I’ve Moved!!!

Dear Readers,

I have moved my shenanigans over to kayladawnthomas.com. There’s new information about my debut book, Swept Up, and my same ramblings about life and writing.  Stop by and say hi!

Love,

Kayla

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On My Way to a Play List

A lot of authors talk about the music that inspires their stories.  Many have full on playlists.  I never could identify, I just thought, “Oh, that’s nice,” and moved on to my own thing.  Until I started writing my new novel.  Songs are popping up all over the place that create scenes in my mind so strong, I have to stop whatever I’m doing and at least take some notes if rushing to my office for an hour is not an option.

My new title, Tackling Summer, takes me back home.  I was raised on a cattle ranch in Idaho, and while I’ve never been the cowgirl my sisters are, I am a country girl at heart.   I grew up on country music, genuine hard working people and gorgeous scenery.  Cities make me nervous.   Honestly, I believe Bear, Idaho is one of the most romantic places on earth.  We spent our summers there playing in the woods, swimming horses in ponds, building forts out of retired outhouses, and helping Dad move cattle.

When we were in high school, we spent the school year about fifteen minutes from Weiser, Idaho, right in the middle of onion and sugar beet country.  A busy train track ran right through the middle of everything.  My boyfriend, AKA future husband, and I fell in love with the clacking and banging of those trains in the background.  So, when Jason Aldean came out with the song Night Train, images began to tear through my brain.  Glimpses of heated kisses, finding a place to be in the night where we could just see the sky and be together.  Gradually, I started to see my characters in these scenes.  This song took an idea I had floating around in my head and brought it to life.

I will share more songs from the Tackling Summer playlist in future posts.  For now, I hope you’ll take a few minutes and listen to this passion filled song: Night Train.

Night Brain

I have self-diagnosed myself with a very serious condition.  It’s called Night Brain.  I fall to sleep easily when I crawl into bed, but I wake up anywhere between two and four hours later to a busy brain.  There are times when I can pinpoint stress, but more often than not,  it happens when I’m developing a story and the ideas seem to come in the still of the night.  Often, I can make a couple of notes in Index Card on my phone and go back to sleep, but some nights, like last night, that’s not enough.  The scene begs to be written.

I roll around telling myself I might be too groggy to write well.  That’s a lie.  I’m wide awake.

I tell myself if I get up I will be extra tired the next day.  Really?  Like tossing and turning while characters run around in all the nooks and crannies of my head is going to help me be better rested?  I am also curious if thirty minutes to and hour of writing might settle everybody down enough to get back to sleep versus being awake the rest of the night.

So, I pose this question to you: What do you do when you come down with Night Brain?

Third Book vs First: What Changes, What Stays the Same

I am so excited to have J. Elizabeth Hill write the first guest post ever on Kayla Dawn Writes!  She is releasing her new book, The Nine, TODAY!!!  This title is her third indie-published novel, and since I’m on the cusp of release my first, I thought it would be fun to have a veteran talk about how the process feels once that pesky first is out of the way.  Thanks, for stopping by, Liz!

Hi, my name’s J Elizabeth Hill. Most people call me Liz. I’m the author of the Fantasy trilogy The Mirrors of Bershan. Kayla has been kind enough to let me celebrate the release of my third book, The Nine on her blog with a guest post. Thank you Kayla!

It’s been an interesting journey, publishing a complete trilogy, one that has come with a lot of lessons. When Kayla invited me to talk about how releasing the first book and the third differed, I realized how much I’ve learned in the process, but also how some things haven’t changed at all.

Releasing a book is a wonderful, fun, nerve-wracking experience. Enthusiasm is a big part of the event and the way others share theirs for my book is always a kick. Putting this book out there I’ve worked on for a while is both a high and frightening. On the one hand, I want others to read the story and love it the way you do. On the other, this little voice in the back of my head always whispers, “What if they don’t?” It doesn’t seem to matter how hard I worked on the story, because I know no story is great to absolutely everyone.

With my first novel, Bound, there were other things involved in the release, other feelings. One of them was hoping that I’d set the stage for the trilogy well enough. I’d already written the first drafts of the other two books by the time Bound was ready for publication, and I knew it was a good story as a whole. But I was also aware that the first book had to draw people in enough to want to read all three. More than that, I wanted to give the readers a sense of who these people were before the story started, because characters are transformed by the journey they take. This, of course, had to be balanced against the need to keep the pacing up, to not info dump. No one likes an info dump, after all.

This time, I’m saying goodbye. Mostly to the characters, as I plan to write a prequel to the trilogy, but it’s still a parting. I’m a little sad about it, as I’ll miss these characters. They’ve all been fun to write, and I love who they’ve all developed into. I hope people like the place where I leave the characters at the end of the book, especially after everything I’ve put them through. I wanted it to be a fitting close to the trilogy, just as I wanted to set the stage properly with the first book. The characters have been through so much. They deserve an ending that fulfills the promise of everything that led up to it. So do my readers. And this is the BIG ending, the end of the whole trilogy. So no pressure, right?

Each book is unique in some ways, and the release is different for each one. But it’s always fun, and there’s always hope that people will love what you’ve done. There’s a lot of work involved in releasing a new book, every time. It doesn’t seem to get any easier either, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m getting to do the thing I love the most: tell stories and share them with others.

About J. Elizabeth Hill:

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Julie Elizabeth Hill exported herself to Vancouver, British Columbia after many years of staring longingly at the map following every snowfall. For as long as she can remember, she’s been making up stories, but it wasn’t until high school that someone suggested writing them down. Since then, she’s been hopelessly in love with story crafting, often forgetting about everything else in the process. She is the author of The Mirrors of Bershan trilogy (Bound, Possession and The Nine).

Twitter: @jlizhill

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/16OrgYo

Blog: http://jelizabethhill.wordpress.com

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/16gGjW3

Woah there, Emma Jean!

When I started planning this post the other night, it was just a book review. Then something happened. Jason Gurley, my cover artist, sent me an email saying he just couldn’t help himself and started working on my cover a couple weeks early. EEEEEE!!!! Attached were five images for possible covers, each breathtaking. It’s been kind of surreal as I have shared them with my family and some friends. We are looking at the cover of my book! Each step forward in the process has made my dream just that much closer to being a reality, but something about seeing cover options just pushed me over the edge…which oddly enough was appropriate to go along with my review of Charlotte Rains Dixon’s debut novel Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior.

Dixon created a character that is reminiscent of Scarlett O’Hara. Self centered, compulsive, and just plain over the top. Where Scarlett made me angry (I haven’t read Gone With the Wind since high school, so I wonder how I’d react to her now), Emma Jean simply made me shake my head and sometimes laugh out loud. I just cannot fathom thinking about myself that much.

The thing I love about Emma Jean is that after she commits the ultimate crime in her book—adultery—she realizes she is lost in life. She begins an earnest search for some sort of spiritual truth to bring her atonement for her sin. The thing is, she just can’t quite get the hang of being nice and her theatrics go from bad to worse once she realizes she is pregnant with her lover’s baby. Emma Jean is 48 and always thought to be sterile.

From here the story goes into a tailspin of hilarity. Dixon keeps the pace clipping with one surprise or disaster coming right after the other. It was one of those books that had me saying, “Just one more chapter,” every time I sat down to read.

Dixon is a Northwest writer, and I love that I have been to almost every setting in the book, with the exception of L.A. There is something about being familiar with what the characters are seeing and interacting with in their environment, just pulls me in even more. I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior. Without a doubt, it will brighten your day.

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).

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

BOOK SUMMARY:

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:

Amazon

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 .

A Day to Remember

“Memories have the power to both remind, refocus, and renew us.” Chris Hogan

Twelve years ago I woke to a gorgeous, early fall day.  I got in my old Ford Tempo–the one I bought my senior year in high school–and set out to my new job in Moscow, Idaho.  I was taking a break from college, re-evaluating my life, and it was already clear to me that being a receptionist in a small law firm was not going to be a long term option for me.  Only a few months in, and I was bored.

I flicked on the radio hoping some upbeat tunes would get me revved for another mind numbing day.  Instead, I got the news.  It took me a few moments to realize this wasn’t the usual ninety second update I listened to each morning between witty D.J. chatter and my favorite country songs.  This was breaking news.  The announcer kept speaking these incomprehensible sentences about towers being hit by planes.  I’d lived on the west side of the country my whole life, much of it out in the sticks on a beef ranch.  I had no idea what the World Trade Center was, but my ears perked up when he said the Pentagon had also been struck by a plane.  Not long after that, another plane skidded to a stop in a field.  What in the world was going on?  It was just to crazy to latch onto.

As I searched for an elusive downtown parking spot, I remembered my grandparents were somewhere on the East Coast.  Grandma had always dreamed of experiencing the famous fall colors, so they had driven their motor home across the country.  I was pretty sure the last I had heard, they were headed for New York.

Cold panic filled my stomach and my chest constricted with fear as I wiggled the Tempo into a barely big enough space.  That was the year I learned to parallel park.  I didn’t want to be crying when I entered the old house turned legal office, but I’d been holding the tears back while behind the wheel.  They were sliding freely from my eyes as I turned the front doorknob.

“Your mom is on the phone,” one of the legal secretaries said when she saw me.

I rattled off a quick explanation for her calling me at work, as if these people had no idea what was going on thousands of miles away.  When I picked up the phone, Mom told me my grandparents were safe–not even near New York City.  You see, when you have never been anywhere, you kind of just think the state of New York is New York City.

The morning passed in a blur.  I’m sure I copied, filed, transcribed dictation, and took calls.  It all seemed so meaningless.  Finally my lunch break rolled around, and I retreated to the empty conference room at the back of the house–formerly a dining room.

The television was on, and I forced myself to nibble at the food I’d packed at home.  All I wanted at that moment was to hide away with my husband in our cozy apartment.  Things would be all right there.  Images of air hazy with dust and battered people crossed the screen.  At one point the camera landed on a man crawling on his hands and knees.  His face was grimy, his suit a mess, but I could tell that hours before he’d been polished up for a day at the office.  He crawled beside a car, a small bit of shelter a midst the chaos and threw up.  I got up and switched off the TV.  I couldn’t take anymore.

A lot has changed in my life in the last twelve years.  I went back to school full-time less than a year after the events on September 11.  I had gained a lot of perspective that day.  I finished my degree.  Brett and I bought a house and had a daughter.  We have lived purposely each and every day, working toward our dreams.  Today I’m blessed to be home doing my dream job: raising our daughter and making a living as a writer.

I’m not the only one who has moved forward.  This country pulled together in a way I had never witnessed after 9/11, and has several times since.  We have fought wars and slogged our way through tough economic times, but despite life’s challenges America has still continued to thrive.  One nation, under God truly is indivisible, and there will be justice for all.

Cover Reveal: Possession by J. Elizabeth Hill

I am so proud to be on J. Elizabeth Hill’s street team!  As a member, I get the honor of helping her reveal the cover of her new book.  Enjoy!

Possession

 By J. Elizabeth Hill

 Cover Reveal And Giveaway

 Possession-J Elizabeth Hill -ebooksm

 Coming September 10, 2013

 Cover by Regina Wamba of MaeIDesign.com

 Possession

(Book 2 of the Mirrors of Bershan)

 Book Description

 “I never meant any of this, least of all for you to pay the price of my pride.”

After binding themselves to each other through their magic, Faylanna Derrion and Tavis journey back to her ancestral home, Iondis, intent on restoring the estate to its former beauty. From the moment they arrive, they find the secret horrors of the place aren’t exhausted yet.

Faylanna finds an old journal of her father’s, one that shakes her understanding of her own past. Worse, Faylanna and Tavis are both nearly killed when attacked by one of the men set to guard the Ninth Mirror of Bershan, still residing at Iondis. In the aftermath, he disappears with the newly-found journal. Sure there is more to this event than they know, Faylanna and Tavis return to the capital, Rianza, for help.

More secrets await them there, ones kept for years by people Tavis never suspected. When the truth is revealed, it alters his present and future completely. Can he rise to the challenges this new fate presents him with or will the change be more than he can handle?

The truths each learn about themselves and those they thought they knew will test Faylanna and Tavis’ love for each other. Will they be able to endure the pain and chaos they face, or will it tear them apart?

 ADD IT ON GoodReads

 Haven’t met Faylanna and Tavis? BOUND is on sale! You can pick up the ebook for only 0.99!

 Bound Cover-Smaller

 BOUND

(Book 1 of the Mirrors of Bershan)

 Book Description

 “Doesn’t she know you can’t do real magic alone?”

 Faylanna Derrion’s graduation from the Voleno Academy is marred by her father’s demand that she return to the family estate, Iondis. He refuses to accept her decision not to bind herself to another Magicia in an unbreakable partnership, insisting she must do so with his help. No one understands her need to prove she can succeed on her own.

Then her mentor and his partner are taken before her eyes by a terrible darkness, forcing her to flee, even as her father’s soldiers try to force her to go home. On her journey to find help, she meets Tavis, a farmer in search of his mother, who she can’t manage to refuse. The revelation that he’s a novice Magicia causes Faylanna to question everything she’s believed.

At the same time, a dream that’s haunted her since childhood begins to change and the unknown man in it calls to her. His words are sweet but she’s not quite willing to believe he’s anything more than a dream, until she can’t deny it.

As secrets are revealed and events unfold, will Faylanna hold to her solitary path or will she choose the one that now beckons her with new possibilities?

 

Amazon.com

KoboBooks

Barnes & Noble

 About the Author

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Julie Elizabeth Hill exported herself to Vancouver, British Columbia after many years of staring longingly at the map following every snowfall. For as long as she can remember, she’s been making up stories, but it wasn’t until high school that someone suggested writing them down. Since then, she’s been hopelessly in love with story crafting, often forgetting about everything else in the process.

Contact:

Twitter – @jlizhill

Blog –  http://jelizabethhill.wordpress.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/J-Elizabeth-Hill/345946002103430

Cover Reveal Giveaway