Wednesday, October 29, 2014

NaNoWriMo Time Again

It's that time of year again - when the world is suddenly full of novelists trying to get in fifty thousand words before the end of November.

I've participated in NaNoWriMo several times, and all but one made the goal (the year I didn't, I got the flu and lost my momentum). This year I won't be participating because I'm in the middle of too many other projects to have it make any sense for me, but here are a few tips for those of you who are giving it a go.

1) Have a plan. You don't necessarily have to have your entire story plotted out and outlined, but you should know where you want to end up. Much easier to get someplace if you know where that place is.

2) Don't worry about editing - that's one of the major rules of NaNoWriMo - no editing - just write forward. Keep going. Don't worry about what you've already written, you can fix that later. Keep the story moving forward.

3) Connect with other writers - whether you attend a local write-in - or just cheer on your buddies when they post their daily word counts. The added incentive of other people doing the same thing, and being able to see how you are progressing are great ways to keep you motivated

4) Don't fear writer's block. When you get stuck, just write through it. You don't know what to write? Describe what the characters are having for breakfast or the room they are sitting in. Don't worry if it is nonsense, it can come out later when you edit, but if you keep writing you'll find the story again. It's there, waiting for you.

5) Have fun with it!

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween Promotion!

I've been told it's Promo Tuesday here, and I have a sale to promote. My publisher, Amber Quill Press, has the electronic forms of my book, The Crystal Throne, part of its .99 Books and Bundles sale now through November 6th.

Just in time for Halloween! Why is that date significant for The Crystal Throne? Because it's set just before Halloween. Jeanne Tucker and Peter Burns' English teacher assigned their class to write about the "haunted tree" in nearby Wilson's Forest as a Halloween assignment. Like Peter, their teacher was new to town and didn't know about that particular tree. To most of the kids in town, it was just a creepy looking oak tree that people avoided. Jeanne Tucker's grandfather had told her all the legends about that tree, including what he had seen when he was a young boy. Jeanne planned to write about that for her assignment.

Peter Burns, on the other hand, came out to the forest to examine the tree and see why people were so freaked out about it. Unfortunately, his twin sister tagged along. Jeanne Tucker comes across the Burns twins arguing in front of the tree.

Little did any of them know that the tree had plans for them.

Along with the haunted tree, The Crystal Throne has witches, wizards, elves and talking horses. Peter and Jeanne are pulled into a magical world and asked to break a curse. The two twelve-year-olds must work together, which is hard because Peter doesn't believe in magic or even where they are while Jeanne, who loves to read fantasy, knows the real dangers they face.

On sale for .99 now through November 6th at Amber Quill Press, The Crystal Throne is available in several electronic formats, including those for Kindle and Nook.

Friday, October 10, 2014

So You Want to Be An Author

Two things came together lately. First has been a number of articles about writing and the publishing industry. Articles such as "My Best Seller Made Me Nothing" on what it means for your book to be a best-seller and what authors actually make, alerts from Writer Beware and Dear Author on problems with publishers plus even ones about various state IRS agencies considering artists and authors who don't make a lot of money as "not professional".

The second was the request from a student to answer questions about what it means to be a writer. This isn't new; I've had such requests before. The schools usually have a questionnaire that the students have to follow as they interview people in a career that the students are interested in. Some students do their own research to check on the field, and only ask some questions during the interview, but some will just pass along *all* the questions.

The questions that the student should research are the standard ones about job requirements, how many such jobs exists, possible salary, etc. As a former librarian, I know one of the best resources on occupations is the Occupational Outlook Handbook, and for future reference the url for Writers/Authors is And, yes, most of the answers to the questions on the questionnaire can be found there.

However, those researching this question should keep in mind that the "average" salary listed in the OOH for a writer doesn't quite reflect that of a lot of authors I know. Most of us have day jobs, and the college degrees are needed for that job rather than the novels we write (the summary is probably for newspaper and journal writers back in 2012. But even for those writers the field has changed). For most authors, average writing income will depend on how many books they have and how many of those are still earning royalties. Jim C. Hines has posted on his blog his writing income over the years (two posts here). John Scalzi posted about his various income streams (since it's best to have more than just one today) back in 2010.

As far as the education background needed to be a writer, the main one to me is English Composition courses (or the equivalent for those writers in other countries). If you have a good grounding in grammar and spelling, you're set. I didn't get an advanced degree in creative writing; back when I started writing those instructors teaching creative writing looked down on genre such as Science Fiction so I didn't waste time or money arguing with them. I know a few beginning writers nowadays who have gone on to get an MFA in creative writing and time will prove whether the degree is worth it for them or not.

Another requirement I would suggest is to read. A lot. In many genre as well as what you enjoy. Study the books of the authors you love and see if you can figure out what they did to make you love their work so much.

Another important requirement is to write. And not just the stories you want to tell. I know several writers, myself included, who worked on the student newspaper while in high school. That taught me how to write to a deadline, how to keep to a specific word count and how to write even when I wasn't in the mood. (this will also help later for student papers in college)

Are you an introvert? Great! You'll be spending a lot of time at your computer writing. Are you an extrovert? Also great. You'll need that side of your personality to go out and promote your book at conventions and book signings. Publishers nowadays expect their authors to do a good share of their own promoting. The days when an author could just sit back and let the publisher do that side of the job are long gone. And if you decide to go into self-publishing, you'll be doing even more promoting.

Any other suggestions you would give to a young writer researching this as a career?

Or, any reaction to recent articles on the industry?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Do you ever wonder if the stars are against you? Do you ever wonder if you're jinxed? In the world of writing, it's easy to think nothing will ever go right, at least for me. And then the magic happens. Usually when you least expect it. And then you grin and the world is right again.
I mentioned this story awhile back and am happy to announce that my MG/Tween contemporary novel, STAR OF THE TEAM, is officially published. It's available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Also, possibly at other places. I haven't checked yet.
A girl.
A dream.
An accident.
A dream shattered.
Eleven-year-old Kate Taylor dreams of being the star of her basketball team, Angels. When Kate's tooth is knocked out at one of the games, and her mother, who is also her coach, says she can't play until the tooth the dentist replants heals, Kate's dreams are in jeopardy. Add Emily, the new girl at school who claims she's the best, and Kate faces a challenge to prove that she is the star.
Will Kate succeed? Or will Emily ruin Kate's plans?
I'm happy to share my good news with you.
Happy Reading!

Monday, October 6, 2014


It's fall again, and that means pumpkin EVERYTHING! I was never a fan of pumpkin when I was growing up. Never liked pumpkin pie, always apple. But now that I've grown I've developed a taste for it. Seems like there is nothing that doesn't have a "special" get it now pumpkin spice flavor. So far I've had pumpkin coffee, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin cheesecake smoothie (delicious!) and even pumpkin spice Oreos (highly recommended). 

I LOVE October, and not just for pumpkin. Being me, I'm pretty much a Halloween junkie. One of my favorite holidays. Because DRESS UP. I haven't yet gotten out my decorations, the time to really go all out just hasn't been available the last few years. But I get out my gargoyles and ghosts and strobe light skull. This is my first year in a school with older kids, so I can't WAIT to show my 8th graders some Poe. They think they're tough, they're in for a surprise. 

I have gotten compliments on my son's choice of costume every year -- Obi-Wan Kenobi, Draco Malfoy, Doctor Who (11, with bow tie), Percy Jackson, the Headless Horseman. Obscure, different, really fun costumes. This year he wants to be Agent Phil Coulson. Not Ironman. Not Captain America. NOT Thor. Phil-freaking-Coulson. What a great kid, such imagination that he chooses the quiet but still butt kicking completely human agent instead of the obvious superhero. I love him! My costume...if I'm allowed to wear one to school... I have a couple of choices. Working on a Hermione, which would be perfect for Library, or I ordered some new Steampunk stuff. We'll see. 

Meanwhile, I've turned in my first round edits and I'm working on other projects. Trying to squeeze it all in! Next week I'l be at the Collingswood Book Festival -- if you're in the area stop by!

But it's FALL so nothing else matters.

Happy October!!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Release Week!

So, the third book in my series is now available in ebook, and the print versions should be available any day now. This is pretty exciting stuff.

   In the first book, Ali wants to be famous, like her mother, and with the help of a video blog and a viral video she gets what she wants. Only it turns out to not be quite what she thought it would be... isn't that always the case.

In the second book, Ali is ready to leave fame behind her, but notoriety follows her when her young half-brother disappears while she is watching him. Ali has to find her brother while dealing with constant media attention.

So, that's the recap of the first two and, as a special treat, they are both on sale at most e-book outlets for this week, in order to celebrate the arrival of book three.
And now we come to the third (but not yet final) book in the series. This time Ali has to prove her innocence when accused of being part of a cheating ring at school. You just know after the first two books, that things couldn't possibly go without a hitch for her, right?

So, I'm going to hope that this has convinced you to read a bit about Ali, if you haven't already. In the meantime, I'm going to sit back and enjoy my release week!