Friday, February 14, 2014


Happy Valentine's Day! My newest release, Valkyrie's Kiss,  is available today!

There's a story behind this story - well, a very short one. Some time ago, my sister and I challenged each other to write a racy romance. Just for fun. And guess what? It was so much fun! I had so much fun writing Valkyrie's Kiss that I decided to submit it to Evernight Publishing. I guess they had fun reading it, because they sent me a contract!

Valkyrie's Kiss is the second book in The Rise of the Valkyrie series. These lower goddesses bound by ancient rules are ready to start shaking things up! Valkyrie's Kiss is the story of Sabrina, a Valkyrie who finds herself breaking all the rules of her kind to save a mortal, Sergeant Jesse Moran. Enjoy!

Valkyries have one simple duty—to find heroes and mark them for Valhalla with a deadly kiss. But when Sabrina stumbles upon courageous Sergeant Jesse Moran on a dusty street in Kandahar, she breaks all the rules of her kind and saves his life.

After more than a century of service on the battlefield, Sabrina has lost her enthusiasm for sending heroes to the court of Valhalla, with its petty squabbles and corruption, and wants Jesse to have the chance to lead a full life. But with each tender touch, with each lingering gaze, she grows less sure that she can resist his tempting lips.

Racing against the clock of her own desire, Sabrina seeks help from the most dangerous immortals, risking her own sanity to save him. But the touch of his hungry hands and his insistent, sumptuous mouth are driving her into unknown realms of desire. Even if she can battle the immortal forces and find a way to save his life, will Sabrina be able to sacrifice the feel of his mortal body against hers and let him go?

Chapter 1 Excerpt:
I wanted to kiss him the moment I laid eyes on him, but of course that was the one thing I most definitely could not do.
The young girl with the AK-47 held him steady in her sights. I watched him kneel and carefully lay his weapon down, the ease of his movements stealing my breath. His face was hidden behind a pair of tinted sunglasses, his body encased in Army green and tan fatigues, but I could see his strong chin and tanned skin.
He knelt opposite the girl, unmoving. In this place of swirling dust and daily eruptions of gunfire and explosions, his complete and utter stillness was captivatingthe sound of shouting retreated and fell away. Automobiles and trucks on the nearby supply road quieted. The very air seemed to halt, the dust falling to the ground like litter.
The American soldier said something. I was too far away to hear the words, but their tone, even at a distance, was calm and soothing. The girl rocked on her feet, but kept the muzzle of the gun leveled at his chest. Tears ran down her dirty cheeks, mixing with rivulets of sweat dripping from her dark hair, giving her face a Madonna-like sheen.


Monday, February 10, 2014


Yay! I've got cover art for Valkyrie's Kiss.

What's it about? Here you go...

Valkyries have one simple duty – to find heroes and mark them for Valhalla with a deadly kiss. But when Sabrina stumbles upon courageous Sergeant Jesse Moran on a dusty street in Kandahar, she breaks all the rules of her kind and saves his life.

After more than a century of service on the battlefield, Sabrina has lost her enthusiasm for sending heroes to the court of Valhalla, with its petty squabbles and corruption, and wants Jesse to have the chance to lead a full life. But with each tender touch, with each lingering gaze, she isn’t sure she can resist his tempting lips. Racing against the clock of her own desire, Sabrina seeks help from the most dangerous immortals, risking her own sanity to save him. But the touch of his hungry hands and his insistent, sumptuous mouth are driving her into unknown realms of desire. Even if she can battle the immortal forces and find a way to save his life, will Sabrina be able to sacrifice the feel of his mortal body against hers and let him go?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

An Alternative to Donald Maass’s 'New Class System'

If you haven’t read Donald Maass’s blog post, The New Class System, on Writer Unboxed, run over there and take a look. The response to this post has been varied and those of you embracing it surprise me.

Yes, it’s valuable to get an insider’s look from the men in the ivory tower, but is it really a reflection of the publishing industry today?  

Maass’s post really got under my skin. It’s taken me a few days to figure out why it bothered me so much. With all due respect to Donald Maass, I don’t believe that embracing a class system breeds creativity and innovation. And for those of us in the indie trenches, it doesn’t ring true with our experience.

So as a ‘freight’ writer, here’s my take on the new class system:
When I first started writing, there weren’t many career paths available to a young woman who wanted to be a novelist. Most advice centered around holing up in the basement and writing your guts out, giving it to a few trusted friends and readers (yes, back then it was encouraged to have family and friends give feedback) and if they liked it, you were ready to query an angel above (an agent) and if he or she thought you had the ‘right stuff’, you magically became a novelist. Later, the writing group was touted as the best way to achieve publication. Create a writer’s group with any other writers in your area (this was before the Internet made it possible to get in touch with others writing in the same genre). My first group consisted of three middle aged men and me. I was twenty-four and writing YA. They hated my stuff and I hated theirs right back.
If you had the time and money, you could go for an MFA in Creative Writing, but that was only for ‘serious’ writers and if you liked horror or romance or any genre book, you were discouraged from wasting your time and money in grad school. If you don’t believe me, just go take a look at some of Stephen King’s old comments about genre writing.

So I spent a few years trying to write ‘serious fiction’ and was basically miserable and not having any fun. Over the years I had a few bites with agents, but they all fizzled and I was left feeling like a complete failure. Here’s the thing – how long can a person do what they love, strive for the profession they want and succeed with NO positive feedback at all. With no encouragement, no paycheck, no employee of the month plaque? It might sound silly but without some kind of validation, you can easily spiral into a pit of despair. No wonder writers have a reputation for heavy drinking!

Maass’s class system got me thinking about my husband’s job. He’s an architect and architects, like most professionals, have a ladder of achievement available to them. Taking a cue from other professions, this is how I see my publishing world.

I think of apprenticeship as the time we writers spend in writing groups and online classes, trading stories on Wattpad and writing fan fiction. It’s a time of exploration and a time to see if writing is really what you want to do. I spent a lot of time in various writing groups but I wish I’d had the benefit of some of the online resources earlier. Of course these resources aren’t a replacement for sitting down and slaving away in the basement, but they can be a huge source of validation in the lonely world of writing. Here you can find mentors and co-workers, tutorials and guidance.

According to my dictionary, internship is defined as “practical experience for beginners in an occupation or profession”. This is the opportunity that the e-book revolution provides for writers like me. We can self-publish anything from a short story to a tome of high fantasy fiction. We can write fan fiction. We can publish on Wattpad. We can submit to small e-publishers. We have a starting point for our careers. Yes, there is a lot of what Maass calls “purple prose” and “stereotypes” and “heavy-handed plots”, but even if we commit these grave sins and appall the first class, we are still learning. We’re getting feedback from readers. If we go with a small publisher or hire an editor, we get the invaluable experience of what publishing really entails. It was an eye-opener for me and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It has made me a better writer and helped me narrow the focus of what I want to achieve with writing.
You can also attend writing conferences and seminars to learn more about the craft and the type of writing career you want to pursue.

You can join professional writing organizations at any time. There are so many, that I can’t list them all here but they are a great resource. I found my publisher in a list on the Romance Writers of America website. Once you start publishing, most of these organizations have some form of certification. Romance writers can achieve PRO or PAN (Published Authors Network) status by hitting certain requirements. These certifications might lead to other opportunities like teaching an online class or giving a seminar at a conference. These things give you a sense of accomplishment and some validation in your chosen field. They also open doors and put you in a position to meet other writers and editors with similar interests or goals.

Professional Writer
A professional writer makes money writing. Income varies as it does in most professions. You might make ten bucks or you might make millions. You might be a part time professional, supplementing your income with royalties. You might write full time and make the same salary you’d make working at McDonalds. You might write six books a year or one every two years. You might publish with Harlequin’s Carina Press, Random House or one of the many small publishers. You might publish yourself.
In my opinion, if you are writing consistently, submitting, publishing, and have built some sort of reader base, then you are a professional writer.

I’m a full-time Mom. I have writing goals, but I don’t expect to make six figures. If I make enough money this year to take my kids on vacation, I’ll be thrilled. Those are my goals.

I don’t think I’m a bad writer, but I also know that I have a lot to learn. I want to learn. I bought books like Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel and attended his Storymasters seminar. Did I learn a lot from these books and others? Absolutely. But you know what? I’ve learned a whole lot more after jumping on the freight train and publishing my first book with an e-publisher. I’ve learned more since it’s release than I learned in the thirteen years I spent writing alone, kicking it old school. 

The e-publishing revolution that Maass says isn’t happening, has changed everything for me. Instead of slaving away in isolation and having only writer’s groups for a sounding board, I’m getting out there. I’m getting feedback from readers, from editors and publishers. For the first time, I have a road to possible success that doesn’t involve me working hard and holding onto the hope that I’ll write one magically perfect book that will spiral me to success. 

I am a writer. I have readers. I wish I'd jumped into the new system sooner. Maybe I’ll always be a freight class writer and maybe I’ll only have freight class readers (I love you guys!), but you know what? I’m happy and I’m striving for success one book at a time. What’s more, first class or freight, I am a working novelist. And that’s all I ever wanted to be.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Edits Sent!

Whew! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. I turned in my first edits for Valkyrie’s Kiss last night. My second editing experience was just as much of a learning experience as the first! In fact, one of my favorite things about publishing is the editing process.

This morning, while I hung my head over a cup of extra strength coffee and muttered something about going to bed right after dinner tonight, my daughter said, “I thought editors did all the work.”

I think this is a commonly held belief. I’m sure I thought the same thing at one time. I would write my novel and an editor would come along, like a pen wielding fairy godmother, and make it all beautiful and perfect. The truth, of course, is something else entirely!

I love my editor. She’s honest. She’s encouraging. She’s good. She forces me to be a better writer. Yes, she catches those tiny typos and formatting errors, but the best part of the editing experience is story editing. That’s where the magic happens. That’s also where you feel like throwing your laptop through a window or torching the pages and pages of your red-inked manuscript. It’s extremely frustrating. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to grow.

After this second round of editing, I feel like a better writer. I can’t wait to publish another manuscript, just so I can go through it all again! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Guest Post: Melissa Frost

Good morning! I'm so happy to have Evernight Teen author Melissa Frost visiting today!  Let's talk about her newest release, The Dating Tutor: Alec's Story!

Drawing the Line…

The Dating Tutor series is my first attempt at the young adult genre. When I decided to tackle something for a younger audience, I realized I had to censor myself for the first time. With my other works, I don’t cut violence or sexual content. Real life isn’t censored; I’m not going to do so with my writing. I want it to be gritty and real.

With the young adult, I wanted the same, but I had to delicately balance what I felt was acceptable content in a teenager’s life. I had to draw the line on what was okay and what wasn’t. As a result, I discovered something about writing for young adults, not only is it fun, but it forced me to be more creative. Young adult has a more romantic element to it because there is a lack of the frank language used in adult novels. I was inspired to be more imaginative in my description, more romantic in the characters’ actions. With an adult novel, we know where things are headed – sex. With young adult, that isn’t always so. Things can progress differently and at a slower pace. It was very refreshing. It was a nice break from what I usually write.

I will enjoy returning to my uncensored self, but I have definitely found a love for writing in the young adult genre. I look forward to doing so again.

Here is a sexy excerpt from The Dating Tutor: Alec’s Story –

“Can you help me learn how to kiss?”

He jumped back as if he’d been burnt. “What?” His voice was an octave higher than usual, causing him to cringe with embarrassment. Her request was just so sudden and unexpected. He’d been trying to ease back into normal territory, and she’d blindsided him with this.

“I don’t really know what I’m doing…and you seem to be the expert. I just thought…” She shrugged, her eyes lowering shyly to her hands. “I thought maybe you’d practice with me…or teach me. Whatever.”

“When?” he asked, voice sounding pained. He felt like a deer, trapped in the headlights of an oncoming car. He saw the danger as it raced toward him, but he was unable to get out of its path.

She shrugged again before motioning to the television. “It’s almost intermission…”

Intermission. She wanted to do this now. Panic welled within him. He knew he should tell her no. He knew he should stop things from getting any more abnormal between them, but the thought of kissing her was too enticing to let pass.

He swallowed thickly before bobbing his head in agreement. Ignoring the rest of the period, he shifted closer to her on the couch and curved his arm around her waist, drawing her gently toward him. “Come here.”

He leaned in, bringing his mouth closer and closer to hers. She wiggled in his arms and released a nervous breath against his lips that sent a tingle down his spine. “Close your eyes,” he instructed with a shaky laugh.

She complied, fluttering her eyelashes closed as she tilted her chin up ever so slightly in invitation.

With a little smile, he closed the remaining distance and brushed his lips lightly against hers. Just that simple contact sent the blood pumping in his veins; it sent his heart roaring with want.

Ellie gave a soft, eager whimper. She became lax in his arms and melted against him, curving her body along his.

“Don’t do that,” he growled into her mouth as he lifted both hands to brush her hair back from her face. He continued to kiss her ever so gently, his fingertips stroking along her jawline as he shifted her hair.

“Don’t do what?” She whispered her reply between soft, slow kisses.

“Don’t whimper like that.” He ran his thumb along her bottom lip. “Only make that sound if you’re looking for a full on make-out session. No guy can control himself after a sound like that.” He moved his thumb away from her lips before lowering his mouth to hers again.

Ellie leaned into his kiss. Giving another soft whimper, she lifted a hand to the back of his neck to deepen it.

She was toying with him. Alec knew without a doubt that Ellie had whimpered again on purpose. It was like she wanted him to lose control. Well, she was about to get her wish, because that sound had driven him over the edge. He gave a growl of arousal and slid his hands down her hips, so he could pull her closer. Her body was pressed tightly against his, and he could feel her breasts through her sweater. He teasingly bit at her lower lip before nudging her mouth open with his own. “Mmm, Ellie…”


The sound of his name moaned from between her lips was almost as sensual as the feel of her nails grazing the back of his neck. He could not get enough of her. As his tongue dipped into her mouth to brush against hers, he debated slipping a hand underneath her sweater.

“I swear this laundry multiplies in the basket!”

At the sound of Mrs. Harper’s declaration as she trudged down the steps lugging a large laundry basket, Ellie and Alec simultaneously broke away from one another. Ellie brushed her fingers frantically through her disheveled hair while Alec rubbed at the lip gloss he could feel resting accusingly against his lips. They’d barely made themselves presentable by the time her mother descended into view.

Buy link:

*Also, don't miss The Dating Tutor by Melissa Frost! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

In Memoriam: Trunking a Novel

I finished my edits for Double Back! Yea! And guess what? It's a trunk novel.

What is a trunk novel? It's a novel that should never see the light of day, a novel that will hide in your trunk or under your bed instead of gracing the shelves of a bookstore or Amazon list.

This has been a really hard decision. There are things about Double Back that I really like. It was a fun idea when I started it I-don't-know-how-long-ago. But the truth is, it's just not something I want to put out there.

Why? The writer in me thinks it's silly to trunk a completed, revised, fairly polished manuscript, but the other part, the author part of me, knows it's the right thing to do. I started this novel years and years ago. I have changed so much as a writer since I wrote the first chapters of Double Back. Big chunks of the novel just don't resonate with me now. I started the book before I really found my voice and so parts of it read like someone else's work. Also, I'm leaning toward other things these days. Double Back is a YA time travel story. The young adult industry has moved on and so have I.

I don't regret the time I've spent on Double Back. I'm glad I revised it. I'm glad I took the time to really look at the story.

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for this story. It is the first novel I completed. It is the first novel I fell in love with. But I've moved on....and this knowledge makes it bearable to part with my beloved Double Back.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Goals During the Revision Process?

I go to work every day, alone. If I don't show up, nobody knows. Nobody will know if I write ten words today, or ten thousand.

So setting goals really helps me to stay on task and feel a sense of accomplishment.

Having goals while writing a first draft is easy. You shoot for a particular word count, write your 3000 words and get on with the rest of your day.

Revision is a whole other animal. When I do the first revision, I usually shoot for a minimum of 25 pages a day. That gets me through the first draft in a week or two. Check. But when I'm working on the second or third pass, having goals becomes impossible. Well, it becomes impossibly frustrating. Getting down to the nitty gritty of the story, finalizing events and character motivations, tying up loose threads - these things can take time. I have four items on my final edits list for my current WIP, Double Back. On Monday, I set a goal to have the manuscript ready for submission by Friday. With my self-imposed deadline looming, I have once again underestimated the amount of time it's going to take me to finish.

I suppose the only way to go at this point is to set a daily goal. What's my goal for today? I want to say that I'll read through my entire manuscript today. Or that I'll finish the four items on my to-do list. But how long will it take me to read through it? How long will it take me to do just one item on that list? I have no idea. Because they're complicated changes. One change might take five minutes - or five days.

I suppose the only thing to do is dive in and hope for the best. I'll let you know how it goes!

Anyone else out there feeling frustrated about revision?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Perks of Being a Slow Writer

My friend Dick Hannah recently blogged about Russell Blake and his ability to write and publish fast. The man released 25 books in 30 months!

I am a slow writer.

There are lots of reasons for this. I'm a Mom. I'm a reader. I'm determined to stay in relatively good shape, so I can only sit for so many hours a day. Most of all, I'm a perfectionist. I'm trying to overcome this crippling condition - yes, it's crippling when you're trying to be creative - and I have made great progress in the last year!

But even if I could write 25 books in 30 months,would I want to?  I'm not sure. I enjoy living in my made-up worlds. I enjoy getting to know my characters before I let them make decisions.

What's more, many of my favorite books took many years to write. J.K. Rowling finished the first Harry Potter book, The Philospher's Stone, in five years. Stephen King took thirteen years to finish The Stand. Both authors had life intervene and took some time with their stories. I'm not saying you have to take your time to create a quality story. I haven't read Russell Blake's books but a quick look on Amazon tells me they aren't bad. But maybe the type of stories I want to write require a little more 'marinating'.

Some of you know that I've been working on a YA time travel story for years. Yes, years. Today I had a breakthrough! Many people have told me, "Just publish it already!", including my son who I wrote the story for. But there were things that didn't quite work, things that didn't make sense. Today I found a wormhole and viola! The world I created makes sense to me. No, I didn't write this book in 30 days, but I love it and I have loved watching it grow. Is it as good as Harry Potter or The Stand? No, probably not. But I think that when I do publish it, I will be proud of it. Maybe when the kids go off to college, I'll be writing a-book-a-month, but until then I'll be content to 'give it my all' on one or two books a year.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Places I've Been: Monteriggioni

Monteriggioni: A Little Walled City

Monteriggioni is my favorite place in Italy! Okay, so I've only been to Italy once, but until I get the chance to go back and do some more exploring, this is my favorite. It's a little walled city located outside of Siena.
One of the best things about Monteriggioni is the Armaments Museum. This is the only museum I've ever been to where they let you wear the exhibits and it was so much fun! 
Walking around the little walled city at the top of the hill feels like stepping back into the Medieval Ages. The wall is approximately 570 meters in circumference and has 14 towers! 
Of course, a day in Italy is not complete without pasta! Monteriggioni also had the best wine I've ever had in my life. Hm, maybe that's why it was my favorite?!

Hope you have a happy Friday! I'll be dreaming if Tuscany tonight.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Happy New Year of Writing

The kids are back in school today and it’s officially the New Year for me! Happy New Year. Like most people, I’m taking stock of my life, my goals and my nascent writing career. (Yep, using obscure words today)

Here are my current Works in Progress:

The Monster at Water Castle:    25,174 words
Double Back:                            58,087 words
Cloudburst:                               80,889 words

My goals for 2014? To publish two more novels before the end of the year. Valkyrie’s Kiss is coming out soon, so that will give me three released novels.

Other goals? Nothing special really. Watch less television, read more, try to stop and smell the hibiscus once in a while! (Though I’ll have to nurse my poor hibiscus back to health after two days of freezing weather)

 And be a better blogger. 

So in the spirit of being a better blogger, I’m going to make myself a little schedule. Here’s what I have so far:

Mondays            News & goals for the week
Wednesdays       The writing life, guest posts
Fridays               Places I’ve Been – just for fun, because I love to travel and talk about traveling!

I hope you’re having a fantastic new year, despite the freezing temperatures!