Friday, August 31, 2007

Just a quickie...

Author Sound Bites has launched! Quotable sound bites from today's hot authors, courtesy of Eileen Parker. Eileen is gathering quotations from living, breathing, warm bodied authors and posting them to the Author Sound Bites blog. This is going to be so much fun!

Absolute Write Blogchain #10

This is the first time I've participated in a blogchain. It's sort of like a chain letter, with much more creativity and no dire threats if you don't pass it on. So far, the posts have been about produce, and vacations, which made me think of Autumn in New England.

I currently reside in a little house on the prairie (apologies to Laura Ingalls Wilder), but I grew up in a little house in the big woods of Maine. My parents had 3 kids to feed, so they grew a good sized garden every summer. We snacked on cucumbers, tomatoes and green beans fresh off the vine. We created faerie worlds playing in the forest behind our house. As school vacation dwindled there was an excitement and snap you could smell in the air.

The mornings would start off cool and crisp, the scent of wood smoke and pine needles heavy in the breeze. The deer paths called to me to walk their secret maze. I'd throw on a light jacket, grab my journal and head out, not quite sure where I'd end up. The destination didn't really matter much, because the beauty surrounding me made the journey far more important.

The sun climbed higher in the sky. The light falling through the leaves made dancing dapples all around me. I pretended they were faeries beckoning me to their palace. I'd continue down the well worn path to my favorite spot. A natural slab of granite extended out into a brook. Just above it, the tree branches opened up to let the sun shine through.

It was so incredibly peaceful, this small spot in the woods. The water would chatter as it worked its way around the rock. Birdsong surrounded me and occasionally I would glimpse a deer meandering at the far end of the path. Sometimes I wrote in my journal, other times I stretched out on the rock, closed my eyes and soaked in the sun and the sounds.

Even though this was before every kid had a cellphone, my mom never worried about me. She knew I needed space and quiet and the world was a safer place than it is now. I would return from my walks and we'd talk about what I'd seen and heard.

I miss my home state terribly, especially at this time of year. The Midwest is beatiful in its own right, but it's still not "mine". Sure, I'll take walks through the apple orchard, and I'll experience the SNAP! of biting into a Cortland apple fresh off the tree. I'll watch my neighbor's huge Maple tree turn into a flame of color. But, I won't throw on a turtleneck and a flannel to help my dad haul wood into the house for the woodstove. The only woodsmoke I'm likely to scent on the wind will be from my neighbor's firepit.

Instead, I'll watch the combines harvest corn, and I'll watch the landscape change from lush green to warm golden hues. We'll begin to harvest the herbs from the garden and buy straw for winter bedding. My family will attend the town festival and conversations will cease to revolve around going "up to the cabin" and begin to focus on the upcoming holidays.

I'm always caught between feeling elated and incredibly sad at this time of year. For me, it's a time of reaping the harvest and preparing for the long months of rest to gather the strength to do it all over again in the spring.

The next blogger in the chain is The Death Wizard Chronicles. I'm sure he'll have something interesting to add to the chain.

My Midnight Muse

(The Blog Formerly Known as) Taosbound

Virtual Wordsmith

The Death Wizard Chronicles

Food History

Kappa No He

A piece in the puzzle

Sound Off Blog

Virginia Lee: I Ain't Dead Yet!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Loose Ends

Today is the day for getting the last of school starting preparations finished. This morning, we're off and running to get the Kindergarten boy's eye-glasses. And then, quick stops at Kohl's and Target for t-shirts for the Sophomore.

Tonight is orientation at the Elementary and High schools. The Middle School orientation was Monday night, so that's already been taken care of - yes, you read that right, we have children in all three schools. Logistics can be sheer frustration sometimes, especially at orientation and parent-teacher conferences.

Needless to say, I won't be around much today.

4 more days....

Writer Tools Giveaway Contest

Christina Katz, over at Writer Mama, is holding a Writer Mama Back-to-School Daily Giveaway.
For more information about the rules and what she's giving away, head on over there and check it out!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It pays to be nice...

This award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. Once you’ve been awarded please pass it on to 7 others who you feel are deserving of this award.

Judy Larsen, over at Not Afraid of the "F" Word , nominated me for the "Nice Matters Award". Awwwwwww. This made my day!

So, now it's my turn.

Here are my seven nominees, in absolutely no particular order.

Eileen Parker, Author Sound Bites

Ellen Meister, Side Dish

Gwendolen Gross, The Other Mother--for Moms Who Want to Write

Joanne D. Kiggins, WritingAfterDark

Thursday Bram, thursdaybram

Christina Katz, WriterMama

April Aragram

Now, go out there, and perform some random acts of kindness. :)

Interview - Anne Frasier, author of Pale Immortal

Today's "5 Q&A" is with Anne Frasier, author of Pale Immortal.

1.) Who are you?

Anne Frasier has been recognized with numerous awards including the RITA and Daphne du Maurier for romantic suspense. Publishers Weekly says Frasier “has perfected the art of making a reader’s skin crawl.” The Minneapolis Star Tribune calls her a “master.” She’s been published since1988, and her books have been printed in over a dozen languages in hardcover, trade, and paperback. Frasier lives in Minneapolis/St. Paul where she is working on her twentieth novel.

2.) What books are on your bedside table?

Fodor’s Sweden
Minnesota’s State Parks
North Florida and the Florida Panhandle
60 Hike Within 60 Miles of the Twin Cities
Inventing the Truth
Running with Scissors
The Road

3.) What do you like me to do in your "spare" time?

Well, you can probably guess from the above list that I like to hike and travel. :D I also like to take pictures of cemeteries and cemetery statuary.

4.) How much fun was/is it to write about the Pale Immortal?

I LOVED writing about Tuonela and the Pale Immortal. It was sad to let go of that world and move on. I think when you create a fictional setting, the story and setting becomes much more real and more personal than something set in a real place. If that makes any sense.

5.) What's next?

I’m working on something completely different – a creative nonfiction novel. This is a story I’ve wanted to tell for years, and the time suddenly seemed right. I hope to have it finished in about eight months to a year. After that I’ll submit it. I usually sign a contract then write the book, but since this is so different and such a book of the heart I wanted to write it without the pressure of a deadline. But it will mean I won’t have another book out for a long time.

Thanks so much, Anne!

Pale Immortal is available at bookstores and online. Watch for Anne's new book, Garden of Darkness, coming in December! For more information about Anne Frasier, visit her website at

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sleep deprivation

I thought I was done with sleepless nights once my youngest was consistently staying in his own bed all night. The weather has been making it impossible for me to sleep.

It's been hot and muggy the last couple of nights here in Minnesota. We aren't blessed with central air. So, I read until 10:30 last night, shut the light off and waited for sleep to come. We also had a thunderstorm roll through around 3, which meant pulling the fans out of the windows. Sandman must have missed his flight, because I didn't settle down until 4 a.m.

I woke to my littlest boy nose to nose with me whispering "Mummy, are you awake?" He was hungry, it was 8:30 a.m. and so my day began.

Monday, August 27, 2007

How is this possible?

One in Four Read No Books Last Year

The Chicago Tribune reported on August 21, 2007 - "One in four adults read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday."

I can't imagine not reading at least a book a month, let alone a year. I suppose it comes down to how you want to spend your spare time. I would much rather read a book than watch a movie or television. But, then again, I rarely have the quiet time to watch a movie from beginning to end without interruption. Whereas I can put a book down, deal with a distraction, and come right back to the story.

I'm so glad my kids have seen me reading and have been exposed to my love of words. I would be so sad if they went a year without reading a book.

Book Review - Pale Immortal by Anne Frasier

Pale Immortal
Anne Frasier
ISBN # 978-0451412249

Tuonela, Wisconsin is a sleepy little town in Wisconsin, but a 100 year old horror is beginning to awake. The bloodless body of a young girl is found in the town square and whispers of "vampire" begin to circulate. Rachael Burton, the homegrown coroner and medical examiner called in to investigate, suspects her childhood friend, Evan Stroud. Evan has a little more on his plate than he can handle when he discovers he is a father - 16 years after the fact. Together, Rachael and Evan chase down the answers to a horrific crime.

Pale Immortal is a fun read! Part paranormal thriller, part forensic investigation, you'll be wondering if there really is a vampire - the Pale Immortal - stalking the streets of Tuonela. I was reminded of Stephen King, Anne Rice and John Grisham as I turned the pages.

I can't wait to read the next book, Garden of Darkness, due out in December. There is much more to the story of Tuonela, Wisconsin.
(September 5, 2006, pp 384, $7.99)

Friday, August 24, 2007


The next two days will be incredibly hectic around here. Tomorrow morning is last minute school supply shopping and stock-up grocery run. The afternoon will hopefully be a family outing to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. And Sunday we have a birthday gathering to attend.

One more full week and then my days become more mine. I will be devoting much more of my time to freelance writing and blogging. This has been the plan since the first of this year and I can't wait to get started!

What books are on your nightstand?

As I've said before, I'm an avid reader. Lately, I'm reading constantly - magazines, books for review, blogs, etc. When I'm not writing, I'm reading. I read for my own pleasure before bed. It seems to be the only way for me to wind down so I can sleep.

Every Friday, I'll list what books are on my bedside table, but I'm even more curious to know what books you're reading. Please comment with title and author, and feel free to say a little bit about them. I'm always looking for good books.

On my bedside table today:

  • Demons Are Forever by Julie Kenner
  • Modern Magick by Donald Michael King
  • From the Ashes by Meghan Brunner
  • Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
  • The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New online magazine

I just found out about this magazine today. As We Are Magazine

Trudi Evans, the publisher, says "This magazine is dedicated to providing women with a forum to speak out and speak up. It is founded on the belief that we are good enough, as we are. Our hips don't need to shrink, our clothes don't need to look better, and we don't need a tan to improve the world. Here, we can analyze, empathize, and inspire true change in our societies."

As the mother of an almost 18 year old daughter, I'm tickled to see a magazine focused on the "wholeness" of women, not the facade most media shove down our throats. Women are complex and amazing, not some airbrushed fantasy.

Check it out!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Interview - Cheryl Robinson, author of It's Like That

Today's "5 Q&A" is with Cheryl Robinson, author of It's Like That.

1.) Who are you?
I am a person who can be best understood through my writing. I am quiet by nature unless you really know me and then you know that I'm not really that quiet. However, I am a very private person. One of my favorite past times is thinking, which is why I love creating characters. I am also a native Detroiter who currently resides in Florida, but I have my sites seriously set on Atlanta. As much as I love my hometown, I have outgrown the cold weather. I lived in Dallas, Texas for four years and I loved it, in fact, of the five states I've lived in over the past eight years, Texas was my favorite, but I visited Atlanta for one week and as soon as I arrived into the city there was a feeling that came over me that told me that was where I needed to be so if it's in God's will I'll get there.

2.) Do you have a ritual or routine for your writing process?
I think about new characters every single day. I write nearly every day. On weekends I write all day. I have a digital recorder that I keep with me at all times for any ideas that pop into my head. For me, the best part of writing a new book is working on the opening chapter because that's what draws in the reader. And so usually I will work on my opening over and over again.

3.) You are one of four contributing writers in the book These Are My Confessions (Joy King, Electra Rome Parks, Cheryl Robinson, Meta Smith). How was this project different from your own books?
I usually write contemporary romance. I have never written erotica before. And my novella "Strapped" has been labeled as being "X-rated" by some and shocking by others. I knew that I was writing in a different genre and so I wanted to totally escape and go way out there with it. At times, I got a little carried away.

4.) When did you know you were going to write a book?
I wrote a book when I was twenty years old for a contest that I entered at Wayne State University that the English Department was sponsoring. I found out about the contest two days before the deadline and with just two days of writing practically nonstop I finished my manuscript and even placed in the contest with an honorable mention and received a twenty-five dollar check. It was then that I really thought about the possibility of writing. I knew if I could do that with just two days, I could only imagine what I might be able to accomplish with let's say six months to a year. A few years later, I wrote another manuscript, but this time I sent it out to literary agents and received several rejection letters. I put my dream on hold for several years until 2001 when I began penning Memories of Yesterday that I self-published in 2002, which later was re-released by Penguin under If It Ain't One Thing.

5.) What's next?
My next novel is Sweet Georgia Brown. It is the story of a humble housewife determined to become a household name. Georgia Brown is married to a nationally syndicated radio host Marvelous Marvin who uses his on-air format as a vehicle to insult Georgia, but then Georgia has an opportunity to get even when as fate would have it she is offered her own syndicated radio show. But will she stoop to her husband's techniques? The backdrop is radio but the story is about so much more than that. I get goose bumps just thinking about it. It's all about going after your dreams. You're never too old as in Georgia's case, who is forty-one or too young as in the case of her thirteen year old stepdaughter Chloe. I love the characters. I love all of them even Marvin with all of his faults because I understand him. But I especailly adore Chloe who had to grow up too quickly and Corliss, a loyal Marvelous Marvin listener who wants to make a change in her life but doesn't know where to begin. My goal when writing the story was for the reader to find it heartwarming and inspirational.

Thank you so much, Cheryl!

It's Like That is available at bookstores online. Watch for Cheryl's new book, Sweet Georgia Brown, in January 2008. If you'd like to learn more about Cheryl, visit her website at

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Free Newsletters for Freelance Writers

I am subscribed to at least six newsletters about freelance writing. They usually contain articles, tips and markets or calls for submissions. I don't mind them cluttering up my email box, but if you want to, you can create a separate email address exclusively for newsletters.

The following websites all have free newsletters:

New Magazine

According to Wooden Horse Publishing, a new magazine, Artful Blogging, debuted this month. It focuses on writers and artists who share their work through online blogs, journals or galleries. It's published by Stampington & Company. You can see the website here.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A New Language?

Have you, by chance, seen the commercial where the mom is frustrated with her daughter's cell phone usage, and the teenage daughter is answering her questions in verbal text shorthand? IDK (I Don't Know) and NBD (No Big Deal). two teenagers keep in contact with me by texting with their cell phones. It's cheaper, by far, than calling. My daughter hasn't quite learned text short cuts, so she types in full words and follows grammar and spelling rules. My step-son, however, has brought to my attention how much quicker I could text if I learned the shortcuts.

I'd be happy to do this, but the texting "language" is constantly evolving. I'd need a cheat sheet with me at all times, so that I didn't inadvertently offend someone. He teases me about how long it takes me to respond to his messages. When I told him I could just call him, which would take longer and cost him more money, he stopped teasing.

I consider myself to be a "cool" mom. I'm good with the music they listen to, the books they read, and I can hold a decent conversation with their friends. I'm not really willing to give up all I've learned about good communication and writing skills just to text IDK and NBD.


Book Review - It's Like That by Cheryl Robinson

It's Like That
Cheryl Robinson
ISBN # 978-0451217462

Winona and Porter have every reason to get married, but secrets keep getting in the way of their commitment. Neither one of them is ready to be completely honest with the other. Fear of the unknown continually paralyzes both of them. The odds of a happily-ever-after life aren't exactly stacked in their favor.

It's Like That illustrates everyday life in extraordinary ways. Fear and insecurity keep many of us from taking the steps to get what we want and need. Winona and Porter work through the obstacles (his family, her health, their exes and children) together, pushing toward a common goal - marriage. Cheryl Robinson writes with clarity and conviction, showing us that with faith, truth and love, life has a way of coming full circle.
(January 3, 2006, pp 300, $13.95)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Author Media Training

If you're like me, it may not have occurred to you that someday you may become famous and the media may want to interview you. Now, seriously, if radio or TV came knocking on my door, I would be so nervous, I'd look and sound like an ignoramus (or at least feel like one).

Enter the Media Trainer. A Media Trainer coaches you on how to breathe, speak and think so that you get your point across and sound great doing it.

My friend is a Media Trainer. If you'd like to know more about her, you can visit her website, and/or her MySpace page, .

Friday, August 17, 2007

Staying organized...or trying to

I live in a very small house with five other people (husband and four kids). About a year ago, we decided to go minimalist. You wouldn't believe the amount of stuff six people can accumulate over time.

In the spirit of minimalism, I've tried to become more organized. Through that attempt, I've become very picky about what I want in my line of sight. I'm extemely drawn to wood grains, flowers and words. The view from my desk is no longer a cluttered mess, as you can see from the picture above.

And yes, I have 2 calendars. One is for my love of flowers, the other for my love of nature's rhythm. I don't actually write on either of these calendars, they are purely for my viewing pleasure. I have a planner and a PDA for recording appointments.

Speaking of PDAs and planners, which leads me to cell phones and digital cameras (technology, as it were), I was constantly misplacing the cords to my gadgets. To save time and frustration, I wrote the corresponding gadget's name on a small address label and folded it around the end of the cord. Then I folded the cord up and secured it with a twist tie. The cords now live in a clear plastic, hinged shoebox on my bookcase.

My bookcases have very specific shelves. One is for my writing reference books (no other books are allowed). Another for magazines, and several for fiction works. The smallest, shortest shelf contains music and office supplies. Anything I don't want the kids to walk off with is placed on the highest shelves - about six feet up.

With the kids heading back to school in two weeks, we'll all be pitching in to get things cleaned up and organized. Fall housecleaning begins tomorrow, as a matter of fact. Hopefully by Labor Day weekend, minimalism will be in full effect.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Too Conscientious?

Back in grade school, I was the kid who studied and studied and studied some more, took the test, and then worried until the paper was put in my hand with an A written across the top. I think some of us are just born that way.

When I tripped over an assignment (more because of who I know than what I know in this case), I wanted to be sure I did a good job. I wrote it to the editor's specifications, submitted it 6 days early - with photos, even. And then I waited, and waited, and worried and waited. I was under the mistaken impression that if an editor liked the piece you submitted, they would let you know. Not so much in this case.

I've been walking around with a knot in my stomach for the last two days wondering if I did something wrong, if the email didn't go through, or some horrible thing had occurred to prevent publication. I found out this morning - a full week after emailing the article - that, yes, the editor will be running the piece in the October issue and on the corresponding web site.

So, don't assume just because you don't hear from the editor that your writing won't see print.

A Funny Thing Happened...

Stephen King was mistaken for a vandal when he stopped at a bookstore in Australia and signed some books that were on the shelves for sale. Read the story here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Interview - Judy Larsen, author of All the Numbers

Today's "5 Q&A" is with Judy Larsen
author of All the Numbers.

1.) Who are you?

I taught high school English for 15 years in Wisconsin and Missouri before leaving the classroom in June 2006 to write full-time. I'm a mom to two boys, a stepmom to two girls and one boy all between the ages of 14 and 22--kind of like the Brady Bunch without Alice. I moved all across the country growing up, but consider myself a midwestern girl.

2.) As the mother of 1 daughter and 3 sons, I cried through many scenes in this book. Did you cry when you wrote the toughest parts?

Most definitely. And there are still scenes that make me tear up even though I wrote them. I know there are some pages I will never be able to read aloud.

3.) What are your most frightening fears?

Losing my children. I think as a mother that's just the most primal, basic fear. When they were younger I was also scared of me dying and leaving them, but now that they are so much more out on their own, it's the thought of what could happen to them that keeps me awake at night. That and snakes.

4.) Wine plays a large part in the book. What is your favorite vintage?

I guess Ellen does come off as sort of a lush at times, doesn't she? I do like wine, but I'm not knowledgable enough to be very picky about it or have a taste for the real expensive ones--although after my husband and I take our first trip to Napa later this month that might change! In the summer, I love a buttery chardonnay and when it's cooler out I like pinot noir and caberbet sauvignon.

5.) What's next?

I'm deep into what I hope will be my next novel. Through two different narrative lines, one set in the present and the other set between 1958-1971 it explores how women are too often defined by others’ expectations and judgments, rather than by themselves and their dreams.

Thank you so much, Judy!

All the Numbers is available at bookstores online. If you'd like to know more about the story behind the book, feel free to visit Judy's website at

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Love the smell of ink in the morning...

Well, maybe not so much ink, but anyone who writes probably gets my meaning.

I love mornings. I especially love mornings that are quiet and cool. My children are giving me an inadvertent and welcome gift today by sleeping in. I've been up since 6:45, drinking coffee, checking emails and reading blogs and message boards about writing.

If I'm allowed at least an hour of peace first thing in the morning, my day flows better. Getting up before 7 a.m. may be painful for some, but I've been doing it for about 4 months now, and it really works for me and for my writing.

There is a discipline to writing. Finding what works for you and sticking to a routine will help get more words on paper or into your computer. Until school starts, the only consistent routine I have is getting up early to get as much accomplished as I can before the kid-chaos kicks in.

Speaking of my children, the littlest one is starting to stir.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Book Review - All the Numbers by Judy Larsen

All the Numbers
Judy Larsen
Ballantine Books
ISBN # 978-0345485366

Things are terrific in Ellen’s life until the day a relaxing vacation at a lake cabin sends her life into a nightmarish tailspin. Living each day, one day at a time, she tries to maintain some semblance of sanity for her oldest son as she grieves for her youngest. She can’t let go, but she can’t give up, seeking justice for a life cut short much too soon.

All the Numbers is a “what if” book. What if one of my children was killed? What if I was faced with the choice to donate my child’s organs so that another child might live? What if it was up to me to make my child’s killer pay, especially if the murderer was not much more than a child himself?

Judy Larsen artfully and accurately conveys the stages of grief no parent ever wants to experience. All the Numbers will make you think, cry and laugh. It’s been a long time since a book has brought me to tears, but this one did. When a child is killed, a parent may eventually forgive, but will never forget.
(July 25, 2006, pp 304, $13.95)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

What a weekend

I have learned that sometimes life really does get in the way, especially on the weekends. Note to everyday, Monday thru Friday (don't count on Saturday and Sunday though).

Back to regularly scheduled blogging tomorrow.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Bad weather and computer issues

The weather here just south west of the Twin Cities has been iffy since last night and the heat has been atrocious. High temps and high humidity. My computer likes a steady 78 degrees or cooler, so I haven't been on much.

Tomorrow should be better.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Working today

I'm writing and editing for most of the day.

But, so that I don't leave you high and dry, check this out...

Bloggers consider forming labor union - Yahoo! News

Share your thoughts with me. Is the National Writers Union enough, or do bloggers need a separate organization?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Jodi Picoult

Writer's Digest web site has a video webcast of BookExpo America's keynote speaker Jodi Picoult. You can view it here for free. If you have the time, check it out. It's entertaining and enlightening.

Interview - Gwendolen Gross, author of The Other Mother: A Novel

Today's "5Q&A" interview is with Gwendolen Gross, author of The Other Mother: A Novel. Gwendolen has previously published two other books, Field Guide and Getting Out.

1.) Who are you?

I'm a mom and wife and novelist who lives in New Jersey. Oh, sure, I had adventurous titles in the past--live animal and physical science demonstrator at a science museum (think porcupines and very, very large snakes), spelunker, opera singer, editor, naturalist--but I think being a mom uses every one of those skills!

I grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, went to Oberlin College (with a brief stint studying the spectacled fruit bats of Queensland, Australia), and then moved to California. I've found my way back east, went to graduate school at Sarah Lawrence (in writing! impractical, but wonderful!)
and now live in a leafy suburb and love it.

2.) Do you find it difficult to balance family and your writing career?

Sometimes. Writers are people who WRITE, so basically, finding the time and mental space to write is the challenge. But I make it one of my priorities, because if I can't write, I'm miserable. I had help from my husband when my first child was born, and hired a babysitter for a few hours daily when the second came around.

Writing is my work and my joy, as is momming, so I just have to make time for both. Sometimes the balance gets tipped one way or the other, but eventually I even things out.

3.) Have you found yourself feeling torn between your perceptions of parenting and other people's opinions?

I guess I wrote this particular book (THE OTHER MOTHER) because I noticed how much judgement flies about--spoken and unspoken, behind backs or face to face, and I really have no interest in participating in that. But I LOVED writing about what it's like to be two moms--one working, one stay at home--making them the recipients of all my internal conflicts, changing things around. Writing is all about what-ifs. And you get to imbed fiction with your own truths--and your own mishegas.

4.) When did you know you were going to write a book?

I wrote my first novel (still sitting in a drawer) when I was on disability because of an eye problem. I was living in San Diego, knowing I was going to move soon, and applying to graduate schools in writing. I sat in a little box of a house with no air conditioning and a flat black roof with the fan facing me, typing without looking at the keyboard or screen because of the eye problem. Many, many pages were one key off, so they were gibberish. But I needed to do it.

5.) What's next?

This is my third published novel. I hope to keep writing them and writing them and writing them. I'm in no rush, though. I have two I'm revising right now, and hopefully one of those will be the next book on the shelves. Meanwhile, I'm living and momming and being a wife and friend--all that stuff makes up the material of both fiction and life.

Thank you so much, Gwendolen!

The Other Mother: A Novel is available at bookstores online. For more news about Gwendolen and book signings, check out her website at

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

What I'm working on today...

Currently reading:

Currently writing:

A 1000 word article about raising Bumblebees for fun and profit. Due out in October.

Currently considering:

Is blogging like any other type of freelance writing, or is it a different animal entirely?

Feel free to post your opinions, I'd love to know what you think.

Look for an interview with Gwendolen Gross, author of The Other Mother: A Novel, right here, tomorrow morning.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Book Review - The Other Mother

The Other Mother
Gwendolen Gross
Shaye Areheart Books
ISBN # 978-0307352927

When Amanda moves into Thea’s neighborhood, both women have hopes of commonality and friendship. But when disaster strikes Amanda’s house, Thea opens her home and her heart, only to discover the one thing they truly have in common is the love they have for their children.

Thea is a bright, capable stay at home mom of three, and Amanda works as a children’s book editor and is a brand new mother of one. The two mothers have very different philosophies regarding parenting and life. Thea can’t understand why Amanda works when she doesn’t have to, and Amanda wonders why Thea can’t see there is more to life than being a mom. All they really want is to be friends, but insecurity and jealousy drive a wedge between them.

Gwendolen Gross has beautifully represented the backbiting that goes on among women today. Breast vs. bottle, work out of the home vs. stay at home, daycare vs. homecare – the list of differing opinion is endless. The bottom line is mothers love their children and crave the support of their community (family and friends). With a lot more encouragement and support, and a lot less gossip and guilt, mothers would be much happier, no matter their life choices.
(August 7, 2007, 320 pp, $23.00)

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Writer's Rights, Defined

So, you've finally hooked an editor. Superb! You're going to see your name in print. Excellent!

Here's what you need to know about selling not only your work, but more importantly, the rights to your work.

First North American Serial Rights
Magazines typically purchase these rights, which allow them to be the first to print your piece in North America.

Exclusive Rights
The publisher asks for exclusive rights to your story for a limited period of time(anywhere from 90 days to 6 months). You can't offer the story for reprint until the period of time agreed to ends.

Electronic Rights
Publishers who purchase these rights can publish, distribute and/or store your article electronically via a website, e-zine or database.

All Rights
Publishers own your work outright, meaning you cannot sell the piece again, ever.

Work For Hire
The publisher owns the copyright on your work. In effect, they own what you wrote.

Reprint Rights - also known as Second Rights
The right to offer an article for sale once it has been printed somewhere else. Reprints are a good way to capitalize on a perennial topic.

If you don't know what rights the publisher is buying, ASK! And then, have them written into any contract before you sign on the dotted line.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Query letter e-mail etiquette

As with any form of business correspondence, there are rules to writing an electronic mail query. E-mail has become a standard way to communicate over the last 10 years, but writing an e-mail to your mom, or your best friend, is an entirely different animal than e-mailing an editor.

Just as you would dress appropriately for an interview, think about how your words are coming across the computer screen. A business e-mail should read much like a business letter – clear, concise and professional. Do not use emoticons or slang. “Familiarity breeds contempt” may be a cliché, but it’s also true.

Do your homework. The closer you can get to e-mailing the exact editor you’re trying to reach, the better chance of seeing your byline in print. Acquire the latest issue of the magazine you’re targeting and read the masthead. It will list all of the editors and departments for the publication.

If there is no e-mail address listed in the masthead, look through the pages to see if there are any addresses inside. Most magazines have a web site to complement the print version, and you may find e-mail addresses there. You can also try if you don’t have a copy of the current issue available to you.

If you can’t find an e-mail address for the editor you want - in the subject line of your e-mail - type Query or Submission and then the name of the person or department you want to reach. If an assistant receives the e-mail, they’ll most likely forward it on to the correct person.

Once your e-mail arrives at its destination, make sure your contact information is easy to find. Contact information is usually found at the top of a business letter. When using e-mail for business, contact information is placed at the bottom. Most e-mail programs allow you to create a signature that is automatically included as soon as you hit send.

Be sure to include all information you wish the recipient to know.

Mary Lewis
409 Water Street
Jordan, MN 55352
(952) 492-6017

If you have a fax number or cell phone number, you can include them, as well.

Do your research, be polite and courteous and give the editor an idea that grabs them!


Yesterday was a little odd. I spent most of the day using whatever means were available ascertaining the safety of people I know. When there is a huge disaster in the world I tend to be a wee bit compulsive about watching the news. Not so much this time, the I-35 bridge collapse was way too close to home for me.

I was more patient and tactile with my children. When my youngest woke up, I snuggled him a little closer and a little longer. When my daughter was home, I took the time to really look at her. She's damn close to being a woman now. I see lots of me in her, but I see much more of her in her. I let my sons have friends over to play, less concerned about the noise level than usual.

A book arrived in the mail that I hadn't directly requested. The author would like me to read and review it here. I sat down to read, thinking it would be an escape for a little while. I was crying less than a third of the way through it. It's a beautiful story and resonated deeply with me. I'll be posting the review on August 13th.

August 2nd was a day of reflection for me. A day of feeling grateful for all I have, and all that is to come.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Tragedy in Minneapolis, MN

I-35 Bridge Collapses
I live about 35 miles from the bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis this evening. I have friends who drive that stretch of highway daily. My husband drives across that bridge at least once a month for work.

Everyone near and dear to me, as far as I know, is fine. But friends of friends may not be. Please say prayers, think good thoughts or whatever it is you do in times like this for those people involved.

Thank you.

Interview - Ellen Meister author of Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA

Every once in a while I will be posting a "5 Q & A" interview with the authors of the books I review. Ellen Meister, author of Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA, was kind enough to be the first.

1.) Who are you?

Once upon a time I was an advertising and marketing person, but I gave that up when I had my first kid. Now I have three—ages 15, 12 and 9, and spend my time driving carpools, picking up stray socks, going to and from the supermarket, wasting time online and writing novels.

2.) How difficult was it to write a novel and be a mom at the same time?

As trite as this sounds, it was really only a matter of making the decision that this was what I wanted to do. Or, more accurately, needed to do. Once you get to that point, you can find a way to make it work no matter how busy you are. For me, it meant getting up at five every morning and writing for two hours before the family awoke. Now that all the kidlets are in school, I also have a bit of time during the day.

3.) One of your characters plays guitar as a hobby, and another has a beautiful voice but refuses to sing “in public”. Where did those ideas come from?

Such an interesting question, Lynn! My secret confession today is that when I create a character who's a musician or any kind of artist, it's usually a substitute for making her a writer. I think it's natural for writers to look inside themselves for characters, but it's also a problem, because it would get awfully boring, not to mention cliché and narcissistic, if the protagonist of every novel was a writer. (Unless, of course, you're John Irving, in which case you can write an entire novel where every character is a writer, and it can be wonderful and fresh and funny and original because you're, you know, John Irving. See A Widow for One Year.)

4.) How does it feel to have published a novel?

Publishing a novel feels like winning the lottery, except without the money. Seriously, it was my greatest dream in life to see my name on the cover of novel in a bookstore, and it's a pretty heady feeling to see it come true.

5.) What’s next for you?

I have a novel in the works called The Smart One. It's a story about three adult sisters who continue to define themselves by their childhood roles, until the discovery of a dead body under the house next door starts to unravel their past. It will be published by HarperCollins in 2008.

Thank you so much, Ellen!

You can get your copy of Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA at bookstores online now, and it will also be available for purchase at Target stores beginning September 2nd.