Monday, August 31, 2015

Ready. Set. Write! (Week 13: The End) + Manuscripts & Manicures

Ready.Set.Write! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime Morrow, Alison Miller, Katy UppermanErin Funk, and Elodie Nowodazkij. Every Monday participants share how they're doing in reaching their goals for the summer. To see a full list of participants, go here.

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1. How I did on last week's goals: I wanted to complete 40 pages of revisions based on a cp's feedback. And...I GOT THE ENTIRE THING REVISED!!!! Sorry for shouting that at you, but this makes me feel ah.maz.zing. I am usually so slow at incorporating feedback. It takes me weeks, sometimes months. And I busted it out in a week. Oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah...*ah-hem* Sorry. I'm just SO HAPPY!!! Aso, a HUGE THANK YOU to my wonderful cp, Kristin Smith. She really helps me whip my stories into shape. {Love my cp's!!}

I also wanted to get in 500 words on my new WiP, A Love Turned Bitter, and I got in 699. 

2.. A fav line from my story: From ALTB:

Eight months ago, he had been close to declaring to Father his intentions of courting me. Then her brother died, I was blamed, and his attentions…stopped. 

I understood, of course. But understanding never helped a heart not feel pain.

3. The biggest challenge I faced this week: For once, not a lot. I was completely in the zone this week, so it wasn't a fight to make myself open up that Word doc. But we all know how it goes: next week I'll probably hit a sticky spot in revising or writing the WiP, and it'll take my fingers glued to the keys for me to get a single word down. The joys of writing! 

4. Something I love about my WiP: That it's set in England and it's steampunkish. And inspired by a Taylor Swift song. And there's a mechanical caribou in it. And hot air balloons. And gorgeous dresses. And can anyone tell I'm in the new idea/love phase?! (please send me an email in about a month, reminding me of this. thank you.)

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Okay, so as mentioned in the title of this post, this is the last week of R.S.W! {aww} So here's a recap of what I wanted to accomplish this summer:
  • Finish revising the dystopian so I can get it to my critique partners. Done!

  • Finish fast drafting a paranormal novel set in New Orleans.  Done!

  • And if I get all that done before the end of RSW!, start back on my middle grade ghost story that's almost 50% complete. Goal changed. I decided to start on a A Love Turned Bitter instead. Current word count: 1144
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The lovely hosts of R.S.W! came up with a fun activity for our last post. Manuscripts & Manicures! I painted my nails to the theme of Necromancy in New Orleans

The blue is for night, when necromancers do most of their work. The white is for Flannery being a light necromancer, and the sparkle overcoat is despite routinely mucking about in boots, and smelling like a mule, Flannery is a girly girl. The silver nail is for a secret society called The Grey, who play a big part in the novel's end.   
And one more to show off my not-so-fab nail painting skills...

Lastly, I want to tell all my fellow R.S.W! participants & regular blog readers thanks so much for the weekly visits, comments, and encouragement! You helped make my summer goals happen, so hugs for all!! And of course, a big thank you to the hosts of R.S.W!: Jaime, Erin, Allison, Katy, and Elodie. They take on a lot of work every summer to make this happen, as well as coming up w/the coolest writer care packages. Thanks, ladies!!! 

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Gramps always said that when the crickets were quiet, something bad was coming. And the crickets have been as silent as the dead. It started with the murdered deer in the playground with the unmistakable purple of a foxglove in its mouth. But in the dying boondock town of Emerald Cove, life goes on.

I work at Gramps's diner, and the cakes―the entitled rich kids who vacation here―make our lives hell. My best friend, Alex Pace, is the one person who gets me. Only Alex has changed. He's almost like a stranger now. I can't figure it out...or why I'm having distinctly more-than-friend feelings for him. Ones I shouldn't be having.

Then one of the cakes disappears.

When she turns up murdered, a foxglove in her mouth, a rumor goes around that Alex was the last person seen with her—and everyone but me believes it. Well, everyone except my worst enemy, Jenika Shaw. When Alex goes missing, it's up to us to prove his innocence and uncover the true killer. But the truth will shatter everything I've ever known about myself — and Alex.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

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This book is intense. Very suspenseful, it kept me guessing to the end. If you want to read a book that is one of those gritty, realistic looks at teen life, then this is it. The Foxglove Killings doesn't pull any punches when it comes to what some teens mighht get up to in their spare time (but it's kept low-key, not too graphic, so no worries there). 

TFK also has a theme that I've always enjoyed (not murder, k? *wink*), that of a friend turning into something more. Nova and Alex are great characters. Besides their relationship, my next fav was between Nova and her grandfather. The setting is the Oregon coast line, which Tara Kelly did a great job of making it sound gorgeous and rustic and mysterious, all at the same time. A good majority of the book takes place in a diner, and I always love restaurants in books, so another plus.

Themes of family (and not the 'perfect' kind), mental illness, and bullying are strongly present too. If you're looking for a 'who-dunnit' kind of YA that isn't all rainbows and sunshine, I say pick this up!


Oregon coast line

Family diner

Graphics (created on Canva, featuring lines I enjoyed):

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Supporting a YA Author

It recently came to my attention through Mary Fan, that one of her fellow Red Adept Publishing authors, Harvey Chute, is fighting stage IV cancer. RAP is kindly donating all sales for August & September to Harvey. Not only would it be wonderful to help him, but you also get a great-sounding historical in the process! 

Amazon | B&N

A ruthless murder and a stolen shipment of gold.

At school, sixteen-year-old Nikaia Wales endures the taunts of bullies who call her a “half-breed.” At home, she worries about how her family will react if she reveals her growing feelings for the quiet boy next door.

Those are soon the least of her troubles. Nikaia discovers a hidden cache of gold, and when police find a corpse nearby, her father becomes a suspect. Worse, Elias Doyle is circling, hungry to avenge his brother’s death.

Nikaia desperately searches for clues to save her father. In her quest to find the killer, she learns about the power of family, friendship, and young love.

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I also wanted to share this photo of Harvey and his daughters, along with an excerpt from his blog about what he feels is at the heart of his book, Stone and Silt.

Stone and Silt is, at its heart, the story of a family. One that has tender moments, shares joy, faces peril, and experiences loss. In other words, it's like every family I know, to one degree or another.

Nikaia, the main character, is a sixteen-year-old half-native, half-white girl. She's coming to grips with becoming a woman while in the midst of the worst jeopardy her family has ever faced.

As a father of three daughters, I can empathize with the feelings of Nikaia's Papa. Seeing your girls mature and stretch before your eyes is at once heartwarming and terrifying. 

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Addicted to Beginnings


I really like beginnings. I love cracking open a cover and reading the first couple of pages of a book. It's all new, all fresh, it's the first steps of an adventure. But then...After a bit, after a few chapters...It's not new any longer. 

I know the main character reasonably well (what they want, or what they're hiding) and their friends and where they live, and how their family life is. I've gotten a feel for their humor (or lack of, which for me, always stinks) and how they interact with others. 

I have SO many books on my shelves right now that I start, get a few chapters in, and then discard. And it's not that they're not good. They are good! They have intriguing characters and setting and an interesting plot. But when I go to pick it up again, I see that other book out of the corner of my eye, waving charmingly at me. Saying, "Pick me up! Read my beginning! There might be cookies, or a super sarcastic main character! Or sentient spaceships, or dragons. Maybe dragons eating cookies...?" 

I have an addiction to beginnings apparently. I guess I should just be glad it's not endings? 

So tell me, please, am I the only one who has a fascination with beginnings?


Monday, August 24, 2015

Ready. Set. Write! (Week 12)

Ready.Set.Write! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime Morrow, Alison Miller, Katy Upperman,Erin Funk, and Elodie Nowodazkij. Every Monday participants share how they're doing in reaching their goals for the summer. To see a full list of participants, go here.

1. How I did on last week's goals: 

{To make a longer note of the 'thanks, guys' (I was running out of video time), I'd like to tell everyone I appreciate all the support as I drafted my WiP this summer, much appreciated!!}

2. My goals for this week: To write 500 words on my new WiP, and from my critique partner's notes, get in at least 40 pages of revisions on my near-future thriller. 

3. A fav line from my story: 

“This is Brownie,” I explain. “My new mule.”
Shane’s lips twitch. “Brownie. You do have a thing for food names, don’t you?”
“Yup. Kind of like I have a thing for restaurant owners. And necromancer crew leaders.”

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week: I experienced one of those wonderful life changes (not marriage, divorce, or a new baby, lol!) and so the stress kind of threw me for a loop. But I didn't want to let it derail me from my goal of finishing, so I didn't. (Except stress eating? Good-bye, donuts!) Oh, and another challenge? The h key on my super old computer broke. It's now bare of a key and just the electrical board, and I have to press very firmly on it to get an h. Argh. 

5. Something I love about my WiP:  Need I say it again? That it's done!!!  Weell...this draft anyway, but that first major hurdle is out of the way, and that feels wonderful. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Guest Post: Listening to Your Inner Writer by Heather M. Gardner

Thank you, Leandra Wallace, for inviting me to do a guest post on your blog today.

So…funny story. While writing my first book in the Maguire’s Corner series, Already Home, I experienced a major, colossal, way-too-long temporary halt. I mean really long. I couldn’t figure it out. I wanted to write. I needed to write.

But, every time I would sit down to continue my WIP, it was all just blank and I couldn’t write another word. Everyone said, take a break…read books…do something different for a while. And I tried all of those things. But, I still couldn’t get back to writing the story.

One day my mom/editor/biggest fan asked me what had happened to ‘that book’ I was writing. So, I told her. And as I explained my dilemma, it all clicked! EUREKA! I don’t like where the story is headed. I don’t want THIS to happen, I want THAT to happen! It all made sense. I couldn’t write the words, because I didn’t like the words.

This happened again, just weeks ago. I started on book three in the MC series, which I intended to be about the third female Maguire cousin, but no matter what I tried, I couldn’t make her story work. I had nothing for her. I scratched and clawed and fought to come up with something, anything, to write for her, but to no avail.

Finally, after lots of hemming and/or hawing, I figured out that book three wasn’t her book at all. She may get a story later on, but not right now. Book three will feature one of the male Maguire cousins, and he has a lot more going on in his life and will be SO much more interesting to write about.

So, had I actually thought about WHY I couldn’t write instead of trying to force the words, I might have saved myself some serious frustration. Had I listened to my inner writer voice, or even talked it out with someone I could trust, maybe I could have gotten back to writing that much sooner.

Do you fight with your words? Do you listen to your inner writer or do you shush that bugger up?

Thanks again for letting me visit, Leandra.

Heather M. Gardner's love of books began on the hand-woven rugs of her small town library where her mother worked. There she had a never-ending supply of stories to read at her fingertips. As a teen, her favorite genres to curl up with were romance and mysteries. When she started to create her own stories, they were the perfect fit.

Heather resides in New York with her best friend who is also her husband, plus her talented and handsome son. She is currently owned by four stray cats. Heather's a full-time mom, works part-time from home, a chocolate enthusiast, coffee junkie, cat addict, book hoarder and fluent in sarcasm.

Already Home: A Maguire’s Corner novel
Second Edition: formerly Maguire’s Corner
Author: Heather M. Gardner
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense

Publisher: InkSpell Publishing

Coffee shop owner Maggie Maguire doesn’t trust the new police chief her father hired to protect Maguire’s Corner. He’s a stranger, cold, bossy and annoyingly handsome. But, Maggie’s witnessed a serious crime and now someone’s trying to kill her. The man that aggravates her most might be the only one that can help her.

Police Chief Jack Munro likes his new job and his new town, and unfortunately he also likes the stubborn but beautiful town sweetheart. His self-imposed hands-off Maggie policy is about to be put to the ultimate test when he must keep her close to protect her while he tracks down a ruthless killer.

Determined to ignore Jack’s charms, Maggie attempts to help him unravel the mystery but when their lives hang in the balance she must decide how much she’s willing to risk to save the man she suddenly can’t resist.

Amazon | Kobo | B&N | AllRomance

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Monstrous Celebration for MIND YOUR MONSTERS

Author Catherine Bailey has answered some questions of the scaly and furry sort for us today. Read on to be thoroughly entertained! 

1. Is the Loch Ness monster real?

Yes. In fact he wrote me once but it was hard to read his handwriting because he has such big, thick fingers. Plus the paper was all wet. But I wrote him back anyway and we became pen pals. I think Nessy was upset that nobody believed in him, so I sent him a nice drawing of me riding him.

2. If the Cookie Monster ever got tired of cookies, what dessert do you think he'd fixate on next?

If the Cookie Monster was anything like me, and I assume he is, he would move on to doughnuts. Doughnuts are the world’s most perfect food because you can eat them with your hands and they have icing on them.

3. Did you think there were monsters under your bed (or in your closet?) as a child?

Yes, and it made me quite afraid of the dark. But then I realized that if there were monsters in my room, they were probably as scared of me as I was of them. Then I felt sorry for them, and would sing songs like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Cyclops” to calm them down.

4. What monster do you think is most underappreciated?

Well Nessy sure complains a lot, but I think the most overlooked monster is probably the ghost. I mean, everyone thinks he is so cute – floating around in his little twirly sheet, with his big dark eyes. But seriously, he doesn’t have feet! That’s just plain scary to me.

5. Would a monster with tentacles or a monster with claws win a monster throw down?

Excellent, excellent question. Scientists have been trying to answer this one for years. The answer depends on how many tentacles versus how many claws.

6. What is your favorite monster from Mind Your Monsters?

I’d have to say… the mutant octopus, because he is big and pink and the very first one to listen to Wally, my main character, when he says the magic word. Though the little purple guys come in a close second.

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Vampires and werewolves and zombies—oh my! It's a monster invasion, and the stinky-smelling creatures are destroying Wally's peaceful little town. They scare the kids, knock over the lampposts, and make a mess of everything. And no one can stop them—until, fed up, Wally says . . . the magic word, "PLEASE." Learning good manners has never been as monstrously fun!

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Catherine Bailey is a former attorney and current children’s author from sunny Florida. Her first picture book, MIND YOUR MONSTERS, will debut from Sterling Publishing in 2015. Her second, HYPNOSIS HARRY, will be published by Sky Pony in 2016. When Catherine is not writing, or editing, or swatting at mosquitoes, she looks after her husband and two children. Her hobbies include reading, 80’s movies, travel, and TJ Maxx. (But mostly reading).

                              Facebook | Website

To celebrate such a cute picture book, I made monster cupcakes....*raaarrwrrr*

 Then I turned my back for just a second and... gone. All of them! Rotten monsters.

They were on top of the fridge... 

On my kitchen shelves...

Hanging out with my mugs...

They were some troublesome monsters! 

And in case you were wondering, monsters do have toxic green ooze inside them. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Ready. Set. Write! (Week 11)

Ready.Set.Write! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Jaime Morrow, Alison Miller, Katy Upperman,Erin Funk, and Elodie Nowodazkij. Every Monday participants share how they're doing in reaching their goals for the summer. To see a full list of participants, go here.

1. How I did on last week's goals: I hit 5K again (5026). Did not think it was going to happen, but it did!

2. My goals for this week: To finish Necromancy in New Orleans. I so badly want to be able to say: Done! So no word goals, just the 'the End'.

3. A fav line from my story: 

Alden isn’t at dinner, just like he wasn’t last night. He must be preparing for the spell, and the murder of six people.

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week: Just the same stuff, trying to fit in words around work and house and kid. Never ending!

5. Something I love about my WiP: That it's all about ready to go down in Jackson Square! 

And ooh, while I was loading this pic (one from our vacation) I decided I should totally have the spider sub-human crawl up on this statue at some point. Wouldn't that be creepy?!

Friday, August 14, 2015


Tasty Book Tours is Pleased to Present...

Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie
Releasing March 1st, 2016
William Morrow
Historical Fiction 

In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

From her earliest days, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France. And it is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that she learns of her father’s liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age.

Patsy too has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé, William Short, a staunch abolitionist intent on a career in Europe. Heartbroken at having to decide between being William’s wife or a devoted daughter, she returns to Virginia with her father and marries a man of his choosing, raising eleven children of her own.

Yet as family secrets come to light during her father’s presidency, Patsy must again decide how much she will sacrifice to protect his reputation, in the process defining not just Jefferson’s political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.

Pre-Order Now
Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo

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Laura Kamoie has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction books on early America, and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction as the New York Times bestselling author of over twenty books, Laura Kaye. Her debut historical novel, America's First Daughter, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowed her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.

Find Laura Here

STEPHANIE DRAY is a bestselling and award-nominated author of historical women’s fiction. Her series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into six different languages, was nominated for a RITA Award and won the Golden Leaf. As STEPHANIE DRAVEN, she is a national bestselling author of paranormal romance, contemporary romance, and American-set historical women’s fiction. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation’s capital. Before she became a novelist, she was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the stories of women in history to inspire the young women of today.

Find Stephanie Here

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Weekday Fun + a Giveaway

I enjoy having days off through the week (though then having to work the weekend is a drag...). I try to do at least one fun w/the kidlet, and yesterday involved going to an indoor playground. It's called the Commons, and I used to play there as a kid too. It's been overhauled since then, and I am totally jealous of that platform/net climbing-thingy. Where was it twenty years ago?! 

One big cheesy face.

So while the kidlet played, I met with a writing friend, Carrie Beckort. It was great to catch up (while eating Subway, yum! #meatballmarinara) on what was happening w/each other writing-wise, and to talk books, and kids, and just stuff! 

Afterward, I took the kidlet to the bookstore (it's at the opposite end of the street from the playground, so a nice walk on a beautiful day) and he picked out a glow-in-the-dark superhero book. 

Look at that pinky...

Now it's giveaway time! I picked up these super cute notebooks for .88 cents at Wal-Mart last weekend. I'm giving two of them away, so do your commenting thang. Also, keep in mind, for .88 cents the quality is kind of .88 cents worth... ;)