RSS Feed

Tag Archives: publishing

Upcoming Books, News, and Pizza

Posted on

Small-Town Girl

A little over a week ago I was given the final cover art for my next Love InspirSmall-Town Girl Fronted release! Isn’t is gorgeous? I love that Lake Michigan got a place of honor on the cover. Small-Town Girl releases in August (although Amazon says it’ll send it your way in by mid-July!).

Here’s the blurb from the back cover:

Goose Harbor, Michigan, is the perfect place for Kendall Mayes to start over and open her date-planning business. When she encounters handsome loner Brice Daniels, who is struggling to keep the shipping business he runs going, she sees an opportunity. A weekly sunset cruise catering to couples and tourists will keep their dealings strictly business. Kendall has had enough of failed romances, and Brice is too burned by love to give it another chance. But despite their reservations, they soon let down their walls. Yet when Kendall’s silent business partner is revealed to be Brice’s longtime enemy, staying together might be next to impossible.

The Ranger’s Texas Proposal

Last year I got a call from my editor asking if I had any interest in writing a book in a series of six books with five other authors. I said yes immediately before I realized that five of the six authors writing for this series all had “best-seller” attached to their name. Guess who was the odd man out? Yup. Talk about intimidating! But the other authors were a dream to work with and I learned so much from them.

These books will release in back-to-back months for six months and mine is the second book (coming out in November). The difference in writing The Ranger’s Texas Proposal (as opposed to my Goose Harbor books) is that my publishing house came up with the general plot and character sketches and then I wrote and fleshed it out. I *loved* the process and I adore the story that came out of all of this. Texas Ranger Heath Grayson really worked his way into my heart and his struggles hit me hard (not ashamed to admit there was a lot of at-my-desk-crying happening while writing this one). I’ve been told by my publishing house that the story got three editors crying at their desks over the book/characters – so that’s fun! I’ve never done that before.

I don’t have a cover yet, but I will share it the second I do. However, the preorder is up on Amazon and here’s the blurb:

When Texas Ranger Heath Grayson agrees to investigate thefts at the boys ranch, he’s also hoping to solve a decades-old murder case: his father’s. Getting involved with pretty, pregnant widow and boys ranch volunteer Josie Markham is not on Heath’s agenda. But the more time he spends with Josie, the harder it is to ignore their growing attraction. The somber ranger is convinced a wife and child are not in his future. But with a little help from the boys at the ranch, he may just realize a family is what he needs most of all.

More Goose Harbor

The fifth book in the Goose Harbor series has a name and release date: Apple Orchard Bride is Jenna and Toby’s story (we’ve meet Jenna in many of the other books) and it’ll hit stores January 2017.

I’m currently writing the sixth book in the series RIGHT NOW! And there are solid plans for more Goose Harbor books after that.

More News

I’ve been getting a lot of emails and PMs asking when to expect the final TimeShifters book. I’m always so appreciative when people reach out to me – especially about Gabby and Michael. Those two and the TimeShifters series are all very close to my heart and I think about them often. I would love to continue their story, but at present I’m contracted to write several other books for my publisher and can’t devote enough time to my independent projects. Book three (Reaching Tomorrow) is completely plotted – I just need to find a gap of time to write it in. Like my Amazon Author Page or follow this blog or subscribe to my newsletter for updates on when Reaching Tomorrow will become available.

Last but not least I’m sitting on some very exciting news about a few projects that I’m working on with a team of other authors that amounts to at least two more releases before the end of 2016. I can’t share the details yet … but stay tuned!

I’m sorry there was no pizza in this post. I just felt like the title needed a little something else and pizza did it.

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

Original Chapter One – Part Three

Posted on

The last installment of the original chapter one of Home for Good.  (If you missed the start earlier in the week press here) Enjoy!

Original Chapter One – Home for Good – Part Three

Ali wrung her hands. “A tenth of a second…a tenth of a second.”

Almost. But not quite good enough.

Story of her life.

“You were robbed, Mom.” Chance burst to his feet beside her, his small hand gesturing toward the score board.

Third place. Ali shrugged, but the failure smarted. After replaying the run in her mind twice, she still couldn’t find the misstep that cost them first and second. She wouldn’t thumb her nose at the five hundred dollar prize, but the winner’s purse would have helped more. Two thousand dollars could have paid for a decent farrier and more oats. She let out a long, hot breath. Or gone toward the insurance deductibles. Or new tack…new horses…debt. Something always needed to be paid for.

Never quite good enough. Never quite…enough, for anyone.

“Naw, I lost fair and square, buddy.”

Kate tucked long auburn strands of hair behind her ear. “You made a good run, Al. You and Denny were dynamite out there. The entire crowd was on edge.” She bent, scooping up their small blue cooler full of pop and juice. “We’ll find a way to save Big Sky Dreams. Don’t worry about the future so much.”

“Easy for you to say, seeing as you have nothing to do with my non-profit and no personal effort invested.” The moment Ali solved one issue at Big Sky Dreams, the handicapped horseback riding program she managed, an even bigger problem usually surfaced.

Catching Chance’s hands, lathered with butter and prickly popcorn salt, Ali followed behind her younger sister. At twenty-four, Kate returned home from college a year ago with a degree and a non-stop positive outlook on life. Moreover, she possessed the annoying knack of saying exactly what Ali didn’t want to hear.

“I’m just saying. If God wants Big Sky Dreams to survive, the program will survive.”

Ali rolled her eyes. “Riiiight. Words to live by, I’m sure. But I think the best bet is to bust my back for donations and sign up for every barrel tournament with a purse from here clear to Idaho. I just don’t get where all our money goes. There seemed to be plenty after the last fund-raiser, but the money’s just gone.”  She didn’t want to stomp on her sister’s happy little world, but Ali knew better. God helped those who helped themselves. Because, seriously, when setbacks in life came, God didn’t care. Until she saw him on earth attempting to make a difference with his own two hands, she wouldn’t trust him for anything. Sure, she wanted to believe. Everyone wanted someone to put their hope in. But Ali learned the hard way—hope placed in the wrong thing—or person—left her feeling worse than Chance with a 102 degree temperature.

Ali pointed toward the animal pens. “I’m gonna get Denny. Meet me by the trailer?”

“Sure, and I’ll take scamp here with me.” Kate patted Chance’s head.

“Heeey. I’m not a scamp. Is that a good thing? Mom, what’s a scamp?”

“A nickname like that is a good thing, bud. Means you like to play.” She picked her way across the street then called over her shoulder. “Thanks, Kate.”

Denny nickered as she approached, his black glassy eyes surveying her with what felt like understanding.

“Hey, there, boy. You did good today. I’m the one who botched our run.” She reached out, tracing her fingers down his velvety black muzzle as she unlatched the gate. When Ali slipped the green halter over his head, Denny leaned into her like a hug. She gave him a pat on the neck for thanks.

“We’ll help those kids. We’ll figure out some way.” Bending over, she gathered up most of the brushes. She dumped them all into a bucket then tossed the horse blanket and saddle on Denny’s back, letting the cinch hang loose. She’d just lead him gingerly to the trailer and hope his gear stayed on, which sounded loads better than making two trips.

“Hiya, Ali.”

The voice from her past rocketed through her with the force of a kick drum. The last curry comb flew out of her hand and spun in a drunken arc on the hard dirt. She snapped up and took a step backward.

Jericho Freed.

All six feet of him, clad in jeans and a fitted grey striped button-down. His bold, masculine eyebrows rose as he surveyed her with look-me-in-the-eyes-if-you-dare blues. He wore a straw cowboy hat with unruly hair poking out, and four days-worth of a beard outlined his firm jaw. His defined arms looped over the front of the gate, blocking her path out. Eight years later and the man still made her mouth go dry.

And she hated that he still had that power.

So she did the only rational thing she could think to do. Flee.

In a fluid movement, Ali bounded over the back of the pen and took off sprinting at a breakneck clip. Her hat flew off.

He yelled out her name, called out….

And just like in the past, his voice poured sweet and velvety like chocolate over each syllable, making her toes curl. Ali’s nails dug into her palms. She didn’t want to hear him. She never wanted to fall under his spell again. Tears gathered at the corners of her eyes as she ran.

Why was he here? Why couldn’t he leave well enough alone?

Tearing across the carnival, she pushed past people as they threw her angry looks. Forget them. They didn’t know the danger engulfing her. Didn’t know evil incarnate might be ten paces behind, literarily nipping at her heels.

Oh, why hadn’t she moved away when she had the…chance? Chance! Suddenly she pounded faster, the narrow toe of her boots chafing against her feet.

Jericho couldn’t see Chance. She wouldn’t let that happen. God, please!

Ali zeroed in on Chance and Kate milling next to their beat up green Ford pick-up.

She waved her arms. “Quick, get in the truck. Quick. Now! Chance Silver!”

“Where’s Denny? Aren’t—”

“No. Truck. Now. We’ll come back for him later.” Ali pressed a hand to the stitch in her side as she looked over her shoulder, scanning the crowd for the cowboy with impossibly blue eyes. He hadn’t followed her.

Kate rounded the truck, her eyes wide. “Sis? I don’t see smoke coming from your hair, so if it’s not on fire—what is?”

Ali glanced in the truck, making sure Chance was buckled in and out of earshot. She seized Kate’s arms, clamping down on reality as she felt a vine of anger seeded by fear reach up inside of her.

“He’s here. He’s back. What am I supposed to…what if he…what about Chance?” Her voice rose in a frenzy.

Kate shook her gently. “Who’s here?”

“My husband.”

The End of Original Chapter One

___________________

Jess

Original Chapter One – Part Two

Yesterday I talked about how sometimes when your manuscript gets in front of your editor big sections get cut. So I’m sharing the original first chapter of Home for Good. If you missed the first chunk just press here. Part three will go live on Friday.

Original Chapter One – Home for Good – Part Two

Jericho Freed’s gut clenched. Even from the distance of the bleachers, the sight of little Ali Silver made his heart stampede like a fired up bull. Guess she wasn’t so little anymore. Eight years. He did the math as he passed his hand over his jaw. Well, twenty-seven sure looked good on her. From where he watched, the pink long-sleeved button-down brought out the summer blush of her cheeks, and those leg-huggin’ jeans verified she wasn’t a girl anymore. Fully woman. The woman he’d come home for.

“Why, if it isn’t young Mr. Freed.” Jericho’s sophomore year science teacher, Mrs. Casey, tapped his shoulder. She still wore the purple framed glasses around her neck with a string. “I didn’t think you lived in these parts anymore.”

He touched the front of his hat. “Well, Ma’am, I’ve been away awhile but I’m home now. For good.”

“I was so sorry to hear about your father. How is Abram doing?”

“Thanks for that, Mrs. Casey. He’s just down the road at Valley View Estates. They’re telling me the stroke left Pop without the use of his right side. Got in last night myself so I haven’t made time to see him yet.” Not that he was in any spit-storm rush to go see his father, but Mrs. Casey didn’t need to know that.

Jericho shifted on the bleacher, scanning the stands for Ali. Down the way, he spotted her kid sister Kate sitting with a cute little boy, but no Ali. He pulled off his straw hat, crushed it in his calloused hands then watched as the straw popped back into shape, like a sponge.

Had she seen him? Was she avoiding him? Could he blame her? Nope.

“Is that what brought you home, son?” Mrs. Casey slipped on her glasses and peered at him from over the top of them.

Jericho squirmed. He felt like a fifteen year old again, struggling to remember the chemical formula for salt. “For Pop? Sure. And I completed my tour of duty. And there’s some other…stuff.” A lump formed in the back of his throat as Ali climbed the steps and sauntered towards Kate and the child. She ruffed the boy’s hair. Jericho swallowed hard.

Mrs. Casey raised her eyebrows. “Whatever happened with you and her?”

“Me and Ali?”  He rubbed his clammy palms on the thighs of his jeans.

“In school, why, you two were a matched set. I don’t remember ever seeing one of you without the other around town neither. Then I heard…. Well, listen to me go on about other people’s business.”

I happened.

“Matched set?” He mumbled more to himself than to her.

“Well, whatever you’re here for, I wish you luck, Jericho.”

He lifted his chin. “Thanks. I’ll need a good dose of luck.”

She patted his shoulder again. “You’ll be fine. If I remember right, there isn’t an ounce of quit in your bones.”

Ha. If only Mrs. Casey knew. ‘Cause there was a pretty lady with hair like bottled fire on the other end of the stands that would say ‘quit’ was his middle name.

*          *          *

_______________________________

Jess

Original Chapter One – Part One

I’ve recieved some notes about my new release, Home for Good, that have said they wished the book was longer. When my manuscript was first submitted it was 23,000 words longer than its published length. That’s 30% of the original manuscript that had to stay on the cutting room floor. One of the parts I was really sad to have to chop was the original first chapter. So, I’ve decided to share it in three small chunks today, Wednesday, and Friday. Thursday I’ll be on Seekerville – I’ll post the link when it goes live!

Original Chapter One – Home for Good – Part One

Horse and rider tumbled into a dustbowl of sand in the arena.

Tough break.

Seconds ago the roar of the crowd hammered through the entire rodeo, wired for the Fourth of July weekend. Now the room buzzed with silence.

And her turn came next.

Working her bottom lip between her teeth, Ali Silver ran a hand over the smooth rawhide cantle of her saddle. Two years. After scrimping and saving she’d finally stormed into Hangdog Saddlery a week ago and slammed down the cash for the Billy Cook Flex Flyer Saddle. The money spent better be worth it. The doors to Big Sky Dreams might stay shut forever if she dared to stroll home empty-handed tonight.

Tension laced the air like smoke after gunfire, and Denny shifted beneath her.

“You’re fine, boy.” Ali patted his neck, cording her fingers into the gelding’s mane. As she traced her hand across the silky buckskin hair of his neck, her catapulting stomach began to soothe. Denny knew the barrels.

Rodeo workers ran past her carrying the injured rider out on a stretcher. The fallen horse, a young chestnut, trailed after like a little sister trying to keep up. Ali tried to feel compassion for the rider. But when a horse fell down it meant the rider messed up somewhere.

And she wouldn’t mess up.

“Our next rider hails from our very own Bitterroot Valley.”

The announcer’s voice snapped Ali back to attention. Her turn. Some riders prayed before a run, but Ali didn’t. God stopped listening to her years ago, if he ever listened at all. She mentally practiced the cloverleaf racing pattern, schooling herself, the only proven way to clear her mind and drive away the fog of adrenaline.

Keep centered.

 Visualize the set.

 Leave a clear pocket.

The official nodded to her.

With a defined kick and the lift of the reins, Ali gave Denny his head and he erupted forward, slamming her into the saddle with a jerk that rattled her teeth. Charging down the alley of the rodeo arena, horse and rider busted through the center entrance at mach speed. They crossed the electronic timer beam and tore towards the first barrel with the power of a fuming bull charging a red flag.

Ali smiled. Because when she rode Denny, the rest of the world slouched out of vision. No sound registered as the duo performed their dance. The ache in her chest dissolved, and for about sixteen glorious seconds she felt whole again.

And their approach? Dead on. She fought against a laugh.

Picking Denny’s speed at the precise moment she arced him, leaving a good pocket to give him an even turn. He swung around the orange and blue painted barrel, his hooves digging into the loose ground. Anchored in the saddle, Ali clenched her abs, her right leg pressing along Denny’s ribcage for support. Half clawing the rawhide horn, she looked through the turn toward the enemy…the second barrel. Raising the knotted reins in her sweaty hand, she allowed Denny to rocket forward across the arena, kicking up a mixture of sand and dirt in his wake.

Clocking left around the barrel, they jolted forward, pounding towards the final one with electric force. Ali moistened her lips as they trampled over the place the previous challengers met their fate. She and Denny hugged the last barrel with practiced accuracy, then turned and let loose down the straight. Ali kicked wildly and Denny galloped towards the finish, crossing the timer.

As the race ended, the real world rushed back in. Applause echoed down the arena’s corridors. Ali’s muscles zinged with adrenaline as Denny clip-clopped down the cement hallway. She guided him outside to cool down. The smells of manure, leather, popcorn, and animal sweat hung together in the summer air. She closed her eyes, breathing in the dream of the rodeo. She sympathized with the men who became addicted to running the circuit despite the dangers. Knew what had possessed Dad to chase after the prized bull-riding buckle like a lover. ‘Cause she would, if it weren’t for the four feet of responsibility waiting for her near the outdoor stall.

“Great ride, Mom!” Her brown-haired son jumped up and down as she swung off of Denny.

“You wanna hold him, Chance?” With an impish smile that displayed more gums than teeth, her almost seven-year-old accepted the reins, his beat up cowboy boots clomping into rich Montana dirt. She pulled off her Stetson, using the hat to fan the short cropped hair from around her face then unlatched the gate. Checking first to see that Denny had water, she turned and pulled off the saddle, propping the heavy leather over the metal railing. She ran her hand down his back, drenched from exertion, murmuring praise as Chance handed her the sweat scrapper. With slow swipes she pulled most of the moisture from the horse’s coat then reached for the curry comb.

Her son bounced on the balls of his feet. “Can I go back and see the scores?”

“Sorry buddy, you have to hang with me.”

“But Aunt Kate is in there. If I promise to sit with her can I go?”

Ali moved the comb in strong circles, drawing the dirt out of Denny’s hair. “I said no.”

“Phu-leeeez, Mom. I want to see the bull riders.”

Throwing down the curry comb she spun around and pressed her hands onto her hips. Her heart squeezed. He might mirror her brown-sugar freckles, but the thick maple hair that stuck up on the side when he woke in the morning, his square jaw, the angular nose and intense pale blue eyes—all belonged to his father. Chance looked just like….

Ali shook her head. She did not want to think about him.

“All right my little bronco, here’s the deal. You may go sit with Kate, but we are not staying for the bull riding. Just until they announce the barrel winners. Got it?”

“But Mom—”

“Got it?” She cut him off with a scowl.

With a hand on the top of his hat, Chance ran back into the Ravalli County Fairgrounds main arena. The sticky sweet cotton candy, the clowns, and the 4-H pigs held no interest for him—just the broncs and the blood. She shook her head. Such a boy.

Scooping up a dandy brush, she ran her hands over the stiff rice stems as she looked up at the Bitterroot Mountain Range. The snow-capped peaks laughed down at the sweltering festivities in the sun-drenched valley. Rich light painted vivid greens across a tapestry of pines, the hues of the canyon crags vying with the peaks for splendor. The Bitterroots calmed her. Taking them in reminded her that even when life felt topsy-turvy, purpose and beauty remained in the world. She sometimes toyed with the idea of moving away—starting life over—but she couldn’t leave those mountains.

A summer breeze tickled her skin. She turned and gave Denny’s muscled neck a pat. She needed to get back to the arena. They could have announced the winners by now.

Ali put the dandy brush to Denny with quick little flicks that tossed the last of the dirt off his body and into the air. If only memories were as easy to flick away.

*          *          *

_______________

Jess