Monday, August 29, 2016

Query that Resulted in a Contract--Linda Tillis and her debut novel

Buy the book HERE on Amazon!
I'm so happy to welcome a good writing friend, and debut author, Linda Tillis as my guest today! Her first book, A Heart Made for Love, was released this week in paperback and e-book. Isn't the cover gorgeous?

Linda, welcome to my blog today! Let's get started with some questions! 

First, since many of my blog readers are aspiring authors, would you share your query letter/email here, and tell us why you think it got a response? What made it successful?

I’m not really sure why the query worked, but I did use the “Query Bible” in the Sunshine State Romance Authors Library!
(Here's Linda's Query):

At ten years of age, Mae Hinton learned to cope with tragedy when her mama died in childbirth. Overnight, she found herself filling her mother’s shoes as caregiver for her two younger brothers and papa. At seventeen years, she was content with her peaceful life in Trenton, Florida, the year 1903.

That peace is destroyed when young Mae is faced with every woman's worst nightmare.

As she heals-physically and mentally-from the attack, she accepts that everything happens for a reason. Mae was blessed with the support of a loving family and friends and believes she has been tasked by her Lord to come to the aid of other women who have faced her nightmare, and of building a place of refuge where victims can heal, learn, and gain independence.

Mae never saw her attackers and has no way of knowing that one of them is very near, watching and waiting.  As she works to help other victims her patience is tested when she meets hypocritical religious folk, misguided do-gooders, and men who have higher regard for their livestock than for their women.

When her attacker surfaces again, and a mistaken identity murder rattles her nerve, will Mae's skill with a gun be her salvation or will vengeance truly belong to the Lord?  The love story of Mae Hinton and Edward Finch addresses the question of how couples deal with differences in their personal beliefs.

At 78,900 words, A Heart Made For Love is a women’s fiction/historical romance and deals with the ultimate test of a young woman’s faith, as well as the dark side of domestic abuse and mistreatment of women in by-gone times. 
A Heart Made For Love is my first completed novel. I have been published in The Florida Wildlife Magazine. I spent twenty years working in Crime Scene Investigation, which supports my knowledge of domestic violence. I am a PRO member of RWA as well as a member of the Sunshine State Romance Authors, Inc. 

Great query, Linda! I can see why you got the editor's attention! Okay, next question: What is THE most important thing writers can do for themselves to get an agent/publisher in today's market?

Write the best book you can, then never give up on it.

If you could have done anything differently with your writing career so far, what would it be?

I would have started sooner. I’ve been a reader all my life and thought, “Someday I’ll try to write one.” But it was not until my husband said, “You should write a book,” that I really believed I could.

Aw!! What a great husband you have!! Okay, who are your writing role models, and how have they influenced you?

I love Amanda Quick and her sharp humor, which is really funny because my first book is anything but humorous.

Okay, now what we've all been waiting for! Tell us about your debut book, A Heart Made For Love!
I had a co-worker read A HeartMade For Love for me and when she finished she said, “I would have loved to have had a brother like Samuel.”  I knew then that I had to write a book for him and I named it A Man With A Pure Heart. In this sequel he is grown, has completed training, and is a Deputy with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office in 1910.  Because he has “visits” from his deceased mother he is very adept at catching killers. When the local school teacher is found naked and beaten to death he vows to find the killer, not only because the man is an animal, but because Samuel falls in love with the teacher’s replacement, her sister.  The search for the killer is a race for time as Samuel’s mother advises “another is in danger”.   The first chapter is included at the end of A Heart Made For Love.

Last question: What's one fact about you that most people don't know?

I am deathly afraid of speaking to a crowd.  When I was twelve I memorized a poem for a program at school.  I knew that thing upside down and backwards and nearly drove my family crazy repeating it for practice.  The day of the recital I was the second on stage. Two lines into my poem they realized they had forgotten to turn on the footlights. They turned them on, I looked down, and when I looked back up the poem was gone.  I walked off stage to a back room and sat on the floor and cried.  A very handsome senior came and sat on the floor with me and held me while I blubbered all over his school sweater. For years I testified in court from misdemeanors to murders, and never got over the fear.

I know people will want to check you out online. Can you give us your website links and contact information?

My e-mail address is
My website is
My twitter  @Linda34434

BUY Link for A Heart Made for Love on Amazon HERE.

Blurb from A Heart Made for Love:

In rural Florida , 1903, Mae Hinton cares for her father and younger brothers, trying to fill her deceased mother's shoes. Her life is shattered and her faith tested when her innocence is stolen by roving miscreants. Left unconscious, unable to identify her attackers, she pledges to help other victimized women. She pursues an education and learns to deal with bigoted ministers, well-to-do hypocrites, and men with higher regard for their livestock than their women.

Edward Finch is nearly done with medical studies in England when he comes home for the holidays. Love flourishes, and Mae seems close to achieving her dreams of both true love and a haven for victims, once she can explain to him why she carries a pistol. Then her new-found happiness is upset by a murder as one of her attackers returns.

She may settle this herself...or she may find that vengeance truly belongs to God.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Transitioning to Middle School--my Daughter's Gold Award Project

It's not often I include details about my family on this blog--I sort of feel there should be a filter
This is Devon, the blog's creative genius!
between my kids and my work. But this is an exception because...

I'm so freaking proud of my daughter! 

This project she's undertaken, How to Rock Middle School, is a two-fold effort: 1) she had a crappy transition from elementary to middle school. Like, crap-tasticly crappy. And she wants to do her part to make sure other kids don't suffer the same. 2) she's creating something that will 'live' without her when she graduates to count for her Girl Scout Gold Award project.

For those of you that don't know, the GS Gold Award is the highest level you can achieve in Girl Scouting (comparable to the Eagle Scout award for Boy Scouting). Devon has been a girl scout since she was a Daisy her kindergarten year, and continued with a troop through middle school, then went it alone as a "Juliette" Girl Scout through high school. Just remaining in girl scouting all 13 years is amazing enough, but to cap it off with a Gold Award--pretty incredible!

So if you have a minute, can you check out her blog here? Maybe you have a child starting middle school this year? This is a GREAT resource to allay his/her fears. Maybe your child had a good or bad middle school experience they'd like to share? Devon's blog allows for people to write in and contribute their stories!

Here's the link to her blog:

And here's the video she made to achieve her Silver Award in Girl Scouting--the video that can also be found on her blog!

Thanks for allowing my moment of Momma Pride!
Happily My Ever After,

P.S. Want that blog link again for surviving middle school? Click HERE!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Jennifer Taylor and new new book HEARTBEAT OF THE MOON plus GIVEAWAY

I'd like to welcome my long-time writing friend--a gal who always has a smile on her face and a song on her lips--Jennifer Taylor! She's here today to talk about her new release--check out the awesome cover, and if you scroll to the bottom, she's having a GIVEAWAY!
Buy it HERE on Amazon!

Congratulations on your new release, Jennifer! I loved your first book, "Mercy of the Moon" (you can read my Goodreads review HERE) and Ian's character still lives on in my head because he was so troubled, but scrumptious at the same time. Are you revisiting Maggie and Ian in this next book, "Heartbeat of the Moon"? Please say YES!!

Thanks so much for having me, Dylan! Yes, Ian and Maggie’s story continues, and the stakes grow higher as supernatural forces beyond their control threaten their love and lives. Ian is a handful, isn’t he? But so yummy! He continues to take me on surprising journeys, and becomes more complex and appealing with each book.  

I know you and I are both inspired by music when we write. What music did you listen to as you wrote "Heartbeat of the Moon"?

Oh, that’s such a great question. I’ll let you in on a dirty secret: I listen to Sting a lot to help me get close to Ian. I actually have several playlists on my internet radio station: one for Ian titled “Ian’s Angst,” and an upbeat list called, “Maggie and Ian,” with more upbeat, romantic tunes that help to keep their relationship fresh and intriguing to me.  One of my favorite tunes to listen to while writing Heartbeatof the Moon was Elton John’s “Madman Across the Water.” Very haunting song.

Love Elton John--cool fact! Okay, what type of historical research did you have to do for this novel--I'm particularly intrigued by Ian's past in Bedlam!

I research about the history of mental illness, and watch documentaries about treatments, such as bleeding, that were used for mentally ill people during that time period. I am fascinated with medical history, especially before the 19th Century, and have come across some great material. I read a lot about bipolar disorder, and strive to get it right.

I also try very hard to make Maggie’s midwifery scenes authentic. I have an experienced midwife friend who reads the scenes for me to check for accuracy, and consult a book by a 17th Century midwife named Jane Sharp, who not only could read (rare for that age), but she actually wrote a manual on midwifery, called The Midwives Book: or the Whole Art of Midwifry Discovered. It was edited by Elaine Hobby. It’s an incredible mix of no-nonsense how-to, in-depth knowledge, and superstition. What a strong woman! I wish I could meet her.

Now that you have two books published, what are your plans for your next book?

I’m currently working on book #3 of the Rhythm of the Moon series, likely titled Mirrors of the Moon. It continues the story of Maggie and Ian, but also involves a new romance.

As a fellow writer, I'm sure you've been visited perhaps once or twice by the proverbial 'writer's block'. What do you do when the words aren't flowing for you?

It usually means I need to get off my chair for a while and refresh my mind: exercise, music, nature work well. Then I get back to work and just struggle through the rough spots.  Some days are like that.

I know I've asked you this in your previous guest post here, but I'm curious to see if your answer has changed. If you could give any piece of writing advice to aspiring authors out there, what would it be?

Don’t give up. Write every day, even if it’s only 15 minutes. Congratulate yourself for those little successes: the finished chapter, that rejection letter. Join a writer’s organization such as Romance Writers of America where you can learn about the craft and the industry. Seek other writers for encouragement and support. Take chances-enter a contest, get your stuff out there, and develop a thick skin. Have fun with your characters, find a story you can believe in, and hang in there.

It was so great having you today, Jennifer! But, before you leave, can you tell us a little more about "Heartbeat of the Moon", including the most important piece--where we can buy your latest book? :)
Once again, in Heartbeat ofthe Moon, Maggie and Ian fight superstition, and struggle to help their good friend Josef, who is convinced his nephew was attacked by a winged monster. Rumors and fear stir up the town, and the two lovers also have to deal with challenges in their relationship. I also introduce the story of newcomers Bethan and Elunid, a set of identical twins from Wales. Intriguing things happen when they meet one of the town’s hard-working men. Let’s just say love strikes in the most unlikely situations!

Superstition sails into King’s Harbour with tales of winged monsters rising from the dead. Midwife Maggie and husband Ian fight for reason and logic when a friend’s nephew disappears from the grave, and the friend’s behavior becomes more animal than man.

As forces and bizarre events around the two lovers threaten their happiness, Maggie faces challenges from her expectant mothers and struggles to understand Ian’s troubling behavior. Ian endeavors to cure his mind’s affliction but fears the slide into insanity may be fatal.

You can find Jennifer here:
Twitter: @jennifer4taylor

And her new BOOKS ARE HERE: 
Barnes and Noble:
The Wild Rose Press:

Thanks so much for having me today, Dylan! To celebrate the interview, I’d like to offer a GIVEAWAY: anyone who leaves a comment by Sunday (August 14) will be entered in a random drawing to win book #1, Mercy of the Moon!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

An Agent At Last!

For those of you following me on my blog or Facebook, you know I've been awaiting response from the agent I pitched to at RWA conference (my pitch story is here). Aaaand....*drumroll*...I finally signed my contract for an agent!!

No. Not AN agent. THE agent:

I'm thrilled to announce I have signed a contract for my Young Adult series, beginning with
DELINQUENT, to 3 Seas Literary and the marvelous Cori Deyoe! It's a huge milestone for me, as I have been looking to switch from paranormal romance to YA. Most YA publishers won't even look at your submission without an agent, so landing a talented and experienced agency like 3 Seas is a dream for me!

More to come--like a contract for the series!!--but I was so excited to let you all know about the long-awaited end to my agent journey!

Happily My Ever After,