Friday, May 30, 2008

Special Offer to Buy Books! Details in the Blog

I don’t want you guys to miss out on this. Look what the Resplendence Publishing assistant marketing director just sent out! Amy posted a comment about this on my yesterday's blog, but I wanted to call your attention to it by reposting that information here.

This is a great time to buy any of my ebooks or one of my print titles directly from the Resplendence Publishing website. Woohoo!

Here’s the deal.

We appreciate our readers and want to share this special offer with you. Now through May 31, use the code Memorial15 at checkout at our website Resplendence Publishing and receive 15% off your ebook purchase.You may use the code as many times as you like through the expiration date. Take this opportunity to save on ebooks, and remember that when you purchase Resplendence ebooks, you're Reading Green.You are saving environmental resources as well as your gas money!

And...get this, there is more!

RP is offering a code to buy the print anthology, Ladies of Legend: Finding Home, written by myself and my sisterwriters, at a discount. Here are the details.

If you'd like to own Ladies of Legend in print, purchase from the Resplendence Publishing site, and use the code 89PXFZD3 at checkout. This code is not good at Amazon.It does not expire!

Can it get any better than this? Go to Resplendence Publishing and stock up now!

p.s. I just did a quick look at Amazon and guess what? THE CURSE is on sale right now there, too for $17.50. That's a great savings! Buy it and another title and you can save on shipping, as well.

Wow, is this a great time to buy books, or what?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Validation: A Review for THE CULT

Nothing perks a writer up like validation of her work. Okay, well, I'll just talk about me rather than writers in general.

Nothing perks me up more than validation of my work.

There. I said it. And boy do I feel validated. I hope this doesn't sound like an ego thing because really, it isn't. It's about others telling you what you thought in your heart to be true, but you really needed to hear it from someone else to make it feel "real."

Okay, so yesterday I got a review for my book THE CULT. A really, really, good review. In fact, an outstanding review. Okay, so I'm stopping right there because yeah, now it's starting to sound like an ego thing.

But it's not. Truly. Like I said, it's about validation. Someone, somewhere, likes my story as much as I do, and damn, they've even said it OUT LOUD. Now, I'm here to tell you, that feels good. And I just thought I'd share.

Here is a snippet of the review for THE CULT, book two in The Legend of Blackbeard's Chalice series...

Title: The Cult
Author: Maddie James
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
ISBN: SKU# 24-200-107-414-3
FORMAT: Ebook
Date Released: Feb. 2008
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Rating (1-5 Pixies or a Recommended Read): 5 Pixies

This is one series I’d definitely like to have as Keepers and to read in order. I’m particularly impressed by Ms. James’ really seamless interweaving of the historical life on Ocacroke Island during Tory’s lifetime (1756) and the contemporary setting experienced by horror author Colton MacKenzie in Manhattan and on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This is a difficult transposition, but Ms. James accomplishes it perfectly

And if you are interested in reading the full review, you can find it here:

Dark Angel Reviews

Thanks for indulging me as I celebrate!

maddie

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Deadline, A Goal Met, and a Bestseller

A menagerie of topics today.

It's been a few days since I've been here. Hope everyone is well. I had a wonderful weekend, relaxing and enjoyable, hectic at times, and ending on good note. I took a vacation day today to write, which is of course one of my favorite things, and moved my current wip forward. Yay to that!

I was able to meet the writing goal today. I have a June 26 deadline and know how much I need to write each week in order to meet that goal. I'm about mid-way through the story. Yeah, it's gonna be tight but I'll make it. Good thing is I'm not traveling right now for the day job so I can come home and work at home most evenings. I set a goal for the day today--one chapter and word count goal. I'm just shy of my word count but the chapter is finished. I feel accomplished. The next chapter is started and hanging there--I've heard Hemingway did that--so I'll be ready to get back to it tomorrow evening.

Good news on the selling front. My little book, Red: A Seduction Tale, is going gangbusters, it seems. Right now it sits as number 4 on the bestselling ebook titles on the Resplendence Publishing website. And today, the publisher announced that out of all Resplendence titles on Fictionwise

Red is sitting at number three. I'll take that any day. :) In addition, the anthology that I've written with my sisterwriters, Ladies of Legend: Finding Home, is sitting at number 10 in the RP list of selling titles on Fictionwise.

So, I'll take those and go to bed smiling this day. A good day all around. I hope yours was good, as well.

Take care,

Maddie

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Beautiful Day

What a wonderful day. I'm taking a break from the normal writing hoo-ha to just say, wow, what a beautiful day. It was one of those days that I wanted to just go on forever. It was the kind of day that I think retirement will be like. Well, how I picture it anyway.

First, I opened up all the windows. Any day when I can open the windows and air out the house is a good day in my book. A stiff breeze blew all day and fluttered the curtains. The sun shone bright, the sky was robin's egg blue, and white fluffy clouds drifted by all afternoon. The temperature was perfect, slightly above 70 degrees F. I started the morning writing but soon found I couldn't say inside any longer.

My day was filled with yardwork, planting flowers, transplanting hostas, starting my herb garden, potting a tomato plant, mowing and trimming the yard. I had lunch and dinner on the patio and later, even when it was almost too chilly, I sat outside and wrote another scene on the current wip, laptop on my knees.

I. Did. Not. Want. To. Go. Inside.

I think I know why. Life has been so hectic lately and today, the first day in quite a while, I was able to do just relax and do what I wanted, to rest my brain. I love to get dirt under my fingernails and put some color in my yard. I don't know why but I just like to see things grow! Perhaps because I come from a long line of farmers. Perhaps. But the bottom line -- it was simply a beautiful day to be outside. I even kept the windows down in my car when I made a quick trip to Walmart -- and that is something that I rarely do!

My allergies will probably suffer a bit but who cares? And the house, well, not a lot got done inside. Tomorrow, however, there is a promise of rain. I can do the laundry and vacuum then. For today, I played in the dirt and had a damn good time.

I'll leave you with a picture of a beautiful peony that lives in my back yard.


maddie

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sex and the Self-Editing Author

A couple of weeks ago I gave a workshop at the Dogwood Writers Conference at Greenbo Lake State Park in eastern Kentucky. It was a great day and I saw many old friends and met some new ones. I plan to make this an annual event.

The workshop I gave was titled Sex and the Self-Editing Author. Now, I've been tagged as using a bait-and-switch technique to get people in the workshop door, but honestly, I have no clue what anyone could mean by that. Do you?

All right. Admittedly, the workshop was more about self-editing than sex. Your curiosity is piqued, however, correct? Anyway, I thought some of you might be interested in the handout so I've posted it for your here.

Sex and the Self-Editing Author

Whether you are writing and polishing your book for first time submission, or for your editor, self-editing is a necessary evil. Here are five sexy steps to get it right.

1) Get Fresh (lay down fresh ideas)

  • First thoughts have incredible energy
  • Allow yourself to write junk
  • Even bad writing can be edited – just get your ideas down
  • Figure out your style
  • Use devices – from spiral notebooks to AlphaSmarts

2) Teases and Tickles (acknowledge your inner editor)

  • Nagging sentence?
  • Niggling phrase?
  • Paragraph that just doesn’t work?
  • Passage that isn’t quite right?
  • Chapter that lags?
  • Middle that sags?
  • Fix them!

3) Awesome Twosome or Critique a Trois? (seek other opinions)

  • Critique partner or groups
  • Beta reader(s) -- get one, or two, or three?
  • Define or describe the feedback you want – Content? Grammar? Red flags? Formatting? Copyedits?
  • Word of Caution: Remember, it’s your story
  • Another word of Caution: Never let anyone edit out your voice.

4) Get Down and Dirty (masterful self-editing)

  • Pesky Passive vs. Dominate Active Voice (do a search, ex. “had”, “to be”, “ing” words, etc)
  • Those lovely adverbs (do a search, ex. “ly”)
  • Echoes and repetitive words/phrases (do a search, overused words, ex. “just” “slid” “damn” “that”)
  • Learn your publisher’s “house style”
  • Ebooks – formatting might be part of your editorial process. Again, know “house style”
  • Maddie’s Final Checklist:
    • Do searches for all common mistakes.
    • Read final manuscript through electronically, make any changes.
    • Print manuscript out and do hard copy edits. Key in changes.
    • Read manuscript OUT LOUD either hard copy or on the screen. Make changes.

5) Leggo Your Ego – Or, honey it wasn’t THAT great (listen to your editor).

  • Trust your editor’s instincts.
  • At the same time, trust your own.
  • Know what battles to fight.
  • Choose your battles wisely.
  • Listen!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Major DeLurk Event with Destiny Blaine

Okay, like you cannot miss this one, folks. Tomorrow, May 8, is the major delurking event of the year. Perhaps the decade. My goodness, maybe the century. Who knows?

A huge Cata Delurk party is happening on cataromance with one goal in mind -- drawing you, the readers, and us, the authors, out of our hidy places and putting our faces (or our books) right up front for one and all to see. We're drawing out the lurkers once and for all, and goodness, they are already coming in droves!

The brainchild of author Destiny Blaine, I'm excited to join her in this event. I've got excerpts. I've got books to give away. And guess what? It's not just me folks. Last count was something like over 200 books being given away. Yes, you heard that right. Over 200!

So, if you're not a member of Cata, go sign up for the Cata Delurk party right now. Expect lots of email tomorrow. HUGE amounts of email. But it will be worth it. I promise you.

You want books? We got 'em. Come and get 'em, baby.

maddie

Allow me to introduce you to Mia Jae...

Hi folks. Please meet Mia Jae. She writes what she calls Sophisterotica Romance ~ sophisticated romance with erotica elegance. She's a new author to be published next fall by my publisher, Resplendence Publishing. She's in the process of building her website and MySpace and I wanted to help her start gaining a presence.

By way of introduction, here is her video:


Mia Jae, Sophisterotica Author


You can find Mia here on MySpace.


Best,


Maddie

Monday, May 05, 2008

I've been letting the chatter quiet down...

It is interesting what turns of phrase or sayings call out and stay with you. You can find them almost anywhere and for whatever reason, significance can be found in the words. Maybe that is why I am a writer. Words mean something to me. They can be boring, exciting, indifferent, moody, whatever...depends on how I spin them and perhaps also, how I (or anyone) interprets them.

Thus so, a framed picture I picked up a Target several years ago that now hangs in my hall bathroom. I've held onto it because the words under the picture speak to me. Oh, they don't shout out at me on a regular basis but at times, they've wormed their way into my being. So, I've kept them and placed them where I occasionally see them. It's odd, but when I need to see them, that's usually when they make themselves known to me again.

It was the picture, however, that first caught my eye first, and the reason I was drawn to the item. It was a sepia toned photograph of two young children, a boy and a girl, standing on the beach. The boy had put a shell to the little girl's ear. It brought back memories of my own grandmother doing the same thing for me when I was little. She would place this large conch shell to my ear and say, "Can you hear the ocean?" Oh, I so could hear it. I didn't know until much later than she would blow through a small hole on the other side of the conch. But it was magic and yes, I believed.

I remember the day well that I bought the picture with the saying. I was with a good friend and we were shopping for Christmas presents. This item that caught my eye had nothing to do with Christmas but still, I took hold of it, looked at the picture, read the saying, and quietly put it in my cart. I had no clue then that the words would become so meaningful time and again over the years.

You see, we all have days we feel like our heads are going to explode with the stuff of life. We get overwhelmed and need a break. Downtime. Move into our caves. And when that happens, we have to allow time for the chatter to quiet down....

Listening to your heart, finding out who you are, is not simple. It takes time for the chatter to quiet down. In the silence of "not doing" we begin to know what we feel. If we listen and hear what is being offered, then anything in life can be our guide. Listen.

I don't know who wrote these words or where they came from so I can't give anyone credit. All I know is that I've learned there are times in our lives when we simply have to stop for a while, listen, and pay attention to what we don't hear as much as what we do.

That's what I've been doing lately, letting the chatter quiet down. Those who know me well realize and understand this. They accept and smile and comprehend. They recognize the importance of just being, listening...

Most of all, I understand and know and accept. The next move is up to me.

maddie

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Caged Bird

I took a walk this evening around my neighborhood and realized that on this May 4, 2008, it has been since late last fall that I have taken this walk. Shameful. I love my walks and because of way too much travel and cold weather and excuses I have simply not forced myself out of my house. Weather be damned, most of the time in Kentucky it's not severe enough to keep me from walking at least once or twice a week. Oh, of course there can be snow in the winter and days of rain in the spring, but honestly, it's a crutch and I know it.

I will allow myself the excuse of not actually being present in my neighborhood when I travel for work. I mean, it's certainly understandable that I cannot be walking around my block when I'm living out of a hotel room in Phoenix, correct? (We won't even mention that I could be walking on a treadmill while watching Jeopardy in that hotel, okay?) This isn't about exercise. This is about being present in my life. About living in my neighborhood. About having the opportunity to take the walk around the block.

Am I present in my life? Sometimes I'm not sure. Often, life goes by so quickly I'm not sure whether I'm present or doing a drive-by. And I'm getting to the place in life where I'm pretty certain I don't like it. Maybe that's why I picked up The New Earth, the other day. If it's good enough for Oprah...

Okay, okay, some of you may have been following the theme here of late. I'm in a crux. I'm doing a balancing act and wondering when all the balls are going to fall. I'm a Libra, okay? And when the balance gets out of whack for me weird things happen. Not to mention that Mercury goes retro in a couple of weeks again. Don't even want to go there and need to be prepared for that uphill state of being. I'm at a point where I need more from one part of my life and less from the other. I'm trying to figure it all out.

At any rate, back to the walk. It felt good to be walking, stretching my muscles, nodding hello to people (actual people live in my neighborhood!) and listen to birds and watch a hot air balloon float over my head. I noticed houses that have gone up over the winter and people have already moved in. I didn't know they were there. I've been absent in my neighborhood and I sorta don't like it.

For some reason, the phrase I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings kept rattling around in my head while walking. So, I found the poem by Maya Angelou and re-read it. It seemed apropos for the mood. Here you go.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
A free bird leaps on the back of the wind
and floats downstream till the current ends
and dips his wing in the orange suns rays and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage
can seldom see through his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.
Maya Angelou

Hope your Sunday evening is going well. I think I'll sit out on my patio with a glass of tea and watch the birds.

maddie

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Writer Must Earn His Living Writing

"Writing while holding down a forty-hour-a-week job is possible. Thousands have done it. But in time, exhaustion sets in, concentration wanders, creativity crumbles, and you're tempted to quit. Before you do, you must find a way to earn your living from your writing."

This is a quote from Robert McKee's STORY, sub-title Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting. I bought the book after attending RT in April and heard Randall Toye of Harlequin talk about their editors taking McKee's workshop. I figured it wouldn't hurt for me to work through the book, as well.

Turns out there are wonderful insights to story structure in the book and I'm, of course, still working my way through its 450-some pages. There are a few snippets of text, several turns of phrase in the book, however, that interested me almost as much as his take on story structure.

The above quote is one that jumped out at me and hit me full in the face.

When I turned 50, I made a goal for myself. That goal was to write full-time by the time I'm 55. I felt then, and still feel, that having that sense of freedom to write and support myself with my writing, without the constraints of the day job, would be pure bliss. Honestly, I'm not kidding myself here, I know this will be hard work. I know there will also be hurdles. And I fully understand that in this business there is no guaranteed paycheck -- no guaranteed contracts, print runs, sell-throughs, advances, royalties, etc... I understand the pitfalls and have taken them all into consideration. Still, this is my goal. And a particularly lofty one since I am my sole support. There is no one else to supplement income or provide insurance. And still, I strive to reach this goal.

McKee's statement made me really stop and think. I'm not a newby at this writing thing. I seriously started working my way toward publication over 20 years ago. I start publishing non-fiction not long after. I published my first novel 11 years ago. Five more books followed. And then I quit. Why? Because of a new day job. Because of being a single parent with two teenagers and no time. Because of life. Because I was exhausted.

I have vowed that no day job will now put me asunder. I will not give up my writing again, particularly since I've worked diligently the past few years to build back the career. I have a great start on my goal. I'm 1 1/2 years into it. And I will make it. Sooner rather than later, is my hope.

McKee is right. Concentration is comprised, creativity flies out the door, and exhaustion just takes over your body. You can't write...or perhaps I should say, I can't write and do it well. Can't write and be satisfied with what I do.

I wrote a couple of days ago about taking a vacation day. I did. I slept. Deep. Hard. Weird dreams. I always do that when I'm very tired. Most importantly, I feel somewhat rested. And in the past day, I've added a few thousand words to my current wip. And damn, yes, they feel good.

McKee makes it sound easy -- find a way to make it happen is basically what he is saying. Easier said than done, however, it can happen. I will do it. As have others.

Perseverance can be a beautiful thing.

Happy Derby Day,

maddie

Friday, May 02, 2008

Ah...Reading!

I stumbled upon this recently. The Brits have got it right, haven't they? Wonder when we'll get our own Year of Reading in the US?

Take a look.



Here are some of the events for the National Year of Reading in the UK.

Activities in the National Year of Reading will include the following themes:

• April: Read all about it! Links to newspapers and magazines; library membership campaign.

• May: Mind and Body. Reading and learning at work. The knock-on benefits of reading.

• June: Reading escapes. Holiday and summer reads.

• July: Rhythm and Rhyme. Poems, poetry and lyrics.

• August: Read the Game. The influence of sport and how this can help promote reading.

• September: You are what you read. Cultural, personal and local identity.

• October: Word of Mouth. Storytelling, reading out loud, reading together, reading aloud, live literature.

• November: Screen reads. Exploring the diversity of reading and writing; scripts, TV and films.

• December: Write the future. Writing, texting, blogging etc.


Being a literacy specialist myself (day job) I think I'll do a bit more investigation....

madz

p.s. Here is the official website. http://www.yearofreading.org.uk/

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Shshsh. I'm on Vacation

It's 11:23 a.m. on a Thursday morning and I'm home. Not at my day job office. Not on a plane flying somewhere for work. Shshsh. Don't tell anyone, okay? I'm taking a much needed vacation day today from the day job. Oh yes, much needed. Even my horoscope says as much. Even though I had planned this vacation day far in advance (I wanted a four-day weekend, tomorrow, Friday, is a holiday for our office) the stars confirm my need for time off. See, here is what they wrote this morning for those of us of the Libra persuasion:

May 01, 2008

  1. LibraLibra (9/23-10/22)

    You have been doing too many things on the go lately, and this reckless pace has to stop. Sure, you've been promising yourself for days that you were going to cut back and get some downtime, but when are you going to come through on that promise? Make that day today. Cancel or postpone whatever you can and give yourself a few hours of nothing to do. Being productive or busy is not the same thing as being happy. You need to reconnect with yourself and just chill out.

Chill out. A very good friend said something similar to me this morning in email. Actually, his words were "calm down." Of course, I had ranted about a situation I'm finding myself in and was tossing about all sorts of things I should do, but in the end, "calm down" and "chill out" are probably the best item on the agenda for me today.

After all, I have been on the run lately. I just took a long hard look at my calendar. In the past 24 days, I have slept in my own bed only 9 times and spent 15 nights in hotels. I have taken 16 flights and lived in 4 different time zones. I have been to Denver, Farmington, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Louisville, Greenup, and Bismarck. I have attended two writer conferences.
And that's just April. Would you like to hear March? Nooooo....

Yes, a much deserved and much needed break in the action today. So how has today gone so far?

I slept until nearly 9 a.m. A very unusual thing for me.

I had a cup of tea on my patio. I closed my eyes and listened to the birds for a few minutes, letting the breeze lift my hair and caress away some of the stress.

I started to read the paper and a magazine and put it away for later.

I thought about what I might have for lunch.

I decided to blog. An act that has not happened of late. Wonder why?

Today is for me. I'll probably wander through it. A good thing. I need to just wander though it. I may not even get out of my jammies. I dunno.

One thing I do know is this -- it's hell trying to write and be creative when your brain and body are exhausted. I may ponder just what the heck I'm going to do about all that. I can't have my brain exhausted.

maddie