Monday, December 30, 2013

Books Read in 2013

Stats: I read 122 books this year.

My “best of” in 2013 list:

The ones that had me laughing out loud the most:
The Best Man and The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins. Be prepared to CRINGE in the best way possible at some of the situations her characters find themselves in.
The Best Man (Blue Heron #1) The Perfect Match (Blue Her...

The book I cannot stop thinking about:
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. This is one of those books that devoured in two days and haven’t stopped thinking about since. A tough read, but very thought provoking.
The Storyteller

The book that made me feel smarter after reading:
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
The Power of Habit: Why We ...

The most beautiful language:
Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams
All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
Waiting   All the Truth That's In Me   If You Find Me

The one that made me cry the most (seriously, I cried for like ¾ of this book):
Mile 21 by Sarah Dunster
Mile 21

My auto-buys of this year (meaning I bought before I even read the sample):
Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter,
Kristan Higgins's novels,
Drops of Gold by Sarah Eden,
Second Chances by Melanie Jacobson,
Working it Out by Rachael Anderson.
*I absolutely LOVED all of them, btw. They are auto-buys for a reason…*

Barefoot Summer (Chapel Spr...   The Perfect Match (Blue Her...   The Best Man (Blue Heron #1)   Drops of Gold (The Jonquil ...   Second Chances   Working It Out

SOME of my Favorites from 2013:
Inspirational fiction:
Mile 21 by Sarah Dunster
The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen
Mile 21   The Maid of Fairbourne Hall

Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Falling For You   Out of the Easy

Middle Grade:
The False Prince by Jennifer Neilsen
The Epic Tales of a Misfit Hero by Matt Peterson
The False Prince (The Ascen...   The Epic Tales of a Misfit ...

Home to Whiskey Creek by Brenda Novak
The Best Man by Kristan Higgins
Home to Whiskey Creek (Whis...   The Best Man (Blue Heron #1)

The complete list of books I read:

Kaylee’s 2013 Books
*Books owned, + Whitney Eligible, RR- Reread

January (10)
*Her Good Name by Ruth Axtell
+*Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend by Becca Ann
*Wild Rose by Ruth Axtell Morren RR
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
Indelible by Kristen Heitzmann
Indivisible by Kristen Heitzmann
*Drops of Gold by Sara M. Eden
The Secret Diaries of Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn
*The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julia Klassen
Midnight Fear by Leslie Tentler

February (15)
Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
*V is for Virgin by Kelly Oram
*Blindsided by Kyra Lennon
*Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
*The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
The Epic Tales of a Misfit Hero by Matt Peterson
*The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson RR
A Match Made in High School by Kristin Chandler
*Epic Fail by Claire LeZebnik RR
+When Summer Comes by Brenda Novak
Case File 13: Zombie Kid by Jeff Savage
Of Grace and Chocolate by Krista L. Jensen
+*Do Over by Shannon Guymon
*A Trusting Heart by Shannon Guymon
Finding June by Shannen Crane Camp

March (11)
Feedback by Robison Wells
The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale
Lady Outlaw by Stacie Henry
*Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson RR
The Maid of Fairbourn Hall by Julie Klassen
Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Kiss of an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Freakling by Lana Krumweide
After Hello by Lisa Mangum
*The Best Man by Kristin Higgins

April (8)
*My Long-term (and at one point illegal) Crush by Janette Rallison (novella)
Easy by Tammara Webber
+*Glitch by Amber Gilchrist
The Space between Us by Jessica Martinez
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Smart Move by Melanie Jacobson
*Montana Summer by Jeanette Miller

May (10)
The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah E. Ladd
A Noble Groom by Jodi Hedlund
The Trouble with Flirting by Claire LaZebnik
*Waiting for Summers Return by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein
*The Guy Next Door by Katie Palmer
*Obsession by Traci Ambramson Hunter
*Bound to the Warrior (Love Inspired) by Barbara Phinney
Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George
Blue Smoke by Nora Roberts

June (10)
Six Years by Harlan Coben
*The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
*The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson
The Game Plan (WIP) by Ranee S. Clark
*A Lady and a Spy (novella) by Ranee S. Clark
*Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson
*Beauty and the Beast by Jenni James
*Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

July (8)
The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
Ripple (WIP) by Jennifer Bryce
*Emma: A Latter Day Tale by Rebecca Jamison
*It Happened at the Fair by Deanne Gist
Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer
Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham
The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen
They That Mourn (WIP) by Chanda Simper

August (12)
The Heist by Janet Evanovich
Inferno by Dan Brown
+Longing for Home by Sarah Eden
Daddy’s Gone Hunting by Mary Higgins Clark
+*Second Chances by Melanie Jacobson
The Elite by Kierra Cass
The Prince (a novella) by Kierra Cass
+*Friday Night Alibi by Cassie Mae
+Home to Whiskey Creek by Brenda Novak
*A Stranger in Town by Brenda Novak
Not Quite Dating by Catherine Bybee
Wife by Wednesday by Catherine Bybee

September (10)
Drift (WIP) by Jennifer Bryce
Room by Emma Donoghue
+Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
The Walk by Richard Paul Evans
*Miles to Go by Richard Paul Evans
Dare You To by Katie McGarry
Latent (WIP) by C. Michelle Jeffries
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
The Road to Grace by Richard Paul Evans
Return to Loan Oak by Amy Knupp

October (11)
*Surrounded by Strangers by Josi Kilpack RR
+*Mile 21 by Sarah Dunster
+*The Avery Shaw Experiment by Kathy Oram
+All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry
+Dead Girls Don’t Lie by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
+*Unexpected by Karen Tufts
David and Goliath by Malcom Gladwell
*Tell Me No Lies by Rachel Branton
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
+A Step of Faith by Richard Paul Evans
Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn RR

November (5)
*The Power of Everyday Missionaries by Clayton Christensen
*The Perfect Match by Kristin Higgins
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
+Take me Home for Christmas by Brenda Novak
*A Family by Christmas by Brenda Novak

December (12)
+Safe Haven by Jean Holbrook Mathews
*+My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White
*+Working it Out by Rachael Anderson
Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder
+Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
In Honor by Jessi Kirby
*Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Rule by Jay Crowther
Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
*On Writing by Stephen King

--Note: I don’t rate books because I just don’t J If it is on this list, I liked it enough to finish it. My DNF (did not finish) list is probably just as long as this one. Also, there are varying levels of content in a few of these books that some might find offensive (language, sex, violence) so if you are sensitive to any of that or want my thoughts on a specific book, send me a private message at kayleebaldwin at gmail.

First up on my 2014 TBR pile:
Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson (for book club)
Warbreaker (Warbreaker, #1)

What books should I add to my TBR pile for 2014?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Story Giveaway!

When Chase sees Clare during her brief Christmas visit to their hometown, he knows it's his chance to make things right between them. Considering he all but ignored her while on his mission, it's a tough task. 
After having her heart broken by him before, Clare is wary of a holiday romance. But a long-awaited goodnight kiss might change her mind.

Check out these blogs, featuring GOODNIGHT KISS this week:

And prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 16, 2013

Hope's Watch Cover Reveal

Cover reveal for Hope's Watch.

Click here for cover designer.
Elle Reinhardt loves people and has a gift for turning groups of strangers into friends. When she talks her best friend Lyn into taking a month-long Pacific cruise, Elle is in her element, gathering fellow passengers to her. But things go horribly wrong when a ship excursion ends in death and disaster at the hands of modern-day pirates. 

Filled with her own emotional wounds from the experience, Elle tries desperately to buoy up the grieving loved ones as they wait for news on those lost at sea. Malcolm Armstrong, friend of one of the missing men, arrives to act as family spokesman. Elle knows it’s unreasonable, but she resents his presence. When Mal offers the strength she so desperately needs, will she be able to let go of her animosity and accept his support? 

This ebook-exclusive short story includes special excerpts from both A Change of Plans and Torn Canvas (coming April 2014), books 1 and 2 of the Safe Harbors Series.
Coming January 16, 2014

A Change of Plans. Also available in audiobook.

Lyn wants to move on. She just doesn't realize it will take pirates, shipwreck, and an intriguing surgeon to do it.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Writing Process Blog Tour

So, I've been tagged by Ranee' S. Clark for The Writing Process Blog Tour!

1. What am I working on?
I am working on two books right now, both romances. The one that I just wrote "The End" on (on Saturday!) is my book for the Ripples Effect Romance series and you can go here if you're interested in learning more about the series. It's called Silver Linings and I've had so much fun writing Drew and Eden. Next up for that is initial edits.

I also have a full-length romance I'm working on that has been so much fun to work on. I am half-way through that one.

And, of course, I have a YA that I've started to outline and written the first few chapters and I REALLY WANT TO KEEP WRITING but I have to get these other projects done first because of commitments I've made to people.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
One of the ways my romances are different from other romances is that they are clean. That's probably the most obvious difference I guess. I've heard from readers who tell me that they LOVE romance, but they don't always want to read Inspirational romance and don't feel comfortable reading something that uses crude language or contains sex scenes. But, they still want emotional depth and swoon-worthy scenes.

I've listened to this, and my goal is to write deep, emotionally satisfying romances that can give my readers a few hours of escape from our stressful and hectic lives.

3. Why do I write what I do?
I write stories that I would love to read. My favorite genres to read are romance and contemporary YA, so that's where I'm drawn when I write.

4. How does your writing process work?
This is something that I'm still figuring out.

I'll tell you what's worked best for me.

1) I get an idea somehow. This can come from a television show, from a conversation I overheard, something from my life. Anywhere really. It starts out as just a concept: There is a girl who goes home for Christmas with her best friend and starts to fall in love with her best friend's brother (Six Days of Christmas).

2) I take that idea and keep asking: What if?
What if this girl isn't a big fan of Christmas because they never celebrated when she was a kid?
What if she has a huge project hanging over her head?
What if she's part of a power couple and her life seems planned out exactly the way she wants it?
What if her best friend's brother is a huge flirt (kind of annoying, totally cute)?
What if because he's annoyingly persistent, he's able wreck all of her carefully laid plans (would she like this eventually?)
What if, because she's not a fan of Christmas, she goes to BFF's house and they are Christmas CRAZY?

I go wild with the "What if's" Some don't make it anywhere near the book. (What if the BFF's brother broke up with his girl and then she shows up later?) <--- cut.="" got="" idea="" p="" this="">
I love to make my "What if's" put my characters in uncomfortable positions. I like things to be awkward and I love my characters to stretch. So I like brainstorming scenarios that are going to make them leave their comfort zone and venture into a place where they learn something new about themselves.

3) Then I try to put all these scenarios into a bare-bones outline. Very sparse. I just have to have a rough idea of where the story starts, the main conflict, what the climax is, and how it ends. (In a romance I would have something as simple for the end as: They get together.)

4) I start writing. I have to write several chapters (for me, around 10K words) before I feel like I really know my characters. I stop there.

5) Now that I know my characters better and know what they would/wouldn't do, I write a very detailed outline. Sometimes those first 10K words get thrown out (most of the time they do) because they are full of back-story. But they are invaluable to me, because they are kind of like my live get-to-know-you interviews for my characters. My detailed outline goes through scene by scene, separated by five acts usually (just because it helps my brain not get overwhelmed if I split my story into five parts). Then, depending on the length, I shoot for a certain amount of scenes per act. (In my ripples novella, I did five scenes per act, for a total of 25 scenes in the book).

*Note: Sometimes I do veer from what I had planned for a scene while writing. If I know that in a particular scene, I want to establish that the main character and her boyfriend are starting to have some friction in their relationship, I may veer from the planned scene to something different if a good idea strikes me, that still accomplishes what I need it to in order push my story forward. You can't let the outline rule you! What's the fun in writing if you can't play with the story now and then?

6) I write like crazy. I write my book from beginning to end, only skipping a scene if I need to do more research before I write it. First drafting is not the time for research (though outlining is. It's just small things like regional details, etc that I save for later)

7) After finishing the first draft, I go through it and fix all the places that I've marked for further research. If something developed later in the story that I hadn't anticipated, I also play with the beginning to make it consistent.

8) It's off to my mom and sisters. They are my first readers. They read it like anyone reads a book... not necessarily to edit, but to feel the flow. Does it drag? Are there characters you didn't like or didn't understand? Did you wish something had happened that didn't? Then I make plot revisions based on their feedback.

9)This is where my favorite part of writing happens... the art. I love to go through it at this point and play with my words, add description, ramp up the emotion, and do some in-depth revisions on the actual writing.

10) Then I send it to the beta readers. I have several rounds of people this goes to. I prefer to have about 3-4 people read through and edit my story because everyone has different perspective and pet-peeves. Ranee is usually my last reader because hopefully by the time it gets to her, all the obvious plot/mechanical problems are worked through and she can do an in-depth critique of what I think is the best I can do. Then we make it even better.

11) I print it off and make sure I didn't make any more mistakes while correcting mistakes (it happens.) I go through with a fine-tooth comb and try to make it as strong as I can.

12) Sumbit.

*At this point, I've read my story probably 10-15 times, and I'd be happy to never, ever have to read it again. :)

Okay! If you actually read all of that, you deserve an award. So, Celeste Cox and Beckie Carlson.... TAG, you're it! :)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Finding Joy In Hard Things Is Not Cruel

I read an article last night that really upset me. Not so much what was in the article itself (which in itself was very arrogant and tragic), but in the comments that followed.

This woman blames herself for her son’s autism. Really, she blames a myriad of doctors and nurses, but in the end, she feels guilty for a bunch of things she did THAT MOST PEOPLE DO and believes that those things caused her son’s autism.

And her son’s autism is the worst thing that ever could have happened to her.

Later in the comments when people try to point out that she is so focused on blame and tragedy that she can’t see the joy and blessing of a child with autism, she calls them cruel. How can she find joy in her son’s pain? How can she find joy in a situation that will make him different than everyone else and forever dependent on her? How can she find joy in such a flaw?

I had to stop reading the comments at this point and really wish I hadn’t read this article at all.  My heart hurts. It hurts for this woman who can’t let go of what could have been and embrace what IS. It hurts for her son who might grow up thinking that he’s flawed. It hurts for millions of people out there who might also feel this way: Am I to blame? What could I have done differently? How will my child thrive in a society like ours when s/he is so different from everyone else?

Then there’s the fear. There is this great amount of fear surrounding the idea of having a child with autism. Of having a child with a disability. It’s the fear of your child being bullied. Of never having friends. Of never getting married. Of never experiencing the same kind of life as other people around them. The fear of the “other.”

I have been here. I have sat in a doctor’s office while a doctor told me that my son would have Down syndrome.

 (And, here, some of you might say: Kaylee, autism is completely different than Down syndrome. You have no idea what it’s like to see your child go from normal-developing to just not. You have no idea what it’s like to have a child who looks like everyone else around them but struggles or just can’t function in society. You have no idea what it's like to have a child who can't look you in the eye or let you touch him. To this I say: You’re right.  But I know ALL ABOUT shattered expectations, about guilt and comparisons, about a child who can’t communicate, who can’t eat because of sensory issues, who panics in crowds, who can be overcome with anxiety in very public places, and the heartbreak of accepting over and over and over again that your child’s path is different (and more difficult) than most. So this is where I am coming from.)

I was twenty-one and married for less than a year when I found out my son would have Down syndrome. Every doctor’s appointment seemed to bring more and more bad news until I cried before every appointment. I didn’t want to go and learn that he’d have to have surgery hours after being born or he’d die. I didn’t want to know that they were concerned about his heart. I didn’t want to defend to two different specialists my decision to not learn more about abortion time-tables and options.

This was not how I envisioned my life. Or the life of my son.

I would lie awake at night and worry. I was so filled up with worry, sometimes I don’t know how it didn’t spill over from me and onto every around me. Maybe it did. I was in a bubble. A grief-filled bubble where no one even told me “congratulations” on my pregnancy anymore. It all felt like one, big tragedy.

I sat in the doctor’s office as he told us there was a 95% chance that our child would have Down syndrome, and I asked the question that I’m sure has been asked hundreds of thousands of times in doctor’s offices all over the world: “Why did this happen? Was it something I did?”

So, quick and super simplified lesson (since I recently learned that some people have no idea was Ds really is). Down syndrome is also known as trisomy 21. It means that the child has an extra 21st chromosome. I’d done some research online after our initial tests came back saying he might have Down syndrome and I was horrified. I had done so many things that people claimed could cause Down Syndrome—most offensive being that I had a chest x-ray done before I knew I was pregnant.

Surely I had caused my son’s Down syndrome.

My doctor assured me that a chromosomal disorder like this was determined when sperm met egg. There was nothing I did to cause it, nothing I could have done to prevent it. Also, in our particular case, it wasn’t genetic (determined by blood testing after my son was born). Still, it niggled—still sometimes niggles—in the back of my mind. That’s the way we’re built, I think. I’ve never met a mom who didn’t carry a heavy load of Mommy guilt on their backs at all times.

Where did that leave me?

With a choice.

1--I could choose to continue to blame myself and the doctors and everyone around me. I could get angry at God for not sending me my ideal child and letting this happen to him and me. I could stay wrapped up in my bubble forever, shut people out, and continue to mourn my son. Because that’s what I was doing. It’s hard to understand unless you’ve been there, but you mourn the future you thought you’d have. And the future you thought your child would have.

2-- I could accept it and try to make the best of it. Once I accepted it, I could start to heal and form a new future based on not just making the most of what I had—but finding joy in it as well.

I don’t know what I would have chosen without Gina Johnson. She runs Sharing Down Syndrome in Arizona, and my doctor asked my permission to share my contact information with her. Within days she called me and we set up an appointment.

I opened my door on a warm spring morning to this enthusiastic, vibrant woman who immediately pulled me into her arms, hugged me so, so tight, and told me: “Congratulations. You’ve been give the greatest gift you’ll ever get in your life.”

We spoke for hours. Then again on the phone. Then I went to her house and we spoke some more. I spent so much time with Gina and other people she introduced me to, that slowly my attitude started to change. What if I could look at this as a gift? What if this was a blessing and not the tragedy I’d believed?

My son is eight years old, now. He’s had twenty-one surgeries with two more coming up. Some of those surgeries have been planned, some emergency. He spent over eight weeks in the hospital in his first year of life, and I’ve lost track of the weeks since then, but it’s enough that the pediatric nurses at our closest hospital know our names.

He is in chronic stomach pain. There is nothing the doctors can do. We’ve had surgery after surgery. Loads of medicine and new medicines. He’s on adult doses of certain meds and still in pain. We’ve seen specialist after specialist trying to find something, anything to help relieve the constant pain he’s in. We’re still looking.

My heart still hurts for the things he’s missed and will miss. I am a very religious person (most of you know that I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and it’s a big deal in our church that our kids can choose to be baptized when they turn eight. Because of a volunteer position I have in my church of working with the 8-11 year old girls, I was asked to go to the baptisms for all the children in our stake the first Saturday in August. When they asked me to go, I don’t think they knew that it was the Saturday my son would have been baptized if things were different. He could be baptized, and after prayerfully considering it and talking with our bishop, we felt that Spencer wouldn’t understand what we were doing, that the crowds might cause him to act up, and that being lowered into water on his back would cause anxiety on his part.

Still, even after praying about it and knowing that we needed to wait until he understood, even knowing that he would never have to be baptized and that would be okay for him, I did not want to go to that baptism. I could have said something, but I didn’t. I went. Maybe part of me wanted to go and mourn.

And I did. I watched these beautiful children, all my son’s age, get baptized. They talked to their parents, they had friends, they could stand in front of a crowd of people and sit still when appropriate. They didn't run around the room knocking things over and throwing things, or bolt out the door for their parents to hopefully catch before they got outside to the street. They were preparing for a future that would lead to missions and marriage and families and children of their own. All things my son may never experience in this life.

So, I understand the heartbreak of difference. I understand of the hurt of seeing your child hurt. I understand the helplessness a mother feels when there’s nothing you can do but sit by your child’s hospital bed and pray. I understand the glares and judging comments from people when your child acts out in public. I understand what it feels to have people watch you struggle and do nothing to help.

But, he’s still a blessing. He’s still a joy. And I absolutely love my life. Yes, it’s hard and I’ve spent many nights crying myself to sleep because of stress and frustration, but I would not trade it for the future I thought I wanted back when I first got pregnant. 

I would not change who I have become because of him. I am a better person. More compassionate than I was. More able to see the light in dark things. I am strong.

It is not cruel to find joy in hard things.
It is merciful.
It is beautiful.

It is love.

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Little Explanation of Kickstarter

Okay, I've announced our new Ripples Effect Romance series that's coming out in March. 

I posted the fabulous covers and blurbs.

But I've been pretty quiet on one other aspect of this project. Kickstarter.

(Go here to learn  more about Kickstarter.*)

I hadn't had any exposure to Kickstarter before starting this project,and was really nervous about signing up and putting our books out there for people to fund. Isn't that what sales are for? I asked in one of our many back and forth emails with the other authors in the Ripples Effect series. I've never been a part of a project this big, and honestly didn't know how much money would go into covers, editing, marketing, fonts, etc. for six books. Nor did I understand the purpose of kickstarter.
 Rachael Anderson wrote a fantastic post about it here, and I'm going to quote a huge chunk of it because she's the one who helped me understand what a great tool Kickstarter is, and took me from being nervous about it to excited. 

"When it comes to releasing a professional book, it’s not cheap process. Not only do we authors invest a ton of time writing these stories, but we have to pay for things like cover design, editing, typesetting, marketing, etc. And because these are novellas, they will be priced low, which means an even lower royalty rate for us. We’re all entering into this project knowing we probably won’t make much money from it, and because of that, we'd love to be able to offset some of our initial costs. Kickstarter is such a great tool used by so many people in various professions (photographers, writers, artists, chefs, videographers, musicians, etc) for the purpose of raising funds to help with various projects that they feel strongly about but can't afford to do on their own.

The bottom line is this: All six of us authors don’t like how difficult it is to find clean, well written romances in the world today. It's frustrating how so many books contain sex and more sex, not to mention strong language. As a mother and person, I hate that and don't want to read books like that. I don't want those kinds of thoughts, images or words in my mind and definitely not in the minds of one of my children. Because of that, we'd like to keep contributing our small portion of fun and uplifting romances and this series is one of the ways we're trying to do that. But we also can’t afford to pour all this money and time into a project like this that we might not recoup.

That's where Kickstarter comes to play. We're hoping that there are others that feel as strongly about getting cleaner books out there as we do and wouldn't mind supporting our efforts. But at the same time, we don't want anyone to feel obligated in any way.

So, for those of you who are interested, if you would like to donate to our project (and get some free advanced copies of the books in return), wonderful. If you can't afford to donate but would still like to support us by posting about our project on your blog or FB or Twitter or wherever, we'd love that too. If you'd prefer not to do either, no worries--really! This project will come to fruition regardless of whether or not we raise the money. We feel that strongly about this series of books and the potential good it will do."

If you'd like to read more about this project, see what incentives we're offering, or find out how Kickstarter works, feel free to check out our Ripples Effects Romance page by clicking on the picture below:

So, I guess the point of this post is that I wanted to show you a little of my journey on how I came to really appreciate Kickstarter and see the value of it for creative projects which are needed, but have to have funding to come to fruition. If you have any questions about it (believe me, I did) just drop me at email at kayleebaldwin at gmail. If you get a chance, check out the link. For donating money, we're giving you e-copies, paperbook copies, signed copies, etc and going to work hard to get them to you before anyone else.
THANK YOU for everyone who has been excited about this project and has supported us through emails, tweets, blog posts, and kickstarter.

 We're all very excited for these novellas to come out and your enthusiasm has been amazing!

*Here's an explanation of Kickstarter from Wikipedia."Kickstarter is an American-based private for-profit company founded in 2009 that provides tools to raise funds for creative projects via crowd funding through its website.Kickstarter has funded a diverse array of endeavors, such as filmsmusicstage showscomicsjournalismvideo games, and food-related projects. People cannot invest in Kickstarter projects to make money. They can only back projects in exchange for a tangible reward or one-of-a-kind experience, like a personal note of thanks, custom T-shirts, dinner with an author, or initial production run of a new product.There are thirteen categories that are included (with many more subcategories). They are: Art, Comics, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film and Video, Food, Games, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology and Theater."

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mile 21 Blog Tour and Interview

From Back Cover:
The singles ward is the last place Abish wants to be. But after the unexpected death of her husband (and after being kicked out of her mom’s place), she has to move into single-student housing to finish up her schooling. Maybe training for a marathon and winning the heart of the handsome executive secretary are exactly what Abish needs to get a personal best.

My Review: 
I LOVED this book. I could not put it down. 

I've been in kind of a reading slump lately--where the last 4 or 5 books I've picked up, I either stopped reading about -way through, or finished them but was left feeling "meh."

When I started reading Mile 21, I had no idea what it was about, but it immediately suckered me in. It is so emotional and heart-wrenching and I had to see what happened to Abish. The back cover blurb makes it sound more romancy than it is. I wouldn't necessarily call this a romance... more an LDS women's fic with a strong romantic subplot, because ultimately, this book is not about the love story with Abish and Bob, it's about whether or not Abish will finally find healing in the end. 

I love a good healing story. So, so much. This book was right up my alley. I cried for so much of it--but I didn't feel trashed at the end. Kind of cleansed. Do you ever feel like you just need a good cry? The day I picked this up, I was having a hard day, I cried for Abish, and I set the book down and felt happier--like I'd needed this emotional purging and this book gave me the outlet to do it.

Would I recommend it? Yes. Already have and I know of one person who has bought and read it off my recommendation and really liked it.

The Interview:
Kaylee: Where did the idea for this story come from?

Sarah: Well, I have gone through some difficulty in my life. At one point I was pretty stressed out trying to manage everything expected of me in the aftermath of some pretty intense events that lead to me being a single parent, full-time employee and student at the same time. Let me just say, I was not always the most friendly or normal person to be around! I look back on that time with regret, but at the same time, cannot think how I'd change anything. Sometimes people just have stress and do the best they can, and need some slack as they work on recovering. So part of the reason I wrote this book was to give people a glimpse into the mind of someone who has dealt with unimaginable tragedy & isn't coping too well. I feel like we need to see each others' pain a little so we can understand and appreciate each other better.  I also love the process of healing, and I feltl like experiencing a healing process along with my main character, Abish, would be an inspiring thing for people. 

Tell me a little about your writing process. (Are you an outliner/pantster/hybrid, how long does a ms take you, do you edit as you go or plunk out a first draft then go back and edit)

I outline, and then my characters take over sometimes and I re-outline, and then I go back and cut out large chunks of the first third of my story and re-outline... I guess you could say I let my story grow but I have a general direction I want it to be. But sometimes that changes, and I go back and figure out what that means by planning again. So definitely a hybrid. 

 Are you a part of a critique group? If so, how does your group work.

I am, though I have not been able to attend regularly for the past several months, which I am very sad about.  They are an amazing group of people with a lot of knowledge about different types of writing and style. I have become a much better writer, having associated with them. Sorry, I'm gushing. I just love my critique group. We all bring 7 pages/10 minutes of material, read our own & pass out copies for others to mark up. Then each person will take a moment or two to say what they like & what they feel could be improved.  

4) Are you planning any sequels? Are you working on a new book right now? If so, what genre?

Yes. I am writing a sequel to Lightning Tree right now. That's historical fiction. I've considered taking some of the characters from this story, Mile 21, and following up with sequels about them eventually as well.  

 What are some of your favorite books?

I love children's fantasy literature. Joan Aiken, the Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Madeleine L'Engle. I also love Elizabeth Peters. She writes such strong, interesting, and hilarious female characters. I tend to be drawn to books with a strong flavor, or great character development. I also love Harry Potter.  

Tell me about your first book.

It's a story about a French-Italian girl who traveled from Italy with her family to join the Saints in Utah after their conversion. The parents die on the trail, and she & her sister are adopted by an American family. The story comes into play four years after their deaths, when she finds a secret that makes her doubt and fear her foster family. There is a lot of historical background--the Mountain Meadows Massacre, being the main thing.  It's a historical mystery story.  

Thanks for letting me read it!

Thank you!!   

Check it out on Amazon and Goodreads.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Awesome Writing Conference

Have you heard of this conference?

I went to it a few years ago, and it was great. It has a boutique conference feel--very intimate, small class sizes--and has amazing editors and agents to pitch to. Scroll down to see who's going to be there this year.

I just signed up for this year. I hope to see you there!

Go here to sign up.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cover Reveal and Giveaway!

I am so excited to announce a new series of clean romance novellas that I am apart of.

The Ripple Effect Romance Novella Series 

"Like a pebble tossed into calm water, a simple act can ripple outward and have a far-reaching effect on those we meet, perhaps setting a life on a different course—one filled with excitement, adventure, and sometimes even love."

Book 1: Home Matters by Julie N. Ford
Book 2: Silver Linings by Kaylee Baldwin
Book 3: Righting A Wrong by Rachael Anderson
Book 4: Lost and Found by Karey White
Book 5: Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver
Book 6: Immersed in Love by Jennifer Griffith

Home Matters by Julie N. Ford

According to her mother, Olivia Pembroke was born to be a star. But how is she supposed to be famous when she can't even get a decent acting gig? Her lucky break comes when she lands an audition for a wildly popular home improvement show. Even though she has no design training and has never even held a power tool, she refuses to let that stop her. She's confident that her destiny is finally within reach.

When her affections are torn between her heartthrob co-host and the irritating, yet somehow endearing lead contractor, does she continue to reach for the stars? Or does she design a new happily ever after? One that leads not to the fading lights of fame and fortune, but to a love that will burn forever.

Silver Linings by Kaylee Baldwin

Drew Westfall wants nothing more than to forget what he had to do in the name of "smart" business. Cutting off all ties with his parents—including handing over the entire contents of his trust fund to a charity—he takes off for Bridger, Colorado where his best friend has an extra room for him. It doesn't take long for him to realize that his business degree won’t do him much good in a town as small as Bridger, but he's broke and has nowhere else to go.

Eden Torresi has every reason to wallow. Not only did she lose her mother, but she had to drop out of nursing school and is in a relationship with a guy unwilling to commit. But Eden isn't the wallowing type. Instead, she chooses to spend most of her time taking care of the seniors at Silver Linings Nursing home. When she learns that her boyfriend's new roommate is down on his luck, her caring nature makes her want to reach out to him and offer what help she can. But the more time they spend together, the more complicated things get, especially when the seniors of Silver Linings decide to play matchmaker.

Righting a Wrong by Rachael Anderson

Seven years ago, Cambri Blaine fled her small hometown of Bridger, Colorado after her senior year ended in a fiasco. Only Jace Sutton knew the real reason why—that she was a spineless coward. Now, seven years later, her father's been in an accident and needs help, and Cambr has no choice but to return home. So with trepidation, she takes a leave of absence from the landscape architecture firm where she works and boards a plane, hoping against hope that Jace is no longer around and that the past can stay where it belongs—in the past.

If only life worked that way.

Jace never expected to see Cambri again. After she’d led him on, bruised his heart, and left town without a backward glance, he was forced to pick up the pieces and try not to hate her for it. Eventually, he put it behind him and moved on, creating a life for himself in his beloved hometown. But now that Cambri is back and looking more beautiful and sophisticated than ever, some of those old feelings resurface, and Jake instinctively knows, for the sake of his heart, that he needs to avoid her at all costs.

If only it were that easy.

Lost and Found by Karey White

Lydia was supposed to have an adventurous and exciting summer. Instead she's done nothing more than read and eat takeout. Now it's time to go home, and what does she have to show for it? A big fat nothing. Unless, of course, her trip to the airport somehow turns into something more than just a flight home.

Blake feels like he's been sent on a wild goose chase. While work is piling up back in Denver, he's on the other side of the country, hunting for some mysterious box that his grandfather left him. Well, no more. Nothing inside that box could possibly be more important than the opportunity to make it as the youngest partner at his firm. So he's going home, and that's that. But that's before he discovers his flight has been cancelled.

When these two strangers meet at the airport, they make a split-second decision to search for the box together. Maybe with both of them on the hunt, Lydia can have her adventure and Blake can find the box. And maybe, if they’re lucky, they’ll even find some romance.

Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver

Thirty seven year old Francie Davis, a recent widow and empty nester, gets to attend college at last. She’s sure her luck has changed when she also lands a job on campus that will pay her tuition, as administrative assistant to a history professor. When her handsome new boss yells at her on the first day of work, Francie worries she will never be good enough.

For Professor Alex Diederik, life is going downhill fast. Not only is his bitter ex-wife trying to poison their only daughter against him, but now his one place of solace—his work environment—is being complicated by his attractive new administrative assistant. She drives home his feelings of failure as a husband and father, and Alex wonders if hiring her was the right thing to do.

Francie will have to put aside her hurt and insecurities or risk her dreams, while Alex must look outside himself if he’s to mend the breach with his daughter. And, perhaps, find someone who can help heal his pain.

Immersed in Love by Jennifer Griffith

Lisette Pannebaker speaks five languages and has a brilliant business plan—personal language immersion. Clients can hire her to shadow them and speak all day in any language they need to learn for business or travel—whatever.

But there’s a major hitch: she’s far too pretty. Clients with less than honorable intentions sign up just have Lisette at their side. Solution? A make-under. Way under.It works like a charm. None of her male clients show her the least bit of interest.

Until… Erik.

Erik Gunnarsson is charming, kind, and smart—everything she’s ever looked for. Even though he seems to have a secret and she swore she'd never date a client, Lisette is tempted to shed her disguise—even if it means jeopardizing her career.

Giveaway Details
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 10/31/13

Bloggers who put up a spotlight post about these books on their blog can enter to win an additional $25 gift card or paypal cash.  See details in the Rafflecopter.

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Book Spotlight: The One and Only Ivan

(Book spotlights: In which I take the best of the best from the books I’ve read this year and shout out their goodness to all of you lovely folks…)

The One and Only Ivan

I don’t even know why I picked this book up off the shelf at my library. First of all, it’s about animals, and I don’t do well with animals. Second of all, it’s from the point of view of a gorilla, which also is not my thing.

But it was on the express reads shelf at my library, and I’m a total sucker for the express reads (something about how I can’t renew these books because so many people want to read them just draws me in every, single time I go to the library…)

Here’s the blurb:
Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

What makes this book so amazing:

The voice.
Applegate gives Ivan this amazing voice, and found myself cheering for Ivan (and crying for him a few times as well.) Amazingly, Applegate somehow wrote this in a way that made me connect with a gorilla. That is talent, friends.

Also, Applegate was brilliant at taking something really familiar, and making it feel new and different. The themes of this book are very common in middle grade novels: unlikely friendships, unlocking your potential, and pushing through when things get difficult. But telling it this way made those themes feel fresh, fun, and unique.

This book is full of heart. I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

First Day of School

I was one of those crazy nerd kids who LOVED school and couldn’t wait for summer to be over so I could go back.

The thing is, summer is fun and all, but I grew up in Arizona. I remember one summer, it was so hot that the bottoms of my Keds melted when I stepped into the street. We had a metal swing set in our backyard which was pretty much unusable from May until September. You can see heat waves coming up off the sidewalk and the news did (does) “heat advisories” against going outside.

So my sister and I (she’s younger than me by a couple years) spent our summers:

Watching Gilligan’s Island reruns, The Price is Right, I Dream of Genie, and Days of Our Lives.

Playing Barbies.


Reading. I read a TON. I remember getting angry because my mom would only take us to the library once a week, and my library card had a limit of 25 books. Yes. I wanted to read more than 25 books in a week. Side note: I also remember being angry that only one Babysitters Club book came out a month. What was wrong with that Ann lady? Couldn’t she chug out multiple books a week? Same anger toward the authors of the Sweet Valley High, Sweet Valley University, and Nancy Drew books.

And homework. My mom made my sister and I do worksheets every morning. What’s funny about this is that we were always in the advanced learning programs at school, but I honestly don’t (and never did) feel smarter than most other kids. Sometimes I wonder if we just forgot less because Mom made us do schoolwork all summer, so we had a leg up on everyone else at the beginning of the year when they did all those placement exams. Or maybe it was those 25+ books a week I was reading.

Sending my kids back to school is bittersweet, but I absolutely love this time of year. And my kids also love going back to school.

Did you love the first day of school?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Emma: A Latter Day Tale Blog Tour

Emma's her name and matchmaking is her game! 

Quirky life coach Emma wants to help her first-ever client, a lonely nanny named Harriet. But all of her attempts at matchmaking result only in embarrassing miscues and blunders, leaving the pair disheartened and confused. 

This modern take on the Jane Austen classic shows that sometimes the greatest match is the one we make for ourselves.

Pure fun. If you are a fan of Jane Austen retellings or cute LDS rom coms, add this one to your TBR list pronto. I really enjoyed reading this book—and when I heard it was coming out, I JUMPED at the chance to review it.

Emma is not my favorite Jane Austen book—and probably my least favorite Jane Austen character (though Fanny from Mansfield Park would run a close second…)—but Rebecca Jamison did a fantastic job of staying true to Austen’s characters, while giving Emma believable motivation for meddling in other people’s lives. This Emma was so dang likeable even while I want to shake her and tell her to stop putting her nose into everyone else’s business, because she genuinely cared for other people and wanted to do the right thing.

You can also check out Jamison’s first book Persuasion: A Latter Day Tale.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Reasons Why I Might Stop Reading Your Book

I’m not one of those people who feel compelled to finish a book once I’ve begun. There are so many awesome books out there and I only have time to read so many, so if a book doesn’t grab me and hold me tight, I’m done.

Here are some reasons (in no particular order) I’ve stopped reading books in the past few months:

1)      The men sound like women.
Example: Male love interest checks himself out in the mirror and primps, while internally obsessing over what the female love interest is going to think of him.

2)      Unbelievable conflict
Historical Romance: They can’t be together because he’s rich (except, he’s not because he gave up everything to come to America and make his own way in the world and is actually rather poor and estranged from his snobby family) and she’s poor (except, her dad was a super successful rancher and she’s extremely well educated.) I honestly didn’t understand what was keeping them apart.

3)      The conflict could be resolved with one conversation.
Personal Pet Peeve: Books revolving around an innocent miscommunication.

4)      I can’t connect with the characters.
I think this one is different for everyone, but I have a difficult time connecting with a character when I don’t understand their motivation.

5)      Boring/overdone premise that doesn’t offer me anything new once I get further into the story.
What did Snyder say in Save the Cat? Give me the same thing only different. Something like that. I’m sure I’m totally butchering the quote, but still—that’s what I want when I read commercial fiction.

6)      Slow starts with a ton of background info.
Example: I’ve recently read two books that revolved around someone inheriting a house they need to fix up—a premise I truly enjoy (which is why I picked up two books with it)

The first book started with the girl showing up at the house, seeing the mess it was (and thinking that she needed a project like this to take her mind of the massive mess she’d made of her life), and meeting the hunky/emotionally wounded/completely closed off  contractor all in the first few pages. -à I was immediately drawn in to the story.

The second book started with a girl thinking. Then she thought some more. Then she found out about the house, which of course, led to more thinking. Then a flashback that was supposed to be sad, but I had a hard time caring because I had no context for who she was talking about, then more thinking. We didn’t meet anyone in the first chapter except the main character, and she didn’t do anything but ponder the change this house would bring to her life. SHOW ME!-à Now, maybe the rest of the book is amazing, but honestly, I’ll probably never know.

7)      There’s nothing in particular that I can pinpoint, but I’m just getting a “meh” feeling. I don’t really feel a need to get back to it.

What makes you put a book down?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Reading for fun...?

It’s almost impossible for me to read solely for enjoyment because I am constantly analyzing the books I read.

If it’s good, I’m asking myself:

Why did I like that scene so much?
What kinds of things did the author do to make me feel for this character in such a strong way?
What specific writing techniques were employed in this chapter that made it stand out to me?
What made this an “un-put-downable” read?

If it’s bad, I analyze that as well.

I’m constantly asking myself: What worked in this book? What didn’t work in this book? Why?

I feel like I’m back in college and I need to write a paper on If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch and dissect what she did with her language, the POV, the plot, the characters, the symbols, everything that added up to me not being able to put it down.

Can you turn off writer-brain when you read?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Win a Copy of A Lady and a Spy

Back Cover Blurb:
Blanche Audley's old-fashioned grandfather cut off her mother after she married Thomas Audley and his millions of "new money," and for the last ten years since her parents' deaths, Blanche has lived under the gloom of his disappointment. So when she recklessly loses a thousand dollars to Etta Channing in a game of baccarat, she will do anything to keep her foolish actions from him. Except he oversees every penny she spends of the wealth her father left her, leaving her no way of paying the debt without his knowledge.

Until Etta offers her a deal. Alexander Whealdon, one of the most eligible bachelors in town, needs a companion to shepherd his younger sister through her first season. Etta wants Blanche to take the position and use it to infiltrate the household and pass along information that will help Etta get her hooks into the reserved Mr. Whealdon. It seems like an easy way to pay off the debt and save face at the same time. But the more Blanche sees of Mr. Whealdon's playful side, not to mention his surprising generosity, the less she wants to help Etta win him over.

Backing out means humiliating herself and disappointing both her grandfather and Mr. Whealdon, not to mention losing Miss Whealdon's trust and friendship, but if she goes through with her promise to Etta, she will lose what might be her last chance for love.

My Thoughts:
I have been SO MUCH in the mood for historical romance lately, so this weekend I pulled this novella up on my Kindle and read it for the second time. It's a really fun, well-written romance. I love Ranee's writing. She can be so funny--and I don't want to give too much away, but one of my favorite parts is this hilariously awkward moment involving Blanche and Alex and a garden hedge. The romance is so sweet and I can't wait to read what she has coming out next! If you're in the mood for a funny, light-hearted romance, I highly recommend this one.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ranee` and her personal superhero, her husband, live in Wyoming where they are raising three future super-villains. When she's not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in her living room or losing to one of her sons at Uno, she loves to read and write. She has a bachelor’s degree in history that is probably useless, but she had a lot of fun earning it. She blogs about writing, reading, and editing at

Valentines Contest to Win $75 and 7 Books!

I'm a part of an amazing Valentines Giveaway to win $75 or these seven e-books: Her life had just begun, but his had already ende...