What a Samurai and a Stingray Have in Common

currently playing on my laptop: The Beach by The Neighbourhood

I’ve been indulging my not-so-inner history nerd of late. The Frist Center of Visual Arts here in Nashville currently houses a load of rad samurai stuff. Armor made of silk, paper, leather, and metals. Long bows and calligraphy cases. Elaborately painted scrolls.

And swords decorated in…stingray skin.

I’m not kidding. It’s true. I never knew they used stingray skin to decorate sword sheathes. It makes the sheath all sparkly! Very cool. Just thought I’d share that tidbit and some of the pics I took. Enjoy, fellow history nerds!

Here are some of the sparkly swords. 😉

And this is a gorgeous screen showing the Genpei War (1180-85). I’m thinking of using this naval battle in a future fantasy plot. During this period, the samurai’s main weapon wasn’t the sword, but the yumi, or long bow.


Here is a close up of part of a yumi. (Yes, I know my silly hands are in there. The lighting was rough, y’all.)


All sorts of insects cover this next sword. It was made of shell, bone, wood, steel, and probably more things I didn’t write down. There are moths, cicadas, grasshoppers, snakes, and snails in the mix. It was gorgeous! The one below it is another one decorated with that crazy stingray skin. 

And last, but certainly not least, is this lovely samurai armor. I hope you enjoyed the pics and have a great day! 🙂



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Why I Plan to be a Hybrid Author

currently playing on my laptop: Lose Yourself by Eminem

As an active member of the SCBWI Midsouth crew (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), I have long been deeply entrenched in the traditional side of publishing.

For those not in the business, this means having an agent (I have a fantastic one, Kathleen Rushall, at ABLA) and sending one’s manuscript to large and small publishing houses. Said houses may offer a contract on a book and it goes from there.

I still want to publish traditionally. I love and respect the process. They make some gorgeous books and the competition to get those contracts has greatly improved my craft.

So why am I about to indie publish a series of young adult fantasies?


My husband and I own and operate a small business, Elite Martial Arts. It has been a joy. A tough joy, but a joy nonetheless. I have a degree in marketing and the business side of things has always fascinated me—almost as much as writing! Because of this fascination, and the experience I’ve had with Elite, I’m going to indie publish five books beginning in April of 2017.

I will keep you all posted on my journey and I welcome tips and ideas along the way!


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Day in the Scary Life of an Author

currently playing on my laptop: Winter Bird by Aurora

If you’re a writer, does your day look like mine? If you aren’t, is this what you expected?

My Sunday went like so:

*wake up from crazy-clear dream about new book idea and can’t concentrate on what daughter is telling you about her ipod


*notice woman at breakfast buffet who looks like one of your characters and you have to apologize for staring at her hair

*driving home from funeral and thinking about how funeral practices vary in your fantasy novels, then feeling bad about that train of thought

*still driving home and writing 1500 words on a novella (short novel at about 20k) to follow a big, fat novel


*still, still driving home, hoping husband doesn’t ask you to drive because you actually are in the zone and wrote 500 on a free giveaway prequel for your upcoming series

*asking your kids to help you decide on book cover details and laughing with them at their fascinating thought processes (I love kids.)


*telling your husband nitty-gritty details about your new plotline and realizing you need to put on the brakes because he is only being kind and patient and doesn’t know what the hell you’re talking about because you gave it zero context

*getting home and giving kids cereal for dinner so you can write a blog post and update your Pinterest

*heading to writer friends’ house to drink things and watch things and breathe


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Winter Fantasy Giveaway!!!

Hello all! Looking for some fabulous books to snuggle up with? Here are a WHOLE BUNCH OF SIGNED ONES plus some rare swag! Enter to win today! Only 17 days left!!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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How Not to Die from Social Media in Six Steps

currently playing on my laptop: Hymn for the Weekend by Coldplay

I am a high-strung lady. It’s how I get stuff done, y’all. BUT I have to watch my actions or I’ll obsess over every little thing everyone I’ve ever met has ever ever ever said. The last few weeks have been…shall we say, horribleroughfrighteningpleaseletthisendnow? Yeah. So here is how I managed not to die from social media.

  1. Set a time limit. Use a timer or just keep an eye on the clock for maybe five minutes. That’s it. No more. You’ll get sucked in, I’m telling you.
  2. Have your post ready. You don’t want to lose all you’ve worked for, all those happy followers who look to you for whatever your into. Travel pics, cat jokes, writerly info, motivation—whatever the focus of your timeline, have your link/pic/words prepped so you can post and dash.
  3. Post and dash. Slap your stuff on that site and run away. You’re doing your part, contributing what you choose, but not getting mired into the part of social media that drains your soul and makes you want to smash things repeatedly.
  4. Maybe check a tiny, weensy friend list on Twitter or whatever site you’re on. If you have a list or some such system in place that includes your close pals or industry leaders you wish to emulate and fangirl over, you can fave them or reply, and then you can run for the hills.
  5. Once your time is up, get away from the device you’re using. Like physically go away. Walk outside. Pet your cat. Do laundry. Write a scene on real paper. Whatever you want. Just get the heck away from the electronics.
  6. Picture the three moments in your life when you were super dee duper grateful. (this is a Tony Robbins thing) Remember those three moments as clearly as you can and sort of relive them. Remember: those things are what is important. Not everyone yelling at one another. Friendships. Day to day, in person exchanges. Bittersweet life.

Good luck, my friends and followers.


You are amazing. I care about you. No matter what. We are complicated creatures and we need to care for our complicated minds and hearts and souls.

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Southern Festival of Books: What to Do

currently playing on my laptop: Bang Bang by Green Day

This weekend my hometown hosts the Southern Festival of Books, a wonderfully jam-packed flurry of things readers, writers, and fans MUST attend!

Here is what you’ll probably enjoy the most:

  1. Rock Star Panels and TalksIn the past, I’ve MC’d a panel, but this year I can relax and enjoy the show. IF SOMEONE WILL JUST MAKE ME A TIME TURNER. Seriously, I tried to create a schedule for myself so I could see YA fantasy and historical authors CJ Redwine, Roshani Chokshi, Sharon Cameron, Shannon Messenger, Nicole Castroman, Kerri Maniscalco, Lauren Oliver, Kendare Blake, Megan Shepherd, Martina Boone, Maria Dahvana Headley, Victoria Schwab, Maggie Stiefvater, and so many more. The authors will chat on the topic listed in the SoFest schedule  in sometimes very small and intimate group settings. (depends on location and timing) You can pick up tips on worldbuilding, POV, character arcs, and marketing. Readers can learn how their faves went about crafting that awesome story they love. It is very, very fun.
  2. Signings From Authors Who Aren’t Even Touring Right Now (bring a book to the panel they’re on and most times they’ll stick around to sign or direct you to when and where they will sign!)
  3. Food Trucks (ginger lemonade and the grilled cheeserie, anyone? Super nomming happening)
  4. Honky Tonk Nashville Fun Times (Nashville is a great place to grab a drink, dance a bit, or listen to live music!)


So yeah. You need to boot scoot (couldn’t resist; deal with it) on down to Nashville and experience the SoFest! 


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#amrevising: My Favorite Techniques

now playing on my laptop: Kill v. Maim by Grimes

Are you revising? Me too! 


Yeah so it can be tough. Verra (use Jamie Fraser voice) tough, sassenach.

Here are some of my favorite ways to get to the root of my characters and my story.

  1. Rewrite a chapter or three in a different point of view to SEE more.

*if you write in 1st, change it to 3rd

*if it’s from her POV, put it in his and so forth

*write the same scene from totally outside character

2. Read, then type out a page from your favorite book in the genre you’re writing in. Next, write a scene of yours below it. Compare and get to work.

3. When rereading your first draft, pause before each chapter and jot down what should happen next—what you’re expecting. Compare your note to what you wrote and it’s pretty easy to see if you were just indulging yourself on pretty things or you jumped to an odd place.

4. Remember that your first draft is just you discovering your story. Stop clinging to it like Rose near the iceburg. Let it go, Elsa-style. Okay, I’ll stop. Sorry.

Now shed that sloth persona, find your inner Kiki determination, and get to work!


Good luck!



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