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Official blog of Kelly Hashway, young adult and middle grade author.
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26. Writer Wednesday: Should You Say Thank You?

Today's topic comes courtesy of Rick Starkey. Rick wants to know if it's too much clutter for an editor's inbox if an author sends a thank-you after receiving a rejection, especially if it's a personalized rejection.

Now, keep in mind that I can't speak for all editors, but for me, getting thank-you emails from authors kept me going during Seek's open submissions period. I received some that simply said, "thank you for getting back to me so soon," since my typical response time was 24 hours or under. (Yes, I'm insane like that.) These emails mentioned how it was nice to get such a speedy response, even if it wasn't a favorable response. My reaction was that these authors understood how busy an editor is and appreciated that I worked so quickly to get back to them. So, I definitely liked getting these emails.

The other kind of response I got was on personalized rejections. Again, these authors were appreciative of the feedback I offered on their submissions, and a few even mentioned how rare it is to get the feedback. Showing you understand that an editor doesn't have to provide feedback but took the time to do so gets you a big gold star in my book. I really enjoyed reading these emails.

So, it's all good, right? Well, not exactly. Here's the exception. I received a few responses that began as thank-you emails and morphed into "since you were kind enough to offer feedback on this book, I have another I think you'll love" and "can I assume you'd be open to me revising based on your feedback and resubmitting?" 

Let's start with the first one. Now, it was an open submissions period, which means anyone could submit any book to me. There was no need to ask. So this email actually came across as "you see potential in me so I'm letting you know I'm sending you something else that you'll hopefully move up in your slush pile because you like me." Now, maybe that's not what the author intended, but it does come off this way to an editor, so be careful about sounding like you think you deserve special treatment. The second response is also a no-no. If an editor wants you to revise and resubmit, he or she will tell you that. Otherwise, consider it feedback to help you get the manuscript ready to send out to other editors.

If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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27. Monday Mishmash 9/28/15

Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. YA Scavenger Hunt  I'm excited to share that I'm on Team Orange for the YA Scavenger Hunt. It will run from October 1st to noon on October 4th. That means' I'll be posting on Thursday instead of Friday this week. There are tons of books to win on this hunt, so be sure to stop back on Thursday. Oh, and in case you noticed, I am on Team Orange for Our Little Secret, my new Ashelyn Drake title too. :) I'll be sharing exclusive bonus scenes told from alternate POVs, but they'll only be online during the 72-hour hunt, so don't miss out.
  2. Editing  I'll be editing for Leap this week. This is probably the fourth time I'm reading this book, which is why an editor must LOVE your book, because I'll read this at least four more times before the book is published.
  3. Monthly Newsletter Change  I've decided to release my free monthly newsletter on the first of every month instead of the first Monday of every month. The reason is that some months begin on a Tuesday and I feel like it takes to long for that first Monday to roll around. So, expect my newsletters in your inboxes on the 1st from now on. If you aren't signed up to receive my newsletter but would like to, click here.
  4. I Wrote An Adult Novella?  You know me. I say I'll never do something and then, guess what? I do it. I said I'd never write for adults. I'm a children's author. Well, I am, but I just finished a novella for a boxset last week and it's a clean adult romance. So, I guess Ashelyn Drake writes romance for teens, new adults, and adults now. ;) 
  5. Our Little Secret  I want to thank everyone who has already posted a review of Our Little Secret on Amazon. Reviews are so important as far as Amazon promoting the book and placing it in the eyes of potential readers, so I really appreciate every review, whether the reader loved the book or it wasn't for them.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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28. Friday Feature: Seeker by Amy Reece

The Seeker Series by Amy Reece
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
SEEKER - Book #1: http://amzn.to/1eNLjLI
DREAMER - Book #2: http://amzn.to/1eNLlmO
SEER - Book #3: http://amzn.to/1P0lx3R
ORACLE - Book #4: http://amzn.to/1M0JNTr

SEEKER, The Seeker Series #1
Ally Moran has always just known about things—things she shouldn’t really be able to know…
Suddenly when she starts having vivid visions about a former friend who is in desperate trouble, the adults in her life think she might hold the key to an ancient mystery.
Jack Ruiz has a troubled past, but is trying to make a fresh start at a new high school…
He just wants to keep his head down and graduate, hopefully before he turns 20. The last thing he needs is to get involved with a feisty redhead and her psychic visions.
While Jack valiantly attempts to keep Ally at arm’s length, she is equally determined to be a part of his life. Who will win this battle of wills?
More importantly…
Can this unlikely couple work together to find answers to Ally’s visions before someone gets killed?

DREAMER, The Seeker Series #2
Meet Ally Moran, a 17 year-old who also happens to be psychic. Oh, and she’s getting more psychic with every passing day, so much so that she’s been sent to Ireland to check in with the Seer Council to see what’s up with her freaky new powers.
Jack Ruiz is her 19 year-old boyfriend, a former troublemaker who’s back on track and trying desperately to graduate. His plans did not include falling in love with a psychic trouble-magnet.
Last month they worked together to save a friend in deep trouble and ended up solving a school-wide mystery. But now there’s a new guy at school, Remy Giles, and he seems just a little bit too interested in Ally for Jack’s liking. And why does Ally keep dreaming about a kidnapping? Last month seems like a cakewalk compared to this semester…
Ally's trying to solve a mystery, but Jack is just trying to keep her alive.

SEER, The Seeker Series #3

Ally Moran and Jack Ruiz are starting their first year in college and are looking for peace and quiet for the first time in their relationship…
However, it may be too much to hope for.
First, Ally’s long-lost father shows up, making her question everything she thought she knew about her past.
Meanwhile, Rémy Giles and the mysterious Mina have accompanied Ally home from France so they can try to figure out what the newest prophecy could possibly mean.
Is Ally the next Oracle?
And if all this weren’t enough, Ally fears she is being stalked, and she appears to have a secret admirer who is sending her creepy personal messages in the college newspaper. However, no one else has seen this “supposed” stalker, so she fears she may be going crazy.
As Jack and Remy fight to keep Ally safe against the looming danger,
Ally begins to fear for the one thing she can’t bear to lose…her sanity.

"Ally was just telling me that her young man has joined the military. I think that is very noble." Kate put her arm through Rémy's and pulled him along with us deeper into the garden. "Oh, yes. Jack is all that is noble and good," Rémy said, dripping sarcasm. "He is so good that we mere mortals must bask in his virtuosity. Oww". He rubbed the arm I punched. "Now, children. You mustn't fight. Don't make me send you to your rooms," Kate teased. "We must make good use of Ally's limited time here to try and figure out what you two have to do with the prophecy. It would be so much easier and make more sense if you were destined to fall in love with each other," she sighed. I swallowed another bite of sandwich. "I really don't think prophecies should go around telling people who to fall in love with. That's not right. I didn't choose to fall in love with Jack; my heart chose him and I had to go along with it." They both stopped in the path and stared at me. "What?" I asked. "That was very beautiful, Ally. And very profound. I can see I would be wise not to underestimate you, my dear. Now," she said as she led us briskly down the path, "why have you two been brought together, if not to unite the clans through a marriage alliance?" The mere thought of marriage to Rémy made me cringe. I mean, he was gorgeous, but we would kill each other in about an hour. "You don't think we can bring the clans together any other way than marriage? That's really limiting, you know? Not to mention medieval." Rémy snickered and Kate gave him a dirty look. "Ally is correct. And far, far in the future, when I begin to look for a wife, I will require someone a good bit more biddable than Ally," he said. "Yes," I sneered. "You'll need someone who adores you nearly as much as you adore yourself." "Remind me why I went to the trouble of bringing you a sandwich?" "Children," Kate warned. "Sorry," we both murmured. "Now, we must use what little time we have for Ally's visit to try and figure out what in the world is going on with you two. We will have to run various tests..."

ORACLE, The Seeker Series #4
Spending her junior year in college in France should be the adventure of a lifetime…
Too bad Ally Morans’s only doing it to keep her family and friends safe from a killer. When Mina goes missing, the illusion of safety disappears and Rémy must finally confront his feelings for her.
Jack has been patient for a year, but he can only be pushed so far before he takes matters into his own hands and flies to France to bring back the feisty red-haired psychic he loves.
Love may conquer all, but the identity of the true Oracle is still up in the air.
Until that’s settled,
no one can have a happily-ever-after…

I tried to relax as I watched people hurry by on the busy street. A young mother pushing a stroller stopped and sat at the table next to me, motioning to the waiter for a coffee. She wilted in her chair only to sit up again and fuss with the sleeping baby’s blanket. She noticed me watching and we exchanged smiles in that universal way of women admiring a beautiful baby. I looked away and sighed. Would that ever be me? I was twenty years old, living in a foreign country, and I was lonely. Jack and I communicated every day—text, FaceTime, email, etcetera—but it wasn’t enough any more. I needed to be with him: to hold him, kiss him, live with him, and yes, sleep with him. I was ready to move on with my life, but this unresolved situation with Luc was holding me back. As if I had conjured a response with my thoughts, my phone dinged a text notification. It was from Jack and consisted of a two word response to my email:

Come home.
I smiled and reached to wipe away a tear as I prepared to text him back.

“Cherié! I thought I might find you here!”

“Rémy! You’re back early!” He kissed both my cheeks before taking the chair opposite me. I noticed he and the young woman at the next table giving each other a once-over and rolled my eyes at him.

“What?” He shrugged.

“You just can’t help it, can you?” I laughed. “Flirting is like breathing with you, isn’t it?”

He shrugged again and caught Marc’s attention to order a beer. “Where’s Mina? I tried to get her on her mobile, but it went straight to voice mail.”

I cocked an eyebrow at him and smirked. “She turns it off when she needs to concentrate. I’m sure she’s at home working. Drink your beer and then we can go see her.” Although we had all improved our mental communication abilities over the past year, we had all also agreed to respect each other’s privacy to a much greater degree, only invading each other’s thoughts in the case of a true emergency, which had not happened so far this year. In fact, this year had been mostly an exercise in boredom, filled with school, training, and waiting.
Amy Reece lives in Albuquerque, NM, with her husband and family. She loves to read and travel and has an unhealthy addiction to dogs. She loves wine and friends, in that order. Stay tuned for The Stone Chronicles, coming soon.
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29. Writer Wednesday: How Long Does It Take Editors to Decide to Acquire a Book?

Today's topic comes courtesy of Johnell DeWitt. Johnell wants to know how long it takes an editor to make a decision after they've requested and read a manuscript.

For me, it's immediate. I have to love a book to take it on. I stop reading a submission when I realize I'm not in love with it. That means if I make it to the end, I loved it. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to send off an offer right away though. At this point I know I want the book, but the next question is how does the book fit into the current line for Seek? The book has to be a good fit for the company. If it is, then I'm ready to offer. If it's not...

Two things could happen at this point. I could regretfully pass on a great book because it's too similar to another title or doesn't fit the line for another reason (like maybe the word count is a lot higher than Seek's other titles). Or, I might email the author to see if they are willing to make changes to have the book fit our line better. Now, the author might not want to make the changes (which is totally fine), and at that point, I wish him/her luck in finding a home for the book. If the author is willing to make the changes, I'm ready to offer a contract.

So, that's what it looks like on the other side of my submissions desk after I read a manuscript. I'm sure other editors might have a different process, but hopefully you find it helpful to hear about mine.

*If you have a topic you'd like me to cover in a Writer Wednesday post, feel free to leave it in the comments.*

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30. Monday Mishmash 9/21/15

Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Revisions  This weekend I finished revisions on one of my YA titles. It was fun to revisit a book I haven't looked at in a while.
  2. Editing  I have client edits to work on this week. No surprise there. ;)
  3. School Pictures  I'm helping out with school pictures tomorrow. It's always fun to see the kids all dressed up.
  4. Leap Submissions  I'm hoping to get through some Leap submissions this week. With upcoming releases, they've been getting pushed to the back burner.
  5. Our Little Secret Blog Tour  This week is the blog tour through Inkslinger PR. So far, my little book is holding its own out there. I'm hoping the tour will help spread the word even more.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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31. Friday Feature: Our Little Secret

“Is there a difference between a secret and a lie?”

Now you can find out!

Our Little Secret released on Tuesday and is now available in both print and ebook!

“Is there a difference between a secret and a lie?”

Becca Daniels needs a passing math grade…but what she wants is to spend more time with Toby Michaels. 

The only problem is Toby is her best friend’s twin, and Tori has a very firm “no dating the brother” policy. 

But Becca’s grade has hit rock bottom and she needs a tutor. It just so happens that Toby is a math genius and more than happy to help—lucky her! Working so closely with the handsome, popular Toby, Becca can’t hide her attraction, and it soon becomes obvious he feels the same way. 

Becca doesn’t want to lose her best friend, but she isn’t willing to give up Toby either. 

At first, sneaking around is fun, stealing kisses right under Tori’s nose. But things take an ugly turn when Toby’s ex-girlfriend Meredith catches them together. Meredith demands Toby take her back and restore her reputation, or she’ll tell Tori their secret. Do they dare tell Tori the truth? Or would that just make things worse? 

Surrounded by secrets and knee-deep in deception, something has to give… 

How far is Meredith willing to go to keep Toby and Becca apart? 

And how much is Becca willing to risk to keep… 

Our Little Secret?

Add the book on Goodreads and order it on Amazon or B&N.

And to celebrate, I'm giving away an Our Little Secret SWAG pack, complete with pencils, stickers, an Our Little Secret folder, and trading cards. Enter on the rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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32. Writer Wednesday: Do Editors Google Authors?

Today's topic comes courtesy of Miss Leandra Wallace. Leandra wants to know if editors check out an author's site if they are interested in their work.

Why, yes. Yes, we do. :) If I really love a submission, I definitely get curious about the author. So I look them up. What am I looking for? Well, I want to see that you are active on social media. That could mean a lot of things though. Some authors like to have websites that include any books published, a bio, and little more. Some are all over social media: Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, you name it. Others just blog and leave it at that. Basically what I'm looking for is that you are willing to interact with readers and you have a place for readers to find you and contact you.

So don't feel you need to join every social media site out there. Actually, don't. I'd rather see a writer join a few and be interactive than be on a ton of sites and never post. So choose what works for you and do that well.

Now if I can't find an author, this would prompt me to ask him/her about his/her online presence. It doesn't mean a definite pass on a manuscript, but I'd need to know that the author is willing to build an online platform—and well before the book's potential release date.

*If you have a topic you'd like me to cover in a Writer Wednesday post, feel free to leave it in the comments.*

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33. Monday Mishmash 9/14/15

Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Our Little Secret Releases Tomorrow!!!  I can't believe tomorrow is release day. I'm SO excited. I love this book so much, and it's so incredibly beautiful in person. You can order it on Amazon or B&N.
  2. Scholastic Book Fair  I'll be helping out with the Scholastic Book Fair today through Thursday at my daughter's school. I always have fun doing these because…well, books!
  3. Drafting  As of last Friday, I'm officially drafting again. Woo hoo! Let me say that again. Woo hoo! I couldn't be happier after having to take a few months off due to my packed editing schedule. Writing feels so good!
  4. Back-to-School Night  My daughter's open house is Thursday night. I'm looking forward to meeting her teacher and learning more about third grade, which has already been killer as far as testing goes. Crazy!
  5. Our Little Secret Swag Giveaway  Stay tuned this Friday for a SWAG giveaway for Our Little Secret. The giveaway will also appear on my Ashelyn Drake blog tomorrow for release day.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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34. Friday Feature: Love Defined

In their final summer before graduating college, three childhood friends expect an uncomplicated transition to adulthood…but learn they all still have some growing up to do. Alex Makapulo is facing a crisis of faith. Raised a Catholic, Alex is considering becoming a member of her best friend Jack Page’s church—against her family’s wishes—but she can’t quite take the final step of baptism. Jack loves Alex and doesn’t understand her hesitation, and Alex wonders if Jack’s love is a blessing or a distraction to test her religious conviction. Lori Hanson embarks on the trip of a lifetime. For her twenty-second birthday, Lori’s grandfather presents her with a summer vacation in England. While preparing for her adventure, she meets British musician Colin Watson online and quickly falls for him. They plan to hook up when she lands in London, but her grandfather forbids it. Due to complicated family dynamics, Lori must regretfully comply with his wishes, though she vows never to forgive him. Andy Taylor is looking for love in all the wrong places. When Andy runs into an old crush, she decides she wants a more meaningful relationship with sexy Miles Webber. But when she confides in Alex, her friend warns her Miles only wants her for sex. Andy becomes angry and devises a reckless plan to distract Alex’s attention from her relationship. Things don’t go quite as she expected, though, and Andy is left facing a crushing moral dilemma. As the summer unfolds, three young women learn love and faith go hand in hand, not everything is black and white, and sometimes in a fast-paced world you have to slow down, breathe a little, and find your own definition of love.

Andy: Excerpt # 1
Alex walked in carrying groceries. “Still haven’t gotten through?” She stopped in front of her and arched an eyebrow when she saw a glass on the coffee table. It was a martini glass with an olive swimming in clear liquid. “Is that what I think it is?”
Andy stifled a groan. Alex with her rules of no-alcohol in the house was backed by the equally uptight owner, Lori. She figured that with Lori gone and Alex spending more time with Jack that she could get away with breaking a few rules.
“What do you think it is?” She asked sweetly. She lifted the glass and sipped, batting her eyelash at her.
“Alcohol,” Came the curt reply.
She lifted a shoulder before downing the rest of the drink. The warm liquid hitting her empty stomach. “It’s a martini. Want one?”
“No thanks, dear,” Alex replied with the same false saccharine tone, “I typically try not to get wasted before breakfast.” She finally ventured into the kitchen to put up her groceries. Andy followed and watched her careful put everything away.
“Alex,” she wailed, looking at the packaged sugars and processed carbs in front of her. “I told you I’m on a diet.” Her stomach lurched at the peanut butter and the jelly Alex was now putting up.
Alex frowned. “So? I’m not on your no carb, no sugar, alcohol only diet, thank you very much!” She put some goldfish crackers, Milano cookies and popcorn in the pantry. “The alcohol isn’t really helping you. It has calories, you know.”
“Beer has calories, but liquor doesn’t. What did you think of Miles?” She asked, trying to take her mind off of the foods she couldn’t have and equally cursing Alex for her genetics.
“Have you ever seen a skinny alcoholic? I took a nutrition class and one gram of alcohol equals seven calories. The fact that you’re not sleeping also damages your metabolism, thus causing weight gain,” she paused and regarded Andy. “I already told you what I thought of Miles. He’s a pothead and there’s something about him I don’t like.”
Andy stood in tiptoes to open a cabinet on top of the refrigerator. She reached and pulled her vodka bottle down, immediately scrutinizing the bottle. She frowned at the nutrition label and smiled sheepishly, “I don’t know how many grams are in a drink.”
She caught a package of red and white out of the corner of her eye. “Hey, you said you’d stop drinking coke!”
Alex opened the fridge door, causing Andy to take a step back. She put the 12 pack into the fridge and closed it. She took the vodka bottle from Andy and tried to read the label.            
“And he’s not a pothead,” Andy paused, “anymore. He just drinks occasionally.”
Alex widened her eyes at her and gave her back her bottle. “You know when I say these comments to you, sometimes they’re a joke. I don’t expect them to be real at all.”
She turned and finished putting up the rest of her groceries. “Are you sure you’re alright hanging out with these alcoholics who used to be druggies?”
“They are not alcoholics!” She pointed out. Andy hated these conversations. Anything she told them about, the self-righteous Alex would bombard her with insults and lecture her about hanging out with the ‘wrong crowd.’ You would think she still lived with her parents with all these rules she was supposedly breaking. She tuned out Alex who had turned back around to face her, opening and closing her mouth like a fish.
“Are you listening to me?” Alex demanded, shaking her briefly out of her thoughts. She just nodded, but didn’t reply. She was tired of explaining herself. Isn’t it a normal rite of passage for young twenty-something college girls to lose their good girl persona and just have fun, be wild and free? She blinked when Alex suddenly swung around and marched down to her room.
She turned when she reached her door. “I don’t like talking to someone who is clearly not paying attention to me!”
Andy rolled her eyes, “I’m sorry, but I’ve heard it all before, Alex. You give me the same speech practically every weekend.” And each one with more gusto than the last. “I just asked what you thought of Miles.”
“And I answered. You already know how I feel about him. You’ve been asking me for days now. No, I don’t think he’s right for you or that he’s changed. He’s still using you just like last time.”
“No, this time, it’s different.” The words sounded hollow, and she knew it. She needed to sit down and have another drink. She turned around and sat on the couch, opening the vodka bottle and pouring some into her martini glass.
“Have you two been on a date, yet?” Alex sat beside her, wrinkling her face as she watched Andy drink the contents. “And I don’t mean meeting at the bar, or his house or going to a party type of date. I mean having dinner and movie type of date.”
She shifted trying to look causal, but the hesitation already answered Alex’s question. “Well, that type of dating is out dated, anyway.” She flipped her blonde locks behind her back. “I’m already in a relationship with him and we don’t need to go on a date because we’re already dating.” I think.
Alex narrowed her eyes at her. “Do you know how delusional you sound right now?”
“We can’t all pray and have the perfect guy right there waiting for us the entire time. Most of us have to go find them on our own!” Andy managed to spat out.
“Well maybe that’s something you need, Andy.” Her voice softened. “Why don’t you pray about the perfect guy? You are worth it and this guy isn’t worthy of you.”

Alex: Excerpt # 2
“Do you think no matter what we do, we are still forgiven?” Somewhere between Francesca Battistelli's He Knows My Name and Casting Crown's I Will Praise You In The Storm, Andy finally spoke.  “I mean.” Andy stopped.
The last song had reached its thunderous ascent and rolled towards the finish. Alex had barely heard her and for a second, thought that perhaps she had imagined it. Almond shaped brown eyes locked briefly in the mirror with a pair of big blue eyes and Alex waited, expecting Andy to go on.   
She didn’t. Instead, Andy broke eye contact and turned her head to face the window.
“Yes.” She finally replied. Andy jerked up, and the two caught each other’s gaze again before Alex had to look back at the road again, frowning. “We can be forgiven as long as we ask for forgiveness, and repent and promise not to do it again.”
Another song began and once again replaced the gap of silence. Alex turned her head this time to see Andy’s eyes closed, headphones on, effectively dismissing her. She sighed out loud and set her sights on the horizon.
Lord, I pray this won’t be the last time she asks about forgiveness.
Skyscrapers of oil and energy giants glistened as they neared downtown Houston. After some guidance with the GPS, her car pulled up into the tightly spaced parking lot of the Women’s Clinic. The brick building was among other non-descript buildings that they could have easily passed by. A lot better than a little backroom, Alex surmised.
“How did you find this place?” Lori asked reluctantly. Alex got out of the Volkswagen and immediately wanted to retreat back inside. The thought of what took place inside started to make her stomach churn. Despite the blaring sun and Texas humidity, she shuddered.
“The internet.” Andy mumbled the answer as she was getting out of the car.
The three of them stood in the parking lot, in a small circle, looking at their surroundings, the traffic behind them, and nervously at each other.
Alex fixed her eyes on Andy. She wanted to say that ‘You have to forgive yourself and then ask for forgiveness.’But her lips couldn’t form the words. She had three hours on the drive to craft the perfect words to get through to Andy and yet, here they all were, under the Texas heat, in the middle of a parking lot, shivering with nerves and barely registering each other.
After a brief period of silence, Alex cleared her throat. “Andy, you can still change your mind.”
“I know.” Came the softest reply.
Alex’s jaw tightened, and she looked at her feet to hide her feelings once more. Again, her brain tried to tell her lips to formulate the words it wanted and she looked up to open her mouth again and frowned when no words would come. Again.  
This time, Alex searched her friend’s beautiful face and prayed that somewhere in those blue eyes, she could find the one thing for her to go ‘Aha! You’re just as scared as I am. You’re just as doubtful about this thing. Let’s get out of here.’ Her heart sank when instead of those things she hoped to find in her friend’s eyes, she found a quiet and settled determination.
She swallowed the defeat, shoulders hunched down and felt there was only one more thing left to say. “You are loved, Andrea Grace Taylor, remember that. Find your courage.”                       
Andy just nodded with the faintest smile on her lips
“Okay, you guys.” Alex said trying to keep her voice light and tried to respond to Andy’s smile. It wasn’t working. “I’ll be at the Barnes & Noble we saw on the way here. Call me when you’re done.” She was heading for the car, when she turned around and added, “Call me if you change your mind.”
A few minutes later, she maneuvered in and out of traffic, half concentrating on finding the bookstore. The other remained back at the parking lot of the clinic. A bright green Scion cut in front of her with a slew of bumper stickers. Coexist and Got Jesus, but Alex fixed on the yellow sign with black letters that read “Headed in the wrong direction? God allows for U-Turns.” Andy. Dear God, am I doing the right thing?

Lori: Excerpt # 3
Half an hour later, Pete and Lori moved into a bigger room with a tiny balcony on the sixth floor. This time the décor wasn’t as grotesque as downstairs. Its deep crimson carpet accented the beige with crimson stripped bedspread and pillows.
“It matches,” she groaned happily hugging the pillows to her chest before walking over with her luggage to a small closet to unpack. She took out a chrome folding luggage rack and lifted her suitcase on top of it, to have better access to her clothes and keep her clothes off the carpet. She was a bit of a germaphobe and had a thing about setting suitcases on hotel floors. Images of roaches, bed bugs or whatever else might crawl into the dark crevice of her luggage that would become new roommates when she got home made her shiver. She pulled two different pairs of flip-flops; one to walk around the hotel room in and the other to shower with.
“Where’s the adapter?” Pete asked, rummaging through his luggage. She shrugged and took out her phone and camera from her backpack that was on the bed. From her suitcase, she took out bath supplies and a change of clothes.
“When are we meeting your friend?” She looked up and saw him regarding her, curiously.
“I told him to meet us in an hour and a half.” She tried to find the accessories for her wardrobe that were key pieces in her first impression outfit date. She and Alex tried all sorts of outfits, but that seemed so long ago and she couldn’t remember what went with what. She ended up choosing a pale blue floral print romper and paired it chunky cobalt necklace with matching studs that brought out the color in her eyes. She laid the accessories next to her phone and camera.
“I forgot, where did you say you two met again?” He stopped looking for his adapter and settled in a small chair by the window.
For a moment, Lori thought about telling him the truth and confessing that she met Colin online, but the chances of him agreeing to meet the guy was slim to none. “He was an exchange student I met in high school.” She figured that was a borderline truth as she met a lot of exchange students in high school. It stands to reason that someone there could have been named Colin or be British. I mean, who really keeps track of these things? She thought, rifling to the bottom of the suitcase to find flats.
“What does he do?”
“Grandpa, I told you all about him a few months ago.” She was starting to get annoyed and a little worried that her story might have gotten mixed up since then. “You’ll meet him later and you can ask him yourself.” And before he could start again, she grabbed her clothes and went to the bathroom.
Fully refreshed minutes later, Lori started to feel confident about her trip. She looked around the room for an outlet to plug her curling iron in. “Grandpa, do we have any extra outlets or what?”
He was by the vanity sink brushing his teeth and washing his face. “No, just unplug my video camera. It’s over there by the desk.” He started humming a song she didn’t recognize. She went to a small desk that was flushed against the wall.
There was a mirror that was hanging over the desk that she was thankful for. She sat down on the leather desk chair and looked at the outlets just below and to the right of the mirror. A tall lamp by the desk illuminated the two used outlets. One was being occupied by the lamp, and the other, by Pete’s video camera. The video camera had been charging for a few minutes and she noticed that the battery level was at its peak. She quickly unplugged the camera and replaced it with her curling iron. The second she turned it on, she was astonished by the spark that instantly came alive in her hands. Without warning, the room went dark and the hum of the air conditioner stopped altogether.
“Christ!” she heard Pete cry in the dark. “What happened?”
Lori still had her curling iron in her hand and it dawned on her that she might have blown a fuse. She stood up slowly and everything about the past two days washed over. Without any care or thought about what it might look like, a twenty two year old woman, curling iron in one hand; Lori Hanson, who rarely cried, wept for the second time in just a thirty six hour period.
“I think I blew a fuse,” she cried between sobs. She was becoming increasingly aware of the noises outside their door. That must be the other guests wondering what happened. “This is a sign!”
Pete groped his way in the darkness and patted her shoulder. “Now, now, Lori, honey. You don’t believe in signs, remember?”
If that was an attempt to make her feel better, then he didn’t know his own granddaughter very well. She wiped her tears and tried to coherently ask, “What are you going to tell them downstairs?”
Pete thought a minute. “Well, the truth, I guess. They have lousy outlets and a cheap wiring system. I don’t know, but just calm down.” He made his way to the door and opened it. She was treated to a chorus of several foreign languages mixed with English that belonged to at least twenty people down their hall. They didn’t sound very friendly at all and Lori could only hope that Pete would tell them lies so they wouldn’t be the most hated people in London.
Lori wiped her tears. If she thought this afternoon was a sign, then she didn’t think about what her grandfather would really think about seeing London with a stranger. She tried not to think about it. You don’t believe in signs, she told herself, this is just a weird coincidence. She breathed deeply and reached over to unplug her curling iron. More sparks came her way; causing her to groan and sit back on the chair with a thud.

Twitter: @LeilaTualla

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35. Writer Wednesday: The Dreaded Synopsis

Today's topic came courtesy of Sherry Alexander again. Thank you, Sherry, for offering such great topic suggestions. Sherry wanted to know what an editor wants in a synopsis.

During Seek's open submissions last month, I requested the query, first three chapters, and a synopsis. Now, I'm going to be honest. I only read a few synopses. I know, you're probably thinking, "Then why did you ask for one if you weren't going to read it? Don't you know writers HATE having to write a synopsis?" Yes, yes I do. But here's the thing. Editors go through submissions rather quickly. I read the query and if the query interests me, I go directly to the opening pages. If you keep my interest, I turn to the synopsis to see how the rest of the story plays out.

So what am I looking for when I read your synopsis? Two things. First, I get that a synopsis is not the most fun thing to write, but keep in mind that you want to keep the editor's attention. So make sure the voice of your story comes through in the synopsis. A trick is to let your MC write the synopsis and then convert it to third person. (This is a great trick for writing your query letter blurb, too!) Also, pretend you are telling a friend about this great book you just read (or movie you just saw), only get spoilery. You have to include the ending in a synopsis, so don't forget to do that. One of the reasons why I look to a synopsis is to see how the story will carry from the conflict to some sort of resolution. If there isn't a resolution in your synopsis, I'll assume you haven't resolved the conflict in the book either. You don't want me to assume that.

Synopses don't have to be horrific things that writers should fear. Have fun with them and make them be another way you can get an editor interested in that amazing story you just had to tell.

*If you have a topic you'd like me to cover in a Writer Wednesday post, feel free to leave it in the comments.*

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36. Monday Mishmash 9/7/15

Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Happy Labor Day!  Even though it's a holiday, I'll be working. It's very rare that I take a day off.
  2. Editing  I have a client edit and edits for an anthology for Leap on my plate this week.
  3. Our Little Secret  I can't believe this book comes out next week! Exactly one week from tomorrow. Squee!!!! I'm so excited!!!
  4. Drafting?  I've been struggling to find time to write. I miss it. I NEED to write. I have next week planned as an all writing week (other than working the Scholastic Book Fair at my daughter's school). We shall see if things go as planned.
  5. Free Monthly Newsletter  My free monthly newsletter goes out later today. If you aren't signed up but would like a copy, click here.
That's it for me. What's on your mind this week?

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37. Friday Feature: Next Door to a Star by Krysten Lindsay Hager

NEXT DOOR TO A STAR by Krysten Lindsay Hager
Genre: Young Adult


Hadley Daniels is tired of feeling invisible.

After Hadley’s best friend moves away and she gets on the bad side of some girls at school, she goes to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven. Her next door neighbor is none other than teen TV star Simone Hendrickson, who is everything Hadley longs to be—pretty, popular, and famous—and she’s thrilled when Simone treats her like a friend.

Being popular is a lot harder than it looks.

It’s fun and flattering when Simone includes her in her circle, though Hadley is puzzled about why her new friend refuses to discuss her former Hollywood life. Caught up with Simone, Hadley finds herself ignoring her quiet, steadfast friend, Charlotte.

To make things even more complicated, along comes Nick Jenkins…

He’s sweet, good-looking, and Hadley can be herself around him without all the fake drama. However, the mean girls have other ideas and they fill Nick’s head with lies about Hadley, sending him running back to his ex-girlfriend and leaving Hadley heartbroken.

So when her parents decide to relocate to Grand Haven, Hadley hopes things will change when school starts…only to be disappointed once again.
Cliques. Back-stabbing. Love gone bad.

Is this really what it’s like to live…Next Door To A Star?

The school year should end right after spring break, because all anyone can focus on is summer vacation. You can’t learn anything new, because all you can think about is all the fun stuff you’re going to do once you don’t have to get up at the butt crack of dawn. Summer always seems full of possibilities.

Nothing exciting ever happens during the school year, but maybe, during summer vacation, you could run into a hot celebrity and he’d decide to put you in his next music video. Okay, it wasn’t like I knew anybody that happened to, but my grandparents did live next door to a former TV star, Simone Hendrickson, and Simone was discovered in an ice cream parlor one summer. Of course, she lived in L.A. at the time and was already doing plays and commercials, so the guy who discovered her had already seen her perform. But hey, it was summer, she got discovered, and that was all that mattered.

Amazing stuff didn’t happen to me. You know what happened to me last summer? I stepped on a bee and had to go to the emergency room. They’re not going to make an E! True Hollywood Story out of my life. I didn’t go on exotic vacations—like today, I was being dragged along with my parents to my cousin’s graduation party. Most people waited until at least the end of May before having a grad party, but Charisma was having hers early because she was leaving on a trip to Spain. I was dreading this party because I didn’t want to listen to everybody talk about how smart and talented Charisma was—making me feel like a blob in comparison—but my mom RSVP’d even though I said I’d rather die than go. My death threats meant nothing. But still, for some strange reason, I had a feeling this summer was going to be different.

Krysten Lindsay Hager is an obsessive reader and has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and humor essayist, and writes for teens, tweens, and adults. She is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series and her work has been featured in USA Today and named as Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values and Virtues Fiction and Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Children’s Books on Values. She’s originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and southwestern Ohio. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

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38. Writer Wednesday: How to Land in an Editor's "No Way!" Pile

Today's topic came from Sherry Alexander, who wanted to know what lands and author in an editor's "No Way!" pile. These are things that I've seen that got the author's automatic rejections or caused me to delete their submission without reading it.

Beginning your query with "I know you're not open to unagented submissions, but I'm hoping you'll make an exception for me."
This one really gets me, and here's why. You are making it clear that you believe you're somehow better than all the other authors who want to query me. Grr. Don't ever disrespect another author in front of me. Just don't do it. I hate to see any author putting another author down. And if you think you deserve an exception to the rule but others don't, that's exactly what you're doing. Automatic delete without even reading the query.

Claiming you met me at a conference and that I welcomed you to submit your book.
This was a bad year for me, in that I didn't get to attend any conferences. However, I've gotten queries from people claiming they met me at conferences. Now maybe it's a simple case of mistaken identity. Maybe the editor you met has a similar name. (There are no other Kelly Hashways. I've checked.) But, I'm kind of thinking this person decided to gamble and assume I was at a big SCBWI conference and was busy meeting so many authors I wouldn't remember them all by name. Don't start a relationship off on a lie. Just don't. I don't like liars. Automatic delete without even reading the query.

Forgetting to tell me about your book in your query.
This is your big chance to wow me. You get one page to grab my attention. Why on earth wouldn't you tell me about your book? Editors are very busy. I won't tell you how many books are sitting on my Kindle waiting for me to read them. I'm embarrassed by it. But we are so busy! Your query is what tells me if I'm interested enough in your story to read some of it. Form letter rejection.

Saying your book is better than "Insert Best-seller Title Here"
Again, do NOT put down another author in front of me. I don't care if you're the best writer in the world. Don't do it! Form letter rejection.

I'm sure I'll come across other things the longer I edit, but please for the love of books do not do any of these things when you query. Editors WANT to find books they love in their query inboxes. We do. We want to love you and your book, but our time is very limited. Don't get yourself rejected before we even get to chapter one.

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39. Monday Mishmash: 8/31/15

Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. First Day of School  My daughter went back to school today. :( I miss her already.
  2. Editing  It's probably no shock that my plate is full with edits this week.
  3. Recovering From Knee Injury  In case you didn't see my posts on FB and Twitter last week, I fell on the treadmill and now both knees look like I'm trying to audition for The Walking Dead—as a zombie of course. They're healing now, but ouch!
  4. Our Little Secret  I'm SO excited for this release on September 15. Like SO excited. I love this book, and it's gorgeous thanks to the amazing team at Limitless Publishing. I have a lot planned for the month of September to celebrate, so stay tuned.
  5. Writer Wednesday Topics  My posts from the other side of the submissions desk seem to be popular, so I thought I'd ask you if there's anything you'd like me to talk about in my Wednesday posts. What do you want to know about as far as submitting to editors?
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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40. Friday Feature: Summer's Sweet Embrace "Truly Paradise"

Summer's Sweet Embrace

Truly Paradise by Michelle Ziegler 

Waiting for the right one can be torture. Too bad for Hailey, impatience got the best of her. Finding Mr. Right in time for a destination wedding couldn’t happen fast enough. Instead of listening to reason, or rather her friends, she’s stuck in paradise alone, again. Nothing ruins a tropical paradise faster than catching your date with another woman.   Justin’s ready for a change. He’s been caught up in his own success for too long and is looking to finally settle down. Timing is everything and his cousins wedding is the perfect start of his new life. His luck is changing with the captivating mystery woman on the beach. Now all he has to do is find her, before he agrees to his family’s match making plot.   

Excerpt: “This is paradise, though, or so the brochure said. I’m fairly certain a woman like you could find someone better in the matter of a few hours.” He glanced back to her. His gaze sent heat coursing through her in a way she’d never experienced, let alone expected. She couldn’t be certain the sudden wriggling in her stomach was something she’d eaten, or a good thing invoked by Mr. Beach-God. A hot burn seemed to claim her neck and kiss her cheeks. There was no suppressing the grin that spread ear to ear. No one had ever made her feel like she was an object of desire. Tossing her head, she took it in. Feminism aside, it was nice to be wanted. He smiled back at her, a full smile that reached his eyes. “Then again, it isn’t exactly bad to have morals. I respect the fact you didn’t head straight for a bar to try and pick up on someone new. I know my roommate certainly could use a few morals for the love of my sanity.” Is he hitting on me? “This is Mexico. Are you implying there are a lot of desperate men here?” She leaned into him, bumping his shoulder with hers. The bit of contact sent a new sizzling flash racing over her. The stranger’s brow knit together. “What? No. That’s not at all what I meant. I suppose it’s true though, unless there are a lot of cold showers to be had around here. Men are pretty useless around woman in bathing suits.”   

About the Author: Michelle’s imagination started spilling out onto paper the second she could scribble. Her drawing never improved, but her love affair with words continued and evolved as she became infatuated with one story after another. If life could be written, Michelle would write everyone’s ending as a happily ever after. Michelle grew up in Chicago and later moved to Colorado. Her husband still makes fun of her Midwest accent. By day, she is an engineer, wife, and mother to two kids and two dogs. Her sanity survives on the pages she writes, even if her toddler is trying to drive her to the edge one temper tantrum at a time. 
Website: http://www.michellezieglerauthor.com 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichelleZieglerAuthor 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/MZiegler_Writer  
Check out Michelle's story and the others in this anthology.

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41. Writer Wednesday: Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

Summer is always tough for me. My daughter is home, which means being Mom takes up most of my days. My new job as an acquisitions editor added more work to my already full plate. On top of that, I'm booked solid with my own editing clients for the rest of 2015. So yeah, I haven't been writing as much. But things are going to change soon.

School begins on Monday, and that means I'll be working full days again. My plan is to devote mornings to me and afternoons to Seek. Splitting my day up will allow me time to edit for my clients and write for me, while still handling my duties for Leap Books. Or at least that's the plan. ;)

I'm going to miss my daughter though. She's my buddy. There's nothing I love more than being with her, but I know she is excited to start a new school year (Third grade already? How did she get so big?) and see all of her friends again. So here's to a great start to the school year and life getting back to a routine.

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42. Monday Mishmash 8/24/15

Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Editing  Surprise, surprise, I'm editing this week. ;) I have client edits and Seek edits to work on.
  2. Writing  I didn't get back to work on my novella last week. :( Maybe this week? Hopefully.
  3. Happy birthday to my mom!  My mom's birthday is tomorrow. It's also my cat's birthday on the same day. Happy day before your birthday, Mom! (She reads these posts, so feel free to wish her a great day.)
  4. Our Little Secret Blitz sign-up  Sign ups are open for the Our Little Secret Release blitz. No blog needed. Sign up here.
  5. First Seek Acquisitions  I acquired my first two titles for Leap Books Seek. I loved these books. Here is the announcement in Publisher's Weekly. 
  6. Fish Detectives is now available!  My newest picture book, Fish Detectives, is now available. 

When a treasure chest mysteriously shows up in the goldfish tank, it's a case for Horatio and Alexander, Fish Detectives. But a diver is guarding the treasure, and he's not talking. Horatio and Alexander will need all their comet goldfish speed and know how to crack this case. Suggested age range for readers: 4-8. Get it on Amazon.

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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43. Friday Feature: Hot Pink in the City

HOT PINK IN THE CITY, Prizm Books/Torquere Press
Release Date: August 19, 2015
Purchase from PrizmAmazon (vendor links will be updated on the author's site)

Asma Bashir wants two things: a summer fling and her favorite '80s songs. During a trip to New York City to stay with relatives, she messes up in her pursuit of both. She loses track of the hunk she met on her airplane ride, and she does the most terrible thing she could possibly do to her strict uncle... ruin his most prized possession, a rare cassette tape.

A wild goose chase around Manhattan and Brooklyn to find a replacement tape yields many adventures -- blackmail, theft, a chance to be a TV star, and so much more. Amid all this turmoil, Asma just might be able to find her crush in the busiest, most exciting city in the world.

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44. Writer Wednesday: Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style Are Your Friends

If you subscribe to my newsletter, then you'll remember that last month I mentioned being mindful of different spellings of words depending on how they are being used. Yes, I'm talking about the same word being spelled differently if it's used as a noun, verb, adjective, etc. Crazy, right? That's the English language for you. ;)

Grammar geeks like me, thrive on this stuff, but the typical writer does not. My suggestion is to make Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style your best friends. I always have a tab open to Merriam-Webster to make sure I'm using the proper spelling for words. I also refer to Chicago manual of Style's hyphenation table quite frequently. As an editor, I have to do this because I don't want errors in my clients' books. But all authors should do this. Here's an example of what I mean:

speed dial — This is the noun form. I hit four on my speed dial.
speed-dial — This is the verb form. I speed-dial Trish.

Spell check (Ugh, don't get me started on spell check!) won't catch these mistakes. (Spell check is stupid. It often suggests changes that are incorrect! Oops, there I go again.)

So, if you're unsure of a word—whether to hyphenate it, write it as one word, or write it as two—check Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style. (Seriously, bookmark both of those pages!) Your editor will love you for it. ;)

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45. Friday Feature: KR Yaddof Giveaway!

Today I'm featuring three great books by KR Yaddof. I can vouch for this series. It's amazing. And one lucky commenter will win ebooks of ALL 3 books!

About the books:

BLOOD MAGE (Book #1)
All Alexis Richmond wants is for life to be somewhat normal again. What she gets is trapped in the girls' restroom by a knife-wielding classmate, who blames her for being forced to go to school in a lovely prison-like setting for national security reasons. But Alexis can't help that her father was catapulted into the presidency when the U.S. Capitol was annihilated during the State of the Union Address. Or that he still hasn't found the terrorists responsible for blowing every major city on the planet into a post-apocalyptic state. All Alexis can do is to try to defend herself from this crazy girl. Then her late mother's locket starts glowing and sending waves of energy coursing down her arms, and she nearly launches her attacker through the puke pink wall of the school bathroom.

Fantasy becomes alarmingly real in Alexis's already shattered world when she learns from her aunt that she is descended from a family of powerful mages and warned to trust no one. Thrust into Alexis's life through school and for those annoying security reasons, the vice president's playboy son, Zachary Godard, claims to have the answers about the magical legacies their families don't want them to know. Alexis tries to fight her dangerous attraction to Zachary but knows that he understands her as only another mage can. Leaping down the rabbit hole hand in hand, together they overhear a secret society of sorcerers, the Blood Mage Order, plotting to take over the globe. As the two young mages struggle to stop the Order and save their country, they discover just how deep the world domination conspiracy goes. And Alexis will realize that nothing is black and white. Especially not magic.

Zachary Godard’s life isn’t lacking in beautiful women, fast cars, and unlimited wealth. Or in people with reasons to kill him. As the recently inherited owner of the largest oil company in the world and the sole financier of the newly formed United Countries of America, militant political activist groups and regimes bent on world domination alike would benefit from his demise. Then there is his four-minute younger brother, who fell victim to their deceased father’s old world mentality that a second son is merely the spare. And finally his mother, vice president of the United Countries of America, second only to the man who blew the world into its current post-apocalyptic state to give rise to his Blood Mage Order, destroying Zachary’s life in the process.
With bullets whizzing by at any given moment as he tries to secretly fund a rebellion against this new supernatural world order, Zachary knows his magic isn’t enough to defend himself and is forced to hire protection. Her name is Lauren Trinidad, and she hates everything for which he stands. But he doesn’t have time to prove her wrong before he must trust her to help him find out who is trying to kill him. All he can do is hope that either his charm or the fat paycheck will convince her he’s worth saving.

MAGE ASSASSIN (Book #3) Coming Tuesday, August 11th, 2015!
Lauren Trinidad is the best private security money in the League of European Nations can buy. She's been trained by her father for her entire life to protect the good guys from the bad. But when the good guys seem to be working for the mad man responsible for blowing the world into chaos and her family is suddenly the bad, she is forced to choose between what she is taught to do and what she thinks is right. 

Captain David Trinidad is the best soldier the New Republic of Texas can find to pull off a secret mission that will decide the fate of the small country. He’s been raised in his military family to do anything to help his homeland. But when he discovers he is the only chance at saving someone he loves, he has to choose between the only two things in his life that he's never doubted. 

Meagan Trinidad is the best assassin the United Countries of America has for hire. She has walked the tightrope between making her father proud and protecting those she cares about for a while. But when her work threatens to destroy her friends, she must choose between the familial loyalty that has guided her whole life and the promise of being loved for who she is and not what she does.


“I told you I was working.” Lauren tried not to snap. Zachary obviously wanted to forget their earlier fight about whether or not it was too dangerous for her to protect the new prime minister. But Zachary didn’t give up that easily. “I was doing my job.”
“I thought you only had to stay through the prime minister’s speech.”
“I did, but I saw a few suspicious characters before I left, so I stopped them from killing everyone.”
“Oh, you did, huh?” He smiled that charming grin that made her forgive him for anything.
“Yeah, because I’m smooth like that.” She couldn’t help but smile back.
“Sure you are.” He laughed and crossed the room to her. “You’re hurt.”
“It’s nothing,” she lied. Even her teeth hurt.
“Here.” He gently took her face in his hand. He blew a thick lock of her chestnut hair back. He ran his finger over the bruise and whispered, “Curatio.”
White-hot magic radiated from his thumb into the center of the pain and slowly flowed over her face, leaving cool relief in its wake. Her hand joined his as she felt her healed face. Her skin was smooth and no longer sore.
“Thanks.” She kissed him softly. His lips felt warm, soft, and familiar. His hands immediately pulled her to him. She stopped him by putting her hands on his chest. “I need a shower.”
“Shall I join you?” He cocked a platinum eyebrow.

“I could never be cold when I’m near you, Abigail.” David wanted to kiss her right then. He wanted to take her in his arms and not let her go. To carry her off into the night and never have to worry about anyone coming between them again. “You are my fire. You are my reason for livin’. You are my life.”
“Oh, David.” She blushed and looked down. “I love you, too.”
“It is more than love.” He knelt down and looked up into her surprised face. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the box. Enveloping her left hand in his, he said, “Abigail Evelyn Lattimore, will you marry me?”
“Oh, my God, David!” Her hands flew to her mouth, eyes wide. She stared down at him, tears forming in her eyes. She glanced at the ring and exclaimed, “Yes! Yes, of course, I will!”
And then she was in his arms. He spun her around in elation, only stopping to kiss her. Her hands went to his face as he held her against him, and he kissed her harder than he ever had in his life. Pure joy surrounded them, and he could feel the aquamarine in the necklace she wore warming against his chest. He pulled away only to slip the diamond ring on her finger. She admired it as it also started to glow.
“Your magic approves,” he said, kissing her again. She was a white mage and had fantastical healing powers. He could feel her happiness vibrating between them and even lighting the coral in his own boar’s head ring his father had given him when he joined the service. He sighed and added, “Even if your father doesn’t.”

“We both know you’re not going to college.” Jacob moved his mouth closer to her ear. “Why are you going to New Haven? To kill my sister?”
“What?” Meagan jerked back to see his face, but he held her too tightly.
“I know what you are, darling.” His voice was so quiet she barely could hear him. “An assassin.”
“That’s not true!” She swallowed, her head spinning. How had he figured it out? Her father was going to be pissed. “I would never hurt Kayla.”
“That may be true, but you have been hunting my brother for years.” Jacob’s hands crept up her body. They stopped on either side of her throat. He pressed harder against her. “Why do you think I’ve been keeping you so close?”
Meagan didn’t say anything. Sliding a hand behind her back, she glared at him. She went for the knife hidden in her waistband.
“I don’t think so, darling.” He grabbed her wrist and twisted it along with the other one above her head, pinning them against the door. She refused to cry out in pain. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. “I kept you so close I know all of your little tricks. Didn’t you wonder why I cared? You should know by now that I don’t fuck the same girl more than once. I was keeping an eye on you instead of ending you.”
She brought up her knee in a swift movement and hit him in the crotch. He grunted and doubled over in pain. She punched him in the face and pushed him off her. Spinning, she kicked him in the head and knocked him to the floor. She drove her boot into his stomach for good measure.
“Don’t ever threaten me, Jacob Godard,” she whispered in his ear, kneeling over him. “Next time I’ll slit your arrogant throat.”

KR Yaddof was lucky enough to take a few writing classes at the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop when she was there as an undergrad getting her degree in cinema. Now she lives in Denver, CO with her husband, two kids, and one fat cat.

KR is currently finds time to write while staying home with her two small children. If you want more MAGES, cross your fingers for her children to start sleeping through the night!

Learn more about Mages & KR at: http://www.kryaddof.com/

**Don't forget to comment below to enter to win ALL 3 ebooks! Winner will be chosen at random on August 14th.**

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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46. Monday Mishmash 8/10/15

Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Our Little Secret Cover Reveal  Last Thursday was the cover and blurb reveal for Our Little Secret, which releases September 15 through Limitless Publishing. This is a YA contemporary romance under my pen name Ashelyn Drake. 
    Becca Daniels needs to get a passing grade in Trig. Becca Daniels wants to spend more time with her best friend Tori’s twin brother Toby. What she has is a brain that refuses to understand math and a best friend with a strict “No dating the brother” rule. When her grade hits rock bottom, Becca has no choice but to get a tutor. Lucky for her, Toby is a math genius and more than willing to help her out. Turns out Becca isn’t the only one who hates Tori’s dating rule. What starts out as an innocent tutoring session quickly evolves into late night texts and hidden kisses. But the closer Becca gets to Toby, the greater the risk that she’ll lose her best friend. When their secret relationship threatens to destroy more than just her friendship with Tori, Becca will have to figure out how much she’s willing to risk to keep the guy of her dreams. 

     Add the book on Goodreads
  2. Piper Morgan Joins the Circus Cover Reveal  Stephanie Faris has a cover reveal today for Piper Morgan Joins the Circus. How adorable is this cover? 
    When Piper Morgan has to move to a new town, she is sad to leave behind her friends, but excited for a new adventure. She is determined to have fun, be brave and find new friends.
    And after learning her mom’s new job will be with the Big Top Circus, Piper can’t wait to learn all about life under the big top, see all the cool animals, and meet the Little Explorers, the other kids who travel with the show. She’s even more excited to learn that she gets to be a part of the Little Explorers and help them end each show with a routine to get the audience on their feet and dancing along!
    But during Piper’s grand debut, her high kicks and pointed toes don't go quite as planned. After causing a dance disaster, she has to prove to everyone--especially queen of the Little Explorers, Lexie--that she belongs in the spotlight.
  3. Leap Books Seek Submissions  Since Seek is open to unagented submissions, my inbox has been flooded! lol I'm blown away by how many submissions I've received. Guess what I'll be busy reading this week. I'll be announcing my first acquisitions soon too. :)
  4. Galley Proofs  The galley of Our Little Secret has been proofed. Eeeee! I'm so excited for this book. I just loved this story so much.
  5. Ashelyn Drake Blog Has Moved  After a run-in with Wordpress on my cover reveal day (AHHH!!!) last week, I decided to move Ashelyn's blog to Blogspot. I'm much more comfortable on Blogspot. Ashelyn's website will remain on Wordpress and there is a link to the new blog in the menu bar there now. If you'd like to follow Ashelyn's blog, you can find it here.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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47. Writer Wednesday: The Other Side of the Submissions Desk

While my time on the other side of the submissions desk has been brief so far, I've already learned a lot. And since it's taught me more about being an author on submission, I want to share something very important with you all. Here it is. You don't just want a book contract. You want an editor who LOVES your book every bit as much as you do.

When I first started writing, I had this illusion that all I needed was a contract. Someone who would put my book in print. I was wrong. Obviously, we all strive for book deals, but you shouldn't JUST want a contract. You should want an editor who loves your book so much they have to have it.

I've gotten a lot of submissions during my open submissions period at Seek. I'm talking flooded inbox. I've seen a lot of good manuscripts. Notice I said good. The problem is, I can't offer a contract on a good manuscript. I have to wish I wrote your book because it's that amazing. I have to not be able to get your book out of my mind. I have to keep checking my email to see if you've responded to my offer yet. That's how much I need to love your book.

Why, you ask? I've gotten to work on books at Seek that were acquired before I came on board. Let me tell you how many times I read each book. Oh wait, I lost count. It's a lot. A LOT. If I can't get excited to read your book over and over again, I'm not the right editor for your book. Luckily, the books I've worked on have been books I love. I look forward to reading them countless times, and I love the stories more each time I read them.

Think of your personal book collection. We all have those books we reread time and time again because they hold special places in our hearts and our memories. They're written in, dog-eared, and filled with Post-It notes. Those are the book I offer on. So if I offer on your book, know I will champion it with all I have. That's the editor you want for the book you've poured your heart and soul into. Don't accept anything else, because you don't deserve anything less than that.

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48. Friday Feature: Love, Lattes and Danger

It’s a dirty job, but some mutant’s got to do it…

Joel Eisler is a mutant with special talents. He can detect an oil leak in the ocean simply by tasting the water. Because of this unique ability, he’s been purchased by a large oil company, along with his dolph sister, Amy. The upside of spending his days and nights in the ocean is that it gives him the opportunity to save the lives of his brother dolphins. The downsides are life as a closely monitored slave—and that he can’t be with Piper, the dolph-girl he loves…

To make matters worse, Joel discovers the lab he grew up in has extracted his sperm and Piper’s egg and created a baby, and his handler, Craven, is plotting to kidnap Amy for more experiments. Now Joel must rescue the infant, bring her to Piper, and find a way to save Amy. And if that’s not enough of a challenge, he needs to convince Piper she belongs with him instead of her all-too-human boyfriend—if Craven doesn’t get to them first…

Multi-published author Sandra Cox writes YA Fantasy, Paranormal and Historical Romance, and Metaphysical Nonfiction. She lives in sunny North Carolina with her husband, a brood of critters and an occasional foster cat. Although shopping is high on the list, her greatest pleasure is sitting on her screened in porch, listening to the birds, sipping coffee and enjoying a good book. She's a vegetarian and a Muay Thai enthusiast.


Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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49. Monday Mishmash 8/17/15

Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Our Little Secret Is Up for Pre-Order!  Guys, I'm SO excited for this book. You have no idea. The pre-order went up last Friday and it's only $3.99, which makes me happy. You can pre-order your copy here
  2. Seek's Open Submissions Period Is Over  My open submissions period has ended. I want to thank everyone who queried me. I have two acquisitions I'll be sharing soon and I have four full manuscripts on my Kindle waiting for me to make decisions on. On Wednesday, I'll share some tips from what I saw in my query inbox. Be sure to come back for that.
  3. Editing  With life getting back to normal after open submissions, I'll be editing for clients again this week.
  4. Writing  Finding writing time has been tricky lately. I had to stop working on a novella, but I'm hoping to get back to it by the end of the week. Fingers crossed.
  5. Vacations  This summer we didn't get to go on the vacation we wanted, so we are planning a trip to Aruba for next summer. I know it's a long time from now, but I'm already excited.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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50. Writer Wednesday: Dos and Don'ts of Submitting to Editors

Now that Seek's open submissions period is over, I wanted to share some things I saw on the other side of the submissions desk. I hope you find this helpful.

First, let's start with the negative—things I saw that I wish I hadn't. These are things I beg you not to do when querying. 
  • Queries that didn't follow submission guidelines  I get that every publisher (and agent) tends to have specific submission guidelines and it can be overwhelming for authors, but please take the time to follow them. If you don't, it shows us you don't value our time or our preferences. That's no way to start a relationship with someone.
  • Queries that aren't at all what I'm looking for  I received queries for young adult books and early readers, yet my submission guidelines specifically say I'm looking for middle grade books. Querying with a book that isn't what an editor is looking for is wasting everyone's time, including your own. Besides, who wants an unnecessary rejection?
  • Misspelling the editor's name.  I understand Kelly is both a girl's name and a boy's name; however, a simple Google search brings up only one Kelly Hashway—me. And I have my picture all over the place. I'm not Mr. Hashway. I also got a lot of "Dear Ms. Hathaway" queries. I'm not related to Anne Hathaway or any other Hathaways. If you can't take the time to proofread to ensure you're spelling an editor's name correctly, you're telling me you don't care. That doesn't make me care much in return. :(
  • Replies asking if the author can revise and resubmit  If an editor loves your writing and concept but thinks the book needs work, he/she will tell you to revise and resubmit. Please don't email me and ask if you can—or worse, just assume you can. If I took the time to give you helpful feedback, use it to move forward and get ready for your next submission.
  • Forget to include a query  I kid you not. I received more than one query that didn't have a query letter. They were simply "here's my attached manuscript" messages. I didn't even know what the books were called. If you can't care enough to describe your book to me or even tell me the title, I'm not going to be the least bit excited to read your pages.
Okay, enough negativity. Let's move on to the positives—things I saw and loved. These are the things you should do when querying:
  • Be professional  I had several people who know me from this blog or other social media sites query me and they still addressed me as Ms. Hashway or Mrs. Hashway instead of Kelly. Kudos to you, because even though I was thinking, "Oh yay, INSERT NAME HERE is querying me" I still handle all query letters equally. Yes, I had to pass on queries from people I know, and yes it made me sad. But this is a business and we have to remember that.
  • Appreciate any feedback you get, because it's rare  I got the nicest response from a pass. I didn't know this person at all, but they responded to my pass to thank me for getting back to them in such a timely manner and for offering helpful feedback. I'm not going to lie. I got a few others like this one and they kept me going when my inbox was spilling over. This showed me these people get it. They get how busy editors are and appreciate that an editor took the time to offer feedback when it's not mandatory. These are people I'll remember if they cross my inbox again.
Okay, there are other things you should do, but I think you can figure them out from my list of things you shouldn't do. Do you have any query tips to add to my list? Feel free to share in the comments.

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