Friday, August 27, 2010


As Summer begins to wind down, I look forward to a few things.  The cool crisp air of Fall in the Northeast. The changing colors of the leaves.  The kids back in school. 

Fall releases for my favorite authors. 

Of those that are schedule for the rest of the year, there are few I've look forward to with the excitement I've had for Cassandra Clare's The Clockwork Angel.  The story, the first in The Infernal Devices triology, is a prequel to her Mortal Instruements series.  Shadowhunters and steampunk...what an exciting combination.

From Amazon: 

Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to ind her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatral folk stalk gaslit streets.  Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that  she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person.  What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them.  She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa.  As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

The book releases this Tuesday.  On Wednesday, I will be attending Cassie's signing in Exton, PA to purchase my book and meet the author for a second time.  I cannot wait to read this book.  I love her Mortal Instrument series, and since we have to wait until the Spring for book four of the Mortal Instruments, City of Fallen Angels, I might have to stretch out reading this book so I can get my fill of Shadowhunters.  So it might take me two days as opposed to the usual one!  *grins*

So what book are you most looking forward to being released?

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Buck Stops Here!

I like catch phrases, slogans, sayings...maybe it’s because I spend most of my days working in advertising and it’s all I hear. And they’re fun to insert into conversations and sometimes I like to do so at inopportune moments just for reaction. (Bam!) But this week, this particular idiom came to mind.

Quick history lesson…

“The buck stops here” was made popular by President Truman who kept this phrase displayed on his desk in the Oval office. President Truman received a sign as a gift from a poker playing prison warden (say that three times fast!), an allusion to the phrase “passing the buck” which refers to a marker that was used to indicate the dealer. In poker, if said individual did not wish to deal, he could decline the responsibility and pass the “buck” to the next player. And so “passing the buck” became synonymous with placing responsibility for one’s own actions on someone else. President Truman displayed the phrase “the buck stops here” as a reminder that, as President, he had to make decisions and take responsibility for those decisions.

In other words, every decision you make has a consequence.

I’m a big fan of that philosophy, and I hold true to that even when the outcome of those decisions are less than favorable. My step-son learned that the hard way this summer and will be facing his consequences for not taking freshman year seriously. I hold myself even tighter to that philosophy. Maybe it’s my inner nerd still going strong from high school, but if I’m going to do something, I do it. I don’t half attempt it, nor do I pass along the problems I don’t want to deal with or the work I don’t feel like doing properly. Half the time, it’s my job to tidy up the information that passes through me anyways. I fix problems before they happen. The buck stops with me.

Awkward transition coming. Wait for it…

So how does this relate to writing?

Well, that’s easy. Plot is the consequences of the decisions made by characters, driven by their motivations. (See how that comes full circle?) My WIP has been on hold for over a month because one of my characters had a secret she refused to share with me. She’s a minor character, so she didn’t get a lot of my attention, something she didn’t seem to mind the past year I’ve been working on this story. After a few beta readers ripped apart WIP 2.0 (1.0 didn’t see the light of day), I launched the development of WIP 3.0, the Revenge. Same skeleton, different motivations, new ending. Excited for the new angle on the story, I hit the keyboard and charged ahead into the fray. Until that minor character had a discussion with my MC that sent me to a screeching halt with only one thought in my head. Why would she do THAT?

Certain characters scream at me, bare all and tell me everything that’s going on in the mind. Others playfully poke at me, make jokes and try to make things difficult for me. This character sat quietly in the background, not talking to me. In the shadow of my other more vocal personalities, she said her piece to the MC and then walked off screen, disappearing out of my head. Only then did I realize that I didn’t know jack about her and she wouldn’t tell. I tried to push forward through the story, but found I couldn’t. I needed to know why she did what she did to the MC. I ended up walking away from my exciting rewrite frustrated.

Time apart does wonders.

Thirty-some days later, out of the blue, the character in question whispers her secret to me. At work, I scrambled to jot it all down. Suddenly, everything makes sense, and why she didn’t want to share it. Now, not only do I have my answer, but I also have this neat little subplot.

Her actions are still shady and questionable, but they make sense now. The motivation is there. She’s just going to pay dearly in term of consequences for that decision she made. She tried to pass the buck, but fate wouldn't let her.

Ever have one character derail your entire process like that? Ever have the answer smack you in the head when you least expect it? Does the buck stop with you?

Friday, August 13, 2010


As a follow-up to last week’s scintillating, albeit tantalizing, expose on change, my mind is now focused on the result of that shot at the stars…rejection.

I’m relatively new to the world of writing. Well, maybe I should say the “business” of writing, because I’ve written most of my life, with the exception of a large gap during college where creative writing was replaced with the regurgitative stylings of academic writing. Totally different mindset that took me years to recover from, and only managed to do so when I gave myself over to another love that I had abandoned during my collegiate years: reading. But anyways, I digress…

Writing as I do now, participating in an online writing group courtesy of Kelley Armstrong called the OWG, and more recently, a face-to-face writers group locally, it’s taught me the necessity of thick skin. You have to be able to not only take the criticism that your fellow group members throw at you, but you have to take the rejections from publishers and agents. You have to expect it, and be able to take it gracefully and use it as a learning block to improve for next time.

Same thing applies to _____(fill in the blank).

Any time you present yourself, separate from the crowd, you are opening yourself up to criticism and rejection. I spent the last two weeks interviewing for a position in my company that I was really excited for. I didn’t get it. From what I understand, the powers-that-be wanted to use this opportunity to change a little of the job function. I understand that, completely agree with it. It also meant that I was not the most qualified candidate for the position. Disappointed? Yeah, but that’s okay. I dealt with it the same way I deal with rejection elsewhere—I went to the bookstore, bought a large caffe mocha and wrote.

While sitting in the coffee shop with my friends, I opened my email and saw a response from a publisher on a submission I had sent earlier in the week. I completely expected another rejection because I had committed a faux pas and exceeded the word limit on their submission guideline. I opened the email anyway, because what better place to deal with another rejection than where I’d go anyway? To my surprise, the email read “Congrats, we want the story.”

From this I learned two things:

(1) Some rules are made to be broken.

(2) When God closes a door, he opens a window.

I jumped through the window.

That makes two short story sales in less than six months. Considering I just started writing seriously last summer, I’m pretty thrilled with that. Maybe it’s my sign to focus more on my writing. Maybe the world was compensating me for my disappointment over the job.

Or maybe I just stumbled through that open window and haven’t hit the ground yet.

Either way, rejection happens. Go grab a caffe mocha, learn to deal with it and learn from it.

How do you deal with rejection?

Friday, August 6, 2010


The only constant is change – Heraclitus, 500BC

I’m a big fan of the status quo. An if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it kind of gal. It’s just me. Who I am. I like dependability, reliability. I like knowing what’s going to happen. I don’t like surprises.

But I’m not an idiot. Change happens. And while I may not like it at the time, it usually is for the better. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but if it is broken, then why are we staring at it like a three-headed cow doing the chicken dance? Fix it.

But how do you know when something’s broken?

Sometimes you just don’t.

I’m interviewing for a new position in my company. The interviews are complete (I think), and now it’s just the waiting. One of the questions asked of me in one of those interviews really got me thinking—if I love what I do now, why change?

Indeed. Why change?

I do love my job. Those that do my job and read this may be shaking their head at me and calling for the padded room; but it’s true. I wouldn’t have stayed in this position as long as I have if I didn’t enjoy it. It’s stressful; we’re always under deadline; you’ve got one person telling you that you ain’t worth a dime and the next person singing your praises from the highest mountain. It’s a position of highs and lows where you need to be a marketing expert, a graphic designer, a customer service agent, a teacher, a psychologist, a problem solver, a negotiator and sometimes a hostage taker. (I personally love the last item, but that’s just me.)

I could keep doing this job for years and still love it and still do it well. I am not broken, but sometimes an opportunity comes up that you just have to take a shot at—so I took aim. Hit or miss? I’m happy for either.

I’m not looking for change, but sometimes change finds you.

As Robert C. Gallagher said: Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine.

How do you feel about change?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ron & Tanya Tie the Knot!

Ron and Tanya were married on July 17th at Bridge Acres Stable, a beautiful horse farm in Lancaster County.

Erin and Kelly from Kande Photography asked me to help them be in more than one place at the same time. While I was only there for a short time, I could see the love and excitment in Ron and Tanya.

For more pictures from this amazing day, please check out the blog post for Ron and Tanya on Kande's site.

The beautiful bride, Tanya

The proud groom, Ron

The guys

The rings

The garden

The first kiss

The cake

Thank you to Erin and Kelly for letting me help, and a huge congrats and wishes for a long happy marriage to Ron and Tanya!