Wednesday, December 15, 2010

LAFFN is just around the corner! you're just catching your breath from NaNoWriMo, have always wanted to write a novel (or self help book or whatever!) but haven't gotten around to it, or have a have a half finished novel on your hard drive you really need to get to, Let's All Finally Finish a Novel (LAFFN) is the time to get it done! Heck, even if you have the book done, but need to rewrite it and polish it so you can submit it. You can do that, too. At LAFFN, we don't care what your goal is, as long as it gets you at least one step closer to getting your book published.

Sometimes, all we need is a little push and some support to finally get around to it. That's why I started LAFFN, to push me to finish my own projects. I run it in January and July (although that may change when we get our real, official website. For now, Accentuate Writers Forum graciously hosts us. Please stop by, declare your goal, and let's all finish something together!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Interview with literary agent Marsha Cook

I recently had the opportunity to promote myself and my books on Children's Author Discussion with Fran Lewis on blogtalk radio. I shared the air with several great authors, including Marsha Cook. She is a literary agent in addition to her writing career, so I brazenly asked for and she graciously agreed to an interview. In addition, she has agreed to field your questions, if you put them in the comments on this post today! Be sure to read the interview all the way through, then if there is anything left unasked, feel free to ask it. All I ask is that, if you disagree with something she says, you treat her with courtesy.

Jennifer Walker: Let's start by learning a little about Marsh Cook as a person. You are an author yourself--tell us about your work.

Marsha Cook: I love writing and I must admit I have spent more of my time promoting others more than myself. I am now promoting my work but I would much rather write all day. It is so much easier for authors to do different promotional projects to get there work out there than years ago and that is what I try to help authors do.

I have written three children's books, THE BUSY BUS, THE MAGICAL LEAPING LIZARD POTION and SNACK ATTACK. I have also written SALA, MORE THAN A SURVIVOR, a Memoir of a Holocaust Survivor and LOVE CHANGES, a mainstream novel. I have also written twelve screenplays and have had two of them optioned for movies.

Jennifer Walker: What made you want to be a literary agent, and what makes you a good one?

Marsha Cook: I became a Literary Agent basically because there were very few agents that were willing to help writers in the way I could. Most agents don't really understand how hard it is to write a book, even one that isn't a best seller. I always believed, and still do, with someone believing in you as a writer success can happen. Dreams do come true but most of the time not without help.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us a little about your agency. Do you have a company philosophy on how you represent authors and what sort of work you like to take on? How many queries do you receive, and how many new writers do you take on per year?

Marsha Cook: My philosophy has always been to keep writers writing and not have them give up. Most writers give up when they realize they will be rejected by most of the publishers and for screenwriters they will be rejected by many production companies. Rejection letters that I receive usually make me work harder to prove them wrong.

I receive thousands of queries a year. I don't take as many clients as I did in the past because I really believe authors need management and an agency that helps them get where they need to go. One of the problems that exists is authors have always heard don't pay an agent because when you sell they will get a commission, however most writers don't stay in the game that long and the agent never makes any money.

Years ago I paid an agent and I didn't mind because it does cost quite a bit to send projects out to production companies and publishers. I think if they changed the rules back to where that can happen more authors would be taken by Literary Agents. Life is different to most people these days, which means sometimes things need change. I don't feel anyone should work for free; however, that is what I have done for years. Don't think if an agent charges money that means they are taking advantage of you.

A good agent will help a self- published author market their work and that does mean authors should pay for these services and not feel that they are being taken advantage of.

Jennifer Walker: Can you share some of your agency's success stories?

Marsha Cook: We have been very successful at getting our clients work read , by producers and publishers. We also have had several optioned book for movies. Most importantly many of our clients have self - published their books and they are doing very well with their sales. They are happy and that makes us feel great.

Jennifer Walker: What are some of the biggest mistakes you see when people seek you out for representation? What sort of mistakes are deal breakers that will cause you to throw out a submission?

Marsha Cook: W e have never just thrown out a submission. One mistake is to say this is the greatest story ever…right there I know this is a person that will not be in this business for a long time.

Jennifer Walker: What are the most important things a writer can do to get you to want to learn more about their book?

Marsha Cook: Also talk about their credentials and how long they have been writing. That really does matter.

Jennifer Walker: I've been taught to make sure I have every i dotted, every t crossed and every duck in its row before submitting to an agent or editor. Have you ever received a submission that was all wrong, but something in it caused you to look past all that and take the author on anyway?

Marsha Cook: I am not like other agents. I first look at the work. The story and the characters matter to me. They can always have an editor fix their grammatical mistakes but if the story isn’t there that would be a problem. I’m not big on bringing out the red pen and finding fault with everything.

Jennifer Walker: How important is it to you as an agent for a manuscript to be well edited, by a professional if necessary, before you see it? Isn't the publisher responsible for editing?

Marsha Cook: The manuscript should be in pretty good shape and we would never send a script or book out that is not edited. I need an editor and so does everyone else, if not before we read it after. Every writer needs an editor and that the writer has to pay for. If a publisher does take it they will edit it however they want but when we send it out it has to be the best it can be.

Jennifer Walker: How do you feel about the huge surge in recent years of self-published authors and what this means to the industry? How do you feel about these authors querying you--do you want their book to have made a certain threshold of sales before you will consider them for future projects? Do you ever take on self-published books to try to sell to publishers (I'm wording that weird, so I hope you understand what I'm asking)?

Marsha Cook: I think most publishers are so used to rejecting books they sometimes miss great stories. I actually think self-publishing is a great way to start a career when the writer can’t get published traditionally. Taking on self published books is what we do. These books can be sent out to producers, because producers are always looking for a good story they can develop into a movie.

Jennifer Walker: Does the author having a book published with a small press give them any better or worse chance of getting representation with you?

Marsha Cook: It doesn’t matter because we look at the content. If the story is there we will take them.

Jennifer Walker: Jonathan Franzen stated in a recent issue of the New York Times Book Review that novels are going the way of newspapers, only faster. Do you feel that novels are still relevant, important and salable?

Marsha Cook: I think there will always be books, but there is a big shift in the market because of kindle, nook and all the e-readers. I think novels are always going to be revalant.

Jennifer WalkerYou represent a lot of screenplays. Do you think any book can be a movie? If not, what should an author look for in their book to decide whether they should try writing a screenplay for it?

Marsha Cook: Not every book can be a screenplay but there are so many that can make great movies. In a screenplay there has to be some degree of speaking and action. If there isn’t enough dialogue or action in a book it may not translate into a good movie.

Jennifer Walker: Now that we've gotten to know you, some of my readers might want you to represent them. Are you currently accepting queries, and are there certain types of projects you are looking for--or not? Where can writers find submission guidelines?

Marsha Cook: We are taking clients after the first of the year. They can submit by query letter. They can check out

Have some questions for Marsha? Post it in the comments section, and she'll come on and answer them!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo over for another year

Well, my fourth NaNoWriMo is over, and as most of you already know, I wrote my 50,000th word yesterday afternoon--in plenty of time to meet the deadline. While I am always happy to finish, this year's victory seemed just a little sweeter because it was just so hard this year.

The first year I did NaNo was 2007. I had never heard of it before, and I started nearly a week late. However, I had no problem writing a little extra every day and finiahed with 63k words and finished the book (which, by the way, I REALLY need to revise and edit and start shopping around). The next year, I wrote Bubba to the Rescue, book two in the Green Meadow Series, which is due out January 10th (yeah, sorry, we thought we'd have it out in time for Christmas, but it looks like it's getting pushed back). Anyway, that year I got a case of tendonitis in my elbows and lost a good week because I couldn't type...and it was hard to catch up, because I was still hurting and didn't want it to completely flair up and incapacitate me again. Yet, I still managed to finish. Last year, I wasn't even going to do it because I was working 12 hours a day between my exhausting day job and my writing. Michy made me do it anyway, and I finished. This year should have been cake!

However, it wasn't cake. It wasn't even muffin, or cookies, or pie. It just sucked. It was hard. I hated it. I was way busy with my various jobs and tasks and travel. of the 30 days in November, there were 8 days I didn't write at all, 10 days I wrote some amount that was less than the daily goal of 1,667, and only 12 days where I met or exceeded the daily goal. I didn't meet the halfway point until the 24th, with less than a week to go. I put in two 6k days, a 5, day and two 4k days to do it. That is a lot of writing in one day, when you consider I also had work to do.

I don't know if I will ever have a perfect, easy NaNo where everything is going my way, unless you count the first year where I only missed 5 days because I started late, but the rest went smoothly. What that tells me is that if I can write 50k words in a month despite all of the challenges that I face every year, I can accomplish anything I really want to. That sounds trite, but it's so true. We can always make excuses to explain why we can't do something. However, when we stop with the excuses and just DO it, look what we can accomplish!

If you haven't tried NaNo yet, I heartily encourage you to give it a shot next year. Why not? Sure, it's crazy. Sure, you have a lot going on. But, you've always wanted to write a novel, right? What a great excuse to get started on it.

In January, I will run LAFFN (Let's All Finally Finish a Novel) so you can finish your NaNo, revise a rough draft, or whatever you need to do in order to get a novel one step closer to publication. I'll post more when the time comes.

Monday, November 29, 2010

NaNoWriMo day twenty-nine: I'm gonna make it!

Thanks to a flurry of writing activity over here, I am within sight of my goal of 50k words written on my novel in the month of November. I have just 5k words left to write, and considering I wrote 6k today and yesterday, that should be no problem tomorrow. I just have to make sure I do it in the morning and get it over with so I don't get caught writing at midnight and miss the official deadline! I drank so many cups of decaf coffee at the write-in that I'm not sure I'll be able to sleep any time soon! I'm just so relieved to be at this point...a couple days ago, and even at some points yesterday, I was't sure I was going to be able to pull it off. Now, it's a certainty! See you tomorrow.

Show vs Tell: What does it mean, and how do you do it?

"Show, don't tell" is a common mantra among editors, would-be editors, writing experts of both the genuine and self-proclaimed type (I don't claim to be either, by the way. I just like to share what I've learned and what works for me!). However, I think sometimes these people don't quite know what it really means...and I think a lot of beginning writers struggle with it. So, let's talk about it a little.

When you think of showing vs telling, think about the reader experience. Do you want them to know something because you told them straight out, or because they envisioned it through your imagery? Readers aren't stupid. If you describe Harold as weighing 10,000 pounds and having big, floppy ears and a trunk, they'll probably guess that Harold is an elephant. That's a pretty silly example, but you get the idea.

Some people mistakenly think that showing is the same thing as describing. That is not so. Nothing turns me off faster than pages (or even paragraphs) of description with no action or dialogue or anything else to keep my interest. I usually skip past it, and I know other readers who have the same view. Oh, sure, there are some master writers who can spend an entire chapter describing a tree, and you just sit there in awe of how amazing this tree is. However, most of us are not able to do that. I think I'll talk more about description in a different post, because that's a whole 'nother discussion...for now, I want to concentrate on what is showing vs. telling.

Here is telling:

Randall drove a compact car. It was too small for him. (snore)

Here is showing:

Randall shoe-horned himself behind the wheel of his car and felt the shocks sink a little. He often wondered if he looked like one of those clowns at the circus or in cartoons--the ones where they drive into the ring in a tiny car, and they get out and they're a huge clown. He reached back and pulled up the lock on the rear passenger door so Kelly could get in. He smiled as he watched her open the door and climb into her car seat. She had inherited her pride from him, and the minute she was able to fasten her own safety harness and close the door by herself, she insisted that no one help her. He feared the day her independence would get her into trouble.

Did you get that the car was small? I also got inspired and kept going (fun how writing prompts can do that for you, eh?), and how much more did you learn about Randall and Kelly? I coudl have told you the same facts in 2-3 sentences, but this way you can really see the scene and it's much more interesting. Plus, it helps pad out your word count, if you're worried about that sort of thing. :)

When you write, think about how you're telling your readers about a scene or person. Are you looking through their eyes and showing them the scene as though they were watching a movie? Or are you listing facts, like they would get in a business report?

I've put a little exercise to help you practice this concept on the Accentuate Writers Forum here: Come on over and try your hand!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NaNoWriMo day twenty-four: Halfway point, a little late

There are six days left, and I am halfway through my nano. I am "only" 15k words behind now, which is an improvement from being 16k behind. I have to write 4148 words per day for the next six days if I'm going to finish. There are worse things. The good thing is, the holiday weekend is her, and although my business never really stops, I can take the excuse to slow down my other projects just a tiny bit so I can do this. I can do this!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NaNoWriMo day twenty-three: SO BEHINDER

Well, my busy schedule has continued to be ridiculously busy (making money, which is good for the whole paying rent and bills and buying food thing), which means I've had little time to write. I thought I'd get some done while travelling, but got maybe 2k done. Last night, I was going to go to the all-nighter write-in and get some done, but a migraine knocked me out for a good part of the day...and of course, I had deadlines, so work takes priority. Sooo....I'm now 16k behind. That's a lot to make up in one week! Oh well, I did it last year, I can do it again this year. I'll get a bit done tonight, and I'm caught up on a lot of stuff, so I'll try to get a bunch done tomorrow. Then, Thursday is Thanksgiving, darn it, and I am taking the day OFF from work. I will use the day to nano!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NaNoWriMo day sixteen: SO BEHIND

I have been super busy the past week, between getting a bunch of work in and having a bunch of events that took me out of the house for hours upon hours. Therefore, I missed four or five days of writing. I went to an all-nighter write-in last night in hopes of catching up, but we had left our dog home alone for an awfully long time and decided to call it a night there at midnight. I did write some more when I got home and put in a total of 2600 and something words, but I am still at 19,311...WAY behind today's goal of 26,667. I have a lot of catching up to do, but it won't be today. I am getting caught up on some of my work, but then I got some new assignments...I should be able to do some writing tomorrow. Maybe not enough to catch up at ALL, but maybe at least my daily quota. For now, I need to get back to work.

Hang in there, wrimos...we're halfway through! I hope you're doing better than I am!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NaNoWriMo day eleven: tip of the day

I am now a whole day behind. I guess this is the rhythm for this year's nano for me...get caught up, fall behind. Get caught up, fall behind. Alas, what are you gonna do? I'll just keep pressing on. Also, have I mentioned I am just not feeling this book? It's slow and booooooring. I can't wait for something interesting to happen, but I have to slog through all this boring stuff first. That's Ok...I know it will get interesting eventually! I'll keep writing and and then when I have a decent book, I'll edit out the crap. Embrace the suck!

NaNoWriMo tip of the day: Have a word war with a friend. Word wars are a super fun way to get a bunch of words written. What you do is agree on a time frame--10 minutes is good, but it can be whatever you want. The goal is to write as much as you possibly can during that time, and whoever writes the most wins. This means you have to apply the nano principles of embracing the suck and turning off your internal editor--just write, write, write, as fast as you can!

NaNoWriMo day ten: tip of the day

I didn't get much done on NaNo today...too much work, a riding lesson and dinner at Mom's...I didn't think I'd get any done, but I made myself sit down and write a few hundred words so I'm only 1000 behind...I don't know how much I'll do tomorrow, but hopefully at least 1667 so it won't be hard to catch up again.

NaNoWriMo tip for today: Embrace the suck! By this point, you're probalby thinking that your novel sucks, you can't write, you never should have started this stupid nano thing, and you should just give up. Something along those lines, anyway. I'm thinking, "oh my GAWD this is boring. There is nothing good happening in this story. No one is going to get through this." What you have to do is just get OVER it and keep writing. Let it's Ok. get the words on the, document. Just write. Don't worry about bad grammar, confusing sentence structure or coming up with just the right words to describe your character's alarmingly blue eyes. Just get it can edit it during LAFFN when we dust off our manuscripts and clean them up! Keep writing, and eventually a story is going to come out that you can live with.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NaNoWriMo day nine: tip of the day

Well, the NaNoWriMo site thinks it's tomorrow already, but as far as I'm concerned, it's still today. I didn't think I was going to meet my goal today, and I didn't--haha! Surprise ending...Ok, it's 12:24 and I'm a little tired, so I'm amusing myself. Anyway....I didn't write 1667 words today, but I did pass the 15k mark by a whopping 34 words, which is where I'm supposed to be. Whee...good thing I got ahead this weekend. I got 1297 in today. I had some other work, an appointment and then went dancing tonight. I have a lot going on tomorrow, too, so we'll see how much I get done. Hopefully I can at least do the minimum.

What is my nano tip for today....Ok, here's a counterpoint to yesterday's (guess you'll have to go read it to find out what it was! Aren't I clever? Oh, a link? Sorry, no. it's past midnight. Anyway...) Offer yourself a good reward if you finish the book. Offer yourself smaller rewards for meeting smaller goals along the way, even every day for meeting your daily goal. These can be simple little things. I'm not supposed to encourage you to reward yourself with food, but you could let yourself eat that last piece of cheesecake IF you meet your minimum word count. Or, you can let yourself go to the movies, or go for a walk, or watch a trashy chick film, or whatever it is you want to do but didn't think you should.

Monday, November 8, 2010

NaNoWriMo day eight: tip of the day

It's monday, and the third day in a row of being on track! I did just a tiny bit over my daily goal and ended the day at 13,737 words. Did you know has a stats tab on your profile where you can see how you're doing in relation to your goal? It tells me I'm averaging 1718 words per day and at this rate I will finish on time. In fact, I only need to write 1649 words per day here on out to finish on time. Yay me. Now I have some work I'd better get done before bed. But first, my NaNoWriMo tip of the day!

Are you easily distracted by the Internet, email, snacks, hot baths, etc.? The obvious answer to all these distractions and temptations is to ignore them, but that doesn't work very well for me. When I say, "OK, no more backgammon until you've written 1,000 words," I answer, "Screw you. I'm going to play ten games of backgammon." It's kind of like dieting...if you say you'll never eat candy again, it can be really hard to stop thinking about candy, especially if you really like candy. So, allow yourself a little indulgence now and then, but make yourself work for it. Make yourself write 500 words or get to the next round number before you can go get a snack, play that game of backgammon, or even go to the bathroom. Then, have your little distraction, but get back to work!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NaNoWriMo day seven: tip of the day

The first week of NaNo is over, and at this point we should be at 11,669 words. I am at...drumroll...12,000! Yippee, ahead of schedule! Ever so slightly, but ahead nonetheless. I would love it if I could actually finish the whole book by November 30. It's one thing to get to 50k words, but then if the book isn't finished, you still have to, yanno, FINISH it. I'd rather do the whole thing in one big push, and then all I have to worry about is editing. If I can keep up this pace, it should be no problem! Since it's a middle grade fiction, it only needs to be between 55k and 60k words. My first year in NaNo, I wrote 63k and finished the book. That was my chick lit...I have to edit it some day and work on getting it out there. So many projects, so little time!

Anywho, here's my NaNoWriMo tip for the day: Go to a write-in with other wrimos in your area. You can find out about them by going to your region on the nano website. For me, there is something about A. leaving my house to write somewhere else and B. the camaraderie of physically being with other writers who are writing like crazy to hit 50k just like I am that inspires me to write, write, write! I usually get a lot done, and it's a lot of fun. If there aren't any in your area, try to arrange one. If you can't, just try uprooting and going somewhere special to write, like a cafe, so you feel you have to write a lot to justify going there! Plus, you get away from the yammering family. If you're really smart, you'll go somewhere that doesn't have wifi so you won't be distracted by the internet! I'm not that smart. ;)

I do hope my readers will comment and tell me how you're doing. I know you're out there--don't be shy! Where are you at today? What are you struggling with?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

NaNoWriMo day six: tip of the day

Huzzah, I put in some extra time today and wrote a bit over 3300 words and am now caught up! I'll do a bit extra tomorrow, too, and aim for 2k a day to stay on track if I miss another day. The story is coming along well, although for a while I was a little worried. I think later I might want to go in and cut a little to move things faster, but we'll see. I was working during the write-in last night and tonight's was too far, so Greg and I went to the cafe and had our own little write-in all by ourselves. Something about leaving the house inspires me to work instead of get distracted...well, at least I get distracted less and inspired more. :)

Here's today's tip of the day: If you don't know where your story is going, that's OK. While you're writing, just try to do the next scene, whatever that might be. Use your non-writing time to think about the general plot line and what you want to happen in the story, and if you need to, brainstorm with a friend to figure out what you should do. You'd be surprised how much that helps. But, in the meantime, right now, when you're supposed to be writing...just worry about that one scene. You'll get that much more done, and who knows...maybe it'll inspire another scene, and another.

Good luck! Keep writing....only 23 days left!

Friday, November 5, 2010

NaNoWriMo day five: tip of the day

Today is day five of nano, and I had a lot going on today. An assignment I had to finish, an interview to conduct, an appointment, a nap and the dance tonight. So, I fully expected to fall even further behind on my novel. However, I woke up early this morning (hence the nap) and got my other stuff done, so I splurged a little and spent time on nano and got my daily quota of words in after all. Sweet! It partly happened because I spread it out throughout the day--I did 500 this morning when I got up, another 500 or so when I needed a break from other stuff, then the rest of it when I finished my other tasks. I might go do a little more after posting this, but I'm pretty sleepy.

Here's my tip for the day: if you find you don't feel like writing, or you don't know what to write about, make yourself sit down and write just 100 words. 100 words is nothing! However, what happens to me is, I'll do my 100, but then I want to finish the sentence or even the paragraph and it become maybe 167. Then, I want to get to the next round number, so I decide to do a little more to hit 200. The next thing I know, I have 275, so I might as well go for 300. I did some of that today, and it got me through 1670 words when I wasn't sure I'd get more than 500. Even if you do stop at the 100, it's still more than you had before you sat down.

NaNoWriMo day four: tip of the day

Well, I got in my daily quota of words today, and I am just under a day behind. I have 5348 words and should have 6667. That's OK...that's still not that far to be behind! I have a feeling I won't get much done tomorrow, but I'll try to catch up this weekend. The story is coming along pretty well, although I have a little more research I need to do. I have an appointment in that regard next Thursday, so I might have to skip over some details and add them in later.

Here is my tip for today: Don't let yourself get stalled because you're not sure how to handle a scene or you need to research something to add the appropriate level of detail. Sketch in a skeleton for the scene, or even skip it all together, and move on. The difficult part of this is that you have to remember to go back in later and add the stuff you missed, and you might end up adding something that changes details that come after in the story. However, it'll take less time to fix any problems than the amount of time you could lose spinning your wheels. Why lose a whole day just because you're not sure how you want Billy and Jeannie to break up, or how Johnny's death scene should go?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NaNoWriMo day three: tip of the day

Well, nanoers, it's day three of our crazy quest to write a 50k word novel in one month. By this time some people have already dropped out, thinking they were crazy to want to try this in the first place. Others realized it was harder to write 1,667+ words per day than they thought. Others came up with myriad excuses or had life crises or who knows what.

The rest of us are still here, typing away, having barely begun our novels. Some of us, like myself, are already behind. I JUST caught up to where I should have finished yesterday, because I didn't have a lot of time to write yesterday. That's all right, because there's plenty of time to catch up. I'll get a bit more done tonight, then try to make up a bit a day until I'm caught up and even a little ahead for the next day I don't have time for nano.

So, here's my tip for the day: no matter how busy you are, try to write just a little every day. Even if it's just 100 words, that's more than you had if you did nothing, and you can toss that off in about 5 minutes. Maybe you want to invest a few more minutes, try to knock out 500. Even if you're tired, it won't take that long, and you'll thank yourself later!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NaNoWriMo is in full force!

I've been meaning to post some "nano is coming" posts, and time just got away from me. Well, it's here! It's National Novel Writing Month, where we write a whole novel of 50,000 words or more during the month of November. It's not too late to get in on the fun...I started a week late my first year (2007) and I wrote 63k that year. The next year I struggled with tendonitis, and last year I was working about 12 hours a day. I still finished. So, you can do it! All you need is an idea....get going!

I have 2059 words so far. One thing I like to do is write a little in the morning, then more later that night to kind of break it up. If you write every single day, you only need to get in 1,667 words each day. I shoot for 2,000 to give myself some leeway, but if I get more in, great.

I'll try to post some more with different tips, etc., for success. If you have any questions or problems, feel free to post! We're all  in this together!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Author Interview: Aggie Villanueva

Today, we'll learn a little about Aggie Villanueva, author of Chase the Wind, Rightfully Mine (God's Equal Rights Amendment), and, most recently, The Rewritten Word: How to Sculpt Literary Art, No Matter the Genre. Be sure to read my review of The Rewritten Word and Aggie's guest post on writing for the web, and read all the way to the end of this post to learn how one lucky person will win a free digital version of The Rewritten Word!

Jennifer Walker: Tell us a little about Aggie the professional writer. Why are you qualified to write this book (That's not accusatory, just to direct you :)), your published works, etc.

Aggie Villanueva: Hi Jennifer. Thanks so much for having me. I love how you qualify that this question is "not accusatory." Don't worry, in my opinion it's a perfect question.

And the answer is simple. I wrote The Rewritten Word: How to Sculpt Literary Art No Matter The Genre because I'm a horrible writer who had to learn to perfect the work in the rewrite. I had to discover exactly what rewriting even means. And If I can learn it, anyone can.

I'm not an English major, and I actually know very little about sentence structure and grammar rules. An editor once told me that I have an ear for language, like those who who have an ear for music, i.e. don't know how to read music but can play anyway.

But that doesn't go far when trying to consistently do it right. You need an understanding you can apply to everything you write, and successfully recreate the outcome -- like a science experiment. That's what I share in the The Rewritten Word, as simply and briefly as possible.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your next writing project.

Aggie Villanueva: Most likely it will be about the craft of marketing your writing. That's what I write about for my blog Visual Arts Junction, and the two marketing blogs I write for regularly, Orange Soda Blog  and the BookBuzzr blog. This fits well with my business as an author publicist at Promotion a la Carte. Some authors would rather do their own promotional work, at least for the most part, and I love sharing with them what I've learned along the way.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about Aggie the person. What hobbies you enjoy, your family, etc.

Aggie Villanueva: I guess even in my hobbies, it's the real Aggie who takes over. I love my photographic art and often pack up 60 lbs of camera equipment, my dogs, a few days food and bedding and head for my beloved mountains.

I am blessed this carried over into family -- in September I was so honored to be the photographer for my daughter's wedding. As a landscapist I don't even own indoor lighting equipment. Talk about one nervous wedding photographer! But hopefully I didn't botch it too much.

Jennifer Walker: Why did you decide to write a book about rewriting?

Aggie Villanueva: When first beginning writing I had to translate those how-to-write books by scholars and editors. Literally. At first read they made no sense at all to an average drop out like me. And in the process of translating what they wrote into everyday language, I taught myself how to write with clarity and brevity without even realizing it. Kind of like backwards technology.

Now I finally had some understanding of the process to apply to all my writing. It takes more than just an ear for language to produce quality work. I just wanted to share that simplicity with other writers. There's no reason for how-to books to be complicated or lengthy.

Not to imply that I don't make mistakes. I certainly do. But, you don't have to be a scholar to write well. I have a sixth grade education and have worked hard all my life learning what I need to know for my chosen careers. It's not hard, you just have to work hard at it. And simplify, simplify, simplify.

If you're having a hard time understanding the how-tos of anything, try what I did -- translate their words into understandable ones. You'll be amazed at the advanced understanding you come away with.

As I say repeatedly, if I can learn it, anyone can. I just wanted to share what I've learned, not to imply that it is the be-all and end-all of rewriting.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about how you first got published with your very first book, and how things have changed since then.

Aggie Villanueva: I co-authored my first novel, Chase the Wind, with Deborah Lawrence when I was 28. After we compiled the first three chapters and an outline of the rest we asked an author friend to critique it. She gave us excellent advice that we eagerly took, then sent it to Thomas Nelson, who accepted it. They also accepted my next book, a solo historical/Biblical fiction, Rightfully Mine. When it went out of print, I self-published a second edition of it in the summer of 2009.

Things have changed drastically since my first book, and all for the benefit of the author. Back then there were only two choices: traditional publishing and vanity publishing (not to be confused with modern-day self-publishing).

I wouldn't consider submitting my books to a traditional publisher of any kind now. The access to self publishing (not vanity or subsidiary publishing) is nothing but good for authors on every level, and I hope to take full advantage of the benefits.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us a little about Promotion A la Carte and why you decided to start it.

Aggie Villanueva: When I self-published my novel Rightfully Mine (God's Equal Rights Amendment) in 2009, I was also still promoting my photographic art. Promotion never ends. At my blog, Visual Arts Junction, I wrote what I learned about marketing as I went.

I guess people learned from it, because 10 months after I founded Visual Arts Junction, we were voted #5 at Predators and Editors in the "Writers' Resource, Information & News Source" category for 2009.

One day, about nine months after publishing and continually promoting Rightfully Mine, a marketing friend, Denise Cassino, checked Amazon and told me it had reached top ten sales in three categories. I was so excited I took screen shots to prove it!

My work was finally bearing some fruit.I founded Promotion a la Carte to offer author promotion for those who need a little help of the basic kind I learned while marketing and promoting for myself.

Though I'm a publicist now, I never stop writing about how authors can do all this for themselves. In fact, I recommend they do. There's so much we can all do on our own. And until you've worked it yourself, you don't appreciate what an author publicist does, especially if you don't see immediate sales.

Marketing has nothing to do with sales. Promotion is an area that you can't judge by return on investment (ROI), because the return may not happen for a few years. But it's a sure bet you'll never see any ROI unless you do the continual work of publicizing.

But we all need a little help from our our friends. I'd love to invite readers to consider a few of our services when that time comes for them. We've had some great comments from our clients and some of the top professional writers and reviewers in the business.. See our Clients Testimonials page:

Jennifer Walker: What are your favorite genres to read? To write? What draws you to them?

Aggie Villanueva: I like writing just about anything. I love reading fiction of any kind, but have been drawn to the supernatural since I saw my first horror movie at four. I'm sure what draws me is the similarities to the supernatural nature of my Christian faith.

My favorite is vampire stories. But I read very few of them because few are truly excellent. I fell in love with Anne Rice's intellectually and emotionally tortured vampire Louie. I never tire of their debate whether there is salvation for the undead.

For me, fiction must take me to another world and make me THINK and RETHINK.

Jennifer Walker: Do you have any interesting writing habits or quirks? Do you have to have silence, the TV on, your cat by your side, etc?

Aggie Villanueva: I don't know how interesting they are, but probably most would say everything about me is a quirk! I always love my dogs by my side, but who would keep them inside when the mountains call to them outside!

Yes, I like silence, and not just for my writing. But that means so much more than just no TV, music etc. I lived for years in the wilderness with no electricity or water. I learned there is no such thing as silence, but unless you turn off all the noise of civilization, you'll never hear the wondrous sounds of it.

Jennifer Walker: Where is your favorite place in the world to visit...or where would you like to visit most?

Aggie Villanueva: Nothing restores my soul like running to my beloved mountains. As I said above, I live to pack up my photography equipment, dogs, food and supplies and head for the wilderness. And I do it as often as possible. That's where all my photo art originates, and spiritual inspiration and probably most of my creativity.

Jennifer Walker: What is your favorite dessert?

Aggie Villanueva: Wow, that's a hard one. Probably a chocolate root beer float. Thanks, Jennifer, for this time. It was great fun answering these questions. And I look forward to answering or just talking with your readers. Please allow me to offer one of them a free ebook of The Rewritten Word in their choice of 10 electronic formats at Smashwords. You chose the winner, I'll supply it.

And thank YOU, Aggie, for stopping by! It was so much fun getting to know you. You heard her, readers...leave a comment on this post, and you'll automatically be entered in the drawing to get a free download of The Rewritten Word! I'll give you a few days to get in on the fun...make your comment by Monday at midnight, and I'll choose a winner and announce it on Tuesday!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Windswept Destiny Publishing Announces Book Signing for Bubba Goes National

Folsom Author Jennifer Walker Signs her Debut Novel, Bubba Goes National

Folsom, CA - Windswept Destiny Publishing, an imprint of Twin Trinity Media, announced today that Folsom resident Jennifer Walker will sign her debut novel, Bubba Goes National, at the Christensen's Saddlery annual sale, 3690 Taylor Road in Loomis, November 12th to the 14th, 2010, from 12:00 to 4:00pm. She will also offer two anthologies that contain her stories, Elements of the Soul and The Ultimate Horse Lover.

Bubba Goes National is about thirteen-year-old Leslie Clark, who lives with her widowed father. She loves horses, but he can’t afford to buy her one. She works for a horse trainer to earn lessons and a little extra money, which she saves up in hope of one day owning her own horse. When she goes on a shopping trip with her father and trainer, she finds an Arabian gelding at a livestock auction and buys him. She names him Lucky, but her teasing father insists on calling him Bubba, much to her chagrin. As Leslie soon discovers, Lucky had been cast off and sold inexpensively at auction because he didn't meet his breeder's standards. However, he is a dream come true for Leslie. Together, they work their way to the Arabian horse National Championships.

Although Bubba Goes National was written for the ten to fourteen-year-old market, it has appeal for horse lovers of all ages. Readers will learn a little about horse care and showing while reading a delightful story about working hard to make one’s dreams come true.

Michelle L. Devon, author and owner of Accentuate Services, says, “Bubba Goes National is a sweet story, but it also tackles some of the more difficult issues teens have to deal with these days, such as: death of a parent, competitive rivalry, overcoming tough obstacles, and working hard to earn something. It’s a story any teen girl who has ever dreamed of having her own horse will want to read, and horse-loving grownup girls will too!”

Bubba Goes National is available at a cover price of $12.95; however, a discount will be offered for books purchased at the signing. Books can also be purchased at Colton Books in Folsom and at Christensen’s Saddlery in Loomis. Additionally, autographed copies can be purchased at It is also available through online retailers, like,, and Wholesale orders can be placed through the major distributors Ingrams, Coutt’s, Baker & Taylor, Blackwell Book Services and Holt Jackson.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner

It's October already, and you know what that's almost National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! It starts November 1st, so now is a great time to start thinking about what your novel will be about this year. While you can't get started writing yet, you can figure out your storyline, do an outline if that's your thing, maybe do a character sketch or two. You don't want to sit down at 12:01 on November 1st with no clue what you should write, do you? Unless, of course, you're one of those disgusting people who can sit down with a blank Word document and no forethought and bang out a 50,000 word novel without blinking an eye. If you are, I think I might hate you.

For those of you who don't know what the heck NaNoWriMo is, it's just about the craziest thing a writer (experienced or would-be) can do. During the month of November, you will write an entire novel of at least 50,000 words. It's an awesome way to get your creative juices flowing and get in the habit of writing regularly, even if what you write turns out to be utter crap. It's OK! Embrace the crap and just get it written...that's what NaNo is all about. All you have to do to "win" is write 50,000 words. There's no competition except with yourself, and there's lots of support both online and in many local communities. It's crazy, but it's a lot of fun, so I heartily encourage everyone to give it a shot.

Who's with me?

Saturday, July 31, 2010


With just hours to spare, I finished Bubba to the Rescue and won my LAFFN Challenge! whoo hoo!!! On to the editing stage...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Only two more days for LAFFN

Well, despite all my pep talks, I haven't had a lot of time for working on Bubba to the Rescue and meet my own LAFFN goal of finishing the first draft. Last night, I lamented to Michy that it wasn't looking good for me to finish. She pointed out that I have worked on it much more than I have for the past year and a half, and I'm definitely farther than I would have been without setting the goal to finish it this month. Good point! She also said that if I put my mind to it, I could probably get it done, and I think she's right. I finished my NaNo last year by writing thousands and thousands of words per day, so maybe I can do this. I have two more days--today and tomorrow--to get done. I don't have a specific word count to get to, I just need to finish these two plot elements, and I think I have it all figured out. I have enough written that the length will be fine however much I do to finish the book. I just need to go do it, so here I go! I think I've wrapped up all my time-sensitive projects for the moment, and everything else can wait until Sunday, except for a couple of quick things. So, what am I waiting for? Why am I still talking to you? Why are you reading this when you should be LAFFN?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ever forget to write part of your book?

So, I mentioned in my last update that I wrote the end of Bubba to the Rescue, but that I had a bit in the middle I had to do before I'd be done. I finally got around to doing that tonight, and while catching up on where I'd left off, I realized there was a whole other sub plot I had to deal with that I forgot about. Dang it! Both pieces happen around the same time, but I need to go back in time a little to lay some ground work for one of them. Ugh. This is the problem with skipping around in the plot! OK, I have 9 days left of LAFFN to get this shouldn't be too hard, right? Just a few thousand words will do it. Back to work.

Monday, July 19, 2010

LAFFN checking in

Today I accomplished something big and difficult on my work in progress: I wrote the ending! yay! This is really hard for me, because I'm so afraid of screwing it up. I always struggle with endings. I had been hemming and hawing on how this book should end ever since I started it (which I HATE. I prefer knowing how a book is going to end before I even start it), but I came up with an idea a couple of weeks ago, consulted a couple of people and decided it was a good one. I've been slowly working toward it for the past couple of weeks, and I finally got there today. Phew! One hard roadblock out of the way. Now, I just need to finish the middle...there's an icky plot element I need to write, and decide how that's going to affect the rest of the story as far as one character is concerned. Then, I need to write him back in, since he's been out of most of the book pending my decision! I'm not so much looking forward to this, but it'll be easier than the ending, I think. Twelve days left to finish, and I think I'll make it. Are you LAFFN?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Halfway through LAFFN!

We're halfway through the month--are you halfway to your LAFFN goal? I'm not. I've written 1106 words, although I'm going to do a bit more after I finish this post. The good thing is, I don't have a set word count. I basically have two scenes to write, the end and a bit in the middle I'm not looking forward to writing. I'm going to wrap up a couple of work things this week, so maybe I'll have more time to write in the next two weeks. OK, back to work with me...get LAFFN!

Bubba Goes on Tour!

Pump Up Your Book! will be hosting Bubba Goes National (and me) on a virtual tour in August! Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Help a couple of worthy projects get completed! is a way to help raise funds to complete creative projects. Here are two that are near and dear to my heart!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

LAFFN is here! Get to writing!

July LAFFN has begun! Now is the time to finish that novel that's been languishing on your hard drive, or get it edited, or whatever your goal is for the month (we're really easy going here). It's go excuses! If you haven't already, visit the LAFFN forum and get to know some other LAFFers. Declare your goal, get your participant graphic, and get going.

Set a daily or weekly goal to chart your progress and check in with us...we want to help you succeed! You'll never get that baby published if you don't at least finish it. My goal is to finish Bubba to the Rescue, which is the sequel to my first novel, Bubba Goes National, which I released earlier this year. I want to get #2 done this month so I can get it edited and printed by October. I think another 10,000 words will do it, which is cake--323 words per day.

What's your goal? Let's get LAFFN!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Countdown: One week to get LAFFN!

July LAFFN is just one week away! You have one week left to set yourself up for success. I'm going to start working on some graphics you can post on your blogs, websites, forum signatures, etc. Sooo...if you want one of these nifty things, stop by and proclaim your intent to participate and what your goal is. We'll have a participant graphic and a winner graphic...whee!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Just two more weeks until we get LAFFN!

I meant to post this yesterday, but didn't instead...we have just two weeks until LAFFN (Let's All Finally Finish a Novel), where we pledge to finish our works in progress during the month of July! Remember, the rules are simple: make LAFFN about whatever is most beneficial to you, as long as you're writing. You can finish a NaNoWriMo novel, or that treatise on the effect of the Vietnam War on the local economy, or that book of essays. Maybe your plan is to write a 200,000 word book, so you just want to get 50,000 done in July. Heck, you could even write an entire book during the month if you don't have a WIP to finish. Whatever floats your boat, man, it's all good. Just write! Time to stop sitting around and saying how you OUGHT to finish that book...time to DO it!

Get involved with other LAFFers at

What can you do right now to ensure your success, you ask? Here are some suggestions:

1. Reread your WIP to refresh yourself on what it's about, timelines, important details, etc.

2. Brainstorm on plot elements, story lines, the ending, and so on. Outline it, if that helps you.

3. Unlike NaNo, you're allowed to work on your book before LAFFN actually starts. If throwing a few words on the page now will help you cross the finish line by July 31, go for it.

4. Warn your family and friends that you will be busy in July and to be prepared not to bother you. You have important stuff going on!

5. Recruit your family and friends to join you, so you're not the only one going through this madness. See if you can set up some write-ins, where you all set up shop at someone's house, a cafe, etc. and all write together. You can do word wars, etc., to egg everyone on.

Any other suggestions?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Blog Talk Radio shows for writers and readers

I recently discovered some Blog Talk Radio shows that I thought my writer friends might want to look into for promotional opportunities, and my reader friends might enjoy to find new authors and books. It's called Red River Radio, and they have several shows every month. These are generally talk show format type of shows where there is a guest author or two and on some of them book club members join in a discussion with the guests to ask about their books, their writing process, etc.

I have been asked to be an assistant for one of the hosts, Fran Lewis, in her book club discussions the third Wednesday of every month at 10AM Pacific. My job will be to answer the phone and monitor the chat room for questions. My first show is next Wednesday, the 16th, and I'm very excited! I hope you all will listen in...and check out the other Red River Radio shows. You just might find your new favorite author or get the opportunity to talk about your own book live on the air.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Suite101 Spring into Summer Challenge

Suite101 is having a challenge this month to write 20 articles in 30 days. Everyone who does it will be entered in a drawing for one of 30 prizes of $101! Complete details are at I'm going to do it...even if I don't win, it'll be good incentive to get me writing. Oh, and then there will be the added revenue from having more articles! I only have to post five more before I get a 10% income bonus on my revenue share, so this will put me over the edge. It's a win-win. Who's with me?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Are you ready to get LAFFN?

My plan was to have LAFFN (Let's All Finally Finish a Novel) twice per year: January and July. July is just around the corner, so it's time to start gearing up! I didn't get very far in January, but now that I don't have a day job anymore, I'm ready to finish the first sequel to Bubba Goes National. It's called Bubba to the Rescue, and I have 51,104 words in it so far. I think another 20k or so will do it. I'm still working on reading everything I'd already written since I'd forgotten since the previous NaNo and editing/adding as I go. My goal for June is to finish that, decide where the story is going and maybe add a couple more chapters so I'm well set to finish this sucker in July. I would like to get it published by November 1st, so I'll need to get right on editing, rewriting and formatting and all the rest of it.

As an extra incentive, I'm going to give all participants a prize: a graphic you can post on your blog, facebook, writer's forums, etc. "Winners" will get a second, equally special, winner graphic! How can you pass this up? And all for free, folks. Magical.

OK, LAFFers, what's your goal? Are you with me?

Don't know what the heck I'm talking about? Read my blog post about it to get the scoop.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Book signing number two

Last night, a friend hosted me for a book signing at her barn at a horse show. The show had a fun progressive barn party (each barn served something different like pulled pork sandwiches, hamburgers, barbecued corn, wine, cupcakes, etc., and you wander around and just stuff yourself. There's a scene in Bubba Goes National where they do one!), so I set up my table during the barn party when a lot of people were wandering around. A lot of people stopped by to see what I was doing, and I sold several copies of Bubba, Elements of the Soul and The Ultimate Horse Lover. People were really excited to see the books, which was nice. Some didn't have money on them and promised to come back during the weekend, so I may sell a couple more. It was really fun! Greg had made fliers for me to post around the show ground so people would know about it and come look for me, but I didn't get them up until the afternoon...and probably not enough of them. That was a bummer. However, I'm happy with how it went!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My first book signing in the books!

My poor neglected blog...I haven't posted much here, despite so many exciting things happening! Here's a whirlwind catch-up: published Bubba Goes National in January. Got it into two brick-and-mortar stores in my area, on Amazon, and Not a blockbuster quite yet, but I am selling them. Sold out my first order and had to order more. Almost sold out of those and there are more on the way. Set up my first signing at a used bookstore here in Folsom. That's what I'll talk about today!

Before going to my signing, I read a lot about what I should do, particularly at AbsoluteWrite and Accentuate. I tried to be prepared...I didn't have everything suggested, like a name tag or a big poster, but I did have a sign with my name and the prices of the books, business cards, fliers and of course books. I didn't do nearly enough promotion due to being tied up at work and then getting sick, so fliers didn't go up around town until yesterday. I did do some promotion online. One person came because of that, but just to say hi, not to make a purchase. I sent press releases to 9 media outlets, none of whom did anything with it except (thanks, John!).

I'll run through my day in roughly chronological order with my thoughts:

Since the signing was scheduled to start at 1:00, I had all morning to gather my things, shower, put on makeup (those of you who know me well know that's a big deal), etc. Greg helped me decide what to wear. I left around the time I wanted to, since I had to stop at Office Max for a couple things. I also decided to go to Starbucks and get a traveler pack of coffee to offer passers-by in hopes of luring them in. I got to the store in plenty of time and was set up and ready to go by 12:55, and the shop owner was quite gracious...she said I was better prepared than most authors she hosted. Win!

One of the suggestions I was given was to have some sort of give-away. My bookmarks didn't arrive in time, so I had candy. I only gave out a few pieces, but I was glad to have it since I got a dry throat a couple times and needed to suck on something. I also autographed a bunch of the business cards I brought so I could hand them out, and it gave me something to do. I did give out a few, and I put one with each book I sold.

It turns out, no one wants coffee in the afternoon when it's 70 degrees out. No one. After finishing off my caramel frappuccino I got for free because they were practicing, I had a cup of the coffee I brought. That was all that got used. I brought the rest home and will drink it iced over the next few days! Maybe that's a better idea for morning signings, or cold day signings.

The advice I was given was to not sit behind my table, but to walk around and basically grab people and pitch them. Well, I'm shy. I didn't manage that...I sat behind my table. However, I did force myself to smile brightly and say hello to everyone who passed. If they slowed down and looked interested, I launched into a little pitch about what I was doing there. In most cases, they weren't interested in making a purchase but took a flier or business card. In one case, I sold a book to a perfect stranger. Win! I was totally exhilarated. Also, two people I know who knew I was there today stopped by to buy books and have them signed, so that was nice.

Sooo....I sold a total of three books. The shop owner said that was actually good! LOL! There wasn't a lot of traffic, and it being a used book store, most people going in wanted bargains. So, I did feel good about myself for doing it and I learned some lessons, and I'll be better prepared for next time. I made sales I didn't expect to make, so I'm calling it a success.

Lessons learned:

1. Don't bother trying to give away hot coffee on a warm day.
2. Bring something for myself to drink other than coffee. I'll be buzzed until next week!
3. Bring snacks. Candy doesn't count. I'm starved...and wired!
4. Next time, get up and be more forward and outgoing. Everyone was nice, and one is rarely mortally wounded by a rejection.
5. Test pens before using them. The ones I bought on the way over sucked.

I think that's about it!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Windswept Destiny Publishing Announces Book Signing for Bubba Goes National

Folaom Author Jennifer Walker Signs her debut novel, Bubba Goes National

Folsom, CA April 4, 2010 - Windswept Destiny Publishing, an imprint of Twin Trinity Media, announced today that Folsom resident Jennifer Walker will be signing her debut novel, Bubba Goes National, at Colton Books, 651 East Bidwell Street in Folsom on April 17th, 2010 from 1:00 to 4:00pm. She will also offer two anthologies that contain her stories, Elements of the Soul and The Ultimate Horse Lover.

Bubba Goes National is about 13-year-old Leslie Clark, who lives with her widowed father. She loves horses but he can’t afford them, so she works for a horse trainer to earn lessons. She saves up her money to buy her own horse and finds an Arabian gelding at a livestock auction, which she buys. Lucky, nicknamed Bubba by Leslie’s teasing father, had been cast off by his breeders but is a dream come true for Leslie. Together, they work their way to the Arabian horse National Championships.

Although Bubba Goes National was written for the 10 to 14-year-old market, it has appeal for horse lovers of all ages. Readers will learn a little about horse care and showing while reading a delightful story about working hard to make one’s dreams come true.

Michelle L. Devon, author and owner of Accentuate Services, says, “Bubba Goes National is a sweet story, but it also tackles some of the more difficult issues teens have to deal with these days, such as: death of a parent, competitive rivalry, overcoming tough obstacles, and working hard to earn something. It’s a story any teen girl who has ever dreamed of having her own horse will want to read, and horse-loving grownup girls will too!”

Bubba Goes National is available at a cover price of $12.95. Books can be purchased at the signing, at Colton Books in Folsom and at Christensen’s Saddlery in Loomis. Additionally, autographed copies can be purchased at It is also available through online retailers and major distributors, such as Ingrams, Coutt’s, Baker & Taylor, Blackwell Book Services and Holt Jackson.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Halfway through LAFFN

Today is January 16th, and we are halfway through LAFFN. How are you doing? Are you halfway done? I'm not. I haven't had much time to work on it, although I try to do just a little every day. I'm still reading through my first draft and editing/adding to it as I go. I'm on page 46 of 112. Lots of stuff going on in my life this month, but I'll keep making a little time for it every day!

If you're feeling like you should just give up because it's halfway through the month and you've hardly accomplished anything, or haven't even started, DON'T GIVE UP. Pick up your manuscript right now and get something done on it. Even if you only spend ten minutes on it every day, you'll be making progress. Maybe tomorrow you can spend a couple of hours and get caught up. Even one page or one paragraph is better than where you were yesterday!


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tragic barn fire in Northeast--donations needed

Passing this along. Please help if you can:

Dear Friends,

As many in the northeast may have already heard, longtime Arabian trainer and breeder Randy Stoneback suffered a devastating loss after a barn fire at his Pennsylvania facility claimed the lives of eight training horses, two of whom had just recently won National Championships at Sport Horse Nationals, and virtually all of the farm equipment, including trailer, tractors, spreaders, tack and hay. The fire, believed to have been electrical in nature, started at approximately 4:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, and so quickly engulfed the building that the Stonebacks were able to get to only a few horses in that barn. The facility is comprised of several different barns, so over fifty stalls, and many more horses, still remain at the farm, but virtually all of their equipment and hay perished in the fire.

Randy and his family have been breeding Arabian horses for over fifty years, and Randy has been a professional trainer in Pennsylvania his whole life. Randy’s parents, Dr. Stoneback and his wife, Marge, are long-time fixtures on the East Coast Arabian horse scene, and had just recently moved back in with Randy due to health problems. Both the doctor and his wife are currently hospitalized, and have not yet been informed of the accident.

Obviously, there are many items needed immediately to continue the operations at the farm while they recover from this accident, as well as to replace much of the equipment. Friends who would like to help are welcome to send a tax deductible contribution to The Arabian Horsemen’s Distress Fund, with a notation on the check that the funds are to be earmarked for the Stonebacks. The fund is a separate, restricted fund with 501c3 charitable status, managed by a five person board, and the family will be sent notification of all who have donated.

The address to send donations, with a note earmarking that they be directed towards Stonebacks, is

The Arabian Horsemen’s Distress Fund
236 Henry Sanford Road
Bridgewater, CT 06752

If you would prefer to donate by credit card on line, simply go to , where you will find a button that says Make A Donation, which will take you to a secure Paypal site where you can make your donation, after which you can send an e-mail to to note that you would like to earmark it for Stonebacks.

During these times when the worst happens, the best and saving grace is to experience the strong sense of community that surrounds our Arabian horse world. If you would like to send a personal message, the address is Randy Stoneback, 127 Tripps Lane, Strattanville, PA 15258.

Mary Trowbridge
The Arabian Horsemen’s Distress Fund

Elements of Time available for pre-sale!

If you enjoyed Elements of the Soul (and who wouldn't?), you might also enjoy Elements of Time, another short story and poem anthology. Although I am not in this one, I heartily encourage you to purchase a copy and support the contributing authors! The pre-sale price is only $9.99.

If you haven't ordered Elements of the Soul yet (in which I have TWO stories), you can order both books and their coordinating bookmarks together, as a bundle, for just $20! Click here to order the bundle.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


All right, I'm still sick, but I've started reading my 2008 nano, editing as I go. When I get to a scene that needs to be written/finished, I'll do that as it comes, and then I'll continue working on it until it's done! I hope everyone is doing well!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

LAFFN has officially begun!

Hey folks, I had meant to start posting a couple of days ago, but I've been down for the count with a kidney infection and not spending much time on the computer! LAFFN has officially begun. Have you? I have to admit I haven't, what with not being on the computer at all. Since I'll be finishing my nano from 2008, I need to read it to re-familiarize myself with it and get back into the groove of it. Then, I can start writing...I should have started that days ago, but oh well! No time like the present. Once I get going, I'll have to write about 1,000 words a day, but that's cake after nano!