Friday, January 31, 2014

How My Day Job Helped Me Get Published by Maria K. Alexander

Please welcome Maria K. Alexander, our guest on The Roses of Prose today.

Like many, I juggle a job during the day and writing in between the early morning hours and in the evenings after the kids are in bed. This means I get up before the sun and often go to bed much too late, resulting in only five or six hours of sleep. I can attribute much of my organization and discipline to my day job as a Project Manager, where my life revolves around schedules, to do lists, and budgets. I regularly assess, manage, and respond to risks. Re-planning and identifying creative solutions to a problem is a skill I’m very familiar with. Here are a few things being in corporate America has taught me that have helped me on my journey to publication:
1.      Develop annual goals and objectives 
Although it can be painful to write, you should have a plan for your writing career—even if you’re not published. And the plan shouldn’t just be in your head. Write it down. I recently attended Bob Mayer and Jen Talty’s Write It Forward workshop and according to them, you should have an overall five-year strategic plan along with tactical goals to get there. Like I’m required to do twice a year for the day job, I write down what I’ve accomplished toward meeting my goal. This helps me to re-evaluate if I need to change my approach, establish additional tactical goals, or maybe eliminate goals that don’t apply any longer. The publishing industry is changing quickly, so you must continuously make sure the steps you’re taking are on the road toward where you want to be.
2.      Daily or weekly “to do” list
I’m a list person. It’s been ingrained in me compliments of Mom and necessary for the day job. It includes the key things I need to do over the next couple weeks, plus a few ‘wish’ items that I’d like to do if I have time. I keep the list right next to my laptop and assess daily. Unfortunately, I often end up adding more items than I cross off.
3.      Risk Mitigation and Contingency Planning
There’s always going to be something that comes up that will take you away from accomplishing your writing. Sometimes, you’ll be able to plan for interruptions. Like when you take a vacation. But other times it won’t be planned, and it impacts your ability to write or possibly even meet a deadline. Try and go with the flow and adjust your plan and your expectations, accordingly.
4.      There will be failures
There will be times when despite doing all you’ve set out to do, you don’t meet a goal. Maybe you receive a bad review or a rejection. It happens and it’s easy to beat yourself up about it. Don’t. It’s not worth it and will only keep you looking back instead of moving forward. If possible, try to remain objective and take away any key learnings that you can apply.
5.      Celebrate your achievements
When you hit a goal, receive an award, get a request for a partial or full manuscript, write the words “the end” at the completion of your book, get an agent, or a publishing contract, remember to celebrate. My local RWA Chapter (NJ Romance Writers) does something at our monthly meetings where they give out Hershey Hugs when you get bad news and a flower when you receive good news. It’s a fun way of acknowledging a special moment.

Thanks for stopping by today. To celebrate the Kindle release of my contemporary romance, Untangle My Heart, I’m giving away a $25 Amazon GC. Stop by the Contest page of my website to enter. Through February 1st, Untangle My Heart is available Free at Amazon. If you’re so inclined, please pick up a copy and provide a fair and honest review.

Blurb for Untangle My Heart, by Maria K. Alexander
When her marriage ended in tragedy, Kate DiFrancesco rebuilt her life, but has never gotten over the pain of what she lost. Seeking the help of an ex-lover ignites feelings she’s promised never to have again. She’ll need to untangle herself from dangers in her past in order to break the hard shell around her heart.
Edward Weston has a lot to prove, both to his stuffy upper-crust British family, and to               himself. Working alongside Kate, a woman he had a casual relationship with, stirs unexpected feelings. Helping her family makes him realize what he's missing. For the first time, he wants more than a one-night stand.
When Kate is threatened, Edward must overcome feeling unworthy to protect the woman he loves and fight for the family he never thought he’d have.
“Privacy is a hard thing to find around here, so you may want to lock the door. Especially when you’re wearing only a towel and my sister is on the prowl.”
“I’ll have to remember that,” Edward said, taking a step toward her. “I knew she was smitten, but didn’t think she would be waiting in the room after my shower. I was struggling with a tactful way of getting her out.”
“I’m sure you’re not accustomed to asking a woman to leave your room.”
He gave her an unapologetic grin. “No, usually not.”
“I guess it’s partly my fault. I told her I don’t have any claims to you. Apparently she took that to mean it was open season to pursue you.”
“Yet you stopped by. Why?”
“I wanted to thank you again for your help today. You dropped everything to come and help my family and that means a lot to me.”
He took another step toward her until he stood directly in front of her. “You mean a lot to me. I’d do anything I could to help you.”
She nodded in acknowledgement, not sure she could trust her voice to speak with him all but touching her.
“And you’re wrong about not having a claim on me.”
His hands found their way to her waist. Her heart thumped and she knew she should pull back, wanted to pull back. But his blue-gray eyes held her in a hypnotic state and she couldn’t move.

You can keep in touch with Maria at:
The Violet Femmes Blog:
You can buy Untangle My Heart at:
For Amazon Kindle:
In Print from The Wild Rose Press:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Looking Back at Winter & Forward to Spring by Diane Burton

Everybody's talking about the weather. Here in West Michigan, we've gotten over eight feet of snow. That's right, feet. I've never seen so much. The snow-covered ice stretches so far into Lake Michigan that you can't see open water from the shore. The snow on our deck pressing up against our slider is as high as my dining room table. Drifts and snowbanks make corners dangerous for drivers who can't see oncoming traffic. On top of that, the temperatures are hovering around zero, with windchills much lower. My daughter blames the record snow and extreme cold on Hubs and me moving over here. LOL

Like most people, I am so looking forward to Spring. It's only January and I have had enough Winter. Normally, I enjoy it. I love snow--when I don't have to drive in it. When I can sit inside my warm house and watch the lovely white stuff cover up the dead grass and the stubs of cut back flowers. But enough is enough.

Spring, you can come any time.  Spring with its tulips, daffodils, and lilies of the valley. I can't wait to see the flowers I planted last fall. New house, new flowers plus some from the old house. Wherever I live, I always plant flowers, especially perennials. I know they're short lived, but seeing them come up and bloom year after year is so enjoyable. I hope the people who live in our old houses enjoy the flowers I left behind. Whenever I can, I divide my perennials and take some with me to the new house. Despite many moves, the perennials provide a continuity to my life. The irises came from my mother's garden. The lilies of the valley originally came from my grandmother's farm. I like to think that I'm carrying on a tradition of gardening women.

I blog here on the 8th and 30th of each month and Mondays on my own blogsite 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I love the Internet.
I hate the Internet.
And anyone who uses it frequently will probably understand exactly what I'm saying.
I love the speed of the Net, as many writers do. Right from way back in the early 1980’s when it first became available to the very rural area I lived in, when you had to plug a telephone cord into your computer, none of this cable or satellite technology. And it was slow, at times painfully so. But then, at that time computers were also very slow, and the slowness did nothing to diminish the wonder, the sheer joy of being able to send an article or a newsletter to people in places as disparate as South Africa, Australia, The US and Jamaica, and have it arrive within hours.
Well, yes, I did say it was slow. But in those days it could take anything up to four weeks for a letter in what we now call 'snail mail' to reach any of those destinations from here in rural Canada.
To be able to send copy for articles, promotional materials, web content - this was in the pre-blog days, if you can imagine that - in so short a time was a miracle in communication terms. These days I can send an entire manuscript to a publisher in minutes, send article proposals to magazines far away, write web content for companies across the Atlantic who then use the miracle of the Net to disperse them to clients in other countries…
But I hate the speed of it, too. Because there's no taking things back once you press the 'send' button. Some time ago I submitted a manuscript to a large publishing house. Thought I'd done everything to their specifications, until I got a note back saying I'd sent a WORD doc instead of a plain text document. They graciously asked me to resend in the correct format, but it was only when I checked that I realized I had inadvertently sent the wrong file. An earlier draft, in fact, not fit to be seen....
Yes, mortified.
We all know at least one person who has banged out an angry reply to an email or article and hit SEND before they've realized just how much harm that one little email could do to their friendship, career, or online presence. 
Yes, it only takes a couple of inadvertent minutes to look a fool on the Internet.
And then there's IM, or instant messaging. It's surprising how that pithy comment, that funny rejoinder, can lose its context when it appears in your reply. I am still embarrassed when I think of an hysterically funny, ironic reply I sent to a writer who was hurt by a nasty critique from her critique group. It was meant to be comforting, but it seems it lost its well-intentioned humor as it traveled through cyber space.
Have you ever tried explaining that something you sent on the Net wasn't what you meant? 
All you do is dig yourself in deeper...
The Net is also a wonder for spreading information and education. I've taken online courses that I couldn't possibly access if I'd had to physically go to the class. And I've had students in my online creative writing classes (now a book, Naked Writing:The No Frills Way to Write Your Book) from places as far away as the UK, Ireland, Thailand, the USA, Germany, Sweden, Israel....
On the love side, not only do I get great benefit from the Net as a writer, but I've traveled a lot and come to rest far from the place I grew up, and far from other places I've lived. But email, IM, Skype and all sorts of other geeky things mean that I'm just a few keystrokes away from people I love. 
And that, my friends, is priceless.

Glenys O'Connell is currently working on a new romantic comedy/mystery series, Manners Malicious - more about that later! You can read first chapters of her books on her website here

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What Makes a Classic by Marina Myles

The Roses guest today is Marina Myles. Take it away, Marina.
To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, Treasure Island, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Who doesn’t love these tried-and-true stories? I certainly do!
I write fairy tale retellings, so it’s no surprise that I go gaga over anything that resembles a classic novel rewritten or a motion picture adaptation of a classic novel. (I LOVED the Leonardo DiCaprio version of The Great Gatsby. And wild horses couldn’t have dragged my eyes away from Gerard Butler in The Phantom of the Opera.)
These actors are uber hot. But what, I wonder, really makes a book or a movie a classic? Is it the storyline? The characters? A resounding social message?
Take Wuthering Heights. Timeless and provocative, the story tells of a rich girl and a poor boy whose love extends beyond the grave. Truth be told, Wuthering Heights wasn’t received well when it debuted. Rather, it was bashed. Written by Emily Brontë and published in 1847, the book was described as “strange…morose…depressing, even immoral”. One critic went as far as calling the novel “that fiend of a book”.

Granted, Wuthering Heights includes scenes of mental and physical cruelty and vivid descriptions of class inequity, but my guess is those shocking subjects are what made people sit up and take notice. Now Emily Brontë’s work is considered sophisticated, intelligent, and haunting. In a word: genius. But why wasn’t the book valued in its time?    
Another similar but less elegant example of something being scoffed at initially is the film sensation “Halloween”. A horror movie written and directed by the controversial John Carpenter, it premiered in theaters in 1978. The plot follows Michael Myers, a serial killer who murders his sister, gets locked in an asylum, escapes, and returns to his hometown to stalk teenage babysitters that, we assume, remind him of his sister. At first, the film was panned by movie critics. Subsequently, it bombed at the box office. That is, until John Carpenter added a spine-tingling music score and Roger Ebert gave the film’s innovative camera shots and vacant, motiveless killer an enthusiastic thumbs-up. Then the movie took off. Eventually, it grossed over five-hundred and fifty million dollars and spawned nine sequels.

“Halloween” is considered an American horror classic and rightly so, but in my opinion its nine sequels were silly. (Who came up with the title “Halloween H2O – 20 Years Later”?!) The point is: the film’s sequels weren’t as good as the original. I suppose that’s the challenge every author and director faces when he or she attempts a rewrite, a sequel, or a remake of something that’s been previously acclaimed.
So what’s the magic ingredient that turns a novel into a classic? Everyone has their own theory on that subject and I’m happy to give you mine here. I believe all classics have one thing in common: they were ahead of their time. Perhaps—through decades of change and modernization—that’s what makes them stand the test of time.

What is your favorite version of a story retold? 

Which is stronger:
Fate or Desire?

Alba Spencer thought her past in Romania and the dark magic that haunted it was behind her forever. She is one of the first female barristers now, safe in London. But London has its dark side, too. A man named the Ripper stalks the midnight streets. There are rumors that her hated stepmother has found her again, suggestions that the nightmares of her childhood are returning. And with them appears the cursed Gypsy boy she once loved, grown into a man more seductive and more terrifying than she ever could have dreamed...

Dimitri Grigorescu has become a surgeon, a gentleman - and a vampire. The lusts that drive his body are scarcely under control, and even he does not truly know what he is capable of. To fight evil and confusion, Alba must rely on her wits - and a desire that overwhelms her doubts...

You can reach Marina at: