August 30, 2011

Reality? What’s That?

   I write in chaos. The phone rings, kids shout, someone belches the ABC’s, my laptop catches fire, but I am unaware of it all, because I am writing. Okay, so I made up that thing about my laptop, but it got your attention, right?
     That is what writing is about, getting your attention—and keeping it. I must have the same kind of focus to do that. I delve so deeply into my story that you I no longer hear what is going on around me. Yeah, most call that losing touch with reality, but I see it differently. I block out the world long enough to allow an idea to unfold and create a new reality.
     My latest release, Basket of Hope, should be unbelievable due to witches, warlocks and the magical world they live in—but it morphed into plausible while I wrote. Why? Because of the emotions from my characters Kara and Machias. The magic became secondary once I grew to care what would happen to them.  These two characters grabbed my attention, and I watched them fight for what they wanted.  Some call that crazy talk, but. I’m wagering every writer relates. At least I hope they do. (Anyone from Battysville General need not comment.)

     How do you feel about this subject? Do writers really need to delve into the depths of the worlds they create for their characters? Is it necessary to shut out reality for a little while so the author can spark the imagination of their readers?  Chime in and let me know what YOU think. 

I guest blogged this 8/15/11 on another blog..

July 25, 2011

Hook Up a Trailer and GO!

      I took a scenic route on my road to publication and watched a few book trailers to give my frayed mind a break. It inspired me to make one of my own. Lordy, what a long detour that turned out to be. I figured I could just whip one up like a batch of Sunday waffles at a roadside cafĂ©, but creating a book trailer is no easy task for an amateur like me. Though I only hold a learner’s permit in this field, I’m imparting what I gleaned through trial and error, so it’ll be a little smoother for anyone embarking on this road.
            First, watch a slew of trailers. There's many on YouTube.  Note what you like: Style of script, dialogue, effects, transitions, music, etc. Next, jot down your dialogue; a visual book blurb so to say. The whole reason for a trailer is to pique interest. Rocking graphics, cool music and neat pictures are fantastic, but if you falter on the dialogue, no one will want to read the book.  Just like a blurb, you want to give just enough information about the story.
            If you don’t have a movie maker on your computer, there are free choices to download. Windows movie maker live is my favorite. I find it easy to use.
            Next, assure your pictures are royalty free. The best site I found is Be sure to give them credit on your video. Where you choose to place a book cover is up to you. I usually place it in the first frame, then again at the end, before credits. Don't forget to supply purchasing links in the end credits.  
            I like the effect of dialogue on the picture, but everyone has their own style. Photo duration varies due to amount of dialogue—but I suggest 5 to 8 seconds per photo. Don’t put too much dialogue on a frame—you don’t want your reader rushing through it.
            After you have the pictures and dialogue in order, add background music., a site by Kevin MacLeod, offers many styles and only asks you mention him in credits. He sorts choices by style, mood and tempo and downloads are free.
            Have a few trusted individuals view your finished product before posting it—the feedback is invaluable, as they will be able to tell you of any problems. My greatest flaw is time limits on the frame.  I know what it says, so I don't realize how long others need to read it. 
            There are defaults built in to most video makers—duration fades, and fitting the video time to music, so as a beginner, you may wish to use these. Spread a project over a week or so.  Why do I suggest this? Well, your other choice is to follow my initial path--the one I followed out of ignorance.  I basically chained myself to the computer for so long my butt went numb and my eyesight began to blur.  I finished my book trailer in a day, but with a price.    When I stood, I looked like a question mark, much to my family’s amusement. My three-minute video required at least ten hours of work, not the hour or two I thought it would take. 
            Book trailers are a great marketing tool. Posting on social networks, blogs and YouTube are just a few places to post.  I’ve created three book trailers, and learn more with each one. Hopefully, these hints encourage you to hook up a book trailer to your laptop and journey through your next writing journey—without the wrong turns. Working together to create something worth watching is what I hope to accomplish here—I’m just getting the film rolling. (pun intended)
            I’d love to hear from others on this subject. I'm SURE someone knows more about this than I do. Even one helpful hint helps a newbie. The old saying, ‘What goes around comes around’, holds true. Besides, it feels good to help a fellow writer.
All my best to each of you,
J.M. Powers

Author Note: Though I mention several sites, I’m in no way trying to “sell” you on them. I’m merely sharing ones I found useful.

July 15, 2011

Basket of Hope book trailer

Hey all... what do you think of this book trailer? All comments and suggestions welcome! (and preorders are welcome too.)

July 12, 2011

Newest Cover Art for Basket Of Hope

After working with my cover artist, Victoria Miller, we made Basket of Hope look a little more "paranormal." It's amazing how a little bit of color and cool smoke will change a cover. Which do YOU like better?
Contest to win a free copy is coming soon. Follow this blog to stay updated!
Release date is July 22. Click here to preorder.

June 12, 2011

Cover Art~Basket of Hope~Breathless Press Publishing

The happiness of seeing my first cover (Stellar Surprise) still brings a smile even though that was over a year ago. Apparently that joy never dims with subsequent covers because I did a happy dance upon receiving this one the other day: 
Victoria Miller is the cover artist. She certainly worked her magic with this cover, which is quite fitting really, because there is a lot of mystical stuff going on between the pages. 

Victoria and I worked closely, but this woman took my suggestions and brought the characters from my mind's eye to a fantastic cover.

I bow down to her." Ah! Queen Victoria, you rule the world of cover art!"  (Okay, so she said I didn't have to bow unless I wanted to, but this artist rocks!)

In my opinion, cover art is a close second to signing a publishing contract. Please share what your top three joys are about writing. I'd LOVE to hear about them.
All my best to each of you,
J.M. Powers 

Rearview Mirror

Before I continue blogging about my road to publication, I want to thank Marla Miller for inviting me to guest blog on her site. Marla has a successful presence on the internet and the way she shares it with fellow writers is wonderful.

I always use the analogy of driving in this road to publication, but what should I do when my car stalls? That is where I am right now—with one of my books anyway.

Deep into content edits, a problematic issue came up. It was in the first paragraph and the vein of it continued through the whole chapter. I kept trying to “fix” it, but it was like going around a traffic circle without an exit.

Eventually, I thought of a remedy, and promptly sent it to my publisher. Within moments, my phone rang. My heart shot into overdrive upon hearing her voice.  My first thought was, what have I done wrong?

Other than panicking like a motorist with flashing blue lights in the rearview mirror, I did nothing wrong. My publisher didn’t issue a ticket, but she made it clear that my simple remedy would not work. Frustration set in, and no matter what I said, it came back to the same roadblock.  (Before you ask, not many publishers discuss things over the phones, so don’t expect that. Lucky for me, mine is very involved with her authors.)  After I hung up, I did exactly what she told me not to do—racked my brain for days, refusing to “leave it alone for now.” I thought up all kinds of scenarios, idling in the same spot until I ran out of gas. It was a useless venture. For some unknown reason, I thought edits would go smoothly and quickly. They don’t, so refrain from making the same assumption.  Rest assured, problems will resolve with patience and perseverance. I see that now.

 Remember this while going through the tedious editing process: Listen to the editor, even when you’re tempted to do a u-turn instead of moving on. Learning from my fender bender is invaluable—and really, the only thing I can offer you at this point. That’s the main reason I write this blog. I’m inviting every writer to merge into my lane—letting them in (so to speak) on a few things I’ve learned.

Now, I know I’m not on this road alone because I can see major traffic in the writing world and I’d love to hear from others’ publishing experiences. Please leave a comment and tell me about your writing travels and mishaps. 
My best to you all,
J.M. Powers

May 17, 2011

Yeah, a funny thing happened on the way to Edit Land...

Just when I think I have a little ME time to work on edits ….

Each of my kids needs me to take them somewhere.

Dear hubby finally decides to tend the honey-do list.

I can’t concentrate with all the noise he’s creating.

The chimney has to be removed NOW?

Sigh! I have a flat tire.

This acrostic shows what most people outside the writing community think of edits--they don’t think of them at all.

My convertible isn’t in shape to transport on this writer’s journey with a flat. So, I open the trunk, shove aside the folder of edits and pull out a tire iron, (refraining from using it for anything other than its intended purpose.)

Though I prefer the world to revolve around me, I can‘t hog the fast lane, or road-rage others just because I have edits. Therefore, I fix the flat and park far away from the chimney. Next I load the kids into hubby’s old truck, and do taxi duty. Upon returning home, I help my husband break apart the chimney.

Busting a chimney is fun, by the way, and spending time with the man I love is a bonus. The flat ended up as a blessing in disguise. It made me realize how important it is to take a detour once in awhile. Destroy stress, and bind with loved ones because life goes on, edits or not. Though my first thought was to attack something other than the chimney, I ended up laughing about the situation. Laughter is just what I needed--that and a hug from a very sooty man.

Well, my dear reader, my tire is changed now and I’m heading back to edit land. To be truthful, I can’t stand this part of the journey, but like changing a tire, it is necessary. If you stay on this road with me, I promise to drive carefully, dodging unnecessary commas and excessive adjectives whenever possible. The ride may be bumpy at times, but it will end at the big town of Perfection, Publication and Party time. At that juncture in the road, I’ll send each of my followers an invitation to the party--and a chance to win a free copy of my books.

Author Note: Thank you to Marla Miller for having me as her guest blogger @

April 29, 2011

Another One For the Road

Two books are with publishers, ready for edits. I set up marketing tools while I waited for the next turn. The tank is filled with basic fuel. Now what? I rev my engines and take a detour. Sometimes this road to publication is lonely.

Sigh. I miss Ruby and Galeron from Jewel of Ramstone. I breathed life into those characters and through time, they took on a life of their own. I wrote about the next chapter in their existence for so long, they became a part of mine. Now, they're locked away in a manuscript, just waiting to be freed into a readers mind. Sound crazy? Well, only another writer would understand. That is why this road is lonesome.

I stop at a roadside diner, my fingers ready to tap out the ideas brewing in my mind. A new project is just what I need to ease the nagging loss after typing out the final words of a book. I walk in, smile at the waitress, and find a booth. The place smells familiar, reminiscent of childhood days, fresh pie and greasy burgers. I never said it was a healthy childhood.
With a fresh cup of coffee and the special of the day-- I can't make out exactly what it is-- I begin to write. The booth begins to fill with new characters and a smile tugs at my lips while I type.

I wonder if the characters emerging in this book will be good friends. It's kind of like my childhood, moving every couple of years. I quickly made new friends, but still cherished the old. I suppose that is the best way to convey the relationship I have with the characters I create. Call me nuts. I'm used to it.

Hours later, I thank the waitress for the umpteenth warm up on my coffee. I never found out what the special was because I was too fascinated with my character's idiosyncrasies to eat.

Feeling a bit guilty for taking up the booth for so long, I leave a hefty tip, gulp the last dregs of coffee and close my laptop. Hopping into my convertible, I steer toward the road to publication with a new outlook.

'The End' does not stop me. It keeps me going.

April 21, 2011

Don't Be A Man

Today, I received pre-edits from one of my editors. I didn't even know what pre-edits were, and truth be told, it freaked me out. Yes, I could have emailed my editor with the things I didn't understand, but I wanted to figure them out myself. (Okay, I admit it; I didn't want to look stupid.)

Double space manuscript--already done.

Italics for interior thought--Like this

Black text only --Why would anyone use another color?

I checked those off right away. (Made me think I was actually doing something other than avoiding the needed changes.)

I knew I was in trouble when I came upon these:

No singular character ellipses-- Uhh

No spaces between periods in ellipses--"That makes no sense--without spaces they would be a solid line. Right? " (I actually said this out loud, causing my teenage daughter to look at me weird--well, weirder than usual.)

I slammed on the brakes and started designing a website. Though I never created one, it seemed easier than pre-edits. Then, I remembered my deadline. So, I decided to skip the ellipses issue and move on.

Good or preferred vs. Common usage: refer to CMOS section 5.202

My heart began to ellipse … (do those ellipses have spaces? I'll never look at them the same.)

After regaining sanity, I decided to Google CMOS.

Chicago Manual of Style. Oh. I knew that. I panicked for no apparent reason. (The M in J.M. Powers now stands for melodramatic.)

Feeling a bit sheepish, I emailed my editor. She graciously explained everything I didn't understand. My sigh of relief was probably audible over cyber space, because she shot me another email while I scanned the list of things to do. She said to break each task down, and resist the urge to look at the next thing on the list. Oh. Following her lead, I finished everything in one night.

There are many turns in the road to publication. Today, I learned something new. If I quit acting like a man and ask for directions, it will make this trip a whole lot easier. Oops, I think I just bumped into an ellipse. (Oh, and they do have spaces--just don't put extra ones in there.)

Author note: For those men who do ask--sorry

JM Powers

Previously posted as guest blog on

April 11, 2011

Quirks of Querying...

(Week one, guest blog on

Querying is a part of a writer's life, and in my opinion the toughest part. Rejection is unavoidable, but knowing that does not make it easier.

Here is my experience with the process of querying--and how it led to publication of not one, but two books.

After jumping the hurdle of finishing a novel, I learned how to write a query letter. Polishing it to perfection, I applied suggestions from an editor friend. I even sent it to Marla Miller for a critique. After making a list of agents in my genre, I began sending out submissions.

Rejections came in many forms, from a NO, scribbled in the corner of my letter, to an encouraging note to keep trying.

Each time, I took another look at my query letter, tweaking it before sending out the next batch. Still, I found rejections in my mailbox--eventually expecting them to be there.

That is when I decided to switch things up. I stopped querying agents and began submitting directly to publishers. This took a great deal of research. I needed to find ones who accepted new authors--sans an agent. I read about how e-books are booming, and decided to look into that option. Agents are good to have, but are not a requirement for many publishers, especially in the growing field of independent or "indie" publishers.

I researched each publisher before submitting. Again, this takes time. I suggest you check each one through predators and editors, absolute write and writers beware. Next, personalize each query. What do I mean by this? Let me tell you what I did.

I took the extra time to visit each publisher's site, familiarizing myself with how they work, about their staff and the overall "feel" of their company. With the information I gleaned, I mentioned something personal about their site in my query letter. There was a particular site that didn't accept my genre, but I loved their attitude so much, I had to let them know what they were doing right.

They are the ones who not only offered me a contract, but also started a new line and expanded because I risked going against the rules. Now, I am not suggesting you go willy-nilly with your submissions. I'm saying, think out of the proverbial box. I knew I wanted this publisher, and in the end, they wanted me.

One week later, another publisher accepted a different book. Again, an independent publisher liked how I personalized my query.

Now, they accepted my book on its own merits, but the fact I got to "know" them, made my query stand out. I just had to give these pointers to my fellow writers. You are welcome to follow my road to publication at Call me your tour guide if you wish. I will point out all the sights on this journey… come along for the ride and learn with me.

(Author note: You can read more comments from readers on

pic courtesy of dreamstime

April 3, 2011

Marla's Blog

I just received a very encouraging email from Marla Miller of Marketing the Muse 

I will be a regular guest blogger on Marla's blog, telling about my journey into publication. The win-win situation is just an example of how the people in the writing world can help each other.

One thing stands out in the business of writing. The field is not competitive, it is a family. We help our fellow writers, and they in turn, help us. What a wonderful concept.

I am fueling up, and ready to take off. (In my fantasy, I can afford the fuel.) I don't mind a backseat driver, so hop in--And invite your writer friends!

March 29, 2011

On the road ... Again

Okay, I told you I would share my writing journey and wow, what a ride this is.

Key in ignition: A publisher accepts my novel, Jewel of Ramstone.

Turn the key: Sign the contract and start plowing through the paperwork.

Full speed ahead: My hair looks like it does in those shampoo commercials while it blows in the wind, (I have a convertible in my pretend world.)

Tune into country music: Singing at the top of my lungs, I press a little harder of the pedal to beat a yellow light. Checking my GPS, I take the first turn into the neighborhood of editors, proofreaders, and cover artists.

Slam on my brakes: And again, a publisher jumps into my path. Luckily, I have quick reflexes.

Said publisher sticks a ticket under my windshield wiper: Wait! That's not a ticket--it's a contract for my other book, Basket of Hope! (No, I am not kidding.)

I rev up my engines: Yeah, like in the fifties movies. Brrm … Brrumm.

I wave to my fellow Wench Writers: Nic, Rain and Pamela all hop in my convertible. (We're screaming like maniacs and pouring champagne on each other by now.)

I peel rubber: Gripping the steering wheel with a huge smile on my face, I listen to my wenches sing to the blaring radio. (Seeing as I am writing this, I just decided to add a hot guy for each of us--Jac, Galeron, Blake and Iain.) Um… this convertible is getting crowded.

This is just the beginning of the journey, and I'm not slowing down. If the authorities pull me over for speeding, I'll just edit that part out of my story. I am a writer after all.

February 9, 2011

New Blog Launch!

Join the wenches for the blog launch party on the 13th of February 2011 at 2:00 PM EST!

Meet the women behind the ink and take part in a giveaway. More info on the contest will be posted very soon.
Four Wenches met on a writing site, drawn there by their need to learn more and share writing endevours with others. As their craft and friendship grew, they wanted to form a sanctuary to share experience and knowledge. But most importantly – to talk about the thing that brought them together in the first place: Writing.
Wench Writers will feature giveaways, book reviews, and guest interviews of people in the writing world. For those wanting your work read, they'll hold contests for critiquing, so check out the blog and become a follower.

January 26, 2011

Turning down an agent? Really?

When I see red flags, I must halt, swallow hard and turn away from the thing I want most. Representation is key to publication. I want my full-length novel to be published, but not at the risk of someone taking advantage.

Here is a bit of advice to my fellow writers:

When an agent gives a time limit--such as only representing you for six months, wants to edit the manuscript for a fee, or offers a contract to sign when they have only read  one chapter of your manuscript, stop and take a deep breath. These are all red flags. Do not sign the contract, mark the agent off your list, and chalk it up to a learning experience.

Yes, I turned down the agent. I am still sending out queries, certain I will find a reputable one.