THE ROMANCE REVIEWS 4th Anniversary Party

trrIt’s a month long celebration and I’m there! Well, I’ll be there tomorrow for a Question & Answer type game.   I’m offering up an ebook copy of Drive Me Sane to the person who wins.  And along with me, there are hundreds of other authors with prizes galore!  Head on over to The Romance Reviews for all the details.  Please note that you must be registered and logged into their site to take part in the giveaways.

I must admit, I’m partial to this site.  Unknown to me, my publisher submitted Drive Me Sane to them for a review.  Needless to say, I was beyond words and in tears with their response.  No lie!  I bawled like a baby.

You can find Angi’s 4 Star Review here or below:

“They fell in love as teens but their fears and frustrations as young adults drove them apart. Years have passed and, now, both their lives are on a downward spiral. An unforeseen chance to reconnect is the second chance they both desperately need to exorcise old hurts, as well as conquer the troubles that are currently holding each of them hostage.

Discharged from the Army and suffering PTSD after a tour in Afghanistan, Sera Cavins makes a quiet return to her Uncle Roy’s empty home in Kentucky to attempt to get her broken life back together. The remorse, regret, and guilt she feels has manifested into fears she’s not ready to confess to anyone. Finding her former fiancé Tyler Creech at her uncle’s home brings back even older hurts that make it doubly hard for Sera to hide the many secrets that steal her peace of mind and sap her wounded spirit.

Up and coming country music star Tyler Creech’s life is being consumed by the demands of his career, and his life no longer seems his own. The mounting pressure is taking both a physical and mental toll on him, so a few weeks’ hiatus at his mother and stepfather Roy’s home in Kentucky is where he hopes to work through some of the issues that are leaving him sleepless and torn. He never expected to run into Sera Cavins, the woman who pushed him away and who still haunts him with unresolved heartache and regrets.

If they can bear to share the same roof, maybe they can finally uncover the reasons behind their broken engagement and broken lives, let go the pain and fear and, finally, heal and move forward together.

Debut author Dena Rogers makes a spectacular entrance to the field of romance with this nicely paced emotional tale that’s sole focus is on mending broken hearts and broken lives. In my humble opinion, one can’t help but applaud the author’s tackling of the subject of PTSD in a former female soldier, and I thought her handling of the subject was relevant, vividly moving, and very well done.

With regards to Sera, I found her attempts to repress her emotions, as a means of self-protection, to be utterly convincing and understandable, even though I found I didn’t always like her when she engaged these defense mechanisms. Ms. Rogers nicely countered Sera’s actions with the often understated actions of Tyler, whom she characterized with the compassionate ability to understand and sense Sera’s needs in the face of his own troubled emotions. This balance of give and take in characterization truly enhanced the gradual changes in this couple’s relationship and kept the plot moving with new revelations and just enough valid recriminations to keep Tyler and Sera’s relationship grounded and real.

Despite the novella length of DRIVE ME SANE, this tale has lots of depth, adequate back story, and there are few psychological or emotional issues that are left untouched. Crafting such a compelling story in approximately one hundred pages is a feat that deserves recognition and surely designates Dena Rogers as a talented new author to watch.”

Tis’ The Season

It seems like I just sat down to write my Hello December post and here we are three weeks into the month.  It’s a busy time for everyone, myself included.  Knowing that I’ll be off of work for twelve days, at the end of the month, means that I have to pack four weeks worth of work into two and a half weeks and since my oldest son turns thirteen in a couples days, I’ve got birthday shopping/party(cake and dinner at home) to do on top of finishing up my Christmas shopping.  As of today, I have only purchased four gifts, all of which were ordered online.

My family, some friends, and co-workers also sponsor a local boys home for Christmas gifts each year. Normally we do one cottage of approximately 13 boys, but my sister and her husband, who financially back the biggest portion of this task, decided this year we would take on the entire home.  We are supplying gifts and stockings to a total of 36 boys, ages 8-18.  Last Sunday was spent organizing what we already have and I’ll spend this Sunday getting the stockings ready so that they can be delivered on the 23rd.  By the time Christmas Eve at my in-laws rolls around, I’ll be exhausted, but like I said, I’ll have plenty of time to rest at the end of the month.

With everything going on, I haven’t actually sat down and written a post in weeks and I probably won’t get around to writing anymore until the end of the year.  I have some bookie things still going on.   Pure Jonel is hosting a giveaway of one print copy and one digital copy of Drive Me Sane beginning today and running through the 31st.  I’ll also be on her blog December 25th talking about things I love.  FYI, I’m sharing my super, easy and favorite white chocolate fudge recipe, so be sure to stop by and say hello.  InD’Tale Magazine also featured their review of Drive Me Sane in their holiday edition.  I’ll post that soon.

In the meantime, I’ve been critiquing and beta reading for two other authors.  So far, I have only scanned my NaNo project, hoping that a few of the hangups, I know it has, will work themselves out.  I’m excited to finally dive back into it while I’m off on Christmas break.  An author I met on NaNo looked at the first three chapters and gave me some positive feedback with some areas to develope.  I’m also hoping another author friend is still open to taking a look and critiqueing it with me after the first of the year.

So, yes like everyone, Tis’ The Season to be busy, but I’m trying to take it as it comes.

I’m over the moon today after reading Pure Jonel’s 5 Star review of Drive Me Sane.  Be sure to stop by and enter the giveaway for a signed print copy and digital copy beginning today through December 31st!  And if your needing a quick dessert to make on Christmas Day, check back in for that fudge recipe- no cooking required!Natural BridgeHad a blast at Natural Bridge State Park last weekend.  Thanks to all who stopped by!

Virtual eBook Fair & Author Bash

Tis the Season … Come join the fun!



Virtual Ebook Fair – Author & Book Bash!!! 


Hosted by Award winning author: Tammie Clark Gibbs &
Reader’s Rock Lifestyle Magazine for Booklovers. 

*Meet Authors and Ask them Questions

*Prizes & Giveaways

*Find Amazing New Books

I’ll be giving away a digital copy (or two) of Drive Me Sane.  Join the fun at Jingle Bells, Mistletoe & Magic or stop by the VIRTUAL EBOOK FAIR WEBSITE for more information.  Hope to see you there.






“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” 

                                                                                                                                          – Victor Hugo

Some of my fondest memories from my childhood are of my cousins and I running around and attempting to entertain ourselves while trying to stay out of trouble at my grandparents farm.  It wasn’t a task that was always easy when you had no TV, phone or game systems to keep you occupied.  Or maybe it was, being that we were out in the middle of nowhere without the concern of strangers, and pretty much left to our own devices.  We left the house each morning with a spoon and an empty tin pie pan and didn’t come back until lunch.  I can guarantee that I am an excellent mud pie maker because of it.  Honestly, I don’t remember going in for lunch, although I’m sure we did.  Then again, maybe not.  We were so busy playing outside the idea of food probably never crossed our mind.  And I’m sure my grandmother, who usually had five or six of us there at a time, figured we’d come in when we were hungry and was just thankful for an afternoon of peace.  We built log cabins out of firewood, made a pirate ship in the hayloft, and yes sadly, we found chasing chickens around the coop, fun.   The good old days … yes they were.  It’s an era my children will never experience, but one that I wouldn’t trade for all of the electronics in the world.  Okay, maybe I won’t go that far.

Once night fell, it could get pretty boring.  Your only choices for entertainment were board games, cards, and the radio.  Aaahh yes, they did own a radio, and I’m certain my love for music was formed in their living room, dancing with my cousins to the likes of Conway Twitty, Lorretta Lynn, and The Oak Ridge Boys.  My taste  has varied since then.  I’ve always been partial to country, but I really have no prejudices and will listen to almost anything, except Bluegrass.  I know what your saying, I live in the Bluegrass state, how can I not appreciate something that’s imbedded into Kentucky’s culture?  I’m a Texan remember?  Seriously, I just don’t care much for Bluegrass or at least the greater portions of it, although I can definitely see the talent that goes into making it.  Unfortunately I was not gifted with any musical talents.  I tried  playing the violin and flute (sorry I never went to band camp), and was terrible at both.  My voice is equally horrible, however I still make my family suffer through my performances in the car.   For me, music is the ultimate inspiration.  I think for life in general, but mostly for my writing.  Aside from one specific piece, pretty much every thing I’ve written has been inspired by music in one way or another.  If you’ve been following my blog, you know the inspiration for Drive Me Sane came from listening to Tyler Farr’s song Redneck Crazy.  And if you haven’t, you can catch up on that post here.

I recently added my works in progress to this site.  At least I listed the three that are somewhat close to being complete.  I have a few more, some further along than others, but they are mostly just a paragraph here or chapter there.  I try to jot an idea down when it comes.  Which brings me to my point today.  I’m sorry if you clicked on my post thinking it would be about “The Boss.”  Okay, really I’m not sorry, but I’m glad you’re here.  Springsteen isn’t only the surname of one of the most well known musical icons of our time, it’s also the title of a song by Eric Church, which happens to be a reference to that icon.   Unlike Redneck Crazy, when I got an idea for a story the first time I heard the song, I had heard Springsteen numerous times and never did it draw any kind of spark.  And then one day, something clicked and a story started floating through my head.

I bumped in to you by happenstance
You probably wouldn’t even know who I am
But if I whispered your name, I bet there’d still be a spark – Springsteen by Eric Church

Springsteen or more specifically the lyrics above are what developed the idea for Keep Me Sane.  Yes, I know what you think, it’s a sequel.  But it’s not.  It simply shares in the music theme of Drive Me Sane and that’s all.  Who knows, the title may change, but for now that’s the name that has stuck.  I won’t go into what the story is about.  You’re welcome to check out my page, Keep Me Sane, if you’d like a little hint, but for now, I’ll leave you with a short (unedited) excerpt, and oh a video.  Give Mr. Church a look. I mean really look at him.  He’s nice on the eyes 🙂


And then, the image that had burned through his mind for the past two years, stared right back at him. The most exquisite color of emerald he’d ever seen; deep yet brightly alluring.  If he hadn’t known better, he would have sworn her eyes were enhanced by colored contacts.  But they weren’t. He knew because he’d asked.  Cringing, he thought of the immature pickup line he’d used to get her attention.—It should be a sin to have eyes that beautiful.

“Meghan?” he asked, holding his breath.  The seconds ticked off allowing his fingers to tingle with excitement from the feel of her bare skin underneath his palm.  He let go of her arm when she turned round and wrinkled up her nose with dissatisfaction.  Swallowing hard, for a second he questioned his memory, but then the dimple in her chin deepened.

It was her.

He’d kissed that sweet little indention for hours on end, and hadn’t stopped there. Her mouth, her neck, the spot behind her ear that made her squirm like a two year old—he’d tasted every inch of her body, from north to south.  And sweet, she was.  Her flavor fused to his tongue for days afterwards.

Running his tongue over the inside of his lips, he could almost taste her now. Except now, that pretty little mouth that had done its own pleasuring, twisted in a pout.

         “No, I’m sorry.” The woman shook her head.

No?  He would have bet all his money in the bank that it was, but didn’t dare argue when a fleck of grief filled her face.  Whoever she was, she obviously had more important matters on her mind than reconnecting with an old friend.  Friend?  They weren’t even that.  He didn’t even know her last name.  A one night stand—distasteful as it sounded, but that was all they’d had.  One night, but what a night it had been.

And since we are talking about music, my new friend and romance writer, Julie Stock is celebrating 100 likes on her Facebook page with a giveaway for those of you that live across the pond. I know there are a few of you hanging around, so go say hi, and answer her question for some cool stuff. And even if you aren’t from the UK, like her page anyhow. She’s putting on the final touches of her debut novel, From Here To Nashville, which I’m excitedly awaiting.  Also, follow her blog to keep up with her journey to being a published author.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Dr.Suess“You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  You’re on your own. And you know what you know.  And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go …”

I may be showing my age here, but I’m part of the WWW. generation.  The people who went from teenagers to adults in an era that literally blew up with technology.  I was 18 when the world-wide web took off, and the idea of talking to others online was quite interesting and amazing. Back then chat rooms were the thing.  I have no idea if those still exist since we have so many other options with all the social media outlets available, but at the time, chat rooms had a certain appeal.  My friends and I used to “hang out” in them, talking to people we didn’t know.  Of course that was before things went wild and you had to be more cautious about who you befriended.  I can honestly say, that I’ve never had a bad experience.  Well … maybe one.  Although, I don’t consider it bad.  Freshly out of high school and “hanging” in a room, I had a married couple ask me to join them for some extracurricular activities 🙂 or let’s say I assume they were a married couple.  Who knows, they might have been two ex-con’s ready to kidnap me if I’d agreed.  I politely declined, they politely apologized and that was it, so no harm done.  It wasn’t until years later that fears started to rise.  Kids running away to meet strangers, identities stolen, lives forever changed.  I think it’s pretty safe to say that  kids nowadays are taught from an early age the dangers of being online and us adults have become overly cautious about our activity, so much that we ensure that our social media sites are private and secure.   After all, the world is full of people waiting to prey on other’s.  Right?


And wrong.

If becoming a writer has taught me one thing, it’s that the world isn’t as terrible as most of us believe.  There are also some really good people out there.  And social media isn’t only filled with criminals waiting in lieu to steal your information.  It’s also filled with an array of folks who are genuinely good-hearted and genuine.  I know this because I’ve met some of them, maybe not physically, but some that I truly care for and hope that their days are filled with happiness.  I know Twitter and Facebook can be fairly fake at times.  There are a lot of people I follow and who follow me back that are only interested in hoarding a bunch of followers to try to sale their books, promote their music, deliver a message or whatever else their cause and reason may be.  Maybe that’s the way to go.  Maybe a mass of followers will get you a best seller.  I haven’t figured out the key to that since I’ve only published one book and I’m confident in saying that it hasn’t made any kind of “list” yet.

However, I do look at every person whom I follow profile page.  And if I share their stuff, it’s usually because, they are one of those people I call a friend or because they’ve shared something of mine and I’m returning the favor or maybe it’s because it caught my eye and was something that I really liked.  Yes, I know some just retweet everything that flows through their feed and again, maybe that works for them.  I’m no professional and in no position to be doling out advice, so I’m not going to say what is right or wrong.  All I can draw from is my experience and that is, to interact with people.  In by doing so, you’ll not only gain a few followers, you might gain a few friends that are willing to pitch in and help you along the way.

So what does any of this have to do with Dr. Seuss or the places you’ll go?  My personal Facebook page recently had a spike in friend request from people I don’t know.  As I said, I always look at a person’s profile before I add them and usually I can make the connection of where they found me by friends we have in common.  I can only be hopeful that maybe these folks want to be my friend because because they’ve read my book and think it’s super awesome.  Honestly, I’m really not that entertaining, so they’ll probably be disappointed.  I post the occasional picture of my kids, update  the goings on of my book, but other than keeping up with what everyone else is doing, I don’t interact a whole lot there.  So when I received a friend request from a lady in Australia and we had no friends in common, I was a little leery of clicking the “add” button.  That was until I received a message saying that she’d read my book and really enjoyed it.  Wow! I thought.  Not only because she read my book and enjoyed it, but because she’s from Australia.  Australia!  I’ve never been to Australia, but I’d love to go.  When I asked her how she’d come across my book, she said that she’d seen it on a post I made on Susan Mallery’s page.  Do any of you know who Susan Mallery is?  Her Wikipedia page say’s she’s a New York Times best selling author of more than 80 books.  To me, she’s big time 🙂  I love her Fool’s Gold series.  She’s one of the authors I follow simply because I love their stuff and enjoy reading their post.  She’s also very generous and is constantly hosting giveaways.  One night, she even opened her Facebook page up to other authors, allowing them to post links to their books and asked any readers that liked what they saw to make sure they let the author know that.  Taking a gamble, I posted mine.  The result … at least one book sold and a new friend.  I am truly amazed by the generosity of others.  People you’ve never met that reach out and befriend you and are willing to help you promote your work.   Those people that I now consider friends.

“Oh, the Places you’ll go …” Maybe I haven’t been to Australia, but my book is there, so does that mean since a piece of me went into writing that book, that I’ve been there too?   If so, then I’ve also been to England, Canada and New York and even parts of Kentucky that’ I’ve never visited.   “You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.  And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.”  -I’m sorry Dr. Seuss, I have to disagree with you here, sometimes you have no say in where you’ll go, because with the help of some good friends and generous folks, there is no telling the places you’ll end up.


A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about whether reviews really mattered.  At the time, it was my most popular post, driving in more traffic and comments than anything I had previously written.  In case you didn’t see it, I’ll catch you up.  As a reader, I’ve never been one to care about book reviews.  Other’s opinions about a prospective book have never swayed whether I’ll read something or not, but as a writer, I’ve come to realize how heavily reviews do impact other readers.  When I made the decision to pursue publication, I promised myself that I wouldn’t get caught up in reviews and honestly, so far I’ve done pretty well. That was until Mr. Yancy Caruthers contacted me about reviewing my book.  I’ll give you the short version of my concerns.  Drive Me Sane, centers around Tyler, a musician and Sera, an army veteran suffering from PTSD after a deployment to Afghanistan.  Mr. Caruthers is an army veteran who served two deployments in Iraq.  I did not see this review going well.  It made me reconsider everything I’d written and whether or not I accurately portrayed Sera’s condition or totally mess up the military aspects of the story. My first instincts were to decline the offer, but after careful thought, I sent it to him anyway.  With that being said, here is my dreaded review:

“I don’t generally read light romance, but I was intrigued by Sera, a combat vet trying to make sense of real life again as she deals with Tyler, a spectre from her life before war. The opening scene made me think, “Okay, now I’ve got to read this.” What I found is that Rogers has the ability to write a light, readable story that took me through the gamut of reactions to the two main characters – at various times I thought they were thoughtful, irritating, kind, and mean to each other, and never at the same time. What I like the most about Drive Me Sane was the constant, alternating frustration that each of them felt as the relationship developed – it felt genuinely warm and at the same time cut a little bit.

Anyone looking for a decent love story that reads effortlessly, pick up a copy. ”

In all fairness and with Mr. Caruthers permission, I’d also like to share some of his thoughts that he personally conveyed to me.  Yes, not only did I get a good review, but I was also fortunate enough to get some honest feedback.

“This reads very smoothly, and you are doing more showing than telling and I like that.  When she started throwing rocks at his truck, I figured out that she wasn’t going to be happy to see him.  Kudos to that scene, although it could do with a little bit more fire.  Combat vets get angry a lot more colorfully.”

“I wouldn’t normally read romance, but the military tie-in intrigued me.  I haven’t yet found any inconsistencies, save one.  Most military folks don’t use the PTSD label.  There’s still a stigma to it, as the label is still associated with whiners and check-chasers (and I’ve met several of each).  For most of us, it’s just a collection of symptoms.  There are nightmares and loud noises and crowds and fireworks and anger and isolation.  But we don’t generally lump all that together and throw it in the same bag – not when we are referring to ourselves.  An official diagnosis is a certain number of these symptoms, but most war vets have at least one or two.”

“Your style is very light and easy to read and the pacing is flawless – something I don’t see too much.  It’s a little heavy on narrative and I would consider breaking up some of the longer paragraphs.  It’s grammatically correct, but shorter paragraphs are easier to digest.  I have no idea why.”

“Finished your book – loved the way it ended. I’m not a reader of light romance…It’s well written, decently edited, and very easy to read (I know I’ve said that three or four times, but it’s true).  You’ll recognize my review on Amazon when it posts. Cheers and happy writing.”

So there was some good with the bad and I’m okay with that. And I’m definitely okay with sharing it.  More than anything, I appreciate his honesty and come to realize that reviews do matter.  Maybe not as a reader, at least not to me.  But as a writer they can be a valuable tool. I’m happy to take the constructive criticism and learn from it.

Thank you, Yancy, for your kindness and honesty.
A final thought, Mr. Caruthers did not inform me that he had written a memoir of his time in Iraq.  I found that out on my own after I sent him a copy of Drive Me Sane for review–Yes, I check people out:).  However I do look forward to reading Northwest of Eden soon.  You can find it on Amazon.

Do Reviews Really Matter?

Apparently they do, at least to some people. I’m not one of those that read a review before buying a book. In fact, I never look at the reviews until I’m finished and then it’s only to see if other’s felt the way I did towards it. I’m a title, cover, blurb girl. If the title and cover catch my attention, I’ll turn it over to read the blurb and then if it’s something that catches my eye, I buy it. But never do I look at the reviews prior. I’ll be honest, I don’t really get the whole book review thing. This is coming from someone that has done review’s for a couple different sites, but as a reader, I don’t understand why someone would judge a book based on another person’s opinion. We are all different and like different things. Maybe I’m not the norm, but I’d rather try something out and make my own opinion. However in attempting to market my book, I have come to realize just how important reviews are. I’ve previously mentioned the struggles of asking book bloggers to write a review. I’ve received two. One was mediocre. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad, they said they liked it. The other was an amazing review, the kind that every first time author wants to have. So, right there goes to show you that opinions differ. However I’ve come to notice that many readers want to see not only positive feedback about a potential book, they want numbers. They don’t want five reviews, because we all know those first reviews come from our friends and family. They want to know what people who don’t know us think of our book. I don’t have a problem with this. I’m not an easily offended person. I know my writing isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea and I know there are going to be good reviews along with the bad. So I’ve continued to seek out unbiased reviewers, but it’s not always an easy task. Late last night, I sent another request. This wasn’t aimed at a specific blog or blogger, but a group of authors, readers, publishers and reviewers, whom pick and chose what they are interested in. I received a response today and after seeing the subject I was excited. Yes! I got a hit. But then I read the message and my stomach knotted and my chest heaved in a big sigh. My first instinct was to reply with, “Thank you for your interest, but I’d prefer that you didn’t review my book.” It might sound crazy, but that was my honest reaction. Maybe I should back up and tell you a little about my story so you’ll understand my predicament. The heroine in Drive Me Sane is an army veteran suffering from PTSD after a deployment to Afghanistan. It’s funny that just as I sat down to write this, I read a blog post of a friends that entailed how writing about what you know leads to writing about things you don’t know (Thanks Bill). I grew up near Ft. Hood, Texas so the military has always played a role in my life. I come from a strong military family; my husband served, my sister and brother in law both served, even my dad was in for a short time. I have several cousins and uncles who have also spent time in the armed forces, as well as, many friends who have devoted time as well. As for me, I thought about it once. Fresh out of high school and in my first year of college, I even went to see a recruiter. I was all up for it until I was informed that I’d be showering with other woman while in basic training.  That was the end of that idea. So I have no personal experience with being in the military and definitely no experience with PTSD. And yet, I chose to write about a female character that has experienced those things. It wasn’t the path that I set out to take. I knew my girl would be in the army, but never intended for PTSD to be a part of my story. It just happened that way. I researched the disorder and spoke to people about it, which did help in trying to develop her character, but I’m also a true believer in that if you’ve never walked in someone’s shoes, you truly have no idea how they felt. Which brings me up to point. My response came from a two time Iraqi War veteran. A gentleman whom has experienced the things that I know nothing about, yet tried to convey through words for others to read as enjoyment. Do you see my delimina? I see this going one of two ways: really bad or really good. I knew at some point my book would likely fall into the hands of a female soldier and I’ve always had mixed feelings about that. I worry if I missed something or if I stayed true to fact. I suppose every new author has concerns about these things. So my first instinct was no, I’d rather he not read it, because I’m sure what I’ve written can never stand up to the real thing and the last thing I would ever want to be is disrespectful in anyway. It took me five hours to think about it and respond, because not only will he be reading this from a soldiers perspective, he will also be reading it from a man’s. Please don’t think I’m being biased, but the truth is, romance is generally a woman’s genre. So it does surprise me a little when a man say’s he’s going to read it. In the end, yes I sent him a copy. Because, as a writer, I need to learn to overcome these fears. The fear of offending or completely botching it up.

So back to my question: are reviews really all that important? Generally, I’d say no. But this one? Yes, it’s very important, because it’s coming from someone who, to a certain degree, has lived my story and their thoughts will hold a great deal of meaning to me.

What’s in a song?

What goes into writing a song? I suppose it’s a lot like writing a book, something sparks the idea and there you go, but I’ll get more into that in a minute. Right now I want to address what’s more important. It’s RELEASE DAY! I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. Well…if I’m being honest, I haven’t really been sitting around and waiting. It’s something I’ve thought about, but never imagined would happen. I began writing seriously about ten years ago. I dabbled in it as a teen and always loved writing essays for school, but it was never anything I ever considered for a career. My plans included law school, but then I met my husband, moved to Kentucky, had kids and well you get the point.  Law school never happened, and I’m thankful for it every day.  Because I work closely with the field and know without a doubt that I would have been miserable.  Besides, for the most part, I like what I do, even though it isn’t always easy.  It’s probably why I read so much-to escape the real lives of everyday people whom I encounter. But that isn’t necessarily true either. I’ve always been a reader. It started when my mom took my sister and I to the library one day and I checked out a book by Christopher Pike. I was about eight, so it’s been a while since I’ve read any of his books and I can’t remember any of their titles, but his name has always stuck with me. Needless to say, my obsession with mystery and suspense was born. I remember the way my heart raced with anticipation and how even though I’d be scared to death, I’d still want to finish the book. From then on I’ve had a love affair with reading and although I haven’t always been faithful, I always seem to come back to it. When marriage, kids, and work took a front seat, it was another trip to the library that again sparked my interest. I took my son to story time and while waiting for it to begin, passed by a rack of paperbacks. A book by the name of Night Sin’s caught my eye.  Tami Hoag is now one of my favorite authors. It seems weird that my passion has always been in mystery and suspense and that I write romance, but I’m not particularly choosy in what I read. I love a little bit of everything, but romance for now, is where I’m comfortable.

When I say I began writing seriously ten years ago, everyone automatically assumes Drive Me Sane has been ten years in the making. Nothing could be further from the truth. My first completed novel still sits on my hard drive. I’ve never submitted it to anyone and I’m not really sure if I’ll ever do anything with it. I think the storyline is decent, but it needs a lot of work. I’ve considered turning it into short story for an introduction to another work in progress, but I just can’t seem to get on the ball. It’s like one of my kids that I don’t want to let go. Drive Me Sane is actually a relatively new story for me. It’s not been quite a year since the idea popped into my head, while driving home from a race at two in the morning.  Both kids were asleep in the backseat and as usual, I had the music turned up and was singing away.  Then a song came on that I didn’t know, so I just listened.  I’m not one of those people who hear a song and immediately fall in love with it.  I’d never heard of Tyler Farr or his song Redneck Crazy before that night, but the words really drilled inside me and made me think about relationships and how we handle breakups.  I know some of you that don’t listen to country music might be turned off by the title, but it’s not a hyped up in your face redneck song. It’s actually a love ballad and the lyrics made me realize that we don’t always react to a breakup the way we’d like to.  In fact, we do some silly and sometimes embarrassing things. I went home that night, bought the song and the next morning began what would eventually become Drive Me Sane. I’d like to go ahead and answer what anyone who knows this story asks. Is my hero based on Tyler Farr? No. I do not know, nor have I ever met Mr. Farr-although, I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea :). I did catch one of his shows at The Tin Roof in Lexington, but in no way is my hero a reflection of him in anyway.  I do enjoy his music though. In fact several of his songs are on my Drive Me Sane playlist, but he as a person was not an inspiration.  My hero and him simply share the same first name and profession.  In fact, I tried to name my hero anything but Tyler.  I toyed around with different names and nothing would stick. Tyler isn’t a name I particularly love. No offense, but it’s not something I’d name one of my boys, but it seemed I kept coming back to it and so I finally gave up. That’s the problem a writer. Sometimes your characters speak to you and you may not always like it or agree, but you have to go with what they want. It’s just the way it is.

It took me five months to get my story at a place I was happy with and confident enough to submit. I was in the process of writing query letters and synoptsis’ when I saw an online pitch opportunity through twitter. Prior to writing Drive Me Sane, I had only submitted one other piece of work. It was declined and looking at it now, I completely understand why. It was rough and like my first finished novel, still needs a lot of work. But I felt good with Drive Me Sane and although apprehensive, I was determined not to let one reject deter me. So I entered the online pitch and had not only one, but two of it’s editors interested. Needless to say, three weeks later, I got a nice email saying your storyline is strong, but there are some issues with the manuscript that don’t make it as strong as we’d like. I’ve done enough research to know that not every publisher gives detailed feedback, but I was lucky enough that I got a few pointers of where my story faltered. So I put my manuscript away, thought about what they said and began working through the suggestions in my head. Two weeks later, I was well into the new edits. And then I saw another twitter pitch for a different publisher. For days leading up, I thought about entering and finally decided I wasn’t ready. I still had some work to do and I’m not the kind that throws things out half finished, but on the day of the pitch, it was still on my mind.  I had taken my son to the doctor and we decided to stop by my mom’s work to say hi. Sitting in the car, waiting for her to get off, I scanned through twitter and there it was again.  For whatever reason, it was just too tempting. So I typed out my 140 characters and waited. Nothing came quick, but then I got a response asking for more detail. I’m not good at being put on the spot, so I nervously typed out something and waited. My next response was, “I’m not sure I understand the plot, but I like the characters.” Then they asked for the first five chapters. Two day’s later, after frantically combing through those first five, I sent them along with a query letter and synoptsis to Crimson Romance. A week went by and I didn’t hear anything. But, I did see a post advertising an online editing workshop. It was a three week course and it covered the topics that were what I had been initially told was wrong with my manuscript. So I decided to give it a go.  It’s been the best thing (as far as my writing is concerned), that I’ve done. It not only taught me about dialogue tags and comma splices, it let me know that I had no clue what an editor was looking for. A great idea and a terrible manuscript will not get you published. A decent idea with a decently edited manuscript, might. Three weeks, $75.00 and no word from Crimson (I assumed they weren’t interested), I began a major overhaul of Drive Me Sane. I completely tore it apart.  And then one day, in the midst of doing this, I woke up to an email that said, “I’m really intrigued by Sera and Tyler’s reunion. Could you please send me the full manuscript.” My exact words were “OH SHIT!” Remember me telling you about the adrenaline I felt as a kid when I read Christopher Pike’s books? Yeah, it came back except that it was much worse. I was excited and scared at the same time. My husband said, “That’s good.” But it wasn’t. Drive Me Sane was in a state of complete mess. I had about thirty five thousand words in a novel I submitted as having fifty-six. So for two weeks, I threw myself into getting it together. I worked on it through lunch, I shut myself in my room after work and barely came out. I lived on coffee and whatever I could find left over to eat. I did it, but it wasn’t easy and I couldn’t have done it without my husband who stepped up to the plate and took over at home. I added about fifteen thousand words and completely rewrote the ending, but I wasn’t all that hopeful when I sent  in my full manuscript ten days later.  I still wasn’t up to the word count they required and my story had changed so much, it didn’t coincide with the synopsis I’d sent them, but I was honest and up front.  I explained what I had done and that I understood if it was no longer something that they were interested in. Five days later, I got the news. They wanted to acquired my manuscript.
So here we are five months down the road and I have a published book. Yes, it was fast and crazy. It’s been thrilling and overwhelming at the same time. It’s even been scary, but it’s also been an experience that I’ll cherish forever. If I never get the opportunity again, at least I can say I accomplished what I set out to do.  Thanks Crimson for taking a chance on me and Jess, my editor, for truly understanding my characters.  I hope I don’t disappoint.

So what goes into a song? I really don’t know, but I can tell you want comes out of one. Sometimes it’s a mended heart or the strength to carry on. Sometimes it’s a memory of a good time. And sometimes it’s the idea for a book.

The full playlist of Drive Me Sane can be heard here: