Saturday, May 28, 2016

8 Ways to Get Published as a Teen

Every author will tell you that there is no set guidelines on how to get published. It's a matter of timing, luck, and finding the right people to represent you and your work. However, here's my experience that I've learned over this eight year process during my teen years!

No. 1: Write a Story That Needs to Be Told
      This does not just mean a tragic, real life story. Fantasy needs to be told. Dystopia needs to be told. Science Fiction needs to be told. The point is, you have to believe in your story. You are it's number one advocate. If you don't believe in it, why should an agent?

No. 2: One Draft Isn't Enough 
      Believe me, I know how tempting it is to just want to put the beast to rest and send it off. But I promise that you'll regret it. At minimum, push out two drafts. Just two. The professionals that you will be sending your work to appreciate the effort that you've put into your work. Have other people read it. Multiple pairs of eyes and ideas are better than just yours.

No. 3: Know Your Buyers
     I don't mean readers (you should've already figured that out haha), but I mean the agents and editors that you will send your manuscript to. They are very busy people who receive a lot of submissions and emails and have a lot of meetings and phone calls. Don't waste their time by sending them a manuscript they have no interest in reading. Most agents publicly announce their interests, and they won't even look at a manuscript that is not in their field of interest. Do your research. Read magazines and find books. There are tons of resources for you to find agents that would be interested in representing you. And don't rule out Independent publishers. I speak from experience, they're wonderful!

No. 4: Know Your Genre
        Read books in your genre, look at who's publishing them and representing them. That will help you in knowing who's interested in your topics.

No. 5: Join Communities
        Be apart of online communities and groups that discuss your genre and similar topics. Be active in these groups. Share your writing. Agents and editors are starting to look at these online writing communities, so it may just be your shot! Goodreads, Figment, blogging, Wattpad, Writerscafe, scribophile are all great places to start.

No. 6: Kick-butt Query Letter 
        Your query letter is your golden ticket into the publishing industry.  Every word has to be perfectly planned out. I don't know how many times I rewrote my query. If you need an idea on where to start, check out these websites:

No. 7: It's Okay to Fail 
      Rejection is part of this business. When you finally get the courage to send out your masterpiece, you have to build up a thick skin. You have to detach yourself from the work and not allow rejections to hurt you. Because if you're like me, you're going to get a lot of them. Just think about all the other inspiring authors who were rejected multiple times: J.R.R. Tolkien, John Steinbeck, Dr. Seuss, Stephanie Meyers, Meg Cabot, and, of course, J.K. Rowling! 

No. 8: Keep Going 
        No matter how many rejections you get, keep going. Keep revising. Keep sending out letters. And if you feel like it's necessary to move on, do it. But move on to another manuscript. Write something else. Get back in the saddle. Do not let the rejections discourage you. Just because the first manuscript wasn't the winner, doesn't mean the second one won't be a bestseller. 

Remember, just because you're a teenager that doesn't mean that you can't do this. Teens have done this before, and we will do it again. You don't have to be an adult to succeed in this industry. Look at Kody Kiplinger (DUFF), Christopher Paolini (Eragon), Maya Van Wagenen (Popular) to name a few. If they can do it, so can you. If I can do it, you definitely can. Don't give up on yourself, your dreams, and your work. I believe in you. Now it's time to believe in yourself! 

Wishing You the Best, 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Back to Reality

     I have returned safely back to Tennessee, found myself a job, started my internship, and am trying to get myself into the swing of summer! I'll be doing a lot of blogging, not just for myself, but both for my job and for my internship.
     I will be working with a local tourist site in Townsend, TN called the Lily Barn, which is a gorgeous garden that grows all sorts of flowers, but their main attraction is their lily field, which they harvest and sell all over the country. However, their operation is expanding, and they need help. So I'll be working in the garden half the time, and the other half, I will be blogging and writing the monthly newsletter. So keep your eyes peeled for that :)
      For my internship one day a week, I will be at New Hope Blount County Children's Advocacy Center, a nonprofit that provides services for children who have been physically and sexually abused, as well as their families. I've been involved with this organization since my family moved to Tennessee, and it has a very special place in my heart. I will be doing a summer blog series for them during which I will interview different members of their team to provide a new perspective into the inner-workings of this wonderful organization. I'm very excited about this project and hope I can do it justice.
      On top of that...I have exactly 3 months tomorrow to prepare for Ascension's release August 27th!! Ah! 3 months! Freaking out a little bit... I honestly had no idea how much work there would be AFTER I finished the book, but it's okay. I'm cool. It's all going to pay off and be wonderful.
      Plus, I have the biggest TBR pile right now. It's ridiculous. 63 books on my shelves that I haven't read. I have a problem. A real problem. I cannot go in a  bookstore without buying a book. Someone please stop me. Im also trying to integrate a bit of culture into my summer reading by mixing in some classics (mainly english).
Little Women (yes, I know this is not British)
Wuthering Heights (I've read one Brontë, might as well read the other) 
Anna Karenina
Hard Times
A Tale of Two Cities
Great Expectations 
If I conquer all of these, then I am going to attempt to tackle Moby Dick. But we'll just see where the summer takes us. 

What are your summer plans? 

Later gators, 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Kept My Eyes Peeled

Basilique de Notre Dame, Montreal
Well, I'm all settled back in good ole East Tennessee after ten days in the beautiful Canada. I can't believe this trip went by so fast, and now it's back to the daily grind of reality. However, even though Canada is so close to us, there's some pretty big differences between our two countries :)
View from Mont Royal, Montreal

Chateau Frontenac, Québec City
  • Canadians love the A&W restaurant. Honestly, I'm pretty sure I saw more A&W shops than McDonald's. And that's saying something. 
  • Canadian dollar bills are PLASTIC! There's a clear shiny strip along the side. I thought it was super cool; I even saved a five dollar bill. Also, I'm 99% sure they don't have 1 cent coins. If you pay in cash and need a cent in change, they just round up or down. 
  • Many of you might already know this but the province of Québec is french-speaking. However Québec city is more strict in speaking French than Montreal. Because Montreal is so international and has a lot of immigrants, it is much more bilingual, which worked greatly to our benefit. 
  • Toronto is crazy about dogs and dog parks. They are around every corner. And you would think that Toronto being such a big city that it wouldn't be friendly for big dogs, but you'd be wrong! I saw goldens, mastiffs, great danes. I mean, that's crazy! And it was so green! 
  • Trains are now my preferred method of travel. Amtrak allows you to sit wherever you want, but Viarail (inter-canadian travel) is assigned seating like on a plane But you have plenty of leg room and a bigger bathroom than airplanes.
  • Canadians might like pizza more than americans do. At least, the amount of pizza shops around every corner makes it seem that way. 
  • Québec City
  • Coffee shops are also super common. At least three or four on every single street. 

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Toronto


I loved Canada, and I HIGHLY suggest doing your own Mini-Canada tour. It's a beautiful country with a lot to see and do. It's easy to navigate (well, Toronto is a little different), and we were able to get around without Wifi and just our brains and paper maps. This is a great first trip, not too foreign, everyone speaks English if you ask nicely, but it also has a very european feel to it. If you have any questions or want any recommendations, shoot me a comment!

Á Bientôt,

Friday, May 20, 2016

Toronto Wrap Up

It's almost over! These 10 days have just zipped by. Maybe Canadian time moves faster-that's the only explanation I can come up with. And Toronto feels like a completely different place than Montreal and Québec. We've decided that Toronto is definitely the NYC of Canada, while also having happening residential areas just down the street. So here we go, the end of a great trip:

~Allen Gardens ~ this is a charming park still near the immediate downtown area! It's got a great dog park with this giant statue of a corgi! (And there was an actual cute corgi there). It had a beautiful green house with some neat exotic plants. And the weather was perfect for a walk through the park.
~Underpass Park ~ we got a little lost and found this awesome little graffiti park/skate park/basketball park/playground and did a fun mini photo shoot.
~ Kensignton Market vs. St. Lawrence Market ~ well one is on the east side of the city and the other is on the west. St. Lawrence was ranked the number 1 market by National Geographic. It's indoor and has a wonderful variety of fresh produce, meat, dairy, and pastry products. There's also a few gifts shops mixed in there. Kensignton Market is on the more hip side of the city; it's all outdoor and runs down a few streets. Lots of restaurants, produce, and other items like clothes, jewelry, art, etc.
~Distillery District ~ this area in the old city is pretty cool. It's home to the original Toronto shoreline from 1832, and is another place for cute shopping and yummy eats.
~ Lake Ontario Harbor ~ at the edge of the city, has a nice view of the islands. This is a beautiful walk as the sun is starting to set!
~ Queen's Park ~ Home to the parliament building and leads directly to the University of Toronto's gorgeous campus! If I'd thought about coming to school in Canada, I might never have even considered Chatt! The buildings are old and charming; everything is so green. It's was just beautiful. Too bad they don't have the masters program I'm interested in :(
        +Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is a portion of the university's main library (which is huge), and it is magnificent. Plus, they had an awesome Shakespeare exhibit on display open to the public.
~ West Queen West ~ this is such a cute, hip, chic, happening neighborhood with a beautiful park, charming houses and apartments, and an awesome shopping selection. And I mean awesome. And lots of good food options for all you carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans!
~ Riverdale Farms ~ this cute little farm in a residential area that's attached to yet another park (Toronto is a lot greener than you'd expect a big city to be). It took us awhile to find, but we eventually got there. They have horses, cows, goats, pigs, chickens, geese, ducks, sheep, and the ugliest white turkeys I've ever seen.
~ Casa Loma ~ This grand home built in 1919 was once considered the finest home in Toronto. It was built for Sir Henry Mill Pellat and his wife. He is recognized for his leadership in a militia group and for helping to bring electrics street lights to Canada


~ Second Cup ~ This is a chain coffee shop in Canada that's got yummy coffee and some tasty pastries. We've gone there for breakfast all 3 days we've been here, and the baristas remember us :)
~ Beaver Tails ~ both a restaurant and the food we consumed. It's placed along the harbor in what looked like a little red barn. The actual food "beaver tail" is this oval piece of fried dough coated with the spread of your choice. I got Skor cheese cake with toffee crumble, and Kylee got maple and chocolate. This is a must consume food!
~ Toma Burger Addiction ~ in West Queen West. Great burgers with interesting combinations. They also have a vegetarian option and great mozzarella sticks!
~ Fernando's Hideaway~ This is the oldest Mexican restaurant in Toronto, and we were lucky enough to go to their original location on Yonge St before they move. Had some great nachos and fried ice cream!
~ Snack Stop ~ A cute little snack place across from Riverdale farms. They just had cheap food like poutine, hotdogs, fries, ice cream, etc.--just in case you need a refresher after spending time with the animals
~ Pizza Pizza ~ Since today was National Pizza Party Day, we decided it was necessary that we get pizza to celebrate. What kind of pizza fans would we be if we didn't? And Pizza Pizza is just like Canada's version of Papa John's. Cheap and filling :)

So that's it. Tomorrow Kylee and I part ways and leave our little travel bubble. Sorry to see our time coming to an end, but I'm so glad I've had this opportunity with my best friend!

Talk later, eh,

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Québec City Wrap Up

O'm writing to you from a ViaRail train on our way to Toronto, the last installment of our Canadian Expedition! Despite the wonky drop in temperature (it snowed yesterday!!!), we loved Québec City--especially Old Québec. Two days was the right amount of time to see everything we needed to see. Compared to Montreal, this little city is even more European, 100% French (if you're nice they'll speak in English), and quite quaint. This would be such a fun place for a honeymoon or a family vacation in the winter-très magique!


1. Old Québec 
      + The Notre Dame Basilica: It is just as breathtaking as the one in Montreal, and it was exciting because this year being Holy Year in the Catholic Church, this basilica was commissioned by the pope to build one of the Holy Doors, which is meant to be a symbol of unity. People of any religion or denomination can walk through the door and write down their prayers. Which is exactly what I did on Pentecost.
       + Canadian Maple Delights Museum/shop: Of course we had to stop here since Canada is known for their maple products! The little museum upstairs gives an in depth history of maple harvesting, the development of the cooperation between companies, and facts about maple in general. Did you know that maple syrup has potassium, magnesium, and calcium! Yummy and good for you! The shop downstairs has an almost overwhelming variety of maple products from syrup to tea to popcorn. And they always have samples going around.
       + The Church of the Holy Trinity: We didn't go inside, but when I saw they had a donkey and a goat to the side of the church, I had to go say hello! The donkey was a Christ donkey, the ones with crosses that go down their backbones and shoulders. And the goat was not happy that we didn't have anything to eat. You can feed them lettuce, but not anything else or else they'll get fat.
        + Chateau Frontenac: A beautiful, old hotel that is still a magnificent place to stay today! The American equivalent would probably be The Greenbriar in VA, but this is a little grander. You can take a tour or just walk through the public parts. We warmed up on Starbucks for a little while. Outside, you can walk along Le Dufferin Terrace and view l'Ile d'Orleans, the pastoral island across the way. We walked up the 355 stairs to Le Citadelle, and after all that huffing and puffing, it was closed for construction :(
         + Le Petit Champlain: A charming little area below the city. You can go down the stairs or take this little escalator/cart thing for 2.25$. This area is the oldest in Québec City, where all the old homes are that have even converted into souvenir shops and boutiques.
2. Québec City:
        + The Parliament Building: a beautiful building that's seen a lot of history! They have a gorgeous fountain out front, and a statue of suffragettes throughout history who helped to get women the vote!
        + The Erico Chocolate Museum/Chocolatier: A tiny little museum that gives history, method, and facts to chocolate making. I actually learned a lot! For instance, did you know that dark chocolate helps to prevent cavities, lower cholesterol, reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, AND is a good source of energy? I'm glad I like dark chocolate! The chocolate shop was delicious and very friendly!
         + St. Joseph and St. Jean Streets: These two main streets are great places for shopping in unique, vintage stores! We loved popping in and out of the stores, both to look and to warm up! And these also have a lot of restaurants. Speaking of...


1. La Buche: Traditonal Canadian food that is GREAT! Our concierge said it has everything that his mom makes at home. It has this cool new age-chic-hunting lodge vibe going on. And the bathroom was the coolest bathroom ever-probably the only bathroom I'll ever take a picture of. I had caramel crepes with blueberries and the best bacon I've ever tasted in my life! And Kylee had scrumptious French toast with thick maple sauce and apples. Bon appetit!
2. Le Bureau de Poste: Probably the best find of the entire trip! It's this awesome restaurant/dive//hangout place in an old Post office. Everything on the menu is 4.95$, except the drinks. We split crispy onion rings with honey (genius and delicious), and I had macaroni &scheme with bread crumbles and peppers. The buttered, herbed bread was perfect. A place like this would do so well in a college town!
3. Chasse Crepe Breton: Another cheap find. We had giant crepes for breakfast this morning for 8.00$ with tip! And they were fast, so we were able to get back to our hotel from the Old City in plenty of time. And very delicious!

**sidenote: This city is completely walkable. Just wear good shoes and be prepared for all types of  weather, even winter in the middle of May!

Bon journee,

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Montreal Wrap Up

Bonjour!! We've train-sported (my new word) to Québec City from Montreal, and boy did we love that city! We stayed with a friend, who we're still so grateful for letting us stay with her! She was the best hostess, and we really enjoyed getting to know her better!
Montreal is a very interesting, small yet big city with a lot of diversity and SO much to see. We really didn't see everything, although it seemed like we walked for days upon days. Here's a quick rundown of our 2 days in Montreal:
1. Depending on the length of your stay, it's very beneficial to get a 3 day metro pass (which also works for the bus system) for $18. Totally worth it because Montreal is a little too big to walk everywhere unless you're just really enthusiastic about that :)
2. Heading down to Le Vieux Port (the old port), we saw l'Hôtel  de Ville and the spectacular Basilique Notre Dame. The 5$ was totally worth it. Absolutely stunning. We walked along the river where we saw an amusement park in the distance and pattle boats to tour around. There's a string of  red buildings that is a market. We went to the Creme de la Creme for a snack. It's a beautiful area and we just kind of wandered around, didn't really have a plan.
3. We saw the Stade Olympique (which took place in Montreal in 1976) them walked up to Les Jardins Botanniques. We were pretty lucky that until tomorrow, just walking around les Jardins is free. We just didn't see the insectarium or the green houses, which we were okay with because--free! They show different style gardens like Indigenous, Japanese, and Chinese. The trees were beautiful, and the tulips at the entrance were stunning!
4. I always like to go to the grocery stores (épicerie) when I go to foreign countries, but Montreal's wasn't that different. What I noticed was Canada really likes Cadbury products and Miss Vickie's potato chips.
5. The second day, we took the bus up to Mont Royal, which is the mountain that the city is named after. We actually got there at the same time as a group touring from high school, and I had fond flashbacks to my past two summer trips :). It has a gorgeous view of the city (also free!). We walked the loop around, but there's not too much to see. Plus it started raining on us and got pretty chilly.
6. Mile End is this really hip, modern neighborhood with a lot of diverse history. We hit up St. Viateur's Bagel Shop. We went to the original, and it was great. I got two Rosemary bagels, and they were warm and delicious! I didn't even need cream cheese. They've been in business since 1957, and I can see why! A must stop shop! All the shops are very vintage, but also very selective in the clothing that they carry. Très chic!
7. We ended Day 2 at Le Musée de beaux-arts (fine arts), and since we only had an hour before they closed, we explored the Canadian art which was gorgeous and very unique.
8. La Banquise is a famous Montreal poutine restaurant. They're known for putting things besides just gravy and cheese curds on the dish! The line was out the door but moved very fast! It was so delicious! And dessert was at Le Diperie, which is soft served ice cream, them you choose your coating and a topping. It's like a McDonald's chocolate dipped cone, but 10 times better!
**Sidenote, Montreal also has a lot of A&W restaurants, which I find crazy because we only have 2 in East TN that I've seen!
9. This morning, we grabbed a croissant and coffee for breakfast then headed to St. Joseph's Oratory! The founder of this oratory, Brother André, was beloved. 1 million people came to the two funerals held for him here when he died in 1937. In 2010, he was canonized as a saint. Pretty cool dude. Before we had to headed to the train station, we stopped at Duc de Lorraine, the oldest patisserie in Montreal, for a macaron.

So put Montreal on your list, folks! It's a beautiful city with tons to see, especially on the old part. It's very diverse, but everyone speaks English. All you have to say is "Parlez-vous anglais?" Very simple. I loved it, and I'm so excited for the next chapter of the journey, Québec City!!

À Bientot,

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Oh, Canada, Here We Come!

     I'm so very excited to tell you guys that tomorrow at 5:50 am (gahhhh), my best friend and I will be on a train headed to Canada!!! We've been planning this trip since last summer, and I cannot explain to you HOW EXCITED I AM! I haven't seen her in too-many-long-years since we have been tragically separated by a move 6 years ago. Don't worry I've seen her since then. There will definitely be screaming, squeezing, and possibly tackling. We'll see where the early morning takes us.
     Anyway, we'll be touring Montréal, Québec City, and Toronto over the next two weeks, and it's going to be magnificent. We're going to see the old city, the new life, and the unique culture. And I'm definitely going to feel old-fashioned riding up on the train. I'll let you know if I recommend it as my preferred method of travel :)
      I don't know how often I'll be posting, but I'm hoping to give regular updates on our progress. This trip is going to be CRAZY, and again, I'm super beyond wonderfully EXCITED. Bonjour, Canada! Au Revoir au Les Etats Unis!

Cordialement à vous,

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!

    I'm so happy that I get to be in Pennsylvania with my Mom's side of the family for this jolly Mother's Day! I get to see my Grandma, my aunt, and I've gotten to see a lot of cousins, so that just makes this holiday extra special--celebrating multiple generations!
     I've been very blessed to have strong women in my family. All of my aunts and cousins are independent, hard working, kind, and make the most of life. We're all very different, but we also have a lot of similarities. It's just so great to be around them all because I love my family. Whenever those little quizzes pop up and have the question, "What is the most important thing to you?" I always pick family. Because without my family, I'd be nowhere. I wouldn't have the confidence or the resources that I do now. I wouldn't be encouraged to pursue my dream of writing if not for my family. I mean, it's in the genes after all!
    These strong, female role models that I have (because most of my cousins are older than I am) inspire me everyday to write characters reflective of them. Cheyenne Lane is a strong character. She's learning, and she's uncertain about a lot of things. But no one can call this girl weak. And if I didn't have my own role models to look up to, I wouldn't know what a respectable, capable, independent woman looks like.
     My Grandma was a nurse for years all while taking care of my Grandpa and five children. She survived growing up with seven brothers and sisters. Now, she rules the assisted living that she's in. Everyone loves her. She's witty, crafty, cares about the other residents. She forms relationships with the aids and the other workers. She survives and makes the best life for herself that she is able too. She's also an excellent sketch artist, but she'll never admit to this.
     My other Grandma grew up with a brother and two sisters in the deep south during a rough time. When she decided to start a kindergarten out of her home after she was married, she had to learn to drive so that she could pick up her students everyday in a huge VW bus. Years after my grandpa died, she continues to work full time as a children's librarian. She's just amazing!
     And then there's my mom, who will deny everything that I say about her, but I can guarantee 100% that there is no one as caring, hardworking, dedicated, loving, silly, determined, beautiful, charming, or outgoing as my mother. She is one of my best friends. She cares so much about everyone, and it never seems like what she does is enough for her. She can always be doing something, volunteering her time in some way--whether that is to her work, to nonprofit organizations, or to our family. She's always doing something. I guess that's why I can never just sit down and do nothing. I don't know how many of you have really read the full version of Little Women, but my mom is Marmee. If you've read it, you'll understand. And there's no better way to describe her.
      Anyway, I hope you all have the best mother's day, whether you are a mother, will be a mother, or are celebrating your mother--do it in the best way!


Thursday, May 5, 2016

A New Adventure!!

Hot off the press! Valarie Budayr's magical new book Dragons are Real just hit the market today, and it is a must read for kids! This book challenges everything on what we think we know about dragons. This story is amazing, and the illustrations, imagined and created by the wonderful Michael Welply, just bring these dragon friends to life.
I'm so excited to share this book with you. This team has worked so hard and created a wonderful new book that you're children, cousins, and friends are going to love!

Check out Valarie, Michael, and their dragon friends here!

Valerie's wonderful Kidlit blog:

Michael Welply's website and portfolio:

The Amazon Link:

Happy Reading,

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Meetings, Meetings and more Meetings

    Just kidding. It was just the one meeting tonight, but boy was it GREAT! We talked about the marketing plan for Ascension! My publisher showed up with seven pages of a checklist that have to happen before August 27th. Ah! 
    I did not realize how much goes into a book release. In my mind, it was just--write the book, edit the book, design the book, print the book, sell the book, and become a rockstar of the YA Lit community. No. No no. That's not how this works. Haha. I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO. Forget a part time job for the summer. THIS is my job. Ascension is my job. Besides, if I do a good job, it'll pay for itself, right? 
   But it's time to start getting ready for #Ascension, the first installment of the #CheyenneLaneTrilogy! 
   Eight years later, and it's finally happening. Still can't believe it! 

You guys ready for an awesome new book?!

Au revoir,