Shortlisted for the Chanticleer International Book Awards

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say here. I’m super excited, but I didn’t want to brag. Then again, I haven’t technically won anything yet—I’m a semifinalist. But still. Check this out. It’s my name on a website! (Keep your cool, girl, dang.)

Flowerantha has made the shortlist for the Gertrude Warner Book Awards for Middle Grade Readers.

Track Two on Repeat has made the shortlist for the Dante Rossetti Book Awards for Young Adult Fiction.

When my friend Sara Dahmen encouraged me a couple years ago to submit one of my books to the Chanticleer International Book Awards (a contest she went on to win in her genre!), I was hesitant. It wasn’t free, and frankly, I didn’t know if I had written anything award winning. This was probably around the time I had published one, mayyyybe two of my books.

But then I wrote Track Two on Repeat, and I believed in it. And I considered Flowerantha, and I believed in that too. They weren’t as niche as Front Row or Lyfers, which are both super fun. You should read them. And let’s be real, I wouldn’t mind a little validation. Being self-published, I don’t have professional editors from publishing houses looking over my stuff, giving me a thumbs up or thumbs down or nudging me in the right direction. And as much as I like self-publishing and trust my beta readers, I wanted that.

For the last few years, I’ve been going to an excellent writers’ conference in Madison, WI, in April. Same thing this year—I’ll just be in Washington state, which I’m very much looking forward to. Practicing my polite clap for when they don’t call my name at the awards banquet. Just kidding…positive thoughts! So it’s OK if I don’t win. (But like all the other semifinalists, I sure hope I do!) I have my validation. I’m on the right track. Now onto the next.

Thank you so much to Chanticleer Reviews for your consideration, and good luck to the other shortlisters! Can’t wait to party with you all in April! Cheers!

How to Succeed Without Really Trying

I was in that musical in high school–How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying–and I had an absolute blast goofing off in the chorus. The title seemed apt for my topic today. So how can you be successful without really trying?

You can’t. That was clickbait. Unless you’re lucky of course, but how many of us can really count on that?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes successful people successful. From hanging out with fellow writers and following other writers on Twitter and explaining self-publishing to coworkers and family and such, success is something that’s kind of always in the back of my mind. It’s the goal, after all.

I’d like to think natural talent and passion is all it takes to be successful at something. Those are things I think I have. But it’s more than that. You also have to be savvy and more importantly–hardworking. The people who know how to hustle are the ones who make it. And I think that’s OK. I think that’s fair. So what if I can recite all the prepositions and write grammatically correct (thanks, Mr. G!)? That doesn’t necessarily mean people should want to read my books.

I pride myself in being well-rounded, but I think a lot of that is at the expense of being really, really good at one thing. On the bright side, my well-roundedness makes me adaptable in the corporate world. It helped me change careers when I wanted to and feel useful wherever I go.

Last night, I happened to catch an Instagram story where Rachel Bloom (star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) asked her cinematographer what it takes to be a cinematographer. He said that you need to love what you do because you’re going to be doing it for 12 hours a day. He continued by saying that you should do something that you’d do anyway for free. That made me smile. I write for a living. It’s technical writing, but that’s something. I get excited about editing. Occasionally, I get to troubleshoot something for someone, which I love. I love problem solving, and I’m darn good at it too. And sometimes I think, if I were a full-time author, working for myself, maybe I wouldn’t get to do that anymore.

Part of my musings came from watching ABC’s Boy Band on Hulu and absorbing knowledge from the wildly successful “architects,” Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, Spice Girl Emma Bunton, and Grammy winning producer Timbaland. Even the mentors, the behind-the-scenes talent, blow me away with their success. Adam Blackstone, for example, who I’m obsessed with at the moment, is the musical director for people like Justin Timberlake and Nicki Minaj. And he’s my age. What am I doing at 34? And they all seem SO NICE and down-to-earth while mentoring these young up-and-comers. Even though they’re huge BFDs. (Am I using that right? I am a suburban mom, after all.) By the way, I’ve been following Nick’s career for a long time. Believe me when I say that guy knows his stuff. And I don’t think he ever stops working.

One of the boy band hopefuls on the show said something to the affect of “we’ll sleep when we’re billionaires.” I think that’s the mindset you have to have. Some days, I have it together enough to set my alarm for 4:45, write for a half hour or so, then get my kids ready for school, and head into work and maybe get a workout in there sometime too. I don’t say this to brag–I say this to remind myself that it’s possible, especially if I convince myself I can survive on less than my cushy and typical eight hours of sleep.

I’ve also been reading Scrappy Little Nobody, actress Anna Kendrick’s memoir. She knew from the time she was a kid that she wanted to be an actor. I guess I’ve known just as long that I wanted to be a writer. The difference was, she went for it, and I convinced myself that it was more practical to become a teacher or a web developer. By the way, I almost became a web developer at one point, but I didn’t have the drive for that either. And believe me, I’m not ripping on web developers or teachers. On the contrary, I’m in awe of them too.

The thing all these people had in common was a laser focus on what they wanted to be.

Then this whole thing begs the question of how you balance it all. I wonder, while thinking about all this, where work-life balance comes into play. I wonder if it does at all. While I’m writing this, I’m simultaneously making my kids dinner (fish sticks) while they’re both talking to me at the same time, and I’m sort of listening. As you can imagine, I’m not doing any of these things at 100%. I’m still figuring this all out.

So basically, unless you’re cool with being in the chorus, do as I say, not as I do.

Go. Try. Succeed. I’ll leave you with this.

Change of Plans

Due to life, The View from the Balcony has been put on hold, possibly indefinitely. I may release it in a different form in the future. For anyone who had pre-ordered the book, your orders will be cancelled. I’m bummed I had to pull back on this book, but ultimately, I think it’s for the best.

Not surprisingly, I already have an idea for my next book, which I’m looking forward to getting started on. This one will go in another direction, but will likely also be music related.

To my readers, thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm.

Pre-order The View from the Balcony

My next book in The Fandom Collection is now available for pre-order! The pre-order link is currently live on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo with more retailers to come.

The book will be released Tuesday, July 25!

Why pre-order? By pre-ordering, you get The View from the Balcony for the low price of $0.99. The book will then be automatically delivered to your device on July 25. After release day, the price will go up to my normal novel price of $3.99.

So what’s this book all about anyway?

Think Shopaholic for the concert-aholics and lovers of live music.

It’s been 10 years since Rachel has camped out on sidewalk, vying for Front Row. Time has turned her into a grown woman with a little coffee addiction and a lot to lose.

What would you do if all your favorite bands were touring at once? What if you had a mortgage payment and daycare bills to consider?

Pre-order on Amazon
Pre-order everywhere else

Preview of The View from the Balcony

Here’s the first page of my (unfinished, not final) upcoming novel, The View from the Balcony, which will be the fourth book in The Fandom Collection. In this book, we meet Rachel again ten years after Front Row. She’s grown up with a husband, daughter, and career, but she hasn’t outgrown her love of music and going to concerts.

I should’ve known when my day began with wet sheets that this was not going to go as planned. I had trained for this. I was ready. I had been buying tickets for years. This was the rush. How fast could I order the best seats possible? My fingers shook as I navigated to the page for the event in question—a blast-from-the-past boyband reunion show that my friends and I couldn’t miss. I cut this too close. Usually I tried to be ready at least five minutes in advance, but my daughter, Cora, had wet her bed again, and I couldn’t just leave her in soaked clothes.

“Cora! Are you kidding me right now? Aren’t you potty trained yet?” I was pissed, no pun intended; and in retrospect, it wasn’t one of my finer parenting moments.

Her little face with her flushed squishy cheeks and giant dark brown eyes that matched her father’s begged my forgiveness. I melted into submission.

“Sweetie, I’m sorry for yelling.” I tugged a new pair of Dora the Explorer undies onto her and gave her a squeeze. “Want me to make you some pink milk instead of white milk this morning?”

She clasped her hands and danced in place, the curls of her fine, light brown hair billowing around her shoulders.

After serving the strawberry milk and glancing nervously at the clock on the oven, I leapt back onto the couch and manned my station. The staccato tapping of my fingers on the computer keys were as practiced as my favorite musicians on their instrument of choice. My fingers flew across the keyboard as I logged onto the website, back to my scheduled task of the day. I had two minutes to go before these concert tickets went on sale.

I hadn’t worked out the logistics with my husband yet, but he’d be fine with it. The tickets weren’t that expensive. Just over a hundred for the best seats.