Writing Highlights for the Month

The major revisions for Death’s Curses are finished! It was just as challenging as I thought it would be, turning this young adult story into an adult one. My publisher said that simply changing the ages of the main characters wouldn’t be enough. The themes of the story are definitely in the adult category but the situations the main characters are in are still, technically, juvenile. Changing some of the situations while also making sure they worked with the overall plot was the main issue. But I think I managed.

After talking with my sister about some of the changes I made, we brainstormed some finer details that could be altered to make the characters sound more grown up. I’m confident that this book will meet the Adult Fiction parameters once we’re done applying these new changes. My sister is looking over my edits, then I’ll give it one more read through, and we’ll be re-submitting to BHC Press. Fingers crossed that it’ll be accepted this time. If not, my sister and I are considering self-publication. More news on that later.

BHC Press has started this new thing called Staff Picks. Staff members take turns choosing their favorite titles from the books the company has already published. They write short blurbs about them and post them on the company’s blog page. I’m proud to announce that The Andromeda’s Ghost has been highlighted twice!

Chelsea (acquisitions and lead editor) said: “Taren Platinum is the perfect protagonist without being too perfect. He has a good heart, but there’s a layer of grit just beneath the surface that’s activated by those who stand in the way of his happily-ever-after and evil-doers who prey on the innocent. Becca Fox has crafted an endearing, incredibly real-feeling cast of characters, all of which are misfits in their own way. I was taken by the relationships formed throughout The Andromeda’s Ghost, from the natural progression of those relationships to the tenderness shared among the loveable and unlikely band of characters as they work together to escape a dire situation on planet Cartiss. In short, it’s impossible not to root for Taren and company while reading The Andromeda’s Ghost–a truly entertaining start to what’s sure to be a great series. Be prepared for an expert cliffhanger, and then join me in impatiently waiting for the next book in Fox’s series!”

Lana (publishing and editing assistant) said: “This is one of my new favorites! The classic forbidden romance meets outer space and aliens in all the right ways. Even with the twist beginning (yes, it’s at the beginning for a change), I loved the story and how it unfolds. I was reminded of the TV show Firefly by Taren’s growing ragtag family. Becca Fox did an amazing job unfurling the worlds of this unique solar system–the alien species, foods, customs, environments, etc. I’m super excited to find out what happens to Taren and the gang!”

If you’d like to read their blog posts and discover new titles to read, just click on each of their names.

In other news, production on the audio book is wrapping up! According to my latest communication with my publisher, they estimate it’ll be done sometime in November or December. Stay tuned because I’ll be letting you all know the precise release date as soon as I know it!

Coming up

Stay With Me Banner (1)

The editing phase of I Dare You to Stay With Me is done. And now so is the cover! I’m just waiting to get the final images from my cover designer before I do a big social media reveal. I hired Cora Graphics for this job because Cora’s the artist responsible for Asta and the Barbarian‘s cover, which came out looking amazing. She didn’t disappoint this time around either. I’m so glad I was able to work with her again!

Once I have the cover, it’s only a matter of plugging it into Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing’s template and printing a proof for myself. And, as soon as I’ve looked over that, it’ll be publishing time! Thanks to all of you for your patience. I know I said I was going to publish this book this month but it looks like I’ll be publishing it at the beginning of April. So sorry to have to push things back but I want it too look and feel perfect for you guys.

I’ll be doing a promotion the week of publication, making the I Dare You to Love Me ebook free and the I Dare You to Stay With Me ebook only 99 cents. Follow me on Facebook or Twitter to find out the details!

 

The Andromeda's Ghost banner

BHC Press is interested in publishing The Andromeda’s Ghost! I have a phone call scheduled with them this Saturday to talk about my plans of the trilogy and any other questions I might have about the company. From what I’ve read on their website, I’m liking what they have to offer. I feel like my fan base for this trilogy is smaller when compared to the amount of people interested in my other books. The fact that BHC Press has working relationships with reputable publications like Publishers Weekly gives me hope that I’ll have help building up that fan base. That and their shared-cost option (in exchange for a higher royalty rate) is very appealing to me.

So, unless I find out something unspeakably nonnegotiable about them on Saturday, I plan on signing with them. I’ve been pitching and querying The Andromeda’s Ghost for over a year. I’m so ready for my first science fiction/fantasy trilogy to have a home. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself now. More details to come!

 

AstaandtheBarbariansFACEBOOK

Asta and the Barbarians will be on sale for 99 cents April 8th through the 12th! If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, that would be the perfect time!

My new YA romance manuscript

For those of you who are following me on Facebook, you know I’ve mentioned a young adult romance “project” that I’ve been working on. Now, that it’s finished I can say it: it’s a sequel for I Dare You to Love Me!

Yep, that’s right. All of you Brian and Iris fans who were kind enough to leave reviews and were begging for a sequel; it’s finally here! Well, almost. I finished the first draft, edited through it, had a beta reader look at it, and then went through another round of edits. It’s as polished as I can make it. I emailed my publisher about it. Now, all I can do is wait for instructions. Crazy, right? I still can’t quite believe it. In October, I Dare You to Love Me will have been published for a year and now it might have a sequel before the end of 2018!

It’s kind of funny because I never planned on writing a sequel for this particular book. I mean, I fantasized about doing it a few times, just because I love these characters and I had such a great time writing their story. But, because of that rule I have about writing sequels, I held off on actually writing one until I was sure I had an amazing plot that would be just as good if not better than the first. It took almost ten months, but I’m confident I’ve accomplished that.

Here’s the blurb:

It’s been three years since Brian Royland was dared to take Iris Newman to the prom. They’ve managed to keep a strong long-distance relationship even while balancing college classes and jobs.

Around the same time of Brian’s impromptu marriage proposal, William Lexington comes back into Iris’ life with an opportunity to go on tour with a well-known rock band. There’s only one condition; he has to be reinstated as Angst’s bass guitarist. Despite her reservations, Iris can’t deny that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So she puts her engagement on hold to fulfill her dream, with Brian’s blessing.

While the band’s on the road, discovering things about each other that they never wanted to know, the drama in Brian’s life escalates. Not only is he dealing with a competitive coworker, a biased boss, and a roommate who just can’t seem to take no for an answer, but then his long-lost mother decides she wants to fight for custody of Leah after all. Brian and Iris’ phone conversations get shorter the more time passes and the distance only grows wider. Things quickly spin out of control, to the point where both Brian and Iris start to wonder if their love is strong enough to withstand the new miles and obstacles that separate them.

I Dare You to Stay With Me is technically a new adult fiction novel because the main characters are twenty-one, but it still has a young adult feel. It’s fun while also tackling some hard subjects and shedding light on some pressures a lot of teenagers deal with. College students will definitely be able to relate, since Brian’s chapters focus on the stresses of going to school while also having a job. All in all, I think you guys are really going to enjoy this second installment to what I’m very tentatively calling The Dare Duo. It’s too soon to tell if there’s going to be a third book or not. I would love to, obviously, but I don’t know if I can whip up an even better plot than this one in the next year or so.

For right now, I think I’m just going to sit back and enjoy getting this second book published.

Stay tuned! More news to come.

The Andromeda’s Ghost update

Hey all!

I’ve been super busy with my science fiction manuscript but it’s finally finished and ready to be viewed. I queried a few agents to see if I would get any bites but, alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I’m kind of bummed that this is my fourth manuscript and I still haven’t been able to land an agent or a big house publishing deal. But I don’t stay bummed for long. It’s onward and forward! I believe in this story. I love the characters and I know others will too. I’m excited to show my manuscript to the world!

I’ve decided to submit this story to Inkitt. For those of you unfamiliar with Inkitt, it’s a publishing company that offers publishing deals based on a book’s popularity. Undiscovered authors can post their finished manuscripts on Inkitt’s website. The more people read their books and vote on them, the higher their chances of getting offered a publishing deal. This is how I Dare You to Love Me was published. Although the process takes time and effort, the results speak for themselves. Out of my three published books, I Dare You to Love Me has done the best review-wise and sales-wise. I believe this was due to Inkitt’s emphasis on reader engagement and voting. They helped establish a fan-base before the book was put on the market.

Now it’s time to develop a fan-base for The Andromeda’s Ghost, and see if it has what it takes to do well as a published book. I need your honest-to-goodness opinions and your help getting the word out! I’ve had two beta readers go through it and I’ve edited it three times myself. The best possible version of this manuscript is available to read for free on Inkitt’s website. If you’re a fan of science fiction, romance, adventure, and survival-like stories with a broken but loveable cast of characters, click on the link below. Once you’re finished reading, leave a short review to tell me what needs improving. Constructive criticism is very helpful to my story crafting process and can only help the manuscript succeed! If science fiction isn’t your cup of tea but you have a friend who loves the genre, tell them about it.

If I could get this book published by sheer force of will, believe me, I would. I hate asking other people for help, especially people who have already done me huge favors by purchasing my other books and supporting my dreams. But I know my limits. I know I can’t do this by myself. And so I leave the fate my little manuscript in your hands.

I hope you guys like it!

https://www.inkitt.com/stories/scifi/229153

The next novel

I’m excited to announce that I’m finished with my first draft of my first ever science fiction novel, The Andromeda’s Ghost. I’ve been working on this manuscript on and off for over a year now. It’s been fun but also challenging.

While I love Star Wars, Star Trek, and The Chronicles of Riddick, I don’t consider myself to be a sci-fi fan. I’ve only ever read a handful of sci-fi books (Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and The Han Solo Trilogy by Ann C. Crispin). Honestly, I struggled through the techie and sciencey parts of those books. What I truly love about all of these stories are the plots, the characters, the world building, and the unique challenges the characters are faced with. I’m confident I nailed those parts of my sci-fi manuscript. What I’m more concerned with is the techie parts I included. And the fact that it’s written exclusively from a male’s perspective.

As you can imagine, I’m pretty good at writing from a girl’s perspective but I’m still learning how to sound like a convincing guy. My husband has helped me with this in the past and now I’m having a male friend read over The Andromeda’s Ghost to give me some feedback on how believable the main character is as a young adult male. We’ll see what he says.

While I wait for his feedback, I’m getting ready to dabble in my other stories.

But then I got an interesting thought: I could query this manuscript to agents. I Dare You to Love Me, In the Dark, and Asta and the Barbarians are all under contracts. Any sequels I end up producing for them will have to be presented to their respective publishing houses. But this sci-fi and it’s sequels are free from commitments right now. With some published books under my belt, would that better my chances of getting a literary agent for this book?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m so thankful for Tirgearr Publishing and Inkitt. They took a chance on me and published my books when nobody else seemed interested. Working with them has been easy, enjoyable, and educational. But book marketing is turning out to be my weakness in this industry. I’ve tried all the free avenues and have spent as much money as I can to promote my books. I’ve read articles and reached out to reviewers. I’ve seen adequate sales but, considering all the work I’m putting into this, I feel like the number of books sold should be a little higher. I don’t mean to sound like an ingrate. I’m just being honest.

According to the author forums and Facebook pages I’ve visited, hiring a publicist isn’t worth the money. But having a professional to work side by side with me, give me weekly tips, and carry some of the load sounds really good right about now. I’m just so tired of putting in the effort every single day and not seeing satisfactory results. I feel like I’m in an infomercial, giving that desperate look to the camera and saying, “There has to be an easier way!” Will having an agent make that part of being an author a little easier? I don’t know. But I’m so tempted to try putting myself out there again.

A part of me doesn’t want to open myself up to rejection. I mean, I have two publishing houses that would be willing to publish this manuscript for me. It would be so much easier to pick one of them and get it done. But I don’t just want to see this manuscript in print. I want it to be distributed to as many people as possible.

Uuuuuuuuggggggggghhhhhhh!

Calling out to my fellow authors, those with agents and without: What do you guys think I should do?

Publishing Updates

Last week, I signed a contract with Inkitt to publish my young adult fiction novel, I Dare You to Love Me. It was a challenging decision for me to make because I had been given the opportunity to Revise and Resubmit this manuscript to an acquisitions editor from Filles Vertes Publishing. I wanted to remain loyal to that editor; she’d given me a second chance along with some invaluable constructive feedback. But after seven weeks of silence from her, it was time to move forward. I never thought I’d have to send a rejection letter. I’ve received enough to know how to write a cordial one, but it still wasn’t fun. All I can do is hope she’ll understand why I decided to accept Inkitt’s offer.

Just before this, I received word from Tirgearr Publishing that they decided to publish Asta and the Barbarians after they publish In the Dark! So now all of my completed manuscripts are going to be published. (Insert girlish shriek of excitement here).

The publishing schedule for my novels is as follows:

I Dare You to Love Me — October 2017

In the Dark — January 2018

Asta and the Barbarians — April 2018

Inkitt is giving readers the opportunity to receive a free ebook copy of I Dare You to Love Me on launch day. If interested, click here.

It’s still hard for me to believe. Everything’s been happening so fast. I’m exhilarated and proud and humbled and thankful and terrified all at once. Have I mentioned that already? Well, it’s worth mentioning twice! I don’t know what these next few months are going to be like. I’m taking three writing classes this semester, working full-time, and trying to finish another manuscript. There doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to get these novels ready for their publication dates, but I’m sure I’ll come up with a new routine as things develop. It’s just like the beginning of a school semester. Looking at the syllabus and the assignments that are going to be due, it overwhelms me. But, so long as I take it one week at a time, it’s manageable. At the end of each semester, I’ve been able to look back and think, “Well, that wasn’t so bad.”

Everything I’ve done for my manuscripts has led up to this point. It’s real now. It’s go time. I can’t wait to get started!

The blank screen

So I’ve made it. In the Dark is scheduled to be published in January of 2018 by Tirgearr Publishing. Hooray! Now, I’m waiting. My newly appointed editor is supposed to go through the manuscript with me and give me some feedback. I then have to work on revisions, turn the new manuscript in by no later than October, approve a front cover design, wait for the launch party, and promote the finished product like crazy. None of which can happen until I hear back from my editor.

What am I supposed to do in the mean time?

“Work on one of your other stories,” you might say.

Well, here’s the situation: In the Dark, as you know, is waiting to be reviewed by my new editor. I can’t touch it. Asta and the Barbarians (I submitted it to Tigearr Publishing some time ago without even realizing it) is also being considered for publication. I can’t touch it until a decision is made. I Dare You to Love Me is being considered by someone from Filles Vertes Publishing. Guess what. I can’t touch that one either.

“What about The Sentinel?” you ask.

Ah, The Sentinel. The one story I can’t seem to get right, but the one story I can’t seem to give up on. This is the story that started it all.

I was in the fourth grade, my sister in sixth. She was tough, out-going, smart, and pretty and I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. Only problem was…she didn’t like me very much. Who could blame her? I was the kid sister she had to tote around wherever she went, take care of, and share all of her things with. She finally complained enough times to my parents and they decided it was time for her to have some privacy. She moved into the guest room and I suddenly had an entire room to myself. It was a hard time for me; despite her wild temper and all the “mean” things she said to me, I still looked up to her and thought of her as my closest friend. I hated that locked door between us, a constant reminder that there was nothing I could do to make her like me as much as I liked her.

I don’t remember how or when it happened exactly but, one day, that door was unlocked. One day, she let me in on a big secret: she was writing a story. Her love of Tolkien’s Middle Earth combined with the drama that she and her friends were going through at school created a fantasy adventure unlike any other. The novel came with hand drawn maps, dress designs, banners and family insignias, and strange new creatures that my artistic sister had come up with herself. And she shared all of it with me! She wanted to hear my opinion! Over countless hours spent sprawled on her bed, listening to her read and discussing ideas, we bonded. And she inspired me to write a story of my own.

Before then, the longest story I’d ever written had been four to six pages. Each page had a few lines of story and an illustration courtesy of my sister (when she had been in the mood to play nice). This was probably why she thought of me when she needed a second opinion on her story. She knew I could be creative and she knew I loved The Lord of the Rings so I would enjoy her fantasy world. I didn’t want to copy her story. I just knew I wanted to write. So I picked out a composition notebook from the stack my mom had and put pencil to paper. The plot didn’t flow well. The villains were pathetically two dimensional and cliche. The main character was too perfect. But it didn’t matter. I was creating something and I loved it.

When I was caught up on my sister’s story or when she was having  writer’s block, I would read to her from my story and we’d work on improvements together. We still share stories and story ideas to this day, across the miles and miles that separate us. I do more of the writing and she does more of the advising now, but we’ll always have this in common; the love of fantasy. We both want to see my first story published, despite the many, many changes it has gone through over the years.

But no matter what I do, I can’t seem to tell the story right. I’ve written up draft after draft, shared it with two beta readers other than my sister, tried to listen to everybody’s counsel, set it aside for months at a time only to pick it up again and make more changes. Each time I finish, I think I might’ve finally gotten it. I send it out to my sister and my beta readers with confidence. Then they give it back with more red marks than ever. I manage to improve some things only to make other things more unbelievable or dramatic or flat or whatever. I love these characters. I love this story. I love this world I’ve created. Why can’t I weave the plot correctly? Why can’t I tell it in a way that’s…whole and real and not cliche?

Thinking and writing about it now, I want to try again. But I know the moment I open up the document and stare at that blank page, it’ll all come swarming back to me; the problems, the criticisms, the questions that still need answering. The very long story that still hasn’t been told. And…

“…the blank piece of paper wins.”

Uuuugh.

There are three other works in progress I could focus on. I could write a sequel to In the Dark or Asta and the Barbarians, things I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time and just haven’t gotten around to. I’m sure I could pass the time until I hear back from my new editor. But The Sentinel keeps calling. Can I muster the strength to answer the call? Can I bear to face that blank screen again?

The Dream

I finally got that “yes” I’ve been waiting to hear for almost five years. After sending countless query letters, doing research, writing and rewriting, working with beta readers, sprucing up my writer’s resume, developing a social media presence, creating a blog, and participating in Pitch Madness, a publisher has offered me a book contract for In the Dark.

Just like that.

It doesn’t feel real. Upon hearing the news, I felt elation, validation, pride, humility, and thankfulness. Now that all that has passed, however, I can’t help but feel a little strange. I’ve arrived. I’ve made it. It’s…over?

I’m not naive enough to think that the work is over. I’m sure I’ll have to go through several more editing, formatting, and cover design phases before the manuscript is actually published. Then after that, it’ll be onto the promoting stage. So why does this feel like the end of something? Well, I guess it is to some degree. It’s the end of this stage of my writing career.

How weird is that? I have a writing career now. Before, it was just a dream, a seemingly unattainable goal I had to keep trying to reach because I couldn’t imagine not trying. Now, it’s suddenly real.

I’ve mentioned several times in my blog posts how I’ve had moments in my life when I feel like an adult. When I take on new responsibilities, or when I’ve learned something new and good about myself, or when I’ve pushed my limits and come out victorious in the end, or when I’ve dared to go somewhere or do something that my younger self never would have. Then there are other times when I still feel like that clueless, sheltered, high school girl who doesn’t know anything.

This is one of those rare moments when I feel like both. Adults have careers. They accomplish big, life-changing goals and move on to the next item on their list. But are they ever afraid of what comes next? Are they ever uncertain? Do they ever feel a tiny bit of loss when endings come, even if those endings are good? Or is that just the child within me?

I can’t help but remember that scene in Tangled. Rapunzel and Flynn are sitting in the boat, waiting for the paper lanterns to appear.

Rapunzel says, “I’ve been looking out a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what it might feel like to see those lights rise in the sky. What if it’s not everything I dreamed it would be?”

Flynn says, “It will be.”

“And what if it is? What do I do then?” Rapunzel counters.

And Flynn in his casual way says, “Well, that’s the good part, I guess. You get to go and find a new dream.”

I guess that’s really all I can do, huh?

More details to come. 🙂