Category Archives: non-fiction

A Day in the Life…

So, I’m a day late with posting to the Scribes, but when I’m through, you’ll see why. PJ Sharon here, and I thought it might be fun to share the short list of to-do’s in the days before indie-publishing two projects at once–Christmas week.

Box set cover1) Complete third and final round of edits for SAMI’s CHRISTMAS WISH LIST, a holiday novella releasing on December 19th as part of The GIRLS of THOMPSON LAKE box set. (Done)

2) Format box set prior to sending off for professional formatting. (I don’t want any surprises!) The box set includes HEAVEN is for HEROES, ON THIN ICE, and PIECES of LOVE, which means I had to go through all three novels, combine them into one document, and assure that formatting was consistent throughout. Being that my brain is in edit mode, you can imagine I was catching things right and left that needed fixing. (Done)

3) Final round edits for HEALING WATERS, Book Three in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael Trilogy. (Done!)

PJSharon_HealingWaters_8004) Prepare/format HW for final upload to Amazon by…um…tonight. (In order to offer pre-orders, the final product must be uploaded ten days prior to December 23rd release.) (In-progress) If you pre-order it now, you’ll have it on your Kindle on release day! 

5) Set up FREE run for WANING MOON, Book One in the trilogy. December 22-26th. (Includes listing book on as many FREE e-book sites as possible…there are probably hundreds these days. This takes hours and requires a personal assistant or an all-night spree in the next few days. (In-progress)

6) Ordered print proofs/advanced copies for Goodreads giveaway. They arrived today. Yay!!! So cool having the book in hand. If you want a chance to win a signed ARC, you still have a couple of days to enter. Giveaway ends December 15th. (Done) Mail signed ARCs to winners on December 16th.HW Arc pic

Oh, and did I mention, I’m participating in a group blog hop from December 12-31st? My Addictive Reads friends and I are chatting about a “Few of our Favorite Things.” You can read mine here. We also want to show our appreciation to our readers by offering $50, $20, and $15 gift cards, and a grand prize of a Kindle Fire HD Tablet that we’ve front loaded with a bunch of our books, including PIECES of LOVE. Estimated value $239! Check out the EVENT page, fill in the rafflecopter, and visit each author’s site to find more goodies.AR-2014-Giveaway

Once I’m done uploading HEALING WATERS tonight, I’m determined to take tomorrow off to breathe and hang out with my CTRWA writer pals at our annual Margarita Awards Holiday Party. This year’s bash includes a luau and a pool party. I can see some margaritas in my near future! Maybe even of the “awards” variety.

The one part my multi-project launch I haven’t been able to manage (secondary to limitations in time, budget, and brain cells) is preparing a release party or setting up any major advertising. Since past efforts (FB parties, paid ads, and social media blitzes through blog tours and such), have all shown minimal success, this time, I’m focusing on getting the books out. Now that I have the third book in the trilogy completed and I have the box set to work with, I’ll take a bit of time off from new fiction projects and focus my first quarter efforts on promoting.

2015 promises to be an exciting year. I have a non-fiction project in the works and plan to teach some workshops at conferences. I’ve already been invited to appear at the New England RWA chapter’s April conference. I’ll be presenting a workshop on Self-Care and Ergonomics for writers entitled…”Is your writing killing you?”

Yes…I am an expert, LOL.

Miraculously, I seem to be able to juggle all of this and plan a little time with family and friends, despite my slight grumpiness and fatigue. If you’re wondering if there are two of me, there aren’t. But it is on my Christmas wish list.

Best to you all through the holidays! Wish me luck.




Kindred Spirits

Greetings Scriblings! PJ Sharon here.

I had the good fortune of attending a few days of the 2014 IWWG Summer Conference this week. If you aren’t familiar with this acronym, it stands for International Women’s Writing Guild. Despite the fact that I’ve been heavily involved in the romance writing community for several years, I’d never even heard of this organization.  Here’s why.

Romance writers and literary writers tend not to associate or travel in the same conference circles. Whether this is due to some misconception that one is better than the other or that the two are diametrically opposed, I can’t say, because my experience with this incredible group of amazingly talented women was nothing but educational, inclusive, and uplifting–not to mention well organized and fun. These ladies write everything from poetry to memoir, creative nonfiction to essays. A few write fiction as well, and many are published, either traditionally or Indie.

Workshops included a study in Metaphor with the fabulous Susan Tiberghien,  a chance to make “mischief” with Kelly Dumar, where we explored our childhood prankster selves and acted out stories of our misspent youth.  I learned some new plotting strategies from the excellent Chris Eboch in the workshop, What I Learned from Nancy Drew,  and Dr. Dixie King’s extremely helpful Nourishing the Writer Within was an eye opener! Dr. King took us through a step by step guide of smart goal setting and challenged us to pinpoint the barriers and limiting beliefs that hold us back from achieving our goals. I was only able to attend two days of the five day conference, but I felt so welcomed and appreciated by the group that I felt as if I’d met some kindred spirits.

IWWG conf. 2In addition to the wonderful workshops and new friends I met, the food was outstanding and the venue at the Wisdom House in Litchfield, CT was absolutely lovely. I even walked the labyrinth at sunset and spent some time in meditation, which is an area of my life I’ve been neglecting and was sorely needed.

IWWG Conf. 6There was an opportunity to showcase my books at the book fair and take center stage to share from one of my stories.  I was completely floored by the quality of each and every writer’s work that was shared. Poignant stories of family,  deep inner journeys, and prose that gave me chills and had me laughing and crying within the same three minute reading. These women are powerful and brilliant, I tell you!

Regardless of genre, we were all writers and all women–sisters of the pen–there to support each other. I feel so blessed to have been a part of this group if only for a couple of days. It gave me just the shot in the writer’s arm that I needed. I learned some important things about myself in the process and hope to meet these lovely women again in the future. My eyes are open a little wider and my heart has been touched by the gift of their words. Thank you IWWG!

Here’s a little about the organization:

The IWWG, founded in 1976, is a network for the personal and professional empowerment of women through writing and open to all regardless of portfolio. As such, it has established a remarkable record of achievement in the publishing world, as well as in circles where lifelong learning and personal transformation are valued for their own sake. The Guild nurtures and supports holistic thinking by recognizing the logic of the heart–the ability to perceive the subtle interconnections between people, events and emotions- alongside conventional logic.

Have you stretched your wings and made some new friends lately? When was the last time you just wrote for fun? Because if you aren’t having fun, what’s the point, right?

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.

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 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!).