Monday, October 29, 2012

I'm a Nut

A NaNo nut that is. (Well, I could qualify in a few nutty categories, but let's not go there).

NaNo is the National Novel Write Month event where tons of crazy folks attempt to write a 50k first draft in the 30 days of November. FUN!

I've done NaNo for a few years now. This year I participated in Camp NaNo thinking I would do that instead of the traditional NaNo. November is always crazy busy. It's report card time for me and these take hours and hours of work. Thankfully I've been working on them for the past few days, because I've jumped right back into the NaNo pool.

Why? Because I LOVE first draft writing. I love the little graphic on the site where you can see your word count grow. I love knowing I'm in the company of so many other writers. I love the word sprints. I love the silly questions on the Reference Desk forums. And I have a Shiny New Idea banging away at my skull.

So, if I'm not around, I'll be pounding away on the keyboard.

Send chocolate!

Any other NaNo nuts out there?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Maria McKenzie on the Rejection Blues

Please welcome Maria McKenzie today!

How Do You Handle Rejection Blues?
by Maria McKenzie 

As writers, we must accept rejection.  If we're not prepared for it, we don't need to be writing.  However, it's important not to take rejection personally. It's your work that's being rejected, not you as a person. Agents, editors and publishers are concerned about the bottom line. They want to make money, and they want you to make money, too. If you're not a right fit for them, it's a lose/lose situation. 

Author turned agent Jennifer Lawler says, "My problem isn't how much bad writing crosses my desk.  The problem is how much good writing I see.  I have to figure out which of these good projects is most likely to sell."

I asked writers from a couple of online writing groups how they handle rejection, and I received a variety of responses.  But before I detail those comments, I'd like to mention a gentle reminder.  Respect is the most important element of any business transaction.  Respect equals the Golden Rule: treat others as you would have them treat you.

Sending a nasty email in response to a rejection letter won't do anything to endear you to that agent/editor/publisher or their agent/editor/publisher friends.  And detailed blogging about your rejections and expletive filled opinions about those who rejected you won't get you far.  You'll establish a reputation, but not exactly the one you want.

Here are a few other points to keep in mind.  Regardless of how many rejections you get, keep persevering!  Bestselling author Bob Mayer says he got published because he submitted to everybody!  But do your homework.  Make sure that whoever you're submitting to takes the type of project you're offering.

There's someone out there who will love your story just as much as you do.  You wouldn't want someone representing you who felt only so-so about your work.  Just like you wouldn't want to marry someone who only felt so-so about you!

Sometimes, as author Holly Jacobs says about one of her books rejected more than once, " was a matter of finding the right desk on the right day for the right line."  This particular book, Everything But a Groom, became one of Booklist's Top 10 Romances in 2008.

If someone is kind enough to offer constructive criticism in a rejection letter, by all means heed the advice!  Suggested changes usually apply to mechanics, rather than story elements. 

Agents are hesitant to explain why they reject something regarding your story.  Jennifer Lawler explains, "This business is subjective; what I think is wrong with your novel may be what the next agent thinks is right with it."  Here’s one last tip:  Do not email an agent and ask why you were rejected.  As busy as they are, they don’t have time to answer you!

Here's some encouraging insight from other writers on rejection.  I promised anonymity to all respondents so I took the liberty of creating new identities for them.  Which identity do you best relate to?

"I run to my writer friends for comfort, advice and 'been-there-toos.'"  The Seeker

"I framed my first non-form rejection letter. Now I just file the others away."  The Sentimentalist

"I used to get really depressed when I got rejected. Now I just shrug and look for someplace else to send the story."  The Realist

"I've worked in competitive environments all my life: air personality/operations manager/account manager/radio talk show host, TV sports anchor, etc. Slumps are part of those businesses, and so too are rejections from agents and publishers. You can't dwell on them, you have to learn from them. 'No' is just a word, losing is not a lifestyle."  The Coach

"I found that in the process of becoming a serious writer, the rejections didn't mean so much after a while.  It became a part of the process. Now when I get a rejection, I send that piece out to the next publisher on the list."  The Perseverer

"I tend to over think things.  There's no way I can know the reason for the rejection. So I just ignore it and move on. Getting better at the craft is a personal experience.  The process of getting published has absolutely nothing to do with the journey of becoming a better writer."  The Philosopher

I hope you’ve been encouraged by these words of wisdom and advice from fellow writers on confronting the “Dreaded R!” And remember, there’s always the option of going independent—that’s what I did!

Now it’s your turn, how do you handle rejection?

Maria McKenzie writes historical fiction with romantic elements.  She is the author of Amazon bestseller The Governor’s Sons and Escape: Book One of the Unchained Trilogy.  She is currently at work on part two, Masquerade.  Maria is a member of RWA and Ohio Valley RWA.  Visit her at, and follow her on Twitter:  @maria_mckenzie.

Thanks for the great post, Maria! Rejection is TOUGH to handle. I'm working on being more like the Realist. How about you?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Twitter Hashtags Part 2

I'm over at From the Write Angle today talking more about Twitter Hashtags that are useful for writers.

I remember joining twitter and signing up for a blog one afternoon a couple of summers ago. I had NO idea what I was doing on either front. Fun times! Eventually I made sense of blogging - tweeting took me a little longer. TweetDeck & TweetChat helped me enormously. Do you use either of those applications? How do you make sense of tweeting?

I'm thinking there will be one more post in November in the series. Any tags you think would be useful to share? Hope you'll pop on over and visit!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Happy Birthday to Lenny!

I hope you all know the wonderful Lenny Lee. If not, I'm about to give you a bunch of reasons you really have to meet him. To know Lenny really is to love him!

  • Lenny loves animals (especially raccoons) and is interested in their care.
  • Lenny loves writing and is willing to take the risk of putting his thoughts on paper and having people read them. To me this = brave!
  • Lenny is always willing to listen and learn. He often posts lessons of what he's learned and these lessons are very helpful!
  • Lenny is full of joy and if you read his posts, you'll always find yourself smiling.
  • Lenny always uses interesting fonts and colours in his posts and reminds me to take more care with my own!
  • Lenny is a fighter. He never gives up. When I told him our family had been hit by one of life's random curve balls, he told me the trick was to keep swinging. He's so right.
  • Lenny IS pure sunshine!

Thank you Lenny for being you and always making me smile! I hope you having the happiest of birthdays ever! Welcome to the world of teenagers - have fun!!!

(royalty free/public domain clip art from

Monday, October 15, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays: Nerd Camp

Shannon Whitney Messenger created Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays to bring attention to some fabulous books. I'm playing along this week! :)

Nerd Camp by Elissa Brent Weissman

What a fun story!! You're going to love Gabe. He's a very bright kid who is super excited to be going to sleepaway camp - at the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment. The twist comes when he meets his soon-to-be-step-brother Zack - who is cool - and who doesn't even like to read and thinks nerds are 'weird' ... 'You can't be on a math team and be cool!'

Gabe starts to wonder if he is 'just' a nerd - if that's all he is. He also wants to hide his true self from Zack. The camp is 6 weeks long and Gabe meets some great new friends and has all kinds of fun and adventures. He keeps track of his acitvities in a chart - trying to discover if he is 'a nerd who only has nerdy adventures'. His wry comments and insights will crack you up!

Another thing I really liked with this story was the relationship between the kids and their adults - positive relationships all around. Awesome! :)

You're going to love going on this journey of discovery and fun with Gabe - he's a great kid!

I only did one week of overnight camp - & I hated pretty much every minute. My friend got sick and couldn't go. No fun being the lonely shy kid! How about you? Did you like overnight camps?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Barbara DeLeo & First Loves

Today I'd like to welcome a new visitor! Barbara DeLeo is here to promote her debut release Contract for Marriage published by Entangled Publishing. Take it away Barbara!

Hi Jemi,

Thanks so much for having me on the blog today. It’s lovely to be here.

Hands up who has a bad first love story.....

Oh, I see there are a few of us. {:o)

First loves have a bad rep really, don’t they? We all know that absolutely insane feeling of falling in love for the first time, the racing heart, the weak knees.... and the gut wrenching pain when it’s all over. You think it’s going to last forever doesn’t.

I fell for my first real love in my first year of college (funnily enough it wasn’t curly headed Hamish who gave me a really thick silver bracelet with HAMISH written on it when I was 13....then asked for it back after he decided he liked someone better...).

My college man was everything I’d imagined in a first serious boyfriend. He was tall (well, taller than me), he was dark, and he was very handsome. It wasn’t a quick romance, we were together seven years and it did, indeed, end in tears. We’d grown up together, had our first jobs together, moved to a different town together and had become a part of each others’ families. When we broke up it was like a whole part of me was missing.

I guess in lots of ways we were like Ruby and Christo in Contract for Marriage. We met as teenagers, had some incredibly intense times and then went our separate ways.

Christo and Ruby knew each other for many years by the time they got together in their late teens. Maybe it was the fact that they had known each other so well that led to such an intense relationship, and then such a fiery breakup. When they meet again, ten years later, the intensity of that early relationship hasn’t diminished at all, in spite of the different choices they’ve made in their lives, and it sends them reeling.

 So what do we do with those intense feelings when we meet an old flame again? Ignore them? Put them down to nostalgia? When Ruby and Christo are faced with the desire that still burns, there’s one major problem—despite knowing the capacity they have for destroying each other, they can’t walk away this time. They’re both trapped by circumstance and it could tear both them, and the lives of those around them, apart.

I’d love to hear a first love story about you or someone you know. I have an e-copy of Contract for Marriage to give away to one commenter!

P.S. Oh, and the very handsome college boyfriend I was with for seven years and then apart from for two? We celebrate our fourteenth wedding anniversary next year.....{:o)

Contract for Marriage

Buy from Barnes and Noble or Amazon or Kobo

 You can find Barbara at:

Barbara’s Bio

Barbara DeLeo’s first book, co-written with her best friend, was a story about beauty queens in space. She was eleven, and the sole, handwritten copy was lost years ago, much to everyone’s relief. It’s some small miracle that she kept the faith and is now living her dream of writing sparkling contemporary romance with unforgettable characters.

After completing degrees in Psychology and English then travelling the world, Barbara married her winemaker hero and had two sets of twins. She still loves telling stories about finding love in all the wrong places, with not a beauty queen or spaceship in sight.


Love that story, Barbara!! Can't wait to read the book either - sounds great!

So, who's willing to share their first love stories?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Jayden's Story

Natalie Bahm is here today. As you're about to see, Natalie is one of the sweetest people I know!

A Book to Help a Baby

A few years ago, I wrote a middle grade adventure called The Secret Underground. It’s about a group of kids who dig a tunnel to an abandoned steel mill.  There’s danger and fun and friendship and a few scary bank robbers (think Goonies).  It’s always been really special to me because it was the first book I finished that I was really proud of.

A little over a week ago, The Secret Underground was finally released. All of the profits will go to a sick baby named Jayden and his family.

Jayden is a sweet two-year-old with major health problems. He's the same age as my youngest child, but he’s only half his size.  Jayden struggles to put on weight and is constantly in the hospital because he has no reserves when he gets sick.  He’s been near death more than once, but has shown that he’ll fight to hang on.

His family has been through so much.  Along with the stress and anxiety of dealing with Jayden's condition, they're also struggling financially, due to the massive burden of caring for a chronically ill child.

Jayden’s grandmother is my critique partner.  When she told me about the trials that Jayden and his family were facing, I knew I needed to do something to help. I called up agent, Sara Megibow, and asked if we could do a book for him.  She thought it was wonderful idea, so with the support of Nelson Literary Agency, we published The Secret Underground. 

You can read more about the project and Jayden here. The paperback version of The Secret Underground is available on Amazon.  The eBook can be purchased just about anywhere eBooks are sold.  The audiobook is available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes.  The paperback will be in more online bookstores soon.

See! Told you Natalie was a sweetie!! Hope you're inspired to pick up a copy of the book! :)