Whitney Finalists and other Happenings

Wrong for You - more comps3What’s New? Back at the beginning of February, the 2017 Whitney Award Finalists were announced. I’m so happy that Wrong For You was selected as a finalist in the Romance Category. Love at First Note was the winner in 2016, so it was extra exciting to make the cut for a second year in a row. I really love Lane and Simon and the other characters in Wrong For You and am so happy that the book is getting a little bit of love. You can see all the finalists in all ten categories here.

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Winners will be announced at the Whitney Award Gala in Provo, UT on May 5, 2018. I’ll be there, exhausted from a weekend of networking and learning at the 2018 Storymakers Conference, but I’m sure I’ll still be smiling. Because that’s what Storymakers makes me do. The conference is sold out this year, but if you’ve EVER considered attending a writing conference, this is the perfect one to start with. It’s welcoming and inclusive and inexpensive and the quality of instruction blows me away every single year.

I’m throwing my own class into the mix this year–about conflict in Romance and keeping your characters apart in just the right way. If your characters could solve all their problems in one five minute conversation of truth telling? Yeah. That doesn’t cut it.

story geniusWhat am I reading? I’m plowing through (and enjoying!) fellow Whitney finalists. In progress: Sarah M. Eden’s Love Remains. Next on deck: Jeff Zentner’s Goodbye Days. In addition, I’m working on my novel writing with Lisa Cron’s Story Genius. With a tagline that reads: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before you waste three years writing 327 pages that go nowhere) I figured this was a book I could benefit from. My productivity has taken a hit lately, what with moving and . . . moving. So I’m hoping this will jump start and inspire me back into actually making some progress.

What am I loving? This is not book related. But I’m sharing anyway because I love it that much. DHC Lip Cream. It makes my lips very happy. Keeps them moisturized and DHC lip creamsuper soft and I promise even though it seems expensive, it is so worth it. Treat your lips. You’ll thank me later. And it comes in a two pack, so you can keep one for you, and give one to a friend. I actually made this a part of my Christmas presents this year. It’s just. that. good.

 

What am I eating? This recipe for Pork Tenderloin Sliders from my lovely friend, Randi, as frequently as possible. And Kale Salad made with White Peach Balsamic Vinegar from Spice It Up. Also. I finally made it down to Sweet Belgium (a Belgian waffle bakery that landed on my to-do list fourteen seconds after moving to Charleston) and OH was it worth it.

What am I listening to? 

Leslie Odom Jr.’s soulful Nobody Knows You (When You’re Down and Out) 

Sara Bareilles singing She Used to Be Mine from the Broadway musical Waitress.

Imagine Dragons covering Taylor Swift’s Blank Space

James Arthur singing Say You Won’t Let Go

What am I working on? A YA Contemporary called The Summer of Nell, with another contemporary romance for Covenant simmering on the back burner. And! Starting this month, a collaboration with three of my FAVORITE fellow authors. More about that coming soon!

Romance Written Right

It’s been a season of transitioning at the Proctor house. We’ve transitioned into our new life in Charleston, SC, thanks to a work promotion for my husband (Hooray for the beach!) and me? I’ve transitioned into . . . SOLITUDE. For the first time in sixteen years all of my children are in school. I admit, it was a day I thought I would celebrate, but in truth, I spent several weeks feeling weepy, not knowing exactly what to do with myself. It wasn’t so much that I missed my kids. The youngest was ready for Kindergarten. He’s thriving. I know he’s where he needs to be. I just didn’t know how to be alone. How to make choices when the only person I had to consider was ME. How to spend my time effectively.  So I didn’t. I watched hours of Netflix. And took really long naps. And of course, I read stacks and stacks of books.

And so, in an effort to dust off this, an infrequently used writing space, I’m here to recommend a few of those reads to you. We’re focusing on Romance for today–romance that in my estimation is written just as it should be.

The Fall of Lord Drayson (Tanglewood, #1)The Fall of Lord Drayson, by Rachael Anderson

When Colin Cavendish, the new earl of Drayson, informs Lucy Beresford that she and her mother need to vacate the house they’ve called home for the past two years, Lucy is fit to be tied. They have no money, no relations they can turn to for help, and nowhere to go. How dare the earl break the promise his father had made to the Beresfords without so much as a twinge of conscience?

Fate plays her hand when Lucy discovers the earl unconscious and injured in the middle of the road. When he awakens with no recollection of who he is, Lucy seizes the opportunity to teach the earl a much-needed lesson in humility and tells him that he is nothing more than a mere servant. Her servant, in fact. 

And thus begins the charming tale of a pompous lord and an impetuous young woman, caught together in a web so tangled that it begs the question: Will they ever get out?

Guys, I loved this book so much. I often complain that Regency novels all feel the same. You can only tell a Regency Romance so many ways when limited by the social constraints and customs of the time. But this novel felt fresh and entertaining and funny, which is something you don’t always see in this genre. I can’t wait to read more of Anderson’s work. FIVE out of FIVE STARS.

Buy The Fall of Lord Drayson on Amazon

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The Start of Me and You, by Emery Lord

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live? 

This one is an adorable Young Adult Contemporary romance that was nerdy and sweet and pretty much perfect in every way. The chemistry was so good, the characters felt authentic and oh, so real, and the writing was effortless. I wouldn’t call this one fluffy–it has some depth because of the personal struggles the main character faces, but it’s not heavy either. It’ll make you swoon in all the right places and leave you smiling and happy. A sweet feel good love story perfect for fans of contemp YA. FIVE out of FIVE STARS.

Buy The Start of Me and You on Amazon

It’s 2014, and I’m . . . Here? I think?

Guys, this is so hard. It’s been so long and it feels like I’ve forgotten how to put words together. It’s funny, my writing started with blogging and now the thought of writing a blog post feels harder than writing a novel. But I have things I want to say so I’m pushing forward, hoping I’ll fall into some sort of a rhythm. I know better than aspiring to regular blog posts. (I’ll be happy if I make it to the end of THIS post.) But maybe if I get my feet wet again (by writing a post about nothing? I’m beginning to question my reasoning here.) it will feel easier to come and talk and share and write.

I didn’t post anything on Facebook or here on the blog about the New Year. I didn’t pick a word or make a list of New Year’s Resolutions. I didn’t even think about what my resolutions would be if I did decide to write them down. Last year rolled into this one with little fanfare or reflection. That feels a little sad, so let’s reflect, shall we?

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2013 was a good year. My family life morphed into something that frequently makes my head spin.  My oldest turned twelve, a landmark that brings all sorts of added activities and responsibilities. My youngest turned 1, turning my life into a constant stream of toddler induced chaos and total mayhem MOST OF THE TIME. Nothing screams peace like a toddler in a diaper, standing in the center of your kitchen table flicking the keys off your laptop.  I mean, I’m not complaining. He’s totally adorable which makes the mayhem much more tolerable. But oh my word, he makes me tired. Funny how easy it is to forget how destructive a tiny person can be until you have another one, streaking naked around your living room, squealing with delight and sloshing his overturned bottle around like a maraca, spraying your sofa, your hair, your dog, even the ceiling with tepid milk. You can feel it, can’t you? The peace that fills my home? 

Also contributing to the general peace and quiet around here, 2013 was also the year we started homeschooling our three elementary age children. Because of limited educational opportunities in our very small town, we felt like it was the best option for our kids. I’ve been told all you should strive for the first year of homeschooling is simply to survive. And well, we are surviving. But I’m also not afraid to admit it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The constancy and the noise and the SO MANY THINGS to keep up with. It hasn’t been easy. It’s getting easier though, slowly but surely, which is promising. We’re settling into more of a routine and I’m learning not to be too hard on myself when things don’t go as planned. Because really. When does anything ever go as planned?

The House at Rose Creek Cover2013 was the year of The House at Rose Creek. Oh, what a lovely experience it has been to have my book out there in the world. I can’t think of it without feeling humbled and grateful and so happy that I have the opportunity to write and share my words with others.

book signingThe book launch party in August was a highlight of my year. I’ll never forget how wonderful it was to have so many people that I love helping me celebrate. It was a great night. My next book, tentatively titled Mountains Between Us (don’t get attached, it’ll likely change in the editorial process) is due out in August, 2014. I love this one even more than the first and can’t wait for everyone to read it.

I’m also working on a third novel, this one for the mainstream fiction market, which is both thrilling and terrifying all at the same time. To publish in the national market, rather than the smaller, niche LDS Fiction market, I’ll need to get an agent, a process I hope I’ll be ready for by Spring. I hope I’m ready; I think I’m ready. Nearly Nell (again, working title, but I’m hoping it’s one that will stick around) is a novel I really, really love. (I say this like it’s unusual… like there are authors out there who say, “I wrote a book but I don’t really love it.” Just bear with me, okay? I’ll be done in a minute.) It’s a story that is so very different than my first two and I hope beyond all hope it can find a home somewhere out there in the literary world. I’ve been told the agent hunt is grueling, but I’m hopeful.

Other 2013 happenings? I celebrated 13 years of marriage to a man I’m still falling in love with, more every day. I attended my first LDStorymakers Conference and met many of my online friends in person, validating the unusual fact that many of them I already considered to be among my most cherished friends. The writing community is a wonderful thing to be a part of, that’s for sure. 2013 was the year of musical beginnings for the kids… cello, violin, guitar, piano. We are a noisy house. But it is noise I love.

I have high hopes for 2014; for the family, for my husband’s career, for my writing. But one day at a time, you know? Anything more than that, and it all starts to feel far too overwhelming.

Seriously. Is this adorable, or what. These little people make me very happy. Also very crazy. But mostly very happy.

Seriously. Is this adorable, or what? These little people make me very happy. Also very crazy. But mostly very happy.