Monday, June 15, 2015

Check Out the Anatomy of Story Writer's Retreat and Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway

Attention Writers!!

Searching for a writer's retreat that is both intensive and navigates both the writing aspect (Anatomy of Story) and the marketing aspect (Anatomy of Publishing)? If so, this is the writer's retreat for you. Before you go any further, check out the blog post by YA Author extraordinaire, Courtney C. Stevens, who is so incredibly humble, transparent as a writer and human being, and gives so much of herself to help all of us. Then, read more about the opportunity below and afterward, enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win some fantastic prizes.
Click the link to find out more
Join Courtney C. Stevens (author of Faking Normal, The Blue Haired Boy, and The Lies About Truth), Tessa Gratton (author of The Blood Journal Series and The United States of Asgard Series), Natalie C. Parker (author of Beware the Wild and Behold the Bones), and Victoria Schwab (author of more than a dozen books including The Archived Series, Vicious, and A Darker Shade of Magic).

The retreat runs August 27-30, 2015 in beautiful Camdenton, Missouri at the house pictured above. Follow the link by clicking the image for more details.

So you've looked over the MadCap Retreat website? Worried about finances for the retreat? Spread the word about the retreat and then enter this contest (which runs from June 15th-June 20th) to win a $300 coupon for the retreat! Three of these coupons will be given away! That is awesome! What a blessing. There are other prizes up for grabs as well! Check it out:

1- 50 page manuscript critique by Courtney C. Stevens
3- signed copies of Faking Normal (U.S./Canada Only)
1- ARC of The Lies About Truth (U.S./Canada Only)
5 - electronic copies of The Blue Haired Boy


Contest runs from June 15th to June 20th. Enter today and good luck!

Also, you should probably follow these amazing authors on Twitter if you haven't already:

Courtney C. Stevens: @quartland
Tessa Gratton: @tessagratton
Natalie C. Parker: @nataliecparker
Victoria Schwab: @veschwab

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Book Review: SWAGGER by Carl Deuker

SwaggerSwagger by Carl Deuker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm not usually one to read a sports-themed book, but this one had me turning pages and fighting my way through to the end, to the truth and the light and to the powerful story underneath. Even if you've lied a little, or even a lot, does speaking the truth matter more? Sure, there are tournaments to be won, and big, shiny trophies, but do they matter? Do college scholarships matter, even if you've worked hard to earn it? Does the truth matter more? When a friend needs you to speak the truth, and they can't speak up for themselves, would you do that? Would you risk it all for your friend? Would you do the right thing, even if if cost you everything you thought that mattered?

Deuker delivers in fast plays, well-crafted games, and at the center of his story, Jonas, the MC with the swagger to apply his skills on the court to his academics and future goals (college with a basketball scholarship), and to his relationships. SWAGGER follows Jonas from before he has any clear direction or goals, to a driven, committed young man coming into his own.

When Jonas's dad loses his job and has to relocate, Jonas is put to the test to start over and continue toward his goal of earning a full basketball scholarship to Monitor college by proving himself in his academics and in his skills on the court. It's one thing to play and make shots, and it's another thing entirely to lead players to function as a team, playing to their strengths and ensuring every player shines when called upon.

As the story unfolds, Jonas meets his new coach, Hartwell, who proves to be somewhat shady in the way he crosses moral lines with Jonas and his fellow players. Prior to being hired as coach, Hartwell meets the team and offers them tips on how to improve plays and shots at the local community court. Seemingly harmless at first, the reader slowly realizes how calculated Hartwell is, how nothing he does is an accident or coincidence, but each move is part of his bigger goal to gain the position of head coach and predator among his group of players.

Jonas and his best friend Levi play and sharpen one another all summer, and throughout their senior year, their friendship deepens. As the team works toward the state championships, Levi changes, keeping more to himself and withdrawing as a player. Jonas tries to reach out to Levi, but being a friend is what Levi ultimately needs, and this is proven when Levi reveals the secret that changes everything.

What a powerful read. Highly, highly recommended. And the games were pretty intense, too. Worth a read. Slam dunk.

View all my reviews

Friday, May 15, 2015

Final Edits are Underway

I'm blessed to have a very thorough editor. I've got three levels of edits to work through, and I've got them all printed out so I can highlight and make edits on paper (this is important because it changes up what could easily be missed on the screen/keyboard), then transfer those to my electronic document. As I go through, I'm checking off each edit note to make sure I don't miss anything, and if I have something come up that I need to discuss with my editor, I make a note and check in with her.

While I've only just begun this process, it's going well so far, and I'm pleased with the results. I've got a few bigger bumps along the road coming up (cutting a whole chapter, half of another), and some character arcs needs some retooling as well, but I'm ready for the challenge. Once I'm through final edits (round one), my editor wants to do a quick once over just to be sure she didn't miss anything (did I mention how awesome my editor is?), and then it's off to the proofreader. My proofreader will go through for formatting and grammar to ensure a new set of eyes searches and destroys any remaining typos, grammar errors, or formatting glitches.

Then, we're go for submitting for layout and cover design. Meanwhile, I'll shift gears and get all the marketing aspects ready. I've got some really cool things planned, so stay tuned. Speaking of, have you seen my new dot com? Yes, I've got one of those:

Check it out. It's like a newborn baby for now, but soon I'll have tabbed sections and you'll be able to find out what's happening both here and there. I will be updating more frequently, I swear. I know I've been seriously absent here for awhile. My last two grad school classes were seriously kicking my butt, however,  I just finished and somehow managed to maintain my 4.0! Woot. I'm starting one more class for early summer, but I went ahead and dropped the other one (I've got space later on to take that class), so I had more time to get my book edited and ready to go.

What are your summer plans? My family and I are going to a local campground with a cabin that works for my son's walker. It has a nice pool, walking paths, and other things our boys love to do. We'll probably go to the beach as well at some point.

If all goes well, and according to schedule, we should have ebook and print copies of THE PACKING HOUSE ready for September/October. Once we're closer to the final date, I'll let you know. Somewhere between now and then, we'll have a cover reveal and updates on blog tour, giveaways, and other plans.

Thank you for sharing this news with friends and coming back despite my lack of updates. I appreciate each and every one of you, truly.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Book News

I've got some pretty big news, and I can't keep it under wraps any longer. I have a book contract for my debut YA novel, THE PACKING HOUSE. It's going to be a published book, maybe even this year, 2015. My publisher is Booktrope, a hybrid publisher.

Right now, I'm busy assembling my team of professionals to help me get my book from a manuscript to a final, polished, and published book. I've got an editor, who has already given me edits on chapter one, the same chapter that is posted as an excerpt via the tabs at the top of the page. I've got a proof reader, who will read through once I've done final edits on the book from my editor's notes. Once that step is done and I've made sure all grammatical edits are done, I'll turn in the book for interior layout and design, while the cover artist does amazing things with my cover.

I'll also be working with my book manager and marketing manager to help get The Packing House ready for book launch. This will include a cover reveal, a blog tour full of interviews, giveaways, and fun galore. Next, I've got some behind-the-scenes stuff in the works that will truly be unique to the launch of this book.

What's amazing to me is that through this whole process, I'll have a published book at the end of it all, and a second book to complete the series. I've even got a tentative title for it, but maybe I'll do a blog post on possibilities and let you help me name book 2.

Along the way, I'll post updates about some plans that will be happening with the publication of this book, for those of you who pick up a copy, so you'll know what happens when you buy one. I welcome your input regarding this process, and I will do my best to respond to your comments and questions.

I must tell you, though, I am working full time in my day job, have a wife and four boys who keep me plenty busy, and I'm a graduate school student working on my master's degree in clinical mental health counseling. So, while the news of my book being published is thrilling, I'm not so keen on how the timing of it all is working out. But, I'll figure it out. I'm not ever going to complain about working on my book. Because, not everyone gets to have a published book. I'm humbled and grateful and honored to have been trusted with the task of sharing these stories, and I truly hope they bless you as you read these stories that came from my heart.

I am also eagerly anticipating when I get to thank every person who helped me along the journey from the first draft to now, and beyond, when it's finally born and out there for all of you to read. I will remember this when I get bad reviews, and (hopefully) good reviews. I will marvel at the magic that happens when a book isn't the author's property anymore, it's the property of the readers. They make it come alive. And, if I can achieve that, I'll be profoundly grateful.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Joel and the Mirror by Crystal Smalls Ord

Just received the most amazing, cover-worthy commission for my YA novel, THE PACKING HOUSE from the incredibly talented artist and author extraordinaire, Crystal Smalls Ord.

This image perfectly captures the tension and the emotion of Joel and his nightmare self, trapped in the mirror with the demon who torments him. The spiders crawling out of the mirror into the real world represent how the nightmares plague Joel during his waking hours, until the next time when he's dragged back down again, beneath the surface. I love how Crystal captured the detail of Joel's nightmare self having bandages wrapped around his hands. So many feels for this artwork. Thank you, Crystal for capturing the emotion in the eyes.

Check out an excerpt of Chapter 1.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Countdown to New Year's 2015: ...10...Catch Up On Reading

As a part of a new feature here on the blog, I'd like to take some time reflecting back on 2014, and all the great things that inspired, delighted, and challenged me as a reader and a writer. Therefore, it will likely come as no surprise that my book-themed "Countdown to 2015" is riddled with books, authors, and treats for the avid reader and author aficionado alike.

Without further ado, let's begin with our countdown at #10:

Catch Up Reading All the Books Written By Authors You Love. This is an easy, no-brainer. Begin by making a short list (this can occur in your brain if you like, no need to be literal here) of authors you love, whoever that is for you that springs readily to mind, and go find out if you've read EVERY book they've ever published. If you haven't, now's the perfect time to catch up on your reading, and enjoy treating yourself as a way to finish out 2014. Plus, if you're like me, you're trying to finish out that reading goal for 2014, and you might (ahem) be one or 3 books behind schedule. Here's an easy way to achieve that 2014 goal, check another item off on your 2014 To Do List, and begin fresh for 2015 ready to raise that reading goal by 5 or 10 more books than you read in 2014. Who's with me?

Just to make this fun, answer any and all of the below questions in the comments. Who knows, you might mention one or two I'd like to add to my To Be Read pile, and vice versa. Let's see what everyone's reading:

1. What book did you just finish reading?
2. What book are you determined to read before the end of 2014?
3. What book(s) did you specifically ask for on your Christmas list?
4. What book(s) will you buy immediately if you get a gift card for Christmas?
5. What are your top must read books of 2015?

Thanks for sharing and happy reading!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Blog Tour: BURN BABY, BURN BABY by Kevin Craig

12/18 Blog Tour Stop: Excerpt and Giveaways

We've got an important EXCERPT on today's Burn Baby Burn Baby Blog Tour Stop. This is the scene where Francis Fripp meets Rachel Higgins, all the while trying to avoid setting off his rival, Brandon Hayley from bullying him again.

I'll also be posting my review of Burn Baby Burn Baby on my blog. I hope you'll check out what I had to say about it, and I hope you'll enter to win via the links below, and snag yourself a copy of Kevin's latest book, too. Thanks for stopping by. Have a look around while you're here.


Kevin Craig is the author of three previous novels; Summer on Fire, Sebastian’s Poet, and The Reasons. He is a 4-time winner of the Muskoka Novel Marathon’s Best Novel Award. Kevin is also a playwright and has had eight 10-minute plays produced. His most recent plays were included in Driftwood Theatre’s Trafalgar24 Play Creation Festival and the InspiraTO Festival at the Alumnae Theatre in Toronto. Kevin’s poetry, short stories, memoir and articles have been published internationally Kevin was a founding member of the Ontario Writers’ Conference and a long-time member of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR). He is represented by literary agent Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group.


Seventeen-year-old Francis Fripp’s confidence is practically non-existent since his abusive father drenched him in accelerant and threw a match at him eight years ago. Now badly scarred, Francis relies on his best friend Trig to protect him from the constant bullying doled out at the hands of his nemesis, Brandon Hayley—the unrelenting boy who gave him the dreaded nickname of Burn Baby.

The new girl at school, Rachel Higgins, is the first to see past Francis’s pariah-inducing scars. If Brandon’s bullying doesn’t destroy him, Francis might experience life as a normal teenager for the first time in his life. He just has to avoid Brandon and convince himself he’s worthy of Rachel’s attentions. Sounds easy enough, but Francis himself has a hard time seeing past his scars. And Brandon is getting violently frustrated, as his attempts to bully Francis are constantly thwarted. Francis is in turmoil as he simultaneously rushes toward his first kiss and a possible violent end.


I’m on my own in the morning. Trig has all advanced classes. He’s perfect in every way. I’m a slacker on Day Two of our schedule. Easy math and art in the morning. We’re probably going to be building houses with pipe cleaners, or something just as lame, in art. And math? Whatever. One plus one equals I don’t give a crap.

In math, I feel something hitting my back and I turn around to see Brandon Hayley smiling at me with his oversized pearly whites. His cohorts are laughing, egging him on. He shrugs as if to say, What? What’d I do?

I turn back and try to look like I’m interested in the mathematical equation that Mr. McDonald is scribbling on the blackboard in hieroglyphs. I’m a really bad faker.

Soon it starts hitting me again. I know what it is without turning around. Spitballs. And they’re sticking to the back of my shirt, skeeving me out. If Trig was here, it wouldn’t be happening. But he can’t be everywhere.

I hear an argument break out behind me. By the time I turn around, everybody’s pretending to be interested in the blackboard. But I see Rachel Higgins, the new girl, in the corner, looking really pissed off. When she sees me, she smiles lamely.

Like a retard, Brandon waves at me. I blush and turn back toward the board, but not before realizing how intently Rachel is looking at me. Did she stop them?

“Okay, my little piggies,” Mr. McDonald says as he finishes scribbling his meaningless gobbledegook. “Who can tell me the answer to this one? Don’t go blowing your brains out over it. Take a few minutes. Look at it. I promise you, it’s an easy one. And everybody here should know it. This is review. It’s June next week. Come on, now.”

His voice begins small, but climbs to a near yell as he gets to the end of his little spiel. He’s looking at us. Thirty faces staring back at him, all seemingly clueless. Some, like me, really don’t have the foggiest idea what’s going on in his chalk mess. But others, I’m sure, just don’t want to be called upon.

“Mr. Hayley,” McDonald says. “Come on, my pretty little piggy. Give us a breakdown. What’s the answer? I think I heard a rumble from you while I was jotting that down. Why don’t you come on up to the board and give us a run through?”

“No,” Brandon says. “I’m good, sir. Thanks, though.” There’s a little burst of laughter. Quiet, nervous laughter.

“Oh no, Mr. Hayley,” McDonald says, raising his voice again. “I don’t think you understood me there. That wasn’t a request. It was a demand. I’ll have you come up to the board now and walk us through this excruciatingly difficult equation. Come on, now. That’s a good little piggy.”
Now everyone is giggling under their breath. Everyone but me. I know not to rock the boat where Brandon Hayley is concerned. He could probably crack me open like a walnut.


Goodreads Giveaway: 12/11/14 to 1/11/15

Twitter Giveaway: Follow the link and Retweet (RT) to be entered to win