Sunday, March 29, 2009

What is Her Goal?

By Marcia Mickelson

Recently, I had someone evaluate my manuscript and at about page 34, she said what is the main character's goal?

That question really made me think. Sure, my character has goals in life and there are things she wants to accomplish, but my evaluator was right. I hadn't clearly defined what the main character's goal was--what she was in pursuit of.

So, now I'm revising and trying to make it clear what her goal is what she is in active pursuit of during the book.

Each main character should have a goal they're trying to reach and that should be clearly defined early in the book. Even if they don't obtain that goal, which a lot of times they won't, it still needs to be clear to the reader what that goal is. Why are we even interested in this book? If we understand their goal and want them to reach it, then that will make us care about the character. As writers, of course we want readers to care about the characters.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Be Prepared" is not just for Boy Scouts

by Marsha Ward

I have to make this quick, as I have a class at 2 p.m., but I wanted to pop in here from my retreat to urge writers and other artisans to always be prepared to make a sale.

I'm at a retreat for members of TOPS - Take Off Pounds Sensibly - and for talent night, I asked if I could do a reading from one of my novels. The director said yes, and since I had copies in my car, I was able to find an appropriate passage to read.

I always carry copies of my books, but I wish I'd brought more. Although I hadn't intended to sell books here, all of them are gone!

Be Prepared!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Old Heroes

I just wanted to drop in and share a link to a new blog with you. Check it out. The quote is very interesting!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cover judging

I know I've done it. I've judged books by their covers. And a good cover will practically have the book leaping into my hands. I think covers are so crucial to a book's sales.

Of all my books so far, there's only one that I thought was kind of lack-luster. As for a favorite- it's a tie between my second book, No Time for Love, and my most recent, Isabelle Webb. Mystery/romance is what speaks to me with both of these images.

Have you ever read or not read a book based solely on the cover?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Trail of Storms is now available

by Marsha Ward

Trail of Storms showed up on yesterday. The listing says they don't have any books yet, but that will cease to be an issue once you start ordering. It's eligible for Free Super Saver Shipping (on orders over $25), by the way. If you don't own a set yet, order the other novels (The Man from Shenandoah and Ride to Raton) and get the series shipped to you for free.

The funny news is that someone already found out the book is available and has it for sale for a penny less than Amazon. It's a new copy, too.

It's also at, although they've increased the online price there. Do they do that on all their offerings so you'll join the club and get a "discount"?

Soon Trail of Storms will be on (aka

Go forth and buy. It's one way to save the economy. =)

Once you're read Trail of Storms, be sure to return to the online booksellers and do a review or put on a comment. Thank you. I appreciate that.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March Madness Contest

By Marcia Mickelson

I'm hosting a March Madness contest on my blog. Go to for details.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Confession: I really want one!

I can't believe I'm even admitting it! I love, love books. I love owning them, holding them in my hands, writing all over them and keeping my favorites. I never thought I'd see the day when I would actually want an electronic reading thingie. This one is the Kindle 2, and it can all but fly you to the moon.

But this is so cool! Download entire books in nothing-flat! Someone tells you about a great book- say no more, download it now!

And yet...I will always love the act of walking through a bookstore on the hunt for something really good.

This will be yet another part of life I'll learn to balance. I'll always love the old-fashioned book. Yet, this cool, sleek new toy is just too yummy to resist. Someday I'll own one. And in the meantime...I'll keep flipping pages.

What about you? Preferences?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


by Marsha Ward

Trail of Storms has gone to the printer!

Although this milestone makes me very happy, I'm saving the "jumping up and down" for the day when the first carton of books is delivered.


Pretty nice birthday week present, huh?

Edited 3/16/09 to add: Trail of Storms is now available as a trade paperback and e-book at Online book sellers will have the novel listed in a couple of weeks. Go see the book trailer at YouTube. =)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fifty & Fabulous

by Elodia Strain

Today one of my dearest friends is celebrating her 50th birthday.

This friend was my original BFF--there for me whenever and wherever I needed her. She was there when I went to Yellowstone National Park. There when I watched the Olympics for the first time. There for me after school during those years I got teased a lot.

She was the first to teach me about fashion, hair, and makeup. Sometimes she got a bit of flak for this, but for me, it was empowering to have a friend who could be an astronaut, an Olympian--or whatever she wanted to be--and do it all in heels!

In fact, it was playing with this friend that I first started to make up stories. Sometimes very elaborate ones that picked up every day when I got home from school.

Who is this friend, you wonder? Why none other than Miss Barbara Millicent Roberts--aka Barbie.

That's right, Barbie is 50!

And in celebration, today Mattel is throwing my dear friend a pink-carpet birthday bash in a 3,500-square-foot real-life Barbie's Dreamhouse--located in Malibu, California. Found in this dream house: A closet filled with thousands of shoes!

Now that's the friend I know and love.

(I want that Barbie rug! Photo from
Happy Birthday, Barbie! Thanks for the memories!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

What I've Been Up To

By Marcia Mickelson

Well, I haven't blogged in a while and I haven't been present on Facebook much lately. What have I been doing, you ask?

1-Reading like a maniac. I'm trying to read about 8 more books before April 4th so I can vote for the Whitney Awards. I have never read so much in so little time in my life. I think I'm getting a little tired of reading. I'm ready for a break come April.

2- Not writing. I have been neglecting writing due to all the reading. It was a good time to have a break in writing, but I'm missing it. I've been waking up feeling a little aimless because I have no story running through my head right now. I need to get that story going soon.

3- Sleeping on the couch. My husband was out of town last week for training with his company. I get so scared at night that I don't like to sleep in my bed. So, I keep the lights and TV on and bring my blanket and pillow on the couch. It's the only way I can fall asleep when he's not here.

4-Trying to keep a 3 and a half year old busy. My Ruben is so different than my older boys. He doesn't like to sit still to play a game or do a puzzle or color. So, he goes from one activity to another. His favorite game is 'Get Me' in which I have to run around the house to grab him and kiss or tickle him. We play 'Get Me' at least once a day. He also loves to play Ruben Sandwich which is when I put him between 2 pillows to make a sandwich and nibble his ear. I just wish we could sit down and play a game of Memory or do a puzzle without him throwing everything in the air. Or, play some Legos without him demolishing what I build. He keeps me going with very little down time.

5-Trying to keep on top of my other 2 boys. My oldest has had so much homework lately as he's been preparing for a standardized test. With all their homework and appointments 3 days of the week, we've just been going, going. It will be nice to have Spring Break in 1 week. They need some down time.

Well, that's what I've been up to.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

You Go Get Your Palace

One of my favorite movies is Cool Runnings. It's about the first Jamaican Bobsled team and I really like the actors who played the four main parts, along with John Candy, their coach.

In one scene, one of the characters, whose name is Yul Brenner, dares to mention his dreams and he holds up a picture. He says, "I'm going to live there." Another character, Sanka, laughs himself silly at the picture because it's a photo of Buckingham Palace. So Yul gets all embarrassed and crumples the picture. A third character, Junior Bevil, retrieves the picture and straightens it out. He gives it back to Yul and says, "Go ahead Yul Brenner. You go get your palace."

I love that part of the movie the best. (I hope I've remembered everything more or less correctly. It's been awhile since I've seen it). Many times when I've been discouraged or ready to throw away a silly dream, I remember that line.

Makes me also think of Langston Hughes:
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die,
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

That's poetry I can wrap my brain around.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Little Like Andy

by Marsha Ward

I'm feeling a bit fractious today, with all the little glitches in my life that I'm having to endure, so here's a mini-essay a la Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes.

During the cold weather this winter, my mind wandered over a lot of options for keeping warm. At one point, I determined that if I kept my core temperature warm, maybe my skin wouldn't think it was so cold. I mulled over drinks of the warm-to-hot variety, since one can only ingest so much soup.

I don't drink coffee--never have--so that's out.

Hot chocolate is nice, but it has its limitations. Too much of it will send me packing into a small room of my home for long spells of time, where I won't be very productive.

Hot apple cider is okay if it's fresh, but the dried, packaged version has too many chemicals for my taste.

I settled on Postum, a roasted grain beverage from my childhood. It comes in two varieties: regular, and coffee flavor. Like I said, I don't drink coffee, so I set about looking for the regular stuff in my local grocery stores.

I looked and looked. In vain, it seems. Needing something, I bought Pero, which is made from barley, but I'd never tried it before. It's not quite the same flavor as Postum.

Since I don't like to be a quitter, the next time I was in town, I looked in another store, but they didn't even have Pero. I was with a friend, and when I was trundling my groceries out to the car, I mentioned my search.

"Oh, they don't make it anymore," she said.

"What?" I rejoined. "They don't make Postum?"

"I even called Kraft Foods, and no, they don't make it." My friend looked as downcast as I felt. "I have one last jar, and I'm nursing it along."

This is dreadful, folks. Postum has been on the market since 1895! When I moved, a friend helped me, and she threw out my jars of Postum, telling me I could buy more. Well, I can't. And that just stinks! I'm unhappy, Kraft Foods.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ten Random Things...

It's Monday, and although you may be unaccostomed to hearing from me on Monday, it is my day to blog. So, yeah, I made it! 

On my facebook, I've been invited multiple times to write a note called 25 random things. I haven't done it but decided today on Ink Ladies I'll do ten. Here goes:

1. I saw the trailer for my neice's new movie today (Danielle Wolverton). Looks fabulous! Check it out here:

2. I had a great weekend with all my children! I got photos too. I love photography.

3. I still want to buy a Ruesch side-by-side and will one day. It's like off-road racing! Speed and ruggedness!

4. I can't for the life of me figure out what to make for dinner, so I'm stalling.

5. My friend from high school posted photos of us at a high school Valentine's Day dance on Facebook. I had forgotten I'd gone with Chris.

6. The two movies we rented Saturday night were terrible. Really don't waste your time on Open Season 2 or All Roads Lead Home. If you saw either and happened to like them, well we have vastly different opinions on what makes a good movie.

7. I haven't queried an agent in about a month on my finished novel. Sometimes it's difficult to jump back in after multiple rejections.

8. I recently painted my son's room and added vinyl lettering. He loved it! We did it as a surprise for him.

9. I'm freelancing again. I write for the local paper and have an article coming out in another national magazine soon.

10. My friend, Jennifer Rasmusson, forwarded this link to me. It's a talk about creativity by a best-selling author. Fabulous! Check it out here:

Well, that's it. Ten random thoughts. Have a great Monday and I'll do my best to blog next Monday with something that flows, something wonderful and captivating ...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Reading Binge

By Marcia Mickelson

I'm on a reading binge. I've been reading so much this last month. I'm not a fast reader, but I'm really trying to read the Whitney Awards Finalists so I can vote next month.

I actually read an entire book in one day this week. I've never done that before. It always takes me at least 2 days to read a book. I've read three books this week and just started a new one tonight.

I have 10 books left to read before I vote. I'm not sure I can do it. That's a lot of reading, and I think my kids are tired of seeing my nose stuck behind a book. Here I go. Five weeks, ten books. Sounds doable, right?