Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Word Counts and Inspiration

Yes, it's November, and this year I am once again participating in NaNoWriMo, wherein I write like crazy in hopes of getting in 50,000 words in 30 days. Except, that's not my actual goal, and it's sort of a problem.

Why is it a problem? Well, my NaNo project is actually book 3 in the Descendant series because even though I had big plans of having it done way before now, our big move back to Utah really threw a wrench in things. And we all know that Descendant and Birthright are both much longer than 50,000 words. More like 90,000 and change. So while I may likely win NaNo with the word count, to get to the end of my novel, I'll need another 40,000 or so more.

But don't worry, people. This book is going to be turned in for editing, formatting, cover art, etc. and released in April, as promised. (No, I do not have an exact date, but it will be sometime that month FOR SURE.)

In the meantime, I'm trying super hard to focus on this, the most difficult story of the series.

Also, I am working on several other super fun, secret projects. If you are a newsletter subscriber, you will be seeing some really AWESOME news in the next day or two. If you're not, I'll be sure to post the news here next week.

Good things are happening people!

And on a side note, last weekend was my anniversary. We spent a few days in San Francisco, where we found the most awesome castle turned winery just outside of Napa. I'll talk more about that next week. But for now, look what my husband had made for me!

Brownie points to the person who can tell me why it is significant, and why I am wearing it for inspiration as I work frantically on this project.

What inspires you while you work?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Catch Me When I Fall Blog Tour: An Excerpt

Guys! There are some things I love about being an author, and one of those things is the amazing people I get to interact with who are also authors. This week, I am helping my agency sister, Vicki Leigh, to celebrate the release of her debut book, Catch Me When I Fall.

Don't miss out on the chance to enter Vicki's contest for the My Worst Nightmare blog hop. 

Here is an awesome excerpt: 

“Kayla, I’d like for you to stay a minute.” When the others had filed out of the room, Dr. Malcolm closed the door and sat across from Kayla. “You were pretty shaken up last night, so I didn’t have a chance to get much information from you. I’d like you to tell me what happened.”“It was another dream.”“The same as last time?”Kayla nodded. “I grabbed the gun and tried to shoot him, but I kept missing. Then he burst into flames, just how I… wanted him to.”
Dr. Malcolm paused, calculating her response. “You mean, just how you remember?”Kayla’s eyes fell to the floor.Dr. Malcom sighed. “Kayla, we’ve talked about this. You need to start believing that what you thought you saw was your brain’s way of protecting you during the attack —”“I know what I saw!” Kayla yelled. She gripped the seat of her chair and fought the tears that pooled in the bottom of her eyes.
Dr. Malcolm spoke calmly. “This is why you’re here, Kayla. What you saw was your mind’s reaction to what that man did to you. As soon as you come to terms with this, the dreams will stop feeling so real and you can move past the pain.”The word “attack” brought up memories from my past I’d tried to forget. I’d died saving two women from the brutality of savage men. By the way Kayla’s face looked right now, I was positive I knew where this was going, what happened to her. Having heard enough, I balled my hands into fists, closed my eyes and evaporated to Rome.Tabbi was awake when I arrived, though my sudden appearance startled her. “Jeez, Daniel. You could’ve at least knocked.”“Sorry.” I sat in the chair next to her bed and tried to appear unfazed. “How are you feeling?”“Better. Trishna did a good job healing me, but Bartholomew wants to keep me one more night until he’s certain I can return to work.” She squinted at me. “What’s wrong?”Damn. Can’t hide anything from her. “When you read Kayla’s mind, did you read all of it?”
Tabbi scrunched her small nose. “Well, yeah. It is my job to know my charge.” She spoke like I was stupid to forget. I would’ve smiled if my heart wasn’t already consumed with anger.
“Then you saw what happened to her the night she was attacked.”Tabbi frowned. “Yeah.”“Was she raped?”Tabbi shook her head. “Here. Let me show you what happened.” She held her hand out to me.Since I was Tabbi’s partner in protecting Kayla, I could see what she saw in Kayla’s mind once I linked hands with her. The connection was part of the supernatural bond we’d created with Kayla when we performed our ritual the first day we were assigned to her. I grabbed Tabbi’s hand and closed my eyes. Within seconds, I was in Kayla’s head, seeing through her eyes and feeling her emotions. I had become Kayla.

Genre: young-adult, urban-fantasy, paranormal-romance

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Date of Release­­: October 23, 2014

Cover Artist: Conzpiracy Digital Arts

About Catch Me When I Fall:

Recruited at his death to be a Protector of the Night, seventeen-year-old Daniel Graham has spent two-hundred years fighting Nightmares and guarding humans from the clawed, red-eyed creatures that feed off people’s fears. Each night, he risks his eternal life, having given up his chance at an afterlife when he chose to become a Protector. That doesn’t stop a burnt-out Daniel from risking daring maneuvers during each battle. He’s become one of the best, but he wants nothing more than to stop.

Then he’s given an assignment to watch over sixteen-year-old Kayla Bartlett, a clinically depressed patient in a psychiatric ward. Nightmares love a human with a tortured past. Yet, when they take a deep interest in her, appearing in unprecedented numbers, the job becomes more dangerous than any Daniel’s ever experienced. He fights ruthlessly to keep the Nightmares from overwhelming his team and Kayla. Soon, Daniel finds himself watching over Kayla during the day, drawn to why she’s different, and what it is about her that attracts the Nightmares. And him.

A vicious attack on Kayla forces Daniel to break the first Law and reveal his identity. Driven by his growing feelings for her, he whisks her away to Rome where others like him can keep her safe. Under their roof, the Protectors discover what Kayla is and why someone who can manipulate Nightmares has her in his sights. But before they can make a move, the Protectors are betrayed and Kayla is kidnapped. Daniel will stop at nothing to save her. Even if it means giving up his immortality.

Find Catch Me When I Fall Online:
Goodreads | Amazon  US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Kobo


About The Author:
Adopted at three-days-old by a construction worker and a stay-at-home mom, Vicki Leigh grew up in a small suburb of Akron, Ohio where she learned to read by the age of four and considered being sent to her room for punishment as an opportunity to dive into another book. By the sixth grade, Vicki penned her first, full-length screenplay. If she couldn’t be a writer, Vicki would be a Hunter (think Dean and Sam Winchester) or a Jedi. Her favorite place on earth is Hogwarts (she refuses to believe it doesn’t exist), and her favorite dreams include solving cases alongside Sherlock Holmes.

Vicki is an editor for Month9Books and Curiosity Quills Press, an intern at TriadaUS Literary agency, and is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

Find Vicki Leigh Online:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Monday, November 3, 2014

My Worst Nightmare: Catch Me When I Fall Blog Hop (and a contest!)

Today, I’m taking part in Vicki Leigh’s “My Worst Nightmare” blog hop, to celebrate the recent release of her young-adult, paranormal-romance/ urban-fantasy, CATCH ME WHEN I FALL, which centres around seventeen-year-old Daniel Graham, a Protector of the Night, who has spent two-hundred years fighting Nightmares and guarding humans from the clawed, red-eyed creatures that feed off people’s fears.

·         On 11.03.14 post about your worst nightmare, and what form the clawed, red-eyed creatures would take if they fed off your fears.
·         Visit the other participants of the blog hop, and comment on their worst nightmares

At the end of the blog tour, on 11.14.14Vicki Leigh will pick one of the participants at random and award them with [prize].

Okay, I know that participating in blog hops (which are different from blog tours) is not something I typically do on this blog. I have my reasons, but a lot of times it's because I generally don't have time to keep up with everyone's everything, and if I do one, I will feel like I need to do them all.

But with Halloween recently passed, and since I'm participating in this blog tour anyway, they are pretty much interconnected. So. I'm supposed to write about my worst nightmare.

Here's the thing. I don't like writing about nightmares. I am not necessarily a horror writer, at least, not that I have yet discovered. In fact, on my last author panel, someone asked what we like to write about, and my answer was kissing. I write kissing books! And romance. And yes, they all have conflict, some of which is pretty scary stuff. But in my mind, it all revolves around the kissing.

And since I'm in confession mode, it's been a very long time since I had a sleeping nightmare. By that, I mean a really bad dream that occurs while I'm asleep, and that I remember when I wake up. You should understand by now, though, that I am the person who takes precautions to avoid this kind of issue. We simply don't let the stuff of nightmares into our home. Saves me a lot of grief with my kids.

So instead of writing my personal nightmares, which I absolutely can't remember, I have decided to post some pictures of things that might cause anyone a few nightmares. Okay? Okay.

Captain Hook anyone? 

Yeah, this just...yeah. 

This guy is so scary people are afraid to even utter his name. *coughcoughVoldemortcoughcough*

Need I say more? I don't know anyone who is not afraid of clowns.

My Preciousssssssss...

*Insert Jaws theme music here*
Other blog hop Participants:
Sharon Bayliss | Emma Adams at From the Writer's Nest               | The Writer Diaries      
Jennifer Brooks at The Cubicle Escapee | Katja at Cautious                          

Cait Spivey | Lucy Lala at Book-A-Holic                    

Find Catch Me When I Fall Online:

And for all you NaNoWriMo participants, I hope you're killing the word counter with your productivity.

**Also, if you're looking for the announcement I mentioned last week, worry not. You haven't missed it. BUT if you want to hear about it first, and be among the first to enter my most epic contest yet, don't forget to sign up for my newsletter. It's happening soon. Very soon.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Digging Up Creativity (And Gearing Up for NaNoWriMo)

The last couple of years, my home life has taken some seriously major turns. So has my professional life. And since both are connected to my social life, this pretty much rounds things out into feeling a huge ball of oh-my-goodness-what-have-I-gotten-myself-into? Every. Single. Day.

Being that I’m the creative type, this feeling can get a bit overwhelming at times. Overwhelm tends to send me in one of two directions. Either I dive into my creative side and hide there for an endless amount of time (basically shutting out the rest of the world as I write like mad) OR I focus on the more practical side (like my family, home, etc.) and do NOTHING creative for, well, what feels like an endless amount of time. For me, there is really no happy medium.

This is a problem, given my chosen profession, because if I want to keep my readers happy and interested, I still have to produce books. And if I want to keep my family alive and happy, I have to do things like laundry, and making dinner, and homework and doctor/dentist visits, and driving to school and…you know, I should probably shower and stuff sometimes, too.

It’s a dilemma. And yet…through some of the craziest months of life, I managed to get through editing and releasing DESCENDANT, and then re-releasing it, and then somehow a miracle must have occurred, because I also got BIRTHRIGHT done and released as well. I’m not going to lie. They both took everything I had in me at that time, and then some. To this day, I’m still not sure how BIRTHRIGHT actually happened.

I won’t say I forced it, because that’s not true. But I must have managed to dig deep down and find that hidden box of creativity that was cowering inside me. I wish I could tell you how that happened, but it’s still a mystery.  

If you write, at some point, you will hear (probably a million-billion times) people tell you that you should write every day. I’m not going to agree or disagree with that. I think it works for some people, and for others, not as much. I don’t write every day, even though I do try. But for me, there is serious value in having a deadline. A goal. Something to push me forward. Otherwise, I might hang around waiting for life to calm down, which might mean I never write anything new again.

It’s been a few years since I managed to participate in National Novel Writing Month, but this year, I have not one or two, but THREE huge projects (and a couple of smaller ones) to finish, and my creativity has hit a low again. I think November is just the thing I need to kick me in gear. 50,000 words, 30 days, and half a million other writers urging me to keep going. It’s good incentive.

And maybe somehow, I will find my shovel and dig deep again. Because my books are not going to write themselves.

What about you? What motivates you when you’re just not feeling the creative vibe?

**Stay tuned for a possible very exciting announcement, coming soon. If you haven’t already subscribed to my newsletter, that’s where you should go to be among the first to find out! Also, I may, or may not, be giving away free stuff this holiday season. You can sign up on the sidebar.à

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Because it’s All About that Cover

This week my thoughts keep landing on book covers and how important they are toward a book’s overall success in the current market. Let’s be real. People can preach that old adage over and over again, but the fact still remains. Readers buy books according to a few very important guidelines, the first of those guidelines being what those readers see the first time they pick up a book (or click on the thumbnail).

Ladies and gentlemen, it really is all about the cover.

Yes, there are other guidelines. Is the title catchy? The cover copy (otherwise known as the description of the story) is also supremely important. Word of mouth—because seriously, twelve or thirteen years ago, who would have picked up a vampire romance without being told by countless friends that it was to-die-for awesome? Amazon reviews help a lot these days too, because a book that boasts 200 five-star ratings wouldn’t have those ratings unless it was at least a little bit good, right?

But always, always it comes down to first impressions, and the first thing a reader sees when picking up a book is the cover.

It’s kind of like when people color their hair with funky rainbow dyes. People judge. They might try hard not to, but unless they are the free-thinking creative type, most people have a very hard time accepting differences that are as bold and daring as hot pink hair. Luckily, people don’t generally have to pay to see a person’s hair, but they do have to decide whether or not to buy a book.

This brings me to my main question. What are your absolute favorite book covers this year?

To get this party started, here are a few (seriously, very few) of mine. I’d love to hear your opinions on these as well. Oh, and just so you know, I'm deliberately choosing covers of books I haven't read yet, but want to. 

I love this one because it just shows that this character is broken by her secrets. I don't even have to read the description to know I want to read this book.

Well, of course. It's by Ally Condie, so I know I want to read it. but also, I love the simplicity of the shell, showing the ripples of one tiny touch in the water. And the title font. Love the lines it creates.

This one. The title and cover work together so well to tell me that this story is about the words people say and how they affect each of us, and specifically this character who is holding the mirror and feeling invisible. LOVE.

Clearly I have a thing for water themed covers right now. But I love how these people just seem so out of place just below the surface enough that the sun still shines on them. On this one, I think it's the colors that stand out. And also, again, the title font. 
Okay, now it's your turn. Annnnnddd... GO!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

LDStorymakers Midwest Conference: The Funnest Little Conference Around

You should know by now that I have a thing for conferences and conventions. They tend to scratch my social itch in a way nothing else can quite reach. Because of this, I have been to lots of them. More often as an attendee than a presenter, but with a round view of both, I think.

Over the years, my favorite conference has always been the LDStorymakers conference in Utah. During my very first one, I made some lifelong friends and found myself welcomed into the loving arms of the writing community, even though I was 100% green at the craft. The foundation I found with these people has become a rock to which I have clung through my journey as a writer, and also as an evolving person.

That said, it’s slightly possible I may have some bias toward conferences sponsored by the LDStorymakers. But if that’s true, then it stems back to my first conference with them, in which we had only around 70 people in attendance, and James Dashner taught a class about writing strong supporting characters (during which we had a fascinating discussion about Star Wars—but I digress). If you can picture small classrooms in a small-ish hotel, crowded with hungry, eager soon-to-be authors, that’s what I remember.

And it’s also what I found again at this year’s LDStorymakers Midwest Conference held in Kansas. Small, intimate, and attended by hungry, eager writers who are fighting through the bottle neck of publishing.

Guys. I have SO MISSED that intimate setting. I didn’t realize how much I missed that until I was there. Of course, as always, the classes were stellar, the bookstore run professionally and with a large selection of books, and the offerings fantastic. But even more, the social time was killer.

What else can I say, other than YOU SHOULD GO! If you live anywhere in or near Kansas and are wanting to learn more about writing and publishing, go. If you have to travel a little distance to get there, it’s still worth it.

I could keep trying to convince you, but instead, I think I’ll let some pictures do the talking.
Authorpalooza at the library the Friday before the conference. So fun!

Agent Sarah Negovetich and I entertaining ourselves by organizing Danyelle's bookshelves (thanks for being patient, Danyelle!)

Because it just wouldn't be right without a specialized treat run.
And seriously, what better people to spend the opening night of The Maze Runner than the people who I met the same weekend as James?

And after it was done--late night snacks at Denny's. Because, obviously.

Traveling buddies.

Our authorpalooza panel.

This one is my favorite. It kind of says it all! (aka You will sing, you will dance, you will make forever friends!)

You can learn more about the LDStorymakers conferences (Utah and Midwest) at www.ldstorymakers.com.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Best Intentions

This summer life has clocked me in the head. Literally. As in, no matter how hard I think, my brain cannot compute where the time has gone and how it is not almost OCTOBER. So much for keeping up with my regular Tuesday blogs! Sigh.

But it’s okay. I’m coming to grips with a few things this month, and thought maybe I should share them with you.

1.       Sometimes it’s okay to not be able to keep up with everything you hoped to do. Life is a game of priorities, and sometimes the people in it get to come ahead of and above other goals or schedules.

2.       There is nothing in the world that will put a family of six in an emotional tailspin faster than a two year sequence that involves three big moves (not including my oldest daughter who added one more to that number) across a distance of 1500 miles. It is physically, emotionally, and mentally impossible to keep up with anything else—especially artistically, during this time.

3.       It’s important to live for life’s “ups” in order to make the “downs” more bearable.

4.       Sometimes even the best intentions just don’t add up to reality.

5.       Making my personal writing goals that involve manuscripts have become a much higher priority above blogging.

It’s that number five thing that has kept me from blogging. See, here’s the thing. I had big plans for this summer. I have books to draft and blogs to write, and conferences to attend, marketing to keep up on and, and, and… I’ve discovered that no matter how badly I want to keep up with all these things, the reality is that I can’t do everything, all the time.

So I let this blog slide a bit, and I don’t feel too bad about it because I have instead focused on other writing projects that I hope to see making important progress in the near future.

I very much hope that I am able to get back into a routine and keep up with blogging again this fall. But if I skip some weeks—if I don’t keep up the way I always have—I hope you can forgive me. I hope you’ll continue to come back and read anyway. Because I have come to the conclusion that it is more important to keep up with writing books than it is to stay consistent with this blog. (Though I truly do hope I can juggle both!)

Thanks for sticking with me, friends!

Stay tuned next tuesday for a report on the awesomeness that was the LDStorymakers Midwest Conference!