Chanticleer Awards Banquet 2018 Recap #CAC18

Newly award-winning (sorry, I’ll never tire of saying that!) TRACK TWO ON REPEAT is on sale this week for $0.99!

Get it while it’s cheap!

iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo & more

There are moments in my life that I wish I could relive time and time again on demand, and two moments from the awards banquet fall into that category for me. I’m sure you can guess which two moments if you saw any of my social media posts lately.

The banquet started with a cocktail hour and buffet dinner although I didn’t have much of an appetite. My husband and I gorged ourselves on Buffalo Wild Wings the night before, so when we saw chicken again, we inwardly groaned and ended up filling our plates with mostly sides. I must say though, it was good chicken, the little bit I had.

Then, Kiffer Brown, founder of Chanticleer Book Reviews, congratulated all the shortlisters present and explained the high-level process of how the winners are chosen.

The judging panel comprises top authors, editors, and other industry professionals who lend their time to finding new and promising works of both fiction and nonfiction. Among a pool of thousands of international applicants, each of the 16 genres is whittled down to around 20 finalists each (more for some genres, less for others). From there, a first place winner is declared for each of the 6 categories within a genre, and a grand prize genre winner is named from those 6. THEN, an overall grand prize winner for best book of the year is named among all the 16 genre winners.

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Chanticleer Authors Conference 2018 Recap #CAC18

Newly award-winning (sorry, I’ll never tire of saying that!) TRACK TWO ON REPEAT is on sale this week for $0.99!

Get it while it’s cheap!

iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo & more

Conferences are weird, in the best way. I’ve been to a handful of different writers’ conferences now, both as a fiction writer and through work. I show up nervous, feeling out of place, but ready to learn. And I leave tired, completely mentally and physically spent, but not quite ready to go. Despite having a fistful of business cards left that I haven’t handed out, I always seem to make a few connections with great people and learn some stuff along the way.

Here are my top five takeaways from each of the sessions I attended at the Chanticleer Authors Conference in Bellingham, WA, a couple weekends ago.

Building a World One Book at a Time with Ann Charles and Diane Garland

  • Keep track of ALL details somewhere, like in OneNote. Define rules for your world that don’t change. Readers will notice inconsistencies!
  • Describe the world in my (your) voice. It should look, sound, taste, smell, and feel like a Rebekah Bryan (your) world.
  • You want fans to get excited about aspects of the setting so that they notice things in the real world and think of your book.
  • Having characters swear differently is a good way to differentiate between them and define an author voice.
  • Each book in a series has to feel different and have a different theme.

Bonus: there’s a town in Arizona called Threeway. I had to keep myself from laughing. I am mature…
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Playlists for My Two Newly Award-Winning Novels

These two books of mine were up for a couple awards this weekend at the Chanticleer Authors Conference in Bellingham, WA. And they both won (with a bit of a twist ending)!!! I’ll do a full recap of the conference and awards banquet next week, but in the meantime, here’s some music to go along with the little books that could.

First Place Ribbons

Track Two on Repeat

Melancholia and angst are what I was going for with this playlist. In the story, Annette is really into emo music, so I had to throw in some Dashboard Confessional. Hanson and Matt Nathanson were for my benefit. “We Belong Here” by Stephen Kellogg is the newest add from this year, which perfectly sums up the theme of the book.

Track Two on Repeat


I started writing Flowerantha when I was 11. When I rewrote it for publication 20 years later, I wanted to evoke the same feelings I had writing it the first time around. Thus, this playlist contains mostly kind of dreamy music from my youth, but also a couple more contemporary songs that convey the same mood. My personal favorites would be “Soldier” by the Backstreet Boys for Bushraal’s theme song and “Strangers Like Me” by Phil Collins for Mash’s.


Book Review of Widow 1881

When I read the first version of this book four years ago when it was published under another title, I remember being impatient with main character Jane, which was reflected in my 4-star review at the time. I don’t know if it was the additional content in this version or my four more years of life experience, but Widow is a 5-star book. I adored it.

I wish I could go into all sorts of spoilery things in this book and how much I relate to them, but I’ll keep it high level for those of you who haven’t read the book yet.

First, a little background. Jane is a widow…in 1881… (no, really?) who leaves her comfortable life on the east coast to go west in search of a new life and maybe even a new love. Circumstances following her husband’s death result in Jane’s desire to reinvent herself in a place where no one knows her. But life on the prairie is hard and sometimes gruesome work, which comes as a shock to Jane. To pile on, Jane also has to room with a native woman who doesn’t speak to her.

Luckily, Jane is realistic with a thirst for knowledge, which makes her surroundings more bearable, even when she messes up royally at first. With her eager demeanor and open-mindedness, Jane endears herself to the town, and vice versa. Soon, it becomes her home, and she grows more and more comfortable playing house with her employer, Irishman and fellow outsider Dr. Kinney.

Of course, the life Jane was trying to escape catches up to her in a dramatic and painful way, which changes her relationship with Dr. Kinney. I read the last third of the book at rapid speed. Even though I thought I knew how it ended, I needed to know it still ended the way I remembered from the first read.

Sara captivated me once again with her vast historical knowledge and ability to create a vivid, engrossing scene. What she excels at most is capturing the maturity of love and how adult responsibilities intersect and with and sometimes impede the pursuit of happiness. With an ultimately deliciously satisfying ending.

This weekend, Sara and I will be partying it up at the Chanticleer Authors Conference, where she will be leading a few sessions and also competing for the Chatelaine Book Award for Women’s Fiction & Romantic Fiction for her book Wine & Children. Which is also a 5-star book, by the way. Good luck, Sara!

Meanwhile, I’ll be nervously awaiting the results of my two categories, the Gertrude Warner Book Awards for Middle Grade Readers and the Dante Rossetti Book Awards for Young Adult Fiction. Wish me luck, too!

How to Read The Fandom Collection

Funny story. Or at least “mildly amusing.” My dad read The Chronicles of Narnia to me when I was a child, so for Christmas, he bought me the complete set to read to my daughter now that she’s 7. Except, as I understand it, there’s some debate as to which order these books should be read in—the order they were published, or the order the story happens chronologically. My dad took the liberty of rearranging the books in the box set so that I could read them in the “correct” order.

Cut to three months later, I had a few of my writer friends over, and I told them about this. They demanded (not really, but they were pretty worked up, haha) to see what my dad had done and immediately put things back the way the publisher had intended. So which way is “right”? Because I still don’t know…

As for the Fandom Collection, I didn’t set out originally to write a series, which was likely to my detriment, but it is what it is. Front Row was supposed to be a one-and-done, but then I realized I had more, unrelated fan stories I wanted to tell. Thus came three standalone stories, which you could read in any order. One character does appear in all three books, but that’s an Easter egg I’ll leave up to you to find.

Here are a couple logical options:

Chronologically by story

  1. Track Two on Repeat
  2. Front Row
  3. Lyfers

In this scenario, start with Track Two on Repeat, in which the characters are in high school in 2001 at the height of boy bands and the birth of emo. Then, move onto Front Row, where college kids discover a love for smaller, more accessible bands. Finish with Lyfers, set closer to present time, with adults treating themselves to a boy band reunion cruise.

Chronologically by publication

  1. Front Row
  2. Lyfers
  3. Track Two on Repeat

Front Row was my first book baby, and maybe you could argue that it shows. But I love it, warts and all. From there, I took on the daunting task of multiple POVs in Lyfers without letting up on the fandom hysteria in my characters. Finally, I pumped the brakes and went back to my music-loving roots with Track Two on Repeat, to show how a music fanatic is born.

You could also start with Lyfers! Why not? That’s what some of my coworkers did when I all but declared it as mandatory reading to be on a team with me. (I kid, of course.)

There are three weeks to go until I randomly choose a winner for the autographed paperbacks of all three books! You can still share on Twitter or comment on Facebook for extra entries.