Tuesday, December 20, 2016

I'll Be Back...

Hey all! Just a quick note to say that I'll be gone until after the holidays. I go on vacation the week after Christmas, so I'm looking forward to reading, watching movies, and stuffing my face. (and maybe taking some time to walk on the treadmill, ugh) 

I've just got to get through the rest of this week (don't we all!) and then Sat. night we'll be celebrating at my sister-in-law's house. Sunday we'll wake up and the kidlet will get his stocking and open his presents from us. Then on to Christmas breakfast at the in-laws (my mil makes this fabulous blueberry french toast bake every year) and yet more present opening! 

I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday season, with friends and family near. 

A plaid scarf and a gold deer pin-- that's about as dressed up as it gets. 

Merry Christmas!! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

First Chapter Reading of VIOLET GRENADE

I always think it's so neat to see/hear authors read their work, and for your enjoyment, here's Victoria Scott reading the first chapter of Violet Grenade, out May 2nd 2017 from Entangled Teen. 




Summary from Goodreads:

DOMINO: A girl with blue hair and a demon in her mind.

CAIN: A stone giant on the brink of exploding.

MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.

WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.

When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind.

Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson.


If Violet Grenade sounds like your kinda book, it's available on NetGalley right now! Go here


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

IWSG: Lost Words


The IWSG is a community where writers can share their fears and insecurities about the writing life. To learn more, check out their website here.

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There's no easy way to ease into this, so I'm just gonna do it real quick, like ripping off a Band-aid: I lost my flash drive that had my WiP on it. 

My story, gone. Somewhere out in the cold world, getting rained on and/or crushed by car tires. Or languishing in a store, kicked under a display of hand sanitizers (or maybe Pepperidge Farm cookies, that makes me feel better).
 
Thankfully, I had backed it up in October, and so in total, I've lost 9K words. Initially I thought I'd lost closer to 20K, so there's a silver lining.
 
But it still stinks and I'm still bummed and so mad at myself. I know how I am when I have to rewrite something from scratch that I'd already written. I try so hard to remember exactly how it was before, thus making my already slow writing process somewhere around the speed of a snail (and not the cute speedy snail from Turbo). 

I know I'll get through it though. I can do this! My plan is to write the final scene (I was so close to finishing before The Case of The Lost Flash Drive...*sob*) and set it aside for a few weeks to write a short story. Then I'm going to go back and piece the story together (I wrote most of it out of order) and get it into better shape with a few rounds of revising. After that, I'm hoping I'll be able to approach rewriting the lost material in a better frame of mind. 

That is my strategy anyway, dear friends.
 
And in other, better, cheerier news, my third short story released yesterday, and I have a release day post that you can find here, complete with a video, cookies, and weird plants that took over my bookcase. =D

Lastly, the question of the month: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

I see myself with an agent and with a traditional publishing deal. It's what I've been working towards for a long time now, and I know if I don't give up and put in the work, that I will get there. To quote Henry David Thoreau-- Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. 

And here's to all of us doing just that!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

2017 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide Release Day!




(I never realized how much I say SO & UM!!) 




Sugar Cookies & Chocolate Crinkles








Kirkus Review:

A diverse collection of futuristic stories set within contemporary emotional landscapes, tailor-made for millennials.

Each author offers a distinct vision of what life may be like for teens of the future, from life on Mars to living with robots and having aliens for best friends. Authors interweave these plots with delicate true-to-life situations including coping with the divorce of one’s parents and losing a parent, themes that let readers know that with all of the wonder and possibility that future technology might bring, parents that live on Mars still get divorced, and human beings still die of cancer. Dianna Sanchez presents the story of a young Latina born into an agrarian Martian family who visits her extended relatives on drought-ridden Earth for the first time. Mike Barretta imagines a high school biology project that genetically modifies a live chicken egg into a dragon. Adding a dash of humor, R.W.W. Greene brilliantly depicts what a space-age timeout might look like. Other authors include Nancy Kress, Zach Shephard, Deborah Walker, Eric Choi, and Leandra Wallace, and more. This collection of short science fiction is an ideal entrĂ©e to the genre for neophytes, as it’s not laden with heavy doses of technological jargon or larded with dystopian violence.

Offering just the right amount of imagination, humor, and contemporary nuances to engage young readers, this is a must-have in science-fiction collections serving middle graders and teens.

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Kirkus Review & Cart Update


I'm excited that the 2017 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide got a really great review from Kirkus! Here's the closing of the review:

"Offering just the right amount of imagination, humor, and contemporary nuances to engage young readers, this is a must-have in science-fiction collections serving middle graders and teens." 
 
I'm also pretty pumped that my name was mentioned, that gave me a nice glow in the heart region. =) You can find the full review here. And if you'd consider adding the 2017 YEAG to read on Goodreads, then I'd super love that! 
 
As for those of you curious about how the cart turned out from my last life update, it turned out great! I was able to put it together w/minimal frustration, and it's really sturdy. Gotta love Wal-Mart sometimes (just not when I'm grocery shopping, ugh).


Monday, November 21, 2016

Guest Post by Kristin Smith (Book Launch + Giveaway!)



Guest Post by Kristin Smith: An Inside Look at My Writing Space

My writing space has evolved over time, much to the relief of my back and wrists. I used to write here:



But now I write here:




I'm a sucker for all things girly, sparkly, and pretty, so when I was designing my space, I knew I wanted it to reflect who I am and what I'm about. I love inspirational quotes and sayings and since this writing thing has always been a dream of mine, I figured focusing on the "dream" aspect would be a good thing. Plus, the arrow decor is a hot item right now, and I'm a big fan! Obviously.



You can't have a writing space without a sturdy desk and a comfy chair, and I think I found the best for my budget.



And a writing desk isn't complete without a little chocolate pick-me-up for those long writing sessions.



And a writing session isn't complete without a cup of herbal tea or hot chocolate for those chilly winter days.



My Make it Happen board keeps me focused on what I need to get done that week and reminds me of my daily goals.



Oh, and can't forget about the perfectly placed copies of my book that inspire me every time I sit down to write. Hello, beauties!


Well, that's my writing space in a nutshell. Where do you like to write or read a book?


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Kristin Smith writes young adult contemporary and science fiction novels. When she’s not writing, you can find her dreaming about the beach, beating her boys at Just Dance, or belting out karaoke (from the comfort of her own home). Kristin currently resides in the middle-of-nowhere North Carolina with her husband and five incredibly loud but extremely cute boys. To read more about her obsession with YA novels or her addiction to chocolate, you can visit her at kristinsmithbooks.com.


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Too pretty.
Too smart.
Too perfect.

In a crumbling, futuristic Las Vegas where the wealthy choose the characteristics of their children like ordering off a drive-thru menu, seventeen-year-old Sienna Preston doesn’t fit in. As a normal girl surrounded by genetically modified teenagers, all of her imperfections are on display. But after the death of her father, everything she’s ever known and loved changes in an instant.

With little skills to help provide for her family, Sienna clings to the two things that come easily—lying and stealing. But not all thief-for-hire assignments go as planned. When a covert exchange of a stolen computer chip is intercepted, she becomes entangled with a corrupt government official who uses her thieving past as leverage, her mother as collateral, and the genetically modified poster boy she’s falling for as bait.

In order to rescue her mother, there may only be one option—joining forces with the Fringe, an extremist group, and their young leader who’s too hot to be bad. Problem is, these revolutionaries aren’t what they seem, and the secrets they’re hiding could be more dangerous than Sienna is prepared for. In the end, she must be willing to risk everything to save the one thing that matters most.

Catalyst is a thrilling adventure of danger, romance, intrigue, and deception.

Goodreads | Amazon | Kobo
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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Life Updates

I've nothing bookish to talk about (still drafting), or any authors to showcase at the moment, so instead I'll tell you about my incredibly fascinating life (haha). 

I finally broke out the fire pit I got for my bday (picture evidence here) & put it together. I then discovered that I am hopeless at maintaining a fire. I think my chunks of wood were just too big, and I needed more lighter fluid. I was having trouble even getting cardboard to light! But I did have a fire going long enough to eat two s'mores and multiple burnt marshmallows, so yum-win. 

I'd mentioned that we were planning on selling our house next year. Well, since then, we've had some major car problems that we took a hit on finance-wise, which caused us to take a step back and really reevaluate. So we've decided to stay put and just update as we can. And I'm happy with that. I've found I'm really looking forward to painting the entire house, as I'd forgotten how something as simple as a new coat of paint can help freshen things up.

And I've decided in the spring that I'm going to have a major garage sale and get rid of so.much.stuff. I'm excited to declutter and go w/the less is more mentality. I've decided all I want in the living room decor-wise is a large mirror & an oversized wall clock (I love those). 

And speaking of decluttering, for the sake of just that, I did make a recent purchase. I bought this cart:


Because I am taking back my kitchen table!!

Every day when the hubs comes in, he dumps his gym bag on the table. And then there's all his bottles. He's big into fitness, and the table constantly stays covered in his protein powders & pills. NO MORE! This cart will be in its own designated nook & if I so much as see a dusting of protein powder...Well, it ain't gonna be pretty. 

So those are my big weekend plans, putting together a cart. And maybe toasting some more marshmallows as...more than likely...there probably won't be any chocolate left for actual s'mores by the end of this week. ;)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

IWSG: Let's Pretend, Shall We?


The IWSG is a community where writers can share their fears and insecurities about the writing life. To learn more, check out their website here.

So I'll admit I'm feeling a bit burnt out. I'm close to finishing my first draft, and while that should inspire me, all I can think about is all the work that's going to be needed to fix that bad baby. So you know what I'm going to do today? I'm going to show you some of my favorite pins that I've pinned to my secret Pinterest board for this story. Yes? Yes. (if you said no--go away!)

Please join me in pretending that the world I've crafted around these images is plot-hole free, is populated by fully-dimensional characters, and is polished to a blinding sheen. 


My main character's home.



There are a lot of fancy parties in this book.



Oh, and this otter. He's a cheeky little thing. 



Mustard yellow and messy hair.



There are hot air balloons at night, which I feel is pretty magical.



Muriel and Chessie, whom the story revolves around.



I really love this guy (let's not talk about what happens to him...).



Light As Clouds Meringue Drops, a treat from The Miner's Sweet Tooth.



And lastly, our setting, the glorious Lake District in the UK. 

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Now, on to the question for November: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

That would be the joy I get out of the fictional worlds in my head. Not the actual writing (ack, so hard!), but the time that I spend just thinking about my characters, and their problems, and solutions to those problems, and handsome men, and the villains, and the dialogue (that comes so easily & witty in my head, of course), and handsome men. Wait...did I mention that one already? ;) 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

An Excerpt from MONSTERVILLE: A LISSA BLACK PRODUCTION


Hey all! I've got a spooky treat for you today-- an excerpt of Sarah S. Reida's recently released debut novel, Monsterville: A Lissa Black Production. Read on for chills & thrills!

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As I got deeper into the woods, I realized it had become quiet. It was a weird sound. Or non-sound, I guess.

In the city, there was always noise, no matter where I went. If I stopped on the sidewalk, closed my eyes, and just listened, I’d hear taxi horns and voices and footsteps (plus someone would shove me and scream at me to get out of the way).

Standing in this silence made my skin crawl. It was weird to know I was the only person around. And even weirder to know these woods belonged to my family.

Continuing through the trees, I tilted my head back, taking in limbs so thick I could barely see through to the sky. Water burbled somewhere. A creek? That would be cool. Especially if there was a rock to lie out on, someplace quiet where I could work on my first real screenplay.

I fought past branches and brush toward the water, almost face-planting when I tripped on a root sticking up from the ground. Flip-flops had been a dumb idea.

Eventually, I saw the lip of a wide creek. I climbed down a steep, short hill to the water’s edge, slipping a couple of times on the way.

“Wow!” I said aloud when I got to the bottom, my voice echoing.

It was really pretty down there. The creek’s cur­rent was fast, racing over rocks and splashing against fallen limbs. About twenty feet farther down, there was a pile of tree branches and leaves in the middle of the creek. It looked like beavers had been building a dam. Water ran around it in deep currents, making a sucking sound.

I wished Casey and Taylor were here. We could hang out with lawn chairs and books, Casey sitting under a huge hat, slathered with SPF150 to protect her fair skin, and Taylor in baby oil to bring out her tan.

I picked up a rock and tried to skim it across the water’s surface. It sank.

Suddenly, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and even though it made no sense at all, I had this crazy idea that someone was watching me. I could imagine exactly how I’d look as a camera captured my stalker’s point of view—stepping hesitantly, slow. Vulnerable. Maybe seen in a flash frame, to show the stalker close . . . then closer . . . closer. . . .

I tried to shake off the feeling, but my heart drummed against my chest like my body was trying to warn my mind.

Even though I felt paranoid for doing it, I swiv­eled my head around, making sure everything was in order. You know, no one-eyed fisherman clutching an ax and giggling crazily behind a tree.

Nothing. The water kept burbling lazily in the creek and, far away, a bird called out. Through the gaps above in the trees, the clouds in the bright blue sky looked like cotton candy. In every way, it seemed like a beautiful day for a walk in the woods.

So how come the feeling was still there?

I decided to go back to the house. In movies, when people go against their gut instinct, they end up biting it. I started to climb up the bank, using a root stick­ing out of the ground as leverage. It was hard going because my hands were shaking and my legs felt weak.

Water splashed in the creek. I froze, one hand grasping a root and the other gripping a handful of gritty mud. What was that? A beaver? A deer? Or—

Someone—or something—moaned. The sound came from near the beaver dam.

I reached for another root, but it snapped off in my hand. With a lurch, I grabbed for another one. Scrambling, not even caring about the mud that was get­ting all over my clothes, I crawled to the top of the hill.

Stealing a look over my shoulder, I saw bubbles rip­pling the water, and a huge dark form moving below the surface.

Maybe it’s a turtle, I thought. But turtles don’t thrash around like that, and they aren’t six feet long.

All at once, the thing shot out of the water with a huge splash, like someone coming up after a dive. I screamed and fell backward, landing hard on my butt and rattling my teeth.

The creature had two arms and two legs like a per­son, but everything else was just . . . wrong. Fishlike. Water dripped from its scaly body, which shimmered in the sunlight. The creature lifted its green face, its flat nose quivering like it was smelling something.

It locked eyes with me. For what felt like forever, we were frozen, staring at each other. My heart ham­mered so loudly I was sure the creature could hear it.

What was this thing? It looked like the supernat­ural villain in a blockbuster film, but there was no mask, no zipper up the front of its body, no campy sound effects.

Meaning, it looked completely real. And this wasn’t a movie. So, based on logic . . .

It opened its mouth, displaying sharp, triangular black teeth and a dark purple tongue.“Don’t come any closer!” I croaked.

Run! It was the first rule of monster movies. Run. Don’t try to get a better look. But I was rooted to the spot. Monster bait.

The creature shook its head. It didn’t have ears— just dark holes where each ear should have been.

I glared at it, trying to hide how scared I was. “What do you want?”

The creature licked its rubbery lips. When it spoke, its voice was a loud rasp. “Brains.”

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Beware what lurks beneath your bed. . . . It could lead to a monstrous adventure.

Thirteen-year-old Lissa Black is miserable when her parents force her to move from New York City (the perfect home for an aspiring writer/director/actress) to Freeburg, Pennsylvania, nowhere capital of the world. There’s nothing to do there, except play her little sister Haylie’s favorite new game, Monsterville, and hang out with her new neighbor Adam.

But when a walk in the woods lands her face-to-face with a swamp monster hungry for brains and then a Sasquatch that moos, even Lissa can’t call her new home totally boring. With Adam’s help, she catches the culprit behind the drama: a shape-shifting goblin who’s fled from the monster world of Down Below.

And what do you do with a creature that can be literally anything? Make monster movies, of course! Lissa is convinced that Blue will be the secret to her big break.

But when Haylie goes missing on Halloween, Lissa, Adam, and the monster must venture Down Below to stage a rescue—and face the real Monsterville, which is anything but a game.

Monsterville is a fusion of The Boxtrolls, Jumanji, and Candyland, weaving together friendship, family, and monsters into a funny fantasy-horror brimming with heart from a great new middle grade voice.

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

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Sarah S. Reida is a writer, lawyer, and ugly animal advocate. Growing up in the Midwest (Illinois, to be precise), she read everything she could get her hands on, as well as watched many, many movies during her parents' "camping" trips involving electricity and s'mores in a microwave. A member of The Sweet Sixteens, Sarah's debut middle grade novel, "Monstervile: A Lissa Black Production," is her first novel. A graduate of Saint Louis University (B.A). and Case Western Reserve University School of Law (J.D.), Sarah makes a living helping veteran business owners compete for federal contracts. She and her husband Scott live in the Atlanta area with their dog and four cats. By the time this biography reaches print, they will probably have acquired another animal.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Author Stop: Imani Josey & The Blazing Star



1. The Blazing Star appears to have a strong sister theme. Do you have a sister? Or (like me) did you always wish for one?

So great of you to notice! I gravitate towards sisterhood in my writing as I’m one of three girls (no brothers, though I always wanted one). I’m in the middle (even though my little sister is significantly younger than my older sister and me, making her experience more like growing up as an only child). I had Portia and Alex (Portia is the protagonist of this story, and Alex is her genius twin) in my head for awhile before I started writing, but when I realized they were sisters, the words started to come. It was like, Oh, I get this relationship.

I also like exploring sibling relationships because in many YA stories, the protagonist is an orphan or any only child, or is much older than their siblings so they’re more like a substitute parent. I thought that was interesting, because so many people have siblings and outside of your parents, it’s the first relationship you’re navigating. No one knows you like your siblings. My older sister told me literally yesterday, “You’re the longest relationship I’ve ever had.”


2. What is your favorite weekend activity?

My favorite weekend activity is inactivity. My life can get hectic some (all of the) time, so when I get time to do nothing, I savor it.


3. Can you share some interesting things about Egypt (part of the TBS's setting) with us?

I find ancient Egypt fascinating! The Blazing Star is a semi-historical fantasy set in present day Chicago and ancient Waset (Thebes/Luxor). In the book, Portia has an encounter with a scarab beetle ornament in her history class (our inciting incident). Scarabs were sacred to the ancient Egyptians, represented in amulets and jewelry. The ancients were intrigued by the beetles as they seemed to emerge from the burrow from where they were born. The ancients called them kheprer and associated them with the sun/creator god Khepri. Portia wears her blue scarab throughout the book.


4. How does your writing process work? Do you stick to a certain formula, or does it vary from book to book?

The Blazing Star is my first book, so I had to discover my book-writing process. I’d written articles, short stories, plays, and novellas for my friends, but learning how to write a book was a different animal. When it comes to writing, I see the scenes first. The first scene I wrote in The Blazing Star is now Chapter 28-Swordplay. For awhile I was stringing scenes together (yep, pantser) and then after a lot of editing, I learned I had to start outlining. Even if the outline’s points change (AND THEY WILL), you need to have SOME idea of where you’re going. I also like to write in the morning (6 am-10am), and preferably away from home (and on a desktop).


5. Quick! Which is cuter: baby pandas or baby otters?

Baby otters! Have you seen the otter snacking video????


6. Please share a favorite line(s) from TBS.

Hahaha! I shouldn’t laugh but oh well, here are a few:

· “As expected, a dumb freshman had strayed and they batted her around like maniacal kittens with a ball of yarn.”

· “I didn’t know if she won the Academic Decathlon or the Miss America Pageant.”

· “You are like the sun.”

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Imani Josey is a writer from Chicago, Illinois. In her previous life, she was a cheerleader for the Chicago Bulls and won the titles of Miss Chicago and Miss Cook County for the Miss America Organization, as well as Miss Black Illinois USA. Her one-act play, Grace, was produced by Pegasus Players Theatre Chicago after winning the 19th Annual Young Playwrights Festival. In recent years, she has turned her sights to long-form fiction. She now spends the majority of her time working on backstory, teaching dance fitness classes, and cuddling with her American bulldog, Thor. The Blazing Star is her debut novel.





Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.

But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?

She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.

Great.

Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.

As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home.