The Key to Knowing if You're Ready for Publication

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

My oldest is graduating from high school. So I'm in the midst of planning a big graduation party for him. I'm not super creative when it comes to parties (apparently I use up all my creativity in my stories!). So our party will be pretty standard without a lot of bells and whistles--in the back yard with coolers of soda, tables of dessert and appetizers, etc.
My graduating senior!
One of the most asked questions I get about my son's graduation is, "Are you sad to see him go?" Since I try to be transparent, I usually respond, "No, actually I'm ready and so is he."

I've spent 18 years of my life preparing him for this point. I've poured out my heart, energy, time, resources, and many times even my tears into raising him. Was I perfect? Absolutely not. I made many mistakes.

Let's face it, parenting is confusing and hard and filled with uncertainties. We ask ourselves over and over as we set boundaries and make decisions, "Am I doing the right thing?"

We wouldn't question ourselves so much if we didn't love our children deeply and have their best interests at heart. We teach, train, and discipline them with the hope that one day they'll be able to stand on their own two feet with all the values, skills, and character qualities that they'll need to take their place in the world.

Nevertheless, no matter how hard we try to be good parents, our children are their own individuals with their own minds, dreams, and plans. They eventually have to take flight. And eventually we have to let them.

As writers, we face the challenge of letting go of our stories. We pour our hearts, energy, time, resources, and even tears into our books. We watch our stories take shape and grow. We're filled with uncertainties and ask ourselves continually if we're doing the right thing. We subject our stories to feedback and criticism with the hope that they will one day have what it takes to stand on their own.

Just like parenting, there are some writers who can let go, maybe even too easily. And others of us perhaps cling too tightly to our stories. How do we learn to have a healthy balance of not seeking publication too soon but also not letting fear hold us back from taking the next step?

The key in writing, like parenting, is: Preparation.

I've done all I  can to prepare my son to leave home. I've attempted to teach him to cook, do laundry, clean, manage his money, be responsible, have manners, etc. Notice I said, attempted. He's definitely not perfect (or even close to it!) in all areas. He has a lot of room for growth, and don't we all?

However, in spite of his short falls, he's a great kid, determined, and a hard worker. He's equipped to take the next step.

If we're struggling to know whether we're ready for publication, we need to ask ourselves: Have we spent enough time preparing? Maybe we don't need 18 years, but certainly we can't expect to be ready overnight. Have we learned necessary writing skills and techniques? Have we practiced them over and over? Have we taken the time and energy to learn all we can about the industry?

Maybe we won't be perfect. Maybe we still have room to improve, after all we're all still growing. But if we've attempted to do all we can to learn and grow, then we're likely ready to take the next step in our writing career.

My encouragement for writers seeking publication is this: We shouldn't rush to publish too early before we're ready. It may lead to undue frustrations which can take away the joy of writing. But we also can't let fear hold us back. At some point, after we've put in the time and effort, we can wisely and cautiously begin the process of seeking publication.

With enough preparation, hopefully we'll be able to say with confidence, "I'm ready and so is my book."

How do you think writers can tell if they're ready for publication? Are you rushing in to publication too soon? Or are you letting fear hold you back?

4 Steps That Can Keep Writers From Dismal Failure

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

This week I got an email from Shannon, a new writer, who is confused about the publishing industry.

She said this: "I started writing a book about 3 months ago. I sent a couple of chapters to a few publishing companies. They said I would get 70% of the royalties from each sale. They offer a wide variety of places they would sell my book, but they want almost $9000 to do all the printing, publishing, and so forth. I am simply confused! Please help me! I'm new at all this and don't know the safe avenues to publish my book. Am I supposed to get discovered?"

When I read Shannon's email, I was really impressed with her passion for writing. It was clear she loves writing and has ever since she was a child.

But it was also clear that Shannon really does need some help. That's no wonder. The modern publishing industry is huge and intimidating and overwhelming, especially to those who are just beginning to test the waters of publication. It was scary for me many years ago when I first started pursuing publication, and the industry has only become more confusing.

Let me break down the publication process into 4 basic steps for Shannon and anyone else thinking of jumping in: (This process applies to fiction-writing; non-fiction can be slightly different.)

1. Finish your novel before thinking of publication. 

In fact, I highly suggest finishing several novels. As I've said many times here on this blog, becoming an author requires as much training, education, and practice as any other profession.

Just because we "played doctor" as a child and became a CNA in high school, doesn't mean we're ready to work in the ER as an adult. To become a successful doctor, we'd have to go to medical school, do a residency, and then start at the bottom with the crappy jobs and work our way up.

Writing in our childhood and teen years can provide a good foundation, but to become a successful author we have to take the time, energy, and effort to learn all we can about what constitutes good fiction and how to craft a riveting story. Then we need to practice, practice, practice. And that just takes time.

2. After finishing a couple of novels, look for feedback. 

I would strongly, and I do mean strongly, caution any writer who assumes her work is good enough for publication without feedback. After writing 20 novels, I STILL seek feedback on every single book. No writer is capable of viewing her work objectively enough. The work is too big, too complex, and we're too limited and enmeshed to edit our book well enough on our own.

Writers can seek out feedback in numerous ways: critique partnerships, critique groups, feedback from contest judges, or beta readers (usually non-writers who give general story feedback). After getting feedback from fellow writers and readers, then the next step is seeking out a good editor who can provide both a content edit (looking at the overall story) as well as a line edit (looking at writing technique issues).

3. Once the manuscript is edited and polished, seek legitimate publication venues. 

Here's where I say, DO NOT, absolutely DO NOT pay anyone $9,000 to publish your manuscript. That's a scam (aka vanity publishing) and I know too many authors who've gone this route and never earned back even close to what they paid out.

Traditional publishers pay YOU (in the form of an advance) to publish your book, not the other way around. Because traditional publishers pay for books upfront with advances, they're much less willing to take risks and thus more picky about what books they take on. They rely heavily on agents for exposing them to new authors and potential books.That means writers who want to go the traditional route must often locate a literary agent to represent them and sell their manuscript to a publisher.

Nowadays, writers also have the option of self-publishing. Writers going this route may need to invest in a good cover, a couple of quality edits, and formatting, etc. Then writers can upload their books to online stores without paying a dime to the stores. Instead they split the profit with the online stores. Usually the writer gets to keep 70% of the profit on all books sold.

4. After the book is published, do your own marketing. 

No, DO NOT wait to get discovered. If you do, you'll likely wait forever. Whether traditionally or self-published, writers can't sit back and wait for readers to come to them. They won't come (at least beyond your mother, sister, and most loyal friends).

Instead, authors in today's publishing industry have the very hard task of drawing readers to their books. New writers have to face the reality that there are millions of books (and I do mean millions) that are competing for a reader's attention. So why would readers choose yours?

That's the challenge of today's marketing. You have to help readers understand why they should pick up your book. Why will they like it? What makes it stand out from others? What makes it unique and special?

I've written lots of posts about ways to market (and other writers have done the same), so I won't go into details in this post. The bottom line is that there's no easy formula for selling books. Marketing and getting discovered continue to be a challenge for both traditionally and self-published authors.

That's my advice for Shannon! What's yours? What have you learned about the publishing industry that you would share with a new writer seeking publication?

3 Act Structure: How Building a Framework Helps Organize a Story

Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

I received an email from a blog reader, Anna, asking for help with figuring out the framework of her story. She was struggling with how to handle diary entries (whether to use flashbacks or make them chronological), who to make the protagonist (mother, daughter, or both), which POV's to use (1st person for one and 3rd for another or something different), and a host of other questions.

Essentially I got the feeling from her that her story resembles a big 1000 piece puzzle dumped out on the table. And she doesn't really know how to piece it all together in the most meaningful way possible. Sure there are lots of different ways to go about organizing all the pieces–but what is the right way? Is there even a right way?

As I thought about Anna's struggle, I realized that one of the most helpful tools for organizing any story is the 3 Act Structure which has been used in classic writing and has also been adapted by modern screenwriters. Here's my summary of what the Acts contain:

I. Act 1: Big Set Up

• The character lives in her ordinary world, in the status quo, with limited awareness.

• The character has a call to adventure, the inciting incident, which is a situation that forces the character to see the world in a different way.

• The character has inner debates and reluctance but ultimately commits to the new goal.

II. Act 2: Middle Confrontation

• As the character begins her quest, obstacles arise that impede her progress.

• Further complications and higher stakes prevent the character from reaching her goal.

• Although the character fights back, challenges continue to push her toward a disaster or crisis.

III. Act 3: Resolution

• When the character reaches a climax or the black moment, she must make her final push to change, to defeat the inner and outer antagonists.

• During the "dark night of the soul" the character has her epiphany and inner transformation.

• The aftermath or the wrap-up of loose ends allows the character to lead to a new life with a new status quo.

I'm a firm believer in the 3 Act Story Structure. All of my books follow this. And most writing gurus preach it. There will be some variation in how each Act is structured, how long each one lasts, etc. But overall, most stories and films can be broken down into these elemental parts.

Essentailly, the 3 Acts form the outer boundary or the framework that hold everything else in the story together. Although pantsers and plotters each have different story-building methods, I suggest (especially for newer writers) putting together the framework first, just like putting the outer edge on a puzzle first.

Make a simple outline using the above steps. Such an outline helps us see the bigger scope of our story which then enables us to make smaller decisions about where to place items, what to include or not include, and what we might be missing to keep the plot moving forward.

Recently I've read a couple of books that weren't quite as traditional as what I'm accustomed to reading.

The first book was Code Name Verity, a YA book about two friends during World War II. One of the friends was a double agent captured by the Nazis and the second was a pilot for the RAF. The entire book was comprised of journal entries. The first half of the book was written as journal entries by one of the young woman and the second half by the other. There was a 3 Act Structure for both halves of the book, but interestingly also an overarching 3 Act Structure which tied both perspectives together.

Mr. Knightly by Katherine Reay is another book I read recently that was written more uniquely. It was told from the perspective of letters that the heroine wrote to an off-stage benefactor, Mr. Knightly. But again, even though the story was told through letters, the author still had a framework in place following the 3 Act Structure.

Two other books I've read that had non-traditional formats are: Orphan Train by Christina Kline and The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor. Both books alternate between a present story and past happenings. For those who are attempting different ways of piecing stories together, I suggest reading a variety of books like the ones I've mentioned in order to see how other authors handle the interior pieces while still maintaining an overall plot structure.

Whether we write traditional stories or whether we embrace something more unique by using flashbacks, letters, diaries, or any other creative method, an overarching story structure keeps us on track with the most essential elements, but then also helps us figure out how to organize all of those other little details.

What about YOU? Have you considered using the 3 Act Structure? Do you think such structure is helpful, or does it impede your creativity?

What to Do When First-Chapter Fears Paralyze Us

 By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

I recently started writing a new book (a historical that releases next fall). As I was writing the first chapter, I experienced an almost paralyzing fear.

It was a fear that raised its ugly serpent head and hissed in my ear:

"Can you really write this story?"

"What if you don't have what it takes?"

"Will you be able to convey all that you hope to?"

"What if readers don't like these characters or this story?"

The doubts and insecurities followed me relentlessly through those first chapters. Even though this is the twentieth full length novel that I've written. Even though I've tackled difficult historical time periods (some even more so). Even though I've handled equally important subject matter.

The honest truth is that no matter where we're at in our writing journeys, whether on the first or fiftieth book, we all face first-chapter fears. The key, however, is NOT to let those fears cause us to freeze up, close up, or give up.

I've now reached the one-third mark of this newest book. The story is unfolding and sweeping me along with it. I admit, from time-to-time that ugly serpent still raises its head and whispers insecurities in my ear. But overall, the fears are mostly behind me.

How can we push through fears and insecurities that arise as we write our first chapters? Here are a few of my strategies: 

1. Stick with the story even though you feel like giving up.  

Don't give yourself an out. Don't even consider for a moment that you won't write the book. In fact, give yourself a deadline and tell yourself that you will persevere no matter what, that you don't have a choice.

Even on my worst of days, I give myself daily word count goals. I force myself to keep working no matter how I feel. I base my writing on a conscious decision to show up with or without the desire to write. With or without inspiration. With or without fear. I write no matter what.

 2. Write anything to get something on the page. 

You don't have to know where you're going next. You don't need to have everything figured out. Just start putting words down. Say anything, even if it seems stupid, even if it may not particularly fit. Once we release the words, eventually our creativity comes out too. Spilling words on the page loosens creativity.

I experienced this in a recent scene I was writing. I didn't know where the scene was taking me. I wanted my hero and heroine to say goodbye to one another, but I didn't know how. So I simply started writing, whether it was clich├ęd or not, I put it down. And as I did so, the scene began to shape itself into something unique with a fun interaction. Write first. Creativity follows.

3. Always remember that your first attempt doesn't have to be perfect. 

Nothing is ever carved in stone in the first draft. You can always go back and tweak the opening. In fact, you may need to go back to rewrite the opening altogether. That's okay. Sometimes we have to write a crappy opening in order to get the story flowing. And once the story is flowing, we're then able to go back and re-create a better, more fitting opening.

During the self-editing stage of my last book, I ended up cutting 10k out of the book before I sent it to my publisher. Then during rewrites I cut and changed even more. It was much easier for me during the editing phase to stand back, to view the book objectively, and to chop what didn't work. If I keep that philosophy in mind while I'm in the first chapters of a new book, I'm better able to persevere when fear starts to paralyze me.

How about YOU? Have you ever been paralyzed by first chapter fears? What helps you persevere?

7 Setting Basics That Can Bring a Story to Life

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

I recently finished reading The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. While the story was fascinating and well-told, what captivated me the most were the setting details that the author wove in seamlessly. The Alaskan wilderness in the 1920's came alive to me in a magical way so that I felt like I was right there in that dark cabin eating moose steak and listening to the blizzard rattle the roof.

Setting is a critical aspect of story, but in critiquing and judging books, I find that it is often one of the most neglected or under-developed writing skills. It's usually something I have to work very consciously to incorporate into my own stories.

The fact is, writing setting is tricky. Sometimes we relay too much information, sometimes too little. Sometimes we share fluff instead of what's truly meaningful to the story.

As we look at ways that we can work at making the settings of our stories come alive, here are 7 basics that can help:

1. Refer to the setting more than once.

Most writers will remember to ground readers in the setting at the beginning of the scene. We often give at least a brief description of where our characters are at. But then as the scene progresses our characters often end up acting on a blank stage.

We have to remember throughout the scene to continue to keep our setting details alive for our readers by making subtle references. If our hero is sitting on the beach, we need to briefly describe the beach in the first few sentences of the scene, but then as the scene unfolds we can refer to the sound of the waves, or the squawk of the sea gull, or the stench of the seaweed. We need to keep hinting at the setting details throughout the scene, NOT just in the opening lines.

2. Use bite-size details.

Don’t dump large chunks of description in one place. Readers' eyes will usually skim a paragraph that is mostly or all description. We don’t want a large paragraph to sound like we took it straight from the Sears catalog. Instead we're better off dishing out details in bite-sizes which are more palatable and digestible for modern readers.

3. Weave description through the point-of-view character.

We should never randomly describe anything within our books. And of course we can’t describe everything. Rather, we need to be strategic in what we pick. One way to decide what deserves space on the page is to ask this question: What would THIS particular character notice? What would he see through his worldview, personality, past experiences, etc.?

For example, my hero isn’t going to notice that the color of my heroine’s dress resembles buttercups (unless he’s a florist). If he pays attention to the color at all, he’ll call it yellow. Now the heroine might notice the color AND the lace at the hem AND the embroidered collar, because she’s a woman and her dear grandmother lovingly sewed the dress for her.

4. Use description to set the mood.

Another way to pick what to describe is to decide what mood you want for the scene. If the mood is spooky, then you might point out the rancid odor of the decaying fish among the tangles of slimy seaweed. If it’s a happy scene you might describe the way the sunshine makes the sand sparkle like diamonds.

5. Pick items to describe that are important to the plot.

When I read a detailed description about one particular item, as a reader I like to think that "prop" is significant, that somehow it will come into play later in the book. Otherwise why would the writer spend so much time describing it?

Sometimes, as a literary technique, we can focus the camera lens more closely on the setting or a particular item when it’s important to the plot for purposes of symbolism, foreshadowing, or strategy. But we need to be careful not to lead our readers on with descriptions that don't matter.

6. Use all five senses to bring the setting to life.

Most writers can paint a vivid picture with words and SHOW a scene through the EYES of their character. But it takes much more work to add in smells, sounds, tastes, and textures. And it’s even harder to work in those ancillary senses without saying something like, “The room smelled like burnt coffee.” Instead we should strive to eliminate the actual sensory words and instead say something like, “The bitterness of the burnt coffee was so strong in the air she could almost drink it.”

While we can’t always avoid using the actual sensory word, the experience becomes stronger when we carefully select specific words that can evoke our readers’ sensory memories.

7. Be as specific as possible.

We can add authenticity (especially historical writers) when we are as precise as possible with what we’re naming and describing within our settings. We can say, “The drunkard had a cup of beer” or we can say, “The drunkard swigged a tankard of ale.”

The more we can specifically name details—whether particular kind of car, flower, tree, book, etc—then the more the more vivid the story becomes in our readers’ minds.

What did I miss? What else do you think is important when describing settings? Which of the above points do you struggle with the most?

How To Become an Amazingly Successful Author

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

I'm teaching a U.S. History class this year and recently we've been studying great American inventors and entrepreneurs. It's been a fascinating and enlightening study.

First I learned the definition of an entrepreneur: A person who organizes and manages a business undertaking. He or she is willing to risk failure for a chance at success.

Isn't that a cool definition? How willing are we to risk failure for the chance at success?

Andrew Carnegie was one such entrepreneur. Most of us probably only know him as the multi-millionaire philanthropist who became the largest producer of iron and steel in the United States. At the very least, most of us have heard of Carnegie Hall in NYC, a prestigious concert stage built by Andrew Carnegie in 1891.

But did you know that Carnegie was the son of poor Scottish immigrants? That he started working at the age of 13 as a bobbin boy in a cotton mill for $1.20 a week? He worked one menial job after another until by his mid-20's he worked his way up to a railroad executive. At age 30 he finally saved up enough capital to be able to go into business for himself. With savvy and many years of hard work, his business finally grew.

John D. Rockefeller was another entrepreneur. We know him today for developing Standard Oil and becoming a billionaire in the process. The famous Rockefeller Center in Manhattan consisting of 19 buildings (and the Rockefeller Plaza) was built by the Rockefeller family in the early 1900's.

Yet Rockefeller, like Carnegie, was of very humble origins. At age 16 he worked as an assistant bookkeeper for a merchant in Cleveland earning 50 cents a day. He kept working hard and getting promoted to better jobs. He saved money so that he could go into business for himself. He insisted on frugality and efficiency throughout his business, continually working hard while still maintaining quality products until his company eventually dominated the oil industry.

Another person that I totally admire is Thomas Edison, one of the most prolific inventors in history. Among 1,093 inventions, his greatest contribution was the incandescent electric light bulb. While involved in his projects, he often worked tirelessly for days at a time in his laboratory.

There are a few Edison quotes that I especially love:

"Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."

"I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work."

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."

"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."

All three of these men were amazingly successful in their own ways. And as I studied them, I realized that if we want to become amazingly successful writers, we can take a few lessons from them.

1. Don't be afraid to start small and be a nobody for a while. These men weren't from prestigious families. They weren't loaded with connections in high places. Rather they started with the little they had and the sweat of their labor.

Too many writers want to skip over the years of being a nobody and jump right into being famous. But we have to remember that success often takes years and years. And during that time we have to work our way up the scale by the sweat of our labor.

2. Be willing to work long hours and persevere through failure. Carnegie and Rockefeller each had multiple jobs before landing "the one" that finally was successful. Edison's most famous quote is: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

We writers can't expect easy street. The road will more likely be littered with rejections, harsh reviews, and criticism, and we'll have stories stuffed in closets that "won't work." We need all of the failure before finally landing "the one" that will work.

3. Take risks, but always strive to put forward our best product. All three of the men had to step out of ordinary, comfortable, and accepted way of doing things. They led the way in change. They weren't afraid to try new methods even if there were risks involved. But at the same time, they pushed themselves to put forth their best work.

As writers, we too have to be willing to try new ways of writing, perhaps a new genre, new style, or new method of publication. Haven't you noticed that those who are at the forefront of a genre or movement are usually the ones who end up being the most successful?

That should give us motivation to be innovative. But at the same time, we should never let anything stand in the way of always putting forth the very best books that we can possibly write.

How about YOU? Are you expecting success to be easy or are you willing to work long and hard for it?

Spring 2015 Scavenger Hunt: Stop #3 (Purple Team)

Welcome to the Spring 2015 Scavenger Hunt!

I'm doing something a little different on my blog today! I'm participating in a Fiction Scavenger Hunt! Please join in the fun!

You have arrived at Stop #3 in the hunt. I'm part of Team PURPLE

WHEN: The hunt begins 4/16 at noon, mountain time and ends at 4/19 at midnight, mountain time. 

WHERE: There are two loops—PURPLE and PINK. The purple loop begins at Lisa Bergren’s site and the pink loop begins at Robin Hatcher’s site for stop #1 for either stream.

HOW: Collect a clue and a favorite number (in RED) at each stop. Write them down as you go. At the final stop of the scavenger hunt, enter the clues into a Rafflecopter form.

WHAT: If you complete either the purple loop or pink loop, you can enter for a Kindle paperwhite and the 17 autographed books from that loop. If you complete both loops, you can enter for the Grand Prize of a Kindle Fire HDX and ALL 34 autographed books.

Make sure you check out the bottom of this post for the rest of the information you need for your clue and to continue to the next blog in the scavenger hunt!


My Special Scavenger Hunt Guest: Melanie Dickerson

Today as part of the scavenger hunt, I'm hosting the fabulous Melanie Dickerson another one of the authors participating in all the fun! (You'll visit her blog on the next stop in the scavenger hunt!)

Melanie Dickerson is the author of sweet and romantic fairy tale retellings set in Medieval Europe, the time of knights and castles and damsels who sometimes find themselves in distress. She currently lives with her husband, two daughters, and two guinea pigs in north Alabama, but you can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and her Website/Blog.

Join me in welcoming Melanie today!


An Excerpt From The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest

Summary of the Book:  

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest is set in 1363 Medieval Germany, a time of knights and noblemen, kings and peasants.

A beautiful maiden who poaches to feed the poor. A handsome forester on a mission to catch her. Danger and love are about to unite in Thornbeck Forest.

The margrave owns the finest hunting grounds for miles around—and Odette Menkels spends her nights poaching his deer to feed the hungry orphans of Thornbeck. By day, Odette is a simple maiden who teaches children to read, but by night this young beauty has become the secret lifeline to the poorest of the poor.

For Jorgen Hartman, the margrave’s forester, tracking down a poacher is a duty he is all too willing to perform. Jorgen inherited his post from the man who raised him . . . a man who was murdered at the hands of a poacher.

When Jorgen and Odette meet at the Midsummer festival and share a connection during a dance, neither has any idea that they are already adversaries.

The one man she wants is bound by duty to capture her; the one woman he loves is his cunning target . . . What becomes of a forester who protects a notorious poacher? What becomes of a poacher when she is finally discovered?

Thornbeck Forest

Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?! To whet your appetite even more, here's an excerpt from the book:

It was that silly superstition. Anna had insisted she place her flower circlet under her pillow, along with a bunch of calendula and St. John’s wort, so she would dream of her future husband. But the only man she had dreamed of was Jorgen Hartman, the forester, throwing her into the dungeon. And even though his blue-green eyes made her heart thump hard against her chest, the dream had helped confirm her realization that she could never marry him.

Then her mind roamed to more immediate recollections. How many children would go hungry today because Odette had not been able to go hunting the night before, when there were too many people roaming the forest celebrating Midsummer? She had slept but little, having awakened from her dream feeling cold, the pungent smell of calendula in her nostrils.

“Forgive me, Brother Philip, but I am too tired to study today.”

He frowned at her. “No doubt you engaged in too much frivolity last night.”

“If you are thinking I went to the town center and danced with men I had never met before, you would be correct.” Odette couldn’t resist saying things she knew would evoke a look of shock on the monk’s face.

His expression of horrified disappointment was a little more than she had been aiming for.

Melanie's book is available online at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and


GET YOUR CLUE HERE: Before you move on to Stop #4, which is Melanie Dickerson's site, be sure to write down these clues:

Secret Word: WHAT
Secret Number: 17 (The age of the heroine in my book) 

BEFORE YOU GO: Please Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win my latest release An Uncertain Choice.  USA Today says: "This YA novel is as lovely as a fairy tale, with just the right amount of surprises — revealed at just the right times — to keep you on your toes. With plenty of sigh-worthy moments, you’ll be quickly hooked into the story. "

LEAVE A COMMENT: What is your favorite time period for a book? 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

P.S. Every month I give away a new release here on my website. April's giveaway is a contemporary romance, Together With You by Victoria Bylin. Stop by my Events Page for a chance to enter!

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