"Archer captures the voices & vulnerabilities of her characters with precision." – Publisher's Weekly

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Guest Post by Nikolas Baron of Grammarly

rain in papercupHello Peeps! Long time, no post . . . I know, I know. Here are my excuses: Moving out of my home of 21 years, gutting of the new house and a 6 month remodel, unpacking boxes and setting up a new place, insomnia, a hangnail, it’s cold outside…you get the idea. While I work hard to get back on the writing track, I have Nikolas Baron of Grammarly here today to spiffy up my tired blog with a wonderfully informative Guest Post. All you writers reading this, are you an “eker” or a “flyer?” Read on and find out! Without further ado, I give you Nikolas…

Like Rain Into a Paper Cup: Writing By The Seat of Your Pants

Ask any one who has studied composition, and they’ll tell you that in the world of writing, regardless of genre, there are two primary types of writers. You have those who plan every single word and sentence, carefully laying out exactly what each paragraph will say, how it will say it, and how it will fit into the larger context of the entire piece. Let’s call them ekers, because they eke through their manuscripts. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, you have those who write by the seat of their pants, caring little about what they write, but caring more about actually writing it. We’ll call them flyers, because they fly through the writing process.

Some writers try to find a way to fit into the middle of the spectrum, carefully planning a little, but still giving themselves the freedom to fly. However, all writers will favor one side or the other. And there’s nothing wrong with that; there’s nothing wrong with either extreme. They both have their benefits and their drawbacks. For example, ekers will take a long time to plan before they even lay down the first word. They will, however, end up with stronger first drafts that don’t require as major of edits as other writers. In fact, many writers adopt this philosophy early on because they hate to deep edit subsequent drafts.

That said, I’m not so sure you should so quickly discount flying through your manuscript. In my work for Grammarly.com, I study the different online tools people use to become better writers, and I think in the modern world of computing, writing by the seat of your pants is a more than viable option, and it’s certainly an option you should consider.

The benefits of flying through your manuscript are numerous:

  • The biggest benefit is that you’ll actually write. A good portion of people on the Internet consider themselves writers, and they’ll be all too quick to tell you all about the book they’re writing if you ask them. If you ask them how many words they’ve written, however, many of them will tell you a small amount, especially compared to the amount of time they say they’ve      been working. Writing by the seat of your pants allows you to stop worrying about what you’re writing and actually start writing. Don’t worry about what you’re putting down; you can read it over later.
  • Another benefit of writing by the seat of your pants is that it’s a wonderful cure for writer’s block. If you’re struggling to get a piece down on paper, often by just writing, you’ll start to see the piece shape itself with each paragraph, and by the end of the manuscript, you’ll have at least something that looks like what you want the final product to look like.
  • Lastly, writing by the seat of your pants allows you to consistently practice your writing skills. Just like athletic ability, writing is something that needs to be practiced on a consistent basis to keep your skills sharp. If you’re spending all of your time planning and plotting, you aren’t working those skills. Don’t get me wrong. Planning and plotting can be a part of writing, but it’s not the only part. The actual process of laying words down on page, practicing word choice and crafting sentences, needs      consistent, strong practice to remain sharp.

While there are definite benefits to writing by the seat of your pants, keep in mind that there are also a few drawbacks. The biggest one, of course, is that writing by the seat of your pants leaves you with more editing work to be done on the backend. I would argue, however, that editing is also a skill that needs practice, so writing by the seat of your pants can give you the opportunity to do that as well.

Of course, in this modern age of computing, there are services online that can help with proofreading as well. For example, at Grammarly.com we offer one of the most sophisticated grammar checks on the Internet which will scan your text for over 200 common grammar mistakes. Keep in mind that even the most sophisticated grammar check is not a substitute for actual editing. You still need to ensure that your story makes sense. It can, however, be an invaluable resource for finding all of those silly little typos and grammatical errors that arise from flying through your manuscript.

As I said before, there’s no right or wrong way to write. Whether you choose to be an eker or a flyer, as long as you eventually lay words on the page, you will be fulfilling your role as a writer. Don’t be too quick to discount flying, though. While there are definitely some drawbacks, the benefits of writing by the seat of your pants are certainly worth noticing.

By ~ Nikolas Baron



Nikolas Baron discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.


Hear ye! Hear ye! Writers and Readers…

Hear ye cliip art   HEAR YE! HERE YE! Writers and Readers… Don’t miss these 2 GREAT events!!!


Dee Conference banner


Sept. 13 & 14, 2013


Writers AND Readers:

HBR Banner





For more info on both events, check out my Events & Appearances page



Come See Me at Barnes & Noble in Amarillo, Texas!


       THE SHADOW GIRL by Jennifer Archer

The Shadow Girl | Jennifer Archer

“…the ending is just mind-blowing.”- Books With Bite

Saturday, June 29

from 2:00 until 4:00 pm 

Barnes & Noble, Amarillo, Texas


Brain & Beauty Food For Writers & Readers

kaleHey, did you know that the green, leafy vegetable Kale will make you smarter and better looking? Yeah, it’s true. In fact, according to Web MD, kale is “one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet.” It helps protect against cancer. It lowers cholesterol. So…where, you ask, does it say anything on Web MD to back up my claim that Kale will make you smarter and more pleasing to the eye? Well, healthy people feel better, and when you feel better, you think more clearly, yes? And thinking more clearly makes you smarter. You also have a nice glow and smile more when you feel good, right? And a glow and a smile make a person more pleasing to look at. I rest my case.

Let’s face it, though. Kale does not look all that appetizing and when eaten raw, it isn’t, in my opinion. Which is why I waskale chips so surprised when I ate kale chips recently at a restaurant and absolutely LOVED them. I’m betting you will, too, so I’m sharing the recipe that the restaurant shared with me. The world needs smart, beautiful readers and writers! Try these, then leave me a comment and tell me what you think.

Rinse and pat dry kale leaves. Tear leaves from stems to form small chips. Put leaves into bowl and drizzle with olive oil (enough to coat lightly). Toss with hands and gently “massage” oil into leaves. Turn onto cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 350 for approx. 25 minutes. (Cooking time varies with oven. Check chips periodically. Cook until no longer wilted, crisp but not burnt).


Writers + Librarians + Students = Good Times

I had a wonderful time at the Texas Library Association Conference in Ft. Worth on Thursday and Friday! I had so much fun, in fact, that I completely forgot to take pictures! 🙁 Oh, well.  Fortunately, I found a couple that relate to my time there.

Here I am on a panel with the other featured authors for this year’s Spirit of Texas Reading Program- Middle School. So glad they captured my best side. Ha.

Me, Karen Blumenthal, Chris Barton, Veronica Goldbach, Andrea White


Although I’m not in this pic, I did get to spend a little fun time with these two lovely Amarillo ladies. My friend and critique bud, Anita Howard, whose amazing cover for her upcoming novel UNHINGED was revealed at the conference. And Crockett Middle School’s librarian, Sharon Brooks Cooper.

TXLA Anita

A.G. Howard and Sharon Cooper


Thanks to everyone who came through my line at the booksigning. And to everyone else who made this year’s TLA an amazing success!



The Shadow Girl Blog Tour #1

Shadow Girl Modge Podge Blog TourHurray! The Mod Podge Blog Tour for THE SHADOW GIRL starts today at Icey Books  http://www.iceybooks.com/! I hope you’ll follow along. It’s a music and video-themed tour so turn IMG_1485up your volume! Here’s the scoop on prizes and the schedule of dates and places, including links to the blogs:

1st Blog Tour: THE MODGE PODGE BOOKSHELF Blog Tour for The Shadow Girl:
April 8 through 19. There will be a tour-wide giveaway of 4 prizes: (1) Kindle Paperwhite with cover (2) Silver violin/heart pendant with necklace chain (3) autographed copy of The Shadow Girl (4) autographed copy of Through Her Eyes.
Schedule: April

Book Giveaway on Goodreads For The Shadow Girl

My publisher, Harper Teen, is giving away 15 advance

copies  of The Shadow Girl. March 9th is the final day

to enter! Click here 

  • The Shadow Girl by Jennifer Archer
    The Shadow Girl
    by (Goodreads Author)

    Release date: Apr 09, 2013
    Enter to win an advance copy of THE SHADOW GIRL, a chilling new mystery from Jennifer Archer.
    Giveaway dates: Feb 09-Mar 09, 2013
    15 copies available, 1150 people requesting
    Countries available: US and CA


Welcome to the NEXT BIG THING Blog Hop.

A blog hop is like a giant game of tag to help readers discover authors who are new to them. For this hop, authors are answering questions about what we’re working on now. This week, I’m it.

I was tagged by Leanna Ellis (http://leannaellis.com/news.html). Visit her blog to see who else she tagged. Follow the hop long enough and you’re bound to find books you’ll love!
Here is my Next Big Thing!

1: What is the title of your upcoming book?

My next release, THE SHADOW GIRL, will be available in April from Harper Teen.The Shadow Girl | Jennifer Archer

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?
I think an experience I had long ago in 5th or 6th grade might’ve planted the seed for the idea. I was at school and alone in the girls’ restroom while everyone else was in class. At the sink, I glanced up and saw myself in the mirror, and for just a brief, startled instant, I thought, “Who is that girl?” Of course, I realized it was my reflection, but even so, it was a little unsettling! During that instant, I had sensed that my reflection was another person, someone apart from me. After I finished writing my last book, THROUGH HER EYES, and was ready to start something new, I thought about that long-ago experience and wondered what it would be like for a girl if she sensed the presence of another person with her all the time. THE SHADOW GIRL — Lily’s and Iris’s story — grew from that, I think.

3: What genre does your book come under?
Like my last book, THROUGH HER EYES, THE SHADOW GIRL is a Young Adult novel. It’s a through_her_eyes_mystery with a light science fiction element and some romance, too.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Another tough question! Let’s see… Rupert Grint, best known for his role in the Harry Potter rupert grintmovies, would make a great Wyatt — Lily’s best friend. That is, if his hair was more strawberry blonde, rather than red. He might be getting a bit old for the part, though. But he’s cute and looks like he’d have Wyatt’s great sense of humor. Then there’s that look of mischief that fits, too!

Liam Hemsworth, from The Hunger Games, would make a perfect Ty. He’s so good looking, plusliam-hemsworth-la-12-27-12 he has the tormented look down pat, doesn’t he?! He’s probably getting too old for the part, too. Dang… But with a good makeup artist, anything’s possible.

As for Lily … I’m thinking Sarah Bolger, who played Princess Aurora in the Once Upon A Time television series. She is very pretty, and can pull off Lily’s wholesome, fresh, outdoorsy look. Sarah Bolger

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Hmmm. I can’t do it in one sentence! How about 7? : For as long as Lily Winston can remember, she has never been alone. Iris, a shadowy figure who mimics Lily’s movements and whispers in her ear, is with her always — but invisible to the rest of the world. Iris is Lily’s secret. But when Lily’s father is killed in a tragic accident, his cryptic final words suggest that he and Lily’s mother have been hiding secrets of their own. Suddenly, Iris begins pushing Lily more than ever, possessing her thoughts and urging her to put together the pieces of a strange puzzle her father left behind. As she searches for answers, Lily finds herself drawn to Ty Collier, a mysterious new boy in town. Together, Lily and Ty must untangle a web of deception to discover the truth about her family, Iris — and Lily’s own identity.

6: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft took 11 months to write. But I wrote many more drafts after that before arriving at the final version.

7: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I always have a difficult time comparing my books to other writers’ novels. However, my publisher thinks THE SHADOW GIRL will appeal to fans of BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver and IF I STAY by Gayle Forman. I’ll take that as a compliment, because I absolutely loved both of those books!

8: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The Spanish Peaks of Colorado were one inspiration. My husband and I own a cabin in the Spanish Peaks, and I wanted to set a story there. It’s a beautiful, remote setting in the mountains, and the Peaks are rich with Indian legends and folklore. I was able to incorporate much of that into the storyline.

Below are two authors who will be joining the blog hop next Wednesday. Be sure to bookmark and add them to your calendars for updates on WIPs and New Releases! Happy Writing and Reading!

Lindsay Cummings is a very young, very talented young woman who recently made her first two book sales! You will love her and I predict you’ll also love her books! Here’s the link to her blog: http://lindsaycummingsblog.blogspot.com/

Jenna Aucoin Mills (who also writes YA as Ellie James) is one prolific, talented lady! She has a YA series you’ll love, as well as writing wonderful adult romance novels. Here’s the link to her blog: http://elliejames.net/blog/


THROUGH HER EYES Chosen for the 2013 Tayshas List!

tayshas I’m ending 2012 with some awesome book news! Through Her Eyes was selected to be on the 2013 Tayshas through_her_eyes_High School Reading List!

A little (humble) bragging, if I may: Here’s a little snippet from the notification I received from the Texas Library Association. “The Tayshas reading list highlights the best fiction and non-fiction books for Texas teens. It is one of the most respected state reading lists in the country…”

How cool is that?!

Some of my all-time favorite books and authors have been on the Tayshas list in the past. Here are just a few:

SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson
JOY SCHOOL by Elizabeth Berg
DREAMLAND by Sarah Dessen
INCANTATION by Alice Hoffman
OWL IN LOVE by Patrice Kindle
THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy
SHINE by Lauren Myracle
BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver
THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold
DOUBLE HELIX by Nancy Werlin

Now you understand why I’m jumping up and down!

To read more about the Tayshas list click here

You can read more about and/or purchase Through Her Eyes at the following sites Amazon   Barnes & Noble   IndieBound   Harper Teen



Breaking The Rules — For Once, You’re Allowed

My short novella BREAKING THE RULES is available in ebook format now! This novella was originally published by Love Spell in 2003 in the HEAT WAVE anthology. Isn’t the new cover great?! (I love anything involving a beach). If you’re in the mood for something fun to read to take your mind off the holiday rush and transport you to someplace WARM, I hope you’ll check it out. (And it’s only $1.99. Seriously. See for yourself, here.) Here’s a little teaser:

Sometimes love is worth breaking all the rules.

When Claire Mulligan’s fiancé decides they should become contestants on the popular reality show Eden to win money to save their failing business, she reluctantly agrees. But once filming starts, James seems more interested in the other female contestants than her.

After an impulsive attempt to draw his attention, Claire finds herself naked on the beach during a total island blackout. But instead of James, cameraman Mitch Talbott comes to her rescue. He can’t see her; she can’t see him. But the sparks they generate light up the night.

When morning comes and Claire has disappeared, Mitch decides it’s worth breaking the rules to find his mysterious sea maiden. But will he be able to convince Claire to forget about James and take a risk on him?


Oh, and my non-fiction book on the creativity/happiness connection, HAPPINESS REHAB, is available now in paperback! Order a copy for all your friends (and one for yourself) and give the gift of  learning to live more creatively in 2013!

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading,



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