About Me

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May - 2016: Upcoming, I'll be participating in Desert Sleuth's Donald Maass Workshop. I'm afraid it sold out months ago, but if you have questions, contact me.

Apr - 2016: A 2nd Kami Short will release in the Malice Domestic anthology in Bethesda MD. I'll also be moderating a panel with authors Karen Pullen, Sue Cox, and Gretchen Archer. Don't miss the fun! I'll have special edition signed copies of the 1st Kami Short from the SinC - Desert Sleuth anthology to hand out for free.

Apr - 2016: An adult short story, Big Horn Mountain Carnivores, was selected as the adult category winner in the Tempe Community Writing Contest loosely associated with Arizona State University! The e- & print release where I read a portion of the story was the greatest fun. Thank you everyone who came by! Free download here (scroll to bottom): 

Aug - 2015: Politics of Chaos was released at an event attended by the awesome NYTimes best-selling author Sara Paretsky! Also, a flash fiction entitled, "Lightning" was 3rd runner up in the national 2015 Writers Police Academy's contest.

July - 2015: NYC FBI headquarters. Many thrilling authors were there, the presentations were fantastic, and the experience was a solid 15 on a 10 point scale. Thank you to the International Thriller Writers for inviting me. Thank you to the men and women of the FBI.

MAY - 2015: The Poisoned Pen submitted Chaos Theory for the 2015 Edgar's young adult novel award. Please note that submission is NOT a nomination. Still, it is an exciting development.

MAR - 2015:Tucson Festival of Books booksigning! Great time by all.

FEB - 2015: CHAOS THEORY, released by The Poisoned Pencil, an imprint of The Poisoned Pen Press - one of the nation's largest publishers of hard-back mysteries.

MAR - 2013: Meg was honored to receive a year long mentorship from author Jan Blazanin through the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators - Iowa. Ms. Blazanin praised Meg's multiple characters' distinct and age appropriate voices.

Her writing blog is located at megevonne.blogspot.com contains reviews and writing craft tools.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

New Year resolutions

My New Year's resolution #1. Help others in need. Enjoy.

http://video.yahoo.com/network/100000089?v=5017561&l=100022574

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What's peeking out between your words and your sentences?

The more I read queries, first pages, 1000 words etc the more I'm of the mind that agents aren't looking for the quick grab, the interesting set up. I've come to believe, that as much as they may not consider it--I think they are looking for something indefinable between the words and the lines. A well crafted interesting story may still not rise to the top, because the unique voice that speaks to the agent isn't there. Yet it's MORE than that. Maybe it's even something more hard to recognize than voice. Some illusive quality that peeks out from under the words that some people write.

Yes, I know that's very zen like to consider, but as I delve into the reality end of publishing, I realize that there is something else beneath the surface and indefinable in some writer's words.

Just late night musing, but if you've heard anything like this discussed, I'd love to do some reading on it.

May your holidays be wonderful and filled with peace. Meg

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The inevitable sadness of letting go

Does anyone else find that writing the last quarter of a manuscript slows you down? I've charged through enough story/plot lines now that I know the inevitable (for me) is happening again. In the last chapters, I'm cutting out tiny parts of my heart.

Even though I have the next project lined up and occasionally sneaking away like a guilty lover in the middle of the night to visit the next and do research. Knowing that I have several more edits to go--there is always the overwhelming emotional goodbye that takes place in my head. My characters will never again be at this point in time, and in the case of Eve, Kai, and Randon their innocence seems to be slipping from my fingers and there isn't a thing I can do about it.

In the final chapters, I'll revel in their triumphs, I'll laugh at their jokes, and I'll let tears mix with pride as I let the raw freshness of the story go.

I don't know how J.K. Rowling ever got through those last pages. I hear she had to go to a hotel and cry her way through them. Do all writers do that, or do they become jaded over the years? Do you gain some 'professional distance' that makes it easier? Do you lose your mothering instinct?

I hope not.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Best on the horizon...

I want to write a book like this!

Holly Thompson's ORCHARDS, a novel in verse with a haiku feel, exploring the complexities of fourteen-year-old Kana's Japanese / Jewish / American identity and the ties that bind family and friends through tragedy, to Francoise Bui at Delacorte, in a six-figure deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in Spring 2011, by Jamie Weiss Chilton at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (World) jamie@andreabrownlit.com

So why do I write in this genre?

A friend asked me about introducing magic into her biotech fantasy world. Here is my response.

Yes, magic can be introduced hot and heavy or light and creamy, it's your world.

The problem with sci fi is that it comes in 5 sub genres--and nobody or very few cross the line into the others. They like this type, but strongly dislike that type. That's why sci fi rarely takes over the top ten list all over the world of publishing like a juicy romance can. (Jim Butcher and Harrison being the exception, not the rule.)

This was the last break down I saw or remember: Hard core Sci-fi (where yours is now and I clump military sci fi in here), Fantasy--whole new worlds created often with magic overtone, but light on tech, heavy on magical quests through mythical lands--yours could fit here too, Urban Fantasy--HP, Jim Butcher where the magical exist among us and we mundanes don't see it or the society is just now learning about those things, Paranormal Romance--romance with vamps, shape shifters, ghost love stories etc, and finally something called Steam Punk sci fi--which I've never read, nor probably care to read.

HC-SF upchuck with PR; PR upchucks with HC-SF, UF folks can usually handle light into HC-SF, F, PR depending on their inclination and sex. (Yes male and female numbers are widely different in %s in those various 5 sub genres.) Fantasy folk break down by sex and by interest--Fantasy involving war vs Fantasy involving lighter topics and within that subgenre never the twain shall mix.

With your imagination, I don't know why you'd want to throw in magic. You've got a lot going on already and with your bio tech approach that is sci fi magic at its best you can create any 'magic' you wish. Tossing in straight magic might overwhelm and confuse the reader, especially HC-SF fans. Sci fi calls for a suspension of belief the same way that theater does. Your audience member agrees to set aside the real world and enter this as if it were the real world. Suddenly changing your world to include magic is tossing a new ingredient to be accepted. Does that make sense? One other thing, you've chosen a male protagonist. ... that tilts your future readers to the science end not the magic end. HP being the rare exception.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Frustrated in the Heartland

I never thought I would ever write that I was exhausted simply from writing, but I am. It's discouraging and sad. This eight week workshop class is killing me trying to keep up. I don't have time to read my comments or to edit. I barely get my pages written and my crits for everyone else. I'll have to print off their comments on my pages to use later when I have time.

I really wanted this first draft done by the end of class and I'll be lucky if I'm 3/4 done. Yes, it is all charted out, but the words are not going to be on the pages in that time frame. What is worse, is that my work and my writing have been tidily kept apart and neither interfered with the other, but now I'm so short handed due to the flu and the economy at my office. We need to hire someone, but my college staff don't want me to because it'll cut their hours over the summer, and my office manager doesn't want to train anyone. As a result, I'm getting home so tired, I just want to curl up and read a book. (Pat me on the back, I'm not reading.... just writing)

So that's enough pity time.... Here's my question. I'm a night writer, and I love it. I tell myself what the next scene will be and then I write it that night. By the following evening I'm usually so excited to write it up. Recently though? I'm dreaming stupid local city politics and two nights ago it was a really long complicated adult murder mystery. So my YA muse has fled. Then a break through last night.

I'm working with six, yes it's my learning goal for the WiP, characters. I realized in my sleep that I'd left my main character's heartline drifting away AND my series heartline wasn't being addressed in the rush to crank out pages.

Do you find that when you have to struggle the most and are really exhausted is when you are off track on your writing? Can it be that easy? If it's forced, it isn't right? What do you do if that's the case? Keep plugging away or stop and figure out what's wrong?

Forgive my zen of writing posting... Sometimes, I think I have to look into some sort of flexible MFA program. I HATE taking side paths that I should have realized immediately. I don't have the time to screw up... (And I don't even have kids at home! arghh!)

Frustrated in the heartland...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Closing in on the final-final-final (& one more final?) 5.2010--> another final!

Dearest Authoress,

How strange to have you write this now as I'm reading my final-final-final (and maybe one more final) edit. I have an unusual confidence in this work. Of course, that won't mean that it gets published, but there is an intangible sense that this novel is different and far superior from the rest. So, if we are sharing the same feeling, then yes.

This manuscript has a strangely Zen-like rightness that I've never felt before. The corrections that I'm making are so deep into the craft, places that I've never known existed before. I'm asking, "do these three main characters have their own distinct voice?" "Is there really enough white space in this chapter?" "This tiny (read as paragraph) drags, what can I change to make it excellent?" "How can I punch up the humor (or tension or suspense etc) in this scene?" etc.

Perhaps more important is that there are no questions about continuity, no questions about if I have the perfect level between giving a clue--not too much, not too little. This, of course, is thanks to a wonderful editor and beta readers. I had an entire writing group helping me on one complicated, short description. We worked on it for a full hour and a half! One sentence!

Is this a publishable work--for the first time, 'yes, absolutely, without question.' What an amazing place to be! A new platform that I didn't even know existed before now! So high five to you Authoress. I got to this level in part through comments of knowledgeable people who did crits. This feeling is a wonderful place to be. Published or not, I've earned my writing wings at last.

Meg, writer hoping to be author

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Changes. Stroking out the babies. Fighting with tech. Mind meandering.

Hi all, I had an epiphany on the way to re-reading my YA. The forward flash remains as an always can be added or removed, but Chapter 1 (meant to be mundane and normal by this pig headed writer) was completely changed. I received some feedback that they didn't get pulled into the story until they were in the airplane and the parents go missing. I pulled out only the essential items as to plot, character etc from Chapter 1 and inserted them into the next two chapters. I cut a great many of my 'babies', which I think was right. Those babies weren't earning their spot in carrying forward plot and enriching the characters. (But I liked the pelican shaped principle---NO -- cut.)

I think, first, second, and third blush with it that I now have a starting chapter that will pull the reader in, if I chose to yank the forward flash. I added some sibling sparing to up interest level and highlight their relationship more.

As I worked those chapters it felt so perfect, too perfect. So then I started worrying, 'Was I lying to myself, because I wanted the new format?' So it's off to my un-emotional editor for her opinions.

Onward!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday feels like Saturday. Arghh!

Why does my biological clock sometimes gets time so wrong. It feels like a Friday. It honestly does. Dang it. What does that mean for the week following? Disaster? Disappointment? Victory?

Or does it just mean that I'm so looking forward to a three day weekend? Yeah for Labor Day.

Unless.... my body thinks it's a work day come Saturday. Ah well, life and time rolls on in either case.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thoughts from others. Thank you!

Thoughts from others on my first 250 words of Sacrifice.

Sir Otter said...

I like it. I think 'exploded' is an overused word; you might think of another one less trite, but I got a clear picture of what went on and would definitely read on.

Not sure you could call any hat Ingrid Bergman ever wore a fedora, or would want to, since that's normally thought of as a man's hat. The one she wore at the end of Casablanca was similar but not quite. Might want to rethink that.

Still pretty well done.

Literature Crazy said...

Pretty well hooked. Only a few minor suggestions:

In the first paragraph, I'd write it was "triggered by her gentle laugh"; that way we know, right off the bat, that there's a woman the narrator is thinking about.

In the second paragraph be more precise with the description of Maureen. Don't call it an Ingrid Bergman fedora, give me a color and texture/material--at 30 years old, I'm not old enough to have an immediate frame of reference for Bergman's hat stylings. Does she have a 1940's hairstyle because it's in the 1940's or she's being retro? My guess is the former, but don't make me guess. Describe the hairstyle and have the narrator figure out the timeline to make it less ambiguous. Mention pin curls or something else classic to that time period and then have the narrator say something like (this will be a bad example, but it's quick): "...with a pencil stuck over her ear placed me in a fixed point in time. This woman was Maureen, my wife in the year 1943. She read..."

The set-up is good (it immediately reminded me of the YA paranormal romance/SciFi series Blue Bloods that involves vampires who keep getting "re-born" with memories of their former lives resurfacing in later lives). I liked it and think there's somewhere interesting that you could definitely take this.

Barbara said...

You have a hooky opening paragraph, and the Merlin Scholars piques my interest.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sacrifice - paranormal romantic

Sacrifice is the piece that I wrote as a novella and then expanded it to full length novel. It has been a learning piece from start to final, final, final etc :-) last revision and I had put it away with great sadness. My opinion at the time was that the heart had been edited out of it, but I had learned so much that it was an invaluable process. It is, however, slick and right.

On re-reading it a year plus later, I'm loving it. The flow and pace are great, no messy snags, subplots are nicely woven in, and I'd managed in the process to include a lot of touch, smell etc. I've re-read 23 of the total 40 so chapters and as a reader, I am once more invested in my characters. Will others? Who knows?

It was nice to see how smooth and easy my 1st POV manuscripts work. The character is strong enough, unique enough to carry it well. In re-reading, I've fallen in love with him all over. He's such a typical guy, his name is even typical, while the powerful women in his life have been playing him through out for the best of reasons. He's decent, thoughtful, a super lover, talented, strong morals, and honestly, deeply, passionately loves his wife and she feels the same for him.

I thought I had a unique plot until Michael A Stackpole in a small group class in AZ workshop called it a "Professor exchanges the complicated world for isolation, only to be forced back into the main battle for what is right." The twist is that to do so, he has to sacrifice his beloved (from several reincarnations)'s soul--never to be with her again. Yep, get out the tissues for a good cry. Readers forced me to put in an out to keep her viable and thus two additional books charted out and partially written.

I'm glad to re-discover it, to be proud of it, and just be pleased that I accomplished such a wonderful manuscript.

Who knows? I shopped it to three agents in order to get my rejection letter goal for the year (2008) and no one asked for partials. Then I moved on to the YA. It really is good enough that I need to send more queries out. Now that I might manage a decent query letter that attracts attention.

The Monday AM e-mails and random thoughts

Aren't Monday mornings great?

Amy, surely we should never fear a new beginning if we need a break? Unless it becomes a habit?

April, I liked your new story beginning. It was peaceful and placed me in the scene. I like the rigidness of the older character, the younger wishing to snuggle back into her comforter. I lacked a sense of 'time placement' as a reader, but as I read it--I was willing to wait to see what unfolded.

Writing in Malta. I always get a kick out of reading that. It sounds so exotic and interesting. Much more exciting than IA. Out of curiosity, do others find themselves slipping into evolving writing patterns? What worked several months ago, seems to drive me crazy later and vice versa. As long as the words get on pages, I figure that I'm ahead of the game.

I still haven't managed to figure out your vocal meetings, but doubt that I'd manage it. This fall there is so much going on in my life. Boring, silly stuff, but it all stacks up. I have a new tiny camper ordered that should be here soon. If you want to take a look, Google "t@b" and then find the model that has a small toilet in it. Yes, it is very 70's and hippie like. Mine is going to be white with the orange handles and trim. Things have changed a lot since the kids and I camped in our fold out tent camper.

I have elusive dreams of weekend camping trips for me and my dog off to see national parks with frequent stops and writing in an awesome natural backdrop. I don't plan on retiring for several years, but when I do I would like to have this set up as a routine. My kids don't have time to travel with me anymore and there is still so much I want to see.

For sometime, I thought that I would just fly, rent a car, board the dog, attend conferences or classes etc--but it all gets so expensive so fast. I hope that the car travel with the dog for companionship will prove a stress free way with less cost to do the same.

Well, that's my dream anyway.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On Misunderstood Intentions

As a relative newbie, I immediately wonder, "Oops. Did I step on the rules myself?" Then again, although quite capable of taking rejection when someone expresses hurt--I will always go back and review everything to see if I was out of line and hurt someone. And as a result, I will be purchasing your book, out of guilt but not sure if I should be feeling guilty.

Complete manuscript. Nicole Bokat, http://www.nicolebokat.com/ was nominated for both the Hemingway Foundation/PEN award and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for Fiction said in a class that editing NEVER ends until its published.

Erica Mailman, http://www.erikamailman.com/ suggested that a query letter is always in development. She recommended sending three and if your responses were negative, then go back and re-work it and try again. She saw them as organic, always growing and maturing.

The rejected manuscript that rests in the drawer, once thought complete can be brought out years later to be read through entirely different eyes and thus the revisions and editing begin again.

The short story that never sparked interest can be transformed into a full length novel of wide acceptance as a literary masterpiece and vice versa.

The odds of a query getting past a slush pile are insurmountable. These contests are a wonderful tool (thank you, thank you, thank you authoress) to use in hopes that the perfect agent will see our work from a different perspective than the unending morning e-mail submission stack agents face on a daily basis. Bless their hearts for they have a special place in heaven to read and read and read for days before they find something that they wish to see more pages.

I've two manuscripts that have each had more than a year's work on and both have gone through editing from professionals. From the slush pile there is no guarantee of resurrection--ever.

And if I have offended... my sincere apologies. And if I've not, think only of the egg upon my face!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Writer's Craft

I'm learning a lot about the craft... I will always be learning a lot about the craft... I vow to never stop learning about the craft...
  1. When I get that vague feeling that something isn't fleshed out enough--it probably isn't, as my editor picks them out every single time.
  2. I still have no control over my comma useage *grumble, grumble* but it is much better.
  3. About 20% of flaws that the editor finds in plot and character, I would miss and I fear I might always miss. I'm hopeful with time and experience that I will learn to recognize them myself.
  4. STOP personifying body parts! (LOL) But why not? It's so much fun!
  5. Editors are infallible. What one editor changes, another will change right back to the original. This was maybe the hardest thing I've learned. Those rules that i would like to think are set in stone are just as wishy washy as life itself.

Also I now have an entire folder dedicated to allmy Anj-isms from my editor.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Miss Snark's First Victim Questions


In my heart, why do I write young adult? "Because I'm a Midwest nut who wants young adults to know that there are healthy loving sexual relationships, loving families, intelligent warrior girls who turn into amazing women, (and men who love them), faith (in whatever) gives you strength and power beyond the mere physical attributes we've genetically inherited, that you can disagree with those you love and still be loved, that there is hope that the world makes sense within the walls of our homes, that we can change what is wrong outside our walls--if we break them down, that religion diversity should unite our world--not tear it down, that sex, race, socio-economic status, handicaps, etc will never limit the human spirit.

Did I mention that I'm a Mom. Did you figure out my '2nd take'? (Last Lecture) That I'm writing for my new grand-daughter and future great-grand-children?

All disguised as a really great fun and exciting ride for me and for the reader.

May 31, 2009 1:50 AM

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Me and the Ghost Hunters

I should be writing, I should be finishing my synopsis, instead I'm listening to Justin and Jason on Ghost Hunters. Some evenings you have to let it go...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Where commitment hits the concrete

My son called tonight to say that his bone marrow donation offer has a match. All the tests say that its a go. Further, his donation will not be the less evasive blood transfusion but the surgery type. My son is 25, he is in his second year of law school at the University of Iowa, he is married, and they wouldn't mind if his wife became pregnant.

For years, I have advocated for organ donation and for programs just like this one. Still when he called to ask if I'd come over for the surgery, my heart raced, my fears charged to the surface. This wasn't helped when I couldn't immediately find someone who could answer all my questions and concerns.

It wasn't until sometime later, I reminded myself that the risk is not that great and that someone and their family is thanking God that a donor had been located. My own prayers are that my son will be safe, that he won't be exposed to an infection while in surgery, that nothing will go wrong in that surgery, that the hospital won't make a foolish mistake, and the list went on.

God can find amusement in that, I suppose. We are always at risk in this life, but without risk others would find no answer to their prayers.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Contests and Queries

I joined a wild horse race this AM. I sat poised at my computer, finger itching, ready to hit the send button on an e-mail submission for a contest. Only 25 were being accepted... At 8 CTZ I hit the button. Pop up reads, "Unexpected delay, will post as soon as possible." I, non-tech geek guru, took that to mean there were several beans trying to slide through one tiny hole in the system. Bingo, it's gone!

24 were posted and accepted by 8:01CTZ and the 25th at 8:01. I made it. Feel like a winner!

Then I get the e-mail confirmation, post 19. Whoo hoo! Then below that is my post. My 250 words have been formatted into a sloppy, horrid mass--no paragraph separation, no double spacing, no paragraph first line indentation? *Hanging my head and slipping into oblivion*

Then the horrid thought... Is that what my e-mail queries and samples look like? Oh HORROR!

And how the cr** do I fix that?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday's bear in the room

After the death of Madeleine L'Engle (my life long hero), I decided to write beyond the confines of my room. First though, I needed to confront this bear (my self-confidence) that lived in the room with me. Sometimes it's tiny and cute, but other times it's ugly, mean, horrid, and is so big it shoves me out.

Published authors told me they had bears. "You need a bear in your room. It's keep you alert, active, agile. Just don't let it make you stop writing, or from sending in a query or entering a contest."

I've written for 35+ years, but I've been a writer for three--as in taking the craft seriously. Since then I've taken three mediabistro.com classes, worked with a writing coach, attended a writer's workshop at the Univ of IA and another in Tempe, AZ, took a linquistics class from Iowa State University, and have found a brilliant editor, who is a professional writer.

35 years into it and a contest looms... The bear is back and its ugly. It's easier to put that brilliant, fresh manuscript into the desk drawer.

Time to get out the whips and chains, so I can beat that bear away from the door... I guess...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Good morning muses...

Good morning muses...

Why can't summer just show up?
Why can't I figure out why I had to set up this blog,
simply to send someone congrats?
Why did I do it? What junk will I receive as a result?
Going with the law of averages, I figure I'll get 1 hit
every 10 million years, right?
How can a non-tech geek like me do this?

Finally, why am I 100% sure that I will never find this blog again?