Monday, December 29, 2014

To My Sweet Husband—It's Your Love

My husband and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary a week ago. I had every good intention of posting something sweet and special, but with Christmas quickly approaching and my in-laws coming into town, those good intentions fell by the wayside. So, this post comes a little late, but still holds lots of meaning. Happy Anniversary to my sweet hubby. There's no one else I'd want to share my life with. 

This song by Faith Hill and Tim McGraw is one of my favorites. It was sung at our wedding reception by my amazing brother and a dear friend. (As a total surprise which, of course, produced an influx of tears from me.)

In other news, this is my week to host Unicorn Bell, and I'm doing a special series titled Books and Cookies where I post yummy cookie recipes and book reviews. Today, I'm reviewing Cortney Pearson's debut novel Phobic and posting a recipe for Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies. Yum. So good. I made them for the holidays and they turned out dee-lish! 

So, hop on over there and check it out! Hope everyone had a very merry Christmas and is looking forward to a new year. I know I am!! 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Deja Vu Blogfest: Are you gonna try for a girl?

Today, I'm participating in the Deja Vu Blogfest hosted by DL Hammons. In honor of this blogfest, I'm re-posting one of my favorite blog posts from this year. This post you're about to read is one of the very first ones I put on my blog when I started it almost a year ago. Hope you enjoy! 


Clearly, when we're out in public as a family, five boys is somewhat of a head turner. So, I often hear from the waitress at the restaurant or the cashier scanning the groceries at the store, "Are they all yours?" Followed by, "All boys?"

Yep, the last time I checked they were all boys. And unless I have a crazy sign attached to my back, why in the world would I voluntarily take other people's children to the grocery store? Doesn't make sense.

But my favorite question—the one I get the most, which is amazing considering how personal it is—"Are you gonna try for a girl?"

Hmm, let me think about that one. 

I'm always very nice in my response because truthfully, for a long time, we WERE trying for a girl. I just knew I was meant to have a daughter swaddled in pink with a future of tea parties, Barbies, and prom dresses. Not to mention one day having the opportunity to plan an elaborate and detailed wedding reception. But, alas, it was not meant to be.

I thought I was having a girl once. My first child in fact. We were told by the ultrasound tech that she was 99.9% sure (never trust the ultrasound) we were having a girl. So, for the next few months, I lived in a world of frilly dresses and pink ballet slippers, and the birth of our daughter Kylie couldn't come soon enough. 

I'm sure you can imagine my shock after I gave birth to our "daughter," and the doctor proudly declared, "It's a BOY!" And what a beautiful little boy he was, chunky and dimply, and yet, I couldn't shake the nagging thought, "Where's Kylie?"

As I lay in the hospital bed with my husband asleep on the couch across the room and my beautiful boy in a bassinet beside me, I cried for the daughter I'd never have, for the loss of the little girl I had carried inside me for nine months. Those who have never experienced this sudden shock will have no idea what I'm talking about. I'm sure many will think, how could I not be happy for a beautiful, healthy child, no matter the gender? And I was happy. Very happy. But I was also sad that the bond I'd formed with a daughter named Kylie, was nothing more than a memory. She didn't exist. And I had to come to terms with that. Over the next couple days in the hospital, I grew to love the baby boy who had no name. Now, I can't imagine my life without him or the four other little boys we've been blessed with.

So, when people ask me, "Are you gonna try for a girl?" my answer now is invariably the same: "No, we're good." For a brief moment in my mind, I had a daughter. Now, I think I'll settle for a granddaughter swaddled in pink with a future of tea parties, Barbies, and prom dresses. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This Writer Mom

It's time for another edition of This Writer Mom!

For those who aren't familiar, these blog posts are an attempt to shake things up a bit and mesh three things I love—writing, being a mother, and design. Based on color and style, I match pictures of "mothers" to their ideal writing (and perhaps lounging or dining location). It's a fun way to incorporate design elements into my blog while still maintaining a focus on writing. Hope you enjoy!

This Writer Mom...

Cooks here...

Sleeps here...

Writes here...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Reading Counts

Like most writers, my love of books began at an early age. When I was small, my mother read to me. Constantly. Once I was old enough to read by myself, I read anything I could get my hands on. In my room, I had a small walk-in closet that housed a white bookshelf. This bookshelf was filled with my favorite books and my favorite book series. I remember hiding out in my closet for hours, surrounded by books and words and stories. Stories that took me to faraway places and into the lives of characters I loved.

I remember this book! source
Loved this series. source

I spent many hot summer afternoons curled up on my blue comforter, reading Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley Twins, and the Babysitters Club. But once I hit high school, the reading stopped. For some reason, I became too busy to read. Too busy with things like cheerleading, soccer, show choir, honor society, class offices, and other clubs. The only reading I did was for English classes, and then I devoured the Shakespeare plays and The Grapes of Wrath. Others complained about reading and bought the cliff notes, but not me. (Okay, maybe I did get the cliff notes once or twice, but ONLY because I wanted a BETTER understanding.)

Needless to say, college wasn't much better as far as "finding the time." And then I was married and had small children. When you're wiping poopy bottoms and cleaning up slop off the floor, there isn't too much time for reading. But when my husband was in law school, there was a group of women who had a book club and that got me back into reading. Then more children came (and more children came) and all the while I WAS reading. To my children every day and every night. Books like Goodnight Moon and DinoTrux and Where the Wild Things Are as I raise my own little "wild things."

And then I heard the truth. If I want to be a better writer, then I HAVE to read. What a great excuse to pick up a book and immerse myself. And when my husband comes home from work, I get to have a conversation like this:

Hubby looks around the untidy house. "What did you do today?"

I hold up the book I've been reading. "Research!"

Can't get better than that!

What were some of YOUR favorite books as a kid?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

IWSG December—The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It's that time again...Time for another posting of the IWSG (or the Insecure Writer's Support Group for those of you not familiar with it). As always, a big thank you to Alex Cavanaugh for creating this monthly blog hop where we air our insecurities and offer encouragement and support for other writers. The IWSG is a great group to be a part of, so if you haven't signed up yet, you can go HERE to do so.

Also, a big thank you to the awesome co-hosts for today: Heather Gardner, T. Drecker from Kidbits, Eva E. Solar at Lilicasplace, and Patsy Collins.

As many of you know, I'm in the process of querying my young adult novel, so you'd think my insecurities would stem from the query or publishing process. However, as of right now, I'm feeling pretty good about where I'm at in this query process.

So, what are my insecurities for this month?

I recently decided to delve into a novel I wrote a while back. It's one that has been sitting and sitting because as soon as I finished it, I realized that I could probably never publish it. At least not under my real name.

This work is raw, emotional, and it's real. It exposes the good, the bad, and the ugly side of love and relationships. My husband (who is ALWAYS my very first beta reader) says it's my best work thus far. And as I've been reading through it and revising the heck out of it, I think I'd have to agree with him.

But the problem is, I can't publish it.

I'd be too embarrassed. Too afraid of what others might think.

So, I have two options: I can revise it until it will make others happy. Or I can leave it as is and let all the ugly parts of me show.

What would you do?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The 777 Challenge

I'm sure many of you have heard of this thing going around the blogosphere referred to as the 777 Challenge. So I was stoked when my good friend and critique partner, Leandra Wallace, tagged me for the challenge. I've been trying to decide what WIP I want to share with you all, and I finally decided on a contemporary romance I wrote about a year ago. It's been "sitting" for a while, but still desperately needs to be revised. And when the time comes, I may need some beta readers...


She glanced at her neighbors across the aisle; a young couple cuddled up together, the girl’s head resting on the boy’s shoulder. A twinge of jealousy washed over her. She and Jack used to be like that. Young and in love and barely able to keep their hands off each other, but somewhere along the way things changed. He changed. She changed. They grew apart.

An ache started in Tara’s chest and moved up her throat. She tried to swallow the lump that formed, but she couldn’t get rid of it, almost as if she had a giant chicken bone lodged there, making it nearly impossible to swallow and even more impossible to breathe. Tears stung her eyes as a thousand memories flooded forth. Memories of good times, laughter, and a distinct fire between her and Jack. A fire that over time diminished and then gradually extinguished.

Turning away from the couple, she focused on the wispy clouds and quickly wiped her tears. She wouldn’t cry over him. She refused to give him the satisfaction.

Focus on the anger. Focus on the anger. 

Unfortunately, even those words couldn’t ease the pain in her chest and ache in her heart.

So, here's how the Challenge works. Choose a manuscript or WIP, find the 7th page, scroll down to the 7th line, and share the next 7 lines or so. Piece of cake. And now, I get to choose who I want to tag for this fun challenge....

        >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Drum Roll Please>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

My amazing blogger buddies: Elizabeth SeckmanSheri Larsen, Chrys FeyCrystal Collier

And any of YOU who want to join the fun, feel free. Just post your excerpt in the comments below or on your own blog!

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 14, 2014

This Writer Mom...

In an attempt to shake things up a bit and mesh three things I love—writing, being a mother, and design, I decided to create these posts titled "This Writer Mom." Based on color and style, I will match pictures of "mothers" to their ideal writing (and perhaps lounging or dining location). It's a fun way to incorporate design elements into my blog while still maintaining a focus on writing. Hope you enjoy!

This Writer Mom...

Sleeps here...
Picture info

Writes here...

Cooks here...

Monday, November 10, 2014

SCBWI Conference-A Time to Connect

I'm finally getting around to posting about the SCBWI Carolinas conference I attended in September. Now, obviously, I can't give you details about what I learned in the classes offered because we've been asked not to do that, but I can tell you that I came away invigorated. Renewed. And ready to write.

The best thing about the conference was having a break from my kids meeting other people who are as obsessed with writing as I am. It is always amazing when you immediately connect with another person. I enjoyed meeting other writer moms who are trying to balance writing and mothering. We could definitely relate to each other!

Here I am pictured with some of the amazing women I met:

So fun!!

We had three agents and several editors attend this years conference. Unfortunately, I didn't sign up for a critique session, which I have now learned is a MUST! But I did take the opportunity to introduce myself to one of the agents. I was so scared. So nervous. I had to talk myself into it, but I'm so glad I swallowed my fear and just DID IT! I don't know how many of you know the lovely Christa Heschke, but she is truly the nicest person and so easy to talk to. I knew I wanted to meet her because of a blog post she wrote only days before the conference. Her words helped ease my anxiety of approaching a real, live agent. If you're nervous about talking to an agent at a conference, then you MUST read this post.

I also had the opportunity to meet authors in the Charlotte area. And I got to chat with the amazingly talented Carrie Ryan (NYT Bestselling author of the YA novel, Forest of Hands and Teeth, who I hope to interview in the coming months. *keeping fingers crossed*)

When I got home from the conference, my house was still intact, and my children had been fed and cared for (pretty much). Just kidding. My husband did a wonderful job taking care of the kids while I was gone. But they sure did give me BIG hugs when I got home. I think they might have missed me (just a little).

Oh, and this is my week on Unicorn Bell, so please stop by and say 'hi.' If you are in the process of querying right now, you may benefit from the info. Thanks!

How about you? Been to any writing conferences lately?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IWSG November—Good enough?

The first Wednesday of every month is reserved for the Insecure Writers Support Group (also known as the IWSG). If you are interested in joining this awesome group where we post our insecurities and triumphs, as well as offer encouragement to fellow writers, you can sign up HERE. Created by the amazing Alex Cavanaugh, the IWSG is a wonderful group to be a part of.

I realized something recently (and for most of you, this will come as no shock, you've probably known it all along). I realized how subjective this whole publishing process truly is. A novel one person might not care for, another person might love.

Photo info

I recently entered my shiny new YA novel into a contest held by other writers. The goal was to be chosen from the slush pile and go on to be presented on the blogs of said writers so that agents could read and request material. I didn't make it out of the slush pile. Sure, it was a bummer at first, but then I decided to query the very first agent on my list. And guess what? He requested the full that same day. In a matter of minutes I went from complete and total letdown to doing the happy dance. Go figure.

I know nothing could come of this request. Like so many writers who have gone before me, the query trail is paved with rejection. And of course, AFTER I sent my completed manuscript to said agent, I noticed the mistakes. Commas flying here, there, and everywhere. An added "the" where there should be none. Of course.

And while I haven't received my first rejection for my YA novel YET (it's a little too early in the game), I am steeling myself. They will come. I know it as sure as I know the names of my children (which I have to admit I DO forget every now and then, well, not so much as forget as I sometimes get flustered when they are misbehaving, and I call them the wrong name until I get to the right one. Anyhoo...)

Those rejections will pour in like floodwaters. But you know what? That's okay. All it takes is one. One yes. One person who is willing to take a chance on me. So, if I'm insecure about anything this month, it's that. Am I good enough? And will someone recognize my potential.

What about you? What are your insecurities for this month?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Release Day Launch—Nobody Knows by Kyra Lennon

Today is the release day for Nobody Knows by Kyra Lennon. I'm happy to be able to showcase her latest New Adult book.


Title: Nobody Knows (Razes Hell Book 1)
Author: Kyra Lennon
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Najila Qamber Design
Photographer: Lindee Robinson Photography
It's not easy being friends with rising rock stars - especially when you're the glue that holds them together.
Razes Hell has taken off in the charts, and Ellie can't believe her childhood friends, Drew and Jason Brooks, are on TV and drawing crowds after years spent playing in dodgy bars. From obscurity to overnight success, Ellie soon realises life in the public eye isn’t all it’s cracked up to be as dark secrets become headline news and old conflicts are re-ignited. When a fake feud meant to boost the band’s popularity threatens to rip the boys apart for real, Ellie finds herself torn – a position which only gets more uncomfortable when her loyalty to Jason collides with her blossoming relationship with Drew.
Nobody knows how deep their issues run; nobody but Ellie. With friendship, a music career and a new love on the line, can Ellie keep their tangled pasts from ruining their futures?

Pre-order links: AMAZON | AMAZON UK


Author Bio:
Kyra is a self-confessed book-a-holic, and has been since she first learned to read. When she's not reading, you'll usually find her hanging out in coffee shops with her trusty laptop and/or her friends, or girling it up at the nearest shopping mall.
Kyra grew up on the South Coast of England and refuses to move away from the seaside which provides massive inspiration for her novels. Her debut novel, Game On (New Adult Contemporary Romance), was released in July 2012, and she scored her first Amazon Top 20 listing with her New Adult novella, If I Let You Go.

Release Day Party on Kyra's Author FB Page
Release Party - Friday November 7th - Hosts TBA
::: Facebook Event :::
Hosted By:

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Tonight is the night of spooks and goblins. Or in my kids case, teenage mutant ninja turtles and zombie doctors. It's HALLOWEEN!!

If you're like me, you LOVE Halloween—I mean, endless amounts of chocolate, what's not to love?!

And then there are the cute little kids who come a' knockin' at the door. Little girls dressed in Elsa and princess costumes, and little boy ninjas, superheroes, and anything remotely scary.

Of course, trick-or-treating is the highlight for my kids, who by the time Halloween rolls around have already been to 2 or 3 other trunk-or-treating events and gotten a mother-load of candy.

After the hours of trick-or-treating, we all arrive home with weary feet and bundles of candy which is quickly scattered on the living room floor as the boys begin "the trade."

Once they are all sugared up and bouncing off the walls, it's time for bed. Chocolate-stained fingers and lollipop-coated hair that desperately needs a bath will have to wait until morning. Because this mom is pooped, and her little kiddies too.

Have a happy Halloween! And save me your Reese's peanut butter cups—they're my favorite! :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

This Writer Mom...

In an attempt to shake things up a bit and mesh three things I love—writing, being a mother, and design, I decided to create these posts titled "This Writer Mom." Based on color and style, I will match pictures of "mothers" to their ideal writing (and perhaps lounging or dining location). It's a fun way to incorporate design elements into my blog while still maintaining a focus on writing. Hope you enjoy!

This stylish mother...
Photo information

Sleeps here...                                                                   Writes here....
Photo information
Photo information

What is your preferred place to write, read, or just unwind after a long day?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Soulless Blog Tour—Crystal Collier

SOULLESS IS HERE!! That's right, you read correctly. For all those who have been looking forward to the release of Soulless, Book 2 of the Maiden of Time series by Crystal Collier, you don't have to wait a moment longer!

I was lucky enough to receive an Advanced Review Copy of Soulless in exchange for an honest review. And honestly, Soulless is EVEN BETTER than Moonless (if that's possible). I know sometimes sequels fall short of their destination, but not this one. It is a truly captivating read! To see my full review, click HERE.

And now, here's SOULLESS! And don't forget to enter the awesome Giveaway hosted by Crystal and several other authors.

Series: Maiden of Time
Author: Crystal Collier
Pages: 263
Pub Date: October 13, 2014
Publisher: Raybourne Publishing
ISBN: 9781629830032

The Soulless are coming.

Alexia manipulated time to save the man of her dreams, and lost her best friend to red-eyed wraiths. Still grieving, she struggles to reconcile her loss with what was gained: her impending marriage. But when her wedding is destroyed by the Soulless—who then steal the only protection her people have—she’s forced to unleash her true power.

And risk losing everything.


What reviewers are saying:

"5 Stars." - Invincible Love of Reading Book Blog

"I LOVED it! So good. Seriously...exceeded my expectations." -Kristin Smith, advanced reviewer

"Entirely unique and chilling." Gabby @ What’s Beyond Forks

"Unputdownable." T.C. Mckee, BookFish Books


John offered Alexia a chair. “Perhaps you would hate me less if you knew my story?”

She scowled but took a seat, gratefully. Mae bustled about the kitchen, a comforting presence to counter his.

“Before all this,” he motioned down his form, “I was like you—raised among humans, oblivious to our differences. I had a family—a wife, sons, even a daughter, all human, or mostly so.” He rubbed a hand over his mouth. “He did not find me until well after I came of age, for I did not possess enough of the blood to be noticed. What I did have was a gift for healing—not as strong as his, mind you. It started as a talent for seeing what was wrong, and thus an ability to prescribe the correct treatment.” He dropped into a chair across from her, elbows landing on his knees. “I served a small community as their doctor.” A sad smile tugged at his cheeks, eyes far away. “In Wilhamshire.”

She closed her eyes. The bustling town reared up in her mind, the winding streets and shop fronts, the tavern where she’d once weathered a night after Miles saved her and Sarah from the Soulless, the house on the hill where Kiren had imprisoned Bellezza—Haunted House of Stark.

“My given name is John Stark, after my father, and after his father.”

Alexia gasped and sat back.

His brows scrunched down. “I met him over a patient one day. He observed my treatment and informed me I had rare gifts. I belonged to a secret race. To prove his point, he healed the child I had been treating, and proceeded over the next many weeks to teach me how.

“His home had been discovered by the Soulless, and he had been forced to vacate. While passing through Wilhamshire, he heard stories of my successes, and came to investigate. For a time, he resided in my home, until he was able to establish a new residence I have yet to discover. He became my…my children’s godparent.”

His fingers clasped into his knees. “But one day, after spending the night at a patient’s sickbed, I returned home to find my wife and children murdered in a most brutal manner.” His eyes darted from one wall to the other, cheek twitching. “The Soulless had come in search of him.” He met Alexia’s gaze. “My entire life was gone.”

She shivered. It couldn’t be true. John’s family had not been massacred because of Kiren, had they?

“I went after them. He told me not to,” his head shook, “but I was determined to have my revenge.”

She straightened up, but couldn’t look at the man, the person who had lost everything because he showed kindness to a vagabond.

John mimicked her. “He spared my life even after I became one of the Soulless, and we have danced the dance ever since.”


Get your free copy of book 1, MOONLESS, October 13, 20, 27, 31 or Nov 7.

Author Bio:

Crystal Collier is a young adult author who pens dark fantasy, historical, and romance hybrids. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.

You can find her on her BlogFacebookGoodreads, or follow her on Twitter.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Book Review—Soulless by Crystal Collier

I've been looking forward to this book for quite some time, so when I received an eARC copy, I was excited! The following is my review for Soulless, Book 2 of the Maiden of Time series by Crystal Collier.

Soulless (Maiden of Time, #2)Soulless by Crystal Collier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an Advanced Review Copy of Soulless in exchange for an honest review. So, here it is (in all honesty).

I loved Moonless, but I was completely captivated by Soulless. I couldn't put it down! High tension, unforgettable romance, and unique characters make Soulless an enthralling read. In Moonless, Alexia Dumont discovers the power she has, but in Soulless, she unleashes it. She recognizes her true potential and works toward becoming the powerful person she's meant to be. Dubbed as the Maiden of Time, she is confident, brave, and in love, making her an extremely relatable character. And then there's Kiren. He's totally swoon worthy, but you see his weaknesses in this book, and that's a good thing.

Bellezza is once again a show stopping character. We learn more about her past and why she is the way she is. She's like an old spirit trapped in a young body. But don't be fooled by her girlishness. There's nothing childlike about that girl other than her appearance! She is truly an unforgettable character.

My absolute favorite part of the book is the romance between Alexia and Kiren. They have such a powerful connection and I LOVE *spoiler alert* how Alexia saves him time and time again by shifting time (forgive the pun). It was the perfect blend of romance and action, and the ending itself gave me chills. The best ending ever! Now I can't wait for the next book to come out!! Hurry up, Crystal!

View all my reviews

Tune in next week for Crystal's Blog Tour! I will feature her book on Wednesday, October 15th. Be sure to stop by and enter the amazing Giveaway hosted by Crystal and several other authors.

**Also, here's a shout out for a blogging buddy of mine...

Week long book sale! Beginning Sunday, October 12th, Loni Townsend's, Thanmir War is only $0.99 on Amazon! Don't miss out on this great deal!

Any other exciting news?

Have a great weekend!! :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IWSG Co-Host, Anniversary, and Anthology

The first Wednesday of every month is reserved for the Insecure Writers Support Group (also known as the IWSG). If you are interested in joining this awesome group where we post our insecurities and triumphs, as well as offer encouragement to fellow writers, you can sign up HERE. Created by the amazing Alex Cavanaugh, the IWSG is a wonderful group to be a part of.

I am honored to be a co-host for the IWSG this month! My other amazing co-hosts are: ElsieSuzanne Furness, and Fundy Blue. You should stop by and say hello!

Also, HAPPY 1st ANNIVERSARY to the IWSG website!!! As part of an IWSG eBook anthology to assist other writers on the journey of writing, publishing, and marketing, my post for this month will include my submission for the writing section of the book. I had big plans to give some brilliant writing tips, but when I sat down to write this excerpt, this is what came out instead. I was inspired by a friend of mine who desperately wants to write a novel, but is so scared she'll fail, that she refuses to try.

So you want to write a novel?

After all these years, you're finally ready to do it. Don't be scared. Don't think you'll fail, even though at times you might. Don't be too hard on yourself, you are, after all, still learning.

Allow yourself to be inspired by the things around you—conversations you hear, people you meet, songs on the radio, maybe even a perfect sunset. That's what will make your writing unique—everything YOU see, hear, experience, feel, will be different from someone else. The story you have to tell, will be different.

Hour after hour you will plug away at your laptop. You will fill pages upon pages of words that only you will see. Line by line, page by page, a story will unfold. A story that captivates you, leaves you sleepless and longing for more hours with the characters you've created. And then one day, it will be done—and yet, far from finished. You will spend hours, days, weeks, even months polishing your manuscript. Rewriting scenes, taking out characters, adding motivation and ensuring there's a visible character arc. You may find that you need to step away from this novel for a while and come back with fresh eyes and a new perspective. Do it. That time away will be invaluable.

In the end, you may think your writing is no good. You many want to burn that manuscript or erase that document, but don't. Celebrate what you HAVE accomplished—you finished a novel. Something many aspire to do, but few are able to achieve!

Now is the tough part. You have to let your baby go, out into the world for other eyes to see. You need other's perspectives. You need to know what works, what doesn't, and where lie the plot holes, and the lack of characterization. Don't be offended if your best friend or critique partner has a very strong opinion about your main character. Don't get upset if your spouse or beta reader thinks your story "needs some work." Take the advice, thoughts, opinions of others and sit on them. For a while. You'll know what advice to take and what to leave behind. Think about what feels right for your story. And don't forget, most importantly, that this is YOUR story. Not theirs.

And after all that polishing, all that work, your manuscript will finally be ready. Will you choose to query agents? Or will you submit to publishers? Or perhaps the indie route is the way for you. Whatever you choose, you will celebrate the moment you can share your work with the world.

In the end, it comes down to one thing, and one thing only. If you want to write a novel, then write.