Tag Archives: writing

#Writing life: Should you keep your face to the sun… Or your nose to the grindstone?

sunflowers 2

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what the sunflowers do.” HELEN KELLER

I’ve been keeping my face to the sun and my nose to the grindstone. It’s why I’ve been mostly absent on Facebook and Twitter lately. I’m enjoying summer and my sunny writing cave. What am I working on? A novella featuring a character I’ve wanted to spend more time with for a while now. Here’s his character blurb:

Nocturo “Nightshade” Onyx has the sinister looks of a Maegester but the soft, healing magic of a Mederi. Eight months ago he joined the progressive Demeter Tribe so that he could hone his skills. He now wields surgical scalpels, defensive daggers, and waxing magic with ease. But his greatest challenges are still to come: trapping a demon, capturing a young woman’s heart, and bringing his sister back from the brink of death.

What else have I been up to?

Reading: Tina Connolly’s IRONSKIN and the first two books in C.L. Wilson’s Tairen Soul series.

Map Making: Bought Campaign Cartographer 3. CC2 was tough for me, so wish me luck! If I can master the upgrade, I’ll be able to make maps of the places I write about. Maps I’d love to share: St. Luck’s campus; New Babylon, Etincelle, and the Mederi outposts; the eastern Lethe; the Shallows; southern Halja; and — if all goes according to plan — Rockthorn Gorge!

Animal Shelter: Took some food, treats, and my youngest to visit our local pet shelter. I’m still trying to talk my husband into adopting another cat in the fall. lol.

Sharing someone else’s good hiking/writing advice: I read this article recently about the Appalachian Trail. It struck me that thru-hiker Jim Parkins’ words about hiking a 2,180 mile trail might also apply, with one slight tweak, to writing a 100,000 word novel => “The hardest part is the mental part, [putting your butt in the chair every morning].” (emphasis added :-D )


So how’s everyone’s summer going? Are you writing? Reading? Working? Sunbathing? Are you keeping your face to the sun… or your nose to the grindstone?

Hope everyone is having a terrific week!

Functional Nerds Podcast: #writing #violins #scrivener

John Anealio and Patrick Hester, hosts of the Functional Nerds podcast, interviewed me recently (Episode #198). We covered a range of interesting topics, which are listed below so that, even if you only have a few minutes, you can tune in and hear select bits. I’m also including links to some other podcast episodes you may enjoy. If you’re not already a Functional Nerds subscriber, check it out. Podcasts are free, but if you like what you hear, consider donating and/or sharing the links!

04:10 — My Pick of the Week: A Natural History of Dragons

09:09 — Patrick’s Pick of the Week: Magic: The Gathering

12:40 — John’s Pick of the Week: The Shambling Guide to New York City

14:00 — How my past career as a lawyer impacts my writing

18:20 — My alma maters: Penn State and University of Baltimore

19:20 — Me, rambling about how/when I started writing

22:20 — The Episode’s Big Reveal: Patrick tells me there’s a sequel to The Devil Went Down to Georgia (! — I had no idea).

23:10 — I talk about how I used to play the violin; great discussion on kids and music

29:00 — I do a horrible job discussing the original blog post that caught John’s attention (my post at SF Signal: What Is It With The Devil And Violins?). For some insane reason, I thought this would be the one thing John wouldn’t want to talk about (naively assumed he’d have a been there, done that feeling about the topic. Duh.) John’s articulate. I am not. Please forgive and read my original post instead of listening to my inane, totally unprepared response.

38:40 — We discuss fan conventions. John and Patrick share their favorites and recommend some for me.

42:00 — Urged on by me, Patrick gives a mini-intro to Scrivener spiel. I’ve written in Word pretty much since I first switched from typewriter to computer so I wanted to hear his perspective on why Scrivener’s so great.

51:10 — Episode closes with — what else? — The Devil Went Down to Georgia :-D

Other Functional Nerds podcasts you might enjoy:

Episode 195 — James SA Corey

Episode 148 — Mur Lafferty Part 1

Episode 149 — Mur Lafferty Part 2

Episode 146 — Delilah S. Dawson Part 1

Episode 147 — Delilah S. Dawson Part 2

I hope everyone is having a great July!

Book Series: How Many Books Is Enough?

To B4 or Not To B4, that is my question…

Yesterday Lynda from Books Direct posted her interview of me.  We talked about what my family thinks of my writing, my upcoming short story “Dream, Interrupted” (featuring new heroine Corelei Neverest; she was tons of fun to write), and how darn difficult it was to write the ending to White Heart of Justice.

Why was it so hard?

Well, because White Heart of Justice may be the last Noon Onyx book. As I mention in the interview, I felt an enormous amount of pressure to make sure the ending was emotionally satisfying for those who have followed the series so far – which was challenging considering where I’d left things at the end of Fiery Edge of Steel and the fact that, originally, I’d roughly plotted a total of seven books in the series. (Go ahead, you can say it, what sane writer plots that far ahead of her own career?!)

So, after a mild (dare I admit, significant) panic attack, I got down to business and wrote the ending to WHOJ. That ending changed countless times. I’m not sure what readers will think of it. Early feedback has been wonderful but no one (including me) has really addressed whether this is THE END.

The only thing I know for certain is that I’ll likely self-publish any future books in the series. And self-publishing a book the way I’d want to (with quality editing and a fantastic cover artist/designer) wouldn’t be cheap.

The final decision is mine. Creatively, I have to want to do it. And financially I’ll have to decide whether or not I’m comfortable with the risk and investment of moving forward with a Noon Onyx B4 instead of some other equally awesome but different project.

So I’m curious…

READERS: After you finish White Heart of Justice, let me know whether you’d be interested in reading another Noon novel. I feel the ending is satisfactory enough for us all to walk away happy… and yet… as I said during yesterday’s interview, it’s hard to say goodbye. Halja is a fascinating world and Noon is an interesting, strong character to write about.

WRITERS: Have any of you continued a traditionally published series on your own? How’d that work out for you?

Ok, enough already with the serious talk!!!

Today, I’m over at Magic and Mayhem with a really fun guest blog:

Top 5 Cool Things

You Can Do with a Sword


Why Heroes & Heroines Can’t Do Without Them

You gotta come check it out. I actually mention WHOJ only once (to point out its inclusion on the Goodreads “It’s All About The Swords!” list). If you love swords, the post is a MUST READ. :-D

In addition to my Super Serious questions above, I also want to know:

What’s your favorite book cover with a sword on it? Have any examples of cool things you can do with a sword?

Lemme know your answers over at Magic and Mayhem!

Thanks for following, everyone! I’m loving all the tweets!!!

#Writing: May FFnP #Workshops — How to Build a Super-Heroine and Book-to-Film Adaptations

Last chance to register for this month’s FF&P workshops: HOW TO BUILD A SUPER-HEROINE and HOW BOOK-TO-FILM ADAPTATIONS WORK. Details are below. FF&P is RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. A couple of months ago, I volunteered to help them with their workshops. 

Are you a writing instructor? Do you have experience offering workshops to writers? If so, I’d love to hear from you! Send me an email (archer at jillarcher dot com) with the proposed workshop title and description, as well as an instructor bio or you can just send me a link to the classes you offer so I can take a look.

Other ways to get involved? Consider joining FF&P or let me know if you’ve taken any awesome workshops lately. Hope everyone’s writing is going well!


Developing your characters can be a delightful task or a painful one, but when those characters are of the super-powered variety, you’ve got an even bigger challenge. In this workshop, Eilis Flynn will examine how super-heroes, and in particular super-heroines, are a little different from other characters you’re creating. What do you have to look for, what do you have to beware of, what do you have to know in order to make the strongest, most memorable super-heroine you can? Using suggestions about powers, weaknesses, origin stories, and personality from the workshop attendees, we’ll build a sample super-heroine to inspire your own stories and super-heroes.

Instructor Bio: Eilis Flynn has spent a large share of her life working on Wall Street or in a Wall Street-related firm, so why should she write fiction that’s any more based in our world? She spends her days aware that there is a reality beyond what we can see … and tells stories about it. Published in finance, romance, and comic books, she lives in verdant Washington state with her equally fantastical husband and the ghosts of spoiled rotten cats.

Cost: FFP Members:15/Non-Members: 20

Register here.


Do you have a novel you think would adapt well to a screenplay?  Have you ever watched a film version of a favorite book and come away annoyed at the changes and deletions?  This 8-session workshop will teach you the steps of adaptation necessary to transfer one medium into another Sally Walker has learned that landed her several adaptation contracts.  One session will be the analysis of the two successful adaptations that motivated her, THE EAGLE (2010) and THE LUCKY ONE (2011).

Instructor Bio: Born to poor farm folk in the little rural community of Exira, Iowa, Sally attended many schools in western Iowa and the Omaha, Nebraska, area.  She eventually graduated from Papillion (NE) High School then nursing school at the University of Albuquerque and, eventually received a BFA in Creative Writing back at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  That degree was accomplished while working full-time as a Critical Care/ER nurse and raising a very active family of three daughters with her engineer husband.  Adeptly juggling family, nursing, civic and Episcopal church responsibilities, Sally founded in 1985 and has conducted the weekly meetings of the eclectic Nebraska Writers Workshop to feed her own hunger for in-depth knowledge and skills. The Workshop has grown from a few tentative to over 50 confidently publishing and produced writers. Her own goal-oriented writing ethic has resulted in a vitae packed with novels, short stories, poetry, magazine articles, stage plays, screenplays and a variety of writing seminars.  In 2000 she was hired as part-time Editorial Director at The Fiction Works and Script Superviser for the affiliated Misty Mountain Productions. After retiring from her nursing career of over 30 years, she was elected President of the prestigious Nebraska Writers Guild, serving 2007-2011.

Cost: FFP Members:30/Non-Members: 35

Register here.

Urban Fantasy Settings: Marcella Burnard on Remodeling Reality

Marcella Burnard, author of Nightmare Ink, released earlier this month, is here today to discuss how she turned her favorite tea shop into an urban fantasy tattoo parlor. She also has some fun extras to share: a playlist and cover puzzle, as well as a tour wide giveaway: 5 e-copies of Nightmare Ink. Links are below. Welcome, Marcella!
urban fantasy

Remodeling Reality

Ballard is a neighborhood in Seattle that’s an odd, delightful blend of blue collar workers, white collar, artists, hipsters, senior citizens and young urban families. The joke is that Ballard is where the Nordic people of the Pacific Northwest come to spend their golden years. It is true that there’s a Nordic Heritage festival every year in Ballard. And that Seafood Fest is the biggest street fair in the neighborhood. Yes. Lutefisk is a part of that festival. No. I won’t go near it. I’m clear that lye is a poison. Also, the way my family tells it, there’s not a Nordic gene in our pool. Everything else, but not Nordic.

Ballard is popular on Friday and Saturday nights for its many, if tiny, music venues and all the bands that come through. Two of the last few remaining record stores in Seattle are on the same street in Ballard. There’s a year round farmer’s market every Sunday that closes Ballard Avenue. That’s the street with the highest density of Ballard’s historical buildings, all of which are heavy stone or brick buildings. Most of them are undergoing earthquake retrofit to bring them up to code.

It’s a lovely part of town that I took a bit of poetic license with for NIGHTMARE INK. The Ballard of Isa’s world is less prosperous, a bit more run down and seedier. It’s also possible I put a bus line where no self-respecting metro bus would go. I rearranged some of the stores and turned my favorite, real-life tea shop into Isa’s tattoo parlor.

Ballard Building

Ballard Building

The cobbled streets outside Isa’s shop? They exist. They’re brick but they still rattle you when you drive over them. The cracked and heaved sidewalks are also a real thing. Seattle loves trees. Every gap in the sidewalk has a tree planted in it regardless of the roots lifting sections of sidewalk. City workers come and pour asphalt to smooth out the sidewalk and keep tripping risks down.

In Isa’s world, gangs run rampant all over the city, including in Ballard. And while Seattle does have its issues with gang activity, Ballard is just not that interesting. Go a little bit north, however, to a city park called Golden Gardens and the story changes. Hardly a summer went by that someone wasn’t shot or stabbed at the park – until the parks department brought in musical acts on Friday and Saturday summer nights for the last few hours that the park was open. Opera. I understand that crime rates at the park plummeted.

I haven’t found a way to work that into Isa’s world, yet, but I sure want to.

More About Nightmare Ink

With the needle of a tattoo gun, Isa Romanchzyk has the power to create and destroy. In her shop Nightmare Ink, Isa helps those in need by binding the powers embedded in their Live Ink—the magical tattoos that can enhance the life of the wearer, or end it.  But binding tattoos has earned Isa the contempt of her fellow artists—including her former lover Daniel.

When a friend comes to the shop with a tattoo on the verge of killing him, Isa can’t turn him away. For the first time in years, she works Live Ink into someone’s skin—something she swore she’d never do again. But breaking her vow soon becomes the least of her problems.

Isa is horrified to discover her friend’s body in the shop, but the real nightmare begins when she’s abducted and inked against her will.  Now, as she seeks retribution from the man who betrayed her, Isa must figure out how to bind her Living Tattoo before it consumes her completely…

You can purchase Nightmare Ink here:

More About Marcella

Marcella Burnard

Marcella Burnard

Marcella Burnard graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a degree in acting. She writes science fiction romance for Berkley Sensation.

Her first book, Enemy Within won the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award for Best Futuristic of 2010. The second book in the series, Enemy Games, released on May 3, 2011.

An erotica novella, Enemy Mine, set in the same world as the novels was released as an e-special edition by Berkley was released in April 2012. Emissary, a sword and sorcery short story released in the two volume Thunder on the Battlefield Anthology in the second half of 2013.


Marcella: The writing playlist leans to the creepy. Usually, I don’t want someone else’s words competing with writing, so most of the music is instrumental. Lisa Gerrard is the exception. The Myst soundtracks in my mp3 player are Myst, Riven and Exile. Exile is my favorite (Peter Gabriel had a bit of a hand in that soundtrack and that’s a huge win from my perspective.) The Halo soundtrack is usually reserved for writing science fiction, but there were scenes in NIGHTMARE INK that called for some fight music. By far, however, Nox Arcana got the most play. Nox Arcana defines creepy. Every one of their albums is a concept album built around a theme. But here. YouTube links so you can sample the music I piped directly to my brain while I wrote NIGHTMARE INK.

Puzzle and Giveaway

Jill: Ya gotta click here to get to the cover puzzle, but I thought it was neat. (Did I mention I love puzzles?) Anyway, I couldn’t get the frame to load directly into this post. I guess WordPress.com doesn’t load frames or forms…? ‘Cause it won’t load the Rafflecopter forms either. Speaking of… Click here for the Rafflecopter form to enter to win one of the 5 e-copies of Nightmare Ink Marcella is giving away and click here for my official rules for giveaways.

So what about you? Do you have a favorite tea shop? Do you drink tea? How about coffee? Do you have a favorite tattoo parlor? Are you inked? (I know I asked that before but it was a long time ago and I have new followers now…) What’s your favorite tattoo? If you’re not inked, do you want to be? Me? Nope, but I know plenty of people who are. Thank you, Marcella, for guest blogging today!

Nightmare Ink Banner


White Heart of Justice: Great PW Review!

Publishers Weekly gave White Heart of Justice a wonderful review:

“High stakes and powerful magic collide in the third installment of the Noon Onyx series…. Noon’s voice is wry and genuine, encompassing her sharp sense of self. Some of the major conflict scenes are succinctly and sparsely written; the emotional journey for Noon is far more of the focus, along with the excellent world-building readers have come to expect from Archer.” Publishers Weekly

I love this review! I’m flattered to receive praise from a publication I admire. I also think it’s a great summary of what readers can expect to find in the book. I chuckled when I saw the “succinctly and sparsely written” comment about my major conflict scenes. This book is the shortest of the three and I spent months trying to determine if and where I could/should beef it up. I even drafted a number of additional scenes, which were later cut during editing (more on that later perhaps; too much of a spoiler now). My point is that not once did I consider (until seeing this review) bulking up the major action scenes. Because it’s true — the heart of these stories is Noon’s emotional journey. I build every book around a central question and that central question is directly related to Noon’s inner character development. That said, *I* think the action scenes are great. They’re just the way I like them. ;-) But if you’re looking for epic battles and will settle for nothing less, the Noon Onyx series may not be the fantasy series for you. If you are looking for an emotional journey in a really dramatic, unique fantasy setting, however, then check it out! :-D

Click here for Publishers Weekly‘s review of Fiery Edge of Steel.

A big thanks to PW, RT Book Reviews, and everyone else out there for their interest in the series and for taking the time to write thoughtful reviews.

What’s up for this week? Tomorrow, another guest blogger and Friday, another Disney post. In between… not sure yet… depends on what I have time for. HAPPY MONDAY, ALL!

#UF Author Angela Dennis: SHADOWS OF FATE Playlist and #Giveaway

Angela Dennis is touring to promote her new urban fantasy, SHADOWS OF FATE. She’s got an interesting blurb, a terrific playlist, and a fun giveaway to share. Welcome, Angela!
Shadows of Fate Cover

I’m so excited to have the opportunity to be here. Thanks so much to Jill Archer for the invite!

I’ve been asked numerous times to post my playlist for Shadows of Fate. I don’t know how other writers choose their playlists, but I pick the scene I want to write, then pick a song to help me get in touch with the feeling I want to express through that scene. There is nothing better than a song to help me channel the emotions of my characters. Here is the playlist for Shadows. I hope you enjoy it!

  • 30 Seconds to Mars — Kings and Queens
  • Shine Down– Sounds of Madness
  • Pink — Raise Your Glass
  • Killers — A Dustland Fairy Tale
  • Slash — Gotten (Featuring Adam Levine)
  • Killers — Losing Touch
  • Brandon Flowers — Crossfire
  • Death Cab for a Cutie — Follow You Into the Dark
  • Mirah — The Garden
  • Pink — Try
  • Christina Perri — Jar of Hearts
  • Coldplay — Fix you
  • Jeff Buckley — Hallelujah
  • Eminem — Love the Way You Lie (Featuring Rihanna)
  • One Republic — Apologize
  • Of Monsters and Men — Little Talks
  • Killers — Human

More About Shadows of Fate

Redemption lies beyond the veil between truth and lies.

After witnessing her husband’s brutal murder, Brenna Baudouin lost control of her Shadow Bearer powers and wreaked havoc on her home world. Her penance: one hundred years policing hordes of supernatural misfits that spilled onto the Earthly plane after a cataclysmic war.

She’s on a routine exorcism run when she learns she’s been assigned a new partner. But there’s something about this Shadow Bearer that sparks her suspicions. Particularly when people closest to her start turning up as piles of ash.

Gray Warlow holds tight to the glamour that allows him to get close to the woman on whom he plans to wreak vengeance for betraying his people. Yet as he skillfully manipulates his way past her distrust, he begins to see her not as the heartless monster he was led to believe, but a strong, vulnerable woman.

As they work to put together the pieces of a killer’s macabre puzzle, an attraction deeper than blood and bone flares between them. And they must reveal their deepest secrets to avoid becoming the final targets. 

Warning: A thrill ride of supernatural proportions. Contains violent battle scenes, nail-biting suspense, crazy hot sexual tension, and enough twists and turns to make your head spin.

More About Angela

Angela Dennis lives outside Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, son and a sheltie with a hero complex. When she is not at her computer crafting stories, she can be found feeding her coffee addiction, playing peek-a-boo, or teaching her son about the great adventures found only in books. You can visit Angela here:

TOUR-WIDE GIVEAWAY: Angela is giving away one copy of Shadows of Fate, bookmarks, and coffee. To enter to win the prize pack, click here. (US only due to mailing costs).

So… writers, do you make playlists for each of your books? Do you write certain scenes to music? Readers, do you have any of these songs already? Any that you’re curious about and are now thinking of downloading? Thanks, Angela, for guest blogging today!

Shadows of Fate Banner

Winners and Wrap Up


This week I interviewed six new adult SFF authors. (Tuesday: Sarah Harian and Summer Lane; Wednesday: Juliana Haygert and Karen Duvall; Thursday: Rebecca Hamilton and Carrie Butler). We discussed some great topics and showcased some of their novels. To thank participants, I offered one free book (chosen by the winner from among the featured books) and a $10 eGift Certificate to the bookstore of the winner’s choice.

My incredibly high tech method of drawing winners...

My incredibly high tech method of drawing winners…

My elder daughter picked the winners. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO COMMENTED.

(Enlist elder daughter’s help).

$10 EGC WINNER = > bn100

I’ll be in touch about prizes by Monday!

I hope everyone found the interviews and posts as interesting and informative as I did. Surprisingly, my opinion is not much different than it was last year at this time: New Adult is a category that, like its characters, is full of potential. Whether it ever reaches that potential will be up to NA writers and their readers.

I’ll admit that, sometimes, I wonder if we shouldn’t be going in the other direction. If we shouldn’t just jettison the sub-genres and kick the category labels to the curb. There’s so much genre blending these days, maybe those of us who write stories set in imaginary worlds should just label all of our work “speculative” and call it a day.

But I only consider that for a moment. Because today’s publishing world is abuzz with words like “discoverability” and “metadata” and labels matter. Why? Because they help readers find books that are similar to other books they’ve liked.

A few other thoughts

Just to be clear, for anyone who’s been following this who may be new to my work, I think DARK LIGHT OF DAY qualifies as a “new adult” novel, although it’s not a contemporary college romance. It’s got a boarding school setting, a significant romance plot, and a youthful tone. DARK LIGHT OF DAY is also an urban fantasy with deep worldbuilding. In fact, that’s how it was marketed, which is fine. It shares as many characteristics with UF as it does with NA.

FIERY EDGE OF STEEL is neither NA nor UF, although lots of people consider it urban fantasy. I think that speaks to UF’s inclusiveness more than anything else, which is nice but less helpful to readers. It’s a river adventure with romance and mystery elements. That’s why I started calling my work “genre-bending fantasy.” Ha. A cop-out for not coming up with a better label? Maybe.

WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE is a similar adventure story to FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, but this time Noon’s adventure is on land… in a colder, lonelier, harsher environment. It’s more of a quest than a mystery. And, even though Noon’s still a student and one of her biggest motivations in the book is that she wants the right to forge her own career path, I don’t think it’s NA. The character has moved past her earlier NA struggles.

So I continue to label my Noon Onyx series as “genre-bending fantasy.” :-)

And I continue to follow the development of NA literature with interest. :-D

If you enjoyed this Q&A series, please consider supporting my work by pre-ordering WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE:

urban fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy, White Heart of Justice, Noon Onyx, Jill Archer, cover reveal, cover art

After years of denying her abilities, Noon Onyx, the first woman in history to wield waning magic, has embraced her power. She’s won the right to compete in the prestigious Laurel Crown Race—an event that will not only earn her the respect of her peers but also, if she wins, the right to control her future.

However, Noon’s task is nearly impossible: retrieve the White Heart of Justice, a mythical sword that disappeared hundreds of years ago. The sword is rumored to be hidden in a dangerous region of Halja that she is unlikely to return from. But Noon’s life isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance. The sword holds an awesome power that, in the wrong hands, could reboot the apocalypse—and Noon is the only one who can prevent Armageddon from starting again…

And finally…

This week’s series started with one writer’s question, left as a comment on one of my random blog posts. If you have a question about books or writing, lemme know! Who knows? I may do another series of posts in the future to try to answer it. :-D

Thank you to everyone who participated, both authors and commenters. You are all awesome! Best wishes for the weekend, everyone!

The Business of #Writing: Everything Else!

This is it! Post #5! The last post in this week’s “mini-series” of posts where I discuss my 2013 writing expenses and ponder what worked, what didn’t, and what I might change this year. All week, I’ve been encouraging new writers to ask questions, experienced writers to share their own thoughts and knowledge, and readers to either ignore and forgive (if they find this shop talk really boring) or join in! At the end of each post, I’ve included questions for everyone.

So for Friday I saved the Big One – the last of my 2013 Top Ten Expenses AND the one that, as a percentage, dwarfed all of the others. What was it? I call it “Everything Else” and it took up almost 31% of my expenses last year. Whoa. So what the heck is included in that monstrous chimera category? Well, lots of things, obviously. But this series of posts has to end at some point before you all get really sick of me talking about this stuff so I’ll just quickly hit a few of them and then wrap this series up.

Giveaway Expenses

I already mentioned that I give away print copies of my books. Well, I also give away eGift Certificates to bookstores of the winner’s choice. This allows me to open up my contests to international participants. Truth be told, most people pick Amazon. I hope they use the certificate to buy my books or someone else’s, but it’s their prize. I think of the opportunity to win prizes as a thank you to everyone who helps me spread the word about whatever it is I’m trying to spread the word about (usually a new release or a new cover).

Workshops and Conference Recordings

I took a self-publishing class from Author EMS and ordered a bunch of recordings from RWA’s national conference.

MY THOUGHTS? When I was a practicing attorney, we were always encouraged to take “CLE” classes – continuing legal education. Authors should take continuing education classes too – CAE for all of us! :-D Also: don’t try to take an online class during a Yahoo Groups redesign. (Grr…)

Holiday Gifts

Who did I send a gift to? My agent and my editor. We have nice, professional relationships and I believe in saying thank you. In my previous career, December was always a fun month. Lots of small tokens of appreciation coming in and going out. And there’s the fact that, though we haven’t had many lunches or dinners, my agent and editor always pick up the tab when we do. They deserve some end-of-year cheer.

Charitable Contributions

This is actually one expense I wish was higher. I really admire writers that combine philanthropy and writing. Something for me to think about in the future, but for 2014 I’ll probably just concentrate on keeping my head above water and continue giving when I can. (Who did I give to in 2013? The Red Cross and Special Olympics).

Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and Donations to Other Cool “Causes”

[Again, I need to remind everyone that my posts are discussing writing expenses generally, not deductible expenses specifically. Make a list of your expenses, gather your receipts, and talk to your tax advisor about whether any of them are deductible. I cannot give tax advice, but I can’t imagine costs like this are deductible. Strictly speaking, they’re not even expenses. They’re donations.]

In 2013, I donated to the Online Etymology Dictionary and to the Museum of Science Fiction.

Research and/or Translation Assistance

Those of you who’ve read the Noon Onyx series know that I’m fond of Latin phrases and idioms. I have a Latin tutor who helps make sure I’m using them the way I want to. (This doesn’t always mean the interpretations I give in the book are accurate. I’ve changed some of them to fit the story and note that in the acknowledgements.) Here are my favorite ones from each book:

Jill Archer's Dark Light of DayDARK LIGHT OF DAY

Lucem in tenebras ferimus.

Into the darkness, we bring light.

Jill Archer's Fiery Edge of SteelFIERY EDGE OF STEEL

Virtute non armis fido.

Courage over weapons; cats over sanity.

urban fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy, White Heart of Justice, Noon Onyx, Jill Archer, cover reveal, cover artWHITE HEART OF JUSTICE

Volo tecum vivere . . . Recuso mori sine te!

I want to live with you . . . And I refuse to die without you!

LESSON? Use less Latin? Kidding. Having liberally sprinkled Dark Light of Day with Latin phrases, I could hardly leave them out of subsequent books, and I’ve very much enjoyed working with Joan, the woman who helps me translate these phrases. But my next project likely won’t have any Latin.

Service Charges, Taxes, and Professional Fees

Ah, from love, death, and Latin to taxes. :-D

By now you are all probably eyeing the clock wondering when happy hour starts. So, really, can you think of a worse topic to be discussing on a Friday afternoon then this one? So, very quickly, here’s the deal:

I had some bank charges; everyone who banks does. I paid some personal property taxes as a result of structuring my writing business as an LLC. And I paid my accountant, which brings us back to the beginning (as good stories always do) when I said Monday:

Every spring I begin the tedious process of collecting all of my expense receipts so that I can send a packet of information to my accountant…

LESSONS? While no one loves paying taxes, I don’t regret forming the LLC. My accountant deserves to be paid for her work and I’m definitely going to talk to my bank about lowering some of my service charges.

I spent money on other things in 2013 but these were the ones I thought were worth considering, discussing, and sharing.

Now it’s your turn:

Did I miss anything?

Other expenses that you may have had that I didn’t:

  • Photographer’s fee
  • Independent editing fee
  • Proofreading fee
  • Formatter’s fee
  • Cover artist’s fee
  • Copyright registration fee
  • Legal fees
  • ISBN costs

Were you impacted by the Yahoo Groups redesign? What do you think of Yahoo Groups now?

Do you have a favorite charity? Have you ever contributed to Kickstarter or IndieGoGo projects? If so, which ones?

Have any fun Latin phrases to share?

Thank you to everyone who commented, shared their thoughts and experiences, or answered my questions. You are all fantastic! Best wishes for a terrific weekend!


The Business of #Writing: Books and Writer’s Groups

This is day #4 of my week-long “mini-series” of posts where I mull over my 2013 writing expenses and share my thoughts. New writers, feel free to ask questions! Seasoned writers, your take on these topics is always appreciated. Readers, these posts give you a peek at what many authors do behind the scenes to support their work. There are questions for everyone at the end.


Our favorite topic! In 2013, I bought about 25 books (this doesn’t include my books; this expense category represents the amount of money I spent on other people’s books – about 6% of my total expenses).

What kinds of books did I buy? Fantasy, romance, historical, mystery, new adult, young adult, general literature, anthologies, and some non-fiction. I bought hardbacks, trade paperback, mass market paperback, and electronic versions. I paid $0.99 for some to over $25.00 for others (not many). I bought them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and my local independent bookstore.

Did I read them all? I wish! I’ve mentioned before that one of the downsides of becoming a published author was a decrease in personal reading. That hasn’t really changed for me since I first groaned about it, although I have been able to binge read from time to time and I’m trying to get better about carving out more consistent reading time into my schedule.

fantasy, Dark Light of Day, Jill Archer, Noon Onyx

LESSONS? This is the first year I’ve tracked this as a business expense. (To be clear, I’m not saying that this is a deductible expense – or that any of these expenses are. That’s for you and your tax adviser to figure out.) Could I cut back? Absolutely. Will I? Ha! I doubt it. I like supporting other authors, booksellers, and books in general by buying books. Sometimes, I feel guilty I don’t buy MORE. It’s wise for authors to read as widely as they can, to keep up with the market, to know what’s being published, and to know the quality of work that your peers are putting out. And all writers started as pure unadulterated readers. Books => bliss!

So instead of finding a way to cut this expense, I’d settle for finding a faster way to get through my TBR pile. :-)


There are all sorts of writer’s groups out there: big ones, little ones, informal kitchen table-type ones, and ones with bylaws, elections, national conventions, etc. Some writers will say you don’t need a writer’s group – and, of course, you don’t – but I think they’re worth the investment. For the record, the amount I paid for writer’s group membership fees came in at #9 out of #10 on my list of Top Ten Writing Expenses, which represents about 4%. Too high? Maybe. And, truth be told, this is an expense I carefully consider every year.

I belong to two main writer’s groups: Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). They are both nationally organized, well-funded, and have vast caches of institutional knowledge.

RWA was founded in 1980 and has more than 10,000 members and almost 150 chapters. They allow both published and unpublished members to join. They host a national convention every year where their highest award, the Rita, is presented to winners in various categories.

SFWA was founded in 1965. To become an active member, you must be published, but unpublished authors can benefit from their Writer Beware site. They host the Nebula Awards and have about 1,800 members.

Both RWA and SFWA have had “controversial moments.” (I leave you to your internet searches. I don’t want to rehash; I only want to acknowledge that the groups aren’t perfect). Each has caused me, from time to time, to question whether I still want to be a member. And yet, year after year, I re-up. Why?

Because the writers I interact with – many of whom I’ve met through these groups – are, for the most part, wonderful. Writing is a lonely business. I used to work in an office. I had colleagues, an assistant, and clients. I talked to people all the time. I was on the phone, in meetings, chatting in hallways and other people’s offices. I was having lunch. And then I became a writer, which I love. But I’m no longer talking to people all the time. It’s a quieter business, ya know? :-D So I like having a group I can turn to if I have a question, need advice, or simply want to say hi.

There are other benefits to being in a large writer’s group, such as advocacy (both on a group and individual level) and early access to industry news. But each writer has to decide for themselves if the cost of membership in these groups is a good trade for the benefits they might receive. My hope is that big, institutional writers groups like RWA and SFWA will evolve in positive directions as the publishing climate continues to change and the myriad ways in which writers can connect and receive information continues to grow.

LESSONS? MANY. But no change here.

So those are my thoughts on books and writer’s groups. Now, I’d love to hear from you! Answer any! Answer all!


Do you try to diversify your book buying habits so that you purchase books from a variety of different sellers or do you prefer to do your shopping in one main place?

Do you like a variety of formats (hard cover, trade paperback, mass market, digital) or do you prefer one over all others?

Do you buy more books than you read? Does that make you happy or sad?

Have any fun or quirky advice on how to plough through a TBR pile and/or add more reading time to an already packed schedule?

Writer’s groups:

Writers, which groups do you belong to? Which groups would you belong to if cost or membership eligibility weren’t an issue? What are some of the benefits you expect from a writer’s group in return for your membership dues?

Readers, had you ever heard of RWA or SFWA before this post? How about the Rita or the Nebula? Does the fact that a book won a major award make it more likely that you’ll buy it?

Thanks, everyone! I’ve really enjoyed reading commenters’ contributions so far.

Tomorrow I discuss… Everything Else! :-D

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