Tuesday, May 28, 2013


The end of this week I'll be celebrating an Anniversary of sorts. About a year ago I made a trip down to Ohio. It had started as purely a fan-girl trip. Some of my favorite authors were going to be at the closest, most affordable, and relaxed reader orientated conference. I didn't want to miss that.
Then I realized that I could kill two birds with one stone. I had the opportunity to sign up to pitch my book to an editor of a publishing house. When asked which house I wanted to pitch to I didn't hesitate for one second. I said ANY.
That's where I was. I was so desperate for this opportunity. I didn't care who with.
So they set up a time slot for me.
A little while later I received a second e-mail asking if I'd be up for two pitch sessions, with two different editors from two different houses. I of course realized the opportunity here to double my odds. I took it.
The morning of RAGT I woke up and checked my e-mail again to find that I'd been granted another opportunity with a third publisher. I was elated ... and much, much more nervous.
I showed up at RAGT alone, but I wasn't alone for very long. Everyone is so wonderful, friendly and what's really great is everyone there is just as nerdy about romance novels as I am.
I met great people, some I'm still in touch with today, and I'm beyond excited to see them there this year. Those same people gave me a wonderful pep-talk before my pitches.
Yet it wasn't until I'm close to hyperventilating waiting outside that conference room and a petite graying brunette with librarian glasses calls me in and tells me to take a seat, that I'm fully understanding the weight of what it is I'm about to do.
This is potentially the start of my career ... or if it goes badly a crushing blow to my dreams.
She takes a seat, she smiles at me, and then in the kindest voice she reminds me to breathe. "Just talk to me," she says like an old friend might.
It was that moment I stuffed away my notecards, took a deep breath, and began to tell her a story.
I left that room confident, ecstatic really -- because she'd said those four words I'd only dreamed I'd hear. "Send me your manuscript."
It was divine intervention I pitched to her first because my next boardroom was not nearly as comfortable, or inviting. It was me facing six editors. I did my best. I kept my notecards in my bag. I told them about my books conversationally. They had questions, lots of questions. Some were very easy to answer, and some of them were things I'd never thought of before ...
Who would these books be marketed to?  for instance. I guess I'd never thought much about it before - obviously romance readers ... but there are more types of romance readers than I ever dreamed existed.
But by the end of my 15 minute time slot I also heard the magical words "Send us your manuscript."
Once was a miracle.
Twice was unreal.
By the time I stepped into my third conference room my head was spinning, I was edgy, and exhausted and I had to go through this one more time?
I sat down with an editor from Liquid Silver Books for a fifteen minute pitch and by the time I was leaving that room forty-five minutes had lapsed and she was already talking to me about contracts.
Mind blown.  
The next day I met up with those wonderful girls I'd met the night before, the ones who'd given me that pep-talk prior to pitching. Today was supposed to be relaxing, fun, fan-girl time...
That was until Duffy Brown was pushing me into an elevator heading up to the suite where the woman who'd been nominated for Editor of The Year sat waiting for me to pitch to her as well.
It was a surreal experience. I left the RAGT with four submission requests, tons and tons of signed books, pictures with my favorite authors and a handful of new friends.
Last year was my first time at the RAGT as a reader.
This year will be my first time at the RAGT as an Author.
I have no idea what I'll be leaving RAGT with this year but I know what giant steps can be made there and what just a single year can bring a person. I so look forward to sitting here writing another blog post about this very same thing a single year from now.
RAGT here I come.
What comes after that?  I can't wait to find out!  

Sunday, May 12, 2013

What's underneath all the clothes...

This is not my usual sort of post but for just one minute I'm going to step up on my little soap box and talk to you all about something that, for a change, is not fiction but actual reality.
I have to admit, I used to have a tendency to run at the mouth. I spoke my mind, and often, quite loudly. I spewed my opinion wherever and whenever I saw fit. I argued with teachers & professors, students, friends, strangers and I am the person who has been trolled a time or two-hundred...
As I've grown older, and arguably wiser, I have been able to bite my tongue a bit more. I've found the ability to pick and choose my battles -- something my mother has been trying to teach me from day one.
So at first I wasn't going to address this, mostly because I didn't want to perpetuate the buzz. I didn't want to give this particular company undue publicity, because let's face it even bad publicity is still publicity.
Yet I just didn't feel right about turning my back on something that hit so close to home...
I have been out of high school for seven years this year. Some days those seven years feels like a lifetime ago and some days it feels like just last night I was downtown hanging out with my close group of friends.
 My close group of friends I wouldn't say were popular but we weren't outcasts by any means. We had dates to school dances. We were invited to parties. We laughed, had fun, and got into a little trouble like most teens but we were overall pretty good kids. We went to school in the middle of a corn field, on the "wrong" side of the river. Our graduating class was only like 140 students wide, the entire school only something like 400 and some students large. It was easy for a person to know or at least know of everyone in the school.
But still it was a normal school.
There were cool kids.
There were not so cool kids.
There was bullying.
There were mean girls, and really douchey guys.
There were football Gods.
There was a slew of popular, pretty, Homecoming Court girls.
There were a fair share of stoners, and kids who got really excited over anime, or graphic novels, or obscure bands...
There was a scrawny red-headed gay boy thrown against the lockers and ridiculed.
But there was also... 
really brainy, really smart "jocks."
There were really cool, really funny kids who hung out with "geeks."
There was a painfully beautiful - from the inside out - Home Coming Queen who was, still is, sweet and had that kind of Christ-like niceness to everyone that's somewhat rare for a teenage girl ... hell somewhat rare period. 
There was a very popular guy, I've known since I was at least five but had only talked to sporadically since elementary school, who stopped me during a tough time to ask me how I was and he meant it. This wasn't the general, with a nod of the head, "Sup?" that usually occurred in high school this was a quiet show of genuine concern. "How are you (really)?"
Now let me tell you about me. I was in band, forensics, Media, and drama. I was friendly with everyone. I was sharp, albeit kind of a slacker. I laughed a lot, and cried a lot, and I was a bit of a dreamer (maybe still am.) I was the kid called down to the counseling office when a student, new or maybe not so much, was having a hard time integrating into the social life of high school. I was asked to take them in and I always did. Sometimes they stuck with my group of close friends but usually after awhile they found their own place in the spectrum of high school.
I was president of S.A.D.D. (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and Senior Vice President of Student Council. I was surprised to win that last position, because I didn't run unopposed and like I said I wasn't necessarily "popular." I was also morbidly obese.
The kind of obese that was uncomfortable, restrictive, and at times embarrassing. The kind of obese that made me dread restaurant booths, rollercoaster seats, backseat seatbelts and clothes shopping. 
The kind of obese that begets taunting, bullying, and social isolation. While occasionally taunted (mostly early on in school) it was never really an issue I suffered with, at least not alone. I had good friends. I was, to some degree confident enough not to let my weight rob me of too many things. I think, mostly, I was well liked and at least mildly respected. I was funny, easy to be around, and nice.
Yeah, I heard the fat jokes occasionally. I had a couple girls try to bully me a few times. I hardly ever got the guy I was crushing on and I definitely didn't fit into the trendy clothes.
I just want to touch on a few things here. You do not have to have the "cool" clothes to be cool. You are not what you wear. You are not the hobbies you partake in. You do not have to have it all together at all times.
I don't know what's going on out there, in schools across America. I don't know how "average" our school was. I don't know if we are different because we're small. I don't know if being in the middle of a corn field sheltered us a little from the real world. I don't know if other schools vote a band & drama kid Home Coming King over one of the "football Gods" but our school did. I don't know if your country, backwoods, rural, predominately all-white community voted a minority for your Prom Queen but we did.
I don't know if when something shakes your community if your school district meets around the flag-pole, "geeks" joining hands with "preps" or whatever and truly coming together in optional prayer to mourn, console, or to just be with one another ... I don't know.
I don't know if the morbidly obese fat girl in your school had a really awesome prom date but I did. There's a lot I don't know about you and your school...
What I do know is that it is possible. It's possible your school and your community is already like this. If it's not it's possible for it to be like this. Don't get me wrong we're not perfect by any means but maybe in time, maybe every class who passes through those halls will build that place up piece by piece, maybe we can all make things a little bit better, just a little bit, by doing just a little good every day.
Yes, maybe there are popular kids and maybe there are not so popular kids but I've seen that gap bridged time and time again.
Yes, maybe there were kids who bullied that red-headed gay friend of mine, but there were kids who stuck up for him too.
Maybe it's true that the "popular" kids to tended to wear "popular" clothing brands but it's also true that, it wasn't necessary. I don't recall a day in my high school career when someone touched the tag on my shirt, unless it was to tuck it in for me. Walking down the hall way I've never been asked who I was wearing. When I made my speech for that Vice President position for student council I didn't end it with dropping the name brand on my shoes, or pants, or shirt.
So regardless of what is in the news right now, or going round and round through this rotating door of the internet. Know that.
There are bullies in school and there are bullies in life but don't buy into their hype. You are not defined by your clothes, or your face, or your weight, trust someone who used to be obese and still after losing 157lbs still technically is. You are defined by your morals, your actions, but most importantly by how you treat others.
So maybe someone out there is telling you, you aren't pretty enough, you aren't perfect enough, you aren't straight enough, you aren't skinny enough, or tall enough, or short enough, or curvy enough ... but I'm here sticking up for you. I'm telling you none of that matters. I'm telling you those people who are less than accepting are insecure and threatened by the fact that they know this to be true. You. Do. Not. Need. Their. Approval.
I've been a stubborn and firm believer in "If you don't want me, I don't want you either." It has never been truer in this moment. If some person or corporation is going to tell you they don't want you because you're not the right size, shape, color or creed, they are not good enough for you, not the other way around.
Let me also remind you that fat girl is now a multi-published author and my clothing didn't have anything to do with that. 
It's not what you wear, it's how you treat people that defines you.


Monday, May 6, 2013

All about my WIP (Work In Progress)

I was asked about my current Work In Progress. I figured I'd share all the deets with you guys too :)

1. What is your working title/title of your book?
 Chasing Dreams (Falling #1)

2. Where did the idea come from for the book? 
I wrote book #3 in this series first. In that story the Heroine's brother is giving her some advice and while he's doing that he highlights a little bit of his own romantic encounter with his wife. I decided I had to see what their story looked like from the inside and went back to write it?

 3. What genre does your book fall under?
  Contemporary Romance.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
 This is so difficult because I can't think of any actors who look like Nathan looks in my head. He's tall, wiry, and athletic. A body like a runner or a swimmer.
The same with Selina although Marion Cotillard could pull it off.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
I haven't actually written one yet so I'll just throw one out there for you.
The Falls bring two people together while life tries to tear them apart.

 6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
 I'll be resubmitting this book to Taliesin Publishing after a request from them to Revise & Resubmit. I'm hoping they'll pick it up.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
 This particular one, ohhh probably about three weeks.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
 Hmmm. I'm not sure I can think of one, honestly. I was told it reads a little like an old Cary Grant movie. I was pretty pleased to hear that. (I love Cary Grant.)

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My Beta (who has been reading and reviewing everything I've written since we were twelve) begged me to tell this story. It's been a favorite of hers ever since.

 10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
It's a little different than my last three published books. 
Nathan Lawson meets Selina LeClezio while on  break in Niagara Falls. Sparks fly the first time they meet and the two quickly jump head first into a fast hot fling. Tragedy strikes and Nathan is pulled away from his week long spring break, and week long tryst much too soon.
While separated the two are dealt heavy struggles and simultaneously lingering feelings that neither had anticipated. Will either one decide to chase their dreams of being together or will it be left to the magic of The Falls to show them their destinies?

It's hot, sweet, and incredibly romantic. I'm not going to lie, though, I'm a little biased... but only a little ;)
I'll keep you all up to date about it but expect to see it out sometime this year :)