Write because you love it. Because to stop is not an option. Keep writing because even if you never make a dime off your work, the journey was well worth the effort.

Five Reasons Why: Ending My Co-Dependency on Writing

Throughout my tenure as a novelist, I’ve often described my love affair with writing as co-dependent.

With the exception that as an author I committed my unconditional love and devotion to a craft and not a person, the decision to become a novelist often felt like I’d unwittingly entered into a dysfunctional relationship. A love affair with creativity that swung from the extreme highs of an encompassing sense of wellbeing, to lows that often felt quite pointed and, for lack of a better word, abusive. The confusion of it all consistently left me feeling as though indulging in my passion kept me trapped on a never-ending roller coaster of warring emotions.

At various points along the way I would exclaim that I was tired of it all and would never write another novel! Only under all that disillusionment, whisperings of the excitement accompanying the development of a story would grow to a deafening roar, and a false hope of sorts would settle in. Then I’d start to believe that things would be different—better somehow—the next time around.

Ultimately, and as if I didn’t have a say in the matter, the drafting process would begin again.

Needless to say, the extreme highs and lows that accompany an addiction to writing can be rather emotionally and physically, not to mention financially, taxing.

For this reason and those listed below, I have decided it’s time to put an end to this unhealthy cycle of elation-to-misery and move on to a life’s pursuit that will theoretically provide me   more emotional and financial stability. But in order to close this metaphoric chapter on my life, I feel the need to complete one last writing project, one that spells out the how and why I came to this most difficult and heartrending decision.

In this final group of five blog installments you’ll find a compilation of my opinions and experiences. The opinions and experiences of other authors may, and likely will, differ considerably. For argument’s sake, let’s stipulate that all authors travel unique and independent journeys.

This is mine.

Reason Number One: I didn’t manage my career correctly.

Mistake One: Neglecting to heed advice.

When I first began writing, I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that the story I had written was the most amazing creation I’d ever endeavored. I had it professionally edited, submitted it to contests, and solicited poor unassuming family and friends to read it. I revised it dozens and dozens of times. Though in my mind there was no way my novel could be anything short of sheer brilliance, after twenty or so rejections from agents and publishers, I decided to take a break and start working on a second novel. All the while, I never gave up on seeing the first published.

Along the way I continually received and then promptly ignored the same advice.


“Why shouldn’t I?” I would ask, then silently add, when it is such an awe-inspiring work of art?


When the second novel was completed and edited, I was able to find a publisher who accepted it. And then, because the first was a prequel to the second, this publisher went ahead and agreed to publish book one as well.

Ah-hah! I had proven everyone wrong. There WAS nothing wrong with publishing your first novel!

Or was there?

Looking back, I’m more than mortified by the discombobulated mess running rampant between the covers of that first novel. Years later, and with five full-length novels under my belt, it’s unfathomable—even to me—to consider that the same person who wrote the fifth also wrote that first abomination. That’s how much I can see I’ve improved. It horrifies me to this day that anyone—and I mean anyone at all—may have read my initial work and vowed never to pick up another of my “crappy” books.

(Don’t read these!)

And what’s worse, the second wasn’t much better.

If I could do it all again, I would take the advice of more seasoned authors and then some. I would put the first two novels on the shelf. Then after getting a few more books under my proverbial belt, go back and take another look at them with new, more experienced eyes.

In the end, I suppose I was lucky. My contract on the first two was only for three years. Once I received my rights back, I was able to rewrite the stories, make them more presentable, and publish them myself. Yet still, the first editions are out there, and the fact that I can’t round them all up and have them destroyed is an unfortunate reality I will forever have to live with.

(Read these!)

Career Mistake Two: Switching genres.

At first I didn’t know exactly what genre I wanted to focus on. I loved women’s fiction, romantic comedy, and romantic suspense, among others. So I did what any indecisive person does: I wrote one of each. My romantic comedy ended up as a Whitney Award Finalist, prompting an author friend of mine to advise me against switching genres again. She said I should stay with rom/com and build a fan base before branching out.

Of course I didn’t listen and went on to write another novel that was sort of a paranormal suspense, which did exactly what my friend had warned me it would—alienated many of the fans I’d gained with my rom/com. Then I wrote another women’s fiction and disaffected any fans I’d gained with the paranormal suspense.

In my defense, and as a budding author brimming with “brilliant” plot ideas, how was I expected to tap down my enthusiasm to experiment with EVERY genre? After all, patience had never been a virtue to which I’d excelled. But take it from someone who does possess a keen sense of hindsight: I can see now that I should have stuck with the genre (rom/com) that worked best for me and built a strong base of fans before exploring others.

That decision alone would have made the world of difference.

Career Mistake Three: Changing publishers.

With the exception of the first two, I switched publishers with each additional novel. Changing publishers means a change in cover design and editing and thus over-all style, which leads to a change in audience, which more or less equates to my starting from square one—five times over.

No wonder my book sales never gained much traction.

Career Mistake Four: Undervaluing my potential

Chronically terrified of failure, I never really aimed all that high.

Instead, I consistently told myself that I was happy publishing with small presses. Why? Because it didn’t matter if I ever made it big; what mattered was telling my stories—something I honestly continue to believe is true. Only what would have happened if I’d actually sat down and asked myself what I wanted from my writing career? Set some goals? Really thought about what I needed in order to keep going? Seriously pondered on my potential?

Put more effort into mustering a little of that patience?

From the very beginning I should have decided what I wanted, and then followed that dream—full-steam ahead, no-holds-bar, take-no-prisoners, and any other adage that denotes unfettered tenacity. Unfortunately, I did none of the above, and thus must accept the consequences.

Having said all this, I’m not one to shoulder mountains of regret. Life marches forward and in order to live that life to the fullest, I work hard to stay in the present.

My hope in listing these regrets is twofold. First, I wish to help other authors sidestep these possible pitfalls. Second, I feel that in order to truly shake these sarsens of regret from my back, I must voice them before I can knock them off forever and move on.

Reason Number Two: Character Development 

For me, developing characters was the most fun! (Second only to plotting, which was also super fun!) Deciding who each character will be and where these fictitious individuals came from, what made them who they are, and how the characters will play off one another, then watching them grow and change along the way was the best part of the conception and writing process.

And the more flawed the character, the better. The more a character could change and grow, the more interesting the story was to write.

However, the average reader doesn’t like truly, realistically flawed characters, or so I found out. If an author deigns to make her or his characters a bit too real or flawed then editors, readers, and critics alike will hate said characters, and by extension the story. Consequently, in order to compete in the market, I was constantly attempting to tap down the personal obstacles my characters had to hurtle. Except no matter how hard I tried to tow that line of acceptability, it never seemed to be enough. No matter how much I softened my characters’ flaws, I got complaints.

But writing only marginally dysfunctional characters was . . . well, a real yawn-fest. I didn’t want to write stories about folks who merely had plot-driven obstacles to overcome. I wanted to create and write about people with actual faults, individuals who not only had their circumstances to overcome but themselves as well.

As a social worker and therapist, I’ve learned that there is darkness and dysfunction lurking inside of every person occupying this planet. Real live people are very unpredictable, each individual a walking contradiction—a hypocrite if you will—when the occasion suits them. To deny this assertion is the same as denying the essence of humanity itself. We are ALL flawed, deeply and at times disturbingly so. Does this bother me? Not in the least. I love flawed individuals. The internally challenged are often the most interesting and noteworthy people and the most fun to write about.

I guess what readers want is a fantasy, an escape from the reality of their own malicious imperfections. To believe that it is possible to spend a lifetime fighting only benevolent demons. Or maybe they are so determined to deny the dysfunction festering inside them that they refuse to tolerate the existence of those imperfections in others? Maybe they are so deep in denial that they believe people who struggle with tangible flaws bring those struggles upon themselves, that they must be weak or even sinful and that level of inadequacy is not to be tolerated, even when it comes to book characters who are not even real?

Regardless of the psychology behind it, when all was said and done, I was unable, or more likely unwilling, to write those watered-down, fairytale-esque, uninspired characters, the likes of which one can find in most every other mainstream fiction novel. And because of this, writing just seemed to become more and more frustrating and less and less fun.

Reason Number Three: The Book Market is Saturated

First: Read my book!

Once a novel is published, this is the plea that all authors must shout from the online rooftops. And all while literally hundreds of thousands of other authors are doing the same. So how is one to be heard above all the rest? Good question. Blog tours, Facebook ads, Twitter posts, book signings, Amazon promotions, and the list go on, and on, and on . . . But do hours and hours of online promotion, plus presenting along an endless stream of writing conferences, and/or sitting at bookstore signing tables really work? For some, yes, it can, at least a little better than for others like me.

Regardless of the promotional successes or failures, a constant for the vast majority of modern authors is the significant time and monetary costs incurred as a result of pursuing their passion. With the exception of the top maybe 5% of novelists, gone are the days of publisher-sponsored book tours and signings. These days, even New York Times Best Selling authors have to set-up and pay for most of their own promotions.

And the book signings are the very worst. Sitting at a bookstore table while patrons walk right past, pretending not see you is absolute agony. On the flip side, for someone like me, even having an event where lots of adoring fans turn out to show support, is equally as uncomfortable. For the introvert, this part of writing is a catch-22. The introvert in me shrinks from the attention while the author in me shrieks for the masses take notice. Signings were an excruciating two-hearts-one-body experience, a self-imposed agony I plan never to inflict upon myself again.

(I discuss my struggles with social media promotions in Reason Four)

Needless to say, the promo part of getting published was always the most painful part for me. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it was more disheartening and torturous than receiving that gut-wrenching rejection letter/email or even the scathing, brutally honest, admittedly valid, one-star review.

Second: Self-publishing or Self-sabotaging

In MY opinion, the ease and prevalence of self-publishing plus the Kindle Unlimited program may well bankrupt the traditional fiction book market while degrading the profession as a whole.

Here’s why:

First, put together the large majority of Americans who report dreams of becoming a published author to the ease of computer word processing and what you get is a whole lot of publishers and agents who are overwhelmed by the sheer number of submissions they receive daily. The result is an ever increasingly improbability of getting a manuscript noticed, much less traditionally published. And what’s worse, the traditional market has become so saturated that many authors are waiting up to two years to see their contracted manuscripts become a published work.

Then Amazon Prime and its Kindle Unlimited program (which allows Prime readers access to books for “free” and pays royalties based on pages read, not units sold) has resulted in a sharp drop in ebook and pbook sales, profits on which the traditional market relies to remain afloat. Additionally, in order for an author or publisher to enroll a book in the KU program, Amazon requires the book be listed exclusively on its site. The result: authors and publishers who chose not to limit their book listings to Amazon are feebly grabbing for what dwindling profits and royalties not already sucked into the KU vortex.

Enter Amazon KDP who has made it incredibly simple for literally anyone to become an “author.” Put together 60,000+ words, slap even a half-baked cover on it, find approximately two-dozen (or a hundred) generous friends who are willing to pen a favorable review, and BAM! instant author.

Aspiring authors no longer have to wait for an agent or publisher to take notice of their work. With a few swift clicks of a mouse she or he can take fate by the reigns and publish themselves. The worst part is that KDP doesn’t require authors to have the content edited properly, nor do they care if the writing possess any amount of literary value, or whether the plot follows a basic story-telling structure, or that it even makes sense. Therefore, the privilege of claiming the title of Author is slowly losing its prestige.

(Not to say that there aren’t many legitimate self-published authors out there. In fact, there are, many of whom have risen to the ranks of the New York Times Best Seller list. As stated above, I, myself have even self-published.)

Add all of the above together and what you get is a fiction book market that is drowning in a pool filled to the brim with an over abundance of choices that are steadily rising and no foreseeable strategy for ebbing the flow. It’s a simple matter of supply and demand. Because of KDP there just are not enough readers out there for the number of books flooding the fiction market. Every. Single. Day. And with that constant influx of new books comes a thinner and thinner disbursement of KU royalties to struggling authors and publishers, making it harder and harder to turn a profit in the fiction book market.

Small presses and literary agencies are feeling the biggest pinch of KU and KDP. After decades of prosperity, many have decided to close their doors. Those that continue to thrive have become SO selective that they  won’t take a chance on a manuscript unless they can deem it a “sure thing.”

Given the current state of the market and the backlog clogging the works of traditional publishers, authors have to sprint to keep up, continuously publishing any way they can in order to remain relevant. Therefore, hybrid authors (traditionally published who also self-pub) and solely self-published authors alike are sabotaging themselves and the market as a whole with excessive self-publishing.

And this over abundance of reading options has created a snowball effect of sorts.

Snowball Cycle: Release a novel: sales spike: thousands of other novels hit the market: the work quickly becomes irreverent: the author rushes to publish again: sales spike: thousands more books join the fray: infinity . . .

Publishing in this modern age has become the most vicious treadmill ever conceived.

That’s not to say that authors who publish and self-publish in niche markets aren’t able to do well—some in fact are doing quite well—but those publishers and authors who aren’t so lucky are feeling the financial strains brought on by the ubiquity and simplicity of self-publishing.

I’m getting out of the writing-rat-race but to those of you who are staying in, I would caution against maintaining the status quo for much longer. To preserve the integrity of the fiction writing profession, I would suggest pressuring Amazon to impose a few regulations on self-publishing. Limiting the number of titles a single author (including all pen-names and genres) can self-pub in a year and requiring proof of professional content and line edits are two good places to start.

Reason Number Four: Social Media

I don’t mean to hate on SM. I really do enjoy keeping track of the folks I’m not able to see on a regular bases. But with time I’ve discovered that I’m more of an observer than a participator.

Here’s why:

Disregarding the contrived realities that often cause one’s online friends to feel envious of these falsities, often resulting in depression, plus the nastiness that thunders up and down news feeds everywhere, generally speaking, I’m not a fan of social media. It’s not that I don’t ever have “clever” or compelling thoughts to Tweet, or funny pictures or videos to post, it’s just that I don’t want to spend my time doing so.

Why would I waste my precious life hours cultivating a cyber world when the real world is all around me? Birds and flowers and sunshine, all things I can see, touch, and feel, not to mention the real live people who occupy my space. Call me old-fashioned, but other than while reading a book or watching a flick, this is where I want to spend my time, where I can physically feel and connect with the environment around me.

For promotional reasons, I can see posting reviews or special prices. But for an author to be successful in this modern cyber-age, creating and then maintaining a constant and compelling online persona is an absolute must. In order to sell books, an author has to be willing and able to not only navigate all social media platforms but also to commit a significant amount of time promoting themselves to folks who the author will likely never meet face to face.

The disconnectedness of it all bothers me, and I was never able to gain the comfort with social media necessary to rocket my work to any level of measurable success.

Actively engaging on SM just isn’t something I enjoyed and likely never will.

 Reason Number Five: Hard Work With Little Reward

As previously stated, I’m an introvert. With introvertedness also comes many personality traits that extroverts don’t have the privilege of hassling with. The least of which makes for a more intuitive writer while the compulsion to overthink literally every detail results in a longer, more laborious creative process. In other words, it takes an introvert more than twice the time to create a story than it does the extrovert.

Does this mean that introverts are better, more comprehensive writers? Not necessarily. I think whether a reader enjoys a story or not depends more on individual tastes and preferences than anything else.

What being an introvert means for a writer (at least for me) is that it takes a painstakingly long time to write . . . pretty much anything at all. Not one single sentence I have ever written has only been typed once, or even five times. I write, revise, rethink, rewrite, revise, rethink even the most basic of sentences. Then I walk away, and an even more inspired way to state what I’ve just worked hours on will come to me, and I’ll start the process all over again.

It’s almost inconceivable, the ridiculous amount of time I’ve spent working and perfecting each and every novel I’ve written. And it would be one thing if all that creative energy had resulted in stories that readers loved and cherished and told all their friends and family they must run out and purchase.

But alas, it did not.

For the most part, my overall reviews are not horrible, but as stated above, I’m sad to say that none of my books have ever gained any real or even slight notoriety. I have spent years of my life working on books incapable of creating even the mere beginnings of a tiny ripple in the ever-expanding pond of fiction.

Long demoralized sigh . . .

Honestly, if I added up all my royalties, then subtracted the money spent on promotions and then the time consumed at the computer promoting, not to mention writing, I’m running a deficit comparable to that of our nation’s government. No exaggeration.

For years I told myself that writing wasn’t about the money. That I didn’t care about all the nasty reviews because the good outweighed the bad. That I kept writing because I enjoyed it—and honestly for the majority of my tenure as an author I did immensely love what I was doing. But there comes a time when one must consider the sunk cost of doing what they love and seriously determine whether or not their time might be better spent elsewhere.

And time and financial considerations are not the only costs ensued by writers. The interpersonal costs are high as well. Living one’s life half in the real world and half in a fictitious world takes its toll on relationships. Husbands, children, friends, and extended family, along with everyday responsibilities, are often thrown to the backseat and told to keep quiet in order for the author to focus solely on the world of her or his own making. Often times I experienced actual physical pain when my focus was unexpectedly interrupted and forced from my work. Even when I wasn’t at the computer I was writing in my head, at least half of my consciousness exploring my current plot line at all times. Thus, all too often I felt resentful of not only my family but pretty much any obligation that took me out of the world I was devising.

An author doesn’t only need to possess skill, experience, and creativity. Oh, no, that’s only a small part of writing a novel. What makes a person a true author is her or his commitment and willingness to sacrifice whatever necessary to get the job done.






Sadly, I fear that I missed some important moments with my children and husband and neglected friends I could have better connected with.

All abandoned in a past I will never get back, and for a reward that never came.


After much soul searching along with taking a year to consider what I wanted from life, I have concluded that the emotional, fiscal, and interpersonal price of continuing as an author is too high. I have a master’s degree and live in a whole big world of actual living, breathing people in need of help, leaps and bounds above needing another novel from me, one the majority of them will likely never hear about, much less read.

Am I sad about leaving authordom behind? At first, yes, the thought was beyond heartbreaking. But now that I’ve taken a genuine step back, considered all the pros and cons, I feel confident in my decision. Plus, whenever I see other authors on social media peddling their wares and think, thank The Lord that’s not me, along with an overwhelming sense of relief, I have no lingering doubts about my decision.

It’s truly time to move on.

Writing has been a fun, awe-inspiring rollercoaster of co-dependency that has left me both elated and in tears, and at times fraught with regrets. Yet I continue to feel blessed to have experienced every moment.

But it’s time to seriously consider the sunk cost sustained while writing, turn the page on my life’s pursuits, and begin a whole new chapter.

And when all is said and done, I have five novels, one novella, and an award that I am immensely proud of.

Six arguably beautiful and inspired works that will outlive me, whether anyone condescends to read them again or not.

And so as Tigger profoundly exclaimed: “Ta-ta for now!” and most likely forever.

While I won’t commit to never again. 😉

Book Review: “All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

My Rating: 4-Stars

 As a Reader:

For me, this novel was smart, clever, and poignant.

Smart: Reading this book was like hanging out with that quick-witted friend you go out of your way to socialize with because doing so makes you feel more intelligent     by association. And if I’m being totally honest, maybe even a little bit jealous of said person as well.

Clever: All right, can I just say that Finch is, hands down, one of my most favorite book characters EVER. His thoughts and speech are both quirky and oh so clever. I  found myself giggling and re-reading and even quoting him out loud to my poor, indulgent daughters. Yes, he is a tragic character, but I think we can all learn from the part of him that was able to accept himself for who he really was no matter the social consequences. He was authentic and raw. He was someone we’ve all known and possibly avoided.

 Disclaimer: Spoilers lie (or is it lay?) ahead.

Poignant: Many parts of this story were so heartrending that I felt a physical prick in my chest as I read. Violet’s survivor’s guilt and subsequent fear of cars, and living in general, was painful to read. Even still, I appreciated the way the author paralleled her slow ascent from despair to Finch’s decent into darkness, and how each was able to help the other transition to where they each needed to go. Of course, I wished for Finch to find a way out of the darkness, but in the end he made his choice; and I try not to judge book characters too harshly.

As a Writer:

Even though a novel is a work of fiction, the content shouldn’t suspend the reader’s imagination. In other words, everything that happens within the pages of a novel should be believable to the reader in the real world. There were many places in this book where as an adult I thought: That’s a stretch. For example: Finch decides to paint his red bedroom walls blue so he buys thirteen cans of paint. THIRTEEN! A couple of weeks ago I bought a gallon of touch-up paint. It cost me forty-one dollars. $41×13=$533. What seventeen year-old has that kind of cash lying around to blow on paint?

Disclaimer: The following is strictly my opinion.

Removing a key character too soon may cause readers to lose interest. The final chapters of this book reminded me of The Fault in Our Stars and I found myself equally frustrated, and thus skimming to the end. Sure, sometimes a main character dies or leaves, forcing the remaining character to pick up the broken pieces of that absence and rebuild a new normal. And I get that this process is all a part of the remaining character’s journey to growth and/or healing. But when two main characters have been closely tied to one other throughout the story—as in not loosely connected while traveling individual paths with alternate plots of their own—removing one too early leaves a big ‘ol hole in what remains of the novel.

I think I would have stayed more engrossed in Violet’s healing process had the author either summed up her grieving more quickly. Or, if the author had shown Violet following Finch’s final days through the clues he dropped in more of a one-step-behind manner, this would have allowed her to slowly heal while keeping him in the story until nearer the end. Thus eliminating the void his disappearance opened.

Final thoughts: All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone who is either a young adult or an adult who enjoys the occasional YA read. Up until the final chapters, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I spent reading.

Facelift Number Two is Now Available on Amazon!

I finally completed my rewrite of the Holly book and it’s FINALLY for sale on Amazon!

The story about how fate will carry us where we need to go whether we are willing passengers or not.

A year and a half after being jilted not once, but twice by the only woman he’s ever truly loved, Brian McAlister has all but given up on relationships. Then, on special assignment for the DA’s office, he steps into the middle of a politically sensitive murder case where he crosses paths with a beautiful ex-socialite-turned-social-worker, Holly Cavanaugh Winter.

Widowed, practically penniless, and reduced to shopping at Walmart, Holly is dreading the approaching holiday season. However, her angst isn’t due to her husband’s untimely death the previous December 25th, but to a secret that could reveal itself unless she can find a way to avoid the coming Christmas. To make matters worse, she unwittingly stumbles into the throes of Brian’s case and the manhunt for a killer who now has his sights set on her.

His case unraveling, Brian finds himself tasked with keeping Holly and her two daughters safe while bringing an assassin and the powerful man who hired him to justice.


Publishers Weekly Reviewed With No Regrets

I’m SO excited to announce that BookLife by Publishers Weekly reviewed With No Regrets! Here’s what they had to say:

With No Regrets 500Listing heavily toward the women’s fiction side of the romance genre, Ford deftly portrays 40-year-old Finley Harrison’s gradual recovery from the shock of divorce. After 20 years with her philandering husband, Roy, Finnie’s venture into solo life in present-day Nashville forces this picture of Southern womanhood (antebellum accent mandatory) to evolve into 21st-century personhood, but she’s fighting it tooth and nail. Married Finnie was so obsessed with appearances that the only thing worse than catching Roy in flagrante delicto with another woman was finding them thus engaged on her expensive sofa. Once the divorce is finalized, Finnie is pushed by longtime friend Cathyanne to leave her comfort zone—which means going on dates. Cathyanne sets her up with Josh, a 31-year-old hottie; Finnie is also drawn to next-door neighbor Quinton. Cathyanne doesn’t care which one Finnie chooses, so long as she sets aside her suffocating Southern-belle decorum and vows to live with no regrets. Readers who love stories of women finding their truths will enjoy Ford’s spot-on portrayal of midlife change, friendship, and romance. (BookLife)

Publisher’s Weekly

Getting A Facelift

My very first novel, The Woman He Married, has gotten a much-needed facelift!

New cover, new blurb, and most important, new content. For the last year and a half, off and on, I’ve been rewriting and reworking, cutting and redoing, trying to mold this story into what I’d always intended it to be, but hadn’t the writing experience, early on, to do the concept justice. Now my first baby has been re-released and is ready to be read. Whew! Here’s the new cover and back blurb. Buy it now on Amazon

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 9.01.32 PMAn aspiring young attorney, Josie looked forward to taking on the injustices of the world—one case at a time. Eleven years later, she’s a stay-at-home mom and battling demons that don’t require a law degree. Only keeping up pretenses proves more than she can bear when a bracelet that should have been hers shows up on the wrist of another woman. Her marriage slowly begins to unravel as an ex-lover comes back into her life. When he offers her the dreams she thought she’d lost, Josie must chose between the man she married and the one she let get away.

John has always known exactly what he wanted. A career as a high-powered attorney, followed by the perfect family of six, and then elected public service. So it was no surprise that the first time he laid his eyes on Josie, he knew she was the one he’d share his dreams with. More than a decade, and one tragic miscalculation later, all he has worked for is slipping through his fingers. Powerless to stem the flow, the one thing he remains certain of: he can’t lose the woman he married.


Reader’s Choice Book Cover Winner!

I’m very excited to announce that With No Regrets won the New LDS Fiction Reader’s Choice for best cover! Not to sound ungrateful, but I’d really like to win something, anything, for the content. But hey, for now, this is fun too.

With No Regrets 500unnamed









To view all the winners, plus enter win some free books, visit New LDS Fiction

2015 Storymaker’s Midwest Conference

This month I’ll be presenting at my first writer’s conference! And have to admit, I’m a bit nervous.



I’m teaching a breakout season on plotting, which is definitely my favorite part of the writing process.

Below is the outline and talking notes for my class.

Click here for the PowerPoint Plotting Is Fun!

Syllabus: Plotting is Fun! How to keep your story from getting hung up somewhere between 300 pages of eloquently worded sentences and what might very well be the next Great American novel.

Plotting is fun! In fact, I think plotting so much fun, if there were a Chinese character for it, I would have it tattooed on my body somewhere. Except that I hate needles and anything that’s permanent, so . . . And because I think plotting is so much fun, I often have other writers come to me with plot dilemmas to which I find myself offering the very same advice, over and over again.

You’re making it too hard. Too complicated.

Obviously, we want our stories to have twists and turns, to make our readers ooh and ahh over the genius of what they never saw coming. But the genius doesn’t come in the intricacy of how we get from one twist to the next turn. That part, we need to make simple. When we ask ourselves, what is the easiest way to get from this twist to that turn? Miraculously, all our troubles just drift away.

Let’s give it a try. Do it right now. Think about a place in your story where the plot is hanging up (better known as the dreaded “writer’s block”). Now think about the simplest way you can get your character from where he or she is right now to where you want them to be.

Too simple, you say. My readers will get bored, you say. Not true. Isn’t it true that we can be doing the most fun thing in the world (a wedding, a trip to the beach, a party, Disney) but the minute we make it complicated, the less fun it becomes?

It’s the same with writing.

The wow factor for our readers comes in our delightfully quirky characters, our snappy dialogue and our concise but eloquent descriptions.

That’s what we are going to focus on today. Keeping it simple so it can be fun.

Discovery Writer or Meticulous Outliner. Every writer must plot.

Meticulous Outliner: The Meticulous Outliner lays their entire story out ahead of time. They plan all the pitfalls their characters will fall into and determine which chapter that will best happen in. They research and know all the intricate details of whatever it is they need to know intricate details on.

Discovery Writer: Takes a fly-by-night approach to writing. Sit down in front of the keyboard, set your fingers on the keys, close your eyes and just let the story flow down from your brain, out your fingers and on into the computer.

I like to think of myself as more of a hybrid. I outline in order to have an idea of where my story is going so I’ll have an idea of how long it will take me to get there. If the book has a time line—say I want to story to wrap up by Christmas—I need to plan so I know what month I’m in. Are there leaves falling? Is it cold? Etc. But not much more than that. Then I like to just let it flow. Sometimes the story takes me in a direction I hadn’t anticipated and I have to go back and re-outline, which is no big deal. Allowing the creativity to flow is more fun and more important than being bothered by occasionally having to re-plot.

First: Every great story is made up of a set of compelling chapters.

Four basics that every chapter needs:

Top Ten Signs You Might Be Watching Too Much HGTV

Top Ten Signs You Might be Watching Too Much HGTV

To go along with my contribution to the Ripple Effect Romance Series, I came up with a Tens List:

1. You start having dreams involving twins, Jonathan and Drew, from the Property Brothers that you can’t tell your husband and/or mother about.EbookHomeMatters

2. When your kids want to know why they have to wear sunblock at the pool, you tell them it’s because ‘natural light’ is damaging to the skin.

3. In the spring when all your neighbors are having yard sales, you’re having an “outdoor living space” sale.

4. You come home from the mall, and when your husband asks where you’ve been all day, you say, “Out ‘sourcing’ about a half-dozen pair of shoes,” to which he responds, “That’s nice Honey. Glad you didn’t spend any money,” to which you don’t say, “Who said anything about not spending any money?”

5. You’ve begun to truly believe that everything you see on HGTV is as easy as it looks, and thus have cancelled your yearly vacation to Club Med so you can stay home to “reimagine” your master bath into a “spa retreat” you can enjoy year round instead.

6. When your DIY project lands you in the ER with injuries to body parts that are a little awkward to explain, and the doctor asks, “What were you thinking, operating a power tool while wearing only a tank top and shorts?” You say, “Well, I suppose I was thinking that if Nicole Curtis can renovate, and look sexy at the same time, why can’t I?”

7. You begin to seriously consider that quitting your job and selling your home so you can move to a tropical, third-world country where you know no one, and can’t speak the language, in order to open a surf shop, slash, yoga studio, slash, hookah bar is the most brilliant idea you’ve ever come up with.

8. You understand that in order to secure a guest spot on most any HGTV show, you “must have” a love of both “entertaining” and “enjoying a glass of wine,” a desire to live close to “restaurants, bars and shops,” and have at least one dog and/or a variety of other random pets. Children, however, are more or less optional.

9. You’re life has begun to resemble the last five episodes of Renovation Realities and thus you are no longer able to either “entertain” or “enjoy a glass of wine” because you have a house full of DIY projects you’ve started but can’t seem to get finished.

10. You’re constantly looking for ways to work Piėce de rėsistance into regular everyday conversations.

If you are experiencing six or more of these signs and/or have even an inkling of what the aforementioned is even talking about, you might want to delete any and all DIY shows from your DVR, turn off the TV, and pick up a book, or six. 5 out of 5 therapists recommended The Ripple Effects Romance series as a good place to start.

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Story Plotting: Leaving the GPS at Home

Every now and then I’ll hear a writer—generally an unpublished author—say that plotting is his/her least favorite part about writing a novel. Okay first of all, “novel” and “plot” are nearly synonymous. Without a plot, there is no novel, no story. So technically, if a writer doesn’t like to “plot,” said writer probably shouldn’t be wasting his/her time writing a novel. In my opinion, just because a person enjoys writing doesn’t mean he/she must become a novelist. There are so many other ways one can express his/her self through the written word—columns, editorials, poetry, blogging, etc.

And second, maybe the reason so many writers have a hard time plotting is because we as a society have become too dependent on technology doing our thinking for us. We don’t memorize phone numbers any more because all of our contacts are stored in our cell phones. We don’t have to think about how to spell because Word and even our phones do that for us as well. I’m showing my age here but I remember when telephones still had party-lines and TVs were black and white. *Gasp* Viewers had to actually get up and turn a knob to change channels. (Currently, I don’t even know where the on and off switch is on my TV much less how to change channels without the remote.) And when I started college, students were still using typewriters for term papers and libraries to do research. Ah, I do miss the days of riffling through the card catalog . . .

Whitney Award Finalist

I’m very excited to announce that Count Down to Love was chosen as a Whitney Award Finalist!

Click here to view all of the Whitney Award Finalist.

Count Down to Love was also mentioned in an article at Dawning of a Brighter Day.

Check back in May for a list of the winners. Fingers crossed Count Down to Love is among them.


Submission Rejection Disorder

Recently, I received some feedback on my latest novel (Count Down to Love). First, the editor complemented me on my characters and dialogue, which was nice, but then she went on to categorizing me as the kind of author who tends to “tell” instead of “show.” Now I will admit that I did incorporate the occasional flashback and introspective, some of which I agree needs to be reworked, but when did it become a crime to write a novel with a nice balance of dialogue and narration. And it wasn’t as if I didn’t know what I was doing when I wrote the offensive telling. If my dialogue was “enjoyable” and my characters “interesting” then obviously I know how to “show.” I wasn’t suffering from some sort of multiple personality writing disorder that caused my writing style to shift from showing to telling and then back again without my knowledge.

But then if such a disorder did exist maybe psychotherapists could come up with a Cognitive Therapy to treat it? Something like an annoying alarm that sounds whenever an author writes a paragraph containing more than four sentences, followed by a voice reminding the writer that it’s best to dial-down the narration—more people will read the book if the author uses fewer words. The goal of the therapy being that, over time, the author is able to move past the “irrational” idea that good literature is about plot and characterization. And instead, adopt the “rational” idea that the pace in which a reader can sprint to the last page determines the value of the work.