About Michelle K. Pickett, author

I write across genres in the young adult and new adult age groups. I'm usually always found wearing a hoodie and eating copious amounts of peanut butter M&Ms while writing.

All about Helping…

This month our topic was, well, there was no topic. It’s a “freebie” month. Scene13ers get to blog about anythingFirst Cover Reveal!they want. Well, normally I don’t like freebies. I freeze. I over-think until I can’t think. I stress myself out to the point that my stress is stressed. But this month something really great happened and I want to share.

Last month I shared that I signed a contract to publish my first young adult contemporary romance, “Unspeakable.” Now I have a novella, “Finding Willow,” releasing, too. But as great as that is, it’s not what I want to write about.

When I wrote my debut novel, “PODs,” I knew nothing about the writing community. I didn’t use critique partners or Betas—I didn’t know what a Beta was! I had no idea there were bloggers that lived to review books, nor did I know how many there were.

But writing “Unspeakable” I had a group of ladies who read my work and told me honestly what worked, what they liked, and what they loved. Man, that was a great feeling to hear them gush over my book! Then came the second half of their email… “And this is what sucks…” Well, that let the air out of my balloon.

Second Cover Reveal!

Second Cover Reveal!

So I read their critiques, did some rewriting and had some Beta readers take a look, mainly girls the age the book would be marketed toward, and of course my group of critique partners.

Their suggestions made a huge difference. “Unspeakable” went from a good book, to a great (IMHO) book. And I realize now how essential, how priceless my CPs and Betas are in my writing career.

But there’s one other group of people other than the bloggers who are golden to authors, CPs and Betas who are priceless, and that group is other authors.

I had two cover reveals in a week. I found out about both the day before. Whoa. So I started emailing anyone I could think of that might help. And the response was Amazing. Many of you already know this because you blog here, and you stepped-up and helped. I want to tell you, you are AWESOME.

The authors that dropped everything to set-up a post at the very last minute—twice—just rocked. The way they came together to help really showed me how tight the bond is between authors. Well, how it should be, anyway.

I love helping other authors. I keep a blog for that reason, and only that reason. But to have it turned around and the help focused on me was a very prodigious experience. And for those of you who helped, thank you. You made my cover reveals awesome.

How about you? Have you ever had a time when you needed help and authors or bloggers jumped in?

It's time to read!

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Christmas in July…

I had a totally different topic for this month, but I’ve been side-railed in the best way and I have to share it. Today I can officially announce that I signed with Clean Teen Publishing to publish my debut young adult contemporary romance: “Unspeakable!”

I’m so incredibly excited—it’s like Ch

Signing my contract with Clean Teen for "Unspeakable!"

Signing my contract with Clean Teen for “Unspeakable!”

ristmas in July. Or an early birthday present (mine’s in August). Either way, I’m over the moon. Unspeakable is one of those books that just touched me. I fell in love with the characters and their story. It was a book I really wanted published and I feel so blessed that I have that opportunity, especially with the great team at Clean Teen. They are wonderful!

So now I have a favor to ask of you. I need a street team and I need help building one. So if you could help me start it, name it, advertise it, give tips on creating a database for it and a google document, just about anything would be awesome because I’m totally starting from scratch and I’m really not sure how to start. If you have any ideas on a name, that would help. A lot of authors use their name somehow. I haven’t found a combination I like yet, so I’ve started using my nickname, “Mac.” A lot of you know my father passed away a year ago and never got to see my first book published. He was the only person who called me Mac. So it’d a tribute to him.

Anyway, getting way off topic. So Christmas in July…I got a book contract. What good news do you have? And remember, sometimes the smallest thing can be the biggest gift.

I don’t wanna grow up!

When I saw this month’s topic was on funny books or books with humor incorporated somehow, I immediately forgot all the incredibly humorous books I’ve ever read. So, I’ve been systematically going through the files of my muddled brain trying to find something to write about (that’s actually worth reading).

Then I sat down to do a review of a children’s book with my daughters. I review the Clara's Crazy Curlsbook and they read it for their reading homework—a twofer. So what, right? Well, I’ve been doing this for the past few months. I’ve reviewed around a dozen books and I’ve laughed right along with my girls when we read them. There’s some funny stuff in children’s books!

So my short and sweet point is, stop and smell the little things (flowers, books, cartoons, whatever). I realized while I was agonizing over what to write for this article, that I sometimes overlook the child in me. I get too wrapped up in the “grown-up Michelle” that I forget it’s okay to let go and be silly sometimes.

Yes, I’ve read many, many young adult, new adult and adult books that have been funny and I’ve laughed out loud while reading them. And if I sat here long enough I’d remember some of the titles (maybe, brain cells are dying every day…). But I’ve had an incredible time reading some of the children’s books and letting my inner child come out to play and remembering how to laugh at the silly stuff.

Sometimes we need to slow down and see the world through the eyes of a child again.

Sometimes we need to slow down and see the world through the eyes of a child again.

It's time to read!

Literary Addictions…

February is the month of love and this month we are sharing new literary loves. I have 18369048many but I’m going to keep my list short and list one series that I fell in love with. “The Addicted Series” by Becca and Krista Ritchie just grabbed me and sucked me in.

The first book in the series, “Addicted To You,” is a Raw. Gritty. Dirty. A nasty story of the secret side of the upper echelon of society. It’s surely going to be one of those books that people either love or hate. In my case, I loved it.

“Addicted To You” is a down and dirty account of two people—one addicted to sex and the other to booze. The twin Ritchie duo didn’t pretty it up. It was gritty and showed the nastier side of addiction…the side that most people want to ignore. And it made a great book, in my opinion. But it’s more than a tale of two people fighting their separate addictions. They are fighting their attraction to each other, for reasons I won’t go into (read the book, I say!). They are scared and ashamed to go to their families because they’ll “embarrass” them. Huh. I know no family is perfect, but the family dynamics in this story are just heartbreaking. So very sad and touching at the same time.

But continue with caution, this is not a book that glosses over the world of addiction. You’re gonna get it like it is. And that’s what makes the book so awesomely great!

17969317The dynamic Ritchie duo followed up “Addicted To You” with “Addicted For Now.” It’s another book that just grabbed me right away. The characters from the first book in the series have different issues to deal with, harder in some ways, definitely healthier, but then a devastating betrayal sends them into a tailspin and threatens the precarious relationship with their addictions. I cried. Literally. Not just a few tears. Nope. Like, give me the box of tissues, snot nosed, fat tears, crying. I felt the pain, embarrassment and the feeling that they let everyone down. I could feel the weight of the world crashing on their shoulders—the inability to do or say anything to take it back, make it better, make it go away. I felt all that and more. It was an emotional, gut punch. It’s an emotionally gripping book and, whereas some sequels don’t stand-up to their predecessors, this book is just as incredible. Poignant…gripping…raw…clear your schedule…you’re in for a ride.

I’m not going to keep writing about the series…although I could, but I’m going to give you the deets on the full series.  And my advice? Run… I mean Run…to your computer and download your copy of “Addicted Series.” It’s an outstanding series.

#1

#1

#1.5

#1.5

#2

#2

#2.5

#2.5

#3

#3

4

#4

5

#5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Reading Everyone!
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Stuff your Stocking…

December…a freebie month. Ugh, believe it or not, I actually like it better when I have a topic to work with. Sounds weird from an author, I know. I should love the fact I can let myself write about whatever my mind wanders to…but my mind often wanders to places I shouldn’t write about so topics are a good thing.  (That sounds bad…don’t judge me! Ha!)

Since it’s the month of giving, I thought I’d share five books you should ask Santa to leave in your stocking this year. I’m focusing on self or indie published books that don’t often get the attention they deserve.

So, here we go. The five books that should be in your Christmas stocking—in no particular order—are:

13030422“The Sary Series” by Meradeth Houston.  “Colors Like Memories” and “The Chemistry of Fate.” Okay, okay, that’s two books, but it’s one series so it counts as one. Meradeth is a fan-freakin’-tasic author. She has a way of weaving words

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together that just makes them sing. I love to read her writing. Oh, and my favorite thing about Meradeth’s writing, and the thing I get most excited about when I sit down to read something she’s written, is her first sentence of her novels. She has a flair for writing the best ever first sentences. I mean, who doesn’t want to keep reading when a book starts out with a sentence like this:

“I greeted his tombstone the way I always did— with a swift

kick.”  (Colors Like Memories)

That makes me want to know what the heck is going on! Meradeth is one author you need to watch…she’s going places. Plus, she’s just an all-around great person

“At Any Price” by Brenna Aubrey.  This book really surprised me. Honestly when IPageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00071] received the ARC I wasn’t looking forward to reading it. But, WOW, I’m so glad I did. Itwas such a great story. Brenna blew me away with the story and her writing. The story was original. The plot was well thought out.  One thing I loved the most is that the male lead was a good guy. He wasn’t the “typical” bad boy who has a miraculous turnaround at the end of the story (not that I don’t like those stories too). Adam was just a great guy and I loved that.

Brenna wrote strong, likable characters that I fell in love with. It’s an incredible story about giving up control to grab on to love. It’s definitely worth the time to read, but be warned: once you pick it up you won’t want to put it down until you reach the last page. So clear your schedule! I’ve also been lucky enough to “meet” Brenna through email and she is a sweet and kind person. Definitely give this book, the first in a planned trilogy, a try.

15787222“Quest of the Hart” Mary Waibel’s debut young adult reverse fairy tale retelling. I love fairy tale retellings, but I especially loved this one since it was done in reverse which was just outstanding!  The story Mary weaved was not only entertaining, interesting and engaging, but also empowering for girls. Instead of the prince saving the helpless princess, the princess was the one who saved the prince. This type of message is so important for today’s generation of young women, and Mary delivered it flawlessly. It was truly empowerment on paper!

“The Prophecy” by Erin Albert. Okay, I have to admit—I haven’t actually read this book theprophecy333x500yet. It’s one I want in my stocking and since someone in my family usually buys me a Kindle gift card of some sort for Christmas, I plan to get it. But I know Erin. She’s my Beta and CP so I know how she writes and because of that I have absolutely no doubt that this book is going to be awesome. It’s a young adult high fantasy and the first installment in the “The Fulfillment Series.”

18369048“Addicted Series” by Becca and Krista Ritchie. Okay, this is another series so technically it’s more than one book, but since it’s my blog post I say it counts as one. 🙂  I won’t list all the books, because not only are therebooks in the series, but there are companion books, too. So I’ll stick to the three I’ve read: “Addicted To You,” “Ricochet,and “Addicted For Now.” These books are hard to explain in just a couple paragraphs because they are 1) so, so good and 2) deal with so many emotions and complex situations. Here’s what I wrote on ricochetmy blog for the first book: Raw. Gritty. The nasty side of the upper echelon of society. “Addicted To You.” It’s surely going to be one of those books that people either love or hate. In my case, I loved it. Bottom line: Definitely worth the time. Characters are well written. Plot is well thought out. But continue with caution, this is not a book that glosses over the world of addiction. You’re gonna get it like it is. And that’s what makes the book so great!

17969317The quick synopsis of the books is: She’s addicted to sex and he’s addicted to booze and it’s the story about how they hide their addictions from everyone around them, then how they work to overcome their addictions. Finally, just when they are adjusting to their new life and learning to live and manage their addictions, it’s a story about how one person pulls the rug out from under them and everything comes crashing down–and how they deal with the situation. In short, it’s one of the best series I’ve read. It’s definitely for 18 and above because of the subject matter, but everything in the book is written tastefully and there are no gratuitous sexual situations—everything fits the storyline. It’s definitely a series that should be in your stocking.

Honorable Mention:

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The writing thesauruses by Marsha Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. These books never leave my desk—ever. They include: “The Emotion Thesaurus,” “The Negative Trait Thesaurus,” and “The Positive Trait Thesaurus.” If you haven’t checked these out, give them a try. They are great resources. I love them.

Those are the five (plus the honorable mentions) indie press or self-published books I think Santa should leave in everyone’s stockings this year. I hope you check them out, if you haven’t already. And in a shameless plug, you can always stick a copy of “PODs in your stocking too.

So, what books are you hoping to find in your stocking this year? Whatever you find, I hope it includes love, joy and wonderful moments with your family and friends.

Merry Christmas everyone,

Michelle 🙂

Reflection…

November is a month to reflect on what we are thankful for. Of course, we should do that every day, and I’m sure we all do to some degree. But Thanksgiving is a day set aside to   focus on our blessings.

It’s my favorite holiday. Always has been. There’s no pressure. No presents to fuss over, no baskets to make or eggs to hide. No last minute runs to buy fireworks (although the 4th of July is my second favorite holiday). No, Thanksgiving is just a day to spend time with my family. That’s it.

We eat, play games, eat, play cards, eat, take a nap, eat, play more games, and finally roll

Evan

Evan

ourselves home. It’s a great day.

And I’m Thankful that when I look around the table I see little (okay, they aren’t so little anymore, but they’re always our babies, right?) faces looking back at me.

I’m thankful that I haven’t been able to take a nap in the last twelve years.  Or that I can’t seem to go to the bathroom without someone walking in on me (thank goodness for locks). I haven’t had a shower that lasts over five minutes. I haven’t had a shower that’s actually had warm water. There’s always someone fighting in my house. There’s a crisis a day—at least. I’m a nurse, taxi driver, cook, seamstress, teacher, judge—jury and executioner (okay, that last one? No.).

I’m thankful for all those things because I’m a mom.

Blastocysts - The start of life.

Blastocysts – The start of life.

I’m thankful for the nine surgeries, the hundreds of shots and the ungodly number of blood draws I had. For the tens of thousands of dollars (kiss our 401k goodbye) we spent. For a man named Mostafa Abuzeid. For the pain, embarrassment, and a husband who was there and knew just what to say when I felt like giving up. I’m thankful for these things because I’m a mom. And without them, I wouldn’t be.

So when I’m taking my five minute cold shower and my twins burst into the bathroom (and I cuss under my breath for not locking the door) and start arguing because one has the other’s toy, shirt, shoes, barrette, whatever…I think to myself…

I can’t believe I actually paid to have these kids.

4d ultrasound of the twins.  Aleigha left-Alana right

4d ultrasound of the twins.

No, really, I can’t believe how totally blessed I am that medical science and my wonderful doctors, who became like family over the ten long years it took for me to have our son Evan and our twins, Aleigha and Alana, were able to take someone who felt broken and useless and show her that sometimes we all need a little help. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Alana and Aleigha

Alana and Aleigha

So I’m thankful for my family, definitely. But I’m thankful for a lesson I learned a little over twelve years ago when I held my son for the first time and my infertility doctor looked down at us with tears in his eyes and said, “You did it!” He taught me it’s okay to ask for help. Yeah, I know it’s a weird story, but until then I’d been one of those people who didn’t ask for help from anyone—it showed weakness. And I had a childhood that required me to be strong. I had to do things myself. I couldn’t be weak. But he taught me it’s not weakness to ask for help, it’s the strong that can admit they need help and ask for it.

So I’m thankful for a man named Mostafa Abuzeid. Although, I wish he’d come babysit so I could take a nap.

Elevators and writing? Sure!

Elevators. I don’t much care for them. Not since I was young and stuck in one. It hovered over ten floors, just a cable held it aloft. A cable—well maybe there was more than one, I didn’t look to check—was all that kept us from meeting the concrete basement floor in a way no one wants to meet it…very quickly.

These thoughts ran through my head as I stood in front of the bank of elevators Elevator1-300x225waiting to board the next available car of doom to transport me to the fourteenth floor. Okay, okay, maybe ‘car of doom’ is a little extreme. But, hey, I was a kid when I was stuck in that elevator and I had just drunk a whole juice box and we were stuck there for two hours. I had to pee. If that combined with the threat of gravity sucking us down to crash land on the basement floor don’t spell doom I don’t know what does.

Finally the little ‘ding’ sounds and informs me the elevator has arrived. I step aboard. My hands are sweaty and the sides of my stomach clench. I seriously rethink the taco I ate from the Taqueria on the corner of the road on my way to my appointment.

It’s then that Abbie speaks. Well, she speaks to me. The rest of the people in the elevator have no idea Abbie is riding with us since she is one of my ‘imaginary friends.’ You know, one of the voices writers hear talking in their heads? Anyway, she informs me that she shares the same fear of elevators I do. She has an interesting story of a time when she was trapped in an elevator. I listen to her tell her tale and by the time the car of doom reaches the fourteenth floor, Abbie has told me the beginning of a great story. And I realize that even in the mundane, we find writing gems.

Since that elevator ride Abbie and I have become great friends. We’ve worked together to put her story on paper…all because of a shared hatred of elevators.

By the way, Abbie also told me there is no official phobia for the fear of elevators, but there is a phobia, Porphyrophobia, for the color purple. Strange but true.