Monday, November 30, 2015


Today, I have the pleasure of hosting Judith Natelli McLaughlin and revealing the cover for her middle grade novel Dear Diary, E.P. Thompson Here.

More about Dear Diary, E.P. Thompson Here

Dear Diary,
E. P. Thompson here.
Worst. Year. Ever. First semester in sixth grade, and my best friend Debbie has dropped me because my boobs aren’t big enough. Well, she didn’t say that exactly, but I just know that’s the reason. Then I got paired with Adam Berry, the biggest pencil-protecting geek of the decade, for the never-ending, semester-long math project. And as if that’s not bad enough, Thomas Maxwell, the cutest boy in my grade, only pays attention to me when I’m making a total fool of myself. Ugh.
Weirdest thing of all: it seems Lucas C. Tanner Middle School has a full-on, bona fide thief! Now all the teachers are going crazy and all the students are too, because Mrs. Peule has promised to make this year a living nightmare until the culprit is caught. We have to find out who is ruining sixth grade. Like, now!
Well, at least the criminal activity has taken the focus off my lack of bra ownership. Sigh.
I have to go. I’ll write again soon. Promise.

More about Judith Natelli McLaughlin

Judith Natelli McLaughlin grew up reading a solid diet of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, and Shel Silverstein. Her mom was famous for telling her, "You are never alone if you have a book," and her dad, a lover of words, was always reciting poetry to her.
She went on to write, illustrate, and publish her own poetry book,Poems on Fruits and Odes to Veggies—Where Healthy Eating Starts With a Poem. Her other works include a women’s fiction novel titled This Moment and a soon to be released children’s chapter book, Mackenzie Goode Makes A Mistake—A Big One.
She lives in New Jersey with her husband Brian; her three daughters Katie, Lindsay, and Maggie; and her faithful writing companion, a Westie named Duke.

And the the big reveal...

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Writer Bucket List

I've seen these from time to time around the web, & filed the idea away for a someday post. I guess that someday is today! Much of mine is what I think many of us all wish for, but there might be a new one here or there. 

1. Hold a paperback or hardback of my book. There are several ebook publishers I wouldn't mind being published by (at all), but I definitely want to get physical with one of my stories someday (ew, haha!).

2. Hit the NYT's bestseller list. Is there a writer alive who doesn't want this?

3. See my book on the bigscreen. How awesome would it be to go to your local theater, and watch a  world created by you come to life, hopefully surrounded by family and friends. Fantastico! See? I don't even need a red carpet & flashing lights (hear that, Universe? I'm open to being humble!). 

4. Book signings. I know these can be a hit or a miss, but I at least want to have the chance to sit at a table & see if anyone shows up. (I will bring candy! Please come!)
5. Participate in a book panel. Note, I didn't say be a speaker at a conference (which I'm not eloquent or smart enough anyway!). That just sounds too nerve-wracking. But sitting w/other authors & answering questions seems like it'd be a good time.

6. Win an award. It would be nice to see my book have some kind of pretty gold or silver sticker on it. Though I'm not super-versed in lit prizes. Caldecott, Newbery, & Printz are about the only ones I know of. I'll gladly take a lesser one! 

7. Have one kick-butt book launch party. After reading & writing, my next passion is party planning. Getting to plan a party centered around my book is something I daydream about all the time. Like, you don't even know. I mean, obviously, I just told you, but...yeah. You don't even. 

8. Dedicate my first book to my Mom. My mother read to us when we were infants, and never stopped. Without her, I wouldn't love the written word the way I do & so it goes without saying, the first one is for her. 

9. Meet my critique partners. Kimberly, Kristin, & Beth are my girls. I so want to meet them one day! 

10. Have a book trailer. I am super picky about these, so having a good one would be lovely. But under two minutes, as I get impatient with long ones. 

* * *

So there you are, my book dreams in a list. Some are lofty, but what good are dreams if you don't dream high, eh? Feel free to share any of your own! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Anna Soliveres is just one of those people that you love to interact with: friendly and warm, with the cutest cats! ;) I'm delighted to help share the cover for her latest book! 

Crimson Earth by Anna Soliveres (Modi #2) 
Publication date: December 10th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Aeva Storm finally has the answers she’s been looking for since the night she was struck by lightning. She knows who she is—and more importantly, what she is. But her secret isn’t hers alone to keep, and some of those who know the truth will do anything to control her.

In the sequel to the acclaimed Violet Storm, Aeva must decide how far she’ll go to protect her identity and to find her missing sister in a world she hardly recognizes. She must embrace her new life—and her strange new body—if she hopes to save the only place she and her family have left to call home.

Filled with action, mystery, and heartbreak, Crimson Earth finds Aeva, Ruven, and Karth on opposing sides as the war between The False Alliance and the Monarchy draws near.

Can they band together to fight against the evil threatening the City? Or will they destroy each other before the war has even begun?

Add to Goodreads | Pre-order

Also, if you sign up for Anna's newsletter, you can get the first 2 chapters free!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

* * * 

Anna Soliveres has always been a storyteller but it wasn't until her early twenties when she began writing novel length works. The result was an enthusiasm to get better at the craft until her work could be shared with the world. Released in March 2014, VIOLET STORM is her debut novel. Anna is currently working on another young adult fantasy series, titled SNOW DOLLS. To learn more, please visit her

Thursday, November 12, 2015

In Which I Share Embarrassing Tidbits of Information

I am technically challenged. Me and computers don't always see eye to eye. Honestly, they mystify me. And since writing-- for the most part-- takes place completely on one of them, I've learned a few things (slooowly) over the years. 

Take for example my first book. I wrote that thing in chapters. Like most of us do. *grin* But I saved each chapter individually. All by itself. Do you know, that when you've written a 90K+ book, with some thirty-odd chapters, that amazingly enough, you don't remember what's in each chapter? Instead you spend A LOT of time clicking in and out of chapters trying to remember what is where. 

I had a lightbulb moment when listening to Christine Johnson giving a NaNoWriMo talk at the library several years ago. She said she just wrote it all in one big ms. No separate folders for each chapter. Just one big word doc. 

*BOOM* Mind blown. (gah, it's beyond embarrassing how clueless I am sometimes) 

I only learned this year that ctrl A highlights an entire body of text.

And do you know how much I would've given to know that you can highlight an entire body of text, and drag the little marker over on the ruler-thingy at the top of Word, and thus indent hundreds of pages of text at once?

True story: Around two years ago, I stayed up 'til after 3 a.m. manually indenting every single line in a full request for an agent. Every. Single. Line. I got to about 75% and then had to give up. It was either that or go stark-raving mad. So I picked sanity and three hours of sleep. 

Also, a few weeks ago, I realized I can search my inbox for emails. That's super handy!

Am I alone in my tech-stupidity? Please share any tales you might have-- it'll make me feel better!  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Author Stop: Marilou Reeder & THE DARING PRINCE DASHING

Today, author Marilou Reeder is here to talk about daring princes and the best dessert ever! 

1. Being raised in Wisconsin, what would you tell ppl about that state that they might not know?

Wisconsin is not all cheese, brats, and football! There is a small city in the state called Wisconsin Dells which is truly the waterpark capital of the world. And there’s Little House on the Rock, an eclectic museum of sorts that shouldn’t be missed if you happen to be visiting the area. My favorite pastry, Kringle, is made only in Racine, WI. It’s made in a large oval shape, filled with anything from raspberries to cheese, and topped with icing. Light, flaky, and delicious (okay, now I’m making myself hungry!). Growing up, I always felt that there was a real appreciation for the arts--not just to observe them, but to be active participants in them. That was very enriching as a child. The winters are cold, of course, but the people are incredibly warm.

2. After a picture book is sold, do the authors do much collaborating with the illustrators?
Not in my case. Early in the creation of the book, I was shown some sample spreads by the talented Karl West. It’s a thrilling experience to find out who will be illustrating your text! After that, months went by, and my editor, Julie Matysik, emailed me with art for the entire book asking for input regarding continuity. Julie was wonderful about listening to my comments. Karl and I never communicated directly at this time, though, and that was probably best. He brought so much of his own vision to the book. The spreads are brimming with humorous details, and I know readers will enjoy poring over them as much as I do. I see something new every time I read the book.

3. How well do you think your children would get along with Daring Prince Dashing if he were to suddenly take up residence in your lives?

It’s funny you ask this, because our next door neighbor is a Prince Dashing, and he is very much a part of our lives. He and my youngest daughter pal around all the time.They explore! And ride scooters down the hill! Fortunately, we don’t live near any crocodiles.

4. What do you consider the best.dessert.ever?

This is a tough one, because I don’t think I’ve met a dessert I didn’t like. Key lime pie is a favorite.

5. What is a fav line(s) from The Daring Prince Dashing?

“The next morning after a breakfast of rattlesnake eggs with Whoopin’ Hot Sauce, Prince Dashing made an announcement.”

You’ll have to read the book to find out what his announcement is.

* * *

Prince Dashing is daring and will stop at nothing to find a new friend!

Prince Dashing bathes with crocodiles, eats while dangling upside down from the tallest trees, and toasts s’mores by dragon’s breath.

The night of the royal ice cream social, he meets a girl as adventurous as he is. But at the stroke of bedtime, the girl hurries off, leaving behind her mysterious stick. In his usual daring way, Dashing ventures out to search for the stick’s owner. He gallops by groups of thugs, tromps past toothy crocodiles, and eventually stumbles into the zoo. Will he ever find his friend?

Follow Dashing and one equally daring girl in this humorous tale of fearless fun and friendship.

* * * 

Happiest when I'm creating. Author of THE DARING PRINCE DASHING, Sky Pony Press. Mom of three. Represented by @KatRushall of Marsal Lyon Literary.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Rochelle Deans & Harry Potter is for Nerds II

Hey, guys! So I am delighted to have Rochelle Deans stop by! I met Rochelle through the QueryTracker forum, and she is ever a fun person to interact with. She recently had an essay published in an anthology- Harry Potter is for Nerds II!

1. I know HP lovers always remember how they first came into contact w/the books. How were you first introduced to Harry Potter?

This story is going to be longer than you probably intended, because my introduction to Harry Potter was in phases, and all three phases are important.J

My sister’s teacher was reading them aloud in class during the height of anti-Potter mania in the Christian world. She must’ve been about 8, and I was 11. My mom wasn’t sure she wanted my sister hearing them, since she’d heard a lot about the evils therein and how the books were going to turn all kids into witches and whatnot.

My sister wanted to keep hearing the story, and as she explained it to my mom, I wanted to read it, too. So my mom decided she would actually read it to see if it was as harmful as all the Christian buzz said it would. She read it, loved it, and found nothing wrong, so my sister was allowed to keep listening to them during story time, and she bought me copies of the first three books to read.

I don’t remember reading them for the first time. I wish I did, but that was an age where I devoured books. They didn’t affect me much stronger than others, until my sister lost the first four books, hard cover, at school. I couldn’t afford to replace them, so I became a less devoted fan, reading a friend’s copy of new releases until 2007 and never re-reading them.

I was a casual fan until The Hunger Games came out and, after reading Catching Fire, I Googled “Peeta as Christ figure,” because the imagery made a lot of sense to me. I came across a website called, which analyzed Peeta as a Christ figure in depth. And much of the older posts on the blog, as evidenced by the name, were about the deep symbolism and literary devices that could be found in Harry Potter. I read through all the archives, added it to my blogroll, and had a renewed interest in the Harry Potter series. Three years after Deathly Hallows was released, and thanks to an extremely nerdy catalyst, I was part of the fandom.

2. The names in HP are so creative, and lots of fun. If you had to name your child after a HP character who would you go with (no character is off limits)?

I can’t say this is something my husband and I didn’t seriously consider.

I’ve always been partial to the name Luna. If our second was a girl, it came up as a serious contender for a middle name. Most girls’ names were too weird (Hermione) or too normal and not Harry Potter-y enough (Molly) for serious contention. There’s no way I could name a girl after my favorite character, since even she hates her name. (No Tonks or Nymphadora for me.)

As for a boy, we’d probably go with Seamus or George. James and Dean would be higher on the list, but combining them with “Deans” is just a bad idea all around. ;)

3. Please give us the juicy deets on being publishing in Harry Potter for Nerds II!

Well, as always in publishing, this is a very slow story. I mentioned in the answer to the first question that I’d been following Hogwarts Professor since 2010. In 2011 I read a guest post and while reading it, I had an epiphany—or what would be an epiphany if I could prove my hypothesis. Proving it meant learning a lot more about literary alchemy than I had to that point, so I bought a recommended book and spent the next year reading it cover to cover in conjunction with the first four books, which my hypothesis applied to. The evidence supporting my hypothesis was stronger than I thought it would be. Once I’d finished taking extensive notes (sometime in late 2012), I started writing.

When I finished my essay (in mid-2013), it was 7,000 words long. I’d intended it to be a guest post on Hogwarts Professor, but my rebuttal was (1) two years later, and (2) way too long for a blog post. I sent it to the webhost anyway. He read it and recommended I send it on to Travis Prinzi, who had edited the first Harry Potter for Nerdscollection and was thinking about starting another.

I didn’t hear back. Instead, I was invited to speak on a podcast for MuggleNet—and they invited the original guest poster to be there as a rebuttal. So in July 2013, I recorded a podcast with the idea.

 (Here’s the link to the hour-long podcast, Rochelle's part starts about 20 minutes in.)

In June 2014, nearly a year to the day after sending my essay off, I finally heard back. They were interested in publishing the essay. After months of waiting and a back-and-forth that involved rewriting basically the entire thing (from a colloquial blog post into a veritable essay for a collection), it was ready. And now, four years after I started researching, it’s published!

4. There is so much fun HP merchandise out in the world! What item do you wish you could have right now?

I’m actually not much of a souvenir collector. I have a Gryffindor Quidditch onesie I bought long before ever getting pregnant, the series in British English that I bought on my honeymoon, and Chamber of Secrets in Koren, a gift from my brother in law.

The only thing I’m missing is my actual letter to Hogwarts. ;) As they say, “Friendly reminder that anyone born from 1985-1998 didn't get their Hogwarts Letter as Voldemort's ministry destroyed all Muggleborn records.”

Although the new illustrated edition for when my kids are old enough would be awesome.

5. Lastly, what themes in HP speak most strongly to you?

Way to ask the hard questions, Leandra. There is seriously so much going on in the series that I can’t get enough of, especially since I tend to write thematically. Since saying the main themes of love and tolerance being enough to overcome evil is probably cliché, we’ll go with a theme that spoke to me personally. Hermione and I have a lot in common (I mean, you’re interviewing me because I’m getting published in a collection for nerds), so I have a lot to learn from her. This is one quote I’ve tried to take to heart:

* * *

Occupy Hogwarts! Do you see the revolutionary potential of Harry Potter? Where would you stand in the Battle of Hogwarts? Readers who appreciate J.K. Rowling's messages about political and social repression, and about the empowering qualities of empathy, invisibility, and transformative love, will discover inspiration in the latest compilation of essays from editors Kathryn N. McDaniel and Travis Prinzi. Fans of the first Harry Potter for Nerds will find this second volume packed with literary studies of favorite characters, like Remus Lupin, Dobby, Nearly Headless Nick, and the Weasley Twins. And they will also encounter political, economic, and philosophical analyses that explore the problems of our world and point to Rowling's belief in the "power of the powerless" when it comes to solving them. From Squibs to house-elves, from ghosts to young wizards-in-training and even wands and Snitches, the authors in this volume find power in unexpected places. Most of all, they demonstrate the power of expert readers to apply fantasy to the real world in ways that liberate, delight, and inspire.

Amazon | B&N


Rochelle Deans works as a freelance editor for novels and dissertations. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young daughter. Her bad habits include mispronouncing words, correcting grammar, and spending far too much time on the Internet.

Blog | Twitter | Goodreads 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

New Read Alert: Firestarter

Patsy Collins has a new book available! And just from the title, I've a feeling it's got a bit of heat to it...

Alice has a fantasy. It starts with being rescued by a hunky fireman, involves the kiss of life and ends in him not needing his uniform. At the New Forest show, Alice is offered an innocent version of her dream. Reluctantly she turns down fireman Hamish's invitation.

Despite Alice's blameless behaviour, boyfriend Tony's obsessive jealousy results in a split. Hamish wants to take Tony's place, but a hoaxer ensures Alice already sees far too much of Hampshire Fire Service. Dad's explosive sprout surprise, Mum's baking, sister Kate's mind boggling pep talks and the peculiar behaviour of Alice's boss Miles provide distractions.

Is Alice really in danger? What is Kate up to? Can Hamish possibly be as perfect as he seems? It takes Alice masses of wonderful food, disgusting wine, smelly mud, red footed crows and steamy Welsh passion, but she finds the answers. And rethinks her fantasy.

* * * 

Patsy Collins lives on the south coast of England with her husband; photographer Gary Davies. She's the author of three novels and is working on two more.

Patsy's short stories (350+ to date) have appeared in a range of UK, Irish, South African, Canadian, Swedish and Australian publications. Some of her stories are available to download from Alfie Dog Fiction.

When she's not writing, Patsy tends her allotment, travels with her husband in their campervan acting as his photographic assistant, and eats cakes. She sometimes gives talks to writing groups.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Sunday, November 1, 2015

I'm Doing PiBoIdMo!

I don't know if I'll ever be a participant of NaNoWriMo. A whole book in a month just seems a bit out of my grasp. But 30 picture book ideas in a month? That's more my speed! I would love to one day have a picture book published, but they do intimidate me. So little words, meaning each one has to have weight, necessity. Eep! 

I have written one picture book so far, about a frog that lives next to a drive-in movie theater. It needs mundo work. But I'd like to keep trying and get better, so churning out multiple ideas to pick from sounds like just what I need. 

If anyone else has been wanting to test the picture book waters, registration is open until the 5th! Here's the link to Tara Lazar's website, the founder of PiBoIdMo.