Category Archives: A Writer’s Musings

THE END: A Commentary on Editing

Here’s a sneak peek at a post I wrote for Relentless Writers! Check it out to read the full article. xoxo

THE END: A Commentary on Editing by Marissa Campbell

THE END

Two of my favourite words. To a writer, they are the culmination of days, months, or years of blood, sweat, and tears. But they are misleading. We write them, sit back, and revel in our cleverness, in our determination, our grit, our savvy, our persistence, and our sheer magnificent brilliance. It could grace the page of a blog post, social media blast, short story, novella, screenplay, or novel. Writing THE END feels incredible, but it’s just another beginning. THE END is the start of EDITING.

I recently attended Bookapalooza, which is a really cool venue in my hometown where local authors get together and sell their wares. There were speakers and panels and celebrity guest authors. I was honoured to sit on a panel with fellow romance authors Molly O’Keefe and Mary Sullivan. These ladies are veterans. They’ve written a lot of books. They’ve been doing this a long time. Avelynn is my debut historical romance. I was the newb in the room, but they welcomed me with open arms. I was humbled and thrilled to sit at the table beside them. *girlie fan crush moment over* Back to my point: one of the audience members asked the panel a question, “What do you like better, writing or editing?”

Click here for the remainder of this fabulous article. 😀

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

I'll take your challenge!

I would like to thank @eerie_o for inviting me to the 7/7/7 challenge.

The rules of the 7/7/7 Challenge are:

  1. Go to page 7 of your WIP.
  2. Scroll down to Line 7.
  3. Share the next 7 sentences in a blog post.
  4. After the excerpt, tag 7 other writers to continue the challenge.

Since these are the LAST and only lines on page 7 of my WIP (Avelynn #2), I will give them all to you!

“The men that survived the shield wall against the Vikings, the men who fought loyally under your banner are being rounded up and executed as traitors. Their widows and fatherless children blame you and your treachery for their plight. They don’t want you here. They want you dead.”

A strangled cry escaped my lips, and I looked at him in horror. “Bertram, please. . .”

“You are not welcome here, Avelynn. You have lain with the devil and only God can save you now.” He tossed his staff, the wood rolling to a stop at my feet. “I suggest you leave before the people get here. They will arrive on the morrow.” He walked away and did not look back.

OOOOh, how’s that for tension! 🙂 Bam!

I’m supposed to find seven other authors who have to complete this task, but everyone I know has already done it, lol. Instead, I will direct you to the beautiful C.M. McCoy who just completed her 7/7/7 challenge and invited me to finally join the in crowd. 😀

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

 

Farrago

A Farrago of flowers from my garden :D
A Farrago of flowers from my garden 😀

Farrago: A confused group; a medley, mixture, hotchpotch.

The OED dates common usage about 1637. Old enough for me to include in my Avelynn novels, which are a farrago of different story elements.

An author takes a farrago of plot, characterization, setting, and theme, mixes them all together, waves a magic wand, and viola, they have a novel! I am often fascinated with the ‘method’ of writing a good story. There are a lot of books on the subject, and in truth, I have just bought four more. However, in saying that, I’m terrible at figuring that ‘method’ out. I write intuitively, which is a fancy way of saying, I have no clue what I’m doing as I do it. As I write out the farrago of ideas rampaging around in my head, they weave their magical way into scenes and chapters complete with tension in the right places, pacing that ramps up to a climax, and character motivation that drives the action … all without knowing how I’m doing it. The story just comes out that way.

This is all fine and dandy in a first draft but quickly becomes a problem when it comes time to edit and I realize something somewhere is off. Without a guide or a detailed treasure map outlining the elements of story and how and where to use them, during the editing process, I’m not always able to figure out what the issue is that just isn’t working. It’s like an Easter egg hunt in a mansion. They could be anywhere!

This is where wonderful people called beta readers come in. These hardy souls are a farrago of readers from all walks of life—friends, editors, agents, friends, people you beg and cajole off the street—who critique your manuscript. You hand them your words, and they return with feedback that will help you zero in on those mistakes, those rapid misfires, those ‘what the hell was I thinking’ passages. They help turn a farrago of words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs into something someone somewhere might actually enjoy reading one day.

Writing is a process, but I love what I do, and I love the people who support me every step of the way in this wild process… including you dear reader… whoever you are… reading these words… right here… right now. I do this crazy gig because of you. Thanks for being here.  🙂

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

 

Dear Newbie Self

Marissa Campbell

If I had to go back to the beginning of my career and give myself one piece of advice, it would be….

I can’t narrow it down to just one thing, as there are two really important messages I would love to press upon my newbie self!

The first is the importance of hiring a good editor. My first book was co-authored and self-published, and we thought that appealing to wonderful, well-intentioned friends would be a great, cost-effective way of catching our errors. We were wrong. Of course, they found many, but our first edition went to print with an embarrassing amount of typos and grammar glitches. I cannot stress enough the importance of hiring a good editor. Even when I sought traditional publishing with my second book, I hired editors to do substantive and copy edits. It was money well spent and gave my manuscript a professional, polished feel. Without that effort, I would never have found my agent!

The second piece of advice I would give myself is to never, ever, think a first draft, or a second draft, or even a third draft is the final draft ready for submission. I get it. I’m impatient. We’ve spent months, years, or even decades working on this project, and once we finally reach ‘the end,’ we just want to shout our book baby to the mountain tops and send it out in to the world. But our pour babies can’t even roll over yet, never mind crawl or walk! I’m the first one to admit, I need immediate gratification, but where publishing is concerned, this is one area where we have to slow down, dig in, and sharpen and hone that manuscript until it is a shimmering piece of literary beauty. No rushing this part. No thinking, maybe mine is good enough. Let it sit in a drawer. Hide it under your bed. Let it stew and settle for a few weeks to a month, then pour through it again. You’ll be surprised what you find and grateful you didn’t send it out before it was ready!

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

 

 

You Draggle-tailed Bicche!

The Latest Word: Draggle

Draggle

To wet or befoul (a garment, etc.) by allowing it to drag through mire or wet grass, or to hang untidily in the rain; to make wet, limp, and dirty.

Draggle-tail

A draggle-tailed person; a woman whose skirts are wet and draggled, or whose dress hangs about her untidily and dirty; a slut.

Oh, I can have fun with this one! Used around the fifteenth/sixteenth century, I can’t wait to sneak this into one of my manuscripts.

During the many rounds of edits for Avelynn, I had the opportunity to work with a wonderful copyeditor, whose job it was to point out words that sounded grossly anachronistic for the tone and style of the novel. After perusing the changes, I sort of set upon a kind of lose time frame for my writing—anything that originated prior to the seventeenth century most likely stayed in the manuscript. Anything that was first used after 1600 tended to sound rather modern, but then again, not always. It was definitely a one word at a time approach, and sometimes, I had to leave the word in because there really wasn’t a good alternative.

Here’s some exciting ways to use our new D words:

I draggled behind. (The word can also mean to go slowly, trailing).

The onslaught was relentless; the horse’s pace mired to a crawl. I slid down, landed squelching in the muck, and pulled on the reins, urging the beast to press onward. We needed to find shelter. My cloak draggling behind soon weighed as much as a small cow, so drenched was it in mud and slime that the horse began to grow impatient with me.

“You draggle-tailed bicche!”

Yes, I think I’ll have fun with this.

In gratitude,

Marissa 🙂 xo

Ain't Nothin' Captious About That

 

 

Cavilling

Cavil: cavilled, cavilling

To quibble, trick; To raise captious and frivolous objections; To find fault without good reason; To oppose by finding trivial faults.

Captious: captiously, captiousness

Apt to ensnare or perplex especially in arguments; Apt to notice and make much of unimportant faults or defects.

Reading the one, led to making sure I completely understood the other … so today’s post has two C words: cavil and captious.

I like these words because I can envision them fitting in nicely somewhere in a narrative of one of my novels or short stories. E.g., I wanted to smack him for his captious rejoinder. Or perhaps … I was tired of him cavilling every point I made. 🙂

Years ago, I delegated the district school board on relocation and boundary issues. Our community was a new one, and overpopulation at our local schools was rampant. The planning department was using outdated models of 1.5 children per household to determine the size and location of new schools. While that may seem like a reasonable number, in this particular community, with basement apartments and multiple family members residing in the same dwelling, that number was grossly under representative of the actual picture.

It was a challenging fight. I had local newspapers following the story closely, even the big city publications had their eye on the dilemma. I arranged for buses to bring parents to the meeting. I handed out flyers, knocked door-to-door collecting signatures for a petition. I spoke to everyone I could whose children were affected by these rigid, old-school practices. I went to the city. I obtained maps, and statistical data representing both past and projected future enrollment. I poured through figures. I worked out solutions. I polished my speech.

When the day came for my audience with the school board, I had four busloads of parents and their children in tow, not to mention the families that drove to the board head office to support us, including families from out of our immediate school zone. People scattered throughout the school board’s territory came in droves to lend their support. We were all fighting the same battle! We weren’t the only school whose children had been displaced and shuffled. My son attended four different schools and was subjected to four different boundary changes in five years of his elementary school life … and we NEVER moved! We lived at the same address, but the schoolboard wasn’t prepared for the influx of children and had nowhere to put them. Each change broke friendships and undermined any semblance of continuity in our children’s lives.

Back to the big day. There I am, in front of the trustees and superintendents with the support of hundreds of parents, the press in solidarity at our backs, even the school administration supported our efforts. I gave them no quarter. There was no loop hole in my arguments. There were suggestions and alternatives. I gave my all. The crowd of parents roared to their feet at the end of the presentation … and what did those elected representatives and educational leaders have to say? A captious, frivolous cavil of a response. They said, “Well, we’ve always done it this way.”

To say it was a staggering blow, is well, an understatement. The papers called it a travesty, where elected officials didn’t even bother to rise to the concerns of their constituents. The school board conceded on only one point. They changed some of their wording in their policy documents, so residents, when they looked hard enough, could read between the lines and come to the conclusion that by moving into this area, there was an understanding that their children were going to be relocated and moved about, consistently and constantly. At least this way they were being transparent.

In the end, our family stuck it out another two years in that district then moved away all together.

If someone has an objection to something I say or believe in, I’m a pretty easy going person. If they can base their opinions on balanced, reasonable, or well thought out responses, I will listen and respect their point of view, they might even sway my opinion. But, if they are going to cavil based on an outdated, ignorant view of history, or a familiar way of doing things, so as not to rock the boat, or just because they say so, well, then we have some work to do.

Check out this little nugget of wisdom:

Kalama Sutta: To the Kalamas

“Now, Kalamas, don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them.”

What do I take away from that passage? We are meant to think for ourselves, not to take things at face value just because someone has said it, thought it, or written it, but rather contemplate the true meaning, the true resonance/essence of the words, thoughts, or opinions. Then, if we look deep within ourselves and see that when they are put into action they will lead to happiness and wellbeing, well, then you know you have something. And there’s nothing captious about that! 😀

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

Bole – Day 2 of My Alzheimer's Prevention Plan

Bole - The stem or trunk of a tree.
Bole – The stem or trunk of a tree.

Bole – the stem or trunk of a tree, or something cylindrical resembling a tree’s trunk, like a pillar or roll.

The first usage of this word according to the OED was around 1314—e.g., ‘His neck is thicker than a bole.’ ‘The gnarled boles of pollard oaks and beeches.’

When writing historical fiction it’s always a battle between authenticity and reader’s enjoyment. Avelynn is set in the year 869: a time when Old English reigned supreme—a form of our language that is unrecognizable today. If I wanted to make my book truly authentic, I’d be waist deep in obscure and obsolete words and usage that no modern reader could comprehend! The compromise then is to use today’s language to set the tone, without sounding too modern that the passages ring of anachronism—phrases or words that just sound grossly out of place, like saying ‘wowzers,’ or ‘that’s cool,’ in ninth century dialogue.

Bole is a nice word. It has nice, deep linguistic roots, but it’s not too obscure or odd sounding that I wouldn’t be able to slip it into the narrative without too much trouble. It’s also part of my APP – My Alzheimer’s Prevention Plan. Earlier, I opened my Webster’s dictionary to A and found algid. Today, I peeked onto the pages of the letter B and happened upon bole. I’m committing the words to memory to help grow my hippocampus. This tidy little word will come in handy. Be sure to look for it in one of the Avelynn novels … I’m sure I’ll find the perfect place for it. 😀

In keeping with the three ‘Rs’ of writing and learning, as outlined by my children’s elementary school teachers: retell, relate, reflect … I’ve retold what bole is, I’ve related the word to my writing, now I’m going to reflect on something that makes it personal to me. This, all in an effort to make these words stick in my lagging short-term memory reserves and hopefully help grow my brain and ward off the damaging effects of Alzheimer’s, which as of 2015 has affected 47.5 million people worldwide.

Here then is an amusing anecdote for your reading pleasure:

When I was young, my grandparents owned a few acres of property.

My grandparent's farm

They didn’t have a ‘farm,’ per se, but my grandfather turned one of those acres into a large vegetable garden, which supplied a good portion of his culinary needs, as well as those of his friends and family who were lucky enough to get some of his surplus harvest. My grandparents also had several varieties of apple and pear trees, which garnered lots of delicious fruit for pies and tarts and just plain eating! I loved going to my grandparents. In fact, I was there most weekends of my youth.

Picture little blonde me, running around in pigtails, playing in the dirt, barefoot.

Little blonde me

Now, envision those apple trees. They were old, gnarled, and beautiful. Not like the squat and compact hybrids and cultivars of today, these thick boled giants were strong and sturdy, like protective, gentle matrons. Which leads me to my favourite past time—climbing the apple trees.

Solid and wide, the branches were twice my width and easily supported my tiny frame. I climbed them all. Admittedly, some were more challenging than others, but I didn’t give up, persevering until I could shimmy up each and every rough-barked bole and rest safely in the curve of a forked bough. I was a tomboy, in case you couldn’t tell. 😀 But of all the trees on the farm, there was one I held dear to my heart. Its boughs held me, supported me, cradled me, but it also provided a fantastic opportunity for make believe.

Tucked away safely in the nook between two hefty branches, my feet dangling on either side of the trunk, I would don my construction hat and become a foreman, the tree my excavator. The little shoots that emerged from knots and crannies in the bark were my levers and gears.

I would pull and push, lifting the great shovel up and down, while a tug or jerk on a separate shoot swung the gaping mouth from side to side. The amusing part of all this was, it was never a dig site, I was there to demolish stuff! I would raise the big arm, crash the claws down into the roof of an imaginary building and watch it chomp and tear away at the structure, swing after swing, blow after blow, until finally the building would collapse in a great puff of dust and smoke. It was a beautiful sight!

But alas, all good things must come to an end, and the horn blast would echo five o’clock throughout the construction site. I would congratulate the workers on a job well done, put my big rig into park, remove the keys, set my helmet on the seat, and climb down. It was then a quick scamper into the old farm house and a sprightly jump up on to the bathroom counter. With my toes wiggling in the warm sink water, my grandmother would scrub the dirt away until the brown water trickling down the drain turned clear. After all, every barefoot construction worker must wash their hands and feet for dinner. 😀

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

Too Much Information

I’ve been tagged a lot lately, but I haven’t been able to keep up with them all, but today, I’m playing along. The lovely Margaret Madigan and Charlotte Gruber double tag teamed me … so without further ado, a little too much information about me, you never wanted to know, lol. 😀

-Toilet Paper – over or under: Definitely over. I think my husband puts it under just to drive me crazy, lol.

Keyboard home row or not: I’ve been a home row user since high school and try and make sure my kids do the same. They didn’t particularly enjoy learning to type, even with SpongeBob helping out in his typing tutor, but once they got it, and the teachers started dishing out essays and ISUs they were mighty happy they could type (and therefore finish) faster than their friends who use the hunt and peck method.

-Left or Right handed: Right.

Chicken wings boneless or bone-in: I prefer bone-in and slathered in honey garlic sauce.

-Wash body or hair first: Hair first. It takes me 3/4 of the shower just to shampoo and condition my hair—3/4 of that time is spent just trying to rinse the stuff out!

-Oreos: I like Oreos, but given the choice, I’m a Fudgee-O girl.

-Travel to the past or the future: I’d love to travel to the past. I’d love to visit ninth century England, Wales, France, Rome, Russia, Byzantium. Each of those locations play a role in my Avelynn series, and I’d love see them firsthand—to walk the streets, see the way the citizens dressed, see how they lived, how they interacted, smell the freshness of clean, unpolluted air and the reek of clustered village life. Of course, I’d have to make sure I could return. Unlike Claire in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, I’m far too partial to the luxuries of modern living—most importantly central air conditioning in the summer and toasty furnaces in winter!

-Paperback or ebook: I love them both. I enjoy reading on my Kindle, especially when I’m feeling the need for immediate gratification and can’t wait for the mail to deliver a copy, or the time it will take for me to get up off the couch and drive to the store. But I also love reading paper copies. I need paperbacks or hardcovers for research—I can’t stand trying to look at maps and tables on a Kindle. But I will also buy a hardcover book, just to have a copy of it for my library. I have A LOT of bookshelves in my house!

-Cookies or ice cream: Definitely cookies. Cookies, cakes, pies, and tarts all come before ice cream … unless it’s delivered in the form of a milkshake. Chocolate milkshakes are my Achilles’ heel.

-Coffee or tea: I used to drink coffee, but my sensitive body can no longer tolerate the caffeine, so I’m a tea drinker now. But I don’t like plain black teas, I prefer Chai, or lemon green tea, or for nighttime, caffeine-free berry and herbal teas.

-Makeup: Always. Even to answer the front door.

-Sneakers or high heels: Sneakers or boots—depending on whether I’m rocking casual or playful.

-Favorite kiss, tongue or no tongue: Hmmm, depends on the kisser. 😀

-Cash or Credit: Debit cards rule my life, much to my husband’s chagrin. I tend to lose track quite easily of how much I’ve spent that day, week, month … heck, you can’t take it with you, right?!

-Paper or Plastic: What an odd question. Um. All I can think of is grocery bags. Paper bags can be recycled; plastic bags just end up in the landfill, so in that instance, I’d say paper, but I prefer reusable bags … when I remember to put them in the car.

-Baseball or football: I like playing baseball, even though I’m terrified of the ball and hide in right field. I hate watching it on T.V., though … soooo boring. I do enjoy watching football and love the Super Bowl. But I’m Canadian, so really hockey is more rightly my thing.

-Morning or Night: So all about the night!

-Introvert or Extrovert: Extrovert. I love my friends and getting out and meeting people!

-Wrapping paper or Gift bags: Wrapping paper.

-Country or City: For convenience and social opportunities, I like the city. For rest and relaxation, I prefer the country.

-Fly or Drive: Not a fan of flying. I’ll drive as far as the land will let me.

-Tap or Bottled: Bottled.

-Flowers or Chocolate: I like them both. Flowers to look at and brighten my mood. Chocolate to savour and brighten my mood. 🙂

-Pencil or Pen: Pen.

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

My Alzheimer's Prevention Plan

Algid: chill, cold, freezing, frozen, frigid

Algidity. Algidness.

Today starts a new enterprise, a journey to increase the size of my hippocampi.

A recent Prevention Magazine  article: How to Beat Alzheimer’s at Its Own Game by Mike Zimmerman, spoke to the ways one can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Among good advice like eating well, exercising, and getting a good night’s sleep, it suggested memorization might help us grow our brain—specifically the hippocampus, which is in charge of short-term memory (among other things).

There are two hippocampi that make up the structure called the hippocampus, and each section is roughly the size of your thumb. Unfortunately, with age, this little structure shrinks over time. The number they quoted in the article was 0.5% a year—every year starting around fifty years of age! That is a staggering decline. The article then went on to reveal that it doesn’t have to be a one-way, slippery slope into dementia, we can actually grow our hippocampi, make up the deficit, and gain back years of mental focus and clarity. We do this by challenging our wilting and lagging memory function. In other words, if you want bigger biceps, you have to lift weight heavy enough to force the muscle to rebuild and repair. If you want a bigger hippocampus, you need to challenge your short-term memory regularly in order to build new brain cells, make new connections, and establish new neural pathways.

This, I’ve decided, is where my good friend Webster comes in.

untitled

I’ve had this wonderful dictionary forever. It’s my go to, for obscure words, or when I swear a word exists, but I can’t find it in my lighter, much more portable, pocket version. I recommend everyone get their hands on a real, thick tome of a dictionary. There’s so much to learn in these beauties!

So, back to Alzheimer’s and Webster. Every day, I will be looking up a word in the dictionary and committing it to memory. I will use the three ‘Rs’ of reading to help me make connections. These rules of learning so rigorously delivered by all three of my children’s English teachers in elementary school are: retell, reflect, and relate. I’m hoping with this approach, the elusive new word will actually stick to my shrinking recall and help me flex my atrophying memory muscles.

I just finished reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova for my book club, and the entire time I was reading it, I was left wondering, am I going to get Alzheimer’s? My grandmother suffered terribly from the disease, and unlike Lisa Genova’s more uplifting authorial vision of the infliction for Alice, my grandmother lived in a very scary place. Wherever or whenever her memory took her, it was full of fear and suffering. She would often cry out and scream for the safety of her children, or for her husband. It was terrifying, and I was just watching it. She was living it, day in and day out.

My father-in-law is currently in the grips of his own battle with the illness. He too suffered from the negative effects of Alzheimer’s, with the disease bringing out episodes of violence and aggression, until it became dangerous for my mother-in-law to care for him.

It is a frightening disease, and for those of us passing from our twenties to thirties to forties and beyond, and for any one of us with children, or jobs, or multiple responsibilities, a lack of sleep, or stress, we may find our short-term memory sinking to dangerously tapped-out levels. When we read a book like Still Alice, we begin to seriously freak out that this could be happening to us. Right now. Even if we’re not aware of, or are we? That book messed with my head. But I wasn’t the only one. Several other moms in my book club also feared for the wellbeing of their intermittent memory recall. The book raised the spectre of fear, which dug its little hooks into my brain, but I’m determined to shake them free.

So … algid. Let’s see how I’m doing with the three ‘Rs’. I’ve retold the findings represented in Prevention Magazine, and I’ve reflected on my own reasons for starting this journey, including my grandmother, and the book Still Alice. Now, it’s time for me to relate the word to something so I can keep algid alive and well and fill up some good hippocampi space.

I have very low iron. In fact, I live with chronic iron deficiency every day of my life. It’s exhausting. I’m not anemic, but don’t bother telling my body that. I have algid hands and feet, and I’m stuck in a state of perpetual algidness. In the algid air of a winter’s morn, I’m bundled in twenty layers, and I’m still shivering. As I look out my window upon the algid landscape, fresh green grass and spring daffodils lay buried under a layer of ice and snow. I pine for warmer weather and the return of summer’s heat and glorious sunshine. Oh, if I could only break free from this algidity!

A fireplace and a dog. Perfect :)

Until then, Razz and I will huddle in front of the fireplace and wait, ever so impatiently for the algid temperatures to final rise and stay above zero!

 

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

 

Margaret Madigan's Hero for Hire

If you missed the cover reveal party for AVELYNN, don’t despair, I’m going to be posting all the wonderful author interviews here for your reading pleasure!

Margaret Madigan

Sitting down with Margaret Madigan

Let’s extend a warm welcome to our next wonderful guest author, Margaret Madigan!

Margaret lives in the vast Northern Plains where it’s quiet and mostly empty, and conducive to letting her imagination run wild. She writes romance and science fiction, and dabbles in other genres just for the fun of it.

When she’s not writing you’ll find her in a college classroom teaching English, or working as a literary agent for an amazing agency…and of course enjoying time with her family.

Margaret Madigan Hi all!

Dawna Hi Margaret.

Margaret Madigan Wow. It suddenly got really quiet in here. Tough crowd.

Marissa Campbell We were just giving you the whole stage.

Marissa Campbell Twirl.

Dawna Lovejoy I’m here!!!

Marissa Campbell Here’s a little about Margaret’s book:

Hero for Hire

Hero for Hire

Tales From Beyond the End, #1

One day her prince would come…disguised as a zombie-killer. Having been disgraced and tossed out by her own scientific community, Gwyn is convinced she can develop a cure for a SuperVirus that has turned the Infected into zombies.

By pure luck and determination, she has survived on her own for years, but while out scavenging, a clash with the local zombies leaves her potentially infected. Now, running out of time, she needs help and takes a chance on a hero for hire.

Rafe loves the apocalypse. Since the world went to hell, everything’s come up roses for him. Having procured a mansion in the Hollywood hills, adopted a slew of homeless boys and one cantankerous but useful Doc, Mr. Charming is benefiting from the nasty zombie infestation. His job? Killing the bastards, which he considers fun anyway.

Gwyn Snow needs Rafe Charming to help retrieve her research from the Paragon Pharmaceuticals lab, also known as Zombie Central. Believing she can yet save the world, Gwyn makes Rafe question what’s right and what’s worth the fight.

Marissa Campbell I love the concept of this book! Zombies, fairytales … what inspired this?

Julie Mulhern Hey, Margaret. Still worried I might come after you while you’re mowing your lawn?

Dawna Hmmmm… This seems interesting.

Nicki Welcome. I think my kids would enjoy your books!!

Julie Mulhern It might be even more interesting if I could type without typos, Dawna…

Julie Mulhern Of course, Margaret’s book is VERY interesting – zombies and all!

Dawna Lol, Julie, my autocorrect wins more times than I do. And please call me Dawna. Your autocorrect will fight you on that. Haha!!!!

Margaret Madigan Sorry. Interrupted by family!

Marissa Campbell Pesky children. 😉

Margaret Madigan Actually, the story is co-authored with Merissa McCain, and it was inspired by a call for submissions we saw at Entangled for a fairy tale retelling.

Marissa Campbell There are lots of ways to retell a fairy tale … why zombies?

Margaret Madigan Why not? lol. Like you said, there are a lot of fairy tale retellings. It’s tough to take a story everyone knows and give it your own twist. We thought it would be fun to put Snow White in the zombie apocalypse and see what happened.

Dawna I have to read this!

Margaret Madigan Nicki – it’s not a kid’s book! It’s a romance. With sex and stuff.

Dawna I have to read it even more!!!! Lol

Julie Mulhern Sex and stuff. *snort*

Marissa Campbell Really good sex and stuff.

Margaret Madigan Hero for Hire is my only currently published book, but I’m also working on a western romance series that’ll be published through Entangled. The first book releases in June. There’s sex and stuff in that one, too, lol.

Marissa Campbell What drew you to the western romance series?

Margaret Madigan Honestly, I have no idea. It sounded fun. And there’s a lot of potential, so I thought…why not?

Marissa Campbell Your westerns are set in the past, how much research did you have to do?

Dawna I love westerns.

Margaret Madigan A lot. I feel like I have a PhD in western trivia. I had to research Nevada terrain, Virginia City, the Civil War, trains, poker, gold mining, gold values, clothing, homes, horses, stage coaches, weather. Seriously…everything.

Dawna Do you look forward to the research? Do you go places like museums or the actual locations to check them out?

Margaret Madigan I just finished the first draft of book two which required even more research (Wyoming, winters, Native tribes, medicine, Omaha, The Hole in the Wall, train robbery…)

Robin Just checking in to say ‘hi,’ after enjoying the beautiful sunny day with my dog.

Margaret Madigan I like the research, but I do it as I write rather than all ahead of time, so sometimes it slows down the storytelling. And unfortunately, I live in the middle of nowhere so I can’t afford to go to the locations (though I have been to some of those places in the past, just not doing research). I’d love to be able to do that, though!

Marissa Campbell Tell us about your heroines and heroes. What traits do you admire? What intrigues you about your characters?

Margaret Madigan Well, like Wren, I tend to write strong heroines. I’m not fond of women who need saving. If she has to be saved, I want it to be because she’s tried herself and acknowledges she needs the help. I also like when a hero is man enough to be saved by his heroine.

Dawna Oooo I love that!

Margaret Madigan In Hero for Hire, Merissa McCain wrote Gwyn, the heroine. Gwyn is a scientist who is smart, but racked with guilt. She needs the hero, Rafe, to help her. But she doesn’t like it. Rafe is a smart-ass who’s come into his own in the apocalypse. I wrote him. He was loads of fun.

Dawna She’s a scientist too!!! Doood!!!!

Marissa Campbell When you see the movie of your books in your head … who’s been cast for the key roles?

Margaret Madigan In Gambling on the Outlaw, Isaac is a broken man, accused of crimes he didn’t commit and on the run from the law. All he wants is to kill the people who set him up, even if he dies trying. Then he meets Beth, who makes him think there might be a reason to live. Beth is an ex-gambler who’s smart and tough with a taste for bad boys. When she meets Isaac she swears not to get involved…until she does, lol.

Dawna I’m making my notes here. Wow!

Margaret Madigan I love that question, Marissa. I was just writing a blog post about it, actually. On my Pinterest page, all these characters are anonymous or models who aren’t necessarily famous. For book two of the western series, I cast David Gandy as the hero and Kate Beckinsale as the heroine. I’d have to think some to come up with fitting actors for the other books…

Margaret Madigan I didn’t used to cast celebs because then when I looked at the pictures I didn’t see my characters, I only saw the celeb or other roles they’ve played, so I looked for models I didn’t know. But sometimes a celeb fits the character perfectly.

Marissa Campbell Since each of your books have such wonderfully romantic elements, I’ll ask the same question I did of Wren Michaels … If your sweetheart wanted to sweep you off your feet, what would he need to do?

Margaret Madigan Ironically, I’m not the most romantic person in the world. If he cleaned the house, cooked dinner, sat down, and watched a movie or TV show with me, ALL WITHOUT COMPLAINING, I’d be happy.

Marissa Campbell lol

Marissa Campbell This or That … Wine or beer? Tall or dark or handsome? Roses or Lilies? Diamonds or Emeralds?

Rachael Stapleton I feel ya on that. With two kids and a house to clean, the most romantic thing my hubby can do is let me write.

Marissa Campbell Or nap.

A.b. Funkhauser We watch TV together.

Rachael Stapleton Since you also moonlight as a literary agent, do you find that helps or hurts you as author? I know lit agents have the reputation of being quite busy.

Margaret Madigan I don’t drink alcohol, so neither wine nor beer, lol. Tall, dark, AND handsome (why should I have to choose when I want them all???), of those two flowers I’d pick roses only because I like the scent, but I do like tiger lilies. And definitely emeralds over diamonds.

A.b. Funkhauser I’m still stuck on Zombies, sex, and stuff….

A.b. Funkhauser Diamonds? Emeralds? I like REAL ESTATE.

A.b. Funkhauser I hope those dayam zombies gargle before, you know, the sex…

Margaret Madigan Rachael, it’s tough because I always try to put my clients before myself. If I’m working on editing a client project, I try to do that before I write on my own. But often, when everyone’s out on submission and I don’t have any new projects going, it’s kind of quiet, so I have plenty of time. It’s a difficult balance sometimes, but lots of agents manage it.

A.b. Funkhauser You have to be very organized, I guess…

Marissa Campbell Looking for Margaret’s zombies, sex and stuff? You can check out her books here:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Margaret Madigan The zombies aren’t having sex, they’re mostly just atmosphere. Part of the setting and plot. Hero for Hire is available on Amazon, B&N, and anywhere fine books are sold. Merissa McCain and I are (slowly) working on book two, which is a retelling of Robin Hood, set in the same zombie apocalypse, just in Chicago instead of L.A.

Margaret Madigan A.b. – I’m a master of time management.

Marissa Campbell Last minute to comment …

A.b. Funkhauser I’m so glad the zombies aren’t having sex…

Margaret Madigan Yes. That would be gross.

A.b. Funkhauser Nice to meet you, Margaret Madigan

Heather M O’Connor I’m still stuck on Snow White in the zombie apocalypse!

Marissa Campbell Thank you so much for being here, Margaret Madigan!

Margaret Madigan Thank you! It’s nice to meet all of you, too. Thanks for attending Marissa’s party. At the end of this shindig, we need to pepper her with all the same questions about her book.

Marissa Campbell Drum Roll …. For a ebook of Hero for Hire

Marissa Campbell DAWNA You’re on a winning streak!  Congratulations!

Dawna Sweet!!!!!! Thank you!!!!!!

A.b. Funkhauser Woo hoo, Dawna.

Margaret Madigan Yay, Dawna!

Marissa Campbell Don’t forget to like Margaret’s pages, add her books on Goodreads … you know, send her some author love!

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