipate' and the side bar.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You Have to See it to Believe It

You have to see your story in your mind's eye before you believe it...or believe in it. Writers for the most part of right brain thinkers. You have a vivid imagination. Were you the child that sat in the classroom, chin in hand, staring out the window, the voice of the teacher drowned out because you were somewhere else? That was me. My parents got plenty of complaints.

One way to overcome writers block is to take some time off from your computer, go to a quiet place, and think about your story. Picture your hero and heroine in your mind, and run them through the scene you most recently wrote. Th
en move them forward. This is a form of 'ruminating', and it brings them alive to you.

For over a week, my hero has been stuck in a scene. Before all this he was in many ways secondary to my heroine. But because of her rejection of him, in what he believes is the second time, and he deeply in love with her, as well as angry, I had to bring him forward. He is in pain, and in the midst of it he is slammed with
another unexpected problem.

I rapid wrote in my binder the scene. I've gone back
to it four times. Something was missing. I sat down and imagined him going through the scene and in popped a minor character who will do the antagonist's bidding. I could see him in my mind's eye. A short, pale man, dressed in a black overcoat, waistcoat, and breeches, his sparse hair combed smooth over his head to hide a receding hairline. He is pompous, and has a perpetual smile boarding on a sneer as he unfolds to Ethan why he has come to Faircross. I found it extremely interesting that he is replacing Ethan's stepmother in this scene. She is out. She has also had a stroke, and is unable to defend herself against the trouble that has arrived on her doorstep. Her advocate is Ethan, who will also be his beloved's advocate as she is pulled into this.

Don't hurry through a scene. Think about it. Imagine it. Run it over in your mind as if you are watching a movie. Write down what you see
until you finally get it all --- all the ambiance and all the characters that must be there.

(On the sidebar, you will see something new. Must Reads - these are historicals written by some of the finest writers today who are publishing in the CBA marketplace. Books to Anticipate - Future Releases - these are novels to look out for, that are currently in production, and have tremendous potential for best-sellers. You can visit the authors' websites by clicking on their names.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The 'I Love Your Blog Award'.

Whahoo! My first blog award came from author Pamela Thibodeaux in a comment she left me yesterday.

Thanks, Pam. This is so much more fun than being 'tagged'. I don't have time for playing tag anymore, but I have time to have fun with this. The difficult part is to only award seven blogs among my favorites. Perhaps I'll make this a monthly event. I'll see.

The rules for this award are as follows:
1) Add the logo of the award to your blog
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

Drum roll, please! Here are the seven blogs I've given this award to.

Marylu Tyndall - 'The Cross & the Cutlass'

J. M. Hochstetler - 'The American Patriot Series'

Brandilyn Collins - 'Forensics & Faith'

Linore Rose Burkard - 'Return to What It's All About'

Okay! Okay! I can't stand it any longer. It's just too hard to choose! So, readers, on my 'Blogs & Sites', everyone that is listed there has my vote. They are all favorite blogs that I love to read. I know I'm breaking the 7 choices rule...blame the rebel in me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Novel in Production --- Novel in Progress

(What's outside my window this morning. . .The leaves on the sugar maple are turning golden.)


Yesterday, I emailed my editor with a list of things available from ACFW that will help market Surrender the Wind. She was enthused. I'm a marketing nut. I love it. I love the challenge. I love finding new ideas, new means of marketing and promotion. I bought a three-ringed binder at Wal-mart the other day. I printed out on bright pink paper 'Marketing' and slipped it through the plastic insert on the front. I have it all in a doc. file, but I print out my plans as well and put them in the binder.

I was thrilled yesterday to learn my publisher has hired a publicity firm who will launch a campaign for the first list of novels coming out in 2009, and put trade ads in Publishers Weekly. They are working on other marketing plans as well. I feel I've hit pay dirt. Abingdon is totally committed to the success of their new fiction line.

The quietest time of the day for this writer is. . .

. . .either in the early morning hours or in the middle of the night when everyone else in the house is sound asleep. It happens to me often. I wake in the middle of the night, and grow so restless I have to get up. A scene for my current novel in progress suddenly bursts into my mind like flood waters gushing over a dam. Images of my characters doing something forces me to get up and write it all down, otherwise when I do wake in the morning, I might have forgotten.

About 1 a.m. last night, I woke to seeing a mental image of my hero Ethan riding his lathered horse onto his estate, climbing down from the saddle and handing the reins to a servant. He has exhausted himself and his horse in a hard ride, in an attempt to shake off his raging emotions after an encounter with the woman he loves. He was rejected yet again, and stomps inside the house, met by a concerned housekeeper who informs him that men had come while he was away, men who said they were his father's creditors. They've left him a letter outlining the reasons why they insist on seeing him right away. His deceased father has left the estate deeply in debt due to his insatiable thirst for 'playing the cards'. Payment must be made.

I see Ethan's expression change from painful anger to subtle worry and disappointment. Could his day grow any worse? He takes the letter in hand and walks into a room dimly lit by a genial fire in the hearth. He slumps into a chair and reads the missive, then rakes his fingers through his hair.

I don't think I am alone . . .

1. Do you wake in the middle of the night with impressions for your novel?

2. Why do you think it is that suddenly you wake with a scene running through your mind?

3. Do you get up and jot it down, or do you wait for the morning light hoping you will remember?

4. When this happens, does it help you push through writers block?

5. Does it help project the story forward?

6. Is this the time when new characters pop up?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

More On Book Crafts

After finding the websites about making book purses, I came across this website this morning and was fascinated by the creativity of this artist/author. You know the old saying, 'One man's trash is another man's treasure'? Jim Rosenau has certainly made this a reality. On his website, his biography states:

Jim Rosenau was raised in a house with 5,000 books. He has been making and selling thematic bookshelves from vintage books since 2002. The idea occurred to him years earlier after reading an essay, "Books As Furniture," by Nicholson Baker. Given his background as the son and grandson of publishers, he assumed the reaction, should he make such a thing, would be furious. The work, once underway, proved him wrong. His book furniture has since earned him a wide following with work sold in almost 50 states and countries. Primarily shown at closely juried shows, he is also represented by dealers from Vermont to Los Angeles. The work has been widely published in print and on the Internet.

Visit his site for inspiration. Perhaps you have some old books laying around that you could turn into a birdhouse, a bookshelf or bookcase? Here is a craft forum that explains how to do it. Scroll down the page for the instructions.;topic=98846.0

Or maybe you would want to order a custom piece from Mr. Rosenau. How fun it is to find such things such as these book crafts on the Internet.

I love this birdhouse made out of old copies of Tom Saywer and a corncob pipe. From the website 'Uncommon Groups':
Designer Dave Vissat stumbled upon this ideas when he was making a birdhouse for his mother. He ran out of wood, so he resorted to using an old book as a roof. Then he began incorporating interesting text and illustrations as well.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Book Purses

In light of marketing ideas, this one I think beats all....ah, maybe. You have to be crafty with this idea, and have the time. But it might not be a bad idea if you can part with one of your own hardcover book covers and create a book purse to give away as a prize on one of your website contests. I think this is kind of a hoot actually.

Ellen Meisner has a good example of one on her blog.

If you decide you like doing this kind of crafty thing, you could make a mint! Check out this company. $155 for a book purse! Or if you want to treat yourself big time, she has some beautiful book purses.
This would be a fun craft for kids to do too. You could find used books cheap at a Goodwill store or other thrift shops.

Have fun!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Literary agent, Rachelle Gardner, is blogging about the publishing process on her blog, Rants & Ramblings. This morning she gives insight and advice into the editorial process, focusing on the emotional aspect. Her advice? 'Enter the editorial process with a humble and teachable spirit.'

This is great advice --- wisdom that will keep us from plunging into discouragement, or even depression, when the our editor sends pages and pages of notes for revisions. I'll be getting the first round of edits from my publisher soon and, I admit, I've been nervous about it. So, I sat down and wrote out a list of points for me to keep in mind, printed it out and taped it to my computer.

1. My editor will carefully prune away the dead wood.

2. She will sweep errors away.

3. She will polish my book to a high sheen.

4. She will leave my tone intact.

5. She will bring focus and flow together.

6. She will edit my book and work alongside me to produce a great novel that readers will love.

If you are in the midst of the editorial process, I wish you well. I'd love it if you would post your comments about how it is going for you.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Days We Live

A few thoughts today. I attended a 'wedding' last night. I don't know why people are getting married on weekdays except for maybe it is cheaper. But my husband had to take a day off of work without pay. So did other people. Fortunately it was in town.

I miss the old fashioned Saturday afternoon church weddings. I miss hearing Jesus mentioned, and that God joins these two people together, let no man put asunder. I miss hearing the exchange of vows. Call me old fashioned again, but I think white bridal gowns should be reserved for chaste young women, not women who have lived several years with a man. Gee, wear a color like pale pink or champagne. I guess this part of my blog will offend someone, but it is not meant to. It's nothing personal, just an opinion.

The other thing is not allowing children, even children that are family. I remember weddings growing up and everyone in the family were there --- babies, kids, teens, aunts, uncles, cousins... My kids were not invited, even though they are young adults, but for the bride's family, the kids were all there. It bothered my sons a bit, but then they were kind of relieved not to have to sit with a bunch of much older adults and listen to toasts.

When my niece got married a year ago, the reception room was filled with family and friends from babies, toddlers, kids, adults, to older people. The babies and toddlers bounced to the music out on the dance floor with moms and dads. Teens lined danced. It was a joyous time filled with love and laughter. My father used to say when we had get-togethers like that, as he looked around at the children he'd say, 'This is what it's all about'.

Speaking of kids, I have to throw this in.

My youngest son is a musician --- plays in a metal band. At age 20 he can still have a 'attitude' or be 'sweet as honey'. He's talented, ambitious. When he was a toddler, he'd walk around the house and yard with his plastic toy hammer tucked into the waistband of his pants, wore a G.I. Joe hat until it fell apart. He played football in the city league, then moved on to paintball and dreamed of playing in national tournaments. His team did win a lot of local ones. Now he is a musician and working. His picture here was taken last Wednesday night at a concert. He looks a bit like a rock star, don't you think? Or close to it? But maybe I'm being biased?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On Balay!

Okay, you ask what does 'On Balay' mean. If you've never experienced rock climbing, you've no doubt never heard this phrase. Years ago, before kids, when I was thin and agile and full of pent-up energy, I went climbing with my husband. I'll not forget the lessons learned. He was fast, sure-footed, and would skid up those cliffs like a monkey swinging in the trees. He was a gymnast and that gave him an advantage.

Me? I was a scaredy cat and slow as molasses on a cold January morning. My balyer coached me up the tough places, told me where to put my hands, my feet. She'd shout at me to pull myself up, to keep going, not to cry, be tough. When I made it, and stood at the top looking down at the place I had begun, a sense of 'I can do anything I set my mind to do', washed over me.

'On Balay' is the communication between the climber and the balayer. The communication needs to be clear, as you shout it up to the person holding your rope and to a partner beside you that checks your rigging and harness, helmet and climber's knot. You do not want to make a mistake. It could cost you. Once the climber is set up correctly the climber can say, 'balay is on' and then a double check and then call, 'ready to climb'.

What does this have to do with a writer's world. My experience climbing a 75 foot cliff in an outdoor school way back in the eighties came to mind this morning. My balay is on and I'm ready to climb. Promotion for Surrender the Wind has already begun, both by me and by my editor. Marketing can be an uphill climb. You have to go strategically, thoughtfully, and use the techniques that experts say work. I will blog about this more later --- but let me say one thing. In today's world the writer's website has got to be the most important tool in the arsenal of marketing. I've seen some good ones, but recently I've seen some really bad ones and that hinders a writers promotion. Later.

Okay, so yesterday, I received word from Barbara that before she left for the ACFW conference, she had posted and announcement about my novel and one other on Publishers Lunch Deluxe, an email newsletter that goes out to thousands of industry leaders, publishers, editors, agents, movie producers and directors worldwide. I scrolled down the page, and there under the inspiration category were these words:

Rita Gerlach's SURRENDER THE WIND, in which an American Revolutionary patriot and his beloved inherit more than an ancestral home in England from his loyalist grandfather, they uncover a sinister plot of murder, abduction, and betrayal - an ominous threat to their new life and love, to Barbara Scott at Abingdon Press, in a nice deal, for publication in Fall 2009, (world).

Fixing my eyes on the paragraph, I stared for a full minute, reading it slowly, trying to absorb it all. I drew in a deep breath, and the palms of my hands started to sweat. I know sounds a bit strange that I would have such a reaction. Shouldn't I have been leaping up and down, dancing wildly about the room? Ah, yes that is a good idea and I should do that from hence forth. It might help me shed a few unwanted pounds and tone up. Ah instead, I settled back in my chair and whispered, "Wow." I have struck gold with Barbara. My contract was signed two weeks ago Friday, and already she is working to promote Surrender the Wind. I have begun as well, starting with a revamping of my website.

So why I am sharing all this? To toot my own horn? No. To brag? Certainly not. I made a promise to my blog readers that I'd share this publishing journey so that....

1. aspiring writers will see that this is what real editors do. That legitimate publishers do promote their authors and the books they publish.

2. that once you sign a contract with a publisher, your editor is your advocate.

3. that scam publishers will not take the time to do anything for you, but will leave you in the misty flats to climb that mountain on your own, without checking to see if you are ready to climb, without helping you make the climb and coaching you on.

Before signing a contract, check out the publisher on Preditors & Editors. Avoid print on demand publishers that have no true editing, no bookstore placement, no industry catalog, and no marketing. Do not let them lure you in when you grow impatient to be published. Wait.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Waiting & Preparing

In an email to me from my wonderful editor, Barbara Scott, she suggested that if I do not have the Chicago Manual of Style, it would be a good investment, since most book publishers use CMS. I bought it from Amazon and I highly recommend that ever writer have this book in their library. It has a fantastic information on writing, examples of edits, what macro and substantive editing is. Oh, by the way. In my last blog entry I called it 'micro' edit. My mistake.

The second editing phase is the substantive. Chicago Manual of Style describes it thus:

“This second editorial process may be called
substantive editing—rewriting, reorganizing, or suggesting other ways to present material. The editor will know by instinct and learn from experience how much of this kind of editing to do on a particular manuscript. An experienced editor will recognize, and not tamper with, unusual figures of speech and idiomatic usage and will know when to make an editorial change or simply to suggest it, when to delete a repetition or simply to point it out to the author, and many other matters. Since every manuscript is unique in the amount and kind of substantive editing desirable, no rules can be devised for the editor to follow.”

Barbara is currently at the ACFW conference in Minneapolis. I wasn't able to attend. I'm at home working on another novel, and preparing myself for the macro edit to arrive most likely on a day and time I will least expect it. It's very exciting. If you've never seen a macro edit, or a red-lined manuscript, do a image search on Google. I found an example on Don McNair's website. I don't know anything about him, so I can't recommend him as an editor. However, this is the best example of a red-lined manuscript I could find online.

Until next time....

Friday, September 12, 2008

One Step at a Time

Well, the contract is signed and the ball is rolling. Surrender the Wind is entering the production phase at last. A few of my writing friends have asked me to blog about the process. As I move through this journey, I will share the steps I must take along the way in order to bring this novel to fruition.

The first step, called 'a micro edit', will be arriving in my email box soon. My editor will send me suggested changes in characters, plots, pacing, and so forth. I was convinced she intends to lead me firmly but gently, when she told me this first phase will make my manuscript stronger, but that I might throw myself across the bed in tears. She urged me not to. So, I'm telling myself to have a thick skin and a teachable spirit. She is coming alongside me to help me polish Surrender the Wind to what she referred to as 'a high sheen'.

To visualize this more clearly in my mind, I thought about when my husband builds a guitar. The body is cut from a fine, quality piece of wood. He buffs it out over and over with an electric sander until it is as smooth as a swatch of silk. Then he applies stain, buffs it out several times and reapplies more stain. The final step is to apply several coats of high gloss finish until the body and the neck is like a mirror of color. It is not until the guitar looks and feels perfect to him before he adds the electronics and strings. When all is complete, he tests out the sound by playing it.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Road to Publication: what happens after the contract is signed.

A quick-match tale of unexpected love . . . A fuse that burned rapidly

Surrender the Wind

In bookstores ~ Autumn 2009

I posted the following in Stepping Stones Magazine for Writers to garnish the September issue.

When you set your feet upon a path and begin walking, you might encounter a few trip hazards along the way. You might encounter a road block or two, or a fork in the road. The road to publication is not easy. But if you want it, you'll have to get up when you trip and dust yourself off. You will have to figure out a way around the road blocks, and choose the right direction you should turn. In oth
er words, the key to publication is persistence. Don't sit down on the side of the road for long and weep. Get up and keep moving; sprint toward the tape.

For some writers the journey may
be brief, for others long. It doesn't matter the time it takes. What matters is reaching your goal, and you have to be committed to reaching it, no matter how old you might get, or how arthritic your fingers become after years of pounding away on a keyboard. One of my goals with Stepping Stones Magazine is to encourage and equip writers, especially those starting out and the not yet published.

You find plenty of information in books and online about writing, about the submission process, etc. But there is little about what happens after you sign on the dotted line. I recently asked a group of published authors to share their experience of what happened after they signed their contracts...what stages they went through up to the release date and beyond. Here are their answers.


Rita, I'd be happy to go through the publication process after the contract is signed.

1. contract is signed. You agree on a deadline for the manuscript to be turned in. You will receive part (usually half) of the advance. (this is an agreed upon amount of money your publisher is paying for your book)
2. Now, you must write and write well! And make your deadline.
3. Publisher designs the cover or hires someone to design the cover and they will send it to you for your opinion. In my case, I don't have much say over it except to make minor changes. If I really hate it, I'll tell them, but unless they agree, they pretty much use whatever cover they want.
4. On or before your deadline, you turn in the manuscript. (For me, it's already been through my critique group and a freelance editor I hire to look it over. The deadline is usually 6-9 months before the book release. (You get the other half of the advance)
5. Your publisher will submit your manuscript to either an in-house editor or they will hire someone to do a line by line detailed edit of your book. This is not only grammar and punctuation, but plot, characters, tension, historical detail, .... anything that stops them. They are not your enemy. (You have to keep saying this to yourself) Their job is to make your novel the best it can be. They will work with you to "fix" your manuscript. This process could take days or weeks.
6. After the editorial changes are done, I'm told my manuscript gets read by several more people at the publisher. Any further changes are made at that time. A couple months before release I get the galleys, which is a printed form of my book just as it will appear when it is packaged as a novel. This is my last chance to read the whole thing offer and make an "minor" changes.
7. One month before release, I give my publisher a list of influencers who are willing to read my book and if they like it, tell others about it. My publisher will send advanced reader copies out to these people. At this time, ARCs also go to online reviewers, magazines, and other book reviewers. Publisher weekly, etc....
8. Two weeks before release, I will get my "free" author copies in the mail. How many copies that is, depends on your publisher. At this time, I begin my personal marketing. I have contests on my blog, I do blog tours, interviews..etc... give free copies to my local bookstores, church library... book clubs..etc.
9. Some publishers will do their own marketing for your book. They will put ads in magazines, send news releases out to bookstores, etc.. Some have their own in-house publicists and some hire an outside one. Depending on how much they do, you may have radio interviews set up, or book signing tours... etc..
10. The book release date arrives. You wake up, expecting fireworks and parades in your honor, but then your kid asks where breakfast is and your cat throws up on the carpet, and you realize that was only a dream. But really, nothing new happens.
11. At this point, I'm usually onto the next book, but I may get an occasional interview (online or radio) or someone wanting to help promote me on their blog... but it is usually pretty quiet. I may get some reader mail from people who are reading my book, and there may be some reviews that show up on Amazon or, but my work is really done, unless I have a book signing or something my publicist has set up.

Okay, that's all I can think of.. I've written it fast... so it may not be thorough, and I'm sure other authors have had different experiences, but feel free to ask me anything else...
MaryLu Tyndall:


From author Terri Kraus:
One other step that may or may not be included: Endorsements. The
publisher asks you to send endorsement requests to people in the industry. Once you have a list of possible endorsers, the publisher sends a galley out to them, with a deadline on when they must have the book read and their endorsement submitted.