Announcement: The Light at Finnigan’s End (Rum Runners Book 2)

I am so happy to announce that my second book, The Light at Finnigan’s End, is going to be published on November 5, 2018. I am again working with the wonderful team at Changing Tides Publishing and this novel will be a follow up to A Shine That Defies the Dark, as well as #2 in The Rum Runners series.

 

Here is a little about The Light At Finnigan’s End:

Irish immigrant Deirdre Cassidy is determined to find out what happened to her brother, Finn. With the Great Depression sweeping the nation, Finn turned to the Moret Gang as a means of earning money and now he’s missing.

Deirdre manipulates her way into the depths of the most brutal bootleggers in southern Louisiana and one thing is clear, nothing happens without the approval of Claude Moret or his brother Jack. Before it’s over, Deirdre is determined to kill them both, even if she dies in the process.

The one thing Deirdre never counted on was Mo Moret. Claude’s son is as dangerous as he is magnetic, but Deirdre isn’t convinced he’ll ever be able to set aside his Moret loyalty for love. And Deirdre is determined to see the end of the Morets, however that end must come.

 

For those who are subscribed to my newsletter you’ll get a special sneak peak within the next week. If you’d like an early look at the first two chapters you still have time to sign up for my newsletter here

Many thanks to everyone who continued to ask for a second book and everyone who helped me along the way.

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Author Spotlight: Lucinda Stein

Name: Lucinda Stein

Author of: Jadeite’s Journey (Inkspell Publishing) and Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

My first writing was free verse, but after all these years, I couldn’t tell you what I wrote about. I went on to write a novella (to be forever buried in a drawer!)

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

In the beginning, I wrote for my own enjoyment. Later I joined a writers’ group and discovered how much I needed to learn about the craft of writing. With the encouragement of other writers, I eventually worked to get my writing published.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

Two gracious people were willing to look at my work and give me feedback. At that point, I took my writing seriously and became committed to learning everything I could about writing. Note: This is a lifelong process!

Do you exclusively write sci-fi/fantasy or have you written in other genres?

Jadeite’s Journey was my first sci-fi/dystopian novel, but I’m definitely a multi-genre author. I’ve written historical fiction, contemporary women’s fiction, a collection of short stories, and young adult fiction. I’m currently working on a YA magic realism novel.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

While I was working fulltime, I would write for an hour or so after work. Now that I’m retired, I don’t have those same time constraints, but I still need to push myself and keep a regular writing routine.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

My rough draft usually takes four to six months. With historical fiction, the process can take a year to two years. Revisions, which includes my own editing and suggestions from critique groups, can take a year or longer.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I usually have a rough idea how the story starts and ends. I do a character study for the main character. One of the most important things is to determine what the MC wants most deeply and why they struggle to attain that desire. This should be an emotional drive (to discover their true worth, find the strength to forgive, etc.) vs. an outward need (such as a job, relationship, etc.) which can be a subplot in the story.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

I don’t spin three times before sitting down to the computer, but I do like to have coffee or a cold drink at my desk. In the beginning, I used music to set the mood, but now I’ve been writing for so long that just putting fingertips to keyboard gets my brain activated!

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

My first novel came out of lone hiking trips in the San Juan Mountains. Twice I took a wrong turn—once my German shepherd led me back to the trail and on another trip, a friendly hiker steered me straight! After coming across old mining ruins, I was inspired to write my first book, Maggie’s Way: The Story of a Defiant Pioneer Woman, published by Western Reflections Publishing.
A few years ago, I traveled with my husband to Oklahoma and visited his grandparents’ homestead. After hearing family stories while we were there, I found one particular event kept coming back to me. Soon I was researching the Depression era in Oklahoma and the Comanche tribe of which my husband is a member. The result was Dry Run, Oklahoma, a 2018 Oklahoma Book Award finalist.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

Usually a very small thing is the seed for my story, but it’s an event that sticks in my mind until I write about it. Jadeite’s Journey, my YA novel, came out of my concern for the trouble in the world. I imagined a “perfect” future society. Of course to make a good story, this world turns out to have its own set of problems.

My adult novel, Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe, was inspired by a young woman who actually lived in the back of her antique store. The setting for my book is my hometown, which made for a lot of fun. The eccentric mother in the story—totally fictional!

 Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

Like my writing, I enjoy a variey of books from YA to adult, contemporary to classics.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

I don’t intentionally hide things, but writers are definitely thieves. Like that old saying among writers—Watch out or you may turn up in one of my books. (Different names and faces of course!)

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Consciously or unconsciously, I’m sure my characters are composites of people I’ve known.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

I loved Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, a National Book Award finalist and a Printz Award winner. The book shows up occasionally on Instagram (bookstagrams, specifically) but for the most part, seems underappreciated. It’s a unique YA book with a great theme.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

This winter, I read Les Miserable, a 900 page classic. I love the theme of redemption and fresh starts. The guilty part? I had to skim and skip the long passages about the French Revolution and other exceedingly long parts of French political history.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Occasionally, I check on the results of a book promotion.

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

Definitely an owl. They’re always watching (for mistakes, improvement, inspiration) and wise in making decisions (revision, storyline.)

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

I struggle with finding where to start the story. There’s always the temptation to give too much information too soon. The reader need to be “hooked” into the story more than they need to know the main character or anything leading up to the story. Start with conflict and an inciting event.

 What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

A healthy critique group is essential for growth. Each member should be committed to improving his/her own work. This includes studying the advice of professional writers from books and workshops, and a willingness to take suggestions. In a good critique group, everyone wants to see each other improve.

If a suggestion is made by two or more people, take serious note of that suggestion. There’s so much to learn about the art and craft of writing that the effort can be daunting. Perseverance is required—it’s hard work—but hang in there and never stop learning.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Prepare yourself to be disappointed with book sales. Promotion is grueling and building a following takes time. Learn everything you can about the business and pump other authors (hopefully gracious ones) about things you should be doing.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

Without any financial compensation, I took on a new writer who wanted mentoring. She was so dedicated to learning she quickly grew in skill, became published, and now we critique each other’s work! I am so grateful for the writers in my life who were willing to share what they had learned that I try to pass it on. I encourage new writers to join writers’ groups and also find a critique group with members dedicated to helping each other in a kind, supportive manner.

Want to know more about Lucinda?

 

Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe 

After growing up in the back of a secondhand store, Liza swore she’d never return home. But twenty-three-year-old Liza has lost all sense of direction after her divorce. Her mother, Minnie, a product of the hippie era, now resides in an antique store, her eccentricity known to all in the small Midwestern town. To Liza’s chagrin, she’s once again living in a store.

When a toddler is abandoned in Minnie’s shop, Liza takes in the child she calls Sweetie, hoping the young woman who left her will return. Liza soon finds her priorities change. She falls in love with the little girl and refuses to report Sweetie to the authorities. When the young woman who abandoned the child returns a year later, Liza’s force to make a decision—give up Sweetie or go the run.

Buy Minnie’s Antique & Curiosity Shoppe on Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

 

 

 

Jadeite’s Journey 

Jadeite’s perfect world comes crashing down on her. In the futuristic world of United Society, her only problem has been how to act around the cute boy on the air shuttle. But Jadeite’s world changes when she comes across a man who looks alarmingly like her father. Clones were declared illegal years ago. When she sees her father, a robotic engineer, headed to the Dark Edge of United Society, she follows him and uncovers her father’s secret life.

Jadeite shadows her father past the boundary of United Society and into a primitive world of canyons and high deserts. She learns her father is a Ridge Runner passing between the two worlds. Even more alarming, she discovers her younger brother, Malachite, is sick and requires medicine only available from over the Ridge. After her father is arrested, Jadeite takes his place in order to save her brother’s life.

But her world turns even more precarious after she breaks up with her obsessive boyfriend, Mattie. Jadeite soon learns his threats are more than words, and she finds her life is in jeopardy.

Buy Jadeite’s Journey from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

 

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Writing A Second Novel

Writing a novel is so much pressure. You struggle to come up with a decent concept, struggle with world-building, develop interesting characters that will grow and evolve, make sure there aren’t any unresolved plot points and that you’ve reached the end you envisioned. Next you must edit—remove unnecessary commas, correct misspelled words, replace filtering words, hunt down the illustrious “show vs tell” segments. Then you dive into the submission pressure pool of writing a query and synopsis, researching agents/publishers and submitting. But once you’ve published that first book the pressure is a thing of the past, right?

Erm, in a word…no! 

Welcome to the Follow-Up Foibles, aka all the pitfalls that can make your second novel even more stressful than the first.

 

The fears and stressors that affect your writing during book two:

  • If you’ve got a contract/deadline for book #2 you’re under more pressure to complete your next book within a certain time frame. Luckily, I didn’t. My first novel was signed as a stand-alone and #2, though a companion novel, was developed after A Shine That Defies the Dark was contracted.
  • With your first novel you’re filled with optimism and still a blank canvas as an author. Nobody has preconceived ideas about your writing style or skill. With book 2 you have an established skill level, voice and marketability as a debut author. You can fall to the pressure of having to “prove yourself”—and the fear that each book thereafter will be used to gauge your skill as a writer.
  • With Book 2, you know now how much hard work comes after the novel is written. You know that after the soul-crushing, gut-wrenching work of writing your book is done you’ll be back in the trenches of promoting and marketing, not just one book now, but both.
  • There is an undeniable fear that you’ll disappoint your readers. What if everyone who loved book 1 are lukewarm about #2? Will you feel you’ve failed  them? Will you have failed your book? If book 2 doesn’t stand up will you have failed Book 1 as well?
  • After months (or years!) of reading, re-reading and editing book 1, you thought you were done with it, right? Well, if Book 2 is a sequel you’ll need to re-read book 1 (at least once!) for timeline, character growth, minor character reintroduction and plot line. Setting up a calendar, or event timeline that ties both books together can help so that you only must do this step once.
  • There is a great deal of stress in trying to make book #2 at least as good as the last and the paralyzing self-doubt that it isn’t even close. This fear can wreak havoc on your creativity and productiveness.
  • There is a degree of pressure in people asking when your next book will be out. While you’re happy they want more, the paralyzing self-doubt that “I’m a scam and the first book was a fluke” can impact your creative process. If I hadn’t finished my 1st novel, very few people would know. If I fail to finish book 2, well…more would know
  • Will my second book be as good a concept? Will my pacing and action balance well with the romance? Will my “steamy” scenes just seem like I recycled the ones from book 1? Will there be anything unique to the readers or will it seem like the same story with different character names in a different town?

 

The good news about the stress involved in writing book two:

  • Some of the stress is healthy for your writing. It shows you care, you aren’t taking it for granted that you’re a published author and don’t have to work so hard anymore.
  • If you’re obsessing over the details, it means you’re thinking about them. What sets this novel apart? How can I make it unique? You care about the quality of your work, which is good.
  • You don’t have to let the stress impact you in a negative way. Use it to fuel your productivity and creativity. There is nothing wrong with striving to do better. Just be sure to balance the inspiration with relaxation (take a walk, watch a movie, read a book!). Creativity is fueled in the quiet times a well as the busy ones.

When you’re done you’ll have a new book to be proud of. 

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Author Spotlight: Kim Chance

Name:  Kim Chance

Author of: Keeper; Seeker (coming Fall 2019)

From: Flux Books

 

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

The first piece of original fiction I remember ever writing was a short story about a girl named Katie and a boy named Barry who fall madly and love and get married. It was about three pages long. I was very much into romance and fairy tales when I was younger! I still have it somewhere, though I think I’d be slightly horrified to read it! Can we say insta-love? LOL! 

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

I majored in Journalism in college, so I was already on the path of using writing for my career, but I never occurred to me to pursue fiction writing until after I had graduated. I was 22 and newly married. My hubby was deployed and I was living in a brand new town with no friends or family nearby. I started dabbling in fanfiction just for fun, and when a friend suggested I write my own story, I decided to give it a try! The rest, as they say, is history!

 Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

 Not really. I sort of fumbled way through it on my own, to be honest. I did a lot of research and read a lot of craft books. Now, I’m part of a wonderful writing community and I have some amazing people in my corner. However, when I first started this journey, it was pretty much just me, my laptop, and a dream!

Do you exclusively write fantasy or have you written in other genres?

I’ve not written in other genres yet, but I’d like to in the future. I really don’t want to limit myself or put myself in a box. I know they say that writers should stick to one genre, but I’m not sure I agree with that. I plan to tell whatever story I’m most passionate about at the time, regardless of genre. Fantasy is definitely a soft spot for me, so I’m sure I will continue to write those types of stories, but I’d love to branch out as well.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

My schedule is 100% unpredictable. I have two school-age children and a baby. That in itself is a recipe for chaos! J I do the majority of my writing at night once the littles are asleep. It’s not ideal, but it’s the only time I can truly focus without interruptions. I do try to squeeze writing time in during the day if I can (i.e. while the baby naps), but I usually have other responsibilities to manage during that time (laundry, cleaning the house, paying bills, etc.) as well. It is VERY difficult to juggle everything, and honestly, I’m not sure I’ve yet to figure out a true work/life/writing balance yet. I’m constantly working towards that though. I think the key is readjustment and trial and error. Just keep changing things up until you find what works for you!

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

FOREVER. I’m seriously the world’s slowest drafter. When I wrote Keeper, I wasn’t agented and I didn’t have a publishing contract, so I wrote on my own timetable. It took me about three years to write the draft that ended up being the published book. For Seeker, the sequel to Keeper, I’m on deadline with my publisher. I have a little less than six months to write and turn in the draft. No pressure! Revisions tend to go much quicker for me because I enjoy the revision process so much more than drafting. I’ll likely get about two months or so to revise Seeker before it gets sent off for ARC printing.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I’m a big plotter, so I do an extensive outline and character profiles before I begin each book. If there’s research to be done, I typically try to do as much as I can ahead of time, but stuff always comes up while I’m drafting too.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

Haha! No, not really. I’m pretty boring! I do need music and hard candy though (jolly ranchers are my fav!).

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

Unfortunately, not. I’ve never been outside of the US, which is something I hope to remedy soon! There are so many places I’d love to see and visit—especially for writing inspiration!

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

For me, I don’t think it was one specific thing that inspired the story in Keeper. There were many things! I do remember the moment when a certain plot twist popped into my head. It changed EVERYTHING I had already written, but it was so exciting, I didn’t mind!

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I’m a pretty eclectic reader, but fantasy and historical are my favorites!

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

I didn’t do that in Keeper, nor do I have anything like that planned for Seeker. However, I do have another WIP that I plan to finish after Seeker is turned in. In that book, there are multiple easter eggs!

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Yes and no. Most of the characters are entirely their own people, but there are some bits and pieces I pulled from real like. For example, Lainey’s name comes from my middle name which is Elaine. I’m named after my grandmother and wanted to honor her in that way. Also, Maggie, Lainey’s best friend, is very similar to my real life best friend, Carrie. Carrie isn’t a comic book nerd, but she is fiercely loyal and protective of me and always has my back—just like Maggie always has Lainey’s! I also used my husband as inspiration for the villain of the story, the Master. That sounds really odd, doesn’t it? Lol! My husband has a pretty dry sarcastic wit and so does the Master. That’s where the similarities stop though!

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer. It’s her adult sci-fi and it’s one of my favorite books of all time. It’s so undervalued and appreciated, which is a shame because it’s an incredible book. I can’t recommend it enough.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Twilight, of course! (Also, by Stephenie Meyer)

 Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

 Not very often, but I have done it before!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

 I would definitely choose a fox! I think they’re cute and clever!

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Characterization. I always feel like I need to dig a little deeper with my characters. I usually get there, but it takes a while to really get inside their heads.

 What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

 Don’t be your own worst enemy. Writing a book is a difficult process, and it’s very easy to succumb to self-doubt and fear. Don’t stop yourself from doing what you love just because it’s scary. Keep writing and never stop. You can do it!

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Don’t read your reviews. I know the temptation is there, but don’t do it. Reviews are for readers not for authors, and while the good reviews are awesome, negative reviews can really hamper creativity. Have someone else send you the good ones, but stay away from the bad ones. Protect your creative headspace!

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

Helping other writers is super important to me! That’s why I started my YouTube channel so that I could share what I’ve learned on my journey with others. I post weekly writing advice videos on my channel. I also host a monthly twitter chat to help writers connect with other writers under the hashtag #Chance2Connect. The chat is on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 9pm CST.

Want to find out more about Kim?

 

Keeper

When a 200-year-old witch attacks her, sixteen-year-old bookworm Lainey Styles is determined to find a logical explanation. Even with the impossible staring her in the face, Lainey refuses to believe it—until she finds a photograph linking the witch to her dead mother.

After consulting a psychic, Lainey discovers that she, like her mother, is a Keeper: a witch with the exclusive ability to unlock and wield the Grimoire, a dangerous but powerful spell book. But there’s a problem. The Grimoire has been stolen by a malevolent warlock who is desperate for a spell locked inside it—a spell that would allow him to siphon away the world’s magic.

With the help of her comic-book-loving best friend and an enigmatic but admittedly handsome street fighter, Lainey must leave her life of college prep and studying behind to prepare for the biggest test of all: stealing back the book.

 

Get your copy of Keeper from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

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Author Spotlight: Brenda Drake

 Name:  Brenda Drake

Author of: Analise Rising (coming January, 2019)

The Library Jumpers series: Thief of Lies; Guardian of Secrets; Assassin of Truths

The Fated series: Touching Fate; Cursing Fate; Seeking Fate (coming June, 2018)

Thunderstruck

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

I was eight, I believe, and it was a story about a rabbit looking for his lost carrots. It was horribly illustrated, but my grandmother loved it.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

I always loved writing, but it wasn’t until I was home with the kids that I decided to give publishing my stories a try.

 

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

My journey to publishing started out without having anyone to talk to about writing. It wasn’t until I found Twitter and blogging did I find writer friends. I guess it’s been my many writer friends and my current editors who have read and critique my work that have helped and advised me on my publishing journey.

 

Do you exclusively write books with a  paranormal/fantasy twist  or have you written in other genres?

Currently, all my books have a paranormal/fantasy twist. I love being in the fantastical. I may try other genres one day, but for now I’m happy what I write. I think that’s the most important thing. You have to enjoy what you write because other parts of the publishing journey is difficult but writing should be enjoyable.

 

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

I’m so off balance when I’m writing a book. It’s all I concentrate on. I’ll write from morning to night, only stopping when I have to, when something needs to be taking care of. I keep trying to follow a schedule, but it never works. I’m just not good at being hemmed into a schedule. I write when the inspiration hits me.

 

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

It usually takes me four to six weeks to write a first draft and about a month for revisions. Then if I have time, I have a critique partner read it and revise it again.

 

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

Each book is different and has varying amounts of preparation and research. With fantasy, much of it is made up from your imagination and things come to me as I write. Mostly, I have to research real places that are in my books, maybe weapons and techniques for fighting and things like that. I do a plot graph of each book and it takes me several hours to only a few hours to plot out a story.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

I have to have some sort of noise going while I write. Usually, it’s music. Sometimes it’s a movie that inspires me that I’ve seen so many times that I know what’s going on in it because I don’t pay attention to it while I’m writing. It’s weird, but I think it has to do with feeling lonely in the quiet.

 

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

I haven’t done a pilgrimage. My dream is to do a tour of libraries around the world. That would be the best bucket list ever!

 

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

I can! With the Library Jumpers series it was in a book store and I came across a coffee table book on libraries. I thought how great it would be if I could jump into the photographs of each library to see them for real. For my Fated series, it was during a tarot card reading in New Orleans.

 

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I prefer reading young adult fantasy. It’s my favorite, but I read in all categories and genres. For me, it’s about the story. If it interests me, I’ll read it.

 

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

Yes, I do. No one has pointed them out yet, so I may have hidden them too well. Ha!

 

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

They’re somewhat inspired by people I know in real life. I borrow traits and quirks from the people around me.

 

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

I can’t think of any one book. There are so many books I feel that don’t get enough marketing behind them that should.

 

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

I’ve thought and thought over this one and I don’t know if it’s a guilty pleasure or not, but I loved Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

 

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Yes. And sometimes it’s sad. Ha!

 

As a writer, what animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

I’d say an owl. They’re beautiful, quiet, and they look as if they’re always contemplating their next move.

 

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Spelling and pronunciation. They’re my Kryptonite. After an accident, I had difficulties hearing sounds while growing up and it continues to this day. I’ll have my friends repeat a word several times so that I can get it. And I never mind being corrected because it helps me with it. I’m a little self-conscious speaking in front of large groups. I struggle, but I still do it.

 

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Learn your craft. Read widely. The key to success is perseverance. If you give up, you’ll never accomplish your dreams.

 

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Relax and enjoy the ride. Don’t spend too much on swag. And remember all authors get bad reviews.

 

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I founded Pitch Wars and #PitMad as a way of paying it forward to others. I also mentor in Pitch Wars sometimes. Giving back to the community is rewarding and will make you life long friends.

 

Interested in learning more about Brenda or her books?

 

Thunderstruck

Stevie Moon is famous…at least to the subscribers on her comic review vlog. At school, she’s as plain as the gray painted walls in the cafeteria. So when Blake, the hot new guy at school, shows an interest in her, she knows trouble when she sees it. Been there. And never doing it again.

As the son of the god Thor, Blake Foster’s been given an important mission—to recover the Norse god Heimdall’s sacred and powerful horn before someone uses it to herald in the destruction of the entire universe. But while Blake is great in a fight, the battlefield that is a high school’s social scene is another matter.

Blake knows his only choice is to team up with the adorable Stevie, but she’s not willing to give him even the time of day. He’ll need to woo the girl and find the horn if he hopes to win this war. Who better to tackle Stevie’s defenses than the demi-god of thunder?

Get Thunderstruck from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

The Library Jumpers Series:

 Thief of Lies

Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels-magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books-rescue them from a demonic hound.

Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.

Get Thief of Lies from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

Guardian of Secrets

Being a Sentinel isn’t all fairytales and secret gardens.

Sure, jumping through books into the world’s most beautiful libraries to protect humans from mystical creatures is awesome. No one knows that better than Gia Kearns, but she could do without the part where people are always trying to kill her. Oh, and the fact that Pop and her had to move away from her friends and life as she knew it.

And if that isn’t enough, her boyfriend, Arik, is acting strangely. Like, maybe she should be calling him “ex,” since he’s so into another girl. But she doesn’t have time to be mad or even jealous, because someone has to save the world from the upcoming apocalypse, and it looks like that’s going to be Gia.

Maybe. If she survives.

Get Guardian of Secrets from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

Assassin of Truths

The gateways linking the great libraries of the world don’t require a library card, but they do harbor incredible dangers.

And it’s not your normal bump-in-the- night kind. The threats Gia Kearns faces are the kind with sharp teeth and knifelike claws. The kind that include an evil wizard hell-bent on taking her down.

Gia can end his devious plan, but only if she recovers seven keys hidden throughout the world’s most beautiful libraries. And then figures out exactly what to do with them.

The last thing she needs is a distraction in the form of falling in love. But when an impossible evil is unleashed, love might be the only thing left to help Gia save the world.

Get Assassin of Truths from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

The Fated Series:

Touching Fate

One touch is all it takes…

Aster Layne believes in physics, not psychics. A tarot card reading on the Ocean City Boardwalk should have been a ridiculous, just-for-fun thing. It wasn’t. Aster discovers she has a very unscientific gift-with a simple touch of the cards, she can change a person’s fate.

Reese Van Buren is cursed. Like the kind of old-school, centuries-old curse that runs in royal families. Every firstborn son is doomed to die on his eighteenth birthday-and Reese’s is coming up fast. Bummer. He tries to distract himself from his inevitable death…only to find the one person who can save him.

Aster doesn’t know that the hot Dutch guy she’s just met needs her help-or that he’s about to die.
But worst of all…she doesn’t know that her new gift comes with dark, dark consequences that can harm everyone she loves.

Get Touching Fate from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

Cursing Fate

There’s something strange about the Layne sisters, and Wade Diaz wants nothing to do with them. Especially the one who ripped his heart out and set it on fire before tossing it in the garbage several months ago. Iris. He can’t even think her name without unconsciously rubbing the spot in his chest where she left a gaping hole. But now her sisters are claiming some evil spirit is after his soul, and Iris is the only one who can save him. Well, at least his heart would stop hurting, right? Didn’t sound so bad.

Iris Layne has always been the sweet sister. She’s kind to everyone, including her best friend Wade… Until she makes a horrible mistake and breaks his heart. All she wants is to go back to before ‘the dumping’. Of course, Wade would rather see her in hell first. But then Iris touches her sister’s tarot cards and unleashes an evil curse intent on playing a deadly game where no one Iris loves is safe, especially Wade.

How do you convince someone they need your help when you’re the one who hurt them most?

Get Cursing Fate from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

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Author Spotlight: Barbara Quinn

Name: Barbara Quinn

Author of: The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me (Lakewater Press)

Speed of Dark; Hard Head (Eternal Press)

36C; Slings and Arrows (DiskUs Publishing)

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

I started writing early; at five or six years old. I remember my brother and I put plays on for my parents and the rest of the family. The first piece I wrote that was “produced” was for my Girl Scout Troop.

It was a “fractured fairy tale” in which Evil Red Riding Hood tormented the sensitive Big Wolf. It was a musical. I wrote the songs and directed too! Much polite parental applause made me feel wonderful.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

I’ve never stopped writing. For a number of years I practiced law which paid the bills. I drafted laws and briefs and contracts but even then in the mornings I’d carve out a little time to work on a short story. I also worked for a few local papers covering trials and writing a legal column for laymen.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

The author Noel Hynd encouraged me to keep at my writing. He discovered a piece I had written in a writing area I used to manage and we became friends. I learned to write the parts I know from him and not worry about the rest, and to up the emotional impact of my story.

Do you exclusively write contemporary women’s fiction or have you written in other genres?

I’ve written in several genres: Fantasy, paranormal, romantic suspense, chick lit. I’m currently working on a steampunk novella. And a big women’s fiction that’s eating me alive.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

It’s very hard for me to find time to write, but I do set aside time in the late afternoons to sit down and let out whatever it is that is pent up. I’m not working full-time any longer, but life and family do occupy a lot of time. As does procrastination.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

A first draft usually takes me a year to complete, sometimes more. I can spend another year revising.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I do a lot of research as I hate to be inaccurate. I recently spent hours learning about hot air balloons. And for my Springsteen book I spent hours poring over his lyrics and listening to songs to find the right match to what my main character, Sofia, was experiencing.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

I need quiet to write. And not much life chaos spinning in my brain to distract me. Once I start rolling, I lose track of time and place. I used to set an alarm when my son was in school so I’d remember to pick him up. I began using an alarm after I did once get lost in a writing fog and forget the time. I rushed to school to find him waiting alone outside his classroom. Never again!

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

One of my books, Hard Head, has a scene set at the Palio in Siena, a fascinating horse race around the town square filled with intrigue and pageantry.. They bring in dirt to cover the square to make a track. I devoured every article I could about this ancient race. After publication, I visited Siena and enjoyed walking around the square. I didn’t see the Palio as it’s held only twice a year, but I did get to imagine it right there.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

For me inspiration is an amorphous fog that’s always with me and I never know what’s going to pop out or when. At some point everything starts to gel.  I can’t control it but I have to sit down and trust the process  can happen.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I read mostly fiction. I love anything by Anne Tyler, T Coraghessan Boyle, Christopher Moore.I also loved Enders Game by Orson Scott Card. My favorite books of late are the Elena Ferrante Neapolitan trilogy. What a consummate body of complex but entertaining fiction she’s written.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

I tend to name characters after people who have helped me out along the way. I do try to make those characters nice ones and not kill them off!

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

For sure! I often reach back in time to my own childhood and to the advice given by my parents and grandparents. The grandfather in Hard Head is a blending of my father and my grandfather. They were from Calabria and the Calabrese who are known for their stubborness and hard heads, literally and figuratively ,are called Testa Dura, which translates as hard head. The Summer Springstgeen’s Songs Saved Me is a tribute to the healing power of Bruce Springsteen’s music and I’ve always been a Bruce fan. My book 36C is a story of a gal who sells lingerie. I did that for a summer job once.  And Speed of Dark opens with a scene of kids pedaling their bikes behind a DDT truck that’s spreading it’s poisonous gas to kill mosquitos. Amazingly, the kids in the neighborhood, incuding me, used to do that.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

A Confederacy of Dunces. It’s the funniest novel. It’s received many awards,but I think it deserves more widespread acclaim.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Nope. Don’t have one. I’m a picky guilt-free reader.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Haw! I have a Google alert set for my name in case it’s ever mentioned. But there are other Barbara Quinns out there so I get more of those than about me!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

The dolphin! I see them quite a lot in Florida and at the Jersey shore. Recently I took a boat ride with a dog that knew where to find them and manatees. It was  fascinating and magical to see the interaction of these different caring and protective species.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

I wish I were more productive. I work very slowly.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Persist. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Enjoy! It’s real.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

For many years I published an online literary ezine called The Rose and Thorn. It was staffed by volunteer writers and we gave many, many, writers their start in fiction and poetry publication. I enjoyed that venture. Now, aspiring writers write to me asking for advice and I’m happy to help them along the path.

Interested in learning more about Barbara?

 

The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me 

Catching her husband with his face between the long, silky legs of another woman is the last thing Sofia expects–and on today of all days.

So, after scratching an expletive into his Porsche and setting the cheating bastard’s clothes on fire, she cranks up her beloved Bruce and flees, vowing never to look back.

Seeking solace in the peaceful beachside town of Bradley Beach, NJ, Sof is determined to divorce and start over. And, with the help of best friends, new acquaintances, a sexy neighbor, and the powerful songs of Springsteen, this may be the place where her wounds can heal. But, as if she hasn’t faced her share of life’s challenges, a final flurry of obstacles awaits.

In order to head courageously toward the future, Sofia must first let go of her past, find freedom, and mend her broken soul.

 

Get The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

Speed of Dark

There are some people you never forget. In the summer of 1964, Luke D’Angelo falls for one of them–a mysterious girl named Celeste. Like Luke, Celeste is an outsider struggling to find her identity, but unlike Luke, Celeste has special powers that have the potential to destroy everything Luke and his friends believe in.

Luke and his mentally challenged sister become fast friends with this curious girl. Set in upstate New York, in a town that is home to a shrimp cocktail plant that belches a foul-smelling tomato and fish fog, this coming of age tale about a girl with a dream and the teens who want to help her fulfill it, is a balance between the comic and the profound. The story resonates with the message that inside each of us is a light that burns so bright no dark can extinguish it. But at what cost?

 

Get Speed of Dark on Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

 

Hard Head 

A mother and daughter discover some things can be more deadly than the Mafia…

Rosanna Sweeney defies her father’s deathbed order that she never go to Italy. She and her teenage daughter journey across Italy to the Calabrian town of her father’s birth. In their quest, they find romance, learn about one another, and uncover a past that links them to secret societies far worse than the Mafia. Can they survive their dark legacy?

 

Get Hard Head on Amazon or from Barnes and Noble

 

 

 

36C 

Tressa Connell dreams of finding the right fellow, of putting her graphics art degree to work, and of traveling to Venice. The reality is that she’s stuck in a dead-end job selling lingerie to rail-thin women who prowl the high-end Manhattan boutique where she works. Hounded by a helmet-haired boss, befriended by a troubled Latina makeup artist, and wooed by a Jewish cop, Tressa also has a giant grandfather clock strapped to her back, a bushel of eggs in her arms, and her mother cracking a Pampers whip over her head.

 

Get 36C from Amazon 

 

 

 

Slings and Arrows 

When massage therapist Ellen D’Este separates from her husband her life begins to unravel. In an attempt to reinvent herself, she encounters a female spiritualist and a handsome stranger who turn her world upside down. Can she find love, faith and meaning in life or will she be the unwitting pawn of a charlatan?

 

Get Slings and Arrows from Amazon

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Author Spotlight: Gloria Chao

Name: Gloria Chao

Author of: American Panda (Simon Pulse) and Misaligned (coming fall 2019)

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

I remember writing and illustrating a lot of stories as a kid, and here’s a sneak peek at one of them involving a…dun dun dunnn…missing snowglobe!

 

 

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

My husband saw how passionate I was about writing and was the first to suggest I pursue it professionally. It had never occurred to me before that moment that it was an option for me, and his belief in my words was what set me on this path. There were years of doubts that followed, but there is no regret.

 

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

On a whim, I submitted my query to The Book Doctor’s NaNoWriMo Pitchapalooza, and The Book Doctors became an important part of my publishing journey. They gave me invaluable advice about where my book fit into the market, and it was their idea to age Mei down to seventeen and write the book as young adult. I am forever grateful to them for their expertise and for also being the first in the industry to believe in me.

 

Do you exclusively write contemporary YA or have you written in other genres?

Fantasy was my first YA love, and there will always be a special place for it even though contemporary is my main love now. Most of my future book ideas are YA contemporary, but sometimes I do have a fantasy idea that will pop in. For now, I want to continue exploring realistic fiction, Asian American characters, and struggles with identity, but perhaps I will write in another genre in the future.

 

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

Because I’m lucky enough to write full-time, I don’t find it too difficult to achieve a life/write balance. While drafting and revising, I tend to live and dream my book to the point where I’m always thinking about it, but it’s more because of passion than necessity. Sometimes I do have to work around the clock to meet deadlines, but it’s a privilege I’m grateful for.

 

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

American Panda was drafted in one month for NaNoWriMo. I revised for a year and a half on my own, two months with my agent, then another five months with my editor. Misaligned was drafted in spurts over a three-month period during which American Panda was released, and most likely I will be in revisions with my editor for five or six months. Misaligned feels like the speed of light compared to American Panda!

 

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

For me, the book doesn’t start flowing until I find the protagonist’s voice. Most of my preparation involves free writing to try to figure out exactly who they are and how they talk. For Misaligned, I also did some research on 19th Century China!

 

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

Hmmm…my writing habits are: cup of tea, music in the background, two screens (one for Word, one for research). Because I live in Chicago, I need fingerless typing gloves and a mug warmer in the winter (and sometimes spring because our cold season is way too long!).

 

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

Nothing interesting, but for Misaligned, my husband and I have explored Indiana farmland. I’m hoping one of my future books will be set someplace more tropical 😉

 

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? For American Panda, it was my husband telling me I needed to tell my story combined with my desire to write the book I needed as a teen. For Misaligned, my mother told me about a newspaper article she’d read describing a phenomenon in China. I immediately thought, This needs to be in a book, and the idea formed from there. My third book idea actually also started from a newspaper article.

 

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? YA contemporary is my main love. Some favorites: The Hate U Give, The Sun is Also a Star, Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, They Both Die at the End, Starfish, You’ll Miss Me When You’re Gone, Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, It’s Not Me, It’s You.

 

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? Yes! I leave a lot of inside jokes to my husband in my writing. I also have some jokes for my family in there.

 

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? Yes, almost all of my characters are inspired at least in part by people I know well, people I’ve met in passing, and people I’ve heard about from others.

 

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. Starfish. I know it was a William Morris finalist and is critically acclaimed, but I think it deserves even more attention.

 

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. Twilight!

 

Be honest: Do you Google yourself? I don’t. I just don’t want to know.

 

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus? Panda, of course!

 

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Write your story and focus on what makes you unique!

 

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Congratulations, you did it!!! Figure out what works for you, and it might be different from others (i.e. how much social media, whether or not to look at reviews, etc).

 

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?
When I have time, I offer critiques of queries, Twitter pitches, and opening pages to aspiring writers. I also have a blog where I give my tips and share my publishing journey: https://gloriachao.wordpress.com/blog/. All the resources I used during my journey can be found here: https://gloriachao.wordpress.com/writers-nook/.

 

Want to know more about Gloria?

 

American Panda 

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth—that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

From debut author Gloria Chao comes a hilarious, heartfelt tale of how unlike the panda, life isn’t always so black and white.

 

Get your copy of American Panda from Amazon or Barnes & Noble  

 

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What Do I Really Know? aka- Queen of the Underqualified?

I opened my email and there it was. My first invitation to appear, as an author, and give a presentation.

My mind immediately filled with images of myself, microphone in hand, perhaps nestled into a cozy leather chair on stage as I gaze upon those who’ve come to listen intently to the carefully crafted bit of wisdom I have to offer them. That lasted about 3.5 seconds and then terror flooded through me. What wisdom?!

I’m finally comfortable calling myself an author, but what do I possibly have to teach others? What topic can I offer that won’t bore a group to tears (including my family, who I’m fairly confident would come just to ensure I do have an audience!). I’ve called all the authors that I usually badger with my neurotic–and endless!–questions (nobody answered, apparently they have lives!).

So my current list of potential topics is:

  • Pairing Snacks With Reading Genres
  • Reading To Escape Responsibility & Recreation
  • Writing: I Did It & You Probably Can Too
  • Hi, I’m An Author. Any Questions?
  • Ascertaining The Primitive Implications of the Transcendental Elegy on the Post-Modernistic Annihilist (but I think that’s for a very specific audience)

 

I’m still tossing these around, but I’m definitely open to suggestions.

 

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Author Spotlight: Jeri Baird

 

Name: Jeri Baird

Author of: Tokens and Omens; Curses and Warfare (Jolly Fish Press)

Upcoming:  Barnabas and Bird Run Away From the Circus

 

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

In grade school, I was obsessed with writing stories where I flew to Mars. But my first attempt at writing as an adult was a chapter book called Brother Rabbit, Brother Skunk where a skunk was adopted into a family of rabbits.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

I’ve always loved reading, but I was in my 40’s before it occurred to me that I could write. I was in a group setting where the ice-breaker question was “What is your secret dream?” It surprised me that what came out was “I want to be a published children’s author”. It was few more years before I actually started writing.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

Lots of people helped me become a better writer through workshops and critique groups. SCBWI has been instrumental in my writing journey.

Do you exclusively write young adult or have you written in other genres?

I write young adult and middle grade.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

It’s hard to achieve any kind of balance when writing a first draft. I’m either obsessed or too tired from work to do anything but think about it! I can revise in short time frames, but first drafts, for me, require time and energy. And I frequently have to go somewhere else to write, as home distractions keep me from being productive. I don’t want to know how much I’ve invested in local coffee shops!

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

Each book is different. I wrote and revised Tokens over a few years. Curses was done in a year (I had a contract to fulfill). Barnabas and Bird was written in two months and didn’t take much revising.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

With Tokens, I read a lot about the middle ages and the Romani people. Eventually, I abandoned that setting in favor of a tribal one. I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on researching names!

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

Not a big secret – I always write by hand with a pencil and notebook. I don’t plot, so I seldom know ahead of time what’s going to happen. I usually “get” the end about 25% of the way in, and I write toward that. I’m often surprised at what happens. Sometimes I’m appalled at a plot twist, but I leave it in, thinking I can always take it out later. I’ve never taken one out. Poor Zephyr in Curses had one of those.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

No, but I’d love to see England, Scotland, and Ireland in person!

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

When I’m close to finishing a novel, I always get an idea for my next book. Who knows where those come from? Not me. My novels have varied from contemporary to fantasy.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

Fantasy is always my favorite, but I also read contemporary, especially in middle grade. You can check out my Goodreads bookshelf to see all the books I’ve read in the last few years. I often re-read my favorites. And here’s a quirk – I almost always read the end before I get there. Especially in a tense section, I need to know that things are going to turn out all right. It never spoils the book for me to know how it ends.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

Yes.  🙂  What? You think I’m going to tell?

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Nope, but there are parts of myself in each character I write.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

Stoner by John Williams. I loved it so much, I’ve read it twice. No one I’ve recommended it to has had anything good to say about it.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Fifty Shades of Gray

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Of course! I want to know what other people will see if they look me up.

As a writer, what animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

A spider. Metaphysically, the spider is the guardian of language and the magic of writing.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Setting is something I struggle with – finding a balance between too much and too little.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Read.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Write the next book. (couldn’t do it in one word!)

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I share my story of becoming a “published author”. It wasn’t quick or easy, and I hope I encourage other writers to never give up. I remain a part of my critique group, letting the others know that I still need help, and I’m always happy to meet with aspiring authors.

Where can people find more about you?

 

Tokens and Omens 

In Puck’s Gulch, sixteen-year-olds undergo a dangerous trial known as the Quest. During a time of magic, Fate hands out tokens and omens based on their behavior. Zander trusts Fate. Alexa only trusts herself. Now, Fate has given them each a special gift—Zander sees secrets he doesn’t want, and Alexa’s thrilled to find she can control events through her embroidery scenes. After Zander and Alexa each earn a omen that makes surviving the quest nearly impossible, they must break the rules and challenge Fate together. If they don’t, one will die. And Fate has made it clear—she won’t be cheated.

 

Get Tokens and Omens on Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

 

 

Curses and Warfare

The day twins Zander and Alexa became adults, Moira, the embodiment of fate, revealed that Zander would become a leader of warriors and Alexa would be a fortuneteller of great power. Moira instructed the twins to use their talents to prepare their village, Puck’s Gulch, to fend off an imminent invasion.

Now, six months later, Zander is struggling to convince the quarrelsome villagers of the impending danger and unite them in a single cause to protect the village. Meanwhile, Alexa struggles to get along with her mentor, the fortuneteller Melina Odella. As the battle draws near, the twins and their few allies are further than ever from their goals, and all the while traitors lurk in the shadows, taking every opportunity to bring Puck’s Gulch to its knees.

Get Curses and Warfare on Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

Barnabas and Bird Run Away From the Circus

In the tradition of timeless stories, BARNABAS AND BIRD RUN AWAY FROM THE CIRCUS blends humor and poignancy to create a story of friendship and loss.

Barnabas is self-centered and a bit too verbose. His best friend, Bird, loves him anyway. Devastated to learn he’ll never grow big enough to join his family in the world’s largest elephant act, Barnabas struggles to show Papa he can be big in other ways. Challenged by his older brother, Barnabas embarks on a quest to prove he’s brave. Of course, his tiny canary friend joins him.

With top hat, goggles, a map, and a lucky peanut, the duo fly across the country on a raft guided by a wind that whispers destiny, destiny. Barnabas encounters a whale, a herd of bison, crows, and cows, but they aren’t enough to make him feel brave. The duck, duck, and goose confuse him with their questions. And those s-s-s-snakes on the island in the Great Lakes! Shudder!

Then, Barnabas discovers Bird’s big secret. It’s almost too late before Barnabas learns that becoming a true friend might be the bravest thing he could do.

(coming soon)

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On Cocky Novels, Cocky Authors and #Cockygate

Something happened over the weekend. Actually the “happening” of it has been in the works for a while, it was the “blowing up” of the situation that happened this weekend.

As a disclaimer, let me say that I don’t believe I’ve read or typed the word “cocky” so much in such a short span of time as I did over the weekend (and then while writing this!).

Now, for those who didn’t hear about “Cockygate” let me offer you a condensed version (for all the dirty details you can certainly search the #cockygate hashtag on Twitter!):

Claiming Cocky

Romance author Faleena Hopkins apparently secured a trademark on the word “Cocky”. It’s not clear if her trademark is only on the word “Cocky” in a specific font or if she’s truly secured a trademark on the word in any font (which seems the case based on the registered trademark). What seems to be undisputed is that the word “Cocky”, because of her trademark, can no longer be used in any romance e-book title or series title.

 

 

Faleena Hopkins then took it upon herself to contact authors of books with “Cocky” in the title and threatened legal action (note, Faleena Hopkins NOT her attorney, sent out the threats):

 

 

 

 

The authors who were contacted were understandably upset. They’ve written books, marketed them, had them listed under the current titles for quite a while (and trust me when I say that marketing and promotion is a time-consuming endeavor!). Suddenly, this chick is contacting them, telling them they have to change the titles of their books or face legal action. Some of them reached out for support, or with questions, (I’m not sure where the actual spark came in) and an explosion erupted throughout the romance writing community, as well as the creative arts community at large. New hashtags were born (#cockygate, #ByeFaleena, #FreeCocky) and the outrage spread.

“Of all the Cocky and bull things…”

So, why is this a thing? Cocky is one word, right? Well, yes, it’s one word. One very big word (no play on words intended!) because of the implications…

First, let me say that I understand branding and that Faleena Hopkins has an entire series called The Cocker Brothers of Atlanta, and each individual book includes “Cocky” in the title. She claims that her readers were becoming confused by all the “Cocky” book titles and they were purchasing books they thought were hers, only to find out that wasn’t the case (which, a- maybe the readers can check the author name before purchasing a book they think is hers and b- you can always return a book if it isn’t what you thought you were buying…). Her claim is that she pursued the trademark to secure her branding and the integrity of her series.

Why the problem? Well, one person is taking ownership of a word. A word!! By pursuing a trademark on the word “Cocky” she has prevented any other romance author from using the word “Cocky” in their e-books. This is a big deal when you consider the genre and subgenres this affects. The romance industry, and specifically the more, erm…sexy works within that category produces a substantial number of titles every month! One of the things that draws readers in is the imagery the title creates. If you’re searching for a spicy romance novel the word “Cocky”, and its double entendre, leaves no doubt about what kind of novel you’re getting. The number of books with “Cocky” in the title is staggering. I just entered the word into Amazon as a book search. There are over 1,000 results!

Not only is Faleena Hopkins personally threatening authors, she’s involving Amazon and authors are having their book listings removed. This is an action that’s notoriously difficult and time-consuming to get reversed, even under the best of circumstances. 

 

The writing industry is, in general, one of the most supportive peer groups I’ve ever experienced. It’s full of cheerleaders, well-wishers, mentors, collaborators, and people who will, at any minute remind you that we’re all in this together. One writer (and I’m kicking myself for not saving this message!) said she was appalled to find out, upon the release of her book, that another with the same title had been released just before her own. She contacted the other author, explained what happened, and offered to change her title. The other author told her “No” and wished her the best of luck with her book.

There are a number of books in the world that share a title name: The Cloud Atlas (by both David Mitchell and Liam Callanan); Possession (by A.S. Byatt as well as Ann Rule); Forever (by Pete Hamill and also by Judy Blume); Elsewhere (by Richard Russo and again by Gabrielle Zevin) just to name a few. Imagine how quickly the word choices would dwindle if each book had to utilize unique words, or a unique combination of words.

This issue will have a strongest impact on book titles with 1-3 words, and specifically in the romance e-book trade. Though, if I were to re-title and release my own book as A Cocky That Defies the Dark (not that my publisher would go for that, lol!), I’d be in trouble.

Now imagine the implications of authors being allowed to trademark individual words.

What if a mystery author were to trademark the word “Murder”?

What if a sci-fi author trademarks the word “Space” for a title?

How long would it be until books were titled “Book #…” or “Book of…”, well at least until someone trademarks the word “Book” in a title.

This is all to say that to actually pursue the trademark of a single word in a title is a selfish move. It says that you put more value on yourself and your work than on anyone else in the world. To imagine that you’re entitled to the sole, proprietary use of a word–a word!!!!–is the most self-centered thing I’ve heard in a very long time.

And speaking of cocky….

And so, while the romance writing community was blowing up Twitter (and Facebook) this weekend, Faleena Hopkins, romance author and trademark owner of the word Cocky (which is now apparently under appeal with the US Patent Office), posted on Facebook about how she was being attacked online…while also posting this on Twitter. 

 

Doesn’t really strike me as someone who feels attacked, or even like maybe she misjudged herself a wee bit.

So, that’s the update, and my 2 cents worth, on the #Cockygate issue. The lesson I’d like to leave you with is that words are intangible things that we all use to express ourselves and to share our life experiences. Without the free use of language our ability to create and express ourselves is hindered.

Keep words free. Don’t be an asshole!

 

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