Tag Archives | author

Finding Inspiration and awesomeness.

Summer ending is bittersweet. For what seems like a brief moment, I’ve had my kids back, away from the daily influence and pressures of academic and social life. I’ve enjoyed spending time with them, even though at times, I couldn’t do enough to entertain them. As summer heat fades way too soon, I see they are ready to go back. Already, fall activities are creeping into our schedule.

Bittersweet for me.

Even though I’ve squeezed in work in the early morning and late at night, it’s goodbye to relaxed evenings and lazy mornings. Soon I’ll be back to making lunches at 6 a.m. when I can barely function.

In just another week, the kids will be gone, and I’ll be starting new projects while finishing up older ones. As summer ends, I’m finding inspiration, encouragement and exitement.

1. I’m proofing the young adult Real Girls Don’t Rust Steampunk Anthology, edited by Jennifer Carson. She’s my friend, critique partner, and an editor at Spencer Hill Press. She has an amazing eye for good work.

2. Karen A. Hooper paid for a Bookbub ad for Taking Back Forever. Watching her book skyrocket up the charts made me realize anything is possible and the sky’s the limit. Same with Sue Quinn’s serial: The Debt Collector, which is sitting on my Kindle, taunting me with its wonderful prose and gritty characters.

3. I’ve seen Indie friends sign with agents and court publishers, though that doesn’t seem as paramount to their success as an author.

4. I’m excited for Christina Lee’s New Adult debut, All of You, release this fall.

5. My blogging friend, Stina Lindenblatt signed with an agent and penned a book deal.

6. My crit partner and friend, Kris Asselin signed with agent, Kat Rushall.

7. Magan Vernon released a YA contemporary romance, Life, Love and Lemons, which I can’t wait to read.

8. Leigh T. Moore revealed her cover for Watercolor, the third book in the Dragonfly series.


I know I’ve forgotten someone or something, but there’s a lot to celebrate and encourage me as summer ends and I head into another season of writing and publishing.

What inspires you? Share a friend’s or your good news in the comments!

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The Next Big Thing

Yeah, I’m a little late.

Weeks ago, before Christmas, Susan Kaye Quinn tagged me in the Next Big Thing Meme. As many of you know, Susan is the author of the fantastic Mindjack Trilogy. She’s also a friend.

What is the title of your next book?

Nothing is ever certain with me until the very end. But I’m almost positive the next book will be the third book in Circle of Spies Series and will be called: SECRETS OF AN ASSASSIN.

Where did the idea come from for this book?

To be honest, I struggled a bit with this one. I’d plot and then give up. Plot and then delete the whole thing. At one point, I changed the ending of book 2 so it provided more of a closed story–but left an opening–in case I didn’t write book 3. It was not until after Christmas that when I was least expecting it, the plot came together.

What genre does the book fall under?

Contemporary young adult. But it also falls under mystery and espionage. Some of my favorite stories. For me, it’s not the genre, but the heart of the story. This one continues the story of Savvy and Malcolm.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition.

This is a tough one that I’m going to leave alone. I never look to find actors, or daydream about who would play certain characters. That has never inspired me. Sorry. J

What is the one sentence synopsis?

Malcolm and Savvy are in hiding after their escape from Greece, but when Savvy stumbles upon Will’s phone and a series of text messages, she must choose between everything she’d fought for and breaking away to discover Will’s secrets and make amends with her past decisions.

Definitely still in the first draft phase, so the phrasing will change.

Will your book be self published or represented by an agency?

Self published. That’s an easy one.

How long did it take you to write the first draft?

Since I’m still writing I’ll refer to my production schedule. **checks schedule and returns** It should take me less than two months to finish the first draft.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’d compare this series to Ally Carter’s Gallagher series, except different? Mine isn’t set in a prep school, my characters are older, and Savvy never started out as an official spy with training.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

How about this series? When I started writing A SPY LIKE ME, I planned on querying agents. I decided to try my hand at contemporary and I heard the advice to write something you’d love to read. So I wrote down words like: spies, adventure, humor, love, Paris…etc. The rest is history. J

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

If someone doesn’t love to read about teen spies, I’d say they’d enjoy the heart of the series, which is a girl coming to terms with her changing family and trying to find her place in a world that has been turned upside down.


I’d love to tag a few writer friends. Here they are:

Ansha Kotyk
Laura Diamond
Stina Lindenblatt



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Repulsion, Attraction, Connection: Romance is more than hotness.

Welcome  Laurel Garver, author of newly released, Never Gone! Laurel has been a blogging buddy of mine since the start! And I love seeing friends move forward in their careers whether it’s self publishing, signing with an agent, or finishing that last draft!


It’s rare to find a YA novel that doesn’t include romance, at least as a subplot. Why? This thing called puberty has a lot to do with it. Trying to figure out who you are, and who you want to be as a fully functioning adult, gets more complicated when sexuality is thrown into the mix.

One thing that concerns me as a woman, a writer and mom of a tween is how books can help or hinder kids’ ability to navigate romantic relationships in a healthy way. When we make the chemistry between characters all about looks, we’re feeding into the universal media message that looks make one worthy of love; a message that leads to all kinds of unhappy things like anorexia. Not only that, but the story drama can become pretty one-dimensional. Zits and bad hair days take center stage, while the things that actually make a person date-worthy, like interests and skills and virtues and ambitions and hopes get sidelined.

The things that make for love rather than lust are more than skin deep. Real attraction, real magnetism is more deeply layered than finding someone hot. It grows out of finding something admirable in another person that resonates with who you are and want to be.

Sometimes people who seem attractive on the surface will reveal their lack of inner beauty, like Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. A person’s hotness will evaporate quickly in your readers’ eyes if it is paired with arrogance, narcissism, pettiness or cruelty.

Conversely, sometimes attraction to someone will initially feel like repulsion. I don’t think that’s a myth created and perpetuated by romance writers. I’ve honestly experienced this not only with people I’ve dated but also with folks who have become very close friends. Those we will most engage with have a way of getting under our skin. Sometimes it’s because they have an attribute we lack but envy, sometimes it’s because they are quicker to warm up and want to be close than we are, sometimes it’s because they don’t fit our preconceived ideas of what a friend or partner should look like. Getting close will require us to change, and that can be an uncomfortable process.

When I was writing Never Gone, I was especially interested in exploring those latter two dynamics of the friendly-before-I’m-ready and the not-what-I-though-you-were in my romantic subplot.

When my characters Dani and Theo first interact, she initially wants to run the other direction. He’s been on the periphery of her life and, she believes, simply a jock who probably thinks she’s an artsy weirdo. He’s the last person she wants around while she’s trying to hold herself together at her father’s memorial service. Rather than let her flee, Theo surprises her by telling an embarrassing story, essentially taking himself down a peg. Getting that glimpse of the person behind the looks (which she initially reads as sinister) enables Dani to be vulnerable and speak more honestly to him than to anyone else in her life. And her perception of his looks? That shifts too.

Connection most often happens in places of vulnerability, when one character is low, the other either lifts him/her, or comes down also, making the power balanced. Think about how Darcy finally wins Elizabeth’s trust in Pride and Prejudice: by helping protect her family from scandal, lifting her up when she could have easily become a pariah. In When Harry Met Sally, the two lead characters have a somewhat fraught relationship for years. But they move toward a romantic path at last when Harry comforts Sally in her devastation that an ex is engaged, and he didn’t want to marry her. Or consider Katniss and Peeta in The Hunger Games. There are many moments when the two are clearly attracted to each other, but it’s when Katniss cares for injured Peeta in the cave that they truly connect.

Romantic love can be one of the most dynamic processes we experience as humans. When you write, make sure you delve into its many layers: admiration, compatibility, compassion, and yes, physical attraction. Your readers will thank you for it.


Laurel Garver is the author of Never Gone, a novel for teens about grief, faith, and finding love when it feels like all is lost. Visit Laurel’s blog at Laurel’s Leaves for information about giveaways and more, or follow her on Twitter @LaurelGarver.

About Never Gone

Days after her father’s death, fifteen-year-old Dani Deane begins seeing him all around New York: wading through discarded sketches in her room, roaming the halls at church, socializing at his post-funeral reception. Is grief making her crazy? Or could her dad really be lingering between this world and the next, trying to contact her?

Dani desperately longs for his help. Without him keeping the peace, Dani’s relationship with her mother is deteriorating fast. Soon Mum ships her off to rural England with Dad’s relatives for a visit that Dani fears will become a permanent stay. But she won’t let her arty, urban life slip away without a fight, especially when daily phone calls with her lab partner Theo become her lifeline.

To find her way home, Dani must somehow reconnect with Mum. But as she seeks advice from relatives and insights from old letters, she uncovers family secrets that shake her to the core. Convinced that Dad’s ghost alone can help her, she sets out on a dangerous journey to contact him one last time.

Add it on Goodreads
The e-book is available at Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords
The paperback is available at CreateSpace, Amazon

Thanks Laurel! I think readers really appreciate and connect with a story when the relationship goes deeper!

So, friends, have you read any books lately with this kind of relationship? Or when you write, what are your trips to making the romance more than skin deep?

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Communication with the outside world impossible either because of a storm, cut lines, or they’re on an island.
Someone dies. Murdered.
A killer lurks. Who is it?
Each person has his or her own personality quirks or suspicions. Of course, they don’t all get along. In fact, one or two of them are down right insufferable.

This is perfect for stories because the ticking bomb is built into the premise, along with the tension. But at the same time, character development is crucial.

This past week, I had the great pleasure of attending The Mousetrap based on Agatha Christie’s novel, at my local theater. I am very proud to say that I solved the murder before the killer was revealed. I just chose the person least likely to be it and the solution appeared. Though, I don’t think that would work with more modern stories. I think about Across the Universe by Beth Revis, and soon-to-be-released Ten by Gretchen McNeil.

I love attending my local theater especially since my daughter participated in the junior intern program all summer. Something about the theater is awe-inspiring. I love seeing how they build up to a reveal or an intense emotional moment or how they make something even more hilarious through hyperbole.

So much to learn.

Of course, as writers, we all know how studying movies helps us with our storytelling so watching theater helps too. But I loved spending time with my daughter too, who loves theater.

Seen any musicals or plays this summer? Which one is your favorite?



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Hope is like a giant carnivore.

Or I could have said hope is like claws the size of a school bus.

For several years I’ve been searching, hoping for a flicker. Some sign that eventually my nine-year-old son might take even a tiny bit of interest in his schoolwork.

In third grade, when completing his spelling homework, he still wrote large and messy and refused to start the words on the pink line. (Not because he couldn’t but because he didn’t care. His teacher was shocked when I told her last year that he really doesn’t care about schoolwork unless there’s a competition involved.)

Basically, his words were all over the place like a star constellation, scattered here and there, but if you studied hard enough you could find meaning.

Yeah, spelling homework is not supposed to be like that.

He rarely uses capitals and periods and definitely takes advantage of creative spelling.

We made small strides last year. When he wanted to he could write small and on the line. Maybe it depended on where Venus was in the sky or the direction the wind was blowing that day. Who knows?

But the other day, he handed me a gift that sent hope careening through me like the clubbed tail of a monster swinging through a Lego set.

This is part of a story he wrote:

I was sitting at my computer when I herd a cry for help. I went on the porch I could of fained there was this giant carnivore about 20 feet away from me bitting on this guys arm. I took my riffle and shoot it. the guy thanked me and went on. I still thout I was dreming But I wasn’t. I went for a walk but when I got up to Clock Road my mind went black my eyes went blind. I finnley realized what was going on. I was out cold.

When I woke up all I could see were, you know, monster’s yellow teeth, brown skin, and the claws the size of school busses. Then my eye caught something it was silver. I knew what a gun was but this was some other kind of wepon then my mind worked it’s a sword. I saw these in the movies. I ran and slid under the monster’s leg I grabbed the sword and stuck it in the monster’s behind.

The story continues, high in action and incredible detail of fighting this and several other monsters. I loved it. The strong verbs he chose astounded me. The way he fleshed out the scene sent me over the moon and back. And then, he ended with this bit of humor.

I told my dad I want to be a epic phenser. (fencer)

The spelling wasn’t perfect for sure. He threw in minimal punctuation. But the writing was small and on the lines and the story took up almost three handwritten pages. This is summer. No one told him to do it.

Like I said, hope is like a giant carnivore.

Now my hope is that he’ll read something other than Diary of A Wimpy Kid.

Where have you found hope recently?



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