The Bonding Spell is almost ready

CoverFinal-TheBondingSpellLike children, every book gets the loving care and attention they require, but try as you might, sometimes you can’t help but have favorites. Maybe it’s because some are easier to deliver than others, or maybe, with each birth, your latest becomes the favorite.

Whatever. I’ve never had children so I have no idea what I’m talking about!

What I can say is, I love The Bonding Spell.

I love all of my other books, but this one … well, there’s something about it that makes me feel some extra pride. I love the world, I love the characters and I love the potential for this series. There are so many places this storyline could go I’m having a hard time deciding where to take it next. I’m sure wherever it goes will be just as interesting as this first one. Continue reading

Cindy Young-Turner made a tough decision

Thief of HopeWhen Cindy Young-Turner finished her first book, Thief of Hope, she did what most authors do. She wrote query letters in search of an agent and was thrilled to find one. A few years later (yes, it can sometimes take that long) she found a publisher.

The excitement of hearing from your agent that you have a publisher is indescribable and can only be comparable to the day you open the box and hold your first book in your hands. It’s an awesome feeling and never gets old.

Unfortunately, not all publishers are created equal. The decision to break your relationship with your agent or your publisher, is a tough one, but one Young-Turner made, and she hasn’t looked back since.

I sat down with her to talk about the decision that changed her writing world and ask her about the status of her second book.  Continue reading

Baltimore Book Festival 2014

What a weekend! The Baltimore Book Festival was a bit overwhelming and a lot exhausting. As crazy as it was to get past the massive crowds and find a place to park, it was amazing to see so many talented authors of every genre imaginable all in one place. I loved the opportunity to meet and talk to other writers about their experiences, but by far, the best part of the weekend was the opportunity to meet and talk to readers. What a joy it is to watch a stranger purchase your work–people who don’t know me as a person let alone as a writer. People who don’t know the books and yet, they still take a chance and buy the work. It’s an amazing feeling.

I’ll write more about the experience soon. Until then, here’s a little gallery of photos from the event.

I changed my mind

change mindSometime ago I asked the question, To agent or not to agent?

At the time, (was it that long ago?) my agent and I had been relatively successful. We’d made a bit of money and I was still hopeful that some smart editor would read my mysteries and fall in love with my characters, my premise and my prose. I even wrote a series of adult romance novellas that I was sure would finally get me back into a traditional publishing house. The novellas were smart and good, I thought, and in the serial format that so many people want these days. Surely, someone would snatch them up.

After a long list of rejections, multiple rewrites and more rejections we did find a publisher willing to give my mysteries a try. I felt excited about being accepted finally, by a publishing house even though they were a small startup. The editor was experienced and professional, the previous projects they’d launched looked classy and interesting, and it felt good to know that this publisher was willing to take a chance on me.

In the end, I guess I just wasn’t willing to take a chance on them. I’d worked too hard, and waited too long and had nursed my projects so diligently that the thought of my books languishing away somewhere, unnoticed and unappreciated kept me up at night. It had happened to my first book ever published. I didn’t want to see it happen again.

I was left with a tough decision. Do I tell this person, my agent, the one that had been by my side this entire journey that I was ready to go it alone? After knowing that she’d worked so hard to find a home for my stories and encouraged me every step of the way that it was time to part ways?

I’d been saying for months, to myself mostly and to others when I had the courage, that if something didn’t happen by some date in the future, I would indie publish.  I kept changing that date in the future, moving the goalpost, still hanging onto hope, still thinking something different would happen.

Well it never did.

So, like thousands of people before me, I’m finally doing it. The good news is, I have so much material ready for print that I’ll spend the next few months simply preparing things for publication while trying to fit writing in when there’s time. By August, two of my mysteries, The Peacekeeper’s Photograph and The Sapper’s Tomb, will be published.  Sometime after that, the adult romance series of four novellas called Genuine Date, will also reach the market. And shortly after that, the third book in the Master Sergeant Lauren Harper series will be ready for publication.

Am I sorry that I started this journey by writing query letters and finding an agent? Absolutely not. As I said, we’ve had some early success with ghost writing memoirs and I would never have had those opportunities if I hadn’t been represented by one of the most patient, knowledgeable and professional women in the business. I still LOVE my agent. But I had to finally realize that a traditional publisher wasn’t going to get my stories. They weren’t ever going to agree that people who love mysteries might be intrigued by a smart, tough and yet feminine professional soldier who gets herself into and out of all kinds of interesting scrapes. My agent got it. The publishers didn’t.

So, off I go on my own. So far, it’s been an interesting, challenging and fulfilling ride. I can hardly wait to see how it will end.

Should women be in combat?

That's me on the left in basic training in July 1980. We'd just finished our first visit to the weapons range. I was feeling proud of myself. Notice the cigarette. So glad I quit smoking!

That’s me on the left in basic training in July 1980. We’d just finished our first visit to the weapons range. I was feeling proud of myself. Notice the cigarette. So glad I quit smoking!

Should women be in combat?

No.But neither should men be in combat. I hate that any American has to put on a uniform, pick up a weapon, point it at someone and kill them. The idea that we kill people for a political reason is abhorrent.

As much as I hate the idea, sometimes we are called to do exactly that.

My mother and father both served during World War Two. My father served by driving a tank. My mother served in stateside hospitals as a medical technologist. She never had weapons training and never had any field training. If she had been married, should would have had to ask her husband’s permission to join. If she had had a child at the time, she would have been disqualified to be a WAC at least until her child was fourteen years old.

By the time I joined in 1979, my opportunities in the military were much greater. I served in the same units with men. I deployed with them, I went on field training exercises, fired weapons, threw grenades, ran obstacle courses, wore a gas mask and chemical suit and lots of other things my mother could never do.

Still, my path was much different than my brothers who joined shortly after me. He chose to serve as an officer. I was enlisted.  He was infantry, became airborne qualified and ended his career in Special Operations.

Despite the changes between when my mother was in uniform and when I served, there were still lots of military jobs I was unable to do by regulation. Be in the infantry, drive a tank, fly an attack helicopter, be a Ranger, a Green Beret and many more. Secretary Panetta, with the sweep of a pen, has changed that.

The services will go through a period to decide exactly what jobs will now be opened to women. While they do that, I’m sure those in the men-only military jobs will come up with long lists of reasons why women shouldn’t be allowed to do them.  Like, that a woman doesn’t have the strength it takes to put a track back on a tank when they are thrown. A woman is unable to meet the physical requirements necessary to be a Ranger or a Special Forces soldier. Or a woman’s monthly cycle and her emotional swings will get in the way of her doing the job properly. All reasons I’ve already heard and I’m sure there will be many more.

I wonder how many of those same reasons were used when the opportunities my mother was denied were made available to the women of my generation. I’d bet we could dig up newspaper commentaries from the early 70s and republish them and save ourselves the time of hearing the familiar arguments.

Just as the arguments failed before, they will fail this time. Women can and should be allowed to serve in whatever capacity they desire and are capable of.  Any woman who raises her hand and puts on the uniform knows what she’s up against. She knows how hard it will be. She knows the conditions will be horrible, the challenges tough, the action deadly. She knows all of that and yet she wants to serve in combat anyway.

When our citizens want to serve their country in that way, how can we do anything but support them?

If we must go to war, if we must take up arms to protect and defend, then we should accept all of the help we can get, even from our women.


Writers Conference

A couple of years ago, I attend the Maryland Writers Association Conference and had a fantastic time. It was only a one day thing, but from beginning to end, it was simply a blast. I spent the entire day listening to people talk about how they write, why they write. I listened to panelists talk about what it takes to publish, what agents are looking for. I ate lunch with people just like me, who had written something but didn’t know if it was any good, didn’t know if they should even try to get it published. I learned I wasn’t alone in this strange world of writing.

Since living overseas, it’s been impossible for me to attend anything like that again. And since I now have an agent, I wasn’t sure what good would come of going to one. I’ll be moving back to the states in early October so I decided I needed to jump back into some writing networking. I’ve just signed up for a conference, this one three days long and sort of intimidating. There are tons of agents and publishers registered to attend. One of them is an editor I am working with on a non-fiction book. I want her to buy my fiction and I figured this would be a good way to finally meet her in person and try to get her to take another look at the stuff I REALLY like to write.

The conference is also holding a little contest and I’m submitting my book, “the Lethal Frame” in the novel category. I don’t think I’ll win anything, but my thinking is it wouldn’t hurt to enter since the judges will talk about what they’ve read. The contest calls for the submission of 4,000 words and since they don’t have a separate mystery category more then likely something very literary will win. Still, I figure it’s always good to have industry professional s reading your work. They will talk amongst themselves and who knows, maybe someone who knows someone, knows someone else who is looking for exactly the kind of thing I’ve written.

I added a link to the conference site here. The 18th Annual South Carolina Writers Workshop Conference is happening Oct. 24 through the 26th in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. If nothing else, the beachside time will be great. I’ll just be getting back to the US then after a year and a half in Asia. I think it will be a great way to get back into the writing world. I can hardly wait!
Hopefully I’ll see you there…

Characters are people too

Chances are, if you’ve ever allowed friends or family to read your fiction, they’ve wondered if one of your characters were based on them.

I sent a close friend a copy of my novel and she immediately assumed the person who was murdered—described as a relatively empty headed, annoying person—was herself. I had based the murder victim on someone I knew, but it wasn’t my close friend and I was surprised that she would see herself in the character.

I’ve also had family members ask me, “When did that happen to you?” Of course, the event may have loosely happened to me or to someone I knew, but I’m always shocked that people, knowing they’re reading a novel, assume that I’m writing a journal rather then a complete work of fiction.

One of the novels I’m working on is about three sisters, murder and an abusive father. I have two sisters who I know will assume the characters are all about them. My father, who will never read the book unless and until it’s published, will without a doubt, assume the story is all about him. He will be furious. He will also be wrong.

Part of my enjoyment in writing is to create things that I haven’t seen, to shape a world that I can control and to meet people I don’t know. I take a little bit of this, a little bit of that and mix it together to hopefully create something enjoyable to read. Parts of me, parts of my friends, parts of the truth and parts of what never would or could happen. I use it all.

And if anyone did ask me, “Is that character me?” and it was– I’d quickly and easily lie.