Sunday, May 31, 2015

Typical...Ouch...Rejection as seen by Jamie Hill


According to Wikipedia (so it must be true) : The word "rejection" was first used in 1415. The original meaning was "to throw" or "to throw back". Makes sense to me.

Every author has a tale about that first rejection. I've told my story numerous times...an outrageous, 120K manuscript and 27 rejection letters...I barely knew what I was doing back then. That book didn't get published until I knocked it down to a tight 60K.

Instead of rehashing that tale, today I'm going to talk about reviews. Obviously the word rejection shouldn't go hand in hand with the word 'reviews', but occasionally, ouch. In my defense, I've received many more good and decent reviews than negative ones. But those first few bad and so-so comments stuck with me.

There was the man (I'm picturing a middle-aged, paunchy man) who didn't care for my first romantic suspense novel and said it read like a romance novel intended for women. Huh? Excuse me? He was obviously not my target audience.

Some reviewers haven't liked my sex scenes, thought the supposedly sexy dialogue was cheesy, and didn't think I'd rounded out my characters enough. These are all points other people/reviewers have loved about my writing, which goes to show taste is subjective. An early reviewer rated my story in an anthology very low, suggesting it smacked of incest because my ghost was acting promiscuous in front of her ghost father.

Oops. My ghost bad. Okay, that one's not available anymore.

A while back I opened my email to another review. I'll share the last line with you.

It is short, which made it easier to get through and fans of the author’s writing may enjoy this story, as it’s typical of the writing and plot of her offerings.

Typical. Ouch.

One of my critics said, "That's just not the type of book I like to read." (I hate to break it to you, Mom, but that's the kind of book I like to write.)

Fortunately, there are people (and reviewers) who like my work and seem to get what I'm trying to do.

Some of my favorites include:

The talented Jamie Hill creates a story of romance and suspense that is both sensual and realistic. 

A short story that will have readers seeing the light that is Jamie Hill.
 
Jamie Hill is at the top of her game with her new release and I look forward to reading more from her in the future!  



Bottom line for me...rejection sucks. It stings, but I try not to sweat the small stuff and take joy where I can find it. The 'light that is Jamie Hill' line brings a smile to my face every time.


Find all my titles here: http://www.jamiehill.biz/ or at my publisher's website, Books We Love: http://bookswelove.net/authors/hill-jamie/ and if you've enjoyed something I've written, please leave a review on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0044DJ9TM

Go ahead, make my day. 


Saturday, May 30, 2015

SUNDAY SNIPPETS #sundaysnips

Offering from Time Invested - A World War II Romance:


The car surged forward, snapping her head back against the seat. The sporty vehicle roared unusually loud as they passed through the quiet residential area and moved out onto the main highway. Meagan inched closer to Ryan, her feet propped on the hump in the middle of the
floorboard. The engine’s vibration tickled the soles of her feet, even through her shoes. Her hair skittered in the breeze.

His calloused hand, resting on her knee, pushed the hem of her skirt a bit higher. Warmth spread along her thigh when he gave a gentle squeeze.

Her nerves tingled with apprehension, knowing she couldn’t turn back now. She shied away from the oncoming headlights and lookedat him. “Are we really going to Pinnacle?”

“No, I have a better idea.” He turned off the highway onto a narrow dirt road.

The area was foreign to her, but she focused on the darkness ahead. She trusted Ryan. “Is
there really something out here?” The rough ride added a tremor to her voice.
The rolling dust that followed them caught up and hung heavy in the air. Meagan covered
her nose. “Maybe you should put the top up.”

Ryan gunned the engine. “I can outrun any gritty cloud.”

A refreshing blast of coolness cleared the air as the roadster scaled a steep incline with
ease. He patted her leg and again a volley of shivers raced through her body. “We’re almost
there.”

The words were barely spoken when the bumpy road smoothed and moonlight glistened
on a silvery lake. The silhouette of a tall tree stood as a sentinel next to the water. The car slowed
then stopped beneath the billowing branches. Ryan leaned against the door and smiled. “So, what do you think?”

Bullfrogs croaked in the distance, and the reedy smell from the shoreline drifted in the
air. She clasped her palms beneath her chin. “Oh, it’s lovely. I never would have guessed it was
here. How did you find it?”

“O’Connor told me about it.” Ryan opened the door and reached for her hand. “C’mon.
Help me get the stuff out of the trunk.”

“Stuff?” She slid out and followed him.

He opened the deck lid, withdrew a blanket and handed it to her. “I packed a picnic for
us.”

“You did? How sweet.” She smiled. No man had ever gone through so much effort to
win her. “That couldn’t have been easy, living in a barracks. Where did you get the food?”

He flashed a cocky look and her heart flip-flopped. “I happen to know someone in the
mess hall, but don’t expect anything snazzy.” He withdrew a knap sack. “Sorry about the
container. I didn’t have a basket.”

“Oh, Ryan, it’s the thought that counts.” She leaned in and kissed his cheek. “This is so
neat. I think you’re…you’re the cat’s pajamas.”

He pulled her close for a quick peck on the lips, but she wanted much more of a kiss. She
didn’t act on her desire, and when he moved away to spread the blanket on the ground, the crisp
night air seemed colder. He placed the knap sack atop the military-issued wool and went back to
the Ford, opened the door and turned on the ignition. With a flick of a knob, music filled the air.
“Ah, ambiance. Shall we be seated?” He made a sweeping gesture.

Soft strains of the Mills Brothers drifted from the car. Meagan stared in at the contraption
on the dashboard. “I’ve never seen such a thing.”

“O’Connor comes from a rich family and can afford all these new gadgets. This is
something called a Motorola. Quite costly, I imagine.”

She remained standing and embraced herself, gazing at the moon. “I do so love music.
Don’t you?” She waltzed in a circle to the dreamy melody of Paper Doll.

“It’s the coolest.” He stood behind her, wrapped his arms around her waist and warmed
her neck with his breath. “Almost as cool as you,” he whispered.

He held her until the song ended, then crossed his ankles and dropped onto the blanket,
Indian style. “I hope you don’t mind fruit punch in place of wine. It’s the best I could do… oh,
and Dixie cups.”

She widened her eyes at his change of demeanor, but settled beside him, running her
fingers up and down his arm. “Wine, juice, milk…who cares? This is so romantic. Just look at
the moon reflecting on the lake.” What had come over her? And how could he be concerned
about their drinks?

Waxed paper crinkled as he pulled out a sandwich. “I’m glad you approve of the locale. I
took O’Connor’s word that this was something my girl would like.”

Her mouth gaped. “Your girl? Am I?” They shared a strong attraction, but he’d never
pinned her…even hinted at wanting to. The smell of bologna dampened the moment, and she
crinkled her nose at the bread he held.

He put the sandwich down and inched closer. “I’d like you to be my girl.” The
moonlight showed the sincerity in his eyes. “I wanted to ask you before now, but I didn’t have
the nerve. But, now I’m going off to war, I’d like to know I have someone waiting for me when I
come home.”

Time Invested is availabe on Amazon
via my page.

Now hop on over to my friends' blogs and see whaat they're sharing this week.


http://www.jamiehill.biz (Jamie Hill)
http://triciamg.blogspot.com (Tricia McGill)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

FRIDAY FREEBITS #frifeebits

I posted a page from The Locket on Wednesday, so I may as well give you another glimpse of this "whodunnit" with multiple suspects. This is the next scene:

Father Finnegan’s brow furrowed at the woman’s sudden departure.  “A curse?”

He stood and pushed through the curtain at the rear of the confessional, walked around and opened the door to the parishioner’s side.  There on the shelf lay the necklace the woman had left.  A heart-shaped gold locket hung from a long chain, and when opened, displayed a picture of a mustached gentleman wearing a black fedora.  Father Finnegan pinched the locket closed.  The pendant looked entirely harmless—nothing more than a delicate piece of jewelry. 

“What have you got there, Father?” 

He turned to find Sister Mary Catherine.  “A locket…supposedly cursed.”  He laughed. “Methinks ‘tis the soul of the person who left it who needs the blessing.”


“The jewelry looks to be a fine piece for the fund-raising bazaar, if you’ve no other plans for it.”  The nun smiled and opened her hand. 

Available on Amazon via my author's page.

Hop on over to Juliet Waldon's page and see what she's got going today:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Writing Anniversary by Jamie Hill

http://www.amazon.com/Family-Secrets-Cop-Book-ebook/dp/B004478IN6/
Ten years ago in June I signed my first contract to have a book published. Family Secrets wasn't the first book I wrote, but it was the first to get published, other than a couple of short stories. I had a wonderful editor (thank you, Susan) and I really loved the book. I'll never forget my first ever review-- 4 and 1/2 stars out of 5, and the reviewer said glowing things. I printed that puppy out and carried it around for days, reading it to anyone who would listen.

The book did okay, and garnered more lovely reviews. Sadly, the small press that published Family Secrets closed it's doors and my book was an orphan. It took several years before I found a new publisher and the next two I chose folded before I ever really got going. (The book had five different covers in it's short life, too!) I didn't give up, kept persevering, but just couldn't seem to find the right fit for the book and me. Harlequin liked my premise but said they could never have divorced heroes or heroines with kids for the lines I submitted to. (Really?)  By the time I got done trying to figure out their guidelines, my head was spinning. But it would have been nice to see my book in bookstores.

Actually, a nearby bookstore, Hastings, has a local author section, and they let me place some copies of Family Secrets there on consignment until they got too dusty a couple years later. I sold two, and one was to my best friend. LOL (An aside--Thanks to Books We Love, Family Secrets is now available by request at any bookstore, just for the asking. That's so cool.)

http://www.amazon.com/Family-Ties-Cop-Book-ebook/dp/B00457XJMK/
Family Secrets was always meant to be part of a series. I started book two, Family Ties, shortly after book one. But frankly, when I couldn't find a good home for the first book, I didn't have much motivation to complete the second one.

My publisher, Books We Love, came along at just right time in my life. Once Family Secrets was happily settled in, I got busy and finished Family Ties. In 2012 the Amazon revolution happened, and many of our Books We Love titles took off. I'm thrilled to say that Family Secrets was one of them. It hit #67 on the Top 100 Paid Kindle Books, which was great considering the thousands of books Kindle offers. 

What that did was motivate me to get off my duff and write that third book I'd always imagined. It actually came easier than I expected, and I was very, very pleased with the result. Family Honor made the sixth novel I'd published, three romantic suspense and three older titles that were straight romance. At that point I decided that romantic suspense is my true love. 

I've continued in that spirit with my latest romantic suspense series, Witness Security. I'm currently working on the third book in that one. I hope you'll check out my books and join me on my unfinished journey!



Family Honor

Bodies of dead women are piling up and Detective Melanie Curtis is doing everything she can to solve the 'Cheerleader Slasher' case. Surprised to discover her chief has requested help from the FBI, she's even more shocked when she meets the sexy FBI special agent sent to assist her.
 
SSA Nate Willis tracks serial killers for a living. The slasher case is a challenge, but nothing compared to the feisty police detective he finds leading the investigation. Their attraction is swift and mutual, but the killer is escalating and they need to solve the case before they can focus on their personal relationship. When the unthinkable happens and the investigation is turned upside down, is their chance for happiness also in jeopardy?

“Author Jamie Hill has a knack for pulling a reader deeper and deeper into her stories as they try to figure out where she is leading them.” ~ Tammy, Fallen Angel Reviews




A PAGE STRAIGHT FROM GINGER SIMPSON #apagestraightfrom

Today marks the end of this Wednesday feature.  I've been using it for quite a while, but it's time for me to actually blog.  Next week, I'll do just that.  In the meantime, enjoy the first page of The Locket.



Sheila Townsend hauled open the heavy cathedral door and slipped inside. She scurried up the long aisle into the safety of the confessional and collapsed. Panting, she creaked open the little sliding door. The priest’s outline loomed on the other side. 

"Father, forgive me, for I have sinned.” She swiped at her bangs, wet from the fog outside. 

“How long has it been since your last confession?” The priest’s voice filtered through the mesh between them.

“Six months, Father.”

 “Tell me of your sins, my child.”  

“I-I’ve had evil thoughts and fear I’ve done something horrid.”

“What have you done?”

“I might have killed someone because of the curse.”

“Curse?”  The deep voice rose an octave.

“The one that plagues this locket.”  She dangled a necklace close to the screen. “I must leave it here with you and stop this madness.”  

Sheila rose, dropped the pendant onto the shelf separating parishioner from priest, and fled without another word. She paused at the door long enough to secure her scarf over her head and pull her coat collar higher. The stained-glass window, an image of the Holy Mother, looked far less impressive at night than when the sun shone through the tinted panes.

 Sheila pressed her weight against the door, allowing the breeze to flicker the candles at the altar. The gripping hatred that had consumed her for the last month melted away like snow in springtime. Her need to hurt someone had only intensified when she put a picture in the locket.  But now she was free—free from everything but the guilt and memories of plunging the knife into her boyfriend’s back.  

Stepping back into the misty night, she headed toward the river.  She hadn’t actually been honest with the priest.  The police were sure to soon find the body in her living room, and she no longer had a will to live. She’d made peace with the Lord; now she needed to find peace with herself and what she’d done.

Available on Amazon on my page.  

Monday, May 25, 2015

Best Websites for Authors...According to Writer's Digest - Offered by Ginger

We are always looking for resources, so I thought I would share  some of the 101 Writer's Digest listed as their Seventeenth Annual listees:

Creativity
Creativity Portal - http://www.creativity-portal.com
Seventh Sanctum - http://www.seventhsantum.com

Best of the Best
Six Words - http://sixwordmemoirs.com
The Story Starter - http://www.thestorystarter.com
The Writer's Journey:  Roadmap with Author Laura Davis - http://www.lauradavis.net/roadmap

Writing Advice
Better Novel Project - http://www.betternovelproject
Daily Writing Tips - http://www.dailywriting.tips
Grammar Girl - http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl
Helping Writers Become Authors - http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com
Women Fiction Writers - http://www.womensfictionwriters.wordpress.com
Romance University - http://www.networkedblogs.com/blog/RomanceUniversity

Online Writing Communities
Critique Circle - http://www.critiquecircle.com
Romance Writers of America - http://www.rwa.org
Reddit's Writing Forum - http://www.reddit.com/r/writing
My Writer's Circle - http://www.mywriterscircle.com
Absolute Write - http://www.absolutewrite.com
Authonomy - http://www.authonomy.com

Thriller
International Thriller Writers - http://thrillerwriters.org
The Kill Zone - http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com
Murder by 4 - http://murderby4.blogspot.com

Children's/YA
Adventures in YA Publishing - http://childrenspublishing.blogspot.com
Kid Lit 411 - http://www.kidlit411.com
Rachelle Burks Resources for Children's Writers - http://resourcesforchildrenswriters.blogspot.com

These are just a sampling of the 101 listed.  I didn't have the energy to type them all, but I thought this would provide a great resource for those in search of help.  This information is taken from the May/June 2015 issue of Writer's Digest, and I believe I've tested all the links.  If you find one that doesn't work, you can always use Google.  :)









Sunday, May 24, 2015

Family Honor by Jamie Hill ~ A Steamy Memorial Day Excerpt


Happy Memorial Day to those in the United States. Today is the day we remember those who have served for us, and especially those who have fallen. 

I don't have any books with service related story lines, but I do have one with a character who did a stint in the Army, so I thought I'd share a scene from that book with you.

From Family Honor, book 3 in my A Cop in the Family series. (These stories are stand alone and don't have to be read in order.)

In this excerpt FBI Agent Nate Willis is out to lunch with Wichita Police Detective Melanie Curtis, and they're having trouble keeping their minds on food.

----------------------------



"Anyway, seeing as how my prospects for the weekend just took a turn for the better, I'm ready to get this show on the road. Shall we ask for our meals to go?" His grin turned devilish.

"We will not," she insisted. "We're going to sit here and eat like civilized folks. When we're through, I might even order dessert."

His foot nudged her leg and wrapped around it. "Okay, if that's what you want. I like dessert."

She worked one knee over the top of his leg and rubbed their legs together. "You're gonna like it."

Nate groaned. He found the waistband of her jeans and unfastened the snap.

Mel stared straight ahead. "You wouldn't dare!"

His fingers pried her zipper down as he glanced around the room. "Is that a challenge?"

"Stop that!" she whispered out of the side of her mouth.

"Nope, I've been double-dog dared. I can't stop now."

The waiter chose that moment to return with their plates, and the pair of them froze. He set the steaming dinners in front of them and asked, "Would you like extra cheese on those?"

"Yes, please." Nate smiled pleasantly, and feigned interest as the boy shredded fresh cheese on top of the veal.

"For you ma'am?"

Mel could barely speak. Nate's hand had made it inside her jeans and one finger was rimming the edge of her panties. "No thank you," she squeaked.

The waiter left, and she looked at Nate. "You are evil!"

"And you are gorgeous! All I can think about is making love to you. I can't wait to get you home so I can count the ways I'm going to cherish you." One finger dipped through her folds.

It was her turn to groan. "Can we ask for doggie bags now?"

"Nope." He grinned. "We're going to sit here and eat like civilized folks." He removed his hand and began to eat with a self-satisfied smirk on his face.

"What if I've changed my mind?" She couldn't face the huge plate of food in front of her. 
At that moment, the only thing she wanted to do—the only place she wanted to be—was in Nate's arms. 

---------------

Find Family Honor here: http://amzn.com/B00898JCXQ

and find all my books at my publisher's website, Books We Love: 



Saturday, May 23, 2015

Sunday Snippets with Ginger #sundaysnips

Naïve, country girl, Cynthia Freitas, moves to the big city with high hopes, but her starting salary barely makes rent in a run-down tenement. Newspaper headlines warn of a serial killer in the neighborhood, and the article grabs her attention when she recognizes the victims bear a striking resemblance to her. Alex Carlyle is assigned to assist detectives in one of the toughest cases he’s ever experienced as a cop. Despondent over a recent break-up with his fiancé, he buries himself in his work until he meets the cute new tenant next door who gives him something else to think about except kidnap and murder. The aftermath of their first “jolting” kiss places the burden on Cynthia to solve Alex’s case and keep him from potentially becoming the next victim. 

Previously published as Beside Myself 

In this excerpt, the hero meets the heroine"


Maybe today was the day he’d clean up the pigsty he lived in. Maybe not! He stretched and yawned, feeling the need to pee.

Alex rolled to the edge of the bed and sat for a moment, then swaggered into the bathroom to
relieve himself of the six pack he‘d polished off before bed. As he stood at the toilet, he stared through bleary eyes at his reflection in the medicine chest mirror. His dark shock of hair lay flat on one side while the other looked like a tornado had rumbled through. Rubbing the palm of his hand against his stubbly chin, he longed for the days when he didn't have to shave every morning.

"I guess being tall, dark and handsome has its drawbacks," he quipped, while slapping both his
cheeks. Too much alcohol always made waking up tough.

"Hmm!" He leaned in closer, recalling an old re-run of a favorite cop program. “Maybe I should
forego shaving and see if I can pull off that Miami Vice-Don Johnson look." He studied the image staring back at him. "Ah, maybe not ... then I'd have to get one of those white, linen outfits like he wears." Alex backed away and cocked his head.

How would that famous TV cop solve Alex’s current case? The hot water always took at least
five minutes to reach his apartment so Alex turned on the shower. While he waited, he sauntered back to the bed and pulled his covers back into place and straightened the pillows. Satisfied he’d done something to improve his housekeeping, he dropped his boxers on the floor, stepped out of them and went back into the bathroom where the water had finally turned warm. Taking a shower in The Cairns was more like walking in a light rain, but Alex stepped in the tub and quickly soaped and rinsed. The one thing he could always count on: the hot water never lasted very long.

He yanked the towel from the wall rack, sending the securing hardware flying in all directions.
Amidst the tinkling of scattering screws, the entire bar clattered to the floor. He shook his head and sighed. "Shit! What next?"

Terrycloth wrapped around his waist, Alex left the mess lying on the floor and went into the
bedroom. Should he fix the bar or call the super? Such important decisions made Alex laugh. He
decided to fix the bar later, right after he picked up all the bottle caps on the living room floor.
He donned his sweat suit and tennis shoes. Images of the missing women spun through his
mind, along with a faceless man who heaved a snide laugh at the police‘s inability to catch him.
Overcome with the need to escape his cramped quarters and sickening images, Alex decided a quick run around the nearby park sounded like just the ticket. Besides, a little exercise would counter-balance allvthose calories from his nightly beers, a habit he’d acquired since the breakup, and one he needed to discard.

He picked up his IPod and clipped it to his waistband. As he opened the door, the heaping
trashcan in the kitchen corner caught his attention. The contents overflowed the container and spewed onto the floor. He donned his headphones and cranked up the volume of his all time favorite song, Travis Tritt's, Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof.

Singing along and not caring that he wasn't in tune, he picked up empty beer bottles, potato chip
bags, and all the caps that missed their mark and stuffed them all inside the garbage sack. After tying the top, he hefted the bag over his shoulder and strode out into the hallway, keeping step with the musical beat.

While passing Apartment 2A, the door opened. The tenant backed into the hallway, two garbage
bags in tow. Not watching where she was going, she bumped right into him.

Obviously shocked by the sudden impact, she spun around. "Excuse me, I'm so sorry. I should..."

Her widened eyes traveled the length of his body.

 Her mouth gaped.

He towered over her petite, maybe five-foot-three frame.

She gazed up at him. "Uh ... I should have been watching where I was going."

Alex dropped the trash bag on the floor and removed his headphones. Unable to resist, he
returned her once over, but with a much slower scan. Blonde hair drawn back into a ponytail presented a youthful appearance, but her clingy, terrycloth outfit did a great job outlining assets that proved she wasn't a child. The way she licked her full bottom lip, maybe a nervous habit, made him want to savor a taste for himself.

Realizing he had missed most of what she said, he forced himself to stop ogling her and pay
attention. He'd heard her apology and needed to respond, but his mouth turned dry as dust. He cleared his throat and smiled. "No problem," he managed to croak.

Puberty and voice change passed through his mind, but that took place a long time ago. He
swallowed hard and pointed to her trash bags and then to his own. "Looks like we're both headed for the same place."

"Yep, it's Saturday, my cleaning day. Same routine every weekend." 

Her head tilted in a way that made her beautiful hazel eyes sparkle. His palms turned sweaty, and he wiped his right hand against his pant lengthen extended it.

"Name's Alex Carlyle. I live in Apartment 2E."

Her tiny hand disappeared inside his. "Hi, Alex. I'm Cynthia Freitas. Looks like we're neighbors.
How long have you lived here?"

Why did she make his knees weak? He adjusted his stance. "Going on two years already. Time

flies when you're having fun."

***************************

I got carried away and gave you more than a few snippets. This is one of my favorite stories, and you can't imagine how hard it was to write about two characters who really, really become entwined.

  Hop on over to the following sites and check out their weekly offerings:

Friday, May 22, 2015

OMG....MERCURY IS IN RETROGRADE!!!

blog.thespiritualcatalyst.com
After having a horrible day and hearing the statement "Mercury is in Retrograde," I kiddingly blamed all my problems on Mercury, not having a clue about the event. I decided to Google the term, and found this page, which I have blog-jacked here to alert you that you should beware until mid-June.  I've never been keen on Astrology, but I'm thinking I might have to do a little more research.


Mercury Retrograde and What it Means for You
You may have heard friends say, "Oh, no - Mercury is about to retrograde again!" If you don't know astrology, you may have wondered what they were talking about. Of all planetary aspects, this one seems to garner the most attention from readers, and it certainly generates the most mail.
The reason for their interest is clear - this phenomenon is one of the few that affects everyone in a fairly uniform way, and its effects are always obvious. Once you begin to pay attention to how events in your life change during these phases, you will soon see how important it is to take note of them.
Keeping track of Mercury retrograde periods can allow you to increase your productivity and avoid at least some of the frustration they can bring about. Let's look closely at Mercury retrograde and what it means to you.

The Periods When Mercury Will Retrograde from 2015 to 2020

2015
January 21 - February 11, 2015 in air Aquarius
May 18 - June 11, 2015 in air Gemini
September 17 - October 9, 2015 in air Libra
2016
January 5 - January 25, 2016 starts in Aquarius, ends in earth Capricorn
April 28 - May 22, 2016 in earth sign Taurus
August 30 - September 22, 2016 in earth sign Virgo
December 19 2016 - January 8, 2017 in earth Capricorn to late degree fire Sagittarius
2017
December 19, 2016 to January 8, 2017 earth Capricorn, ends in late fire Sagittarius
April 9 - May 3, 2017 earth sign Taurus, ends in late degree fire Aries
August 12 - September 5, 2017 fire sign Leo - early earth Virgo, ends in late degree fire Leo
December 3 - December 22, 2017 in fire Sagittarius
2018
March 22 - April 15, 2018 in fire sign Aries
July 26 - August 18, 2018 in fire sign Leo
November 16 - December 6, 2018 in fire Sagittarius, ends in late degree water Scorpio
2019
March 5 - 28, 2019 in water Pisces
July 7 - 31, 2019 starts in fire Leo, ends in water Cancer
October 31 - November 20, 2019 in water Scorpio
2020
February 18 - March 9, 2020 in water Pisces, ends in late air Aquarius
June 17 - July 12, 2020 in water Cancer
October 13 - November 3, 2020 in water Scorpio, ending in late air Libra

Does Mercury Really Move Backward?

Mercury doesn't actually move backward. If you do a bit of stargazing, you will see that Mercury appears to move backward, just as the ancient astrologers perceived thousands of years ago. After a while - in Mercury's case, a three-and-a-half-week period - the planet will reverse itself and move "forward" again.
Because Mercury is the planet situated closest to the Sun, its orbit is much shorter than Earth's. About three or four times a year, Mercury speeds past Earth, and that is when we experience a Mercury retrograde period. If you were in a car and another car passed you, you could tell it was going faster than you. But if it slowed down and you then passed it, it would appear that that car was actually going backward. Then when the other car speeds up and passes you again, it kicks up all of the dust in the road. As Mercury speeds by, it is like a train flying past, creating a powerful, turbulent gust of "wind" in its wake. The turbulence and disruption Mercury creates when it retrogrades can affect what we feel on Earth in our everyday lives.
In astrology, we always believe the following rule is true: "As above, so too below." By that we mean there is a fractal relationship between the orbits in the heavens and human activity down here on Earth. This idea pervades all of astrology and is a very good concept to keep in mind.

Areas of Life Mercury Rules

Mercury rules all types of communication, including listening, speaking, learning, reading, editing, researching, negotiating, selling, and buying. Mercury also rules all formal contracts and agreements, as well as important documents such as book manuscripts or term papers, agreements, deeds, contracts, leases, wills, and so forth.
Included under this planet's domain are all types of code, including computer codes, as well as transportation, shipping, and travel. When this planet retrogrades, these areas tend to get scrambled or spin out of control.
Why does this happen? When a planet retrogrades, astrologically it is in a resting or sleeping state. Therefore, while Mercury naps, the activities that it governs don't have the benefit of a well-functioning, wide-awake planet to supervise them. Expect a certain degree of pandemonium to ensue!

What You Should - and Should Not - Do During a Mercury Retrograde Phase

Don't make any important moves when Mercury is retrograde. Nothing will be settled successfully for the future during these periods anyway - you will find it nearly impossible to nail down a plan. During a retrograde period, it is hard to get decisions from others. Even if a decision is made, it will be subject to change, either just after Mercury turns to direct motion or much later.
Mercury retrograde periods would not be good times to do anything involving communications, such as launch a magazine, website, or an advertising or publicity campaign.
These phases are also considered poor times to launch any new endeavors, even if they are not related to the communications industries.
Similarly, a retrograde period is not a good time to sign any contracts or even to shake hands on any new agreements. Do not close on a house during this time nor sign a lease. Verbal agreements are considered the same as written ones. The environment will be quite fluid and changeable, no matter what you are told or what you think.
It's not that the people you are dealing with are necessarily duplicitous. It's just that nobody can fully predict what conditions will be like later. If you start a new job, it won't necessarily be the position you thought it was when you accepted it. If you are a manager, you will have difficulty choosing the right candidate for the job, so, if you can, hold off hiring anyone. If you buy a house, problems could crop up later that were completely unanticipated.

Do Not Have Plastic Surgery or Other Elective Surgery When Mercury, Venus, and Mars Are Retrograde

Of course, if you have an emergency, you must have surgery. At other times in life, we do have a choice about when to schedule an operation or procedure. In those cases, such as having plastic surgery, it is best to avoid Mercury retrograde periods. These are periods where mistakes are more prone to happen than at other times, or when judgment is off. Your surgeon is under the same conditions as you, so I would suggest waiting.
I would also strongly suggest that you avoid plastic surgery when Venus retrogrades, because Venus rules beauty, and the whole purpose of the surgery is to improve your looks.
Mars rules the whole area of surgery, so you would ideally want Mars to be in the best possible form, too. It is said not to have an operation on the part of the body that the sign Mars is moving through rules. For example, if Mars happens to be in Capricorn, it would not be the best time for a knee operation because Capricorn rules the knees. It is said that Mars will increase pain and swelling. A full moon at the time of the surgery will increase bleeding. We do the best we can.
Again, let me reiterate, if you have an emergency, don't worry about any of these rules - have your surgery. I had to have very serious surgery, triggered by a new moon solar eclipse, on the wrong part of the body (because Mars was in the sign ruling the part of the body that was being affected by the surgery). Admittedly, it was a tough surgery, but it was highly successful. If you need surgery, have it!

Mars Will Retrograde

April 17, 2016 to June 29, 2016 in fire-sign Sagittarius
June 26 to August 27, 2018 in air-sign Aquarius to late degrees of earth-sign Capricorn
September 9 to November 13, 2020 in fire-sign Aries

Venus Will Retrograde

July 25 to September 6, 2015 in earth Virgo to fire Leo
March 4 to April 15, 2017 in fire Aries to late degree water Pisces
October 5 to November 16, 2018 from water Scorpio to late degree air-sign Libra
May 13 to June 25, 2020 in air-sign Gemini

What Other Specific Things Should You Watch Out For?

Since Mercury rules the mail and the conveyance of information, be extra careful when sending important documents. If you send faxes, be sure to call the people at the other end to let them know your documents are waiting for them. Otherwise, they may never see it. If you work in an office and have to photocopy an important document, be sure to retrieve the original. Be equally careful about whom you send email to - you don't want to send a private email to the wrong person or have a sensitive email forwarded to others.
Your client may suddenly change direction on a project you have been working on and give you new instructions, which may require you to discard some of the work you did. Miscommunications abound, so during these periods keep summarizing what you think the other person has just told you. Go the extra mile - you will be glad you did!
Mercury retrograde periods are notorious for causing computers to crash and for machines, appliances, and other electronic devices to show signs of wear, requiring urgent repair. Backup your computer in advance of any Mercury retrograde period. If you had planned to install new software on your personal computer (or, if you work in IT, on your network), wait until the retrograde period is over to do so. Weird things happen during these periods. For example, you may suddenly discover that you were sold a defective hard drive, even though it may never have given you problems in the past, at least not until you created that vital document and your whole system went down.
Mercury also rules trade and commerce, so don't buy or sell anything expensive during its retrograde phases. Often you will find that the item you want is out of stock. If you do buy something expensive, such as a car, computer, or jewelry, for example, you may regret your purchase later. If you are buying or selling a house, expect problems, errors, delays, and setbacks to arise. The only times you can buy something expensive during a retrograde period are if you are returning something you already bought.
Computers, high tech items, appliances, automobiles, and other machines and electronics are highly susceptible to Mercury in a retrograde period. Mercury rules moving parts, so that can be one reason. Yet, other things happen. You buy an air conditioner and 30 days later discover it has gone on sale for much less than what you paid. Or you by an expensive smartphone during a retrograde only to drop it (and crack its screen) or lose it soon afterward. It really does pay to wait to buy electronics.
In years past, Mercury always seemed to retrograde during the holiday shopping season. For example, in 2011, Mercury was retrograde from "Black Friday" (where retailers go into the black because everyone loves to shop on the Friday after Thanksgiving, November 25) until the end of the day on December 13.
If you are driving any significant distance during a period where Mercury is retrograde, bring extra maps (or make sure your GPS is up to date), make sure you have enough gas, and verify that you have the correct address and clear driving instructions. If your car is making strange sounds, have it inspected before you leave; you don't want a problem to emerge when you are on the road. If you are flying, check with your airline to make sure your flight is going to take off on time. Have your luggage well marked so that it won't get lost or sent to the wrong airport, and bring your iPod and a good book to the airport, as there could be lots of delays.
Some people do not travel when Mercury is retrograde, and perhaps that might be wise if your trip is business-oriented. However, if you are returning to see a former client you've worked with in the past, traveling during the retrograde is fine. Sales people know that business is always most likely from former clients. If you are in sales, earmark all your former clients for special attention during these phases.
You can take a trip for pleasure during these periods. Actually, this could be a perfect time to go, for you get away from it all, and everyone back at the office will "feel" the retrograde - they will miss your quick problem-solving ability and advice while you are away! During a retrograde phase, you might want to travel to a place from your childhood that you loved but haven't seen in a long time. It could be lots of fun because going back to places you knew is favored.
Forgetfulness can be a problem during these phases. You are more likely to leave your airline ticket or passport on your desk rather than put it in your pocket; leave your cell phone, sunglasses, or gloves in the back seat of a cab; or lock yourself out of your car or house. I always advise that you tape your business card on the back of your computer or smartphone case, and slip your card into your case holding your eyeglasses in case one of these treasures is lost.
I also suggest that if you buy a gift card for someone, you photocopy the card's serial number so that if you or your recipient loses the card, you can get it replaced quickly by the retailer. (Of course, keep your receipt stapled to the photocopy. Some retailers can give you a gift receipt with the serial number on the receipt, so you don't have to go through the trouble of having the card photocopied. Even so, keep a copy in your records too, for your recipient may lose everything!) Tell your recipient that you are taking precautions, in case they do lose your gift and are too shy to tell you that they did! Often there is a comedy of errors surrounding Mercury retrograde!
While we are on the topic of photocopying important documents, photocopy your passport and give your family members a copy, too. If you ever should lose your passport, you will have a copy to show the passport office, and it will make things much easier for you! Do that today, while you are thinking of it!
Romance tends to go haywire, too, during Mercury retrograde periods. Couples tend to create miscommunications that in turn can cause a domino effect of errors. Try not to jump to conclusions, and keep striving for clarity. Your sweetheart or spouse could also have a sudden change of mind. For example, if your boyfriend or girlfriend says, "I want to break up," he or she could say later, "No, let's not! I didn't really mean it!" That's because people aren't always thinking straight during these phases. Mercury retrograde is notorious for creating confusion.
Keep in mind that Mercury retrogrades in three different signs of the zodiac during the year. If it retrogrades in your sign, delays and frustrations will become even more pronounced than usual. In this case, try to be even more vigilant and double-check proposals, ideas, creative efforts, and other plans to root out flaws or incorrect assumptions. Always go the extra mile to find errors during a retrograde. These periods demand a slow and deliberate approach.

A Handy Truth About Mercury Retrograde: Things Are In Flux, But You Don't Know They Are - Yet

When Mercury retrogrades, think of it as an instant signal that the wind is changing direction. Something is in flux up on the road ahead, but the problem is, everything looks the same and unchanging. What makes these periods so difficult is that you cannot see yet that they are about to change, often radically.
Let's say you take a new position while Mercury is retrograde. After you start, the company starts extreme cost-cutting procedures, and you suddenly discover you will lose some of the people who report to you. On top of that, your title changes - not in a way you like. In this typical example, you had no idea these procedures were being planned, and had you known, you would have never taken the job. Things like this happen all the time when Mercury is out of phase. Do not take a job when Mercury is retrograde, and don't start one during a retrograde, either.

A Key to the Solution to Any Mercury Retrograde Problem Lies in the Element Mercury is Found In: Fire, Earth, Air, or Water

Each year, Mercury will favor one element over another. In 2012, Mercury will retrograde in fire signs, so that tells us we need to apply completely new, visionary, and innovative solutions to the problem that comes up. Fire signs are highly creative and also brave and pioneering - don't be shy about suggesting a very unusual solution. Fire signs also think on a big, broad scale, so you should think that way when attacking the problem, too.
If Mercury retrogrades in an earth sign, be very practical about finding a solution, and strictly adhere to limits of time or budget. Money often plays a big part of both the problem and the answer when Mercury is retrograde. You would probably do best by not suggesting a blue-sky idea, which would have worked with Mercury in a fire sign.
If Mercury retrogrades in an air sign, lots of discussion will need to take place, as air signs are highly communicative. Talk to a lot of people and poll their responses. Do a great deal of research, too. Air signs are analytical and modern - you may hear of a solution that is so new, you may not even have known it was possible. Use the answer that seems best for you after going through this process, and make sure you are objective and not emotional in choosing your answer.
If Mercury retrogrades in a water sign, use your intuition. Research can be driven by the way questions are asked, so if your research says to go a certain way, but your intuition tells you to reject the research, follow your gut. Intellect can only get us so far; often our emotional intelligence is more accurate. If Mercury retrogrades in a water sign, it's an instant signal to start listening to that small voice within.

What If You Can't Put Off a Decision Until a Later Date?

What if you can't wait a few weeks? In that case, you may have to proceed anyway. Do so knowing that the conditions around the situation will probably change, so plan to be flexible. For example, if you are looking at a great apartment, you may have to sign the lease or risk losing it. However, before you do, ask lots of questions.
If you are buying a house, hire a top engineer to check it out, or get two engineers' opinions. Be ready for something to come up. Do all you can to extend the process: Say your lawyer is out of town or in court. Say you will be in Paris during that time!
My own daughter re-signed her lease during the retrograde (she's Aries, and as a typical Aries, Diana doesn't like to hear about rules). Four months later, the landlord sold the building, and Diana was forced to move immediately. A year later, my little Aries bought a computer during the retrograde. ("It's a Mac, what could possibly go wrong?") Nothing went wrong, except her judgment. She later said she regrets not getting the more expensive model with a much bigger screen. She finally sold her new Mac laptop to a friend, bought a Mac desktop with the big screen she needed, and is happy now.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Rule: "Don't Plan Big Actions During a Retrograde"? Yes!

Indeed, despite what I have just said, there are situations where you can move forward, gingerly, during Mercury retrograde. The main time you can is if you are going back to the past, either to correct something or do more with a person you know and admire.
If your editor gives you an assignment that was put on the back burner a year ago, and it has jumped to life again, proceed!
Here is another example: Let's say you are out of work and looking for a new job. Your old boss (whom you enjoyed working with on a previous job) invites you to join the company he is at now, as a member of the team. In this case, you will be going back to a former professional relationship that you actually started a long time ago, and this is simply an ongoing situation. In this case, you CAN take the job.
Readers ask, "Well, I started interviewing for a new job before the retrograde, but the offer for the new job was made after Mercury retrograde. Technically, I knew the interviewer for a few weeks before the retrograde, so can't I take the job?" Actually no. In this case, you have had no real history with this interviewer or company. Sorry, this does not apply. However, if you are desperate and badly need to find a job, take it, but realize it will not be a long-term solution. You may be out looking again soon, possibly because you don't like anything about that new job. That may be fine with you, for at least you will have income for a short time, which is better than no income at all. Also, it is said to be easier to find a new job after you have one, so in that sense, it may be helpful to take a short-term, stopgap job.
What if you gave a bid on a house you loved and wanted but that was rejected. Can you go back and put in a new bid on that same house during the retrograde, even months later (assuming the house is not yet sold)? Yes. In this case, you have a history with the house, the people who live there, and your broker. This would actually be a good time to "redo" your bid and send it in again. When it comes to exceptions, if you have a history with the person or situation, you can proceed carefully during the Mercury retrograde period.

What If You Were Born Under Mercury Retrograde?

It has been said by some astrologers that people who were born under Mercury retrograde are immune from much of the mayhem of this phase, but I do not agree that this is true. (I was born while Mercury was in retrograde, and I always find these periods quite difficult, perhaps because I work in Mercury-ruled publishing!)
You can find out if you were born under these phases by checking your natal horoscope wheel. The planet Mercury's symbol will have a small "R" under it on the horoscope wheel.
People born under this phase are said to have philosophical and reflective natures that help them think through complex concepts quite creatively. Never worry about having a baby during one of these retrograde periods - it is always a good time to have a child!

Mercury's Impending Shadow Period

As Mercury approaches its "switch point" (the day it actually turns retrograde), it will progress along a path that it will later retrace in the sky over the next few weeks. The two- or three-week period prior to Mercury retrograde is called the "impending shadow period." If you initiate anything important during that shadow period - that is, in the time before Mercury begins to retrograde - you still may encounter problems.
If you have a choice whether to sign papers or initiate an action prior to Mercury retrograde or just after it is finished retrograding, there is no question that I suggest you wait and act afterward. Try to secure a little breathing space (a few days or even better, two weeks) from the date Mercury goes direct, for safety. It doesn't pay to rush to do things before Mercury retrogrades. Waiting is always the wiser option.
Here is another vital point to keep in mind: Mercury is more powerful on the onset and finish dates of its retrograde. I call them the "bookend" dates of the retrograde, and static and dust seem to fill the air more noticeably than any other time.
The presidential election date of 2000 (when President Bush was declared the winner) was on a day when Mercury was due to turn direct. This is a good example of the problems that can occur just as the planet is turning forward or backward. In that case, it was weeks until the winner of the election was chosen.
This point deserves reiteration: Always allow two days, minimum, after Mercury moves ahead to normal direct speed before you start initiating projects or making big purchases. The more time you can allow after this planet goes direct, the better. If you can wait two weeks, all the better.

Is Mercury Retrograde All Bad? Not at All!

Although these Mercury retrograde periods can be frustrating, they are often useful too, for they allow us to reassess, revisit, readdress, redo, and redesign our plans. Sometimes we rush along in life without fully considering our basic assumptions or actions. Mercury retrograde allows us to stop, look, listen, and redirect our energies more productively. Mercury also helps us find closure to certain situations.
Reconnecting with old pals and relatives is very common during retrograde periods, and that can be one of the most positive and fun sides of this planet's retrograde orbit. If you hear from an old friend or colleague during Mercury retrograde, I feel there is a potent reason for it. It seems to me that there is something that the two of you are meant to do or plan together.
We can all benefit from taking a closer look at situations with greater depth, which happens when Mercury retrogrades. Mercury retrograde periods are like walking through glue, so they do tend to make us slow down, which at times can be a blessing.
Here are some examples of ways Mercury retrograde can help you:
  • Perhaps you have been working on a project that seems to have gone down the wrong path. When Mercury retrogrades, it could become evident that the project needs to be altered slightly or redirected. Even if you did not get your way originally, if you argue your case persuasively, things might go your way now.
  • You stall on accepting a job offer, and lo and behold, a better one comes your way in the meantime.
  • You refrain from buying a certain big-ticket item, and within a few weeks, the coveted item goes on sale and you will be glad you waited.
  • If a meeting is postponed or cancelled, you have more time to gather additional information that probably will come in quite handy.
  • If you are in sales, go back to old customers and clients. You may do better by asking for more business from people who have always trusted you than by trying to extend your reach into new sales territory. Former customers like being contacted, and under Mercury retrograde, you will have the time to do so.
  • Missing objects are likely to be found. That beautiful bracelet wasn't lost after all - it was on your bookshelf, behind your favorite book!

What Else Should You Do During Mercury Retrograde Periods?

It would be a great time to reorganize your files or closets. Pack up clothes you haven't worn in a while and give them to charity. Polish your shoes and decide which ones need repair, and while you are at it, decide which appliances need to be taken in for repair as well. Oddly, as busy as we are, during these phases we always seem to find more time to get things done. When you clean your closets, you will find treasures you thought you lost or had completely forgotten about, always a bonus of going through things you have not seen in a while.
Mercury rules anything that begins with "re": redo, reassess, repair, repeat, redesign, or revisit. It's always human nature to want to hear that new opportunities are coming our way, but we really do need to focus on the quality of our work and improve it to the best it can be. Often this is a better use of our time than continually chasing the newest idea. Mercury retrograde allows you to be thorough and to perfect your performance.
Don't assume everything goes wrong during Mercury retrograde - sometimes things work in your favor. If you are self-employed and turned down an assignment because the price the client was willing to pay was too low, this same client may come back after the retrograde (after he sees many others turning down his offer) - and you get the project after all, at the right price. People reconsider their stance when Mercury is retrograde, and in some cases, conditions turn out to be more favorable to you than they might have been before.
As you can see, Mercury retrograde is not all bad - you can count on it!

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