Friday, December 6, 2013

Author Interview: Michelle Bellon of ROGUE ALLIANCE

Today we're hearing from Michelle Bellon, who just released Rogue Alliance. Check out this whirlwind description!

Trying to escape a horrific past, Shyla has immersed herself in life as a tough cop in the bustle of LA. When the case of a lifetime takes her back to her hometown of Redding, she is thrown into a world of organized crime, deceit, and bitter reminders of her childhood. 

As Shyla’s path crosses that of Brennan, a troubled sidekick to the ringleader she’s intent on taking down, she discovers he has a past even darker than hers and she is forced to re-evaluate everything she believes about herself, her job, and what she knows about right and wrong. 

Can she face the demons of her upbringing and learn to trust again? Her life will depend on it.

And now we'll hear from Michelle herself!

Q: First of all, let's start with the good stuff. Everyone loves a good publication story. Tell us yours! 

A: The long version or the short version? (laughs)

Let’s see…at first, it took me many years of toying with the idea of writing a book before I actually made the decision to take it seriously. Once I did, I realized the only way to get the job done was to take a disciplined approach and commit to writing at little every day.

Six months later I had a finished product. It was a complete mess and needed edited within an inch of its life, but it was a book! Unfortunately, I was clueless about the industry and knew absolutely zero about what it took to publish a novel.

After researching for hours on end and writing query letters until my eyes felt like they would fall out of my head, I began to reach out to agents and publishers. This is when the rejections began and my scope of what I was trying to accomplish became very concrete. I was swimming in a sea of aspiring writers who were taking the flourishing e-book industry by the horns. By this time I was already well into writing my second book and was very excited about ideas for the third. Writing was no longer an option. It was necessary. I loved it.

So, I decided that I not only wanted to write but I wanted to write really well. I read everything I could on the craft of writing. I joined critique groups both online and offline. I went to conferences and took workshops. I immersed myself knowing I had a lot to learn.

The first small press to offer a contract was Fingerpress Publishing out of London. They signed my YA, Embracing You, Embracing Me which won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award in its category in the summer of 2012. Due to their aggressive schedule they were unable to acquire my other books so I went back to the drawing board and found Old Line Publishing. They contracted to publish my novel, His Salvation, romance suspense, and The Complexity of a Soldier, commercial fiction. I was less than pleased with the way they treated their authors and decided not to pursue further negotiations with them.

 For my next book, Rogue Alliance, I searched high and low and found a press out of Ireland. They had a smart approach to marketing so I took the chance although they were brand new. Just a few months after the release date, after a few key promotions, the book began to climb the Amazon ranks rather quickly. Excitement grew as I began to believe all my hard work was about to pay off.

 Then I got the call. My publisher had a family emergency and planned to close the business immediately. Rogue Alliance would be pulled from the shelves. I couldn’t believe it!

 After only a few hours of feeling despondent and wondering if I should just throw in the towel, an all-encompassing calm came over me and I remember thinking, “Good, now I can find my real home.”

 At that moment, I knew that another door would open. I decided that I wouldn’t go searching in earnest for the next publisher. I would remain open and see what came my way.

 A few months later, I accidently came across Pandamoon Publishing on Twitter. After doing my research, I wrote the owner, Zara Kramer, a very in-depth email about where I was in my career and where I wanted to go. She emailed me back. Then we had an amazing phone conversation where I discovered her incredible work ethic, professional history, and general outlook. The rest is history. I’m so proud to say I’m a Pandamoon author now.

Q: What was the biggest obstacle you, personally, encountered as a writer?

A: By nature, I’m not a patient person. But as you all know, nothing in this industry happens quickly. There are weeks, months, and even years of waiting as you write, edit, submit, and revise your work. Everything from the query letter submission to the book cover production to the multiple edits, takes time, time and more time. Sigh.

Have I learned patience during this process? Not a chance. But I’ve learned to survive it and even make the most of it.

Q: And the biggest strength you had? 

A: My mom told me countless times that I could do anything that I set my mind to. Through this evolution as a writer, I’ve learned how true that really is. I’m relentless. I work myself until I’m exhausted. That’s not always a good thing, but it has been essential to getting to where I am today. I honestly believe that if I just keep my nose to the ground and work harder, learn more, try again, that I really will achieve my goals and dreams. Hopeless dreamer? Maybe, but I don’t understand the purpose of aiming low.

Q: You've listed some illustrious inspiration! As a person with degrees in both literature and creative writing, I love to get all nerdy about specific literary influences. How did each of the authors you listed as inspiration influence your work? Technically? Personally? Inspirationally?

A: I’m consistently inspired by other writers; all of them. While immersing myself in the world of social media, I’ve made connections with countless authors from various genres and degrees of success. Without a doubt, watching them strive, work, fail, try again, and succeed, is the single most inspirational journey. Trying to make a name in this industry is difficult but when you reach out and start networking with others who are in the same boat as you, it can be very motivational. Suddenly the journey isn’t quite so lonely or daunting. 

 Q: What do you feel readers can most look forward to from your book? What makes it unique?

 A: The uniqueness itself is what I believe readers can look forward to. As one reader said, “Bellon has given the vampire theme a whole new twist.” There really is nothing out there quite like it. My goal with this story, well one of them, was to make it a page turner. Every chapter will raise the stakes and have the reader eager to find out what will happen next.

Thank you so much!!! Happy Holiday and thanks for having me.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Guest Q&A Jackson Paul Baer with Earth Bleeds Red!

Q: First of all, let's start with the good stuff. Everyone loves a good publication story. Tell us yours!
A: I signed with Pandamoon Publishing after a #pitmad event on Twitter. I actually received interest from two lit agents and another small publishing company from that event. After querying for about a month, I signed with Pandamoon due to their marketing plan and vision for "The Earth Bleeds Red."
Q: What was the biggest obstacle you, personally, encountered as a writer?
A: The biggest obstacle is finding the time to write. I work full time and go to school full time. I'm also married with four kids. If I could only find a few more hours in the day...
Q: And the biggest strength you had?
A: My biggest strength has been a supportive wife and family. My oldest daughter loves to listen to my ideas and read my books as soon as I let her. It's nice to have the people that love you, take an interest in what you care about.
Q: You've listed some illustrious inspiration! As a person with degrees in both literature and creative writing, I love to get all nerdy about specific literary influences. How did each of the authors you listed as inspiration influence your work? Technically? Personally? Inspirationally?
A: My favorite author is Joyce Carol Oates. Her novel, "Them," is the best book I've ever read. It influenced me as a reader, a writer, and a person. It helped me to write with a degree of heartache that we all secretly hope to read about.
Q: A thriller releasing on Halloween! That's an exciting promise for your readers. What do you feel readers can most look forward to from your book? What makes it unique? What's going to keep me up reading and then keep me up because if I close my eyes SOMETHING WILL COME OUT OF
A: "The Earth Bleeds Red" is a literary suspense. It will force you to question why bad things happen to good people. A perfect family has lost their only daughter, and a serial killer is on the loose. I think you will find yourself on a bit of an emotional roller coasting- hoping that justice is somewhere to be found.

Scott and Jessie are a couple in love. Ashley, their only daughter, is 17-years old and has vanished; leaving behind nothing but a pool of blood. Her strange disappearance is quickly thought to be a homicide. Her cozy, northwest town is stunned when police find the body of another girl at the bottom of the Willamette River. The eerie signature found on the girl links to a monster dubbed the Hail Mary Killer. While Scott searches for Ashley, the FBI feels convinced that she is the killer’s latest victim.

In spite of three other bodies with the same distinct marking, no one prepared themselves for the discovery in southern Oregon. Local hikers stumble upon a car in the mountain brush and a tattooing needle with an evil history surfaces inside. A cabin appears nearby with another gruesome discovery. Scott finds some solace in his friendship with Father Henry as he and Jessie try to salvage their marriage and move on beyond the loss of Ashley. The FBI finally catches a break when they unearth the dark past of the Hail Mary Killer’s family. What emerged in his basement is more terrifying than anyone could have possibly imagined.
What happens to the Miller family and Father Henry will shake your soul and keep you reading till the last page.

Facebook Author Page:
Amazon Author Page:

Author Bio:

Friday, November 8, 2013

Guest Post: Stacy Lynn Carroll with Frogs and Toads on Writing Techniques!

First I’d like to thank Heidi for being a part of my blog tour, and hosting me on her blog today! Let me introduce myself. I’m Stacy Lynn Carroll. I write Young Adult Contemporary Fiction. I like to add a little romance into my books as well, but not the over-the-top mushy stuff. By day, I am a Mommy to three little monkeys who keep me very busy. By night, I turn into “Writer Woman”. Da da da! Sometimes it’s more like “I’ve had a Long Day, How am I Going to Write?! Woman”. But no matter which one appears, there is still the word “write” in it.

I always enjoyed writing, from book reports and short stories in elementary school, to poetry, 20-page reports, and longer stories as I got older. But it wasn’t until ninth grade that I realized I might be good at it. There was a writing contest at our school and my English teacher offered extra credit if we entered. Well, I wasn’t so good at the whole homework thing, so I knew I needed the extra credit. Lo and behold my poem won for my school, my district, my council, and eventually went on to compete at the state level. I entered every year after that and won every year. Sweet! I had a future! When I got to college I got my degree in English, with an emphasis in creative writing. During college, I worked at the school’s writing center, helping other students write their papers, and tutoring students who were ESL or struggled with English classes. As part of my work, we were required to take classes in both writing and editing. This was when my passion really grew! I knew I not only wanted to write, but I wanted to be an author and write novels. I wanted to inspire people, and give them an escape from their own lives.

After college, I got hired as an editor for a small publishing company. Then when the company moved and I was unwilling to move with them, I went on to write/edit Operation and Maintenance manuals for an engineering firm. (Boring!) That’s when my husband and I started our family and I was able to quit work and become a fulltime mom. (Hallelujah!) I also finally had a little more time to spend on my own writing and when my daughter was eighteen months old, my first book (The Princess Sisters) was published.

I have only been a published author for a little over three years now, but as I look back and reflect on my experiences, I have learned a lot about writing. I know I will always continue to learn as well. The number one best piece of advice I think I’ve ever been given as a writer, came from another writer. He told me to write every single day, whether it’s one sentence or five chapters. That way, no matter what, I’m always making progress and in the end, I will have a finished book. Before this technique was revealed to me, I think I had some strange idea that you had to write eight hours a day to be a “real” author and to ever finish a book. But I took his advice and eighteen months later, I had the proof that it worked in my hands.

Another technique which helped me get past some hurdles was never edit-as-you-go. That’s not to say you shouldn’t correct a misspelled word when you see it. But don’t spend your time trying to fix and polish each paragraph as you go, or you could wind up in an endless cycle of always editing and never really making any progress. It’s best to keep writing, then edit when the entire book is finished. That way you will actually finish the book, and it will turn out better in the end. Along these same lines, don’t ever edit your own work. Definitely check your own writing before passing it on, but don’t only edit on your own. Our brains are created in such a way that as we read over our own writing, we will read what’s in our minds and not what’s actually on the paper. Always hire at least two other editors to look over your work to catch mistakes and offer suggestions to help make it better.

I continue to learn more writing techniques all the time, but the last one I want to share for today is about writing descriptions. Everyone has heard of “Show Don’t Tell”, but frequently we are given this advice without actual suggestions for how to accomplish it. I am going to give some simple examples. Don’t use “was” to describe something, when you can use one of the senses to enhance description instead. Here are a couple examples from my own book. Instead of saying, “The bathroom was disgusting.”  Try: “Now that her mission was complete, she realized just how bad the tiny bathroom reeked.  It was worse than any outhouse or port-a-potty she’d ever been in, and this was inside a house!  She wanted to splash some water on her face, but one look at the sink told her she could get a number of diseases just by touching it.  The amount of hair, grime, and unidentifiable smudges on the counter and sink made her wonder if the bathroom had ever been cleaned before.  She saw some green near the faucet and leaned in for a closer look.  Yeah, that’s definitely growing something.  Snow White covered her mouth as she began dry heaving.”

The second example is instead of simply saying, “He was handsome.”  Try something like: “Everything from his tan skin to his dark hair and eyes reflected his Latino roots.  But his flawless American accent indicated he was second generation. His character grinned, revealing his perfect white teeth, embellished by a dimple on the right side.  His dark, long lashes winked right into the camera during a close-up shot and Snow White actually giggled.  She quickly covered her mouth in embarrassment, looking around, but her cousins were too lost in his charming voice to notice.”
As with everything else in life, we learn from experience and past mistakes. Most of the techniques I’ve learned have come from other writers. I am always looking for ways to learn and from suggestions from other authors on how to better myself and my writing. The moment you stop learning is the moment you stop living!

One kiss can change the future...for better or for worse.
Belle and her cousins have conquered their fears. Now as they navigate their way through the dating world, they start to see a "happily ever after" on the horizon. But when an unexpected school assignment forces them to examine their past, the Princess sisters realize they have a lot of questions about the fathers they've never met. Secrets are revealed, long lost family members are discovered, and now the girls must decide who belongs in their future and who should be kept in the past.

Author Bio:
Stacy Lynn Carroll has always loved telling stories.  She started out at Utah State University where she pursued a degree in English, learned how to western swing, and watched as many of her fellow students became ‘True Aggies’.  She then finished her BA at the University of Utah where she got an emphasis in creative writing.  After college she worked as an administrative assistant, where she continued to write stories for the amusement of her co-workers.  When her first daughter was born, and with the encouragement of a fortune cookie, she quit her job and became a full-time mommy and writer.  She and her husband have three children, two Corgis, and a fish named Don.
Frogs & Toads:
The Princess Sisters (first book):

Sunday, October 20, 2013

66-Day Present

I've often wished that my writing habit were as strong and consistent as my Facebook habit. That would be wonderful. Best self-gift ever. Recently, I stumbled across this study showing that simple new habits are formed, on average, in 66 days.

Now, writing every day is not as simple as drinking a glass of water after breakfast, but since Christmas is only 66 days away, it's just too perfect not to try to give myself that gift.

So, the goal by Christmas day is to have a default writing habit. That is, when I sit down to nurse or rest or wait for dinner to simmer for ten minutes, I write instead of checking Facebook. The method is to complete this activity five times a day, leaving my computer open to my novel instead of to an Internet browser. This doesn't mean that I can't check Facebook. It just means that I need to reinforce my writing habit first.

I'll be interest to see if this works. It would be super cool if it did.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A New Way of Finding Books

Usually I choose books the way a sniper shoots: research, pick a target, locate target, fire.

It's okay, but I want to branch out. 

I've started grabbing likely-looking books at yard sales. No research. No reviews. Maybe they're by an author I like, maybe not. I just buy them.

Then I get home and, in the spirit of ceasing to google away delight and surprise, I just start reading. No review-checking, no what-is-this-about. Just going into it cold.

I'm enjoying it. We'll see if it pans out.

Currently Reading: The Sixes, by Kate White
Currently Writing: PHOTO FINISH

Monday, August 19, 2013

Donna K. Weaver Giveaway: Audiobook of A Change of Plans

I'm so excited about the release of the audio book of Donna K. Weaver's adventure romance A Change of Plans. Bonus! She and her publisher, Rhemalda, are hosting a giveaway. 

And there can be two winners!

When Lyn sets off on her supposedly uncomplicated and unromantic cruise, she never dreams it will include pirates. All the 25-year-old, Colorado high school teacher wants to do is forget that her dead fiancé was a cheating scumbag. Lyn plans a vacation diversion; fate provides Braedon, an intriguing surgeon. She finds herself drawn to him: his gentle humor, his love of music, and even his willingness to let her take him down during morning karate practices. Against the backdrop of the ship's make-believe world and temporary friendships, her emotions come alive. 

However, fear is an emotion, too. Unaware of the sensitive waters he's navigating, Braedon moves to take their relationship beyond friendship--on the very anniversary Lyn is on the cruise to forget. Lyn's painful memories are too powerful, and she runs from Braedon and what he has to offer.

It’s hard to avoid someone when stuck on the same ship, and the pair finds themselves on one of the cruise's snorkeling excursions in American Samoa. Paradise turns to piracy when their party is kidnapped and Lyn's fear of a fairytale turns grim. Now she must fight alongside the man she rejected, first for their freedom and then against storms, sharks, and shipwreck.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Author Interview with Donna Weaver, author of A CHANGE OF PLANS.

Donna Weaver is the author of A CHANGE OF PLANS, available at, Barnes and, and a number of other places. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook, visit her blog, and check out her book on Goodreads.

Heidi: One thing you're most known for is how much you like Harry Potter. Whenever there's a writing discussion, you'll pop up with an excellent example from one of the HP books. Even though A CHANGE OF PLANS is a very different genre, I bet you were still inspired by HP. What were the top three writing lessons from Harry Potter that help you succeed with A CHANGE OF PLANS?

Donna: lol Am I really most known for that? That makes me smile. Jo has spoiled me for many writers because she's such a master at "things hidden in plain sight". I find myself, now, expecting deeper meaning in little items or snippets. I'm frequently disappointed.

Obviously, I'm not tricksy like our precioussss Jo, but I do try to make sure that when something happens, there's some tie to it later in the story. That's good and bad. When you interweave everything, you have to be careful if you happen to edit it out later, or you can end up with bits and pieces that now have no reference.

Another thing I love is Jo's humor. I'm not funny or witty like she is, but I do try and see the humor in situations. Perhaps the third would be names. Jo's character names frequently tell the reader much about the character--if the reader tales the time to do a little checking. Like Sirius--the dog star? Lupin with its lunar relationships and Remus, one of a pair of brothers who were raised by wolves? I don't always name a character because of the name's meaning, but I do research names and try to find ones that say something about the character--either like Jo did or sometimes I choose a name that is the opposite (almost a mockery) of what the character is like. That last one comes into play in Jori's book, the companion novel to A Change of Plans that I'm editing right now.

Donna's son Dave with a Harry Potter poster

Heidi: That's very cool. I'm going to watch for all of those things.

Another thing you're known for is how encouraging and optimistic you are, both about your own journey and about other writers' challenges. Is that something that comes naturally to you or did that develop as part of your growth as a writer?

Donna: I think my optimism has been a part of me for a long time, perhaps reinforced by the things I was drawn to as a teen and young adult. One of my favorite quotes is by Thomas Edison (who is famous for how many times he failed).

"You only fail when you quit trying."

I'm also all about the nobility that is possible in people. The summer after I graduated from high school the movie Man of La Mancha came out. It spoke to me. Following is a soliloquy by the amazing Peter O'Toole, portraying the author Cervantes in a prison awaiting a hearing before the Spanish Inquisition. In order to save his manuscript from his fellow prisoners, he's performing the story. Cervantes is challenged by one of them that his main character (Don Quixote--the guy famous for chasing after windmills he thinks are dragons--and where that term comes from, I'm sure) is just crazy, refusing to face reality.

That's me, trying to see life as it should be. Our perception controls our reality, so I look for what's right in the world. Because among all that's wrong, there's so much that's right if we'll search for it. That's the treasure in the trash, so to speak, rather than seeking treasure where there's only trash.

Heidi: That's such a cool world view. I love that! So how did that optimism come to manifest itself in writing?

Donna: Except for the pirates and the scumbag fiancé, everyone in A Change of Plans is a decent person. Even Jori, who is a real woman user in the beginning, is better than he thinks. I don't know if positive energy follows you around, but I don't see a lot of the ugly stuff I hear people talking about. I'm not speaking of the news; there's plenty of nasty stuff out there. I'm talking about my neighborhood, my congregation.

Heidi: With what a fan you are of Harry Potter, one might expect fantasy to be your favorite genre, yet your book is a romance. What do you typically read, and what drew you to writing romance?

Donna: You know, it's really Harry who sucked me into fantasy. I was a diehard SciFi elitist for years. I did start reading Terry Brooks when my oldest son discovered the Shannara series, but SciFi was my fave. I've been a romance fan since I was a young teen and started reading my mother's gothic romances. I do prefer a romance to have more than just the romance at its core, though I enjoy those once in a while, too.  A romantic element really ups the stakes for the main characters. When I decided to write A Change of Plans, I wanted to put in things I like. That's why there's a cruise (I LOVE cruising), karate (I'm a black belt), piano (I wish I could play and used to fantasize about it), Power Metal (my sons have a band), tropical islands (I love Hawaii and I lived in the Philippines for two years as a teen), and Montana (I spent a couple of summers with my aunt in northern Wyoming).

Heidi: And after all that, what brought you to emphasize writing as opposed to music, art, or any other creative endeavor?

Donna: I've done lots of different creative things, though I'm not particularly good at them. Maybe if I'd devoted the time to them that I do to writing, I might have. I've dabbled at painting--my house is full of wall murals. I've got two artist sons (I've attached a picture the oldest did for his senior project before he graduated from college in art, and a couple of shots from our mural room.) If you notice the wall behind me holding A Change of Plans the first time, I painted that.
A painting by Donna's son (apparently he got the drawing gene).

A painting by Donna's son Dave, who just graduated from art school.
But look at that wall! Donna painted that! She saved some of the drawing gene for herself!

Heidi: Thanks for this interview! Here's the final question: What one thing do you most comes out of A CHANGE OF PLANS, both for your readers and for yourself?

Donna: First and foremost that they're entertained, I guess, but I would hope that the story touches them in some way. It's interesting with some of the feedback I've received about the story making readers cry--and what caused the crying. They've all been things that go back to that particular reader's personal history, something in the story that touched them. And they were all unique things, not necessarily something that happened in the book at all. That's pretty cool.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Guest Post: W. B. Kinnette with Waiting Fate

Thank you so much, Heidi, for letting me visit and talk about my new release, Waiting Fate!

Waiting Fate is very close to my heart because it’s based on the true love story between my husband and I. If you ever hear me talking about him, it’s clear pretty quickly that he is literally my hero. For one thing, he can do anything. He dyes my hair, he bakes, he cooks better than most restaurant chefs. He rebuilds houses, chases spiders, and puts up with all my eccentricities without ever complaining. I must have Pringles at 11 pm? He’ll get them. The man deserves a medal. But he’s also my hero because he saved me from a life of darkness and pain.

Which is why, when my publisher had an open call for submissions for true love stories, I jumped at the chance. Admittedly, I didn’t realize how hard writing our story would be, because we went through a lot of trials to get to our happy ever after. But I wrote it and, I’m thrilled that I am able to share it with readers. I hope that by sharing our story and my trials with escaping domestic abuse, it will help someone else who might be in a similar situation realize that there is a way out, and that you don’t have to do it alone!
Author Bio:
W.B. Kinnette was born and raised in Utah, the baby of the family and spoiled rotten. She lived briefly in Texas and Alaska before coming back to raise her family only a few miles from her childhood home. She’s loved writing since she was small, because daydreams demand to be written down. She believes that dreams must be chased, if only so she can tell her children honestly that dreams do come true if you work hard enough – and never give up!
Book Blurb:
Sometimes Fate hides in plain sight while you stumble through darkness.
Ivy escapes from an abusive husband, finding peace with her daughter in her childhood home. She’s determined to keep her past a secret to protect those she loves.
Archer has been in love with the same girl since seventh grade. When Ivy comes back into his life—bruised, broken, and haunted by secrets—he knows he can’t lose her again.
But Ivy made a promise to her daughter. No one would hurt them again. She’s afraid to trust, afraid to be wrong again, and afraid that the one man she’s loved forever will break her heart.
Fate might take its time, but it won’t wait forever.

And Now an Excerpt . . . Oh So Juicy
As he walked her to her door, she slid her small fingers into his, and he ran his thumb across the back of her hand. The night was cool. At the door she turned, smiling up at him. “Thank you Archer. It was… fun.”

He couldn’t see clearly, but he could swear she was smirking. Yeah, you blew your chance. Way to go. So he hugged her, wrapping his arms around her waist, like he’d done a hundred other times before. They were a huggy group.

He was surprised when she rose on her toes and slid her arms around his neck, holding tight like he was a lifeline. He pulled back, just a bit, hoping but afraid to hope as he searched her eyes. They sparkled, just a bit, and then she leaned forward, closing the gap between them and brushing her lips against his.

Time stopped. The world stopped and he froze in shock. It took him several seconds to realize what was happening, and then he kissed her back, holding her tight against him. He could feel her heart racing, matching his. When she relinquished his lips, he sucked in a breath, struggling to breathe. “I’ve wanted to do that since high school,” he muttered, almost without realizing it.
 And Finally, Where to Get the Rest and Follow W. B. Kinnette
Twitter: @wbkinnette

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Author Interview: Rebecca Rode--How to Have Peace When You're Falling to Pieces

I had so much fun interviewing Rebecca Rode, author of How to Have Peace When You're Falling to Pieces. 

The book explores some of the challenges that are unique to mothers and gives sage advice and pithy stories for how to pull through those tough times when you just don't think you can sort it all out.

Rebecca was kind enough to answer some questions for me, so here are some of her insights into her own role as a mother and writer and a few additional thoughts for the rest of us:

1. Early in the book, you share your desire to find a book on finding peace as a mother and not being able to find one. How did you go from that moment in the bookstore to deciding to write such a book yourself?

When I couldn't find that book, I started gathering research and talking to other moms. I was surprised to hear that many of them were going through the same stresses that I was! Then I realized that if I didn't write it, no one else would. I think that unfulfilled need for sanity and peace is why so many moms relate to this book.

2. You talk a lot about the importance of finding balance as a mother. How did you find balance in raising three young children while writing this book?

My "balance" when I was writing this book was more like teetering on the edge of a cliff while juggling. I was on a really tight deadline, so I had to drop a lot of the regular housecleaning and yard duties for a couple months so I'd have time to write. Obviously I couldn't write much when the kids were awake, so that made it hard. My wonderful husband picked up a lot of the slack when he got home in the evening. Now that I'm looking back, I still don't really know how we did it.

3. You also mentioned the necessity of giving some things up. What did you have to give up in order to fulfill your dream of writing this book while still keeping your children a priority? Was it harder than you thought? Easier?

The biggest things I had to give up were sleep and perfectionism. I wrote late into the night and then woke up at 5am for a month or two. I think the funniest parts of the book were written at midnight when I was loopy with exhaustion!

The perfectionism thing, though, was the hardest sacrifice. I like everything just right--there's a chapter about that in the book, as you'll recall--so it was a real mental battle to let the house slide a bit. As for my kids, I quickly learned to give them more time, not less. When I spent a focused half hour with each of them, playing whatever they wanted, then they were much more understanding when I had to disappear for some writing time. 

4. Many times women get so overwhelmed that even the steps outlined in self-help books seem like too much work. What would you say to a woman who reads your book and likes the ideas but still doesn't know where to start?

Oh boy, do I understand. Take it a day at a time, one chapter at a time. Some of the things we discuss in the book are simply different ways to look at our roles as moms, like putting on a pair of glasses. Other things are more specific and we can incorporate them easily and immediately. If there's a chapter that really hits you and you think, "Wow, I totally do this! I need to change in this area," then maybe it's a good indication that something can be tweaked. I'm often surprised at how different parts of the book hit people differently. Many moms love the Mom Guilt section, while others really relate to the divine potential and Anne Shirley chapters. I guess each of us takes what we need out of it.

5. Can you share some of the highs and lows of your journey? How did you keep going during the lows and how did you celebrate the highs?

The biggest high and low actually happened the same day. I got an email from Jennifer at Cedar Fort, saying they'd loved the first few chapters I'd written and were offering to publish it. When I read that email, I pumped my fists toward the air like I'd just made a touchdown and called my husband at work. After we were done whooping and hollering, he asked, "When do you have to have the book done?" Since the book had been accepted based on a query and the first three chapters, that was all I'd written to that point. I skimmed the contract and my jaw dropped. I had thirty days to write the rest of the book. And I was going to be on vacation in Italy for two of those four weeks!

I did eventually get a little bit of an extension, but start to finish, it probably did take thirty writing days. I can only say that I couldn't have gotten it done without help, divine and otherwise! I thought it would be amazing to see my name in print and my book on the shelf, but honestly, the biggest high of all has been the reaction of the readers. It's had overwhelmingly positive feedback, and many of them buy other copies for their sisters and friends. I think that's the very best outcome I could have hoped for, and it makes everything worth it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Change of Plans Cover Reveal: Donna K. Weaver

So Rhemalda sent me this freakin' huge promo package of stuff I could include, and as I was staring at it trying to figure out what to post, I decided to sack all that and post my actual thoughts.

For starters, Donna rocks and no one deserves this awesome victory more than she does. She's funny, friendly, smart, engaging, always willing to help little old peons (that would be me), competent as heck and totally obsessed with Harry Potter. (I really think there should be a drinking game wherein folks must correctly predict what Harry Potter reference Donna will make at any given moment.)

I beta read A Change of Plans, and it is awesome. I'm not much of a romance fan, but this one, I enjoyed. I was so super over the moon thrilled when I heard that Donna had a publishing offer from Rehmalda. Rhemalda, peeps! She considered it and had a lawyer read the contract and had phone calls with the company and then she signed and fairy bells rang out.Yeah. That happened.

Seriously cool. Someone in my group. A book I'd beta read. Published, and very deservedly so. Yeah. Freakin' cool.

And the cover? Gor-geous, can I just say?

Now here's all the actionable content. You know you've been waiting for it.

First, here's what the book is about:

When Lyn sets off on her supposedly uncomplicated and unromantic cruise, she never dreams it will include pirates. All the 25-year-old, Colorado high school teacher wants to do is forget that her dead fiancé was a cheating scumbag. Lyn plans a vacation diversion; fate provides Braedon, an intriguing surgeon. She finds herself drawn to him: his gentle humor, his love of music, and even his willingness to let her take him down during morning karate practices. Against the backdrop of the ship’s make-believe world and temporary friendships, her emotions come alive. 

However, fear is an emotion, too. Unaware of the sensitive waters he's navigating, Braedon moves to take their relationship beyond friendship--on the very anniversary Lyn is on the cruise to forget. Lyn's painful memories are too powerful, and she runs from Braedon and what he has to offer.

Their confusing relationship is bad enough, but when the pair finds themselves on one of the cruise's snorkeling excursions in American Samoa things get worse. Paradise turns to piracy when their party is kidnapped and Lyn's fear of a fairytale turns grim. Now she must fight alongside the man she rejected, first for their freedom and then against storms, sharks, and shipwreck.

Second, here's all about the author (this is at least as interesting as the book, IMO):

Donna K. Weaver is a Navy brat who joined the Army and has lived in Asia and Europe. Because she sailed the Pacific three times as a child, she loves cruising and wishes she could accrue enough vacation time to do more of it with her husband.

At fifty, Donna decided to study karate and earned her black belt in Shorei Kempo.
After recording city council minutes for twenty years, Donna decided to write something a little longer and with a lot more emotion--and kissing.

Donna and her husband reside in Utah, they have six children and eight grandchildren who live all over the world.

Interested yet? I thought so. Check out the trailer on YouTube  (I'd embed it here, but I haven't figured out how to do that yet.)

You can find, and like, and mark as to-read on Goodreads. I know it's going to kill you to wait until it comes out, but until then, you can get your fix by stalking Donna on Facebook or Twitter (@TheDonnaKWeaver)

I'm so excited to read the final draft. Congratulations, Donna. Happy cruising!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Guest Post: Wendy Knight, Feudlings Author, on Support Groups

I am so excited that my friend Wendy Knight's book comes out this week! It's been such an inspiration to watch her journey, and I could not be more thrilled for her! She's got a wonderful guest post here and a wonderfully juicy blurb and excerpt from her book! Follow her, see her cover, and find out how to buy her book at her website!

And now, her words of wisdom on support groups!

Support Group – You want one!

I spent the first…however long I’ve been writing, writing alone. It was sketchy. Sometimes I would write a lot, but then I’d get bored or burned out and I’d quit for months or even years on end. It wasn’t that I didn’t love the story, and it wasn’t that I didn’t have awesome support from my amazing husband. There just wasn’t a lot keeping me going.

Which is why it took me two years to finish Feudlings.

Once I started querying, though, I realized I needed help from people who had been doing it for longer than me – people that might actually know what they were doing! So I started branching out (which is saying a LOT for me, because I’m massively shy). I found a chat room just for writers, and I found writer friends and I discovered Twitter, which seems to be made just for writers. I could be wrong, though.

It might seem counter-productive. I mean, you’re in a chat room, and there is a lot of chatting going on. BUT. There is also brainstorming and advice and support. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s some facts. It took me two years to write Feudlings, my debut novel coming out this month. It took me a year to write the sequel. Toward the end of that year is when I discovered my writer friends. In less than six months, I’ve written two more, started a third and a fourth and a short story, and edited the sequel to Feudlings.

So, it may defy the odds or common sense or something, but it really works. Having friends in the trenches with you makes sooo much difference and being a writer doesn’t have to be a lonely profession. Who knew?

--Wendy Knight
And now for the good and juicy stuff! Jump right in with a great excerpt!

“Shane, I’m tougher than I look. I can handle it,” she said, although she wasn’t sure she wanted to know any more about his magic than she already did. It could get him in trouble. But she couldn’t just leave it alone. Part of her wanted to know. Maybe the monster-killer part of her.

She squashed that thought. 

Shane stopped, studied her. Under his intense blue gaze her heart started to pound and she thought giddily that her favorite color just happened to be the exact color of his eyes. What were the odds? “I’m serious, Ari. There’s this war going on, and knowing anything about it could get you killed.” 

“Killed?” Ari tried to look dubious. 

Shane glanced around and grabbed her hand, pulling her with him out the front doors. The air was crisp and cool; Ari could see traces of her breath. If Shane was aware that half the student population was watching them speed-walk into the woods, he didn’t show it, and after a final glance back Ari ignored them too. 

When the school was out of sight, she stopped and pulled her hand away. “Okay Shane. Spill,” she commanded. She crossed her arms over her chest and tried to look cold. Normals would be cold right now, but because of the flames flowing through their blood, neither she nor Shane could feel it.

Shane sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Where to start? Even the short version is long. We’re sorcerers, and there are two sides to this war… of course, because that’s what makes a war, right?” he rambled. Ari raised an eyebrow at him as she tried to shiver. “I’m a Carules. I have magic that stems from these blue flames that, well, they’re in my blood. Hunter, too. And all other Carules. The other side is Edren, and their magic comes from red flames. Basically, we spend all our time trying to kill each other. It’s a lot of fun,” he said with a bitter frown at the ground.

“So you hide your magic because if an Edren found you...”

“They’d kill me. Or try to, anyway,” Shane finished for her.

Ari flinched at his words, and she knew right then that if she had seen him on that battle field in Adlington, she wouldn’t have been able to kill him. Her eyes widened in shock, her mouth opened into a silent “Oh”, and her heart started to pound. This was a very, very dangerous revelation she’d just made to herself.

She had a weakness. And it was Shane.

I know! Delicious or what?! And here's a bit more info!

Back Cover Blurb

Nothing makes a new school suck worse than discovering the guy you’re in love with is your prophesied nemesis.

Ari is the most powerful flame-throwing sorceress ever, and her people’s last hope in an ancient war. But she’s also a seventeen-year-old girl, and in her free, not-hunting-nemesis times, she jumps from school to school, trying to figure out regular people her own age and pretending she’ll get the chance to graduate.

Shane lives a double life. He goes to school and masters the art of popularity, hiding the fact that he has a fate with a slim chance of his survival. He’s destined to end a 300 year-old war by killing or being killed. He knows he’s hunted by a powerful enemy who’s not afraid to die. Only problem? He has no idea who that enemy is.

When Ari shows up at Shane’s school, angry and sullen and determined to keep him at arm’s reach, neither of them realize they are supposed to be killing each other, not falling in love. Until Ari does realize it, and she almost dies – by Shane’s hand.

Author Bio

Wendy Knight was born and raised in Utah by a wonderful family who spoiled her rotten because she was the baby. Now she spends her time driving her husband crazy with her many eccentricities (no water after five, terror when faced with a live phone call, etcetera, etcetera). She also enjoys chasing her three adorable kids, playing tennis, watching football, reading, and hiking. Camping is also big: her family is slowly working toward a goal of seeing all the National Parks in the U.S.

You can usually find her with at least one Pepsi nearby, wearing ridiculously high heels for whatever the occasion may be. And if everything works out just right, she will also be writing.