Friday, June 29, 2012


I want to interrupt my usual blog flow to take a moment to mention once again my publisher, Musa Publishing.

I've known of Celina Summers and Dominique Eastwick for several years, as active members over on the forums at Absolute Write. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the amazing residents over there because they have tirelessly helped me to become a better writer and helped build my confidence.

When I first began reading Celina's posts about starting her own publishing company, I didn't think I had a chance. So I contacted a fellow writer and told him to check it out. When he told me later that he had submitted to them and had been offered a contract, I was thrilled for him. I knew his writing was strong and I enjoyed his tales. 

Then he suggested that I also submit to them. I put it off for a while, fearful that it would end in another rejection. Also, I write for a younger group, basically upper MG, and I didn't know how well that genre fit into their overall plan.

I'm so thankful that I took his advice and overcame my fears. They are an amazing group to be a part of, and work tirelessly to make sure technologically challenged writers such as myself, although I might be the only one in their fold, learn the concepts of marketing and contracts and the myriad other things that writers need to learn in order to stay current with trends in publishing.

I'm very excited to be a part of this team. I believe that the ebook market for the younger set is just now beginning to bloom, and before we know it, it's going to burst into a plethora of new opportunities for writers to get our work out to the masses.

But don't just take my word for it. Read what Musa has to say about it here:

I'll be back next week on my thoughts about saving cats. I hope everyone has a blessed weekend. And I hope they get those fires out in Colorado under control very soon.


Monday, June 25, 2012


Do you ever get stuck in your writing? I'm not talking about the so-called writer's block. It's something else, but I don't know quite how to describe it. Your plot is delicious. Your writing is tight. You've edited the dickens out of it. Your characters are vibrantly alive and your voice is unique and intriguing. But you feel a flatness.

Perhaps you need to step back and consider something that we often overlook. Have you thought about changing your POV? Will that add new life to the story? Or you possibly have the wrong person telling the story. Maybe your MC isn't the best person for the job. Is there someone in your story that is stronger? Or perhaps your MC is too strong and your story would improve if it were told from the perspective of a more vulnerable character. 

I'm experimenting with several possibilities as I begin rewrites on one of my trunked novels. It caught the interest of quite a few agents a few years back, but they all ultimately passed on it. I haven't figured out what will work best in this case, because it's still in the first stages of revision, but several ideas are floating around in the vast wasteland of my mind. What about alternating POV? Have any of you had success with that? It sounds rather complicated to me, but that might be what this particular novel needs. Both of my MC's are rather strong, and I wonder if they have been vying for the lead role all this time, and that's why it didn't quite gel.

How about you? Have you ever thought you had the entire book worked out and then second-guessed yourself into major rewrites? Did it help?

Have a great week, everyone. Hope you accomplish all your goals.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Lovely Weekend

Many people would find my life boring, but it suits me just fine. I had a very enjoyable weekend with my family, which is my favorite kind to have. (That sentence needs work, I know, but I'm leaving it for now.)

We did a little shopping on Saturday and then went to the movies. Men in Black 3 made me laugh out loud. Fortunately, most of the patrons were seeing other flicks, so I didn't disturb too many. I happen to think Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith do a great job of balancing each  other, and I enjoy their speech, style, and quick come-backs. Of course, the ending made me cry, so they owe me another one.

I read a rather entertaining book this weekend. Whales on Stilts by M.T. Anderson. Good grief. It is the silliest, goofiest, most preposterous thing I've read in ages, and I think I needed that. Even more ridiculous than the story are the little additions the author added at the end. He's included tests, interviews, and reading and thinking guide. It's a very short read, and if you have any prepubescent boys in the house, I'm sure they would enjoy it.

After church services this morning, we had a potluck and a Vacation Bible School meeting. We're doing a boot camp theme this year, and I'm excited to be teaching that. My husband has been out of the service for many years and it will bring back memories of that happy time. Of course, the food was amazing and I ate a lot more than I should have. But someone made a delicious dessert involving pound cake soaked in sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream, then topped with whipped cream and a variety of fresh fruit. After the first bite, I realized why some of the men had the audacity to serve themselves a slice of it before we even had all the food ready.

Then someone passed out a little goodie that I thought I'd share with you, although I don't have any way of acknowledging the writer. I just thought it was cute, and might bring a smile. It's in a Question and Answer format. Hope you enjoy.

Q. What kind of man was Boaz before he married? 
A.  He was ruthless.
Q. What do they call pastors in Germany?
A.  German Shepherds.
Q. Who was the greatest financier in the Bible?
A. Noah. He was floating his stock while everyone else was in liquidation.
Q. Who was the greatest female financier in the Bible?
A. Pharaoh's daughter. She went down to the bank of the Nile and drew out a little prophet.
Q. What kind of motor vehicles are in the Bible?
A. Jehovah drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden in a Fury. David's Triumph was heard throughout the land. Also, probably a Honda, because the apostles were all in one Accord.
Q. Who was the greatest comedian in the Bible?
A. Samson. He brought the house down.
Q. What excuse did Adam give to his children as to why he no longer lived in Eden?
A. Your mother ate us out of house and home.
Q. Which servant of God was the most flagrant lawbreaker in the Bible?
A. Moses. He broke all 10 commandments at once.
Q. Which area of Palestine was especially wealthy?
A. The area around Jordan. The banks were always overflowing.
Q. Who is the greatest baby sitter mentioned in the Bible?
A. David. He rocked Goliath to a very deep sleep.
Q. Which Bible character had no parents?
A. Joshua, son of Nun.

Have a blessed week. And be sure to take time to read and smile.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Have You Read The Humming Room?

I should be writing, but I can't resist picking up a book every evening and floating off to another world. The other day I grabbed The Humming Room by Ellen Potter. I couldn't put it down.

The Humming Room is a rewrite of The Secret Garden, but she's written it so beautifully, I'd call it more of a tribute. Ms. Potter's characters are much more interesting to me than the originals, and Roo is so fearless that I couldn't help but love her.

As Roo tells us, she's 'seen everything' in her short, tragic life. It's made her distrustful, independent, sneaky. It's also made her a survivor. From the very beginning, when she's hiding under the trailer where a tragedy has occurred, her spunk and determination are evident.

Then she meets the peculiar residents of Cough Rock. Her uncle is unapproachable and preoccupied and has no time for little Roo, but he can surprise us when we least expect it. Ms. Valentine is a rather forgettable character, but she's balanced with Violet, the young maid who befriends Roo and entertains her with ghost stories and tales of the grannies. I think her youth is a great match for Roo because she tosses back insult for insult as she laughs off Roo's attempts at aloofness and her "I don't care" attitude.

Then there's the Faigne. I love this character, but I'm not going to give you any details because you need to meet him for yourself. I will say that his calm demeanor is a lovely balance for Roo's volatile nature.

One would expect Roo to fill the role of the tragic character in this tale, and in many ways she does, but then we meet Phillip, who has been hidden in the house and entertains us with the expected temper tantrums and selfishness one would expect from the indulged heir. He and  Roo butt heads nicely while their friendship grows and Phillip struggles with his jealousy of the Faigne.

I was a little disappointed at the abruptness with which the book ended, because I wanted to watch the promise of the garden unfold in its fullness, but I suppose the author considered she had fulfilled her obligation by allowing us to see that everything was going to work out. I know we are taught to not linger over the ending once we get there. But I still wanted a little bit more.

Highly recommend you add this one to your to-read list. 

Have a lovely weekend, everyone.


Monday, June 18, 2012

A Thank You and a Favor Request

Some people may not realize it, but Kansas sunflowers are HUGE! The first time I walked over to my neighbor's field to show the sunflowers to my niece, I was surprised at the height of the stalks that hold up the weight of those beautiful, sunny blossoms. They were much taller than I realized. It was fun to see the delight on the kids' faces as they were shorter than the blooms that were as big as their heads.

So today I'm sending a huge bouquet of Kansas Sunflowers to all of you. I would first like to thank everyone who has taken the time to check out my fairly new blog. If you have clicked on the little Follow button, I would be honored to return the favor. Just let me know your blog's URL, and if I haven't already, I will definitely sign on as a follower.

Now I would like to make a request. I am very interested in finding out more about book trailers. I didn't make a trailer for Michaela's Gift. I don't know the first thing about how one does such a thing. I didn't hire someone else to do it for me, either, because I am a newly-published writer, and, frankly, I have no money yet. 

But I would love to know more about trailers. Not only about how they are created, but why an author chooses particular elements to include in each trailer.

So if you have a trailer and would like to share it, along with the details of your book, I would love to hear from you. Or, if you are a creator of trailers and would like to share a little about how you decide what to include, or any other interesting details, I would love to hear from you.

Of course, this is a G-rated site, so it would be nice if we could keep it to kid lit, or at least something suitable for all audiences. I have nothing against a good horror story.

Thank you so much. If you are interested and don't want to share your contact information on this site, you may certainly email me at

Have a fantastic day!

Michaela's Gift is Here!

Well, I think amid all the excitement and trepidation of the release of my debut MG/YA novel, Michaela's Gift, I forgot to actually announce it once it became available. 

So, um, just a few days late, I'm announcing that it's finally available for purchase at all of the usual outlets, as well as at my publisher's website. I'll try to figure out how to  post all the URL's in a minute.

And a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been following me along this publication journey. It's been a fun ride, and I can't wait to do it all over again. But none of it would have been possible without the support of my friends and family, so again, thank you.

Michaela's Gift is priced at a mere $2.99, and can be found at:

Again, thank you all. I'll be back soon with something less self-centered.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Developing a Positive Self-Image

As a writer, I've received my share of rejection letters from agents. Actually, I'm sure many more will come my way, but that's one of the perks of putting your work out there and asking others to love it. Not everyone will. And that's okay. Rejections are simply a part of the process. It's nice when they are constructive and give you something to strive for. They're also nice when they are written in such a way that makes you feel like you are close. 

Isn't it great when an agent sends you a rejection (well, that sounds wrong. Rejections are never great) that sounds like it's directed toward you, personally, and not just a standard form rejection? I admit that I naively thought a rejection was personal, when it was actually a form reject. Some agents just learn to be more sensitive with their negative responses, and some have developed very creative ways to say, no, thank you. Some of them may simply be saying, "I can't believe you would even waste virtual paper with this drivel. Shoot yourself in the head now and save humanity."

Okay. So I exaggerate. But that's how it feels at times. We just have to figure out a way to overcome those feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness and convince ourselves that what we are doing is, actually, worthwhile.

Think about it. You have accomplished something that many, many people will never manage, or even imagine trying to do, in their lifetime. You have written an entire novel. That's no mean accomplishment. You have not only written it. You have spent many hours tweaking it, exposing it to criticism by trusted beta readers and crit partners. You've possibly shared it on writing forums and entered snippets of it in contests. Your novel, my friend, is ready for the public. And so are you. Or, are you?

As difficult as it was to crank out that novel, share it with peers and strangers, query it to agents, and finally get it accepted by a publisher, your work has only just now begun. Now you have to promote it.

Thanks to the electronic world, promoting has never been easier. There are all kinds of sites available today that make it possible for an author to promote his book without leaving the comfort of his Lazyboy or backyard hammock. But that doesn't make it any less intimidating. It doesn't have to be that way, however.

If you can forget for a short while that it isn't YOU that you are promoting, and put the emphasis on your work, then it might become an easier task. You believe in your work, or at least, you should. You've devoted how many hours to creating it? A bit more than a few, I'd wager.

Why not put yourself in the position of agent while you promote? Think of your characters. Don't they deserve someone who is willing to do everything they can to get their story out to the public? They can't do it themselves. They are counting on you. And you believe in them. They are interesting, gritty, mind-blowing people (or sometimes other beings) that deserve to have their stories told. You are the only one standing between their fame and anonymity. They were worth countless hours of your time. Aren't they worth overcoming your fears and self-doubt to  introduce them to the world of readers?

Just something to think about. And please don't think I have an issue with literary agents. I still long for the day when I may sign a contract with one who will love every word that flows from my pen. It could happen, you know. My characters keep telling me this.

Have a blessed day. Smile at a stranger and stop and smell a rose. Be sure there are no bees in it first, though.


Monday, June 11, 2012


I just sent my Galleys back to my editor late last night. The process wasn't nearly as intimidating as I had feared, but it was a bit frustrating to discover some of the unbelievable mistakes I made.

I've always been fairly decent at spelling. There are times when my old brain has a major malfunction and I can't find the word I want. Actually, that happens more and more often as time goes by. And there was that time when the word 'piqued' totally sailed off to another world. I couldn't even look it up in the dictionary because I was in a hurry, and I couldn't get past the 'p'. The thought of doing a homonym search never even came into play, either. It was simply gone.

But the errors I made in my manuscript galley were worse, at least in my mind, than forgetting a correct spelling. I used a particular word sixteen times throughout the length of the book, and failed to consistently spell it correctly. I got it right about a third of the time. The worst part of it is that I never had a doubt as to the proper spelling. I just neglected to do it.

To make matters even worse than they already were, I didn't even catch this error the first time through. It wasn't until I thought I had everything in order that I discovered this mistake that should have been obvious from across the room. 

How about you? Are there particular words that give you trouble? That make you pause every time you start to type them? I'd love to hear about it. Or do you have any little tricks when you are editing that improve your chances of catching words that may be spelled correctly, but that you've used in the wrong context, like piqued or peaked? Sheesh, I still can't get over that one.

Have a great day, everyone. I hope you accomplish everything you set out to do today.


Monday, June 4, 2012


Today I am happy to announce that I’m hosting my very first guest blogger. Mindy Hardwick is one of my fellow authors with Musa Publishing. I’ve had the pleasure of reading her book, Stained Glass Summer. Today, however, she is going to promote another one of her books, titled Weaving Magic. She’s also here to talk about her inspiration.

Mindy works with incarcerated young people. It’s an admirable endeavor, and it sounds like Mindy garners as much from it as the kids she helps. But I’ll let you decide that by stepping aside and allowing you to read it for yourself. Thanks so much for showing Mindy your support. She’s pretty awesome.

I am ushered through a series of locked doors, down a long hallway and into a unit of twelve boys who wear orange pants and t-shirts. I sit down and pull poetry books from my canvas bag. The boys ask, “Who are you? Why do you want to volunteer with us?”

I ask myself these same questions every week. Why do I volunteer with this group of kids locked in juvenile detention? I could have easily gone to a local Boys and Girls Club or YMCA and facilitated an after-school writing workshop.

I’d recently left a full-time teaching job, and I didn’t really think I was a writer. But, after I left teaching, I realized how much I missed being around teens and tweens. A good friend was working with teens in juvenile detention in Seattle through a program called Pongo Publishing. She encouraged me to seek out the detention center closest to me.

When I contacted my local juvenile detention center, the program director was thrilled to have a volunteer writer and I began running a weekly poetry workshop on Monday afternoons. Each week, I met with the teens and asked them to write poetry about their life experiences. We read poetry written by other teens and the “kids in orange” wrote from the heart about loss, addictions, and of course, love! And something began to happen to me in those poetry workshops. I began to find my voice as a writer.

I would listen to the kid’s poetry and then go back home to write.  And, slowly, a story started to form. It was a story based partially on my own experiences as a teen and a story based partially on the kids’ experiences that I was privileged to hear each week.  That story was WEAVING MAGIC.


He loves magic. She loves romance. But the biggest illusion is the one Shantel and Christopher perform together.  Sixteen- year- old Christopher fights to stay sober while fifteen-year-old Shantel struggles in the aftermath of her mother’s death and seeks refuge in a fantasy world. But the unacknowledged roots of their problems refuse to stay buried and soon, the two are headed toward a deadly magic trick. Can Shantel and Christopher move beyond magical illusions to find love?

WEAVING MAGIC is available at Amazon and MuseItUp Publishing. WEAVING MAGIC is coming soon from Barnes and Noble and the Apple Itunes Store.

The years passed, and I kept writing and running the poetry workshop.  We began to get grants, and I added young adult literature and memoirs to our workshop. I moved the workshop to be a part of the school day, and we published four books of the youths’ poetry, and then, a blog. (

And, at the same time, my own writing began to take off.  Soon, I had a list of publishing credits from articles to short stories and I was teaching a lot of workshops.  In April 2011, I received the long awaited for e-mail. My young adult romance, WEAVING MAGIC, had been accepted. I finally had that elusive book contract. The following August, I received another book contract from a different publisher. My tween novel, STAINED GLASS SUMMER, had been accepted too.  Both stories are inspired by the teens in juvenile detention.

In WEAVING MAGIC, there is a scene in the book where main character Christopher sits in a juvenile detention poetry workshop and has an epiphany moment about his Father who is also in jail.  As I wrote that scene, I felt like I’d had my own epiphany moment and could finally answer the questions the kids asked of me in those early workshops.

Who am I? I am a writer.

Why do I volunteer with kids in juvenile detention? They show me how to write honestly and courageously.   

I hope you will visit the teens’ poems at
And stop by to visit my website at or blog:

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Paperback Writer

Does anyone else remember that Beatles' hit? I thought it was rather amusing when I first heard it as a near teen. Now it has taken on a whole new meaning for me. 

My debut MG/YA novel, Michaela's Gift, is set to release in less than two weeks. June 15th. The writing process was fun. The editing was a bit frustrating at times. Fear began inching its way in at the time of my contract offer. Anticipation ruled the day until I finally saw my amazing cover art. Now I'm totally petrified! 

I saw my book listed on the Musa website the other day under the Euterpe imprint new releases. Somehow I had managed to miss the announcement. I've been very busy lately with a funeral service, a graduation, and finally a wedding. But I thought I would have seen something that major. I wasn't expecting it to show up until the actual release. 

Now I need to get my rear in gear and find some willing souls who will do me the honor of interviewing me for their blogs or websites. I've completed a handful, but I would be more than willing to add a few more to my collection. And, of course, I'm more than happy to reciprocate. 

So if you're interested, just let me know. Just leave a comment or send me a Tweet. Thanks, everyone, for all the support.