There are authors who dream of their debut novel’s future cover the way some brides dream of their wedding gowns.

I am not one of those authors.

Did I have something in mind as I wrote the book? Yes, but it was a cartoon. I’m not a designer in any way, shape or form, and I knew the professionals at Pocket Books would come up with something far better than my cave painting. Designers are, after all, magicians of sorts.

The designer who did my cover is a veritable Dumbledore. Beyond a magician—a wizard.

I adore my cover. ADORE. It blew me away. When I opened the pdf, I actually gasped (just ask my cube mates). I had nothing in mind, really, except I thought maybe there’d be a man, possibly half-dressed, somewhere in the vicinity. Instead I got this stunning, painterly image, elegant, sophisticated, graceful and powerful. It was astounding. As one of the Firebirds (co-finalists in the Golden Hearts last year) put it, the cover gods smiled upon me.

Now, as I’m writing the follow-up book to Thrown, I feel extra pressure to make it live up to this woman and her steed. I want to be worthy of the gorgeousness. I don’t want to disappoint the cover! Can you blame me?

This December, look for this cover wherever you like to buy e-books. (And buy one. Please!)





  • OBB and me.

    5 Nov

    My husband is an actor. Yes, I am secretly married to George Clooney.

    Okay not really. (Damn! I’d love to have a pet pig. That’s truly the only reason I’d EVER think it would be in any way pleasant to be Mrs. George Clooney. Honey*.)

    My husband is actually handsomer and talenteder than Mr. Clooney. (I realize I just lost a few readers because “talenteder” isn’t a word.) Here’s what I’ve learned, being the spouse of an active thespian: You have to participate in what a seasoned theater person told me is “Obligation Theatre.”

    What is Obligation Theatre, or OT? As much as possible, if an actor you know is in a nearby production, you must attend said production. For me, it’s OT by association (OTBA). Depending on the show, it can be rewarding or painful, and is usually somewhere in the middle. But your actor-friend is always happy to see you after the show and thanks you for coming, so that’s nice.

    The other benefit? It guilts actor-friends into attending my husband’s shows. (If you’re interested and live in or near Denver, he’s starring in the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center production of “A Christmas Story” this holiday season—fun for the whole family!) So he’s got that going for him. Which is nice.

    How does this relate to writing? My “pre-published” novel, Thrown, was a 2012 finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart award. A bunch of Firebirds (the official nickname of the class of 2012) have secured publishing contracts and their Golden Heart books are now coming out as real live novels.


    An author’s version of OT is what I’ve christened OBB, or Obligation Book Buying. I feel obligated to buy the books written by my fellow Firebirds, read them, then review them in as many places as possible. So far I have two: Susan Boyer’s Lowcountry Boil and Tracy Brogan’s Crazy Little Thing. I love buying these books! For one thing, it makes me happy to support my “classmates.” For another, it’s just plain cool to see a book for sale on Amazon by someone I know personally. For a third—and this reason is no slouch—it gives me hope that I too, will be published soon. They did it, why can’t I? It gives me full-blown, unmitigated, hooked-on-steroids optimism.

    I hope I’ll have to do a ton of OBB in the years to come. And, of course, I hope my author friends will follow suit after I get The Call.

    As always, thank you for your support!

    * In case my husband reads this.


  • Writing a novel has changed my day-to-day life in ways I could never have imagined. Yes, there’s the actual writing, which (usually) happens daily. But there are other ways too. Not big ways, but small ways that often take place online.

    Take blogs. Before writing, I never used to read blogs regularly. Blogs were for the politically active who needed to keep track of which senator said what to whom and what it all meant. Blogs were for the family and friends of the self-indulgent who needed to record their children’s rashes, their cat’s progress through a feline MENSA program or their attempts to build the perfect bong. Boy was I wrong.

    Now, I read Roni Loren’s Fiction Groupie blog as though she’s paying me (she isn’t…yet). I hear about blogs via several email chats, loops, etc. that I subscribe to. I don’t read other blogs as regularly, but I’m going to blame that on the fact that my company blocks blogs on my computer at work because obviously, they are the work of the devil. Or our competitors. (Who are also in cahoots with the devil.)

    I also have acquired new vicarious personal publishing holidays, or VPPHs. These are the days that my author friends’ books come out. I am delighted to find that I am genuinely excited for them and very much enjoy downloading their works to my Nook. Every time I do, I imagine the day when I’ll do the same for Thrown.

    Besides VPPHs, I have also acquired new friends via the World Wide Web. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, email loops…they have all introduced me to some damn cool and talented people who are out there writing books. Some I have met in person, some I have yet to meet. Either way, it has been rewarding. Plus, on Facebook, I can pretend Susan Elizabeth Phillips is one of my personal Facebook friends because she tells me what she’s doing every day. I’m still waiting for that invitation to go on family vacations with her, but I know it’s coming…any day now…she’s just busy…

    Writing has made me more of an observer. I now carry a notebook in my purse and a little voice recorder in the car, just in case I think of a spectacularly brilliant line of dialogue or witness what Pam Houston calls a “glimmer,” or a moment or interaction that could be the kernel of a story or scene (or whole book!). I used to say, “Oh, I’ll remember that!” and I seldom would, so now I whip out the notebook/recorder and free up those brain cells that would have forgotten it anyway.

    Writing has also made me a different kind of reader, for better or worse. Now I can’t just enjoy a book—oh no, I have to notice craft. How does the author handle her characters’ points of view? What is the sentence structure like? Ooh, that’s a good phrase, I might have to use that (properly altered). This book is superbly paced—how did the author achieve that? And on it goes. NOT that I don’t like reading—I still love it—but the genie is out of the bottle and I will never be able to just read ever again.

    But it’s all good. Sometimes change is difficult. These changes are welcome.

    Thank you again for your continued support!


  • WARNING: This post is not mostly about writing. If you’ve come here expecting a big ol’ post about writing, sorry. I’ve had an adventure further afield.

    Yesterday I went on my first audition for a musical in a long time. Why in the world would I do this? Why the sudden urge to put myself through something as nerve-wracking as a singing audition if I didn’t have to? Was someone holding a Nine to my head and counting back from five? No.

    One reason is Tom (husband) is now Mr. Theatre (yes, with the pretentious “re” ending), and that was all my fault because I gave him acting lessons for his birthday and the rest is history. He has been making chicken noises around the house to shame me into auditioning for something. So the short answer as to why I auditioned is, I had to shut up the chicken.

    But the other answer is, I wanted to. And I’ve finally accumulated enough self-confidence and courage to do it. I was a theater major, but I never auditioned for anything after graduating (and precious little while in college, truth be told) because I was in New York and never thought I was anywhere near good enough. Since I never auditioned, we’ll never know if I was right.

    After a certain theater person nudged me to audition for “The Drowsy Chaperone,” which the Vintage Theatre is doing this spring, I started taking voice lessons. Then the audition announcement came out and I took a deep breath, figuratively closed my eyes, and signed up. I was committed. The chicken lost a few decibels.

    As the audition date neared, I grasped for analogies, as I am wont to do. Maybe it’s the writer in me, but I can’t help myself. I decided it was like riding in a dressage show. I am a complete newbie to the performance side of the theater scene in general, and the Denver theater scene in particular. I equate this with having a dressage horse who is serviceable, but not what anyone would call spectacular. My lovely mare, Brooke, is a thoroughbred who is built downhill (NOT good for dressage); in dressage shows, we would have to compete against warmbloods who were imported from Europe because that’s where you go if you want a truly spectacular dressage horse. In a dressage show, you have to ride a “test,” or a pattern of movements that you memorize. In a musical audition, you prepare a song. In dressage, you can’t control who rides against you, all you can control is your ride. You practice and practice and prepare and prepare; you bathe your horse and braid her mane; you polish your good boots; you get to the show early and warm up appropriately. You go into the ring on time and ride your test as accurately as you can. That’s the part you can control. You hope that the riders with the European warmbloods will not ride as accurately as you, and then you have a shot at beating them.

    Same with singing. In my analogy the European warmbloods are the established Denver theater actors, the cadre of performers who know each other and who the directors know, too. To compete against them, all I could do was practice my song until I knew it backward and forward. I chose a dress to wear that was close to what the character I wanted to play would wear. I got a mani/pedi with deep red polish, again because the character would have done the same. I drank lots of water and warmed up in the car on the way in. I told myself I could do it.

    And then I did it. I rode an accurate test. I did everything my voice teacher told me to do, I took my time, I “owned” the stage, and I sang my song. I was on key, I was in character, I was loud, I belted the high note I used to fear. As far as I could tell, I did exactly what I wanted to do. I was nervous, yes, but it was the same kind of nervous I’d get at a horse show—not debilitating, but I shook a little. But I rode through the nerves, as it were. And as Tom pointed out, I wouldn’t have to worry about my voice careening out of control, jumping off the stage and galloping out of the theater, throwing me to the sidewalk in the process.

    Now it’s up to the theater gods. This is where it’s helpful that I’m trying to get a book published, because if you’re going through the traditional route to get your book published, the pace is glacial. Grass in winter grows much faster. Children can be conceived and born in less time. You wait MONTHS for someone to read your query/partial/manuscript. It’s the nature of the beast. In this audition process, there’s another audition next week, for dance. Callbacks are two weeks after that. Then, presumably, they announce the cast within the following week. That’s what, four weeks, tops? Four weeks? CHILD’S PLAY! That’s would be a lightning round in publishing. I can do that standing on my head.

    So now the audition is in the history books. Almost three months and hundreds of dollars later, my five minutes are over. But I did it. I did it and I’m proud of myself. It was scary and I did it anyway. Sure it took a few years of horse showing to properly prepare me (who knew?), but that’s okay too.

    Oh, and the chicken has been silenced.

  • Scary cloud, like the ones that were making me all worried and stuff.

    This post is a violent act of procrastination. Yep, I’m entirely and completely avoiding working on my manuscript because…well, because I have to go on a flight from Nashville to Denver and there are thunderstorms en route and I’m sure it’ll be bumpy and I’ve developed an annoying turbulence phobia. Me. Someone who works in the aviation industry, with pilots, and has had them explain turbulence and how the planes are built to fly through it and pilots do their best to avoid it and of all the zillions of flights every year that experience turbulence there are precious few incidents and…blah blah blah. Doesn’t matter. I’m a turbulence wimp. It’s pathetic.

    So what I’m hoping is, I’ll get so involved in revising THROWN during the flight, I won’t be bothered so much. This has happened before, so I have reason to believe it could happen again.

    I’ve had a bit of a discouraging email since my last post. An agent I was hoping would like my writing (let’s face it, I hope every agent likes my writing, but I had met this one and thought she was more likely to like my writing than your average bear), alas and alack, did not. I did not float her boat, nor did I knock her socks off. She was not wowed or gobsmacked. She was nonplussed and maybe even bored and/or annoyed.

    Oh well. Now I know. And seriously, I’ve hardly been out there in the trenches getting buffeted by dozens and dozens of brutal rejections. I have little right to complain.

    It makes me both less and more determined to get published. Right after I read it, I thought, “Yes, I am a terrible writer!” The agent never said anything like that, but that’s how I interpreted it. Then, after telling Tom and his friend Cindy what the agent wrote, and emailing with Joanne Kennedy (who I’ve dubbed my “publishing shrink” and whose latest book, Tall, Dark and Cowboy is my reading material for those times in flight when I can’t use electronic devices), I decided that it’s just one person’s opinion and someone else out there will love it and want to represent me. I just have to work really hard at rewriting it and make it sparkle even more brightly.

    I know this all builds character, but really. Do I need THAT much more character? I went to a Catholic girls’ school, for heaven’s sake! Apparently so.

    If I let this come full circle, my fear of turbulence may echo my fear of writing. Not a fear of writing exactly, but fear of making revisions that don’t sparkle enough. What if I spend hours and hours and hours rewriting to deepen my characters, and I send THROWN off to that agent who asked me to revise it, and she doesn’t think it’s all that great? What if I get a big “Meh”??!

    As I often do with myself when I worry, I go to the next logical step. Okay, what if I DO get a big meh? What if the agent doesn’t like it? I’ll have an arguably better book and I can cross another agent off my list. I’ll send it to other agents until I find someone who loves it. And if I run out of agents, then I’ll figure something else out. Self-publishing, maybe. Or not. But whatever the case, a meh isn’t the end of the world.

    Update: On my flight back to Denver, there were a few mild bumps, but nothing that made my stomach drop or made me clutch the armrests in abject terror. That’ll learn me to worry about some stupid low-pressure system! In other words, the turbulence turned out to be a big meh.

  • To prove I really was in Aspen, here's me and the glorious Maroon Bells, just outside of Aspen. Hoping my new writing task won't be as daunting as climbing one of those suckers.

    Aspen, Colorado. That’s where I am today, NOT because it’s the setting for Thrown. But curiously, an email I received recently makes it seem like perhaps fate led me here for that very reason.

    Before I tell you about the email, as we’ve strolled about town today, have I been driving Tom (long-suffering spouse) mad by saying things like, “Amanda and Grady ate here,” and “I bet Grady tried to buy Amanda those earrings” and making other references to the characters in my book? You betcha. Tom kept telling me Grady and Amanda aren’t real people, but he’s mistaken. Oh and I gave a sweet (no pun intended) woman who owned the Aspen Candy Company (a very fun place, unless you’re a molar) my author business card when she made the mistake of telling me she liked to read.

    So about that email. First, for those of you playing along at home, let me give you the box score on my agent/editor activities. Ready?

    Publishing professionals who rejected Thrown: 3
    Publishing professionals who have the full manuscript: 3
    Publishing professionals not yet heard from: 3

    This list includes agents and editors. I’m being purposely vague about who’s doing what because I suppose I’m superstitious and don’t want to give too much away at this point. Or maybe I’m chicken. Try not to judge.

    Back to that email. It was from a publishing professional who read the full manuscript and wrote an exceedingly nice email saying that Thrown showed promise, and would I be willing to revise it and resubmit?

    To which I reply: HELLS YEAH!

    And I don’t even say “Hells yeah” in my everyday speech. Like, ever. Which is how you can tell how important this is to me.

    As a result, I’m going to stop revising Love in the Time of Colic and go back to my firstborn. I have work to do, to be sure, and it won’t be easy, but I’m rolling up my figurative shirtsleeves (it’s cold here in Aspen, so there will be no literal rolling up of any sleeves) and digging in. I have no doubt I’ll make it better, I just hope I make it better ENOUGH.