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 Marlamiller.com)

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 jmpowersromance.blogspot.com. 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 Marlamiller.com)

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!