Friday, October 31, 2008

And the winners are ...

Kristen Painter, the B$N gift card.
Sharon Lavy, the five, gently used books.

Thank you everyone who made my first blog tour exciting! And thank you Marcia for stopping by and answering questions. You guys are awesome!

Kristen and Sharon, could you e-mail me your snail mails? My e-mail is jessica_nelson7590 (at) yahoo (dot) com

Also, Sharon, let me know what kind of genres you like to read so I can make sure to pick out stuff you (hopefully) like. :-)

Thanks again everyone!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Marcia Gruver Blog Tour

Today is my first blog tour ever! And probably my longest post. :-) Two days ago I posted a review for Marcia Gruver's debut novel, Diamond Duo. Today I'm posting an interview with her, followed by her bio and links to everyone else participating in this tour. Make sure to check out their sites, as each blog will be a bit different. And don't forget to stop by Marcia's blog, The Yielded Quill. Another thing! Two commenters will win either a Barnes and Noble gift card or five gently used books!

Now for her interview!

Q: Please tell us a little bit about who Marcia Gruver is.
A: Which Marcia? Like everyone else, who I am depends on the hat on my head. I’m wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, granny, and just recently, great-granny to a little sprite of a girl who seems well qualified to carry our legacy into the future. Even more recently, I’m a published author of inspirational fiction. How about that? Marcia Gruver is content, well loved, fulfilled, and grateful to God for every second of her life.
Q: How have your life experiences helped you as a writer?
A: I believe all of life’s experiences are fertile fodder for fiction. Try saying that three times really fast. I’ve traveled some bumpy roads in my time. I was a hippie in the 60’s, a yippie in the 70’s, a groupie in the 80’s, and a yuppie in the 90’s. Who else but a bona fide baby boomer can say that? At the dawn of this new century, I’m just a droopy—with a passel of kids and grandkids. I long to impart to them the nuggets of wisdom old granny picked up along the way, but since none of them will listen, I’m wrapping fictional stories around the lessons I’ve learned and slipping them to the rascals. Like hiding spinach in applesauce. Not to compare God’s grace to a slimy green vegetable, but the truth is both of them are good for you.
Q: Do you plot your novels out or are you a so-called seat-of-the-pants writer?
A: I used to fly by my seat from start to finish. My first experience with working a plan came after discovering Randy Ingermanson’s snowflake method for plotting a novel. After working through Karen S. Wiesner’s First Draft in 30 Days, I’m a born-again plotter. These days, I don’t think I’d do it any other way. I sort of like knowing where I’m going when I sit down to write.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
A: Guilty secret time? I love to play video games. I look for any slip of time and any excuse to play. I also love to read and watch movies in all genres.
Q: In Diamond Duo, your character Bertha is a breath of fresh air with her fun and refreshing sense of humor. If I were to ask those close to you about your sense of humor, would they describe similarities between you and Bertha?
A: Oh, boy! I’m afraid so. I’m actually dry and rather reserved at first—so much so that I’ve been accused of having a split personality. When I’m very relaxed and get to know a person well, the real me comes out to play. Yep, the lights are on and a whole bunch of us are home.
Q: Where did the idea for Diamond Duo come from?
A: On a trip to Jefferson, Texas, I heard the true story of the unsolved murder of the infamous Diamond Bessie, aka Annie Monroe. In 1877, a flashy, well-dressed couple rode a train into town for a short visit. They checked into a hotel as A. Monroe and wife. The woman seemed to go by more than one name, one of them Bessie Moore. Because she wore several large diamond rings, supposedly gifts offered in exchange for immoral favors, the locals soon dubbed her “Diamond Bessie.”
On the last day of Bessie’s life, she and her companion, Abraham Rothschild, took a picnic basket into the woods. He came out alone, wandering the streets of Jefferson by himself for several days. When asked about Bessie, he said she was staying with nearby friends, and would return in time for their departure. However, he left by himself two days later, carrying Bessie’s luggage along with his own.
A local woman discovered poor Bessie’s body in the woods several days later. Jefferson officials went after Abraham Rothschild and tried him for her murder, but due to his money and considerable influence, he was acquitted.
While standing over Diamond Bessie’s grave, assuming her eternal fate, I found myself wondering: “What if?” Maybe history had been unkind to Bessie. What if she wasn’t as bad as some claimed? Suppose God had arranged a surprise finish for her—a loving, merciful end that no one would’ve expected?
Q: When you sit down to read for pleasure what authors do you choose?
A: Linda Nichols, Kristen Heitzman, and Brandilyn Collins are at the top of the list. But I have so many books in my ‘To Be Read’ pile, I just know there are favorites sitting there waiting to be discovered.

Q: What three books that you’ve read this past year would you recommend others rush to the bookstore and purchase?
A: That’s a tough one. Readers’ tastes are so diverse, especially in fiction. For instance, I write quirky, sweet historical romance with a thread of adventure to spice it up a bit. I realized going in that this wouldn’t appeal to every reader. In the same way, there’s a huge fan base for the spooky novels written by Brandilyn Collins, yet I happen to know people too scared to read them. A great testimony to the quality of her work, by the way. It breaks my heart to read a scathing review of an author’s hard work, written by a person who had no business picking it up in the first place. Nonfiction? I highly recommend The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls. This book almost reads like fiction and is an incredible ride.
If you could take your dream vacation, where would you go and who would go with you?I once would’ve said England. I love the Brits. After watching Under the Tuscan Sun with Diane Lane, I’m now captivated by Tuscany. Whichever destination I chose, my traveling partner would have to be my hubby. He’s great to talk to. But since he wouldn’t take off work to go, I’d take my daughter Tracy, the most fun person I know.

Marcia Gruver is a full time writer who hails from Southeast Texas. Inordinately enamored by the past, Marcia delights in writing historical fiction. Her deep south-central roots lend a Southern-comfortable style and a touch of humor to her writing. Recently awarded a three-book contract by Barbour Publishing, she’s busy these days pounding on the keyboard and watching the deadline clock.
Marcia’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW); the Christian Authors Network (CAN!); Faith, Hope, & Love (FHL)-the Inspirational Outreach Chapter of the Romance Writers of America; Fellowship of Christian Writers (FCW); The Writers View; and a longstanding member of ACFW Crit3, her brilliant and insightful critique group.
Lifelong Texans, Marcia and her husband, Lee, have one daughter and four sons. Collectively, this motley crew has graced them with ten grandchildren and one great-granddaughter—so far.

Other participating blogs:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blog Tour Detour

I'm traveling from Kentucky to Florida today, so I decided to reschedule the tour for tomorrow so that I can be involved.

LOL Is that selfish?

Anyhow, to those of you who live north of Florida, WOW, the scenery is incredible. I forgot that there were trees turning purple right now. My four year old is pretty impressed. :-)

So, I'll see you all tomorrow. :-)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Diamond Duo

Tuesday is my interview with Marcia Gruver for her debut novel, Diamond Duo! I hope you'll check it out. For now, I thought I'd give a quick review of the story.

Her writing, first of all, was really good. She has a strong voice and the historical sound of the entire story is amazing. She really captured the feel of a western, and yet her narrative/dialogue was incredibly easy to follow.

The characters were real. I especially liked Sarah King. Her personality seemed to jump off the page and some of the things she experienced brought tears to my eyes.

One thing I noticed about this book was the humor. You know how some stories have dialogue that's supposed to be funny, and then the characters laugh, and you're thinking, "That wasn't very funny". Diamond Duo was FUNNY. Okay, not the plot. This is a story about murder and injustice, but the character's interactions and dialogue actually made me laugh. No small feat. *wink*

Though Diamond Duo deals with our inhumanity to each other, there's a strong, overriding theme of God's mercy toward us. And his goodness, despite our failings.

I enjoyed Diamond Duo. If you like a strong, historical voice and passionately realistic characters, you'll probably like this book.

Don't forget! One lucky commenter on Tuesday will receive five gently used books. I'll try to diversify :-) Another commenter will receive a Barnes and Noble gift card. See you Tuesday!

Friday, October 24, 2008

More Editor Stuff

Editors are still on the brain, I guess.

So, are they paid based on how much a book they acquire makes? Or do they get a salary? And if a book does well, what kind of a reward does an editor receive?

I'm just wondering what kind of incentive they have to choose a great story to buy. Will the success or failure of their acquisition determine the future of their career?

I know. I'm nosy. :-)

It's an interesting business, I think. Being an agent or editor, being paid to read, is my idea of bliss.

Anybody "got the goods" on this profession?

This just in! According to a bookends post, editors do NOT get paid commission. Makes me wonder what their incentive to buy the best is. ???

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Editor Stuff

I was moseying around Agent Kristin Nelson's blog when I stumbled across a link she'd put up. I clicked on it and discovered a fascinating interview with a famous editor.
Why famous?
Because the majority of his acquisitions became bestsellers.

This made me wonder what exactly goes into being a bestseller. Sure, I need to have a great story with great writing followed by great promotion. It's my idea and the execution of it, after all, that will (or not) create buzz.

But there's more to it than just me.

Editors really, really shape our stories. They see the things that need to be cut, the things that need to be added. They can hone a story to a fine-edged masterpiece. Are editors the "unsung heroes" of publishing? The secret force behind a book's failure or success?

What do you think?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Stop the Bickering

Growing up, I absolutely loved to read Victoria Holt. I loved the way her hero and heroine bickered back and forth. Somehow, I thought their verbal battles equaled conflict.

It doesn't.

There's two types of conflict. External and Internal. Neither involves arguing lovers, though I admit to liking some spice in my dialogue. But when I started writing, somehow I translated fighting as conflict. Bad, bad move.

I didn't completely realize I thought this way until I read a book where there was such tension between the hero and heroine that I wondered how they'd ever make it. I finished the book, thought about their struggle and realized that not once did they actually dislike eachother. A lightbulb went off in my head.

Hero can like heroine, and vice-versa, and there can still be major conflict.

Ever had an epiphany like that with your writing?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Talk Is Cheap

While revising my manuscript I discovered something. I've been talking the talk but not walking the ... um, yeah. That cliche.
But really, revising is such an eye-opener. The sad thing is, this wasn't my first revision. So, while wading through I was amazed/disturbed/downright disgusted by the plethora of passive sentences and weak verbs in my manuscript.
I've learned alot about craft but apparently didn't apply my knowledge to every chapter.
So, have you ever revised your manuscript (or your life) and realized that while you technically "knew" something, you hadn't been writing (living) it?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Still Bizzy

Not only am I revising a manuscript requested by an editor (yay!) but now I have family coming to visit. So between cleaning and fixing my manuscript, I have little time.
Never fear. There are tons of blogs more interesting than mine. Look to the right on my sidebar and you'll see a blog called A Still and Quiet Madness. Anita, the blogger, posted some strange quirks of favorite writers.
Also, Wanna Be Published has some great quotes posted by author Mary DeMuth.
I'll be back when life has calmed.
See you then!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Too Bizzy

Yep, the fresh ideas I want to post take time I don't have right now. So I'm directing you to other people's genius blogs.
Seekers have a good dose of reality today.
Agent Chip Macgregor posted some interesting facts about the biz the other day.

If you know any other helpful recent blog posts, feel free to mention in the comment section. Otherwise, have a great day!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'll have Classic, with a Twist

You know how editors and agents say they're looking for something fresh? It doesn't mean something "out there". It just means classic, with a twist.

My opinion, of course.

I write romance. In romance there are sixteen main plots. I know this because I saved the list, but for some reason I'm having trouble finding the link right now. Grrrr.

Anyhow, in my zealousness I took TWO of these plots for my manuscript, The Bridegroom's Revenge. Hehehehe, can you guess one?
That's right. Hero Comes Back for Revenge. The other plot is Secret Baby. So I use two plots in this story. How do I give them a fresh twist?

The child died. The hero comes back for revenge, finds out he had a child who died at the age of seven. It's heartbreaking and adds conflict to the hero's plan.

That's my twist.

What do you do to try to make your story fresh and new, while remaining marketable?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Skinny on Flab

Lately I've been reading on some blogs about cutting the flab from manuscripts, the excess poundage. Of course it's excellent advice. All those extra adverbs, adjectives and useless words can make a manuscript thick, a heavy read to wade through.
So you cut and you prune and you lose weight.
Then what?

I gotta tell you, I've been skinny my whole life. I also have cellulite. Yes, I can cover it with clothes. Yes, I appear healthier than some people (though technically a thin person can be obese-yep). Some friends of mine gape when I claim to want to work out. (claim is the perfect verb here). They say, why?

I'll tell you. Lack of flab does not equal strength.

Your manuscript is healthier when you trim the extra words but it is not necessarily stronger. What you need to do is TONE that baby. That's right. Get some muscle.

My cellulite areas are my bootie and thighs. So I do squats, lunges and anything else that causes pain. LOL

Look at your story. How's the punch of your narrative? Wanna make it stronger? Verbs will do it. Strong verbs that kick images into the minds of your readers.

In your manuscript, where are your "cellulite" areas? How do you tone these places to make them stronger?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Help-My Middle is Sagging!

Not my belly, thank goodness, but the middle of my WIP. Yep. I've reached one hundred pages and am bored.

Sometimes our manuscripts get a little flabby if we don't pay attention to conflict. Yuck, but true.
Since I'm not an expert (obviously, since I've encountered this problem on my THIRD manuscript) I'm going to point you elsewhere for wisdom.

The one on Fiction Factor is awesome and very detailed on how to possibly fix the problem. My lovely friend Anita generously shared her link to it with me. By the way, if you check out her blog she has a whole bunch of great links posted.

So, has this happened to you? Your story is out of juice and you're only half done? What do you do to jumpstart it? Or have you had to go back and completely revise?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My First Blog Tour

So, I'm going to be participating in a blog tour for author Marcia Gruver. I have her historical romance Diamond Duo sitting right here in front of me. The plot looks great. And the first line?

Well, it's pretty awesome. Here it is:

"With the tip of a satin shoe, the graceful turn of an ankle, the woman poured herself like cream from the northbound train out of Marshall and let the tomcats lap her up."

I love the metaphor.

Eek! I'm so excited. My first tour. And I'm thinking of giving out some kind of prize to people commenting whenever I do the interview.

What do you think is good? A bag full of gently used books or a Blockbuster gift card?

Friday, October 3, 2008

What Type Are You?

Recently it came to my attention that a hero in one of my manuscripts is flat. He doesn't seem real. The problem?
I think I didn't get a good characterization on him. Some people, like my writer friend Haleigh, use character interviews. Others use charts. Those things are too organized/detailed for me.

Instead, with my first finished manuscript I relied on the Myers-Brigg personalities to formulate my characters. I probably should have done that with this hero.

My favorite website is here. Not only does it give detailed profiles but you can find out what other personalities are the best romantic fit. And then, voila! You have character personalities already mapped out. This is also a great way to make sure your characters stay consistent in their actions.

There's a long test and a short test.

I'm an INFP on both tests. I would love to know what you are!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Matthew drove the boat for the first time the other day! I didn't know until I saw the picture, but it got me to thinking of firsts.

My first kiss. Sensuously gentle, an indicator of what I might expect from my future husband.
First impressions.
Author Amy Clipston posted about the importance of the first line in a manuscript not too long ago. I encourage you to read it as it was enlightening.
The truth is, first impressions are everything. In life and in story, they set the mood. The first sentence can propell someone to shove the book back into its spot on the shelf, or it may hook the reader into reading more and, possibly, buying your book.
It may hook an editor or agent into requesting a full.
An opening sentence I've never forgotten is:
"If there was one thing Josie Miller knew, it was the smell of a rich man."
I absolutely LOVED this first line from Her Unlikely Family by Missy Tippens.
Look at the opening of your story objectively. Is your first sentence intriguing? Posing a question the reader must discover an answer to?