On NaNoWriMo and Getting My Butt into Gear

Posted by on 2:46 am in Writing

Hoooo boy. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve written here. I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been too busy writing UNDERGROUND, but I think we all know that isn’t true. No, completing book 2 has admittedly not been a huge priority over the past few months, as I’ve taken on a new (day)job that takes up pretty much all my time, as well as a multitude of other excuses that I’m sure you just aren’t interested in. Just, you know, try not to be too mad, kay?

But the wonderful Jenna from Jenna Does Books reminded me through a post on Facebook that tomorrow marks the start of NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month — and so I figure it would be only appropriate for me to get my butt into gear and freaking finish UNDERGROUND. The NaNoWriMo challenge is to write 50,000 words in one month, and since I’ve already got more than a decent headstart on book 2 (it’s not like I haven’t been writing at ALL, just not, um, a lot), I think that as long as I’m dedicated to setting time aside for writing, I should be able to knock this out.

As long as I keep myself on track, that is. Which I absolutely plan to. I think this may just be that extra motivating factor to help get me back on track — since, admittedly, I do work better with deadlines. Even when they’re self-imposed! And since my editor is a magic worker and I’m pretty much the most impatient person ever, the post-production stuff shouldn’t take too, too long. (Which, of course, harkens back to all the wonderful reasons that self-publishing actually rocks.)

So, all this to say that yes, I’ve been a bit lackadaisical in my writing, but that’s all about to change. BRING IT, November! I’m coming for you.


Happy birthday to me!

Posted by on 11:54 am in Uncategorized

young reader gretchen

So maybe it’s a reflection on just how very vain I really am, but I have always loved (like, LOVE LOVE LOVED) my birthday. So today, the day of my 25th birthday, is no different! Well, I guess it’s a little different, because this is my first birthday spent as a published author. Not toooooo shabby of an accomplishment for the first quarter of my life, eh?

Laura @ Colorimetry is hosting a li’l virtual birthday party for yours truly as part of Terra’s book tour! So head on over to see a super fun rapid fire interview I did, as well as to net yourself an extra entry for the giveaway!

Thanks for helping make the past year so great, friends. 24 was a pretty stellar year — a lot of good things went down. I can’t wait to see what awesome things 25 has in store… aside from the sa-weet Hunger Games-themed birthday party I’m having on Saturday! 😉


On motivation (or a lack thereof)

Posted by on 5:57 pm in Writing

I won’t lie to you guys. Book 2 progress is going slower–much slower–than I had hoped it would. This is mostly my fault for having what I’m sure are unrealistic expectations of how quickly the writing process would go (having romanticized how “quickly” it went the first time around). But also I’m just really struggling with finding the motivation to sit down and write. This is me, every time I think I should go write:

I’m caught in this space where I KNOW I should be writing, but then I get stressed out because I’m NOT writing, which doesn’t exactly motivate me to write more.

I know, I’m a headcase.

But I also know that what I have written already feels pretty solid, and that whenever my motivation does finally come back to me (or when I finally strongarm it back into my life, haha) my hope is that the words will flow fairly easily. I keep trying to remind myself that writing Terra was pretty much exactly like this. A lot of nothing for a few months, and then BAM! Motivation and inspiration up the wazoo, and a first draft completed in 8 weeks.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep searching for that catalyst to help inspire me forward in my writing. I can think of two particular things that will be key here:


I need to quit. Like, cold turkey. It’s bad, guys, really bad. Reading reviews of my own book seriously do nothing but hinder my productivity–even if it’s a good review. You read a good review, and suddenly you’re all like, “Wow, I’m an amazing writer. I don’t need to actually sit down and make myself write, it’ll just happen because I’m so amazing I must have magical writing powers that will take care of everything!” And if it’s a bad review… well, I hardly think I need to give an example of the thoughts that occur after reading through one (or some) of those.

2. I need to read some bad books.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the big things that pushed me into overdrive when writing Terra was actually reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I know, I’m still kind of ashamed. But! Reading such terribly written prose really gave me the nudge needed to put a book that is at least SLIGHTLY better written out in the world. So maybe I just need to surf Amazon for some truly heinous books, instead of reading all the excellent novels I have been (many of which are by my self-publishing cohorts!). Any recommendations?

I’m almost afraid to say this, but I’m not sure how realistic my (admittedly ambitious to begin with) publishing Summer 2013 release date for Underground is at this point. We’ll just have to see, as I’ve found things can progress very quickly and without warning, but I just want to throw that out there. Thanks for (hopefully) sticking around for the sequel anyway! I can promise that whenever it does come out, you’re in for quite a ride. 🙂


On Terra’s latest book tour!

Posted by on 5:29 pm in Marketing


Terra’s latest book tour kicked off yesterday, and I wanted to share the news (and an opportunity to enter the awesome giveaway!) Thanks to the amazing Laura @ Prism Book Tours for helping me organize this beast. It has been SO much fun working with her!

Reviews, excerpts, and other goodies will be available on participating blogs as the tour moves forward. You also get your own opportunity to become a scav, just like Terra, by tracking down keywords that will net you extra giveaway entries! Check out the tour schedule and details on the sweet giveaway below:

April 1 – Colorimetry

– I Am a Reader, Not a Writer Excerpt 1

– fuonlyknew Excerpt 2

April 2 – A Tiffyfit’s Reading Corner Review

 – Pause Time – Review

April 3 – The Broke Book Bank Excerpt 3

– Jessie’s Book Place Excerpt 3

April 4 – Mel’s Shelves – Review

– The Reading Diaries – Excerpt 4

April 5 – Lovin’ Los Libros – Review

April 7 – Christy’s Cozy Corner – Review

– Total Book Geek – Excerpt 5

April 8 – The Quiet Concert – Review

April 9 – LDS & Lovin’ It – Review

April 10 – Jessabella Reads – Excerpt 6

April 11 – Gretchen’s Birthday Party!!

– Passion & Life – Excerpt 7

April 12 – Tressa’s Wishful Endings – Review

April 14 – Living a Goddess Life – Review

– Books, Books and More Books – Review

April 15 – Marked by Books – Excerpt 8

April 16 – Blood, Sweat and Books – Review

– My Seryniti – Review

April 17 – Bookworm Lisa – Review

– Mortality Bites – Excerpt 9

April 18 – Getting Your Read On – Review

April 19 – Grand Finale Blast!!

– Broke Book Bank – Excerpt 10

In Terra‘s world, resources are scarce and many people make their living as “scavs,” hunting for scraps to turn in on Collection Day in exchange for credits. For this tour, YOU are a scav, and there are scraps all over the blogosphere for you to find! On each participating blog, there will be one of 9 possible questions. Answer the question to receive a keyword that will get you an extra entry in this awesome giveaway!


One lucky scav will win a Terra prize pack! Get a signed copy of Terra, along with three exclusive (and gorgeous!) bookmarks, as well as a delicate silver watch–just like Terra’s!–all packed up inside a scav bag of your very own! US only.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

An additional five (FIVE!) winners will get a digital copy of Terra in the format of their choice. International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open only to those who can legally enter. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced on Rafflecopter and Grand Finale posts as well as emailed and the winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Burgandy Ice @ Colorimetry and Prism Book Tours and sponsored by Gretchen Powell. VOID WHERE  PROHIBITED BY LAW.

1 comment

On why you might want to research that stock photo

Posted by on 4:36 pm in Publishing

Hi-dee-ho, neighborinos! So today I want to take a break from the usual whining about book progress, and talk a little bit about the more superficial side of book publishing. No, literally, the superficial. As in, existing or occurring at or on the surface. Yep, I’m talkin’ ’bout covers.

Now, I’m very fortunate to have someone in my life who is both a friend and a faaaabulous graphic designer, with an aesthetic that matches my own almost perfectly. My girl Cassie from Back to Her Roots did the cover design for Terra, and I’ve heard pretty much nothing but positive feedback about it.

And you can see why! I know I’m a bit (okay, a lot) biased, but I absolutely love this cover. The textures, the ratios, the typography… I think it just looks really great. And one of the things that I love most about it is that it maintains a degree of uniqueness, in a world where there are literally thousands of book covers that all look the same.

I mean, it’s not a bad thing to model your cover after things that people like. And this certainly isn’t a singularly unique cover, since, yes there are about eleventy billion young adult covers that feature a girl on the cover in some capacity. Maybe she’s in a prom dress, maybe it’s a close-up of her beautiful modelly face, or maybe part of her face is cut off, like Terra’s. But I haven’t seen a ton of covers that follow the kind of “divided into thirds” thing that this one has going on, with the awesome textures that are both beautiful AND story-relevant. And even if everything else were essentially the same as other covers, I know that I can feel confident that no other book will ever be able to completely replicate my own. And that is because of the cover model herself.

Some of you may already know this, but my brother is actually a professional photographer. Not only that, but his fiancee (my future sister-in-law) both shoots with him, and models for him. So when it came time to decide who to put on the cover of my book, I had it pretty easy. I didn’t need to scour the interwebs for a stock model in the right pose or with the right hair color or what have you. I was able to get a photo that was not only free (heh), but I knew would not be replicated on another cover… EVER.

See, it’s recently become starkly apparent to me just how many of the same stock photos get circulated around the book cover world. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing–people like what they like, and if they liked a model couple on one cover, it stands to reason they might like them on another–it certainly doesn’t do anything to help you distinguish your book from the rest. This is why, if you are using or planning on using stock photos of models for your book cover, I urge you just to do a little research beforehand. Otherwise you run the risk of turning a potential reader away because they’ve seen it all before.

Still need convincing? Not to fear, I brought examples!

The Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout is a very popular YA sci-fi (well, sci fi in that it has aliens, but is still set in our contemporary world) set of books, which feature a pair of models representing the two main characters. They look pretty great together, so I can see why. And apparently, so did all these other people:

The examples actually go on much further. There’s even an entire Goodreads list dedicated to sussing out all the many, many covers that same couple is featured on, and last I checked, the list was over 60 titles long! Crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for covers that feature a hot couple but… I mean, c’mon, guys.

I’ve only found one replication of the coupl efrom Tammara Webber’s self-pubbed sensation, Easy, so far. That said, when the guy is as distinctive looking as the one on this cover (or at least has as distinctive hair, haha), it’s impossible to miss. At first, I thought that Vacant by Evelyn R. Baldwin was tied into Easy in some fashion, when in fact they are two completely unrelated works by two completely unrelated authors.

With my last example, I actually can’t find the second work that I recently saw which features this same fierce warrior chick, but I KNOW it exists. Anybody know of the book I’m looking for? For a while it was showing up in the “Customers also bought this…” list on Terra’s Amazon page, but it isn’t there anymore. Regardless, the covers are almost identical, mainly because the model is so distinctive. Even though I remember her being is in a different pose on the second cover, I definitely thought that the two books were part of the same series until  saw they had different authors (the titles are also somewhat reflective of each other, if I remember correctly).

I think the examples pretty much speak for themselves. I just think that, especially for self-published authors, who already have a hard enough time getting readers to take our books as seriously as “real” books, we owe it to ourselves to do the appropriate research before putting our blood, sweat, and tears (or our money, for someone else’s bloo, sweat, and tears) into our cover deigns. I do know how hard it is to find the balance between appealing to what people want to see, without copying what’s already out there too closely, but I also know that people absolutely, 100% judge books by their cover.

So, on that happy note, happy cover designing! 😉


No Joke Giveaway!

Posted by on 5:35 pm in Marketing

I’ve got another awesome giveaway for you guys. Nine other epic self-published authors (and myself) have banded together to give you a chance to win…


A $199 Amazon Gift Card! Or…

$199 credits–er, I mean, dollars–in PayPal cash!

Pop on over to this page for details on the sponsoring authors, and use the Rafflecopter form below to enter for your chance to win!

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

I have to say, special thanks to >Megan Thomason for organizing this whole thing. I hope you guys will consider picking up one (or all, hehe) of the other books sponsoring this giveaway. If you liked Terra, I think you’ll find them all pretty great, too!

Fine Print:

1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire HD (US Only), $199 Amazon Gift Card or $199 in Paypal Cash (International). This giveaway ends 4/15/13.

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the participating authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


On making traction with book 2

Posted by on 8:13 pm in Writing


Book two.

The sequel.


Well, the good news is that I’ve been writing. Or, at the very least, I’ve been trying to write, very hard. And I’ve got some good stuff going. It’s just that it isn’t all coming as easily or as quickly as I kind of thought it might. In the first few weeks post-release of Terra, I was SO PSYCHED about getting started on Underground. I flushed out my main plot points and character additions right away, and was all set to get down to business and crank the story out. See, I was just so eager to get the next part of the story out to you all! So eager, in fact, that it didn’t hit me until I actually sat down with a blank Scrivener window open in front of me that I have no idea how to start a sequel.

I know that I’ve probably got rose-colored glasses on when I think about how it was to write Terra, but it just seemed so EASY to do in comparison with this one. I feel like there’s so much more to consider, more to worry about, more to really THINK THROUGH with book 2. Because not only do I have to continue on with the loose threads left hanging from book 1, but I have to think them ALL the way through with how I want them to tie up in book 3. It’s just kind of a different beast than creating a world and story and characters all from scratch.

I kind of equate to how it feels when my house gets really, really messy. Sometimes, it gets so messy that I think, “It would be so much easier if I could just move all my crap into a brand new house, and set up shop all over again.” As if it would somehow be less work to start over from the very beginning, instead of cleaning up the messes that I’ve already made. When, in reality, it’s the same amount of work–or, actually, probably more–but it’s just different. And because it’s a completely different task than the one I have in front of me, somehow my brain translates that into being easier.

Okay, so it’s not a perfect metaphor. But basically what I’m trying to say is that I’m still learning a lot about how this book-writing thing goes. And I understand why some authors choose to only write stand-alone books. Because thinking things in a serial way can be really challenging. It’s super rewarding, because it means the story gets to continue and I get to keep living with these heroic, passionate, fiery, snarky, getting-more-and-more-kickass-by-the-day characters. But challenging.

I was in a bit of a writing funk for the past couple of weeks that I’ve only just started to crawl back out of. My mind being split between continue to market and promote Terra, while simultaneously wanting to have the words for Underground magically fly out of my fingertips at the drop of the hat, not to mention that little ol’ dayjob I’m still plugging away at… it’s a lot of mental juggling. But I’m VERY happy to say that I’m finally back in a good place with my writing, with scenes starting to pop into my mind and characters developing in a not-annoying way (for a little while there, Terra was getting so angsty she was starting to border on Order of the Phoenix-Harry Potter and that was NOT a good thing).

Despite the fact that things are progressing more slowly than I originally would have liked, I think I’m still well on track for getting Underground out sometime this summer! Another plus for self-publishing, right? Slightly less torturous wait times between books (I’m looking at you, Divergent #3!). So here’s to many more inspired nights of writing (my brain is still a dbag who only seems to let me write between the hours of 10 PM and 3 AM), more intrigue, more world-building, more revelations, and more Terra!


On kicking off my book tour!

Posted by on 2:25 pm in Marketing

So today marks day 1 of Terra’s book blog tour — something that I have been anticipating like crazy for the past month! I had the good fortune to meet Laurynne from Coffee, Books, and Lipgloss through the magical world of Goodreads, and she told me about her new book tour service: CBL Book Tours. She very generously offered to throw together a digital book tour, and here we are!


The blog tour spans over the course of the next couple of days, with book bloggers from across the interwebs (and the globe!) weighing in with their thoughts on Terra. Some also chose simply to promote the book without a review. If you’re interested in following the blog tour, the participating blogs are listed below!

I’m obviously very excited to see what comes from this promotional effort in terms of sales and exposure, but I can already say that working with Laurynne and CBL Tours has been a dream. All I had to provide was some information about the book, myself, and, of course, the digital copies to be distributed to bloggers, and she has taken care of everything else! Also, I’m doing another giveaway! Huzzaaaahh! Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a signed paperback or a digital copy in your format of choice.

Enter This Giveaway


On sale!

Posted by on 9:28 pm in Marketing

Just stopping in for a quick little announcement: Terra is on sale! For a limited time, snag the eBook version for your Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or iPad/iPhone for just $3.99!!

Terra on Sale.png

Happy President’s Day!

1 comment


Posted by on 6:49 am in Writing

Ever since writing and releasing Terra, I’ve been getting a lot of communication from people I hadn’t spoken to in a while–old friends from middle and high school, acquaintances and friends of friends who’ve heard about the book, even strangers who are simply book fans or aspiring writers themselves. And let’s be honest, it has been AWESOME. I’m a people-person, always have been, always will be, so getting to connect (and reconnect) with so many people over this little ol’ book that I wrote has been seriously wonderful.

I get a range of questions, of course, from those who are interested or invested in what I’ve produced, a few of which tend to repeat themselves more often than others. And as of this point in time, I’d say that the number one most-asked question that I get is simply, “How did you do it?” As in, how did I write a book–an actual, real, totally legit, full-length freaking novel? How did I write at all? And sometimes, I don’t even really know how I did it. Especially when I’m sitting in front of my computer with every intention of working on book 2, and no words come, and I’m like, “HOW THE HELL DID I WRITE AN ENTIRE BOOK, I HAVE FORGOTTEN HOW TO USE WORDS, FLARBITY GLARBITY JARLJUG.”

But then I attempt to compose myself and realize that I did, in fact, already a book, and I am going to do so again, and so when someone asks me how I did it, I probably need a better answer than, “Um… I dunno, I just did.” Mainly because it sounds kind of snobby (though let’s be honest, so am I).

Unfortunately, I have yet to really come up with one. How did I do it? I dunno, I just did. Should anyone come and ask me how I finally worked up the courage to put my ideas down on (digital) paper, my answer is simply that I wrote. A lot. And it was frustrating and it took a long time and sometimes I wanted to claw my eyes out and sometimes I wanted to throw my admittedly very expensive new laptop across the room and watch it satisfyingly shatter into a floppity jillion pieces but in the end (thankfully, I restrained myself), I still wrote.

So to those who might be aspiring writers, to anyone who has ever said to themselves, “I want to write a book!” but has no idea where to start, I simply say this: just write, dammit. No, actually, I say it in all caps: JUST WRITE, DAMMIT. I actually get a little frustrated with people who swear to high heaven that they want to be a writer, that their life’s ambition is to write a book, but they never actually try to do it. They never actually, you know, write. They say they can’t, but really they won’t. And hey, don’t get me wrong, I totally get it. It’s tough. The reason why there are about 4 billion people out there who say they want to write a book but only a fraction of a percentage of them who end up doing it is because it’s not easy. You have to fight every step of the way against your own brain, your motivation, your inspiration, and pretty much ALL the self-doubt that exists… ever. Writing a book requires diligence and perseverance and a strong sense of denial and not a small amount of egotism. But, man oh man, is it worth it.

So if you want to write, then write! Try. See if it really ends up being for you–if it’s not, then it’s not, and that’s no big loss. And if it is… then you could end up creating something amazing, and getting to feel the amazing sense of fulfillment that I have been lucky enough to already experience in my admittedly not-that-long life. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? And hey, if you’re still apprehensive, just think of it this way: Every single book out there–To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, The Old Man and the Sea, the Babysitters Club, 50 Shades of Crap, you name it–started with a single word. With an author sitting in front of a pad of paper or a typewriter or a computer and just writing, dammit.