Thursday, June 28, 2012

Urban Fantasy Novel to Help Kick Cancer Overboard

Everyone knows that urban fantasy novels involve kick-ass heroes and heroines with a softer hidden side.We write what me know, especially the softer stuff. So I little about me and some important announcements.

Self-publishing my first, but not last, novel, Dark Dealings has been a dream come true. It has open the door to so many new experiences and brought some many wonderful new people into my life.  Yesterday was a great day. I did my first radio interview with Krista-Lynn on her blogtalk program. We had a terrific chat and I look forward to doing others in the future.  You can listen to the recorded show here:   At the end of this show,  I make some big announcements, but more on that later.

Then last night, I was a guest at a celebration at The Downtown in Red Bank for two talented people I call friends, Poppa John Bug (AKA Poppa Razzi)I honor of the release of his EP 

and rising photography star, Marlo Montanaro for the opening of his exhibit there “Rock Star Fantasies”. You should find both of them on Facebook and friend them.

On to upcoming events.

One of the things I have looked forward to being able to do was to use my work to support causes near and dear to my heart. Now I can!

Beginning this week and all through the month of July, 50% of my royalties from Dark Dealings, from any platform (eBook or print) will be donated to:


KICK CANCER OVERBOARD, a local 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a very simple mission: To give away FREE cruises, to people whose lives have been affected by cancer. During this annual cruise, their main concern is NOT how to pay for their next medical bill, but whether to play bingo, get a massage or sing karaoke all night long.
Because of the overwhelming support from many local businesses, Kick Cancer Overboard has been able to sponsor 57 people to date, and offer them a well-deserved break on a beautiful cruise ship. You can view their stories at
Anybody affected by cancer can submit their request for a free cruise (on the KCO website). A committee will review the entries on a regular basis and choose the most deserving cancer fighters.
The actual second annual cruise was on 5/19/2012 and KCO was able to sponsor 45 people to sail for free, along with 53 that paid their own way, to support this worthy cause (and take advantage of a great vacation at the same time. Next year’s cruise will be on 5/25/2013. “Our goal is simple”,Ted Friedli, KCO founder, says, “to fill the ship with cancer fighter and survivors, their friends, family and supporters – and celebrate life! 

We have all been touched by cancer in one way or another and have seen not just the physical toll it takes of the fighters and their family but the emotional, psychological, and spiritual toll it also takes.  To replenish the spirit help, I believe in the mind-body connection important to winning the battle.

As part of that, I will also be doing my first book signing on July 18th from 6-9 PM at the Draft House at 100 Brighton Ave, Long Branch NJ. If you are in the area or have friends or family in the area who would like to attend, please contact me at for additional details. 

Even if you cannot attend, but have been considering purchasing Dark Dealings, check out the links to the right of this post for excerpts and purchase options. 

Important note: If you would like to purchase a print copy of Dark Dealings on-line, PLEASE make the purchase through Amazon ONLY. I do NOT receive royalties from the sales to outside vendor, so NO donation will be credited to Kick Cancer Overboard.

And by all means pass this along and share with others who may want to help 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

First write a good story, then make it shine

First write a good story, then make it SHINE!  That's the beginning of a career as a successful author. 

I met Jennifer Gracen almost two years ago in PubWrite.  Since then, we have had the pleasure of meeting in person at conferences and talking online, on Spreecast, and by phone. We share very similar philosophies about life and, relevant to today's post, the future of the professional writer in a changing market. She is a talented person and has more energy than most people I know. I had the amazing fortune of having her copy edit Dark Dealings and the final result is better for her sharp eye and diligence. I asked her to share her thoughts on copy editing with us today.

Take it away, Jen!

I was asked if I wanted to write a post about my “Pet Peeves in Copy Editing”, and said sure, okay. But here’s the thing: I don’t want to get down on anyone about making mistakes in their writing. Hey — if people didn’t make mistakes, I wouldn’t have a job. I really only have one major peeve about editing. Hear me out first before I reveal it.

Everyone has their strengths. One of mine is seeing grammatical errors, typos, and other types of mistakes in a written document. To me, it’s as if they’d been written in neon. That makes me a born editor. Sometimes a client does this strange thing, where he/she apologizes profusely to me for their mistakes as they give me their work to edit. I can’t help but smile as I remind him/her: I expect to find mistakes — that’s why you hired me, right? Stop apologizing! Believe it or not, most of the best writers do NOT have clean manuscripts. But the best writers know this, and seek out an editor to make her/his work the finest, cleanest, tightest work it can be. This goes for getting both copy editing and content editing. Some editors do both types. I don’t most of the time, but do delve into content editing on occasion. Yes, there’s a difference. But that’s a whole other blog post.

I worked as a full time copy editor for a big company when I was younger, before I had kids. I loved that job. I now do it on a freelance basis, and I like that even better. There are pros and cons, of course. First, the cons: I don’t get a steady paycheck, I’ll never make a lot of money doing it, and I’m basically performing a service on a leap of faith, assuming (hoping) my client will pay me when I’m done, as promised. But the pros? I get to pick and choose my clients and the projects I work on. The flexibility of working on my own timetable, and working from home, is a necessity. I’ve been a stay-at-home mother for a decade now, so being able to work from home while juggling two kids, my own writing, and life in general is key for me. I’m totally committed to my editing work, and I honestly love doing it. I get paid to read, basically, if you think about it. Paid to read and make work shine. For a lifelong voracious reader, what’s better than that?

If you’re a writer who is smart enough to hire a copy editor, or an editor in general, you’re showing your true dedication to your work. It means you’ve done your homework, and know that the reading public won’t take your work seriously if it’s riddled with mistakes. You’ve also admitted to being human and knowing that EVERY writer makes mistakes. I’m not only a copy editor, I’m also (first and foremost, actually) a writer. And even I make mistakes. We all do. Good for you for admitting you’re a flawed human, and a writer who cares about her/his work enough to ensure its quality.

So what’s my big peeve about copy editing? Writers who don’t have it done. Writers who think they’re above editing and don’t need it, or are too lazy to take the time to have it done before submitting it or self-publishing. Everyone needs a sharp second pair of eyes to go over their work. Show your commitment to your craft and respect for your readers: have your work edited. 


Jennifer recently resumed her freelance copy editing/proofreading career after a few years’ hiatus. She has an AA in Music from Dean College, attended Berklee College of Music for two years, and received her BA in English from Molloy College. She worked as an editorial assistant & proofreader for PRR Publications, then as a copy editor for Bookspan, before choosing to stay home to dedicate herself to being a full-time mother in 2002. She did occasional freelance work over the time since, but now that her children are older, she is able to dedicate more of her time to freelance copy editing again, and has done so with a vengeance.
Jennifer also writes contemporary romance/women’s fiction. She has completed three novels and has agent representation. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Long Island Romance Writers (RWA Chapter 160). Her women’s fiction manuscript, Shades Of Denial, placed 3rd for the Single Title Category in the Launching a STAR 2011 contest.
Born and raised on Long Island, New York, Jennifer currently lives there with her husband and two young sons. She is a self-professed social media addict, and is hoping to stave off an intervention for a while longer.
Contact Information:
Copy Editing Website http:/
Twitter: @JGCopyEditing OR @jennifergracen

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tell Them You "Scene" It Here First

My first novel, Dark Dealings, is dedicated to Barbara Rogan who took on a student “with delusions of authorship”.  She took a group up us and turned the willing and thick-skinned into writers and authors. She is a former literary agent and a professional editor with eight traditionally published novels (and one more on the way) to her credit.

Barbara has been gracious enough to share her wisdom on the making of One Good Scene and what that means for the novel.

I’ll say it straight out: There’s no point writing a novel if you cannot write a scene. It sounds obvious when you say it, but many people try. You don’t have to write short stories to work up to writing a novel; they’re different genres entirely, and not every writer is capable of both.  But you do have to be able to write a knock-out scene before you can hope to write a credible novel, because scenes are the building blocks of stories.

By scenes I mean bits of action that take place in a specific place and time, involving a specific character or characters.  I find it helpful to think of a scene as something you could film in a single location. 

Say we’re writing a story in which a husband and wife quarrel over breakfast. The story follows the wife out to the yard, where she chats with a neighbor while weeding the garden; then it switches to the husband sharpening blades in his workshop. 

How many scenes would it take to convey that action?

If you answered three, we’re on the same page. Each of these three is a separate entity, not only an essential part of the structure we’re creating, but also a pleasing object in itself. Coming up with a story is only a first step; writers then have to break the story down into scenes and write each scene, one at a time. Of course, not every event in a novel can be a scene, or novels would be infinitely long. Virginia Woolf wrote a whole book on one day in the life of Mrs. Dalloway, and even then she couldn’t dramatize every moment and memory. As writers, we need to choose which events to make into scenes, which memories to make into flashbacks. 

Let’s go back to our film analogy one more time. Imagine you’re making a film on a strict budget, and every scene costs a million dollars. How carefully would you plan your scenes? How much would you expect of each?   

Writers have budgets, too, though they’re measured in words instead of dollars. We can only fit so many scenes into a short story or novel, so they’d better be scenes that contribute vitally and in multiple ways to the enterprise. In order to earn its keep, every scene has to multitask. A scene that advances the plot without contributing to characterization, or one that exists only to establish setting or illustrate theme or convey backstory: those are wasted opportunities, empty scenes. A good scene does all those things, or many of them. 

It’s no small thing to write one good scene. The skills required are the same as those required to write a good novel. We need dialogue that entertains even as it advances the story and reveals character and relationships. We need a setting so vividly realized that it can draw readers out of their world and into yours. We need characters driven by their own agendas, which are often imperfectly understood or concealed. We need conflict and tension, not only in every scene but on every page. And we need to create all this in language that is fresh and beautiful.  Language is our medium, our palette. Just as great painters are fanatical about the paints they use, so are great writers choosy with their words. To be a writer is to care, not only about story, but also about language.    

The beauty of focusing on scenes is that they contain all the same ingredients as stories and novels, in smaller amounts: cupcakes as opposed to cakes, let’s say. Over a long career in publishing, as a former agent and editor, and now as a writing teacher, I’ve encountered an awful lot of failed cakes: good story ideas that failed to make the transition into good novels. Those are the writers who inspired my workshop, “One Good Scene,” as a manageable way to learn a challenging craft. If you can write one really good scene, you can write a string of them; you can write a novel.

Barbara Rogan is the author of eight novels, including Suspicion and Hindsight (Simon & Schuster), and coauthor of several nonfiction books. Her books have been widely translated, featured by the major book clubs, optioned for movie and television and issued as audio books and eBooks. Her next novel, A DANGEROUS FICTION, will appear early in 2013 with Viking/Penguin.   

She has also worked extensively in publishing as an editor and a literary agent. She taught fiction writing at Hofstra University and SUNY Farmingdale before starting her own online school, Next Level Workshops. She’s a frequent lecturer on both the business and craft of writing and teaches seminars and master classes at writers’ conferences.

Will you look at your writing or the book you are reading differently? How so?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dark Dealings and the Word Shark

Today I stop by Karen Elliott's Blog The Word Shark to talk about my journey to writer and how I had to learn to listen to my heart, get out of my own way and take chances.  Stop by and say Hi!

Stop back tomorrow when the amazing Barbara Rogan will share some great information on writing a great scene and how that translates to the novel.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review: Once A Goddess by Sheila R Lamb Human meets Myth

Product Details
Let me start by saying something.  The plot and characters of Sheila Lamb’s Once A Goddess are near and dear to my Irish heart.  My own novel, Dark Dealings, because of it s Druid themes contains many parallel references.  But NEVER think that Once a Goddess is a novel of one culture and one time. It is a story of love and loss, loyalty and independence and those who fight for what they know to be real.

This is a remarkable work of world-building and character development. In  Ms. Lamb’s novel, names from Irish lore are given flesh, human desires and vices while remaining magical creatures from a long distant past. Names like Brigid, Morrigan, Ogma, Dagda, Lugh and the Fomorians.  The main female protagonist is Brigid, a complex and layered woman, torn between her anam cara and her duty to her people.

For the sake of peace, Brigid of the supernatural TĂșatha dĂ© Danann enters into an arranged marriage with Bres, the next chieftain of the enemy Fomorian tribe, whose iron weapons and brute strength challenge the Danann magic. The Danann instruct Brigid to spy for them, and to keep the source of their powers secret, dangerous tasks that complicate her goal of making the best of her forced union. 

Sacrificing her own hope for love, Brigid faces the Fomorians alone. She must confront her rival, Morrigan, who competes for Bres's affections, as she begins to suspect that he is breaking the truce through lies and political manipulation. When his tyranny threatens the very existence of the Danann, Brigid must risk her life to unseat Bres from power.

This is an amazing read. A must buy. I give it


Visit her website Pagans, Saints, and  Potatoes  to learn more about her and her work.   

Once a Goddess is available in eBook and paperback at Amazon  and in paperback from Barnes & Noble

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Journey to Indie Publishing and Dark Dealings

Over a year ago, Aimee Salter was gracious enough to feature the opening of Dark Dealings as a part of the First 500 Words Critique series on her wonderful site: Seeking the Write Life..  The feedback and encouragement I received was fuel for my journey forward.

Now all these months later, with Dark Dealings published across all eBook formats and in print, I stop back to share what the journey has been like and offer some quick tips on publishing your own work.  Follow the link and leave any comments or questions there. I promise I will answer.

Stop back here on Thursday for the next of my reviews on another Indie author.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Launch Party Gift Card Winner

The Official Launch Party may be over, but the tour continues. Watch here for my thoughts, book reviews and the where else to find me.  Check  here tomorrow to see where I'll be.

I want to thank all who participated in the a very successful launch.  It was a tough call, but the winner of the $50 Visa gift card is a new reader, DeeDee Montanaro.

Congrats DeeDee. I'll be in touch to arrange delivery.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Across the Pond: Guest blog with Mhairi SImpson

Today I visit with Mhairi Simpson and talk about my journey to Dark Dealings and why Druids and Wall Street make sense.  Stop by and chime in.

While you are here, read excerpts from Dark Dealings at the links to your right.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Graduations, Dreams, and the Future

This is probably one of the more rambling posts I've written. But then, on the eve of yet another change in the fabric of my life, the mind wanders and makes strange connections.

My son graduates high school tomorrow. A once important rite of passage dimmed by the demands of society.  Once upon a time, a high school diploma was a ticket to a good job.  Now high school grads compete with unemployed college educated and beyond for $9-10/hour jobs.  I know, I was one of them when I was between jobs.  What will he do after this? He wants to be a filmmaker, so he will attend community college, work on a portfolio and network and hopefully turn his internship experience into paid and credited work.

He was never a big fan of traditional school, but start talking cameras, film techniques, special effects and editing and he will talk your ear off for hours on end and reveal his already considerable knowledge and creativity.

As an author, I get it. I can do the same thing with novel, Dark Dealings, my next project or any writing or publishing topic. There is the job and there is the passion. We hope and work for the day when we can get paid enough to pursue our passion and ditch the job. I once read that luck is the collision of hard work and opportunity. So until the opportunity arises my son and I work hard.

Lots of people think that you just sit down one day and write a book or make a movie.  Well, I suppose you could but as anyone who has cruised youtube or the kindle store will tell you: it’s probably not the best approach.  A good story is hard work and deserves to recognized as a thing of value.

Last year Amazon introduced a program called KDP Select. You may not be familiar with the name of the program, but if you own a Kindle you have benefited as a reader. Authors, on the condition of that they remove their work from other eBook retails (Barnes & Noble, ITunes, etc.) get special promo including the ability to give their book away free for five days during the commitment.  They compete for money from a KDP pool that may or may not equal or exceed their normal revenue. Hundreds if not thousands of authors participated and still participate with varying results.

I chose not to enroll Dark Dealings for several related reasons, which some will argue over. This is my first novel and so does not lend itself to some of the good reasons to markdown to free or reduced pricing.  

First, I think exclusivity is not fair market practice, even for a short period, for the author or the owners of other eReaders.

Second, by so many authors offering their work for free, I believe, we have created and expectation of free. A class of “buyers” will wait until a book comes up free. And then can, because they have already filled their Kindle with dozens of other freebies.

The question is how many of those freebies will they actually get around to reading and when. More importantly, will they review the book online (hopefully favorably) or recommend to friends?  I believe that this does not help an author’s long term career. Of course only time will tell.

Free or reduced price ($0.99) has its place in a marketing plan.  It is best used as a loss leader.  Where a early part of a series is marked down to entice and introduce a new reader with the expectation that the reader will then purchase other books in the series or by the same author. Now I have given copies away in focused promotions and ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) to review sites. That is part a marketing plan not spaghetti thrown up against the wall.

So what does this have to do with my son’s graduation? I want him to know that if he is talented and works hard that he will not have to randomly give his efforts away. That writing and film-making are marathons not sprints.  To hang in and not be seduced by instant gratification.  To have a plan, even if that plan changes with circumstances.  To hope that one day, lots of people will pay the fair price of a movie ticket to see his movies, so he can keep making more and then inspire and mentor the next generation.