I’m beyond thrilled to announce that my YA contemporary novel VALEDICTIONS will be published by Blink/HaperCollins in May 2017.   I can’t wait to share Tatum’s story with you!


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Thank you SO much to everyone who has supported me on this journey.  I am incredibly grateful.

On Compassion

On Compassion

Not writing/book related, but something I needed to say.

This week, I learned that a beloved coworker passed away.  It was unexpected–but also not–and brought up a whole flurry of thoughts and emotions about compassion and how we show it–or not–to others.

I sat 10 feet from my friend for 8 years.  We bantered back and forth throughout the day, everyday.  Her position allowed her to be something of a renaissance woman and because we worked in a school, she was often the first person to greet an anxious family or a crying child as they came into our office.  She was well known among students, parents, faculty, alumni, community members and random visitors because she loved everyone.  She treated every single person with the same unfailing kindness and had a special place in her heart for the kids who seemed to need a little extra attention.  She had a wicked sense of humor, would argue with anyone about her favorite sports teams, was a voracious reader of all books, and refused to get a cell phone until about a year ago because she just didn’t see the point.

Seeing her empty desk makes my heart fold in on itself every time I walk past it now.  Not only because I miss her terribly, but because, as is often the case with people we love, she was battling personal demons, more than she ever let on.  And there were people in her life who either chose to ignore her struggles or who consciously made them worse for her.  To find this out after the fact has broken my heart so many times this week.  I wish there was more I could have done for her, but I am at peace knowing without a doubt that she knew I cared about her.

I guess the point of my saying this is to remind myself that compassion is important.  Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, even when it makes you uncomfortable, can make a lifetime of difference for someone else.  You don’t often know what kind of home an acquaintance/coworker/friend goes to each night, or what kind of family they came from, or what happened to them in their pasts.  Many people only show you what they want you to see.  But if you show someone compassion no matter what, if you demonstrate that you care about them, then even for a few minutes they will feel loved and important.  And those moments could change someone’s life.

The Season For Writing

The Season For Writing


Now that the leaves are slowly beginning to change color and the nights are getting cooler and darker, I’m feeling the itch I’ve felt for the last four years now:  the need to make words.  I always feel the need to write, but it is a thousand percent stronger when autumn rolls in.

True story–I always wanted to write a book but never had the guts to do it.  One year my work load was a little lighter than usual in the fall and the evenings normally spent writing recommendation letters were miraculously free.  So of course I decided to write a full length novel instead of binge watching TV like normal people.  I signed up for NaNoWriMo, labored for that month, and won.  And now every fall, those same feelings of needing to be creative when there’s a chill in the air come back to me with a vengeance.  I love it.

Here are a few of my favorite fall/writing things:

  1. Flavored coffee:  I wasn’t a coffee drinker before I started writing.  Like, at all.  And somehow it’s become a necessity.  I associate Panera’s hazelnut coffee with fall and writing, but I also enjoy a pumpkin spice latte every once in a while.
  2. Scented candles:  I love candles in any season but especially in the fall and especially fall scents.  Pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, leaves, etc.  I made my annual pilgrimage to buy my stockpile last weekend and I also replenished my wall air freshener thingy replacements in fall flavors for my office.  It must smell correct to put me in the creative mood.
  3. Pumpkin Spice Rooibos:  I found this at Trader Joe’s after one of my CP’s was raving about it.  We drank buckets of it on November retreats and I can’t even smell it without feeling like I need to write.      
  4. Wrist warmers:  I tried these last year for the first time and after writing 75 recommendation letters following immediately by a 78K word book, they were lifesavers at relieving the wrist pain.
  5. Retreats:  I’ve been on two fantastic retreats in the last few years with my lovely writer friends where we were almost completely off the grid.  Beautiful scenery, cool air, fuzzy boots and big sweaters, a roaring fire, fellowship and lots and lots of words.IMG_8871
  6. NaNoWriMo:  I love NaNo more than I can say.  It was the experience that taught me I can do anything I put my mind to and I’m gearing up for my fourth year.  I even sponsor the NaNo club at my school.  I’m gleefully plotting in October for a book I already love, so bring it on!

Fall is also my birthday season but I am MUCH more excited about writing than getting another year older.

I know I’m not the only writer who gets jazzed by fall – what other fall things make you want to create?

RSW Wrap-Up

RSW Wrap-Up

I’m working my way through Ready, Set Write! this summer 🙂    

ANDDDDDD it’s over!  I can’t believe we started this 12 weeks ago and those weeks are gone.  The summer flew by so quickly.  I’m back at work and already counting the days till next summer so we can do this all over again.


Here are my original goals l set back in June and how I did on them:


1.  Finish drafting current WIP.  It’s a little more than half done, so I’m shooting for being done with the first draft by mid-July.  I did finish my draft!  It was July 30 I believe, but I got it done.

2.  Revise and polish said WIP until it’s just right.  Almost.  I was about a day or two away from being done and ready to send to readers when I changed directions.  I added in a little twist and am only a few days away now from finishing that up.

3.  Revise and polish an older draft.  Bust.  I didn’t do this, but I DID send it to a new reader and hope to make this my pre-NaNoWriMo project.

4.  Write 35 college recommendation letters.  I wrote 12.  This is actually okay.  I’m pretty fast at writing them at work and 23 isn’t that many in the grand scheme of things.  Doable.

5.  Make healthy choices.  End of July I started the 21 Day Fix, which I enjoyed and saw some results from.  I’ve taken a few weeks off since finishing and plan to start round 2 next week.  It’s good for me as it preaches portion size, eating the right amount of calories (more than I’m used to), and uses daily workouts with weights.  This should be easier once I’m in my new routine.


All in all, a positive and productive summer.  Something I didn’t anticipate was prepping my WIP for contests.  I’ve entered one and will enter another next week.  This is an exciting new adventure for me and I’m interested to see how it all turns out,


A big thank you to all the hosts–this was really fun and so good for accountability.  Can’t wait for next summer!!


RSW Week 12

RSW Week 12

I’m working my way through Ready, Set Write! this summer 🙂    

This update is coming to you from my office at work.  Summer is gone gone gone.  

Week 12 Update:

1.  How I did on last week’s goals:  Well, that was a bust.  I wrote exactly one rec letter, so not the 5 I wanted.  I’m at 11 total, 25 or so to go before they need to start being mailed out, but it’s very manageable now that I’m back at school.

I DID begin to revise my manuscript, wrote some new backstory on the hook I decided to go with, and revised 3 chapters with the hook added in.  I think it’s going to be more work than I originally anticipated but I believe it’s the right thing to do.

2.  My goal(s) for this week:  5 letters done.  Shouldn’t be hard, now that my butt is back in my desk chair.

Revise more of WIP.  Spoke with my agent this week about next steps and we’re not going to sub it, but I’m going to ready it for contests.  There’s one with a deadline of less than 2 weeks from now, so that’ll be my goal.

Marinate on the next book.  Agent and I agreed on the next 3 (!!!!) books to move forward with and while I’ve got the hooks, I don’t have the characters or much of the plots, so I’ve got to think on those.  Once I figure out the first book’s details, I’ll write a synopsis and hopefully work on it for NaNoWriMo.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

New words!  This is my female MC, in a flashback, meeting with a fortune teller.

Freya smiled with one eyebrow up and put her other hand over top of mine. “I will tell you everything I see for you, okay?” I smiled nervously at her and nodded. There was something kind in her pale blue eyes and in the sum total of thirty seconds she’d been holding my hand, I felt like I could trust her. “There is a theme to your life, Phoebe.” I shivered when she said my name, even though it was sweltering hot outside. “You are meant to make others happy. You like to put pieces together and make something that is bigger than the pieces.” Freya eyed me and cocked her head to the side. “You’re close with your family, yes?”

“Yes,” I squeaked out.

“You are also like them, in mind and heart. That won’t change.” I smile. I couldn’t imagine being unlike my family.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write):  Psyching myself up for going back to work put a damper on productivity.  I’m finding that giving myself small deadlines–the end of the week, a couple of days, etc.–is helpful.  I work better under pressure.

5.  Something I love about my WiP:   I love my new hook.  I think it really grounds my female MC and gives her a purpose she didn’t have before.

How did YOU do?

Summer Reading Round-Up

Summer Reading Round-Up

On the official last day of my summer vacation *cries* I’m sharing what I’ve read over the last two months.


This is my sad no-more-summer face.

It’s been a great summer for books and I’m proud of myself for branching out of my little YA contemporary bubble.


Here’s what I really enjoyed, in no particular order:

One Night by AJ Pine – loved the chemistry between the main characters, this one was so sweet.

Stealing Parker and Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally – I read her series backwards and I think Stealing Parker is my new favorite.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – SO funny.  And now I want to go to Singapore and eat all the street food.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – did not live up to the hype for me, but it did keep me interested until the end.  Very readable despite unlovable characters.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan – so much love for this one.  REALLY long but worth it.

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas – Finally got around to this one.  I enjoyed it but again, not as much as I expected, given the hype.  Figured out the ending ahead of time.

Sweet by Emmy Layborne – this was so disturbing and so much fun.  You really have to suspend your disbelief.  Loved it.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen – not my favorite SD book, but I think the storyline about unwanted affection was so so important and I’m glad it’s in there.

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler –  a tough read, but also important.  We need more books about the bystander.

Loving Dallas by Caisey Quinn – enjoyed this one, it’s frothy fun.  Looking forward to the 3rd book soon!

Taste The Heat by Rachel Harris – another book that made me hungry!


RSW Week 11

RSW Week 11

I’m working my way through Ready, Set Write! this summer 🙂    


And as of this Friday, my summer is officially over.  In terms of words, it’s been an incredibly productive summer.  I wrote a story I love with characters I adore, and really, what more can a girl ask for?


Week 11 Update:


1.  How I did on last week’s goals:  Well, my goal was to find the “bigger hook” for my manuscript, which I’m not sure I did, but since all of this publishing business is subjective, it’s possible someone will think I did.  🙂  I revised exactly zero words but I spent a LOT of time thinking and plotting and letting ideas simmer.  I’m content with the decision I’ve decided to go in, so that’s something.

I also worked on finding hooks for other ideas I have brewing, or for things I’ve got 1st drafts on that need revisions, and came up with several one-two line pitches for them.  A few are really standing out and talking to me, so one will most likely become this year’s NaNo project.

I completed 8 recommendations letters, better than my goal of 5, so yay!  I’m at 10 total.

I’ve now completed one round of the 21 day fix, which I enjoyed but did not stick with 100%, particularly this last weekend.  I may have fallen off the wagon, but it won’t be hard to get back into the routine starting today and this is definitely something I can make happen while I’m back at work full time.

2.  My goal(s) for this week:  Same as last week – revise the manuscript and write 5 letters.  I go back to work Friday (who makes employees return on a Friday?!) so it’ll be a challenge.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

I got nothing for ya this week in terms of new words.  Here’s a pitch, though, for a story that’s already written and needs some cleaning up.

When a state championship-bound swimmer catches his coach, who happens to also be his future sister-in-law, taking advantage of a new teammate, he must decide whether telling is worth ripping his team and his family apart.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write):  Always me.  This was the week my brain decided to actually take a vacation.  I watched a lot of bad TV, read some books, went shopping, but did not crack the WIP at all.  I figure since I worked my butt off every other week since the end of June, I probably needed and deserved the break.

5.  Something I love about my WiP:   This is more in general, but I love that when I finish something I love, my brain presents me with another idea.  I’m always terrified that I won’t be able to keep this up, that the ideas will just dry up, but so far, that hasn’t been the case.  And this time around?  I’ve been hit with about 5 new ideas so now the problem is just picking one.

How did YOU do?

RSW Week 10

RSW Week 10

I’m working my way through Ready, Set Write! this summer 🙂  


Week 9 Update:


1.  How I did on last week’s goals:  Last week, my goal was the revise my recently completed YA contemp manuscript.  I got about halfway through and had all the intentions of finishing when my agent and I had a discussion about it needing a bigger hook to move forward with it.  So I paused revisions and have been plotting ever since.

I completed a whopping 2 recommendation letters, so not the 3 I was hoping for.

I also fell off the wagon a little with the 21 day fix, but stress will do that to you.

2.  My goal(s) for this week:  Honestly, the only thing I care about right now is finding the elusive “bigger hook.”  I *think* I’m on the right track with an idea that will still tell the story I want to tell, but makes it a lot more interesting.  I’ve got a little less than 2 weeks until school starts, so at least having a direction and making some progress before then would be nice.

I need to have at least 5 letters done this week.

And I’d like to stay on the 21 day fix plan as best as I can this week.  This is week 3, gotta finish strong.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

This is THE END.  I don’t think it will be changing.

Theo slings an arm over my shoulder and scoots my chair, with me on it, close enough so our hips touch. “You know what Pop would say if he were here right now?”

I smile into Theo’s shoulder. “What would that wise wise man say?”

“He would ask us why we’re not eating cake right now.”

I laugh. “Then let’s go get some cake.”


4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write):  Myself, completely.  I get so emotionally attached to what I’ve written that changing gears is really difficult for me, even if I know in my head that it’s totally the right thing to do.  I tend to react immediately, and personally, when I really need to take a few days and marinate and wait for all the pieces to click together.  This happened to me with the book I got my agent with–I completely changed the ethnicity of a central family in the book and it altered, IMO, the whole feel of the book and made it much more universal.  But it took me a long time and waiting for mental clarity to come to that conclusion.  Hoping that the direction I’d like to go in is the right one this time too.

5.  Something I love about my WiP:   That this new idea, this “hook,” might just make it what it’s supposed to be.

How did YOU do?

RSW Week 9

RSW Week 9

I’m working my way through Ready, Set Write! this summer 🙂  

In depressing news, it’s now August and my simmer officially implodes in 3 weeks.  So sad.

Week 8 Update:

1.  How I did on last week’s goals:  My only goal last week was to FINISH THE BOOK!  Which, thankfully, I did 🙂  Thursday I typed THE END on my contemporary dual POV YA novel LIFE IS WHAT HAPPENS and was so mentally exhausted afterwards, I flopped down on the couch and watched a few hours of truly embarrassing reality TV.  As one does.

Last week I mentioned I was going to try and branch out into writing WF, so I also typed up 2 fake query letters for ideas to send to my agent at some point.  The one keeps swirling and I plotted a little, picked out a few names, researched location, so that may be the keeper.

I also made is through the first week of the 21 Day Fix!

2.  My goal(s) for this week:  Start revisions on WIP.  I am historically a terrible reviser.  I’m really good at compartmentalizing and emotionally packing things away when they’re done, so going back and changing things is really difficult for me.  My brain keeps saying “But this is how it happened.  It’s already over. ”  I am grateful for my CPs and betas who can show me otherwise.  

I also want  play with a first chapter for one of my WF ideas, which I am lovingly calling the Dead Ex-Boyfriend Book, at the moment.

And *grumble grumble* I need to face the reality of recommendation letters.  I haven’t even looked at my materials to start writing them, so I should perhaps think about changing that.  A low bar – 3 letters done this week.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

Her white dress hugs her curves in all the right places and stops at her knee, showing off the legs I’ve been admiring for months. Her shit-kicker heels make her almost my height and I wonder how she can walk in them, but I’m glad, more than glad, she’s wearing them. They’re shiny and red and I hope she never takes them off. I move my eyes from her feet all the way up past the little white blazer to the top of her head. Her long hair is down and falls around her shoulders and right on top, like a cherry on a sundae, is a sparkly princess crown. I laugh to myself. Phoebe looks exactly like a dominatrix’s sweeter sister. Just as deadly, but she’ll kick your ass with a smile on her face.

And she is smiling at me.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write):  Actually getting through the end scenes I’ve had in my head for months was more of a challenge than I imagined.  I will miss these characters!

5.  Something I love about my WiP:   It makes me laugh and makes me cry.

How did YOU do?

RSW Week 8

RSW Week 8


I’m working my way through Ready, Set Write! this summer 🙂  How are we starting week 8 already?!?! 

Week 7 Update:

1.  How I did on last week’s goals:  So last week was all about busting my butt and writing as many words as I could.  In 3 days, I wrote just over 10,000 words, which is a recent record for me.  I’ve been doing dribs and drabs for months, so it felt good to really bang some words out and to know that I CAN produce if I push myself.  I was fully exhausted, but I did it.  I really wanted to have the draft done but I’m 2 or 3 scenes short of the end.  Not to worry, I will get it done this week for sure.

Last week was also successful because I got to meet my amazing agent in person for the first time at RWA, where I did not attend the conference but had a good time checking out the hotel and hanging out in New York for the second time this month. She was, as expected, super lovely and I was reminded of how lucky I am to have her on my side.  We decided that my book that’s been out on sub for almost a year is going to get shelved for the moment, I’ll continue with current WIP and hopefully ready that for sub in the near future, and I’ll play around with writing women’s fiction.  I’ve got 2 ideas that need some marinating and she likes both of them, thankfully.  Perhaps this year’s NaNo project if I can work out what I want to write.  While the idea of switching age groups is a little scary, it certainly opens up a new range of experiences I can tap into.

2.  My goal(s) for this week:  Finish the WIP.  However many words that takes.  Less than 5K, I think.  Also, today I start the 21 Day Fix, so another goal is to stick with the plan.  I like that there’s so much community built in to the program so I’m hopeful I’ll be able to follow through.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

There is nothing that prepares you for losing the person you love the most in the world.  The person who loves you the most.  Sure, the proverbial “they” always talk about having a hole in your heart but losing Pop just confirms that that idea is complete bullshit.  It’s not a hole.  It’s like someone fired a Revolutionary War style cannon into my heart and ripped it clean out of my body.  A gaping cavern where my heart used to be and the rest of my important life-sustaining parts ready to jump rather than go down with a sinking ship.  The appropriate term would be gutted.  I am gutted that Pop is gone and I will never see him again.


4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write):  Not much.  I was determined to beat the distractions and I did.  Now to keep up the momentum…..

5.  Something I love about my WiP:   As is probably obvious from the excerpt, I killed a character this week.  And the minute I wrote the words where he died, I started crying.  I’m hoping that emotional attachment is felt by the reader as well.

How did YOU do?