Saturday, December 30, 2017

I H    Hope you are enjoying the Season of Light!  The tradition of welcoming neighbors in for a hot drink  toast to the new year has been around for over one thousand years.  Wassail!  Good Health! Here's a recipe for your slow cooker that you can keep going all day...
  4 cups hot brewed tea
4 cups cranberry juice
4 cups unsweetened apple juice
2 cups orange juice
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup lemon juice
3 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)
12 whole cloves

In a 5-qt. slow cooker, combine the first six ingredients. Place the cinnamon sticks and cloves on a double thickness of cheesecloth; bring up corners of cloth and tie with string to form a bag. Add to slow cooker.
Cover and cook on high for 1 hour or until punch begins to boil. Discard spice bag. Serve warm. 
Yield: 3-1/2 quarts.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Book 2 of Code Talker Chronicles is out!  

I'm delighted with the response from readers about Watch Over Me.  

 "...kept me up way too late on work nights because I couldn't put it down, but that's how you know a really great book!"

"...can't wait for the next in the series!" 

Many many thanks to my wonderful editors at BWL, Catherine Brown and Jude Pittman, and cover artist Michelle Lee.  What a team!  

This one is my love song to New York City, where my parents were born.

It’s the summer of 1942 in New York City. War widow Kitty Charente’s night on the town with a man she thinks is her company’s visiting salesman turns into a hunting ground.  Luke Kayenta is a Navajo code talker, and a Nazi agent is in pursuit.  American isolationists are searching for Luke too.  And his superiors at the the U.S. Office of Strategic Services want to know if he’s cracked under torture in Spain. Kitty and Luke must evade capture from one enemy and death from another as they race from the Lower East Side to the Savoy Ballroom to Coney Island, aided by unlikely allies in the Canadian and French spy networks, a Harlem baker, and even Weegee, the city’s most famous tabloid photographer. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

New Series!

I'm delighted to announce the publication of the first books in my Code Talker Chronicles series. They follow two OSS (Office of Strategic Services, precursor to the CIA) operatives, Navajo Code Talker Luke Kayenta and New Yorker war widow Kitty Charente.

I'm using popular song titles of the era in naming the books of the series, and  having fun with that.  Kitty and Luke don't meet each other in Book I so I'll Be Seeing You seemed a good choice!  It's also one of my World War II army vet Dad's favorites, and we asked that it be sung at his funeral.  What a moving moment for the family and friends he was leaving behind after a long life well lived.

Here's my dad in 1941...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lose the Indians

For writers and the readers who love them…

On Rejection

It is impossible to discourage real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write.
- Sinclair Lewis -

Prime Directive of Criticism: No matter what anyone says about anything you write, it is saying more about that person than it is saying about your work.

Consider these publishers' opinions… 
what shelf???

Neither fish nor fowl-- or, oh my goodness gracious me, how do we categorize it?...

Is it history, is it romance?  38 rejections from publishers for  Gone With The Wind.  
An absurd story as romance, melodrama or record of New York high life.” -- The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald 
Color in the lines, please!
radical footwear
Too radical of a departure from traditional juvenile literature.” L. Frank Baum hears of The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz 
Rejected because it is narrated by a dog-- Garth Steins The Art Of Racing In The Rain.   (Black Beauty and Animal Farm before that)
Not what readers want...
The American public is not interested in China.” Pearl S Buck The Good Earth 
140 rejections stating “Anthologies don’t sell.”  The Chicken Soup for the Soul series sells 125 million copies.
We don’t know the central character well enough.” --The Catcher In The Rye
lose the Indians?
Good mystery.  But...  “We suggest you get rid of all that Indian stuff.” Publisher to Tony Hillerman, on his best-selling Navajo Tribal Police mystery novels.
“The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.” --The Diary of Anne Frank
26 publishers reject A Wrinkle in Time.
It was rejected 60 times.Kathryn Stockett on The Help.

Louis Lamour received 200 rejections before becoming the publisher who said YES’s most best selling author  (330 million in sales)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Interview with author MV Freeman

I love talking with writers!  A heartfelt welcome to author M.V. Freeman, a fellow author in the Aponte Literary Agency, with BIG news to report...She just signed a contract with Omnific Publishing for her Hidden Races series!  Omnific prides itself as being for:  “Romance Without Rules.”  Sounds like a perfect fit!  Congratulations, M.V.! 

Hope you enjoy our discussion.  Leave a comment by April 11 and you’ll be entered for a chance at a free download of my new audiobook, WALTZING IN RAGTIME.

When did you decide to become a writer?
MVF: I’ve always wanted to write—but no direction. Even as a child I wrote bits of stories and thought up plots and characters. It wasn’t until the birth of my first child--I realized I wanted to write and I started to get serious and learn the craft. 
EC:  That’s kind of amazing and against the grain of what the conventional wisdom is about writers, especially female...(that family life sucks creative juices) and my story too!  Parenting was the most important job I ever had and what I first wanted to write about.  Nothing like a 24/7 awesome responsibility to get you to FOCUS too, right?  I’m experiencing chapter 2 now as I care for my 95 year old mom!
MVF: I needed the creativity--but I didn't want to write about parenting. I have a tendency to write about things as far different as I can get. Parenting is difficult for me--I love my children with everything I have, but it's like writing--not for the faint of heart. It developed me more as a writer and human. 
Why do you write?
MVF: I write because I have to. I have a need to create, because when I don’t I feel lost. On a more practical side—I’ve put so much time into writing, I have to keep going. 
EC:  LOL!  I hear you, sister!  If I ever calculate how much I’m being paid per hour...but let’s not go there, right?
MVF: At this point it's in the negative digits! *laughing* but oh, I can't stop! 
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
MVF: I was reading a book and I kept reworking the scenes in my head—frustrated with it I initially began to write my version of fan-fic, but realized quickly I needed to learn craft and to write my own stories.  Oh, some of those early stories were awful….
EC:  Oh, mine too!  I wrote 2 “practice” novels before the 3rd one got published.  For me, this business had a looong apprenticeship!
MVF: It does, oh it does. I think have a bunch of half-hearted attempts, numerous short stories that probably will never see the light of day--but all of it paves the way to where I am now. 
Do you write full-time or part-time?
MVF:  I write part-time because I have to work a day job. It is my goal to eventually write full time. I have learned I have to do what I can with what I have. 
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
MVF: I write when I can. I try a bit early in the morning, but most of my writing occurs after 7pm until 10pm. I have a day off during the week and I try to get more done at that time. 
EC: Amazing!  I’d fall asleep at my keyboard.  Owl, meet lark!
MVF: I try the morning--but everyone gets up early here--my oldest daughter is up at 4:30 a.m. Plus it takes a bit for my mind to get focus (re: coffee). At night--I write until my brain drifts, my thought processes go fuzzy. I am not one of those that write until the wee hours; because then I really would be sleeping at the keyboard! I consider my writing--second shift writing. 
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
MVF: How? I am learning to balance my writing with plotting and asking the right questions when a story is being formed to write. Creatively it’s an ongoing process—and one that should never stop. 
What is the hardest thing about writing?
MVF:  Writing is hard—every single thing—the creating, the writing, the editing. Because it is something you must form into a cohesive story.  But, I love it. Completely. Because when a story comes together the characters unfurl on the page, it’s all worth it. 
EC:  Sounds like you are called to this work, MV! 
MVF: Thank you!! It's either a calling or a curse.... ha!
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
MVF:  The hardest thing was my fear. I was afraid I couldn’t pull it off. But I get this way about all of my stories. I think this is healthy, the trick is not to let it stop me. Specifically—I work very hard on dialogue and pacing, I worry it’s not going to read right. 
EC:  Courage is the foundation!  I love the Maya Angelou quote:  “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”  That goes for the writing life too, I think!
MVF: Lovely quote! I agree--!
What is the easiest thing about writing?
MVF: For me it’s the initial idea; my favorite part of it all is world building.
EC: Interesting... no fear of that blank screen for you!  Bravo! 
MVF: I may be able to start the story....but where does one go from there? That's where I pace and think. It's not unusual for me to delete 10-20k after I started writing realizing I'm going in the wrong direction. I've begun to realize this is my matter how frustrating. 
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
MVF:  My ambition is to make a living at writing. To build a reader base and to continue to perfect my craft. This is an ongoing thing, and I realize it’s for the long haul. In five years I want at least two book series done, and few self-published stories out there.  
Which writers inspire you?
MVF:  Every writer I meet inspires me; I enjoy their love of the written word, the enthusiasm about their stories.  Some great influencers: S.E. Hinton,  Anne MacCaffrey, Isaac Asimov, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis,  Jeaniene Frost, Ilona Andrews, Scott Westerfeld, and Stacia Kane…I think I better stop, this list goes on and on…
What genre are your books?
MVF: I am a cross-genre writer—Urban Fantasy/Romance. (I also like YA, and Sci-Fi.) 
What draws you to this genre?
MVF: I grew up reading fantasy and Sci-fi, but I do enjoy the tension of romance. I decided to write what I wanted to read. (I’m sort of a rebel)
Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
MVF: Initially yes—but then I send it out to have it edited/proofed by my critique partner’s and to some Beta-readers.  But this is for things I am sending out on submission. The final edit is via my Agent because she is shopping it out and has a very good eye for flow. 
Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
MVF: My current book was edited by my agent—Victoria Lea, who is fabulous with story content. I didn’t get a line editor, because this will come later. 
Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.
MVF:  This is a changing process. My first book cover was developed by my first publisher with minor input—this will be changing. My current book does not have a cover yet.  
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
MVF: Very much so, we are visual people and covers must draw the eye. How many times have you walked away from a book because the cover wasn’t to your taste? It also is the first indication of what type of story and genre it is. 
How are you publishing your books and why?
(*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)
MVF:  I am pursing all avenues. My goal is to be traditionally, small press, and self-published. I think it is important as a writer to have a finger in all aspects if it is possible. My current two books I am trying to traditionally publish, but I am working on another project I intend to self-publish.  
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
MVF:  Review are opinions. My preference is honest reviews—some will love your story others despise it. Personally, I’ve stopped reading most of my reviews, because it does affect me if I read one where someone hates a story I have worked hard on. Good reviews are great encouragement—bad, is only going to depress someone (so don’t read it!). But it’s important people are allowed to express their opinions even if they don’t like something. 
EC:  I think this is a very healthy attitude, thank you!!  My work has garnered extreme reactions...I am grateful to like-spirited reviewers who both “get” what I’m trying to do and add their own creative reading to my creative writing.  Some are downright poetic and bring so much to the book that I didn’t consciously intend!  But the bad ones run the risk of triggering self-doubt and a downward spiral, alas!
MVF: Exactly--good ones are lovely, but the bad ones can really give you writers block. I have stopped writing for days--when I realized, this isn't good for me or my career. I actually have someone read all my reviews and report back the overall opinion for example--the story line was choppy, that sort of thing. It puts distance between me and the negative and I can deal with it. Plus, I take note because sometimes there are helpful things in those bad reviews.  I was also going to say--in my opinion when you get such varying reactions to your writing (Love/Hate) this means you have voice, and when one does the reaction is usually visceral -- so I for cheer you! 
What brought you to the Aponte Agency?
MVF:   My critique partner introduced me to this agency. I was looking for an agency who viewed working me with as a team effort. I also wanted an agent to love my writing—and Victoria fit all of these criteria. I couldn’t ask for a better agent or agency.
Why do you think that other well written books just don’t sell?
MVF: Two reasons: Personal taste and marketing. Plus—luck. Who knows why one thing takes off and another doesn’t? I joke and call it writing voodoo….
How do you relax?
MVF: I work out (I haven’t talked about kettle bells yet? Just wait…), cook, hike, read (Audio—is my favorite mode of reading lately), watch movies.  But, what I love best is to have tea with someone (my family) or coffee—it’s a time to relax and reconnect, it does great things for me.
What is your favorite book and why?
MFV: I have two that come to mind no matter what;
Anthem by Ayn Rand—because it opened my eyes to things I never thought of. I have images from this book that have never left me. 
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton—A riveting book of characters, class warfare, and the struggle of teens just trying to live. I adored this book. It’s the only book taken from in class where I read it under the desk….(admit it—everyone read at least once under a desk)
EC:  Raised hand here!!  Mine:  The Last Unicorn and Catch 22!
MVF: Awesome! I love seeing who read books under the desks! 
What is your favorite quote?
“ Never, Never, Never, Never Give up”—Winston Churchill
What is your favorite film and why?
MVF: This is hard one: I’m going to say two (See how contrary I am)
Ink: This is fantasy about bad choices, and redemption. This isn’t for everyone—but I loved the story. 
The Lord of the Rings—the trilogy—I know, it is not one movie, but I take the whole trilogy as a whole. To me this was movie of good vs. evil, friendship, tenacity, hope and love. It had it all. 
What advice would you give to your younger self?
MVF: Get your act together! Focus, get the job done….but I suppose what we go through in the past makes us who we are now. 
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
MVF: You know it’s going to be two….sigh.
Condaleeza Rice: To me she is one elegant, smart woman, who has great strength of character. I’d like to get to know her—because I find her inspiring in the way she deals with people and how she conducts herself. I would be fascinated to talk with her. 
C.S. Lewis: The first book I read of his as a child was “Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.”  As I became older, I looked more into his life (I thought it was very interesting he was friends with J.R.R. Tolkien).  By accounts, his life was filled with heartbreak and joy. I would love to discuss writing and his stories—to find out more of what he was like as a person not through the accounting of others. 
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Twitter: @MVFree

AUTHOR BIO: M.V. Freeman is a native of Minnesota, but calls North Alabama her home. By day her mind is filled with medical jargon at the local health clinic, but at night she finds herself exploring alternate worlds within our own. Heavily influenced by Slavic languages and culture, you will find she weaves these elements into her stories.

She is represented by The Aponte Literary Agency
MVF: Thank you Eileen for having me on your blog! 
EC:  You’re most welcome!  With all this duality I have to ask one more question.  You’re a Libra baby?
MVF: Thank you! I'm actually Aquarius.... strange I know

EC:  Not strange at all, as I hear of Aquarians..  “like to experience both sides and see both opinions as they formulate new ideas with their forward thinking, active mind.”  Fits you to a T!

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Duke

I have had the great privilege to belong to many writers' critique groups over my working life. Some have worked better than others.   
All have been helpful.
Even before anyone uttered a word of critique, the process of hearing my work being read aloud was beneficial.  Remember Duke Ellington’s rule on jazz?  

“If it sounds good, it is good.”

How to make sure dialogue has intensity?  
A few carefully honed words of dialogue can work better than paragraphs of explanation. Dialogue is character- specific. It moves your plot. It proclaims voice. Good dialogue has timing - it rings right in the ear. 

So go ahead and speak your written exchanges aloud, too. 
Remember the Duke!

You can find these and many other bon mots in my guide ELEMENTS OF THE NOVEL, published by New Street Communications.  Elements of the Novel

To celebrate the release of New Street Communication’s audiobook of my novel 
leave a comment here between now and April 11 and I will be happy to enter you in a drawing for a free download of the book from

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Welcome, readers!

I'm happy to be joining the blogosphere!  


I'm an author of historical novels, mostly set in America 
(I jumped the pond to Ireland once, in reverse of what my grandmother Teresa did in 1893).

Here's my website, containing more than you ever wanted to know about me--

The Name

I was going to call this blog Turtle Crossing, but that was taken.  
I popped in a Algonquin word that means "the place of the spirits"  
and clear sailing ahead...who knew?  

I hope you can find me here, and I hope you enjoy your time!

Deep blessings