Monday, August 31, 2009

An Award? How Awesome!

A big shout out and thank you to Laura Martone (Laura's Simple Pleasures & American Nomad) for honoring me with "You Don't Say? Super Comments Award"!!!

If I haven't said this before, Blogger's online community is amazing, awesome, spectacular, super, and above all - really, really fun! Not only do I love leaving comments, I love reading them. I love how people just "get it" and can relate to what I'm saying. Especially my fellow writers out there.

With that being said, I'd like to pass the award on (as that is the only requirement =) to five of my fellow bloggers. While these five individuals don't always comment on my blog, I love following their comments on some of my favorite blogs. These bloggers are intelligent, funny, inspiring, and just plain old nice folks. So, here they are:

Mira (Come in Character)
Rick Daley (My Daley Rant)
Debra Schubert (Write On Target)
Bane of Anubis (Bane's Blogging Blues)
Jennifer Bennett (Jennifer J. Bennett)

Thanks again for the award Laura!

Anyone else having a problem with their links acting as rollovers? I have no idea what's going on!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Indie Bookstores Are Awesome!

The past few days I was up in beautiful Petoskey, MI for a wedding (that was gorgeous by the way - and so much fun!!!!).

There's so much about Petoskey that I love -- it's posh and urban chic, and yet picturesque with a hometown feel. Fellow writer and awesome blogger Laura Martone knows what I'm talking about. She blogged about how lovely Petoskey is in her Monday Munchies: American Spoon Foods entry earlier this month.

But it wasn't the cafes that I fell in love with this past weekend. Nope, it was Mclean and Eakin Bookstore. Now before I go too far talking about how much I love this independent book haven, I have to confess that YOU'VE GOT MAIL is one of my all time favorite movies. Okay, having said that, Mclean and Eakin reminds me of the Shop Around the Corner from the movie. Fox Books bad. Shop Around the Corner good.

Okay, secondly, for living in a big city (well, fairly large) I've never spent much time in an independent bookstore. But I can tell you that after visiting Mclean and Eakin, I want to. I want to live in that bookstore. Because unlike the comp titles with their fancy marketing strategies and what not, independent bookstores are filled with staff recommendations and local flavor. No one paid a fork load of dinero to have their title placed on the front table. One of the staff members just liked the book and placed it there--with their name on it on everything! The bookmark is a beacon saying: "Hello, I love this book. It's amazing. You should read it too!" It was so refreshing. And comforting. The place felt like home.

In all honesty, I walked around the store just soaking it all in.

Okay, that's a lie. I did walk around, but that's not all I did. I dreamed. I utilized the moment for a little creative visualization, imaging that I was there for a book signing (mine of course). I even took an extra ten minutes staring at the store's flyers announcing upcoming guest authors and pictured my name on the list. It was right there. I saw it.

So change in plans. I used to dream about seeing my book at B&N, but not anymore. My true dream is to walk into McLean and Eakin, chat up the staff for a few minutes, and stare at my book on the shelf. Oh, and have a book signing there, maybe two, and a cookie reception. With frosted sugar cookies. Pink sprinkles. And coffee. Make mine a latte.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Eleanor Roosevelt - Quote of the Week!

Eleanor Roosevelt was a smart woman. Okay, so that might be the understatement of the decade. The woman was a genius - with words anyway - and quotes, which is why Thursday from now on (or until I run out of quotes) will start the official ELEANOR ROOSEVELT QUOTE OF THE WEEK.

Why Thursday you might ask? Surely quotes of the week should begin on Sunday or Monday, but then again this Eleanor Roosevelt we're talking about. The woman was unconventional. And amazing. President Truman called her the "First Lady of the World" because of all of her awesome human rights achievements.

Side note: did you know that her and FDR got married on St. Partick's Day - how cool is that? And Mrs. Roosevelt received 48 honorary degrees?! Amazing! (thanks Wikipedia!)

Okay, so back to my QUOTE OF THE WEEK. To kick start this lovely new tradition I give you the first quote:

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.

So I ask you - are you living life, experiencing it to the utmost?

Those that know me know that I seriously try to everyday. I think that goes hand it hand with why I write--it makes me feel so alive!

Now the second part of Eleanor's quote is a little bit more difficult. I'll reach out eagerly all day long, but without fear? Well, that part's not quite so easy. But as writers we have to remember that fear, more importantly, facing your fears is important if you're going to master this industry.

Fear of rejection (whether it's from an agent, editor or publisher), fear of success or failure, fear of writer's block, or deadlines, or reviews - are all part of the territory. But it's not so bad. Fear's what makes us human - makes us understand our characters, their personalities and motivations. It's an emotion that allows us to able to write such amazing stories.
And everyday that your conquer your fears makes you one more ounce stronger.

So experience life - every single molecule and mystery. Embrace fear - realize that you're stepping into unchartered territory, exploring a new adventure. And smile - because life is so much more fun when you're happy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Writing buddies

What did I say about being a sucker for distraction?

I forgot earlier to give a shout out to Madison for being my proofreader extraordinaire (that's her working below).

And to Ms. Mia for her constant writing advice. Here's a pic of us working together.

Okay, seriously getting back to editing now.

Must. Stay. Focused.

It's a rainy morning in mid-Michigan, which is a good thing. Hopefully it'll help me focus. Yesterday I once again experienced editing ADD.

You know - Read a page, check my email. Add an adjective, fold the laundry. Read another page, get the mail. Reread a page, let the dog out. And so on and so on.

I'm a sucker for a distraction.

Well, today I have no excuse. Although I have already been bopping around on blogs this a.m. But, I'm not going to explore the Internet anymore! Okay, well, not until I finish reading Chapter 6. I guess I better get started!

Oh wait, I think the coffee's finished brewing. What's another five minutes?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Keeping Busy

You can only reread and proof your manuscript so many times, which is why the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to keep busy around the house. For example, I’ve repainted the exterior of my home (including all 18 shutters), stained my front porch, reupholstered my kitchen chairs, baked blueberry muffins, apple pie and banana bread, and today I made homemade chicken noodle soup and chocolate silk pie.

See? I’m staying busy.

Next I’m going to tackle painting the kitchen… pretty soon the friendly folks at Home Depot and Menards are going to get sick of seeing me!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Writing Contests

Have you ever entered one?

Technically I have; it was the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I say technically because my novel really wasn't ready to submit, but I went ahead and sent it anyway. It was good practice. A learning experience as they say.

Well this week I'm at it again. But this time I'm submitting BEAUTY SECRETS to the 2010 St. Martin’s Minotaur/ Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition. I'm really excited about this competition because it seems like an excellent opportunity to get my novel "out there." I just received my contest application in the mail this week, along with the editor I'm supposed to send my manuscript to -- a fact that seems cool all on its own (I know, it doesn't take much to excite me).

So in case you were wondering, that's what I'll be working on this week. You know, reading my novel aloud, taking another pass through with the red pen, and revising yet once again. I think I'm becoming a bit obsessive with the whole editing process, but I can't help it. Each time I revise, the novel gets a little bit better; it feels one more breath closer to being alive.

Off I go - wish me luck!

Friday, August 21, 2009

What's Your Literary Diet?

Eric over at Pimp My Novel shared this link to Get Reeled In's "Literary Diet: How Do You Measure Up?"

I LOVE this article!

Here's how it works:
  • Bread and Grains = classic literature, poetry, drama, contemporary prose
  • Veggies = nonfiction, non-celebrity bios and memoirs
  • Fruits = Sci-Fi, Fantasy, graphic novels, et al
  • Meat = historical fiction, detective fiction, women’s fiction
  • Dairy = chick-lit, YA, romance
  • Sweets = celebrity bios/tell-alls, trashy novels
So, how does your diet stack up? Is it balanced?

For me, I've never been a fan of carbs, so sorry to say I don't "eat" a lot of bread and grains. Now fruits? Those are delicious. And Meat? Gotta love meat, especially steak (aka detective fiction). Diary? Yep, I like that too. But sweets? Not so much.

So, I guess you could say my reading diet is pretty balanced-- a little bit of fantasy, a dash of mystery, some YA sprinkled on top, and romance blended until smooth. That sounds about right.

But that's just me. What about you?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Scaredy Cat

Yep, that's me. So how'd I end up as a mystery writer? Well, that's a good question.

I can honestly say that there’s no way in H, E, double L hockey sticks you’d ever find me at a crime scene or near a dead body. Cozy mysteries are about all my PG writing brain can handle. Not that I’m a girl scout or anything, but murder and mayhem scare the bejeebes out of me.

I blame it on an active imagination and an older sister who subjected me to one horror movie after another throughout my childhood. Even when I was little, I’d run out of the living room and down the hallway whenever a movie got too scary.

As I’ve gotten older, I still run down the hallway, but now it’s to the computer room where I search online for the movie’s synopsis. As a matter of fact, that's what I was doing when this post popped into my head. My hubby and I were watching KNOWING and it got way too creepy. I know, terrible, isn’t it? Thank you Wikipedia for revealing the apocalyptic plot.

Which brings me to why I love writing mysteries so much. I know what's going to happen. It's not so scary when you know who the killer is. That, and I love creating literary puzzles and daring my readers to solve them.

Bet you can't guess who the killer is... hehehehe

Alright Versus All Right

Okay folks, what's your take on this: Alright versus All right.

Me? I'm more of an "alright" kinda gal, but is "alright" even a word? Well, that depends on who you ask. According to Encarta, Alright means "satisfactory: in a generally good, satisfactory, or pleasing way" when used as an adverb, and "pleasant: generally good, satisfactory, or pleasant" when used as an adjective.

Okay, that sounds alright to me. So, what's the problem? Well, Encarta also says:

Alright has never gained wide acceptance even though it is to be seen in the prose of many well-known writers such as Langston Hughes, Gertrude Stein, and James Joyce. It is generally regarded as nonstandard, and so should be avoided in formal writing unless it is purposely included in fictional dialogue or another special context in which a particular effect is sought by the writer. Use instead all right, which has all the meanings, including "satisfactory," associated with alright.

Grammar Girl
basically says the same thing (I'm paraphrasing here) - "All right" is the correct spelling of the phrase, but "alright" is gaining popularity.

Oh the love of the English language and its constant flux. Honestly, I could really go either way with this one - I'm a fan of "alright" but Encarta's reasoning does make sense. What about you? Care for one spelling over the other?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wanted - An Agent

Books are highly subjective; a fact that I'm reminded of every time I visit the library--or attempt to read a Best Seller/literary acclaimed masterpiece that just doesn't "do it" for me. Which is why finding an agent is tough.

Some days I can't even find a book that I want to read, and now I'm not only trying to find someone that wants to read my book, but one who feels passionate about it too.

I'm not really asking for much--just someone to manage, guide and negotiate my career. Who wouldn't want to do that? I'm a nice, professional, creative girl who's determination and positively are sure to be an asset in this business.

So, if you are an agent who loves cozy mysteries, iced vanilla lattes, dogs, NCIS and down comforters, I'm currently accepting applications.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Last night while I was clipping my toenails (no joke), a Garth Brook's song popped into my head.

Do you know which one?

The River.

Which to me was very fitting because an hour previous I was wandering around Barnes & Nobles grumbling to myself in a momentary fit of jealousy. All the while realizing that damning successful authors wasn't going to do me any good (karma for one, and well, we should also all want each other to succeed - there's room on the shelves for everyone).

So thank you Garth Brooks and my Guardian Angel for the gentle reminder.

Here's the lyrics - feel free to sing along (or better yet, check out the YouTube video, it's amazing)

You know a dream is like a river,
Ever changing as it flows,
and the dreamer is just a vessel,
that must follow where it goes.

Trying to learn from whats behind you,
and never knowing whats in store.
Makes each day a constant battle,
just to stay between the shores.

And I will sail my vessel,
till the river runs dry.
Like a bird upon the wind,
these waters are my sky.
I'll never reach my destination
If I never try,
So I will sail my vessel,
till the river runs dry!

Too many times we stand aside,
and let the water slip away.
And what we put off till tomorrow,
has now become today.
So don't you sit upon the shore line,
and say you're satisfied.
Choose the chance to rapids,
and dare to dance the tides.


There is bond to be rough waters,
and I know I'll take some falls,
with the good Lord as my captain,
I can make it through them all!


Reality - Keeping Me Grounded Since 1982

Earlier this week Editorial Ass blogged about "The Reasons to Make Your Delivery Date", and I have to admit, they're all pretty damn good reasons. Who doesn't want reviews, blurbs, audio rights deals, publicity events, etc.?

For authors like myself (the unpublished ones) I love articles like this. They open up a world that without the Internet would remain a mystery. I enjoyed one comment on the blog in particular by Jamie:

"This is so frustrating to someone trying to break into the publishing industry. Here we sit, working our asses off to try to get our books read by agents, and that author's got it ALL!

How about you let one of us living in query hell right now give her a call... maybe remind her how easily replaced she is? :)"

Yes, this comment made me smile too. I get that deadlines are scary and writing under pressure can feel impossible. You had a lifetime to dream and write your first book, and now your second is expected in months - eek!

But still, how awesome is that? You made it. Writing is your legitimate profession. It's your job. I think the problem is that some people are in love with the concept of being a writer, but don't understand what the job actually entails.

It's like people who dream about moving across the country or becoming entrepreneurs. These dreams are their "happy places". But at the end of the day, life is still life, no matter where you live or where you work. It's fun to try and romanticize it all, but don't forget the reality - no matter what your dreams are, reality will be there right beside you. And to me, that's a good thing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Times New Roman - The Killer of Creativity

Ah, the joys of font. Who doesn't love Georgia, Arial and Verdana? But Times? Ick! I can't stand it.

And I think I know why

As some of you know, in addition to my creative endeavors, I also am an academic girl. I've been in college for 9 years and I'm planning on two more before I'm finished. Earning a PhD in English is no picnic - either is teaching it (but a girl's gotta earn some cash while pursuing her publishing goals, ya know?). Hence, I'm bombarded with Times New Roman every single day!

So, you must understand why formatting my MS into 12 pt, Times New Roman font is a little heartbreaking. Suddenly my creative words loose a little bit of their spunk and the pages feel so formal, impersonal and what not. I don't even want to read the darn thing - and I love my novel!

Which is why I save formatting my MS pages until the very. last. minute. Because any second an agent is going to request a partial (heck, maybe even a full!!!) and I've gotta be prepared.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Query Help

As you know, I'm working on my current query letter (if you didn't know that, see the immediate post below). While scouring the internet I stumbled upon a recent blog post by Janet Reid, "I don't feel bad in the least bit" where she addresses query letters and the inability of writers to tell what their novel's about. She doesn't want marketing, she wants meat.

I know this. I know it, I know it, I know it. Then why do I always included marketing lines in my queries?!!!?

I would like to contradict Ms. Reid's statement that "the people who are doing this have never read this, or any other blog. They've certainly never availed themselves of the hundred or so examples at QueryShark." Because trust me, I read agents' blogs, I fret over my query letter and I submit said letters to query workshops (AQ Connect for one and recently the Public Query Slushpile).

Writing query letters suck. Bottom line. Writing novels are "fun." Selling them are not. BUT I'm not going to complain (anymore) - I'm going to keep revamping my query letter until a wonderful agent is able to read it and feel as passionate about my mystery novel as I do.

Onward, ho!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Query: Beauty Secrets

Okay my fellow writers out there - who loves writing query letters?!



If you're like me, you probably write several different drafts all of which seem awesome at first, but then quickly feel... what's the word... Lackluster.

Nevertheless, here's my recent attempt at my query for BEAUTY SECRETS:

Beauty Secret Representative Keira Diaz was out to sell lipstick, not solve a mystery. An early morning house call to client Marion Siebold changes that. Marion’s playboy husband is missing and unknowingly Keira is the first to arrive at the scene of the crime. The Beaufort Police Department quickly dismisses the case; their resources are already stretched investigating the kidnapping of a little girl. What they don’t realize is that one man is the key to solving both crimes.

Keira’s gossiping beauty clients hold the clues to the case, propelling her investigation forward. With these clues, Keira vows to find Marion's husband. What she wasn’t planning on was finding him dead—or befriending the murderer.

When you write genre fiction it’s important to bring something new to the table. Beauty Secrets accomplishes this by creating its own niche within the themed mystery novel market. The protagonist, Keira Diaz, is an independent beauty representative (think Avon or Mary Kay). Her profession gives her daily access to people’s homes, their private lives and the neighborhood gossip. Combine this with Keira’s natural curiosity and determination, and you end up with endless mystery-solving scenarios.

BEAUTY SECRETS is complete at 62,000 words. If interested, the full manuscript is available upon request. For more information about myself or my writing, please visit my blog at

Friday, August 7, 2009

Hooking Up - The Scenes That Is...

Anyone else have this problem? I've been lost in the world of editing for the last few weeks (obsessed with it really) and I just started querying again (oh what dread!). My manuscript sparkles, but the format? eh...

Here's my dilemma: I write novels in scenes, short 1,000 word sections. Currently BEAUTY SECRETS has 57 of them and I can't figure out how to combine them into chapters. How much do agents really care about format? I have no idea. Anyone have any suggestions on how to combine scenes or what agent's opinions are?

I'm going to search the archives at a few of my favorite agent blogs and see what I can find out.

Who Do You Love?

Plots aren't the only thing that keeps us readers reading. Nope my friend, every now and then a character comes along and Wham! You're in love. So I must ask, who are your all-time favorite fictional loves - boyfriends, girlfriend, lovers, platonic pals, etc.?

Top on my list would be Mr. Darcy. Because I of course make the perfect Elizabeth Bennet (Elizabeth is my middle name after all), and because Mr. Darcy is so elegant and proper. He would be a fun chap to corrupt. =)

And Edward. Oh my dear sweet Edward Cullen--you are a tool. Awesome literary boyfriend, pain in the butt real life boyfriend. Can you imagine dating a guy who was better than you at everything? Besides the fact that he also worships you. So much so that he can't stand to live in a world without you. Sounds poetic, right? Or stalkerish. Nevertheless, I love him still.

Which brings we to Teo Sandoval (Love Walked In & Belong to Me). Not only does he have gorgeous looks (C'mon, the man's half-Filipino, half-Sweedish and his skin glows golden warmth like sunlight) BUT it's not just looks; he's also human. He makes mistakes, acknowledges them, and works hard for those he loves. Good man.

Now, platonic pals would have to be Garnet Lacy (Tall, Dark & Dead). She harbors a goddess in her belly, has an awesome vampire boyfriend, and is a loyal with a capital L friend. Definitely someone worth having on your side.

That's my top 4 - I could write more, and I might have to. But for now that's where I'm leaving my list. What about you?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

You Tell Me: What's Your Writing Dream

Okay, so a few of you have asked me about my winning blog post over at Nathan Bransford's blog a few weeks back.

So here it is in its entirety - enjoy:

By: Steph Damore (aka Allegory19)

You Tell Me: What's Your Writing Dream

You all have one right? The Best Sellers lists, literary acclaim, book tours, six-figure advances… or maybe your dream is smaller, like walking into the bookstore and seeing your novel on the shelf.


I have this dream. It’s summer time. I wake up at 6 a.m. and lie in bed for a few minutes. It doesn’t take long for my mind to wake up and the writing to start. Afraid the ideas will slip away, I get up and escape down the hall to the computer room. The house is quiet, and I can just write and write and write.

This is actually the dream that I get to live every day. I’m not published. I’ve never sold any of my work. But I’m blessed.

So what about you? What’s your writing dream?