This is editing using the skittles method – all your crutch and lazy words are assigned a color. The goal? to have nothing but black ink on the page, no other highlighted colors.
The things writers have to go thru!
I know we’ve all heard that saying, and most have us have probably quoted it a time or three. But the underlying meaning is true: I’ve been really struggling for some time and am finally able to give voice to it.
It started last year when I had a bit of mini-breakdown. Several personal things were happening to me all at once and in the span of one week I was responsible for so many things that I simply couldn’t function, so I stopped; functioning. I didn’t talk, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t write. ( I did eat, tho, so once again losing weight wasn’t something I was struggling with – because I wasn’t!! Losing weight, I mean!)
The situations, slowly, resolved, and I thought I was back on top of my game again.
Yeah, not so much as it turns out.
For the past two months I’ve been struggling with wanting to continue on my writing journey. Despite several efforts and the best intentions on my part, I still haven’t been able to find an agent who would want to take me on as a client. You’d think 15 books published traditionally would count for something. Apparently, not.
One of my publishers dropped me, and the editor I thought I had a really good relationship with won’t return my emails. Any of them. I even emailed her assistant who assured me she’d let the editor know I wanted to “speak” to her. Nothing.
I write in such a glutted market – contemporary romance – and trying to garner any kind of attention means I spend hours daily on social media, talking up my books and trying to make connections with readers. It’s exhausting – mentally, physically, spiritually. And let’s not forget financially. All my marketing, despite being traditionally published, is arranged for and paid by me. And as my mother used to tell me, money doesn’t grow on trees. I know that saying is true because I live in the woods and my diminishing funds aren’t being replaced by leaf currency.
The kicker came when the RITA finalists were announced last week. I submitted three books from last year that I wrote, one of which I really thought I had a shot at finaling with because it’s gotten nothing but 5 star reviews – most from people who don’t know me personally, either. Alas, March 21 came and went and I received no phone call. Now I know what everyone says when you don’t get the call: it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer or the book wasn’t good. It simply means 5 judges thought other books were better.
Yeah, you know what? That doesn’t make me feel any better.
I’ve always surmised the RITAS were a bit of a popularity contest, and this year I KNOW they are. Combined with the utter lack of diversity in the finalists – an egregious act – and I’m seriously considering whether the award really means anything at all anymore. I read two absolutely wonderful books that featured h/h as people of color (POC). I graded them sososososo high, too. Know what? Neither of them finaled. I rated one truly horrible book ( so many misplaced modifiers, spelling and tense mistakes) low and know what? It finaled. After finding out about how un-diverse the awards are, I stopped feeling sorry for myself about not finaling. Some amazeballs POC writers have never been given the honor of finaling or winner either, so who am I to have a pity party??!!
But as far as entering in the future, I give up. Truly.
I’m trying to chalk up this feeling of inadequacy and apathy to a passing funk, seasonal affect disorder, and not having a vacation away in years. I’m trying really hard, as it happens.
Maybe I’ll come out of this stronger and more determined than ever.
That’s the hope anyway.
I didn’t write this as a subtle means of begging for positive reinforcement, or a way of garnering sympathy in the hopes people will buy my books. I may craft for a hobby, but believe me, I’m not crafty that way.
I simply wanted to put my thoughts and feelings down on paper and try and make some sense of why I’m feeling down in the dumps, writing-wise when so many other wonderful things ARE happening for me in my new career. I’ve finaled and even won other contests this year; I’m about to sign with a new publishing company ( more on that later!) and I recently was offered contracts for two books I’ve submitted to my first publisher.
So, life really is good, career-wise for me. I have to chalk this feeling of worthlessness and crabbiness up to winter.
I blame everything else that happens to me on the weather, so why not this, too? heehee
Any hoo…thanks for listening.
November 1st is a mere two days away and the month kinda snuck up on me this year. I’ve been so busy with all my upcoming releases this month and next, I haven’t done any NANOWRIMO prep yet.
Now, I know you’re thinking that NANOWRIMO is supposed to be a spontaneous writing exercise, where you sit down every day in November and simply write – no editing, no going over what you have written, no correcting any mistakes. Just a month of free-writing your newest book. And it is, just that, for the most part. But I’ve typically done some kind of prep for the month either in planning out where I want the story to ultimately end up, or at least making a Pinterest board of what I think my characters look like so I have a handy and quick visual reference if I need it. And I’m a plotter by nature. This writing-by-the-seat-of-your-pants thing is so…not me.
But this year, as I’ve said…no prep, no plot, no plan.
I’m starting out fresh when I sit down on 11.1.18 to begin writing my 50,000 word minimum. Every year for the past 5 years I’ve done NANOWRIMO and I’ve actually gone on to have all those books traditionally published, so that’s the hope for this year as well. I’m being truthful when I tell you I’m a little nervous about this.
Nervous? Hell, let’s be totally honest: I’m friggin’ terrified!
Stay tuned. We’ll see what happens…
And if you’re doing NANOWRIMO this year and need a writing “buddy,” I’ll help. Add me to you Buddy List. I’m listed under Margaret-Mary Jaeger.
When I’m not obsessing over NANOWRIMO or out doing the publicity tours for my new releases, you’ll find me wiling away the hours here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe // Monkey me //Watch me
For those of you who have been following my blog posts, first of all #BLESSYOU. heehee, Secondly, you know that my new fall favorite TV show is on PBS and it’s The Great American Read. I posted about it the other day, here, and this past Tuesday night a great new installment was aired, titled THE HERO’S JOURNEY. As a writer of contemporary romantic fiction, the word HERO means a great deal to me.
My on-line dictionary describes the word HERO as : a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities: a war hero. • the chief male character in a book, play, or movie, who is typically identified with good qualities, and with whom the reader is expected to sympathize. • (in mythology and folklore) a person of superhuman qualities and often semi-divine origin, in particular one of those whose exploits and dealings with the gods were the subject of ancient Greek myths and legends.
Hero’s are very near and dear to me and Tuesday night’s broadcast put the true definition of the hero into perspective for me as an author, and as a reader.
For instance, did you know that there are all sorts of heroes? Superheroes like Superman and SpiderMan exist solely on the fiction plane, and we’re not going to discuss that classification. No, the heroes I’m talking about – and that PBS divided the 100 books about heroism into, are classified as Tragic, Everyday, and Anti-hero.
The Tragic hero is one for whom fighting the good fight against something amoral, illegal, or who is trying to make the world better, faces an ultimate fate where the outcome will not be good. The books mentioned on the broadcast that fall into this category are: The Invisible Man, 1984 and Charlotte’s Web
Then, there’s the Everyday Hero. A man, woman, teenager, or child, who is going about their humdrum lives when they are suddenly forced to make a decision, or perform an act of bravery, that they ordinarily wouldn’t be required to do. Books in the category included The Hunger Games, I, Alex Cross, The Hunt For Red October, The Help, and The Giver
I’ve only read 2 of the books on this list and I feel a little…bad, about that. I need to up my game in the hero department. I’ve seen most of the movie adaptations of the books mentioned, but we all know the book is always – ALWAYS – better in the long run.
So, this episode got me to thinking: who are your heroes in fiction from the categories mentioned. I’m not talking about BatMan or Thor. I’m talking the everyday, the tragic, and the anti-hero. Let me know your favs and we’ll see if they match mine.
And don’t forget to watch The Great American Read every Tuesday night on your local PBS station and VOTE for your favorite book on the list.
I haven’t had a new book release since April 2018 when CAN’T STAND THE HEAT came out into the romance reading world. Loved that book, but I’ve never gone this long without a new release.
Well, what’s that old saying: when it rains it pours? Yeah. Story of my life.
This fall and into the holiday season I will have 3 new releases, well, released. A new San Valentino Christmas story called CHRISTMAS AND CANOLLIS, a new series starting called A Match Made in Heaven. Book 1 is DEARLY BELOVED. And I’m part of a book series of novellas from the Wild Rose Press called The DeerBourne Inn. My addition is HOPE’S DREAM.
I’m going to do a cover reveal of Christmas and Canollis, soon, but here’s the official blurb:
With Christmas season in full swing, baker Regina San Valentino is up to her elbows in cake batter and cookie dough. Between running her own business, filling her bursting holiday order book, and managing her crazy Italian family, she’s got no time to relax, no room for more custom cake orders, and no desire to find love. A failed marriage and a personal tragedy have convinced her she’s better off alone. Then a handsome stranger enters her bakery begging for help. Regina can’t find it in her heart to refuse him.
Connor Gilhooly is in a bind. He needs a specialty cake for an upcoming fundraiser and puts himself—and his company’s reputation—in Regina’s capable hands. What he doesn’t plan on is falling for a woman with heartbreak in her eyes or dealing with a wise-guy father and a disapproving family.
Can Regina lay her past to rest and trust the man who’s awoken her heart?
here’s the cover and blurb for DEARLY BELOVED:
Colleen O’Dowd manages a thriving bridal business with her sisters in Heaven, New Hampshire. After fleeing Manhattan and her cheating ex-fiancé, Colleen still believes in happily ever afters. But with a demanding business to run, her sisters to look after, and their 93-year-old grandmother to keep out of trouble, she’s worried she’ll never find Mr. Right.
Playboy Slade Harrington doesn’t believe in marriage. His father’s six weddings have taught him life is better as an unencumbered single guy. But Slade loves his little sister. He’ll do anything for her, including footing the bill for her dream wedding. He doesn’t plan on losing his heart to a smart-mouthed, gorgeous wedding planner, though.
When her ex-fiancé comes back into the picture, Colleen must choose between Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now.
Can I just tell you how much I lovelovelove this cover and this story??!! This past weekend I posted a snipper from the upcoming story. You can read it here: Sunday Snippet
The DeerBourne Inn is a series of novellas centering around a bed and breakfast in Willow Springs, Vt. The books range from historical to paranormal to contemporary and even a few spicy/erotic ones.
My contribution is a modern day romance about two people who aren’t looking for love, and what happens when love finds them!
Ski instructor Hope Kildaire’s dream of becoming a Nurse Practitioner was shattered when a fatal accident changed her family and her future. Working two jobs and caring for her injured mother leaves the twenty-seven year old beauty with no time for fun or relationships. While she loves her Willow Springs community, she longs for a life where she can travel and make a difference in people’s lives.
Lawyer Tyler Coleman has one job when he comes to Hope’s hometown, an assignment that could change Hope’s life forever and allow her to fulfill all her dreams. But once he meets and gets to know her, that job takes a backseat to his unexpected and mounting feelings for the lovely young woman. When he finally admits who he is and why he’s in Willow Springs, his one hope is that she feels the same way about him.
Will Hope’s dream come true at the expense of Tyler’s heart?
To say I’ve been a bit busy is kind of an understatement!!!
When I have official release dates I’ll post them. And if you subscribe to my newsletter, you’ll be seeing the cover of CHRISTMAS and CANOLLIS soon. Sign up when the pop-up appears to subscribe!
Off to do more editing. And maybe take a nap. Definitely, a nap.
Wow. It’s hard to believe that an entire year of blogging is almost complete! This is week 50. Just 2 more to go.
Now, since this is a writing blog for romance writers ( mainly) you might think that my biggest accomplishment is something…literary. Maybe it’s the fact that I got a publishing contract for my first book at the age of 55. Or that I’ve won several awards for my books. It might even be that I’ve been lucky enough to get 10 books published in 3 years – and none of them were indie/self pubbed. While all those accomplishments were ones I’ve, well, accomplished, none of them are what I consider my biggest and best accomplishment to date.
The answer may surprise you, but my biggest accomplishment is my marriage and the fact that it has survived 30 years.
I’ve written extensively about how I was raised in a contentious, divorced family. Both parents remarried, but they continued to be bitter about the other and take it out on me – whether intentionally or not — until I reached maturity and cut off contact with them. My mother’s second marriage was no better than her first, the only difference was I was older and a witness to the emotional abuse it wrought. With this as my example, I truly felt marriage was the worst thing in the world and I was never going to do it.
Then I met my man.
He was raised in the diametrically opposite family life that I was. Two parents, a shared religion and commitment to one another and their children, financially stable, and educated to my 4 parents, sporadic religious practice, labile commitment and a working class poverty. The phrase one paycheck away from financial ruin was the theme of my childhood.
I didn’t believe in marriage because I’d been shown how horrible it was. My man believed in it because he’d been shown how wonderful it was. Once I met his parents, I had to agree. My previous thoughts that all marriages are horrible flew right out the window.
Now, I’m not an easy person to live with at times, and can be moody, isolationalist, and cutting if provoked. I knew living with me would be no picnic. But we endured. Somehow, by the grace of God, we endured. And I truly learned what it meant to love someone else so much that you’d do anything for them to make them happy.
I think some people regard the word commitment conditionally. They will commit and pledge to another, but the first time adversity or hardship comes through the door, that commitment gets broken. In our house, commitment is the end all be all. It’s for life. Whether we sink or swim, are successful or not, we made a vow to one another to see it through. Marriage vows are written for a reason. That phrase in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, through good times and bad MEANS something. I tend to think many people these days don’t get that.
Anyway, December 26th I will be married 30 years, Here’s looking forward to the next 30!
Drop by some of these other authors to see what their biggest accomplishments are!
While in the middle of NaNoWriMo2017 I received my proofs for my upcoming April 2018 release CAN’T STAND THE HEAT, book 3 in the WIll Cook For Love Series. Thanksgiving is this week. Christmas is but a calendar-page-turning away. Busy, much?
What’s that expression? When it rains, it pours??
Yesterday I sat – literally SAT – at my desk for 11 hours. 2 Bathroom breaks and one 10 minute stop to have lunch.
Not complaining — never complaining!– about too much writing/editing work. This is what I want my life to be, what I’ve dreamed of. What I wished it could be.
So, yeah. No complaints from this chickita.
(But a little sleep wouldn’t kill me! heehee)
Recently on Facebook, I saw a post that was shared hundreds of times called THE DECLUTTER CHALLENGE, a 30-day challenge to get rid of clutter and stuff in your life. A random sampling of the days’ tasks includes: purging 2 kitchen cabinets (day 7); cleaning out your wallet (day 9) and your purse ( day 10); cleaning out the freezer ( day 18); donating unused toys ( day 25). The challenge ends on day thirty with the simple task of CLEAN. I guess what you clean is up to you, but I took it to mean, clean your house.
This challenge, naturally, got me to thinking about how I could declutter my writing. All writers have catch words or phrases they like to use, especially when writing dialogue. If we actually wrote how we spoke, the readers would be bored out of their gourds. For instance, would you seriously want to spend money on a book where every dialogue started like this:
#1. Hey, Bill. How are you?
#2. Fine, Jim. How are you?
#3. Can’t complain. How’s the family?
#4. Doing well. Yours?
#5. Same, same. So how, about those Red Sox?…
you get the idea. This is drivel. We may speak like this in real life, but in fiction, it’s a death knoll.
So that’s one way to declutter your work: check the dialogue. Can you get the idea across without all the folderol of “hi, how you doing’s?”
Another way I know I personally clutter up my writing is by using too many extraneous words to convey my thoughts. A quick search of my current work in progress yielded this:
the use of THAT – 89 times
the use of To her/to him/ for her/for him -56 times
the use of adverbs ( the bane of my writing existence) 91 times. EEK!
I really need to work on decluttering these words, don’t I! Hee hee
Other things that writers should declutter are phrases like “seemed to,” “tried to,” “began to.” Writing is much stronger and moves quicker when sentences are declarations and use an active tense.
For example: Her natural, spicy scent seemed to surround her body.
Better example: Her natural, spicy scent of ginger and peach, surrounded her.
Other words that can probably be eliminated a fair amount of time and still allow the sentence to convey what it needs to are:
move, push, reach, bring, pull, went, brought, press and came( to denote going or coming from somewhere)
It’s a good practice to utilize the SEARCH for options in your word processing program to nit pick and eliminate words you use excessively after your first draft is written. This will make the editing process more about the story line and capturing what you intended to say instead of needing to remove excess words.
Oh, about that 30-day Declutter challenge. yeah, I survived for three days. Then I was exhausted. Maybe I should develop a 12 month declutter challenge. You know…do one thing a month instead of 30 in 30 days? Thoughts? LOL
When I’m not decluttering my life and my writing, you can find me here:
One of my lovely and talented writing friends, TENA STETLER, has a new paranormal release — A WARLOCK’S SECRETS — and she’s visiting me today, along with one of her characters, Hannah Shaughnessy, to tell you a little about the book and how it came to be. I’ve got a few questions for these two, so sit back and let’s get to know them a little better. And stick around – Tena’s giving you a treat at the end…
Tena, tell us a little about writing this story. A Warlock’s Secrets was one of the hardest books to write. I write by the seat of my pants. Most characters come to me and boom, I know their name, and tell me their story. Tristian was a secondary character in A Demon’s Witch, and a difficult one at that. Who would ever imagine an enforcer/assassin would charm my readers and reviewers so much that they demand his story be written? Tristian taunted and tested me every step of the way. But I believe it’s one of my best novels yet. Hannah, aww… she gave him a run for his money, but it was worth every penny. LOL. The family and friends that surrounded them were the best. Looking back I had a lot of fun writing the story too.
But Hannah is here today to tell you a little bit about her.
Hannah Shaughnessy, meet Peggy Jaeger.
Hi Hannah, nice to meet you. How about telling us a little about the real you— I am a cyber security specialist. Came to the U.S., from Ireland to attend college, graduated early and was snapped up by a big cyber security firm. My family is close, and holds our guarded secret closer. I love my little cottage in Misty Harbor, Maine. On one of the worst days of my life, I stopped in a little diner and vented to the waitress I know there. This unbelievably hot man with intense blue-gray eyes, asked to join me. All I could do was nod, hoping the drool didn’t pool in the corners of my mouth. He was having a bad day too. We talked for hours. But his magic signature was disguised.
What event in your past has left the most indelible impression on you? Being sucked into a world I didn’t know existed and danger that lurked there.
What was the hardest thing you ever had to do? Keep my relationship with Tristian a secret from my sister. She attended college over here too, she’s a park ranger and we’d always told each other everything. With Tristian, I couldn’t.
What do you most value? Family and trusted friends. I know it sounds cliché, but when danger finds you, family and friends are all you can trust to be there for you.
What type of man do you want to spend the rest of your life with? A confident man with a strong moral compass and a kind and compassionate heart.
What do you consider most important in life? Being true to yourself.
What is your biggest secret? Oh, now I can’t tell you that or it wouldn’t be a secret anymore. But I guarantee it’s a doozy. LOL
Who were the biggest role models in your life? My mom. She raised my sister and I, worked at the family pub, and knew when to let us try our wings at colleges in America. It was hard for her but she supported us and our dreams all the way.
What kind of man would you never choose? Until Tristian, I’d never fallen for a “bad boy type”. But… wow… did he fit that category.
What is your biggest fear? Losing someone close to me. Tristian’s profession is dangerous and can affect family and friends, though he does his best to protect us.
It was nice meeting you. But I gotta get going, I’m on my way to check out the new digs in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the company I work for, Shadow Hawk Cyber.
A Warlock’s Secrets
Years ago, a sacred ceremony at the Dragon’s Moon Coven turned deadly. Son of the high priestess, Tristian Shandie’s life changed forever. With a price on his head and revenge in his heart, he has no choice but to follow in his father’s footsteps to a profession shrouded in secrets. Now his skills as an enforcer for the Demon Overlord are second to none. But dangerous secrets he harbors are a liability he can no longer afford.
A chance meeting with a woman he finds irresistible flips Tristian’s world upside down. Hannah is a cyber security specialist with secrets of her own. Bad boys never appealed to her until Tristian, who changes everything. In his darkest hours, she is dragged into his magical world.
If they survive, is she strong enough to heal his heart and tame the warlock? Or will their secrets destroy them?
Inside the house, a shadow passed by the huge bay window. She held her breath. Am I really going to go through with this?
Walking up the steps to the house, she paused. Why would he leave such an expensive car sitting out when he had a four-car garage? She was stalling. Straightening her shoulder’s she used the brass doorknocker. There was no answer. She knocked again.
The heavy oak door creaked open. Tristian stood shirtless, his abs rippled as he raised one muscular arm to lean on the doorframe. The skintight blue jeans hung low on his hips and his hair tousled as if he’d not been awake long.
When he stared at her, with those huge blue-gray eyes, tingles careened up her spine. She covered her mouth in case drool pooled in the corners her mouth. He was one sexy male. She sucked in a breath and opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out. A brow arched, he peered questioningly at her then twisted to glance backward into the house. The sunlight streaming through the doorway accentuated several scars across his chest, rib area and a healed slash across his back. Who gets those kinds of battle scars and lives to tell the tale? Not going to ask. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.
The corner of his mouth curved up in an inviting sexy-as-hell grin. “Good morning, Hannah. What a surprise.”
A little about Tena…
Tena Stetler is a paranormal romance and cozy mystery author with an over-active imagination. She wrote her first vampire romance as a tween, to the chagrin of her mother and the delight of her friends. With the Rocky Mountains outside her window, Tena sits at her computer surrounded by a wide array of paranormal creatures telling her their tales. Colorado is her home; shared with her husband of many moons, a brilliant Chow Chow, a spoiled parrot and a forty-year-old box turtle. Any evening, you can find her curled up in front of a crackling fire with a good book, a mug of hot chocolate and a big bowl of popcorn. Her books tell tales of magical kick-ass women and mystical alpha males that dare to love them.
You can find Tena here:
Hannah and Tena, thanks so much for stopping by today. Much luck in all….your pursuits!