Monday, December 31, 2012


Frankie Diane Mallis is hosting this years 4th annual No Kiss Blogfest. 

What: The No Kiss Blogfest! This is when you get to write a scene or post one from of your favorite books, movies, or TV shows that show the almost kiss-- the rising, crushing, excruciating, longing, tension that comes  when two characters get oh-so-close to kissing that you can just feel it, want it, NEED it....and then...they don't!

Check it out on her site and see my No Kiss example below.

My favorite No Kiss (almost kiss) 

                        searching . . . will update once I find it.  lol

Eek!  I had forgotten post my kiss scene.  Better late than never. Right?  

So, here it is--a scene from my WIP that is currently being considered by 7 agents **fingers crossed**  This is part of a chapter where Peter visits Lace (Wendy) in her bedroom at night.  

I move to my nightstand and switch on the lamp.  Soft yellow light spreads across my room and Peter comes into focus.  He's dressed in a pair of khaki shorts and a white V-neck tee that hugs his lean muscles.  I've never seen such a casual outfit look so good on a person, and the way those shorts hang low on his waist, showing off those hipbones . . . 
I don't know I'm gawking until drool threatens to spill from my bottom lip.  With a snap, I force my teeth together but am unable to look away.  He's not my usual type—short-haired, clean cut jock—but something about his rugged beauty attracts me. 
Everything about him is warm, from his tan skin to his bronze hair.  Even his clear sea-glass eyes radiate heat with a stare so intense it's as if he can see into my soul.  
Feeling exposed, I fold my arms over my chest and glance down at my bare legs.  It's a few seconds before I notice my shirt is hiked up and my panties are showing.
My gaze shoots up to Peter, but he's no longer staring at my face, his gaze has strayed to my legs.  It better be only my legs.
I drop my arms and run to my closet in search of my robe.  Where is it?  And why am I so self-conscious?  Then I remember—the bathroom!  I left it in the bathroom.
I hurry to my bedroom door, unable to remember closing it, and squeeze the handle.  It won't open.  I try again.  It doesn't budge.
Looking up, I see Peter's arm stretched over my shoulder, his hand pressed to the door, holding it closed. 
"Please don't leave," he says near my ear.  "I just got here." 
The worried edge to his voice surprises me, as does his closeness.  So close, his chest brushes against my long hair hanging down my back.
I spin around and press against the door to put some space between us, my gaze darting from the dresser to where he stands now.  What did he do, fly to this side of the room?  "How did you . . . ?" 
"I won't look at your legs again.  I promise.  Just don't leave."
I blink up at him, my thoughts reeling.  He's not really here.  This is a dream.  No one moves that quickly.  Or looks and smells this incredibleAnd did he say he won't look at my legs again?
"Ever?"  I ask, without thought.  Where the hell did that come from?  Heat tingles my cheeks.
Peter lowers his hand from the door and quirks a sexy grin.  "I don't remember promising ever.  And I'd be happy to take it back, if that is you're wish."
His words hold a trace of an accent I hadn't noticed before.  It reminds me of Dad and the bit of English accent he adopted when living in London for six years. 
No matter how charming this guy seems, that similarity alone has me look at him differently.  "No.  Ever is fine with me."
He cocks his head to the side, his perfect lips pursed.  "I don't believe you.  I think you want me to look at your legs.  In fact, I think you want me to like them."
"Not even close," I fire back, holding in the shock pumping through me like adrenaline.  How did he know I've always thought my legs are my best asset?  My chest has shrunk with my weight loss along with any butt I might have had, but my legs are still nice.  And if I’m honest with myself, I not only want him to notice them, I want him to think they're nice—really nice. But like hell I'll admit that to him. 
"I was going to get my robe, so I could cover my legs from your eyes," I say.
"So you weren’t leaving then?"  The worry is back in his voice, and I'm confused by his moodiness.  One second he's nervous, then flirty, then nervous again.
"Are you really here?"  I'm aware of how stupid that sounds.
His eyes stray to my legs, but before I can call him out on it, his gaze snaps up to my face.  "Sorry."  He turns away and releases a breath.  After a moment, he says, "I'm not exactly here.  I can leave my body—the island—for short periods of time when I'm dreaming.  It's not something I do often anymore, and when I do, I usually go to England."
I don't know what to make of his words.  Is he referring to an out-of-body experience?  If so, why is he here?  Is it about John?  "Why England?"  I ask with a flash of anxiety.  Peter can't have anything to do with my dad.  Still, my paranoia gets the best of me.   
"It's where I'm from."
"Really?"  I guess it could be a coincidence, and it does explain his slight accent, but his looks are so American surfer dude.  "Peter?"  I ask, but lose my train of thought the second he swings around and those beautiful eyes meet mine.  Staring down at me, his face has an awed look about it.
"What?"  I struggle to speak against the tightness of my throat.  I've never been so self-conscious in all my life.
"I like when you say my name."
WhewDid the heat just kick onI can't stop my lips from turning up into a stupid grin.  I glance away to hide my smile and rub my lips together.  Why am I acting this way?
"Don't do that," Peter says, his gentle tone softening the command.
"Do what?"  I peer up at him, my smile replaced with a frown.
"Turn your face away.  I like to look at it, at your eyes.  They are the windows to the soul."
Holy hot fudge sundae.  If I were chocolate, I'd be melting.  No wonder all the girls want him.  My mouth dries, and I realize my bottom lip is dangling again.  Seriously?  I snap it closed with another clink of my teeth. 
A charming grin tilts his lips.  It isn't arrogant like before.  Instead, he seems pleased with my reaction to him, which prompts me to do something I wouldn't normally do.  But then, nothing about this is normal.
Holding his gaze, I lift my hand and hold it an inch from his chest.  "If you're not exactly here," I repeat his earlier words.  "Then when I touch you my hand will go through your body, like you're a ghost.  Right?" 
"Don't," he breathes, and my stomach clenches. 
Isn't he the kind of guy who welcomes invitations like this?  Or is it that my flirting sucks?  No.  That can't be it.  Even though I'm hardly what I used to be, I'm not a troll.  And regardless of his request, I still want to touch him, to push my luck with him, even if it doesn't make sense. 
"Why?"  I look up through my lashes.  "Am I not your type?"  I mean it as a tease, but hearing the words makes me mentally cringe.  What if that's it?  Right now, my ego can't handle a blow like that. 
And there it is . . . the rejection I feared.  It's crushing. Because that's all I wanted from him.  Confirmation that I'm still a normal, attractive girl, capable of flirting with a hot guy just for the hell of it.  Finding out that I'm not anymore has me taking a step back. 
I’m about to tell him to leave, when he says, "You misunderstand.  I only date girls who are one night stand material.  Who can never be more than that."  He pauses to penetrate me with that searing gaze of his.  "And you undoubtedly are not one of those girls."
I don't know if that's a compliment or another rebuff.  I lift my chin, determined to prove his opinion means nothing to me, even though I'm slowly crumbling inside"What am I then?" 
"Trouble?"  My brows shoot up.  Why am I not kicking him out?
"Yes.  Because I'm drawn to you for reasons I can't explain." The truth in his voice and eyes simmer my emotions.  "I have to be near you."
My breath hitches, and my heart pounds—or is it fluttering? 
"It's the same thing with me," I murmur, shocked by several things: my honesty, his honesty, and the fact that we share the same attraction.     
By his sudden gasp, I'm guessing he's just as shocked.
For a moment all we can do is stare, an unspoken connection forming between us as if we're old friends.  It doesn't make sense, but I'm certain of one thing—I want to get closer to this mysterious boy.  I want to learn his secrets, and . . . I want to kiss him.
As if my legs have a mind of their own, I close the gap between us. 
He jets away in a blur of speed, stopping at my window with his back to meHis breathing heavy, he grips the window frame as if he's forcing himself not to jump out the window.

                               HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Thank you to everyone for entering.  My bottom lip hit the desk when I clicked the generate winner button and my critique partner and good friend Larissa Hardesty's name came up.  Then I laughed in disbelief for about 15 minutes since she was just at my house for dinner the night before. How funny but also awesome because she is a very giving, deserving person.  


Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Saw this post and thought it was too good not to share.  

I always ask this question.

             Should you re-query an agent?

Literary agent Rachel Gardner does an excellent job of answering this here.

Happy Querying and Happy Holidays!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


The holiday's are here, and I still can't believe it.  In the spirit of giving, I'm hosting a blog   giveaway, which includes a $30.00 gift certificate  to Barnes and Noble, 
and a signed copy of Renegade by debut author J. A. Sounders.  The novel is a YA dystopian must read.  Here's a blurb about it and some pics from her book launch in downtown Orlando.  

Goodreads Blurb:
Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has been trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s thought that everything was perfect; her world. Her people. The Law.

But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into their secluded little world, she’s forced to come to a startling realization: everything she knows is a lie. Her memories have been altered. Her mind and body aren’t under her own control. And the person she knows as Mother is a monster.

Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb... and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.

My crit partners from left to right - Larissa Hardesty, Elizabeth Prats, Christy Farley, Me.

              From left to right - Larissa, Me, Jess, Christy  (The original crit group together again)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Stress is a part of everyone's life.  Managing that stress is what helps us to continue down a path like writing, which we all know can make a person crazy, want to quit regularly, feel inadequate, doubt our dreams, and repeatedly wonder, WHY NOT ME?  Especially when you have friends or critique partners that have made it past the hurdle of getting an agent and then the bigger challenge of receiving a book deal with a reputable publishing house—a dream that to people like me starts to feel as out of reach as winning the state lottery or waking up, thinner, taller, younger. 

If you're like me, the harder you work to pursue your writing dream, the less encouraged you become.   Months turn into years and then you wake up one morning realizing for all your effort—late night revisions, cramped fingers, early morning revisions, burning eyes, lunch time revisions—all you have to show for it is a secretary's ass and a collection of rejections.  

The sad thing is the advice I get from other authors is usually the same: You just haven't found the right agent yet.  Keep submitting.  It will happen.  Don't give up.  And all of that is helpful until I discover the author giving the advice got an agent with their first MS, or after three months of querying.  That's when my posture sags, my frown lines deepen, and that tiny devil perched on my left shoulder says, "You don’t have it."  

What do you do then?

I used to eat chocolate, drink wine, complain to friends/family/critique partners—isn't that what they're there for?  But then I started doing something else.  I stopped focusing on getting an agent and started focusing on why I began this writing journey.  The number one reason: I love it!  Writing is a part of me.  I can't imagine a day without doing it or thinking about it.  I realized then, I've always been like this.  Even when I was too young to understand why I loved to take a day out with friends or family and turn it into a story. 

After that, I decided I needed to take the pressure off myself.  In the same way that I work and work and work to make sure my stories are perfect—before remembering that no story is perfect, because this is a very subjective industry. What one person hates, another loves—I had to remind myself that there is no perfect way to get an agent, or to get published.  What worked for one person, might not work for you.  Just like my stories are unique to me, so will my journey be.   Once I adopted the mind frame that I can't control or force this to happen—that I can only do my best, send my work out and believe that when it's my time, it will happen for me—life became less stressful.  Writing became less stressful. 

Ironically, it reminded me of when I couldn't get pregnant with my second child. I had one baby already so hearing I couldn't conceive another was shocking—unbelievable—like I was suddenly defective.  For years, I tried to force myself to get pregnant, doing everything the doctors, other people, and books told me to do, hoping I'd be next.  Then one day a friend said, "Maybe this isn't about you.  Maybe it's about your other child not being ready for a sibling, yet.  Or the timing isn't right in your life, even though you think it is.  Or the soul of the child chosen to be yours isn't ready. "

I'd never thought of anything like that before, but when I pondered her words something amazing happened.  I no longer felt inadequate or undeserving.  It took all the pressure off me and made me think, When it's my time, it will happen

Hearing that changed my perspective.  I decided to trust in that and when I did, the waiting and trying became less of a struggle and less disappointing.

Four years later, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy, without the help of medical technology.  It just happened, and he is the perfect addition to our family.  It was also the perfect time for him to arrive—something I couldn't see before. 

My point is, I didn't have to stress to make it happen.  Once I let the pressure go, it did, and the journey wasn't as bad as it could have been. 

There is amazing freedom in simply believing your dreams can and will come true.  Is it easy?  No.  But it's doable and, like anything else in life, the more you practice it, the easier it becomes. 

So give yourself a break—if only for a day, or an hour.  Take the pressure off yourself and just be happy.  It's an incredible feeling and can become addictive.  

I wish you all much success and a future of best sellers!  Don't give up on your writing, because in doing so you'll be giving up on your dreams—on a part of you.

Most importantly, if this story has helped you or you have one of your own, PLEASE share it with us in the comments below.  You can never have too much inspiration.  Happy Thursday! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012



Wow!  Tagged in a blog game.  Sounds like fun and a good excuse to update my blog. LOL. 

What is the working title of your book?
My current WIP (and by this I mean in its last Beta than ready for the query world!  Wahoo!) is called Club Neverland.  I came up with the name the same time I came up with the story since it's about a club that is a modern older-teen version of Neverland.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I've always been a HUGE Peter Pan fan.  I also have always found the story very romantic.  The sexual innuendo's in the original are cleverly done and very clear to me.   Of course that could just mean that my mind is dirtier than most, but I don't think so. LOL. 
Anyway, I always wanted to do a retelling but couldn't get my head out of the historical element of it, because my voice is ultra-young and modern. 
Until . . .  I realized I could make it my own, put it in my voice and give an entirely new spin to the story.

What genre does your book fall under?
YA Fantasy Retell

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Eek!  This is tough.  I have pics from the internet that I've modeled my characters after but have never thought of actors.  I'll give it a try, though, and post my inspiration pics for the characters.

I'd have to say Douglas Booth as Peter.  He'd need a tan and contacts to lighten his eyes, but he has a boyish yet sexy style about him.

For Wendolyn Lace Darling, I think Diana Agron would work.  She's a little taller than my character and her hair a little too light, but the innocence of her face feels like Wendolyn.

For Abby (Wendolyn's BFF) I’m thinking Hayden Panettiere

Cole Shepherd with a little darker hair would rock John (Wendolyn's younger brother)

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Oh geez!  Haven't even thought of one.  I'll give it a try.
Seventeen-year-old Wendolyn's upside-down world is tilted even more when she falls into the arms of the mysterious boy-owner of Club Neverland and is whisked away to his enticing world.

That'll have to do it for now.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Agented, I hope.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Four weeks!
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Ummm . . .

I guess, I'd say the genre of fairytale retells like Beastly and Cinder.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The love of the original novel and the idea of making it my own.  Most of my ideas come to me spur of the moment and I run with them.  That is how I write so quickly. 

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

If you like very out of the box retells with lots of surprises and sexual tension, you'll love this.  Peter is a cursed boy making the best of what life has dealt him,  and Wendolyn is a struggling teen who is trying to keep her toxic family from falling apart.   Neither are looking for a savior or help but end up finding just that in each other. 

Okay, that is the most I've written on that book since I finished my last edits.  I actually enjoyed it and think it was good for me.  A big thanks to Liz for that.  You rock!!!!!!

Now to tag 5 others.  Oh, the pressure.  LOL

Christy Farley
Dawn Brazil
Sarah Fisk
Michelle Young
Janie Bill

Thanks for the fun.  Can't wait to read everyone else's! 

Tara  :-)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Self-Editing Tips from Agent Michelle Brower

Hey all, I'm seriously slacking in the blog department.  I suck lately.  But I have some good stuff for ya.  A couple of weeks ago, I took a Webinar on novel self-editing tips and I want to share the goods I learned.  Agent Michelle Brower hosted the Webinar and had some useful advice. 
Number one, she said above your novel polishing should rank higher than your blog and internet presence.  Maybe that is why I have been slacking on posting this—since I have been focusing my time on my current WIP.   
Michelle's thoughts about media presence were the same as the speakers from the SCWBI conference this summer.  Unless you have 30,000 followers your blog and twitter isn't as important as your work.  Neither will get you and agent unless you are so popular when you tweet the world stops to respond.  What will get you an agent is the best novel you can put out there and of course the right agent.  That's not to say agents don't appreciate a media presence, just don't dedicate more time to it than your writing, if you're working to get published.  
The next best advice I took from Michelle was the strategies she advised on self-editing.  They weren't that different from what was discussed at SCWBI.  She suggested writing a synopsis.  My immediate thought was no!  Please no!  Anything but that.  Then she explained how and why.  Use two to three sentences to breakdown major facts in each chapter using note cards then spread them out on a large surface or the floor.  In doing this, you can see the strengths and weaknesses in your story, how the arc flows, where the novel is lacking or boring (not much pushing the story forward), where characters act—well, out of character, and, if needed, rearrange the chapters for a better fit.   
The visualization part is key here.  And the fact that this synopsis is for your eyes only, the stress of it is reduced.  You don't have to worry about it being less than three pages, or under one, or too wordy, or boring.  If you think about it, or even better can visuals it, you'll see how helpful this technique is to your MS and plot editing.   
No matter the extra time, it's worth it in the end.  And like I said, it's for your personal use only, so you don't have to stress over your sentence structure or grammar.  Wahoo!   
So there are my handy tips or rather Michelle's handy tips for your next self-editing adventure.  Good luck, and when in doubt, grab the nearest critique partner and beg for a beta-read done in lightning speed.  Because you know they don't have anything better to do or a life of their own.  LOL!  Just kidding!  
Have a great weekend.  And if you need clarification on any of this just ask me.   
Love to my wonderful and dedicated critique partners!  You are a blessing!!!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Importance of a Good Writing Support Group.

As a writer you don't have a person (manger, boss, supervisor) directing your steps, over seeing your progress, and encouraging you along. You are all of those people and more because you are the writer, the editor and, if you're like me, your worst critic. That voice of reason that often wants to believe, I have what it takes to make it but just as often thinks I don't know if I can do this.

That's where your ultra-dynamic support group comes in. If you don't have one, you need to get one. I'm not talking your hubby, sister, mother, best friend, although those people are important. What I mean are the girls or guys that have been or are going through your same situation. The ones who understand the frustrations, doubts, and fears that come with writing because they are writers.  

These people will be your core, your go to supporters in a moment or several moments of weaknesses. Now I'm not saying they should swoop in and fix all the problems with your novel, just that they should be there to give you a pick-me-up. Whether it be a quick text, email, inspirational quote, smiley face, whatever, as long as it's something that lets you know you are believed in by someone who has read your work and knows your talent.  

I am blessed with an amazing support group, who are also my critique group. But let me tell you it didn't just happen. All too often, fear creeps up on me with a mounting list of "What if's." When that happened a year ago, after finding this amazing group, I quit. Yep. You read that right, I quit. When it got tough instead of accepting their support, I bailed. For one, I thought I sucked, even though they repeatedly told me I didn't. And for two, I thought I was bringing them down, holding them back.

But a funny thing happened. As I continued to struggle to find my way in the writing world, I kept looking to them for help and answers, and, you know what, they kept giving it. I took it as a sign that I needed to get off my self-doubt rocker, pull my big girl panties up, and get back in the game. And when I begged to be let back in the group, they didn't give me hard time. They accepted me—once again.

Now that's what I'm talking about by having a good support group. The right people that not only see your potential but also don't let you give up on you, when you give up on yourself.

If you have a fabulous writers support group in your life, today I encourage you to thank them for all they do, have done, and will continue to do. After all—if they are as good as my group—in between their hectic life schedules they take time to read your work, meet with you, and add you and the importance of your stories to their life, all for the love of writing! That certainly deserves a major shout out!

So here is mine. 

Larissa Hardesty, Christy Farley, and Jessica Souders you girls are the bomb. I feel blessed to have you in my life and thank you for all the work you have done for me and all the work you will continue to do. **sinister laugh** Just Kidding!  But not really!  LOL!

I'd love to hear about your group, how they are dynamic, what makes them dynamic, and how they help you continue to write. Also, if you can give tips to other writers who are in search of that special group, please post those below—for that is half the battle.

Some helpful sites I've found are,




Tomorrow is Friday! Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

SCWBI Conference and My New Agent Crush!

Two weekends ago, I attended the SCWBI conference with my crit girls, Larissa Hardesty and Christy Farley. We had amazing speakers. My favorites were Josh Adam's, agent from Adams literary agency, and Noa Wheeler, Editor for Henry Holt Books. I also met another editor for Holiday House, Sylvie Frank. Loved her!

On Friday I attended a novel intensive, where Nancy Werlin gave self-editing advice. She talked about making a chart, literally. Each chapter receives its own picture box. You write a scene from that chapter, draw a picture in a square—no matter how heinous, stick figures allowed—and beneath label the scene with a strong verb. This will help you find sections of your book where nothing is happening. For example, if you have several boxes within your novel labeled "realizing," you should probably revise those chapters or scenes, so that your protag is reacting to whatever information or realization they had. Doing this will strengthen weak areas in your novel. 

On day two, in the YA track, Nancy spoke about her own revisions. It was interesting to see that she suffers from the same editing issues as the rest of us, even after nine published YA novels. Her example was on a final novel in her fearie series. She thought she'd written the perfect ending to the series, but after having her rough-draft critiqued, she learned there were major flaws.

In short, the book was not as perfect as she thought, and she had to revise the entire novel. Her message was for authors to understand that being published doesn’t mean you have less revision issues. In writing, there is always more editing. Even when you swore you'd written an epic novel. Even when it sounded perfect in your head. Even when you have a successful writing career and work with a professional agent and editor. It still happens.

There were two other revelations I had as a writer because of the conference. The first: male agents can do justice for girl writers who have a romancy style. I never bother to query male agents because I think they won't get my voice and the romance I insist on having in each novel. But after listening to Josh Adams speak that has all changed.

Now I feel Josh would be my dream agent. He reps several authors who write romancy stories and, yes, he gets it. He really gets it! There is a sincerity in the way he speaks about his authors and their stories. It's obvious he wants to go to bat for them and help them find great success. He gets excited in a way I didn't think was possible for a man, and he has an unmistakable sense of pride for each of the novels he represents.  

I was blown away by him and have decided to add a new made-up word to my vocab. Agent crush. Which I define as a non-physical, non-sexual desire to work with someone you admire. And I have a huge agent crush on Josh Adams. If I'm lucky, one day he will represent my stories.

 The other revelation I had is one I've heard before but still struggle to incorporate. Editors no longer want the kind of stories that jump right into action. They want to know your characters before the sh-t hits the fan, before the floor falls out beneath them, before a truck kills their dog, their BFF, or them. They want to emotionally connect with the protagonist and feel that can only happen if they see the character in their normal element.

This is a concept I struggle with and am coming around to slowly with practice and understanding. It makes sense. As a reader, we can't sympathize with the protagonist when their world is crashing around them, if we don't know how they act when life is normal.  

 It is a slower approach. That's not to say it should be a boring one, but it definitely goes against a lot I have learned. Some writers and agents argue this approach, but it seems the successful editors and agents of this time want to get to know your character first.

So there are some my tidbits in regards to my experience at the SCWBI conference this summer. I hope the information helps your current writing endeavor. It most definitely is helping mine.

 Have a fabulous summer and keep writing! You may be a story away from success!