Thursday, October 30, 2014

How did you choose your genre?


First off, I’d like to thank my fellow Boarders for their amazing posts! I’m loving this blog so far. It’s an honor and a privilege to write alongside you. Okay, brown nosing session officially over…. Guess it’s my turn to chime in, huh?

Well, okay. Since the theme of our blog is weekly thoughts from your friendly neighborhood genres, I thought it might be nice to find out how writers go about choosing their genres. I mean, it’s kind of a big decision, right? Given how much time we spend with our projects, it’s got to be somewhere between who we’re going to marry and what kind of car we’re going to drive. 

I know a lot of writers write within the genres they enjoy reading, but there had to be some aha moment that made you say, “Hey! This is the kind of stuff I want to write. I can do this. Now, where’s my pen?” 

As backward as this might sound, I got the inspiration to write Middle Grade (MG) after reading an MG book that I actually didn’t like. When I finished, I was like, “This thing got published? It sold millions of copies? I can write better than this. I mean, how hard can writing a book for kids be?” Pretty dang hard, it turns out.

MG books still have to have characters with goals, and plots with plot points, and setting, and voice and all the other literary elements that make books worth reading. I had a lot to learn. Still, I wouldn't trade my whacky genre for the world. There’s just something about harnessing your inner twelve-year-old (not much of a reach for me!) and letting him run wild on the pages of your manuscript. Keeps me young and from taking myself too seriously. I also like the idea that I could someday inspire younger audiences to read, something I wish I would have done more of when I was a kid.

Anyway, enough about me. How about you? How did you choose your genre? 

Did you decide on the category first, then come up with the idea? Or did the idea hit you, then you discovered the genre later? Was there a book or series that inspired you to write in a particular area? Perhaps your writing blends or transcends genres. Maybe you refuse to be held down by the man, and thus choose not to label your writing at all. Or maybe your genre chose you... Either way, I'd love to hear about it.

Thanks for sharing, and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by sisters, Jaime Morrow & Erin L. Funk. It's a great way to keep everyone updated on, well, what you've been up to! For a full list of participants or to link your own post, please visit either of their blogs.


I'm really into YA mysteries, specifically the amateur sleuth. I just finished Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor (a must read with great voice!) and I'm currently reading Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance (read this if you love Veronica Mars and who doesn't?).

I'm writing a novella called The Lady in Blue. It's a spin-off of my debut novel, Grunge Gods and Graveyards. It's set in 1955 and it solves the mystery of how the Lady in Blue became a ghost. I love writing a novella -- no major subplots.

I've been inspired by detective series, particularly YA with snarky girls. Love the snark. Want to write the snark.

Not much. I'm trying to balance writing with my three kids and wicked sinus headaches. Ugh, I'm so lame.


I literally just cracked into Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler, so I can’t say much about it yet, but I’ve heard great things! And I adore any book about TV/movie sets.

My WIP, which is currently untitled (hate not having a title), but it’s a fun, chick-lit story!

Currently, I’m just so excited about Taylor Swift’s 1989 album. I adore her. She’s a brilliant writer and reading her lyric books always inspires me to sit down at the computer and push myself to the limit.

Not a whole lot, really. Halloween is Friday, and I’ve got no plans, except to write. The last few years have been quiet, trick-or-treat-wise, which means there will be an abundance of candy lying around the house. This is both good and bad!


I’m about 75% through Defending Jacob by William Landay. I’m enjoying it so far and can’t wait to get to the end to know the verdict!

I have six more chapters to complete for my next novel, Shattered Angel. I’m really excited about this project. It’s different than my first two novels, and I’ve loved the challenge of keeping the darkness of the topic balanced with the right amount of hope.

I keep everything for a WIP—ideas, notes, timelines, character descriptions, etc.—in my computer. However, sometimes I just need to put pen to paper. I recently wrote a part of my WIP that is important to get ‘right’ for the integrity of the plot. I had to go old school and draft the concepts out on paper to make sure it all fit together properly.

I’ve joined a fitness program that has consumed much of my time. I’m in my seventh week and in some aspects it gets easier and in others it’s more difficult. It’s an intense program and although it’s taken away some of my writing time, it’s the best thing for me right now.

* * *

We'd also like to welcome a new contributor to the blog, Brianna Lebrecht! Brianna comes to us in the role of our resident reader, but she's also an aspiring author, like many of us here. Take a minute to pop by our Who We Are page to find out more about Brianna.

And in more fun news, Kimberly recently had her first author event! Check out her blog post here, to see pics and read about her meeting a fan. Also, Carrie had some great feedback on her cover from The Book Designer: Strong concept and lovely execution, especially the beautiful color palette used here. To view the post, go here, and scroll down about 20% (or 21 books).

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Little Mood Music

Hi gang, I'm Nilah, and it looks like it's my turn to post! So, I’ve been falling back into working on a manuscript that’s been haunting me for the past four years. Writing, and plotting, and revising, and round and round I go, but there’s been something nagging me, and two weeks ago I finally couldn’t take it anymore. I banged my fist on the desk, stopped what I was doing right then and opened up a new web browser. It was time.

I needed a playlist.

And not just any playlist; one comprised entirely of piano arrangements. I’d been building it slowly but surely already, picking out a tune here and there and making a note of it for later. Now was finally the time.

I know working to music isn’t for everyone, but for me, it’s something I rarely do without. Maybe because I spent the better part of my childhood in front of the music stand, my fingers plucking away on a violin or a piano or a flute. Maybe it’s simply that I need something to drown out the traffic, barking dogs, and yelling neighbors that normally serve as my life’s soundtrack. In any case, when I sit down to work, selecting the right music is part of my preparations.

For general work, I use the normal sources, like Pandora; I’ve got a few stations set up to cull specific genres of music, and I keep it on shuffle throughout the day when I’m at work. At home I have the option of pulling out my iTunes library and its four days’ worth of tracks. If I’m in a particular mood, I’ll put on a specific album—film soundtracks are great to work to. When I’m illustrating, anything will do, though I tend toward upbeat, energetic music—anything that will keep me awake. When I’m writing, my selections tend to be instrumental or in languages I don’t speak. Music that will set a mood, get my head in the right zone and keep it there.

This manuscript needed its own playlist. Somehow I’ve gone four full years without one, but then it’s only recently hit me what this particular story needs. The main character is a talented pianist, and her music is an ever-present part of her character. 

I’d created a dedicated playlist already for my webcomic. In that case I knew exactly what songs I wanted to include. I used to compile a list of fast, fun, epic music, perfect for an action-adventure narrative. And hey, 8tracks even let me create an album cover for it!

For this project, I started a playlist on YouTube with the random piano songs I’d collected, but it wasn’t enough. I needed a steady stream of music, and I’m not familiar enough with the classical music scene to make my own choices. I turned to Pandora to do what it does best. I gave it a starting point—Michele McLaughlin, whose piece Finn McCool I’d come to think of as the theme of my manuscript—and with a thumbs up or thumbs down here and there, guided it to play only piano music.

And boy, the world of difference it has made! The first time I sat down to write with the gentle drumming of piano keys filling my ears, I knew I’d made the right call. Many of the selections are from contemporary artists, like Jennifer Thomas, David Lanz, Yanni, and Secret Garden, with compositions that are a blend of classic and modern. Their music relaxed me. It’s much easier to zone out, to let distractions drift into the background so that I can immerse myself in the world of my manuscript. I can pretend the music is the soundtrack and play the story like a movie in my head.

This new playlist isn’t just a fun addition to my writing process, but it’s also introduced me to a lot of composers I wasn’t familiar with before, and that’s pretty cool. So, does anyone else like to listen to music as they work?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Trolling the Trolls (Interview with Mary Fan, Editor of the BRAVE NEW GIRLS Charity Anthology)

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!
Hi everybody!  My name is Steve and writing is my game.  No, wait.  I did that wrong.  Steve's the name and the game is called writing.  No.  Wait.  Dammit.  All right, nevermind.  Let's just jump right into it.

For my first post here on Across the Board, I thought I would highlight a great cause and a great author rather than talk about myself.  (Trust me, there will be plenty of time for that later.)  So at the suggestion of fellow ATB contributor Kimberly G. Giarratano, today I'll be interviewing Mary Fan, editor of the upcoming BRAVE NEW GIRLS charity anthology.  Let's dive right in, shall we?


SK: Hello, Ms. Fan, welcome to Across the Board. I think this is the first time I've actually interviewed you, though we've known each other for a while now. Would you say that's because you're completely unapproachable, especially to your fans?

MF: Of course not, Steve. Have you seen me at conventions? I'm a total attention hog! I'm the vendor who flags down anyone who looks my way and assaults them with my pitch, then delves into any marginally related topic the prospective reader wants to talk about. Why, I once spent half an hour listening to a buyer talk about his gaming AI!

Now, I didn't want to hurt your feelings, but because you asked, the reason you've never interviewed me before now is because I have a strict do-not-engage policy when it comes to trolls, and while you don't fall under the narrowest definition of the category, much of your online behavior comes close enough to be highly suspect.

But I broke the policy today because I do enjoy trolling the trolls once in a while.

SK: Troll.  Hmm.  Well, we're here today to talk about BRAVE NEW GIRLS, a really great charity anthology you're curating along with Paige Daniels that encourages women to work in STEM. First, what is STEM and do you have any personal experience in the field?

MF: STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. These careers can range from marine biology to computer programming to mechanical engineering and more. These are some of the fastest growing career fields, especially because of the rise of computer-based technology, and yet women make up only 26% of the workforce. And it's not just a matter of a generation catching up on the education front – the numbers of college women majoring in STEM fields are pretty low (only 0.4% of incoming freshman women indicated they would major in computer science, even though programming jobs are some of the most lucrative ones out there).

I must confess that I'm adding to the sad statistics, since I'm actually an engineering dropout. I was a total nerd all throughout grade school (Science Olympiad was my sport) and entered university on the engineering track, but switched into the liberal arts program after a year because my artsy side overruled my nerdy side (I ended up a music major). But you'd be surprised how handy a basic STEM education can be even if you don't wind up working in one of those industries. Especially for a sci-fi writer. And a lazy person who would rather rig Excel to populate the data for me than copy-paste it all myself.

SK: I assume the title comes from the track Brave New Girl from Britney Spears's 2003 album In the Zone. Can you explain why you chose to name the collection after a pop song, admittedly a catchy one?

MF: Now, now, Steve. You should know better than that! After reading BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS, I thought for sure that you were familiar with Huxley's dystopian classic, BRAVE NEW WORLD. Which in turn got its title from a verse in Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST.

But alas, it appears I gave you too much credit for being well-read, since clearly you are more familiar with washed up pop stars than literature's Grand Masters.

SK: Washed up?!?!?!?  You're dead to me now.  But the show must go on.

So, you've shared a lot of stark statistics about the state of women in STEM on Twitter, Tumblr, and elsewhere. SPOILER ALERT: the numbers are pretty wretched. From more of a philosophical, big-picture perspective, why do you suppose girls generally speaking are unwilling or perhaps are discouraged from working in STEM?

MF: I believe the lack of girls in STEM is due to lingering cultural stereotypes about what women should and should not be. And it starts very young. Traditionally, boys are given engineering-type toys to play with—robots, building toys, microscopes—while girls are given princess dolls, sparkly hair accessories, and frilly dresses. Girls are praised for being nice and pretty, rather than for exploring and trying new things (especially if it involves making a mess).

And then the stereotypes continue into the teen years, when nerdy activities are seen as being for the socially awkward. Any girl who wants a shot at popularity knows that spending her afternoons building robots will make everyone view her as a geek. In the immortal words of Mean Girls, STEM-related extracurricular activities are "social suicide".

So by the time they reach college and are choosing a career, many young women have it ingrained in their heads that STEM fields aren't for them. And the attitude prevails even in the workforce. Women in tech are treated as oddities in male-dominated offices, which can be quite discouraging (especially when their male coworkers objectify them—"Whoa, you're a programmer? You're cute for a coder!")

SK: Tell us a little about that cover. That was, like, clip art from MS Word, right?

MF: Totally. It's not like we worked with a professional art team to create it from scratch or anything. Or asked them specifically to avoid the hypersexuality many illustrated sci-fi and graphic novel covers sport.

Oh wait, we did. Kudos to Streetlight Graphics for an awesome bit of art, even though some people can't tell the difference between a painting and an emoji.

SK: Well, thanks for being with us today, Mary, and for helping me through my inaugural blogpost here on Across the Board. Any parting shots for your fans?

MF: Just want to let everyone know that we're on track for a Summer 2015 release of BRAVE NEW GIRLS. We're in the process of collecting submissions for the anthology (deadline is November 15) and will announce our final author lineup late December.

Stay tuned!


BRAVE NEW GIRLS is a forthcoming young adult science fiction anthology edited by sci-fi authors Paige Daniels and Mary Fan. The collection will feature tales of teen girls with a knack for science and technology - hackers, mechanics, engineers... the possibilities are unlimited! The book will be published summer 2015 in both e-book and paperback formats, and it will feature illustrations from various artists. All proceeds will be donated quarterly to a scholarship fund for girls through the Society of Women Engineers.

About Mary Fan:

Mary Fan lives in New Jersey, where she is currently working in financial marketing. She has also resided in North Carolina, Hong Kong, and Beijing, China. She has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember and especially enjoys the infinite possibilities and out-of-this-world experiences of science fiction and fantasy.

Mary has a B.A. in Music, specializing in composition, from Princeton University and enjoys writing songs as much as writing stories. She also enjoys kickboxing, opera singing, and exploring new things--she'll try almost anything once.

You can find her on TwitterFacebookTumblrher blog, or her website.

Monday, October 20, 2014

What's the Big Deal About Romance Novels?

Hi everyone. I'm Amy Jarecki, and I'm the romance writer and a member of this blog. I'm so happy to be here among other authors who write in many interesting genres. Today I thought I'd chat about writing romance. Sometimes people make a sour face when I say I write romance, but after they've read one, I hear comments like: "...gee, I never would have picked up this book, but I really enjoyed the story."

And that's the bottom line. It's still a story. A romance novel can be historical, contemporary, paranormal, young adult, fantasy, suspense, inspirational, and more. It's almost like it has all the genres sub-categorized under the major genre, ROMANCE.

And yes, romance is the largest selling genre out there. Avid readers of romance can devour a book a day, and they are ever-hungry for high quality stories. Though I have dabbled in contemporary romance, I've hit the benchmark of being Amazon's #1 bestseller in Scottish historical romance. And like all authors in this genre, it makes my skin crawl when someone says...."Historical romance? Oh. You write bodice rippers," as if I couldn't possibly write a real story.

Just like any historical novel, I do a ton of research and plotting before I start typing. And my novels always have a strong element of action/adventure. But I digress. What makes a romance? The Romance Writers of America will say: a love story with a satisfying ending (a HEA...happily ever after...or, in the case of NA or YA, happy for now). In addition, a love story will have strong elements of other genres, just like a straight historical novel by Wilbur Smith will undoubtedly have romance (though it might not have a HEA).

Not all romances are sizzling hot with steam emitting from their pages. There are different heat levels and a number of reviewers will use guidelines, such as:
  1. Sweet
  2. Sensual
  3. Sizzling
  4. Erotic Romance (has a main story other than the sex).
  5. Erotica ( know...)
The other day I heard a romance author lecture about writing historical romance, and she said the hero and heroine must meet within the first five pages. I have to agree that's a pretty good rule...but I happen to break it all the time. I guess it depends on the other elements of the story that will determine when the H and H meet.

I've also read manuscripts from new authors that weren't romances at all (though they thought they were). So, if you're not sure, ask yourself if the love story is the most important part of the plot. If the answer is yes, then it's a good bet it's a romance.

Regardless of what genre you write, the most important thing is to do it!

~Write on! 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Making a long story short

I just finished writing a YA science fiction short story for the Brave New Girls anthology (you’ll hear more about the anthology from Mary Fan in Steve’s post next week) and I thought it would be cool to talk about short story writing. So often, writing blogs focus on novels, genre and publishing, even though the short story is often the author’s first foray into writing. Whether you started out writing Winnie the Pooh fan fiction (raises hand) or a crackpot fairy tale in the third grade, you began with the short story.

Although I find it challenging, the short story is my favorite story form to write. Not only do I have to develop an entire story arc in less than 10,000 words but I also have to create a clever ending or unique story twist – something to leave a lasting impression on the reader. I try to model my stories after Twilight Zone episodes. Clever. Dark. Thematic. Allegorical. Except, I’m no Rod Serling.

Short story writing allows me to open up creatively. I had never written science fiction before several weeks ago. But when the opportunity to contribute to the Brave New Girls anthology came up, I decided to try writing in a new genre. Believe me, it wasn’t easy. The story only took a week to draft, but a month to revise. Because not only did I set the story twenty years in the future, I made up a complicated mystery plot that required some knowledge of technology – knowledge I don’t possess (seriously, I barely utilize 5% of my iPhone’s potential). And without ruining the ending for anyone, I also decided to try my hand at a writing technique I’d never done before. But – and this is key – because of the short form, I was willing and excited to take the risk. It’s a lot easier to rewrite a 10,000-word story than it is a 90,000-word novel. And I’ve done both.

But don’t just take my word for it, let’s hear what my blog buddy, Steve, has to say. His horror short story, “Exploding Shit Zombies”, was published in At Hell’s Gates, a horror charity anthology. The proceeds benefit Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which supports men and women in the armed forces. Steve is also the author of several novels including Braineater Jones (which is on sale!) and The Ghoul Archipelago. He is also a very funny dude and his hesitantly-given writing advice is dead on (no pun intended).

KGG: What was the inspiration for "Exploding Shit Zombies" (genius title, by the way)? How did you get involved with the At Hell's Gates anthology?

Steve: Thanks for the compliment!  I'm glad you asked because there's actually a good story behind that.  This past summer I did an interview for the Books, Beer, and Blogshit site.  One of the questions was, "Would you survive your own zompocalypse?"  I had never, in fact, written about what happened in my current hometown of Harrisburg, PA.  Shortly after that I did an interview with horror author extraordinaire Sharon Stevenson (who, as it turns out, was also included in AT HELL'S GATES) and she asked me if, after BRAINEATER JONES and THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO, I intended to reinvent the zombie yet a third time.  The two questions began to coagulate in my mind, but it finally all came together when Sylvia Bagaglio, an excellent reviewer for Bookshelf Bombshells, tweeted me asking, "Do zombies poop?"  I answered all three questions in one stroke, like the tailor of the old children's story.

I got involved with the anthology when I was invited into a writing group by Shana Festa, the author of TIME OF DEATH: INDUCTION.  One of the ideas pitched by the group was a novel boxed set, which gradually morphed into a short story anthology since so many of us did not have the rights to our novels to include in a separate boxed set.  Devan Sagliani, the author of the UNDEAD LA series, offered to spearhead the anthology.  Of course, we don't have the backing of a major publishing house, so paying a stipend to the authors was not feasible unless someone was going to go out of pocket.  We all agreed that the best thing to do would be to make it a charity anthology, and after some discussion we selected the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and I couldn't be happier that it happened that way.  I think everyone should buy the book, because at a minimum, even if you hate it, at least you contributed to a worthy cause.  But you probably won't hate it.  :)

KGG: How do you plan a short story? Do you start with a premise, a character, or a setting?

Steve: Oh.  Plan.  Um...plan...  Well, a short story as a character study would probably be pretty crappy.  I mean, I would take the rule of thumb that you really only have time to develop one character in a short story, and all the others need to be drawn rather broadly.  Similarly, a setting you could probably dabble in, but you wouldn't really have a whole lot of room to sandbox.  So I guess using the Three Card Monte skeptic's trick, I would say you have to start with a premise.

KGG: One of the challenges of writing a short story is developing a story arc in such a short word count. What advice do you have for writers who are overwhelmed with the task of having to do this?

Steve: Well, I don't normally give writing advice.  Know that this speaks volumes to how much I respect you, personally, KGG, that I am breaking my usual rule.

So here's what I think about writing a short story: every short needs to be "The Sixth Sense."  With a novel you can develop rhythms and flows and things, but with a short story it's all about the payoff at the end.  There needs to be some kind of sting, twist, or pun at the end that tells us why we just spent ten thousand words learning about this world instead of a hundred thousand.  Think of The Lottery, or A Rose For Emily, or the Gift of the Magi.  It's all about setting up a vignette, then flipping the script.  So make sure you know what your big punch at the end is going to be, and then build towards that, rather than leaving it open-ended so you can develop your story organically, as you would with a novel.

KGG: Yes! I totally agree. I know you submitted a short story for Brave New Girls -- can you sum up the story in one sentence?

Steve: The real explanation for the Kelly-Hopkinsville incident.

Besides cool charity anthologies, there is still a paying market for short stories. I just submitted an old YA ghost story I had written to a paying publication and if it gets selected, I will plotz.

Check out the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Short StoryContest. The deadline is January 31st, 2015. And there’s still time to submit to the Brave New Girls Anthology (deadline: Nov. 15).

What say you, dear readers? Do you love reading and writing short stories? Are you working on any? What are your favorites?

Monday, October 13, 2014

I survived the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

I vividly remember the first time I went skydiving when I was in college. The rush of fear and excitement surged through me with a pounding force from the moment the instructor told me to step out of the plane. In a flash the things that could go wrong cycled through my mind, such as my chute not opening or landing wrong. Despite my fear, I stepped out and grabbed the wing strut. Holding on, feeling the pull of the wind as I flew along with the plane, feet suspended in the air, anticipating the signal from the instructor to let go—I can still feel it all these years later. Each time I jumped caused the same reaction—however it’s not the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

It was publishing my first novel.

I’m an engineer by degree. I’ve spent most of my corporate career in marketing. Although I knew I was a talented communicator, there’s a huge difference between corporate communications and writing a novel. Also, I can’t spell to save my life. I’m sure you will find a few errors in my various blog posts as I don’t run these by my proof-reader. Not surprising, the concept of writing a novel was beyond left field.

I’ve always been one to believe in things happening for a reason, and that I have a path I’m destined to take. Not everyone is looking for that ‘life purpose’ but I was. I had been discussing this need with my book club gals and one suggested I write a book. I really thought she was crazy—or drunk—but I politely smiled and nodded my head. She didn’t need to know I’d let the idea go from my mind immediately.

However, when fate stepped in a few weeks after that comment with a dream I knew I was going to write a book. It wasn’t, “Could I turn this into a book? Do I even want to write a book?” It was, “Oh crap. I’m writing a book.”

For months I kept it to myself. I was scared people would laugh if I told them. I was convinced they would think, “Oh great. She’s going to expect me to read it since we’re friends, and I’ll have to think of a polite way to tell her it’s not good. Not at all.” They might even evaluate our friendship—thinking it might be easier to break it off than read my so-called book.

A few months and chapters in I found the courage to tell my husband. He only laughed a little, but I could tell he was unsure of the whole idea. However, to his credit of being a wonderful husband he supported me the entire way. After confessing to my husband, I figured it was also time to tell my book club. We are a small group of women that have been meeting for almost 10 years. In that time they have become family. I knew that if I couldn’t tell them, there would be no way I could entertain the idea of publishing it. I had sent my book club what I’d complete up to that point, and made it clear I didn’t want any false praise. It was the most critical time for them to be the true and honest friends I knew they were and tell me the truth about what I was writing.

To my relief, they loved it and encouraged me to keep going. Yet my self-doubt still kept me thinking, “Sure they love it. They’re my friends. And when expectations are low, it doesn’t take much to impress.” Somehow I found a way to push down the doubt and finished the first draft of the manuscript. To help me understand if it was truly publish worthy, I found someone I didn’t know who was willing to read it and provide feedback.

To say I was a nervous wreck is an understatement. I stalked my email hourly around the time she said she might finish. I can’t describe the amount of relief and joy I felt when she emailed saying she loved it.

That’s when I finally started to research the process for getting it published. In some ways, I think not looking into the publishing process until I was done with the manuscript helped me finish. I felt like I was writing for me, not for anyone else. Well, also for my book club gals who were texting me ruthlessly when they needed another chapter! For various reasons I decided to self-publish, not even attempting to contact a book agent. I could tell you all those reasons, but if I’m being honest it all sums up to me being too impatient and too much of a control freak. As I navigated the unknown self-publishing process, I found it to be more intimidating than difficult.

I relied on family and friends to beta read and proof-read the manuscript. I knew I was blessed with amazing people in both these departments, but it really came to light during the beta process. None were shy about giving me feedback and telling me exactly what they thought, both good and bad. I believe that having so many different perspectives was one of my most successful steps in this process.

The next step was where I put my money since I felt was just as important as the content—the cover design. Being self-published, a vast majority of my book sales come from on-line retailers. This meant I had to have a cover that stood out from the others, looked professional, and captured the reader’s attention. I found a designer, Scarlett Rugers, who did an amazing job.

The next scariest moment came when I was finally able to click the publish button. I had done it. I had put myself out there for everyone to judge and criticize. I don’t typically take criticism well and I usually try to avoid it. I can’t even tell you all the feelings I went thorough in that moment. They were all mixed up and making me excited and proud and anxious and nauseous all at the same time.

But what I can tell you is that I survived. More than that, I’ve found the purpose I’ve been looking for all these years. I’m humbled each time I receive an email or review from someone (both who I know and don’t know) telling me how much my words have impacted them.

It has shown me that the most rewarding things in life are the scariest to consider.

If there’s something that you want to pursue but fear is holding you back, just take a leap. Life is too important to spend your time worrying about what could happen. I can assure you, while you might be able to accurately think of all the things that can go wrong, you won’t be able to accurately imagine all the wonderful feelings that come with following through.

I know there are some people who pursue a dream, only for it to not work out the way they had hoped. (notice that I didn’t say ‘only for it to fail’...) I can imagine it must hurt and cause you to think maybe you shouldn’t have done it in the first place. The thing is, that pain will fade. Eventually you will be able to see what you had accomplished and feel the joy in having done something so important to you personally. It might even lead you to something even more rewarding that you didn’t know was in your future.

However, regret is something that never fades—at least not until the point at which you finally follow through.

Maybe you want start a blog, join a gym, write a book, tell someone how you feel about them, apply for a new position...

Whatever it is—don’t let fear hold you back. It might not turn out as you had hoped, or it might turn out better than you expected.

Either way, you will survive. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Our First Post

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Hi there! This is the first post for our group blog and we're excited to introduce ourselves to you! As is mentioned to the right, we're a diverse group of writers: MG, YA, Romance, Women's Fiction, Graphic Novels, & Horror. Our hope with this diversity is to be fresh and new and to appeal to many. We'll be posting twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays. We'll be witty and intelligent and lots of fun(we hope...). Guess we'll leave that verdict up to you all!

Today, each of our contributors have answered two questions, as a way to get a glimpse into our sparkling personalities.

1.) What did you want to grow up to be when you were little?

Carrie: The first thing I remember wanting to be when I grew up was an actress. I remember having that 'dream' for several years and vowed I would someday move to Hollywood. However, I must not have been that serious about it because I never once tried out for a play or looked into the drama club. For a short while I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. As I approached the end of high school when I had to be serious about my career choices, I considered child psychology but ended up selecting engineering.

Kimberly: Funny, but I kinda want to be an actress now and star in quirky indie films. I think 35 is a bit late to make this happen though. When I was little I wanted to be Murphy Brown. I thought I'd be a foreign correspondent and live in Paris, even though I'd been studying Spanish since I was 12.

Amy: I think I changed my mind every-other week...nun and basketball player for the Globe Trotters comes to mind (my name was Trotter). But once I made my decision to be a dancer, I was committed. I spent every spare moment at the ballet studio...worked there, did my homework there. When I was in high school, I was accepted into the ballet company, and once I graduated, I toured with a Broadway show for three years. So, I guess I lived the dream for a while.

Stephen: When I was a child I always wanted to be a contributor on a group blog. Sadly, I'm far too old for that possibility to ever...but wait!

Nilah: Hah, this changed week to week! For a long time I wanted to be a vet or a zoo keeper. I really love animals and wanted to be around them all the time. Then for a while I was pretty sure I was going to be a concert flutist and play in symphonies. But in the meantime I was drawing all the time, and at some point it hit me that maybe being an artist wasn't a bad idea.

Jonathan: I have major Peter Pan Syndrome, so the idea of growing up gives me the heebeejeebees. Butt thinking like a kid (see how I did that?) really comes in handy when writing MG. In my younger years, I definitely wanted to be a Veterinarian. What kid wouldn't want to play with animals all day?

Beth: I have always wanted to be a writer. I used to "write" squiggly lines, and then scotch tape the paper together into a "book" when I was 3 or 4. Of course, I went through the usual I-want-to-be-a-vet/ I-want-to-be-a-toy-store-owner/ I-want-to-work-on-the-Wheel-of-Fortune-set-and-be-best-friends-with-Pat-Sajak-and-Vanna-White stages that most kids do. And in college I fell in love with TV when I interned for Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon. But writing's always been #1!

Leandra: I wanted to be a mountain climber when I was little. I loved looking at pics of them doing their thing in National Geographic magazines. After my mountain climbing phase, I went through a veterinarian phase(that puts our count of used-to-wanna-be-vets at four!). My vet dreams lasted through most of grade school until I realized I just didn't have the drive to go to eight+ years of college. I settled with reading James Herriot instead!

2.) What kind of beverage are you?

Carrie: Wow, I've never thought about this before. I guess I'd have to say Sweet Tea - sometimes it's a little too sweet, sometimes it's a little too strong, but when the two sides are in balance it's amazing!

Kimberly: Sangria! I make the best sangria. A good Rioja wine, brandy, sugar, a splash of orange juice and sliced fruit. Top it off with sparkling water. Festive and fun -- that's me.

Amy: You mean I have to pick only one? As a romance author a few risque cocktails come to mind, but I'll settle for a B52. A bit of a bombshell, its layered first with Kahlua, giving just enough caffeine for a wee kick, followed by silky smooth Bailey's Irish Cream that rolls across your tongue, then laced with tangy orange Grand Marnier *licks lips* Mm--sweet, seductive and powerful.

Stephen: Bourbon. Neat. And I shouldn't have to specify "neat."

Nilah: Hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top in a nice big mug! Mmm that sounds pretty good right about now...

Jonathan: I'm a Lightning T'zin (the T is silent). Never heard of it before? Well, that's because they only serve it on Venus. It's a cocktail that will literally make your hair stand on end when you drink it. Zap!

Beth: I spent an embarrassing amount of time thinking this answer through. I'm not much of a drinker, but my final answer is a Long Island iced tea. I like iced tea, and I'm from Long Island. So, there you go.

Leandra: An extra bubbly diet vanilla pop! In a Mason jar with a striped straw(though I'd like to try one of those Lightning T'zins...).

For a more in-depth look at us, please feel free visit our Who We Are and Our Books tabs. And we'd love if you checked back with us on Monday, Oct. 13th, for our next post. Have a great weekend everyone!

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