Novel Writing Tips: The First Page

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Looking for my Follow Fest ’14 post? Click here


Last year I was the recipient of the Vicki Hudson Emerging Writing Prize. Part of the prize was a scholarship to the San Francisco Writers Conference. During the conference (more about that here), I attended something called a First-Page-A-Thon (translation: a panel of literary agents reads the first page of your novel out loud and if they don’t like it, they throw rocks at you until you promise to send them nary a query letter regarding said manuscript). And honey chile, let me tell you: that was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life.

Picture it: February, 2013. An unsuspecting Quanie sits in a conference room at the Mark Hopkins hotel, next to her friend, Lindsay, shaking in her boots (and she doesn’t even wear boots). One of the agents, after laughing diabolically, picks from the pile and begins to read the first submission.

*Insert beads of sweat on Quanie’s forehead*

So I’m sitting there, biting my poor nails to the nubs until finally, I recognize the first line from my work in progress. Lindsay jabbed me and whispered, “That one’s yours!” I ducked in my seat, wishing that I’d taken my invisibility cloak.

This is how it went: during the reading of your manuscript, any agent could raise their hand at the point on the page that they would stop reading had they received your manuscript via regular query. If two agents raised their hand, the agent stopped reading your page and all the agents gave feedback about why they would have rejected the submission.

It was probably one of the most eye-opening experiences for me as a writer. You would not believe how many times agents don’t get past the first paragraph, and in one instance, the first line.

Here’s my takeaway from that experience:

1. This may seem like common writer knowledge, but don’t start your story with a character waking up from a dream. Why not? Because it’s been done to death.

2. Don’t start the story with someone answering the phone. I think one of the reasons the agents listed this as a pet peeve is because they see it so often and they’d like to see a character doing something more interesting when they’re introduced. Quite a few of the manuscripts began with characters answering the phone and you know what happened? The agents stopped reading. Yeah, I know: ouch.

3. One agent said the phrase “my heart pounded” is an instant turn off for her. She said as soon as she sees it, she stops reading because it’s so unoriginal.

4. We need to know who the main character is right away, so putting too many characters on the first page might not be the best idea. You might be able to keep your characters straight in your head, but readers picking up your book for the first time need to be eased into the story. It might be a good idea to show your main character, in action, preferably doing something interesting (and hopefully, not waking from a dream or answering the phone!) and then, as we get to know him/her, introduce us to other characters.

5. Too much description is a no-no (this was the problem with my first page). I had everything going on except Mardi Gras, honey. Ain’t nobody got time for that! So what did I do? I took the constructive criticism, reevaluated the first page of my novel, and realized that (gulp) the story didn’t start until chapter 3. Yes: chapter 3. I cut the first two chapters and haven’t looked back since.

My two cents? If you can break the rules successfully, then everyone will bow to your greatness. And if you don’t? Then, well…people will refer you right back to the rules.

What about others? What are some strategies that you employ when writing your first page? And as readers, what are some of your first page pet peeves?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

*Sidenote: Last Tuesday my husband and I welcomed our little girl into the world! As you can imagine, this is quite an exciting and busy time for us as first-time parents. I will try my best to return blog visits, but please bear with me!*


Follow Fest ’14

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FollowFest 2014


It’s that time of year again! Not only is it almost time for Sugarcane Festival, but blogger and author extraordinaire, Melissa Maygrove, is hosting Follow Fest again! Woo-hoo! *Fist pumps*

Purpose: To meet other writers and build our platforms.

Follow Fest ’14 runs thru Friday. There’s still time to sign up! More details here.

So without further adieu!

Quanie Miller

Fiction or nonfiction?
Definitely fiction!

What genres do you write?
Paranormal and romantic comedy.

Are you published?
Yep. My debut novel is a romantic comedy called It Ain’t Easy Being Jazzy. My first paranormal release, The New Mrs. Collins, will be available via Amazon October 13. You can add it to your Goodreads shelf here 🙂

Do you do anything in addition to writing?
Yes, I beta read. I also do some developmental editing.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a wife and (brand new!) mother. I’m from New Iberia, Louisiana, one of America’s prettiest towns. You can read my full bio here.

What are you reading right now?
I have quite a few things in my TBR pile. Up next is Finding Forever by Christina C. Jones.

Which authors influenced you the most?
I’d definitely have to say R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike.

Where can people connect with you?
You can subscribe to my blog by clicking “follow” on the bottom of the page. And here are other places you can find me hanging out online:




She Writes:



Do you have a newsletter?
Not yet.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
Let’s see…I probably make the best pralines you’ve ever had (Okay. Maybe not better than grandma’s!). I’m also happy to participate in release day activities/blog tours for other authors (like posting covers, excerpts, author interviews, etc). Just ask! I’m also hosting a blog tour for my upcoming paranormal release. If you’d like to sign up you can find the details here.

Thanks for stopping by! And please hop over to to meet some of the other authors participating in Follow Fest this week.

Until next time!

Tips for Writing the Middle of your Novel

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A few weeks ago I wrote about the first 3 chapters of a novel. I wrote the post after discovering a call for beta readers where the author said: “Well, the first few chapters are kind of boring anyway. It doesn’t get good until the middle.” If you recall, that statement made me cry real tears.

I think it’s safe to say that if the beginning of a novel doesn’t hook a reader, then, well…said reader will probably not finish the book. But I have to tell you, folks. I’ve been reading books for quite some time now and I have been duped several times by books with great opening chapters that fell flat as the story went along.

And that got me to thinking about novel middles.

One of my book pet peeves is this: don’t make promises to me that you can’t deliver. In other words, don’t start the book with so much momentum that you can’t maintain it throughout.

“But, Quanie,” you ask, “how do I maintain momentum?”

A little something we like to call rising action. A writing professor once said this to me about three act structure: get your main character up a tree and throw rocks at him until you get him down.

Say what now, sugar? 

Story beginning: get character up a tree. Translation: at the beginning of your story life for your main character will be normal. Something will happen to disrupt that normalcy. Said character will generally spend the rest of the story trying to restore order, or solve said problem. Example: Your main character, Lucy, is living life as normal until she finds her husband face down in a bowl of soup. She checks his pulse and discovers there is none. Good golly, Ms. Molly: poor Bruce is dead.

Story middle: throw rocks at main character. Translation: as the character attempts to solve the problem, they will face obstacles that will get increasingly harder to tackle. In other words: no more Mrs. Nice Author. Put your characters through the ringer and leave your readers on the edge of their seats as to how they are possibly going to survive/solve said problem/get the boy back/etc. Example: Lucy discovers that her husband didn’t have a heart attack, and that in fact, he was poisoned. But on her search to find out the truth, it’s discovered that:

1. Bruce was having an affair with Lucy’s sister.

2. Lucy has some gambling debts and a failing sporting goods store.

3. Someone increased Bruce’s life insurance policy to 2.5 million.

4.  Bruce and Lucy attended a charity event the night before and had a terrible argument. Lucy was heard screaming that she would kill him (she doesn’t remember it. Moscato always makes her black out).

5. Because of the affair, her gambling debts, the increase in life insurance, and the threat, the police think that Lucy did it and charge her with the murder.

6. To top that off, the money in her and Bruce’s checking account has mysteriously disappeared so she has no money for a lawyer.

7. Many years ago, Lucy had an affair with Bruce while he was married to the leading prosecutor on the case, so the woman wants her head on a stick.

8. On Lucy’s computer, someone had been searching “How to get away with killing your husband.”

9. Her children are against her and are now refusing her refuge. Her face is plastered around the city so she is forced to go on the run (with a bad wig and an even worse French accent) until she can find out the truth….

Story ending: get the character down. Translation: the main character solves the problem. Life has gone back to normal or perhaps things will never be the same. Hopefully, the character has changed or learned something throughout their journey. Example: Lucy finds out that her sister (that cow!) set her up. She proves it by faking her own death, sneaking into the sister’s house, and setting up a nanny cam that records a confession. She plays it at her trial as the prosecutor weeps. Lucy moves to Montana and starts a new life.

Of course, every story is different (especially those that might be more character driven), but I think it’s safe to say that if your middle falls flat, it’s likely that readers won’t continue to the end.

What about others? What are some of your novel middle pet peeves? And to authors: what are some of the strategies you employ to keep those middles interesting?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Feature Friday! Interview with Author Rochelle Campbell!

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It’s been an exciting week here at Quanie Talks Writing! On Monday I revealed the cover for my southern paranormal novel, The New Mrs. Collins, yesterday I interviewed author Chrys Fey about her latest release, 30 Seconds, and today I have the absolute pleasure of talking to paranormal author, Rochelle Campbell, about her newest novel, Fury from Hell.

Phew! Excuse me while I catch my breath!

Rochelle was kind of enough to answer some questions about her latest release and writing process so I hope you enjoy! And be sure to hop on over to Goodreads and add Fury from Hell to your TBR list!


What inspired your book?

Novel Writing Month, affectionately called NaNoWriMo, was the impetus for Fury From Hell.  In the spring of 2012, I knew I wanted to write a book but wanted to do it in an atmosphere where I could reach out for support.  NaNoWriMo is just the place for that as they have heavily trafficked forums offering mentors for all genres and personalities.

Secondly, I wanted to break out of the women’s fiction/literary short story writing rut I was in.  I decided to write something extremely different from anything I had ever attempted.  I immediately knew the new story needed to have a creature in it but I was completely against doing vampires.  Then, one day, I saw a plume of misty steam coming from an orange construction cone in the middle of the street.  It occurred to me that something could be hidden in that mist and could secretly invade any one of the hundreds of passerby on the busy NYC street.  After playing with this idea over the next several months, the beginnings of the story of Fury From Hell emerged in time for the start of NaNoWriMo.  I put down a detailed outline the week before NaNo began and on November 1st, 2012 I began to write the story that became Fury From Hell.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I truly cannot answer this question because there are so many answers.  ‘Fury’ came from a random walk where I spotted mist in the street.  A number of my short stories stemmed from dreams.  A couple of book ideas came out of research I conducted for other aspects of my life and I played the What if? game and extrapolated and found a kernel of a story and expanded upon it.

My inspiration to write a particular piece could come from anywhere.

How does your upbringing influence your writing?

Hmmm.  What a great question!  Off the top, I would say that my upbringing has absolutely nothing to do with my writing.  My family did not read much else other than the Bible and Danielle Steele novels (and Laura Goodman’s Zodiac signs!).  However, I was encouraged to read, read and read some more.  My aunt was a librarian which provided me access to millions of books.  I read so many books I’ve forgotten a lot of what I read!

However, a reading legacy was my childhood and an essential part of my upbringing.  Sneaking and reading books that would cause a ruckus in the household became a fun pastime.  Hence, books about witchcraft, demons, fantasies, goblins and that whole realm of otherwordly beings opened up a new vista of teenage rebellion.  Clearly, this became the foundation for my passion for the paranormal genre.

Do you write in other genres?

Yes, my other book, Leaping Out on Faith, is a book of four short stories that each depict a woman in a challenging life situation.  Each woman must decide what her next action will be knowing that the rest of her life will be irrevocably changed.

How have you dealt with criticism and rejection?

Another great question.  I am one of those that has kept every single rejection letter I ever received.  I have ‘good’ rejections and ‘bad’ rejections.  However, we all know that a rejection is a rejection is an “I’ll pass”!  LOL.

By saving all of these letters, I have accumulated over the years a mini database of what editors, literary agents and literary journals are seeking in that time period.  It gives me a clear indication of how I can improve my work and better my chances next time I submit.  Using feedback from a literary agent and an editor at a major publishing firm, I was able to adjust my work and develop it into a viable story.  From their comments, I knew the story was entertaining but there were technical things that had to be addressed in the manuscript.  I took a literary writing course to assist me in addressing those technical writing issues.  To answer your question, I use criticism and rejection to propel me to the next level in whatever I am doing.

What’s the best and worst piece of writing advice that you’ve ever gotten?

Best Piece of Advice: You must learn the importance of and how to plot out your stories.  I have found that I am a plotter.  I must have a sequence of events present in my work, or whatever book I am reading must have one, or else I get crazy.  This is partly why I never believed I would like, or even be able to write literary fiction.  The best fiction is well-written prose that has a tight plot and engaging tangential sub-plots that keep the story humming along.

Worst Piece of Advice: Write what you know.  What does that even mean??  It’s so trite and overused that it is devoid of meaning.  The only thing I can say is good about this piece of advice is to see if there is something that you do know well and see if you do want to write about it.  There are a ton of things that I know about that I would not necessarily want to write about.  I know how to clean a kitchen stove.  No one wants to read about that.  I know how to knit baby clothes, mitten and a cable-knit sweater.  I didn’t happen to notice any knitting books on the New York’s Times Best Sellers list…

You get my point.  If you’re going to write what you know then write with an eye to what would be of interest to others, what you may know that someone else may not.  Or, if what you know has a special twist to it that could add value to someone else’s life than write about that.  Write what you know is way to broad.  The other point is, sometimes you don’t want to write what you know about/experienced.  You want to write about something you don’t know about and come at it from a newbie’s perspective which also has value.  Okay, I’ll stop ranting now…

What are you working on next?

After working on ‘Fury’ for a little over two years, I am taking a bit of a sabbatical to regroup and recharge.  I will be reading stories on my to-be-read shelf including Tom Perrot’s The Leftovers.  I will finally be able to finish Deborah Harness’ The Book of Life.  Then, I’ll turn my attentions to a few WIPs I have been tinkering with for the past few years and choose one of them.

As a reader, what are some of your book pet peeves?

Don’t bore me.  While that is highly subjective if the story does not grab me by chapter 3, I will put it down.  Rarely do I pick it up again.  I prefer books to have creatures, angels, demons, and the like in them.  Or, if I shift genres, I want to learn something that I can potentially use in my life to improve my quality of living and being.  I can get this from fiction, or nonfiction.  For that matter, I can get this from a cookbook!  LOL.

How do you balance writing and marketing yourself?

Initially, in the first 3-4 weeks of your book’s launch there is no balance.  You must push and push to gain awareness and interest in your book.  This holds especially true if you are an independent (indie) author.  You live, or die, by your marketing efforts and your social media influence.  Once the first month or so has passed and you’ve generated buzz for your book, you can pull back a bit but not much.  Why?  Because now it’s time to begin another book!

What’s some advice that you’d give to aspiring writers?

Keep your day job!  LOL.  Seriously, if you want to write ‘professionally’ you need to not pressure yourself into deadlines, grids, formatting, outlining, elaborate schema, fancy writing programs that will do all of your plotting and story structuring for you (Sure!  And, I have a bridge to sell to you.)  Don’t get me wrong, there are many programs out there that are phenomenal in helping you to organize your thoughts and story scenes.  However, you are the writer and you should never relinquish the control of your creativity to a program, or a machine (shades of Asimov’s I, Robot…).

Work from your heart.  Allow what’s inside of you – no matter what it is – to have the space and freedom to tumble out of your creative mind and onto your page, or screen.  Give yourself room to expand the idea without questioning your sanity.  And most importantly, grow and develop your fledging idea until it is a fully fleshed out ideal.  Then, it will be time to workshop your work-in-progress (WIP).  Some great places to workshop you work are:

Zoetrope –

Writer’s Carnival –

What’s something that people would be surprised to know about you? 

That I have not cut my hair in 8 years.

Well, that was fun! A big shout-out to Rochelle for stopping by. And don’t forget to check out the cover, blurb, and buy links for Fury From Hell, along with Rochelle’s bio and social media links, below.

Happy Friday!




Fury From Hell is a paranormal thriller about good vs. evil.  Here, the good is in the form of Detective Jennifer Holden, a homicide cop that is haunted by her own personal demons of a murder she committed when she was just a teenager.  The trauma she suffered at the hands of social agency after agency hardened Jennifer into a staunch atheist making her gun and her bank account the only things she truly believes in.

We meet Detective Holden, shortly before she begins working on her first solo murder case.  The victim is Kyma Barnes who was brutally raped and killed. As Kyma’s soul leaves her body, a demon being called by a coven of dark witches at nearby Prospect Park, is drawn to the dying woman by her death throes.  Fury Abatu offers to avenge Kyma’s death.  The price?  The dying woman’s soul.  Kyma gives it gladly to ensure the man who killed her pays dearly.

Buy Fury From Hell on Amazon

Connect with Rochelle online! 

Twitter: @NoteBkBlogairy



Amazon Author Central:

FFH Author Pic_Aug 2014

“Hmm, I wonder what form the demon in Book 2 will take…”

Rochelle Campbell has been writing on and off for over 20 years.  To date, the off-writing portion seems to have provided fodder for the writing phase of her career as she currently has, five novel-length works in progress.  Early in her career, she did legwork for The New York Times and freelanced for a number of local and regional newspapers and magazines.  However, her calling – fiction writing – became apparent after a two-year writer’s mentoring course in the early 2000’s.  From that course, several short stories emerged that readers and fellow writers urged Rochelle to develop them into longer works.

After a quiescent decade, story ideas abounded and are being developed and scheduled for bringing into full written form.

Along the way, two short stories have been published by literary journals.  They are Chambray Curtains Blowing in the Wind [] and How Charlie Ray Saved My Life [].









New Release! 30 Seconds by Chrys Fey and Author Interview!

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Happy Thursday, everyone! It’s an exciting week here at Quanie Talks Writing! This week I unveiled the cover for my paranormal novel, The New Mrs. Collins, and today I have the honor of hosting author Chrys Fey to celebrate the release of her novella, 30 Seconds. And honey, let me tell you: this is one action-packed story! The mob. Lost memories. Forbidden love. Hunky men wearing no shirts…isn’t this the stuff that great stories are made of?

Chrys was kind enough to stop by and answer a few questions about her release and writing process. Once you’re done reading the interview, be sure to add 30 Seconds to your shelf on Goodreads!

So without further adieu!

1. Tell us how you came up with the idea for 30 Seconds.

It all started with a dream. I was dreaming that I was spinning on a swivel chair to rock music when hands stopped me and lips touched mine. I opened my eyes to see a hot officer in full uniform who said, “I shouldn’t have done that.” When I woke up, I pondered a story where a woman falls in love with a cop even though she knows she shouldn’t. Not only did that dream spark the idea for 30 Seconds, but it actually became a scene in 30 Seconds.

2. Let’s talk 30 Seconds, the movie: who will play Dani? Who’ll play Blake? And tell us why:)

This is a hard question. Not because I haven’t thought of it, but because the actor who originally inspired Blake was Paul Walker, who passed away last year. I still can’t quite believe that. During the final editing rounds, I started picturing Dani as Rachelle Lefevre from the TV show Under the Dome. She once was on a show, Gifted Hands, where she was a doctor, and I think she’d make a great Dani.

3. There’s a scene in the beginning of the story where Dani is forced to hide in an enclosed space with the oh so hunky Officer Herro. If you had to pick someone to be trapped with, who would it be and why?

I thought about this question a while and finally decided on Criss Angel. Not only is he nice on the eyes but if we got stuck, he’d be able to free us with his magic. *wink*

4. The main character is a doctor. Did you have to do much research on medical terms or did you just wing it?

I did a little research on a scene when Dani is in the ER treating a young girl who has a serious head injury. I had to know what indications there would be of brain trauma and what Dani would do to treat it. But everything else came easily to me. I always used to say that I must’ve been a doctor (as well as a cop) in a past life, because it feels natural when I’m writing about it.

5. Dani has a thing for coffee flavored ice cream. If you two had a standoff over the last bowl, who would win? And why?

Hands down…Dani! She is feisty and would certainly get dirty in the battle for the last bowl of ice cream. All she’d have to do is glare at me and I’d pass the bowl to her and give her a spoon.

6. How is 30 Seconds different from your previous book?

“Hurricane Crimes” revolved around a category five hurricane, and the hero, Donovan Goldwyn, was a suspected murderer, so there was a lot of mystery around him. But with 30 Seconds, the only form of weather my characters see is snow, and Blake Herro is a good guy from the first page to the last.

7. Do you write in other genres?

Absolutely! I could never restrain myself to just one genre. I may be publishing romantic-suspense now, but I also write supernatural-thrillers, paranormal, and I’ve even dabble in science-fiction and western.

8. How does your upbringing influence the things that you write?

My upbringing influences a lot in my stories. I don’t really have the best relationship with my dad (we just grew apart), so quite a lot of my characters have dead-beat dads or absent fathers.

9. Did you have any moments of doubt with this book? How did you push through it?

I had a lot of moments of doubt and the biggest one came close to publication. I actually took it out of the galley phase to do more editing. I’m blessed to have a wonderful, understanding editor who wanted me to be one hundred percent satisfied with the outcome. I wouldn’t have been able to push through without her support.

10. Can you tell us about your writing process?

A lot of my stories usually start with an idea that manifests as a dream. I begin writing as soon as I can and I don’t stop until I type “The End” at the bottom of the manuscript. I always wait a while (maybe two weeks) before I begin editing, which usually revolves around 4-5 rounds for me. When I can finally read my story and appreciate it like a reader would, I pass it on to a couple of beta readers. With their eye and advice, I’m then confident enough to begin the submission process.

13. Tell us about your journey to publication.

You know the Great Wall of China? Imagine walking that from beginning to end. Twice. That’s how long my journey to publication felt. I was trying to find representation for a supernatural-thriller series when I realized I would have to break into publishing another way. That’s when I sent Hurricane Crimes to The Wild Rose Press and got a contract.

That all sounds very fast and easy, but I had been querying agents for my series for about five years, and struggling to even get flash fiction published. When you’re pursing a dream, it takes forever. But when it comes true, everything happens quickly.

11. Worst piece of advice you’ve ever gotten as a writer. And the best.

This one is kind of funny. The best advice I’ve ever received was from an agent who told me to cut out passive voice. The worst advice I’ve ever received was from a beta reader who told me to cut out phrases like “was walking” and “was sitting” because it was passive voice. Why is that the worst? Because it’s not true! I explain that in this post on my blog: Passive Voice Misconception.

12. What are you working on now?

I am currently working on three projects. The first is something special for anyone who enjoys 30 Seconds. The second is the third book in my Disaster Crime series. And the third is a brand new project I was not anticipating. I’m making more head way on that one than the first two works I mentioned. I’m not even sure how to define it, but it’s about individuals with supernatural abilities and the United States government.

14. What’s something that people would be surprised to know about you?

I don’t drive. I never have, because like Dani, I am afraid of being in a car accident.

15. Any advice for aspiring writers?

I have tons of advice, which I share on my blog, but the thing I always repeat is not to pay attention to every writing rule you hear. Authors and editors created rules based off how they wrote, and what they liked, but we don’t have to follow all of them. If you hear a rule that sounds absurd then you don’t have to follow it. If you hear a rule that makes perfect sense, then by all means adapt it into your writing. But don’t ever feel pressured to follow something just because people say you should. Other than grammar rules…those you should follow!

That’s it, everyone! Be sure to check out the cover, blurb, and buy links for 30 Seconds below along with Chrys’ author bio and social media links. Until next time!




When Officer Blake Herro agreed to go undercover in the Mob, he thought he understood the risks. But he’s made mistakes and now an innocent woman has become their target. He’s determined to protect her at all costs.

The Mob’s death threat turns Dr. Dani Hart’s life upside down, but there is one danger she doesn’t anticipate. As she’s dodging bullets, she’s falling in love with Blake. With danger all around them, will she and Blake survive and have a happy ending, or will the Mob make good on their threat?

Book Links:

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

The Wild Rose Press:



chrysfeyAUTHORPICChrys Fey is a lover of rock music just like Dani Hart in 30 Seconds. Whenever she’s writing at her desk, headphones are always emitting the sounds of her musical muses -especially that of her favorite band, 30 Seconds to Mars, the inspiration behind the title.

30 Seconds is her second eBook with The Wild Rose Press. Her debut, Hurricane Crimes, is also available on Amazon.

 Discover her writing tips on her blog, and connect with her on Facebook. She loves to get to know her readers!

Author Links:




The New Mrs. Collins – Cover Reveal!

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Some of you may already know this, but I’m getting ready to release my first paranormal novel and today I’m sharing the cover with you! Woo-hoo! *Cues marching band*

And if any of you kind folks would like to sign up for my blog tour, you can do so by following this link.

So without further adieu….

collins_promo (1) (3)


Title: The New Mrs. Collins
Author: Yours Truly!
Genre: Southern Paranormal Fiction
Length: 250 Pages
Format: eBook
Cover Artist: The truly fantastic Ravven
Release Date: 10/13/2014


In the small town of Carolville, Louisiana, no one knows that Adira Collins inherited mystic powers from her great-grandmother. All they know is that she’s beautiful, poised, graceful, and ruthless—especially when it comes to love. And no one knows that more than Leena Williams, who was all set to marry the man of her dreams until Adira swooped into town and stole the man’s heart.

Being left at the altar is bad enough, but Leena and her ex share custody of their son, so she has to see the new Mrs. Collins on a regular basis.

And it burns every time she does.

But soon, Leena starts to suspect that there is more to Adira Collins than meets the eye. And it’s not because she owns some kinky lingerie shop or allegedly insulted the pastor’s wife: it’s the strange way she can make a door close without touching it, or take one look at something and make it drop dead at her feet. Leena starts digging for answers and soon discovers that, unlike her public persona, Adira’s true nature is somewhere on the other side of grace. She also learns, a little too late, that some secrets are better left buried.

Add the book on Goodreads!

So what do you guys think? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Now excuse me while I go and get down with my bad self….


Overcoming Fear of Completion

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It’s the first Wednesday of September and you know what that means! Another installment of Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

Co-hosts for September are Laura at My Baffling BrainMark KoopmansShah Wharton, and Sheena-Kay Graham. Please be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello! And happy anniversary IWSG! Today marks 3 years. Woo-hoo!


A few months ago, YA author Dawn Brazil wrote a blog post titled “Are you Sabotaging Yourself?” In the post, Dawn gives some tough love and cautions us against setting ourselves up for failure.

She ends the post with this: “Are YOU the real reason you haven’t reached all your goals? Stop making excuses and make opportunities.”

 *Goes in the corner. Hides. Writes letter that goes something like this: Dear Dawn, please stop spying on me.*

I am pretty much done with my current project (when I say “done” I mean that I’m at the point of having read it so many times that my eyes are bleeding so I’ve taken to reading it while standing on my head so that I can actually make sense of the words) but, as it always happens when I get to the tail end of a project, I find myself dragging my feet. When the mornings come, I have several excuses as to why I can’t do those last few edits:

1. I’m preggers, and who in their right mind sets a publication deadline for right before they’re scheduled to go into labor???
2. I need to be outside, making sure that the neighbor isn’t trying to steal our recycling bin again.
3. I don’t want to miss those Brazilian Butt Lift commercials because, dude, I like, really need that in my life.

There are other reasons I give myself, most of them weak, all of them B.S, and you want to know the fascinating part? This happens with EVERY project I work on. Every project? Yes. Once, someone (apparently a mind reading friend of mine), forwarded me an article on the fear of completion. I didn’t read the article, but I imagine that it defined F.O.C. somewhat like this:

Fear of Completion: That very wicked thing that happens to all writers right before they are done with a novel. Causes writers to avoid their novel at all costs. May cause writers to watch an excessive amount of television, take up gardening in the winter, or abandon said project all together and start a new novel from scratch.

Remedies: none.

I also imagine that there was a picture of yours truly right next to that definition. Confession time: my novel has been back from the proofreader since February. Yes, February. And no matter how much I’d like to blame not having it ready to send to the formatter on pregnancy brain, the truth is that I’m afraid that after I publish the book (gasp!) people won’t like it.

There. I said it. My fear of completion stems from the fact that I’m afraid of being laughed out of the city. I mean, just because I like my novel doesn’t mean others will. What if I’m like those delusional contestants on American Idol who think they’re going to win the competition even though when they sing they sound like a moose being thrown over a balcony? I worry about that. Oh my God; am I one of those people? I think I’m a good writer but what if I’m really delusional?

I tell myself that if I were then someone would have told me a long time ago, “Honey, maybe writing isn’t for you. How about fencing? Have you considered it?” (But then again, apparently no one has told those poor American Idol contestants that they can’t sing, so maybe, I tell myself, I should bury my project in the back yard and get out while the getting is good.)

I want to curl up on the sofa, pull the covers over my head, and never have to think about people reading my novel, hating it, and writing a horrid review.

But you can’t do that.  Why not? Because you’re a writer, ditzo. And if you don’t confront this fear you’re going to spend the rest of your life being one of those writers who is always talking about their writing career but never doing a darn thing about it. I could always take up fencing. Hush up and finish the darn thing, will you?

I think the only way to combat this fear is to:

1. Write and know that there is no such thing as perfection.

2. Expect that some people will like your novel, some people won’t.

3. Realize that despite your fears, you might actually be successful. 

4. Accept the fact that your writing career is your responsibility. Fear or not, you owe it to yourself to let your voice be heard.

So I’m working on overcoming this fear, but it’s tough. What about others? How do you deal with fear of completion? I’d love to hear your thoughts!