children's writer

My Vision

Dec 13, 2012
I told my new writer friend, Rhiann, I'd participate in her blog hop today. I'm supposed to blog about something that inspires my writing, and while there are a lot of things that inspire me nothing beats being told I suck. Last night I spent a few minutes cutting most of my first chapter because it was too slow, too telling, too this, too that. I spent even more time trying to come up with the perfect first line. After lots of brainstorming and almost wanting to cry, I'm finally happy with my new first chapter. I hope whoever reads it will be, too. Truthfully, the one thing that scares me the most about being an aspiring author is the uncertainty.

We spend so much time slaving over sentences, paragraphs, scenes, and chapters. And at the end of it all, once we've completed yet another draft, we still don't know if all that hard work was even worth it. That said, after reading a free e-book, I took the time to write down my vision.

Vision: To write and publish great novels that inspire and evoke emotion in the reader.

So when I'm feeling down and questioning whether all of this cutting and rewriting will even make much of a difference, I'll try to remember why I write in the first place.

Do you have a vision? Have you written it down?


Dec 5, 2012
A few months ago, I mentioned wanting to enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. After some more thought, I definitely think I'm going to take the plunge and enter. In preparation for the contest, here is the shiny, new first page of GONE BY THE END OF JULY.

I totally got the inspiration to do this post from another writer. I'd love some honest thoughts on it.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

Dec 4, 2012
It's Top Ten Tuesday again. Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Today's topic is "Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me." I've had my eye on some of these books for months.

1. Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield - I read the sample of this twice. The writing is so wonderful, and I really like the premise. I love books that take place in small towns.

2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - I don't think this book needs any explaining. I think I might be the only person on the planet who hasn't read it yet.

3. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson - I've heard nothing but great things about this book.

4. Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone - There's so much to love about this book. Time travel, romance, and the 90s are just a few.

5. If I Lie by Corrine Jackson - A lot of people are raving about this one, too. I can't wait to find out why.

6. Love Slave by Jennifer Spiegel - This is another book I read a sample of. I really like the writing. It's so fresh.

7. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles - Historical fiction that takes place in the 30s, 40s, 50s, or 60s is my favorite kind of historical fiction.

8. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - I've heard that it's a really great and intense read.
9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - Who doesn't love a bit of magic?
10. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling - She is still one of my favorite authors. 

This is one of those moments where I wish we could choose more that just ten. I can think of at least five more books I would want. Santa is going to be very busy this year.

Changing My Process

Dec 3, 2012
Many of you have probably already read Changing Your Process on Writer Unboxed. I just read it the other day and felt like it was exactly what I needed to hear. You guys know that I love to talk about the projects I'm working on, but I've never actually shared my writing process.

The main reason for that: It was pretty embarrassing how much time I spent thinking about writing but not actually writing. Some days would start with me getting a few words down, reading over those words, editing them, and then daydreaming about my characters.

But I've evolved.

Or at least I'm trying to. According to the post on Writer Unboxed it takes a while for new habits to sink in, as long as sixty-six days. I've given myself a goal of writing at least 1,000 words every day for three months in an attempt to get into "shape." 1,000 words might not seem like a lot, but I figured I'd be a lot more likely to stick with this goal if I didn't push myself too hard.

Today was the first day of my journey to being a better writer and it went well. With the help of Written? Kitten! and Pandora those words flew onto the page. I've had enough of those days spent not writing. I want to be able to declare that I've finished writing yet another novel. With my old process, that would take months, years if I completely stopped trying. This is my plan:


  • I will write at least 1,000 words every day, usually as soon as I wake up.
  • I will not edit anything until I've hit my word count goal.
  • I will not let the internet interfere with my writing.

I'm feeling very optimistic. 

NaNoWriMo: Homestretch

Nov 29, 2012
The title of this post is sort of misleading because I'm nowhere near finished with this novel. I spent a good chunk of the past few weeks thinking about writing but not actually writing. Only yesterday, or the day before, did I decide that this novel is worth continuing. I did get down a few new words and managed to get the number of times I used the word was from 183 to 77. After doing that, I'm ready to jump back in full steam. There's just too much I love about this novel to give up on it.

I'm still at the 10k mark, but I really want to have this novel finished by the new year. I've edited but haven't written any new novel-length works. Ending the year without at least completing one new novel would be very upsetting. I think I might even do my own December mini challenge.

Over the month of November, one thing I did do was collect a ton of images that reminded me of New York, specifically Brooklyn. I really wish I could share some of those, but I don't want to take any chances posting more images that aren't my own. That said, I'll leave you with an excerpt instead.

Congrats to those of you who finished NaNo. You guys rock my socks off.

From Just Another Moonlit Night: 

Finn had neck length blond hair, which he always wore down. His favorite pair of shoes were these old Birkenstocks his mother had given him several birthdays ago. When he wasn't painting, or spending time with me, he worked from home as a web developer. He was good at anything that required the use of his hands. 
On Saturday mornings we’d listen to Bob Marley’s “We’re Jammin” from a radio we found on sale for only fifteen bucks. I’d put on the tea kettle, fill my cup with two spoonfuls of sugar, and when the tea was all made I’d sit on the couch we’d found on a sidewalk one afternoon and watch Finn through the open door of his studio, slashing away at canvases. I’d gotten prettier at eighteen. My braces had come off. I kept my brunette strands cut short at my ears and now had a taste for hand-me-down dresses. 

Happy writing and reading!

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books of 2013

Nov 27, 2012
It's my first time participating in Top Ten Tuesday. Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is "Top Ten Most Anticipated Books of 2013."

2013 is going to be such a great year. I can't wait to get my hands on my top ten picks.

1. Just One Day by Gale Forman - I read a sample of this book, and I didn't want it to end.

2. This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith - The comp titles makes this book sound like a real treat.

3. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea  by April Genevieve Tucholke  - Just because I love a good devil story.

4. The Lucky Variations by Sara Zarr -  I really love books about talented souls.

5. The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston - This one sounds like a really good mystery.

6. Splintered by A.G. Howard - I love a good Alice in Wonderland retelling.

7. Severed Heads, Broken Hearts by Robyn Schneider - This one sounds like a great contemporary read.

8. Pantomime by Laura Lam - It's takes place in a circus. It doesn't get any better than that.

9. In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters - It sounds positively dark and creepy.

10. Out of the Easy by Rusta Sepetys - It takes place in one of my favorite eras, the 50s. 

So, are you pining for any of these books?

A Few Things

Nov 14, 2012
I did two good things yesterday, the most important being that I entered a contest on Figment. I don't enter many contests like these but the prize was just too good to pass up. You can click the gray link to read my entry if you like. And if you know anyone in the 13-21 age range, or if you're in the 13-21 age range, you can find out more about the contest here.

The second thing that I did was create a temporary website on Weebly. It's free, and I thought why not. 

Here it is: My shiny new website

That's all I wanted to share. Have a wonderful Wednesday you guys. 

Pinners You Should Follow

Nov 12, 2012
One of my favorite blogs does a feature called Pinterest Picks. I look forward to that feature every Friday because I, like a lot of you, love being inspired. To tell you guys the truth, I've been feeling very blue lately. I haven't written anything new in three days, and I've spent a lot of time on Pinterest because it just isn't as much work as Twitter or any of the other networking sites. I follow 129 people on there, and although they're all awesome, I chose only five to share with you guys.

They post some of the most stunning photos I've ever seen.

1. Caitlin - Favorite Board: Beautiful

2. Beth - Favorite Board: Lovely

3. Anabela - Favorite Board: Flowers & Florals

4. Naomi - Favorite Board: Photographed

5. Laila - Favorite Board: Everyday Life

That's it for me guys. I hope some of these pinners will help cure those Monday blues.

So, tell me, are you on Pinterest? If so, I'd love to follow you. I also have to ask, how do you use Pinterest? And if you're not on there, how would you use it? Would it be something you would use for fun, or would it be just another way to reach a potential audience?

If you'd like to view my pins or follow me, click here.

Love Lists and Theme Songs

Nov 9, 2012
A few weeks ago I did a Road Trip Wednesday post that was inspired by Stephanie Perkins' idea of love lists. A love list is basically a list of things you love about your WiP. I love the idea so much that I'm going to stick with it.

These are a few things I'm loving about my current WiP, Just Another Moonlit Night. 

1. The Jazz music - Over the months I've acquired a taste for older music. Some of my favorites are Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Lewis Armstrong, and Maxine Sullivan. My main character's mother also has an ear for it and plays it constantly.

           That night, in the darkness of my room, I lay in bed while my mother played jazz music loudly and sipped even more red wine with her invisible friends. I closed my eyes and imagined her swaying around the room, pretending there was a handsome suitor in her company. 

2. The name Coco - I know some people might think Coco Lee is an odd name, but it's probably my favorite character name so far. Coco's mother is obsessed with all things Coco Chanel hence the name.

Coco, a name bestowed upon me by my mother who had an obsession with all things Coco Chanel, was a name I felt I couldn’t live up to. In my mind, Coco was long limbed with waist length blonde hair and an impeccable sense of style. She hung out at caf├ęs, didn’t work at them. She was full of talent, could draw, sing, and dated beautiful boys—beautiful European boys.

Most of all, she loved adventure.

3. Beauty - I've mentioned before that my main character has self-esteem issues. I think it's one aspect of her that makes her more relatable.

            No one ever said that Coco Lee is such a beautiful girl.

4. Love and loss - Coco goes through quite a lot throughout her story and deals with loss in more ways than one.

        He closed the door behind him, and for a second I thought he was going to sweep me up into his arms and lay me on the bed. He didn’t.

I think "Forget Me Not" by The Civil Wars is a perfect theme song.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Nov 7, 2012
Hey guys! I haven't done one of these posts in a while, but because I think they're such a great way to share little things that have caught my eye I'll definitely be posting them more often.

1. The cover of Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block is gorgeous as well as the cover of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke.

2. "Barton Hollow" by The Civil Wars. Two lovely ladies mentioned them on Twitter, and because I love discovering new music I just had to check them out. It's kind of ridiculous how many times I played this song last night. Sometimes I do this thing where I pretend that I'm the one singing the song. Does anybody else do that? Probably not.

I just finished reading The Big Smoke by Cally Jackson. You can read my review here. But lately I've been reading a ton of samples. One I'm enjoying right now is Love Slave by Jennifer Spiegel. 

Yesterday I re-watched my favorite movie An Education for the hundredth time. No matter how many times I see it I still tear up. On TV, I've been watching and loving American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural. I can't get enough of those brothers. 

My NaNo novel. I'm still behind, but I want to have 10,000 words by the end of this week.

The holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner, and they're my favorite time of year. For Christmas this year, I'd like a healthy mind, body, and soul. Lots of new books would be nice, too. 

I entered Baker's Dozen yesterday and got in. I'm entry 106. Being one of the lucky few whose entries are chosen would be phenomenal. 

I somehow managed to get two partial requests out of a contest I entered last week. That made me feel really good. 

As always, thanks for reading. 

The Big Smoke by Cally Jackson

Nov 6, 2012
Hello! Today I'm coming to you guys with a book review for Cally Jackson's THE BIG SMOKE.

Ceara’s desperate for love; Seb’s desperate to get laid. Ceara adores reading novels; Seb hasn't finished a book in years. Two strangers, both moving from small country towns to Brisbane – the big smoke. As they prepare to attend the same university, their paths seem set to collide, but they keep missing each other. Maybe fate is keeping them apart, or maybe it’s just chance.

When the semester starts, things get complicated. Ceara’s best friend withdraws from her, Seb’s closest mate turns into a sleazebag, and the relentless demands of university make their stress levels soar. Before their first semester is over, both Seb and Ceara will be forced to question who they are and what they want from their lives. Will they have the courage to find the answers, or will they crumble under the pressure? And when they finally meet, will it be love at first sight or a collision of headstrong personalities?

I'd been following Cally's blog for a while when she announced that she'd be self-publishing THE BIG SMOKE. By then I'd already read the sample chapters she had up and enjoyed them entirely. So when I heard she was giving away ARCs for review, of course I had to jump on board. Now you guys know that I don't normally review books, and if I was going to review a book it would have to be one I was crazy in love with. THE BIG SMOKE definitely didn't disappoint. 

What I loved most about this book was how distinct Seb's and Ceara's voices were. Sometimes with books written from a multiple POV it's very hard to differentiate bewteen the charcaters, but in Cally's novel the voices were not only very different but very authentic. I must admit, it did take me a while to make it through this novel because of its legnth, but when I would sit down to read I would once again become enamored with these characters and their stories. 

It's definitely a coming of age novel. I think a lot of us would be able to relate to two characters who are on their own for the first time, starting college, trying to hold onto old friendships while creating new ones, and wanting to find that special someone. The way Seb and Ceara's lives were interwoven was handled flawlessly. At certain points I kept thinking, they must have noticed each other. When they finally did, it was only a matter of time. One of the things I could really relate to was Seb having to come to terms with the fact that his relationship with his best friend wasn't what it used to be. That definitely made me feel for him even more than I already did. I could also relate to Ceara wanting to feel desired. I think all women can. 

THE BIG SMOKE gets 4.5 stars from me because it was a gripping and honest novel. Did I mention it takes place in Australia? I can't wait to see what Cally has in store for us next.

If you'd like to purchase the book, hop on over to Amazon. If you'd like to learn more about the book and author, hop on over to Goodreads and Cally's blog, Cally Jackson Writes.

Thanks for reading!

NaNo Update NO.1

Nov 5, 2012
One thing I've learned while NaNo-ing: always have a backup novel. On day 1 of NaNo my original idea and I parted ways after only four pages. Lucky for me, I did have another idea that I was equally excited about. This idea was called The Corner Store, and was supposed to be about the trials and tribulations of a young couple living in Brooklyn, NY. The things is, when I sat down to write it totally didn't pan out the way I'd hoped. 

As of day five I'm 5,164 words in and having blast. Yes, I know I'm behind, but being apart of NaNo has been a very good learning experience. I've learned that as well as being a slow typer, I prefer to have relatively clean first drafts. Or at least clean by my standards. 

So this novel that was inspired by my original idea for The Corner Store, is titled JUST ANOTHER MOONLIT NIGHT. I was calling it contemporary YA, but I think it might be more contemporary or literary NA. Maybe even adult fiction.

My main character is an eighteen-year-old girl named Coco Lee who is incredibly insecure, first about her appearance and then about her relationship with her boyfriend. I don't have a synopsis written for this novel yet, but here's a snippet:

Across the room, out of my window, the moon hung fat and round in the sky. It was just another moonlit night in Brooklyn, and I, Coco Lee, was just another fish in a sea of thousands. Maybe if I were lucky someone would fall in love with me like my mother had with my father. And if we were lucky we’d have babies who were prettier than me. Call me shallow, but at seventeen what more was there to want than being loved.

Thanks for reading, and may your day be filled with lots and lots of new words. 

My Current WIP

Oct 31, 2012
Hello and happy Halloween! I've been tagged by the lovely Rhiann to share a little about my WIP. Although I've done a post like this twice already, I just couldn't say no. So here we go.

What is the working title of your WIP?


Where did the idea for the book come from?

I know this is cliche, but it came to me in a dream. I heard my main character's voice in my head. I started typing as soon as I woke up.

What genre does your book fall under?

Definitely young adult contemporary.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I've had a major girl crush on Carey Mulligan ever since I saw her in An Education. I can see her playing the part of my main character, Marylyn.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

After she runs away to New York to become an actress on Broadway, Marylyn learns it takes more than just a pretty face to be a star.

It isn't very good, but it's all I can come up with for now.

What other books would you compare the story to in your genre?

I really have no clue. Any young adult contemporary novel about a small town girl with big dreams.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I hope represented by an agency.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I've always had a thing for musicals, so I guess that might have a bit to do with it.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

There'll probably be a very juicy scandal that will have my characters seeing red. *wink wink*

Thanks for reading you guys! I'm supposed to tag four people I think, but I know many of you have done this already. I don't want to be a bother, so if you want to go ahead and tell us about your novel consider yourself tagged.

Preparing for NaNo

Oct 19, 2012
While some writers are writing pages and pages of outlines, I've been collecting images and music to help get me through those 30 grueling days. I guess my method of preparing is a little different. Those of you who visit my blog might already know that I prefer to fly by the seat of my pants. So why should NaNo be any different? Below are five super fun things I've done and will do in time for NaNo. Hopefully, I won't get into too much trouble for posting these images.

1. I found the perfect image of the main love interest, Philippe.

2. I found the perfect image of Philippe and my main character's best friend, Margaret. The boy in this picture and the first aren't the same person, but it's such a sweet picture.

3. I found a quote that captures the heart of the story perfectly.

4. I created a playlist on Grooveshark.

5. I will buy the biggest bag of strawberry Twizzlers I can find. 

Have a wonderful weekend you guys!

If you're the owner of any of these images and would like them removed  let me know. 

Teaser Tuesday: My Danny Boy

Oct 16, 2012
Hello everyone! For Teaser Tuesday today I'm sharing the first page of a flash fiction piece I wrote yesterday. It might be horrible, but I thought I might as well share it since I have nothing else to do with it. As always, thanks for reading, commenting, and following.


Thanks for reading!

NaNoWriMo 2012

Oct 12, 2012
Hey guys! So like many of you I will be participating in NaNo this year. I'm super excited about it. I've never won, but I personally think it's a great way to get the ball rolling on a new project. This year I won't be a rebel. I'll be starting a brand new novel in a genre I've only attempted once or twice. Today I wanted to share some tidbits.

This year's NaNo Novel is officially titled IVY OF OUR HEARTS. I'm not sure if it's fantasy or magical realism. At first I wanted it to be magical realism, but after writing the short synopsis I'm not so sure anymore. What do you think?


Ivy Fable hates the endless apple orchards of Effingham, Connecticut, but she knows nothing else. So when her parents tell her they’re moving, her world is pulled out from underneath her like an old carpet. Her best friend, Margaret Thomas, can’t believe the news either. In an instant, Margaret, who’s always full of bright ideas, comes up with a way for Ivy to stay.

They’ll run away.

Together they head off into the Connecticut woods with their backpacks filled with everything they’ll need to survive on their own. But the woods are deeper and darker than they can imagine, and by the time the pair realizes they've made a horrible mistake. It’s too late. They’re lost. Surrounded by endless trees with no cell phone signal, Ivy and Margaret decide all they can do now is wait. Wait to be found, or wait for the thick woods to swallow them whole.

While they wait, the two trade stories back and forth of things that might hide in the brambles and thickets. In reality, all seems ordinary to Ivy and Margaret, until a boy named Philippe appears to them one evening. Agitated and hungry, Ivy and Margaret think they’re seeing things. But Philippe with hair as dark and sleek as a raven’s feather and eyes as blue as ink from a pen, convinces the two to come with him.
As the three of them journey on and discover all of the wonders and beauty the woods have to offer, they find themselves falling into a deep and complicated love. It’s Philippe and Ivy. Margaret and Philippe. But as time passes and the days grow cool, Ivy and Margaret become weary.  Philippe’s love for the two of them becomes tiring, and they long to go home. But for Ivy and Margaret, who’s lived so long in the woods consumed by Philippe’s love, there might not be a home to go back to.
At least not one that’s truly real.


I've also created an extremely bad cover, and I'm working on the playlist.

Will any of you be doing NaNo this year?

Image: Stockvault

Things We Love To Write About

Oct 8, 2012
We are all individuals with our own sense of style and interests. It definitely wouldn't be strange if some of the things we love appeared in more than one of our novels. I've realized that although all of novels are different in some way, there are certain aspects that are more or less the same.

For example, while browsing online the other day I came across this huge list of southern baby names. You can find it here if you're interested. For me, coming across this list was like coming across a treasurer chest of gold. Here are some things that I love writing about:

  1. The South - I've always had this deep fascination with the south. Louisiana especially. There's so much culture and history. But it's also very mysterious. 
  2. Small Town Girls - Maybe it's because I'm from the city, but I've always wished I'd grown up in a small town. 
  3. Family Dysfunction - My family is far from perfect, but I definitely don't have to deal with some of the things that my characters go through.
  4. Summer - I think this might be my favorite season. By having my novels take place during the summer, I can focus more on the story than on homework. I'm kidding. 
  5. Cute Boys - I think most of us love writing about these boys. 

That's all I can think of. What about you guys? If you wouldn't mind sharing, what are some things you love writing about?

The Next Big Thing

Oct 5, 2012
Hey guys! It was a little quiet around here this week, and that was only because my internet was down. As for my laptop, I ended up having to send it to Dell to be fixed. I should have it back by next week.

My writer friend, Jadzia, tagged me a few weeks ago for The Next Big Thing. I told her I'd already done a similar meme, but today's Friday and I have nothing else to blog about. As always, thanks for reading.

What is the working title of your book?

South of Lonesome.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

It was inspired by another novel I was working on earlier this year--an adult Southern Gothic inspired by the late Delta Blues singer Robert Johnson. I wanted to make it more YA, so I decided to rewrite it. The novel is heavily influenced by the blues and that's what I love most about it.

What genre does your book fall under?

Like many of my other novels, it's definitely YA contemporary. I think it's a little heavier on the romance though.

What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

I have no idea. I guess any young African American actress with really curly hair. I think she might look similar to model Jordan Richardson. As for Penn, the love interest, I have no idea.

What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?

Eighteen-year-old Shelby Porter longs to break free from her parents' strict rules, and she does when she meets the wild and courageous Penn. 

Bad. I know. But it's all I can come up with for now. 

Will your book be self-published, or represented by an agency?

I hope represented by an agency.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 

I'm actually still working on it. I'm about 6,000 words in.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I've always have a hard time with comparisons. I'd say any YA that focuses on family dysfunction and romance with a southern voice.

What else about your book might pique the readers interest?

A part from being inspired by Robert Johnson, it was also inspired by that Supernatural episode Crossroad Blues. Of course there aren't any supernatural elements, but there's a boy who's only friend is the harmonica he carries in his pocket.

Have a wonderful Friday you guys!

Flaws & Wants

Oct 1, 2012
I've been more than a little nervous for the past two days because my laptop has decided it doesn't want to boot. It has every novel I've written on it. So you see why I would be nervous. I've had to use my Kindle and the family computer to keep up to date. One of the things I've been doing is watching The Plot Whisperer videos on YouTube. Many of you have probably already seen her videos since they aren't new, but her tips have helped me plan my sixth novel.

Which, against my better judgement, I've already started writing. I figured I might as well since all of my other current novels are on my other computer. One of the most important things I've learned while watching her videos is that the main character must have a want and a flaw that might keep them from getting what they want. As a pantser sometimes I don't really know what my main character wants until the novel is complete.

Writing down a few lines about my main character helps me realize her want early on and also the want of her love interest. 

Do you guys know what your characters want while you're drafting?

Cover Love: Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull

Sep 28, 2012
Good morning and happy Friday. It kind of took me a while today to figure out what to blog about. After a few minutes of pondering I decided to do a book related post because I haven't done one in a while. I feel like a kid in a candy store when I'm on Goodreads, and the other day while lurking my appetite was definitely whet by the stunning cover for Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull. The book itself sounds absolutely whimsical, and is just the kind of story that could brighten a dull day.

When their parents disappear in the middle of the night, young sisters Summer and Bird set off on a quest to find them. A cryptic picture message from their mother leads them to a familiar gate in the woods, but comfortable sights quickly give way to a new world entirely—Down—one inhabited by talking birds and the evil Puppeteer queen. Summer and Bird are quickly separated, and their divided hearts lead them each in a very different direction in the quest to find their parents, vanquish the Puppeteer, lead the birds back to their Green Home, and discover the identity of the true bird queen.

Be sure to check out Summer and Bird on Goodreads

Help Me Polish My Pitch

Sep 26, 2012
I know you guys must me sick and tired of hearing about this novel. I think might be sick and tired of working on it. I've been thinking about entering the GUTGAA Small Press Pitch Contest though. And after reading some of the pitches and first 150 by you guys, I've made some minor changes yet again. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Is there anything I should add or take away? Is there any way I can make it better? I recently cut a lot of backstory from the first pages, which I didn't realize was unnecessary before.

Updated Query:

A week before her seventeenth birthday, sixteen-year-old Mary Love Taylor’s father left for work and never came home.

Mary Love suspects her mother might have said something to make him run off. Mary Love’s parents fought a lot, but her father always tried to make it work for her sake. Maybe this time it was different. Hours turn into days without a word from him, and the missing persons report Mary Love filed doesn't bring up anything. While Mary Love refuses to give up on her father, she realizes her mother’s all she’s got.

Mary Love's mother doesn't feel the same. Behind the mask of perfection she wears lies a woman whose words sting as much as her slaps. She blames Mary Love for her failing health and wrinkled skin. If it weren't for the boy she still loves, who’s sweet and kind and has loved her since she was awkward and thirteen, Mary Love would have given up on her mother. On everything.
Mary Love knows the only way she and her mother will ever be okay is if her mother gets the help she needs, and if she finds out what really happened to her father. But the truth might send Mary Love’s world crashing down around her and her mother to her deathbed, whereas never knowing the truth might make life at home even more hellish than it already is.  

Updated First 150:

It’s a week before my seventeenth birthday, and though I know I should be glad there’s a sickening feeling in my gut. For the first time in days, I’m worried.

I’m worried about Daddy because he’s running late and he’s never late. I’m worried about Momma because she’s on her second pack of cigarettes for today. But, most of all, I’m worried about myself because I think I might be turning into one of those girls Momma calls a harlot.

His name is Tommy Baker. And like I told my best friend, Lucie Mcroffey, over lunch the day before, there’s nothing worse than being kissed by a boy who’s called you string bean since the day you first met. Still, while I wait for Daddy to come home with his latest workplace tales of sorrow and glee, I can’t help but think about Tommy.

The Novel You Want To Write vs. The Novel You Should Write

Sep 25, 2012
The other day I came across a blog post called Write A Beak-In Novel. You guys should definitely check it out if you haven't read it already. It left me stroking my chin. We've all heard before that we should write the novel that's in our hearts and never succumb to trends. My question: With publishers and agents scrambling to find the next major hit do we writers who listen to our hearts rather than our heads even stand a chance? 

I've been thinking about this a lot, especially now that I'm ready to work on something new. There are two novels I've already started and could be working on at the moment. The problem is, my head says one thing and my heart says another. I'm aware, just by reading the synopses, that one of these novels is a lot more break-in than the other. 

As a writer, would you put aside the novel that's in your heart for a novel that would give you the better chance of being published?


Sep 24, 2012
Hey guys! So I've seen a lot of other bloggers do the Currently meme. I thought I should give it a go because it looks pretty fun, and I do love a good meme. You guys should check out Jaime's if you haven't already.

Featherstone by The Paper Kites. This song was recommended by another writer, and I've had it on repeat since hearing it. The video is lovely and kind of reminds me of Where the Wild Things Are. I guess because of the costumes.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and Persuasion by Jane Austen. I've had this sudden urge to read more classics and so far so good. Both of these novels have been keeping me entertained. 

I recently saw Howl's Moving Castle, and I'm looking forward to watching Spirited Away. I think I've officially fallen in love with Anime. On TV, I've mostly been watching reruns of The Office. Personally, I love the earlier seasons the most.

Thinking About...
My writing. I'm giving NEVER A HAPPY ENDING one last read through before putting it aside and working on another one of my many ideas. There are two novels I could work on, but I just haven't decided which yet. 

Another finished novel. I really love that feeling of accomplishment that comes with typing The End. One of my resolutions was the write one novel a year. I've started three, but I've completed none. Last year I completed two. I'm so looking forward to writing and finishing another novel.

That I can get some interest for NEVER A HAPPY ENDING. 

Making Me Happy...
Being able to sample a novel before I decide to purchase it. There are so many new books on my wishlist because of this. 

As always, thanks for reading. 

Full-length Novel

Sep 20, 2012
Hey guys! So yesterday I set out on a mission to get my 45,000 word novel up to 50,000 words. Today, I just so happened to achieve that goal. I couldn't help but do the happy dance. This novel of mine started out as a wee thing, only 42,000 words long. After receiving some very helpful advice in the WriteOnCon forums I managed to bump up the word count some. Now, for the very first time in my writing career, I can say that I've written a novel that is actually novel length.

I once thought there was no way I could possibly make this novel longer, but I did. My motivation for this was the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I've been thinking about giving the 2013 contest a go. I'm happy to at least have the option to now that my novel is long enough. I think 50,000 words is a safe word count for contemporary YA. One of the things I focused on while I was adding was dialog. There were a lot of places where I could add more action, so I did.

One thing I learned from all of this: I definitely can write a longer novel. All it takes is a little more patience.

That's it for me guys. Congrats to those of you who made it into the GUTGAA pitch round. Congrats to those of you who made it into the final round. I read some of the entries and there's a lot of talent out there. I haven't forgotten about my 200th follower contest, which I think is going to be more of a giveaway.

Have a wonderful day! I guess this means I'll be blogging frequently again.

Just Checking In

Sep 12, 2012
Hello everyone! I just wanted to check in and say thank you to all of the people who commented on my GUTGAA Meet and Greet post. I've been in kind of a slump for the past few days. I haven't felt like blogging much, writing, or even commenting on many blogs. I hope to be out of this slump soon. I really want to get back into the swing of things.

Have a wonderful day you guys!

Fashion Meets Fiction: Bedtime Stories

Sep 4, 2012
Hello everyone! For those who are looking for it, my Gearing Up to Get an Agent post is right here. Today I'm featuring the Fall 2012 Red Valentino collection.

I can't remember ever being read bedtime stories when I was a girl, but that doesn't mean I don't have my favorites. When I saw the Fall 2012 Red Valentino collection my mind immediately thought of a simpler and playful time. I was actually going to call this post The Age of Innocence, but I didn't want to confuse you guys. As a young girl I can remember being in love with books such as Goodnight Moon, Corduroy, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Henny Penny, Rumpelstiltskin, Alice in Wonderland, and so many more. The Red Valentino collection reminds of those stories and being a kid again. Of course my childhood wasn't this perfect, but I can pretend it was.

The question begs to be asked, what was your favorite bedtime story?

Images courtesy of

GUTGAA Meet and Greet

Sep 3, 2012
Hello all! Today is the very first day of the Gearing Up to Get an Agent Blogfest. 

Questions for the Meet and Greet

First A Little Bit About Me (I'm never good at writing these things).

I'm a twenty-year-old studying Writing and Literature at a little college in NY. I've never been good at math, but I love reading as long as it isn't required reading. I enjoy the smell of grass, making wishes, and daydreaming. I recently discovered that I love to watch Sex and the City, but my all time favorite show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I love horror movies, scarey TV shows, anything that will scare me. I just like being scared. I'm afraid of heights and the dark, which I know totally contradicts the previous sentence. I'm a lover of words and art. My dream career would be to be a children's and young adult author and create pretty things part time. 

-Where do you write?

I just wrote a post about this. Most of my writing takes place in my room, lying in bed. Sometimes I write on the couch or at the table.

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?

A wall. It's light green.

-Favorite time to write?

I like to write in the afternoon and at night. My morning hours are spent browsing the web. 

-Drink of choice while writing?

Tea. My favorite is Lipton. It comes in a yellow and red box and I have it with three scoops of sugar and milk.

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

Sometimes I listen to Pandora, but nothing too loud. I like listening to the soundtracks for movies because the music usually doesn't have lyrics.

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

My latest manuscript was inspired by another manuscript I'd been working on earlier this year. It was a southern gothic, and I wanted it to be more YA.  

-What's your most valuable writing tip?

My favorite quote: "Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there'll always be better writers than you..." -Neil Gaiman. 

Thanks for stopping by and reading.

Delectable Links: 9.1.12

Sep 1, 2012

Another week has come and gone and it's a new month, my birthday month. I can't believe in just a few days I'll be the big TWO ONE. I hope I can make the best of my new year.

This week, though, there have been a lot of great finds. These were some of my favorites.

1. I am a major dessert enthusiast, and these homemade Oreos are right up my alley.

2. This veggie burger is definitely the best I've ever seen. The recipe is included.

3. On my wishlist is the French Hen Sweater from J.Crew.

4. My favorite non-writing blog of the week is Creature Comforts. It's a haven for creativity.

5. If your'e into DIY projects, What I Wore shows you how to make a chevron stripped tee. It's super stylish and it's gotten a lot of pins on Pinterest.

6. If you love books, foxes, or both check out these free printable fox bookmarks. The owner's site isn't in English, but if you use Chrome you should be able to translate.

7. This quote is by far my favorite quote of the week, from The Fresh Exchange. Creative people are awesome.

8. The Colenimo A/W 2012 lookbook is a breath of autumn.

9. My most popular pinboard this week was They Grow Up So Fast.

10. I've definitely fallen in love with Gregory and the Hawk. I've played Doubtful and The People Who Raised Me more than once this week.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sweet Delicious Fruit photographed by Lena.

Unleashing My Creativity N0.1: Blog Redesign

Aug 31, 2012
Writers are always inspired. People inspire us. Places inspire us. Music, photographs, and memories inspire us. We're always looking for that brand new idea. In my post before the last I spoke about wanting to find other outlets for my creativity. I'd love to be able to create both using words and art. The things is, my design skills are limited. So I've decided to give myself a goal to complete at least one of the things on my Five Creative Things I'd Like to Do list in at least three months. One of the things I'd love to do is spruce this blog up a little. If I can do that, then achieving the other things on my list will be a piece of cake.

For the interested, those five things are:

1. Open an Etsy shop
2. Learn how to draw and paint
3. Learn photography
4. Create my own jewelry
5. Learn how to make blog templates

I've searched the web high and low, looking for tips and tricks. I've found some, but my brain hasn't been able to comprehend all of the information I've found. So I'm starting with what I can do. My first goal to building a better blog is pinning everything from blog templates I love to color palettes I love and blog tips. If you're interested, you can find my pin board here. Once I'm finished, I hope to debut my new blog soon.

Quick question, how important is a good blog design to you?

Have a wonderful Friday! Make sure to stop by Valerie Cole's and Bria Quinlan's blogs for the Kiss Off contest they're hosting. As always, thanks for reading.

Writing Spaces

Aug 30, 2012
I've been spending a lot of time of Pinterest, pinning away. I admit, probably more time than I should. One of my favorite boards is my Home Is Where I Belong board, where I pin images of homes, rooms that inspire me. It got me thinking about writing spaces. Those places where we writers like to curl up and write.

Most of my writing takes place in my room, in bed. In fact, I'm writing this post from that exact location. Lying on my back, staring up at the ceiling, is how I came up with many of my novels. Maybe there's some sort of correlation between staring up at the ceiling and ideas. I know a lot of writers get new novel ideas while taking a bath. That has yet to work for me.

My ideal writing space would have solid plain white walls, a white desk, swivel chair, and colorful illustrations on the walls as well as quotes that I love. I also love the idea of having a chalk board wall for plotting and writing down ideas.

Where do you write?

A Work In Progress: 8.29.12

Aug 29, 2012

Hello dear blog readers! Recently I came across a beta reader community called YA Stands.
I took the plunge and got in contact with one of the lovely ladies and she agreed to beta read Pretty-Eyed Girls Don't Cry. I'm excited and nervous to see what she has to say.

Having your work beta read can be a very eye-opening experience. What I find works for me is reviewing the beta reader's notes, letting it simmer for awhile, then start to make changes. It's a tried and true method that really helps keep those "they obviously don't get my story" feelings at bay. I also signed up for Gearing Up to Get an Agent. I figured it couldn't hurt to give it a go. In South of Lonesome Land things have been on hiatus. My mind has been on other things, blogging for one. I've been doing a lot of blog stalking and soaking up a ton of inspiration from Pinterest.

I love creative people! I love what I do, but I want to do more. I've been having this urge to expand my creative talents. One of my resolutions was to draw every day. I think I'm going to start up again.

Five creative things I'd love to do someday:

1. Open an Etsy shop
2. Learn how to draw and paint
3. Learn photography
4. Create my own jewelry
5. Learn how to make blog templates

I am still a work in progress.

Are there any other creative things you guys like to do other than writing? Are any of my goals on your to-do lists?

Berries photographed by Dasha.

Fashion Meets Fiction: Author Cocktail Hour

Aug 28, 2012
Hello everyone! I had a ton of fun writing my last fashion meets fiction post. I thought I'd continue the series at least once every week. This week I'm featuring Nina Ricci's pre-fall 2012 collection, which is absolutely stunning.

So I've heard some things about author cocktail parties, but whether they really happen or not I don't know. If they did though I imagine every one would be dressed in the finest all black ensembles and sip golden champagne. Okay, maybe I'm getting a little too ahead of myself. But when I saw Nina Ricci's collection, particularly the first dress, I immediately thought author cocktail party. They are nice to imagine.

Images courtesy of


Aug 27, 2012
Hello everyone! I've been feeling very inspired lately. Super inspired actually. And since this blog is one of my only outlets, I might as well share my ideas with you guys. One of my "bright" ideas was sharing a list of names I love and plan to use in upcoming novels.

As writers I know how important coming up with the perfect name can be. For me, one of the toughest things is changing a character's name. It almost feels like I've given them a new identity. I usually don't put much thought into naming my characters, though. I usually go with what sounds and feels right. Imagine my surprise when I looked up the meaning for some of the names I've used and they fit my character's personality or appearance perfectly.

From SUMMER SPELL my main character Cassidy Harwell's name means curly, which fits. Cassidy is a twelve-year-old African American girl with hair as thick as a lion's mane, or at least that's how her mama describes it.

From PRETTY-EYED GIRLS DON'T CRY my main character Amelia Taylor's name means work, effort, strain, which sort of fits because she does work hard to try an hold her family together.

From SOUTH OF LONESOME my main character Shelby Porter's name means sheltered. Shelby Porter thinks her parents would keep her locked up in a cage if they could.

So when it comes to naming my characters I think I've done pretty good. I've been keeping a list of names that I plan to use in the future. I definitely have a thing for southern sounding names like Graydon.

How do you name your characters? Do you have any favorite names?

Delectable Links: 8.25.12

Aug 25, 2012
Hello everyone! One of the things I love about blogging is being able to share my ideas with you guys. I've been thinking a lot about how I can be more creative with this blog and incorporate some of the things I love.

That being said, I think one of the things I'd really love to do is share my top favorite finds of the week. I think I'll be doing it at the end of every full week on Saturdays. And since today is Saturday, today will be my first delectable links post.

Have a wonderful weekend. And as always, thanks for reading.

 A yummy pumpkin spice hot chocolate recipe  This four cheese baked skillet rigatoni looks delicious  I love, love, love Kelly Love's A/W 2012 collection Into The Woods The Frances Baker A/W 2012 lookbook has a quiet kind of beauty as well  Simple yet stunning jewelry from Autumn Equinox  A quote that makes my heart melt   Two songs that makes my heart sing and sing   A very sweet and whimsical book cover My own Pinterest board The Beautiful and the Whimsy

Success: My Way or the Highway

Aug 24, 2012
I'm currently deep in the query trenches and trying to remain sane. It's true what the say. There's nothing quite like rejections to really make me want this even harder.

One question I've asked myself in the midst of all this is: Am I on the right path?

I thought I was but as the Rs keep rolling in and I'm slowly nearing the double digits, maybe I've been going about this all wrong. I'd like to believe that I am in control of my own destiny. Although I do believe in a higher power, I'd like to believe that he or she is behind me 100%. 

The thing is I'm scared. I'm scared that no matter how many novels I write I'm never going to get the response I want. So is continuing to put myself out there even worth it? I've had this nagging feeling that maybe what I want isn't what I need right now. And that scares the heck out of me because I've put so much time into my writing, agonizing over every single word, to not have this work out my way.

This is what I want. 

Yet, it might not be what the "universe" wants for me. 

I spoke with my CPs about it, and they definitely told me what I needed to hear. I'm still going to continue my search, but I think it might be time to take another route with his novel of mine. Still, who knows.

Do you guys truly believe that we create our own success? Or are some things just written in stone.

I have to admit after writing this I feel a lot better.