Thursday, September 8, 2016

Blog Tour for Affliction

A blog tour for Affliction, book 1 in the Soul Seekers series, will be held from October 10-13. If you are a reviewer, please follow this link to sign up: 

Shortly after, book 2, Allegiance, will be released. I am in the process of planning the third book, tentatively titled, Hope and Honor.
Stay tuned . . .

Saturday, August 20, 2016

After the Book is Written

Those of you who are writers know what it’s like to turn in a book and then wait, sometimes endlessly, for revisions from your editor. For those of you who are readers, here’s a peek behind the scenes. It is impossible for writers to be objective about their own books, which is why we desperately need sharp-eyed editors. Over the years, I’ve written ten books and had nine editors, some good and some, ahem, not so good..

The first book I sold, Castle Ladyslipper, was to a press I later discovered was on the warning list for Predators and Editors. Totally my fault. The owner/publisher/editor proceeded to remove all of my chapter headings and re-arrange them in a system that made absolutely no sense. Upon my objection, she returned them to their original order. My second book, The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam, was picked up by a different publisher and sold quite well. Readers wanted a sequel. I wrote a synopsis and three chapters and followed instructions to submit  to my editor. She turned it down siting the following reasons:  cozies weren’t selling well and the company decided to focus on horror. #1. The R&R Queen is not a cozy. #2. Doesn’t look like that horror thing is working out for them. But, as we know, rejection is part of the game and we soldier on.

Flash forward to my young adult series. I wrote six books for Bell Bridge Books and had a wonderful editing experience throughout. The best editor, by far, was Pat Van Wie who now free lances. She worked with me to make my books shine. I will always be grateful to her.

Since leaving BBB, I’m back to writing adult romantic suspense. My first book in the Soul Seeker series, Affliction, came out earlier this year. When I received the edits, I scrolled through the document. The only editing advice was to remove the word that from each page. She also reversed the words it’s and its throughout the entire document. Not wanting to come across as a know-it-all, I tried to tactfully explain, “it’s” is a contraction for “it is.” She said, “Oh, you’re right,” and changed them back. Apparently someone ratted her out (not me) because she is no longer with the company.

I just finished revisions for Allegiance, the sequel to Affliction and the editor, Fran, was a joy to work with. She included helpful suggestions and was more than willing to listen if I didn’t agree with her. Hopefully, the book will be better with her help.

Until next time . . . Marilee

Friday, July 22, 2016

My Super Market Moment

First off, let me emphatically state, I am a person who should sing in the shower, not in public. This doesn’t mean I don’t sing, especially if it’s one of those songs. You know what I mean. Everybody has one—perhaps even two or three—a song you simply can’t resist. For me, it’s Foreigner’s I Want To Know What Love Is. It doesn’t matter where I am or who I’m with. I take a big breath and let ‘er rip. Apparently lots of women feel as I do about this particular song. Hence, my super market moment.

Normally, I pay no attention to the background music as I browse the aisles of Safeway. All I want to do is grab the items on my list and get the heck out of the store. On this particular day, I was in the produce section when, hark! My song was playing. I tried to fight it. Truly, I did, but when I heard Lou Gramm’s soulful plea, his search for love, his desire to change his lonely life, it was all over. The chorus was coming up. I tried to resist, but the lyrics were bubbling up inside of me, demanding to be set free. Clutching the handle of my grocery cart, the song burst from my lips and I warbled, slightly off-key, along with Foreigner. I want to know what love is. I want you to show me.

Guess what happened next? Two other women joined in. Not only did they sing-along, they used various and sundry vegetables for make-believe microphones. One woman selected a cucumber. (Hmm, a little too phallic for me) I reached for a parsnip, but then thought, “Maybe I’ll have to buy it and I don’t like parsnips,” so I settled for an ear of corn.  The other lady grabbed a bunch of carrots. We sang. We swayed in sisterly solidarity, swept away on the wings of emotion. When we finished, the kid stacking bananas clapped for us.

Do you have a special song that goes to a deeply held emotional place and insists you sing along?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Me and Dad

I like stories that come full circle, stories I read and stories I write. I particularly like it when life and love intersect in a satisfying way.This blog is about the two men in my life I'll always love. My biological father and the father of my children.

I wasted too many years being angry at my father. That’s what we did back then. Blamed our parents for everything that went wrong with our lives. My rant went like this: Would it have killed him to show some affection? An occasional hug would have been nice. And, did he have to be so judgmental? Yeah, I was stubborn (a chip off the old block) and a bit rebellious, but isn't every kid?

Then, older and wiser, I realized, without him, I’d have never become a happily married woman with three sons and a published author. Happily, he lived to see the first two events. The last occurred after his death but Dad definitely sowed the seeds that resulted in my writing career. 

My earliest memory is not of “I love you” endlessly repeated each time we hung up the phone or parted company. No, I remember being four year’s old, sitting on my father’s lap as he read to me. Alice In Wonderland was his favorite and mine as well. Actually, anything he chose to read to me was my favorite because I had his undivided attention. Books were the glue that held our family together. 

Next comes the happily married part. My childhood longing to be loved by my father led me to seek out a man who shared his qualities. At age eighteen (yes, I know eighteen’s much too young) I met my future husband who not only embodied the best characteristics of my father, but gave and continues to bless me with the unconditional love I’d been seeking all my life. And, trust me, I‘m not that easy to love.

Though my father wasn’t warm and fuzzy, he gave me gifts I’ll always cherish. An inquiring mind. A thirst for knowledge. The love of books. My only regret is that I never thanked him for those gifts. So, Dad, are you listening? Without you, I'd have travelled a far different path. Your grateful daughter thanks you from the bottom of her heart. May you rest in peace.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

My Writing Space

Do you have a favorite spot to read or write? Here’s a picture of my writing space.

And my somewhat negligent muse, Auggie Doggie. 

I spend so much time in this room, thought I would share. The plaque says, “Don’t piss off the fairies” and it’s one of my treasures. When I was writing the Unbidden Magic young adult series, I began delving into the history and lore of fairies and found the perfect match for my protagonist, Allie Emerson. Allie lives in travel trailer surrounded by apple orchards. In my research, I discovered the magic island of Avalon is another name for the Isle of Apples. This gave me a connection to Allie’s mortal and fairy world, so I was off and running. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent describing Allie’s adventures in both worlds.

My other treasure, MARILEE, carved in wood, was a gift from a high school volleyball team I coached. It has been on my desk for years and reminds me of a very special time in my life.

Do you have special mementos in your work space or a favorite place to read or write?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Plots Are Us

Writers are often asked, “Where do you come up with ideas for your books?” I’ve been known to jokingly answer, “I buy them at Plots Are Us.” Wouldn’t it wonderful if such a store existed?

When I started to write my latest book, Affliction, I had a kernel of an idea, but not a complete plot. Just for fun, I visited an online plot generator and typed in "twenty-two year old woman," "stolen babies," "city in the mountains," and "Harley-Davidson riding boyfriend." Here's the result: A young woman is hiking in the mountains. She finds a baby hidden under a bush. She calls her motorcycle-riding boyfriend. He picks her up and they zip down the highway with the baby tucked between them. The End. A bestseller, for sure.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
According to Webster the word plot means (1) a secret plan, usually evil or unlawful, (2) the main story of a literary or dramatic work, (3) a small piece of ground and (4) to mark on a map, the course of a ship. Now, we’re talking! Combine those elements and you’ve got a story to tell.

Plots are currently weighing heavily on my mind. I’m writing Allegiance, the second book in the Soul Seeker Series and kicking myself as I do so. Why? Because, in a weak moment, I decided the book needed three separate plot lines. Insane? Yes, I know. So now, all three plots need to be resolved in a realistic fashion. Adding to my dilemma is the fact that the story is in first person, which means the resolutions can only be revealed as my main character uncovers them. Trust me when I say I will never do this again. The good news is, I’m 2/3 done with the book. One of the plotlines has been resolved. Two to go. Providing I don’t go crazy first.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Save an Author, Write a Review

My new book, Affliction, was recently published and now appears on all the usual retail sites. Amazon, of course, is the biggie with millions of titles available for readers to order. So, the burning question in my mind as well as my fellow authors is: how do I make my book stand out? Other than spending a great deal of money on promotions, money with no guaranteed return, what’s an author to do?

Reviews. We all want reviews. Reviews are a writer’s lifeblood. If you type How To Get Book Reviews into a search engine, a dizzying number of articles pop up. I’ve read most of them and actually followed through on some of them. Join Goodreads and do a giveaway. Run a contest. Look for book reviewers on Twitter and Facebook.

Most writers, myself included, would much rather spend time writing rather than marketing our books. But, with the glut of books on the market, we have to be proactive, whether we like it or not.

So, my reader friends, you probably have no idea how important you are to all of us who spend endless hours writing our books. We need you desperately. If you have an opinion about a book you’ve just read—and I’m sure you do—take a few minutes, write a review and post it where it will do the most good. It doesn’t have to be perfectly worded or a prolonged re-hashing of the plot. A single paragraph will do. What will you get in return? The undying gratitude of the author!
If you’re a writer, do you have any tips for the rest of us? If you’re a reader, do you write reviews for the books you do (or don’t) enjoy?