Book Signings!

I hit to the road this past weekend and headed south first to Greenville, S.C. where I signed at Fiction-Addiction.  What a great store!  It was so much fun meeting readers and signing books.


Three hours south of Greenville, S.C. is Woodstock, GA home to the FoxTale Book Shoppe.  I had the pleasure of speaking to readers about my writing, chatting and signing books on Saturday March 9.

After my signing it was right back to Virginia.



A Writer’s Day


Despite many lofty promises, my writing day rarely is super-efficient.  I always manage to write my 15-20 pages, but the journey is never as smooth as I hoped.

6:00 a.m.                Rise/Coffee/Let the dogs out

6:30  a.m.               Head to the gym, shower

8:00 a.m.                Read email.  Check daily horoscope, weekly horoscope and reread monthly horoscope to see if any of it has come true.   Make sure my miniature dachshund is in her chair by the fireplace (so she doesn’t whine).   Feed the cat for the third time (she’s 15 and forgets she’s just eaten).   Read more email.  Quick check of Facebook.  Let my dog Buddy outside.  And then let him back inside.  Read a little research.

9:30 a.m.              Write 3 pages

10:15 a.m.            Repeat 8 a.m. schedule

11:15 a.m.            Write four more pages.

12 noon                Eat Lunch

1:00 p.m.             Feed the cat again and give Bella and Buddy chew sticks so I can make the final push to finish the afternoon pages.  Bella gets the big chew stick and Buddy gets two small ones (he hides the first in the backyard and then finally settles to eat the second)

1:00 p.m.           Start a spaghetti sauce for dinner (or put a chicken into the oven to roast)

1:30 p.m.        Burst of energy to finish the last thirteen pages.  (My children are in college but I still can’t help but forget the elementary school bus arrives at 2:35 and I feel a need to be finished by then)

4:00 p.m.        Finish up.  Walk the dogs.

After dinner is research time.  This is when I read the pile of nonfiction books by my desk.


Signing Books!

Had a great few days singing books!  First stop was Hooray for Books! in Old Town Alexandria and then it was off to Boonsboro, Maryland to sign at Turn the Page bookstore.

First stop Hooray for Books!

Old Town Alexandria just after the sun set. Beautiful city!

Loved signing at Hooray for Books!

Signing at Turn the Page….

Signing at Turn the Page. I’m pictured here with Robin Kaye and Laura Florand.

Author Alyson Richman author of ‘The Lost Wife.’

A great crowd turned out for the signing despite the rain.

Left to Right: Robin Kaye, Mary Burton/Mary Ellen Taylor, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, Alyson Richman and Laura Florand.

Sunday Supper

One of my favorite go-to meals is a roast chicken.  I season with salt, pepper, dried dill and garlic powder before roasting in a 375 degree oven.  I cook until the juices run clear, which is about an hour.

And the best part of a roasted chicken is that you can not only make stock, but can use the bits of extra chicken in soups, enchiladas or as salad toppers.

Tip:  to make the perfect stock, I put the discarded bones in a pot of cold water along with a few sliced onions and carrots.  I turn the stovetop onto simmer and let the stock cook very slowly.  I never let it reach a boil because this will make the stock cloudy.  Slow and steady wins the race with a great stock.

After the stock has simmered for several hours, drain and then let the stock stand in cool place so that the fat rises to the top.  Once you’ve skimmed the fat off the top, the stock is ready to use!




Writing One Draft At A Time

Thought I’d share my process of writing.  I made a quick video and posted it.  I’ve also written out the steps I outlined in the video.  (In the video, I managed to reference two draft 3s but I mean drafts 3 and 4.)


Writing or editing a novel can be overwhelming. However, breaking down the process into steps or drafts not only cuts down on stress, but also produces a better product.

The First Draft/The Sloppy Copy:  Armed with a synopsis, set a daily page goal and start writing.  At this stage, no editing allowed.  If a scene comes to you out of order, write it.  The First Draft is all about getting the story down.

The Second Draft/A Sound Structure:  Start smoothing the story’s structure.  Make sure the scenes flow and are in order.  Don’t bother with real word crafting at this stage.  Start a running list of characters, time stamp each scene and record number of pages per chapter.

Third Draft/Fine-Tuning:  Focus not only what is said, but also how it is said.   Identify and clearly define story themes and character motivations.   Does each scene and chapter end with a page-turner? 

Fourth Draft/Polishing:  Really perfect sentences.  Weed out weak words, eliminate passive voice, use literary devices, and search for clichés.  See back for detailed tips.

Fifth Draft/THE BIG READ:  Print the book out, put it in a binder and read it.  You’ll be amazed what you notice on the printed page versus the computer scene.

Sixth Draft/Proof Read: Read the book out loud, have your computer read the book back to you, or reprint the book and give it to another reader.

 Perfecting Your Sentences Checklist

 1.  Weed out weak words such as:


















‘ly’ words

2.  Rework passive verbs such as:








To Be

3.  Dust off those literary devices and see if add a few alliterations or simile

4.  Search for clichés

5.  Make sure not only the first word of a sentence is strong but also the last word.

READ Center Volunteer

I joined READ Center Volunteers (l-r:  MB, Martha Pulley, Jann Malone, Harriet Scruggs, Jane Henderson, Anne Napps) to staff a book sale  for Richmond Times-Dispatch employees.  All proceeds from the event went to the READ Center, a non-profit group serving Richmond Metro area residents struggling with illiteracy.

(l-r) Mary Burton, Martha Pulley, Jann Malone, Harriet Scruggs, Jane Henderson, Anne Napps