If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 2 Corinthians 3:9 (NLT) What would it look like for you to be bold, transparent, free, and truly the person God created you to be? What would it look like for you to BE YOU? In this four week mini Bible Study journey with author Heather Bixler as she shares some of her personal struggles with you in an effort to be transparent with you, the reader. God wants us to shine and radiate His glory, but truly this can only be done through our brokenness. God is looking for transparent women to help guide others to a true and intimate relationship with Jesus through the sharing of their own brokenness, and compassion for one another. If we are truly going to shine for HIS glory in the new ministry of HIS righteousness then we must learn the art of being who God created us to be. We often think this is found through performance and behavior changes, but when we have given our life over to Jesus then everything God created us to be is found in the Holy Spirit that is already living within us. Come and unwrap the beauty that is already within through the four week mini Bible Study, Be You!
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  Today on my blog I’m featuring the book Angel on My Mind by Shirley Wiggerman. 

Book Description:

A love story of a different sort.  Jonathan is alone trying to find himself in the world that surrounds him.  He makes a vital decision for change in hopes of a much brighter future but after one night of fun, he is confronted with three situations that turn his precarious life into one full of direction.  Unexpectantly  he meets a woman named Angela at a skating rink and falls in love with her within the hour they spend skating.  She leaves unannounced.  Jonathan is left with only her phone number and her journal.  Now because of his love for her, he must find her in hopes to convince her to marry him.  This seems simple enough except that the circumstances of the night, after he left the skating rink, has him with his one and only connection to ever see Angela again.   A skateboarding teen named Kyle, the one person that can help him find her but he doesn’t make it easy by playing games with Jonathan.  On top of everything else he discovers a stranger inside his parents old house and is determined to know who he is, and what he’s doing there.  Jonathan wants Angela to be his wife, the annoying kid to grow up, and the strange man out of his parents house.  He wants his life to be easy again.

Excerpt from Chapter 4…

She skated backwards with her arms stretched out in front her, holding his hands to pull him along.  He continued to be clumsy, nearly pulling her down with him a few times when turning the corners.  If ever he wanted to impress, this was the time, and so far he wasn’t doing well.  It wasn’t long, just as she said, that he was looking like he had been on wheels for years.  Not for years, but he had gained his balance…

Click here to view or order the book on Amazon.  

Jonathan was ready to step off the floor. He was still nervous just being with Angela.  He has always been that way around women he met for the first time but this time was worse. Trying to step off the floor, he cut the corner short, just barely hitting the wall, but it was enough to make him lose his balance and making him stumble…

A Five-Star Review for Angel on My Mind:                 
What an awesome start! I would be interested in reading another book by the author! It was a great love story, a story your able to connect with and want more…….nice work!   

From the Author

I have been a writer since I was a child, as my English teachers would always suggest.  I love writing and love to see others touched by what they have read just as how I was touched with the stories I have read.  

I am a romantic truly.  I was traveling down a highway when the idea of this book came to mind.  I fell in love with the story and wanted to bring it to life.  My hope is that the reader enjoys the story as much as I did.  Not your typical romance novel but one of good character.  Although the book is slow in introducing the best part of the plot.  I wanted to introduce Jonathan’s character first, to help the reader understand just how much he needs the love in his life he so desires to have with Angela.  May the reader fall in love with the story as much as I did.

Shirley Wiggerman

Winner of 2007 American Poet of the Year Award for my poem, “The Fire”.
Contact: [email protected]


Paris, France
Colette DeMer and her brother Pascoe are two sides of the same coin, dependent upon one another in the tumultuous world of the new Republic. Together they labor with other leaders of the sans-culottes to ensure freedom for all the downtrodden men and women of France.
But then the popular uprisings turn bloody and the rhetoric proves false. Suddenly, Colette finds herself at odds with Pascoe and struggling to unite her fractured family against the lure of violence. Charged with protecting an innocent young woman and desperately afraid of losing one of her beloved brothers, Colette doesn’t know where to turn or whom to trust as the bloodshed creeps ever closer to home.
Until that distant day when peace returns to France, can she find the strength to defend her loved ones . . . even from one another?
Coming April 25, 2014
From Rooglewood Press
Until That Distant Day
Opening of Chapter 1
I was born believing that the world was unfair and that I was the person to make it right.
One of my earliest memories is of Papa setting me atop a nail keg in the forge; I could not have been older than two at the time.
“Colette, give Papa a kiss,” he said, tapping his cheek.
“Come and sit on my knee.”
My response to every order was the same, asked with genuine curiosity. I did not understand why his watching friends chuckled. Why should I press my lips to Papa’s sweaty, prickly cheek? Why should I hop down from the keg, where he had just placed me, and run to sit on his knee, a most uncomfortable perch? I felt justified in requesting a reason for each abrupt order, yet he never bothered to give me one.
Mama, when thus questioned, provided an answer in the form of a sharp swat. This I could respect as definitive authority, although the reasoning behind it remained dubious.
My little brother Pascoe was born believing that the world was his to command. As soon as he acquired his first vocabulary word, “No,” he and I joined ranks in defiance of established authority.
Many impediments cluttered the path of destiny in those early years: parents, thirteen other siblings, physical ailments, and educational difficulties. And as we grew into adulthood, more serious matters intervened, even parting us for a time. But I will speak more of that later. For now, let me assure you that, no matter the obstacles thrown in our way, our sibling bond seemed indissoluble; the love between us remained unaffected by any outside relationship.
Pascoe and I were young adults when revolutionaries in Paris threw aside the tyranny of centuries and established a new government based on the Rights of Man. From the seclusion of our little village in Normandy we rejoiced over each battle fought and won; and when our local physician, Doctor Hilliard, who had first mentored then employed Pascoe for several years, was elected as deputy to the National Assembly from our district, a whole new world opened at our feet.
My story truly begins on a certain day in the spring of 1792, in the little domain I had made for myself in the kitchen at the back of Doctor Hilliard’s Paris house. Perhaps it wasn’t truly my domain, for it did not belong to me. I was merely the doctor’s housekeeper and could lay no real claim. Nevertheless, the kitchen was more mine than anything had ever been, and I loved that small, dark room; especially during the hours when sunlight slanted through the bubbled-glass kitchen windows, making bright, swirling shapes on the whitewashed walls, or each evening when I arranged my latest culinary creation on a platter and left it in the warming oven for the doctor to discover whenever he arrived home. That kitchen was my home. Not the home I had grown up in, but the home I had always craved.
On that particular day, however, it did not feel the safe haven I had always believed it to be. Loud voices drifted down from the upper floor where the doctor and Pascoe were in conference, disturbing my calm. When I closed the connecting door to the dining room, the angry voices drifted in through the open kitchen windows. I couldn’t close the windows; I might smother of heat. Yet I needed to block out the sound, to make it stop.
So I slipped a filet of sole into a greased skillet and let it brown until golden on both sides. The hiss and sizzle did not quite cover the shouting, but it helped. Then I slid the fish onto a waiting plate lined with sautéed vegetables fresh from my kitchen garden; and I topped all with an herbed wine-and-butter sauce. A grind of fresh pepper finished off my creation.
But my hands were still trembling, and I felt as if something inside me might fall to pieces.
Pascoe often shouted. Shouting was part of his fiery nature, a normal event. He shouted when he gave speeches at section meetings. He shouted about overcooked meals or inferior wines. He shouted when his lace jabot refused to fall into perfect folds.
But never before had I heard Doctor Hilliard raise his voice in anger.
Doctor Hilliard was never angry. Doctor Hilliard never displayed emotion. At most, he might indicate approval by the glance of a benevolent eye or disapprobation by the merest lift of a brow. Yet there could be no mistaking the two furious voices overhead. I well knew Pascoe’s sharp tenor with its sarcastic edge; but now I also heard the doctor’s resonant voice crackling with fury.
I managed to slide the hot plate into the warmer alongside a crusty loaf of bread and closed the door, using a doubled towel to protect my shaking hands.
Behind me the connecting door was flung open, and Pascoe burst in as I spun to face him. “Gather your things; we are leaving,” he growled. His eyes blazed in his pale face, and the jut of his jaw allowed for no questions. He clapped his tall hat on his head as he passed through the room.
I donned my bonnet and sabots and picked up my parasol. “What has happened?” I asked just above a whisper.
“I’ll tell you once we are away from this house.” His lips snapped tight. His chest heaved with emotion, and he grasped a portfolio so tightly that his fingers looked white.
I could not recall the last time I had seen my brother in such a rage.

Jill Stengl is the author of numerous romance novels including Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award- and Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor, and the bestselling novella, Fresh Highland Heir. She lives with her husband in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, where she enjoys her three cats, teaching a high school English Lit. class, playing keyboard for her church family, and sipping coffee on the deck as she brainstorms for her next novel.
Jill is offering an enormous bundle prize of ten print novels and novellas, including her award-winning Faithful Traitor, several novella collections, and her three-book Longtree series. These will all be autographed! (US and Canada only, please.)

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Faith, Love, and Fried Chicken: Volume I, Summer (Serial Novel)
FREE Nov. 25 – 28th!

Faith, Love, and Fried Chicken (Serial Novel)

By Laura J. Marshall

About the Book

Excitement. That’s what Jaycee has been saving for since high school. With plans to leave rural Twain, Georgia, the “to where” and the “to what” have been the only questions stopping her. Will her intentions change when Dash Matheson pulls her wandering heart in his direction? Feel the summer heat of the Fourth of July in this southern series as Jaycee finds love. (Volume I, Summer of a four part short story series under the Faith, Love, and Fried Chicken title.)
  Faith, Love, and Fried Chicken:Volume II, Fall (Serial Novel)   99-Cents! Volume II, It’s autumn in Twain, Georgia. Jaycee has herself a new job and with it, a new problem. Is it something bug spray can fix? Dash is struggling with more than just the reality of the pain from his injury. Could Jaycee be hiding something from him? The pumpkins are ripe on the vine and the pecans are ready to be shelled. Come spend Thanksgiving week in this southern series as Jaycee finds love. A four part serial novel under the Faith, Love, and Fried Chicken title. Volume III, Winter coming December 2013. Volume IV, Spring coming March 2014.

Faith, Love, and Fried Chicken: Volume I, Summer (Serial Novel) on Kindle
Faith, Love, and Fried Chicken: Volume II, Fall (Serial Novel) on Kindle
About Laura J. Marshall
Laura J. Marshall
Laura J. Marshall is a full-time mother of five boys and part-time writer and blogger. She operates a popular blog called The Old Stone Wall which hosts and promotes Christian Authors and encourages interaction between readers and authors. Laura writes Christian Romantic fiction and the best-selling Battle Cry Devotional Series. You can find out more about Laura and her other books online at
Follow Laura J. Marshall
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Enter to Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Enter below to enter a $50 amazon gift card, sponsored by author Laura J. Marshall! a Rafflecopter giveawayThis book blast is hosted by Crossreads. We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

Today I (Annie) am excited to welcome guest blogger Nate Worrell, who’s here to discuss the exciting topic of writing contests!

A sea of challenge awaits you, dear writer.  It will put to test your talent and your fortitude. I have ventured into this world.  I have seen nightmarish beasts and ethereal beauty.  I invite you to take the risk to enter a writing contest and see what sort of magic you might encounter.  Before you embark on your journey, I want to share some basic tenants to prepare you for the trek ahead.

There are as Many Contests as There are Mythical Monsters

Just as Medusa is different from Cyclops, each writing contest has is its own quirks. Knowing what type of contest you want to enter is a crucial first step. 

There are four ways to identify a contest:

1.      By Format (Fiction/Nonfiction/Poetry/Essay) then Genre (Sci-Fi/Romance/Children’s/Etc.).  Many contests span the spectrum and can potentially offer several ways to participate.  (For Example: The Bridport Prize) Sticking with your comfort zone isn’t a bad strategy. However, sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone can strengthen your writing.  (See my interview with Michael Grabell)
2.      By Contest Sponsor.  Each type of sponsor provides a different feel.
a.      Most literary magazines offer some sort of contest (Mississippi Review, Paper Darts, etc.).
b.      Writing websites (Writer’s Type, Writer’sWeekly)
c.      Magazines (Writer’s Digest, by the way my first win came from a magazine)
d.      Clubs/organizations/libraries (NYC Midnight)
e.      Contest websites (Fanstory).
ALERT: Dark creatures and vandals are looming.  Be sure to research the validity of any contest sponsor. 
·        Pay attention to how long they have been around
·        Do they post past winners?
·        Do they explain what they do with your writing once you submit it?
Retreat quickly if you note anything suspicious.
3.      “Open” vs. “Themed”.  Open contests will take writing on any subject and with any style.  Most contests allow you to write anything you want (Gemini Fictions contest). Many will have a few restrictions like no erotica or children’s fiction. ALWAYS READ CONTESTS GUIDELINES.
Themed contest provide some sort of prompt and participants all have to relate their writing to that prompt. (Fanstory [], On The Premises []). While both contest types require high quality writing and great stories, the themed contests add the extra criteria of how well you can incorporate the prompt.
4.      By eligible participants.  Contests can discriminate as much as they want.  At the most open end of the spectrum, you have international contests, open to anybody.  As an example of a more restrictive example, you might find a contest that is only open to women living in a small town in Maine, above a certain age.  The more restrictive end of the spectrum is the hidden gem of the writing contest world.  The writing contests that get the most attention will be the ones that get the most participants.  By virtue of math, the more people you have in a competition the odds that you win go down.  However, if you can find a niche competition, you might only be competing against a few dozen or so, and it can be a relatively easy way to get some resume boosters.

Your Writing Contest Oracles:

With all the assortment of writing contest, where do you begin to look?  Thankfully, there are several great sites out there, and I detail each one in my blog. 
·        Winning Writers provides many niche contests. 
·       Poets and Writers is a treasure trove of literary journals.
·        Just a Contest will send you email updates. 
·        Finally, Funds for Writers features helpful advice and warm editorials by C. Hope Clark.
·        Add to this list your local library, and you will have a wealth of resources to guide you.

Expect to be Torched by Dragons and Wowed by Wizards

There are hazards in the writing competition world. Your work might be torn to shreds.  It might not win, or worse, not even make the short list.  You might get critiques that make you want to reconsider writing altogether.  Do not fear.  Do not lose heart.  Use these opportunities as a metallurgist uses his furnace to forge a mighty weapon.  Allow the heat to sharpen your edges. After all, these hairy beasties do not lurk only in writing contests; they prowl throughout the entire writing land.
Then scrutinize the victors. What ingredients did they put in their potion that made them so effective?  Sometimes fate interferes (for example- if both the writer and judge enjoy chocolate covered bacon, and that’s the subject of the writer’s poem).  More often, it is a risk that the writer took, or a voice, or a twist in the narrative that separates winners from the pack.  Writing warriors are everywhere, and you can either let them push you aside, or push you forward.

Paying the Ferryman

If you are like me, you treasure your gold coins.  Paying a fee seems like a good way to waste $25. I want to comfort you, and put your payment in some context. 
·        First, if you ever see a contest that offers feedback on your writing, that can make a fee worth it.  Most editors start at $25 an hour.
·        Second, paying a fee is something you feel, so it adds that much more incentive to write better. 
·        Third, if you wanted to attend a class at a university to learn to write, you would have to pay a lot more.
·        Finally, prize money has to come from somewhere.  Consider it good karma to make your contribution to the writing contest world.

Final Words

If you want to know more about contests, judging, meet some winners, or anything else contest related, please contact me [[email protected]]. I wish you all the best in your quest. May you reign supreme.
Nate Worrell is the creator of The Competitive Writer,  a blog about writing contests.  He’s been published in The Binnacle, Marco Polo Literary Journal and From the Depths.  If he were a character from the Lord of the Rings, he would be an Ent.

Image Credit: By Boxiness (Painting using tablet PC.) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Title: Shenandoah Crossings By Lisa Belcastro

About the Book

Tess Roberts may live on Martha’s Vineyard, vacation spot for movie stars and presidents, but the Island feels anything but idyllic. Tess has had it with lousy dates, lying, cheating men, and the rules that forbid her from working on her family’s centuries-old schooner, Shenandoah. Lucky for Tess, she knows a secret—the Shenandoah has magical powers. Her best friend, Rebecca O’Neill, once stayed in Cabin 8 and discovered a time portal that transported her to 1775. A month after Rebecca’s “disappearance,” Tess’s father, brother, and Shenandoah’s annoying first mate, Hawk, plan to shut down the time travel for good by dismantling the cabin. But what if Rebecca might someday need to come home? What if Tess isn’t ready to say goodbye forever? Sneaking onto the ship late at night, Tess slips into Cabin 8 and drifts off to sleep. She wakes anchored off the New England coast amidst the American Revolution in 1776. The British frigate HMS Greyhound has seized Shenandoah and taken the crew, cargo, and all onboard hostage. To make matters worse, Hawk is relentlessly tracking her, determined to bring her back to the twenty-first century against her will. Sparks begin to fly, from more than cannonballs and gunpowder….


Lisa picture

Lisa Belcastro Lisa Belcastro lives with her family on Martha’s Vineyard. She was inspired to write the Winds of Change trilogy while chaperoning two Tisbury School summer sails aboard the schooner Shenandoah with her daughter, Kayla. The weeklong adventure, sans electricity, Game Boys, iPods and modern conveniences, kindled her imagination to dream of an altogether different voyage. Lisa currently writes the cuisine column for Vineyard Style magazine. She has worked as a staff and freelance reporter and photographer for The Chronicle of the Horse and as assistant editor at The Blue Ridge Leader. She has written articles for USA Today, Dressage (London), USA WEEKEND Magazine, The Blue Ridge Leader and Sidelines. Lisa co-authored and edited two non-fiction books, American Horses in Sport 1987 and American Horses in Sport 1988. When she’s not at her desk, Lisa is living in paradise, volunteering at her daughter’s school, serving in her church community, planting and weeding her numerous gardens, trying to run a marathon a month or walking the beach with her husband looking for sea glass.

Follow Lisa Belcastro Website | Facebook | Twitter

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This book blast is hosted by Crossreads. We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

One of my favorite authors, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, has just released a new book in her fantasy series Tales of Goldstone Wood.  I had the privilege of receiving an early copy of the novella Goddess Tithe in exchange for an honest review.
Each of the stories in the series so far has seemed to me not just a book but a window into one part of an intricate world.  Stengl has built up this world so thoroughly that when I read one of her books I feel that I’m getting just a glimpse into something much bigger.  So far, every one of them has left me feeling that I’ve just paid a short visit to a place I could spend years and years exploring (and never grow tired of, so I’m glad she has several more planned!). 
Though significantly shorter than Stengl’s other books, Goddess Tithe provides the same kind of reading experience; the same kind of window.  It gives an intriguing glimpse of a culture alluded to only briefly elsewhere, but one that Stengl has obviously put a lot of time and thought into developing.  The characters are well rounded and believable, and I feel that I know them well now.  Their adventures and the settings, though unique, are still consistent with the rest of the series.  
This story takes place during the time of one of the previous ones, Veiled Rose, and provides readers an extra look at an episode in the life of the character Leonard – from a new character’s point of view.  This little novella serves to enrich the world of Goldstone Wood by adding one more angle through which we can see it; one more set of eyes through which to seethe experiences of a character we already knew.  And like all the rest of the books, it makes me wonder what other angles there are that I don’t know about yet; what other cultures exist there that we have yet to see.  I can’t wait for the author’s next books!
Click here to view or buy Goddess Tithe on Amazon.

A couple of months ago I featured Goddess Tithe on my blog when Anne Elisabeth Stengl did a cover reveal.  Click here to read that post, which includes an excerpt from the story.

Have you read any of the Tales of Goldstone Wood?  I’d love to hear what you like about them, or which one is your favorite.  Feel free to reply in the comments!

I keep posting my NaNoWriMo updates on Facebook, and then people I talk to in person keep asking me what that means and what I’m doing.  So here’s a little more info.

The idea is that you try to write at least 50,000 words of a novel between November 1st and 30th.  Hundreds of thousands of people all over the world are doing this (there are 293,135 writers participating this year, according to the official site).  So, that’s what I’ve been working on every day this month in almost every spare moment of free time I’ve got.

Some Stats about my Novel:

title: the Collar and the Cavvarach
genre: speculative fiction (i.e. almost fantasy – it takes place in a different world, but it’s one very much like our own)
word count so far (as of 2:45 p.m. on November 10th): 31,854 words
page count so far: 50
chapters written so far: 4 (+2 paragraphs)
total chapters needed (probably): 10
plot summary in a nutshell: A teenage warrior slave must risk everything to save his younger sister.
why collars are significant to the story: all slaves have to wear them
what a cavvarach is: a type of weapon used in a popular martial art in this world

Since I’m ahead in my word count, I’m not worried as to whether or not I’ll get to fifty thousand words by November 30th.  But I really want to actually finish the whole novel!  According to current estimates, the total length could be anywhere between eighty and a hundred thousands words.  But that’s my real goal – getting to the end by November 30th!

Even if I succeed, will it be well written and ready to publish by November 30th?  Definitely not!  This is only a rough draft, and I’m not rereading it until I get to the end.  It will need a LOT of polishing and revision!  But yes, I do hope to eventually publish it.  And if all goes well, it could be the start of a new series; I do have ideas for other characters and events in that world.

An artist in one of the NaNoWriMo forums was kind enough to draw my main character, Bensin, for me for free.  This isn’t exactly how I pictured him (he wouldn’t be quite that skinny, for one thing), but I think she did a pretty good job considering all she had to go by was a brief description.  You can see more of her artwork here.  Yes, that’s a cavvarach he’s holding, though my idea of what it should look like changed a little after I sent her the description.  The hook part should be at the top, not the bottom, and only the bottom blade would be sharpened to fight with.  (Part of a warrior’s strategy is to try to get his hook around his opponent’s and pull the other guy’s cavvarach out of his hand.)

So, that’s what’s going on with my November.  I hope to post another update around the 20th, and again at the end.  In the meantime, if you catch me doing something other than writing, feel free to demand to know why I’m not working on my novel!

Click here to read a scene from The Collar and the Cavvarach.

Click here to read my first blog post about NaNoWriMo.

Today I’m featuring a guest post by author K.A. DaVur, author and founder of the publishing house Three Fates Press.  Here she is to talk about her journey to publishing and what led her to start her own company.


     I once heard a saying, “The best day of a boatowner’s life is the day he buys a boat.  The second best is the day he sells it.”  That always struck me as having more than a grain of truth.  How many times do we dream about an item or an event, only to discover that the reality does not live up to the expectations?  Sometimes, the “boat” is simply more work than we were expecting, or perhaps we aren’t able to use it as often as we thought.  Sometimes, we discover that we don’t like “boats” as much as we’d anticipated.  Other times, we discover to our dismay that we’d bought a broken boat.

          The latter was the case with me.  I have wanted to be an author for as long as I could put pen to paper.  A little over a year ago I sat in a small room in a convention center, armed with a manuscript, a carefully prepared pitch, and a great deal of hopes and ambition.  I was blessed that day, one of those magical moments when you know you’ve done it right, and I walked out of the room with numerous publishers who were willing to offer me contracts.  In other words, I found myself in a showroom of gorgeous boats that I could afford.  I had spent the day listening to the publishers talk about themselves and their company, and felt that I had a good grasp of the pros and cons of each.  After a great deal of thought and deliberation I made my choice.  It was, simply, one of the greatest days of my life.  My publisher pushed my book thorough at warpspeed, for which I was, and remain, incredibly grateful.  We launched with great success a few months later.  About that same time, things in the publishing house started to fall apart.  The publisher started returning rights to authors, not answering emails, and not following through on his obligations.  Granted, he had a lot of family and personal issues, and so much of that was unavoidable, but what impressed me the most was the way the “family” rallied around him.  I read, over and over again, messages from the authors that said things like, “Whatever I can do to help,” and “You take care of you, we will be fine.”  Our careers were in this man’s hands, and yet our first thought was for his well-being, that was a great example of the spirits of the people with whom I was working, but also what made what happened next so abhorrent. 
            You see, at about this same time, my publisher bought a gaming business, which began to flourish.  At that point, he began to utterly neglect his publishing house.  Emails and phone messages went unanswered for months, books went unordered, publicity and book selling events were not followed through upon, and more authors were dropped.  Worst of all, he became mean.  This same man who had received so much support from the authors whom he had signed, the man with whom I had signed because he seemed to have such a heart for his authors, became abrasive, snarky, and rude. At that point, I realized that staying with that company was no longer an option.  So, I became examining my other possibilities.  Signing with another house was an option, but I was hesitant because there was the chance of this happening again, and because none of my other options were passionate about me or about children’s/young adult fiction.  I wanted someone who was passionate about my books.  A large publishing house would have likely been an option, due to the success of my book, but I had been in control of my publicity and arranging my events, and I wanted that to continue.  Besides, where would that leave the other amazing people who had been walking this path with me? 
            So, I decided to start my own publishing company.  I was offered, and accepted, help and partnership from two women with decades of experience in the publishing world.  We put our heads together and came up with a plan for success for the house as a whole, and for the authors as individuals.  For the house, we planned on a very measured rate of development so as not to overextend, built a support team including us three, a project manager, mentors, and a CFO, so if there is ever anything in our lives that would slow us down, there is a slew of backup to keep the momentum going.  Also, we have implemented a three prong marketing plan that includes science fiction and fantasy conventions, local bookselling events, and also library and wholesale sales.  We are going to flood the market from every avenue. We have worked very hard to see that the authors whose work we accepted and who already had books on the market can transition with no lapse of saleability.   We support our authors by providing merchandise, finding and arranging venues, and of course through social networking.  Most of all, though, we are dedicated to ensuring that everyone with whom we work is being treated incredibly well.  We approached the editors whom our former author didn’t pay, and have offered to pay them out of our profits from the books on which they worked.  We promote each other.  We follow the contracts that we have created.  We listen to and anticipate the needs of one another.  I have never been prouder. 
            I am proud to not only be the owner of a publishing house, but to see how a group of artists, who can sometimes by nature be prone to moodiness and an understandable desire to move our work forward at any cost have instead chosen to come together to work for the good of the individual and the whole.  I’m proud of the laughs that we have.  I’m proud of the caliber of work that we are producing.  I sold my boat, bought a fleet, and don’t regret it for a second. 

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      To find our more about us, you can visit our publishing house pages at and and read about my book at  We are on Facebook as well!   Also, we could really use some help getting this house off of the ground.  The expenses are astronomical and there wasn’t a lot of time to save for them, as we didn’t want the authors to suffer by having their books removed from the market.  Also, we are still trying to promote our individual works while we transition.  So, to help with this process, we have set up a groupfunding account through Indiegogo.  The link is and I ask that you please visit, contribute if you can, and share.  Also, we are open to submission, especially for children’s books.  Those may be submitted to [email protected].  Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story! 

Today I’m pleased to present a guest post about the importance of first lines and opening scenes in a novel, by author Meradeth Houston.  Make sure you take a look at her books, described below.  They sound fascinating!
First lines and Opening Scenes
The most prime real estate in your novel is the opening. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely important points throughout, but that opening really has to rock to grab the attention of the reader, especially an agent or editor you hope will work with your book. So, no pressure or anything J. There are a few things you might think about while working on your opening line, and the first 200 or so words, to help you really have an opening that screams “you have to keep reading!”
~Your opening, from the first line, to the setting of the first scene in the opening hundred words, is all about hooking your reader in. To start with, you should know what would make you read on—what snags your attention as a reader? One of my favorite things to do at a bookstore is chose random titles within my favorite genre and read the openings. Which ones are mind-blowing and force me to spend way too much money on books? Which ones leave me thinking I’ll grab the book some other time? Another great spot to spy on openings are some of the competitions on the web, such as those run monthly by Miss Snark’s First Victim, or others—tons of openings and lots of fun to see what works.
Once you’ve read a lot, ask the all important question: WHY? This will probably have something to do with a few different things:
~Setting the tone.The first line must set the right tone for the rest of the book. This comes down partly to the voice of the novel and author, as well as the feel of the book. A dark urban fantasy would probably not want to start off with an upbeat, fluffy opening, or a contemporary romance probably wouldn’t begin with a grisly murder scene. While both might grab the reader’s attention, choosing an opening for shock value doesn’t help when a few pages in the reader get a dramatic shift in tone and sets the book aside.
~Setting up the main character(s). The reader wants to know who they’re going to be reading about. Opening with other people who won’t play the central roles in the novel doesn’t allow for them to draw us in, and it kind of amounts to a bait-and-switch J. Let the MC’s voice shine through from the very start.
~Beginning in the right spot. This is probably the hardest thing to really figure out. On one hand, opening with some action is a great hook, but on the other hand has the potential to completely confuse the reader as it provides no context. Finding the right balance of the two can be difficult, but asking yourself this question might help: When do things really begin to change for my main character? Then back up in time a little and go from there. At least, this is what works for me!
~Know the no-no’s.Waking up, looking into a mirror, running away—there are a ton of lists around the web of openings that have become cliché. Become familiar with these, and try to avoid them. If you must use them, be sure to do something unique or unexpected with it.
Possibly the most frustrating part about openings is how subjective they can be. Some openings work for some people, but not others. Remembering that everything is subjective in writing is something that is good to remember, and may save you some heartache.
Here are a few first lines that I particularly love:
“It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.” The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (so telling and so bleak. I am in love with Steifvater’s writing!)
Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling (it’s the “thank you very much” in this one that not only makes me want to laugh, but begs the question of why they’re so concerned about being normal)
“The first time, November 6 to be exact, I wake up at two a.m. with a tingling in my head like tiny fireflies dancing behind my eyes.” Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (I love the voice in this and the details of the date and fireflies)
“I greeted his tombstone the way I always did-with a swift kick.” Colors Like Memories by me J
What are some of your favorite opening lines and scenes?
A bit about the Colors Like Memories:
Julia has a secret: she killed the guy she loved. It was an accident—sort of.

Julia is a Sary, the soul of a child who died before taking her first breath. Without this ‘breath of life’ she and others like her must help those on the verge of suicide. It’s a job Julia used to enjoy, until the accident that claimed her boyfriend’s life—an accident she knows was her fault. If living with the guilt weren’t enough, she’s now assigned to help a girl dealing with the loss of her mother, something Julia’s not exactly the best role model for. If she can’t figure out a way to help her, Julia’s going to lose her position in the Sary, something she swore to her boyfriend would never happen.

Now available in print and ebook format!

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A bit about The Chemistry of Fate:
“They are everywhere, can be anyone, and are always the last person you’d expect.” When Tom stumbles across his grandfather’s journal, he’s convinced the old man was crazier than he thought. The book contains references to beings called the Sary, immortals who are assigned to save humans on the verge of suicide. They certainly aren’t allowed to fall in love with mortals. Which the journal claims Tom’s grandfather did, resulting in his expulsion from the Sary. As strange as the journal seems, Tom can’t get the stories out of his head; especially when he finds the photo of his grandfather’s wings.

Tom’s only distraction is Ari, the girl he studies with for their chemistry class.

Ari has one goal when she arrives in town: see how much Tom knows about the Sary and neutralize the situation. This isn’t a normal job, but protecting the secrecy of the Sary is vital. If Tom is a threat to exposing the Sary to the public, fate has a way of taking care of the situation, usually ending with the mortal’s death. While Ari spends time with Tom, he becomes more than just an assignment, but how far can a relationship go when she can’t tell him who she really is? When she finds out just how much Tom actually knows about the Sary, Ari is forced to choose between her wings, and her heart.

THE CHEMISTRY OF FATE is a companion to COLORS LIKE MEMORIES and is set before the latter takes place. It is geared toward an upper YA, or New Adult audience.

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About Me:
Meradeth’s never been a big fan of talking about herself, but if you really want to know, here are some random tidbits about her:
>She’s a Northern California girl, but now lives and teaches anthropology in Montana.
>When she’s not writing, she’s sequencing dead people’s DNA. For fun!
>She’s been writing since she was 11 years old. It’s her hobby, her passion, and she’s so happy to get to share her work!
>If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she’s terrified of heights.
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