It might be early to be wrapping up the summer, but it's passing quicker than I'd like and with a trip to Disneyland coming up, I figured better now than never. Summer 2017 has been a blend of sweet and sad. We said goodbye to one house and hello to another.
We were very sad to say goodbye to our sweet little dog, Lola shortly after we moved in.
Which left our other little pup (and us) feeling pretty down. So very soon, next week actually, we'll be bringing this tiny bundle of fur home.
We've spent our time reading, baking, writing, unpacking, organizing, painting, lazying around and settling in.
Another bittersweet moment was the excitement of my final book in the Kendrick Place Series releasing. I do have another series coming out with Entangled: the For You series, which I'm excited about.
And, in the completely unexpected category, I went up in a hot air balloon!
So what now? Well, I have some very, very exciting news to share that I can't say anything about just yet. But when school starts up, I hope I can share some news about something a little different and a lot fun.
I hope the rest of your summer is great. Anyone have any plans to go anywhere? Any must-reads on your list before summer is gone? My next few reads are below :)
Welcome to Jennifer Shirk!
My first Entangled Bliss publication was set to come out December 5th, 2016. My editor suggested I read one of her other authors as a way to get a better grasp on a specific trope. This was my introduction to Jennifer Shirk. Not only is she a great author-- I really enjoyed Wrong Brother, Right Match, but when I reached out on another trope issue....she was so gracious and helpful. I'll definitely be thanking her for her great advice and guidance on the first book in my new series. And I'll remember her telling me (when I wondered how she was SO good at this), it's easier with someone else's book. Here are Jennifer's answers to this week's Who's Who Wednesday. You can connect with her by clicking on the links below. Thanks for joining me on my blog Jennifer.
Who's Who Wednesday with Jennifer Shirk
What you write.
For those of you who don't know me, I write sweet (and sometimes even funny) romances for Montlake Romance and Entangled Publishing.
Who are your influences?
Wow… so many to name. The first and queen of my influence would be Susan Elizabeth Phillips. But I also love Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella, and Jill Mansell.
Favorite writing snack and beverage.
A lungo espresso (basically an espresso with more water in it) and either a little piece of dark chocolate or my healthy banana oatmeal cookies to go with it.
Hardest thing about writing?
The actual writing. LOL I should say just getting the first draft down. That's the hardest part for me. But once it's down on paper, the editing and making it all pretty and legible is my favorite part!
What you're working on now.
I'm working on the first book of a new 3 book series for the Entangled Bliss line. This is the premise: In a weakened moment, a depressed woman jilted by her longtime boyfriend has a one night stand with a wedding guest at a friend's wedding only to discover he's the man who recently bought her family's suffering business—and now happens to be her new boss.
Thanks so much for having me!
Welcome to my first installment of Who's Who Wednesday. Twice a month, I'll introduce you to some of the great people I've met through writing. I'll ask the same five questions and let you know how we're connected. Connections are an essential part of staying strong on the path to publishing. Having people who understand what you're going through and have been through it themselves is a huge support when you're feeling unsure, need a boost, or want to share something awesome. I'm very lucky to have so many great writing friends and I hope that I'm able to give back even a portion of the support others have given to me.
This week's Who's Who is Lindsey Duga. Lindsey is not only a fellow agency mate (Literary Counsel), but also a fellow Entangled Publishing House author. I'm currently reading one of Lindsey's manuscripts right now and I can tell you, she has a wicked way with words. Her world building actually pulls you right inside of the story. Lindsey was kind enough to take part in the release party I had for More than Friends and through that, I learned that she is also a very talented artist! Check out the drawing she did for my main character, Gabby, from More than Friends. You can learn more about Lindsey through the interview below and by visiting her at her website. Thanks for being my first, Lindsey ;)
Who's Who with Lindsey Duga
What you write:
I enjoy writing both Young Adult and Middle Grade, and with the exception of strictly contemporary, I write all subgenres. I’ve written fantasy, urban fantasy, and science fiction. I’m even hoping to explore historical fiction in both YA and MG in the future.
What I really love doing recently is crossing genres. For instance, I have a middle grade book that is technically sci-fi, but could just as easily be categorized as a mystery or a sports book since the world, plot, and characters have aspects of all three.
I’ve never tried to write for adults because, frankly, the thought terrifies me. Apart from the occasional thriller and high-fantasy, I don’t read many adult novels, but I read TONS of young adult and middle grade books. And of course, what I read influences what I write and how I write it.
So. Many. Things. Being a huge NERD, I derive almost all my stories from a random mash-up of books, cartoons, TV series, movies, video games, and comics.
I could literally go on and on about what show has given me an idea for what story, but instead I’ll try and be concise and just list them out:
Favorite writing snack and beverage:
I don’t usually eat when I’m writing unless it’s candy or something I can easily pop in my mouth and forget about. All of my favorite snacks make my fingers messy—not great for typing on a keyboard.
Almost all my writing sessions start with a cup of tea. Lots and lots of tea. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I make sure at least half the tea in my cabinet has caffeine. Some of my favorite tea blends are: African Autumn, Jade Citrus Mint, Youthberry & Indonesian Gold, Ginger Lemon Mint, Turkish Apple, and Japanese Cherry.
My all time favorite drink while writing is a Starbuck’s Green Tea Frappuccino made with soy milk. I get one every Sunday at Barnes and Nobles when I’m writing or editing. Because they’re $5, I only allow myself one a week. I look forward to it as much as I do writing—it’s like my special treat for making it through the week.
Hardest thing about writing:
There are a lot of things about writing that are difficult, like developmental edits where you worry about one change affecting almost everything else in the book, or pushing through the block you’re having just so you can finally finish that first draft. But I’d say the hardest thing is that writing is, by nature, a solitary activity.
Don’t get me wrong, I love putting in my earphones and banging away at my keyboard with zero human interaction for like three hours…if I’m on a roll. But if I’m not? Well, it helps to overcome that writer’s block, or talk about your edits, or your book cover, or your marketing plan, with someone who understands where you’re coming from. It’s hard to want to go on and on about your book when you might not have anyone available to listen or help you. Which, of course, is why critique partners and beta readers are so critical. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without them. If only just so I can randomly text them and say, “I’m obsessing over my new character. He needs a name. HALP.” And they’re there with a list of names we can go through together. After all, it’s FUN to talk about your story, and it’s hard when there’s no one there to help.
What you’re working on now:
Typically I have two projects that I work on at a time: one that I’m editing and one that I’m drafting.
The one I’m editing is another middle grade book and that crosses genres. It’s about a brother and sister team who are phantoms sent from the Netherworld to steal artwork in post-Victorian London. So it’s a little bit historical, fantasy, paranormal, with a touch of horror.
I’m drafting a YA paranormal romance dealing with nature spirits set in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. I’m only a quarter of the way through, and have a very rough outline, so by the time my draft is done, it could be a completely different book.
…And separate of these independent projects I’m also working with my editor, Lydia Sharp, on my debut novel that’s coming out Summer 2018 with Entangled Teen. My book is a YA Fantasy in which a princess, trained to use her kiss as only a magic-enhancing weapon, must fight evil alongside a prince who is determined to prove that love isn’t just a fairytale.
If you’re interested how this book came to publication, you can check out my blog post about it here.
Also, follow me on twitter and instagram!
Thanks for having me, Jody!
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Lindsey. I look forward to reading your debut from Entangled.
Three days. How did this year fly by and what's changed? In January of this year, I had three books scheduled to come out. Jaded Love with my co-writer, Kara Leigh Miller. Our second and last book for Aniah Press. Falling for Home from Penner Publishing, my first with them and my first chance to hold a book I'd written all on my own in my hands. Damaged came out next...a story I wasn't sure I'd get to share, but am so glad I did.
Since those releases, I signed a three book deal for the Kendrick Place Series with Entangled. I've gotten to work with my wonderful editors, Stacy and Alexa, on two of those books now. The first, as you may know, More than Friends, released this month. Through that release, I met my publicist, (I just really like to say that) Lisa, who is beyond fabulous. In total, including Falling for Kate, I've released four books this year. Next year there'll be three more releases for sure.
Another highlight of 2016, I MET my agent. In real life. She was adorable and completely "New York", which I loved. I queried Fran for the first time in 2013. And now we're on this journey together. A journey which may include some more good news for readers, but we'll save that post for the new year.
I wrote another book. I won a couple contests. I started a NEW book. I met a bunch of truly awesome people online and started The Romance Chicks with my pals Christina, Dylann, and Renee.
Believe it or not, I have a life outside of writing. It's a good one, too. I'm very lucky to be surrounded by so many people that are kind and funny and supportive. My family and I are really enjoying the holidays. My husband and I are both teachers which means we get all of the same vacations. Being paid to stay home and snuggle my girls while watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel is one of my favorite things ever.
We've also managed some festive outings, including a beautiful light maze in Vancouver. We found all nine reindeer, in case you were wondering. The rest of the holidays include writing, more movies, family time, lots of food, and seeing friends.
I'm one of those people who absolutely loves the holidays, but it also makes me a little weepy. It's a reminder that life goes so fast and the years seem to be skipping by. I both love looking forward to things to come and hate saying goodbye to anything that is over. It's a strange contradiction and Christmas/New Year's kind of highlights that bittersweet feeling. I have so much to be grateful for and I never take that for granted.
I hope that you and your families have a magical holiday season. I know that it isn't magical for everyone and for some, it's not even a favorite time of year. But still, I wish everyone a safe and happy rest of December. Thought I'd share some of my photos from our holidays so far. Merry Christmas everyone.
I'm not sure how long it'll be before I stop using Friends references for all things. If you've never seen the one where Ross talks about the night of five times, then you have no idea what I'm talking about. Which is fine. My husband is in your shoes all. the. time.
Summer is coming to a close. Technically, there are still three weeks left but time has a way of speeding by without my permission. All in all, it's been a pretty great summer, despite the lackluster weather. I made it to New York City with my best friend to celebrate my 40th birthday. That was every bit as wonderful as I'd hoped it would be. Not only did we see three Broadway shows and walk the Brooklyn Bridge, I met my agent. And that was, literally, a dream come true.
We've also done some fun family stuff. We've gone down to Vancouver a couple of times, gone swimming, and done some shopping.
In between all of the other wonderful things I've gotten to enjoy this summer...a boatload of book news goodness came my way as well. Sometimes, it feels like all or nothing in this industry. You spend time in a writing cave (or in my case, my bedroom), head down, trying to get the words right. Some days, there's endless chatting online as the words come. Other days, it's quiet. This summer has been not so quiet in the best possible way.
If you didn't see, my three book deal with Entangled Publishing (Bliss Line) was announced this week. I'm already working on notes from my awesome editor, Stacy Cantor Abrams and her assistant.
In addition to this, I posted earlier in the summer that a novella "sequel" to Falling for Home, titled Falling for Kate, was signed by Penner Publishing. I'm very happy to be working with them again on another book. This one is out (tentatively) October 3rd.
If you're counting, that's four and I said the summer of five. The fifth one that I'm really excited about is also with Penner Publishing. This one is called Caught Looking. Between now and the end of 2017, I will have five books released, all signed this summer.
So. Needless to say, I'm seriously excited. And in serious edit mode for the foreseeable future.
Every book I write matters to me. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to know that I'll get to share this many of them with all of you. I'm grateful to both Entangled Publishing and to Penner Publishing for believing in my work. I'm very grateful to my agent, Fran, for believing in me. And I'm extremely grateful to all of the people that help me and support me by forgiving me when I'm late or forget things, read my work-- some repeatedly, talk down my uncertainty, let me bounce ideas off of them endlessly, share in my enthusiasm when things are great and stand by me when they aren't.
And as bonus good news, this morning I was notified that my books, Falling for Home and Damaged were nominated for the Summer Indie Book Awards for 2016! Voting takes place between September 1-11, 2016.
I'm not sure how to top this summer or if I need to, but I definitely know what I'll be doing for the rest of it: editing.
Part of being an author (it's in the unwritten rule book) is checking your email obsessively. From the moment you decide, yes, I'd like to be published, you commit to becoming increasingly attached to your email. I'm talking send-yourself-an-email-from-your-other-email-to-make-sure-your-email-is-working attached. The kind of attached that means you're happy to get junk mail, even though you get that quick jolt of "Yay, I have email" before the inevitable, "Oh, it's junk mail" because it means that yes, your email is operating correctly.
You might be waiting for responses to queries, word from your agent, word from your editor, publisher, critique partner, beta reader, blogger...you see what I'm saying. It always makes me wonder how people survived the writing/publishing process in the age of snail mail. Can you imagine mailing your query, waiting for a response, mailing your manuscript, waiting for a response.
It seems unbearable but even four years ago, when I started querying, agents were still accepting snail mail. Now, not so much. So email matters! Writers spend a lot of time waiting and hearing the whoosh or ping, or ring that you've got mail is like getting a tiny shot of oxygen after you've been under water for too long.
On Tuesday, I got one of those lovely types of emails that weren't junk mail or Netflix telling me what I'd really enjoy.
It was notification that my story, Undercover Distraction, is a finalist in The Catherine Contest, through the Toronto chapter of Romance Writers. I've finaled before in contests, but I have to say, it feels especially cool to make it to the next round in a Canadian one. I love this story. It was very fun to write and starts with a disastrous first meeting between the hero and heroine. It's a reminder that we never know where the moments in our lives might lead us.
Congratulations to my agency mate on the upcoming release of her book, SKIN.
With a name like Ocean, you’d think moving to Prince Edward Island would be simple. But since seventeen year old Ocean crossed that huge bridge to the land of red sand, her life has been far from normal—it’s been downright dangerous.
Trouble seems to follow her everywhere, and she’s got the bruises to prove it. And then there’s her mysterious neighbour, Sam...who seems to know more about her history than she does herself.
When Ocean finally steps into the salty waves with Sam, she realizes that her life has been based on a lie, and that she is missing something...something she never knew existed.
Want a sneak peek?
The moon is so bright outside it’s casting shadows in my room, bathing everything in grey, dim light. I walk to the window, touch the photo still pinned to the wall, and look out at the beach. My hand falls, and my thumb slides to Dad’s ring, twisting it around and around and around.
It’s as if there’s a huge, lunar spotlight in the night sky, shining on the waves and blowing grasses. I have an urge to go out and walk in the waves. I can almost hear voices in the crash of the water—comforting voices—but Mom would have a hissy-fit if she found out I’d gone to the ocean alone. I sit down and sip my water, watching.
There’s someone walking along the beach, and I’m sure it’s Sam. His hair and the smooth way he walks—that lithe, almost animal stalk could only be him. Whether it’s real or a trick of the light, I think he might be naked. He’s carrying something in his arms— maybe it’s his clothes—but he walks into the waves with whatever it is like he’s going for a moonlight swim. He goes deeper and deeper until I only see the blink of his head. That too disappears beneath the waves.
I don’t see him resurface.
BRENDA COREY DUNNE
Brenda Corey Dunne grew up in rural New Brunswick, Canada. She originally trained as a physiotherapist and worked several years as an officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force before meeting her Air Force pilot husband and taking her release.
She has two other published novels, DEPENDENT (2014) and TREASURE IN THE FLAME (2012).
Brenda is represented by Frances Black of Literary Counsel. She currently resides on the Pacific Coast of Canada, but home is wherever the RCAF sends her hubby, and she’ll be moving to the Washington, DC area in the summer of 2016.
When not writing, working or taxiing her three children she can be found either in the garden or on the beach with a book in one hand and a very, very large coffee in the other.
Connect with Brenda online
I had a funny post ready, talking about how not many people would put me in a position of leadership given that I can't even navigate a round-a-bout successfully, but it didn't save properly and my head is foggy so there's less humor than I intended. Sorry.
Probably okay, since for the querying writer, finding your agent match doesn't feel funny. It feels like a hard, long haul. When Amy asked me to be a mentor for the Sun vs Snow contest she runs with Michelle Hauck, I was pretty pumped. It's a big step, for me for two reasons. One is the realization that I have crossed over from the person entering every contest (so, yes, I know how you feel as you press send and cross your fingers) to the person offering some guidance and feedback. That feels pretty cool. A different kind of stress than being the one entering because I want to do right by whoever I help. The second reason it is a big deal is more personal. It tells me that I have, in part, gained some confidence in my ability to help someone else. And this seemed to have happened without me knowing. Instead of second guessing every single step (though I send plenty of doubting messages to my writer friends), I'm starting to feel like I know some of the ins and outs or, at least, can offer something of value to the conversations being had. What it boils down to, for both reasons, is growth. Which takes time and commitment.
The writing community is this vast, yet small, powerful group that truly celebrate the successes of others. This contest, and others, like Pitch Wars, are testaments to how supportive your fellow writers are. People WANT you to succeed. And not just the people running the contests or the people offering to be mentors. Agents and editors want your words. They want your BEST words. If you follow someone like Julia A Weber on Twitter, you'll see how often she gives advice (then funnily enough tells you that you're free to ignore it) to help you strengthen your writing and your query. And she's not the only one. Agents want to find a great match just as much as you do.
But here's the thing you need to remember about these contests: it's not just about getting into the contest. For me, and for many other writers, the contest is the best way to build your support network, to find your people. In fact, I remember entering contests at the same time as Amy Trueblood and reading her twitter pitches (and thinking her book sounded fantastic). And I have to say, it's really cool to see that so many of the people that I connected with during my contest-entering days are now agented or publishing books. It happens. It takes time and it can feel long, but if you want it, if you're willing to keep going; it will happen. There was a great quote from Chris Pratt on Buzzfeed.
One day, you'll be scrolling through Twitter when you're supposed to be working on edits for your book under contract and someone like Amy will message you and ask if you want to be a mentor and you'll stop and you'll think, WHAT? How can I be a mentor? I'm just new. And you'll realize you're not. You'll realize you kept going and you're doing what you set out to do and the very best way to celebrate that is to give back. Share what you know. Connect with others. Encourage others. Encourage yourself. Reach out when you feel stuck or lost or alone. And above all, keep writing.
Good luck to everyone entering Sun vs Snow. I am truly honored to be a mentor in this great event. And don't worry-- I'm better at navigating a query letter than a round-a-bout. Considerably.