Thursday, June 16, 2016

Anti-Social Media

You haven't seen me online. I deleted both my personal and author Facebook accounts. I rarely step into the Twitter zone. I definitely don't miss social media and all of its ranting, complaining, and bullying.

What made me shirk from social media? I got burned out by everyone's opinions about who would be the best candidate for President of the United States. One day, I just couldn't stand it anymore.

Yes, I know, everyone is entitled to their opinions. That's why we live in the United States, and not in some communist-ruled country. Right? What I don't like is the backlash I see if someone happens to disagree with their opinions. Whatever. That's as far as I'm going with this. Today is my birthday. I don't care.

I've been very busy. The last time I was on my blog was right before I attended The Work Conference in March. I had all intentions of doing a post about the awesome time I had. I may still do that.

I also took a trip to Key West in April. It was another check mark on my bucket list. Key West is very cool. I'll share that trip soon.

In May, we enrolled our business in a Management Restructuring Program. It's a whole lot of work, but we're hoping it'll make our business more productive and more profitable. More profit means more money for pens, notebooks, pencils, and crayons. Hopefully, I'll have more time to WRITE. We'll see...

In any case, I just wanted to check in with everyone and let you all know I haven't died and haven't been incarcerated for my snarkiness. That's because I stay off social media.

What's new with you?

Friday, February 26, 2016

When You Can't See The Trees for The Forest

I've been working on The Clover Key forever. At least, it feels like forever. Yeah, maybe it is forever.

I began writing TCK back in 2008. Can you imagine working on a novel for that long? I lived with those characters for eight years. Eight years! Fleshing out their emotions and actions, pulling the story out of them. At one point, I even started to hate them.

I lost count on how many rewrites this novel went through. When I thought it was ready, I sent it out to beta readers and then took their thoughts into consideration. And then rewrote it again. I also lost count on how many rounds of agent queries it went through. I never received any requests. None of the agents gave me feedback. The only thing I could think was that the novel was horrible.

And so, I shelved it. I figured TCK was going to be one of those first novels that never get published, and I started to believe that maybe it shouldn't be published.

But then last year, I opened that file again. I read through the manuscript and found I just couldn't give up on it. Not yet. I did another read through, tweaked it a little more, and began the query process all over again.

This time, I got feedback from agents. They liked the story, but couldn't get excited about it. So, I stopped querying and decided to bite the bullet and hire an editor.

What better editor than Kelly Hashway? Not only is she a fellow graduate of ICL, but she also has several published YA and NA books, AND she's my daughter's former Middle School English teacher. Small world, huh? Buy her books. She's an awesome writer.

In two weeks, she returned my manuscript with valuable input. I'd been doing stupid things that I KNEW I shouldn't have done. So many of her suggestions were obvious, but I never caught them. Why?

I was so involved in the story, but I couldn't see the WORDS. I couldn't see the individual sentences. I couldn't see the problems.

Now, my eyes can SEE the problems. Kelly was nice enough to point them out (in bright red print.)

I'm excited to get back to work on this novel. Will it ever get published? Maybe. Maybe not. But I won't rest until I know that I've done all I can.

Thanks, Kelly!


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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Save Valentine's Day with Good Grammar

eHarmony, Inc. was founded in 2000 and is a pioneer in using relationship science to match singles seeking long-term relationships. Its service presents users with compatible matches based on key dimensions of personality that are scientifically proven to predict highly successful long-term relationships.

Grammarly reviewed 10,000 eHarmony male/female matches generated by eHarmony’s matching algorithm. Fifty percent of the matches advanced to two-way communication while the other 50 percent failed to advance. Each male and female in a match wrote long-form answers to questions on their dating profile. 

These writing samples were analyzed by Grammarly’s automated proofreader for accuracy in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Valentine's Day Grammar 2016 Infographic


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Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Work Conference Update and The Power of Positive Thinking

So, do you remember that boutique conference I talked about a little while ago? If not, here's the post:

Spreading The News--The Work Conference

Well, guess what? I'VE BEEN INVITED TO ATTEND!! (Sorry about the Caps Lock and the exclamation points, but yeah, that's how excited I am.) 

I guess this is an example of manifesting your desires through positive thinking. 

Yes, the tuition is a little steep. Yes, I'll need a hotel room in NYC. BUT just think of the possibilities! I get one-on-one time with TWO, count 'em, TWO agents of my choice, along with workshops, panels, and socializing with other authors, agents, and editors. Woohoo! I'm excited and terrified at the same time.

Needless to say, Hubby knows just how much attending this conference means to me, so after congratulating me on the acceptance, drying my tears of joy, calming my fears, drying my tears of panic, and squashing some of my self-doubt, (yes, I went through a whole range of emotions) he offered to help with the expenses. He's a good man. I told you things would work out, didn't I?

So, I've been busy utilizing the recommendations that came along with the acceptance, and changing my query and the first twenty pages. I came down to the wire but finally sent in my deposit for the conference, booked my hotel room, and am almost finished polishing the pages I will send to my chosen one-on-one agents. 

It's a bit nerve-wracking. I want to get the most out of those sessions, so I want to make sure my writing is awesome enough to grab their attention. I also don't want to embarrass myself. 

But I will say that this acceptance has breathed new life into my manuscript and my motivation. I find myself staying up late, tossing and turning in bed, and staring into space at work while I sort out new scenes and fix broken plots. I haven't been in that 'writing zone' for a long time, and I've missed being there.

Did I mention how excited I am? Squee! 

The Work Conference is doing something totally cool that I wanted to share with you--they are offering a Cyber Ticket.  Here's the info:

The Work Conference: Private Event BroadcastTickets: $125.00
Though extremely limited attendance has already reached capacity, we’re excited to introduce our fully moderated, interactive, live stream of selected panels during the weekend. Tune in Saturday, March 19th for three panel-led discussions on craft and the publishing industry, then join us Sunday morning for a 2.5-hour query letter Master Class. Cyber-ticket holders will have the opportunity to ask questions and interact (via moderator!) with our panelists, all of whom are industry-leading agents and editors.
Included panels: SATURDAY // The Publishing Process (9-10am EST), First Impressions (11:30-12:30pm), and Plot vs. Premise (2-3pm). SUNDAY // Query Letter Master Class with Carrie Howland and Becca Heyman (9-11:30 am).This is a LIVE STREAM event. Ticketholders will receive a link to a private broadcast. Access to the link, the host site, chat features and streaming content is at each ticketholder’s discretion. Please direct all questions to or @TheWorkConf on Twitter.

Now, you can attend the same panels from the comfort of your own home.

Of course, I'll share my experience when I get back, complete with photos and interesting bits, but I wanted to share this opportunity with you.

I also wanted to thank all of you who wished me luck and cheered me on. Special thanks goes to Courtney Rene for helping me polish my query and manuscript pages and most importantly, for boosting my confidence. It worked!


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Monday, January 11, 2016

New Year, New Goals, New Post

Another new year is upon us. I, like most people, look at January as a time to make a fresh start, but I don't make resolutions anymore.
This year, I'm making goals for myself. I recently read a blog post by Nina Amir, where she talks about SMART goals and how to ensure your success. You can read the article here.


I've already got a few irons in the fire that will help me toward a more productive 2016.

-I've temporarily stopped querying agents and hired an editor to help me make THE CLOVER KEY a better manuscript.
-I'm setting up a blog calendar for this blog, and I'm in the process of starting a blog for our automotive business.
-The chosen attendees for The Work Conference will be notified on January 15th. I'm nervous and excited for the results, but in the meantime, I'll be working on the second draft of my second novel.
-I know I have to lose weight, get organized, etc, etc, but I'm also working on making time for fun with family and friends.

Baby steps, small attainable goals, and a strong desire to make 2016 productive, happy, and less stressful should help me succeed.

What about you? Do you set goals or make resolutions?


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Monday, January 4, 2016

Christmas Loot and The Perks of Being a Good Girl.

Well, Christmas is over and another year is upon us. I was very lucky this year--I must have been a good girl!

I received a couple of gift certificates for my favorite places, a pair of super warm and soft mittens, cozy socks, candy, a fairy in a teacup, a plug-in thermos for my life-blood  coffee, several warm blankies, and a remote car starter.

BUT, here is the best of the best:

My dear Best Writing Friend Forever, Courtney, sent me this:

Her name is Keira, and she's a nutcracker! She's also my new muse. (See the little clover???)

She has the place of honor on my mini shelf, next to my computer. She's there to crack the whip when she's not cracking nuts.

I got more Crayola stash. Shhh. It's okay. There's always room for more.

And some awesome new coloring books!

The Skating Coloring Book is SIGNED by Tai Babilonia!! We definitely won't be coloring in that one!

They're a perfect addition to my coloring book stash. Don't judge--I've been reading that coloring books for adults are very relaxing, but I already knew that.

Look what I bought for myself! Courtney Rene's new book and another by Rebecca Besser with Courtney as a guest author! I had Courtney sign them, but I'll have to get Rebecca's signature also. I do love my books signed.

I also splurged on a Kickstarter project and got myself a SIGNED Twig the Fairy Calendar. 

All in all this Christmas was amazingly stress-free and full of fun gifts. 

How was your Christmas? What was your favorite gift?


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Monday, December 14, 2015

So This is Christmas...

This week is crunch time. I'll be cooking, baking, shopping, wrapping, decorating, and questioning why I always wait until the last minute. I vowed that through it all I'm going to try my hardest to remember that this is the most wonderful time of the year.

My tree is decorated, but the rest of my home's interior is a little less than merry. I did make sure to put out my new nutcrackers.

Aren't they adorable?

I'm still not done baking, but by the time the week is over, we'll be hip-deep in cookies. I wouldn't want to deprive my technicians and my husband of their cookie intake. Unfortunately, I can't keep my grubby little fingers from dipping into the chocolatey, nutty, sugary, nuggets of sin, but that's a problem to deal with later on.

This year, I'm taking everything in stride. Whatever gets done, gets done, and whatever doesn't get done, doesn't need to get done. 

It's been 12 months  since Mom's health scares began. Last year at this time she was in an induced coma and when we weren't working or sleeping, we spent all our time at the hospital. I didn't do gifts or decorate--heck I didn't do Christmas. 

This isn't my favorite holiday. I'm more of a stuff-my-face-with-candy-and-cackle-like-the-witch-I-am kind of girl. I'm usually cranky and stressed out, but this year is different This year Mom is home and doing well, my oldest grandson still believes in the magic of Santa and my youngest grandson is old enough to appreciate the wonders of the season. Everyone is healthy and happy. What more could I ask for?

All is calm, all is bright, and even though we're having a freak warm spell in New Jersey, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!