Monday, December 30, 2013

I'm scared. I'll admit it. (and this is kind of a ramble so maybe you should be scared too...)

The sequel to Moonlit - currently dubbed Windswept - is in my publisher's hands for the final stages in the pre-release process: type setting, layout, cover design, etc. This means I'm free to begin work on Book #3. I'm about 20K words in, and this is where I admit I'm a little scared. There's this big BIG moment in book #3 that I can see so clearly... "crystal" as Jayce would say. But first I have to get there. Me and Tanzy and Lucas and Hope and Vanessa and Asher and Jayce and a whole cast of fellow candidates who you haven't even met yet all have to get there. It's like herding cats.

I learned a ton during the drafting and revision processes for the sequel. Most importantly, I learned when to look at a section of my writing and realize: there's a big problem here. This is not right. And I realized, for the way I work at least, a real fix comes in stages. It's like archeology, an analogy Stephen King uses in describing how he unearths his plots. In my case, it's how I fix pacing/tone issues in a chapter. One gentle fix reveals more bone, more of the picture - and more of the holes in the picture. Then again, maybe it's better to say it's like surgery. There is an awful lot of bleeding and cursing, and I envision an archeologist to be the subtle, whispery type.

Anyways, what scares me is how much of this first draft of book #3 is not going to make it into book #3. Of course right now it feels like all of it will - the major plot points, anyway, but I know that's not true. In book #2, the early drafts had a ferry boat, a tidal wave, a funeral, a truck plummeting to the bottom of the ocean with two major characters inside, a trip back to Kentucky, this scene where new character Jayce lines up little figurines on all the window sills that I freaking LOVED, and lots of explosions. None of those plot points made it into the final draft. I lied - there are still some explosions, but they're in different places.

Some scenes/sections I cut early on, and some I clung to like a mother to her baby. Until I sent the I-think-I'm-Really-Finished draft to my beta readers and they didn't coo where I was sure I'd have them near tears, holding their breath. In fact, they reacted to a few of my favorite moments like one might react to, say, a poopy diaper. And they were right.

Have you ever had a whole "darling" of a chapter (referencing the "kill your darlings" rule here)? How about a couple chapters... how about a 40K word section of "darling"? Welcome to the 8th draft of Windswept.

So now I'm beginning the very first draft of Book #3, and it is by far the most complex of the three books. And I want it to deliver. I want it to tie up every thread I've woven into this web. And I'd really really like to get it right on the first couple shots. HA. Never going to happen.

I'm a subscriber to Anne Lamott's idea of a "stinky" first draft. (She uses a different word beginning with S, something that can be found in the aforementioned diaper, and never smells like roses...) A first draft helps me see how I think this is all going to play out. It makes me see if the I can get to the last page with the ideas from the first page still intact. I'm not big on big outlines. I have a few key moments I want to incorporate if the characters arrive in the situation where the moment would apply, but otherwise I like to turn them loose and see what happens. Downsides: this means I stare at my computer screen a lot, knuckles buried in my cheeks, and force my brain to stop editing the line above so I can see what's coming next in the plot. It also means I spend more time on my drafts (at least I think it does,) and it definitely means I cut. A lot.

So here we are. And I'm scared. I don't want to stare and sweat and bleed all over this new draft just to cut 99% of my work like it never happened. It can be paralyzing, sometimes. But it's part of the process. I will no doubt do this every time. Every book. The funny part is that I still love those times where I glare at my screen all morning with no progress. In fact, I find I'm most intolerable to the outside world following a particularly lackluster drafting session because I can't wait to do it again.

I'm terrified, and I'm excited (and I'm writing this blog post because I'm totally stalling because another character wants a POV in book three and I told her we'd talk about it in a little bit...)

So, now that I'm sure you're sure I'm crazy, tell me what - if anything - scares you about the writing process?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What it sounds like in my head during "official" edits

Quick update: we just finished content, or "overview" edits of the Moonlit sequel, which is currently called "Windswept." That means the plot for the sequel is pretty much set in stone (sqquueee!!!) and that we're moving on to inline edits, where my editor comes after my sentence structure and word choices like they owe her something. And, in fact, they do. She makes sure every word, every sentence, deserves a place on the page once they're finally printed.

In my head, the whole content editing process sounds something like this:

1. Right after I've submitted the manuscript to my editor: I can't wait to see what she says! I can't wait to get started and tear it apart and make it better better better!! (then, this tiny voice says: what if she LOVES it and there's nothing to do? Bwahahahahaha. Hilarious.)

2. Once I've received the edits, I typically glare at the screen - not at my editor's notes, but my own words. How could I have thought this was any good? Why in the WORLD did my publisher accept this novel? There is EVERYTHING to do. Then I dig in and rearrange, shore up holes, apply pressure to the bleeders. Things get better, but aren't sewn up just yet, the fact of which really ticks me off.

3. I submit the first round, and then I avoid my laptop at all costs for fear I'll delete the whole manuscript on a whim and attempt to pick up a new hobby. True story: A week ago I got a puppy because I couldn't handle the down time of two weeks (fyi - that's like super insano lightspeed in the publishing world) between round one and round two. I am an idiot, a busy idiot who is now training a very energetic 4 month old dog.

4. I received the second round of content/overview edits. While the second round is usually lighter, I have found that with Moonlit and Windswept, they make me dig deeper. The first round merely made incisions in the body. The second round probes for the source of the bleed. And boy howdy does it bleed. Everywhere. You'd think by the second round of edits the major cuts were over. Nope.

5. And then, the best feeling on earth: Here it is! This is the giant traffic jam/plot hole to nowhere/personality disorder my manuscript is suffering from. And this is my favorite part, because now that I've identified the offender, I can seek and destroy it faster than that very energetic puppy can rip up a pair of undies. In Windswept, Tanzy opens the sequel with an axe to grind and a very large chip on her shoulder. That big heart of hers was nowhere in sight. The original opening not only made Tanzy practically unlikeable, but also foiled her emotional development in the rest of the story. Tanzy's journey in Windswept has a lot in store for her, and if she's already burned up inside by page 10, we have no where to go. Once I realized I'd plugged the wound in Tanzy's bleeding heart with my own southern-born, grudge-holding, short-fused temper, it was an easy (and lengthy) fix. The story is so much better now that I've taken myself out of the equation

When my editor - who I adore, okay worship... possibly stalk... anyways, when she suggested I soften Tanzy I thought: had she forgotten how Moonlit ended? Wouldn't she be royally brassed off if someone had pulled the pin on the grenade of her life and walked away? In truth, I have no idea how my awesome editor would handle the situation in reality, but I'd also forgotten how Tanzy would handle it, and put too much of myself in the opening chapters. There's a reason I'm not a heroine in a book somewhere.

We still have work to do. In truth, I was a little intimidated by the sequel as a whole. I have fans - actual, legitimate, they-don't-know-me-outside-of-this-book fans. What if Windswept doesn't deliver? What if I'm not good, I was just... lucky? The story line is so different, the pace so blinding... Then I think back to the state Moonlit was in pre-edits, the holes, the weak places, the choppy sections, and I realize we're right on track with Windswept. We still have work to do, and I'm sure I'll stumble around a few times and eat my way out of a writer's block or two. But I'm finally learning all of those steps and feelings and frustrations and breakthroughs are just par for the course.

Sharing is caring: what tips do you have for an author in the editing stage? Tell us about what you're up to, too!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Author Interview with Paul Anthony Shortt

I am so excited to welcome fellow WiDo author, Paul Anthony Shortt, who just released "Silent Oath," book two in the Locked Within Series. I've admired Paul from across the pond, and have thoroughly enjoyed watching his writing career take off. Today, we're talking all about his series, including the new release and a recently released short story for the series.
Thank you so much for visiting with me today. To start, tell me about your main character. What/who inspired him? How did his identity evolve as you learned more about him? Nathan Shepherd is a reborn, someone who can remember past lives and draw strength and knowledge from them. He’s based off the first real hero I came up with when I first decided I wanted to be a writer. I was about 13 years old when I came up with him. I suppose what really inspired him was seeing so many horror movies where the experienced, knowledgeable monster-hunter dies, and the rookie hero has to stop the villain in the end. Initially he was nothing more than a mess of ideas, all the elements I thought a hero needed. Over time, he’s become his own person, with his own wants and desires. There’s still a lot of me in him, but he’s much more rash than I am, prone to leaping before he looks, and he’s quite secretive even around people he trusts. In the end, Nathan is someone who tries to take everyone else’s burdens onto his own shoulders, even when it damages him. That’s a trait he and I share, though I’ve learned that you have to work out a balance when helping others, or else you burn yourself out.
Of course, it takes two to tango. Tell me the same about your villain. Some people will expect me to talk about Dorian here, but I’m not. Silent Oath introduces Nathan’s true nemesis, a renegade reborn who goes by the name Athamar. Reborn typically choose a “soul name”, a name they can go by from lifetime to lifetime so they can be easily identified when reuniting with past associates. Athamar casts aside the name he was born with in this life, and has a major grudge against Nathan. If he was inspired by anything, picture a combination of The Joker and the evil Angelus from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. He’s savage and remorseless, and also a little bit insane. Part of the puzzle Nathan must solve is to figure out exactly who Athamar is, and why he hates Nathan and his lost love Elena so much that he has hunted them throughout their previous lifetimes.

You and I are kindred spirits there, Paul. The Buffy series essentially shaped my adolescence, and made me lean away from the damsel-in-distress type entertainment and more towards the can-do-chick. You recently release a short story for the Locked Within series, which features a leading lady. What made you decide to showcase this aspect of the story in its own feature? Do you plan on releasing more short stories in the future? Cynthia’s one of my favourite characters in the series. She’s strong-willed, intelligent, and won’t let Nathan get away with any self-sacrificing nonsense when she’s around. He needs her. Their friendship is a major part of the series, and I think we could do with seeing more platonic relationships between men and women in fiction. Unfortunately for Cynthia, she spent much of Locked Within in a hospital bed after Eli savagely beat her. I wanted to give her some additional exposure, but also give readers a glimpse into how she coped with her ordeal. By the time Silent Oath begins, Cynthia is a practiced marksman and even coming into her own reborn abilities. I wanted to take some time to show how she regained her strength. I have another short story in mind, yes. This one will be set around Christmas time, between Silent Oath and the final book.

You've had a busy year - and I understand it's about to get even busier. How do you balance writing and family? Yeah, it’s been busy, all right. Our twin girls arrived just in time for Christmas, and we’re expecting another addition to the family in January. It’s all down to communication, to be honest. My wife has been my strongest supporter in my writing career. Since the day we met, she knew this was what I wanted to do with my life, so she understands if I need to spend an extra hour or two at the computer. I’m lucky enough to work in admin for my day-job, so I can spend my lunch hour writing solidly, and I get some extra writing time during the girls’ nap time at the weekend. If I’m on a deadline, I’ll also use a netbook in the evenings after the girls are in bed, so I can still relax on the couch with my wife while I work. I probably have more demands on my time than most people I know. I believe all things come down to priorities. You have to decide what are the most important things to you and budget your time for them, just like you might budget your finances. My top two things are my children and my writing. Once I set down time for those, everything else can fall into place.
Which character do you find easiest/most natural to write? Do you see any bits of yourself or your life in your writing? Probably Nathan. He’s been in my head, in one form or another, for 20 years at this stage. I try not to write literal people and events from my life in my books. I’d be too afraid someone might recognize themselves and take offence. However, experiences which have deep emotional effects on me do inspire my work. I draw on emotions for appropriate scenes and try to evoke those same feelings in the reader. One of the pivotal moments in Locked Within, for example, is Nathan and Laura’s breakup. That whole scene brings to mind several events in my life where I’ve been betrayed or cast aside by others. So when writing it, I dredged up all those feelings and let them fuel the words on the page.
What makes your series stand out? Well, at face value, it bucks the trend by being an urban fantasy with a male protagonist instead of female, but that’s hardly anything special. I think the first thing that makes Nathan’s story different from other urban fantasy series’ is that reincarnation is a fairly regular fact of life. In most fantasy novels, reincarnation is the special purview of the Chosen One, a sign of their heroic destiny. When I set out to write this series, I knew I wanted reincarnation to be a common occurrence. Secondly, despite his eidetic memory and being able to temporarily boost his strength by using his past-life memories, Nathan Shepherd is just a regular man. Yes, he has lifetimes of knowledge and experience, but he’s mortal. He has no super powers, no magic tricks. He can’t throw a fireball or regenerate injuries. He has to succeed by outwitting his opponents, or just by being too stubborn to stay down when he gets hit.
I understand you have already drafted the third and final book in the series. Did you always know how it would end? Most definitely. I tend to come up with the end of stories before any other part, and while some of the precise details have changed over time, I always knew that the series was going to come down to one final confrontation between Nathan and Athamar. I promise, it’ll be epic.

That sounds like quite a finale. I know it's hard to say goodbye to characters you've grown so close with and then introduce yourself to a whole new hero/villain. What's next for you? I’d like to say I’m going to go have a glass of wine and take the rest of the year off. But truthfully, I’d get bored within a week. I can’t stand not writing at least a little every day. Once I get confirmation, one way or another, on the third book in this trilogy, I’ll be getting ready to work on that, and looking ahead to next year’s release. In addition to that, I’m working on a new YA steampunk series which I’ll be self-publishing next year. More about that on my blog in a few weeks, actually. But I’ll still be traditionally publishing as well. I’ve always said my goal is to eventually be releasing up to 4 books a year, and the best way to do that is by using every opportunity available to me. I have some ideas for new series’. The only tricky part is choosing which to concentrate on! So stay tuned, because I have plenty more stories to tell!

Now then, let's check out the sultry, lovely cover of Paul's newest release:

Cover Copy
Hope has returned to New York City. Nathan Shepherd leads a small band of dedicated fighters against the Council of Chains and the city's supernatural masters. But it's not enough. Because from the shadows of Nathan's former lives comes an old enemy, one who knows terrible secrets that Nathan has not yet remembered, secrets that could undo everything he has fought for.
Nathan's only chance to uncover the memories of his previous existence, and to conquer these new forces of evil, lies in Elena DeSantis. A woman he has fought beside in past lifetimes. A woman he has loved.
Together, Nathan and Elena are the only future the city has.
About Paul Anthony Shortt: 

A child at heart who turned to writing and roleplaying games when there simply weren't enough action figures to play out the stories he wanted, Paul Anthony Shortt has been writing all his life. Growing up surrounded by music, film and theatre gave him a deep love of all forms of storytelling, each teaching him something new he could use. When not playing with the people in his head, he enjoys cooking and regular meet-ups with his gaming group.

Paul lives in Ireland with his wife Jen and their dogs, Pepper and Jasper. Their first child, Conor William Henry Shortt, was born on July 11th, 2011. He passed away three days later, but brought love and joy into their lives and those of their friends. The following year, Jen gave birth to twins, Amy and Erica, and is now expecting their fourth child.
Paul's first novel, Locked Within, was released on November 6th, 2012, by WiDo Publishing. Silent Oath is the second book in this urban fantasy trilogy.

Twitter: @PAShortt

Monday, September 23, 2013

Am I really staring at October?

Yesterday morning, I sat in my driveway, sure I was dreaming, as bright leaves spun to the ground. Isn't it too early for this? I thought. This doesn't usually happen until late September or early October.

Hey there, Jadie. Welcome back to the present.

First, a recap. I had an awesome summer. Moonlit and I toured through Tennessee: a group author signing in Nashville and a Moonlit-themed horse show in Knoxville.

Mid-summer, I flew to Oklahoma City to sign books at the AQHYA World Championship Horseshow. I participated in my first ever pin-exchange (it's a total blast) and learned how to lasso thanks to my booth-neighbor, Cigi, who is the daughter of the most-winning rodeo athlete in history. Seriously.

That weekend, I hosted a multi-author signing near my home town with authors Julie Ford, Gillian Summers, and Elaine Little. Most recently, I spoke and then peddled my wares at the Decatur Book Festival.

In the midst of all of that, I received word that my submissions editor at WiDo Publishing loved - and accepted - the sequel to Moonlit. I did a happy dance that shook my kitchen and made my two year old daughter laugh and clap. To be honest, I was laughing and clapping, too. Because this summer, as most of you know, I also rewrote nearly the entire sequel.

Now, we're in content-edits for the sequel, currently dubbed "Windswept." My awesome, super-human editor, Summer Ross, is the best side-kick any writer could have. This is hands-down one of my favorite parts of the publishing process because of how much I learn. I push myself so much harder when I know she's keeping an eye on my every keystroke.

WiDo released a pretty fab press release about the acquisition of Windswept. I also spill some thoughts about where the series is headed. Check it out here:

I pinky-promise I will do my best to be more regular on here. Now then, tell me about your summers. What goal are you determined to accomplish by the end of the year? With any luck, I'll have a rough draft of the third book in the Moonlit series.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Spotlight: Initiate - Book 1 in the Unfinished Song Series - by Tara Maya (including excerpt)

It's no news flash that the book market is up to its gills in Fantasy series. So it takes something unique to make a reader sit up and take notice. Tara Maya - if you read this - you have my full attention. And, as soon as I'm done formatting this blog post, I'm going to grab your book. 

Everyone else - if this piques your interest, you should check it out, too. Tara Maya's rep has been kind enough to provide me with the cover, summary, and an excerpt (all below.) It's FREE in ebook everywhere except for Barnes and Noble, where it's just 99 cents. Links are provided below for ebook download locations and social media connections.

First and foremost, take a peek at the lovely cover:


Now then - the summary of "Initiate"


Dindi can't do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi's clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan.

Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn't commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don't kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father's wars and his mother's curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her... assuming she would even accept the help of an exile.


Blue-skinned rusalki grappled Dindi under the churning surface of the river. She could feel their claws dig into her arms. Their riverweed-like hair entangled her legs when she tried to kick back to the surface. She only managed to gulp a few breaths of air before they pulled her under again.

She hadn't appreciated how fast and deep the river was. On her second gasp for air, she saw that the current was already dragging her out of sight of the screaming girls on the bank. A whirlpool of froth and fae roiled between two large rocks in the middle of the river. The rusalka and her sisters tugged Dindi toward it. Other water fae joined the rusalki. Long snouted pookas, turtle-like kappas and hairy-armed gwyllions all swam around her, leading her to the whirlpool, where even more fae swirled in the whitewater.
"Join our circle, Dindi!" the fae voices gurgled under the water. "Dance with us forever!"
"No!" She kicked and swam and stole another gasp for air before they snagged her again. There were so many of them now, all pulling her down, all singing to the tune of the rushing river. She tried to shout, "Dispel!" but swallowed water instead. Her head hit a rock, disorienting her. She sank, this time sure she wouldn't be coming up again.

"Dispel!" It was a man's voice.

Strong arms encircled her and lifted her until her arms and head broke the surface. Her rescuer swam with her toward the shore. He overpowered the current, he shrugged aside the hands of the water faeries stroking his hair and arms. When he reached the shallows, he scooped Dindi into his arms and carried her the rest of the way to the grassy bank. He set her down gently.

She coughed out some water while he supported her back.

"Better?" he asked.

She nodded. He was young--only a few years older than she. The aura of confidence and competence he radiated made him seem older. Without knowing quite why, she was certain he was a Tavaedi.

"Good." He had a gorgeous smile. A wisp of his dark bangs dangled over one eye. He brushed his dripping hair back over his head.

Dindi's hand touched skin--he was not wearing any shirt. Both of them were sopping wet. On him, that meant trickles of water coursed over a bedrock of muscle. As for her, the thin white wrap clung transparently to her body like a wet leaf. She blushed.

"It might have been easier to swim if you had let go of that," he teased. He touched her hand, which was closed around something. "What were you holding onto so tightly that it mattered more than drowning?"


Tara's Blog:
Tara’s Twitter
The Unfinished Song on Facebook:
Barnes and Noble


Initiate is free everywhere except on Barnes and Noble (where it’s $0.99). You can download a free .epub version via Smashwords.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cover Reveal: "Revenge in Rio" by Samantha Darling

Every now and then, a book title tugs at the corners of my mouth and makes me raise an eyebrow. "Revenge in Rio" is one of those titles. I can't wait to read the book! I'm very excited to take part in the cover reveal.

First (consider it a proverbial drumroll...) the summary:

Calculated revenge, unexpected passion…
Business magnate Luca Venancio is returning to Rio to pay his respects to his late brother, and to seduce his once fiancĂ©e, Daniella, back into his bed. Five years ago she left him without so much as a word, shunning him and the rich life he could offer in exchange for his younger, reckless brother. Now Luca wants revenge—seduce her and dump her, that's all he intends to do.
Blackmailed into a violent farce of a marriage, Daniella had no choice but to comply to protect Luca's life, even though it meant never being able to see him again. Years later, a twist of fate reunites them, throwing her plans of fleeing Rio out of the window and the love of her life straight back in.
Luca's flawless plan soon becomes complicated when he discovers Daniella is expecting his brother's child. It becomes even more complicated when old passions return. Can he actually go through with seducing her, bedding her, and then discarding her?
Ah how I love these sorts of complications! And it looks like she's set the stage for a 2-part POV. We shall see... in the meantime, here's the cover! Make sure to scroll down for author info and links for Samantha Darling
Revenge in Rio
By: Samantha Darling
Beachwalk Press
Releasing October 21st, 2013

About the author:
I live in Essex, not too far from London, with my very understanding husband, our identical twin boys, and two Bedlington Terriers. We're crammed into our rather cozy two-up two-down terrace and we can barely swing a cat, but hey, we love it. I work part-time as a nurse, but when I'm off duty, you will find me either chasing the toddlers around like a headless chicken, head buried in a book, or tapping away at my stories.
I have always loved to read and romance is by far my favourite genre! You can easily escape into such promising worlds, where sexy Alpha males lead the way and strong heroine's often can't help but fall head over heels in love. I adore a Happy Ever After - as I'm sure we all do if we're honest, right?!

Reading and writing go hand in hand and from the day I could read, I enjoyed writing. To put pen to paper and conjure up weird and wonderful little stories was what I thrived on! English was my favourite class at school right throughout to secondary - and I will always be thankful for the teachers who gave me the opportunities to develop and be creative! If I remember rightly, one of my first stories was called 'The Turkey Who Could Talk'...but I'll tell you more about that some other day :-) 
Author Links

Monday, July 15, 2013

Blog Hop Interview for KidLit/YA authors

I was invited by my friend, Margo Dill, to participate in a “blog hop interview.” Margo sent me some interview questions, which I will answer here on my blog. Following my answers, I tagged 3 other writers who will, in turn, answer questions on their blogs next week. It’s been fun checking out the Blog Hops to see what other authors have posted. Margo posted her answers to the questions last week. If you like, you can leave a comment on her blog and tell her that you connected to her through me.

Here are my answers to the questions I chose from the list:

1. What are you working on right now? I am in the middle of the Moonlit series, and just submitted the second book in the series to my publisher for acceptance. While I wait to hear back, I am drafting specific scenes for the third and final book. It’s going to be a huge challenge to write. I’m hoping to tell the final installment from many different perspectives, and I’m also waging a gigantic, supernatural war. So it’s a little intimidating. I’m going to take it piece by piece. I want to make sure I do it right, and give my readers something to remember long after they’ve read the last page.

2. How is it different than other books in its genre? Moonlit is very different from other books in the YA genre. For starters, there is a love story, but love is not THE story. My main character, Tanzy Hightower, is flawed, and is strong in her own right, even before she becomes supernatural. There’s a mystery element to each book, which readers either really get into, or it puts them off. I love a little mystery, and I wrote what I like to read. The first-person present perspective makes readers pick up clues along with Tanzy and piece them together as they go. One reviewer called Moonlit “an explosion in reverse,” which is a perfect description. The sequel is a tad more straight-forward, and it moves at breakneck speed from page one. I’m writing the third book from many different perspectives because I have several endings I’m deciding between, and I’m not yet sure who will be there to bow for the final curtain call.

3. How does your writing process work? My writing process is… chaotic and spontaneous. I have two other jobs and I’m a full-time mom of a two year old, so I write where I can, when I can. Usually it’s after she goes to sleep. I write notes to myself during the day. I don’t outline, but I really REALLY should. My brain does not operate in a straight line, and it makes revisions challenging. I’m going to attempt at outline with book three. I’m very comfortable with the reality that my outline will likely be in hundreds of tiny pieces thrown every which way by the time the true arc rises to the surface, but it’s a good place to start.

4. What scares you? The idea of bad reviews used to scare me. But now that I have a few to my name, they don’t bother me anymore. Some of them are actually helpful, and some of the make me laugh. After a reviewer literally said she hated me, I got over the hope of making everyone happy. What scares me more are the people who truly love Moonlit – who dove head first into the beginning of Tanzy’s journey and are eagerly awaiting the rest. I am terrified I’ll let them down. So many sequels fall flat in comparison to the first installment, and I really want to defeat that statistic.
Tag! I am tagging...
Kerri Cuevas, YA author of "Deadly Kisses." The sequel was just picked up by WiDo Publishing. Congrats, Kerri! Kerri's Blog:
Aviva Orr, YA author of "The Mist on Bronte Moor." I read this book a few weeks ago and was completely swept away in the time travel and Bronte history. Aviva's blog:
Charity Bradford, YA author of "The Magic Wakes." This book is at the very top of my TBR pile, and has scored rave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Charity's blog:
Kerri, Aviva, and Charity will choose four questions from the master list and answer on their blogs next week, and will tag three more kidlit/YA authors. It's like a never ending chain letter of goodness for book lovers. :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The story of the sequel

The sequel did not at all go like I planned.

For starters, I had to do a major rewrite - scrapping 60K words I'd written before we finished the plot edits on Moonlit, because part of those edits was cutting a character who didn't play a big part in Moonlit, but was spotlighted in the sequel. Oops.

So I began again, and somewhere in there, I got lost inside Tanzy's head and forgot her feet. In Moonlit, Tanzy comes face to face with some of the darkest places of her soul. She even shocked me, and I know she scared herself. So I think we had to acclimate to each other again, who we both were, emerging battle-scarred from the grenade dropped at the end of Moonlit. In the process, we wandered over the choices she made without moving forward. I wasn't really inspired. I was just sad, and more than a little despondent.

Around the time I sent a draft of the sequel to beta readers, Moonlit was making the rounds on a couple of blog tours. I read a couple of feverish posts, new members of the Moonlit tribe who understood Moonlit and Tanzy, and were eager to dive into the sequel, and I started to panic. The sequel isn't right. It's wrong. WRONG. But how? Why? What is missing?? My beta readers felt the same way. They loved the plot I'd crafted, but the fire that lit the "explosion in reverse" fuse of Moonlit hadn't carried over into the sequel. It was a hard truth, but it was the truth.

Then I read a couple more posts from other new fans, and several mentioned how they thought the coming war would play out. ...... war? what war? there's a war? ..... HOLY $#*%! There's a WAR!!! Inspiration struck like a freight train. That night, I gutted the sequel again, saving only about 20K of the original words, and started over.

This pushed my self-imposed May 31st deadline back A LOT. A war between a few people would be boring and over in a paragraph or two (maybe a couple of pages if there's a lot of witty dialogue exchanged between the blows.) So I had to explore all the sides of this war, this brand new, breathtaking, crystal clear moment in my head when all sides converge on the veil. It's a spectacular sight, and I can't wait to write it. But not yet... when you have a WAR on your hands, you have to thoroughly understand each side's motivation, the complexities of alliances and traitors, the gray that exists between good and evil.

I'm so excited to introduce you to this growing cast of new characters. I wrote the first book for myself - to get the story out of my head and to explore Tanzy's voice. But this second book is for my tribe, for those readers who took a leap of faith and dove head first into Tanzy's life and saw the shifting world through her eyes. I want it to be perfect for my tribe. I want to give them what they're hungry for.

Years of working mostly alone around horses inspired Moonlit. But my readers - my tribe - inspired the sequel. I think it's the coolest thing to happen to me since becoming published. I submitted it to my publisher a few days ago, and I'm eager to see what my fantastic editors think. They loved Moonlit as much as I did - even though they helped me work on Moonlit, I also consider them members of the Moonlit tribe. Their opinion means everything to me, both professionally, and as readers. I'll know I did right by my readers if my acquisitions editor gives me the green light. You better believe I'll let you know as soon as I hear back - either way.

Until then, I'll do my best not to stalk my inbox. To keep myself occupied, I'm drafting a scene to add where Tanzy and readers alike will be able to see exactly what Lucas is capable of when someone he loves is in jeopardy...

Enough about me. What are you up to? :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Why, hello. It's been a while.

I am currently hearing back from beta readers about the sequel to Moonlit. I intended to submit it to my publishers in the next couple of weeks, and with any luck (and a lot of caffeine,) that may still be the case.

In a nut shell: people like the story a LOT. Like, better than Moonlit a lot. But there's a problem. I carefully, subtly layered in previous information and kept a few nuggets buried beneath the surface for book three, which made some scenes a little skeletal. And even readers who read Moonlit less than a month ago had forgotten some critical information from book one, without which book two feels like only hearing half of a conversation.

*face palm*

I have a lot of work to do.

I won't lie, part of me is itching to send it in just so I can have my editor's brilliant, razor sharp critiquing skills at my disposal. I love sewing up the incisions and punctures she makes. I love having the sounding board. But I also respect her and my publisher too much to send it in when it's not absolutely as good as I can make it on my own. And it's not there yet.

Sequels. Are. Hard. But it's going to be so worth it.

What are you working on? Tell me how it's going!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A-Z: X is for eXcerpt!

Yes, it's cheating. I know. But I'm up to my eyeballs in revisions and I've already blown the every-day posting requirement to bits, so hopefully I won't illicit too many tsks. I spent this morning compiling a few excerpts for a blog tour with Inspired Kathy this summer. After I sent them to her, I found a little section I wish I'd included. So I'll post it here instead!

15. Blueblood.
Waking up is a mixed bag. Because if today is real, if I get to shop the world’s most pedigreed horses without a budget, then last night was real. And I almost killed a man. The first thought makes me want to leap out of bed. The second makes me want to jump out the window.

I glance at the clock on my bedside table. Seven-thirty. Time to get moving. But the simple action of swinging my legs over the side takes everything I’ve got. I blink and John’s face is in front of mine again, smoke and beer on his breath. Another blink and all I see is red. Salty, warm, red that smells like rust and is every bit as corrosive, eating straight through my flesh and deep into my soul.

Even now I can feel the drops of blood that splattered my cheek the moment my fist made contact. I catch myself wiping at it, sure I’ll see stains on the back of my hand. But there’s nothing there. A man could be dead because of these hands but they don’t look any different. Shouldn’t they look different? They start to tremble all over again. I shake them at my sides, shake them until they hurt.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A-Z: W is for www. (The Moonlit Blog Tour!)

Moonlit will spend the next two months all over the world wide web through a blog tour hosted by Women on Writing. I've had a great experience working with W.O.W. for this tour, and will use them again in the future.

The tour consists of all kinds of interviews and personal posts, and many stops will feature a giveaway, too. I've answered every question under the sun, and then some. I can't believe how much I've learned about myself. It's been a blast.

Here is a list of the dates so far. More may be added in the future. I'm also gearing up for a mid-summer tour with "I am a Reader, Not a Writer," so I'll let you know how that goes, too.

Monday, April 29 @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and learn what makes author Jadie Jones tick!

Tuesday, April 30 @ Thoughts in Progress
Jadie Jones, author of Moonlit, calls Georgia home -- writes about that beautiful place today.

Wednesday, May 1 @ Bookworm Lisa
Enter to win Moonlit, the debut New Adult fantasy by Jadie Jones. Horses, handsome strangers and mysterious secrets...what more could you want?

Thursday, May 2 @ Fantasy Book Addict
Stop by for an interview with author Jadie Jones and a chance to win her debut fantasy novel, Moonlit.

Saturday, May 4 @ CMash Loves to Read
Don't miss a chance to dive into a world of horses, magic, and mystery with the New Adult Fantasy Moonlitby Jadie Jones. Win your copy today!

Wednesday, May 8 @ Musings from the Slushpile
Learn which Fantasy Authors are Jadie Jones' favorites and enter to win her debut New Adult Fantasy: Moonlit.

Thursday, May 9 @ Read These Books and Use Them!
Don't miss a chance to learn more about debut author Jadie Jones and enter to win her New Adult fantasy Moonlit.

Wednesday, May 15 @ The Muffin
Don't miss a review of Moonlit and a chance to win your own copy.

Thursday, May 16 @ Because Reading Is Better Than Real Life
Learn more about Jadie Jones, the author behind the Tanzy Hightower series in today's guest post.

Monday, May 27 @ Steph the Bookworm
Tell us if you think YA is just for teens and learn what YA author Jadie Jones has to say. You can also enjoy a review of Jadie's YA fantasy Moonlit.

Tuesday, May 28 @ Reviewing in Chaos
Don't miss a chance to learn more about debut author Jadie Jones and enter to win her YA fantasy Moonlit.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A-Z Challenge: U is for Update

Here's a quick update on the progress of the sequel to Moonlit, which I've dubbed "Wasting Gray." I'm about halfway into the third draft, and I'm just shy of 100,000 words... holy word count batman! I feel so bad for my editor....

Other titles I've called the sequel during the drafting process:
Two Down
Wild Born
Release Me (but I just saw a new release with this title, so even if it didn't sound like a naughty novel, I'd still have to scratch this from the possibilities.)

What are you working on right now? What does your word count look like and what's your current working title?

Back to the writing cave... peace out!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A-Z Challenge: T is for Tanzy Hightower

Moonlit's main character and heroine is Tanzy Hightower, a barn-girl of little words and a big past. First, her recent past: Tanzy's father died in a freak accident. Tanzy was the only one who saw what happened, and she's keeping a big secret about the last moments of his life. And then, her TRUE past, her first life in north Africa a thousand years ago.

Her name had to mean something - especially in light of the decision her soul was brought back to make. I tried many names on her before I found "Tansy," which in Latin means "immortality," a perfect fit.

As for her personality, I would call her a blend of Sookie (True Blood), Buffy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Katniss (Hunger Games) with a heavy dash of the adorable main character of MTV's show "Awkward."

As far as "casting" Tanzy should Moonlit ever make it to film... I would want it to be someone no one (or few people) have ever heard of. A natural horse person, dark hair, athletic instead of skinny, eyes that say everything, soft spoken, and smart. Here are a few pictures I've collected for my online inspiration board of Tanzy:

Monday, April 22, 2013

A-Z Challenge: PQRS

I fell off the challenge wagon. I won't make excuses, but I will use the corresponding letters to recap the last few days that I've been M.I.A.

P is for plane! Thursday, I flew to Syracuse, NY for the IEA National Championship horse show to promote and sell Moonlit. My suitcase was 10 lbs overweight because of books and promo pieces, which cost me a quick $115. Ouch (so I guess P is also for painful.)

Q is for questions. I haven't traveled much solo, and aside from my little launch shindig, I've never done an author event, so I had a whole lot of questions. Luckily, I was sandwiched between the Pony Club table (manned by the CEO - eep!) and the AQHA, which was headed up by Robin, the sweetest lady in life, and a couple of young enthusiasts. They didn't mind my one hundred questions, and I scored a few great takeaways for my next event. The Pony Club customized chapsticks (brilliant!) and the AQHA table had logo pens that they use for collection and exchange. Robin even invited me to come sell Moonlit at the AQHA youth world championships in Oklahoma this August. I am so there!

R is for rhythm. By Saturday, I'd found a rhythm and became more comfortable just kicking back and letting people ask me questions instead of worrying about something catchy to say. I also went to a convenient store on my way and grabbed a bowl and some chocolate, and set it at the far end of the table next to my poster with the cover and summary of Moonlit. People would grab a piece and then glance at the poster. More often that not, I could tell that they stood there longer than they first thought they would.

S is for sold out. I couldn't believe it. Moonlit sold out. So I left bookmarks and a new bowl-full of sweets on my table for the last day of competition and flew home to my family. 350 riders competed at IEA Nationals, and over 100 of them have a copy of Moonlit.

I am exhausted. I'm up to my ears in emails, laundry, etc. But it was absolutely worth it. I know not every event will have this kind of ending, so I'm cherishing this trip, and this first week as a published author.

P.S. Several of my students competed at Nationals, and they all did extremely well. I am so proud to be a part of their lives. Congratulations Lexi, Kayla, Emily, Madison, and Maizy on a tremendous season, and for being in the top 25 high school riders in the country for their respective divisions.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A-Z Challenge: O is for Opportunity to give thanks

What a week! Moonlit officially launched into the world yesterday, and the celebration exceeded every expectation I had. I'll probably blab all about it on facebook and on other posts, but this one is specifically to say thank you:

To my family, for absolutely everything.
To my amazing group of friends who rallied behind me before and during the publishing process.
To my publisher and all of its talented staff, for making a dream come true in brilliant fashion.
To everyone who braved Atlanta traffic on a weeknight to come support Moonlit and me.
To the fantastic online network of writers that have offered me support and advice at every turn. Even though I have never had the honor of meeting you face to face, you all jump to help each time I ask. I am astounded by the support that I have found among this international family of writers.

Specifically, to my mother. A force of nature who can pull an event together like nobody's business.
To my aunt Betsy, who sewed a hole in my dress, made delicious caramel, chocolatey treats for the event, and designed the Moonlit swag bucket.
To my dad, who can solve any case of jitters with a hug and a nod.
To Elizabeth, who moved heaven and earth to come, and the reason I kept my promise to never give up on Moonlit.
To my grandparents, a source of both inspiration and grounding, and who stayed out past their bedtimes to see this moment happen with their own eyes.
To Carrie, who made me believe I could, and coached me through reading excerpts over the phone.
To Stephanie, who gave the event a little extra spark, and flew to L.A. and back in one day just so she could be there.
To Heather, my Barnes and Noble rep, who was just as excited as me about the launch of Moonlit, and to the entire staff at the Buford, GA B+N that helped make one of the biggest moments of my life a joy and a success.
To my riders Anna, Ashley, Lou Lou, Marrissa, Elise, Sam, Erin, Tori, and Rachel B's and Rachel C's moms, by-proxy, and fellow coaches Alexa and Amanda, who absolutely made my night by coming to see this other part of my life.
To Katherine, who hand-crafted an amazing pen box that will travel with me everywhere I go.
And to my soul family: Ashley, Lori, Hettie, Tommy, Zack, Vanessa, Aiden, Greg, Beau, Zoey, Linda, Rachael, Katherine, Stephanie, and Abigial, who do whatever it takes to support their own, and who gave me a beautiful Cross pen, which will come with me to every signing I do.
And to those of you who I've never met who helped promote this launch online, Angela, Summer, Liz, Aviva, Ellie, Kerri, and more... thank you, thank you, thank you.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A-Z Challenge: ...

It's 12:40am on 4/16. It's officially my release date. But it's also about nine hours after the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. So my mind is a jumble, to say the least.

I ran track in high school and cross country in college. I know the surge of energy that comes in a homestretch very well. It's what I raced for. Those last couple hundred meters made me capable of pushing my body beyond itself. The people that would come cheer us on, watching competitors run by all afternoon, made such a difference. There were times I wanted to quit, but when I came up on a pack of supporters cheering for me even if, especially if they had no idea who I was... I had to keep going.

I just saw the video of the first explosion. It's sickening. Whoever did this set the devices where the crowd would likely be larger - where families would wait to take pictures of their loved ones crossing the finish line. Whoever did this attacked love and support in one of its purest forms.

But it didn't work. Once people realized what was happening, they ran towards the smoke and debris to help. Talk about pushing beyond themselves. Talk about love and support. About not quiting. This is what I want to focus on, what I have to focus on. The good. The kind. The brave. They have my attention. Not whoever did this.