Monday, March 26, 2012

My Thanks, a Road Trip, & the A to Z

First, I want to thank all of you who came by last week and spread the love at my happy news.
I've had 82 comments so far.  82!  You've all warmed this old gal’s heart, let me tell ya.

Anyway, this week, I’m away from home, on another college tour with my son.  We’re visiting three universities he’s been accepted to in Arizona.  And may I say how awesome it is to be out of that dreary Seattle gloom and rain?  We get only the occasional—like once every 3 or 4 weeks—sunny day, so I’m kinda lovin’ Arizona right now!

I did want to take a brief moment to thank two of my fellow Sapphire Star Publishing authors, Amy Gregory and Mandy Baggot.  Amy tagged me for the Lucky 7 Meme, which I just did here a couple of weeks ago.  And Mandy gave me the Versatile Blogger Award which I posted on here last August.  Also, my friend Lady Gwen over at Run Gwen Run gave me the Sunshine Blog Award, which I will tackle when I get back or sometime next month. That one should be fun since it's all about my favorites.  Thank you so much, ladies!  Please feel free to pay them each a visit.  They’re all talented writers. 

Lastly, I will be participating in the A to Z April Challenge beginning April 1st.  I’m #349 on the sign up list and I’m scared to death of this whoppingly huge challenge.  I will be posting everyday for the entire month of April, except on Sundays.  Besides the A to Z, I have revisions, and this time those revisions are for someone else, someone important—like my publisher, so while I will be visiting as many new blogs as I can during the Challenge, I might not have enough time to as visit many of my old supporters as I would like, but this is temporary.  I promise to be back commenting as soon as I’m done revising, which I hope will only take a week or two or three at most.

So far, I have only 15 days worth of posts for the A to Z, but I hope to be able to fit one in each day even while tackling revisions.  

If you are doing the A to Z, have you prewritten all your posts, some of your posts, or are you flying by the seat of your crazy-ass pants?  

Monday, March 19, 2012


I’ve been haphazardly blogging since October 2010.  That was right about the time I finished the first draft of my novel, THE MISTAKEN.  Once finished, I realized I wanted to possibly pursue publication.  Knowing nothing about the business, I set out on a long journey to learn everything I could.  Part of that was this notion of building a platform, hence my blog.

Along the way, I’ve met some pretty amazing people, all of you included.  This community of writers is like none I’ve ever seen before, or have ever been a part of.  You will never meet a more supportive group.  They’ve been there for me while I queried and revised, ad nauseum.  They’ve helped me keep my spirits up during the darkest moments, when I thought I’d never reach any of the goals I’d set for myself.

What kept me going—besides an extraordinary amount of ambition and desire—was the fact that, little by little, I saw writers I knew and followed land an agent, sign a book deal, or find publishing success.  It was heartening to know the dream could be realized, that hard work could pay off.  Now, after two years, I’d like to share my good news with all of you:



Yes, it’s true!  But, just like everything else I do, it wasn’t through “normal” channels.  You see, I’m a DIY girl.  But I still wanted the traditional experience, to be traditionally published.  Yeah, I needed that validation.  But, though I still have several fulls and a few partials still floating around out there, I was not thrilled about restarting the querying process after a nearly nine month hiatus.  And I was never going to self-publish.  It’s just too much work, and I know nothing of that sort of thing. 

So I decided to query a small press, a start-up newly formed over the notion that authors truly matter, that books need fresh, tech-savvy marketing and promotion from their publisher, someone who understood the e-book revolution (and wasn’t under the Department of Justice’s scrutiny.)  With the DOJ attacking the agency model and e-books the wave of the future, I felt the direction of this small press was just the thing for me.  So I submitted a query to them, and they requested my full manuscript.

Of course, if you read my posts here and here, you’d already know it hasn’t been smooth sailing.  I had to overcome a significant obstacle.  You see, my protagonist does a very bad thing, and it was hard for the publisher to get behind that.  So they rejected my manuscript but said they’d be willing to reconsider should I ever make revisions.  I offered a compromise if they’d allow me the same.  Upon that offer, a deal was struck, and, while I did compromise, I don’t feel I had to compromise on my vision or on the story overall, its theme and journey.  That will all remain intact.  So, while I never did restart querying, and therefore never landed an agent, I did follow in my blogging buddy, Alex J. Cavanaugh’s footsteps. 

I got myself a publisher!

...without an agent.  I realize it’s not for everyone.  Would I like to have an agent?  Sure, who wouldn’t?  They work hard for their clients.  And maybe someday I will go that route, if I really need to.  But I accomplished what I wanted, what I would have hired an agent to do.  I saw Alex’s success and knew it was possible, so why not at least attempt the same route? 

Sapphire Star Publishing has made me feel welcomed into their new and growing family of authors.  They have a vision I can stand behind and feel proud to be a part of.  They embrace new technology, as well as the mainstream.  My book will be published in both e-book format and as a trade paperback.  They will be teaching me the ins and trends of marketing, how to promote myself and my book, and, most excitingly, how to use Twitter!  YAY!!

I do Tweet, but I’m not very good at it.  I only joined in because my friend, Jennifer Hillier twisted my arm, but I can see it is an integral part of the publishing business now.  So if you Tweet, find me here @NancySThompson.  Or if you Facebook, visit me here

When I shared the news with Jenny Hillier the other day, she said to me, "There are many paths to publication."  And you know, she is so right.  Well, I’d love for you all to accompany me on the next phase of my journey, because, even though I found a publisher, the adventure has only just begun.

And most importantly, if you’re still in the trenches, remember, if I can do it, so can you!  

My first novel, THE MISTAKEN, an adult psychological thriller,
will be released by Sapphire Star Publishing on October 18, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Big Announcement Coming!

What's this?  A tiny little post?  From me?
Yes, yes, I can be brief when I want to.

Just wanted to tell you all to stay tuned for my
coming Monday, that is,
unless you already saw it on my Facebook page! 

Oh, and uh...
Happy St. Patty's Day!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Advantage of Critique Partners

Anyone who knows anything about me knows just how much I value critique partners and beta readers.  I never knew about either of these two years ago when I started writing my first novel.  It wasn’t until I finished and decided I might like to publish that I discovered the need to have others evaluate my work. 

At first, I gave my manuscript to a nearby friend who offered me only limited feedback, saying it was good, but sagged a little in the middle.  I passed it to another, an attorney and avid reader.  He awarded me with considerable praise, though he always believed I would have to compromise on the “terrible awful” thing my protagonist did.

That was all good, and I enjoyed what they had to say, but I needed someone who could really help me understand the mechanics of the story and tell me how well I accomplished what I sought out to do.  That’s when I discovered Nathan Bransford’s blog, and through it, my soon-to-be best friend, Lisa L. Regan

She was interested in exchanging manuscripts and I jumped on the chance, particularly since our stories ran along similar lines.  Well, that was a humbling experience, to say the least.  Lisa is a highly educated and experienced writer, and her writing and story blew me out of the water.  But it was those very qualities that helped me both expand and improve my writing and story. 

Frankly speaking, I’d be a big, fat loser without her.  She is an absolutely amazing writer, and a particularly dedicated critique partner.  She helped me add layer upon layer to my story, all the while telling me how amazed she was as my raw talent, which seriously boosted my morale and intention to see the process through to the end.  The best thing was, we became as close as sisters.  Maybe even closer.

As good as that experience was, I still needed a wider perspective, so I searched for more critique partners.  I found quite a few, and each had wonderful things to teach me and therefore add to my story.  It became richer and fuller after each critique, and all the while, I was querying and submitting, even though my manuscript wasn’t quite there yet.  Close.  But not quite.

Then I met Jeff O’Handley, The Doubting Writer.  After reading one of his posts, I offered to critique for him, if he wanted to share.  A few weeks later, we exchanged manuscripts.  Again, here was someone whose skill far, far surpassed mine, and whose story, though of a more literary bent, intrigued and enthralled me.  I learned a lot just from reading his novel.  And what’s more, Jeff, ever tuned into what the characters were feeling, pulled more out of me than I ever imagine possible. 

It wasn’t until after Jeff’s critique and my subsequent revisions that I thought I was finally and completely ready.  But even though my query was also revised and ready to go, after several prior months of querying, requests, and submissions, my head just wasn’t into it yet.  I did, however, query a small press who requested my full.  I received a response that excited me, but also had me questioning that “terrible awful” thing my protagonist did and if sticking to my guns was worth it.  My reaction?  I asked a couple other writers to read it and give me their honest opinion.

One of those writers was Carrie Butler, and let me tell you, though I’ve been a follower of hers for quite some time, I never knew just how talented she really is.  She agreed to read and evaluate my manuscript, and, since I offered to read hers, she passed her manuscript along to me, as well.  This woman has a flair I cannot even label, let alone describe.  Her writing and story are just so completely…accessible, so easy, so fluid, and, well…yummy.  Yeah, that’s it.  It’s just so damn yummy. 

I’ve never read anyone who can write dialogue like Carrie does.  It’s about as real as anyone could ever make it, without any useless words.  And she doesn’t really use any tags, only perfect incidental action to invoke movement, emotion, and tension.  But her greatest skill is her use of voice, and the voice in her novel is magnificent, full of vitality and personality, spark and spunk.  I couldn’t pull off in a million years what she did with her novel. 

All in all, I learned I have a tremendous talent at picking the best critique partners out there.  They have each taught me things I never could have learned from a class or a book.  Each time, I’ve come away feeling a better writer for having not only their critique of my novel, but from reading their stories, as well.  In fact, I feel quite inferior and all too envious of their exceptional skills and talent.  I can only continue to study their manuscripts and cull as much knowledge as possible from each of their areas of expertise.

So if you’re thinking whether or not you should ever use a critique partner, my advice is: hell yes!  I know it’s hard to put your stuff out there, to make yourself vulnerable.  God knows, I had one CP experience that scarred me, but in the end, although he was mean, he was also right.  So...


Monday, March 12, 2012

I've Been Tagged! The Lucky 7 Meme!

I‘ve had an exciting last few days, but now it’s Monday, time for a little fluff.

It seems, I’ve been tagged by not one, but three awesome blogger buddies, Freya Morris, Elise Fallson and C. M. Brown, for the Lucky 7 Meme.  Thank you so much for thinking of me!  Go visit them and follow along.  They are great commenters, and we all know how much we love comments.  And now for the game…

Here are the rules: 

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they're written.
4. Tag 7 authors
5. Let them know

The following seven sentences are from my current manuscript, THE MISTAKEN:

…  I barely caught sight of the large SUV as it slammed into me from my left.
Glass shattered and metal screamed.  The air bags exploded in my face.  My thoughts flew to my baby and Ty as the heat from the SUV’s engine rushed against my side. My breath was expelled violently from my body in a loud whoosh, and I felt myself snap from within.
Then everything went quiet.   And all I could see was black.

So that’s it.  What do you think?  Now, here are my seven taggees:

They are all worth a visit, and a follow, as well!
What, you’re still here?  What are you waiting for?  Go visit!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

IWSG: Dealing With Rejection

It’s the first Wednesday of the month:  time to meet with my fellow writers in

I’m beginning to feel like a real, honest-to-God writer these days.  And do you know why?  The answer is:  Rejection.  No writer worth her salts could ever call herself so without receiving an array of rejections for her work.  And I’ve received quite a few.  At first it was just rejections of my query, but then, after receiving a good number of requests, it’s become a rejection of those, too. 

The first time I had my full manuscript rejected, it nearly destroyed me.  I have to laugh about it now because I took it to the chin, and rather hard, too.  I spent that first evening commiserating with my new friend, Silver Patron.  Sure, he made me laugh and even forget for a while, but I vowed we wouldn’t see each other again until I somehow managed to snag an agent.  That was nearly a year ago, and I’ve kept my promise, though it hasn’t always been easy.  But one thing rejection has done for me is make me tough.  I barely even feel it now.

This has come in handy in the last few weeks.  After waiting over six months, I finally heard back from an agent who politely and respectfully said no to my full.  That was followed immediately by another of the same.  Well, almost the same.  It wasn’t an agent this time, but rather an editor who had read my first fifty pages, and three days later, quite excitedly I might add, requested my full, making sure to inform me how much she and her team were enjoying my story.

I took that request and the excitement that accompanied it with a huge grain of salt.  The publisher was brand-spanking new and published mostly romance, but they were looking for thrillers and mine had them all worked up.  The great part was that she didn’t make me wait.  I heard back in less than two weeks.  But you already know how this story ends.  She told me I definitely had a talent for writing and that making the final decision about my manuscript was truly a hard one for them, but in the end, it wasn’t a good fit. 

She’s promised to go over with me all the deciding factors in a detailed email, but it came down to what I’ve always known would be a difficult sell:  My story is just too provocative.  

Now, some might think this is a good thing, but, as I’ve written here before, my lead male character, who falls into unbearable depression following the violent death of his wife, does something shamefully contemptible, and, as we all know, in fiction, the truly despicable things are left to the bad guy, not the good.  But, at least for me, life is not simple shades of black and white.  There are variables of grey to both sides of the coin.  True, my character is flawed, but the entire message, the very theme of the story, is forgiveness.  So while I am excited to read what the editor thinks will help make my story more marketable, I’m not sure how far I’m willing to go to make it so, even though she said she’s willing to reread it afterwards. 

Yes, I am all for compromise, but, as my best friend, writing soul mate, and most awesome critique partner, Lisa L. Regan, has said numerous times, the character cannot fully appreciate or realize just how far he’s fallen—how far removed he is from the man he used to be—until he crosses completely over to the dark side.  And he cannot do that without doing that “terrible awful thing” no matter how terrible awful it is.  And believe me, it is.  It’s terrible awful


But this is a story of hard-fought redemption, and I didn’t start off making him a bad guy.  Like I said, he’s flawed, but his flaw is that, in his quest of lawful duty, he doesn’t actually see his flaw.  He thinks he’s always right, always on track, always perfect.  So to fall so far from grace is unendurable for him.  And while he’s desperately fighting the bad guys to save the woman he’s wounded and jeopardized, he’s also battling the internal demons he’s unleashed within himself.  

How do I compromise on that?

So anyway, now I know, rejections won’t kill me.  They don’t bowl me over anymore.  I barely feel them.  But it’s not so much that I’m scarred and therefore tougher.  It’s more like I believe in my story.  I trust its message.  It may be too provocative for agents and publishers of commercial fiction at the moment.  Hell, it might be too provocative for future audiences, too, but, having gone through a similar experience, writing this story was cathartic and has taught me exactly what I’m trying to express in the story:  to forgive.  

And I just can’t compromise on that, because the integrity of that message is much more important than the marketability of the story.     


Monday, March 5, 2012

Second Campaigner Challenge

Uh oh, Rachael Harrie’s at it again.  She’s just released the rules for her Second Campaigner Challenge, and this one ain’t so easy.  Rachael’s rules are in green and my replies are in red.  My challenge entry follows right after the five promts. 

Do one or more of the following:

Write a pitch/logline for a book based on the prompts (less than 100 words   Done!

Write a short story/flash fiction piece of less than 200 words based on the prompts  Check!

Write a poem with a twist using the prompts as inspiration (in less than 200 words)  Uh, no.

Write a story/poem in five sentences, each sentence based on one of the prompts   Forget it.

Write a poem/flash fiction piece (in less than 200 words) about the water pear *without* using the words “pear”, “spoon”, or “droplet”.    Not gonna happen.

For added difficulty/challenge:

Complete at least three of the above activities and tie them all together with a common theme (feel free to either state the theme in your post or leave us to guess what it might be)  Yeah, that’s not gonna happen either.  I struggled with just the two items, and it’s already nearly two in the morning, so…

Write in a genre that is not your own   This one I can handle.  I tried a little light fantasy, at least I think it’s fantasy.  You tell me.  I have absolutely no experience reading or writing in the genre. 

Ask Challenge entrants to critique your writing. After the Challenge closes, you may wish to re-post your revised piece(s), and I’ll include a Linky List at the bottom of this post for those wishing more feedback on their revisions (note: revised entries will not be judged, so please label clearly your original post and your revisions. Please do not offer critique unless someone asks for it, as per the usual blogging conventions. If you do ask for critique, make sure you ask for it clearly so people know you want it, and please be prepared to receive feedback that may not be 100% glowing. If you are a critiquer, please be tactful and courteous, and remember to provide positives as well as negatives.)   Okay, I can handle this part.  I think.  So go ahead and critique it, if you’d like.  I can take it.  Just be polite. 

Here are Rachael’s Prompts:

Prompt 1:
Two people are sitting together under the remains of a concrete bridge. Their backs are against a rusted bridge support. One person’s leg is cut. The other person has wet hair.

Prompt 2:

Prompt 3:

Prompt 4:

Prompt 5:


My flash fiction entry, at 199 words:


Tazi raced along the promenade, his cloak a crimson flash against the sparkling azure sea.  His tiny legs pumped, but the little wizard could draw no closer to the Wishing Orb.  It remained at a fixed distance, taunting him.
This was crazy.  He was a shaman, like his grandfather.  But Tazi had never been taught how to harness his magic.  Frustrated, he pulled out his wand, the one his grandfather had just given him, when they hid from the Spectral Guard beneath the ruins of the Empyrean Bridge
Even as the lifeblood poured from the injured man’s leg, Tazi’s grandfather raised the staff and tapped it against his grandson’s foot.  A funnel of water twisted up around Tazi’s body, swirling in a giant teardrop.  In a flash, the water exploded, and Tazi began to tumble through empty space, encased only in a gilded cage of whirling stars. 
Then, with the wand in hand, Tazi crashed, but in an unfamiliar land littered only with filth and scavenging imps.  Except for the Wishing Orb, rolling along the promenade.  All he had to do was touch it and wish himself home, if only he could reach it. 
Tazi raised his wand.  Poof!  

My Pitch for Tazi’s Wish, at 42 words:

Stranded in an unfamiliar wasteland, the young wizard, Tazi, must learn to harness the power of his grandfather’s magic wand to capture the Wishing Orb and return home, or risk becoming a lost scavenger imp adrift in a sea of decaying debris.    

That’s it.  If you enjoyed it, please click on over to  Rachael's
and “like” my entry.  I’m number 5.   Thanks!!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Oh what a day,
A day it is,
A day of fun, 
Of zip & fizz!
Let's celebrate,
The doc was born. 
No Mr. Geisel,
Nor Theodor.

It's Dr. Seuss,
To me and you,
To Horton 
And to every Who.

He brought his pal,
A giant cat,
A cat who wears
A tall striped hat.

But that's not all we have, 
look here.
There's red fish blue fish

He brought another 
In a box.
Oh look, oh look,
A fox in socks!
And who's that with 
The fox you say?
He's green and mean,
but what the hay.

He's not so bad 
To have in a pinch.
I kind of like 
That old mean Grinch.

He brought with him
Green eggs and ham,
And one more chap
Named Sam I am.

The gang's all here,
Let's celebrate,
For Dr. Seuss
Turns one-oh-eight!

I know I'm not much of a poet, but any excuse to
have this much fun is worth the embarrassment.

Thank you, Jennee Thompson, for reminding me how much I love Dr. Seuss!