chasingthecrazies

Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giving Thanks for “small wins” in a Difficult Season November 23, 2016

Filed under: Blog,Publishing,writing,writing craft — chasingthecrazies @ 8:34 am
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I’ll be honest, I’ve kind of sworn off the internet. Every time I log onto Twitter or Facebook, I can actually feel my blood pressure rising. Unless I’ve been promoting my posts, or answering DMs, I’ve managed to stay off social media. I have to admit it’s been nice to be out of the fray for a while. It’s allowed me to write 20,000 words and plan an entire new series. The time away has allowed me to find the joy in writing again.

 

 

This quiet reflection has also brought to light one other thing in my life-the resurgence of the love of family and the small blessings that come with being present in the moment. Too often over the last year I’ve been so focused on the “end game” in publishing that I’ve forgotten about the small joys. A quiet dinner with my family. A bike ride on a sunny, seventy-degree day. The smell of baking pumpkin bread. The comforting hug of a child.  All things that only months ago I took for granted in my quest to reach my dream.

 

 

My break has also afforded me the chance to reflect on all the “wins” I’ve had this year:

 

Writing a book in a new category, genre, and POV!

 

Helping create a local YA/MG writing group that’s built many new friendships and is growing by the month

 

Being a PitchWars mentor and watching a writer flourish

 

Having this blog go over 5,000 followers (THANK YOU!) and introducing a new query series that seems to be helping writers

 

 

In a long year these may not seem like major accomplishments, but for me it’s meant learning and growing. Taking stock of what I put into this world and its effect on others. It may only be a small contribution, but to me it feels HUGE.

 

 

So this holiday season, I ask that you think not about what you haven’t accomplished this year, rather focus on your small victories. The moments that have brought you joy and laughter. The times that have made you think. Reflect. Smile.

 

 

It’s true, it has been a rough year, but perhaps we can all make it a little less dark by remembering who we are and what we love. What fills us up and makes us work for that dream.

 

 

If you’re so inclined, I’d love you to share in the comments one small victory from this year. Whether it be in writing, or your publishing journey, I hope you’ll share a little light today and allow others to rejoice in your small “wins.”

 

 

 

 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Hugs,

 

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

FIRED UP FRIDAY: An incredible publishing journey from Laura Heffernan November 11, 2016

 

In a Monday Musings post a few weeks ago I talked about how too often we see negativity in the writing community. I’m tired of opening social media and seeing authors tear each other down when we should really be building one another up. Supporting each other.

 

With that idea in mind, I reached out to some friends who have had AMAZING publishing journeys and asked that they share (in their own words!) what they went through before they saw their publishing dream realized.

 

My hope is that these posts will light a fire in each and every writer who may be struggling. Who wonder if they can take another month in the query trenches. Or those feeling low from being on submission for what feels like forever. Each post will be proof that if you hold onto that dream, it CAN and WILL come true.

 

 

 

Fired Up Friday – A Post By Laura Heffernan

 

 

Publishing is a roller coaster. Sometimes it feels like there are more downs than ups. Sometimes it feels like you’re stuck, waiting for everyone else to get on or off before you can move at all. Compared to some people, my journey may look like riding It’s a Small World After All. Compared to others, it was a race through Space Mountain. Sometimes I felt like I was spinning on the teacups (and trying not to throw up). And that is one reason everyone will tell you not to compare yourself to other writers. It doesn’t help.

 

 

In October 2013, I started to write the manuscript that would become AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR. My book debuts on March 7, 2017 – three and a half years after I wrote the first words (which have long since been deleted and replaced).

 

 

I’m a fast writer. I started querying in December 2013. Little did I realize that this was a terrible idea, because everyone was querying their unedited NaNoWriMo projects, and while I’d read through my manuscript a couple of times, I didn’t know what a critique partner was. I didn’t have beta readers. No one else read it. And, shockingly – none of the agents I sent it to wanted to read it, either. But, I started researching. I joined Twitter. I met other writers, and that’s where I found out there were contests for writers who were looking for agents. One of the writers I met in that very first contest is a dear friend and critique partner today. One of them is an agent sister.

 

 

Anyway, by some miracle, when I entered Sun vs. Snow that January, Michelle Hauck picked me as an alternate and decided to host a query critique workshop on her blog. This was where–while hanging off a balcony to read my email in Mexico at my sister’s wedding–I learned that I needed to swap with people, get opinions, grow. That was also how I learned how to write. Not just through getting critiques, but from reading and critiquing other people’s work.

 

 

People didn’t like my main character, so I revised. I scrapped the beginning, swapped with a new critique partner…and got an email three days later that it was so boring, she couldn’t read it. That was it. No suggestions on how to fix it. No commentary on the scene beyond the one she objected to. Nothing. Back to the drawing board. I did #CPMatch and I found someone to help me. In March, I entered another query contest. Like the first contest, I sat glued to Twitter while slush readers tweeted out hints. One of them mentioned my plot and said they didn’t like it. Ouch. Even though there were multiple readers choosing for multiple blogs, it hurt. My critique partner got in, but I didn’t. After the picks went up, another reader told me that my main character–who I’d spent many, many hours editing to make nicer and more likeable–was a doormat. Oops. Apparently, I went too far in trying to make her likeable. The most frustrating part was that I knew once people got into the story, it was good. I just couldn’t manage to get to the part people wanted to read.

 

 

Finally, finally, finally, I got a beginning that seemed to work. In April 2014, I was chosen for NestPitch. I got no agent requests. But I had a decent query and a better beginning, and I finally started getting requests from regular queries. I started to feel pretty good. Then I entered Query Kombat, where I was wiped out 7-0 in Round 2. I still haven’t gotten over the judge who said she liked my book, would prefer to read it over the other one – but she was voting for the other entry. No, I don’t know why.

 

 

Not so much a nice ride on the Monorail, is it? (At some point in this blog, I decided I was publishing at Disneyland. Sorry. Just go with it.)

 

 

Anyway, I got some great feedback from Query Kombat, and in July, I got not one, but two agent offers. That was awesome. Savor those small victories. (Side note: I later made a spreadsheet so I could check off the little things as I achieved them. Sometimes we need the reminder of how far we’ve come.) It wasn’t that I queried for an excessively long time, but there were a lot more downs than ups on that road. Over the course of about 7 months, I sent 67 queries.

 

 

Finding an agent gave me newfound faith in myself. Things were great. I was the first person in my small group of writing friends to get an agent. Once we did some revisions, I was so jazzed up, I was certain we’d get a quick sale to a Big 5 publisher – maybe even at auction! Yeah… not so much. Rejections trickled in, most of them the same. Editors liked the book, but didn’t want to buy it. It wasn’t big enough. (I still don’t know what that means, and I’ve heard it about a quadrillion times.) No feedback.

 

 

And then, around the time my critique partners started getting offers from agents, my agent stepped down, and I was transferred within the agency. I was thrilled to work with the other agent (who gets me in ways I never dreamed, even when I’m being weird), but at the same time, I wondered – if my book were better, if it had sold faster, if it had been something editors wanted to read, would my first agent have stayed? (Yes, I know this is stupid but it came on the heels of someone I queried with getting a three book deal despite going on sub after me and another friend getting buckets of money thrown at him after less than a week after his book went out so I was just a swirl of nasty emotions. Plus, it was January. It was dark, it was gross outside, I work from home, and I basically was miserable.) I found out around the same time that every editor who had my book during the first round of sub had turned it down. It had been out several months at that point, so I kind of figured, but – it hurt.

 

 

Anyway, I started working with my new agent. My poor, wonderful agent who had to deal with the stress ball I’d turned into when she hadn’t even subbed my book yet. I spent probably 4 months wondering if someone made her sign me, or if she only took me because she felt sorry for me. (My agent is lovely and wonderful and did nothing to cause any of these feelings. I was just really down, and nothing was picking me up.) We did more revisions, the book went out again and… we waited. We waited and waited and waited. Waiting is agony. Still, we got no useful rejections. No useable feedback. Nothing.

 

 

All this time, in the background, I kept writing. An entire manuscript while querying. A third right after my book went out on submission. A fourth started in January, much darker than any of the others. A fifth started in the summer. A sixth, two weeks after my one-year anniversary on sub. That last one…. doesn’t even make any sense. I wouldn’t begin to know how to fix it, and it’s not even worth trying. I was just in the wrong place to write it.

 

 

Finally, in January 2016, we decided it was time to call it. My agent nudged the editors reading for the last time, and we turned to editing what I thought was the most marketable book I’d finished during the last year and a half (I write fast. We had too many options). While my agent was compiling a sub list–seventeen months after the first submission went out, only days before we planned to start trying to sell something else–she got an offer. When I got an email from her, I actually checked to see if it was April Fool’s Day.

 

 

But it wasn’t! We had an offer. Finally. Then I had to be quiet and keep it all a secret for almost three months until I was allowed to announce it. But now I can happily say that AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR will be the first book in a three-book series, coming from Kensington’s Lyrical Shine on March 7, 2017, with SWEET REALITY and an untitled book to follow. Sometimes I still pinch myself when I get an email from my editor. I’m thrilled with the way things worked out.

 

 

 

AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR

 

SEEKING THE SMART ONE

 

Twenty-four-year-old Jen Reid had her life in good shape: an okay job, a tiny-cute Seattle apartment, and a great boyfriend almost ready to get serious. In a flash, it all came apart. Single, unemployed, and holding an eviction notice, who has time to remember trying out for a reality show? Then the call comes, and Jen sees her chance to start over—by spending her summer on national TV.

 

Luckily The Fishbowl is all about puzzles and games, the kind of thing Jen would love even if she wasn’t desperate. The cast checks all the boxes: cheerful, quirky Birdie speaks in hashtags; vicious Ariana knows just how to pout for the cameras; and corn-fed “J-dawg” plays the cartoon villain of the house. Then there’s Justin, the green-eyed law student who always seems a breath away from kissing her. Is their attraction real, or a trick to get him closer to the $250,000 grand prize? Romance or showmance, suddenly Jen has a lot more to lose than a summer . . .

 

 

 

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AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR is forthcoming from Kensington/Lyrical Shine on March 7, 2017.

Pre-order today!

AmazonBarnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | Apple iBooks

 

 

 

44vc7pg3_400x400Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off: AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR, the first book in the REALITY STAR series, is coming from Kensington’s Lyrical Press in March 2017. When not watching total strangers participate in arranged marriages, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, helping with writing contests, and seeking new experiences. She lives in the northeast with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts.

 

 

Some of Laura’s favorite things include goat cheese, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, the Oxford comma, and ice cream. Not all together. The best place to find her is usually on Twitter, where she spends far too much time tweeting about writing, Canadian chocolate, and reality TV. Follow her @LH_Writes or visit her website, http://www.lauraheffernan.com/

 

 

Laura is represented by Michelle Richter at Fuse Literary.

 

 

COVER REVEAL: RUINED IN RETRIBUTION by Valia Lind November 7, 2016

Filed under: Blog,Cover reveal,Publishing — chasingthecrazies @ 10:42 am
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Thrilled and excited to share the cover today for Valia Lind’s RUINED IN RETRIBUTION.

 

 

 

Gone. Gone. Gone.

 

For the past two months, it has taken all of Logan’s determination to just keep going. Losing Tasia to Kallos Enterprises shattered his world, but he is not about to give up on what she had started.

 

Together with her family, Logan works to destroy the company that ruined their lives. The corporation is growing bigger and stronger by the minute, weaponizing the drug and selling it to the highest bidder. But that’s not the only hurdle to overcome. Logan’s past is catching up to him, and the time has come to pay. His family’s secrets are unraveling everything he has built for himself and now, Logan is fighting on multiple fronts.

 

Save Tasia. Destroy Kallos Enterprises. Stay alive.

 

Such a simple list, such an impossible mission.

 

Time is running out and Logan is left with one question: can he save them all?

 

 

 

RUINED IN RETRIBUTION is Book Three in the Titanium Series.

 

 

 

 

Now for the cover….

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Release date is December 7, but you can pre-order now via Amazon https://amzn.com/B01N00SZRB

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interested in reading the series from the beginning? PIECES OF REVENGE is now FREE via these sites:

 

Amazon: https://amzn.com/B00PVQEXHY

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pieces-of-revenge-valia-lind/1120818358?ean=2940046584172

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/520411

 

 

 

 

 

agqnfjfg_400x400Author. Photographer. Artist. Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, Valia Lind has always had a love for the written word. She wrote her first full book on the bathroom floor of her dormitory, while procrastinating to study for her college classes. Upon graduation, she has moved her writing to more respectable places, and have found her voice in Young Adult fiction. You can visit her online at http://valialind.wordpress.com or follow her on twitter, where she spends way too much time, @ValiaLind.

 

 

 

FIRST FIVE FRENZY with Lauren Spieller of Triada US Literary Agency October 28, 2016

 

 

 

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If you’re like me, you toil for hours editing and fine-tuning the first pages of your manuscript. You look at the first lines to make sure they are compelling and tight. You examine the next few paragraphs hoping your MC’s voice is already taking hold of the reader.

 

The First Five Frenzy is all about getting an agent’s perspective on what works, and what fails, in those first pages of a manuscript. It’s tricky to get the right balance, but I hope by reading each agent’s comments you’ll learn how to make your manuscript a shining gem that’s requested over and over.

 

Today, I’m proud to share Lauren Spieller’s perspective on what’s important in those critical first pages.

 

 

 

 

Amy: Many writers have the impression that a great first line is imperative to drawing in the reader. How important is a first line to you as an agent?

 

 

Lauren: The first line is important, but it’s not a dealbreaker if it needs tweaking, or even a rewrite. What’s more important to me is that the opening pages have tons of voice and conflict that hook me from the get go.

 

 

 

Amy: Many times a writer is told to stay away from common openings like dreams, eating breakfast, riding in a car, etc. What are some common openings you recommend writers stay away from?

 

 

Lauren: I’d stay away from scenes in which characters wake up with no memories, scenes so packed with action that we have no time to get to know the character, and scenes that focus more on “telling” us about the character than “showing.”

 

 

 

Amy: When you’ve responded to a writer to request a partial or full manuscript, what was it about their first pages that piqued your interest?

 

 

Lauren: Voice + gripping conflict = request!

 

 

 

Amy: What are some common mistakes writers make in their first five pages?

 

 

Lauren: Focusing on backstory, starting the conflict after the inciting incident (or too far before it!), cramming the pages with too many characters to keep straight, and relying on clichés.

 

 

 

Amy: What resonates with you most in those first pages? Voice? Pacing? Unique concept?

 

 

Lauren: Voice really resonates with me. The first pages should provide a snapshot of who this character is and what matters to them, as well as what their conflict is (or is going to be!)

 

 

 

 

TriadaUS Literary Agent Lauren Spieller has a background in literary scouting and editorial consulting. She has a sharp editorial eye, and is passionate about author advocacy. Lauren is seeking Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, as well as commercial Adult fiction and non-fiction. Whatever the age category or genre, Lauren is passionate about finding diverse voices. Visit www.triadaus.com for her full wishlist.

 

W.O.W. – Writer Odyssey Wednesday with McKelle George October 26, 2016

 

 

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Every writer has their own path to publication. Some paths are long and winding. Others are a straight shot. No matter the tale, the journey always involves ups and downs, caution signs, and for some, serious roundabouts, but what always remains is the writer’s commitment to their craft and their enduring dream to see their work on bookshelves one day.

 

 

In bringing you the W.O.W. series, I hope as a writer you will learn that no dream is unfounded. That with time, patience, perseverance, and commitment to your craft, it is possible to cross that finish line and share your story with the world.

 

 

Today, I’m pleased to share McKelle George’s writing journey…

 

 

 

 

 

Amy: When did you first begin seriously writing with the intent of wanting to be published?

 

McKelle: 2011. I remember, because I’d been living in Hungary for almost two years. Before then, I’d been studying illustration. I switched to English (which isn’t necessary to write, but it was for me and my focus) when I started university the fall of 2011, and now here we are!

 

 

 

 

 

Amy: How many completed YA manuscripts did you query before one garnered interest?

 

McKelle: One and a half? I queried the first book I ever wrote, and it was terrible, and though I did get a few full requests, it really wasn’t that good and I’m glad it will never see the light of day. The half is because I submitted my next book to a contest before querying, and it got signed with a small press as a result. However, when I signed with my agent with my next book, we got out of the aforementioned contract.

 

 

 

 

 

Amy: How laborious/frustrating was the query process for you?

 

McKelle: It wasn’t easy, exactly, but also not that hard. For my first book, that was because I didn’t put as much time into research because I had no idea what I was doing. For the book that got me my agent, I only queried 20 before it was in the Brenda Drake’s Pitch Madness contest, and also got some requests from #PitMad. From first query to offer was only about two months, and I blame those two contests for propelling my querying process so quickly.

 

 

 

 

 

Amy: From beginning (first draft) to end (signing contract), how long was the process of getting a deal for SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE?

 

McKelle: I wrote the first word of the first draft July 20, 2013. And I had the phone call with the editor who signed my book December 2015. So, two and a half years.

 

 

 

 

Amy: Do you have critique partners? If so, how critical are they to your writing process?

 

McKelle: Yes! Sometimes I will give my manuscripts to other author friends and I always appreciate their feedback. But I have two critique partners who read everything I write. I met them in college and we went on a study abroad to the UK together and are still really good friends. It’s not at all necessary for CPs, but even more valuable than their feedback on my writing is their friendship, so I love being able to call them to get ice cream with me if I need it—as well as critiquing my work. (:

 

 

 

 

Amy: What one thing are you looking forward to most as a debut author? 

 

McKelle: Holding my physical book in my hands, seeing it on a shelf. So many of the “perks” of publishing are not in your control, and every journey is different. But nothing can take away from having the published finished result of your hard work in front of you.

 

 

 

 

 

Amy: What was your “call” like with Katie Grimm? How did you know she was the right fit for you?

 

McKelle: So, I actually had another offer and another phone call with another agent first. After I sent the courtesy will-you-let-me-know-if-you’re-interested-because-I-have-an-offer e-mail to the other agents who had the full of SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE, she was one of the ones who got back to me and was still interested. And her e-mail was like, ha ha, this huge paragraph of things she thought needed to be fixed in the manuscript, and the end of it was basically, “I would expect a lot of work, but if any of my notes are resonating with you, I’d love to chat.”

 

I remember being really stressed out about choosing the right agent between the ones who offered, because there wasn’t a bad choice. Katie had all the professional things I was looking for in an agent (I had a small checklist of qualities), but in the end, it was also a gut feeling. She just sounded so smart and tough on the phone! I knew she was someone I’d want to have in my corner, and someone I could trust to know the business and get things done. I haven’t regretted the choice once.

 

 

 

 

 

Amy: What one piece of writing advice did you receive early on in your career that you still use today?

 

McKelle: I don’t know if I still use it, but I still stand by it, and that was: put your first project aside. It was revelatory to me, to stop picking at the same story again and again. Writing more books taught me way more than revising the first old one.

 

The other thing (and sorry to be cliché and use Stephen King) was reading the book On Writing, and reading the passage that starts: do not come to the blank page lightly. It was the first time it clicked for me that I would need to sacrifice other things to do this, that it was a serious thing that deserved to be pursued seriously, and not just some fun hobby.

 

 

 

 

 

mckellegeorgeMcKelle George is an editor, perpetual doodler, associate librarian at the best library in the world (the Salt Lake City Public Library), and lover of quiet adventures. Her debut novel SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE comes out from Greenwillow/HarperCollins in 2017, and she currently lives in Salt Lake City with an enormous white german shepherd. For more on McKelle, check out her website or follow her on Twitter (@McKelleGeorge).

 

 

QUITE THE QUERY – Laura Brown and SILENCE October 21, 2016

 

 

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If you ask any writer about the process of connecting with their agent (or publisher), the majority will say the most difficult part was querying. Not only the actual process of sending out the letters/emails, but formulating the query itself. In fact, I’ve heard more than a few authors say writing their query took them almost as long as drafting their book!

 

Some people have the talent of being able to summarize their book in a few sentences, but for those who don’t I wanted to provide a resource where writers could learn what works, and what doesn’t, in a query.

 

With that in mind, I’m pleased to share today’s successful query from Laura Brown. This great query connected her with Rachel Brooks at The L. Perkins Agency.

 

 

 

 

 

I would like to present my New Adult Contemporary Romance for your consideration. SILENCE is complete at 84,000 words

 

As a college senior, Carli Reynolds’ goals in life are simple: survive her classes, mask her hearing loss, and suppress her debilitating headaches. If she succeeds, no one will know her internal daily struggle. Goals one and two all but combust when “Hot New Deaf Guy,” Reed, introduces her to a world where hearing loss is not a disadvantage. He breaks her hotness scale as her world shifts off balance.

 

Carli’s disability has hung over her head her entire life, care of her perfectionist father. Through Reed’s hands, her invisible scars heal. He convinces her to learn ASL. For the first time in her life something comes naturally to her. With him she starts to feel whole.

 

Reed discovers her debilitating headaches when she’s stranded without her pain meds. Headaches he deems not normal. Carli continues to straddle the line between hearing and deaf. When Reed discovers she’s abusing her pain pills, she’ll have to decide once and for all to embrace her hearing loss and Reed—or shun them both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Signs of Attraction now available via Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

 

 

 

 

 

FUN TIDBIT: 

 

This query originally led to a full request, and a rejection, as my agent had a different vision of where she wanted the novel to go. When I asked what that vision was, it turned into a R&R (revise and resubmit). I made some major changes, including the title and adding a POV, and the end result has been more than worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

laura-brown-author-photoLaura Brown lives in Massachusetts with her quirky abnormal family, consisting of her husband, young son, and three cats. Hearing loss is a big part of who she is, from her own Hard of Hearing ears, to the characters she creates. She’s represented by Rachel Brooks of L. Perkins Agency. Her NA, SIGNS OF ATTRACTION, was released by Avon in June of 2016. For more on Laura, check out her website (https://laurabrownauthor.com/) or follow her on twitter (@AuthorLBrown)

 

 

 

 

 
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