A Slice of Orange


The Artist’s Way

December 29, 2008 by in category The Artist Way by Gillian Doyle tagged as ,

AW is a very easy read, in a way. In another way, it is a challenge to the reader to make a serious commitment to creative recovery, a commitment that involves carving out time to read a chapter each week and to spend at least an hour every week on a “date” with yourself and no one else, going somewhere such as a park or museum or anything that is simply a pleasure to do.

Most people who have heard of AW usually know of the daily commitment to writing three pages of free-flowing thoughts called the “Morning Pages.” Many balk at the assignment. Often they do not understand the purpose. To do it is to understand. No one can teach or explain the change that will occur to the writer. Only the writer will “get it” after doing it. This may take three weeks or three months before realizing the benefits of daily Morning Pages.

Trust that the MP will work wonders. Leave the doubts at the door. Set the alarm 30 minutes early. Have a spiral notebook and pen ready and waiting. Then release all the mind-chatter onto the page. Unload the swirling miasma of thoughts, some good, some bad. Don’t judge them. Just write them.

The dumping of any negativity is meant to unburden you. However, if you feel as if it causes you to focus more on the difficulties and challenges in your life without working through answers or at least feeling more peaceful, try another ending. In the final 5-10 minutes, write down things that you are grateful for. Write positive statements to affirm your goals and aspirations.

After three pages, put down the pen and go on with your day, knowing any worries you put on the paper no longer need to be repeated in your head throughout the day. Consider it freeing up the hard drive in your brain so there is more room to fill with thoughts of your book or whatever creative project you have in mind.

Happy New Year!

– Gillian Doyle

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A Fantasy Life

December 27, 2008 by in category A Fantasy Life by Janet Cornelow tagged as ,

By Janet Quinn Cornelow

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday. I am so far, being on vacation from my two day jobs. My sister made the wreath for me for Christmas. I started it five years ago and set it aside to make a Christmas stocking for my daughter-in-law. I stuck the wreath away and forgot I even had it. My sister reminded me before Thanksgiving and offered to finish it for me. She thought I’d gotten a bit more of it done – it was only about a quarter finished. I didn’t expect to see it until next year, but she brought it over yesterday. She had been working really hard on it and I was thrilled.

This is the time of year to look back and take stock of what was accomplished last year and then make goals for the coming year. Last Saturday, Debra Young, my critique partner, and I went to lunch and went over the goals we had set for last year, marking off those that we had accomplished. I was surprised at how much I actually had accomplished. Some of the items on the list were things that came up as the year went by. Writing can be that way sometimes. Some on the list will move forward to next year, though there are a couple I’m not sure I will accomplish, but if I take them off the list they may disappear forever and I do want to do them some day.

Goals are not so much about getting them all done, but framing your mindset for the next year so that you do your best to be successful at whatever you try. Sometimes what seems important in January is not as important come July. I like to have extra goals just in case I get in the middle of a story and have no idea where it is going or I get tired of it. Then I have other goals I can switch to. But the first goal for the coming year is to finish Sam’s story. I am sure he’ll appreciate that.

So I am wishing everyone a wonderful New Year filled with lots of energy to attack those goals. And may the muse never abandon us.

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Wishing you a very Happy Holidays…And taking the opportunity to present Joan Marlow Golan, Executive Editor

December 24, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as , , , ,

Joan in Rome joan-marlow-golan

I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to a remarkable woman: Joan Marlow Golan, Executive Editor, Steeple Hill Books. It’s the season to be thankful for our many gifts, and I consider Joan one of them. Here’s Joan!

“As Executive Editor of Steeple Hill, I manage Harlequin’s inspirational books imprint, with an editorial staff of five in addition to myself. The Steeple Hill imprint consists of three original series, Steeple Hill Love Inspired ®, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense ® and Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical ®–LIH will be launching this February–as well as a single title program that includes Steeple Hill Women’s Fiction and Steeple Hill Cafe®.

“The greatest asset at Steeple Hill is our authors. Steeple Hill authors have won the highest awards in inspirational publishing, the Christy Award and the RITA® Award, as well as myriad prestigious awards from the American Christian Fiction Writers, various regional RWA awards and other honors. Our books have been featured in the media, including The New York Times, USA Today and on The Today Show and even Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show!

“In addition to managing the imprint, I am the proud editor of Steeple Hill authors Hannah Alexander, Judy Baer, Vanessa Del Fabbro, Annie Jones, Catherine Palmer and Janet Tronstad as well as HQN New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller and radio personality Delilah, with whom I’m developing non-fiction titles for Harlequin’s new non-fiction program. Her first title, Love Matters, is out right now.

Q: What is your work history?

A: I’ve celebrated my 10th anniversary at Harlequin—in some ways I feel as if I’ve been here forever, because it’s such a good fit, it feels like “home.” My first job here was as Senior Editor of Silhouette Romance, and then I became Senior Editor of Silhouette Desire. In 2003, I was asked to manage the Steeple Hill imprint, of which I’m currently Executive Editor.

“I began my publishing career in 1979. I’d spent six years getting a doctorate in English and American Literature from Harvard University and was a diehard bookaholic. When I realized that there was a job that involved actually getting paid for reading books, I knew that was the job for me. I was determined to break into publishing despite being told by many that I was “overqualified and underexperienced” for an entry-level job.

“Ultimately, my entrée into the industry was as a Book of the Month Club reader. It took me three months to get that position—I kept calling the BOMC Editor-in-Chief, Al Silverman, and since I knew he was a Yankees fan would chat with him about Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin and company, and every month he’d tell me he wasn’t hiring but to call him back next month.

“My first full-time job was as a nonfiction editor at now-defunct Hart Publishing Company, where I edited the bestseller THE 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History by Michael Hart, which has spawned many imitators. I went on to fiction, and then I discovered romance publishing—it was love at first sight, and for most of my publishing career I’ve been a romance editor.

“I began my romance publishing career with Richard Gallen, a packager, and then became an editor at Berkley’s Second Chance at Love line, which I eventually managed. When my daughter was a toddler, I decided corporate life wasn’t sufficiently family friendly and mommy-tracked myself for seven years, continuing to freelance.

“Working at home eventually got lonely, but I still wasn’t ready to reenter corporate life, so I got into religious publishing as an editor for Catholic publisher Liguori Publications. After four years, Liguori decided to close their New York office, and by that time I was ready to come back to the corporate world—and Harlequin was ready for me. My friends think I have the dream job . . . and I’m inclined to agree! I especially value the warm relationships built up over years of working together, both in the author/agent community and with Harlequin colleagues.

Q: What are you looking for in submissions?

A: Please note that while we accept all submissions for Steeple Hill series, we do not accept unsolicited manuscripts for the single title program, which includes Steeple Hill Cafe®. As an editor I look for:

– Characters I care about

– A compelling, distinctive author voice

– A story that hooks me with the first sentence and won’t let me put it down.

Q: Do you have any advice for writers for Steeple Hill?

A: Yes.
– Please read our guidelines before submitting to Steeple Hill:
Steeple Hill Love Inspired
Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense
Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical
Steeple Hill Women’s Fiction
Steeple Hill Cafe

You will also find them on eHarlequin.com—scroll to the bottom of the homepage and click on Writing Guidelines.

– Remember that Jesus got His points across by telling wonderful stories and do likewise.

– Keep in mind that if you do not interest an editor on page one, they aren’t going to read much more (if the editor is me, I am not going to read any more).

– Try to read your work not like an author but like a consumer who has picked it up in the bookstore and is sampling to decide whether or not to buy it.

– The best way to endear yourself to your editor is to deliver your mss. on time.

Q: What are your favorite childhood novels?

A: My all-time favorite novel, which I reread every few years, is LITTLE WOMEN. I also consider it the ur-inspirational novel—not only are many of the chapters named after elements from John Bunyan’s Christian classic PILGRIM’S PROGRESS, but the four March sisters each make an inner pilgrimage to spiritual enlightenment and each finds her mission.

It’s also a very well-written book with a dynamite first line—“’Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,’ ” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.”

At various times in my life I’ve identified with each of the sisters, but now I identify most with Marmee—who is a great role model for me as a manager. I have to admit, for me life doesn’t get any better than lying in bed rereading LITTLE WOMEN—I find the March family endlessly fascinating, not to mention never having gotten over my childhood crush on boy-next-door Laurie.

– Another book I adored as a child and is back in print again today is HALF MAGIC by Edgar Eager. Four children, whose widowed mom works so that they are often left to their own devices, find a magic coin that grants wishes—but only by halves. This leads to some terrific adventures and profound life lessons for all of the children. What I really love about this book is the author’s voice. I used to read HALF MAGIC to children I babysat for and they all loved it, too, as did my own kids. I enjoyed it just as much rereading it as an adult. If you’ve never read it, treat yourself!

– Both of these beloved books have great dialog. Dialog is really important in making a novel work—it can provide sparkle, humor, reveal character and fill in the backstory as well as making the pace sufficiently brisk that the reader doesn’t get bored.

Q: Is being an editor what you imagined when you first decided to become one?

A: Actually, not so much. I thought all editors did was read and edit! So what do I do besides read and edit? I participate in a lot of meetings and spend untold hours responding to and generating email, and using my computer, with which I have a love-hate relationship. I also talk on the phone, which I still prefer to email for a real discussion (I respond to the human voice and tend to “hear” books as I read them).

Q: Is there any activity you prefer to reading?

A: I do enjoy other forms of entertainment and am particularly passionate about opera and theater. In the years since my husband died, I have become an avid gardener as well, and planted over 400 bulbs this fall so that I will have “Little Amsterdam” in front of my house in the spring. I enjoy traveling and spent a memorable week in Rome, Italy last year. I also take a Qi Gong class, meditate, and say the Chaplet to the Divine Mercy, the prayer I feel especially called to, every day, and I’m a lector at my church.

But to answer the question, no, nothing does it for me like a good book—and I founded a bookclub in my community that has been meeting for over a decade! I especially enjoy poetry and biography in addition to fiction, with Linda Pastan and Mary Oliver my two favorite contemporary poets at the moment.

My favorite quote is by Logan Pearsall Smith: “People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.” Amen!

May visions of sugar plums dance in your head….

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Advice to Myself as a Newbie Author

December 22, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as ,

by Shauna Roberts

Today’s Guest: Sandra Kay

Sandra Kay’s first book, Heart of Stone, was released in digital format on October 3rd by The Wild Rose Press. The print release will be on January 3, 2009. Heart of Stone won First Place in the Fort Bend (Texas) Writer’s Guild contest. She has been writing contemporary romance for about nine years and has belonged to the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America since 2000. She served on the Board of Directors for three years, two as Ways and Means Director and one as Secretary.

Sandra, if you could travel back in time to before you were first published, what advice would you give yourself?

If I could go back in time to before I was first published. . . .

An interesting question—one that I had to think extensively about. As a first-time published author, I read with interest the insightful answers given by the multipublished authors of OCC. And, that’s where I found my #1 answer:

1. I would not be so reticent about networking with published authors. What a font of information we have readily available in OCC. From Ask an Author, to critiques, to workshops, and simply answering questions, these ladies volunteer their time and expertise to help others obtain the dream.

I would also urge new writers to:

2. Never stop learning. I have to say that I did follow this rule. I took Creative Writing classes. I scribbled copious notes while listening to our meeting speakers. I attended workshops. And I continue to take online classes, most recently one on HTML to make promotion and managing my Website easier.

3. Find a good critique group or partner. Make sure that you don’t settle into a group that isn’t really helping you, just because you’ve become comfortable with it. That can be very detrimental to your writing career. Find a way to politely bow out of that type of situation and move on to a group or partner that will give you constructive critiques. If you can connect with a group that has at least one published author in it, you will benefit from that person’s knowledge of the industry.

4. Become active in your local chapter of RWA. I began by selling used books at OCC and went on to serve for three years on the Board of Directors. I learned so much from the group of ladies I served with. And serving makes it easier to meet knew members.

5. Keep on writing. When you break through and sell that first book, you want to have others in reserve. Heart of Stone is part of a four-book series, and I had written three of them before I sold the first one. You don’t want to find yourself desperately playing catch-up to get that second book to your editor.

6. Read in your genre! I think someone else mentioned this, but I just want to reiterate how important it is to stay abreast of the market in your select genre. You need to be familiar with the publishing houses and know what they are selling. Know the correct house to send your manuscript to. Having said that…

7. Don’t write to trends. I made this mistake. By the time I finished my book, the trend had passed.

8. Learn promotion. You may not think you need to know about promotion yet, but when your book is released you’ll wish you had some knowledge on the subject, especially if you’re an epub. There are many books you can purchase on promotion.

9. Don’t let rejection letters stop you. Rejection letters are just part of the business. You have to learn to think of them as a learning process. I’ve received some wonderfully informative rejection letters over the years. Of course, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t terribly disappointed. I was, but enjoying a pity party won’t get us far in this business. Limit the amount of time you allow yourself to attend that “party.”

10. Enjoy the process. This is a great business; have fun with it.


To learn more about Sandra, please visit her Website at http://www.sandrakayauthor.com, her blog at http://www.sandrakayauthor.blogspot.com, or her MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/_sandrakay. Her new book, Heart of Stone, can be ordered online from The Wild Rose Press, Amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble.

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Writer on the Verge

December 18, 2008 by in category Writer on the Verge by Kate Carlisle tagged as ,
By Kate

I’m so worried about the economy!! Because, you know, who will buy my book if nobody has any money??? And I’m really nervous about all the bookstores closing! And what about Christmas? Should I spend any money?? How can I find the right present for my smart nephew? I’m not that smart!! And what about my mom? She’s such a pain in the—


AHEM! We interrupt this angsty blog …

and those economic woes …

and all those scary headlines …

and the deadline frenzy …

and the annoying hangover left over from the boring office party you were forced to attend …

and the soul-sucking insanity of scouring the earth for every last good place to promote your book …

and the perfectly reasonable fear of never selling another book, never, ever again in your entire life …

and the head-scratching confusion of finding the perfect gift for that way-too-intelligent fourteen-year-old on your list …

and the irrational need to spend more, more, more, just in case it’s not enough, because let’s face it, it will never be enough …

and the absolute knowledge that time will run out at the precise moment you remember something essential you forgot to buy …

We interrupt all that stuff …

… in order to take a deep breath … and wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a delightful Kwanzaa, and a wonderful New Year!

And may 2009 bring you all the joy and happiness and health and book sales and promotional opportunities you can handle—and a soupcon more!

Kate Carlisle’s first mystery, Homicide in Hardcover, debuts February 3, 2009.

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