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Throw the book out?

I am revising one of my earlier novels with the plan to publish it as an eBook. It’s the story of a woman married to a DEA agent, who is abusive. How can she leave a DEA agent, who has endless resources, so he can never find her?

If you’ve read either of my published books, you know emotion is strong in my stories.

As I revise A Marriage to Die for, I don’t feel the inTENSE emotion I’d like to portray. I rewrote one of my protagonist’s (Jane) scenes using the first person, present TENSE, and sent it to my critique partner, author Sandra Fontana. She really liked the effect.

Valiant and daring as I am, I plan to write all of Jane’s scenes this way. The reader will be right in the moment with her, be in the throes of her TENSE situations, share her deep emotions.

On the other hand, I want some distance from the DEA Ace, Brock. Although, I’d like the reader to know what he’s up to—to know things Jane does not. All of his scenes will be in the third person, past TENSE. As will other characters in the story.

Wish me luck. I may be breaking some rules here. Since I’m planning to offer the book free on Amazon for a limited time, read it, and let me know what you think in a review. I’m aiming for a few months. Sign up on my website:, and I’ll send you a newsletter when A Marriage to Die for is available. Then I will blog on your responses.


The Book . . . The Book . . . The Book!

Silent Grace

Silent Grace

It’s been a while since I put on my blogging cap. I’m back, having packed and unpacked a gazillion boxes, taken a million trips to donate stuff, and having finally found everything we packed . . . somewhere.
Yet, with all the commotion, I was able to progress with self-publishing my next book in the Knoll Cottage Series, Silent Grace. It should pop up on Amazon shortly.
Suddenly, I have time to relax and get back to a normal schedule. Do writers have a normal schedule?
I wanted to get back to you on my And the Agent Said: blog. While I waited to hear from her, I was actually feeling two ways about having an agent. I’ve been to panels of authors, agents, publishers, and they all have good points. Some traditionally published authors (which an agent would lead to) felt pressured. A book a year. Deadlines. Alterations in the story. I once attended a debut book signing by a mystery writer. She was traditionally published after years of trying with the same book. Her contract included seven more mysteries as a series to follow the original book. She told us this with deer-in-the-headlight eyes.
In the time I’ve waited for a response from the agent I met with at the writer’s conference I attended, I gave some good thought to which manner of publishing I’d prefer. The answer for me was: Being able to work at my own pace; being able to write in different genres; receiving a greater portion of the book royalties; hiring my own peeps to work on the book, was self-publishing. The caveat: One Must Market! But one must market even with a traditional publisher.
In spite of the fact that I met with the agent at a conference, which in the past meant a reply of some sort, I never received an answer on the two queries she requested. The agency’s website clearly said if you don’t hear in thirty days, there is no interest in representing your work.
Querying agents is hard. A negative answer, or no answer, is rejection. But a rejection doesn’t mean the book isn’t great. The agent’s choice is a subjective one.
After much thought, I am happy being an indie publisher. My book bravely heads to Amazon with a zillion other new books. The difference will be Marketing!
I’ll start here. If you go onto my website: and sign up for my email list, you’ll be notified when I do give-aways of either Missing Emily or Silent Grace. They are two women’s fiction novels that stand alone, but are part of a trilogy. In about three or four days, check them out on Amazon, and read the great reviews!

A Writer’s Thanks Giving

Bitter Berries

Bitter Berries

It is the beginning of the Happy Holidays. When we eat bad food that tastes good; get together with distant family; go to parties and catch up with friends. Happy. But when bad things happen, these holidays make the pain worse.

I am always so grateful for my writing. I know I share this gratitude with other writers. The work of writing a novel is not about becoming famous, but for the ability to string together an entertaining book. The added gift of telling stories is the control you have over the lives of your characters. I am able to turn a bad diagnosis to a healing; send an abuser to prison for life; allow a poverty-stricken life to change with a lottery win. I’ve even been known to remove a bad person permanently from a good person’s life.

For those who have sorrow or worry on their plate, take heart in this quote from Kahlil Gibran:

“Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”

That Darn Back Blurb



So you’ve written nearly 100,000 words. You’ve revised the manuscript 100 times. You’ve had 20 people read for you, then you revised it 50 more times. It’s perfect! It’s ready!
All you have to do is write down the 100,000 words to about 250 or less and slap it on the back of your book.
I struggled for hours yesterday and came up with a bunch of words that convinced me no one would ever read Silent Grace. Yuck!
Thank God for the internet! Today, I visited two websites:, (who knew blurb would have its own website!) and Thank you to all the folks who bring writers such terrific information on the web. I highly recommend both of these sites if you’re struggling with your own blurb. No charge, just have at it and go back to work. I did. I rewrote the blurb based on the data I mined from the two sites. I am so much happier and confident it will intrigue readers.
Next, I send it off to my trusted and capable critique partner. If she likes it, it’s a go. And Silent Grace is one step closer to publication.

Self-Publishing – Is it for you?

Very Early Self-Publisher!

Very Early Self-Publisher!

It has been a little over three months since I self-published my novel, Missing Emily. Some musings on how I feel now.

Every resume I put in for my many nursing positions–as my husband’s career involved frequent moves–contained the words “detailed oriented”. I also listed problem-solving and organizational skills. Those attributes were not my natural talents; they were learned, beginning with my nursing education. You must be sure you are administering the correct medication. You must hand the correct instrument to the surgeon. In order to care for multiple patients on a hospital shift, you must be organized.

When I began to write, I utilized those same skills. It was a huge learning curve. Writing is not instinctive. Over centuries, published writing styles have changed right along with the changing societal mores. Charles Dickens’ writing style gives me a blood sugar spike. Hemingway’s less-is-better started a whole new diet of written words. But few writers make such tsunamis when they publish a book. Most of us write because we must. Because we have stories to share, or a memoir of all or a bit of our lives we want our family to read.

I learned about writing novels. Current trends in reader popularity. I had great helpers along the way, coaches and teachers and conference speakers. When my first manuscript was ready, I began the agent search. More to learn. Query letters, synopses, credentials. I was moving forward, made it to semi-finals and finalist in some contests. Had some exciting manuscript requests, and some bummer rejections. A lot of bummer rejections. I was still climbing the hill when a dear friend, who has 11 million books of her own in print, offered me a hand up to self-publish. Her peeps became my peeps. I formed my own tiny publishing company (another learning curve), worked with a book designer, David Seager, who is fabulous; an eBook converter, Diana Birdsell, who is also fabulous. My friend, Donna Green, the artist with all the published books, who runs a foundation for children with cancer, took time to do an extraordinary illustration for my cover.

My Amazon reviews are all good, even the ones from people I don’t know. No Hemingway or Dickens, just a writer who learned her skills and lucked out with a story people like.

Self-publishing is a huge job. There are years before it that are filled with learning, wins and losses, ups and downs. There are something like 8 million books on Amazon—the absolute best place to sell a book. But think of yourself as a grain of sand on a beach, not a sand sculpture. A star in the sky, not a super nova. It’s wonderful to see your book page on Amazon! The problem is there is no filter for books that are not ready to be published. The filtering that agents and editors do for publishers. So, how do you make your book stand out?

The stigma of self-publishing is way less than it used to be. But because many not-ready books are for sale, barriers exist for self-published writers. One I recently experienced is with our local weekly newspaper here on Cape Cod. They restrict all “author published” books. I get that.

Good News. The industry is still changing. A group of book bloggers are helping to sort the good from the bad. Some publishers offer self-publishing assist and may take on the writer if the book is good enough. Agents are working with self-published authors whose books stand out on Amazon.

Bottom line: Learn your skill. Work at it and don’t be impatient. Enter contests that give you reviews; query agents who may give you some advice or encouragement. Have fun! Go to conferences and yak with fellow writers. Keep learning and keep working.
I may be a wavelet and not a tsunami, but publishing my book is one of the best things I’ve ever accomplished. It’s amazing fun. I wish the same for all of the writers out there!

Writer’s Media Kit

Missing Em Books Pic

I have one more item to add on the Media Page for my website media kit. What’s a media kit, you ask?
A media kit is a combination of photos and text documents that busy journalists or book bloggers may download. They may use them verbatim or as a base. They may pick and choose which items they will use.
As always, there is a plethora of information on the internet given freely to help writers market their books. Imagine what it was like before the internet. A day at the library searching current information and taking longhand notes. Or carrying home a load of books to research. Now, a few clicks and some well-posed questions, and you have answers, many of them. I usually copy info from two or more sources and pick and choose what seems the best for me. A beginner. A newbie.
Creating the website itself was a challenge. I did mine on Godaddy, and though I read negative reviews about their customer service, they have been terrific. If you don’t have a website, start there. It’s your business card.
On my Media Page at present you will find pictures of me. Self-promotion is personally difficult—it was a bit of a challenge. I also have buttons to click, one for a press release, one for a sell sheet. Feel free to check out my website, The last page is the Media Page. It has its own URL, that way, I can refer to it in my press release.
Now here’s what I need your HELP with. The last item for my Media Page is FAQ. It provides several questions and answers for a busy journalist or blogger or interviewer to use. Every time-saving item you can provide raises the chances one of those people who help you market will take you on.
If you visit the website, and there is a question that comes to your mind, will you let me know? You might have read Missing Emily, and have questions about the book. Or about my writing in general.
Thanks again to all of my follows on this blog!

Getting My Gulls in A Row


I have “Peeps”! Very special publishing peeps! I’ve taken the first steps to publish my novel, Missing Emily. Easy. . . . NOT.

Before you even start the process, you have a ton of preliminary work. Of course, you start with writing the book. It might take you a year, maybe two or three. That’s the easy part.

You have your Author photo taken. For me, on the hottest day of the year on Cape Cod. Then choose from forty-six different shots, with my family all choosing a different one. While I cringe at all of them.

Try to keep the list of acknowledgements to two pages. How many people have helped you with the first book you are about to publish? When I think I have everyone, I wake up in the middle of the night and remember another person. And another. What if I leave someone out? Won’t they all look for their names? Is it too early to apologize?

A dedication page. Who is the most special person in the world to you? Easy on the first book, perhaps. What about the next five?

An author bio. What if you’re not Jodi Picoult? She has a bio that would fill a book all by itself. What if you haven’t ever published anything before? I have to say something. Uh, I can bake a mean pork pie?

Back blurb, story description, ISBNs–one for eBook, one for print book. Copyright. Bar code?

My gulls have a few gaps, but I am on my way!




Start at Go – My Publishing Journey

My Writer's Grab Books

My Writer’s Grab Books

Many of the followers of this blog are writers like me. Some of you are beloved family or dear friends, who have shown the most generous spirit to help since the day I embarked on writing. So, I am not journaling the steps to a published book for self-promotion, but I want all of you who know me, all of you who are on your own writing journey, and any of you who love to read and might be interested in how that debut novel arrives on the shelf, to follow me on the path of publishing my first book.

I was not the child with her nose in a book, or who scribbled stories since she was six. I was at the playground, riding my bike, exploring in the woods, and climbing trees to take pictures of bird nests.

A long time ago, I took a night class at a local high school. Every week we handed in a writing sample, which the teacher edited. Every week her notes said not to use the passive voice. What? What is a passive voice? Years later, my first real writing began with an illness. A friend brought me a journal and told me to write it all down, and it was freeing. So, when another trauma came along, I wrote it all down. That time, it became a novel. Sow’s ear to a silk purse?

That’s how my writing journey started ten years ago. The learning curve has been huge for me, a nurse who never studied literature. I wouldn’t give up one day of it. After classes and conferences, teachers and mentors, support from family and friends, five novels under my belt, this Thursday, I will take the first step toward publishing my book.

If you are a writer, please tell me how your own writing journey began. As always, all comments are welcome, but make sure to use the active voice!

A Writer’s Riff

Pasta Stickers

Pasta Stickers

Two characters are roaming around my brain: Julia is a widowed mom approaching forty and soon heading back into the work force. I think she would be pretty, but the last few years have taken a toll on her looks. Alice is a precocious six-year-old about to enter first grade. She’s small for her age, has brown hair, and wears glasses. She was born with serious heart defects and has undergone multiple surgeries, the last one two years ago.

I had a plot for them, but it kept putting Julia to sleep, so I pulled the rug from under them. Because they won’t leave me alone, I’m working on a new plot.

Did Julia, hungry for some romance, fall for a man who turned out to be an abusive control freak and now she needs to get away? No. She’s too smart for that. Did her best friend fix her up with her brother who secretly picks his nose? Yuck. Or after mourning her late husband and dealing with Alice’s surgeries alone, Julia needs a vacation extraordinaire. Should they have an adventure on some exotic island? Should I put them in an RV and send them to a National Park where Julia falls in love with a handsome ranger who adores Alice? What if I make her an investigative journalist whose subject puts her and Alice in danger and they have to go into hiding? Should I send them to Cape Cod where Julia falls for an oyster shucker in Wellfleet who turns out to be an undercover FBI agent? But I don’t write mysteries. I write women’s fiction.

Riffing is like throwing pasta against the wall and seeing if it sticks. A stream of thoughts quickly scratched out from the right side of the brain. I don’t think any of the noodles here will stick, but feel free to tell me if you like one of them! (I’m grinning.)

Hemingway’s (?) Six-word Novel

Feb 2014 026

I just sent off the second of my two agent-requested submissions. So, I thought I would knock off and muse a little on novels. Since my recently completed novel is 93,000 words, and I am wallowing in the calm after-effects of submitting my work, I thought I’d muse on Hemingway’s six-word novel. At least this novel is attributed to Hemingway, but not substantiated. Here it is:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
One sentence can be powerful. Six words can tell a story. It can be packed with emotion, make you sad, or make you smile. Warm your heart, or start you thinking.
You can use a six-word power sentence within you novel. It can make a strong statement in the right place. The hook—the first sentence of a novel is one. The cliffhanger—the last sentence of a chapter is another. Or it can have a line of its own in the middle of a chapter—making a transition, showing an epiphany, or provoking thought. A power sentence can be used as a weapon, an apology, a profession of love, even a death knoll.
But in this case, the six words tell the whole story: For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
Here’s a few of my six-word novels:

He insisted. One for the road.
She accepted the leash and wept.
The knife was bloody. One fingerprint.
The ashes are buried. Now she’s free.
Haunted house for sale. Owner motivated.

Send me your six-word novel. I know many of you are great writers. Six little words.