Monday, September 30, 2013

Murder on the Beach

When we moved to Georgia, I kept hearing about the great beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast, but I didn’t get too excited because I wasn’t much of a beach girl—probably because I’d grown up in one of the highest and driest parts of Texas. I usually picked the mountains over the beach for a vacation. The few times I’d been to the beach had involved murky water and crowds packed so tightly on the sand that I felt more like a sardine than a sunbather, but despite my lack of enthusiasm we eventually planned a trip to Destin, Florida. 

It was amazing.

The pure white sand contrasted sharply with the turquoise-tinted water that stretched to the horizon. Up close, as the waves broke on the sand, the water was amazingly clear. I looked at my husband and said, “I’m ruined forever. This is what a beach should be like.” 

I loved that beach and thought it would be a great setting for a book, so when I sat down to plot the next Ellie book, I decided Ellie and her family needed to go on a beach vacation to Sandy Beach, my fictionalized version of Destin. 

Of course, it’s a mystery and Ellie doesn’t get to spend nearly as much time on the beach as I did—she’s busy hunting for a killer, but I did get to describe the beautiful beaches, the posh hotels, and the kitschy souvenirs. We also had a real-life shark sighting on the beach, and I knew that had to go in the book, too.

Except for the shark part and the natural beauty of the Gulf Coast, everything else in the story is made-up—the murder, the paparazzi-stalking media who descend on the town, and the race to unmask a killer.

It’s one of my favorite things about writing—setting stories in places I’ve lived and visited. So far, in the Ellie books, I’ve written about the Inland Northwest (Washington state), Georgia, Washington D.C., and now Florida. My other book series, On the Run, features international destinations like London, Venice, Paris, Pompeii, and Capri. I’ve really enjoyed writing about each of these places.

Do you have a favorite setting/locale you like to read about?


P.S. I have a Rafflecopter giveaway set up to celebrate the release of Milkshakes, Mermaids, and Murder. :)

Sara writes the Ellie Avery mystery series and the On The Run suspense series. 
Photo by L. Rosett 

 Publishers Weekly called Sara’s books, "satisfying," "well-executed," and "sparkling."

Sara loves all things bookish, considers dark chocolate a daily requirement, and is on a quest for the best bruschetta. Connect with her at You can also find her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or Goodreads.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Notes Are Attached

By Laura Spinella

In the past six months, every so often, Karin Gillespie—the founder of this very blog—has said to me, “Laura, you have toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe.” Now, it’s worth noting that Karin and I have never physically met. We live a thousand miles apart. Yet, I have come to count on her honesty, a willingness to point out my missteps before I plunge willy-nilly into a situation that, with a bit of care, I might otherwise avoid. While I’m sure Karin would also rush to my aid to warn of liquor on my breath or spinach in my teeth, what I’m really referring to here is the laborious, ego-encrusted task of writing.    
 Let me back the truck up so you can better follow my point. Our new GBC topic is about critiquing. Depending on your source, it can be a writer’s best friend or the equivalent of taking a Dremel 4000 to your teeth. Who you choose to partner with can be as important as what you decide to write. And like any writer, I don’t relish the thought, but I do embrace the fact that I’ve never learned a damn thing from a five-star review or someone gushing the words “I loved your book!” Great for the ego, the muse will ask for a raise, but the writer in you will not improve one iota. With that understood, though never really discussed, Karin and I waded into the ocean of critique--you know how those first steps go. You wonder if there will be something firm underfoot or will saltwater rush up your nose as you tumble off into the weightless abyss. Well, only time and few chapters would tell... 
       I’ll admit that I liked Karin before we began to peck at one another’s work. She writes some of the best blogs this site has ever seen and her easy-going nature transcends the written word. For the most part, I require easy-going people—probably because I am not one of them. On the whole, we all get along at the Club, but have you ever wondered how the sub-friendships might divide? If we were all at a cocktail party, in what smaller circle would you find yourself? I bet you know the answer—it’s part of what makes this blog work so well and, I think, only human nature. So in deference to full disclosure, Karin and I had exchanged emails prior to our new writing relationship. To be honest, it was more like I’d bitch to her about some writing/publishing thing that had me perplexed, upset, or looking for the correct next step. (In fairness, several GBC writer pals have also been generous with their time and advice, and I would be remiss not to acknowledge that here) But last spring, at the tail end of an email, I offhandedly said to Karin, “Hey, if you ever want to trade chapters, give me shout.”      
I really didn’t expect a reply.
Let’s remember, Karin comes with an MFA and creative writing teaching credentials while I come with an unfiltered mouth and blunt reactions. But, perhaps, Karin was the type who responded to unfettered feedback. Who was I to judge? Besides, the greedy girl in me was tickled at the prospect of someone with real writing chops reading my WIP. We even had a serendipitous starting point. Karin and I were in the draft stages of new novels. It’s not my place to discuss her work, but I don’t think she’d mind if I tell you that it’s a captivating coming of age story, laced with a page-turning touch of romance. Karin’s transplanted gift for Southern gab and ritual gives the Minnesota-born author an uncommon take on a way of life that lesser authors would need to be raised on in order to write so succinctly and true. In turn, I handed over, chapter by chapter, the draft of my new novel, which is less about coming of age and more about coming to grips with an unexpected life. And when I say draft, I was literally eight chapters in when we signed on for our experiment in literary bartering.
Here are the highlights of what I learned : 
1. When sharing with a savvy author, the motivation to polish your work rises to an unprecedented level—even in a draft stage. 
2. Shrewder word choices and the desire to fine tune mediocre sentence structure is also wildly enhanced. 
3. I cut mercilessly passages and pretty needless phrases I might otherwise have let slide for months. 
4. I thought harder about why my characters did the things they did.  I made them answer to me before they were questioned by Karin. 
5. And when we got to a plot point that instinct said was a wrong turn, Karin echoed the same sentiment. I went back to the drawing board, doubtless that a surgical rewrite was the only remedy. 
In the end, I concluded that the experiment was a success. With the assistance of velvet-gloved but precise margin notes, I completed my new manuscript. From there I turned it over to my agent with a confidence that doesn’t come naturally to me. Is it perfect?  Don’t be absurd.  Is there room for improvement?  Without a doubt.  Still, I hit Send with the advantage of a trusted outsider’s point of view.
Of course, the question remains: “What, exactly, did Karin get out of the deal?” Story-wise, she’ll have to answer—though, if nothing else, I bet she hasn’t experienced such an amiable penpal courtship since the 8th grade. It’s only been a few weeks, but at a lonely writer’s desk I already miss our back and forth banter—somebody who, for a time, was as invested in Aubrey and her ghosts as I was in Amy and her prolific journey. With the right writer on board, there’s way more than a better story to be gained from a sharp eye and friendly advice.       
And now, a P.S. in the name of shameless publicity:

Karin didn’t critique PERFECT TIMING, but she did offer a lovely blurb for my November 5th release! Pop over to my website where you can read all the book blurbs (including sweet words from other GBC members) and the first chapter!   

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

YEA! A GIVEAWAY! But first, a blog post.

by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Write like an artist. Edit like a surgeon.
This is one of those things I say to other writers all the time because, hey, it sounds good! And, you know, I actually believe it.

When I'm writing a first draft, it's for me. I get to do whatever I want to please myself. But when I begin the real work of revising? Then the audience comes into view; then I have to leave my personal feelings and attachment at the door, and start carving my base sculpture into something that will be pleasing to others, hopefully lots of others.

Sometimes, I can do a lot of the heavy lifting on my own. After 32 books, at the risk of sounding immodest, I like to think I have a pretty good internal editor. I can often see where I need more about totem poles, or less. I can see that the reader's feelings for a problematic character will improve if I shift the mirrors, making surrounding characters worse so that the problem child is better by comparison. And I can see when I have to sell motivation harder so that the reader, even if they think they would never do the same thing in a million years, understands exactly why the character does what she does. (It helps that I'm a freelance editor.) But sometimes, even writers with strong internal editors need help from, well, other writers.

When a writer is first starting out, the tendency is to believe that the ideal reader is one who says, "I love what you've done! It's perfect the way it is! Don't change a thing!" Sounds great, doesn't it? The truth of the matter is, if you're lucky, as you go on you realize that's not the ideal reader at all. The real ideal reader is the one who says, "I love a lot of what you're doing here, but I think it could be better," and then proceeds to tell you what needs fixing, preferably in clear language, ideally with a prescription for how the fix can be achieved.

For the past dozen or so years, I've hosted a writing group in my home on most Friday nights. Over time, some of the players have changed but the spirit remains the same. I wish you could all be there - and not just because the wine and chips are always good! But also because over time, we continually if incrementally learn how to better serve each other's needs as writers. Since you can't be there, though, before we get on to the giveaway - yea! a giveaway! - let's look at what I think are some of the best ways to take and give criticism.

Taking criticism.
- Don't be tearful, don't be defensive, don't show anger. You may be feeling any one of these, or even a combination, and that's fine. Just don't let it show, because if you play any one of these three cards too frequently, you run the risk of alienating the people who can best help you. Learn how to accept what others say graciously, particularly when it hurts. If you can't manage anything else, at least say, "Thank you. You've given me a lot to think about." And you know what else? Do think about it later! When you have a clearer head, you might realize the criticism was spot on. Or not.

- If you make changes according to 100% of the criticism you receive or if you reject 100% of the criticism you receive, there's a very strong chance you're doing this all wrong. Others can only give their opinions. But no one is right 100% of the time and no one is wrong 100% of the time In the end, it's up to you to learn how to sort it into what best helps the work, what doesn't really change it but makes the other person happy, and what would hurt it.

- There's no need to ever say to someone else, "You just don't get it!" Even if you think that, keep it to yourself. No matter how wrongheaded the person criticizing you today might be, as they say, even a broken clock is right twice. And the person who's wrong today could be the best person to help you tomorrow. Don't make it impossible for that to happen by pushing people away with your superior intelligence.

- The only time it's worth saying, "Well, what I was intending was..." is in order to get clarity; if by stating intent you'll somehow be able to talk through with the person offering criticism how you can get from what you've done to where you want to be.

Giving criticism.
- You'll meet with more success if you always open with a positive. Who knows? Maybe you hated everything about the writing sample someone just shared with you. I don't care, you still need to find a positive lead to open with. "I really like the way you..." And then you can jump in with your laundry list of what you think needs changing.

- No matter how defensive the writer gets, even if you're treated like you don't know what you'e talking about, don't you get defensive back. Don't act as though you're being attacked just because the writer, or others in the group, disagree with your ideas.

- Don't just make up random crap to puff yourself up so you can feel important.

- Always remember, while so much in life is about you, when you're criticizing the work of someone else it is not about you, and your only goal in the moment should be to help the other writer improve. 

Well, obviously I could go on about this sort of thing forever...and I practically have! But that's enough on this from me. Moving on, then...

I did promise you a giveaway, right? (Yea! A giveaway!) To two lucky commenters below, I'm offering up signed copies of the trade paperback editon of LITTLE WOMEN AND ME. This is U.S. only, I'm afraid. Winners will be chosen at random and notified in the comments section here this Sunday at noon. When you comment, please tell me anything you'd like to about criticism.

Oh, and in the meantime, if you really want to make my day? I recently dropped the price of The Disrespctful Interviewer: 13 Interviews with Authors to just 99 cents. Ninety-nine cents??? That's practically another giveaway! (Yea! Practically another giveaway!)

Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of 32 books. Visit her at or follow her on Twitter @LaurenBaratzL where she frequently posts about sports, books and "General Hospital."

To Critique or Not Critique: How Other Authors Reading Our Writing Has Impacted Our Work


This cycle’s topic could not be more timely.  This morning I will meet two other women writers for the first meeting of a newly formed critique group.  Except I will not call it that. The word ‘critique’ and all it implies, has kept me from meeting with other writers for most of my writing career.  (Two exceptions, both promising, were interrupted by circumstances beyond my control.  Oddly, neither experience made a dent in the protective barriers I’ve placed between myself and the dreadful possibility of criticism.)    
            All this time, I’ve avoided exposing my work-in-progress, afraid, afraid, afraid.   This fear is my enemy, she is almost my pet.  She is the giant cat behind bars,  I am the dog in the foreground, peering off the deck and trying to get the courage to jump off into a new sentence.   .   
            When I analyze this emotion, I’m befuddled.  Other writers are – and always have been – the gentlest of my readers.  They understand the process.  They know how fragile is a writer’s ego. They have, from the time I began to write many years ago, been sweet to me.  Pat Conroy wrote me a postcard full of encouragement.  Joyce Maynard got me my first publishing gig.  Julianna Baggott offered to blurb my first novel.  Jodi Picoult and Carlos Eire were kind enough to read it and praise it too.  Joshilyn Jackson wrote unbidden, a stranger, to tell me she’d loved my book, back when she was a member of the Girlfriend’s Cyber Circuit.  Janis Owen, Lee Smith, Cassandra King, all whispered compliments at various points along the way.
            I have been blessed by the encouraging words of other writers:  Paul Shepherd, Umi Deshpande, Jon Jefferson.  I’m lucky enough to find myself in a town full of talented artists, including Barbara Hamby, Diane Roberts, Maria Geraci, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, Mark Winegardner, Mark Mustian, Jeff Vandermeer, David Kirby, Andrew Epstien.  We are so lucky, in this small city, to worship words, and to enjoy one another’s readings. To heft a glass in celebration when a new book gets published. 
            So why have I closeted myself?  Why have I failed to take advantage of the most basic revision tool in most writers’ repertoires? 
            I believe it’s my imagination.  That’s the real snow leopard.  I can, in a double back-flip of neurotic acrobatics, decide that anything nice that anyone ever uttered was the product of some vast conspiracy of kindness.  Or pity.  That all these people, including my agent, Laura Gross, who I call “the author whisperer” for her ability to coax me out of my madness, have met in secret tunnels to rescue my otherwise doomed sense of self.  (Yes, I am that important!  Yes, I am, as Anne Lamott said, “the piece of shit the whole world revolves around.”)
            Decades ago, my therapist asked, regarding the painful anxiety for which I was seeking her help, “What is it you think you get from this, Sheila?”  I came to understand that my distress was a distraction.  Telling myself the worst could happen, dwelling on disaster, saved me from having to perch myself on that most vulnerable ledge of hope.    
            Now, as I think about this very particular fear of being critiqued by other writers (or anyone at all) I see the similarities.  Am I afraid to believe I might be capable because that is, in a sense, a call to arms?  A call to try, to really try? To put out onto the page everything I have?  If  I fail, the fall will be spectacular.  Worse, it will be witnessed. 
            It is here I must remind myself that a workshop is a place of ordinary labor, of continued toil.  It is not the last judgment, it is not Mr. Everest, not the mythical beast guarding the gate at the hall of a guild to which I will be refused admittance.   The only gatekeeper is me, and she has, for far too long, kept me from seeing the workshop not as a sacred cow but as the muscular draft horse pulling a plow.  I could continue trying to till the creative soil myself, or I could harness myself up and get accustomed to the rough unfamiliar textures of reins and wood, to the pull of legs not my own.  Yes, I could get kicked in the gut.  But maybe I’ll find myself enjoying having a little push, a little pull, all aimed at making this harvest and those to come, a richer, more rewarding pursuit.

This post is not the first time she's exploited her dog to make a point.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

THE AWESOME GIRL'S GUIDE TO DATING EXTRAORDINARY MEN Pub Day or How a second book is like a second child

I'm really happy to announce the release of my second work of fiction: THE AWESOME GIRL'S GUIDE TO DATING EXTRAORDINARY MEN. Just so happy and excited...

Aw, who am I kidding. The fact is that there's just no way to yourself as worked up about your second book as you did about your first.

For 32 CANDLES, I blogged and tweeted and facebooked for months beforehand. I sent out postcards, crafted long emails to my entire group of friends.

I've dropped a few posts about AWESOME. Not a lot. Just like I let a solitary Facebook status update suffice for the birth of my twins after posting relentlessly, sending out paper announcements, and (no, I'm not kidding) live-blogging the birth of my oldest daughter.

My husband and I shelf-elfed 32 CANDLES at a nearby bookstore before going out to a celebratory dinner on my first pub day.

Today, my husband will be spending much of his night with Justin Timberlake. I think my MIL might be heating up some leftovers. I'm not sure.

32 CANDLES came out on my daughter's birthday.
So we celebrated both!
Just like I'm not sure whether I'll bother with a one-year-old birthday party for the twins, even though we didn't even hesitate to invite just about every parent we knew to my oldest daughter's first birthday celebration. Back then it was important to honor this super special milestone--now I'm like "Enh, kids turn one all the freak time. Let's just take a picture of the twins smashing a cake and tell them they had a huge one-year birthday bash like their older sister." I mean kids aren't that swift; they'll definitely believe me (until they read this blog).

It's not that I don't love my second book, or my twin daughters equally. It's just that I'm older now--also savvier.

Just like I now know that you don't need to blog, tweet, send announcements about, obsess over, and gorgeously fete your kids for them to turn out (hopefully) halfway decent, I also know that despite what publishers would have us believe, it's not the writer that sales the book, but the book that sales the book, and I've already written the book, so...

At the end of the day, just like I know that the best gift I can give any of my children is my time and undivided attention, I also know that the best way I can honor this book is by writing another one. Quickly. This time instead of worrying that I'm not connecting with enough fans, I'll worry more about not keeping them waiting.

So I'm going to spend the rest of the day working on my third book--right after I run out to pick up a bottle of champagne to enjoy with my husband when he gets home tonight. Yeah, it's a my second book, but that doesn't mean it doesn't deserve a bit of a celebration. We'll dress up and take pictures and tell it later that we totally had a book launch party for it, just like we did for 32 CANDLES. I mean, books aren't that swift; it'll totally believe me (until it reads this blog).

Ernessa T. Carter's latest book, THE AWESOME GIRL'S GUIDE TO DATING EXTRAORDINARY MEN is here and available for download and physical purchase at

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Will Write for Food

Confession time: I’ve dreamt of being an author since I was five years old, and never once did I assume it could pay me a living wage.

I treat my fiction writing as a career, and I work longer hours than most of my non-writer friends. However, I’m pretty sure I could make more money potting up plants at one of my local nurseries. Some days I even wish I could force myself to get a real job that helps pay the bills. Yes, I have made money from both my novels, but 90% of that money has gone back into the business of being an author.

I have a long history of following my heart…often with dire financial consequences. When I left college, I took a job below the minimum wage level because I wanted to be a London fashion journalist. That job was supposed to be my ticket onto a magazine, but then I fell in love with an American professor and ended up in a college town in the Midwest cornfields. Never being one to give up on dreams, I began dabbling with my first novel—set in the London fashion industry—and started up a fashion page on my local newspaper. I made $25 an article; each article took three weeks. But for the first time in my life, I had to contribute to a mortgage. So I took a reasonably well-paid marketing job that drained my writing time and my sanity for the next five years.

After seven years of marriage, I began the job of my dreams: I became a stay-at-home mother with a gifted child who, even at an early age, demanded I feed his love of words.  And as he became an award-winning young poet, I became more serious about learning the craft of fiction writing.  Fortunately, my incredible husband understood that even while I was not making money, I had a plan; I had a goal.  He funded conferences and writing organization memberships, and labeled every check an investment in my future career. (He also tolerated un-cleaned bathrooms, neglect, and chaos.)

But be warned: dreams can tip into nightmares. My pub. deal put a deep strain on my family. My son, who was then a junior in high school, also battles an invisible disability—obsessive-compulsive disorder. Junior year + debut author year + OCD = a very, very bad combination. Some days the stress levels in our house were close to toxic. As I failed to juggle everything I had previously juggled, my son’s OCD spiked—one week after my debut novel launched.  The next few months were grim.

Others have said it here, and it’s true: you don’t put yourself and your family through the hell of publication for money. You do it because you can’t walk away. Because that manuscript is your passion.

Don’t get me wrong. I would be more than happy with a multi-million dollar book deal to fund my son’s four years of college, to hire Merry Maids until I die, to replace our threadbare armchairs, and to allow me—just once—to fly home to England first class.  But really, I’m not writing novels with the expectation that I’m mining for gold. I’m doing it because writing is stitched into my DNA.

I was thinking about this while reading THE RETURNED by Jason Mott. I know, THE RETURNED happens to be a Harlequin MIRA book, and I’m a Harlequin MIRA author, but it debuted on the New York Times bestseller list for a reason. It's more than just the writing, the characters, the plot—all of which are outstanding. This is a novel with a heartbeat, a story that clearly has huge personal meaning for the author. As Gene Hackman’s character says in The Replacements, you’ve got to have heart. So: Follow your heart, write what you want to write, and maybe you’ll join Jason on the bestseller lists. And if you don’t? You can have “I lived my dream” tattooed on your arm and on your tombstone.

In honor of dreamers, I’m giving away a signed advanced reader copy of my second novel, THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR, to be published by Harlequin MIRA on December 31. It’s the story of two broken families coming together to heal, and it’s the story of Will, an internationally successful author who uses writing as his shield from life. But when he walks away from his global bestsellers to discover the story in his heart, he stumbles onto the one thing that has always eluded him: happiness.

To enter to win, post a comment below. One winner will be chosen at random on Saturday, September 21.


Barbara Claypole White writes love stories about damaged people. THE UNFINISHED GARDEN--a love story about grief, OCD, and dirt--won the 2013 Golden Quill for Best First Book. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Links to Inspire New Writers

By Karin Gillespie

I’m teaching three sections of college composition this semester, and frankly I find the subject matter a little dull (ethos, logos, pathos, rhetoric, thesis statement, blah, blah, blah…..)
To jazz things up, I throw in a lot of stuff about creativity and storytelling (We’re doing a narrative essay. My favorite!)

While planning lessons I run across a lot of writerly links.  Some will likely be familiar to you; others may be completely new.

Most writers have heard of Anne Lamott but my students usually haven’t, so it’s always fun to introduce them to her concept of "shitty first drafts". ( Plus the room always titters when I say the word  “shitty.”)
Some students think they aren’t particularly creative, and I tell them, “Oh hell yes, you are!”  I show them this video on developing creativity and ask them to read an essay by Brenda Ureland.   And to drive home the point, I show them the Elizabeth Gilbert TED talk on what creative genius really is. (I know. Everyone’s heard of the Gilbert talk, but not my kids. They are tabula rasa.  Besides it always gives me a chill when I watch it.)

And while we’re doing TED Talks, here’s one from a Pixar screenwriter about the elements of a great story. It’s worth it just for the deliciously dirty joke he tells at the beginning. (I tell my students to plug their ears if they are easily offended. They never do.) 

Someone in class usually cries whenever I show The Power of Words. (If you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth the two minute investment.)

I also believe that part of my job is not just to teach or inspire but also to entertain. Occasionally I’ll steal a joke or two from this collection for grammar nerds. Here's a sample: Past, Present and Future walk into a bar. It was tense.

That's it. Class dismissed.

Life Lessons, or Things I Have Learned from Reading “Smutty,” “Trashy,” and “Dirty” Books by Megan Crane

1.     Stop thinking so much and so hard about yourself.  Think more about others and see what happens.

2.     Pain can be good.  It can lead you exactly where you need to go.

3.     The more you trust, the better it is.

4.     Ask for what you want.  Everything’s better when you do.

5.     “Perfect for you” isn’t the same thing as “perfect,” and vice versa.

6.     People always reveal themselves if you let them, for good or ill.

7.     The good stuff always happens when you take risks and stop hiding.

8.     Shame is another way of hiding.

9.     Did that really hurt or did you think it would?  They aren’t the same thing.  One is real.  The other is you trying to control everything.

10.  You don’t need to control everything.

11.  Unless you really DO need to control everything, in which case, falling in love is probably going to surprise the hell out of you.

12.  You’ll be amazed how much you can take, if you really want to.

13.  Likeminded people are one of life’s best gift.

14.  Communication is everything.

15.  Be who you are, whoever you are.  Because the people who unhesitatingly love the real you are worth however scary it is to show yourself.

Conclusion: You should probably read more erotica.

Megan Crane has been out, loud, and proud about her "trashy book" addiction since the seventh grade, which did not endear her to all the snooty adults who wanted her to read "real books."  (She tried that.  It was called graduate school and she's thrilled that didn't take.  Writing romance is way more fun than discussing postmodernism!)  Now she writes them under her own name or as her alter-ego, Caitlin Crews.  But she likes nothing more than curling up with someone else's book, the "dirtier" and "trashier" the better.  You can find out more at her website.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Show Me The Money

by Maggie Marr

I've been a writer since I was 8 years old.  I turned in the first chapter of a romance book for a writing project in second grade.  What I knew of romance I must have gleaned from lifting paperbacks from my mom's tbr pile.  In third grade I channeled the voice of the cabin boy of Christopher Columbus, wrote a 'journal' in his voice and won an award.  In sixth grade I channeled the voice of an African American child on a slave ship being forced to come to America and won another award.  All from the mind of a Midwestern white child in upper-middle class suburbia.

Yes, I am a writer.

It took me forever to understand that not everyone hears these voices.  Anyone can become a writer but not everyone hears people telling them stories in their head.  Words, that when I hear them, I must then use my knowledge of craft and my practiced skill to actually turn into a story that someone else will want to read and buy.

It took me nearly as long to understand, and then believe, that people make a living writing.  They do.  I have.  There are good years, there are not so good years, and then there are the Oh My God I Am Going To Be Living In A Box Under An Interstate years.

I began my career without the expectation of making a living.  Writing was a hobby.  A joy.  My love.  My passion. I now expect my writing to pull it's financial weight in my life.  I love when art meets commerce.  I am a populist.  Yes, I love the literary writers.  I read Michael Chabon, Toni Morrison, David Foster Wallace (insert any great writer here because I've probably read them). And while I appreciate their prose, and their craft, and I study how and what they are doing and am often amazed by their talents ... pass me a well-written romance any day.

My career aspiration is to be widely read.  This aspiration isn't just about the money.  This aspiration is also about connecting with people.  Being a part of their lives.  Because a writer, for a reader who loves to read, is a part of your life.  I look forward to when Kristan Higgins next book comes out.  I adore Barbara O'Neal, Sylvia Day, Jane Porter, Megan Crane, and Abbi Glines.  I can't wait to read the latest by Robert Crais, Pete Dexter, and Kelly Hunter.  

I want that.  I want people to want to read my books.  I want a fan base.  I want people waiting and anticipating the release of my next book.  Yes, dare I say it, I want to be wanted.

Pathetic?  Who knows?  Who cares?  I am in my forties and I know who I am and what I want.  I want a long-lasting career as a writer and a career is something that you get paid to do.  I want to hit the list, any list, USA Today, New York Times--I want it.  I want every book I write to be better than the last book I wrote.  I want people to enjoy my books.  I want for every reader who buys my books to think--that was a kick-ass story and money well spent.

For me the proof isn't in the reviews--the proof is in the sales.  So show me the money, any time, because the more people who buy my books, hopefully equates to the more people who have read a book by Maggie Marr and (fingers crossed) means that those readers are anxiously awaiting the next book to come out written by me.

Maggie Marr is an author, attorney, and independent producer.  She is currently showing her readers the money by giving away one $100.00 gift card per month for the next 3 months.  Read about it and enter here.  She is the author of Can't Buy Me Love, Courting Trouble, and the Hollywood Girls Club series.  Hollywood Hit the latest installment in the HGC series comes out November 2013.  The first book in Maggie's New Adult series, Hard Glamour, comes out January 2014.  You can find Maggie on FB, Twitter, and her blog.  She lives and works in LA.