inspiring IT FALLS APART

Hello again! Two blogs in a row? What is this, Disneyland? No, it's not. And no, that didn't make much sense, so let's move on. As I mentioned at the end of yesterday's exciting announcement about the release date for the e-book of IT FALLS APART (June 28th) and the shiny, new cover coming on May 21st (have you signed up for email updates yet? --->), today I'm going to treat you to a little taste of how things appeared in my mind's eye as I wrote IT FALLS APART. Often, when I start a new story, I have a very rough idea of what I want my characters to look like. Sometimes they're based on specific actors or fictional characters while other times they're closer to some composite of elements I've formed in my brain. Sometimes they're a little fuzzier and less well-defined, but start to take shape as I write, leading me to later identify them with someone in particular. In the case of IT FALLS APART, I had a pretty clear idea of what one particular character looked like, but the others were more in that fuzzy zone, where I had a rough idea, but not a specific person in mind. So to help me with the process, I started to look for images that might help me fully flesh out the characters and settings in the book, so I could turn to them whenever I wanted to get a strong visual.

When it comes to "casting" characters in my books, I tend to avoid really mainstream blockbuster actors and actresses who've already made too strong an impression on me, especially if they're already in big YA franchises that have left them as someone very specific in my head. In other words, as lovely as she is, it's unlikely any of my protagonists will ever be the spitting image of J-Law. That said, there are times when someone is just the right match, and as long as my brain can make the connection without seeing the a-lister as someone else, they end up being a good fit. 

So, how do I (roughly) picture Harper, Luke, Chloe, and Meera? Let's take a look:

Alicia von Rittberg as Harper Donnelly

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Honestly, I don't know much about Alicia von Rittberg. I just know that when I saw some pictures of her, I said, "That's what Harper looks like, except Harper has darker hair." Sometimes casting my main protagonist is hardest because she's the most like me of all the characters, and I want my readers to be able to identify with her too. I often don't include detailed physical descriptions in any of my books because I really do like my readers to be able to picture the characters however they want to. I'll give little hints about hair color or length, but if the reader wants to picture Harper as a different ethnicity, I want them to be able to do that without too much trouble. It's hard. I know some people like a lot of physical description so they can really picture the characters as I do, but I suppose this post is for them! This is Harper to me. A pretty girl-next-door. Casual, confident, and beautiful, without looking too-unrealistically-Hollywood gorgeous.

Jeremy Irvine as Luke Coleman

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Of course, Luke has to be a babe. But he also has to capture that boy-next-door quality too. Casting the heroes in my books is also often a challenge because again, I want someone who is definitely hot enough to be a supermodel, but doesn't look like he was born to walk the runway. Jeremy Irvine captures the Luke look to me. Very cute, gorgeous lips, but you could still picture him working in the barn at the inn. Not a "pretty boy", though he is very pretty to look at. I think Harper would more than approve :)

Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar as Meera Chabra

 
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With Hollywood still coming up short with regards to casting diversity, there isn't exactly a large selection of young, Indian actresses to consider when it comes to casting someone like Meera. Hopefully one day there will be a significantly larger pool of Indian actresses to consider, but I did do some research into Bollywood films to see if I could find someone who fit the image of Meera I had in my head. In the end, nobody quite clicked until I found Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar, who actually is of Hollywood ilk, playing in Slumdog Millionaire. As soon as I saw Tanvi, I knew she was Meera, right down to her mostly sweet, but a little bit sassy smile.

Chloë Grace Moretz as Chloe Pascal

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Chloë is Chloe. She's always been Chloe. She's the reason Chloe was named Chloe. I think CGM is a very cool young woman (having loved her since Kick-Ass) and I think my Chloe is a very cool young woman too. Yes, in a story where we're rooting for Harper and Luke, there may be an underlying desire to see Chloe as the enemy, but really, she's not. She's Harper's BFF for a reason. She's sweet and funny with a big heart. It would have been easy to write her as a bad person, or someone Harper could easily have a falling out with to pave the way for her and Luke hooking up, but no. Whether it's Harper and Chloe or Harper and Meera, strong female friendships were an important component of IT FALLS APART as I set out to write and I hope Chloe comes across as lovely and likable even if she is a pretty big obstacle for Harper and Luke.

So, that's it for casting. I almost never bother to cast the adult characters in my books (Nan is every awesome grandma you've ever met all rolled into one), and I haven't yet taken the time to cast side characters like Yuvin, Carter, Lewis, or Eden. I have images of them in my mind, but they're still in that fuzzy state. And like I said, I really do like my readers to be able to imagine the characters for themselves. In fact, if you've been picturing them a certain way, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Before I sign off on this post, I'll share a few more bonus images with you, which I also had saved in my inspiration folder for IT FALLS APART:

The main house at the Coleman Country Inn

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A guest cabin at The Coleman Country Inn

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Harper and Nan's cottage-like home

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Berne Harbor, based on Bar Harbor, Maine

I've never been to Bar Harbor (or Maine for that matter--YET), but I based the fictional town of Berne Harbor on it because it perfectly captures everything I wanted Harper's touristy hometown to be.

bar_harbor_downtown3.jpg

Harper's prom dress

I'd love to include Meera's prom dress too, but that one was 100% from my brain and I'm yet to stumble across an image that captures it. 

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how to radish on release day

Hello, my lovelies! As I announced yesterday, my YA contemporary romance, IT FALLS APART, is making its pre-release debut on an app called Radish THIS EVENING at 7PM. So, what is Radish and how can you find my book on there?

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Simply put, Radish is a free-to-download fiction reading app that launched a few years back which enables users to read books in little bite-sized "episodes". It's great for when you’re looking to kill a little time on your commute (assuming you’re not driving) or when you’re waiting around and find yourself staring at your phone with nothing specific to read. Think Netflix for books. You can enjoy one chapter at a time or you can binge, binge, binge, and (dons best Michael Jackson impression) don’t stop till you get enough. But similar to how some shows are set up on Netflix, there is a bit of a catch—episodes (chapters) are released in a serial format, which means you can only binge so much at once before you have to wait patiently for more. Thankfully, you don't have to wait more than a couple days. Radish has a nice little promo video that demonstrates the basic concept here:

Radish is available for download on your handheld device in both Apple’s App Store and Google Play:

 
 

If you’re interested in reading more about the app, Medium did an article on it last year, which you can find here.

So, that’s Radish 101 for you. Now let’s talk about IT FALLS APART on Radish specifically. I’ve been using the app myself for a while now and it’s fairly intuitive. You can search for my book by author name (Kate Pawson Studer) or by title (It Falls Apart). Once the book comes up, you can add it to your personal reading library by tapping on the + in the upper right-hand corner. Beside the + there are also some options for sharing the story on social media, which I would appreciate immensely.

When you scroll down, you can check out individual chapters by clicking on them. IT FALLS APART will appear on Radish as a Freemium, Frontlist Pre-release. "Freemium" means that initially, you’ll be able to read the first few "episodes" of IT FALLS APART for free (the free in freemiumand then the remainder of the book will be released episode-by-episode, three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday at 7PM). When a new chapter comes out, the app will notify you (assuming you've got my book added to your library) and readers then have the option to pay to unlock it right away or wait a week until it's released for free. It’s very flexible that way, and should you choose to pay, the end cost is on par with most e-books, so each chapter is reasonably priced.

After you’ve finished a chapter, whether you paid to access it early or waited to read it for free, you’ll notice a big heart at the bottom of the text. If you enjoyed what you read (and I hope you do!) you can click on this heart to let the Radish community know you think it’s a book worth reading.

Those are the basics. If enough people check out IT FALLS APART on Radish, we might even able to get it trending on the app’s home screen, which would bring more visibility to the story and make me a very happy author.

As I mentioned in my previous post, IT FALLS APART will also be coming to Amazon/Kindle in June as a full, pay-one-price upfront e-book that you can read easily on your Kindle, computer, or other handheld devices via the Kindle app. That’s why the release on Radish is called a Frontlist (it’s new) Pre-release (it’s exclusive to Radish before it comes out on Kindle). More details about that release are coming and if you want to make sure you don’t miss out, please take a moment to pop your name and email into the subscriber box in the sidebar of this site to sign up for my (I promise it won’t be too frequent or spammy) email news updates and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

If you have any questions about Radish or how you can read IT FALLS APART, please feel free to comment on this post or send me a message on social media or via the contact form on this site.

Thank you again for all your love, encouragement, and support. This is an exciting day! The first seven episodes of IT FALLS APART will be hitting Radish this evening at 7PM! I believe the app adjusts for time zones so that should be local time for you, wherever you are. Please check it out! 

IT FALLS APART release dates and excerpt!

WOW. I am absolutely blown away by the amount of excitement and encouragement my big news was met with over social media last week. I said it then and I'll say it again, THANK YOU SO MUCH! I am being completely and utterly sincere when I say I would not be where I am today on this long, winding publishing journey without the amazing support of friends and family. When you're writing with the goal of being published, but haven't yet been published, you so often feel like you're working inside a bubble, but last week, I felt like that bubble burst, and this week, I'm excited to finally get to invite you all inside the bubble with me :)

Speaking of my bubble (okay, admittedly this analogy is getting a little weird), I've just launched a new module here on the site that will enable you to sign up for news and updates about me and my books, delivered right to your inbox! That's right, just enter your name and email address right over here-ish in the sidebar (unless you're reading this on mobile) and you’ll never miss an update. ------>
I promise I won’t spam you. Just a few updates a year when something truly exciting is happening and you can unsubscribe anytime.

Now for today's big news: IT FALLS APART will officially be published in e-book format in JUNE of this year (specific date still TBD), just in time to help with your summer reading needs. But I know you guys probably don't want to wait that long so I'm super excited to announce you will be able to start reading it as early as TOMORROW, Wednesday, March 28th, when it makes its pre-release debut in serial format on the fiction reading app, Radish. Odds are, you've never heard of Radish before, but that's okay. I'll be posting everything you need to know about the app and how it works and most importantly, how you can find my book on there before the book is officially launched tomorrow evening. So, stay tuned! MORE TO COME ON THAT.

In the meantime, I want to leave you guys with a flirty little excerpt from IT FALLS APART, to say thank you again for all the love and support:

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“Dancing is so overrated,” I panted, sliding my hands up to cup his face and bring his lips down on mine. He pulled away just long enough to huff the word, “agreed,” then continued the kiss, his fingers skimming beneath the bodice of my dress.

This had gone so far off the rails I had no idea how to get things back on track. But honestly, I didn’t care. The prom that was happening out there, beyond the stairwell we’d secluded ourselves to, had been fun and all, but this was So. Much. Better.

“As much as I appreciate the urgency,” I said when his lips slid down to my collarbone. “This isn’t exactly the most covert locale. What if another couple gets the same idea?”

He stopped kissing me and straightened, breathing heavily. “What do you have in mind?”

I quirked an eyebrow. “Wanna get out of here?”

He kissed me again, then we headed back into the main hall, so I could grab my purse and say a quick goodbye to Meera. I found her and Yuvin at our table, drinking the punch he’d gotten earlier.

“Oh hey,” Meera said. “I was looking for you. Where did you—why do you look so flushed?” Her eyes went wide, then briefly flickered to Luke standing behind me. “What were you just doing?”

“Nothing,” I said. “Please don’t ask. I think we’re gonna get out of here.”

Meera smiled knowingly. “I see. Okay, that’s cool. Anything you need from me? An alibi maybe?”

“We’re not burying a body,” I deadpanned.

“And what exactly will you be burying?” she teased, a mischievous glint in her eye. “The hatchet?” Again, her eyes shot to Luke. “Something else?”

“Hey, it’s not my fault your parents never had the talk with you.” I leaned over to give her a hug. “I’ll see you at Eden’s party later, yeah?”

Meera shrugged. “Assuming Yuv and I don’t skip off to Vegas, sure.”

“Please don’t get married without me.” I turned my attention to Yuvin. “Please don’t let her marry you without me.”

Yuvin clearly hadn’t been paying attention. “Huh?”

“Nothing,” I said. “Don’t worry about it.” I glanced over my shoulder at Luke. “You ready?”

The look in his eyes was hungry. “Definitely.”


If you'd like to read more about IT FALLS APART, you can find the cover blurb along with a link to another excerpt here. And don’t forget to use that little box over in the side bar to sign up for news and updates. I’ll be back here on the blog tomorrow with all the details you’ll need to find IT FALLS APART on the Radish App!

home for a rest excerpt II

To celebrate being in the revision stage (yes, revisions should be celebrated!), here's an excerpt from HOME FOR A REST, my adult contemporary romance.

"But Kate, you already shared an excerpt wth us here!!" 

First off, whoa, calm down, guys. The second exclamation mark really wasn't needed. And second, yes, I did already share an excerpt, but this book is new and exciting territory for me, so you get more! If you plan to read both excerpts in a row, read the one I've linked to above first, because the below selection is from later in that same chapter. Enjoy!

Jamie kicked off her boots and hung her coat on a hook by the door, the same one she’d been hanging it on since she first befriended Ryan back in high school. But a lot had changed since then. A lot had changed since earlier that evening.

Ryan flicked on a few lights as they moved through the house toward the kitchen.

“It’s been a while since I was last here,” Jamie commented. If she’d been nervous before, it was nothing compared to what she was feeling now.

Ryan glanced back at her as he flicked on the coffee maker. “Yeah, I suppose it has. BBQ?”

“Christmas party.”

Recognition washed over his face. “Ah yes, I remember. Josh brought that guy who openly complained about everything.”

Jamie nodded. “That was the one.” That guy had been a dick.

She suddenly found herself doubting all of it. Ryan's motivation for bringing her here, the possibility of what might happen, the fact that he’d said anything about kissing her in the first place. And even if she wasn’t misreading the situation, she wasn’t sure this was even something she wanted. Sure, there was a big part of her—a huge part of her—that really, really wanted it, had wanted it for years, but how did that fit in with the person she’d become over the past few months? Was this her moving on? Was she even ready for that? Because nothing about this felt like the casual fun her sister had insisted she needed. Besides, Ryan had said he was done with one night stands. And that was the last thing Jamie ever wanted to be to him anyway.

“You’ve got your pick of desserts.” Ryan turned around from the fridge, his strong arms loaded down with trays of squares, cookies, and entire pies.

“Holy crap,” Jamie said as he lay them out on the kitchen table. “You weren’t kidding about the food.”

He grabbed two plates and two forks. “I never kid about food.”

Her eyes roamed over the options, happy to focus on something other than their current situation for a moment. “Can I have a little bit of each?”

She hadn’t really meant it as a serious question, but Ryan smiled and nodded, his eyes locking with hers. “You’re welcome to have anything you want, James.”

And with that, it was game back on. God, the way he looked at her. So transfixed. He’d always managed to make her feel like she was the only girl in the room, even when she wasn’t. He excelled at focussing on people, addressing their needs. It was part of his undeniable charm—and probably why he was so good at his job. He’d probably made dozens and dozens of girls feel that way. But even knowing that, he still somehow made Jamie feel exceptional. Maybe it wasn’t real, but it still felt so damn good. And right now, that was what she wanted to focus on. Not what she should be feeling, but what she wanted to be feeling. And as Ryan stared at her from across the table with a wicked grin spread across his lips, she knew exactly what she wanted to be feeling. 

 

 

home for a rest

Sorry for the radio silence folks. I've been working hard to finish my current WIP, but of course, life and freelance work keep getting in the way, as they tend to do (and no, I'm not complaining!). Regardless, the WIP is coming along, and while I don't have a synopsis to share with you just yet (which is unusual for me as I'll often write the blurb first), I just offered to share an excerpt when my FB page hit 100 likes, which it did, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! So as promised, I've posted a little snippet HERE from the rough draft of my current WIP, Home for a Rest, a contemporary romance set in fictional Port Ophelia, Ontario (Canada represent!) featuring Jamie and Ryan, two old friends whose lifelong flirtation is poised to erupt into something much, much more.

I'd better get back to writing now... Enjoy! 

friday5 for June 17, 2016

1. LIFE & STUFF

Well, the summer is filling up quickly, and I can already say, the Friday5 is not going to be able to be a weekly feature over the next few months. There's just too much going on! But it's all good. And we all need a little vacation sometimes. I wish I could say the reason there hasn't been a June Friday5 yet is because I've been relaxing, but it's actually quite the opposite. I've been working like a mad woman on everything from freelance edits, to back cover copy, to my own writing, to attending end of the school year events with Little E, to building a vegetable garden in the backyard, to, well, the list goes on. But I think you get the idea. It's been a busy few weeks, and it doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

Everyday life stuff aside, I've also been finding myself feeling a bit overwhelmed by life stuff lately as well. A lot of heavy stuff in the news, pushing down, settling deep. If you happen to be reading this at a time other than the week of June 17, 2016, maybe google what was going on and you'll see what I mean. I don't really want to get into it here because I know I can't do it justice, so I'll just say this: the world is full of love and goodness, but it's not enough. We need more of it. We're at like, 80% love, and we need closer to 95%, maybe even 100%. Okay, I can already feel myself wanting to launch into a long rant, so I'll leave it at that. Love. LOVE <3

I also want to add a quick note about the ups and downs of being on submission, because I'm in a bit of a down trend right now, feeling the hopelessness (which is probably only compounded by badness in the world right now). I've posted in the past about rejection, and how it's all part of the journey, and how you can't take it personally, and need a thick skin, and can usually learn so much from the experience, and YES, all of that is so, so true. But even when you know that logically, you can still find yourself in a funk sometimes. It's rough ride. And if I somehow knew it would work out in the end, I wouldn't mind the bumps so much, but not knowing makes it hard sometimes. Of course, that doesn't stop me from writing, and it doesn't stop me from trying. Even when I'm feeling really down about the whole thing, the seeds of hope are still there, asking me to water them, because they want to grow big again. They don't want me to give up, and thank goodness, that's usually enough--enough to keep going. Keep working hard and keep hoping. Maybe you can relate, in some way or another, with regards something that you want, but can only do so much to achieve. If you don't want to give up, you have to learn to live with hoping, but not knowing. You just have to. Because when you want something, there's no other option than to keep going.

But enough about that. Let's get to some news, shall we?

2. BOOKS & PUBLISHING NEWS

Photo credit: @HPPlayLDN via Twitter

Photo credit: @HPPlayLDN via Twitter

I feel I must address the fact that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has now been seen. I won't post any spoilers here but I will note that I have read them, and everything I've heard has me hoping more than ever that a much wider audience will get to see the play, as opposed to just reading it when it hits the shelves on July 31st. Screen it in theatres, show it on TV, I don't care, but let us see it. Because it sounds like something that needs to be seen. And while I'm certain I'll still buy the play when it comes out, I can't help but feel I'll be missing something vital if I don't get to see it with my own two eyes. 

3. POP CULTURE NEWS

Photo credit: EW

Photo credit: EW

Are you excited for Bryan Fuller's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods? You really should be. The cast is shaping up to be fantastic (Gillian Anderson!), and you can't go wrong with the source material. EW has just released a few teaser images to whet our appetites too. Will you be watching when American Gods debuts?

4. JUST PRESS PLAY: MOANA

Note: This section of the Friday5 was formerly called, "Trailer Worth Watching"--I've decided to rename it to open it up to other share-worthy videos, though this week, it is a trailer for what looks like Disney's next hit:

 

5. NOTEWORTHY NEW YA: LOCAL GIRL SWEPT AWAY by Ellen Wittlinger

They are four best friends who've shared joy and secrets, love and memories, and since the beginning, Lorna was the one who held them all together. Then, the unthinkable happens. During a storm, Lorna is swept out to sea, leaving the three survivors with nothing to cling to except grief and questions. How did this happen? Why was Lorna in such danger, and was she alone? When her body is never found, the mystery deepens. Did Lorna really die? Or has she made a crazy bid for freedom? Inevitably, the dynamic of the four friends' everyday life is changed forever. But the pain and confusion go deepest for Jackie, who must face her feelings of unrequited love for Lorna's boyfriend as well as try to put to rest her own questions about Lorna's presumed death. Does one of the boys in their inner circle know more than he's letting on? Will Lorna's fate ever be discovered? And how will Jackie become her own person in the wake of a wound that may never close? In this beautifully written, intense novel, one girl has to travel through loss and disillusionment to make sense of her own future.

-Courtesy of Indiebound

 

Happy Weekend!

friday5 for May 27, 2016

What happens when you mix the Friday5 with The Writer's Arsenal? Why, an all writing-related edition of the Friday5, of course! And since this is primarily an author blog, I'm assuming you won't mind the diversion.

When people find out I'm a writer, not all, but many mention that they'd love to read something I've written. My usual response is, "well, hopefully one day you'll be able to!" But lately, I've been thinking a lot about ways I can share snippets of my writing with curious friends and family, without sending full manuscripts out all willy-nilly. And that brings me to today's special edition of the Friday5, which is about writing sites. Specifically, sites where writers can share their work. Now, obviously, writers can always share their stuff right on their own personal websites, but it won't have the same exposure or reach as it might on a platform specifically designed for sharing creative works. So today, I'm going to take a look at five such shared writing platforms, and maybe, whether you write as a hobby or in pursuit of publication, you'll find a good place to share a taste of your own work. 

1. WATTPAD

Admittedly, I haven't researched the numbers, but Wattpad claims to be the biggest writing community out there, and as far as web presence goes, I'd have to agree. If you know any of the sites on this list, you probably know Wattpad. From fiction to fanfiction to just about anything else your imagination can conjure, Wattpad is ready and waiting for your creativity. I don't have any personal experience using Wattpad, but it's the go-to for a lot of collaborations with publishers when it comes to contests, and sometimes even book deals. I will probably give it more of a look one day, but for now, I have a few other sites I find myself more drawn too (see below).

2. FIGMENT

Figment is the first website of this type I've ever personally used. It's targeted at YA, which is a natural match for my writing, and it also has a heavy emphasis on Fantasy and Sci-Fi (again, a good match). It's YA slant is obvious right from the homepage, with a fun, youthful design, and links to create, read, and participate in polls, quizzes, and contests. A contest is actually what first drew me to Figment, and the short sci-fi story I wrote for it, while not chosen for an anthology they were putting together, did earn me a personal email from the author judging the contest, noting that she loved my story, but it was too similar to another story in the anthology. So, Figment will always hold a special place in my heart because of that.  

3. FICTIONPRESS

If you're not one for flashy graphics and other distractions, FictionPress is probably the site for you. We're talking bare bones, with an emphasis on category fiction and poetry. Not a lot else to say about this one, but I did want to include a site that gets to the point, and is reminiscent of what fanfiction sites used to be back in the day before website design got all super fancy on us. 

4. SCRIBOPHILE

What sets Scribophile apart from the other sites is its emphasis on reading and critiquing the works of other writers. In their own words, "Scribophile is a respectful online writing workshop and writer’s community. Writers of all skill levels join to improve each other’s work with thoughtful critiques and by sharing their writing experience."  In fact, you can't even post your own writing to Scribophile until you've earned "karma points" by reading others' works. If you're looking for a site where your writing won't just sit there unread, Scribophile might be a good option, but you do have to give a little to get a little, which, let's face it, should always be the case, right? 

5. STORYBIRD

Finally we arrive at what's probably my favourite shared writing site, Storybird. What sets Storybird apart from the others? Well, for one, it's just so damn pretty. And there's something about that little blue bird that just makes me want to create adorable stories. Storybird has a whole visual element to it that the other shared writing sites don't quite capture. It's where authors and illustrators can come together to create beautiful stories and share them with a young, vibrant community of readers and fellow artists. I heart it.

So, to bring this whole thing full circle, I'm going to go back to what I said above about people asking to read my work. Well, now you can sample a taste, both here on the website, and on Figment. To read samples of my works here on the website, please click on the BOOKS link at the top (or, if you're too lazy for that, I'll include links below too). There you'll find the same story synopses I've always had here on the site, but you'll also find new links to samples from each of my completed works. The selections featured here on the site have been taken from varying points in each book, but if you'd like to read the first chapter of each book, you'll also find a link to those on Figment. As always, I'm happy to hear feedback from anyone who takes a look. Happy reading, and if you plan on checking out any of the above sites, happy writing! I'd love to hear about any experiences, good or bad, in the comments, along with any links anyone would like to share to their work!

Read a selection from Shimmer and Shade
Shimmer and Shade, first chapter on Figment

Read a selection from Skin Deep
Skin Deep, first chapter on Figment

Read a selection from The Broken Season
The Broken Season, first chapter on Figment

Read a selection from This Hideous Heart
This Hideous Heart, first chapter on Figment


HAPPY WEEKEND!

the dog's breakfast

Where did all these cookies come from? Photo credit: Zorik07
This post has gone through several incarnations--actually, I shouldn't even say it was a single post because at one point it was going to be three different posts, but as the title suggests, I've decided to throw up my hands and cobble them together into some sort of Frankenpost.

It's been about three months since my last update, and though most of the people reading this will probably have some idea of what's been going on with me because of Facebook, I figured I might as well post a rundown here for posterity's sake. And it being Friday and all, let's do this Friday5 style, shall we?

But only kinda.
1. I'm moving to the country (gonna eat a lot of peaches...does anybody even remember that song?) Yep. Let's get the biggie out of the way first. We all know how stressful and time consuming moving can be. Throw on top of that the fact that we weren't exactly planning on moving (until we suddenly fell in love with a house) and, well, let's just say everything is a bit chaotic at the moment. If I'm not chasing my children around (my actual full time job), I'm making lists and checking them twice--wait, that's not right--it's more like making spreadsheets and cross-referencing everything eight thousand times. And packing, and scheduling, and packing, and painting, and packing. I won't bore you with all the details, but on top of the usual moving stuff (and our family has doubled in size since we last moved), there's also all the getting our current house ready to sell in a timely manner stuff, because again, we weren't exactly planning on this happening...

2. Which brings me to update #2: because of the sudden decision to move out of the city, I've also made the extremely difficult decision to not return to my position as an assistant editor at Harlequin. I have A LOT of thoughts and feeling about this decision, but rather than wade too far into the deep end, I'll sum them up as best I can by saying this whole moving/not returning to work thing has been very bittersweet. I'm definitely excited about our new home and the opportunities it presents (see #3 below), but Harlequin (specifically MIRA, and then HQN) has been my home away from home for seven years and there aren't enough positive words in the dictionary to describe the amazing, talented people I'll no longer be working alongside. I'm going to miss them tremendously. So yeah, BITTERSWEET. 

3. The decision to make the above life changes has left me with the occasional sinking feeling this might end up being a huge mistake, but for the most part, something about it just feels right. Call it a gut feeling. Part of that has to do with us settling in a nice little community just as my daughter is about to start kindergarten, but it also has to do with the opportunity it presents regarding my ambition to build a career as an author. Writing has always been something I've dreamed I'd one day get to devote my primary (work) focus on, and now I have the chance to explore that. Is it a huge gamble? Definitely. But sometimes you have to take a chance, and bet on yourself. This next phase of our lives feels like the right time for me to do that and if it doesn't work out, it certainly won't be for lack of effort or drive. Please keep your fingers crossed for me :)

4. Speaking of writing, that brings me to my next update: my WIP, THIS HIDEOUS HEART is finished, and while I don't usually like to talk about the submission process on this blog, I'll just say that it's out in the world, looking for a home. I'm really happy with how this one turned out (not that I'm not happy with how all of them turned out) and I really, really hope I'll get the opportunity to share it with you some day soon! My next project is the one I'd been working on before the lightbulb that was THH went off, stealing all my attention away. It's a summer camp story--I was a HUGE fan of summer camp style stories as a kid (Baby-Sitters Club Super Specials anyone?) and I can't wait until the bulk of this moving stuff is out of the way so that I can dive in. It's a contemporary YA romance, with hints of mystery, humour and a lot of heart. The working title is, SUMMER CAMP SUCKS WHEN YOU'RE FAT, and it fits the tone of the story so well I don't plan on changing it anytime soon :) More updates on that to come. And in fact, more everything to come. Once this move is over, I'll be in the position to actually, truly, once and for all, get back to a regular blog schedule--another benefit of all these life changes.

5. Okay, this has nothing to do with me specifically beyond the fact that I'm totally hooked. Can we please talk about iZombie? Because I'm in love. I knew I would totally dig this show because, hello, Rob Thomas is a supercrazyawesome genius, but he has somehow surpassed my expectations, meshing the best elements of Veronica Mars with Warm Bodies. In true Rob Thomas style, season one ended with a bang, and I can not wait for season two. So good, you guys. SO GOOD.

Bonus TV-related bullet point: Yes, I'm loving PLL's #summerofanswers. The drama is at an all time high, and my Haleb shipper heart is giving Hot Caleb all the awards for best boyfriend ever. If I can manage it, I'll try to do a Pretty Little Recap or two in the coming weeks, especially if something truly explosive happens. But no guarantees. Seriously, you guys should see all the boxes and moving crap surrounding my desk right now....

So, that's all for now. I'll be back with more in the coming weeks/months/etc, hopefully with an update about SUMMER CAMP SUCKS's progress, and maybe a taste of THIS HIDEOUS HEART since I'm proud and want to share. Until then, I'll just shamelessly sign your yearbook with, "Have a great summer!" ;)


the writer's arsenal: shiny new idea syndrome


One question people like to ask authors is, "where do you get your ideas from?", and the answer, as it should be, is usually some variation of, "where does anybody get any of their thoughts from?" Because really, ideas can come from anywhere. Sometimes they're directly inspired by something we observe, and sometimes, they just form in our brains, either while we're asleep (the "I had this crazy dream..." starting point) or they just appear out of the blue. I personally find that ideas often come to me while I'm already working on another book; something I write, or some plot twist I decide not to use, ends up inspiring a whole new story. The only problem with that is, when the new idea appears, it's suddenly all I can think about (and they always seem to come to me when I hit a creative lull and my brain is looking for something flashy and easy to divert to). When that happens, I usually force myself to jot down everything about the new idea and file it away in my idea folder before returning to my WIP. The new idea can wait its turn. (Sidebar: the word "idea" is starting to lose all meaning as a result of this first paragraph.)


Usually, I can get over the new idea hump, but sometimes, the new idea isn't just a distraction, there's something about it that really clicks, and even if my WIP isn't in a creative lull, the new idea embeds itself deep inside my brain and demands attention. That's what's happening to me right now.  It's hard because part of me is very focussed on a first this, then that mentality--I know the vital importance of staying on task while writing--but I can also look at the situation rationally and see that my WIP could wait (it is, after all, about summer camp, a topic perhaps best saved for when there isn't snow swirling outside my window). And this new idea? There's something timely about it. Unlike other new ideas I've had, I worry this one might fizzle too much if I don't breathe life into it now.

Shiny, new ideas can be dangerous. They're often the death of WIPs. A lot of writers struggle to finish writing anything because they can't stay focussed, and I'd say that 99% of the time, it's best to file new ideas away and stay on task. But the other 1% of the time, when you can't shake the shiny, new idea no matter how hard you try, it might be best to make an exception and let the new idea cut in line. I'm nervous to make the jump, because I don't want to put my WIP in jeopardy of never being finished, but I think the fact that I feel that way is a pretty good indicator that its time will come. With four novels under my belt, I'm at a point where I know I'm capable of reaching the finish line. I think I've earned a little side trip for book number five. Plus, this new idea? It's dark and devastating. Perfect for winter writing :)

Do you find you fall victim to shiny new idea syndrome? Does it keep you from finishing anything or can you set new ideas aside and stay on task?


the writer's arsenal: bookmark these now, thank me later

I've talked a lot about the importance of getting yourself organized when you're setting out to write a book and today I want to give a shoutout to the top five tools I personally use and have come to rely on during my writing process (all of which I'm recommending of my own free will--no product placements here, folks!).

1. TRELLO

Oh, Trello. There are days when I still can't believe you're real. I've tried a lot--A LOT--of different outlining tools over the years. I don't think I could ever possibly list them all. But none have met my needs the way Trello has. It allows you to create these things called Trello boards, which are basically giant bulletin boards where you can pin cards under different columns. I used to only use it for laying out chapter breakdowns, but now I use it for everything. Cause why not? It's so much easier when you have everything you need in one place. I create a board for each book I'm working on, then within the board, I create character lists, chapter breakdowns, a place for snippets of text (cause sometimes you think of perfect dialogue before you've written a scene), and any other things I need to keep handy (locations, facts, timelines, continuity checks, etc). I also use it for new book ideas, marketing ideas, home renovation projects (yes, that is unrelated, but that's just how diverse this tool is! I can even share the home reno stuff with the husband so we can collab on it together!)

Here's a pared down sample of what my story boards look like:

So yeah, it's awesome. Plus, once you set up an account, you can use it via your web browser, your phone, or your tablet (it's even on Kindle!) and everything syncs seamlessly. Oh, and it's free! They do have a paid service called Trello Gold, which I'm sure is a really powerful tool for businesses that require lots of people to collaborate on massive projects, but for writers who want a space to map out their thoughts, the free version is all you need.

2. WERDSMITH

I'm not using Werdsmith as much these days now that I've migrated almost everything to Trello, but sometimes I still want a space where I can do some writing on the fly. For me, Werdsmith has risen above the rest when it comes to writing apps because it's clean, simple, and it works. I can write something on my iPhone while out shopping (cause sometimes you think of brilliant plot twists in the middle of the cereal aisle) and it's there on my iPad when I get home. A few extras that put this app above the rest include word count goals and an idea-to-project-based structure that makes Werdsmith a good place to brainstorm and then run with your brilliance when you're ready.

3. MULTCLOUD

Don't even try to tell me you don't use more than one cloud service. I know you do. We all do. Sometimes because it's forced upon us (Google, Apple, etc) and sometimes because we want to stick to the free version of each and then run out of space. And that's not even to mention that some cloud services just plain old function differently than others, and meet certain needs better than others. If that sounds even remotely familiar than you should probably start using Multcloud, an online tool that lets you manage most of your cloud services in one place. Need to move files from one cloud to another? Multcloud makes that super easy. Want to backup your novel to more than once location? Save it to one of your cloud services and then easily drop copies anywhere you want to keep a backup.

4. RAINY CAFE

There isn't much to say about this website beyond the fact that it provides really good creative white noise. Do you enjoy working to the dull roar of a busy coffee house? Are you inspired by the sound of rain and gentle thunder? Rainy Cafe provides either (or both at the same time!). If you, like me, concentrate better with a little something to block out your actual environment (and find music only helps when you're writing certain scenes), then Rainy Cafe is probably the answer to your concentration woes. Check it out.

5. TRESORIT

Yes, I know I've already covered cloud storage with my shoutout to Multcloud, but I have to give an honourable mention to Tresorit, which I've mentioned before, because unlike the cloud services you can sync with Multcloud, Tresorit is super secure cloud storage done right. I like to keep anything I consider to be highly sensitive material in Tresorit, including an extra backup of each of my novels. It has fantastic encryption and is perfect for those files you really want to lock up tight. Just don't forget your password. Just kidding. I think there's way to deal with that... I think.

So there they are--my top five writing tools! Do you have any specific tools/resources you've come to depend on during your writing (or working) process? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

plans, both master and fledgling

Photo credit: christmasstockimages.com

I don't really believe in New Year's resolutions--at least not in the traditional, eat whatever you want in December cause the diet starts in January sense. I think they set us up to fail more often than not. And who needs to start the year off feeling like they've failed before the snow even melts? Part of the problem with sudden, all-in resolutions is that most people can't make real changes in their lives simply because some (kinda arbitrary) date rolls around. We don't switch on like that.

With that in mind, I do understand the appeal in using the new year to set goals. I just think it's wise to keep some perspective. If you use the new year to organize the goals you've already been thinking about and working toward, you'll be more likely to accomplish something.

I have some baby weight to lose, but realistically, I'm not going to join a gym. First off, I hate gyms. But even if I didn't, I don't have time for them in my life. So what then? Am I going to get up and go for a run every morning? In an ideal world, I would. But no, it's freezing cold winter. And I have a nursing baby at home. It's not realistic. So then what about eating healthier? That's something I can do. But it would be ridiculous to pledge to eat only healthy food from here on out. Diets like that always fail. I know that. And I enjoy unhealthy foods too much to do that. So instead, I'm taking small steps to work toward eating healthier on a regular basis. Less takeout, more home-cooked meals. I love cooking and now that Baby H is sleeping more, I have a lot more capacity to manage it. So as far as that goes, I resolve to take the baby steps I need to take to start eating more healthy, home-cooked meals on a regular basis. I know for me, the key to doing that is actually quite simple--I need to make a meal plan for every week, one that allows for occasional takeout meals and treats, but primarily focusses on eating healthy, home-cooked meals and ensuring I have the ingredients on hand to do so. It isn't a huge change. It doesn't require a ton of effort like going to the gym or forcing myself to count calories would. But it's enough of a change that over time, it'll start to make a difference. And that's good enough for me.

I've talked about the usefulness of getting organized while writing before and I can't help but make the comparison now. Life changes, like writing books, aren't sprints. They take time. We need to prep our brains for them, ease into them. Sometimes we're super keen (daily word count surpassed!) and sometimes we're lagging (feeling uninspired and Netflixy, which yes, I've decided is an adjective), but the key is to keep going at a pace we can manage. That's not to say you shouldn't push yourself from time to time. Realistically, I may only finish writing one book in 2015, but that doesn't mean I won't try to write two, maybe even three. I just won't set that as a hard, punish myself if I don't achieve it goal. It's an ambition, not a resolution.

So what other plans do I have for 2015? Well, aside from meal planning and writing (cause, of course there will be writing!), I am going to keep going on a goal I started a few years back (with the birth of Baby E), slowly cleansing our home of chemical products and unnecessary clutter. I recently discovered an awesome organic grocery store nearby and I plan to start buying more produce and other products from there (knowing I'll still rely on my old grocery store for a lot of things), and while I've removed almost all chemical cleaners/detergents/etc from our home, I still have some work to do with regards to switching to better personal care products, make-up, etc.

So yeah, those are my goals for the year--well, those and keeping my family healthy and happy. But that's just business as usual :)

What are your goals for 2015? Do you like to make hard and fast resolutions or do you prefer to use this time of year for more achievable planning?

If you're like me and want to make some changes to the products you use in your home, I highly recommend you check out the products you're currently using via the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep searchable database. I've been using it to chose better products for a few months now and it's really making a difference.

Happy New Year!!



it's amazing what you can do

Motivation is not always easy to come by. But it's something writers need to get the job done. Often we'll feel motivated at the most inconvenient times (in the shower, as we're falling asleep) but that's what mad dashes to find pen and paper are for :) The key is to stay motivated and excited about a project until you're able to see it through.

Chocolate can be an excellent motivator ;)

Motivation is how I usually decide which project to work on next. Which idea am I most excited about? Which one am I most likely to not give up on? One of the biggest problems people who start writing books but never finish experience is a sudden lack of interest in where the story is going. Some call it writer's block. But really, it's a lack of motivation. Finishing a novel is all about getting the words down on the page, no matter what. 

I've come to believe it's possible to learn to motivate yourself. I'm finally in a position where I can get myself in gear fairly easily, but with a newborn at home, I have to find creative ways to facilitate that motivation. But that's the great thing about motivation. It moves you to take action. And that's why you sometimes see witty prose scrawled on napkins, or, as I've recently discovered, the beginnings of a new WIP typed with one hand into a smartphone writing app. I'm going to have to format the crap out of it later, but at least I'm taking advantage of the motivation when it strikes :)

What do you do to keep yourself motivated?

one day at a time, with an eye on tomorrow

It's been hard to find time to blog lately. It's been hard to find time to do much of anything lately. My infant son turns one month old today. Need I say more?

I've been blessed with a baby who sleeps surprisingly well at night (so far--knock on wood) which means he occasionally doesn't sleep well during the day. I'm not complaining. But I am ambitious and I often end up feeling like I've accomplished nothing in a day. That's okay. I know the early weeks after giving birth should primarily be spent making sure both the baby and I eat and sleep and keep breathing. If that's all a new mother accomplishes in a day, she's doing her job. 

But I'm also close to finishing work on my fourth novel. Painfully close. So close I just want to finish revisions so that it isn't sitting nearly ready on my desk anymore. So I'm working on it when I can. I've learned it's possible to revise a book in small chunks. I've also learned it's possible to revise a book while nursing and with a baby sleeping on your chest. It's not ideal. But that's okay. Sometimes you have to step back and remind yourself to take things one day at a time. And if things don't go as planned, you can hope tomorrow will be better. The ability to do that is something worth valuing. Robin Williams' recent suicide was a painful reminder of the fact that not everyone is able to always see things that way. But, though cliche, it's true. Tomorrow is full of possibility. No bad day can't be conquered by that hope. But you have to remind yourself to hold onto it. It's what moves us forward. 

Another thing I've learned is that I can blog from my phone with one hand. This entire post was written that way. Again, it's not ideal, but it's okay. I know it won't be like this forever :)

the end of the tunnel (<-- not meant to be a pregnancy pun)


Well, it's been a while, but I'm happy to say the below is a thing:
















That's right. The first draft of You'll Never Know Me is finally complete. It's been a long haul--and an adventure taking on a new sub-genre of YA--but I'm happy to say that I hit the ground running when I stopped work two weeks ago and managed to get it finished before baby arrives.

Speaking of which, let's talk about the radio silence on this blog. Because it's been a while. I spent the bulk of May and the first half of June exhausted from pregnancy while I worked to wrap up my day job before officially going on mat leave. Since then I've been spending every day either preparing for baby or working intensely on YNKM. So now that all of that is out of the way, what's next?

Well for starters, I'm hoping to pop out this baby sometime in the next couple of days, and hoping I don't go overdue like I did with my daughter. Being this pregnant is the opposite of comfortable. And yes, I know I have sleep deprivation in my future. I know it better than I did the first time around. But still, I can't sit for more than 20 minutes without my spinal cord feeling numb, and above all, I can't wait to meet my son.

But baby stuff aside, I'm excited to dive in on revisions and hopefully, once the newborn insanity wears off, get this blog back in shape a bit too. In some ways, I feel like I've come full circle. Though it wasn't my first trip around the query track, it was back in 2012, during my first mat leave that I finished Unnatural and landed my amazing agent. Now here I am almost two years later, enduring a very tough market and still determined as ever to achieve my dream of being published. I've written two more books since finishing Unnatural. I've seen ups and downs and I feel like in some ways I can measure my agented publishing journey right alongside my journey as a parent, from mat leave to mat leave. It feels fitting to have finished the first draft of YNKM just as I'm about to give birth again. I feel full of hope and possibility (and baby. I feel full of baby too). Though, you might want to check in with me in a few weeks when I'm getting 2-3 hours of sleep a night and see how full of hope I feel then :)

So there's my update for now. I know the coming weeks are going to be hectic so I won't make any promises just yet about returning to a regular blog schedule, but my last mat leave was definitely more conducive to that than working full time was so I'm hopeful I can get back to something of a routine.

Until then, if you need me, I'll be in my newborn/revision cave. It involves a lot of coffee.