Sunday, December 28, 2014
There is no need to set aside writing because the holidays are here. I'm so glad Julie Foster Hedlund launched the 12 Days of Christmas for Writers. Her daily inspirational videos will keep my imagination active and my fingers nimble on the keyboard.
Today she asked each participant to write down their successess for the year. I read hers. She had 31. I can't top that, but I was surprised at how many I found. Here's my list:
I revised the three novels I wrote for 2013's NaNoWriMo. And then I revised them again, and again and again.
I revised several of the PB's I wrote in 2013 and wrote four more.
I entered several writing contests and received a pin from one for participating.
Wanting to try something different, I wrote a non-fiction historical picture book.
I attended SCBWI's Words in the Woods Conference in June.
June was a good month for me. Besides visiting my niece and her family in Texas, I was interviewed by blogger/illustrator Dani Duck.
My interview for MeeGenius about my picture book, Calamity Cat, was also published online in June.
Every month of 2014 I submitted to agents and publishers.
I completed PiBoIdMo and have 28 new picture book ideas.
Once more I tackled NaNoWriMo and wrote a fourth novel for my YA International Intrique series, and was a WINNER with 50,416 words in 20 days. (This was also a surprise.)
I treeted for both PitMad and PitchMAS and received favorites from both.
A publisher who favored my PitchMAS tweet asked to see my entire manuscript after reading the first chapter.
My short story, The Mystery of the Ghostly Thief, was published in Guardian Angel Kids' December issue. (This was also a surprise.)
I won a critique from S. K. Mayhew. (This was also a surprise.)
My list is not as long as Julie's, but I'm happy with my successes.
This was a fantastic idea, to write down one's successes. If I become discouraged with my writing during 2015, I can revisit this site and realize that I have accomplished something with my words, and if I don't give up, I can do even better.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Exciting week. Last Sunday afternoon I submitted my YA, The London Incident, to the agents and publisher who favored it on PitchMAS. Tuesday I had an e-mail from the publisher that stated: "Thanks for sending us this sample of your manuscript. We like what we've read so far and would like to see the entire manuscript." I sent the entire manuscript later that day, after formatting it according to their guidelines. The waiting now begins. It may take as long as 60 days before I hear back from them.
Today I had an e-mail from S. K. Mayhew, Kid Lit Writer. I had posted a comment on her blog and was one of three people chosen as winners of a critique and line edit of a PB, the first chapter of a novel or a query letter, my choice. I am going to send a PB, but am not certain which one. It's so much fun to win something, especially a prize as nice as this one!
Today I was paid for my story that was published in the Guardian Angel Kids' e-zine. If you hadn't read it yet, it's in the December issue and is called The Mystery of the Ghostly Thief. $14.85 was sent to my paypall address. It's nice to be paid for my writing. I feel validated as a writer.
My brother and I made peanut brittle today. It's so good, and easy to make. I'm going to share our recipe. Here it is:
This is a simple and inexpensive peanut brittle recipe: In a heavy saucepan add 2 cups white sugar, 1 cup white syrup (Karo), 1/2 cup water and 1/8 tsp. salt. Heat on stove, med. high, using a Candy thermometer. When this mixture reaches THREAD, (230 degrees), add 2 cups raw peanuts and 2 tbsp. butter. Stir constantly so the peanuts won't burn. Add 1/8 tsp. vanilla. Cook until mixture reaches HARD CRACK (300 degrees). Remove immediately from heat and add 1 tsp. baking soda. Stir vigorously. Pour brittle into two greased cookie sheet pans and spread over pans. (Cooking spray PAM works great to grease the pans.) As mixture begins to cool, use greased spatula and loosen brittle from pans so it doesn't stick. Within minutes brittle is ready to break into pieces and package. This makes 2 pounds. Do not make on a rainy day.
We used to follow an old family recipe and pour the hot brittle on a cold marble, flipping it on the marble and then splitting it into two sections to spread thin. The old recipe called for glucose, which was not always easy to find, and it was messy to make. It also called for more butter and vanilla, and everything had to be weighed as the recipe was in ounces and pounds, not cups. This new recipe is less expensive, takes less time, and the brittle is still thin and delicious. You can view photos of us making peanut brittle the old way in my photo gallery.
My family have made peanut brittle every year around Christmas going back to my great grandmother's lifetime. The old recipe and marble were hers. The minute I tasted our first batch of brittle this year, I said, "It tastes like Christmas." It also tastes like love and happy memories.
Enjoy the recipe. Make your own happy memories. Don't forget to take time out during the busy holidays to relax and enjoy life. Read. Feast. Spread love and good cheer.
Saturday, December 13, 2014 or 12/13/14 (This sequence won't happen again for a hundred years.)
Yesterday was PitchMAS where an author can submit a pitch of 140 characters or less on twitter. If an agent or publisher likes the pitch, he or she favorites it and the author can submit to them. It's like PitMad which I did recently. I had better luck yesterday with four favorites compared to one from PitMad. YA The London Incident received 3, two from agents and one from a publisher. PB The Rainy Day Scavenger Hunt received one from an agent. I also enjoyed all the nice comments from other authors who retweeted my pitches.
This morning I sent the PB with my fingers crossed. It's one I wrote the Feb. when I did a PB a day. However, it is greatly changed from my original version due to the Rate Your Story comments, my writers group suggestions, and the critique I received from Jodell Sadler. DJ now has a stuffed bear helping him find the items and small battery is no longer on the list. Instead he must find a furry animal. I have gone from 550 plus words to 314. I also included illustrator notes. I hope the agent likes it.
I plan on submitting the YA, too, to the three who favorited it. The publisher had specific submission guidelines. It is the first time I have ever had to put my name, address and contact information on every page's header, and the title and page number in the footer. Only the first chapter is requested, so I have already fixed my pages to meet the guidelines. I plan to send it out Monday.
One of the agents is asking for 10 pages and the synopsis, and the other, the first 50 pages. This second agent is the one who favorited my YA The Ghost of Edinburgh Castle during PitMad. This is the 4th book in my International Intrigue series, and I wrote it last month during NaNoWriMo. I didn't sent it at the time as I'd rather start with the 1st in the series and this agent is located in Israel. I wasn't sure if someone from another country, especially one so far away, could take care of my needs. Since she favorited the 1st book in the series this time, I decided to send her that and see if she's interested. I consider my YA romantic thrillers/mysteries' heroine to be a modern Nancy Drew. I even named her Dru. Nancy Drew Mysteries proved to be a highly popular/profitable series.
One of the ladies in my writers group received wonderful news this week. Louann Brown was one of the PiBoIdMo winners. She will be able to share five picture book ideas with an agent. Hurrah for Louann!
I read Tara Lazar's email today, (she is the brains behind PiBoIDMO), and saw that another member from my group, Pam Miller, won a PiBoIdMo mug. Congratulations, Pam!
I'm hoping my name will show up on one of Tara's emails. I also participated in the Picture Book Idea Month. I have 30 new picture book ideas, so in a way, I am already a winner. I need to start writing!
December is a busy month because of the holidays, decorating the house and tree, baking sugary sweets, shopping for gifts. December is also a great month to come up with writing ideas. Perhaps Uncle Elmer tells a funny story during Christmas dinner, or the kids do something hilarious while opening their gifts. Maybe the cat climbs the tree or the dog chews the cord to the lights. Baking mishaps, a surprise Santa, and fun in the snow can all provide story ideas. While you're enjoying the holidays, keep a notebook handy and write these ideas down. Next year you can read your notes and relieve the wonderful times you had, and perhaps a marvelous story will emerge.
My brother and I are making peanut brittle today. Ummmm. I wonder if there's a story in that.
Enjoy the season and keep writing!
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Two days into December and so much has happened. Yesterday I visited the children's e-zine, Guardian Angel Kids, and discovered one of my short stories had been published in the December 2014 issue. I submitted it to the publisher four or five months ago. I had no idea it was going to be published, so it was a pleasant surprise to see my words in print. December's issue is about Mystery Solving and my story is titled The Mystery of the Ghostly Thief. This was one of the picture book stories I wrote in 2013 when I wrote a picture book a day for February. I wrote it on the last day, February 28th. The other PB I had published from this group was Calamity Cat which I wrote on February 18th. Not bad, 2 out of 28 published, and I still have 26 left to work on and submit.
The Mystery of the Ghostly Thief is about a young sleuth named Ethan who helps his friend Connor find out who's been stealing items from his home. I shared this story with my writer's group and had suggestions from them on how to improve my plot. I then sent my story last February (2014) to Rate Your Story, an online site that critiques/rates a story. Their service is free a few months of the year. The story must be formated to fit their guidelines and sent on the free submission day, usually the 1st day of a month. My story was rated a 6 which meant "Not bad, but doesn't stand out." This was the judge's comment:
"I would have given this a better rating if the author had indicated it was a magazine story-that seems better suited for this type of wordier prose and plot-driven story. Have you considered submitting it to magazines? (I'd probably have given it a 3 or 4 if I were judging it as a magazine story.) I think if the author really wants it to be a picture book, it's going to have to get tightened, with a faster pacing structure, more vivid language or "voice," and a little less dialogue (especially with Mom). But these are all my humble opinions. Good luck!"
A 4 rating means "A decent story. Could be great with a few revisions," and a 3 means "Good Story! Get a critique or two and polish before submitting."
It was the judge's comment about giving my story a better rating if it was a magazine story that gave me the idea to submit to Guardian Angel Kids. They had published another story I wrote, Let Your Imagination Soar!, in August 2013. I worked on my mystery story, eliminated most of the beginning including Mom so the word count would fit the submission guidelines, and found the pacing of the story improved.
Thanks to the help of my writers group and the RateYourStory website, my story has been published!
Monday was also my writers group Christmas dinner. We met at Bella Milano's in Springfield. The food was delicious. I had chicken parmasean with a salad and raspberry tea.
There were twelve of us and I don't know another dozen people who could have had as much fun as we did, especially during our present exchange. We drew numbers and the person with number 1 chose her gift first. She opened it and then the next person picked a present, OR she could take the present away from No. 1 if she liked it. If that happened then No. 1 picked another gift and opened it and then No. 3 got her turn. She could also "steal" a present instead of opening one. I know this sounds confusing, but it worked, and it was so funny when someone swiped a gift. Someone liked the book bag and notecards that I had gotten and swiped it. I then opened another gift and in my bag was a note book, journal, stickers, markers and a big pink W to stick on the wall or fridge. W = writer. When I first saw it, I thought it was a M and couldn't figure out what M meant. Duh! Turn it upside down!
Around 2:30 today I glanced out my patio glass door and saw two young deer munching apples from the tree in my backyard. There are some woods back of my home and it's not unusual to see a herd of deer in the evening around dusk. Seeing them in the daylight and so close to my house was exciting. I took some photos and you can see them in my photo gallery.
I hope December continues to be a month of surprises and fun. I plan to start revising my NaNoWriMo novel. I'm going to work on my picture book that Jodell Sadler critiqued, and I'm going to join in on PitMad this Thurday. I already have several twitter messages written about my YA International Intrigue series. I just need to copy and paste. The rule is two an hour, so all day I am going to be twittering #PitMad #YA. PitMad was the brain child of Brenda Drake. Agents check the twitter sites and favorite the pitches they like. If your pitch is favorited by an agent, it means they would like to see more. I received one favorite last time, but after submitting a Query letter, the agent declined. I hope to do better this round.
It's time I wrap this up. Good luck to all aspiring authors. Don't give up! It took almost two years for my latest story to find a publisher, but it happened. It can happen for you, too!
Have a safe and happy holiday!
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
It's the day before Thanksgiving. By now everyone's bought their turkey and it's thawing in the fridge. Menus are planned, pies are being baked, guest rooms are being prepared. Holidays are supposed to be relaxing, but Thanksgiving and Christmas have always seemed hectic, too many things to do and not enough time in a day to get everything done. I hope everyone has a wonderful and fun Thanksgiving with loved ones, family and friends. I know all my family are thankful my nephew Ryan is doing so well after his head injury. He's even returned to work!
November has been hectic for me in many ways. I tackled the NaNoWriMo challenge again this year, writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I did it in 20. I didn't spend as much time per day on writing as I did last year; but I did spend several hours on research.
When I sat down at my computer I had no idea what I was going to write about. I'm amazed I was able to complete a novel without a definitve outline. One day a character popped on my page that I had no idea where he came from. I just wrote him in. Poor man. He was murdered in the next chapter. I'd write two or three chapters a day, and then lay in bed at night thinking about what I would write next. I guess I did my plotting in my sleep.
My novel is the fourth book in my International Intrigue series with teenager Dru and her boyfriend, Darcy. (I wrote the other three books during 2013's NaNoWriMo.) This one is titled The Ghost of Edinburgh Castle.
A vital character in my story is a ghost, Mary, Queen of Scots. It is her treasure my protagonists, Dru and Darcy, seek. I aimed high when I made the treasure the Holy Grail. Guess what. My teens find it! Problem - 2 other people are seaching for it, too, and will do anything to own it, even murder.
There is enough acurate, historical facts that make my story plausible, even believable. If the grail was hidden at Rosslyn Chapel as many presume, Queen Mary could have gotten it the night she visited Roslin Castle in 1563. She could have entrusted it to the Hammermen (a guild of welders much like the Masons), and they could have done to the grail what I said they did in my novel. Mary Magdalene is even mentioned in the story, but it's the Chapel named after her.
I needed help on finding out where an object belonging to the Queen of Scots was now located. I was not having any luck with my Internet search so one night I sent an e-mail to the librarian at Edinburgh, Scotland. The next day I had an answer and she also included links to the object. Imagine! Years ago I would have had to either call long distance and pay an exorbiant fee or mailed a letter and wait days for it to reach the library and then wait even longer for the librarian to return a reply with my SASE. I had my answer in less than 24 hours!
I had the good fortune to have visited Edinburgh in 2012. Many of the things the teens did and saw, so did I. I wish at the time I knew Rosslyn Chapel was only 8 1/2 miles from Edinburgh. I would have done my best to visit it during my stay. A PBS documentary lead to my using the chapel in my story.
Edinburgh also has a special place in my heart as my great grandparents were married there. Which church, I have no idea. Wouldn't it be something if they had been married in the Magdalene Chapel, the one in my story?
It was so much fun writing about my teens once more. I can see them going off on other adventures, to the Carribean seaching for a pirate's treasure, to Ireland, solving a mystery I have yet to imagine, back to Paris for Pierre and Monique's wedding and another mystery. Like the Nancy Drew mysteries of my youth, I'd like to write several books about the same characters solving mysteries, finding treasures and tackling what life throws at them.
Also this month I have been thinking up a picture book idea a day - PiBoIdMo. I so enjoy reading the blogs from the authors/illustrators/agents each day. I have saved them so I can go back and read them over and over again. So many helpful hints and good suggestions as well as encouragement.
Agent Jodell Sadler has critiqued one of my picture books, The Rainy Day Scavenger Hunt. With writing my novel, I haven't had time to read her comments and suggestions, but I am looking forward to doing that next. She did say she liked what I was doing with the story, inviting an activity into a rainy day.
Life is hectic, but I wouldn't want it any other way!
Signing off now with Best Wishes for a Wonderful Thanksgiving.
Friday, November 7, 2014
I'm happy to write that my nephew Ryan was released from the hospital this week and is recuperating at home. He's a lucky young man. Two weeks ago the family weren't even certain he would survive. He's tough, like everyone in my family. Thanks to everyone who offered support and prayers.
My NaNoWriMo novel is progressing nicely. It's day seven and I have over 16,000 words. Pretty good for someone who sat down and just started typing, with no outline or definite plot in mind. I like writing this way, though it's not the norm. It's like the story is writing itself, telling me what words to use next.
I have been doing a lot of research, to keep my facts straight and the story authentic. I know so much about Scotland and it's history, I could probably be a tour guide. Mary Queen of Scots has always fasinated me and I like the way she ties into the story.
I was stumped a couple of nights ago. I searched the web and just couldn't find what I was seeking. So I emailed the Edinburgh, Scotland library with a question. It had to to with their Queen Mary and objects she owned. The next morning I had a reply with the answer I needed. I was amazed at how quickly I received a reply. Kudos to the librarian in Edinburgh.
Though I started without an outline, one is forming in my head. As I lay in bed each night, I continue to work on my story. Thoughts and ideas pop into my mind and the next day what I want to put down on paper is a bit clearer. I know how I want to end the story, I just need to fill in the gaps.
During my writing, I discovered Rosslyn Chapel is only 8 1/2 miles from Edinburgh. I've seen a program on this chapel on PBS. The work inside was done by the FreeMasons and it was tied in with author Dan Brown's book, The DaVinci Code. It ties in with my story, too. I was in Edinburgh in 2012 and had I known this chapel was nearby, I would have visited it. I kick myself now for not knowing. I probably will never be able to see it with my own eyes. My chance has passed.
I've also been doing the PiBoIdMo, coming up with a picture book idea for each day of the month. That's the first thing I do when I sit down at my computer. Next is checking my emails, and then onto my story.
Keep checking my posts to see how my story is progressing.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
What a busy month! November is National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, and Picture Book Idea Month, PiBoIdMo. I am doing both. Nanowrimo is about sitting down at your keyboard each day and writing at least 1,600 words a day, more or less. In 30 days, the end of November, you should have a 50,000 word novel.
I did this last year and surpassed my goal. I had over 155,000 words and 3 novels. I figured I wrote a novel every ten days. All three novels were about teens Dru and Darcy and their adventures. My YA romantic thrillers took my characters to London, Paris and Rome.
When I sat down at my computer Saturday, November 1st, I had no idea what I was going to write about. I enjoyed doing the YA stories, though I usually write Picture Books and for Middle Grade.
Hmmm, what to write? What to write? Should I continue with my series and send Dru and Darcy on another mystery? If so, where? In 2012 I visited Scotland, staying two nights in Edinburgh. I thought about the castles I toured and the ghostly lore they offered. My words started jumping on the page. By night's end I had 2,502 words, three chapters done. I now have a beginning, with no idea yet what will happen next or how my story will end.
While in bed that evening, I began to plot out my ideas. I don't know if I got much sleep. I must have as I wasn't tired when I awoke. It also helped that it was the night we turned the clocks back an hour.
Sunday morning was spent doing some research. I needed to know more about Edinburgh Castle and Mary, Queen of Scots. I had seen a PBS show on Rosslyn Chapel and decided I would use this Chapel in my novel as well. More research. Why not throw in the Holy Grail, too?
By afternoon I returned to the keyboard and added two more chapters, and 2,530 more words. I am past the 5,000 word mark, a great start. I am so excited about this story. I've missed my characters, Dru and Darcy. It was nice to be able to put words in their mouths once again, and give them a new storyline.
I don't plan on beating last year's goal. I want to do just the one novel, and do it right. By not rushing the story, I will have the time to research first and save on editing later.
The Picture Book Idea is easy. All I have to do is think of an idea for a PB, I don't have to write it. By month's end I'll have a list of 30 story ideas. I can choose one at any time and see where it takes me. I pick one object a day, and then think of a title.
I entered Susanna Hill's Halloween Contest, writing a 100 word Halloween story that included the words pumpkin, broomstick and creak. You can read it in the last post. 76 authors submitted a story. I think that's wonderful and amazing! Susanna's website is www.susannahill.blogspot.com.
Another site I like is www.kitlit411. I subscribed to this site and love getting their e-mails. There are so many links with great ideas on writing for children.
I heard from agent Jodell Sadler yesterday. She is going to critique one of my PB's and she asked me to resend it. In her email it sounded like she wanted to get back with me before the day ended, but I didn't hear back yesterday or today. I don't know if that's a good sign or a bad sign.
I'd like to take a moment now to ask for prayers for my nephew, Ryan. A week ago he was in a terrible ATV accident. His dog ran in front of him and he was thrown off the vehicle. The back of his skull was cracked and he had bleeding in the brain. After surgery he was in ICU for several days, but is now in a hospital room getting therapy. I saw him the first day. His head was bandaged, the right side of his face was covered with stitches and his hands seemed red and swollen. He is in pain and doesn't want visitors, which I well understand. I set up a fund for him to help with medical expenses. The website for this is www.youcaring.com. His name is Ryan Daugherty. Please pray for him and his family. This link will get you directly to his site: https://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-ryan-with-medical-expenses-/253845
Blessings to all,
Thursday, October 30, 2014
The following 100 word story is for Susanna Leonard Hill's Halloween Contest. The words broomstick, pumpkin and creak had to be used. I call it: Trick, No Treats.
The glowing light from the candle in the pumpkin flickered as Mikey walked up the porch steps.
He knocked on the front door.
The door creaked as it opened.
Witch Maggie, broomstick in hand, peered at the young boy.
Mikey smiled. "Trick or treat."
"I have no treats. Here's my trick," Maggie said, waving her hands in the air.
POOF! Mikey turned into a black cat!
Maggie hopped on her broomstick, and the cat hopped on behind her.
They flew over the treetops, the full moon lighting their way.
"Happy Halloween!" cackled Maggie.
And the pumpkin on the porch grinned
Friday, October 24, 2014
This has been a busy week. I've been working and revising two picture books, Best Sled Ride Ever! and The Rainy Day Scavenger Hunt. I recently submitted these two stories to Rate Your Story. What a wonderful site! Several times a year they let authors submit a story for a critique type rating. I have sent in four stories this year, and find the suggestions I get back are superb. Following their advice, I have been polishing my work and see a major difference.
I happy to say I have been sending Query letters and submitting my work. I've sent three PB agents Best Sled Ride Ever! One agent has already responded with a no, but sent a personal note that softened the blow. He said the story had many charms. Who can be upset with a rejection like that?
I've also submitted my romantic thriller YA - The London Incident to three new agents. Fingers crossed.
How do I find agents to submit my work? There are many sites on the Internet listing agents, but I trust subitclub.wordpress.com and writer's digest. You can subscribe for their e-mails. You can also search on twitter for Writer's Digest and get some helpful information on writing and agents and publishers. While on twitter search #MSWL - this is manuscript wish list of agents. I constantly check the SCBWI Bulletin Board for information. Brenda Drake has a fabulous blog to follow, www.brendadrake.com. She sponsors PitMad and PitWars, where one can twitter a pitch for an agent to read. Another great source is Writer's Market. This book has a comprehensive list of agents and publishers. SCBWI also has THE BOOK, available to view on their website or to purchase for $5.00 I have my own "writer's market." As I've researched agencies and publishers, I've printed out their submission pages and catalogued them. It gives me a start when I want to submit. I always double check the information on the Internet to see if the agent is still accepting and to see if any rules have changed in submitting. I hope all these ideas prove helpful.
NaNoWriMo is starting November 1st, but it's not too early to sign up. Last year I did it, ending up with over 155,000 words. My story was the first draft to the three Dru and Darcy novels. Basically, I wrote 3 novels in one month. I've done at least seven revisions on these novels and SCBWI member Juli Caveny is helping on the first one with edits. I haven't decided if I'm doing the NaNoWriMo this year. I do plan on checking the site and following the other writers. Everyone should do this at least once. It is so much fun!
Saturday, October 11, 2014
I feel like I've lost two weeks. My asthma kicked in and for several days I have been coughing and having trouble getting air. I went to the doctor's, definite proof I am sick. This morning I took my last super antibiotic pill and will finish with my predisone tomorrow. I hope the medicines start to work soon. Being sick, I haven't been writing. It was like my brain was clogged up like my nose and throat. Hope to get back to my novel revisions tomorrow.
At a conference last summer I met an agent who asked if I had more books in me. I thought the question strange, but realized an agent doesn't want to sign up with an author who is a one book wonder. I definitely have many more books in me, and admitted as much.
I've often thought about the one book wonder theory. Margaret Mitchell wrote one novel, Gone With the Wind. I would call this a one book wonder. What agent wouldn't like to still be reaping the rewards from the reprints and continued sales of this masterpiece?
Another one book wonder is Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Again, a book that continues to be published and read.
Are agents so anxious to sell lots of books that they are passing up ones that may be an author's only glory?
I know I'm not a one book wonder as with my latest project, I already have three books written. Besides Dru and Darcy's adventures, I have several MG stories about fairies, unicorns, leprechauns, a tornado, a hawk and so on.
I have over 40 picture book stories. Two years ago I wrote a PB a day in February. That counts for 28. I enjoy writing PB's and reading them to my nieces and nephews.
With all the stories on paper, and all the ones in my head wanting out, I need an agent to promote me. I used to think writing was the hard part, but it's finding an agent. I keep trying. I know there's the perfect agent out there for me. I just have to find him or her. Hopefully soon!
Until then, I'll keep writing.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
When I read my last post, I laughed. Then it was hot, muggy and humid. Today it is cold and damp. So much can change in two short weeks!
I polished my YA novel and sent it out last week to the agent I met at my June conference. I'm sure he'll remember it as he critiqued it, and he'll see I made the changes we discussed. He's a great agent and I think we could work well together. My fingers are crossed.
I've had so many conflicting suggestions for this novel. I started out with it being a series with three books. The agent thought I should make it one book. I don't think he realized that would put the word count at over 158,000 words. That's a lot for a YA novel. A YA author suggested I split the one book into three, and so I'm back to where I started.
I like the 3 book version best. It flows better, each story is set in a different city, the word count fits a YA category. Each book can stand on its own, although the first two alude to the next mystery. There are surprises, twists and turns throughout each one. I was revising the second book today, and found myself crying at one point. My own words moved me!
I'm ready to work on my sixth, or is it seventh?, revision on the last book of this series. I can't wait! It's set in Rome. I told my brother the other day my writing is my escape. When I'm writing, I'm no longer in the here and now. I'm in London or Paris or Rome. I'm running from killers, I'm kissing a boy for the first time, I'm lost in my words. That's what books are supposed to do, get the reader lost in the words.
A project called PitWars was offered earlier this month. An author could chose 4 mentors and submit the first chapter of their finished novel. If one of the mentors liked the work, he or she would spend some time working with the author to improve his or her story and get it ready to submit to an agent. I was disappointed not to be chosen. There were 75 mentors and over a thousand want-to-be mentees. There were a lot of authors who weren't picked.
What surprised me was two of the mentors I chose, Maggie Hall and Erica Chapman, contacted me and gave me suggestions on the chapter they read. I wasn't expecting this. Both thought the word count was too much. Maggie liked the story and said my writing was good and my pacing was good. High praise! I think it was so nice of them to write me, and I'm grateful for their suggestions.
Brenda Drake was the instigator of PitchWars. She also hosted PitMad on September 9th. That day authors could submit a pitch on twitter for agents and publishers. The drawback was it could only be 140 characters long and #PitMad and #(genre - ie. PB, MG, YA) took up part of the space. It started at 8 AM EST and ended at 8:00 PM. It was suggested that no more than six pitches per author be posted, spaced throughout the day. If an agent liked the pitch, he or she would favorite it. That meant the author could submit to them.
All day I posted various pitches, spacing them out and keeping them to the 6 count max. I was beginning to believe no one was going to chose me. I was wrong! An agent with Red Sofa Literary, Laura Zats, liked my pitch. I checked her website and saw she liked Query letters first, no submissions. I spent several hours the next afternoon perfecting my Query letter and sent it off, again with fingers crossed. This was my pitch: 'Murder, espionage and being held hostage were not part of Dru's London itinerary. Neither was kissing Darcy!'
I am writing and revising and reading all the material I find about query letters, publishing, agents, writing. I want to be a sucessful published author. I write during the day, and again in my sleep.
Every author who ever put words on paper feels the same way. They want to be a successful writer. Writing is in our blood. It's part of who we are.
Until next time, happy writing!
Saturday, August 23, 2014
The dog days of August are here. It is HOT and MUGGY and HUMID. The weather has been wonderful until this week, staying cool. I shouldn't complain.
I finally did it! Ever since I purchased an oil painting of the USS Constitution in 2011, I've been meaning to write a story or article about the ship. This week I wrote a 1,550 word narrative about the beginnings, the battles and near destruction of "Old Ironsides."
It amazes me that the ship has survived over 200 years, mainly thanks to the American people, particularly school-aged children from the 1920's. The children collected pennies for the "Save Old Ironsides Campaign." The $154,000.00 they collected went towards the restoration of the ship. This wasn't enough, so posters and lithographs of the ship were sold, and pieces of the ship were used to make bookends, picture frames and plaques, and sold, too. Congress contributed the remainder of the money needed, and that is why the ship survived. The US Navy gives free tours of the Constitution in Boston.
Doing research for my story turned up many facts I did not know. Washington selected the names for the first three ships built for the new country's navy. The other two ships were the USS United States and the USS Constellation. The nickname "Old Ironsides" came about because British cannon balls bounced off the ship's hull during battle. One sailor exclaimed, "Her sides are made of iron!" Actually, the ship was made of oak.
The painting that inspired my story is amazing, too. It was painted in 1928 by a man, probably a US naval officer, named Firch. It is signed Firch.USN/28. It depicts the USS Constitution in full sail racing a US Navy warship. The back of the painting has the words "Yesterday and To-day."
I contacted the manager of the USS Constitution Museum soon after I bought my painting. Harrie Slootbeek wrote back that the Constitution was undergoing extensive restoration in the year 1928. He believed the painting was done by a member of the Navy, "not a known artist, but an accomplished amateur." He also believed that the painting was "an allegorical image putting together the Navy's oldest commissioned and still floating warship and a ship representing the newest warships." He thought the painting could be viewed as part of the "Save Old Ironsides Campaign."
Check my photo gallery to see pictures of this painting.
The painting was in terrible shape when I bought it. It was dark, and beaded. I had art conservator Izak Szelag clean it. The difference was amazing. Mr. Szelag believed the painting had been through a fire. It was dark because of smoke, and the beads on the painting were melted varnish. I feel like I saved the painting just as the real ship was saved years ago.
I hope someday to be able to travel to Boston and see the Constitution.
This is how story ideas come about. An object, a word, a thought, they all contribute to a writer's vision. I bought a painting, and a story was born. I sent cover letters and copies of my manuscript to three publishers this week. Being non-fiction and historical, I am hoping my story will be chosen by at least one. The wait begins!
Stay out of the heat and keep writing. It's a good day to stay inside and do just that!
Saturday, August 9, 2014
God Bless Juli Caveny! Juli, teacher, fellow author and writers group member, is editing Part I of my novel, International Intrigue, The London Incident. What a fabulous job she's doing! She sees what I miss, tells me where I need action and what I need to delete. I've now revised the first 68 pages, 11 chapters of my story, and I can feel the difference when I read it. It flows better, the pace is good.
I'm so grateful to Juli for taking me under her wing. She has a busy, hectic schedule, and yet finds time to disect my novel. When my manuscript is chosen, (notice I say when, not if), there will be a dedication page to her.
Besides revisions, I entered a contest this week, submitting a log line and compo, (comparison of my manuscript to published books), to The Blabbermouth Blog. I had a one-in-nine chance of winning. I didn't win, but by reading the other submissions, I've learned what I need to do to make my log line and compo better. These go in a query letter, and I find writing a query is harder than writing a novel.
I enter as many contests as possible. It's a learning process, a teaching tool.
It's a beautiful day, feels almost like Fall. I'm going to give my mind a rest and spend some time outdoors today. Perhaps something I see will inspire a story.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
This has been a busy week. Monday my brother Dennis had cataract surgery on his left eye, and I've been his caregiver. This surgery didn't go as well as the one on the right eye. His cornea is swollen and his vision is blurry, but the doctor assures him it will get better in time.
Monday night my writers group, the Springfield Scribes, had a Skype session with agent Jodell Sadler. It was a powerful Skype, and my knowledge of writing picture books has grown. Jodell was very pleasant and informative, and everyone at the meeting walked away knowing so much more than when they came in. If you ever have a chance to hear her speak, or listen to one of her webinars, it will be worth your time and money.
My most joyous news is the wonderful editing job Juli Caveny is doing on my novel. I've revised and revised until my fingers were raw from typing. I've done four drafts, with the first being my NaNoWriMo project. The last draft I made major changes in the beginning chapter and near the end, using what I learned at the Words in the Woods conference. I thought maybe it was my final draft, but Juli is opening up my story for me, making it better with her suggestions and editing. My protagonist, Dru, wasn't in the first chapter in the first 3 drafts, and in the fourth, I added her toward the end of the first chapter. Juli said, "Start with Dru," and showed me what paragraph to use. I love this version! Also, Juli is helping me clear the clutter so the pace moves steadily, and I'm not stating the same thing over and over. Juli's eyes see what I missed. With Juli's help, I am going to have a novel that will fill me with pride and a feeling of accomplishment. God Bless Juli!
I'm on page 34 in my revisions. Only 600 more to go! Keep checking my post to see how I'm coming along.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Since I've put my novel on the back burner, I miss sitting at my computer each day and revising my work. I miss sending Dru and Darcy into harrowing experiences. I miss the sights and sounds of London, Paris and Rome, because as I write, I'm there, at least in my mind. Juli Caveny, one of the members of my writers group, offered to edit the first third of my novel. She actually asked if it was okay. Yes, it's okay! I was thrilled. When she took the pages home with her, I asked only that she read it to let me know if the pace was steady and to offer any suggestions. There were too many pages (231) to expect her to do any editing, but she has graciously said she would. Once I see Juli's suggestions, I'll tackle my story once more.
Since I wasn't working on the novel, I reworked a 694 word short story into 500 words to submit to GuardianAngelKids' ezine. The December theme is mystery, so I sent The Mystery of the Ghostly Thief, one of my Ethan and Connor stories. I have four altogether. Submission deadline for this issue is October, so I am way ahead of the game. Check out their website for submission guidelines, themes, and deadlines. It is www.guardian-angel-kids.com. This e-zine was the first to ever pay me for one of my stories.
I also entered the Dear Lucky Agent (16) Contest. This one is for MG, any genre, and I sent the first 187 words of The Dragon's Ring. (can submit 150-200 words). This is a 24,000 plus word novel that I had also revised. Originally the knight was the hero, but in the revised version, it is the Princess. She follows her knight on his quest for a unicorn, and saves him from the witch's clutches and the dragon's fire, but he doesn't know it is her. This contest ends Wednesday, July 30th. To enter, one needs to mention the contest twice in any social media. Use this link to learn more about it: https://tinyurl.com/pwbds3q.
And I entered an International Children's Story Competition for ages 4-6. The theme is Granddad, Grandma and I in our multicultural society. I decided yesterday to use a PB I had written last year titled Chloe's Chocolate Cake, but I revised it into an entirely different story. In this 890 word version, Chloe visits her Nana Jean at a retirement home. There she, her grandmother and three other ladies in the home, make a chocolate cake. Chloe does everything wrong to the amusement of the ladies. As the cake is baking, the residents of the home talk about their favorite desserts, each pertaining to their country of origin, batka was Josie's, a Jewish lady from Poland, strudel and banketstaaf was Nancy's, who was German and had a Dutch husband, and fruktkaka was Elsie's, from Sweden. Chloe learns her ancestors were from Africa, and she remarks how they all came from faraway lands, yet were baking a cake together. This made Nancy say that although they were from different backgrounds and heritages, they get along. Elsie adds they are also friends. Once the cake is done, Chloe declares her favorite part of baking a cake is eating it. What's neat about this story, is the recipe for Texas Cake is woven into it. This contest is open until August 31, 2014. One submits using their online form at www.inclusiveworks.eu.
I also submitted a PB to MeeGenius. It's a favorite of mine, The Monster Who Loved to Dance, and I have been holding out for a publisher that doesn't just publish e-books, but last week my four year old nephew, DJ, was visiting, and I read it to him. His eyes lit up, and he said the catchy, repetitive words along with me. When I finished reading, he did the dance, Stomp! Stomp! Wiggle. Wiggle. Jump! Jump! Clap! I told myself then that I would submit it to MeeGenius in the hopes they would accept and publish it. Calamity Cat went from submission to publication in nine months, so perhaps this one would be out in time for DJ's birthday in March. I have two other "monster" stories with the same characters, so if this one is accepted, I'll submit the others, too. MeeGenius just ended their author challenge, so I imagine it will take longer before my story is read. To submit to MeeGenius, check out their website at: www.meegenius.com.
As I read this blog, I realize that most of what I submitted this week has been revised. Writing is the easy part, it's the revisions that take forever.
Monday, July 21, 2014
I've neglected doing laundry, dishes and cleaning my house, have forgotten to eat meals and feed my dogs, all in the name of love for writing. For the past month I've been revising and rewriting my novel, International Intrigue. Encouraged and motivated since my writer's conference in June, I have closed myself off from the world to concentrate on turning my story into a fast paced, emotionally tense, page turner romantic thriller. 158,500 Words, 630 pages later, I'm almost satisfied with my result. I'll never be 100% happy, every time I read my story, I add or delete words, phrases, sentences and whole paragraphs, but my heart and mind are both telling me, "This is good."
I changed the beginning, bringing my female protagonist in on the first chapter. Before it started like a prologue and she wasn't introduced until chapter 2. I changed the final climax entirely, having my beloved character fall off a rooftop. Don't worry, she'll live, but the dramatic effect will not be wasted on the reader. It will be a terrifying moment.
Though the teens, Dru and Darcy, solve the mysteries, find the killers and save themselves, there are adults in the picture. Dru's father is the one the teens turn to for advice and help. The fact that he is a goverment spy works in their favor.
Putting 630 pages into a one page synopsis was not easy, but I've done it, and I've also worked on my query letter, with an opening hook, a comparison, my achievements and a brief summary. But I'm not going to submit yet. Julie, from my writers group, is reading Part I, and I want to find out from her if my pace is steady, my story plausible, and what changes she may suggest before I send out my work.
Yesterday I printed out my novel. It's no longer just a word.doc., it's real. I'm excited and can't wait to see it in book form.
Now maybe I can get some work done around the house. At least until the next great story idea pops into my head!
Keep on writing!
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
The Fourth of July is over, Summer is now on its downward spiral towards Fall. Already Staples is offering back to school sales.
I planned on posting before the 4th, but the days slipped by. I was so busy working on revisions, I didn't have time for anything else. A couple of days I forgot to eat lunch, and even forgot to feed my dogs until Honey started whining. She only whines if she wants to go out in the morning, usually around 5:30 or when she's hungry. When she whines in the mornings, I tell her, "It's not time yet," and she'll settle down for another fifteen minutes, then she tells me in her own language, "It is time to get up!" When she whines when she's hungry, she doesn't stop until fed.
The Words in the Woods conference ended Sunday, June 22nd. I soaked up what I learned for four days, and then on the 26th, I started my revisions. Some days I only made it through one chapter, others I struggled through three or four. What amazed me was how many words, how many paragraphs I deleted. The agent had told me to keep the pace going, and I found too many words were slowing down my story. Another thing I learned was to avoid culteral references that may be outdated when the book came out. I wondered if my devices in my story, the cell phone, the computer would be obsolete. Think how many ways a cell phone has changed in just the last five years! For this reason I made many changes in the climax part of my story. (I won't say exactly what as I don't want to give away the plot. LOL).
My goal was to finish the first part of the novel, The London Incident, by the date of our next writers group meeting. At four-thirty Monday I was printing out the first 231 pages. One-third completed, two more parts to revise.
During Monday's meeting, I listened as three members in our group shared their writing, and the feeling of inadequacy came over me. I was proud of my novel, but after hearing the other stories, I thought mine still needs work. I do fairly well with dialogue, but believe I need to learn to be more descriptive. But then I worry, am I showing or telling? I still have trouble distinguishing between the two.
The agent at the conference was very encouraging, and based on what he told me, I believe I am on the right track. Revisions are hard, but necessary, and I believe I added as much as I removed. This version is only two pages shorter than the original. Thanks to the suggestions of the girls in my critique group and the agent's suggestions, I see a better novel taking shape.
Juli, who I admire so much for her writing and teaching talents, took my novel home with her. It's hard letting go, letting someone else read your words, but that is what an author is supposed to do. Right now I'm not as concerned with punctuation as I am about my pacing. Does my story continue to hold the reader's interest or does it get bogged down with murdane words? Are my characters believable? Does my plot follow through or do I go off track? Juli is truthful and I know whatever she tells me, I need to listen and heed her advise.
When I returned home from the meeting last night, I found a rejection letter in my email box. I had submitted a query to several agents at the start of the year about this novel, and the rejection I received last night was one of the nicest I've ever gotten. Clelia Gore of Martin Literary Management wrote that due to the many queries they receive each week, they turn down many projects that might have great commercial potential. (I thought, she thinks my story has commercial potential.) She also wrote that sometimes writers endure long terms of rejection before they find the winning combination for themselves. (referring to agent and author fit). She said these writers refused to give up, and hopes I will continue to do the same. (She thinks I shouldn't quit trying, I just need to find the right agent, was my take on this.) Finally she wished me all the best in pursuit of publishing this project. (I'm thinking, she believes I should keep trying to get my novel published.) I've never had a rejection that filled me with so much hope.
So today is another day and I am going to tackle Part II of my novel revisions. Peril in Paris awaits me.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Whew! Last week was like a whirl wind! Words in the Woods was fantastic! Two years ago when I attended, I was the shy one. I didn't know anyone, the conference was a new experience for me as I had never been to one before, and I didn't ask questions. This time I knew almost half of the attendees, I wasn't afraid to start a conversation, and I even had a question for the speakers. The past two years I've spent writing, attending conferences and sharing my words with my writer's group, have given me confidence, in myself and in my work.
The speakers were well chosen. Joanna Cardenas, editor for Viking Books, Stephen Fraser, agent for Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency, and his client, Matthew J. Kirby, author of The Clockwork Three, Icefall, The Lost Colony, etc.
I had a critique with Stephen Fraser. I hadn't planned on doing one, but was told he had an opening. Luckily, I had the first few pages of my manuscript with me for him to read. This critique taught me something about my book. I am writing a thriller. Until Stephen told me, I did not know how to label it. It has romance, murder, mystery and adventure, and because it has all these elements, it is a cross genre. I like to think of it as a romantic thriller. After my talk with this agent, I decided to make this one book instead of three. I started out with a MG in the first novel and ended with a YA with the last two, so by combining the books, the three stories will now fit into the YA category. My question at the conference had to do with this. I wanted to know if a series could be both a MG and then later YA. I was told it was better to stick with either MG or YA. J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series was an exception, not the norm.
Between sessions, MEG groups (manuscript exchange/critique groups) and my critique with the agent, I also did writing crafts. For an hour I sat outside in the heat and make a poetry ransom note and blackout poem. The ransom note was cutting letters from magagines and pasting them on brown paper as a saying. My saying was: harnessing new skills, thinking new thouhts, writing. I won a prize for this! A pencil/pen zipper case with a mustache design. (theme of conference - mystery, mustache = disguise).
To do a blackout poem, you start with a page from a book and black out all the words you don't want, hopefully leaving enough words to make a poem. Mine read: scattered applause, the mood of the crowd was high, a pause. Heads turned, alert,tensed, the change was astonishing. "Hey," McNally!" Russ called, "I'm Irish and proud." The crowd was now laughing. (check the Photo Gallery to see my ranson note and blackout poem.)
Louann Brown thought up these clever ideas, as well as many others. She also decorated the basement for the mystery party held Saturday night. I didn't attend, but from the photos I've seen, everyone had a blast. Many dressed up as their favorite mystery novel character or author. They also had karoke.
Carla and Monta were in my MEG group, and they had superb suggestions for my novel. They also brought up important points that I hadn't thought about, and I know I have much revising to do. I enjoyed their novels, and was in awe of their writing.
Also, I was happy with my critique from the agent. I am both encouraged and hopeful by what he told me.
About the agent, this is a funny story. I hadn't been at the conference ten minutes before speaking with him. I was sitting in the main living room and he came up to me and we started talking. He asked where I lived and what I wrote. I started telling him about Dru and Darcy and their adventures, and didn't realize for several minutes I was talking to the agent. I thought he was one of the attendees. So within ten minutes of being there, I had already given an agent my pitch. Maybe it was best I didn't know who he was at first, as I might have been more nervous.
This is another funny story, at least to me. Matt Kirby's books were displayed on a table and they were for sale. He was going to sign them Saturday evening. He had talked about his stories, and I really wanted to buy The Lost Colony as it sounded like something I'd like to read. I was buying the book for my nephew, Austin, but figured I'd read it first. I picked up Icefall and noticed one of the chapters was called Hilda. That was my mother's name. "This is an omen," I thought, so I bought it instead. Sunday night I started reading, thinking Hilda was probably an important character in the plotline. Hilda was a goat! I had a good laugh over that one.
One can't leave a writers' conference without taking something with them, some new knowledge, a new way of thinking, ideas on how to improve their writing. At night now after going to bed, I don't go right to sleep. Instead I work on the plot of my story. I've decided to introduce Dru in the first chapter instead of the second, and have come up with a clever way to do so. As the murderer leaves the parking garage, he almost runs her down. I haven't started typing yet, as I want to play the scene over and over in my head so that when I do begin to write, the words will jump onto the page as I've already written them in my mind.
I urge all who love to write to attend a writers' conference at least once every two years. You meet brillant people with ideas to share, people who love writing as much as you do. You'll find out they go through the same difficult struggles you are going through. Writing a book is one of the hardest tasks anyone can ever do, and also, the most satisfying one.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
June just got better! Dani Duck, author, illustrator and blogger, just interviewed me for her blog. She sent seven questions in an email last night, and I finished answering them this morning and sent them back to her. I also included 3 photos. She said once she had my reply, I would be mentioned very soon in her blog.
The questions she asked mostly pertained to my PB Calamity Cat and my e-zine article Let Your Imagination Soar! Both these stories were done with the least amount of time and the greatest of ease. I wrote and submitted the artile to Guardian Angel Kids the same day and it was accepted, and the same is true of Calamity Cat. I wrote it in a couple of hours, edited it myself, and when I found the courage to submit it to MeeGenius, it was also quickly accepted.
This is not the norm. I have been writing for years and sending out manuscripts. I have a file cabinet draw filled with rejection letters. I still struggle and I am still learning the craft. I mentioned in my interview with Dani that Calamity Cat was one of 28 PB's I wrote in February, 2013. Out of the 28, only Calamity Cat was accepted. I am still revising and sending out the other 27, as well as other manuscripts I have written. It really doesn't happen that easily. A lot of work is involved, and a lot of disappointment comes along before finding acceptance.
More good news, Miss Seattle 2013 favorited one of my tweets! Sunday was Father's Day and I tweeted: To all the fathers who read to their children, Happy Father's Day! Delia Lubanovici read my tweet and liked it! How cool is that!
My writers conference is now three days away. A weekend with my peers, with people who understand the ups and downs of writing for children. I am so looking foward to meeting everyone and to soaking up like a sponge the wisdom and skills they will impart.
Hope everyone is having a joyful summer and finding time to read.
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Something happened this week that made me truly feel like a writer; my publisher, MeeGenius, posted an interview with me on their blog. And they also twittered about me! Whoopee!
I received an email from them last week asking for a photo. They said they wanted to feature me in their blog as one of their authors and to promote my picture book, Calamity Cat. I sent two, a selfie, and the one they used which was taken this spring when I visited my niece and her family in Texas. This photo shows me standing next to a huge chicken, (rooster?), with my niece Mikayla and nephew Austin.
This is the funny part. I kept checking the MeeGenius blog all week for the interview and never saw it. Finally, last night I clicked on past posts and there I was! It had been posted June 8th! To see it, try hashtag dmddeb! ow.ly/xWSEd or go to MeeGenius blog.com and click on past posts.
Besides this exciting news, I am getting ready for my writers conference, the Words in the Woods. It starts Friday and ends Sunday. I'm fortunate that it's being held at the Villa Maria in Springfield, IL, so I can drive home each night, I don't have to board. I found out who the other writers are in my YA MEG group. MEG = manuscript exchange group. We've already exchanged manuscripts and I have greatly enjoyed both Carla's and Monta's. Carla's story touches on suicide and death while Monta's is about pirates from the past and the mob. Though different, both stories wowed me. Carla and Monta are great writers. I'm looking forward to getting together with them and exchanging ideas. I'm also anxious to learn what they think of my manuscript.
Every MEG group has to come up with a name. On Sunday the group whose name is voted Best gets to have lunch with the guest speakers. Last time my group's name was Word Nympths, a play on wood nympths. The theme of this year's conference is mystery. I liked Carla's YAY 4 YA! and I had Word Sleuths and YA Plotters, but Monta's suggestion is the one we all agreed on. We are The Sherlocks of YA.
June is turning out to be an exciting month. It started out with my writers group, The Scribes, meeting at a winery for fun and relaxation. We went to the Daneberger Family Vineyard near New Berlin, IL. The wine was purchased with the money we contribute to a fund, our rejection fund. If we don't get a rejection in any month, it costs us 50 cents. Each rejection is worth a point as they show we are putting ourselves out there, submitting to agents and publishers. If we get an acceptance, it's worth 5 points and a publication is worth 10. At the end of the year the one with the most points get a trophy. Since I've joined, I have never had to pay into the fund. I have gotten rejections every month. I am putting myself out there! I thought this month I was finally going to have to pay, but a rejection came in the mail the other day. I had submitted to this publisher in January of 2013. It had taken 1 1/2 years to get back to me!
The day at the winery was pleasant, but warm. We sat outside under umbrellas, but the sun kept sneaking under our shade. We shared our writing news and exchanged books. As I glanced around the table, I felt in awe of all the talented people. I feel so lucky to be included in this group.
I'm now looking forward to the weekend. I hope this conference will energize me and stir me to tackle my novel and get it ready to send off. I'm ready to embrace my writing career. MeeGenius' blog has given me validation. I am a writer.
Sunday, June 8, 2014
Has it really been three months since I last posted? It doesn't seem possible. All I can say is life got in the way.
Life got in the way. I think that's true with my story writing, too. Some days I am on a roll, and the words just keep on coming. I'm like a locomotive that can't stop; and then the drought comes, and days, weeks, even months pass and no words drop on my page. Life got in the way. Family situations arise, distractions come in from all sides, I have other things to do, places to go, and suddenly I've found that I haven't written a thing in ages. I hope that will change soon.
I'm attending a writers conference in Springfield, IL this month. It's called Words in the Woods and is being held Fri., Sat. and Sun. the third weekend in June. The conference is at the Villa Maria, a lovely place with Lake Springfield for its backyard. I went to this conference two years ago, in 2012, and it stirred my passion for writing. The energy I received at that conference set me on a course that led to my joining a writers group, the Springfield Scribes, and to finding a publisher for one of my picture books. MeeGenius, an e-book publisher, released Calamity Cat in December, 2013.
Today I feel like my battery is run down, my juices just aren't flowing. After writing the three novels for NaNoWriMo last November, and doing revision after revision, I became discouraged when I didn't find an agent. Several liked the synopsis and two asked for more material, but in the end, I had no takers. So I set my novels aside and waited. With this conference, I am dusting them off and getting ready to tackle them again. I am in the YA MEG group, MEG standing for manuscript exchange group. Two other writers in my group, Carla and Monta, will read my first 15 pages, as I will read theirs, and then we voice what we like, don't like about each one's story, what we think needs to be done to improve the story, etc. I want Carla and Monta to be brutal, to tell me what I need to do, and hopefully from their advice I will be able to polish and fine tune my work.
This conference features an agent, Stephen Fraser from the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency, an author, Matthew J. Kirby, and Editor for Viking Books, Joanna Cardenas. I believe I have submitted stories to Stephen Fraser before, but don't recall if he replied. I am looking forward to hearing each speaker, and I know I will learn so much from them.
Look out publishing world! After this conference I am going to be charged and ready to submit my work once more.
Friday, March 14, 2014
St. Patrick's Day is drawing near. It's one of my favorite holidays, and not just because I'm part Irish. It's wearing of the green and cornbeef and cabbage and people having fun. I don't know if St. Patrick would approve of all the shenanigans, but it's a day that draws people together, as on St. Patrick's Day, everyone's Irish.
I love Irish lore and have written fantasy stories set in Ireland. My favorites are The Fairies' Quest for the True Meaning of Christmas and The Fairies Search for the Leprechauns' Gold. I have sent these manuscripts to agents and publishers and am sad to say no one has yet accepted them. I even sent them to some publishers in Ireland. One ended up in Dublin, but it wasn't a publisher's office. It was a place where books are selected for honors and I wish now I could remember the name of the place. I received a nice email from them telling me they enjoyed reading my stories, but they had nothing to do with publishing. After reading the email I thought, Someone in Ireland likes my stories, and it made my day.
On facebook today one of the gals in my writers group posted a very interesting story. Amtrak is seeking writers for their residency program. They are going to select writers to ride their trains for 2-5 days round trip journeys. They will provide a berth, and a table for writing. I thought, What fun! To be able to ride the train, see the country and do what I love best, write! I went to their website and submitted an application. I had to post a sample of my writing, and I turned to my Dru & Darcy - International Intrigue series, posting the first chapter of Peril in Paris. This chapter is about their trip to Paris from London. They are on the Euro train and Dru stumbles across a man who was murdered on the train. I thought maybe my train mystery would appeal to the judges.
On March 10th I joined PitMadness and submitted a pitch for a MG story. Being it's March with St. Patrick's Day so close, I decided on The Fairies Search for the Leprechauns' Gold. I did the 35 word pitch and posted the first 250 words. I hope an agent will be curious enough to want to read more. Maybe the luck of the Irish will finally be with me.
Happy St. Patrick's Day! and keep writing.
Friday, March 7, 2014
I can't believe it's March already! Also, I can't believe how long it's been since my last blog. A lot happened in February that has kept me from posting. My 37 year old niece, Tasha, fell while chasing her daughter's rabbit and hit her head on some boards. She has lupus, and is on blood thinner because she has Factor 5 blood disorder where her body keeps making clots. She immediately went to the hospital and the scan showed she had a cerebral hemorrhage. For over a week she was in the hospital, but I'm happy to report she is home and there wasn't any brain damage. She's in constant pain and has to be monitored, but all looks well. I firmly believe in the power of prayer.
With 700 miles between my niece and myself, all I could do was worry and wait for reports. That's why I haven't been writing on this blog.
Today for the first time in a long while, I went on twitter and checked my favorite site, Writer's Digest posts. Chuck Sambuchino had one I found exciting. He mentioned the 14th Free "Dear Lucky Agent" Contest. It's a contest for contemporary Middle Grade fiction. McIntosh& Otis Agent, Christa Heschke, is the judge and there will be 3 lucky winners. Prize is a critique of the first 10 double-spaced pages of the author's manuscript and a free one-year subscription to WritersMarket.com. (value $50)
To submit, you need to first mention the contest twice through a social media. I posted on twitter and this is my second mention. This contest started March 4 and runs through March 18. Send the first 150-200 words of your unpublished manuscript. Include your e-mail address and name with the entry, as well as the title and a one sentence description of the work. I suggest if you're interested in this contest to check Chuck Sambuchino's site for more detailed information. https://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/14th-free-dear-lucky-agent-contest.
I'm entering this contest! I hope you do, too!
Happy writing, and please keep my niece in your prayers.
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
I''m glad to see January gone because of all the snow and ice, but February isn't promising to be any better weatherwise. This morning I woke up to eight inches of snow on the ground. Why did that groundhog have to see his shadow? A kind neighbor opened my driveway with his snow plow. He must have done it while I was sleeping as I never heard him. The snow and cold weather are bringing wild animals closer to the house. The other day around ten deer were in the backyard grazing and yesterday I spotted a coyote. From now on I will have to watch my dogs more closely when they are outside. The coyote also gave me an idea for a picture book.
One good thing about the weather, it's kept me inside and on the keyboard. I have been writing and also revising my stories, and submitting to so many contests, I've lost count. I was able to submit one to the Rate Your Story writing contest by the February 3rd deadline, and then today I submitted another to be rated. Every so often this website has open submissions for authors to submit their stories to be rated on a scale from 1 to 10 by their judges. I love this idea! A free critique! By the end of this month I will have my result and then I will know if I am on the right track with my story or if I need to make changes. If you'd like to learn more about this website, this is where I found out about it: https://rateyourstory.blogspot.com/p/contact.html
Kid Lit Writer, Sharon K. Mayhew has a writing contest coming up. Starting at 5:00 A.M., on February 10th, authors can submit a picture book to be judged by agent Terrie Wolf. Only the first 51 entries will be judged, and there will be 10 winners, five for fiction and five for non-fiction. Each will get a critique and thirty minute phone call from Terrie. To learn more about this, I suggest checking out Sharon's blog at skmayhew.blogspot.com
If you like writing challenges to keep you motivated, go to www.terrihope.com and sign up for Write Through 2014 Challenge. Each week she offers several challenges and you decide which one you want to do. Or you can do all of them if you want! Do the challenge and then post a comment by Saturday on her website. She's on the sixth week challenge. I checked out the past challenges and they were all fun ideas.
If you write picture books, Ripple Grove Press has a new PB imprint. To learn more about how to submit, go to https://www.ripplegrovepress.com/submissions/
I hope some of the information I posted today will be helpful to inspiring writers. Now I'd like to share some good news. I have two agents who asked for more pages of my Young Adult Novel, Dru & Darcy - International Intrigue - The London Incident. One agent asked for the entire manuscript and the other asked for additional 50 pages. I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed. I have a strong belief that this novel and the two others in the series could become best sellers. I am also thinking in terms of movies, and in my mind have cast some of the characters. These are contemporary stories about two teens, and the settings are London, Paris and Rome. All three novels have romance, mystery, murder and are relevant to stories happening right now in the papers. I am a dreamer with high hopes, but nothing comes from not trying. I am putting myself out there as I believe in myself. I just hope others can also see what I see and believe in me.
At my local writers group meeting last Monday evening, we all skyped with author Andrea Beatty. Her books include Rosie Revere, Engineer, When Giants Come to Play, Cicada Summer and so many more. She was a delight, insightful and humorous, and she gave all of us great advice on writing and getting published.
There are so many talented authors and illustrators in my writers group, Scribes. Louanne shared her picture book story on tolerance and she also did the illustrations. Gaye shared a poem about the lion in a child's tummy that growls at night when hungry, and Pam had a prose about kids on a plane trip to Florida. Jean had good news, her Alzheimer's story was accepted for Chicken Soup for the Soul. Julie proudly announced she completed all the challenges for Start the Year Right. I also did the 21 challenges, and had good news to share with my fellow writers. Calamity Cat can be found in four categories at the MeeGenius website. It's listed under Animals, Family, MeeGenius Originals and Ages 3-5. Also, MeeGenius recently sent out e-mails to its subscribers and Calamity Cat was one of the featured stories mentioned in the e-mail.
My writers group is filled with talented people, and they all put me in awe. They have also been supportive and encouraging in my endeavors.
Looking back at January, I can say despite the snow, ice and bitter cold temperatures, I accomplished quite a lot. Thank you, January, and Here's to February! I hope it will be as productive and exciting as January was!
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Last night I joined subitclub. My badge can be found in my photo gallery along with my Start the Year Off Write 2014 badge and 12 Picture Books 12 Month badge. The subit club site: htpp://www.subitclub.wordpress.com. It's an online club for writers and illustrators to talk about their work and share information about publishers and agents. Their one year anniversary is going on now and they are offering critiques and other prizes to those who enter. From what I've read so far on their site, this is a great place for information. I found out about it from the SCBWI discussion board.
If members of SCBWI aren't taking advantage of this discussion board, you are missing out on great information. I check it out at least three times a week and have found out about contests, publishers who are accepting submissions and agents who are open for certain genres. It's because of this board that I entered the Highlight for Children's fiction contest and author Amber Hamilton's writing contest. I have sent my YA novel to Carolrhoda Books after find out on the SCBWI discussion board that Andrew Kerr would accept manuscripts for one week only. What a great opportunity! Had I not been checking the board regularly, I might have missed it. As a paying member of SCBWI, it's foolish not to take advantage of the services they offer.
Today is the last day for Start the Year Off Write 2014 and I finished my prompt and posted my final comment a few hours ago. The prompt was to retell a fairy tale using three words in each and every sentence. I thought it would be hard, but found it fun. This process, tell a whole story with few words, will help when I need to keep my synopsis brief in query letters.
I am getting some responses on my queries, and am encouraged as more are personal messages than form letters. I just have to connect with the one person who envisions what I do and I know I'll soar. I believe in myself and my writing. In my mind I see my books on store shelves and being made into movies. The possibility is there, and I have to believe that 2014 is going to be the year that launches my career.
Everyone needs to give themselves a similar pep talk. How are you going to get others, ie. publishers and agents, to believe in you, if you don't believe in yourself.
Louanne Brown, a fellow Scribes member, had everyone in our group write down at least three goals. One of mine was to start a website. I kept saying I needed to do it, but kept putting it off; but after writing it down as one of my goals, I made it happen within a week. My other two goals are to find an agent and get my books published. And I plan to add more goals to my list as time goes by.
I challenge everyone to write down three or more goals. When you check your list later, you will feel such an accomplishment as you cross off the ones you've completed.
I hope after reading this blog you do these three things: Check out Subit Club, visit the discussion board at the SCBWI website and write down three goals. Also, keep writing and believing in yourself. And if you are living in the polar votex region, stay warm!
Thursday, January 23, 2014
This is a day I'm glad to be inside sitting by my computer and typing. It is zero outside with wind chill making it minus 21. IT IS COLD!
The morning started out on a sour note. My propane gas man came and before putting gas in my tank, we talked. I had 40% in the tank, which could last a month, depending on how cold it stayed. Gas had gone up to $3.50 a gallon. Last time I filled the tank it was around $1.86, so it almost doubled in price in one month. I considered waiting, but he said it was expected to go up to $5.00 a gallon before coming down. Waiting could mean I pay more, so I opted for 100 gallons today, giving me around 60% in the tank. This came to around $375.00 with tax. Whew!
When bad things happen, such as having to pay more for propane, it affects my writing. Who wants to write a cheerful or funny picture book when worrying about how to pay the bills? And then again, maybe worrying about how to pay the bills might stir me to write as a means to pay the bills?
I have been doing my daily prompts for Start the Year Write. Today was prompt #19. Doing these prompts each day have helped to keep me in the writing mode, and they have been fun. I think when it's done, I can go back over what I've written and find at least 2 or 3 picture book stories, maybe more.
I entered author Amber Hamilton's writing contest earlier this month, and a couple of days ago she sent me a nice critique on my story. She wrote: Thank you for sending me your story! You've done an excellent job on this! It is very polished. It reads a bit like a magazine story. She also had a good suggestion. In my story I waited until the end to let the reader know it was the mother who pulled the switch that took out all the lights in the house. Amber thought I should either write this in earlier or show by illustration the mother pulling the switch. This way the reader is let in on the secret. I liked this idea and plan to do as Amber suggested. Getting such a nice review from a talented writer made my day!
I hope everyone is staying warm. On cold days like this, it's best to stay inside and curl up with a good book. I just might follow my own advice. Hmmmm, a cup of hot cocoa sounds good, too.
Until next time, Debbie
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Exciting news! When I checked my emails last night, I found one from an agent I queried a week ago on my novel The London Incident, and she wants to see more! She asked that I send the completed manuscript and synopsis. I emailed both to her today, and my hands are still shaking from hitting the SEND button. I know it doesn't mean she will be my agent, but she thought my story's plot was good enough that she wanted to read it. It gives me hope.
I also had an email from MeeGenius. I submitted a picture book to them last week and it is being sent to their editorial staff. Promising, but nothing definite yet.
I posted on facebook about the agent requesting my manuscript and Juli, a fellow Scribes member, wrote back, "Amazing things are happening for you!" I am beginning to think they are.
I wasn't going to do the 12 X 12, a picture book draft a month, but after reading that several agents have agreed to take a look at the picture books done during this challenge, I decided to do it. I am counting the story I wrote for the Highlights for Children fiction contest for January's PB and I have so many ideas from PbIdMo for the rest of the year.
Also, I am keeping up with the prompts for the Start the Year Write challenge, and posting my comments each day after completing the task. There have been some great writing exercises and I have at least two promising story ideas from doing the challenges. Meg Lenz was one of the guest bloggers and I was excited to read her suggestion for the day. I met Meg two years ago at the Words in the Woods conference in Springfield, Illinois. We were in a critique group and she gave me sound advice on my story and told me the suggestions I gave her on hers were very helpful. She has a PB coming out next year, I (heart) U. The heart is a drawing of a heart, not the word. I'm excited for her.
Also, I was too late for the January 8 PitMad, but hope to catch it when it comes around in two months. This is where an author has a chance to pitch his or her book on twitter in a tweet with the hastag #PitMad. (140 characters) This is a one day chance in a twelve hour period, 8 A.M. to 8 P.M. Agents who watch the feed request what interests them. Brenda Drake posted information about this on her blog. https://www.brenda-drake.come/pitmad/
Twitter is having a fiction festival March 12-16. It's all all day, all night celebration of storytelling. If you would like to be a featured storyteller, you need to submit your idea before Feb. 5th. During the festival everyone is invited to jump in and tell stories with the hastag #TwitterFiction.
With that last bit of information, I am signing off.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
It's been a productive few days. I entered Highlights for Children's Fiction Contest with May Day, which I wrote January 1st, and I'm entering my picture book Grandma Can't Hear in a writing contest in Litchfield, IL. I also submitted two picture book manuscripts to two publishers. I sent Snow Day to MeeGenius, the publisher of my book, Calamity Cat, and I sent That Was My Butt Talking to Ripple Grove Press. And I submitted my YA novel, The London Incident, to 14 agents and 2 publishers since Jan. 1st. I'm not kidding when I say I want writing to be my career, and I am doing everything possible to make that goal happen.
Today Juli Caveny, who is in my writer's group, Scribes, asked me if I was doing the Start the Year Write 2014 writing challenge. Shannon Abercrombie is the brains behind this challenge, and the idea is to read the blogs from a different author for 21 days and do the writing prompt the author suggests. Although this started on January 5, I was able to catch up. I read the four blogs I've missed, did the challenges and posted comments on their pages. The challenges are fun. Julie Helund's was to think of a story idea and write a paragraph about that story. Prompt #2 was Thanhha Lai's. She said to look at a sentence you've written, cut out 5 words and then go back and use another 5 words to add something to the story and surprise the reader. Matt Phelan's prompt was to find an old photo and then question everything about it. What sounds were heard when the photo was taken? What was the temperature? What happened after the photo was shot? And today's prompt, #4, was Troy Cumming's. He said to write a sentence for one of our characters, but don't describe how they look or what they're wearing. Show by their actions as they enter a room what defines them as a character.
Thanks to PiBoIdMo, I have several ideas for picture books, and will do the 12 X 12, a picture book a month, which should prove easy considering I did 28 picture books in 28 days last February. I don't plan on doing that this year, especially after November doing the NaNoWriMo challenge, and then spending December revising the three novels I wrote in November.
I really need to take a small break from writing to do nothing else but clean my house, which has become sadly neglected since November. If I don't write something each day, though, I feel lost.
I just have to do what makes me happy, and if that means living in a house with a sink full of dishes, I guess I can do that. LOL
Keep on Writing!
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed the first day of 2014 and is looking forward to a fabulous year.
I'm proud to say I started the year off by writing a short story for the Highlights for Children fiction contest. I've known for a long time that this year's theme was holiday and kept telling myself I should go ahead and write a holiday story and be ready to send it in January. I procrasinated, something writers do, and January was suddenly here! Although I had all month to do this story, as the deadline is Jan. 31st, I sat down and within an hour had one ready to send.
Holiday is vague and I figured most authors would do the popular ones, Christmas, Easter, Hanukah, Valentine's Day. I wanted to do a story about a holiday that isn't celebrated in a big way, and I choose May Day. As a child I remember making May baskets and putting them on the front porch of a few of my neighbors. I also remember hearing the story of the Maypole at school, though I never did anything like that. May Day is still a big deal in some countries and when I did some research, I was surprised to learn it was celebrated not only in Germany, but Russia, the UK and Ireland, but in different ways. May Day is a celebration of Springtime.
Word count limit is 800. My story has 797 words and is ready to mail.
Anyone who would like to enter this contest, there is still time. As I stated, the deadline for postmark is January 31st. It needs to be a story about a holiday, your choice, and it needs to be 800 words or less. The word count needs to be listed in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of the manuscript. There is no fee to enter and the manuscript and envelope should be marked FICTION CONTEST. Send the story to: Fiction Contest, Highlights for Children, 803 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431. Check out Hightlights for Children website for guidelines. If you enter, Good Luck! (And please don't use May Day for your holiday! LOL)
Another fun contest is Amber Hamilton's picture book writing contest. I found out about it at the SCBWI site, on the bulletin board. She writes a blog and is doing this on her own, with a $5 gift card to Amazon books for first prize. Her contest runs from Jan. 1 to Jan. 15, and to enter submit via g-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amber says to attach the manuscript in a g-mail to her. It should be less than 800 words and she doesn't want rhyme, but some prose is okay. Winner will be announced in her blog and will receive an offer to submit a manuscript in progress for critique as well as the Amazon $5 gift card. Her website is: https://www.amberhamiltonauthorblog.bogspot.com/
I went into my file of picture books and picked one I had not submitted to anyone yet. It's called The Day the Power Went Out. I revised it and sent it to Amber.
So as far as writing goes, I started 2014 in a BiG way, with two stories entered into contests.
I hope everyone has a joyful and healthy new year! I'm not making a resolution this year. Instead, I am making promises to myself. I will write more. I will read more. I will do more for others.
Happy New Year, everyone!
Sunday, December 29, 2013
It's hard to believe that this year is almost over. I've been told the older one gets, the faster a year goes and I am now a believer. Does this mean I'm getting old?
Reflecting back on 2013: I surprised myself with my writing. I wrote a picture book a day in February and in November for NaNoWriMo, I wrote 3 novels, a series. I was a NaNoWriMo Winner, with 155,814 words. Both of these achievements were done because I felt challenged and wanted to prove to myself they could be done. 2014 goal - challenge myself more often!
I also had a picture book published, Calamity Cat, MeeGenius, Dec. 2, 2013, and a short story of mine was published in ezine, Guardian Angel Kids, Let Your Imagination Soar!, August, 2013 issue.
I attended monthly writers group meetings, missing only 2 for family issues.
In 2013 I entered several writing contests. I did not win, but at least I am putting myself out there.
I learned how to do a website. This one! I'm finding it to be more of a journal for me than what I set out to do. Goal for 2014, write more about ways to help others, sharing my experiences so other writers don't make the same mistakes I have. I also have two facebook accounts, one for family and one for my writing career, (email@example.com), and I have a twitter account, dmddeb. Considering I never had Internet until 2010, I think I have learned a lot in just 3 years.
This year I have researched publishers and agents and have submitted, submitted, submitted - and been rejected, rejected, rejected. I'm not giving up. I want a career in writing, with book signings and guest speaking and movies being made from my books. I want the whole enchilada! (I find submitting online is easier and better than by snail mail. Also, less expensive.)
My writing has improved. I'm also getting better at editing my work. One of the members of my writers group, Jean, is turning to me to edit her stories, which I find I enjoy doing. Another SCBWI author/illustrator, Ilana Oster, edited my middle grade novel, The Dragon's Ring, and taught me so much. I've learned to let go of paragraphs and whole pages, even a whole chapter, to make the story flow better. She helped me and now I help Jean, like paying back.
I have made my own writer's market by following Chuck Sambuchino and Brian Klems, thru twitter and Writer's Digest's online newsletter. They offer advice and give names of agents seeking clients. Even if an agent they mention doesn't handle PBs, I check the agency's website and find an agent there who does. I print out the info, number it, and also write the information in a notebook with the assigned number. So when I have a YA novel to send out, I check my notebook for agents who handle YA novels, and then check my printout on how to submit to this agent. I also double check their website to make sure nothing has changed. Presently I have almost 200 agents/publishers on my list.
I have a doc file listing just the title of my stories, one per page. When I submit to an agency, I go to this file and under the story submitted I type the agency and agent and the date I submitted. When I hear back from the agent, I go to this file and type in the date I received a reply and Yes or No if accepted or not, and then highlight the line in yellow. Hopefully, this system will help me keep track of who I have sent my manuscripts so I don't send to the same agent/agency twice. This takes time but is worth the effort.
There has been some sadness in my family in 2013, too. My uncle Bud passed away in November and I miss him very much. He was like a second father to me, and was just always there for me when I needed him. My niece Tasha has several medical issues, but inspite of her troubles, she always is upbeat and has a smile on her face. She and her family live in Texas and I hope to see them in 2014, another goal. And my family have had some joy. My nephew and his wife had a baby girl this year, Anna Louise. She is a sweetie and looks so much like her grandpa, my brother Dennis, at that age.
2013 will soon be history. I am looking forward to 2014 as I know it will be the best year ever! Happy New Year to all!
Saturday, December 21, 2013
It's a cold Winter day with not just rain but ice pouring down. It's a good day to stay inside and write a blog.
Today I want to write about a pet peeve of mine. When submitting to agents, they usually ask for the first chapter or the first ten pages, or even the first five pages of a manuscript. I can't see how they can base their decisions on just five or ten pages or even a chapter.
I have been sending out Queries for the first book of my series, Dru & Darcy - International Intrigue. This book is The London Incident. Yesterday I received a personal note from an agent (something rare) and I was pleased by most of what she wrote. She said I had great punch at the beginning and end of my sample pages but she was bogged down by the section on airport security. She also thought my story was better suited for middle grade, not young adult.
I laughed when I read her statement. If she had read more than the first ten pages, she would have learned that the airport security played a big part in the plot. I begin with Dru having to be searched because the metal detector went off. She had 2 flash drives in her ballcap. She places them in her backpack. Later, when she is knocked down by the killer, he adds a flash drive to the stuff that flew out of her backpack and that is how the stolen flash drive gets to London. Also, in subsequent books in this series, Dru has trouble going through security. It is almost like an inside joke. What really was funny was the MG remark. Dru hasn't even met her love interest, Darcy, in those first few pages. Their romance begins sweet, with kisses and slow explorations of their feelings. By Book III, Danger in Rome, it gets very steamy. I sent my 36 year old niece an excerpt from Book III for her opinion, and it made her blush. There's no way this series is MG. It closer to New Adult.
Ten pages could not tell this agent all this. Had she asked for more detail, she would have known, but she read ten pages and said, not a good fit for her. (Not a good fit is used by a lot of agents, it's their catch phrase.)
When writing this series, I used the Jaws method. Remember that movie? Everything would be calm and peaceful and then suddenly, the music would change and you knew something was going to happen. In my novels I wrote so the teens would be enjoying themselves, siteseeing in London, or in the other books, Paris and Rome, having a good time and then something happens. The bad guys spot them and chase them, or they witness a murder or as in Rome, the necklace gets lost or stolen. I suppose the slow normal scenes would make the agent feel bogged down, but it's done for effect.
It's sad that today aspiring writers are judged by less than a thousand words.
I am a writer and I know I am a good writer. In November I wrote these 3 novels for NaNoWriMo and submitted them November 29th, with 155,814 words. Only 50,000 words were needed to be declared a winner. Over 314,000 authors from around the world participated and 42,212 were winners. 14%. I can proudly say I am one of the 14% and this was my first time to do NaNoWriMo.
My first drafts worked out this way: The London Incident I wrote in 9 days. Peril in Paris and Danger in Rome took ten days each. I would think agents and publishers would be wanting to sign on an author who can write this fast. I waited until December 1st before working on revisions and by December 15th I had done both a 2nd draft and a third. Third draft I read aloud to see how the words sounded and if they made sense.
Besides writing the 3 novels, I also made 3 jacket or book covers for fun, using photos I took when I was in these three amazing cities. You can see my book covers in my Photo Gallery. My novels are not just a murder mystery/romance, they are travel guides, telling how to get around in London, Paris and Rome, giving an idea of costs, how to use the Tube or Metro system, what foods are served in each country, words to say to get by.
I believe my stories could easily be adapted to screen. Three exotic cities, 2 teenagers in love, murder and mystery, hostage situations, life and death struggles, govenment secrets, famous paintings stolen by the Nazis in World War II, a twelve million dollar diamond and emerald necklace believed to have been owned by Marie Antoinette, the London Eye, the Euro train, the Palace of Versailles, the Spanish Steps and the Coliseum, all are parts of the the puzzle that make up Dru & Darcy's International Intrigue.
For NaNoWriMo next year, I am considering doing more in this series, with another excursion to Paris, and one to Edinburg, Scotland and Dublin, Ireland and the country of Ireland. Again, these are places I've seen and I would weave what I know, saw and did into the plot.
I just wish agents and publishers would give writers a fairer chance, by reading more of their manuscripts to get a better picture of what the author is trying to convey.
I'm done sounding off. If you are snowed or iced in, stay inside where it's warm, drink hot chocolate and read a good book.
Bye for now.
Monday, December 16, 2013
My last blog was November 29, 2013. It's hard to believe so many days have gone by!
I had been putting my blogs at the end of this page, but decided today to start listing my blogs at the top. That way one doesn't have to scroll all the way down to get my latest news.
I announced in November I completed NaNoWriMo with 155,814 words. Yea!!! Since then I have been revising my novels. Yes, I wrote three novels in November. Total word count now counting page numbers and beginning info, 162,783. Each novel is over 50,000 words.
As I worked over my first draft I was amazed at the mistakes I made and not just spelling. My protagonists were Dru, 16 year old girl, and Darcy, 17 year old boy. When I meant to write Darcy, I wrote Dru, and vice versa and I found out I spelled Dru as Drew many times over. Also, I had to keep track of my characters, what they wore, what they said. If one character didn't leave with a jacket, why did I say she reached in her jacket pocket later? I never realized how hard it was to keep facts straight. It may have been harder with 3 novels as I had to carry over information from each book to the next.
When I ended one novel, I did so with a tease about what was about to happen with the next. Before Dru left London on the Euro train, I had someone slip a note into her jacket pocket. What was in the note and who put it there did not get told until the second novel, Peril in Paris. The same thing for when the teens left Paris for Rome. Darcy bought a necklace in the Paris airport, and then the story in Rome was about the necklace.
Writing these novels were fun as I have been to the three great cities where I sent my characters. It was like taking the trip again. All the sites my characters saw in London, Paris and Rome, I saw, too. Perhaps because I was writing from experience, my story flew from my fingers to the pages.
Besides writing the novels, I made mock book jackets for each. NaNoWriMo more or less expected one, and I submitted my London book jacket for it, but I also did a book jacket for Paris and Rome, using photos I took when I was in each of the cities. I was surprised how well they turned out. You can see three of my favorite photos, one from each city, and all three of my book jackets on my Photo Gallery page.
Julie Caveny is in my local writers group, the Scribes. She teaches in Mount Olive, Illinois. As a special project, she invited students in her class, and in other grades, too, to do NaNoWriMo with her. I believe she said the students ranged from 5th grade through high school. None of them made the 50,000 mark, but they did exceptionally well. Julie should be very proud of what she did for those students. She showed them that writing can be fun as well as challenging. She is shaping the writers of the next generation. Julie's novel is about Machu Pichu, and her plot is well thought out. I know I'd love to read it. She also did a book jacket and it is amazing! I'm looking forward to the day Julie finds a publisher for her story.
So far I have sent Query letters to two agents who are seeking YA novels. My fingers are crossed that I will hear from one of them soon.
Also, more good news. Calamity Cat, my picture book, was released Dec. 2, 2013 by MeeGenius. It can be found on their website, and this link will also take you to my book: https://www.meegenius.com/readers/1/0476a7e686628b465aa517cabba7298f.
As I glance out my window, I see my yard covered in snow. Winter is a great time to sit at the keyboard and write. A cup of hot chocolate also sounds good, so I'll sign off for now.
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Setting up this website was something I put off for too long. I thought I had to have several books published so I would have something to show before starting a website. The ladies in my local writers group, Scribes, said, "No! Do it now!" I checked online for ideas on how to get started. There are also tutorials teaching you how. One of the gals in my group said, "Go to U Tube and learn from one of their videos."
Two days ago I finally jumped in. I binged BLOGS and found Webnode.com and they offered free websites. Super! I registered and picked out my template. Since I write for children, I liked the goofy looking lamb on the bike, ready to take a leap over a cliff. That's me, taking a leap! I'm jumping into the unknown, hoping that what I write reaches people and touches their hearts. The shamrocks on the other side of the cliff clinched this template for me. I'm Scot-Irish with German mixed in. Daugherty, a good Irish name, though in Ireland it's spelled Doherty. Shamrocks make me think of St. Patrick which makes me think of Ireland. The shamrocks in this template are four leaf clovers, lucky shamrocks for my venture into blogging on a website.
With practice I figured out how to edit and write text, and I set up the site set the way I wanted. I had to remember to not only save my text, but to click on Publish so it would be shown. And then I wrote my first blog!
Starting a website was fairly easy. I don't know why I was afraid to try. I think sometimes it is fear that holds me back. Fear of rejection is a BIGGIE. Sending a manuscript to an agent or publisher is one of the hardest parts of writing. The stories come easy, but when I start a Query letter, I spend days on it. I've been told that a manuscript can be rejected if the Query letter is poorly written. That's a lot of pressure for any writer. I had a fear of starting a website. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do it on my own. And then to write down my thoughts so others can read, that's scary. What if I can't think of anything to write? What if people don't like what I do write? I give fear too much power and doing this blog is my way of trying to overcome it.
Back to setting up this website, that is what I want to focus on today. I was able to go into a section marked Properties and list tags, words that will bring up the site in a search engine. I chose writing for children, children's books, my name, and a few others. Hopefully, when someone googles or bings children's books, this site will appear.
The hardest part for me was when I tried to verify my website on Google Master. I kept pasting in the meta tag Google Master gave me, and it wouldn't verify. After countless letters to the Webnode representive, who replied quickly after each request with instructions, I did it! I think it still takes two weeks for Google to get the site in their directory, so until then I will remain obscure.
My website is free, but I have options to buy into Premium packages. Also, for a yearly fee I could register this site under my own Domain name instead of Webnode.com. The price is not bad, around $18.95 for one year, but for now I am happy and will stay with Webnode. I don't know why I was afraid to start my own website. It was fairly easy. I hope anyone else out there who has the same fear I did, will take my message to heart. It doesn't hurt to try. Take the leap!
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Happy Birthday to my brothers, Dan and Dennis!
Before starting this website, I joined twitter. I don't post on it everyday, and I'm just starting to build a following, but I find it a great resource for writing information.
Who do I follow? Publishing houses, agents and other writers. Writer's Digest is top on my list. I also get their e-mail newsletters. Kudos to Brian Klems, editor, for his helpful articles and advice. When agents are seeking a certain genre, he lists it. I find this useful when searching for an agent who handles MG (middle grade) manuscripts or PB (picture books), as these are the age groups for whom I write. Many agents are selective or closed to submissions, but either through Writer's Digest e-mails or twitter, I find some willing to accept submissions. Many are new agents hoping to build a client list. I've heard new agents do not have the advantage of established agents, that they may not know the editors or publishing houses as well, but I think because they're new, they'll try harder.
I enjoy the tweets of Andi Brown, author of Animal Crackers. She's funny and inciteful, and by reading her tweets, I hope to learn how I should do mine. I also enjoy Chuck Sambuchino's tweets, as his advice for writers ring so true. It's like he's writing just for me, teaching about writer platforms, query letters, etc.
There is an agent I wish to submit a PB. I met her at a conference and feel she would be the perfect agent for my story. She's on maternity leave, but stated she will post on twitter when she is back to work. So I follow her.
I've heard it said at conferences, I've read it in online articles and newsletters about writing, and even my writer's group tell me to do it, get a platform. That means doing a website and getting on facebook and twitter. Be visible and build a following. This is the age of technology, so use it to sell your books. That's what I'm trying to do!
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Oops! Oh, no, I did it again!
As I mentioned before, writing the Query letter takes me as long or longer than writing a picture book. I am trying to follow the norm, Hook with the first paragraph - draw in the reader, brief discription or summary of the manuscript in the 2nd paragraph, brief brio for the third paragraph and then a closing paragraph where I thank the agent/publisher/editor and note what I'm sending - if by mail I also add, "an SASE is enclosed," and if by email I note if my Synopsis, first chapter, etc. is pasted or in a word doc., according to their specifications.
Since it takes so long to write a Query, I write one letter and adapt it for each person. I store my letters on a word doc file, and when ready to submit, I put in the right date, list the agency's name and agent to whom I am submitting. After Dear, I type the agent's name and in the body of the letter I also include the agent's name. This way I can use the same letter over and over by just making 4 small changes. Then I copy the letter and paste it in my e-mail. After that I paste what the agency requests, i.e., sample chapter and/or Synopsis, in my e-mail. I type Query and agent's name on subject line and also title of the manuscript if required, then type in the agency's e-mail address and press send.
This is certainly easier than writing 20 different query letters for the same manuscript! I thought this was a great idea - Except when I make a mistake and send one letter to an agent with another agent's name in the letter. So a Ms. Jones got a query letter thanking a Ms. Smith! OOPS!
Everyone makes mistakes, not just writers, but agents and editors, too, and that is why I hope if someone gets an e-mail like this from me, he or she can laugh it off and forgive my transgression. If they only knew how hard I try to do it right, to follow their guidelines and rules!
Today I sent a manuscript to an agent who handles children's MG fantasy. There was a note in her online site that she was not seeking stories with dragons. My story is a fairytale; it's about a knight's quest for a unicorn and it's called "The Dragon's Ring." The ring plays a huge part in the story. The dragon is only in 2 chapters, and I hoped this agent would overlook the dragon and recognize the story for what it is, a love story. I noted on my query letter that I realized she wasn't seeking dragon stories, but hoped she would read and consider mine. One minute after I hit send- I kid you not! - I heard back from this agent. She wrote, "Unfortunately, I'm just not a fan of dragons in anyway. Call it a quirk of mine. I'm sure other agents feel differently. Best of luck."
I was not upset. I liked what I read about this agent on her website and thought maybe we would be a good fit, and I took a chance. I was really impressed at how quickly she got back to me. I debated if I should or not, but then sent her an e-mail back saying "Thank you anyway. I took a chance."
That's what writing is about, taking a chance. We write our stories with the hope other people will like them and want to buy them and read them. But to get the story published, we first have to take a chance. And that means sending query letters to countless agents/editors with the hope they will decide to take a chance on us.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
November is National Novel Writing Month and I signed up for NaNoWriMo. This website encourages any and all authors to write a novel with at least 50,000 words in thirty days. There are forums to check out and get support, you can sign on with a writing buddy, there are regional directors who find ways to involve the writers in the area to get together for "write ins" and for help. You don't write on this website, but you can share some of your work. You do record your word count. I'm new at this, so I don't have all the answers, but if you are a writer and interested in doing this, check out their website, www.nanowrimo.org. The last time I checked, over 117,000 writers have signed up.
I haven't a clue what I'm going to write. I do have two ideas swirling around in my head. One is a mystery/romance that takes place in three countries, and another is a sci-fi fantasy that involves time travel. I'm even trying to figure out if there's a way to combine my two ideas into one story.
Also, author Tara Lazar, who does a blog on her website, Writing for Kids (While Raising Them), is asking for writers of Picture Books to join her in Picture Books Idea Month, PiBoIdMo, based on the NaNoWriMo site. She's not suggesting one even write a picture book in November, she's wanting writers to come up with a Picture Book idea per day in November, then write the story when they have the time. I signed up for this, too.
Last January Luann, a fellow member of my writers group, Scribes, mentioned February was Picture Book Month and the challenge was to write a Picture Book a day. I did it! The longest time I spent doing this was 2 1/2 hours one day. Most of the stories I did under two hours.
Each day I'd sit at my PC and an idea would pop in my head, and I'd start typing. I wrote the name of the story on a calendar each day as well as the word count. My average word count was 600. Some stories I liked enough to continue with the characters in another adventure. I did three Ethan and Connor mysteries, and two monster stories with the same characters I used in one I had written a couple of months earlier. I did three stories about brothers who traveled to London, Paris and Rome, and also wrote about fairies, cats, turtles, baseball and baking. One day I even did a rhyming story for a change of pace.
I wrote Calamity Cat on February 18th. Mid March I submitted it to MeeGenius!, and the last of April I had a signed contract. The other stories I have been working on, sharing them with my writers group for critques, and submitting some of them to agents and publishers. I haven't sent any more to MeeGenius! as I want to see how this first one does. I've learned Lucy Mara is doing the illustrations and that the book should be released on their website this Fall/Winter.
I figured if I could write 28 Picture Books in one month, I should at least be able to come up with 30 ideas.
So if you don't see any blogs here in November, know I'm busy writing my novel or thinking up a Picture Book idea. Wish me luck!
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
I have my plot outline for the NaNoWriMo challenge. It's tenatively called Dru & Darcy - International Intrigue.
Dru and her parents are traveling to Europe, beginning with London. At the airport a stolen CIA flash drive gets mixed with Dru's and she is chased all thru London, Paris and Rome by the spies who want it.
In London she meets Darcy, who is with the same tour group she's on, and he helps her. They are in danger and chased at famous sites in each city, the Tower of London, the London Eye, The British Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, The Palace at Versailles, the Coliseum, the Vatican, the Spanish Steps.
They are captured in Rome and are tied up in Dru's hotel room. Dru manages to text her dad for help. He comes into the room, but is knocked unconscious. However, he managed to get a knife to Darcy. Darcy cuts his ropes and then threatens to flush the flash drive down the toilet. The men say they will harm Dru, so he gives them the flash drive and the men leave.
Dru is upset Darcy gave up the flash drive, but they all have a good laugh when he tells her he switched it for one of hers, and he still has the one the men wanted.
Dru's dad is a secret agent who called for backup before going into is daughter's room, and the bad men are picked up as they leave the hotel.
Vacation is over and Dru tells Darcy goodbye at the airport. Darcy informs Dru he going to go to college in her hometown so they can continue to see each other and asks if that's okay. Dru's answer is a kiss.
Now all I have to do is write it and use at least 50,000 words!
In my last blog I wrote about writing a Picture Book a day in February, and that it only took me 2 to 2 1/2 hours to write one. That's misleading because afterwards I have spent hours revising each story, changing words, redoing sentences, taking out and adding. One of the monster stories I have redone four times with different word count, and each version is also different. I just have to decide which version I like best and submit it.
Another one, Grandma Can't Hear, has two versions as does The Rainy Day Scavenger Hunt. Sometimes I think I overdo in revisions. Calamity Cat was submitted basically as written and the editor only had me do minor changes. Instead of I will, it became I'll and some commas were added, stuff like that, and it only took a few minutes to follow the editor's guidelines. The only other thing the editor helped with was deciding where each new page began. The whole process was new to me, but was easy.
I have been submitting The Dragon's Ring to agents. It's a fairy tale, but the Princess is the heroine, she keeps saving the knight. And no one ever finds out or knows her secret except the reader.
Ilyana, the writer I met while traveling abroad, critiqued my story and gave me wonderful suggestions. My original story was around 12,000 words. The version Ilyana critiqued had around 16,000 words and now it has almost 24,000 words. I added three more characters to the story and worked on more showing then telling. I am amazed at how much the story improved by doing this!
Some writers don't like advice, but I relish it. Ilyana saw things I missed and her suggestions were just that, if I didn't agree, I didn't have to do what she said. 99% of her ideas, I used. Thank you, Ilyana!
October 24, 2013
Today I signed up on Tara Laza's website for PiBoIdMo - Picture Book Idea Month. You can see my participation badge in my photo gallery. Her blog is called WRITING FOR KIDS (WHILE RAISING THEM). Great site, you should check it out. With this and the 50,000 word challenge for NaNoWriMo. (My participant badge for this is also in my photo gallery.) November promises to be a busy and exciting month.
Friday, November 1, 2013
It's here, NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, and today I wrote 5,504 words.
It was hard waiting until today to start. I had my story idea written out in a notebook and then outlined on index cards. Every night since I signed on in October I'd lie in bed and think how I wanted my characters to react to certain situations, what I wanted them to say. Today I finally was able to put my thoughts down on paper - I mean in a word doc file.
I began with a chapter I had not originally planned and the words kept flowing. My story started not at the airport, but in the office where the top secret file was copied onto a flash drive. The spy who stole the file has already killed one man, and as my story progresses, he will kill again. The second scene was Dru at the airport with her parents.
While waiting for their flight to London, Dru visits a kiosk to buy magazines and water. As she heads back to the waiting area, she is knocked down by the murderer/thief and everything spills from her backpack. The bad guy manages to slip the drive in with Dru's belongings. He thinks he's found the perfect patsy to sneak the drive on board the plane. His plan fails. Dru, believing the flash drive is one of hers, hides it in her money belt. When the spy's partner on the plan searches Dru's backpack, he doesn't find the flash drive. The young teen's life is now in danger as her plane prepares to land at Heathrow.
I started writing around seven this morning. Stopped at nine for breakfast and was back at it at ten. Had a few more interruptions, and then at one I headed to the store. When I returned home around 3:30, I ate lunch, typed for an hour, took another break and then typed from five o'clock until eight. Having reached over 5,000 words, I decided to stop, post my word count on NaNoWriMo's site, and then give my mind a rest until tomorrow. Yet here I am, still writing. Ha!
Worth noting - 23,198 authors have signed up to write 50,000 words this month. Think of all the marvelous stories that are now being created and may someday be published, maybe even becoming a best seller!
For Picture Book Idea Month, (this month, too), I thought of five picture book ideas and wrote them down. Each day I need only think of one idea, but a guest author challenged everyone to come up with five today, so I did.
Again, if I don't get back to blogging soon, just know I'm working on my novel.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
It's day six of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month and I now have 30,600 words to a novel done. I can't hardly believe it myself. Barely a week ago I had an idea and outline. When I started writing last Friday, I amazed myself by how easily the words flew from my fingers.
I need to thank Julie from my writers group who did this last year and encouraged our group to try this year. She's also doing it, and her class is, too. (She's a teacher.) I don't know how many words she has done, but I'm pretty certain she will reach the goal of 50,000 words by the end of the month.
According to the NaNoWriMo website, 285,190 authors are now working on a novel. Looking back at the last post, I know I must have written that number down wrong.
I believe my story is changing as I am writing. I had planned for the main character, Dru, to be pursued across three countries for the missing flash drive, but I'm still in London, when I thought by now I'd have her running for her life in Paris. I'm now thinking a three book series - I know, how ambitious is that! Each book will have a different problem/mystery. The London incident will end as will book one, and then book two will be set in Paris, and another mystery will surface on the train to Paris from London. Book three will have her in Rome, the Paris incident over and now another mystery begins. So what started as one book, 50,000 words has turned into three books and who knows how many words and all thanks to NaNoWriMo.
I doubt I would have even tried writing a YA (young adult) novel had it not been for this challenge. Thank you NaNoWriMo and thank you, Julie!
Also, for Picture Book Idea Month, I now have 12 new picture book ideas, 6 more than the one a day requirement. By the end of the month I will have over 30 new ideas for a children's book. On a roll!
Saturday, November 9, 2013
This is a quick note to say I'VE REACHED THE 50,000 WORD GOAL FOR NANOWRIMO!!!!! Actually, I've written 51,090 words and my novel isn't finished yet. What began as a novel set in 3 countries. London, Paris and Rome, is now three books, one for each country. The one I'm doing now is The London Incident. The one for Paris is tentatively titled, Peril in Paris and I don't have a title for the one in Rome yet.
There are presently 291,041 authors writing for NaNoWriMo. I don't know where I fit with all of them, if anyone else has written 50,000 words yet. This is only day 9 and there are 21 more days left in the month. Wouldn't it be cool if I was the first to hit this mark?
On a sadder note, this morning my 93 year uncle Bud passed away. It's the end of an Era. He is the last of my mom's three brothers and four sisters to go, including my mom. Memories are all I have left, and I will cherish them always.
Monday, November 11, 2013
The heavens have a new veteran in its haven, my Uncle Bud who passed away Saturday. He fought in World War II, but never talked much about his service, and I wish he had. Oh, the stories he could have told, and perhaps I could have written down for prosperity! But those words he kept inside him will never fill a page. Like him, they are now lost forever.
Writing is healing, and I've found when I've suffered the loss of someone I love, like my Uncle Bud, words flow out of me. I've continued with the NaNoWriMo project, even though I've reached my goal of 50,000 words. Today I finished Book I of Dru & Darcy's International Intrigue, The London Incident It has 54,367 words, but this a first draft. When I go back later to revise, the word count may be 1/3 more than it is now.
Also, today I started to write Book II, Peril in Paris. I wrote a few pages, then quit in order to write down an outline. When I began this morning, I didn't know where my story was heading, but now I have the whole book outlined on index cards and have down on paper 2,643 words, making my grand total so far this month as 57,010 words.
I was never one to index an outline before, but I think from now on I always will. First I wrote in a notebook how I wanted this story to proceed, then I skimmed through what I wrote and put the vital information on index cards, listing them as card A through card N, 14 cards. My London story I numbered my cards 1 through 18 and came up with a 54,367 word novel - just from 18 index cards!
In the Peril in Paris I have several twists, so what seems like the bad guy may actually be a good guy and the good guy may really be the bad one. Again, my teenaged hero and heroine are in life and death situations. There is a cryptic message they must solve. There is a murder on the Euro train to Paris, and one that happened in London they knew nothing about. There is a beautiful French model named Monique who makes Dru jealous when she pays attention to Darcy, and Darcy is jealous of a French man named Pierre, and a man from his hotel named Hans, when they both flirt with Dru. I know the ending, but will not tell it here or at least not yet. It appears there is a second novel in me wanting out.
Friday, November 29, 2013
It's been a while since I've written anything in my blog, but I have a great excuse. I've been working on my novels for NaNoWri Mo. Around midnight this morning I submitted my novels to be validated and I am officially a winner! I had 155,814 words, 584 pages.
My one idea turned into a series of three novels, The London Incident, Peril in Paris and Danger in Rome. In each one my protagonists, Dru and Darcy become involved in a murder mystery.
I was truly amazed how fast my fingers flew over the keyboard. It was as the stories were writing themselves. Now that my first draft is finished, I know I will be spending countless hours still over the keyboard, revising and editing. Right now I am just savoring the pleasure in knowing I accomplished something wonderful.