5 Tips for Writing Dialogue

Sometimes dialogue can be tough!  Below are a few quick tips to help you get over the hurdle!  1.  Listen up – Every person has a different way of speaking.  Our accents are influenced by our geographical locations and our … Continue reading

10 Editor Nightmares

I feel like an expert on some of these!  The truth is, every writer has stumbling blocks that require hours of editing and practice to get past.  I’ve listened to editors and publishers complain about many of these and here is a … Continue reading

Meet Stephanie Taylor Publisher and Owner of Astraea Press!

As you may or may not know my first book “The Keepers” was published by a press which was the brain child of Stephanie Taylor.  Astraea also published my short story “The Mulligan Man”, and will be publishing my second … Continue reading

Add my cover for The Keepers as your Profile Pic and Win!!!!

I was goofing on FB and tried to hypnotize everyone into adding my cover as their profile picture. What do you know?  It worked!! I’m leaving to go on vacation 6/16, so I’ll make this a quick contest with a great prize!  Here’s the deal.

1. Make sure I’m your friend on FB (not part of the contest, but it makes it easier).

2. Make the cover for The Keepers your profile picture until Friday July 15, 2011. 

3.  Send me a message or comment me that you did this. 

4.  I will do a random drawing Friday afternoon 6/15/11 for the winner.

Winner receives:  Drum Roll Please…………………………………………………………………

(If you are confused about how to do this go to my profile pics and click on the cover (or cropped cover) and click make this my profile picture.  If you already have one, win it as a gift for someone else 😀

A signed copy of The Keepers IN PRINT

Have Fun and Good Luck


Monique O’Connor James

Twitter:               mjames13
WordPress:         www.moniquejames.wordpress.com
Website:             www.moniqueoconnorjames.com


The main school of thought concerning Mardi Gras, is it started thousands of years ago, as a celebration of fertility.  Eventually, the Catholic church became involved, in an effort, to stop parishioners from partaking in pagan festivals.  The Church changed the … Continue reading

Novel Release Party 6/7/11 – “The Keepers”

You are invited to a Novel Release Party!!! For “The Keepers” by Monique O’Connor James Where:  Online When:  Tuesday, June 7, 2011 http://www.astraeapress.com http://www.moniqueoconnorjames.com “The Keepers” is finally making its debut on Tuesdays, June 7, 2011! The Ebook Edition will … Continue reading

The Joy…yes Joy of Critique

The first time, I got a critiqued, bit o’ novel back, I took one look at the red, and was sure my critique partner, had slit her wrists.  I think I cried for forty-five minutes, swore I could never make the “thing” readable, and ate a half pound chocolate bar.

Receiving critiques can often feel, like someone pulled your toenails out with a pair of pliers. However, to be on the receiving end, is a blessing.  I’ve learned things, from the people who’ve shared their time and energy, which I never would have learned otherwise.

I thought my biggest issue was commas, until someone pointed out how many areas needed action, in that first draft.  Showing, not telling…I’d heard that, a time or two. However, until a wonderful writer said, look…this spot right here…you can change it to this, and it will be showing. OH! (slaps head) I got it!

Kay Springsteen (Yes, the one, who churns out perfect novels, like a wild woman), has told me many times, the editor learns as much as the editee (Shut up, it’s a word).  I didn’t realize how true those words were, until I was entrusted with two beautiful pieces of literary wonder.

In sharing your time, you usually find, the very things you pick out, with ease, in another’s work, are the things you’ve ignored, in your own, over and over.  It takes, a good bit, of faith to allow someone to critique your work, but it takes more faith, (in yourself, and your abilities), to lend your advice on another’s work.

The ladies who’ve let me critique their work, are always very humble, thanking me over and over, but they fail to realize, how much I gain from the experience.

So, I just wanted to say, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read, edit, or love, my work, and thank you, thank you, to those who have allowed me, to read, edit, and love yours.

Happy Critiquing!

Monique O’Connor James

Author of “The Keepers” coming June 2011 from www.astraeapress.com


6 Sentence Sunday: From the Keepers – Justin

If he wasn’t dealing cards at Harrah’s, he sat on the couch in the French Quarter townhouse he shared with his three brothers, and loathed his circumstances.

Dealing cards at the casino kept his mind from lamenting on things over which he had no control. Cards distracted him from the examination of mankind. They held no surprises and fell in predictable patterns. The stability comforted him. The notion that something so simple calmed him was ridiculous, but the serenity he found behind the table was the reason he returned to the casino night after night.


When I first started writing I refused to do any pre-characterization. SURPRISE!  I still stay pretty true to my “pantser” reputation, however, I did something recently which was kind of fun, and helps you get to know your characters, what goes on in their lives, and how they react.

Here’s the deal:  24 hours in the life of                  .  As a test I initially did myself.  Here is what it looked like, enjoy.

6:00 AM – The alarm clock went off – I told myself it was Saturday and the kids were using the microwave.  It was not Saturday, it was Monday.  I cussed for, fifteen minutes, when I finally rolled out of bed at 6:20.

6:45 – walking out the door CJ says he needs lunch money, and by the way he has band practice and didn’t call Granddad to pick him up.  I cuss, for five minutes, while I write a check to Live Oak Middle. 

7:00:  In the car to drop kids at various locations.  Little bit declares she doesn’t want a biscuit and she needs 24 cupcakes for school.  I only cuss, for 3 minutes, as I’m already running late. Stop for biscuits anyway, drop CJ at school.

7:30 – run in grocery store slip on freshly mopped floor, and slide down the aisle towards the bakery.  I don’t cuss, as this has only hastened my progress, however, I do yell for little bit to get the lead out.

8:15 – I’ve dropped kids off and am officially 15 minutes late for work.  I sneak in the back door and trip on the carpet. Tamara screams good morning.  Thanks.

9:00 KJ calls to find out if I dropped my car off to get the transmission fixed.  Nope, sure didn’t.  Jump in the car head to dealership.

9:30 – Hitch a ride to Enterprise, spend 30 minutes waiting for a car, chuckle at the no-smoking sign and roll the window down.

10:00 – call my dad from my desk while binding coverage on account and inputting apps on another one.  Ask him to pick up older spawn at band practice.

10:45 – phone rings – CJ’s band teacher has called off band practice.  Cuss for ten minutes while I try to get Dad to answer the phone again.  Give up, text step mom, pray he gets the message.

11:00 unexpected customer drops in to discuss what he should do, IF he opens a business next year.  Tamara walks by several times giggling in the hall.  Cuss at her for 20 minutes under my breath after he leaves.

12:00 Beg Tamara to let me stay at my desk and read emails during lunch.  It only hurts a bit when she drags me out by my hair.

1:00 Little bit’s school calls to remind me about fundraiser money.  What fundraiser?

2:00 Boss demands I work on an account we will never write, while I do a proposal and giving any evil spirits who wander by the stank eye.

2:01 Boss demands something else, but I’ve blocked him out and I can only see his lips moving. He reminds me of a demonic character I wanted to create so I jot a note and shove it into my writing bag.

3:30 – I stand on the veranda having a smoke break (which I clocked out for) and my other boss talks to me about a list of fifteen things I need to get done before I leave.  I laugh hysterically so she thinks I’m crazy.

4:14 – 1 minute til I leave KJ calls, can I pick up supper? and Colton needs poster board and printer ink for a project due tomorrow.  SURE SURE I had my cape dry cleaned, its all good.

5:30 – several text messages from irate friends who have been ignored all day.  I sit in the parking lot at Walgreens and answer.

6:00 – in the bath tub, read, wash hair, cry.

7:00 – yell at kids for not being in the tub, do homework, choke down a half a sandwich.

8:00 – snuggle next to Keith until he starts snoring then smack him with a pillow and run.

9:00 check facebook, emails and blog.

10-2:00 – write, edit.

2:00-6:00 toss, turn, cry again 🙂

Hope you enjoyed, but as you can see my personality is clear, as any character’s would be!  Have fun!

Why NOLA? The Setting Quandary!

From the beginning, there was no question “The Keepers”, would be set in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the French Quarter.  A friend asked me why I’d chosen NOLA, in lieu of Baton Rouge.  (My next novel is set in Baton Rouge, no worries.).  My answer, at the time, was, “Are you kidding me?”

The fact is, I’m in love with my home state. I think most people like where they live, but I flaunt my love of Louisiana, the same way I tout my love of America.  The place I call home is steeped in heritage, culture, art, music, good food, good people, and stereotypes which make us laugh. God chiseled a boot at the bottom of the American pie; a land to love for those who would, and a place to mock for those who wouldn’t.

A dart thrown at a map of our decadent home would, no doubt, land on a magical place.  So, why New Orleans?

The story, like the French Quarter, centers around St. Louis Cathedral.  I challenge you to find a church as beautiful.

The church is infused history, but beyond that, when one enters you know you’re in a holy place.  Perhaps, being raised Catholic has skewed my opinion, but the spirit is alive and well, under the extensive artwork and intricate architecture of the Basilica. 

During a pivotal scene Jess and Justin are sitting, by the Riverwalk Fountain.  I could think of no better place to find out your boyfriend, is in fact, an angel.


The murals painted on the back of the benches depict the crest of each Spanish province. A few steps away you can feel the breeze blowing off the mighty Mississippi and watch riverboats and tugboats navigate the powerful current.

Jess wanders down Royal Street to pass time and later, Dawson’s apartment is described, as one of the many beautiful buildings with wrought-iron balconies where ferns hang under ceiling fans, all year.

Maybe, that’s Clyde’s brother, he looks a bit young to be the old mule, besides Asher isn’t about.

I could upload pictures for the rest of the afternoon, but the question will come back to why I chose the French Quarter, still.  For the price of gas, I can get in my car and drive an hour and twenty minutes, park in a crowded parking lot, and hop the street car or make the trek on foot, and be transported to another world, where all that matters is forgetting who you are, and remembering how to have fun.

Jess and Justin didn’t need to forget who they were, but, perhaps, discover themselves.  The answers they found were so magical, not another place on the planet, would do.  And so, to New Orleans, I tip my hat. 

She was knocked down, but a day in the Quarter and you will see, she has risen again.

Monique O’Connor James

Author of “The Keepers” coming in June from www.astraeapress.com.