Monday, March 30, 2015


Against Her Will is a YA novel about teens battling their inner demons in a psych ward and not all of them will win.

I'm excited to be on a YA panel and signing books at the Viridian events center on April 10th. Come see me!

The book will be launched at Teen Author Boot Camp to nearly 700 teens and authors with prizes and a book signing! It will be a blast!

The concept of Against Her Will came from the experiences of co-author, Serita Stevens, who has worked in a teen psych ward for many years. It was interesting and fun to develop the characters based on some actual patients she has known and put them together into a story-line and plot that will hopefully show the emotional journeys of teens who struggle with mental illness and other challenges.

 I feel strongly about mental health and also bullying—which is a big problem in society today. Both issues can be misunderstood and affect lives so dramatically that it is always good to have more ways to discuss and examine them. We have a long way to go as a culture, to not stigmatize those who struggle with mental illness and to allow an open conversation without shame attached. Shaming is just a form of bullying and it never helped anyone.
When the opportunity came to work with Serita last year, I was eager to explore these topics and help to develop a story addressing some of these issues, embedding themes of hope and empowerment. Kindness to others and to oneself can go a long way to help in the coping and recovery process, no matter what a person has been through or what their struggle may be. 
Be a hugger not a hater.

(To read more on my views about bullying and the dire effect it can have on the mental health of young people click HERE.)

Against Her Will is AVAILABLE on AMAZON in paperback or kindle!

"A heartbreaking and beautiful combination of suffering and empowerment no one should miss out on."

“A compelling glimpse of life inside the teenage mind, AGAINST HER WILL, was a fascinating train wreck I couldn't look away from and read in one sitting.”

--Elana Johnson, Author, the Possession series (Simon Pulse) 


My name is Cassidy Connor and my parents hate me. Well, they can go to hell. After yet another fight with my manipulative lawyer father and bible thumping mother, I disappear onto Hollywood Blvd among the other street kids. Or so I thought. The cops pick me up for a BS crime I didn't commit, and Dad announces the only way I can avoid charges is to voluntarily admit myself into Oak Dale, a psych ward for crazy teens. I don't belong there -- my parents are the real nutjobs --but it's not like I have a choice.

At Oak Dale, everyone is going on about the kid who just killed himself trying to escape. How could they dump me in a place like this? I'm thrown in with my anorexic roommate, Erin; foster care system victim, Gina; and pyromaniac Tony. Guess he likes to light 'em up. All of us are unwanted baggage, here against our will.

I quickly learn only the strong survive Oak Dale -- and some of us won't make it out alive.





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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Against Her Will reviewed by Elana Johnson

On March 30th, Against Her Will releases and then the launch party will take place at Teen Author Boot Camp! I'm excited to share this book with the hundreds of teen who will be there--this year our registration numbers are the highest they have ever been. The book brings up important topics such as bullying and how ultimately their own decisions affect their lives more than the decisions of others. It also holds the message that life can be hard and people can treat you bad, but we each get to choose who we'll be and how we let our struggles define us.

Elana Johnson, author and friend, agreed to read the book and blurb it for me! I snagged the review she wrote on her blog and am posting it here. 

“A compelling glimpse of life inside the teenage mind, AGAINST HER WILL, was a fascinating train wreck I couldn't look away from and read in one sitting.”
--Elana Johnson, Author, the Possession series (Simon Pulse) 

About AGAINST HER WILL: My name is Cassidy Connor and my parents hate me. Well, they can go to hell. After yet another fight with my manipulative lawyer father and bible thumping mother, I disappear onto Hollywood Blvd among the other street kids. Or so I thought. The cops pick me up for a BS crime I didn't commit, and Dad announces the only way I can avoid charges is to voluntarily admit myself into Oak Dale, a psych ward for crazy teens. I don't belong there -- my parents are the real nutjobs --but it's not like I have a choice.

At Oak Dale, everyone is going on about the kid who just killed himself trying to escape. How could they dump me in a place like this? I'm thrown in with my anorexic roommate, Erin; foster care system victim, Gina; and pyromaniac Tony. Guess he likes to light 'em up. All of us are unwanted baggage, here against our will. 

I quickly learn only the strong survive Oak Dale -- and some of us won't make it out alive.


"I absolutely loved this book in a sort of love-hate way. I couldn't stop reading it, and I wanted to yell at the characters. Things like, "No! Don't do that!" Or "Please eat something." Or "This is a bad idea..." Or "Tell someone! Tell someone!" 

AGAINST HER WILL is an emotionally powerful book -- I called it a train wreck I couldn't look away from. It stuck with me long after I finished it, and I find myself still thinking about it from time to time. 

I think the reason it impacted me so much is because it is the polar opposite of my experiences as a teenager. Cassidy's story opened my eyes to things I knew about, but didn't really KNOW about, if that makes sense. It is a fantastic read for anyone -- if you relate to Cassidy's story, if you don't, and anywhere in between.

AGAINST HER WILL doesn't come out until March 30, but you should pre-order it now so you can devour it then." -Elana Johnson

Monday, February 9, 2015

Elana Johnson's ELEMENTAL series cover reveal!

As a writer and literary agent, there are some writers I read because I love what they write and others I read because I love who they are. With my friend, Elana Johnson, it's both! She's so freaking awesome in every way!

 I'm so excited about Elana's new  YA/NA futuristic fantasy series, which includes Elemental RushElemental Hunger, and Elemental Release.

About ELEMENTAL RUSH: Eighteen-year-old Adam Gillman has trained for twelve years to earn a coveted spot on the Supreme Elemental’s elite sentry squad. His brother, Felix, is the commander, but Adam is still thrilled when his official assignment to serve Alexander Pederson comes.

He moves into nicer quarters and can stop getting up at four a.m. to complete his mandated work out time. He still rises early though, because he needs the solitude of early morning to practice his airmaking Element—something that Adam has kept secret from everyone, even Felix, because he can’t be both an Airmaker and a sentry.

When Alex assigns him to kill a group of rogue Elementals, he balks at completing his mission for the first time. See, his only friend is Isaiah Hawking, and he’s the Earthmover on the accused Council. When faced with the prospect of killing him, Adam finds he can’t do it.

He’s well trained in assassination, but he thought he’d be murdering bad guys—not innocents.

When Alex buries the Elemental Academy—and kills over one thousand Elementals—in a fit of rage, Adam’s loyalty cracks. When he discovers that Alex is really a woman, and his brother’s lover, he defects. He hops from city to city, from Elemental school to Elemental school, always escaping only minutes before Felix can embed a knife in his heart or a tsunami can make a classroom his watery grave.

He tries to fight back, but he’s just one Airmaster with exceptional tracking skills. He does his best to warn those in danger, but as the last Elemental school goes up in flames, he knows he needs to get some real firepower on his side.

ELEMENTAL RUSH is a prequel novella to the full-length futuristic fantasy novel, ELEMENTAL HUNGER.

Buy Links:

About ELEMENTAL HUNGER: The second installment in the Elemental series, a new futuristic fantasy for young adults and new adults from acclaimed author Elana Johnson, ELEMENTAL HUNGER is a full-length novel that continues the story that began in ELEMENTAL RUSH, an Elemental novella.

Sixteen-year-old Gabriella Kilpatrick can shoot fire from her hands, which would be great if she didn’t get blamed for a blazing inferno that kills 17 schoolmates. When Gabby is commanded to Manifest her Element, everyone knows what she is: a genetic abnormality. Not to mention guilty.

So she does two logical things to survive.
1. She runs.
2. She hacks off her hair to assume a new role—that of “Gabe”, because in her world, only boys are Firemakers.

Not only does she have to act like a guy, she has to pretend to know everything a Firemaker should know. When Gabby meets Airmaster Adam Gillman, he believes her act and pledges to serve on “Gabe’s” Council. But Adam has the mark of a sentry and spent years obeying Alex, the Supreme Elemental. And Alex wants Gabby-the-genetic-freak dead and gone before she can gather the magical protection of a full Council.

With Adam’s lies that sound like truths and rumors that Alex isn’t really a Firemaker—or a man—Gabby sets out to charter a Council of her own. In order to uncover the truth, Gabby will have to learn who she can trust, how to control her own power, and most of all, how to lead a Council of Elementals, most of whom have more control over their power than she does. If she can’t, she’ll find herself just like those 17 schoolmates: burned and six feet under.

Look for the third and final installment, ELEMENTAL RELEASE, the final Elemental novella.

Buy Links:

About ELEMENTAL RELEASE: Two months after returning to the capital city of Tarpulin with a Council of his own, Airmaster Adam Gillman is ready to start repairing the relationships in his life. Up first: his Councilman and the girl he’d like to be more than friends with, Gabriella Kilpatrick.

But first, he has to figure out how to be the Airmaster his Firemaker needs. In order to do that, Adam attends Elemental training and discovers that to truly command the air, he must first be in control of his emotions. And in order to master those, he has to grieve for the loss of Hanai, make amends with his brother, and earn the trust of Gabby.

Amidst all that, Adam must also learn how to grapple with the jet stream, because a dangerous Airmaster is loose in Tarpulin. And Adam will need to find his emotional center in order to work with the atmosphere and defeat the threat.

Buy Links:

About Elana Johnson: Elana Johnson’s work, including Possession, Surrender, Abandon, and Regret, published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), is available now everywhere books are sold. Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available for download, as well as a Possession short story, Resist

Her self-published novels include two YA contemporary novels-in-verse, Elevated and Something About Love, as well as a YA/NA futuristic fantasy series, which includes Elemental Rush, Elemental Hunger, and Elemental Release.

School teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog or Twitter. She also co-founded the Query Tracker blog and WriteOnCon, and contributes to the League of Extraordinary Writers.

Social Media Links:
League of Extraordinary Writers:

Win $10 for helping to spread the word about the new ELEMENTAL series covers! 

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Healthy Chewy Chocolate Cookies

I like to eat healthy, whole foods. I eat organic as much as possible too. I've seen a marked improvement in my health and weight since I made the switch over a decade ago.
A lot of people wonder how I can stand giving up refined sugars and flours. It is not that hard once you detox and replace them with yummy, healthy alternatives.
I've had many people ask me about recipes. So here is a favorite.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

1 ½ Cubes Butter
½ Cup brown rice syrup
1 Cup coconut sugar (if needed add a little agave for more sweetness)
1 egg
Beat that together and then add and mix:
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
Then melt together:
 Another cube of butter with ½ C healthy chocolate chips of your choice
Mix ¾ Cup of cocoa powder with the melted mix
Stir all ingredients together and then add:
1 Cup almond flour
2 Cups rye or whole wheat flour
Add chocolate chips and chopped nuts if desired.

Bake for 7 or 8 minutes at 350 degrees—let cookies be a little under baked. Let cool.


Friday, January 2, 2015

Against Her Will and the anatomy of a bully

My YA novel, Against Her Will, is being published at the end of March. The publisher has made it available for pre-order on Amazon now! An official launch and book signing will happen at Teen Author Boot Camp on April 11th. The story follows the struggles of teens in a psych ward who battle their inner demons in a place where not everything that happens is for their own good.

Co-author, Serita Stevens, is a nurse in a facility where she witnessed the sometimes horrific outcome of young people who have been the victims of mistreatment. The book has strong themes about bullying and the dire consequences it can have.

Bullying has become a universal issue. Recently, I've had to deal with my own young, special needs son being bullied at school. The affects of bullying can be heartbreaking and sometimes quite serious. Studies have connected bullying to the rise in youth suicides.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC.

But bullying doesn't only affect young people, it's a problem with adults as well. Most of us have been bullied at some point or other. Whether it  be by the kids at school, our peers, a parent, a boss, or even a spouse or the person we're dating, bullying hurts.

Bullying on a grand scale takes the form of a benign or aggressive dictator, ruling in fear and with supreme control. I recently watched a documentary on North Korea that made me ill. The way the people scrape and bow and cry with "gratitude" when speaking of their beloved oppressor is disturbing. They clearly fear his disapproval and the consequences of his displeasure to the point  that they pray to him and pour on the worship. It's chilling to see.

On a smaller scale, bullying takes many forms from: stonewalling, withholding affection and approval to criticizing, demeaning and physical aggression. Almost always its about control and manipulation. A lot of people  find themselves ensnared in an abusive relationship without realizing they are being bullied, because a bully isn't just the scary kid at school who beats you up for your lunch money or the mean popular girl who publicly shames you for wearing last years' fashions. Bullies can be in a position of trust, a person whom we should be able to count on for fair treatment or loyalty.

Some bullies are hard to pinpoint because they are sooo nice and have done so many things for their victim, as is often the case of an abusive parent. Beware of a person if their sticky sweetness becomes, harsh and punitive when you fail to meet the needs or expectation of the bully. No matter who the bully may be in your life, you can choose to say "No". When they threaten and demean you, or try to scare you into compliance--no carrot they dangle or consequence they may bring down on you is reason to allow the continued damage to your core self.

In researching bullying and abuser behavior these personality traits and behaviors were mentioned over and over:

Quick/intense attachment
Insincerity (their compliments come at times when they want something or just feel wrong and forced)
Jealousy (threatened by success of others, resentful of your other relationships etc)
Negative thinking (assuming worst, harsh judgement of others, mean gossip, poor sportsmanship etc.)
Controlling Behavior (everything from who your friends are, what you're allowed to say or the micromanaging of a tyrant boss)
Unrealistic expectations (you'd better not mess up ever!)
Isolation (want you to themselves, resent other people or things in your life that may take precedence)
Blame-shifting for their problems
Blame-shifting for their feelings
Hypersensitivity (constantly ready to bite your head off for mostly imagined offense)
Cruelty or Disregard for people of no use to them (children or people without enough power or connection)
Verbal Abuse (shaming, criticizing, blaming, accusing, threats, blackmailing, name calling, sabotage of the reputation of others etc.)
Jekyll and Hyde behavior and mood swings
History of substance abuse
History of unstable interpersonal relationships (repeated dating/marriage disasters, no long term friendships/relationships or  only very few close family)

Not all of these have to be true to mean you have a bully or abuser in your life. If you now wonder if you are being bullied or are in an abusive relationship, consider these points: A bully wants you to kiss their rear, obey them without challenge,they want  you to question your own worthiness, they want to feed your paranoia that you deserve what you get and everyone thinks badly of you (This is possibly most apparent in abusive relationships where a partner tries to convince you that you are nothing without them and nobody else could ever see any value in you).  "You're lucky I put up with you," is not something somebody who is loving and trustworthy says.Disagreements and arguments are normal parts of life but an abuser will yell, scream and hurl stinging remarks and even if they don't raise their voice their words will be mean and punishing rather than an attempt to find agreement and understanding. And a bully can rarely apologize, but when they do it is an insincere manipulation because they want something or fear losing control.

If there is somebody in your life who is toxic in this way, reach out for the support of good friends and get help if you need it. Get out while you can. Leave that person behind with a heart full of forgiveness and equity. If it is a family member or somebody you cannot cut loose for some other reason, draw strong boundaries and do not give power to the bully. Let them throw a tantrum but hold your head high. Their behavior  is not your responsibility.

On the other hand... if you read this and are self aware enough to see yourself in the list, you might want to get some help so you don't burn all of your bridges and continue in an unhappy pattern that will only bring a stormy life and ultimately end in loneliness. It's really no way to live to wonder why all your relationships go bad and wondering if you can ever be loved for who you are. Because in the end, a bully is always somebody who feels worthless. You aren't worthless. You can find happiness another way besides owning and controlling other people. You''ll never find true love that way.

Wise teachers in all cultures agree that real love is: Patient, kind, not envious, not prideful, doesn't put itself first, is not easily provoked or offended, does not think evil and negatively, is full of hope. This is something worth fighting for--both to have and to give.

Despite the heavier themes in Against Her Will, the prevailing message is that of hope. There is hope for the oppressed and even the oppressor. When people own their life and decide to live consciously no matter what anyone else does, they will become empowered. I believe in the healing power of real love, humility and forgiveness. In the end, our will is something nobody can truly control but us.

As wisely and beautifully said by Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms ... to choose one’s own way...The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” 
― Viktor E. Frankl

CLICK HERE to order Against Her Will.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

How the real SpongeBob helped my family at a difficult time...

This is a repost of my article on The Rogue.

Pop culture often gets a bad rap, especially from those styling themselves as intellectuals and “real artists”.  Some argue that it dulls the senses, doesn’t encourage “higher thoughts” and deadens the cultural tastes.  A few critics would go further to say it poisons our minds. They are right in some ways. Popular culture wields a lot of power in defining the music, food, fashions and even the way we talk to others.

There is no doubt that pop culture is a giant menu and we get to pick what we consume. What we choose on that menu says a lot about who we are and what we want. What we want often changes with circumstances in our lives. Some days, we want a deep, reflective art film. Other days, we would rather watch a mindless comedy. While it’s important to nourish our brains and souls, sometimes we want something light. At times that’s all we can take when life gets too heavy.

When my third son came along, nothing was normal. He entered this life through an emergency C-section and nothing has been easy since. Jack was born with multiple birth defects including an open palate. This meant I couldn’t just take him home. I couldn’t hold my baby and feed him as I did with his older brothers. He spent the Holidays in the NICU hooked up to blinking machines. He should have been home with his family and the twinkling Christmas lights on our tree.

When I could finally bring him home there were monitors and an oxygen tank. Every two hours, day and night, I would use a breast pump. We’d push a tube through little Jack’s nose and into his stomach for feedings. During this time of no sleep, recovering from my surgery and heartbreak I wrestled to come to terms with the immensity of the truth. My child was not “normal”. He would not have an easy life. How do I help this tiny boy? What would his life be like? What would mine be like now? I didn’t know what to do.

I mourned and I prayed. I researched his condition. I couldn’t take it with my aching heart and on so little sleep.  Most of the time, I forced myself to eat more than Jello so that Jack would get the nutrients he needed to live. However, when it came to my pop culture buffet, I loaded up on everything that arty types say is not nourishing. Buffy and Alias were comfort food for the soul.

During the long hours of pumping and feedings,  I escaped into all five seasons of Alias and all the Buffy episodes I could get my hands on. It passed the time and it transported me into the lives of strong women who faced life and death, disappointment and betrayal, setbacks, sorrow and ultimately triumph. Sure, it was cheesy stuff and not exactly intellectually stimulating. However,  it truly helped as much as the medication I took to numb the pain and it also gave me hope.

Time went on. Jack needed constant special care. He grew and developed slowly. Jack’s life was punctuated by frequent doctor visits and discomfort. At a year old, he weighed only eleven pounds. Then there were several surgeries (with more to come).

Through this difficult time his personality emerged. Despite everything, he became a sunny, silly boy. His very favorite thing to watch on TV was SpongeBob SquarePants. Many parents I know find that cartoon annoying and off putting. We love it because it made Jack happy. He would smile and laugh at every episode. When he could finally speak, his first sentences came from the show. While In the hospital for surgeries,  Jack liked to have his SpongeBob blanket and doll. It brought him comfort and grounded him with its familiar, cheery yellowness.

SpongeBob is a pop culture icon. The cultural references and satirical characters tell us something about who we are. The archtypes are familiar ones: Squidward the pessimist, Mr. Krabs the greedy boss, Patrick the fool, Plankton the megalomaniac, among others.
However, I love how the star of the show, SpongeBob, is the most irrepressible optimist on TV, perhaps only rivaled by Leslie Knope of Parks and Rec. And that optimistic sponge, who finds fun in everything (and lessons) during hard times, is the character my struggling little boy identified with at a time when pain seemed to be the only thing he knew.

A couple of years ago, after his most recent surgery, we received a very special surprise. My uncle, comedian Mike Guido, is friends with Tom Kenny. Tom is the very talented actor who does the voice of SpongeBob. Mike told him about Jack and how he is a big fan of the show. Tom sent us a personalized voice recording as SpongeBob just for Jack. When we played it for Jack post-surgery he was the happiest little patient on the planet. He smiled and laughed and made us all listen to it over and over. It made me cry. To this day Jack enjoys listening to it and quoting it and it always warms my heart. (Listen to hear his message in the video above.)

When I thanked Tom he said, “I was happy to do that for Jack. Being able to do things like that is one of the perks of my job that I treasure. Sounds corny, but it’s true. In addition to the fun job, hopefully I get to make people who are dealing with challenges smile for a minute or two.”
Tom Kenny’s job is grounded in popular culture. It’s his vehicle for reaching out to others. And the way those messages and feelings are received is inextricably linked to the mode of communication that we call Pop Culture. Because that’s what it is. All commerce, everything that’s for sale, is an expression of wants and needs. Pop culture is a business that provides those things, both positive and negative. But it’s also the language we speak, how we express ourselves and communicate as a culture. Pop culture is the embodiment of our common ground and voice.

We should celebrate the good and examine the bad in our popular culture. It’s up to each of us to choose responsibly from that big cultural buffet. To quote the yellow sponge himself, “Let go of what kills you and hold on to what keeps you breathing.”

Thank you, Tom Kenny.

Monday, October 6, 2014

REMAKE by Ilima Todd

Imagine a future without family. A new YA novel from a debut author.
Nine is the ninth female born in her batch of ten females and ten males. By design, her life in Freedom Province is without complications or consequences. However, such freedom comes with a price. The Prime Maker is determined to keep that price a secret from the new batches of citizens that are born, nurtured, and raised androgynously.
But Nine isn’t like every other batcher. She harbors indecision and worries about her upcoming Remake Day—her seventeenth birthday, the age when batchers fly to the Remake facility and have the freedom to choose who and what they’ll be.
When Nine discovers the truth about life outside of Freedom Province, including the secret plan of the Prime Maker, she is pulled between two worlds and two lives. Her decisions will test her courage, her heart, and her beliefs. Who can she trust? Who does she love? And most importantly, who will she decide to be?
Ilima met with me the other day and loaned me an advance reader's copy of her novel. Once I started reading it, I was hooked. Not only was the story a fresh twist on the genre and the characters engaging, it made me think about how the social issues in the book relate to our own society. I considered my own views on what freedom truly is and what makes a person free. 
The story also made me examine the complex layers that our culture wraps around the authentic self. Do we over-complicate identity? What makes us who we truly are? Do we define ourselves according to the dictates of trend? And if so... isn't that the opposite of freedom? It also reconfirmed how much I value my family. The joy of being a part of a family and of being a mom is very important to me. What if those freedoms were taken away?
The main character, Nine, is brave but also tender and vulnerable. Torn by so many decisions and conflicting feelings makes her relatable to not only teens but anyone struggling to define themselves within the noise of culture and what is considered normal and acceptable. Her quest to see past all of that to find her inner truth is one that makes her both sympathetic and heroic.
With some great world building, memorable characters, adventure, self examination and some romance, REMAKE is a worthwhile YA read with heart that is both fun and compelling. I'm so ready for the sequel.
Writers Cubed is excited to have Ilima Todd as one of our Drill Sergeants for Teen Author Boot Camp 2015 this coming April. So, read her book and then come and meet her at TABC!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Jessica Bell's, WHITE LADY, contest!


To celebrate the release of Jessica Bell's latest novel, WHITE LADY, she is giving away an e-copy (mobi, ePub, or PDF) to the first person to correctly guess the one true statement in the three statements below. To clarify, two statements are lies, and one is true:

Jessica Bell’s mother was born in ...
a. Germany
b. Australia
c. Greece

What do you think? Which one is true? Write your guess in the comments, along with your email address. Comments will close in 48 hours. If no-one guesses correctly within in 48 hours, comments will stay open until someone does.

Want more chances to win? You have until October 31 to visit all the blogs where Jessica will share a different set of true and false statements on each one. Remember, each blog is open to comments for 48 hours only from the time of posting.

If you win, you will be notified by email with instructions on how to download the book.

Click HERE to see the list of blogs.


*This novel contains coarse language, violence, and sexual themes.

Sonia yearns for sharp objects and blood. But now that she's rehabilitating herself as a "normal" mother and mathematics teacher, it's time to stop dreaming about slicing people's throats.

While being the wife of Melbourne's leading drug lord and simultaneously dating his best mate is not ideal, she's determined to make it work.

It does work. Until Mia, her lover's daughter, starts exchanging saliva with her son, Mick. They plan to commit a crime behind Sonia's back. It isn't long before she finds out and gets involved to protect them.

But is protecting the kids really Sonia's motive?

Click HERE to view the book trailer.
Click HERE for purchase links.

Jessica Bell, a thirty-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, is the Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and the director of the Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca. She makes a living as a writer/editor for English Language Teaching Publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, MacMillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

Connect with Jessica online:

Monday, September 8, 2014

SLC Comic Con

Comic Con in Salt Lake City was beyond epic this year! Writers Cubed set up a table for Teen Author Boot Camp to advertise our next event on April 11th 2015! We are excited to announce that our keynote will be Brandon Sanderson!

We also launched our new book club CubeReads: Book club in a box. Subscribe to get our monthly book recommendations and book club hosting ideas. Check it out!

There was so much to do and see there! The celebrity guest list was huge and impressive. The fans in costume were fabulous to gawk at. I had a great time hanging out with my author friends and interacting with our boot-campers.

Authors Tyler Jolley and Renee Collins showing our swag!
It was fun to be involved on three different panels at Comic Con with some really great people. The fans are so enthusiastic and the atmosphere totally buzzes with synergy.
Me and J. Scott Savage

My first panel, Dealing With Rejection: An Artist and Creator Survival Guide, included my good friend,  J. Scott Savage.

After that I got to be on a panel, Making Your Female Character Strong Without Turning Her Into a Fighting Machine, with my good friend and fellow Cubie, Jennifer Jenkins. 

My last panel was my favorite! The Whedonverse: Why Writers and Creators Love Buffy, Angel, Firefly and the Rest. A couple of my author friends, Sara B. Larson and Bree Despain were on that panel with me and I think I love them even more because they love Buffy. =)
Sara B. Larson and Bree Despain with me, talking Joss Whedon!

I'm totally excited to participate in next year's Con. It is just too much fun! Shenanigans and hi-jinks with some of the most talented and enjoyable people I know!
Author Natalie Whipple, me and Sara B. Larson

My pals Tyler and Connie Whitesides

Cubie Margie Jordan, authors Jonathan Ryan and Tyler Jolley

YESSSS! The Aquabats!

Me and my girls, Margie and Lisa.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Against Her Will... and what I will and won't do as an agent...

My writing adventure on both sides of the fence continues. As I write and rewrite my own projects and read/review my clients’ manuscripts, I’m amazed at how the time flies by. I stare at the screen until my rear end hurts and then realize I haven’t gotten up to pace in a couple of hours. Are my eyes about to fall out? Maybe. The days go on and on this way. Paddling around in a sea of words, immersed in imaginary worlds. Work, work, work. Luckily, I have a passion for it—even if it can be rather intense at times. It’s exactly what I want to be doing.
And then after forever and yet all of a sudden I’m staring at the cover of a book with my own name on it. My most recent project has been to co-author a realistic YA called Against Her Will with Serita Stevens. The story takes place in a psych ward for teens and is based on some real things my co-author observed while working as a nurse for many years. The book releases in Spring of 2015! 
Speaking of wills, each of us decides what we will and won’t do. As an agent I will read for countless hours if I believe in the writer. I will give my honest opinion about what I read, and I will dedicate my time and energy into getting a project ready for submission. But there are few things I’ve decided I won’t do. I won’t rewrite or line edit for a client and I won’t submit anything I don’t have faith in... (to see full article read original post on The Rogue)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Indiana Jo: Connector, Archaeologist and Agent

 My brilliant friend, author Lois Brown, recently told me she was reading about different personality types in The Tipping Point and that she thought I was a Connector. I looked it up and thought about that...Do I thrive on synergy?

 I do love to find ways to connect people, bring ideas together, and help create situations where individuals can benefit from the knowledge, skills or "hook ups" of one other. I tend to see the world as a web or a puzzle. I literally delight in finding ways to fit people and projects together and to see how people can help each other along their journeys. I instinctively feel that we're all the same in so many ways and can look to humanity as a whole for understanding.

Perhaps that's why my first major in college was Archaeology. To dig and search through the layers of dirt and through ruins to find connections to the past. Uncovering evidence that we are the same as the people who lived, worked, played, fought, loved and died before us. Looking for commonalities--proving that we are not alone in who we are. Sounds like why we read too. "We read to know we are not alone."

Owning that I am a Connector, it makes sense that my career has taken the direction that it has. Being an agent is a bit like being an adventurous archaeologist. The research, study and digging to find that special piece that should be shared with the world. Surviving the darts of edits and the crushing boulders of rejection--for the excitement of discovery and the motivation to find things that resonate with the collective conscious.

I feel very lucky to have found the clients that I have. They each have a different voice, but they all have something good to say--and they say it well. Their stories entertain, but also show us that we're all in this together and have much to learn from one another. You'll want to read these books. They belong in the big old library that holds our human story. Stay tuned...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

That moment when... I became a literary agent.

My passion has always been writing. And over recent years I've realized that I have another passion...other YA writers. Ever since being a part of founding and running Teen Author Boot Camp which, in the near future will be spreading to other locations, I have known that finding talented writers and helping them along is something I love to do.
So...I pursued this idea, and over time, one thing led to another and now I'm Junior Agent at Gateway Literary.This will be a journey. I know I have a lot to learn. But I feel certain that this is the path for me.
 I plan to focus on YA writers exclusively with particular interest in young writers, like the ones we see coming to TABC every year.

Stay tuned... because I'm sure I will have more to say along the way about this new phase in my career.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My Journey To Black Belt

The statistic is for every 1,000 white belts who enter the dojo, only one black belt emerges.

I am that one.

Commitment, sacrifice, practice, endurance, sweat, pain, perseverance... attainment. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Michelle D. Argyle's book If I Forget You

My friend, and talented author, Michelle, has released a new book! Check it out!

Avery Hollister is a little more than absentminded. She has trouble remembering faces, names, and dates without her piles of lists and Post-it notes. When she heads off to college it takes her a week to realize the guy she's crushing on is, in fact, three different guys. With a faulty memory and three men who have no idea she's mixed them up, Avery doesn't know how to fix the mess she's made. But she knows she has to try, even if it means losing a love not even she could forget.

Get this book and find out why other authors are saying great stuff! CLICK

"Beautiful prose, interesting characters, and sizzling romance make this book simply unforgettable. I adored it." | Kasie West, author of The Distance Between Us
"Avery may have a bad memory, but I will never forget this book." | Natalie Whipple, author of The House of Ivy & Sorrow
"Achingly sweet and beautiful, If I Forget You stole my romantic reader heart."| Cassie Mae, bestselling author of Switched