Happy Valentine’s Day…

I wanted to take a minute to wish all of you a Happy Valentine’s Day and to apologize for being MIA for the past few days. It has been one heck of a week for my family on a personal level. 

So, first of all I would love to send a special THANK YOU out to Angela Ackerman from The Bookshelf Muse at http://thebookshelfmuse.blogspot.com/ for the amazing post that she did for us on Monday!!

Second, I would like to officially say that the February Writing Challenge eds today!

Third, be on the lookout for two more author interviews heading your way!!

Thank you all so very much for being as awesome as you are!!

Welcome our Guest Blogger: Angela Ackerman from The Bookshelf Muse!!!!!!!!

I’ll never make it.
I should just quit.
I am a total loser.

Bleak words, aren’t they? Still, a familiar echo to anyone receiving the soul-consuming rejection letter.

A perfectly good day can go sour at seeing, ‘Dear Author’. Our breath cuts off, our chest tightens, the shoulders sag and despair slams us down. We ask ourselves why we put ourselves through this, why we can’t just catch a break.

Unfortunately being rejected (or e-jected) is just another part of the writing gig, like metaphors and modifiers. Rejection is out there, it will come for us at some point. Some letters hurt, others can devastate. All of them challenge our self belief.

Staying positive in the face of rejection is tough. Each time our confidence is scraped, the rejection a message that our writing isn’t good enough to take on, which we translate into meaning WE are not good enough.

Sometimes moving past rejection is as simple as firing out a few more queries, tightening a synopsis or revising that first chapter for the 900th time. Other times, rejection can cause our foundation of determination and self-belief to quake. We feel like we’re letting everyone around us down, including ourselves. Maybe we should face facts and pack it in.

During these black moments, it’s important to find a way to shift our thoughts out of the self-critical mode. This is difficult, but it can be done if we look at the rejection in a different light: as opportunity.

I know what you’re thinking—rejections are closed doors. What opportunity could their possibly be from a ‘sorry, not for me’ type rejection?

There are always things to learn, even from form rejections to queries. The trick is shifting the way you think from the negative to the positive. When a rejection pulls you down, consider these questions:

What does the agent/editor need?
What is my responsibility to them?
What can I learn from this?
How can I see this rejection differently?

Let’s look at each one of these for a sec.

What does the agent/editor need?

The sarcastic answer to this is, ‘Not my work, obviously.’ But if you can set aside the hurt and place yourself in their shoes, there’s insight to be had on their side of the desk. Pretend you are the agent or editor opening this query—what do they need from you? What will make them successful?

They need to see a compelling query, well written with a character and voice that calls to them. They want to find something different, something that peaks their interest & makes it a no-brainer to scribble a note telling you to please forward the book. At the end of the day, this person wants to sign great writers, and they’d like nothing better for this query to make them tingle in anticipation! They need a strong story and polished writing. They want to see a query from someone who has targeted them specifically because of who they represent/publish.

What is my responsibility to them?

It is the writer’s responsibility to write a strong, inviting query that offers enough information to make the agent/editor NEED to know what happens next–not too little, not too much. Give them the shape of it, a strong sense of the character, voice and style. Your best work shows them you are dedicated to this story being published. You do this by slaving over the query, polishing it until it shines as brightly as your belief in the book itself. You also show that you chose them specifically because they are a great fit, not that you spammed them with your query, hoping for the best.

What can I learn from this?

Once again, turn an honest eye to the query. Evaluate whether you satisfied the editor/agent’s needs and fulfilled your responsibilities. Is there something you can do better, or did this query simply hit your ‘good enough’ meter at the time you sent it out? Have you done all the research on the market that you can, do you feel a niggle of guilt over a corner you may have cut somewhere? Did you edit enough, critique enough, tweak enough? Have you done all you can to make this query a success, as well as any materials you sent with it (synopsis, bio, first chapter, etc?)

How can I see this rejection differently?

Of all the questions above, this one is the most important. When depression hits over a rejection, asking yourself this will lead you to a balanced perspective again. Because a rejection is in essence a negative, this question challenges you to find the positive.

Think of the positive things this rejection symbolizes for you, or write them down if you like. First, it shows you had the courage to send out your work. It proves you believed in your story enough to get it published. This leads you to think about how far your writing has come, how your talent has grown, how many stories you’ve written or how long you’ve worked to perfect this one.

Seeing the rejection differently sets you on a path that allows you to re-appreciate your own growth as a writer and your determination to reach your publication goal. How many writers have you helped along the way? How many writers believe in you, cheer you on and know you can succeed? Focus on your strengths and your accomplishments.

Finding the positive in any circumstance can revive confidence, lighten mood and bolster determination. Too, your body responds to positive thinking, helping to slough off despair and doubt. Breathing is easier, tension leaks from the muscles. Posture straightens as thoughts return to moving forward, and what can be done to ensure success. Suddenly the rejection is put back into perspective–one person’s opinion, not a career-ender.

Try this for yourself the next time a rejection hits you hard–it really does work!


Angela Ackerman

Angela Ackerman is a Canadian who writes on the darker side of Middle Grade and Young Adult and is a strong believer in writers helping writers. She blogs at the award winning resource, The Bookshelf Muse and is co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, a writing tool which helps writers navigate the challenging terrain of showing character emotion. Covering seventy-five emotions, this brainstorming aid provides a large selection of body language, internal sensations, actions and thoughts associated with any emotional moment.

What’s Up…

Hey Everyone, I just wanted to fill you on in on what is happening in my writing world this coming week. Author interviews, guest bloggers and the winding down of the February Writing Challenge.

On Monday the 11th we will be having a guest blog post and the guest herself will be sticking around to answer and questions or comments that you may have!! Her blog is VERY popular and I am very excited that I was able to convince her to do a post for us!!

Later in the week, the writing challenge will be ending and I am very bummed that we don’t have any entrants yet. So fun and easy, maybe next time.

I will also be posting another author interview toward the end of the week and I love that!! I am always excited to hear from other author’s and what makes them tick and stuff. ha ha

One last thing, you may notice that when I make comments and posts, it may say from, “FRaPS: Family, Relationships and Personal Situations” …no worries, that is still me, but it is for my business (as my writing is for fun) and my company just expanded onto the internet and I will be blogging for them. I love WordPress, but I can’t seem to figure out how to have more than one identity at a time on here. Oh well. Either way it is still me that you are talking to. 😉


The Pirate Captain by Kerry Lynne

Today I am posting an author interview that I did with Kerry Lynne, the author of The Pirate Captain. I hope you all fall in love with her and her book as much as I did!!


How would you describe The Pirate Captain to someone who has yet to read it?

As a pirate novel, The Pirate Captain is unlike anything they might have read. It’s not a romance novel, although it does have a powerful romantic thread. (One woman on a ship with two hundred men; how could you not?) Neither is it a Treasure Island wannabe, although it does have a good deal of adventure and action. You might describe it as Pirates of the Caribbean meets Master and Commander and not an “argh!!” is uttered.

It’s the story of scarred and damaged people (both physically and mentally) and how they manage to get through life.

It’s the story of trust, or rather, the lack of, in both other people and that Providence will ever smile again.

The nautical aspect was my greatest worry. If you’re dealing with pirates, you have to have ships and sailing, but that can be overwhelming, and hence scary, to the landlubber. I wanted this book to be a stepping stone into that world, a little finger crooking, saying “Com’mon, it’s safe. You can do it.” In that spirit, I made a special effort to keep the “nauticalese” to a minimum and introduced it slowly, allowing the reader to learn as he/she reads along. Luckily Cate Mackenzie, the heroine through whose eyes most of this is seen, isn’t a very good sailor. There’s a glossary pdf available at our website www.piratecaptain.net (where there are several excerpts as well), which is included at the end of the e-book version. In the meantime, I know the purists would crucify me, because it’s not 100% accurate.

Which part of writing/researching The Pirate Captain was the most personally interesting to you?

The pirates themselves are a fascination. You might call them one of the first democracies, since their captains, and often their officers, were elected. They were also one of the first limited corporations, their only pay being a portion of the profits, the shares. Every ship had its “corporate charter”, a ship’s code that every man must sign. Many of those contained the first disability insurance, allowing special portions for injury, with an escalating scale for severity. They were business contracts, but the main point was to assure there would be none of the abuses common on Navy or merchant ships, where the captain was “the only under God.”

There are relatively few first hand records of pirates from anyone other than magistrates, enraged citizens or captives (none being what you could call impartial.) A vast number of pirates couldn’t write. Many of the ship’s logs (their daily diary, if you will) were destroyed when they were captured, lest they be incriminated by their own hand. Some people have referred to the pirates as an 18th Century version of Hell’s Angels, pillaging and terrifying towns. Others have compared them to rock stars, because in many places they were wildly popular (pockets full of money can make anyone popular). I tried to see them as all that, but also as people, with all the same needs and goals as anyone else.

The other fascination in research was learning how much of our modern daily language comes from the Golden Age of Sailing. Scuttlebutt, bitter end, toe the line, slush fund, three squares a day, worth his salt, between the Devil and the deep were all from back then. There are scads more. The language of those mariners is still with us.

A historical fiction writer’s greatest challenge is gleaning the modern sound from your prose and finding the period voice. My greatest treasure is a set of Patrick O’Brian audiobooks a friend of mine gave me for Christmas. It helped with the period, the British accent and the nauticalese. Reading and listening are far different things; each employs different parts of the brain. My advice to anyone writing historical fiction is to find something of this nature that relates to the period in which you are writing and listen, long and hard, perhaps daily as you drive. It will get your ear trained, and help you “hear” your descriptive and character voices.

What are you reading right now? Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?

I was a thick book lover from the very first. I read Gone with the Wind and Michener’s Hawaii every summer from the time I was about twelve, until well after college (where I unfortunately developed the habit of reading like I was going to be tested). I was a big lover of the Westward Movement in US History, and so read such things as The Big Sky, Lonesome Dove and Centennial. You’ll notice the love of thick books didn’t change. If it’s thin, I won’t pick it up. Later, a friend introduced me to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, and I had found a real home then. That was when I thought “I want to write like this!” She was also the one who gave me permission to start someplace other than “Chapter One, page one.”

What was the book that most influenced your life — and why?

Gone with the Wind was probably my coming of age book. It introduced me to historical fiction. Gabaldon’s Outlander came at just the right time, and led to a very long sequence of events.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The theme to The Pirate Captain is a little different. In most books, the plot revolves around the hero or heroine striving to achieve something, their prize. In The Pirate Captain, Cate (and Nathan Blackthorne, the hero, for that matter) gain what their prize straightaway. The story hinges on what lengths a person is willing to go to in order to keep what they want.

My main goal was to create a world and characters into which the reader could escape.

My dream was to be told “I couldn’t put it down” or “I didn’t want to stop reading.” It’s happened a couple times, but I don’t think a writer could ever hear that too much.

What inspired you to write your first book? Like so many, being one with a vivid imagination, I did a lot of writing in high school, some of it what we would call fan-fiction today. My Creative Writing teacher had suggested I try to publish some short stories and novellas. In college, a couple history professors urged that I should try to publish some of my papers. Life got in my way after that.

Then came the day that every time I walked through the living room my husband was watching Pirates of the Caribbean on TV. One of the movie channels was running it seemingly day and night. He kept insisting that I should sit down and watch it, so being the dutiful wife, I did. I hooted and jeered, pointing out all the inaccuracies and unlikelihood’s, but my husband just kept saying “Don’t over-think it. Don’t over-think it.” So I did.

I’m not quite sure what happened, but the imagination was triggered once more. I got involved with some online writing groups. I discovered that there was a whole world of people like me, who had stories constantly buzzing around in their heads. I think fan-fiction is a great venue to practice and hone your skills, because you already have an eager audience with common interests, everyone learning to write together. Eventually, however, I found the canon characters were too limiting. I wanted to stretch out and explore, so enter Cate Mackenzie and Nathanael Blackthorne, two very flawed people.

It’s natural that Nathan, my pirate captain, will be compared to Pirates of the Caribbean’s Jack Sparrow. Who the heck else is there in nearly sixty years? They are both pirates, both captains, both loveable jerks, but I’d like to think Nathan sets himself apart in a number of ways. Hopefully, the reader will see the differences and agree.  

What genre do you consider your book(s)? Umm… definitely historical fiction. There is a romance, but it’s most definitely not that genre. There is action and adventure, which keeps the male reader engaged. The sailor’s life at that time was rife with superstition, so there is a certain amount of the mystical, as well. When a cannonball misses a person, is it because he’s charmed or just lucky? When a wave almost washes someone overboard, is it because a sea goddess was trying to take him or did another god intervene?

Do you ever experience writer’s block? Oh, dear. It’s like asking if I ever experienced sadness or hunger. Of course! It’s all part of the creative process.

I worked in the art field for over 30 years. During that, I learned you can train the brain. Sit in the same room, in the same chair, at the same time of day, with the same music playing… whatever, and you can condition the brain to engage and produce.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t work from beginning to end. I patchwork my way through. It’s great, because whatever pops into my head that day I go with it, and then worry about where it will fit into the grand scheme of the story later. Often it’s a line of dialogue (Nathan constantly chatters away in my head) or a bit of description, and I go with it from there.

Do you write an outline before every book you write? Egads. Just the thought gives me writer’s block. I have a general idea of where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. In the process, however, the characters often take over, taking me on their own journey.

Writing a novel is often more a matter of providing the stepping stones of getting from Point A to Point Z. I often think in terms of “Well, if I want this to happen, then this has to happen first, if it’s to make any sense. But in order for that to happen, I need this, this and this.” I often build characters backwards from what I need them to, but then every layer you add to a character leads to more complexities.

While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters? Not necessarily become one of the characters (a bit of self-insertion is inevitable), but I do strive to be in their world, feel, see, smell, hear and so on. I really feel a writer who struggles to come up with characterizations in a scene or dialogue isn’t really in connection with that character or the world they are in. The more real the characters are to the writer, the more real they are going to be for the reader… and isn’t that the whole point?

Cate Mackenzie and Nathan Blackthorne have been with me for over six years. They have become dear friends, but they still surprise me, especially Nathan. I never know what is going to fall out of his mouth. I can’t imagine leaving them, so I have plans for several sequels.

Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you. Be creative. Tell us about your first job, the inspiration for your writing, any fun details that would enliven your page.

I have a painted Christmas ornament in the Smithsonian.

President Clinton took three additional ornaments I had painted to the Middle East Peace Talks.

My first time ever sailing was in a 22-foot boat on Lake Superior, 50 miles across to Isle Royale.

What else do you want your readers to know? Consider here your likes and dislikes, your interests and hobbies, your favorite ways to unwind — whatever comes to mind.

Talking about myself is neither comfortable or interesting.

A little about Kerry:

I was a history major in college and went into teaching.

That didn’t work, so I had two office careers.

That didn’t work either.

Through a circuitous sequence of events, I wound up in the decorative painting world, where I travel taught and published for some 30 years.

And then my hand wouldn’t work.

So I went back to what I knew: writing, history and sailing.

It remains to be seen if that is working.

Kerry and her book can be found at her website: http://www.piratecaptain.net and/or on  Facebook under “Pirate Captain”.

Chicago Manual of Style

Grammar and punctuation I have always assumed was pretty basic. But now I am reading that writer’s should be following the Chicago Manual of Style. Seriously?

When has writing turned into such “right and wrong”? I love to write, for sure. But writing technicalities are making me write less. Ok, like, I know that we can all grow as writer’s and I am always willing to learn. But to read how some people say things like, They won’t pick up a book if it isn’t written in the form of this Chicago book style, then they won’t even bother.” Really?

I read, I read a lot, but I have never once judged someone’s style. I think that is what makes all of us unique in our own ways. Obviously if there is horrible punctuation and you just can’t make sense of it all, then it is difficult to follow along. But the style? Really?

I haven’t looked up this manual yet, I seem to be getting angry over some opinions that I am reading. I shouldn’t and I know that, but really, I don’t even want to write now. And this is something that I have NEVER said. Just frustrated I think.

Filtering in Fiction

How many of us do this? I do. I don’t like it, but at least I know that is something I need to work on. Does everyone know what it means?

The most basic form of a filter is when the writer tells the reader that a characters sees, hears, smells, feels (as in the sense of touch), or tastes something. A related, and slightly more nuanced filter, is when the writer tells the reader that a character notices, realizes, recognizes, or feels (as in an emotion) something.

So once you know that you are doing it, how hard is it to correct it? Hopefully not hard at all. I am guessing that once the problem is known, we watch for it, we are more aware, right? I just figured it out tonight, so I am not sure yet. But I am hoping when I get a chance to write again I will be picking up on it.

Have any of you ever been told that you are filtering too much? I would love to hear comments about it!!

Agents and Publishing…

What a brain over load!! I found a new website, well, not new, but new to me, that has a ton of information for writers. ( http://www.writersdigest.com ) And while looking through there, I found a section on literary agents and publishers.

I have been researching all through this stuff and my mind is spinning. I have been doing self publishing because of all of the talk about how hard it is to get an agent and to be published. But in all of this reading, it seems as though it is easier than I thought. (not to actually be accepted, but the process in itself)

Is it just me? I guess I never did the proper research and just went by what I was told. But I mistook people saying how hard it was, thinking they were meaning the whole process, not just getting accepted. I am still in the research process, so I am sure I will discover more, but my question to all of you is where does the money come in?

Self publishing has no up-front costs and from the looks of it, sending your work to an agent doesn’t either. When and where does the up-front costs come from? I am just curious.

I will not be near a computer until tomorrow night, but I will be curious to see what you all think. Thank you and have a great night.

Oh gosh – PS-The writing competition starts tomorrow. I have only changed one thing. Instead of it running through the entire month, I think I will have it end on Valentine’s Day instead.

First Writing Challenge

Alright, so the thought of a writing challenge seemed to go over pretty well. I have been giving this some thought and I think I am ready to start it off. I have come up with some rules to make it fun and interesting that I think will make it fair for all.

Bare with me though, because when I say “I have given it some thought” that means that I have run a million ideas through my head and these are the ones that stood out. But they may not make sense once I put them in writing. lol So please let me know if I am writing gibberish and I will try to clarify.

For each challenge, I will pick either a topic or a genre and a word limit, then it will be up to you to write it and post it on your blog or wherever it is you want it and then come back here and in the “comment” section write the title and the link that will take them to the writing piece.

Everyone will be able to go through and check out all of the stories. But the challenge will be (and I haven’t completely come up with an easy way to do this yet) to see how many votes that you get. I don’t mean how many “likes” you get on your own site, but how many of your fans are willing to take the next step and come back here and give ME their vote for you. Does that make sense? I have a small reward that I will be offering up each month for the winner. And when I say small, I mean small. It is coming out of my own pocket here, so don’t get greedy.

We all love to read and write and that is why we are all here. So won’t it be nice to just have fun for a change? It will still give you great exposure, possibly earn you ten or twenty bucks or so, all while you are just playing.

How does this sound? Should we do it? Yes, YES!! Let’s Do It!!!!


This contest will run from February 1st through February 28th, 2013.

Prize winners will be chosen by how many votes they get on here, not on your own site.

First challenge: Topic – Valentine’s Day

Genre: ANY (but please, if it contains adult content that may be offensive, mark it as such when you leave a comment to tell me where to find it. Thank you.)

Word Count:One thousand words or less.


Writing and re-writing…

Are you all ready for my dilemma of the day? I am in the process of writing my first novel (for myself) and I am four or five chapters into it, when my random imagination takes a turn and has me going back to re-write the first chapter. Do you know what that means? It means that it changed everything.

Is this normal? I am basically starting from scratch again. The same basic idea is there, and the gist of the book is the same, but how it all unravels is completely different.

I am going to save the chapters that are already written to see if they will fit in later, but I have a feeling that they won’t. I laugh at myself because when I am ghost writing I never have this problem. I wonder what the difference is? Maybe I care more and really, really want this to be a good read. I don’t know. Because I really do care when I am writing for others, but this just seems different.

Please tell me what you all think. Am I crazy or do a lot of you do the same thing?

How Far Would you Go to Help Someone?

I ask this question of you, because it was a question that was asked of me recently. I took immediate action, because that is just how I am. To me, I find it much easier to promote a complete stranger than it is to promote myself.

This author in particular can not promote her own book, because, unfortunately, she is no longer with us. Julie lost her battle with cancer in 2009. She was a creative writing major at Colorado State.

Julie kept a blog for the last seven months of her life and then her mom took that blog and turned it into a beautifully touching book called “Cell War Notebooks”.

You can read more on Julie and her life on her Facebook page. (Don’t forget to “like” her page)

If you have a few more seconds, please share it with your friends, family, and fans through Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, etc.

But, if you have a bit more time, don’t stop there.

You know how important blogging is to marketing a book, right?

Well, since Julie isn’t able to blog about her book, let’s take a day out of our lives and do it for her — like a blog-a-thon of sorts.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect time for a big event to promote Julie’s book.

Thank you and thank Shannon at Duolit for sharing this with me!!