Thursday, April 17, 2014

Colorado Book Award Finalist--Ascendant


My book, ASCENDANT, is a finalist for the 2014 Colorado Book Award! The Finalist Reading will be held May 8th, 2014 at the Oxford Hotel in downtown Denver. The winners will be announced and the awards will be presented on June 13th at 2:00pm at the Hotel Jerome in Aspen.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Interview With Author, Kristi Helvig

Author photo

Kristi Helvig

Tuesday April 8th 2014, I had the opportunity to attend Kristi Helvig's book launch for Burn Out at the Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch. What a great event, with yummy cupcakes, to celebrate the release of a fun, face paced, young adult sci fi! Here are some pics!
Kristi Helvig and Rebecca Taylor
Kristi Helvig answering questions about Burn Out
Kristi Helvig Burn Out release, Tattered Cover Highlands Ranch

Today I'm interviewing my fellow Darkly Delicious YA author, Kristi Helvig, about her young adult debut--Burn Out.

BURN OUT CoverYour debut title, Burn Out, is a young adult science fiction published by Egmont USA. Tell us about Burn Out, what can we expect?
It’s about a 17-year-old girl, Tora, who is one of the last people on Earth when the sun burns out early. She finds other survivors, or rather they find her, but they turn out to be even deadlier than the planet. Expect a fast, tense ride.

What would you say makes it stand out from other books in the same category?

Hmmm. I haven’t seen the concept of the sun burning out before and it involved a lot of science research because I’m a total nerd. So I could say it’s nerdier than other books, but that’s probably not a strong selling point-lol. I will say that I’m a huge Star Trek and Battlestar Gallactica fan (I’m really not doing much to dispel the nerd thing, huh?), but a big part of that for me is the characters and not just the sci-fi setting. Shows like BSG and Firefly had characters that made me care about them, which was what I wanted in my own book.

How long have you been writing fiction? What inspired you to become an author?

Either a few years or forever, depending on how you view it. I wrote my first picture book at age 5 or 6, and then my first novel a few years after that. However, I didn’t write anything other than angsty teen poetry until after I had my kids. The first book I wrote with the intent of it being published was a few years ago.

I see that you also work as a clinical psychologist; do you feel this has any bearing and/or impact on your fiction writing?

Yes, I’ve always been fascinated with what makes people tick, and why they make the choices they make so I got my Ph.D. and have been working as a psychologist for over 12 years now. It definitely helps with characterization and motivation in novels. I also worked with teen girls in youth corrections and met a lot of smart, tough girls, so writing a tough girl came pretty easily.

How do you balance work, your writing career, and family?

Ha. I should ask you that because I’m not sure I’m balancing anything at all right now. I’m lucky in that I only work part-time in my private practice which leaves more time for writing. However, right now I’m juggling the deadline for Book 2 revisions with the launch for Book 1 and feel more unbalanced than ever. Whenever I have crazy times like this, I make sure to create some down time afterward. I have things planned with my family after my launch, and a mountain trip with girlfriends. Other tips are appreciated. ;)

What tips or recommendations do you have for aspiring authors?

Keep writing, keep learning, join a critique group, attend conferences, read blogs. And chocolate and wine always come in handy too.

Thanks so much for having me on the blog, Rebecca! :)

Kristi, thank you so much for being on the blog. Your release was great!

You can follow Kristi here:
Website: www.kristihelvig.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/KristiHelvigAuthor
Twitter: @KristiHelvig
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/6997226.Kristi_Helvig

Friday, April 4, 2014

Interview with author Katie O'Sullivan


Today I'm interviewing author Katie O'Sullivan.

Your latest release is a small town, contemporary romance set in Cape Cod, My Kind of Crazy. You are also the author of Son of a Mermaid and the second book in that series, Blood of a Mermaid (due out in May of 2014). Tell us about your Mermaid series and what we can expect from My Kind of Crazy?
The SON OF A MERMAID series is aimed at a YA audience, while MY KIND OF CRAZY is a contemporary romance. All the books are set on Cape Cod, where I currently live, with the Atlantic Ocean playing a role. Of course, in the mermaid books there are a large number of scenes that take place in the mermaid realm under the waves, while the characters in MY KIND OF CRAZY are strictly human. Well, except for the foster puppy. He just thinks he’s a person.

What would you say makes them stand out from other books?

I like to think my books are intelligent, with snappy dialogue and real emotion. The biggest feedback I’ve received is that the place descriptions pull people in and make readers feel like they are actually visiting the scenes described in the books.

What current books would you compare them too?

If you like books by authors like Kristen Higgins and Mary Kay Andrews, with small town settings and feisty heroines looking for a second chance at happiness, you’ll like MY KIND OF CRAZY. It’s set in a small seaside town on Cape Cod. The SON OF A MERMAID series should appeal to fans of Percy Jackson, as they are more adventure stories than your typical mermaid romance.

Can you tell us about your personal background?

I grew up in New Jersey, but now I live on Cape Cod with my family and big dogs. In fact, the foster puppy in MY KIND OF CRAZY is modeled after our own Saint Bernard, who was a huge trouble maker when she was young! The day she learned to open the car windows on her own made me realize I was in big, big trouble.

How long have you been writing fiction?

I’ve always loved to write stories, but I didn’t get serious about it until my youngest was in full-day Kindergarten. A friend dragged me along to his writing class and I found my love of writing was still alive and well. It had just been dormant for twenty years.

What inspired you to become an author?

I was an early and voracious reader, and dreamed of writing stories that would inspire that same passion for reading in others.

My first two books were for adults, until I finally sold my first YA manuscript to Crescent Moon Press for the story that became SON OF A MERMAID, and the soon to be released sequel, BLOOD OF A MERMAID.

I love to read YA, but I also like to read smart romance novels with strong females taking charge of their lives and their own happiness – I guess that’s why I write that type of story as well. I like to write what I like to read.

I see that you also work as an editor and write a column, do you feel this has any bearing and/or impact on your fiction writing?

I’ve worked in many different writing and editing jobs over the years, and still work as a freelance editor. The column I write, “The Write Way,” gives advice on writing and editing, including answering frequently asked questions and addressing common mistakes.

When you work with other writers, the mistakes tend to jump out at you more. It’s so hard to edit your own words because you always “know” what you’re trying to say. Your brain will fill in the missing bits, or smooth over the rough patches. Correcting those mistakes in other people’s manuscripts also helps me to recognize them in my own work.

How do you balance, work, your writing career, and family?

Balance? You’re supposed to balance? No one told me that!

I see that you also blog. With regards to social media, what do you feel has benefited your writing career the most?

Blogging has helped me to connect with other writers and learn new things about both writing and promotion. The blog-writing itself is a good tool to sharpen skills, but the biggest part about blogging is that you’re supposed to actually support others. Visit other blogs, read and comment on other opinions, build relationships. Bloggers support each other, and you’re building a network of online support and friendship, because face it. Most of an author’s time is sitting alone in front of a computer screen. My ability to do this successfully waxes and wanes, but I know that’s how it’s supposed to work.

What are your thoughts about the publishing industry today?

Publishing is changing rapidly. There’s no longer just one route to publication, like when I first graduated from college. Authors today have so many (too many) options and choices and decisions to make…but it’s also exciting because authors have so many options and choices and decisions they are able to ponder! With the advent of new self-publishing venues, the next few years will be interesting to watch.

Can you speak a little about your experiences working with small presses?

I’ve worked with four different small press publishers over the years, and three have been great experiences. The other was a learning experience.

A small press has the advantage of allowing the author a greater degree of control over their storyline and artwork, but the disadvantage of smaller distribution network. With a small press, an author has to be willing to go the extra mile with marketing and promotion, as if they had self-published. Some small presses give marketing support, like sending out review copies to various review sites or sponsoring group tables at events.

The other big advantage of a small press is the supportive network of authors that come along with the signed contract. I love my Crescent Moon and Wild Rose families, where the authors are actively sharing ideas and working together to support one another.

Tell us about your path to publication.

My path to publication was long and rocky, without any great “aha” moments. Lots and lots of rejection letters from agents and publishers, and yet somehow I kept going. Kept writing, and kept bugging people about my story ideas.

I’ve accomplished a few of the goals on my ultimate list – my first contract, my first book signing, my first fan letter from someone I didn’t know, my first fan letter from an 10-year-old reluctant reader – but there are still plenty of goals I have yet to achieve. The road doesn’t end at being published.

What tips or recommendations do you have for aspiring authors?

Write. Sit down and write. Set goals for yourself, either word counts or hours per week, and meet those goals. Sign up for a class or find a critique group at your local library, to share your work and have someone you’re responsible to. Read writing blogs and columns like mine for tips on writing and trends in the industry. And make sure you have a second set of eyes read over your pages before you send them to any agents or publishers!

But most of all, write. You can’t be an author if you’re not a writer.

Katie, thank you so much for being on the blog today and for all the great insights.

You can follow Katie here:
Website: www.katie-osullivan.com
Blog: http://katieosullivan.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKatieOSullivan

Monday, March 31, 2014

Interview with YA/NA Author, Cherie Colyer


Today I'm interviewing YA and NA author Cherie Colyer.

You have two books out, Embrace, and Hold Tight (Embrace Series) and another coming out this year, Challenging Destiny (Challenging Destiny Series).  Tell us about your Embrace series and what can we expect from Challenging Destiny.

The Embrace series follows sixteen-year-old Madison Riley as she learns about the paranormal world around her. We meet Madison in Embrace. She’s your average junior in high school, but her world spins out of control when her best friend becomes delusional, seeing things that aren’t there and desperately trying to escape their evil. When the doctors can’t find the answers, Madison seeks her own.  She discovers supernatural powers and needs to embrace these powers to save her friend.
Hold Tight picks up a couple months later. Madison is learning to control the magical powers she embraced. Only instead of spending her free time practicing magic, she’s stuck watching her kid brother and doing chores. Madison decides to do a spell to conjure help around the house. Only her idea of “help” invites trouble of its own. She finds herself caught in the crossfire between two dashing but deadly creatures. She must figure out which one to trust and how to rid her world of the other before one of them destroys her and everyone she cares about.
In Challenging Destiny, eighteen-year-old Logan Ragsdale and his younger sister Ariana must outsmart both Heaven and Hell if they hope to remain human and avoid being pawns in a coming war.

My publisher surprised me by releasing Challenging Destiny early on Kindle. J

What would you say makes them stand out from other books?

Even though my books have a paranormal element they’re set in modern day.  My characters could be your neighbor or classmate. They have families to deal with and homework to complete, all well battling supernatural threats.

What current books would you compare them too?

Readers who enjoyed Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, and The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater are likely to enjoy my books.

How long have you been writing fiction? What inspired you to become an author?

I’ve been writing fiction for about ten years. My husband was the one who encouraged me to start writing. We like to go on long walks. I’d go on and on about ideas I had for different stories. He’d tell me that I should write one of them.  Finally, I did. I enjoyed crafting my own story so much that I looked for ways to improve my writing. I joined SCBWI, joined a critique group, discovered I was breaking too many rules when it came to writing for teens and children, attended conferences, and took a writing class through ICL. My husband, who recognized my passion for all of this, bought me my first laptop and the one I have now when that one broke. 

I see that you are also a mother, do you feel this has any bearing and/or impact on your writing?

It certainly helped me to know what is and isn’t popular. While I try not to use a lot of slang in my writing, I want my characters’ dialogue and action to ring true. Writers are always observing the people around them, and you can get great ideas from a group of teens hanging out at your house.

How do you balance, your writing career, and family? 

I’m not sure if my family would agree that I actually do a good job of balancing family and writing, but I do try. Basically, any free time is writing time. With my boys being older, I usually can find time each day to write.

I see that you also blog. With regards to social media, what do you feel has benefited your writing career the most?

This is hard to answer, because I think the different social media work together. If it weren’t for my blog, I wouldn’t have met many of the wonderful book bloggers, readers, and fellow authors that I now keep in touch with. Twitter allows me to give quick updates about me and my books and also keeps me up-to-date on what books others are reading. Facebook lets me keep in touch with those who don’t blog or follow twitter. There are other social media options out there, but these are the three I use the most.

Your agent is Jordy Albert with The Booker Albert Literary Agency, how did you get your agent and what has your working relationship been like?

When I was ready to query agents, I stopped by Writer’s Digest and saw Jordy was there and she enjoyed books similar to mine. I had heard good things about The Booker Albert Agency from fellow writers, so I hurried to send her a query. Jordy has been wonderful to work with, and my newest YA paranormal romance is stronger thanks to her insightful feedback. That’s important to me, because I’m a firm believer that it takes more than just one person to write a great book.

What tips or recommendations do you have for aspiring authors?

Read everything—the genre you write as well as other genres. Join a critique group—the feedback you’ll get will help you see what you need to focus on in a particular scene. Attend conferences—the information shared on the publishing industry and on writing is invaluable. Keep working on your craft and never give up on your dream.

Author Bio:
Cherie Colyer is the author of  YA and NA paranormal thriller/romance, EMBRACE (available now), and HOLD TIGHT from Omnific Publishing, and CHALLENGING DESTINY from The Wild Rose Press (2014). Check out her website and blog for news on her books and bonus material. Follow Cherie on Goodreads, Twitter and/or Facebook for updates on writing, book and special offers.

You Can Follow Cherie Here:
Website: www.cheriecolyer.com
Blog: http://cheriecolyer.blogspot.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5288487.Cherie_Colyer
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CherieColyer
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cherie-Colyer-author/250631921629169

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Interview with Speak of the Devil Author, Shawna Romkey


Today I'm interviewing author Shawna Romkey (a fellow Darkly Delicious YA blogger) and asking her all kinds of tough, hard hitting questions about her books, her writing, and her life (okay, they're not that tough or hard hitting--but it's always interesting to learn about a fellow author!)


Her book, SPEAK OF THE DEVIL, is currently on sale for its birthday at 2.99 from March 15th through March 22nd. Don't wait!!

You have one book out, SPEAK OF THE DEVIL, and another coming out this year, THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT.  Tell us about SPEAK OF THE DEVIL and THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT.

Both of these books are young adult, paranormal novels focusing on Lily, the main character. Speak of the Devil starts with her getting into a car accident where she and her two best friends are killed. Somehow she comes back to life and her adventures begin there. She has to overcome some serious grief as well as guilt for surviving. She ends up in the middle of a war between angels and demons where God is lost.

The Devil Made Me Do It releases in September, and is the second book in the series. It takes Lily on a journey to Hell. Literally.

What would you say makes them stand out from other books?

I would say that the first book especially, deals with serious grief and depression issues initially. It’s very real and seems to have touched people who have experienced the loss of people they love. It’s based on something that happened to me actually, in high school. I lost three of my friends in a car accident, and still almost thirty years later, I’m affected by that loss. Speak of the Devil goes to some dark places.

They also deal with religion and spirituality, but I think it is respectful. I don’t think Christians would be offended and I don’t think non-Christians would be offended. It is a story about questioning faith and then establishes the parameters of what is real, religiously, in the fictitious world of the book. I think a lot of popular angel books out today omit the religious aspect of angels. They simply treat them as a paranormal being. But angels are religious creatures, and I think to leave that part out is the easy way.

What current books would you compare them too?

I think they’re pretty different, but I haven’t read a lot of current books either. I would say they are more of a cross between Twilight for the love story, the TV show Supernatural and how it deals with God and angels in a non-religious way, and Buffy, in having a strong female character. Not that Lily ever totally kicks ass yet in that way. Maybe a fight or two in The Devil Made Me Do It, but I wanted her to be a survivor emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically.

Are these books stand-alones or part of a series? 

They are a trilogy. Speak of the Devil is the first. The Devil Made Me Do It is the second. The third, The Devil You Know is in the works.

Can you tell us about your personal background?

I’m married with two sons and two dogs. I live in Nova Scotia, but I’m from Missouri. I teach at the community college level and have taught everything from seventh grade to university courses in English, communications, business and literature. I do marketing on the side from time to time and volunteer for a dog rescue organization in my spare time. Ha!

How long have you been writing fiction? What inspired you to become an author?

I wanted to write after the first trip I took to the library at school in kindergarten, and started then. Wrote through elementary, junior high, high school, and university. I published in university publications and had a play I’d written produced at a community theater through one of my university courses.

I see that you teach at the university and secondary level, do you feel this has any bearing and/or impact on your writing?

I’ve taught people from age 12 – well older than me. I feel like teaching high school and college level keeps me in touch with the age group of my demographic. I interact with them daily and it keeps me in touch with them. I  like those age groups and think I can still relate to them.

How do you balance your professional career, your writing career, and family? 

Very carefully. Ha!  It’s hard working full time, and I tend to over extend myself as you can see from the earlier question. On any days off I try to write first then when the family is out of the house or preoccupied, but when I’m working, writing takes the back seat. Things are extremely busy right now, so I don’t anticipate writing for another month or so, but being off for the summers has its perks. I will write like a madwoman and try to finish at least one project before September.

I see that you also blog. With regards to social media, what do you feel has benefited your writing career the most?

Social media is all smoke and mirrors. I was just talking about twitter on my FB page the other day and how I hate the DM. Most of them that I receive are spam. I think if you use your social media in an honest, sincere way rather than say “buy my book”  fourteen thousand times a day, you have a better result.

Some of the best successes I’ve had have simply come from asking. I sent out a press release inviting local media to my book launch and was featured in an article in the paper about paranormal authors. I put some bookmarks in a local new age bookstore. Someone saw them and invited me to do a book club meeting at the big box bookstore chain in my area. I asked to do a presentation at a local sci fi/fantasy con, and was featured as a guest author along with Terry Brooks and Robert Sawyer. I’ve also had a lot of bizarre success simply by having an author signature on my emails. Everyone from my dentist to marketing clients have commented and looked into the book from that.

What are your thoughts about the publishing industry today? Can you speak a little about your experiences with traditional presses?

I have no thoughts.  LOL! I’m afraid by the time I have a thought and then write it down, it will all change, so why bother? I’m with my small press through the third book and don’t multitask with writing projects. So until I’m done with this trilogy, it does me no good to wonder about the rest.

I think self-publishing, traditional publishing and small press publishing is all a personal decision and each individual needs to choose what works for her/himself. I think I will attempt to submit my next project to a larger publisher who has more distribution than what I have with my small press now. It would be nice to see my book on box chain store shelves. I am also going to try to self-published because I’m a control freak. Then I can see what works.

Right now, I’m building my backlist and seeing what happens along the way.

Tell us about your path to publication. 

It took a very long time.  LOL!  It took me close to twenty years to get a publishing contract. I wanted a traditional press to publish my first book rather than to self-publish because I needed that validation. If I self-pubbed my first time out, I’d always wonder if I was good enough. But I also came across a phoney agent in those twenty years and stopped writing for a long chunk of time where I gave up.

I was laid off the year my youngest started school, so I had all day home alone and figured it was now or never. Write a book, try to sell it and see what happened. I had no excuse not to. That worked out for me.

What tips or recommendations do you have for aspiring authors?

Write. A lot of people who want to write don’t write or don’t write enough to finish. You can try to sell something if it isn’t done, and I’ve always heard it takes about five books before your writing is honed enough to publish. So write something. Write something else. And again and again. Have people read it and give you feedback. And after four or five attempts when you start getting good feedback from friends and family who’ve read your work, send it out. And don’t give up!

Shawna, thank you so much for coming by the blog today and sharing about your books and your writerly life!

Don't forget, you can buy Shawna's book here for 2.99 until March 22nd!

You can also follow Shawna here:
Website: www.shawnaromkey.com
Twitter: @sromkey
Facebook: Shawna Romkey
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/shawnazon
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shawna-Romkey/e/B00BOBTOXI/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Darkly Delicious YA Group Author Blog

So I don't think I ever officially posted anything about this--but at the end of 2013 I joined a fantastic group of YA writers at Darkly Delicious YA. Each of us posts content about once a month on a variety of writerly (not a real word) topics. Here's the intro:

We are a collective of traditionally published young adult authors who are passionate about writing suspenseful, intriguing novels for teens and adults. Our works range from contemporary, romance, paranormal, magical realism, or supernatural, but each of our novels feature a darkly delicious storyline that will leave you craving more.
We hope you’ll take some time to hop around our site, get to know us, and check out our books.

So please stop by and check each of us out here.

I have another post going up tomorrow--I'm talking about my cover design for ASCENDANT.

Please consider "following" that blog--there's new content every weekday!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Why Wattpad

About six weeks ago, I decided to begin serializing a book I had written on Wattpad. For those of you who don't yet know about Wattpad, it's basically a social networking site for readers and writers--that's it. I had heard about Wattpad last year and joined (like other social networking places, it's free) and began reading other writers' work while mulling over the idea of putting up something of my own.

Fast forward to fall 2013. I had finished the first draft of THE EXQUISITE AND IMMACULATE GRACE OF CARMEN ESPINOZA and had sent it off to my wonderful agent--she wasn't super crazy about it. Despite that, she was still totally willing to work on it with me and send it out to prospective editors. Maybe I shouldn't share that, but it's true. (side note: just because you find an agent who loves your writing, it doesn't mean they automatically love every incarnation of your writing.)

I thought about her offer for several days but ultimately decided not to.


Well, for one, I have long been thinking about the publishing ground shifting beneath our very feet. Since I've been working at the Nelson Literary Agency, I've been thinking about it even more and from a somewhat different, certainly more "business" perspective.

So I have my thoughts about all of this, but one idea that has popped up again and again is that maybe I would like to pursue a "hybrid" way of writerly life.

This idea that maybe some of the things I write could find a home in traditional publishing (eventually, please, still hoping), while some of my writing I will publish myself and that each decision should be made on an case by case basis. Between knowing the type of story EXQUISITE IMMACULATE was (Teen-Fantasy), hearing the feedback from my agent (who I very much trust), and just seeing every day at my job what editors seem to be looking for and acquiring, I felt that this story might best be served by publishing it myself. Basically, I felt there was an audience for this book--however that audience may not be big enough to entice traditional publishing to sit up and take notice of a not already established writer.

Okay, so this (I'm not going to lie, somewhat painful) decision has been made. I am not going out on submission with this project--now what.

Self-publishing is another post (now this is a lie--it's many, many posts) all in itself, but this one is about "Why Wattpad?"

Here's the answer: I hoped to be able to gain some exposure for the work before it went on sale.
There is quite a bit of compelling evidence out there to support giving some of your writing away for free (again, another post) and Wattpad seemed like a great vehicle for me to do just that. The more I learned about their platform, it's reader reach, and who already was using it, the more excited I got about getting my own work up there.

So, I jumped in.

I began posting a chapter a week, on Fridays, and started to see my "reads" number climb--very, very slowly. But I was not worried, I believed that the more content I posted, and the longer I posted it, the more those numbers would climb--and they did.

And then one day, about three weeks after I had begun my Wattpad project, my story received an unexpected boost.

One of the content managers at Wattpad contacted me and asked if I would be interested in having my story on their "Featured" list.


So last week on February 12th 2014, my "reads" number looked like this:

 Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 10.33.51 AM

At that time, I had six chapters posted and about 1200 people had read it.

This morning, after one week of being on the Wattpad Featured list, my "reads" number looks like this:

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 3.33.20 AM

Over 23000! In 1 week!

And from what I can tell, it seems to grow by about 3000 a day. That's three times the number of total views I had before being featured. Per day.

So what do I think about giving my book away for free on Wattpad?

For this writer, who has yet to break into one of the larger traditional publishing houses, I LOVE IT. Wattpad has given me this amazing opportunity to share my writing with readers. Lots and lots of readers.

And what writer doesn't want that?

When I started posting chapters of THE EXQUISITE AND IMMACULATE GRACE OF CARMEN ESPINOZA on Wattpad, my whole hope was to gain a little exposure.

So thank you Wattpad for doing just that.
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