Snow Kissed – Five Questions

Snow Kissed
Five Questions

Snow Kissed is coming soon! Below are five of the most commonly asked questions surrounding my new series!

Q: What exactly is Snow Kissed?

A: Who doesn’t love a good retelling of a classic story? Snow Kissed is my imagination running wild with inspiration from the Grimm Brothers’ version of Snow White. But it’s more than a retelling. It’s taking the tale you know and turning it topsy turvy. Who knew Snow White was so mean?

Q: What is the series, The Immortal Grimm Brothers’ Guide to Sociopathic Princesses, about?

A: First, unlike The Secret Author Series, the books in TIGBGSP series must be read in order. Each book tackles a different fairy tale, all derived from the Grimm Brothers’ versions (though many originated long before the brothers were born). The series of six books has an underlying evil that is exposed in book six, but if you read carefully you might figure out what the root of all evil is before the final installment! Why the long series name? Why not? Ha, I struggled with a series name for a while, but this one made people laugh, so I went with it.

Q: What is the target age range?

A: As with The Yellow Note, there is no cussing and no overly adult situations. There are instances of kissing, but nothing more. There is, however, a decent amount of violence. You can’t defeat an evil queen without, you know, killing her. If you let your child read The Hunger Games or The Divergent Series, then this would be just fine. I would approximate the age range to be 12-18, but many adults have enjoyed reading it as well.

Q: When will the second book, Ashes to Ashes, come out?

A: Ashes to Ashes has been written and is in the first round of beta reads! I would love to say it will be out this year, but it’s more likely it will release early 2019. I have another book release soon and plans to release a Christmas-themed comedic novella by November, so those will keep me busy.

Q: How can I get an advanced reading of Ashes to Ashes?

A: You can request to be a beta reader, that’s how! Contact me for details.

Kindle Cover

The Yellow Note – Five Questions

The Yellow Note
Five Questions

With the release of the second edition of The Yellow Note, I have been getting a lot of questions. I thought I would share those here, since it’s easier to upload to all social media accounts! The most common questions are below:

Q: What did you change about the original edition?

A: None of the plot has changed. The only changes I made were correcting mistakes that slipped through the original editing processes, a few structural changes to make paragraphs flow better, and removing a few curse words that slipped through (oops). I also made formatting changes and updated the cover.

Q: What age range is the target audience?

A: I’ve had readers of all ages tell me they loved the book and have reread it many times, but the target age is 12 to 15. The topics are universal, and the story is wholesome and upbeat. There are no adult situations (one innocent kiss or two), no cussing, and no violence (except for a mugging incident.)

Q: The Yellow Note is the first book in The Secret Author Series. Do they have to be read in order, or are the installments stand-alone books?

A: Currently, The Yellow Note is the only installment for sale. The Postcard, The Letter, The Text Message, and The Telegram are available on Wattpad while they undergo editing. Each book is stand-alone, but there is minimal overlap. For example, Conor Hudson’s cousins, Hope and Mark Garrison, appear in The Postcard. Another example, an incident that occurs in The Text Message is briefly mentioned in The Telegram. Neither occasion take away from the reading experience or confuse the reader.

Q: Are the characters in The Yellow Note based on real people?

A: Yes and no. There are definite influences from people I knew/know, but the events in the book are mostly fictitious except for a few (Bianca licking chocolate off her phone–that totally happened, and you know who you are…)

Q: When will The Spin-Off Anthology be available?

A: Soon! There will be five short spin-offs and ALL the bonus chapters readers requested included in this anthology. I’m still writing one of the spin-offs, so that’s what’s holding it up. I will announce the release date soon, but I do plan to have it available by the end of the year!

The Yellow Note Front Cover

PSYCH WARD Cover Reveal Day!

Guess what today is? It’s cover reveal day for Psych Ward, my first thriller/mystery/action novel with a touch of romance written under the penname E. J. Fleming. Read on for the full blurb and cover with Daniel Rengering, dubbed Gainesville, Florida’s HOTCOP (can’t say I disagree…) Photo credit to Zachary Jayden, Popwrapped.

Final Front Cover with Penname

Chase Yarden never thought he’d see her again, but there she was sipping coffee in a tiny café in Venice. She looked different, but he would know her anywhere–the woman who ruined his life.

The four Yarden boys loved the four Ward girls nearly all their lives, a fact the small town of Douglas, Texas wouldn’t soon forget. On a night of celebration, one of the Ward girls is shot dead in the street. Only days later, the entire Ward family vanishes, leaving nothing behind but four broken men.

Long after the girls are gone, the boys are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives–a difficult task when left with more questions than answers. Determined to find those answers, Chase sets out to track down his ex-fiancé with the help of her sister’s journal. The secrets he reads between the faded leather cover torment him, until finding her becomes his sole purpose in life.

Five long years pass with nothing more than a few measly leads, until one day the woman appears out of nowhere with a warning Chase isn’t keen on hearing. Chase is thrust into a world he’d only seen in movies. Assassins, spies, murder and mayhem–the stuff of his worst nightmares become a reality he cannot escape.

Once desperate to find answers no matter the cost, Chase soon realizes the price may be higher than he was willing to pay. With enemies around every corner, Chase and his brothers find themselves in the middle of an international war that began long before they were born.

Can the Yarden boys trust the Ward girls with their lives, or will they pay the ultimate sacrifice?

Oh Look, I Found My People!

Dear Fellow Author,

I hate blogging. I never know where to begin, which is strange considering I love to write. I think it stems from my fear that no one will want to hear what I have to say, which is why my last post was over a year ago (I think). That awkward intro out of the way, I felt compelled to speak for those of us who are newbies – the dreaded place in your career where you’re still starry-eyed and so in love with the idea of what you want to be, you forget (like any other career) it has pitfalls.

Let me back up a little and tell you a little about me. I’m a proud ginger, a stay-at-home mom to a “free-spirited” three-year-old princess/future snowboarder/Sassy McSassybritches/mini-me. I’m 37 (in years, but in heart I still kind of fangirl over Shawn Mendes, shh, don’t tell). I’ve been a lot of things in life, but I denied the part of me that said WRITE YOU DOTE for a very long time. My fifth-grade teacher told my parents I would be a writer one day, but guess what? I didn’t listen.

I never listen. That’s why I became a vet tech. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great job and I saved the lives of hundreds of animals (okay, the vets did, but like human nurses, we do a lot). I worked my way up the ladder and became a Lead Tech at a prominent ER practice in upstate SC. I loved my third shift job, but it beat the hell out of me after seven years. So, when my then boyfriend got a job in Jacksonville, FL, I decided to go on the adventure with him.

I had recently finished college, earning a BS in Environmental Management, because for reasons unknown to my logical mind, I thought I could make a difference (while also earning a Master’s in Business). Guess what? After working for nearly four years as a Hazardous Waste Inspector for the state of Florida, I did nothing. Politics will kill you EVERY TIME.

That boyfriend became a fiancé and eventually my husband. And as those things often go, I got pregnant. I decided I wanted to stay home with my daughter. Best decision I EVER made for two reasons. First, I get to hang out with my most favorite person every single day (even though she is the carbon copy of me in every way, and as my mother likes to point out – karma). But also, because I finally found time to write again. I fell in love so, so, so hard.

Shortly after, my little family moved to Savanna. I have no immediate family close, only one friend in the area, and my husband deployed overseas roughly eight months ago. It has been me and mini-me for a while, and although I’m exhausted from being a “single mom” all day, I still stay up late every night to write. It’s my therapy. Without it I would explode. Said explosion would be so big, a volcano would be named in my honor. I’m a ginger, remember? I won’t lie, I like it that way. Alone is my space. It’s where I thrive.

I look at my earlier work and cringe. It was bad. It was bad on levels I am not willing to subject the general population of readers to, because you’d all go brain-dead in an instant. But it’s a learning curve. We all know that.

I need to write, to get these character voices out of my head (anyone else develop plot while in the shower?), to tell the stories my vivid imagination can’t let go of until I’ve put them on paper. I write while my daughter is in the bath tub, while she naps, from her bedtime until midnight, I record notes on my I-phone when inspiration strikes – I am obsessed – just as many authors are. It’s my heart, what I was supposed to do with my life all this time.

So, now that I’ve bored you to death talking about myself (I know, I’m a narcissistic pain-in-the-ass who won’t stop following you on Twitter), I want to tell you why I gave you a summary of my life.

It’s because I’m freaking out.

Being new is hard, man. No one knows me. No one knows I lack confidence in almost everything I do. No one knows how terrified I am of leaving my safe space.

Putting your work out in the world is HARD. I don’t want anyone to hate my babies, my sweet innocent babies. When you’re new, you don’t know who to trust, who to look up to, who to emulate…

I started posting my work to Wattpad almost two years ago, much to my hesitation but my best friend’s encouragement. I was shocked anyone read it at all, and floored when my very first work amassed over three million reads in just under six months. WHAT? People like what I have to say? They didn’t just like it, they wanted more! My inbox filled with heartfelt messages about how my work changed their point-of-view, encouraged them, picked them up from a place of despair. Again, I say, WHAT?!

In two years I earned – yes EARNED with blood, sweat and tears, because teens are difficult to please – over 6,500 followers on Wattpad. They are my tribe, my Squad, I love them dearly. They are the people who pick me up when I feel totally wrecked. I have about two dozen loyal followers who read and comment on every story I write, which is about the best beta read anyone could ask for.

I was happy. Comfy as a clam in sauce…then I went into Indie Publishing. At first, not so bad, but then…#cockygate. I’m not calling out names, because that’s not the point of my post (that all of five people follow).

There are a lot of us, the newbies who hope to pick up the torch and prove you don’t need an agent or a huge publishing house to be a successful writer. We newbies, we are TERRIFIED by the idea that we have no voice. We don’t want to step on toes or jump in where we’re not wanted. We’re new, and to quote something my grandfather once said to me, “You don’t know what you don’t know until you know, and when you know it still doesn’t make sense.”

I’m pretty sure that was his way of saying nothing will ever make sense, and he had a point. I learn something new about the industry every day. But I think what I am most awed by is the little community I have suddenly found myself smack bang in the middle of (I don’t care, I like preps at the end of sentences).

I’m not big on social media, and I quite like being my introverted self (okay, I’m a hermit), but boy oh boy have I found my people! I love the way the community came together to stand up for something they believe in so fiercely, and I admire everyone who defended the authors who were afraid to do it for themselves.

I have exactly four friends who know me inside and out. I don’t trust easily. I make snap decisions based on emotion alone.  I rave like a lunatic when I love something, and also when I hate it. I’m a hot mess, yet I still feel like I belong.

I listened to both sides of #cockygate, and I am convinced only one side truly loves writing. I’m convinced that side would rather go broke and eat bread alone rather than pull tricks from a hat to sell books.

I’m rambling, I know (try being in my head), but I have a very specific point it’s probably time I get to – I finally feel surrounded by people who get me. And that’s pretty damn cool.  So thanks to all of you.  One day, I hope I can be for someone else, what you have been for me.

Love,

Your biggest fan, MJ

(I abuse commas, forgive me)

 

Wattpad Famous?

Ahh…it feels nice to be behind a keyboard again after dodging a monster storm,  throwing a three-year-old’s birthday party, and prepping for some big personal events (all good things, don’t worry).  But now that I’m back, I’m having some difficulty getting back into the swing of things, especially writing my blog.  I beat my head trying to come up with a topic and finally settled on one that has been fairly popular for me on Wattpad.

How do I get reads, comments, and votes on Wattpad?  How did I earn over 6,400 followers in under a year?  How am I pseudo-popular on Wattpad?

There isn’t one answer that will tell you what you want to know, but I will discuss a few things that I have done that I think significantly contributed to my success on the writing app.

Your Story Should Be Polished (or readable, in the very least) First and foremost, you’re manuscript should be as close to perfect as you can get it on your first run.  I like to post my updates with minimal editing because I like the input my readers give me, and I often incorporate their ideas during my first round of serious edits.  Readers will usually excuse an error or two in an update as long as the rest of the writing is quality and captures their attention.  However, I’ve been writing for over a decade, so my first rounds are usually a little more polished than some.  Note I didn’t say perfect; Heaven only knows if I wrote a perfect manuscript in the first go I’d be J. K. Rowling rich by now!

It bears mentioning, if you post an update that is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, plot holes (that you don’t intend to fill within a chapter or two), fragmented sentences or run-ons, and generally sloppy writing, then your readers will disappear.

Apply to be Featured  Follow Wattpad’s rules for submitting your story to fill their Featured Section!  It’s free, and fairly easy to submit your work.  I did this with The Yellow Note and went from a few hundred reads over six months, to three million in the four months after it was accepted as a feature!  It wasn’t a perfect story, but with the increased readership I was able to find issues that I would not have picked up on my own.

Having a featured story increases readership which increases votes and comments.  The more people like what you write, the more followers you earn, which brings me to my next point.

Be Kind to Your Following  If you treat your followers like tuna fish, they will unfollow you in a heartbeat.  These readers like your work enough to follow you, and with any luck, they will become loyal supporters.  I have earned several friends this way, including four I rely on regularly for advice on cover work, plots, character building, etc.  (and maybe a few who I like to talk to for the giggles of it, you know who you are!)

If your followers are also writers, read their work.  Vote, comment, and help them where you can.  This is one area I admit I lack commitment, primarily because I am usually busy chasing a child, keeping up with my house, writing or editing, and other things that life says I must do.  But I fit it in where I can, and it makes my friends happy.

Respond to Comments  This can get tricky once your work takes off, and it’s one of the reasons I removed The Yellow Note from Wattpad.  I loved the comments, but I found myself receiving over 300 a day, which was far more than I was prepared to handle.

Responding to comments should be fun, and it should connect you to your audience.  It’s the best way to earn followers.  But what happens when the trolls come out to play?  Ignore them.  I learned that lesson the hard way after trading one too many blows with someone whose only desire was to get a rise out of me.  I’m a red head, it’s not difficult.  It ruined my day and stuck with me, making me feel lousy about my writing and connection to my “fans.”  When I decided to ignore those comments (or better yet, delete them), I was able to focus on the hundreds of positive ones that brightened my day.

Connect to Your Audience  I’m a 37 year old female from the east coast of the US, yet I’ve found myself having the most interesting conversations on Wattpad with people who are very different from me.  I’ve had mature conversations with twelve-year-olds, and I’ve fangirled with forty-year-olds.  I’ve discussed politics and religion with people who grew up on the other side of the world.

How do you connect with people who are so drastically different and whose interests are as varied as they are?  Read what they write, read their comments and start a conversation, view their profiles, and the most fun…CONTESTS!

I’ve had a few, and they don’t have to be big to be fun.  A cover design contest or a scavenger hunt draw people into your world, and who doesn’t like to learn something new?  The prizes for winners can be as simple as allowing the winner to choose a character name or cover design, even an actor or actress to “play” the part of the main character.  It’s fun, and people remember you.

And last but not least…

Network Like Crazy  Read a story you enjoyed?  Mention it in an author’s note between chapter updates (be sure to include the profile name).  It spreads the love and helps undiscovered writers gain a following.  In return, you earn a friend and a loyal reader.

If you find something exceptional, leave the author a personal message on their wall  or in the private message space.  I know it makes me feel great when someone tells me how my work has influenced them!

 

I love the Wattpad community, and I’m  so happy to be a part of it.  If you follow my suggestions, I can almost guarantee you’ll increase your votes, reads, comments and followers over time.  It takes dedication, but anything worth doing does.

You wrote a fantastic story and poured your heart into it, why not pour your heart into making sure it succeeds?

 

Banging Your Head Against the Wall

Writer’s block.  Two of the nastiest words in the English language when they get together to throw a party in your mind.  If you’re like me, your writer’s block manifests itself as empty stares, wandering thoughts involving grocery lists, and that dog meme you saw on twitter yesterday.  So, what do you do when you have writer’s block?

I have asked that question a thousand times, and I’ve gotten a thousand answers.  I’ve been asked quite a bit as well, and I finally have the best answer.  You do everything and nothing.  Whaaaaat?

Yep, do nothing.  It’s OKAY to take a break from your work and do something else, even for a few days.  Note, I did NOT say don’t write – that would be foolish.  Write something, just don’t force yourself to write the next chapter of that manuscript, because I promise you won’t like the outcome.  You’ll rip your hair out when the editing process begins, and you will ask yourself what on earth you were thinking.  Alien unicorns in historical non-fiction?!

Write a short story, a poem, a random list of things you want to do before you die.  You’ll find writing anything at all helps clear the blockage, and before you know it you’ll be digging out from the rubble of the hundreds of ideas that fall on you when the wall comes tumbling down!

Or, do everything.  Can’t figure out what your MC should do in the impossible predicament you’ve put her in?  Write an alternate point-of-view!  Write from the villain’s perspective, write from the love interest’s perspective, write from the fly on the wall’s perspective!  Not only does it free up space in your mind to be creative without the pressure of knowing this chapter will be in your final manuscript, but it also helps you understand your minor character’s better.

That makes no sense, you say.  I already know my characters, I wrote them after all, you say.  Trust me, you don’t.  You think you do, but until you shake off the persona of your MC, you can’t really see your supporting characters clearly.

But that’s a waste of time!  Is it any more a waste of time than staring at your computer waiting for inspiration?  Probably not.  And look at it this way, if you plan on redeeming your villain in some way, it helps to know what he/she is thinking and feeling.  It will come through in your work and when the time comes for the redemption arc, your readers will swallow the pill a little easier.  You’ll always have that one person who wouldn’t forgive a bear for pooping in the woods, but you’re not really writing for that person anyway.

Have a strong MC but a wimpy lover?  Give him or her a stronger presence (thereby making a stronger love) by climbing in the character’s brain.  Your readers will feel that love more strongly if you feel it!  I don’t feel quite right if I haven’t made myself cry writing the sappy scenes.

Don’t like alternate POVs?  Write the ending to your book.  You surely have some idea how you want your work to wrap up, so write it!  Don’t worry, no one will know if you changed it entirely by the time you get to the actual ending, but it gives you a goal.  How do you fill the space between where you are and your final destination?  You’ll be surprised what having the final written chapter can do to help you fill in the blank space.

What do you do if these tips don’t help you?  Watch TV, listen to music, read a book by an author outside of your genre, read a book by an author in your genre, read a dictionary (seriously, that little trick has helped me twice – no kidding), take a walk, call a friend on the actual phone (yes, they will probably think you’re insane), play with your pet, leave your writing space for a while and look at the world, run ideas by a trusted beta reader or friend, do one of the things on your to -do list.

Do whatever works for you, because honestly that’s the way the world works.  Everyone is different, and not every tip will work for you.  And sometimes what works now won’t work later.  It’s frustrating, I know .  We ALL know, because we’ve all been there at least once – twice on Tuesdays!

Don’t let it stop you from putting the words down.  Someone wants to hear what you have to say; wouldn’t it be a pity if you never say it?  Just keep trying techniques, and one day you’ll be doing this…

 

When Do You Become a Writer?

We’ve all done it.  You’re scrolling through Facebook and you come across a “quiz” that tells you who you are (because algorithms know everything), and you click on it only to find you have apparently been living your life all wrong!

Sigh…I did just that today, and now I’m downright irate.  I should have known better, but I couldn’t stop myself from clicking on that “Should You be a Writer?” quiz that kept popping up in my feed.  I took the quiz.  Guess what?  I shouldn’t be a writer.

Why?  Evidently it’s a lot of work.  Evidently you need 427 years of schooling to put words on paper that inspire others.  Evidently I am not creative enough, because I also happen to like watching more than one television show.

It was discouraging for about thirteen seconds.  Then I remembered that silly quiz didn’t know me.  It didn’t know that I thrive from writing, or that I would do just about anything to put my thoughts on paper.  Of course, those 427 years of schooling may have helped me get started, at the very least it may have helped me remember where the commas are supposed to go, but not having it certainly won’t STOP me from doing what I love.

Folks, I have an MBA that I paid good money for – really good money, and I haven’t used that sucker once since I graduated.  Quite frankly, if I entered the business world right now, that $90K degree would probably be worthless.  The truth is, education is important, but it isn’t everything.

Experience, now THAT you cannot put a price tag on.  Empathy, sympathy, love, hope, generosity, sadness, anger – the entire human spectrum of emotion – and the things you do and see and say in your life – THAT is what makes you a writer.  Anyone can make a sentence and write it on paper, but it’s those of us who put our soul on paper that inspire others and create masterpieces.

Some may say the true gauge of success as a writer is publication, some say making the NYT Bestseller list, some say fame and fortune (sorry, not many people become JK Rowling), but I say the second you leave a little piece of yourself on the page you have become a writer.

Writing is an art form, and like any other form of art it takes practice and perseverance.  Mozart worked for ten years before he produced his first popular work.  Kobe Bryant put in thousands of hours of training before he became a star, arguably one of the best basketball players in the world.  Picasso painted a bunch of crap before he sold is first painting.  Einstein thought most of his work was junk, then he completed his Theory of Relativity – dude, he figured out gravity!  But, he didn’t do it overnight.

My point?  If you want to be a writer, then be a writer.  Put in the work and never let anyone, not even the all-powerful Facebook quiz, tell you what you should or shouldn’t do.  That said, if you will excuse me I have some writing to do.

All the love!  MJ

First blog post

I have no idea what I’m doing – I wan to be clear about that from the very beginning.  I came into this world an introvert, and an introvert I will stay until the day I die.  But, that doesn’t mean I don’t like people, I simply go about my appreciation a little differently.  At home.  In my pajamas.  With coffee and a book.

On this site you will find my ramblings about anything that comes to mind, primarily having to do with writing and publishing, but there will probably be some random, unimportant junk thrown in on occasion – or often, I haven’t decided yet!

My first book, The Yellow Note, racked up three million reads on Wattpad, so I thought I’d give the publishing world a try.  I thought having a cesarean section was brutal…I was wrong.  I’m used to rejection, don’t get me wrong, but when you’re judged by the first sentence that comes out of your mouth (or your page), then ignored for months on end you start to feel a little invisible.

But, Wattpad is a wonderful community and I have found several solid, loyal supporters who encourage me to write every single day.  I hope those supporters will follow me here, because I would love for this blog to become a community of individuals whose goal is writing, whether professionally or as a hobby, and supporting each other through the process.

If you want a peek into my brain, follow me on Wattpad or any of my social media pages.  You can find links to those on the Social Media tab on the main page of this blog, or you can flounder around aimlessly searching for me – whatever floats your boat.

This is my firs blog post, so I won’t bore you with my rambling just yet, but I will provide some shameless self-promotion…

The Yellow Note (hardcover and paperback) is available through Barnes and Noble here:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-yellow-note-melissa-padgett/1126962175?ean=9781538031728

E-reader version will be available through Amazon in a few days, and I will post the link then.  Check out my Books tab for a brief summary of the book.

Thank you for following my rambling for today, stay tuned for more!  As a thank-you, I will leave you with a gif that does not belong to me in any way, shape, or form (please don’t sue me), but Nathaniel Buzolic is so very nice to look at…(incidentally, it’s how I feel when agents ignore me.)

Image result for Nathaniel Buzolic Gifs Drinking