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So, about a year ago, I wrote this book called Witness Protection. It’s a YA novel:

Gabriella Smith is in witness protection, only no one has ever bothered to tell her. Her mother was taken by a serial killer when Gabriella was only six. She saw it, and she suppressed it. A dozen years later, Gabby is attending her senior year at an all girl school, and she’s starting to notice that things aren’t what they seem. When she discovers that her handsome young professor is actually a US Marshal, it is only a matter of time before Gabby finds that he is there for her, and so is the killer. Now, Gabriella is struggling to remember something that can help them catch the killer, not fall in love with her Marshal, and repair a long damaged relationship with her father. Meanwhile the killer is getting closer and closer to reuniting Gabby with her mother.

(Yes. I stink at queries. This is my lame pitch. It needs work. Trust me. I know).

The novel was written with the Christian audience in mind and I love it. Around Christmas, I found a Christian agent who was interested enough to request the first three chapters. In June, I had filed the manuscript away and gone on to write another – non Christian novel. Meanwhile, the agent emailed and asked to see the full manuscript on Witness Protection. So, I went into full on panic mode and then hit send.

It has been two months since I sent it and the word is back. They liked it – but (yep, a but is very good in this business. at the very least it is feedback not a form rejection). There are some issues as it stands. To market it to Christian publishing houses, I need to get some things cleaned up. There are changes to be made and questions to be answered. I have a challenge.

Guess what? This is a LOT of work. This is more than just editing. This is an extreme-make-over Julie-edition. BUT, here’s the thing… Agents are good. I am reading through now with the changes, and I am saying, “Wow. She was right on the money.” The whole thing has opened up and evolved and really become something I’m proud of. I’m 178 pages in to the revisions, and I have another 100 to go, but I am hopeful and excited and really resting in the hope that God has given me a gift and a desire to write. He will do the rest.

1 Corinthians 10:31 Hey, that’s all I’m saying.

I’ll keep you posted, and hopefully get this back to the agent this week. I plan for it to knock her socks off.

We shall see.

Writer Wednesday Welcomes Author Mimi Barbour!

Mimi Barbour

Please welcome my fabulous guest, wonderful writer, and lovely friend, Mimi Barbour. Mimi is yet another amazing woman whom I met on Twitter. I’m telling you, if I have said it once, I have said it a hundred times. Get on Twitter, people. Other writers are out there. They are funny and friendly and a great source of encouragement and wisdom. Get. On. Twitter.

Mimi is a romance writer. She has a flair for making you believe in love, real love, curl your toes love.  Her story is a great one, and I am so thankful that she agreed to share it here with me. Now, let’s get started.

Who is Mimi? Let me tell you ;)

Mimi Barbour lives on the beautiful west coast on Vancouver Island and writes her paranormal romances with tongue in cheek and a mad glint in her eye. Asked why she prefers paranormal, she answers – chuckling.

“Because it’s fun! Imagination can be a lot more interesting than what happens in real life, to so-called normal people. I love my characters, and my goal is to make the readers love them also. To care about what happens to them while the story unfolds. If I can steal my booklover’s attention away from their every-day grind, absorb them into a fantasy love story, and make them care about the ending, then I’ve done my job.”

Now, a warm Wednesday welcome!!! *Clapping* *Hooting*

Mimi, Thank you for agreeing to be here today. I’m a new blogger and writer and I just love that authors are willing to take their time to tell me how they did the unthinkable…got their book onto shelves. It can seem like the loftiest goal some days, but you did it. See me waving my pom-poms. I love to hear success stories like yours. But, I will let you tell it!

Thank you for you kind and generous invite to join you and your followers today. I love visiting with readers and sharing my story.

Anytime Mimi! Mi Website is Su Website. (That’s my Spanish – never had one lesson).

One thing that impressed me was that you were a full-grown woman when you decided to write for publication. So many authors say that they knew from grade school what they wanted to do. What did you want to do as a child?

Okay, full-grown might not be quite the adjective I’d use about myself, since every year I seem to keep growing a little more…sigh!

As a child, I wanted to be everything from a nurse to a teacher and from a rock singer to a jazz dancer. But I must admit my favorite class in school had been literature. I loved writing long, and no doubt boring stories about what I did on my summer vacation. I guess when I was in my forties and even my fifties I knew I needed something else in my life. I’d lived seven years in Chile and two in Africa as an expat wife who couldn’t work, and who spent all her time schmoozing with the other wives and wasting days with so-called fun stuff. I realized I didn’t want to squander one more precious moment of my life feeling so frivolous. I wanted to be involved somehow, and even more important, use the brains that the good Lord gave me.  So, I took a few courses on writing for children, and in those days found it to be a very difficult market to break into. It seemed to make sense to me then to switch and try writing what I loved to read most – romance stories. You know, since then, I’ve never experienced that particular empty feeling again.

Excellent! Then, after four years of studying to write children’s books, you found your voice in romance. Tell me more about that leap LOL!

Well actually, leap might be a bit strong; it would have been more like a stumble based on a whim using my rather nutty brand of common sense. Go figure anyone could be so green? But in my mind, it all made perfect sense. Since I loved to read romance stories, and I figured I’d read thousands of them, then geez, shouldn’t I be able to write the silly things? Right?  Wrong!

Go ahead and ask me how many workshops I’ve taken since that day? Or how many critiques I’ve whined and snivelled over? Rejections  – bah! They hardly bother me at a-a-all. (Sniff!)

My first manuscript, my favourite to write, and the only one I ever printed out in hardcopy, now lies collecting cobwebs in the darkest recesses of my cupboard. That story flowed. Every word that poured from my pudgy little fingers, I believed to be the best ever written. Those were wonderful days where I was blinded by faith and full of the positive energy of naivety. But I did gain one big plus over that time. I found my niche. I loved my characters and it made me happy to bring them to life and give them a story. Unfortunately, unless I was willing to rewrite the work, it’ll probably never see print, but like most authors out there today, whose first work is unpublish-able, it turned out to be my learning book.

My favorite story from any published author has to be yours.  Tell us, how did you come to publish your first story; She’s Me, with Wild Rose Press?

Well, about this time it had begun to dawn on me that writing was darn, freakin hard work. And unless a person was willing to put in the time and make a huge effort, no one had any chance of success.  Now, a friend told me about a contest advertised by a new e-publisher called The Wild Rose Press. Still under the rosy glow of – I can do anything I put my mind to– I decided to write an entry. There were guidelines. Ones that were to be followed. Uh-huh! Except that I decided my version worked better, and so I blithely went along writing my entry exactly the way I wanted and sent it out. Still can’t believe that I got away with it. They wrote and told me that She’s Me couldn’t stay in the contest because I hadn’t followed the rules, but, with a few revisions, they wanted to publish it as a stand-alone story. Needless to say, the walls rang with some pretty empathic exclamations!!

I also want to hear about the Vicarage Bench series, and especially about the fourth book in that series, Together Again, (which I cannot wait to read).

She’s Me became the first of three novellas written for The Wild Rose Press. I loved writing these paranormal, spirit traveling stories so much that I wrote two more shorts – He’s Her and We’re One. Wild Rose decided to publish them together in an anthology, and they called it The Vicarage Bench Series.

In all the stories, one spirit magically invades another’s body. What might be different about my plots is that these people don’t take over someone else or have their own bodies moving through time. Instead, they’re forced to co-exist within another person who has no choice in having these so-called tenants occupying their inner space. This scenario gives me all kinds of struggles and conflicts that need to be dealt with. Because of the kind of person I am, I’ve chosen my characters to be humorous, and I hope at times, laugh-out-loud funny. While keeping the stories heart-warming, I do try to give the reader an experience that takes them from giggles to tears to impassioned sighs.

Together Again is the fourth in the series and will be released sometime this spring. Because I wrote a full-length novel this time, I have to admit it was by far the hardest to finish and to get accepted. Wild Rose has tightened their expectations a whole lot, and because they are one of the best e-publishers out there, it’s not as easy to get a contract as it might have been in the past. In one way, it makes me happy to know that my writing is strong enough to get accepted under their new stringent policy, and it also makes me glad to be associated with a publisher who is growing along with their market. They treat us authors kindly and are wonderful to work with.

I’ve added the back-page blurb here for those who love time-travel and want to keep an eye out for when the book is released. (I’m anxiously awaiting the date!)

Traveling forward in time, Dani Howard’s spirit becomes magically united with that of reporter Troy Brennan. He’s everything a girl could want in a man, and she falls deeply in love. Though she must return to her own pregnant body and her own time, she gains his promise to come to her birthday party in seven days so they can meet as separate entities. Only too late does she realize that she should have told him about the number of years those days would equal for her.

Sounds incredible! That’s the kind of blurb I want to be able to write! *Jealous*

I hear that you have a workshop in your future. How exciting! Where can we find you?

I’m a member of the Vancouver Island Chapter of RWA so you can always find me at those meetings held in either Victoria or Nanaimo for anyone who lives close by, or if someone just wants a trip to somewhere really pretty. I’ve also decided this year to go to The Emerald City Convention in Seattle from Oct 1- 3. I’ve been told that it’s the next best after RWA Nationals. Since it’s my first year, I can’t say, but I am excited at the prospect of meeting lots of fellow writers and hopefully some readers also.

Do you have any superb advice, words of wisdom, or random thoughts that you’d like to impart on all of your fellow women writers, ladies in waiting (to get published) I like to call us.

Humm! Words of advice? If you’ve been in the game for any length of time, you’ve heard all the advice out there. Write every day. Take workshops. Learn your craft. ETC, etc. Blabbity-blah. To me if you’re not happy doing this work, if you can’t wait to get back to it when you get interrupted, and if you’re not challenged to get better and write more, more more, then maybe it’s not for you.  If you are, then trust me. One day you will have a book with your name on the cover. It’s the greatest feeling in the world!

Thanks again for taking time out to stop and chat. I’ve enjoyed it very much and I know that everyone else stopping here today will as well.

Julie, thank you so much for inviting me. If anyone would like to receive my newsletter written only when I actually have news to share, and with the possibility of winning a free copy of the latest book, please visit my website for details. There’s a contact e-mail address there also for those who want to write me personally with questions or comments. I’m always happy to receive mail.

Hugs Mimi

You can read more about Mimi and even enjoy a free download of her short story, Run for Joy, at her website: Mimi Barbour.

Mimi will be checking in all day if you have any questions of comments, please leave them. We love hearing from you! Just ask, we’re all ears ;)

Win a Free Edit From CA Marshall!!

Have you met Cassandra A. Marshall? If you have, then you’re obviously jumping around a little right now. If not, let me tell you, you need to. She is brimming to her tippy-top with writer luv.  Here’s why:

C.A Marshall (that’s Cassandra) is a freelance editor, a YA writer, a literary agent intern, a tea drinker and seriously addicted to her dog. These are her words. They are perfect. You can read more about her on her blog: CA MArshall Freelance Editor. (Once again, I can thank Twitter for this fabulous find).

So, here is what’s got me all wound up this time…(What? I’m exuberant, OK? People like that. – Some people totally do. Shutup. God made me this way). *Focusing* CA Marshall is now offering a free edit of your manuscript up to 100K words, if you win her contest. This is not a joke. Take time to let that sink in. An editor and agent intern is offering to peruse your masterpiece – for free.Yessah.

OK, get some coffee. Breathe slowly. You can come back when you’re ready.

Alright. There you are! Excellent! So, now, to enter her contest, you just follow her, friend her, stalk her like only an aspiring writer can. It’s your time to shine LOL! Pop over to her blog and sign up. Then find her on Twitter and follow @CA_Marshall.

Whoohoo! *Wiping brow* *Sighs of contentment* Seems I am becoming a blog for blog contests. I am finding them everywhere this week!  I hope you will enter my book giveaway while you’re here. Leave a comment, or just follow Musings. I also hope to keep finding these gems and sharing with my fellow writers! YOU! And wait! There’s more! I also hope to get CA Marshall over here for a guest spot or interview very very soon! I’ll keep you posted!

Good Luck! Get moving!

And the Winner is…

Charissa Weaks! Congratulations Charissa!

The Winner Is…

Way back on August 26th, I made a post letting everyone know that I had some new prize booty. I picked up two killer books on writing from Donald Maass, and I’m giving them away! The first book, Writing the Breakout Novel, was up for grabs until midnight last night. Today, it has a new owner and her name is Charissa Weaks.

Charissa is a fellow-fabulous-female-writer and friend of mine. She blogs at Charissa Weaks, she tweets @charissaweaks, she’s a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer and a friend. Now, she is also a weekly winner at Musings!

Charissa’s name was chosen at random from my Google Friends and Networked blogs –> over at the right bar.

If you would like to be entered into next week’s drawing, just click and friend or follow me or my blog. That’s it, then you are entered. Do both and you’re entered twice! You may also choose to friend me on Facebook. I’m excited to be building my list and establishing this blog (my very first one ever btw). SO, friend me and you’re in!

Next week’s prize? The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose & Techniques to make your Novel Great by Donald Maass.

Tell your friends! Follow me! Visit me some more and stop over and check out Charissa’s site!

Good Luck!

Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?

Are You a Plotter or a Pantser?

If you’ve been part of the writing culture long, you’ve probably heard these terms. Plotter and Pantser are categories used to describe a writers approach to their craft. Plotters plot. Pantsers fly by the seat of theirs.

Plotters are methodical and intensely bent on the layout of their story. Some plotters have told me that they will not begin a story unless they already know how it ends. These writers get a solid concept in mind and begin to lay it out. They chose the characters who will tell their story, both main and minor. They round and develop them until they can tell you every character’s favorite color, meal and song.  It’s a long and involved process to be a plotter.

Next, plotters begin to wind the characters into their story. Outlining begins. A rough schedule of events will become a tentative table of contents with chapter summaries, and subplots. Emotional arcs, story arcs and pacing are all etched in stone before the opening line is ever crafted.

The result is a stunning work of highly detailed art. The story is well planned, the plot is well developed, and the characters are well behaved. It is one very popular way to create a manuscript.

There are also a whole lot of pantsers out there. Pantsers are the wide-eyed, discipline deficient, idea attackers. A pantser will often write chapter after chapter, in a complete frenzy, having no idea where the story is headed. Once an intriguing idea flits into a pantsers stream of consciousness, they will begin to scribble it onto anything, sales receipts, napkins, arms, doesn’t matter. Pantsers do not plan. They allow the characters to evolve and reveal themselves. The plot unfolds to the pantser as they tell the story. The ending is a surprise. This is another fully effective way to tell your story.

I am a pantser. I have been known to write 85,000 words based upon a 750 word maximum contest entry. My last novel came after a funny thought hit me in the shower. For this reason, I normally have several manuscripts going at once, and I tend to the one whose characters pester me the loudest, and yes, I do hear voices. To me they are practically tangible beings. I love them all, even those I just love to hate. My characters are wild and unruly, somewhat unpredictable, but always interesting. You see plotting, to me, would steal the fun. My writing process feels like reading a fabulous book, and I don’t want to put it down. I fall asleep and I wake up thinking about it, while coffee and adrenaline carry me through to the end, and then the editing begins.  Editing is a lot less fun, but the ride is well worth the work. Meanwhile,  I have to tell new ideas to wait their turn, and I pass on contests and online article submission more than I want to, but even an over-caffeinated, under-disciplined panster needs a little limitation.

Now that I’ve confessed my maniacal approach to the craft, I have to wonder…  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

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