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We’ve Moved!

SisterMuses has a new home on the web! Please update your bookmarks and come join the party at our new website!!!

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Hope to see you there!!!

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

SK and J. Leigh

Writerly Recipes — Lemon Ginger Tea

Well, it’s that time of year around here…for some reason the nasty bronchitis/cold/ick goes around in early spring down here, and I swear half the people I know are struggling through it right now.  Being sick is, generally speaking, a rather unpleasant sort of thing, and I try to avoid it as much as possible.  I’ve warded off this spring’s epidemic with my favorite tea.  Anything that can keep me writing and fighting is good in my book!  And this tea has the benefit of being insanely delicious.

So.  Here you are…Lemon Ginger Tea.  Are you ready for this?  It’s really, really complicated.

You need:

  • 1/2 Lemon
  • Ginger (fresh is best, but I’ve used powdered and even crystallized ginger before)
  • Honey (get local honey if you can!)
  • 1 cup Hot Water

Got that?  Now here are the uber-difficult instructions.  Squeeze the lemon into the hot water.  Grate in about a teaspoon of fresh ginger, or toss in a few shakes of powdered ginger, or add a chunk or two of crystallized ginger (or heck, add crystallized ginger AND fresh ginger!).  Add honey to taste.  I like about 2 teaspoons.  Stir.  Enjoy.

That’s all there is to it!  It’s incredibly powerful as an immune booster, because lemons have much more Vitamin C than oranges (and orange juice in cartons loses its Vitamin C due to denaturing in about a day after opening), and ginger is a huge help for respiratory and circulatory health.  And of course honey is just a super food all on its own.

Now grab that cup of tea and go cozy up with a good book to write or read!

J. Leigh’s Website Overhaul

I’m in the process of renovating my author website…Wordpress is making things so much easier for me!  *happy dance*  I didn’t really have time to keep the old site maintained, because I’m a terrible coder and it takes me hours to figure out how to do anything.  It should probably annoy me that I spent almost an entire day trying to figure out how to create a Lightbox gallery for my artwork on my old site, and now I can just create a page and click “Add Gallery” and voila!  Easy-peasy.  But it doesn’t annoy me.  Not much, anyway.

Anyway, pop on over and see how you like it!  I tried to keep the feel of the old website while streamlining it a bit.  And excuse the mess…it’s still coming along.

Jazzing up the Editing Process

Hi all!

Goodness…the holidays and the New Year obviously swallowed up the SisterMuses! We have both been busily writing…just invisibly. I am feverishly working on The Artifex (Book III of the Silesia Trilogy), which will be released on August 31, 2013. J. Leigh is immersed in the world of The Madness Project, which she plans to release on June 1.  It looks to be an exciting year for the SisterMuses!

Today, I’m over at Engelia McCullough’s blog guest posting about the editing process. If editing always gets you down or you feel daunted by that phase of your literary journey, head on over here for some easy ways to take the sting out of the process! Thanks, Engelia, for hosting me today!

Happy writing (and editing)!!!


Preparing to Publish: Editing

As S.K. said in her last blog post, we’re celebrating the month of September with an in-depth look at the publication process.  Now, I’m going to assume that you have a finished manuscript.  Your story is complete.  Your characters are well-rounded and you’ve inflicted on them all necessary challenges and sufferings for growth and all that good stuff.  Your plot makes sense, has a good arc, interesting climax and satisfying denouement.  Now all you have to do is polish it up and get it ready for the press.

So that’s where we’re starting.  In this series, we’re not going to tell you how to write a novel or how to develop complex characters.  Maybe another time.  We’re just going to make sure the book you publish is the best it can be.  In this article, I’ll give an overview of the different stages of editing many writers like to follow, then in subsequent articles we’ll go more in depth about each stage and give practical h0w-to advice.

So, what are the main stages or types of editing?  I honestly don’t like calling them “stages” of editing, as if you have to follow them in order and do them only once.  Usually when I edit, I’ve got an eye on at least two of them.  Maybe we should call each of them an “editing focus.”  And they kind of range from macro to micro, so that’s the order I’ll present them.

Focus 1

This may or may not be a kind of “editing,” strictly speaking.  You know how I just said you’ve got a nice finished manuscript with good characters and plot arc and all that?  Well, the first thing you want to do is take a good long look at that manuscript.  You might even want to put it away for a week or longer before undertaking this step.  But the idea is, you look at all the elements of your story and say, “Is this the absolute best it can be?”  Is that character as interesting as possible?  Is that plot twist too predictable?  Is this character a cliche?  Is there enough detail in the world-building to make the setting come to life?  Is there too much, making the prose dull and boring?  Is that chapter 10 where Egbert finds the stray kitten really necessary to advance the plot, however attached I might be to the scene?

Focus 2

This is what is commonly called or thought of as “consistency editing,” and it’s pretty much the most macro-y of the macro edits, technically speaking.  In this focus, you will be rereading your manuscript from start to finish.  Basically, what you’re doing is watching for errors in consistency in your story telling.  This can be something as big as the story arc or as small as details like eye color.  You have no idea how easy these are to miss, and how annoying they are to readers.

Focus 3

The next focus is what you’ll hear editors refer to as “line editing.”  I’m kind of torn about whether this Focus should be next, or Focus 4.  Focus 4 is more of a stylistic edit, so I like to put it last because it doesn’t make sense to do stylistic edits on prose you’re about to slash from the manuscript.  However, line edits can catch mistakes introduced by Focus 4, so….maybe the best way to think about it is that you will probably end up doing two stages of line editing — one here, and one at the very end.  More on that later, though.

For now, all you need to know is that line editing is where you take a magnifying glass to your manuscript, line by line, and look for anything that can structurally weaken your story.  You’re looking for language misuse, grammar errors, punctuation errors, spelling errors, and even things like mixed metaphors or overused phrases.  I’ve got some tips to make line-editing less of a headache…those will come in a future post.

Focus 4

This focus is something I’ve heard called “syllabic editing.”  Here you’re going to be paying attention to the flow and sound of your story — how it strikes the reader’s mental ear.  Often times with syllabic editing you will be looking at tightening up your prose, cutting unnecessary words (hence, syllables).  But I like to think it has a poetic purpose too, not just smash and slash.  Sometimes you’ll end up adding words.  Sometimes you’ll cut and rewrite whole paragraphs…or even entire scenes…if they just don’t flow the right way, or convey the right tone.  A lot of times you will be looking at better ways to say something, if the original phrasing is too  bland or passive.

At this point, after running through all of these steps and doing a final line edit, you will be ready to prepare the actual manuscript file for the press.  We’ll be covering that whole process in future posts, too, so never fear.  In the next post, we’ll take a closer look at Focus 1.

Happy New Year!

Just wanted to wish everyone a happy, fulfilling, and wonderful 2012 from us here at SisterMuses!

We’ve had an incredible year in 2011, and I know I have so much to be thankful for—including all of you!  I truly hope you are all leaving behind one amazing year to step into another even more fantastic than the last.  ^_^

And, of course, the New Year means time to think about all those resolutions and plans we hope to carry out in the months to come.  For me, I know I want to do what my cousin said so well: “Live more, worry less.”  Spend more time with family and friends.  Waste less time.  Learn a new skill, or maybe a new language.

Of course, I’ve got to make some writing resolutions too.  I’m going to finish Prism, Book 3 in the Lost Road Chronicles.  I’d also like to finish Ethereal, my YA fantasy that I started for NaNoWriMo last year.  And making some progress on my fantasy trilogy would be awesome as well.  Maybe even finish the first book.  Might as well be ambitious, right?

Well, I’m off to start work on one of those projects.  Once again, hope you all have a happy, safe, healthy, and amazing New Year!

Do-svidanya, 2011.


Wow, I really should have posted this about a week ago.

Some of you may already know this, but Subverter is out!  You can find it on Amazon, as either a paperback or Kindle, or you can also get it on Smashwords in a number of other ebook formats.

A year has passed since the Judgment of the Ungulion, and Merelin Lindon is beginning to believe she will never return to the world she loved. But when she begins to suffer from strange visions of a life and a love she left behind, visions that grow darker and harsher with each passing day, she comes to understand that her role in Arah Byen is far from over. 

But nothing can prepare her for what she will find. Peace should have been returning to the world, but a new enemy has crept from the shadows, plotting the overthrow of all that Merelin holds dear. With everything turned upside-down and nothing as it seems, Merelin must discover whose side she is really on, and who she can trust, before it is too late. 

But how can she know who to trust, when she isn’t even sure she can trust herself?

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas, and here’s wishing every one of you a happy, fulfilling, and wonderful New Year!

Virtual Book Signing!

It’s December.  I don’t know about you, but I am, as always, woefully behind on my holiday shopping.

If you’d like a quick, easy gift for those special readers in your life, I am doing a virtual book signing!  From now until December 15, signed copies of Silesia: The Outworlder are available for just $10, but only through this website!  Click over to the SisterMuses Bookstore and fill out the form to order your copies today!

Happy Holidays, everyone!


So, I’m an incorrigible multitasker.  There, see?  I came right out and admitted it like a big girl.  Truth is—I have a dreadful time unitasking.  (I think I made that word up.  Isn’t it fantastic?)  I like to have multiple things going on at the same time.  I like to throw myself into one bubbling pool of creativity, haul myself out, and dive right into the next one.

Ohhh, some might say that’s not an efficient way to work.  Focusing on one thing at a time is a much better way to get things done.

Perhaps there is some truth to that.  Or perhaps it’s just true for some people.  For me, I thrive on variation.  Focus too long on one thing, and I get bored, or worse, burned out.

Case in point?  Everyone knows it’s NaNoWriMo time.  Some of you might know that I’m working on Subverter, the sequel to Down a Lost Road.  Well, when I started thinking about WriMo, I went back and forth on whether or not I wanted to participate this year.  Finally I decided I would go a head and give it a shot… I would try to juggle writing two novels on rather short deadlines.  And I’m so glad I did.

See, I got to a place in Subverter where nothing was cooperating.  Merelin got herself into a bind, and I had no idea how to extract her without going all deus ex machina on the story.  Bleh.  So I dropped the story and focused entirely on Ethereal — my NaNovel — for a few days.  Didn’t get a jot written on Subverter.  Well, working on more than one story turned out to be a brilliant strategy.  Ethereal kept my writing juices flowing, while also giving me a break from a project I obviously needed to take a step away from for a while.  Then, in a flash of inspiration,  I figured out what to do with Merelin, and over the last two days I’ve churned out over 5,000 words on Subverter.  Tsha.  (Of course, poor Ethereal has languished for those couple of days…but that’s okay.  Emery and Therrei can wait a bit.  Subverter has a much stricter deadline…)

Everyone works differently.  Everyone handles writer’s block differently.  Some people work best when they can just plug away at their particular project, without distraction or deviation.  I definitely believe that we have to continue to be creative even when we don’t feel the inspiration for our current WIP, so sometimes that means starting something new…even if it’s a silly project we don’t intend to keep.  Or maybe we can try doing something else creative.

Personally, I like to have my options open, so that I can always have something to switch to, to get some distance from whatever is giving me fits.  Right now —in addition to my already insane ambitious 2 novel effort — I’m also working on illustrating a children’s book for a friend.  So if the words dry up, sometimes it’s easier to get the paint flowing.  And, even though I’m not really a composer, sometimes I like to pull up a music editor and do a little random experimentation with stuff.  It’s like…exercising different muscle groups.  Right?

The key to successful writing is to find a process that works for you.  That might involve insane attempts at multitasking.  If so, go for it!  And don’t let anyone convince you that this way or that way is not a good way to work.  Just like some people can’t imagine writing a novel without first outlining every step of the plot, and others take a flying leap into writing without looking twice, so also some people can’t imagine dividing their attention, and others can’t survive without it.

Once you know what works, you can laugh at the idea of writer’s block.  Make sure it’s an evil — or, even better, a maniacal — laugh.

Diversifying Your Writing Portfolio

Writers love to write.  That’s why we do what we do, write?   Ummm…right?

In finance, advisors always tell clients to diversify their portfolios.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  That kind of thing.  So, as a writer, is it wise to diversify your efforts?  For instance, if you are a novelist, is it wise also to write short pieces?  Dabble in article writing?  Do a little nonfiction on the side?  What about some freelance editing?  Or penning for the silver screen?

It all depends on your temperament.  For me, I like a little bit of everything.  I like to write what I want, when I want.  My muse inherited the overeager gene, I think.  And it is, in part, driven by practicality.  If you write to make money, then the financial advice to diversify might make sense.  At the same time, you don’t want to fly in so many different directions at once that you have a nervous breakdown and never write anything at all — or worse, turn out subpar material and leave everyone dissatisfied, including yourself.  So how can you diversify your writing portfolio without going bananas?

Write what you know.  Okay, we’ve all heard this advice before.  But use it when considering whether or not to diversify.  If you love writing sci-fi novels but you are also totally into cars, or mountain biking, or opera, then you may be able to turn that passion into articles for magazines or trade publications.  You’re not diving into some subject matter that is completely alien to you.  You are simply using your writing skills to share your knowledge with others in a different venue.

There’s an added bonus to this as well: article writing requires a slightly different skill set than writing novels or short fiction.  This can provide you an opportunity to hone and develop your craft in unexpected ways.

Write what you want to know.  Let’s say your next novel is a historical piece.  You’re already delving into records and historical accounts, digging up gems of knowledge with which to adorn your characters, setting, and plot.  Since you’re doing the legwork already, why not turn some of those gems into stand-alone articles?  Again, with this strategy you aren’t wasting effort or distracting yourself unduly from the work at hand.  Economy of motion is crucial to avoid writer burn-out and a decline in productivity.  Will writing an article get your novel written?  Of course not.  But you are giving yourself a different opportunity to capitalize on your new-found knowledge.

Make writerly activities your new day job.  There was a great article in Writer’s Digest online just recently on making money as a “Word Nerd”.  Freelance editing was the subject.  If you have a gift with grammar and an eye for detail, freelance editing can be a terrific way to use your passion for language, expanding your portfolio and padding your wallet at the same time.  Editing is part of every writing project, whether it’s a school term paper or a company website.  Offering your assistance to companies and writing buddies (for a fee, of course) can be a win-win situation for everyone.

What’s the bottom line?  Don’t be so expansive that you lose sight of your personal goals.  Writers are a fiercely independent lot anyway, and we like to set our own personal benchmarks for success.  Sit down and decide what you want to accomplish with your writing career.  If you just want to write novels, then diversifying isn’t for you.  If you’d like to have multiple money-making avenues open to you, then it’s worth exploring ways to turn your existing efforts and knowledge into additional sources of revenue.  Perhaps you aren’t in this for the filthy lucre, but you just want the freedom to pen whatever inspires you.  Whatever those goals are, articulate them for yourself.

Ultimately, you’re the only one who can decide whether diversifying is right for you or not.  But keeping yourself organized and your goals in sight and using the principle of economy (getting the most mileage out of your existing work) will keep you from fraying at the edges.