Category Archives: non-fiction

End of Year Check Up…

Hi there, Sugar here. 2012 is almost over and I hope it was a good year for you. I hope you accomplished the things you wanted to. Writing-wise I accomplished a lot. Writing-wise it was a pretty awesome year for me. But it was a long year full of ups and downs and roller coaster emotions. Most of you know that I managed to snag a three book deal  with  St. Martin’s Press. In hindsight it seemed like everything happened so fast but when I was living it everything seemed to go excruciatingly slow. Here’s what my past year looked like.

December 2011

Started querying. Mostly rejections. One request for a full.

January 2012

Rejections, rejections, rejections. One more request for a full. One request for a partial.

February 2012

Rejections on partial. Rejections of queries. Some cursing. One request for a full. Two partial requests.

March 2012

Querying fatigue setting in. More rejections on queries and on partial. One request for a full. Two rejections for partials. Waiting for word back on the then four full manuscripts I had out.

April 2012

Rethinking this whole being a writer thing. I was tired of waiting. I was tired of rejections. The doubt monster had me in a nasty choke hold. One more request for a full. One offer of representation. Another offer of representation. SQUEEEEEE!

May 2012

Agent ,who I ADORE, asked me to cut down my manuscript from 100,000 words to 90,000 to make it more sell-able. (Grumble, grumble.) I went out on submission to the ‘BIG  6′ and romance giant Harlequin. Got my first rejection ON MY BIRTHDAY! Got two more rejections. Starting rethinking this whole being a writer thing again.

June 2012

I got a surprise offer from a smaller but still kick-ass publisher. Screamed like an idiot when I got off the phone with my agent. Two days later I got two offers from two of the ‘Big 6′ and was informed that I would be going to auction the next day. Was in shock. Was shaking. Was also at work when I found out. Kids in my class thought I was having a stroke. St. Martin’s Press (Macmillan) offered me a three book deal. I actually met my editor at CTRWA’s Fiction Fest long before I even thought about writing my book. It must have been fate because I don’t remember a single other editor that was there that year beside her.

July 2012

Contract negotiations. PM announcement.

August 2012

Contract negotiations

September 2012

Edits arrive. Rethinking this whole being a writer thing again. Contract negotiations finally finished!

October 2012 

Book 2 was due. Edits for book 1 due. Super hard. Super proud when I finished both of those things.

November 2012

MUST WRITE BOOK 3. Advance check came! Advance check went! But no more student loans!!!!!!!!! (Do you have any idea how expensive college is?)

December 2012

GOT A RELEASE DATE!!!!!!! Dangerous Curves Ahead will hit shelves on August 27, 2013.

Got my author photos taken. Probably a bad idea right after Thanksgiving, but they came out pretty good.

Tackled this whole social media thing. Amazon author page. Check.

Website updated again. Now it looks kinda professional. http://www.sugarjamison.com/

Got my Facebook page done. Please like me!

Got my cover art! Check back here soon for reveal.

Oh an I won my very first award!

Phew… That was a very long year. What did yours look like?

Me with the very prestigious MARGARITA!
Me with the very prestigious MARGARITA!

Fireworks, Friends, and Fun

Hello all,

I’m so excited about bringing Market or Die back among the living and among friends as well. I’d like to give a huge thanks to the Scribes for inviting me to join them on a permanent basis. I’ll be here every other Wednesday spouting everything from marketing tips, gabbing with guest authors and occasionally throwing in a picture of the very sexy Alexander Skarsgard, just for fun.

Since my last blog about all things marketing for writers, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of being honored by the Women and Families Center in Meriden, CT for “Leadership for Women in the Arts,” and to speak at the NECRWA, the Fiction Fest conference, and in a few weeks I’m bringing my marketing woo-ha on the road to RWA’s national conference in Anaheim. I hope I get to see some of you there.

So, for this post, I thought I’d leave it open ended and ask you guys to ask me anything you like, so we can get to know each other better. For those who don’t know me, I am the Creative and Brand Manager for the General Electric Company, and the author of the series, MARKET OR DIE, marketing books for writers. Currently, I am a member of the (ANA) Association of National Advertisers and believe brand building is a key to professional success.

In my writing life, I’m a member of RWA’s PRO network and serve as the President of the Connecticut Romance Writers. A writer of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, I’m currently represented by literary agent, Eric Ruben. And, last but not least, I contribute bi-monthly to the Romance Writers of America’s RWR Report. Feel free to check out my website at www.marketordie.net and I certainly look forward to getting to know all of you very soon.

Have a happy 4th of July!!

Welcome, Author Joy Smith

Hello, my lovelies! Suze here. Today I’m thrilled to bring you something different for the Scribes–an interview with nonfiction author Joy Smith. Welcome, Joy!

Thanks for having me here today, Suze. Please let your readers know I am open to any questions, especially about my newest book.

Oh No, They’re Engaged! is not just another wedding planner. It’s written especially for the mother of the bride or groom. Tell us about it.

Suze, like my other non-fiction books, Oh No, They’re Engaged! was born from a combination of practical experience and research. As the subtitle says, it’s really a sanity guide. While I loved the fluff of helping our children, a son and two daughters, plan their weddings, those years were trying–with a ton of emotional and logistical traumas (and pleasures) I could’ve never predicted. My book helps moms guide their “babies” toward making smart decisions about expenses, vendors, rituals–and issues related to their intended mates. For more information, your readers might want to check it out on Amazon or Barnes & noble websites. (Here’s a link)

You are known for your non-fiction books (The Empty Nest Cookbook, Kitchen Afloat, The Perfect First Mate). Are you also trying your talented hand at fiction writing? What are you working on?

“Trying” to write fiction is a good word for it, but frustrating is better. Fiction writing didn’t turn out to be the piece of cake I first thought it. POV, show don’t tell…you get the drift. I’ve completed a couple of manuscripts, but I feel only the latest–a romantic suspense about a gigolo and an ex-nun set in Colombia, SA—has all the right stuff to make it sell. At CTRWA’s Fiction Fest last month, I received four submission requests, so I’m crossing my fingers. At the moment I am plotting my next novel and procrastinating fixing two needy (but completed) MSs so the many, many hours I labored over them won’t have gone to waste.

How do you battle the doubt monster? Doubt Monster: the nagging feeling that your work is terrible and no one in her right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it.

The doubt monster sits on my shoulder all the time, but I do my best to ignore him (it’s got to be a man). If I believe in my book, in my story, I keep at it until it is right–this could mean picking at an MS for several years. I learned from my non-fiction days to not ever submit a first draft until I’ve edited it to death. An important part of the process is gaining objectivity by allowing the piece to rest unread and untouched for as long as possible. Stephen King, in his fab book On Writing says to put first drafts in a drawer for six months.

Is there a project, non-fiction or fiction, that you want to tackle but haven’t yet? What is holding you back?

Suze, the only thing holding me back is time—and sometimes motivation. I spend much of my time aboard a sailboat. When cruising, it’s hard to stay focused even though I keep a laptop aboard and have no excuse when we’re at dock. On the ocean, my mind goes to mush.

What is the most surprising thing that has happened in your writing career?

At age 50+, I had three non-fiction books published within a three year period and built a reputation as a freelance nautical writer. I never planned to be a writer, but I had always been creative.

They say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half a manuscript shoved in a drawer somewhere. What is yours? What is it about? What makes it terrible? Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

Last week, I re-read my first real MS, a paranormal romance I had set aside for a year or so, and was appalled. My characters were stereo-typed, my opening sucked, and the plot needed a diet. I WILL fix it because it has potential—no way am I going to let all the research I did to make the story authentic go to waste. This winter I took a fix-your-book-in-a-month class on-line, based on James Bell’s Revision and Self-editing, which helped me get my newest book ready for market. Now that I know the procedure, all I need to do is carve out some serious focus time and apply what I learned to the paranormal. Maybe I’ll dig into it once I get going on the NEW book. Oops. Am I procrastinating?

Do you have a word-related pet peeve?

No, but overly descriptive passages make my eyes glaze over.

What is your junk food of choice?

Ice cream-any kind, any flavor. Put it near me and no matter what diet I’m on, I can’t resist.

What’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?

Oh, let me think. I’m a basic chicken, but through my dearest captain, I’ve been drawn into scary situations so many times that I finally told him, no more. I’ve survived the “perfect storm”—20 foot waves and 60 knot winds for two days with a failed engine–and crossed the widest part of the Gulf Stream. In all, I’ve  sailed over 5000 miles on the open ocean—and I’m a lousy swimmer.

Eeek! You spend a lot of time traveling by boat. Where’s the most interesting place you’ve been?  Where haven’t you been that you’d like to go?

Years ago, we chartered a sailboat and cruised the Tahitian islands. The people were gracious, and every island was like a mini Garden of Eden with luscious fruits dripping from trees. We watched while men spearfished for our supper, visited a vanilla farm, and wore hand-dyed pareos–like the natives.

I’ve never been to England, and I’d love to go back to Thailand to visit my brother-in-law.

Would you like to share a recipe with us?

I thought you’d never ask. I created this quick-to-make chicken recipe aboard our boat using ingredients I had on hand. It tastes yummy. Find mango chutney with the condiments in the supermarket. Use the chutney as a sandwich spread for deli meat, to give zing to a chicken salad, or over cream cheese for an hors d’oeuvre.

Mango Chutney Chicken (Serves 4-6)

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon mild curry powder

6 chicken breast quarters, boned and skinned

2 tablespoons butter, separated

1 small yellow onion, cut in half and sliced thin, separated

1 fresh mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into bite sized chunks

1/2 teaspoon fresh minced ginger root, or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (more if you want it spicier)

1/3  cup chicken broth

1/3  cup prepared mango chutney (the chunkier the better)

Combine the salt, pepper, and curry powder in a small cup. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle each side of all pieces with the curry mixture. In a large skillet on medium high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter until sizzling. Place three chicken pieces in bottom of pan, and then distribute 1/2 of the onion in spaces between chicken. Brown chicken on both sides, and sauté onions. Remove to a platter and set aside. Add the remaining butter to the pan. Brown the remaining chicken with the onion in the same manner.

When all chicken and onion are browned, return mixture to the hot pan. Stir in the diced mango and the ginger. Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook about 10 minutes, or until chicken is done and mango softens. Remove the solid pieces to platter and keep warm.

Make chutney sauce: To the juice at the bottom of the pan, add the chicken broth and the mango chutney. Stir well. On medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and become syrupy. Return the chicken mixture to the pan. Stir to coat with sauce. Serve over cooked rice with a salad or green vegetable.

What is your guilty pleasure? {Remember: this is a PG rated blog! :) }

Awk! I’m not putting THAT in writing.

Thanks for being here today, Joy!

Joy Smith is the author of several nonfiction books, including The Empty Nest Cookbook, Kitchen Afloat, The Perfect First Mate, and her latest, Oh, No, They’re Engaged! When she’s not cruising the world in some exotic location, you can connect with her through her blog (click here!).

My Emily by Matt Patterson

Hello, Katy Lee here. Today I am hosting Matt Patterson, author of My Emily. I found out about Matt and his book through the International Online Book Club of Clean Reads. The club helps to bring authors, readers and bloggers together.  Each month they feature a different author, discuss or review their book, and feature them on different blogs and our group website. 

Matt, I am happy to have you be the first guest from the book club. Welcome! You are not only my first book club guest, but you are my first non-fiction writer guest. (Not to put any pressure on you to set the bar.)

Can you tell us what is the most surprising thing that has happened in your writing career?

I have to actually say the most surprising thing is that people are not only buying my book – MY little book – but they also like it!  The groundswell of support and emotion of those who have read My Emily has been so very, very humbling.  To this day, when someone drops me a note and tells me they’re about to read my book, I get worried. I just want them to draw something from it.

I’m sure! After all, in My Emily you are sharing yourself with the world, in all the levels of joy and pain that that entails. You’re sharing YOUR story. That can be a scary thing to do.

Can you please tell us if you have ever thought about writing something that is completely different for you?  Perhaps writing in a new genre or just taking a story someplace that you haven’t done before.

This is a question that has really bounced around inside of me.  I often ask myself, “Can I write a piece of fiction?”  For me, that’s very intimidating.  My background is in journalism, which is pretty much nuts and bolts storytelling of an occurrence or outcome.  For now, my passion is to tell Emily’s story and to hopefully touch those who have been down our road of losing a child. A fiction novel is not ruled out by any means, but just not right now.

What was your biggest misstep in your writing career so far?

I would have to say waiting so long to sit down and write My Emily.  I now look back and ask, “How many families could I have helped if I just sat down and wrote this 20 years ago?”  I have to remember that our timelines are not the same as God’s. I also have to remember not to be so hard on myself and that’s a toughie.

What would you do if you couldn’t be a writer any longer?

I’d probably go through the roof! 

This is a great question considering what I have on the horizon. If at some point I couldn’t write – then I would hit the road and speak full time. I would go out and share what I’ve written with others in hope of helping those families with special needs children, little ones battling cancer and those parents who are grieving the loss of a child.

Back to the horizon, in the very near future I will start a speaking platform centered on sharing Emily’s story to groups – large and small, as well as near and far. I absolutely love meeting people.  It’s my hope I can pull the emotion off the pages and share it in an intimate setting.

And I am sure that will be met with many who need this kind of support. Thank you for stepping up to reach other families in similar situations.

So now, tell us, how do you come up with your shtick?   By shtick I mean your voice. That thing that identifies the story as belonging to only you – something that says these are the type of stories that are your brand.

Very cool question!  I love that you use the word “voice.”  I have actually had people say that they like my “voice.” When someone sits down and cracks open My Emily, it’s like you’re sitting right across from me and I’m telling you our story.  Once done, you’ll walk away having a better idea of what it would be like to have a coffee or Diet Coke with me. I have no problem trying to share what I perceive is my unique sense of humor by poking fun at myself, but I also want to make sure the reader realizes I’m someone who is sensitive and truly wants to help others.

What is your junk food of choice?

I have two!  I love a thick slice or two (maybe three) of pizza – extra cheese and jalapenos!  The second food of choice would be a 12-inch cheeseburger sub (lettuce, tomato, mayo, hot pepper relish and lots of grilled onions) from my hometown (Baltimore) pizza/sub shop.

What’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?

I’m not much of a risk taker by any means.  Those who know me will say I’m the biggest 6-foot-3 wimp they know.

I do have to say that for a first book, to step out of our pain and share it with others was a big risk – at least to me.  The response thus far has been so very gratifying.  When a reader can open their heart in an email or review that literally brings me to tears is validation that I made the right choice.

Tell us about your book! And yourself, your publisher, and your process of working with them if you want. How can readers find you after today?

Absolutely!  My Emily is my first published effort with others looming. Readers can find it on Amazon, Barnes &Noble and christianbook.com.

My publisher is the biggest control freak! Oh that would be me!  He’s a good guy – thinks he’s funny, but he also makes people cry.

My Emily is a book that tells the story of a hurting family, an amazing little girl and a mysteriously faithful God.

Emily wasn’t born perfect – so one might think.

She was born with Down Syndrome and many would jump to the conclusion that she would have very little hope for a life with any significance. Two years later came the diagnosis of leukemia. What little hope remaining turned to no hope whatsoever – or so one might think.

The life of this little girl, with all its perceived imperfections, had great meaning. Her loving nature and courage touched the hearts of everyone she met. She also taught them how to value their own lives – even with their many “imperfections.”

 
I love connecting to readers and making new friends!  People can find me at these links and locations:

Websites:  http://mattpatterson.mehttp://www.my-emily.com

Twitter: @myemily_thebook

Facebook: Matt Patterson, Author

Thank you, Matt, for hanging out with the Scribes’ Fans today!

Note: A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help families with special needs children, those who are battling pediatric cancers, as well as parents grieving the loss of a little one.