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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Pajama Girl returns! Plus PB Critiques Available!

It's early in the game but I just have to tell you that Pajama Girl will be coming to print! Pajama Girl was the Grand Prize winner in the inaugural MeeGenius Author Challenge. From that point on, it remained a bestseller. The number one question I've been asked about Pajama Girl is where can someone purchase a print copy? The answer had been, "There isn't one. It's strictly a digital book." While I will always be extremely grateful that its marvelous digital edition was published, I always held out hope that there would be a print version someday. I, myself, love books. I spend a lot of time in front of screens, both writing books and at my job as a librarian. When I'm ready to curl up with a book, I don't want to be with another glowing screen. I want to breathe in the glorious scent of ink on paper and I want to use my beautiful bookmarks. Ahhhh. It just works for me.

Finally, I decided I've been in the game long enough that I can offer a print edition through my own publishing imprint, 8N Publishing, LLC. It's taken me years of research in children's publishing, a degree in English Literature, a Master's in Library and Information Science, a certificate in e-Marketing, several years as a book reviewer, and an overall love for children's books to get to this point. I coordinate the Local Author fairs at my library. I've seen countless numbers of picture books. I did library storytimes for many years. I learned what makes a book work. I know high quality when I see it. Books are my thing and I'm excited to work with my amazing Pajama Girl illustrator, Ingvard the Terrible, to get this book into the hands of eager readers.

8N Publishing is my brand new company. Its first book is my YA novel, Dream Frequency, which released in June. I'm planning to launch a beautiful hardcover of Pajama Girl by the end of this year. To help offset the production costs, I'm running a GoFundMe. You can use it to preorder an author signed copy of the book which will be mailed out as soon as I have them in hand. If you're an aspiring author, I thought it would be fun to offer picture book critiques as a reward level in my fundraiser. For $85, you can help Pajama Girl come to print, but you can also score yourself a full picture book critique for books up to 1000 words. I will give you a letter and thorough notes on your manuscript. I love to help authors, so I'm happy to offer this service as part of this campaign. There are 10 critique spots available. If your manuscript is not finished yet and you still want to snag one of these critiques, you can use it later when you're ready. I look forward to reading your work!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Dream Frequency Cover Reveal!

Since I finished writing this book, I've been waiting for this moment. Seeing my new book cover is the moment when the manuscript gets out of my head and starts to become its own entity in the world. No longer a vague notion, it's a real book. I think this cover is beautiful and I hope you will too. 

While you're waiting for the book to be released, I'm anticipating late June or early July 2017, please add it to your GoodReads shelf and spread the word!  

I'd like to thank Ken Suminski for his incredible talent and dedication to creating a cover that would make me happy. This definitely does. 

Without further ado, I'd like you to meet my second YA novel and conclusion to Dream Girl: Dream Frequency...

I can't stop looking at it! 

Christine would never have considered herself new recruit material for a secret U.S. agency. Until recently, she's just been an ordinary girl graduating from high school and wondering if a friendship with Gabriel, a mysterious coworker, would grow into something romantic. When Christine's fascination with Gabriel leads to her discovery of dreamworlds, she learns that she's anything but ordinary. In this thrilling conclusion to Dream Girl, Christine and Gabriel must choose their allegiances and face corruption, conspiracy, and the complexities of love in order to save themselves and everyone who matters to them - or die trying.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Why and How I'm Publishing Dream Frequency

It isn’t an uncommon story these days. Small, independent publishers pop up, put out some books, and then disappear. I’d watched it happen to an author whose blog I follow. Her first book was well received and while she was working on the sequel, her publisher folded. It was difficult news for her and her readers. Luckily, she’d found a new publishing home for both books. What a relief!

When I was nearing completion of my sequel to DREAM GIRL, I got the unfortunate news that my publisher would no longer be publishing fiction. After I worked through my shock and disappointment, I rallied by researching my options. Thinking as a writer, reader, and librarian, here’s what I decided to do:

Once I decided to finish the book and publish it myself, my first step was to see what kind of affordable print options might be out there. I had originally imagined that I would use a local printer whose work I was familiar with and admired, but ultimately, I decided to go with IngramSpark. The deciding factor, for me, is that IngramSpark has distribution. By publishing my book with them, I’d have access to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram itself and more. (As a librarian whose library uses Ingram to order our collection, that was pretty important.) By “access to” these venues, I mean that Ingram handles fulfillment. Someone places their order, Ingram prints and ships it and I don’t have to do a thing. Distribution is probably the most important thing beyond having a good product so if you’re thinking of self-publishing, don’t forget to think about how readers can get your book.

After I saw that Ingram has an affordable print and distribution plan, the next thing I did was buy my ISBN and barcode from Bowker.com  I did some research to make sure Bowker was reputable before I actually purchased my ISBN and barcode. 

Ava Jae
Great book with a sequel due out Fall 2017!
Those steps out of the way, I hustled to finish the manuscript. Let’s face it, that’s the hardest work of all. Once I got through my first few drafts, I needed to find an editor. For this project, I wanted two editors. One was my very good author friend, Monica R. Sholar, who read and enjoyed the first book. For the second, I wanted someone who didn’t know me well personally and hadn’t read DREAM GIRL. Technically, all books in a series are supposed to stand on their own, so I wanted to make sure someone who didn’t have any recollections of the first book would be able to enjoy it too. I was delighted to learn that Michigan YA author, Ava Jae, also does affordable freelance editing.  I read her book, BEYOND THE RED, liked her writing style, and thought she’d be a good match for my

Each editor challenged me in a different way and both had great insights that helped me go back and refine the story. In this case, two editorial voices was the right amount. Their changes overlapped in many instances, but there were some big differences as well. Drawing on the expertise of each, I was able to improve the plot, dialogue, descriptions and became very familiar with my particular bad writing habits. The guidance of a good editor is priceless!

This cover still makes me smile.
Before I dove into edits, I decided to get a cover designer. The cover is extremely important to me, and is easily my favorite part of the publishing process. (Or at least a close second to writing the acknowledgments!) It is absolutely necessary that my covers are high quality, professional, compare to the types of covers on similar titles, and make me happy. Luckily, I worked in advertising for a few years. During that time, I made great friends in the graphic design and proofreading departments. I had worked with one of those friends, Ken Suminski, on my bookmark and the cover for my digital short story, SICK DAY. (He’s available to do freelance design work, such as book covers, logo design, and promotional materials for reasonable rates. If you want to see what he can do for you, he can be contacted at k.suminski (at) comcast (dot) net  Put “design referral from Sarah” in the subject.) With my cover in Ken’s capable hands, I went back to editing with my comments from Monica and Ava. I finished my edits shortly after Ken finished the final version of the cover. But there was still more work to be done!

With a shiny new cover that I loved, I was ready to share it with the world! But just like book distribution, I was worried about reaching a broader audience. I decided to book a cover reveal with a blog I’d used to promote DREAM GIRL, YA Bound BookTours.  We set the date for April 19 and I was ready for the next steps of preparing the manuscript: proofreading and print formatting.

For proofreading, I chose another of my advertising connections who had also helped me with DREAM GIRL. For interior formatting, I turned to another Michigan author, MelissaStorm, who is also the owner of Novel Publicity. Melissa highly recommended the work of Mallory Rock, who does cover designs as well as formatting.

In preparation for the final steps of production, I registered as an LLC. I admit, this was a daunting prospect for me, but it turned out to be incredibly easy and painless. I asked a few author friends for guidance and then came across this site of extremely helpful videos. I printed the LLC form, watched the video, and filled it out. (Not scary at all!) For added peace of mind, I got a P.O. box to go with my LLC. If you get a P.O. box, I recommend shopping around. The prices vary widely. I discovered that a small P.O. box for one year in one city cost $108, while the same sized box in another city, just a few miles away, cost $52 per year.

At the time of writing, I currently have the manuscript with my proofreader and will be sending it on to Mallory once proofreading is complete.

Next steps will be finding book reviewers, booking a blog tour, and working on promotion before diving into my next WIP. A writer’s work is never done!

Although I’m not completely through the process yet, I can attest that self-publishing can be an affordable option. There is a lot to think about and deal with when publishing your own book. While it can definitely feel overwhelming and even scary, it’s also exciting and satisfying to guide your own story from idea to finished product. Just as only you can tell the story in your heart, only you can decide the right way to get that story into the hands of readers. Enjoy the journey, and no matter what, keep writing!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year Announcement!

Happy New Year everyone! 2016 was a rough year for a lot of people, but I have nothing but hope, optimism, and excitement for 2017. Why might that be?

For starters, I'm in the final stages of getting the Dream Girl sequel ready for publication. I have received editorial notes from my incredible editor. I am also working with an insanely talented graphic designer to get the cover together. (That will be coming soon and you are going to love it!) I will also being getting edits from another trusted editor. Then I'll revise based on their notes, send to my all star proofreader, and then it's off for typesetting and voila! A new book is born! This is the year!

Now that the release year is here, I thought it'd be the perfect time to finally tell you some things.

1. The book is not called Dream Girl 2. It has its own name. With the cover artwork in production as we speak, the whole endeavor has become very real to me. I know what this beauty is going to look like. It isn't final, so I can't reveal that today (soon, I promise!) but I wanted to share my excitement by announcing to you, my loyal readers, friends, and family. The sequel, and conclusion, to Dream Girl is called Dream Frequency!

2. At this point, the release date is this April. While that might sound like forever to you, it's frighteningly close for all the work that still has to happen to get it into production.

3. You may wonder why I'm talking about doing all this stuff. In case you are, the answer is this. The publisher of Dream Girl, has decided to take a hiatus from publishing fiction. (Yes, that's kind of a bummer.) However, I didn't want to leave you guys hanging. I didn't want to leave Christine and Gabriel hanging either. So I completed the book and through the magic of the modern publishing landscape, I'll be offering a print and ebook version of Dream Frequency. It will have the same availability as Dream Girl, so you'll find it at Amazon, BN.com, iBooks, etc. It's a big undertaking to self-publish a book, which is part of why I'm making this announcement today. I'm going to need your help! Dream Frequency now has an entry on Goodreads. It would be so incredibly helpful if you could add it to your Goodreads shelf and share it with your friends who might enjoy it. There is no better way to get the word out than word of mouth, so if you enjoyed Dream Girl, please tell your friends and let them know the sequel is almost here!

4. Thank you. Seriously. Thank you so very much. Dream Frequency would not exist without you. I have to admit, when I found out my publisher wasn't going to do fiction anymore, I lost all enthusiasm for writing this book. I started writing another book and figured I'd start fresh with that. But your comments and support kept coming. You kept asking what happens next? When will the sequel come out? And then Gabriel and Christine started whispering in my head again. I realized that you guys were out there, waiting for the end of the story, and I couldn't leave you hanging. I couldn't leave Gabriel and Christine hanging either! Even if I had to figure out how to publish it myself, this was something that needed to be done. You kept me going, whether you realize it or not, and I'm so grateful for that.

I hope your new year is starting out with magic and excitement too. Let's make it an incredible year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Happy Holiday Reading!

I'm not a librarian and a writer for nothing. I love books. So it's only natural that I want to share the very best books with my friends and family. (That would be you!)

As I'm looking longingly at my TBR pile as the Christmas break approaches, I thought I'd share a few titles that would make excellent last minute holiday gifts for the readers in your life, or just good ones for you to cuddle up during these snowy days and nights.

One my absolute faves
First, I see that alternate realities are having a moment in both adult and YA fiction right now. I love alternate realities but nobody captured my imagination better than Michael Lawrence and his Withern Rise trilogy, beginning with A Crack in the Line. It's only available as a Kindle ebook now, but the entire trilogy is amazing and I can't recommend it enough. It tells the story of Alaric and Naia Underwood who discover alternate realities of their own lives, accidentally. Besides being a fun concept, it provides a lot of food for thought. You'll wonder about the power of your own decisions after reading this book. Seriously, do yourself a favor and look into it! These books can easily be enjoyed by teens and adults alike.

And this cover is just GORGEOUS!

It's Christmastime, so what better time to dive into a book that takes place during Christmastime, on a Christmas tree farm? Jay Asher's brand new book, What Light is an unusual and uplifting story about love, forgiveness, growth, and healing. It's a beautifully written story with moving characters in a setting you won't soon forget. Make yourself a mug of hot chocolate and curl up with this delightful book. Definitely geared toward teens, but adults can get something out of this book as well. And that cover!

This cover grabbed me first
Wandering through Barnes and Noble spending my end of the year budget for my library, I took a walk through the poetry section and my eye landed on a pink volume called The Universe of Us by Lang Leav. I liked the look of the cover and when I turned it over to see what the back said, I found this, and only this: "He and I collided like two predestined stars and in that brief moment I felt what it was like to be immortal." I was hooked! From the cover, the introduction, to the last page, this book completely blew me away. The poems look deceptively simple, but they are rich with deep emotion and raw truth. I read the library's copy and bought my own immediately. I'm not one to select a volume of poetry for my pleasure reading, but I will be coming back to this book again and again. This is another that should appeal to both teens and adults.

Another stand out is Beyond the Red by Ava Jae. The world building in this book is phenomenal. It takes place on another planet covered by scarlet red sand. There are alien beings, humans, and half bloods. Normally, that isn't my cup of tea, but this book sucked me right in from page one. It has political intrigue, action, romance, family dynamics, betrayal, and hope. I didn't expect to get sucked into the world as much as I was, which is a testament to the skill of the author. It's also the first book in a trilogy. The second book is coming out in Fall 2017. Another great crossover for teens and adults!

Finally, a book that came out this spring, Please Pardon My Dust, I'm Under Construction by Monica R. Sholar. This book is 100% pure inspiration. It details the struggles of 25 Michigan women who faced the lowest points in their lives and worked their way up to success. I love that this book doesn't define success the way our society does - fame and fortune. These women made personal goals and worked toward their own dreams. Whether those dreams were finding a way to provide for their families, start a clothing line, open a bakery, or write a book, these women share their stories to inspire and uplift us all. This is an excellent book to read before/during the new year to help motivate you to work toward your own goals this year.

I really loved each of these books and I hope at least one of them is calling out to you too. It's always fun to share the book love. If there's a title you're dying to recommend to everyone in sight, please add it in the comments. Also, if you agree with any of these recommends I've made, please say so too. I love to bond with readers over excellent books.

Happy holidays and best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2017!

Monday, July 18, 2016


It's not okay.

Even if you don't watch the news or read newspapers, you know that terrible things are going on in our world every day. It seems like an endless litany of shootings every time we turn around. And it's terrible, but more than these evil actions, I am seriously concerned and unnerved by the level of blatant hatred that's circulating these days. Social media is a horrifying wake up call to what's happening to our citizens. (And by "our" I mean the world's.) It seems that with all of us, with our own tiny social media platforms, we suddenly believe that our personal viewpoints are more valid than anyone else's and that it's okay to spew violence and hatred on anyone who dares to have a different opinion. It's very disturbing to me the level of cruelty that people give in to over these viewpoint clashes. God forbid a person support Hillary Clinton and another support Donald Trump. I see people actually proclaiming that the person supporting a different candidate than them does not deserve to live. Did you catch that? If people's political ideologies don't align, then the other person's life has no value. Folks, this is bone chillingly not okay.  This kind of devaluing of the lives of others seems to be rampant in modern society. And the lives of "others" are meaningless based on many criteria. Wrong religion, wrong country of origin, wrong sexual preferences, wrong sexual identity, wrong political allegiance, wrong gender, wrong dietary patterns, wrong parenting practices, wrong skin color and so on.

Anyone questioning the value of someone's life because of their skin color is so inherently wrong and ridiculous, this shouldn't even be a topic of conversation. And yet it is. The fact that it is 2016 and we have a campaign called #BlackLivesMatter is not okay.

I, like many of us, have been hearing news reports with an increasingly heavy heart. How many people have to die? How many people have to suffer violence? I know we want things to change. We don't want to hear these stories anymore. We call for gun reform. We call for mental health reform. We call for something to happen. But what is happening? It seems like just more violence. And we shake our heads and hope someone will do something to stop it. We feel powerless to do anything that can tackle these seemingly insurmountable problems in our world. I know that's how I've been feeling. And then something changed.

A friend's post showed up in my Facebook newsfeed:

"I’m working in these streets so any protesters, officers, friends, family or whoever, if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer. I got you.”
Officer Montrell L. Jackson, 
Facebook post 7/8/16
killed today in Baton Rouge

And that was the last straw for me. Something in me finally changed. I can't sit here and wait for something to change anymore. You know why? Because it isn't going to. Sitting around being impotently outraged behind our computer screens isn't going to change anything. I spent all morning thinking about what I can do about it. I can't make terrorists stop attacking people. I can't make people stop rioting. I can't stop crooked cops from profiling African Americans. But you know what I can do? I can actively try to spread love instead of hate. And you can too. 

St. Francis's Peace Prayer as been on my mind lately. I'd like to share it with you:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

What strikes me about this is the selflessness. My opinion is not the center of the world. What I think is right is secondary to how I can be a blessing to someone else. That is in direct opposition to the message from today's media, where my happiness is the only thing that matters, no matter the cost. 

I've also been struck by a line from a Passenger song, Scare Away the Dark. (There are some F bombs.) "Well, sing, sing at the top of your voice / Love without fear in your heart / Feel, feel like you still have a choice / If we all light up we can scare away the dark"  

I decided the singer is right. If more of us would just light up, there would be fewer places for the darkness to hide. 

That's what spurred this uncharacteristic blog post. It's the outlet I have and I'm using it to voice how unhappy I am with the world our children are inheriting. I want kids to know that we aren't powerless. We don't have to be sad about the news and wait for someone to do something about it. We don't even have to do something huge and far-reaching. We can only do our own part, no matter how small, and at least know that we are trying to be the solution. 

So, I have a proposition for everyone. I'd like to create the hashtag #HealTheWorld to inspire each other. To invigorate people who might need a little nudge to do something different. It doesn't have to be huge, but I'd like to suggest that we all start spreading kindness and inclusion. Similar to random acts of kindness, I want to propose a different kind of "random." I'd like to replace the randomness with purpose driven kindness. I'd like for all of us to actively approach people who make us uncomfortable. Who we have prejudices toward. Who we don't agree with. Who don't look like us. And light up for that person. You don't have to spend money. You don't have to be their best friend. Heck, I think it'd be great if we just wrote out little slips of paper that said, "I'm glad you're here." Think about what that would mean to you if you're hurting. I mean it. Think about that right now. 
What if a young black man walked up to an elderly white woman and handed her a little note that says, "I'm glad you're here." 
What if a middle class white man walked up to a man in a turban and said, "Good to see you today. How's it going?" 
What if an overwhelmed mother in the grocery store was approached by a teenager with a mohawk and sincerely asked if there was anything they could help with.
What if you smiled at someone you would normally turn away from? 
What if someone stopped focusing on what annoys them or scares them about you and reached out to a part they liked?  

It might just be idealism, but I like to think it would help change hearts. Like it might just jar us out of our comfortable routine and make us really see the people around us. Not as stereotypes, not as "other" but human beings. 

So, I'm proposing this little movement. Let's challenge ourselves to do better. To interact positively with people we judge without understanding. To stop letting the hurtful and scared parts of ourselves have control. Let's do what Passenger says. "Love without fear in your heart." Let's do what St. Francis prayed, "not so much seek to be consoled as to console." We have to do something. It isn't okay to keep locking everyone out. It isn't okay to say that people who look or behave differently than us or who disagree with us don't matter. That's a lie. We're all here and we all matter. And it's time we all start acting like it.  

Monday, February 8, 2016

Susanna Leonard Hill's Valentiny Contest

I read about Susanna Leonard Hill's Valentiny Contest and it sounded like a fun challenge to write a Valentine story with a grumpy character in only 214 words! ( 2/14 for Valentine's Day off course!) So here is my humble entry in this contest. It was a lot of fun to write and difficult to keep under 214 words! Thanks for the opportunity and for the nice little writing challenge. Coming in at exactly 214 words, I submit:

Captain Salty's Valentine

Captain Salty was in a mood. Nothing could make him smile. Not stomping his peg leg. Not feeding crackers to his parrot. Not telling jokes to First Mate Moe. In fact, where was Moe? Captain Salty couldn’t make the ship run smoothly without Moe! Oh dear. It didn’t look good.

Captain Salty searched all the places he could think of: the galley, the crow’s nest. the poop deck. He even checked to make sure Moe hadn’t gone for a nap. No sign of him!

Just when Captain Salty was about to order all hands on deck, First Mate Moe appeared with a big smile on his face and his hands behind his back.

“Blimey!” Exclaimed Captain Salty. “Where has ye been?”

“I’ve been workin’ on a little something fer ye, Cap’n.” Moe replied.

“Fer me?” asked the Captain.

“Yes,” exclaimed Moe. “Tis a special day today.”

By now, the other crew members were gathered around.

“Today?” The Captain scratched his head.

“We admire the cut o’ yer jib, Cap’n,” Moe said. “And we want to wish ye a Happy Valentine’s Day.” Moe pulled a giant paper heart out from behind his back, signed by the whole crew.

The captain was so touched he made a rare declaration.

“Doubloons for all!”

“Hooray! Happy Valentine’s Day!”