Sunday, September 09, 2007

Birds of a Feather

I think there are two significant steps I took as an aspiring author that helped me reach my goal of being published: I joined Romance Writers of America and took part in all the online classes, genre-specific loops, and comraderie I could absorb; and secondly, I joined a local critique of like-minded writers.

Initially, my critique partners (CPs) met every two weeks, with each writer bringing 10-15 pages of her WIP (work-in-progress) for review and comment. After a year or so, I dropped out to focus on family and my day job. When I ran into one of my former CPs a few years later -- at a bookstore signing for her latest release -- she invited me to rejoin the group and I quickly took her up on the offer.

We still review about 10-15 pages of each other's work, though that varies. Over time, we've segmented into different romantic genres and the differences in our writing styles are very apparent. Mind you, this is not about your best friend's assessment of the book of your heart. We focus on plot, characterization, flow, etc. It's not personal (though we do like each other and that helps!). Because I write supernatural stories, I also belong to an online RWA critique group that focuses specifically on my sub-genre.

Both affiliations are more than worthwhile: they are motivational, inspirational and corrective when necessary. To say thanks for their support, my CPs are called out in the dedication for Where Souls Collide. Additionally, I've selected my friend and colleague, Karen White-Owens (a multi-published author) to launch my monthly author interview segment here.

Q) Karen, how long have you been writing and what made you start?

A) I've been writing for appropriately fourteen years. I started writing when I took a family medical leave to be with my mother during the last months of her life.

Q) What is the most important lesson you've learned as an author that you want to share with aspiring writers?

A) I think it's very important for an aspiring writer to become part of a writing community. Join a critique group. Go to writing conferences and find authors that write in the same genre to help you.

Q) Do you have a favorite character?

A) Cameron from As Long As There is Love is my favorite character. She made mistakes, but continued to strive for a better life for herself and her daughter.

Q) How would you describe your stories overall?

A) I believe I write contemporary mainstream novels with a twist of romance.

Q) Tell us about The Way You Aren't: What was your motivation/inspiration for the story?

A) The Way You Aren't was inspired by the Best Buy Geek Squad. I was driving along beside on of those Volkswagen Bugs with Geek Squad on the side and I started thinking about how geeks are always portrayed by men. I began to think about how a female version of the normal geek would act. By the time I arrived at work, I had outlined a story idea.

Q) What do you want readers to take away from the story? When will it be released?

A) The Way You Aren't will be released October 1st. I'd like readers to realize that we all have a little geek in us and to learn to practice tolerance with people who are different from you.

Q) How can readers contact you?

A) There's several ways to reach me. If you go to my website,, you can e-mail me from there. Or, you can e-mail me directly at

Thanks, Karen! Best of luck with The Way You Aren't!

Live. Love. Dream!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

In recognition of Sickle Cell Awareness Month

I've decided to share my family's experience with Sickle Cell Disease. To learn more, visit the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.

The Baby God Gave Me

“That boy’s going to be a pistol!”

Mom’s response to my unborn son’s refusal to remain head down summed up our shared personality prediction. Estimated at over nine pounds and still breech at 38 weeks, his fetal stubbornness was just a preview of the challenging personality he'd bring to the world. Born a few weeks later at a very healthy 9 lbs. 15 oz after day-long labor and (finally!) a C-section, Pistol Punkin a/k/a Ethan* and I eventually made it back home where life settled into its new normal.

We enjoyed our daytime aloneness, growing and bonding in our own special way. On one of these “all- is-now-right-with-the-world” afternoons, my boyfriend dropped by for lunch --nothing elaborate, just a Big Mac and fries with Young & the Restless humming in the background. I glanced out the window behind us to see that the mailman had just arrived. But instead of the sound of mail sliding through the chute, he rang the bell.

“It’s another present,” I thought.

What the mailman brought that day was a certified letter from the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America--Michigan Chapter. I assumed the communication was a formality, informing me that my newborn carried the Sickle Cell trait like me and his older brother. Cold words from the form letter informed us that our baby’s newborn testing had revealed “a sickle cell condition,” there was a doctor at Children’s Hospital of Michigan prepared to care for our now ten-pound baby, and counselors were on hand if we should “need additional information.”

The mailman brought our whole world down around us.

The story continues on my website