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Meet My Character Blogfest: Callie James

Hi Everyone!!

Welcome to the Meet My Character Blogfest where you get to learn a little about Callie, the main character from my manuscript DARE YOU TO MOVE.

Huge thanks to my friend and YA author Melanie Hooyenga. She nominated me for this fun blog series and she has an awesome book, if you’re into awesome things. You can find the latest in her FLICKER series FRACTURE here, and you can meet her main character, Biz here!

Here’s a little about DARE YOU TO MOVE before we get into meeting Callie.

Callie can’t dance.

Not the waltz, not a shuffle, not even a jig. This wouldn’t be a problem if she had just been left alone for the summer. But instead of basking in the sun and lifeguarding at the city pool, Callie’s sister drags her to Lake Sherman Ballroom Dance Academy. Callie thinks she’s going to camp to hang out with her sister, fill her stomach with s’mores, and maybe learn a move or two.

But she’s wrong.

Her sister conveniently forgot to tell her that Callie has to participate in the camp’s dance competition. In the spirit of sisterhood, Callie reluctantly embraces the idea and stays. But just when she thinks she’s got the hang of this dancing thing, her partner gets kicked out of camp, forcing her to re-learn the complicated moves with someone new. And as if the dance gods were cursing her for lying, that someone new happens to be one of the instructors, Tucker–the same guy who treated her like smooshed marshmallow on the bottom of his shoe the day they met.

As the summer days tick away, Callie learns that dance camp is more like dance hell and she wants out. But when her sister injures her foot and can’t compete for the coveted grand prize, Callie has to rise to the challenge. There’s just one misstep, in order to win she has to put her trust in Tucker, who despite her disdain for, she’s developed an unhealthy crush on. With fierce competition and other dancers threatening to expose her secrets, winning isn’t going to be easy.

Callie James x2

1) What is the name of your character?

Callie James

2) Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

She is fictional. Although, she’d be kind of fun to have around ;o)

3) When and where is the story set?

It’s set at a ballroom dance camp near Charlotte, North Carolina.

4) What should we know about him/her?

Hmm, well she daydreams a lot. She’s kind of anti-romance and most importantly, she can’t dance. Which makes going to dance camp a bit… awkward.

5) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Her sister dragged her to dance camp for the summer. When her sister gets injured, Callie is the one hope her sister has to win the grand prize. She also falls in love with her instructor. Whoops.

6) What is the personal goal of the character?

To step out of her sister’s shadow and overcome a hideous 4th grade dance debacle. Find herself.

And now for a sneak peek at DARE YOU TO MOVE:

I swim back to the beach and grab my clothes, rushing to put them on. I stick my foot into the right hole of my thong, but my ancient toe ring I put on so no one would look at my mangled toe polish gets caught on a loose piece of lace. “Shit.” I try jerking my foot away and tear more of my thong. I’m bent over, my foot arched into the cloth, hopping on one foot, and that’s when he decides to swim toward the beach. “Stop. Don’t look!”

He spins around to the woods. “How long does it take you to put your clothes on?”

I try to twist the ring off my toe but it’s as if it’s glued on. “I’m just having a… wardrobe malfunction.” And dying a little on the inside.

He laughs again.

“Shut up.”

“I can help,” he says completely out of character. Where’s the stoic, stiff dance instructor?

“Just… I only need a second. If I could just…” I yank at the silver ring one last time and it pops up and hits me in the eye. “For the love of—seriously?”

How did I really think this would go?

I’d walk up to the beach, my body shimmering in the moonlight. My hair would be wet and sexy like girls’ hair in the movies.

“You can turn around,” I’d say.

He’d turn around, swim up to the shore, stand in all his naked glory, and we’d make-out for like ten minutes, a half hour.

“I’m turning around,” he says.

Here are the awesome authors who offered to join in the fun next week!!


1. Rae Chang is an assistant for author, blogger, and contest queen Brenda Drake; She interviews agents, critique queries, assists in running the contests, and mentors writers as a Pitch Wars mentor.

When she’s not doing that, she’s a writer, freelance editor, composer, food blogger, nerd, cooking instructor, youth mentor, and school speaker.

Rae Chang — Assistant to Brenda Drake

(208) 629-6596

Contributor @

2. Brianna Shrum is from Colorado, where she lives with her husband, two little boys, and two awesome hound dogs. She is represented by the fabulous Bree Ogden of D4EO Literary, and her debut novel, NEVER NEVER, is coming out in September of 2015 from Spencer Hill Press. Website: Twitter: @briannashrum

3. Carey Torgesen  is a teacher, mom, and a writer of kisses–mostly the Women’s Fiction and YA Contemporary kind. She lives outside of Seattle with her daughter and two kitty children. Her book, THE PRINCESS PARADOX, will be out this December. She is currently querying a YA Little Mermaid retell called SPEECHLESS, and working on new shiny Women’s Fiction WIPs.

4. L.L. McKinney

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Bloghop – My Writing Process

Hello Everyone!
I hope your Friday is going well! I was tagged by the amazingly talented and sweet Valerie Cole for the “My Writing Process” bloghop! You can find her blog here and twitter here.

For this bloghop I’m going to answer a few questions and then tag three of my friends to do the same! Fun, right? Here we go!!

00-9-Quotes-6-Be-Courageous-and-try-to-write....What am I working on?
Currently, I’m revising my WIP. It’s about a dance summer camp with a girl who can’t dance. I’ve also started writing on a new idea! Love that feeling! I’ve got a lot of WIPs needing revision too. There’s never a shortage ;o)


How does my work differ from others in its genre?
It’s hard to differentiate your writing from others, but my voice, I believe, is what makes my work unique. I like to mix up writing styles, pairing lyrical phrases with short staccato sentences. I also love to infuse humor into scenes, even the most dramatic and heart-wrenching ones. They can get heavy without something to break the tension.

Why do I write what I do?
I write YA because that’s what I love to read. That’s how I started writing it. I read a few books in the genre and fell in love. It happens to be where my voice fits the best too. There’s something special about that time in life, the discoveries and firsts. I love to capture the emotion of those moments. I couldn’t imagine writing in any other genre.

perfect storm

How does my writing process work?
I like to think of it as the perfect storm. It’s chaotic and at any moment subject to change. Sometimes just as I’m about to go to bed I get the best words and they often end up being words that never change in an MS. Sometimes I forgo things I know I shouldn’t (like sleep) and get the words I need. For me, it’s all about emotion and the moment. I’m a pantser, but I usually have an idea of where it’s going. Music is a big part of my process too. It’s inspiring to hear a song and then see a scene in my head that’s perfect. I just need to make sure I have something to write or type with nearby!

Who’s up next? TAG! You’re it!

Jaime Loren
Jaime spends her days chasing her two young children, and her nights writing. She lives in Adelaide, South Australia, but dreams of returning to her small hometown where she can give her children the same upbringing she had: exploring bushland, playing every sport under the sun, riding horses, and waking to the sight of kangaroos outside. WAITING FOR APRIL is Jaime’s debut novel (coming 2015). You can find her on her blog or twitter.

Brenda Drake
Brenda Drake the youngest of three children, grew up an Air Force brat and the continual new kid at school until her family settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Brenda’s fondest memories growing up is of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write young adult and middle grade novels with a bend toward the fantastical.

When Brenda’s not writing or doing the social media thing, she’s haunting libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops or reading someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment). Brenda writes young adult and middle grade novels. She’s represented by Peter Knapp with Park Literary. Look for her young adult novel, LIBRARY JUMPERS, coming 2015. You can find her on her website or twitter.

Jenny Kaczorowski
Jenny was born and raised near Cleveland, Jenny earned her degree in photojournalism from Kent State University before vowing to never spend another winter in Ohio and moving to Los Angeles, where there is far too much sunshine. Amid working as a grant writer a non-profit that teaches music in inner-city neighborhoods, and raising two kids, Jenny writes for young adults. She likes her heroines smart and quirky, her heroes nice, and her kisses sweet. Apart from writing, Jenny is still an avid photographer, loves music despite no discernible musical talent, and reads the dictionary for fun. She (still) lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and daughter. Her debut, THE ART OF FALLING (Bloomsbury Spark), is available now. You can find her on her website or twitter.

Have a great weekend, everyone!!

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The Why Of Revision.

Hi Everyone!!

Scrubs gif

So. I’ve been thinking… I know, I know. But, Er, these blog posts are always long when you think! Maybe, but I’m working on a revision for my new MS and I was thinking about motivation and the WHY of revision.

So you’re bounding along in your first draft. It’s great. You’re getting words. You have a sort-of plot (if you’re a pantser, if you’re not, you’ve got a well-thought-out plot) either way, you’ve got some semblance of a story going. You step back for a while. A couple weeks, a month–whatever your marinating time, and come back. THIS is the time to ask WHY.

Why did I write this story?
Why is my MC doing what she’s doing?
Why does the reader want to read this?
Why is my MC perfect for this story?

So I started asking myself WHY when it came to my current WIP and you know what? I didn’t know the answers right away. So I discovered that I needed to bring out more to make it believable, bring out the essence of this particular MC. I keep trying to capture what I had in my last MS but this isn’t the same story or the same characters. So I’ve been asking myself why I chose to write this one. Why did I choose to make the MC how she is? It may seem obvious to do, but it wasn’t to me.

Sometimes I think we get SO into a story that we forget to ask why. No matter what, our characters need to have reasons for doing what they’re doing and it’s our job to make them believable.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m taking a step back and I’m going to make sure this MC is the right MC for the job, and that this story and its characters are believable. I’m not just going to put words on a page because that’s what you do after a first draft. I’m going to make sure they mean something, ’cause I care about every one of those words and who may possibly read them. That’s what asking why is about. It’s about making sure your words tell your story the way you wanted, and about making readers feel what you felt when you put them on the page.

So ask why. It may be the most important thing you can do during a revision.

What about you? Do you always ask WHY when you revise?

Have a great rest of the week, rockers!


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My Revision Journey Told Through Disney GIFs

Hi Everyone! Hope your Sunday is going well ;o) So, lately I’ve been revising and wanted to do a post on what it feels like. The ups and downs, turns, that kind of thing (original huh? LOL). BUT I thought I would tell it through Disney GIF’s instead since it’s more fun and I’ve always been a visual person and I love GIFs. Here we go!

My revision journey told through Disney GIFs.

I start out thinking there are SO many possibilities!

Cheshire Cat gif

 I’m so EXCITED! This is going to be the best MS I’ve revised EVER!

Lion King

Then the real work begins and it seems like an endless climb…

repunzels castle

Each step seems never-ending.

frozen gif 1

frozen 2


I quickly arrive at the stage where I think everything is total crap.



I start to change things I NEVER thought I would which makes me feel like I’m completely messing everything up.

Mulan 1

Every morning I look like death.

frozen 5


I think I’m starting to catch a stride then something derails me.

tangled 2


I feel like nothing makes sense in the story anymore.

cheshire cat 1 Alice 4 Cheshire cat 3 Alice 5 Cheshire cat 4 Alice 6 Alice 7 Alice 8 Cheshire Cat 6

I try to add backstory and I either add too much or too little.

Tangled 3

So I decide to start from the beginning and see what works and what doesn’t. I end up deleting some of my favorite scenes.

Alice 3

Then I feel like this.

Cheshire cat 8

I start getting pulled into different plot holes and internal monologue traps.


After putting the pieces back together and getting everything in its spot.

Up Aristocats

I regroup. Because I can’t stay in Wonderland forever.

Tangled 5


I start climbing to the top of that wall.

Mulan 2

Work Hard.

Frozen 10

And make my MS just as beautiful as the first version, but better.

Frozen 9

I fall, but there’s always someone to catch me.

Frozen 7

And even though I feel like this…

frozen 3

And I realize how hard it is to say goodbye to a different version of my story…

Toy Story 1 Toy Story 2

I believe in this book and I want it to be the best.

Beauty and the Beast 1

It WILL be the best!

Frozen 11

Anyone else feel like this? How do you get through it?

Have a great week!



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10 Things I’ve Learned About Publishing So Far

Hi Everyone!!

I hope you’re all having a good week so far and you’re staying warm!

So, I’ve been writing for a while now and I’ve learned a bit about publishing from being a writer/editor/agent intern. I’ve seen a lot of different sides to this crazy industry and I’m going to share the top 10 things I’ve learned with you ;o) You may already know them, but thought I’d share anyway!

1. Subjectivity is real. It’s not just what an agent/editor says to reject your work. Folks, I’ve seen this in action, both as a writer and an editor. Tastes differ. Sometimes I’ll read something then read it again and think… this isn’t as good as I thought. An agent/editor is going to read your story several times before it gets published, they need to love it.

2. Patience is a virtue. I’ve seen writers shoot themselves in the foot so often I wonder why they can’t just wait. I know it’s hard. Believe me. But what’s the rush? Take your time and get an agent and editor who loves your work. To do this does take time and it will seem like light years for them to get back to you. It’s okay. That’s not about you. Most likely, that’s about them and their time and what they have prioritized in front of your work, more often than not, their own clients’ work.

3. Helping your fellow writers is a great thing for your soul, but it takes a lot of time too. I try to help writers as much as I can. I know what it’s like to be in the query trenches. I try to get involved in contests like Brenda Drake’s pitch madness and pitch wars, and I was recently a judge for the Georgia Romance Writers Conference: The Maggie Awards For Excellence for the unpublished YA category. I love helping writers and I encourage everyone to do it, but it does take extra time. If you commit to contests and judging, be aware of the time commitment. I make sure I balance it and make sure I have the time before saying yes. Please feel free to ask me questions, and I’ll do my best to answer.

4. Agents are business associates. Publishing is a business, so your correspondence with agents should be professional, confident and straight-forward. If they have a policy on “nudging” follow it, don’t be afraid to follow their guidelines, in fact, if they have guidelines, follow them. If they ask you to attach the first 25k to the email, or some other strange thing, then do it. That’s what they want. I’ve read about writers waiting for months and months to nudge because they are afraid to bother agents. I hate seeing this. If they have a posted policy, that’s what they expect. You are only doing yourself a disservice by not following it. On the same hand. Wait until that posted time to nudge. Don’t follow-up a week after you query.

5. Queries/Pitches are still hard to write. Yep. No matter how many times I try to write one it isn’t easy on the first try. And don’t get me started on Synopses. Hoo Boy. Those are a practice in will power. I envy those who can write them easily, I am not one. I can edit queries and pitches with the best, but writing them on the first try is still a struggle. I will say it has gotten easier each time I do, so hopefully one day they will be like second nature to me. It has made it easier now that I know what the structure looks like: Intriguing tag line. What’s the issue? Obstacles? What does the MC stand to lose if goal isn’t met. Also, add in the voice. At least that’s what works for me.

6. Someone somewhere is probably writing a book about the same subject you are. It’s okay. It happens. There are only so many stories to be told. Ideas are limited. There are roughly 7 billion people on earth, chances of you being the ONLY one to think of your idea is… unlikely. However, you are the only YOU. Your voice is what makes your book special, so therefore don’t get discouraged when you hear someone else have the same cool idea. Make your story uniquely YOU.

7. Read, read, read. It’s so important, you guys. When I hear of writers only writing it makes me sad. One can not write in a genre they have not read in. I mean… they can, but I doubt it would be as good as a writer who read in that genre. I know it’s hard to make time, but as writers we have to know what’s out there. I read in binges usually, 3-5 books at a time, then I revise or write, then I do it all over again. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it. Trust me. You’ll be a better writer.

8. Learn social media and learn it well. Don’t spam. I’m amazed to still see this being done. Don’t follow others JUST to get them to follow back. It’s a conversation. And don’t be offended if others don’t follow you back. I doubt it’s personal. Sometimes I just haven’t gone through my list to follow others. It takes time. If you talk to me often though, chances are I’ll follow you. If you write a blog post, try to share it sparingly. Let others pass along the info for you. I try to link blog posts twice and call it good. My beloved friends on twitter typically RT me, which I’m so grateful for. In the same sense, I RT them and other info I think writers will find interesting and of course, cute animals, cause HELLO, cute animals. I wrote a blog post on the basics of social media, you can find it here, if you want to read it. We were all new once too. I just recently looked at my first few tweets and they were pretty generic. We all have to start somewhere, but take your time to get to know people on a real level, not just try to get them to follow you. Reach out and speak to other writers/authors. Chances are they’ll talk back ;o)

9. Readers don’t really care where you publish your book. Think about it. Before you were a writer, did you even know the names of most of the imprints? I think I knew Penguin and HarperCollins and that’s about it. Readers want to read a GREAT BOOK. That’s it. So if you want to self-publish, go with a smaller pub, Big 5, whatever, it’s cool. Readers probably won’t know the difference and in the end, that’s who we’re writing books for ;o)

10. The writing community is the best. I’ve seen writers over the years volunteer their time, money, expertise; they mentor other writers, send emails to their fans, let their fans into their little worlds by sharing more than we thought we wanted to know about a series, they answer questions. They RT your blog posts, ask how you’re doing, console you when you’re sad, lift you up when you are excited, empathize with you and hold your hand. I could not think of a better group to be a part of. Thank you to all of you!

So. What do you think? Got anything to add?

Have a wonderful rest of the week and KEEP WARM and BE SAFE!

Rock on,


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