It’s Time for NaNoWriMo!

Happy November!

It’s a rainy and sort of warm-ish morning (70 degrees) here in South Carolina, but I’m still smiling!

Why is that, you ask?

I have a cup of coffee, a clean desk, and a story at least somewhat planned out! I even made myself a little cover for it in hopes that it will push me to actually finish it and win NaNo this year! Wanna see?


MIDNIGHT CITY by Melissa McArthur

If anyone else is doing NaNoWriMo, I’m on there as Melissa McArthur, so come find me!


ConCarolinas 2016 Wrap-Up

It’s Monday. That means another ConCarolinas is on the books, and I’m brain addled trying to mentally condense all the information that I collected during the past three days. (I love Evernote for that, by the way.)

So, here are some of my possibly not entirely coherent thoughts on the convention as a whole.

  1. It was hot! The A/C wasn’t working so we all melted into puddles of ink in the panel rooms and hallways.
  2. I got to hug so many people! (Hopefully none of them gave me the con crud.) I love hugs.
  3. There was an amazing panel on Writers and Mental Health that I was able to be a panelist on, and it’s one of the best panels I’ve ever done. I learned about SIG-E-CAPS from the wonderful Darin Kennedy. And I just want to thank John Hartness for putting the whole thing together.
  4. I love my tribe.
  5. Writers are wonderful and supportive people.
  6. Stuart Jaffe, John Hartness, Beth Revis, and Gail Martin are awesome at marketing. I learned soooo much from them.
  7. I learned about the importance of a newsletter / mailing list (coming soon!) for authors.
  8. I learned about Amazon Affiliate Links (also coming soon!)
  9. I am wonderfully blessed to be able to write and edit (check out my freelance editing site if you’ve not!)
  10. My parents are awesome for keeping my child while I attended the convention.
  11. Misty Massey is the writer wrangling extraordinaire.
  12. New friends quickly become great friends.
  13. We can give the middle finger to HB2 (there were Prince symbols on the bathroom doors – someone got a picture, right?) Faith Naff, I am SO PROUD of you.
  14. Leann Retell and Faith Hunter are two of the best friends a girl could ask for.
  15. Moderating isn’t as hard as I expected, but it’s super important to prepare.
  16. Nicole Kurtz, Alexandra Christian, Tally Johnson, and Susan Roddey are awesome crazy nuggets and I love them.
  17. Tamsin Silver is the sweetest New Yorker. She needs to move back to the south.
  18. I’m not good at minding a table! O_o


Those Other Things…

Writers wear a lot of hats. And socks, too. With monkeys on them. Well, at least I do.

Some of the other hats I wear are mom, wife, daughter, professor, book reviewer, editor, and personal assistant. Yep, all those! But, I wanted today to tell you a little about (okay, shamelessly self-promote) my editing business, Clicking Keys.

Continue reading

A New Year

2016Happy New Year!

I am not really all that big on resolutions. Most of the time, we break them and give up, but I do like setting goals. The new year is a great time to reflect on what I’ve accomplished and what I’ve still got to do.

Continue reading

AtomaCon Wrap Up

AtomaCon was great. Let me tell you. My favorite thing about conventions is getting to spend time with my friends – this wonderful group of folks that I have had the pleasure to get to know over the past few years.

AtomaCon is a smaller con, which is fine with me because I get to spend more time chatting in the hallways and doing silly things than being pushed and hustled around to the next super-important event. Don’t get me wrong, those are great cons too, but for different reasons.

Continue reading

ConCarolinas 2015 Wrap-Up

ConCarolinas is my favorite convention. It’s a local con, just across the NC/SC border from me, so it’s almost like a great big reunion with all my favorite people every year. This year was a little different though. This was my first year going to the con as a  guest! I was accepted as an editor guest on the writing track (yay, Clicking Keys!) and was able to sit on four fabulous panels with some amazing writers. I’m planning to do a separate post about each panel, so look for that coming up in the next few days. The panels I sat on were “Editors and Agents,” “Blogging for Writers,” “The Bad Ones,” and “Stereotypes and How to Avoid Them.”

What I really want to talk about today is the reason for attending conventions. For me (and many others, I’d imagine) it isn’t to make money or sell hundreds of books. Even though that’s great and definitely a factor, it’s secondary to the best reason for attending. The best reason? The people.

This year I was able to have lunch with two of my favorite writers on the planet have dinner with another wonderful, sweet, and amazing writer; share drinks with friends, fellow writers, and fellow editors; and meet so many new people. By the time I left, I was so exhausted that I could barely stand up, but I was so happy and fulfilled that it didn’t matter at all. I was able to spend time with people that I don’t normally get to see, get to know people I already knew a lot better, and make new friends.

I am so thankful to be a part of the writing community. It’s one of the warmest and most supportive groups I have ever met.

IMG_0304 Here are some of the books I bought over the weekend. We have here (from top to bottom) Raising Hell and Straight to Hell by John G. Hartness, Behind the Red Door by Alexandra Christian, Living Dead Girl and Windfire by Tamsin L. Silver, The Mussorgsky Riddle by Darin Kennedy, and War of the Seasons book 2 by Janine Spendlove.


My buddy Sharon Stogner of Devil in the Details Editing Services took this picture of me and my family in the lobby. How cool is that fountain?


This is my husband, Jason Gilbert (who runs Fail-Flix) setting up the table with his books, Faith Hunter‘s books, and Misty Massey‘s books. (Misty usually has chocolate treasures, y’all.)


And, last but not least, here I am taking a selfie with Baart from I Smell Sheep while waiting for the Blogging for Writers panel to start.

I am ready to do it again! I hope to have printed books to sell next year, as my first season of the Maggie stories will be out at the end of September.

Confession Time

I have a confession to make. 

I started writing the Maggie stories simply as an experiment. I have been working with self-published writers for about a year now through Clicking Keys. I have worked with them on editing, proofreading, formatting, and some cover art.

The thing I didn’t understand fully, however, was how the process worked once my work was finished. What happened next? What sort of challenges might the author face once they had a formatted and edited document in hand? Those are the things I wanted to know and to experience firsthand.

Thus, I decided that I would self-publish some of my own works, not only to help me be better at my job, but also because I enjoy telling stories. I have learned a lot from the process. I’ve learned what challenges a writer faces when it comes to figuring out KDP’s royalties, what types of files KDP likes best (and doesn’t like), and I’ve been able to experiment more with formatting without the fear of screwing up someone else’s work while I play around with different options.

However, I’ve actually learned more about writing than I expected to learn. I’ve done the entire process from writing to cover art by myself, except the editing part. I have a wonderful editor friend (Yay, Sharon Stogner!) who proofreads my work for me because no writer should ever edit their own work. She gives me wonderful tips and loads of advice. I am forever grateful for her. Through this process, I have learned what kinds of editing marks might be confusing to an author, what the changes look like on the receiving end, and that writers don’t have to accept any suggestion I make. I also learned how nervous writers can be when waiting for their email inbox to ding and see the edited file come back and how great it can feel to read something as simple as “you’re getting better.”

They always say (as much as I dislike the all-knowing “they”) that you learn best by doing. They also say that if you really want to understand, put yourself in someone else’s shoes. So, that’s what I have done. Through this process, I have created characters that I love, but I have also learned so much more about the writer’s side of publishing than I ever expected.

I hope that this experiment will make me a better writer, and I know it will make me a better editor. I am still working on a novel that I hope to publish traditionally, but I plan to continue writing stories in Maggie’s world. Once this set of stories (the first year or season, if you will) is complete, I plan to explore CreateSpace a little more and self-publish the collection in hardcopy.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for joining me on this journey. I’m having a blast.