Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cover Reveal, Pirate Jokes, & Flash Fiction

Arrrrr, mateys! I'm super excited to help the lovely Ashely Nixon reveal the cover of Cutlass, her YA fantasy. I always enjoy visiting Ashley's blog and hearing what's going on in her world(I love her blog header- artwork of two of her characters). So without further ado, here is the gorgeousness that is Cutlass:

Guys, there's sparkles on it!

Notorious pirate Barren Reed has one thing on his mind: Revenge against the man who killed his father. So kidnapping his enemy's fiancĂ© seems a perfect plan…until he actually does it.

Larkin Lee is more than a pretty face and fiancé to a powerful man. Her fierce personality is enough to make any pirate want to push her overboard.

But when the King of the Orient comes to Barren with a task—to find the Bloodstone, a powerful gem thought only to exist in legend, Barren sees another opportunity to destroy his enemy. Together, Barren, Larkin and a crew of pirates set off to find the stone, only to discover it caused the death of Barren’s own mother and Larkin’s, too. As his strongest allies turn into his greatest enemies, and the life of the girl he kidnapped becomes more important than he ever dreamed, Barren’s quest for revenge becomes a fight to save the Orient.

And to add some fun to the cover reveal, Ashely asked that we either share a pirate joke or a piece of flash fiction. But as I always have trouble deciding between things, I went with both. Here's my flash fiction of what I would imagine Cutlass is about just by looking at the cover:

It could go one of two ways. The pirates could board the ship and win, or they could be beaten back; forced to limp off into the Caribbean blue with more ballast in their hold than before. He tightened his grip on the cutlass. Braced his feet wide as multiple cannon was fired, the after-effects shuddering through the deck. Screams rent the air, joining in with the raucous cries of the seagulls wheeling above. They were well acquainted with battles at sea and knew what would follow- lifeless bodies gently riding the swells, offering up days of feasting. He glanced up at the skull and crossbones flag of his ship and grinned fiercely. It was time to fight. 

And here's two groan-worthy jokes I liked:

Why does it take pirates so long to learn the alphabet?
Because they can spend years at C!

Why did the pirate run aground?
His eye-patch was the wrong prescription!

And....*waits for groans to die down* if you'd like the chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card, then enter the Rafflecopter below(there's also another $25 Amazon gift card up for grabs if you like or share Cutlass on Facebook!).

Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to keep up w/Ashely and Cutlass? Here's a few places they can be found:

Cutlass will be available to eagerly devour read on April 23, 2014.
And last but not least- Congratulations, Ashley!!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gone to the Dogs

I recently received some swag from Terry Lynn Johnson. It was beautiful and glossy and featured more of that gorgeous dog that makes me wanna murmur 'mush' every time I look at him. Well, I guess he could be a she, but I'm gonna go with he, because he just looks so...commanding. See?

In my goody bag of swag, there was a really neat fold-out card that featured an excerpt. I thought it was terrific! And if you'd like to read it as well, it can be found right here, over on Middle Grade Mania. And this is a short blurb of the book:

Victoria Secord, a fourteen-year-old Alaskan dogsled racer, loses her way on a routine outing with her dogs. With food gone and temperatures dropping, her survival and that of her dogs and the mysterious boy she meets in the woods is entirely up to her.

I've always been fascinated with dogsledding, and might have tried hooking up the family dog to a few objects when I was a kid... But no worries, she escaped unscathed. =) If any of you are interested in learning more about Ice Dogs, here it 'tis on Goodreads.  And Terry can be found on her blog, which has some great pictures of gorgeous vistas and wildlife(like from ALASKA!). And speaking of pics, here's one of my dog, Licorice (aka Moo) back in the day when she was much better groomed than she is now. Also, I have never tried to hook her up to any objects. Besides a leash. ;)

And poor Moo, this is the only pic I could find of her since we brought the kidlet home almost two years ago. I think she's actually staring off into the middle distance in this pic, trying to comprehend how much her life had just changed, lol!
How 'bout you all? Do you have any dogs? Cats? Fish? Gerbils? Or have any of you ever been dog sledding before? I'd love to get to go one day- it's on my bucket list!

ALSO! As you've probably noticed, I've changed my blog...again. Sorry if I've given you all whiplash(this is the third time in less than a year), but I'm quite happy w/the results and shouldn't be changing it in the foreseeable future. Promise. Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my...ow. Never mind.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Christmas Contest Winners

Not gonna lie: It was hard. So hard, in fact, that I wish I'd decided to not be a judge at all, and handed all the responsibility over to Kimberly! I printed out my selections of favorite entries and read them over and over again(silently and out loud) and waffled back and forth- I wish I could send you all a prize! But as I can only pick one, my winner is....

The elf who wasn't an elf, snuck down the dark street, a bag of presents in her hand.
This line really stuck with me, and I could just imagine opening a MG novel and reading this as a first sentence. I want to know why this 'elf' is sneaking about; for good or bad reasons? What is going on? I would definitely be drawn to read on. Congrats, Jill, I hope you enjoy Bear Stays Up for Christmas! 
And Kimberly's winner is...
Lexa Cain!
It wasn't the way the dead body was splayed on the snowy street, hair draped across its face like tinsel, but the giant candy cane stabbed into the center of its chest that made Detective Peters shake his head and say, "The holidays are murder."
Kimberly said: I chose Lexa's entry because it's sounds like the beginning of an episode of CSI. Also, I'm crazy curious how a candy cane is used as a murder weapon. Those things are awfully fragile. This was a macabre, out-of-the-box entry that hooked me immediately. (Enjoy your children's picture book- Winter is for Snow!)
Also, Kimberly and I wanted to join in the fun as well, and share some first lines that we crafted from the list. Here's mine:
She caught sight of the reindeer, blood frozen in its fur, just as the first flake of snow fell.
And here's Kimberly's:
The first Hanukkah after we moved to New Jersey, my father drove us around snowy streets and counted the electric menorahs glowing on window sills because as a native New Yorker, he felt better seeing there were other Jews in the neighborhood.
So thank you to everyone who stopped by and joined in the fun. The entries were so good that you really did make it hard to pick a winner! To the winners, please email me at and let me know where to send your books to. And a big thank you to Kimberly(facebooktwitter, & blog) for helping me with this contest- you're a great friend! And last but not least, I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a fantastic holiday season, eating good food and enjoying time with family and friends.
Image courtesy of


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Contest!!!

I've known for a few months now that I wanted to do a giveaway in December. And while I normally do my giveaways nice and simple by just asking for a comment to be left, this one is gonna be a bit different. And I'm excited!

Here's the deal: I looove first lines. I love reading them, I love crafting them, I love being envious of other's first lines, I love reading first lines out loud, I love to eat them for breakfast I just really love first lines! And so for this, my first Christmas giveaway, I'd like to read some first lines from you all. But....with a catch. In order to win one of these books*:

Winter is for Snow by Robert Neubecker
Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman

I would like you to craft a first line that includes two of the holiday/wintery words that I've compiled in the list below. And you can make any of the plural words singular, or vice versa, to fit your needs. Then in order to be entered into the contest, all you have to do is leave your first line in the comments. Here are the words:

hot chocolate
ice skates
wrapping paper
sleigh ride
candy canes

I will then pick the first line that I love the best and eat it for breakfast send you one of the above picture books. And to make it merrier, I've invited my critique partner, Kimberly G. Giarratano, to pick the second winner(her novel, Grunge Gods & Graveyards, will be published by Red Adept Publishing in 2014).

Hi, Kimberly! 

So what do you all say? Are you ready to feed my addiction of first lines? =) The contest will be open for six days-- from today, December the 1st, to December 6th, with the winners announced on December 7th. And if you've any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section. Craft away, craft away, craft away all!!! ;)

* Unfortunately, this contest will only be open to those residing in the U.S. due to postage costs. I'm sorry if this excludes anyone from the fun. *apology hugs*

Footnote: Forgot to mention that the first lines can be in any category: YA, MG, romance, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, etc. Whatever you feel like writing about, write! Though please keep it clean, of course. =)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sweet Reads: Pumpkin Roll and Grave Images

Once a month I'll be posting a dessert recipe and an excerpt(s) from a book that's struck me just right, whether it be gorgeous descriptions, funny dialogue, swoon-worthy kisses, sarcastic come-backs, or spine-tingling encounters.

The reason I never act saintly is 'cause I've got too much want in my heart. Mama was cursed with a wanting heart, too. That's why hers is broken now.

This is the start to a wonderful MG book. Grave Images is the first MG book featured on Sweet Reads thus far, which I'm a bit surprised about in retrospect, b/c I love MG books. They normally never fail to bring a tear to my eye, and Grave Images was no exception. Poor Bernie's family is going through such a rough time. And having become a mother myself in the last two years, my heart ached for them, as children truly are the most precious gift.

But GI really hit me hardest with this sentence(the mc is thinking what a cemetery is not like to the boy who followed here there): Not a place that punched you hard in the gut and then apologized with peace, quiet, and the sweet smell of grass. I lost my Mom when I was a teenager(please no apologies- it's okay, but thank you! :) ) and the above sentence describes so perfectly what it's like to visit the cemetery. When it's so hard to approach the grave and see that name, but then, after awhile, it is comforting to sit there and visit w/them in such a beautiful, serene setting.

Now on to some of the fun passages in this book, which I promise it abounds with:

Due to Mimi loving God first and roosters second, our home holds a scattering of crosses, paintings of the Holy Family, and images of red comb-headed chickens.

And here, b/c this paragraph made me chuckle, as well as tying in so perfectly w/Mimi- Bernie's grandmother(I'm taking notes on how you did this, Jenny!): There weren't a whole lot of decorations, either: however, one shelf above the fireplace housed a mishmashed collection of cheer trophies and religious statues. Porcelain members of the Holy Family(enough to make Mimi jealous) surrounded by cheap brass figurines holding pom-poms. It was like they were all cheerleading, "Go Baby Jesus," or something.

Bernie also develops a reluctant friendship in the book with a boy named Michael, who she feels has a big head and sausage fingers- true love in the making, lol! Here's where we first meet him: He was coming up the sidewalk on a pogo stick. A pogo stick! It was thin and silver and Michael was wearing a bright-red helmet. He looked ridiculous, of course- like a giant cherry lollipop springing into the sky.

I super recommend this book to anyone looking for a MG with a lot of heart, humor, a dash of scary, and the reminder to be thankful for those we love, everyday. I promise it won't disappoint! And, though I always read first and foremost to entertain myself(yup, I'm deep like that) and not necessarily to 'learn' anything, I truly feel like this book could help kids who are dealing w/grief. Or, if they haven't yet experienced losing someone close, then to learn a bit about empathy for others. I know when the kidlet gets old enough, this will be one of my 'must-reads' for him.

And now, this month's recipe. It's a bit more work than I usually like, but so worth the end results. Pumpkin and cream cheese are one of those combos that just can't be beat.

Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs
2/3 c. pumpkin
1 c. sugar
pecans or walnuts*
3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. cinnamon

8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 c. butter
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Blend eggs & pumpkin together.
2. Sift all dry ingredients, & blend together with egg mixture.
3. Grease 10 x 15 cookie sheet(one that has sides).
4. Pour batter onto sheet & bake 20-25 mins @ 350.
5. Roll in a towel.
6. Beat all ingredients of the filling together, and unroll cake and spread over it.
7. Re-roll cake. Wrap in wax paper & store in fridge.

*Nuts are optional, given whether or not you like them, and quantity would just depend on how nutty you like it.

I hope everyone has a blessed, yummy, and very Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Kidlet's Room

So I know I've been promising an office reveal...but it's STILL not ready. *le sigh* I had the bright idea of covering the backs of my bookcases in fabric, and while I love how it's looking, it's taking me FOREVAH! And since I was thinking November was when I'd be showing off my new space, I'll show you my little man's room instead.

This striped wallpaper is the only wallpaper we didn't tear out of the house when we bought it. As soon as I saw it I knew it would look great in our one-day-kid's room. And as soon as I saw the Dr. Seuss's One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish clock on Amazon, I knew I had to buy it. Perhaps it has something to do with my affinity for Swedish Fish...?   

His bookshelves are made from vinyl gutters! I saw them on Pinterest and my father-in-law made them for me. I absolutely love how they turned out. Thanks, David!
I love this Dr. Seuss saying, and hope the kidlet takes it to heart. And in this picture you can see part of the Curious George balloon from his first bday party- that was back in March! The thing won't die!

When I found out we were having a boy, I went the same day to Target and bought the rug, canvas artwork, and green mirrors. I knew I didn't want to do a pastel nursery theme that I'd have to change in a few years, and so I just decided to keep it bright and colorful.  Hopefully it'll last him 'til he's sixteen. Ha, ha... Also, the blue stegosaurus? My mom crocheted that for me when I was a little girl. It meant so much to me to be able to pass it on to my own child.

I glued the buttons onto the lampshade(another Pinterest idea). The cup and plate are from two great literary classics- Guess How Much I Love You & Peter Rabbit. My husband painted the dresser for me, and I love the vibrant pop of color it brings to the room.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed seeing the kidlet's room. And one of these days it'll be the office- promise! =)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Meeting Kate DiCamillo

I went yesterday to the Glendale Branch Indianapolis-Marion Public Library to see Kate DiCamillo was great! I got there at five minutes 'til two, and the place was packed out. I bought Kate's newest book from the booksellers there(more on that later) and managed to squeeze into the back of the room.

The other half was just as full, and the sides and back of the room were standing room only.

Kate started out by saying how nice it was to see so many people and then asked, "Now...what are we going to do?", which caused a wave of laughter. She then jumped straight into letting people ask questions. The kids there were not shy about sticking their hands in the air! =) After a young boy asked about Rob Horton(the mc in The Tiger Rising) Kate explained that she wasn't sure what it was that Rob wanted for awhile- until one day talking on the phone, Kate's mother informed her there was a tiger loose in Florida. And she realized then that Rob Horton needed a tiger- and she hung up on her mother. "Never hang up on your mother," Kate told the kids. I hope they follow her advice, as I've been guilty of doing just that- but boy oh boy, did I only ever do it once!

Kate has such pretty white/blond hair- though it's sort of blending in w/the white board here.
When asked to talk about when she started writing, Kate asked the room if we wanted the long or short version. 'Long' was the unanimous vote to which she replied, "What a strange and wonderful group of people you are." She also told us that when she started out writing she borrowed her mother's JCPenney card and bought three black turtle necks and sat around looking serious...while not getting a whole lot of writing done.

So as time passed she told herself she would sit down an hour a day at the typewriter. Which was exactly what happened...but still no words. Then she made a promise to herself to write two pages a day. And since her first book, Because of Winn Dixie to her most current, Flora & Ulysses, she's written seventeen books, with three more due out soon- though I'm sure that two pages a day has been increased!

Another of her quips that caused a laugh was when a teenager not too far from me asked if Kate would ever write anything focused towards YA. Kate's reply? "Probably not. I've found that as teens you leave me, but then you come back to me in your twenties." So true! =)

The line for the signing was huge. While I waited I amused myself by taking some more pictures. For you football fans out there I give you Andrew Luck. Tah-dah!'re not fooled. Fine. You're right. He's a cut-out.

Here's some pretty lights in the ceiling:

And finally, it was my turn! Since we were both wearing black, we look a bit conjoined, but I swear that's Kate's arm behind me. I'd never be so presumptuous as to just fling an arm around her! See, both hands above table! =)

All in all it took me around forty minutes to get to the table, and it looked like there'd probably be another thirty mintues until everyone else was through. And while I was there I also spotted another author, Mike Mullin, author of the Ashfall Trilogy. I've seen him speak once before(informative and engergetic), and meant to go over and get a picture of him as well, but after meeting Kate I was a bit starstruck and just wandered off looking at our pic together and completely forgot until I was out at the car. *sad face* 
But back to the booksellers that were there, Kids Ink. They're a great Indianapolis independent bookstore that I've been dying to check out. I don't get up to Indy a whole lot, but one of these days I'm going to make a point to visit what looks like a great kid's bookstore. Also, the last I knew, Mike Mullin's mother is the owner. How cool is that? 
All in all it was a fun day, and the one last thing that made it even better? A diet, extra vanilla coke from Steak 'n Shake. Life's good. 

Footnote: I'm reading Flora and Ulysses right now, and it's SO GOOD! I totally recommend it! Also, I've already besmirched my copy with ketchup... =(

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Giveaway Winner

Please email me at to claim your prize.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Anna Staniszewski and A Giveaway!

I'm super excited to have the talented Anna Staniszewski here on the blog! Her third book, My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending releases tomorow. *cues applause* And to commemorate this special day, I've composed a list of fairy tale related questions as well as a giveaway(if you like cute necklaces, hang around 'til the end of the post...).

What's your favorite fairy tale?
The one I keep coming back to is "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" which is an amazing tale in which the heroine has to go on a journey to rescue her prince. (I think that tale was very much in my mind when I started writing the UnFairy Tale series.)

In a throw-down between wicked step-mothers, who would win- Cinderella's or Snow White's?
Ooh, great question! I think it might have to be Snow White's. She's evil and very crafty, which means she's unpredictable and incredibly dangerous.

Which fairy tale would you least like to find yourself deposited in?
Hansel and Gretel would be my worst nightmare. I'm a total candy addict so there's no way I could resist the pull of the delicious candy house. I'd get eaten by a witch for sure!

What's your favorite fairy tale adaption by an author?
There are so many fairy tale retellings that I absolutely love, but I think Ella Enchanted might be my favorite. I love how it stays true to the tale while also giving it a life completely of its own, and how it weaves humor and believable romance.

Magical creatures are quite often found in fairy tales(yay!). What's your favorite and why?
I've always been intrigued by mermaids because they're beautiful and mysterious, but they can also lure humans into the ocean which makes them somewhat frightening.

In your opinion, who's the most handsome Disney prince(this one is SO important! ;)) ?
Ha! To be honest, they all kind of look the same to me, but I guess it would have to be Prince Charming.

Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. Currently, Anna lives outside of Boston with her husband and their black Labrador, Emma.
When she's not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. She is the author of My Very UnFairy Tale Life and its sequels, My Epic Fairy Tale Fail and My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending, all published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. Look for the first book in Anna's next tween series, The Dirty Diary, in January 2014, and visit her at
And as for the giveaway, one lucky commenter will receive this scrabble tile necklace:
When I saw it I thought it went perfectly w/My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending, as the cover features a ferris wheel, too. The giveaway will be live for three days, from 11/4- 11/6, w/the winner announced on 11/7. If you comment, it'd be nice if you also headed over to Goodreads and marked MSofFTE as 'want to read' or signed up to follow Anna's blog/newsletter/Twitter. Course, as always, I'll just be going by the honor system here. =)
And feel free in the comments to let me know who your favorite prince is or if you like to ride ferris wheels or not. I like Flynn Rider from Tangled(though he isn't a prince until after he marries the princess...) and though ferris wheels give me wobbly feelings in the tummy, the views are pretty spectacular when you're on one.
So a great big huge thank you to Anna for answering my questions and on the release of My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending! I hope it's a fantastic day for you! *confetti and trumpets blaring*  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sweet Reads Spooky Edition: Halloween Chex Mix and The Monstrumologist

Once a month I'll be posting a dessert recipe and an excerpt(s) from a book that's struck me just right, whether it be gorgeous descriptions, funny dialogue, swoon-worthy kisses, sarcastic come-backs, or spine-tingling encounters.

As I was perusing my shelves for a scary pick this month, I was coming up a bit dry, as I don't really read 'scary'. I'm a chicken. But when my eye landed on The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey(you know that The Fifth Wave guy?) I knew I had a winner. This book delivers on the gore; within the first twenty pages we have the body of a girl on an examination table- with a dead monster still attached. Funny enough, it choked on her pearls while munching away...

The mc, Will, is one brave little man. He follows Dr. Pellinore Warthrop(that's a mouthful) into some heart-pounding scary places. But as the good doctor took him in when his parents died, Will feels like his home is by the doctor's side, despite what goes on in that man's basement. Not for the faint-hearted, lemme tell you. Here's the monstrumologist teaching Will a few things:

"Their reach exceeds that of an average man by nearly a foot and a half. Observe how large its hands is." He placed his own hand, palm to palm, against the monster's. The creature's hand engulfed the doctor's as an adult's would a child's. "Like the lion, it uses it claws as its primary form of attack, but, unlike the large mammalian predators, it does not attempt to kill its prey before it begins to feed. More like the shark or an insect, the Anthropophagus prefers living flesh."

Charming. And b/c no spooky edition isn't complete w/out a good chase scene, here ya go:

They came from the trees; they poured out of Eliza's grave, dozens of them, scores, sprinting with arms outstretched and mouths agape, their colorless skin radiant in the starlight, as if every tomb and sepulcher had vomited forth their foul contents. Clearly we were being outpaced. I watched in helpless horror as the swarm of fiends closed the gap.

Now on to something more cheery- sweet stuff!

Halloween Chex Mix

8  oz white chocolate baking bars, coarsely chopped
4  cups Corn Chex or Rice Chex cereal
2  cups bite-size pretzel twists
1/2  cup raisins
1  cup candy corn
1/4  cup orange and black candy decors

1. In large microwavable bowl, microwave chopped baking bars uncovered on High 1 min 30 seconds to 2 mins 30 seconds, until melted and smooth.

2. Gently stir in cereal, pretzels and raisins until evenly coated. Stir in candy corn and decors.

3. Spread on waxed paper or foil until cool and chocolate is set, about 30 mins. Break into chunks. Store loosely covered.

I couldn't find any decors(what the heck...?) so I just bought sprinkles. Happy "goblin"! And for all those who might be trick or treating this year- stay safe out on the roads!

Friday, October 25, 2013

I Won Something!!!

Last week I entered Natalie Whipple's(author of Transparent) seven line pitch contest over on her blog Between Fact and Fiction. Pitch your story in seven words(to celebrate her seven year blog anniversary) and she would pick seven winners to receive a query and 10 page critique. Woo-boy! So when it came time to find out who the winners were, I had that yucky tummy feeling as I scanned the page and then...I saw my name! It was the best.feeling.ever.

This is the pitch I submitted: Grieving teen fights gargoyles in 1777 Boston.
And here's what Natalie said: I liked the historical aspect of this, and am interested to see how the implied paranormal elements play in. Maybe because I'm in love with Sleepy Hollow, but 1777 Boston sounds like a cool time period to showcase.

Squuuueeee!!! I think it's so neat that Natalie did something like this. Plus, it was super interesting to get to read all the entries. Natalie's also got a new book coming out soon(April 15th 2014) called House of Ivy and Sorrow that promises to be terrific.

So how 'bout you all- anyone have any good news to share too? Love to hear it!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sushine and Sweet

I was recently nominated for two blog awards- the Sunshine Blog Award by Ashley Nixon and the Super Sweet by Ruth Schiffmann from Out on a Limb. Yay! It's always so nice when someone does that. And yes, I'm cheating by doing them together. Forgive me, please? *puppy dog eyes*
Fav color: I don't really have one... It just depends what jumps out at me on any certain day.
Fav animal: Or otter. Perhaps the fox.
Fav number: I don't like odd numbers. That's sorta an answer...
Fav non-alcoholic drink: I've got this one! Diet vanilla coke from Steak 'n Shake.
Fav alcholic drink: N/A(I love getting to put that on forms at work- it's like na-na-na! I don't have to answer that.) 
Facebook or Twitter: I don't tweet(is that the correct term?), so I guess Facebook. In small doses.
Passions: Reading & writing.
Prefer giving or getting presents: Giving! My step-dad once said I was one of the most thoughtful 'gifters' he knew. Until the ripped marlin shirt incident...Lets just say my Christmas Eve was spent doing some desperate(bad) sewing. Dang sales rack and poor eye sight.
Fav city: Though I've not been there, I'd really love to visit Charleston, SC. Delicious food & history, can't beat that combo.
Fav TV show: Whatever happens to be on Disney Jr. that lets me take a shower in peace. =)
1. Cookies or cake? Don't force me to choose! The agony! Cake...cookie...cookie stuffed in cake?
2. Chocolate or vanilla? Vah-nee-lah! Though I won't turn my nose up at chocolate. Mama didn't raise no fool.
3. Favorite sweet treat? Anything w/cream cheese.
4. When do you crave sweet things the most? After eating lunch or dinner. Time to fill the dessert 'shelf'!
5. Sweet Nick Name? My husband calls me Babe.
Thanks again to Ashley & Ruth! You two are both fun gals, whose blogs I always love to visit. Now, my cheating is not done for today. This is the part where I'd nominate other people, but truth be told, I'm starting to run out of people. =/ And options, as I've noticed just about all my blogger buddies have already done their rounds w/these particular awards.
So if you're reading this and would like to snag these pretty awards for yourself, consider yourself tagged! If you'd like to send me an email when you post, I'd love to stop by to check out your answers. Or everyone can join in the fun and answer any of the above questions in the comments.
Ta-ta for now!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Kidlit Blog Tour

I was asked by the lovely Becky Shillington over at Tapestry of Words to take part in a blog tour in which writers answer questions about their writing. And what writer doesn't love to talk about their made-up worlds and characters dear to their hearts? =)

1. What are you working on right now?
A House Divided, a YA historical fantasy set in Charleston, SC, right before the battle over Fort Sumter. It involves gryphons, verandas, languid fanning, spying, and parties. Yes, dahling.
2. How does A House Divided differ from other works in its genre?
Well...I guess the way it differs is that I've taken history and jumbled it about w/mythological creatures that I don't think have been seen alot in fiction(as of yet): gryphons. And boy, do I love them! I want one of my own. You can fly on them...and now you want one too, don't you?  
3. Why do you write what you do?
I love to read YA, so therefore it's what I naturally gravitate towards when writing.
4. How does your writing process work?
I outline loosely, getting down on paper the 'big' scenes that come to me when I first start brainstorming(Imagination Movers, anyone?). Then after that I just start writing, adjusting or adding or cutting as I go.

5. Any departing words of wisdom for other authors?
Never eat yellow...oh. Not that kind of wisdom! ;) Well, I'm no expert on writer wisdom, but here goes: Go w/what feels right. If it's writing everyday- cool beans. If it's not- cool beans. I think we've all read a million times(and it's so true) that what works for one person, won't always work for another. Find your individuality in the way you approach your writing, so that you're not struggling to fit a mold that isn't you. And as w/everything, there will be good days and there will be bad days. But I promise you especially bad days if you eat yellow snow.
And now here are three other fantastic writers, who will be talking about their writing on October 21st. Make sure to check them out!
Happy Monday everyone!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

In Which I Design A Book Cover

Before I tell you why this post is named the above, here's some backstory first.

When I was younger I liked drawing, and when the muse was present, I wasn't half bad. But sadly, you don't use it, you lose it, and I haven't touched a pencil in years. My 'drawing' now happens at work on scraps of paper. Embarrassingly my last doodle involved a medieval sort of man running w/a sword held over his head(and a customer saw it). But he was able to tell what it was even upside down, so I guess it wasn't too horrible... I digress. So: history of drawing. Present: Sadly out of practice.

But when I read about a certain contest over on Sara B. Larson's blog, I knew I was going to jump at the chance to participate. Design a cover for her upcoming debut, Defy, post it on your blog or submit it on Facebook, and she could pick you to win a signed ARC of Defy!

I immediately commenced to doodle some stuff. Like arms holding swords. Which looked like noodles holding lumpy sticks. Then I thought I'd go w/collage. Except everything I printed off the 'net was too big or too small. And then I thought about silhouettes. Silhouette covers are some of my absolute fav covers. When I see them my heart gets happy.

So here is the cover I designed for Sara B. Larson's Defy, due out Jan. 7th, 2014. Tah-dah!!!

And here is the blurb, lifted off of Goodreads:

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?
* * *
On the original template I did, the swords looked much better, but when I transferred it over to the black card stock, it was a little harder to get them as sleek. They came out a bit clunky. *le sigh* I chose to go w/the swords stuck in the ground as it came across as defiant to me. And since much of the book sounds like it takes place in a jungle, I think the tree fits in perfectly as well.
And, finally, here is the real cover:
It's beautiful, isn't it? I want to grab that dagger and sta- uh, admire it, while hurting no one! ;) If anyone else wants to get in on the action, Sara's running the contest until Oct. 21st. And if you haven't an artistic bone in your body, she's also running a Rafflecopter giveaway for a second copy of Defy to give out. Yippee! Now everyone wish me luck, please! ;)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Great Author Born On This Day

James Alfred Wight
Oct. 3rd, 1926- Feb. 23rd, 1995

I can't remember what age I was when my mom handed me one of James Herriot's books. I just remember that I devoured it, loved it, and wanted to read everything he'd ever written. JH was one of the reasons I wanted to be a vet(until I learned how many years it took(8) and required strong math skills(ha.ha.)).

James Alfred Wight(pen name James Herriot) was a country vet who started practicing in the 1940's in Yorkshire. Now for those of you who've I've just lost b/c you're not a fan of animals: hang on. Herriot's books are as much about people as they are animals. He was a master of making human nature come to life on the page- but he did it humbly, with simple words.

And if you are an animal lover, then who wouldn't love to read about dogs and cats, sheep and pigs, cows and horses? Also, I have to admit, JH is the reason I won't eat lamb. I've fond memories of being curled up in a chair reading about soft, wiggly lambs being born on cold, windy hillsides. Anytime I do think I'd like to try a genuine gyro, those memories rare their inconvenient heads. So far I've not ate lamb in all my twenty-nine years. (Now steak on the other hand...)

In honor of Herriot's birthday, I'd like to give away one of his books, James Herriot's Animal Stories. This is a collection of his work w/beautiful, whimsical illustrations. There's also a Cat Stories and Dog Stories, if you're so inclined more strongly toward one than the other. I once owned Cat Stories but that is a tale for another time(like if you loan out books make sure it's understood that you want them BACK!)

If you're a fan of JH and would like Animal Stories, all you have to do is comment. And if you've not read him yet, then I promise you this'll be a treat! Here's the book, just waiting to find its new home:

Anyone who comments from between 10/3 and 10/4 will be entered to win. Good luck!

Happy Birthday, James Herriot!!!
*Also, b/c I'm feeling lazy(sorry), I'm just going to announce the winner in the comments section. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Keychain Winner

Katie L. Carroll!

Please email me at leandrawallaceatgmaildotcom to let me know where to send it. Congrats, Katie!

Friday, September 27, 2013

COLORS LIKE MEMORIES Paperback Release Par-tay(plus TWO giveaways)!!!

I've a special guest today, author Meradeth Houston. Take it away, Meradeth!

Hi! *waves* I'm incredibly excited to announce the paperback release for COLORS LIKE MEMORIES. The ebook release has been a blast, and it is especially awesome to actually hold the book in my hands. :) Here are three things I think you might find fun about the book:

1. It's got a pretty sweet cover. :)

And I'm rather partial to the blurb:

Julia has a secret: she killed the guy she loved. It was an accident- sort of. Julia is a Sary, the soul of a child who died before taking her first breath. Without this 'breath of life' she and others like her must help those on the verge of suicide. It's a job Julia used to enjoy, until the accident that claimed her boyfriend's life- an accident she knows was her fault. If living with the guilt weren't enough, she's now assigned to help a girl dealing with the loss of her mother, something Julia's not exactly the best role model for. If she can't figure out a way to help her, Julia's going to lose her position in the Sary, something she swore to her boyfriend would never happen.

2. There have been some pretty awesome things said about it(if I do say so myself, but I may be a bit biased). See:

-"...I applaud the author for providing a writing that has the power to encourage, inspire, help, heal and simply serve as a platform to stimulate communication for any reader(regardless of age), who is feeling hopeless. If you are looking for an interesting read, this book is well written, interesting and has several positive messages that the reader can take away from the story. I would recommend this book to any reader." TWC Amazon Review

-"COLORS LIKE MEMORIES was an amazing YA paranormal romance. It will make you soar with wings then drop you off and catch you once you get near the ground." Michelle Kullman Amazon Review

-"COLORS LIKE MEMORIES is an achingly beautiful tale of love, loss, and new beginnings. Meradeth Houston writes with a clean, clear prose that packs a punch. She carries her characters through the full spectrum of emotions, and the reader is swept along in the journey." RunningnWriting Amazon Review

3. You don't have to wait for book #2! THE CHEMISTRY OF FATE, also set in the Sary world, is already available, and you can grab a copy at Amazon, B&N, or my publisher MuseItUp Publishing. Book #3, SURRENDER THE SKY, will also be released soon. ;)

Those are my three things, and if that's not enough to interest you, well, I've also got a little giveaway running for a book of your choice. Check out the rafflecopter below.

A bit about Meradeth:
> She's a Northern California girl, but now lives and teaches anthropology in Montana.
> When she's not writing, she's sequencing dead people's DNA. For fun!
> She's been writing since she was 11 years old. It's her hobby, her passion, and she's so happy to get to share her work!
> If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she's terrified of heights.

Find her online:
Website : Blog : Twitter : Facebook : Pinterest : Goodreads
Also, Meradeth has answered some questions I asked just for fun!

Where is your favorite spot to read?
I tend to be one of those "can read anywhere" kind of people, but when I have a choice, I love my couch. Preferably with a blanket, hot chocolate and rain- those are my trifecta of perfection for a good book. :)

What would do you misspell most often when writing?
Just one? Eep. I am seriously the worst speller on the planet. I break spell-check all the time. Lately, I miss 'separately' all the time- for some reason I want to make the first 'a' an 'e'. Don't know why, but man I do it constantly! (that's one of mine, too!)

If you were cursed by an evil witch/wizard/genie to read in only one genre the rest of your life(i.e. romance, dystopian, thriller, sci-fi, etc.) what would it be?
Would this mean I wouldn't ever have to read boring textbooks again? I may be looking for silver-linings here. :) I think I'd go with paranormals- I love a good vampire/shifter/angel real-world-with-a-twist book.

What is your fav beverage and/or snack to consume when you're reading/writing?
Hot chocolate. The real stuff. I'm addicted. Totally and utterly so. I'm pretty partial to the slightly spicy, thick hot chocolate that I make from time to time- it rocks!

Pretty bookmarks or straw wrappers to mark your spot in a book?
I'm definitely a straw wrapper kind of person. I think I worry I'll lose a bookmark and that would be sad, so I don't use them. Not that I tend to lose straw wrappers much, but it's a subconscious thing. :) I've used some seriously random stuff to mark my place. TP(clean!) included. (Lol, so good to know!) 

And last but not least, if a good witch/wizard/genie granted only one of your fictional characters to come to life so that you could spend one hour w/them, who would you pick?
Best question ever! And, yeah, super hard to decide. I'd have to go with a character that's only been a side character so far. Jassen, seen briefly in Colors Like Memories and The Chemistry of Fate makes little appearances, but book #3 has him front and center. I'd definitely go for him. (Author crush. Yep, totally guilty!)

And last but not least, I'll be giving away this key chain to one lucky commenter! *psst! b/c Julia has wings- so jealous...*

Steampunk wing bronze tone keychain

I'll keep the giveaway open from Fri(9/27/13) thru Sat(9/28/13), for those who follow by email and might not get notification of a new post until the following day. And, too, b/c if you're like me, you squeeze in time for social media where you can, meaning not always on the same day something was posted. And don't forget to enter through the Rafflecopter above for a chance to win a FREE book.

So thanks to Meradeth for stopping by and congrats on the paperback release! Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Liebster Award Nomination!!!

So the very cool Jazmen from This Girl Reads Alot nominated me for the Liebster Award. It's a way to help out bloggers with less than 200 followers who could use some more of you awesome people! *blows kisses... it seems appropriate since liebster is German for sweetheart*  =) Below are the questions I was asked, and my answers.
1. What got you into blogging/Why'd you start blogging?
I started blogging as I felt like I had super important things to say that people needed to hear... Completely kidding! No, I started blogging b/c I enjoyed reading blogs that dealt w/books and writing and thought it'd be a fun thing to do myself. And it is!
2. Favorite books?
Beauty, Chains, The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys Cycle, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Abhorsen Trilogy and many many mooore!
3. Favorite book quote and why?
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you. ~ Mortimer J. Adler
4.What is the one thing besides books you cannot live without?
Air? Water? Oh...not so literally? =) That would be family.
5. Recommend three books.
Lets see. Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt, The Caged Graves by Dianne Salerni, and Sweetly by Jackson Pearce.
6. Favorite snack?
Yikes! This one is hard b/c I love food and I love variety. Um... probably anything I can eat w/some sort of dip. Cheese, marinara, ranch, salsa, etc.
7. Favortie time and place to read?
I can read anytime of day, but my fav place is in the car- preferably after I've just went through a drive-thru. Food, pop, and a book in hand- yes, please!
8. If you could switch places with one fictional character, who would it be and why?
Since some of the main characters in my fav books go through some really bad stuff(I don't want to fight to the death w/ my peers, have an evil wizard out to get me, or have water horses try and eat me) this is a hard one. So I strolled in to look at my bookcases and decided on Slyvia from the Dinotopia books b/c, you know, she got to grow up w/dinosaurs.  
9. One book you wish you could go back in time and unread?
I would like to go back in time and unread Harry Potter, so I could have the pleasure of discovering them again. *waves Gryffindor flag*
10. Favorite book related website and why?
Definitely Goodreads! I love friending other people w/similar interests, the groups you can join, the monthly newsletters, the quotes, and the book advertisements that sometimes lead me to books I might not otherwise notice.
So that was fun! Thanks again, Jazmen! And now it's time for me to pass on the Liebster Award to the following:
The Art of Puro

If you choose to accept here are the directions: Link back to the blogger that tagged you. Nominate 5-10 others and answer the questions of the one who tagged you. Then ask 10 questions for the bloggers you nominate as well as letting your nominees know of their award.

And last but not least, here's your questions(sorry they're a bit here and there, but it's the weekend and I've ran out of grey matter...) *self-deprecating smile* 
1. Who do you credit as being most inspirational in your life?
2. What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
3. Top three authors?
4. Snow or no snow?
5. If you could visit any city in the world, what one would it be?
6. What is your favorite restaurant?
7. Do you loan your books out?
8. What's the one thing you're sick of seeing on book covers?
9. If you could travel back in time to any major historical moment, what would it be?
10. If you could pick a name for yourself, what would it be?

Have fun everyone!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sweet Reads: Cake Batter Fudge and Eyes Like Stars

Once a month I'll be posting a dessert recipe and an excerpt(s) from a book thats struck me just right, whether it be gorgeous descriptions, funny dialogue, swoon-worthy kisses, sarcastic come-backs, or spine-tingling encounters.

Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev is the first in her All the World's a Stage trilogy. ELS had moments in it where I laughed out loud, and mainly b/c of the little pesky fairies you see on the cover: Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed. They're constantly getting up to something. See, here's a fight scene:

The boys rolled past them. Tufts of fairy hair, ripped out by the roots, drifted into the orchestra pit. Tiny scraps of clothing exited the brawling tumbleweed at sporadic intervals: a sleeve, a sock, a pointy-toed shoe.

"I'll beat you for a living!"

"You and what army?"

Here's a few other snippets I thoroughly enjoyed:

"So you want us to go...out there?" said Cobweb

"Yes, please."

"Now way!" yelled Mustardseed. "Who knows what's out there?"

"I bet I get eaten by a grue-" Moth paused, choking on his own spit and cowardice, then finished, "-a gruesome monster of indeterminate size and shape. I'm pretty sure I taste like chicken."

"You're bioluminescent," Bertie said. "Which means you taste awful. Now, come on."


"Hey, Mustardseed took a bag of jelly beans!" Cobweb whined, far less concerned about access to the stage than stolen snacks.

"You can have the black one."

"But I wanted the red one!"

A muffled noise, then, "Now it's up my nose. Still want it?" followed by a very sulky "No!"

"That's why I don't eat the green ones." Bertie turned another corner only to collide with Ariel.

Ariel, btw, is a very swoon-worthy air elemental...*waggles eyebrows* If you enjoy plays and the theater, then Mantchev's series is a must read. And even if you don't, the characters and the imaginative colorful world that awaits in this series is bound to draw you in. As for this month's recipe, I picked it in part b/c it's yummy and in part b/c it sounded like something the fairies would only be too willing to dive into(literally).

Cake Batter Fudge

2 C white or yellow cake mix
2 C powdered sugar
1/2 C (1 stick) butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 C milk
1/2 C white chocolate chips
1/4-1/2 cup sprinkles

1. In a microwave proof mixing bowl combine cake mix and powdered sugar. Stir just to blend.
2. Add in butter and milk. No need to stir.
3. Microwave on high for 2 mins.
4. Immediately remove from microwave and carefully stir to combine. Once blended, add in white chocolate chips and blend again.
5. Fold in about half of your sprinkles to give some color.
6. Quickly spread fudge into a 8x8 greased pan. Add remaining sprinkles to top and gently press down to secure sprinkles. Refrigerate until completely chilled, then cut into 1 in. squares.

Warning: This stuff is addicting! It's easy to eat one little square, and then another, and another and another... Also, a quick thanks to Hannah from work who gave me this recipe. Thanks! =)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Five Things On a Friday

Here's a few things about this week...

1.  As much as I love painted furniture-- I don't like painting it. It's a pain. And at this point I don't really care how my yellow desk turns out. It's yellow. That's all that matters. And has cute knobs, darn it.

2. Diet is a dirty word.
3. Due to my critique partner's book, the phrase 'the lady in blue' keeps popping into my head(Grunge Gods & Graveyards will be published in the spring from Red Adept Publishing.) And if such a great title has you curious about Kimberly, she can be found here: and here as well: Anyway, the 'lady in blue' is making me want to break out the drawing pencils-- something I haven't done in eons.
4. Desk, I will not give you three coats-- I refuse!
5. 'Tis Friday and tomorrow I start vaacaatioon. *cue Handel's Messiah and pantomimes conducting to the hallelujah chorus...but then flails about less enthusiastically as she remembers that vacation also equals more painting-- like a whole room!*


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Bookish Weddings

Can I get remarried? Just so I can plan a book-themed wedding? There are some super creative ideas out there for word nerds who are about to tie the knot, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites.
Can't you just imagine getting married in front of this?
Love these for centerpieces. Vintage books in whatever color you need w/bouquets on top.
Another pretty bouquet, this one for the bride!
These would look adorable as boutonnieres, maybe with a single leaf of greenery off to one side. 
Love this idea for the reception! Music, laughter, and...the click-clack of a typewriter.
And what better way for people to find their table-- an old card catalog!
And last but not least, this would have to go somewhere. Me thinks maybe at the bridal party table, in the middle of a row of vintage books tied w/twine and w/flowers at either end. Lovely!
Well, that was fun! Thanks for letting me indulge in recreating my wedding! *throws heart shaped book page confetti* ;)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

In Which I'm Still A Kid At Heart...

First, apologies. Since this is the last week in August, this should be a Sweet Reads post. But, alas, work has gotten in the way of me making delicious things. =( So instead, this will be a post about me playing with toys. Like the one below:
Isn't it cool? I'm sort of infatuated with it. I bought it on a whim for my kidlet(who from playing with his older cousin will aim his finger at you and go 'skhew, skhew') but, uh... I've sorta been aiming it at things myself. Though without the sound effects, I promise! It's just been alot of fun. Why, you ask? Because my main character, Amity, wears a pistol belt and in my mind, shoots something alot like this toy gun. Except, perhaps a little less piratey(that's what the box said they were--Pirate Pistols).
This also takes me back to the Revolutionary reenactment I'd attended this spring. One of the booths was selling swords-- a cutlass type and a broadsword. I wanted one so bad! I thought about buying one and telling my husband it was for research. That's not weird is it? I mean, I'd wait until it was dark so the neighbors couldn't see me charging about the backyard wildly waving a sword around...
Has there been anyone else who likes to do 'research' for your novels? Or keep their inner child alive? =0) 

Friday, August 23, 2013

See-saws and Brick Walls

I finally finished the third revision of my historical fantasy. Finally! Now I'm just going through and polishing. I taking things that were fine and making them not-so-fine? Yugh. In the past few weeks I've worked myself into a state of nerves; I've definitely been playing on the see-saws at the playground lately.

 When I'm up I think-- this is it. I've wrote the best story I've ever written, with a premise that is unique and hopefully with catch an agent's eye. When it's my turn to go dooown I think-- But it's still just not good enough. I know it. This isn't going to happen, you're never going to see your name on a book sitting in a bookstore or a library. You're wasting your time, and all your hard work(three years spent on this story) is for nothing. Big. Fat. Nothing. Where's the chocolate?
Any of this sound familiar? I know it does, because if you're a writer(or anyone who cares deeply about something-- gymnastics, spelling bees, clam farming...) and you're reading this, I'd bet a dozen Baby Ruths that you've taken your turn on the see-saws at the playground too. But it's okay. It happens and it's natural. It's just part of dreaming, realizing and dealing with the obstacles that can come between you and what you so desperately want.
One of the reasons I like quotes so much is that they can help pull you up out of the doldrums, and oh yummy chocolate kisses, did I ever find a good one the other day, when I was reading this article:
I made sure to copy and paste the quote so that I can reread it often. Here 'tis:
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to
keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how
badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the
people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Picturesque Libraries

I snapped the above pic the other day while I was sitting at the stop sign. After I got married and moved to Edinburgh, one of the things that impressed me most about my new town was its library(Edinburgh Wright-Hageman Public Library). It surprised me with its charm, the reading garden w/a cute little fountain w/rubber duckies in the summer, and the Christmas trees they line the front windows with in December. And oh, yeah, the books! ;)
I've Googled a few other libraries, and found some that I'm sure the town's inhabitants are proud to call their own.
Mirror Lake Library, St. Petersburg, FL. I really want them to have a pet alligator for some reason!
 E.C. Weber Fraser Public Library, Fraser, MI. I want to sit at that table in the garden while reading a historical romance- pretty!

 And in the fairness of picturesque library diversity, this stunner is in Milan, the Biblioteca Sormani. And, huh, what can I say? It looks magical... *strives to tamp down library lust... fails.*