Saturday, September 9, 2017

WOW (Words of Wisdom)

I was recently invited back to a group I’d spoken to previously. When the subject is related to my books, I’m so in my comfort zone and can talk a blue streak. But since I’d already covered that ground, clearly, I needed new material.

With fear and trepidation, I prepared a presentation optimistically titled, An Interactive Writing Workshop. My plan included a brief description of setting, character development, genre and point of view. Keeping those topics in mind, I’d follow up by reading the opening paragraphs from several of my books. Then, (cue music) the scary part. I would ask them to write the beginning of a story.

Assailed by doubts, the following scenarios appeared in my overactive imagination. What if nobody showed up? What if I was met with truculent glares and they refused to participate? What if I heard mutterings like, “Why the heck did I come to this stupid thing?” “You want us to write???” Or, worst case scenario, maybe someone would initiate a stampede to the exit.

Because of my anxiety, I over prepared. I arrived armed with a long list of possible settings and dozens of writing prompts. Guess what? Not necessary.

Jim arrived early so he could show me the book he’d written about his life, titled The Farm. Many others filed into the room armed with paper and pens. After my brief introduction, I asked them to write, either individually or with a partner. With nary a grumble, they got to work. What they produced was educational . . . for me.


Bob, a child of the depression, came home from school to find the all family’s possessions piled outside their re-possessed home. Despite abject poverty, Bob served in the military, earned his M.D. and had many interesting experiences as a county coroner.

When Judy, along with three small children, arrived in the Philippines to join her military husband, he was nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, nobody told him she was coming. It was Sunday. None of the stores were open. There was very little furniture in the house and no food. Unlike today’s Millennials who panic when they can’t get cell service, Judy prevailed.

Sharon’s story of visiting her parents’ graves moved us to tears. Her husband’s description of an outdoor adventure was eloquent as well.

One group took the challenge of using a story prompt and penned a story about a group of 13-year-old girls gathered around a campfire and their rough-around-the edges visitor, Whopsy Willie. Creative, indeed!

If you decide to undertake a similar project, here’s my advice. Look for a group of well-seasoned adults who have lived life to the fullest. Their stories are amazing. I promise you will be richer for the experience. I know I was.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Finally, Allegiance is here!

Allegiance, Book two in the Soul Seekers series, will be published January 18, 2017. You may pre-order it now here:

If you haven’t yet read Affliction, Book one, it will be on sale for $.99 at The Wild Rose Press, starting January 6th.

Here’s a bit about Allegiance:

Transplanted California girl, Melanie Sullivan, vows to stay in Oregon until she nails the killer of her best friend, Dani. Mel’s ability to search a soul for innocence or guilt is a big plus. Her love for Billy the Kid, former Marine and now a detective with the 3 Peaks police department is also a factor in her decision. She’s not quite sure what’s going on with Billy. Has the PTSD from his Middle East deployments returned?

When a hate crime is committed in 3 Peaks, mel is recruited by sexy Homeland Security agent, Mick, who requires her soul-reading ability. Mick doesn’t hide his feelings. He’s more than eager to step in if Billy steps out, a complication Mel doesn’t need or want. As she goes undercover, Mel embarks on a dangerous journey, aided by her Uncle Paco and devoted friends.

Along the way, she learns a valuable lesson about the power of forgiveness.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Blog Tour for Affliction

A blog tour for Affliction, book 1 in the Soul Seekers series, will be held from October 10-13. If you are a reviewer, please follow this link to sign up: 

Shortly after, book 2, Allegiance, will be released. I am in the process of planning the third book, tentatively titled, Hope and Honor.
Stay tuned . . .

Saturday, August 20, 2016

After the Book is Written

Those of you who are writers know what it’s like to turn in a book and then wait, sometimes endlessly, for revisions from your editor. For those of you who are readers, here’s a peek behind the scenes. It is impossible for writers to be objective about their own books, which is why we desperately need sharp-eyed editors. Over the years, I’ve written ten books and had nine editors, some good and some, ahem, not so good..

The first book I sold, Castle Ladyslipper, was to a press I later discovered was on the warning list for Predators and Editors. Totally my fault. The owner/publisher/editor proceeded to remove all of my chapter headings and re-arrange them in a system that made absolutely no sense. Upon my objection, she returned them to their original order. My second book, The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam, was picked up by a different publisher and sold quite well. Readers wanted a sequel. I wrote a synopsis and three chapters and followed instructions to submit  to my editor. She turned it down siting the following reasons:  cozies weren’t selling well and the company decided to focus on horror. #1. The R&R Queen is not a cozy. #2. Doesn’t look like that horror thing is working out for them. But, as we know, rejection is part of the game and we soldier on.

Flash forward to my young adult series. I wrote six books for Bell Bridge Books and had a wonderful editing experience throughout. The best editor, by far, was Pat Van Wie who now free lances. She worked with me to make my books shine. I will always be grateful to her.

Since leaving BBB, I’m back to writing adult romantic suspense. My first book in the Soul Seeker series, Affliction, came out earlier this year. When I received the edits, I scrolled through the document. The only editing advice was to remove the word that from each page. She also reversed the words it’s and its throughout the entire document. Not wanting to come across as a know-it-all, I tried to tactfully explain, “it’s” is a contraction for “it is.” She said, “Oh, you’re right,” and changed them back. Apparently someone ratted her out (not me) because she is no longer with the company.

I just finished revisions for Allegiance, the sequel to Affliction and the editor, Fran, was a joy to work with. She included helpful suggestions and was more than willing to listen if I didn’t agree with her. Hopefully, the book will be better with her help.

Until next time . . . Marilee

Friday, July 22, 2016

My Super Market Moment

First off, let me emphatically state, I am a person who should sing in the shower, not in public. This doesn’t mean I don’t sing, especially if it’s one of those songs. You know what I mean. Everybody has one—perhaps even two or three—a song you simply can’t resist. For me, it’s Foreigner’s I Want To Know What Love Is. It doesn’t matter where I am or who I’m with. I take a big breath and let ‘er rip. Apparently lots of women feel as I do about this particular song. Hence, my super market moment.

Normally, I pay no attention to the background music as I browse the aisles of Safeway. All I want to do is grab the items on my list and get the heck out of the store. On this particular day, I was in the produce section when, hark! My song was playing. I tried to fight it. Truly, I did, but when I heard Lou Gramm’s soulful plea, his search for love, his desire to change his lonely life, it was all over. The chorus was coming up. I tried to resist, but the lyrics were bubbling up inside of me, demanding to be set free. Clutching the handle of my grocery cart, the song burst from my lips and I warbled, slightly off-key, along with Foreigner. I want to know what love is. I want you to show me.

Guess what happened next? Two other women joined in. Not only did they sing-along, they used various and sundry vegetables for make-believe microphones. One woman selected a cucumber. (Hmm, a little too phallic for me) I reached for a parsnip, but then thought, “Maybe I’ll have to buy it and I don’t like parsnips,” so I settled for an ear of corn.  The other lady grabbed a bunch of carrots. We sang. We swayed in sisterly solidarity, swept away on the wings of emotion. When we finished, the kid stacking bananas clapped for us.

Do you have a special song that goes to a deeply held emotional place and insists you sing along?