Life Lessons and Final Day of Contests!

Did you have a good weekend? We did! My sweet in-laws stayed with us, we attended a few sporting events for our kids, had yummy food and nice weather. Can’t ask for more than that!

 

Koala

 

This week kicks off the official release of Unexpected Family! I have an exciting line-up of events. You can find the full schedule on my EVENTS page at any time! Today I’m a guest on Jeanne Takenaka’s blog and I’m talking about a life lesson I learned. I’d love if you stopped by.

Also, today is the FINAL day of two giveaways! You could win a gift package with both my books, biscotti, instant latte, a cute notepad and a mug. Hop over to my HOME page for the entry options. The other giveaway is on Goodreads. I’m giving away five paperback copies of Unexpected Family. The entry form is on the sidebar of this blog.

What did you do this weekend?

Have a great day!

 

Is a Writing Shortcut Worth It?

I recently revised a proposal. This particular proposal had already been sent to a valued member of my writing team, who suggested I change a few plot details. I did, and then another person requested a different set of revisions.

No problem!

 

writing

 

Sure, I get nervous waiting for feedback on my work, but when it’s from my critique partners, my agent or my editor, I know anything they say will make my book stronger and more likely to sell. What a blessing!

Anyhow, I have a revising system, which I pretty much repeat every time changes are needed.

  1. Tackle content (story issues) first by brainstorming how to address them, then apply any changes.
  2. Print a copy of the revised piece, red-line and type in the edits.
  3. Read the book (or proposal, synopsis, etc…) out loud.

This means I already did a content edit, red-lines and read the proposal out loud before it was sent to anyone. Then I repeated the process after feedback from the first person. I gave it another go-round based on the second person’s thoughts.

Reading a novel out loud takes many hours. Since this was a proposal (roughly the first 50 pages), it only takes me two hours. But by the third time I’d revised the piece, I questioned whether I needed to read it out loud.

I’ve already read this thing over twenty times. I’ve read it out loud twice already! Do I really need to do it again?

I asked myself how I would feel if I sent it as is, only to come across a glaring grammar issue, misspelled word or a phrase that made no sense later.

Sighing, I popped open a Coke, took a deep breath and began reading it out loud again.

A few hours later, the proposal was on its way to submission. And I felt confident I’d done everything I could to make it shine. Could I have sent it without the final read-through? Of course! The things I caught were minor. But my goal is to put 100% into a project. Your 100% will look different than mine. You might never read your stories out loud, and that’s okay! We all have that one thing we do that goes above and beyond our efforts.

For me, taking the shortcut was not worth it.

If I was on a tight deadline, or my editor needed a quick turnaround on revisions or something like that, I would probably not read the story out loud. My 100% would look different in that situation. It’s important not to be too rigid with our own “rules,” but it’s equally important not to get complacent about our writing.

My hope is to become a great writer as time goes on. It takes experience, good advice, working with trusted professionals and a solid work ethic. We only have control over so much, but the things I do have control over, I’m not going to skimp on!

Have you ever regretted taking a shortcut? On the flip side, have you ever taken a shortcut that turned out to be the right thing to do

There are still a few days left in the Goodreads giveaway of Unexpected Family (entry form is in the sidebar)! Also, if you haven’t entered yet, head to my HOME page for a chance to win my August Unexpected Family gift package (US only)!!

Do you have plans September 1, 2015 from 8-10pm Eastern? We’d love to have you join our Multi-Author Love Inspired Facebook Party!! Eleven authors with September releases of Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical are hosting a big Facebook bash! We’re giving away a book every ten minutes. Just click on THIS LINK and hit “join.”

Have a fun weekend!

 

Me? On Television? Yep!

It’s been an exciting few weeks. The kids went back to school, we’re getting used to homework and fall sports…and I was on TV yesterday! I know–I’m shocked, too!
Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

 

*If the above link doesn’t work for you, try this one! Local Writer Stops by WTOL.

Here’s the thing. I’m not one of those people who secretly wishes to try out for American Idol. Yeah, I can be a goofball, but when my friend called, saying she wanted to schedule me on two morning television shows, my inner show-off went in hiding.

I’d be nervous. I’d talk too fast. I’d say odd things! In other words, I’d turn into a complete spaz! And for real, what was I going to wear??

I spend most of my days in jeans, yoga pants or shorts. Dress up clothes don’t really exist in my wardrobe. Guess who finds shopping super stressful? Yeah, that’s me!

Then I mentally slapped myself. I’m a big believer in making the most of opportunities. My friend had gone out of her way to arrange this, and there was no way I was going to say no out of fear.

So I went shopping. Found three dresses I liked, but they made me look bulky. I realized a cute blue dress I’d purchased for a wedding would work just fine.

When I arrived at the studio, everyone was so friendly. The interviewers made me feel comfortable, and I didn’t sound like a complete weirdo! Bonus!

It was a really fun day, and I will always remember it. If you ever get a chance to do something out of your comfort zone, I hope you’ll shush your inner critic. Get out there and try! You might have fun!

Have you ever debated turning down an opportunity out of fear? How did you get through it?

There are a few days left to enter my month-long giveaway of the Unexpected Family gift package! Click on my HOME page and scroll down for the entry options!

Have a great day!

What Are Your Weekend Plans?

What Are Your Weekend Plans?

My kids went back to school yesterday. I could use two more weeks of summer, but we all survived. It’s been beautiful weather–hot, but not too hot, temps with blue skies and sunshine. Adjusting to the earlier alarm will take time.

A friend recently asked me my weekend plans, and I opened my mouth to speak, then shut it, frowning. I couldn’t remember. How was that possible? I pulled up my calendar app and got out my teeny-tiny purse calendar. Nothing!

It hit me. We have a FREE weekend!! No plans!

*throws confetti, dances a jig, twirls with head tossed back and arms open wide*

This phenomenon happens about three times a year. Beginning next week, our Saturdays and Sundays will be packed with commitments. But this weekend–this glorious summer, no plans weekend!–I’m kicking off my flip flops, ordering a pizza, and reading a stack of magazines.

Life is good!

What are your weekend plans?

There is still time to enter my contests. The first one is on my HOME page for an Unexpected Family Gift Package! The second one is on Goodreads, and you can enter from the sidebar of this blog! Unexpected Family is in stores now and will be available as an ebook on September 1, 2015!

I’m a Craftie Lady!

It’s been an exciting week. My new contemporary Christian romance, Unexpected Family, released in paperback yesterday! The digital book will be available September 1. I have a month-long giveaway going on if you’d like to enter. Just go to my Home page and scroll down for the details!

Another development I’m thrilled about is I’ve joined the group blog, Craftie Ladies of Romance! Craftie Ladies are Love Inspired authors, and you can find out our new releases as well as fun facts about our books and our lives every day.

I’d love if you stopped by! Here’s the link: “New Craftie Lady Jill Kemerer.”

Two more things:

1. The fabulous Laura McClellan interviewed me on her podcast series, The Productive Woman!! I will share the link as soon as I have it.

2. Next Tuesday I’ll be on TV! Yep, I’m going to be interviewed on Fox Toledo Daybreak (sometime between 8:30-9am) and WTOL 11 Your Day (sometime between 9:00-9:30am)! I will share links after for everyone. We’ll probably have a good laugh, because I tend to get spazzy when I’m nervous!! Ha!

I hope you’re having a fantastic day! If you have ANY tips on television interviews, please share!

Have a great day!

It’s That Time Again: Streamlining Family Life

We recently took a lovely vacation full of sunshine and relaxation. I came home with a pocket of anxiety about the upcoming school year, though. August is notorious for being full of things I generally don’t enjoy such as school registration, back-to-school shopping, daily sports’ practices, dentist appointments, parent meetings and what-not. Plus, our kids start school on August 20. Yeah, that’s next week. Not cool.

 

Beach

 

Last fall I was diligent about taking an hour or two on Sunday to plan the week. I left a hard copy of the schedule in the kitchen for all members of the fam to peruse. It worked great. By January, I’d gotten lazy. No more hard copies in the kitchen. One reason? I have to walk 15 to 16 steps up the staircase with my laptop and connect the printer via USB. I know! It takes all of 5 minutes and even that was too hard! Boy, that’s pretty ridiculous and lazy.

To circumvent the whole printer issue, I decided to try a different method this fall. I bought a super cheap planner from Dollar General (two bucks) with a weekly spread for me to write in the dates myself. Since I loathe disorder and piles on my counter, I also bought a super cheap letter holder (three bucks) to pop the planner into. Boom! Feeling better already…

Once a week (Sunday works well for me), I jot down all the practices, appointments, etc… for the week, and at the bottom of each day, I add the dinner menu. Once I have a meal plan, I create a grocery list. Easy!

Here’s another little nugget I tried. I decided to get the Evernote App for my phone since it syncs to my computer and is really easy to use. Well, I created a Note for meal ideas. It took a few hours, but I brainstormed all the meals my family enjoys then listed them by Italian, Mexican, Sandwiches, Grilled, Seafood, Everyday, Chicken, Soups, Sides, Salads. I have almost 90 main dishes list and 35 sides. I *hope* this will make meal planning easier and more varied for us.

I also purchased a wireless printer out of necessity. When I upgraded to Windows 10, my perfectly good old printer ceased to be compatible. That’s life. The new printer will be arriving soon, and I’m sure it will make life easier.

What is your secret to organizing your life? I’d love to hear it!

Have a terrific weekend!

 

Writer’s Life: Mary Ellis

Welcome to another edition of Writer’s Life, my interview series with authors of sweet or inspirational romance. Today I have the pleasure of introducing Mary Ellis. I met Mary several years ago at a book signing in Toledo, Ohio. She and Jody Hedlund signed their latest releases, and it was so delightful to spend time with both of them! Mary is so warm and kind. I wish everyone could meet her. I’ve enjoyed watching her career–she is a very prolific and terrific (hey, that rhymes!) author. Her new mystery series, Secrets of the South, kicks off with Midnight on the Mississippi. More details to follow!

Let’s get to it.

1. What about writing makes your heart sing?

When characters take the initiative and change the direction or tone of the story. I love characters that become larger than life for me. It makes the daily word count so much easier.

 

2. What is the biggest hurdle you’re facing right now as a writer?

Stepping back a little and not working such long days. Due to commitments, I had geared up to be uber-productive for the past several years. Now I need to slow myself down and let life return to a more normal pace. My husband insists on this, and I’m more than ready.

 

3. What do you do to fill your creative well?

I work in my yard or take long walks with my dog. It does both of us good! I talk to Miss Chloe about my characters, while she wags her tail in support or sympathy. But the time we get back, I’m ready to tackle my story again and Miss Chloe? She’s ready for yet another nap.

 

4. What are you working on now?

I’m putting the finishing touches on book 2 of the Secrets of the South Mysteries. Set in Memphis, What Happened on Beale Street is about the death of a talented blues musician and a pair of old friends who come to town to solve his murder. It will release in February.

 

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Wow, Mary, your new series looks amazing! I love what you said about letting the characters take over. That’s a great feeling. I’m glad you’re ready to slow down a bit, but I have to say I’m so impressed with how productive you’ve been. You have so many published novels!! Congratulations, and thanks for being my guest!

 

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Midnight on the Mississippi

 

 

What lies beneath the black water of the bayou?

Hunter Galen, a New Orleans securities broker, suspects his business partner, James Nowak, of embezzling their clients’ money, but he’s reluctant to jeopardize their friendship. After James turns up dead, Hunter realizes his unwillingness to confront a problem may have cost James his life.

Nicki Price, a newly minted PI, intends to solve the stockbroker’s murder as she establishes herself in the career she adores. As she ferrets out fraud and deception at Galen-Nowak Investments, Hunter’s fiancée, Ashley Menard, rubs her the wrong way. Nicki doesn’t trust the ostentatious woman who seems to be hiding something, but is the PI’s growing attraction to Hunter—the police’s only suspect—her true reason for disliking Ashley?

As Hunter and Nicki encounter sophisticated shell games, blackmail, and death threats both subtle and overt, danger swirls around them like the mysterious dark water of the bayou. Only their reliance on faith and fearless determination give them hope they will live to see another day.

 

Interested in buying Midnight on the Mississippi? Click here!

 

 

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Mary Ellis

 

Mary Ellis has written twelve award-winning novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances set during the Civil War. Her latest, Midnight on the Mississippi, first of a new mystery series, Secrets of the South, is set in New Orleans. The second set in Memphis, What Happened on Beale Street, will release in Feb. 2016. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate, a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. Mary enjoys traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming, and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat. She can be found on the web at: www.maryellis.net or Facebook.

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Have you spent time down south? Do you live there? What about it appeals the most to you?

(For me, it’s warm weather. I get tired of winter!!)

Thanks so much for stopping by!