Jun 282016
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When I talk to authors about marketing, the first thing I tell them is:  Sell Yourself. No, not on the corner with a cardboard sign – but, it’s similar. In a world when millions of books are being sold, what encourages a reader to give you money?

  Your smile?

Your friendliness?

Your reason for writing?

Your inspiration?

The fact you have three kids at home and want to quit your day job because it sucks out your creativity through a red solo cup and a torn straw?


That’s all well and good if you can communicate enough of that info during a brief meet and greet. That’d be one interesting conversation. Chances are, a reader will run across you through social media. Through avenues such as Facebook, twitter, and wherever else, you can reach across the technological barrier and enchant readers. Kitten pictures, lolcats, writing memes, Ryan Reynolds, and… a very strong political soapbox. In our current day and age, everyone has an opinion. And politics are a hot topic.

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As we all know, nothing makes friends faster than sex, politics, and religion. </sarcasm>  Riiight.  Those three topics can ignite a flame that burns brighter and hotter than any lolcats.

If you have the fan base of Anne Rice, well, you have enough fans you can easily lose a few here and there without blinking an eye. Hell, by now you’re an institution.  The fact is, very few of us are Anne Rice. The fact is a new author, or even established authors, cannot afford to lose readers.  Your early career is a numbers game. The amount of emails you gather for promotional purposes. The people you romance into buying your book, into believing in you.  Then keeping them hooked for book 2, book 3, etc, etc. Repeat buyers are your bread and butter.

Taking a strong political stance can seriously damage all that effort and we both know marketing is a lot of work. Marketing can be the undoing of a good author. The time when a hermit can sit behind a typewriter and merely produce without interaction is gone.  Social media, websites, conferences, signings, readings, giveaways, blogging, and whatnot. It’s over whelming. Sometimes I feel caught up in a unyielding tide pulling me under.


So, is there a time when new authors should be political?

As always, you can ignore this advice and:

1.) Be ready to defend your ideas. Stand up, speak out regardless of the outcome. Any reader who likes your work will have to accept your views.

2.) Your book has a certain political stance – preach it loudly then! This goes for religion too.  Erotica writer? hell, post those sexy, half-naked kilted men.

Things posted on social media have been known to bite people in the rear end. It’s also inspired sales and made amazing connections. I, myself, have found and contracted several authors due to the ease of communication. I get to know an author beyond the frightening query and dreaded synopsis.


Being an author is a great accomplishment, but be thoughtful of what you post and be ready to stand behind it.


“You can’t right the wrongs because you’ll never understand the cause and you’ll be too busy dodging the effect.”
Author: Henry Rollins


 Posted by at 5:02 am
Jun 082016


This is a grammar guide written by Kelly Mortimer from the Mortimer Literary Agency. While she closed the agency a few years ago, I asked her permission to post this information so authors can have some idea on what agents look for when it comes to editing their manuscript. I know I’ve come back to it time and time again when I edit. I hope you find it useful!

PLEASE remember this is copyrighted information and not written by me.

Grammar Guide For Self-Editing or Editing Groups

by Kelly Mortimer ©2008

A – Awkward Sentence Structure – Rearrange, rephrase, or try deleting unnecessary words.

Aa – Additive Adjunct – No comma before “too” when it’s the last word of a sentence, and “too” means also. Ex: “Jane graduated from high school too.” Use a comma when “too” appears elsewhere and still means also. Ex: “Jane, too, graduated from high school.”

Ap- Attribution Punctuation – When using an attribution such as “said,” don’t use a period at the end of the preceding sentence. Use a comma, a question mark, or an exclamation point. Don’t capitalize “he, she, they.” Exs: “I have to move into a new house,” she said. –“It’s huge!” she said. — “I’m going to live here?” she asked [or ‘said’]. If the attribution comes before the sentence, use a comma. Ex: She added, “But I know I’ll love it here.” Only capitalize the first word after the sentence if it’s a proper name. Exs: “It doesn’t look small to me,” Jane said. — “It’s huge!” Jane said. — “I’m going to live here?” Jane asked [or ‘said’].

Use a period with a tag or beat: “It doesn’t look small to me.” Jane shaded her eyes with the back of her hand to maximize her view.

Aw- A while vs. Awhile – Never follow a preposition with the word “awhile.” “Awhile” is an adverb that means “for a while.” Ex: “Stay awhile” means “Stay for a while.”

“A while” is a noun phrase that follows a preposition like “for” or “in.” Ex: “Stay for a while.”

B – Blond/Blonde – Blond is an adjective used to describe. Ex: “She has blond hair.”

Blonde is a noun. Ex: “She’s a tall blonde.” (The “e” is rarely used when referring to men.)

Bc – Because – When possible delete “because” and form two sentences. Subordinate conjunctions can annoy readers if overused.

Bg – Began/Begin/Started – When does beginning become doing? Immediately! Ex: Correct: “He walked toward the door.” Better: “He began to walk toward the door.” (There are exceptions.)

Bi – Backstory or Internal Thought – Don’t write long paragraphs of internal thought or backstory to “info dump” every detail of a character’s past. Break it up. Change to dialogue or action whenever possible. No backstory allowed in the first chapter (at least).

Bs – Be Specific – Forget it. Forget that. Forget this. Huh? Be more descriptive. Ex: Bad: “He handed it to her.” Better: “He handed her a drink.” Best: “He handed her a frosty mug of root beer.” You can use unspecific words in the second part of a sentence if the first part is specific. Ex: “She took off the necklace and put it away.”

C – Contractions – Without contractions, writing is clunky. Read both sentences aloud. Ex: “I have hurt my knee and cannot exercise, but do not let that stop you.” Better: “I’ve hurt my knee and can’t exercise, but don’t let that stop you.” Exception: Dialogue. Characters have different speech patterns. Most people who speak English as a second language don’t use contractions, as well as those who like to sound … educated.

Cd – Character Description – When a character is in their POV, they shouldn’t describe themselves. Bring out features through another character’s eyes. Ex: “Jane grabbed her brush and tugged it through her blond hair.” Correct: “Jane grabbed her brush and tugged it through her hair.”

Cl – Colors – Instead of using an ordinary color, choose a more vivid word. Ideas on last page.

Cn – Colon Use – A colon denotes you’ve described something in the preceding text, (1) A phrase or a list. Ex: “Jane went to the cupboard needing only two ingredients: salt and pepper.” (2) If the phrase after the colon is a short, complete sentence; there’s no need to capitalize the phrase. Ex: “Jane found a simple recipe to make soup: she had to mix broth, vegetables, and salt and pepper.” (3) If the phrase after the colon is a long, complete sentence and denotes a different thought; capitalize the first word. Ex: “Knowing how to make the soup was vital: Jane couldn’t risk having her friends decline an invitation to her next dinner party.”

Cq – Colloquialism – Using two possessives to modify one noun. Ex: “Her friend’s dad’s car is old.” Correct: “Her friend’s dad has an old car”

Cs – Comma in a Series – (1) Place a comma before the “and” in the last element in a series to prevent ambiguity. Ex: “I’m going to the park, the school, and the store.” (2) If the last element has a pair of words joined by “and,” the comma goes before the first “and,” but not the last. Ex: “Jane’s going to the park, the school, and the store to buy salt and pepper.”

Csi –  CSI Syndrome –  Ever watch the TV show CSI? The two investigators stand over the body and say things to each other they’d obviously know, and would never say aloud. The characters are speaking to let us know. Sorry, no-can-do in a manuscript. Find another way.

D – Dash – Don’t overuse. No spaces before or after a dash. (1) Placed at the end of dialogue, a dash shows interruption. (2) Can replace commas, but be consistent. Use either two commas, or two dashes. Incorrect: “Jane loved the soup, as it tasted great—but what if her friends hated it?”

D/t – Day / Time – Avoid starting paragraphs with the day/time. It’s telling. Exs: “The next morning…” (or) “Two hours later…”

Des – Delete Extra Space – One space after ending punctuation. Or, I noted an extra space in your manuscript.

E – Ellipses – Shows hesitation, a pause, or omitted words. Don’t overuse. Spaces

before and after mid-sentence ellipses. Regular punctuation for ellipses at the end of a sentence.

Ex – Exclamation Points – Use when a character shouts, or the mental equivalent! Use SPARINGLY! If not, the exclamation point loses its effect!

F – Farther vs. Further – “Farther” describes distance, literally. Ex: “I can’t walk any farther.” Use “Further” in a figurative sense. Ex: “I don’t want to research the subject any further.”

Fbp – Floating Body Part – One shouldn’t “take a hand,” or state, “her eyes flew to him.” You can lead someone, and a character’s gaze can fly to another’s. Those parts need to stay attached.

H – Hyphenate – (1) Hyphenate when modifying a noun. Ex: “Jane has a five-year-old child.” (or) “Jane has a five-year-old.” (child is implied) Incorrect: “Jane’s child is five-years-old.” (2) No hyphen after a “ly” word. Correct: “Jane ran to a brightly lit room.”

I – Intensifier – Emphasizes the word it modifies. Ex: “Monday turned really cold.” Use a stronger word instead of a weak one, plus an intensifier. Better: “Monday turned frigid.” Other Examples: very, totally, quite, extremely, severely, etc. (There are exceptions.)

Ia – It and As – Avoid starting sentences with the words “it” or “as.” Be specific on the “it,” or delete the “as,” and add the word “and” after the comma. Ex: A: “As he turned the car around, his heart sank.” Ex: Better: “He turned the car around, and his heart sank.” (There are exceptions.)

Iu – Intended Use – Use words for their intended purpose. Ex: “She has pretty hair.” Incorrect: “She arrived pretty late.” (or) Ex: “She has a little dog.” Incorrect: “Her dog ate little.” (I wonder if ‘little’ tasted good? Sorry; couldn’t help it.)

Iw – It was/wasn’t – If the sentence makes sense without, delete.

Lo – Locution – Delete phrases like “she wondered,” and rephrase into a question. Ex: “She wondered why her sister always cut her hair.” Better: “Why did her sister always cut her hair?”

Lp- Long Paragraph – Break it up. Readers like to see some white space on a page.

Ls – Long Sentence – Break it up. If you have to pause to take a breath, the sentence is too long.

Ly – Use of “LY” Adverbs – These sneak emotions into attributes, or weaken a sentence. Ex: “You’re not nice,” Jane said angrily. Better: “You’re despicable.” (There are exceptions.)

M – Media – Italics – Movies, TV shows, books, book-length poems, magazines, plays, radio shows, works of art, instrumentals, operas. Also ships/boats.

Quotation Marks – TV episode titles, songs, stories, articles, poems, and photographs.

Mm – Misplaced Modifier – Placement of a word, phrase, or clause that modifies an unintended word, causing ambiguity. Ex: “Slim and beautiful, the crowd applauded for the new Miss America,” which reads, “The crowd is slim and beautiful.” Correct: “The new Miss America was slim and beautiful, and the crowd applauded for her.”

Mr – Motivation/Reaction Problem – Putting the character’s reaction before what motivates him/her to react. Check sentences with “as” in the middle. Switch the sentence around, ditch the “as,” and add “and,” or make two sentences placing the motivator first. Ex: “Jane shivered with fright as footsteps sounded on the stairs.” Correct: “Footsteps sounded on the stairs and Jane shivered with fright.” (or) “Footsteps sounded on the stairs. Jane shivered with fright.”

Np – New Paragraph – Start one when you introduce a new speaker, new subject, or, use a one-sentence paragraph to make the statement more dramatic.

Nu – Negation Use – Phrasing your sentence in the negative. Ex: “The park isn’t more crowded on a Sunday than a holiday.” Delete “no, not, never, etc.,” to change the sentence in the positive. Correct: “The park is as crowded on a Sunday as a holiday.”

Nx – Next Page – See next page.

Op – Omniscient POV – Also called Author Intrusion. The author or a narrator is talking to the reader. Considered the least preferred point of view by many. Ex: “She prayed for her friends. If she could’ve predicted the future, she’d have prayed for herself.”

P – Passive vs. Active Sentence Structure – Write in an Active Voice. Active structure: (1) is “A” does to “B.” Passive structure is “B” is done by “A,” or, the subject of the sentence is acted upon. Ex: Passive: “The soup was stirred by Jane.” Active: “Jane stirred the soup.” (2) “Was” before words ending in “ed,” and “ing.” -see “Pr.”) Passive: “Jane was confused when she read the soup recipe.” Active: “The soup recipe confused Jane.” (3) Replace expressions with a transitive in the active voice. “Was that”: Passive: “The reason Jane wanted to make soup was that her skills were rusty.” Active: “Waning skills drove Jane to make soup.” (4) “There were/is”: Passive: “There were many vegetables included in the pot of soup.” Active: “Vegetables abounded in the pot of soup.” (5) “Could be”: Passive: “In ten minutes, the soup Jane made could be eaten.” Active: “They could eat Jane’s soup in ten minutes.” (6) “Had been”: Passive: “Jane had been sure her soup would taste good.” Active: “Jane thought her soup would taste good.”

Pl – Pleonasm – A form of redundancy. A phrase or word that repeats itself. Exs: Incorrect: twelve noon, one a.m. in the morning, round in shape, I saw it with my own eyes, etc. Correct: noon, one a.m., round, I saw it, etc.

Pov – Point of View Problem – (1) If you switch to another character’s POV, show the break with an extra space or start a new chapter. (2) Your character can’t see certain things in their POV. Ex: “She turned her back on him and he frowned.” (She can’t see a frown if she turns her back.) (3) Your characters can’t see themselves. Ex: “Her face turned bright red.” Correct: “Heat rose to her cheeks.” (4) Avoid: he saw, she heard, he knew, etc., when in that character’s POV. We know who’s seeing, hearing, knowing, etc. Incorrect: “She saw him moving across the room.” Correct: “He moved across the room.”

Pp – Purple/Poetic Prose – A stylistic device. Flowery, poetic speech. Lengthy descriptions and/or too many metaphors. Stay away from these. Denotes a newbie writer!

Pq – Punctuation for Quotes – For single and double quotes used for emphasis, both the period and the comma go inside the quotation marks, all other punctuation goes outside.

Pr – Progressive Past – Simple past is better. Look for “was” and “were” before words ending in “ing.” Ex: Progressive Past: “Jane was stirring the soup.” Simple Past:  “Jane stirred the soup.” Sentences require progressive past if something interrupts an action. Ex: “Jane was stirring the soup when the doorbell rang.”

Q – Qualifier – An unnecessary word that blurs your meaning and weakens your sentence. Something either is, or it isn’t. Ex: “It was a bit cold outside.” Better: “It was cold outside.” Other examples: rather, a little, a lot, seemed, only, slightly, just, almost, nearly, sort of, kind of, etc. Exceptions: a character’s speech pattern or speculation on what another character is thinking.

R –Repetition – Repeating the same words too often. (IMO: More than twice per page, or twice in a paragraph.) (There are exceptions.)

Rd – Redundancy – Telling us something you’ve already told us, even in a different way or with different words.

Rp – Reflexive Pronoun – Only use pronouns ending in “self,” when the pronoun refers to the subject. Ex: “I hit myself.” Don’t use “own” in conjunction with a pronoun when referring back to the subject. Incorrect: “My own sister died.” Correct: “My sister died.”

Sa – Simultaneous Action – Having a character do something that’s physically impossible; doing two things at the same time. Common when a sentence starts with a word ending in “ing.” Incorrect: “Pulling out of the driveway, he drove down the street.” Correct: “He pulled out of the driveway, then drove down the street.”

Sc – Semicolon Use – A semicolon joins a compound sentence. Ex: “Jane tasted the soup; it was delicious.”

Sd – Said – (1) One can’t: bark, growl, snap, chuckle, howl, grimace, roar, smile, pout, or snarl a word. These are sounds or facial expressions. (2) Don’t reverse: “said she.” This style is valid, but is reminiscent of children’s books. Ex: “See Spot run,” said Jane.

Si – Split Infinitive – An infinitive is the form of the verb that comes after “to.” A split infinitive is when another word comes between “to” and the verb. Ex: “Jane seems to always to stir the soup that way.” Better: “Jane always seems to stir the soup that way.” (Not a must rule.)

Sm – Simplify – (1) Use simple, normal, phrases/words. Ex: “Jane ameliorated

her obsolete attire, augmenting it with additional purchases.” Better: “Buying new clothes improved Jane’s old wardrobe.”

T – That – Often a throwaway word. If the sentence makes sense without it, delete.

Tl – Telling – (1) after, as, when, during, until, before, with, and while at the beginning of a sentence is often telling. (2) Watch forms of “to be” and “felt.” Incorrect: “He felt angry.” Better: “He clenched his fists so hard, his knuckles turned white.”

Tmi – Too Much Information – (1) Don’t write long paragraphs with lengthy descriptions of scenes or rooms, etc. Break them up. (2) Don’t go into detail about what your characters’ actual positions are. This makes it harder to picture the scene. Ex: “He held the man’s right arm with his left hand, and then kicked with his right foot to the man’s left side.” Better: “He held the man’s arm, then kicked him in the side.”

Tw – That vs. Which – Use “that” to introduce a restrictive (defining) relative clause. Identifies what/who is referred to. Ex: “I want to buy a book that has large print.” That has large print is the restrictive clause explaining what kind of book I want to buy. “Which” is used with non-restrictive (non-defining) clauses. Ex: “The students complained about the textbook, which was hard to understand.” The clause which was hard to understand is non-restrictive because it doesn’t point out which book the students complained about. (There are exceptions.)

Uw – Unnecessary Words and Phrases – Omit extra words and phrases. Write each sentence with as few words as possible. Phrase Offenders: the fact that, all of a sudden, at the very least, in spite of, if nothing else, etc. Ex: “By the way, I just wondered if you think that this dress looks good on me.” Better: “Does this dress look good on me?” Word Offenders: that, perhaps, however, although, over, under, up, down, back, even, quite, rather, suddenly, etc. Ex: “Suddenly, I thought that perhaps she should go over there and sit down up on top of the fence.” Better: “She should sit on the fence.”

W – Walked/Ran – Boring! Options: advanced, ambled, boogied, darted, dashed, drifted, glided, hastened, hiked, hustled, jogged, loped, lurched, marched, meandered, minced, moseyed, moved, paced, paraded, patrolled, plodded, pranced, raced, rambled, roamed, roved, rushed, sashayed, sauntered, scampered, schlepped, scurried, scuttled, shuffled, sidled, slogged, slinked, sprinted, staggered, stepped, strode, strolled, strutted, swaggered, tip-toed, toddled, traipsed, tramped, traveled, tread, trooped, trudged, waddled, wandered.

Color Options: If a date follows the color, the word wasn’t in use before that date. Words without dates weren’t checked.

Black: onyx, anthracite, inky, black pearl, blue-black, coal, jet, ebony, obsidian, raven, soot/sooty, midnight, shadow, pitch, sable, tar, licorice

Blue: azure (1300), periwinkle, wedgewood, delft, neon, electric, cornflower, turquoise (1350), royal, powder, cobalt (1683), teal, navy, sky, robin’s egg, baby, peacock, lapis, indigo (1555), steel, sapphire (1200), federal, aquamarine, aqua, ultra marine, midnight, blue-green, blue-gray, denim, cadet, cerulean, ocean

Brown/Beige: earth, nutmeg (1400), cinnamon (1300), chocolate (1604), cocoa (1788), tan, chestnut (1300), bay, tawny, roan, mahogany (1660), pecan, rosewood, maple, taupe, coffee, toffee, cafe au lait, mocha, tortoise shell, ginger, walnut (1100), brunette, espresso, ecru, mushroom, fawn, buckskin, nut brown, umber, saddle, raisin, khaki, drab, bronze, copper, tanned, foxy, sandy almond (1300), oatmeal, tumbleweed, sienna, sepia

Gray/Grey: smoky, pearl, charcoal, ash, silvery, dove, gunmetal, steel, sooty, hoary (no wisecracks!), chrome

Green: jade (1585), emerald, malachite, kelly, leaf, moss (1880), celadon (grayish yellow-green-1768), seafoam, hunter, lime (1650), forest (1800), olive, pistachio, grass, pea, mist, chartreuse, verdant, celery, mint, apple, hazel, green-blue, shamrock, avocado, spring, asparagus, pine, seaweed

Orange: apricot, rust(y), peach, tangerine, persimmon, orange-red, shrimp, salmon, terra cotta, auburn, burnt orange, mandarin, copper, nectarine

Pink: petal, neon, blush, carnation, rubescent (blushing-1725), hot, electric

Purple: amethyst, violet, lavender, heliotrope (reddish-lavender), mauve, plum, wood violet (pale purple), lilac, orchid, fuchsia, tyrian (1586), grape, wisteria, royal

Red: ruby, poppy, scarlet, garnet, red-amber, rose, dusky rose, crimson, cinnabar (bright red), wine, claret, cerise (deep red), russet, burgundy, henna, ox-blood, carmine (strong or vivid red), apple, cherry, tomato, red-orange, brick, cardinal, rubicund (ruddy), vermillion, cochineal (vivid), maroon, strawberry, raspberry, blood, candy apple, beet, currant, titian (reddish-brown), lobster, fire engine, coral (reddish-yellow), flame, cranberry

White/Off-White: argent (silvery white), milky, quartz, white jade, moonstone, ivory, cream, snow, pearl, alabaster, opal, magnolia, vanilla, chalky, oyster, marble, bone, cadmium (1822- whitish-blue metallic), eggshell, parchment, lily, porcelain, bleached linen, buff

Yellow: fool’s gold, gold(en), goldenrod, blond, ash blond, platinum, burnished, brassy, amber, palomino, honey, primrose (pale), daffodil (1548), jonquil (1664), butter, buttercup (1777), lemon (1400), dun, tawny, flaxen, sandy, straw, hay, citron (pale), canary (1584), topaz, ochre, sulfur (greenish tint), mustard, butterscotch, yellow-green, dandelion

 Posted by at 5:46 am
Jun 072016


After the long Great War leaves behind a shattered Europe without an entire generation of men, Great Britain permits women to serve their country as soldiers, sailors, and especially pilots.
It’s the spring of 1940 and Briley Bannatyne envies her older brother Mackinley. He’s about to embark on a grand adventure, training to become a pilot officer in Britain’s Royal Air Militia. When tragedy strikes, a badly hurt Mackinley convinces Briley to take his place in the Air Militia. Service is harsh – nothing like the radio shows where brave Air Militia pilots hunt pirates over the skies of Britain. Kendrick is one of these marauders, captured after Briley shoots him out of the sky. Brash, charismatic and mysterious, Kendrick becomes her unexpected friend and ally.
On a continent already battered by war, a terrifying new enemy emerges that conquers much of Europe before turning its sights on Britain. All that stands between the unstoppable Black Legion and invasion is Briley and a handful of brave pilots. Can Briley and her friends turn back the Legion, and will Briley’s friendship with the pirate become the key to saving Britain…


Review: 5/5 stars

Although Tony Russo published previously, this is the first book of his I’ve read. What drew me to the story was a young girl becoming a fighter pilot in an alternative, historical world. Heck ya! A girl being in a predominate male environment always grabs my attention. Briley is spunky, hard working, and feminine. She’s everything I wanted to be at that age. I think that’s why I gravitated towards Mr. Russo’s narrative.

We see headstrong Briley lie her way into the military and put herself out there for failure at every opportunity. She’s definitely not a Mary Jane. Not everyone likes her right off the bat. She’s a farm girl, she’s small, she’s born out of poverty, there’s probably dung and grass still matted in her hair! Briley is forced to prove she’s good enough – that’s something we do every day of their lives. Briley even has to prove to HERSELF she’s good enough. As a reader, I felt as though I was along for the journey. There was just enough military jargon and plane dynamics to make her world feel real. When she’s flying around in the plane, Mr. Russo’s description of what she did made sense. I saw her pull the throttle, trying to keep ahead of the crazy flight instructor. I saw the massive city where pilots fly over to salute the residents. I even loved that hint of romance. It was done well without being overwhelming.

To me, believably is my biggest pet peeves. Mr. Russo does that well.

I am a fan – please finish writing book 2 because I want to see what happens – especially between her and that handsome pirate!



Barnes and Noble



 Posted by at 5:51 am
Jun 072016

FullSizeRender3“Got an agent rejection today. 7 months”


I apologize profusely for taking 7+ months to respond to queries. To be honest, I wasn’t ready to be bombarded by so much interest. It was humbling and exciting. Since joining the Booker Albert Agency I have taken on 2 clients and am in contract talks with a 3rd.

In between this, I finished editing a manuscript from Divertir Publishing – book 2 in a 3 book series. I could have dropped the author, but the relationship between an editor and author is symbiotic – as is agent/author. We built up a fabulous rapport and I told him I would stay with him through the end of the series. I’m pretty sure he’s hating me right now after those edits though.

Unfortunately, it put me way behind in my slush pile. In the last few days I’ve caught up and now I’m reading everything I requested through those seven months. I hope you guys continue to have patience because I truly appreciate it.

– Jen


Just a heads up – if you feel the desire to hit “reply” and send a snarky response to an agent – try to refrain. It’s in poor taste and makes you look foolish. I UNDERSTAND the frustration of waiting and waiting but just don’t.


 Posted by at 5:10 am
Aug 232015

Cute-Girl-in-BookstoreLet me ask you a question. How often do you go into a book store? Whether it’s on or offline, book stores carry everything you could possible be looking. Comedy, romance, historical, YA, paranormal, etc, it’s right at your fingertips. Now, out of the thousands of books, how many books do you end up buying? How many books did you read the back of and brush past, not impressed?

Being an agent is similar. I have my tastes as do you. You might have a great premise you and your friends/family love, but it won’t sound appealing to me. That is the reality of publishing. When rejection letters say it is all based on individual tastes, we’re not lying. Trust me. If I don’t fall in love with your voice and characters, I cannot pour all my energies into building your career.

Sometimes your voice never gets past the first few pages due to editing. A manuscript that is too rough usually ends up in the rejection pile. Take the time to build your world through detail, both environmental and physical. Don’t head hop. Stay in a single POV until a break comes up. Don’t query before your manuscript is ready. I know you’re excited when you type “the End”, but editing to smooth out the bumps is so important.

Slow down and make sure you’re giving me your best submission. I know we’re both looking for one another.


 Posted by at 3:56 am
Aug 202015

victoriamsabersI just found out I was on QueryTracker which explains all the new submissions I’ve been receiving. Thank you for taking a chance on me. I truly appreciate it.

Let me start off by introducing myself. 

Five years ago I started out as a reviewer for Divertir Publishing. It was a pretty nice gig. After that, when the position opened up, I accepted the Senior Editor job and then, Acquisitions Editor. Yes,  that means I had full control over the slush pile. Reading queries from hopeful authors showed me the innate desire to create and be noticed. After the soul crushing journey of rejection from agents and bigger publishers, many people stumbled upon Divertir. They are small, family oriented, and very hands-on.  We could pick up manuscripts that weren’t “mainstream” and publish them because we loved the author’s voice or concept. In 2015 we published

Invisible Society Fables: Short Stories on Homelessness, by Phil Canalin.

Season of Mists, by me

Improbable Cause: The War on Terror’s Assault on the Bill of Rights, by Sharia Mayfield and Brandon Mayfield

Plus a few more in queue for typesetting. They are active, passionate and busy. Not to mention they’re always looking for reviewers! What I loved about working for a small publisher was the ability to jump start an author’s dream of publication. Agents oftentimes are willing to give an author a second glance if they’re previously published elsewhere. It shows they have determination and a willingness for growth. However, Divertir Publishing was a step in an author’s journey. We oftentimes lost authors because we encourage them to keep striving. A few now have agents and or bigger publishers.


That journey ended when I accepted a position with the Booker Albert Agency. Now a new one begins. Instead of being a step, I can stay with an author as they grow. It’s an exciting concept!



 Posted by at 4:28 am
Jun 072015

When I was writing Season of Mists, I scoured the internet for dress images of the era. As a visual writer, I find it difficult to describe a dress with the loving detail needed when you don’t see something physical manifested in front of you. Now finding “the right” dresses took forever. I wanted something around 1888, which made the search difficult since most of the dresses were dated either early 1880s to early 1900s. I took a leap of faith and started with a template and added to it in my mind.

In Season of Mists, Justine Holloway is a seventeen year old girl away at a french finishing school when she learns her parents both died in a fire. Suddenly, a girl from a middle class family, learning enough to snare a decent match, is now thrown into the world of wealth and mystery. Although in mourning, she attends her first ball. The fabric would be a deep silver with black ribbons, pearls and rossettes:


House of Worth | c. 1882 This dress is in the Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity exhibition currently at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is stunning in person. The train has wide pleats of satin and tulle that fan out perfectly.

“It’s here, Justine,” Frances squealed. In her hand was a large cream box and behind her, Molly trailed, her expression less thrilled. Her godmother placed the package on the bed and motioned for Molly to open it.

“It just arrived. Let’s have a look.”

Molly removed the lid and Frances swooped in. She took the dress by the shoulder hem.

Out came a dark, steel gray gown with hand embroidered clear beading around a low neck line. The effect, as the couturier suggested, was stunning. Strands were draped across the bodice above a black lace and disappeared into a small cluster of silk rosettes with small pearls positioned above shoulder. Down the skirt’s front panel, the same beading blossomed in an array of glittering flowers and vines. The material was flat and smooth, meant to show off the painstaking detail. In the back, the dress’ train was draped in layers and accentuated with a garland of black silk flowers. Seeing the stages could never have prepared Justine for the sense of awe that struck her practically speechless.

“I have to say, that fashion house has a loyal patron in this household. Justine, this color will suit you so well.”

“Seeing it like this was almost worth being treated like a pin cushion.”

Frances laughed. “I have a feeling it was more than worth the pain. It would be far more striking in a blue or even cream.”

“What do you think, English?” Justine asked. Frances was right, it was worth the pain.

“It’s lovely, Miss.”

“You sound as a fish on market day. What troubles you?” Justine asked.

“Nothin’, Miss Justine.”

“English, have Mrs. Cripps send up tea. Be quick girl because you’ll need to do Miss Justine’s hair next for practice.”

The cut was perfect and made Justine feel quite grownup. Despite everyone’s insistence that she did not have to wear somber colors, she was pleased to see how well the black rosettes complemented the color.


That ball does not end well for our blushing heroine. Normally as young woman wouldn’t be out in society without being introduced into society, however, that was done in the Spring. In the meantime, debutantes had to wait patiently for her turn to be presented before the Queen before proposals could begin. Her next gown is for the opera where they see Aida with the mysterious Egyptian Ambassador. I was drawn to the back of this dress with all the decor down the sides. I added big puffed sleeves and more pearls. In my mind, I created what I would want to wear:


Beautiful dresses on this fashion plate, 1882

Beautiful dresses on this fashion plate, 1882

That night, Justine examined her reflection in the mirror of her boudoir, turning to look over her shoulder to see the lovely long train of her gown. The color was dark, since she still considered herself in half-mourning, a period in between black and vibrant color. Her gown was a deep blue silk embroidered with small silver beads that swirled from the bottom hem up to her bodice where a sash of the same hue encircled her waist, made petite by the tightly laced corset.  On the bodice of the dress, silver beads adorned the modest neckline and elegant short puffed sleeves. Dangling down her shoulders was black lace and more shimmery beads. In the back, yards of material was tucked and folded into an accordion train decorated with fabric rosettes and ribbon.  The fabric was heavy but stunning.

            “I look…” Justine’s voice faltered and Molly knew just what her mistress felt. She herself could not think of a good enough description. Somehow seeing the couturier hold up the fabric against her skin and trying to imagine how the drawn design would look on her didn’t quite make the same sort of profound effect.

            Then Justine smiled. “How many tucks does the bustle have?”

            “I told you the seamstress knew what she was doin’,” Molly said proudly. She picked up the train and straightened it out for her mistress. “Never seen anythin’ with so many buttons.”

            “It is far more elegant than anything I’ve ever worn. The dressmaker did a fabulous job.” Justine ran her hands down the bodice. “It’s a shame my mother cannot see me in it.”



The research for season of Mists was stretched to fit the story line but was so fun to write. Searching for dresses and fabrics was quite the task. I hope you enjoy seeing my inspiration as much as I did creating them in my mind.


som_cover1_raw-ish2Season of Mists is on sale at Amazon here and for my lovely UK visitors, you can buy it here.


Want to download a sample of Season of Mists? Click here to head over to Divertir Publishing and enjoy!



The year is 1888. Justine Holloway finds herself an orphan after her parents die in a horrific fire. She is sent to live with her godparents, Harold Mendenhall and his sister Frances. On the boat ride home, she meets Amun Farouk, a handsome Egyptian Ambassador who is also sailing to England to meet her godfather. What Justine does not realize as she dons the veil of mourning is that Harold runs a secret organization under the nose of polite society, much to the dismay of his genteel sister. The Council was created for the protection of humanity from the Varius, refugees from a parallel universe who shift their form while others channel the forces of magic. They seek refuge in Victorian London, hidden in the slums, easily forgotten until a human ends up incinerated or sucked dry. Drawn into the plot against her will, Justine finds herself the object of a vampire’s lurid obsession. According to ancient texts, vampires kill humans for fodder, their blood and the air they breathe inferior, but this killer has other intentions for her. Does Justine’s survival depend on Amun or will he kill her to save humanity?


jencJen Corkill has an unholy fascination with Victorian literature, although contrary to popular belief, she doesn’t wear a corset. She does drink way too much coffee when she writes and enjoys watching the BBC. Another rerun of a Jane Austen remake? Game on! While you don’t need a reason to put the kettle on, nothing like tea and scones for dabbling in the Regency or Victorian eras.

Apart from her historically nerdy side, Jennifer also LOVES Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, and looking up into the night sky with her eldest daughter, wondering if there’s life on other planets.

Life is as it should be raising her kids in rural Nevada with her amazing, head banging husband.


 Posted by at 5:00 am
May 222015

imgp2379We were living in our first house when my Mormon neighbor introduced me to Pinterest. I know my eyebrows attempted to invade my hairline when she spoke of “pinning” things to one’s “board”. She mentioned it was similar to pinning things to a clipboard at your house. My mind pulled up a really congested clipboard – something that would likely be seen within the chaos that was my life. At the time, I passed it off as some weird Mormon thing and continued on with my life.

A few days went by and for some reason, I saw others speaking of this Pinterest thingy. Isn’t it amazing how something recur with eery significance? That sentence would seem far more ominous if I wasn’t speaking of a website. However, I am not one to scoff coincidence so, like a fish going downstream, I logged in and felt around this strange site.

At first the notion of a blank canvas felt overwhelming. If one has the ability to search for something, what do you start with? Adding a few friends helped to see what they were interested in but needless to say, I didn’t see the addictive quality. That changed when I moved into a rural area and away from the modern conveniences of Walmart and fast food.

You mean I actually had to cook? All my favorite easy snacks were 30 minutes away!

So, I started the search for easy recipes even my picky husband would like and naturally found my way back to Pinterest. I found a few simple ones, ones that looked good enough to make my stomach rumble and somewhere in between I inhaled the addictive aroma. Without realizing it I pinned Star Wars pictures, Downtown Abbey fashions, recipes, fun crafts for kids, and Jane Austen paper dolls. Unfortunately, the place I went to organize the chaos of my life looked like a mirror of it instead. Everything crammed into one labeled category akin to a monthly to-do list. Letting out a breath, I organized and sorted my passions, ideas, and interests into categories – all done without buying over priced coffee.

Like the boys who used to play Magic the Gathering on the bus ride home during middle and high school, how about we get together and play pinterest!




(Windowing out to grab the link, I ended up pinning some sewing ideas for my kids. Man, I LOVE that site!) WHEN I am ready to tackle the maelstrom that is my sewing room, my kids might just get some cute DIY (Do it yourself) dresses.


 Posted by at 4:27 am
May 162015

Season Of Mists is available on Amazon. But why not try a free sample first? Head over to Divertir Publishing to download your copy!

som_cover1_raw-ish2The year is 1888. Justine Holloway finds herself an orphan after her parents die in a horrific fire. She is sent to live with her godparents, Harold Mendenhall and his sister Frances. On the boat ride home, she meets Amun Farouk, a handsome Egyptian Ambassador who is also sailing to England to meet her godfather. What Justine does not realize as she dons the veil of mourning is that Harold runs a secret organization under the nose of polite society, much to the dismay of his genteel sister. The Council was created for the protection of humanity from the Varius, refugees from a parallel universe who shift their form while others channel the forces of magic. They seek refuge in Victorian London, hidden in the slums, easily forgotten until a human ends up incinerated or sucked dry.

Drawn into the plot against her will, Justine finds herself the object of a vampire’s lurid obsession. According to ancient texts, vampires kill humans for fodder, their blood and the air they breathe inferior, but this killer has other intentions for her. Does Justine’s survival depend on Amun or will he kill her to save humanity?

 Posted by at 10:53 pm
Jan 102015


My first book will be published soon through Divertir Publishing. I just finished the last edits of the galley prints and now I am looking forward to the last leg of the journey.  The stages of this book has spanned several years. I started the endeavor after my mother died in 2008. Throughout my life, I sent her snippets of my work, bits of narrative I never truly committed to. Then, once I lost her, the drive to complete something became overpowering.  I cannot even tell you how many revisions this has gone through – how many friends I begged to read and edit, and how many times I played video games just to avoiding working on it.


In the end, the realization of having a publication ready book sitting on my hard drive is a great feeling. I will have more information regarding a release date so keep checking back.




Justine Holloway prepares for her debut into society, compliments of her godparents, while the underworld of London groans with unfettered abhorrence. The Varius are refugees from a parallel universe who shift their form while others channel the forces of magic, an element that once flowed freely between both worlds. They seek refuge in Victorian London, hidden in the slums, easily forgotten until a human ends up incinerated or sucked dry. It is the job of the Council, created for the protection of humanity, to step in and eliminate the threat.

What Justine does not realize is her godfather runs the Council right under the nose of polite society, much to the dismay of his genteel sister. Justine suspects something mysterious is brewing when the handsome Egyptian Ambassador heals before her eyes. It’s an image she can forget and a mystery she wants to solve.

When a deadly vampire makes his devious intentions known, her survival might depend on this strange Egyptian. Unfortunately, he can’t figure out why he’s so drawn to her, or whether he must kill her to save humanity.



A lanky man wearing the livery of a deckhand strode to the side of the captain’s cabin and peered into one of the portholes. He licked his lips and dug inside his pockets.  At first, Justine contemplated going to her cabin but his gaze did not alter as he stood, eyes fixated on the room she’d just left.

“Excuse me…can I help you?” Justine ventured. “Is there someone inside you wish to speak to? The captain perhaps?”

The man did not respond. He acted as if she was invisible. Whatever drew him to the cabin smothered any sense of life or breath. Without looking down to see what he brought out of his pocket, Justine noticed a metal necklace, a medallion of sorts, clutched in his grasp. He brought the trinket to his face near the porthole glass, hot breath fogging the glass. His long fingers rubbed the shiny metal, twisting it this way and that as if ready to smash it through the window.

“The Master said this’d find him…” His words came out in an elated whisper. The young man’s attention darted from the necklace to the window and back. He licked his lips again and finally blinked in rapid succession. Then, he smiled. The expression of delight brought a childlike innocence to his intense errand but it did not last. As before, he twitched, his hands trembling. “Why is it not working?”

Justine stepped back, fearing he’d throw the necklace to the floor in a rage. Snarling, saliva seething from his mouth, he beat the medallion. Was the man mad?

“Excuse me?” Justine repeated. “Are you alright?”

Whatever haze clouding the deckhands mind cleared. He jumped and stared at her, no doubt startled at her appearance. There was nothing between her and his pale eyes, so empty and devoid of color. It was as if she looked through a window into an empty room where nothing lived. Something vile animated his corpse, legs and arms moving towards her like a marionette. The railing was the only thing separating her from the frozen water below. Cold metal burned through her gloves. Justine shivered wishing she’d had run away when she had the chance. His breath brushed against her exposed skin, a putrid smell that made Justine feel compromised, unclean.

“Stop…you’re frightening me,” Justine whined. Nothing wanted to move. Her legs turned to stone beneath her. All she could do was stand there, desperately wanting to get away, to put as much distance between herself and the vile creature as she could. He was close enough to reach out and wrap his hands around her throat.

Oh God, please, let this not be Jack the Ripper. Justine had read the headlines of the murder stalking London.

The deckhand never touched her, yet she still felt his body. “Tell him to fear me for I know his secret.”

“Wh…what? What secret?”

Raised voices echoed from the cabin. Shoving whatever necklace he held back into his jacket, the deckhand ran down the length of the deck and disappeared.

Justine wasn’t quite sure what just happened. Had the man been speaking about someone in the cabin? Mr. Tinnen or the captain? Of course the easiest answer could easily have been the man was mad, but that did little to ease the panic. Her hands trembled and not from the cold. Justine grabbed the ends of her shawl and wrapped them tight around her. Every time she blinked, she saw his eyes burning into hers. She fled to her cabin and locked the door behind her.

 Posted by at 6:14 am