Losing an Agent

25 03 2016
Angel in the Mist

Photo Credit: Zsolt Zatrok

Losing an agent hurts. Sometimes agents can’t sell your books, sometimes you’re not a good match, and sometimes they leave the business. But the most painful way to lose an agent is to death.

Earlier this week, I lost an agent I loved. Mary Sue Seymour lost her long and hard-fought battle against cancer. I still can’t believe she’s gone. Even last week, she was still posting her usual upbeats messages. She saw beauty and goodness everywhere she went. And she had the gift of spreading the gifts of kindness and encouragement wherever she went.

I admired her as a person, and as an agent, she was awesome. I’ve never known an agent to respond to every email within 5-10 minutes. Soon after I signed on with her, I sent the final manuscript revisions to her after midnight. The following morning at 7 am, she emailed with a list of 10 publishers who had the manuscript.

A few months later, she completed all the back-and-forth contract negotiations until we had everything we both wanted on a 3-book deal. I didn’t discover until later that she’d been undergoing twice-weekly chemo sessions the whole time. She never once mentioned her health. And she must have been doing the same for her other clients, because a month later, she was named Agent of the Year by the American Christian Fiction Writers.

Change of Heart - Comp - Dec4I’m grateful that I signed with her. I only wish she could be here to see the first book in the Sisters & Friends Amish series, Change of Heart, release on May 3. I wrote this book at her request, and she offered to review it as I went along. She shepherded it through the synopsis and early draft stages, even though I never sent it as official submission. When it was completed, I was thrilled when she offered to represent me. The book had been her baby all along. Although she can’t be at my book launch in person, I know she’ll be there in spirit. And at all my signings, I’ll be wearing the lovely bracelet she sent me at Christmas to celebrate my first book contract as Rachel J. Good.

To honor her life and generous, caring nature, I’m dedicating my Rachel J. Good Twitter feed to celebrating Random Acts of Kindness. Feel free to share any acts you do  for others or those you hear about. Let’s flood social media with positive messages.

#100kRAOK #randomactsofkindness

 

 

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Cover Reveal: Change of Heart

15 12 2015

Change of Heart - Comp - Dec4I’m excited to reveal the cover for the first novel in the Sisters & Friends series. Change of Heart will be released May 3, 2016, by Charisma House/Realms. I think the cover is beautiful!

Change of Heart, stars Lydia, the oldest of the Esh sisters. Concerned about her sixteen-year-old sister Emma’s rebellion during Rumschpringe, the teen “running-around time,” Lydia teams up with Caleb, the brother of Emma’s Englisch boyfriend. Their goal is to separate the two teens, but instead Lydia ends up falling for Caleb. Now her heart is torn: how can she choose between Caleb and her faith?

Change of Heart can now be pre-ordered at Christianbooks.com and Amazon.





The Joys and Perils of a 3-Book Contract

15 11 2015

aaBUGGYMany writers dream of the day they can sign a contract. And a multi-book contract is even better. Or is it?

Having recently signed a 3-book contract for an Amish series, SISTERS & FRIENDS, with only 1 book written and a paragraph blurb for the other two books, I’m thrilled to have another multi-book contract, but…

With Books 2 and 3 only a gleam in my eye when I signed the contract, I’m now struggling to come up with fleshed-out plot lines for two more novels and get both written before my early 2016 deadlines. The stories that seemed so vivid when I wrote my brief descriptions translated well into basic outline form, giving me false hope that they’d flow smoothly onto the page.

Not so.

The romances I envisioned need more ups and downs, the characters aren’t as well-rounded on the page as they were in my imagination, and the exciting emotional and climactic scenes need to be linked together. I have several touching scenes with lots of dead space between that needs to be filled, but with what?

The outline that seemed so promising a few days before NaNo now looks like a skeleton of a tree at the end of winter, devoid of leaves. A few buds have popped up here and there, promising some growth at a later date, but it seems almost impossible that this tree will blossom with spring greenery, let alone lovely ripe fruit.

I keep reminding myself that spring always comes, and those dead-looking trees do burst into new life. Sap rises, buds unfurl, and the starkness is soon only a memory. Here’s hoping the same thing will happen with my bare NaNo branches.
What does your NaNo tree look like?

This?

bbtree1a

Or this?

bbtree2





Dreaming of a special romance?

9 02 2015

heartHere’s THE PERFECT ONE. From February 9 to 14, fourteen writers will embark on a heart-stopping blog tour that will hook readers up with great romantic reads and cool SWAG.

Grand Prize GIVEAWAY: one lucky winner will receive a free Kindle, as well as a $20 Amazon gift card. That’s a ton of heartbreaking reads… 😉

Who can resist a heartbreaker?

2015 TOUR ROSTER

Participating Authors:

Eileen Cook: Remember (Simon Pulse, 2015)
D.G. DriverPassing Notes (Fire and Ice, 2015)
Laurie J. Edwards: writing as Erin Johnson. WANTED series: Grace and the Guiltless (Switch Press, 2014); Her Cold Revenge (2015)
Janet Gurtler: The Truth About Us (Sourcebooks Fire, 2015)
Sara Hantz: Will The Real Abi Saunders Please Stand Up (Entangled Teen, 2014)
Brenda HiattStarfall (Dolphin Star Press, 2015)
Denise JadenForeign Exchange (Evernight Teen, 2014)
Jen McConnelHer Secret Inheritance (Bloomsbury Spark, 2014)
Judith TewesMy Soon to be Sex Life (Bloomsbury Spark, 2014)
Ashley PostonThe Sound of Us (Bloomsbury Spark, 2014)
Dawn IusAnne and Henry (Simon Pulse, 2015)
Shari GreenFollowing Chelsea (Evernight Teen, 2014)
Vanessa BarneveldThis is Your Afterlife (Bloomsbury Spark, 2014)
LS MurphyReaper (J Taylor Publishing, 2013), Pixelated (Bloomsbury Spark, 2015

Participating Bloggers:

Reading is My Treasure
YA Yeah! Yeah!
A Glass of Wine
Little Library Muse
Jennzah.dot.net
Tales of Yesterday
The Reader Bee
Words of Mystery

Click here for the THE GIVEAWAY!





A Trip to the Maine Coast

1 11 2014

marcia-promo-final-close-upTo celebrate the start of a new month, I’m welcoming another friend with a book release, Marcia Strykowski. Marcia’s second book, AMY’S CHOICE, debuts today, so I invited her to tell a bit about herself and give some tips to aspiring as well as experienced writers.

So glad you could join us, Marcia. I have plenty of questions, so I hope you’ll settle back with a cup of tea and enjoy a long visit.
amychoice_front-smaller
Where are you from and how has that and/or where you have lived/visited influenced your work? I grew up in Massachusetts, but often traveled to Maine and New Hampshire. Most of my stories reflect my love for New England. Amy’s Choice definitely shows your love of the coastline. 🙂

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Many things…from a ballerina to a puppeteer.

Marcia at 6

Marcia at age 6

When did you start writing? As a kid, I was always drawing little comic strips and making storybooks. And then in high school I was thrilled when they offered a new class called Children’s Literature. I also took creative writing classes whenever I could in college.

What advice do you wish you could give to your younger self? Don’t worry about the future, everything will fall into place. Or, as the old saying goes: Most of what you worry about will never happen. So very true!

What hobbies and interests do you have? I dabble in many things—mostly art, music, and crafts. For example, I love paper-cutting, such as wycinanki and scherenschnitte as the craft is called in Poland and Germany. Beautiful!
wycinankiRed - Copy

What made you write your novel? For Call Me Amy, strong memories of my grandparents’ home on the coast of Maine gave me a setting that needed a story. After that book was accepted for publication, there were still ideas I wanted to wrap up, so I continued to write her story in Amy’s Choice.

What is one thing you hope readers will take away from your book? To stand proud and be that special you and to know that everyone has a voice worth hearing.

Can you give us an idea of your writing process? Rather than outlining, I usually have a small story with a beginning and an end. From there I plump up all the middle chapters. I repeatedly polish until it’s a full-size manuscript. Unfortunately, I am not at all consistent with my writing schedule, rather, it comes in spurts with great gaps in between.

workspace 2 - Copy

Marcia’s writing space

Which authors have influenced your work? A collection of my favorite authors would include Harper Lee, L. M. Montgomery, Richard Peck, Katherine Paterson, M. M. Kaye, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Willa Cather.

Any tips for new writers? There is no one way to write. Many authors are long-winded and later they have to chop a lot of words. Others, like myself, write first drafts sparingly and then have go back in and plump everything up. Do what works for you.

Any tips for more experienced writers? Don’t give up and try not to submit your work until it’s as good as your favorite book.

Do you have any secrets/advice for dealing with rejection? It’s important not to take rejections personally. Writing is subjective and is really, after all, just ink on paper. Because someone doesn’t like your writing, it doesn’t mean they don’t like you.

What are you working on now? I’m working on a YA novel about a boy, Mateo, who lives in a big city and has a unique hobby. Hmm…can’t wait to find out what that hobby is!

If you had three wishes, what would you wish for? World peace, health, and food for all. 🙂

What super power do you wish you had? The ability to slow down time. Now that sounds like one I could use too.

Have you ever climbed into or out of a window? Definitely. Both. Both, huh? I won’t embarrass you by asking about the circumstances, but I must admit, I’m definitely curious.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you choose to go and why? Probably Scandinavia to find my roots. Ah, so that’s where your love of the sea came from as well. Will you find you’re descended from the Vikings, I wonder.

Did you experience anything new while researching your book? I attended a seal release at the University of New England. They have a Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center where they nurture orphaned baby harbor seals back to health and then when they’re strong enough, release them back to the ocean. Five pups who started out at about 15 pounds and now averaged 50 pounds were set free on a mild day in August. How wonderful to see the healthy pups swimming out to sea as nature intended.

seal four pic

Seals heading out to sea

Where can readers find out more about you?

Website/blog = http://www.marciastrykowski.com

Facebook = Marcia Strykowski

Twitter = MarciaStry

And here’s a blurb about Marcia’s latest book, Amy’s Choice, a sweet story that takes you back to the early ’70s,  followed by her booktrailer:

Amy’s freshman year starts with a new best friend, Cat, and a newfound confidence. But she misses her crush, Craig, who has gone to live with his aunt in Boston. Craig has promised to write, and Amy checks the mail daily, but to no avail. There are new adventures, even so. Cat’s brother, Ricky, seems interested in Amy, but is she interested in him? And a new friendship with Finn, the lighthouse keeper, who Amy discovers is a talented artist, keeps Amy and Cat busy as they arrange for him to exhibit his work. But things get complicated when Craig returns from Boston and Finn is accused of arson. There are more questions than answers for Amy as life becomes as turbulent as the cold and stormy ocean of her coastal Maine town. Ideal for preteens, this novel is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Call Me Amy and touches upon issues of friendship, boyfriend troubles, and the power of believing in oneself.

“Well-drawn, sympathetic characters and the developing spark between Amy and Craig combine to create a pleasant, satisfying read.”—Kirkus for Call Me Amy.





Hot Author, Cool Deal

13 08 2014
Judith Tewes Author

Judith Tewes

Jumping for joy that one of my friends has a new book out under her pen name, Judith Tewes. And she’s doing a Rafflecopter giveaway (scroll down for details). To celebrate, I invited her to my blog. I was planning to serve a cool glass of sweet tea to cool us off in the summer heat, but as you’ll see, Judith prefers the frigid weather of the north, so hot chocolate may be her beverage of choice. In spite of her preference for cold, Judith’s writing remains HOT, HOT, HOT. If you pick up her latest release from Bloomsbury, you’ll see what I mean (details below).

But first, I’ve asked Judith to tell us a little bit about herself so you can get to know her better.

How has where you’re from and/or where you have lived (or visited) influenced your work?

I’m the daughter of an army brat, so my family moved around quite a bit. We’ve lived across Canada, from coast to coast – Summerside, Prince Edward Island to Nanaimo, British Columbia. But I’ve spent most of my adult life in Alberta. We currently live in a small northern Alberta town…lots of forest, lakes, and wildlife, cold temperatures…and lots of snow.

I think that’s been the major influence on my writing. The cold. The snow. Every book I have published thus far is set in the late fall / winter. I even have a feature film project set in the dead of winter. Lol Fall and Winter are perfect seasons for paranormal stories or contemporary tales of finding yourself. Maybe it’s the added sense of isolation, or quiet, the extra challenge of trying to get the simplest task completed when your fingers are frozen, or the comfort of a hot mug of coffee on a cold afternoon – or – I just like to make my characters suffer on as many levels as possible. 😉

What sensory details do you surround yourself with while writing?

I always have music cranked or a movie playing in the background while I write. I respond to the tones, moods of the music or scene playing. My typing speed even picks up with faster paced songs. I’ve tried to write in absolute silence, and it just doesn’t work.

I do have playlists for certain projects – dark/ haunting tunes for my paranormal and lighter/ romantic/ angsty ballads for my contemporary.

However, the fact that I get up super early in the morning to write means I always have my earbuds in, so my blasting music doesn’t wake the entire house.

You manage to wear many different hats (screenwriting, asst. publisher, author with multiple pseudonyms, library tech, musician/ songwriter, etc. How do you balance your various roles and why/how are each of them important to you?

Balance is a constant struggle. Sometimes there are deadlines that take precedence, and everything else has to be put on hold until “mission accomplished,” but I’m usually able to divide up projects/ promotional tasks by day of the week or focus on a few things in the morning and others in the afternoon. The beauty of my day job (elementary school library technician) is that it relates to my publishing efforts.

My background as an author comes into play at the school where I’m often asked to do writing workshops for classes and makes it very easy for me to present to schools during author visits. I can switch hats – talk as an author, share tips with the teachers, talk shop with the library staff – and am familiar with most of the titles the students are reading, from picture books to young adult fiction. I’m lucky to have a career that compliments my passion and my art.

Oh, and I’m a firm believer in to-do lists.

How is your Judith Tewes’ release different from your other books?

Judith Tewes is the pen name for my edgy contemporary young adult and new adult fiction. Judith Graves is the name I use for my paranormals, so genre is the main difference and is the main reason I chose to write under different personas. All the better to market with. 😉

How are they similar?

Well, there’s winter. Lol. But also, across the board my characters are quirky and sarcastic. I love to write strong female lead characters with snarky attitudes that mask their vulnerability. And I can’t seem to resist throwing in some serious heat/ romance.

I know you’re a dog lover. Can you tell us what you like best about dogs? (Feel free to share pics & talk about how they came into your life & what they mean to you.)

Follow me on any social media site, and you’ll soon meet my crazy pups. I’m one of those fur-moms. lol My husband and I have three labs. Here they are below. Willow is our sweet yellow-lab female, and the boys are Higgins (chocolate), and Grimm (silver).dogs

Aww…

You know your question about balance? I’d say our dogs provide that the most for me. When I’m sitting too long at the computer, they’re nudging my elbow to be walked. When I’m mulling over a plot hole, they’re game for a round of fetch at the lake. When I’m celebrating the sale of a new project, they dance around the house along with me.

They keep me grounded, and my clothing accessorized with tri-coloured dog hair. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks so much for visiting, Judith and for sharing a bit of your life! It’s been great to have you.

And here are the details of Judith’s latest release from Bloomsbury Spark:

About My Soon-To-Be Sex Life: Charlie is down to her absolute. Total. Last. Resort.

Judith 500x500

Despite a thoroughly comprehensive list of potential cherry poppers, er…suitors, and careful plotting, Charlie is three weeks into her devirginzation campaign, still untouched, and getting desperate. In the movie of her life, this aspiring screenwriter is giving herself a PG, for please, get some.

Her project goes into freeze frame when her mom checks herself into rehab and packs Charlie off to live with her estranged, or just plain strange, grandfather, Monty. How is she supposed to get a date when she has to go pick up his Depends?

Enter Eric, a hot rehab grad on the road to redemption, and the only one who can make Charlie rethink her strategy. The more she gets to know him, the more convinced she becomes that is the one, and not just another to add to the list of people who will abandon her.

In this hilarious and heartbreaking story of one girl’s detoured road to womanhood, Charlie’s list develops a life of its own – right when she realizes there’s so much more to lose.
MSTBSL Final Cover

Book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21462279-my-soon-to-be-sex-life

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/My-Soon—Be-Sex-Life-ebook/dp/B00LL2VNBG/

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/my-soon-to-be-sex-life-judith-tewes/1119856111?ean=9781619635388

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/my-soon-to-be-sex-life/id894192283?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/my-soon-to-be-sex-life

Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/My-Soon-Be-Sex-Life/Judith-Tewes/Q244464221?id=6059783024487

Here’s the book trailer:

Click on this link for

a Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

About Judith Tewes: Multi-published, award-winning author, screenwriter, and playwright, Judith Tewes resides in small town Alberta, where she: writes, sings, plays bass guitar in an all-woman band, walks her three crazy labs, and suspects she’s living the life of a superhero’s alias. A commercial writer writing under several pen names, Judith’s work includes: paranormal, steampunk, and contemporary young adult fiction, as well as thriller, horror, and dramatic comedies for the stage and screen.

 

Visit Judith here:

WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

Author Page

TWITTER

TUMBLR

PINTEREST

GOODREADS





Today’s Release Day for Grace Alone

8 05 2014
WANTED: Book 2 (UK edition)

I WANTED: Book 2 (UK edition)

I’m celebrating a book birthday today!

Grace Alone, Book 2 in the WANTED series, that I wrote as Erin Johnson released today in the UK. It’s available in the US on Amazon or from the publisher’s website, Curious Fox.

BLURB

To help track down the Guiltless Gang, Grace decides to become a bounty hunter, despite it being ‘no life for a woman’. Her first test is a criminal known as the Black Coat, who’s been preying on vulnerable women. She’s about to put a dangerous plan into action when Joe comes into her life again, showing her what life could be like if she let go of revenge. Then, as she struggles with her feelings, the Guiltless Gang appear tantalizingly close…

 

THE SERIES

YA series set in the Wild West…

After her family is slaughtered by outlaws, sixteen-year-old Grace Milton goes on a vendetta to capture the gang who did it. But once she meets a rugged range rider, she’s torn between revenge and love.

WANTED: Book 1 (UK edition)

WANTED: Book 1 (UK edition)

WANTED: Book 3 (UK edition)

WANTED: Book 3 (UK edition)

WANTED: Book 4 (UK edition)

WANTED: Book 4 (UK edition)

 

 

 

 

 
 

I’ll be signing copies of Book 1, Grace and the Guiltless (US edition with the cover below), at BEA on Friday, May 30 at 2 pm at the Capstone booth. Hope to see you there!

Grace and the Guiltless (US)

Book 1 WANTED (US edition)