Shonna’s Book Deal!

Shonna’s Cinderella's DressYA novel, CINDERELLA’S DRESS, is scheduled for publication June 3, 2014 with Entangled TEEN.


confetti cannon——–*confetti* *confetti* *confetti* *confetti* *confetti*


Entangled Publishing is a relatively new publishing company but they are taking the book world by storm. They love getting books into the hands of readers and they like to have a good time while doing so :). They are going to publish both a print and a digital version of my book. And they make me feel like I’m in a bit of a fairy tale myself, right now.

If you’ve been a long-time reader at RFW you know a bit about the backstory on this book. Because, yes, if I ever alluded to a novel’s journey, it was most likely about Cinderella’s Dress. Blood. Sweat. Tears.

I am grateful for the encouragement this blog gave me to persevere. I’m especially grateful for Kitty and Stephanie who introduced me to NaNoWriMo. At first I thought they were crazy to try to write 50,000 words in one month. Then I learned there were a WHOLE BUNCH of crazy people out there trying to write 50,000 words in a month. Then I became a crazy person myself. Thank you NaNoWriMo!

So, I know. Blah, blah, blah. Give us the numbers. You writers are so pushy. Here you go:

First Draft: November 2008 during NaNoWriMo.
Started Querying: August 2010—querying agents/revising/querying/revising…you get the idea
Total queries: 28 (this seems low to me; I think it was more, but since I stopped querying a year ago I’ve misplaced the master list. I’ll update if I find it. It sure felt like I was sending it to everyone and their dog.)
Total partials: 3
Total fulls: 3
Revise & Resubmits: 1
Total offers of rep: 0 (Yes, I am still unagented)

Entangled Publishing path:
about their teen line at SCBWI-AZ conference Oct 2012
Submitted Oct 20, 2012
Got past the interns (Bless you interns!) and was put into their new “submitable” manuscript tracking software March 2013 (Where you are guaranteed a response within 30 days–yay/nay/need more time)
Request for more time April 2013
Offer extended June 2013 (Secret family celebration with ice-cream cake courtesy of supportive husband!)
Contract signed November 2013
Years from first draft to published novel: if all goes well, 5.5

Literary racehorse, I am not.

I don’t know if these stats will encourage you or depress you! It reminds me of when I was single and my girlfriends and I would insist we didn’t need a lot of men, we each needed only one good man! Well, my book needed one good publisher, and it has one now.

In conclusion, and in the spirit of all the pep talks I’ve written for this blog: Slow and steady wins the race. Or, for you sci-fi folks: Never give up. Never surrender.

Blog notes: Kitty and I keep going back and forth about keeping this blog running. We both have our own websites now and Stephanie is still busy with school. If you want to stay in-the-know with this book, you can follow my twitter feed or sign up for my newsletter on my blog:

Gazelle Intensity

I almost can’t believe it, but I met four deadlines last month! I don’t think I’ve ever done that in my writing life. Maybe the only time I’ve accomplished so much in such a short space of time is for school/college. But the point is – I did it.

What I learned from that experience is that I can do more than I think I can. Past experience may tell me that I can’t – until I make an experience that tells me I can. What I have to be careful of is thinking I can always get this much work done. It would be foolish of me to think I can work 10-16 hours a day, six days a week, for an infinite amount of time. For one thing, there is no time for friends or family, little time for exercise or healthy habits, and almost no time for fun.

However, last month I reminded myself that I can work very intensely and accomplish a lot in short bursts. Life is a marathon, and the writing life is a marathon, but sprints are useful and appropriate. (In my half marathon training, I use short sprints in training.)

John and I are participating in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, a money management course designed to get you out of debt and keep you out forever. In one of the lessons, Dave shows a video of a leopard chasing a gazelle. Even though the leopard can run faster than the gazelle, the gazelle got away! Why? Because the gazelle could make quick leaps out of the leopard’s path faster than he could move to intercept. The gazelle only has to keep this up for a short intense period until the leopard gives up and looks for easier prey.

Dave suggests we use this method to get out of debt. A short, intense burst of effort to pay off everything from credit cards to student loans to the balance on your mortgage. I listen to his radio podcast and people call in saying they’ve just paid off their last debt. Dave asks them how much they paid off and how long it took, then they give their debt free scream. It’s very inspiring! People are getting out of debt to the tune of $20,000 to $158,000 (that I’ve heard) in 12-48 months. John and I will be right in that range, and it’s exciting to know it can be done.

That’s what I learned last month with my writing deadlines. I focused like I have rarely focused before on one project, then another, then another, then another. And I got them all done, on time. I had hoped that on November 2, I would be able to sleep in, read a little, take a deep breath, and go back to a more relaxed lifestyle. But I still have four more time-sensitive projects to finish. At first, that made me feel super tired just thinking about it. Then I remembered the gazelle intensity speech.

I can’t keep up this pace forever, but I can do it for four more weeks. As one friend reminded me on November 2 when I was trying to figure out if I could do all this, I can’t “catch up” on everything that didn’t get done over the last year. But I can pick the most important things to finish now, and re-schedule my other goals for 2013.

National Novel Writing Month is about gazelle intensity. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are finding it can work for their writing life. But it works in every area of life. What do you really need to get done? Not just urgent things, but important things. Piles of paperwork? Haphazard, overcrowded home? Behind in something you could finish if you just really applied yourself for a few weeks?

Think about it and decide what you’re going to do about it. In the end, you’ll not only have accomplished something wonderful, and maybe done something about those monkeys on your back, but you’ll find pleasure in your own personal growth as self-discipline blooms in your life.

I’m nervous about failure, about exhaustion, about missing out on fun things other people are doing, but last month I proved that it can be done! So I’m going to keep it up for another month. See you at the finish line!

[Note: If you want more encouragement and direction in planning your goals for 2013, join me for my online class Going the Distance: Goal Setting and Time Management for the Writer. Here’s to a fabulous and productive new year!]

Frighteningly Real

Since it’s almost Halloween, John suggested I come up with a themed post. In that vein… 🙂

You may remember, I’ve been writing like mad to make two deadlines this month. I sent in the polished superhero romantic comedy, UNEXPECTED HERO, on October 14 to Harper Voyager. And last Thursday, I sent in the first chapter and synopsis of BELLA AND THE BOUNTY HUNTER to Love Inspired Suspense.

Talk about scary.

Who knew coming up with a romantic suspense would be so difficult?! Not me, obviously. It was easy to see the victim and what happened to her, and I had a fair idea of the ending. For those reasons, I gave it a shot. But figuring out the 200 pages in the middle…Sheesh.

A couple times, I nearly threw in the towel, but then friends would rally and encourage me to at least give it a try. After all, the worst thing that can happen is I’ll get rejected. Well, the worst thing would be to spend weeks and months on it and discover I stink at suspense and I wasted all that time. Actually, the worst thing would be for Love Inspired Suspense to give me a shot and then I find I am incapable of ever writing another suspense novel, and they kick me to the curb.

See? This is the frightening real life pre-Halloween I’ve been living!

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Luckily, two great friends helped me with several plot details. My friend Dave is a deputy sheriff and he let me ask him a thousand questions over lunch. Then I called my friend Janice Cantore, novelist and retired police officer, and she took my stretched out, lumpy balloon knot and created a balloon man walking a balloon dog in a couple of deft twists. Wow. Impressive.

So now I have a month or two (I’ll write the first draft during NaNoWriMo) to see if I can write a story that feels both frighteningly real and believably romantic.

Then I’ll have to decide if I enjoyed it.

It is soooo much easier to write about superheroes! LOL!

Have you written any suspense? How’d it go for you? (If you’re good at it, give a girl some tips!) Or have you written something else that scared the crud out of you?

If you’re participating in NaNo, see you there! (I’m “Kitty Bucholtz”‘ if you want to be friends.) If not, keep writing!

And remember, I’ll be teaching my online class again on goal setting and time management for writers in January. Hope to see you there!

Online Class: Conquering NaNoWriMo

Since Shonna is taking some time off, I thought I’d find other interesting things to share with you guys! 🙂 If you’re interested in participating in National Novel Writing Month, you might be interested in this cool class! I’ll find something else I think might be interesting to you next Friday. Happy Writing and happy weekend!


“Conquering National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)” with Alison Diem

October 15 – November 11, 2012

Enrollment Information at

COST: $20 for OCCRWA members, $30 for non-members

If you have specific questions, email


Push your career forward.  Whether you are brand new to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) or a veteran participant – this class will get you sitting down, writing and meeting those goals.

Alison Diem, your instructor and a 10-year NaNoWriMo veteran, will answer all of those burning questions (and doubts) about the challenge – how it works and how to get through the process.  NaNoWriMo can be a break-through opportunity.  Make it yours!

The first two weeks of class will prepare you for the entire month – from getting registered to tips on surviving Turkey Day with writing goals intact.  There’ll be a night before kick-off party, appropriately coinciding with Halloween.  Then, on November 1, the entire class dives into their NaNo novels.

As NaNoWriMo gets underway, there’ll be support systems and an arsenal of weapons for blasting through daily word counts and actually getting onto paper (or screen) 50,000 words in 30 days.


As a NaNoWriMo participant for the past decade, Alison Diem knows all of the ups and the downs of this challenge.  In “winning” four different times, she’s learned some important techniques that she’s going to share with her students.  These are tools to use, not just during November, but all year long.

Alison is a writer of intricate stories involving history, the paranormal, adventure, magic, mystery, murder, fantasy, steampunk, creatures that may (or may not) be real and any combination thereof. Also, dragons.  She recently moved back to Ann Arbor, MI with her husband, Bear, and her kitty Harvey.

She is also very, very tall. You know, for a girl.  You can find her at

Enrollment Information

Enrollment Information at

COST: $20 for OCCRWA members, $30 for non-members

Coming in November 2012

Submission: Writing a Short Story for Anthology Call-Out with Louisa Bacio

This class deals with catering a short story specifically to a publisher’s request for submissions. Regularly, editors and publishers list upcoming anthologies and the types of stories they’re looking to include.

Check out our full list of workshop at

Want to be notified personally two weeks before each class? Be sure you’re signed up for our Online Class Notices Yahoo Group! Sign up at the bottom of or send a blank email to

It’s Over! What’s Next?

Say goodbye to NaNoWriMo 2011 and my obsessive edit of my first 50 pages.

My kids in the Young Writers Program both made their word count goals. One with a day to spare, and the other staying up a little past bedtime to wrap it up. It is surprising how much one can write in a day when pressed!

I’m so proud of these guys. We all know that first draft can be hard. Writing every day can be hard. And getting to the end of our stories can sure be hard. They did it!

Now? We will be spending the next few weeks learning about revision, starting with proper dialogue formatting. Then I’ll be able to read what they typed without going cross eyed. I remember I used to hate taking the time to put in the quotes when I was in school. Now it’s second nature. They’ll get there, too.

For me, my fifty pages grew with my character’s thoughts, feelings, and motivation (and other details) to over seventy pages. Some of the changes I made changed the trajectory of the plot so now I need to follow the thread through until it matches up with the second plot point. Then I get to take what I learned for my first fifty and apply to the rest of the book.

I’d like to set my goal to have this all done by the end of the year, but I don’t know. Life gets full of activities the closer we get to Christmas, but we’re also taking a break from homeschool soon so I’ll have that extra time.

And speaking of goals! I should take another look at my goals for the year. Four more weeks to complete my 2011 goals. I almost forgot about that list. *gulp* I haven’t been good with reviewing it. Hope I’ve covered most of them by now.

Next thing you know, we’ll be talking about 2012 writing goals…

Writing with Jetlag? Not So Much

Just 10 days ago, we were playing in the surf on an Australian beach

Looks like the 974 words I wrote for NaNo on November 1st will be the grand total for my 2011 NaNo experience. Moving around the world really put a major wrench in my monthly writing goals. I’ve been in the U.S. for almost a week and I am still exhausted. I feel like I’m going to die if I don’t take a nap at 3pm, but I hang in there so that I’ll sleep great at night. My plans are always to go to sleep early, even 7pm or 8pm if necessary so that I’ll end up with 7-10 hours of sleep even if I wake up way early.

But it seems like every night I get a second wind and I no longer feel like going to bed early. Then I still end up not sleeping well and waking up tired. Sigh. Monday I had to get back to work, regardless of my sleep schedule. I got an awful lot done. Tuesday wasn’t bad either. But I can barely remember what I did then, let alone what I still have to do. I’d be lost without my to do list. In fact, I’ll walk into a room for…I’m sorry, why did I come in here?

These are normal things that happen to people sometimes, but since the flight from Sydney all of these things are part of my life constantly. I’ve written three articles in the last two days, and I think they were moderately good, but I still feel lost inside my head. I think maybe I should write about that, but I’m afraid I’d save it someplace by some name that I’d never find again!

All I can hope for now is to keep up with the major deadlines and show up to the family gatherings without forgetting what day it is. At some point in the (near? please, God, let it be near) future, all of this will fade into a distant memory and I’ll be back to working efficiently. But I can just imagine that John will be offered a contract in London or something right about then, and I’ll be moving again.

Ah, the life of an adventurer!  🙂

We Are Winners . . . Yes?

          It doesn’t look like I’m going to win NaNo this year. I only have about 17,000 words written. That’s not really an insurmountable problem. I could write like a maniac over the next few days and bring my word count up. I’ve done it before.. This year is different, though. I doubt I’ll reach 50,000 words. (Unless I suddenly get bit by the competitive bug and go crazy.)

          But in my mind, I’m still a winner. This month marks the beginning of the end of my long writing-drought. The painful life-events of the past year are behind me (or almost behind me) and I’m on the road to emotional healing. It’s been difficult to write this month, but oh-so therapeutic. Here’s what I’ve “won” this NaNo:

  • I have 17,000 words that were not written 4 weeks ago. (Only about 1/2 are actual scenes and story, but the journal entries are full of fodder for more scenes.)
  • I re-established a writing routine. (Stumbling and stuttering though it is, it is still a routine.)
  • I have reawakened the muse in me. (She’s still a bit groggy, but she’s awake.)

          So, yes, I might not be declared a winner on the NaNoWriMo site, but that’s okay. I’m still a winner.

          What about you? What have you won this NaNo?

Final Push

Only a few more days left in November. Time to hit the word count hard…whether you’ve been writing madly during NaNoWriMo, or merely editing the same crazy 50 pages (+ scene chart + synopsis), like me.

Here’s my editing goal for the end of the month: to make more connections. Connections between the chapters and the characters.

My main character needs to think more about events that happened in earlier chapters and how those events affect what is presently going on and then what is going to happen (or what she thinks is going to happen) in the future. This is something that will help make my chapters less episodic. And, it will give the reader more time in my character’s head, which is still lacking.

My critiquer mentioned something brilliant, something about these reflective moments being like connective tissue between scenes and chapters. Ah! I get it. Now, to make it happen.

Are You Writing?

          Another Monday slipped up on me! I almost forgot about posting this blog. But not for the usual reasons. Yay!

          I’ve been busy writing on my NaNoNovel . . . or whatever it is I’m writing. At the moment, it is just a mixture of scenes, journal entries and guided discussions with myself. Verbalizing the emotions of these past few months is helping me to define them. Defining them is leaching them of their power away over me. Finally, the creative side of me is re-emerging. Tentatively. A tiny sigh here, a stray comment there, a hesitant suggestion whispered in my mind’s ear. That’s okay. That’s as it should be. It takes time to heal from trauma. A body lies in the ICU, being cared for and monitored for many days, even weeks after a physical trauma. Just as I needed “trama-ICU” time to heal emotionally, so I need “trauma-ICU” time to heal creatively. And I am . . . healing, that is.

          Last week I read a guest blog on Art Holcomb, the guest blogger, tells a story of his 1st published piece. One scene was pivotal. That one scene made the piece authentic. That one scene started him on the road to writing as a career. More importantly, though, it also started him on the road of discovering and healing through his writing.

          In another Storyfix blog, one that sounds almost un-Larry-like, Larry also encourages us to write. He suggests that maybe all “our Muse” is waiting for is for us to sit down and start. If we would just start writing, what we need to write will be made clear. (I told you it didn’t sound like Larry. 🙂 )

          Art encourages us to write with our hearts. To learn our craft, but to keep letting the six-year-old in us out to play. In doing so, we’ll grow as people and as writers. Larry encourages us to write, again with our hearts. In the doing, we will discover what we need to write. And now I add my voice to theirs and encourage you to write. That’s what I’m doing. That’s what I’ve done. And in the doing I am healing and I am discovering myself and, even more exciting, I am discovering Story! Sometimes it comes slow; sometimes it comes so fast my fingers can’t keep up. Either way, I’m writing! I’m writing! I’M WRITING!

          Come join my happy dance all over the keyboard.

Writer Girl, Interrupted

Eight days ago, National Novel Writing Month started and I was feeling quite good about my first day’s progress. Six days ago, John got a text message saying the job he expected to get wasn’t going to come through. Suddenly we were looking at a calendar and seeing we had three weeks to get out of Australia before our visas expired! (They are good until 2015, unless John isn’t working at a sponsoring company.)

Needless to say, I haven’t gotten any more writing done! These are the kinds of things that can really derail your momentum. I had just gotten started with my self-publishing business and I’m still in the middle of bringing Little Miss Lovesick to print before Christmas. But now my days are so full of packing that I didn’t even have time to get this blog posted on time.

Still, what can you take from unexpected roadblocks? You can get upset, of course. But that’s an easy way out. The more difficult but, I believe, better path is to find a way to use the roadblocks. The other day when I was really freaking out, I was trying to think of a way to calm down…so I gave my feelings to the character of the short story I’m writing for an anthology. That poor girl is really having some terrible days in my head, but I’m feeling much better!

If NaNo (or any of your writing) started out well for you but has already hit some bumps, look for ways to use the bumps to make a more interesting story. And remember all the other times that you had roadblocks and you got through them. You’ll get through these as well. We both will. (On the hard days, I remember – I’ll be home for Thanksgiving!!)

Meanwhile, I’ve got to go pack. And I think my character is going to have some packing/moving issues in her story.