Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

Here’s to 2017! December 31, 2016








Wanted to share a quick note to say THANK YOU for an AMAZING year.


This blog continues to bring me so much joy because it connects me to each and every one of you. Your comments and words of encouragement buoy me in both happy and sad times.


In 2017 I promise to keep bringing you original content. The W.O.W., FIRST FIVE FRENZY, and QUITE THE QUERY posts will continue, as will my new series, FIRED UP FRIDAY!


I’ll also be sharing all the craziness that comes with diving back into the query trenches and looking for new ways to get my words out into the wonderful world of readers.


Please know that I appreciate you following this blog, and that in 2017 I hope you will share both your triumphs and tribulations in the publishing world. The only real way to succeed in this business is to keep trying and to rely on your friends who understand your struggles.


Here’s wishing you health, happiness, love, and laughter in the NEW YEAR!











Another Sun vs. Snow Success Story! December 28, 2016

Filed under: Blog,contest,Inspiration,Publishing,Query — chasingthecrazies @ 7:12 am
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Putting together a contest like Sun vs. Snow is hard work. Behind the scenes there is a ton of coordination and frantic emailing going on as Michelle and I try to get all our plans ready for the contest.


And while it does take a ton of time, there are many rewards. One of these is seeing a past entry go on to secure a book deal.


Today, I’m happy to share KD Proctor’s success story. Her entry, MEET ME UNDER THE STARS (formerly IF YOU’RE EVER IN TOWN) was mentored by Laura Heffernan.


Here is KD’s story…


Remember when you were a senior in high school and you did those questionnaires talking about “Where I’ll be in 10 years”?  Here’s what I put down (photo is from my high school’s newspaper ALL those years ago–we won’t get into the fact they spelled my name wrong…)






If you can’t read it, it says:  In 10 years I hope to be working for NASA as an astronaut, hopefully Commander. I wouldn’t be living in (hometown). I would live in Houston, TX.  It’s closer to my job. I wouldn’t be married or have children. It’s too soon out of college.


Nowhere on that little blurb does it say anything about being a published author. I was so determined to be an astronaut that I attended a school with a top notch aviation and aerospace program.  But in college, you learn a lot about yourself. For me, I discovered that quick recall and split second decision making was NOT my jam. Which kind of makes being in a space shuttle a little unrealistic. I changed my major so many times my advisor was sick of seeing me and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences knew me by my first name. When I took my first English Literature class and got to express myself through writing, I was hooked and English is what I finally declared as my major.


My mom’s response:  So…what are you going to do for a job?


As always, mom knew best.  Unlike my fellow English majors I had no desire to write a novel or be an editor or anything related to English at all.   I was drawn to student leadership and ultimately I went into Student Affairs and College Student Personnel—working full time on a college campus, where I still work today (yes, my mom is happy I’m using my Master’s degree).


In my full time job, I work a lot with online learning. I was looking over tools faculty could use in online courses when I came across Wattpad. I had no idea this platform existed. It was incredible!  And that led to an evening where I fell down the Wattpad rabbit hole reading stories by amazingly talented people. A spark was lit. I wondered what I would write if I had the chance?  And that’s when the ball got rolling. Two years, four manuscripts, and countless CP and beta reads later, I had a manuscript that was query ready and I got the nerve to enter Sun vs. Snow in January 2016. I went into it with a completely open mind. When I hit “send” and got confirmation I made the first 200, I remember telling my husband that night at dinner, “Whatever happens, happens.”


It happened.


I got in.


When the list was announced on Super Bowl Sunday, I remember screaming so loud I freaked out the dog.  I had also entered a football pool at work, so my husband thought I had won money (side note:  I did win that, too! Ha!).  I said, “NO!  I got into the pitch contest!” and I made him read the website to make sure my book was listed.  I couldn’t believe it!


I hit the mentor jackpot with Laura Heffernan.  She was so encouraging and positive.  So much so that a few days before our pitches went live for Sun vs. Snow, another pitch contest was happening on Twitter—PitMatch.  The idea was authors and editors were going to do what they could to “match” pitching authors with agents and editors to generate interest in our manuscripts. She encouraged me to enter PitMatch.


Between PitMatch and Sun vs. Snow I was approached by several editors and agents.  After researching each, I sent the requested material to those I felt comfortable with and waited for the results to come back. Within a few days, most had asked for more chapters or full manuscripts—which was incredibly encouraging.


It sounds very “fairy tale” like, doesn’t it?  First contest you enter, you get picked and it’s generating a good buzz!


Needless to say, the clock struck midnight and my carriage turned back into a pumpkin because the rejections started rolling in. Surprisingly, I wasn’t upset. At all.  I looked at every rejection as a way to improve. Thankfully the agents were all so incredibly nice and very encouraging.  But there was a reoccurring theme popping up in almost every single rejection: your voice/plot/character development/writing skills are fantastic….but selling New Adult manuscripts is really hard.


Many of the agents shared that they were looking to see if my manuscript could be voiced “up” (to adult/women’s fiction) or “down” (to young adult).  And every agent said doing so would hurt the story because my voice was so strong.  But I still continued to query, entering another twitter pitch contest and again, the response was high.


With queries circling about, I was surprised to see an offer in my box publish my manuscript with a small, independent publisher.


I panicked.


I had forgotten that I submitted to an editor, too.


I sent Laura (my Sun vs Snow mentor) an e-mail telling her what happened because I realized that I “double queried” which is HIGHLY DISCOURAGED. The rule of thumb is that you should query editors or agents—not both at the same time. I was horrified that I made such a rookie mistake! She talked me through the pros and cons and said not to worry because it happens. She also encouraged me to reach out to agents who did still have my manuscript and tell them of the offer. The publisher, Bookfish Books, was more than accommodating to give me the time I needed to check in with agents before accepting their offer.


Agents were kind enough to move me up in their queue, but in the end, they passed on representation.


With the agent decisions now off the table, I actually felt like Lady Justice with her scales, weighing the pros and cons. On one side, I loved this age category. I loved my story and felt it in my heart that it was THE story that would get me published. On the other side, agents are telling me that the category is hard to sell and when you make a living off selling books, that can make representation hard. Same was true with writer friends who were also querying or were out on submission as they, too, were being told the same thing about New Adult books. But then you see small publishers like Bookfish Books, Entangled and Carina accepting the challenge, publishing New Adult books and doing well with it.


I had to ask myself, “Do you trust your gut that bypassing an agent and going with an editor is a good idea? Or did you jump the gun and are taking the first offer because it’s there?”


In the end I knew the answer…I was trusting my gut. I wouldn’t have queried to Bookfish Books if I didn’t believe in what they did. In the end, with all of the knowledge I gained, and the support of those around me, I was excited to accept the offer from Bookfish Books.  Many raise an eyebrow to small publishers—we’ve heard the horror stories. All I can say to that is do your research and dig DEEP, not being afraid to ask questions. Everyone I talked to at Bookfish Books has been incredibly pleased with their experience. And to date, so am I.  The support I’ve gotten has been well above expectations and I couldn’t be happier.





kelley-headshot-bw  Kelley’s debut novel, MEET ME UNDER THE STARS (formerly titled IF YOU’RE EVER IN TOWN), is a New Adult Contemporary romance and comes out in July 2017.  In July 2016 it was selected as the winner for the 2016 YARWA Rosemary Award in the New Adult category.


You can find Kelley here:

As well as on social media:



Cover Reveal: Jennifer Blackwood’s THE RULE MAKER December 16, 2016

Filed under: Blog,Cover reveal — chasingthecrazies @ 7:11 am
Tags: , ,


Super excited to share the cover reveal for Jennifer Blackwood’s latest release, THE RULE MAKER. This book is a companion to Jen’s USA TODAY Bestseller, THE RULE BOOK.



Here’s a quick peek at Zoey’s story…




Ten Steps to Surviving a New Job:


  1.  Don’t sleep with the client. It’ll get you fired. (Sounds easy enough.)


  1.  Don’t blink when new client turns out to be former one-night stand.


  1. Don’t call same client a jerk for never texting you back.


  1. Don’t believe client when he says he really, really wanted to call.


  1. Remember, the client is always right—so you can’t junk punch him when he demands new design after new design.


  1.  Ignore accelerated heartbeat every time sexy client walks into room.


  1. Definitely ignore client’s large hands. They just mean he wears big gloves.


  1. Don’t let client’s charm wear you down. Be strong.


  1. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the client. You’ll lose more than your job—maybe even your heart.


  1. If all else fails, see rule number one again.



And here is the gorgeous cover…






Cover Design : L.J. Anderson / Mayhem Designs

Model: Kamil Nizinski

Release Date: January 16, 2017

Check out more details on Goodreads






About the Author


Jen Blackwood author photoJennifer Blackwood is an English teacher and contemporary romance author. She lives in Oregon with her husband, son, and poorly behaved black lab puppy. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she’s binging on Veronica Mars episodes and white cheddar popcorn.








Connect with Jennifer




Facebook Author Page:


Facebook Reader Group:


Goodreads Author Page:


Goodreads Reader Group:






Amazon Author Page:





2017 Sun vs. Snow Details!! December 13, 2016



sunvssnow copy2






It’s that time again for THE BIG BATTLE between the heat and the cold! Yes, it’s time for the FOURTH year of Sun vs. Snow hosted by me and the amazing, Michelle Hauck. We had several incredible success stories from last year. This time we have a fun new question and some important details about the entry process. Please read the following THOROUGHLY and then let us know if you have questions.


The submission window for Sun versus Snow will open January 23rd at 4:00 pm EST. 


Act fast. We will only be taking the first 200 entries. Please do not enter early or your entry will be deleted. You can resend at the proper time if this happens accidentally. Confirmation emails will be sent. If you don’t receive one, don’t resend. We don’t want duplicate entries. Please check with us on Twitter first to confirm your entry did or did not arrive, then you may resend. There is only ONE, yes that’s right, ONE entry per person allowed. Any attempt to cheat will result in entries being thrown out. This contest is only for finished and polished stories.


Important note: The story can’t have been in the agent round of any other contest in last three months. This doesn’t mean twitter pitch events with hashtags, but multiple agent blog contests. 


Also, Michelle and I have decided not to accept picture books for this contest. Though we love picture books, Michelle holds special contests just for them. We do accept all MG, YA, NA and Adult genres, excluding erotica. We highly encourage to follow both our blogs so you can get consistent updates about the contest. Click the “follow this blog” button on my blog. You can find Michelle’s blog here.



The Format:


Send submission to Sunversussnow (at) yahoo (dot) com. Only one submission per person is allowed. It doesn’t matter if you write under different names or are submitting different manuscripts. You are still one person and get one entry.


Here’s how it should be formatted (yes, include the bolded!) Please use Times New Roman (or equivalent), 12 pt font, and put spaces between paragraphs. No indents or tabs are needed. No worries if your gmail doesn’t have Times New Roman. No worries if the email messes up your format. Yes, we will still read it! 🙂


(Here’s a trick to keep your paragraph spacing: copy and paste your entry into your email and then put in the line spaces. They seem to get lost when you copy and paste. It may look right but sending scrambles the spacing.)


Subject Line: SVS: TITLE, Age Category + Genre

(example: SVS: GRUDGING, Adult Epic Fantasy)


In The Email:


Title: MY FANTASTIC BOOK (yes, caps!)

Genre: YA dystopian (Age category and genre. New this year! Add “Ownvoices” here if applies)

Word Count: XX,XXX (round to the nearest thousand)

Twitter Handle: (Optional so we can contact you.)



Is Your Main Character hot or cold?


Describe whether your character is hot or cold. Personalities differ. Is your character a person of volatile emotions or are they calm under pressure?


(Can be in your MC’s POV, but doesn’t have to be. 100 words or less.)




Query goes here! Include greeting and main paragraphs. Please leave out bio, closing, and word count + genre sentence. You may include comps if you’d like. There is no word count limit on the query, but please aim for 250 – 300 words.


New this year! You may include if your story is OwnVoices up in the genre line. We really want diverse and talented writers and stripping out the bios sometimes leaves us in the dark.


Remember a query has several paragraphs. Don’t send us a pitch.


First 250 words:


Here are the first 250 words of my manuscript, and I will not end in the middle of a sentence. But I will not go over 257 words. Be reasonable and don’t make us count. Don’t forget to space between paragraphs!



That’s it for now. Get those entries ready for January 23rd and leave any questions in the comments or ask on Twitter.


Mentors and agents will be posted in January. As of now, we have fifteen agents committed to the contest! There will also be some crazy cool mentors who are itching to work with the selected entries! Keep checking Michelle’s blog too because she may be posting BIG NEWS about a FREE PASS to be on Team Snow!


So get those entries ready! We can’t wait to get started!



MONDAY MUSINGS: Daring to Dream BIG!! December 5, 2016

Filed under: Blog,Publishing,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 9:50 am
Tags: , , ,


Monday Musings Image






It’s funny how people in our lives teach us big and small lessons every single day. I’ve been doing this writing thing seriously for five years now and I’ve never really allowed myself to think beyond getting the next book finished.



When it’s come to querying, or even being on submission, I’ve never thought about what would really happen if my big dream came true. Maybe it was to keep my sanity, never allowing myself to believe that something I’d been hoping for since I was a child would actually become a reality.



Even though I’ve had some ups and downs this year, I’ve never thought beyond the next step. My focus has always been on the next word, sentence, chapter. And perhaps because of this, it’s put a damper on allowing myself to contemplate that really BIG success.



It wasn’t until recently that I came to this epiphany, and the lesson I learned came from someone in my own family. For years, this person has focused on a single dream. They’ve been knocked down more times than I can count, but somehow they’ve found the resolve to get back into the fray and keep fighting. Their singular wish has never changed, and they’ve kept their head down and focused on that dream. A little over a month ago, this person finally achieved that reality. Now at the end of this week, this cherished love in my life will step into a national arena and finally realize that goal.  You think being a writer I could put into words how proud I am, but at this moment words truly fail me.



For everyone in my family this moment seems surreal. The family member has talked about this dream since they were very small, and to know their wish will come true is almost incomprehensible.



I’m in awe over what this person has taught me at such a young age, but I’m also very inspired. Inspired to keep working. Keep writing. Where once I felt very defeated by the process, I’m now encouraged to find a new path. To take control of my own writing future, and to finally allow myself to DREAM BIG!



So today, I’d ask you to think about all the people in your life who inspire you. Who have set a goal and then worked to achieve it. I encourage you to let their success motivate you. To think about new paths to reach your own dreams. Hopefully, this will make 2017 an incredible year for you!









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