Along the Way Home Blog Tour!

I’m touring the blog-o-sphere talking about the release of Along the Way Home!

Here’s a list of today’s blogs, and I’ll add to the list as the days go by. The following people were kind enough to share their blog and their readers with me, so I’d love for you to not only check out my post, but also to browse around their blogs too because they all offer a wealth of knowledge about writing and publishing.

UPDATED: Blogs I’m hosting on June 19-20th

Moriah Densley: Here I talk about the importance of a “You Don’t Suck” file. Though, thanks to one comment I’m considering changing the name of the file :D.

Theresa Hupp: She writes about the Oregon Trail too, and I had a great time on her blog chatting about the inspiration behind my book, and hardest thing about being a writer. We don’t agree on the Oxford comma, but I still had a great time.

Margo Kelly: She’s one of my critique partners (yay!) and here I’m talking about how failure wasn’t an option when it came to Along the Way Home.

Doreen McGettigan: I talk about why I write at night, long after my twins and our puppy are asleep.

Tori Mcrae: We are members of the same critique group, the Ridge Writers. On this post I chat about writing friendships

UPDATED: Blogs I’m hosting on June 13th

Ink in the Book: On Talynn Lynn’s blog I’m talking about how long it took me to get Along the Way Home over the publishing finish line, and also about the joys and defeats I encountered. (CONTEST!)

Kelly Martin: Rejection is part of every writer’s journey. Learn about how one rejection in particular finally led to me signing with Astraea Press in my post, “How A Stinging Rejection Led to a Book Contract”.

Blogs I’m hosting on June 12th

Fois in the City: On Florence Fois’ blog I’m talking about how we started our blogs at roughly the same time, and were often each other’s only visitor/commenter. And above all, how important her friendship is to me. And, she’s giving a hint at her own publishing news in the works. (CONTEST!)

PK Hrezo: On Pk’s blog she shares some very lovely thoughts about how important friendships are for writers. Here’s a particularly poignant line…

No one else understands this path, and attempting to explain wouldn’t demonstrate the magnitude. Sometimes we’re up. Other times we’re down. And only our fellow writers truly understand this roller coaster of emotion–the peak of hopes, and the valleys of despair.

Artemis Grey:  She’s one of my critique partners! We met in 2009 when I guest hosted over at Pimp My Novel, and our friendship developed over the years into a critique partnership. She was a wealth of information about horses, Virginia, and how to bury a dead body (got your attention there, didn’t I?!). Plus, there’s a picture on this post that you have to see to believe!

Linda Joyce: I’m sharing fun details about my favorite candy, favorite holiday, favorite car, and what I consider to be my ultimate dream date. I think my answers will surprise you!

Wendy Knight: I share the “inspiring moment” when I got the idea for Along the Way Home. It was on a cross-country drive in a compact car in the middle of winter. Here’s a fun line…

We’re driving my 1992 Hyundai Excel (compact car) and the backseat and hatchback are loaded to the windows with all my worldly possessions. As an extra bonus, my husband is 6 feet 4 inches tall. Plus it’s February, and since the middle of winter in the Midwest is brutally cold we’re sporting layers of long underwear, flannel shirts, and puffy coats.

Heather Gray: I’m sharing how my inability to describe things properly leads me to buy things off Craigslist so I can hold/see/feel them… so I can then in turn write about them. I also am sharing two short excerpts!

Blogs I’m hosting on June 9th to June 11th

Rose Gordon: In this post you’ll learn how talking too much in 9th Grade English led to an interesting discovery.

Rachel Van Dyken: How a Road Trip in a Crowded Hyundai Inspired My First Novel. (CONTEST!)

Angie Eads is featuring an excerpt where Jake (the rugged trail guide) and Kate (the prim society woman) first meet and immediately clash over what’s important enough to bring along. Hint, Kate wants china and dresses, Jake wants tools and spare wagon parts.

There’s more blog stops coming in the next few days, and I’ll post them as they go live. I hope you enjoy learning more about me through these posts!

“Best First” Contest Winners!!

The “Best First” Contest winners have been chosen!

First, let’s give a standing ovation to the judge, author Reid Lance Rosenthal. For one, he had to pick only a few winners out of a whopping THIRTY-FOUR entries.  And second, he managed to do so while fighting to save his ranch from the massive Arapaho fire.

Well done, Reid. Well done.

Here’s the criteria he used to determine his choices…

Did the sentence invoke curiosity?

Did the sentence create a palpable visual image?

Did the sentence conjure suspense?

Did the sentence make me want to read more?

Was the sentence properly written and constructed?

First, let’s give a round of applause to the three Honorable mentions. (No particular order)

Artemis Grey       Evernow         YA Dystopian

Life is so much easier without underwear.

 Talynn Lynn       Found: Dead or Alive                   YA Paranormal Suspense

My grave knocked on the door last night, but I refused to answer.

 Sarah Fiete          Brink of Life                      YA Science Fiction

Leroy Splinter was eight years old the first time he was arrested.

*******************************************************************

And now, here’s the Second Runner-Up. This winner gets book one of Reid’s Threads West, An American Saga, series…Threads West.  

Talynn Lynn        Hope’s Redemption           Historical Fiction

Alura stood with Molly, Natalie, and Mary in the dwindling line of the captives.

********************************************************************

And now, the First Runner-Up, recipient of a package of writing goodies AND books one and two of Reid’s Threads West, An American Saga, series…Threads West and Maps of Fate.

Rick Lippincott           The Sicilian Connection          Mystery/Detective

The small 12 footer was tossed about the waves like a yellow rubber duck in a tub full of sumo wrestlers.

*******************************************************************

And now, the Grand Prize Winner. This person will receive a critique of the first page of their novel from Reid, AND books one and two of Reid’s Threads West, An American Saga, series…Threads West and Maps of Fate.

 Talynn Lynn              Only One Time      YA Paranormal Suspense

A man’s hand reached out from the smoky plated glass mirror and caressed River on the cheek.

******************************************************************

Winners, please contact me via email with your mailing address so I can get your prizes out to you right away.

Thanks to everyone for participating, and be sure to check back soon for details about my next fun contest, and to meet the author judge!

Blog Award

My blog has been given a Versatile Blogger Award…twice.

The first blogger awarded me this well over a month ago, and because I have no organization skills and procrastinated for far too long sadly I have lost their blog address and contact info. So, if it was you, PLEASE let me know and I’ll post your name and a link to your blog ASAP.

The second blogger who gave me this award is Jay Elle Tee, or JLT, or otherwise known as Jay. Confused? Click HERE for the full lowdown on the name :) and who Jay is, and the fantastic blog he writes called Write Now.

The basics of the award are as follows…I have to tell you seven things about myself. Here goes!

1. I can’t stand salt and pepper shakers that are shaped like ANYTHING other than salt and pepper shakers. Seriously, I’m not looking to hoist a cutesy ceramic cat or chicken into the air, turn it upside down and wait for salt/pepper to fall out. Yes, it’s a pet peeve, but it’s all mine :)

2. I’ve donated my hair to Locks of Love three times, and one of the times I was featured on the local news for my donations. Recently, my daughter donated for the first time and she proudly displays the certificate on our fridge.

3. I am attending Willamette Writers Conference in Portland, Oregon this August. I could only afford to attend for one day, but I still plan on making the most of it.

4. I’m holding the 2nd annual “Worst First” contest next month, and yet again I found a published author silly enough to be involved in the nonsense I come up with to judge the contest. I’ll let you know more details soon, but for now just know that I’m looking at a STACK of prizes the author’s publisher mailed out to me to giveaway.

5. I am a long time watcher of the television show, Castle. So much so that I have the show’s poster on the back of the bedroom door. Yeah, cuz I’m all high school like that :)

6. I broke the blade on our lawn mower by running it over the metal lid that covers the water access turn on for the house. To this day, I’ve never told my husband the entire story, because as I tell him, “You don’t want to know why I did something so stupid.”

7. Because of this day, not only do I not get mad when my son sticks his tongue out at me, I highly encourage him to do so.

Here’s some more specifics about the Versatile Blogger award. If you are nominated you need to do the following…

  •  Thank the person who gave you this award.
  •  Include a link to their blog.
  •  Next, select blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  •  Nominate those bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

So, I nominate the following blogs for this award…

1. Diane Lynn Tibert

2. Florence Fois

3. Artemis Grey

4. Tori Mcrae

5. PDP (I won’t put up a link here, but he knows who he is :))

Blog Award, Cool List, and What Others REALLY Think of Your Blog

I’ve received an award from Kate, who runs a seriously cool blog called Words and Deeds–A Writing Life.

She gave me a Versatile Blogger award! How cool is that?

But, there’s a catch to getting this award.

*shoves acceptance speech up shirt sleeve and looks embarrassed for being all greedy with the award before I earned it*

I have to tell you seven random things about me first…

And, here’s more rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you 
  2.  Share 7 random things about you 
  3.  Share the love with your favorite bloggers 
  4.  Put up the Versatile Blogger Award picture on your blog

So, without further ado, here are seven random things about me!

1. Fifteen years ago my mom and I survived a car accident. A “head-on collision while going seventy-five miles an hour on the freeway” kind of car accident. It was 12:30 at night and the other driver fell asleep, crossed the freeway median, and plowed right into us. My mom is an amazingly tough lady…she had to have bone taken from her hip and put into her neck to fuse two of her neck bones together. Left a brutal scar, but the point is, she made it through.  The takeaway of this story…wear your seatbelt!

2. My high school sport…swimming. I started swimming competitively when I was 9, went to Junior Olympics when I was 13, and lettered my freshman, sophomore, and junior year. (I had to quit my senior year, but that’s another story)

3. I am a mother to twins who were born four weeks premature. They were the “poster children” for the local chapter of our hometown’s March of Dimes organization when they were three months old.

4. My favorite flower is a daisy.

5. My computer chair has a seriously annoying squeak that I cannot fix. Or, maybe I’ve just learned to love the noise because I don’t try to fix it anymore.

6. My husband and I waited to, well…you know, until we were married. Yep, true story!

7. I’m a chronic abuser of exclamation points, ellipsis, and smiley faces. They’re all over my blog…and my emails. I can’t help myself :) :).

And, now for seven bloggers I want to pass this award on to…

1. Florence Fois

2. Artemis Grey

3. Margo Kelly

4. PK Hrezo

5. Winona Cross

6. All the Wordbitches (Please, tell me you know their blog. Visit!)

7. Teralyn Pilgrim

And, if you’re reading this blog I’m betting you’re a writer, and if you’re a writer, you need to know this…

25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing…Right F*&king Now.

Click on it, learn it, live it.

And finally, since brutal honesty seems to be the theme of today’s post…have you ever wondered what readers think of your blog? No, what they REALLY think of your blog?

Click HERE to find out.

Guest Host Day!

Hi everyone!  I’m A. Grey.  ‘A’ is for Artemis, but it seemed a bit
high drama so I shortened it.  The lovely Christi asked if I would
guest host on her blog for a day so here I am! *wiggles with
excitement at being asked to quest host*  I met Christi when she guest
hosted over at Pimp My Novel last year
and we’ve been lurking on each
others’ blogs ever since.

Alright, nitty-gritty details… I write YA, everything from fantasy
to contemporary, although I’ve got a serious soft spot for dystopian.
I’ve only had two short stories published and I haven’t snagged an
agent yet, but oh what fun I’ve had so far on this strange and winding
road to becoming what I call a ‘commercially published’ author!  Maybe
I can make you smile with some of the things I’ve experienced, but
mostly I hope you’ll go away from here and look for a pen or computer
and start pounding out a book that one day someone will squee over in
a bookstore :)

So to begin…

I think that I started out backwards.  Most writers set out right
from the start with the goal of getting published.  For the first five
years that I obsessively wrote, I insisted to everyone who mentioned
publication that I never wanted to be published.  Looking back, I
think this was because I understood – without really understanding
what it was that I understood – that in order to get published, you
have to give your stories away, on some level.      

I was a big oral storyteller when I was a kid.  We used to spend
hours sitting around the campfire telling ghost stories.  Many of them
were made up on the spot and involved horses that had passed away or
long-dead soldiers who had purportedly stayed in the house (once a
Revolution era tavern) where our riding instructor lived.  But the
stories I wrote down were always my own, secret havens to which I
could return to for escape.  It took me a long time to grow into
wanting to share those stories, to decide that I was willing to cast
them out into the wilderness that is ‘public domain’ where anyone can
read them.

So I wrote, uh, a herd of high fantasy books… I wrote one, then a
second, third, fourth, and I started a fifth.  I knew where the story
was going, I knew the characters (all, like, nine of them, each with
their own POV) and I knew the world.  Anything else?  Well, who needs
to know anything else?  Yeah, face/palm.  And hell yes I queried that
first book!  Like three dozen times.  And, big surprise, the suckage
was rejected by all.  But ‘suckage’ doesn’t mean ‘trash’.  I still
have all those books.  I’ve heavily revised the first two, turning the
series YA (which it already was, it just didn’t know it yet)
consolidating the POV to mostly one character (it was her story
anyhow) and basically just utilizing everything I’ve learned since I
started them, to try and better them.

Meanwhile, I began and worked on numerous other projects, got two
short stories written and published, entered a few contests, and
didn’t win.  But I did get some feedback from judges, and I eagerly
gobbled up what they had to say.

When I look back now at those first books, I belly laugh at my own
blissful ignorance.  But I do it in the way that an adult wolf might
watch a pup yanking on the leg of a moose carcass.  The pup doesn’t
know that the moose – in life – could crush it with one kick, but the
pup also doesn’t know that one day, with the help of it’s pack mates,
it will be able to bring down such a creature.  The pup only knows
that the moose leg tastes good!  That’s the way I look at writers who
write for love of writing.  They just know that it’s what they want.
Everything else, they figure out as they go.  We grow and develop and
eventually find a place in our own pack of agents, editors, publishers
and fans, and then together we take down the moose that is the
publishing industry!  Um, yeah, I’m an outdoorsy type, so my analogies
are too…

 So, onward!  I wrote a book.  Yeah, another one.  I guess, really, it
wrote me.  I was just doing my high fantasy thing and *WHACK!*
Cheez-it!  Well, in my case, Book!  This girl showed up in my head and
she was from my world, but life as I knew it no longer existed.  She
was ill-tempered, golden-hearted, fiercely independent, and she
preferred life without underwear. Seriously there are innuendos of the
first line in there.  I had to tell her story.  Thusly, my dystopian
YA, EVERNOW, was born.  I wrote Evernow in about a month, then spent a month revising it and struggled with writing queries for a week or two.

Finally, I started sending them out.  I think I sent the first two
out in November of 2009.  One was rejected immediately.  The other
resulted in a request for the full ms.  *KILL ME NOW THEY REQUESTED
THE FULL!* Not only that, it was a ‘big’ agent.  Oh, I thought I’d
die.  We exchanged several emails, and while in the end he declined to
rep me, he praised my writing, and my voice (that elusive ‘voice’) and
his choice to decline was actually pretty cool.  See, he had a client
working on something similar, and he felt torn, even drawn to me over
them, so he chose them.  Which somehow made me love him despite the
rejection.

I queried again.  And again.  And some more.  Some responses were
straight form rejections, others requests, then rejections.  The more
I queried, the more I tweaked Evernow, and revised it.  The rejections
started to have more compliments in them.  And I started to hate the
word ‘but’.

It’s a funny thing.  When we start out, we respond to form rejections
with hair-rending wails of “WHY?  I swear I’ll fix it if you just tell
me what to fix!”

Then you move on to the less irritating ‘Just not for me’ rejections
and you get hopeful.  “Ok, so whatever.  Someone out there WILL think
it’s just for them!”

And finally you get to the ‘Your writing is
strong/commercial/moving/engaging/polished/insertbutterytermhere, BUT’

It doesn’t really matter what comes after the ‘but’.  At least not for
the first few hours after you read the rejection.  I even rejected
myself once, before realizing that I was being asked for a full,
because the agent had used the word ‘but’ and I zoned out as soon as I
got to that word.  My brother still teases me over that.

While all this drama was going on, I kept writing.  I wrote a
contemporary YA, from a guy’s point of view, and plotted other books.
I entered a few contests, and didn’t win anything.  I went to the
Sirens Conference, twice, and met a squeeable number of other writers
and authors and had a ridiculous amount of fun with them.  I wrote,
and I lived, I lived and I wrote.  And I kept learning.

I also kept getting rejected, but it started to not matter quite as
much.  It was as if I’d rediscovered that me who had insisted they
would never be published.  I reaffirmed that I didn’t need to be
published, I wanted to be published, which is a very important
distinction.  The primary reason I want to get published, is because I
want my stories to positively affect young people the way I was
positively affected by the books I read – hence my choice to write YA.

After that, I’d love to make just enough money to let me write at
least most of the time, if not all the time.  But if I live to be a
hundred and never hit the ‘big time’, I’ll die happy, so long as I
write until my fingers can’t hold a pen any longer.  And should it
come to that, I don’t want people to remember me as ‘that poor woman
who wrote her whole life and never got published’ I want them to
remember me as ‘that woman who spent her whole life writing and loved
every minute of it’.

Right now I’m in the middle of a companion novel to Evernow, set many
years after the original story, but with cameos by a few of Evernow’s
characters.  I’ve got a few queries out (I still dance around with
‘send regret’ each time one goes out, fearing that I’ll find a mistake
after the fact) and I’m working to revise the contemporary YA so I can
query it.  I’ve rewritten the entire ending of Evernow (gotta love
those characters who show up late and then change everything) and the
story is stronger than it’s ever been.  It might not be ‘the one’ that
lands me an agent, but it’ll always be a huge one as far as my
development goes.

That’s the thing with writers.  We never quite ever grow up, never
quite ever get to where we’re going, and we don’t really want to,
because that’s what writing is all about.  A journey, an infinite
roadway that winds and dips, clings to cliff edges and breaches
mountaintops so high you can scrape your knuckles on the stars, and we
just keep building the road as we go, dragging our readers along with
us for the ride.

Now, no matter where you are in your writing journey, go find a pen,
some paper, someone’s arm, or a computer (if you must go techno on me) and write some more people!  Write write write! 

And never ever give up!

And then hit me up at my blog Grey Places http://greyplaces.blogspot.com

or on Facebook username Artemis Grey
and tell me how you’re doing!