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So, You Want to be a Writer?

I get a lot of emails and messages asking the same sort of questions:
How do I write a book?
I’ve written a book…what do I do next?
How do I get published?
Can you help me get published?


Before I chime in, let’s ask the experts:

There are TONS of blogs and help online-you just have to be willing to dig and search for them.


 UntitledMy Advice (for what it’s worth)
The best way to become a better writer is to writer more. I know that sounds too simplistic, but writing isn’t magical. It’s like anything else worth achieving. If you want to be published it’s going to take dedication of time/energy, sacrifice, and a lot of hard work. Many people believe writing novels is an easy task (just sit down and dream at the keyboard, right?) but even during the best times, its draining and lonely and takes countless hours at a computer.

10 Things I would say to anyone dreaming of publishing a book

  1. Read. A lot. Both fiction and non-fiction. And read as many books on the craft of writing as you can.
  2. Find people who will give you honest feedback, emphasis on honest. You’re not looking for people who will tell you everything you write is amazing because that won’t help you improve. Find people who A) are well-read in the genre you’re writing in and/or, B) are writers who are a step or two ahead of you on the publishing journey who can give you feedback. Join critique groups (that are easily found online on sites like meetup.com or through writer’s organizations).
  3. Join a professional writer’s organization and attend classes or conferences if you can. Nothing compares to being completely surrounded by other writers and brainstorming together. Google writer’s organizations and find one that fits the type of author you want to be (I’d list links, but there are so many. Google what you’re interested in: Christian fiction writers, Science Fiction authors, groups for indie writers, ext.).
  4. If you start submitting to Publishing Houses or Literary Agents, check them first through a site like Preditors & Editors. Signing a contract with the wrong place/person can be a million times more heartbreaking than never being published at all.
  5. Be professional. I can’t stress that enough. If you want to be a published author then your social interactions are now part of your career resume. So don’t rant or pick on people. Don’t post photos or links that might give someone a bad impression of you. And don’t use your social media statuses to go on-and-on about your political opinions or anything that might make future readers/publishers/agents cringe. You are now always on a job interview. Always. Remember that. Also, when drafting correspondence to editors, published authors, and agents write as a professional. Don’t shoot off an email like you’re sending it to your BFF. Study how each type of letter should be worded, for example, here’s how a proper query letter should read.
  6. Be brave. Enter writing contests. Send your shorter works to magazines or local newspapers. Volunteer for your school newspaper or offer to write articles for your church newsletter. Use every chance to build your writing resume. I had 100+ magazine and newspaper articles and contest wins under my belt before I ever pitched a manuscript to an editor. When I did, they took me seriously because I had already done the hard work of establishing myself as a trusted freelance writer.
  7. Cultivate creativity. What inspires you? If it’s nature, then carve out time every week to spend walking local nature trails so you can pour that into your writing. Watch movies that make you think. Listen to different types of music. Make time for creative play to spark your imagination. Creativity is your most important muscle from here on out. Don’t neglect it.
  8. Don’t rush things. It’s far better to take a few more months polishing your first manuscript and getting feedback on it before putting your baby into the hands of publishers/agents/readers for consideration, then handing it over before it’s ready. You often have only one shot – make it your best.
  9. Rejection hurts. But if this is the industry you want to be a part of, then it’s something you must learn to be comfortable with. Even after the book is published you’ll still face rejection (from critics, that one star review on Amazon, or that reader who keeps sending you hate-tweets). In the beginning, allow yourself to go through all of the emotions and eat ice-cream for a day – but only a day. The next day brush yourself off and move on. Rejection can be something that ruins you or challenges you to do better. If you always choose the second then you’ll do well in the publishing industry.
  10. Get a comfortable chair (or invest in a treadmill desk). Seriously. Your butt needs to spend A LOT of time there. Many say the hardest thing you’ll encounter as a writer is your chair and they’re right. It takes a lot of dedication to put in the hours and often means missing out on time with family and friends or other favorite activities.
  11. Yes. I cheated and added one more (I never claimed to be good at math), but this is the most important part of the equation: Dream Big. Seriously. You can do this.
TWEETABLES

State of the Union

I’ve been receiving a lot of email and messages from beloved readers lately and many have similar questions so I thought it would be good to answer some here so everyone can be in the loop.

old typewritter

Question 1: When does the next TimeShifters novel come out?

Great question. Saving Yesterday (TimeShifters Book 1) released February 2014. In the indie world most authors release books in a series very quickly (many will release 3-4 books in a matter of 60-90 days).

So why isn’t Capturing Today, the second book in the series, out yet? Simply, it’s not ready. But there’s a not so simple answer too. Last year I had a very ambitious writing schedule that I was trying to keep while juggling my full time day job and my family. That writing schedule included books I needed to write for my publisher as well. Right now, my publisher’s books come first because I’ve signed contracts and a contract is a promise. I will always make good on my promises.

But know what? I made a promise to the readers of Saving Yesterday too. When I published that book, it was a promise that you’d have the complete series in your hands someday soon. And I mean to keep that promise.

Beyond contract deadlines, my day job, and time with family, a lot of really, really difficult things happened in my life last year. Suffice to say, between a handful of things that occurred, last year was the hardest year I’ve experienced in my entire life.

I was happy when the clock struck midnight and we got to usher in 2015. 2014 and all the bad that came with it is in my rearview mirror now. Sure, I’m still affected by the things from that year, but I have a new fresh year full of hope and potential holding out its hand—telling me now’s the time to live.

Capturing Today will release this year. More than likely it’ll be within the first six months of this year (and if some things fall into place like I’m trying to have them—much sooner than that even).

Question 2: I see your write indie books now, does that mean you won’t write for Love Inspired anymore?

I do write indie books now and am having a ball releasing them, but don’t worry, I’m still writing for Love Inspired. They are a great publishing house that puts my books onto the shelves of every big box store in the country. My editor is wonderful, kind-hearted, patience, and I learn so much from her as we go through the process of polishing each book. And I love the characters and stories I get to share.

There are many, many more books planned in the Goose Harbor series and so many characters to share about. The second book in the series, The Fireman’s Secret (Goose Harbor), releases next month!!! And the third book, The Single Dad Next Door (Love Inspired LP\Goose Harbor), releases in July. Goose Harbor isn’t going anywhere. In fact, I’m writing the next story now. :)

Question 3: What’s next for you?

Like I mentioned earlier, there are two more Goose Harbor books releasing this year and at least one more TimeShifter book (if all goes well, the third will release before the end of the year as well). I am also working on a fairytale novella collection, a novella for each of the royal siblings in a fantastical world. If you’re interested in taking a peek at the inspiration board for the series you can see them over on my Pinterest. And last but certainly not least, I’m working on a super-secret collaboration with a bunch of Young Adult authors. Stay tuned.

If you want to keep up to date with my releases the best way to do that is to sign up for my newsletter. I only send them out when there is big news or a release, so you don’t need to worry about spam. My newsletter subscribers see my covers before anyone else and get first crack at review copies of my books and sometimes have giveaways that are only open to them.

In the coming weeks I’ll be posting (on this blog) some book reviews, I’m working on some posts about the writing process (because I get asked about publishing a lot in emails as well), and keeping you up to date. Make sure to keep checking in for giveaways as well, some friends and I are planning some good ones this year. And…recipes. I always post recipes because we love eating around here.

What’s New?

Happy New Year!

I may be a little late with that wish, but these last ten days have really flown. Along with the greeting I want to update you all and let you know of some exciting changes to the website. As you might have noticed, it looks a little different around here. Like it? I hope so.

1Have you ever wondered what the setting looked like in one of my books or wished you could see the character in the flesh? Now you can! If you click on over to my Books page you’ll find links to Pinterest Boards for every single book. Also, my Goose Harbor series now has its own tab and that has links to a virtual visit to Goose Harbor, the characters, and recipes from the books.

2I now have a Giveaway page. What does that mean? Many of my author friends run giveaways and contests – so many that I figured why not combine all the ones I come across onto one page for all of you? The giveaway section of my website does not update in the blog so you will have to periodically stop by the physical page to see what I’ve found. Many of the giveaways only run for a week or less so make sure to check in often so you don’t miss something amazing (like a Kindle Fire giveaway!). If you click over there now you’ll see I’ve already started adding to the page. Happy winning!

3At the end of last year I stepped down from my position contributing the The Write Conversation. It was a difficult choice to make because I loved writing for that blog but realized I needed to focus on you, dear friends. So here I am. I will be spending more time writing books and updating this website this year, far more than last year. And that’s a promise.

What’s next? Next week I’ll be posting my own state of the union…er…writing career post and look for a list of my most anticipated reads for 2015.

Double Author Giveaway

Double Author Giveaway

I have great news! Author Belle Calhoune (who happens to be a bestselling author on Amazon!) and I decided to team up and host simultaneous giveaways featuring our latest releases. When Belle and I got to talking we realized that our heroines had something in unique in common. Both of our leading ladies try to keep huge secrets from their heroes and both of their secrets have to do with a way their physically different (Belle’s heroine is wheelchair bound and my heroine has third degree burns on her back, legs, and arms that she hides with long sleeves and pants year-round). Also, our heroes are a soldier and a fireman…does life get better? I think not.

First, let’s talk books and then below you’ll find links to both of the giveaways.

Heart of a SoldierHeart of a Soldier (Love Inspired)

A Soldier’s Unexpected Homecoming

Returning soldier Dylan Hart heads to Texas to finally meet pen pal Holly Lynch. When he arrives, he’s shocked to discover the plucky beauty he fell in love with has kept a very big secret. Scarred emotionally by his past, Dylan is deeply hurt that Holly didn’t trust him with such a vital truth about herself. When he’s hired as a cowboy on her family’s vast ranch, he’s committed to staying in town. And as he slowly reconnects with the woman whose letters once saved him, he’ll have to take a look inside his heart to discover what matters most.

 

 

The Fireman’s Secret (Goose Harbor)The Fireman's Secret

Rekindling Her Life

After the fire that injured her and burned down Goose Harbor’s only church fourteen years ago, Shelby Beck is planning to rebuild—the structure and her life. But her wounds have always caused her to keep men at a distance. When Joel Palermo returns to town as a fireman and is assigned to help Shelby raise funds for the new construction, she’s surprised at how easy it is to get close to her brother’s old friend. Could he be the man she’ll finally trust enough to let in? Or will the bond they’ve built go up in flames, when Joel’s own scars are revealed?

 

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Giveaway
Giveaway #1 – Winter Reading Giveaway – $80.00 value

  • Cashmere blanket
  • Mug with famous first lines of books
  • Heart of a Soldier
  • The Fireman’s Secret (signed copy)
  • Amazon Gift Card
  • Assorted chocolates, tea, and coffee

Enter Here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giveaway - belle

Giveaway #2 – Vera Bradley Tote!

  • Heart of a Soldier
  • The Fireman’s Secret
  • Chocolates
  • Vera Bradley Tote

Enter this giveaway on Belle’s Facebook Page (make sure to LIKE the page while you’re there!). Suggest a name for her next heroine and you’ll be entered!

Both giveaways close on Jan. 27!

Black Friday Book Sale

Black Friday Book Sale

No matter if you’re spending Black Friday out at the stores searching for the perfect gifts or safely tucked in your home, here’s a deal you can snag from any computer. From now through Cyber Monday (Dec. 1st) these seven Inspirational/Sweet Romance ebooks are on sale for only .99 cents. So for the next few days you can download SEVEN books for less than ten dollars. Now that’s what I call a Black Friday sale!

Books are listed the author’s last names. Scroll down for descriptions. Each image is a link to the book’s Amazon purchase page. Happy reading!


New Year’s Eve

New Years EveLove was a resolution they didn’t plan on making.

Eve Larson arranged a solitary New Year’s celebration at her mother’s beach house to give herself the space to evaluate her recent hurts—the death of her mother and a broken engagement. She wants nothing more than to put them behind her and make a fresh start on January 1. When her ex-fiancé’s brother, Spencer Canley, shows up with one final demand from her past, Eve worries her plans are sinking like a ship off her beloved Texas coast. Circumstances keep Spencer at the beach longer than either of them initially want, but the delay gives each of them the opportunity to see the other in a different light. As Spencer makes a decision that changes everything about his upcoming year, he realizes he doesn’t want to repeat his brother’s mistake of pushing Eve away. A year ago, the changing of the calendar brought news that changed Eve’s whole life. Could this new year bring love back?

The Holiday Hearts Series: Heartwarming Stories of Finding Love on the Most Special Days of the Year.

Please Note: New Year’s Eve is a sweet contemporary romance novella with a word count of 22,000 words and a PG-level heat rating.


The Cupid Caper

Sometimes you’ve got to take Cupid’s bow and arrow into your own hands. The Cupid Caper

Amanda Marsh is in love with love. As a high school English teacher, she is surrounded by poetry and classic literature, including the love stories written by her favorite author, Shakespeare. She knows she’ll never find anything as romantic as the stories that have stood the test of time, so she’s settled on having a crush on chemistry teacher Luke Baker from a far.

Luke Baker left his career as a research chemist behind to share a love of science with students. And he’s about to make his pet project a reality as the curriculum lead for the district’s new specialized science and technology academy. When a poem shows up on his desk drawing him into The Cupid Caper, the Valentine’s Day-themed dance and fundraiser for Skyview High School’s Student Council, Luke dismisses the whole thing as a silly game. But when he realizes that winning the grand prize in The Cupid Caper is the one way he can help a star student attend the new STEM Academy, he decides to play along.

Paired together, the English teacher and the chemistry teacher both realize The Cupid Caper is more than a game, but neither can tell the other their feelings are no joke. When an education in happily ever after is on the line, will a man whose life has been ruled by the scientific method and a woman who quotes sonnets miss the mark, or will Cupid’s arrow finally ring true?

The Holiday Hearts Series: Heartwarming Stories of Finding Love on the Most Special Days of the Year

Please Note: The Cupid Caper is a sweet contemporary romance novella with a word count of 27,000 words.


Bachelor Father

Bachelor FatherAdoption caseworker Molly Hennessey is determined to place every child in her caseload in a happy home with two loving parents—the type of caring home she’s always dreamed of having herself. Determined, that is, until Brett Cahill comes along and disproves her lifelong perceptions of single parents.

Brett is a typical bachelor. He figures that someday he’ll settle down with a wife and have kids—but just not yet. Then, his sister and her husband are killed in an accident, leaving him with Jake, the Korean toddler they were in the process of adopting. But in order for Brett’s application to be approved he needs to be a married man and kiss his bachelor days good-bye.

Molly holds the power to give herself the home she’s always longed for and to give Brett what he wants most—little Jake. But will she realize it in time?


Searching for Home

She thought a dead relative ruined her life, but discovering his story will save it instead.Searching for Home

When the story of Whitney’s long-dead anarchist ancestor, Lewis Ingram, makes front-page news, she must find a way to exonerate her relative, or risk losing everything–her mayoral-candidate boyfriend and her job at a local magazine. Aided by Nate, a volunteer at the Chicago Historical Foundation, she digs in, determined to find a positive spin on the situation. But what awaits her isn’t spin at all. It’s truth–and it will change her life.

In the world of 1886, Ellen Ingram and James Kent didn’t intend to get caught in the middle of an anarchist spy ring. Ellen was content to leave all such intrigue to her brother, Lewis Ingram. But as the political climate in Chicago changes, Ellen and James have no choice. In the midst of the famous Haymarket Riot, both realize that they must live the life God created them for, not the one dictated by society.

Two generations encounter the same truth–and neither will ever be the same.


A Christmas Bond

A Christmas BondPrequel novella for the Sacred Bond series.

War hero John Moretti sees the delinquent boys he mentors as the sons he never had, and he wants to give them every opportunity to reform. Crime victim Annie Bauer views them as dangerous threats to her elderly grandma, who lives next door to the boys’ residential school.

When the Baby Jesus is stolen from Grandma’s yard nativity scene, the boys’ potential involvement may send them straight to hard-core juvie, and break the fragile connection that’s building between Annie and John. Until the so-called delinquents join together to make a sacred bond . . .


Finding Mr. Write

Jeremiah Jacobs moved to the Ozarks for a fresh start. He knows no one and has no plans to get romantically involved withFinding Mr. Write anyone. Ever. He’s already had his heart ripped out once and once is enough. Besides he has contractual obligations that prevent him from talking about work – and what woman would want to be involved with a man who has to keep his job a secret? When he attends his first local writers’ group meeting, he finds the leader so intriguing, his instant attraction to her threatens to complicate his currently uncomplicated life.

Dorrie Miller has never been good enough. Not for her father or any of the guys she’s dated in the past. She’s pushed beyond her father’s disapproval to have a good career while pursuing her dream of becoming a published novelist. The Christian Authors Network – Dedicated to Inspirational Distinction, or CANDID, is hosting their annual conference in Indianapolis and who’s rumored to be in attendance? The super reclusive, super-star author, Mya Elizabeth Linscott.

The hunky new member of her local CANDID group, Jeremiah, wants to carpool to Indy. Dorrie can handle not making a fool of herself for eight hours each way. Right? But she never imagined doing a favor for someone during the conference would leave her accidentally married to the gorgeous guy she barely knows. How will she get out of this mess, married to a near stranger? Does she want to? Will her insecurities and Jeremiah’s secrets tear them apart? Or can she trust that, all along, God’s been helping her with Finding Mr. Write?


Good Enough for a Princess

Good Enough for a PrincessCrown Princess Adeline of Montevaro has her life planned out for her: get her Master’s in international relations, marry nobility, produce an heir, inherit the throne. There’s no room for romance with the single father she meets when their cars collide on an icy winter night. Parliament – and her father – would never approve. 

Charlie Brewer grew up without roots. The son of an archaeologist father and anthropologist mother, he either traveled along or lived with his aunt and uncle in the States. He’s determined to give his daughter the stability he never had. He also wants to give her a mom, but the beautiful European he’s falling for refuses to move to Serenity Landing, Missouri permanently. 

He won’t move. She can’t stay. What will happen when they try to forget each other by dating someone “acceptable”? They find themselves drawn together by one of the girls in the after school program Addie supports – a girl who happens to be Charlie’s daughter. How will Charlie, and his daughter, feel when they find out the woman they’ve both fallen for is a… princess? 

A trip halfway around the world shows Charlie and Addie how much they long to be together – and how impossible it is. Is there any way he can prove he is Good Enough for a Princess?

#IndieBooksBeSeen Secret Santa Giveaway

If you’re a frequent user of social media I hope you’ve gotten a chance to see the #IndieBooksBeSeen tag. #IndieBooksBeSeen is an authors-helping-authors movement to help shine light on the indie book industry and assist readers in discovering new authors and books. Want to join the fun? Go onto Twitter and search #IndieBooksBeSeen and find your next read. My friend Mark Shaw started the #IndieBooksBeSeen movement and is kind of a big deal now :)

A bunch of the authors involved in #IndieBooksBeSeen got together and said…know what would make the world amazing? FREE BOOKS! So we joined together to host an epic Secret Santa Giveaway. Winners will receive a personalized paperback copy of one of the books (open to the US, Canada, and the UK). You can see all the books being offered by clicking hereWe’re using Rafflecopter to make things easy. Best part? There are 74 ways to enter.

The weatherman says we’re heading into a painful winter, so be prepared. A few good books will get you through to spring!

Happy Reading!

Jess

My Reaction to the Face.Me Blog Tour

My Reaction to the Face.Me Blog Tour

Today some of my author friends banded together to host a Face.Me blog tour where they shared photos of themselves without makeup in an effort to promote true beauty. Lean in, friends, because I’m going to have a very honest moment with you. Ready? When I saw they were doing this and making a big deal about showing their faces without makeup I rolled my eyes. Yes. I’m a sinner. There’s proof.

However, many of those posting were close friends of mine and I wanted to see what they would blog about. I knew their posts would be insightful, but what I found blew me away. Man, was I humbled and challenged. I found myself nodding along. I found myself tearing up. And I found myself praying.

Let the King be enthralled by your beauty;

Psalm

My original issue with the Face.Me challenge was that I can count on one hand (without using all my fingers) the number of days in my entire life that I’ve worn makeup. I have never tried figuring out how to wear the stuff because—frankly—I accepted the fact a long time ago that beauty is far out of my reach. No amount of makeup will turn this mug into a model, so what was the point?

I distinctly remember at grade school age being told that it was a shame I wasn’t pretty like my sisters. Then when it came time to have crushes on boys, the guys I liked always fell for my beautiful best friend(s). Every. Single. Time. See, I have this ongoing issue where I always make friends with beautiful people therefore casting me in the role as wingman for my entire life. This was my truth no matter what my setting—at school, in clubs, and at summer camp. Know how I became friends with my husband? He had a crush on my gorgeous college roommate. True story.

You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I’ve worn many labels in my life. I have been smart. Clever. Strong. Funny. Driven. Independent. Tough. A tomboy. Even cute.

But beauty was never a label for me. Even on my wedding day (one of the few times I’ve worn makeup), I didn’t feel beautiful. I felt loved. So incredibly loved. And special. But not beautiful. I couldn’t have. Because I am not beautiful.

Let’s go back to me rolling my eyes when I first heard about the challenge. At the time I would have told you that I was eye rolling because I didn’t understand what the big deal was. I go without makeup every day and the world keeps right on spinning. You know?

However, as I read the heartfelt words of my friends I realized that I don’t wear makeup because I feel beautiful without it, but because I believe—for me—beauty is unattainable, even with it. So what’s the point? Besides, to this day, whenever I try to wear makeup I think I look silly. Like a little kid playing dress up.

AnnaAnd yet, it’s a little kid playing dress up who is teaching me about true beauty.

He will rejoice over you with singing

Almost two years ago my daughter was born. Every single day since, my husband and I watch her and look at each other to say, “she’s so beautiful!” We catch ourselves doing this constantly. Even when she’s covered in mud or sporting truly impressive bed head. We both believe she’s the most beautiful little girl on earth. Know what? It has nothing to do with her outward appearance. She’s beautiful because of her curious and adventurous spirit. Because she sees beauty and wonder in everything. And most of all, because she’s ours.

God feels that way about me. About you. About us.

That stopped me in my tracks.

To God: I. Am. Beautiful. The girl who no one has ever described that way. Who doesn’t believe that label will ever be for me. God labeled me beautiful the day He created me and He’s been there ever since saying, “See her? That’s my daughter. Isn’t she beautiful?”

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord

So, without further ado, here is my Face.Me picture. Snapped quickly, in one shot, with no filter and no make-up. My hair is still wet from the shower. You can see the extra weight I haven’t lost since having my daughter. And the place on my bottom lip that pulls weird because I have no feeling there from nerve damage when my jaw was broken (this is why I can’t ever wear lipstick!). When my daughter sees this face she cries “mama!” in joy and runs into my arms. This is the face my husband sees when he whispers he loves me. The one that the God of the universe is looking upon right now as He smiles, saying, “That one’s mine. Isn’t she beautiful?”

Me3

Below are some of the authors who blogged about Face.Me and their words really touched me. These are not all the authors involved in the blog tour, but if you click on one of the links, each of those authors have a list of all the blogs involved on their post.

Joseph Courtemanche

Nick Kording

Kristy Cambron

Katie Ganshert

Laurie Tomlinson

Katherine Reay

You are loved. And you are beautiful.

Join the conversation about #beauty using #FACEme and post your make-up free #Author #Selfie -via @AuthorKeller (Click to Tweet)

Jess

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