Friday, January 29, 2010

The Voice of "The Victor"

God has the coolest way of timing things out and bringing things together for me. I recently read The Victor by Marlayne Giron. I enjoyed it very much, and told her I would be reviewing it, but that I wanted to let my last post sit for a day or two. Something told me to wait until Friday.

Well, now I know why.

Last night, I spoke at a local writers group meeting. One of the ladies approached me after the meeting and told me that something I said had really hit home with her. I'd mentioned that when receiving critiques a writer needs to recognize the difference between correction and style change. We all have a unique voice, or writing style. It can be very hard to not impose our voice on someone else's work. So, we must all measure carefully other writers' suggestions and ask, "Is this change needed to clarify? To correct structurally or grammatically? Or is it just the other writer rewriting my sentence the way she would have worded it?"

The reason this goes along with my review of The Victor is that what stood out the most to me about this book was Marlayne's voice. The story takes place in the land of Ellioth, which is a land flavored with the taste of Medieval Times. Everything about Marlayne's writing reflects this--not just the dress and appearance of the characters, not just dialog, not just references to culture and way of life. The sentence structure, the poetic wording, the tone of her writing had me immersed!

There is nothing outlandishly new about the plot--it's classic good vs. evil, classic allegory. The good King Elloth banishes evil Baron Lucius, who decides to exact his revenge through Elloth's people. But this matters not, dear reader! For books are not here to impress us with novelties (such as sparkly vampires), they are here to transport us from our drab and dreary lives to worlds of adventure and peril, to lands unknown, to places of beauty where we can be the hero, the princess, the knight with sword blazing....

The Victor is an authentic book, with classic appeal. Just look at the cover:

What you see there is what you see inside--classic, romantic, with the occasional clash of steel.

If you want a book that is not grasping at trends, that will charm your heart, then reach for The Victor. You can purchase it through Amazon in trade paperback or Kindle edition. And you can learn more about Marlayne by visiting her site.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

There is no such thing as coincidence

First, I want to thank everyone for "celebrating" my five-year milestone! It's awesome to have everyone cheering me on. That's what got me through my treatment, of course. I couldn't have done it without the support of all the incredible people God has put in my life :).

God worked some amazing things through my cancer experience, and continues to do so now. Something beyond coincidence happened yesterday. On the exact date of my five-year "cancer free" anniversary, I received my copies of The Ultimate Christian Living--an anthology in which you will find TWO of my personal stories.

Both stories are about my cancer journey. One is about an answered prayer during a really tough time in my treatment, when I wasn't sure I could handle the side effects anymore. The other story tells what I learned after the fact, and how my diagnosis and treatment were in many ways a huge blessing.

If you're interested in reading my experiences, along with many, many other inspiring stories, check out or Amazon.

This book would make a great gift for someone going through a tough time, or anyone trying to keep their faith strong. And, uh, Mother's Day isn't so far off either ;).

(OK, so I posted this a few hours ago and just realized I forgot to mention--the official release date of the book is not until March 1st! But you can pre-order!)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Celebrate with me!

Unfortunately, I have to start this post with the bad in order for you to understand the good. I've mentioned before that I'm a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed October 23rd, 2004. On January 25th, I completed my treatment. Take a look at that date folks--it's significant. In case you're calendar-challenged, that's exactly, exactly, five years ago.

Yes, as of today, January 25th, 2010, I have officially spent five years CANCER FREE! Which means, I am cured, cured, cured, cured...

So celebrate with me!!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Toe Slam

It seems that God must sometimes slam your toes in the door when He shuts it. At least if you're as strong-willed as me and my husband.

We just learned this through our "attempt" to move to North Carolina. We truly believed this was God's will for us when we started this venture. Moving is something we've wanted for a while now, and we've tried multiple times. Always, we would ask God if this open door was the one we should step through. We would also ask that the door be closed if it was not. And every time, it closed before we took any action.

We waited, and prayed, and hoped the time would come soon.

And then this opportunity. I won't give any details other than it was supposed to be a transfer within my husband's company. As usual, we prayed before making any decisions. The door stayed open. We took a trip up and even put our house on the market--got our toes through that open door. And then a few snags. And a few more as the door began to swing. We realized we'd better get our toes out of the way before the door slammed shut with us on the wrong side of it.

I am disappointed. North Carolina is beautiful. But there must be something meant for us here. At least for a while. It took a lot to get that message across to us. Our hearts yearn for another place--a place with hills, seasons, snow--and with each closed door we thought it was just not time yet. And that may be true; there may be a move in our future eventually. But not now. No more trying to slip through the door for a while. We get the message, toes bruised but, thank God, intact.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Grim Circumstances

Not in my life right now, fortunately. But maybe for the character in my latest short story, "A Day Better Spent." Check it out in The Absent Willow Review!

Don't forget to tell me what you think :). It may be your only chance....


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

little bits

Just to mention a few upcoming things...

My story "A Day Better Spent" will be in The Absent Willow Review in a couple of days! I'll post the link as soon as it's up.

Also, the anthology I'm going to be in, which comes out June 2010, has cover art now! And I think it's pretty cool--check it out:

My story in The Four Horsemen is called "Clay's Fire." More info on that as I get it as well.

I'm nervously awaiting responses on several other short story submissions. A couple of places I know will be responding within the next few weeks. Getting close to answers on stories always gives me butterflies...

(You know, it's amazing how you can find a picture of just about anything online...)

That's it for now, I think. Hopefully lots more to come :).

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Miscellaneous mental wanderings

It's Saturday morning.

Thought number one:
It's flippin' cold outside! Yep, folks, it does get cold here in "sunny" Florida (never did understand that nickname), and it seeps into your bones because of the wicked humidity.

Thought number two:
I spent some time plotting out a novel I started a few months ago. It's completely unrelated to Finding Angel, and I'm hoping to have it finished in six months when a certain unnamed publisher reopens for submissions.

Thought number three:
I also spent time plotting out a short story based on a character from Finding Angel. It is taking on a life of its own, however, growing at an astounding rate. I think...rather than a short story, I may have a prequel to Finding Angel on my hands. Gotta finish books two and three!

Thought number four:
My short story, "A Day Better Spent" will be out in The Absent Willow Review one week from today! I will, of course, post the link when it comes out.

Thought number five:
An anthology I submitted to is closing one week from today. I've been told I'm on the "potential shortlist list" at this point. I'm SO praying I stay in the running to the end! I REALLY want to be in this antho!!

Thought number six:
I've been searching for small presses to submit Finding Angel to. I've been pondering the "to agent or not to agent" debate for a while (as I send one query after another to them). I thought about writing a whole post on this topic alone, but I'm afraid my frustration will reign supreme at this time, and I don't want to come off snarky ;). But I was led to this post on the role of agents and have been thinking lately how much sense it makes.

Thought number six:
The other side of the coin--searching for legitimate small presses, who actually take my genre, who are actually open for a time consuming and frustrating process as well.

Thought number seven:
I'm supposed to be posting about marketing, aren't I? Well, I'll delve more into the details of marketing the anthology that releases in March when I get contributor purchasing info next month. For now, I'm working on my "platform" by speaking at a writers group (local branch of ACW) in a couple of weeks. The leader of the group is Ruth Ellinger, author of Wild Rose of Lancaster, Wild Rose of Promise, and the soon-to-release Sword of the Wild Rose. She has asked me to speak on the topic of getting personal experience stories into magazines and anthologies. I am honored, excited, and a bit nervous :).

And here's the wandering part...

Thought number eight:
I have some odd "credits" that I don't know whether or not to mention in query letters and such. I've participated in judging a writing contest. Not a "real judge" but a preliminary judge who critiqued submissions to narrow down the pickin's for the agents and publishers who made the final selections. And as I just mentioned, I'm now starting to actually formally present on writing topics. I've also got a great critique of my first chapter of Finding Angel from an editor at a major publishing house, which I received at the last conference I attended. Do I use this information? Can I use her name without asking her since I have her comments in writing? Do I bug her and ask her permission? And how the heck do I put all this kind of stuff in a query letter and still have room for a synopsis of the story?

OK, I suppose I should stop here. Your eyes are probably rolling back in your head right now--but thanks for stickin' with me through the whole post!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Marketing snag #1

As per my last post, I'm updating you on the latest regarding my marketing plans. I will have stories in two anthologies that release soon--one in February and one in March. They are both inspirational anthologies that would make great Mother's Day gifts.

Here's how it was planned out in my head:

1--Buy several of each book directly from the publisher. Most publishers offer great discounts to their authors, who can then turn around and sell the books for a profit.

2--Check out places locally where I can sell the books, individually, or as a two-for-a-discount deal. Places like churches, writers groups, and independently-owned shops.

3--Hit up every person I know--friend or foe, or that murky place in-between called family--to buy copies for themselves or as gifts.

4--I had even considered offering them online. That may be a bigger step than I am ready to take at this point. But it's not out of the running. The biggest hitch is shipping costs.

5--Post EVERYWHERE I can to get the word out. Facebook, my blog, your blog, websites I have yet to discover...

There are other ideas swirling around my brain, but these are the main ones.

Now for the snag: I can't purchase copies at a discount for one of the anthos! I'm not upset--that particular one was compiled for the sole purpose of donating all profits to charity, so I understand. But that means I can't use them as part of my marketing because I have to pay full price.

I will, of course, post the link everywhere possible to encourage sales directly through the organization that is putting out the antho. But my plans of selling that one locally are out the window, and no two-for deals :(.

In a way, this is good. I need to take this step by step.

Pondering my next post...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Gotta get the word out.

There is a side of writing that I haven't talked about much, because honestly it is foreign water to me. It's called marketing.

When I started writing, just over two years ago, I was under the impression that I would write, send my manuscript to a few publishers and agents, get a contract, and the publisher would sell my book. I'd sit back, keep writing, maybe hit a few book signings here and there. Well...what can I say? The bubble burst quick.

I now know that a huge part of writing is making a name for yourself. I didn't get a book publishing deal right away, and turned to other ways of getting my foot in the door. I wrote a short story (which was published in The Absent Willow Review where it won the Editor's Choice award), and I now have a string of fiction pieces in online magazines. I dug into my personal life and forged several experience stories into devotionals and articles for Sunday School magazines.

My publishing credits are growing, and that is a good thing. And recently, I've taken another step--getting into print anthologies.

This is a turning point for me. I will soon have stories bound within physical books. Books that I can direct people to buy. Books that I can buy from the publisher myself and sell. This opens up a whole new world!

I'm hoping you'll travel this journey with me. I want to share my ideas, successes and failures with you. Maybe you'll give me some great ideas for getting the word out about my anthologies. Maybe you'll even buy one (or two, or three...) from me :). It's going to be an adventure, and a learning experience for me, and maybe for you, too.

Anyway, here are the stats on the anthologies so far:

--One personal experience story, which I infused with a bit of fantasy, will be in Grandmother's Necklace in February 2010.

--Two personal experience stories will be in The Ultimate Christian Living in March 2010.

--A short horror piece will be in The Four Horsemen: An Anthology of Conquest, War, Famine and Death by Pill Hill Press in June 2010.

--And there's always Vampyr Verse, that's already out--a snarky little limerick of mine is in there.

--I'm on the "potential short-list list" of another anthology, the name of which I won't mention here in case I don't make the next level (oh, please, oh, please....). But I will say that it releases in April or May.

--Last but not least, I'll have one, maybe two, personal experience stories in Women of the Secret Place, a devotional for women that will be released in June 2010. we go :).