Brighton Walsh, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author

Meet My Character Blog Tour

I was invited by one of the Bad Girlz to join in the Meet My Character Blog Tour. Since CAGED IN WINTER comes out in less than two months (eep!), I figured it was a good time to get to know Winter. Many thanks to Frances Fowlkes for the invitation!

After viewing her all-time favorite love story, “Anne of Green Gables”, at the impressionable age of ten, Frances Fowlkes has been obsessed with affable boy-next door heroes, red-heads, and romance stories with lots of “highfaluting mumbo jumbo” written within their pages. It only seems natural then that she married the boy who used to pull on her curls in her high school English class, had not one, but THREE red-headed boys, and penned multiple love stories with bits of flowery prose. 

Her first book, “The Duke’s Obsession”  came out May 2014 with the Scandalous Imprint of Entangled Publishing.

You can find out more at, or connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.


Meet My Character…

caged_revise_200x300ABOUT MY CHARACTER:
Winter Jacobson is a college student, exactly seventy-six days from graduation, with dreams of leaving behind the crappy hand she was dealt and starting over with a new life.

Present day Michigan.

Basically everything she’s ever known. She’s saddled with an enormous amount of emotional baggage, and she doesn’t want her choices to be reflective of the mother she hates.

A too-big guy who pushes his way in, attempting to crack her walls while threatening to give her everything she never thought she wanted.

Meet the authors who will be sharing their characters next week!

Jennifer Blackwood

Jen Blackwood author photoJennifer Blackwood is an English teacher and New Adult author. She lives in Oregon with her husband, son, and poorly behaved black lab puppy. Her debut novel, UNETHICAL, comes out in October with Entangled Embrace.

Twitter: @jen_blackwood
Facebook: AuthorJenniferBlackwood

Brenda St John Brown
Brenda St John Brown is a displaced New Yorker living in the UK. She started writing in an attempt to escape the long, bleak season that is winter in England, but July isn’t really much better, and thus a passion was born.

When she’s not writing, she’s an obsessive reader, runner and lover of Doritos. Brenda lives with her family, and their yellow Lab, Lucy, in the English countryside, which really is as beautiful as the pictures.


It’s Nearly Go Time!

pitch wars mentorIf you follow me on Twitter, you’ve no doubt seen my endless #PitchWars tweets the last several weeks. I’d say I’m sorry for flooding your feeds, but I’d be lying. I’ve so loved being involved with Pitch Wars, and, schedule permitting, I foresee doing it again next year.

That said, I didn’t think it’d be as difficult as it has been. Not just the time commitment–though it is extensive–but actually getting right down to it and choosing my mentee and alternate.

Being a first time mentor, I seriously thought I was going to get ten submissions (no hyperbole), and that if I got a whopping ten, I should consider myself lucky. I got nearly five times that much. And the quality of the submissions were outstanding, so it made my job even harder. In the end, though, I had to do something to narrow it down.

I’ll admit that picking my mentee was the easiest. I knew from the first paragraph in the query that I wanted to mentor her. And, yes, I licked that MS like a son of a bitch because I’m greedy like that and because I loved it so much.

My alt? That was a more difficult decision. I had six entries that I felt drawn to, in one way or another, and I really wish I could’ve worked with all of them. Alas, I haven’t figured out how to stop time, so that wasn’t going to happen. From six, I went down to three, then two, then one. But even narrowing it down to one, I waffled more than once on whom I was selecting for my alternate, that’s how close it was. In the end, I went with the MS that I thought I could help the most.

See, that’s the thing with submitting to mentors–we each have our own strengths and weaknesses that may or may not make us the right mentor for the submitted manuscripts. I had to take that into consideration when selecting my team. I also had to take into consideration the market and what the Pitch Wars agents are looking for. I was also really greedy and read several manuscripts strictly as a reader, even once I knew I wouldn’t be a good fit as a mentor (which, btw, is a totally good sign).

We’re now roughly five and a half hours away from the final announcement, and I know many (all?) of you are sitting on the edge of your seats, waiting for the news. But just know that even if you didn’t make it, you’ve made it. You wrote a book (yay!) and put it out there (yay!) with the intention of receiving feedback (yay!). That in and of itself is a huge accomplishment, and one you should be proud of.

I’ve already drafted all my pass e-mails. I know they’re going to be hard to receive. Putting your heart and soul out there for other people (four other people) to read and critique is hard. But I tried to offer constructive feedback to everyone if I felt it would help your MS. And whether or not you take the feedback given (that’s the beauty of this business…you totally don’t have to if you don’t feel it’s a fit for your book!), I hope you’ll take them in the spirit in which they were given: helping your MS become as good as it can, even if I can’t be with you every step of the way.


RWA Insanity

As I draft this, I’ve been home from RWA for just over 24 hours, and I’m still not recovered. That’s one of the things I wasn’t expecting last year, and even though I was expecting it this year, it didn’t lessen the effects. The utter exhaustion is no joke. RWA is a fun, amazing conference. It’s work, but it doesn’t feel like work. It’s workshops and meetings and lunches and pitches and signings and laughing and dancing and socializing. Not everyone will do all these things, of course, but probably some combination of them. And doing them? Is tiring. Doing them for four days straight will exhaust you. Doing them for four days straight in fabulous heels from 8am to 1am will flatten you.

And revitalize you, if all things go according to plan.



Last year, I did a very brief recap, mostly because I was so overwhelmed with what happened that I didn’t even know where to start. This year, mostly because I have no direction at all about what people want to hear about the conference, I’m going to post about the differences of attending in 2013 and then again in 2014.

In 2013, I’d just finished drafting CAGED IN WINTER and was planning to pitch it at the conference. In 2014, I wore my SOLD! ribbon on my badge, and only a week before the conference, I turned in my third novel to my editor. The differences a year can make are staggering–and hopefully encouraging for those of you who are in the pitching trenches now.

The Schedule
imageI’m a schedule girl. I like to plan. It makes me less frantic and helps me relax. (Shocker to know I’m a total plotter, huh?) Last year, RWA had the schedule up with a scheduling tool and you were able to pick and choose what workshops you wanted to attend in each time slot. My schedule was filled with workshops, and I went to a lot of them. (I actually wish I had numbers to compare, but, sadly, I don’t.) This year, RWA had this awesome app that let you see all of that–workshops in the designated time slot, events happening, etc–all in your mobile device. It also let you put in your own events/meetings you might have. It was a godsend, especially when plans get changed on the fly as they often do at RWA.

Last year, with the exception of the Harlequin party and the RITAs, my schedule was open. I had workshops I wanted to go to, of course, but nothing was concrete. Nothing that I had to do. This year, my schedule was 70% things I had to do, 30% open. Now, I suppose ‘had’ is a strong word, because, really, you don’t have to do anything at the conference. Your time is yours. But when your editors want to have dinner or lunch, you say yes. When one of your publishers invites you to an ‘authors only’ session, you go. When your publishers invite you to cocktail parties, even if there are three of them all on the same night, you show up to all looking super fly. When your publishers have signings, you swing by, if only briefly, to offer support to your fellow authors.

This year, I felt like I learned less, but not that I got anything less out of the conference. The things I took away were different, but equally important for my career. I got face-to-face time with both my editors. I got to meet people ranging from my publicist to people on the marketing teams to the actual publisher, and all those meetings were invaluable. I got to talk and mingle with authors I’ve admired for a long time and authors I’ve never met or read before, but now consider friends. So what’s my point on this one? Each year, your time will be spent differently based on where you are in your career. Differently does not mean you have an awesome schedule one year and a shitty schedule another. Differently means just that. Embrace it.

The Pitches

Last year when I went, I spent a majority of my conference worried about pitching. My editor and agent appointments were Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, so yeah. The majority of the time before that was spent wondering what it’d be like, worrying that I’d say the wrong thing (or vomit all over the editor/agent) and, oh yeah, actually writing my pitch. Several people, including my wonderful CP, as well as other random authors, all gave me pieces of advice that basically boiled down to: you’re going to be fine; don’t sweat it. Totally easier said than done.

But they were right. My first pitch was a clusterfuck. I mean, really. I talked so fast, I’m surprised the editor understood a word of what I said. But she requested the full, and I felt like I was flying. My next pitch went much smoother. We started out with small talk, and that naturally evolved into discussing my book. It came about organically, and I didn’t speed-talk once. That also resulted in a full request.

This year, I didn’t have any pitch appointments. Instead, I was the one offering advice to nervous writers, working up the courage to do their first pitches. And I gotta tell you, it was awesome to be able to offer a tiny bit of knowledge and encouragement. Pay it forward, since I had been on the receiving end of it last year.

The Signings

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Me and Jill Freakin’ Shalvis

Last year, I stalked the signings. After all, it was my (probably) first time meeting several authors I looked up to. I dutifully went to them, got starry-eyed, got lots of books signed, and smiled. This year, I was able to attend three, and two of those were simply me going in to support my friends. Only one was for me (and I left with only one signed book for myself, but it was JILL FREAKIN’ SHALVIS, come on!). While I wanted to go to signings, it just didn’t work in my schedule. I had to choose editor meetings or publisher meetings or workshops because I had so little time to attend them. Something had to give, and it was the signings. Next year, I’m hoping I don’t have as many meetings clashing with these, because I missed going to them. I missed getting to talk–if only for a minute–to the people I’ve looked up to, in many times, since I started this adventure.

The Meetings

Me and Jessica, my super fabulous awesome publicist at Berkley.

Me and Jessica, my super fabulous awesome publicist at Berkley.

You’re probably seeing a pattern by now as to what last year held for me versus this year. 2013’s RWA didn’t hold a single meeting for me. I wasn’t yet agented and hadn’t yet sold CAGED IN WINTER, so I didn’t yet have an editor to swoop me off to a dinner or lunch. I was published with Carina, but the editor for my novella wasn’t attending, so I didn’t have anything going there. This year, I had two different editors with two different publishers, both of whom I wanted to meet since I didn’t know when I’d get another chance. Are the meetings crucial to your career? No, of course not. But they gave me valuable time with both my editors that I wouldn’t exchange. There is something wonderful about sitting down face-to-face with someone and being able to put not just a face, but their inflections and body language and everything else you see in person, to their e-mails and phone calls.

The Workshops

Last year, my motto was: SOAK UP EVERYTHING YOU CAN. GO TO EVERYTHING! SEE EVERYTHING! DO ALL THE THINGS! And I got burnt out. Even more so than this year, which is saying something. But with how much I invested in the conference (and blindly invested as I was in the querying trenches without a sale), I wanted to get as much as I could out of it. I wanted to absorb any and everything people who knew more than I did wanted to teach me. So I went to workshops on craft, on marketing, on career. I went to everything that I thought would be pertinent to me at some point in the next twenty years.

This year, I narrowed that down a little. Partly because my time for workshops was so much less abundant, and partly because I wanted to focus. I thought about things I didn’t know all that well, things I wanted to know more about, and, most importantly, things I thought I’d use within the next year. Because neat thing about these conferences: there’s one every year. And where you are from year to year will change, even if subtly, as will the training you need.

The Parties

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Hotel bar meeting.

It’s a sad truth to say it, but last year’s parties took the cake for me. We had the lovely Georgia Romance Writers who threw the party on Thursday night, complete with a rockin’ DJ and a dance floor. Then there was the RITA after party Samhain threw on Saturday. We danced. We mingled. We made connections.

This year, none of that happened. Or if it did, I wasn’t lucky enough to get an invitation. 😉 Sadly, there was no after party for the RITAs, so we made our party happen in the hotel bar (as one does at RWA). I was still lucky enough to go to the Harlequin party both years, and both years it took the prize as Most Amazing Party Evah!

Harlequin Party!

And while I love to go and dance and have a good time, I really love spending time with my friends and fellow writers–some of whom I’m introduced to as we shake it on the dance floor–and talking with them. Having fun and letting our hair down. Writing is such a solitary career that it’s nice to get this time together once a year (or twice or however many times a year you head to a conference). Here’s hoping someone throws a couple parties next year to bring everyone together. Anyone wanna chip in five bucks?

The Socializing

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Fellow Bad Girlz Laura Trentham, Elizabeth Michels, & Jeanette Grey

Last year, I went knowing one person. One person whom I’d met IRL previously, and that was it. It was terrifying, and I’m an extrovert. But everyone is so friendly. I know people say that all the time, but it’s true. Everyone is eager to meet you, to hear your story, to get your card and connect with you on Twitter. I met a lot of people last  year. More than I realized, because this year when I went? I saw people I knew everywhere. I was waving and chatting and running off real quick because, oh! I see someone I know!

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Jeanette & Elizabeth having a super serious meeting.

The connections you forge at the conference will last much longer than Wednesday through Saturday. They’re going to carry over into the following week, month, year. They’re going to carry over into the next conference and the one after that, and they’re going to build on one another until you’re surrounded by friends. And not just friends but cheerleaders. Romance writers as a whole are so generous and giving–of their time, their advice, and their support. They want to see you succeed, and they want to be there cheering you on as you do.

And the really awesome thing about that is a lot of those connections start out as a glance in the bathroom mirror, commiserating over painful shoes, or worrying about pitching, or striking up a conversation as you wait ten minutes for an elevator. The connections are there to be made, and they’re powerful. Don’t go to a conference with the sole intent to work, work, work. Some of the most important work we do is in forging friendships with fellow writers.

Because next year when you go, won’t it be nice to see more than one familiar face?



My Writing Process: Blog Tour

First and foremost, a special thank you to Liza Wiemer, whom I just had the pleasure of meeting in person last weekend, for tagging me in this blog tour!  You can find Liza’s post here.


Liza Wiemer’s YA debut HELLO? is about five Wisconsin small town teens, whose lives intertwine when a grieving girl calls her dead grandmother’s old phone number. In an innovative use of free verse poetry, screenplay format, narration, and drawings, five narrators tell a story of hope, friendship, and redemption, to Patricia Riley at Spencer Hill Contemporary, by Stuart Krichevsky of Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency.

Find Liza on:
Author Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram |WhoRuBlog – book reviews, author interviews, giveaways

Liza has had two adult non-fiction novels published,  A graduate of UW-Madison, Liza is a Badger fan and a die-hard Packer fan! To learn more about Liza, check out Liza’s “About” page.

And now…for me!
My Writing Process 


I just turned in CAPTIVE, the New Adult for St. Martin’s Press, last week, so I took a few days (four) to not do anything. And it was glorious. Today, I’ll be diving back into the second book in the Caged in Winter series, and I cannot wait to get back to those characters. It’s a much lighter tone than CAPTIVE was, so it will be nice to switch gears.


I think this probably boils down mostly to voice. You can give two authors the same prompt to write about, and you’re going to get two completely different stories. As an author, I bring me to my books–my experiences, my preferences, etc–and I think that makes a world of difference.


The simple answer is because I love love. I love reading about it and I love writing about it and I love living it. As far as why I chose contemporary romance over paranormal or historical, etc, I like writing something that readers, hopefully, could see happening to themselves. And it just makes me happy.



I tend to write in floods. When the words are flowing, they are really flowing. CAPTIVE was a tough one for me (or it felt like it), which took about three months to draft. Especially when compared to CAGED IN WINTER, which took 31 days to draft. But I approached these two different ways, and it helped me learn a few things about me and how I work best (and most productively):

1. I need to outline. Extensively. I am not a pantser. At all. I outline the shit out of the book. Initially, I like to outline to about the half way point, then write write write and reassess when I get closer. Sometimes the outline consists of a line or two per scene, sometimes it’s a bit of dialog, sometimes half of the scene will come to me and I’ll write until I get it down. (fun fact: I write my outlines and scene snippets in third person, even if the novel is written in first person.) 

My outline may change (probably will change, at least a little), but if I don’t have a specific direction to go, I stare at a blank doc while my mind plays Choose Your Adventure with my novel, going every possible direction and never actually settling on one. 

If I get stuck during my outline process (or at any point in the book), I have people I talk it out with–my beta readers, my critique partner (CP) or my Plot Whisperer™ , who are all super fabulous and keep me from losing my mind while I’m drafting (well, every day, if I’m being honest).

2. The more I know my characters, the easier the book is to write. The way I get to know my characters is by doing a character questionnaire. I have three different ones that I use (one of these times, I’ll compile them all into one master one and get rid of the duplicate questions), and by the end of it, I have several thousand words in my character’s voice about who they are. This helps me really get a feel for their personality, and it sometimes also gives me direction within the story. I blogged about how I do this a few months ago over on Adventures of a Book Junkie, if that sort of thing turns your crank.

3. I write best on a tight deadline. If there is no end, no due date, I’ll let that shit drag on infinitely. This is why the NaNos (National Novel Writing Month and all the spin-offs) have been so effective for me. I have goals! And cheerleaders! And fellow writers doing the same thing! I also learned that November, like I suspected, is not the ideal time for this. NaNo was a fail. I rocked the shit out of JuNo, though.

Once those things are met, I’ll (hopefully) come out on the other side with a completed manuscript. Then (hopefully again) I go through edits–how extensive the edits are depend on how much time I have until the due date. Ideally, I look at content, flow, arcs, etc, but I also look at grammar, punctuation, garbage words, duplicate phrasing, etc. And then (even more hopefully) I’ll have time to send it to my beta readers and my critique partner, get feedback from them, and implement the suggestions that resonate with me. 

From there, it depends on what the book is for. If it’s already been sold, it goes to my agent and my editor. If it hasn’t, straight to my agent for feedback, then I dive in for edits, if need be. 

Then, of course, there are publisher edits (content and copy), where you read over your manuscript approximately twelve thousand times, want to burn it all twelve thousand of those before you eventually love it again, just in time for it to be published!

So that’s me and my writing process. That…took a lot longer to describe than I thought it would. I didn’t realize how detailed it was until I actually tried to write this out. Writing processes are as different for everyone as stories there are to tell. Follow the rest of the tour and see how everyone else does it!

Next on the Tour:


Megan Erickson grew up in a family that averages 5’4” on a good day and started writing to create characters who could reach the top kitchen shelf.

She’s got a couple of tattoos, has a thing for gladiators and has been called a crazy cat lady. After working as a journalist for years, she decided she liked creating her own endings better and switched back to fiction.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. And no, she still can’t reach the stupid top shelf.

Her debut New Adult novel, MAKE IT COUNT, will be published June 3, 2014, from William Morrow/HarperCollins. She is represented by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

Find Megan here:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Jeanette Grey started out with degrees in physics and painting, which she dutifully applied to stunted careers in teaching, technical support, and advertising. When none of that panned out, she started writing. In her spare time, Jeanette enjoys making pottery, playing board games, and spending time with her husband and her pet frog. She lives, loves, and writes in upstate New York.

Find Jeanette here:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Blog

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Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls-next-door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Emotion, vibrant settings, and strong families are a staple in each of her books…and kissing. Lots of kissing. A Cajun cowgirl now living in Houston, she firmly believes life’s problems can be solved with a hot, sugar-coated beignet or a thick slice of king cake, and that screaming at strangers for cheap, plastic beads is acceptable behavior in certain situations. She homeschools her two beautiful girls and watches way too much Food Network with her amazing husband. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romances, and LOVES talking with readers!

Find Rachel here:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads 


Make Mondays Suck Less: Boy Nobody Edition

Well, would ya look at that. It’s Monday and I’m here again for another edition of Make Mondays Suck Less. I don’t know if it’s working, but free books always put me in a happy place.

Last week’s winner of the signed hardcover of Pushing the Limits was Amanda! Wahoo! 

I have been doing everything and, yet, it feels like nothing. Still working on my upcoming new adult CAPTIVE, and I’m trucking along after fleshing out a different ending. Deadline on that is fast approaching, so I have a feeling I’m going to be burning the midnight oil a few days.

When I haven’t been doing that, I’ve been knee deep in planning a trip to Disney World. Yessssssss! Not the first time I’ve gone, but the last time I went, I was seven months pregnant. And it was August. So, looking forward to the trip not sucking this time. I’ve been hopping around all over Pinterest, reading everything I can about dining, packing, tips and tricks, etc, etc, to make sure we make the most out of the trip. We’re also taking a little detour to Universal Studios because my little bookworm would be bereft if we didn’t make it to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 

If you have any tips or tricks to pass along, I would love you forever and sprinkle you with fairy dust and give you a million internet points. So.

I’ve also been e-mailing back and forth with my web designer and we are getting closer and closer to a design for my brand spankin’ new site. I’m so excited for it; I can’t wait to share!

Now for free stuff. This week’s giveaway is an ARC of Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff. 

Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school, in a new town, under a new name, makes few friends and doesn’t stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend’s family to die — of “natural causes.” Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, and moves on to the next target.

When his own parents died of not-so-natural causes at the age of eleven, Boy Nobody found himself under the control of The Program, a shadowy government organization that uses brainwashed kids as counter-espionage operatives. But somewhere, deep inside Boy Nobody, is somebody: the boy he once was, the boy who wants normal things (like a real home, his parents back), a boy who wants out. And he just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program’s next mission.

You know what to do! See you next week.