Monday, December 27, 2010

Goals...The Dreaded Review Time

Today I start to review last year's business plan, as well as goals business and personal. Yep, there were things that worked and didn't work in the business plan. Hopefully, I learned something from that. Like not to get over extended! Or could becoming more organized and focused be the answer?

Looking at the personal goals, I see the same pattern. Some were achieved, others not. Once again, I realize the need to either not say 'yes' to so many family/friend requests or become more organized with the time around them.

The coming year promises to be as hectic if not more so than 2010. In looking at life, work and personal, I think organization is the key to get me through a lot of what lies a head. I've discovered clutter around me also clutters my creativity. So after the business plan is laid out and the goals list started, I will refocus on dealing with organizing the work area that exploded. Add to my efforts, start nagging the Honey to do the same with the crap he has piled up in the office that has started to drive me bonkers.

I will set a weekly minimum word count. Divided by the number of days I schedule to work, if I miss the daily objective, I can then catch up by producing more on another day.

I will set a timer to limit my time on the social sites.

I will do more in promotion...once again using the timer to limit time spent so that I actually WRITE. If I don't write, then promotion become a moot point.

These are a few of the things that occurred when I started to think about my coming year. What about you? Do you have thoughts to share?


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Guest updates

With the holidays in full swing, guest appearances are tabled until after the New Year.

But 2011 starts off with a bang! My weekly post will become more focused and guests appearances will got to 2 per week. Also toying with a couple of other ideas, so stay tunned!

Have a wonderful holiday everyone and I'll pop in next week with a question!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's Official!!! Happy Dance

Woohoo! It's official...I'm a monthly columinst for Night Owl Review Magazine. Leaf's Legends:Exploring the worlds of fantasy, myths and the paranormal
debuts in the February issue.

What a nice Christmas present!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Holidays to One and All

Holiday insanity is upon us! Our Christmas this year will be a quiet one. We did our family celebration yesterday because this is the year family members spend the holiday with out of town family.

The mayhem of 5 kids ranging from 2-12 rolling around on the floor playing always delights my heart, even if my ears are no longer used to the noise. It was fun to see the older ones (who wanted big kid gifts) as involved with setting up Zuzu worlds, as the younger kids who received the gifts. The results a little squabbling and lots of laughter. I was most impressed with how everyone shared with Toddler, who at 2 is still getting her head around the sharing concept.

Here's hoping your week won't be too crazy and that your holiday celebrations are safe and happy ones. I'm going to spend the next two weeks focused on new opportunities that have recently been presented to me and getting organized.

Whatever you, enjoy! I wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season and if you don't celebrate, here's wishing you a great week in general!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Guesting today---Penny Lockwood!

Join me in welcoming Penny Lockwood. Penny has graciously shared the first chapter of her middle grade paranormal, Ghost for Rent for our reading pleasure today. This one you'll want to get for that young reader on your Christmas list. So grab a cup of coffee and set back to enjoy. But first, a little about Penny!


I was born and raised on the East Coast, in Stamford, Connecticut. I attended Stamford public schools and graduated from Stamford High School in 1964. Classmates back then knew me as "Susan Lockwood." After high school, I attended and graduated from business school and also attended community college.

My family and close friends have known me as Penny since before I was born. My brother was enamored of Sky King's niece, Penny. He asked my parents if they would name me Penny. My dad wanted to name me after my mother, so my birth certificate says "Susan." No one called me that, however, and in my mind, "Susan" is my mom, not me. I am "Penny," and all of my bylines are either Penny Lockwood or Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz.

Like a great number of writers, I knew I wanted to write from the time I was a youngster. Writing for me has always been easier than talking, and as a child, I spent a lot of time writing letters and crafting stories for my own enjoyment. I find it somewhat amusing that one of my early stories was "Patty and the Country Ghost," and my first published novel, Ghost for Rent, is the story of a country ghost.

I lived on the East Coast until 1977 when I moved to California and I met my husband. In 1978, we moved to the Pacific Northwest where we made our home. We are the proud parents of a son and daughter, both of whom are now happily married. We have one lovely granddaughter. We currently share our rural six acres with three dogs and five cats. Over the years, in addition to dogs and cats, we've had goats, rabbits, doves, cockatiels, finches, budgies, and a turtle.

Over the years, I have worked and volunteered for a number of non-profit organizations. Much of that work is reflected in the non-fiction articles I have written offering advice to both parents and teenagers. My non-fiction has appeared in parenting, writing, and teen magazines. My fiction leans toward fantasy and soft science fiction, often with a touch of romance, and has been published in a number of small press genre magazines and online.

I have been published in two anthologies: Pirate Writing's Anthology Year 1: A Time of Change, and The Breast Feeding Diaries. My middle grade paranormal mystery, Ghost for Rent, is available from Hardshell Word Factory, and my young adult chapbook, Dragon Sight, is available from Sams Dot Publishing.

I have a picture book which has been accepted for publication with 4RV publishing and a collection of my science fiction and fantasy short stories has been accepted for publication with Sams Dot Publishing. More will be coming about these new and exciting projects.

I work as an intern editor learning about acquisitions with 4RV Publishing. I also work as a copyeditor with MuseItUp Publishing and Damnation Books LLC/Eternal Press.


This middle grade, paranormal, ghost story is aimed at youth in grades four to six. It is approximately 13,280 words, 10 chapters, and 65 pages long. The story begins when eleven year old Wendy Wiles learns her parents are planning to get divorced. Forced to leave her beloved city home for a cheaper country place, Wendy, her mother, and her twelve year old brother move to rural Warren, Oregon.
On move-in day, Wendy meets a neighbor girl who tells her their quaint country home is haunted. Events proceed quickly as Wendy, her new friend, Jennifer, and Wendy’s brother, Mike, see ghostly figures dancing in the woods. Despite Mom’s claims that “there’s no such thing as ghosts,” paranormal events continue to occur in the Wiles’ home. Meanwhile her brother Mike, arch-tease, continues to torment Wendy, claiming he’s causing the unusual happenings.
Wendy searches through library records to get to the bottom of the mystery. Finally with Jennifer’s help, Wendy begins to unravel the truth. At last even Mike can no longer disbelieve and decides to aid Wendy in her search. By the end of the story, the three young sleuths have uncovered an accidental death, a suicide and a murder.

ISBN: 0-7599-0340-9 trade paperback
ISBN: 0-7599-0337-9 eBook

By: Penny Lockwood
Available through Fiction Wise:
Available at: Amazon


With the rain pelting her, Wendy ran from her bus stop to her apartment building. She couldn't wait to get home. Maybe she'd call Darcy and see if she could come swim in the indoor pool. Or, maybe, she'd just go to the exercise room and work out before dinner. She couldn't make up her mind. Her twelve year old brother, Mike, liked to go straight to the arcade room, so she and Darcy would stay away from there.

Karl, the door man, greeted her as she skidded to a stop under the rain awning. “Good afternoon, Ms. Wiles.” He opened the door for her with a theatrical flourish.

“Good afternoon, Karl.” Wendy smiled, careful not to show her braces. She always felt grown-up and elegant when Karl open the door for her.

After entering the foyer, she groaned. Mike, dressed in his usual black jeans and tee-shirt, leaned against the elevator button, banging his head to the awful heavy metal music he enjoyed so much. She heard his Walkman even though he listened through earphones. Life would be almost perfect if it weren't for him, she thought.

Wendy reached the elevator just as the doors opened, and she slipped in beside her brother. She watched him out of the corner of her eye and considered asking him about the argument Mom and Dad had last night. She wasn’t sure if Mike even heard them since his stereo was always so loud. Mike ignored her and kept his eyes focused on the flashing floor lights.
Fine, she thought, pulling a book of Emily Dickinson's poetry from her backpack. Water dripped off her hat, but after living in Oregon her whole life, it didn’t bother her. She pretended her stupid brother had been abducted by aliens and immersed herself in Emily’s poems. Something cold and slimy slithered down her back. She screeched, and dropped her book. Dancing from one foot to the other, she stubbed her toe against her bulging backpack, then yelped even louder. She hopped up and down as she clawed at her back. Mike howled, and held his sides, laughing so hard he doubled over.

Wendy retrieved the fake worm Mike had dropped inside her tee-shirt. "You jerk!" she yelled, throwing the worm at her brother. She gathered up her books which had spilled out of her backpack onto the elevator floor.

Mike laughed. “Wottsa matter, sis? Can't ya take a joke?”

“You're not funny, Mike. Why couldn't I have been an only child?” She ground her teeth and balled her fists at her sides.

“Because I was born first, bird-brain.”

“I'm going to tell, Mom.”

The elevator door opened and Mike dashed out, racing for their apartment. “If she's working on a story, I wouldn't interrupt her if I were you.”

Wendy’s anger deflated like a popped balloon. Mike was right. Ever since Mom decided to be a writer, she'd become distracted and unavailable. Of course, Wendy wanted to be a poet, but poets are supposed to be moody and poetry didn’t take nearly as long to write. Mom spent most of her time caught up in a story - planning it, writing it, rewriting it. Probably if she sold something, it would be better, but so far her track record ranked zero. Maybe today she had worked at an office temp job and wouldn't be thinking of her latest story, Wendy thought hopefully, then sighed. Nope, Mom always thought about her stories.

When Wendy entered the apartment, she heard loud voices coming from the living room. What was Dad doing home? He hardly ever comes home for dinner any more. She closed the door and put her backpack on the hall table. Mike stood near the closed living room door. She tiptoed up beside him. Anger at her brother's teasing forgotten, she listened to her parents fighting. Her stomach felt like someone had kicked her and tears welled up in her eyes.

“I've had it with you, Paul,” Wendy's mother screamed at her husband. “You're never home. You say you're working late at the university, but you’re not there when I call. It's getting worse not better. You promised you'd be more available for the kids. They've probably forgotten what you look like! When you are home, you're either watching T.V. or working on the computer. If I'm going to be a single parent, I'm going to do it without having to be your wife too. I want a divorce.”

Wendy grabbed Mike’s hand. When he turned to look at her, she knew his shocked expression mirrored her own. “Divorce?” she whispered. Mike shrugged.

Dad's voice came through the open door. “Divorce? You want a divorce? Fine, Anne, you've got your divorce. I work hard trying to give this family nice things. Who do you think pays for this fancy apartment? You certainly don't pay for it with your stories.”

“Don't go bringing up my stories, Paul. You promised to be supportive when I took the creative writing class. Now all you do is make fun of my efforts.” Wendy heard her mom's voice tremble.
“Supportive? Do you realize how much postage you use every month? Well I do. I keep track, and it's more than fifty dollars a month. You don't earn anything with this career of yours, but you know how to spend it.”

“You're not being fair, Paul. You knew it would take a while to get established, and I have had some encouraging rejection letters. It's just taking time.” Wendy imagined tears running down Mom's face. She hoped the man she married some day would understand her need to write poetry better than Dad understood Mom’s need to write her stories.

“If you want me around this house more, then get a real job so I don't have to work all these extra hours.”

“You don't get paid for those extra hours, Paul. You're just trying to confuse me. Get out before this gets any uglier. I've seen you with her, you know?” Mom's voice sounded bitter.

“What is Mom talking about, Mike?”

Mike shook his head and frowned, then put his ear near the door again.

“Come on, Mike, I don't think we should listen any more.” Wendy pulled her brother to the kitchen.

“Wow! Can you believe that?” Mike asked, as he put his Walkman on the table. He pulled milk, peanut butter, jelly, and bread from the fridge, made sandwiches and poured milk into glasses. Grinning, he pushed a sandwich at Wendy. “Here I made one for you.”

Wendy pushed the sandwich away. “How can you think of eating? Weren't you listening? Mom wants a divorce!” With that lead feeling still in her stomach, she didn’t feel much like eating, but for once her brother wasn’t being a jerk. He’d even made her a sandwich. Then she saw the fake spider sticking out of it.

“Mike! How could you? Don't you ever give up? Mom and Dad are talking about getting divorced and all you can think of are your stupid jokes!”

“So what?” he replied around a mouth full of food.

“What are we going to do?”

“I bet we have to move for one thing. Who do you want to live with?” Mike wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

Wendy realized she'd been gripping her shirt; she ran her sweaty palms down her jeans. She took off her hat, put it on the table, then sat down and faced her brother. “How can you be so calm, Mike? We're talking about big changes here.” She glared at him.

She heard a snuffling noise and turned; her mother entered the kitchen.

“Hi, kids. How was school? I didn't hear you come in.” Her voice sounded strained.

“Mom, we heard you and Dad,” Wendy said.

“Oh.” Mom couldn’t quite look at either one of them.

“What's going to happen, Mom?” Wendy asked. She swiped her sleeve across the tears flowing down her cheeks. Her hands trembled as she clutched her chair. Inside her body vibrated like a massage chair.

Mom ran her hands through her short brown hair, disturbing the grey at the temples. “Dad and I agreed to separate for awhile. I know this is going to be hard on you kids, but you'll still get to see him. He’s packing a few things, then he'll say goodbye. I don't think we'll be able to stay here. I can't afford it, even if I go back to work full-time. Your father said he'd help pay our rent if we moved someplace cheaper.”

“Move! We can't move. I love this place, Mom. Why can't you and Dad just make up? It’s just not fair,” Wendy screamed. She pushed her chair so hard, it fell backwards as she got up from the table. She pushed past her mother and ran to her bedroom, slamming the door behind her.
Wendy leaned against the closed door and surveyed her room through misty eyes. She saw the double canopy bed, draped in soft pinks and white, the white double dresser, night stand and vanity, the standing oval mirror, and the view of the Willamette River outside her window. Why do Mom and Dad have to be so stupid? She threw herself on her bed. Tears fell from her eyes; her body shook with huge sobs. She gulped for air as her nose clogged, but she couldn't stop crying.

She barely heard the gentle tap on her door. Then she felt a heavy weight settle beside her on the bed. Dad’s strong hand rubbed her back, then stoked her hair.

“Honey, you know I love you and Mike, don't you? It's just that things aren't working out too well for me and Mom right now.”

Wendy sat up, rubbing her fists into her eyes, hiccupping as she gasped for breath. Dad took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped her face, then held it to her nose. “Blow.”

It sounded more like a honk, but blowing her nose helped restore her breathing. She felt better too. “hanks, Dad.” Wendy took the damp cloth from her Dad.

“Dad? What did Mom mean about seeing you with another woman?”

“Mom and I have been having problems for awhile now, Wendy. The woman your mother saw me with is just a friend. We talk about things, mostly my problems with Mom. Sometimes we have dinner together, but that’s all. I love your Mom, honey.”

“I don't want you to leave. I want to stay here in this apartment with you and Mom.”

“What about Mike?” Dad laughed. Wendy looked at him. It wasn’t his happy laugh. His eyes were sad and moist with tears.

“Mike, too. Dad, I don't want things to change.” Wendy took several short breaths trying to regain her composure.

“Life does change, Wendy.” Dad ran his fingers through her hair. “You've changed. Just look at you. Maybe Mom's right and I don't spend enough time with you kids. You've become a young woman without my noticing.”

“Well, I am eleven, Dad,” Wendy said, twisting her mouth into a pout.

"You remind me of my sister, Barbara, when she was your age. You know, I teased her just like Mike teases you. I love her a lot now, and I hope you and Mike will appreciate each other when you get older, too.” Dad hugged her. “I've got to go, honey. Mom and I agreed that I'll try to see you on weekends. This is just going to be a trial separation. We'll work something out, okay?”

“Can't you just stay here and work something out?” Wendy held fast to her dad's arm.

“Thing is, honey, even if I stay, we can't afford this apartment any longer. They raised the rent last month, and now it's out of our price range, even if Mom did go back to work.” Dad kissed Wendy's forehead, then pulled her up to give her a huge bear hug. “Bye, sweetie, see you soon.”

“Yeah, sure, Dad.” Wendy slumped down onto her bed, staring at the door long after Dad closed it. “Why did you guys have to fight? Why does everything have to change? Life is supposed to be great when you're a kid. It's not supposed to hurt like this,” Wendy lamented to the empty room.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Publisher Laura Baumbach Gives Tips on How to Get Published!

I met Laura Baumbach a number of years ago at an RT conference. We discovered we both have a wrapped sense of humor among other things. The one area we didn't see eye to eye on was genre...Laura is a multi-award winning author of Male/Male erotica as well as other genres. I read M/M sometimes, but don't feel anywhere near qualified to write a romance about two men in love, but I applaud those who can.

Fast forward a number of years and today, Laura not only continues to write, but she is the publisher of not one, but three publishing houses. The oldest and best known is Man Love Romances. We're luck today that Laura has agreed to share suggestions on how to get published. So enough of my yakking...let me introduce Laura and then sit back and read what she has to say on the "How To" aspect of the publishing world!

Laura Baumbach is the best-selling, multi-award winning, acclaimed author of short stories, novellas, novels and screenplays. Most recently, Mexican Heat, written in collaboration with Josh Lanyon, has been chosen as a FINALIST for Best Gay Romance in the 2009 Lambda Literary Awards, a FINALIST in the 2010 EPPIE Awards, and has received an Honorable Mention at the 2009 San Francisco Book Festival. Laura was nominated for Best GBLT Author 2008 in the LRC's Best Of Awards for 2008. Her adventure story The Lost Temple of Karttikeya won the 2008 EPPIE Award for Best GLBT novel. Her sequel to the best-selling novel A Bit of Rough, Roughhousing, was 2007 Reviewers' Choice Award Winner.

Details of the Hunt, a 2006 EPPIE Finalist, in its mainstream 'buddy' version, was selected as a Semi-finalist in the 2007 Shriekfest Screenplay competition as well as becoming the winner of Best Telefilm in the aTalentScout, Winter 2004 TV writing contest, and the Fort Bend Writers Guild Screenplay writing Contest for Spring of 2005.

A retired nurse, Laura devotes herself fulltime to publishing and writing. She is the ownerof ManLoveRomance Press, a small print publishing house that specializes in gay erotic romance, mystery and fiction. ( MLR Press was founded in January of 2007, publishing authors such as Richard Stevenson, author of the Donald Strachey Mystery series and J.S.Cook, author of the Inspector Raft Mystery Series. She is also the owner of the promotional co-op for authors of gay romance and fiction,


By Laura Baumbach

It’s a straightforward question that isn’t easily answered. The whole ‘getting published’ process has numerous layers to it. I’m going to assume for the purpose of this article that the writer has acquired a degree of writing skill. While this may be the first story they have decided to try and get published it is not their first attempt at writing a story. While they may not be a seasoned, multi-manuscript author, they know how to craft a story from beginning to end and craft three dimensional characters readers can relate to.

The first step is to take that awesome idea you had in the middle of the night or in the shower and write it down. Give it a beginning, a middle and an end. Craft a believable storyline with heroes readers want to root for. Include sub-plots and interesting secondary characters. Remember your characters have five senses and keep atmosphere and setting in mind. Then when that’s done, reread it, rewrite it. Have someone else read it, IF you trust their opinion. Read it out loud to yourself if you don’t have anyone. Use beta or critique groups if that type of sharing work is for you. Evaluate their feedback. Make changes if you agree with their feedback. Polish your baby until it shines. But understand that if it is accepted somewhere for publication there is a huge chance the editor involved in making your work release ready will want you to rework anything from a few words to major portions of the manuscript. As pretty as it is now every word most authors write, even the pros, are not golden. Yours aren’t either.

The second step in getting published is, now that you have the manuscript completed, find the appropriate publisher to submit it to. The best way to do that is to find presses that publish in the genre you are writing. Buy a few of their books, read them, and make sure you like the quality of the house. See if you think your manuscript and their press are a good match. If you have contacts in the industry you can also ask around. Privately authors will discuss the pro and cons of the publishers they work with. And very place will have pros and cons. No one press is an exact fit for every author. Check on the sites that post warnings about problems with publishers to locate potential black holes you don’t want to fall into.

Third step. Once you have chosen a house, study their website, read their submission guidelines and follow them. Locate the correct submission email addy. Format the manuscript the way they tell you to, including the files they request whether it is three chapters and synopsis or the entire manuscript. The key here is to send exactly what they ask for the way they ask for it. If you don’t follow directions now, you are telling them you won’t follow them when you go to editing. Include your name and contact information on everything you send them--the query letter, the synopsis, and the manuscript or files.

Don’t skimp on the query letter. Make it no longer than one page. Include a brief introduction of yourself with mention of any writing accomplishments you might have in the first paragraph. In the second, sell your storyline. Make it intriguing. Tell me why I want to read this story. Don’t tell them it is the best thing ever written or what a masterful author you are. If you or it is any of those things the editors will see it when they read the story. If not, you’ll just sound silly. The third paragraph should give a sense of what you plan on doing to promote the book—your Twitter, Facebook, author website, blog, autographing plans, and conference attendances planned, etc. Keep in mind the Internet has a permanent and long memory. It is not unusual for potential editors to research you on the net before offering contracts. If you don’t play nice with other or have a history of rants or negative presence, it will affect how they perceive you and your work. Even if the best of authors are too much work in other areas of the
industry, publishers will hesitate to deal with them repeatedly, if at all.

Your synopsis should not be cliffhanger! If a press is to publish a story they really do need to know the whole storyline from start to finish, including all the spoilers. It should be a point by
point outline of the plot and character development. No skimping here either.

Step four in the process is sometimes the hardest for unpublished. Once you all these elements together, take a deep breath and submit them to the publisher of you choosing. Really, send it out. Make note in the submissions guidelines how long of a wait you can expect before hearing back from them. If that time period approaches and you haven’t heard from them besides an acknowledgment of receipt, send a polite inquiry to them to jog their memory and let them know you are still patiently waiting. Once you hear back from them, respond appropriately. If it was a ‘no thank you’, hopefully they included some feedback so you can see where they felt your manuscript was lacking. If it was an acceptance, then the real work has just begun.

Step number five is establishing good working relationships, not just with your editor but your fellow authors. Show you are willing to join loops, participate in other authors’ events, and generally present yourselves in a positive light within the industry environment and events. These are factors that keep open that publishing house door to more of your work.

November's Prize Winner

Can't believe it's December already! Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and not getting too stressed.

The name drawn for the November Christmas ornament prize is: hotcha

Contact me at so I can get your prize to you!