Friday, July 31, 2015

Let's Collaborate! *GIVEAWAY* guest Post with Amy Matayo

Last November I attended a writing retreat with a few friends—some I knew well, and some I had just met. The lake home where we stayed was sprawling and beautiful and on lots and lots of land, but the bedroom situation required roommates. I had three: one who lived near me in the great state of Arkansas (Jenny B. Jones—a good friend whom I had known long time), and two who lived in Dallas (Nicole Deese—my “writer wife” who encourages me through every book I write, and Tammy L. Gray—whom I had just had the pleasure of meeting).

            So one afternoon the four of us were all sitting on beds and working quietly when Nicole said this: “We all seem to get along well and like the same kinds of books. What if we all write one together?” We all looked up from our computers, sat there quietly for a second, collectively shrugged and grabbed notebooks, and then headed to the local Starbucks.

            Thirty minutes later we sat around a table with lattes and pens.

            Two hours after that, we had a plot.

            The next morning, we shot a bunch of author photos together by the lake.

            The next week, we talked book covers.

            And a few weeks after that, we traded finished stories, read through them, and then sent them all off to two very gifted editors.

            Six months.

The whole process took six months from the first idea to the publication date. To say it was a busy time is like saying Mt. Everest is kinda hard to climb. But it was worth it. The stressing and the writing and the crying and the wanting to jump off a building (or maybe that was just me?). It was worth all of it, because I love our stories. I love knowing it’s possible to work with other authors, navigate through different ideas and writing styles, and come out challenged and better for it in the end.

But why am I telling you this?

Because a big part of being a writer is learning how to wait. Waiting on story ideas. Waiting on writer’s block to pass. Waiting for the story to come together. Waiting on editors to tell you how good or bad your manuscript actually is. Waiting on query letters to be read and answered. Waiting on offers from agents...from publishers. And when you’re lucky enough to finally get a contract, waiting on publication dates that seem forever on the horizon.

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. It’s what we all do because it’s what we’re all used to.

But maybe you shouldn’t always wait. Maybe you should shake things up and jump in with both feet and try something you’ve never done before. Don’t have a story idea? Write anyway and see if brilliance will strike while you’re typing. Have writer’s block? Scratch out some sentences—even if they’re awful—and push your way through it.  Not sure where to go next? Grab a friend or three and talk it out together. Who knows? If you try those things, maybe you’ll have a book ready to go in just a few short months. The only thing I know for sure is that nothing much happens if you’re just sitting there waiting for inspiration to strike. Inspiration happens at the weirdest times.

At a writer’s retreat. At a coffee shop. Who knows?

Just get to writing. It’s a pretty good way to pass the time.
-Amy Matayo
STEP 1: Share this post on Facebook to help spread the word about Nicole, Tammy, Amy, and Jenny's fabulous new collaboration! 
STEP 2:  Leave your email address in the comments section here AND if you can think of one, name one of your favorite authors you'd LOVE to collaborate with!
STEP 3: I (Amy Leigh Simpson-your AlleyCat Hostess) will draw three names out of a hat and gift the winners an e-copy of JUST ONE SUMMER! The perfect summer read! If we can get a bunch of traffic here I'll bump it up to FIVE WINNERS. Go forth, spread the word! And please, if you read, make an author's day by leaving a quick review. <3
--Four Best Friends. Four Love Stories. Just One Summer. Four college girls, best friends since childhood, have found one constant in their ever-changing lives--summer. Every June the girls choose a destination to reconnect, only this summer is different. This year, each one must face life's challenges on her own, overcome fear and failure, and learn the beauty of falling in love for the first time. --
Amy Matayo is an award winning author of The Wedding Game, Love Gone Wild, Sway, In Tune With Love, and A Painted Summer. She graduated with barely passing grades from John Brown University with a degree in Journalism. But don't feel sorry for her--she's super proud of that degree and all the ways she hasn't put it to good use.

She laughs often, cries easily, feels deeply, and loves hard. She lives in Arkansas with her husband and four kids and is working on her next novel.
                                       Twitter: @amymatayo            Facebook:
Award-winning, best-selling author Jenny B. Jones writes romance with sass and Southern charm. Woefully indecisive, she writes YA, New Adult, and women’s romance. Since she has very little free time, Jenny believes in spending her spare hours in meaningful, intellectual pursuits, such as watching bad TV, Tweeting deep thoughts to the world, and writing her name in the dust on her furniture. She can be found at
Nicole Deese is a lover of fiction. When she isn’t writing, she can be
found fantasizing about “reading escapes,” which look a lot like kid-free,
laundry-free, and cooking-free vacations. Nicole is a Kindle best-selling author of The Letting Go series and A Cliché Christmas, book one in her new Love In Lenox series. She writes clean contemporary romance with an inspirational twist, and
lives in beautiful north Idaho with her swoony husband and rambunctious sons.
Tammy L. Gray is the kindle best selling author of the Winsor Series and Mercy’s Fight. She writes modern Christian romance and clean YA/NA romance. She believes hope and healing can be found through high quality fiction that inspires and provokes change.
Her books are about flawed characters who struggle in today’s world. She loves writing stories that offer hope to the broken, with the intention of taking the readers on a journey where they both cheer for and want to shake the hero/heroine. She aims to depict culturally relevant settings while presenting an uplifting message that will stay with readers long after the book is closed.
When not chasing after her three amazing kids, Tammy L. Gray can be spotted with her head in a book. Writing has given her a platform to combine her passion with her ministry. 


kim hansen said...

Sorry can't think of just one author I would like to collaborate with too many books i read from so many authors.

Christa Allan said...

Well, I'd love to collaborate with all four of you...and maybe Sarah Addison Allen or Lisa Samson or ..... Too many possibles!!!

Sarah Bennett said...

Karen Ball because she made me laugh in the little time that I talked with her. Or James Scott Bell; his expansive plots and writing methods are fascinating!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Great ideas, Christa and Sarah! I'd love to collaborate with maybe Susan May Warren or Kristin Higgins! Of course, these four are on my list too!!! :)

Casey said...

Hi Amy! Stick yours and Jenny's names on a book cover and I'm soooo there! Excited to see what you guys have done with this book. Congrats on getting it out there! :)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

It was a really fun read, case! You'll love it!

Jenny B. Jones said...

Thanks so much for featuring JUST ONE SUMMER. Great word, Amy M.!
I'd love to collaborate with Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Or maybe someone on the nonfiction side like Laurie Notaro or Rick Bragg.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for having me, Amy! So much fun. :)
I would love to collaborate with Tarryn Fisher. Would be so awesome.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

We've got WINNERS! Christa, Sarah, and Casey! Check your inboxes.... you're gifts will arrive shortly! Thanks for helping spread the word about this fabulous book!