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What’s up, August?

Guys! This summer has been crazy, and it’s not quite over yet.

I have a lot in the works right now. I know most of you only care about what books are going to be available and when, and here’s a bit of an update for you!

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I have a book (separate from the Begin Again series) that is done and beautiful and in the loving hands of my publisher. It should be coming out by next month. Hang tight for updates on that! (My newsletter will be the first place to get information so be sure to subscribe!)

The third book in the Begin Again series is about 75% done! For some reason it keeps getting put on the back burning as other projects come up, but I really want to have it out by the end of this year. So hold me to that!

Can I tell you a secret? This book is going to be Mckayla’s story and I’ve already plotted Talia’s story, so I’ve got to finish the gang and write Alexis’ as well…right? I guess this is going to turn out to be a 5 book series, minimum.

I just love these characters and can’t let them go.

Alright, I’m done ranting and going back to writing.

Stay tuned.

B

 

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Turning off my Writer’s Brain

Yesterday I saw Dunkirk and while I really enjoyed it, I wish I could have turned off my writer’s brain for two hours.

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The movie is great, really and truly. My problem was that I wanted it to be the next Pearl Harbor. It wasn’t and I realized why.

There was no backstory.

Sure, you want these men to survive. You’re rooting for them. Mostly (for me) because they were Ally soldiers, the ‘good’ guys.

But, I didn’t really care. When one died or they were faced with a challenge, I wasn’t on my edge of my seat (mostly because we were sitting in those amazing new recliners) because I didn’t know them! I didn’t know why they wanted to go home. Who was waiting for them? Was anyone? Why had they joined the army? Was it out of duty or draft? Was it in place of their father or brother? Was it in the name of their family in Belgium that was killed by the enemy?

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I wanted to know this so I had reason to root for them. Instead, we were shown about 24 hours of the war from 3 perspectives. No build up and no resolution. Just a snapshot into that moment in time.

I learned a lot. I got emotional at a few points when the movie taught me something I hadn’t known about the war. But at the end of the day I won’t remember this movie. It didn’t impact me in the way movies can.

Maybe others will have love it. Maybe I was picking it apart. But, unfortunately, I can’t turn off my writer’s brain.

Also, Harry Styles gave quite an impressive performance. I was really impressed by him.

-B

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Inspiration from Music

Music is often my muse.

Songwriters have always been so impressive to me. They’re able to create a world, craft a story, make you laugh or cry, and all in about 3 minutes.

HOW!?

I’ve tried several times to write short stories and can’t keep my word count down, yet there are these amazing people that can do it in a few hundred words!

I have to have music playing when I’m writing. I create a different Spotify playlist for each book and listen to it on repeat while I write. It’s incredible how music is able to transport you to a place, time, or emotion. It’s the quickest way for me to get into the right mindset for the characters and story I’m writing.

So, here are a few of my favorite songwriters:

Carrie Underwoodimages

Man, you do not want to mess with this girl. She may be small but she can pack a punch.

Revenge is her sweet spot. If you ever want to get back a an ex just take a listen to a few of her tunes and you’ll have the perfect plan.

She takes you through a full story from beginning to end, which is incredible considering the time constant. Bravo!

 

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Ed Sheeran

Ed. Oh Ed. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

The musical genius of our generation. His ability to weave words together that not only sound beautiful but have meaning and tell a story….*mind blown*. He’s witty, yet covers sensitive subjects. He’s a true storyteller.

My favorite line: “Tell her that she turns my cheeks the colour of my hair” -One Night

Get it? He’s a red head? I die.

 

Ke$ha – Praying.

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The raw emotion in the song is what makes it so powerful. She makes you feel the pain she’s gone through. She has every right to write a song about how much she hates the man that put her through her recent trials, and it probably still would have been a hit. Instead, she exposed herself and thanks him for making her the stronger woman she is now for having gone through it. This strong of emotion I hope to reach in my books.

 

downloadTaylor Swift, love her or hate her, the girl’s got talent. What’s made her so insanely popular is one thing: She writes relatable songs. You put yourself into the song and understand her thoughts and emotions. She’s nailed the teenage angst, and emotional break-ups that I too write about.

 

Let me know who your favorite song writers are!

Thanks for reading!

-B

 

 

Blog Post

My Writing Process

I get asked about my writing process quite a bit, so I’m finally putting all of my thoughts together for you.

Keep in mind, this is the process that I’ve found through trial and error to work best for me. There is no right or wrong way to write.

Start with your idea. What story are you most excited about? What characters simply won’t leave you alone? You should be pretty excited to get started on making it come to life.

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  1. Prewriting.

This is actually my favorite part, so I have to stop myself from spending too much time here. At the last writer’s conference I went to an instructor spoke about another author who had enough prewriting and research material to fill an full-length novel, but no actual novel. You have to stop yourself at the point when you have the information you need and actually start writing. As fun as it is to discover your character’s favorite candy bar and most embarrassing moment from 3rd grade, it doesn’t actually matter when it comes to writing the book…unless it’s about choking on a snickers bar and the emotional trauma it caused making Reese’s her new favorite candy.

So, what do I do?

I have a notebook with me at all times. Either a physical one or the app on my phone. I jot down any ideas that come in my head. Something that sounds great at 11pm might be crap in the morning, but getting in the habit of writing those ideas down is so important! Sorry, but sitting down and opening a blank word doc and hoping for the best isn’t the way to write a book. You need to be consciously and even more importantly unconsciously thinking about your stories.

There have been so many pivotal eureka moments when I’m driving, showering, or shopping and I immediate stop to add it to my notes. It’s amazing what your brain comes up with when you aren’t actively thinking about something.

Once I have a collection of notes about a book and it’s come alive in my mind I take to the computer. Notebook is my best friend. I have a folder for each book I’m working on and folders within for each character, plot line, and outline. This is where I build my character profiles complete with character building quizzes and images. I plan my setting and begin working on the details.

This is where I could hang out for months making pretty inspiration boards and finding the perfect model/celebrity for my dream cast. Beware! This is not how books are written. Have fun, get to know your characters, develop the plot lines THEN MOVE ON!

        Plotting

I include this in my rewrite stage, but I’ve see other authors consider this it’s own step. There are TONS of ways to plot. I like the story arch for my most overall plot line. Then I go further into 4 part pacing. Then I develop the subplots. Then I do flashcards.

This part to me is so important. I prefer to get as much information down now as I can to make the writing process that much easier. That way you don’t get stuck halfway through wondering how in the world you are going to get to the end of the story. Writers-memes-

Once you have your outline and plot where you want it and you can clearly see the beginning, then end, and most importantly how you get there it’s time to write!

 

       2.  First Draft

I’m of the mind set that i want to make my first draft as clean as possible so editing sucks as little as possible. I try not to skip scenes or dialogue. If I get stuck with a scene then I’ll either give myself a day or two before coming back to it or I break my own rules and skip it and write it later. The most important rule or writing is that there are no rules. Do what is best for you and your story. Some scenes are hard to write, some are emotional, some feel like pulling teeth, but those are usually the most impactful.

        3. You’re done!giphy-1

Just kidding. The best is yet to come.

So you’ve finished the first draft. You wrote “The End”. You cry because the beast that has consumed your every thought and action is DONE!

Give yourself a day to celebrate then come back and realize that you have so much more to do.

It’s time to finish those skipped scenes you promised you wouldn’t leave behind. Read/skim through and see if there is information you thought you gave that you forgot. Is there an entire scene without dialogue? Is there any entire scene of just dialogue? This is where I work on fixing the big things.

Once you’ve got that done you can celebrate again because boy does that part suck! You think you have a finished book but ha! Jokes on you.

This is usually around the time people start believing they’re talentless jokes whose work should never see the light of13486853 day.

Now would be a good time to take a vacation. Read a book you didn’t write. Say hi to the family you’ve ignored.

Give yourself some time to recover. Some people like a few weeks or even a few months. I like about 2 weeks before hitting it hard again.

     4. Editing

My least favorite part of the process. I wrote the book. It’s done. It’s fine. I just want to publish the baby! But no. Stop. You and the book are not done yet. Now it’s time to use a critical eye and read the book, not your book, it’s easier to tear it apart if you separate yourself. Yes you put your whole heart and soul into it and it’s absolute perfection, but you need to have an unbiased eye.

I recommend doing 2 rounds of editing on your own before sending it off to a professional editor. Yes you need one. No your writing is not perfect. You didn’t catch everything already. You didn’t actually separate your heart from the project when you were editing.

You need new eyes.

Send it out to a few Beta readers that you trust to read it for you and if they’re awesome they’ll catch some mistakes for you, too. But you need an editor. We can all tell when a book hasn’t been edited well. Don’t be that person.

Be prepared with a tub of ice cream.

Opening the edited document is gut wrenching. You think there is nothing else your editor could possibly find. You’ve combed through it and you know, YOU KNOW, it’s dang near perfect. Nay, nay my friend. All you will see is red. Blood. Pain. Loss.

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Lines and lines of red. Errors, misspelling, plot holes. RED!

Now is the time to reach for the ice cream and take comfort knowing it’s like that for everyone.

Trudge through the mess that was once your perfect manuscript and know that the end is near and it will be worth it in the end!

 

 

5. Publishing

Now it’s time to decide what to do with your baby. Traditional, Indie, or small press. This is another topic for another time, but there are plenty of resources available to help you chose the path that is write for you.

Thanks for reading.

If you have any questions, please let me know!

-B

Blog Post

It’s been a while…

I’m not a huge fan of change and the entire Spring season was one change after another. These last few months have kicked my butt. I’ve been less active than normal, but that’s good news on the book front!

Let me catch you up.

moving

 

We’ve been going through the home buying process, and it’s simply been THE WORST. A total nightmare. If something could go wrong it has. We’ve been able to move into the home but haven’t closed on the loan yet, so we aren’t quite homeowners. Hopefully that will change very, very soon. Stay tuned for more…

lake

 

On top of us moving, my parents decided to up and move away for warmer weather. I’m VERY close with my parents so suddenly not having them close by has been an adjustment. Not one I particularly enjoy, but they’ve got to grow up and go on their own at some point. The upside is they live close to two lakes and visits now include ample sun time.

 

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An update on my fight against Hashimoto’s! I started a diet my doctor recommended that eliminates quite a bit, but mostly FODMAPS and fermentable foods. The first week was rough, think eggs, lettuce, almonds, and not much else. (I’m exaggerating but it felt like that’s all I was eating at the beginning.) It’s been four weeks now and I’ve relaxed the restrictions just a bit to make it more realistic for long periods of time and I feel great! I finally found a doctor that knows what he’s talking about! WOOOOOT! I’ve lost weight for the first time in 3 years, I have more energy, and I can tell my body is liking the change.

runningI’m doing something crazy. My sisters-in-law convinced me to join their team for a relay race later this summer. I am not a runner. At all. My knees have issues, my lungs don’t like it, it’s boring, and it’s hard. I’ll lift weights and do cardio until the cows come home, but I DO NOT RUN! When they started talking about the race and I realized I’d be the only one not participating I decided to challenge myself. My new diet is making my body feel better so I know I can do it, but I need my brain to accept the fact.

The race is in September and is 50 miles long. Each of us will run 3 5K’s in one day. Some may laugh and say that’s nothing, but remember, I DO NOT RUN! I’m telling you now so I’ll be held accountable. I’m going to make myself become a runner. Somehow. Wish me luck and if you have any training tips let me know!

My husband and I survived the stressful Hockey season and saw our team through their victory of the Stanley Cup! GO PENS!

writing

Next, I went through a job change that left me with a month gap between jobs which means…A MONTH OF BOOK WRITING!!! I finished a new one, am halfway through another, and finishing the edits on another! You guys! So many books! My head spins a bit trying to keep track of everything.

See, good news was buried deep down there in the roughness that has been life.

 

I’ll be revealing the cover of the new book soon! I’m going to announce it first through my newsletter so be sure to sign up!

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My Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Battle, Part II

I posted about my struggle with Hashimoto’s previously and have an update!

A friend of mine told me about a specialist she went to last year when she was feeling crummy. Low energy, weight gain, etc….all the fun symptoms of low thyroid. Well, we got to talking about my experience and told me I had to give this doctor a try. I looked them up and requested a consultation. Fast forward several weeks and I finally got a call back. They’re normally booked out 6 weeks, but they had a cancellation for the NEXT DAY!excited-gif22

I rearranged my schedule and got to the office the next morning full of anticipation and nerves. See there’s one minor detail about this specialist (and most that specialize in helping Hashimoto patients) they aren’t covered by insurance. *insert tears here* (I still haven’t gotten the bills so pray for me)

The assistant lead me back to a chic room (increased panic about the cost. I mean, who has custom made, ceramic sinks in each of their rooms?) and she gave me three pages of questions to go through. About 50 or so symptoms and checkboxes for each. I but a nice little check next to ~90% of them.

When the doctor came in (his doppelganger is Alan Tudyk! Confirmed by my friend as well) he looked over the surveys and laughed. “Looks like you have some hormone imbalances.” Duh.

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First words out of his mouth were more than any other doctor had admitted. I’ve been doing my own research on thyroid disease, autoimmune diseases, and adrenal fatigue. His words confirmed it. We spent over an hour talking with him mostly listening and actually taking notes. Everything from my diet, exercise, prescriptions, past, and goals. More than any other doctor had ever done for me.

He was able to look through the information I gave him and make connections that go back over 13 years! HOW? No other doctor was able to see the things he did.

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He listened and believed me. He didn’t say, “Well looks like you’re doing everything you can, see ya!” He got it and he made sure that I understood everything, too.

He believed I have two additional hormone levels that are too low and we’re working on those. We did blood work (4 HUGE vials were drained my my veins by the vampires) and I got the results yesterday.

The nurse calling me said just one of the problems was enough to cause extreme fatigue and I had THREE! Low iron, low B vitamins, and low adrenal function. I told you so past doctors! *sticking out my tongue*

I’m now taking 7 different vitamins and supplements and have a renewed sense of hope.

If you’re going through a trial, either big or small, don’t give up! Fight!

I’ll keep you updated

xoxo, B

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Begin Again Dream Cast

When I get an idea in my head for a new story the very first thing I do is find my dream cast. Putting a real face to the characters helps them come alive. I keep the characters and their backgrounds in separate folders and build their worlds all before I begin outlining or writing the first word.

Keep in mind not off of these are actors, or even famous people. I usually spend way too long on Google searching through images until I find the one!

So this my friends is my dream cast for Begin Again!

 

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Dreaming Big: don’t let doubt stop you

I had a realization this week. My big dream might not be knocking on my door (yet) but that doesn’t mean every little thing I’m doing now isn’t bringing just a teeny tiny bit closer to the ultimate goal.

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My big dream? Getting my books to you. I want my words read.

There are plenty of ways to go about it and every person you ask advice from will tell you something completely different!

The right way is with an agent who can get you in with a big time traditional publisher! You’ll live the dream of walking into your neighborhood bookstore and find your name gracing the shelves! Traditional is the only way to go!

No, no! You give up too much when you go traditional! You have no say in anything and it can take years for your book to see the light of day. Small publishers are the way to go. You have a professional team to back you, but you still have some control. They’re the ones to trust!

Noooooo! Self publishing is the only option these days! Why give away part of your royalties when you can do everything yourself! The book is true to you and your vision! Your book your way!

Are any of these opinions wrong? Are any of them right? It depends on who you ask. Each writer had their own goals and ideals. Some want complete say in their title, cover, and content so self pub is the clear choice. Others want the validation of an agent or publisher saying that their book is good enough.

I’m in the middle. I’ve self published. I’ve signed with small publishers. I’ve spend months sending out query letters and received 100+ rejections.

I want it all because I want my books seen in a way that so far only traditional publishers have been able to do. I want the intimacy of working with a small publisher that loves my book as much as I do. I want the complete control over my books.

I want this all for you, the readers. It’s devastating when another rejection comes in for the book you put your soul into, but it’s a story I so desperately want to share with the world.

Each page I write is bring me closer to the dream. Each submission and rejection is another step closer. Those little details matter! When I get frustrated that things aren’t happening on my timeframe I need to remember that the things I’m doing NOW are bringing me closer.

Be true to your dreams. No matter how impossible or hard they may seem they are your heart’s desire and you have to try.

Whatever your goal is, the effort you put in today matters.

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My Greatest Struggle: Hashimoto’s Thyrioditis

I’ve been thinking about writing this for quite some time. Years, in fact.

There is something on my mind every single day. In the back of my thoughts – like  constant low buzzing you can’t cast away. On the outside no one can see the struggle. They probably noticed the change in me over the past few years, despite my desperate attempts to conceal and control it.

It’s an internal battle against myself.12246675_10100300674704354_7500799615731323264_n-300x210

My body attacking itself.

I have an Autoimmune disease.

The first time I heard the word Thyroid I was sixteen. I went to the doctor because I had a cold that was reaching the six month mark. Totally normal, right? He decided to do blood work. (It was my first time getting blood drawn and I passed out. Don’t worry, I’ve gotten over that!) He told me I had Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, and would have to be on a medication for the rest of my life. It was a minor inconvenience, but at least he knew why I was always sick!

Fast forward five years, while I was in college my symptoms were getting worse. I had multiple tests and labs done but everything was coming back “normal”. Finally, I went to an endocrinologist (glands and hormone specialist) who looked at my past labs and found something no other doctor had. I didn’t have the run of the mill Hypothyroidism, oh no, I have the autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. My antibodies are attacking my thyroid causing Hypothyroidism. The treatment is the same it’s just a little more aggressive and a bigger pain in the butt.

I have 12 of the 15 common symptoms listed on the Mayo Clinic site:

  • Fatigue and sluggishness
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation25056291bef742c361988b097cef1f91
  • Pale, dry skin
  • A puffy face
  • Brittle nails
  • Hair loss
  • Enlargement of the tongue
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding
  • Depression
  • Memory lapses

79eb050668834162fec96f2e2b818813All such fun things to deal with on their own, but roll them all together and it makes everyday an adventure!

I follow Benjamin Franklin’s life advice, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”. I get 8 hours of sleep a night, and I’m still exhausted everyday. I workout six days a week, but I’m still gaining weight and losing muscle definition. I work hard to strengthen my legs and knees but I have pain in my joints everyday. My hair falls out in clumps and my nails break if I bump something. My anxiety has gotten worse, which causes depression, which increases my anxiety, which worsens the depression. Get the cycle?

I wouldn’t wish this upon my worst enemy.

The worst symptom is the weight gain. Uncontrollable, unforgiving weight gain. I’ve always been self-conscience, so this is by far the hardest part for me to talk about. I really didn’t want to write this because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.

I now hate taking pictures and buying clothes, two things I used to really enjoy. This is me in 2012, 2015, and 2016. I’ve gone up three sizes since the first picture, which wouldn’t be a big deal if I didn’t feel so rotten. I’m all about being strong over skinny, but over the past few years I feel unhealthy and I’m concerned about additional consequences due to weight gain.

I’m tired of headaches making me cancel dinner plans. I hate that fatigue makes me fall asleep at 5pm causing my husband to spend the evening alone while I snore on the couch. I’m over feeling three times older than I really am due to my achy knees.

ffac660d40b37b02857f13cd2989302aI’m doing everything right. My doctor said so. I take the thyroid hormone replacement pill everyday, I’m active, I watch what I eat, but there is little relief.

Some days I feel crazy. According to every lab and test I should feel fine. But I don’t. So the journey continues.

I don’t let these things dictate my life. I still wake up early, go to the gym, head to work, and write at night. I won’t let a stupid disease take away more than it already has. It’s hard. So, so hard. Most of the time I’m okay. My version of okay, which may or may not be normal. It’s been too long since I’ve been “normal” for me to remember what that felt like.

I had another development two years ago. I went to a consult with a thyroid consult to discuss my case. I can away feeling validated that there was more to my illness than needing to take a pill. So many of my health problems were linked together. The migraines, knee pain, and weight was all interconnected. Only problem, their service is $6,000+ and no insurance is accepted. That’s quite the chunk of change for a college student working part time!

The one thing they freely told me to try was switching to a gluten free diet. I cried. Sobbed, actually. I didn’t want to give up bread, cookies, even flour tortillas! But I felt so miserable that I decided to start the very next day. Within two weeks I had more energy, less headaches, and only one migraine in the first month(HUGE improvement over the 15+/month I was having)!

gluteintolI’m gluten intolerant. Gluten causes inflammation in the body and since my little army of antibodies are already causing enough of that I saw improvements by cutting out all gluten. No, it’s not a diet plan. No, it’s not a trendy choice. It sucks. It’s hard. And it is so expensive!

(If you haven’t seen this video, you need to watch it now! It’s hilarious)


Stop Judging!

I’ve learned a lot going through this. I’ve realized how quickly I used to judge. You never know the struggle people are going through. Not all disabilities, not all illnesses, and not all challenges are visible. 54680768

I encourage everyone I talk to about health concerns to list their symptoms and talk to their doctors. I’m the queen of hypochondria, but we should be comfortable talking about getting help when we don’t feel right. Like with mental health, we don’t alway see the symptoms on the surface.

My goal with writing this is to let even one person know that I understand how hard health challenges can be. I certainly don’t have the worst of things, but I can relate. I know what it feels like to be pushing a boulder uphill all day everyday with no relief. There may not be a cure, but there’s always hope things can get better.

I try everyday to love myself and love my body. I’m grateful for all of the things I can do and I try not to dwell on the things I can’t.

xoxo,

B

Sources:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hashimotos-disease/symptoms-causes/dxc-20269764
https://www.google.com/searchq=autoimmune+diseases+mem&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS708US708&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjI8_eMxbjRAhWhqFQKHcnrBp8Q_AUICCgB&biw=1920&bih=950#imgrc=yp0XbTOydRSaVM%3A

 

 

Blog Post

Begin Again’s New Home & 2016 Recap

Hi All!

Begin Again has found a new home with Blue Tulip Publishing! It has been a dream working with the BTP team! Begin Again has a pretty new cover and is available in ebook format. I’m so excited to work with a team that believes in and loves this story almost as much as I do.

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Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iBook

 

 

 

2016 was a rollercoaster! My first publisher closed it’s doors with 3 days notice, I found BTP and started the publishing process all over again, and have been querying out another book.

Querying has turned out to be such an emotional process. One I wasn’t expecting. I finished Uncharming in April 2016 and presented it to a big time NY agent in May. She passed but I learned a lot from talking with her. I’ve now sent out my query letter over 100 times. I’ve had several interested agents, but so far no takers. Getting rejection letter after rejection letter has left me crying, stomping my feet (in the middle of Macy’s), and doubting myself.

I’ve had to ask myself why I want an agent, why I write, and how much longer I can do this before I finally give up.

Answers:

I want an agent because I want this book to be published through one of the big dogs. I want the most amount of people to come in contact with my book. I believe traditional publishers still have the widest spread and accessibility.

I write for myself, but also for those that want to read fun, clean YA books. There are voices and people in my head that want their stories told and I want to share those with you!

I’ll continue to try until I find that agent that reads my book and falls in love. I had the realization this past week that although I LOVE YA books, I don’t love them all. Agents might be looking for YA books that have several characteristics that Uncharming has and appear to be a perfect fit but if the agent reads it and isn’t jumping out of their seat to represent it, then I don’t want them too. I’ve read books that I want to scream about from the rooftop and I’ve read some that left me feeling meh. I’m waiting for the agent that wants to hold my hand and shout with me.

So, where does that leave things? Here are my hopes and goals for 2017, maybe having them out there will hold me accountable.

  • Publish Live Again with Blue Tulip and finish the series with Love Again (McKayla’s Story) I’ve been working on Love Again for two years because other things keep coming up, but I love it and can’t wait for people to read it!!
  • Get and agent and a publisher to fall in love with Uncharming
  • Finish (and publish) Consequences of Being Invisible
  • Write more blog posts, so many things to share with you guys

 

That’s it for now! 2017 is going to be a GREAT one!

xoxo Brittney