Thursday, June 28, 2012

Feeling Frazzled? Some Great Writing Advice

Couldn't resist this photo. I've been feeling a bit frazzled these days, and this perfectly expresses my frantic struggle to keep up with life.

Ordinarily, my business plus my writing and freelance editing all keep me extremely busy, but now that I’ve added grad school to the mix, things seem to be spinning out of control. I love my classes, but projects and assignments mean working long into the night. Unfortunately, the wee hours of the morning are my usual writing time, so I need to wake super early to get any writing and editing done before I take off for classes. But the up side of this is that I’m on campus with some fabulous writers—authors whose work I’ve always admired. Multi-award winning authors who have won Newberys, Printzes, Caldecotts, National Book Awards, etc. I get to spend time with them, learn from them, and jot down their wisdom. So I thought I’d share a few tidbits from my notebooks in the hopes they’ll inspire you as much as they inspired me.

~You never outgrow a good children’s book. (YA counts here too.) You love it as child, but it has other layers of meaning that you uncover as an adult. So write a book that’s meant to be read on many levels.

~To uncover stories, look at any object, particularly something old or used. That object has a life, a history, and a past. What meaning does it have now? What did it mean in the past and to whom? What events did it see unfold? What if this object comes alive when you aren’t around? What does it do? Who does it interact with?

~Another story starter: What things meant the most to you as a child or teen? Find things that have sensory experiences attached—particularly smells, sounds, and tastes. Close your eyes and recreate the scene with all the details, then open them and write as much as you can remember. Often these memories are loaded with deep emotion that spills out onto the page. Use that emotion and sensory detail to create a story world.

~The real stories from the past are the ones only you know.

~ If you’re writing magic, fantasy, sci-fi, etc.; include real-world details that your readers can relate to. It keeps them connected and grounded as they travel through your fantasy world.

~Getting things right the first time isn’t the goal. If you do everything right, you won’t learn.

~If you’re stuck in a story, chances are you’re telling it from the wrong POV (point of view). Switch narrators and see if it takes off. If not, ask yourself what you’re afraid of. Face your deepest fears, and you’ll bring honesty to the page.

~The left margin of any story is a magical place. It means you can start again.

And finally, one of my favorite pieces of advice:

~Use your mistakes to write stories.

Isn’t it good to know that you don’t need to despair when you’ve done something embarrassing? Put it in a book.

So what’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever heard? Please share it. These little tidbits can provide inspiration to keep us going through the rough patches, gnarly revisions, and even rejection letters.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Conference Season

In my last post on June 12th, I talked about how I met my agent through a conference.  I believe that conferences are the best way to meet an agent.  So today I thought I'd talk about, well, conferences.

I've been to quite a few, so I think I can speak with some authority about them.  Here's a list of the conferences I've been to, and the pros and cons of each.

Surrey International Writers Conference (Surrey, BC)
Hands-down, the best conference I've attended.  I've been numerous times, though I haven't been back in a few years.  What's great about this conference is that it makes the editors and agents very accessible to all the writers, with ongoing pitch sessions and critique opportunities throughout the entire conference.  They also get the who's-who of the bestseller lists: Diana Gabaldon, Jack Whyte and Anne Perry are staples every year.  The workshops are usually top-notch, and they cater to all genres, from romance and mystery to travel writing.  The downside is the cost, particularly now that the exchange rate with the Canadian dollar isn't so much in our favor anymore.

Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators Conference (Los Angeles, CA & New York, NY)
SCBWI is a great organization to belong to, especially on a local level.  And their conference is a great place to schmooze and hang out with other YA or MG authors.  I've attended their LA conference for the past two years and some of the speakers were outstanding, particularly Laurie Halse Anderson, Libba Bray, and Judy Blume.  (Judy Freaking Blume, people!  That was a highlight.)  But I'm not the biggest fan of the format of the conference; half the day is devoted to keynote speeches, and then broken out into workshops.  I prefer hands-on, informative workshops over the speeches because I feel like I'm really getting my money's worth.  And this conference isn't cheap.  Still, it's a great social event, and since writing can be so solitary, there's something really wonderful about that.

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference (Denver, CO)
This was the first writers conference I ever went to, and I think it's a great one for beginning writers.  It makes agents and editors accessible for pitch sessions, and it gets a good roster of speakers.  I've been twice, and the second time I was further along in my career so I didn't feel I got as much out of it as the first time.  Which is why I think it's great for beginning writers.  Plus, it's not nearly as expensive as some of the other conferences I'm listing here.

Historical Novel Society North American Conference (changes locations)
This is a British organization that holds a conference in North America every year; the next one is in June 2013 in Florida.  This is the conference that I met my agent through, so it holds a special place in my heart.  Obviously, it's devoted to historical novelists, with workshops on 19th-century costuming and how to stage a battle scene.  At this conference, writers ask each other, "What period do you write?"  It's kind of like ComiCon for the history nerd.

These are the four biggest conferences I've been to (each of them more than once).  This year I'm also attending the YA Day at RWA Nationals, since it's practically in my backyard this year.  RWA (Romance Writers of America) Nationals is one of the biggest conferences is existence, but I've never been since, technically, I don't write romance.  But with so many romance publishers having YA imprints nowadays, the conference has become very YA-friendly and now has a day devoted to YA.  I'll be attending with another Downtown YA blogger - Anne Van - so we'll report back.

And if any of our readers have other conference information and advice to share, don't be shy!  Some of the conferences listed above are coming up soon, so don't delay if you want to attend!

Nicole Maggi writes YA - paranormal, historical, and beyond.  Her debut novel, WINTER FALLS, will be released in 2014 by Medallion Press.  She's represented by the fabulous Irene Goodman of The Irene Goodman Literary Agency, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband Chris, their daughter Emilia (after the Shakespeare character), and two cats Sawyer & Hurley (after the LOST characters).  Yeah, she's a geek.  Check out her website & follow her on Twitter!

Monday, June 25, 2012


Self Plagiarism? Who knew right? And how the heck do you plagiarize yourself? I read an article about it this last week so went into research mode.

This seems to be the new buzz word in the copyright news. Everyone from a professor who ran for public office to a reporter for a prestigious magazine are being hit with accusations of self plagiarism.
So of course I had to look into it. This issue stemmed from the annals of academia and journal reporting. An author of a non-fiction work would use significant portions of an article he'd written before, and with little changes in a “newer” work. Rather than revamping, and providing new material and expression, the author basically is, to be blunt, lazy, and just uses what they've already written in a new article.

This is not the same as building on prior research with new data or findings, but really just using what the author has already written. And people have been doing this for some time. However, as with most things, the internet and media have made it easier to discover these foibles, and the spotlight is turned on to put these authors to shame. The political motivation is an easy one to see. I gather that finding a well paid journalist who didn't bother to rework an article written for another publication, while being paid well at the present one, didn't sit well at all.

There is the argument that it is impossible to plagiarize oneself. It is however cheating, often selling or using an article for some sort of gain. In the academic arena of publish or perish, it is a good way to boost the resume. In the public world, it is a bit of fraud to many. But is it plagiarism? If the author owns the copyright then it is even a bit more problematic. Often journals will own the copyright upon publication, as transferred to them via contract by the author.

It may be difficult to plagiarize oneself but even so, it is probably the best description for the underlying fraud that is perpetuated on the public and readership in most cases. But does that mean I can't use material I've written say, in this blog, for a journal article some day? It really means that if I want to do the same subject, I'm probably better off recapping briefly and then moving to a substantially new article with some new ideas, and viewpoints, that offers a different cut on the subject matter.

It is a slippery slope. If you, as an author, write for a variety of publications about character development, then if you use the same article for one venue and then publish it in another, you run the risk of someone calling foul. No matter that it is YOUR material, it seems to hinge on that nebulous quality of what is “right”. Neither of the two individuals that were described above have lost their jobs, yet. But for the wanna-be politician, it hurt her campaign and the owner of the journal made it clear publicly that they were not pleased. The public shaming is going to hurt, right or wrong, even if not based on law.

There are a lot of software programs that look for plagiarism, so if someone wants to go after folks, not that hard to do these days. But does this mean your fiction works are under the same burden?

Let's think about the basics of copyright. It has to be original expression, with a minimal of creativity per the cases, as expressed in a fixed medium. This means that when you copy your former owned copyrighted material, you would be self plagiarizing. I think that the issue again is not as much legal as the expectations of your readers. They are not buying a book to read what you wrote, with just a minimal amount of changes or additions, five years ago. They are buying a new book and want to read it now. If you take a short story, again one where you own the copyright, it is a bit different. But be careful to check before you move forward. Most anthologies of short stories and journals own or keep the copyright for a significant period. Be careful, and make sure the new work is significantly and substantially new. That way you don't have to worry about complaints from the peanut gallery, or worse, a loss of readership.

It should be interesting to see where this goes legally. For now it would appear to be much more about the appearance of impropriety than the legal issues, but I suspect we'll see some case on that soon enough.

Did this seem as clear as mud? Actually it makes sense, particularly when one views it as cheating in some shape or form. Not all self plagiarism is bad or even wrong, but when someone offers it as a new article then it really should be new, and not a cut and paste.

See you next time, until then, I'm doing a lot of geeky things this month, some are even legal!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Author Collaboration

Have you written with another person? I am writing fiction for the first time with a collaborator. I hail from an academic background, and in that setting, multi-authored projects are the norm. I’ve had several good collaborators for the textbooks I’ve written. Usually, our method is to select chapters to write based on our areas of interest. For instance, in the mental health textbooks I have written with Joe Walsh, a good friend as well as a co-author, he will take the schizophrenia and bipolar chapters as his work experience is with severe mental illness while I’m more interested in child disorders, such as ADHD and antisocial problems in youth, and garden-variety mental health topics, such as depression and anxiety. Then we trade chapters, and I will review and edit his, and he will do the same for mine. Joe is really good at creating elegant turns of phrase, and my strength is to research the studies that have been done in particular areas. In this way, we have written two editions of two different mental health textbooks.. I’ve always wanted to write fiction with another person, too, but the opportunity hasn’t come up until I heard that an agent was interested in a certain theme for a mystery cozy series. I was telling my critique author about it, and mentioning that I wasn’t sure I could write it when she suggested that we do it together. I jumped at the idea. Our process so far is that we sit down together at our local Panera’s and brainstorm about our suspects and what should happen for each day of the week that the sleuth will have to solve the murder. We take one day at a time, so that way it is not so overwhelming. We each agree to write up certain sections, and my critique partner created a Google doc, which I am using for the first time, so that we can work simultaneously without worrying about who has the latest version. We don’t meet again until we have done our “assigned” parts. So far, this process is working well for us, and we are roughly about halfway through at this point. We are both also writing other independent projects at the same time. I find it helpful to work on other projects at the same time, so if I get stuck on one piece, I can turn my attention to another. When I was at the Malice Domestic conference at the New Authors’ Breakfast at the end of April, there were a couple of collaborators presenting, and it was fascinating to learn the different processes partners have. In one partnership, one person would write chapter one, then the other person would write chapter two, and so forth. I couldn’t imagine going at it like that, but it apparently works for them, being published with a series for a New York house. Of course, that is what my critique partner and I hope for as well and that we will be writing a long time together through a book series! Have you written with a writing partner in your fiction? What is your process? Until the 9th, Jacqueline Corcoran

Friday, June 22, 2012

Inspiration Comes From Everywhere: Baking

Sometimes I sit and stare at the computer screen totally devoid of ideas.  My characters are hiding out and aren’t speaking to me.  Next, I resort to trolling the Internet doing research. If that doesn’t spark an idea, I hop over to Facebook and see what my friends are doing and hope that I read something inspiring. If I strike out there, I always end up at the same place---joyofbaking,com. Yep, when I’m stuck in a rut but don’t want to leave the house, I head straight for the kitchen and bake something sweet and delicious. This talent I learned from my grandmother. She was full of wisdom but one particular conversation we had one summer vacation made a lasting impression.

“Grandma, why are you baking a cake at nine o’clock at night? We still have some of the wonderful lemon meringue pie left?”

She gave me smile and reached for the sugar. “I have a big problem to solve.”

“But I think we have plenty of pie left for dessert tomorrow.”

Grandma chuckled. “That’s not the problem.”

“Then what is?”

She poured melted chocolate into the mixing bowl. “Your grandpa wants to buy a new car and I’m perfectly happy with the one we have.”

“You can’t get rid of Betsy. She’s a great car.”

Grandma stopped mixing her batter. “I agree. But I need to figure out how to convince Grandpa.”

“So you’re making a cake?”

“Exactly. Baking up something sweet and delicious works every time.”

Spoon and all, I hugged her. “I hope you have a problem everyday I’m here.”


Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Greetings All!

So, I was thinking about all the YA movies I’ve seen, the older ones like Harry Potter and the newer ones like The Hunger Games. I’ve been mulling around in my head for a time now about writing a screenplay. I write dialogue well and I’ve written plays before (took a class in playwriting once upon a time) so, why not segue to screenwriting?

My first foray into this was to check out Amazon Studios. It’s Amazon’s way of giving newbie screenwriters a chance to produce a movie by sending them a script and having their staff review it and putting it into their community for revisions. If they buy it you get a straight fee and if they turn it into a movie that sells over 60 million dollars you get more. Is this Amazon’s way of taking over the world of screenwriting like they have with Ebooks? Probably. Still, it might be a way for newbie screenwriters to get a shot, so to speak. Here’s the link if you want to check them out:

Next, I checked out screenwriting software online. The one that most screenwriters use is called FINAL DRAFT but it is expensive. They do have a free demo but it only allows you to upload 15 pages of script. As I was reading I found in one of the reviewers of Final Draft mention a free screenwriting site called CELTX and so I downloaded their free version. I haven’t used it yet because I am still in the research mode stage (get it, I said stage as in theater---LOL). CELTX has apps available for your mobile device. I downloaded their CELTX SHOTS because it’s supposed to be able to format your script into a storyboard format. I was excited when I saw this because I USE STORYBOARDS TO PLOT OUT SCENES IN MY NOVELS. After they’re written. I put them into scenes so I can make sure each scene makes sense as far as setting, characters, timeline and advances the plot along. CELTX has other apps, one is called CELTX SCRIPT which allows you to write on your mobile device or iPad. I don’t usually write on my iPhone so I didn’t download this app. A third app they have is CELTX SCOUT which allows you to take pictures to save for your scripts/storyboard.

Once I figure out how to use CELTX, I intend to format one of my books into a script. According to what I’ve read, most scripts for movies are about 100 pages long. Easy, peasy, right? I mean, I’ve written 300 page books, so 100 pages should be easy. A TV series script is even shorter at around 60 pages.  Now the question is, which book should I turn into a movie? Haven’t all of us thought about how our books would make great movies? Maybe you even cast the main characters already. I am guilty of that. I decided to choose one of my self-published books to format as a script.
Here’s the list I have to choose from and the genre/tagline (see? I’m already using screenwriting jargon):
WITCH HUNTER-15yo Molly visits her eccentric Tarot card reading aunt in Salem. Even the Tarot cards can’t predict murder.  YA
PLEASE TO SEE THE KING-collection of short stories based on English ballads. Not YA
AINE-16yo Aine discovers she’s not human. She’s a banshee. YA
FAERIE FOLK-Aine’s adventures continue with a dark faerie out to destroy her.  YA
NINA-17yo Nina tries to clear her father when he’s accused of setting an explosion that kills over 100 people. She discovers a secret too horrible to imagine. YA
FITZROY: THE BOY WHO WOULD BE KING-Henry VIII of England only illegitimate son he ever acknowledged. YA
INTERLUDE-a collection of short stories. Not YA.


So, which one should I choose? I also have five novels I am currently querying:
EIGYR-early life of Igraine, King Arthur’s mother. YA
THE VIDDEN-Dystopian with zombies. YA
FAMOUS-Contemporary YA about a girl no one notices who finds her own voice and realizes she has something to say.
ZOMBIE CRUSH-Contemporary YA/Paranormal Romance with zombies and government conspiracies.
BIRTHRIGHT-Space Opera with werewolves, selchies and dark magic. Not YA.

I could pick one of those instead. Hmm---lots to think about. Meanwhile, I’m going to learn the software. Which book of mine do you think would make a good movie? What about your book? 
Take Care, Until Next Time,

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Oh, Dang...

It's June 17th, isn't it? And that means it's my day to blog here... I apologize to my fellow Downtowners for posting late. It's been kind of a crazy week around here. Deadlines (nothing new there), my younger daughter's eighth grade "Moving On" ceremony, getting my kids ready for a week in Maine with their father and stepmother... Plus a couple mega-migraines that decided I didn't have enough going on so they stopped by to pay a visit.

So in other words, I've had a lot going on this week and had completely lost track of time. I was actually convinced that today was Saturday, until my husband left for work and said he was scheduled to be at the other location. I knew that was supposed to happen on Sunday...

Anyway, I hope everyone had a good week last week, and that the upcoming week will be even better. And for July 3, I promise to remember what day it is!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Funniest Question Ever Asked at Workshop!

It's been a crazy time in author-ville here for me.  Madly trying to promote and madly trying to finish the next book which is due in - oh just about 8 days - but who's counting right? Who? ME that's who! 

Anyhoo, this will be a short post - simply because I'm trying to make every minute count. But, I couldn't resist sharing one of the funniest comments I've ever had from a conference/workshop attendee.

In the past few weeks, I've work-shopped many, many people and I've travelled the length and breadth of the land so to speak. I've been to beautiful places and met beautiful people.  And even the person who made this comment falls into the beautiful category, even though it made me cringe and giggle at the same time. 

I was using my next book as a plot example, trying to illustrate that if you have several plot lines - as I do, then it's wise to connect some so that the whole thing doesn't seem too contrived.  

Anyway, as I laid them all out, one of the attendees said, 'You couldn't have made that up.'  

I stilled.  What? Had someone else used the same plot? Really? She thought I was plagiarising?!!!! 

'Why's that?' I asked trying not to show my concern.. 

'Because no one could have thought that up. You must have taken it from your own life...'

Ahem - now possibly it's time to reveal to you, my dear blog readers,  some of those plot lines that I listed:

An astro-planing guy who's not quite dead yet: a father with two separate families that neither know about; a stalker and a kidnapping. 

I looked back at that list, and for a moment I figured she had to be having me on. So, I  looked back at her, adding cheekily, 'Yes, you're right because my life is THAT twisted.'

While everybody else laughed, she stared at me knowingly. And I knew she hadn't been having me on; she'd been deadly serious!  'Hmmph! I thought so,' she finished smugly.

Meanwhile all I could do was stare. And wonder. I mean, surely those people who read our books know we make it all up, don't they? Sure we often draw from life  - we take situations and embellish and play what-if games; we draw on characters; we use locations - or use a blend of people and a blend of locales. But folks? For the most part? WE DO make it up!  

What's the funniest thing you've ever been asked? Doesn't matter if you're an author or not. But I'd love you to share the funniest professional question you've ever been asked.

In the meantime, have a happy week! Enjoy that northern hemisphere summer as we Down Under suffer through a damp and chilly southern winter. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How I Met My Agent

Everyone has a different story of how they found their agent, and here's mine.

Back when I first started writing seriously for publication, I was writing what I loved to read: historical fiction.  I love writing historical fiction. I love the research and the mental time travel involved. So it was natural that I would gravitate towards that genre.
My first novel is an epic American historical that is like a female Huck Finn. You can read more about it HERE. It wasn’t good enough to get published but it was good enough to get me an agent. And here’s how that happened.
I met my agent, Irene Goodman, through a conference. I believe that conferences are, hands-down, the best way to find an agent. Yes, they can be expensive, but if you are truly serious about being published, they are a worthwhile investment.
Irene loves historical fiction too, and she was the featured keynote speaker at the Historical Novel Society’s North American conference, which I decided to sign up for.  In the sign-up packet was a sheet to fill out if you wanted to get a pitch appointment with an agent (Irene). Basically, you had to pitch your book on the sheet and Irene would decide from that whether or not she wanted to hear about the book in person.
I filled out the sheet, using the “back cover blurb” pitch I had formulated in Mary Buckham’s online Query & Synopsis class. (Mary’s an awesome writing teacher whose classes I highly recommend. Visit her website for more information.) I sent the packet off, thinking I’d find out whether or not I landed an appointment when I got to the conference.
A couple of weeks later, I got an email from Irene. She wanted the first three chapters and a synopsis. This was about a month before the actual conference. I sent those off to her, again thinking I’d hear back from her at the conference.
About a week later, I got a request for the full manuscript.
There was a problem. THE MANUSCRIPT WASN’T FINISHED. Yes, I had pitched an incomplete novel which is kind of a no-no but everyone does it anyway. I had half a manuscript of good stuff and half a manuscript of utter mess. And when I say utter mess, I mean it. I literally had fragments of scenes with bracketed notes like “[major moment with love interest].”
But I had a request from an agent! I couldn’t ignore that.
Luckily for me, Irene was going on vacation, so I had about a week to whip the manuscript into shape.  I actually thought I was going to finish 250 pages in a week.  Yeah, right.  But I figured, "Hey, she's a super-busy agent; she's not even going to remember asking for this manuscript."  Haha.  I got an email from her the day she got back from vacation asking where the manuscript was.
At that point, I had to ‘fess up. I told her I had 250 pages I could send her while I was “tweaking” the rest. She said fine, send the 250 pages, which I did.
Two days later, she called and told me she wanted to represent me. This was all BEFORE the actual conference that had brought us together!
We met in person for the first time at the conference. She’s been my agent now for more than a few years - through one rejected book, one abandoned manuscript, one major genre change, some very deep lows and finally a sale. She was the second agent I ever queried. The first I had also met at a conference. He rejected it - good thing, too, because it REALLY wasn’t finished at that point. 
I realize that this may be an atypical road to representation and that those writers out there who have gone through hundreds of queries probably want to throw tomatoes at me. Everyone’s journey is different. And while my journey to my agent was a relatively easy path, my road to the Call has not been. 
If it wasn’t for that conference, landing an agent would probably have been a much harder path. So I’ll say it again - conferences are the best way to find an agent. Meeting them face-to-face gets you off the slush pile, which can help you immensely. It also helps you narrow down whether an agent is right for you or not; maybe on paper they seem like the dream agent, but in person they’re totally wrong for you.
So save up your money and attend a conference. It just might be the start of a beautiful friendship (with an agent).
 Nicole Maggi writes YA - paranormal, historical, and beyond.  Her debut, WINTER FALLS, will be released in 2014 by Medallion Press.  She's represented by the fabulous Irene Goodman of The Irene Goodman Literary Agency, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband Chris, their daughter Emilia (after the Shakespeare character), and two cats Sawyer & Hurley (after the LOST characters).  Yeah, she's a geek.  Check out her website & follow her on Twitter!

Monday, June 11, 2012

GEEKALEGAL: What illegal downloading means....

If you've ever wondered whether anyone knows whether you are illegally downloading a movie, you probably have answered it with a yes. Oddly enough, there are still a lot of folks who think it is ok to download copyrighted material. Be it a movie, books, or software, there are many ways that the owner of that material can discover who is downloading illegally.

What often happens is that there are law firms that do massive “John Doe” lawsuits, which provide the court with IP addresses and request that the servers give them the names and contact information of the person who illegally downloaded, say a movie. There have been a plethora of these suits nationally, and while there has been a fight to keep the server from providing that information, it is not always successful.

Recently a DC Federal Court magistrate ordered the ISP providers to give out the contact information for thousands of IP addresses. To object would entail filing in one's local federal court AND in the DC Court as well. The legal fees to do this are expensive. And even if one fights the order of the court, there is no guarantee that one will be successful.

So then a person is in a lawsuit. There are civil and criminal penalties, and the success of the firms is much in the 'quantity' range, where they take a percentage of the fees earned. Even more interesting is that some of the downloading is of pornographic nature, and that adds to the embarrassment and 'persuasion' factor.

Is this right? It is a heavy penalty to pay for downloading something that at most might have cost around $20.00. Yet people continue to download copyrighted material daily. Is this type of lawsuit having an impact on the greater community? It is not clear that it is doing much more than putting dollars in the pockets of lawyers. I no longer do litigation, that much anyway, but there are thriving practices on both the trolling side and the defense. And with courts not understanding the financial burden, or not caring, to a defendant it is going to continue.

As authors we are cognizant of the issues of copyright, and how it effects our own industry. If people continue to believe it is ok to illegally download something that they should have bought, then the problems continue. But is this kind of remedy appropriate and even more so, effective? Time will tell.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Inspiration Comes From Everywhere--Four Legged Buddies

Roku and Slick Getting Ready to Pounce

Like most people I have my off days. My writing to-do list sits in front of me and it’s the last thing I want to tackle. I find myself wandering onto my favorite blogs and spending way too much time on Facebook and Twitter. Anything but write! On days when my motivation is practically zero, only my four legged buddies get me out of my funk.

Slick, GT, and Roku know just the right time to pop in and visit. GT (named for the cute little white goatee she sports on her chin) will come up and rub against my leg wanting attention. She forces me to pull my eyes away from the screen and get busy on our pet fest. By the time I done I’m ready to get back to the business of writing. My fingers fly across the keyboard energized by GT’s long luxurious fur.  Slick, a tuxedo cat, (who earned his name by being one smooth operator) is the size of a large pug and manages to know just when to beg for more food. I have to get up and run downstairs and fill his dish. He’s the boss of the house for sure. Once I’ve fed Slick, I’m happy to head to the office and get back into my story.

GT and Roku Taking a Break

 Roku, a blue tabby, (whose name means six in Japanese ) is the new comer. She’s still a growing girl so she’s the terror of the house. A polydactyl cat, Roku has six toes on her front paws and five on her back. I swear this makes her run like a rocket all over the house. Roku loves to chase GT and Slick up and down the stairs and generally cause a ruckus. You’d think this would drive me nuts as I like to write in a peaceful house. But I always laugh at the scampering of paws and the way they meow like crazy to egg each other on. All I can do is smile.

So the next time you find yourself doing anything but writing, look to your four legged friends to inspire you to crank out those pages.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Greetings All!

With the whole Book Expo America (BEA) going on this week in NYC, it got me thinking about promotion. I do a fairly decent job of promoting my books (I think!) and, yes, there is always more I could be doing if I had a marketing budget. Here are some inexpensive (free) ways I promote my books:
1      Twitter-not only do I follow other authors but I also follow agents to see what they are interested in reading. My Twitter name is: @kathleea

2    Facebook fan page-I have both a personal FB page and an author one. It helps to post on your fan page every day. Mine is here:!/pages/Witch-Hunter/142372955812353

3    Websites: I have two. My original one is here: and my newest one is here: It’s important to keep up with your websites and update a couple of times a month, or daily if you can. Both of mine are free sites.

4    Goodreads: here I have both an author profile and a reader profile. I don’t use GR as much as I could but it’s another great site with over 9 million users. Here is my GR page:

5    Pinterest: This is a growing social media site for images. I put things I like on mine including my book covers. You need an invite to join and if you want to join please let me know and I’ll send you one. Here is my Pinterest page:

6    Scribd: Another social media site I just found! I put up two of my short stories there today. A great way to interact with readers. Here are my stories: SPACE JUNKET and THE BEGINNING (zombie apocalypse)

7    Tumblr: I haven’t explored this much but I know a lot of people use it.
Y    Yahoo Groups: I belong to several listserves through Yahoo!

1    SCBWI: Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. A great organization for children/YA writers/Illustrators. The Michigan chapter is very active and have conferences/events throughout the year. Check out their main page to join:

Y    You Tube: I put up all my book trailers on You Tube. Here’s the latest one for LORE OF FEI, my YA faerie fantasy:

I          If you can get readers to review your books (with good reviews) on either Amazon or Goodreads, you will have more readers. There are lots of bloggers who may be willing to review your book, it’s just a matter of finding them. I recently had an historical fiction blogger (Sir Read A Lot) from England review my YA historical book, FITZROY, THE BOY WHO WOULD BE KING and gave it three stars. I was thrilled with the review. I mean, hey, he is British and I was writing about a British King (Henry VIII) and his only illegitimate son (Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond). I call that good. To date FITZROY is my best selling book.  I am going to try and get more reviewers. If anyone is interested in reviewing LORE OF FEI, my YA faerie fantasy, let me know!!!

B   Business Cards: I got mine from Vistaprint ( and Moo Cards ( I got the mini cards from Moo and I hand them out to anyone who looks the slightest bit interested in one of my books. I also have swag I give away from Vistaprint, mugs, T-shirts, pens, key chains.

S    School Visits: I did one for a high school creative writing class and I enjoyed it. I’d love to do more but again, with working a day job, it’s difficult to find a time.

1    Kindlegraph: This site allows you to sign your Ebooks for readers. It’s a great way to connect with your readers. I’ve done it several times. Check it out here:

1    Book Signings: Hard to do for Ebooks but if your book is in print, schedule one in your local bookstore. I’ve done this several times and although the sales weren’t great, meeting potential readers was fun!

Okay, that’s enough for today. What do you do to promote your books/writing? If anyone wants to contact me my email is gaelicfairie (at) gmail (dot) com.

Take Care, Until Next Time,

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Step Into Historical Fiction

Hey all,
My apologies for not posting in a while. Life and work can get in the way sometimes. But I'm back!

I'm going to chat a bit on a historical novel I've written and is in the process of being critiqued as you read. Since I was a Civil War re-enactor for 15 years, it was easy for me to write about this topic. I had a plot idea, the setting was perfect, but I wanted to represent as much historical accuracy without the book veering into the realm of "Hollywoodized", so to speak. In other words, fake, or in re-enacting terms, farby.

The setting deals with two brothers, one who is a Christian and one who is not. One fled south while the other remained in the north. It is not a story of brotherly hatred, but of an unexpected antagonist, an officer in the ranks. The brothers, before the war broke out, were robbed on the street. In their defense, one of the attackers was killed. A court trial found them innocent of the incident, but the defending attorney, prominent and wealthy, never lost a case...until this one. And he also happened to be the uncle of the boy criminal who was killed.

Thus, the story follows Emory Gilroy's life in the 83rd Pennsylvania and his struggles with war and the officer, Lt. Carlisle. As the story continues, Emory battles the rebels and Carlisle while trying to find his brother, reportedly killed in action via a letter from his mother. The rest you will have to find out when it is released.

I chose the 83rd due to their prestige and the path of their battles during their 1864 campaigns. It involved many instances where I could describe a soldier's life and a bit more, yet it also gave me an opportunity to involve both of the brothers in realistic events. My experiences as a Civil War living historian gave me a ton of knowledge on how to describe some of what these soldiers went through. It is these descriptions some of my critique partners have said shed light on what these soldiers went through.

The battles were easy for me. One of my strengths in writing is describing combat in various forms, and by using my background in re-enacting and history, it was a no-brainer. But the story is more than just battle, its the human side of war; at least that is what I tried to capture. There is still some tweaking, but I am pleased so far with the result. This was my first novel spanning less than the 80,000+ words of my other works. So, look for the title, Enemy in the Ranks, in the future.
Take care,

Sunday, June 3, 2012

New Release!

My newest YA novel from Featherweight Press came out last week! In Dolphins in the Mud, Chris Talberman has spent six months in his new home in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, feeling left out and isolated. When his family moved, he left behind his boyfriend and friends. Thanks to his mother's unwillingness to let their new neighbors meet Chris's autistic younger sister Cece, Chris and his family have barely met anyone in Wellfleet. Chris knows kids at school, but isn't able to hang out with them because his mother relies on him to help out with Cece while she takes off to "run errands."

When a pod of dolphins strands in the cove outside Chris's house, Cece takes off to see them, and Chris has to chase her. Another teen guy helps him out, and that's how Chris meets Noah Silver, the first potential friend he's had in Wellfleet. And someone he thinks might have potential to be more.

Then Chris's life is turned upside-down. His mother leaves, and Chris learns that her "errands" were actually an affair. She's tired of caring for Cece, and she's done with the family. Chris's workaholic father turns to Chris to help with Cece, and Chris has no one to lean on except Noah.

But Noah has problems of his own, ones that almost lead to tragedy.

You can find Dolphins in the Mud on the Featherweight Press website.

Friday, June 1, 2012

To celebrate the release of Minder, I'll be running a month long contest. The winner  gets:
A set of butterfly pins--on right
A Starbucks gift certificate
A book dedication
A download of Minder
To enter: Just leave a coment at Sandra's Blog mentioning Minder and  include your email addie.


Among the northern tribes there is a legend passed down from generation to generation about shape-shifting Minders—guardians of the innocents—and how they came to be. 
It is said that nowadays only a handful of Minders exist, hunted to near extinction by a fearsome beast. Of the remaining Minders, only one wears a garnet-studded collar, the symbol of protection and royalty.  
Even when my aunt told me the story, and handed me an ancient garnet-studded band, I had no idea the tale applied to me.
After all, it’s only a legend…


We left Bayforks about five o’clock and once again cut through the forest. A Monarch butterfly fluttered over my head for a moment then flew away.
We were almost home when a deer leaped across our path.
“Oh look.” My aunt pointed at the tawny blur.
I’d already seen it. My butt twitched and quick as a cat I gave chase. I couldn’t believe my speed. I bounded easily over a fallen log. My blood hummed with joy. I chased the deer for a quarter of a mile through the winding forest then leaped. As I reached out to grab its flank, the deer kicked out with small hooves that caught me square in the stomach.
“Oof.” I flew through the air and landed on my butt, jolted back to reality.
“Oh crap. Not again.” I drew up my knees and put my head in my hands. What’s wrong with me? I began to shake.      
I heard racing footsteps but I was too embarrassed to look up. Aunt knelt beside me and put her arms around me. Her subtle fragrance enveloped me as she laid her cheek next to mine and rocked me as best she could. Her racing heart belied her calm manner. “It’s okay, Rora.”
“How can you say that, Aunt? I just chased a deer,” I mumbled.
To my surprise she laughed. “Not your usual reaction, I grant you. Come on, let’s get cleaned up. We can talk over dinner.”
I winced and grabbed my stomach as I rose.
“Are you all right?”
Before I could respond she raised my shirt. Goose bumps rose as the wind blasted my bare skin. I looked down. Two hoof prints stood out red against my toned abs. “I’ll be black and blue by tomorrow,” I grumbled even though I have no one to blame but myself.

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