The "Pretend This is the First Week of January" post

Hi friends! If you're wondering, yes, Wisconsin is horribly cold right now (so no school), which means I actually sat around long enough to remember I was supposed to start blogging again in 2014!!


So, I'll get around to letting you all know what I've been up to the last six months (*cough* *messing around* *cough*) but for now, here's what I read last year in order from last January to December. Because, you know, I was supposed to post this three weeks ago and I always sort-of keep my promises to myself (and Christy). . .  :)  (oh, and when the final book of a series I liked comes out, I tend to re-read the whole series so that's what's up with a few of these!)

The Lonely Hearts Club     Dreamland      Don't Turn Around (PERSEF0NE, #1)     The Obsidian Blade (The Klaatu Diskos, #1)     Sweethearts     Beautiful Creatures (Caster...     Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles, #2)     Beautiful Chaos (Caster Chronicles, #3)     Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles, #4)     Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, # 1)     Gone (Gone, #1)     Hunger (Gone, #2)     Lies (Gone, #3)     Plague (Gone, #4)     Fear (Gone, #5)     Light (Gone, #6)     Wait for You (Wait for You, #1)     The Truth About Letting Go     The Job Offer     Candy Store     Waking Up Married     The Other Side of Us     I'm Not Her     Stealing Parker     Mystic Ink     Mystic Storm     Mind Games (Mind Games, #1)     The Magicians (The Magicians, #1)     Dragonfly (Dragonfly, #1)     Extinct     One Perfect Night (The Sullivans, #8.5)     Left Drowning     Invasion (C.H.A.O.S., #1)     Bitter Like Orange Peel     Feed     Reason to Breathe (Breathing, #1)     Barely Breathing (Breathing, #2)     Out of Breath (Breathing, #3)     The Fault in Our Stars     Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality     The Marriage Bargain (Marriage to a Billionaire, #1)     Dissected     Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies, #1)    

There you have it! And I'm on book #6 for 2014 (Inferno by Dan Brown if you're wondering). Plus I try to go to work every day that they let me (darn snow, er, cold days anyway!) and occasionally feed my family. I think. Hang on while I check and make sure they're still around. . ."Family??"


Sun & Moon by Lee Strauss

Sun & Moon by Lee Strauss
(Book One in the Minstrel Series)

 Out January 26th!

If you’re a fan of the movie Inside Llewyn Davis, ABC television’s Nashville or Colleen Hoover’s upcoming novel, "Maybe Someday", the Minstrel Series is for you!

The Minstrel Series is a collection of contemporary romance novels set in the singer/songwriter world. The books are companion novels, with shared settings and characters, but each are complete standalone stories with a HEA (happily ever after) and no cliffhangers!

She has a past. He has a secret.
Katja Stoltz is a risk-taking singer-songwriter hoping to make it in the indie music scene in Dresden, Germany. Micah Sturm's a brooding uptown banker on a quest.

Driven to the streets, Katja is picked up by Micah - but he doesn't want what she thinks he does.

There’s an undeniable attraction between them, a gravitational pull they both struggle to resist. Katja knows she mustn’t fall in love with this handsome enigma. There’s something dark lurking beneath the surface. He could be dangerous.

And even if her life isn’t on the line, her heart most definitely is.

*not erotica - no explicit sex or coarse language

Buy now!

Enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card, MP3s of all four songs featured on Sun & Moon, and a 12 month calendar from Dresden, Germany featuring many of the settings found in
Sun & Moon.

Dresden, Germany

Enter below. Contest ends Friday!



I didn't make time for blogging much this past year.  Along with neglecting my own blog, I never visited anyone else's.  But I never forgot about you.  In fact, I hold fond memories.

I started this blog in the summer of 2010. My first posts were as bad as my first queries and my first pages.  Okay, okay, my first entire manuscripts.  Even my first critiques were lousy--I had NO idea what I was doing.

 Thankfully I met Erica a few months later and she agreed to partner up with me.   I thank God for her regularly.

Back then, and for three years, she and I were inseparable, virtually speaking.  We emailed each other bi-hourly.  We blogged daily.  We met all of you and kept up to date with your writing and your lives by visiting you at least weekly.

Now, we go a week without so much as a "hi, hope you're well" email.  And, well, this blog has gotten more than a little dusty.  Ooh, pardon that spider web.  Let me get that out of your way.  There, that's better.  Can you read the rest of this post now?  Good. Onward.

For a couple of years we blog hopped and passed around awards, got involved with campaigns and challenges and contests.  We interviewed you and posted weekly recipes.  We hosted contests and gave out free books.  I changed the look of this blog monthly.  What better way to procrastinate from revisions and grading?

Ah, the ol' days.  It's funny how many of you have been reminiscing about those days lately too. (Check out this post byLTM at That's Write.)  It must be that time, the time when we look back and see where we've been and how far we've come.   

Not much has changed for me, writing wise.  (Except that I never stopped writing.  I've written four complete manuscripts (*in four years). And, per feedback and critiques from others, I've improved some.  Phew.)  So what got me thinking about all of this?  Last night, a non-writing friend stopped over and asked how writers get the word out about their books.  I started explaining about this blog and the blogosphere and how authors help one another out.  I started talking about that first year blogging and the nostalgia set in.  Hence, this post.

This past week, I visited a few of you and I'm so excited about where you're all at.  I think I'll spend some posts over the next couple of weeks strolling down memory lane and highlighting a few success stories and "Where are they now?" posts.

Cheers to you all!


*added to clarify that I didn't write them all this past year! 


it's not personal, it's business

I don't watch as many movies as I used to.  When I can, I read.  I write.  But mostly I teach, feed my kids, do laundry, scrub floors, get snacks, crab at people, and stare at my manuscript somewhat envisioning the revisions I'll make the next time I open it.

When I was younger and without children, I watched a lot of tv and movies.  My husband an I loved movies.  (I often wish I would've gotten into writing sooner.  I imagine how much I could've written in those days!) Some of my favorites, pre-hubby even, were Meg Ryan movies, such as French Kiss and You've Got Mail (the line my title for this post came from).  I used to be able to recite French Kiss by heart. Lines like:  "Yyeeeuu pipple meke my ass tweetch." and "I didn't used to think I'd be the kind of woman to say this, but it's true. All men are bastards."

As for the title of this post, "It's not personal, it's business" (from You've Got Mail), I was thinking about the business side of publishing.  Of course publishing is personal.  It's our very own stories and the characters we imagined and gave life to on the pages of our manuscripts! 

So, in truth, it is personal, and it's also business.  (So basically, the title for this post popped into my head and I used it without it actually having much at all to do with the post.)

That said.  I've been back in the blogosphere a little bit this week, reading blogs by authors who've self-published.  And I'm amazed and intrigued and kind of think that's a path I'd like to stroll down and do a little sight seeing.

What could make it more personal than doing it all, well, personally?

I haven't queried very widely in my four years of writing.  My first novel went in a drawer pretty quickly after I could never get the beginning right.  My second I couldn't get the query right, so I figured there had to be a plot issue.  My third is still in the revision stages with a co-author (yo, Erica!) and my fourth (current novel) kept novel #2's characters but took on a fresh story.  It is in its second or third revision.  This is the one I love and will probably query, but am seriously thinking out a strategy for going indie with it.

I'm feeling a little bit stalkerish with the indie authors I've known about or am learning about through links and side bars and blogs and facebook this week.  But I'm also seeing quite a bit of camaraderie amongst them, so I'm thinking they'd be happy to offer tips and won't mind me hanging around. 

I have so many questions!  So many answers are already out there, thanks to the above mentioned authors, but still so many more!

If you've wondered about the indie life, check out these authors' sites.

Hugh C. Howey blogs about an author who turned down a $120,000 book deal to go indie because she (using research and figures) decided she'd make more self-publishing.

Susan Kaye Quinn provides a wealth of knowledge and experience on self-publishing.  Right now I'm stuck on her five year plan.  I'm overwhelmed by the details and planning of going indie, and yet am thinking "I think I can do this, in some way shape or form." I can't quit my day job, am not ready to quit a day job I enjoy, so I couldn't take on the same goals as full-time writers do, but with a five year plan, I can visualize what I am able to do and make my goals and dreams realistic for me, my family, my writing and my life.  Quinn has great links for the professionals you'd need to help you out too, from editors and formatters and cover designers, etc.

Leigh Ann Kopans, an author who got an agent and still chose to go indie.  This shows that being a hybrid author (or having that goal) is doable as well.  There are options!

H.P Mallory, a very successful indie author who offers info for others who want to give it a try too

another best-selling indie author, Kristen Lamb, offering advice on what NOT to do when self-published, because, let's face it, some people are not ready to take that road when they do.  That's why all the people who plan out all the details and dedicate themselves to the business side of putting a flawless product out there for readers inspire me.  If I do this, I want to do it absolutely the right way.  Without rush, without error.  (Those who start out before they are ready can always revamp, revise and try again!)

All of The Indelibles who have come together to help one another and others interested in learning about going, and surviving, the indie life amaze.

And the first blogger friend I watched decide to self-publish, in utter fascination, and take off with a trilogy (I devoured) and start her own media company, Rachel Morgan.  Without her recent post sharing the number of sales she made this past year, I wouldn't even be considering this, because in my real world, I have to be thinking about income and my family and what time and money spent on publishing means for us.  She made it feasible, a viable "Honey, I think I'd like to do this." type of conversation and a worthwhile daydream.  Along with all the other blog links I've been scouring--okay that is not the right word-- this week, hers was a catalyst to me writing this post.

There are more, so many more, but this is where I'll stop linking for tonight.  I think the best thing right now is the freedom of options, that I could make my writing a business, more than the hobby my husband and parents think it is.  I like the creative control being an independent author offers.  I like being able to publish what I want, when I want and being in control of the income, the cover, the title, the editing, etc.  I used to want an agent and then a publisher for validation of my writing, but I have access to writers now that I didn't have four years ago.  And there are people I trust to tell me if something I'm writing is crap.  I won't publish something if it's crap.  I'll start over until I write something that many people think is "wow". 

For now, I need to get readmitted to my Master's program and finish a thesis, take five more credits to renew my teaching license next June, teach, be a mom, finish my revisions.  I've read that it takes three books to make a decent name for oneself as a self-published author and since I won't be able to write three books in one year, I figure I'll wait until I have the two or three ready to go.  So, I have time to learn more, to plan, and to take action.

I'm sure I'll bring this up again!


p.s. if you can help me think of the word I mean that is not scouring...i'll be incredibly grateful. oy. 


First Page Critique

Christy submitted her first page of 27 DAISIES (YA Contemporary) for a First Impressions Critique today. Please hop over and check it out if you have time! (links below)

These two lovely ladies host a First Impressions (first page critique) on their blogs each month to give writers feedback.  They invite their readers to leave suggestions in the comments. (Read their side bars to learn how to submit your first page for next month's First Impressions!)

Dianne Salerni @ In High Spirits
Marcy S. Hatch @ Maine Words

Hope you are having a fabulous new year! So far so good for Erica and Christy.  We are home from school today since it's too cold to venture out.  Here in Wisconsin it's at about -40 with the wind chill!  That's why I'm snuggling my coffee by the fire place today and working on revising 27 DAISIES! 

Stay warm!



Christy's 2013 Reads

Well, we clearly didn't do a lot of blogging in 2013. BUT we did spend some time reading!  Here's a list of the books Christy read in 2013:

Requiem by Lauren Oliver
Requiem (Delirium, #3)

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
My Life Next Door (My Life ...

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Legend, Prodigy, and Champion by Marie Lu
Legend (Legend, #1)  Prodigy (Legend, #2)   Champion (Legend, #3)

The Faerie War and the Faerie Prince by Rachel Morgan
The Faerie Prince (Creepy H...  The Faerie War (Creepy Holl...

Just One Year and Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Just One Year (Just One Day...  Just One Day (Just One Day,...

Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Daughter of Smoke and Bone ...  Days of Blood and Starlight...

The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
The Chaos of Stars

Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Fault in Our Stars

Mind Games by Kiersten White
Mind Games (Mind Games, #1)

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Clockwork Princess (The Inf...

Lies That Bind by Laura and Lisa Roecker
The Lies That Bind (The Lia...

Boundless (Unearthly series) by Cynthia Hand
Boundless (Unearthly, #3)

Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn
Rome Sweet Home: Our Journe...

The Fullness of Truth: A Handbook for Understanding and Explaining the Catholic Faith Biblically by James M. Seghers

What Catholics Really Believe by Karl Keating
What Catholics Really Belie...

I also reread a couple of favorites including: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins and Sophie and Carter by Chelsea Fine.

I'm looking forward to the books I'll read in 2014.  Happy reading to you all!