Monday, December 13, 2010

It's time...for COVER ART!

(Copyright © 2010 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited
® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.)

All I can say is YAY!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Figure out who you are...and then be YOU

My first tip. And the most important one I think. Again, I don't claim to be an expert on publishing or getting published. In this industry, I'm not sure you're an expert even after years of inking contracts, simply because things change so much in the publishing world over time. So, of course, take everything I say, figure out what--if anything--is useful to you, and throw out the rest.

Alright, on to my tip. I thought about this because tomorrow I'm acting as an editor so my friend's students can have a mock pitch session. Having done these from the author's end more times than I can count, I'm excited to sit on the other side of the table.

So, I got to thinking, what is the most important thing I've learned meeting so many different editors?

Simple. Be yourself.

So many people try to figure out what a particular editor, house, etc. want them to be...want their work to be. They write, trying to channel Faulkner or Hemingway, or whatever famous author they admire. When you do this, however, you lose the essence of your work. Your voice.

Editors don't want another Faulkner, Hemingway, Tom Clancy, etc. It's already been done. And most likely, any attempts to imitate will actually impair your work. Instead of focusing on the heart of your story, you're worried about sounding similar to those who have gone before.

So, find your own voice. And embrace it. Perhaps you don't write long, flowery, make-the-reader-weep-with-the-beauty-of-it prose. Maybe you are better suited to comedic writing than dark, brooding suspense.

Same goes for meeting editors or agents at a conference. Relax and be yourself. Whatever your zany quirks, or unique traits, they make you more personable...and real. These people are professionals and can spot a fake from a mile away. Authenticity is a plus.

Now, that doesn't give anyone the license to be rude (simply because that's how you normally are ;o), or creepy. So I suppose today has two tips. Be authentic. And respectful.

Any experiences with editors or agents that went brilliantly well or incredibly badly? Share and we'll all commiserate or celebrate together.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Where hast thou been?


Holidays are always a time of craziness for me and the fam. Simply because there are so many of us to try and coordinate schedules around.

Much like last year, I battled with the Turkey.

And I like to think I won. Again. (If my family's to be believed, or perhaps they were just scared I would chuck a turkey leg at them if they didn't pour on the compliments). So, current score:

Mandy 2...Turkey 0.

Then, of course, came the half-crazed shopping before the sun was up on Friday. My sister, who spent the night so we could hit the road early, and I were up at 2:35 am and out the door ten minutes later. We made it back home about 11, after meeting our dear friends for some shopping and breakfast.

Then...decorating time! I kept assuring my daughter that the house was going to be a Christmas Wonderland by the time we were done. She's not totally convinced. And we're out of decorations.

Now it's back to writing.

I've got a plan for December. Leading us up to Christmas, I'm thinking about my "gifts" to y'all being the 25 tips to getting published. (Because I LOVE to pretend to be an authority on all things ;o) But seriously, it'll be some helpful, some humorous, and some random insights into making this crazy, unbelievable dream come true.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rainy days and Mondays...

Another rainy Monday here in the big SC.

As I was driving to work this morning (because yes, I still have to have a full time job...) I noticed all the gorgeous leaves on people's lawns. I'm hoping everyone holds off raking for a while because there's something absolutely delightful about a red, yellow, and orange lawn.

Not much to report here today.

I'll be back later, but until then, have a fantastic Monday!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Cover is UP!!!


The cover to The Blackmailed Bride is up on Amazon.

And while I know I'm biased, I think it's lovely.

I've got to check on the legalities of posting it on here, but as soon as I get the okay, I'll put it up.

Until then, if you wish to see it, go here.

I hope everyone has a great Sunday!

When you just don't know

One of the things that drives me craziest about parenting is dealing with Brie not listening.

All this weekend, we've battled with telling her to do something and her (1) flat out ignoring us (2) saying okay and doing something else anyway or [and my personal favorite] (3) looking us square in the eye and saying "no."

Ah, the joys of a three-year-old.

I realized this weekend that when it comes to God trying to give me guidance, lately I've been acting like my bull-headed daughter.

He moves in me, leading me to do something, and I respond in a number of ways.

(1) I pretend like I didn't hear anything. This one's perfect for those situations where I don't feel like obeying, or if [in my nonexistent wisdom] I think I know how to do something better. And when God's not banging you upside the head with a flashing neon sign that tells you what He wants, it's easy to ignore it.

(2) God tells me to do something, and I have every intention of obeying. "Yes, Lord, Send me." Umm, but then I get distracted, or I get fearful that things aren't going to work out the way God promised, and while I had every intention of being a good daughter, I go off and do my own thing.

And finally,

(3) God lays something to do on my heart. But I immediately think it's a bad idea (yeah, because I know so much!) This one's rarer for me because I like to think I'm not blatantly defiant. But it did happen to me lately.

God clearly told me that He wanted me to stop working on the manuscript I was almost finished with. (The one people are waiting for. Really, really waiting for.) Instead, I was supposed to move on to a different book for a while.

I thought about it. And at first, I said No.

I'm under deadline, God. You don't understand there's no way I'll make it if I do this. So, nice idea, but I think I know what I'm doing here.


I forgot that God, who had been faithful to bring me this far on the journey, had worked miracles and wrought wonders to see me published so young and after such extraordinary circumstances when truthfully, I didn't deserve it! And now, I was presuming to tell Him what I wasn't going to do?

Needless to say, I realized what an idiot I was being (I'm seeing a theme here).

And I got to work. On the other book.

Where before, I was struggling to get anything done. I was only getting about 2,000 words a day done on the other book. By switching, it seems like my mind has been refreshed. And I've had some 9,000 words a day moments.

Interesting how obeying is better for me in the end.

Now, if only I can convince my daughter of that!

Hope everyone is doing well, and thanks for letting me share the little spiritual slapdown I got the other day!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Best quote I've read so far today...

"Of all the many cliches in reject-speak, the most maddening surely is this: “I didn’t fall in love.” Of course you didn’t fall in love. It’s a book...not a super-model!"
--Bill Morris

You can read his interesting article on the modern-state of the rejection letter here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sometimes you need to take a break...

And just spend time with your family.

Because I was feeling moderately better this evening, Daniel, Brie, and I went out so Brie could get some pumpkins.

She was VERY excited.

She was a pumpkin-picking maniac. Daniel and I had to keep a really close eye on her because she wanted to snatch up every single one she saw. And obviously, there were quite a lot.

Some were MUCH too big for her to pick up by herself. That, however, did not stop my determined daughter from trying.

She insisted on pulling the red wagon around by herself.

We all posed for pictures. (I won't put the one of all of us together, because Daniel doesn't like the face he's making...)

I'm home now, tired, and needing to get back to work. But I'm SO glad we went. As you can tell from the last picture, Brie was too...

Happy beginning of the weekend to you all!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's almost Halloween time!!!

Everyone already knows how much I love Fall. I noticed while looking out the window today that, because of the wind, there were leaves swirling everywhere. Beautiful yellow, red, orange leaves.

It was so lovely.

But it's also almost time for Halloween.

I enjoy Halloween because I adore dressing up my da
ughter and then stealing her candy ;o)

What is Brie going to be this year?

Why, her FAVORITE character of course. (And no, it's not a character from one of my books. Although, my little three year old in a Regency dress would be ADORABLE!)

Quote for the day

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Umm, I'm a technological idiot

My sister just called to ask me why she couldn't leave a comment on my blog.

I explained in great detail how to click on the "comment" link, type in the little box, and press "submit." (All of this was said without even the barest hint of snarkiness. Because I love my sister and would never act superior ;o)

So apparently, I never enabled comments for this blog.

I didn't even realize that was something I had to take the effort to actually do. I thought Blogger was supposed to handle stuff like that! (Now I'm trying to blame someone else for my stupidity).

Which I guess explains why there was almost so much silence...deafening, deafening silence. I can now console myself by believing that I would have had THOUSANDS of comments telling me how wonderful I am were it not for the technological glitch.


The problem has been resolved. Sorry for the hassle. But anyone looking to leave a comment probably can repeat the above steps and be successful now.

No promises though. Because apparently this kind of thing is tricky.

(For those who might have needed to comment on the giveaway because they had problems or questions, feel free to link up your comments or email me:

When you need a different perspective

I'm a very visual person. In order to really get a feel for where a story is going, I have to do the whole bubble graphs, story arcs, all that jazz. I have legal pads upon legal pads around the house where I've scribbled down notes, timelines, anything that will help me better understand where I want the novel to go.
Things have been CRAZY around here. While I don't wait to exclusively blog about my various and sundry complaints (and I apologize! I'll try to make all my posts from here on out sunshine and rainbows), I have to admit I've had a time of it. Had to push back a very important deadline. Have made four trips to the doctor in the last two and a half weeks for a sickness that won't go away. Have had to miss almost two full weeks of work now because of the crud. And perhaps worst of all, I've felt like I was banging my head against the wall every time I tried to work. Nothing was coming together. Nothing. I couldn't even put together a sentence that made sense. Suddenly my trump card (my delightful sense of humor) failed me. I couldn't write even a snicker-inducing scene, much less one that would actually make the reader laugh out loud. So today, I decided to do something different. Perhaps it was a burst of feverish delirium, or maybe, just maybe it was a little blessing from God, but I had a stroke of inspiration. A new perspective. A new, BIG perspective. Behold: (I'm really hoping this picture doesn't open up HUGE if it links up. I don't want everyone to witness my half-insensible scribblings ;o) Yes, that is the side of my refrigerator. Yes, that is also a sheet of butcher paper. And yes, I am incapable of cutting a straight line. For some reason, being able to plot on a large canvas has really helped me visualize better what I'm doing. And I actually think, despite everything seeming to work against me, that I might be able to get something done when it's time to get back to work. For now. Rest. Lots of fluids, cough drops, and rest. Hope everyone is doing well. Got any ideas on how to step back and take a different perspective on something? I'm always looking for new ideas.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Forgive any errors in this post. I'm typing it from my Blackberry because I'm too lazy to open up my laptop and go through all the trouble of signing on to the internet. Yep, I am just that lazy.

Tomorrow's my big deadline. BIG deadline (notice the artful way I illustrate the point by capitalizing the adjective. That kind of mastercraft will be what ultimately catapults me to the top...I'm sure of it.)

And...well...I'm not going to make it. Were I to stay up all night and write through until Fedex has their last drop off, I wouldn't make it. If God gave me a 72 hour day tomorrow, I still wouldn't get it done.

And obviously blogging is not helping my cause.

So what do you do when a big deadline blows up in your face? First, you write an overly melodramatic post about it. Then, you might weep a little. Afterwards (or even at the same time if you're really good at multitasking), you get to work.

Fortunately, this was more a self-imposed deadline. And legitimate things have happened to push me off schedule. So rather than bemoan the fact that I'm still working, I must still continue to work. I make adjustments and stop beating myself up for things out of my control and things I can't change now anyway.

Ah yes, the stress, losing hair, tension headaches, etc. This is indeed the glamorous (is it sad I sang the Fergie song in my head to spell that?) life I imagined I would lead as a writer.

But you know what?

I'm actually content and blessed--even with all of the above.

(Cue inspirational music).

I promise something more interesting later. Although, I'm obviously SUPER good with the follow-through.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I'm still alive

I think.
In the interest of being truthful, I have to admit things have been crazy, insanely hectic. Deadlines are fast approaching and instead of moving forward and getting closer to meeting those all-important dates, I feel like I'm slipping more and more behind.


So, I've had to cut myself off from everything. (Although we notice I snuck on here to update. That's my dedication...touching isn't it?)

Well, my biggest deadline is this Friday, so hopefully I'll be back on here after that.

And thanks to all who have entered the giveaway. Keep the entries coming!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Different day, same story

Hey all!

Thanks to everyone who has participated in the giveaway thus far. I'm getting really excited about this!

Fall is officially in the air. The ninety degree temps today notwithstanding, it's been rather crisp. There's a special feel in the air when fall comes. I can't describe it, but I think my fellow fall lovers know what I'm talking about. And I have it on good authority (probably because I've called about twenty times to check) that THE ultimate hallmark fall has arrived is on its way.

That's right...pumpkin muffins from Einstein's Bagels.

Other than my obsession with all things autumn, and ticking down the days until its arrival, it's been work as usual here. Pulling out my hair trying to plug in holes, stressing over my impending deadline, and wondering why God couldn't have called me to be an accountant instead (probably because I STINK at numbers...really, it's pathetic).

But truly, I love this job. And I thank God everyday He's given me the ability to do what I love.

That's all here. Hope everyone has a fantastic preifall weekend!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


My favorite period to write in (and the period of my first 2 books) is Regency England. And I'm fascinated by the culture, the clothes, the manners, well everything of the period. I also like to browse regency-esque things in my non-existent spare time =)

I stumbled across this today:

It's a former Regency-era residence that has been made into a . . . wait for it . . .

Best Western?!?

Nothing against that particular motel chain, but it seems an awfully sad conversion to me.


What happens after THE CALL?

When I was first starting out looking into the publishing industry, one of the things that I was most curious about was the process. If I ever received that fabled "call," I wanted to know what to expect, what was going to happen next.

I don't like surprises. (Ask my family. I routinely open Christmas gifts in October and use nefarious means to figure out what everyone else is getting me. I can't stand the unknown. And I like shoot me).

So I'm going to share all my experiences, the good, the bad, and the ugly so that other aspiring writers out there can have a little bit of insight for their own journeys. [Although I have to add that no one's experiences are the same. Publishing houses and their processes vary widely.]

So what happens after the call?

Later that afternoon, I called my editor back (if you'll recall, I could barely breathe much less hold a rational conversation at the time of the actual call). We discussed the terms of the purchase--how much the advance would be and the fact that I would receive half upon signing the contract and half once my requested edits were through.

A couple of hours later, I got an email outlining what changes my editor wanted to the manuscript. Earlier on the phone, she'd asked how long it would take me to complete. Wanting to be both easy to work with and impressive, I said I could have them done in a week. She laughed and said that wasn't necessary. Instead, she gave me a month (and considering the fact that I had over 5,000 words that needed to be cut from the manuscript, it was a good thing she didn't take me up on my idiotic offer).

So I got to work.

During this time, I also corresponded back and forth on what the final title was going to be. My editor and the senior editor from the line had come up with one and wanted me to suggest a few different ones. I did, but mine all stank. I'm not a title-person. So we went with the editors' suggestion.

I also had to do an Art Facts File. That was pretty fun. I surfed the internet, looking for pictures of good looking men to represent my hero, found a picture of a pretty girl to be the heroine, and "ooh"ed and "aww"ed over beautiful estates in England. I compiled all these pictures into a document and then made suggestions for "scenes" that could be depicted on the cover of the book. That, along with my author bio (to be used for purposes of drawing up the contract) had to be turned in fairly quickly. I think it took me 2 days.

Okay, I've bored everyone enough for one post. I'm hoping some find it interesting and helpful to their own lives.

I'll try to be funnier and generally much more entertaining in my next post.

Although, I can't make any promises.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Good Saturday morning to you all

Ahh, it looks like it's going to be my favorite kind of day: a bit breezy, overcast, and a SATURDAY!

Perfect writing weather.

Which is good for me, I suppose, as the first draft of the sequel to The Blackmailed Bride MUST be done by today. It has to be in New York by the end of this month, and I still have to edit and fix before it's ready.

I'm pretty excited to be done with this one because I've got another exciting project just waiting for me. More details on that to come.

For now, I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Friday, September 10, 2010

My Writing Journey: THE CALL

For those who are interested in what happens once you're contracted to publish a book, I'm going to do my best to compose a series of posts about my particular experiences.

And of course, the first, and most memorable, would be . . .


(The following is reposted from Just for this Season)

Every writer dreams about the moment they get the phone call offering to buy the manuscript. If you’re like me, (on days when I allowed myself to optimistically dream) I practiced what I would say when the moment came. How unflappable and cool I would be. I’d think about it to the point of polishing my acceptance speech, ready to dazzle the editor with my calm and lack of I-just-sold-my-first-book hysteria.

Which is exactly how it played out in real life.

With a few, minor exceptions.

I was at work. The phone rang. I recognized the area code as being the same as the publishing house’s. I calmly answered the phone. Accepted their offer. And resumed work without so much as one ruffled feather.

Right. The first part’s true, up to the point where I realized it was New York calling. Then, I immediately started crying. A lot. So much so that my coworker was looking at me like I’d just gotten word my dog had died.

I managed to garble through my tears that I thought (
didn’t know for sure, because I still hadn’t answered the phone) my editor was calling. I then explained that editors rarely call unless they are offering to buy. I’m not entirely sure, but I think she might have started crying then too.

At some point, I started thinking I was hyperventilating. My work buddy was trying to get me to answer the phone, but I was too busy making “I can’t breathe” motions.

I finally caught my breath.

The editor had left a message.

Editor on my voicemail: “Hey Mandy, this is
xxxxx at Steeple Hill, just wanted to call and tell you I have some good news. Call me back.”

I hung up. And cried some more.

At this point, I’d managed to draw quite a bit of attention, and my coworkers started coming up to make sure I
wasn’t having some kind of psychotic episode (although why they’d imagine that of me, I’m not sure). Once they realized what was going on, everyone yelled at me to call her back. My boss ran to the bathroom and then shoved a bunch of tissues at me so I could “dry up and call!”

I did. And I had several witnesses who had front row seats to how incredibly dumb I can be on the phone. And I do mean incredibly dumb. I basically had to tell the editor I was freaking out too badly to have a coherent conversation with her. To my editor’s credit, this request
didn’t seem to surprise her. She was very gracious and understanding. Or perhaps she could already tell from our previous correspondence that I’m—at times—an idiot.

Afterwards, I was so excited, flustered, in shock, etc., I had to leave for the day.

So, it’s safe to say, nothing I’d planned for “the call,” went the way I’d rehearsed. The moment that defined my writing career (because I’m fairly sure nothing will ever be as exciting as that first call) is encapsulated by tears, laughing, and near hyperventilation . . . all common signs of a nervous breakdown.

But that’s okay. I don’t want my journey to be ordinary, or even calm and collected. I want it to be interesting, inspiring, and uplifting. And maybe just a little tear-jerking.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Welcome back...your dreams were your ticket out

Okay, let's try this again, shall we?

From now on, I'm going to make an effort to post regularly. Really I will. Or at least I'll mean to, have super-sincere intentions to do so, and then will never follow through.

It's kind of a toss-up.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have a post up about where in the process everything is. For the few of you who read this and actually care about that kind of thing (not the people I've begged and pleaded with to hit the "follow" button =).

Until then, expect randomness. Because anyone who knows me knows that's what I'm best at.


Friday, June 25, 2010

I'm officially the worst blogger in history . . .

Yes, I admit it.

So, it's been November since my last post. Some crazy things have happened since then.

1) I signed my first book contract with Steeple Hill. My historical Christian romance will be hitting the shelves next year!!! Squee!

2) I finished the rough draft of the sequel a week or so ago.

3) My friend Cheryl and I have begun a new women's ministry site at: Just for this Season

4) God opened more doors than I seem to be able to walk through at one time. I'm working on a series for another publisher right now as well.

There will be more updates to come. Just wanted to bring the blog up to speed.