As a writer I sometimes find that I get caught up in a lot of things. I spend a lot of time trying to make sure I’m showing and not telling, that my characters have distinct personalities, and that my scenes have proper motivations and conflicts. While all these things are vitally important to weaving a good tale, I often forget why I do what I do. Why do I write YA? A lot is because I love it, but the part that keeps writers cranking out books comes down to one very important factor – readers.

I entered a chapter of my current WIP, KEEPER OF SHADOWS, in a contest sponsored by Freshly Squeezed Reads. Part of the contest process included a live online critique of your work by actual teenage readers, with strong teenage opinions that weren’t always what an author would want to hear. I was terrified. Like night before the SAT’s and I haven’t studied at all kind of terrified. I was laying a piece of myself on a platter for someone half way across the world to chop into tiny pieces and display on the unforgiving internet. Yup, I was practically shaking.

Now I’ve been critiqued before. Several times. Some critiques go well some not so much, but you learn a few things, pick yourself back up, and keep going. But this felt different. This wasn’t a group of other writers who were in the middle of the same slog as me. These were readers -- a target audience of strangers who didn’t know me enough to care if they broke my heart or katana sliced my dignity and resolve. In the end, this was a group of people that I as a writer rely on to open their minds to my stories and hopefully their wallets to buy my books so I can keep going.

With breath firmly hitched in my throat, I sat in front of my computer as I watched my work get reviewed and you know what – it was okay. Fortunately for me, my piece was well received and I gained some good feedback to help me make the work better. But the thing I didn’t expect was how much watching the critique reminded me of being a teenager. Of being that kid who ate through books then searched for the next one to see what new worlds and characters were out there. It reminded me that as much as I love to write, one of the main reasons I wanted to be a writer was to one day fascinate someone the way my favorite writers fascinated me. And I can tell you, watching a reader quote lines from your work is probably the coolest feeling in the world.

If you are interested in seeing the critique session you can find it at . I’ve also included tweets of some comments I received on my work below, in case you’re interested ;)




So what authors inspire you?

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Hello all! I hope that everyone has had a great start to 2015. I haven't been blogging much as I have been busy getting words on the page, but today I decided to crawl out from under my rock. 


Today I really needed a jolt of something. I've been plodding along on my novel Keeper of Shadows and the honeymoon stage is clearly over. The real hard work has begun and sometimes it's harder to get my brain moving when I'm stuck. Then I came along a blog post called OF WRITING AND A FEAR OF FAILURE at 


The post asked it's readers about what inspires them. It really made me think about why I do what I do. Why I push through the doldrums of a novel with no guarantee that it will be readable once I get through to the other side. I thought about it and this is what I said:


I write because I don’t know what I would do without it. It’s like the first time I got a cellphone. At first it was this cool thing I used once in a while, but after about a month I would attack someone with a butter knife on a dime if they even joked about taking it away from me. Writing is the one thing that I do that is just for me. I can take it anywhere. I can write anything. I can hit the delete key and start over and make my historical romance into a sci-fi horror space opera then break it down and build it back up again. I can make the voices in my head (character voices, nothing clinical – I hope) into real people with feelings and wants and needs. I can let them win or make them cry in the fetal position in a distant corner of hell. So … I guess you can say my writing inspiration comes from the thought that anything is possible as long as I’m willing to pick up a pen.

After I clicked publish my comment gave me the push I needed to keep moving. At least for now.

So now I'm asking all of you the same question. What inspires you? Maybe remembering will inspire someone else. 

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