Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Alter-ego lives!

My sci-fi writing alter ego, PJ Kurtz, has a web site.  Now, I’m only half of the alter-ego equation.  I share it with a cousin who works in the aerospace industry and has more experience with the nuts-and-bolts (literally) of space flight than I do.  Thus, when we put our heads together, fun stuff happens.

Our first Sci-Fi Romance is scheduled for release this Saturday, 24 January (apparently, although it will go up on Friday, it could take 12 hours to show, so I’ll play it safe).  I’m excited–and more than a little anxious.  The title, The Sword & The Starship, tells you the foundation upon which we built our collaboration, but that’s not the end.  It’s the first of The Earth Colony Chronicles.  I guess you can say our little writing excercise snowballed, but we had so much fun, we’re building snowmen.  Book 2 is in the works, and Book 3 already on the drawing board.

That said, my historical, The Seer, should also be seeing the light of day very soon–if I can finally hit the right note for the ending.  Being part of a series, the final chords are so important, but Anora and Marcus insist on doing things their own way. Negotiations are in progress.

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The 2015 Winter Writing Festival is Open!

As usual, I’ve just copied and pasted from the Ruby-Slippered Sister site.  If you need a boost, a push, or just some commiseration on your writing journey, put the Dark Ages of Winter to work for you.  Join us for writing sprints, encouragement, and SWAG!

Opening Ceremonies: Ruby Winter Writing Festival 2015!!

Oh, how we adore saying these words:

roaring-fire_657x600We now declare the Fifth Annual Winter Writing Festival OPEN!
Let the Games begin!!

To get your BONUS point for today, Monday January 12,  add a comment on theregular Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog( in which you:

1) define how *you personally* will earn your Festival “points”


2) declare your commitment to earning 50 points by March 2, 2015. (Further details on goal-setting follow below).

Leaving a comment today on the regular Ruby blog also puts you in the running for some cool prizes–the first round of our fabled Festival Swag, which includes lots of gift cards, awesome Ruby books, and the ever popular WRITING CRITIQUES, which we’ll continue giving out in random drawings every Monday from now until the end of the Festival on Monday, March 2!!)



To get the most from the Winter Writing Festival, leave your comment today, then jump over to our special Festival site,, and officially register. Click on the “Member” snowflake near the upper right of that page, then click on “Register for the site.” When you log back in throughout the Festival, you can add points to your progress bar and see how far you’ve come. (Should there be any technical problems, don’t worry! Just leave your comment here–we’ll consider you part of the Festival no matter what!)

(FYI: Throughout the Festival, you can quickly jump over to the Winter Writing Festival site by clicking on the blue Participant badge in the upper right of the regular Ruby Home page.)


The very BEST thing about the site is the CHAT ROOM, which we use for writing sprints. Those of you who’ve participated in the Festival before can testify that writing sprints are pretty darned miraculous at helping writers be super-turbo-powered productive–even if your busy life normally makes it hard for you to get much written.

You just click on the Chat Room link in the box near the upper left of the site (right under “Sprint Schedule), and you’ll jump to a screen where you can type in the name or nickname you want to use during the chat. Hit enter, and you’ll find yourself in a virtual space with other writers also eager to get work done. A Sprint Hostess will be there to greet you and show you the ropes. Sprint Czaress Kim Law has some great instructions here.

Typically, we chat (via typing) for a few minutes between sprints, then write like crazy for 20 minutes (or 45 minutes at some sessions), then come back and chat some more. Just knowing other people are writing while you are–and waiting to hear your new word count when you chat again–will keep you in your seat and cranking out those words. You can get inspiration, great advice, and (in half the chats I’ve been in) just laugh yourself silly. DON’T BE SHY!!!! It’s fun and easy…and practically magic!

Writing sprints start TODAY and happen daily. Jump in anytime!!! And if we don’t have a sprint scheduled at a time that works for you, feel free to find a buddy and come in on your own. Here’s the schedule so far (all times are EST):

Monday mornings with Heather McCollum (9:30 – 11:00 AM)

Monday evenings with Darynda Jones (7:00 – 9:00 PM)

Tuesday mornings with Liz Talley (8:30 -10:30 AM)

Tuesday and Thursday afternoons with Laurie Kellogg (2:00 – 4:00 PM)

Tuesday and Thursday nights with Addison Fox ( 10:00 PM – midnight)

Wednesday mornings with Liz Talley (8:30 – 10:00 AM)

Friday mornings with Heather McCollum (9:30 – 11:00 AM)

Saturdays with Elisa Beatty (11:00 AM – 2:00 PM)

Sunday afternoons with Tamara Hogan (2:00 – 4:00 PM)


To help keep you inspired between writing sprints, grab yourself a Participant badge (right-click on the one below and then click on “save image as”) to upload to your personal website.

rss_winterfestival-participant-badge 2015

You can also check in daily at the Brag Blog (scroll down towards the bottom of the site), where you can report on how your writing day has gone, and celebrate whenever you earn a point! You’ll also find inspirational daily quotes and links to Ruby posts on craft to pull you through when you’re feeling a little stuck.


Also, check out the fantabulous Winter Writing Festival swag you have a chance to win during Monday Check-Ins if you meet your goals each week. (You can also purchase some cool Winter Writing Festival swag yourself–including coffee mugs, tees, sweats, and totes with the Festival logo–at our Cafe Press store.)

The Swag you can win today just for leaving a comment on the regular Ruby site includes (print books available USA only):

1)  Writing Critique of first 25 pages by Hope Ramsay

2)  $25 Amazon gift card (from June Love)

3)  copy of MUTINY OF THE HEART by Jennifer Bray-Weber + $10 Amazon gift card

4) THE SWEETEST SEPTEMBER and SWEET TALKING MAN by Liz Talley(digital or print, print US only)

5) Print copies of first two books in Dragonfly Chronicles (PROPHECY and MAGICK) – by Heather McCollum

6) CAUGHT IN THE ACT by Kim Law (digital or print, print US only)

7) Autographed copy of THE COUNTERFEIT LADY by Kate Parker (US only)

8) HOW TO FIND A MAN IN FIVE DATES by Tina Beckett (digital or print,print US only)

What’s not to love? (Our thanks to mega-talented Ruby Sister Liz Bemis for designing both sites!!)

If for any reason you have technical problems registering today: don’t panic!! Just leave us a message here in the comment trail, and get started earning points for the Festival.  We’ll make sure you get registered ASAP.

Be sure to visit the Chat Room: you don’t want to miss out on those sprints!!



Everybody gets one BONUS point TODAY for coming to the Ruby blog and leaving a comment that makes a public declaration of your commitment to take part in the Festival and a public announcement of your goals. Then, for each of the 50 days of the Festival (including today), you work to earn an additional point—and you define what it takes to earn that point.

Here are some examples of the sorts of things you might define as worth one point (you fill in the variables with the amounts that work for you):

-writing X number of words or pages
-deep revising Y number of pages
-polishing Z number of pages
-freewriting / brainstorming for Q number of minutes/hours
-doing R number of 20-minute writing sprints
-keeping butt in chair and hands on keyboard for S number of minutes or hours

For instance, one person might commit to earning points according to the following terms:

-writing 500 words per day OR
-deep revising for one hour per day OR
-doing a final polish on 25 pages per day

Any day that person meets ANY of those goals, she gets a point.

YOU set the goals that meet your personal writing style and writing needs. (For more advice on how to set up your goals, see here).

If you can’t meet your goal on any particular day, you can certainly double or triple or quadruple your goal on another day to catch up. And if you know ahead of time that you can never work on certain days (say, Saturdays) feel free to add something like “keep balance in my life by taking Saturday off” to your personal list of ‘ways to earn a point.’ Really. You can earn a point by taking a planned day off!! Don’t be shy.

And if setting your goals by the week works better for you than setting them by the day, go for it!!!

Remember, we all have different life commitments and different approaches to our writing lives, so we all need to set our own goals. All goals are equally worthy. This isn’t a competition, it’s a supportive process for MOVING FORWARD WITH OUR WRITING.

We want the Festival to work for YOU!

Check in at the Ruby blog every Monday during the Festival to report your progress (and be entered in random drawings for more Festival Swag.)

If you reach March 2 with a nice round 50 points (or more), YOU WIN!!

Spread the word to all your writer friends–all genres are welcome!!!

Good luck all, and GET WRITING!!

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