Sunday, November 29, 2015

Puberty Raises Its Ugly Head

Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and didn't overindulge like some people (who shall remain nameless) seem to do every year. I had a pretty great week considering I finished the prequel to my first novel that I'm redoing as a trilogy. :-) I'm really excited about it because it's unique in that it features a middle grade novel, a young adult novel, and a new adult novel. More about it later.

This week's Snippet Sunday post from Shades of Blue takes place while Sam and JoJo are swimming at the creek with a bunch of kids from school during Spring Break. A loud-mouthed jerk named Chip Wiley snaps JoJo's bathing suit top and breaks it, so she's swimming in her T-shirt. Chip starts teasing her about putting some Band-Aids on the mosquito bites on her chest, and Sam is not amused.

Sam’s eyes turned a strange dark-green shade, and he walked over to the rope swing where Chip and his two moron friends were taking turns. Without another word, Sam hauled off and punched Chip right in the stomach. I almost swallowed a minnow when he did it.

Chip’s eyes got real big and his mouth kept moving the way it always did, but for once nothing was coming out. Danny and Freddy did what morons do best—laughed like a couple of hyenas. Sam said something to Chip I couldn’t hear, then he dove into the water. When he came up next to me a few seconds later, I was still gawking at him for punching Chip.

“Come on, JoJo. Let’s get outta here.”

Hmm... Sam and JoJo have only been best friends until now, but it looks like "the times they are a-changing" thanks to puberty. Wonder how JoJo will take it? Stay tuned to find out. Or you can just buy you own copy of Shades of Blue here.

~Stay true to yourself and your dreams will come true!

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Snippets, Wishes and New Releases

Cover photo by Tieshka Smith/Mom of Three Photography

Yay, I finally made it back to participating in Snippet Sunday just in time to reintroduce my novel, Shades of Blue. This book was still just a WIP the last time I did a Snippet Sunday post, but I finally got my butt in gear and finished it! It's another one of my coming-of-age/YA/mystery/whatever-the-hell-Joyce-likes-to-write books that didn't fit neatly into any genre, but I love the story and refused to change it just to fit in (kinda like me and all my characters!) I decided to publish it myself and couldn't be happier about the decision.

My first snippet is from the opening of the book so that everyone can meet Sam and JoJo, the young couple so perfectly depicted by the photo on the cover.

The day I saw the bruises on Sam’s back, I knew his stepfather was beating him. I also knew somebody needed to kill the SOB for it. I just didn’t know who, when, or how.

Looking back on it now, I realize Sam had already been acting strange for a while that year. I thought it was just some kind of hormonal craziness he was going through from being fourteen. Then I saw the bruises.

Of course, I’d known Sam was different from other boys since the day he’d moved in next door, when he was just a little five-year-old blond kid staring at me through the fence. He always seemed older than me, even though our birthdays were only two days apart.

I hope you'll want to get to know these two precocious teens a lot better as they deal with some very adult issues, as if growing up and falling in love isn't hard enough.

And now is the perfect time to buy your own copy of the Kindle ebook! Not only is it on sale right now for 99 cents, when you use the link below, you can enter for a chance to win a $400 Amazon Shopping Spree! No purchase necessary to enter or win, but every purchase supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation via the Amazon Smile program!

Go here to purchase your copy of Shades of Blue. Just scroll down and click on my book cover, and don't forget to fill out the Rafflecopter form to enter the giveaway. Buy a few more books while you're there since every purchase helps to make a sick child's wish come true! :-)

~Stay true to yourself and your dreams will come true!

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Writing Goals: Love 'Em or Hate 'Em?

Since we're still within the time period I like to call the "Resolution Rubicon," I thought a post about writing goals would be quite apropos. Plus it would allow me to keep my resolution to have at least one new blog post a month. ;-)

I never used to set writing goals (other than to finish the book I was writing and then start another one!) but we started writing down monthly goals in my local writers' guild then reporting to the group the following month on whether or not we'd met them. I really liked having that accountability. Of course, I try to keep my goals easily within reach (write one chapter of my WIP and work on editing), but my intention is to challenge myself a little more each month.

So when my fellow Wild Rose Press author, Louise Lyndon, was looking for blogs to visit on her blog tour for Of Love and Vengeance, I thought this topic would make a great guest post.

Welcome, Louise. What say you?

When Joyce first approached me about writing a post on setting goals for the new year, I am not going to lie to you, it sent me into a tailspin. I am a PANTSTER. I do not plan. I started to hyperventilate—perhaps I could make something up (after all, I am a fiction author!) But, once I had a coffee with an obscene amount of sugar, I calmed down enough to realise that yes, even though I am a pantster, I also do plan. Kind of...

Let me start off by saying I personally think there is no right way or wrong way to set goals. Everyone is different, so it stands to reason that everyone will have different ways to plan their goals. What I do think is, it is important to have goals, because without goals how do you know where you’re going?

But what happens if the thought of trying to work out what you’re going to do for the next 365 days (a little less now, given today’s date!) sends you to the nearest darkened corner with your thumb in your mouth, rocking back and forth?

Well, don’t plan for the next three hundred and something days. For me, that is too far in advance and too big to comprehend. Break it down into manageable chunks. What is it you want to do? How will you achieve it? Can you measure whether or not you have achieved your goal? What small steps do you need to make that will get you closer to your end goal?

For me, I want to finish writing the follow up to Of Love and Vengeance. I want to be able to have that with my publisher by the end of March at the latest. So, in the next 60 days, I need to write about 42,700 words. How am I going to achieve that? It’s all very well saying that’s what I want to do, but doing it is a different story. Okay, so here goes.

I need to be realistic. I have a day job and I know I am not going to come home after a hard day in the office and write for eight hours. That’s not going to happen, so why set that as a goal? That would just be setting yourself up to fail. What I do know is that I reckon I can manage two hours of writing after work. I also know I am easily distracted (curse you, Dr. Phil—I have to get my daily fix!) but that is a wasted hour. So, I have set my daily goal to go to the library straight after work. I do not go home first, I do not just ‘have a rest’ or get distracted by Dr Phil and then go to the library—do not pass go, do not collect $200—I go straight to the library. Goal one achieved. Go to the library.

OK, so I am now at the library. I cannot stare at a blank screen for two hours. How much do I need to write in those two hours to reach my end goal of 42,700 words? 711.66 words to be exact. Give or take. Wow, I can actually do that! A little over 700 words in two hours—that’s only 350 words an hour! Hmm, me thinks this 42,700 is suddenly manageable, achievable, and measurable. Suddenly needing to write such a large chunk of words isn’t so daunting. Why? Because I’ve broken the end goal into smaller goals. The smaller goal is manageable (realistically speaking.) My goal to write 700 words is measurable because, well, we have word count to count the words!

So, this is how a pantster, scared to look too far into the year ahead, sets goals and plans how to achieve them.

Why not share your goal-setting stories? I would love to hear how you all not only set your goals, but how you achieve them as well!

You can contact Louise by e-mail at, or find her on her Web site, Facebook, or Twitter. And be sure to check out her book here and enter below to win a copy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~Stay true to yourself and your dreams will come true!

Joyce's Web site
Follow me on Twitter: @JoyceScarbrough
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Everything Happens For a Reason

Through a series of unfortunate events, two of my publishers had to close their doors last year. I went from having three books available to having none.

That was hard.

Now, over a year later, I'm thrilled to announce that I have four books available! I found a new home for my novel Symmetry with The Wild Rose Press, I signed a contract for my YA novel After Me with Buzz Books USA, and I ventured into the wilds of Kindle Direct Publishing to make my first two novels, True Blue Forever and Different Roads, available again as e-books. You can buy them all here.

I never thought self-publishing was for me, but I fell in love with the KDP process so much that I've also decided to publish my short stories as free Kindle downloads to attract more readers for my books. And since I can do my own editing and formatting and my daughter is a graphic design major who can make totally awesome book covers for me, I haven't spent a dime so far. (She made that beautiful logo for me above and also built me a kickass Web site you can see here.)

Does this mean I won't be submitting my future manuscripts to agents or publishers? No. But it does guarantee that every single book I write in the future will be published, no matter what.

And that's a good feeling.

~Stay true to yourself and your dreams will come true!

Joyce's Web site
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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Happy Book Birthday to Me!

So excited that my orphaned EPIC finalist Symmetry has been reborn thanks to my new publisher The Wild Rose Press. It released to Amazon Kindle Select in March, and today marks its worldwide release! Here's the blurb and an excerpt.

Jessica Cassady is a copyeditor for a small newspaper in Georgia where her husband Lee is a sportswriter. When he attends a convention in New York, Jess is shocked when she calls his room in the middle of the night and a woman answers. Lee swears things aren't what they seem, but Jess isn't so sure and kicks him out. Things become even more complicated when a sweet man from her past named Noah Hamilton shows up and makes Lee even more determined to get Jess back. Should she forego the beefcake brigade and give the sensitive type a try like her cat and her best friend Deb want her to do, or should she give in to the addictive rush she's always felt whenever she's close to Lee? It's enough to make any girl pull out her hair!

Jess always woke a second before she could complete the castration. Curses, foiled again. She blinked at the red numbers projected onto her ceiling by the clock on her night stand—4:23 a.m. Plenty of time to go back to sleep and finish the job, but she knew it was useless. She’d only end up dreaming about giving birth to a canned ham or grocery shopping in her pajamas, and Lee’s manhood would escape the knife again.

She snuggled against the body pillow occupying his place beside her in bed and got an indignant rowl from the Siamese cat curled up there. Jess smiled at the thought of what Lee would say about letting Ming sleep with her and decided maybe she’d tell him he’d been replaced by his feline nemesis when she saw him at the meeting later that morning.

She fell asleep reminding herself of how much better off she was without her two-timing, cat-hating, conceited jerk of a husband, and she dreamed he made love to her on the conference table at work, castration the furthest thing from her mind.

God, she hated him.

Five hours later, she sat across from Lee in the conference room at the Espanola Times and tried to focus on Thad Crandall’s weekly lecture about deadlines. If she hadn’t known better, she would have thought Lee knew what she’d dreamed about him from the way he kept nudging her with his foot under the table and flashing that damn blond-Adonis smile at her.

She tried to suppress the dream images of his face over hers, but every time she looked at him, her mind became a private movie screen featuring the world premiere of Position: Impossible. Shackled as she was with a redhead’s proclivity for blushing, she knew he noticed her agitation and probably thought it was from simply being near him.

Don't you hate it when your heart and your head (and a few other body parts) are at war with each other? Hope you enjoyed the excerpt. You can read the rest for 50% off right now, so get your copy here!

~Stay true to yourself and your dreams will come true!

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Monday, June 02, 2014

Big Easy Blog Tour

Welcome to the Big Easy Blog Tour, where writers talk about their writing process and the projects they're working on right now. I was suckered into . . . er, I mean invited to join the tour by my friend and fellow Wild Rose Press author Gloria Davidson Marlow who writes wonderfully chilling romantic suspense books that will keep you up reading all night.

Okay, on to the questions we're all supposed to answer.

1. What am I working on?

In between promotional efforts for my women's fiction book Symmetry and my YA novel After Me that's coming out this summer, I'm redoing my first novel, True Blue Forever, as a trilogy that includes a prequel about the main characters when they were children. This means I'm in the equivalent of Writer Heaven. Not only do I get to revisit my four favorite characters, I get to take a trip back in time to the days of playing outside until the streetlights came on, pinky swears and lifelong friendships, first loves and first kisses, broken hearts and broken promises, and that moment when you meet the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with and can't tell anyone because you're both eleven years old.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Actually, fitting my books into any one genre has always been a problem for me. One reason is that I have a penchant for writing about young characters dealing with adult issues. And although all my books include a love story that's central to the plot, they also feature sub-plots and other relationship issues for the hero/heroine that keep the books from fitting neatly into the required structure for romance novels. This has caused me a few problems in the past when pitching them to publishers and also with reviewers who were expecting a category romance and didn't get it. That's regrettable, but that's me. I like multi-dimensional plots when I'm reading, so that's the only way I can write mine.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Two reasons: First, I write stories that entertain me and just hope others will enjoy them as well. I've been making up stories to entertain myself since I was four years old. Sometimes I couldn't wait until bedtime so I could lie in the dark and envision the stories in my head. It wasn't until many years later when I began plotting my first novel that I realized I'd been plotting books all my life. The only difference is that now I write them down. This is why I don't really understand it when writers say they're so sick of their own book by the time it's published that they never want to read it again. I never get tired of reading my own books because I wrote them to entertain myself in the first place.

Second, I follow that age-old advice for writers to "write what you know." I write about epic loves that were meant to be because that's the only kind I know. My husband is my hero, the love of my life, and my absolute favorite person in the world. My characters might all be fictional people, but the love between them is the real thing. And since everybody in my family is a wise-cracking comedian, my books always have plenty of humor in them too.

However, I guess I probably need to point out here that the psychotic killer and other general scumbags in my upcoming YA novel After Me do NOT come from my real life. Neither does the smartass dead girl. Well, the dead part.

4. How does my writing process work?

I always start with the characters. After I have a clear picture of my protagonist and the other main characters in my head and my Blue Spiral Notebook, I ask myself the "what ifs?" What if this happened to them? What if somebody was trying to do this to them? What if they had to do this and couldn't get out of it? Etcetera, etcetera. Then I write a narrative overview of all the major plot points, making sure I have a strong beginning, middle and ending. This ensures that I don't get halfway through a book and stop because I don't know how to end it.

However, the overview sometimes changes as the actual scenes are written, because the characters often decide they don't want to do what I had planned for them. Sometimes the bad guys steal my heart and become not-so-bad guys. Sometimes my heroine doesn't end up with the guy I thought she'd pick. And sometimes someone just has to die no matter how hard I try to save them. When these things happen, I go back and adjust the overview to match the new plot developments.

And although I don't get stuck without an ending, I sometimes get stuck between how to get from Major Plot Point A to Major Plot Point B. I once left a pair of characters in a Jacuzzi for two weeks while I figured out what happened in their next scene. (Aside from a lot of wrinkled skin, they didn't seem to mind it too much. They were naked, after all.)

Luckily, I found a solution for when I find myself in one of those literary bogs. I use a tip I got from the amazing Laurie Halse Anderson and make a list of 25 things that could happen next, making sure that at least some of them are nonsensical. This works every time and has resulted in some of my favorite scenes.

Once I have the first draft completed, I try to let it sit for a couple of weeks before I start editing and revising, but I don't always make it that long because I actually love the editing process. When I do begin editing, I print out the manuscript so I can read it aloud to myself and Princess Tilly, my rescued Pomeranian. Not only does this do wonders for spotting stilted dialogue and problems with flow, Tilly thinks I'm the greatest writer in the world, so it also does wonders for my ego.

So that's the way I do it! Next up on the tour will be these talented ladies who'll tell you next Monday, June 9, all about their own writing processes and their upcoming books.

Lee Ann Ward -- Lee Ann is a former Senior Editor for a digital romance publisher and a multi-published author of adult and YA fiction. She's won several awards for her fiction and can't remember a time when she wasn't writing, having completed her first novel at the age of sixteen. She has four gorgeous sons, a sweetheart of a husband, two lazy cats, and the most rambunctious poodle in existence.

Brenda Barry -- Brenda is the author of a four-part saga of star-crossed lovers separated by the war in Vietnam titled Seasons of Love and War. Her husband was in the military for 21 years and gave her help and encouragement while writing her novel. They now live in Roseburg, Oregon, and when Brenda's not writing she can normally be found walking the trails with her husband and their little dachshund or traveling in their RV.

Angela Quarles -- Angela works at an independent bookstore and lives in a historic house in the beautiful and quirky town of Mobile, Alabama, with her two matched gray cats, Darcy and Bingley. When she's not writing, she enjoys the usual stuff like gardening, reading, hanging out, eating, drinking, chasing squirrels out of the walls and creating the occasional knitted scarf. She's had a varied career, including website programming and directing a small local history museum. She has a B.A. in Anthropology and International Studies with a minor in German from Emory University, and she has a Masters in Heritage Preservation from Georgia State University. She was an exchange student to Finland in high school and studied abroad in Vienna one summer in college. She is represented by Maura Kye-Casella at Don Congdon Associates, Inc.

~Stay true to yourself and your dreams will come true!

Follow me on Twitter: @JoyceScarbrough
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spanning the Testosterone Scale

Welcome back to Sneak Peek Sunday!

My release party on Facebook this past Thursday was so much fun! Thanks to everyone who came, and congratulations to all the game winners. This week's excerpt from Symmetry features the first encounter between Jess's estranged husband and the soft-spoken man from her past. Just as Jess and Noah get home from their date, Lee shows up unexpectedly and loses it when he realizes that the "old friend" Jess had plans with isn't a girlfriend.

“Well, it shouldn’t make a difference to you either way, Lee, because we’re getting a divorce. What I do is none of your business anymore.” She turned to walk back to Noah, who looked as though he wished the Earth would open up and swallow him.

Lee grabbed her arm and stopped her. “Like hell it’s not my business! You’re still my wife, and I’m not letting any man put his hands on you!”

She whirled around to face him again. “Well, maybe I’ll come up with some story about being drugged and not knowing what I’m doing, then it won’t matter. Right, Lee?”

He moved her aside and started toward Noah. “Why don’t we see if your boyfriend’s willing to get his ass kicked for you!”

Noah held up his hands and took a step back. “Look, I don’t want any trouble with you, but I intend to keep seeing Jess.”

“Oh, really?” Lee sneered at him. “Well, I intend to break your face!”

Will Jess go back to Team Hunk, or will she defect to Team Sensitive? Buy your own copy of Symmetry to find out! And please also check out the other Sneak Peekers. Loads of talent on this list!

~Stay true to yourself and your dreams will come true!

Follow me on Twitter: @JoyceScarbrough
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