2013 Writing Review

I hadn’t planned to write another end of the year flavored post, but Charlotte Dixon, AKA the Word Strumpet, inspired me to take some time to review my writing journey over the past year.  She listed out thirty questions covering three different areas: writing, motivation, and marketing.  Not all of the questions fit my writing life, so I combined some and selected the ones that really stood out to me.

1. What was the best thing that happened with my writing?

I was able to open up, settle down and write my first complete novel.  Once the words started pouring from me and I knew how it was going to end, it almost took my breath away.  I knew in that moment this was really going to happen.

2. What did I learn about my writing?

I have to do it every day.  Even if it’s just a few random sentences in my journal.  Writing heals and energizes me.  It keeps me sane and moving forward.

3. What experiences inspired me this year?

  • Morning walks to school with C.
  • Sitting on my parents’ veranda in the Idaho mountains.
  • My dad’s amazing stories of real life encounters with wildlife.
  • My friends’ newborn baby.
  • Witnessing my grandpa get remarried this fall.

4. What books inspired me?

5. What blogs inspired me?

Tammy Stroebel’s Rowdy Kittens.  Her photos, writing, and way of life emulate how I would like to live.  She finds so much beauty in simple things and has a lifestyle I long to embrace (and am able to to a certain extent).

Back to Basics 2014

For some reason this year end post is not coming together.  This is the third time I’ve written it.  I’m not sure if it’s because I’m exhausted from Christmas fun or I’m just in a different state of mind.  Since my writing plan for 2014 is to return to the basics, really dive into working on my craft and not getting overwhelmed by the rules of self-publishing and all of that, I am posting a list of things I’m going to do and some resources that inspired this list.

1. Re-read Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

2. Remember even if I never get paid for my work, it’s still worth doing.  Writing is my passion.  I’ve been telling stories my entire life.  I can’t stop now.  Thanks for the reminder, Hugh Howey.

3. Words on a page, any page, count as writing.  It’s okay to leave the laptop at home and spend vacation time simply journaling.  There is something about a pen on real paper that restores my creativity.

4. Work on my stress management.  I’m starting my year out by taking Sandra Pawula’s Living With Ease: 21 Days to Less Stress e-course.

My hope for this time next year is to be celebrating two published novels, or be very close to that goal.  I have finally been able to embrace my writing career and I cannot wait to see what it holds!  I realized in the latter part of 2013 that staying calm, managing my stress, and being true to myself allows my creativity and productivity to soar.  I look forward to applying those principles in the upcoming year.

I SEE LONDON-Cover Reveal

I am so honored to have the privilege of showing off my new writer friend, Chanel Cleeton’s,  hot new book cover!  I’ve already pre-ordered my copy.

I See London by Chanel Cleeton

February 3, 2014

Harlequin HQN (Digital First)

New Adult Contemporary Romance


Maggie Carpenter is ready for a change— and to leave her ordinary life in South Carolina behind. But when she accepts a scholarship to the International School in London, a university attended by the privileged offspring of diplomats and world leaders, Maggie might get more than she bargained for.

When Maggie meets Hugh, a twentysomething British guy, she finds herself living the life she always wanted. Suddenly she’s riding around the city in a Ferrari, wearing borrowed designer clothes and going to the hottest clubs. The only problem? Another guy, the one she can’t seem to keep her hands off of.

Half French, half Lebanese, and ridiculously wealthy, Samir Khouri has made it clear he doesn’t do relationships. He’s the opposite of everything Maggie thought she wanted…and he’s everything she can’t resist. Torn between her dream guy and the boy haunting her dreams, Maggie has to fight for her own happy ending. In a city like London, you never know where you stand, and everything can change in the blink of an eye.

This is a New Adult romance recommended for readers 17 and up.

Add it to your list on Goodreads.

Book Order Links:


Barnes & Noble

About Chanel Cleeton

Originally a Florida girl, at seventeen Chanel moved to London to attend an international university.  In the four years that followed, she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, learned how to dance, travelled through Europe, and made lifelong friendships.  Chanel fell in love with London and planned to stay there forever.  But fate intervened on a Caribbean cruise, when an American fighter pilot with smooth dance moves, swept her off her feet.

Now, a happily ever after later, Chanel is living her next adventure in South Korea.  An avid reader and hopeless romantic, she is happiest curled up with a book.  She has a weakness for handbags, puppy cuddles, and her fighter pilot husband.  Chanel writes New Adult contemporary romances and Young Adult thrillers.  Her New Adult debut, I SEE LONDON, will be released by Harlequin (HQN) on February 3, 2014, followed by a sequel, LONDON FALLING, later in the year.

Author Links:

Website:   www.chanelcleeton.com

Facebook:   www.facebook.com/authorchanelcleeton

Twitter:   www.twitter.com/chanelcleeton

Goodreads:   www.goodreads.com/chanelcleeton

Be sure to check out Chanel’s Rafflecopter giveaway.  There is a $25 Amazon Gift Card up for grabs!

Meet My Editor: Angi Black

Since I’m between drafts at the moment, I’m taking the down time to do some extra blog posting.  I’m realizing these things come in waves.

I have hired Angi Black, owner of Wise Owl Words, to be my full-service editor for Swept Up.  Angi was one of my first Twitter friends, and has generously given me much advice and encouragement in the last eight months.   Angi not only edits, she is also working on a novel of her own, but I’ll let her tell you about that.

Your life seems to revolve around words.  What is your writing background?
Well, my life really revolves around creating things. I’m a dancer and singer by trade, but I’ve always written. I’m in love with words. I mean IN LOVE! I’ve always had a notebook or five to jot things down. I excelled in my English classes and was the only one who got excited at the prospect of writing papers and essays.
But a few years ago we moved and for the first time in my life I was without a dance job. I started putting all the little tidbits and things I jotted down into a story and pretty soon it was a manuscript. I found the writing community on Twitter and met the most amazing people. It’s pretty much taken over. The writing, not Twitter. Okay, a little of both.
What made you decide to start up an editing service?
I was an intern for a rock star agent and I learned so much from her. She told me repeatedly, this is what will make you a great editor. She really got me thinking about it. I’ve always been good with the details and this field proved no different. So I took some classes and BAM, here I am. My editing company is called Wise Owl Words.
I know you love to read.  What are your top three favorite novels?
I DO love to read. My favorite three books are The Great Gatsby, The Vampire Lestat and The Westing Game.
I love Gatsby because it’s told by a narrator that is not the focus of the book and he sees Gatsby with rose-colored glasses. Plus we only learn about the main character well into the book and through his words plus our enamored narrator. The set-up and dynamic is so different and brilliant.
I love Lestat because Anne Rice is my favorite author and this was the moment I knew I wanted to write books. I read this book and just knew there would be a place in the world for my books.
The Westing Game is simply a classic. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that Clue was my favorite board game growing up.
Who or what inspires you?
What inspires me is music. Music moves me and makes the ideas, words, and stories to the front of my brain and out on to the page. The plotting part of my brain is strangely inspired by the History Channel. I’m not sure what that’s about, but it happens.
Who inspires me is a bit more difficult. Obviously, the first people are my children. They keep me going.
The rest of that answer is broad and vague but absolutely true. Every person I come in contact with inspires me in some way. I’m an observer. I like to take in the world and all of it seeps into my work.
What drew you to the New Adult and Schmexy genres?
My novels hover on the upper line of New Adult and Adult. People assume I write YA because I work with kids, but I’ve tried and I can’t. The things I like to write about aren’t what you’re finding on the NA shelf at the moment. I loved my twenties so much, you’re still doing so many things for the first time and I love reliving that through my books.
The schmexy side of things is simple. I love the flirting, the kisses, the romantic and sometimes naughty scenes. There’s just something I adore about writing the relationship side of things. I love the first kiss, the first time, the first sleepover.
Do you write and edit full-time?
Yes. In addition to my ‘real’ job.   Haha!  Seriously though, I teach dance and theater but most of my time is devoted to writing and editing. Plus I’m a mom and a wife and I try to leave my house for fun sometimes, too.
Do you have a book coming out soon?   Which direction will you go: indie publishing or the traditional route?
I’m currently seeking representation with a rock star agent. I just did a big R&R (revise and resubmit) with her and I’m playing the waiting game. Ideally though, I’d like to be a hybrid author. I’d love an agent and to be traditionally published, but I’m a fast writer and have so many ideas, that I know only doing traditional publishing will move too slow for me. Hopefully, my agent and I can work together to make this happen.
I’m working on a series of NA books about baseball. I’m really excited to get it out there. The characters are so dynamic and fun. I’m simply in love with them. I also have an adult book I’m working on, but it’s too soon to tell about that one.
What has been your experience with indie publishing?
I put out a book last year which has now been pulled and is getting a major overhaul. I hit some bumps with the book I hadn’t counted on. But I got good reviews and I learned some very valuable lessons. The actual experience though was great. I met some amazing people and have found nothing but support.
Isn’t she great?  I am so excited to be working with Angi this winter!   You can follow her on Twitter, and also be sure to check out her website, which is home to the very fun blog Tall Thoughts from a Short Girl .

Sending Out My Baby and What’s Next

I finished the first draft of Swept Up about a month ago.  Then I dove right into the editing process.  Some people call this entering the revision cave.  I’d hoped to have first round edits complete by December 1, but with Thanksgiving and other life crazies it took me an extra ten days.   The process was intense, but very satisfying.  I got to know my characters on a whole new level and the story really fleshed out.   Last night I pressed send releasing my baby to seven trusted beta readers.  Now I wait while they decide if this piece has what it takes to fly.

Releasing my manuscript doesn’t mean I’m just sitting around the house waiting to hear back from my readers.  I have a whole list of writerly things to do.  I’m in the process of putting together an interview with my editor, Angi Black.  I can’t wait for you all to meet her.  She hasn’t even seen my manuscript yet, but she’s already become a cheerleader/therapist as I go through this process for the first time.  I also have a holiday themed Quick Fix Story rattling around in my head, so stay tuned for that.

In between making my own words, I’m planning to settle in with some Christmas stories.  At the moment, I have Shanna Hatfield’s Christmas Cowboy queued up on my kindle.  Debbie Macomber’s Starry Night: A Christmas Novel is on deck.  I hope you all take some time to pour a glass of wine or hot chocolate, snuggle in a warm blanket, and read a good book during this cozy season.