Pray for Pilchuck

Just a quick update to say that my blog is still on a break while I scramble to make my deadline to Astraea Press.

On a different note, some of you may not know that I was born and raised in Marysville, Washington, and graduated from Marysville-Pilchuck High School. While I no longer live in Marysville, my parents and many close friends still do, and I visit several times a year.

Watching my friends’ timelines on Facebook that fateful day was absolutely heartbreaking, as many of them now have children at that school, and many couldn’t immediately locate their children.

Please take a moment and pray for everyone dealing with this tragic event, especially for those still fighting for their lives in the hospital.

Also, I ask that you also pray for parents who are struggling to explain the events to their younger children.


Linda Covella’s Path to Publication Story

Today fellow Astraea Press author, Linda Covella, is sharing her Path to Publication story!

Without further ado, here’s Linda…


Linda CLike most writers, I had a dream to be a published author.

I’ve always loved to write, but never thought of it as a career until later in life. I started out in college as an art major, and then decided I needed to actually make some money. After receiving different degrees, I came back to my original desire to do something creative with my life. I started doing freelance writing on the side on all sorts of topics, and after publishing a few articles in children’s magazines, I realized I’d found my niche, how I really wanted to unleash my creativity: writing for kids and teens.

I was bitten big time by the publishing bug as I started crafting picture books and novels. I had a dream to publish one of my children’s books, and I started pursuing it full force.

I took online writing classes, some specifically for children’s writing.

I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

And I (finally) joined a critique group. It took me a while to take that step. I was The Lone Writer, afraid to let others read my work, afraid of criticism. I met a woman in one of my online children’s writing classes who tried to convince me to form a critique group with her. I eventually realized I couldn’t achieve my dream on my own, and together we created the rules for the group and chose four other children’s writers.

This was probably one of the best things I’ve done for my writing. Together, we’ve learned the ropes of writing, submitting, and how the whole publishing process works. We’ve been together now for over 10 years, supporting each other not only with our writing, but through personal triumphs and tragedies.

For years, I wrote, received rejections, cried, revised. Wrote some more, received more rejections, wept, and revised. I could go on, but you get the idea. (The crying jags stopped after the, oh, 50th rejection.)

But I didn’t give up, and one day, “the call” came. One of my novels was going to be published. I bought Negotiating a Book Contract by Mark L. Levine (an excellent book, by the way). I negotiated by myself and got most of my requests written into the contract. The publisher and I started discussing covers, etc.

Then, bam, it was all snatched away from me when the publisher went out of business.

It was shocking, devastating, and I sank into a hole of depression. But I climbed back out. I didn’t give up. I started submitting to agents and publishers—again.

Now my dream has really and truly come true. Not only once, but twice. Two of my novels were published one week apart this July 2014: Yakimali’s Gift published by Astraea Press and The Castle Blues Quake published by Beau Coup Publishing.

It can be a tough path to publication. You need a thick skin. You need to face the rejections and learn from them. You need support from other writers and professionals in the field. I learned all this on my own road to publication.

I wish all the best to other authors, and to aspiring writers, my little piece of advice is:

Don’t Go It Alone and Don’t Ever Ever Give Up!

How is your own path to publication going?

Yakimali GiftYakimali’s Gift

In 1775 Mexico, New Spain, 15-year-old Fernanda Marquina, of Spanish and Pima Indian ancestry, can’t seem to fit into the limited female roles of her culture. Fernanda grabs any opportunity to ride the horses she loves, dreaming of adventure in faraway lands. But when a tragic accident presents her with the adventure she longed for, it’s at a greater price than she could ever have imagined. With her family, Fernanda joins Juan Bautista de Anza’s historic colonization expedition to California.

On the four-month journey, Fernanda makes friends with Feliciana, the young widow Fernanda entrust with her deepest thoughts; Gloria, who becomes the sister Fernanda always wished for; and Gloria’s seductive brother Miguel, gentle one moment, angry the next and, like Fernanda, a mestizo—half Indian and half Spanish. As Fernanda penetrates Miguel’s layers of hidden feelings, she’s torn between him and Nicolas, the handsome soldier pursuing her.

But propelling Fernanda along the journey is her search for Mama’s Pima Indian past, a past Mama refused to talk about, a past with secrets that Fernanda is determined to learn. The truths she discovers will change the way she sees her ancestry, her family, and herself. See the trailer, read an excerpt and historical information

Yakimali’s Gift is available at Amazon, Barnes & NobleSmashwords, iTunes, and Kobo.


Linda Covella’s varied job experience and education (associate degrees in art, business and mechanical drafting & design, a BS degree in Manufacturing Management) have led her down many paths and enriched her life experiences. But one thing she never strayed from is her love of writing.

A writer for over 30 years, her first official publication was a restaurant review column in a local newspaper, and as a freelance writer, she continued to publish numerous articles in a variety of publications. But when she published articles for children’s magazines (“Games and Toys in Ancient Rome” and “Traveling the Tokaido in 17th Century Japan,” in Learning Through History magazine, and “Barry’s Very Grown Up Day” in Zootles magazine), she realized she’d found her niche: writing for children. She wants to share with kids and teens her love of books:  the worlds they open, the things they teach, the feelings they express.

Yakimali’s Gift, a historical novel for young adults published by Astraea Press, and middle grade paranormal The Castle Blues Quake published by Beau Coup Publishing are her first novels.

She’s a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).


Blogging Break

I’m on a deadline (wow do I REALLY appreciate being able to write that!) so I’m going to put the blog on a brief hiatus until mid-November so I can dive into the writing cave without distractions.

Here’s a picture that perfectly describes my twins’ thoughts on the matter…

Editing through a kid's eyes


See you in a few weeks. FYI: I’ll likely have contests and giveaways when I return, so watch for me!

My Critique Partner, Margo Kelly, Shares her Path To Publication Story

I fully admit I’m bawling as I type this. Why? Because I’m so incredibly happy!!!

Margo and I met way back in mid-2010, through an online critique partner meet up board that I cannot recall the name of. I’d posted a “I desperately need a critique partner” post, she replied, and the rest is history.

I’ve been with her during everything she describes in her Path to Publication story below, and you can find her name on the list of the people I thank in the acknowledgements section of Along the Way Home.

She’s a fantastic writer, a brilliant critique partner, and I’m thrilled to see her dream of publication finally come true!

Without further ado, I’m proud to present my critique partner, Margo Kelly…


margo_kelly_photoIn January, 2009, I decided I wanted to change careers and pursue a long forgotten dream of becoming a published author. Sound familiar? I purchased Janet Evanovich’s HOW I WRITE and Writer’s Digest’s GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS, and I began my research into the industry.

Six months later, I finished my first manuscript, MANIFESTED, and I started sending out query letters. The rejections flooded in. I had tough skin. I knew rejections were part of the process, but one of the form letters pushed me over the edge. I struck a match and sent the rejection up in flames. (Yes, that was back in the days of snail mail.) Then I took a deep breath and went back to querying.

I also started writing my next manuscript. I read more books on the craft of writing, subscribed to magazines and journals that would help me better my skills, wrote flash fiction to tighten my story telling, and connected with two great critique partners that I met through online communities.

A year later, in August, 2010, I had finished my second manuscript, THE EDUCATION OF THIA, and began to send out query letters. The requests for partials and fulls came in right away! I was so excited! But then rejections followed. I paid attention to the agents’ feedback, because I wanted to improve the story and make it saleable, but it was tricky, because while one said, “The main character is too naive” another said, “The main character sounds too adult.” I revised none-the-less.

With a bright and shiny polished version of the story, I headed off to my first writer’s conference. I met up with my critique partner, Melissa, and we had an absolute blast. Plus, two agents at the conference requested my full manuscript, and I just knew one of these fabulous agents was going to offer me a contract. Yes-sir-ee!! I went home too excited to work on any writing. I was waiting to hear from the agents.

More than a month later, I sent very polite follow-up emails to the two agents from the conference. Both responded, explaining how busy they were (of course, I understood, I wanted them to take care of their current clients first, that made sense). But I was demoralized. I couldn’t seem to start a new manuscript. So I pulled out MANIFESTED and dusted it off. I figured I could work on rewriting it and improving it until I found my writing mojo again.

Three months later, one of the conference agents emailed to tell me she’d decided to shelve my manuscript, unread. She was no longer looking for new clients. By the summer of 2011, the second conference agent emailed and apologized for the delay in reading my manuscript. She said the writing was great, but it didn’t excite her enough to offer me representation.

My tough skin had been broken, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue down this publishing path. Then I was diagnosed with a rare 12mm lesion in the middle of my brain. After a lot of time and money, the specialists decided there was nothing they could do about it. I had to reevaluate my life, my priorities, and my goals. What if my time was limited here on earth? How would I want to spend it? Through self-evaluation, I realized writing was still important to me, and as a result I refocused my efforts with great fervor.

On November 11, 2011, I sent out eleven queries for BUT HE LOVES ME (formerly known as The Education of Thia). A dream agent from my dream agency requested a partial the same day (it was a Friday). Monday, she requested the full. Wednesday, she requested a phone call. Thursday, we discussed ideas for revisions. I loved all of her suggestions, and my mojo exploded! She said if I could accomplish these revisions, she’d offer me formal representation. I wanted it! I got to work, and I was on fire!  I sent her the revised manuscript about a week and a half later (I know, it sounds like I rushed it, but I’m telling you: I was ON FIRE!!). She read it right away and requested more revisions. I got right back to work. I was still excited about the process, and I was thrilled to think that someone had caught the “vision” of my story. While I was busy working on more revisions, she surprised me and mailed me a contract! YES! Not to mention, in the time I was working with her on revisions, other agents had requested partials and fulls. Out of respect, I contacted them to let them know I’d received an offer. One of the agents told me I’d be nuts to not accept the offer from this great agency.

On December 12, 2011, I signed with Brianne Johnson of Writers House. I’ve been smiling ever since, because I have the best agent from the best agency.

From there, we finalized revisions and made another title change before sending the manuscript out on submission. It took a while to sell, partly because the main character’s age put the story on the fence between middle-grade and young adult. However, Jacquelyn Mitchard of Merit Press (an imprint of F+W Media) saw the “merit” in the story and made an offer. With another title change and more revisions, the book, WHO R U REALLY?, was finally published on September 18, 2014.

Now I’m polishing my next manuscript, and I’ve already started writing another. The publishing process certainly requires persistence and patience, but the future is so exciting.


Adobe Photoshop PDFWho R U Really?

When Thea discovers a new role-playing game online, she breaks her parents’ rules to play. And in the world of the game, Thea falls for an older boy named Kit whose smarts and savvy can’t defeat his near-suicidal despair. Soon, he’s texting her, asking her to meet him, and talking in vague ways about how they can be together forever. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit’s allure, and hurtles toward the very fate her parents feared most. Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea’s life spins out of control.

“Kelly has painted a realistic picture of how a smart girl can get caught up in something dangerous online. … Guaranteed to give readers goosebumps.” – School Library Journal.  (

“Thea’s mistakes, while frustrating to encounter, are frighteningly plausible, and the relationships among characters are well–fleshed out, especially between mother and daughter. Kelly’s first novel is a suspenseful page-turner.” — Kirkus Reviews (

Who R U Really? is available in hardcover and e-book versions by Merit Press (F+W Media).

Buy online:


Barnes & Noble

Merit Press

Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel. Margo welcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

Follow her online:



Twitter: @MargoWKelly


Scheduled Appearances:

September 26, 2014 – 5pm – Book Signing at Hastings in Meridian, Idaho

September 27, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Hastings on Overland in Boise, Idaho

October 3, 2014 – 7pm – Book Launch Party at Hyde Park Books in Boise, Idaho

October 11, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Barnes & Noble in Boise, Idaho



Young Entrepreneurs, School Fundraising Fiascos, & Parental PTSD


A worthwhile read!

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:

The Dork Side

Image courtesy of The Dork Side

I was a BORN entrepreneur, and blessedly was a child of the 70s and 80s. I always had a business from the time I was four. My first venture? Selling my “art.” I got a Spirograph for Christmas and two types of paper, regular and legal. I’d spend hours crafting my original designs and then set out door-to-door (after cartoons and Sesame Street ended). Legal-size art was .15, regular was .5. Or you could buy all I’d made and I’d promise to go away for $1.

You KNOW you had one...

You KNOW you had one…

Once little brother came along, this increased my workforce. We washed cars, weeded gardens, trimmed hedges, picked up dog poop and at the end of the day, I’d split all we’d made 50/50. Our most profitable venture involved hoeing up crabgrass for $5 a bag. There is a LOT of crabgrass in SW…

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