Tag Archives: writing

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My Publishing Journey: Part 2

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Last week I told about my very first published work, Babes in Spyland.

This week, we’re delving into my first published novel!

I mentioned before that after I’d gone to a professional writing conference I made a goal to have a YA book written and ready to pitch to an editor the next year.

Often times, at these conferences, you can pay for time with an editor that works for a publishing company.

Sure, you can ambush them in the hallway and try to tell them about your book, but I was much more comfortable with the idea of the two of us in a room by ourselves and the only thing we were there to talk about was my story.

I rewrote my first book seven or eight times. Maybe more. It was crazy! I had a great idea, but I didn’t know a whole lot about the nuance of telling a good story, so each time I learned something new, I would change my book.

Most often for the better.

After a year of writing, rewriting, having a whole bunch of people read it, more rewriting, and spending a whole lot of my free time with my laptop, I had a book to pitch at the conference!

The experience was perfect. The editor was kind and asked for a copy of my manuscript.

However, I knew that the two of us weren’t going to click. I liked this woman, but didn’t feel comfortable with the thought of working with her. I think our personalities were too similar so when, months later, she politely rejected my story, I wasn’t butt hurt.

So I took the book to another conference, once again paid to chat with an editor, and had another request for the manuscript.

Then I waited. I sent it to a few other editors and publishing houses, but only got rejections.

The next year, at the conference I’d first pitched at, I met a small publisher that I’d submitted too, and when I talked to them they were thrilled about the pages I’d sent them and asked for more.

At that moment, I knew they would publish the book.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever had that experience, but I felt it all the way through my body. I KNEW.

Sure enough, a month or two later, my first YA novel was under contract!

I still love this cover!

The road to publication after that wasn’t totally smooth. My book got pushed back in the schedule, which was frustrating. The publisher was having me post on Twitter (the social media platform of the day) which I was garbage at.

I anticipated heavy edits from the publisher, like many of the other authors that I’d spoken to who worked with them, but only got a proofreading edit. Typos and grammar. I knew my book wasn’t perfect, and had been anticipating the process of improving it.

I didn’t get that opportunity, which I’m still sad about.

However, I did get most of the other experiences I’d been wanting. Like being super excited when I opened my first Advance Reader Copies of the book!

This is me holding my first ARC copy of New Sight!

I remember being so nervous for the book to come out that I went and got a pedicure then went to Barnes and Noble, where I almost cried!

Second shelf up in the middle!

How many times had I imagined seeing my name on a book in a book store?!? It was surreal and a dream come true. One of the workers asked if I needed help, and I just pointed and said, “That’s my book!”

A week or so later I had my first book signing in a Barnes and Noble. (This was the thing to do back in the day)

Behold, myself and the amazing author Sarah E. Boucher!

I sold out of books and had a great turn out of family and friends!

This was in 2013. I’ve come a long way since then, embracing self-publishing and adopting a pen name in addition to Jo Schneider.

New Sight has been through a couple of cover iterations, which has been kind of fun. I do love the original, but my publishing company was bought up and I got my rights back, so I had to change the cover.

This version has my niece’s eye on it and the background is a picture I took of Druid Arch, where the finale of the book takes place. I love this cover, but it’s not to market, so I had to replace it.
Here’s the most recent version of the cover. It’s amazing. My brother-in-law did the eye rune in the background!

One book turned into three, and now there’s a finished trilogy for New Sight along with a couple of side stories!

One thing leads to another, and a whole lot of hard work, and suddenly you’re a published author!

Don’t give up on your dreams, people. 🙂

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My Publishing Journey: Part 1

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I thought it might be fun to take a walk down memory lane this week.

Not the memory lane where you cringe at the clothes you wore in high school, or the way you styled your hair during the 90s.


I’m going to take you through my publishing journey!

I used to write I was young, but I put it down for a long time until I was in my late 20s. A friend started a writing group, I joined, and I’ve been telling stories ever since.

Mind you most of them were terrible, but I was writing, which is the key.

After I attended my first real writing conference I decided that, in a year, I would have a finished YA novel to pitch to an editor.

I accomplished that goal, but that novel wasn’t the first thing I published.

A friend told me about an online platform, which is long gone, that was looking for serialized fiction. An episode a week for a 12 week season. She wanted me to cowrite with her, which I declined, because, honestly, I don’t always share well with others.

So instead, I decided to write something of my own. Something silly and fun and not stressful.

This is where Babes in Spyland came to life!

Babes is a world that some friends and I created as a joke, and I took it over! (Buhahahaha)

Fine, I asked first.

Anyway, this is where it all started!

I published five seasons of Babes. At one point it was bundled into a book. I still have a handful of copies of that, and when I become a super famous author I’ll sell them for lots of money.

Right now you can get a copy of it on Amazon for just $99.00. What a bargain!
(Just kidding. Call me and I’ll make you a better deal.)

Is Babes in Spyland a good book?

Well, it’s not my best writing, obviously, because it’s my first published work. However, it is hilarious. Super Secret Agents battle ridiculous villains all while making smart remarks and looking fabulous.

The Super Secret Agency battles crime on a level that shouldn’t exist.

Agents Milkshakes and Sugar Lips, Agents Amphibian Queen and Bunnynose face off against the likes of mimes, Homebase Security, the lines at the porta potties, exploding puzzle boxes, baseball fanatics, a zombie flash mob, and the fish that got away, to name a few.

Follow these lovely girls of mystery as they are called on to escort a tanker of ‘happy’ milk to Billy Bonka’s chocolate factory. Or their task to infiltrate the mysterious island posing as free range chicken specialists — Chicktopia.

Not to mention, the perfect storm of trouble that lies in red light districts, a run through “The Pen,” cock fights, and a betrayal they never saw coming. All while looking good.

Someday I’ll get back to this world. I love the characters and the silly, yet serious, tone of the stories.

This is where it all began! The first week this gem hit the internet I was technically a published author!

The original logo for Babes!

A big thanks to the friend who begged me to write with her and then challenged me to submit a story so she wouldn’t feel so afraid to submit her own. We both got accepted. We both wrote several seasons on this platform. Since then we’ve both gone on to publish a LOT of books.

It just goes to show you that your first steps aren’t always what you think they will be.

My first FanX signing!

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Geeky Inspiration

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I have a problem.

I like to collect geeky things.

Especially geeky things that mean something to me.

Today you get a tour of one of the shelves of my desk! (Aren’t you lucky?)

Behold…my shelf!

1 – Aliens. I saw this show on TV when I was around 13, and I’ve been a lover of military science fiction with a splash of horror ever since! The fan fiction I wrote for these propelled me into writing genre fiction.

2 – Cat Ursula. If you like fairy tale retellings, and haven’t read my Fairy Tale Academy series, you should. Ursula is one of my favorite character in the books! She’s not a cat in my books.

3 – This was a stocking stuffer from my sister-in-law a few years ago. It helps me remember to not take things so seriously and to laugh more.

4 – Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I enjoy romance. I love zombies. The fact that these two things were combined so masterfully (especially in the book) has always been a happy thing for me. Jane here reminds me to think outside the box, but don’t abandon what I like to write because other things seem shinier.

5 – Diamond Quill Award. I won this (the highest honor for a book from the League of Utah Writers) for my cautionary tale about how online predators lure kids into extortion, human trafficking, and even death. The other authors in the series and I just gave the rights for these books to a third party who rescues and helps victims of human sex trafficking. This award reminds me that I wrote a book that might help someone avoid a horrible fate.

6 – Local Authors and You. I’ve participated in dozens of local author events. I love talking and teaching about writing, I love chatting with new authors, and I like selling books. This reminds me that I’m not alone in my plight of authoring.

7 – Shikamaru. This is my favorite character from the anime Naruto. He’s one of the most intelligent characters in the show and reminds me to work smarter, not harder.

8 – Winner Duck. I got this at a writing retreat, and he reminds me that I’m not a loser, I’m a winner!

What do the decorations in your room/house say about you?

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When Life is Terrifying!

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I’ve been writing for a while and have quite a few books out.

I’ve sent plenty of manuscripts to beta readers. For most of those I’ve expected some tough-love feedback to come back to me. That’s why I have beta readers, because I can’t catch everything myself.

Over the past eight years I’ve developed a pretty thick skin. I sort of remember how scary it was to send my first books to people for beta reading or reviews.

Or thought I did.

Now I remember.

Last week I sent out a finished, but not final, manuscript for my first YA Science Fiction Military Space Opera to beta readers.

After I hit the send button I literally wanted to run away and hide.


I’m comfortable writing the post-apocalyptic books, the contemporary fantasy, the fairy tale retellings, and the romances. Straight up sci-fi is new for me, and therefore, terrifying.

What if everyone hates it? What if it actually sucks?

I always think my books suck, but deep inside I have an idea of how much they suck.

This time, I’ve got nothing.

So, to pass the time while my book is away, I’m writing another romance. This one is a curvy girl romantic comedy that should keep everyone, including me laughing.

I’ll let you know how many packages of Oreos I go through when the comments come back from my beta readers.

There will probably be tears. They could be of joy or sorrow.

For anyone out there who’s trying something new, I feel you. We’re practically kin.

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