Sunday, December 29, 2013

Winter Fun: Sun Vs Snow Contest!

I'm so excited to be a mentor in Michelle Huack's and Amy Trueblood's Sun Vs Snow query and first page contest in January! It seems fitting to start off 2014 by paying forward some of the wonderful help that landed me my agent this year.

If you're a writer with a complete MS and you're interested in entering, details for the contest can be found on both Michelle's and Amy's blogs. Can't wait to read and critique the fabulous entries for Team Snow! Good luck everyone!!!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

EVER by Jessa Russo - Release Day Giveaway!

Happy Release Day, EVER! 

To celebrate EVER's rebirth, and Jessa Russo’s first step into the indie self-publishing world, she is giving you the first chapter of EVER for FREE! Yup! FREE! You can read along, decide if you want more, then click on one of the buy links below to grab a copy for yourself! *Paperbacks available soon!

Check out the FREE first chapter HERE

We're also having some fun on Twitter (details below), and Jessa has also compiled TWO prize packs of super awesome stuff! There will be one (1) lucky winner in the US, and one (1) lucky winner Internationally! Want to know what we’re giving away? 


The winner(s) will receive the following items:

US ONLY Prize Pack (ONE winner):
Set of 4: custom Frankie4Ever / Toby4Ever Coasters (2 of each) + Signed EVER bookmarks +
Signed paperback copy of EVER by Jessa Russo (YA)
Complete set* of The Darkness Falls Trilogy e-books from Krystal Wade (YA)
Signed paperback copy of EYRE HOUSE by Cait Greer (NA, adult content)
Paperback copy of THE CHARGE by Sharon Bayliss (YA)
Paperback copy of SEALED WITH A CURSE by Cecy Robson (A, mature content)

INTERNATIONAL Prize Pack (ONE winner):
E-book of EVER by Jessa Russo (YA)
Complete set* of The Darkness Falls Trilogy e-books from Krystal Wade (YA)
E-book of THE CHARGE by Sharon Bayliss (YA)
E-book of BROKEN FOREST by Eliza Tilton (YA)
E-book of THE VALENTINE CHALLENGE by Marisa Cleveland (A, mature content)
E-book of THE GATHERING DARKNESS by Lisa Collicutt (YA)
E-book of 1,000 SLEEPLESS NIGHTS by Connie Michael

a Rafflecopter giveaway | a Rafflecopter giveaway


We're also going to be tweeting a bit today, to celebrate not just EVER's re-release (hashtag: #EVERTrilogy), but also playing up a major theme of the book--Ever's love for her deceased best friend. We'll be tweeting the theme with the hashtag #IfICouldBringBack and then sharing who we would bring back and why, or what we'd do with them, etc.

So, sticking with EVER as my example, the main female character of the series may tweet something like this:

#IfICouldBringBack Frankie, I'd finally tell him the truth. That I've loved him since we were in diapers. #EVERTrilogy 

Who would you want to bring back? An old flame? A relative? Maybe a famous author or dignitary? Think about it and join in the fun on Sunday, 9/1/13! We'll see you on Twitter!


The EVER Trilogy, Book One 
By Jessa Russo
September 1, 2013

Seventeen-year-old Ever’s love life has been on hold for the past two years. She’s secretly in love with her best friend Frankie, and he’s completely oblivious. Of course, it doesn't help that he’s dead, and waking up to his ghost every day has made moving on nearly impossible. 

Frustrated and desperate for something real, Ever finds herself falling for her hot new neighbor Toby. His relaxed confidence is irresistible, and not just Ever knows it. But falling for Toby comes with a price that throws Ever’s life into a whirlwind of chaos and drama. More than hearts are on the line, and more than Ever will suffer.

Some girls lose their hearts to love. 
Some girls lose their minds.
Ever Van Ruysdael could lose her soul.

Jessa Russo's Links:

Stay tuned for the second book in the trilogy, EVADE, set to release on October 1st, 2013! 
You can now add EVADE on Goodreads!

Remember to follow EVER's 9/1/13 re-release day FUN on Twitter with these hashtags: 


Saturday, August 10, 2013

My First Piece of Fan-Art!

The lovely illustrator LL Tisdel has been offering character sketches for authors over on the WriteOnCon forums. You can check out the thread here if you want to try to get a sketch of your own character, and I'd encourage you to check out LL's gorgeous illustrations on her website.

Below is the drawing she did for me of Sirith- the main character in The Goblins' Price. She said she loves that Sirith has to rescue the prince, not the other way around; that's one of my favorite aspects of the story, too. :) Oh, and the background is Sirith in the wintry goblin pass. Too cool!

WIPMarathon Check-In #1!

Current word count:

I’m currently at 60,520 words, working off a detailed outline! I estimate the book will be a little over 80K when done, but I edit so extensively when I’m writing that it just feels like it’s taking ages to get there!

WIP issues this week:

‘Fear’, as I call it for short, is the most romance-heavy book I’ve written so far! The chapter I worked on this week is quite emotionally charged, with things going from blissful to disastrous for my MC and her sweetheart. He might not have been entirely honest with her about some things, and she hates lying, so… ;) Anyway, my progress was slow as I concentrated on making sure their emotions and reactions were conveyed properly, that I stayed true to their characters, and that the scenes had the impact I wanted.

What I learned this week in writing:

I learned that I had snuck a few too many adverbs into my first chapter—yuck! (They’re gone now. ;)) Enough said!

What distracted me this week while writing:

My mother in law is visiting. She’s from Michigan, and we’re in Virginia, so we really don’t get to see her much. I do wish I’d had more time to write this week, like I’d planned, but family comes first and we’ve been having a great visit! We went antiquing yesterday, and finding old treasures makes me really happy.

Oh, and one of my greyhounds wasn’t eating for days (poor, sweet Khaleesi!). There was a lot of time devoted to tempting her to get back on her kibble, even some bribing with treats, after the vet couldn’t find anything wrong.

Last 200 words:

Well, here goes. I don’t normally share my work, especially not excerpts (shy!), but I hope this is fun to read. In this scene, my MC, Bridey, is confronting the self-proclaimed 'witch', Morag:

“Come inside already, won’t you?” Morag snapped, drawing me out of my frenzied thoughts. “If you carry on watering the ground like that, I’ll have weeds cropping up all over the yard. And then you’ll have to pull them.”
Caught between another sob and a bubble of laughter, I hiccupped. “Thank you, but I should be going. I need to look for—”
“I heard you shouting through the door. I was under the impression you wanted to learn the true story of how my leg was ruined. And I have a tea that’ll calm your nerves.” Morag stepped aside, gesturing toward the dim interior of the cottage. “You don’t want to confront the boy while you’ve got a face like a boiled lobster.”
“Excuse me?” I rubbed one of my cheeks, which was warm to the touch.
“You heard me, lobster-girl. Come on in. If he cares a whit about you, he won’t have gone anywhere.”
I didn’t want to admit that Morag had a point, so I said nothing, and followed her inside.
She puttered around her kitchen, clinking dirty dishes together as she searched for clean mugs for tea.

*For more information about WIPMarathon, please go here. 
*To see other WIPMarathoner updates, go here.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Finding Inspiration: Swannanoa Mansion

As I've worked toward my weekly goal for the WIPMarathon, I've been thinking a lot about where I find inspiration for my books. One thing that really inspires me is visiting places so unique that I find myself making up characters who might have lived there, and pondering what their was. I love to read (and write) books with vivid, memorable settings.

This leads me to last weekend, when my husband and I joined my mom and sister for a little outing in Afton, VA. We spent the afternoon exploring Swannanoa Mansion, a beautiful old estate which, sadly, is falling into ruin. It's also supposedly haunted, another thing that fascinates and inspires me. You can read about the supposed haunting and explore evidence from a local paranormal group here. Despite some boisterous tourists, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and I was able to take some awesome photos. I hope you enjoy them!

Oh, and be assured that some of the features of this lovely place will show up in a future ghost story of mine... :)

From the front

Around the side- courtyard

Ghost in the hall! Or, you know, me ;)
One of the many gorgeous fireplaces inside

View from an upper window
As you can see, some parts were in complete disrepair

But overall...
The place is still stunning!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

WIPMarathon Intro

Hey everyone!

I'm so excited to be participating in the WIP Marathon happening on blogs/Twitter this month!  I know some of the other participants already, and they are wonderful writers-- in other words, I know I'm in great company!  August where I live is so hot and sticky, it's the perfect time to hide inside and get my lovely little WIP ready for my agent's eyes. :)

Marathon Goal:

Write the remaining chapters of my YA historical fantasy novel- nicknamed "Fear" for short- and make sure everything is as polished as can be before I send it to Christa!

Stage of Writing:

Writing the last 6 chapters from a detailed outline, plus start revising with CP and Beta feedback!  This book is first person POV, and I got a little-- okay, maybe more than a little-- filter-happy while writing! (I felt/I saw/I heard- ugh!)  They've all gotta go!!

What Inspired My Current Project:  

Fear the Drowning Deep is a YA historical fantasy novel that takes place at the turn of the last century- the year 1913, just after the first anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. 

This book started out with just my love of the ocean.  I looked at my husband one day and said, "I want to write something about the water!  And sea monsters!"  I sat down at my keyboard, and wrote the opening line that inspired the rest of the story.  The book's setting is the Isle of Man, which is a fascinating place steeped in folklore and tradition.  I've never been there, so this required a great deal of research, but I've been having a blast with it. 

My MC is terrified of the water, despite living on an island, and I understand where she's coming from- to an extent ;)  I hate how I can't see what's around me when I'm swimming in the Atlantic (will never forget the time a large crab got hold of my big toe...ouch!) and much prefer the crystal-clear waters in the Caribbean, where my family and I have traveled extensively!

What Might Slow Down My Marathon Goal:

Instead of words, how about a picture? ;)

 Enough said!  Happy writing, friends!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Pitch + 250 Contest Success Story

Hey all,

I just did a post for the ladies at Adventures in YA Publishing, talking about how I met my agent during their Pitch + 250 contest in May.  You can read the story here!

And if you're an unagented writer, I highly recommend you give the August Pitch + 250 contest a try... they start accepting entries tonight at 6pm Eastern.  Good luck!



Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Meet the Puppies!

While the intention of this blog is to share information about my writing journey,

I also love to talk about my puppies.  I thought I'd share a photo of each of my dogs to get it out of my system ;-)

First up are Romeo (also known as 'buddyman') and Julietta (AKA 'peanut').  R & J are Italian Greyhounds who spent the first 7 years of their life in a puppy mill.  Things were Really Bad for them.  They were rescued by the angels at Eve's Sanctuary Animal Rescue of Harlem, NY, and my then-fiancee/now husband and I adopted them in August of 2011- just two months before we got married!  We had NO IDEA what we were getting into... but our lives haven't been the same since, and I wouldn't change a thing.  R & J celebrated their 9th birthday in January by eating doggie ice cream and playing in their large, fenced yard!

Julietta (we also call her 'the Boss'! Such a diva.)

And now, let's talk about retired racing greyhounds!

While in the midst of adopting Romeo and Julietta, I was also bitten by the I-need-a-retired-racing-greyhound bug.  I read books about them.  I dragged my husband to local greyhound meet & greets.  I have always wanted to help as many dogs as we are financially (and time-wise) able to, and my very first dog, Lady, taught me to think adoption first.  Almost a year after adopting Romeo and Julietta, this time on the same weekend we moved into our first house, my husband and I adopted...

Khaleesi, an 8-year-old retired racer who loves her little Iggie (Italian Greyhound) siblings!

And then, just three months later, after deciding Khaleesi needed a friend...

Grimm came into our lives!  This big guy weighs over 80lbs. and is a total momma's boy.  He has SO MANY FEELS and loves hugs.

Thanks for reading about our happy family!

Monday, July 15, 2013

An Introduction, and Exciting News- How I Got My Agent!

I've been writing my whole life,

But about a year ago, I decided (with heaps of encouragement from my husband) that it was time to get serious about my craft!  I polished a high fantasy manuscript, revised it, and polished it again, then sent out queries to a carefully researched list of agents, and waited.  I got a few requests, and waited some more, but ultimately, nothing came of them.  I wondered things from, 'is the book not ready?' to 'is the book just terrible?'  I admit, I might've sulked for a few weeks, but then somehow, as all writers do, I got swept up in writing my next manuscript.

I took everything I had learned about writing quality YA and applied it to my new book, a ghost story called No Such Thing.  I polished this MS and began querying it in April of this year.  This book was met with a much higher request rate, but still... some stubborn part of me refused to give up on my high fantasy book!  I was so passionate about the world I'd built for it, the characters, the adventure... and I decided the problem lay with the query, not the story itself.

While querying No Such Thing, I entered it in several contests, and one in particular, hosted by the awesome folks at Savvy Authors, allowed each entrant to pitch up to two manuscripts.  So, I revamped the pitch for my fantasy book The Goblins' Price and submitted it as well.  A few weeks later, I checked back, and to my surprise and delight, an agent named Christa Heschke had requested not just my ghost story, but The Goblins' Price as well!!  I was ecstatic.  I had heard nothing but wonderful things about Christa, and further research about her confirmed her awesomeness; we had similar taste in books!

Just a few days later, I entered the May + 250 Pitch Contest hosted by two fabulous ladies, Martina & Jan, at Adventures in YA Publishing.  I was thrilled and humbled to be included in the top 10 finalists, and was even happier when Jan emailed me to let me know that Christa wanted to see more of No Such Thing.  She already had some pages from the Savvy Authors contest, but I emailed her again with the requested pages, not wanting to lose the wonderful opportunity.

To make a long story short- about a week and a half ago, I got my first agent offer of representation for No Such Thing.  I wound up with 4 agent offers total, but it was my most recent offer-- the one from Christa-- that I accepted!  Christa's enthusiasm, professionalism, knowledge, and warmth make her the best possible agent in my book.  The one I really hoped would want to work with me.  She enjoyed my ghost story, but even better, she's also passionate about my high fantasy novel and the other ideas I have in the works!  I know we're going to accomplish great things together, and I'm so excited for the days ahead!!

Here I am this afternoon, signing my contract with Christa and M & O!  The blacked-out text is my SSN- no need to share that much info. with everyone ;-)

Well, thank you so much for reading this far!  Oh, and if anyone would like me to post query stats (how many queries I sent for No Such Thing, the request rate, and so on...), please comment to let me know.  I'd be happy to do so!