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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Long-awaited Updates and Publishing News!

I'm horrible about blogging regularly, so I've stopped trying. LOL. I figure I'll just post when I have something to say, so here I am, finally ready to talk about some stuff.

First, thank you to everyone who's reached out to me since my last post--back in May when I shared my fibromyalgia diagnosis. I'm happy to report that I'm feeling FANTASTIC! The meds have been working wonders. The constant pain and fatigue are rare nowadays, so that's great. I've been committing to the Keto lifestyle--not because I necessarily wanted to, but because I've learned through trial and error that eating too may carbs causes a flare-up. Eating a keto diet helps manage the pain, along with going to the gym regularly, which I'm actually starting to enjoy.

A nice "side-effect" of all this is that I've lost almost 40 pounds and have dropped 3 sizes. Overall, I have more energy and am excited about life again. Oh, and I've started writing again, too...

The book I co-wrote with David Jemal, WARPED REMAINS, is releasing via Anaiah Press on October 22, 2019. Keep an eye out here and on my social media for more updates on this, including the cover reveal.

Remember my book, The Georgia Corbins? Well, I've been busy rewriting it, and I'm excited to announce that book 1 will be released via Anaiah Press in May 2020 with book 2 to follow in November 2020 :-)

I'm also busy working on a ton of other projects, and I'll share more about those later.

That's all for now. Have a great week!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Mid-life Alteration

I've never been shy about sharing my feelings regarding publishing and the many ups-and-downs, but today, I'm getting personal. I'm going to be 40 in June, and I'm at that age where I'm hearing the "over the hill" jokes and the humorous mid-life crisis stories. And sure, they make me laugh, but I've never envisioned myself as the type of person who would have a mid-life crisis. Nor had I ever truly felt my age--until about 6 months ago.

I started feeling bad. Really bad. Downright crappy, if I'm being honest. I was tired all the time, no matter how much I slept. I was having hot flashes and mood swings and I ached everywhere all the time and I had no energy, and I wasn't sleeping well. Of course, I immediately assumed menopause....because, well, I'm going to be 40. Yes, that's super early but not unheard of.

So, I do the grown-up thing and make a visit to my lady doctor. Good news! I'm not menopausal. Yay, right? YES!!! But I still didn't have any answers as to why I was feeling so horrible all the time. My doctor suggested possible thyroid issues and encouraged me to visit my primary doctor to get some blood work done.

Like a good patient, I followed her advice. My doctor tested me for thyroid issues and vitamin deficiencies. Good news! All of my blood work came back normal. Yay, right?? Yes, in the grand scheme of things, that was good news. Real honesty, here...I cried when I got the results. Not because I was happy, exactly, but because I still didn't have any answers about why I'm feeling like I was hit repeatedly by a Mack truck. If it wasn't menopause, and it wasn't thyroid or some vitamin deficiency, then what the heck was wrong with me?!?!

Once again, I trudge back to the doctor's office. I do a full depression screening. A heart test. A bazillion and one questions, and finally, I get an answer.


It's taken me a couple weeks to come to terms with this. While it's not life threatening, there is no cure, and it is absolutely life altering. So, at almost 40 years old, I'm having to take a step back and re-evaluate so many aspects of my life--mostly my diet and limits, both physically and mentally.

I am on medication, and it has helped tremendously. I've also started on the Keto diet, and I'm recommitting to going to the gym more regularly, because a good diet and regular exercise are the best defense against this disease.

Now, you're probably wondering why I'm bothering to share all this with you?

Because for anyone who knows me, you know I don't say "no" easily. I'm always willing to help or get involved, and I'm forever taking on more than I can handle. Not to mention the pressure I put on myself to write all the words all the time. But I've had to face the fact that I just cannot do this anymore. Moving forward, I will be much more selective about what I commit myself to, how many editing jobs I take, and the writing deadlines I set for myself.

So, to those who have messaged me and I've been curt--I'M SORRY. Please don't take it personally. When I'm not my normal chatty self, it's because I'm either busy with family or work stuff, or I'm having a bad health day. And to everyone who's messaged me to check in and ask if I'm okay--THANK YOU!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Going in a New Direction

As you can see, the blog has gotten a face lift. So has my website. Why? Well, because I've made another decision about my career. I know, I'm doing a lot of this lately. I'm still planning to write young adult--that hasn't changed, and it won't in the foreseeable future. However, I'm firmly committing myself to Christian YA, specifically contemporary.

I've been working in this market for years, and I had mentioned in my 2019 Goals post that I'm reworking my Georgia Corbins series into Christian fiction, so this decision really isn't that big of a leap for me. I also started a new book on January 1st--another contemporary Christian YA romance--and I passed 33,000 words yesterday. The story is flowing! Once it's beta read, revised, and edited, I'll begin querying Christian agents.

So, what does this mean for my paranormal romance? Nothing. While it's not Christian fiction, it is "clean" in that there's no cursing, excessive violence, or sex. And my main character does believe in God and heaven, so it certainly has Christian undertones. I'm still waiting for replies from the agents who have it, and if they choose to offer rep, I'll do my due diligence and make a decision that I feel is best for my career. If they all reject, that's okay, too. I'll release it via FireChicken Press.

A heartfelt thanks to everyone who has stuck around through all my ups and downs and direction changes. I wouldn't be where I am without each and every one of you :-)

Stay tuned for upcoming publishing news!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year's Goals: 2019

It's that time of year again!!! GOALS!!! I love setting goals. So, I won't even waste anymore time on anything else. Let's do this.

Finish What I've Started

After taking an inventory of my current half-started projects, I have a lot of stuff to finish. There's also a couple of series not included in my tally that I'd like to finally complete. So, here is the official list of books I'm going to attempt to finish writing this year:

1. The Georgia Corbins, Book 1. I started a total rewrite of this in November 2018, and I've been steadily making progress. I have less than 30K left to write, which will easily be completed by the end of January. While it still has all the same characters, the plot is taking a slight detour away from the original love triangle and it will now have a present faith element. My plan is to publish the entire series via Anaiah Press.

2. The Georgia Corbins, Book 2. I have a complete draft of this written that will need to be heavily revised to be consistent with the changes to book 1, so I plan to do that this year.

3. The Georgia Corbins, Book 3. This is a maybe at this point, because I'm not even sure there will be a book three now. It will all depend on what happens in the first two books.

4. Eternal Bond. This is the sequel to Eternal Curse, a young adult paranormal romance.

5. Untitled, unknown project. Okay, so an editor who rejected my paranormal romance said she loves my voice (which, for you non-writers reading this, that's a HUGE compliment) and that she feels I'm very well-suited to writing YA. She then asked if I had other projects I could pitch to her. So I did. If she likes any of them, I will focus on working on whatever she wants. And, if she doesn't like anything I pitch, I have a super-fun new Christian YA that I'll work on.

Officially launch FireChicken Press, LLC

I have a "work-in-progress" website for FireChicken Press, LLC (FCP, LLC). I'd like to release, at the very least, one book under FireChicken Press in 2019. Right now, it's looking like it will be a YA thriller I'd co-written a couple years ago, but that could very well change depending on what happens with other things.

Read and Blog

These two items are always on my goals list, but this year, I'm combining them because I've decided to be better about reviewing the books I've read. So, as you'll see across the top of this blog, I've added a new tab: BOOK CRAVINGS. This is where I'll be sharing all my bookish thoughts.

Persistence: Slow & Steady

Last year, my focus was on staying positive. While I'm sad to admit I didn't adhere to that as much as I would have liked, there were key moments when I did cling to positive thoughts to get me through. I will continue to do that this year, too, but I'm adding persistence as well. What many of you don't know is that I'm very hard on myself. If I don't write "all the words" every day, I feel like I've somehow failed. So, in 2019, I'm giving myself permission to do less more consistently. Instead of binge writing 5k in a single day and then not writing for a week after, I'm going to pace myself -- 2k a day everyday. After all, slow and steady wins the race, right?

What will you accomplish in 2019? 
Share your goals in the comments!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Looking Back on 2018

I'm not gonna lie... 2018 kicked my ass! I'm pretty sure everyone feels this way in terms of the state of politics in the world, but beyond that, on a much more personal and professional level, this has been a very not good year for me. I'm really optimistic about 2019, though. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's take a look back on the year and see what I accomplished, what I didn't, and what big changes I faced in 2018.

So, my original 2018 goals included: 

(1) Finish Eternal Curse, the first book in my YA paranormal romance series.

Status: GOAL MET!!

My Thoughts: Not only did I finish this book, it made the rounds with several beta readers, and I revised the heck out of it. I'm SO pleased with how this book turned out, and I cannot wait to share it with the world. 

(2) Write the sequel to Eternal Curse.


My Thoughts: I wrote almost 25k of the sequel, currently titled Eternal Bond, and then I stopped because I wasn't sure what was going to happen with book one. I didn't want to get too far into the sequel only to find out I needed to change a lot of stuff. I do have a clear idea of where the story is going now, though, and so now it's just a matter of writing it. 

(3) Write Meet Me at the Mistletoe, a sweet Christmas romance novella for the Christian market.


My Thoughts: This project is temporarily shelved while I focus on building my YA brand.

(4) Finish Deception, the first book in a new Christian romantic suspense series. 


My Thoughts: This project has also been temporarily shelved while I focus on building my YA brand.

(5) Take an inventory of all my half-started YA projects and see if any of them are worth salvaging.

Status: GOAL MET!!!

My Thoughts: Out of 9 started projects, there are 6 of them I think are worthy of pursuing, some of which will possibly be co-written with other authors. 

(6) Query something.

Status: GOAL MET!!

My Thoughts: I sent my first query for Eternal Curse in February, and I've been working at it all year. I've racked up a lot of rejections, but I'm happy to report I have one full and one partial still out with agents. *Fingers crossed* 

(7) Keep on Bloggin'


My Thoughts: There were some weeks when I was really on top of this, but not as much as I would have liked. 

(8) Read

Status: GOAL MET!!

My Thoughts: I'm please with how much I've read this year, which is much more than in past years. Here's what I knocked off my TBR in 2018:

  • Camp So-and-So by Mary McCoy
  • Evernight by Claudia Gray
  • One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus
  • The Leaving by Tara Altebrando
  • There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
  • We All Fall Down by Natalie D. Richards
  • One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards
  • The Cellar by Natasha Preston
  • You Will Be Mine by Natasha Preston
  • The Cabin by Natasha Preston
  • Gone Too Far by Natalie D. Richards
  • Survive the Night by Danielle Vega
  • Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards
  • Campfire by Shawn Sarles
  • The Escape by Hannah Jayne
  • All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
  • Something About Forever by Kimberly Loth
  • Bloodlust & Initiation (Vampire Beach 1 and 2)by Alex Duval
  • Ritual & Legacy (Vampire Beach 2 and 3) by Alex Duval
  • Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
  • Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
  • Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles
  • I'll Be Yours by Jenny B. Jones

Out of 8 goals, I fully achieved four, kinda achieved two, and completely flaked on two. Those numbers could be worse--and they have been in past years. lol. In addition to all of that, there were a lot of other things I accomplished, both professionally and personally...

  • I wrote a total of 135,844 words on various projects.
  • Between here and the Anaiah Press blog, I blogged a total of 11,941 words.
  • For Anaiah, I edited 7 full-length novels and 3 novellas.
  • I freelance edited 3 full-length manuscripts.
  • I beta read 3 full-length manuscripts. 
  • I created and legally formed FireChicken Press, LLC, which is my personal self-publishing company.
  • I returned to working on my YA contemporary romance series, The Georgia Corbins, and have finally made a publishing decision on that. (More to come on that in my 2019 Goals post)
  • I've outlined a couple new YA projects/ideas. 

  • In January, I saw Black Veil Brides in concert with my oldest daughter for her birthday. I'm now a diehard fan of them, and they almost single-handedly fuel the playlist for my paranormal series! 
  • In October, I saw Twenty-one Pilots in concert again with my daughter and her friend.
  • Also in October, I saw Luke Bryan for the very first time! *internal squealing*
  • In November, I saw The Thunder From Down Under. 
  • I made a couple visits to NY to see my parents. 
  • My parents came to MI in November to celebrate Thanksgiving and early Christmas with us. 
  • I got a little red sports car! 

Despite the fact I didn't publish a single thing in 2018, and I didn't snag an agent, I accomplished much more than I realized. I'm calling this a pretty good year overall. 

What did you do this past year?
Share your success in the comments! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Story, A New Venture, A Sad Good-bye, and Taking the Next Steps!

Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that I'm not shy about sharing the lows of the publishing world, and I've had a lot of them lately. It's been quite doom-and-gloom around here, but not today! Today, I have some really exciting news to share. But, before I get into that...


When I got my license, I had high hopes of getting a car. A little red sports car, to be exact. Of course, that never happened. I was in high school still and working part-time at the local Arby's, and my parents were in no position to buy me a car. So, my first car was some clunker--I think it was a Chevette or something. LOL. As I got older, I upgraded cars, drove a couple minivans and SUVs, but still no sports car--until recently. 

This summer, my husband bought me the little red sports car I always wanted: A Pontiac Firebird!

Isn't she pretty??

Shortly after getting the car, my husband jokingly referred to it as "The Fireturd." Thankfully, that nickname didn't stick around long. So, he then affectionately called it "The Firechicken." That name did stick--my kids think it's hilarious, and every time we leave the house, they ask if we're taking the Firechicken. It has quickly become our family joke, and I love it.

So, what does this have to do with publishing?


In my last post, I admittedly whined about the rejections I got for a paranormal romance I was querying. While I'm still saddened by them, I'm happy to report I have received another full request. YAY! So, I'm not giving up on that route, but while I wait, I've decided to focus on something new.

Indie publishing! That's right, I am fully committing to self-publishing. And because I don't ever do anything halfway, I have filed for an LLC and will be creating my own publishing company that will publish just my books.

I'd like to introduce you all to....

FireChicken Press, LLC

That probably sounds like a silly name for a publisher, but as I said, it's solely for my books, and it has special meaning to me. I think it's absolutely perfect!

My daughter even made a couple hand-drawn logos for me!

Isn't she so talented?? Shameless plug time: She'll be opening to custom art commissions soon if anyone is interested. You can find her on her websiteTwitter and DeviantArt.

I've worked in publishing for years, so I know how much work this will be--I'm excited and committed and a tad bit overwhelmed. Which leads me to the next section of this post...


Because of the amount of time and focus self-publishing will take, I made the difficult choice to resign my position at Anaiah Press. While I have thoroughly loved my time there, I know I can't give Anaiah the attention it deserves while also making FireChicken Press successful. My last day will be December 31, 2018.

And now...


It's no huge secret that I got my start in publishing in the secular market--erotic romance, to be exact. While I no longer write that (nor do I plan to do so again), I have been doing some soul searching in terms of what I want to write and publish. I love Christian fiction--it has been my focus for the past 5 years. I love to read it and edit it. Sadly, though, in terms of writing it...well, that's a different story. It's not my passion. Therefore, I will be returning to the secular market.

Under FireChicken Press, LLC, I will be publishing YA, NA, and A across a variety of genres; although all of my books will have an element of romance in them. My NA and A books will have cursing, violence (especially my romantic suspense titles), and possibly sex (but not overly graphic). My YA will be a lot cleaner. So, to all of my CF writers and readers, if you chose not to follow me on this new journey, I 100% understand and support your decision. There are no hard feelings on my end, and I wish you all the absolute best.

For anyone who sticks around, I plan to start by re-releasing an older NA title that I recently got the rights back to---Death of a Waterfall. I'm going to revise the heck out of it, add some new words, cut some words, get new cover art with a brand new title and then unleash it back into the world. My goal is to do so in March 2019. I will follow that up with the sequel (never before released), and then book 3 (also never released). Additionally, I have a book written for one of the secondary characters that I'm super excited about :-)

I have an adult romantic suspense series that I'll be releasing eventually, too. And, of course, I have a TON of YA books that are half-finished that I'll be busy finishing and publishing, starting with my Georgia Corbins series.

So, there you have it. And now, if you'll excuse me, I have some writing to do!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Is There a Place for Me in Traditional Publishing?

So.... It's been an interesting couple of months. I've had some highs and some major lows--I'm talking curl-up-in-a-ball-and-cry lows.

And all of it has made me ask a very hard question:


I'm honestly not sure. Yeah, I know publishing is vast and there's room for everyone. And that I shouldn't write for market trends. And that I need to stay true to myself and write what I want to write. That if one book doesn't sell, move on to the next. Publishing is so subjective. It's not you or your writing--it's the market. I've heard it all. Heck, I've said it all. So, what happened to make me ask this question?

Well, it all started about 8 years ago. (You'd better get comfy. This is going to be a long story.)

I started my writing journey out of boredom. Yeah, I know how that sounds. LOL. Bear with me. I'd always wanted to write a book, and I'd had a lot of false starts, but this time I'd found a story I was excited about and characters I instantly loved. I was determined to finish! And I did. In fact, I wrote the sequel, too. Then I was once again lost...What did I do with it now that it was finished?

I joined a local critique group and realized just how bad it was and how much I didn't know about writing. So, I began the lengthy process of revising. While doing so, I tried my hand at some shorter works--novellas.

And I had some success!!!!

On September 15, 2012, I had my first ever story published. It was an erotic romance novella published by a small press. For the most part, my experience was great! Working with my editor was a good experience. I loved my cover art. My reviews were awesome! My sales could have been better, but I think the pricing was a big factor here (something I had no control over.) I went on to publish two more novellas with this publisher. Those books released December 2012 and January 2013.

While I was working with the above publisher, I was also publishing a couple erotic romance novellas with a different publisher. The first one released in October 2012 with the second releasing in January 2013. Again, good experience, positive reviews, slightly better sales. I went ahead and published a full-length book with this press that released September 2013. Sadly, things went sour shortly after--but that's a different story for a different day.

During this time, I'd finished revising the book of my heart (or I thought it was at the time). It wasn't exactly YA (characters were in college) but it wasn't adult, either. New Adult wasn't even a thing yet. I queried agents, pitching it as an adult romance, and got nowhere with it. Looking back, I know now it should never have been queried. LOL. Live and learn, right? Having had some success and decent experiences with small presses, I began to research those options for this series, too. And guess what?

I had an offer from a small publisher. I signed on the dotted line and was well on my way. The experience with this press wasn't as great as the other two places, but it was okay. Editing was sub-par and sales are almost non-existent. This book released in June 2013. To this day, I have never revised or published the sequel. Partly because I don't want to work with this publisher anymore, but also because I've lost interest in it.

Throughout the process of getting that book published, I was busy working on a new project--a contemporary YA romance. I was so in love with this book and the characters (still am). I eagerly queried agents. Again, I got nowhere! By this point, I was starting to wonder what the heck was going on? How / why could I get published with a small press and have wonderful reader reviews but not be able to get an agent to show any interest? Again, I went back to my the place I knew I could excel--the small press! And again, I got an offer.

My book released in June 2013. I loved everything about this publisher--my editor, my cover art, the staff, the other authors. For the first time since I'd embarked on this journey, I'd truly felt like I'd found my home.

I had big plans, too. I was going to publish everything with this press! This is also where I got my start in editing. Some of my closest writer friends I have today, I met at this publisher. But then things went bad. Horribly bad! You can read about what happened HERE. This experience left me broken and very leery of small presses, and I knew I didn't want to go through anything like that again.

During my time there, I was working on a new project--an adult romantic suspense. When the publisher closed, I vowed to try my hardest to get an agent. I mean, I'd learned so much and was a much better writer. Surely now was my time, right?

And then I got the email -- An agent wanted to have "The Call." I promptly signed with my first agent. I was on top of the world! Together, we edited my book and got it ready to go out on submission. Then we waited and waited and waited some more. I think it was a little over a year before I had to face the fact that my book wasn't going to sell. Talk about soul-crushing!

But I didn't waste all that time just waiting--I had accepted my position with Anaiah Press, and I was busy editing. I also sought a co-author and together, we wrote and published two Christian romantic suspense books. They released April 2015 and February 2016. It was such a wonderful experience that I wouldn't ever change.

Somewhere in all of that, I had a call with my agent where we discussed my career and where to go next. We decided I'd write a contemporary New Adult romance--NA was hot at the time, and I had a fun idea for a series. So, I dove in. By the time I was finished and it went out on submission, we got a lot of "NA isn't selling anymore" rejections. Because, of course. (I'm one of those people that if it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.)

But then! Then we got an offer from a very reputable mid-sized publisher! I was back in the game!!! I published two NA books with this press (under a pen name). They released May 2017 and October 2017. I wish I could say everything was roses and sunshine and rainbows--I really wish I could say that. But I can't :-( You can read about why HERE.

Throughout the years and all the ups-and-downs, I've been working on other things. I haven't finished many of them, but I've been working on different things.

Recently, I finished a project that has taken me 4 years to complete--and it's a book that I love more than anything I've ever written. It's a young adult paranormal romance (very Twilight-esque). I revised and edited and revised some more. I sent it to critique partners and beta readers. I even worked one-on-one with a mentor. I did everything right. I eagerly jumped into the query trenches, knowing this was the best thing I've ever written.

As of today, these are my query stats:

54 total queries sent.
22 rejections
1 full request (ultimately rejected)
1 partial request (ultimately rejected)
32 queries still awaiting a response. (Most of these are due to expire next week and fall under the "no response means no" category.)

Now, a note on the full and partial requests.... Getting those amidst all the rejections was a HUGE boost. Anyone in this business knows how it feels. Sadly, both of those came back as rejections. I was fortunate enough to get feedback as to why, and it boils down to this:

My premise isn't unique enough to stand out in the current market. 

Let that sink in.

My premise isn't unique enough to stand out in the current market. 

It's not my writing. It's not my query letter. It's not my characters. It's not a lack of connection between my book and the agent.

It's. My. Premise! 

The entire concept of my book isn't good enough. Now, tell me, how do I fix that? Short of rewriting the book or shelving it, how do I make my idea--my premise--stand out?

Needless to say, I was gutted. I didn't write or edit or do anything but read and watch TV. Thank God for my awesome writer friends who pulled me out of the dumps. Once I wallowed in it for awhile, I took a deep breath and re-evaluated. I still have queries out, but honestly, I have no hope that any of them will result in a request or an offer.

BUT! Not all is lost. I'd sent it to my editor at my pen-name publisher, and I (naively) put a lot of my hopes into that single query. I prayed that she would love it and want to acquire it. Then I could rest easy knowing it would be published, and I could work with someone who I admire and trust.

Then, a few days ago, I get an email.... My editor has left the publisher.

She assured me my submission would be passed on to a new editor, but...

I'm tired, y'all.

I don't know how much more I can take. I've tried my hand at adult romance, romantic suspense, Christian fiction, young adult, new adult....and I'm not any further ahead in my career than I was way back when I started. In fact, I've gone backward!

And so, I've been pondering the question I posed at the start of this very long post. Is there really a place for me in traditional publishing? Do I even want one anymore? Should I keep trying? If I do, what do I focus on--adult? YA? Romance? Something else entirely? What if I never get another offer? What if I do and it turns out to be another horrible experience? Should I just throw all my efforts into self-publishing? Or should I stick to what I'm good at--editing--and throw in the towel on writing?

I don't have any answers right now. I'm not sure if I will anytime soon, either, but I know I need to do something because I'm taking an emotional beating, and I'm ready to crack.