Are Two Better Than One?

Four years ago, I got the chance to attend RWA Nationals after the venue moved from Nashville to Orlando due to unfortunate flooding. To save money, I planned on staying with a friend who lived forty minutes away from the Disney Swan & Dolphin Hotel, where the conference was held. Then I discovered Marisa Cleveland, a buddy who I’d met three months earlier at my local RWA chapter meeting, had a room in the hotel all to herself. Being the Reigning Queen of Awkward Situations, I crashed her room & took the couch. Little did I know Marisa was a natural introvert & too terrified of me to say no.

Risa & me at RWA Nationals

Risa & me at RWA Nationals

That’s how a beautiful friendship was born 🙂 Now that I’m done with writing my 18 Things trilogy, I’m forcing her into another situation that seems just as counterintuitive to sharing your hotel room with a stranger. Cowriting a novel! Authors are known for being control-freak Jedi masters of our fictional universes. That’s why when I attended utopYA2014, I made sure I attended the panel with Melissa Pearl & the mom and son author duo C.A. Kunz. Here are some of my notes in case, like me, you think cowriting could be a fun, refreshing process that yields a unique story.


Pick someone who is at similar points in terms of both their craft and career & treat each other as equals.

Be honest if there’s something you don’t like. We take criticism personally, but that has to take a back burner in the interest of writing the best story possible.

Make sure you know the other person’s writing style well so the reader doesn’t feel pulled out of the story with two very different tones-different than having two distinct voices, which can work very well because that can be attributed to the characters.


If one person is waiting to hear back for next chapter, but their co-author is too busy and is left waiting when they are ready to move on with the story, it can cause friction. Make sure to set up a writing schedule & stick to it!  Equal commitment & a compatible writing pace is a must. Also helpful are similar tastes. For instance, do you bond over the same books, movies, music, and celebrities (like drool swoon-worthy Theo James)? That’s a good start.


Seriously, Jamie? This is getting ridiculous. I will let you touch my bicep if you leave me alone.

Seriously, Jamie? This is getting ridiculous. I will let you touch my bicep if you leave me alone.

Good idea to pick a person who has a final say in different areas, like grammar, fine-tuning of the plot, and research details. It’s like a choose your own adventure story! If you get stuck, have a bowl with worst case scenarios and pull one out & have that happen to your character.

If you are discussing something serious with the book, do it in person or Skype so your partner doesn’t misread what you’re saying. Email, text, or phone call at least once a day to ensure continuity and the development of a solid story arc, especially as you work toward the finale.

Have you ever thought about working with a partner? What do you think the pros and cons would be?

P.S. Speaking on Cons, I didn’t get the coveted tickets for the “Open At the Close” event at LeakyCon in Orlando on July 30th since they sold out in 5 minutes. If you dress up as a creepy/scary clown in your spare time, or know someone who does, please message me. I’m looking to hire one to chase a ticket holder around until they fork over their pass. Thanks for your help in this matter.

scary clown


A Valentine Treat with Marisa Cleveland and the 18 Things Tour Continues to Sweep the Blog Nation;-)

HaPPy*Valentine’s* Eve!!! And oooh boy, do I have the perfect gift for you!!! A book, of course . . . would you expect anything different from me?
Today marks the release of the Debut Novella for Marisa Cleveland, a very sweet kindred spirit who I met through my Southwest Florida Romance Writer’s Group. She is now a recovering high school teacher turned writer and agent extraordinaire, and she was kind enough to read my manuscript for 18 Things soooo many times that it made her head spin faster than if she’d starred in The Exorcist.  
Here’s the scoop:
Marisa Cleveland’s novella, The Valentine Challenge, debuted from Entangled Publishing! Join the celebration by visiting participating blogs and commenting the answer to this question: In your opinion, what’s the sexiest part of a man?
Between now and February 28th, Marisa’s super secret judges will browse the blogs and choose up to three winners to receive Valentine goodies!
No purchase necessary, but a Like on Amazon is always appreciated!
Title: The Valentine Challenge
Author: Marisa Cleveland
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Flirt)
Genre: Contemporary Romance Novella
Valentine Challenge
Book Description:
When Stacey Bradford’s hot boss convinces his company’s board to close her best friend’s flower shop – days before Valentine’s Day! – Stacey declares war.
Intrigued by Stacey’s devotion to her friend, the hearts and flowers holiday, and belief in true love, Marsh issues a challenge – prove love exists or deliver the closing documents to her friend herself.
Stacey never could resist a challenge, but when Marsh makes Valentine’s Day the deadline for their deal, Stacey must decide how far she’s willing to go…for love.
Author Bio
Marisa Cleveland loves to laugh, hates to cry, and does both often. As a writer, she writes. Every day. Perhaps because she married her best friend, her adult romance novels focus on playfully naughty relationships developed through friendship and family-oriented values. She loves to connect with writers and readers.
Author Links
Website and blog:
Super Amazing Participating Blogs:
*WHat R U wAItiNG fOR?! What do you find sexiest in a man? *cough cough, please keep it PG-13 since I write for young adults*
Oh, and incase you missed it, here’s my guest post on Talynn’s Ink in the Book blog about my sweet first kiss and my inspiration for writing love stories.
And today, I’m visiting England on Rebecca Bradley’s blog, where she asks me this question: How Do I Fit It All In? You can comment on either blog through Friday for a chance to win a copy of 18 Things:-)
Well, I’m off to help lead Youth Group. Hope you had a very happy Over-the-Hump Day! Mine was full of many firsts: TV interview on The Morning Blend, Library Event, then my first Author School visit with some 8th graders who were one HUGE batch of Awesomesauce. I’ll tell ya allll about it later.

WHat ARe yOUr 18 THiNGs? Blogfest (kinda) Signup! Not just for bloggers anymore!

Amazon links are live to purchase 18 Things! Yay–Thanks for your support!

Update: This just in! Tyrean, Laila, Penny, and Tonja Drecker  are my Thursday and Friday winners! Pk Hrezo and Sharon Bayliss are Saturday’s winners! Danielle Bailey and Carrie-Anne are Sunday’s winners! Tangent Shell and Lynn Lovegreen are Monday’s winners! Darlene Steelman and L.G. Keltner are Tuesday’s winners! Julie Myers and Vicki Trask are Wednesday’s winners! Stephen Tremps, Morgan Katz, Kirsten, and Lencre are Release Day Winners!

YAHOO! You helped bring 18 Things to a place of influence today–#3 in paranormal fantasy hot releases, #9 in Coming of Age hot releases, and #36 overall!!! 

Winners, just use the contact button above ^ and tell me which one of the fabulous 18 prizes you’d like:-) If it’s crossed out, that prize is taken (duh! LOL) and Congrats!!!

18 Things  releases in ten days. Can you believe it? You may have to pinch me! It’s been 7 months since I signed my contract, and it really is scary how time flies! But we’re back from our FREE Disney cruise (yes, feel free to slap me out of jealousy), and feeling relaxed, refreshed, and ready to do this thang!

So, I have a one week blogfest planned with lots of giveaways and then blog tour posts planned from January 21st through the end of February! (Full tour info to come, and contest giveaways list is at the bottom of this post.)

Beginning January 17th until release day, January 24th–I’ll be hosting the What Are Your 18 Things Blogfest. This is something anyone, anywhere can participate in.


All you have to do is blog about things on your bucket list.  If you don’t have a bucket list, you should, and now is the perfect time to start! If you’re not sure what a bucket list is (blasphemy!), it’s something completely personal that each person should do (IMHO). It’s a great reminder that gives an extra boost to live life to the fullest and keep us looking forward, even when life wants to drag us down sometimes. Finish a marathon? Read the top 100 books?  I’m looking for fun, heart-pumping, poignant, or inspirational things that you want to want to do, or maybe already crossed off your list. And it doesn’t have to be 18 Things . . . it can be anywhere from 1-18 things (I just needed my title to get out there. Marketing trolls said so!)

Anyone who posts their 18 Things between January 17th-24th can enter to win a number of prizes, including:

*$10 Amazon card from Lindsey Loucks

*$10 Starbucks gift card from Marisa Cleveland

*Signed paperback copy of 18 Things, donated by Marisa Clevleland

*Contemporary Thriller Book, Dead Witness, from Joylene Nowell Butler

*YA Urban Fantasy book, Reaper’s Novice, from Cecilia Robert (2 copies to give away)

*a set of bookmarks, also from Cecilia

*First page critique from Nancy S. Thompson

*ebook copy of Nancy S. Thompson’s contemporary thriller book, The Mistaken

*First page critique from Tonya Kuper, agent intern for The Seymour Agency

*Krystal Wade’s signed copy of Wilde’s Fire

*Jessa Russo’s ebook of her YA Paranormal Romance novel, Ever

*First page or query critique from PK Hrezo

*An 18 page document on Inspirational Tips and Advice for Creative Writing by Taylnn (A.K.A. Ink in the Book)

*A set of inspirational bookmarks (donated by moi)

*an ebook copy of 18 Things

*First page, query, or synopsis (up to 3 pages) critique from Jamie Ayres

*Critique of first 20 pages of W.I.P. from Jamie Ayres

Yes, there are 18 terrific prizes! This is just my way of saying THANK YOU to all you wonderful peeps out there:-) I will use RANDOM.ORG to pick 2 winners each day (4 winners on January 24th–release day!), and winners, you get to choose your prize. So, early bird gets the worm, my friends!

I can’t wait to visit each blog and read your “18 Things.”

Now to the (Kinda) part of this post: Don’t blog? Put the cover of 18 Things or the bucket badge ^ from above up on your FB wall and post your bucket list item under the photo, or pin it on Pinterest with your bucket list item in the comments, or tweet one of your 18 Things. Use the words “18 Things” somewhere to go with the picture and link back to this blog wherever you decide to post. All non-blog entries will still be available for the awesome prizes! Just remember to link to me so I know you participated!!

Bloggers, sign up NOW for the blogfest in the LinkyTool below (and make sure you grab the 18 Things badge to put on your blog). Let’s get this party started!

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Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…


Two weeks ago I was tagged by Marisa Cleveland, Krystal Wade, and Jessa Russo to participate in the LOOK Challenge.


According to the rules of the game, I’m supposed to search my work in progress for the first usage of the word “look,” paste the surrounding paragraph into my blog, and tag as many people as possible. Here’s a paragraph from my YA novel, 18 Things, released later this year by Curiosity Quills Press.

I notice then it looks like Conner’s not breathing. At all. I drop the phone, call still connected, inside the backpack and risk flipping the boat by pulling him up. The fourteen footer tilts and sways, almost dumping me. Breath floats around me as I pant from exertion. My mind flashes to when Conner and I were kids, obsessed with seeing our own air in winter. We’d down hot chocolate and run outside, blowing ‘smoke’ out of our mouths. Now, I can’t believe I have any warmth left in me to cause this phenomenon. One arm clings to the boat, the other to Conner as I haul him up, falling backwards. His body collapses on top of me. His face is chalk colored, like he’s dead.

What do ya think? Hope you enjoyed it:-) Now for the fun part of tagging others . . .

Tuere Morton


Jenny Morris

Janette Dolores

T.F. Walsh

On a sidenote, sorry for not visiting many blogs these past two weeks. I’ve been busy editing & writing, & drowning in teacher stuff now that school’s back in session . . . which is why I haven’t posted the past 2 weeks (don’t think it’s fair to post if I can’t comment/visit others in return). But I promise to be back next Wednesday with lots of pics from the Star Wars Celebration VI. Okay, I shouldn’t “promise” since there’s a hurricane headed straight for us!

~May the force be with you:-)

Introducing *drumroll please* . . .

 . . . Marisa Cleveland. I can’t believe I have the good fortune of interviewing  my fellow SWFRW (Southwest Florida Romance Writers) buddy. I first met Marisa back in March of 2010 at my second meeting of our local chapter. Newbies can bring up to ten pages for a fellow member to critique. She returned my pages the following month and graciously took me under her wing, reading soooooooooo much more of my crap over the next two years. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to land a publishing contract with Curiosity Quills without her help *gives round of applause* So you’re in for a real treat.

Me: Give us 3 words to describe your personality.

Marisa:  romantic infinite dreamer

Me: Very accurate. You and Simon are still so in love I want to puke every time I see you. Ha! Just kidding about the puking part–more like punch you in the face;-)  Tell us about what you write.

Marisa:  I write about relationships.

Me: That’s a sweet way of saying it! (I’ll add that she writes both Adult Romance & YA paranormal novels–talking about herself is not her forte, lol). Can you give us a sneak peek into what it’s like to be an intern at The Seymour Agency?

Marisa: super fun, amazingly insightful, and reading until the words blur on the page/screen

Me: I bet! I’m surprised you don’t need glasses yet . . . maybe reading is your super power, hmm? What’s your favorite craft book for writing? Favorite fiction book?
Marisa: craft book: Whatever I’m reading currently to help with whatever I’m having problems fixing in my WIP. I have a minor *but totally appropriate* crush on Donald Maass, so his Writing the Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction are definite faves of mine. fiction book: too many to name. Atlas Shrugged helped define me in high school, but I will stop whatever I’m doing to read a new release from Susan Elizabeth Phillips or Sherrilyn Kenyon.
Me: Yessss, Phillips is a rock star! Never heard of Atlas Shrugged  *rushes off to open another window and Google it* Okay, last question: Tell us anything fun about yourself, related or unrelated to writing.
Marisa: Fun… hmmm… I’m pretty tame. I save my drama for my characters. But I do have one thing that’s not fun, but it’s sort of interesting. I’m like a vault. I keep secrets better than anyone else I know, and when I have a particularly juicy tidbit, I get a pimple like a twelve-year-old. Like the one I have now on my cheek. 😉
Me: Well, I can attest that Marisa is a very private person, which is why I totally freaked her out at RWA Nationals in August of 2010 when I asked to spend the night in her hotel room and even though I barely knew her, unloaded my entire life story in all its ugliness. LOL . . . somehow she still spoke to me afterwards. Marisa, that wasn’t too painful, right? Right?
Oh, well! You can get to know Marisa better by visiting her blog (well worth a follow), and she’s also fun to Tweet with (psst . . . when she reaches 500 followers, there may be a contest involving an agent involved). Thanks for stopping by, fellow scallywags. If you didn’t know, this is all part of the Buccaneer Blogfest during the month of July and it’s not too late to sign up! Our ship duties today included interviewing the person below us on the blogroll. You can go here to read my interview by A.K. Morgen🙂
~Enjoy your weekend, matey’s!