Tag Archives: Jill Archer

SPRING: #horror #romance #movie

Has anyone watched SPRING yet? The 2014 horror, sci-fi, romance flick directed by Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson and staring Nadia Hilker and Lou Taylor Pucci? (It’s not rated, but I’d put it squarely in the rated “R” category.) I saw it last week and have been thinking about it on and off since. If you’ve seen it and want to discuss, read on! If you haven’t, be aware – big spoilers below!!


The woman who cuts my hair recommended this to me. I’ve been going to her for years and we talk about movies all the time. We have similar tastes and she watches as many movies as I do. So it’s always fun to catch up and swap recs. I have to say, the day we discussed this one was pretty funny. The backdrop was this semi-swanky hair salon and there we were, me in the chair, her chopping away behind me, talking about blood and tentacles and syringes and killings and body transformations… and it seemed like every head in the room turned our way. I couldn’t figure out if they thought we were insane or just wanted to watch the movie too.

As some of you know, I’m actually not a huge horror fan. I prefer supernatural thrillers, psychological suspense, and/or dark fantasy to straight up horror but, occasionally, I’ll watch something with a twist (The Cabin in the Woods comes to mind). So I was wary when my hairdresser first recommended Spring. After hearing all the gory details, I asked her:

Does it have a happy ending?

Yep, I’m a wimp sometimes and I just wanted to know what I might be getting myself into. She was reluctant to spoil it for me but finally said, “Yes.” And her answer is what convinced me to watch it and why I’m passing this info on. Romance fans who like dark stories, this one’s for you. Bonus: horror fans will not be disappointed either (but don’t tell them the ending ;-) Half the fun for horror fans will likely be trying to figure out whether the guy will end up the girl’s victim in some sort of gruesome black widow scenario).

Why did I like it?

I loved that it successfully blended two near-opposite genres. Combining horror and romance is really difficult. Romances are about bringing two people together. They are about human connections, closeness, emotions, warmth, and love. Horror is about frightening the crap out of the audience. You know someone’s gonna die and it might even be the MC.

Ok, so what’s it about?

The movie opens with Evan losing his mother. It’s a really sad scene. Tough to watch, but it immediately establishes his capacity to love and be there for those he loves. Grief-stricken, he decides to travel and round-aboutly makes his way to Italy where he meets a mysterious, beautiful woman – Louise. The rest of the movie centers on their developing relationship, which is massively complicated by who and what she is.

What you may not like about it

FlickFilosopher wrote a review that points out that, in order to get to the happy ending, Louise had to give up her immortality and change who she was. The reviewer’s point was that, not only was Evan not worth Louise’s sacrifice, but why should the girl always have to change to get the guy?

It was an interesting point and one that caught my attention. (Obviously, the stories are different, but in my first novel, Noon also struggled with who and what she was. Ultimately, she decided not to change.)

For me, however, Louise’s change and sacrifice worked. Why? Three reasons.

First, I thought Evan might be someone who was worth that kind of sacrifice. Hey, it’s a movie. The filmmakers only get two hours for audiences to fall in love with their characters. They showed me enough of Evan’s character for me to fill in the gaps. He had potential as an awesome beau even if we didn’t see all of it. His devotion to his mom and his interactions with the other characters (the two buddies he traveled with for a while and the old widowed farmer he worked for) gave us hints that he was someone who, despite being at a very dark point in his life, was still going to approach the world with openness and warmth.

Second, he loved Louise enough to die for her. Yes, he fell in love quickly but, man, once he was in, he was all in. When he found Louise mid-shift in her apartment looking deadly and terrifying, he didn’t run. Nope, he bashed down the door and found a way to help her. And, at the very end, when Louise kept telling him she was probably going to kill him – that she didn’t love him and that, for his own sake, he should get the hell out of dodge – he didn’t. He never left her. He was willing to risk her killing him if it meant having a chance at a life with her.

Third, there were hints that Louise was sick and tired of that immortality b.s. Is it really all it’s cracked up to be? Sounds pretty lonely to me. And Louise’s rebirths every twenty years sounded awful. If she was fully embracing who and what she was, she wouldn’t have been carrying around all those syringes to stop the transformations. Nope, she was ready for it to be done.

Have you seen SPRING? What did you think?

[Am I back to blogging? No. Not really. I may share my thoughts on stuff from time to time here, but for now, I’m still focused on my WIP. So I’m heading back to my writing cave. NaNoers – soldier on!!! Wishing you – and me – high word counts for today! :-D ]

#Writing #Workshops for November (and my two cents on what to do if you hate the scene you’re writing)

Below are the online workshops being offered in November by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

I’m including a picture of flowers this time instead of animals… There’s also a brief bit from me at the end about a scene I’m struggling with and what I intend to do about it. For those of you who are in a hurry, here are the take aways from this post:

  • Register for workshops
  • Keep writing!
  • Carve Pumpkins
  • Eat Candy
  • Happy Halloween!! :-D

Book Covers: The Poster for your Book

11/02/2015 – 11/16/2015

If a book is a  movie in your head, a book cover is the poster to entice the crowds. Whether you’re doing your cover yourself or working with a designer, same principles can be applied to ensure a marketable poster for your book to attract a reader’s eye.

Join award-winning cover artist Fiona Jayde in a two-week course covering the joys of trends, the fun of fonts, common misconceptions, false starts, and Fiona’s driving philosophy on book covers: go big or go home.

About the Presenter, Fiona Jayde

Fiona Jayde is a space pilot, a ninth degree black belt in three styles of martial arts, a computer hacker, a mountain climber, a jazz singer, a weight lifter, a superspy with a talent for languages, and an evil genius. All in her own head.

In life, she is tinkers with images to create cover art for amazing books, possesses a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do and blue belt in Aikido, used to be a hot-shot web developer, scared to death of snakes, loves jazz piano, and can bench-press  20 pounds — with effort. She learned English reading Nora Roberts and watching Growing Pains, and when pried away from her computer, enjoys movies where things frequently blow up.

Cost: FFP Members:$10.00/Non-Members: $15.00

Register for This Workshop

Lessons of Firefly: Learning From the Works of Joss Whedon

11/02/2015 – 11/29/2015

Though Joss Whedon’s television show FIREFLY only aired through the fall months of 2002, it has continued to generate followers through word of mouth, DVD sales and an exhaustible amount of followers known as “Browncoats”.  The Romance Writers of America has many “Browncoasts” in their midst as Jacqui Jacoby learned though discussions with members at the RWA National Conference in both Atlanta and Dallas.  Many of these followers love to listen and talk about what they learned from watching the series.  Discussing dialogue is a favorite pastime, both at the conferences and online in writing loops.

FIREFLY, created by the Rod Serling of our generation, was a masterpiece of writing.  Each of its thirteen episodes taught character development, dialogue and plotting techniques.  Its motion picture sequel, SERENITY, not only touched on these subjects but added relationships, loyalties and loss to its repertoire.

In this workshop, Ms. Jacoby will reveal the lessons of FIREFLY.  By using class participation and examples from the episodes, she will translate with words what Mr. Whedon was teaching us on screen.

About the Presenter, Jacqui Jacoby

As a die-hard Firefly fan who can quote dialogue and scenes from both the series and the movie, Jacqui Jacoby knows how to get a crowd excited about the Lessons of Firefly.

She is a workshop teacher who has appeared both live and online to give such classes as “From Austin to Aliens: How to Create Classic Tough Chicks” and “Behind the Scenes: The Research Before the Book.”

Winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award in Excellence, as well as the Suzannah and the Dixie for her books, Ms. Jacoby’s articles have appeared worldwide.  Lessons From The Giants ran in publications in the United States, Canada and Australia.  Her article, Tough Chicks: Heroines in Today’s Market ran in the June 2006 RWR Magazine.

A graduate of UCLA, Ms. Jacoby lives in the Arizona mountains with her husband of twenty-four years and their three children.  Besides studying martial arts and sword fighting, Ms, Jacoby has recently returned to school to achieve her second Bachelor of Arts, this one in Modern Languages.

Cost: FFP Members:$15.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers." - Claude Monet "I always like to have flowers on the table. I think they make it look special." -Ina Garten My older daughter made this bouquet in her Ag Science class. I love that class. Assignments are often practical, hands-on, and creative. This project was part of their floriculture unit.

“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” – Claude Monet
“I always like to have flowers on the table. I think they make it look special.” -Ina Garten
My older daughter made this bouquet in her Ag Science class. I love that class. Assignments are often practical, hands-on, and creative. This project was part of their floriculture unit.

What to do if the scene you’re writing sucks :-D

So Noon #4 is going well. I recently finished a big, emotional scene and I love how it turned out. It made me smile and laugh and, you know, feel stuff. But then I got to the next scene and everything started C-R-A-W-L-I-N-G… like Glacial Pace City. At first, I thought it was bc I’d just come from a big scene and, in comparison, this scene felt small and slow. Not every scene can be a Big Scene, right? Well, sorta but also sorta not.

Every scene doesn’t have to be BIG, but every scene has to have meaning and move the story forward. Every scene can’t be full of non-stop action (at least not in my books), BUT it has to be full of tension. I want readers engaged in the experience of each and every scene. I want them to want to turn the page. So when *I* start to feel kind of blah about a scene, I know readers probably will too.

So what to do about this little bit of blah in my manuscript?

1. “Houston, we have a problem.” The first step in fixing a problem, is knowing you have a problem. If you find your attention drifting when writing, editing, or reviewing your work, it might be a sign that the scene lacks tension, which is a problem that needs to be fixed. How?

2. Make a list of the things that you know are wrong with the scene: When your problem is lack of tension, it’s hard to know how to fix it without digging deeper. One of the things I hate about the scene I’m working on is the dialog. It meanders. I think it’s because I need to better understand exactly what I want the scene to do. The scene also features a secondary character I haven’t 100% figured out yet.

3. Make a list of things that might fix the scene. I’m a big fan of brainstorming lists. Someone once gave me this advice: when you’re stuck, make a List of 20. Twenty things that might work. The trick is to not hold back. Put crazy ideas on that list. The first five will be crap so the more ideas you put on your list, the better. For my current scene, I could: (a) make the secondary character scarier, meaner, nastier; (b) add other characters (sometimes just adding another person to a two person scene changes the dynamic and makes it more interesting); (c) build a more suspenseful set (the place where the scene takes place); (d) fix a possible timing issue (maybe the scene needs a ticking clock… or more room to breathe?); (e) change what the characters are doing (add more action and/or give them something else to do while talking that serves a purpose or has greater meaning). (See? I told you the first five are always crap. ;-) )

4. DON’T PANIC. Don’t let one scene undermine your confidence or give you temporary writer’s block. If you need to, step away from your keyboard for a moment. (That works wonders for me). Know, deep in your heart (because it’s true!), that this scene will get fixed eventually.

5. Do your best and move on.


6. Rip it out and start it over (just that scene though!!) If you find yourself endlessly repeating step #6, go back to #5. I’ll admit that #5 is probably the most efficient way of writing a first draft. And for fast first draft fans, the only way. For me, it’s hard though. I tend to build each scene from the scenes that have come before. So if I have a scene I know is weak, it’s hard to move on. To me, it feels like I’m building a house of cards without one of the bottom cards — or a beach house without one of the stilts.

In the end, the advice is always the same: Keep Writing! Only by continuously writing will you be able to know your writing style and what works for you.





What’s up with me? In a nutshell:

Noon Onyx Book #4 — well underway. Tentatively titled POCKETFUL OF TINDER. (Thoughts on title? Let me know below or send me a note. The great thing about self-publishing it is I get to pick it. The nerve-wracking thing about self-publishing? I get to pick it. :-D But I’m the one who suggested the first three so I suppose it’s not very different.) No one is sorrier than me for the delay. There are reasons but I want this to be a QUICK update. I’m shooting for an early 2016 release and will keep everyone posted.

Nightshade novella — I envision this as a companion piece to the next Noon book so, if all goes well, I’ll release it around the same time. There may be some extras in it. A deleted scene from WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE featuring Ari and/or some other character vignettes.

Audio versions of Noon Onyx novels — trying to make this happen. Frankly, I’m not sure how it will go. It’ll be interesting to see if I can find a narrator who’s willing to have a go at all the Latin and other crazy, near-unpronounceable words in the books. :-D

Dream, Interrupted — on the back burner for now. I know I said I’d get this published as a stand alone short story, share some discussion questions, and maybe do an audio version of it in 2015, but other projects are more important right now. No one is clamoring for it. It’s a piece I thought was neat and fun to write and I’ll definitely do something more with it — later.

My YA Duology — on submission, which means I really can’t say anything about it other than I WISH I COULD SAY SO MUCH ABOUT IT!!! :-D :-D :-D

Author Newsletter — I will be launching one soon. My plan is to publish it quarterly with a blast for new releases. More details in a future post.

Halloween — what? this wasn’t on my original list of updates back in January? well, it should have been, huh? Only three weekends until the BIG DAY! (That’s my younger daughter below, modeling costume bits and pieces from years past.)

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!!

#Writing #Workshops for October (#indiepub #selfpub and cross-genre #fantasy)

Below are the online workshops being offered in October by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines. (I just signed up for the self-pub one. Come join me! :-) Not in the mood for a workshop? There’s a cat pic below. Enjoy! :-D )

Self-Publishing Part 2: Self-Publishing Your Manuscript

10/01/2015 – 10/22/2015

This workshop is Part 2 of a two-part, five-week self-publishing workshop designed to teach students about the business of self-publishing books digitally and in print. (Part 1 is not required to take Part 2.)

Self-publishing provides an amazing opportunity for authors to take control of their own publishing career. It’s also a lot of hard work. Authors must build successful, long-running businesses and supervise their own production and distribution process.

Part 2 covers:

  • Finding and working with freelance editors, formatters and cover artists
  • Distributing directly to retailers vs using aggregators or publishing services
  • Self-publishing audio books and foreign translations
  • Where and how to sell your book
  • Building a basic timeline and budget
  • Best practices for building your self-published book
  • Understanding metadata and how and where it’s used
  • Is self-publishing really for you?

Workshop Goals include:

  • For students to gain a clearer understanding of how to self-publish
  • For students to take ownership of their publishing career path
  • For students to gain perspective on the financial and artistic reasons to choose self-publishing
  • For students to gain knowledge and tools to help them embark on self-publishing their work
  • For students to discover trustworthy resources for further research

About the Presenter, Kelli Finger

Kelli Finger is published under her pseudonym Abbey MacInnis and publishes books under her sole-proprietorship publishing company. Kelli recently added a certification in grant writing to her writing experience. A classically-trained vocalist with a Masters of Social Work, Kelli is a strong advocate for people with disabilities and has worked for over six years as a Braille proofreader. Having faced the challenges of developing her own self-publishing career, she’s eager to help others save time and understand their many options.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

Defying Gravity: Writing Cross-Genre and Succeeding Anyway

10/18/2015 – 10/31/2015

Genre definitions have a profound influence on writers’ careers. From the first queries where we must specify the book’s genre to long-term decisions about pursuing or giving up on a “dead” genre, dealing with what feels like a false construct is a necessary skill. However, following our hearts and inspiration often means tossing aside these considerations.

Or chopping them to pieces in a murderous rage.

But shedding conventions can be what sets a book apart. That’s what takes a writer’s career from midlist to break-out. So… how do you know? More—how do we find the courage to embrace a bold move?

In Wicked, the heroine Elphaba is faced with that crucial decision, of whether to choose the safe path or to risk flying on her own. This workshop will explore genre definitions and how Jeffe Kennedy went from being a “Crack Ho” – being told that her work fell in the cracks between genres – to receiving a nomination for Book of the Year and an RT Seal of Excellence for the one title each month that stands out from all the rest by an innovative twist on a familiar story or pushing genre boundaries. Participants will discuss their experiences with genre—both coloring inside the lines and stepping across them—and will leave inspired to take risks and follow their hearts.

Everyone deserves a chance to fly!

About the Presenter, Jeffe Kennedy

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic  contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and has been nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose, has been nominated forbest fantasy romance of the year. Two more books will follow in this world, beginning with The Pages of the Mind in Summer 2016. A fifth series, the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, started with Going Under, followed byUnder His Touch and Under Contract.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.

Cost: FFP Members:$10.00/Non-Members: $15.00

Register for This Workshop

Nutmeg Back to School


#Writing #Workshops for September (and a goat picture)

Interrupting this irregularly scheduled interruption: I almost made it! :-D

As many of you know, I took a break from blogging this summer. My goal was to take the month of August off, at least. It’s been weird but good. I definitely feel out of touch at times, but it’s also been nice to double down on Noon #4 (I shared a fun snippet on FB over the weekend. Check it out if you missed it!) But I wanted to do a quick post today to let everyone know about FF&P’s upcoming September workshops.

Are any of you planning on either pitching a book or self-publishing soon? If so, check out the classes below. Kerri Nelson’s Pitchworthy class starts tomorrow. Now’s your chance to practice those pitches! Good luck and best wishes, all!!

(Oh, and the goat pic is at the bottom this time. Why a goat? Uh…. Truth is, I have a bizarre habit of posting animal pics when I post these workshop reminders… Enjoy!!)


Below are the online workshops being offered in September by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

Are You Pitchworthy?

All You Need to Know to Score Big with your Book’s Pitch

09/01/2015 – 09/28/2015

Want to practice your pitch for an upcoming pitch session to an agent or editor?  Need help refining your pitch to include in a query letter?  Well, practice makes perfect!

Sign on for this handy pitch practice workshop, taught by multi-published romantic suspense author, Kerri Nelson.

During class you’ll get to practice your pitch (up to 4 drafts with suggested revisions); view examples of the good versus the bad; and polish your skills on developing the elusive perfect sales hook for your book.

Over the past five years, Kerri has pitched more than thirty different books in every imaginable genre (from erotica to young adult) to multiple agents and editors with a tremendous success rate for follow-up requests for both partial and full manuscripts.  She has sold twenty-two novels and novellas in the last three years after perfecting her pitch process.

In this intensive interactive course, Kerri offers up the secrets to nailing your pitch, how to score a home run with editors, and how not to stop short of getting the results you want!

Finally get the contract you’ve been waiting for!

Students from prior classes have sold multi-book deals to publishers, been offered representation by agents, and many other successes after perfecting their pitch with Kerri.

About the Presenter, Kerri Nelson

Kerri Nelson survived a fifteen year career in the legal field and then took her passion for crime solving to the page. But her journey to become a mystery author took a decade long detour into the world of romance where she penned twenty-two novels and novellas in various sub-genres.

Born and raised a true southern belle, Kerri holds many useful secrets: how to bake a killer peach cobbler; how to charm suspects with proper batting of the eyelashes; and how to turn your parasol into a handy weapon.

Kerri is an active member of both Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers and as a mentor to other authors, Kerri has successfully developed her popular Book Factory Method and assisted dozens of authors achieve publication via pitches crafted in her Pitchworthy class.

She also edits professionally through her freelance editorial service, Deep Cover Edits and as a staff editor for two small presses.  Her latest writing adventure is the new #1 Bestselling Cozy Mystery series “The Working Stiff Mysteries” now available wherever books are sold.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

Self-Publishing Part 1: Creating Your Self-Publishing Business

09/16/2015 – 09/30/2015

This workshop is Part 1 of a two-part, five-week self-publishing workshop designed to teach students about the business of self-publishing books digitally and in print.

Self-publishing provides an amazing opportunity for authors to take control of their own publishing career. It’s also a lot of hard work. Authors must build successful, long-running businesses and supervise their own production and distribution process.

Part 1 covers:

  • Basics of self-employment models: sole proprietor, LLC, corporation
  • Protecting your privacy if you write under a pseudonym
  • Registering your copyright
  • Obtaining ISBNs and when they’re necessary
  • Creating a preliminary budget

Workshop Goals include:

  • For students to gain a clearer understanding of how to self-publish
  • For students to take ownership of their publishing career path
  • For students to gain perspective on the financial and artistic reasons to choose self-publishing
  • For students to gain knowledge and tools to help them embark on self-publishing their work
  • For students to discover trustworthy resources for further research

About the Presenter, Kelli Finger

Kelli Finger is published under her pseudonym Abbey MacInnis and publishes books under her sole-proprietorship publishing company. Kelli recently added a certification in grant writing to her writing experience. A classically trained vocalist with a Masters of Social Work, Kelli is a strong advocate for people with disabilities and has worked for over six years as a Braille proofreader. Having faced the challenges of developing her own self-publishing career, she’s eager to help others save time and understand their many options.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

What would Sam-I-Am say?

What would Sam-I-Am say? My younger daughter and I spied these Green Goats chomping away on all sorts of pesky greenery on the hill beside our local Wal-Mart. Ingenious, environmentally friendly way to mow steep slopes, huh? Turns out goats will even eat poison ivy. (Why couldn’t Ladew Gardens have hired these beasties back in July? :-))

What other animals have pimped FF&P’s classes?

Hope everyone’s doing well!

Blogging Swan Song

You may have noticed that my posts here have dwindled lately. Months ago, I decided to take a break from blogging (originally, I thought I wouldn’t blog past June but my vaca got in the way of me posting these final hurrahs so now it’s nearly mid-summer and I’m just getting around to my bloggy swan song).

Why I’m Stopping

Mostly, because I want to focus on my books more than my blogging.

And it’s good to shake things up every now and then – to take a break and/or try something new. I think it’s been clear from the beginning that my goal was a casual, eclectic site where I could discuss things that I think are fun and neat and invite other writers to share their thoughts on the same.

It was important to me when I first entered the crazy world of social media that I be seen as a whole person and not just the author who wrote books about a world where the demons had won.

But now that four years and three books are behind me, I think lots of you know who I am and those that don’t… Maybe they just want books, not blog posts! :-D

I’ve achieved my goal, which was TO BLOG. Period. (Admittedly, I had some loose secondary goals like “at least once a week” “add guest bloggers” “increase traffic” “learn how to use WordPress” “reach 100 countries” … that sort of thing). But I’ve reached those goals too now.

I’ve loved the quirkiness of blogging, the random connections, how blogging isn’t perfect and no one expects it to be. I’ve loved its serendipity.

Who remembers that one of my top referrers for years was Sir Jog A Lot (a marathon runner!) or that one of my top posts in 2014 was my review of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (bc, it turns out, lots of people search the internet for… well… if not the meaning of life then at least the meaning of ghost cat metaphors) or that a vintage aircraft/WWII researcher contacted me with info about my grandfather seventy years after he died bc of a Veteran’s Day post I did back in 2013?


That feeling of being part of a larger whole and using your blog as a tool to connect with others is powerfully addictive stuff.

I’ll miss it, that’s for sure.

But I’ll still be around (see below). And there’s nothing stopping me from starting up again in the fall. (Although, if I do, this blog may become more of an author newsletter with info about my upcoming releases, contests, cover reveals, and the like.)

Thank You for Following!

I very much appreciate everyone’s support with this blog. All the shares and comments, all the tweets and RTs, all the follows and likes. You guys are TRULY AWESOME!!! (Over the years, I’ve received many compliments about different posts. One reader told me she printed out all of my Disney park reviews so that she could save them for future trips. More recently, lots of people have told me how much they enjoyed the Five Photographs author interview series.) I always say I’m a novelist first and a blogger second, but it’s been fantastic hearing people say how much they’ve enjoyed blog posts that I wrote or hosted.

Final stats:

If you are a Noon Onyx fan, or if you want to know more about my future writing projects, stay tuned… I don’t expect to post any news this summer, but hopefully I’ll have an exciting update in the fall. In the meantime, I’ll be writing!!

If you are a writer, I’ll still be lurking on RWA’s FF&P loop (and occasionally PAN). And who knows? I just might storm the gates of SFWA’s forums this summer… ;-)

Other Places You Can Find Me

Brought To You By…

the Noon Onyx Series

Gotta give a final shout out to my Noon Onyx series…

If you’ve enjoyed ANY of the posts I’ve written here over the last four years or so and you haven’t yet bought the books, PLEASE do so now! :-D



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

One out of every two hunters who follow the Old Trail will not return…

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. Noon’s task, however, 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…

“High stakes and powerful magic collide” —Publishers Weekly
“Demanding, powerful, full-flavored and utterly destructive” —Bitten by Books
“I was hooked from the beginning.” —Night Owl Reviews (TOP PICK)

Amazon Barnes and Noble  Books-A-Million

Powell’s Books  Book Depository  IndieBound



Fiery Edge of Steel  Final

When traveling into the unknown, sometimes the biggest danger is the one you bring with you…

Noon Onyx is the first woman in memory to wield waning magic. Her unique abilities, paired with a lack of control and reluctance to kill, have branded her as an outsider from her peers. Only her powerful lover, Ari Carmine, and a roguish and mysterious angel, Rafe Sinclair, support her unconventional ways. When Noon is shipped off to a remote outpost to investigate several unusual disappearances, it seems Luck is not on her side. But when the outpost settlers claim that an ancient and evil foe has stepped out of legend to commit the crimes, Noon realizes that she could be facing something much worse than she ever imagined…

“Excitement and action leap from the page” —Publishers Weekly
“A fresh and fascinating series!” —RT Book Reviews (4 Stars)
“Danger, adventure, magic, love, and the quest for truth.” —The Qwillery

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Jill Archer's Dark Light of Day

Into the darkness, we bring light…

Noon Onyx has been accepted into the prestigious St. Lucifer’s Law School where her mother hopes she’ll be trained as a Maegester. But Noon doesn’t want to control demons, set fires, or destroy things. She wants to become a Mederi so she can grow gardens and heal people. Noon’s best friend, Peter Aster, is an angel spellcaster who thinks he has the answer to Noon’s predicament: an ancient, mysterious, lost spell that can turn Noon into the Mederi she always wanted to be. Only one person stands in the way of Noon’s dream – Ari Carmine, a fellow classmate who seems fascinated by Noon’s fiery side.

“A spectacular debut novel.”—USA Today bestselling author Faith Hunter
“Set against the backdrop of university life, there is an abundance of adventure, mystery and passion!”—RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

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Five Photographs: Jill Archer (#writing: challenges, frustrations, joy, and hope!)

No post last week because I was on vacation. We went to wonderful Cape May, a place I’ve blogged about many times. Did some new things there too, which was nice: biked to the lighthouse and climbed to the top, biked to the brewery (a good way to work off the calories of a seasonal sampler! :-D ), and tried a few new restaurants/bars (among them, The Blue Pig at Congress Hall and 410 Bank Street). But now it’s Monday and time to get back to work!! Today’s Five Photographs guest is ME! :-) I share one of the things that brings me joy that I can’t believe no other writer picked. I dish on some things that frustrate me and I tally up everyone’s “biggest challenge facing writers today” answers and add my own. This will be one of the last posts this summer, so please give me a shout out in the comments if you’ve enjoyed this series!

Something that represents something unique about you

Mother Sculpture

My older daughter made this awesome sculpture for me when she was in elementary school. It’s me! There are two kids poking up from my head and arm, a tree growing out of my middle because I love nature, and I’m holding a pencil because I’m a writer — and because my daughter’s art has a practical side. Is that the coolest pencil holder you’ve ever seen or what? :-D

Something that represents where you live

Fly Fishing

There were so many pictures I could have picked for this (see below), but I wanted to share a picture that I hadn’t posted yet so I went with this one. This was taken in the Gunpowder Falls State Park during a hike. The Gunpowder Falls offers world-class catch and release fly fishing. Even though I don’t fish, it’s neat to see the fishermen quietly going about their business in the river as you hike along its banks. It’s an amazingly beautiful park. Hard to believe when you’re in it how close you are to urban centers like Baltimore and York, PA.

And, because I love Maryland so much, here are some links to other posts I’ve done highlighting just some of what Maryland has to offer:

Your pet or plant or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

Panda Plant

I’ve shared lots of pictures over the years of all of my pets so I wanted to share something new. This is the Panda Plant that my daughter grew from a cutting in Ag Science class. It now keeps me company in my office. If you want to see pictures of all of my pets though, here are some links:

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

BUTTONS!!! Not the kind like “he really pushes my buttons” but the myriad, omnipresent buttons that you actually suspect do nothing. They’re smoke and mirrors. You press them and nothing happens (like the “Comfort” button in my car. Huh? What exactly does that thing do?! I notice zero difference when I press it.) And just look at all those buttons on my remote controls!!! (Yes, we actually use all of those. Yes, we probably need a universal remote. But that would just add MORE BUTTONS to my life.) Take my washing machine, for example. Fourteen settings. Fourteen!!! (Convenient that 14 can be divided by 2 so that each side of the dial has an equal number.) And, yep, I realize that my washing machine technically has only one button and the other settings are controlled by a knob. My old machine had half as many settings but they were all buttons. I’m not sure which is worse.

I saved the worst (best?) for last — my alarm clock!!! Retro is cool. This thing is like circa 1985 or something. It picks up weird signals when you leave your cell phone too close to it. And it’s called the “Dream Machine.” But. Really? As if! The thing lives to torture you with its hideous a.m. screech. The one good thing I can say about it is that there are only seven buttons and I know what each and every one of them does. See? They don’t make ’em like they used to. :-D

BTW — a quiz for writers — which buttons can we not live without?

[Hint: QWERTY :-) ]

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)


Of course my family brings me joy!! And my friends. And all sorts of other stuff in my life like books, movies, hiking, biking, day tripping, etc. But I had to pick the one thing that I couldn’t believe no one else picked — COFFEE!!! We’re writers for crying out loud! Where’s the COFFEE LOVE?! :-D Pictured above are three of my favorite coffee mugs.

I also had a runner-up I debated picking:

Pac Man

Yep, PAC-MAN! This is the real deal, folks. Vintage Atari. (My husband still has his old console, as well as about fifty katrillion cartridges. He was much better about keeping all his old electronics than I was.) When I was getting this post together, I was telling him about all of my choices. And before I decided to pick coffee, I told him I picked Pac-Man as the thing that brought me joy. And he was like, “Why?”



Because it’s Pac-Man!!!

(In his defense, his question wasn’t because he doesn’t understand the appeal of old video games, but because Adventure is his favorite, not Pac-Man.)

Like vintage gaming? Check out these posts:


What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

Sometimes a reviewer can say it better than I can:

“A thrilling adventure that brings Noon and her Guardian Angel Rafe, literally to the gates of Hell…” The Qwillery

What are you working on next?

A YA duology and more stories set in Noon’s world.

What are you currently reading?

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Everything I usually watch (GoT, Outlander, Downton Abbey, and Mr. Selfridge) is on hiatus so I may go back to watching Vikings and/or Orphan Black.

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

Ah, so many choices! And, even though I’m the one who came up with this question, I’ll admit that “what’s your favorite” questions are always tough for me. My favorites constantly change depending on my mood, what I’ve recently read or watched, sentimentality, the season…

So here’s my answer to this question as of today:

Favorite fantasy creature: Temeraire from Naomi Novik’s HIS MAJESTY’S DRAGON

Favorite fantasy villain: Lasher from Anne Rice’s THE WITCHING HOUR

Favorite fantasy weapon: the sharing knife from its eponymous series by Lois McMaster Bujold

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

I was curious about the final tally for this question so I went back through everyone’s answers. For the most part, there were six answers:

  • Discoverability (5)
  • Marketing (3)
  • Deciding whether to self-publish or traditionally publish (3)
  • Balancing writer demands like social media and marketing while writing the next book (2)
  • Pressure to write faster and produce more (2)
  • Digital disruption (1)

There’s no doubt these are all significant challenges facing writers today. But I’m going to pick something different yet familiar to all of you writers out there to talk about:

The challenge to KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON. It’s not a new challenge. It’s a timeless one.

How can we meet that challenge?

Challenges will always be there in one iteration or another. Anyone who sets a meaningful goal for themselves will have obstacles to overcome. The key to success is perseverance. Is it hard? Yes!!! Writers suffer rejections, bad reviews, low pay, long hours, self-doubt, and countless other buzz and bliss kills. Some days, meeting the challenge of “keepin’ on” can feel like you’re hiking up Mt. Everest with an anvil on your back.

When it starts to feel like that, take a breather. Do something else. Not for too long, but for a little while. When you return to the mountain the anvil will be lighter. Why? Because it’s not real. Yes, the challenges that writers face are real. But once you step back from them they merge and meld and blend and mix into the rest of what comprises a writer’s life (imagination, creative expression, immersing yourself in stories with emotional resonance, spending time with characters that make you laugh, cry, and/or admire them, the wonderfully rich dynamic between writers and readers, your love of the written word, narrative, drama, etc.)

You will realize that climbing a mountain is difficult but doable. The anvil is no more real than a knot in your shoulder, a cramp in your calf. Rub it out, smudge it out, and keep going!

Have fun and be proud of the fact that YOU ARE HIKING A MOUNTAIN!!! :-D

#Writing #Workshops for July (and a frog picture)

Below are the online workshops being offered in July by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

"I'd kiss a frog even if there was no promise of a Prince Charming popping out of it. I love frogs." --Cameron Diaz

“I’d kiss a frog even if there was no promise of a Prince Charming popping out of it. I love frogs.”
–Cameron Diaz

For my birthday this year, I toured Ladew Gardens. I didn’t kiss any frogs, but I did get poison ivy. :-( I still loved it. It’s smaller than Longwood Gardens, but closer. Highlights were the Butterfly House, topiaries, and Manor House with its oval library and vintage book collection. I took the above picture at the Tivoli Tea House & Garden.

Ok, now on to this month’s workshops!! :-)

Time Management for Writers:

How to Finish That Book Even When Life Gets in the Way

07/06/2015 – 07/19/2015

Do you feel like you can never find the time to write?  Have you been chipping away at the same manuscript forever without much progress?  Do you need a system that can get you to typing “The End” with success and satisfaction? Wrangling a fickle muse to meet a deadline—or just to get rid of that looming blank page—is a life-skill for everyone who wants to get serious about their writing.  Multi-published author Allie Pleiter shares the nuts and bolts of how to manage your muse, set goals and deadlines, and tackle the process of professional creativity using her popular Chunky Method.  With a useful mix of the practical, the inspirational, and the nitty-gritty real life of it all, Allie Pleiter gives aspiring or working writers the tools they need to make the magic happen.

About the Presenter, Allie Pleiter

An avid knitter, BBC Television geek and French macaron enthusiast, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and non-fiction working on as many as four novels at a time.  The enthusiastic but slightly untidy author of over two dozen books, Allie spends her days writing, buying yarn, and finding new ways to avoid housework.  Allie hails from Connecticut, moved to the midwest to attend Northwestern University, and currently lives outside Chicago, Illinois.  The “dare from a friend” to begin writing has produced a fourteen-year career with nearly one million books sold.  In addition to writing, Allie regularly speaks on faith, the creative process, women’s issues, and her very favorite topic—time management for writers.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

Social Media Platforms:

Deciding Which One Works Best For You

07/06/2015 – 07/19/2015

You’ve signed up for Facebook, posted a picture of your dog, and your friends liked it.  Now what?  With the ever-changing world of social media, it can be intimidating and confusing when deciding what works best for your author platform.  In this workshop, you will learn the facets of Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest and what types of content work best for each. In addition, you will learn strategies for using each platform to present a seamless author brand and build your reading community.  Finally, we will cover some tools you can use to make keeping up with social media a little easier.

Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate

About the Presenter, Jessica McQuaid

Jessica McQuaid always wanted to be a writer.  Then she found out writers had to market their books.  Planning accordingly, Jessica got her undergraduate degree with honors in creative writing before moving on to get her MBA with a concentration in marketing.

Believing that book smarts didn’t always equal street smarts, she left the academic world to garner marketing knowledge in the big bad world of corporate America.  And when she was done figuring out what they knew, she founded Someday Lady Publishing to help other authors with the sometimes daunting task of marketing their books.  From WordPress sites to newsletters, from tweets to blog tours, Jessica has helped countless authors make sense of the seemingly endless world of marketing.

Jessica makes her home in the great state of New Hampshire where she lives with her husband and two very opinionated Basset Hounds.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

Five Photographs: Laurel Wanrow (“Without the next book, we are sunk!”)

My last Five Photographs guest is Laurel Wanrow. She’s here with a picture of her blind rescue turtle, as well as more about her debut steampunk fantasy THE UNRAVELING. Welcome, Laurel!

Hi Jill–What a fun way to have an interview! Thanks for extending it through June!

My pleasure, Laurel. I’ve really enjoyed this series and will be sad to wrap it up. But all good things must come to an end. :-D I’ll be sharing my five pictures soon!

Something that represents something unique about you

Laurel Wantow cabin porch

A cabin built by my dad—with help from his parents—while he was in college. I think it’s unusual these days to have an entirely handcrafted house made by a family member. I’ve visited my entire life and my husband and I have taken our kids just about every year. I also sneak off for writing retreats. :-)

[Jill: definitely rare and unusual. Looks like the perfect writing retreat!]

Something that represents where you live

IMG_6886.JPG copy


I walk on a nearby golf course and frequently see wildlife: fox, deer, geese and even turtles cross through our neighborhood.

Your pet or plant or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

Laurel Wanrow Clady

While working at a nature center I did a lot of turtle rehab and was given an Eastern Box Turtle who crossed the road at the wrong time and lost her eyesight. My daughter was little when she came to live with us and named her Clady. We’ve hand fed Clady for twenty years. She’s between 50 to 80 years old. (It’s hard to tell the age once they’re full-grown.)

[Jill: that is really neat. No one has shared a picture of a pet turtle yet. Clady was lucky to find a home with you.]

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Laurel Wanrow door lock

Ohmygosh, our door lock! When we had a new door installed it was hard to work. My husband thought it would loosen up, and we had such a time getting the installer to caulk properly that I hesitated to call them back. Five years later I still hate the thing!

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)



Since my kids were really even too little to hunt fossils we have made family trips Westmoreland State Park along the Potomac River. At low tide we scour the beach for fossilized shark teeth, whale vertebrae and other oddities.

[Jill: hunting for fossils is more popular than I realized. Izzy Norse is also a fan of fossil hunting]


What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

In The Unraveling, a steampunk fantasy romance, a proper Victorian artist must learn to use her bloodline’s wild magic to help the shapeshifter she loves, or become what she fears most: another cog in a magnate’s plan to control agriculture.

What are you working on next?

The Unraveling is the first volume of three in a serialized novel called The Luminated Threads. I’ve finished edits on the second volume and am starting them on the third.

What are you currently reading?

Penelope’s Song of Blood & Stone

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

The Big Bang Theory has been a favorite for years. Recently my daughter introduced me to Once Upon A Time, but I’m only in season one.

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

I love Dobby the house-elf and his rather perverse way of ‘helping’ Harry Potter.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Balancing the demands of social media and marketing with keeping your head together to keep writing the next book.

How can we meet that challenge?

I’m not sure I have the answer, since I’m a debut author and just putting into practice the next techniques I’ve heard for years at RWA workshops. The message resonating with me as I approached my first release was Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ oft repeated line “Protect the work.” She usually uses this line when advising writers to get over their review angst, but it applies to all of your writing time. Without the next book, we are sunk!

Laurel Wanrow

Laurel Wanrow

More About Laurel

Before kids, she studied and worked as a naturalist—someone who leads wildflower and other nature walks. When not living in her fantasy worlds, Laurel camps, hunts fossils and argues with her husband and two new adult kids over whose turn it is to clean house. The Unraveling debuted June 23rd.

Thank you for the interview, Laurel, and for sharing your pictures with us today. Good luck and best wishes with THE UNRAVELING!

Five Photographs: J.Kathleen Cheney, Author of the Upcoming THE SHORES OF SPAIN

J. Kathleen Cheney is my next “Five Photographs” guest. I chose her book, THE GOLDEN CITY, as one of my picks for a December 2013 Mind Meld I participated in. The third book in her series, THE SHORES OF SPAIN, is out next month. She’s here with a peek at her writing process, a pic of her pets, and sea monster art. Welcome, Kathleen! :-)

Something that represents something unique about you

Cheney Writing System

This is a photo of my filing system where I keep magazine/catalog clippings, and you can see on the wall what I do with them. Although other people do this as well, what probably makes this special is that I’ve been saving clippings since college. I have some clippings in these files that are 30 years old or older.  If there was a fire in the house, I would grab these before trying to grab photographs.

Something that represents where you live

Cheney Storm Safe

Storm Safe, a dank rusty hole in the ground. This one’s set into our garage floor and the plastic is usually over it because we park a car atop it. Supposedly, this can hold 5 people, but we’ve had 2 in there, and it heats up terribly quickly. But if you live in Oklahoma, you might end up thanking your luck stars you’ve got one of these.

Your pet or plant or thing you care for besides your human family/friends

Cheney The Dogs

Alwyn and Penelope. My fluffy masters, to whom the lion’s share of all revenues go in the form of dog food, treats, boarding, and fixing chewed-up furniture, wood trim, and blinds.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Cheney Frustration

See that? Right lane MUST TURN RIGHT. There are four signs before the intersection. 4! Do not cut into the right turn lane and try to zip around and cut off the people going straight. (This is at the large intersection nearest my house.)

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Cheney Lisbon Discoveries Monument

My husband really supports my writing, and that’s not the case for all writers. Not only did we use our first vacation in 5 years to visit the setting of my novels, he went as far as to get that sea monster tattooed onto his leg. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is ;o)

[Jill: Love the tattoo and its significance.]


What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

I’ve got a new novel coming out in July, and I’d describe it as…In a world where the events of the epic poem, Os Lusiades, were real….wait, I’ve probably lost you there. When Spain and Portugal find themselves trapped in a conspiracy of magic, it will take a few honest men…no, women…no, wait, sirens!…to straighten things out.  

I stink at the elevator pitch.

[Jill: Sounds great! Elevator pitches are hard.]

What are you working on next?

I have a new series debuting next February (the Palace of Dreams Novels), and I’m actually working on the second book in that series (tentatively titled The Sins of the Fathers), although I expect to get edits to work on for the first book (Dreaming Death) any day now.

[Jill: Congrats! :-) ]

What are you currently reading?

Tex Thompson’s Medicine for the Dead, the second in her series set in a fantasy Old West with fishmen and a long-suffering fellow named Appaloosa Elim.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

It’s summer hiatus, so my husband and I are watching TV series on the Roku instead of live TV. We’ve just finished up Season 2 of Orphan Black, and started Season 1 of Vikings. Also, we pretty much watch any Mystery series on PBS, which currently means Father Brown Mysteries and Doctor Blake Mysteries. And American Ninja Warrior, because it’s fun.

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

Bane.  Not the one from Batman, but the one from P.C. Hodgell’s books of the Kencyrath. Bane is SO bad that I really want him to be reformed. Unfortunately, he’s dead.  Well, mostly dead. His body is currently made of bugs. However, he does have the Book Bound in Pale Leather right now, so there’s no telling what he’ll learn from it.

(BTW, I haven’t read the most recent book yet, so don’t spoil it for me in comments!!!)

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Trying to decide which path to take with which works. I think it would benefit most to try for both traditional publication and indie publication, but it’s tough to choose which works belong in which group. And there’s so much advice flowing in from all camps, that it’s difficult for a writer to stick to their guns and choose the best path for them.

How can we meet that challenge?

I think that it would be beneficial for both sides on the traditional publishing/indie publishing argument to quit vilifying the other.  I’m very grateful to have the publisher that I do, and they can do things I can’t. But I also have self-published works, so I get to see both sides of this argument.

More about Kathleen

Kathleen Cheney is a former teacher and has taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, with a brief stint as a Gifted and Talented Specialist. Her short fiction has been published in Jim Baen’s Universe, Writers of the Future, and Fantasy Magazine, among others, and her novella “Iron Shoes” was a 2010 Nebula Award Finalist. Her novel, “The Golden City” was a Finalist for the 2014 Locus Awards (Best First Novel). The sequel, “The Seat of Magic” came out in 2014, and the final book in the series, “The Shores of Spain” will come out July 2015.


A brilliant new chapter in the Novels of the Golden City.

Even as the branches of peace are being offered, there are some who still believe those who are not human should be used as chattel. And they are willing to go to great lengths to retain their power.

Newlywed siren Oriana Paredes has been appointed Ambassador to her home islands now that communication between Northern Portugual and the magical races has been restored. But convincing her people that the new Portuguese Prince’s intentions are honorable after years of persecution is difficult. And her husband, Duilio, faces his own obstacles among the sirens where males are a rare and valuable commodity with few rights.

In addition to their diplomatic mission, the two hope to uncover the truth behind Oriana’s mother’s death. Evidence suggests that Spain—a country that has been known to enslave magical beings—may have infiltrated the siren authority. Unable to leave their post, Oriana and Duilio must call on Inspector Joaquim Tavares to root out the truth.

But even his seer’s gift cannot prepare him for what he will discover.

Thank you for the interview and for sharing your pictures with us today, Kathleen! Best wishes for THE SHORES OF SPAIN!


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