Saturday, January 17, 2015

From a broken heart to... a BROKEN HEART and a giveaway

Do you remember when Angela Ackerman asked us to help her friend Martha Ramirez? She was going to have heart surgery for a birth defect. Angela asked us to send her cards or heart things, or just send her some words from your heart.

Because Angela is such an amazing caring woman, a large number of us responded to her request.

After Martha recovered from her surgery, she reached out to me (maybe more than just me) and we became friends.

I had the privilege of helping her working on her book, BROKEN HEART this past year. I think it is a wonderful book, for if you have a sibling or even a cousin in the hospital for any disease or illness. It has coloring pages at the end of the book, lots of links for information about heart diseases and disorders. It even has a spot for the child to write or draw about his or her special memories.

I'd love to see this book in pediatric and cardiologist waiting rooms. Such a helpful book.

I'm going to give away a copy of BROKEN HEART on January 29th. (PS: I'm in the acknowledgements! If you are looking for a freelance editor my site is:

Did you join in in Hearts for Martha? Did you connect with her afterwards? I feel so blessed to have her as a heart. Though she had a broken heart, she has a very tender caring, now fixed, heart.

If you would like to win a copy of BROKEN HEART please join my blog and please tell me of a time you had a broken heart...

If you don't win a copy and would still like one you can go here to purchase a copy.

Happy 2015! I hope all your dreams come true!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

And The Manuscript Maven Winners Are...

The winners of my editorial services are entry number 32 Romelle Broas , 25Deirdre Englehart , and 9 Debra Daugherty. Congratulations! I can't wait to see what you send me!

Each winner can chose either a free picture book critique and line edit, a chapter one of a novel critique and line edit, or a query critique and line edit.

Please email me your choice of prizes in an attachment using word.

If you didn't win my services, but are interested in working with me, I will line edit first seven pages of a novel for free. This gives us both the opportunity to decide if I'm the right person to work with you on a particular novel. Please check out my website The Manuscript Maven or my Facebook Page for more information about my services.

Thanks for all the support you guys are giving me. My love for editing and coaching is genuine and it is a pleasure to be a part of any writer's journey.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ta Da! Plus Three Critique Prizes!

 I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm trying to look a little more businesslike.  There's a reason for that...

If you'll recall, I spent a lot of time this year critiquing/editing/and coaching writers. I seriously considered working for a literary agency, but one of the things I learned is that literary agents never have an ending point. Yes, when they sell a book and it gets through the publishing stage they only have to worry about marketing that book, right? Well, not exactly. They do an amazing amount of work.

Here are just a few of the things I observed:

  • Reading submissions (invited submissions and slush)
  • Evaluating submissions
  • Connecting with writers
  • Recruiting submissions via social media
  • Critiquing
  • Editing
  • Coaching authors on social media, marketing, book tours
  • Networking with other agents
  • Networking with editors
  • Trying to find the right editors for the right manuscripts
  • Negotiating contracts
  • Marketing books and authors
  • Speaking at Conferences
  • Marketing themselves
  • Keeping current with the market 
  • Advising and communicating with current authors
I'm sure there are lots of other things that I wasn't privy to. It was an overwhelming amount of work. So, if you have an agent be grateful for all of their hard work and if you are looking for an agent, be patient and understand the amount of work they are doing. It is NOT a 9-5 job!

I did gain some perspective, along with a lot of new writing friends. I LOVE LOVE LOVE editing and critiquing. It's a great feeling to help someone move their manuscript forward or to help them write a query that catches someone's attention. I love having a beginning and ending point with each project I undertake. Not that I don't continue thinking about people's manuscripts. I don't know how many times I've sent someone an email starting with: I was just thinking about your manuscript....

This experience led me to where I am today. I'm launching my own website offering my services for manuscript critiques, line edits, query critiques, and general coaching. I hope you will pop over and check out The Manuscript Maven. If you have any feedback or suggestions to improve my site, please leave them in the comments.

To celebrate, I'm offering one free picture book critique or line edits and critique for one chapter of your novel or one query critique. The winners will be picked by on December 19th. Please leave what genres you write in the comments.

Thanks for stopping in and I hope you are having a lovely Fall!

(If you are inclined, I'd appreciate it if you would share my good news...)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Where's Lenny Lee Birthday Bash!

 Guess who is turning 15 today? Can you believe it? It's hard to believe we've been here with Lenny since March of 2010. If you want to check out his first ever blog post you can go here!  I met Lenny in May when I was very sad. My beautiful cat Stripes passed away. I stayed in bed for almost two weeks, just looking for moral support in blogland.  I found some at Brian's Home and that's where I met Lenny. He was such an amazing support to me in a hard time. Our friendship grew and now he is one of my most trusted critique partners and friends. My silver lining to Stripes passing away was finding Lenny.

I talk to Lenny about once a month. Did you know he's gotten taller? And his voice has even changed? His writing style remains the same, but the quality of his posts are better. But I've noticed something, he's kind of been missing from blogland and I don't know about you, but I miss his words of wisdom and his sunshine in people's comments.

Several people have said the same thing, "Where's Lenny Lee?" So I invited them to help me celebrate Lenny's birthday and to let him know how much we miss him in blogland. I know school is harder and some days are worse than others for you, Lenny, but I think if you would spend a little time back on line with your friends you might feeling better. Plus, you would make us all feel better because you seem to say the exact right thing at the exact right time to so many of us.

We love you Lenny and we miss seeing your smiling face in blogland. So maybe, for your fifteenth birthday, you could give us a gift and come back to see us. WE MISS YOU!

Love and hugs from blom

Here are a few blog friends that are missing you and would like you to visit their blogs so they can tell you how special you are to them and so they can wish you a Happy Birthday.

Robyn Campbell
SA Larsen
Shannon Odonnell
Dianne Salerni
Susanne Drazic
Martha Ramirez
Kelly Polark
Sherrie Petersen
Melissa Sarno
Jemi Fraser
Lydia Kang
Jessica Bell
Candace Ganger
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Joanne Fritz
Brian Frum
Jenny Matlcok
Natalie Arguirre
Laura Diamond
Connie Arnold
Lola Sharp
Janet Johnson
Len Lambert
Leigh Moore
Sally Odgers
Matt Rush

Happy Birthday to my dear Blon! (PS: red is a birthday hint)

Matt r

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

When To Hire An Editor or When To Throw In The Towel

When To Hire An Editor or When To Throw In The Towel

  • You've written a complete first draft.
  • You've checked for plot holes, grammar, spelling and usage errors.
  • You've double checked all your seeds of truth in your manuscript.
  • You've traded manuscripts with your critique partners.
  • You've revised based on each critique partners suggestions.
  • You've read your manuscript out loud from beginning to end and made more revisions.
  • You've entered contests, gone to conferences, and gotten feedback.
  • You've revised some more.
  • You queried and got form letter rejections.
  • You revised again and are quite sick of your manuscript and want to throw it away...

But throwing your baby away isn't an option. You've invested so much time and energy into it. So what's the next step?

Ask yourself, is this manuscript worth investing in? Do you have the funds to invest in it?  If the answer is yes, you should start thinking about hiring an editor. If the answer is no, it's time to put this manuscript away and start on something new.

Then you have to ask yourself how much do you have to invest in your manuscript?  The amount you pay will  depend on your budget and the editor's skill set, experience and name. You can spend a lot or a little. Ask around before you choose an editor. There are lots of options: literary agent interns, published writers (published in magazine), retired editors, people who just love the editing process, published authors, and other writers. Find out who they've edited for and if they were helpful. Did they move the manuscript forward to publication or positive feedback from agents or publishing houses?

Before you commit to paying an editor, ask yourself if you're willing to take advice on your manuscript? If you aren't willing to make changes or listen to advice, you shouldn't spend the money. If you have an open mind and are willing to listen to suggestions, you believe in your story so much that you have a burning need to published it, and you have some money saved to pay an editor then it's time to start looking around for an editor.

Have you hired an editor? How helpful was it?

***permission to be printed in the ISWG Anthology

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner! (Snatched in Gullybrook by Kim Van Sickler)

 And the winner...

Chosen by


Brian! (Please email me your address.)
Thanks for everyone who showed Kim some extra love by voting for her story or tweeting about her book.

I'm going to be absent from Blogland until November. Our lives have been topsy turvy since June. Our daughter started college in August. It has and continues to give us some serious challenges, as she is eight hours away. The same week we took her to college my brilliant husband was transferred, so I'm in the middle of buying and selling a house too. Last month I began working on a project that is going to fill my heart with joy, but all the challenges in our lives right now made me realize I can't manage it right now. Once our house is listed and a new one is purchased I'll have more freedom and be able to share my cool news.






Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Snatched In Gullybrook (and a giveaway)


Three of Gullybrook's own are targeted by a group of men and women who know exactly how to get what they want. What they want are teenage girls. Where they find them is the local mall. Megan's been taking care of herself since her parents split. She feels abandoned and confused, especially at the crush she's developed on one of her new girlfriends. Normally, Megan steers clear of the mall, but her girlfriend has been eyeing a particular piece of jewelry, and it is her birthday. When Megan's plan to steal the present backfires, she's escorted by bogus mall security to a van that transports her to a new life. Candace knows nothing will ever come of the crush she has on her older first cousin. But it's looking distinctly possible that he could become her stepbrother at the rate things are going between her daddy and her aunt. When she's approached for a job at the mall, she's thrilled at the attention, and the chance to show everyone she's growing up. But her secret interview turns into her abduction. Sissy is Daddy's little princess, a romantic who's saving herself for marriage. Shopping is her safe place, especially when Mom and Daddy are fighting. Until the day a solicitous female shopper befriends her and turns her refuge into her downfall. Told through interconnecting viewpoints, Snatched in Gullybrook follows these girls as they are kidnapped, assigned new identities, and navigate the brutal world of sex trafficking. Despite the horrors of what they see and endure, they form a bond with one another. A bond that gives them strength to persevere, even when all looks lost.

My review:

Snatched in Gullybrook is written exceptionally well. It's about a topic most of us don't want to think about. The human trafficking or the sex trade really exists and needs to be brought out into the open. This book brings it to the forefront.

You feel the horror the girls feel when they are snatched. Your writhe with disgust as they are introduced into their new world. Your heart breaks for them over and over again and then you see a glimmer of hope for them. But then you crash as they fail, but you start hoping again...(I'm not going to say anymore. I don't want to be a spoiler. You'll have to read the book. I will warn you that it is very explicit.)

Kim Van Sickler is a former prosecuting attorney who prefers to use her research skills to inform her fiction rather than arguing law in a courtroom. She lives in Willoughby Hills, Ohio, with her family and rescue dog, Peter. Snatched in Gullybrook is her debut novel and is endorsed by human trafficking experts for its vivid and realistic portrayal of domestic minor sex trafficking.

Kim and I met through my blog in April. She is a delightful lady. She asked me to do a book review and sent me a PDF of her book. I thought it was such an amazing (but hard topic) book that I agreed to do the post and then decided I would buy a copy to give away.  If you would like to win a copy (from me), a signed business card and some special candy (from Kim) please tell me in the comments. To be eligible you need to follow my blog and follow Kim's blog.

If you'd like to read a sample of Kim's writing and help her win a contest you can read her awesome article about grief on the Midlife Collage Blog. If you like it and/or leave a comment it will help her win. (Be a pal...)

Here are some important links:

Kim's Blog
Kim's Website
Kim on Twitter
Snatched in Gullybrook on Goodreads (there's a giveaway here too)
Snatched in Gullybrook on Amazon (and if you can't wait to see if you win it...)

The winner will be announced on September 29th and I'm going to share some cool news on October 3rd.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Plotter or Pantser?

Some people say they are plotters and some say they are pantsers, to be honest I'm not sure what I am. Maybe you guys can tell me once you see my writing process.

For the historical fiction MG novel I just completed (well, until I hear otherwise), I started by listening to my grandparents tell about their experiences during WWII. I started taking notes and telling them why I was jotting down their memories. I took lots of notes and am so grateful they were willing to share what was a difficult time in their lives with me.

I also wrote letters and got letters back from other family members who lived during this time period.

Then I typed up notes and potential scenes to use in my manuscripts.

I read a lot, both fiction and non-fiction. Some books were for children and some were not, most notably I read selections from Winston Churchill's THE SECOND WORLD WAR series. (I have to quote him here, as his words were and are such an inspiration to me.) ~Never, never, never give up~ I realize he was talking about the war and the spirits of the people in England, but for me it took on a whole different meaning. Sharing my families and friends stories is something I have to do and I won't give up until it is published. It was my honor to fictionalize moments in their lives.

I visited museums and took lots of pictures, then organized them into envelopes, so when I started writing I could pull out photos for those scenes.

One museum I visited had replicas of government brochures, posters, and letters available for purchase. These items were extremely helpful for finding details about daily living. I also visited antique shops and purchased bits and pieces to inspire me. My grandfather gave me some documents from the war, too.

Then I organized all the research and books into files based on locations that they applied to.

I printed of a variety of different maps of England. I even found one that showed the railroad system during the war.

To my surprise, one of my blog friends, Gary at Klahanie Blog, told me he was from the village in England I was writing about. He sent me photographs, which was spectacular, as I hadn't been to Leek since I was a child.

Once I finished with my initial research, I organized and typed up my notes. Then I wrote them on index cards. It may seem redundant to write notes, type notes and then write them again, but each time I did this I was ingraining the research into my brain.

I kept a list of words and phrases that I liked and were appropriate for the time period. I mounted them on poster boards and then hung them up on bulletin boards in my office.

By now I kind of know where the scenes are going to take place in my story, so I mount the scene cards on poster board and then mount what could potentially happen in each location. I try to use the senses as much as possible in each scene. (ex: the sounds, the smells, how things feel and taste)

Most of the poster boards  were hanging on the bulletin boards in my office, so I could glance up from my desk and review them as I was writing and thinking. I also used an easel for the scene I was currently working on close to me.

I didn't use all of my research notes in this manuscript, but I left the manuscript open ended so if I do have the opportunity to write a sequel I already have some starting spots.

I'm sure there are much better ways of organizing your research and thoughts, but this worked for me. I think you have to find what method works for you...

So, what do you think? Am I a plotter or a pantser?

What are you?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Books As Gifts With Kelly Polark!

Today I have a guest post by picture book/middle grade author, Kelly Polark! Her latest picture book, WORDS ON BIRDS, was released this summer!


It's beautiful summertime! Time for graduation parties, birthday parties, or just time to relax and read.

Books are always a great gift idea, and if you can pair it with something else cute - even better.

Check out these fabulous gift ideas that include books, wonderful books!


COCK-A-DOODLE-OOPS! by Lori Degman with either a Melissa and Doug farm puzzle and/or a cute farm stuffed animal!

ROCKABET: CLASSIC EDITION (ABC picture book of rock) by Kelly Polark with a Lego Rock Band game, a Hello Kitty KISS Edition, or a toy instrument! A band tee or onesie would be cool, too!

CHU'S DAY & CHU'S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL by Neil Gaiman with Chu the stuffed panda,  some school accessories, and/or a cute box of tissues!


ORIGAMI YODA gift set by Tom Angleberger with what else but Star Wars Legos or toys!

ROCK 'N' ROLL PRINCESSES WEAR BLACK by Kelly Polark with an ITunes gift card!

WISH YOU WEREN'T by Sherrie Petersen with this astronomy ball!


DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth and this Dauntless tee!

The DRAGONFLY series by Leigh T. Moore with some cool shades!

SHIVER trilogy boxed set by Maggie Stiefvater with a cute wolf tee!


Monday, July 14, 2014

Flooded With Gratitude

It may be hard to believe, but I'm at a loss for words that are big enough to express my gratitude. 

On July 7th, the tornado sirens were going off, rain was pounding our home and we were in the basement watching it all out the windows. (Naturally, my brilliant hubby was on the other side of the state.) The rain water made a beautiful waterfall coming over our egress wall. (I even video taped it on my phone.) We noticed the water rising in the bottom of the egress. It rose quickly, almost to the window sill. The TV went off the air, the sirens went off again, and I tried to move the weather radio to the bathroom with the pets. My beautiful daughter was in a panic because she thought her toilet was wasn't. The egress had emptied...into my house.

We (including my niece who is here for the summer) dashed around picking up anything on the floor, putting the furniture up on blocks, carrying as much as we could upstairs. I texted my brilliant husband on the other side of the state asking how to turn off the gas on the fireplace. He called a friend to come see what was going on. I texted a friend with a strong, college bound, football playing, son to see if he could come help. Within minutes friends began showing up at our house. They didn't bother to knock, they just came in and started helping get everything out of the basements. (Thank goodness for Rubbermaid tubs!) 

Within hours, the carpet and padding was removed, fans and dehumidifiers were busy drying the rest of the floors, pizza was ordered and wine was being poured.

The outpouring from our friends overwhelmed me. The next day people (even one who also had a flooded basement) called to check in on me.

We moved here almost six years ago. I didn't (really) open up to building true friendships until about a year and a half ago. I don't know how I will ever be able to show these amazing people how grateful I am for their friendship. 

The lesson I've learned from this is more than I have amazing friends. When you truly allow yourself to open up and build friendships, it allows you to not only to be the person they turn to, but they can be the people you can turn to when you are pushed past your limits. It feels pretty amazing to have so many people I can turn to.

Do you have a group of friends you can turn to? If not (yet), are you ready to open your heart and start building those kind of relationships?