Publishing News!

*blows dust from blog page* Sorry it’s been a while. Life has been busy, but so much recent good news brings me back.

I’m getting Taking Lessons from Ernest published. A small publisher – WAMM – has agreed to publish my beloved Ernest and I am absolutely thrilled. It will be released around Christmas. More news on there wheres and whens as I have it. For now though, here’s my lovely new book cover.

And I have a shiny new author photo, taken by my son, Kyle.

The blog will be a bit different moving forward. Getting a book published is a lifelong goal, now achieved and I’d love to share all that comes after the acceptance here. As well, I have a good many author friends with amazing books I’d love to review here. I hope you stick around for the ride!


How Does Your Garden Grow

It’s been a good break! Longer than I expected for the internet break part of it, (for example I never meant to abandon facebook), but the break has done me well. My apologies, to my online friends and family; I disappeared almost completely from Facebook and Twitter.

You know the saying… “if you don’t have anything nice to say…”? That.

But here’s the good:

  • I’ve left Ernest alone, and feel good about that. Though today I had the urge to send out another query. Then I quickly put the thought out of my head. Not yet.  I need a bit more time away from queries.
  • The weather has been awful so I haven’t done nearly as much fishing as I’d have liked, but on the couple of outings I had, I caught 5 fish. Hopefully, I’ll have time to do some fish journaling in the next few weeks if the weather finally cooperates. Nothing quite so relaxing as fishing. At least to me.
  • I took a much needed break from Yet It Will Come edits. It was absolutely the perspective I needed. I had to get a new view of it and I could only do that by stepping away. Edits are in full swing now and I have high hopes.
  • I went to Vegas with some of my friends! A lot to be said for breaking from routine.                                                       and my biggest accomplishment,
  • My garden is planted! It’s a thing of beauty with tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, bell peppers, potatoes, canteloupe, vidalia onions, zucchini, and corn. I love my veggie garden so very much. It went in late this year because of the weather. It made me anxious and I worried if I didn’t get it in soon, I would be too late in the season for it. I was wrong about that. I think it went in at just the right time. The next day we got a rain and the plants should be rather happy with their plot of land.

I’m back now, though.  I feel creative. My insomniac-self is telling me I have lots to do and is pushing me to do it. All’s well.

Sorry for the long blog break. That saying above about not having anything nice to say? It applies to this blog, too. 🙂

Now, about those edits. I’m once again convinced that Yet It Will Come is my best work yet.  I’m pretty darn sure of it, in fact. I think it scared me for a while because I wasn’t sure I could really do it justice.  So that perspective really helped.

Right now Yet It Will Come looks like my garden plot did on Saturday afternoon, when the ground was finally all tilled up and the plants and seeds all put in rows. It’s full of potential, but not ready to yield.   It just needs time, nurturing elements, hardwork and patience.  I can’t wait to sink my teeth into the results.


How have you all been?

Question for you with the garden/writing analogy in mind: How does your garden grow?

get in it and get dirty?

pull the weeds?

store the over-abundant yield for long winters?

A Poetry Break and A Short Fiction Break

Atticus Books used a poem of mine on their website today. You can find it here.  A big thanks to them. I sent them several poems, and they picked one of my very favorites to share with their readers.

In other writing news, I’m going to ease up on myself with the queries for Ernest. It’s time for a little break. And I’m giving myself a break on the Yet It Will Come rewrite. I’m feeling the need for some short fiction love. Have a couple of story ideas brewing.  It’ll do the creativity some good to switch gears again. Have to do that to keep it fresh.

Also, writer friends, you really should check out JM Tohline’s blog. He’s how I first heard of Atticus Books, and he’s a very inspirational blogger.  He makes people feel good about their craft. I dig that. 🙂

Happy Thursday!


New Crafty Forum

The writing forum I belong to has many sub-topics with their own little rooms. They discuss everything from politics to tv, movies, food, sports, and many other things.

Writers, it seems, also do a lot of other crafty, artistic things, and a new sub-forum was born. Hands-on

Quilters, artists, photographers, knitters, woodworkers, you name it!

If you’re a crafter of any kind and like to write about it, share ideas, get ideas, or need to ask questions from people who know (whether it’s about refinishing furniture or the correct knitting technique), that’s your place.

I’m one of the moderators of the room, and thrilled to have it.  A place to chat with other crafty peeps is always good. It not only fuels my own experiments, but maybe I can help inspire others.

And if you want to turn your craft into writing (blog or non-fic) AW is a great place to blend both crafts.






Spring Fever and the DBC

It’s happening. This burst of warm weather last week and weekend has my gears shifting to spring.

I’m ready for grilling out, fishing, camping, gardening. I can just feel the warm sun on my face, see the fish rise out of the water on  my hook. Smell the campfire wood smoke, taste the garden-grown veggies.

When I started the blog last September,  I mentioned my love/hate relationship with the bait caster. I mentioned it again in Four-Uh-Oh.  It’s almost time for the experiment to start again.

Here’s what it’s all about:

Some women want to fish, they just don’t want a man to teach them.  Typically it goes like this. Here are some worms, and a hook with a bobber.  Bait your hook. Cast the line. Sit and wait. BORING! The first steps to fishing do not have to be worm-gut fingernails and sitting with a tight-line.  They really don’t.

So For a while now, every year, I try to gather more knowledge about fishing. I’ve learned a lot from Mr. Stew, but in an attempt to not stress him out I started teaching myself when I could. there’s a lot to this! Really. When you don’t depend on someone else to say, “in this water, you need to use a buzzbait, something bright, try this skirt, reel it quickly but steadily” or “dark plastics, let it sink before you reel it in, dance it around a bit while you reel slowly,” you have a lot to figure out for yourself. Like, what about this isn’t working? (is it the bait, is it where I’m fishing, is it just a bad day for the fish to bite? wrong weather, wrong time of day?) I think journaling those things will help me get a better understanding. (and will be quite laughable too. You know I’m sort of clumsy, right?)

First: learning the different types of lures. The trick to lures is knowing what types of fish, water conditions and weather call for which lure. I’m still not there yet. There’s a time and place for crank bait, spinner bait, plastics, jigs, buzzbaits, swimbaits, etc.

Second: each type of lure requires you to reel it in a bit differently, some need to drop to the bottom and you need to reel slowly, some require a bit faster reel, and in some cases, jerking the line to make the lure dance, some reel across the top of the water and need to move more quickly.

Third: different types of reels and different types of rods. I’m not good at this at all. I’d be perfectly happy to always use a little  Zebco “33.  And reels? Oh dear. That’s where the dreaded bait caster comes in.

I’ve spent more time casting and untangling a bird’s nest in the reel than I have fishing with a bait caster, though I have attempted it many times. I’ve never caught a fish on one because I have spent so much time untangling a bird’s nest in the reel that I’ve wasted a good portion of my fishing time with the line instead of with the fish. I’ve not had enough control in casting the bait caster and wound up losing a good lure in weeds and brush. (ssh….don’t tell Mr. Stew!) It’s my  nemesis of fishing. It’s the DBC (Damn Bait Caster)!

I decided a long time ago, (a couple years) that not only would I attempt to teach myself all I don’t know about fishing (with key questions directed at dear husband when necessary), that I would journal about it. This spring starts the fishing journal. What I used, how it went, what I learned, etc.

This is the year I figure out the bait caster. This is the year the fishing journal becomes my writing project. Perhaps the four-uh-oh list item “write the guide book for women who want to fish but don’t want men to teach them” will take shape this spring, summer, and into the fall.

I’ll still write fiction and query and all that, of course, but I’m very excited to see how this goes.  And I’ll be blogging about it, I’m sure.

Fair warning. Experimental Stew is going to be a lot about writing and a lot MORE about fishing over the next few months. It should be entertaining. I have a lot to learn.



Crossing the Online Divide

Some people don’t get it, so I want to try to explain the “writing friends” thing.

I write. So do a lot of people I know online. We belong to writing forums, we friend each other on Facebook, I even follow a few of them on Twitter. We know the big name Agents and follow their blogs together. We know each other’s haunts and read each other’s blogs. We cheer each other on with querying, editing, and writing. We beta each other’s novels and short stories. We have friends that have been published, and some who’ve got brand new shiny debut book deals.

I met a group of these writers when they came to St. Louis for a writing conference a few years back. We got together for a couple of drinks and dinner.

A small group of us hang out in a comedy forum. When real life gets crazy, a battery, a twisted bunny, a zebra, a monkey, a bug, an undead chihuahua, and a drunk fairy make me feel normal.

I’ve “Known” some people on line for years. I’ve met somewhere around 20 of these people face-to-face, in real life. I know…it’s like worlds colliding and stuff. Even the ones I didn’t meet in person have become personal friends I cherish.

I know last December some people questioned my sanity as I set off to Chicago for a long weekend to meet a group of writing people I know online. Prior to the trip, we all spoke on the phone, and had very regular contact, this was no random grouping of writers. They were already very-loved friends. After the trip, I missed them like crazy and we planned our next meeting.


In March, a  couple of those same people came to visit me for a weekend. They mixed with my local friends and now some of them are Facebook friends.

In June, a larger group, families included, went on a week long camping trip in Kentucky, forever to be known as Camp Runamuck. This brought another online friend into the fold.

In August, I met up with her and a couple more writing peeps at a writer’s conference called Killer Nashville.

The first weekend of November, two friends came to see me for my 40th Birthday. It wouldn’t have been the same without them. When we arrived at Tiny’s Pub, several people greeted Bug with a a very Cheers Norm welcome, “BUG!!” It’s a second home for her now.

Another trip is in the works for the beginning of next year, another go at Killer Nashville in August next year is slated as well. And my husband wants to take the whole family up to Minnesota to see our Bug.

These people aren’t just acquaintances. Online friendships can be as real as or more real than “real life” ones. In fact, I no longer add the disclaimer “online” to the word friend with them. Some people can cross the online divide and become friends for life.

There are very few ways I can blend all of the categories of my life. There’s work life, home life, family life, writing life, social life…the intersect and collide and sometimes get in the way of each other. But somehow, there are people who can cross those lines with you quite easily.  I have friends that aren’t online friends who cross with me to my writing madness, and my family life quite well. These two awesome ladies, got me my favorite birthday presents ever – and totally gave into my word-geek-ness! (they are also two of the best cheerleaders a girl could ask for on the trek to getting published).

When you hear me talk about Runamuckers, or writer friends, or see me talking writing on Facebook with a group of lunatics you don’t quite understand, that’s them. If you’re not sure you get why I’m taking a picture with a crochet monkey or a stuffed zebra, or why I have to buy things with LadyBugs on them…well, now you know.

I have several others on my list of “must meet” and more plans to blend my local friends with my far-away writer ones.

If I take off for a long weekend and reference animals in my plans, you’ll know, I’m off to get my fix! You should consider joining us. 🙂

Cool Hand Stew?

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is called what?

Insanity? Maybe.

In the movie Cool Hand Luke, Luke (Paul Newman) is boxing in the prison yard with a big bruiser of a guy, Dragline (George Kennedy) and is getting his butt kicked.

Dragline says, “Stay down. You’re beat.”   He wants him to stay down so he can stop pummeling him.

Luke replies,  “You’re gonna hafta kill me.”

Every time he gets knocked down, he gets back up again. Luke stands up and stands up and stands up.

So what’s it called if you do the same thing over and over again? Tenacity? Persistence? (in Luke’s case,  it might be pride and a death wish).

But if you’re a writer like me it’s called, “how to get published.”

Write, edit, polish. *repeat*

Query, query, query. *repeat*

Rewrite query, query, query. *repeat*

Agents and published authors alike tell us “wannabes” that the way to get published is to be persistent. To query widely. To re-evaluate and do it some more. Keep going and if it’s good, someone will want to represent it. Someone will want to publish it.

I have kept “doing it some more” for a long time. “…Ernest” has been queried to nearly 100 agents. The letter was all wrong for the first 40 or so agents. I got no nibbles at all.  I re-wrote it. I tried various letters for another 30 or so agents. I put it aside for a while. Something wasn’t clicking.

Then I figured the book needed something, so I did another re-write (my betas loved the rewrite).

Then I rewrote the letter to match the shiny new manuscript, and finally, bites. *Yay*

Three agents requested full reads and one requested a partial.

One of the three agents with the full sent me a rejection yesterday. It was a very pleasant rejection, but a rejection nevertheless.

I’ve not stopped querying, but you can only send a query to them for the same book once.  No do-overs. No mulligans in querying.  I sent 60 of them too soon.

So, my options are to

  • continue querying more agents with the letter that seemed to work,
  • start querying small publishers directly, or
  • put dear Ernest aside as “unpublishable” and finished the polish and query for “Yet It Will Come”.
  • hhmmm…or I guess I could query both books.

Yesterday I decided to start sending “… Ernest” to small publishers. I still have the tenacity and persistence, but maybe it’s time to lose the insanity. Maybe it’s just not a “big house” kind of book. That’s okay, though. I can live with that.

Yep. Just like Luke, I just keep standing up. A voice inside my head says, “stay down, Stew”. But I can’t.

Unlike Luke, I can’t win the game of publishing on a bluff.

Dragline: Nothin’. A handful of nothin’. You stupid mullet head. He beat you with nothin’. Just like today when he kept comin’ back at me – with nothin’.
Luke: Yeah, well, sometimes nothin’ can be a real cool hand.

But maybe, I’ll make a 50 egg bet and win.