Frozen, Elsa, magic, Elsa magic

The Story of a Story

I have a story to tell you, gentle viewers.

It has to do with high school, and it has to do with elementary school, and it has to do with being a little kid with a pen. All that is just to say that it’s a very long story, so I thought we’d skip to the end.

This story, as the title of this blog post would imply, is really the story of a story.

Once upon a time, I wrote a gallumphy story.

Years ago there was

I went to Scotland once.

(There, I found it.)

Almost ten years ago, I set foot in Scotland for the first time. There’s a pervasive oral history in my family about our heritage. When I was in sixth grade, I still remember the words from my grandparents’ mouths when I asked them where we came from. Scotland, they said. And Wales and Ireland and Germany, depending on who I asked, but Scotland was always the first one mentioned. When I had the chance to travel at age 19, fresh out of my first year at university, it wasn’t a pan-European backpacking trip I planned. I got on a plane and flew to Scotland. And stayed there for the entire summer. For years afterward, I kept going back. Even if it cost a lot of money I didn’t really have, even if I had to make the time. I kept going back because the first time I set foot on the tarmac at the Prestwick airport, I had a sense of homecoming I don’t think has ever been replicated in my life.

From pubs to peat bogs, road trips to boats, late night walks across the firth and giant berries in the woods — Scotland snaked her way through my soul. She gave me love. It was there I met my two best friends — who later would walk me down the aisle at my wedding. It was there I met Paweล‚, who taught me about his home country and led me into a love affair with Poland, her language, and her history. Scotland was where I had many firsts. First overseas adventures. First real whisky. First lovers.

For ten years, Scotland has loomed large in my worldview. Every day I dream of going back. Because of the influence Scotland and her people have had on me, from my very existence to friends so stalwart and loved they’re better called family, it’s no doubt she worked her way into my writing. The first few books I wrote Scotland was an oft-visted setting. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know that those first two books never made it anywhere. But in the summer of 2012, it was my love of Scotland that coalesced with an irritation at a Spiderman trailer…and SHRIKE was born.

I scribbled. I scribbledย fast, because in six weeks, SHRIKE went from first line to completion. I revised, I flung it to my betas, revised MORE, and I queried. I found my agent last January. We went through revisions again…and then we went on submission.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, this (usually) process takes a long time.

You start out like this…

Anna, Frozen, excited


And when you hear that submissions can take months and sometimes years and that first books don’t necessarily sell it’s like this…

Frozen, Trolls, blink, troll blink frozen


But you keep going, because IT IS FINALLY HAPPENING. Editors have your book! So you keep on slogging, even though it feels like this…

Sven, Frozen, butt drag, reindeer frozenAnd occasionally this…

Frozen, reindeer, Sven slipping, Sven


The months went by, and 2014 loomed closer. SHRIKE takes place against the backdrop of the upcoming Scottish referendum for independence, so each week going by brought us closer to a point where the book might not hit shelves in time to be relevant. And I spent a lot of time feeling like this…


Submission, just like querying, can make you go like this…

Frozen, Anna, sad

And while you want to be this…

Elsa, cold never bothered me, frozen, let it go, song, idina menzel

Sometimes it still feels more like this…



What you really want to find is an editor who reads your book and gets exactly what you were going for…

Frozen, Anna and Elsa, chocolateAnd…



And it can feel like nothing is ever going to happen.

On the worst days, it can feel like this…

Elsa, Frozen, Elsa snow



But sometimes, sometimes, something magical happens.

Elsa magic, Frozen, elsa


For me, that happened (rather appropriately) the week of my birthday.

We got an offer of publication for SHRIKE.

If you remember when my birthday is, you’ll know it’s erm…right before Thanksgiving. Therefore right before the holiday season, when publishing famously builds an igloo and holes up until January.

What’s that? Oh, it’s January? ๐Ÿ™‚

That brings us to now. I am overjoyed and ecstatic and all sorts of other tremendous adjectives to announce that SHRIKE has been acquired by Executive Editor Mary-Theresa Hussey of Harlequin in a two book deal! Yeah, you read that right. She was fond enough of Gwen and her antics to ask for a second book!

olaf, hands down best day, frozen


I. Am. So. Excited.

frozen, anna, anna and kristoff, kristoff


The flat-on-face-feels have mostly turned into this…

Elsa magic, Frozen, magic, Elsa


And this…

Elsa, magic, Frozen


And this…

Frozen, Elsa, magic, Elsa magic


And this…

Frozen, Elsa, Let it Go



Frozen, Elsa, magic, let it go


I wanted to share this news with all of you! This is such a huge step, and I could not be more excited to work with Mary-Theresa to bring SHRIKE to you all. Even as amazing as this feels and as much joy as I get from creating stories, the best part of writing is getting the chance to share that with others.



I hope you’ll all love Gwen’s story as much as I do!

BIG thanks to everyone who helped get SHRIKE to this point: my fantastic agent Jessica Negrรณn; my bosom friend and critique partner Kristin McFarland; phenomenal betas Larz Yerian, Eleni Sakellis, Simon Pillatt, Martin Reaves, Alissa Leonard, Lyra Selene, Lindsey Auxier, and of course, Mom. Thanks also to Spouse, who puts up with me clabbering the keyboard day in and day out and is always ready to celebrate with some cheese-on-carbs goodness. And to you, gentle viewers, for being a part of this process for the past several years of my life. Thank you!

(UPDATE: The title has been updated to THE MASKED SONGBIRD, the first of the Scottish Songbird series! Look for THE MASKED SONGBIRD July 1 in a bundle and September 1 flying solo! You can add the book on Goodreads here!)

Want to know about SHRIKE? My fabulous agent made that super easy with this kick-ass poster!

SHRIKE 1sheetย 


SHRIKE Deal Announcement




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23 thoughts on “The Story of a Story”

    1. GAH, thank you! I am so excited and thrilled this is finally happening and that I can TALK ABOUT IT. ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

      Thank you so much, Amalia!

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