Saturday, May 17, 2008
Well, I've just started the final stretch of One Night in Napa (current WIP), which means tackling The Black Moment. This, of course, is the point in the story where Everything Goes Terribly Wrong and the readers thinks there is No Way The Hero And Heroine Will Ever End Up Together. Black Moments are usually challenging for me to write, though this time I feel a little more secure in the way the story's going up to this point, so that helps.
One thing I have to remember, which a well-published author once told me, is that my sentences and paragraphs at this point should be short. Lots of tension, lots of movement. No dilly-dallying around with lengthy sentences of description. So that's what I'm keeping an eye on. It's only a first draft, though, and I really want to just push through it. My goal is to finish by the end of this month (and really, I'm only 12K words or so from my projected word count), and since I began it totally from scratch on March 1, that will mean 3 months to completely write a 60K word first draft. I'm pleased. After that, I'll let it sit for a month or so, and then do a first revision. My end goal, I think, will be 65K - 70K words. That seems to be a solid length for Samhain novels, which is where I'll pitch it.
And speaking of new works, Marianne's Yellow Rose novella "A Change of Heart" released this week, over at The Wild Rose Press. I had the pleasure of reading this gem when it was in its first stages, and as usual, she's written a charming story with great characters. She's gotten some terrific reviews on it, too, so take a look!
Friday, May 16, 2008
Appetizer: What is the nearest big city to your home?
Only the biggest, baby - NYC itself (about 65 miles southeast). This in itself can be both a curse and a blessing, however...
Soup: On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how well do you keep secrets?
Hmm. I think I'm pretty good, though it REALLY depends on the situation, the people involved, and the secret itself. Maybe an 8?
Salad: Describe your hair
Too funny, since I just visited the salon yesterday. It's short (I've always had short hair, can't stand long), straight, on the fine side, and as of 24 hours ago, it's brown with blonde highlights and bangs. I haven't had bangs in a while, but I was bored (I get bored with my hair really easily), so I told her to cut some in. But now they're too short. How long does it take bangs to grow, anyway?
Main Course: What kind of driver are you?
Decent. Sometimes I speed on the highway, but I'm pretty good at not letting myself get distracted. I have an impatient streak with other, incompetent drivers, that rises up now and again, though...
Dessert: When was the last time you had a really bad week?
Oh, I couldn't say. My life is pretty good ~ I'm healthy, like my job, have great friends and a loving family, and am seeing my dream of publishing books come true. Anything "bad" is minor (knocking on wood as I type this...)
Have a terrific day!!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Here's my new cover!!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Hi, MJ, and thanks for joining us today! Can you tell us a little about your background?
Thirteen years ago I finished my first novel. It’s taken all this time to sell, with lots of highs and lows in between. I’ve had tons of rejection letters, I’ve finalled in a number of contests, including the Golden Heart. I’ve had an agent, been orphaned by an editor who had been enthusiastic about my work. I’ve had revision letters and I’ve learned a lot that is translating to stronger first draft writing these days. In real life, I’m an elementary teacher, a wife and mother to a 16 year old. I’m lucky to have a lot of support here or this twisty road or I never would have made it to this point!
Wow, what a journey! So tell us about your latest writing project or published title.
Hot Shot was a two time Golden Heart finalist. It was the book that got me my agent and the enthusiastic editor and the bulk of revision letters. It’s the story of a wildland firefighter, Gabe Cooper, who’s recovering from the betrayal of his wife and distrustful of women, and reporter Peyton Michaels, who’s trying to discover what makes a hero.
When Peyton Michaels signed on to write about everyday heroes like her deceased husband, she never expected she’d be running up a mountain with a wildfire nipping at her heels. She never expected to put her life in the hands of hunky Hot Shot Gabe Cooper. And she sure never expected to fall in love with another man who put his life at risk every day.
Gabe Cooper has had enough of women who want to make him into someone he’s not. Peyton may see him as a hero, but he’s just a man doing a job. So he saved some Girl Scouts and pulled his crew out of the fire. It’s no more than any other man would do. But the pesky reporter won’t leave him alone, and the more time he spends with her, the deeper she gets under his skin.
Because Peyton’s husband was killed in the line of duty on the SWAT team, the last person she wants is a man who risks his life every time he goes to work. But when she and Gabe are trapped in a blow-up on the mountain, she not only sees what a hero Gabe is, she finds the charge that makes him go back year after year. She has to overcome her fear of losing him and he has to dig deep to find what it takes to become her hero before they can find their happily ever after.
Sounds terrific! Now that you've weathered so many ups and downs in the business, what advice would you give to new writers just starting out?
Work hard, work smart, and never give up! Story comes first, but craft is important, too.
Ah, good advice. What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?
I like all kinds of books – I recently rearranged my TBR by genre. Romantic suspense outnumbers the rest right now. I love Nora Roberts, Virginia Kantra and Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?
Right now, promotion is the most difficult. I’m in the middle of a new book which I love and I just want to work on that, but I’m also trying to participate on promotional listserves. Some days I come home to 700 emails!
I can definitely appreciate that challenge! How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?
This is my eternal struggle. The thing that suffers most is the housekeeping, naturally. I get up early to write, go to work, come home and do email, take my new (used) laptop out in the backyard to write till dinner, then recharge it and take it back to the couch after dinner to watch TV or movies and write more. I do not sacrifice TV ;) I wonder if Tivo can be considered a writing expense?
Oh, I think you should look into that! What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like playing in the dirt with flowers, and I bought some fabric to make a new skirt and pair of pants, but the fabric remains untouched after over a month!
Thanks for a great interview, MJ! Readers, make sure to check out her website and her blog ~ you might just find a new favorite author!
Monday, May 12, 2008
"Do one thing every day that scares you." ~Eleanor Roosevelt
First off, thanks to everyone who commented yesterday, and especially those who offered suggestions of possible places I might sneak in an author visit.
Marianne, if I end up swinging through the Boston and southern NH areas this summer, I may just take you up on that offer for your local library.
Bunnygirl, I would love the contact info for your aunt who heads up the public library in CT (I'll find a way to contact you offline)!
And here's another possibility: when I got home last night and opened my email, I found a message from my fifth grade teacher...the very same one that One Night in Boston is dedicated to! (My mom called her up and told her about the book and dedication). This is what her email said, in part:
You can't imagine how excited I was to hear you have published your first book. Congratulations! And I am so honored and pleased to learn that it is dedicated to your mom and to me!! What a surprise. Your mom tells me that you will be in town for a signing in July; what is the date for that because I certainly want to see you there and buy your book!
Also I'm wondering if you would be interested in reviewing/leading the discussion of your book for our local book club....Please let me know if you are interested, and I will fill you in on details.
Isn't that cool?
A couple of people commented yesterday about how much work I put into marketing, and it's true, I suppose, I do. It is also quite daunting, however, so I don't want anyone to think I just breeze through these experiences without any qualms. Despite the fact that I stand up in front of high school students each day, I still get uneasy when I'm not in my element. I'm not the person who can walk into a party and strike up a jovial conversation with the first person I see.
But I have always tried to live by Eleanor Roosevelt's words on fears and facing them, which I featured today (up above). I have found that you will amaze yourself if you honestly try to do the thing you think you can't.
Last thing to share for today: the trailer I made for Devon Gray's upcoming novella, Addicted. She picked out the music and wrote the script; I just compiled it. But I think it's terrific, and now I can't wait to read the book! Thoughts?
So it's about 2 weeks until my official print release dates for One Night in Boston and Lost in Paradise. What am I doing this week for promo? Here's the unofficial list...
1. Sending handwritten notes with book info and a SAS postcard (in the hopes they want more info) to independent bookstores in and around Boston, Rhode Island, and southern New Hampshire (this was a suggestion from a couple of different authors I've spoken to in the last 6 months). Of course I didn't get around to buying my Forever stamps last week, so I'm paying the extra penny per envelope starting today...
2. Contacting libraries & book clubs listed on www.booktour.com about possible author visits this summer.
3. Going through www.meetup.com and making a list of any relevant groups that might be interested in a visit from moi.
4. Following up with the woman who's making me some banners to post on a couple of different websites. (I'm excited about this one ~ I don't have any banners right now and am clueless about how to make them myself!)
5. Drafting the next two chapters of One Night in Napa so that I can actually continue to have manuscripts to query (and yes, Summer's Song is still in the wings, waiting patiently for me to revise her once and for all and then send out agent/editor letters. That's on the calendar for June...).
Oh, and don't forget about my contest...every time you post a comment here during the month of May, you're entered into the drawing to win an autographed copy of one of my books!
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Update on yesterday's signing:
The Spotty Dog is a charming little bookstore with a bar inside. They have some great local beers on tap (which they gave us for free...I felt a little like a celebrity!). It's located inside a historic, refurbished firehouse and owned by this very cool 30-something woman who left corporate America to follow her real dream. Here she is with her 2 bartenders:
They set up a great location for us at the front of the store:
And they had a nice little crowd for their Mother's Day Girls' Night Out. I did actually sell 2 copies of One Night in Boston - and got to sign them ~ what a thrill!! Here's a picture of some of us who were there:
I also met another [hugely successful] Samhain author (who doesn't do pictures, so she isn't in the photo), and it was really nice to talk to her about marketing, promoting, etc. Her #1 piece of advice? Be a prolific writer. Every time you publish a book, new readers find it, which means new readers are also then finding your backlist (all the books you've published previously). Do promotions, do signings, do networking, but WRITE above all. Good reminder...
Finally, to all mothers out there (most especially my own!), here are wishes for a very happy Mother's Day. Thanks for all that you do!