Leo's Angel Oak Tree

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Happy Book Birthday to one of the best books I've ever read.  Definitely in my TOP 10 book list. To celebrate the release of WHO R U REALLY?, I would like to welcome its author, Margo Kelly. 

Margo Kelly’s Path to Publication

 In January, 2009, I decided I wanted to change careers and pursue a long forgotten dream of becoming a published author. Sound familiar? I purchased Janet Evanovich's HOW I WRITE and Writer's Digest's GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS, and I began my research into the industry.

Six months later, I finished my first manuscript, MANIFESTED, and I started sending out query letters. The rejections flooded in. I had tough skin. I knew rejections were part of the process, but one of the form letters pushed me over the edge. I struck a match and sent the rejection up in flames. (Yes, that was back in the days of snail mail.) Then I took a deep breath and went back to querying.

I also started writing my next manuscript. I read more books on the craft of writing, subscribed to magazines and journals that would help me better my skills, wrote flash fiction to tighten my story telling, and connected with two great critique partners that I met through online communities.

A year later, in August, 2010, I had finished my second manuscript, THE EDUCATION OF THIA, and began to send out query letters. The requests for partials and fulls came in right away! I was so excited! But then rejections followed. I paid attention to the agents’ feedback, because I wanted to improve the story and make it saleable, but it was tricky, because while one said, "The main character is too naive" another said, "The main character sounds too adult." I revised none-the-less.

With a bright and shiny polished version of the story, I headed off to my first writer's conference. I met up with my critique partner, Melissa, and we had an absolute blast. Plus, two agents at the conference requested my full manuscript, and I just knew one of these fabulous agents was going to offer me a contract. Yes-sir-ee!! I went home too excited to work on any writing. I was waiting to hear from the agents.

More than a month later, I sent very polite follow-up emails to the two agents from the conference. Both responded, explaining how busy they were (of course, I understood, I wanted them to take care of their current clients first, that made sense). But I was demoralized. I couldn't seem to start a new manuscript. So I pulled out MANIFESTED and dusted it off. I figured I could work on rewriting it and improving it until I found my writing mojo again.

Three months later, one of the conference agents emailed to tell me she’d decided to shelve my manuscript, unread. She was no longer looking for new clients. By the summer of 2011, the second conference agent emailed and apologized for the delay in reading my manuscript. She said the writing was great, but it didn't excite her enough to offer me representation.

My tough skin had been broken, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue down this publishing path. Then I was diagnosed with a rare 12mm lesion in the middle of my brain. After a lot of time and money, the specialists decided there was nothing they could do about it. I had to reevaluate my life, my priorities, and my goals. What if my time was limited here on earth? How would I want to spend it? Through self-evaluation, I realized writing was still important to me, and as a result I refocused my efforts with great fervor.

On November 11, 2011, I sent out eleven queries for BUT HE LOVES ME (formerly known as The Education of Thia). A dream agent from my dream agency requested a partial the same day (it was a Friday). Monday, she requested the full. Wednesday, she requested a phone call. Thursday, we discussed ideas for revisions. I loved all of her suggestions, and my mojo exploded! She said if I could accomplish these revisions, she'd offer me formal representation. I wanted it! I got to work, and I was on fire!  I sent her the revised manuscript about a week and a half later (I know, it sounds like I rushed it, but I'm telling you: I was ON FIRE!!). She read it right away and requested more revisions. I got right back to work. I was still excited about the process, and I was thrilled to think that someone had caught the "vision" of my story. While I was busy working on more revisions, she surprised me and mailed me a contract! YES! Not to mention, in the time I was working with her on revisions, other agents had requested partials and fulls. Out of respect, I contacted them to let them know I’d received an offer. One of the agents told me I’d be nuts to not accept the offer from this great agency.

On December 12, 2011, I signed with Brianne Johnson of Writers House. I’ve been smiling ever since, because I have the best agent from the best agency.

From there, we finalized revisions and made another title change before sending the manuscript out on submission. It took a while to sell, partly because the main character’s age put the story on the fence between middle-grade and young adult. However, Jacquelyn Mitchard of Merit Press (an imprint of F+W Media) saw the “merit” in the story and made an offer. With another title change and more revisions, the book, WHO R U REALLY?, will finally be published on September 18, 2014.

Now I’m polishing my next manuscript, and I’ve already started writing another. The publishing process certainly requires persistence and patience, but the future is so exciting.


Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel. Margo welcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

Follow her online:
Twitter: @MargoWKelly

Scheduled Appearances:
September 26, 2014 – 5pm – Book Signing at Hastings in Meridian, Idaho
September 27, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Hastings on Overland in Boise, Idaho
October 3, 2014 – 7pm – Book Launch Party at Hyde Park Books in Boise, Idaho
October 11, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Barnes & Noble in Boise, Idaho


Who R U Really?
When Thea discovers a new role-playing game online, she breaks her parents’ rules to play. And in the world of the game, Thea falls for an older boy named Kit whose smarts and savvy can’t defeat his near-suicidal despair. Soon, he’s texting her, asking her to meet him, and talking in vague ways about how they can be tougher forever. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit’s allure, and hurtles toward the very fate her parents feared most. Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea’s life spins out of control.

“Kelly has painted a realistic picture of how a smart girl can get caught up in something dangerous online. … Guaranteed to give readers goosebumps.” -- School Library Journal.  (http://www.bookverdict.com)

“Thea’s mistakes, while frustrating to encounter, are frighteningly plausible, and the relationships among characters are well–fleshed out, especially between mother and daughter. Kelly’s first novel is a suspenseful page-turner.” -- Kirkus Reviews (www.kirkusreviews.com)

Who R U Really? will be published in hardcover and e-book versions by Merit Press (F+W Media) on September 18, 2014.

Buy online:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

WHO R U REALLY? Cover Reveal!

I'm so excited to share this news with all of you.  My writing partner and good friend, Margo Kelly's debut novel is heading to stores near you.  I had the privilege of reading an advanced copy of this novel, and IT IS FABULOUS!!!!  Every girl should read this amazing book immediately. Tell all your friends.  Let's get the word out! Congratulations Margo!

To celebrate the cover reveal for        Who R U Really? Margo Kelly is giving away TWO Advance Reader Copies of the book! Visit www.margokelly.net to enter by Sunday, May 11, 2014!

by Margo Kelly

Merit Press -- September 18, 2014


Thea's overprotective parents are driving her insane. They invade her privacy, ask too many questions, and restrict her online time so severely that Thea feels she has no life at all. When she discovers a new role-playing game online, Thea breaks the rules by staying up late to play. She's living a double life: on one hand, the obedient daughter; on the other, a girl slipping deeper into darkness. In the world of the game, Thea falls under the spell of Kit, an older boy whose smarts and savvy can't defeat his loneliness and near-suicidal despair. As Kit draws soft-hearted Thea into his drama, she creates a full plate of cover stories for her parents and then even her friends.

Soon, Thea is all alone in the dark world with Kit, who worries her more and more, but also seems to be the only person who really "gets" her. Is he frightening, the way he seems sometimes, or only terribly sad? Should Thea fear Kit, or pity him? And now, Kit wants to come out of the screen and bring Thea into his real-life world. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit's allure, and hurtles toward the same dark fate her parents feared most. Ripped from a real-life story of Internet stalking, Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea's life spins out of control.

About the Author:
Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, Margo is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her debut novel and will be published by Merit Press in September 2014. Margo welcomes opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.



Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone and have a happy New Year! Here's a funny Song my family and I love to play during the holidays! Enjoy!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Motivational Monday!

Hey there, everyone! Here's a little something to give you some motivation.  Let it inspire you to keep going, or give the kick in the pants you need!

Let us not forget the fallen soldiers and their families. Always remember their sacrifice!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hello! Today I wanted to share some fantastic news from my school.  Our YWP (Young Writers Program) have published their first novels, written during NANOWRIMO! The kids were so excited to see their names and publishing seals on those books today.  Below is the news clipping from our school district website (http://www.scuc.txed.net/news.cfm?story=1362&school=0). Join me in giving a Writing Community cheer to these young novelists!

Sippel Young Writers’ League members publish their first novel

This year, John A. Sippel Elementary School Young Writers’ League participated in the National Novel Writing Month Challenge (or NANOWRIMO). This competition challenges each young writer to pledge the month of November to pen a novel in 30 days. Yes, you read that right…30 days! Each writer gets to choose their own, workable word count goal from 1000-50,000 words. If the student completes their word count goal, they are validated as winners and receive a prize package including seeing their novel published.
Led by Fourth Grade Teachers, Melissa Dean and Sarah Reed, Sippel Stallions pledged to write a combined total of 167,500 words in 30 days. By beginning with the end in mind, being proactive, and synergizing their efforts, The Sippel YWP made this November’s NANOWRIMO writing challenge a huge success. Forty students surpassed their word count goals, and by month’s end, had written 202,763 words. That means that 40 Sippel Stallions will have their novels published.
Greatly supported by Sippel Elementary Principal, Mrs. Kelley Mosley, students were given Workday Tuesdays afterschool to collaborate with teachers and other writers on ideas and plot points. Weekly Updates on the team’s word count goals were announced on the PA system and a team bulletin board in the Fourth Grade Hall displayed their progress. Everyone from Administration, faculty, and parents cheered on these young novelists all the way across the goal line. Students even received weekly pep talk emails from some very famous authors like Christopher Paolini (Eragon series) and Aly Condie (The Matched series).
This program could not have been as successful without the encouragement and financial support of the SCUC Education Foundation who awarded the Sippel Young Writers’ League a 2010 Innovative Teaching Grant for $5,000 to purchase iPad 2s and iPod Shuffles. This technology has helped so many students to realize their dream of being published novelists.
The Sippel Young Writers’ League has completed the publishing process. Students will receive five paperback copies or one hardback copy of their novel. They will celebrate with an Author’s Day for the community during the last week of school.
Posted: May 22, 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012



Thank You, Elana Johnson, for writing a character with a "Z" name, and quite a good character! 

Zenn is Vi's perfect match, and the Thinkers have chosen him to be Vi's mate. He comes across as a poster boy for The Goodies, or conformity in their brain-washed world, but for me he has an understated strength about him.  He wants to be with Vi and love her, but she's always in trouble.  He believes in her.  He's quiet and content.  He reminds me a lot of Peeta Mellark whose shares that charismatic quality.

And, this is it for me for the 2012 A-Z Challenge! I hope you enjoyed the posts as much as I enjoyed writing them.  I also hope that I motivated you to pick up some of these novels in the future to  learn more about these MEMORABLE YA CHARACTERS!

Peace out!

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Y, OH Y!!

Alas, after a month of searching, I couldn't find any characters with a "Y" name. I have decided that this must be remedied immediately. So, I am going to use this post to share some fantastic "Y" names so my writer friends might possible use them in the future.  So, are you ready?



And the best YA name for a character that begins with "Y": *drumrolls*


After I wrote this post, my students informed me that they knew of a character with a "Y" name.  I said, "Really?", and they said that I had read them the book.  I was gobsmacked.  I couldn't remember to save my life, so I asked them which book. And they were right, in the book, Hank Zipzer #6: HOLY ENCHILADA by Henry Winkler (Yes, the FONZ), there was a character by the name of Yoshi Morimoto.  So, I stand corrected. Thanks kids!



Here's another sneak peak of one of my characters who just so happen to have an "X" name, Xavier Dunning.

Xavier can be described with one word, devious. He's the antagonist in my novel, SOLSTICE, and quite a good one.  I remember writing the climax and finale and having to leave my computer every few minutes because I despised him so much.  I even went so far as to tell my husband that if this novel ever made it to the big screen, I wouldn't want to meet the actor playing him.  He's that deplorable.

But, that's what makes him memorable in the end.  Xavier has no boundaries and definitely no mercy.  He will hunt, torture, and won't think twice about it.  Having to delve into his psyche was sickening, but he exemplifies what villains are supposed to be with lots of twists. 

He's described in the novel as tall and gorgeous with a wrongness mixed with his smile. His eyes are little crazed, and he has a heavily accented voice.



I really couldn't wait for my "W" post because I knew immediately upon choosing this theme that I wanted to write a post on Wesley Rush, one of my all-time favorite YA characters.  He is a truly memorable character from Kody Keplinger's THE DUFF.

Wesley starts out the novel with what can only be described as deplorable manners.  Kody describes him as the ultimate man-slut and slimy.  So, what's there to like?  I wondered myself, but as soon as he comes onto the page, he's electrifying.  I seriously thought, there is no way he can be this despicable.  I played right into Kody's hands. 

Wesley turns out to be so much more.  He's affectionate, sincere, kind, and chivalrous. By novel's end, the reader is screaming at Bianca to look again at this boy and see below the surface. 

I read this novel in one sitting.  I could not put it down, and I rooted for both Bianca and Wesley! It was thrilling and real-life.  I loved the book and I loved Wesley Rush!

Some of Wesley's best lines:

“Spanish, huh?" he said, glancing down at the scattered papers as he grabbed them. "Can you say anything interesting?"
"El tono de tu voz hace que queria estrangularme." I stood up and waited for him to hand over my papers.
"That sounds sexy," he said, getting to his feet and handing me the stack of Spanish work he'd swept together. "What's it mean?"
"The sound of your voice makes me want to strangle myself."
Kody Keplinger, The Duff

“Your sense of humor needs some work, then," Wesley suggested. "Most girls find my jokes charming."
"Those girls must have IQs low enough to trip over.”
Kody Keplinger, The Duff
I think about you much more than any self-respecting man would like to admit, and I'm insanely jealous of Tucker - something I never thought I'd say. Moving on after you is impossible. No other girl can keep me on my toes the way you can. No one else makes me WANT to embarrass myself by writing sappy letters like this one.
Only you.

Kody Keplinger, The Duff