Justine: Second-Half Shipwreck

shipwreckThe first half of my book was a train wreck. It took me quite awhile to get it in decent working order, but I can say that for the most part, aside from some much-needed editing, it’s pretty good. Not perfect, but definitely a train chugging along the story railways.

Not so the second half.

After spending several weeks trying to salvage what has turned into a rusty, crack-filled, shipwrecked mess, I’ve decided to go back and reinvent the last half of my book. This isn’t something I approached lightly, or with any enthusiasm whatsoever (if my husband finds out, he’ll kill me. He’s done with this book as much as I am). I was hoping I was at the point where I could just Margie-EDIT the thing and slap a “Ready to Submit” sticker on it.

There are several reasons why that won’t work. Continue reading

Justine: Write It Down or Forget It


My “Little Black Book”

This summer’s RWA conference wasn’t the best for me (see this post for reasons why). What’s worse was what I discovered after I got home. My black Moleskine, which contained every little tidbit of information, ideas, notes, practice log lines, minutiae from my trip to England this past May, all the “Heyer-isms” I’d written down after listening to hundreds of hours of her books, advice from fellow writers I’d gleaned at our local RWA chapter meetings…in other words, my entire writing life – was missing.


Like that.

*snaps fingers*

I’d never felt so sick in my life.

But there’s Continue reading

Justine: My Plan for Finishing The Damn Book

deadlineI’ve been out of my story, and out of my character’s heads, for quite awhile now. Since the beginning of July. It wasn’t really intentional – we went on vacation, which was promptly followed up by RWA, and the last week and a half I’ve been gearing up for the start of school for my kids.

There are advantages to being out of my story, the biggest being I see it with fresh eyes. The other advantage is it makes me realize I want to quit working on my current book and get on with the next one. It’s like an albatross around my neck. And so, as Rachel Beecroft, friend and frequent commenter dared suggested, here is my plan for Finishing The Damn Book (tempered by a Reality Check):

August 14th EOD

  1. Complete the outstanding critiques I need to do (5 or 6 of them) and turn them in to their respective owners.
  2. Review the last 5 or 6 chapters I was working on before my hiatus and have a game plan for what stays, what goes, and what needs to change.

Reality Check: kids are starting (new!) school, I still have PTA stuff to finish up, we’re having part of our house painted, and I have lots of doctor appointments that I’ve been putting off. Continue reading

Justine: When It’s Time to Leave Your Critique Group

red flagI’ve been involved in an informal critique group for just about 3 years now – the Eight Ladies – and another regular group (meaning we meet weekly) for just over a year. A few months ago, I joined a third critique group, but I just notified the members that I must withdraw from it.

There are many reasons to join a critique group, and also many reasons to leave one, but there are a few things that should be red flags. If any of the things listed below are happening in your critique group, perhaps it’s time to set sail and find another. Continue reading

Congratulations Jeanne! Golden Heart Winner!

RWA's Golden Heart necklace, awarded to each Golden Heart winner.

RWA’s Golden Heart necklace, awarded to each Golden Heart winner.

The Eight Ladies were thrilled to be in New York to witness our very own Jeanne Oates Estridge win the Golden Heart for her paranormal “Demons Don’t” on Saturday night!

There were lots of screams and shouts of joy from one corner of the room and many of us (like me!) had tears in their eyes. We have all worked very hard since the McDaniel program on fine-tuning and improving our writing, and seeing Jeanne win was a testament to that.

All the ladies had a great weekend, received requests for fulls and partials, and attended some great workshops. Details on that in the days to come!

In the meantime, we wish Jeanne every success and are so proud of her!

Justine: Sparking Creativity

This week I’m on vacation in the wonderful Outer Banks, NC (where yes, there have been numerous shark attacks…we’re trying not to think about that) and my desire for writing, critiquing, reading…pretty much anything…is about nil.

I’m also a bit apprehensive about RWA next week. This is my third conference pitching the SAME manuscript and that fact has me down in the dumps. I have two pitch appointments lined up and am excited about who I’ll be meeting with, but it’s overshadowed by the fact that I’m still pitching the same book. Continue reading

Justine: To Listen or to Read…That is the Question

audible, audiobooks, justine covingtonIt’s no secret — to my family, anyway — that I’ve been reading more lately. Well, listening more. Since December, I’ve plowed through any number of audiobooks, from Georgette Heyer to Jennifer McVeigh. I’m listening to Reckless by Anne Stuart right now. Last night, I walked the dog (in the heat…it’s hot even at night in AZ) just so I could keep listening to the story.

As I listen, my mind will sometimes wander and I’ll have to skip back 30 seconds or a minute to get what I missed. That got me to thinking about some readers’ propensity to skip, and I wondered Continue reading