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

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Happy Moments and My Madeline!

Hey guys! I just had to pop on and do a quick little post because I'm jumping with all the joy today!

I woke up to a very happy tweet this morning from the loverly, Triona Murphy. She participated in GUTGGA a few months ago and today she got to announce that she landed an agent from it!!! Read her story HERE!

And it isn't only Triona! But PK Hrezo did too!  Granted this happened a while back and I was going to do interviews and post them on my blog...I still am, but I don't have to tell you how badly I suck with my blogging of late. So I'm just gonna say it now and interview later:) Check out PK's story HERE.

I couldn't be happier for them! So the moral of this post is, go forth, enter contests, let them help you. Even if you don't land an agent from it, the feedback you get is soooo worth it. I have gotten so many emails and tweets about how GUTGAA helped them polish their manuscripts and eventually get an agent. That is the reason I did it, so I'm just so freaking happy for those of you that it's helped!

I hope to hear more stories in the future about it too. Please let me know if something exciting happens to you because of GUTGAA.

In other news, this little lady took part in Kristina Perez's, Madeline Project. I'd love it if you checked it out:) Deana Barnhart's Madeline

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Let the Cyber Hugs Fly!

Happy Heart Day, Loverlies!

On Monday I announced that I'm turning February, the month of hugs and kisses, on its tail and giving it to you all. My hubs doesn't mind:)

I challenged you on that same day to gush about yourself. And what great gushes they were.

Today, I want to give you the chance to shoot your cupid arrow into the heart of anyone in the writing industry that you respect, admire, want to be like. The choice is yours.  

I'll break the ice and get us started.
I have heaps of love for...
My Pied Piper critique pals
My beta buddies Emily, Sharon, Lora and soon to be Alex:)
My agent, Sarah Lapolla
Sarah's other clients who I admire, stalk & totally look up
Agents and editors who take the time to offer guidance
Cupid and her agent connecting contests (as well as all the others who host pitch contests)
Authors who write addictive books that inspire
NanoRevMo buddies
Social media peoples who motivate
Writers conference friends

And last but not least I'm a better writer because of YOU ALL! I'm continuously motivated and inspired by your journeys. You make me want to be better! Mucho LOVES and HUGS!!!!!

Now it's your turn. Who has impacted you in the writing world that you can't go another day without recognizing? Shout em out and spread the word. Let's make today a total love fest! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Month of Lurve. . . .

Oh February! It's here and passing quickly. The month of love, of togetherness, of celebrating each other. And I want to do just that.

I am dedicating this month to you!

That's right. I want all my posts this month to be about other writer's successes. Because you know what? We all deserve it. This writing road is freaking hard and stressful and up and down and round and round....and so completely worth it! Don't you think? I'd love it if you stopped by from time to time and gave a big ole cyber hug of congrats to the writers that will be spotlighted.

And just so everyone will get their moment to share in the smooches and squishes being doled out, I'm going to have a LOVE SHOUT OUT. Is there anyone in your writing world that means the world to you? Stop by on Valentine's Day and let them know how much they mean to you.

So let's start the gushing party, and let's start it with you. I know writer's aren't the best at paying themsleves compliments, but today you MUST.

What milestones have you reached on your 
 writing journey that deserve to be shouted from the rooftops? It can be anything. Have you started your first novel, found a critique group, gotten a book deal? Tell me all the things! Because I want to give you all the love!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I'm BAA-ACK!!! And 18 THINGS

I can't believe I've trudged my way back here. There were times I thought I might never make it. So a big WUZZ UP my friends!!! I have missed you so!

How can I miss you, but stay away, you ask? Weell, let me just tell you, it has to do with severe burn out. I've learned some things about myself this past month or two since I've been gone. I've learned that we are NOT all created equal.

I thought I could do it!

I thought I could do a massive GUTGAA blogfest, help with two others, go to Disney for Thanksgiving, beta read a manuscript, multiple query critiques, Christmas, shopping, travelling, New Years hoopla, kids school crap and a pretty large and in charge revision of my my own.

Yeah, not so much. I started to beat myself up over it. I mean some of you all do stuff like this on your lunch break, but *insert major sigh* I am not that person.

And I'm cool with that now. Just so you know I still love you all. You were in my thoughts constantly:)

Now that I am back, I want to give my buddy Jamie Ayers a major shout out!

Don't you love that cover?!

To kick off this crazy cool day right, you can join in the 18 Things BOOK BOMB. Don't know what that is? Go HERE to check it out! I'm so totally excited for her! I wish her the best in so many ways!!!

You should totally go buy this book. I am! Here are the links:

Now for the big question. What's everyone been up to while I've been away? I would seriously love to hear and and ALL the news!