Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Little Buzz-A-Thon for Christina Katz' WRITER'S WORKOUT

I'm so excited to be able to jump on board the unofficial Buzz-A-Thon for one of my favorite books - Christina Katz's latest, A WRITER'S WORKOUT.

Here's a little blurb about the book from Amazon:
The inspiration, stamina, and power to take charge of your writing life every day.Get the daily jolt of energy your writing life needs from The Writer?s Workout. Inside you'll find manageable, no-nonsense techniques for every aspect of your writing career from getting organized to connecting with your audience to building relationships.Veteran writing coach Christina Katz draws on her knowledge from more than a decade in the business to give you tips, exercises, and insider strategies to build your skills.Make your writing as strong and powerful as possible.Pitch and sell your work at every opportunity.Overcome rejection to come back better than ever.Promote your work and build an audience.Learn how to balance your creative life with your daily life.With The Writer's Workout, you'll develop skill, strength, and confidence; everything you need to build a robust, unique writing career that's built to last.
This is an amazing book that gives your writing life focus EVERY DAY. And Christina Katz is just the person to bring it to the world. She has been coaching writers for a long time. In fact, I consider her and her books some of the most influential things in my life. And although I have never seen her speak, or met her in person, I still cling to her books whenever I need a boost, some inspiration, or a little validation.

So, help me spread the word about this great little book. Go check out Christina's site for more info and find your own source of inspiration in her words.



Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tip Tuesday: Talking Conflict with Karen Sandler

Today I am pleased to host a guest post by author Karen Sandler for this edition of Tip Tuesday. Karen Sandler is the author of TANKBORN, a young adult science fiction novel from Lee & Low's new imprint, Tu Books. She rides horses, enjoys chocolate & dances without tripping on her feet. Mostly.

Today, Karen is talking about conflict. Take it away, Karen: 

What do you mean, I need conflict?

I was trolling through my storehouse of articles I wrote in the past, looking for likely material for a blog post. This is partly out of sheer laziness (easier to rewrite something already written than write new), but also because there are some pretty decent musings on various writerly topics.

The most recent one I pulled out has to do with conflict. Creating genuine, difficult to resolve conflict between my characters used to be the bane of my existence. Okay, sometimes it still is. But it’s also something I enjoy doing because it’s part of characterization, which is my favorite part of writing.

This particular article came about when a writer related to me how editors would tell her they “couldn’t engage” with her characters, that her characters weren’t sympathetic or dynamic enough. When I first started writing novels, I received similar feedback from editors and it was always a bit maddening because it seemed so vague. As a consequence, it was difficult to put a finger on what it was about my characters that didn’t pass muster.

What I learned after years of writing, rewriting, getting feedback, rewriting, etc., is that what was likely missing in my characterization, where it was lacking the “zing” that the editor was looking for, was lack of development of my characters’ backstories and conflicts. While judging writing contests, I’ve read so many promising, well-written manuscripts that fizzled because the main characters lacked powerful internal conflicts. These internal conflicts, paired with complex external conflicts (e.g., they have to save the world from blowing up) are what invest your reader in your characters and therefore in your book.

What is an internal conflict? It’s a problem within a character that only he or she can solve. Something so deep-seated, it informs every choice the character makes. Something so enormous, it should seem to your reader that nothing will ever heal that wound. The issue may not completely resolve at the end of the story, but there should be enough of an arc such that the character at a minimum has new insight into this difficulty. Otherwise, your reader may feel dissatisfied with the story’s resolution.

I like to use as an example my hero Lucas Taylor in the first book I wrote for Harlequin, THE BOSS’S BABY BARGAIN (yes, a bit of a goofy title, but the thing sold like hotcakes). Lucas’s mother was an alcoholic and he spent his childhood in and out of foster care. His mother let him down countless times, getting sober long enough to regain custody of her son, then falling off the wagon and losing him again. Then, when his mother finally seemed to have her act together, was staying clean and sober, she was killed when their apartment caught fire. Lucas was badly burned while trying, and failing, to save her life.

Think about the load Lucas was carrying. He fears caring for anyone–they might disappear from his life at any time. He doubts the power of love–it neither kept his mother from drinking nor saved her life. And his guilt over his inability to save his mother is a thousand pound weight on his heart.

These are big, big issues that will require a novel-length story to resolve. The trick is to make a sympathetic character out of this harsh and hard-edged man. I had to make sure there were moments of generosity and kindness that demonstrated his true nature, showed the reader the man Lucas might have been if his life had not been so tragic.

I always think hard about my characters’ backstories, what in their past has built the walls around their hearts. I try to make those conflicts seemingly insurmountable, but as the story proceeds, to show glimmers of the characters’ true selves through the chinks in their armor. Hopefully, my reader will care enough about my characters and my story to read all the way “THE END.”

Thank you for this great post Karen. Lot's of wonderful advice here. What do you guys do to create conflict? Do you delve into the internal conflicts of your characters?

Monday, February 27, 2012

What I've Learned So Far

As I reflect on my launch of DIES IRAE, and prepare for my launch of LACRIMOSA, several things have really come to light for me...
little lessons, if you will:

1. This really is THAT hard. Yep, writing is absolutely the hardest thing I have ever done – by far. And trust me, I have tackled some pretty difficult things in my lifetime. For me, it's hard because it's so very personal. I pour a piece of myself into everything I write. And then I give it to the world for scrutiny. Yep - it's hard. But guess what? I can do hard things. And this one is worth it. Most days.

2. It’s all just words. As an author, I often get too attached to my words, hung up on potential changes, married to certain ideas. This is just silly. These are words - just words. They can be changed, rearranged and even *gasp* deleted. I just need to remember that the changes do NOT mean that I have failed. Only that the work is not finished.

3. Be brave and forge your own path. Yea, this has been a big one for me on this journey. I constantly compare my path to others only to come to the same conclusion time and time again. I am unique, as is my journey. Everyone's is. Therefore making comparisons is crazy. Or rather, crazy-making. My journey is mine alone. And it has value in being just that - a journey just for me. (I just have to keep reminding myself of this).

4. Sometimes, it is better to just stay off line. This one ties into the one above - there are times when the best, healthiest, thing for me is to hide. Stay offline. Stop comparing. And just live. Or write. Or hang out with my family playing Just Dance 3. Don't get me wrong, I love all of my online haunts. I love hanging out and chatting with friends, blogging, check out what every one is working on. But, I am really prone to bouts of insecurity. And sometimes, the flood of online information just feeds that insecurity, sending into the muck. So, rather than subject that of myself over and over and over again, it makes more sense to do a better job of self-evaluation and pulling back when I need to.

So, there you go - a few things I have learned over the last month.
Anything sound familiar? What lessons have you learned along the path toward publication?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Giveaway time - Young Adult Paranormal Activity Hop...


I am so excited for today's giveaway announcement! From today through 2/28, I am participating in the Young Adult Paranormal Activity giveaway hop sponsored by I Am A Reader Not A Writer. With over 100 blogs participating, there are literally TONS of books and bookish things being given away.

For this giveaway, I thought I'd give one lucky winner Two of my favorite paranormal reads released in the past few months -
CINDER (Not strictly Paranormal, but it fits...)


EVERNEATH (just finished it and LOVE it!)

Entering is easy. Just follow my blog in some way and leave a comment! Get up to two extra entries for spreading the word in some way - just let me know what you did. Easy Peasy!!! Contest ends 2/28 and is open to the US only.

Be sure to check out the rest of the hop:


A Bookanista Interview with TATTERED Author LK Gardner-Griffie

HAPPY THURSDAY everyone! Welcome to another edition of Bookanista Thursday. I am EXCITED to have   LK Gardner-Griffie  with me today. But before I bring her interview, here's what the rest of the Bookanista's are up to:

And now, my special Bookanista interview with LK Gardner-Griffie. 

About the Book:
  • Give me the blurb for the book in 140 characters or less:   Day in court—backstabbing friends—relationship triangles=life for Katie McCabe. Books go up in flames & Katie's world rains down in tatters.
  • Do you have a fav character and why?  I always have a hard time with picking favorites, because I love most of my characters for different reasons. And it goes without saying that Katie McCabe will always have a special place in my heart, and I think she'll always be with me—even when I'm writing books that she doesn't appear in. We've been together so long it would feel wrong without her. 

    But if we narrow the selection to favorite new character in Tattered, then hands down it is Sunny Li. Sunny is an Asian Goth, with a quirky sense of humor, a wicked talent in murals, and underneath a hard exterior, vulnerability peeks out when you least expect it. Sunny started feeding me one-liners before I even knew who she was, and was difficult to get to know. But she had a story to tell, and was passionate about ensuring it wasn't trivialized.
  • What do you hope readers will get from your book?  Another tough question… An enjoyable read. A sense of connection to the characters and situations. I don't write to preach or send a message, I write to chronicle the lives of my characters. So I guess in a way it means I hope readers gain compassion and understanding for those who are different, recognition and acceptance that everyone makes mistakes, and being human means feeling a gamut of emotions.
About the Author:
  • What inspires you?  There are so many things I take inspiration from. The smallest thing, which someone else overlooks, may send skyrockets off in my head. But for the grand scheme inspiration… music and nature. Music carries the passion of life in its notes, it evokes a mood which comes from the core of our being, it can make us feel triumphant, or bring us to tears. For nature, there is the vastness of the ocean, with its ebb and flow that brings a peace to my soul—where the moonlight on the waves can look like twinkling stars or bring a tear to my eye. The whisper of wind carrying secrets as the breeze rustles through leaves on a tree—it can either delight or bring melancholy. But in both music and nature, they both feed my soul and center me, allowing my imagination to take flight.
  • Hardest aspect of writing? Best? Hardest aspect=keeping the butt in the chair. And along with the physical part of sticking with the work, it is the mental aspect of keeping myself from getting distracted while working. Maintaining focus. But once I'm in the zone, the house could fall down and I'm not sure I'd notice. The best aspect of writing are those moments of surprise when the story takes an unexpected but necessary twist… and it's something YOU would never have thought of. When the characters are fully in control and telling their story in their way. It doesn't get better than that.
  • Who is your writing hero?  I'm torn between Louisa May Alcott and Agatha Christie. Alcott because she penned a character in Jo March that still speaks to writers and inspires people to write. And Agatha Christie because of the way her mind worked and the number of books she wrote.
  • Randomness:
o   Sweet or salty? Sweet, but not too sweet.
o   Beach or mountains? I really want to say both. The beach at night and mountains during the day.
o   Online or in person? I love my online friends, but love even more when I get to meet them in person.
o   Ebook or print? Ebook – mainly because of my severe allergies. Ebooks don't decompose in quite the same was as print.

 About the Future:
  • What’s next for you?  The immediate next is editing an action/adventure Middle Grade novel, which I'm very excited about. And for the Misfit McCabe series, finishing the draft of One Way Ticket Home, the fourth book in the series, and writing the fifth and final book. And I have another Middle Grade contemporary book I have notes for and an older Young Adult.
  • One outrageous goal for the future? Go skydiving
If you are now as intrigued as I am about LK and her books, check out her website and get her books. Stat!

What's in your TBR pile right now?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WWO Wednesday and Finishing Edits

Happy Wednesday. I hope you guys have been accomplishing your goals of late. I have been on fire. I had a nice long weekend and used it to catch up on everything from the laundry, shopping (bought three pairs - THREE PAIRS - of epic new shoes), blogging, and cleaning through my email to my manuscript edits.

That's right, I said edits. I actually did it! I FINISHED EDITS on Lacrimosa.

JUST KIDDING!!! When I first planned this post, I really did expect to be finished with edits. But...NOT EVEN CLOSE! Seriously. I have been working, working, working...and yes, they are not quite finished. Close, but not yet.

But, they MUST be in by Friday in order to meet my publication deadlines.

And no, this is going so slowly because of anything big. No, it's just my own neuroses that keep getting in the way as I poured over each and every word, each and every scenes, each and every plot thread. And yes, the neuroses is definitely born from my need to turn out the best product possible. A noble cause, yes. But turning that cause into a lesson in my OCD-ish tendencies, probably not a good thing. Oh well, it is almost done, and soon I will get a chance to see what the rest of the world thinks!

Next up, I need to write a short story (Mea Culpa), outline another, and get ready to start drafting book 2 (Libera Me) in the Requiem series. Whew, nothing like being busy.

What are you guys working on?

Oh! And Kelly Hashway featured DIES IRAE in a YA Bound spotlight yesterday. I'm also over on the Honestly YA blog talking about teen love. And finally, Katie Davis put together a fabulous podcast of the ins and outs of book promotion - and yes, I am part of that podcast. She will be visiting the blog next week for a pretty fun vlog with BOTH of us. Let's just say I am a little animated when I speak. Too animated. Be sure to come back and check it out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

And the TEN clues continue...

Welcome to the next stop in Gretchen McNeil's ingenious hop to celebrate the release of the cover for her latest creeptastic novel, TEN. By now, you've (hopefully) gathered the clues you need to be able to enter the giveaway for a signed and annotated copy of the unbound galley of TEN. Seriously! That is an EPIC prize. And knowing Gretchen as well as I  do, I bet the notes she's written on it are...well...FANTASTIC.

Before I give you my little clue, I want to give you my little tease of TEN. First, the synopsis:

And their doom comes swiftly. It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives – three days on Henry Island at an exclusive house party. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their own reasons for wanting to be there, both of which involve Kamiak High’s most eligible bachelor, T.J. Fletcher. But what starts out as a fun-filled weekend turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.
 Suddenly, people are dying and the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine? 

My two cents:
I've had the chance to read TEN and let me assure, this is one of the BEST books I've read in a while. I LOVED IT!!! Murder, Mystery, Angst, Cheesy (and hilarious) nods to the whole teen-cult-murder-mystery genre....
Oh yea, this book has it ALL. Trust me , you HAVE to read this book!

Now, the clue...


That's it!
Tomorrow, head on over to Kimberly Sabatini's blog for her clue. You need all ten clues in order to enter the giveaway. Miss any of them? Hop on over to Gretchen's blog for all of the stops.


Monday, February 20, 2012

A Special Monday Edition of Tip Tuesday with Krissi Dallas

Okay, yes, I know it is Monday, not Tuesday. But I have a special post all set for tomorrow so I thought I'd doing Tip Tuesday on Monday. LOL! 

Today I am joined by talented author and teacher, Krissi Dallas. She is the author of WINDCHASER and WINDFALL - the first two books in the young adult fantasy Phantom Island series that just released nationally in December. The third installment, WATERCROSSING, will be released in the Spring. Like her fictional heroine, Krissi is also a gray-eyed Aerodorian from Texas with a ridiculous fish phobia. (Not sure what a Aerodorian is? Read her books to find out!) Krissi teaches junior high Advanced English and Language Arts and enjoys hanging out with her husband, Sam, the teens at Fusion Student Ministries, and her two wicked Yorkies. Her life is currently overrun with teenagers and she likes it that way. For more info, check out her website at In the meantime, check out her fabulous post and POV and writing. Take it away Krissi: 

Stick to the Point (of View, that is)

If you were a middle school student sitting in my class discussing literary terms, I would start off with a question like: “What is ‘point of view’ in a story?” You would probably then say something like, “how the story is told” or “who tells the story.” And you wouldn’t be quite right, but you’d be better than the kid who, when asked what a ‘protagonist’ was, said, “Ooh, ooh! I know! That’s the character who waits until the last minute to do everything!” (No, sweetie, that’s a procrastinator. But good try.) We would then seek to better define the concept together in our notes and I’d go with this one...

Point of View – the perspective from which a story is told

I’m assuming that those of you reading this already know the different points of view a story can be told in; however, please humor me as the teacher in me needs to make sure I’m clear. Though there are many subcategories of POV, I’ll stick with our major ones being 1st person (participant point of view, using first person pronouns—I, me, my, etc.), 3rd person limited (non-participant point of view, using third person pronouns—he, she, they, etc.—limiting the inner thoughts and experiences to one or a few main characters), and 3rd person omniscient (entering the minds and experiences of all characters). I never formally teach 2nd person POV in class, but am rethinking that now that I recently met Charles Benoit, author of You, a YA novel told completely and uniquely in 2nd person…all because his wife dared him to do it (Check it out! He’s fabulous.)

But, really…choosing the right point of view for the novel you’re writing is an important first step. I’ve noticed that writers (myself included) tend to classify themselves into one category of POV writing. I think of myself as a 1st person POV writer—and my Phantom Island series is told in 1st person through Whitnee’s eyes. To be honest, I found that writing Whitnee was almost like writing myself. So 1st person in her voice (which is often like MY voice) came very easily. I never imagined I’d want to write in any other point of view…until I got the Shiny New Novel Idea. And as I considered the dynamics of writing the Shiny New Novel, I knew I wanted some secrets revealed to my readers before one of my main characters knew about them. I wanted to cast light and shadows in the plot in such a way that I would have to be free to leave characters at specific times. Not only that, but in Shiny New Novel, my characters have less of ME in them. Maybe that accounted for this need to tell the story from an outside narration. Whatever the case, if I stayed in 1st person POV, I’d be confined to one character’s experiences and perceptions OR have to try switching 1st person POV constantly among characters. Nope. The Shiny New Novel Idea is so enticing to me that I have now forsaken my comfort zone and am attempting a novel in 3rd person. EEK.

I’ve heard nightmare stories of writers who went back and rewrote an ENTIRE NOVEL in a new point of view, because they realized what they started with didn’t work for the story they wanted to tell. So how can we avoid that? My advanced students and I threw around some thoughts in our class discussion that you might consider (especially if you write YA)…

1st Person POV
--The art of writing suspense is really easy with 1st POV, because the character is limited to what they can know or observe. This means Unknown Plot Forces can be brewing and more easily surprise the character, and thus the reader too.
--You can have a LOT of fun with voice in 1st person. Your MC is telling the story, so they get their own unique voice and tone. (Or you can lean at times on your OWN voice, which some of us unknowingly do in our first projects.)
--Your reader gets to really know and understand your MC and we all know that when a reader makes a connection with a character, the story will resonate strongly with them.
--You are limited to only tell what your MC can observe and experience. This makes it super important to write a main character that can carry an entire story. That MC has to be where the action is and the world of the story must usually revolve in some way around them.
--You have to be careful not to have your MC “notice” too many obvious things without connecting the dots with the reader. This is when MCs lose credibility with their readers because the reader saw something in the plot that the MC should have seen too, but didn’t… even though the MC narrated the observations.
--You have to write in a voice that will not “get old” or annoying in the telling. I’ve heard the complaint that 1st person narrators can come across arrogant or self-centered. Well… this is somewhat a way. They are the MC because they ARE in the center of what’s happening. But if they’re not really a self-centered person, be careful how you write their voice.

What My Students Say- “I like 1st person POV books because…
“…it gives me a point of reference for what’s happening. I don’t have to get confused by character names or who’s talking in the scene.”

“…it lets me see other characters through a real person’s eyes-the same way I might see them in my own mind. It makes the minor characters seem more real. Not the way an objective narrator wants me to see them.”

“…I always feel closer to the main character when they tell me their story. It’s like making a friend and hearing about their life.”

3rd Person POV
--You definitely have more freedom to explore other places, people, and circumstances that your MC does not get to see.
--You can have multiple MCs that open up new perspectives throughout the plot.
--It’s a lot easier to jump through, in, and around time as you please. The sequence of events can be told in any order you think will benefit the storytelling.
--Sometimes you sacrifice suspense in order to tell a bigger story – this is usually seen more in 3rd person omniscient POVs.
--The story can feel more about the plot than the characters, sacrificing someone’s ability to get truly close to one or two characters.
--If not written carefully, sometimes readers can feel as disconnected from the story as the fly on the wall who is narrating it.

What My Students Say- “I like 3rd person POV books because…”
“…I like getting points of view from different characters and seeing the conflicts from all angles.”

“…I like experiencing what’s happening through the person it’s happening to, not through a main character who is trying to describe to me what other characters are going through.”

Overall, in YA fiction, my students are openly more drawn to 1st person POV right now. That being said, I say choose the POV that will make for the best storytelling. You know your story, you know your characters, and hopefully you know at least a general structure of the plot outline you’re following. Use those details, along with a self-assessment of your writing strengths, and then go with the POV that you think will work best. However, don’t be afraid to branch out and try a new POV style than just what you’ve “always” done. I’m finding it strangely freeing to try 3rd person POV in the Shiny New Novel Idea… Maybe one day I’ll even venture out into different tenses…Ha. One step at a time, Dallas.

Now it’s your turn. If you’re a reader or a writer, what point of view do you prefer and why? What positives or warnings would you add to these lists? 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness Giveaway Hop


I am so excited for today's giveaway announcement! From today through 2/21, I am participating in the Random Acts of Kindness giveaway hop sponsored by I Am A Reader Not A Writer. With over 150 blogs participating, there are literally TONS of books and bookish things being given away.

For this giveaway, I thought I'd give one lucky winner ONE copy of a YA title of their choice. Yep, YOUR CHOICE. And, in sticking with the theme, I will donate the SAME title to the library of the winner's choice too. WOO HOO!!! Oh, and of course, I will also be adding a copy of my newest release, DIES IRAE to the winner's prize too. Such fun! LOVE doing giveaway!

Entering is easy. Just follow my blog in some way and leave a comment! Easy Peasy!!! Contest ends 2/21 and is open to the US only.

For more giveaway fun, check out the other blogs participating in the hop: 

Way to have some fun...Yes???

Bookanista Booyah for The Secret of Spruce Knoll

HAPPY THURSDAY everyone! Welcome to another edition of Bookanista Thursday. I am EXCITED for today's review of THE SECRET OF SPRUCE KNOLL. But before I bring my review, check out what the other Bookanistas are up to:

Christine Fonseca surrenders to THE SECRET OF SPRUCE KNOLL
Corrine Jackson delights in CHOPSTICKS
Stasia Ward Kehoe  presents a Stunning Seconds interview with A MILLION SUNS author Beth Revis
Jen Hayley gives a shout-out to the classics
Debra Driza celebrates CINDER – with giveaway!
Katy Upperman raves over JELLICOE ROAD
Hilary Wagner is all about LEXAPROS AND CONS – with giveaway
Carolina Valdez Miller talks about the tremendous cover of TEN

On to my Bookanista shout out for THE SECRET OF SPRUCE KNOLL by Heather McCorkle

Release Date: 8/3/2011

Basic Blurb: (from Amazon)

It's hard enough being a teenager under normal circumstances; imagine being orphaned, sent to live with an unfamiliar aunt-and learning that there really is magic in the world. Following the tragic death of her parents, Eren Donovan moves to Spruce Knoll to live with her aunt. Little does Eren know the entire town of Spruce Knoll is filled with so-called "channelers"-a magical group of people who immigrated to the small Colorado town when they were driven out of their own lands.
Channelers are tied to the fate of the world. As the world slowly dies, so do they-and they alone have the power to stop the destruction of Earth. Now, Eren learns she not only lives among them, but she is one. When she meets local boy Aiden, his charming tricks show her being a channeler isn't all bad; in fact, it's kind of cool. But is it Aiden's abilities or Aiden's looks that Eren finds so fascinating?
As Eren and Aiden's relationship blooms, so too does a mystery in Spruce Knoll. The town holds many secrets-and many enemies. It soon becomes apparent that the untimely death of Eren's parents was no accident and that her life might be in danger, too. Only time will tell if young, inexperienced Eren has the power to protect the people she has come to love.
Why I liked it: I really like this story. I sort of came to the series in a backwards manner, reading BORN OF FIRE and another Channeler short before finally reading this novel. I was hooked into the world and premise walking in; but it was the characters that kept me hooked. From the first page to the last, I found the character development strong. These are real, flawed, people working through issues that we can all relate to.
Add to that beautiful setting descriptions and a rich emotional context and you have the recipe for a fabulous story. I am so excited to read the next book in the series, CHANNELER'S CHOICE.
Great job Heather!

What are you reading these days?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WWO Wednesday: Jumping into Edits

Happy Wednesday. I hope you guys have been accomplishing your goals of late. Me, not so much. I seemed to have hit a wall last week, and have been slow to recover. Fortunately, I got my final edits back on LACRIMOSA and they are not that bad (whew!). So, my focus this week is edits. Nothing but edits. My publisher is including the first chapter as a special preview in a digital book being published next week, so I have to get the polished up chapter to them ASAP.
Good thing edits are probably my favorite part of the process. I've been through this particular manuscript so often, I could likely quote every line/ every page. But that is how it is by this point. My goal is to have this turned in my the weekend in order to make the tight turn around we have on the novel.

Then it is time to draft. My hardest thing. I always go through a sort of mini panic attack when I need to begin a new project. It's silly, really. But something about the blank page -- the uncharted waters-- always gives me pause.

Oh well, there is nothing I can do but jump in with both feet. Guess it's time to bug my CPs and have them torture me a bit to get me started. LOL!

What have you guys been working on?

Be sure to check out my crazy video on Elana's blog today. And yes, this is exactly how we talk - pretty much every day!

Oh, and I almost forgot to share more good news....

COMPASS PRESS is releasing a PRINT VERSION of DIES IRAE, along with two Channeler Series shorts (including Born of Fire) by Heather McCorkle. 

So for those of you who have been itchy for a print version of the novella, it's on its way! Release is set for March, just in time for LACRIMOSA and some other EPIC surprises, including Goodreads giveaways! While I am waiting for the giveaways to get started, go add the special edition BORN OF FIRE/DIES IRAE to your goodreads list!

WOO HOO, what a month!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine's Kiss

Happy Valentine's Day everyone. I thought that I'd share a little snippet of my writing today, something I haven't done in a while. Since it is Valentine's day, a kissing scene seemed in order. So here you go, a little smooching from DIES IRAE:

Our lips touch for a brief moment. She pulls back and the distance is unbearable. I lean in, wrapping my arms around her waist. I brush my lips against her cheek, her jaw. Releasing a small moan, she gives into me. Our lips meet and we are at once lost to a moment that should never be.
Time ceases to have meaning. Our kiss explodes into a million pieces, our lives irrevocably changed.
A heart beat passes, and another, before the kiss ends.
Demi pulls away, slowly opening her eyes. There is no joy, no passion, no peace in her expression.
Only pain.
~ Pg   39, DIES IRAE

There you go, a little romance for today. What are some of your FAVORITE smooching/romance scenes?

And don't forget to check out my tour stops today. Click on the blog tour tab for more information.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Exciting News on the Nonfiction Front...

Yesterday I promised some exciting news this week. And today, I will be sharing some...

But first, I want to let you know about this week - the last week - on the tour:

I hope you've enjoyed the tour overall. Be sure to check the left sidebar for any remaining giveaways this week.

I am just starting to prepare for LACRIMOSA's tour - and trust me, I have some MASSIVE fun planned. If you want to be part of the mayheim, click here and complete the form.

Okay - time for the news:

Prufrock Press is publishing my third nonfiction book, entitled:

REDEFINING NORMAL: A Girl's Guide to Embracing Her Identity and Realizing Her Potential

It's current scheduled to be out in Fall 2013. WOOT!!! So excited for this one to hit the shelves. For more information about that book, or to participate in the some of the research for that book, check out today's post on my other blog.

And be sure to come back throughout the week for more exciting news, giveaways and more. WOOT!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Serenity Sunday

Happy Sunday. I hope your weekend is going well. I decided to step away for a day yesterday, and was fabulous. I stayed in my PJs pretty much all day. ALL DAY! Just what I needed.

The tour is still going strong. Friday, Laura Diamond shared her review of DIES IRAE. Saturday, I stopped by her blog and shared my opinion about writing novellas vs writing novels. And today, Book Blogger Michelle from Book Briefs hosts a stop, with a review and a guest post.

The tour finishes up this week with crazy stops at Elana Johnson's blog, Ali Cross's blog and many others.

In addition to the tour stops, I have some exciting blog posts including not one...BUT TWO special announcements (Monday and Friday), some "love" for Valentine's day and other things! I hope to see you all week!

Oh! And today is my day to post on the Downtown YA blog. My topic - getting into your characters. Stop by and say hi!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fabulous Friday!

Happy FRIDAY!!! I don't know about you, but this has been a CRAZY week. Here are my tour stops for today (and there are many!):
I hope to see you guys on the tour. There are still various giveaways, as well as reviews popping up. It is a fun/interesting/exciting ride!

Since we are talking about tours, I've decided to do something WILD AND CRAZY....and EXCITING for the tour for LACRIMOSA. If you think you may want to:
a) participate in the tour, or
b) review the book
 click on this link and complete the form.

As soon as the tour for DIES IRAE finishes next week, I will be sending info regarding e-arcs, the tour, the crazy fun, etc...


In the meantime, what plans do you have this weekend? Me, I am hopefully writing.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bookanista Love for A MILLION SUNS

HAPPY THURSDAY everyone! Welcome to another edition of Bookanista Thursday. I am EXCITED to talk about Beth Revis' A MILLION SUNS today. But before I bring her interview, it's also Day 9 of my blog tour, and I will be hanging out with Bonnie Harris today. 
Check it out. And also, check out what the other Bookanistas are up to:

Christine Fonseca  takes a shine to A MILLION SUNS
Carolina Valdez Miller falls for FRACTURE
Jen Hayley surrenders to THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED
Stasia Ward Kehoe is dazzled by DARK COMPANION
Nikki Katz wonders at THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
Debra Driza is overwhelmed by UNDER THE NEVER SKY
Jessica Love gives a trophy to BEAUTY QUEENS
Shelli Johannes-Wells takes you on a tour of The Reading Room
Tracy Banghart has double-love for THE SILVER PHOENIX and FURY OF THE PHOENIX
Hilary Wagner is in the grips of THE GATHERING STORM

On to my Bookanista Shout out for A MILLION SUNS by Beth Revis

Release Date: 1/10/2012

Basic Blurb: (from Amazon)
Godspeed was fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos.
It's been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. And everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may just be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to enact his vision - no more Phydus, no more lies.
But when Elder discovers shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a puzzle that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier, unable to fight the romance that's growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.
In book two of the Across the Universe trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis mesmerizes us again with a brilliantly crafted mystery filled with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

Why I liked it: 

WOW! This book is easily one of my favorites! This is one of those rare occasions when the sequel SURPASSES the original! Revis has really found her stride in this series with this latest book. Packed with adventure, mystery and a building sense of doom, I found myself unable to put the book down! When I eventually did have to stop reading (you know, for work...or food...or life...) I found myself thinking and thinking and thinking about it. LOVE IT when that happens. Can not wait for more from Ms. Revis!!!

What are you reading these days?

    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    Wild Wednesday

    Happy Weds. I can not believe Dies Irae has been out for a week. HOLY COW!!! Surreal.

    Today I am hanging out with the FABULOUS Stina Lindenblatt talking about using setting in your stories. WOOT!

    Tonight I am presenting a webinar related to giftedness for UCI - very exciting. And yes, I have some VERY EXCITING news to share...soon. Hopefully really soon!

    In the meantime, I really need to get writing. Like...this weekend....

    What have you guys been up to?

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    Truthfully Tuesday

    Happy Tuesday. It's been a while since I did a Truthful Tuesday post, and after a few things yesterday, I thought it fitting. But before I get to that, here is the scoop on my spots for the blog tour -
    And, congrats to NATALIE AGUIRRE - she one a copy of my ebook. WOOT!

    Okay, now, my truth...
    Yesterday I got a horrible review. And yes, it sort of hurt. I know, I know - we aren't supposed to talk about these things. We aren't supposed to read our reviews - aren't supposed to "care".

    But yea, I am always wondering WHY NOT? I don't mean we should bash ANYONE for being HONEST in their feelings about our books - we should welcome it. But, to not admit that it hurts to get a lukewarm review, or that a little part of us dies for a moment when we read a crushing review....
    well, that's just silly. Of course it hurts. A lot.

    But, it's the nature of this business. We will get rejected - by agent, by publishers, by our readers. Writing - and reading - is subjective by nature. There will be plenty of people who don't get, or don't like, what we were trying to accomplish. And that's fine. 

    In  truth, I knew the less-than-favorable review was coming. And part of me was glad - it lends credibility to everything. Some people will like my work, some people will not. I knew, too, that the genre of the novella itself would be problematic for many. And it is. Am I mad about it? No, actually. Just disappointed that I let a few readers down. Will it keep me from reading my reviews? No. I actually find value in the reviews, the feedback. 

    So, how should I react. Honestly. It hurts. That's normal. But after the pain, it's time to move on. Period. Like Elana Johnson said in one of her posts, reviews are for READERS, not writers. And like Lisa Schroeder said in a similar post, it is NOT the reader's job to supply emotional feedback to the author. In other words, read the review - or don't. Acknowledge the sting of a review, because that is honest. Beyond that, let it go and write something new. At least, that is what I am doing. 

    What do you think? How do you (or would you) handle the less than favorable review?

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    Monday Musings - To Unplug or Not to Unplug (and a little giveaway)

    Welcome to the end of the first full week of the blog tour for DIES IRAE. Before I get into today's post about unplugging, I wanted to tell you where I'm stopping today -

    • Supagurl Books hosts my top five movies (and gives a review of DIES IRAE)
    • Rebecca Enzor hosts a guest post about the inspiration behind DIES IRAE.

    Now, back to my Monday musings -
    Way back on January 1, I made a decision to take the first full week of every month OFF of blogging. I had been dealing with a lot of angst brought on by just too much to do - transitioning to a new job, writing the series, more sekrit projects I can not yet announce, family obligations, etc, etc. So, one week a month I would take off, get caught up on writing and just veg. Of course, this grand plan was BEFORE my release date moved up for DIES IRAE. Now, I am not sure what to do - how to take off the week and still promote the tour.

    After staying offline for most of the weekend, I came to a decision to just post links about the tour, and maybe a few other surprises.

    Like Today - I am doing a random giveaway for one copy of DIES IRAE, here on THIS blog. Just leave a comment answering the following question:

    That's it. Contest closes at midnight.

    Oh! And I'm making an impromptu stop on Lisa A's blog today - and she is reviewing DIES IRAE too. Eep!

    Sunday, February 5, 2012

    Super Bowl Sunday, and the Tour...

    Happy Superbowl Sunday. I hope today finds you all having fun with family and friends - and maybe even watching the game. I know I am! But, I am also on tour at the following stops:
    • Eric Stallsworth is hosting a guest post about my feelings about writing a series - Especially one I never planned.
    • BE Sanderson is hosting a guest post about my thoughts on STRESS and writing. Okay, really it is about coming face-to-face with quitting and making the choice to keep at it. 
    I hope to see you around the blogosphere today. Later this week promises some fun posts and updates. I had originally planned on taking the week off in order to stick with my New Year's resolution of taking off one week a month. But with the tour and all, I am still doing a couple of posts!

    Anyway, have a great one today. And, BTW - who are YOU rooting for?

    Saturday, February 4, 2012

    Happy Sat. I hope to see you along the tour today! Here are my stops for today:

    • Artist Nata Romeo is hosting an interview and hopefully sharing her thoughts about DIES IRAE
    • Simon C Larter is sharing another interview with some more fabu questions.

    In the meantime, what plans do you have this weekend? Me, I am working. Remember how I mentioned the new job. Yea, well I am still quasi working two jobs as I transition. So the workload is endless. I will, however, be spending some quality time with the family and cooking for a Superbowl party!

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    Teen Talk Friday - Author Events

    Since I am in the middle of my Blog Tour for DIES IRAE, I thought we would talk with the teens about author events. But before I get to that, here are my stops for today:

    • Gretchen McNeil with one of my fav interviews (she asked some fun questions)
    • Jen Merrill with my thoughts about writing for GT (gifted) teens.

    Now, back to Teen Talk Friday - I go to a lot of events - book signings, author chats, launch parties. And most of the time they are attended by a ton of writerly peeps and a few teens. Given that most of these events are for my YA author friends, I am also wondering how to get more teens to come to the events.

    So, I decided to ask my teen group what kinds of things THEY like to attend, and what will make them more likely to attend.

    Here are some of the things they had to say:

    • "I love going to book signings, but most of the time they are during the week and I am swamped with school and work."
    • "I like signings with multiple authors at book stores or places where I can get the book right there."
    • "I really don't go to signings. But I like it when authors come to my school."
    When I asked about virtual events - blog tours, twitter thingys, scavenger hunts, etc, this is what they said
    • "I never do blog tours, or whatever. I go to live events. And sometimes I do the scavenger hunt things. I do love fb, so when there are things related to fb, I do them."
    • "Yea, I am the same. I am online -youtube, FB, sometimes twitter. But I don't really follow authors' blogs and such."
    • "I actually do read author blogs. I never comment, but I like hearing about events and stuff. Of course, I want to write novels, that may be why."
    There you have it. I am going deeper into the social media part next week, so be on the look out for that.

    AND...I have asked my girls to round up a few more guys to have a "part 2" post about covers, from the male POV.

    Have a great weekend all, and be sure to check out the myriad of giveaways going around for DIES IRAE. And if you've read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts.

    Thursday, February 2, 2012

    A Bookanista Interview with Denise Grover Swank

    HAPPY THURSDAY everyone! Welcome to another edition of Bookanista Thursday. I am EXCITED to have Denise Grover Swank with me today. But before I bring her interview, it's also Day 2 of my blog tour, and I will be in three fabulously places today - 

    Check it out. And also, check out what the other Bookanistas are up to:

    Christine Fonseca  interviews author Denise Grover Swank
    Jessi Kirby and Jen Hayley are wowed by WANDERLOVE
    Corrine Jackson is mesmerized by MAY B.
    Stasia Ward Kehoe  interviews DIES IRAE author Christine Fonseca
    Debra Driza is entranced by HEMLOCK
    Katy Upperman delves into THE DISENCHANTMENTS
    Nikki Katz  celebrates CINDER
    Tracy Banghart  marvels at JULIET IMMORTAL
    Jessica Love spotlights SHINE

    Gennifer Albin spreads some love for the trailer for STARTER
    And now, my special Bookanista interview with Denise Grover Swank. First, a little about Denise: 

    • BIO: Denise Grover Swank lives in Lee’s Summit, Missouri and has two previously published, award winning books—Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes, a humorous southern mystery and Chosen, an urban fantasy. Denise is the single mother of six children ranging in age from four to twenty-four. Her fourteen-year-old daughter is quick to point out what she gets wrong about teenage behavior in her books—and what she gets right. 

    Twitter: @ DeniseMSwank
    Facebook: Denise Grover Swank

    And a little about her YA title, HERE:

    • Blurb: Sixteen year old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend Monica in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before.

      Classmate Evan Whittaker paid Julia no attention before the accident, let alone after. Now suddenly he’s volunteering to tutor her and offering to drive her home. She can't ignore that his new obsession started after his two-day disappearance last week and that he wears a pendant she’s been drawing for months. When the police show up one night looking for Evan, he begs Julia to run with him, convincing her that Monica is still alive. Julia agrees to go, never guessing where he’s really from.

    And now, my interview with the amazing Denise Grover Swank - 

    About the Book:
    • Give me the blurb for the book in 140 characters or less:  - Julia lives with the guilt of killing her best friend, until she falls for a boy who says her friend is still alive – in another universe.
    • Do you have a fav character and why? - Julia. I love watching her growth throughout the book.
    • What do you hope readers will get from your book? - I hope that my characters feel Julia's pain and hopelessness as the book starts but see that there's always hope, even when circumstances seem impossibly dire.

    About the Author:
    • What inspires you? - Everything. Book, movies, TV shows, music, my children, current events. Sometimes it's like my brain is a sieve that filters out everything going in to pick out a few things to use here and there.  
    • Hardest aspect of writing? Best? - I think the hardest part of writing is writing even when you don't feel inspired. But sometimes once I get started, an idea will pop into my head and re-inspire me.  The best part is creating magic, because when I write a book and it all falls into place, it's like magic.
    • Who is your writing hero? - Wow, I don't have just one and it depends on my current writing situation.  
    • Randomness:

    o   Sweet or salty? - Salty 
    o   Beach or mountains? - Beach 
    o   Online or in person? - Online 
    o   Ebook or print? - I used to be print but I've been switching more and more to ebooks 

     About the Future:
    • What’s next for you? - I'm finishing an edit of Sacrifice,  the third book in my urban fantasy The Chosen series. Then I'll write Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons, the second book in my humorous southern mystery series. And then I'll write THERE, the second book in the On the Otherside series.
    • One outrageous goal for the future? - To make a living writing books. I used to think it was outrageous. Now it seems obtainable. 

    If you are now as intrigued as I am about Denise and her books, check out Amazon and Barnes and Noble and start reading :D

    What are you reading these days?