Saturday, July 23, 2016


So I've made an official website for author stuff. This blog is still pretty attached to my personal life and I'd like to draw the line a little clearer, especially as a military spouse in these ugly times. Might leave what's here up, though. Haven't quite decided.

You can find me over at

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Talko Tuesday, July 19th 2016

I once ran a half marathon where toward the end, the course ran under the highway. Right before you went into the underpass, you saw the high school where everything ended. It was right there. Just on the other side of the highway.

You could hear the music.

You could hear the cheers.

It was so close you could taste it.

But when you came out of the tunnel, the path didn't go up and right, it went down and left. That's when I realized the last mile marker had been 11, which meant 2 miles to go. So I plunged into the woods, trying to ignore the sense that I was losing elevation in addition to going the wrong way. That feeling melted away, however, when the path finally turned back and I saw the treeline. I burst into the sunshine with a "Yessssss!"

And that's when I saw it. The path didn't look exactly like this:

But it was close.


Back and forth.

For another mile and a half.

And that's what my copy edits experience was like.

I got the manuscript back from the publisher about 9 days earlier than expected, but also about 2 days before the "very earliest" I could reasonably expect it. I had until July 14th (2 weeks) to turn them back in. This is not a complaint. 

Ever flexible, I made a plan of attack: I would go through the manuscript in the first week, making (or denying) corrections, then I would make a "clean" copy with changes accepted/rejected and comments deleted. After a couple days off from the book, I would read that on my kindle, making notes of places to check, change, or smooth. I did all this while prepping for a road trip and to teach a 2.5 hour class at the writing center. 'Cause I'm Batman!

Everything was on track until I came home from teaching my class, totally braindead, but happy. I had an email from the head editor of the publisher saying wonderful things about all the revisions... but... well, to sum up, she wanted stuff added. Like two chapters worth. I was too fried to react more than this: 

We're gonna need a bigger book.

And I'm not complaining. I totally wanted to do the things. But I only had five days until the deadline, and I still needed to read the manuscript again and also drive 600 miles with five kids in a minivan. So I asked for more time, which they gave.

Here's the cool part.

This road trip was so grandparents could take 3/5 of my kids camping, leaving me with two teens that mostly wanted to be left alone. I had more free time than I've had in years.

We went hiking, we picked blueberries, we went to a theme park. And I still hit the ORIGINAL deadline of July 14th. Medal. T-shirt. Banana.

Look at me and my bad self!


And since this blog entry has gone long, I'll just link to my other news item, that I have a (not-final) jacket description of the book posted on Goodreads. Oh, and a new title if you didn't know.

And last but not least...


I was set for Fall 2017, but the release is now set for... 

June 20th, 2017

Are you excited? I'm excited!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Talko Tuesday, June 14th 2016

Okay so nothing happened that changed anything this week, but a lot of things are happening. Got it?

I'll explain. First off, this baby finally came:

It may shock you to realize how much work I put into editing my manuscript for the publisher when I hadn't actually signed the contract (also: hadn't received a dime), but it's okay. Contracts, especially from bigger publishers, take lots of time because lawyers charge by the hour and bigger companies have more to lose. So this is standard procedure. I sweated blood over the last couple months to make this book better for them not because I was worried they'd drop me or something (though frankly, every debut author has this fear deep down), but because I trusted my agent and my editors and my publisher enough to know this was all going through.

That being said, signing the contract was a huge relief and getting paid will be pretty nice.

(I'll explain how advances and stuff work in another post.)

As a subtext, it was worth noting a section of the contract was struck out, namely the part saying I would deliver the revised manuscript by such-and-such date. Translation: what I turned in a couple weeks ago was acceptable to the level that only copy-edits (style, grammar, punctuation, typos) are left. My edits are good to go.

**wipes sweat off brow**

Copy edits will arrive in a few weeks. Good news: They will come at a time best for my schedule. Bad news: Copy edits are waaaaaaay more complicated than they sound.

Fun news: The book is done enough that the marketing team at the publisher is going through it. So far they love it (yay!), but from other authors I know this means soon there will be copies going out for cover blurbs, and I will be having talks with a publicist at some point. These were also things I don't think could really start happening until the contract was signed.

Meanwhile I have lovely things to focus on. The Swankies (debut authors of 2017) have an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) sharing network, and I got my first, Frostblood, this past week. I'll be reviewing it on Goodreads soon, but I'll say now that I liked it, it was easy to read, and I look forward to buying my (soon-to-be) 12 year-old a copy when it comes out. It safe and appropriate for kids that young (many YA books are not).

Otherwise I am editing (with a green pen) a chapter book written by the daughter of a friend. She's young, but she's got real talent. I only wish I could help her faster, but it takes focus for more than 5 minutes, which has been hard to find lately. Beta reading - which I am doing for another Swanky right now, and the book is sooooo good so far - is easier to do in small snatches, as was reading Frostblood.

Also coming up soon I will be heavy-beta reading the manuscript of a USNA classmate. Looking forward to that.

Been writing bits for my work in progress (writer slang is WIP) and more on what I hope will be a sequel to this book that's being published. Need to focus on the latter, probably, though the other one is good for preventing fatigue. Getting ready to teach my first class at the local writing center, too! (Can you see why I'm glad copy edits aren't coming for a few more weeks?)

So that's what I meant by nothing has happened, but things are happening.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What I'm Reading Wednesday, Volume I

Here is a list of books I've picked up in the last week. I tend to leave them scattered around the house and pick them up according to mood.

On the Meldon Plain by Pam Brondos
         Good, but a bit slow at this point. I lost my copy under a pile of papers and recently just found it while cleaning my desk.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (finished)
        Predictable as the first book, though I liked it better than A Court of Thorns and Roses (Tamlin was kind of lame as a love interest and the whole "3 tests" was just overdone IMO), but this is not a young adult book. Very explicit sex.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
        Very easy to read. Also fairly easy to put down.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
        Every time I pick this up, it makes me depressed about my own writing.

Henna House by Nomi Eve (finished)
        Incredible historical fiction about Yemeni Jews in the early 20th century

The Crescent Spy by Michael Wallace (finished)
        Good Civil War historical fiction. I only wish I knew how much of it was true!

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
        Enjoying the world building, but it's easy to put down for me.

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas.
         Why isn't this grabbing me? Not uninteresting or unpleasant, just very easy to put down and forget.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Talko Tuesday: June 7, 2016

I'm going to try to make Tuesdays a day for updates and news.

Soooo.... edits.

Yeah. Been through 2 rounds now.

Intense. Brain-frying. It is so much harder to do things with other people depending on me. It's all made worse by the fact that it usually takes me 2 tries to get something right. Always has.

Which makes me suspect the stuff I just turned in will need more than a curry comb.

And I can't say more because I'm just waiting to hear back whether it's good enough to head into copy edits.


There's other things going on behind the curtain that I don't know about yet because I've been focusing on these edits. I'm in this weird limbo of not being able to do anything other than the edits, which is probably a main reason I've thrown myself so hard against that wall.

I wish I had more to say on the book front, but maybe next week I'll have more.

In other news, I'm going to be teaching two classes at the local writing center this summer! Not only that, but I have students (plural!) signed up in both!

Also your local Barnes & Noble is hosting B-Fest this weekend for young adult books. Even though I don't have anything to give or say, I'm participating as a volunteer. Obviously I have a vested interest in making this a success so they do it next year.

What I'm working on most outside DAS BOOK:
           A Cinderella retelling I call A Rather Unusual Shoe.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I'm on Goodreads and so is DAS BOOK

Superbusytimes going on right now, and on top of that, the Edit Letter of Doom has arrived.

Just kidding, it's not that bad.

help me

I'm 2000- 1901% sure that the title is going to change, but you can do something very cool RIGHT NOW. You can go to Goodreads and mark my book as "Want to Read."

Do eeeeet.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Behind the Scenes: Preparing to Prepare

During the various parts of this process, I feverishly researched what the next step would be like. So while I was revising, I also beefed up on the query process. Before even I had my SuperAgent, I researched submissions to publishers, because what else are you going to do while waiting weeks to hear back?

Not much info on submission, by the way, other than it sucks because it's like Fight Club: First Rule is you don't talk about it. At any given moment you could have someone making a career altering decision about your book and the last thing they want to find when they look you up is your TMI despair or temper tantrum on a blog or in a tweet. You can't vent on how many rejections or close calls you've had. Sometimes this lasts years.

I'd like to throw back the curtain on that process, but I'm sorry not sorry for not having a lot of details to tell- my book sold very quickly (about 10 weeks, a couple weeks of negotiating some details, and we announced about 6 weeks later), and for that I am endlessly thankful. Like, every-day-prayers-of-thanks grateful.

But the desert of the submission process is made even more difficult by the lack of info on the next steps of editing, cover design, interior design, marketing... I get dizzy just thinking about it. I was recently inducted into the Swanky 17s, which is a group for debut authors releasing in 2017 (btw- I still can't believe I can call myself an "author"). As of right now, I'm not listed as an author, but everything is volunteer-run and there is so much going on that things take time- no complaints. We have private forums to discuss news and exchange info and support freely.

It. Is. Amazing.

And we're in different places in the publication pipeline- some are getting ARCs and copy edits soon. Information: I haz it!

But it's not public, so as I go along, I want to share what's going on with it as I can. A lot of things will be after the fact. Everyone's process is going to be different- some books need very little editing and some need complete re-writes, so my journey will not be yours. It will be something you can read about which I could not.

So my status now?

-Waiting on my editing package (NOT a complaint, this shizz takes time)
-Building my Goodreads Author page (clicky HERE... someone please tell me is this doesn't work)
-Brainstorming possible title changes (want to have the best one, which may be the original, but we won't know until we think about it real hard)
-Blogging (check that box today)
-Supporting other 2017 Authors
-Reading and reviewing other books (which is HARD when you read something you don't like)
-Mentally screaming in joy and terror as I see book bloggers tweet their excitement over my book
-Writing more stuff

Wish I had more exciting things to report, but I'll settle for knowing plenty of excitement is on the way.

Friday, March 4, 2016

2nd Book, Same as the 1st... Except It's Not

I wrote my first book in six weeks.*** I can neither confirm nor deny that I was on prescription stimulants at the time, nor will I recommend using them for literary purposes - 5 Hour Energy works just fine. Coming up on the two year anniversary of taking that first step, I can safely say the most important thing that happened was I broke down the barrier that kept me from writing. I’d always had a vivid imagination, and I’d often fantasized about writing one of my stories out and seeing it on the shelves of a local bookstore, but I never got my horse out of the gate. Hell, I never got on the horse.

It was speed and reckless abandon which allowed me to finish the first draft, and having finished, made it possible for me to take the next steps. That and incredible ignorance of just how much more work was ahead of me. I thought it was mostly a matter of showing it to friends (which is terrifying enough) and getting feedback on where I needed to fix a few details. I didn’t realize I would have to show my work to complete strangers and let them rip it apart where it was weak. And it needed ripping. I did so many things wrong.

Side note: Probably the best thing I did was listen to those critique partners and read blogs on the craft that reinforced that my CPs were correct. I’ve lost count of the number of potential CPs that did not like the advice I gave (even super solid advice, like “don’t use song lyrics in your manuscript, especially current, popular ones,”) and dumped me, saying “my friends like my story, so I’m going with them.” Well, my friends liked my earlier drafts, too, which were, to put it euphemistically, poopy.

Here’s where those 3 stars above come in.

***It took a full year before my manuscript was worthy of consideration.***

That’s right: 6 weeks of writing, 46 weeks of revisions before my agent picked me up.

Followed by 16 more weeks of revisions before my agent submitted it to publishers.

My book will hit shelves in approximately 18 months. Do you know what will happen between now and then?


A lot of revisions.

By the time you feast your eyes on pages of my words, they will bear passing resemblance to the vomit of the first draft. Because that’s what it was: vomit.

Which brings me to my current situation. I’ve got a sequel to DAS BOOK about ¾ through its first draft. There are various reasons it’s taken so much longer, and many of those reasons are legit: the first book is changing enough that it affects the second, I didn’t want to put too much hope and work into something so dependent on the questionable success of the first, I’ve been busy revising said first book, I’ve been busy with life and other story ideas. So let’s set that 2nd book aside and look at my other project.

I love this other story. I’ve told the plot to a few people and they say it sounds awesome. I’ve learned so much in the last couple years that I know the first draft will have fewer issues than the previous first draft, and I’ll be better at revising. I’ve shared a few rough chapters, and they’ve gotten thumbs up all around.

When did I start writing it? About five months ago. How much of the first draft is written? About 25k words. Excuses include: going back and changing the POV, working on DAS BOOK, pt ZWEI, holidays, life, and the recent happenings with DAS BOOK. None of these excuses is good enough.

A hard truth applies to both projects, legit excuses or not: Now that I know just how primordial that first ooze was, it’s harder to just fling it all at scrivener like I did the first time. I have to give myself permission to write something that I already know will suck in order to get it done, and that, my friend, is a very tough thing to do. Kind of ironic, too, since I’ve learned I love revising.

This is why the second book is harder than the first.

I don’t really have a solution other than forcing myself to sit down and just write a scene that feels a bit inspired. The ones I don’t feel like writing can come in revisions, when I have a better idea of whether they’re actually necessary. It would probably help to be able to lock myself in a room with no disturbances for several hours (several days would be ideal), but too many people depend on me for things like food and making sure bills get paid.

If I don’t have that reckless abandon that got the job done, I’ll just have to fake it until I do. In the meantime, buy stock in 5 Hour Energy. Mama’s got a book to write.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

My First Visit to the Outside

Today I was featured on Michelle Hauck's blog in her regular series on "Getting the Call."

Can I just say that it was barely yesterday that I would read these things and ask myself what it would be like to be one of the authors featured? Well, now I know.

And it's awesome.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The BIG Announcement

I'm just going to put this here.

And let JD and Turk react for me.

I have a book deal. With a Big 5 publisher (Macmillan).

Mega-thanks to Super Agent Valerie and Team DLG. It's all more than I dared hope for.

I... really don't have anything to add to that, except...

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The YA Stigma

I hesitate to write this because I don't want to come across as whining or like I think of myself as a victim. I mean, I've experienced true sexism and lots of ill or patronizing treatment from people because of my religion (lemming!), my military service (baby killer!), my current status as a military spouse (leech!), the fact that I'm from Indiana (hick!), my large family (breeder!), my body (baby got back!), my opinions, et cetera, so this is really just one more twig in the bonfire of things I don't really care about. I guess I'm writing this to share my experience.

Truly, though, I have a wonderful support network or friends and family who are cheering me on through this process. The only opinions I really care about are theirs, and they're all positive. (You guys rock!) This topic doesn't bring me down at all, so I'm not fishing for affirmation.

But I've recently started putting myself out to strangers as a writer. Hopefully by the end of next year I'll be able to use the A-word. In the meantime if I say I write, people often get a spark of interest in their eyes, and they ask what kind of things I write. So I say "Young Adult" or "Fantasy." Or both, if I'm feeling talkative.

And a lot of times that spark goes right out.

Maybe it's because that's just not their choice of reading material. That's cool. Did the 70 year old guy really expect I wrote the bass fishing articles he loves? Once my book is a REAL THING, will I be surprised if that guy has never heard of, let alone never read, my story? No. Nor will it bother me.

What's slightly annoying is when disappointment or contempt replaces that spark. Well, I guess that's what everyone's writing these days. Maybe what bugs me here (other than the fact it's not true) is I've never really been trendy, so that goes against my every instinct. That and the silent Oh, I thought you were a real writer.

That response isn't even a fly in the ointment, though, because most people have no idea what it takes to write a book and get it published or what the trends really are. Their opinions are simply ignorant, and not maliciously so.

No, what annoys me more is when I get it from other writers- because they know better. Some of it's envy. I went to a writers conference last year where within five minutes of telling someone, I became widely known as "the lady who has an agent." No joke, I heard myself talked about and pointed out. I'd sit at an empty table and boom, suddenly five people were plunking down their buffet plates or dropping their coats on chairs near mine. Over and over I told my story of getting representation and passed around a copy of the "magical query letter."

And quite often, the grapes would turn sour.

Oh, I wish I could write with the trends. (Really? Can you name one fantasy book that has no magic in it? I can't.)

I'm so over my teen years, there's no way I could go back to that angst and drama. I guess I'm just too grown up for that mindset. (Just because my character is 17 doesn't mean she can't face matters of life and death. Also, as Heinlein said "Old age is not an accomplishment, and youth is not a sin.")

They didn't have those kinds of books when I was young enough to write them. (1. Yes, they did, because I read them when I was a teen. 2. I'm no spring chicken; I have kids old enough to read my book.)

Writing for teens is easy. You just need a love triangle and some sex. And a vampire. (My book has none of those things.)

Fantasy is easy. You get to make up everything. (Yeah, making up geography, climate, two religions, and the history and military structures of four nations by researching dozens of cultures, plus the usual names and physical characteristics of characters is a piece of cake.)

Agents just don't want real stuff anymore. (Well, quite a few weren't interested in my fake stuff, so I don't know what to tell you there.)

That doesn't sound like anything I'd read. (That's fine with me; there's lots of books and authors I don't like. But that doesn't mean you can't learn from my experience.)

Really, though, most reactions are positive, so those are the ones I care about. I had to think really hard to remember those comments I listed. As I said above, I've experienced the same belittling of other achievements and aspects of my life, so it rolls off my back. It's just human nature to degrade what we don't or can't have, whether or not we want it for ourselves. I try to be charitable, because there's a lot of discouragement and jealousy in writing (and life)- I've experienced heavy doses of it myself. It's hard to get published, and I'm very aware of how quick everything has gone for me, so I try to be sensitive to those who have been trying for years.

I do have a wide background, though, and a pretty broad range of knowledge and experience. I get asked a lot why I chose to write a YA fantasy instead of, say, a historical or military or sci-fi novel.

It's a fair question, but the answer is the same as why I have a kid with red hair: That's what I made with what I had at the time. The next one could be very different or similar, though, as it's a part of me, you'll probably be able to tell it's mine.