Monday, May 30, 2016

So Excited to Share...

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...that I'm going to have another short story published in an anthology! My fairy tale adaptation, "Prina and the Pea" is going to be included in Circuits and Slippers, September 2016. This anthology will feature fairy tale retellings with a sci-fi twist. Awesome, right?!

I'm so grateful to be a part of it, and can't wait until I can share the cover with you all. Also, you all know what this means, right? Yuup. Cupcakes. That's how I celebrated the publication day for my other short story "The Mad Scientist's Daughter", and I don't intend to stop now.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Book Launch Party Round-Up #2

Every so often I'm going to post pics* of book launch parties that I gather up from my ramblings of the web. Books + parties = my two favorite things!

Talya Tate Boerner hosted her book launch party for The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee in her home, and it looked like a super fun gathering. Check out the post here for more pics!



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Kristi Valiant hit the red carpet for Pretty Minnie in Hollywood. There were lots of eager little faces there-- which is always great! Visit her Facebook page for more glamorous action.




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This book launch party for Unna Burch's cookbook is from last year. But wow, did it look like such a relaxing and organic affair. And many of the pics are a work of art all by themselves. To see the rest (and view an intriguing video about Unna's cookbook, My Garden Kitchen) go here.




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Evelyn Skye's highly anticipated debut novel, The Crown's Game, recently released (and is now a NYT's bestseller!) and all I can say is: PASTRIES that are SWANS? Yes, please. To see more, check out Evelyn's Instagram feed




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*All pictures were taken from public social media sites, with links to the original postings.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Grey Beast

The Grey Beast takes me through snow with no problem. I sit up high in it, able to sufficiently view the land. Granted, sometimes it's left me stranded *cough recently after work w/a dead battery cough*, but it always tries its hardest. It's endured surgery (radiator replacement), new legs (tires), an embarrassing roaring noise (new break pads just last weekend) and while it currently has a breathing issue (air conditioning going wonky), I will stick with my Grey Beast until it lies worn on its side, and I have to execute a mercy killing (dropping it off at the junk yard). 

So yeah. Did I just write an ode to my SUV? Yes, I did. I really love my vehicle (probably because of those two magical words: paid off) even though its not the fanciest thing on the block. It has dents, and a small patch of rust on one haunch. The most recent dent was from trying to ease into my in-laws driveway and squishing a trashcan between The Grey Beast's fender and curb. 

The dent before that one was obtained in the grocery store parking lot. It was a super windy day, so windy I can't recall ever being in wind that strong before. A few gusts actually had my footing off. Anyway, grocery store, strong wind. You guessed it, I'm sure. The Grey Beast was either assaulted by a vicious wolf (runaway cart) or a rogue knight (swinging car door). 

So may I present to you, The Grey Beast. Long may he roam the open road.







Oh, and in other news, I'm now on Instagram! Find me here.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Feeling Bad about Dreaming (Kinda)

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We've recently decided to move. But we have things we need to do to our house first, so if things go as planned (and you know what they say about plans), we might possibly be putting our house up for sale next summer. 

That's a year away, but of course we're stalking all the realtor sites, seeing what we could get in our price range. As for me, my favorite daydream is to slide into imagining one of these houses with our furniture in it. Looking at the kitchen counters and deciding where to put the microwave, canisters, mug rack. While doing dishes, I'll dream of the dishwasher I will one day have (I have told the hubs that this is an absolute must). I look at all our clutter and can't wait to get rid of it and start fresh. We'll literally be moving w/just our furniture and kitchen essentials. The rest is being sold. 

And I get so impatient for all this to happen, dreaming of this better house and then...I start feeling guilty. We live in a small ranch house now, w/3 bedrooms & 1 bath. Besides our living room, we have a small den off the kitchen. It's by no means a mansion, but I am thankful for it. Griffin has a fun bright bedroom, and this is home for him, where he loves to come back to after a day at his aunt's, or the baby-sitter's, or his mamaw's. 

I just don't want this really strong desire for better to mean I'm not grateful for what I have. To not enjoy this time, by always thinking of the future. But then I remind myself that I'm a dreamer. And that there's nothing wrong w/dreaming of better for me and my family. To want to have two bathrooms, so that my little boy isn't dancing around, waiting for the bathroom to be free. To have enough cabinet space to put away all our food, so it isn't hanging out in baskets on the microwave and in bowls on the bowl stand. 

And I'm always dreaming of better when it comes to my writing too. I write because it's my passion, but some days I have to dream about getting an agent or a book deal to get through the rough patches of drafting/revising. Because while I'll always write, let's be honest, it can be plain hard. Not fun or easy or flowing, but just grinding it out, while trying to capture the essence of what we see in our heads, on the paper. 

So I'm trying to find balance. To enjoy the now of where I am, but to keep dreaming and striving for a better future. Yesterday morning we went into our backyard, in our pajamas, and played with squirt guns. And it didn't matter if some of the wood on our back porch was rotting (hello to-do list), we had loads of fun anyway. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Guest Post by Misha Gerrick

Today, author Misha Gerrick is stopping by. Welcome, welcome!
The Research Behind Endless.

Thanks for having me over, Leandra!

I have to admit, when Leandra asked me about researching for my book, my heart sank a little. See, for the most part my answer would be rather boring.

I’m not really a believer in research, unless the genre I’m writing in requires it. (E.G. I know a LOT about Texas history because I’m working on a historical romance set in Texas.) But although one character is a doctor and another is a cop in Endless, the book is neither a hospital story nor a police procedural.

Because of this, though, I had to do a lot of fact checking. Things like rehabilitation for someone who had been on a breathing apparatus. (Which incidentally made a huge impact on the direction the story took. For the better too, which was a nice bonus.)

Something else I had to check and re-check a lot were the historical aspects to the story. Aleria remembers a lot of stuff from the past, so I had to put in a lot of effort to figure out the color of a Regency Era British Cavalry Officer’s uniform. And the color of its buttons. Or the likelihood of a girl being out alone in Renaissance Venice. Or the kind of street lights in use during the turn of the century in Paris.

Probably the weirdest thing I had to check was Russian naming tradition so that I could create Nick’s name. It’s also probably the thing that took me the longest, because it didn’t feel right to just pick an existing surname. So I had to go research the origins of a LOT of Russian noble family names so that I could figure out the thinking behind them.

And for all of those hours, it turned out the answer was actually really simple.

Which just goes to show that most of my effort went into things that people probably won’t even notice. But that’s the way I like research. In the background. There only to make the rest of the story run smoothly.

Do you do research before you start? How do you approach your research? What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to research?


About the Author

Misha Gerrick lives near Cape Town, South Africa, and can usually be found staring at her surroundings while figuring out her next book.

If you’d like to see what Misha’s up to at the moment, you can find her on these social networks:


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First, do no harm.” Blake Ryan swore that oath to become a doctor. Ironic, given that he spent most of his thousand year life sucking souls out of other immortals. 

Things are different now. Using regular shots of morphine to keep his inner monster at bay, Ryan has led a quiet life since the Second World War. His thrills now come from saving lives, not taking them. 

Until a plane crash brings Aleria into his hospital. Her life is vibrant. Crack to predators like him. She’s the exact sort of person they would hunt, and thanks to a severe case of amnesia, she’s all but defenseless. 

Leaving Aleria vulnerable isn’t an option, but protecting her means unleashing his own inner monster. Which is a problem, because his inner monster wants her dead most of all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Getting Crafty with Elizabeth Seckman!

Today, author Elizabeth Seckman has a fun guest post for us. And make sure to check out her latest release, which has a beaYOOtiful cover!

Hi Leandra! Thanks for having me over. You always have such cool crafts on your blog, I thought I'd share one of my favorite craft cheats. 

Longer, warmer, sunnier days...it's almost summer time! Along with summer, comes more time spent outdoors appreciating gardens and fields of flowers. But suppose you want to bring some of those flowers indoors? Wouldn't it be nice to have a fresh way to display the new blooms?

Here are three super easy, super cheap ways to spruce up some vases that can be bought at the local dollar store, or wash out empty glass food jars.

I started with these three glasses. Each one cost a dollar at the dollar store. I had had spaghetti the night before and like a goof, threw away the glass jar. Fortunately for me, the dollar store had a canning jar (middle, lidded jar).

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Now remember, I'm not at all artistic. My craft level didn't progress too far past elementary school, so if I can do these, you can too. 


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The first smaller, skinny vase, I wrapped in blue painter's tape, then took it outside and spray painted the exposed area. Note: turn the vase upside down when painting. I didn't and the inside got misted with paint. Oh well, live and learn. 


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The second jar, the canning jar, I cut out a picture of violets out of a magazine and glued it to the glass. I used plain old white school glue. It dries clear, but is not water resistant, so don't soak this jar in water. Clean by dusting or wiping with a damp cloth. 

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The third vase, the bigger, fatter one, I got a roll of pretty contact paper- also from the dollar store- and cut out one of the designs. Then I peeled the sticky off the back of the design and adhered to my vase. Also not water resistant and should not be immersed in water to clean. 

Three ways to create- all cheap and easy!

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He came looking for a ghost. Instead, he found a girl. 

Tucker Boone is a war-hardened Marine on a ghost hunt. Fresh out of the corps, Tucker learns he has a missing half-sister, Maddy. The only clue to her whereabouts is a cryptic note…I’ve gone Mad, Mags. Tucker agrees to search for her and heads to Ocracoke, North Carolina where a ghost named Mad Mags is said to haunt the ancient graveyards dotting the island. 

The note doesn’t bring him any closer to finding Maddy, but it does offer him a diversion to the doldrums of civilian life— his new island neighbor, Josie McCoy. Tucker is drawn to her quiet spirit. There’s something special about Josie…a connection he can’t quite explain. 

By summer’s end, he’s mixed up in deception, murder, and the love of a lifetime. Logic tells him to head home and forget the truths he found on the island. But can he walk away? Josie offers him more than love; she offers him hope. When the clues pile up and it looks like she can never be the girl for him, he has to make a choice- play it safe and break her heart, or risk everything for a chance at being swept away.



Elizabeth spends her time daydreaming (she calls this writing) and excavating the day's necessary clothes from piles of dirty laundry. She lives in a small town on the Ohio River in West Virginia, but dreams often of owning a beach house...or at least having a magically clean house. But with four boys, well five if you count their father, this may well just be fantasy.

Oh, and she goes to football games...lots and lots of football games.

So, living in a house of men...doing man things all the time....What girl wouldn't want to escape to a fantasy world of romance, true love, and clean houses?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

MOVIE MATCH-UP: Jessica Lawson’s Waiting for Augusta (Plus a GIVEAWAY!)

Today the lovely Jessica Lawson is here, in celebration of her newest release. She's also generously giving away a signed hardcover to one lucky person!



Thank you so much for having me, Leandra!
Writers draw inspiration from everywhere, both consciously and subconsciously. I’m convinced that my writing has somehow been influenced by every book I’ve read, every conversation I’ve been part of (or have eavesdropped on), every story I’ve heard, and every movie I’ve seen. As a child, movies were magical. I was first and foremost a reader, but boy do I have fond memories of curling up on the floor to watch the Sunday night movie specials on The Magical World of Disney (also known as The Wonderful World of Disney).
Those stories and visuals took me on journeys and, in some cases, changed me. In my newest book (now in stores!), the main character Ben Putter is an artist, who lives mostly in his own world, but circumstances force him to take a huge mental and physical journey that changes him. His traveling companion, the mysterious Noni, experiences a change as well.
And so, without further ado and without giving away too many spoilers, here are four elements and scenes from my newest middle grade book, Waiting for Augusta, that have parallels to some of my favorite movies:

  1. ELEMENT: Train-hopping
Augusta Scene: Something precious is thrown onto a moving coal train, prompting Ben and Noni to take off running and trying to find a way to retrieve it.
Movie Parallel: The Journey of Natty Gann- boy did I love this beautiful movie as a kid and I still do. It’s the story of a girl who sets off to reunite with her father under impossible conditions. John Cusack plays a young man who rides the rails and Natty has to run hard to get on a train in order to join him. Natty is one of my favorite movie characters ever.

      

  1. ELEMENT: Tying up an in-the-way relative
Augusta Scene: I won’t specify the relative, but somebody trying to stop Ben and Noni from getting to Augusta National Golf Club gets tied up by Ben and Noni. Stealth and knots are involved.
Movie Parallel: Goonies- Another favorite! In order to get away from the muscle-obsessed older brother character, the neighborhood boys tie him to a chair with his own exercise equipment. Classic



  1. ELEMENT: Bumming a ride
Augusta Scene: At one point in the book, Ben and Noni stage an elaborate ruse meant to trick golf players into giving them a ride into the back entrance Augusta National Golf Club.
Movie Parallel: Home Alone: In a desperate attempt to get home to her left-behind son, Mom bums a ride with a polka band, led by John Candy. Fantastic scene, love this movie.



  1. ELEMENT: Interactions with disgruntled chickens
Augusta Scene: There are TWO interactions with angry chickens in my book—one involving Mrs. Clucksy, who guards the night’s $$ take at a local establishment, and the other involving a stolen truck.
Movie Parallel: Chicken Run- From the team who came up with the brilliant Wallace & Gromit shows, this is a stop-motion, claymation tale of chickens who try to break free from confinement to avoid being made into pies.

  

When you think about your manuscripts, do you see any parallels to favorite movies? If so, share!
Just leave a comment to be entered to win a signed hardcover of Waiting for Augusta!

SUMMARY:

Eleven-year-old Benjamin Putter has a lump in his throat, and he’s certain it’s a golf ball. He knows it sounds crazy, but everything’s been topsy-turvy since his father died last month. And he doesn’t know how to fix it.

Then, one day, something starts tugging at Ben, telling him to hurry to Augusta, Georgia—home of the most famous golf course in the world.

Ben might be going a little crazy, but escaping Hilltop, Alabama, sounds like a darn good idea. (And just maybe it will make that lump go away.) As he makes his way to Augusta, Ben partners up with a mysterious runaway named Noni, and they embark on a journey full of strange and wonderful surprises—and possibly magic—at every turn.

 
Jessica Lawson is the author of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher, a book that Publishers Weekly called “a delightfully clever debut” in a starred review, and Nooks & Crannies, a Junior Library Guild Selection and recipient of three starred reviews. Her latest middle grade novel is Waiting for Augusta.
LINKS:
Follow Jessica on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JS_Lawson

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Book Launch Party Round-Up #1

Every so often I'm going to post pics* of book launch parties that I gather up from my ramblings of the web. Books + parties = my two favorite things! 

Sarah Ahiers' launch party was at Hamline University. Besides lots of ppl who came to help her celebrate, there were chocolate coins and a mask decorating table, both of which play a part in Assassin's Heart. As for food, aside from bread and cheese (two main staples featured in the book) there was also a big ol' sheet cake. The kind that makes me just want to mash my face in it and go to town. 


(Visit Addendum Books' blog post about the event to view lots more pics.)

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Lindsay Eagar had a lovely, elegant book launch party for her book, Hour of the Bees. I am always down w/food pics. Plus, white lights!! And how adorable is this beehive drink dispenser? The awesome themey-ness of it makes me downright giddy. 


(To see more pics from Lindsay's book launch night, visit her Twitter--linked within her name above. Just click on photos and videos, and scroll to March 9th)

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Janet B. Taylor had her book launch at Barnes & Noble. Into the Dim is set in Scotland (present and past...), and I'm LOVING the nod to that country and setting here. Heather, plaid, rough burlap-- not to mention, she had a freaking cauldron for drinks!! So medieval. ;)



(To see more of Janet's book launch party, visit her Facebook page here.)

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I hope you all enjoyed this first segment of the BLP Round-Up! I'll be sure to keep an eye out for more to share soonish. 

*All pictures were taken from public social media sites, with links to the original postings. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Release Day Celebration: Argos by Phillip W. Simpson with Giveaway

 
ArgosRDC
 
Happy Release Day to
Argos by Phillip W. Simpson
Join us in celebrating this new release from Month9Books!
Enter the giveaway found at the end of the post.
Happy Book Birthday, Phillip!
 
Argos Cover
 
Loyalty has no limits. 
Raised from a pup by Greek hero, Odysseus, Argos has come to learn the true meaning of love and loyalty. But when Odysseus leaves for the Trojan War, little does Argos know it will be 20 years before he sees his master again. With Odysseus gone his wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus, are easy prey for neighboring kings and the Gods themselves. 
But Argos was tasked to keep them safe until Odysseus returns and that is a promise he is determined to keep – whatever the cost. Told through his eyes, Argos recounts the story of his life – his pain, his joy, his triumphs and failures; his endurance in the face of hardships almost too great to believe. Above all else, Argos strives to do what is right – and to remain loyal to his King when all others have given up hope. To live long enough to see his beloved master one more time. 
This epic myth of love and loyalty proves that a dog really is man's best friend.
add to goodreads

Argos by Phillip W. Simpson Release Date: May 10, 2016 Publisher: Month9Books
   
About-the-Author2
Phillip W Simpson
 
Phillip W. Simpson has written over 50 children’s books for both middle grade and young adult readers. He has a background in Ancient History and Archaeology, and has partially completed his doctorate in Archaeology. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand, with his wife Rose, their son, Jack and their two border terriers, Whiskey and Raffles. When not writing, he works as an elementary school teacher.
 
giveaway2
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
 
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