Sunday, December 25, 2011

You Are Beautiful!

I originally wrote this as a guest post for The Elliot Review as part of my blog tour, but wanted to upload it here for those of you who may have missed it. I wrote it with fellow writers in mind. I hope you'll be encouraged by it! Best wishes for a happy new year!

I’ll start by saying every step toward Saving Elizabeth’s publication has been a milestone – a smoothing of the rough edges each writer begins his journey with, but there are many rough edges yet to be smoothed. I’m not convinced there will ever come a time when any of us step back, look at ourselves in the mirror and think there’s no sand papering needed … no growth left to do. As a matter of fact, one of my jagged edges, “fear of man,” recently reared its ugly head during the publication of Saving Elizabeth. As much as I’d like to tell you otherwise, what people think or say means a lot to me….more than it probably should. People -pleasing was ingrained in me at an early age, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve done my best to make everyone happy, despite how unhappy living up to others’ expectations may have made me. I’m a perfectionist, to say the least, but I’m also a very passionate person who wears her emotions on her sleeve. When combined, those two character traits can create a wonderful novel. Unfortunately, they can also create a doubtful, nervous author who’s sometimes afraid of reading reviews. I imagine I’m not alone in these character traits. Have you ever been afraid to share your writing with others?

I thought so.

I wish I could give you an easy solution that would erase your fears. Someone once said that when a writer screams at the page, the reader only hears a whisper. How true that is! Writers are passionate people by design. Our emotions must lie close to the surface in order for us to easily tap into them and create something that moves readers. We feel deeply, which means rejection often crushes us to the core. There’s no built in emotional switch that can be flipped on when it’s time to write, and then flipped off when our work is finally presented to the world. We must realize we are who we are. Our work is beautiful, regardless of what others have to say about it. It always has been, and always will be because essentially, it’s us on the page. It’s our thoughts, our ideas, our emotions, our desires that make up our stories, and what right does anyone have to tell us that we are not beautiful? At a recent writing conference, Tosca Lee shared this quote by Marianne Williamson. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

Translation? When you shove your writing in a drawer because you’re afraid of what people will say, remember, you and your writing are both brilliant. Keep dreaming. Keep writing. Keep bleeding on the page despite what others might think. A few may not be ready for it, but there are others out there who NEED to hear your stories. Happy writing! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Saving Elizabeth Update

Hi, everyone! We're in the middle of this blog tour, and as you can imagine, things are busy, busy, busy! It seems right when I think I'm finished with all of the interviews and guest posts another one rolls in. Please, don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining at all. The more the merrier in my opinion, so keep sending those requests! I'm more than happy to share myself, and my writing with you guys. 

I wish I had the time to write a longer, more elaborate post, but unfortunately, time will not allow it. I do want to let you know how things are going with Saving Elizabeth since its release. So far, I've gotten nothing but wonderful reviews from those who have read it. *breathes a sigh of relief* People seem to be reading it and loving it. I'm so excited! Check out what people are saying, and join in my excitement! 

  "I LOVE RIEL!!! He is so heart-breakingly wonderful. Amy’s writing could take me from laughter to tears to chills in a snap. Saving Elizabeth is a sweet, soulful, and engaging read." 
Author Wendy Higgins (Sweet Evil) - YAtopia Review

"For the teens in the world who LOVED the Twilight series and the parents that wished their children were reading more about their "Faith". This book is the perfect blend for young adults who love to read about adventure, drama, and a great guy! " DailyBolton - Amazon

"A great book for fans of "Unearthly" by Cynthia Hand, "Halo" by Alexandra  Adornetto, and "Angel Burn" by L.A. Weatherly."  Michelle D. -  YA Literature Review

"I must say I am amazed! Amy's writing style is wonderful!"
Angela Binkerd - Goodreads

"Amy Machelle hit a HOMERUN with the book !"  Blaine Green - Goodreads

"This is a very clean and sweet story.  It illustrates the power of Satan and how he tempts and tries  humans.  There are some powerful statements and illustrations geared to empower teens in their quest to a life overcoming temptation."
Lisa - Bookworm Lisa Reviews

On top of the awesome reviews, Saving Elizabeth currently has 4.65 out of five stars on Goodreads, and is ranked  51st out of 159 books on the Goodreads Clean Teen Fiction (Christian) list. It's currently tied with The Hobbit for 10th place on the Goodreads Great Christian Fiction for Children and Young Adults List. Eeeek!!!!! (Go cast your vote!)

 
I guess that catches you up on everything! I am so very blessed and thankful for the wonderful opportunites I've had recently to share my work. Oh, there are a couple of stops left on our blog tour! Check out my website for a schedule. I'd love it if you'd stop by and say hello! Best wishes to you all, and merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Reviews, Interviews & Blog Tours! Oh, My!

Click Picture for Tour Schedule


That's right! Can you believe it? I know! I'm still in shock! The blog tour is about to kick off, and I'm so excited, yet nervous at the same time. Those of you who have followed me through this journey know I've been very open about the roller coaster of emotions I've been on since first putting pen to paper. Each baby step taken toward publication has been riddled with fear and excitement, and this one is no different. I've worked very hard to preen my "baby" and prepare her for the world. Now, she's ready to take flight, but I can't help but wonder if I've done enough to help her in this journey. My mind is filled with countless doubts.

What will people think? 

How will they respond?

Will Saving Elizabeth be something people force into the hands of their friends to read, or will it be something they regret spending their time on and toss on a virtual shelf never to visit again? 

I guess we'll soon find out! 


There's a lot I haven't known about this process, and still don't know, but one thing is certain.  It's about time the world hears Elizabeth's story! So grab a front row seat. Open your hearts and prepare your minds for the spiritual tug-of-war you're about to experience. The roller coaster isn't over yet, people. In fact, it's just beginning. Step in, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Giving Thanks

As I type this, I am stuffed to the brim with all of the yummy Thanksgiving foods my family has prepared for the holiday season. My family, like many others, didn't just celebrate on Thursday. We've had three days of food, family, and fun. As the festivities come to an end, I can't help but reflect on all of the many reasons I'm thankful this holiday season. I'm thankful for God and the gift of his Son. I'm thankful for my wonderful family who has supported me throughout my life no matter what. I'm thankful for my sweet daughter and the joy she brings each and every day. I'm thankful for friends who will laugh with me during good times, and cry with me during bad. I'm thankful for the opportunity, inspiration, and ability to write and put ideas onto paper. I'm thankful for people who believe in my writing enough to take a chance on it, and I'm thankful for the patience those people have shown with a "newbie." Last, but certainly not least, I'm thankful for you guys. It's such a blessing to know you're just as invested in this journey as I am. I hope you've all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. May God continue to bless you in all that you do! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My First Author Interview

I was blessed recently to be interviewed for the first time by a fellow inkpopper/blogger. I thought Raven did such an amazing job with the questions that I've posted the interview here for you guys. Hope you enjoy!


Interview with Author Amy Machelle
 by Raven Paramour
Amy Machelle is a first grade teacher who uses writing to escape her hectic days of tying shoelaces, opening ketchup packets, and begging children to please use tissues instead of their sleeves. While writing has always been a hobby for her, it swiftly turned into an obsession during Fall of 2009. That’s when she began work on her young adult debut novel, Saving Elizabeth. She uploaded the first half of the novel to Inkpop.com in March of 2010. It was a huge success, and by June of that year it had been voted a top 5 pick, winning a review from one of the HarperCollins editors. Once Amy received the critique, she eited the manuscript according to the review, and then went to work querying agents. Like most writers, she dreamt of one day having her work published, but after several rejections she quickly realized the disheartening statistics were true. Literary agencies typically reject 99.5% of all submissions they receive. That means agencies who get close to 500 queries a month only invite around 50 of those querying authors to send proposals for review. Out of those fifty, it’s estimated only one, sometimes two manuscripts are ready to be presented to publishers.
Even with the odds stacked against her, Amy determined to have her work published. After months of searching for agents, emailing them, and patiently waiting for replies, the polite rejection letters began to pile up. Although some might have considered self publishing, Amy had her heart set on traditional publishing, and didn’t let the rejections get her down.  After her 15th rejection letter, Amy found Tell Tale Publishing, a publisher that accepts unsolicited manuscripts. To her delight, she got a response from Patricia Lazarus, the editor of their Thistle young adult imprint. Patricia expressed interest in Saving Elizabeth and ultimately offered Amy a publishing contract. Allow me to introduce the lovely, Amy Machelle.

Amy: Thank you so much for having me, Raven! I’m so excited to be here!
Raven: Could you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Amy: Sure! I’d be glad to, although, I’m afraid I’m not too interesting. I’m your run-of-the-mill 29 year old  wife, mother, and teacher. I just also happen to write. When I’m not having tea parties with my little girl, expanding the minds of seven year olds, or writing about demonic forces, you can find me curled up on the couch with a good book. I enjoy going to the theater with my hubby, rolling the windows of my Jeep down on the way home from work, and turning my radio up too loud. I’m also addicted to all things chocolate.   
Raven: How did you find Inkpop? Did you hear about it from a friend or was it an accidental discovery?
Amy: It was actually an accidental discovery. I was searching online, prematurely, for publishing options when I ran across Inkpop’s sister site, Authonomy. I uploaded a couple of chapters of Saving Elizabeth there, but quickly learned it wasn’t for me. I noticed that several of Authonomy’s members also had their work uploaded to Inkpop, so I decided to check it out. Saving Elizabeth was a perfect fit, and it quickly found a large fan base with Inkpop’s young adult community.
Raven: So Amy, what inspired you to write Saving Elizabeth?
Amy: My husband is a youth pastor, and the Twilight craze hit his youth group pretty hard, so much so that the girls started to bring their copies of Twilight to church instead of their Bibles. They were seriously reading it during church services. I couldn’t imagine what in the world would have them so captivated, so I bought all of the books and read them for myself. I finished the entire series in two weeks, and decided to search our local Christian bookstores for Christian young adult fiction that would capture them like Twilight, but reinforce much of what my husband was teaching them during youth group. I came up empty handed. The Christian book stores weren’t offering young adults much in the way of fiction. As a matter of fact, their young adult sections were minute in comparison to their adult sections. That’s when I made it my mission to write something that would appeal to the younger generation. 
Raven: Upon reading Saving Elizabeth, I got a feeling that this was based off something in reality. What I mean by that is did you ever struggle with your faith like Elizabeth? Or rather, do you know someone like her?
Amy: We’re only human, and I think we all struggle with our faith from time to time. I’m no exception. I’ve not struggled as greatly as Elizabeth, but there are times when I’ve asked God why certain things have happened in my life. Luckily, He’s God, and He’s big enough to handle my occasional doubts.  He’s great at reminding me He’s always been there for me, and always will be.
Raven: From previous conversations, you said that you planned on writing a sequel for Saving Elizabeth. When did it come to you to write a sequel?
Amy: The thought of a sequel was always in the back of my mind, but it was definite during the completion of the last couple of chapters of Saving Elizabeth that the story would continue. Elizabeth isn’t finished telling her story yet, and I’m okay with that.
Raven: Each writer has a unique style of writing a novel. Some listen to music, some work in complete silence, or some might watch movies or read books for inspiration. Did you ever come up with a playlist/soundtrack for Saving Elizabeth?
Amy: I have to write in silence. I’ve tried to be the cool author who listens to music during writing, but it just doesn’t work for me. My husband swears I have a touch of ADHD. I do, however, listen to music between chapters. It just helps prepare me emotionally for what I’m about to write. The songs I listen to are specific to certain events in the story and are varied. At the beginning of Saving Elizabeth, I listened to Casting Crowns’ Somewhere in the Middle. For me, it just summed up how Elizabeth felt. In the middle of the novel when Elizabeth began to display her anger, I listened to a lot of Evanescence. Toward the end, it was A Fine Frenzy. I won’t tell you which song by them. I don’t want to give away too much. I’ll let you see if you can figure it out. ;o)
Raven: Did you do any outlines for Saving Elizabeth or did you allow the story to write itself?
Amy: I’m a complete pantster. There were no outlines. The story just evolved.
Raven: Since Saving Elizabeth has religious undertones, how do you plan on addressing any issues that might come up?
Amy: This is something I’ve thought about a lot, and I’m prepared for backlash. It’s going to hurt, but I stand by my writing 100%. Saving Elizabeth sheds light on the spiritual realm and the battle between good and evil that I believe takes place for us every day. There’s also a message of grace and redemption that I think the world desperately needs to hear. If someone lets the fiction aspect of the story overshadow that, then they’ve missed the point altogether. I realize that some of the things I’ve portrayed in the novel might be controversial, especially within the Christian community, but if people can’t separate fiction from truth, then they should stick to nonfiction. 
Raven: If Saving Elizabeth was made into a movie within six months from now, who would you want to be in the movie?
Amy: Oh, no! You’ve asked the one question I can’t answer completely! My friends and I have talked about this several times, and we can never agree. For Elizabeth, I think I’d pick Nina Dobrev from The Vampire Diaries. For Melissa, it would have to be Julianne Moore. I’d pick Alec Baldwin for Sam, and I might choose Alexander Ludwig for Riel. That one is still up in the air, and don’t ask me who I’d choose for Brad or Lucifer. I have no idea!!!!
Raven: On your blog, you said that the photographer Alex Stoddard had a picture called “The Forgotten Housewife” really resembled the internal struggles that Elizabeth went through in the story. Are there any other photos and or images that really connected to you or to Saving Elizabeth?
Amy: Alex Stoddard is AMAZING, and many of his photographs really spoke to me during the writing of this novel. His photograph entitled, Arrival reminds me of Riel. Your Turn With God reminds me of the point in the novel where Elizabeth talks to God for the first time since her father’s death. There are many. Check out Alex’s work! It’s awesome!
Raven: You have written a short story for Beyond the Diaper Bag which is a collection of humorous stores, inspirational moments, and helpful tips from real moms. May I ask how many children do you have?
Amy: If you don’t count the seventeen kids I mother/teach every day in my classroom, then I only have one little girl. She just turned 4 and she’s absolutely amazing! J
Raven: Have you been working on Saving Sarah? An idea was posted on your blog called Saving Sarah. Is it related to the Saving Elizabeth series or is a different concept?
Amy: I was toying with that idea before I really dove into edits for Saving Elizabeth. It would also deal with spiritual warfare. The idea is still there, but Saving Elizabeth’s sequel is my first priority at the moment.   
Raven: I recall that you dreamed Saving Elizabeth being published by Zondervan, a division of HarperCollins. Do you still want to be published by Zondervan at some point?
Amy: That was my dream as a young writer without a completed novel under my belt. I was very na├»ve about the publishing world at the time and didn’t realize how complicated it all was. I couldn’t be happier with where Saving Elizabeth ended up. It’s my baby, and I feel it’s in great hands with Tell Tale Publishing. Could Zondervan, or any other publishing company be in my future? Who knows? For now, I’m just enjoying the present, and I’m loving every minute of it!
Raven: If you could meet any character from Saving Elizabeth, who would it be?
Amy: I’d want to meet Elizabeth! There’s no doubt.
Raven: What do you want the readers to get out of reading Saving Elizabeth? Is there anything that you like to tell them?
Amy: I think I’d just like to ask them to be open minded. This is more than just another paranormal romance novel. This is a coming to faith story. It’s a lesson in realizing we all have a greater purpose here on this earth. It’s a reminder that our past doesn’t define us. There are many lessons to be learned, but if you’re not open minded and ready to evaluate your own life, then you won’t fully benefit from all Elizabeth’s story has to offer.
Raven: How does the editing process go when a book is getting published? And how much is changed from the original manuscript?
Amy: I’ve been through two rounds of content edits so far with Saving Elizabeth. They were very similar to the reviews that HC gives on Inkpop, only much more detailed. The first round was a six page document sent from my editor. I was pretty bummed about it until I talked with another first time author who received eight pages from her editor, and told me to count my blessings. They were all about making the story tighter, deleting unnecessary back story, and making the characters more believable. We added a couple of scenes that I’m in love with, and changed the ending drastically. John Osborne once said asking an author what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it thinks about dogs. That’s pretty accurate, but it’s all worth it when you read through the final product.
Raven: I saw the book cover design for Saving Elizabeth. Is it what you wanted? And how much say could you have? There are horror stories of first time authors unable to give any feedback in what they envisioned.
Amy: I didn’t have a specific cover in mind for Saving Elizabeth. I knew there were a few things that I absolutely didn’t want on the cover, and the wonderful people at Tell Tale took that into mind. I love the cover and couldn’t be happier with it.
Pop Questions 
Raven: If you could meet any author dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Amy: I really wanted to meet Ted Dekker, and I was blessed to be able to recently.
Raven: What are you looking for in a story?
Amy: It has to be a page turner. I want to lose a night of sleep reading an entire novel
because it leaves me dangling on a cliff at the end of each chapter.
Raven: If you could be any paranormal creature what would it be?
Amy: Mermaid
Raven: If you could travel to any place in the world where would it be?
Amy: Africa
Raven: What’s your favorite childhood book?
Amy: The Giver by Lois Lowry
Raven: What is your favorite movie?
Amy: Dirty Dancing, The Wizard of  Oz, Titanic, Chicago, Hairspray, and Footloose. 
Raven: What books have you read recently?
Amy: The Help, Forbidden, Adam



Saturday, October 1, 2011

Breaking News!

This just in! The cover of my YA paranormal romance, Saving Elizabeth, has officially been released. Are you as excited to see it as I am to show it off? I sure hope so. Eeeeeek! Can I get a...










TA-DA!!!!!!!

*Dabs a tear of happiness from her eye*

After wondering and dreaming of what it would finally look like, I'm pleased to say I'm happy with the way it turned out. The cover artist, Patricia Lazarus, did an amazing job. Honestly, I was scared to death. I'd heard horror stories from many first time authors who had little input in the design of their first covers. How disheartening to have your name printed on the cover of a book you'd never pick up if you hadn't been the one to write it. I'm so blessed that this wasn't the case with me. The fine folks at Tell-Tale Publishing listened to my input, and designed a cover that I'm proud to say is mine. Thank you, Patricia, for your hard work, and thank you, Tell-Tale Publishing for believing in me, and helping my dream become reality.

So...what now?

Well, I'm finishing up edits, and crossing my fingers for a December release of Saving Elizabeth. I think it will make a great Christmas gift for teens, or anyone else interested in YA Paranormal Romance. I'm learning from others who have gone on before me in this journey called publishing, and I'm gearing up for the PR side of things. It's going to be a whirlwind, but I'm excited to get started! Many of you have been with me through thick and thin. You read the very first chapter that was ever posted on inkpop, and you rejoiced with me when it won its coveted gold star. I just want to say thank you for your love and support. There's only one question. You still with me? If so, buckle up and hold on! It's going to be an exciting ride! Until then, spread the word, share the love, and keep on reading and writing! Best wishes!   


Friday, July 8, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship

Hello, old friends! Yes, I’m aware that it has been a while since I’ve updated. Hmmm…seems like I’ve said that before. Oh wait, that’s because I have!  (This is where I usually apologize profusely and give you a million excuses as to why I’ve pushed my blog to the backburner, yet again, but if it’s okay with you I think I’ll skip that today. I’m not really feeling it.)
The reason I’ve pulled myself from the trenches to write a post is one simple word - editing.
I’ve received my first round of edits for Saving Elizabeth, and I’m having some mixed emotions about them. I guess you could say that editing and I are having a sort of love/hate relationship. Last night, I was in love. I was totally excited to dig in and make some changes, and did so with gusto.  Today, I hate it. I’m staring at the page but my mind can’t focus, my finger can’t hit delete, and a part of me wonders what in the world I’ve gotten myself into.  What a rollercoaster of a ride this publishing thing is!
On a different note, I’ve received a cover sample for Saving Elizabeth and I’m totally in love!!!!  It’s so beautiful, and I can’t wait for you all to see it.
Finally, I’ve received the awesome news that I won a scholarship to Ted Dekker’s Ragged Edge writing symposium in Nashville.  I’m so very thankful and excited! The symposium is limited to only 100 attendees and boasts that it isn’t your typical conference, but rather an experience that will bare the true nature of a writer’s soul.  Sounds awesome, right? Ted Dekker is an amazing author, and I can’t wait to climb inside his mind for a couple of days.
Okay, time for procrastinating is over. It’s back to editing for me. I hope you all are having a great summer. Leave me a comment and update me on what’s new with you!  Wish me luck!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Old Friends, Good Times, & Lessons Learned

Hello, friends! I hope this post finds you happy, healthy, and enjoying your summer. I know I sure am! As a matter of fact, this summer is shaping up to be one of the best I’ve had in a very long time, and not just because of all of the publishing excitement. (Although, I have to admit that it is the cherry on top.) I’ve been able to catch up with some old high school friends (calm down, ladies…I don’t mean you’re literally old) that I haven’t talked with in quite some time. I’ve even been able to meet with a few of them for lunch.  Until our reconnection, I hadn’t realized it had been ten years since high school. TEN YEARS, people!!! I can’t believe it. I keep wondering where the time went. Where did all of that energy go? Where is that body? What happened to all of the free time I used back then to enjoy friends and find “myself?” (Okay, I’m moving on. If I talk about this much longer I’ll end up with a gallon of ice cream further deteriorating that body that has been M.I.A. for quite some time.)
Yesterday, a couple of us got together with one of our favorite high school teachers.  This teacher was special to me for many reasons, but for the sake of this blog, I’m only going to tell you about a few that are directly related to my writing. She happened to be my Creative Writing/English teacher. Whenever I think back on my school days, some of my most enjoyable moments involve her and the assignments she gave. I know what you’re thinking.
Amy actually enjoyed assignments?
Well, yes. Yes I did, and I’m convinced you would have enjoyed them as well. One particular assignment comes to mind as I type this. We were required to choose a year. (My year was 1969.) Then, we had to research the year we chose and pick one prominent event that occurred during that year. (Everyone expected me to choose Woodstock, but I chose the Charles Manson murders to throw them off.) Then, we were to find out everything we could about that event and create a journal written as if we lived during that year and experienced that event. (I wrote my journal from the perspective of one of Charlie’s girls/followers.) This assignment really forced me to step out of my comfort zone. I had to place myself in my character’s shoes and write as someone else that I was completely unfamiliar with. I had to let go of my own writing habits, tendencies, and beliefs and write journal entries that sounded as if they were actually written by a brainwashed teenager capable of committing murders. Talk about a lesson in “voice.”
I didn’t know it then, but the lessons learned from that assignment would stick with me long after I graduated high school. I didn’t know I’d use what I had learned to write a novel or eventually have that novel published, but I now realize that I couldn’t have done it without the skills learned from a wonderful assignment given to me by an even more wonderful teacher.  
That leaves me with a question for you. What teachers, assignments, and experiences have helped you to become a better writer? Are there any that stand out in your mind? How have these influenced your writing? We’ve all had things like this happen in our lives. Tell me about yours!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Official Announcement!

So, here it is! It's the official announcement you've all been waiting on. Who is publishing Saving Elizabeth? Some of you have been on the edge of your seats wondering, speculating, emailing, questioning.

Well, I'm happy to announce I'm a..........
*cue ginormous grin*

Who is Tell-Tale Publishing you might ask? Well, they are a newly formed small press publishing company who will be bringing you the best in both e-books and print books to feed your body, mind and spirit.  Their cutting edge fiction includes old favorites and edgy Steampunk and Super Hero genres. Their stories will grab your attention and take you on a fast, exciting ride that will leave you breathless.

Sounds exciting, right?

So, there you have it...the official announcement. I'm so happy to be a part of the Tell-Tale family and can't wait to begin this exciting chapter in my life.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Let the Good Times Roll

Hi, friends! I'm so ecstatic about some recent developments in my life that I'm foregoing the general fluffy introduction and jumping right into the reasons why my face is plastered with a full on, ear to ear grin.

Reason # 1
Summer vacation just began!!!! Need I say more? No, probably not, but I'm so excited about it that I just can't contain myself. AAAHHH!!! It's summer break, people, and you all know what that means. It means sleeping in, lazy days, reading for pleasure, writing, boat rides, water balloon fights, and the joy of watching kids run through sprinklers. Man, I love summer!

Reason # 2
I just launched my official author website. Please, please, pretty please with a cherry on top show me some love and check it out. I'm very proud of it, and would love to have your feedback. (I'm especially interested in hearing from you if you read Saving Elizabeth on Inkpop.) Do you think it conveys the overall feeling/tone of the novel?  

Reason # 3
I think I've saved the best for last! I, author Amy Machelle, have just signed a publishing contract for Saving Elizabeth. Eeeeek! Are you as excited as I am? I am beside myself! As soon as my editor receives the contract and everything is finalized, I'll post more details. Keep checking this blog and my new website for updates.  

So, understand why I slightly resemble the Cheshire Cat? Good things are happening in my life, and I'm so thankful! It's been a long time coming, but now that they're here I say, "Let the good times roll!"

Oh, by the way. How do you like the new blog design? I changed it up a bit, okay a lot actually, to match my author website. I wanted there to be somewhat of a flow. What do you think? 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Hello, readers! It seems like it has been so long since I last posted. In all reality, it has been. Things have been so busy here with the school year wrapping up. Everyday there’s a new survey for teachers to fill out, inventory list to check, or meeting to attend. It leaves little time for blogging and even less time for writing. I’ve got nine more days until summer vacation begins. Summer vacation equals more writing time for me, and hopefully a new novel.  There’s an end in sight, but attached to that end is a beautiful beginning that I can’t wait to get started on, which leads me to a question. Do you guys have any new projects in the works? How are you planning to spend your summer vacation?
Well, I think that’s all for now. No! Wait! I almost forgot! My short story has been published in “Beyond the Diaper Bag” and is officially available for purchase. *EEEEK* All proceeds go to charity, so if you’re interested I’d love for you to check it out. Just click on the button below.
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.
Okay, that's really all for now. I hope you all have a fabulous week! :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

From Ashes We Will Rise

It's with a heavy heart that I post this today. Last night, the state that I live in was hit multiple times by horrible tornadoes. We are devastated. The streets look like war zones. So many lives have been lost and so many homes have been destroyed. Thankfully, the area that I live in was not affected, but many weren't as lucky. There are no words that can adequately express the sadness felt by all. I beg of you to please remember the families who have lost loved ones due to this line of storms in your prayers. The road to rebuilding will be long, but we are a strong people and from the ashes we will rise.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pitch Contest with Natalie Fischer!

Hello, guys. YAtopia has another amazing opportunity for us. Fantastic agent, Natalie Fischer of Bradford Lit agency, is going to be hosting a pitch contest, and some of you lucky people will get the chance to submit to Natalie (she's currently closed to submissions).

To see a recent interview with Natalie and find out her likes, visit here. The only difference from this pitch contest and others is that YAtopians will choose their top 20 to give to Natalie, who will then pick her winners from that.

Don't miss out on this great opportunity! Of course, there are guidelines and rules. Click here to check them out and enter!

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

A picture is worth a thousand words. At least, that’s what I’ve been told, but I never really understood that phrase until recently when an agent tweeted about an interview with the 17 year old photographer, Alex Stoddard. Being the curious person I am, I thought I’d check it out and ended up spending most of my night marveling at his art. The emotions captured in his photographs are so raw that I felt myself tearing up while looking at some of them. Two, in particular, drew me in and reminded me so much of some of the characters in my novel, Saving Elizabeth.

The photograph which Alex entitled, The Forgotten Housewife, is so similar to my main character, Elizabeth. No, Elizabeth is not a housewife, but like the girl in this picture she’s bound and held captive. Elizabeth’s stronghold isn’t rope tying her to a chair. Yes, I realize there is no actual rope or string binding the girl in this picture, but that's the beauty of it. The rope is on the floor and floating in the air. So, why does she feel she has to stay there? Why can’t she just stop the rocking and get up already? She can, but it will only happen when she makes up her mind to stop it. Like this girl, Elizabeth’s struggle is internal, and she will only be at peace when she decides she isn’t going to let the anger she feels over her father’s death bind her spirit and control her any longer. Through the first half of the novel, Elizabeth thinks she has been abandoned by the God her father promised would love her no matter what. In my mind, this girl is Elizabeth. This picture sums up so many emotions that I felt, that Elizabeth felt, during the development of her story-anger, fear, isolation, confusion, abandonment.


This second photograph, entitled Arrival, reminds me so much of Gabriel, and for obvious reasons – the wings, the bright light, the otherworldly feeling. Need I say more?  


Here’s a few others I loved just because of their beauty and the emotion they convey. When I look at each of these my mind spins with story ideas.
Sanctuary                                                        The Time Traveler
The Aftermath                                                 The Love That Got Away
Hurricane Alex                                                 Rain On My Face
Blind                                                               The Book Burning
For Someone, Someday                                    It Was Summer, and We Were Happy
Forget The Pet Store                                        Your Turn With God

Are you in love with Alex’s photography yet? I hope so! Now that I’ve shared his wonderful work with you, I want to know what pictures inspire your writing. Do you have certain photos you look at while you’re fleshing out your characters? Is there a photograph that inspired the setting, the conflict, or the emotion felt in your novel? If so, please share!  Let’s all inspire each other!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Great Things!!!!!

I know it has been a while since my last post, but I've been really busy lately with some great things that are happening in my writing world. First, I was informed my short story, "A Mother's Love" will be published in the soon to be released, Beyond the Diaper Bag. I've also gotten some interest in my YA novel, Saving Elizabeth. The full manuscript is currently sitting in the hands of an editor as we speak, and is awaiting its fate. My nails are down to nubs!!! I am very excited about these wonderful things, but humbled at the same time.

What has been going on in your writing world? Have you started a new project that you're just dying to tell someone about? Have you snagged an agent? Is your work being published? Let's use the comments section of this post to share our successes with others! Let's celebrate together! Go on! Share! Share!           

Friday, April 1, 2011

I'm a Published Author!!!!

Well, I'm not a published author yet, but I will be in May!!!! I've just been informed that my short story, "A Mother's Love," will be published in "Beyond the Diaper Bag." Eeeeekkk! I'm so excited!!! Can you tell?!?!?!  Authors featured in "Beyond the Diaper Bag" have a passion to help others! The book is the second book in the Beyond Book series. It is a collection of humorous stores, inspirational moments, and helpful tips from real moms. This book has it all! All proceeds from the book will be donated to The Mommies Network, a not for profit organization that helps mothers. The book is expected to be out in May and can be purchased from LuLu.com, Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and many others. They are also hoping to get it in brick and mortar businesses. I hope you'll all pick up a copy when it comes out.  :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Writing Must Haves?

As I type this, I'm snuggled into the most comfy corner of the couch. My feet are propped up, I'm covered with a well worn quilt, and I'm listening to the soothing voice of John Mayer as he serenades me with "Free Fallin." The lights are low, the distractions are few, and I can just feel those creative juices as they begin to flow.

For me, this is the perfect set up to be creative and write something I can truly be proud of. They're writing must haves. I'm sure you have your own. For some of you, it's a certain type of music you like to listen to while you write, or a particular lighting. For others, it might be a special notebook or pen. I want to know what you absolutely, positively can't write without. Be specific! If it's a particular song, tell us the artist and title. If it's a pen, tell us the color and brand. Let us know why you must have it. How does it benefit your writing?

Do you have writing must haves? Inquiring minds want to know. Comment away!!!! 

P.S. There's an awesome contest going on over at YAtopia! Stop by and enter for awesome prizes.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Query Critique Contest!!!

Check out YAtopia today for an awesome interview with new author, Jeyn Roberts. That's not all. Jeyn will read and provide feedback for one lucky random YAtopia commenter. You must be a follower of the YAtopia blog to enter, but can get additional entries from the following:

+1 Follow YAtopia on twitter yatopia_blog
+1 Follow Jeyn Roberts on twitter @JeynRoberts
+1 Blog about the contest
+1 Facebook the contest
+1 Tweet about the contest
+2 Add Dark Inside to Goodreads bookshelf as 'To Read'
+50 Preorder Dark Inside (currently available on Amazon for preorder).

The competition closes on 31st March - please provide links for additional entries.

What are you waiting for? Click to check it out!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Amazing Finds

I’m so excited! I’ve found so many wonderful resources for writers lately. I’d feel just terrible if I kept them all to myself, so I’m sharing them with you. I encourage you to click on the links below. Hopefully, you’ll find these resources just as helpful as I have.  (Some of these are duplicates from my previous Sharing the Love post. Somehow, those links got erased, so I’m going to repost them along with my new finds.)

Brenda Drake writes novels for young adults and middle grade students.  She holds some awesome contests for her blog followers, some of which include amazing prizes like manuscript critiques from literary agents. Check it out!
Evie is a reader, writer, and blog designer who posts on a daily basis. Her blog layout is one of the best I’ve seen, and she’s kind enough to share her blog knowledge with others. Every Thursday she posts a blog tip to help fellow bloggers get their blogs in tip top shape. That’s not all!  There’s Must-Have Mondays, Talkin' Books Tuesdays, What's What Wednesdays, Favorites on Fridays, and Suggestion Saturdays. Head on over and take a peek!
I love this blog so much because there are always helpful posts for writers. Their most recent bit of advice dealt with research and the many types of research one can do to make their manuscript more authentic. If you’re looking for great advice to help hone your skills, then hop on over!
Leigh is a South African born, Irish writer, living between the US and Ireland. Her debut novel, The Carrier of the Mark, is being published by HarperCollins, and will be released to the public soon. Leigh got her start on InkPop, and often posts about the ups and downs of publication. She also holds some pretty unique contests. This blog is definitely worth your time!
This blog was created by a writer who loves to participate in writing contests, like me! If I’ve failed to spread the word about a particular contest, chances are she’s spreading the word about it on her blog. It’s worth a look.
Here, you’ll find a group of writers who love to help. Providing resources for YA writers, and giving author/ agent interviews are their specialties. Go! Go! Go! Follow them, now!
The agent spotlight on this blog is nothing short of amazing. If you’re on the prowl for an agent to represent your manuscript, then you seriously need to check it out!
Agent Query offers the largest, most current searchable database of literary agents on the web—a treasure trove of reputable, established literary agents seeking writers just like you, and it's free!
Love to Write? Connect with other writers like yourself. Read and vote on what others write. Talk about novels, poetry or a book you love. Write a post for the community. Connect with other writers like yourself. Make the Top Pick list and your writing will be read by a HarperCollins editor. (This site is for young adults, or writers who write for young adults.)




Thursday, March 17, 2011

New Contest Alert!

If you haven't already noticed, blogs offer some of the best contests-giving opportunities for up and coming authors to have their manuscripts critiqued by agents. Well, here's a new one I stumbled upon, and I'm very excited about it. Head on over to the YAtopia blog and check out their new contest. The following was directly copied and pasted from their blog.

Super agent Ammi-Joan Paquette has so kindly offered to host a pitch contest - our first, but definitely not last - on YAtopia. And seeing as she's currently closed to submissions, this is an opportunity you simply CANNOT miss out on.

It's really quite simple what you have to do. Ready?

1) Be a follower of the blog. Nice and easy.

2) Blog about this contest and include a link with your entry. If you don't have a blog, you may tweet or make a facebook status. But we prefer blog.

3) Create a TWO SENTENCE pitch. And not a massively long run-on sentence either. Two concise sentences that will hook Joan to your book and have her desperate to read more.

4) Include the opening line of your manuscript.

5) Manuscripts that you submit should be completed. I leave it up to you whether you decide to submit a half finished manuscript. You'll have to deal with it SHOULD Joan request you send her the full.

6) This contest will be capped at either 150 entries OR will end midnight on the 24th March.

7) Winners to be announced (along with prizes) on 31st March.

8) Only childrens and young adult categories will be accepted. Sorry!

What are you waiting on?!?!? Click on the link and get those entries ready! http://yatopia.blogspot.com/2011/03/agent-pitch-contest.html

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!



 
Pop the cofetti cannons and raise your arms in celebration! My blog has officially received 1000 hits! I'm so excited! My next goal is to have 1000 followers, so spread the word! If you're a writer, reader, editor, publisher, or just a friend interested in my journey to publication, I encourage you to sign up and be a follower. Thanks to all who have signed up and contributed thus far. Your interest and support has been greatly appreciated. :) Have a beautiful, sunny Sunday!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Our Thoughts & Prayers

I officially started my spring break yesterday. For a week now, I've been planning a celebration post to kick off the occasion, but with everything going on in Japan, I feel this post should carry a more serious tone. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the recent earthquake/tsunami in Japan. May you find strength, hope, and ecouragement in this most difficult time. God bless.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Word Play Contest

Happy Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was a long time coming, and now that it's here, I don't want to do anything except lounge on the couch and be lazy! Trust me. Morning bus duty will do that to a girl.

Anyway, I want to thank you all for the comments that were made on my "Writing Challenge" post. I love hearing your thoughts and ideas, so keep them coming. I also enjoyed reading the sentences you created using the words lucky, charm, and calamity so much (many of you posted them on inkpop instead of here) that I thought I'd issue a similar challenge, only this time you'll get to decide the three words used in the sentence. Everyone comment to this post with the three words they'd like to see in combination, and create the first sentence of a novel using those three words. I'll pick the three words from the comment I like the best. Then I'll issue the official challenge using your three words on inkpop and in my next post. We'll see who has the best sentence!

Prizes
I wish I could tell you you'd win something really fantastic, but sadly, I have nothing to give. You will, however, get the satisfaction of knowing you're completely awesome!

Rules 
Please do not use curse words or sexually explicit words. Comments containing any such words will not be approved. Sentences must be 25 words or less and must contain the three words you'd like others to use in combination.

I think that's it. I hope you all have a fantastic weekend. Use those imaginations! Let the comments begin. :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Twitter Pitch Contest

Aspiring author, Chanelle Gray (represented by agent Victoria Marini) is holding a Twitter pitch contest. It's my understanding that agent Michael Carr will be involved in the judging of this contest, and may request to see your full manuscript if your Twitter pitch catches his eye. (At least, that's what I gather. Correct me if I'm wrong.) Here are a few key points to the contest. These are copy and pasted directly from Chanelle Gray's website.

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1) The contest is now live!

2) It will be capped at the first 75 entries or, if we don't get 75 entries, it'll cut off at Midnight GMT on the 7th March.

3) You have to be a follower of my blog to enter.

4) You have to blog about this contest and post your link along with the twitter pitch. (If you don't have a blog, then Twitter or Facebook will do. But only if you don't have a blog - not instead).

5) Alongside your 140 twitter pitch (you'll be disqualified if it's longer) you'll be asked to submit the first three sentences of your manuscript - so make sure they're polished and ready to go!

6) Once the contest opens, it'll be first come first serve to enter. Anything after 75 entries won't be counted.

Good luck! And don't forget to include a link to your blog post/twitter/facebook with your entry. And I'll allow posts to be made any time before you actually comment here. Including the same day. Please use the format as below:

Your name:

Title:

Genre & Age:

Twitter pitch:

3 Sentences:

Blog post:

Remember, Michael Carr is looking for any age any genre. And works should be completed if he was to request the full manuscript, but you may take the risk without a finished manuscript if you choose.

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Click on the following link for more details.
http://chanellegray.blogspot.com/2011/03/twitter-pitch-contest.html

Good luck to all who enter!!!!