Friday, September 30, 2011

Award time! (and a Bit of Randomness)

Wow! I have been so fortunate to receive the Versatile Blogger award from three....that's right THREE blogs recently.

So, I guess it is my turn to share the blog with some others AND share a few things about myself *gulp*

First, a big THANK YOU to Karlene Petitt, Angela Brown, and Lissa Clouser  

Next, the rules:
  1. 1.  Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself.
  3. Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it!
On to the randomness - 7 things about me:

  1. As some of you know, I just finished my YA thriller, TRANSCEND. what you may not know...I discovered I LOVE writing YA psychological thrillers. HARD. So, my next two projects entitled BEAUTIFUL MALICE and COLLIDE are both YA psychological thrillers. And man, I am excited.
  2. Um, yea...I am "supposed" to get these projects finished by Dec 31. Hmmmmmmmm
  3. My writerly BFF Elana Johnson is coming to town in a few weeks. I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!! Elana and I are like long lost sisters when we get together! ((Now, if I could only get fellow BFFs Michelle McLean and Ali Cross to also visit...that would be EPIC x 3.))
  4. I have more than 20 author events over the next six months - everything from book chats, to webinars, to statewide presentations. I am simultaneously THRILLED and EXHAUSTED thinking about it.
  5. My decision to blog 4 days a week - perfect. Would three or 2 days be better....probably. I may need to adjust!
  6. My birthday is exactly one week from today. One Week. And yes, I have absolutely no plans. Not. One. I am not certain if that is a good thing or not.
  7. Remember how I said that last week was crazy insane....I LIED. THIS WEEK was BEYOND insane. Really, something has to slow down somewhere - and soon!
Now, to the blogs I am giving the award to. These are not all new to me, but they are ones that I wanted to share with all of you! Here is my list:
Um, yea....I am sharing 7. I figure that's good yes?? Remember how I said I was REALLY FRIED??? Well, here you = fried!

What are some of your favorite blogs I should check out???

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Big Shout Out for WHITE ASSASSIN - with a GIVEAWAY!

Time for another fabulous Bookanista Thursday! Today I get to talk about an amazing MG book - WHITE ASSASSIN. But first, A special CONGRATS goes out to Bookanistas Bethany Wiggins for her debut SHIFTING, and Bookanista Michelle Hodkin for THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER - both books launched today and I am thrilled for them.

And here are the other great Bookanista reviews:

Elana Johnson interviews Elle Strauss, author of Clockwise
Lisa and Laura Roecker discusses S R Johannes' e-book experiment
Shelli Johannes-Wells falls for Fracture
Shannon Messenger loves Lola & the Boy Next Door – with giveaway
Carolina Valdez Miller adores Ashfall – with giveaway
Beth Revis delights in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – with giveaway
Jessi Kirby marvels at The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Shana Silver steps up to Audition
Kimberley Griffiths Little
Corrine Jackson is crazy about Cracked
Stasia Ward Kehoe swoons for Swan and To Dance

On to my Bookanista Shout out for Hilary Wagner's WHITE ASSASSIN (plus a giveaway)

Release Date: October 2, 2011

Basic Blurb: (from Amazon)
Book II of the Nightshade Chronicles begins three years after Juniper and his rebel band liberated the Catacombs from Billycan's vicious control and established the democratic Nightshade City. A sense of peace has settled over Nightshade, but it is a false one. Billycan, the White Assassin, has been found deep in the southern swamps, where he now rules a horde of savage swamp rats eager to overrun Nightshade City. With the help of an ancient colony of bats and an uneasy alliance with the swamp snakes, Juniper and his council set out to thwart Billycan's plans. When a shocking secret is revealed everything changes. The fate of Nightshade City and the life of Juniper's only son depend on Juniper's decision: should he help his mortal enemy? The past resurfaces with devastating impact in this sequel toNightshade City, a dark tale of intrigue, deception, and betrayal.
Why I liked it: 

I was really excited to read Book 2 of this series. I thoroughly enjoyed Nightshade City, likening it to Watership Down and the Warriors series. WHITE ASSASSIN was NOT a disappointment. Ms Wagner did a great job taking us on another adventure and deepening our relationship with the characters. The story is richer, deeper, and darker than the first - and I LOVED it! The characters are so well rounded and complete, you will forget that they are rats. And yet, she uses the behavioral characteristics of the animals to bring her characters to life!

WELL DONE HILARY! This is one sequel you do NOT want to miss.
 But, don't take my word for it yourself. OR maybe you will win a copy of the ARC here. That's right, I am giving away the ARC to one lucky commenter.

Entering is easy:

  1. Follow my blog in some way
  2. Leave a comment.
That's it! Contest ends Sat, 10/1.

Happy reading! What is your most anticipated read for the end of this year?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why Write

So, my friend and I were talking the other night. She is not a writer and wondered about the things I liked and didn't like about the business. Specifically, she asked:
What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being a writer?  What is your greatest reward from writing?
Great question, right? Perfect, actually, for my current place on this journey.

For me, the hardest part of being a writer is maintaining the confidence necessary to continue writing, in spite of everything else.

Writing, for me, is a tough task master. She requires 100% of me if I'm going to pour onto the paper the story that was meant to be told. She requires the stamina to continually rewrite and polish, all to get at the heart of the story. Writing requires bravery if I'm going to tackle the hard emotions with authenticity, humility to keep learning the craft, and perseverance to see a project through to the end.

And all of those qualities - stamina, bravery, humility, perseverance - require an aspect of confidence. But not just run-of-mill confidence, no. I'm talking about the confidence needed to climb back up the hill no matter how many times you fall down. The confidence to remember why you do this to begin with.
I've recently fallen down that hill. And this time (yeah, this time...I tend to fall down this hill a lot), getting up was one of the hardest things I've had to do so far in my writing career. I truly did not think I would. I considered walking away from writing. Permanently. Considered myself nuts for even trying to break into some aspects of this business.

Enter my writerly friends...they helped me remember the things I love about writing. Crafting the story. Getting lost inside of some character's head a while. The freedom of creating that initial draft. The pure love of molding words on a page.

Yeah, I can't walk away. I'm hooked.

And maybe that's the best part of writing - that no matter what dark place I fall into as I try to reach my goals (and yes, writer's at ALL PLACES in the journey STILL fall into those dark places), I know, deep down inside, that I can't walk away. Not for long.
My muse will not silence.
I guess until it does, until I feel I have nothing left to say, I am here - learning to build my confidence and continue forging up the hill, one step at a time.

What about you guys? Why do you write?

Monday, September 26, 2011


Yes, I have a four-step process to my writing life. As the title indicates, it's:

  1. Chat - Yea, I have to brainstorm with my writerly buds often. IDK, something about talking with them ALWAYS helps me clarify my goals.
  2. Write - Yep, you can't claim to be a writer if you don't write. I managed to finish one book this year - a far cry from the three I promised myself. So, after chatting with my closet bud, I committed myself to writing 2 - yes TWO - more novels this year. They won't get revised until 2012, but I am really excited to get these drafted.
  3. Revise - I finished revising TRANSCEND last week. Oh sure, nothing is ever really finished. But for now, this one is out in the world. Let's hope someone likes it. I have another novel I will be rereading before looking at small presses for it. 
  4. Repeat - This is the part I struggled with over the last year. Yes, I managed to chat. But write - not as much as I would have liked. 
That all ends this week! I am outlining a couple of projects I am really excited about. This week, I start drafting. So, if I am not around the interwebz much - that is why. I am BUSY BUSY BUSY.

What are you trying to finish before the end of 2011???

Oh! And a BIG CONGRATS to the winner of the MONARCH giveaway -

Woo hoo! My next giveaway will be on Thursday. Love giving things away.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Five....Is it the Weekend Already???

I can't believe it is Friday already! I mean really....where on earth did the week go??? I distinctly remember prepping for this week, making certain I had everything ready to go....
and now...
poof! The week is over.

But enough about my time-space continuum problems, let's get to my Friday musings:

  1. Have you seen the new campaign challenge? Holy Smokes! It is a tough one. And yes, I will likely participate if I can figure out what I'm writing (not to mention what the words we need to use mean). Go check out the people who've participated already - their entries are pretty impressive.
  2. I received 3 awards in the last week. Yep, three. Sometime next week I will try to get these awards out to some new bloggers. I have found some really fabulous new blogs out in the interwebz, so I am actually looking forward to sharing.
  3. I am really lousy and "resting" a bit in between projects. No really, I am. The whole time I'm trying to let my creative juices chill a bit, I'm thinking "I should be working on something." "What's next?" My poor CPs, I don't know how they put up with me? Do you ever have that problem?
  4. You already know my week was a tad insane - they all are. But check out this "analysis" of my work week - I conducted 5 presentations, assessed 3 children, answered 585 emails, consulted on 15 cases, attended well over 20 meetings, wrote three reports, talked with a minimum of 10 wonder I am exhausted!
  5. TRANSCEND is in the world! That's right. I have received some fabulous feedback from my CPs and Betas (they are AMAZING, BTW - all of them), I've done some tweeking (not as much as I feared, thank goodness) and my query is now out in the world. Whew....this has been a very long time coming, I'll tell you. And I am actually EXCITED!!! It feels fun to get back in the game. Curious what the project is about? Here is a blurb:
All seventeen-year-old composer Ien Montgomery desires is to find his muse – someone to ease the burdens of his family’s rigid expectations and the recent death of his older brother. When he meets a beautiful violin-prodigy, Kiera McDougal, his music takes on new life. With her, he imagines a future outside of his parents” control. That is, until a horrible accident tears them apart.
Sent to die in a sanatorium, Ien’s obsession for Kiera grows unbearable. Tortured by thoughts he can’t escape and the truth of his monstrous disfigurement, he flees, desperate to exact revenge on the people that ruined his life – his parents. But, vengeance is empty. Betrayed by those closest to him, Ien discovers that the price for his happiness may just be his sanity.      
Well, that's it for me. What has your week been like???

OH! And today is the LAST DAY to enter for a copy of Michelle Davidson Argyle's Thriller, MONARCH. Click here for the deets. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Royalty, Talk Shows, And Scandal - Yes, I'm Talking About FALLING FOR HAMLET!

HAPPY THURSDAY everyone! I can not believe the month is almost over. How is it possible that Halloween and the holidays are coming up so quickly????

Now, before I get to my Bookanista shout out, check out what the other Bookanista's have on tap:

Elana Johnson shivers over Shifting
Shelli Johannes-Wells contemplates The Future of Us
Shana Silver finds Fateful Fabulous
Sarah Frances Hardy leads you into the Circle of Secrets
Corrine Jackson delights in a Hex Hall & Demonglass double feature
Stasia Ward Kehoe shares her passion for Possess

On to my Bookanista Shout out for FALLING FOR HAMLET by Michelle Ray

Release Date: July 5, 2011

Basic Blurb: (from Amazon)
Meet Ophelia: a blonde, beautiful high-school senior and long-time girlfriend of Prince Hamlet of Denmark. Her life is dominated not only by her boyfriend's fame and his overbearing family, but also by the paparazzi who hound them wherever they go. As the devastatingly handsome Hamlet spirals into madness after the mysterious death of his father, the King, Ophelia rides out his crazy roller coaster life, and lives to tell about it. In live television interviews, of course.
Passion, romance, drama, humor, and tragedy intertwine in this compulsively readable debut novel, told by a strong-willed, modern-day Ophelia.
Why I liked it: 

I really can't say enough positive things about this book! After the paranormal, formulaic stories I found myself reading of late, this was a fabulous diversion from the ordinary.

See, I love the Hamlet story just as it is. But add a modern, reality TV/paparazzi spin and a strong Ophelia and wow, I was HOOKED! Michelle Ray does a great job of weaving the story together in a way that is simultaneously familiar and new. The story would make even the most anti-Shakespearean reader interested in the storyline.

Well done!

For more about the Bookanistas, our own upcoming books, and our reviews, check out our website - The Bookanistas. You can also find us on Facebook, and find our crazy celebration vlogs on YouTube.

Yea, we're crazy like that!

What are you reading these days?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Blog Chain - Oh, those SLOW starts!

It's Blog Chain time again, and this time the topic comes from Shaun who asked the following:

What are three books you would tell people that they need to keep reading even if they aren't immediately sucked in by the first page?

I LOVE this question!!! Though, I'm not certain Shaun is going to like any of my answers.

Let me start by saying this - I am a very patient reader. No really, I am. I will usually give a book at least 50 pages before I abandon it.

At least that was true BEFORE I started writing. I will admit, the more I write, the less patient I have become. I'm not certain why, is what it is.

Although I have lost some of my patience, these three books are ones I waded through - and they were MORE than worth it in the end:

  1. Going Bovine by Libba Bray: I loved this book. Hard. I know, I know, there were a lot of mixed feelings reviews about this one. Many people found the beginning a little crazy and the main character unlikeable. But, here's the thing - he IS unlikeable! That is the point. By the end of the story, he changes. Dramatically. And along the way there is some fabulous humor, Big-Bang styled jokes and a just plain poignant fun. It is both silly and profound. I am so glad I stuck it out and got to the point where it settled into the book it really is. 
  2. Exile by Richard North Patterson: I am a BIG thriller lover. And this book is a masterful creation! It is a bit slow in the beginning...and even a bit confusing. In fact, most of Richard Patterson's books are - but once you get into it, it is masterful. It makes you think, reconsider previously held points of view of various topics, etc. I LOVED this book - and have since read it again - and yea, I liked even more the second time, catching nuances and subtleties to the plot I missed the first time.
  3. Helen of Troy by Margaret George. This was by far the HARDEST book for me to get into. I love the Helen of Troy story, so when I checked out the cover blurb and this was a helen story told from her POV, I was hooked. Until I opened it. First, it is LONG - 656 pages (small font and no chapter breaks, btw). It took more than 50 pages for me to want to stay took almost 200. Why I kept at it, I don't know. But I have never regretted that decision. I wound up reading the remaining 400+ pages in a couple of days, thoroughly enthralled in the story. This book is certainly NOT for the faint of heart - but it is a masterful retelling and I strongly recommend it.

So, there you go - my books that DID NOT hook me, but were more than worth it once I got through the beginning. What about you? What books would you add to this list?

To see more from us, check out Jon's post from yesterday, or hop on over and read Abby's tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Celebrating Michelle Davidson Argyle's Newest Release - MONARCH (and a giveaway)

I'm so excited to share in the buzz for Michelle Davidson Argyle's most recent release, MONARCH. I've had fun watching Michelle's career develop over the past year or so - first with the release of her self-published novella, Cinders, and now as she joins forces with a great small press to release her adult thriller, Monarch.

Michelle has always helped the writing community with her frank discussions of the good , the bad, and the ugly in this business. She candidly shared her reasons for every publishing decision she has made, and I for one have really benefited from watching her journey. So, when she asked if I'd like to read and review Monarch, of course I said yes. She knows I do only positive reviews here, so for me to post at all means I liked it...A LOT

But before we get to that, here are some of the basics:

Release Date: September 15, 2011

Basic Blurb: (from Amazon):
Nick's life as a CIA spy should be fulfilling, but it has only given him unhappiness, a wife who committed suicide, and two daughters who resent everything he has become. Now, stuck in the Amazon on the last mission of his career, he must track down Matheus Ferreira, a drug lord and terrorist the United States has tried to bring down for years. If he succeeds, he'll have the chance to start his life over again. Just when he's on the brink of catching Ferreira, he's framed for a murder that turns his world upside down. His only chance of survival lies in West Virginia, where Lilian Love, a woman from his past, owns the secluded Monarch Inn. He's safe, but not for long.
Need more of a reason to check it out? Take a look at the trailer:

Why I liked it: 
First, let me start by saying that I LOVE adult fiction and thrillers...and I really love Adult Thrillers! Living in YA land for the last few years, reading and writing a ton of YA lit, I have missed cozying up with a great spy novel or murder mystery and losing myself in it for a few hours.


This story has a little bit of everything -  secrets, lies, betrayal, assassins, terrorists....
Yep, it's got it all! From the first page through it's last you will remained gripped to the story, unwilling to close the book. Michelle's lyrical writing style and strong character development adds to the well-developed plot.

I really enjoyed the mc - his motivations throughout the book are something I could identify with. All in all, this was a great read!

Don't take my word for it! I'm giving away one copy of MONARCH (digital or print) to a lucky commenter. Just follow this blog and leave a comment. Contest closes on Friday, Sept 23rd. Trust me, if you like thrillers at all, you will LOVE this one.


Don't forget to enter!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Five!

Happy Friday! First, a quick apology - I have been crazy, insane busy of late. As a result, I've neglected visiting and commenting on blogs, neglected responding to comments and emails, neglected...well...everything! I am attempting to get caught up this weekend, but you know how that goes. In the meantime, THANK YOU to my new followers who comment and visit and make me happy every day! THANK YOU to those who recently gave me a few blog awards - I promise I will pass them along soon. THANK YOU to my fellow campaigners who have taken the time to try to get to know me. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

Okay - on to my musings for this Friday.

  1. I like this whole campaign thing! So much so, that I really wanted to make sure YOU knew of some of the new people I've met. Below are five writers (randomly picked) from my YA group. Go check them and their blogs out. Some are just getting started. Others are well established bloggers and authors. I'll feature some of my group members weekly so everyone can get to know them. I mean, isn't that what this is all about??
  2. I am about 1/2 way through the last read through of TRANSCEND before I send it off to betas. I am very happy with this read through - other than a few scenes that need adjusting, it really isn't as bad as I'd feared! Let's see if I still feel that way AFTER my CPs and Betas shred it.
  3. I entered my first pitch contest in a very LONG time, and let me tell you....I am rusty! Luckily I have friends that help me out and allow me to terrorize them with my endless questions. Wanna see my pitch??? Hmm.....I think I'll wait a bit to share. 
  4. I am beyond happy that it is Friday! I don't know about you, but the intensity of this school year is already killing me.
  5. I have NO IDEA what to write next! None. And that is stressing me out a bit. See, my CPs and I share progress updates about our current projects nightly. And well, in about a week I am going to have NOTHING to report. Mind you, they are cranking out 4K a day....and me...yea, I'll be lucky to have a viable idea to even stew on. AHHH!!!!
How was your week?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Big Bookanista Booyah for Shifting

I can't believe it's already time for another Bookanista Thursday! Whew, time is just whipping by!

I'm super excited to get to my review, but first let's see what the others are doing today:

Elana Johnson is in a tizzy over TEXAS GOTHIC
Lisa and Laura Roecker celebrates SOMETHING LIKE HOPE
Shannon Messenger takes a shine to SO SILVER BRIGHT + a giveaway
Carolina Valdez Miller goes gaga for GLOW and SHIFTING + a giveaway
Beth Revis shouts about THE NAME OF THE STAR
Scott Tracey is on board for STARSHIP ACADEMY
Sarah Frances Hardy adores BIRDIE'S BIG GIRL DRESS
Rosemary Clement-Moore is distracted by ALIEN INVASION AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES
Stasia Ward Kehoe takes a fancy to FRACTURE

On to my Bookanista Shout out for Bookanista Bethany Wigginns and her debut - SHIFTING

Release Date: September 27, 2011

Basic Blurb: (from Amazon)
After bouncing from foster home to foster home, Magdalene Mae is transferred to what should be her last foster home in the tiny town of Silver City, New Mexico. Now that she's eighteen and has only a year left in high school, she's determined to stay out of trouble and just be normal. Agreeing to go to the prom with Bridger O'Connell is a good first step. Fitting in has never been her strong suit, but it's not for the reasons most people would expect-it all has to do with the deep secret that she is a shape shifter. But even in her new home danger lurks, waiting in the shadows to pounce. They are the Skinwalkers of Navajo legend, who have traded their souls to become the animal whose skin they wear-and Maggie is their next target.

Full of romance, mysticism, and intrigue, this dark take on Navajo legend will haunt readers to the final page.
Cover Love:

This cover is mesmerizing! I just love it!!!

Why I liked the book: 
I have to say, I LOVED this book. I read it in a single sitting, devouring every single word. The pacing, the storyline, the writing - all so well done. I fell in love with the main character on page one, and loved her more by the end.

There were several times when I took a breath after reading an intense scene, only to email Bethany and tell her how much her book had touched me.

The story was original and fresh. Some of the themes in the book were painful and poignant. This is a rich story filled with "voice". A definite MUST READ. I can't wait to read more from Bethany!

What are you reading these days?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Looking For The Next Idea

Hi everyone!

So, as I told you guys on Monday, I am winding down my current project and getting ready to throw it out into the world. I've played in the query pond before - felt the sting of rejection, wallowed in the funk that often accompanies this aspect of the business. In fact, I think I nearly killed with writerly BFFs with my angst during that time.

But, as Nichole Giles so eloquently put it earlier this week, I am not ready to jump onto the self-publishing bandwagon just yet....
which means I have to be willing to jump into the query pond!

So, as I prepare to take that leap of faith, I decided that the only way to NOT drive my friends nuts, I need to work on something - a shiny new project.

One problem.

I got nothing.

My solution?

It's time to go back to my writing practices and see what "comes up". That is, after all, how TRANSCEND found me.
Using some things from Julia Cameron's THE ARTIST'S WAY, as well things from Natalie Goldberg's WILD MIND, I am reaching into my inner well of creativity (yea, I usually feel like that well is dry - but I'll try none the less), following Natalie's rules for writing exercises and going for it!

What are the rules, you ask? Here you go:
·         Keep your hand moving – no stopping or stalling, just keep it moving
·         Lose control – no editing allowed
·         Be specific – get below the initial layer to something deeper
·         Don’t think – no second thoughts for this practice…no trying, just doing
·         Don’t worry about grammar – that is for the editing process, not the initial practice
·         Free yourself to write the worst stuff around – no putting pressure or expectations on yourself
·         (I love this one) – Go for the jugular – do not shy away from the scary stuff…embrace the freedom of it all.

Pretty brilliant, yes! Whose ready to join me and get some daily writing in? You never know what story is just waiting for you to pay attention to it. 

**Taken from Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life, 1990.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Okay - yes, I AM being a little overly dramatic. But really this is a great day, after a monumental weekend.

First, my fabulous family gave me the gift of time to write and write and write.

Sunday I went to a book signing for my bud, Gretchen. On the drive I was struck with the answer to a book related problem. After quickly writing it down on a Starbuck's napkin, I went to the signing.

Gretchen was FAB!. First off, a bunch of other fab authors show'd up in costume:

Then, she read my all time favorite scene from the book:

And then, she signed my copies. Yes, I got an extra one for my next giveaway hop in October.

After the signing I touched base with the family and again slipped into my cave. It took me 5 hours, 30 pages and 4K new words, but...


Yep, a major round of revisions is done. Again. (hopefully this is the last major round). Next up - a final read through and then it's off to my betas.

Yep, I'm pretty excited.

What did you guys do this weekend???

Friday, September 9, 2011

Oh, The Places We Go...

Guess what one of my favorite aspects of writing a story is - creating the journey a character - and a reader - will take. These journeys give more than a great plot and an emotional pull to their readers - they give the gift if perspective.

As an author, I like to explore the many different aspects of humanity - the good and the evil, the light and the dark, reality and illusion. I do this through my characters and the roads they travel, both physical and psychological.

In one of my earlier novels, my character travels into a parallel world, one in which her every thought manifests itself in reality. Through the plot, the character learns about her own inner power and how to control her base emotions. In another story, my characters' journeys force them to examine sacrifice and the true cost of redemption. And in my current novel, the mc must travel through the fantasy of his sanity in order to understand the realities of his madness.

Yea, I'm a sucker for the psychological journeys we make as we grow into adulthood.

But how do I develop that arc? How do I enable that character to grow?

For me, it's all about the personal crises my characters must experience as they progress through the plot. I make my characters go beyond their personal breaking points. I challenge their belief systems and push them to that place beyond the reach of hope. It is in that place that they change. They evolve.

This is the ultimate journey all of my characters must take - the journey through chaos to enlightenment, regardless the cost.

What about you?  How do your characters grow and develop?  What journeys do they take? And what new perspectives to you bring your readers?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Winners, Contests, And Such...

First I want to back ALL OF YOU who entered my giveaway as part of the Back to Books Giveaway. I had such a great time with this, I have entered the Spooktacular Hop set for late October. I'll be giving away my favorite YA scary reads. Hope you all come back for that.

In the meantime, congrats to the winner for the Back to Books Giveaway:



Inspired by Gene Perret


Happy Thursday everyone! Today I'm interviewing Write Your Book Now author, Gene Perret. Let me tell you - this is one INSPIRATIONAL interview. It makes me smile every time I read it!

But before I get to all that, I need to wish Bookanisto SCOTT TRACEY a HAPPY LAUNCH DAY! His book, WITCH EYES releases today and I just can't be any happier!

And, one more thing - check out the other reviews today:

Before I get to my interview with Michelle, and the AMAZING GIVEAWAY, let's see what my other Bookanista buddies are up to:

Elana Johnson shares some book love for Random Acts of Publicity Week
Lisa and Laura Roecker is wild about a double giveaway of WITCH EYES and WILDEFIRE
Shannon Messenger loves LEGEND - with signed arc giveaway
Scott Tracey  celebrates his release day for WITCH EYES
Jessi Kirby gets inside SEAN GRISWOLD'S HEAD
Sarah Frances Hardy applauds LOTTIE PARIS LIVES HERE
Stasia Ward Kehoe marvels at THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER

On to my Bookanista Interview with Gene Perret in celebration of his new book, WRITE YOUR BOOK NOW.
First, the preliminaries:

Release Date: August 1, 2011

Basic Blurb: (from Amazon):
Ideal for aspiring authors who only dream of actually finishing their works in progress, this guide features proven, field-tested tools guaranteed to successfully complete that romance, expert guide to business success, or great American novel. The chapters simplify the writing process by breaking it down into a series of discrete tasks, from creating a schedule in order to finish within a reasonable time, brainstorming sections of the book, and organizing ideas into chapters to rewriting, editing, submitting for publication, and even marketing. This reference is tailored to help writers avoid distractions and delays by establishing and maintaining a powerful writing momentum, thereby carrying their projects to completion. The psychological blocks that prevent writers from completing their manuscripts as well as how to combat them are also explored.
And now - my interview with Michelle. Make sure to catch the end for your chance to win a fabulous prize pack.

CF: Hi Gene. Tell me and my readers a little about yourself.

GP: I worked for 13 years at a large industrial plant as an electrical drafting apprentice, draftsman, designer, engineer, then electrical drafting supervisor.  While there, I did little comedy routines at lunch.  When my first supervisor retired, we held a party and people asked me to emcee it.  The comedy routine I wrote for the Guest of Honor went over well and I began emceeing 2 to 3 retirement, farewell, anniversary parties each month.

This was my apprenticeship in comedy writing.  Some entertainers came to my hometown and asked to see some of the gags I wrote.  That began my professional comedy writing career.  A comic named Slappy White hired me, and then Phyllis Diller bought some of my material.

Phyllis really got my TV career started.  She had the producers hire me to write monologue material for her variety show in 1968.  Since then I wrote for the Jim Nabors Show, Laugh-In, The Carol Burnett Show and several others.

Bob Hope hired me in 1969 and I stayed with him until his retirement.  When he retired, I retired.

I never thought I could write a book, but a client of mine, Shari Lewis, was married to a book publisher.  He talked me into writing a book about my industrial career and my comedy career.  That was my first book.  I’ve written somewhere around 40 since.

{{Okay - his background is just epic in my book!}}

CF: Tell me a little about your book. What sets it apart from the sea of similar books?

GP: Write Your Book Now! is a volume that offers a procedure for beginning and finishing a book.  It’s not a how-to book on writing.  It doesn’t teach technique, plotting, character development, sentence structure or any of the technical aspects of writing.  This book devotes itself entirely to getting a book started, and once started, completed. 

The book offers a step-by-step procedure for “building” a book, developing a chapter by chapter outline, and then a schedule for keeping yourself writing.

{{Um, a schedule...yea, I definitely NEED a schedule!}}

CF: Give me one piece of advice for aspiring writers.

GP: The most important suggestion I offer to the comedy writers that I work with is to set a quota and stick to it.  There’s a benefit to writing regularly.  First of all, it gets you into the mood and rhythm of writing.  And once you find that, it’s imperative to keep it going.  Build up the writing momentum and then continue it.  You not only write more, but your writing becomes more powerful.

This idea works just as well for novelists and non-fiction writers.  It’s a major part of Write Your Book Now!  Developing a reasonable writing schedule – basically setting a quota --- and then sticking to that schedule maintains the writer’s enthusiasm for the project. 

CF: What do you think about the future of publishing? Where is it headed?

GP: Publishing, with digital books, self-publishing, and all the other innovations is changing almost daily.  Unfortunately, I’m not savvy enough to keep up with them or even able to offer any predictions. 

It does seem that even though traditional publishing may be declining somewhat, it appears that people are reading more.  Perhaps because the various digital readers make it so much easier. 

What I would say to aspiring writers, though, is that the first step is to get an idea you’re passionate about and then write it as best as you know how.  Get your ideas on paper so your readers can share them.  Finish your manuscript.  From there it will find its way into print, or a digital device, or whatever publishing technique is in vogue at the time. 

One thing we can always be assured of even though publishing methods may change is that the writer is indispensable.  You just can’t have books without authors.

{{See why I love this guy!}}

CF: How important is platform building? And do you have any suggestions for this?

GP: A platform is important, of course, but sometimes your manuscript can be an effective platform builder.  Salesmen will tell you that their job is easier when they have a good product.  Publishing and marketing become easier, too, when you’ve written a good book.

I tell writers that Samuel Clemens’s childhood was probably quite ordinary. It was most likely not much different from the other youngsters in Hannibal, MO.  But when Mark Twain added his imagination and writing skills to the telling of those childhood tales they became adventures.  Mark Twain wasn’t famous; his writing made him famous.

To me, a big part of building a platform is realizing how much you have to offer.  Even if you’re not a movie star or a well-known broadcaster, you still have something to say about whatever book it is you want to write.  So say it.  Offer yourself for radio and TV interviews, send articles to newspapers. 

I remember once as a struggling comedy writer trying to sell some material to Henny Youngman, a successful comedian of a few years ago.  He didn’t buy anything.  I wasn’t a well-known comedy writer.  Many years later, I got a phone call from Henny Youngman.  He said, “I have to do a presentation at a college and I understand that you’re the authority on comedy writing….” 

Sometimes we can surprise ourselves by building a platform without really realizing we’re doing it. 

{{This is my fav answer! - Thanks Gene for the inspiration}}

CF: Tell us one interesting fact about yourself - something that most people may not know.

GP: I have been fortunate to work with many legendary performers – Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller, Carol Burnett, Bill Cosby, and many others.  The interesting thing that I’ve learned from them is that there is always a reason for their success. 

The value of that is that we can always learn from them.  Whatever they did could very well work for us, too. 

So that’s the thing that most people may not know about me – I’m always analyzing the approaches and styles of people that I want to emulate. 

CF: Is there anything else that you want to share?

GP: That pretty much covers it.  Heck, I may have gone on so much that it covers more than you wanted covered.  The only other thing I might add is that there is a major benefit in believing in yourself and your work.  I mentioned in the response above that I tried to learn from successful people.  I worked very closely with Bob Hope for almost 30 years, and also with Phyllis Diller.  The outstanding trait of both of these legendary performers is that they always saw the bright side of any situation.  Neither one ever considered failing at whatever they did.  They believed, they worked hard at what they believed, and it worked.  So that’s the outlook I would wish for everyone – attack whatever you do with confidence, do it as well as you know how, and then reap the rewards.

Phyllis Diller used to sign all of her letters to me with the closing, “Onward and Upward.”  It’s not bad advice.
WOW! Thank you Gene - your words have definitely inspired me. 

What are you reading these days???

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hello, My Name Is Christine...

Hi everyone! I am so honored and humbled by everyone I'm meeting both through the Campaign and the giveaway blog hop (which ends tonight - so enter if you haven't. Click here for more info). Since the campaign started, I have a slew of new followers. (THANK YOU!)

So, with all the new people around here I thought I should do what several of my fellow campaigners have done, and tell you a little about myself.

So, here it is - all you wanted to know about me, and a few things you probably didn't!

The Basics - 
  • I'm a school psychologist by day, working predominately with kids aged 8-18. My areas of specialty are behavior analysis, working with problems like anxiety and school phobia, and giftedness.
  • Addition to the day job, I am a wife (married 23 years in Nov.) and mother of 2 beautiful girls - my teen and my tween.
  • Yea, I'm also kind of a "soccer mom", taking active roles in the various things my kids do.
  • And yes, I am a part-time taxi-driver, taking the kids to cross country, soccer games, etc, etc, etc
  • I have two books published - both non-fiction, and both related to gifted kids. I am currently trying to switch into a fiction genre and getting ready to query my current YA Gothic novel, TRANSCEND.
My Loves - In addition to the things I have to do (see above), there are plenty of things I LIKE to do:
  • I love to read and am part of the Bookanistas, a group of writers that blog only GOOD reviews of the books they love. The books I'm currently reading - Falling for Hamlet, and How to Save A Life.
  • I love to cook, though I don't do it nearly enough. Thank goodness for husbands that like to cook.
  • I love to write - though I will admit I get angsty with my writing at times.
  • I love to garden, not that you can tell by the weeds covering my garden at the moment. Yea, I've learned there are only so many hours in the day.
Some Things You May Not Know
  • I used to work in fashion a LONG time ago.
  • I used to model as a teen and new adult.
  • I have three or four friends that I really only know online, and yes...they are closer to me than almost anyone else in my life. We!
  • I love to surf (though I am lousy at it) and scuba dive, and dream of diving on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • If I had more time, I would spend a lot more time at the beach. Just sayin....
So there you go - Me!

What to know anything else?? Just ask!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Campaigner challenge - The Door

Happy Monday everyone (and Labor day for my US friends). Today I am participating in my first ever Campaigner challenge (and the first one for this particular campaign). Here's the scoop from Rachel Harrie's blog:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

Yikes! Flash Fiction? Short Stories? Definitely not my strong suit. I'm more of a novel kind of girl. But, never one to back away from a challenge, I thought I'd give it a try.

Oh! And yes, it is EXACTLY 200 words. And yes, it starts and ends with the required statements. WOOT!

The Door

The door swung open. Lorelei stood, shocked. She’d spent all of her fifteen years looking for this door. Lost in the murk of her life, she had almost given up. But now she literally stood at the gateway to her dreams.

“Well, don’t just stand there. Go in.” Lorelei’s unconscious was relentless, always pushing her forward.  

“I can’t,” she said, slowly backing away from the door. She knew what awaited her on the other side. She knew about the monsters, each more horrific than the last. She knew of the anguish and pain.

She knew all of it.

“Come on, Lorelei. You know you can’t become a grown-up until you do this. You want to grow up, right? You’d prefer a future and not death? Yes?”

“Um…I guess.” Lorelei hesitated.

“I know you do! And to get there, you must go through that door.” Her unconscious stared at her, reflecting all of her hopes and desires, her fears and shame.

Lorelei dropped her gaze, unable to bear the scrutiny. “Okay, okay. I’ll go in.” She took a step forward, smacking into an invisible barrier. “What happened?”

“I guess you aren’t ready after all.”

Lorelei watched as the door swung shut.  

So, what do you think??? If you want to get in on the fun, just check out Rachel's post! I'll be back Wednesday with an update on my current fiction project. 

What are you guys up too??

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Blog Chain: Time for a little writing!!!

It's Blog Chain time again, and this time I got to choose the topic - and what a crazy topic I have:

Since we are all writer's, I thought it was about time for us to stretch our creative muscles and do a little writing. So, take the following topic and go crazy! Show us what you've got. Your story can be as long or as short as you choice.

The topic: A dark and stormy night.

Ah yes, I am asking us all to...write. For my post, I decided to follow the Fiction Friday rules - Specifically the following:

  1. Write for a minimum of 5 minutes… AND THEN KEEP GOING!
  2. NO editing. ( well.. do the obvious spelling and punctuation.. but nothing major)
Okay, I actually just didn't get to write this post until VERY LATE last night. Oops!

Anyways, remember this is NOT edited, so no judgments, okay? Okay.

And without any more procrastination, here you go:

Ben climbed up the steep hill behind his house, waiting. Always waiting. His feet were tired from the four miles, but he didn’t care. Nothing was more important to him then this moment.
“You know this is never going to work, right?” Tom was out of breath when he reached Ben.
“I’m not listening to you,” Ben said as he stared into the horizon. The storm clouds rolled in over the sea, a few flashes of lightning brightening the otherwise gloomy sky. “Perfect,” Ben whispered.
“What’s perfect? And what are we doing up here, anyways?” John collapsed onto the ground, exhausted. “Well, come on. Why are we up here?”
“Ben’s going to try to catch lightning again.” The disgust in Tom’s voice was palpable.
“Catch lightning? You can catch it. Even if you were fast enough for it, it’d just melt your skin away.  Ben, why are you trying to catch lightning? It makes no sense.” John had a knack for telling the truth, even when no one wanted to hear it.
“Shh. I’m concentrating.” Ben continued to stare at the approaching storm clouds, “1…2…3”, he mumbled in between the flashes of light and muffled booms in the distance.  
“It’s no use, John. Ben’s in the zone. There’s no talking him out of this foolishness.” Tom sat next to John and picked at the small sticks littering the hill.
“What happened the last time he came up here?” A moment of fear passed through John’s expression.
“He nearly died.”
John took a slow deep breath. Whatever, Ben was about to do, he was certain he wanted no part of it. “It’s getting late. Maybe we should just try this lightning thing another day.”
“No!” Ben turned, his stare burning a hole through his friends. “I have to do this. I’ve been planning forever, checking and rechecking each calculation. The storm is of the right type. It’s going to pass directly over us. I have to do it now.” He turned back towards the ocean and started counting the time between flashes again. “1…2.” The crash of thunder startled them.
“I really think we should go,” John said as he stood.
“It’s nearly here. Tom, get my bag.” Ben pointed to the backpack casually discarded next to them.
The flashes and booms came more rapidly as the sky opened up and rain pelted the three boys.
Tom handed the pack to Ben without a word. After 28 attempts at catching lightning, he knew there was no point in trying to dissuade his friend.
Ben smiled. “”It’s going to work this time. I just know it.”
“You say that every time.” Tom swore he wouldn’t tag along on any more of these adventures, but curiosity always got the better of him.
 “But I mean it this time.”
The storm was in full swing, blowing the rain in a sideways pattern. Thunder and lightning came almost on top of each other.
It’s time, Ben thought. “Guys, get my kite.”


And there it is, my unedited scene dealing with a dark and stormy night!
Wanna play along? Just take the topic and post your own creative piece. Go for it!

To see what the others have to say, check out Abby's take on the topic tomorrow. I just can't wait to see what everyone comes up with!