Saturday, November 29, 2008

Adventures in Advertising

Greetings everyone,

I've started to float downward since receiving my cover art...then I kind of plopped to the ground. I realized that now that I have cover art and a release date, I'd better promote this story of mine or it will be pretty but won't sell any copies. Panic!!!!

This past week I've been looking for ways to promote my work. In some cases with success, in others-not so much. Here's what I've learned so far. 100 4x6 prints at your local Walgreens only costs about $15.00-20.00 and then (if you're published in e-format) you have little covers to hand out in order to promote your book. I handed my first one out to the girl who printed the photos for me. She reads books from EC and thought it looked interesting. Cha-ching!

You can even sign the lovely prints - but be sure to get some of those paint marker thingies. I had a meeting last night with the program committee of my local RWA group (we were planning the group programming for upcoming year). They all knew I had my cover and someone had asked, we'll if it's an e-book how can we get you to sign it for us. Soooooo, I brought my 4x6 prints and signed copies for everyone. My first ever "book signing". It was VERY fun.

So I stopped to think about what else I could do to promote myself and my book. I already have a Web page I adore designed by Stonecreek Media. Another good promotion location is MySpace, so I asked someone I know at PI, Emma Petersen, to redesign my MySpace page. I'll probably get a redesign of my personal blog page too in the near future, but for now it works okay.

Another great promotional tool is a bookmark. Now that I have cover art, I can move forward with a bookmark and a fresh design for a business card. Friends at PI highly recommended Croco Designs and so I went to Frauke's site to look over her design work. Tip: ALWAYS review the design portfolio of whoever you intend to hire in order to confirm they know what they're doing and you like their style. I really liked the designs so I'm having both a bookmark and business card created.

Frauke recommended an online printing company called GotPrint and I'll be using them. I've used VistaPrint for business cards in the past, but they don't offer bookmarks right now. VistaPrint is a good place to start out though and I was satisfied with my business cards from them. When I went to the RWA National conference two years ago, I needed a few hundred business cards in a hurry. They put them together and they looked good. Now, I want something more personalized.

I've also started buying advertising on a couple of high traffic Web sites: The Raven Happy Hour, Erotic Romance Writers, and I'm trying to get a spot with Romancing the Blog. However RtB sent back a response that they won't be taking any new advertising until January. I will have to check back though.

So what else can I do? I'm trying to decipher how to run a virtual book tour. I have no idea how to conduct one of these things. If anyone has suggestions, please (and I mean PLEASE) post in the comments area. Any and all suggestions, comments, and commiserations are highly welcome!

So that's where I am. A solid thump in the bottom after the floaty phase. I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Prompting Fun

Over the last few weeks (and beyond?) the employees of the Otherworld Diner have had fun writing fiction that began with a writing prompt. Writing prompts are popular writer’s helpers. And why is that? Possibly because give a writer something to "chew on" (as my daughter puts it), and the writer’s muse will likely keep on until she comes up with a story to go along with the concept.

Personally, I’ve had two published short stories that were developed due to writing prompts. One, "Alev Ha-Shalom" was the result of a first line writing prompt given to me by my older daughter. The story formed almost immediately in my mind, and was published in Lost in the Dark (online) magazine. The other was "Nightfall in G-Flat" (which I posted here). This story was the result of a contest, and the prompt was the title.

It’s not only formal prompts that result in stories. One "prompt" that I made use of came to me in a dream. Honest. The dream was about a cat I used to have, and the first line was in my head when I woke up, "Randi was never a good witch, at least not in the sense of a good card player or a good dancer." The story, "Misha" found its way into an anthology. Southern Comfort: A Charitable Anthology.

Because I’ve had so much fun with writing prompts, I think I’ll try my hand at writing prompts:

1. Someone finds a monkey wearing pajamas, but all is not what it seems.

2. A brand new silk blouse is delivered to someone. There is no return address or indication of where it came from.

3. A television commercial leads to a brand new life for someone.

Feel free to play with these. Or maybe you’ll have a very strange dream tonight. Either way, enjoy!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank you from us to you

Happy Thanksgiving!

The diner’s closed today so we, employees, can be home with family and friends, but thank you for visiting. We wouldn’t be in business without you. Please stop by tomorrow for our Black Friday specials, including our stellar cheesecake. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Is Healthy Pie Sacrilege??

I don't know if it is sacrilege or not, but here's a "healthy" pumpkin pie recipe we're trying this year. NOT at the Diner -- don't be ridiculous! Diner pies are all sugar and lard, all the time! Okay, not lard, or at least not all the time. But writing is a solitary and often sedentary occupation and it behooves writers to watch our sugar/fat/etc. intake. Anyway, here's the recipe.

Lite Pumpkin Pie

1.5 cups frozen fat-free vanilla yogurt, softened
1 reduced-fat graham cracker crust (9 inch)
1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sucralose-based sugar substitute
8 oz carton fat-free whipped topping, thawed
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Smooth the softened frozen yogurt into the crust, which explains why it needs to be softened, eh? Now, because we're geniuses, let's refreeze it for 30 minutes! While it's in the freezer, get a bowl and add pumpkin, fake sugar, and spices (everything left but the crust and the whipped topping). Mix all that up and then "fold in" the whipped topping, which basically means stir it in slowly. Remove pie crust from freezer (if it's been 30 min) and spoon the pumpkin mixture on top of it. Freeze again for 6 hours up to overnight. Remove from freezer 20 minutes before you try to cut it.

Oh, and...we have a regular pumpkin pie in the fridge already so it's not like we're denying ourselves.

What's the most non-traditional thing your family eats during the holiday season?

Jody W.

A brief promotional plug: My not-for-Disney fairy tale, A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH, was released in print form from Samhain today (November 26) if you like paper books instead of ebooks!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Golden Heart

Okay, I am really sorry about posting so late. Blame it on the Golden Heart Contest. (BTW, I have no idea why the picture on the left looks silver instead of gold...but it should be least that would make sense, right?)

Today, I sent my baby--my manuscript--off to Texas to RWA's Golden Heart Contest. If you're a romance writer, chances are you already know all about the GH. If you're not,'s the biggest contest around for unpubs. And it ain't for the faint-hearted.

You see, as much as we writers may complain about the process of creating like wrestling with writers block, nailing deep POV, or landing in rewrite hell, to me the most difficult part of the process is letting go. I know. I worked (notice the past tense, did you?) on this MS about 4 years. Finally, after having some very valid and true weaknesses exposed, I edited (again) and sent it out into the big, bad world. Today. All of this "letting go" stuff stands in direct opposition to my Italian mom nature. Big time.

Now, there's just the waiting.

Relatively speaking, the GH doesn't get you much bang for your buck. Priced at $50.00, this contest is hefty for my purse (especially these days). However, I needed incentive and desperate times call for desperate measures. Losing that much money because I couldn't hit a deadline works for me. Gone was the dawdling, the procrastination, the excuses. Oh yeah, I needed the GH because I needed to move on.

I hate to moving on, btw. (see note about Italian mom instinct above.)

Gratefully, my MS is out there and out of my hands. Pass. Fail. Win. Lose. I hit the deadline. I did it. And that accomplishment has lifted me out of a handful of dark days here in Jersey. The time has come.

It's a new day.

A new story.

And a new deadline.



Monday, November 24, 2008

The Paranoid Writer

Say the word ‘writer’ and the first words that come to mind are creative, solitary, and maybe even eccentric. But how about paranoid? Ask any writer and most will admit to experiencing paranoia concerning their writing at some point in their career. Sometimes it never goes away. Most cases of writer paranoia are related to either someone stealing their work or their ideas. While written work is automatically copyrighted the moment it’s put down on paper, ideas can’t be copyrighted. They’re out there for the taking and a writer can’t do a thing about it. In our creative paranoid minds, how does this happen? I’ve made a list of several types of writer-related paranoia we all might be familiar with:

Web Site Paranoia - the fear of putting first chapters on your web site and someone steals your idea from there.

Critique Partner Paranoia - the fear that one of your critique partners will trash your idea, then turn around and write a book using the very same idea.

Contest Paranoia - the fear that a judge reading your entry will steal your idea and write a similar story.

Submission Paranoia - the fear that an editor will read your submission, like your idea, but want one of her established authors to write the book instead and she gives the idea to them. (I doubt this happens but I’ve talked to several authors who genuinely have this fear. Some have it so bad, it keeps them from submitting their work.)

Synchronicity Paranoia - the fear that another writer will come up with the same idea at the same time out of pure coincidence.

Synchronicity is the paranoia I deal with at least once a month. I must confess that as I peruse the paranormal romance reviews in the latest issue of Romantic Times Magazine, I’m not looking for more books to add to my TBR pile (found a few anyway, not that the pile needed to get any higher). No, I’m looking to see if any books coming out are similar to the one I’m working on now. Each time the new releases are listed, I panic that some other author will have come up with the same idea. I worry that the book I have slaved over for two years will be worthless because some one else has beat me to the publishing punch. Are my fears justified? By the laws (or is it rules?) of synchronicity, they might very well be.

My current story has a dragon shapeshifter in it. “But that idea has been done before,” you say. Yes, but not quite the way I’ve done it (and no, I’m not going to tell you the twist). As far as I can tell, my take on the dragon shapeshifter story idea is different and unique. But it’s only going to be unique until somebody else thinks of it. So what’s a writer to do? The only thing I can do--finish polishing the book and get it out to editors and agents as fast as I can. I can’t control whether it gets published or not but if I don’t put it out there, it most certainly won’t be and someone--maybe next month, maybe next year-- will come up with the same brilliant idea and beat me to it. I don’t want that to happen. In the game of synchronicity, I want to be the one who beats somebody else to the idea first.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Release Date and Cover Art News!

I'm floating on clouds...
on pillows on clouds...
on feathers on pillows on clouds....

Why? Because I've received the cover art and release date for my book, Protect and Defend. My editor emailed me to tell me the book will be released by Ellora's Cave on January 7, 2009 and the cover department emailed me with a graphic of the cover art. The news and the graphic completely knocked me over.

I've kind of experienced this excitement before. It was a thrill when I saw the cover and received my author's copy of the anthology, Paranaughty, in the mail. To know that my short story, Alpha v Alpha was in print and I held it in my hands was awesome. But this one means even more, and I think I know why.

Because this book is ALL mine. My name is on the cover and my hero, Lieutenant Diarmid Redwolf is depicted there. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing a creation which is entirely yours readied for publication. Not only that, but I absolutely LOVE my cover. And let me say, Diar is seriously hot!

As soon as I saw the cover, I felt like singing and I've been grinning like a fool for the last couple of days. I even took the graphic to a local drugstore to have 4x6 prints made! I had an 8x10 made, but I put it into the frame right after I cleaned the glass and messed up the print, so I'll have to redo it. Even so, my heart is ready to hang the image on the wall where I can see it daily. For inspiration, you know. It's not just the hot guy...oh, no. ;-)

This cover is perfect because it fits the story. After all Diar takes his clothes off several times and he has his badge and gun on as he gets started. Like my heroine, Mikaela, I really like the way Diarmid looks as he removes his...gun and badge. Hey, what did you think I was going to say?

Receiving my release date and the cover art makes everything real. I know my book will become available and readers can download it to enjoy. That makes everything worthwhile for me. I'm thrilled that my readers will have the opportunity to fall in love with my shapeshifting crime scene investigator the way I did. And you know what, I'm even willing to share. The one problem is, I don't think Mikaela will. Oh well, that's what happy endings are all about! The heroine gets her hero and they live happily ever after...with hot sex.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Meanwhile Back at the Diner Part II

continued from

"She bit me!"

Cheryel and Jody took off toward table seven.

"Who bit you?" Jody asked the customer.

"She did." He pointed straight toward Veronica.

"Blood drinker," a deep, ominous voice came from somewhere near the opening to the kitchen.

Cheryel looked toward the accused. Veronica certainly didn’t look like a vampire you’d see in a movie. Though beautiful, hers was a casual beauty. Cheryel had the feeling this woman was more nerd than vamp—pun, sort of, intended.
"It wasn’t me," Veronica whispered. "I’d never hurt a human."

"She did, though," the customer at table seven insisted. "She bit my hand and tried to drink my blood."

Cheryel and Jody exchanged a look. "Hand?" Jody asked.

"That’s weird," Cheryel said.

Table Seven glared. "Weird or not, that’s what happened."

"I saw it too," The shapeshifter at table four said.

Cheryel looked around. The only other customers were a couple at the corner table, and they were so totally involved with each other, it was unlikely they noticed anything.

"What are you going to do with that blood drinker?" Table Seven’s face was burgundy.

"Shouldn’t have blood drinkers among humans," came from the general direction of the kitchen.

"Like you’re human, Igor." Cheryel marched over to the door to the kitchen and pushed it open.

The regular cook was out sick, and Igor had come to help out at the diner.

Jody put her hands on her hips and glared at the substitute cook. "I was very clear that anyone who works here has to be accepting of whatever form our customers take."

"As long as they aren’t a danger to the other customers. I clearly remember you saying that. Blood drinkers are a danger to the rest of us."

"No," Veronica stood glaring toward Igor. "We’re not!"

"You bit me," Table Seven insisted.

"If someone bit you, it wasn’t me." Veronica crossed her arms in front of her.

"I saw you!" Table Seven insisted.

"I saw her too," Shapeshifter said.

"You said I’d be safe here." Veronica turned her glare on Cheryel, whose heart dropped to her bellybutton with the weight of the guilt heaped onto it.

"She’s telling the truth."

They all turned to look at the couple in the back of the diner. "You did see what happened," Cheryel said.

"Of course we did." The woman smiled lovingly at the man. "Just because we come here for some time together—and the best pie in several dimensions—doesn’t mean we’re totally unaware of what’s going on around us."

The man, Cheryel could see now that he was a leprechaun, nodded. "I love my sweet fairy, but it’d be madness to ignore potential danger."

"Like blood drinkers," Igor said.

"No," the leprechaun said. "Like devious shapeshifters."

"A male to female shifter." Jody turned to the man and did some serious glaring. "I should have known."

He shrugged, then abruptly "he" became "she." At first "she" was a short blonde, but then she became tall and shapely, with long light brown hair. It wasn’t an exact likeness of Veronica, but close enough to pass if you weren’t looking too closely. And apparently nobody had—except the couple in the back.

"I suppose I owe you an apology," Table Seven said, his head down, eyes studying the floor.

"It was an honest mistake," Veronica said, then turned to the shapeshifter, who was a short blonde woman again. "You, on the other hand did what you did with evil in your heart."

The shifter smiled. "It was such a fun game."

"It was hardly a game," Jody told him. "And you are no longer welcome in my diner."


"Go." Then she turned to Igor. "And you’re fired."

"Figures." He pulled off his apron and tossed it on the counter, then stalked out the door.
"Thank you," Veronica said, to all of them.

"Everyone’s welcome here," Jody said. "Of course we don’t have a cook at the moment."

"Maybe I can help."

They turned to the fairy. "I make a decent meal," she said.

"She’s an excellent cook," the leprechaun told them. She’s even studied in Paris."
The fairy’s face went ruby red.

"Welcome to the diner," Jody told her.

The staff went back to work, and before long new customers came in and the place became business as usual. As she worked though, Cheryel couldn’t keep from thinking about another leprechaun, one she was very familiar with. As soon as the next shift came in, she took off in that horrid Celerian ship, for once not noticing the sound much. All she could think of was getting home to show her husband how much she appreciated him.

The End (at least for now)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Look at Alliteration A Cure for the Coming Winter Blues

Winter’s on her way in Wisconsin. The nights start sooner. Viruses cause throats to ache and noses to sniffle. The north wind blows a chill through my windows.

I feel a touch of sadness when I trudge across the cold, gray ground to pack straw around my roses and put them to bed for their seasonal sleep. I need something to lift my spirits.
Sometimes writing is fun in its own sake. Other times, you need something more. A technique in writing, alliteration, is fun and sometimes quite whimsical. It’s an almost guaranteed mood lightener.

My son, home today with the flu, and I have been playing with alliteration, the repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of the words in the same sentence or phrase. Alliteration is often sprinkled into the writings of great poets such as:

Henry W. Longfellow in his "The Wreck of Hesperus"
“Then up and spake an old sailor, Had sailed to the Spanish Main,I pray thee, put into yonder port, For I fear a hurricane."

And Robert Frost in “Acquainted With the Night”

"I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry came over houses from another street "

And Shel Silverstein in “Eight Balloons”
"Eight balloons no one was buyin' -They broke loose and away they flew,
Free to float and free to fly
And free to pop where they wanted to. "

But the Alliteration that tickles my son and I is the kind that ties your tongue in knots.

Here are 13 tongue twisters he and I have chosen to share.

1. Betty bought butter but the butter was bitter, so Betty bought better butter to make the bitter butter better.

2. The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick.

3. I saw Susie sitting in a shoe-shine shop.Where she sits she shines, and where she shines she sits.

4. Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
5. A good cook could cook as much cookies as a good cook who could cook cookies

6. Six thick thistle sticks. Six thick thistles stick.

7. A sailor went to sea
To see, what he could see.
And all he could see
Was sea, sea, sea.

8. Sister Suzie sewing shirts for soldiersSuch skill at sewing shirtsOur shy young sister Suzie showsSome soldiers send epistlesAnd say they'd rather sleep in thistlesThan the saucy, soft short-shirts for soldiers Sister Suzie sews

9. Never trouble about trouble until trouble troubles you!
10. Knapsack straps (say this several times)

11. Friendly Frank flips fine flapjacks

12. Moose noshing much mush (say this several times)

13. I wish to wish the wish you wish to wish,
But if you wish the wish the witch wishes,
I won't wish the wish you wish to wish.
We invite you to try some of these. I bet they’ll make you smile. Do you know some tongue twisters you’d like to share?

For more tongue twisters check out:,, (where my son and I found our favorites)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Club 100 for Writers

Since about January 2003, I've been a member of a secret club of successful writers.

Ok, so it's not that secret, it's just not that well known. I'm talking about Club 100 for Writers.

The brainchild of Avis Hester, a writer from Georgia, it’s based on the idea that it’s easy to write 100 words. Author Beth Pattillo ( runs the email group where you can keep track of your progress. Heck, you probably write thousands of words every day in emails, notes or memos without even thinking about it. So 100 words is nothing, is it? Ten minutes of your time. It will take more time for your computer to boot up than it will to write 100 words. In fact, I’ve already written more than 100 words just telling you about the program.

The way it works is you pledge to write 100 words a day for 100 consecutive days on your manuscript. If at any point, even on day 99, you fail to write 100 words, you have to start your day count over again. So the incentive to keep writing is not having to start over — that and the new pair of shoes or new reference book you’re going to buy yourself when you meet your goal.

Why is this different from other BICHOK (butt in chair, hands on keyboard) programs? First, 100 words a day really is easy. Really. It's not like NaNo, although NaNo (National Novel Writing Month, going on now!) is also wonderful. One of the most obvious, and fixable, things between aspiring novelists and publication is finishing the book. You sit down, prepared to put in a couple hours, and that blank screen — or that last scene — eats away your brain until you can’t even get started. Or you while away your time revising your first three chapters endlessly, like some kind of Promethean writer’s hell. Write your 100 words first then do whatever you want. It will only take you about 10 to 15 minutes. Chances are, once you get started, you’ll want to keep writing.

Second, 100 words a day isn’t intimidating. You aren’t telling yourself to sit for three hours without once checking your email. You aren’t telling yourself you have to finish this chapter or draft an entire 10-page synopsis (speaking of writer’s hell). You’re just saying that you’re going to write 100 words…which is about the length of the first paragraph in this article…and anything else is gravy. Since your goal for the day is so tiny, you’re very likely to achieve it, and everyone knows that achieving your goals leads to increased self confidence.

Third, if you manage to motor along with Club 100, keeping your gears greased makes the writing flow more smoothly. Those 100 words keep your plot and characters in the forefront of your brain, instead of in the back behind the pickles and the scary egg salad leftovers. So you think about your book more, both consciously and subconsciously, and when you sit down to write you’ve got more ammunition and more to say.

Will 100 words a day get your whole novel written? No, but the fact of the matter is, when you sit down each day the 100 words become easier and, on frequent occasions, turn into 500 words a day. 1,500. I managed a 6,700-word day recently when I thought I’d be lucky to get my 100. 6,7500 words! Now that’s the way to get your whole novel written. (Of course I was writing a 6,700 word short story, but you know what I mean.)

What they are saying about Club 100:

“Club 100 helped me finish the rough draft of my manuscript in record time. This concept has brought a consistency and discipline to my writing schedule that is paying off in increased output as well as improved quality.” — Susan Peck

“Every book is different, and my work in progress is moving slowly. I’m only writing a few hundred words a day. Club 100 helps me focus on consistency. And all those small totals really do add up!” — Ransom Schwerzler

“Club 100 has enabled me to get back in the groove of writing consistently. I've added 80 pages to my current WIP in the last month. Another benefit of the list is the encouragement one receives whether 100 or 1,000 words are written.” — Mary Varble

“Club 100 gets me to the computer on days when I'd rather go alphabetize my spice rack. By drastically lowering my expectations about how much I must write on a given day, I find it easier to begin. Once I'm over that hurdle, I'm usually fairly productive.” — Beth Pattillo

“Club 100 is a great way to keep you from falling into that trap of saying you’re too tired, too busy, too something to write. It helps prevent the common problem of having difficulty getting back to writing after being away from it for several days.” —Trish Milburn

Link to Club100:

Recommended for writer's block and writer's progress!

Jody W.
LIAM'S GOLD--Available now, Samhain Publishing

Monday, November 17, 2008

Writing Prompts and such

Okay, so for now we are closing the curtain on Chris, Donner, Vixen and Dash. I must say that I never suspected that out little prompt would prompt so...much! Now I'll be developing those characters into a YA novel in the near future.

As Bruce Springsteen wrote: From small things, Mama, big things one day come.

Sooo what did I learn from the experience?

1. I LUUUUV writing YA!
That was my first try and boiy was fun! I have 2 teenagers in my house and steal their novels on a regular basis so, I knew I liked reading it, but I actually LOVED writing it: the pace, the humor and the angst.

2. I am not a pantser but...
Things kept happening as I wrote the next installment. Characters shifted. Worldbuilding began...ACK! The words kept coming!

3. Cliffhangers rock.
I love leaving readers hanging. MWAHAHAHA!

4. The mind works in very strange ways.
I'm still not sure how I cobbled reindeer shifters, Will Ferrell and the Winter dance together, but that's the beauty of creation.

Write on!


Questions for an Agent

Since I’m about to begin the great agent search once again, I thought I’d share my list of questions I have prepared to ask the agent when I get the call *insert positive thinking here* and because the last time I got the call, I wasn’t prepared and babbled like an idiot.

About the Agent
  • How long have you been an agent?
  • How much longer do you intend to stay in the business?
  • Who else will be working on your behalf (secretaries, other agents, assistants, etc.)?
  • How many agents are there in the agency? Will they all have input regarding my ms?
  • Do you have in-house lawyers? Do you use outside counsel? Who pays for them to examine a contract? Under what conditions would the writer pay legal fees?
  • How many active clients does you have right now?
  • What other paranormal romance authors do you represent?
  • What recent houses have you sold to?
  • How many publishers - on average - will you send a book to before you give up?
  • What houses do you deal with most often (in my genre)? What editors do you submit to the most?
Agency contract
  • Do they have one?
  • Can I see it before agreeing?
  • Does your contract have an interminable clause? (with an interminable clause, if you sign with this agent, she will ALWAYS be entitled to 15% [or whatever percent you agree to] of your earnings on this book. Even if she doesn't sell it.)
  • Do you charge fees? (If yes, then run!)
  • What is your commission? (15% commission and 20% foreign are standard)
  • What do you cover and what do I cover, expense-wise? (copying and shipping for example.)
  • Do I get to approve or disapprove any expenses over, say, $200?
How Do You Work With Your Clients?
  • How much editing input do you do with your clients?
  • Do you see your role as hands-on editing/revision with each ms or do you lean more toward career guidance and go-between for editor & author?
  • What about subsequent books? Once a relationship is established with an editor do you want to review everything (proposals for option books, new ms) before they’re sent to the editor or do you leave the editing/revision of any future manuscripts up to the editor?
  • What is the protocol when you don't want to represent a particular ms, but would prefer another project instead? Who determines which proposals are submitted to publishers?
  • How often will I hear from you? (Once a week, once a month, only when necessary?) How? (email, phone?)
  • What do you expect from me as a client? Do you expect me to be writing a certain number of books a year?
  • Royalty statements: Do you send out the original statements from the publishers or copies?
This Book

  • When do you think you’ll start shopping this around?
  • Which editors do you have in mind?
  • Do you make multiple submissions?
  • Will you keep me up to date on what's going on with the ms? By phone? E-mail?
  • Will you pass on rejection letters or just paraphrase them to me?
And last but not least, say thank you, that you’ll think about their offer and call them back in a day or two. Then hang up and dance around the house like a maniac.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I recently did an article for the RWA eNotes on websites for writers of different genres. I wanted to share the links I found for paranormal writers with all of you who've come in for a piece of pie, a delicious dinner or a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate. Sit down and have a bite or drink before you begin your web surfing!

If you write paranormal fiction, you might find the following websites of use/interest : http://www.patricia, http://paranormalro, http://miladyinsani ty.wordpress. com/2006/ 04/17/how- to-write- paranormal- romance-101/, http://otherworlddi ner.blogspot. com/, http://www.virginia romancewriters. com/Links/ paranormallinks. html, http://www.bellaonl /492.asp, http://www.cs. mslee/ and http://paranormalro manceblog. wordpress. com/2008/ 02/08/new- writing-opportun ity-in-paranorma l-romance/.

If you have other sites you would recommend for writers of paranormal fiction, please feel free to email me at


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Do you have dreams? Hopes that you’d like to fulfill? Then you’ll enjoy these Thirteen Optimistic and Encouraging Quotes.

I’ve always been inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have A Dream speech. I thought about his speech a lot this fall because of my current work-in-progress and because of the November elections.

One thing I take away from Dr. King’s speech (and certainly not the only point I ponder) is that having dreams for the future is a choice. Hope is a choice.

It’s easy to turn on the evening news and feel depressed with financial uncertainty and lay-off worries, but we can choose to have hope.

This November, I find myself wanting to encourage others to press on and to believe they can reach their goals.

Do you have dreams? Ever doubt you’ll achieve them?

Here are 13 quotes to encourage you.

1. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. Henry David Thoreau

2. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Eleanor Roosevelt

3. Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly. Lanston Hughes
4. The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up. Paul Valery

5. There is nothing like a dream to create the future. Victor Hugo

6. You see things and say, 'Why?’, but I dream things and say, 'Why not? George Bernard Shaw

7. It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else. Erma Bombeck

8. Great hopes make great men. Thomas Fuller

9. If you can imagine it you can create it. If you can dream it, you can become it. William Arthur Ward

10. Within our dreams and aspirations we find our opportunities. Sue Atchley Ebaugh

11. There are only two ways to live your life. One as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. Albert Einstein

12. Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. Harriet Tubman

13. Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake. Henry David Thoreau

What are some of your dreams? What inspires you? Please share.

Monday, November 10, 2008

When Procrastination Is a Good Thing

As Francesca mentioned in her post on Saturday, procrastination is the bane of many a writer’s existence. I’m probably the poster child for the affliction. When the muse is not in the mood to be creative just about anything is more appealing that sitting at the computer, writing crap--spider solitaire, grocery shopping, or--gag--cleaning my house. Like Francesca, I need a real deadline (self-imposed ones don’t work for me either) to kick my butt in gear.

I blame procrastination for why I lost my agent. I signed with him in the spring of 2005 and though we got lots of positive response on my book, there were no takers (mainly because it’s set partly during WWII). So he said, “What else have you got?” Well, I had the awful first book every writer has that shall never see the light of day and another I’d started but was only about 4 chapters into. I sent a partial of the new book to him, he liked it and said to send the ms to him when I’d finished it. No deadline. No pressure. You know how they say ‘if you give an inch, they’ll take a mile'? Well, give me a month and I’ll take a month. Give me a year and I’ll take a year. Give me no deadline and I’ll take forever. Needless to say, it was 2 years before I got him that next book. While he liked it well enough, who wants client who takes so long to finish each book, so we parted ways and I don’t blame him. It was my fault. I screwed up.

Fast forward to this week. In true Lori-procrastinating form, I’m doing something other than revising/editing down my manuscript before starting the great agent hunt all over again. Oh, I can claim it’s writing-related, but it’s still procrastinating and non-productive for the book…or so I thought. You see, since I’ve never made it to RWA Nationals, I was listening to the 2007 conference CDs that my local chapter owns. In particular, I was listening to the Publisher Spotlights. To be specific, I was listening to the editors speak from the one publisher who came very, very close to buying my last book in the fall of 2005. Then came THE moment. A person from the audience asked if they were taking books set in WWII. The editorial director answered that they don’t get many submissions in that era although that editor X (the very same editor my agent had sent my book to) had received one that they all fell in love with AND THEN SHE DESCRIBED MY BOOK! I about had a heart attack. OK, so she didn’t mention my name or the title, but what were the odds of them getting 2 books so similar? I even sent the sound bite to my critique partners to see what they thought and they all said it sounded like she was talking about my book. As incredible as it seems, even though they didn't buy it the editors still remembered my book after 2 years. Or at least I think so. Needless to say, the mere possibility has lit a bonfire under my bahookie. As soon as I’m done with this blog post, I’m doing nothing for the next week but work on edits so I can send editor X my latest manuscript. If I’m not completely delusional about what I heard on the conference CD, she’ll remember me and hopefully like this book as much as the last one and buy it. And if not, at least it will have jump started my writing again so I can put this one behind me (and get it out making the agent rounds) and get on with the next book in the series.

So who says procrastination is a bad thing? Sometimes, it might be just what you need.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ghostly Observances

As you notice, I tend to ramble occasionally about whatever happens to come to mind. Sundays are usually kind of slow, so it gives me plenty of time to write or surf the web or bake...I do love to bake. We've got some great brownies in the back - don't forget to ask your waitress for one. And remember to request the whipped cream on top - yummy!

Anyway, I was sitting back here in my booth and I noticed some shadows crawling across the outer wall near the front window. When they noticed me, one or two took shape and I realized they were former denizens of this land on which the diner was built. One, a narrow shade named Eliza, waited on this very spot for her lover to return from the Revolutionary War. She waited and waited, refusing to eat or drink, and wasted away for love. The letter telling her of his death never reached her, and I can only guess she's still searching for him, yearning to be reunited with the lonely soldier who won her heart.

The other one, a portly gentleman by the name of Henri', the French pronunciation, traveled here from far away, to be a chef to the wealthy and famous. He became known for his pastries and cookies, and tender, moist turkeys and roasts, but most of all for his liquers. He made his own from local fruits and flowers, but it was his magic that made them special. Raspberry liquor to bring back a lost love, citrus to strengthen an ailing body and pansy wine to counter ill wishes from others, all these potions huddled on his iron shelves. All disappeared the day he died, and no one knows where they went. I recently found some of his recipes, even the words uttered as the pot is being stirred. We'll see what happens.

In the meantime, be writing down your magic. It's what the world needs today.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Writers and deadlines

Writers often have a love/hate relationship with deadlines. At least this writer does. I apologize for missing my post last weekend (11/1) but I was under deadline from my editor at Ellora's Cave. She'd sent me version one of my soon to be published novel, Protect and Defend and she wanted version two back from me by Monday.

I am proud to say I met my deadline, but I was a bit nervous about the whole thing. Before I received it, I didn't know if there would be a lot to do or just a little. Whether I'd have to remove X amount of words or if I just needed to clean things up a bit. Luckily for me, the answer was the latter.

During the editing process I discovered I loved semi-colons far too much. I use "got" as a verb too often. I misuse both "like" and "that" so I had to make corrections. I'm developing a list of things I need to review as I work on novels and what I need to check on the novel I have finished.

Now to the love/hate part. I have to admit, I often write much better under deadline. I can be pithier (is that a word?) and funnier. This presents a problem when I'm working on a novel and have no deadline for completion. Things just drag on forever. Even self-imposed deadlines don't work well.

My biggest problem is that I have a history of procrastinating. I figure, oh, I'll get to it. Then the night before something is due to an outside party, I know it must be done so I pull an all-nighter. This was my usual pattern when I was in graduate school. The only papers I didn't do write at the last minute were my comps. Other papers whether they were five pages or twenty pages were written in a long dark night.

The good news is that when I received the edits from my EC editor, I started them right away. I didn't finish until the weekend but I completed my first round edits well before Monday and returned them to my editor straight away. I hope this is a trend for me. I hope age and wisdom has trumped youth and procrastination. I'll keep you posted though.

In the meantime...just keep writing!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Meanwhile, Back at the Diner…

Cheryel was irritable. Flying a Celerian ship to work was a literal pain. Jarringly rough flights paired with that horrible whistling and roaring from the engine’s water drive was enough to give anyone a serious headache. Which actually might explain why Celerian’s were so dang irritating.

The jangle of the bell over the door only increased the throbbing in her head, as did the sight that walked in. The woman was tall, thin, shapely, and had light brown hair that hung to her waist in well-behaved waves. The potential customer stopped just inside the diner, looking around as if she wasn’t sure she wanted to be there.

Sighing, Cheryel tucked her jealousy into the pocket of her uniform and took her short, slightly-too-curvy body over to the indecisive woman. "May I help you?"

"This is a safe place, right? For everybody?"

It was then that Cheryel caught the slightly metallic odor coming from the woman and realized the reason for the hesitation. "Absolutely. The Otherworld Diner is a place where everyone is welcome. There’s a table over here." She leaned closer to the woman. "Don’t worry, the windows are coated. You won’t be harmed by the sunlight."

"How did you know?" The customer asked as she slid into the seat.

"I work here. After a while, you learn what to look for. My name’s Cheryel, by the way." She indicated her nametag.

"I’m Veronica." She looked into Cheryel’s eyes. "So you’ve met others like me?"

"Yeah. Not many, but we get some of just about every type of being in here."

"I’d heard about this place for years, but never well…"

Cheryel chuckled. "You had to get up the nerve. It’s okay. Believe me, I understand."

Veronica tipped her head to one side as she frowned. "You don’t seem quite human. But I’m at a loss as to what your genetic heritage might be."

Cheryel just smiled. "You’d be surprised. Now, can I get you a salad, maybe?"

"I’d like that. And some unsweetened tea."

"I’ll get right on it." she turned and headed toward the counter at the back of the diner.

Jody intercepted her there. "Would you believe there’s a shifter at table four? And he had the nerve to tell me I was weird."

"Shifter’s aren’t so strange."

Jody leaned closer. "He’s a human/human shifter."

Cheryel handed the order slip to the cook in the back before she turned back to her friend and coworker. "A what?"

"He shifts from male to female."

"That is odd."

"So, what is she?" Jody’s gaze moved briefly toward Veronica.


Jody’s eyes widened. "Are you serious?"

"Absolutely. I never joke about blood drinkers."

Jody swallowed hard. "Are you sure we’re safe."

"Yes. But then, vampires can cloud your judgment."

"Thanks. That makes me feel much better."

A howl came from table seven. "She bit me!"

"Oh great!" Jody said. "And it’s only twenty minutes until my shift ends.

To be continued…

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

13 Encouragements to Ponder During National Novel Writing Month

It’s November, which for many of us means it’s … National Novel Writing Month.
Exactly what is National Novel Writing Month? “It’s a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing at the start of November with the goal of writing a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, Nov. 30.” That’s roughly 1, 667 words daily, about 6 to 7 pages a day.

Writing that many words is challenging, even exhilarating, but, at the same time, for people like me, daunting.

There are lots of reasons not to attempt National Novel Writing Month. I play them in my head even as I type my manuscript, but I also have solutions.

Maybe you’re of the same mind and that little voice of doubt nags in your head. With some helpful advice from Chris Baty’s book No Plot, No Problem let’s tackle those concerns.
Chris, incidentally, is the founder of National Novel Writing Month.

1. I don’t know how to begin. I don’t have it all planned out. That’s OK. Sit down at the keyboard and type. "It’s fine just to start.” Footnote: “Making it up as you go along does NOT require you to be a gifted novelist.”

2. I don’t know what I need to start. “What you need to write a novel, of course, is a deadline.”

3. How will a deadline help? “In the artistic realms, deadlines do much more than just get projects finished. They serve as creative midwives, as enthusiastic shepherds adept at plucking the timid inspirations that lurk in the wings of our imaginations and flinging them bodily into the bright light of day.”

4. Is the arduous journey worth the time and effort? "In the 30 or 31 days you spend under (the deadline’s “taskmastering” thumb, “you’ll discover wild, wonderful parts of yourself and tap into exciting realms of aptitude and achievement you didn’t know existed.”

5. How will people react? “You’ll fly and soar and laugh and sing, and [yes] the people who love you will likely worry you’ve gone crazy.”

6. Oh, no! “Well, actually, that’s OK. The insanity only lasts a month, just long enough to get ‘Write a Novel’ checked off your to-do list.”

7. But I’m not sure I can write all that well, especially when I’m just getting my ideas down. “There is no pressure on you to write a brilliant first draft. No one ever writes a brilliant first draft.”

8. What are the special perils? “The first law of exuberant imperfection is essentially this: The quickest, easiest way to produce something beautiful and lasting is to risk making something horribly crappy.”

9. One reason NOT to try National Novel Writing Month is I’m busy and writing a novel takes a lot of time. It does, but what I’m planning is to discover what 1-2 hours a day for a month [can produce]. If I look at my daily routine, I probably can find activities I can forego for a while. And Chris Baty adds, “When I’m writing a novel, I stop Internet surfing entirely, limit my leisure reading, and spend much less weeknight time with (non-noveling) friends. Other writers use the opportunity to pare back conversations with their in-laws and stop doing yard work.” The point: These suggestions should work for you, too.

10. But what about the people I live with? Will they be able to do without me while I’m off creating this masterpiece? “It’s not so much that you’ll be totally absent for one month as it is that you’ll be exceptionally present for the other 11.”

11. But I like to be around others and I want to have some fun even if I’m working on a novel. Answer: If you’re feeling alone, try writing with buddies. “Writing with a partner (or three or four) helps all parties tap into the pool of competitive energy that forms when several people are working toward the same goal.”

12. Does the ‘team approach’ really work? Yes, indeed. “When ‘noveling’ with someone else, you have a pacer, a motivator and a sympathetic ear for sharing the triumphs and tragedies of your novel. It’s more productive and a lot more fun.”

13. But what if I don’t have a plot for my novel? “If you spend enough time with your characters, plot simply happens. This makes your novel writing, in essence, a literary trapeze act, one where you have to blindly trust that your imagination and intuition will catch you and fling you onward at each stage of your high-flying journey.”

Chris’ advice helps me keep turning out pages. How about you? What thoughts inspire you to keep writing, blogging or taking part in National Novel Writing Month? Please share with us.

To find out more about National Novel Writing Month go to and to get further encouragement and advice about the month pick up a copy of No Plot, No Problem.

Harry's Tea Room, Part 4

Continued from Part 3


“I’m not Sandie,” said the woman. “Are you Harry?”

“Of course I’m Harry.” He approached her cautiously, a little concerned about her mental state. In the years he’d known her, Miss Sandie had shown zero signs of dementia. She was far too young, and one of the most earthy, pragmatic humans he’d ever known.

Why in the world was she pretending she wasn’t herself, not to mention driving that ridiculous smart car? “And of course you’re Miss Sandie. We just saw each other this afternoon at the tea room.”

“I’m not Miss Sandie,” she repeated.

She looked like Miss Sandie, all pink and white and girly. Her eyes were the same blue, and her curly hair was the same blonde. Her voice was the same mishmash of West Virginia and the gracious drawl of the deep South.

Harry reached out to check her temperature, but she ducked. “Miss Sandie, are you feeling all right? Would you like me to take you back to town?”

“I’m perfectly fine,” said the young woman in a snappish voice. “Sandie is my mother.”

“There’s no way.” Miss Sandie didn’t have children, and she wasn’t old enough to have grown ones.

Harry stalked right up to the intruder and stared at her face, careful his pupils didn’t wolf out as he soaked in her details. Her skin, even around the eyes, was unlined. Fresh as a dewy peach in the mid-afternoon sun. Her lips were as plump as a peach, too. Her eyebrows feathered up like she was surprised by something, but she didn’t seem to be. That was just how the hairs grew.

She was a ringer for Miss Sandie from afar, but not from anear. In addition to the peachy skin and feathery brows, she was curvier than her mother, who was thinner than anyone who could cook like an angel had any right to be. Her hair was shorter, and she was taller. Her face was rounder. Her nose had a bit of a scrunch to it that...

No, she was scrunching her nose. “Oh brother,” she groaned. “Mother didn’t warn me you were slow. This is going to be harder than I thought.”

Leaning forward, Harry whuffed in her scent. Baking bread, fruit tea and a little bit of... What was that?

“Excuse me!” She hopped backwards with a little exclamation, holding her purse between them like a shield. Harry advanced, she retreated, until she bumped into her smart car. Because it was so ridiculously small, the impact shook the vehicle.

“You’re excused.” He whuffed again now that she couldn’t escape and finally put his finger on it. Amber. Miss Sandie didn’t smell like amber, but this woman did. That’s why he hadn’t recognized the scent mark on his property.

Harry scratched behind his ear. “Are you sure you aren’t Miss Sandie’s twin sister?” Twins often smelled as similar as Miss Sandie and this woman.

“Mother would love to hear you say that, but no.” Miss Sandie’s daughter opened her big, shiny purse, pulled out a pair of rubber gloves, and snapped them onto her hands. Then she extended one for a shake. “My name is June. Nice to finally meet you.”

Harry eyeballed the glove on her hand a moment before shrugging and accepting her greeting. Since she was Miss Sandie’s daughter, he’d cut her some slack. Humans didn’t have shifter constitutions, and as a result, some of them got freaky about germs. With good reason. Poor things were always coming down with some bug or another.

She had a grip as firm as her mother’s and pumped his hand decisively before dropping it.

“Nice to meet you, too,” Harry said, his curiosity aroused. “I didn’t know Miss Sandie had children. Is there a Mr. Sandie I should know about?” He’d not seen any sign of a man around Miss Sandie’s tea room, and he’d not smelled any traces of a man on her in all the years he’d known her. But he’d never been to her house, and her car had been as whistle-clean as the diner’s front counter.

“No.” June said. “My father died a long time ago.”

“I’m sorry,” Harry said contritely.

Luckily June didn’t seem upset. But she was very pretty, and if she could cook like her mother, she was someone worth cultivating--for several reasons. “Is there a Mr. June?”

She blinked up at him with a crinkle between her pale eyebrows. “What difference does that make?”

“Just checking.” Harry rocked back on his heels. “So tell me, June, why were you poking your nose all over my property?”

“I didn’t think you’d mind,” June said, “since I was looking for stuff to help you.”

“Help me?” Harry glanced at her car, then back at her. “I figured your mother sent you here so I could help you.”

“Why would I need your help?”

“Obviously to pick out a decent car.”

She tightened her lips. “My car is the least of your worries.”

“Computer trouble?” Harry guessed. Despite her charms, he needed to get rid of June before three p.m., so he’d have to make an appointment.

“I don’t use a computer.” June opened her pocketbook again--really, it was more of a suitcase than a purse--and withdrew two freshly cut prongs of cedar. It looked suspiciously like it had been clipped from the white cedar tree near the back of his property.

“If you don’t need help with your car or your computer, what are you doing here?” Harry asked.

It was possible Miss Sandie intended to set them up. That was awfully nice of her, but today wasn’t a fantastic time for Harry to strike up a romance. Bianca, Gert, Violet and who knew what other shifters were due here in less than an hour, and Harry hadn’t decided how he was going to deal with them.

“I’m here because Mother tells me you have a little pack problem,” June said, “and she wants me to help you solve it.”


Just a head's up -- if you're enjoying my story, you might also enjoy my new release from Samhain Publishing entitled Liam's Gold, in which a rascally leprechaun finds out the girl of his dreams has been masquerading as his best friend. (Bonus points if you know where I stole that line!)

Link to Liam:

Jody W.
LIAM'S GOLD--Available now, Samhain Publishing

Monday, November 3, 2008

Blood and Spirits: Writing Prompts -- What Did They Do For Me?

For the past few weeks, the gals here at the diner have been doing a little experiment. We’ve taken the same writing prompt:

A paranormal customer finds out the Diner where he or she likes to eat because it's supposed to be a secret paranormal sanctuary is NOT secret or safe.
and each of us have run with it in a different direction. The results have been very interesting!

So, what did the exercise do for me? Well, for starters, it showed me I’m not the most creative person to write by the seat of my pants on a Monday morning. You wouldn’t know it by the chaos of my house, but I’m a very organized writer. Yep, I’m one of those dreaded plotters. I tend to see my whole story as a movie in my head first and lay everything out in a spreadsheet, chapter by chapter, scene by scene--complete with major plot points, love scenes and the Black Moment--before I write the first word. So sitting down to write a story and not knowing where it’s going from scene to scene has been a challenge for me.

What didn’t surprise me:
I already knew from my normal writing habits that I’m a dialogue and action gal at heart. My first drafts tend to have a lot of talking heads and movement, but little to no description, setting or internal emotion. Those are things I go back and layer in during the 2nd and 3rd drafts. If you look at the Blood and Spirits installments, you can see they’re pretty bare bones for the most part. That’s what my 1st drafts tend to look like.

What did surprise me:
Part of what I do as a writer is to incorporate repetition of themes, symbols, and imagery in my stories. As with description and setting, these things usually don’t fall into place until my 2nd draft. Let me tell ya, I had no clue where I was going with the wine vamp thing in Part 2. That idea came out of nowhere. So I was surprised in Part 3 when the Keith Richards/Let It Bleed Tour thing popped into my head (you can thank my old college roommate who practically worshipped the Rolling Stones for that bit of inspiration). It worked into the story so seamlessly and perfectly, you would have thought I’d planned it from the beginning. Nope, it was just blind luck…or maybe my muse was being especially helpful that day. Who knows? But it’s moments of pure gold like that that make writing so much fun for me.

Anyway, this has been an interesting exercise but I think Blood and Spirits has run its course. It’ll be fun to see how long some of the others can keep their stories going.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

All Souls Day

All Souls Day follows All Hallows Eve or Halloween, a night when we mask our faces to keep our souls safe from those spirits who walk among us. This day, a pagan remembrance and later Christian observance, is said to be for the intercession of souls in purgatory and also for family members to set out food and drink for those loved ones who have died.

The Diner is quiet today, but we have our own observances for All Souls Day and those who walk freely among us. Traditionally, small cakes are left on tables and doorsteps as nourishment for the souls who need food, but we've also laid in some extra salt and a bit of holy water, to keep evil from our popular establishment.

Our small cakes are almond, still warm, and with the day waning, the pleasant smell has seeped into the corners of our little diner and the patrons have enjoyed the extra sweet at the end of their meal. And we've had some pleasant visitors, although my sister didn't get to see Elvis, but he's probably out somewhere else looking for peanut butter! I plan on making cookies tomorrow, everything from chocolate chip to peanut butter kisses, so who knows.... maybe he'll show up later!

It's been a mellow day, and we've spent time remembering and sharing stories and listening to music that reminds us of the past. Let me see... I think my favorite was "Back in Black" by AC/DC! I know it always gets me moving, and the dancing may go on until closing. What was your favorite song to bring back memories??

Also, Francesca, Talia and Brenda ND, please email me at so I can get you that pumpkin bread recipe :) I have the recipe for the almond cakes, as well, if you want that!

Tomorrow is Monday...and it will be back to writing!