Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Buying and Editing!!! And sometimes writing?

So it's been too long since I last blogged. Again. *hangs head* However, I have good reason (even thought that's really no excuse -- there is a difference). I have been buying and editing books for Crescent Moon Press left and right, up and down, and even catty corner!! LOL

I thought this would be a good chance to give some pointers on what I do and don't want to see in submissions. I want you to be excited about your book. It comes across in the query, believe me. Have confidence in yourself and your writing. This is most important, because if you don't love it -- no one else will.

Second and almost equally important --- REVIEW that manuscript and have OTHERS look it over so that when it's time to be sent, you are presenting the most polished and attractive version of your book. It is also vital that you pay attention to your first pages, first paragraph, and first line. You may have the greatest story ever, but if you have no hook or do not draw your readers in at the beginning, they won't give you a chance to tell the story at all. For example, DO NOT start your story in a dream or waking up from sleep. YAWN! Give me a great first line that tells what your character's most pressing dilemma is at the moment (and I don't mean breakfast!) If you are able to convey a sense of urgency and create an immediate connection with your character, you've already won half the battle. Now, that being said, do not give me an awesome first line that has nothing to do with the book! (It happens..bad form!)

Third, be ready to succeed. If you get a request for a partial or a full after submitting a query -- send that material in ASAP. If for some reason you can't, respond and let me know. But sooner is always better. :) If you get an offer, respond immediately. (Even if you need time to mull it over -- respond and let us know you've received the offer, and ask when the offer expires so that you don't miss your first deadline. :)

Finally, (well, finally for today -- I could go on and on and on....) if you are not sure your book fits, submit it anyway. (Unless you write something that we say we absolutely do not take.) If you still aren't sure, ask!

I actually started this post at the beginning of September....tsk, tsk, tsk. Time is not my friend lately. I want to get all the wonderful books I've acquired out into the market so that you all can enjoy them! So I will get back to editing and hope to see something exciting from you!

May the muse inspire you to succeed and may you listen to her!


Friday, June 10, 2011

Happily Ever After...Revisited

So some more great news...I know, can you stand it? My daughter, Melinda, has started doing book reviews.(Yes, my family LOVES all things book related!) She reviews for a couple of sites (The Romance Reviews and Coffee and Romance). She's also started her own blog and has posted a couple of reviews, including one for Soul Reborn by Jean Murray, a Crescent Moon Press publication! Check it out, she gives Jean and the first book in Murray's series revolving around ancient Egyptian mythology, a great and well-deserved review! Five slippers! (She reviews by glass slippers...too cute!) So add her blog to your list and and follow the other sites listed above to check out some of her other reviews.

Great job Mel!

For the rest of us...may the muse bless us with great inspiration so that we write many books for her to review!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Nalini Singh!

Okay so a lot of writers start out as readers aka fans of other authors. I am not ashamed to say I have some HUGE admiration for many authors and love their books dearly even though I rarely read "for leisure" these days. I use "leisure" instead of "pleasure" because I am pleased with what I read. Well most of the time...there are some submissions that well...are better off not seeing the light of day, even in summary. But I do love doing what I do so I am reading for pleasure when I'm reading submissions or reading over drafts that I'm editing.

But as a fan, I have also turned my daughters (rest assured they are of appropriate age) into fans of many of my favorite authors as well. This is an amazing interest that we all share and Tuesdays are often very exciting around our house. Well, May 31st was particularly exciting as the long awaited story of Hawke and Sienna in Nalini Singh's Psy/Changeling Series was due to release. (See fantastic review of KOS here.) As I said, me and daughters = BIG FANs. We'd also learned in the last couple years that my niece shared our interest in these books as well.  So as my Morgan's bday was approaching and Nalini was going to be a mere 3 1/2 hours away (she lives in New Zealand and we live in California, so that's as close as we were going to get for some time!), we decided to trek to Roseville and attend her book signing. (I know, I am an awesome mom...or so I was told many times that day.) ;)

We had a scrumptious dinner at Joe's Crab Shack in Sacto on the way!

Then we headed into Roseville for the actual signing and met the very gracious and awesome Nalini Singh. She took quite a bit of time with us as all four of us went up at once and had books signed. (Liz Altenburg, one of MY authors that I've signed at CMP - her book The Summerland is due out in October, also met up w/us and took the pictures below. Thanks Liz!!!)

The Whole Dragon Flerd and Miss Nalini Singh!
So after some battle with Mel's metal beastie, (we could've taken my car, but no they wanted to take hers...does anyone listen to mom??), we made it back home. Thank you to the Samaritans in Sacto as well as Liz for coming to our rescue!

And one more final pic of the Dragon Flerd (inside joke...just go with it.) ;)

So, to my authors...keep writing and one day, you too may enjoy having a mom and her crazy daughters/niece-daughter travel 3 plus hours to come have your book signed. To all of you other writers, as well as myself...may the muse find you and you enjoy similar success as well!


CMP News!!!

Have some news from my publisher about our paranormal submissions:

Due to the tremendous success CMP has enjoyed in the paranormal genre, we are now opening to submissions of all paranormal categories including suspense,thriller, mystery, and gothica. If your story has any type of paranormal element, CMP may be interested in acquiring your novel. See the submissions page for guidelines.

CMP Submissions Page

Go forth and submit!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Good Grief!

It's been how long since I posted??? Yikes! I was doing so well...but then I went to RT and got semi-caught up, and then I went to Salem for the NEC, got back and got semi-caught up. Had the Relay for Life, got sick, didn't get caught up. Had fundraising softball tourney for Mitochondrial Disease in honor of my niece Brittany Wilkinson, got even sicker. Am now well, but still catching up!!

Okay, lots of great stuff going on! Really great stuff! RT was a huge blast as well as an amazing venue to meet up with all sorts of resources for both sides of my writing. So my editing and writing hats were very happy. :) I met some peeps in person that I'd only known online for some time, like the lovely and talented Melissa Mayhue! Was standing right next to her and turned around and there she was! We'd known each other through a small online group we both belonged to, but with 1200 people at RT, what are the odds? We totally rocked the CMP Spotlight, BUT not many attended due to a pitch workshop at the same time and it being one of the very first and learn. But met the fabulous Lori Perkins of both the L. Perkins Agency (Literary Agents) and Ravenous Publishing. Amazing person! RT Club was fabulous and we had a gorgeous basket filled with goodies that was raffled off to a very crowded room on Friday...had tons of entries to pick from!

We also unveiled the first issue and volumes of the Crescent Moon Press, a newspaper showcasing our authors and their books in a unique format that they've collaboratively written. Each author has submitted an article (or two or three - you know authors!) in breaking news format, help wanted, obituaries or Dear Destroyer (similar to Dear Abby). We compiled them into a beautifully aged news press which was handed out at RT and then subsequently at NEC. Thanks to Sally O'Brien for all her hard work in getting out this beautiful publication!!! (As well as all her help at the RT - thanks Feef!)

Then I had the opportunity of a lifetime to have three lovely ladies accompany me (my two daughters and niece - whom I cherish dearly). They entertained themselves by day and at night when the RT Balls (Faerie, Vampire, Hollywood ) we hit the dance floor AND stayed! - We didn't know about the Balliwood or we'd have been there too!  Met  up with the awesome CMP Author Christine Ashworth and the amazing multi-published Syrie James at the Faerie Ball. Check out some of the fun pics below!

I could go on and on, but this post would be a million pages long! So suffice it to say we had a fabulous time, Crescent Moon Press was represented as the awesome growing powerhouse press that is, and I was exhausted but elated when I got home. Thank you to my Raging Dragon Flerd for traveling with me and making it a spectacular trip!! I love you ALL!

By the time I had recovered and caught up, it was time to board a plane for Massachusetts! Yes, since I'm from California, that's quite a flight! But I got to spend time with my absolutely incredible bosses. Not many people would enjoy spending a whole weekend with their superiors, but I loved it. These are spectacular ladies with a vision for CMP and its authors that is truly phenomenal. Steph Murray and Marlene Castricato are sisters of the heart and truly have a passion for what they are doing. I was honored to spend time with them and enjoyed it immensely. We also met up with some of our CMP authors Michelle Picard, Catherine Collins, and Liz Altenburg at the conference. Most definitely worth the trip!

NEWS! first publication is due out soon! Yes, I am officially published! It's only a poem, but I can still say I am published! :) Thematic Magazine is a literary magazine dedicated to helping writing professionals become published. In that vein, the only content is poems and short stories. July's theme is freedom and I submitted a poem about freedom from the worry of the extreme medical issues surrounding my family the last few years and the angst/conflict of being torn between taking care of the sick one and being needed at home. Look for it in their July issue! It's aptly titled, "Fear and Freedom". :D

Also working on a new trilogy that I know will be published when it's finally written. That's right, I KNOW it will be published. :) Stay tuned!

Told ya I had lots of great news! :)

May the muse bless you!


Friday, April 1, 2011

RT Convention

So you probably know that I'll be at the  Romantic Times Convention, April 6-10th, in Los Angeles, taking appointments, manning the Publisher's Spotlight table and giving away great prizes. What you don't know is that Crescent Moon Press has an awesome new marketing presentation that showcases some of our authors and their new releases of this first quarter in a new unique and most becoming way! To find out what it is, stop by the CMP table and find me!

See ya there!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Interview at Micole's Blog!

I've been interviewed by my wonderful friend, Micole who came up with different questions and hopefully I came up with different information. So it's not the same old, same old. So stop by Micole Writes Romance and see what I have to say about Crescent Moon Press, submissions and a contest that Micole and I came up with for three lucky authors. :D

I will also be leaving for LA at the end of the month to go the RT Convention where I will be speaking on an editor's panel with the wonderful Judi McCoy, a multi-published author, of course at least once with CMP, and the new COO of CMP. I will also be hosting a publisher's spotlight for CMP on the 6th as well as taking author pitches. Woot woot!! It's going to a blast!  

So that said, I'd better get back to work and get some more editing and reading done!! Then maybe some writing! :D

Wherever you and are and whatever you're doing...may the muse find you! Keep writing!


Donna O'Brien, Acquisitions Editor

Donna O'Brien, Author

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Interview at Castles and Guns is up!!

My interview at Castles and Guns went really well. I was actually done with it a couple of weeks ago...LOL CMP Author  Kinley Baker  was great and sent me some really good questions. I hope I gave good answers.

The only thing I could have elaborated on was when she asked about the perfect submission. I said, I wanted something I hadn't seen before. While that's true, I had also already talked about what I like as far as genres go, but I want from a submission what I get from a great book. You know when you find a new author you love to read? You pick up that first book from them and you start reading and there are almost goosebumps, you can't hardly put the book down, your family calls your name -- you don't hear them. A small fire could break out and you wouldn't even notice... it's almost torture until the next book comes out. 

THAT would be my perfect submission.

So head on over and check out the rest of  my interview!!!



Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy....

Wow....sooooo much going on right now! In a good way though. :)  I'll put on my Editor hat first:
Crescent Moon Press released not one but two titles today!! Woot, woot!! Traci Bell's Entangled and Lara Nance's Memories of Murder!! Congratulations and Happy Release Day Ladies. You can click on either of the links and they will take you straight to Amazon!

Secondly, Editor's hat still in place, I will be interviewed by Crescent Moon Press Author, Kinley Baker at Blog Castles and Guns on Wednesday March 9th. She's grilling me on what I'm looking to acquire and how to submit!! Way cool. Stop by and leave a comment!

AND, still wearing my Editor's hat though (I rather like it *grin*), I have teamed up with Micole Black of Micole Writes Romance to offer a contest!!! I like to twist things so this isn't just a first line or a first paragraph contest, it's a First AND Last line contest. Yes, the first line of the manuscript and your last line. There will be a prize for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. The winner gets to submit a full to me and 2nd and 3rd get to submit a synopsis and their first three chapters!!  Winners will be announced on March 24th --- so exciting!!!

Finally, I have started the edits on my first acquisition for Crescent Moon Press, I can't give away everything yet, but I'll just say it's going to be a great book!!!

Okay, now my writer's hat, finished doing the sprints and added about 20K words to my own MS  last week. Not too bad, given all the new changes and arranging going on!!

Until next time, keep writing and may the muse bless you with tons of muchness!!


Donna O'Brien, Acquisitions Editor

Donna O'Brien, Author

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Big News

I'm now working with Crescent Moon an Acquisitions Manager/Editor. Which means...yes, I get paid to read and buy books (as in acquire manuscripts and have them published so you all can buy them too)!!! How cool is that?!!

I am beyond thrilled. Everyone at CMP is very awesome and welcoming. I just know this is going to be the beginning of great things.  I'll put up a special post later as to what I'm looking for specifically and guidelines and so forth. But for now, just head on over to the Crescent Moon Press site and see their submissions page:  Submissions. Or you can send a query of any full length (70,000 to 120,000 words) paranormal, fantasy, time travel, with strong romantic elements to me here.

Now this doesn't mean I have given up on my writing. I've done more than 11K words in three days and I'm still going strong! Woot woot. :) I switched back to working on that MS because I was doing sprints basically and I had a plot problem with OMDB. You know those characters who all the sudden decide that they don't like your plot line and they want to do it THEIR way.  Yea, those characters. They are the most frustrating, but usually tend to be the most richly developed and rewarding. However, not the best time to sit down and do sprints.

So, since it'd been a while since I'd sat down with the Shevan and the poetic but extremely psycho stalker and, of course, the hot alpha FBI hero, I read back over some preceding chapters before I started. It was tough not to get in there and edit. But I did it anyway. And you know, I'd forgotten how much I liked that book with all the twisty turns, drama, and fast pace. Definitely the right choice for my sprinting exercise.

Life's a lot like that with it's twisty just follow them and never know where they are going to lead you sometimes. Oh, we plan, but just like when we plot our storylines and characters, life doesn't always listen to us. And just like with writing, that's usually when it's the most richly developed and rewarding.

With that in mind, I will get back to those characters and see what they come up with for today.


Donna O'Brien

Donna O'Brien, Acquisitions Manager Editor

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Just Write....

Just Write. Two words -- such a simple concept. AND so utterly obvious. This has been an underlying theme in several of my blogs, very often the crux of many of the workshops I've taken, and advice given by published authors.  But if it's so easy and obvious, why doesn't everyone write? Why do those who do write ever get stuck or doubt themselves? Why isn't everyone published?

Because writing is flippin' hard, that's why. Even when you "just write". What do you write about? What is your theme? Is it different enough from everything else that's out there? Is it well written? Do you have a good grasp of Goal, Motivation and Character or Scene and Sequel? Who do you listen to when you get three or twelve conflicting opinions on your current WIP and which direction or structure it should follow?

These were some of the things we were discussing when my friend Kadee Sinclair and I visited Black Diamonds RWA for their weekend retreat in Castro Valley. We were in a beautiful villa and an intimate setting of several like-minded authors. As in we all wanted to better our craft, even though we were at various stages of our careers.

Virna  DePaul gave a very motivational presentation on the highs and lows of pursuing a career as a writer which included some insights into the different variables and whimsy of the publishing world. Her journey was impressive. Not in the sense that she caught a lucky break and was published right away or that she struggled for many, many years, but that she suffered some extreme highs and lows and stuck with it despite the disappointment.  But her basic message was...always write. No matter what else is going on, keep writing.

Hilary Sares was also on hand to walk us through the vagaries of the publishing process and gave us a few helpful hints on what not to do. It's always good to have a realistic idea of what you can and cannot expect, whether we like it or not.  But her pearl for the day --- believe in yourself and your writing and send out only your best work. Be professional at all times and don't give up if this is what you really want to do. (Are you sensing the theme yet?)

We heard from Lori Wilde, via Skype because she was "talk-blocked" by mother nature, and she talked about Scene and Sequel a little bit and a few other questions we tossed her way. One of the questions she answered dealt with knowing what advice to take and what advice to leave. She said as you develop your voice you will just instinctively know what is best for your writing.

As I thought about it, I realized I had already started honing this skill. Yay me! Hopefully, I'm doing it right and making wise choices so that my work is as tight as it can be. However, if I don't write anything in the first place, there is nothing to hone and refine. Nor is there any way to develop my voice. So again, the basic message is Just Write!

It's not an easy business, but if you love what you do, then do it, and with some perseverance, hard work, love and luck, at some point, it will all come together. So here's hoping that the muse finds you...just writing.



P.S. Check out Virna's website for her debut release Chosen By Blood

Friday, January 28, 2011

Life, Loss and Love

Wow, so a lot has happened since I last blogged. That tends to happen in say...six months or so. We had my husband's 50th birthday/Retirement Celebration which was hugely successful but an enormous amount of work. I had a ton of help and it was still overwhelming. But so worth it. He is incredibly deserving; injuries he sustained forced him to retire from a job he loved and did so well, and he made it to 50 in spite of those very same injuries. He is truly a real life hero and he's ALL mine!!

After that, school started and the holidays were upon us and gone before I knew it. Time just goes way too fast. Then as I thought I might be settling into a routine that included writing again (yay me!), we were hit with a loss last week. My father-in-law, a very stern and imposing figure for most of his life, who turned to loving tenderness, a veritable marshmallow when surrounded by his grandchildren, succumbed at the age of 84. It was a blessing in that he is no longer suffering and neither is my mother-in-law because she no longer has to walk into his room and wonder if he will speak to her that evening, eat, or even know who she is. But most importantly, she doesn't have to watch him suffer ever again.

We didn't have a chance to talk about my writing, but I like to think he would've supported me. He wasn't necessarily the type that told me what he thought of what I did, but it did get back to me, that he was proud of me. And I did know that he loved me, if for nothing else than for standing by his son, for taking on and loving his precious granddaughter, and for giving him three more loving grandchildren. I certainly loved him.

We will all miss hearing him argue about the latest political issue, or his favorite sports team. But most of all we miss seeing his raised eyebrow, his cheek stuck out for a kiss, and hearing "Love you" when he said goodbye.

So again, I am reminded of how precious a gift life is and how much we need to make of it. We must live each day doing what we love or at least loving what we do at some point during the day and telling those we love what they mean to us. Writing is a way I can accomplish all of these things. It is something I love to do, I can express my feelings in a multitude of ways, directly to those I love or in the fiction I write.

Dad, I love you and will miss you more than you will ever know. Thanks for the multitude of times you picked up and ferried my kids to and fro, and for just being there, someone I could always count on whenever help was needed. May the sound of happy music, And the lilt of Irish laughter, fill your heart with gladness, that stays forever after.

In Memory of Robert M. O'Brien, August 1926-January 2011

Slainte` Dad

Donna O'Brien

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