Old Gems & New

Hey Everyone,

Happy Limbo Week… you know what I mean, the week between Christmas and New Years that makes you feel, well in limbo. The party is over, yet the next one is just days away. It’s hard to focus on anything new because you’re wrapping up all the old. It’s the best week ever, but also the worst!

So during limbo week I thought I’d focus on some of the old gems that made this site sparkle in 2015 and also some of the new ones that are planned for 2016…

This website and blog saw some changes this year. We shifted focus (especially in the Book Nook) from both middle grade books and YA, to simply middle grade. I thought the change was necessary because quite honestly, there aren’t enough hours in my day for me to read all the YA books that are amazing. I mean, sure I read YA, but it seems that by the time I read all those fabulous YA titles, the entire world has already read them first. So really then, why do readers need my YA recommendations anyway?

I have a better handle on middle grade books anyway (since middle grade is my life!) so that was the reason for the big shift. I’d like readers to be able to click on the tab and find some great titles they can check out and since I read middle grade all the time, turning the Book Nook into simple middle grade titles was a no brainer! I’ll admit sometimes I’m a little slow to update it though. I can see right now there are some titles that are listed as TBR that I read months ago! But, I’m working on it…

I also added some tools for tween writers—stuff that I think any young writer would love to use while writing their own creative gems.  Right now they’re in PDF format as a free download. Maybe one day I’ll turn them into something more concrete—like an actual print book or more possibly a downloadable app. Hmm…so many ideas so little time!

So what did you all think of the December Book Blast of middle grade books?? That was a first on the blog and I have to say it was, in fact, a blast! It was great for me to channel the books I love every day for 23 days, and encouraged me to seek out titles that I thought would appeal to the masses. But I did learn two things. There are WAY more than 23 books that are worth highlighting AND blogging every day (with mentions on both Twitter and Facebook) is way more work than I can handle. Have any of you ever tried blogging every day? If you have, I’m ultra impressed. It takes a lot of time! I hope you enjoyed the book related countdown to Christmas though. It was great fun for me. 🙂 To go back and read through the titles, click on the December Book Blast tab at the right, or click here.

Critique Corner saw some action at the beginning of 2015 and it was a big success—largely due to the bonus critiques from the lovely Mel Mercado, my writing crit partner and treasured friend. But interest has shifted, I think. Writers seem more reluctant to submit their beginning paragraphs for critique. I think that must mean that more and more of you are finding crit partners and groups and that is fantastic. I always say that finding the right people to critique your work is more valuable than all the rubies in the world! So I’ll keep you posted on the future of our in house critiques. I’m always open to hosting them if there is interest, so please keep the comments and emails coming. I love hearing your thoughts!

Speaking of hearing your thoughts, you may have noticed a new tab on the site that has a little something to do with my writing services. I’ll be posting separately about them but I will say this: The idea to offer them came directly as a result of your emails. I appreciate your questions about my work as a ghostwriter and requests for critiques.  I thought it was time I listened!  (More on that to come)

You may remember, I signed with my amazing literary agent, Rebecca Angus at the end of the summer. I consider that to be one of the most outstanding gems of my entire year! If you missed my agent announcement you can read it here. So now that I’m inching toward the 6 month mark of agent-dom, I thought you guys might be interested in hearing about what happens AFTER a writer signs with an agent and what it’s like to be out on submission. I know many writers have posted about this topic already, but each of our stories are different and I’d love to share mine. Hopefully I can help shed some light on the whole process.

Swirl and Spark saw a record number of views this year with a record number of readers. Seeing the readership grow means the world to me and is very humbling. That means that you think I have something worthwhile to offer here on the site. I’ll do my very best to keep doing it—and to do it even better in 2016!

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