Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Writer’s Maze: It begins with a burning obsession to write. It should end with getting published, but does it?

The family and I went to a local dairy farm to enjoy the fall festivities yesterday.

As I wandered through the labyrinth of corn and packed clay, I felt the correlation to my real life dilemma. 

“How did I get from where I began this crazy writing journey, to where I am now? And how do I get to where I want to be?”

I glanced at the map clutched in my hands, as though I couldn’t take a step without it, and in big bold letters the words START and FINISH taunted me. And then, dotted along the sides of the illustration, another word caught my attention, EXIT.


Those three words however, had one very obvious difference. START and FINISH were only written once but EXIT… well, there were so many of them! In this maze – this child’s playground – anyone could give up and get out if they panicked. Everyone in the maze could simply EXIT if they wanted to.

That meant everyone I could see and hear in the corn tunnels around me were in there by choice. These adventurers had come to play the game too. They hadn’t been tempted by the EXITs.

They’d looked those winding paths in the cob and soldiered on, just like me.

They had the desire to make it to the FINISH.

The craving to write a book (or twenty) seemed to be an innocent quest, at first. It seemed exciting and totally doable. We writers – the ones whose minds are poisoned by ideas and words which rob us of sleep – we must write, the way all other living creatures must breathe.

We write and write until our fingers bleed and our families forget what we look like. We write with passion and a desire that someday our words might be read by people who share our love of stories. But then, reality sets in. We learn there is more to getting published than writing. We learn there are a million other obstacles waiting for us that look like…

…revisions, major edits, minor edits, and line edits oh my! To query an agent? To query an editor? To self-publish? To traditionally publish?  

We read blogs with good advice (not this one!) so we revise again, edit again, query again, go back to school, learn more about our chosen craft, go to conferences, meet agents, meet editors, query again, revise again, query again only to find…

…dead end after dead end, corner after corner and we ask ourselves, “Should I EXIT now? Should I give up and never look back? Or should I see what’s around the next corner? Am I close to the FINISH or am I still miles from where I want to be?”

I don’t know. I’m lost. All I really want to do is write the next story I’ve been dreaming of. 

But then we get a sign.

We win pitch contests [Shout out to Brenda Drake for hosting AMAZING contests like Pitch Madness. Thank you very much!]or maybe we’ve written a really amazing query letter and agents request to read our full manuscripts! And then it’s all, “Hooray! I must be on the right path!”

We must be getting close! And while the agents are reading our babies, we dream of the day when one of them will say, “I love your book. I’d like to represent you.” And the sign we conjure in our imaginations looks more like this…

But in this maze, as I meandered through, there are signs with a phone number to call if I get lost. 

You know who I really call when I’m feeling lost? My CRITUQUE PARTERS

Man, let me tell you, you cannot survive this maze without ‘em. Don’t have ‘em? Get ‘em! Nobody knows your pain and struggle more than a good critique partner (mine are the flippen bomb-diggety, but you can’t have ‘em, they’re mine). Not only will a good CP read and chop up edit your manuscript for you, they’ll be there to pick you up when you want to EXIT. They won’t let you give up no matter how much you beg, whine and grovel. 

And you’ll love them for it. I love my SFWG more than I love coffee or shoes (if you know me, you know that’s A LOT!).

Unlike this quaint little maze, which was build to provide a fun adventure, the path from writer to published author doesn’t come with a handy phone number or a map and a clearly marked FINISH line. Becoming an author is a journey we take blindfolded.

(That’s my husband, aint he puuuurdy?)

We follow the voices of the authors who’ve taken this path before us. All the while thinking, how did you do this? And as we watch our friends moving further and further ahead in their careers (and we’re so happy for them!! xoxoxo) we still want to shout, “Hey, wait for me!”

But alas, they cannot hold our hands and drag us out of our maze. Each of our paths is different and no two look exactly alike. And while all of the advices on how-to-get-published can point us in the right direction like a map, it cannot lead us to immortal glory… err, to the FINISH

That part is up to us, the would-be authors, the perpetual dreamers, creators, imaginers, and wishful thinkers. The rest of the maze is for us…the purpose is to find our way, even if we have to call for help once in awhile.

We must be vigilant in our quest and stay focused on the FINISH no matter how many EXITs might temp us to quit. I know this because this little corn maze taught me there are more EXITs near the FINISH than there are near the START.

Write on future authors. If you see that EXIT sign, it only means you’re getting closer to the FINISH.

And then you’ll be all…

…and the world will hear your Bell of Success ring!

The story continues on The Writer's Maze: WiPs and Chains
and The Writer's Maze: What a Zoo! 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

 Check out what's happening at

HarperCollins Chilrens 

Case File 13 author,

J. Scott Savage 

 shares his family's favorite scary movies! 

Take a look and enter for a chance to win them all!

CASE FILE 13 author, J. Scott Savage to share his family’s go-to films when they are in the mood for a good scare - See more at:
CASE FILE 13 author, J. Scott Savage to share his family’s go-to films when they are in the mood for a good scare - See more at:
CASE FILE 13 author, J. Scott Savage to share his family’s go-to films when they are in the mood for a good scare - See more at:

Monday, August 12, 2013


Marci Jefferson’s first novel is about Frances Stuart, who rejected three kings and graced England’s coins for generations as the model for Britannia. The book will release February 11, 2014 from Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Press. But pre-order this week and comment on Marci’s blog for a chance to win a pair of sterling-silver pearl-drop earrings like the ones Frances wears on this elegant cover (be prepared to present your receipt).
Impoverished and exiled to the French countryside after the overthrow of the English Crown, Frances Stuart survives merely by her blood-relation to the Stuart Royals. But in 1660, the Restoration of Stuart Monarchy in England returns her family to favor. Frances discards threadbare gowns and springs to gilded Fontainebleau Palace, where she soon catches King Louis XIV’s eye. But Frances is no ordinary court beauty, she has Stuart secrets to keep and people to protect. The king turns vengeful when she rejects his offer to become his Official Mistress. He banishes her to England with orders to seduce King Charles II and stop a war.
Armed in pearls and silk, Frances maneuvers through the political turbulence of Whitehall Palace, but still can’t afford to stir a scandal. Her tactic to inspire King Charles to greatness captivates him. He believes her love can make him an honest man and even chooses Frances to pose as Britannia for England’s coins. Frances survives the Great Fire, the Great Plague, and the debauchery of the Restoration Court, yet loses her heart to the very king she must control. Until she is forced to choose between love or war.

On the eve of England’s Glorious Revolution, James II forces Frances to decide whether to remain loyal to her Stuart heritage or, like England, make her stand for Liberty. Her portrait as Britannia is minted on every copper coin. There she remains for generations, an enduring symbol of Britain’s independent spirit and her own struggle for freedom.

"In her wonderfully evocative debut, Girl on the Golden Coin, Marci Jefferson recreates the fascinating story of Frances Stuart, whose influence over England's Charles II became the talk of a nation. As vibrant and delightful as the woman it's based on, Girl on the Golden Coin is a jewel of a novel!"
—Michelle Moran, New York Times bestselling author of The Second Empress and Madame Tussaud

"Beauty is not always a blessing, as young Frances Stuart finds out when her lovely face pits her between the desires and politics of rival kings Louis XIV and Charles II. Frances makes an appealing heroine, by turns wary and passionate, sophisticated and innocent, as she matures from destitute young pawn to the majestic duchess whose figure would grace Britain's coins for centuries. Her struggles to support her loved ones, uncover her family secrets, and somehow find a life of her own amid the snake-pit courts of the Sun King and the Merry Monarch make for lively, entertaining reading in this lush Restoration novel by debut author Marci Jefferson."
—Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of Mistress of Rome

"Girl on the Golden Coin is a fantastic novel. I couldn’t put it down. The plot is fast-paced and compelling, with intriguing characters, lush settings and captivating narrative voice. Jefferson’s debut paints an intriguing portrait of Frances Stuart, a novel worthy of the determined, golden spirit of the woman whose face became the model for Britannia herself."
—Susan Spann, author of Claws of the Cat

“Girl on the Golden Coin is a sexy, exciting tale featuring vivid characters, rich historical detail, scintillating court intrigue, and a complexly rendered heroine in Frances Stuart, Maid of Honor to the Queen of England, who will capture the reader’s heart -- as will the man she loves, that rascal King Charles II.”
-- Sherry Jones, author, FOUR SISTERS, ALL QUEENS

Barnes& Noble    

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Claws of the Cat and the Brilliant Author Behind it!

Happy Book Birthday,

Susan Spann!

Miss Susan Spann is a dear, sweet friend of mine. She is also part of my amazing critique group, the SFWG, and today is her Book Birthday. I'm greedily reading The Claws of the Cat currently and I must say, Susan has done such a wonderful job of making 16th Century Japan come alive with elegant detail. I absolutely adore the character's, Hiro and Father Mateo, and I can't wait to see how she wraps this whodunit up. 

May 1564: When a samurai is brutally murdered in a Kyoto teahouse, master ninja Hiro has no desire to get involved. But the beautiful entertainer accused of the crime enlists the help of Father Mateo, the Portuguese Jesuit Hiro is sworn to protect, leaving the master shinobi with just three days to find the killer in order to save the girl and the priest from execution.

The investigation plunges Hiro and Father Mateo into the dangerous waters of Kyoto’s floating world, where they learn that everyone from the elusive teahouse owner to the dead man’s dishonored brother has a motive to keep the samurai’s death a mystery. A rare murder weapon favored by ninja assassins, a female samurai warrior, and a hidden affair leave Hiro with too many suspects and far too little time. Worse, the ninja’s investigation uncovers a host of secrets that threaten not only Father Mateo and the teahouse, but the very future of Japan.

Debut author Susan Spann delivers a riveting mystery filled with rich period detail and a fine sense of Japanese culture. Claws of the Cat boasts a detective like no other and a world never seen before in crime fiction.



Susan Spann is a transactional attorney and former law school professor whose practice focuses on publishing law and business. She has a deep interest in Asian culture and has studied Mandarin and Japanese. Her hobbies include Asian cooking, fencing, knife and shuriken throwing, traditional archery, martial arts, rock climbing, and horseback riding. She keeps a marine aquarium where she raises seahorses and rare corals. She lives in northern California with her family.


Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 2013
ISBN: 1250027020, 9781250027023
288 pages
Mystery & Detective & Historical