Sunday, April 27, 2008

So Freakin' Hot

The thermometer reads 98 degrees today, but I swear it's closer to 120.

If I have to suffer through "dry" heat like this in APRIL, then I sure as heck better be staying here:

(photo credit:

And doing this:

(Courtesy of

I'm just saying...


P.S. I've always considered myself a bit of gambler, ready to jump into a project or business venture with both feet--not certain of the outcome. Yes, I'll work damn hard to get the results I want, but I'm not afraid to take some risks along the way.

So what about you? As a writer, do you consider yourself a gambler for pursuing a career in publishing?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Hi everyone,
As a lot of you are getting ready to send your stories out, I thought this online class might be something you'd be interested in: Q IS FOR QUERY, A IS FOR AAACK! with Laurie Schnebly Campbell.

With writing conferences and contests in full swing, this really seems like an appropriate class! Especially if you're in the AAAACK! stage! LOL. Um, can you guess where I've been a couple of times? I think perhaps we've all been there.

Anyway, this is only a 2-week class this time, so it's less expensive. And feel free to pass the info on to friends and loved ones. :-)

Also, if you have any online writing classes (or contests!) that you would love to see promoted, please feel free to e-mail me and I'll be happy to post the info here as well!

Good luck with your writing!


P.S. To email online class and/or contest info, please e-mail me at: michele (at) michelecwiertny (dot) com

**********Permission to forward***********

May 12, 2008- May 23, 2008

with Laurie Schnebly Campbell

Why is it so hard to write a query letter? Well, because an author’s entire career depends on the response!

That may be a slight exaggeration, but it doesn’t make the job any less daunting when a writer who routinely creates lyrical prose is suddenly forced to create a sales tool. Sitting down with the editor or agent in person for a two or three-hour chat might do the job faster, but since that isn't always possible, it's important to have a sales tool that covers the same material in just 250 words.

Find out how to craft a query letter for ANY set of circumstances:

• Approaching an editor or agent who judged your entry in a contest

• Meeting ‘em (by plan or accident) at National or a local conference

• Picking a name at random (and why this should be a last resort)

• Switching from non-fiction to fiction writing, or vice versa

• Capitalizing on a recent success with this manuscript or another one

Since most writers aren’t the naturally outgoing type, convincing someone to request a manuscript -- even in a letter -- doesn’t always come as easily as creating fascinating plots and characters.

This workshop shows how to make writing the query a whole lot easier than writing the book, complete with critiques for randomly drawn people willing to share their work.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Laurie Schnebly Campbell used to wish she could write books as easily as she wrote query letters, and wondered why other writers found sales pieces so challenging. Then she realized that queries come naturally to anyone whose day job is in advertising, and felt a lot less smug. After her second novel beat out Nora Roberts for “Best Special Edition of the Year,” Laurie started teaching writers what she learned from her day job and from her master’s in counseling. She loves teaching anyway, but the side benefit is that it gives her an excuse to avoid cleaning house!

Enrollment Information
COST: $10 for OCC members $15 for non-members
Click here for more information.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Brenda Novak's Online Auction to Benefit Diabetes Research

Brenda Novak will be holding her 4th Annual Online Auction May 1st-May 31st. Every year, this auction raises quite a bit of money for diabetes research, and this year the goal is $300,000. Brenda started this auction because her son has juvenile diabetes and it's something that's a constant presence in their lives.

Adult-onset diabetes (Type 2) runs in my family and I watched my grandmother suffer from it. It's the main reason I was determined to lose 50 pounds...A goal that took me years to reach, but I finally did it. (Other reasons were high blood pressure and cholesterol.)

HUNDREDS of fantastic items are up for auction: trips of a lifetime, jewelry, gift baskets, lunches with editors/agents/authors, evaluations by editors/agents, books, purses, and more! There's something for everyone.

So be sure to check it out! :-)

Oh, and the video below is of Brenda talking about why she became a writer (a frightening story for parents!) and the auction for diabetes.


The following is from Brenda Novak's auction website:

"I'm currently adding items (along with my Canadian friend, Lauren Hawkeye, and my assistant, Anna Stewart) that will be up for auction when the Fourth Annual On-line Auction begins May 1st. As you can tell from what's already listed (and we have a lot more to go), it's going to be the most amazing auction yet. Please put it on your calendar. As usual, it will run May 1-May 31st right here at Help me double what we raised last year (which would be a whopping $300,000!!).

"Thank you to all those who make this happen each year--to my donors for their generous support, to my bidders for participating and making it so worthwhile. What an inspiration you have all been. I have no doubt that our efforts are making a difference!!

"Once again I'll be offering some fabulous prizes to the person placing the highest number of bids over all (even if that person doesn't win a single item). This year it will be a brand new Camcorder (retail value of at least $1,000), Your Name In My Next Book, an autographed copy of TRUST ME (6/08--the first of The Last Stand series), and chocolate (lots of chocolate)!

"New this year: The first $150,000 in auction proceeds will go the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the balance will go to the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami.

"I'd like to extend a special thank you to Abbott Diabetes Care, Harlequin Enterprises, Publisher's Weekly, RT Book Review Magazine and Writer's Digest Magazine for their generous support of my efforts."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Won't you join me?

Hi guys,

It's the 12th of April already! Sheesh. I swear the weeks pass by faster and faster every month. Anyway, I'm over at A Slice of Orange today and I have a question for everyone, published, unpublished and soon to be published, about whether to post excerpts of unpublished manuscripts on websites while querying agents and editors...And I'd love your opinion! What are the pros and cons of doing so?

So, won't you please join me?

Hope to see you there!


UPDATED TO ADD: Since the blog article after mine was posted just before midnight on the 12th, I'm adding the link to "A Writer's Pursuit...Of Answers" here (makes it a little easier to find since we have the same date now). :-)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Still Searching for the Magic

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I begged my parents for a Wardrobe. Even now, I’m drawn to Armoires in antique stores, but I’ve yet to discover a magical one. C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe was the first story I’d ever read that absolutely demanded I lose myself in a fictional world. Starting at about the age of nine (maybe eight-and-a-half), I had to find a doorway to Narnia. Every night, I prayed for the chance to enter that world, and every morning, I searched the walls of my walk-in closet. But the only way I was guaranteed to enter this enchanted land was by reading and re-reading all seven stories in the series, The Chronicles of Narnia, which I did about a hundred times.

I longed to join Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, the English children. I wanted to be their friend--especially Peter’s. You see, the High King Peter, which he becomes after he helps defeat the witch, never makes a lucky girl his queen in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, so I’d decided that I would be his perfect match. And yes, thank you, we did make an impressive couple. ;-)

Religiously (pun intended), I’d curl up in my bed and read those tales, and my parents knew I was not to be disturbed. They respected my reading time for the most part, except when I neglected to do my chores.

That’s the type of story I strive to create, no matter what sub-genre I write. That’s the kind of magic I want to possess—the ability to build a world with characters in which the reader wishes they were her friends, wishes they were a part of her family. A story so well written, a plot so engaging and thrilling, that the reader doesn’t ever want to leave.

The new movie version of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian hits the theaters in May, and the trailer for it looks purty darn fabulous! Even better than the first movie.

It's been a crazy amount of time since I've read the books, though...I wonder if they still hold the magic I remember?

What stories made you realize you wanted to be a writer? Or showed you the power of storytelling, whether in novels or films or whatnot?


P.S. Below is the trailer for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

P.P.S. I know somewhere I posted an entry about the Chronicles of Narnia when the first movie was released, but it's not on this blog...Perhaps I posted it on the now defunct Writer's Vibe? Anyway, if bits of this look familiar to you...that's probably why. :-)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Mmmm...Real Homegrown Spaghetti

I'm sooo going to Switzerland for the annual spaghetti harvest! Thank goodness they took care of those darn weevils. ;-)

Here's the BBC clip from April 1st, 1957 that was mentioned in the flying penguin post last week. I love YouTube! Thanks again to Stevyn for bringing it to my attention.

I'm a writing fiend this week, so my posts are a little short and sweet. I'm polishing a query and proposal and am readying everything to send this story out the door. Woo-hoo!

Where are you at with your writing? Any news to share?

And if you could have a spaghetti tree, would you want one? Or one that grew something else, something outrageous?


Thursday, April 03, 2008

In Bloom, Dragonflies & Bloomin' Monkeys

So after we returned home last weekend from our trip, I was thrilled to find Spring had arrived in our garden. Look, flowers! Kaffir Lilies, Azaleas, Ajuga "Chocolate Chip" Bungleweed, and some greenery that I have no idea of the name (It just grows...Like magic!). Sorry.

Okay, full disclosure here. I can't even take credit for the blooming garden. I'm fantastic at killing the plants. on. I can do it in two, maybe, three weeks flat. My husband, on the other hand, has a green thumb and the patience to go out in the back and pull weeds, tend to the plants and flowers, and make sure they have the proper nutrients. Me? Not so much. I'd tried it for years and years and the results are horrific. Those poor, poor little guys. May they rest in pieces.

In this house, we just don't talk about those times. Instead, we have a garden like this:

For the past couple of years we've had visits from butterflies, dragonflies, hummingbirds, lizards, ducks, and monkeys. Well, okay, no monkeys. I can't back that up.

But we did have one of these, a Great Egret, that flew in from the wetlands and landed in our water feature:

(photo credit: Frank Dutton, 2004. Courtesy: Northwoods Wilderness Recovery and

The Egret flew away before I returned with my camera, so I don't have a pic of that exact bird.

Oh! But I can attest to the wild pack of Chihuahua-Corgis roaming through the jungle in the back. (Just the one, really...caught me again.)

I always say I'm going to sit outside, enjoy the view and write. But then I get distracted by EVERYTHING. Yes, I have issues. I need my quiet space, with my writing music playing low in the background, in order to settle down and dig into a story, to lose myself in the fictional world. If something flies overhead or a dog barks or I think I see a monkey out of the corner of my eye, I'm instantly pulled out of the story and it'll take me too long to forget about the real world again.

How about you? Can you write at the beach, at the park, in your garden? Are you looking forward to Spring?

Take Care,


P.S. A video of another visitor to our garden: the largest Dragonfly we'd ever seen.
Music: "Wish I Would See You Again"
By Philip Glass from The Illusionist Motion Picture Soundtrack.

Visitor from eric cwiertny on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Online Class: Getting It Right With Your FBI Law Enforcement Hero/ Heroine

Here's the info for an April online class: "Getting It Right: Real-Life Detail For Your FBI Law Enforcement Hero/ Heroine." It's being taught by former FBI Special Agent and current PI and author Rae Monet. I thought some of you might be interest, so I pasted the workshop details below. And please feel free to pass along the information to any interested parties. Sounds like a fascinating class!

Hope your writing is going well!


*************Permission to forward***************

"Getting It Right: Real-Life Detail For Your FBI Law Enforcement Hero/ Heroine" with Rae Monet
April 14 , 2008- May 11, 2008

Enrollment Information:

COST: $20 for OCC members, $30 for non-members

Enrollment deadline: April 12, 2008
If you have specific questions, email:

Do you wonder what your law enforcement hero/heroine should act like? What type of equipment do they wear? What type of gun do they carry? What type of regulations laws and procedures bind them?

Rae Monet, former FBI Special Agent and current PI, will review the Federal Side of Law Enforcement with the History of the FBI, facts and figures, how to become an Special Agent, jurisdictional authority issues and statutes, talk about how FBI agents liaison with local law enforcement, evaluate your questions/scenarios, give you the day in the life of an FBI agent, and talk about equipment an agent would use, among many other subjects.

Rae Monet is a multi-published, award winning, sensual romance author. She is a former Air Force NCOIC administration with the Office of Special Investigations, former FBI Agent, who worked Violent Crimes Major Offenders and the Cyber Squad. Rae has a BA, MA in business and is also a licensed PI in the state of California.

********permission to forward*********

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

So THAT'S How They Get There...

Thanks, BBC and Terry Jones, for this enlightening discovery! ;-)

And a big thank you to Stevyn Colgan for bringing the amazing flying penguin colony to my attention yesterday. Consider my horizons broadened. LOL

He also told me that the BBC has a long tradition of pulling April Fool's pranks on its audience, dating back to the 50s when they nearly convinced the viewers that spaghetti grew on trees. Thanks for trivia, Stevyn!

Oh, and before I forget...If you're a fan of the stop-motion filmmaker Ray Harryhausen (Clash of Titans, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, One Million Years B.C., and more) be sure to check out this post because Steyvn had the opportunity to interview him at Mr. Harryhausen's house! It's such a cool story!

Okay, so back to April Fool's Day...Anyone have any good pranks they want to share? :-)