Guest post by Deanna Fugett … and a Scavenger Hunt

Hi! Today, on the Island we’re celebrating with my friend and fellow author, Deanna Fugett. Her YA dystopian debut novel, Ending Fear, releases on the 18th, and this is the fourth stop on her blog tour. I read the book, enjoyed it,  and then promptly endorsed it — it’s that good!

At the end of this blog post, I’ll have all the bookish information you need to grab a copy of your own. I’ll also list the other stops on her blog tour so you can learn more about Ending Fear. And lastly, you’ll have a chance to participate in a virtual scavenger hunt! Find one word per blog stop, which when put together, will make a sentence. One lucky participant who collects all 14 words will receive their own signed copy, as well as the Ending Fear coloring book. (Or an e-book for international participants).

After reading Ending Fear, I sent Deanna an email with a question. Why did you write it? She was nice enough to give me (and now you) an insight into the process.

Why I Wrote Ending Fear

Well, that’s a loaded question. Hmm…quite a few reasons actually. My first reason: I wanted to write a book since I was in 6th grade. Probably before that. I had a love for writing since I got published in a local newspaper at six years of age, so that probably sparked the flame of storytelling within me.

My 6th grade teacher Mrs. Olson had our whole class promise her that we would write a book someday. She never said we had to publish it, but I decided I would take it even further by pursuing publishing. Wasn’t going through all the hard work of writing an entire manuscript just to have it sit in a drawer and never seen by anyone.

A few years back I’d finally come to a place in my life where I felt comfortable with starting the writing process. My fingers had been itching for years, but I wanted to make sure my life was in order before I began this monumental task of novel crafting.

I had been inspired by watching the Hunger Games movie and reading the book. Something about it spoke to me. I didn’t even know what dystopian was at the time, but I knew I wanted to write a book in that realm of thinking. I had never heard of the word dystopian. You can imagine how difficult it was for me to figure out what genre I had actually written once I had finished my rough draft. I hadn’t paid much attention to genres before. I literally judged a book by its cover.

Every time I’d visit a library or a bookstore, if a cover or a back cover blurb sparked my interest, that’s what I’d borrow/buy. Didn’t matter the genre. I didn’t care about that at all. I guess, in a way, it helped me develop a more well-rounded view of writing.

Since I had been well read in multiple genres, I could easily incorporate all the good things from each one into my story, creating a unique perspective. It’s funny because I’ve experienced a tad bit of confusion over this just recently. I was asked by someone to turn in some romantic bits from my story, and they were all “wow, that’s some good romance there, but where’s all the sci-fi techy stuff?” And then when I show my sci-fi techy stuff to someone else they’re all “but where’s the romance?”

See, I have both in my books. But not always in the same parts. So it’s funny. And that’s why I love dystopian so much. You can incorporate the cutesy romance stuff along with the futuristic world building of Sci-Fi. It’s fun.

My main reason for writing Ending Fear was simply the fact that I wanted to write a Hunger Games type book but add more hope. I saw a lack of hope with that series. A lack of morals. A lack of… something more. Inner spiritual struggles, perhaps.

I wanted to create a futuristic world, add dynamic characters and excellent, fun dialogue and manage to infuse God in there somehow. Make it from a Christian worldview, but not make it preachy. I hope I succeeded with that. My betas and critique partners seem to think so. I’m hoping the rest of the world does, too.

Ending Fear came from a place of healing in my own life too. And although I don’t share the same struggles as my main character Fear, I still was able to find healing through writing the words down on the page. Connecting to her character and feeling her feelings.

I wrote this story for me.

I needed this story. I hope there’s people out there that do, too. People who can connect to it.

I wrote this story for you.

For the people who will be touched by the story. I hope it finds you, wherever you are. Helps you to feel something and maybe even come out the other side with something you may not have had before reading it. Maybe hope, peace, bravery? Whatever it is, I pray the story is powerful in your life, and I hope God uses it for His glory.

Thanks, Deanna, for giving us a peek into how Ending Fear came to be.  Below, is some more information on Ending Fear, as well as her blog tour dates — you won’t want to miss them. And don’t forget to participate in the scavenger hunt — the link is at the very bottom of he post!

Ending Fear: Book One of the Gliding Lands

Deanna Fugett

Release Date: July 18, 2017

Paperback: $15.99, eBook: $4.99 (Pre-order Price of $2.99)

Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing, LLC

Genre: YA Dystopian, 400 pages, ISBN: 978-1-943788-16-3


From The Back Cover:

Fourteen-year-old Fear learns she was a parachute baby, dumped over the edge of the Gliding Lands as an infant. Fascinated by the floating cities in the sky before, now she’s desperate for answers.

But a slave isn’t likely to get those answers.

When her abusive Downer family throws her from their hovel, Fear takes refuge with a family who shows her love for the first time. Surely they can’t be trusted. Years of abuse and molestation has taught her that. Then her brother discovers where she’s hiding and tries to kidnap her. Fear will never let him touch her again. Her new family conceals her at The Fallen, a ranch that hides parachute babies from the Uppers who discarded them. Just as she’s beginning to embrace yet another home, Fear’s new little sister, Happy, is kidnapped and taken to the Uppers’ temple harem. Fear must go against her namesake, find a working hoverpod, and journey to the dreaded Gliding Lands before the little girl’s innocence is ripped from her forever.

Can she save Happy in time?

And will she find answers to the burning question of why anyone would throw her away?


Deanna Fugett’s heart belongs to writing. Author of edgy YA Dystopian fiction with an underlying message of hope, this stay-at-home mom of four focuses on writing as much as humanly possible. She was published at the young age of six in a local newspaper and is excited to be published again. It only took twenty-six years. She enjoys the thrill of writing fiction that deals with intense topics and prays it will impact people for the better. Visit to learn more about her.

Social Media Links:







Purchase Link (L2L2 website):

Facebook Launch Party : Thursday, July 20, 2017, 7-9 PM MST

And don’t forget to check out the other blog stops!










Interview with Carrie Anne Noble … and a Giveaway!

Today on Jilligan’s Island, our guest of honor is Carrie Anne Noble, author of The Mermaid’s Sister and The Gold-Son. She’s graciously offered to give away a signed copy of The Gold-Son! But first I took the time to ask Carrie a few questions.

J: Welcome, Carrie! Summer is here, so what are you reading now?

C: I’m currently rereading The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. What can I say about this incredible book? It’s YA with dangerous mythical horses that surge out of the sea, a girl bent on saving her family home, a boy determined to win his beloved water-horse, a little romance, a heart-pounding climax, and lovely prose. Sigh.

J: I’ll confess I’ve never read that one, but I’ll have to pick it up from the library. I know The Mermaid’s Sister was well received (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Winner for Young Adult Fiction), but how long did you write before you became published?

C: Although I’ve always enjoyed writing, I didn’t start taking it seriously until about twelve years ago. I wrote my first complete (and completely horrible) novel in 2008. The Mermaid’s Sister (my fifth attempt at a novel) was published in 2015.

J: We’re glad that fifth attempt was published! So, what are your go-to writing resources that could help aspiring authors?

C: I highly recommend the Writing Excuses podcast, any of Jeff Gerke’s writing books (especially The First 50 Pages and Hack Your Reader’s Brain), and the YouTube video series of Brandon Sanderson’s university course on writing science fiction and fantasy. All of these resources teach valuable skills without boring you silly.

J: I agree, Jeff Gerke’s books are excellent! What’s your favorite part of writing?

C: I like the revising stage, when I have a completed story to shape and polish. I write rather sparsely in the first draft, so it’s fun to go back later and expand on sights, sounds, smells, and emotional experiences.

J: Does your writing space help in this regard? What does it look like?

C: I have a little, slant-ceilinged, upstairs office painted green and silvery-gray, decorated with mementos from childhood, a collection of hedgehogs (including a real live one I’m babysitting for an exchange student who’s in Europe), drawings done by my kids, and various things that inspire me. There are lots of Post-it notes and pens scattered about. My window looks out on a lovely maple tree and grassy fields, so I can stare at nature while I daydream and plot.

J: That sounds wonderful. Does writing energize you or exhaust you?

C: It energizes me in a way that makes my kids roll their eyes—because I get very loopy and silly when I’m deeply involved in a project. I try to behave in front of strangers, but I did have my son help me act out a fight scene in front of my other son’s new girlfriend once last fall. She wasn’t half as disturbed as he was.

J: That’s too funny! Do you do any other creative activities other than writing?

C: I enjoy baking and sewing. It doesn’t happen often, but I really love creating costumes (and wearing them!).

J: Ooh, I’d love to see pictures of some of your creations. I have a few questions about The Gold-Son. Where did you get the idea for this book?

C: One morning six years ago, I was gazing out the window and saw the bearded gentleman who strolls past my house daily with his walking stick and faithful dog. For some reason I thought to myself, What if he’s really a leprechaun looking for a place to bury his gold?  I let that question ferment in my imagination until autumn, when I wrote the first version of The Gold-Son as my National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) project.

J: What made you select this setting?

C:The leprechauns made me do it! They needed to be in Ireland at the beginning, since that’s their homeland. I chose the small town Pennsylvania setting for the second part of the story because it was fun to plop a leprechaun into my personal corner of the world.

J: Hmm, I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for leprechauns then. 🙂 What’s the theme of this story? Why did you choose it?

C: I usually don’t consciously choose themes ahead of writing the story, but in retrospect I’d say the major theme of The Gold-Son is “don’t let your circumstances dictate who you become and how you act, but instead choose to do what’s right and to be the very best version of yourself.”

J: That’s a great message to share with readers. Did you ever consider any other titles for this manuscript? Or was this your first choice?

C: Back in 2011, the original title was The Leprechaun’s Penny. Another version was called To Catch a Leprechaun. My last working title was Once A Leprechaun. In the end, my publisher chose The Gold-Son—which I really like. They wanted to avoid having “leprechaun” in the title because they didn’t want potential readers to expect a cheesy leprechaun tale (i.e. Lucky Charms guy frolicking about at rainbow’s end and giggling).

J: Good point! Finally, what’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned while writing this story?

C: The inestimable value of a good editor! Although Marianna Baer was previously my developmental editor for The Mermaid’s Sister, this experience was totally different. This time, she pushed me so much harder to be a better writer, rejecting every cliché and every bit of lazy storytelling she found. It was grueling  work ( I admit I shouted at the computer monitor on numerous occasions), but I came out on the other side feeling like I’d grown by leaps and bounds as a writer and as a person—all because she demanded more from me than I knew I could do. I’m grateful beyond description for all Marianna did for The Gold-Son and me.

J: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Carrie!

Below are Carrie’s social media sites, so drop by and say hi. Also, I have the beautiful cover of The Gold-Son. Don’t leave without signing up for the giveaway!

More about the Author:

In the wake of her thrilling past as a theater student, restaurant hostess, certified nurse aide, and newspaper reporter, Carrie Anne Noble has turned to writing novels and short stories. Her debut novel The Mermaid’s Sister won the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for Young Adult Fiction, and the 2016 Realm Award for Speculative Novel of the Year. Carrie lives in the mountains of Pennsylvania with her tolerant husband, charming children, two naughty cats, a not-so-bright dog, and some really-not-so-bright chickens. The chickens do not live in the house.

You can find her at the following places:








Enter the giveaway for a signed copy of The Gold-Son here!

Interview with Desiree Williams and Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have Desiree Williams with me. She’s on a blog tour for her new book Illusionary. I have all the important information below on how to get your hands on it. But I took some time to ask Desiree some questions about her life, her writing, and Illusionary.

J: Hi, Desiree! Welcome to Jilligan’s Island! I’m so glad to have the chance to chat with you. I’ve been wondering if you read or write every single day. Do you?

D: In a way, yes. I may not get to add words to my work-in-progress every day, but I’m writing and/or reading in some version each day. I love journaling, as well. It’s proven to be very relaxing for me and a way to release all the stress I tend to bottle up within myself.

J: It’s wonderful you’ve found a stress reliever. So are you a full-time author or do you balance writing with another job?

D: I’m a full-time juggling nut-case. LOL. I have multiple responsibilities in life. For example, I’m a: wife, mother, homeschooling teacher, multi-role church worker, business owner, etc. Lots of hats to wear and flailing duties with writing all woven in. I seem to make it work. =) Haven’t had anything crash on me yet.

J: It sounds like you stay very busy! Do you have a playlist or favorite songs/composer you listen to while writing?

D: I love listening to music BEFORE I write. With my A.D.D., I need silence during my writing sessions to make them the most productive. But I love listening to my book playlist to get my creative mind on the right track. That way I can visualize my characters and prepare my body for the magic that’s about to happen.

J: That’s a fantastic idea – I’ll have to try that. Speaking of visualizing, do you use any visual aids while you’re writing (i.e., maps, Pinterest, magazine pictures, etc.)?

D: Oh my goodness, Pinterest is a time stealing fiend! But I love it for storyboards. <3 I usually stop there and a few stock images sites when I’m building my storyboards for each project. I’ll add the images to character sketches and setting locations. The visuals make everything fun and pretty, and it also helps get the creative juices flowing.

J: You mentioned building storyboards, which leads me to my next question. Are you a Pantser or a Plotter?

D: By nature, I’m a Pantser, but I understand the importance of plotting. Therefore I strive to be a blend of both. I don’t want to shut down any creative possibilities, so I allow my mind its wandering. But plotting everything out first does make for more productive writing sessions because I know exactly where I’m going each time.

J: So while you’re doing all this creating, what does your writing space look like?

D: Uh…a disaster zone? 😉 Well, at least that’s what my desk looks like. I hate the admin duties of my business, so paperwork usually piles up for several weeks before I drag my pouting self to the filing cabinet and get to it. Thankfully, writing life is more of a mobile lifestyle, which means my writing space can be anywhere. Some days I write at my kitchen table, or on my nice comfy couch. And rarely at the library or Panera—my easily-distracted self tends to people-watch more than write.

J: Sometime people-watching is more fun! How do you select the names of your characters?

D: For most of my books, the character names are chosen based off of their meanings, which then is incorporated into their personality traits. However, I’ve found that’s not always the case. For example, in Illusionary, Kamryn was picked just because I liked the name. But Reese was inspired by the Reese’s Pieces candy I happened to be eating at the time of his character sketch. Sorry, Reese. Your name was inspired due to my love of candy. =P

J: The blurb for Illusionary is intriguing. Where did you get the idea for this book?

D: While doing laundry.

J: Really?

D: No kidding. Grumbling and stressing over life, I was stuffing clothes into the dryer, wondering over the possibility of the dryer eating me and taking me to another dimension. Escaping reality had been my goal at the time.

J: Well, we’re glad you turned the idea into a story! What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned while writing it?

D: Learning how closely I put myself into the story. One of the characters (Reese) has several inner demons that match my very own. Except it wasn’t until I was deep into revisions that I realized what I had done. But in a way, pouring out our pain into stories is what a writer does best. 😉

J: That’s very true. Now before you go, Desiree, if you’re comfortable doing so, can you give us one fun fact about yourself others might not know?

D: Sometimes for family functions, I’ll make desserts I know people don’t care for just to have the tasty treat all to myself. I feel no shame for it either. *cheeky grin*

J: I’ll have to try that at my next family get-together! Thanks so much for coming to Jilligan’s Island and sharing a little about you and Illusionary. Speaking of which, here’s all the information about it and the blog tour.

Illusionary Blog Tour Schedule

June 5th Launch Day – HOPE through the Pages

Spotlight – Rachel Lopez

Book Review – Jebraun Clifford – Dream. Write. Repeat.

June 6th Book Review – Indie Book Reviews

Spotlight – Christian Book News

Interview – Bookworm Mama

June 7th Book Review – Zernia Blossom’s Books

Book Review – Prismatic Prospects

Interview – Dolphin18cb

June 8th Book Review – Lands Uncharted

Book Review – Seasons of Humility

Interview – Liv K. Fisher

June 9th Book Review – She Hearts Fiction

Book Review – Chrissi Reads

Spotlight – Dreams of Faerytales

Guest Post – Jannette Fuller

June 10th Wrap-Up Post – HOPE through the Pages

About Illusionary:

Dorothy got sucked into a tornado.

Alice fell down a hole.

Wendy flew to Neverland.

Kamryn? She tripped down the stairs.

Now, Kamryn Kensington finds herself in a strange new world. Within minutes of her arrival, she dodges an archer’s arrow and avoids getting sliced up by a cosplay reject holding a dagger to her throat. And that’s before the storyteller’s breath brings stories to life.

Home is the mission—to return to her family and pursue her life’s dream of art and travel. Yet the longer she’s in the Land of Ur, the harder it is not to feel for the people she meets. Even her artistic side can’t help but breathe in the beautiful wonder and magic of this new world. So when the Oracle hands her a different quest, she takes it on the condition he sends her home afterward.

No one thought to warn her of a jealous queen and her dragon minions. Or that, by helping her, the cute storyteller would go crazy. Or that her heart would rip in two when she left. Those would’ve been great facts to know ahead of time.

Considering that nothing in Ur is what it seems, the mission proves to be more than she ever imagined. But more than her own future will be in jeopardy if Kamryn doesn’t succeed.

Purchase Links

About the Author

Desiree Williams is a dreamer by day and chocoholic by night. She lives in the beautiful state of Kentucky with her husband and daughter, where she juggles life as a wannabe supermom. Desiree is a lover of food and avoider of dirty dishes. She delights in making people laugh and strives to bring hope and love with her wherever she goes.

You can find out more about Desiree and her books at

Social Media Links

Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads / Newsletter



Desiree has graciously offered to give away the following prizes shown above: a “Make everyday an adventure” pillow, “Don’t Grow Up! It’s a Trap!” metal sign, book cozy, signed paperback of Illusionary, notebook with pens, sketch book with colored pencils, and a “Eat Cake for Breakfast” travel cup.




Coming Next Week…

Next week  will be busy here on Jilligan’s Island. I’m interviewing two awesome authors!

On Monday, I’ll be chatting with Desiree Williams about her new book Illusionary.  We’ll learn how she came up with the idea for the book and what her writing process looks like.




Then on Wednesday, I’ll be interviewing Carrie Ann Noble and we’ll talk about her new book The Gold-Son. Carrie also shares the idea that spawned this book and discusses her favorite part of writing .


Both of these authors are being super generous and offering giveaways, as well! So don’t forget to stop by and learn more about these talented writers.

Until we see you next week … enjoy your weekend!

Flare: Book 2 of the Firebrand Chronicles Progress Update

I just made progress on Flare: Book 2 of the Firebrand Chronicles! So far I’m 83% complete on the Writing phase. 4 Weeks remain until the deadline.
[mybookprogress progress=”0.8293466666666667″ phase_name=”Writing” deadline=”1498780800″ book=”1″ book_title=”Flare: Book 2 of the Firebrand Chronicles” bar_color=”be00cc” cover_image=”118″]

What I Learned While Writing Spark (and Spark teaser!)

When I began writing in 1995, I wrote Christian romance. While writing that first novel, I like to say I made all my mistakes. (Because I made so many, that story will never see the light of day). In each subsequent novel, I continued to learn new things and (hopefully) my writing improved. Spark was no different.

  • If you’re writing a series, seed your stories.

Spark is the first book of The Firebrand Chronicles. It’s about a female teen, Brenna, and the events that occur as she becomes an adult. Because it’s chronological and about one major character, I had to spend a lot of time outlining and thinking about where I wanted the other stories to go. And I had to make sure certain things happened in each book so that the next book would work. My editor was very, very kind. We were deep into edits when I sent her a desperate, yet apologetic email. “We have to change the name of this item. What I have won’t work.” She agreed and changed it. I’m thankful for her flexibility because the sequels would be a lot harder to write without the change. So even though I’m a pantser at heart, outlining the following books ahead of time was necessary.

  • Trademarks matter.

While I was writing, I threw in references to Pop-Tarts and Volkswagen vans. After all, they’re familiar items unless you’ve been living under a rock. But they’re trademarked, which means you need to be careful. After consulting with the Kellogg’s people, they nixed my Pop-Tart references (I still don’t think I’ve forgiven them). And the Volkswagen van reference was scrubbed and changed to “SUV.” We were thrilled when the C.S. Lewis Foundation okayed Lewis’s quote I used at the beginning of the story. I always knew he was a classy guy.

  • There’s no such thing as too much revision.

I haven’t counted how many total revisions Spark went through. But even now, after it’s done and printed, I still see things I’d change. (Part of that is my attractive, neurotic side.) Aside from the revisions I made before it I typed “THE END”, I revised it at least two times before giving it to my family, then again before giving it to my critique group, then revised it three more times before submitting it to a contest, then revised it again before submitting it to an agent. My agent showed me how he wanted it revised (which I did—twice), then my publisher showed me the revisions she wanted (and there were three rounds of those edits). So in all, I revised Spark at least ten times. Although I’m happy with it, it’s no surprise I’m ready to move on.

I’ve begun writing Book Two of The Firebrand Chronicles, titled Flare, and it picks up about eight months after Spark ends. I’m enjoying the process of creating and herding these characters in the direction they need to go. Please pick up a copy of Spark, then leave an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads or Barnes and Noble, telling everyone what you think.

Because the last thing I’ve learned? Authors (this one included) loves reviews!

And as promised here’s a teaser for Spark!


Isn’t it amazing? Thanks for watching!


Street Teams Uncovered

What exactly is a street team? Many people don’t know what they are or what they do. Street teams started back in the 90’s with urban record labels. Super-fans would pass out demo tapes and handouts to friends and talk up the bands, promoting by word-of-mouth. In return, the street team would receive items like concert tickets, backstage passes, limited edition merchandise, and groupie status.

The trend has now moved to include authors and their books.  The fans promote the author, thereby acquiring rewards and insider status, while the author attains access to a wider audience.

There are several steps to setting up a street team. After the author thinks of a catchy name for his/her street team, a Facebook page is usually set up as a central headquarters.  People can ask to join, and many times, the author will have the individual fill out a short application using an online tool (like Google Form). The author learns a little more about the person, guaranteeing they’re a good fit. As launch day draws closer, the street team is set into motion. What are some things street teams can do? They can:

  • hand out bookmarks to libraries, bookstores, and cafes/coffee shops
  • request the author’s books at their local libraries and bookstores
  • tell friends and relatives about the book
  • share an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or Barnes & Noble (one of the best ways to show love to your favorite author!)
  • create social media posts and/or tweets to share information

Now the next question may be, what do street teams member get? Pretty much whatever the author chooses. It’s only limited by imagination. For example, my street team (The Pyromaniacs) can receive:

  • the chance to participate in a special drawing; the grand prize is naming a character in my next book Flare
  • exclusive opportunities to complete missions and win prizes
  • insider information on my books and updates on the writing process and  current projects
  • the chance to win an autographed copy of Spark
  • a street team members-only short story written about the characters in Spark

Many authors swear by street teams and the community they provide. I’m a marketing newbie, still learning what works and what doesn’t. But I believe the ability to connect with readers is invaluable.

So if you’ve already joined The Pyromaniacs, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’re the reason I wrote this story. If you haven’t joined The Pyromaniacs yet, why not? I’d be thrilled to have you be a part of this journey.

Guest Post by Sarah Delena White, author of Halayda

Today at Jilligan’s Island, I’m thrilled to have Sarah Delena White joining me.  Sarah has recently released her fantastic debut novel, Haylada. More information on the book is below, along with its beautiful cover! But first, she shares what she discovered while working on the novel.



Halayda was a first for me in more ways than one. It’s not just my first published novel; it’s the first novel I successfully finished. Don’t get me wrong—I wrote quite a bit before that. I started ten other manuscripts in the space of twelve years, but ended up abandoning them for one reason or another. When I started Halayda, I wanted to see it through to the end. I read up on writing strategies and tried out a lot of different advice. Here are a few of the things I learning during the process.

It’s okay to prioritize writing.

For my entire adult life, I had pushed writing aside, labeling it a fun hobby at best and an utter waste of time as worst. I felt guilty whenever I prioritized writing, always wondering if I could put the time to better use. It took me a long time to realize how hypocritical this was. Stories have tremendous power—it’s not an exaggeration to say that some of them have redefined how I see the world. It’s easy to value other people’s stories—or any kind of art—more than we value our own, but this isn’t doing anyone a favor. I decided to set aside chunks of time and make sure I made progress each day, no matter how impractical it seemed.

Find what works for you, even if it’s weird.

Each writer is wired differently. It’s easy to fall down the black hole of writing advice and end up doing things that worked for someone else but don’t benefit you. For example, I tried to be a “plotter,” writing thorough outlines and planning every detail in advance. This works great for many people, but for me, it killed the story every time. Despite being a natural planner, I decided to approach Halayda differently. I made sure I had a story structure and kept the characterization consistent, and then let everything else unfold in the moment. Each scene held new surprises, which meant I never got bored with the story. Then I broke one of the cardinal rules of first drafts by showing each scene to a critique partner as soon as I wrote it. Getting someone else’s reactions early on was helpful in making sure I was on the good track with the story. In other words, there’s no right or wrong system for writing a book!

You’ll never have the process completely under control, and that’s okay.

This was the hardest part of writing Halayda! I wrote a clean first draft and anticipated a straightforward editing process. My characters had other ideas. I ended up working a major character into the story after the first draft was complete, making some big changes to the world-building, and shifting my main characters’ arcs in order to set up the rest of the trilogy more effectively. It was a long process, and incredibly frustrating at times, but In the end it made for a much stronger book. I had to let go of a lot of preconceived ideas and let the book be what it wanted to be, even when it meant putting in a lot of extra time and effort. Like anything in life, there’s nothing predictable about writing. It’s a journey that will test you at every turn, but it’s ultimately worth it.

Thanks so much, Sarah, for sharing with us what you learned during the writing process. For those of you wondering what Halayda is about, read on!

A mortal alchemist. A faerie king. A bond that transcends death.

Betrayed by a trusted mentor, Sylvie Imanthiya hides on the fringes of society, caring for half-fae orphans and trading her alchemical creations on the black market. She lives for the one night each season when she can see her dearest friend—a man whose destiny is far above hers.

King Taylan Ashkalabek knows better than to exchange halayda vows with a mortal. Even their friendship is a risk; love is an impossible dream. Then a brutal alchemical attack poisons his realm, unearthing a dark power within him—and leaving Sylvie with the ancient mark of Faerie’s savior.

Manifesting unpredictable abilities and aided by allies with their own secrets, Sylvie and Taylan journey into the wilds of Faerie to heal the damage and confront Casimir, an invincible star-fae determined to claim the realm as his own. But only their enemy knows Sylvie’s true capabilities—and Taylan’s weaknesses—and how to use them in his vicious schemes.

Her fate is life. His fate is death. With Faerie in the balance, Sylvie and Taylan must stand together before reality as they know it is destroyed.

Review/buy links:
Author bio:
Sarah Delena White was raised by wolves in an alternate dimension. She writes eclectic speculative fiction that reworks mythology with a fine balance of poetry and snark. She’s an experienced world traveler who loves to weave world folklore and ancient concepts into vibrant, original story worlds. She is also the Benevolent Firebird (acquisitions editor) for Uncommon Universes Press. When she’s not writing or editing, she can be found making jewelry, singing Irish ballads, drinking tea, and working a variety of odd jobs. She can be bribed with dark chocolate. 
You can find Sarah here:


5 Things You Must Do After Typing “The End”


You’ve finished the book. Day after day, month after month, (perhaps even year after year), you’ve slogged away at this manuscript. You’ve poured your heart and soul onto the pages. And now it’s finished right? Well, kinda. Here are five things you must do after typing “The End.”


  • Celebrate. Really. Did you know 97% of writers never finish their book? So you’re part of the 3% that completed yours. Congratulations! Go do whatever you do to celebrate: go out to dinner, go dancing, eat some prime chocolate, have a glass of wine, take a nap, whatever. But do celebrate because this is no small accomplishment.


  • Avoid the manuscript like the plague. Don’t look at it for a month. Six weeks would be better. Go on vacation. Take up a new hobby or revisit an old one. Let your brain have a break from it for awhile. Then come back to it with fresh eyes.


  • Revise. And revise. And revise. Oh, and revise some more. In regards to revision, more is better. One go-through isn’t enough to make the manuscript submission-ready (unless your John Grisham or James Patterson–and I’d bet they revise, too). You’ll need to go through it several times, removing unnecessary  words, strengthening sentences, plugging plot holes, adding description, and whatever else your manuscript needs.


  • Get feedback (but not from your parents, siblings, or other family relatives. Do not expect honest feedback from anybody who really loves you.) Maybe a stranger in Walmart would be a good choice. Just kidding–sort of. When you want to hear nice things, give it to a family member. If you want the honest truth, give it to someone who’s not related and doesn’t care about damaging your fragile ego. You might not agree with all of their comments, and that’s okay. It is, after all, your story. But the feedback’s another point of view, and you can make the choice to change the story or not. An important side note: if several beta readers (also known as unprofessional readers) say the same thing, take a good, hard look at the story. They see something you don’t.


  • Hire an editor. This is absolutely necessary if you’re going to self-publish. If not, it’d still be a beneficial move. It could be the difference between agent or no-agent. Or contract and no contract.  Listen to their ideas. (These professionals are amazing. In my current novel, my editor suggested action beats to flesh out a scene, flagged misplaced modifiers, and highlighted the actions that didn’t make sense. Spark is better for it–thanks, Michele!) There are a few manuscripts moldering in my filing cabinet. If I ever dust them off someday, they’ll desperately need an editor. Even though I love these cool stories, they need to be overhauled by a professional.

So, even if you’ve typed “The End,” it’s really not. But you’re in the home stretch, so don’t give up. Take some time to do the above five steps. And afterwards? Publish it independently. Send it to an agent. Or submit it to a publishing house. Because the world needs to read the story only you can tell.


Spark Cover Reveal: A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

Isn’t the cover for Spark gorgeous? I feel like a proud mother.  Sara Helwe Digital Arts is responsible for all this awesomeness! Click on the link above to check out her work. I’d like to give her a big “thank you” for capturing Brenna and Linneah so well. Oh, speaking of which….


Hey guys, how’s it going? I’m Brenna James. J.M. Hackman’s being super-cool and letting me hijack her blog post for a minute. Spark is my story, which believe it or not, actually happened in the alternity (alternate reality) of Linneah. Yes, alternities exist! And portals. Look for them around running water. You know, like reservoirs, natural springs, fountains, that kind of thing.

Yesterday after school, I stopped by J.M. Hackman’s house and she showed me the cover of Spark—coolness! I’m planning to snag a copy to show my griffin Arvandus and my boyfriend Baldwin—both of them are in the book. J. (that’s J.M., even though she hates it when I call her that) and I worked on this story for a long time. Even though it was a team effort, I had the easy part. You know, talk a lot and then go home. Of course, I’ve had a lot going on with school and studying. Which reminds me, I’ve got a history paper due tomorrow. So before I sign off, let me remind you: don’t forget to pick up a copy of Spark. Trust me—you won’t be bored!


I’m back. Brenna, Baldwin, and Arvandus are just a few of the characters in Spark. I had a blast telling their story. The back cover blurb is below.  Oh, and I’m working on Brenna’s next story, titled Flare. Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled—Brenna might stop by again, or maybe even Baldwin, if either of them can carve time out of their busy schedule.


Spark: The Firebrand Chronicles, Book One
J.M. Hackman
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Paperback: $14.99, eBook: $4.99 (Pre-order Price: $2.99)
Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing, LLC
Genre: YA Fantasy, 330 pages, ISBN: 978-1-943788-14-9

Back Cover:

Brenna James wants three things for her sixteenth birthday: to find her history notes before the test, to have her mother return from her business trip, and to stop creating fire with her bare hands. Yeah, that’s so not happening. Unfortunately.
When Brenna learns her mother is missing in an alternate reality called Linneah, she
travels through a portal to find her. Against her will. Who knew portals even existed? But Brenna’s arrival in Linneah begins the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, including a royal murder and the theft of Linneah’s most powerful relic: the Sacred Veil. Hold up. Can everything just slow down for a sec?
Unwilling yet left with no other choice, Brenna and her new friend Baldwin (Um, hello,
Hottie!) pursue the thief into the dangerous woods of Silvastamen and beyond. Exactly what Brenna wanted to do for her sixteenth birthday. Exactly. When they spy an army marching toward Linneah, Brenna is horrified. Can she find the veil, save her mother, and warn Linneah in time? And more importantly, why on earth doesn’t this alternity have Belgian waffles?