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writing, when something isn’t working, start a new manuscript, the only difference between a published writer and an unpublished writer is time and determination.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?

~~REVIEW~~

 

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!

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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!

http://www.clearforkpublishing.com/our-store/iggy-loo/

https://www.amazon.com/Iggy-Loo-Maria-Ashworth/dp/099743709X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478817979&sr=8-1&keywords=iggy+loo

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/iggy-loo-maria-ashworth/1125072987?ean=9780997437096

iggy-loo

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!!!!!!!!

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

 

Wendy’s social media links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WendyHigginsWrites/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Wendy_Higgins

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wendyhigginswrites/

 

 

Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

21414439Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1)

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

~Review~

I have been hearing how great this book is for quite awhile now.  Normally, I’m a bit wary when it comes to a book surrounded by so much hype, but I’m happy to say Truthwitch deserves all the accolades!

The thought that kept going through my head while reading was, this book is SO clever!

It is clear that Susan Dennard spent a lot of time in creating the world of the Witchlands, and even more time in creating the magical system of the world.  And let me tell you, the magic is COMPLEX!

At first I was a bit put off by the fact that everybody, main character and secondary, had magical powers.

I’m definitely used to the school of magic where you had to “special” to have magic, therefore there weren’t many.

But the more I read Truthwitch, the more I could see just how absolutely brilliant Susan is!  The world in Truthwitch couldn’t function without so many people possessing a Witchery.  Sure there were some rarer forms of Witcheries, but for the most part, a Witchery was a utilitarian part of life.  Witches truly made the world go round in Truthwitch, from Tidewitches to Threadwitches to Wordwitches, and all the in between.

Susan’s creative genius doesn’t just stop at the world.  Her characters are fascinatingly flawed and multi-faceted.  Take Safi for example.  She was often unapologetically abrasive, creating mess after mess that her Threadfamily would then be forced to clean up for her.  But I loved her for that.  I loved that she was fiercely protective and would take on anyone for Iseult.  Her sharp tongue often made me chuckle, and though there were a few times when I thought, Really Safi?,  I continually found myself rooting for her.  My favorite thing about Susan’s characters is that they all fought to be better versions of themselves.

Now can we talk about the romance?  Susan Dennard has mastered the craft of the slow burn! The romance didn’t overpower the story, it wasn’t an us against them kind of thing.  It was organic and just as unpredictable as the people involved, and so beautifully written that it left me breathless!

If I had any complaint, it would be that, for me, there were no real surprises.  Well, one, but from that time on I pretty much knew what was coming.  But that’s ok for this story!  I wanted the characters to get to the place where I knew they’d end up, and I was happy to go along for the ride.

Truthwitch for me was a solid five stars.  Not just for the story, but for the time and attention Susan put into the story.  I look forward to see where she takes Safi and Iseult in the next book!

ARC Review: DNF A Study in Charlotte

 

23272028A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1)

The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John Watson–wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who’s inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.

Then a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Holmes stories, and Jamie and Charlotte become the prime suspects. Convinced they’re being framed, they must race against the police to conduct their own investigation. As danger mounts, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe and the only people they can trust are each other.

Equal parts tender, thrilling, and hilarious, A Study in Charlotte is the first in a trilogy brimming with wit and edge-of-the-seat suspense.

~REVIEW~

I had high hopes for this book, I mean, just look at that cover!  I loved the idea of a YA Sherlock and Watson. Unfortunately I DNF’d this book at chapter three.

I hear you asking, chapter three? Isn’t that a bit soon to decide whether you’ll like a book or not? Perhaps, but there were just some things I couldn’t get past.

The first being the setting.  Jamie and Charlotte’s story is set in Connecticut, not London.  Now both Jamie and Charlotte are English, but find themselves at a Prep School in Connecticut.  I would have much preferred to read a story set in England.

The second issue was that by the third chapter, there were so many drug/alcohol/sexual references– not to mention the F-bombs.  Oh look, the mayor’s daughter is buying drugs from the skeevy townie drug dealer, or, I bet all of Charlotte’s money is going up her nose.  I’m sure this is how the author believes that kids in an elite private school act, but for me it was very Cruel Intentions.

Get with the times Old Lady, Sherlock was a heroine addict! I hear ya,  I do.  But for me, these were just things I couldn’t get past.  They bother me and I don’t think they’re necessary for a good story.  BUT, that is just my opinion.   I know a lot of you are excited to read this book and probably won’t be bothered by the aforementioned things.  That’s great!  Even though A Study in Charlotte wasn’t my cup of tea, I hope that if you take the time to read it, you enjoy the story.

Waiting on Wednesday: ENDURE!!!

Waiting-on-Wednesday

 

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine,
which spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating!

This week I’m eagerly waiting on……

ENDURE by Sara B Larson

25440127Endure (Defy, Book 3) Hardcover – December 29, 2015

The remarkable third novel in Sara B. Larson’s bestselling Defy series!

At last, Alexa and King Damian are engaged to be married. But their lives are far from safe. The kingdom of Antion is under siege, and Rylan is a prisoner of the enemy. Even worse, Alexa remains at the mercy of the evil Dansiian Rafe, who controls her mind and can force Alexa to kill or harm Damian at any moment. Despite this, Alexa is determined to rescue Rylan, which soon leads her far from Damian and deep into enemy territory.

When she arrives, what awaits her is deadlier than anything she could have ever imagined: an army of black sorcerers, and a horrifying plot to destroy the world as Alexa knows it. Will she be able to gather the strength to free herself, protect the love of her life, and save the land? Will there ever be true peace?

Acclaimed author Sara B. Larson has woven a stunning, romantic, and evocative finale to the Defy trilogy, that is sure to leave readers breathless until the very last page.

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It has been awhile since I’ve done a Waiting on Wednesday, but I’m so excited for this book!  I can’t wait to delve back into Alexa’s world.  And the best part about it?  I only have a short time to wait!  Endure is being released December 29th!   Endure is definitely at the top of my Christmas list this year!