Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas my fine followers. . .

Christmas Eve morning and I'm all done with the shopping and wrapping, and have cookie mix ready to go for when my sister and her family arrive. Now I'm just relaxing and alternating between editing and watching television with the kids.

As I sit here and reflect on 2009, I figured I'd do one last blog to recap our year. I still can't believe 2009 is almost over!

Let’s see, this year was a very busy year starting with celebrating New Years in New Hampshire, a trip to the Carolina’s in February, a business conference in Orlando in March, a writer’s conference in New York City in May, a wedding in Nashville on July 4th, and summer vacations in Maine. Beyond the traveling, we also had school dances, spring sports, recitals, and rondoris, your basic mayhem with the kid’s schedule.

My son won an award in his Jukido Rondori, taking the first place trophy in his division. He also jumped up to a yellow 2 belt and continues to do well. He also pitched his first game in little league this past spring. The boy is a natural and the next sport he wants to tackle is football. So in 2010 it looks like he’ll get that wish.

My daughter graduated from middle school and chose to attend a high school for the arts. She is now dancing 4-6 hours a day along with her academics and has limited her extra curricular dancing schedule to only one class, but it’s a competing Hip Hop class and I’m told they may be competing in New York City in February.

This summer we had the pleasure of housing two college girls from Missouri who were working for the Southwestern Company doing the most hideous job I can think of - door to door sales. They fast became members of the family and when they left, it was like a blanket of solemn silence descended on our home. We truly miss them.

Both my husband and I continue to enjoy our day jobs. He is still playing in the APA (American Pool Association) at his brother's bar every Tuesday and whooping my butt every time we play at home. Maine was relaxing as always, unfortunately this year the fish weren’t biting and he came home empty handed most of the time, but he did reel in a couple striper and we got some stellar fish chowder courtesy of our neighbors at the campground. He was able to get a few golf excursions in between the rain storms and we got a rare treat at the end of the season, a clear warm day and we joined our neighbors on a kayak venture up the York River.

As for me, I’ve had a busy year between work, writing and a new assistant editorship for Allegory e-zine as well as the general taxi service on the home front. But by far the biggest news of the season is the publishing contract I landed for Survival Games.

Survival Games - an erotic thriller - will be released in both e-book and paperback on July 19, 2010 and can be picked up through my publisher or from You can now pre-order the Kindle version on Amazon!

Well that about wraps up the recap. I hope this finds you safe and warm during this holiday season.

Here’s to a Merry Christmas and a safe, joyous and prosperous 2010!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

JETaylor on writing Survival Games . . .

Now that Survival Games is going to see the light of day, I can share some of the more amusing stories relating to explaining the plot to folks like my family and my co-workers.

This was the first book I wrote when my family gave me carte-blanc to go for it and I'll tell you - after 20 years of not writing, the words sailed out. It took me less than a month to get the story on paper - of course after that it took two and a half years to refine it to what will be published - but the original book spilled out like a levy crumbling under a flood. And when I was done, I looked at what I created and had a 'holy shit' moment.

The book is dark and twisted, intense and graphic and I didn't realize I had that level of darkness in me - and the first draft of this book was much harsher than what will be in print in July - but regardless, I figured I'd better get over the WASP-bred embarrassment of creating something so controversial and steamy.

So I asked my father to read it.

Yes, my father.

Well, I'm sure I shocked the hell out of him but he didn't say much regarding how he felt about his little girl writing erotica or such a horrific tale. The one thing he did say is that it had a lot of sex - but he amended that by saying the subject matter warranted it and considering the plot line, he thought it was appropriate and not gratuitous. Overall he liked the story.

So after the slightly awkward conversation, he asked if I was done with the second book yet. He wanted to read that too - wanted to know what happened to the characters from the first book and as any writer knows, this is the best feeling in the world.

Ok - so I tested the waters with a co-worker and I'll tell you, the looks she gave me after she started the book - it was all I could do not to laugh every time I saw her. And then one day she asked a priceless question - she asked if I could teach her to dance because my main character in the book knows how to dance.

I did laugh then, because I have no rhythm what-so-ever. Two left feet and then some. And she thought there was reality based in the book. The only shred of “me” in the book is the fact that my favorite color is described. That’s where reality ends; the rest is just a figment of my imagination and a reflection of my nightmares.

I said, "Oh honey, the book is FICTION - I can't dance."

Needless to say she was both embarrassed and relieved.

The next slightly awkward moment was right after I announced to my co-workers that I got a publishing contract. It was one of those not so politically correct moments. Most of my co-workers know I’ve got an unpublished FBI agent series, but most of them didn't know about the erotica, so well, you can imagine the raised eyebrows.

My boss had announced to a group - did you know JET got a publishing contract? And of course, someone asked what type of book.

“It’s an Erotic Thriller.”

"Oh neurotic thriller? Like something by Woody Allen?"

I laughed and said "No - EROTIC thriller, like something by Jackie Collins." Bad example - but all it was all I could think of at the moment and while I turned about five shades of red - my co-worker tripled that. To lighten the shocked silence I added. “But I'm the one who’s neurotic."

So after tackling my parents and my co-workers, I feel confident I’ll be able to speak coherently and not turn sixty shades of red when I participate in a panel called "You write your mother with that pen?" at the Backspace Conference in New York City in May about incorporating sex scenes into your novels.

Anybody else have some fun stories about explaining their novels to friends and family? I’d love to hear them.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .

Hello! It's snowing in CT and I figured I've neglected my blog long enough. The stew is on the stove simmering and the Christmas shopping is done, so I've got no more excuses. :)

November was a mad rush of a month - my first Nano and I didn't hit my goal. In the past 2 years I've done 4 successful Writing Marathons through Backspace hitting 50k or more in a month each pass but not this year.

This year it went by the wayside because I just didn't have the story fully baked in my head. I could sit here and blame it on the day job or sifting through the Allegory submissions or even on the edits for Survival Games or the holidays even, but every one of those reasons is just a lame excuse.

My brain was more centered on the things I need to do in the Games series, and the fixes I want to make in the FBI series. I do have 3 partial stories started and waiting for the timer to go off, but until I clean up the existing ones, I really can't seem to focus.

I did have some success with short stories though. I've written one for an eXcessica anthology and am editing my way through the second as we speak. I also have a third one due by year end and I don't know if I'll make that deadline with all the other items on my plate - but I'm sure going to try!

In the meantime, the release date for Survival Games was moved from May to July - just in time for the summer heat. :)

Well, the big fluffy flakes are falling and the fire is cranked in the wood stove, so it's time to get back to the creative side of writing.

I hope you all have a happy and healthy holiday!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Yipee! I got a publishing contract!

I'm excited to say the least.

eXcessica publishing has picked up Survival Games for publication. The release date is set for May 17, 2010. Both print and ebook will be offered through and the ebook version will also be avaialbe online at eXcessica as well as other venues such as Fictionwise, Barnes & Noble, All Romance Ebooks, BookStrand, Smashwords, A1 Adult Ebooks, Fiction4All, My Bookstore and More, and Mobi/Amazon/Kindle.

Now that I've done the celebratory dance, filled out forms, signed a contract and given blurbs and excerpts to the publisher, I'm wondering what's next? What kind of ride am I in for? Excitement, hesitation, fear are all now working my bones now that this is real.

So, I've got to start planning like a fiend now that another step in the great publishing quest has been attained. I'm talking an all out sales blitz!

WooHoo - you up for the ride?

Friday, September 4, 2009


Some of you may have been following my back and forth with an Agent on my facebook page. She contacted me via that venue and asked me to attend her open house and call for submissions.

I immediately said thank you but no thank you, especially after the dead agent fiasco in August. And when I saw conflicting work history (she supposedly worked for the dead agent long before that agent opened her doors) - I wanted no part of it.

But I thought twice about just letting it go because I didn't want some writer desparate from rejections to jump at an open call for submission from an unknown and end up getting burned.

I wrote a note called Speaking to the Dead about the experience and what I learned, so those of you who are writers seeking representation, you might want to take a peek at the entry below this one.

That episode cultivated some of he best advice I've ever gotten. It was from a writer friend of mine (Keith - I adore you!) and here is his nugget of wisdom:

I'm sorry this happened, but it serves as a lesson to you and others: make sure you know something about the agent you're querying BEFORE you query. The fact that Googling her turns up nothing of real substance should be a warning sign. Even a new agent should have some history that shows them somehow involved in the publishing biz.

Bottom line: don't lower your sights in your desperation to get an agent.

You need somebody who can sell your book, not just somebody who likes your book. So I think you need to look for people for whom there is some indication that they are experienced enough - or at the very least somehow qualified through other expertise or connections - to represent your work. If they are so far off the grid that Googling reveals nothing, you have to wonder how effective they'd be in the very relationship-oriented business of selling books.


So it's not enough to be able to recognize "good writing" but they also need to know what will SELL and to know the publishing industry well enough to work the system. Enthusiasm is great - but it doesn't necessarily open doors.

I hope my Q&A session was enough to open eyes. The said agent may be legit - but with no verifyable experience - this is a very risky proposition.

If you jump the gun, you might get burned. So writer, beware!

Happy Writing and I wish you patience and prosperity!


PS - After my posting of this note on Facebook as well as my last graceful thank you but no thank you - I'll wait to submit until you have verifiable sales - the agent in question blocked me and deleted my questions from the Open House forum. I guess she didn't want any hint of questioning her validity.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Speaking to the dead . . .

Apparently, I speak to the dead . . .

OK, not really – just the assistant to a dead agent. Here’s my story and the lessons learned. As you all know, I have a facebook account as well as a presence on other networking sites. Well, one day, I get this friend request on facebook. I accept the offer – because I usually accept friend requests these days, however, after this – I may think twice.

Anyhow, a day or so after I accept and say thanks for looking me up – I get a private message asking if I’m a writer. Now anyone who has read my profile page knows I’m a writer. But instead of pointing out that obvious DUH – I say yes and go through the rig-a-ma-roll of introducing myself and that I have written 8 novels in the span of 2 years and am in heavy edit mode. She then tells me she’s a new agent, just starting out on her own and looking for clients.

Lesson #1 – Always be leery of being approached online in this fashion.

I asked if she had interned at an agency – the answer was no – she studied for this and was just out of school opening her doors. I scratched my head at that but OK; it takes all kinds, right?

Well, she went on to say once I was done editing she’d be happy to take a look. I saved that away and when I was ready, I sent out my query to her along with the first ten pages. I had a response within an hour to please send the full manuscript. That was on Sunday night. OK – she moves fast – so I sent it along at almost 11pm.

Monday rolls around – a very unusual Monday because I wasn't online at all until the wee hours of Tuesday morning – after 1am. There in my inbox is a note from said agent with a time stamp of Monday 12:30pm:

Your novel is wonderful and well written and you clearly have a voice of your own. You are a very talented author. I will send your novel to my contacts at the publishing houses and let you know of their responses once I receive them. I am pleased to be your agent.

My initial reaction was Wo Nelly – not so fast! I have a ton of questions and besides, I haven’t agreed to have you represent me yet. I wrote a quick note asking that the agent call me (I gave my vacation home phone number out) in the late morning to discuss the questions that I have and went to bed, undoubtedly excited.

Lesson #2 – Be suspicious when a contact replies so quickly – what’d she do, read through the night? My only other experience like this turned out to be a full-fledged scam!

Morning comes – and I have an email in my inbox stating that she does not give out her number until an author has signed with her and she would be happy to answer any question I have via email.

Lesson #3 – This was a big uh-oh and I should have left it at that and withdrew right there. If an agent is not willing to speak with a prospective client via a phone call – that’s a BIG RED FLAG.

So I sent my list of questions and in the meantime notified one of the agents that asked to be given a heads up before I make any decisions if an offer was put on the table . . .

Lesson #4 – wait until you have all the facts before you give a heads up to those with your manuscript – you have all the time in the world, so don’t make a rash decision.

I got a response to my questions, although some of it did not sit well, so I sent another batch of questions. That was at a little before noon on Tuesday.

When we got back from the beach in the early afternoon – I sent a couple inquiries to some of the facebook friends asking about their interactions with the agent – following up on digging a little deeper – after all the only online presence this agent had was facebook, My Space and Linked In and a listing on US Literary Agents part seven that basically said anything sent in writing to the address listed will be thrown away – another scratch of the head here – but I figured they’re running paperless – OK – good for the environment.

Lesson #5 – listen to your gut.

At 4:45pm on Tuesday – I get a notification from the Agent’s assistant:
This is to let you know that XXXXXX has passed away. She had a heart attack and died in her sleep last night. Please let me know if you need a letter of recommendation or direction to find a new agent.

Ok – now was it my second list of questions that prompted this? Is this a brush off because now she doesn’t want to represent me? If she really died, who the hell was I going back and forth with all morning?

Lesson #6 – hold off on reacting – or at least make sure you’re saving that scathing email to draft and not hitting the send button by mistake!

Needless to say – the last question was the one that went out. And I sent a note back to the agent saying I got a really bizarre message and was wondering if her email account had be hit by a hacker. I’ve gotten some really wacky things from folks in this same situation – and after all, I had been going back and forth with the agent all morning.

The response I got set me off. While all the emails were signed with the agent’s name, they were all written and sent by the assistant "acting on behalf of the agent", but I didn’t know that when I was going back and forth, and had I – it wouldn’t have bothered me. Agents are busy – they have assistants, but in all my communications with agents, any time an assistant answered, they signed the emails as such. So this masquerade seemed just a bit underhanded. Red flags went off big time. And I really went nuts when the assistant informed me that the agent had been in the hospital for a few days.

A few days? WTF? Was the offer of representation even real?

That type of dishonest behavior makes my skin crawl.

I searched the papers for the obit and couldn’t find it. So I went ballistic and crafted the email that lesson #6 lists – a big oops on my part because it was really, really a nasty rant, one that not so nicely stated I wanted written confirmation that the email with my attachment was deleted and that called her out on posing as the agent herself.

In the meantime – I thought it was fishy enough to send the history of interactions to Predators and Editors. They agreed it sounded odd and were going to look into it.

Later in the evening I got a response to my angry rant back – just as scathing as mine, which is understandable - I replied to say I’m sorry for upsetting her but the whole chain of events was just so bizarre that I overreacted.

That message came back – the email account no longer existed, the facebook page was gone as well as the MySpace and LinkedIn page. Off the face of the internet. Bam. Now it’s like the agent never existed.

I still don’t know if it was just a case of bad timing, an overzealous assistant or a scam of some sort. But the timing of all these things has me scratching my head and the cynic in me is thinking I have somehow been had.

Lesson #7: Don't let your vision get clouded by someone just because they throw a few nice words at you. Make sure you do the research on an agent BEFORE you query them and if you can't find any information outside of networking sites - BEWARE!

On retrospect, I was a little naive and should have recognized the signs. I hope this little recount will help someone with the same hopes and dreams not fall prey to the scoundrels out on the web!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

101 Questions for the prospective Agent

You’ve got that agent hooked and they want to represent you. Now what? Well, it’s always wise to do you homework and ask a lot of questions before you settle into a contract.

Do I have 101 questions? No – just 16 at this point that I’ve collected through my own experience and that of some very astute authors - but if you have questions that are not on the list and should be, I would welcome any thoughts you may have on the subject matter:

1. How long have you been in the business?

2. Latest significant sales in the same or similar genre?

3. How many authors do you represent?

4. May I contact any of them as references?

5. Fees – what are your customary contract fees? Do you have any other charges that I should know about up front? (copying, mailing, editorial service fees – beware of the last one).

6. Can you tell me the extent of your experience in negotiating publishing contracts?

7. Do you have any experience with publicity and what do your recommend an author do in this space?

8. Are you associated with any literary organization – for instance AAR?

9. Do you sign a client agreement? If so, is it for one book or all work?

10. What other services does your agency offer?

11. How do you handle film and foreign rights?

12. When it comes to editing and generating ideas with your clients, how active are you in the creative and editorial processes?

13. What makes you want to represent my book?

14. What publishing houses do you have contacts with? And which ones were you potentially targeting for my book?

15. Do you think the book is ready to go out on submission?

16. If it needs revisions, how does that process go? What revisions do you suggest?

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Nightmare that is Editing!

I recently took it upon myself to combine two books and pare it down into one kick ass manuscript. At least that was the original intent and after peeling away close to 60 THOUSAND words, I think I’ve gotten there. The best of the two stories in one killer thriller.

But anyone who’s attempted this feat can understand the pain of looking at every chapter, every scene, every sentence and every word going – do I need this?

The exercise alone gave me a ruthless insight into editing – whether it is to shorten like in my case – or just refine a manuscript into a crisp, fast, compelling read.

It is painful to look at a beautifully written passage and shake your head saying – This is nice, but it really lends nothing to the story. And therefore it finds itself in the delete bin with the rest of the cut scenes, like trails of film on the cutting floor. Our babies dying a cruel but necessary death.

Ugh, and you thought a stake in the heart was painful!

Now that Hunting Season has been shrunken and honed to a fine read, I can get back to finishing the first draft of Georgia Rein.

To all those out there that are in the throws of editing, I feel for you, but remember – do what’s best for the story!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Backspace Conference Retrospect

I had the time of my life at this conference and met some really cool people in person that I've been trading posts with on Facebook, MySpace and of course, Backspace. Finally putting faces on names that I've chatted with beyond the small icons on their home pages is great. Just to name a few: Tamara, Jael, Karen, Brain, Chris, Sharon, Elizabeth, Elorey and Amy and some new friends including Tim, Ken, Scott, Sharon K and so many more.

The two minutes, two pages was terrifying - especially since getting up and speaking to a crowd is one of my most skittish issues - but I didn't piss my pants, collapse or worse, freeze at the podium - so that's a win. And oh - they let me read through the entire thing - no small feat! One agent wasn't into it -the other had words of encouragement and actually read the rest of the page (I had a couple lines at the top of page 3). So it wasn't the roasting of JET as I imagined it would be.

Meeting the Chief Editor of Allegory E-zine - Ty Drago (my "boss") - in person was stellar. We seem to be two sides of the same coin although he's 6"5 and little ole me is only 4"10 - more like mutt and Jeff on the visual - but the minds are dangerously alike.

Highlights beyond the phenomenal line up of panels and workshops include talking with Jonathan Maberry about writing and getting your foot in the door. Chatting with David Morrell about the love of writing and flying and discussing the merits of Final Draft with Richard Krevolin.

I ended Saturday evening having dinner with the owner of Glass House Press, Carrie White. She's fantastic and hopefully she'll consider bringing me under her label. She did take the first four chapters of Mirror Lake, so who knows, maybe I'll see my name on a shelf next year.

Hope all is well with you, my faithful followers - ciao and good night!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Backspace Conference

I'm getting ready to head down to the Backspace Conference tomorrow to meet some of the on-line writers that I've been talking to for the past year or so and I'm incredibly excited!
I'm also doing a two minutes - two pages session with a couple agents. Frankly, I'm nervous. Speaking in front of a group always makes me nervous. Just hoping I'll pull it off without looking like a total idiot - LOL.

I'm having dinner with a publisher that I've been talking to for over a year. Maybe something will come of it - but maybe it's just a dinner to finally meet in person. Who knows.
It's a tough business, tougher than the securities industry but I'm up for the challenge. I'm feeling the Irish luck smiling down on me - and it's still May - the month I seem to have incredible luck. Perhaps this will be my year.

Thanks for swinging by! Have a wonderful weekend all!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Has it really been that long?

I just realized how long it has been since I've been out here - oi. Sorry folks. The holidays took over - facebook took over, writing took over - you know the drill. I'm still in wait mode. Glass House Press just released their first book this month - so once the dust settles, the managing editor will have time to take a look at the re-write they have the option on. At least that's what I'm hoping for, we'll see. I'm not getting overly excited until I have that contract in my hand. In the meantime, I'm still plugging away at a mystery I started about a year ago and dabble in when I'm between novels. The short story contests over at Backspace are a great little writing fixes. And I'm taking a few writing courses to focus on polishing some of my glaring weaknesses - yes, I have those! I'll admit it. Anyhow - thanks for hanging in and being patient for me to return and write something prolific - that will happen one day, really, truly . . .

Okay maybe not - but it'll be fun in the meantime.

Have a great March and hope your April brings spring and not just the tax man!