Visual Post of Common

Today, we welcome fellow author Laurie Lucking. Her debut novel, Common, releases on February 14! Make sure you pick it up –I’ve already read it (and endorsed it) and it’s phenomenal! Want to know more? Okay, here’s what the back cover says.

Only one person knows of the plot against the royal family and cares enough to try to stop it—the servant girl they banished.

Leah spends her days scrubbing floors, polishing silver, and meekly curtsying to nobility. Nothing distinguishes her from the other commoners serving at the palace, except her red hair.

And her secret friendship with Rafe, the Crown Prince of Imperia.

But Leah’s safe, ordinary world begins to splinter. Rafe’s parents announce his betrothal to a foreign princess, and she unearths a plot to overthrow the royal family. When she reports it without proof, her life shatters completely when the queen banishes her for treason.

Harbored by an unusual group of nuns, Leah must secure Rafe’s safety before it’s too late. But her quest reveals a villain far more sinister than an ambitious nobleman with his eye on the throne.

Can a common maidservant summon the courage to fight for her dearest friend?

Doesn’t that sound like such a great story?  Anyway, sit back and enjoy Laurie’s visual sneak peek into the world of Common!

 

 

Since my main character, Leah, is a chambermaid, most of her daily interactions are with fellow servants. But her brushes with royalty are when things really get interesting! Leah learns too late that heeding her ma’s warnings to steer clear of the royal family would’ve been the safer way to go, but her friendship with Prince Raphael is so worth it 🙂

 

Crown: The King and Queen of Imperia are proud of their royal status, and don’t want anyone to forget it! As long as they’re in charge, they plan to keep a distinct separation of rank between nobility and the serving class.

 

 

King Frederick: Old-fashioned and verbose, King Frederick is the eldest of a set of brothers known for their indifference toward servants. Although he’s the one who makes the speeches and royal pronouncements, much of the content is dictated by his wife.

 

 

Queen Beatrice: Cold, haughty Queen Beatrice likes to exert ultimate control over not only her servants, but also her husband and son. She prizes lineage and nobility above all else, so it frustrates her to no end that she can’t convince Prince Raphael to do the same.

 

 

Prince Raphael: Prince Raphael, or Rafe, detests formal banquets and parties and would much rather be outdoors than studying with his tutor. Although he doesn’t fully comprehend servant life, he treats Leah as an equal and hopes to better the condition of the serving class when he becomes king.

 

Princess Penelope: Princess Penelope of Trellich is beautiful and accomplished, everything King Frederick and Queen Beatrice are looking for in a match for their son. But there is more to the princess than meets the eye, and her secrets might prove disastrous for the entire kingdom.

 

 

Throne: The throne room is the perfect place for the king and queen to display their wealth and power. When Rafe suggests that Leah should meet with them there to disclose information about the princess, her hesitation turns out to be more than justified.

 

The royalty of Imperia and Trellich lead lives just as varied and complex as the lower classes, just with more pomp and circumstance and fancier clothes 🙂 In fact, one of these characters intrigued my publisher so much she asked me to consider making her the protagonist of my next book, and I think it just might happen…stay tuned!

Thank you so much for inviting me to visit today!

Thanks so much, Laurie, for giving us this visual tour! Mark your calendars because Common goes on sale February 14th. Stop by the Facebook party on Thursday, February 15th, and check out the other blog tour stops listed below to learn more about this romantic tale.

 

5 More Things I Wish I Knew When I Started

Dear younger me
I cannot decide
Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life
Or do I go deep
And try to change
The choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me
Even though I love this crazy life
Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride       ~MercyMe

Two weeks ago, I wrote the post 5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started. I felt it was only appropriate to include the second verse of the song Dear Younger Me (which, by the way, is such a great song. Plus, since this is my blog, I get to make cool choices like that). Anyway, this post is a continuation, a second round of things I’d tell my younger self if I could.

*Don’t isolate because it’s hard to create in a vacuum. Many writers are introverts, spending lots of time in their head creating characters, settings, and plots. Get out and live a little. (Yes, it’s hard. As an introvert, I want to stay in my creative cocoon. But I see my writing improve when I expand my boundaries.)

*Writing is as much about platform and marketing as it is about actually writing. This is the one transition that happened when I wasn’t looking. I started writing in the 90’s, and then I took a break to have children. When I started writing again, suddenly there was plenty of buzz about platform and social media and marketing. But this is the new normal. I can’t tuck myself away at a country cottage, like Salinger or Dickinson. That doesn’t work anymore.

* Be content with where you are. It took many frustrating years before I became happy with where I was. It was during a Bible study where someone said, “You’re where God wants you to be. Don’t envy someone else’s life. They’ve got something that you can’t handle. Just like you have things in your life they can’t handle.” Knowing that piece of advice and knowing I’d always write, regardless of the outcome, helped me cope.

* Suck it up and pay your dues. There are very few people whose first manuscript is a best seller. I’ve written plenty of stories, poems, and three books in the in the past (the first book will never, ever, see the light of day). And that’s okay. I made lots of mistakes in those early books and learned a lot.

*Contests are excellent measuring sticks. Always choose the ones that give feedback, especially if you’re shelling out $20 or $25 dollars for an entry fee. I should’ve entered many more of those than I did.

Plus 1: Take care of yourself. This is something I’m still working on because balance is difficult, at least for me. Every job requires it, as well as sleep, healthy eating, and time to just unwind. The writing profession is no different.

What about you? Is there any piece of advice you’d give your younger self? Please leave it in the comments!

The Inspiration Behind Disowned: A guest blog post by Sarah Addison-Fox

Today, I’m pleased to welcome author Sarah Addison-Fox to Jilligan’s Island. Sarah has recently released her book, Disowned, and I thought everyone would like to know the inspiration behind it.

Read on to find out!


What Inspired the Story?

Yikes! Answering this question is really hard! Because I’m a ‘Panster’ and I really create what I write on the fly, Disowned really just sort of happened. I kid you not. I had an opening scene, two names, and a question I wanted to answer….

 

What would happen if a slave girl tossed away was shown a different life?

 

As soon as I asked this question, Celeste’s journey began with her introduction to a family willing to hide her even though harboring a slave would bring them trouble.

I wanted to show the differences between the two countries both with very different religious structures, one country that values human life, and another which traps slaves in an inescapable system.

So, I guess if I had to pin my inspiration down to one thing, it would be wanting to write about Celeste’s struggle for freedom, emotionally, spiritually and physically. For me Celeste represents so many girls who have been tossed aside, stepped on or mistreated. Celeste’s story is only beginning in Disowned, like so many she is searching for her place, and desperately trying to find value and purpose to her life.

Over the course of the Allegiance series, there will many trials as Celeste battles to find the freedom found only in God’s love.

Want to know more about disowned?
Two countries, two choices, one life. When Kyraenean slave Celeste risks her life to reach the free nation of Etraea, a country filled with technology and wealth, she unknowingly sets off a chain of events that will change her life forever.
After escaping her new owner, Celeste awakens in the home of an Etraean soldier, sworn to protect the fragile peace. For Corporal Mick Haynes, life is simple. Follow the rules, do your job and work your way up the ranks. Getting shot and finding a wanted slave at his family’s farm wasn’t part of the plan.
When a Kyraenean bounty hunter locates Celeste, Mick’s loyalty will be stretched to the limit.
With war on the horizon, Celeste faces two impossible choices. Both securing her freedom, but both at a cost she could never have imagined. Will Etraea provide the freedom she’s longed for or shackle her to an entirely new master?
Sarah Addison-Fox is a New Zealand-born home-schooling mother of two who
loves action-packed, clean, fantasy with strong heroines. She has an astonishing
amount of nail polish, has all her creative writing credentials shoved in a drawer
somewhere, and has a husband who, after 27 years, can still make her blush.
When she’s not working on both her YA fantasy series’ she can be found
fangirling on Goodreads or sending GIFs on Twitter.

Sarah Addison’s Official Website: http://www.sarahaddisonfox.com/

Social Media Links:
Instagram: sarahaddisonfox/
Twitter: @Saddisonfox
To Read more about Disowned, check out the Full blog Tour schedule!

Jan 2nd: Book Review – Unicorn Quester – https://unicornquester.com/blog/
Jan 3rd: Post Written by Host Blogger – SKG Fun – http://www.southkakalakigirl.com/the-blog/
Jan 4th: Guest Post from Author, Sarah Addison Fox – Teens n Tiaras – https://teensntiaras.weebly.com/blog
Jan 5th: Book Review – Ashley Bogner – http://www.ashleybogner.com/
Jan 6th: Author Interview – Karyssa – http://gottahavecoffee.blogspot.com/
Jan 7th: Post Written by Host Blogger – Anna –http://www.cupofthoughts.blog/
Jan 8th: Book Review Abigail – http://novelsdragonsandwardrobedoors.blogspot.com/
Jan 9th: Post Written by Host Blogger – Abi- https://theleft-handedtypist.blogspot.com
Jan 10th: Giveaway – Annie – http://anniedouglasslima.blogspot.com
Jan 11th: Giveaway – Jaye – http://www.jayelknight.blogspot.com
Jan 12th: Book Review – Angel – www.purelyunorthodox.com
Jan 13th: Post Written by Host Blogger –  Anna – https://jumbledthoughtsofawriter.wordpress.com
Jan 14th: Book Review – Hannah – www.thedifferentgirl.com
Jan 15th: Interview – Kate –  https://onceuponanordinary.wordpress.com/  –
Jan 16th: Guest Post from Author – New Authors -https://newauthors.wordpress.com/
Jan 17th: Book Review – Audrey- http://audreycaylin.com/
Jan 18th: Book Review – Kellyn – https://reveriesreviews.wordpress.com/
Jan 19th: Guest Post from Author – Liv – http://livkfisher.blogspot.com/
Jan 20th: Author Interview – Medomfo –  https://writingsfromagodgirl.wordpress.com/
Jan 21st: Book Review – Victoria – https://rufflesandgrace.com/
Jan 22nd: Post Written by Host Blogger – Jebraun – https://jebraunclifford.com
Jan 23rd: Review – Chloe – https://purelybyfaithreviews.wordpress.com/
Jan 24th: Review – Kiara -kiarasbookends.wordpress.com
Jan 25th: Author Guest Post – J.M. Hackman – www.jmhackman.com
Jan 26th: Book Review – Lelia – http://www.leilatualla.com/leilasbookshelf
Jan 27th: Author Interview – Riley – rileyalinewrites.wordpress.com
Jan 28th: Review – Sarah – www.smylinggirl.blogspot.com
Jan 29th: Review – Shay –  www.elvenpadawan.com
Review – Jessi – https://theartfulauthor.wordpress.com/
Jan 30th: Guest Post from Author – Lands Uncharted- www.landsuncharted.com
Jan 31st: Spotlight Post – Raechel – https://godspeculiartreasurerae.wordpress.com/

5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Writing

Dear younger me
Where do I start
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
Then you could be
One step ahead
Of all the painful memories still running thru my head
I wonder how much different things would be         ~MercyMe

I’ve been writing for a long time, about fifteen years. And like the song Dear Younger Me, there are some things I wish I could tell my younger self, so I’d be better prepared.

  1. Don’t stop writing—ever. That condescending editor? I should’ve brushed off the criticism. The days when I didn’t have to write? I should’ve put my butt in the chair and written anyway. When things got hard and the criticism stung, I shouldn’t have slowed down, but instead pushed harder.
  2. Develop a thick skin. This one I’m still working on. I know words are only words. But whether it’s a bit of untrue gossip or a scathing review, these are the things downloaded unto the hard drive of my memory.
  3. It’s a hard industry to break into. Much, much harder than I thought. In fact, I’ve heard the professional advice: if you can do anything else, do it. And I would… except the characters and plots keep coming. I don’t only write because I like to, but because I can’t not write.
  4. Feedback is essential… Whether it’s beta readers or a critique group, listen to the advice. (If they’re all saying the same thing, it’d be wise to take notes and then edit.)
  5. …But it’s also just someone else’ opinion. These opinions are not commandments from God. They’re just someone else’s viewpoint. You’re the one who gets to decide how the story unfolds.

I’ve got five more tips that I wished I knew when I started. I’ll share those in my next personal post. Next week, Sarah Addison-Fox will be stopping by to share more about her new book Disowned! See you then!

 

My Most Anticipated Films of 2018

Happy New Year! After covering the most anticipated books of 2018 in my quarterly newsletter, True North Tales, I wanted to share an overview of the films I’m most excited about this year. There’s so many movies, more than what I have room for here, but this is a list of films and trailers that caught my eye.

A Wrinkle In Time: releases March 9     There’s been a lot of hype about this, and I’ve already seen the trailer which is full of beautiful special effects and thrilling action. My biggest fear? That it won’t be as good as the book. I LOVE A Wrinkle In Time, and I hope the production company does this film well. (XX fingers crossed…)

Solo: A Star Wars Story: releases May 25     This movie intrigues me, and I’ll probably go to see it, if early reviews are good. Despite my love of Star Wars, I refused to see Rogue One because of the ending. Let’s hope Ron Howard gives Solo a better finish.

The Incredibles II: releases June 15        Can I just say I’m thrilled about this film? The Incredibles is/was my favorite animated Pixar movie, so the news of a sequel is just fantastic. It focuses on Elastagirl (aka Helen Parr) and the emerging power of their little boy, Jack-Jack. Check out the adorable teaser trailer here.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: releases June 22     For those of you who didn’t get enough dinos from the last film, I present this one. The characters head back to the island to save the remaining dinosaurs, but find far more. I like the idea, but I’ll be honest–although I enjoyed it, the original Jurassic World scared me. I don’t know if I’ll spend money at the theater for this one.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: releases Nov. 16     I loved the first FB film. Did you know there are five films planned? The producer, David Heyman, plans to release one film every two years. I can’t wait to see Johnny Depp’s performance as Grindelwald.

Ralph Breaks the Internet: releases November 21     This sequel to Wreck-it Ralph finds Ralph and Vanellope searching for a spare part to fix an arcade game. Their hunt leads them to new worlds and new characters, such as the Disney princesses.

As I said, there are so many more movies to be excited about, but these are the ones I’ll be watching. If you have any others on your “To Watch” list, please share them in the comments. I’d love to know about them!

And have a wonderful New Year!

Cover Reveal for Common by Laurie Lucking

Happy Friday! It’s a great day, not only because it’s the start of a weekend (I always start relaxing on Friday afternoon), but also because my friend and fellow author Laurie Lucking just released her beautiful cover for Common!

I can’t even begin to tell you how great this story is — and unfortunately, you have to wait a couple months to get it. But we can revel in its gorgeous cover.

Which we will.

In a minute.

First, let me share with you the back cover copy:

One person knows of the plot against the royal family and cares enough to try to stop it — the servant girl they banished.

Leah spends her days scrubbing floors, polishing silver, and meekly curtsying to nobility. Nothing distinguishes her from the other commoners serving at the palace, except her red hair.

And her secret friendship with Rafe, the Crown Prince of Imperia.

But Leah’s safe, ordinary world begins to splinter. Unexpected feelings for Rafe surface just as his parents announce his betrothal to a foreign princess. Then she unearths a plot to overthrow the royal family. Her life shatters completely when the queen banishes her for treason.

Harbored by a mysterious group of nuns, Leah must secure Rafe’s safety before it’s to late. But her quest reveals a villain far more sinister than an ambitious nobleman with his eye on the throne.

Can a common maidservant summon the courage to fight for her dearest friend?

 

 

So exciting! Thank you for being patient. So without any further fuss, here’s the cover for Common!

Sara Helwe did the art for this, and it’s breathtaking.

Here’s a little about the about the author Laurie Lucking.

An avid reader since birth (her parents claim she often kept them up late begging to hear just one more story), Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as an attorney to become a stay-at-home mom. She writes young adult fantasy with a strong thread of romance, and her debut novel, Common, releases in 2018 from Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing. Laurie is the secretary of her local ACFW chapter and a co-founder of www.landsuncharted.com, a blog for fans of clean young adult speculative fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and two young sons. Find out more about Laurie and her writing by visiting www.laurielucking.com.

 

Black Friday-Cyber Monday Sale!

For those of you who are diehard Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday shoppers, there is a promotional going on! Over 20+ authors are offering their books, many at fantastic sale prices — and the books are perfect for many of the readers on your Christmas list.

Check out the covers below — have you ever seen such beautiful books?

         

So, don’t delay — go check out these amazing stories! Buy one (or several!) for the special people on your list.

 

 

Interview with T.J. Akers, Author of The Final Paladin

Welcome to Jilligan’s Island! Today we’re interviewing T.J. Akers, who stopped by on his blog tour  to talk about  The Final Paladin, which releases on November 14th. At the end of this interview, I’ll include the book blurb and some interesting information about T.J., as well as the Facebook party link. You’ll want to get your hands on this story. I started reading it last night and was immediately intrigued!

Hi, T.J.!  We’re so excited to find out more about your new release, The Final Paladin. So, let’s jump right into the questions! Why do you write fiction?

TJ: I love creating stories, always have. My son was eight and an avid reader, and he should be, because I read to him every day until he turned seven. Then I read with him. He was losing interest in reading, and it concerned me. He complained about not having anything fun to read, so I got active in helping him find things. I introduced him to audio books and started pointing him to the good stuff. Then for his eighth birthday, I wrote him a novel. Of course, I also got him some cool presents, too. That was when I rediscovered writing, story creation, and everything else that goes with it. So I write because I love it. I also write so my readers will have fun, and in doing so, learn to love reading. If a reader did not have fun reading any fiction I wrote, I’ve failed.

JI: The Final Paladin starts in late 19th century, New York City. Why did you pick that time and place?

TJ: I’m a serious history geek, and as much as I enjoy science fiction and fantasy, I love history even more. Anyone that loves a good story understands the biggest and juiciest stories happened in real life. So why not incorporate the things I love the most in my stories? My favorite period of U.S. History takes place from the Civil War to the early twentieth century. Five Points, New York, is one of the most intriguing places to me in that time.

JI: Your book also incorporates urban fantasy and medieval lore. Do you love those things, too?

TJ: The short answer is yes, but there’s more to it. I went back to college in my 40s and discovered early British Literature. Thanks to a couple of very fine instructors, I discovered resources that went into greater detail about that period, the myths, and the tension of a quickly growing Catholic church and the existing pagan beliefs. Those tensions show up in the early literature (stories) of that time. I’ve read modern authors that use the same trope, but they’re inappropriate for younger readers. After reading Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin and Jim Butcher’s Dresden series, I thought it was a shame that younger readers couldn’t have something fun along those same lines of urban fantasy.

JI: So you use the Paladin legend for your story. Why not King Arthur, or Templars, or Teutonic Knights?

TJ: I only use the legend as the basis, I don’t really use the original chivalric code because no one wrote it down in Charlemagne’s time. Historically, Charlemagne has the most evidence of the foundation of the concept of Chivalry and the Knightly Ideal. Again, the closest this got to being written is a story called The Song of Roland. Historically, chivalry is a French word from the 11th century, and it originally meant horsemanship. The church promoted chivalry as code because armed thugs rode around the country, killing people. The Catholic Church promoted the concept to try to bring peace and preserve human life. Chivalry, as we understand it, is technically a Christian ideal. So rather than use Templars, Teutons, or Arthur, I went back to the earliest of the European knights, Paladins.

JI: All that said, why even make it a part of The Final Paladin?

TJ: Originally, I wanted to start the series in ninth century Europe in Charlemagne’s empire with my character Godfrey, a Saxon whose village was swallowed up by Charlemagne’s conquests. I did my research, but I also wanted to enter the story in a contest offered by the American Christian Fiction Writers. Most of the judges are women and not speculative fiction fans. So in order to do better in the contest, I chose a female character and events that happened later in history.

JI: You wrote The Final Paladin to win a contest where the judges were predominantly female and probably non-speculative readers?

TJ: That’s essentially correct.

JI: Did your strategy pay off?

TJ: Yes and no, but what’s really cool is I got my fair share of male judges, and they scored my entry high. My manuscript made it to the final three, so it worked to a point.

JI: You didn’t win?

TJ: No.

JI: Well, we’re glad L2L2 picked it up! The story begins in Five Points, New York. But it doesn’t stay in New York City, does it?

TJ: That would be boring at this point, so the story goes to a place called Fairy, or the land of Fairies, elves, trolls, pixies, the White Stag, and everything else. I go back to all the legends and myths of western and central Europe, or at least the ones I could fit in.

JI: Is it a fairy tale retelling?

TJ: No, not exactly. I just mixed my mythologies: history and fairies. I also borrowed from the book of Revelation. There’s mention of a character named Apollyon, or in Hebrew, Abaddon, The Angel of Death. So I mixed in some Bible, knightly legends, and fairies and got a modern-day story in the tradition of Gawain and the Green Knight, or Beowulf.

JI: Is your novel written for adults?

TJ: I like to write for Young Adults and Middle Graders, but I’ve written for New Adults, too. I like those groups because you can still reclaim them as readers. I really write for speculative audiences. The one quality I love about speculative fiction readers is they’re reading for the story. You can make the protagonist eight, twenty, or ninety, and if the story is interesting, the reader won’t usually care.

JI: Are you planning on a whole series?

TJ: Yes. Michele Harper, my publisher wouldn’t have published me if I weren’t. I have in mind at least ten in the series, and that doesn’t even include the three or four prequels about Godfrey and how we even got to the 1870s with things in the state they are. All of that is going to depend on the novel’s popularity.

JI: Wow, that’s a big series!

TJ: Yeah, I have an overactive imagination.

JI: That’s a good thing for a writer to have. Do you write anything other than speculative fiction?

TJ: I have a contemporary YA novel that’s completed and edited. I nearly managed to get it published by Zondervan back in 2014. I also have ideas for historical fiction, too. There are four completed novel manuscripts on my computer: two are science fiction fantasy, a thriller, and a contemporary comedy. All that could easily be turned into a series. I have no shortage of stories tell.

JI: Is L2L2 interested in those?

TJ: Sure, but I have to run them by my publisher. They have to be good stories or she won’t publish them. I’m excited because my science fiction projects have male protagonists, and no one really publishes for boys anymore.

JI: Anything you want to add?

TJ: I’ve learned a lot since I started writing in 2004. Now I can go back to all the projects I’ve kept very shiny.

JI: Thanks so much, T.J., for joining us on the island!

Here’s a little more about The Final Paladin:

Life for Peg Bowman is rough in the infamous slums of Five Points, New York, but her brother’s murder changes everything.

Thrust into incredible worlds beyond any story she’s ever heard, Peg meets Sir Godfrey, an eleven-hundred-year-old knight from Charlemagne’s court, trainer of Paladins. He reveals to Peg her family’s ancient obligation to protect the Key of Apollyon, a relic of immense power. She is the last descendant of the Paladins and his only hope for keeping it safe.

When Godfrey confides her brother was murdered because of the Key, Peg rejects her calling and demands revenge, a luxury she can ill afford as otherworldly creatures seek her death to claim the Key’s power for themselves.

Can Godfrey and his faithful retinue—Chim the Hobgoblin, Rebecca the Jewish Maven and healer, and Jack the sometimes human and sometimes seven-foot Black Dog—keep her safe and convince her that her calling is worth pursuing? Or will she succumb to the Key’s lure and wield it for revenge?

And here’s a little more about T.J. :

T.J. Akers desires to be a multimillionaire when he grows up and give his wealth to his favorite causes: churches, schools, and animal shelters. Since the millions have been slow in coming, he’s settled for working as a computer technician for a state university and volunteering at his church and local animal shelter. Whenever possible, he indulges his love of writing stories to entertain people, especially younger readers.

Akers holds a Masters of English from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and can often be found roaming the university’s library, especially the children’s and young adult sections. Librarians have always been his heroes.

He lives with his beloved wife of thirty years, his dog, and two cats. The dog is an excellent writing companion, but the cats have proven to be rather critical. Learn more at www.tjakers.com

You can find him at the following social media sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tj.akers.35

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TJAkers1

Google+: https://plus.google.com/101156763458205540263

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/16679486-tj-akers

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/akers0778/boards/

Don’t forget to stop by the Facebook Party on November 16!

 

Six Crucial Steps for the Beginning Writer

At the doctor’s office recently, I met another writer. We shared the what-do-you-write pleasantries before she shook her head. “I’ve been doing this for three years. How long did your first novel take?”

I grinned. “You don’t want to know.” (It took five years. That doesn’t count the eight years previously spent on writing short pieces while raising children, or the five years before that penning novels in another genre.)

God willing, I have years left to share more stories. But the conversation reminded me of my frustrations when I started out. I eventually completed all six of the following steps, even though it took a long time. I’m a slow learner.

  1. Settle in for the long haul. This isn’t an easy profession. You have to love it, and you can’t expect instant success. The “overnight success authors” spent days, months, and sometimes years pounding away on their computer keyboards. Expect the same of yourself.
  2. Locate a tribe. Local writers’ groups exist everywhere. Find one you can join. If one doesn’t exist in your area, and you don’t want to drive, look for a group on-line. It will keep your sanity. There’s nothing quite like chatting with other authors who are facing the same struggles you are.
  3. Learn the craft. Invest time (and money, if possible) in this venture you’ve undertaken. Libraries have books on writing and sometimes hold author events or workshops. Bookstores do this, as well. Set up a Conference Fund to attend a writer’s workshop or conference, where you can take classes, learn from established writers, and meet publishers, agents, and editors.
  4. Remember you’re not a special snowflake. This isn’t a derogatory statement. Everyone has a story to tell and a unique voice. But that doesn’t mean you get a pass at everything else. You’ll have to pay your dues. You’ll have to keep your day job (at least for a while). You’ll have to learn to balance writing, family, your day job, personal health, spiritual health, and any messes that pop up. I’m still learning how to deal with the balance issue.
  5. Allow others to see your work. I know—it’s hard. But everyone starts somewhere. If the group you’re critiquing with seems a bit too harsh, take another objective look. Are you sensitive because this story is your baby? Learn to take critiques with a thick skin, grace, and open ears. If you have to explain a part of your manuscript, it’s not working. Keep your mouth closed and take notes. (Keeping my mouth closed has been an especially difficult lesson for me. Just sayin.’)
  6. If you don’t have a religion, you should find one. This is an optional rule, but I’ve found it necessary to often ask God for help. Since I’m still learning, I’ve found the prayer please help to be especially necessary and humbling. If you desire to do it all yourself, go ahead. But I prefer to have Someone bigger lead my writing career and support group.

Tuck these steps in your pocket, and you’ll be well-equipped for the fantastic writing journey awaiting you!

A Beautiful New Cover

As some of you may know, I love to participate in book cover reveals. There’s a new book called The Final Paladin being released on November 14 of this year and the cover…well, you guys, it’s awesome.  Before I show you the awesomeness, here’s a little more information.

THe Final Paladin

Life for Peg Bowman is rough in the infamous slums of Five Points, New York, but her brother’s murder changes everything.

Thrust into  incredible worlds beyond any story she’s ever heard, Peg meets Sir Godfrey, an eleven-hundred-year-old knight from Charlemagne’s court, trainer of Paladins. He reveals to Peg her family’s ancient obligation to protect the Key of Apollyon, a relic of immense power. She is the last descendant of the Paladins and his only hope for keeping it safe.

When Godfrey confides her brother was murdered because of the Key, Peg rejects her calling and demands revenge, a luxury she can ill afford as otherworldly creatures seek her death to claim the Key’s power for themselves.

Can Godfrey and his faithful retinue–Chim the Hobgoblin, Rebecca the Jewish Maven and healer, and Jack the sometimes human and sometimes seven-foot Black Dog–keep her safe and convince her that her calling is worth pursuing? Or will she succumb to the Key’s lure and wield it for revenge?

So without further ado, here’s the gorgeous cover!

So amazing! Looks like I have another book to add to my TBR pile *(furiously scribbles another title on her list)*

In case you want to know more, here’s a little more about the author, T.J. Akers.

T.J. Akers desires to be a multimillionaire when he grows up and give his wealth to his favorite causes: churches, schools, and animal shelters. Since the millions have been slow in coming, he’s settled for working as a computer technician for a state university and volunteering at his church and local animal shelter. Whenever possible, he indulges his love of writing stories to entertain people, especially younger readers.

Akers holds a Masters of English from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and can often be found roaming the university’s library, especially the children’s and young adult sections. Librarians have always been his heroes.

He lives with his beloved wife of thirty years, his dog, and his two cats. The dog is an excellent writing companion, but the cats have proven to be rather critical. Learn more at www.tjackers.com.