December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday. I have. I'm exhausted now. From being with family, eating gobs of food with family, running around the park with the kids just about every day, going to the museum, eating more hand-dipped chocolates (my mother-in-law's specialty--a blessing and a curse!), watching football, eating more treats, and just having a good time, I'm tired to the bones.

And now I get to make new goals for the year. I need to go running more. My hips and rear demand it. I want to be a better wife and mother. And I want to write. Golly, do I want to write. I'm going to finish Bound (I'll be finishing up the current draft within the next week. Then we'll see where I stand on it.) I need to write and finish The Reaping. And I have ideas tossing around in my head for a fun, decidedly paranormal series that I've got the itch for. It'll be a good year.

December 26, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I have been totally slacking off on the writing. I think it's been about a week since I've opened the file on my computer. Seriously. I haven't gone that long without writing in a long time.

Last week was crazy, of course. Cookies to make, presents to wrap, presents to buy (frantically, I might add--shopping is pure insanity this time of year), Christmas cards to address. You know. The things that signal that Christmas is right around the corner. I love all of it. But I didn't get any writing done.

Now I'm listening to popcorn pop, my husband and bro-in-law are watching football, I'm hanging out with my sisses-in-law and mom-in-law, and I'm having a great time just enjoying the magic of the season. And I'm still not writing.

But you know, that's okay. This time is supposed to be enjoyed. I can always write tomorrow. Though I really am starting to get the itch...

December 16, 2011

Blogging Blahs

So I've been feeling just a little "eh" about my blog lately. I realize the last few posts have just been redirects to other blogs I've been featured on. And I'd like to thank those fabulous bloggers for not only getting the word out about my books, but also giving me a few posts in the process.

I was thinking today about why in the world I've had zero inspiration for what to blog about, and you know what? I think I figured it out. It's because I'm completely immersed in Bound right now.

I got my edits back a few weeks ago, and I've been working hard to get them done. But for me, rewrites require a lot more brain power than writing the first draft. I know I've talking about rewrites before, but I'll say it again, they're a doozy. But don't mistake me, I'm not complaining, and I'm having a lot of fun tightening up certain aspects of the story and expounding on others. Just generally figuring out what works and what doesn't, you know?

And it's mentally exhausting. After working on them for an hour or two, I find myself going (with my eyes slightly glazed over), "What in the world am I going to write about now?" And the blog slides quickly away to the back-burner. Where it, you know, gets burned because you forget about whatever is cooking on the stove behind the great big stock pot.

So how's this for a blog post? A sampling of the bad metaphors I create after I've been devoting my intellect and creativity to rewriting. But can I say one more thing? I love Bound. Truly. I love the story and I love the characters, and I'm definitely not sick of it yet. Which is always a good sign.

December 14, 2011

Indie Frenzy

Ashley at The Bookish Brunette runs a great feature called Indie Frenzy, where she spotlights different indie authors. You'll find amazing new reads and authors to follow.

She featured The Burn today, and asked me what my inspiration for the story was. Some of you probably know that The Burn was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's A Little Mermaid. But you should click your way over to her blog to find out why that's waaay different from the Disney version, and how I fit a story about a fish into a post-Apocalyptic dystopian novel.

She also has a giveaway up for an ebook, so be sure to enter! The giveaway closes on December 20.

December 12, 2011

15 Things You May Not Have Known

If you've never been to the Literary Junkie book blog, you should click on over there and peruse a bit. Lots of fun YA book stuff going on. Sonny is a great blogger, and she's just a lot of fun in general. She posted an interview with me and a giveaway for three ebooks of The Burn. So if you'd like a chance to win my book, head on over there. The giveaway runs until December 24.

The interview is 15 Things to Know about Me. Some things you may not have known:
  • I'm a twin, and no, we can't feel each other's pain
  • I'm a stay-at-home mom, and writing helps me stay sane
  • I'm a runner. And I don't listen to music while I run, I listen to audiobooks. If you listen to music while you work out, you should try audiobooks. I'm telling you, it's a lifesaver
If you want to find out more, check out the rest of the interview.

December 10, 2011

More Content

I've added some exciting new content to my blog. Well, I think it's exciting new content, because it's stuff I've written. And stuff that more and more people are reading. Hooray for new readers! (And thank you. Seriously. You guys rock.) So what is the new content you ask?

Sample chapters. (Told you it was nifty!)

If you go to that spiffy Books page, you'll find links called "Read the first chapter." And guess where they take you? To a page where you can read the first chapter of the book! How about that! So if you'd like a quick-'n'-easy sample (you know, instead of having to go to a retail site), just click the link and enjoy. And then go to the retail site and purchase the book :)

Remember, my books are only 99 cents for the holidays!

December 07, 2011

A giveaway and an interview

Phenomenal book blog I Am a Reader, Not a Writer has a giveaway for a paperback copy of The Burn and three ebooks! Contest ends Dec 30. There's also an interview if you are just dying to know things like what superpower I wish I had and if I'm any good at spouting a Haiku off the top of my head. Stop on by to enter.

December 05, 2011

YA love

So I've loved to read YA fiction for as long as I can remember. Well, once I got past picture books and easy readers and middle grade stuff. Once I hit the YA shelves as a tween, I never looked back. I'd be hard-pressed to name ten adult books I've read. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration. There was all of that literature (those italics are there to indicate that this was said with a snooty voice) I read in high school and college. And they're classics. They're amazing books. I do feel like they have rightly earned their places, and there is still amazing writing being done in the area of literature.

But YA fiction just grabs me.

I mean honestly, will I ever do a reread on Madame Bovary or Anna Karenina or Don Quijote again? No. Resounding no. And they were incredible books that touched me.

So what is it about YA fiction that I love? I was pondering this as I was looking through some friends' reviews on goodreads that were firmly in the adult literature category. And I came up with a short (but sweet) list. I realize that there are some huge generalizations here, but it's usually true. The list:
  1. First love. There's nothing like the anxious, nerve-wracking, self-deprecating, fluttery feeling of the first time you liked someone. No, not just liked someone. Like liked someone. You know what I mean. And YA fiction is full of the stuff.
  2. The creativity. It seems like just about anything goes in YA fiction. Wizards and witches fighting a wizard-gone-bad and who shall-not-be-named? Check. An International Paranormal Control Agency because paranormals are running amok? Check. Kids who have to fight to the death just because their power-hungry government says so? Check. Not to mention the mermaids, trolls, vampires, werewolves, and then the amazing more real-life situations added to books.
  3. The conflicts. This is part of #2. Because of the range of topics, there are crazy, fun conflicts. There are plenty of the teenage-angsty kind of conflicts, but how about teen angst combined with a dystopian society that chooses everything for you? It's just delicious!
  4. Fun. Sure, there are some YA books that are just heavy. But even serious YA books are more fun (to me, at least) than serious adult books. Something in the writing style, or something in the characters, or something in the plot that just leaves me more entertained than their "grown-up" counterparts.
Would I ever want to relive my teenage years? Not a chance! Too much braces, bad hair, awkward situations, and social craziness. But do I love reading it? Yes. Now excuse me while I go read about a girl who is in love with a fallen angel, has broken up with him, is seeing hallucinations of her dead father, and is feeling the teen-angst to the extreme.

December 01, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

The ebook versions of The Burn and Dragon Sister are 99 cents during the months of December and January!

Amazon and Smashwords already have this happy holidays price, and other ebook retailers will have this price in a little while.

November 28, 2011

Doing the Rewrite Dance

I'll be getting feedback from my beta reader any minute now, which means I'm getting ready to work on Bound rewrites. I may have mentioned before that I love rewrites. Most of you out there who have written anything might call me a sadist. Most people hate rewrites. It's work, it's not fun, it's so much easier to just vomit on the page (aka writing the first draft).

That's all true, I'll admit it.

It is work. There are times when I look at my work and say, "What was I thinking?" But still I love it. Even as I was writing the first draft of Bound, I had changes and additions I wanted to incorporate. Changes like:

  • Boring scene! Ack! Boring scene. Help it, please!
  • Add a little more romance between Wyn and Tom. Yup, the cute boy is named Tom. And no, I'm not giving away more details than that. But this story is definitely more romantic than my previous two novels have been. It just really fit the mood. And Wyn just really needed a nice guy in her life.
  • Add more details of x (you remember jr. high algebra when you always solved for x?) so that a + x = b. Don't worry, there's no math involved, but it's that whole I'm-not-giving-away-details thing. But the point of the equation was to show that looking at the entire story allowed me to see what was missing so I could fill in more details early on. You know, the whole foreshadowing thing.

While I was writing the first draft, I didn't let those ideas slow me down. I just made a note of it and then plunged ahead until everything was on the page. Then when I was done with the first draft, I took a deep breath, enjoyed my sense of accomplishment for two minutes, and then proceeded to dive into my rewrites.

I guess I like rewrites so much because it's like a puzzle. I get that from my grandma. She can sit and work on jigsaw puzzles for hours. Doing that makes my eyes go buggy, but it's the same idea. Take the little pieces, decide how they fit and then make a big, beautiful picture.

November 24, 2011


'Tis the season, and since we're celebrating all the things that make us thankful today, I wanted to share those things that I'm most grateful for in my life.
  1. Awesome family. They're incredible. We have so much fun laughing and eating and goofing off. We eat way too much pie. We all have the gollywoggles afterward. What are the gollywoggles you ask? That icky feeling in your tummy after you've eaten too many sweets. I got the term from my wonderful mother, and I've converted quite a few to the word gollywoggle.
  2. My own sweet girls and wonderful husband. They're the constant in my life, the sun I revolve around. They bring me the biggest joy and the biggest frustration. I wouldn't have it any other way. They're amazing and fulfilling.
  3. You. My readers. Thank you, thank you, thank you. What can I say more? I love the writing, but I love even more that people actually like reading it. You're the ones that make all this worth it.
  4. My faith. I know Jesus Christ is my savior. That brings me the peace I need every day of this life. That faith gets me through the hard times, buoys me along during the good times, and steers my course during everything in between.
  5. Being able to write. It's always been a dream of mine to write everyday. Thanks to my husband and my girls, they let me do it. And it makes me so happy.
There are too many others to name, but right now, those are the biggest. What are you thankful for today?

November 17, 2011

It Makes My Day

I heard from one of my readers that she stayed up late into the night because she had to finish The Burn.

Being an author is hard work. I probably spend more time promoting my book than I do writing. I hope one day that won't be the case, but as I'm just getting started, that's the way it has to be right now. When I finish doing marketing stuff for the day, and I switch over to writing, my brain just breathes a sigh of relief and says, "Finally. This is what I love."

The writing is what I live for. But if I want my book to go anywhere, then I need to work for it, and work I do. Sometimes I get so frustrated I want to yank my hair out and rant for a few hours and just throw something. Don't worry. Nothing was harmed in the making of my novels.

But then I hear comments from readers like "I stayed up late just to finish it," and suddenly all the frustration melts away and all the work I've put into it is totally worth it. Because I know that feeling when I have to stay up late to finish a good book, and I'm so grateful to the author for all the hard work that went into the book.

So to you readers who've read and enjoyed The Burn and Dragon Sister, thank you. Thanks for reading. Thanks for making me smile.

November 15, 2011

When the Muse Strikes

Today I was working on a blog feature for April at My Shelf Confessions. (I'll let you know when it gets posted there.) She asked me to talk about where I write and where I get my best ideas. I've heard lots of authors talk about this subject, and the answers are varied and many. A sampling: while walking, while outside, while in the shower, while on the toilet (eww, by the way), while lying in bed, etc. For the sake of the feature, I wrote about getting my ideas in the car. It's a quiet place where I don't have to worry about the girls running amok. But it's too simple an answer.

I get my ideas anywhere and everywhere. I'm busy with life, with my daughters, being a good wife for my sweet husband, taking care of myself and my writing time, fulfilling my responsibilities at church. You get the picture. And with how much I have going on, I can't afford to be picky where my inspiration comes from.

So I write everything down. My weapon of choice?

I love these notebooks. I buy them at Target and these particular ones are by greenroom. I love them because they're cute and cheap and don't fall apart when I look at them.

I try to always have my notebook and a pen with me, because as much as you think you get your best ideas when you're walking the dog, or fixing dinner, or shut in the water closet (what kind of ideas do you get in there? I mean really, it's quite gross), you just never know when the idea will come. And if you're like me, if it doesn't get written down, it gets forgotten as soon as one of my girls asks for a snack, or the phone rings, or my husband needs his shirt washed.

And I don't want to forget any ideas, because you never know which one will be the best one.

November 11, 2011

Sacrifice and Service

Thank you to the veterans that have bravely served. Who were willing to pay the ultimate price to keep us safe. Who cared more about freedom and our country than their own lives. Who honor our flag and the ideals that this nation was founded upon. And thank you for coming back home.

November 08, 2011

My Favorite Retold Fairy Tales

Retold fairy tales are some of my favorite books to read. That's why The Burn was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "A Little Mermaid." I love seeing how authors take a fairy tale and rework it into something new and interesting, but still magical. So here are some of the retellings I've loved:

The Goose Girl, Shannon Hale
The retelling of a lesser-known Grimm's fairy tale about a princess sabotaged by her lady-in-waiting. She has to take care of the king's geese before she can become queen.

Spindle's End, Robin McKinley
A retelling of Sleeping Beauty, but this Briar Rose has spunk and no intention of being the princess. I love the ending of this book.

The Magic Circle, Donna Jo Napoli
A retelling of Hansel and Gretel, though those pesky kids don't come in until the very end. This story is about the witch and how she finds redemption.

Confessions of an Ugly Step-sister, Gregory Maguire
A historical-fiction take on Cinderella with a lot less magic.

Beauty, Robin McKinley
A retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Makes you wonder if Disney found most of their inspiration here.

Mira, Mirror, Mette Ivie Harrison
Did you ever wonder where the mirror in Snow White came from? Here's your answer.

November 04, 2011

Ode to Book Bloggers

Okay, so this isn't really an ode. I don't have time to sit down and write poetry. But this post is to sing the praises of some people that I've found along my publishing journey that I have really come to love.

Book bloggers.

Before I started publishing, I had no idea these people even existed. I had never stumbled upon one of their blogs; I had never had anyone ever mention anything about them. But then I published my first novel and shortly thereafter my second, and suddenly, I discovered the world of book bloggers.

Book bloggers are people who devote their own time and expense to acquire books, review them, open our eyes to new reads, and have lots of fun along the way. They're creative--some of their blogs are incredible! They're all avid readers, a trait I can really relate to. And they do giveaways of great books and other swag. Seriously. Who knew?

I've contacted quite a few book bloggers asking for reviews and help promoting my books. Every single one of them has been respectful, gracious, and kind. If I weren't so busy juggling mothering my girlies and trying to squeeze in extra writing minutes, I could see myself loving being one of these people. And so to you book bloggers that have helped me and other authors along the way, thank you.

And for those of you who, like me, never knew such a thing as a book blog existed, google  it. You'll find gobs of great blogs in every genre to help inform your reading choices.

October 31, 2011


Now that we're back home and things can settle down, I've found I really missed writing every day. And since I've been feverishly sewing Halloween costumes this morning, I haven't been able to really get back into it yet. But since my 19-month-old is down for a nap, I'll have a little while to get some kind of writing done (fingers crossed), so a blog post it is.

And with that intro, I'll tell you how I write with two kids at home: I don't write nearly as much as I'd like (big surprise). But that's because being a mother comes first. Always. Being a mother is the best, hardest, most exhausting, most rewarding, most aggravating, most love-filled job in the world. There are times I want to pull my hair out, lock myself in my room, and just be alone for an hour. But that's just not going to happen, especially since my four-year-old stopped napping quite a bit ago. So while my little one is napping, I've been trying to teach my oldest that that time is sacred. It's my writing time.

Then I go into frantic fingers mode. I try to get as much done as I can during those precious moments. And bless my oldest, she generally does a pretty good job playing by herself during that time. But sometimes she won't be put off, and so we have fun together. I figure writing can wait until later because being a mommy is the most important thing I can be doing right now.

So I take whatever snippets of writing time I can get. I focus on nap time especially, but I'll squeeze in a minute here and there while my girls are playing nicely together (and wish my hardest that it doesn't end in a fight). It's not ideal. I'd love an entire day away where I can do nothing but write. But I wouldn't trade being their mother for anything.

And I know it's worth it when my four-year-old says, "I want to be a mommy just like you."

October 21, 2011

Emotional Truth

One of the things I learned in my English classes at BYU that's really stuck with me is about emotional truth. Stories are just that: stories, and their name implies fiction. But if you fill stories with emotional truth, those things we all feel because we're human and we live in real life, then stories will feel true, even if they're about dragons or dystopian societies, and we will be able to relate to them.

Writing is my escape from real life, my creative outlet to stay sane and stave off the mommy-brain-rot. I thrive when I dream up new places and new plots. But real life hit us hard this week when we learned my husband's dear father passed away.

I'm sad. Sad for my husband who won't get to hug his father again, and sad for my mother-in-law, and sad for my two girls who won't get to know their grandpa better, and sad I won't get to see this man that always had a smile and a kind word for me. Right now I'm just trying to take care of the hearts of the people I've been entrusted with. I know we will all see him again, after our turn in this wonderful life is done, but until then, it hurts and it feels too enormous to bear.

I've lost people I've loved before, but after the ache eases and lets go just a little bit, every day is easier to fall back into and resume those patterns that define our lives. It's not that we've forgotten the pain of loss, but a new sorrow is always a shock. I never want to forget that feeling, so I can appreciate life just a little bit more. We can't know how happy we've been until we know how sad we can feel.

That's as emotionally true as it gets.

October 14, 2011

Writing the First Draft

Several people have asked me how I write a first draft. And so in honor of finishing the first draft of my new project, I shall tell you all. Don't get too excited though, it's not a magical formula. It has changed a bit every time I've embarked on a new novel. I think every story is different, and so needs to be treated differently.

While writing my first novel (you know, the horrible one no one has read, the one no one will ever read, the one I think I've lost thank goodness), I used an outline. And I clung to that outline for dear life. It was my life line while writing that novel, and I can definitely say the story suffered because of it. There was no creative give or take. It was the outline or nothing.

From that experience, I decided to write Dragon Sister without an outline. I knew what the beginning was, what the ending was, and then the middle was a nebulous haze that I solidified as I wrote. It was refreshing and fun to write it that way, just the words spilling out as fast as my fingers could go. But it did require quite a bit of reworking...okay, a lot of get the flow of the story where it needed to be.

Then onto The Burn. That novel was interesting to write because I had an outline created for me. Since it's inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's A Little Mermaid, the main plot points are there: Terra comes from the bottom of the ocean, she goes up on land, she falls in love, etc. (I don't want to put too many spoilers since it's still such a new book, but if you're familiar with the original fairytale, you'll know those plot points, and the ick factor involved in a couple of them) And so I had that basic skeleton for the story, and I added the flesh to it. But the final version is very different from that initial draft. The initial draft was boring. But I think the process of rewriting should be its own post.

And now my new project. I liked the way The Burn came together with having the main plot points and then rounding out the story. So that's what I did with my current novel, and it's been a lot of fun working with it that way, tweaking the basic outline along the way. It was a good way to get the story arc put together and not meander in the middle.

And that's how I've done a first draft. Like I said, no magic formula. I've changed it up for every novel. For me, the most important part of a first draft is to get the words out. All the perfectionism and beautiful language and story tweaking can come later. And you know what? It's been a blast every single time.

October 05, 2011

Something to Be Proud Of

I write clean reads, and I'm not apologetic about it. It's one of the reasons I decided to be an indie author. I wanted absolute control over that aspect of my writing.

As my small collection of novels grows on my shelf, I love knowing that my girls can look at the covers, and as they learn how much fun this reading thing is, that they'll be able to read them some day, and I won't worry about it. There's nothing in there I'm afraid for them to read.

There are so many books on the market today that just aren't appropriate for kids to be reading. It's a miniscule ripple in a great big pond I'm making, but at least the option is out there for kids or parents who are looking for books that don't have profanity and don't have sexual references. Because really, does that stuff need to be in there? I don't think so.

September 25, 2011

The Talent around Me

I am so grateful for the people that have helped my books come about. I wrote Dragon Sister off and on for a few years as I worked full-time, stopped working and had two babies, moved a few times, and generally got used to my life as a mother. Things were a little calmer when I wrote The Burn. I'm so grateful for my amazing husband. He's not a reader, and it's like pulling teeth to get him to finish a book. But he has been wonderfully supportive in this writing craziness of mine. I'd never be able to do it without him.

I'm also astounded at the talent of three amazing ladies who've helped me with covers. My dear sister painted the cover illustration for Dragon Sister. Then I used the miniscule design knowledge I have to add the text. Yup, not very pretty, and I've been tweaking it almost constantly, but I'm just not good at this kind of thing. So I contacted a friend of mine who's a graphic designer, Jen Foxley, to spruce it up a bit. She sent me a draft a few days ago, and I LOVE IT. It'll start popping up here soon. I'll be sure to post it on my News page when it's finished.

And then I'm grateful for Renee Barratt who's working on The Burn cover. Looking at the myriad of other covers she's already completed, and what a breeze it has been working with her thus far, I know I'm in good hands. She's going to send me a first draft any day now, and I can honestly say I CAN'T WAIT to see what she's come up with.

So to my darling husband and the three of you fabulous women...thank you. I couldn't have done it without you.