Tag Archives: margie lawson

Free Me Author Ann Brown

Moonday Mania

today featuring a debut author

Today I’m on a panel of shifter experts on Brinda Berry’s blog. Click HERE to check it out and enter to win prizes!

Ann Brown is a fellow Passion in Print author who I met at my local RWA chapter, Colorado Romance Writers. Ann has an award winning story with an unusually dark beginning that gave me chills. Makes me wonder what is under that sunny-side-up exterior that shines from Ann. Free Me is the first in a three book series about sisters who face the odds and come up winners.  Please welcome, debut historical author, Ann Brown to Jessica Aspen Writes. 

Free Me is an historical romance novel about Isabelle McAllister, the oldest sister in a trilogy of novels about the McAllister sisters.

free me by ann brown Isabelle McAllister is incarcerated for murdering her father, and later transferred to an insane asylum. Robert Easterman is accused of thievery by his lover, and temporarily contained at an institution for the criminally insane. The two convicts escape, race through the countryside, and sequester themselves in a secret glade. Isabelle and Rob assuage angst in each other’s arms. Twists of fate, deception, and family tragedy divide the lovers, but ultimately nothing deters the devotion of one man for an escaped murderess, and nothing deters the love of one small woman for the man who would dare to rescue her.

This novel is about fortitude in the face of adversity. Isabelle is as down as a person can be, without support, alone, imprisoned for a crime she did not commit, and must find the strength to believe in herself, to vindicate herself. She must let go of the belief that she is unlovable, and embrace the love Rob offers, embrace the strength through devotion this man in her life is willing to give to her and her alone. And she does.

In writing Free Me I employed craft skills I learned through Margie Lawsons learning packets on Deep Editing, Empowering Characters’ Emotions, and Writing Body Language Like a Psychologist. Class information helped me write fresher similes and metaphors, improved my dialogue tags, and empowered the delivery of my scenes through enriched non-verbal communication and body language nuances. I absolutely loved empowering characters’ emotions since I have a history of writing poetry, and poetry delivers rich, powerful, concise emotionally evocative pieces. I also learned more about stimulus-response couplets, and the need to keep them close together. A stimulus occurs. Visceral response. Body language/action. Dialogue. So natural. It makes so much sense. I’m not sure why I didn’t get it before, why I continue to make mistakes in this arena.

Free Me, a historical romance novel by Ann Brown, can be purchased in its print version through

Amazon or Barns & Noble. If you prefer e-books, you can find Free Me on Passion In Print’s website, Amazon, B&N, Allromanceebooks, Kobo, Bookstrand, and Fictionwise.




romance author ann brownAnn Brown lives in Colorado with her husband, a musician, her two children, and their two crazy dogs Buster and Tehya. When not writing, Ann works as a small animal veterinarian in Broomfield, Colorado. Ann is a member of Romance Writers of America and Colorado Romance Writers. You can learn more about Ann at www.annbrownauthor.com.


Filed under guest post, Moonday mania, writing craft

Have Egg on Your Baby’s Face? Get a Critique Partner!

Moonday Mania

a blog on writing

Free Stock Image - Adorable Baby GirlI’m back in the classroom again. Since last year all I’ve taken are marketing classes so I can learn to promote Little Red Riding Wolf in the most effective manner I can. But I’ve been avoiding craft classes. Why? Because I was digesting 2010’s immersion in Margie Lawson‘s techniques that culminated in heading up the mountain to her Deep Immersion Class. And boy did I need to digest.

But I’m ready for more, so I’m signed up for Margie’s new class, Fab 30. In this class not only does Margie add to her phenomenal previous classes with great lectures, she also critiques thirty pages of your WIP. And there’s more.

One of the side benefits is that you get to work with other Margie Grads. It’s a little daunting to post your pages for all and sundry to check out and critique, but it’s a fantastic experience. Each person picks up on different things. Some people pick up on story flow and some on the balance of dialogue versus action. I’m enjoying putting my work out there and getting comments. Well, most of the time.

I’m one of those people for whom long distance critiquing works well for. I get time to digest and yell at my computer before sending back a modified response. Well, after all, it is my baby! And no one likes to have their baby criticized.But as an author, I have to say, I think critique is necessary. Not only do others catch things like repeater words or repeated sentences. They also catch the nuances that you thought were understood. In other words, reader confusion.

As authors we don’t have reader confusion. We know what’s in our heads, and we think we’ve done a good job explaining our thoughts to the reader, but that’s not always so. An unbiased reader will catch all those issues. For a published author you hope your editor catches all those speed bumps, but for a pre-published author you don’t want an editor to even see them. You want to send out as polished a manuscript as possible. And lets’ face it, even published authors these days don’t want to scare off an editor with speed bumps.

Do I love reading corrections to my manuscript, no, but I do appreciate them. Every question mark, every comment, every ‘Uh-oh, I really didn’t get this!’ is helpful. Even if it isn’t what I want to hear, it’s what I need to hear. That’s why I’m back in class, loving every minute of it, even when it’s painful.

Bring it on!

Do you use a critique partner? What about a beta reader? How do you get feedback so you feel confident that you can send your baby out into the world without egg on it’s face?


Filed under Moonday mania, writing craft

Competent Competence

Sensational Saturdays

a blog for whatever crosses my teeny tiny mind


   [kom-pi-tuhns]  noun

1. The quality of being competent;  adequacy; possession of required skill, knowledge, qualification, or capacity. (source Dictionary.com)

How do you know when you’ve hit competence? Is it when you receive a certificate?

To whomever it may concern, Jessica Aspen has reached competency in this subject. Signed, the Dean of the Official School of Competency

The other night, while walking around the track with my husband, I had a moment of clarity. Perhaps epiphany is a better word. Or shall we use the “Ah-ha moment”? Either way it happened. I was walking around the track after my stint on the elliptical and I realized I felt good. Not just, oh thank God I’m off of that thing good, but a true down deep feeling of satisfaction. And competence. I actually felt good at what I was doing. Just walking at a good pace, around the track. I’d had a very good session on the elliptical, pushed myself a little, and now I was ready to take on the weights. And it felt exceptionally good. Usually I feel like I’m finished and I could skip the weights. I don’t. I just slog through and get to the “Ah” moment of the hot tub. Then I am simply exhausted. But on Thursday night I was empowered. And this is coming through in my writing. Actually my editing. Currently I’m plotting and editing and not truly writing. Editing does take a certain amount of writing, and in this case I  did add on several pages to my story, but it’s mostly a state of fiddling. Anyway, I had a great day Thursday and I realized, walking around the track, that I have reached competence. Margie Lawson at the Lawson Writer’s Academy teaches about the stages of mastering a skill.

  1. Unconscious Incompetence:  The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. The individual must recognize their own incompetence and the value of the new skill before moving on to the next stage.

  1. Conscious Incompetence:  Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit.

  1. Conscious Competence:  The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.

  1. Unconscious Competence:  The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become ‘second nature’ and can be performed easily.

I’ve been stuck at concious competence, and while I can’t say that I’ve reached the fifth step, actual mastery, I am at the stage where writing and self-editing have become comfortable. I don’t think too hard about what I’m doing as I go through the process of self-editing my pages. And it hit me Thursday night. I am competent! A year ago I wouldn’t have said that, even if I thought I’d reached this stage. I think part of reaching this level of competence is knowing you have the right to say it. The confidence to admit to competence. It’s not a false claim. I’m not claiming mastery or perfection. And my editor at Passion in Print Presswill tell you that I’m still struggling with the serial comma. But competence does not mean perfection. It doesn’t mean mastery. It means an adequate possession of a skill. And I’m there. And it feels good. No, it feels great!

The Superstars from Woo Hoo U

Do I have a long way to go? Yes, but I finally feel ready to move on to the next level of Margie’s classes. Many of my class mates from Woo Hoo U have taken Margie’s advanced classes, and I have felt unready. I have felt like I needed to just practice, practice, practice. But I think, no I know, that I’m ready. Competence feels great! I highly recommend it. Tell me, have you every reached this stage of mastering a skill? Have you ever had that “Ah-ha” moment of clarity that you can do this. How did you feel when it happened? Leave me a comment and don’t forget that you can get another entry every time you leave a comment in my Little Red Riding Wolf contest. Enter or register your comments HERE at the rafflecopter plugin on Paranormal Freebies. And you can get another entry by commenting today at Paranormal Muse, so come on by!


Filed under channeling success, Sensational Saturday's, Writer's Journey

Bijou from the CRW retreat, Margie Lawson

Sensational Saturdays

where I blog whatever I want

I’m thrilled to see so many new commenters on Jessica Aspen Writes! I love communicating with everyone. Those who know me know I am pretty talkative, so thanks for jumping in and feeding my conversational need. Once again this was confirmed at the CRW writers retreat I attended in September where we were lucky enough to have the talented Margie Lawson helping us figure out our personalities and our self defeating behaviors. Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in today’s contest!

Are you riding the horse, or is the horse riding you?

Self-knowledge is one of the things Margie Lawson teaches in her Defeating Self Defeating Behavior courses and she was only able to cover a teeny tiny portion during the retreat, but I could still spot the wheels turning in everyone’s brains as they looked a little deeper into themselves and their various reasons for not getting the job done.

Are you like me? Very social and liable to be caught up in too much tweeting or blogging and never having enough time to finish your project? Or are you caught up in repeating the self defeating, it’s never going to happen so why bother. Whichever you are you have a problem. Either the work doesn’t get finished or it doesn’t get sent out. Whichever one is your problem, or if it’s something altogether different, Margie has it covered in her course. Margie is the woman with the solution.

If you’ve ever taken a Margie course, you know she fills it with tons of wonderful information. At the retreat we only had enough time to take a quick peek at our personalities and what might be holding us back as well as make lists of doable goals for the retreats. I discovered I’m pretty balanced on three out of four of the personality styles in the survey she had us take. This means that my talent for organization and my ability to socialize are just as strong as my positive enthusiastic side. What I’m lacking is the self-confidence and forceful pieces that might push me to say, submit my work?

Once again, Margie is the woman with the solution!

Her terrific system of goals have helped me tremendously since I started her Defeating Self Defeating Behaviors course. Making two lists, winner and superstar, keeps me on task and keeps me from beating myself up when I don’t get everything done. It also lets me reward myself with something fun, say Tweeting, when I have to do those tasks that are not so fun, say sending another letter after the first query asking “what happened to my query?” Rewarding my efforts that are difficult has helped me to achieve the things that are hard for me. Thanks Margie!

If you haven’t take a course from Margie Lawson I highly encourage you to do so. Her online courses have a tremendous amount of information and she has several for each stage of writing. We only had a taste of Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors at the retreat, but I know (from my personal experience with Margie’s courses) that you will discover things about yourself that you never knew. And address those issues that hold you back. Even if you feel that you’re on track, you can still find a wealth of information to get you organized and over any issues you might have.

You can find Margie’s courses like Defeating Self Defeating Behaviors, and many more, at her brand new online school, Margie Lawson Academy!

What kind of self defeating behaviors do you struggle with? Have you ever taken Margie’s course? What strategies work for you?

Leave a comment and enter to win today’s Halloween Treat book, Kate Moore’s To Save the Devil. All entries go into the final drawing for the three grand prizes! Thursday’s winner is Sharon Clare! Send me your address through my contact box and I’ll be mailing prizes out next week! Congratulations Sharon!


Filed under Sensational Saturday's, Uncategorized, writing craft


bijoux, the little jewels I’ve reaped from the retreat

Moonday Madness

a writer oriented blog

Wine, writing and song, (okay, nobody sang, thank God) that’s what writing retreats are made of. As many of you know I attended my very first Colorado Romance Writers September Writing Retreat last weekend. As to why I didn’t write about it last week, well I was still processing.

Our estimable retreat organizers packed the weekend with workshops, hilarious games and time to write. In fact there was so much going on I was never bored and wished we could keep going for another few days. It seems like September is the month for writer’s retreats as my friends Sharon Clare and Sherry Isaac at Romance and Beyond as well as Elaine Cougler were also at their own lakefront retreat and I’ve read of others who were retreating as well.

Why do we have retreats? One of the things I learned was that everyone goes to CRW’s retreats for different purposes. Some went to connect. To make new friends, see old ones and to get that piece of the business that writers are frequently shorted on, face to face conversation. Some went to write. To have time in a beautiful mountain setting where there were no kids, no job, no pesky husbands vying for their attention. Some went not knowing what they were going for, but all went home satisfied.

Why did I go? I wasn’t sure at first. This was my first retreat and I didn’t know really what to expect. I packed my laptop and WIP, hoping to finish those stubborn last pages. I packed two bottles of wine, hoping to spend time with friends. And I packed my Ipod, just in case I wanted to shut out the noise and really work. And I did all that and more. I did do some work (I should underline the word some) on my WIP, I socialized and played games. But I also attended all three of the quality workshops.

Workshops presented by the fabulous Margie Lawson on Defeating Self Defeating Behaviors, Ann S. Brady on handling the grief of rejection, and Liz Pelletier of Entangled Publishing on what editors are looking for in today’s tough market. All three were so fantastic that I decided they each need their own blog. So look forward to future Moonday Madness posts detailing each one. I can’t take you on the retreat with me, but I am sure going to try!

How do you refresh your inkwell? Have you attended a retreat lately or is it still on your bucket list?


Filed under Moonday mania, Writer's Journey