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The Best Kind of Cheerleader

Seven years ago, I entered the rough and tumble world of publishing thinking I had a good idea of the frustrations and challenges that lay ahead. On social media, I followed other writers, published authors, agents, publishers, and others who were quite frank about what to expect — including rejection at almost every step of the process. What I wasn’t prepared for were the cheerleaders who championed my work. My friends, family, fellow writers and my amazing agent fall into that category. Today, though, I’m giving a shout out to John Scognamiglio, editor-in-chief at Kensington Publishing. This month, John celebrates 25 years...
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Feeling the Book Love

BURN GIRL officially debuted on September 1, but I’ve been feeling the love since July when friends and family from afar pre-ordered the book from Amazon. Here in Durango, CO, friends have flocked to Maria’s Bookshop to buy the book, keeping it on the store’s bestseller list for more than four weeks. Your support and wonderful reviews have made this one of the most extraordinary times in my career. I’m looking forward to upcoming events and appearances so I can talk to more readers in person. Next up? The Hot Mamas reading group here in Durango.  Good food, great conversation and new friends.0

The Good, the (Not So) Bad, and the Early

As BURN GIRL’s release date of September 1 draws near, I find myself checking early reviews (NetGalley and GoodReads) a little obsessively. Because reviews are subjective by nature, so is the definition of ‘good.’  Sure, it’s awesome to get the five-star reviews and anyone would count those as good reviews. I’m finding, though, that two- and three-star reviews aren’t necessarily bad. I get insight into what other readers look for — what turns them on and what turns them off. For example, one woman didn’t like that I used the F word three times in the book. Another was angry that the...
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(Don’t) Fear the Red Pen

Today, I printed a hardcopy of my manuscript to proof because I always miss things when I work solely on the electronic copy. I rummaged around my desk drawer for my red pen and a memory overtook me so completely I had to sit down. Several years ago in a critique group, two of the writers said they thought pages marked up with red pen seemed punitive and harsh. (Later, my nephew who’s getting his PhD in English lit said the same thing.) Because I started my career as a journalist and editor, I’d grown accustomed to pages that bled....
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Birthday Wishes Already Granted

My apologies for the long hiatus from the blog! Life and illness and a day job and all sorts of things derailed me. But today warrants a post about gratitude. As I celebrate my birthday, I’m reminded of what an extraordinary year I’ve had since last October 21. The two biggest milestones were signing with my agent, JL Stermer, and the sale of my YA contemporary, FACING FIRE, to Albert Whitman and Company. But I’m especially grateful for everyone who has supported me since I first started writing fiction six years ago: my amazing critique partners and beta readers; Jenni...
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When Five Years Doesn’t Seem So Very Long After All

In the past five years, I’ve written four books. I’ve had some low periods (really low periods) when I thought this day would never come. But as this dream unfolds, I am grateful for the many family members and friends who always maintained that it wasn’t “if,” it was “when.” So, here it is… One very persistent story idea that refused to leave me in peace. One agent and her assistant who took a chance on a dark, yet hopeful, story. One enthusiastic editor who convinced her editorial board that the book needed to be published.1

Score: Universe 1, Mandy 0

Over the last several months, I struggled with two health issues in addition to, you know, LIFE. All along I had a conversation with the Universe that went something like this: UNIVERSE:  Slow down. ME: Too busy. UNIVERSE: I mean it. Slow down. ME: Uh-uh. Too much work and stuff…you know, important stuff. UNIVERSE: You’ll regret it later. ME: Whatever! Shut up and leave me alone! So, I continued with work and more work. Found an agent and signed with her. Finished up edits to the YA book that hooked said agent. Started writing next book. Struggled with (ignored) health...
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Starving for Details in a Novel or Movie

I’m a foodie – I love to cook, bake and eat; I collect cookbooks and leaf through them for fun; I visit epicurious.com more often than most websites. As a reader and a writer, I find it fascinating when food is central to the plot. Is food plentiful or not, and why? Do meals reflect the state or region? Do the foods featured give us an idea of the character’s upbringing? Are meals used as a device to bring characters together? I just finished reading “The Dinner” by Herman Koch. The entire book takes place at a restaurant over the...
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