Ten Things Not To Do When Writing the Great American Novel

Since a lot of us share in the fantasy of becoming a world famous author, here is the Thirteenth installment of Ten Top Lists of What Not to Do by John W. Howell of Fiction Favorites at http://johnwhowell.com and Marie Ann Bailey of 1WriteWay at http://1writeway.com. These lists are simu-published on our blogs each Monday. We hope you enjoy.


10.  If you are writing the great American novel, do not begin your manuscript with the words, “It was a dark and stormy night.” These words have already been copyrighted by Snoopy and you could find yourself in a nasty lawsuit.

9.  If you are writing the great American novel, do not let your spouse read a word of it. Your spouse will want to protect you from yourself and make suggestions that could lead to annulment proceedings by both of you.

8.  If you are writing the great American novel, do not use your friends, neighbors or family members as easily identified characters. People tend to be a little touchy when they think you have exposed them for what they really are.

7.  If you are writing the great American novel, do not include sex scenes that at some later time you will need to explain “how you knew that” to your spouse. Even worse would be the question, “why haven’t we done that?”

6.  If you are writing the great American novel, do not tell anyone you are doing it until it is all done. If you talk too much, the people you tell will give you a number of stories that they are sure you can use. Even worse, you will have to listen to all the stories about how they are also going to write a book as if it is as easy as saying.

5.  If you are writing the great American novel, do not start replacing frustrated moments with food and drink. The frustration will continue but you might be in a position to need new clothes beyond your tattered trusted terry cloth robe for that book launch party. It could also be that you will need to seek help for your addictions.

4.  If you are writing the great American novel, do not assume everyone in the world is causing you to come down with a case of writer’s block. The interruptions are a way for normal people to test whether or not you are still of sound mind and body. The writer’s block is all you.

3.  If you are writing the great American novel, do not try and get your family to understand why you would rather remain behind to tap on your keyboard than to go to the movies, theater, restaurant, bar or sporting event. Simply pretend to have come down with a bout of the flu and let it go. You may have to create some unusual sounds, but as world famous author you can do it.

2.  If you are writing the great American novel, do not suspend normal hygiene routines. The wild eyed,  disheveled, evil smelling iconic view of an author is long past. If you are clean and look healthy, you will avert unusual questions not to mention a threat of intervention from loved ones.

1.  If you are writing the great American novel, do not let anyone tell you that you are wasting your time. The fact that you just might be doing so is nobody else’s business but yours. You will eventually reach your goal (or not), but at least it was you who had the faith to get there.

Inspirational posts now at the Rome Construction Crew’s new website!

Check out these two new inspirational posts–one by yours truly and the other by ever-thankful and always-awesome Pamela Beckfordhttp://www.romeconstructioncrew.com/  Consider becoming a member of the RCC and share your story of inspiration and motivation!

Weekly prompt: angst and longing in poetic form

New weekly writing prompt from The Community Storyboard!

The Community Storyboard

Weekly prompt: beginning tomorrow offer up your best poetic pieces with the theme of angst and longing. Any form of poetry is acceptable. To get things started, here is an offering from me:)

Imaginings of us together
Was only ever dreams
A haunted, desperate longing
Or now so it seems

Two flightless, sightless birds
Looking into the sun
Intent on holding on
Needing the warmth of someone

Now in the calmest hours
Before the day has dawned
I reach for you but you’re not there
In this violent stillness you are gone

Caught up in a whirlpool
Of tides that crest and fall
Struggling for oxygen
Making sense of nothing at all

You taught me about love and life
You taught me how to feel
And swiftly I reminded you
That what we had was real

From this endless ocean
I will now swim to the shore
Still echoing your…

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Meet Finnegan. Second Character Promo from “The Illusions of Eventide”

Frankly, Finnegan is … oh, what’s the word?… Hot!

...and then there was Sarah

FinneganMeet Finn. The loyal, man of the sea, has finally found the love of his life. He is about to discover that happiness comes with a price.

The Illusions of Eventide, book 3 in The House of Crimson and Clover, is slated for December 14th.

Add it to your Goodreads TBR here:http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18191030-the-illusions-of-eventide

New to the series? This is a great time to dive in!

St. Charles at Dusk (CC#1)
Amazon http://amzn.com/B005RT0ZKE
BN http://bit.ly/18Kzhsp

Beyond Dusk: Anne (CC#1.5)
Amazon http://amzn.com/B00EUI53IC

The Storm and the Darkness (CC#2)
Amazon http://amzn.com/B00DS86XU2

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Getting Real About Writer’s Burn Out and Social Media Demands

I have been going through what Cate has so neatly described in her post: I’m burned out. In my case, my day job has become more demanding which means: (1) I have less time during the work day to sneak-peak my blog, twitter, facebook, etc. and (2) I’m more often brain-drained by the time I get home. The idea of turning on my home computer is sometimes more than I can bear. So I’m taking much of Cate’s advice here: slowing down the blog, the social media, and making my life overall more manageable and fun. For me, when what I do is no longer fun (and that applies to my day job as well as blogging), then I need to stop and seriously consider what is wrong. Life is much too short to not be enjoying every minute of it. As much as I love my blogging and twitter community, I really don’t think that, on my deathbed, I will be wishing that I had blogged more 😉


Check it out! The RCC is back and it’s awesome 🙂

Writing Prompt: Autumn

My contribution to this week’s writing prompt–Autumn–at The Community Storyboard.


Autumn Memories

the air is crisp and seeps through my sweater and a flannel shirt to cool my skin

the leaves are bursting into a riot of yellow, gold, orange, magenta, blood red

all there is to eat is mulled cider and  pumpkin pie spiced with ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon

when I was a child, my cat would start sleeping with me again,

instead of spending her night roaming, hunting mice in the cornfields

dry, crunchy leaves raked into mountains in which my brother and I would hide,

waiting for the low rumble of our mother’s car as she pulled into the driveway after work,

jumping up and showering leaves on her as her tired feet carried her down the walkway

the thick sweet smell of candle wax and pumpkin pulp

the flickering light of jack o’lanterns peeking out from neighbors yards in the black of night,

their serrated smiles and angled eyes making me uneasy

Autumn was a pause in life, a time to let things go,

a time to enjoy the beauty of decay and death

Always confident that Spring would eventually come

Friday Feature: An Interview With Jade Reyner

Welcome to an interview with Jade Reyner, author of Twelve Days: The Beginning.  Jade also has a blog, Jade’s Jungle, at www.jadereyner.com where she takes you along on her “self-publishing safari”!

Jade Reyner

M:  Jade, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed.  I’m excited to be able to talk with you about your current novel, Twelve Days: The Beginning, as well as the two sequels I believe you have planned.

J:  Marie, it’s a pleasure to be here and thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me!

M:  Can I get you anything?  There’s a bit of a time difference between us so I think you’re in the right time zone if you want anything harder than tea.  Some sherry, perhaps?

J:  Thanks – but I am a true Brit, tea, tea and more tea.

M:  Wonderful!  I’ll make us a pot of tea, then.  Let’s sit here on my couch.  Don’t mind the cats, especially Wendy.  She’s young and quite curious.

J:  Oooh, is she the one that you rescued from the restaurant? I would love to do something like that. I hope she’s settled in okay.

M:  Yes, she has!  Thank you for asking.  OK, let’s get started.  First, let’s talk about your first novel.  How did you come about to write Twelve Days: The Beginning?  What was the impetus?

J:  This is going to sound odd but it just kind of ‘happened’. There are several events that have occurred throughout my life which I have used as inspiration but once I got started, the book really did write itself. I have always wanted to write a novel, it was on my bucket list so to speak and then after taking a Creative Writing course I decided to just sit down and give it a go. Twelve Days – The Beginning is the result.

M:  Of course, I’ve read your novel and thoroughly enjoyed it.  But I have to admit, I had read very few romances before yours and I was very surprised at the rather explicit sex scenes.  They were well-done, not at all gratuitous, but is it common for such steamy scenes to be in romance novels?  Or have I misunderstood your genre?

J: Yes is the short answer to that. Romance as a genre has probably evolved more than many in recent years and there are now distinct genres within the genre, if that makes sense. Twelve Days – The Beginning would sit at the erotica end of the spectrum and then your classic Mills and Boon would sit as far away from it as possible. There are a huge number of books that incorporate explicit sex scenes nowadays and I think that many women (and men) are more open about wanting to read these types of books. I tried very hard to make my scenes relevant however as I did not want to put the sex in just for the sake of it. I think that this development of the genre can only be considered to be a good thing because it allows authors more freedom if they wish, but it doesn’t take anything away from the classical romance which is still widely written and enjoyed.

M:  Thank you for explaining. I was also quite impressed with how you handle the issue of domestic violence in your novel.  As someone who has worked with victims of domestic violence, I thought your writing was spot-on.  When you began the novel, did you know that domestic violence would be part of the storyline?

J: I always knew that there would be domestic violence in the book, the issue that I had was how in-depth it should be explored because although it is a major storyline, it is in no way the sum total of Twelve Days. I did draw on some personal experiences to write the part of Elise (the female protagonist) and I am just really pleased that someone with your experience, found the scenes to be spot on. I take that as a massive compliment.

M:  (smile)  I do appreciate how you approached domestic violence in your novel. Let’s talk a bit about your next two novels.  I believe you have two in the works, based generally on the same characters as your first novel.

J: Yes, actually I have quite a few in the works, but at the moment I am nearly finished writing Twelve Days – The Future which is the sequel to Twelve Days – The Beginning. This is the final book covering the story of Elise and Vaughn and completes their tale which as anyone who has read Twelve Days – The Beginning will know, ends on a bit of a knife edge. There are many more twists and turns and the ride is in no way smooth, but I hope that readers will enjoy finding out how they both fare after what has been a hugely emotional journey for both of them.

I then plan to release two more books in the Twelve Days series which will be from two of the other major characters points of view and will cover the same twelve day period in which everything happened in the first book. I am planning to write both Twelve Days – Dale and Twelve Days – Cole as these are the two other major characters who I think readers have identified with.

I then have other projects which will move away from Twelve Days but the beauty of this series is that there are so many characters whose lives I can develop, and so it will be sitting there like my favourite slippers, to return to any time that I wish.

M:  Oh, I love that metaphor:  your favourite slippers!  That’s a wonderful way to look at one’s writing.  You know, so many writers are influenced by other writers.  Are there writers who have influenced you?

J: Whenever I get asked this question I would really love to say something profound but actually the answer is no. I do not really have any particular literary heroes as I enjoy so many authors for so many different reasons. I think the only book that I can really say stuck in my mind and made me appreciate the power of words was An Inspector Calls by J B Priestley which I read at school. I think that it is such an amazing and clever piece of writing and I try to emulate some of the style and the twists and turns in my writing. I would like to say though that since I have been on WordPress, I have been hugely inspired by all of the wonderful writers that I have met and connected with. You truly are the unsung heroes.

M:  I agree.  There are some amazing writers in this community.  What is a typical writing day for you?  Do you set yourself goals like word or page counts?  What needs to happen for you to say that you’ve had a productive and satisfying writing day?

J: I have a word goal usually. I try to do 4,000 words a day when I am on a ‘writing’ day and if I achieve that then I am happy. I have the morning’s only to write and so I have to try to fit in blogging, networking and marketing as well which we all know can take up a huge amount of time. There are days when I just don’t get any writing done and that is definitely not a satisfying day!

M:  Four thousand words is impressive!  You know, publishing, whether it’s self-publishing or traditional publishing, is very competitive.  Writers who are coming out with their first novels or short stories may feel  overwhelmed or intimidated by the marketplace.  Do you have any advice for writers who aspire to be published authors?

J: I think my only advice would be that they need to take on board just how hard it is. I know that I definitely entered this with my eyes closed but now I am so much more aware of what it takes to get the book from inside your head to the bookshelf. I would urge everyone to follow their dream and to keep at it and just to believe in themselves as that is the key. I would also say that you need to build up a good support network. Without you Marie and my other blogging friends, I don’t think that I would have come anywhere near as far as I have. You are all such a great inspiration and support to me. So thank you for that.

M:  Well, it’s truly been my pleasure to get to know you and read your novel and your blog.  I want to thank you again for taking the time for this interview.  I know I am one of many others who are eagerly awaiting the publication of your next novel.  I assume you will announce it on your blog, which again is Jade’s Jungle.  Would you like some more tea before you head back?

J:  Marie, it was my pleasure to be interviewed by you and I never say no to a cuppa! Thank you for a brilliant interview, I had a great time.

And yes, Twelve Days – The Future should be out towards the end of the year but please keep watching my blog (www.jadereyner.com) for updates.


Well, that’s it, folks!  My interview with romance author, Jade Reyner.  Be sure to follow her blog Jade’s Jungle and pick up a copy of  Twelve Days: The Beginning.  Please stay tuned for more interviews by 1WriteWay.

To get your own copy of Twelve Days: The Beginning, visit any one of these links:

Cover 2

www.jadereyner.com (follow the links from there)
Twelve Days – The Beginning. Amazon UK
Twelve Days – The Beginning. Amazon.com

The Druid asks the Questions – Marie Ann Bailey

An interview of me by the formidable D from The D/A Dialogues!

The D/A Dialogues

He flicked black hair from his eyes and straightened his bowtie. He could feel the heat rising from his collar and hoped he wasn’t blushing. Blushing would not be dignified. And he wanted dignity, perhaps even a little presence, when interviewing Marie Ann Bailey, writer and blogger extraordinaire at 1WriteWay.

D: Nothing about that is dignified, A.

A: Well, I’m not the one who wanted to present Marie with a bouquet of flowers.

D: Impossible woman. Is there something wrong with trying to impress a lady? She was gracious enough to allow me to interview her, again. Sheesh. Some people.

Without further ado (or interruptions from A), please welcome Marie Ann Bailey.

marie ann baileyD: Give those who may not know about your series, The Widows Club, a quick snapshot:

M: The series is about three cousins who grew up together, went slightly separate ways when they married, and then…

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Literature and Martinis

Ah, the martini!

Interesting Literature

The great American wit and man of letters, H. L. Mencken, memorably described the martini as ‘the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet’. If the sonnet was the pinnacle of European cultural achievement, then the martini was the transatlantic equivalent. This is by no means the only literary link this iconic American drink can boast. Why is the martini such a popular and esteemed cocktail?

For many readers and cinema-goers, the martini cocktail conjures up the world of America in the 1920s – the ‘Jazz Age’ – so vividly portrayed in the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Undoubtedly these associations go some way towards explaining the popularity of the drink in recent years. The Great Gatsby in particular, especially the recent film, with its party scenes, seems bound up inextricably with the image of the martini. However, martinis are never mentioned explicitly in the book, which is noteworthy given that…

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