Brighton Walsh, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author

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!


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.


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 


When It Rains, It Pours…

2013 has been awesome. I mean…really, truly awesome. Finishing CAGED IN WINTER in June–the goal I’d set for myself. Going to RWA and hanging out with amazing people. I danced next to Nora Roberts, for crying out loud. Getting an agent. Getting my first print deal. Having another novella, SEASON OF SECOND CHANCES, come out (which dropped last week, btw…that’s how CRAZY BUSY it’s been because I didn’t even post about it). 

See what I mean? Awesome. So much so that I’m thinking, it can’t possibly get better, can it? Surely I’ve reached my awesome quota for the year.


I am so, so thrilled to be working on this project with Rose at St. Martin’s. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before, and I’m so excited to share it with you!

What’s this mean? Well, it means 2014 is gonna be a busy year. Like…I really hope I remember to, you know, shower and stuff. So I’ll apologize ahead of time for my scarce blog posts.

Because I’m so super excited, I’m giving away some books! Five winners will receive both PLUS ONE and my latest release SEASON OF SECOND CHANCES. And another five will get a copy of the holiday anthology SoSC was in, ALL I’M ASKING FOR. That’s ten winners, baby! You know what to do…