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.