Sunday, June 28, 2015

7 Twitter Tips for Writers

Twitter is an amazing place where writers can "meet" each other, find out what's on agents' wishlists, and discover useful tools to improve their manuscript. Here are seven tips for writers who want to get the most out of their Twitter experience.

1. Establish and build your brand.
Whether you realize it or not, how you interact with people on Twitter, the content you share, and your profile and header images create a brand that's attached to your name. You can create a brand that will help you sell books. So, think about your target audience. Do you expect moms to buy your book? Cultivate a following among mom bloggers by writing and sharing content that interests them. Releasing a steampunk novel? Develop a brand that attracts readers of steampunk books. Tweet about steampunk events, topics, and books.

2. Share the love.

You don't have to follow every person who follows you. (However, if you want to grow your followers list, you should consider following writers who follow you.) But, do be gracious in retweeting information from other writers that may interest your followers. If you write romance, occasionally share information about a romance you just finished and loved. Do the occasional retweet of a promo if you have an interesting commentary on it. Which leads to the next tip...

3. Don't over-promote other writers.
There's nothing worse than following someone who does a rolling retweet of other authors' self-promos. In these instances, there's no thoughtful reason for sharing the information. It's like a mechanical thing of going through a list of promos and retweeting. (And yes, there are services that "contribute" tweets for you. I recommend avoiding those.) If you're somewhat selective in what you share, your retweets will mean more. Otherwise, your followers learn to ignore you.

4. Don't engage in too much self promotion.
Some people have likened repeated tweets about your own project to standing on a street corner and yelling into a megaphone. People walking by hear you (kind of), but there's a really low chance they're listening to what you have to say. Again, if you limit self promotion to two or three tweets per week at the very most, you're less likely to alienate followers. And make sure you have something new to say. Don't just tweet the same self promo every time.

Want to maximize exposure other writers are willing to give to your promotional tweets? Pin your best promo tweet to the top of your Twitter page. By doing that, you're letting new followers know what's most important to you. Many writers pin a tweet announcing they signed with an agent, got a book deal, or the link where people can buy their book. During pitch contests, pin your favorite pitch so others who want to retweet your pitch can find it easily.

5.Shorten links.
Free up characters by using a link shortening website. My favorites are and Use the extra space to include relevant hashtags that will get your tweet in front of a targeted audience (i.e. people who are looking for tweets with a particular hashtag). I'm paranoid so I always test my tinyurl or bitly before sharing it on social media to make sure it takes me to the correct website.

6. Interact with other writers in contests.
 I found my amazing critique partner, Hayley Stone, and two other CPs through PitchWars. I tried to engage with other writers using the hashtag a few times a day. You don't even have to engage that often to connect with writers. Warning: once you begin tweeting on a writing contest hashtag, it's addictive because you'll find out how fun it is. Another warning: agents and contest judges are watching tweets on the hashtag. Don't be a d-bag.

7. Be careful with direct messages.
That means no automatic DMs. They're just bad form. Even a non-automatic direct message can seem annoying to another writer who just started following you. Unless you feel you simply have to send them a DM, consider tweeting at them and asking the best way to contact them. Then they can initiate a DM to share their email address.

What tips do you have for writers using Twitter?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Waiting to Father

Here's a poem I wrote for Father's Day as a tribute to the men who struggle through infertility.

Waiting to Father

The basal body thermometer.
The syringe with needle.
The pack of pregnancy tests.

The artifacts that mark
A woman's journey through infertility.


The tasks that keep
A woman occupied, industrious.

Doing something matters.

But what of men?
They have one
Mission-critical contribution.

At the conclusion of their duty,
They can do no more
To ensure success.

Entrusting their fate
To doctors,
And their beloved.
They wait.

Wait to see their own eyes
Peering back at them
With infant newness.
The same eyes but also different,
Big and bright among the blanket folds.

Wait to resurrect favorite toys
From their childhood.
These playthings sit in boxes,
Wrapped in memories and hope
That their children will
Understand the magic.

Wait to tease away
The pain of lost games
And lost pets
And lost opportunities.

Wait to bandage scrubby, bloody knees
Scraped against concrete after a fall
In the heat of play,
Whispering words of comfort.

Wait to spin stories
Into the darkness of bedtime
Until droopy eyelids meet
In sleep.

These fathers-to-be also carry the weight.
They bear the wait.

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Poem for Beginnings

My mug leaves a ring on the bathroom counter
Brown, circular. There
Is the day beginning? Or is it just now ending?

Gritty, wet sand shines speckled in the hand.
Smear it over legs cold and kissed by the sea.
Adventures beginning? Perhaps this is the end
Of a trip half-remembered two months later.

The smokey smell of twilight
Snakes its way up my porch.
Where is the sun rising? On whom is it setting?

Cries beg for a fresh drink to appease the toothless appetite.
Moans down a hallway demand relief
from the wet, clingy diaper.
Life is new. But maybe this is the final scene.

Beginnings and endings
Wear similar hues,
Cast the same long shadows.

Water drips from the faucet
Heedless of time, oblivious
To the order of life.
On it goes. Still it goes.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

From Word to Book

Wow. Just... wow.
Earlier today, the amazing VP of Operations for my publisher sent me the first proof of INCONCEIVABLE as an ebook. Seeing the words I've edited, tweaked, and read in Microsoft Word transformed into book format is absolutely overwhelming. The top image is a screenshot of my ebook. (HOORAY!) I knew I'd be excited when my eARC arrived, but I wasn't prepared for the emotions it would provoke: excitement to see my manuscript coming to the end/beginning of its journey, protectiveness for my characters as they're about to be sent into the world, and hope that people will love this story as much as I do. On a side note, I'm in the process of lining up book bloggers, adoption proponents, and advocates in the infertility community to review INCONCEIVABLE. Please feel free to reach out to me if you or someone you know is an influencer who wants to review my book.

Perhaps it's fitting that I'm typing this blog post in the same Starbucks where I wrote the very words of this novel. When I began nearly three years ago, I thought I was starting at the beginning. But the very first scene I ever wrote actually became the epilogue. It's the only part of the book that's in Prince John's voice. I didn't realize when I began that this was, in fact, Hatty's story to tell and John's voice would be the cherry on top to wrap up the journey these characters take together.

It seems fitting to reflect on my journey to this point. As I've said previously, it takes a village to birth a book. I've had so much help along the way, and I've grown tremendously as a writer. Without some of the other writers who've helped me along the way, I wouldn't be here with an ARC in hand. I'm not sure I'd even have a finished novel. And more than that, I'm well on my way to writing my second novel. Tentatively titled GLORYLAND, it's a young adult contemporary novel that's quite different than INCONCEIVABLE in tone and style. Early feedback is very positive. And now that I know the joy that comes from seeing my Word document changed into an ebook, I'm even more eager to get this second novel finished, edited, and on its way to publication.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


Infertility exiles you to an invisible island. You're standing in a crowd, surrounded by family, friends, and co-workers, but you feel alone, isolated. The problem you face is not one people openly discuss. There are plenty of misconceptions about infertility, including the belief that it isn't a medical condition. This inaccuracy finds its way into comments by well-meaning friends who say, "Just relax and you'll get pregnant." No one would ever tell a person with a disease that relaxation alone is the cure.


There's a powerful truth in C.S. Lewis' statement. I want people facing infertility to read my book and know they're not alone. My book's dedicated to them because, like Hatty and John in INCONCEIVABLE!, they deserve a happy ending of their own choosing and on their terms. This book's also for those who know someone going through infertility. I hope the story gives you a glimpse into what it's like to experience this kind of struggle. Infertility often unfolds in the midst of a love story between two people. So, I decided my book needed to focus on the relationship between two people and how the unexpected heartbreak of infertility interrupts their happily ever after. Using the perspective of a royal couple gave me a compelling framework in which to tell the infertility story.

My Infertility Story

When Patrick and I decided we wanted to have a baby, it was such an exciting time in our lives. We had been married for several years; we had jobs we loved, a house with two empty bedrooms, and hearts full of love for our child-to-be. Even way back in high school, we had dreamed about what it would be like if we got married and had kids. So, there was a lot of expectation, hope, and excitement built into our decision to try to get pregnant.
negative test
Fast forward ten months. We hadn't had any luck, so I went to see my doctor who just happened to be very pregnant. She assured me that my youth (mid-20's) and overall good health would allow me to get pregnant. All I needed was time. She said for someone my age, the odds were overwhelmingly in my favor that I'd be pregnant in the next couple of months. That visit calmed my worries for a time. However, when another six months passed and there wasn't any hint of double lines on the pregnancy tests, I went to see a different OB/GYN.

Because it had been over a year since we started trying, he suggested in utero insemination (IUI). This was after he ran the usual battery of fertility tests and found no problems. An IUI is a relatively easy and affordable procedure (not covered by insurance), so we agreed. We did two or three of those and had no success. Next, he suggested I have a laparoscopy, outpatient surgery, during which he could try to get a visual on what might be causing us problems. I'd never been under general anesthesia, and that worried me. However, my desire to have a child was extremely strong, so I decided to do it. The surgery didn't offer us any definitive answers, nor did it allow us to get pregnant.

Keep in mind that during all this anxious waiting, testing, and monthly failures, we carried on with our lives. Very few people knew about the anxiety and anguish our fertility problems caused us. Like so many people who face infertility, we kept it private and held onto our pain in silence. That began to change when we found two other couples through our church who also were going through infertility. When we connected with them, it was like we stumbled into an oasis in the middle of our desert. They could relate to how we felt, the medical tests, and the uncertainty about what to try next. Though I wouldn't wish infertility on anyone, it was such a relief to find out we weren't the only ones suffering through this process.
We decided to make one final push to get pregnant. One of the world's most renowned fertility specialists had a clinic three and a half hours from us. We signed up with him to do one IVF cycle. It was expensive, not covered by insurance, and we had to drive seven hours round trip for every appointment. Once the cycle started, we made the drive multiple times a week for monitoring. In addition, IVF requires women to give themselves multiple shots each day to suppress their body's normal cycle and override it with medication.

After all the injections, my body only produced three follicles. It was three times better than none, so we were happy. Outpatient surgery allowed the doctor to remove the follicles from my ovaries. Another doctor performed the difficult task of inserting the sperm directly into each egg, minimizing the chance of failure. This tedious work paid off and we had three textbook-perfect embryos. Patrick even named them.
embryos for web
The doctor transferred the embryos into my body, a procedure for which I stayed awake, using relaxation techniques the entire time. Afterward, we stopped at a local pizza joint to celebrate. Two weeks later, I finally had a positive pregnancy test! Everything looked great, and all I had to do was go back to my regular OB/GYN for monitoring.

And that's when things went downhill.

The Death of a Dream

About six and a half weeks into the pregnancy, the ultrasound tech didn't find a heartbeat. Then, a few days later, I had a miscarriage. For me, it was the lowest moment in our journey. After an initial cry, I went numb. We even talked to a counselor because I thought I needed to do more wailing and screaming. She assured me it was perfectly appropriate and normal to feel empty, unable to produce anymore tears. Every cell in my body felt barren.

The IVF failure was the turning point for us to talk more seriously about adoption. We realized what was most important to us: having a child, not a pregnancy. I still grieved the loss of biological children, but I was ready to move forward with adoption. Little did we know that each adoption would come to fruition only after we overcame significant difficulties. Still, infertility taught us to persevere, and we did. Three times.
So, I also dedicate my book to the three children who gave me an extraordinary gift: they made me a mother.