Monday Motivation: It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint (For Authors)

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I was telling someone the other day how relieved I am to have my most recent novel FINALLY done.

“When did you release your last book?” They asked.
“What took you so long?”


There are a lot of authors out there who are writing and publishing many books (and often), and have figured out what their readers want and are actually making an impressive living just writing books. 

To those writers, I have this to say: friends, authors, countrymen: lend me your wallets.


Seriously, though.

Many authors are able to write books at a miraculous speed. I, however, am just not one of those authors. Making peace with that has saved me a ton of anxiety and has allowed me to avoid the oh so ugly comparison trap. There’s a lot of pressure for authors to “keep up,” but if you’re someone who can’t crank out books as fast as some of our other author pals, don’t beat yourself up about it. Everyone has their own particular set of strengths. Someone who can write a book a day may not be able to beat you in Foosball, or a potato sack race.

So don’t worry if you can’t keep up! Just continue writing the best stories you can and who knows? Maybe one day you’ll be able to write a book in a day. But even then, you’ll neeeever be able to beat me in Foosball, honey. Not even in your dreams!





Cover Reveal: TIMELESS by Crystal Collier

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Happy Wednesday, Everybody! Two exciting things are going on today: I’m participating in the cover reveal for Crystal Collier’s upcoming novel, Timeless, and I’m also guest hosting at Auden Johnson’s blog about genre conventions.

Check out Crystal’s gaaaawgeous cover below (and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!), and when you’re done, hop on over to Dark Treasury and check out my guest post. Congrats, Crystal!

TIMELESS (#3 Maiden of Time) by Crystal Collier #CoverReveal
Book Title: TIMELESS (Maiden of Time #3)
Author: Crystal Collier
Genre: YA Paranormal Historical
Release Date: November 1, 2016
In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.
In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.
Can Alexia escape her own clock?


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Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her Blog, FacebookGoodreads, or follow her on Twitter.
Want the first chapter free? Sign up HERE.


How to Use Twitter to Get an Agent – Guest Post by Stephanie Faris

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My quest to get published began before every agent had a website and accepted queries by email. I spent years carrying packages to the post office, paying for return postage, then checking the mail every day to see if a rejection letter had arrived yet.

Today’s aspiring novelists don’t even have to leave the house to land an agent. However, the Internet has also increased the competition. More authors than ever are trying to get the attention of an agent and all of them have access to the basic information on agency websites. However, even if agents list their preferences on those websites, they can change on a whim. My agent posted this a couple of months ago:

“I am dying for a new adult cozy mystery serious; historical or funny contemporary!”

If you were following her and just happened to have such a book on your hard drive, the timing would have been perfect to send it right over.

But there’s an art to participating on Twitter. Here are a few things you should do if you’re looking for an agent.

Follow Agents

Success on Twitter relies heavily on the people you follow. Find writers who have interests similar to yours and start interacting with them. They’ll likely help you build the community you need on the site. As you start querying, make sure you review each agent’s Twitter feed to see if they’ve expressed an interest in anything in particular lately. Here are a few agents who are always helpful:

Find Hashtags

In addition to following agents, you can also use hashtags to join in a conversation. Often the most useful hashtags will be part of events where participating authors get something useful out of it. Here are some hashtags to note:

  • #PitMad—A pitch party where participants tweet three short descriptions of three of their books. Polish your pitches—the next #PitMad is September 8!
  • #PitchWars—This contest has multiple rounds, with mentors and agents reading manuscripts. The most recent one just took place, but read all about it before the next one!
  • #AskAgent—Agents announce that they’re taking questions through the hashtag #AskAgent and Twitter members send them over. Read over past sessions and you’ll likely find some great tips.
  • #MSWL—Under this hashtag, agents and editors post their manuscript wishlists. A must follow, for sure!

Most importantly, participate. Have fun. The more you participate in Twitter events and get to know other authors, the more likely you’ll be to get the information you need to achieve your dreams.

PiperMorgan Joins the Circus

When Piper Morgan has to move to a new town, she is sad to leave behind her friends, but excited for a new adventure. She is determined to have fun, be brave and find new friends.

In Piper Morgan Joins the Circus, Piper learns her mom’s new job will be with the Big Top Circus. She can’t wait to learn all about life under the big top, see all the cool animals, and meet the Little Explorers, the other kids who travel with the show. She’s even more excited to learn that she gets to be a part of the Little Explorers and help them end each show with a routine to get the audience on their feet and dancing along!

Piper Morgan In Charge

In Piper Morgan in Charge, Piper’s mom takes a job in the local elementary school principal’s office. Piper is excited for a new school and new friends—and is thrilled when she is made an “office helper.” But there is one girl who seems determined to prove she is a better helper—and she just so happens to be the principal’s daughter. Can Piper figure out how to handle being the new girl in town once more?

Stephanie Faris

Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism, she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing.


Stephanie is the Simon & Schuster author of 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses. When she isn’t crafting fiction, she writes for a variety of online websites on the topics of business, technology, and her favorite subject of all—fashion. She lives in Nashville with her husband, a sales executive.




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Tips for Writing a Page-Turner – Guest Post by Audrey Mei

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“I’m crying, your book is so great.”

It was one day since I’d sent my manuscript out to a round of beta-readers. I was nervous. Then I started getting real-time updates from people as they read my book.

“I have SO much to do this weekend, but I can’t stop reading your book!”

And I realized, I had written a page-turner. A 120,000-word, historical, literary fiction page-turner! Talk about an oxymoron.

It hadn’t even been my goal to write a big, fat, Chinese family saga that readers would eat up in two days, although I was very (cautiously) flattered when feedback started rolling in sooner than expected. My goal was just to write really well, to cleanse my manuscript of the most pernicious mistakes that writers make. However, in retrospect, I learned from writing Trixi Pudong and the Greater World that to create a true page-turner, you need two things.

The first is Suspense. That’s a no-brainer and it’s pretty easy. Most authors who have completed a manuscript already do this. Basically, it’s a natural law that readers want to know “What happens next?”. So you toss in a dead body, a mysterious new-comer in town, or a missing family member and the reader flips pages to know more. But suspense isn’t enough. Sometimes the reader still doesn’t finish the book, no matter how many loose ends you lay at their feet.

You need the important second element of a page-turner: Clarity.

While I was writing Trixi Pudong, my editor made a comment which I’ll remember forever. It pertained to “Edwin’s Story,” the longest chapter in the book. She had circled a minor character’s name in red ink and written:

“Who is this man again? I had to go back and re-read a few pages to find who this guy is. Be more clear. Don’t make your readers go back. After a while they’ll give up.”

Thus it clicked. Clarity is the real hidden secret to writing a page-turner. You need clarity on every page about who the characters are, where your story takes place, and what the motivations are, otherwise your readers will have to “go back and re-read.” The opposite of page-turning is page-turning backward. This makes a book seem like a slog. I notice this often when I read self-published books that haven’t been properly edited. Inevitably, I find myself asking at regular intervals:

Wait a second, where are we again?
Um, who is this person?
Why does he/she care?
Who’s talking again?
What does he/she mean?
Excuse me, but what’s the big deal again?

So I repeat: Do NOT make your readers go back.

A page-turner flows forward, quickly.

Novel writing is like stage acting. You must exaggerate. It’s not enough to open a chapter with “Wednesday in the car” and then expect the reader to remember this while your characters have a conversation that could’ve taken place in a kitchen, a school, or a train. Um… no. The reader has to feel the time and location, because in real life, we talk differently if we’re in a car, a night club, in an igloo, or in a room with a sleeping baby. We whisper, we yell, we misunderstand each other, we’re distracted. The location and time of the scene has to come across on every page. Same for characters: Their unique voices and motivations have to come across on every page. How is the sister different from the aunt? What’s the difference between the Sergeant and the General? I don’t want my reader to “go back and re-read” to remind themselves why it’s important that Whatsherface said Whatever.

Like many of you, I’m a writer of #DiverseBooks. It’s a huge risk to write a long Chinese family saga that no agent or publisher anywhere would want to represent. And that few readers would relate to or even want to buy. So I’m up against many odds. Therefore, the greatest feedback I have yet received came from the American Midwest, from readers who have never left the country:

“Your book is so exotic! I couldn’t put it down. I had no idea that I’d learn so much about China.”

Very interesting. I just sent my reader on a trip. That was an unexpected mission, accomplished.

And I hope readers also take a page-turning trip to all sorts of new places, with your books.

Many thanks to Quanie for setting up my blog tour, for hosting me, and for being an all-around wonderful, supportive, and inspiring fellow author. 
Trixi Pudong and The Greater World
Trixi Pudong and the Greater World is currently a top-selling Asian American Literature ebook on Amazon.
Find out more at
You can purchase it on Amazon.
Twitter: @TheGritlands
Audrey in Oslo PicAudrey Mei was born in California. She studied in Boston, where she graduated from New England Conservatory with a BM in cello performance and from Tufts University with a BA in biological psychology. In 1996, she received a Fulbright Grant to study cello at Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. Although her field was music, the Fulbright Committee was deeply impressed by her writing and greeted her with the question, “When will your first book appear?” Audrey would like to thank the Committee for their enthusiasm and apologizes for the 20-year delay.
Audrey’s writing as appeared in Gangway Literary Magazine and Glimmer Train, among other publications. She spends her time between Berlin and San Francisco with her husband, daughter, and black Havanese dog.

10 Must-Have GIFs for Writers

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As writers, we experience our shares of ups and downs. Nail a scene? Break out the champagne. Hit the proverbial wall? Cue the tiny violin. And don’t even ASK me how my novel is going if I’m struggling with revisions. Back, demon!

So here are 10 GIFs that I’m sure any writer can relate to. Happy Monday!


When they ask why your novel ain’t done yet

giphy (1)

When you agree to review a novel and then realize the shit is terrible

giphy (2)

When your beta readers love your novel

giphy (3)

When your beta readers hate your novel

giphy (4)

When you get a full manuscript request from an agent

giphy (5)

When you get that standard rejection letter

giphy (6)

When you get your first 5 star review

giphy (7)

When you get your first negative review

giphy (8)

When you realize you have to do a page-one rewrite

giphy (9)

When them revisions on point

Diddy Bop


Diverse Historical Fiction Blog Tour – Sign up!

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I am sooooo super excited to announce the release of Audrey Mei’s debut novel, Trixi Pudong and the Greater World. With the huge push for diverse books, Trixi Pudong and the Greater World is right on time: it’s a family saga with a magical twist that spans from Shanghai’s Golden Age to 2015.  I cannot wait to read it. You can add it on Goodreads here.

Trixi Pudong and The Greater World


Here’s the blurb:

Revolution rages in 20th-century China, a rusting container ship sails the world for two decades, and a tiny fairy is frustrated in a northern harbor town. “Trixi Pudong and the Greater World” is a family saga with a magical twist, spanning Shanghai’s Golden Age to Hamburg, Germany, 2015. It is a tale of four generations of a Chinese family, torn between their deepest dreams and loyalties.

And trailer:

I met Audrey at The San Francisco Writers Conference a few years ago. After a panel of literary agents gave me feedback on the first page of my then WIP, I realized that I needed to cut the first two chapters of the novel. But I wasn’t exactly sure how to approach the new beginning. Enter The Awesome Audrey Mei. We were sitting around in one of the sessions waiting for the speaker when Audrey asked me what my book was about.  I started telling her how the main character receives a mysterious yellow envelope the day of her wedding. “That’s it!” she said. “Start it there. Absolutely.” And the rest is history!

I’m so glad to celebrate this milestone in Audrey’s career. She’s having a blog tour to launch her book and I’m incredibly honored to help her organize it (and to participate in it myself).

If you’d like to sign up, you can do so here or below.


Meet Audrey!

AUDREY!Audrey Mei was born in Oakland, CA, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area before studying cello and biological psychology/pre-med in Boston (New England Conservatory of Music/Tufts University). Following graduation, she received a Fulbright Grant for graduate studies in cello performance at Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland.

Since 2006, Audrey has been dedicated to writing prose and poetry and has been published in Gangway Literary Magazine and Glimmer Train among others, as well as participating for several years in the Berlin English language literary scene. She lives with her husband, daughter, and dog in either Germany or California. Drop her an email to find out which one!

Don’t Even Get Me Started: Self-Publishing and the Need for Diverse Stories

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So last week I wrote about Why Your Whining Behind Needs to Self-Publish, and hopefully, it reached the people it was intended for– talented writers who have been rejected by traditional publishers, not because they aren’t talented, but because of industry rigmarole, the inability of the planets and stars to align on days that end in “y,” and good ol’ fashioned crappy luck (“Oh? Your story is about kung fu squirrels who take over Manhattan? Well, wouldn’t you know! I just sold a story like that last week for a staggering 7 figures, so I can’t take yours on at the time. Sorry, toots!”).

I will say this again: just like spandex, self-publishing is not for everybody. I have friends who are, at this very moment, querying agents (and one friend with a novel so good that if he can’t get an agent this time around, I’ll think this whole darn thing is rigged). As I’ve said before: different strokes for different folk.

But I would also like to take this a step further. Some people assume that when a writer can’t get an agent/publisher, they are either not a good writer, or they are a good writer, but the story is just not where it needs to be. Is this true sometimes? Absolutely. Is this true all the time? Absolutely not. So why, if a writer is talented and the story is great, wouldn’t they get an agent or publisher?

For part of the answer, let’s take a look at author Tia William’s article, Why Aren’t There More Black Women in Fiction? The excerpt I’m including is long, but worth the read:

Last year, I finished my fourth novel, The Perfect Find, about a 40-year-old former superstar fashion editor who, after losing it all, risks her big career comeback for a deliciously steamy romance with a coworker nearly half her age. When my agent shopped it around to publishing houses, the editors loved it. They told me so in their rejection letters, many of which included some variation of the following critique: “Witty, juicy, timely — but given that Jenna’s a black woman working in a white world, we wish this aspect of her were more deeply explored. Can you give more insight into her struggles as a black woman in fashion?”

How could these non-black women decide that I, a black woman, hadn’t adequately explored my character’s race? Jenna isn’t struggling with her blackness, in fashion or otherwise. She’s struggling with starting over and her ticking biological clock and hiding from her boss that she’d just had an orgasm in the fashion closet with the guy three cubicles down — all multilayered, real situations that white characters are allowed to experience, no apologies. You think anyone asked Lauren Weisberger to play up her protagonist’s Jewishness in The Devil Wears Prada? So often, in order to make sense to mainstream audiences, publishers need us to speak to some aspect of the understood “black experience.” Hence, the popularity of Big Issue books on slavery and civil rights and literary tomes theorizing race in America. Where’s the black Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train? Where’s the Sophie Kinsella-esque rom-com confection starring a cheeky Spelman alum? Just once, I’d love for the best-sellers’ lists to include a book about a black coed intrigued by a creepy-hot rich dude who introduces her to whips and chains in his Red Room of Pain (for better or worse).

The fact is, black commercial-fiction heroines aren’t afforded the luxury of nuance. That’s because most of the people making decisions about what Americans read aren’t personally intimate with everyday blackness. 

And then this:

Many black female commercial-fiction writers are driven to self-publish — check out Amazon, Goodreads, and (African American Literature Book Club) to discover new voices.

Tia goes on to say that she found an indie press, Brown Girls Books, for her latest novel, A Perfect Find (which has fabulous reviews, by the way).

Let’s keep it real: if black, brown, and purple writers are not exploring race, or talking about their experiences as a black, brown, or purple writer and what that experience means and how it relates to a deeper meaning of life and society, MANY publishers don’t want to hear our stories. Is there anything wrong with these kinds of stories? Nope. In fact, we need them (and if you haven’t read The Bluest Eye or Nervous Conditions, stop what you’re doing right now and go buy and read these novels).


We also need love stories. And comedies. And Christian fiction. And thrillers. And mysteries. And suspense. And horror. And paranormal. And science fiction. Because we come from all walks of life and have different experiences. And we are also not a monolith.

But there’s great news!  Many readers are starved for stories featuring diverse protagonists (see the “We Need Diverse Books” or the “We Need Diverse Romance” initiatives for examples). The even greater news? With the advances in publishing technology, we can let our voices be heard–even if we’re writing about Kung Fu squirrels who take over Manhattan (or a zany rom com that takes place in Silicon Valley).

Should everybody self-publish? Probably not. There are many people who self-publish stories that probably should have never seen the light of day. They either need more practice, a damn good editor,  a page one rewrite, or a handy-dandy blowtorch. But not everybody who self-publishes does so because their work is subpar. Don’t even get me started!