The Writer’s Voice – WHISPER Query and First 250

I’m so excited to be a part of The Writer’s Voice! Thank you so much to Brenda Drake, Kimberly Chase, Nikki Roberti, and everyone else volunteering their time for this contest.


Genre: YA Contemporary

Word Count: 65K


Seventeen-year-old Chloe Matthews is done with guys, done with her ex, and done with the cowboys of the Grand Teton Mountains. She refuses to get hurt again.

All that matters now are the horses. Every horse Chloe helps is another piece of herself put back together. But Jack Hunter, town favorite and arrogant cowboy, has most of the horse training business locked up and needs it to keep his dad’s ranch open. Although, instead of using whips and spurs, Chloe trains with encouragement and trust, showing there’s a better way.

When a horse needs a safe haven, Chloe’s only choice is to accept a bargain from Jack – she teaches him her training methods in exchange for a hidden pasture on his ranch. Working so closely with the flirtatious cowboy challenges Chloe’s ‘no guys’ rule, until she learns her ex is out of prison and hell-bent on picking up where they left off.


WHISPER First 250 Words

Jackson, Wyoming. My new town. So different from home. Better in most ways. It was the promise of a new life, a place where nobody knew me. My future was open and wild, and I was free.

I’d spent the last two hours posting my horse training flyers up and down the plank-wood sidewalks of town. Laughter and music tumbled out of cowboy bars and shots thundered from the old west show a few streets over.

Just as I taped my last flyer at the corner of Cache and Broadway, a sinewy arm reached over my head and tore it off.

“Hey!” I said as I spun around.

“Don’t need any more horse trainers around here,” a teenage guy said as he crumpled my flyer in his fist. “Especially no punk-rock, SoCal wannabes.” His blue eyes challenged me from beneath his black cowboy hat.

The hair prickled on the back of my scalp. I stumbled back, but there were plenty of people on the sidewalks, and like hell was I going to let him treat me like that. I stepped forward, ripped the flyer out of his hand, and said, “Who do you think you are?”

He gave me a sideways grin that was probably meant to be charming. “I’m the only trainer this town needs.”

He was cover material for American Cowboy magazine with his dark eyebrows and smart-ass lips, but that grin wouldn’t work on me. I was done with guys. All of them. I was incapable of picking a good one.

Thank you for your time and consideration, and thank you to The Writer’s Voice.

Tanya Spencer

It’s Finally Here! LOVE AND OTHER THEORIES by Alexis Bass!!!

Love and Other TheoriesPlease join me in congratulating my critique partner and friend, Alexis Bass, as her YA debut novel, Love and Other Theories, releases today!

When my fellow critique partners and I read this story, we knew it would be the one – the one that would get Alexis an agent – Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary. The one that would get her a book deal – HarperTeen!

Love and Other Theories takes you on an exciting emotional journey through friendships and romantic relationships. You won’t be able to get the characters out of your head! A Must Read!


If you want more, you have to give less.

That’s the secret to dating in high school. By giving as little as they expect to get in return, seventeen-year-old Aubrey Housing and her three best friends have made it to the second semester of their senior year heartbreak-free. And it’s all thanks to a few simple rules: don’t commit, don’t be needy, and don’t give away your heart.

So when smoking-hot Nathan Diggs transfers to Lincoln High, it shouldn’t be a big deal. At least that’s what Aubrey tells herself. But Nathan’s new-boy charm, his kindness, and his disarming honesty throw Aubrey off her game and put her in danger of breaking the most important rule of all: don’t fall in love.

Check out this amazing Kirkus review:

A system for avoiding heartbreak falls apart in an unexpectedly insightful tale of friendship and loyalty.

Aubrey’s friends spend their weekends making out with boys at parties, drinking Slurpees mixed with vodka, and hurling insults at their ex-friend, Chiffon. Now that Aubrey has gotten into her dream school and eased off her work schedule, she can join them. Just before the start of their junior year, Shelby, the de facto group leader, developed the titular theories. High school boys, according to the theories, are incapable of commitment, so girls should enjoy sex and never expect anything afterward. But when good-looking outsider Nathan Diggs shows up in Aubrey’s drama class, and Nathan and Aubrey quickly become inseparable, Aubrey is tempted to forget that she’s become “evolved.” What looks poised to be a romantic comedy (girl meets boy; theories fail; love triumphs) turns into something far more complex and bittersweet. Each character’s life is carefully imagined, from Chiffon, the target of the girls’ ridicule, to Shelby herself, whose carefree armor slowly begins to crack. The bullying is never forgiven. The lovers, once estranged, are never entirely reunited. The theories are indeed debunked, but what is left in their place is a kind of vulnerability and regret that can’t be summed up in a romantic platitude.

Careful, subtle and aching. (Fiction. 14-18)

Love and Other Theories is now available (as of December 30, 2014) at Barnes and Noble, and other fine book stores and retailers everywhere!

Congrats, Alexis!

You CAN Be Happy for People Who Get What You Want

Jealousy is an ugly thing. We’ve been taught all our lives that it’s bad. So why do we still feel it?

Jealousy stems from the belief that there’s not enough to go around – enough success, love, luck, or (fill-in-the-blank) with whatever it is you want. But there IS enough. Just because someone else gets what you want doesn’t mean there’s nothing left for you.

Don’t get me wrong. I know all about those ugly green swirls in the pit of your stomach when you hear someone else got what you’ve been pursuing for years – someone who didn’t work as hard as you or as long as you and got what you wanted before you. How fair is that?

That’s called life.

But that doesn’t mean it’s over for you, and it takes nothing away from you.

You are unique a individual on your own journey with your own unique talents and gifts. There has never been another you, and there will never be. Feel special yet? Because you’re a one-of-a-kind, your journey isn’t going to look like anyone else’s. Your gains don’t take away from anyone else, and others’ gains don’t take away from you because their journey has nothing to do with yours.

We’re all put on this earth to share our gifts and everything we need is out there just waiting for us to find it. The adventure is going out there to discover it – like our own personal geo cache filled with all that we need to make our dreams come true. When we embrace this, life becomes rich and exciting.

It also leaves us with no reason not to be genuinely happy for other people’s success. When we support others, we put our best selves forward and spread positive energy which enables us to better and faster reach our own goals. Win-win!

Case study – We’ve all seen the football players who stomp around having tantrums because they don’t feel they’re getting enough playing time. What do we think? That they’re babies. What does it get them? Released from an NFL contract. Really? Was it worth it to lose all that to their jealousy?

Then there are the Peyton Mannings, who show humble integrity when things are going well, and humble integrity when things are going horribly. What do we think? We want to be like them. What does it get them? Lifelong adoring fans, lots of playing time, and ongoing NFL contracts because people like to be around them.

Positive, supportive people draw positive energy, people and outcomes into their lives.

Let’s all be Peytons.

Have a good one. :)

The Benefits of Simple Kindness

My favorite TV commercial of all time is the Fidelity Investments ‘kindness’ commercial. You know the one. Someone watches as another person does a simple kindness for a stranger. Then another person watches as the previous watcher does a kindness for another stranger, and so on. We can’t help but feel inspired, which speaks beautifully to our humanity.

What we forget is that giving a kindness often lifts us up even more than the person receiving the kindness. A special glow shines within us for the rest of the day, and who knows how many people we touch with that glow.

Case Study – When my daughters and I finally made it to the front of a very long Starbucks line, we met the harried employee with smiles and pleases and thank you’s. We had a fairly large order and I apologized due to the long line behind us. The employee gave me a bright smile and said she’d rather take a big order from a friendly customer any time, and that we’d made her day.

Now that felt like cheating. Making her day had only taken a couple seconds. Just a choice to be kind and courteous, and my daughters and I were uplifted for the rest of our day. Nice how that works.

I imagine every kindness as pixie dust tossed into the air to chase the away the dark clouds of negativity and loneliness. Let’s spread as much of it as we can today.

Be sure to let me know if you make someone’s day, or if someone else makes your day.

Have a good one!

NEW RELEASE – Conversations with Coach Wooden: On Baseball, Heroes, and Life

I have to brag!!!

One of my writing group partners, Gary Adams (UCLA’s all-time winningest head baseball coach), has a book coming out TOMORROW, May 15, 2013 from Santa Monica Press!!!

Coach WoodenConversations with Coach Wooden: On Baseball, Heroes, and Life is a book about the amazing and enduring friendship between two famous UCLA coaches; John Wooden (Basketball), and Gary Adams (Baseball).

Blurb swiped from Amazon:

From legendary basketball coach John Wooden’s life lessons and “pyramid of success” philosophy to musings on his favorite sport—baseball—this engaging account chronicles the friendship between Wooden and fellow University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) head coach Gary Adams. For nearly a decade, the two celebrated coaches shared an office and developed a close friendship that lasted 35 years until Wooden’s passing. Adams’s heartwarming narrative details discussions they shared about heroes, history, life, and their mutual favorite pastime—baseball. The book also reflects on Wooden’s core philosophies and the guiding principles behind his numerous basketball successes, including his election into two halls of fame as a player and a coach, winning 10 National College Athletic Association (NCAA) National Championships in a 12-year period, and being named NCAA College Basketball Coach of the Year six times. Recollections from Major League Baseball stars Eric Karros, David Roberts, and Chase Utley are also included, along with quotes from other athletes and associates of UCLA.

I loved this book from beginning to end, even though I’m not a basketball or baseball fan – I’m actually a football fanatic. But the heartwarming and beautiful memories and philosophies Gary shares apply to all ages and situations. There is so much goodness in this book.

Congratulations, Gary! I know that many, many people will devour and relish your book!

May Giveaways from Alexis Bass!

Want to win some author-signed copies of great YA books??

One of my wonderful critique partners, Alexis Bass, is giving away signed books by authors repped by New Leaf Literary & Media – the agency that represents Alexis.

Go check out her blog and enter to win signed books by:

Lisa Desrochers

Sarah Fine

Kristin Halbrook

Kody Keplinger

Ingrid Paulson

Leigh Bardugo


Mindee Arnett

Good luck and I hope you win something!

Happy Writing

I Got to See Buck Brannaman!

I know, it’s been forever since I’ve posted. Sorry! Things have just been super busy, but I’ll tell you about that another day.Buck

The important thing is, I got to attend a Buck Brannaman Horse Clinic over the weekend in Riverside, CA! I’m not a horse owner. I went primarily to do some research for my current WIP, and also because I’m fascinated with the work Buck does. While he teaches horse owners a beautiful method of training and working their horses, he teaches the rest of us how to treat each other, as well as the other animals in our lives.

As soon as Buck started speaking with his calm, even voice, I could feel his humanity from across the corral. He cares deeply about the people and the horses in his clinics. He told us horses are extremely sensitive and respond incredibly well to feel (small inputs from the owner). And that it’s never necessary to hurt a horse.

And he has these sayings! He told one busy rider that her hands were ‘busier than a cat burying crap.’ There was also something about ‘a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.’ He was cracking us up!

According to Buck, there’s a proper order to things when training horses. If the horse trusts you because he always gets a good deal with you, he’ll go anywhere you lead. Don’t be impatient. If you take your time, the horse will actually get there faster, safer and happier.

At one point he pondered the thought that if one human being could love more than hate, that person would really be something. Even if that person wasn’t particularly good at anything, they’d be the best person on earth.

Saturday was one of the nicest and most amazing days I’ve spent in a long time. I’ve watched Buck’s documentary, Buck, at least three times, and have read his book, The Faraway Horses, and I STILL learned a ton just by watching and taking notes for one day out of the four-day clinic.

If you’re unfamiliar with Buck, even if you’re not into horses, you’ll benefit by checking out his movie and/or his books. Visit Buck at

Happy Writing, and I’d love to hear what’s going on with you!