Saturday, December 20, 2008

First Snowstorm of the Season!

"Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow." ~Jeff Valdez

Looks like it's going to be a white Christmas here! We got hit yesterday with about 6 inches - not as much as they were predicting, but we're suppposed to get more tomorrow, so...

When it started up, it was pretty fast and furious. Here's a view of the first hour:


In other news, yesterday I killed two characters and cried. Really. I mean, I knew it was coming, but after I wrote the scene and got to the end, I was sad. Darn it. They were nice, good characters, too. I guess my sadness is probably a good sign, though, 'cause they say that if you don't get emotionally involved in your writing, your readers won't either.

Current Word Count for Entwined: 25,228

Yesterday's Fave Sentence: “Do you listen to anything I say, or just think about the next time you’re gonna get me into bed?”

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Season for Sharing: Day Two

"We are not in a position in which we have nothing to work with. We already have capacities, talents, direction, missions, and callings." ~Abraham Maslow

Yesterday I blogged about a few cool sites for writers ~ if you didn't get a chance to stop by, scroll down and check them out.

Today, a couple more sites, especially for those of you querying agents:

Agent Query - great, comprehensive site that lists literary agents, their areas of representation, their contact info, their current interests, etc.

Query Tracker - this neat free site provides data about agents & their response times and average number of yes and no responses. Also lets you keep track of your own query process.

Show Me The Money - in case you're wondering how much romance publishers pay (advance + royalties + average earn-out), this is the place to look. Pretty interesting!

Current Word Count for Entwined: 24,626

Yesterday's Fave Sentence: Pinpricks of light dazzled in the darkness, a galaxy of unconsciousness moving in on her swift and silent.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

'Tis the Season for Sharing

In the spirit of the season (and, well, in the spirit of my blog year-round), I'd like to share a few cool sites I've stumbled across in the last few days. In fact, there are so many of them, I'm going to sprinkle them a little at a time over the next few days. Consider it my holiday gift to you :)

So all you authors out there, make sure you keep on coming back for more!

First off, Author Author is an online bookstore that not only stocks a variety of in-print hard-to-find books, but it also features an Author Purchase Program. Here's the skinny: you can order your author copies of your own book from them, at a discounted price. If you buy 50+, they'll ship free of charge. Now, you can order your author copies from your own publisher, of course. But you don't get royalties on those copies. If you order from Author Author, those copies count as external sales (which looks good with your publisher) PLUS you make royalties on them. They'll send you a free quote, and then you'll have to do the math - for me it works out that it's cheaper to order them through Author Author, so I'll do that in the future. Even if I broke even, though, I'd probably still do that, just because it will bump my sales numbers.

Second, I read an article titled "What Agents Hate" yesterday, and while it had your standard fare, it also included this gem" "I don't want to read about anyone sleeping, dreaming, waking up or staring at anything." LOL - my new editor at Samhain said basically the same thing last week!

Finally, here are some writing-prompt/creativity sites you might want to check out:

Book in a Week - think NaNo is challenging? How about writing a book in 7 days?
SmithMag - write your memoir in 6 words. Yes, really.
The Story Starter - has 340 million sentences, if you're stuck and don't know where to begin.
Writing Fix - one more site that creates writing prompts for you, on the spot.

OK, that's it for today! More fun sharing tomorrow...

Current Word Count for Entwined: 24,173

Yesterday's Fave Sentence: Or are they so entwined in the womb, one curled around the other, that a left foot of hers and a right foot of his make one complete set?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Margay Leah Justice

Welcome to a wintry Writers' Wednesday! (well, here in NY, anyway). Today I'm welcoming author Margay Leah Justice...enjoy!

Hi, Margay! Can you tell us a little about your background?

I am a single mother of two, balancing life with Multiple Sclerosis and caring for a child with Bipolar Disorder and Asperger's Syndrome along with the everyday life of being a mother and a writer.

I can't begin to imagine how busy your days must be! When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?

I think I first began to write the day I learned how to hold up a pencil. I can't remember a time when I didn't write; it has always been an integral part of my life.

Tell us about your latest writing project or published title.

Here's a blurb for Nora's Soul:

When angels of light and dark collide on earth…Once he held a favored position in the heavens. But one moment of weakness casts Dante out and now he is cursed to walk the earth, collecting the souls of vulnerable women to buy his way into hell.All hell breaks loose…But standing in his way is Peter, an angel of light. Peter is everything Dante is not. Pure, above reproach. And determined to prevent Dante from achieving his goals. Peter will stop at nothing to protect the souls in his charge, even if it means achieving the impossible – leading Dante back onto the right path.And no one is safe from the fall-out.

Nora Kendall believed in angels. Once. But then she lost her brother to cancer despite all of her prayers – and she lost her faith in all things angelic. Now, she is a lost soul who wanders through life like a sleepwalker, playing it safe and leaving the risk-taking to others.Kyle Cameron is one of those risks. Burned by a bad marriage, his only concern now is providing a stable life for his children, who are left motherless by the unexpected death of his wife. This means working overtime to grow his architectural firm into a viable business – and leaving the care of his children to the care of someone he trusts. Despite his past connection with Nora, Kyle isn't certain that she's the right person for the job. He also doesn't want to reconnect with her and repeat history.But fate – and the machinations of two angels – has other ideas.

Sounds terrific! Now, how do you go about developing your characters?

I usually do some sort of a character profile/questionnaire to get them firmly fixed in my mind. I also usually have the face of an actor in mind when I write, too. That really helps to get their images down on paper.

What advice would you give to new writers just starting out?

Learn your craft, hone your craft and never stop learning. The day you stop learning is the day your creativity dies. Always work on perfecting your craft, but do it for yourself first. If you don't enjoy writing for yourself, you shouldn't try doing it for others. You really have to love doing it or else you will be easily discouraged when the fame and fortune doesn't come to you overnight. It's a rare thing for that to happen, so expect to put in some time with it before you achieve publishing success.

What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

I love Regencies and Julia Quinn is one of my favorites in that genre. But I tend to read whatever moves me, not just one genre. In fact, I just started reading in the YA genre which is a fabulous arena for truly wonderful stories that have helped me to connect with my daughters on a new level. My favorite author in that genre is Stephenie Meyer, but I also like Mari Mancusi and Melissa Marr.

A Twilight fan, hmm? Well, I won't hold that against you! What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?

For me, it's balancing the details such as setting and background info with the dialogue. Either I put in too much detail or not enough, so I'm always working to make sure the balance is just right. Dialogue, on the other hand, comes easier and I have a lot of fun doing it, especially when it's between the hero and heroine - I love the snappy dialogue from movies of the 30s and 40s and, more recently, Gilmore Girls, so when I can achieve something that comes close, I find that especially rewarding.

How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?

I try to do everything writing related when my daughters are at school or otherwise occupied. I tend to fit my writing around all other responsibilities, carving out whatever time I can in my schedule without neglecting my other responsibilities. Somehow, it works.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I love to knit, crochet, and do crafts. So I'm always creating things! I also love to read and watch movies with my daughters, and spend time with my mother, who passed down all of these creative genes on me.

Anything else you'd like to mention?

For more information on Nora's Soul - and perhaps an advance peek at what I'm working on next - you can check out my website at You can also find me on Twitter, Myspace and Facebook.

Thanks for being here today, Margay!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Word About Piracy

"The only thing worth stealing is a kiss from a sleeping child." ~Joe Houldsworth

For all authors: unfortunately, piracy sites abound, and they'll offer up free downloads of your book for anyone who stumbles across their site. Here's one you should check out: Esnips. Some of the books being "shared" here have been downloaded (illegally) hundreds of times. I also found one of my books on another site, so Google your book titles every so often to make sure they're not hanging out where they shouldn't be! If you find your book, click to download it and then "Report Abuse." You as an author must be vigilant at reporting copyright violation.

For all readers: please remember that accessing these kinds of free book downloads is illegal and hurts authors. When one book is copied and passed around to 10 or 100 friends and neighbors, we still only get royalties on that one initial book. Sharing is fine, and we understand that, but limit it to one or two friends, OK? Then, tell the rest of your friends and neighbors about how great our books are, so that they buy them too!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Very Important Day

"God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December." ~James Matthew Barrie

It's true, today is a very important day.

First, it marks the end of my NaNo efforts - which, you can see, got about 50% of the way to my goal of 50K words in a month. That's OK. I think NaNo is great for writers who have never attempted or completed a whole novel. It shows you that it's possible. But I already know that :) I'll keep going with Entwined, though, and I'll keep posting my progress and fave sentences, because it keeps me on track if I have to be accountable.

Second, it's my birthday. Nope, I'm not telling how old I am (and my mom, who pops in occasionally, is NOT allowed to tell either). The celebration for today includes lunch with hubby and my in-laws, decorating the tree tonight, and quite possibly, large amounts of chocolate :)

I thought it would be interesting to check out what some of those astrology sites have to say, so here you go:

Cafe Astrology has quite a detailed description of what the next year holds for me, concluding that "...You are certainly more enterprising this year, and taking a balanced approach to life, in terms of realistic expectations, is the best approach for maximizing success. This could be challenging at times, since you are likely feeling quite restless. Rebelliousness is a possible downfall. You are more passionate, excitable, and magnetic than ever, and the year is bound to be a very exciting one!"


Birthscopes (quite a sparkly site) tells me that "The December 15th person spends most of their life broadening their horizons. They do this with very little objection from the people around them. This is because Venus, the ruling planet for this day along with Sagittarius's ruling planet Jupiter makes this person very likable. They tend be dreamers and for this reason should guard against being taken advantage of especially in the financial sense. As a mate the December 15th person is loving and values partnerships..."

And FamousBirthdays reminds me that no one terribly notable shares my birthday (this I knew), although Jane Austen's mother was probably in labor, since that grand-dame of the romance genre celebrates her birthday tomorrow!


Also wanted to mention that The Romance Studio is running a terrific "12 Days of Christmas" contest - every day you have the chance to win one of 12 prizes given away by authors. I'll be on there soon, so visit their site to find out all about it!

Current Word Count for Entwined: 23,182

Yesterday's Fave Sentence: If there is anything – if there ever was anything – please call.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


So, an update or two on the status of my writing:

~Finished the revision of Summer's Song and sent the full ms. to the editor who requested it at Avon.

~Heard from the agent who requested the full ms. of One Night in Napa who said she would "read it as quickly" as she could.

~Received my royalty statement from Samhain which includes print royalties from Jan-June 2008. I'm having a hard time reading and understanding it (as are several of the authors, so apparently the publisher's going to clarify in the next day or two). I guess One Night in Boston sold decently (though who's to say...if you want to talk numbers, email me), but it will be interesting to get the next statement, which will be July - Dec 2008 and cover an entire 6-month period of the book actually being out.

Current Word Count for Entwined: 22,360

Yesterday's Fave Sentence: Natasha studies the papers in front of her, but the words swim like Rorschach ink pictures, and all she can see is the stick with the double blue line through it.