Mama Diaries

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow

Happy 1st book birthday to THE SECRET FILES OF FAIRDAY MORROW! It's been a year since the mystery of the Begonia House was revealed to the world, and now the paperback will be available January 3rd, 2017. The new cover stays true to Fairday's snazzy style, sprinkling in a few added charms. Can you spot the differences from the hardcover? ;) 

Catch the book trailer to find out about the mystery...

Planning to pick up the paperback? Pre-order a copy and you could win a $50 VISA card to treat yourself after the holidays. Contest is open to all! For more details on how to enter, click here.

For more information about the book, visit the DMS at

The Process of Publishing a Book
By Jessica Haight & Stephanie Robinson

Be ready to put forth a lot of effort!

When we started the publishing process we had no idea what we were getting into. Our book was written, but what were the next steps after having it edited and “ready to go”? We learned a lot along the way, and we'll share some of the highlights here. 

Stephanie Robinson, Unicorn Writers' Conference
1. If you want to write books, start going to writers’ conferences. We gained something from every one we attended, and it’s also awesome to be surrounded by so many people who share your passion for writing. Very inspirational!

2. If you decide to go the traditional route, it is important to research the agents you would like to query. You want to make sure the person representing your book loves it too! Be patient. After you write your query and send it off- you’ll have to wait for 1-3 months before you hear back about whether they would like to pass, see a partial manuscript, or read the whole manuscript. During this time- keep writing. Work on your next book!

3. Once you connect with the right agent, you will sign a contract with them. Read it over carefully and check it with other professionals before you sign your name. Make sure you understand what you are agreeing to and what they will do for you. We were thrilled to sign our contract with Talcott Notch Literary Agency, but we’ve heard nightmare stories from friends who had contracts that weren’t acceptable.

Gina Panettieri, Talcott Notch Literary

4. Your agent will start querying editors. After you’ve found the right agent, they will know what to do during this process and will check in with you to let you know where and when they are sending your work. When you hear back from editors, you will typically receive general remarks that you’ll need to consider. Remember, reading is subjective and even JK Rowling was rejected before her first Harry Potter book was published.

Signed contract with Delacorte Press
5.  When you sign with an editor you will most likely do a happy dance and run around screaming, like we did. Depending on the size of the publishing company the time frame to begin edits will vary. We signed our contract in October, but didn’t begin working on edits until March. The editing continues as the art department works on illustrations and cover art for the book. Once all the pieces are in place, the book is printed as an ARC- advanced reader copy.
6. ARCs have errors and the publishing company is working to fix them, but time is limited to get them done and errors cost money to fix. We read through our ARCs and made a list of all the mistakes we found. We were able to fix one of them because it isn’t easy to fix them at this stage, but luckily the editors had already fixed the other mistakes we had found (though we didn’t know for sure until the book was out).   

7. After the ARCs you will keep working on your other writing while you wait for trade reviews to come in. Ours came a few months before the book was out.

8. Release day! You'll be a bundle of nerves seeing your book out in the world. It's exciting, but you may feel a little vulnerable. Make sure to celebrate and enjoy the moment!
Voila! The finished product.
If you decide to publish traditionally, take your work seriously and protect your creative space. You are your own best advocate, so believe in yourself and fear not the unexpected! ;)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mama's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Let me tell you about my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Which was actually kind of funny, in a weird sort of way.

Georgia, the fine state in which I live, had experienced a drought. We had no rain for a couple of months. Well, that all changed on the day my son and I were scheduled to go Christmas caroling with a nice group from church. Of course, on that day, the heavens opened, and the rain came down. Mama got soaked. Did I mention it was cold?

Then, I came home (still wet and cold) and did some laundry. Except I had a little problem. Somebody had lost the cap to the laundry detergent. You may or may not be familiar with how the mega-sized liquid detergent bottles work. There are actually two spouts. One is a spigot, where you press a button and detergent flows out, and the other is the cap, where you can pour it out. Since my washing machine is a tall, super high power thing, it's much easier to use the spigot. Which I did. But I didn't notice that the cap was missing on the other opening. Guess what happened?  As I used the spigot, I tilted the container. As I did, liquid detergent poured out of the top, onto my head, and on my clothes.

So now, I was cold, wet, and covered in detergent.

But that's not all.

I went down to the kitchen to pack my kids' lunches for school. As I reached for the sandwich bags, which were on a very high shelf in the pantry, I knocked something over. A glass bottle of shrimp cocktail sauce. It splattered on the floor, breaking in a million pieces, covering me, the cabinet, and the floor with red goop.

All I could think was, why?   Why couldn't the shrimp cocktail sauce have fallen first? And then the detergent, and then the cold rain. At least I would have been clean. But no. I had to end my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day  as a strange-smelling, cold, grouchy, irritated catastrophe.


Friday, December 2, 2016

Question of the Month, and The Dog and the Box

It's time for Question of the Month, hosted by Michael D'Agostino. And this month I'm not late!
The question is, "What does your retirement look like?"

Retirement? Me retire? I don't think so. I love teaching music and performing, so unless something happens and I'm no longer able to do it, I plan to keep working until I die. But if I were to slow down a little, I'd like to spend time travelling and seeing more of the world. My plan is to visit every continent (including the North and South Poles). I don't know if that's at all realistic, but it's good to dream. I also want to visit all fifty states. I've made a good dent in that, but I still haven't seen a lot of western states, Alaska, or Hawaii.  What I don't see myself doing, is sitting in a chair watching TV or staring out a window. There's so much to see, so much to do, and so much to learn, that I think I'm just going to run out of time to do it all.

What about you? What does your retirement look like?

Now for the story: We all know how much kids like playing with boxes. But did you know that dogs like playing with them, too? 

An empty box was sitting on our living room floor. Our hundred pound German Shepherd, Schultz, decided he was going to have a little fun with it. He grabbed the box in his big mouth and flipped it over his head. Then he ran around, bumping into just about everything in the room.

My kids laughed. I shook my head. "Schultz, you big idiot. You're going to hurt yourself!"

He gave himself a shake, and the box flew off.

I thought that was the end of it. But no. Apparently, Schultz enjoyed having a box on his head. He grabbed the thing, flipped it over his head, and ran around, again.

This continued for about ten minutes. Finally, he shook the box off, gave it a big sniff, and trotted off. What a goof ball!

(I'm wondering what Schultz would do with some crayons and markers and that box!)    

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

More Food, Please

This is part two of my family's Thanksgiving shenanigans.

So, I had spent two days baking and cooking for our Thanksgiving feast. I made pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, pumpkin pie, a cranberry walnut tart, green bean/ corn casserole, squash casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and a sixteen-pound turkey. It was a ridiculous amount of food.

My family devoured everything, and complained about how stuffed they were afterwards. I'm sure you're familiar with the story if you live in the good old USA.

Four hours later, at around 10:00 PM, I walked into the kitchen and found my son, my daughter, and my daughter's friend mixing ingredients. That's right. They were getting ready to bake.

"What the heck are you doing?" I asked, completely flabbergasted. "We have a ton of food in the refrigerator. You don't need to make more. Besides, it's way too late to be baking and eating even more food!"

"But, Mom," my daughter said. "You didn't make monkey bread. And it's never too late to make monkey bread."


Thursday, November 24, 2016


First of all, I'd like to wish all of my American friends a very Happy Thanksgiving!

As I was preparing our traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey and the fixings, my son came up and made a face. "We're having turkey, again?"

I made a face back at him. "Of course we are. It's Thanksgiving. We eat turkey on Thanksgiving."

"We should try something different."

"Like what?"


"What?" That sounded like some alien life form.

"It's a turkey stuffed with duck and chicken."

I thought he was making this up. "There's no such thing, Bubba. Don't be ridiculous."

He grabbed his handy dandy computer and pulled up a picture. "Here it is!"

Okay. Well, it's a real thing. But if you ask me, it looks like a turkey, but with a whole lot more work involved. I'm just going to stick with our traditional turkey, thank you very much!

(Has anyone ever tried this? I wonder how it tastes.)   

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Question of the Month and Chasing Deer

It's time for another (late) Question of the Month hosted by Michael D'Agostino. This month's question has to do with a first kiss. I can't remember the details of the question, because it's lost somewhere in my vast quantities of emails. All I'm going to say, is that I was thirteen years old when I had my first kiss, and it wasn't from my husband. That's more than you ever need to know.

Now for the story:

As you know, our German Shepherd, Schultz, likes to chase deer. There have been several stories here about him doing so. But there has never been a story about the Mama chasing deer. Yep. That's right. This crazy old lady decided to teach those oversized rodents a lesson.

Schultz was in the backyard barking his head off. I looked out the window to see what the problem was. A herd of about ten deer was casually grazing behind our fence. Schultz was doing his best to make them go away, but the deer, being the insolent lot they are, didn't care. It's like they were totally disrespecting the dog.

Disrespectful deer really tick me off. So I got on my shoes and jacket and went out into the yard. The rodents stopped momentarily to look at me, and then continued. I'm sure they thought they were perfectly safe. There's no way any creature on the other side of that gate could get to them.

They were wrong. I walked over to the gate, lifted the latch, and walked onto their side. You should've seen the look on their faces! They bolted toward the river. I followed. They stopped at the bank and looked back at me. "I see you," I said. "And I'm coming to get you!"

They knew I meant business. They ran through the river to the other side. Up the hill they went, until they were out of sight.

I think the deer and I have an understanding. No more disrespecting the dog. If they do, they have to deal with the Mama!

I have one more thing to say. I seem to be having some trouble commenting on some of your blogs. I can type my comment on your page, but there is no way for it to be published. Not sure what the problem is. For those of you who have Google sharing capabilities on your page, I've been sharing on Google and commenting there. If you don't have that, you won't be seeing any comments from me, even though I'm reading your posts. Just wanted to let you all know. Hopefully the problem will get fixed soon.   

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Crystal Collier and Timeless

Welcome Crystal Collier here today to share her new book!

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

BUY: Amazon | B&N

Author Interview

1. Did you start writing Moonless, thinking you were going to make a trilogy series, or did it just happen that way?

My first draft of Moonless (in 2002) was a novella. A historical love story about a woman defying society and her father. It wasn’t until the next draft it wrapped its fingers around one of my much older characters. That was the point at which I knew it was going to evolve, but the key to publishing is being open to follow success. If a book does well in the market, it deserves sequel—maybe more. Because of that, I wrote it as a standalone, but I had the beginnings of both a second and third book written, just waiting for the green light.

2. How long did it take you to write your latest book, Timeless?

To write it, or rewrite it? Or rewrite it again? This book suffered from baby syndrome. I was expecting while drafting, and all my creative powers were sucked into my baby girl. (Friends, don’t try this at home.) Welcome the no-sleep/newborn stage. The first, awful draft (45,000 words, 150 pages,) took about a year…after ripping out 30,000 words (about 90 pages) because the dual time stream was breaking my brain. (No exaggeration.) The next draft was six-week rewrite, then another major rewrite. Then 2.5 months of edits. Of the original 45,000 words, about 10,000 (30 pages) survived to the final draft. 1.5 years of work.

3. And since you are the "Cheese Lady," what's your favorite kind of cheese?

Who is my favorite child? Oh, you asked my favorite cheese. My question is easier. ;) No. I don’t have a “favorite”, but MANY.
Vanilla cheese (goes with anything): muenster, runner up is mild cheddar
Swiss variety: Jarlsberg
Italian: Provolone, followed by Romano
Savory: Feta
Comfort cheese: smoked gouda or Colby jack
Sweet cheese: Fontina
Fun cheese: squeaky cheese! (Cheddar cheese curds.)

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.

(Email address is required for awarding prizes.)