Friday, December 30, 2011

Giveaway #4: And the Winner is...

As the year comes to a close, so too, the giveaways are wrapping up for this round. I will continue to connect with fellow writers, and as future giveaways and book tours pass by, I'll let you know of other giveaways you can join in on my blog. In the meantime, I hope you are all reflecting back on what went well with this year, and what needs improvement in the new year. If you haven't decided on a resolution, you've still got a day to come up with something, and start the new year off with a bang!

2012 is not only a leap year, but the year of the dragon in Chinese tradition. I hope you have a wonderful and prosperous New Year, and I'll see you back here when we'll have to concentrate a bit to stop writing 2011, and start writing 2012 on everything.

There are a huge stack of great books coming out, my TBR pile is massive, and I'm writing and editing like a maniac. So, let's get ready to rock 2012. Are you with me?

Oh, yeah, and the winner of the giveaway, an autographed copy of SUMMER ON FIRE by Kevin Craig was Amber Rose of Oregon. I used to choose the winner. Here is her comment below:

[Vampyre Princess] said...

I want to enter! :) Awesome giveaway!


Congratulations, Amber! I'm so glad you participated and won. Thank you to all of the participants. I look forward to many more giveaways in 2012. Until then, stay safe, healthy, and fortify yourselves by reading lots of books, and writing them if you dare.

I know I will! If you'd like to share your New Year's Resolution, please feel free to post them in the comments.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Dozen Best YA Books of 2011 & My New Year's Resolution

This final week of 2011 is devoted to reflecting back on the year I wrote my first novel, revised it 7 full times (cover to cover--currently on ch 21/45 of the 8th full revision), and began writing a new sci-fi dystopian book with series potential.

I have also started and maintained social networking to begin the base of a writer's platform for myself as I strive to make 2012 the year I achieve agent representation, my first published book contract, and hopefully a career as a person fiercely devoted to the craft of writing.

As I have tinkered with this and my New Year's resolution, I came up with a list of a dozen YA books I've read this year that were my top choices. This is not a scientific list.


I have not placed numbers on this list on purpose. These are roughly ranked but not exactly. I liked many of these books equally next to other books in this list. They are seperated by the author who wrote them. They are are marvelous books you should read. I know I am better for having read them.

As for my New Year's resolution, this is what I have come up with:

To be a better writer today than I was yesterday. To write and read something every day until my book arrives!

This means that 2012 will be devoted to the following things to achieve this resolution. Since 2012 is a leap year, I've got 366 days to make this goal a reality. And, in fact, it's what I wanted for Christmas, too! I got 2 writing books to help with this:

Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman

Here's a list of things I intend to do to attain my goals and resolutions as a writer. I am determined to be a lifelong learner, to educate myself daily in the writer's craft and to strive to reach higher with every day:
  • Organize my schedule to ensure that I am reading, writing, and revising on a regular basis.
  • Scheduling at least 2 Writer Workshops to improve my writing. Attend the workshop and pour myself into each part to get the most out of the workshop.
  • Complete a deconstruct of my first novel and use it to learn what a book is missing after having completed 8 cover to cover revisions on my own. Use this knowledge to help me as I write my current WIP.
  • Complete my current WIP with tighter, more purposeful revisions to get it query ready before my summer birthday.
  • Set apart writing time for blogging, twittering, Facebooking for the purpose of growing my audience and writer platform (not to just kill time in front of the computer).
  • Support fellow writers, get to know them better, cheer them on for writing achievements, publications, and with contests and giveaways.
  • Conclude that at the end of 2012, I am recognizably, measurably a better writer than the writer I am right now.
  • Never give up my dream of finding the very best agent to represent me and my books, and never give up on writing the very best book I can write, and finding a publisher who believes in my books more than I do.
  • Meet my readers and offer them a reachable writer who responds to every inquiry. Remain thankful for the privilege of sharing my books with readers.

What would you add to this list or take away from this list if you used it as a starting point for your own goals in 2012? Please post your thoughts in the comments below.

Finish well. Make every day count. As you lay your head on your pillow each night, only do so if you've accomplished something toward your goals. Sleep well, and do it again the next day!

Write on! Rock on! Let's Do This!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Giveaway #3: And the Winner is...

Merry Christmas Eve Eve! The holidays are in full swing, decorations are out, cookies are being consumed way too quickly (confession time) and we're all in a shopping/wrapping frenzy in preparation. During all the craziness, try to slow down, spend time peacefully looking at the lights, listening to music, and remembering what it's really all about.

Love. Peace. Joy.

Keep that focus and try not to let every jerk driver who cuts you off and blares their horn, or annoying slow shopper in front of you while you're dragging your boys to go shop for mommy in all the chaos with a 20 minute window to make it through the store get you to lose that focus.

It's not about that stuff. It's about a precious gift and one that's eternal. It's about love. The most important thing of all. So, thank you for sharing the holidays with me. Thank you for participating in my giveaways, reviews of great YA books out there, and even about my own writing and projects in the works. I appreciate each and every one of you. Thank you. Sincerely. Thank you!

I know I've stalled long enough, so let's get to the important part, the reason you came by: Who won the autographed ARC of DESTINED by Jessie Harrell? I used to select a winner, knowing that Jessie herself posted among the comments. I figured, I'd let the numbers stand as they are, and if I drew #2, I would draw again. Thank you VERY much to Jessie Harrell for being such a giver to her readers. She said she was excited to get another book in the hands of her readers. So, here is the winner:

Victoria said...

Just added it to my goodreads! I hope I win! ;)

Congratulations, Victoria. Please get me your address and Jessie herself will send you an autographed ARC, one of the last in existence! Enjoy it. I know I loved the story, and I hope Jessie will find inspiration to write another amazing book for us in 2012. (Hint, hint, Jessie! That was a throwdown, FYI!)

I know I've got to finish my lastest revision on my WIP and hammer out my new book/series. And, I've got a short story to finish as well, so I will be plenty busy myself in 2012. What do you all have planned? Feel free to share in the comments below! Let's do it together!

I hope you'll take a moment and look around the blog for interviews, excerpts, and other giveaways. I currently have one more giveaway running. So, if you weren't selected, maybe you can enter my last giveaway of the year and warm up your Winter Solstice...

Until the new year, Have a blessed holiday, Christmas, Hannukkah, and a wonderful and glorious New Year full of amazing possibilities and dreams!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Giveaway #4: Winter Solstice Summer On Fire!

It's the first day of Winter Solstice! Only 88 days left until spring. Can you feel those buds shimmering inside their branches, humming in anticipation of spring? Well, if not, it'll come soon enough. Seasons change. Time moves irrevocably forward, and waits for no man or woman...

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Right now, I've got one giveaway ending at 9 p.m. EST for Jessie Harrell's amaZING debut, DESTINED, a YA fresh take on the Eros and Psyche Greek love story. If you haven't posted a comment to be entered, click here now!

And, starting today and running through next Thursday at 9 p.m. EST, Kevin Craig offers us his debut novel, a NaNoWriMo success story you will LOVE called, SUMMER ON FIRE. See how I did that with my blog title? Nice tie-in! It was all staged. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. These aren't the droids you're looking for...

Where was I?

Oh, right! Kevin has kindly offered to giveaway one autographed copy of this Stand By Me -esque story of three friends and all the trouble surrounding a barn fire that tests the bonds of friendship, loyalty, and the secrets found in small towns. You'll love how the story unravels as Kevin expertly weaves the story together and peels it back layer by layer. His characters are gripping and tenacious. You will fall in love with this story. It's so full of honest and vulnerable storytelling. If you want to see my 5/5 star review, click here.

Giveaway #4:
Summer on Fire by Kevin Craig (Begins Thursday, December 22nd)
Ends Thursday, December 29 at 9 p.m. EST
Winner Announced Friday, December 30th on the blog.

HOW CAN I ENTER? Post a comment at the bottom of this thread to be entered to win!

To learn more about Kevin and the various projects he's working on, including his second book currently in the process of publication, visit his blog here and his website here. If you don't already follow Kevin on Twitter, you can do so here. And, if you're on Goodreads, find Kevin here.

With such a scorching hot giveaway as SUMMER ON FIRE, you'll soon feel those buds stirring to burst forth from their branches, even in the cold of winter. Even at the beginning of Winter Solstice!

Stay warm! Eat a few cookies! Happy Hannukkah! Merry Christmas! Peace and Joy to you all this season and in the New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Giveaway #2: HUNTED by Cheryl Rainfield, And the Winner is...

We are on the cusp of Winter Solstice, where my third giveaway ends, one you won't want to miss. If you haven't already added a comment, make sure you do before you leave here. Also, yesterday was the beginning of Hannukkah, so I want to wish all of my Jewish friends HAPPY HANNUKKAH! I love this time of year with the festival of lights and Christmas lights--everything is illuminated!

And let's not forget about the cookies! My wife and I and our four boys made dozens and dozens of cookies. We have many family traditions, especially at this time of year. We also decorated gingerbread houses together. When I was young, I didn't have all of these traditions, but now that I have a family of my own, I'm blessed to share these things and begin my own traditions with my loved ones. I hope all of you have such traditions, and if not, now's as good a time as any to begin something new!

I know, I know, you all aren't here to listen to me wax nostalgic about holiday lights and traditions. You want to know who won the autographed copy of HUNTED by Cheryl Rainfield. I used to select my winner and the winner is:

VanillaOrchids said...

I have not had the chance to read any dystopian style books but I've been seeing a lot about them online. And, of course, I'd love to read some. So thank you for this opportunity!

Pam, please check your email and send me your mailing address, and I will get that out to you as soon as I receive it from Cheryl. I have also let Cheryl know, and she may opt to send it to you directly. For those of you on twitter, you may have followed Cheryl's amazing giveaway party throughout the day where she gave away amazing prizes to those posting the hashtag: #HUNTED. If you missed out, there's still more partying going on at Cheryl's blog, including:

If you missed my Twitter contest yesterday, you can still enter on my blog to win signed books, a Kindle, and more ! So, make sure you head over and sign up to win any of these exciting prizes. I have said it before, but Cheryl is an author who pours herself into the pages of every book she writes, and she is SO giving to her readers! If you haven't read my interview with her yet, check it out here. She really knows how to celebrate the launch of a book, and I admire her so much for her example. Party on, Cheryl! Celebrate the beauty of taking what was ashes and polishing it until it shines and twinkles in the holiday lights! It's a celebration full of meaning and one well worth the effort and the payoff. It's why every page of your writing glitters with its own internal light.

Tomorrow another giveaway ends, but a new one begins! Check back here for more news! And, if you haven't read the excerpt from Chapter 1 of my book, THE PACKING HOUSE, check it out here and post a comment. Authors love to hear feedback! It's what every writer wants for Christmas.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah, and wishing you all an amaZING New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

My interview with YA Author Cheryl Rainfield

Greetings to all my blog readers. I hope you're knee deep in holiday cookies, decorating and final touches on gift shopping for your loved ones. I know I am! I'm also loving all of these giveaways I've been so blessed and honored to host on my blog from such amazingly talented writers as Barry Lyga, Cheryl Rainfield, Jessie Harrell and coming up, another surprise this Thursday!
It's also WINTER SOLTICE, so get ready, the first offical day of winter arrives this week.
As promised, I have received answers for my Interview with Cheryl Rainfield, author of HUNTED, SCARS and other books. Cheryl provided amazingly intimate and thorough answers to my questions, and I think we're all in for a treat, so let's get to the interview.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?

Hm. It depends where I am in a book (and can also depend on how I'm doing emotionally). If I'm really into a draft (writing or editing it), I may start writing in the morning, after I take my dog out and have breakfast. But often, I'll find myself answering emails and doing some book promotion in the mornings, and then get writing or editing done later on. I've found that the amount of time I have to spend on book promotion is much, much more than I ever thought it'd be before I got published; it takes up as much or more time than my writing. But right now it feels important to me--I want my books to keep reaching people.

Since I work at home and for myself, I tend to work all day and into the evening--something I've got to try to change a bit, because I can wear myself out and then need a real break. Though I've always worked like that....

 Do you have a daily word count goal? If so, how many words per day?

I don't work like that. I know many writers do. If I have any goal in my head, I may think 10-20 pages of writing or editing. But my focus, when I'm writing, is on letting the words flow, staying connected to my inner voice and to the characters and story. I have days where I don't write. I even take weeks off, or longer--it's just how I've always worked, and for me the time off helps me recharge (or sometimes it's just because abuse memories or the effects of the abuse are overwhelming me)--and then I'll dive back in and write like crazy. It's how I work best, personally. I think it's important for each of us as writers to find the way that works best for us.

How do you edit a WIP (Work In Progress)? Do you revise cover to cover? Do you target specific things? (adverbs, passive voice, dialogue, etc.)

I do multiple edits. Initially, it's more of a general edit--trying to make sure that the story is working, flowing, and looking for all the places where I need to pull threads through more consistently in the novel, need to fix areas, address issues mentioned in various places in the book, etc. Then I'll often do passes for separate issues, like one specific thread I'm making sure runs throughout the book, or making sure I have setting and physical description (which I usually leave out in my initial drafts; I'm far more focused on the emotional experience for the characters), or trying to make sure my language feels alive. I also do at least one complete read aloud of the entire manuscript; I've found that reading writing aloud helps me to hear when the language isn't flowing, when it's stilted, when something feels off, in a way that I don't get when I just read it silently.

I make notes to myself as I edit. I also can't seem to turn off my editor when I'm editing, even for one specific thing, so I'll often edit many smaller things on top of the one issue as I go, like the language and word choice--making it stronger or more vibrant, or more clear. I usually do many, many edits of the entire manuscript. For SCARS, I did more than 40 before it was accepted. For HUNTED, I did about 14 before it was accepted. For my next book, I did about 12 before it was accepted. So I think I'm getting better...but I think I'll probably always do multiple edits. It's important to me to make sure my writing is as powerful as I can make it and that it reaches the reader, moves them.

How do you find/create a character? Do you hear their voice while you're writing, or even between writing? At what point do you know you've found your character for sure?

I draw a lot on my own self and my own experiences, especially for the main character; there is SO much of me in both Kendra (from SCARS) and Caitlyn (from HUNTED). I also draw on people I know; I take bits and pieces of people, and the emotional truths that I've observed, and put them into characters. I think because I write with a lot of emotion and emotional truths, that's the way characters come for me--through their emotions, their hopes and dreams, things they need--and yes, their voices. I hear them best when I'm writing.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Writing a new story (I hope!)? Can you tell us any specifics? Do you have plans already?

I hope with many books published by then, and still writing many more books. And I hope my books will reach even more people, and keep moving people, touching them emotionally. I have another book coming out in 2013 (another edgy realistic stand alone), and hopefully there'll be many others as well. I have more books that I'd like to write in the HUNTED world--both from Caitlyn's perspective, and possibly from some other paras' perspectives, even ones not in HUNTED. And I have many, many other books I want and need to write. I went through such extreme trauma (abuse and torture within ritual abuse) that I think I have a lot to draw on, and a lot I need to write about. I think, I hope, that I'll always be writing.

Would you like to see any of your books as a movie? If so, which ones? Why? Would you like to be involved in the process? How so?

I would love to see HUNTED as a movie. I think it has a lot of potential for the screen; it has a lot of tension, a character that overcomes huge odds, and a lot of hope in the end. I've thought of SCARS as a movie, too, but I'm a bit more reluctant to see that as a movie, because I wouldn't want anyone to sensationalize the self-harm. But if it was done well, it could help more people understand about self-harm.... I'd love to be consulted about movies made out of my books. (smiling) I don't think that happens very often, though. But who knows; it could! I can dream. :)

Thank you so very much, Cheryl for your articulate and personal interview. You give so much of yourself to your readers and fans, and I think you clearly delivered on that here in this interview. I'm blown away by your answers and definitely will consider them in light of my own writing habits. You've got great tips for up and coming writers. Thank you for agreeing to this interview.

I know I can't wait to see what this new book is you have coming in 2013! I'll be watching to add it to my Goodreads TBR pile for sure! If you'd like to know more about Cheryl Rainfield, please see her details below, and go check out all of her sites on the links below.

If this blog post has inspired you to ask Cheryl a question, I invite you to ask her here, and who knows? She might even stop by and answer you here in the comments below!

Cheryl Rainfield is the Author of:

Hunted (WestSide Books, Dec 15, 2011, F&W Canada, Jan 2012)
Caitlyn, a telepath on the run from government troopers, must choose between saving herself or saving the world
Read the first 6 pages:
Get fr-e-e HUNTED goodies:
Scars (WestSide Books, 2010)
Kendra must face her past and stop hurting herself before it's too late
GG Literary Award Finalist, ALA's Top 10 Quick Picks, 2011 Rainbow List
Twitter WordPress Google Plus Facebook goodreads

Thursday, December 15, 2011

And the Results Are In: Giveaway #1 Winner Is...

I had hoped for a greater turnout on my first blog giveaway, but I am glad it was at least a 50/50 battle. I used to obtain the results and the winner is: Mike Hays!

Congratulations, Mike! Please email me at: with your mailing address and I will get that shipped out to you, hopefully in time for Christmas! Also, if you haven't read The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, well, now you've got a compelling reason to do so! Enjoy the autographed book, and please come back to share your comments once you've received it and/or read it!

For those of you who missed it, here's what Mike said in his comment:

Mike Hays said... highlighted these books and Barry Lyga a while back and I have him on the TBR list. Great contest!

Thank you to all who entered, and if you didn't win, I hope you'll take a few minutes and check out the other contests that are still open on the blog. Just click the logo at the top to find my most current blog posts. In fact, I'll be posting a new giveaway starting next week, so be sure to check back for that!

Have a Great Weekend!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Autographed YA Giveaway #3 is Here!

If you've been following my blog over the past few weeks, you've noticed I have several giveaways going on simultaneously. We're in the season of giving, after all, and it's better to give than receive. Plus, I am so blessed to know many amazing writers in the YA world and I am happy to share their autographed YA giveaways with you. Writers themselves are amazing. They pour their heart and soul into a novel, and then they give it away! Who else does that?

Okay, so before I give you this week's giveaway, I've got a rundown of my first two giveaways with links to enter before they end and you're left out in the cold without a name in the hat or a chance to win. My first giveaway times out today, so don't wait, hurry up and get in on the drawing before it's too late!

Here's a rundown (click on the link to go to the related post and enter now. Just post a comment to be entered to win.):

Giveaway #1:
Goth Girl Rising by Barry Lyga
Ends Wednesday, December 14 at 9 p.m. EST
Winner Announced Thursday, December 15th on the blog.

Giveaway #2:
Hunted by Cheryl Rainfield
Ends Tuesday, December 20 at 9 p.m. EST
Winner Announced Wednesday, December 21 on the blog.

Now onto today's giveaway. I've already featured this on my blog. You can read about that here. Also, I have reviewed the book on Goodreads here. Check out my review to learn more about this amazing book. I was surprised how much I liked it, since I figured it was a "girly" story. My son, Trenton says "girl" as if it rhymes with squirrel. So, I would say it's too gwirrely! Ha! (watch out, I'm using exclamations with abandon!) My point is: I was wrong. (Just don't tell my wife. She'll tease me mercilessly!) What's cool about this story is it appeals to males from the quest aspect of the storyline. Also, Jessie incorporates many twists and turns and the Greek mythology is cool, as well. Anyone here seen 300? Read the graphic novel? But, I digress...

Giveaway #3:
ARC of Destined by Jessie Harrell (Begins Wednesday, December 14th)
Ends Thursday, December 22 at 9 p.m. EST (the beginning of Winter Solstice)
Winner Announced Friday, December 23 on the blog.

In order to be considered for the drawing next Friday, you'll need to add a comment at the bottom of this post. That is all. Easy, huh? Jessie is mailing this prize herself (saving me postage...thank you, Jessie! You Rock!!) so you never know what might go in the package along with the ARC. Heck, I don't even have a hard copy. Mine is in electronic format.

Jessie's debut novel, DESTINED, is a great read and if you don't have it on your TBR list/pile/mountain, then hurry up and add it! Jessie's book has been burning up several of Amazon's bestseller lists already and it only came out November 17th, not quite a month ago. Way to go, Jessie! If you don't already follow Jessie Harrell on Twitter, follow her here:!/JessieHarrell and if you aren't already following Jessie's blog (what, are you crazy?) you can follow her blog here:

So, what's on the list for an autographed YA giveaway next week? Check back here and find out. Of course, you'll want to do that anyway to find out if you've won Giveaway # 1, #2 or #3.

I appreciate you visiting my blog and I hope you'll take a moment and look around. You'll find out lots of information about my first novel, THE PACKING HOUSE, as well as my current WIP I started with NaNoWriMo. If you'd like to read my first chapter, click the link in the upper right corner of my blog. If you don't have dropbox, it may not work for you. In that case, please email me at: g.donaldcribbs@yahoo and I'll send it to you directly as a .pdf. If you do read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts, good or bad. I want it to be the best debut I can muster, and I still have time to revise! Feel free to follow me on Twitter or Facebook as well for more updates and news on writing and such.

I wish everyone a Happy Holiday and a most wonderful New Year. I hope you'll keep writing and reading and I look forward to all the new year brings. Blessings!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Another Autographed YA Giveaway!!

In case one giveaway isn't enough for you this holiday season, in the spirit of giving (and seriously, what could be better than an autographed book?), I present to you another free, autographed YA book. After speaking with the author, I was so excited about this giveaway, I couldn't wait until my first giveaway was finished to post this one, even if they overlap. Call me crazy. Go ahead. I'm fine with that (besides, it says I'm WEIRD at the top of this blog, anyway).

If you're interested in increasing your chances, I suggest entering both contests by adding comments below each post. My first giveaway can be found here. To give you a hint about what book it is, I've already blogged about this book here, and I've given it a 5/5 starred review on Goodreads here.

All that is required to be entered to win is for you to post a comment on this thread.

This book comes with a lot of great freebies. Watch the book trailer, read the first six pages, check out comics and post cards and articles about her book. The author has them collected here. Once you've read the book, I'd suggest reading through all of these freebies, and downloading them as well. It will help as you salivate and wait until Book 2 comes out. Oops, I guess I let it slip! This is Book 1 of a series. Still haven't figured it out yet? Okay, okay, I'm getting to it! Go hold a horse or something.


This giveaway is an autographed copy of HUNTED by the amaZING Cheryl Rainfield, an exciting futuristic dystopian paranormal thriller about a girl named Caitlyn and her mother on the run from the government. Caitlyn has mental telepathy, reading people's thoughts, and she can suggest thoughts to others as well. The government hates anyone with paranormal powers, and calls them PARAs. The story is chock-full of fast-paced, cliffhanger chapters and I absolutely FLEW through it. My heart was pounding and I stayed up and read it as fast as I could get through it. My hands were sweaty and I was enthralled by this book. It's my first paranormal read, but I found it absolutely delicious. I think you will, too.

So, what are you waiting for? To coincide with the book's release on December 20th, I am beginning the contest now through 12/20/11 at 9 p.m. EST. I will randomly select one person who has posted a comment below. I will announce the winner on December 21, and send you your prize right away. I cannot guarantee a Christmas delivery, but I will do my very best. Cheryl is sending it to me as soon as she gets her copies. Trust me, it will be worth the wait!

If that wasn't exciting enough, I also interviewed Cheryl about her writing and will post it on my blog next week. In the meantime, check out several recent interviews at this link page. I feel so honored to know Cheryl, let alone having the privilege of giving away one of her autographed books. She's such a great person to know, and so supportive and thankful and humble to her fans. We are fortunate to know her. She is one of those rare people that makes the world an all around nicer place to be. I have learned much from Cheryl and I am grateful for her friendship.

If I haven't provided a link to something related to Cheryl Rainfield, check out her website here:

I welcome your comments below. I hope you will take the time to enter both contests, and I hope you'll check back for more great news and giveaways in the future. Happy reading!

Speaking of reading, if you haven't read the first chapter of The Packing House, it's posted in the upper right corner of my blog. Email me if you have any trouble viewing it and I will send a copy to you right away. My email is: I welcome your feedback as well.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You Could Win This Autographed YA Giveaway!!

December has crept upon us; it's GIVEAWAY time!! I love this time of year. Everyone brings out their best (moreso in person, less when behind the wheel of a car...) Lights cover everything, and in the book world, there are TONS of giveaways.


So, today, in the spirit of giving, I ask you to consider the amazing writing range of Barry Lyga. I have read three of his books in the last year, and am anxiously awaiting several more in my TBR pile. On Barry's webpage ( he posted an offer to bloggers like me to receive GIVEAWAY books to share as prizes. This is all part of Barry's Blogger Book Bonus. What I love about this is he is supporting bloggers, readers and writers all at the same time. Please show your love for awesome authors who go above and beyond for their fanbase. I know I'm a FANBOY...

Speaking of FANBOY reminds me of my two Goodreads reviews on Barry's THE ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF FANBOY AND GOTH GIRL (read my review here), and GOTH GIRL RISING (read my review here). Surprisingly, or maybe astonishingly, I gave both 5 of 5 stars. They are truly that good! If you are on twitter and haven't yet followed Barry, add him here:!/barrylyga

Okay, okay, so the GIVEAWAY is an autographed copy of GOTH GIRL RISING and a couple post cards from Barry's books. How cool is that? Okay, so here are the requirements to be entered to win:

1. You must post a comment below. Tell me why you'd like to win this book, or what is it about the books that intrigues you, or whether you've read the first book. Any comment. No rules. No requirements. Apparently, being creative with the contest is too much work. Keep It Simple, Stupid (I'm directing that at myself).

2. The contest will run until December 14, 2011 9 p.m. EST. I will choose a random winner from those entrants who have met all the requirements to be considered for the GIVEAWAY prize, and I wish you all the best of luck! I'm looking forward to the entries!

While you're here, I hope you'll poke around my blog and learn a bit more about me and my first book, THE PACKING HOUSE, as well as future and upcoming projects I'm working on. Feel free to email me or comment about what you like or don't like, and I look forward to hearing from you! If you'd like to read an excerpt from THE PACKING HOUSE, click on the link in the upper right corner of the blog and read Chapter 1. If you are unable to read it (because you don't have Dropbox) email me and I'll send you the first chapter. When you do read it, I'd love to hear your feedback. You can email me at:

Check back here on December 15th when I announce the winner of the GIVEAWAY!! And, if you need something to do while you wait, go read THE ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF FANBOY AND GOTH GIRL (if you haven't already).

P.S. I've got another autographed Giveaway coming this week. Watch for it!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A YA Book Giveaway coming tomorrow!

How would you like to WIN a free autographed YA book? Well, get ready. Tomorrow, I've got a blog post for you that will knock your socks off! I will be reviewing two books by this author, and giving a signed copy of his amazing book (to be revealed tomorrow). All you need to do is follow this blog and get ready to answer the contest question. The blog goes up tomorrow.

p.s. There's lots of BLUE on the cover. It's the sequel to another YA book I also love, and you should read them both!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Author Update: When Personal Life Affects Your Writing

This blog post is a little unusual, so please bear with me. I began November with gusto, and have an exciting WIP I am writing, or was writing, or started and fizzled out on, and completely choked and now I'm not going to finish #NaNoWriMo (NationalNovelWritingMonth). My sincere apologies to #NaNoWriMo. I have failed.

Okay, now onto the excuse part of today's post.

I have a good reason for fizzling out, and it occurred to me, it might also happen to other writers out there and you might be feeling a bit lost, a bit off, a bit dried out, and a bit alone. Well, I'm here to tell you, you're not alone. Something happened in my personal life that has caused my writing to take a huge hiatus.

My mother passed away unexpectedly.

I know, I know, you're sorry to hear that, you wish me well, and all that nicey nicey stuff. Thank you. Sincerely, thank you. I mean it: Thank. You. Okay, okay, so let's move on. What do you do when this happens? Well, you give yourself some slack. You let things happen when they happen, and when they don't you "refill the writerly well of creativity and thought." At least, that's what I'm doing. I'm also spending a bit more time than usual with family and friends. It helps with the sense of being alone. That's especially difficult when you lose a parent (for those of you who haven't experienced this yet).

So, what does that look like? Well, for me, it means I'm attacking my TBR (To Be Read) pile a bit more voraciously, and loving that part. I'm giving myself permission to be a bit less on top of my blog and my social media platform building routine and I'm just listening to the quiet parts of myself and taking time to process this loss. It's a huge one. Trust me. I don't wish this on any of you. Don't get me started with all that was involved in taking care of things related to my mother's passing. Suffice it to say, it hasn't been easy, and a lot has been asked of me, and I did what was asked, and now that it's over, I can breathe and fill the well, and look forward to the time when I can take up the keyboard and write again.

I stalled out on my book, but my characters are still tapping my shoulder, asking me to continue, and ideas are still percolating in my mind. I don't think I'll be away for too long, but I'm giving myself permission to be away as long as necessary. Grieving takes time. Also, I have a non-fiction project I could start and allow myself to be busy with that, while I wait for the creativity to flow again.

Each of you may handle something like this differently, and that's okay. Seriously. Lighten up and don't beat yourself up for not being "productive" enough. Just step back and let the creative well be filled and let yourself have some time to process. I know it's helping me.

The flip side is also true: If you are hard on yourself and you do try to make yourself work, you'll probably get a big pile of poo on the page/screen and toss it out later anyway. If that is what you need to do to see or understand, then by all means, give it a go.

I wish you all the best this holiday season, and I hope you spend time with family, friends and loved ones. Be thankful for who you have in your life, and fill the well. When your well starts to overflow again, then it's probably time to get back to writing.

I welcome your thoughts, comments and feedback on this, and I hope you'll follow the blog and keep coming back, too. If you still feel it's necessary to offer your condolences, feel free. At least I'll get some comments on this blog post!

Also, if you haven't read chapter 1 of THE PACKING HOUSE, it's at the top right corner of this blog, and you can email me at or post your feedback in the comments section. I'm not fishing for pats on the back, just serious comments on what you liked, didn't like, and anything that could help me improve the writing would be a HUGE BLESSING to me. And, if you want to read more, that would make my millenium. Go ahead, tell me you want more. I dare you!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friend Friday: 2 Reviews on 2 Great Books You Should Read!

Continuing my Friend Friday Feature, I'd like to share with you two great books I've recently read and reviewed on Goodreads. One is currently available, and another is yet to be published. (Last time, both were as yet unpublished. If you'd like to read about DESTINED by Jessie Harrell and HUNTED by Cheryl Rainfield, read more here.) Since my To Be Read pile is long and never ending, I am sure to have future posts like this for you to keep up with all the great books out there. I hope you'll keep coming back to see what other books I've read, what I think about them, and you'll read them, too! See? It's an all around win.

The first book, SUMMER ON FIRE by Kevin Craig is a great read, and a quick one. That's because it's on the shorter side for a book. However, it's short for a timely reason: it was a product of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which happens every November. See? Yet another example of a NaNoWriMo project that has been published. This was published June 30th, so you can read it NOW! Go ahead and click on my GoodReads 5/5 star review, and while you're there, add it to your To Read pile. You can find my review here.

Next on the list is THE RIVALS by Daisy Whitney. This is the sequel to Daisy's debut novel, THE MOCKINGBIRDS which is also a great read. I was a fortunate recipient of an ARC of THE RIVALS so I got to read it early. I know, I know, you're jealous. But, trust me, it's worth the wait, and I'd recommend you to read BOTH books to get the full impact.  I've also reviewed THE RIVALS at GoodReads with a 5/5 stars rating. I sure have a lot of those. But, I also read the BEST books out there, so you should keep that in mind. Don't worry, I'll judge each book on its own merits. I don't just give those away. So don't see these reviews as flattery. Each one is earned. These writers ROCK. But, see for yourselves and go read my review of THE RIVALS here. THE RIVALS is slated for a February 6, 2012 publication date (subject to change).

There you have it. 2 new books you've got to go read NOW. Before you go, please share in the comments what books you've read recently and if I haven't read them, maybe I'll add them to my ginormous To Read Pile. Have a great weekend, and keep coming back for more book reviews! If you like (or don't like) this feature on my blog, I'd appreciate your comment below.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

If My Blog Seems out of date, blame it on NaNoWriMo!

If you're new to the writer phenomenon currently underway around the globe, it's National Novel Writing Month. Crawl out from under your rock and join us as we race through the month of November, trying to complete the challenge of writing 1667 words per day to complete the coup de grĂ¢ce (literally, death blow) of 50,000 words of a novel by month end. This is no small feat.

This year, I am participating for the first time. And, for those of you wondering, I am not in the "Must Finish This Race and get all 50K words" camp. Rather, I'm on the "I'll go as far as I can and rejoice in the words I have toward a completed novel by the end of the month, and enjoy the writerly companionship along the way" camp.  So, I hope you will consider joining me (yes, there's still time for a late start) and about 100,000+ others as we write our way through November.

Since I'm working on this new book, I thought I'd share a bit of what I am writing about. My first book, THE PACKING HOUSE, is a YA contemp. If you'd like to see more, dig around in the blog here, or read chapter one in the upper right corner. If you do read it, I'd love to know what you think. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.  My current WIP is a dystopian sci-fi novel with series potential. I have sketched out a four book series, similar to Madeline L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time Quartet (info here), or Scott Westerfeld's Uglies Series (info here).

Here's a quick blurb:


First of a Quartet Dystopian Sci-Fi YA novel, where fraternal twin Brea Carmichael begins hearing from her captured twin brother Brian through idioglossia/cryptophasia twin-speak, uncovering a government secret in a society where there is no disease or disability. Those with diseases and disabilities are considered Outcast, and a threat to the purity of the perfect society. The story begins on Brea's birthday, which she hates...


          I hate my birthday.
          Every year it plagues me with its incessant need to make me older. It reminds me of my impending death. For a fourteen-year-old I guess that’s pretty grim to say, but I can’t help it.
          It’s because of him.
          I can’t get his voice out of my head, even though I haven’t heard it in person since we were born together. Every year it seems I hear him more insistent like a conversation I can’t get away from. It keeps playing over and over in my mind, a dark mirror reflecting back toward me. Maybe I’m crazy.
         Two things I am certain of: we were both born nearly fifteen years ago, and so far, only one of us has died. This means I’m next. It could come at any time.
         I punch a series of commands on the iHome control panel and stare into the mirror’s hard surface. The lines on my face gouge the surface of my skin under the strong light that clicks on in response to my commands. I hope it’s just the wattage. My reflection stares back at me, eyes reflexively scrunching beneath the intense light. I take a deep breath and try to relax as several mechanical arms move swiftly in to mist, curl and dry my hair, completing the programmed instructions.
        There’s no better way to deal with this than jamming to some tunes. I revert to my iBracelet so the music can travel with me. Flicking my wrist with two sharp waves in the air, I wait for the iPad to appear, hovering as usual beneath my waiting hand. I punch in my username and password and pause for the login to complete.
        Once the app loads the room is suddenly filled with my favorite song, a thumping tune from my playlist, pounding out the angry theme song my taste in music seems to echo. I can’t help but join in, hands keeping the staccato beat of the drums, head rocking to the thrum of the bass. Good thing the hair controls can’t get pissed at me.
        Today’s a day for more volume. I allow myself a few moments, giving my body over to the music that touches a chord somewhere deep and soul-reaching. I know damn well it won’t drown out his voice that comes rushing in right on cue like a discordant tune railing hard against the one I’m jamming with. I try anyway. After all, it’s my birthday. Or should I say our birthday?
        I’ve never been good at lying.
        Especially with myself. It’s hard to look in the mirror and ignore what I plainly see in front of my face. Coupled with the last few measures of my favorite tune, his is one that clashes, yet holds layers that are familiar and entwined with mine. I can’t get away from his voice because it’s so close to my own, a syncopated rhythm woven indelibly with my own.
         Bree. C’mon. Stop ignoring me. Would you deny your own brother? It sucks, but it’s my birthday, too. I need your help to get out of here.
         I look away from the mirror so I don’t have to see what’s sliding hotly down my face. Pathetic. Why do I let it get to me like that? I played right into it.
         Well, no more.
         While I’m already logged in I shoot a quick text to Margaux my best friend, the only one I’ve told about the voice I keep hearing every birthday.
          I heard him again. Meet me at our spot. God, I hate my birthday.
         I wipe my face on my sleeves, flick my wrist to log off, and head to the kitchen for some form of breakfast. My parents are still sleeping. Most parents let the iHome take care of such mundane needs. I’d rather not let them see my like this. I type in my usual request, steak and eggs on a toasted bagel. It’s portable and fills me, both of which I need right now. I’m late.
          One of these years I’ll figure out how to keep up with technology. It’s supposed to work with you, right? Either I’m completely stupid, or ignorant enough to lag behind everyone else.
          The smell of my breakfast makes me ravenous. I wolf down every morsel in a matter of minutes, steak juices dripping down my fingers. I lick those as well. I decide I’d rather eat it here, before stepping through the teleporter. I hate the taste of food after its particles have been sent through one of those. It’s unnatural. Margaux texts me back.
          Oh, Brea. So sorry! Hugs. Margaux.
          After washing and sterilizing my hands at the sink, I step onto the circle of the teleporter and use the remote app on my iBracelet to send me to the receiving area at the front of our school. Margaux’s already at our spot in the gardens, arms crossed until she sees me stepping off an identical round pad. Other students beam in; at least I’m not the only one late.

Happy writing to you all! I'd love to hear what you've got in the works, even if you're not participating in NaNoWriMo. Write something anyway, and tap into the creative vibe floating around us all. Oh, and thanks for your patience as I play blog catch up.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ava Jae: Writerly Blogger Extraordinaire! (Friday Follow)

     A few weeks back, I posted about the top five bloggers to influence me. This list is always changing for me, but if you haven't read it, you should, and you should follow ALL OF THEM! Do yourself a favor and follow these fellow writers and their blogs because they are filled with awesome and win.  Today, I'd like to follow up on and highlight one of these special blogger/writers, Avalon Jaedra. If you don't follow her twitter, you should rectify that as well: @Ava_Jae.

     While I have written for years, I didn't seriously pick up the writer pen until about a year ago. I started a twitter account and befriended Ava. We even swapped chapters of our WIP and did our best to help one another improve what we had written.  I also started following Ava's blog. I have not stopped following this information since. I could argue every post is filled with something for every writer to take away with them. That's rare to find. I know I've grown as a writer, and a blogger because of advice and points Ava has posted weekly.

     Another important factor in suggesting Ava to you is how supportive and encouraging she is. Any time I have asked her a question, she has tried her level best to reply to me and offer any support or help she can. Writing can be a lonely profession. It's easy to get isolated in the island of your WIP and lost in the boat of editing, waves chopping hard against you. And, from around the corner, you can trust Ava to fire her *Confetti Cannon* to cheer you on.

     So, RUN, don't walk to WRITABILITY, Ava's awesomesauce blog on writing tips, tricks and thoughts from one writer to cyberspace every M,W&F (another great tip I took/borrowed/okay I totally stole it from Ava Jae!):

     What do you like about Ava's blog? Or about Ava herself? Post your comments below.

Friday, October 14, 2011

An Idea With YA & Classic Literature (Friday Reads)

     When I first read the Young Adult Novel, Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, it literally took my breath away. The writing was fresh, edgy and visceral at times. I found my stomach in knots nearly the entire time I was reading. When I came to my senses again, and after much thought, I began writing lesson plans to teach this novel in my classroom.

     It is my belief that novels like Speak create bridges or windows to classic literature, and should be used as a vehicle to get our students to tackle the more challenging works of literature.

     Having said that, I immediately come to the defense of Young Adult Literature, a genre of writing that has really taken off in recent history, and one, I would argue, attains a level of sophistication that would rival even the pillars of classic literature being taught in today's middle and senior high classrooms.

     One of my goals as I read amazing examples of Young Adult Literature is to pair them with the literature typically taught in American schools. Many of the works of classic literature have become dusty, stale, and dried out. Few students believe they have anything to say to them, and would benefit from finding new inroads, such as found in Young Adult Literature. Therefore, I am taking the challenge upon myself to find great examples of both classic literature and Young Adult Literature and pair them up so that my students can engage in reading again, and love the process along the way.

     What great pairings would you suggest? Speak easily pairs with Saliger's Catcher in the Rye or Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds pairs wonderfully with To Kill A Mockingbird. What pairs spring to mind for you between classic literature and YA novels?

Please post your ideas in the comments below.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Top 5 Writing Tips This Week (Writerly Wednesday)

     Around the blogosphere, I have gathered the Top 5 Writing Tips for the week.  Check out these great tips below and share your own in the comments section. Share the writerly love and strive to better yourself as a writing professional.

Many great quotes for writers, organized by topics we know all too well.
Essential characters for most stories and how to use them better.
I highly recommend this ENTIRE series of "Most Common Mistakes Writers Make Series."
Great practical advice from NYTimes Bestseller, Susan Mallery.
If your scenes seem forced, your characters come across like cardboard, or it just doesn't feel right, read this blog for great advice.

     And, there you have it. Five great resources of writerly advice to help all of us on our pathway to writing success. I'd love to hear any other suggestions you might have in your travels this week. Please share them here in the comments section for everyone's benefit.