Monthly archives "July 2014"

What’s in a song?

What goes into writing a song? I suppose it’s a lot like writing a book, something sparks the idea and there you go, but I’ll get more into that in a minute. Right now I want to address what’s more important. It’s RELEASE DAY! I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. Well…if I’m being honest, I haven’t really been sitting around and waiting. It’s something I’ve thought about, but never imagined would happen. I began writing seriously about ten years ago. I dabbled in it as a teen and always loved writing essays for school, but it was never anything I ever considered for a career. My plans included law school, but then I met my husband, moved to Kentucky, had kids and well you get the point.  Law school never happened, and I’m thankful for it every day.  Because I work closely with the field and know without a doubt that I would have been miserable.  Besides, for the most part, I like what I do, even though it isn’t always easy.  It’s probably why I read so much-to escape the real lives of everyday people whom I encounter. But that isn’t necessarily true either. I’ve always been a reader. It started when my mom took my sister and I to the library one day and I checked out a book by Christopher Pike. I was about eight, so it’s been a while since I’ve read any of his books and I can’t remember any of their titles, but his name has always stuck with me. Needless to say, my obsession with mystery and suspense was born. I remember the way my heart raced with anticipation and how even though I’d be scared to death, I’d still want to finish the book. From then on I’ve had a love affair with reading and although I haven’t always been faithful, I always seem to come back to it. When marriage, kids, and work took a front seat, it was another trip to the library that again sparked my interest. I took my son to story time and while waiting for it to begin, passed by a rack of paperbacks. A book by the name of Night Sin’s caught my eye.  Tami Hoag is now one of my favorite authors. It seems weird that my passion has always been in mystery and suspense and that I write romance, but I’m not particularly choosy in what I read. I love a little bit of everything, but romance for now, is where I’m comfortable.

When I say I began writing seriously ten years ago, everyone automatically assumes Drive Me Sane has been ten years in the making. Nothing could be further from the truth. My first completed novel still sits on my hard drive. I’ve never submitted it to anyone and I’m not really sure if I’ll ever do anything with it. I think the storyline is decent, but it needs a lot of work. I’ve considered turning it into short story for an introduction to another work in progress, but I just can’t seem to get on the ball. It’s like one of my kids that I don’t want to let go. Drive Me Sane is actually a relatively new story for me. It’s not been quite a year since the idea popped into my head, while driving home from a race at two in the morning.  Both kids were asleep in the backseat and as usual, I had the music turned up and was singing away.  Then a song came on that I didn’t know, so I just listened.  I’m not one of those people who hear a song and immediately fall in love with it.  I’d never heard of Tyler Farr or his song Redneck Crazy before that night, but the words really drilled inside me and made me think about relationships and how we handle breakups.  I know some of you that don’t listen to country music might be turned off by the title, but it’s not a hyped up in your face redneck song. It’s actually a love ballad and the lyrics made me realize that we don’t always react to a breakup the way we’d like to.  In fact, we do some silly and sometimes embarrassing things. I went home that night, bought the song and the next morning began what would eventually become Drive Me Sane. I’d like to go ahead and answer what anyone who knows this story asks. Is my hero based on Tyler Farr? No. I do not know, nor have I ever met Mr. Farr-although, I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea :). I did catch one of his shows at The Tin Roof in Lexington, but in no way is my hero a reflection of him in anyway.  I do enjoy his music though. In fact several of his songs are on my Drive Me Sane playlist, but he as a person was not an inspiration.  My hero and him simply share the same first name and profession.  In fact, I tried to name my hero anything but Tyler.  I toyed around with different names and nothing would stick. Tyler isn’t a name I particularly love. No offense, but it’s not something I’d name one of my boys, but it seemed I kept coming back to it and so I finally gave up. That’s the problem a writer. Sometimes your characters speak to you and you may not always like it or agree, but you have to go with what they want. It’s just the way it is.

It took me five months to get my story at a place I was happy with and confident enough to submit. I was in the process of writing query letters and synoptsis’ when I saw an online pitch opportunity through twitter. Prior to writing Drive Me Sane, I had only submitted one other piece of work. It was declined and looking at it now, I completely understand why. It was rough and like my first finished novel, still needs a lot of work. But I felt good with Drive Me Sane and although apprehensive, I was determined not to let one reject deter me. So I entered the online pitch and had not only one, but two of it’s editors interested. Needless to say, three weeks later, I got a nice email saying your storyline is strong, but there are some issues with the manuscript that don’t make it as strong as we’d like. I’ve done enough research to know that not every publisher gives detailed feedback, but I was lucky enough that I got a few pointers of where my story faltered. So I put my manuscript away, thought about what they said and began working through the suggestions in my head. Two weeks later, I was well into the new edits. And then I saw another twitter pitch for a different publisher. For days leading up, I thought about entering and finally decided I wasn’t ready. I still had some work to do and I’m not the kind that throws things out half finished, but on the day of the pitch, it was still on my mind.  I had taken my son to the doctor and we decided to stop by my mom’s work to say hi. Sitting in the car, waiting for her to get off, I scanned through twitter and there it was again.  For whatever reason, it was just too tempting. So I typed out my 140 characters and waited. Nothing came quick, but then I got a response asking for more detail. I’m not good at being put on the spot, so I nervously typed out something and waited. My next response was, “I’m not sure I understand the plot, but I like the characters.” Then they asked for the first five chapters. Two day’s later, after frantically combing through those first five, I sent them along with a query letter and synoptsis to Crimson Romance. A week went by and I didn’t hear anything. But, I did see a post advertising an online editing workshop. It was a three week course and it covered the topics that were what I had been initially told was wrong with my manuscript. So I decided to give it a go.  It’s been the best thing (as far as my writing is concerned), that I’ve done. It not only taught me about dialogue tags and comma splices, it let me know that I had no clue what an editor was looking for. A great idea and a terrible manuscript will not get you published. A decent idea with a decently edited manuscript, might. Three weeks, $75.00 and no word from Crimson (I assumed they weren’t interested), I began a major overhaul of Drive Me Sane. I completely tore it apart.  And then one day, in the midst of doing this, I woke up to an email that said, “I’m really intrigued by Sera and Tyler’s reunion. Could you please send me the full manuscript.” My exact words were “OH SHIT!” Remember me telling you about the adrenaline I felt as a kid when I read Christopher Pike’s books? Yeah, it came back except that it was much worse. I was excited and scared at the same time. My husband said, “That’s good.” But it wasn’t. Drive Me Sane was in a state of complete mess. I had about thirty five thousand words in a novel I submitted as having fifty-six. So for two weeks, I threw myself into getting it together. I worked on it through lunch, I shut myself in my room after work and barely came out. I lived on coffee and whatever I could find left over to eat. I did it, but it wasn’t easy and I couldn’t have done it without my husband who stepped up to the plate and took over at home. I added about fifteen thousand words and completely rewrote the ending, but I wasn’t all that hopeful when I sent  in my full manuscript ten days later.  I still wasn’t up to the word count they required and my story had changed so much, it didn’t coincide with the synopsis I’d sent them, but I was honest and up front.  I explained what I had done and that I understood if it was no longer something that they were interested in. Five days later, I got the news. They wanted to acquired my manuscript.
So here we are five months down the road and I have a published book. Yes, it was fast and crazy. It’s been thrilling and overwhelming at the same time. It’s even been scary, but it’s also been an experience that I’ll cherish forever. If I never get the opportunity again, at least I can say I accomplished what I set out to do.  Thanks Crimson for taking a chance on me and Jess, my editor, for truly understanding my characters.  I hope I don’t disappoint.

So what goes into a song? I really don’t know, but I can tell you want comes out of one. Sometimes it’s a mended heart or the strength to carry on. Sometimes it’s a memory of a good time. And sometimes it’s the idea for a book.

The full playlist of Drive Me Sane can be heard here:  http://open.spotify.com/user/1235812/playlist/2HJxkCYiejpa4DZGpaov8B

Review- Protective Instincts

Protective Instincts (Mission: Rescue #1)Protective Instincts by Shirlee McCoy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my first read by Shirlee McCoy and the Love Inspired Imprint from Harlequin. The imprint itself has always intrigued me. The cover’s are beautiful and the blurbs sound nice, however I’ve always worried that they may come across as a little preachy. Although I don’t mind a modest love story, I’ve am not a fan of religion being the primary focus in my fictional romance stories.

Raina Lowery has been through a lot. Attempting to mourn the loss of her husband and son from a car accident, she goes on a mission to Africa and is captured by rebels. Rescued and back home, she throws herself into securing a visa for the little boy, who helped her while she was held captive, and awaits his arrival to the United States.

Jackson Miller understands loss. After his sister goes missing in Cambodia, he and his brother start a company that helps families bring their loved ones home. He loves his job, but lately he realizes he’s allowed it to consume his life.

From the beginning, the trope of this book is easily recognizable-boy rescues girl and they fall in love. However one should not let that distract them from trying this out. The developing relationship between the hero and heroine unfolds nicely with just enough tension to make you keep wanting more and an element of suspense that keeps you guessing until the very end. My worries of religion taking away from the storyline were quickly dispensed. Although the story as a whole is reserved in the sexual aspect, it was fully satisfying as a romantic read. I immensely enjoyed my first Love Inspired book written by Shirlee McCoy and will definitely continue reading them.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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5200 miles, 12states, 10 days and I still have a ways to go.

Two weeks of travelling across the US with my familly not only spoiled me, but my husband too.  We each keep saying “I just want to pack up and leave again.”  Although, I’m not so sure the boys would be up for it so quickly.  They were starting to miss the dog and riding next to each other was beginning to wear on them (me too!).  Yellowstone was a trip my husband and I had been planning for years.  We’d looked at pictures and talked about it so often, that I felt at times I’d already been there.  However pictures will never do justice for the beauty of that part of the country.  The Battle of Little Big Horn, Beartooth Pass,Yellowstone Park, Grand Tetons, Devils Tower, Mount Rushmore, and The Bridges of Madison County.  If you’ve never been to any of these places and ever get the chance to do so, I encourage you to take the opportunity.  They were stunning!  5,200 miles, 10 days and 12 states. It was a journey and a lot of memories made.

Now we are back to reality.  Paying bills, going to work and getting ready for the kids to start school.  Not nearly as fun as seeing Old Faithful erupt or enjoying the landscape while driving through South Dakota.  I do have the release of Drive Me Sane to look forward to.  Ten days to go! Yes only ten!!  I have to take a deep breath when I think about it.  It still seems a little surreal. Everyone keeps asking if I’m excited.  Stressed, nervous, and can’t sleep because my mind won’t shut down would be better descriptions right now.  Come July 28th, I’ll probably be exstatic, but now I’m overwhelmed.  I know I keep saying I’m going to write that post about things I’ve learned (I still will), but I’m going to go ahead and throw this out there.  I’ve never considered myself a naive person, but I realize there are a lot of things I have no clue about.  Publishing a book was one of them.  If your under the assumption that publishing a book means you write a story good enough to catch an editors attention and that’s it, think again.  Basically that’s what I thought it would be like.  I thought…hey, here’s my book, glad you like it, thank you!  Ha!  Not my luck.  But honestly no, I wasn’t that naive.  I knew a lot of self promotion would go into it and I knew I’d have a hard time doing that.  I’m not a social butterfly, nor could I have ever made a career in sales.  I’m more like here it is, if you like it great, if not, that’s fine too.  Now I’ve been thrown into the world of marketing, in which I have no experience in.  Social media is the way of the world.  I’m pretty okay with that.  I have all the “pages” and “sites” in place.  But how to throw your work out there without becoming annoying or overbearing is the problem I have.  “Now is not the time to be shy.”  I’ve been told that more times than I can count.  I’m trying…really trying and it gives me a stomach ache every time I reach out.  I’ll probably be on Xanex like the characters in my book before this is all over.

So what all goes into publishing a book?  A lot!  Much more than I ever anticipated, but I’m not going to dig into all the small details.  I will say that writing the book and going through the editing process was the easy part. It’s the what comes next that’s hard.  Of course my publisher has their own marketing tools, but they also send you a nice little packet (about an inch thick) of ways to do your own marketing.  Do any of you follow blogs? Maybe some of you have your own.  Mine is very generic, as you can see, but it works.  I’m a simple kind of girl and although there are a few upgrades I’d like to do, most likely this will never get too fancy.  Fancy means more upkeep and that’s something I don’t have the time, knowledge or patience for.  But back to the blogs.  Contacting reviewers or bloggers is one way to market your book.  If you follow any, you know that they are a great asset to whatever their cause may be. Most book blogs offer author/book spotlights, reviews, and will do giveaways- these are all ways to get the word out there.  And let me tell you…there are a lot of book blogs.  Being an avid reader, I followed a few, but had no idea how many there truly were until I started researching them.  So as soon as I received my ARC copy, I began contacting blogs requesting reviews, etc.  I sent a handful out and got one response.  One.  At least they were willing to review it.  None of the other even bothered saying “We appreciated your request, but…”  I know most of these are run in a person’s spare time and are done profit free and they can not accept or respond to every request, so I’m not dogging them in any way.  Please don’t think that.  I’m simply pointing out the frustrations of being a newbie in this industry and not knowing what to expect.  So round two, I sent out a few more.  Still haven’t heard from any of them, but at that point vacation was coming up, so I decided not to stress over it.  Back from vacation, I decided to give it another go around and I finally hit the jackpot.  Okay, so no money is involved, but I did finally get a few responses.  In fact, not only did I get reviews, I got a few opportunities to spotlight my book on their websites.  I also had one person have enough patience with me to talk me along and walk me through some promotional stuff too.  Banners, playlist, character Q&A, author interview, teasers, blurbs, excerpts, trailers, media buy links- I got lost somewhere in all of the things that could possibly be done.  Like I said, I follow a few blogs, I see this stuff, but what goes into putting it together…clueless.  I’m not a wing-it kind of person either.  So for the past week, my nights have been spent researching all these things, looking at different blogs to see how it’s done, checking out other author’s spotlights and playing around with different ideas.  This is what I mean by haveing no clue about what goes into publishing a book, but then again, I guess I really had no concept of what went into marketing a book.  I have no qualms admitting that I’m not all that tech savy and how to put some of the stuff that was requested together went way over my head.  However, I’m proud to say, a few banners later, a playlist on spotify and a whole list of other stuff, and I offically have a media package put together.  I slept better last night than I had in weeks.  So yes, today, finally I’m a little excited, but I’m pretty sure the nerves will hang around until this baby gets launched.  I may have traveled 5200 miles and seen 12 states in ten days, but I still have a ways to go when it comes to this book stuff!

If you’d like to hop on over to Shooting Stars Review and check out what I’ve been working on, click the banner below.  Be sure to enter the giveaway for an ebook copy of Drive Me Sane and $10.00 Amazon Gift Card while your there.

DRIVE ME SANE

DriveMeSane CoverUnable to perform her duties in the army after a twelve-month deployment to Afghanistan that leaves her with scars no one can see, Sera Cavins returns to her hometown hoping that some time alone will help her find her way back to being the girl everyone once knew. That is, until she finds herself sharing a house with the man who left her heartbroken merely weeks before her deployment.

Tyler Creech made it to Nashville and even earned a number one hit, but being a rising country music artist isn’t as easy as he thought. He’s back in Cobb City, Kentucky, looking for something to ease the stress of his next release. He discovers it standing on his mom’s and stepdad’s lawn when Sera, the girl he once planned to marry, shows up. They’d been perfect for each other, until the strain of Sera’s deployment and pressure of Tyler’s career drove them apart. Now with neither of their lives going the way they anticipated, both are fighting different yet similar demons. But change is good, and sometimes going a little crazy is too. Sometimes it’s what keeps you sane.

Drive Me Sane

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Review-Matched To A Billionaire

Matched to a Billionaire (Happily Ever After, Inc #1)Matched to a Billionaire by Kat Cantrell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Leo Reynolds is determined not to lead the life of poverty that his parents did and has no time in his hectic chase to the top for love or relationships. In fact a commitment of that sorts is of no importance to him until he realizes that he needs his personal life to run as smoothly as his business life does and a wife seems to be the answer to his problem.

Daniella White always dreamed of a fairy tale wedding with the man of her dreams. That is until her mother is diagnosed with cancer and needs treatments that neither she nor Dannie can afford. After several lost jobs due to her constant need to take off to shuttle her mother to the doctor, she’s at her wits end and answers an ad for a matchmaker.

Problem solved when they both go into an arranged marriage as a way of attaining security.

First of all, I’d like to say up front that I don’t normally veer towards stories with Billionaires in the title. I tend to like your every day average Joe that works for a living, however, I found this story engrossing. I literally couldn’t put it down. From the very beginning I loved it. Both characters were well developed and easily likable with both having flaws of their own. Well written page turner that you didn’t want to put down.

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Review- Suddenly Last Summer

Suddenly Last Summer (O'Neil Brothers, #2)Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sean O’Neil is a self professed workaholic, who thrives on being one of the top notch orthopedic surgeons in his area. With little time for relationships, he’s always up front and honest with the women he spends time with, letting them know that his career will always come first.

Elise came to America running from an abusive relationship and finds solitude in Snow Crystal Resort as the head chef. She loves her job and the abundant family that owns the resort, who have taken her in as one of their own.

This was a beautiful story. I absolutely loved the hero’s personality. He was honest, upfront and charming all wrapped into one and the heroine was hard to find fault in as well. She’s beautiful, french and loyal to the O’Neil family. The two’s story of finding love unfolded nicely. Lovely tale that makes you want to continue reading the series.

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Review- The Texan’s Cowgirl Bride

The Texan's Cowgirl BrideThe Texan’s Cowgirl Bride by Trish Milburn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The daughter of a tough ex-rodeo’er, Savannah Barron grew up a tomboy following in her father’s rodeo footsteps. Tired of the constant moving around to find the next ride, she settles down taking care of the farming aspect of the family ranch and is content with her life, until faced with the possibility of having breast cancer sends her looking for the mother who ran out on her when she was only seven.

Travis Shepherd is a former soldier turned private investigator after his wife was murdered. Although still angry with the events of losing his wife, he’s dug his heels into work never thinking he’d find love again until he runs into Savannah, an old high school friend.

I really liked the premise of this story. I liked both characters personalities and their interactions with each other. I feel the obstacles they faced were on par and believable. However with that being said, I had a hard time finding a deep connection. I felt like I was being lead around and never involved with what was happening. I understood the feelings the hero and heroine had, but didn’t actually feel them. It was like I was looking down on the surface but never got any deeper than that. Good premise, good writing, for me, it was just a lack of connection.

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