Musings of Audrey Greathouse


Pattern Matching: Creating Unity in Stories
by Audrey Greathouse

Intelligence is often portrayed as a logical and analytical skill, but humans are really very emotional creatures whose intelligence has evolved and is exercised through the practice of matching patterns. So much of our knowledge comes from what we recognize, and our ability to detect similarities to previous stimuli when confronted by new stimuli, whether that is physical, social, or intellectual in nature.

But what implication does this have for writing and reading stories?

Because it is so key to our survival, our brains love matching patterns, even in fictive realities. We love a dramatic reveal that brings back a character we had almost forgotten about, multiple storylines slowly woven together, or a mystery that pulls all preceding clues together. Whether the narrative is linear or nonlinear, readers want a sense that every new chapter is inexorably linked to the preceding content.

All of this is encompassed by the literary element of unity, an element which is embedded in every other aspect of your book. Characters must be consistent, plots must be cohesive, and diction must conform to the style you are writing in. One of the best ways to achieve this, however, is by thinking in terms of patterns.

Can you imagine your characters as patterns? Start with their motivation: can you distill their motives down to a simple statement of character that can be applied to all their actions and dialogue? If your character is angry because he is poor, and determined to get rich at any cost, this gives you a basic formula with which you can build his emotional and physical responses to any plot event.

Of course, if we left character development at that, we’d have a very one-dimensional character. We need more motives, more personality… but these should stem from the initial pattern. Perhaps, being drawn to wealth, he falls in love with a rich girl and we see a softer side of this character. Maybe his exasperation with poverty transforms, at times, into a feeling of worthlessness or profound ambition. Envision backstory for your character (even if you only ever hint at it within the story) so you understand where his motivation comes from and so you can create concrete images to demonstrate his character. We can imagine his mother fell sick and passed away because his family could not pay medical bills, or his father gambled their money away, and these details better show (instead of tell) why he is angry.

But let’s dig deeper still. Let’s say he remembers his mother laying in bed in her favorite yellow dress and how her coughing sounded like cats yowling in the night. From that moment on you have arrows of imagery and metaphor in your storytelling quiver. Yellow and cats yowling are both concrete images, and can become patterns if you return to them. If the mother also grew daffodils in her garden, she becomes better associated with yellow, and for the rest of the book the color yellow has an emotional meaning unique to your story. You can manipulate this to remind the reader of the character’s mother, or the root of his motivation. Let your character notice yellow things. Put yellow objects in your story when you want to illustrate something about his emotional state. And, when he is suffering, let him hear cats yowling in the alley.

As soon as you hit writer’s block, the first place you should look for inspiration is earlier in the manuscript. What have you introduced—maybe never intending to use—that you can bring back to forward your plot? What little helpful tools have you already embedded in your character’s world? Never invent a new minor character for something an existing minor character can do. Rather, bring back what you have already established and give your reader the pleasure of recognizing it—the sensation of running into an old friend again unexpectedly.

The result will be a tight story and a sense of unity among your characters that is possible only in the realm of fiction. Real life is never so poetic. Many aspiring writers shy away from repetition, afraid that they will seem redundant or too novelistic. While this is a pitfall to be aware of, many writers go too far in the other direction. Writing is a limitless canvass, the most expansive of all sandbox games. The goal is not to take full advantage of this, but rather to take artful advantage of it.

When designing your story, remember Chekhov’s Gun: “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”

The converse is also true. Introduce nothing when you need it, always before. Go back and hang all your guns on the wall before anyone needs to shoot someone. The more you reference or allude to elements that will become important, the more natural it will seem when they come into play. Whatever elements you introduce, whether they are characters, props, or plot points, remember to make patterns out of them. Nothing is single-use in a story. Your language conveys physical actions and images as well as their emotional implications. Don’t forget to capitalize on those emotional implications and bring them back to the forefront of the reader’s attention whenever possible. If the protagonist stumbles onto his estranged father playing poker in a bar, it will only be as powerful as the emotions, as the patterns, you have already established. Give your readers things to pay attention to. Engage their minds the same way life does: by showing them patterns and relying on them to experience the joy of discovery and sense of familiarity as they match them.

PhotoGreathouse.jpgAbout Audrey

Audrey is the author of the bestselling YA fantasy novel The Neverland Wars and it’s sequel, The Piper’s Price, coming 2/21/2017. Native to Seattle, she can usually be found somewhere along the west coast. Her hobbies include writing and wishing she was writing, however, she has also been known to play piano and eat fire when she can’t find a pen.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr

The Neverland Wars

Magic can do a lot―give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That’s what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.

However, Gwen doesn’t know this. She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn’t know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though―and when she does, she’ll discover she’s in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.

She’ll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won’t be the only one. Peter Pan’s constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she’s going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she’s going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Piper’s Price

Peter is plotting his retaliation against the latest bombing. Neverland needs an army, and Peter Pan is certain children will join him once they know what is at stake. The lost boys and girls are planning an invasion in suburbia to recruit, but in order to deliver their message, they will need the help of an old and dangerous associate—the infamous Pied Piper.

Hunting him down will require a spy in in the real world, and Gwen soon finds herself in charge of locating the Piper and cutting an uncertain deal with him. She isn’t sure if Peter trusts her that much, or if he’s just trying to keep her away from him in Neverland. Are they friends, or just allies? But Peter might not even matter now that she’s nearly home and meeting with Jay again.

The Piper isn’t the only one hiding from the adults’ war on magic though, and when Gwen goes back to reality, she’ll have to confront one of Peter’s oldest friends… and one of his earliest enemies.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Thank you so much Audrey for such an insightful post! Pattern matching is actually really difficult for most writers, esepcially when you’re trying to figure out sub-plots, point of views, and multiple characters. Sometimes it just doesn’t gel, but it will eventually. =) Thank you for your extremely thoughtful advice on this not so talked about obstacle!

As always, thank you so much to everyone who has been a part of this feature. Your words of advice and support mean so much to those who are struggling through their writing. Thank you!

Have a wonderful rest of your week, and Happy New Year to those who celebrate! =)


Waiting on Wednesday: Frostblood


Can you believe this is the last Waiting on Wednesday post for 2016? Where did this year go?? As we look to January Live, Love, Read has picked the following book as our pick:


Title: Frostblood (Frostblood Saga, #1)

Author: Elly Blake

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Page Count: 384

Release Date: January 10th, 2017


Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.


About the Author:


Elly Blake loves fairy tales, old houses, and owls. After earning a BA in English literature, she held a series of seemingly random jobs, including project manager, customs clerk, graphic designer, reporter for a local business magazine, and library assistant. She lives in Southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids and a Siberian Husky mix who definitely shows Frostblood tendencies.

TTT: Best Books of 2016


hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

It’s the last Top Ten Tuesday of 2016! This is crazy! This week we’re picking about the best books we’ve read this year!  We decided to do different sub topics. so you can get an idea of the different books we each read.

Lauren’s Favorite Books Read in 2016

1. The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
2. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
3. My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows
4. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
5. Crystal Crowned by Elise Kova
6. Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh
7. The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
8. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
9. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
10: The Martian by Andy Weir

Melissa’s Favorite Debuts of 2016

1. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
2. The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson
3. Iron Cast by Destiny Soria
4. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
5. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
6. Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
7. A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
8. Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan
9. Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley
10. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

End of the Year Survey 2016


hosted by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner

I am so glad that 2016 is almost over! What a crazy year it has been and I am ready for all the wonderful things 2017 will hold.  I always look forward to Jamie’s annual end of the year survey! I think this would be the third time I’ve filled this out. Crazy!

Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read: 81 (Currently Read 2 books we’ll see if this changes)
Number of Re-Reads: 7
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy

Best In Books

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

Best Historical Fiction: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Best Fantasy: Windwitch by Susan Dennard
Best Contemporary: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Best Middle Grade: Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Heartless by Marissa Meyer & Rebel of the Sands by Alywn Hamilton & Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill &  more than I thought I would granted the ending fell flat.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?


5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

Best Series I Started: tied between An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir & Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers & And I Darken by Kiersten White

Best Sequel: Windwitch by Susan Dennard & Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Best Series Ender: Winter by Marissa Meyer & Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

TOO MANY!!!!!!  Roshani Chokshi, Brittany Cavallaro, Emery Lord, Morgan Matson, Kasie West, Jodi Meadows…etc.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I wouldn’t say it was the best book, but I read Captive Prince which is adult romance.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Windwitch by Susan Dennard (sorry, not sorry for repetition)

9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

And I Darken by Kiersten White and Caraval by Stephanie Garber

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Monty from The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi & Caraval by Stephanie Garber

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read?

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

Shortest: Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall
Longest: Winter by Marissa Meyer

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Windwitch by Susan Dennard

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

AEDUAN & ISEULT  (Windwitch) and MONTY & PERCY (The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue)

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Blitzen & Hearthstone from Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan
Ada & Corrine from Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Out Run the Moon & The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee (HA I bet you thought I’d say Windwitch or Gentleman’s Guide)

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (Kelly @YaFantasyFan)
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (Nor @ReadWriteLove28)

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

James from The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
Max from The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi & Caraval by Stephanie Garber

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson and P.S I Still Like You by Kasie West

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

Argos: The Story of Odysseus as Told by His Loyal Dog by Ralph Hardy

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows & The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Blogging/Bookish Life

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016?

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016?

I need to be better about writing reviews… but Windwitch by Susan Dennard

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Hmmm…. surprising friends at BookitCon 2016!!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

Meeting Rick Riordan in person and getting my books personalized and a photo!!!

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Managing the blog on my own and constantly bugging Kelly and Lauren to spare 10 minutes for things for the blog.  Also hitting a 2 and half month reading slump in October/November was the worst.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Our guest post from Karen Bao, author of Dove Arising and Dove Exiled

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Any of our Musings of Eternal Dreamers posts. I try to do the best I can by tweeting about them.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

An Unlikely Story, the book store owned by Jeff Kinney in Plainville, MA! I was lucky to visit twice this year!

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

YEEEESS!!! I finally completed a Goodreads book challenge

Looking Ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo  *hides in corner*

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi, Upside of the Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Wintersong by S. Jae Jones, It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura, Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

Now I Rise by Kiersten White, The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro, Obsidian and Stars by Julie Eshbaugh

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

Review more books

6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Well if you haven’t been paying attention to my Best of Books lists then you must’ve missed me shouting from the rooftops about

CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber
WINDWITCH by Susan Dennard



Musings of Erin Summerill


by Erin Summerill

I recently was asked to speak at a local high school about my debut novel Ever The Hunted. After I shared my publication story, most of the questions that came from the students were about my writing process. Like them, I remembered the years when I was so eager to learn about publishing. Like my goldendoodle salivates for bone, I would sit in the front row at writing conferences, listening to authors speak about their writing process. I eagerly waited for a morsel of knowledge that would help me break into the world of publishing. Or at the very least, help me write something that was publication worthy. So I started collecting tips and pieces of information that helped me get a better handle on my novel writing.

Now that I’m practically sitting on the eve of my debut’s release, I can honestly say that the writing rules I’ve lived by have helped me on my road to publication. If you’re an aspiring author, or a seasoned writer maybe you’ll have a set of your own rules. But maybe, my 8 Great Writing Rules will give you something more to think about.

1. Give your reader a reason to turn the first page…and then the next.

Keep the stakes high in a novel, making each page a page-turner.

2. Trash it.

If the scene isn’t working, throw it out and start again. This can apply to a whole novel. If it’s not working, don’t be afraid to trash it.

3. Make it come to life.

The setting in every scene needs to feel real and lifelike. Make the reader feel like they’re walking through the pages of your book, breathing the air of your world, and feeling the atmosphere you created. Show, show, show. Don’t tell.

4. Know your theme.

Know what the character’s are learning in the book, and weave that lesson into the core of the novel.

5. When you’re done editing, edit some more.

6. Write. Write one sentence a day. Maybe it’ll turn into a paragraph, or a page, or a chapter. But at least write one sentence a day.

7. Accept criticism as the tool used to carve you into the best storyteller you can be.

8. READ.

About Erin

Erin Summerill was born in England. After spending years bouncing between Air Force bases in Hawaii, England, and California, her family settled in Utah, where Erin graduated with a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University. She had aspirations to write the next great American novel, but writing proved tougher than she first thought. So she grabbed a Nikon and became a professional photographer while crafting manuscript after manuscript. The scenic detour of shooting weddings across the United States, as well as internationally, provided world-building inspiration. It gave her the vision to draft her debut YA fantasy, EVER THE HUNTED. Now when she isn’t writing, or shooting a wedding, she’s chasing her four kids, two dogs, one cat, and five chickens. This could be why she downs massive amounts of Coke Zero and Hot tamales.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Ever the Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms, #1)

Ever the Hunted
Releases December 27th!

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound | Book Depository

Thank you so much to Erin for these wonderful writing tips! Sometimes we all just need to hear it straight and find guidelines to go by when we’re stuck or down-hearted. We so appreciate your time and are thankful for your wonderful words of advice!

Thank you to everyone who has participated in this feature. Your amazing advice doesn’t go unheard, and you all are helping more writers than you could ever know!

Have a wonderful rest of your week and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!!!



Waiting on Wednesday: The Secret of a Heart Note


Christmas is almost here, and so is another week of waiting on a book that is soon to hit the shelves! This week the book we are looking forward to is:


Title:The Secret of a Heart Note

Author: Stacey Lee

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Contemporary

Page Count: 384

Release Date: December 27th, 2016


An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs

Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.

At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.


About the Author:


Stacey Lee is a fourth generation Chinese-American whose people came to California during the heydays of the cowboys. She believes she still has a bit of cowboy dust in her soul. A native of southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. After practicing law in the Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than moving to Spain. She plays classical piano, raises children, and writes YA fiction.


TTT: Bookish Items We Wouldn’t Mind Under Our Tree


hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Christmas is in FIVE days! This is kind of crazy! This week’s Ten Tuesday was all about what we’d like Santa to leave us under the tree!  We decided to list our most coveted bookish items! There are so many great fan made items out there it was hard to pin down 5 each! Here we go!


Kelly’s Picks

Winterfell by Frostbeard Studios

Throne of Glass: Rattle the Stars quote necklace by Lilac Fox Designs

Khaleesi Sun and Moon Stars necklace by Bijoux Malou

Game of Thrones tank by Jargon Clothes

Mary Poppins upcycled dictionary art print by EcoCycled


Lauren’s Picks

Heroes of Olympus by Viria

Marauders by Viria

Anything in Risa Rodil‘s shop!

Long Live Hedwig by Enchanted Leaves

Percy Jackson magnetic bookmark by Magic Bookmarks


Melissa’s Picks

Bastard of the Barrel by IceyDesigns

Blackdog soap by House of Wormwood

Once Upon a Book by Latienda Literaria

Threads by Miss Phi

Shadows (Nico di Angelo) by Viria

What is on your Christmas wish list this year? Let us know in the comments below!


Musings of Lee Kelly


Making Feedback Work for You
by Lee Kelly

While some people write solely for themselves, I think most of us writers hope to share our stories with others.  And if we want to share our writing with a wide audience, through publication, it naturally makes sense to make the story as polished and as accessible as it can be.  That’s where feedback comes in: trusted critique partners and/or beta readers can be invaluable in gaining further insight into your story, and can give you outside perspective on a manuscript.

But receiving feedback on a project can be really hard!  After all, you could have spend months or even years on this particular manuscript.  The manuscript could be semi-autographical.  Or deal with an issue that’s extremely important to you.  Or could be something that means so much, you’re almost scared to share it.

With that in mind, here are some things I always try to remember when receiving feedback on a manuscript:

  1. Adopting the Right Frame of Mind. If you view feedback as criticism, then of course anything that’s said that isn’t “it’s perfect!” will sting.  After all, criticism is allowing someone to read what you made, just so they can point out all its flaws.

So every time I send out a new project to my beta readers, I try to remember what feedback actually is.  Feedback is something I ASKED for!  The critiquer has been tasked with reading something I wrote, so they can think of all the ways that I might make it BETTER.  There’s a reason they call them critique partners after all: they’re people you trust and invite into your story at the ground floor, so they can offer insight on how you can bring your work to the next level.

  1. Step Away. Sometimes my CPs’ feedback emails can be long, and the list of “issues” or “considerations” can be discouraging.  Someone might think an entire sup-plot isn’t working, or that the romance feels weak, or there’s a lack of a concrete theme.  Sometimes I can read a feedback email and be devastated, because an aspect of my manuscript that a CP has noted is a “stretch” might be my favorite part of the story.  Sometimes I’m even tempted to shoot an email to my CP and explain why they must have read the story wrong.

So I force myself to step away from the computer, and think.  Because something that sounds ludicrous on Monday, after some thought and sleep, might sound like a breakthrough on Tuesday.

Give yourself time to digest, and then get back to the critiquer with the thanks they deserve.  Even if you ultimately disagree with the results of their analysis, the analysis got you thinking.

  1. Consider Big Questions. You’ve spent a ton of time crafting your story, and you’ve gotten comfortable with the format and shape it’s currently in.  So it can be very tempting to just incorporate “easy” feedback that’s offered (the proofreading errors, the line edits), while dismissing the big picture thoughts as out of turn.  But these big picture thoughts might actually be questions that, if you spend a little time thinking about, could prompt an epiphany on your manuscript.

So take time to think about every piece of feedback.  Try to frame some of the notes as questions that you yourself get to answer.

  1. Get a Second Reader. Reading is subjective, and while having a trusted CP is wonderful, having two readers is even better.  It’s like having a second opinion on an important medical decision.  If your beta readers are saying opposite things about a particular aspect of the manuscript, maybe those notes cancel out.  But if both people are confused by a chapter, then that chapter likely needs reworking.

I wouldn’t necessarily send your work to ten people, as eventually you’ll end up watering down your manuscript to suit so many different, personal tastes, but I think two or three readers is key for well-rounded feedback.

  1. Make a Targeted Plan. Once I hear from everyone on a project, I like to take all of that feedback and try to find common notes.  Then I make a calendar, deciding how many days/weeks I’m going to spend on each issue.  (And if you’re particularly interested in this revision calendar idea, I highly recommend Cheryl Klein’s SECOND SIGHT, which I consider a bible on revision).  When you have a plan in hand, addressing feedback and revising is far less scary.


About Lee

Lee Kelly is the author of A Criminal Magic and City of Savages.  She has wanted to write since she was old enough to hold a pencil, but it wasn’t until she began studying for the California Bar Exam that she conveniently started putting pen to paper.  An entertainment lawyer by trade, Lee has practiced in Los Angeles and New York.  She lives with her husband and children in Millburn, New Jersey. Follow her on at @leeykelly and on her website at

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr

A Criminal Magic

A Criminal Magic

Magic is powerful, dangerous and addictive – and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.

It’s 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city’s magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters’ crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer’s shine.

Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC’s most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family’s home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.

Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic – and when their paths cross at the Shaws’ performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.

A Criminal Magic casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

City of Savages

City of Savages

It has been nearly two decades since the breakout of the Third World War, and Manhattan is now a prisoner-of-war camp ruled by island native Rolladin, who controls the city’s survivors with an iron fist. For Skyler Miller, Manhattan is a cage that keeps her from the world beyond the city’s borders. But for Sky’s younger sister, Phee, the Central Park POW camp is the only home she’d ever want.

When strangers arrive in the park, carrying a shocking message, Sky and Phee discover there’s more to Manhattan—and their family—than either of them had imagined. As disturbing secrets about the island begin to surface, Sky and Phee have no choice but to break the rules to uncover the full truth of their long-shrouded history. When their search for answers erupts into violence, the girls must flee into Manhattan’s depths, where their quest for a better future will force them to confront the island’s dark and shocking past.

Lee Kelly’s gripping debut novel is a pulse-pounding journey through a city that’s as strange as it is familiar, where nothing is black-and-white and buried secrets can haunt.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Thank you so much to Lee for all of your helpful advice, and for taking the time to help writers understand the true meaning of feedback. Criticism is a good thing! Remember that it helps all of us on our journey to greatness. =)

A big thank you to all who have participated in this feature. So many writers appreciate your advice every week. We couldn’t do it without you, and your words do not go unappreciated!

We hope you enjoy the rest of your week!


TTT: Most Anticipated Books of 2017 pt 1


toptentuesdayhosted by the Broke and the Bookish

2016 is coming to an end and we’re ready for all the wonderful books 2017 has to offer.  Here’s our top picks for the first half of 2017!!

Lauren’s Picks

1. The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova
2. Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
3. Caraval by Stephanie Garber
4. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
5. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
6. Hunted by Meagan Spooner
7. Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
8. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
9. Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas
10. The Valiant by Lesley Livingston


Melissa’s Picks

1. I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maureen Goo
2. A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
3. The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro
4. By Your Side by Kasie West
5. Geekerella by Ashley Poston
6. Empress of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
7. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
8. It’s Not Like It’s A Aecret by Misa Sugiura
9. The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
10. Now I Rise by Kiersten White


Kelly’s Picks

1. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
2. Carve the Mark by Veronica Rossi
3. Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
4. Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis
5. The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
6. Gilded Cage by Vic James
7. Wait For Me by Caroline Leech
8. Wicked Like A Wildfire by Lana Popovic
9. Shadow Run by Adrianne Strickland
10. Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields

What are you guys looking forward too next year?



Waiting on Wednesday: The Alchemist of Loom


So many books to wait impatiently for! Some books help continue a story we started before, while others begin a new adventure for us! This week’s pick for WoW is a new series starter and it sounds AMAZING!














Title: The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga, #1)

Author: Elise Kova

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Steampunk

Page Count: 380

Release Date: January 10th, 2017


Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.


About the Author:

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Elise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration before crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she is not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media.