March 7, 2012

Made It Moment: P.L. Blair

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 9:43 pm

Shadow Path

P.L. Blair’s Moment touches on a theme around here–that of there being no one Made It Moment in a writer’s career, but a secession of them, or many moments that build. A related topic is how we writers keep raising the bar. It’s enough to get an agent…then an offer…then a book published…then a bestseller…then 10 of them. Or, it’s enough to complete a novel…then revise it…publish it…sell 1000 copies. Or 10,000. Today’s author reminds us to celebrate everything even as we never let go of the dream. Keep writing, keep dreaming–that may be the best Moment of all.

P.L. Blair

My “made it moment” has come not as a single point in time but … many.

The day my friend (who’d been reading my first book (Shadow Path) chapter by chapter as I wrote it) said she wanted to launch a publishing company – and would like to publish Shadow Path as her first book. That was a dream come true.

First book signings … first book reviews …

Attending science fiction/fantasy conventions as a guest panelist. People actually wanting to hear what I have to say about writing books! But more than that, having people come up to me and say, “I’ve read your book, and I like it!” People asking, “When is the next one coming out?”

Suddenly I’m not “just” a published author. I’m a published author with fans!

Most recently … Shadow Path winning a Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewers Choice Award. Third place in PRG’s Young Adult category! What a feeling of ecstasy!

I’m still learning so much about this process of writing and publishing – of being published – and I still wonder every day if I’m doing it right. These are validations. These are the signposts that tell me Yes! I can actually do this!

My publisher recently received Amazon’s Kindle sales figures for November: 215 copies of Shadow Path sold in that month! Another “made it” moment for me.

Some days, I still wonder … Where is all of this going? Will my books earn enough, eventually, to repay my publisher for her faith in me? Can I succeed as an author?

But … I can’t not write! It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’m on this course for better or worse, treasuring all these wonderful, positive moments.

And still keeping my fingers crossed …

P.L. Blair is a native of Tyler, Texas, holds degrees in journalism, and has more than 30 years’ experience as a newspaper reporter. Author of (to date) four fantasy/detective novels (her Portals series), she currently divides her year between Sheridan, Wyo., and Rockport, Texas, where she has family. She is companion to two basset hounds, a long-haired dachshund and a cat – all rescues. She writes a regular column and is a book reviewer for

March 6, 2012

Guest Post: Pamela DuMond

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 12:58 pm

Cupcakes, Sales, and Cocktails

Pamela DuMond shared her Made It Moment here last year and today she is back to update us on how her writing life and dreams have evolved since. Pam’s debut novel CUPCAKES, LIES, & DEAD GUYS was an e book hit and so Pam is situated to reflect on both the benefits and shortfalls of digital publishing. Read on for Pam’s unique take, and celebrate the e release of her brand new CUPCAKES novella!

Pamela DuMond

Publishing: A Foot in Two Worlds – A Dream in All
The publishing world’s changing every day.

Traditional publishers, known as the Big 6, are now in 2012 thought by many (not all) to be the Big 7. This is because Amazon is pushing (also termed, ‘stepping-on-many-toes,’) in their quest to join this private club.

In 2010, “Indie Publishers,” was the term used to designate small presses.

In 2010,“Self-Published,” referred to those brave souls/individuals who chose to forge ahead and publish on their own. Two years previously, this action was frowned upon by well — almost everyone.

Times Change…. CUT TO –

2011 and 2012.

Indie Publishers,” is now the preferred terminology previously used for “Self-Publishers.”

Formerly termed, “Indie Publishers,” are now called, “Small Presses.”

Many writers that used to call “Traditional Publishers,” now term them, “Legacy Publishers.” (FYI: Many traditionally published writers and their publishers do not like or condone this term.)

It’s a little confusing, yes?

Am I out of my flippin’ mind for wanting a foot in ALL these worlds?


I finished my first novel – Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys in 2008. Approximately forty agents rejected my ms. In 2009 I signed with a junior agent at a major agency. Color me happy!

In 2009-2010 my agent shopped my novel to approximately forty editors at traditional publishing houses where it was again, rejected. After nine months, the super-fine agency fired my agent, fired me and I was agent-orphaned. (This sucked.)

One Foot: Small Presses

Lucky for me, a writer friend/acquaintance picked up the ball and ran with it. She asked Ken Lewis at Krill Press if he’d read my book. He loved it, said yes, and we had a deal. Yay! Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys was published in late 2010. To date it has sold nearly 8500 copies. These aren’t Amanda Hocking figures, but considering most self-pubbed and small press books sell between 100 to 1000 copies, it’s a decent number and I’m proud of it.

I also marketed the heck out of this book on a dime. (Different blogpost.)

In 2010, not knowing what would happen with Cupcakes novel, I wrote a novel in a completely different genre. It’s a YA time travel historical romantic thriller called The Messenger’s Handbook.

Second Foot: Traditional Publishers – I’m still dreaming.

I’ve been shopping The Messenger’s Handbook to agents and publishers (small, big, and micro) for a while. Again, for the most part I’m hitting closed doors, closed minds, and hearing a cacophony of, “Nos.”

One micro press loves it and offered to publish it. But also encouraged me to continue shopping it to bigger presses with better distribution. Several well-connected small presses requested the full ms. A few said no, and I’ve yet to hear back from others.

Some agents are perusing my ms’s fulls and partials. Just today I got yet another agent rejection.

Thanks to Jenny Milchman’s encouragement, I entered The Messenger’s Handbook in the ABNA competition where, thanks to writers who helped me hone the pitch, it made it to the second round.

Foot Number Three: Self-Publishing

In summer of 2011, readers started asking about the next Cupcakes book. Oopsies! I was working on two sequels but knew neither would be completed before the end of 2011.

I decided to set these aside and instead wrote a Cupcakes Novella. I hired my editor. I hired, an e-book conversion company, (which I highly recommend.) And my friend and fab screenwriter, Michael James Canales, created the novella’s cover.

I self-pubbed Cupcakes, Sales, and Cocktails on 12/24/11.  As of 3/6/12, it’s sold over 1600 copies.

I embarked on another adventure by putting the novella up for free on the Kindle DP Select program. Exciting- yes. Scary – yes. Necessary – yes. I did two give-away days in early February. 18, 200 copies were dl. In the “Free” Kindle store, the novella hit #8 in overall sales, #1 in Humor, #1 in Mystery, and #1 in Female Sleuths. Exciting! I did another giveaway on March 1st.  And only gave away 262 books. Go figure.

Back to the Second Foot: Traditional Publishers

And I’m back to my dream. In today’s market, with all the craziness —  how long does one wait for the agents and traditional publishers and even small presses to respond?

Unlike Jenny Milchman who persevered for eleven years, (major congrats on Jenny’s tenacity and her book deals,) remember, I don’t currently have an agent. Which means I cannot shop my YA to traditional publishing houses.

I have harbored the dream of breaking into traditional publishing for years. I want a savvy agent. I want to work with an incredible editor at a well-connected house. I want to walk into a bookstore and see my books. I want to attend signings. (My own as well as other authors.)

I’d love a foot in all worlds. But when is it time to face the reality? Call it a day? Move on? What would you do? What do you think? What is your story?

Pamela DuMond was born and raised in the Midwest. She moved to Los Angeles for love. When that tanked, she stayed for the beautiful weather. While Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys is her debut novel, she contributed essays on intuition to Soul Moments: Marvelous Stories of Synchronicity – Meaningful Coincidences from a Seemingly Random World, edited by Phil Cousineau. She’s also edited more than her share of self-help books.

Pamela discovered and pitched Erin Brockovich’s life story to a production company. Erin Brockovich the movie was nominated for four Academy Awards. Julia Roberts won her Best Actress Oscar for portraying Erin.

With Joe Wilson, Pamela co-created Celebrity Jar of Air, the internationally acclaimed comedic jar that may or may not have contained air molecules breathed by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Pamela is an author, writer, chiropractor and cranio-sacral therapist. She loves reading, writing, the beach, yoga, movies, animals and her family. She lives in Venice Beach, California with her furballs. She’s currently writing the second book in the Annie Graceland series, as well as a YA para-normal romance. She lives for a good giggle.

March 2, 2012

Made It Moment: Anita Page

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 12:55 pm

Damned if You Don't

If you’re a writer, I dare you to read Anita Page’s Moment and not want to do the exact thing she describes in her last line. Oh, Anita, you said it better than I have–I’m hoping for that very thing as I near the climax of my latest novel. And if you’re a reader, I dare you not to be intrigued by Anita’s description of murder in the mountains. This debut just landed on my Wish List. Read on to see what happens when The email finally arrives!

Anita Page

I’m always inspired by other writers’ made it moments. Thank you, Jenny, for the chance to tell my story.

First, the moment. In October 2010, I was visiting family in Southern California before heading to San Francisco for Bouchercon. One morning I stopped at the motel business center to check e-mail. I was on one computer, my husband on the other.  I’d submitted my novel, Damned If You Don’t, to Lisa Smith at L&L Dreamspell a couple of months earlier. When I saw Lisa’s name in the inbox, I told myself it was going to be another rejection—magical thinking that’s supposed to ward off disappointment, but never does. I read Lisa’s email twice, just to make sure I’d gotten it right. Henry James said the most beautiful words in the English language are “summer afternoon.” I propose this instead: “We would like to offer you a contract.” Cool woman that I am, I casually said to my husband, “Why don’t you take a look at this?”

Some background: I began writing short stories in college, and over the years had a few published. They were what you’d call literary, but only if your standards were fairly low. I worked at journalism for a while, my first stint for a small monthly paper in New York. After we moved to the Catskills, I did freelance feature writing for a regional newspaper—tremendous fun, but not much money. I began teaching, which I loved, and stopped writing except very occasionally.

In 2005, I retired with no intention of writing again. I began anyway thanks to the encouragement of a wonderful writers’ group. This time around I concentrated on crime fiction, and had some short stories published in ezines and anthologies. I also began work on a full- length mystery set in the Catskills, where many of my stories take place. We’d moved from the area some years before, but the mountains called to me when it came to writing about murder. I started Damned If You Don’t while trying unsuccessfully to find an agent for the earlier manuscript. It was the kind of first attempt in which the characters spend pages searching for the plot, and I eventually gave it a decent burial.

I took DIYD through six or seven rewrites over a two-year period, and then began pitching and submitting to agents. None of them felt passionate enough, as the saying goes, to offer representation. I then sent the manuscript to L&L Dreamspell. They’d published Murder New York Style, an anthology that included one of my stories, and I hoped that connection would get the manuscript read. And that takes us to the motel business center and Lisa Smith’s lovely letter.

That was most definitely a made it moment, but in an odd way I felt it really belonged to my characters. Hannah Fox, Jack Grundy, the intrepid Women of Action—people who’d been living in my head for years—would move out into the world. That realization was the great thrill of the morning for me. The work, after all, goes on—a pleasure, and also a struggle. I’m sure this will always be true, though I admit to a fantasy that someday I’ll sit down and write the seventh draft first.

Anita Page’s short stories have appeared in journals, ezines, and anthologies, including Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices and the MWA anthology, The Prosecution Rests. She received a Derringer Award from the Short Mystery Fiction Society in 2010 for “‘Twas the Night,” which appeared in The Gift of Murder.

Damned If You Don’t, her first novel, is set in the Catskill Mountains. It features Hannah Fox, a community activist raised in the sixties on picket lines and peace marches, who can’t turn her back when a friend’s land is threatened by an eminent domain scam that ends in murder.

Anita and her husband live in a bucolic corner of New York’s mid-Hudson Valley, where she writes, thinks about writing, and reads other people’s writing. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Damned If You Don’t is available in paperback and as an e-Book from Amazon. The paperback is available at Barnes and Noble.

Read more at and

« Newer Posts

Powered by WordPress