Thursday, May 28, 2015

Summer Lovin'

Ah, romance in the steamy summer months...
In my young foolish days, I dreamed of summer days and nights spent hiking, biking, picnicking, and stargazing with that (insert girly sigh here) special someone. Now, in my (insert old lady sigh here) late thirties with a thriving teaching career, I dream of a different kind of romance--the type I manufacture on my laptop. (Okay, perverts, I just meant writing. And not that kind of writing.)

Summer has always been my best time for writing. But last summer I not only edited Becoming Beauty several times before it hit the presses, but I also completed the bulk of Twelve. This summer finds me editing Twelve and meeting the cast of my Rumplestiltskin remake. Is there anything as fun as exploring new characters and getting caught up in all their drama? 

Have I ever mentioned how much I despise goal making? I'm already my worst critic and I hate giving myself reasons to be more self-critical. However, I'm going to set some goals for this summer anyway!

  • Get my new computer set up...and ignore Social Media for a decent amount of time each day.
  • Craft a fabulous query for Twelve.
  • Edit Twelve and submit it to the publisher. ASAP!
  • Flesh out the characters for my new project. And quickly fall in love with them. (Won't be hard, I adore Guillermo already. And he's only in my head.)
  • Create a rough outline for the new project and then completely ignore it as I begin writing. (It's my process, people!)
  • Do some marketing every week by keeping my blog full of fresh content, connecting with the public through social media, and participating in authory events to get Becoming Beauty to more readers.
  • Fiddle around, travel, visit friends and family, and yes, knock out a healthy chunk of the next project. Because I can.

Either I'm completely high on summer lovin' already...or those goals are do-able. Anyway, I'd love to hear about your plans for the summer? Any lovin' going on in your neck of the woods? 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

One Hundred

100 posts in! 100 posts full of Sarah silliness, insights, story samples, and plenty of advice on plenty of subjects. I'm just enough of a data dork (yes, another of my lovely quirks) to enjoy watching those numbers tick higher and higher. Delightful! The top 10 (plus 1) are a medley of everything that makes me ME. Read and enjoy!
Bend in the Road Are there rocks ahead? If there are, we'll all be dead! New adventures don't come without a little bit of risk. 

Woman: The  Most Dangerous Plaything Meet Sylvi Lockhart, a budding author who throws in with private investigator Jesse James. What begins as research for her next novel leads to adventure, excitement, and more sweaty balding men than Sylvi bargained for. 

Socially Acceptable Stalking: the Ins and Outs of Followers Ah, the art of mastering the Twitterverse. It's not for the faint of heart! Learn how to find, gain, and keep worthwhile followers. 

Ready or Not... Change will come. How you respond to it as a writer and as a human being will define you as a person. 

#BookSelfie Everybody is jumping on the #selfie train! Maybe you think it's only a fad, but trust me, it's fun to see your cover featured in a #BookSelfie! 

On Tour! Revisit Becoming Beauty's Blog Tour from Nov 2015. Yep, I'm definitely doing that again. Blog tours are the best. 

It's Playtime! All kids learn through play. And SURPRISE, adults need it too. (Also, we need cookies and fluffy pillows.)

Verbosity Many are afraid of large words, but they needn't be! We only need to use them well so that our audience will run to Google and not throw our books at the wall in annoyance.

Ms. Etiquette Makes an Appearance After conquering the Neanderthals at school, Ms. Kindergarten Teacher takes on social media. Can they be taught manners? Or will they be put in timeout within the first five minutes?

Cringe Worthy Got an embarrassing moment? Suuuure you do...I'm pretty sure I've got you beat. Humiliations galore!

Sassy Pants Worried about crafting the perfect Woman Power heroine? How about being one? It's fun and makes for fantastic writing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Last year, I attended my first writers' conference, LDS Storymakers. I had the honor of meeting Sara B. Larson. She was such a gifted presenter--spunky, adorable, and fun--that I had to buy her book. Defy had a compelling storyline, a complex heroine, and a healthy dose of romance. And okay, a beautiful cover. How could I resist? The twins' story is reminiscent of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (which is one of my favorites) with a whole lot more sass and action thrown in. I connected with the story almost as soon as I cracked open the book. 
I hit the end of Defy and went, "Whaaaaat?" Fake out! When the sequel Ignite was released, I grabbed it on Amazon. In the midst of finishing the school year and dealing with all the stresses of moving to a different school, I blew off some steam reading Ignite. The characters Sara developed in Defy continued to seize my attention and tug at my heart strings. Alexa is fascinating, strong, and skilled in ways the typical heroine isn't (in swordplay, for instance). She's the subject of my previous post Tragically Flawed...Or Not. And her relationship with King Damian keeps a girl reading into the wee hours and emitting girlie sighs. The finale, Endure, will be released in January 2016. And yep, I'll be picking that one up too (and taking it wherever I can to get Sara to sign it). Anyone who loves YA Action/Adventure would enjoy this series. Read on for the blurbs!
Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect? (Source: Amazon)

Alexa continues to harbor a secret love for the newly crowned King Damian, yet she remains by his side as his guard and ever committed to helping him rebuild Antion and reclaim the hope of Antion's people. However, when a new threat to Damian and his kingdom emerges, and blame is cast on the once friendly nation of Blevon, Alexa knows things are not what they seem. Once again the fate of her country hangs in the balance. Will Alexa be able to protect her king and uncover the true enemy -- before it's too late? (Source: Amazon)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Last Goodbye

In pursuit of more sanity and brains for creative endeavors, I'm leaving my career in public education for a stint in the charter school arena. It has been the best hard work I've ever done, but after ten years, it's time to say goodbye.
Goodbye extreme diversity. 
You've taught me to love children of all colors. You've taught me that children from all walks of life can learn and grow regardless of their background. Truly, some of my greatest success has been with children who spoke no English at all when I met them. It doesn't matter if their parents had little schooling, by working together, we made miracles. I will never forget your beautiful faces or your bright eyes.
 Goodbye fellow teachers. 
You are my friends, my mentors, and my inspiration. Serving in the trenches with you has been a pleasure. You helped me through difficult times with laughter, lots of chocolate, and a few tears. You taught me how to love and serve our children best. I carry with me all your wisdom, devotion, and every last lesson I learned from you. (And no worries, I'll be texting you about all the crazy things that happen in the new school.)

Goodbye unique community. 
Your families have won my heart and your cultural flavor is one of a kind. The warmth with which you welcomed me will never be forgotten. Memories of special celebrations, dedicated parent volunteers, Zumba nights, and Halloween madness will accompany me wherever I go. 

My emotions have been on a roller coaster since I made the decision to submit an application for the new position. And there will definitely be more water works to come. Though I'm pleased to have the opportunity to try a new path, I'm happy to have worked hard and well with students who needed me so desperately. I will not forget my time with them. Ever. What can I say? I love my people.

For more on my Kindergarten Journey, try Adventures in Kindergarten, It's Playtime! or The Start of Something Good. And don't ever let anyone tell you teaching is for those who can't do anything else! 

Thank you all!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Judge Not, That Ye Be Not Judged

You've heard the old adage about judging a book by its cover. Well, discerning readers do. They can differentiate between covers that ignite the imagination and those that are schlepped onto a book willy nilly. I'm too professional to post others' crappy covers here (read: I believe when we bad mouth others we're inviting them to bad mouth us) but feel free to surf Amazon's free or 99¢ titles for examples of what I mean. A cover should be chosen with care. The theme, style, and mood of a story are reflected in a well chosen illustration. 

Not only will we judge a book by its cover, but we should judge our own works by their covers.

Know what you want: Consider the style of your book and look at other books in the same genre. Do you want to fit in or stand out? Think about what colors represent the mood and flavor of your book and if a modern or classic image would be more suitable. I'll admit that I lucked out! The fabulous designers at Cedar Fort asked for my input early on and delivered an image with everything I requested: a jewel tone color scheme, a single female pictured in a pensive position, subtle roses as a nod to Beauty and the Beast, and modernity blended with classic details. When I received the preliminary cover, I let out a girly shriek and freaked my friend out! That was it. I still love everything about it.

Don't settle for mediocrity: About a year ago, my cousin and I had a conversation about high quality book covers. She's an artist and photographer and related the story of a friend who demanded one thing and another in a book cover, but after being presented with several options, she chose a generic cover that featured none of the elements she'd requested. It was at this point that I whipped out my phone, pulled up the preliminary cover for Becoming Beauty, and showed it to my cousin. "That," she said, "is what I'm talking about!" To have an artist's endorsement of my little book gave me a distinct thrill!

Do your homework: There are plenty of designers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The fun of social media is that you can get a feel for designers' strengths without committing to anything. Most of them are open to questions about their products and will chat with you freely about what they can offer. Take your time. Remember that a good cover will pay for itself in the long run. Covers are the first impression consumers will have of your book and an eye-catching cover urges readers to delve deeper, learn more, and ultimately purchase your book. 

So yes, my darlings, be judgey. But only if you're prepared to be judged by your own cover. (And please, don't apply the same logic to your relationships with anything other than the written word.Take it from a plumpy girl with dimples, people are rarely how they seem in a first impression.) 

If you'd like to learn more about Becoming Beauty, this is the perfect time! For its six month birthday, Becoming Beauty is 99 cents on Kindle, Nook iTunes, & ebook. Enjoy!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Dear Jonas

I was inspired when a fellow blogger posted a letter to her characters a short time ago. What a novel idea, I thought. Then it hit me. Bella, the heroine from Becoming Beauty, is closely acquainted with the hero of my second novel, Jonas Selkirk. All the snarky things Bella would say to her friend filled my mind and in no time a most Bella-like letter emerged. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed crafting it!
Artwork from Ruth Sanderson's Fairytale Collection
Dearest Jonas:
We enjoyed hearing of the coming and goings at Lord Bromhurt's in your last letter. After your life in Stone and your time with us, I've no doubt it does feel like a foreign land. I recall the shock of entering into service for the first time as a naive young woman. I had the added benefit of being tossed out of my home and sent to serve a Beast at the same time. However, in the end, I won a place of respect in the Beast's household. I am confident that you can do the same in Lord Bromhurt's household. (As long as Lord Bromhurst isn't more beastly than You Know Who.)

Now, onto the real purpose of this letter. From the beginning, your correspondence has hinted at an acquaintance with a certain young noblewoman. Philip would have me remind you to tread carefully when dealing with Lord Bromhurst. Since Lady Bromhurt's death, he has become fiercely jealous and protective of his daughters. Jack would urge you to act honorably but to follow the dictates of your heart. And both gentlemen have warned me against poking my nose in where it doesn't belong, but when have I ever heeded their counsel? 

Take it from a woman who had to learn the hard way--love is a gift. It should neither be ignored nor neglected. If a woman like Lady Ariela has taken taken pains to befriend you, you would be a fool not to act. Trust me, Jonas, land and holdings, education, and social standing mean little beside true affection. If you let paltry matters of the world come between you and that young lady, you will regret it. (Also, I will personally travel to Lord Bromhurst's to talk sense into you and ensure that you do regret it.) 

I trust that we will hear of your declaration to Lady Ariela soon. As to news here at home, life runs on as usual, bumping along with only the occasional tantrum from His Royal Beastiness. (Since you're not here, the poor weeds take the brunt of it. Sometimes I almost feel sorry for them.) Overall, we are happy and busy. Jack, Philip, and the rest send their best regards. 

With affection, 

P.S. Other news of a more sensitive nature awaits your return to Stone. As you know, you are always welcome in our home. 

* * *
If you'd like to know more about the adventures of Bella in Becoming Beauty, it's available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Books & Things. For more about Jonas and Lady Ariela, read Interlude in the Rose GardenJust a TasteEmbracing the Fangirl WithinArguing With Myself, or Twelve for the Fourteenth. Hopefully, Twelve will make it to print soon!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


As the Fresh Prince once said, my life was flip-turned upside down about six months ago.
I never planned to publish a book. I didn't believed my writing was good enough for the public eye, sometimes I still don't, but that has never stopped me from writing. I am extremely grateful for the friends who despite my many protests encouraged me to submit Becoming Beauty to publishers and the editor at Cedar Fort who had faith in it. Without them, Bella would still be mouldering away in my hard drive. (And she doesn't appreciate being ignored.)

Monday, May 11th marks the six-month-iversary of Becoming Beauty's release. Six months of Will people like it? Will people read it? and Will I ever write anything else? Hello, author panic attacks! Happily, both Becoming Beauty and I are still here and people really do like us! To celebrate the fact that we've made it this far, Cedar Fort and I are hosting a 99¢ sale for a limited time. From May 6-19 you can nab an ecopy of Becoming Beauty for less than a dollar! Wahoo! For those who haven't read it yet, (shame on you!) here's a snippet:

Claws.  Long, filthy, and dangerously sharp. 

They’re the first thing Bella sees after what's been the worst day of her life.  Careful not to alert her captor to her conscious state, she glances past the matted fur-covered arms and expanse of chest to the face. If something surrounded by tangled black rattails can be called a face. 

Perhaps if Bella were the quintessential Beauty—gorgeous, kindhearted, and self-sacrificing—she might have a fighting chance in transforming this monster into a man.   But she’s never been the toad-kissing kind.  Obsessed with landing a wealthy nobleman and escaping her humdrum life, she will stop at nothing to achieve her goals.  Which is precisely what landed her here, at the mercy of the Beast.

Find Becoming Beauty at:

If you'd like to learn more about Becoming Beauty, visit Goodreads or click here. Happy reading!