children's writer

Unleashing My Creativity N0.1: Blog Redesign

Aug 31, 2012
Writers are always inspired. People inspire us. Places inspire us. Music, photographs, and memories inspire us. We're always looking for that brand new idea. In my post before the last I spoke about wanting to find other outlets for my creativity. I'd love to be able to create both using words and art. The things is, my design skills are limited. So I've decided to give myself a goal to complete at least one of the things on my Five Creative Things I'd Like to Do list in at least three months. One of the things I'd love to do is spruce this blog up a little. If I can do that, then achieving the other things on my list will be a piece of cake.

For the interested, those five things are:

1. Open an Etsy shop
2. Learn how to draw and paint
3. Learn photography
4. Create my own jewelry
5. Learn how to make blog templates

I've searched the web high and low, looking for tips and tricks. I've found some, but my brain hasn't been able to comprehend all of the information I've found. So I'm starting with what I can do. My first goal to building a better blog is pinning everything from blog templates I love to color palettes I love and blog tips. If you're interested, you can find my pin board here. Once I'm finished, I hope to debut my new blog soon.

Quick question, how important is a good blog design to you?

Have a wonderful Friday! Make sure to stop by Valerie Cole's and Bria Quinlan's blogs for the Kiss Off contest they're hosting. As always, thanks for reading.

Writing Spaces

Aug 30, 2012
I've been spending a lot of time of Pinterest, pinning away. I admit, probably more time than I should. One of my favorite boards is my Home Is Where I Belong board, where I pin images of homes, rooms that inspire me. It got me thinking about writing spaces. Those places where we writers like to curl up and write.

Most of my writing takes place in my room, in bed. In fact, I'm writing this post from that exact location. Lying on my back, staring up at the ceiling, is how I came up with many of my novels. Maybe there's some sort of correlation between staring up at the ceiling and ideas. I know a lot of writers get new novel ideas while taking a bath. That has yet to work for me.

My ideal writing space would have solid plain white walls, a white desk, swivel chair, and colorful illustrations on the walls as well as quotes that I love. I also love the idea of having a chalk board wall for plotting and writing down ideas.

Where do you write?

A Work In Progress: 8.29.12

Aug 29, 2012

Hello dear blog readers! Recently I came across a beta reader community called YA Stands.
I took the plunge and got in contact with one of the lovely ladies and she agreed to beta read Pretty-Eyed Girls Don't Cry. I'm excited and nervous to see what she has to say.

Having your work beta read can be a very eye-opening experience. What I find works for me is reviewing the beta reader's notes, letting it simmer for awhile, then start to make changes. It's a tried and true method that really helps keep those "they obviously don't get my story" feelings at bay. I also signed up for Gearing Up to Get an Agent. I figured it couldn't hurt to give it a go. In South of Lonesome Land things have been on hiatus. My mind has been on other things, blogging for one. I've been doing a lot of blog stalking and soaking up a ton of inspiration from Pinterest.

I love creative people! I love what I do, but I want to do more. I've been having this urge to expand my creative talents. One of my resolutions was to draw every day. I think I'm going to start up again.

Five creative things I'd love to do someday:

1. Open an Etsy shop
2. Learn how to draw and paint
3. Learn photography
4. Create my own jewelry
5. Learn how to make blog templates

I am still a work in progress.

Are there any other creative things you guys like to do other than writing? Are any of my goals on your to-do lists?

Berries photographed by Dasha.

Fashion Meets Fiction: Author Cocktail Hour

Aug 28, 2012
Hello everyone! I had a ton of fun writing my last fashion meets fiction post. I thought I'd continue the series at least once every week. This week I'm featuring Nina Ricci's pre-fall 2012 collection, which is absolutely stunning.

So I've heard some things about author cocktail parties, but whether they really happen or not I don't know. If they did though I imagine every one would be dressed in the finest all black ensembles and sip golden champagne. Okay, maybe I'm getting a little too ahead of myself. But when I saw Nina Ricci's collection, particularly the first dress, I immediately thought author cocktail party. They are nice to imagine.

Images courtesy of


Aug 27, 2012
Hello everyone! I've been feeling very inspired lately. Super inspired actually. And since this blog is one of my only outlets, I might as well share my ideas with you guys. One of my "bright" ideas was sharing a list of names I love and plan to use in upcoming novels.

As writers I know how important coming up with the perfect name can be. For me, one of the toughest things is changing a character's name. It almost feels like I've given them a new identity. I usually don't put much thought into naming my characters, though. I usually go with what sounds and feels right. Imagine my surprise when I looked up the meaning for some of the names I've used and they fit my character's personality or appearance perfectly.

From SUMMER SPELL my main character Cassidy Harwell's name means curly, which fits. Cassidy is a twelve-year-old African American girl with hair as thick as a lion's mane, or at least that's how her mama describes it.

From PRETTY-EYED GIRLS DON'T CRY my main character Amelia Taylor's name means work, effort, strain, which sort of fits because she does work hard to try an hold her family together.

From SOUTH OF LONESOME my main character Shelby Porter's name means sheltered. Shelby Porter thinks her parents would keep her locked up in a cage if they could.

So when it comes to naming my characters I think I've done pretty good. I've been keeping a list of names that I plan to use in the future. I definitely have a thing for southern sounding names like Graydon.

How do you name your characters? Do you have any favorite names?

Delectable Links: 8.25.12

Aug 25, 2012
Hello everyone! One of the things I love about blogging is being able to share my ideas with you guys. I've been thinking a lot about how I can be more creative with this blog and incorporate some of the things I love.

That being said, I think one of the things I'd really love to do is share my top favorite finds of the week. I think I'll be doing it at the end of every full week on Saturdays. And since today is Saturday, today will be my first delectable links post.

Have a wonderful weekend. And as always, thanks for reading.

 A yummy pumpkin spice hot chocolate recipe  This four cheese baked skillet rigatoni looks delicious  I love, love, love Kelly Love's A/W 2012 collection Into The Woods The Frances Baker A/W 2012 lookbook has a quiet kind of beauty as well  Simple yet stunning jewelry from Autumn Equinox  A quote that makes my heart melt   Two songs that makes my heart sing and sing   A very sweet and whimsical book cover My own Pinterest board The Beautiful and the Whimsy

Success: My Way or the Highway

Aug 24, 2012
I'm currently deep in the query trenches and trying to remain sane. It's true what the say. There's nothing quite like rejections to really make me want this even harder.

One question I've asked myself in the midst of all this is: Am I on the right path?

I thought I was but as the Rs keep rolling in and I'm slowly nearing the double digits, maybe I've been going about this all wrong. I'd like to believe that I am in control of my own destiny. Although I do believe in a higher power, I'd like to believe that he or she is behind me 100%. 

The thing is I'm scared. I'm scared that no matter how many novels I write I'm never going to get the response I want. So is continuing to put myself out there even worth it? I've had this nagging feeling that maybe what I want isn't what I need right now. And that scares the heck out of me because I've put so much time into my writing, agonizing over every single word, to not have this work out my way.

This is what I want. 

Yet, it might not be what the "universe" wants for me. 

I spoke with my CPs about it, and they definitely told me what I needed to hear. I'm still going to continue my search, but I think it might be time to take another route with his novel of mine. Still, who knows.

Do you guys truly believe that we create our own success? Or are some things just written in stone.

I have to admit after writing this I feel a lot better.

Shiny New Ideas

Aug 23, 2012
Just a few minutes ago I was attacked by a shiny new idea. Now I'm itching to get it down. I keep all of my new ideas in a document in Word titled NEW STORY IDEAS. I made sure to type a quick line about this SNI before it slipped away.  But since I'm especially candid about these things, I'll give you guys a hint. 

The hardest part is finishing the many projects I have going already before I start this new one. It's hard out there for a pantser. Usually, when I get a new idea I start typing right away. This time I know that if I do my other novels will never be completed. It's wise to let it "marinate" in my noggin for awhile. Gosh, even talking about it makes me want to start typing like a crazed woman. 

The questions of the day: Do you succumb to your shiny new ideas? Or do you save them for another day?

RTW: WIP Love List

Aug 22, 2012
Two posts in one day guys. I'm almost at my 100th post and 200th follower. I sense a giveaway coming soon. *wink wink* I just had to participate in today's Road Trip Wednesday, which you all know is a blog carnival hosted by YA Highway.

This week's topic is: What is your novel's Love List?

This week's topic is awesome, and it was inspired by this post by Stephanie Perkins over at Natalie Whipple's blog. My latest WIP is called South of Lonesome. I think I have a good grasp of what I love about it, even though I'm still only 5,000 words in. Here are the things I love most. I suspect it might get longer as I write.

  Blues music
  A harmonica
  A nowhere town in Louisiana
  A rundown bar
  Strict, religious parents
  Hair the color of whiskey
  Sneaking out
  Late night rendezvous
  Red lipstick
  A sheltered girl who wants to find herself
  A lost, lonely boy who knows what he wants
  Love stemmed from death

Thanks for reading you guys. I had fun writing this post.

Why I Write Contemporary YA and MG Fiction

Good morning! I guess I'm blogging almost every day this week. By the title of the post you can probably  guess what I'll be talking about today. Truthfully, it's a question that I hadn't asked myself up until a few days ago. I think I've figured it out for the most part.

These are five reasons why I write contemporary YA and MG fiction:

 When I began writing in 2009 I was feeling pretty down, and finally here came these characters who understood. Writing about ordinary boys and girls facing real life situations is kind of like therapy for me.

My high school years weren't my best years, and through my writing I get to re-imagine those years. They usually include boys and lots of kissing.

Real life teens are just as extraordinary and can do extraordinary things, too.

I think these are the stories I enjoyed most as a kid. Although I did love fantasy and science fiction as well, I enjoyed reading books about kids like me. Those girls and boys were my role models.

I write contemporary fiction simply because it suits my natural voice, and I enjoy beautiful writing in the most natural of settings.

As always, happy writing!

And for you guys who haven't heard, SCBWI just launched their On-The-Verge Emerging Voices Award for writers and illustrators from an ethnic and/or cultural background that is traditionally underrepresented in children's literature in America. If you're interested you can find out more here.

Delectable Things Around The Web

Aug 21, 2012
Hello guys. I hope you're having a wonderful Tuesday. So in an effort to not constantly talk about my books and still share a little bit about "me" in a way that isn't total self promotion, I'd like to share with you guys some super awesome things I've found around the web, from blogs to music and super cool freebies.

I remember someone told me that they really liked the background pattern I had up earlier. I'd forgotten where I found it, but recently stumbled onto the site again. My blog design isn't anything to brag about, but as you can probably tell I like to switch things up pretty often. If you're like me and have zero graphic design skills a new background pattern may be what you're looking for.

The first delectable thing are Animus Patterns.

I found out about this site from a blog I frequent called, which you guys should really check out if you're looking for a bit of blog inspiration. The owner of Animus offers a variety of patterns that are easy to install, super pretty, and free. For us writing folk she has very cool paper patterns, too. If you do decide to use one, be sure to read the terms of use. Sometimes I do skip over them. *blushes*

The second and third delectable things come to you from a very well loved movie and book called Pride and Prejudice. You guys when I listen to them I imagine my fingers flying over the keys of a piano. No, I don't play. They make me wish I did. They're called Mrs. Darcy and  Liz On Top Of The World, and they make me feel like I'm living and breathing every single scene from Pride and Prejudice.

Happy reading and writing! The picture of the donut was supplied by Pugly Pixel.

Be Inspired

Aug 20, 2012
There's a very fun bloghop going around called Be Inspired in which participants share a little bit about their novel. Gina over at Gina's Writer's Blog recently took part and  tagged anyone who'd like to join in. If you'd like you can click here to hop over to her blog.

1. What is the name of your book?
PRETTY-EYED GIRLS DON'T CRY, but you guys might remember it as NEVER A HAPPY ENDING.

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?
I think it was one of those books where I opened up a blank document in Word and started typing. I wish I had a fun story to tell, but I truthfully can't remember what inspired it.

3. In what genre would you classify your book?
Definitely YA contemporary.

4. If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a move rendition of your book, who would you choose?
Tough question! Lets see, I do really like Emma Stone and I wouldn't mind if she played Amelia. As for Tommy, I have no idea. I'll need someone tall, blond, young, and hot.

5. Give us a one sentence synopsis of your book.
After her father goes missing, 16 yr old Amelia Taylor struggles to get along with her sick and pitiless momma who blames her for her failing health and wrinkled skin, while she also deals with her feelings for two boys.

6. Is your book already published?
Nope, but I wish.

7. How long did it take you to write your book?
According to a post-it note I started writing it on 8/12/11 and finished it on 12/2/11. I'd put it away for a few weeks after I started and picked it up again during NaNo.

8. What other books within your genre would you compare it to? (Or, readers of which books would enjoy yours?)
Hmm, I don't know. I would probably say anything by Sara Zarr, although I haven't read any of her books yet. Any book that deals with family relationships and the heartache of being young and in love really.

9. Which authors inspired you to write this book?
An author who's always inspired me is Kirsten Hubbard. I love how lyrical her writing is. Any author of YA contemporary inspires me.

10. Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book.
There are boys and lots of kissing and groping. There's a field, a beat up Camaro, and a very hot and heavy moment. There's also somewhat of a mystery.

Thanks for reading. I'm supposed to tag five people, but if you'd like to play go ahead and tell us a little bit about your novel.

Middle Grade on My Mind & Excerpt

Aug 13, 2012
I hardly ever talk about middle grade novels on this blog, which sucks because the first novel I've ever completed was a middle grade novel. It's still near and dear to my heart. While browsing on Goodreads I came across two 2013 middle grade novels that I wouldn't mind reading. I can't even remember the last middle grade novel I read, but I would read these two. It helps that they both have stunning covers.

Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco
Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Lately, I've had the urge to go back to that middle novel of mine, which I've long since abandoned. In honor of it, here's a short teaser. 

Before Papa’s car comes rattling up to the Rivera's front door, I take one last good look at Sara’s backyard. It’s large but not as big as ours, and where the soil used to be brown and damp, it’s now golden and dried out, the kind of soil that would scratch at your knees and fingers if you attempted to plant anything in it. It isn’t growing soil.

“Mama says the earth is angry with us,” I say to Papa on the way home.

He shakes his head and sighs. “I don’t know why your mother tells you such nonsense.”

I turn my gaze back towards the window. This is a farming town, or was. A lot of the people who lived in the white and gray two-story houses packed up. Papa says it’s because this land has nothing to offer us anymore.

The car bounces along on parts of the road that’s uneven. Papa says that Mama’s baking apple pie, and I want to ask if they were fresh apples. But I know that’s a silly question. I can’t even remember the last time I had an apple plucked right off a tree.

There isn’t much to see out the window because there isn’t much to see in these parts of Louisiana except some dying plants and animals.

A coyote standing by the side of the road stares at me, and I stare at him as we drive pass. And I know what he’s thinking. This land is theirs now. Even our own backyards aren't safe anymore. 

As always, thanks for stopping by, reading, and commenting.

RTW: My Summer Soundtrack

Aug 8, 2012
Hello everyone! Today I'm participating in Road Trip Wednesday, which is a blog carnival hosted by YA Highway.

This week's topic is: What music has been your summer soundtrack?

A few days ago I created a playlist for my novel. I've had a lot of those songs on repeat lately. The ones below are my top two picks at the moment.

Thanks for stopping by and reading.

Comp Titles

Aug 6, 2012
I never gave much thought to comp tittles with my last novel, but the more queries I read it seems like a lot of other writers are using them. Because of this I went on the hunt for comp titles for my own novel. I even pulled out a big box of books I'd planned to donate to my local library. That's when I realized that while there may be the perfect comp title for my novel out there, I certainly haven't read it yet.

I have to agree with all of the other writers who've said comp titles are a great way to show agents that you know the current market. Although, it would definitely be silly to use a book you haven't read as a comp title, especially if it's a book said agent represents. That is a total no, no. It would be awkward if someone you want to impress were to ask you your opinion on a book you haven't even read.

I've put some thought into this, and asked myself what movies have I seen would my book be most comparable to in tone since I haven't read a book that is. And while I'm still not one hundred percent certain on this comparison if I had to use a comp title I would say NEVER A HAPPY ENDING would appeal most to fans who enjoyed the quiet, tender, and hopeful tone of A WALK TO REMEMBER.

What about you guys? What book our movie would your novel be most comparable to?

My First "Novel"

Aug 3, 2012
I want to share with you guys a short excerpt from my very first novel, or at least the very first novel I came close enough to completing. It's called The King's Maiden. I began writing it in August 2009 after I read Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. I had just gotten out of high school, and I was home for the summer trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. The King's Maiden was what I came up with. 

After rereading the opening scene I can definitely see how I've improved over the last few years, my grammar especially. I hope. I was inspired to post it after reading another writer's blog post about her first novel. I'm not going to lie. I did do a little editing, but it is essentially still the same. 


Thanks for reading and commenting. 

Book Titles

Aug 1, 2012
For the past few days I've been trying to come up with a new title for my novel Never a Happy Ending, and so far the only reasonable one I've come up with is Me, The Baker Boy, and I. What do you guys think? Yay, nay, and if you saw a book on a shelf with that title would you pick it up?

I've come to the conclusion that I'm not the best at coming up with titles for my novels.

And because I am the queen of procrastination I spent probably an hour today coming up with titles I'll never use. I thought it would be fun to share them here. Feel free to grab whatever you like, though I doubt they're spectacular in any way, shape, or form. A lot of them are from old poems or the Bible.

Lovely, Dark, and Deep
All the Night Tide
A Sea Without a Shore
Lone and Dead
By the Gray Woods
The Mist Upon a Hill
No Sorrow For the Lost
Among the Sons of Men
To Fall Asleep In Death
The Mild and Meek
Sing Among the Branches
Of Bones and of Marrow
In Flesh and Blood
Under the Roofs of Houses
Of Cruel Kings
Flesh of Men
Men of Untruth
Devoured Souls

I suspect some of these might already be novel titles. I didn't check. Do you guys have a hard time coming up with titles for your novels, or are they just a breeze?