Friday, July 30, 2010

Contest Winner Announced!

June was the one year anniversary for Heather's Odyssey which of course meant I had to do a book giveaway! I picked my favorite top three books of the year so far, announced the contest here and started tweeting about it. Thank you to everyone who entered, the response was overwhelming! The books I chose were all fabulous debuts. Here they are:

13 To Life by Shannon Delany
Under My Skin by Judith Graves
Mistwood by Leah Cypess

I won't keep you waiting any longer. The winner who gets to choose one of these lovely books is:

Courtney Rae from Courtney Reads blog! If you haven't checked out this lady's blog definitely drop in on it. She reviews some of the best books out there. Pick the one you'd like the most Courtney and I'll send it to you!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Writing A Believable Antagonist

We all put a lot of thought into our protagonist but there is another character who is just as important that we sometimes overlook, the antagonist. I've read far too many novels with a textbook bad guy that struggles to be even two dimensional. It ruins the book for me every time. The antagonist often drives the plot just as much as the hero, and has a profound effect on the hero. That makes them just as important~or close to it~as the protagonist.

If you want your novel to be believable and your readers to sympathize with the hero, you must make sure your antagonist is fully developed. Get to know your bad guy or gal just as well as you know your hero. What are her motives? What is his past? What makes her do the things she does? What does he want out of the situation and why? These are all things that will make him or her well rounded. Everyone loves to hate a great bad guy so put the work into him or her and make them worthy of both the story and it's protagonist.

There should be something redeemable or sympathetic about the antagonist, yes really. It can be tiny, so tiny most people wouldn't consider it something that makes them that way. Maybe they were abused as a child, or have strong beliefs that drive them to a goal they believe is just. Its not an excuse for why they are the way they are, it's simply part of them that makes them believable to the reader.

A strong antagonist makes your protagonist that much better. They're worth the time and effort even if they die in the end!

Check out this post by Writer's Digest on Crafting Your Villain.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Key To Successful Editing

Once the rough draft of your book is complete you may think the hard part is behind you, you may even think you're done. Think again. Successful editing is the key to a successful book. But then what is the key to successful editing? Ah, there is the catch. It is both simpler than you might think and much harder than you might imagine.

The key to successful editing is detachment. It does seem like a simple thing does it not? If you've tried it then you know it is anything but simple. Detaching from their novels is the hardest thing a writer has to do. While creativity is definitely needed you must be practical at this stage.

Just like your children, you have to prepare your novel for the hardships of the outside world. This means you have to take a good hard look at it, see where it is weak, and make it stronger. It will sometimes feel perfect just the way it is. Trust me, it isn't. To be truly objective you must distance yourself from it and approach it as though it isn't your baby.

Time is a wonderful way to become detached. After a month of letting that first draft sit you can come back to it with a fresh perspective and probably some new ideas. I'm not able to wait that long but not everyone needs to. Some can achieve the same level of detachment in a week, some might take a few months. You'll know what feels right to you. I have a little trick I use. When I come back to it I read it as though I'm an acquisition editor considering buying the manuscript. Editors look at things with a very different perspective. They're looking for a reason to say no, a reason it doesn't work, or isn't good enough. That's the way I approach it.

Hopefully some of this helps you! For some related advice by Writer's Digest check out this link:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Samantha Bennett

I came across Samantha Bennett on my blog and later on Twitter. Samantha has been spinning stories since the tender age of five and is now submitting her manuscript. You can follow her submission and publishing adventures on her blog or connect with her through Twitter. She's incredibly sweet and won't hesitate to support other writers!

Tell me, have you met anyone spectacular on Twitter this week?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday's Muse~Kerem Beyit

This week I've discovered an artist who is new to me that I can't wait to tell you about! I first came across Kerem Beyit's work on the website Deviant Art and I loved it so much that I had to look up his personal website. Click on his name to visit his site. His attention to detail breathes life into his paintings and drawings in a way rarely seen.

This week's chapter is the first time my main character meets the antagonist face to face. It was so much fun to write it practically wrote itself. I felt like just the mechanism behind the pencil. I love it when that happens! The story is really starting to ramp up now and the momentum is carrying me along.

I finished reading 13 To Life this week and really enjoyed it. If you love werewolf books you've got to read it. Now I'm reading The Tension of Opposites and the book is blowing me away. You must go out and get your hands on this book! A bit of exciting news for next week, I'll be featuring Kristina McBride as August's debut author and her novel The Tension of Opposites. She's stopping by for an interview that you don't want to miss!

This week's music that fed my muse was Moonchild by Iron Maiden. Hey, don't raise that eyebrow at me, this story is a bit of a dark one!

So how are your stories doing this week?

Friday, July 23, 2010

In My Mailbox

Ebony McKenna, a Twitter friend of mine was wonderful enough to send me a copy of Ondine, which is not yet available in the U.S.! If you enjoyed The Princess Bride and Ella Enchanted then you are going to LOVE this book. I will even go so far as to say it surpasses them. Go ahead, salivate while I bask in the wonderfulness of this book!

You can read all about it at Ebony's site here:
And be sure to check out Ebony's blog:

Okay, now go order your own copy from Egmont UK!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hiring A Freelance Editor

I'm a big believer in learning to edit your own work because let's face it, life would be so much easier if you could. However, that doesn't mean there isn't a time and place to hire a freelance editor to go over your manuscript. Before I get into that though I'll reveal how I learned to edit my own work and improved it to the point where my agent thought I had used a freelance editor. And even more important, we'll compare the cost of both.

Upon the recommendation of a published friend I attended the Hawaii Writers Retreat (formerly the Maui Writers Retreat) in 2008. Before I arrived my instructor sent us some requested reading. It was The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. You probably recall me gushing about how this book altered my writing forever, for the better. At the retreat I studied under bestselling thriller author William Bernhardt. I learned and improved so much that I went back to the retreat in 2009. At the retreat in 2009 I met my wonderful critique group the Scribe Sisters. In 2010 my critique group and I attended one of William Bernhardt's workshops. Sadly the retreat wasn't held this year and I'm not sure if they'll be holding it again but you can attend Mr. Bernhardt's workshops, which I highly recommend.

Each of these steps improved my writing exponentially and was well worth the money. The Hawaii Retreat cost me $900 and I went twice so that's $1800. Mr. Bernhardt's workshop cost $500. That brings my cost up to $2300. Add books on the craft of writing and we'll just round up to $2350. True, there was the cost of the flight to Hawaii and Oklahoma, plus the hotel and food. All three workshops combined with all that come in just over $5,000. I didn't take that hit all at once though, remember it was over the course of a few years. Don't count out this method yet though. You don't have to go to Hawaii for a great writers retreat or workshop. Chances are there is one in your own state or close by.

A freelance editor, or copy editing services if you prefer to call them that, will run you anywhere from $500 for a precursory look, to several thousand dollars. In the end you may be paying close to what I did for all that training or even more. If you can look at what the freelance editor has done to your manuscript and learn how to edit that way, then the money may be worth it. However, if you've never seen an editor critiqued manuscript I've got to tell you, they kind of look like they're written in Greek. If you choose to go that route here are a few reputable freelance editors I've come across:

Writer's Digest Editorial Services
Lisa Rector Freelance Editor

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Slaying A Titan

Fear is the titan we all must slay to be able to take the steps down the road to publication. It's around every corner and bend from critique partners to querying. Putting ourselves out there isn't easy. Our writing digs deep into most of us and exposes things nothing else can. Allowing others to read that can be hard. Some people write a book but can never bring themselves to allow a critique group to read it, let alone send it out to agents.

How do you slay the titan? There are two vital elements you must have.

1) Strap that armor on and arm yourself my friend. Your armor is those supportive people you choose to surround yourself with. My support comes from family but also from friends I've met at conferences, on Twitter, Facebook, and writer networks. Even if you don't have the support of your family you can find support in the online writer community.

2) Your weapon is your craft. Sharpen it, polish it, learn how to wield it properly. If you can't attend conferences, workshops, or retreats then buy books on the craft of writing, read (good) websites and blogs that talk about it.

After you've done all this there are still times when that titan will try to rise again. I'm agented, have a wonderful support system, have two different series out on submission and fear still rears its ugly head from time to time. It happens with every rejection. Those are the times that make your support group so vital because that's when they hold you up. Most importantly, never give up.

For more great info check out this blog post by Kate Monohan on 10 Things My Creative Writing MFA Taught Me NOT To Do #10 is the one that inspired me to write this.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Twitter Tutorial Take 2

This is for those of you who haven't taken the Twitter plunge yet, or have just started and are overwhelmed. The first thing to remember about Twitter is only those who follow you will see your tweets. If you follow someone and they don't follow you back, they won't see your tweets. But there is a way to see the tweets of those you don't follow.

If you've been brave enough to venture onto Twitter a bit then you've heard about hashtags. But what are these strange things, and what are they for? A hashtag is a word of group of words with a # sign in front of it. It allows people who want to talk about a certain subject to follow each other on a self made chat. The words are always run together to make things shorter. For example, #amwriting is an on going chat that most writers participate in to follow along with who is writing on a daily basis. #writing is the same thing, just a little different. There is also #amreading, #amediting, #AskYAed, and the big one's #scribechat, #yalitchat, #thrillerchat, #scifichat, #litchat, the list is endless because you can make your own hashtags.

Now that you know what one is, how do you see people who you aren't following, and how do they see you? There are a few different apps out there but my favorite, the one with the least glitches, is TweetChat. Click on this link and type in whatever hashtag you want to follow at any given time. Everyone who uses the hashtag will show up on this page. It's a great way to network and meet new people, plus it's how all the chat's are done on Twitter. Start using it for the small, daily chats that go on to get used to it, then you'll be ready when the big one's occur!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday's Muse~Hang Gliding

Hang gliding has been my inspiration this week. I know what you're thinking, 'she's all over the board with this one!' but that's part of the fun. This book is taking me in many different directions and I'm learning a lot because of it, I love that! It's not the kind of book where I have to do a lot of research since it's fantasy, but whenever I come across a place where I can add a bit of realism in with research I jump at the chance. Even though it's fantasy I like my story to ring true when and where it can. It helps to keep it grounded and 'believable'.

Not to be deterred from his quest, my protagonist finds alternative means to get around so he can accomplish the task set before him. My protagonist is reaching the stage where he's confused about the changes he's going through and isn't altogether happy with them. But his determination is unwavering and he keeps the end goal in sight.

My reading muse this week was 13 To Life (remember, I'm a slow reader when I'm writing!). This book just get's better and better. If you love a good werewolf story you have to pick this one up! I'm nearing the end of it and have The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride lined up to read next with Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus after that. I can hardly wait to read both!

My music muse has been on hold since I lost my MP3 player. No need to panic though, I found it! Have any great books inspired you this week or has your muse come from a different avenue?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Benefit of Contests

There are a lot of great contests for writers out there. There is only one problem, most of them I've found are for short stories. I'm terrible at writing short stories! When I get an idea that is worthy of writing I always end up turning it into a novel. I figure if it's worth writing, it's worth a novel. Oddly enough, I enjoy reading short stories. My brain just isn't wired to write them. Why worry you wonder? Contests are a great way to get your name out there and get a few publishing credits under your pen.

If you can or do write short stories you should look into contests as a potential way to start to build your writer's platform. Of course the catch is, for it to help your platform, you have to win or be a finalist. The competition can be pretty tough but the rewards are worth it. Notoriety in the publishing world is hard to come by and contests are a great way to do it.

Here are a few good contests that I've heard about (click on the names for the links):
Writer's Digest Short Story Competition
L. Ron Hubbard's Writers Of the Future

So tell me, do you do contests? Know of any great one's?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Keeping Your Motivation Up

A close writer friend of mine recently told me she had no idea how I manage to write so fast and keep my motivation up so consistently. Last year I wrote and thoroughly edited three books and this year my goal is to do the same. My friend's question got me to thinking about motivation and keeping the fire burning. It isn't always easy, and it comes more easily to some. Why is that and how can you get a few coals of that motivation to put on your fire? I don't know a magic spell or drink that will do it but I'll tell you my secrets and hopefully they will give you some ideas.

First my biggest secret, I let myself write a rough draft~a complete rough draft. I don't stop part way through and second guess myself or start editing and making small changes here and there. That disrupts the momentum and ruins the flow of the story from mind to computer. Once that flow is disrupted sometimes it never starts again. Don't disrupt it! Resist the urge to edit until you've reached the very end of your manuscript. I know the look on a few of your faces, I know you're thinking of disregarding this advice~don't! You wanted my biggest secret, there it is.

The second big secret is this, write every day, even if it's only a little bit. Positive word count is better than no word count. I try to write three pages a day but you don't have to do that much. Write a page, or even a paragraph, something to keep your mind on your story. A page a day get's the average book written within a year and that's a respectable goal. You don't have to live up to everyone else's timelines and goals, just your own. Set weekly goals and reward yourself.

Of course there are the other big things I've talked about in the past, knowing the heart of your story, outlining, and character development. I hope some of this helps demystify how I do it and gives you a few ideas you can use!

For more help check out this article from Writer's Digest on staying motivated.
Share your ideas! I'd love to hear how you keep your motivation up.

Strengthening Your Character Arc

Remaining in the vein of last week's post, we're talking about how to strengthen your character's arc and why it's important. The character arc is the changes your character goes through from the beginning to the end of the novel, how they grow and learn, or change. Take a good look at your manuscript or outline. Is your character arc strong enough to help carry the novel? It should be just as strong as the plot, if not stronger, depending upon your genre. Not every genre will have such a powerful character arc and that's okay, they aren't all supposed to. But if you write character driven fiction like I do, that character better be strong.

Think of a novel you read recently that had a really good character arc. How did that character change? What about them did you like in the beginning of the novel and in the end? Readers celebrate with our characters, be it an achievement, revelation, or growth. Without those elements in our characters the reader doesn't get as attached to them and therefore doesn't care, which means they may stop reading.

To make sure your character arc is strong enough, do an arc sheet at the same time you do an outline. Map out the changes, growth, hardship, and setbacks you want your character to go through. They should end up in a completely different state than they began the novel. Not an outlining kind of person? That's okay, jot down notes about what your character is going through personally throughout the novel. Make sure you have accentuated the changes.

For more help check out this article by Writer's Digest on the subject:
And my post featuring a Character Arc sheet:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Jamie Harrington

Jamie Harrington is one of those special writers that I think everyone should be following. She is represented by Mary Kole of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She's one of the most positive people I know. Sometimes when I don't even realize I need encouragement there she is on Twitter sharing something that makes me smile and pushes me to keep going. Her blog is a wealth of knowledge for aspiring writers and anyone who loves books. It was one of her posts that inspired me to create my character arc sheet. But Jamie's help goes so much farther than that. She is one of the fantastic writers who have come together to bring to life the online FREE writer's conference WriteOnCon. Jamie is also a member of the Bookanistas, a group of great writers who review the books that knock their socks off. Her awesomeness just doesn't stop.

You must find out more about this incredible lady! You can find her on Twitter her:
And be sure to check out her amazing blog her. It's full of tips for writers:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday's Muse~Channel Islands

This is the channel islands, well one of them at least. It inspired me this week because it reminded me of the shores of the isolated island my character finds himself on. In this chapter he has to discover a way around his personal obstacles to embrace the training of a people who couldn't be more different from him. But if he's to survive he has to learn a strange new fighting style that is way out of his comfort zone.

I'm a little over 120 pages into this novel now and I'm enjoying it more and more with each chapter. At 40,000 words I'm guessing I'm a little less than halfway through it. Will I meet my deadline of August 31st? I'm not so sure anymore but I'm going to try very hard.

My reading muse so far this month has been 13 To Life by Shannon Delany, which is at sales rank 13,440 at B&N by the way, a VERY good rank for a debut novel considering there are over 400,000 titles. Most are lucky to get below 100,000. Yay Shannon! It's a werewolf story with a great twist and I'm loving it.

The music feeding my muse this month has been Dropkick Murphys. I just discovered them and it was love at first song! They are not for everyone but they are definitely for me! This is Famous For Nothing:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Making Your Character Their Own Person

The key to making your character their own person is getting to know them. You must remove yourself from them. Don't think about what you would do, say, or how you would react. Instead get to know your character enough that they respond to the novel's situation in the way they would, not the way you would. Only then is the story about them, and not just a reflection of yourself. So many people~published authors even~tell me that each of their characters is a part of them. Sorry friends, that's lazy writing.

My characters aren't a reflection of me and certainly aren't pieces of me. They are more like people that I've come to know really, really well. It takes a lot of time and hard work to get to know your characters so well. By doing this though you will enrich the novel and make it more than just a reflection, you will make it three dimensional. Only then can it be really spectacular.

Everyone sees the world differently. Most people have a dominant sense, be it sight, taste, touch, smell, or hearing. This will affect your character's point of view and therefore the voice of the novel. Think of it this way, when you walk in a room what stands out to you?

*Sight~furniture placement, design, decoration, how many people, ect.
*Taste~thick pollen upon the air, coppery taste of blood, tangy fear on the back of your tongue
*Touch~rough fabric of a couch, soft carpet beneath your feet, a warm blanket wrapped around you
*Smell~gardenias on the mantel, perfume of a woman, cologne of a man, scent of hay
*Hearing~clanging dishes, the rhythmic swoosh of a broom, a dog barking, birds chirping

Chances are one of the senses is strongest for you and one will be strongest for your character. The strongest sense affects the way they see everything so it's important to know which is strongest for them. Of course you'll have to decide this but that's half the fun!

Check out this article by Writer's Digest on How To Enhance Your Character's POV for more great tips:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Research Reflected In Your Novel

I hope all my American followers had a safe and fantastic Independence Day this weekend. The holiday had me reflecting upon our freedoms, the freedom of speech in particular. Which, oddly enough, led me to think of researching a novel and deciding what to put in and what not to. I know what you're thinking, why would a fantasy writer be researching a novel? The novel I'm researching for is going to be a sort of young adult historical fantasy.

This novel involves a Mariana trench depth of researching. I'm even going so far as to learn another language to help immerse myself into the culture and get the voice for the story just right. When you're writing a story that requires so much research it can end up making your novel too fat. But, having invested so much time and hard work in it you might find it hard to cut unnecessary parts. You may have a tendency to put all that great research in your novel when it isn't needed.

Here is an easy tip for what to leave out: If it doesn't do something for the novel, cut it. To use an old saying, if you introduce a gun in scene one, you have to use it by the end of the novel. The same goes for research that you've integrated into your novel, it must mean something to the novel itself, not just to you. That doesn't mean that you can't describe someone or set the scene, just be careful not to over do it.

Several years back I read a book by an author that broke this rule with devastating affect. It was one of the heaviest books, both literally and figuratively speaking, that I've attempted to read. The author went on for pages about plants and herbs that never meant anything to the story. It was obvious they had researched the plant life and couldn't help but put it in the book, in excruciating detail. I never finished that book despite the fact that I had loved the author's previous three novels. I haven't bought anything by them since.

If you make this mistake as an aspiring author you may never actually debut and if you make it as a seasoned author with several published books, you may drive your fans away. Everything must have meaning, even your descriptions and settings. Follow this rule and you increase your chances of getting published!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Audry Taylor

Audry Taylor is a freelance writer and editor who has her finger~or pen rather~on the pulse of the entertainment industry. She is both the Senior Editor and Creative Director of the publishing company Go! Media Entertainment which publishes non-fiction, manga, and graphic novels aimed at the young adult market.

We met on Twitter on one of the many great chats for writers that occurs there. Audry's straight forward, unabashed way of tweeting was instantly appealing to me. She isn't the type to hide her opinions or coddle her followers. She tells it like it is and still maintains a level of light-hearted humor. I love that about her! If you want to connect with a writer who will not only be supportive but will give you that extra kick when you need it, look Audry up!

You can find her on Twitter here:
And check out her blog here:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Monday's Muse~Facing Fears

I'm back to work on The First Dragonwatcher now that my revision of Grendar's Tale has been sent off on editor submission. I came across this unique picture by G. Vidal on the Fantasy Art Design. When I found this picture I felt as though the artist had seen into my mind and witnessed a chapter I was brainstorming. I love it when that happens! In this chapter my main character is forced to face his fears and come to terms with the fact that life isn't always easy. It wasn't an easy chapter to write because I've become very attached to this main character and I hate putting him in bad situations. But such is the world!

This week's reading inspiration was Change of Heart by Shari Maurer. This book is touching and nothing short of amazing. Hurry, run out and buy it! Better yet, click on the title and it will take you to a link where you can buy it!

This week's song was Betrayal and Desolation off the Braveheart soundtrack:
Our Independence Day inspired me to start researching a novel I'll be writing soon. What inspired you this week? Anything special?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Spreading The Writer Love

One of the best parts about the writer community is how supportive everyone is. My writer friends inspire me every day with their generosity and giving spirits. Writers are special, I've never met any other group that is quite like them.

When I came back from New York I was flattered to find that Heather's Odyssey had won several blogger awards. I won the Versatile Blogger award from not one, but two of my fabulous writer buddies. This award is for the blogger who manages to keep their blog versatile enough to both entertain and help others. I'm touched ladies, thank you for choosing me!

The first was from Alissa Grosso, up and coming YA author who's book releases next year. Check out her blog and website here: Alissa is sweet and supportive and you're going to love her book when it hits the shelves! The second Versatile Blogger award was given to me by Lisa Green of the highly entertaining blog Paranormal Point of View. If you don't already follow Lisa's blog you must, it is quirky, fun, and highly imaginative. The third is from Patricia Stoltey an author from Colorado who blogs about writing and her experience in publishing.

Since I've won three of The Versatile Blogger Award I'm going to pass it on to three people who I think run a blog that reflects the award. The first is Karlene Petitt, a writer and an airline pilot who manages to mesh the two in her blog Flight To Success quite well. The second is Lydia Kang, a doctor who meshes her profession with writing to bring her readers some of the most valuable and insightful tips for use in their writing. Her blog is The Word Is My Oyster. The third is author Elizabeth Craig of the Mystery Writing is Murder blog. Elizabeth shares everything about her journey from publicity and conferences to book signings and pitching. She is a wealth of information and if you aren't reading her blog you need to be.

Heather's Odyssey was awarded the Journey Support award by the wonderful Lydia Kang of The Word Is My Oyster. This is a special award given to those who are supportive to others in the journey of writing and publication. I am bequeathing this award to someone who has been my friend from the very beginning and has been one of my biggest supporters, Lindsey Edwards of The Write Words blog. She blogs about the writing journey, helping others by sharing her experiences.

Last is the Beautiful Blogger award handed to me by Karen Strong of the blog Musings of a Novelista. Thank you Karen! On a deeper level this award is for those who go the extra mile and do something above and beyond what the regular blogger sets out to do. They don't just reach out to feel connected, they reach out to touch someone and make a difference. There are a lot of fabulous people I could award this to but I must choose just one. Therefore I'm choosing the Mundie Moms of the Mundie Moms book blog. They are lovers of YA books, especially anything by Cassie Clare, but they are so much more than that. The Mundie Moms support authors like I've never seen anyone do. They go above and beyond to help promote their favorite books~which are outstanding by the way~and they support up and coming authors as well. Even more, they are always spotlighting one worthy cause or another, be it literacy, libraries, or even things such as cancer. To me this makes them more than worthy of the Beautiful Blogger award. Thank you ladies for all that you do.

Thank you to everyone who was so kind as to give Heather's Odyssey an award and thank you to each of the lovely people I passed the awards on to. You are what make the journey just as important as the destination. Please click on the names to go to the links.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July's Debut Author~Shari Maurer

This month I'm honored to be interviewing Shari Maurer about her debut novel Change of Heart. First, a little about Change of Heart to catch up those of you who haven't heard about it yet.

When you’re 16 years old, it never occurs to you that you might die. Emmi Miller’s got a fabulous life. She has tons of friends, does great in school and is an all-star soccer player who played in Europe last summer. It even looks like Sam Hunter, a totally cute baseball player, might be interested in her. And then she gets a virus. No biggy, right? Until the virus goes to her heart and weakens it so much that, without a transplant, Emmi will die.


Now that I have you teared up and completely hooked, please welcome Shari Maurer to Heather's Odyssey.

Hi Shari! I'm going to start with the tough questions first. Daria Snadowsky, author of Anatomy of a Boyfriend raves that Change Of Heart is an honest story about everything that really matters in life. That sounds like some really heavy material for a novel. Was Change of Heart difficult to write, either on an emotional, or craft level?

First I want to say that as heavy as the subject matter sounds, the book is not a heavy read. There are moments of lightness and people have been telling me it's the kind of book you can read in a day or two. And no, it wasn't hard to write. The more research I did, the more the story shaped itself (of course, the high levels of caffeine in my system probably moved things along, too!).

I loved the light hearted moments of the book and have to agree with your friends, it made for a quick, very enjoyable read. What was your favorite part of the writing process?

I love developing the characters. You get to create a whole backstory for these people. As I drive around, they'll have imaginary conversations in my head. Sometimes I'll do pretend journals for them or write letters between them, particularly when I'm stuck.

I love the idea of writing letters between your characters for inspiration! Can you tell us a bit about Change of Heart that we may not know from the information on your website?

I stole a lot of the character names from people in real life. And while Emmi and her brothers have the same family structure as my kids (girl, boy, boy) and the same first initials (my kids are Elisabeth, Josh and Eric. Emmi has Jeremy and Eli), most of the resemblance ends there. Well, except for the fact that Emmi's brothers make her crazy with their constant wrestling and Yankee Game watching. That kind of happens in my house, too.

Do you have another novel in the works? A sequel or stand alone perhaps?

I have another novel completed. I love it and we're hoping it'll find a home soon. And another novel is being written. First draft is completed and my goal for this summer is take this mediocre first draft and turn it into something special.

Both of these are stand alones, but I'm starting to get readers asking me for a sequel to Change of Heart, so you never know.

Sounds very promising! I enjoyed Change Of Heart so much that I'd love another book from you, even if it isn't a sequel. So tell me, is there anything in the publishing process that surprised you?

How important making writer friends would be. I always thought of writing as a solitary endeavor, but the best thing I have done all year is to become a part of the Class of 2K10 and the Tenners. And for anyone who is even thinking of doing anything in children's publishing, Verla Kay's Blueboards are an unbelievable resource for information and support.

I couldn't agree with you more there. The writer community is a fantastic, supportive one that always inspires me. Any closing thoughts to leave us with?

Please consider registering to become an potential organ donor. If there's one thing I've learned through the research I did, it's how few available organs there are and how long people wait, often dying in the process. We hope you never need it, but if you do, it would be great to know you could help up to 8 people. For more info on how to register in your state go to: And tell everyone you know!

That sounds like great advice. After reading Change Of Heart I became an organ donor and I'm sure many more people will too. It's an amazing thing you've done Shari by opening our eyes to this. Thank you so much for joining us and sharing your story. I'm recommending Change of Heart to everyone I know as the must read book of the year!

To learn more about Shari and her touching connection to this amazing story please visit her website:  
To get a signed copy of Change Of Heart click here:
And you can find Shari on Twitter here: