Monthly Archives: July 2012

Writing from the Womb (Blast from the Past)


This is a repost from August 2009:

I read a post recently on agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog about not saying in a query how long you’ve been writing unless it’s relevant. Apparently, some people like to include that they’ve been writing since birth, thinking that will impress an agent, or that it serves as valid publishing experience. I am not such a prodigy. I don’t remember birth. In fact, like most people, I don’t remember much of the first 4 years of my life.

However, I remember writing a mystery story in 7th grade. It took place on a cruise ship and was influenced by Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, and Agatha Christie. A friend read my first 12 pages, hand-written of course, and told me it was “vivid.” I lost steam after that.

I wrote a song on the piano in 9th grade. Oh, let me clarify – I wrote lyrics and a melody. My brother can still sing it more than twenty years later:

I’ve worked hard the past few years,
Now it’s gonna pay off.
Hard work, persistence and talent
Are all I need,
To go to the top… (la la la la la)

Here I go, I’m on my way,
Not gonna let anything stand in my way.
I’m goin’ all the way
To the top.
Gonna be number one
When I go To the top.

Not surprisingly, my career as a songwriter was short-lived.

In high school I took a creative writing class, wrote poetry, and even entered a contest (got an Honorable Mention!). I also lazed around a lot on the hammock strung between two huge trees, and sang to myself in English and French, while contemplating the big issues in life. Crushes, avoiding helping my dad in the garden, friends, where do people go when they die, my annoying my little brother…

In college I took a course on reading and writing short stories. I wrote three short stories and had them critiqued by the class. We then revised our stories and had a private conference with the professor. This definitely prepared me for my life as a writer today. Critique groups, conferences, consultations with editors and agents.

I started writing a novel in graduate school (I have a Master’s in International Relations), influenced by my year as a student in Paris. Unfortunately, my computer kept crashing in the middle of writing papers, so my father replaced the motherboard. Bye-bye novel. That experience taught me to always back up my work.

Now here I am, all this time later, four manuscripts under my belt, the fifth underway. Querying agents, attending conferences, critiquing and being critiqued. Most of this information won’t end up in a query letter, but it has made me who I am today.

Maybe I should revisit that novel set in Paris…

Update July 2012: Six manuscripts under my belt and a seventh underway. I’ve definitely learned persistence.

What has made you who you are today?



Filed under The rest of my life, writing


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Overview of Dark Isle

When evil begets evil, a choice is forced on Quinn, the one person who can see  the danger. Does she save the ones she loves, or does she save the world from  Chaos?

As the realms of Fae and human collide, Quinn’s future has never looked so grim, or so damn impossible.

Genre- Urban Fantasy

Overview of Enemy in Blue

The streets aren’t safe when your enemy wears a blue uniform and a gold badge.

What if the good guys weren’t good?

What if a cop went rogue and killed an innocent man?

What if it was all caught on video and the cop would do anything to cover it up? Chase this lawless cop through the streets and to a scintillating series of showdowns with Cruz Marquez, a young attorney trying to nail down his enemy in blue.

Will justice be served?

Genre- Thriller

Overview of Land of the Noonday Sun

When two strangers have nothing left but their dreams,
they must forge a relationship in Nantahala, North Carolina, a small town known as Land of the Noonday Sun. A man with a traumatic past is able to turn his life around and is happy with his chosen career as a whitewater guide. Everything changes though when fate hurls a woman into his path. His carefree life is in turmoil, and his former weaknesses threaten to overtake him. Will he be strong enough when tragedy strikes and is
once again in danger of losing everything he loves?
Genre- Contemporary Romance
Overview of This Time Forever

Delaney Brannigan and Blake Morrisson
met at the Cedar Cove annual costume dance, known only to each other as the leopard and the cowboy–but, as Delaney soon discovers, the cowboy she’d
thought had ridden off into the sunset never to tempt her again, is none other than the man she came from New York to find and discredit. Against her will,
Delaney is drawn deeper and deeper into an overwhelming attraction to Blake–an
attraction she can’t give in to if she wants to keep the one thing she values more than anything else.
Genre- Contemporary Romance

Overview of Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula

Fourteen-year-old Cassidy Jones wakes up the morning after a minor accident in the laboratory of a world-renowned geneticist to discover that her body has undergone some bizarre physical changes. Her senses, strength, and speed have been radically enhanced.

Lives are put at risk when they find themselves embroiled in a dangerous, action-packed adventure. Soon they are forced to confront a maniacal villain willing to do anything – including murder – to reach his own ambitious goals.

Genre- YA/MG Superhero

Overview of Gray Justice

Gray Justice is the fast-paced debut thriller from Alan McDermott. When a killer walks free from court, the victim’s father sees just two options: accept the judge’s decision; or take on the entire British justice system. Tom Gray chooses the latter and his crusade
attracts instant worldwide media coverage. It was just what Tom was hoping for, but it brought him a lot more than he bargained for.
Gray Justice is much more than a simple tale of revenge: it’s a rollercoaster ride with an ending you’ll never forget!

Genre- Thriller
Overview of Gone at Zero Hundred 00:00

“Their lives are in the hands of two 18-year-olds…”

A Prominent P.I. is gunned down – killed by a sniper – and it’s broadcasted on live TV.

Now, her daughter, along with her childhood pal, are thrust into a complex and riveting thriller forced to take on a secret club whose members call themselves
The Privileged Ones.

Murder. Teen abductions and illegal underground

They’re chased by men in ski-masks, nearly gunned down by members of a cartel, and the only way to bring down this criminal enterprise; is to crash a Mardi Gras bash and stop their private cruise ship from sailing off into the sunset.


Overview of Allegiance

Who do YOU pledge allegiance to?

After exposing one of the most notorious rings of police corruption in history, lawyer Cruz Marquez planned on starting a new life south of the border. That plan unraveled when an extremist group of Minutemen captured and tortured him and his wife.

Will Cruz pledge allegiance to do right, or will he do anything to serve up revenge?

Genre- Thriller

Overview of Curbchek Reload

Curbchek-Reload is a dark account of the streets as they were worked by Zach Fortier, a dangerously deranged cop. Welcome back to the inner city and
the twisted mentality of Zach Fortier. Patrolling the streets, broken and mentally damaged from years of urban violence, Zach fights a losing battle to
maintain a hold on reality. Join him in the passenger seat of a police cruiser for more of the darker and meaner side of life: The inner city. In Curbchek-Reload you get a front row seat to an attempted murder of a cop, suicide attempts, rapes, and DARK cop humor. Curbchek-Reload – Fasten your bullet proof vest and buckle your seatbelt, it is gonna be a wild ride!
Genre- Police Procedural 
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Filed under Reading

Shades is Out in the Wild!

Shades of the Future
by Suzanne Lilly is now available by ebook (on Amazon and from Turquoise Morning Press) and will soon be available in paperback.

I read it last week – devoured it in two days, actually. Shades is a sweet young adult romance with a lot of emotional ups and downs.

Here’s the blurb:

What would you do if you could see your future? Would you try to change it? What if you couldn’t? Sometimes this thing we call “the gift” is really a curse.

Mariah Davis loves animals, running, and her hunk of a boyfriend, Kevin Creamer. Everything looks bright for her until the day she finds a pair of sunglasses that allow her to see the future.

When she glimpses a disaster looming, she tries to avoid it but fails. She has a car accident that lands her in a wheelchair, smashing her hopes for a running scholarship to the veterinary program at Ohio State University. She pushes Kevin away, thinking he’ll want to end their relationship now that she can’t walk.

Will she ever learn to trust and love again? She could search for an answer in the sunglasses. But she’s afraid what they reveal might destroy her.

This is a perfect beach read: quick, romantic, and sweet. Enjoy!

What’s your perfect beach read?


Filed under Getting Published, Reading

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Vanished

Author Shannon Whitney Messenger began Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays a while back. If you love middle grade literature, check out her blog on Mondays for a list of other sites featuring MG books.

Today I’ll talk about Vanished by Sheela Chari.

From Goodreads: Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrumentused to be her grandmother’s—made of warm, rich wood, and intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon. When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, Neela is devastated. As she searches for it, strange clues surface: a teakettle ornamented with a familiar-looking dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse. The clues point all the way to India, where it seems that Neela’s intrument has a long history of vanishing and reappearing. If she is able to track it down, will she be able to stop it from disappearing again?

From Vicki: This book is sooooo up my alley. Multi-cultural elements. Music. Mystery. An exotic setting (at the end). And it did not disappoint.

Neela’s love/hate relationship with her veena reminded me of my own middle school years with my oboe. I only wish my oboe had such a history! I was taken enough by the story that I had to look up veenas online to see if I was picturing the traditional Indian instrument correctly.

And like any great middle grade novel, this is a coming of age story. Neela discovers herself and the person she wants to be while uncovering the mystery of her missing veena.

What’s your favorite book that combines a “foreign” culture and the arts?


Filed under Reading, The rest of my life

Embrace the unknown

In May I started acupuncture for my migraines. Two different people told me it had worked for them, and then I reconnected with a friend who is now an acupuncturist but lives too far away. She gave me a recommendation to someone affordable (that was key since my insurance won’t cover it) nearby.

We’ve made some progress, but we had been missing the key to MY migraines. We may have now found that key, but it will take time to be sure my body has really learned to heal itself. (RocketMan: Stop rolling your eyes.) I decided to jump into this with both feet. And that made me wonder about the kinds of ways we embrace the unknown in our writing.

Pantsing it: This is not something I do. I need to know what I’m writing, where the story is going, and at least several points along the way. I need to know who I’m writing about and how he or she will change. I also like to know who will help and hinder my main character.

But lots of writers do work this way. I’d love to hear from some of you. Why do you write by the seat of your pants? What is different about the experience for you than if you outlined first?

Going with the gut (another cliché): One could argue that every new manuscript is an unknown. Something (or someone or somewhere) inspires a shiny new idea and we run with it. (Man, I am full of them today. Hee hee.) We jump into the new story idea and its world and characters and we hope that after a lot of hard work and a lot of revision and a lot of polishing that it might turn out to be THE ONE. Or THE NEXT ONE for those of you already published.

Every new idea is unknown until we write it and develop it.

I would imagine that choosing an agent and an editor are two more ways that writers embrace the unknown.

What other ways can you think of? What have you jumped into lately?


Filed under The rest of my life, writing

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Breadcrumbs

Author Shannon Whitney Messenger began Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays a while back. If you love middle grade literature, check out her blog on Mondays for a list of other sites featuring MG books.

Today I’ll talk about Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu.

From Goodreads: Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. They had been best friends since they were six, spending hot Minneapolis summers and cold Minneapolis winters together, dreaming of Hogwarts and Oz, superheroes and baseball. Now that they were eleven, it was weird for a boy and a girl to be best friends. But they couldn’t help it – Hazel and Jack fit, in that way you only read about in books. And they didn’t fit anywhere else.

And then, one day, it was over. Jack just stopped talking to Hazel. And while her mom tried to tell her that this sometimes happens to boys and girls at this age, Hazel had read enough stories to know that it’s never that simple. And it turns out, she was right. Jack’s heart had been frozen, and he was taken into the woods by a woman dressed in white to live in a palace made of ice. Now, it’s up to Hazel to venture into the woods after him. Hazel finds, however, that these woods are nothing like what she’s read about, and the Jack that Hazel went in to save isn’t the same Jack that will emerge. Or even the same Hazel.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” Breadcrumbs is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.

From Vicki: This is a beautiful coming-of-age story about friendship and loss and fitting in. While I didn’t have a friend like this growing up, I can relate to not feeling like I fit in. As I grew up, however, I realized that I fit in better than I’d thought, and that there are plenty of others who feel that way, too.

Here’s what my son, A-Read, had to say:

I was inspired to read this book because my mom said it was a good book.

Hazel is an 11-year-old girl who was adopted from India and is brave.

The main problem is Jack is acting weird.

I liked this book because it had a lot of fantasy and I like fantasy.

A connection I made while reading this book was they like Harry Potter and I like Harry Potter.

I couldn’t resist ending on a comical note.


Filed under Reading, The rest of my life