Hello, World! (again)

Hi, everyone! It’s hard to believe it has been a year since my last post. Time really does fly when you’re having fun, and let me tell you, I’ve been having SO MUCH FUN working on new books.

ICYMI, 2020 is going to be a big year for me. I am so thrilled  to have TWO picture books releasing in the next year—EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY ELLA (Amicus Ink Feb.25) illustrated by the phenomenal Luciana Navarro Powell

Ella cover


and SUPERHEROES DON’T BABYSIT (Beaming Books, June 2) illustrated by the amazingly talented Kyle Reed

Superheroes cover


— along with the first two titles in a yet-to-be-announced board book series.

In the next few months, I’ll be sharing more about each book, so stay tuned!

Susanna Hill’s 8th Annual Halloweensie Contest

It’s time again for Susanna Hill’s annual Halloweensie writing contest! This will be my first time participating (I know! How did I go so long?!) and even though the rules are simple– come up with a Halloween story appropriate for kids 12 and under that is 100 words or less and features the words howl, shiver, and cauldron— it wasn’t easy!

There’s still time to enter! For more information on Susanna’s fun writing contest, and to check out all the other amazing stories, head over to Susanna’s Blog.

Without further ado…..

WITCHES BREW (98 words)


Cauldrons boil, pop, and bubble.

 Busy witches making trouble.

Capers in the pale moonlight

 can raise a monster appetite.

What’s a wicked witch to do?

Conjure up a Witches Brew.

Dragon scales and candy corn.

Twisted horn of unicorn.

Beetles, batwing, macaroon.

Sing a howling, haunting tune.

Garnish with a pickled liver.

Pour in bowls and with a shiver,

Call your ghouls, it’s time to eat.

Round the cauldron take a seat.

Once they’re done it might be swell,

to cast a little clean up spell!

It’s time for taking witchy flight

and soar beneath the moonlit night.


I hope you enjoyed my little story. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and Happy Halloween!






ARC REVIEW: Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman


Retribution Rails (Vengeance Road)

When Reece Murphy is forcibly dragged into the Rose Riders gang because of a mysterious gold coin in his possession, he vows to find the man who gave him the piece and turn him over to the gang in exchange for freedom. Never does he expect a lead to come from an aspiring female journalist. But when Reece’s path crosses with Charlotte Vaughn after a botched train robbery and she mentions a promising rumor about a gunslinger from Prescott, it becomes apparent that she will be his ticket to freedom—or a noose. As the two manipulate each other for their own ends, past secrets are unearthed, reviving a decade-old quest for revenge that may be impossible to settle.In this thrilling companion to Vengeance Road, dangerous alliances are formed, old friends meet new enemies, and the West is wilder than ever.





I was absolutely thrilled when the news dropped that Erin Bowman was writing a companion novel to her stunning YA Western, VENGEANCE ROAD. I waited eagerly for the cover reveal (THAT COVER!!) and the first two chapters, and waited even more impatiently for ARCS to appear on Edelweiss. Thankfully, HMH approved me and I dug right in.


Guys, I INHALED Retribution Rails. I read the book in a little under two days. I’m generally a quick reader but I’d been struggling with a reading slump for the past few months and Retribution Rails was like the clearest, purest, sweetest water to my parched reading soul. I was transported to the wild west from page one with Erin’s vivid writing. It was glorious to return to her world of gunslingers and farmsteaders, outlaws and lawmen, proper folk and…not so proper folk!


Retribution Rails picks up approximately ten years after Vengeance Road and though it is in the same world, we are introduced to a completely new cast of characters with their own story to be told.


I adored Reece Murphy’s character. He was so entirely human and flawed. He was constantly at war with himself, weighing each sin committed in the name of the Rose Riders against his inherent goodness. He wore those sins like a yoke, but refused to let them completely stain his soul even though that would have been so much easier.


Charlotte Vaughn on the other hand was insufferable. She was strong-willed and absolutely certain of what constituted wrong and right. Erin did a fabulous job throughout the story with Charlotte’s character arc and though Charlotte was not my favorite character, her cunning, bravery, and loyalty were hard to deny. In a world where women were treated as second class citizens, Charlotte Vaughn was a force!


It was so much fun to revisit places from Vengeance Road and reconnect with familiar characters. Sorry to be vague, but that was my absolute favorite part of Retribution Rails!


Also, can we talk about the writing itself? Erin’s knowledge of cowboy vernacular and old west slang made this book. From her world building to character development, you feel like you are part of the story. There are so many amazing passages and one liners!


I loved this book and can’t encourage you to pick up both Vengeance Road and Retribution Rails enough.  And if you do, saddle up for a rollicking wild ride!

(You’ll thank me!)


Second chances and how I got my agent

Writing is hard. Working to become a published author is even harder.

When I first started this blog, it was to gush all things books while sharing my own publishing journey. I had just signed with my first agent and was filled with excitement and anticipation. This was it! I had made it through the query trenches! I was on my way to fulfilling my dream of becoming a published author!

As the rejections piled on, I had to keep reminding myself that at least I was in the game. Editors were seeing my work! I received many lovely rejections and had several close calls. I adhered to all the advice: just keep writing, when something isn’t working, start a new manuscript, the only difference between a published writer and an unpublished writer is time and determination. I even wrote a guest blog post on patience in publishing.

But over the course of just shy of two years, the rejections began to weigh me down. That terrible little voice began to whisper my biggest fears: what if you’re not good enough?

In the fall of 2016, I made one of the biggest/scariest decisions of my life. I had to take a step back from publishing and that meant breaking ties with my agent.  At first it was a relief and I thought, I tried and failed, but at least I tried! I kept writing, even though I told myself it didn’t matter.(Who was I kidding?)  I think I was in shock because soon enough, the emotions hit me like a brick wall. The doubts began to creep in, mingled with the tears. What had I done? I had an agent! Was I crazy for letting that go? What if I never got back to that place again?

Thankfully, I had an amazing support group that continued to encourage me and lift me up. They helped me polish new manuscripts and after about four months, I felt strong enough to try again. I couldn’t shake the desire to become published, the desire to write. When anyone asks me why I write for children, I always answer that there is something magical about introducing a child to the love of reading. I couldn’t let that go.

So I polished my query and with tentative hopes, sent it off. Rejections came, but imagine my surprise when over the course of a few months, four agents asked to see more work! I was delighted! More rejections came, but that was ok because I was still riding the high of four agents being interested in my work! (That had never happened before!)

Then after #PBPitch in February, I saw the news that an editor with Simon and Schuster was making the move to BookEnds Literary and was looking for authors. I did a bit of research and really liked what I saw.  I sent a picture book query and held my breath.

Not too long after, I received an email saying that she was intrigued by the query and requested that I submit the entire manuscript. I did and was shocked to receive a second email saying that she loved the manuscript and could we set up a time for a call. THE CALL!

I was in a daze! A literary agent had connected with my story and loved it! Could it be true? Fit is so important when it comes to an agent and even though I was insanely nervous, when we chatted, Natascha checked every box. I was thrilled to accept her offer of representation and join #TeamNat!

I am so grateful for second chances and look forward to what this new journey in publishing brings.



ARC Review: Jonah by Nikki Kelly

jonahJonah (The Styclar Saga #3)

The conclusion of the Styclar Saga trilogy focuses on Jonah, the vampire badboy with a hunger for Lailah and a rivalry with the angel Gabriel.

Jonah is the vampire who saved Lailah from the appetites of even darker evil: the vampire Purebloods. Now he must decide whether he will give up his existence so that Lailah will survive—even if it means that she will spend eternity with his friend and rival, the angel Gabriel.

This stunning conclusion to the Styclar Saga will have fans deciding once and for all: Team Jonah or Team Gabriel?



What an amazing ending to an amazing trilogy! Be prepared, Nikki Kelly will rip your heart out and hand it back with no apologies. But the end is worth the pain, I promise!

In Jonah, we start off with a gorgeously written re-imagining of Creation and the Garden of Eden. It is here that we finally learn the truth of how the Dimensions, and all that exist within, came into existence.

We quickly pick up right where we left off in Gabriel. Lailah has picked her ship and she’s determined to see him saved, even if it means sacrificing her own life to the third dimension. Lailah is prepared to die in order to seal the rifts between the third dimension and earth and save everyone that she loves, after she saves Jonah. Too bad Jonah wasn’t on board with the plan.

Paraded around as The Savior, Lailah struggles with reconciling her two halves: angel and demon, and what it means to be truly human. And only a chance meeting with an old friend who knows her only as Cessie, does she gain the clarity she desperately needs.

The end, guys… the end is as brutally beautiful as a butterfly’s wings. But it’s perfect.

I have been a fan of Nikki Kelly and The Styclar Saga since day one and cannot get enough of these characters.  I have unabashedly proclaimed my love for Gabriel and will ship him and Lailah until the day I die. However, I have nothing but love for Jonah  and I think it really says something for the character development throughout all three books.

I will miss the characters and the world that Nikki Kelly so intricately created and if you haven’t read The Styclar Saga yet, what are you waiting for???



New Imprint Alert! Introducing Spork!

Hi everyone! Today I have Callie Metler-Smith on the blog to talk about her new publishing imprint, Spork!


Callie Metler-Smith is the owner of Clear Fork Media Group in Stamford, Texas. She has owned the Stamford American since 2009 and Clear Fork Publishing since 2014. When not working on her corner of the Stamford Square, she is spending time with her husband, Philip and two sons, Logan and Ben.

Spork is the Children’s Book Division and an imprint of Clear Fork Publishing. Spork was launched in conjunction with the imprint’s first book MY BIG TREE by Maria Ashworth and illustrated by Bailey Beougher. Callie was kind enough to stop by and answer a few questions for me!

TJR: What inspired you to launch Spork.

C: I wanted to create a line of unique books for children. The number of children focused presses has declined over the last few years. I have always loved children’s books and after working with Steven Moore on Theodore Thumbs I felt like I had found my calling.

TJR: What is the biggest challenge for your press since Spork launched? 

C: Having a publishing company is mainly about numbers. Making sure that the printing cost, the author’s compensation, and the overhead are all taken care of. You want to get the best product for the best prices.

TJR: How has running an independent press allowed you to take on varied projects?

C: The great thing about owning my own press is that I get to work with the people and projects I believe in. I have taken on some very unique projects that unlike anything else I have seen.

TJR: What are some of your personal favorite titles?

C: I love The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce. I am also a big fan of Fancy Nancy, Junie B. Jones, and David Shannon’s Duck on a Bike.

TJR: How do you determine what stories are print worthy and is there anything in particular you’d love to see in your submission box?

C:  I look at how unique the title is and how the submission process goes with the author. It is a package deal, and I want to work with titles and authors that I feel like matches the vision of Spork. I would love to see more titles that are out of the box. I also would love to see more holiday titles, I always enjoyed reading Christmas and Easter stories to my boys when they were young.

A big thanks to Callie for stopping by!

In addition to MY BIG TREE, Spork recently launched its second book by author Maria Ashworth entitled IGGY LOO.

Gorgeously illustrated by Sunny Choi, IGGY LOO follows a penguin who wants more than anything to live outside of his snow globe. But when he gets his wish, Iggy Loo discovers that what he’s lost was more special than he ever imagined.

IGGY LOO is on sale everywhere books are sold and is sure to become a holiday favorite!





Be on the lookout for more great titles coming soon from this exciting new Press!

Cover Reveal: The Great Pursuit!!!!

I am so excited to be a part of the Cover Reveal for The Great Pursuit by Wendy Higgins!  The Great Hunt was easily my favorite book of 2016, and The Great Pursuit promises to be just as riveting and swoon worthy!  As the sequel to The Great Hunt and the final book in the Eurona Duology, The Great Pursuit is set to publish March 7, 2017 from Harper Teen!


Can’t wait that long?  Me either!  I promise to get to the cover reveal soon, and trust me guys, it’s GORGEOUS!  But in the meantime, check out this blurb for The Great Pursuit!



Lochlanach has traded the great beast for something far more terrible, a Lashed enemy veiled in beauty, deception, and a vengeance passed down through generations: Rozaria Rocato. And she’s offering the hunter Paxton Seabolt power and acceptance he could never receive in his homeland. Pax must decide how far he’s willing to go under her tutelage, knowing she is the opponent of Princess Aerity Lochson.

In a land where traditionalists dread change, the Lochlan throne must contend with mysterious foes and traitors, while attempting to keep revolt at bay. As dire circumstances strike the royal family, matters of the castle are left in Aerity’s hands. It’s time to put aside her fears and grasp the reign, taking actions that have the potential to save or destroy her people.

One hunt has ended, but the pursuit for love and justice continue. In this sequel to The Great Hunt from New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins, political intrigue and romance intensify in another thrilling fantasy. Princess Aerity embraces a quest for identity and passion before making the ultimate sacrifice for her kingdom.

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28370779-the-great-pursuit?ac=1&from_search=true


How fantastic does that sound???!!!  One of the reasons that The Great Hunt was my all time favorite read of 2016 was Princess Aerity. She was so strong and so self-aware, but she understood that strength sometimes takes sacrifice and I respect the heck out of her for being strong enough to accept the role forced upon her in The Great Hunt.  If you haven’t picked up The Great Hunt yet, I urge you to do so! And there’s not a better time to do so than right now because  The Great Hunt is currently on sale for $3.99!!!


Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Great-Hunt-Eurona-Duology/dp/B00ZP5IIPE/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1466598747&sr=8-1&keywords=the+great+hunt+by+wendy+higgins

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-great-hunt-wendy-higgins/1122135625?ean=9780062381354




Now, I’ve tortured you enough.  Who’s ready to see the gorgeous cover for The Great Pursuit? Just scroll down……… 🙂








































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TA DA!!!!!!!!



Do you love it???  I love it and cannot wait for this book!  If you love it too, let Wendy know!


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