Brighton Walsh, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author

#ListifyLife Spring Challenge

A few months ago, I joined this totally amazing group on Facebook (ugh, I know, but this group makes going into the devil’s lair worth it) of publishing people who are planner-focused. It’s basically like nirvana every time I go into our little corner of Facebook. These women have such great ideas—not just on planning, but on business in general.

listifylife2One of those ideas came from Roni Loren who mentioned maybe trying out a list challenge to utilize all those pretty, pretty supplies we can’t help ourselves from buying. It’s also a great way to bring something besides BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS talk to our social media accounts.

Well, let me tell you, she had me hooked from the minute the word “list” left her lips. I am a list maker. Since I’m a hardcore planner, that shouldn’t surprise you. But I love lists to a ridiculous degree. At the end of the day, if I’ve somehow managed to not make a list, yet accomplished a great deal? I make one right then and there, just for the satisfaction of crossing off the items. (Don’t judge me.)

So what is the #ListifyLife Spring Challenge? 

listifylife listIt’s a challenge like many you’ve seen before. They’re all over the place on social media, and most run daily. I don’t know about you, but any time I try to participate in one, I always fall behind and have catch-up posts. And sometimes, I fall so far behind, I figure, screw it. I don’t always have the time (or energy, let’s be real) to focus on a fun challenge every day, which is why this weekly challenge is a better fit for me. (And maybe you, too!)

We’re starting on the first day of spring and working through the season. Thirteen weeks of list making goodness! You can make your list however you want. Have a cool app on your phone that does word pictures? Great. Don’t have much time but to scribble something on that soon-to-be-discarded envelope? Super. Want to practice your hand lettering and make something really pretty every week? *cough* Awesome. You can do it however you want. Share on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, your blog, Tumblr, Pinterest—wherever works for you.

My plan is to post my challenges on Mondays. We’ll see if Mondays are good to me. The great thing about this is I have a whole week to post the challenge and still be on track.

I also have a few other things I’d like to start trying on the blog. A Whatcha _________ Wednesday post, where I’ll talk about things I’m reading, cooking, loving, etc. And a Friday Round-up post—a list of things I’ve saved on Facebook and in my Pocket account for future reading. Honestly, this is my way of making sure I go back through those things I’ve saved for later and actually look at them. But, hey, maybe you’ll find some of them useful too.

I hope you’ll join us on the #ListifyLife challenge! And even if you decide to sit this one out and watch from the sidelines, check out the hashtag weekly and see what we’re up to.


Fictional Boy I’d Fight My BFF For (14 Days of Fictional Swoon blog hop)

When Jaime asked me if I’d be interested in participating in her and Swoony Boys Podcast’s 14 Days of Fictional Swoon, I said hell yes! Especially when I get to talk about book boyfriends I love. (For details on the blog hop and how to participate in the giveaway(s), check out the link above.)

I’ll admit I’m not a book boyfriend collector like some, but there are a few I’d fight my BFF for. And when I was thinking of who I’d write about in this post, I’ll admit it was hard to narrow it down to just one. There are so many great fictional boys out there. Some of my all time favorites are Etienne from Anna and the French Kiss, Brady from Animal Magnetism, Russell from Make Me, and newly added Jack from The Anatomical Shape of a Heart. But there is one guy who trumps allllll of these others. Strength, loyalty, and being a total sexy beast is what my favorite book boyfriends are made of, and Sean Reilly from Midnight Captive has it all. He is alpha to the core. But not one of those alphaholes I hate. Oh, no, Sean just knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to go after it. And what he wants? Is Bailey Jones. He goes after her with a single minded determination that I found incredibly sexy. He’s not a creep or a stalker, but he makes his interest well known to Bailey. Another thing I loved? He wasn’t afraid to show her just how gone he was over her. An alpha not afraid to show weakness? THE HELL YOU SAY. But this man, you guys. THIS MAN.

The perfect one-liner…

“…I wanted you from the moment I saw you.”

And then we have this little beauty (possession and honesty and vulnerability are, apparently, my kryptonite):

“Mine,” he muttered. “You’re mine, Bailey.” 
She broke the kiss, anger blazing in her eyes. “I don’t belong to anyone.”
“You do tonight.” When she tried to back away from him, he touched her face, gently curling his hand under her chin. “It goes both ways, luv. Because tonight I belong to you.
Surprise flitted through her expression, deepening when he took her hand and placed it directly over his heart so she could feel its irregular pounding. “Feel that, Bailey?”
She nodded wordlessly.
“That’s how badly I want you.” He swallowed, oddly nervous now. “That’s how terrified I am that you might change your mind and walk out the door.”

And then

“You’re scared of me, Bailey.”
Her gaze flew to his. “I’m not scared of you.”
“Yeah, you’re right. You’re not scared—your bloody terrified. You’re terrified of how good I make you feel. You think it gives me power over you.”
She sucked in a shaky breath.
“But for a smart woman, you’re pretty fucking dense sometimes.” His hand dropped from her neck. “Don’t you know by now that you have just as much power over me?”

I mean. I can. Not.

So, yes, for Sean Reilly I would jump into a pool of Jell-O and wrestle my BFF just to claim him as my book boyfriend. And you can’t judge me for it.

Thanks for stopping by, and don’t forget to check out the rest of the blogs participating in the 14 Days of Fictional Swoon Blog Hop! But first, enter below to win a copy of newly released Paige in Progress! Jaime herself called Adam your next book boyfriend, and I don’t think she’d lie to you.

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14 Days of Fictional Swooning Schedule

February 1stFiction Fare

February 1stSwoony Boys Podcast

February 2ndWhoRU blog

February 3rdBrighton Walsh

February 4th– Lost in Literature

February 5thGone with the Words

February 6thAlexa Loves Books

February 7thAndi’s ABCs

February 8th– Huntley Fitzpatrick (hosted on Fiction Fare and Swoony Boys Podcast)

February 9thNo BS Book Reviews

February 10thAshley Herring Blake

February 11thWe So Nerdy

February 12th- Roshani Chokshi

February 13thThe Irish Banana Review

February 14thKristen Simmons

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The Epic Birthday Extravaganza

I could’ve said The Epic Birthday Giveaway, but I just really like the word extravaganza, and since it’s my birthday, I can do what I want.

And, apparently, what I want is to give you gifts. I’ve had a stack of books that I’ve been slowly sticking away with the intention to do a giveaway…soon. Well, “soon” turned out to be, um, not so soon. The good news for you is that small stack turned into an epic pile.

giveaway1 giveaway2Ohhhh…pretty, right? Some are ARCs, some are finished paperbacks, some are hardcovers, and I can’t be sure (and I’m too lazy to check all 50 books), but I belieeeeeeeve, some are even signed. This is going to be easy, because it’s my birthday and I get to be lazy today. Five winners, choice of 3 books each, preference in order of winners drawn (i.e. first person drawn gets first pick, second gets second, etc). US only, because I got a lot of cool things for my birthday but a money tree was not one. Enter via the Rafflecopter below.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m very busy wearing my tiara and eating cupcakes.

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Assignment #2: Find a New Critique Partner

If you completed the first assignment, you might have uncovered some issues in your MS. If you didn’t, one of two things have happened: A) you already have a good handle on pacing and know how to work it in your own stuff. Yay! Or B) what you think are your beats aren’t actually your beats, which means something isn’t going to add up for your readers.

So how do you find out if you’re A or B? Enlist new CPs (Critique Partners). The second assignment I gave my mentees was to swap work. Why? Several reasons. First and foremost, it builds relationships. My CP and beta readers are my rocks and people I absolutely could not do this journey without. Finding those people and nurturing the relationships are good for this career. Besides that, the more you read and the more you help others with their books, the easier you’ll be able to see those same errors in your own and fix accordingly.

How do you find CPs? Well, right now is a perfect time to throw it out on the Pitch Wars hashtag. I’d also like to propose you use #PWCPSeek. Hop over to the hashtag, post your category, genre, and hook, and see who would be a good fit. I suggest you swap with at least two people. Three is even better. Having multiple opinions help you see if it’s a subjective opinion (1 person comments), something to seriously consider (2 people comment) or something you really need to work on (3 or more comment).

Next up? Should you take that feedback or not? How to decide what to take and what to leave from the comments your new CPs give you. This will be up sometime next week to give you guys time to do your homework!


Your First Assignment: Beat Sheets

As I mentioned on Twitter, my lovely Pitch Wars mentees this year, Lisa and Suz, gave me the thumbs up to share with you some of their homework assignments. That way, those of you who didn’t get picked can whip your MS into shape as best as you can. (Please note, this doesn’t negate the necessity of CPs and/or beta readers!)

I’m going to post the homework assignments here on the blog, in separate posts, as well as tweet about them. Some will be super short, so don’t expect a novel every time you come here. These will be posted after my mentees have been given them, and will be done when I have a spare minute to do so.

Your first mission, should you choose to accept it: Beat Sheets.

I know not everyone likes them. I also know some people are plotters and some are pantsers, and those who are the latter get terrified at anything like this. And that’s totally okay. However, it means nothing to me in this stage.

You’ve already written the book in whatever fashion you preferred, whether you used a beat sheet or the snowflake method or a cocktail napkin. Regardless, now it’s time to see if that actually worked for you. Enter the beat sheet.

A very common problem in manuscripts is pacing. Every story needs to follow an arc. I am going to be only talking about romance novels, because that’s what I write and that’s what I mentor. If you write something else, google beat sheet. I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding one for your specific genre and category. For all you romance junkies, here’s the one I like to use from Jami Gold.

The reason I want my mentees to do this is so they can see in black and white where issues might be. Once you fill this out, adjusting it for your book specifications, you’ll be able to see if there’s an issue within your book. Your points (or beats) should fall within a 10-15 page range, I’d say. And if they don’t? There better be a damn good reason for it. I’m always a fan of breaking away from rules when warranted, but this is not one of those rules. 99% of romances follow these beats for a reason–it builds the right amount of tension for the characters and the readers. Of course, there are always exceptions to some of these beats (first kiss and first intimate encounter, specifically), but never on the conflict, black moment, and resolution. Or at least I have not read a successful example of it.

Another very simplified way to look at beats is: 25% for first kiss, 50% for first intimate encounter (I’m being so proper for you guys…), 75% for the beginning of the end, 90% for the black moment/all is lost, and then the resolution.

Once you’ve got those filled out based on your MS, you’ll be able to see what, if anything, needs changing and can adjust your MS accordingly. Let me know in the comments or on twitter if you accepted the challenge and what you learned!

Up tomorrow: I don’t know. Come back to find out.