Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Snarkington Manor

Pardon me, I'm going to poke a little bit of fun at the writing community. Don't take it too seriously.

Writers tend to want to write series. It makes sense creatively--you get invested in a world, in a plot, in a character, you want to continue to explore that. It makes sense economically--a series allows you to more easily build a brand, build a readership.

What I don't really get is the trend of naming the series.

What is the name of the Harry Potter series? Harry Potter. Twilight? The Twilight books. It's self-explanatory. Either they have a recurring title (The Shannara books), a recurring character (the Mickey Haller books), or a recurring theme (The Mortal Instruments, which for a long time I thought was the "cities of beautiful covers" series).

So those are all fine because the names of the series flow naturally from the books themselves. But what is weird is when authors (or publishers -- I totally get that in some cases it's the publisher) try to force a series with a generic title name.

The Love series.
The Learning series.
The Again series.
The Beautiful series.
The Hockey series.
The Lamp series.
The File series.
The Pen series.

(Is it obvious that now I'm just picking items from around the room? Good.)

Writers, publicists. Stop this. It's nonsense. You know how I convince a friend to read a book? I say, "It's this fantastic book about [VERY SPECIFIC DETAILS!]"

I never say, "Well, it's about ... beautiful things. It's the Beautiful Series, haven't you heard of it?"

That one I think is actually impossible to have heard of, since I have seen SEVERAL authors try to brand their series as the "beautiful series." No. No, no, no, no, no. Nope.

You cannot brand something with a word as generic as "Love." It's so vague as to become meaningless, in addition to being wildly cheesy.

You can, however, brand something specifically. The Curse Workers! "Oh, that's about an alternate universe where a minority of people are genetically gifted with one of five magic powers, and because those gifts have been outlawed by the U.S. government, most people who want to use their magic end up involved with organized crime. It's like Harry Potter meets The Godfather."

See how simple that was? And now you kinda want to read them, right?

Now pardon me, I'm off to work on my Panda Express Series. All the characters work at, and fall in love in, a Panda Express.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Why I wrote my Pitch Wars novel

I am so stoked to be part of Pitch Wars. Have I mentioned that lately? I have been so lucky to get feedback from my mentor, Emily Martin. (Remember that name, folks, her first book comes out next year!) I loved my book back in August when I applied—I love it even more now.

So when some of my fellow mentees suggested we create a blog hop about why we wrote our Pitch Wars novel, I was excited to participate.

There were two things I wanted to do when I first got the idea for my book. First, I wanted to write a book that was primarily about the friendships between girls. Yes, there is a smidgen of romance in my book, but the important relationships are between four girls who have been friends for most of their lives. 

Second, I had read THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, and I’d been beyond impressed at the way that Matthew Quick wrote a story about something that was serious (mental illness and traumatic brain injury) that was simultaneously heartbreaking and hilarious. It seems like even the saddest things are usually also pretty funny, and for a long time I wanted to write something about a serious topic (an attempted suicide) in a funny way.  When my four main characters (Rosie, Ket, Jenna, and Elin) began to take shape in my mind, I knew right away that I wanted to make people laugh just as much (if not more) than I wanted to make them cry.

So that’s it! My main reasons for writing my book. I hope you all get to read it someday.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The holiday season

I am a big fan of holidays. I can tend to get a little ... TOO into them. Right now, we're in what I like to call the Holiday Corridor: Halloween--Election Day--Thanksgiving--Christmas--New Year. It's 100-plus days of non-stop fun!

(Oh, you don't celebrate Election Day? That's sad.)

This year, I may try to incorporate NaNoWriMo into the Holiday Corridor, because who doesn't want to create some new holiday traditions? (I imagine NaNoWriMo celebrations will have to involve a lot of jogging, to sort of combat ... all the side effects of NaNoWriMo.)

Jack Skellington heads from the Salt Lake Farmer's Market -- I should have bought one, but my Halloween decoration game is already a wee bit ... excessive.
What are you favorite holiday traditions?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


So today on Twitter I read an article about HOMELAND (spoilers for everyone who isn't caught up!) (which also includes me! I can never resist an article about something I like and am CONSTANTLY spoiling myself!) and it prompted a need to discuss something that is near and dear to my heart.

Platonic friendships between men and women (and boys and girls).

People love to 'ship (gag) their favorite couples, I get it. I mean, I DEFINITELY wanted Leslie Knope to end up with Ben Wyatt, you'd have to be heartless not to.

But I really wish people would stop ruining great examples of male-female friendships just because every story MUST include some romance. Why can't some stories simply NOT be romantic? Or why can't you introduce another character to fill the role of Love Interest, and watch as platonic friend (gasp!) does not get jealous. Because friends generally do not get jealous when their friends find someone they care for romantically.*

In my current W.I.P. (oh hey Pitch Wars, looking forward to the showcase!), I have four girls who have all been good friends with the same boy for years. Two of those girls end up (doomed or not, intentionally or not) in romantic entanglements with that boy. The other two girls NEVER EVEN CONSIDER IT. It is never even addressed.

Why? Because they're just friends. And that is how friendship works.

So can we get a shout out for a few of our favorite platonic pop culture friendships? Thank you!

In case it isn't clear, YES I REJECT ANY NOTION THAT THESE CHARACTER SHOULD HOOK UP. Their friendships are rare little flowers that need protection! Looking at you, Vampire Diaries...

* Distressed by a changing dynamic? Sure. Annoyed by less Friend Time? You got it. Wistful about their own romantic prospects? SURE! But the friendship isn't a true platonic friendship if someone is secretly harboring romantic feelings of their own. That is not how friendship works.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Is there any better feeling than realizing you're too old for some nonsense?

I've always been a people-pleaser by nature. Not only do I want people to like me, but I REALLY want people in positions of (perceived or real) authority to realize I am following their rules. Because of that, I've always been a good employee. A good volunteer. A good team-player.

I still am that way, deep down, but I think the best part of getting older is realizing who REALLY has the authority. Most of the time, it's actually me.

A few months ago, I agreed to be part of a volunteer organization. I was super excited about the opportunity and the ways that my particular skills could help the organization grow and improve. But over the past few months, it has become increasingly obvious that another person within the organization has a WILDLY different view of how things should be going.

At first I laid out my rationale for what I wanted to do. And then I tried to just do my own thing and not worry about what the other person thought. But it became obvious that neither tactic was getting me anywhere. And all that stuff I was excited to do a few months ago? I didn't want to do any of it if I couldn't support how it was being done.

22 year old me would have stuck it out, desperate to please all the people.

25 year old me would have a little more respect for her own needs and would have tried harder to advocate for alternative options.

But 30 year old me?

She quit. Because life is too short to butt heads with other people. And it feels grand, friends.

Book that is awesome: ALIAS HOOK by Lisa Jensen

Songs that are awesome: "Habits" by Tove Lo and "American Kids" by Kenny Chesney.

I recommend looking into those things.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


No, I'm not going on vacation. (Besides, isn't Labor Day the unofficial end of summer?) I'm helping with the blog tour for SUMMER IN NEW YORK, an anthology of short stories by some writers that I really adore.


In USA Today bestselling author Janette Rallison’s delightful novella, JOB HAZARDS, Lydia Robinson is posing as a prostitute. Undercover of course. Lydia’s job as a police officer hasn’t reeled in her prince charming yet. That is, until Harrison Aldridge, old high school flame, pulls up to the corner to rescue the fallen damsel. Lydia can’t exactly give Harrison the truth without blowing her cover, and it takes a series of mishaps and another whole set of misunderstandings before Lydia will even consider letting Harrison back into her life.

In Heather B. Moore’s enchanting novella, A TASTE OF SUN, Winona Grant embarks on a summer-long visit to NYC to house-sit for her great-aunt after a nasty break-up with her boyfriend Paul. But when her aunt commissions neighbor Steve Monti to tour Winona around, they strike a deal. Winona has too many deadlines to play tourist, and Steve is looking for a distraction from his looming gallery opening. So Steve goes on the tours by himself, and Winona reports back to her aunt as if she’d gone too. The longer this happens, the more Winona wants to change her mind. Seeing the city with Steve might be the perfect solution to forgetting about Paul.

In Luisa Perkins’s sweet romance novella, DULCE DE LECHE, Marisol is desperate for another nanny job after being unfairly fired from her previous position. She has only two more semesters of college, but she’s too proud to ask her wealthy parents for financial help. When her potential new employer, a single father working long hours as an anesthesiologist, decides she’s too young and pretty to hire, she practically begs him for the job. Darius finally agrees, and as he watches her work miracles with his Asperger’s son, he realizes there is much more to Marisol than he first believed.

In TAKE A CHANCE, a captivating story by Sarah M. Eden, Miguel Santos has a stopover in New York. When the announcement of delayed flights comes over the PA system, Miguel is looking at spending several hours at the airport. Determined to get comfortable for the long wait, he’s surprised when he spies a familiar face amongst the stranded passengers: Jane Schoonenburg, the last person he expected to see. Three months have passed since he asked Jane to marry him—three months of misery. And now he knows that he must talk to her, if only to find out why she broke his heart.

Annette Lyon’s entrancing novella, FIRSTS AND LASTS, begins with Dani’s last week in New York. She’s failed in her dreams to catch a break as an actress and is now ready to return home and dust herself off. As she visits the places on her final to-see list, she meets Mark, another New York City transplant with big dreams. Except Mark hasn’t given up on his. As they spend the day together, Dani realizes that even though she hasn’t hit the “big time” she might be living her dream after all. Only problem: she has a one-way ticket back home.

In Lisa Mangum’s whimsically titled story: &, Lucy is riding a wave of success at having found a bestselling novel in the slush pile at an exclusive New York publishing house. If only her personal life was storybook perfect as well. Her relationship with Devon is on the rocks, and even though she's been put in charge of the house while her boss is gone on business, Lucy isn't sure she's up to the task. It will take a chance encounter with a handsome wordsmith to help Lucy claim the courage that has always been a part of her heart.

And now, an excerpt from SUMMER IN NEW YORK:

Job Hazards
Janette Rallison

Chapter One

Fighting crime wasn’t supposed to involve wearing a leopard-print miniskirt, a silky halter top, and stiletto heels. Not once while Lydia Robinson was in the police academy a year ago had she envisioned that the job would land her on a seedy New York street posing as a hooker. But as Lieutenant Miner had told her a week ago after he called her into his office, “You’re a natural.”

A natural hooker? “Is that supposed to be a compliment?” she asked.

He held up his hands to stop her protest and nodded at the glass window of his office. Outside, two other female officers were talking about a case. Officer Loomis was fifty-two and had more wrinkles than a pile of forgotten laundry. Officer Dustin was seven months pregnant. “I just meant,” Lieutenant Miner said, “that you’re the best one in the department for the sting.”

So now Lydia stood on a dimly lit corner next to a row of bars and strip clubs. She wore so much makeup that she looked like she was part of a Broadway play. Her usually long, brown hair had been curled, teased and poofed. It was magazine-girl, notice-me hair. Half-a-bottle-of-hairspray hair.


Doesn't that sound fun? You can buy it here, here, or here. Let me know if you like it!