Monday, May 5, 2014

My Writing Process

Happy Monday! 
I was tagged by the lovely Laura Rueckert in the "My Writing Process" Blog Tour. What this means. You're going to get the low down on how my writing comes together. I know your psyched, right???
 I personally love this idea, because I enjoy reading how everyone else goes about their creative process.  Laura's (see above) is pretty great and you can read all about her writing process HERE.

As for me...

What am I working on?

I am working on a novel (title currently up in the air) about a girl who is dying to get out of her old farm town and away from her parents corn field. There is something magical about this field, but she could care less. Until she finds a boy wandering through it speckled with blood and out of his mind. Weird things happen when it comes to the corn, so she writes it off with ease. But the mass murder they discover the next day in the same field can't so easily be forgotten....
Yeah, I know it's sucky as far as pitch-worthy, but lucky for me, I'm not trying to pitch it at the moment, I'm just trying to get it out of my head.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I wish I could give some fabulous answer here. That I write like no other, but the truth is, there are a kabillion writers in this world and many of them are fabulous! I can only hope that I can write the kind of book that I love to read...a page turner that leaves you guessing until the end. One thing I am finding with my books, is that I always like to have a touch of crazy in there some where. What's that say about me? Hmmm....

Why do I write what I do?

Writing for me is cathartic. When I sit down at a keyboard I imagine I'm like a pianist sitting down to compose. I love the feeling of putting my heart and soul into something whether it be through a new world and characters, or if I'm just writing a letter that my kids can read in the future. I love to write. Period. That's why I do it. If I add the fact that people may read it and actually be transported into a world that I find so captivating myself, that they too may actually enjoy it, well, it's the ultimate high!

How does my writing process work?

Oh the elusive writing process. For me, I have to be inspired by something in the beginning. Be it a picture, an old house I drive by, or a person that catches my eye when I people watch. Yes, I love to watch people. You can learn so much about a person that way. Is that stalkerish? Whoops.

After the inspiration, I build on that, create an idea, build on that, and so on and so forth until I have a pretty firm story in my head. Marinating like this takes some time and while I'm doing that, I begin researching things, places, people, fantastical options and routes I might want to take. 

Next, I begin plotting. I love Blake Snyder's Save the Cat for screenwriting, but they have also adapted his idea for the novel writer as well. Another great plotting book is Martha Alderson's Plot Whisperer. She has a You Tube series on this that is fantastic!

Once I have beat that sucker out, I write the first draft. There are so many red squiggly lines and comments throughout the first draft that I can't imagine how a person could think I am an actual writer if they were to read it. My goal with the first draft is to just get it out of my head. I can pretty it up later. 

The second draft is spend beefing up and dealing with my comments and the read squiggly lines from draft one. 

The third is a kind of read through with a lot of repeating what I do in the second draft. 

If I feel good enough at the third go round, I send it off to beta readers to hack through and I repeat the above steps until I feel it's ready to send to my agent. 

It isn't a pretty process, but it's mine and I love it!
These fabulous ladies are up next on the tour! Check out their Writing Process next Monday.

My Photo
 Emily R King
I love stories, eccentrics, gummy bears, and eccentric stories about gummy bears. I live on an island in the Pacific Northwest with my hubby and four minions.
Follow her blog HERE 
Follow her on Twitter HERE 
My PhotoStephanie Scott
Young Adult writer represented by Sarah LaPolla of Bradford Literary. I write contemporary YA and wrote a 1960s-set YA romance. Member of Windy City RWA and the YA-RWA chapter. Library Superfan, Award-winning TV-Binger, and your cat's new best friend. I love celebrating other writer's successes!
Follow her blog HERE
Follow her on Twitter HERE


Angela CothranAngela Cothran
I LOVE books of all kinds and in just the last few years I've discovered I also LOVE to write. I'm currently working on creating a compelling story: a little romance,a little betrayal, a well placed twist, and if a few people die-well it was bound to happen :)
Follow her blog HERE

What about you? If you're a writer, what's your writing process like?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Summer on the Short Bus

Lucky me recently got the opportunity to read Bethany Crandell's debut novel, Summer on the Short Bus in exchange for a review. Now, being a writer and all, I understand the hard work that goes into writing a book. The pages are like your children...or your pet if you don't have children...and you want others to love and accept them as much as you do. Because of that, when I review a book I don't like to trash it even if it isn't my favorite. I can always find something in a book that I enjoy. And anyone can tear down a book if they try, right? We see it happen all the time.

Given that, finding praise for Summer on a Short Bus was not a problem in the least. If I was starring this baby, I'd easily give it five!

Here's a little bit about the book:

Spoiled, Versace-clad Cricket Montgomery has seventeen years of pampering under her belt. So when her father decides to ship her off to a summer camp for disabled teens to help her learn some accountability, Cricket resigns herself to three weeks of handicapped hell.

Her sentence takes a bearable turn as she discovers the humor and likeability of the campers and grows close to fellow counselors. Now, if she can just convince a certain Zac Efron look-alike with amazing blue eyes that she finally realizes there's life after Gucci, this summer could turn out to be the best she's ever had.

Summer on the Short Bus is a very non-P.C., contemporary YA with a lot of attitude, tons of laughs, and a little life lesson along the way.

My thoughts:
From beginning to end, this book is the kind of read that had me squirming in my chair, not because it's bad, but because it digs deep, beyond the surface insecurities of a person and gets to what scares us all to the core....what we don't understand. Bethany is able to put it all out on the table, the good and the bad of being different and through it all, find the common ground that makes us all the same. The book touched my heart (yes, I did shed tears), and it hit my funny bone in a laugh out loud kind of way. This book is some kind of special. I highly suggest it, and thank Bethany for writing it in the process!

Want to find out more about Bethany and where to buy Summer on the Short Bus? Go HERE

Have you read, Summer on the Short Bus? If so, what did you think?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What I Learned During My LOOOOOOOONG Break

It's terribly hard to come back to this blog. I feel many things. Shame for staying away so long, excitement to get in touch with my old writing buddies. I've missed you! And eager to connect with those new writers starting out who are in the same place I was years ago, anxiously searching the web for advice on the next step to take on their writing journey.

I wish I had some major words of wisdom that I was able to pick up while I was on hiatus, but the truth is, I'm still the same person, struggling to learn more about myself, my writing and the industry.

I did, however, learn what works the best for me while revising that I'd love to share with you just in case you didn't already know.


1) Don't move to a different state two times in a year while under a revising deadline. Ever. I'm not kidding.

2) A- Learn to say no. You're a writer so it's okay to turn off the phone and sit on your butt to write. You're not being lazy. You're working.
    B- Don't listen to others when they tell you that writing isn't a job. It's simple. If you're serious about it, it is! If you listen to the naysayers and in so doing disobey rule 2A out of self-inflicted guilt, it won't be.

3) Don't be scared of the delete button. If you're afraid of writing crap, don't save it. Later, if you find it really is as horrible as you thought it might be, use the undo button. That button became my best friend.

4) If you're doing a major scene change it's okay to just get the idea out. Just pound that sucker out on the keyboard. You can always go back and polish it you did after your first draft.

5) If you're not super pumped to revise because you aren't sure the direction you want to go, just start. Those writing juices will kick in and before you know it, you won't want to stop.

6) If you find you're stuck on a paragraph for 4 hours....MOVE ON. You can always go back.

7) Don't crawl into a writing cave for so long that you're scared to come back into the light. Taking time away from social media while revising can be cathartic on many levels. But too long and you miss out on loads of wisdom (not to mention, cheering your writing buddies on in their successes). The writing world is always changing and ever evolving. When you finally decide to come back into the light, you may have to sprint to catch up, and I don't know about you, but I hate running.

Aside from my #1 are you sensing a theme here?


If you're revising, it's for a reason. You're manuscript needs tweaking. Meaning it's not perfect in the state it's in and you are allowed to change things up a bit. Don't be afraid, but always save the original version just in case you're so hopped up on caffeine one night while revising until 4 AM that you end up with pure gibberish. Yes that did happen to me more than once.

That's it folks. Wonderful wisdom imparted...of which I'm sure many of you already know and may have experienced yourself. So tell me about it. What have you had to learn the hard way about revising? 

Monday, April 29, 2013

I, Spy All Kinds of Awesomness...

About two years ago I sent my first novel off to my first beta reader and in return received my first 'tough love' critique. That beta reader was Jordan McCollum, and she changed my writing life for the better because of it. I love that she cared enough to give me the real deal truth about the good and bad of my manuscript and my writing. I often think about that critique and how the ugly truth had me laughing myself to tears as I read through the pages upon pages of notes she returned to me. In that moment I knew I had two choices: Wallow in my misery at the revelation that my writing was less than perfect, or learn from Jordan's words of wisdom and become a better writer.

I chose the latter, and because of her, I believe I do write better. Of course I'm still learning, but I have tougher skin now, and I really look forward to those truthful critiques like hers so I can continue to grow.

I owe Jordan so much for what she did for me. And now I get a small chance to say thanks by helping to reveal the cover of her new book...which is awesome!!!

I, Spy by Jordan McCollumComing June 5, 2013!

About the Book

Canada is probably the last place you'd expect to find an American spy. But even idyllic Ottawa has its deadly secrets—and so does CIA operative Talia Reynolds. She can climb through ventilation shafts, blend in at the occasional diplomatic function, even scale buildings (small ones). But there’s one thing she can’t do: tell her aerospace engineer boyfriend Danny about her Top Secret occupation.

It worked for a year, keeping Danny in the dark, keeping him away from danger, keeping her secrets. And then Talia finally catches a hot case: Fyodor Timofeyev. Russian. Aerospace executive. Possible spy?

She can make this work, too—until Danny needs her at the same time her country does. And when Fyodor targets Danny? Suddenly her schedule isn't the only thing suffering. Now to save her secrets and her country, Talia must sacrifice the man she loves.

Add I, Spy to your Goodreads to-read list!

Advance praise

The edge-of-my-seat undercover operations kept me turning pages, and just when I thought the story would go one way, plot twists sent it down another path. Thrilling, adventurous, and romantic, this book has it all for an Alias fan.
Jami Gold, award-winning author
Jordan McCollum’s debut novel is a delightful combination of mystery, action, and romance. Talia’s CIA training and almost OCD caution feed her quirky humor while exposing her very human fears and insecurities. Add in her boyfriend Danny, and it's enough to twist your heart.
Donna K. Weaver, author of A Change of Plans

Clever, suspenseful, and charged with political intrigue and romance, I, Spy is the perfect combination for a fun and captivating read!
Michelle Davidson Argyle, author of Monarch

About the author

An award-winning author, Jordan McCollum can’t resist a story where good defeats evil and true love conquers all. In her day job, she coerces people to do things they don’t want to, elicits information and generally manipulates the people she loves most—she’s a mom.

Jordan holds a degree in American Studies and Linguistics from Brigham Young University. When she catches a spare minute, her hobbies include reading, knitting and music. She lives with her husband and four children in Utah.

Follow Jordan on Twitter, like Jordan on Facebook and add I, Spy on Goodreads today!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Writing Alternate History (It's Not For Pansies)

I have no problem telling the world that I'm enamored with Sharon Bayliss:) Why not? The woman is a work horse writer, she's been my beta reader, she's a marketing guru and she's got a debut novel called THE CHARGE coming out! Add having a baby amidst it I said, I'm enamored!

Today you get to share in my girl crush because Sharon has stopped by for a guest post. In light of her upcoming novel she's throwing a blog tour and has been kind enough to include me in the fun.

Soooo, without further ado, I give you Sharon Bayliss: Writing Alternate History (It's Not For Pansies)....

Okay, confession time. I'm not a history buff. In school, I liked history at least more than math, but I've always been more interested in the present and future. So, why did I write an alternate history? Probably because I love to make things hard for myself. :) But, I suppose if I'm allowed to change history into whatever I want and add a touch of magic, it's a lot more fun.

The flag of the Texas Empire, based on the first official flag of the Republic of Texas.

My alternate history fantasy, The Charge, is set in an alternate present day North America and in this reality, the state of Texas never joined the United States and instead became it's own nation. For those of you who know American history, this possibility would have been unlikely, but it is based on reality. Texas was an independent nation from March 2, 1836, to February 19, 1846. So, it follows that inquisitive types might wonder what would have happened if Texas never joined the U.S.

The Charge isn't meant to be a realistic theory of what might have happened if Texas stayed it's own nation, it's meant to be more of a fantastical "what-if". For starters, the first President of Texas in my alternate history had supernatural powers, so I play pretty fast and loose with reality. :) However, that doesn't get me off the hook research-wise.

I actually did my research after I finished writing the story, and that strategy worked for me. An interesting alternate history is all fine and good, but if you want a story that people actually want to read, (and by "people", I mean more than just history teachers) the plot and character development are far more important than an clever "what-if" premise.

However, my general readership may also include some history buffs. Every time I thought about getting lazy with my research, this fictional alternate history geek would pop into my mind and start pointing out my mistakes.

If you want to do an alternate history, you really have to sit down and re-write history. My history deviates in 1836, so anything that existed before then gets to stay the same. Everything that happened after that is called into question. I wrote the timeline of all the big events that happened from 1836-2013 in my alternate world. I had to consider how my change would have impacted real events like the Civil War and The Great Depression and had to come up with likely new wars and important events.

If you're writing an alternate history, I suggest going through your novel with a fine-toothed comb and looking for any references that could possibly have been altered by your change in timeline. Places, events, brand names, political figures, basically any proper noun. Cities were an obvious issue. For example, Sam Houston does not exist in my timeline so there can be no city called Houston in Texas. And then there are smaller things. I realized that using the term "African-American" to describe race didn't make sense when I was referring to a Texas resident, they would technically be an "African-Texan".

When you're creating new events, I suggest modeling real world events. It's easier to make events seem plausible when they are similar to real things that have happened. No one can say, "that would never happen", if actually did or almost did. I used a lot of Cold War parallels to describe the twentieth century conflicts between the U.S. and the Texas Empire, but my Cold War got hot. Instead of the Red Scare, I have the "Blue Scare," a wave of irrational and intense hatred of Texas. And I use the Cuban Missile Crisis as a model for the events that led to the U.S. bombing the Texas Empire. The main difference is that in my version, the disaster isn't narrowly avoided, it happens, and of course, Castro is replaced with the current King of Texas.

History buff or not, writing an alternate history is not for the faint of heart. Expect to spend some time with your nose a history books. But I have to say, I had a blast and I loved the challenge. And I have plenty of information in the timeline I created that never comes up in The Charge, so I've got lots of good stuff left to use for later installments or possibly even a prequel.

About Sharon:
Sharon Bayliss is a native of Austin, Texas and works her day job in the field of social work. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living in her “happily-ever-after” with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening). You can connect with Sharon at and

About The Charge:
When King of the Texas Empire kidnaps Warren's brother, Warren embarks into a still Wild West to save him. On his journey, he makes a discovery that changes his life forever—he and his brother are long-lost members of the Texas royal family and the King wants them both dead. 

He gets help from an activist Texan named Lena, who's itching to take on the King and happens to be a beautiful firecracker Warren can't stay away from. Convincing her he's not one of the bad guys becomes harder when a mysterious energy stirs in his body, turning his brain into a hive of emotions and memories—not all his own.

A legacy of violence is not all he inherited from the brutal Kings of Texas. The myth that the royal family possesses supernatural powers may not be myth at all.

Gone are the days when choosing a major was a big deal. Now Warren must save his brother and choose whether or not to be King, follow a King, or die before he can retire his fake ID.

Doesn't that sound sooooo good? Here are some pretty fabulous links to get your paws on this book....

The Charge - a Rafflecopter giveaway
Purchase Links:

NetGalley (free review copies):

What do you all think about writing alternate history? 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spam sucks...but book releases, cover reveals and a winner does not!

Let me count the ways that I hate spam! I thought I was doing a pretty good job of filtering it out, but NOOOOO, I was mistaken. Does anyone have any tips on how I can get rid of the crap? That would be ever so great:)

In other news...and this is good stuff, one of my writer friends has had a book release and another had her cover reveal so I just wanted to give them a quick shout out!

Brenda Drake's birthday is a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! For a present she is revealing the cover of her book, LIBRARY JUMPERS! Check it out...And go visit her blog and tell her how awesome it is if you get a chance:) 

Yesterday was a big day for Kelley Lynn! Her debut novel, FRACTION OF STONE was released. Woot woot!!!! Check it out and stop by her blog to give her a big wuzz up!

And finally we have a winner for the copy of The Carnelian Legacy!!! Congrats S. T. Lakata!!! I just sent you an email:)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Carnelian Legacy Book Launch Giveaway!

I'm super excited to be able to give a shout out to Cheryl Koevoet today! Her new novel, THE CARNELIAN LEGACY was released this month and I cannot wait to get my little nubblies on it:) 

Let's learn a little bit about this cool chick and her book, then you can enter to win a copy of the THE CARNELIAN LEGACY all for yourself!

Hi Cheryl! First of all, congrats on the release of your novel, THE CARNELIAN LEGACY!

Q: What would you like the world to know about Cheryl Hettick?

A: I love to write and I love to share with others. When I combine these two things together, I create something that I hope will last and resonate with many generations.

Q: Can you give a small blurb about what we can expect from this book?

A: Eighteen-year-old Marisa MacCallum always knew the man of her dreams was out there somewhere. The problem is--he's in another dimension.

Q: You've signed with WestBow Press. I'd love to know the details on how this came about and how you like working with them.

A: I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. After searching for almost a year for a literary agent (without success) I began to question the entire process of going the "traditional" route. Just because I couldn't find someone to fall in love with my story didn't mean that it wasn't worth publishing. When I decided to go with WestBow, I was a little apprehensive at first, but the folks there have been kind and gracious the entire way. I have enjoyed learning the process of steps that turn a manuscript into a physical book and looking back now, I wouldn't have done it any other way.

Q: On your blog, you made the announcement that in Sept 2012 that CARNELIAN LEGACY would be published (squee)! And lookie here, the time has arrived only six months later! That's so fast! What have you had to do to prepare for this big moment?

 A: To be honest, I haven't had any time to rest on my laurels yet! I have taken the story through countless edits and through it all, I have always been my own worst critic. Like one of my main characters, I am a recovering perfectionist and am always trying to push each scene to it's outermost limit. I have been blogging, tweeting, and facebook-ing like a maniac to build up my platform.

Q: Where can we get your book?

A: You will find the link to purchase the softcover version at here
For customers in Europe and the UK, you'll find the link at here.
For all versions of the book, I have created a page at Goodreads. The softcover version link is here.


Q: Where can we find you online?

Twitter: @CherylKoevoet
YouTube link to the book trailer: 

Ready. Get Set. Fast five:

Q: Fill in the blank - If I were a shoe, I'd be a ______________?
A: Manolo Blahnik
Q: Favorite place?
A: Cannon Beach, Oregon

Q: You're face to face with the entrance of a cave. All is black inside, except for the red rimmed eyes of a creature.  What happens next?
A: I would send in my fearless main character, Darian Fiore with his Excalibur to defend me.

Q: Rainy days and sweatpants or sunny days and a swimsuit?
What does your future hold? 

A: I'm an Oregon girl at heart. Rainy days and sweatpants!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Cheryl! I wish you the best of luck with THE CARNELIAN LEGACY:) Happy release month!

Here's your chance, guys! If you'd like to win a copy of THE CARNELIAN LEGACY enter the Rafflecopter below! A winner will be announced Friday, 3/22/13:) Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway