Mission Focus

As I write this I am reading articles about an artistic director in the UK who has been let go after 6 months officially on the job. Her vision, and the vision of the board, are colliding. The board says that she isn’t being true to the mission of the theater.

Were this a theater blog, I would write more about that subject. But for this blog, it makes me think about different genres of writing. When I turned in my manuscript for Just Killing Time, my editor had me rewrite the beginning. “Too dark,” was the comment. She was right. It was a good beginning for a thriller, or for a traditional mystery. But for a cozy? Way too dark. (I saved it for another book.)

It is very important to think about that when you are trying to sell a book. Hybrids, or mash-ups of different genres, are much more accepted these days. But you need to know what the genres are, and what their rules are, before you move forward. Cozy is different than thriller is different than science fiction is different than romance. Each can have elements of many genres, but at its core it is one thing. That’s the mission of the book–to be that one thing.

Also, once you move on to selling the book, you need to be able to pitch it to an agent or to an editor. These folks are in the business of selling books. Books that transcend genre are tough to sell to publishers, and tough to market. Not impossible. But you do need to give folks a frame to work with when imagining your book on a shelf.

This isn’t only for genre fiction. Literary fiction needs a hook too–a mission for the work. And then the book needs to line up with the mission. Know the rules, then break them. But know them first. Stay mission focused.


As Julianne Holmes, I write the Clock Shop Mystery series.

Building Confidence As a… Writer (6)

Good Monday morning, readers! Welcome to the sixth week of a series on building confidence as a writer, where many of the tips can be applied to any career or part of your life.

We’ve covered early morning feel good, daily writing, eating for energy, act-as-if, and focusing on others.

dontbepushedbyyourproblemsThis next one can be a bit challenging at times – I do my best, but can’t always avoid working in panic mode.

It’s exhausting and not-at-all beneficial to work and live in hurry up mode all the time.  If you start every day with a rush-rush must-get-everything-done frame of mind without knowing what that ‘everything’ is, you’re setting yourself up to be extremely stressed and on a path to failing to achieve the success you want.

Setting goals and planning out the days can help you focus on what’s important – and make sure the tasks you *must* get done are accomplished.

Having goals and planning days, as well as we can, enables us to move forward and meet deadlines.

I (generally) sit down on Sunday evenings to review the past week and plan for the upcoming week. This lets me see what I accomplished and what I missed. It allows me to decide if missed tasks are important enough to carry forward on the calendar or unimportant enough to remove from my ToDo list.

The review of the past week and planning for the upcoming week gives me control my days… for the most part.

I mean, we can’t control (or plan for) everything, right? Things do happen in our lives: kids get sick, cars get flat tires, trees fall on power lines, Internet gremlins eat important e-mails, calendar reminders fail, the cell phone battery dies, neighbors have loud parties into the wee hours of a work night… the chocolate supply in the house disappears.

yourockyourweekBut having a plan… having goals… having a map of where we are headed is important so that when something unexpected does come along and interrupts us, we can get back on track sooner rather than later. Without a plan or goals or a map, we’d most likely end up going in circles, retracing our steps, or moving off in a totally unrelated direction – and there isn’t any success there!

So tip #6 is to do the best you can to avoid working in panic mode.

Do you plan out your upcoming week? How do you avoid working in panic mode?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Writer’s Weekend Resources

Hello & happy Sunday!

I hope this week’s wrap-up of good reads and favorite blog posts finds you well. I’m happy to report that I was able to find a couple small pockets of time to set work aside and just scribble in one of my idea notebooks. It’s the first time I’d had a chance to do that in a long while, and I was relieved to find that I actually do still have some ideas and (more importantly!) a few were even almost coherent!😉

If you’ve lately denied yourself the gift of some agenda-free time with your pen and notebook, I hope that you’ll treat yourself to some “noodling” time. It’s such a great way to re-ground yourself and get inspired anew. Seriously. Make it happen.

_jamie sig



book-timebound Books I’m Reading:

Timebound is the first book in Rysa Walker’s Chronos Files series, which (so far) includes three novels, three novellas, and a spin off comic book series. As usual, I can’t remember how I came across this book (I really need to keep better track of that!), but I wound up listening to it as a Audible audio book.

From Walker’s site:

When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence.

Kate learns that the 1893 killing is part of something much more sinister, and her genetic ability to time travel makes Kate the only one who can fix the future. Risking everything, she travels back in time to the Chicago World’s Fair to try to prevent the murder and the chain of events that follows.

Changing the timeline comes with a personal cost—if Kate succeeds, the boy she loves will have no memory of her existence. And regardless of her motives, does Kate have the right to manipulate the fate of the entire world?

This book is classic YA (complete with a love triangle), and not my usual cup of tea (I tend to go right from middle-grade to adult fiction, skipping most YA); but the time traveling piece of the story intrigued me. I also liked the multi-generational aspect of a granddaughter and grandmother working together.

The story held my interest from start to finish, even though the characters and relationships sometimes slipped into stereotype territory. After all, sometimes all you really want is a decent story. You don’t need any earth-shattering revelations.

While I was listening to Walker’s time-traveling novel, I kept seeing ads for NBC’s new series, Timeless, which is also about someone trying to change the past in order to influence the future. And then, while Googling Timeless, I came across this fun and thought-provoking article by Elizabeth Logan about why there are so many new TV shows about time travel. I especially liked her writerly observations including, “It’s easier to write certain plot lines if there aren’t cell phones,” and “In an age when almost every tent-pole film or series is based on a preexisting character with an established fan base, time travel is a clever way to circumvent the franchise system: use people and events we learned about in school.”

What do you think about the current trend of time-traveling shows and movies? What do you think it says about how we’re feeling? What kind of wish fulfillment do these stories offer? Also – if you could time travel to anytime, when would that be and why?

My Favorite Blog Reads for the Week:





Finally, a quote for the week:


Here’s to rainy weekends (which is what we have in my neck of the woods) because they are the perfect time to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea. 
Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.

Writer’s Weekend Edition – Donning the Writer’s Costume

With Halloween just around the corner, I wanted to share a column that I wrote about the allure of slipping into costumes, not only for the Samhain holiday, but for the everyday roles that we play in our lives. Writing this piece made me think about what attributes, attitudes, and accessories go into my “writer’s costume,” and – more to the point – what role do those external trappings play in my perception of myself as a writer. That’s, perhaps, a conversation for another day; but for now, I hope you enjoy this little musing about the role of costumes in our daily rounds.

··• )o( •··

Me and my daughter: Halloween 2012 - Was this really FOUR years ago?!?

Me and my daughter: Halloween 2012 – Was this really FOUR years ago?!?

With Halloween just a few days away, it’s time to put the finishing touches on the kids’ trick-or-treat costumes. There are tiaras that need glitter,  swords that need another coat of metallic paint, and ghostly sheets that need pressing. There are makeup designs to be tested and hairstyles to be perfected. The just-right pair of shoes must be found. The battery-operated light saber (with full sound effects) must be tracked down. All around town, parents’ design, construction, and artistic skills (not to mention patience) are being put to the test in the creation of angel wings, robot arms, and – most importantly –  cold-weather costume adaptations that will satisfy mom’s warmth requirements without driving the kids to tears.

A few nights from now, the kids will don the trappings of their alter egos as they venture out into the dark to collect their annual tithe of mass-produced sugar products. From mermaids to goblins, black cats to zombies, princesses to pirates, our streets will be overrun by the strange and wonderful, the scary and sweet. For a few hours, our children will transform themselves into the creatures and characters of their dreams, inhabiting other skins and running amok with the wild things.

For their part, most of the grown-ups will skip the costumes. They will say they are too old for such playacting. They will protest that dressing up is just for the kids. When it comes to Halloween accessories like crazy clown wigs, vampire fangs, and superhero capes, I will admit that costumes are (mostly) for the kids. However, dressing up is something we grown ups do every day.

Each morning we wake up, consider the day ahead, and choose our “costume” accordingly. I might be a stay-at-home mom one day, a business consultant the next, and an equestrian the day after that. Sometimes, we perform multiple costume changes in a single day.

Everywhere we go and everything we do requires a different getup. It’s not that the clothes we wear make us better mothers, consultants, riders, or what have you; but the right attire does help us get into character. I would have a hard time, for instance, confidently presenting a marketing strategy to a client dressed in my usual mom-garb of yoga pants and a T-shirt. Likewise, I would feel uncomfortable folding laundry and making brownies wearing heels and a dress.

Sometimes, a certain piece of clothing or an accessory can become a personal talisman. You might have a lucky shirt or baseball cap, for instance. I have a lucky pair of boots. We have our “go to” outfits that help us feel more confident, or even invincible, not unlike a child wearing a Halloween costume in order to banish a fear of the dark.

In her story “Menace,” writer and cartoonist Allie Brosh tells about the time a dinosaur costume transformed her four-year-old self into a rampaging force of nature. For a period of a few weeks (until her parents figured out the connection between the costume and her wild behavior), Allie found new freedom and confidence as a prehistoric lizard. “All I knew was that being a dinosaur felt very different from being a person, and I was doing things that I had never even dreamed of doing before. Of course, I had always had the ability to do these things — even as a person — but I didn’t know that. I’d just assumed that I was unable.  As a dinosaur, I didn’t have any of those assumptions.”

Assumptions are dangerous things. If you’re not careful, assumptions about who you are and what you’re capable of can steal your life right from under your nose. In the spirit of Halloween, why not find yourself a new costume – maybe a really fabulous pair of jeans or a great jacket – and see what kind of metamorphosis you can engineer. Sometimes, all you need is a metaphorical superhero cape to take on the world … and win.

Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.

Friday Fun – Writerly Halloween Costumes

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Halloween is only ten days away. Will you be dressing up, and – if so – who will you be this All Hallows’ Eve? For bonus points, if time and money were no object, which favorite character (of your own devising or one you’ve read about) would you like to become for the evening?

JME5670V2smCROPJamie Wallace: I love getting dressed up, but, sadly I haven’t spent any thought or money on a costume for this year. Though my daughter and I have enjoyed two trips to Salem, MA and she has invested a great deal of effort and funds in her own costume, I just haven’t gotten around to it. So, I will doubtless be scrambling on the afternoon of the thirty-first to throw together some kind of hodgepodge creation to wear as I stroll with my daughter, her friends, and myriad parents up and down the main trick-or-treating thoroughfare in town. Luckily, I have a collection of beautiful masks, some miscellaneous items of costume-y clothing, and a number of props to choose from.

As for who I would be if time and money were no object, I’m going to go with the Disney version of Maleficent, complete with animatronic wings. I was impressed by this costume,  and this one, and this one, and … well, you get the idea. Maybe next year.

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson: I haven’t dressed up in years! But I enjoy seeing how creative people can be with costumes. I’ve actually never lived in a place conducive to trick-or-treating, so haven’t seen a lot of costumes over the years as kids go door to door. I’d love to get to Salem, MA, as Jamie has – maybe this is the year for me.

As for who I’d be, no particular person or character comes to mind. The rational side of me says it would be a functional costume – one I could easily sit in and move around in and that fits in the car. Edgar Allen Poe comes to mind, as do some characters from books I love, but those aren’t very conducive to ‘costumes’ as they are people and it’s more personal characteristics than outerwear that makes them stand out.


My Art Journal

For the last few years, I’ve been getting more and more into visual arts. I’ve always been a “crafty” person, but for many years I did things that involved following a pattern someone else made: counted cross-stitch, knitting, even paint-by-numbers.

Then I started wanted to draw my own patterns.

zentanglesmall zentangle2small zentangle3smallSo I started tangling Zentangles, which allowed me to create my own simple patterns. Even if I followed other people’s patterns, it would inevitably change into something that was all my own. I really liked that.

This past January, I started a new planner, as I do every year. But this year, I wanted to do more with it. I made it my art journal/planner/(writing) journal, with the help of the book No Excuses Art Journaling: Making Time for Creativity, by Gina Rossi Armfield.  I cannot tell you how much enjoyment I’ve gotten from using my planner in this multidimensional way.

I also think it’s helped my writing.

The more I do with the visual arts, the more I see around me. Seeing more inevitably leads to better writing. I am more precise in my words (at least I think I am.)

Here are a few examples from my planner/art journal, as well as a recent drawing.artjournal2small
peardrawsmallAfter I finished drawing the pear (although I’m not really done with it yet,) I had one hour before I had to pick up my son from school. During that time, I wrote two blog posts and made some notes about ideas for new posts. Then I picked my son up, drove home, and tried out a new recipe for dinner. It came out great!

When I create art, even in the small way I pursue it (totally for fun!) I believe I am more creative in every way.

How does your (non-writing) creative life contribute to your writing life?

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon, MD: I’m a writer, blogger, master life coach, mother, and family physician. I’ve been playing around with words and pictures for a while now, and I’m having a lot of fun. I don’t yet know where it’s going to take me, but I trust that it will be someplace new and exciting!

For the love of books and stories and how they change lives

Something a little different today.



Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. In addition to my bi-weekly weekday posts, you can also check out my Saturday Edition and Sunday Shareworthy archives. Off the blog, please introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.