Monday, October 31, 2016

Look At What You Have

This post is for those of you who are waiting...and who sometimes fall into the deep pit of Good Things Happen To Other Writers But Never To Me.

Oh, yes.  You're nodding.  You might even be curling your fingers into fists or grinding your teeth or yelling, "Yes! That's my life, right there!" at your monitor.

If anyone gets this, it's me.  If anyone commiserates with you, it's me.

I've been to that dark place so often over the years, and it's not pretty.  It can be awfully soul-sucking to work hard (really hard) for a long time (really long) and still not achieve your ultimate goal.

I get that.  I hear you.

And this is what I have for you:

Yep.  That, right there.

It applies to life in general, not just our writing journey.  I'm pretty sure I can hear your amens echoing through the electronic corridors.  How easy is it to look at an empty wallet, an empty garage, an empty savings account.  How quick we are to focus on the vacation we can't afford, the dream job we didn't land, the relationship that didn't work out, the recognition we didn't receive, the party we weren't invited to, the college we weren't accepted at, the injury that kept us from playing in the tournament.

Sometimes human nature veers toward the negative.  And it's especially prone to do so when we are bombarded with rejection and deferred hope.

You know what I'm going to say next, though -- it's in our hands to change our thinking.  If we stay in a negative place, it will ultimately affect our creativity, and where will that leave us?  Empty, for sure.  Because we're CREATORS, each of us.  Our worlds, our characters, our stories, all birthed from the foamy depths of our minds, which have been blessed with the ability and the desire to IMAGINE and then WRITE what we see there.

So instead of sulking in a corner or pouring a second glass of wine or declaring to the world (or at least to ourselves) that we're going to quit, we need to LOOK AT ALL THE GOOD THINGS instead.  What we have, what we've accomplished, how far we've come.

Here's my list:
  • I have an amazing agent, and I'm not saying this lightly.  Danielle is an absolute godsend, and her belief in me and in my work astounds me--and keeps me going.  I'm thankful for her every single day.
  • I've got a short story published in an anthology.  
  • My writing has grown, and continues to grow.  When I stop to think about it, it's incredible to see where I started, how I journeyed, and where I am now.  
  • Awesome people have read my work over the years, and I'm so thankful for each of them.  A writer without beta readers and critique partners is a writer in a vacuum, and I love not living in a vacuum.
  • I get to WRITE STORIES.  It's an incredible privilege, and it brings so much LIFE to my life.
  • I've got an incredibly high level of artistic excitement over both the novel that's currently on submission and the one I'm revising right now.  DOUBLE EXCITEMENT, just because I love and believe in each one of them so strongly, regardless of what is or isn't going on in the journey toward publication.
  • I've got a husband who believes in me.
  • I've got Other Things in my life that bring me joy, like singing with a symphony chorus and taking ballet classes and reading incredible novels.
  • I'm part of an online writing community that continues to blow my mind with its kindness and warmth and solidarity and strength.  AND YOU ARE PART OF THAT.
There you have it.  If you're floundering today, make a list of your own.  Don't sit in the dark and wonder why you can't see -- come into the sunshine and rejoice in what you HAVE.  And I will rejoice along with you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Introducing Our Affable Authors

ON THE BLOCK 2016 is just a few weeks away!  Here are the (adorable, amazing, altruistic) Affable Authors who will be offering critique on the 20 posted entries:


Nancy Bilyeau is the author of a trilogy of historical thrillers published by Touchstone (S&S) called "The Crown," "The Chalice," and "The Tapestry," also on sale in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, and Russia. The debut, "The Crown," was an Oprah pick and on the short list of the Crime Writers Association's Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award.This year, "The Tapestry" was the runner-up for the Daphne du Maurier Award from RWA for Best Historical Romantic Suspense. A magazine editor, Nancy has worked on the staffs of "Rolling Stone," "Entertainment Weekly," "Good Housekeeping," and "InStyle." A proud Queens broad, she lives in Forest Hills with her husband and two teenagers.


Erin Bow is the author of the YA fantasies Plain Kate and Sorrow’s Knot, and the new YA science fiction duology The Scorpion Rules/The Swan Riders. She has a physics degree, a garden, two telescopes, and fifty-three cookbooks, and she looks normal if you squint.  Connect with her on twitter or tumblr, or visit  


Piper J. Drake (or “PJ”) began her writing career as “PJ Schnyder” writing award-winning sci-fi & paranormal romance and steampunk. She has received the FF&P PRISM award for her work as well as the NJRW Golden Leaf award and Parsec award. Now, Piper writes romantic suspense, incorporating her interests in mixed martial arts and the military into her writing.

Backlist in order of publication:

HIDDEN IMPACT   (A Safeguard Novel)
Released: November 9, 2015; digital; ASIN: B00URJJYME    
Publisher: Carina Press  
Purchase: All online bookstores

EXTREME HONOR  (True Heroes series)
Released: January 26, 2016; print/digital/audio; ISBN-13: 978-1455536047    
Publisher: Forever - Hachette Book Group
Purchase: All local/national bookstores, All online bookstores

DEADLY TESTIMONY  (A Safeguard Novel)
Released: May 9, 2016; digital; ASIN: B014PHVM78    
Publisher: Carina Press  
Purchase: All online bookstores

ULTIMATE COURAGE (True Heroes series)
Released: July 26, 2016; print/digital/audio; ISBN-13: 978-1455536054    
Publisher: Forever - Hachette Book Group
Purchase: All local/national bookstores, All online bookstores

ABSOLUTE TRUST (True Heroes series)
Released: December 20, 2016; print/digital/audio; ISBN-13: 978-1455536085    
Publisher: Forever - Hachette Book Group
Purchase: All local/national bookstores, All online bookstores


Dorothy Dreyer is a Philippine-born American living in Germany with her husband, two teens, and two huskies. She writes young adult books that usually have some element of magic or the supernatural in them. She likes reading, movies, chocolate, take-out, traveling, and having fun with friends and family. She tends to sing sometimes, too, so keep her away from your Karaoke bars.


My Sister's Reaper Reaper's Rite Book One

Sixteen-year-old Zadie’s first mistake was telling the boy she liked she could bring her dead sister back to life. Her second mistake was actually doing it.

When Zadie accidentally messes with the Reaper’s Rite that should have claimed her sister Mara, things go horribly wrong. Mara isn’t the same anymore—Zadie isn’t even sure she’s completely human. To top it off, a Reaper is determined to collect Mara's soul. Now Zadie must figure out how to defeat her sister’s Reaper or let Mara die … this time for good.

My Tethered Soul Reaper's Rite Book Two

It’s been months since Zadie faced her sister’s Reaper, months during which she’s been under her mentor’s magical protection. But now that she’s turning seventeen, that protection is about to run out.

When dark forces lure Zadie to wander at night, she’s manipulated into committing unspeakable acts. With her friends and family at risk, Zadie must try to use her powers to break free from the Reaper’s grasp, or surrender to the Reaper’s Rite, which can only lead to death.

The First Mourning (Anthology short from SCARE ME TO SLEEP) Release date: October 3, 2016

Brothers Cain and Abel come to life once more in Dorothy Dreyer’s The First Mourning – a haunting tale of sibling rivalry bound by insecurities, the need for parental approval and affection, and the precarious line between love and hate. Some sins can’t be erased.


Sara J. Henry is the author of A Cold and Lonely Place (2013) and Learning to Swim (2011), both from Crown. She began as a newspaper sports editor in the Adirondacks and became an editor at Women's Sports & Fitness magazine and Rodale Books before turning to fiction. She has edited many books, fiction and nonfiction; cowritten books on health and fitness; contributed to numerous magazines; and been a correspondence writing school instructor. She has also worked as a bicycle mechanic and was a soil scientist for a very short while. Her novels have won the Anthony, Agatha, Mary Higgins Clark, and Silver Falchion Awards, and she won the Arthritis Foundation Russell L. Cecil award for magazine writing. Sara grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and received her master’s in journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa. She lives on a dirt road in southern Vermont.


Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Alice Loweecey recently celebrated her thirtieth year outside the convent. She grew up watching Hammer horror films and Scooby-Doo mysteries, which explains a whole lot. When she's not creating trouble for her sleuth Giulia Driscoll or inspiring nightmares as her alter-ego Kate Morgan, she can be found growing her own vegetables (in summer) and cooking with them (the rest of the year).


Joshua McCune was born on a Navy base in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He grew up in London and Washington, D.C., went to college in Texas, and got married in New Zealand. He worked as a telemarketer, an SAT instructor, and a robotics engineer before becoming an author. He currently lives in San Antonio, Texas, with his wife and two dogs, writing stories of people and places just beyond the reach of planes, trains, and automobiles (but not dragons).

TALKER 25 (Greenwillow, 2013): It’s a high school prank gone horribly wrong—sneaking onto the rez to pose next to a sleeping dragon—and now senior Melissa Callahan has become an unsuspecting pawn in a war between Man and Monster, between family and friends and the dragons she has despised her whole life. Chilling, epic, and wholly original, this debut novel imagines a North America where dragons are kept on reservations, where strict blackout rules are obeyed no matter the cost, where the highly weaponized military operates in chilling secret, and where a gruesome television show called Kissing Dragons unites the population.

TALKER 25: INVISIBLE MONSTER (Greenwillow, 2015): Finally free after spending three months locked in a secret government facility where she was forced to torture and assassinate dragons for the popular television series Kissing Dragons, all Melissa Callahan wants is a quiet recovery. Hiding in an Alaskan cave with fellow escapee Allie (known as Talker 21) and a silver dragon named Baby, Melissa does her best to stay out of the dragon politics. However, when a group of bloodthirsty insurgents called the Diocletians comes looking for them, Melissa must put everything on the line to protect those she loves.


Jodi spends all her time writing books. With the extra pockets of time she steals from you, she knits things.

 Leah Petersen

Leah Petersen lives in North Carolina manipulating numbers by day and the universe by night. She prides herself on being able to hold a book with her feet so she can knit while reading. She’s still working on knitting while writing. 


Peter Adam Salomon is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Horror Writers Association, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, the Science Fiction Poetry Association, the International Thriller Writers, and The Authors Guild and is represented by the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

His debut novel, HENRY FRANKS, was published by Flux in 2012. His second novel, ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS, published by Flux in 2014, was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Young Adult fiction. Both novels have been named a ‘Book All Young Georgians Should Read’ by The Georgia Center For The Book.

His short fiction has appeared in the Demonic Visions series among other anthologies, and he was the featured author for Gothic Blue Book III: The Graveyard Edition. He was also selected as one of the Gentlemen of Horror for 2014.

His poem ‘Electricity and Language and Me’ appeared on BBC Radio 6 performed by The Radiophonic Workshop in December 2013. Eldritch Press published his first collection of poetry, Prophets, in 2014, and his second poetry collection, PseudoPsalms: Saints v. Sinners, was published in 2016 by Bizarro Pulp Press. In addition, he was the Editor for the first books of poetry released by the Horror Writers Association: Horror Poetry Showcase Volumes I and II.

He served as a Judge for the 2006 Savannah Children’s Book Festival Young Writer’s Contest and for the Royal Palm Literary Awards of the Florida Writers Association. He was also a Judge for the first two Horror Poetry Showcases of the Horror Writers Association and has served as Chair on multiple Juries for the Bram Stoker Awards.

Peter Adam Salomon lives in Naples, FL with his wife Anna and their three sons: André Logan, Joshua Kyle and Adin Jeremy.


Amanda Sun is the author of The Paper Gods, a YA Fantasy series about dangerous drawings coming to life in Shizuoka, Japan. The first two books, INK and RAIN, were Aurora Award nominees and Junior Library Guild selections. Her short fiction has also been published in Strangers Among Us, the Aurora Award–nominated Tesseracts Fifteen, and other anthologies and literary journals. Her new YA Fantasy, HEIR TO THE SKY, harbors monster hunters and floating continents. When not reading or writing, Sun is also an avid cosplayer. Find her on Twitter at @Amanda_Sun and get FREE Paper Gods novellas at

My book info:

Paper Gods Series
SHADOW (enovella prequel)
RISE (enovella #2.5)
HEIR TO THE SKY (April 2016) STRANGERS AMONG US (antholology, Aug 2016) 


Mónica was born in a Peruvian city by a snow-capped volcano. Growing up, books were her constant companion as she traveled with her family to places like India (where she became a vegetarian), Thailand (where she *almost* met Leonardo di Caprio), France (where she pretended to learn French), and countless other places that inspired her to write. Now, Mónica lives in Chile with her husband, three boys, eleven hens, and stray dog. She's the author of the NA trilogy FROSH and is represented by Lauren MacLeod.

Book info:

Frosh: First Blush (Paper Lantern Lit/2015)

During welcome week at Hillson University, the FROSH will hit the fan.

Type-A aspiring journalist Ellie plans to take freshman year by storm. But hell-bent on breaking a huge on-campus scandal, she risks becoming one herself—and getting the mysterious, heart-melting QB in serious trouble.

Grant, star quarterback and charismatic chick-magnet, is hiding a life-altering secret. The last thing he needs is an overeager (absolutely adorable) journalist asking questions. He’s got a reputation to protect.

High-society legacy student Devon is ready to catch the football hottie of her dreams. If the tabloids feature her with the “it” boy on her arm, her tainted past will be buried—or so she thinks.

Charlie, pre-med, is done being the sweet and funny geek that girls like Devon ignore. But if he tries to impress her with a new edgy, spontaneous attitude, will his heart end up in the emergency room?

FROSH intertwines the stories of Ellie, Grant, Devon, and Charlie in Mónica B. Wagner’s sexy NA debut series, about falling in love and falling apart.

Upcoming book:

Frosh: Second Chances (Sept 27, 2016)


In FROSH: FIRST BLUSH, Ellie, Grant, Devon, and Charlie spent their welcome week falling head over heels for each other—before totally falling apart. Now, in FROSH: SECOND CHANCES, they’ll have to pick up the pieces.

After ruining Grant’s football career (and her own reputation), Ellie has been trying to lie low—which means not making more enemies. But some students still want her to pay for what she did, and now, Ellie’s determined to fight back—and fight for Grant.

Grant is adjusting to his new reality: no more football means no more free passes in class, and definitely no more distractions; especially from Ellie, whom he misses even after she destroyed his world. Can he find a way to move on without her—and without football?

Devon finally has it all: her brother's sober and her boyfriend is an adorkable genius. But when her parents threaten to tear her and Charlie apart because he doesn't 'fit' into their high society, she will go to dangerous lengths to prove that nothing—nothing—can defeat Devon Connors.

Charlie’s never questioned who he is: pre-med science geek, and now, Devon Connors’ boyfriend. But when he discovers a secret about his past, Charlie isn’t sure of anything—especially whether he can trust Devon with the truth.

Monica B. Wagner’s sexy New Adult series follows these four characters all the way to winter break—when the only thing they’ll want more than first love is a second chance.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday Fricassee

A brand-new Jodi-mitt wrapped around a coffee mug

Mr. A and I have just returned from a sweet autumn getaway at our favorite beach along the Jersey shore.  We wanted to see if our love for this place would withstand the absence of summer's warmth and bustle.

It did.

October in a beach town means no glut of vacationers on the street corners, waiting to cross.  It means stoplights set to flash yellow instead of going through their regular cycle, because the traffic has been reduced to locals-only.  It means wearing a hoodie on the beach, even though the water is warmer than it was in June.  It means your favorite restaurants are only open Thursday through Sunday now, so if it's a Tuesday night, you're out of luck.  

It also means 50%-off tee-shirts and an almost-empty bed and breakfast (which translates to snooping through all the vacant rooms to see if you like any of them better than the one you're staying in).  Fires lit in cozy hearths.  Long walks instead of long beach sunnings.

Glorious.  We had such a lovely time.

The timing, for me, was perfect.  I finished the first draft of my latest novel (huzzah! woop-woop!), so it felt wonderful to just set it aside and NOT WRITE for a few days.  Though, truth be told, by the last day, I was wishing I could curl up and spend the day writing.  You know how it is.

I did, however, get some much-desired reading time!  Finally I was able to dig into Mary E. Pearson's The Beauty of Darkness, which is a fitting reward for having finished my draft in the allotted 3-month span.  Of course, I'm still reading it, and today I'm officially entering Revision Mode, so I'll have to use it as my end-of-writing-day reward.  You know how it is when you get sucked into an amazing novel, yes?  All you want to do is to read.  And read some more.  And, well, I've got to write.  It's hard to do both!

Me and The Beauty of Darkness

So, what does jumping into Revision Mode look like for me?  First off, I need to complete my post-draft outline.  Which I'm supposed to be creating as I go (Scrivener makes this SO VERY EASY), but I tend to procrastinate because it's tedious and boring and annoying to stop at the end of each scene and write bullet points.  So now, instead of having to do it in tiny chunks, I have to sit down and DO IT ALL.  I got the first 10 chapters finished before vacation, with 20 to go.  Ugh.

Also, I'm working on character sketches of all the important secondary characters, so I can really bring them to life and make their roles in the story solid.  I started this process on the beach (my favorite place to work out story stuff!), but I didn't get too far--especially after I was caught unaware by the rising surf, which soaked my towel and my spiral-bound notebook (but fortunately not my iPhone).  So now my notebook is saltwater-warped, and I love it even more.

After all this preliminary stuff, I'll get to the best part, which is actually digging into the novel and doing the heavy lifting.  LOVE THIS PART.  My goal is to have a clean second draft before Thanksgiving.

So, that's my fall.  Oh, and there's this wee blog contest thing that I'm still narrowing down entries for.  I'm down to I've-got-this-many-yeses, and I'm going back over--and over--my list of maybes, making the painstaking decisions about which ones to put in the contest.  (Having this many maybes is a good thing--it speaks to the quality of the entries.  Bravo, all!  But, ugh. It's hard to choose.  Really hard.)

Coming up:  A showcase of the AFFABLE AUTHORS who will be reading and critiquing the winning entries.  In the days ahead, I'll also be offering more information on the actual auction--what to expect, how it works, and the best way to follow and root for your favorite entries on auction day.

I'll also be offering a special opportunity for those who submitted entries that DON'T get picked.  But more on that later.

For now, I'm off to revision land!  Happy to be home and ready to hit my autumn stride.  It never ceases to amaze me how the ocean refreshes and invigorates me, and how that effect lasts well beyond the actual vacation days.  Here's hoping it doesn't fade for a long time!