So I was talking to my good friend Ysa on twitter–she’s currently on the hunt for a beta reader and/or critique partner. Now back in the day…WAY back (cuz I’m old and decrepit), there was a thread on eharlequin.com. That’s how I found mine. I even started a critique group. It still exists over on Yahoo Groups but no one’s posted anything in ages. Matter of fact, two of those authors went on to be bestsellers.

Anyway…It got me to thinking that…WE NEED A TWITTER HASHTAG!!!
So here it is #CPWL aka Critique Partner Wish List.
Use the hashtag. Post what you’re looking for, word count, genre.

Here’s an example:
Looking 4 Beta Readers 4 YA Romance, 75k words. #CPWL

Or this:

Looking for Crit Partners who write YA Dystopian. Prefer experienced writers. #CPWL

Or this:

Looking for Beta Readers who enjoy erotic romance and read fast. #CPWL

It’ll be like Tinder for writers…or #MSWL for writers 😀

So go forth and hashtag people!!! Find one another, make connections, and edit like the wind!!! I’ll be monitoring the hashtag and helping out when I can.

Processing the Process

Last year from January to June I vomited up what, for me, is an ungodly amount of pages, mostly on proposals so, of course, none of them are done. One is still being shopped while two are shelved for the time being.

BUT from July to December I wandered around angsting about not getting any writing done. Yes yes please save the scoldings. The truth is that from July to December the dayjob kicked my ass but somehow I DID manage to get some writing done. I wrote 50 pages on a southern fiction piece and then flipped 100 pages of another proposal from 1st present to 3rd past, and edited the first 120 or so pages on yet a third proposal (the one still out). The second project still needs another round of edits before it goes back to Agent Holly and the first project is probably shelved until later this year because it’s a book I’ll have to finish (new genre for me) to shop.

Now, here’s the kicker: It’s January again and I just vomited up 15 pages yesterday on a brand new bright and shiny (don’t worry Holly, I also cracked the mystery that was chapter 2 on the manuscript I’m editing). I am a firm believer that a) ideas need time to cook and b) no two WRITER’S writing processes are the same. I know I’ve commented/blogged on this before but c) sometime I even forget my process and d) sometimes no two single PROJECTS are written the same way.

All that said, I feel like I’m pretty in tune with my writing process…except I think I’m going to have to add another letter in there…

E) I only write from January to June???

*nodding* it’s definitely a possibility. So what’s my point? Pay attention. 😉

Because Bad Girls Give It Away!

Merry Christmas!! The lovely Jackie Barbosa came up with the idea of doing some lovely free shorts for readers. We’ll all be posting one a day for the next…uh 10 days LOL…so check back either here or at each respective author’s blog!

[download id=”14″]

*just click on the title to download the PDF file.

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Mercury You Bitch!

From Astrologyzone:

The planets are acting like little gremlins. On one hand, you have Mars in Leo, making you courageous, energetic, and ready to conquer the world. You’ve been moving at the speed of light since mid-October, but now you must allow some of that power and light that you created to carry you forward into March on its own.

That whole ‘speed of light’ thing is 150% true!! Unfortunately maybe only 1% of that 150% applied to my writing. And now, when I have two weeks to write n stuff Mercury is going retrograde!

Mercury will go retrograde this month in your sixth house of work projects from December 25 to January 16. This means you may have delays or re-dos in your work projects. Take it all in stride. Every human activity requires backtracking if it’s to become the best it can be.

By the way, with Mercury going retrograde, you must be sure not to buy any electronic items after December 8. If you must, give a gift card, but it’s more fun if you choose the item in December’s first week, wrap it up, and hide it under the bed! (BY THE SKIN OF MY TEETH PEOPLE! SKIN…TEETH!)
Keep in mind, however, that Mercury will be retrograde and spinning confusion as early as December 9

Not only that, according to my ‘scope, it starts earlier than the 25th. Don’t believe me? Last time Mercury went backwards, I spent a week trying to get the bosses computer to take the Vista Service Pack 2 update. And yes, you could blame it on Micro-crap but there were other things. Earlier this month I put new memory in a co-workers computer which should have been a five minute job. It was more like an hour. I spent 2 weeks setting up and tweaking a new computer for the boss, then it had internet connection issues at her house PLUS it wiped out all the hotkey settings. We went 12 rounds. Son’s XBox broke (not sure THAT ONE was all Mercury!)….and we’ve been having trouble with the postage meter machine’s scale for the last month, over Thanksgiving I couldn’t get the new router to install at work so the techy guru came out this last week. It took him a while AND THEN he couldn’t get the copier to see the wireless adapter I’d installed 🙁 He’ll be back…preferably after Mercury is done effing up my technological world.

But take heart! Mercury isn’t all bad. It’s a great time to think, to reflect on the stuff behind you and to work on revisions *cries*

The Little Manuscript Girl by Raine Weaver

From Raine….who wrote this three or four years ago and EVERY DAMN YEAR I ask her to repost it so here we go!


Once upon a time there was a girl who loved to write.  It was only when she was writing that she felt happy, for her life had been hard and brutally led.

Despite her kind heart and loving nature, the girl could find no comfort.  She lived in a starving artist’s loft during this most bitter of winters with no heat, surviving on ramen noodles and rice.  During the icy days she took to the streets, trying to sell her matches, dime bags, and maryjanes.  But with cluckers lurking in the alleys and undercover cops sniffing up her skirt, it was becoming ever so hard to make a simple sale, and the girl grew poorer and poorer as the weeks marched on.

Only during the frigid nights did she truly feel alive, when she could work on the romantic tales that made her happy—Hot with Heart.  Stories of studs on steeds, and jeweled nipple rings, and heroines sitting on rough, bearded faces until they came so hard they squealed for joy.

But her meager pennies were spent on stamps for submissions that disappeared in the dark maws of slush piles, and no one seemed to hear her cries.

Finally, upon this night, the coldest in recorded history, her little fingers were too numb to hold her nib of a quill.  Her stomach cramped with a terrible gnawing need that chewed away at her hope, and even her small drink of water had turned to ice.  Every now and then she moved her dainty, dimpled bum around in the seat to keep from freezing.  Even her wee coochie, as yet untouched by man, clenched and wept for warmth, distracting her from her work.

She could not even feel her feet beneath her shabby wooden chair, and the last ember of her poor fire gasped on the hearth.

“There is no help for it.”  She whispered to herself between chattering teeth.  “It is my best hope, my dearest love, my last existing manuscript…but I fear I must burn it or die.”

Twisting her last chapter into a roll, she lit it with the sharp flick of a match and tossed it into the fireplace.  Oh, how brightly it burned for a moment or two!  And in its light she imagined she saw a smiling publisher, contract in hand.

“Oh, my.  What a beautiful vision!  That must be what heaven looks like.”  Determinedly gritting her teeth, she sacrificed another chapter to the hearth.  And behold, in its golden light she saw an agent wielding a six-figured sword.

“There it is!” she cried.  “That’s it!  My dream, my dream!”

The poor urchin was so excited, she sacrificed her complete manuscript to the magic flames, basking in the short-lived warmth.  It was there in the vision before her, everything she’d ever wanted.
So overwhelmed was she by the revelation that she ran downstairs to Hans, her crackhead landlord, and shared her vision.

“Trippin’ off burning paper, eh?” he twitched.  “Well, you might as well add this to the bunch.  Here, this letter that came for you just before the weather turned.  Something about an acceptance.  I been holdin’ all your mail until you payed your freaking rent, but…”

It was The End.

The Little Manuscript Girl never wrote another romance.

Continue reading

Can U Smell What I’m Cookin’??

*glances around* Don’t tell my agent okay, ya’ll?

I LOVE the smell of fresh WIP bubbling in the oatmeal pot! I hate worldbuilding. HATE IT. *Cries*
Okay I don’t HATE it but … we have a sort of co-dependant, one-sided, love/hate relationship. I need it but I don’t necessarily want it. And if I write anything that remotely hints at paranormal, I don’t get much writing done until the world has solidified (the plot…the world…it goes together). Be right back…I need vodka. So the writing is slow but at least I’ve gotten some writing done in the last two days. Love holiday weekends, hate the running (though I am happy to see family since we don’t get together often enough). I could get the living and dining room painted but for Thursday.

Anyway, better late (or early depending on how you look at it) then never..I’ve got some Dear Gentle Writer Q’s for you:

Dear Gentle Writer…Can you recommend some good websites to find basic info for us newbie writers? Things like manuscript formatting, how to write a query or synopsis, where to find submission guidelines, etc.? I’d be eternally grateful! There’s not a lot of time between job, family and writing to Google my way around the writing universe.

Lisa in WY

Dear Lisa Writer…Bar none, the best synopsis breakdown I’ve ever read, is done by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner-there’s even a section on writing query letters. Tricks of the Trade

Holly Lisle has some info up on formatting your manuscript: HERE. For the record, I don’t use 1.5 in margins. I use 1 in. margins (w/ 1.25 on the left and right) and I use Georgia 13 font. It’s easily readable and at 25 lines per page, comes out to about 250 words so my MS Word count and my estimated count are usually pretty close. A word of caution, if you are using Word, I advocate setting up your format first and turning OFF the Widows and Orphans because it screws everything up (Format | Paragraph | Line and Page Breaks | Uncheck Widows/Orphans and save a few braincells in the process).

Submission guidelines for epublishers are going to vary, so your best bet is to check individual websites. I know of no website that lists guidelines for all publishers–and keep in mind that most NY pubs only take agented submissions (Dorchester and Kensington seem to be the exceptions).

I checked out agents reputations and sent out queries to my top five. Then it occurred to me I hadn’t thought beyond this point. Help! What are some things should I ask an agent, if I get a call or e-mail regarding representation? Things that would help me make a decision about representation. I don’t want to come off looking like the unprepared and ignorant writer I really am at this moment. LOL!

Dana in Cali

Dear Dana Writer….this could be an entire blog post all by itself!
Some basics though:
1. Do they use a formal contract and will they send you a copy?
2. If they work on a handshake, what happens if things don’t work out? If you don’t feel comfortable asking this question, the SOP is to give them 30 days notice in writing.
3. What’s their standard percentage on a sale? (15% for domestic and 20% on foreign rights sold seems to be industry standard)
4. Do they have an idea of where to send your work? They don’t have to tell you where but if they’re really enthusiastic, they’re probably already thinking of editors to pitch it to.
5. How hands on are they? Do they work a lot via email or snail mail (yes some agents still use good old fashioned snail mail)?

And once the conversation is over, tell them you’ll get back to them. There’s no need to agree on the spot–especially if other agents are also looking at your work. IMO You need to take the time to see what else is out there before you commit.

Here’s a good article with some questions you can ask, but (IMO) you should already have an idea of what they’ve recently sold (either from their website or Publisher’s Marketplace). You might also check out Noah Lukeman’s Ask a Literary Agent.

All that said, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself too. Namely, what do YOU want in an agent? Do you want an agent who is very hands on? Do you want to be notified every time your agent receives a rejection? Are you prepared for the expense of mailing multiple copies of your manuscript if the agent wants you to? (I once had to send a former agent five copies of a mss.)? Do you want your agent to edit you? Do you want an agent who is kind of like a friend as well as a business partner or do you want an agent who is strictly a business partner? Do you know where you (ideally) want to be in five or ten or fifteen years? Do you want to write in one genre only or multiple genres? These are some things you need to make sure you share with the agent(s) you speak to so that you’re both clear up front about what you want. If your agent doesn’t know what your goals are, they can’t help you get achieve them.

I know writers who are on their fourth or fifth agent and I know writers who have been with the same agent for twenty-five years. Sometimes our needs and desires change…and your mileage may vary.

So dear gentle readers, anyone have anything to add?

LBLI Workshop Question

So I’m planning at least one workshop for Left Behind and Loving It but I’d like to do more than give away books and gift certificates. I’d like to do something that would help an author out.

Would the writers out there be more interested in me giving away a couple of query critiques or maybe me critiquing the first five pages of your work??? I”m totally game and would love to do this, so please leave your thoughts below!

Otherwise, it’s hotter than Hell here and the kids being out of school are totally throwing me off schedule.  Not to mention a tree fell on the house–we’re fine.  It wasn’t actually a tree, more of a branch–that’s as big as a tree and taking up half my back yard. Pics to come as soon as I find the camera cord.

At least I’ve been reading:

Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts

Wake by Lisa McMann (picked up Fade at Target this morning.  U would be proud-I only bought one book)

Red’s Hot Honky Tonk Bar by Pamela Morsi (which I got in the mail from Borders yesterday).  Yes I”ll admit it was the cover that caught my eye 😀

I told Jackie it’s really sad–I got two books yesterday, Wake and The Neighbor less than a week ago,  Need by Carrie Jones, which I still haven’t read, about a month ago and at least half a dozen from the UBS about five or six weeks ago.  In my defense I HAVE read some of them! LOL

Oh and HAYYYYYYYY My Pimpin Poobah vid is up at Ann Aguirres!

The Hardest Thing & June Challenge

So over at SFC last Friday Raine blogged, asking the question: What do you do to challenge yourself with your writing? (and I don’t mean as far as quotas, but as far as craft).

It’s a great discussion with lots of interesting feedback if you want to check it out.

You can’t raise two halfway decent kids, almost completely alone by being afraid–unless you want to end up in a straight jacket.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a single parent AND as a writer, it’s that while our fears are real (to us), we can’t let them consume us.  There are worse things in life than a rejection.  As a writer, and most importantly as a writer who wants to stay published, I think it’s important to challenge myself, to push myself to new limits, to try things even if they suck, no matter how much they make me whine etc…. I tell my children, often, and said at SFC, there is no failure in trying, there is only failure in NOT trying.  I stand by that.

And one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten was from a writer who said, “Don’t follow the pack, lead it.”  I’m still working on that one LOL

But by far, the hardest thing I’ve had to learn as a writer (and probably will continue struggling to master for a long time to come) is how to walk the line between what I want to write, how I want to write and what will sell*–when you manage to hit the trifecta, my friend, it’s GOLD–the equivalent of a writing orgasm :D.  And yes, there are some peeps who will rattle on about artistic integrity….blah blah blah *vomit*. Feel free.  I have children to feed and my own moral compass to live by. I don’t need yours, but thanks so much!

*Case in point, this weekend, I tackled something I’ve been putting off for two or three months–the flipping of abt 100 pages of a proposal from 1st person present tense to 3rd person past tense. I even asked Charli and Gwen and Jen to take a look.  Initially when I flipped the first twenty or so pages, it hurt, I cried, I gnashed my teeth, I drank lots of Coke andddddddddd I HATED HATED HATED the end result.

But after not writing all last week, by the time Friday rolled around, I kinda got smacked upside the head with a fix that I actually liked.  So I spent the weekend chopping, flipping and tweaking (ok that sounds REALLY werid).

I still prefer first person, and as I added new material found myself slipping into first more than once, but overall I’m really happy with how the third person turned out.  It didn’t hurt and it didn’t feel weird, so I think the other changes I made to the ms. helped make the third person version work.

JUNE WRITING CHALLENGE: I’ve pleged to write 50 pages in the first ten days of the month and 150 pages for the entire month. Raine and Denise are joining me with 100 pages AND Melissa Blue has pledged 50 pages.  Anyone else want to weigh in for the June Writing Challenge, feel free to join us at any time.  I need to find a word count meter that does pages instead of words….anyone?

Major Writer Fail

I don’t think I wrote 1000 words this week–I sitll have today to meet my #Vano goal of 22 pages but I don’t see it happening and that’s okay.  Really want to spend today cleaning even if it’s nothing more than an exercise in frustration–and then I’m off tonight for coffee or something with Jen.  I spent most of the week piddling and playing with a bunch of different projects including a YA I started in 05–Thank GOD I’ve mastered the fine art of POV 😀 Whoa–talk about bad LOL. That said, if I can come up with a plot the idea might still be viable. Yeah it had no plot. Not sure what I was thinking.

Also came up with a revision plan for another idea that I want to play with tonight and tomorrow. Overall, I think I just overdid it and need a little time to refill the well 😀

Also wrote first article for LBLI.  It’s pretty um harsh so I might send it out to a few friends to look at.  Thinking about doing one on writing from a dude’s POV since it’s something I do well.  Might also tackle writing supporting characters–also something I do well, unfortunatley I’m not sure HOW I do it well…I Just do and I keep getting asked to write something on Writing Great Sex Scenes (again apparently I do it well, i’m just not sure HOW I do it well) LOL And maybe one on Fear of Success and another on Writer’s block.  And I have a blog post on Beta Males stewing in my head.

I know I know! The life….so full of excite!

Currently reading: Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry (Zombies…yes!)

Between A Rock and a Hard Place

I know, I think, I blogged about this a while ago. And I know there are authors out there working fiendishly toward a New York contract who might want to beat me for what I’m about to say. But that day has finally arrived. The day when I’m officially NOT under contract.

I suppose the blog title is a bit misleading because I’m not actually between a rock and a hard place. Funny though what a difference a year can make. Last summer I had no agent and was officially NOT under contract for Aphrodisia (and still waiting to hear on my option book). I was TERRIFIED I wouldn’t get a contract. Terrified that I really sucked ass, this story really sucked ass, and I would also never get another agent let alone another contract. Obviously, I got another contract and another agent. And a little over a year later, I’m back where I started but not terrified. I’m actually relieved.  And over the last year I think one of the most important things I’ve learned is that I don’t have to go 70 MPH all the time. It’s okay to take the scenic route, it’s okay to take bathroom breaks on that roadtrip (esp with two kids and a full-time job. 3 cats and a stupid dog).

Not to say I’m doing nothing…I’ve got critiques to do. I’ve got at least two if not three women’s fiction proposals to write/edit/tweak, a couple erotic shorts I need to crank out for Cobblestone and Lord knows what else I”ll come up with–not to mention a kid in football and another in HS this year.

I’m even taking two days off work so I get five days off this weekend. I know, you know that. But not only will I be writing, I’ll be cleaning house *ggg*