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!

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.

Camp Boyfriend… Sneak Peek

Aside

CampBoyfriendbutThis month, I need to go off-script just a little because there’s only one thing on my mind. And while it happens to be Joanne writing for J.K. today (hello!), I am positive there’s only one thing taking up all Karen’s thoughts this week too. Our debut book, CAMP BOYFRIEND, releases on Tuesday so we’ve been writing blogs, planning a book trailer, creating book club resources, going to conferences… all sorts of fun stuff.

Yet, with all the planning we’ve been doing to launch the book with fanfare, we realized we’d overlooked a key ingredient. A basic tool of promo that authors use all the time and readers LOVE. How could we possibly have forgotten to post an excerpt?

17371981Luckily, our Scene 13 day was coming up and we thought this would be a great place to reveal a sneak peek from the book. If you’ve read Camp Kiss, you will have already met Seth and Lauren. (Download a free copy here.) If you haven’t read the prequel, I think this is still going to be fun J. To set the scene- a small group of older campers have taken a canoe trip to a remote spot away from the camp where they are spending the night in lean-tos. Lauren gets a secret visitor late that night, and they visit on the roof of her shelter:

…..Seth continued to grip my hand. “Please hear me out, Lauren. This will only take a leantominute.”

“Fine. But just for a minute. That’s it.” I plunked down on the rooftop and swung my legs over the edge, back hunched, arms crossed.

All around us slept campers in lean-tos. By the moon’s low position, I guessed it was well past midnight. An owl hooted from a nearby pine, then took flight in a blur of white and grey.

Strix varia,” Seth breathed behind me. “Must be after a frog. Look at him dive.”

stars

I tracked the bird to the river. The current made a soft shhhhh sound as it flowed over and around rocks and boulders. I’d forgotten how much I loved this time of night- the peaceful, natural feel of it.

Seth’s shoulder brushed mine as he lowered himself beside me. Goosebumps broke out on my skin, every molecule in my bloodstream screaming to life. I took a steadying breath.the peaceful, natural feel of it.

He wrapped an arm around me. “Cold?”

I shook my head and edged away. “You said this would take a minute, so…?”

His finger pressed against my lips while the other hand pointed. My eyes widened at the sight of a portable field telescope set up to our left. Stargazing. As science geeks, it’d always been one of our favorite things to do together. I couldn’t believe he lugged the collapsible apparatus on the trip. Given the limited gear we were allowed to pack, he’d made some sacrifices to have this moment with me.

“C’mon.” Seth scrambled across the roof, peered into the eyepiece, and focused the lens. He looked up. “Last year we talked about seeing the Perseids together and tonight’s a good clear night for viewing. I didn’t want you to miss it. Have a look.”

stargazing-romantic-600x400He remembered this meteor shower that only an astronomer would love. My heart leaped. Say no, I told myself sternly in spite of its sudden jump.

“Okay,” came out instead.

My eyes flew to the sky. I hadn’t forgotten about the meteor shower and our promise to watch the skies together, but I’d put it out of my mind when I brought Matt to camp. But now… this was science, right? We could be nerds for a few minutes without acting on our hormones, couldn’t we? This was exactly what I needed. To rediscover my passion for astronomy, a part of me that I’d ignored all year, mostly because my dad had checked out of my life.

And didn’t that make me a lot like Matt—spiting myself to get back at my dad for ignoring me? I felt ashamed of myself and my pettiness.

Now, I knelt behind the telescope and looked down into the eyepiece. My breath caught at the otherworldly view. A streak of white light shown against an onyx sky dotted with twinkling stars. Behind it blazed another stream of periwinkle and azure blue.

Wonder filled me. I was transported, aware of the vastness of life and my tiny place in it. The familiar, otherworldly feel brought back my Aerospace Scholar ambition and memories of planetarium trips with Dad.

I grabbed Seth’s hand, wanting him to share this amazing moment.  But then his arms wrapped around me and he stared into my eyes, the stars reflected in his gaze.

Our breaths synchronized. He exhaled against my temple, making my chest flutter. I turned to tell him I had to go. But before I could speak, his lips captured mine.

My feelings for Seth rushed back with a pull as unstoppable as gravity itself. We tumbled against the roof, every nerve-ending awakening at his familiar touch. He was fantasy come to life. A forgotten dream remembered.

Seth pulled back and looked down at me with his expressive eyes. “I’ve missed you so much, Lauren.”

“Me too,” I admitted.summer6

He rolled us over so that I was on top. My hair hung down like a curtain, the dark strands blotting out the world….

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