I've been on spring break for the last two weeks. I actually just typed years...because that's what happens when you're on a break. Your brain stops working. It's been awesome and in fourteen weeks, I'm going to do it again. For ten weeks.
It's hard for me to transition from break back to work. Not just because I'm a little lazy, but I really like staying home with my family, staying up too late reading, spending the days alternating between writing and watching Friends on Netflix. I'm, unfortunately, one of those people who think that obsessing over time can actually allow me to control it.
Alas, I am not a wizard. I am also not rich, so back to work I go. We're working on "changing our mindset" in my house. A house full of girls/women who all have anxiety makes for some interesting fun for my husband (don't worry, he has craft beer), but we're going into the last part of the school year with the goal of being more positive, seeing things differently, and focusing on what's actually happening rather than what might happen. What does this mean? It means we're going to try to be more grateful. I am grateful. Let me just say that up front. I'm incredibly grateful for everything I have. The top of that list includes a family and friends, a roof over my head, and a good job, along with a pretty decent writing hobby. But I'm not actively grateful, if that makes sense.
For me, and hopefully my daughters, it means we're going to devote more active time each day thinking about the things that make us happy and lucky. Changing conversations to realize, in Old Dominion's words, "It's what I have, not what I had", or in our case, what we wish we had or worry we might have. I'm not going to list all the things that make me grateful on a personal level, but I thought it would be nice to share some of the things that have made my spring break great, outside of my family and Netflix. So, channeling my inner Jimmy Fallon, here's my own version of "Thank You Notes".
Thomas Rhett, for being adorably in love with your wife and having great lyrics. Very helpful while I'm writing books with mushy, romantic moments.
Cadbury mini eggs for making me feel like I'm only eating a little bit-- it says MINI right in the name. And for being this amazingly delicious burst of chocolate in a candy coated shell.
Facebook for giving me somewhere to turn when I'm easily distracted and need to write all the words.
Book contracts for getting me out of having to help clean out the garage with my family this break. Seriously. Thank you.
Diet Pepsi for keeping me awake and tasting good.
That's all for now. Lots more to be thankful for, but you get the idea. Have a wonderful April everyone.
It feels strange, after the hustle and bustle of Christmas and my latest release, LET IT BE ME, for it to already be the end of February. I've barely gotten used to writing 2018. I'm really happy with the books I released last year and am so happy that people enjoyed them.
So what will 2018 bring? Well, next month (or next week if you're keeping track of the calendar) I'll be giving away the second Cooper & Ellie story via my newsletter. I released their first story, SOME KIND OF CHRISTMAS, in November. This new story, SOME KIND OF LOVE, is about both of them being ready to take their relationship to the next level.
Those of you who read my books know that I'm a closed door sort of writer. Which made writing a book where the character's main goal was to sleep with her boyfriend a little difficult. But I think I pulled it off and stayed true to my style. You can sign up for my newsletter here and you'll get your instafreebie link on March 1st. I'm eagerly waiting to see my cover for it, which is being designed by the lovely Tanya Baikie.
What then? I'm in the middle of edits (a.k.a rewrites) for book 2 in the LOVE UNEXPECTED series: NEVER EXPECTED YOU. This is Stella and Zach's story and I'm really hopeful people will enjoy it. Hard not to enjoy a hot, former army sergeant veterinarian who comes home and falls in love with the lovely and jaded small town woman who is just trying to keep her head above water. This one releases on September 24th, 2018. I'm doubly excited about this date because my good friend, Christina Hovland, is also releasing her book that day with Entangled. You guys are going to LOVE her book.
After that, I'll be sharing a release date with another author (and friend) that I absolutely adore; Sarah Fox. We are both releasing cozy mysteries. It'll be my first, but not hers. If you haven't read any of her stories, you really should. Sarah and I are trying to hang out on our Facebook page: Cozily Ever After. Come check it out.
In between edits and writing, I've been working on proposals for new books and developing ideas that I hope, one day, come to life. It'll be a big chunk of time between sharing my Cooper and Ellie story and my next official release, so in the words of Glass Tiger, "Don't forget me when I'm gone", because I will definitely be back.
I'm so excited to be part of Entangled's Under the Mistletoe event. There are some excellent titles on sale this month and More than Friends is one of them. What I love most about this is the timing. This time last year, I was just getting ready for the release of Owen and Gabby's book, unsure how anyone would feel about the first book in my first series with Entangled. It's been an excellent and fun year in the book world, which included the second and third books in the series. If you didn't get a chance last year, start your holidays with a sweet story about unrequited love that ends up being not so one sided after all.
More Than Friends is an exceptional and fun, holiday romance novel.
The timing and pacing of these relationships just felt right; the family interference appropriately stifling and #goalsworthy and, most importantly, the connection between geeky (*swoon* I love a geek!) Owen and artsy Gabby simple and genuine.
I've been working on a book for a couple of months now. I tend to write quick so when I'm dragging on words, it makes me kind of antsy. I don't think writing quick is better than not. Every author has their own style and I'd say, with some certainty, that writing quick often leads to needing heavier edits-- at least for me. However, it is what I'm used to so I get frustrated when the words stumble over each other instead of making coherent sentences.
So what do you do when something is bugging you? Walk away. Or, if you're me, write a mini short story about your favorite holiday season. Make sure that it's super full of sappy, emotional, holiday spirit and voila, you have a side project. Then, you ask the lovely and talented Tanya Baikie if she'll make you a cover. I don't know if this path will work for everyone, but it's the one I took and because of that, I'll be releasing a very short, very sweet story on November 6th from Amazon. It will be the first in a series of four shorts about the same couple. I'm very excited about this. And the best part, it got my words moving around again.
Jody Holford's debut DEADLY NEWS, the first in a new series featuring a woman who arrives in the sea side town of Britton Bay to take over the role of newspaper editor, ends up headlining in a major story after finding one of her not so friendly reporters dead, and gets to know the residents in town by poking around to find out who wanted the crotchety old man dead and why, to John Scognamiglio at Kensington, in a three-book deal, for publication in Fall 2018, by Frances Black of The Literary Counsel (World).
I am absolutely thrilled to be working with Kensington and with Mr. Scognamiglio. I am eager for you guys to read the first in my trilogy: DEADLY NEWS. I'm working on book two right now.
Speaking of books...
My first book in a new series from Entangled Publishing will be out on January 29th, 2018. I love Megan and Adam. They are a quirky, opposites attract, meant-to-be couple that I think you'll enjoy. Can't wait to share the cover and more for this one.
One last thing...the group I'm part of, The Romance Chicks, has been having fun on our Facebook page and we're ready to celebrate our one year anniversary. We hope you'll join us!
For the past four to five years, I've written in multiple places. Mostly at the kitchen table, but I've also started and completed novels on the couch, in my bedroom, sitting in bed, on the floor, and in my car. At the start of summer, we moved and after a series of decisions that are never really as simple as they seem, my beautiful office became an actual thing.
I have a Pinterest board titled if I ever get an office. I truly wasn't sure I'd ever have one and because I'm a big time self-doubter, I wasn't sure I needed/deserved one. After all, an entire room in our house dedicated to me putting words down on the page not only sounded indulgent, but...nerve-wracking.
What if I put time and money into a beautiful space and couldn't write anymore books! Yes, my husband and best friend rolled their eyes as well. We decided, that should that happen...which so far, thankfully, it hasn't, we'll use this space as a lovely little library.
Which, of course, means I need more books. A lot more books because my "library" is now on my kindles. I do have several of my favorite stories on my gorgeous shelves, but nowhere near the number I used to have. I need to remedy this situation because what better inspiration for writing than being surrounded by books?
It's not quite done, but for those of you who follow my author page on Facebook, you've seen the small steps from beginning to middle to...almost close to the end. It still needs a few things: pictures to go up, a couple more shelves over my desk, and as I mentioned, more books, but it is definitely a dream space, even as is. I love it. My cozy couch arrived last week which allowed me to display my cool bookish pillows (also need more of those).
So if you ever wonder where I spend my time while typing out the words, now you know. Though I can't promise that I won't sneak up to the kitchen table now and again out of habit.
Happy Fall everyone.
It might be early to be wrapping up the summer, but it's passing quicker than I'd like and with a trip to Disneyland coming up, I figured better now than never. Summer 2017 has been a blend of sweet and sad. We said goodbye to one house and hello to another.
We were very sad to say goodbye to our sweet little dog, Lola shortly after we moved in.
Which left our other little pup (and us) feeling pretty down. So very soon, next week actually, we'll be bringing this tiny bundle of fur home.
We've spent our time reading, baking, writing, unpacking, organizing, painting, lazying around and settling in.
Another bittersweet moment was the excitement of my final book in the Kendrick Place Series releasing. I do have another series coming out with Entangled: the For You series, which I'm excited about.
And, in the completely unexpected category, I went up in a hot air balloon!
So what now? Well, I have some very, very exciting news to share that I can't say anything about just yet. But when school starts up, I hope I can share some news about something a little different and a lot fun.
I hope the rest of your summer is great. Anyone have any plans to go anywhere? Any must-reads on your list before summer is gone? My next few reads are below :)
Welcome to Jennifer Shirk!
My first Entangled Bliss publication was set to come out December 5th, 2016. My editor suggested I read one of her other authors as a way to get a better grasp on a specific trope. This was my introduction to Jennifer Shirk. Not only is she a great author-- I really enjoyed Wrong Brother, Right Match, but when I reached out on another trope issue....she was so gracious and helpful. I'll definitely be thanking her for her great advice and guidance on the first book in my new series. And I'll remember her telling me (when I wondered how she was SO good at this), it's easier with someone else's book. Here are Jennifer's answers to this week's Who's Who Wednesday. You can connect with her by clicking on the links below. Thanks for joining me on my blog Jennifer.
Who's Who Wednesday with Jennifer Shirk
What you write.
For those of you who don't know me, I write sweet (and sometimes even funny) romances for Montlake Romance and Entangled Publishing.
Who are your influences?
Wow… so many to name. The first and queen of my influence would be Susan Elizabeth Phillips. But I also love Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella, and Jill Mansell.
Favorite writing snack and beverage.
A lungo espresso (basically an espresso with more water in it) and either a little piece of dark chocolate or my healthy banana oatmeal cookies to go with it.
Hardest thing about writing?
The actual writing. LOL I should say just getting the first draft down. That's the hardest part for me. But once it's down on paper, the editing and making it all pretty and legible is my favorite part!
What you're working on now.
I'm working on the first book of a new 3 book series for the Entangled Bliss line. This is the premise: In a weakened moment, a depressed woman jilted by her longtime boyfriend has a one night stand with a wedding guest at a friend's wedding only to discover he's the man who recently bought her family's suffering business—and now happens to be her new boss.
Thanks so much for having me!
Welcome to my first installment of Who's Who Wednesday. Twice a month, I'll introduce you to some of the great people I've met through writing. I'll ask the same five questions and let you know how we're connected. Connections are an essential part of staying strong on the path to publishing. Having people who understand what you're going through and have been through it themselves is a huge support when you're feeling unsure, need a boost, or want to share something awesome. I'm very lucky to have so many great writing friends and I hope that I'm able to give back even a portion of the support others have given to me.
This week's Who's Who is Lindsey Duga. Lindsey is not only a fellow agency mate (Literary Counsel), but also a fellow Entangled Publishing House author. I'm currently reading one of Lindsey's manuscripts right now and I can tell you, she has a wicked way with words. Her world building actually pulls you right inside of the story. Lindsey was kind enough to take part in the release party I had for More than Friends and through that, I learned that she is also a very talented artist! Check out the drawing she did for my main character, Gabby, from More than Friends. You can learn more about Lindsey through the interview below and by visiting her at her website. Thanks for being my first, Lindsey ;)
Who's Who with Lindsey Duga
What you write:
I enjoy writing both Young Adult and Middle Grade, and with the exception of strictly contemporary, I write all subgenres. I’ve written fantasy, urban fantasy, and science fiction. I’m even hoping to explore historical fiction in both YA and MG in the future.
What I really love doing recently is crossing genres. For instance, I have a middle grade book that is technically sci-fi, but could just as easily be categorized as a mystery or a sports book since the world, plot, and characters have aspects of all three.
I’ve never tried to write for adults because, frankly, the thought terrifies me. Apart from the occasional thriller and high-fantasy, I don’t read many adult novels, but I read TONS of young adult and middle grade books. And of course, what I read influences what I write and how I write it.
So. Many. Things. Being a huge NERD, I derive almost all my stories from a random mash-up of books, cartoons, TV series, movies, video games, and comics.
I could literally go on and on about what show has given me an idea for what story, but instead I’ll try and be concise and just list them out:
Favorite writing snack and beverage:
I don’t usually eat when I’m writing unless it’s candy or something I can easily pop in my mouth and forget about. All of my favorite snacks make my fingers messy—not great for typing on a keyboard.
Almost all my writing sessions start with a cup of tea. Lots and lots of tea. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I make sure at least half the tea in my cabinet has caffeine. Some of my favorite tea blends are: African Autumn, Jade Citrus Mint, Youthberry & Indonesian Gold, Ginger Lemon Mint, Turkish Apple, and Japanese Cherry.
My all time favorite drink while writing is a Starbuck’s Green Tea Frappuccino made with soy milk. I get one every Sunday at Barnes and Nobles when I’m writing or editing. Because they’re $5, I only allow myself one a week. I look forward to it as much as I do writing—it’s like my special treat for making it through the week.
Hardest thing about writing:
There are a lot of things about writing that are difficult, like developmental edits where you worry about one change affecting almost everything else in the book, or pushing through the block you’re having just so you can finally finish that first draft. But I’d say the hardest thing is that writing is, by nature, a solitary activity.
Don’t get me wrong, I love putting in my earphones and banging away at my keyboard with zero human interaction for like three hours…if I’m on a roll. But if I’m not? Well, it helps to overcome that writer’s block, or talk about your edits, or your book cover, or your marketing plan, with someone who understands where you’re coming from. It’s hard to want to go on and on about your book when you might not have anyone available to listen or help you. Which, of course, is why critique partners and beta readers are so critical. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without them. If only just so I can randomly text them and say, “I’m obsessing over my new character. He needs a name. HALP.” And they’re there with a list of names we can go through together. After all, it’s FUN to talk about your story, and it’s hard when there’s no one there to help.
What you’re working on now:
Typically I have two projects that I work on at a time: one that I’m editing and one that I’m drafting.
The one I’m editing is another middle grade book and that crosses genres. It’s about a brother and sister team who are phantoms sent from the Netherworld to steal artwork in post-Victorian London. So it’s a little bit historical, fantasy, paranormal, with a touch of horror.
I’m drafting a YA paranormal romance dealing with nature spirits set in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. I’m only a quarter of the way through, and have a very rough outline, so by the time my draft is done, it could be a completely different book.
…And separate of these independent projects I’m also working with my editor, Lydia Sharp, on my debut novel that’s coming out Summer 2018 with Entangled Teen. My book is a YA Fantasy in which a princess, trained to use her kiss as only a magic-enhancing weapon, must fight evil alongside a prince who is determined to prove that love isn’t just a fairytale.
If you’re interested how this book came to publication, you can check out my blog post about it here.
Also, follow me on twitter and instagram!
Thanks for having me, Jody!
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Lindsey. I look forward to reading your debut from Entangled.
Three days. How did this year fly by and what's changed? In January of this year, I had three books scheduled to come out. Jaded Love with my co-writer, Kara Leigh Miller. Our second and last book for Aniah Press. Falling for Home from Penner Publishing, my first with them and my first chance to hold a book I'd written all on my own in my hands. Damaged came out next...a story I wasn't sure I'd get to share, but am so glad I did.
Since those releases, I signed a three book deal for the Kendrick Place Series with Entangled. I've gotten to work with my wonderful editors, Stacy and Alexa, on two of those books now. The first, as you may know, More than Friends, released this month. Through that release, I met my publicist, (I just really like to say that) Lisa, who is beyond fabulous. In total, including Falling for Kate, I've released four books this year. Next year there'll be three more releases for sure.
Another highlight of 2016, I MET my agent. In real life. She was adorable and completely "New York", which I loved. I queried Fran for the first time in 2013. And now we're on this journey together. A journey which may include some more good news for readers, but we'll save that post for the new year.
I wrote another book. I won a couple contests. I started a NEW book. I met a bunch of truly awesome people online and started The Romance Chicks with my pals Christina, Dylann, and Renee.
Believe it or not, I have a life outside of writing. It's a good one, too. I'm very lucky to be surrounded by so many people that are kind and funny and supportive. My family and I are really enjoying the holidays. My husband and I are both teachers which means we get all of the same vacations. Being paid to stay home and snuggle my girls while watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel is one of my favorite things ever.
We've also managed some festive outings, including a beautiful light maze in Vancouver. We found all nine reindeer, in case you were wondering. The rest of the holidays include writing, more movies, family time, lots of food, and seeing friends.
I'm one of those people who absolutely loves the holidays, but it also makes me a little weepy. It's a reminder that life goes so fast and the years seem to be skipping by. I both love looking forward to things to come and hate saying goodbye to anything that is over. It's a strange contradiction and Christmas/New Year's kind of highlights that bittersweet feeling. I have so much to be grateful for and I never take that for granted.
I hope that you and your families have a magical holiday season. I know that it isn't magical for everyone and for some, it's not even a favorite time of year. But still, I wish everyone a safe and happy rest of December. Thought I'd share some of my photos from our holidays so far. Merry Christmas everyone.
I'm not sure how long it'll be before I stop using Friends references for all things. If you've never seen the one where Ross talks about the night of five times, then you have no idea what I'm talking about. Which is fine. My husband is in your shoes all. the. time.
Summer is coming to a close. Technically, there are still three weeks left but time has a way of speeding by without my permission. All in all, it's been a pretty great summer, despite the lackluster weather. I made it to New York City with my best friend to celebrate my 40th birthday. That was every bit as wonderful as I'd hoped it would be. Not only did we see three Broadway shows and walk the Brooklyn Bridge, I met my agent. And that was, literally, a dream come true.
We've also done some fun family stuff. We've gone down to Vancouver a couple of times, gone swimming, and done some shopping.
In between all of the other wonderful things I've gotten to enjoy this summer...a boatload of book news goodness came my way as well. Sometimes, it feels like all or nothing in this industry. You spend time in a writing cave (or in my case, my bedroom), head down, trying to get the words right. Some days, there's endless chatting online as the words come. Other days, it's quiet. This summer has been not so quiet in the best possible way.
If you didn't see, my three book deal with Entangled Publishing (Bliss Line) was announced this week. I'm already working on notes from my awesome editor, Stacy Cantor Abrams and her assistant.
In addition to this, I posted earlier in the summer that a novella "sequel" to Falling for Home, titled Falling for Kate, was signed by Penner Publishing. I'm very happy to be working with them again on another book. This one is out (tentatively) October 3rd.
If you're counting, that's four and I said the summer of five. The fifth one that I'm really excited about is also with Penner Publishing. This one is called Caught Looking. Between now and the end of 2017, I will have five books released, all signed this summer.
So. Needless to say, I'm seriously excited. And in serious edit mode for the foreseeable future.
Every book I write matters to me. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to know that I'll get to share this many of them with all of you. I'm grateful to both Entangled Publishing and to Penner Publishing for believing in my work. I'm very grateful to my agent, Fran, for believing in me. And I'm extremely grateful to all of the people that help me and support me by forgiving me when I'm late or forget things, read my work-- some repeatedly, talk down my uncertainty, let me bounce ideas off of them endlessly, share in my enthusiasm when things are great and stand by me when they aren't.
And as bonus good news, this morning I was notified that my books, Falling for Home and Damaged were nominated for the Summer Indie Book Awards for 2016! Voting takes place between September 1-11, 2016.
I'm not sure how to top this summer or if I need to, but I definitely know what I'll be doing for the rest of it: editing.
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