THE MAN I WANT TO BE - Release date & Teaser!

I have a release date for book 3 in the Under Covers series -- Tyke's book!!  

Mark your calendar, **THE MAN I WANT TO BE is coming your way 29 February 2018!** 

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This is one of those books that wrote itself. Tyke had been begging for his own story (yelling at me, really) since I started this series back in 2015.  He was patient and let me get Ash's and Luke's stories out first, and then all hell broke loose. He bugged me morning, noon, and night, wanting me to get his story written.  And he finally got his way!  Though, he might not be too happy with all the crap I put him through for most of the book.  hehe 

I don't have the cover yet, but I have a working blurb if you're interested in reading what it's about. It's FUN, it's FUNNY, and it's SARCASTIC as hell. Tyke has finally met his match in this second-chance romance! 

((not approved and could change))
Bryan Tyke hates weddings. He hates them even more when he's forced to travel to a hot as hell beach location to watch his best friends say I do and 'til death do us part, while acting happy about it. He isn't happy. Not in the slightest. If those pinheads want to buy into happily ever after, good for them. That isn't in the cards for Tyke. It hasn't been for a long time. He walked out on the possibility more than a decade ago without ever giving the lucky lady a reason why. She would've forgotten him by now. Which was good since he never planned on seeing her again. That is, until she shows up unexpectedly at the same remote Caribbean resort and puts herself into immediate danger.

Kenna McCord doesn't have time to hate Bryan for never coming back to her all those years ago. She has bigger issues. Someone is stealing personal mementos from wedding guests, to include her late mother's sapphire ring, and Kenna needs to find the thief ASAP. So she reluctantly agrees to let Bryan use his investigative skills, knowing full-well it will lead to nothing but frustration and more broken promises. But when a glimmer of the loving, thoughtful man Bryan used to be emerges, Kenna starts to imagine that maybe, just maybe, they can have a second chance at forever.

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Want a sneak peek?  It's still with my editor, so this passage could change when it goes to print, but here you go!

Tyke huddled behind a large row of bushes looking at a small two-story cape cod. He and Reese had set up surveillance about two hundred feet away. On their bellies in damp grass, they scanned the front exterior of the house and surrounding area through binoculars.

The place was located smack in the middle of a long street that was lined with about twenty houses along the ocean. The tall hill across the road where Reese and Tyke lay, served as great privacy for the neighborhood from the rest of the resort craziness. This area was dark and quiet. Peaceful. Likely coveted by the resort staff as a way to decompress after servicing the guests.

Some upstairs lights were on in the adjacent houses; people readying for bedtime after a hard days work. Javier Salvont’s house was dark and silent. Only a few overgrown bushes and trees out front. No cars in the cracked driveway.

“Area secure,” Reese said beside him. “If you're going, I would say now is the time.”

Tyke placed his binos in the black canvas bag Reese brought with him to the islands. They hadn't planned on anything happening while they were on vacation, but one could never be sure. Reese liked to be prepared.

“Keep an eye out,” Tyke said, getting to his feet in a crouch position. “If you see anything—” He spotted movement at his two o'clock, so he threw himself flat on the grass and scrambled for his binoculars. “Who the hell is that?”

Reese was already on it, following the person with his own equipment. “A woman. And by the looks of it, Kenna.”

What?” Tyke snapped his binoculars back up and confirmed that surer than shit, it was her. He'd recognize that profile anywhere.

Her red hair was pulled up into a pile on the top of her head. She wore a black tank top that showed off her full chest and black shorts that were just short enough to give her that curve that drove him nuts. Despite the dark clothing, the way she was tip-toeing out in the open across the front yard, Stevie Wonder could've spotted her.

Goddamn woman. He'd told her to stay put.

“Are you going after her?” Reese asked in an honest tone. Like he didn't pick up on Tyke's ire.

“Yeah, I'm going after her.” He sprang to his feet. “Keep an eye out and let me know if you see anything else.”

“Copy that.”

Tyke veered right to come in behind her so she wouldn't see him approach. He followed her path down to the front of the house, his boots lightly touching the cement driveway. She knelt under the front bay window when he caught up with her.

“What the hell are you doing here?”

She squealed and whirled on him with a…

What the—?

He plucked the item out of her hand and examined it. “You're gonna break into someone's house with a plastic knife?”

“Yes,” she said, clutching her chest. “Now give it back and get out of here. You're going to blow my cover.”

“What’s with you and your cover?” he said. “Honey, if you even had one, it was blown the second you stepped on the lawn.”

She made a pfft sound between tight lips. “Please. I'm covert.”

“Nothing about you is covert.” He slid the plastic knife into his shorts pocket. “What exactly were you gonna do with that thing? Saw someone's hand off after an hour? Would that be before or after they easily snapped it in half?”

Kenna gave him a once over, seeming fixated with the belt he wore that contained rope, pepper spray, a small subcompact handgun, and a six-inch tactical knife. Stainless steel. Not plastic.

“Whose wedding did you think you were coming to? The Soprano's?” she asked. “Why would you need all of that stuff?” She started to reach for his dagger, but he swatted her hand away.

“Kenna, get out of here so I can search this house before Javier gets home.”


“Get out of here.”


“Kenna, I’m serious. Go.”

She gathered her lips together and crossed her arms like a stubborn kid who didn’t get the pony they wanted for Christmas.

He closed his eyes and counted to five. Slowly. When he opened and she hadn’t disappeared, he groaned. “You're going to follow me in, aren't you?”

She patted his shoulder. “Now you're getting it.”

“Reese,” Tyke said, touching his earpiece. “How we lookin’?”

Kenna leaned in and said, “Hi, Jason!”

“Whoa. What are you doing?” Tyke pushed her back. “No. Just no.”

“Hello, Kenna,” Reese said, even though she couldn’t hear him.

Tyke rolled his eyes. “Am I good to go or what, Reese?”

“Kenna said hello. I didn’t want to be rude by not responding.”

Tyke waited.


“Are you gonna tell me if we’re clear to enter the premises?”

“As soon as you tell Kenna I said hello,” Reese said.

Tyke mumbled the words.

“Aww, that’s so sweet,” she said. “Thank you, Jason. You’re thoughtful. Unlike some people.” And she glared at Tyke.

Yeah, whatever. “Reese, any time now. I’d like to check this place out sometime before this guy gets home.”

“All clear,” Reese said.

“So how are we going to play this?” she asked. “Break in through the window? The back door?” Her gaze bounced to everything around them.

“You're asking me?” he said. “You were the one coming down here on a mission. What was your plan?”

She looked thoughtful for a moment, then said, “I didn't really have one. Just figured I'd wing it once I got here.”

“Wing it? Woman, you don't just wing it when you're breaking and entering into someone's house.”

“Then what are we going to do, super-secret spy man?” Her tone was sarcastic. He didn't appreciate it one bit.

“First off, let's get one thing straight—I'm a DEA agent. I chase dangerous drug dealers for a living. Completely different and way cooler than CIA spy shit. Keep talking that garbage and I'll ship you back to the resort right now. Got it?”

She twisted her fingers over her closed lips like she was locking them and then throwing away the key.

Tyke rolled his eyes. “Second, this is a beach house on a remote island that overlooks the ocean. I'm sure there's a window or door unlocked somewhere.”

They spent a few minutes checking all the first floor windows and doors without any luck.

“Second story,” Reese said. “ Front right side. A window is open.”

Tyke made his way to the front of the house and positioned himself under the window Reese referred to. He assessed the situation. And then, in realizing what he'd have to do, he pressed his fingers into his eye sockets. “I'm going to regret this.”

“What?” Kenna asked. “What are you going to do?”

“Not me. You.”


“I'm going to hoist you up onto the roof and you're going to climb into that window. Then you're going to come down and unlock the front door for me.”

Her expression was a little too excited.

He latched onto her arm. “But you're not going to search any part of the house without me, understood?”

She was bouncing on her toes. “Sure. Yeah. Let's do this.”

Making a basket with his fingers, he said a few choice words under his breath before bending and letting her step in. He counted to three and then propelled her upward to where she could reach the edge of the first floor roofline.

“Pull yourself up,” he said as he hoisted her higher.

“All good!” Her head came into view over the edge of the first floor roof.

“Get to the window.” He stepped back to watch her climb inside.

Then he went to the front door and waited for it to open.

And he waited.

And waited some more.

“Goddamn it, Kenna,” he said.

That's it for now!  Stay tuned for updates on THE MAN I WANT TO BE here.  I'll have more teasers and goodies coming your way soon!


Giveaway: Enter to win a Kindle Fire, plus a $20 Amazon Gift Card!


I'm really loving this whole giveaway thing!! It's fun!

In order to celebrate the release of my second published novel, In Walked Trouble, I gave away a $20 Amazon gift card on July 31st.  Well, guess what??  I have ANOTHER novel, Anywhere With You, that released on August 1st! So I would be remiss if I ignored celebrating that one!

So here's the deal. . .

There are FIVE total authors (Christi Barth, Eliza Knight, Piper J. Drake, Misty D. Waters, and me) that each wrote a story in the Destination: Love anthology. All of these stories are set in exotic locations and are STEAMY -- and not just because of the tropical weather! You definitely want this book in your life!

We're making it worth your while because for a LIMITED TIME, the entire set, including ALL FIVE romances, are $0.99! That's it! And you want to know the best part? 20% of ALL sales are being donated to Final Salute, a nonprofit that finds suitable housing for homeless female veterans. 

It's a win-win! 

One click now! 

Barnes & Noble
Google Play

Now to the giveaway. 

1) To enter for a chance to win the Kindle Fire, go here.  It's a scavenger hunt, so be ready to have some FUN as you learn about the five authors in this anthology. 

2) To enter for a chance to win the $20 Amazon gift card, go to my Facebook page and click on Photos. Find the ANYWHERE WITH YOU photo album. There's a picture in there that matches the one in this blog post. Read the instructions, do as it says, and you'll be automatically entered!  That's it! I'll pick a random winner for the gift card on Sunday August 13th at 9pm on my FB page

So you have TWO chances to win something. Is that great or what??

To recap: click the link to complete the scavenger hunt in order to be entered to win the Kindle AND follow the instructions in my Facebook post to enter for the $20 Amazon gift card. Simple!

As always, thanks for your support! As long as you keep coming back, I'll keep running giveaways and sharing the joy!! 



It's here!  It's here!  The cover for IN WALKED TROUBLE!  

This is book 2 in my Under Covers romantic suspense series and centers around Luke Calder, Ash Calder's (from ON HER SIX) best friend and DEA teammate.

All the players from book one are back.  Ash, Sam, Tyke, Reese, and even the old ladies from the 19th Street Patrol! (Remember crazy Estelle?)

I feel like the action and humor factors were really AMPED up in this book compared to book one.  If you loved ON HER SIX, then you'll definitely be on the edge of your seat and also laugh more while reading IN WALKED TROUBLE.

Here's the blurb: 

With a deadly target on his back, DEA agent Luke Calder’s plan is to drink away his impending demise. Except instead of getting blessedly drunk, in walks a woman with a much deeper story than she’s leading on. And he definitely wants to know more. Especially when he learns she might have intel he needs. He’s not cool with lying to her, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And what starts out as simple surveillance turns into so much more.

Cassandra Stone is having a bad night. Her boyfriend’s been cheating because she’s not “adventurous enough” in bed. So, she does the next logical thing—she goes in search of a dark, dangerous one-night stand. Instead, she finds smoldering eyes, deep dimples, and the killer smile of a guy who won’t leave her alone. Damn him. He says and does all the right things, making Cass believe that good men still exist. Until she learns why he took an interest in her in the first place.      


(check out more teasers here)

Release date is Monday 31 July, but you can preorder now!

Amazon  |   B&N  |  iBooks  |   Kobo  |  Google Play

Enter to WIN a print copy of IN WALKED TROUBLE on Goodreads!  CLICK HERE to enter!  Don't forget to add it to your TBR pile while you're there!




Surprise! Not only is IN WALKED TROUBLE, the second novel in my Under Covers romantic suspense series, coming out this summer, but I also have a novella releasing, too!  (They are releasing within one day of each other, so be prepared to get your Christina Elle fill!)

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I was asked by four really talented authors to participate in an anthology that centered around exotic locations.  Uh, destination love?? Count me in!  It was a no brainer for me to do because I got to write about one of my favorite things -- the beach!!

And so. . . ANYWHERE WITH YOU was born!

Here's the blurb:

Teegan Michaels has attended six weddings for her sorority sisters dateless and she refuses to go to the last one alone. Not when she has a perfectly respectable—not to mention hot—NFL player ready to save her from humiliation. Who cares that he’s the bride’s ex-fiancé and only wants to go for revenge? What's the worst that could happen?

Sounds fun, right? It was a blast to write. Since it's a novella, it's much shorter than my usual full-length novels, so it's the perfect read while you're on vacation! I can't wait for you to check it out. 

It releases on Tuesday 1 August, but it's up for preorder now as part of the DESTINATION: LOVE anthology. We're donating 20% of ALL sales to an organization called Final Salute Inc., who provide housing for homeless women veterans and their children. It's a really great cause, and we're excited to do our part to help. For a limited time, you can pick up ALL FIVE stories in the anthology for $0.99!

Want to read more? Maybe check out some promo teasers with some excerpts from the story? Head over to my ANYWHERE WITH YOU page for more information!

Preorder now!

Amazon  |   B&N  |  iBooks  |   Kobo 


As always, I would love to hear your thoughts about this, or any other story I wrote. Go to the contact page to send me a message or follow me on social media, or you can leave a review on your favorite book retailer's website.  

I hope you have an AWESOMELY BEAUTIFUL and SUNNY summer!





IN WALKED TROUBLE, book 2 in the Under Covers series, is coming your way July 31st!!  I'm so excited for you to check it out!

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Everything is being finalized right now--including the cover (stay tuned for that!)--but in the meantime, I'd love it if you saved the date and celebrated with me on release day!

This one was definitely a labor of love. It took a lot more time, effort and tears (lots of tears) to whip this book into something worthy of reading. I knew where I wanted to go with the plot, but neither my hero or heroine would cooperate. After lots of coaxing, they finally decided to tell me their story and it came together even better than I expected.

This one is Luke Calder's book. You might remember him from ON HER SIX. He's Ash's best friend and DEA teammate. Luke gets himself into trouble with Jose Serrano, the dangerous drug supplier from book one, who now wants to kill Luke out of revenge. 

Who is Luke's love interest, you might ask? Her name is Cassandra Stone and she's a guidance counselor for a Baltimore City high school. From the second she walks into Luke's life, she's nothing but trouble for him!  In all the best ways, of course!

I worked really hard to bring more action, more humor and a lot more heart to this one. And guess what??  The old ladies are making a big appearance in this book, too!!  Get ready for some more craziness from Estelle, Maybel, Celia and Rose!

I can't wait to hear what you all think! Check it out on July 31st!

If you haven't signed up for my newsletter yet, you can do that HERE.  It's a great place to get sneak peeks of my upcoming novels, snippets of things that inspire me, and prizes/giveaways!  

If you haven't had a chance to check out ON HER SIX, it's a great time to do that since all the characters from that book carry over into this one.  It's available now!

Getting Published is HARD

It is. 

There are so many factors that play into getting published:

Writing your novel.
Editing your novel.
Letting other people read and critique your novel.
Querying your novel.
Finding an agent.
Finding an editor.
Selling your novel.
Editing your novel again.
Editing again.
Rereading your novel. 
Hating your novel.
Loving your novel.
Hating it again.
Falling back in love with your novel.
Getting excited that your novel's pre-sale links are up.
Getting reviews from real readers.
Your book going on sale officially.
Sharing your story with others.
Enjoying the glow of being a first-time author!
Writing another book.

But if I could tell an aspiring author one thing that matters most about the entire publishing process, whether she is choosing traditional or self-publishing, it's have PATIENCE.  

This industry takes A LOT of patience. But it's totally worth it. The first time you see your book cover. The first time you see buy links. The first time you get a review--someone other than your mom or sister actually READ your freaking book! It's exciting.  

But it can feel like a roller coaster too. There are MANY times I told my husband I was going to give up. I wasn't sure I was good enough. I wasn't sure I had anything important enough that anyone would want to read. I wasn't sure I could do it.

I read a ton of stories from other authors who talked about their road to publication. How the road was bumpy. Some had hills, while others had pot holes, flat tires, and natural disasters to contend with. Hearing their stories gave me hope. I realized it's not meant to be easy. It's not meant to be quick. 

I had to earn it.

So if you're interested, or you need a boost of confidence like I did, below is my story of how I got published.

I started writing seriously around the summer of 2010. I was pregnant with my first son and something happened to my brain.  I'd always had a creative side, but it was amplified by a million while I was pregnant.  All I knew what that I had characters talking to me (got worried for awhile that I had actual voices in my head) and they had to be heard.  So I started writing. I listened to what they had to say about their struggles, their family, and their secrets. And I found that I really loved learning about them. And I especially loved using the things they told against them. I purposely put them in funny situations just to see how they would react.

But during that same time, since I was writing for my own enjoyment, I also realized that my stories didn't have a lot of structure. So I joined some writing groups and took online writing classes to learn about plotting.

And the entire time I was in the "learning" stage, I was dying. I didn't want to take the time to slow down and learn. I just wanted to get words down! I wanted to be published NOW! Which would explain why a lot of my early works had small bright spots, but as a complete novel they lacked depth and substance. 

I'd joined Romance Writers of America and Maryland Romance Writers, and found critique partners that were far more talented than me. But instead of backing away from their skill, I tried to leverage it. I asked questions. I listened to their advice. I read their work. And I started to see a difference in my own writing.

After about a year and a half, I had finally completed what I would call my first REAL novel. I felt more confident that it had three dimensional characters, it had the semblance of a plot, it had suspense, humor, and my voice. I feel like the last is the most important piece. Finding your voice as an author will help you more than anything. It's you. It's how you phrase things. No one can take that from you. 

So once I'd found my voice and my style of writing, and had a viable completed manuscript, I started querying agents. Also around the same time, I entered contests. RWA has a lot of great local chapter contests where you can submit the opening pages of your MS, and if you final, those pages can be viewed by judges, who are agents and editors in your genre. I focused a lot of my time on contests. I had a good number of requests for partials and fulls, and it really helped to boost my confidence. But it also helped me to see that I was on the right path. My writing was up to par. My hook was garnering interest. I was onto something.

I started to become more active on Twitter, attempting to network with other writers and experts in the industry. That's when I came across #PitchMadness.  It's a contest that Brenda Drake hosts with a slew of other really awesome authors and bloggers. I can't say enough about Brenda and her peeps.  Holy cow.  They go the extra mile for non-pubbed authors and really help give exposure to our work that I honestly feel we normally wouldn't get. It was a fantastic experience. I have to give major props to Summer Heacock, who is SUPER GIRL! She supported my pitch from day one.

If you're interested in reading my pitch, click here.  That contest was in September of 2013.  Three years after I started writing for real. Like I said, patience. I received a great number of requests from agents from that one pitch. It took two additional months to allow the agents to read through the partial or full they'd requested. I spent that time updating the MS based on their comments/wishes. Then November 2013 (Thanksgiving evening, actually) I received an email from my agent, saying that she'd like to represent me. I couldn't believe it. After three long years of blood, sweat and words, I had landed an agent!

But the story doesn't end there, folks. After I signed with her, we spent the next few months cleaning up the MS and making sure it shined. Then by January 2014, we had put my MS out on submission.

This is where the most patience comes into play.  This part of the process can feel like it takes FOREVER. For me, it was an entire year.  I signed with Entangled Publishing in January 2015. Five years after I'd started writing. And two years after I entered the querying/contest world. 

I continued to write to pass the time, honing my craft and working on stretching my abilities as an author. By January 2016, my editor and I were knee-deep in edits for my debut novel. And I'm happy to say that on Monday May 23, 2016, my novel, ON HER SIX, will officially be published!

Six years. It took me six full years of learning, trying, succeeding, failing, loving, hating, and learning some more before I was able to make it happen. I'll be a published author!!  

I know it might have taken much quicker for some authors, or much longer for others. To that I say CONGRATULATIONS. You didn't give up. You held onto your dream, and that's what matters. It's so easy to doubt yourself. To say that it isn't worth it.

But it is. Hold onto that feeling you get every time you sit down at the computer. Hold onto that feeling you get when you laugh/cry/love something your characters say or do. Hold onto it.

It's worth it.

Keep writing.


Cover Reveal, Pre-sale & Giveaway for ON HER SIX!

The day is here!  I can't believe it.  My debut novel has a cover and is available for preorder!  It officially releases on Monday 23 May, but you can grab your copy now! 


This was a really fun novel for me to write. It's based in Baltimore, which is where I'm from, so I used a lot of my own knowledge and memories to paint the setting for readers. 

Let's meet a few of the characters, shall we?

  • Samantha is a wanna-be  Baltimore cop
  • Ash is her brooding, but sexy DEA Agent neighbor
  • Sam's grandma runs the neighborhood watch with three other grannies
  • And Viktor Heinrich is a drug dealer determined to turn the entire country into incurable addicts

Sounds fun, right?

Check out the full description below for more sexy entertainment:

First rule of stake-outs – don’t fall in love. 

New neighbors are bad news in Samantha Harper’s experience. Especially ones as suspicious and brooding as the guy who just moved in next door. So when the dangerous but sexy stranger seems to be involved in something illegal—the aspiring cop in her takes action. If only she could stop thinking about how he looks naked...

All DEA agent Ash Cooper wants to do is lay low and survive this crap surveillance assignment. But after a run-in with his attractive neighbor, he realizes that’s going to be much harder than he planned. Keeping the woman out of trouble is hard enough, but keeping his hands off her is near impossible.


Want to WIN a print version of ON HER SIX?

My publisher is giving away a copy on Goodreads.
Check it out and enter or your chance to win!


How to Write in Deep POV

Deep Point of View is essentially getting into your character's head and letting the reader view the world as the character sees it and interprets it. It's the ultimate SHOW, DON'T TELL method.  It creates first-person intimacy with the reader even when writing in the third-person.

It means avoiding words like

felt, thought, saw, hoped

. . . and just recounting what the character actually felt, thought, saw, and hoped.


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Well, first because it pulls the reader deeper into the story. It invokes deeper emotion and attachment from the reader toward the characters and story.

Second, because the character wouldn't tell someone a story by saying, "When I opened the door, I saw the bird fly away." She would simply say, "When I opened the door, the bird flew away."

The key is to pull the reader into the story and let them experience the excitement, fear, suspense, and happiness with the character.


Not deep POV -

"He smelled her perfume and then felt her come up behind him and wrap her arms around his waist. He figured she was trying to butter him up."

Deep POV -

"Her alluring floral scent hit his nose seconds before heat infused his back as she wrapped her arms around him. Must be her way of trying to butter him up."

The first is a boring account that he smelled her and felt her come up behind him.  The second is a first-hand account in his words how her coming up from behind affected him. He's explaining to the reader how it made him feel, without saying, "It made me feel..."

Another example: 

When you hear a car horn, you don't think, "I hear a car horn."  Instead, your brain says, "That's a car horn."  Do the same with your writing.  Filter out the extra unneeded words that TELL the reader what the character is experiencing. Get right to what's happening instead.

You wouldn't think to yourself, "I think brussels sprouts are gross." You instead think, "Eww, brussels sprouts are gross!" 

One of the best books I've read about deep POV is Rivet Your Readers with Deep POV by Jill Elizabeth Nelson. She gives great, specific examples to show the difference between telling the reader what happened and showing them.

Here's one: 

Shallow POV: "Noxious fumes filled the air."

Deep POV: "Was that sulfur? Her nose scrunched and she pinched her nostrils closed with her thumb and index finger as she held her breath."

I like to think of deep POV as the character telling their best friend a story. Recounting exactly what happened in their own words.

I wouldn't tell my best friend a story and say, "I felt the ground shake so hard." Instead, I would tell her, "The ground shook so hard that I had to grab onto the wall for balance." See how the second example is more interesting? It also gives the reader a more specific gauge of how hard the ground shook.

What I love about deep POV is the fact that it's different for EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER.  

Based on who they are, where they're from, their education, background, beliefs, and values will dictate HOW the character describes the story. They will use certain dialect, profanity, and direct thought exclamations that are specific to them. Two characters who are in the same situation will react to and recount the situation MUCH different.

This is especially helpful because then the reader knows exactly who is talking without the use a dialogue tag. 

What is your experience with deep POV?  Have you tried it? I'd love to hear your thoughts about how you make it work in your writing.


How to Write a Query Letter to a Literary Agent

If you're going the traditional publishing route, meaning that you want to land a literary agent and want your novel pitched to big-NYC publishing houses, then you have to learn how to write a query letter.

This is probably even more important of a task than actually writing your novel. 

Why?  Because a query letter can make or break your chance at getting an agent or editor interested in your novel. If you don't peak their interest right away, then it won't matter how amazing your novel is.

There are four parts to a successful query letter: 

  1. The Intro/Hook
  2. The story (think back-cover blurb)
  3. Your credentials/accomplishments
  4. Call to action

The Intro/Hook

This is the opening paragraph in your query when you hint at what your novel is about and hook the agent/editor into wanting to read more. This is (some say) the most important piece of the query.  I would agree.  A good hook shows that you have a great handle on what your book is about and you know exactly where it fits into your niche.  Think about what it is you have to offer and what would make an agent/editor stop and take notice.

It's good practice to include the word count, genre, and title of your work in the opening paragraph. It also helps to offer if your work is similar to another author they either represent or might be aware of.

The Story

This is where you introduce the agent or editor to your story. It is usually two (but no more than three) paragraphs showing the plot, characters, and conflict. Keep it short and interesting. What is the theme of the novel? Who are the characters and what is their main struggle? If it's a romance novel, how does the romance either help or hinder the characters in achieving their goals? Did you summarize the story enough that it's intriguing without being confusing?

Summarizing an 80,000 word novel into two paragraphs can be a feat.  But if you know who your characters are, what their main goal is, and who/what is keeping them from it, then that's most of the battle. Agents and editors want to see that you recognize and can define your plot and conflict.

This is a great part of the query to think about what sets your story apart from others in its genre. Mention it. Sure, your story has to fit into a niche somewhere, but what is it that helps it stand out from just another romance novel?

Your Credentials/Accomplishments

This paragraph is where you'll speak about your experience and accomplishments. 

  • Did you final or win a writing contest? 
  • Do you belong to a local or national writing chapter? 
  • Did you work for a publishing house as an assistant editor?
  • Did you query this agent before with another project and they requested a partial or full? (This shows that they like your style and voice, the previous project just wasn't right for them, but the new project might be)

Don't be shy and don't be afraid to toot your own horn. Agents and editors want to know if your story resonated and/or generated interest with others. 

Call To Action

Invite the agent/editor to contact you if they'd like to read more. If you've been querying and have had interest from other agents, be sure to say that you have the partial or full MS out for consideration. (No need to say you're querying other agents. That's a given.) Again, if agents are requesting a partial or full of your MS it shows that your story is garnering interest from others and is worth taking a look. 


End the query thanking the agent profusely for their time. Make sure to include all of your social media links in your signature so they can see how serious you are about helping to promote your work. (This is of course IF the social media links you're including are up to date.)

Writing a query takes a lot of time and patience.  Most authors don't get it right on the first try. Even veteran authors have to write and rewrite their queries to get them just right.  That's why valuable critique partners or writing friends come in handy. You HAVE to have someone in the industry read through your letter to make sure it shines.  

You get one chance to make an impression -- make sure it's a great one.

Below is an example of a winning query I used for my debut novel, ON HER SIX (the original title was changed).

Dear Ms. NAME,

I am seeking representation for my 86,000 word single-title romantic suspense novel, ON HER SIX. This story has placed first in the Smoky Mountain Romance Writers Laurie Contest and the North Texas RWA Great Expectations Contest, and placed second in the Maryland Romance Writers Vixen Contest. It has also been requested in full by an editor at XXX Publishing House.


New neighbors are bad news according to Samantha Harper. Especially ones as suspicious and brooding as the one who just moved in next door. So when Sam learns of a new highly-addictive drug sweeping the city, threatening those she loves—and her neighbor seems to know everything about it—the aspiring cop in her takes action. Leading her elderly, all-female neighborhood watch in a stakeout to learn as much as they can about the new guy, the group instead sees more of their buff neighbor than they bargained for.


After his screw-up in South America, resulting in a demotion and loss of his team, all DEA agent Ash Cooper wants to do is lay low and survive this crappy surveillance assignment. But after a run-in with his annoying neighbor and a pack of meddling grannies, he realizes that’s going to be much harder than he planned. Doing all he can to keep the women at bay, Ash begins to repeat his past mistakes and does the one thing he swore he’d never do again—trust a beautiful woman.

I am an active member of Romance Writers of America, Maryland Romance Writers, as well as an online critique group. 


As stated on your submissions page, below you will find the first chapter and synopsis of my manuscript.


I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time.

There you have it.  Now go out and send yours off! Good luck!!

*If you'd like to check out my publishing journey, from writing and sending out my query letter, to getting an agent, and releasing my first published novel. You can read that here


How To Land a Literary Agent to Represent You and Your Novel

Common questions most published authors get are, "How did you do it? Where did you start? How did you get your agent?" 

There are a ton of avenues for publishing once you've completed your novel. For me, I knew I wanted to go the traditional publishing route by finding an agent and having him/her pitch my manuscript to a publishing house. I didn't have enough experience in publishing to even attempt to know where to start with editing, publishing, and marketing my novel on my own. I needed a team of experts helping me. (That's not to say you can't have a team of experts helping you self-publish. I just knew I wanted to start my author journey with traditional publishing.)  Keep in mind that just because you land an agent doesn't automatically mean you'll get published, either. But it does increases your chances a lot. 

Agents are a great direct connection to the publishing world. They know what editors want and keep track of trends. 

There are lots of great ways to meet an agent and pitch to them. 

Some common methods are: 

  • Write a query letter
  • Pitch an agent at a conference
  • Enter a writing contest 
  • Be referred by another author

Pitching to agents can feel like a full-time job sometimes because of the time it takes to write and rewrite your query letter, make a list of which agents fit into your genre/interests, keep track of who you've sent letters to or spoken with, and who requested a partial or full of your MS.

Here are some steps to follow in your attempt at finding your perfect literary agent: 

Step 1:

Write your query letter

Make sure it's succinct, shows off your voice, and has a killer hook. Share it with your network of writer friends, your family, your mom--whoever.  Show it to SOMEONE so they can read it for typos, grammar, and also to see if it entices them to want to read your novel. If they aren't dying to check out your novel, then you still have some work to do.  It needs to draw them in and make them salivate to read more.

Step 2: Check out online resources like Query Tracker to help you find agents that represent the genre in which your write. 

Step 3: Make a list of all the agents, their contact information, authors they rep that are similar to your style, and how to contact them. I chose agents who ONLY accepted email queries.  Much faster to send and get a response back. Plus, in this digital age, I wanted someone up with the modern times.

Step 4: Prioritize your list of agents from OH MY GOSH YES! to THEY WOULD BE GOOD to THEY SEEM DECENT.

Step 5: Start testing the waters and send your query letter out. I chose 5 agents from each of my priority lists to start.  I gauged how well my query letter was based on the reaction I received back from them. If I received very few requests for a partial or full the first time I sent the letter out, I knew I had to go back to the drawing board. If I received some interest, I sent my letter out to 5 more agents on each priority list to test again. By the end of my list, I had a great response rate for partials or fulls.

Step 6: Keep track of the comments you're getting back, requests for partials or fulls, and rejections. It's not cool to resend your query to an agent if they've already responded once. Also, keep track when you sent your MS to agents so you can follow up.  Agents are busy, so don't send your MS out today and then expect a response back by next weekend. They need at least 4 weeks, some might ask for even longer. Once a reasonable amount of time has passed and you haven't heard anything, it's okay to follow up. Check out the agent's website to see if they list their anticipated response times. Most do.

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Step 7: If you get serious interest in your MS (and/or an agent would like to represent you), it's common courtesy to reach out to the agents who currently have your partial or full, and let them know so they can decide if they would like to have a chance to read it. Most will move your MS up in the queue and get to it quicker.  But DO NOT tell them you have interest or an offer from another agent if you really don't. That's definitely a NO-NO.

Step 8: Don't simply sign with an agent just because they offered representation. Make sure you and said agent are a great fit. Make sure you feel confident that they understand your desires for this business. Make sure they are the best-suited person to rep you and speak for you. 

Step 9: Ask questions to the prospective agent.

There are questions you can ask the offering agent(s) to help you decide if they are your best candidate: 

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  • What does the agent like best about your project?
  • Does the agent feel the project is ready for submission to publishers or will he/she require revisions?
  • If revisions are needed, are they small things or does he/she want a major plot or character development change?
  • Which publishing houses does the agent believe would be a good fit for your book? 
  • How many editors does he/she plan to pitch in the first round of submissions? (six or more at one time is average)
  • What is their communication strategy like? How often will he/she update you regarding the status of your submissions?
  • Is the agent interested in only this project? Or are they interested in your future books too?
  • Does the agency handle the sale of subsidiary rights (foreign, film, audio, translation)? 
  • What is their success rate? What projects have they successfully sold recently?
  • Can they offer referrals of current or previous clients that you can reach out to?

Step 10: Read and review the agent and author contract to make sure you can comply and agree with everything. There are standards of commission that agents earn, so check what the standard is in your market/genre. Most are 20% from what your publisher pays you.

Step 11: Once you've made your selection, be sure to reach out to the other agents you've queried and let them know that your project is no longer available for consideration. This is a SMALL industry. Don't be inconsiderate. 

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Step 12: Don't stop writing. Submitting your MS to publishers TAKES TIME.  Don't sit around waiting for word back. Keep your brain active and start working on another novel. It'll help you to pass the time quicker, plus it gives you a leg up if/when publishers want to see more work from you.

Step 13: Use your agent as a resource.  They are the expert when it comes to dealing with publishing houses. That's what you're paying him/her for. Get them involved in any hairy situation.

Step 14: Congratulations on your accomplishment!! Be proud of your hard work and that others are appreciating it.  Keep learning, keep honing your craft, and keep writing.

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*If you'd like to check out my publishing journey, from writing and sending out my query letter, to getting an agent, and releasing my first published novel. You can read that here