Friday, October 24, 2014

Another Downside To Not Keeping Up With Must-Read Books

If my To Read pile weren't scattered over several surfaces in several rooms, it would be taller than me. I can't keep up with all the must-read titles, so I'm always a few--many?--volumes behind. I try hard to avoid spoiler alert conversations about the books I plan to read, especially when those stories are being turned into movies. Toward the end of my reading of Gone Girl, as the plot twists were coming to light, I'd cover my ears, close my eyes, and shout ya-ya-ya when trailers came on TV. My family loved that, by the way.

The biggest downside to waiting to read the book too close to the movie: I can't stop myself from picturing the actor's face while reading.

I saw Ben Affleck's strong jaw all through Gone Girl. I kept wondering, is he that well-cast for the role of Nick Dunne, or have I been brainwashed after seeing those short teaser trailers months before at the movie theater?

Now I'm reading Olive Kitteridge before the HBO miniseries starts next week. Not only do I see Frances McDormand's face as Olive, I'm hearing her voice as I read. I adore McDormand's acting, but this is driving a little crazy!

I much prefer creating my own visualization of characters. No human will ever match The Thorn Birds' Father Ralph of my young teenage mind! Sigh. It's much more fun to be righteously indignant about casting--he's not my               !!!!--than to be constantly reminding yourself, it's Nick not Ben-freaking-Affleck!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Finally! I get to be a librarian!

For many years now, I've often wished that I'd become a librarian. One of my college work-study jobs was shelving books in the beautiful Penrose Library on Whitman College's campus, and I loved the quiet hours and discovering so many books about so many different things.

Okay, so, I have to admit that I harbor the misconception that librarians get to hang out at the checkout desk reading all day. Ssh! The one job where you don't get in trouble for reading! I know that's not how the job actually works, but wouldn't that be the best thing ever?

I've finally found a way to be a sort-of librarian: I put a Little Free Library in my yard!

The design was inspired by the red schoolhouse in Vermont where I learned to love reading. Now, I have so much fun watching neighborhood kids sprawled on my lawn paging through books. The other day I caught some YA-types carrying off armfuls of novels. I only wish more grownups would come… I feel sad that most adults read phones instead of books, but I'm still hopefully stocking my library with hot titles. Gone Girl, anyone?

If you've ever wanted to be a librarian, check out the Free Little Library movement:

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Advice & Giveaway with Holly Schindler

Please welcome guest blogger Holly Schindler today! 

What is your best advice for fellow writers?
For writers just starting out, I’d suggest you write every day. I know not all professional writers do. Some actually feel stymied by the pressure of putting something down on paper every single day, or meeting specific word count goals. But when you’re starting out, you don’t really know for sure what works for you. And because you’re also still trying to figure out who you are as a writer, the more time you get with your computer (or spiral notebook, etc.), the better off you are. Writing is like playing a sport or an instrument—the more you do it, the better you get at it. It takes practice.

For those who have gotten their toe in the door of the industry, my advice is the same I’m trying to heed myself right now: stay true to yourself. It’s pretty easy to do when you haven’t sold anything and it’s just you and your pages. But then you sell some work, and you get all these industry pros telling you who you are (and aren’t)…It gets hard to weed out the productive voices from those who are leading you down a path you shouldn’t necessarily take.  Remember who you are. Stick to it. Don’t let anyone else convince you otherwise.

What popular writing advice do you never follow?
“Write what you know.” Bah! If I only wrote about the places and things I was an expert in, those would be seriously dull books. I’d write about the same things over and over again…
Over the last few years, I’ve also noticed these sort of panicky rumors floating online among would-be published authors. Most of them are reasons why your work isn’t getting accepted: you’re adding two spaces at the end of your periods instead of one; you’re saving your work as a .docx file instead of .doc file. It’s just silly. If an agent or editor has trouble opening a file, they’ll ask you to resend. They don’t immediately reject it while laughing maniacally. 

Be you. Write good stuff. YOUR stuff. Your work will find the appropriate home.

Where do you do most of your writing?
I really love to work outside—either with my laptop on my back deck, or under a tree with my Alphasmart and my dog. But I live in Missouri, so this is really a weather-permitting kind of thing.  Through the hot and cold seasons, I spend quite a bit of time in my office. But staring at the same four walls can get really tiresome, so I also wind up moving throughout the house for a change of scenery.  Sometimes I find I can write to the TV, but often, it’s just too distracting. Most times, my dog Jake and I are working in some corner without any outside noise to bug us.

What’s the best book you’ve read lately on the craft of writing?
WIRED FOR STORY by Lisa Cron. Loved it so much I wrote a thank-you letter to the author. 

What’s the best book you’ve read for fun?
Usually it’s the last book I read. I got in the habit, when I was starting out, of picking out the one good thing I thought each author had to offer. Maybe it was good dialogue, or great scenic writing, or poetic phrases. And I’d think about how I could implement some of those things in my own work, in my own way. I still find myself doing that. Each book I read then becomes a way for me to become a better writer. And that always adds a new dimension of fun to reading…

FERAL jacket copy:

The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.

FERAL falls squarely into the realm of the classic psychological thriller.  While the book features mystery, horror, and paranormal elements, the emphasis is on the “psychological” rather than thriller / action.  The novel features a Hitchcockian pace and focus on character development (here, we’re exploring the inner workings of the main character, Claire Cain). 
Essentially, every aspect of FERAL is used to explore Claire’s inner workings—that even includes the wintry Ozarks setting.  The water metaphor is employed frequently in psychological thrillers to represent the subconscious, and in this instance is incorporated in the form of a brutal ice storm (that represents Claire’s “frozen” inner state).  The attempt to untangle what is real from what is unreal (another frequently-used aspect of the psychological thriller) also begins to highlight the extent to which Claire was hurt in that Chicago alley.  Even the explanation of the odd occurrences in the town of Peculiar offers an exploration into and portrait of Claire’s psyche. 
Ultimately, FERAL is a book about recovering from violence—that’s not just a lengthy or hard process; it’s a terrifying process, too.  The classic psychological thriller allowed me to explore that frightening process in detail. 

Holly Schindler Bio:
Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs). 

Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud.  Kirkus Reviews called THE JUNCTION “...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.” 

FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller.  Publishers Weekly gave FERAL a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A BLUE SO DARK…This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking…This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.”

Schindler encourages readers to get in touch.  Booksellers, librarians, and teachers can also contact her directly regarding Skype visits.  She can be reached at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com, and can also be found at,, @holly_schindler,, and

Please leave a comment to win a copy of Feral by Holly Schindler! Anywhere in the world!!!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Looking Up!

I'm back at my desk after a summer off. I loved spending lazy summer days with my brother's family visiting from Japan and soaking up every moment of my oldest daughter's last summer before college. I even went on a few field trips--like a day at the zoo--with my friend and her teenagers.

I feel refreshed after spending time with some of my favorite people on Earth, so I was happy when my 9th grader's English teacher's first assignment was all about social media's grasp on her student's lives. My daughter had to record her social media usage and write an essay about it (she's now deleted some of the apps on her phone). The unit started with this video poem:

A couple of hours after watching this video, I met a friend for lunch. She arrived ten minutes late, but I resisted the urge to pull my phone out of my purse. The folks waiting with me sat hunched staring at phones, which made them a little boring as far as people-watching goes, but I still enjoyed "looking up." I certainly get more ideas for stories when I'm engaged with the real world!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Blogging Elsewhere

I'm not doing much writing this summer, but I have started a new hobby. One I was too chicken to try for most of my life. You can read my post at YA Outside The Lines:

I'll be back with my own blog posts in September! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Blogging Elsewhere

I've been ignoring my blog--it's just one of those times in life. I'm happily soaking up the last few weeks of "raising" my first-born before she heads off to college. We're both relishing lazy summer days.

I even missed my regular posting date at YA Outside The Lines, but I wrote one today:

I'll be back to posting regularly in the fall, I promise!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Happy Book Birthday!

Please welcome Not A Doctor Logan's Divorce Book to the shelves! 

Writing this book came easy. I guess I'd been waiting all of my childhood to write this story. A few months later, the manuscript won first prize in the Utah Arts Council Original Writing Competition. But finding a home for an issue-driven book proved a lot more difficult. It's not the next Big Thing, but now this book can find the readers who need it, thanks to Character Publishing.

About The Book:

Until 107 days ago, eleven year old Logan had never heard of Dr. Donna's Divorce Book. Now Mom has Dr. Donna quotes stuck all over the house. It's up to Logan to put an end to all this nonsense and reunite her parents. In the meantime, she's writing her own self-help book called, "Not-A-Dr.-Logan's Divorce Book."

As time passes, Logan's attempts to make her parents fall back in love become more and more desperate. When acting out in school, calling a prayer hotline, and doing magic in the desert don't force her parents back together, Logan begins to accept that her family may never be the same. Learning to dive on a team and making a new best friend help her to cope with her parent's divorce, but will she ever truly be happy again? 

You can find it at:


Barnes & Noble

Book Depository


Leave a comment to win one of five copies--open to anyone in the world! 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Camp NaNo Week #4: Failure?

I didn't get to print out a Camp NaNoWriMo winner's certificate this month. Of the half-a-dozen times I've committed to fast-drafting this is the first time I've failed. But I'm not too upset.

I have 3,000 words of a short story that wouldn't have existed if I hadn't attempted to write 10,000 words during this crazy-busy flying all around the place April. I'm excited to finish the story and write the next one and next one now. Life is going to slow down quite a bit soon.

Lazy summer days are ahead for me!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Camp NaNo Week #3: I have words!

Finally--I have managed to get a nice start on my short story. YAY!!! I am far from of my 10,000-word goal, but I will have a solid first draft of one short story (kind of hoped to have three stories started…). It's still possible to stretch 2,000 words to 10,000 (I do that all the time during November fast-drafting). But I'm not going to beat myself up if that doesn't happen this month.

The key to writing this month: escape.

I wrote nearly all of those words during a writing date with a friend at the cool library with a cafe. So, if you're ever feeling stuck invite a fellow writer on a writing date. Someone else's tapping fingers can be quite motivating!

Stunt fingers: mine need, um, attention, but I should probably vacuum first! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Camp NaNo Week #2: My Camp Counselors Are Worried About Me

Ack! I still don't have an actual word count. The dialogue scribbled in my notebook hasn't been translated into a story document yet, so I've ignored the official NaNoWriMo folks. They sent me this  note:

Dear Writer,
We're sending this email to check in on you. (Our budget doesn't allow for home visits. Yet.)
We want to be sure that you do a couple of things this Camp session:
Update your word count. You created your project and you may already be writing. If so, up those digits to share your progress!
If you haven't gotten around to starting yet, that's totally okay. There's still a lot of month left: adjust your word-count goal or bravely promise to catch up. As long as you write something (even if it's only on the last day), you're making it happen.
Say hello in your cabin. Your fellow Campers are looking for you. Seriously.
From many years of doing this kind of thing, we know that creative quests work best when you have a support group. Your cabin crew is a built-in accountability system, and they're friendly to boot.
If your current group isn't working, you can always opt out and handpick some folks via theFinding Cabin Mates forum.
Okay, check-in over. We'll let you get back to that wonderful project of yours.
Thanks for writing it during Camp NaNoWriMo, and here's to a great rest of the month.
Chris Angotti
Director of Programs

I've never been so NaNo negligent before! I feel terrible about ignoring my cabin-mates! I really thought I'd be productive during my daughter's college visit last weekend, but writing squished into the middle seat on the plane wasn't going to happen. And I didn't write in cute cafes, I only ate too many delicious doughnuts (oh, Frosty's!) and muffins… And my evening alone turned into me lounging in an exhausted stupor eating gelato in my hotel room watching a Chrisley Knows Best marathon on TV.

Week #3 is looking good, though. I even have a writing date planned! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo: Week #1

I don't have any words recorded yet. I haven't even opened a new document for my story. And I'd probably be freaking out about this lack of words on the page, if I hadn't picked up a copy of Austin Kleon's Steal Like An Artist at a museum gift shop over spring break. So nice to read little nuggets of wisdom after long days of sightseeing. 

I loved seeing a photo of his workspace:

What Kleon says about separating digital and analog work made so much sense to me--and explained why all of my work starts with a spiral notebook, scissors, colored pens, and glue. I used to think that I was procrastinating the actual writing, but now I know that I need to use my hands first to get into the story. So that's what I've been doing this week, playing around, figuring things out, taking messy notes, drawing stuff, making plans. The word count will come next! 

If you're looking for a bit of inspiration, I highly recommend Steal Like An Artist

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I'm Going To Camp!

Next week I'm going to camp--Camp NaNoWriMo!

April would be a terrible month for me to fast-draft a 50,000-word novel. Mostly because I'm distracted by my daughter's big looming college decision. So I'm excited that Camp NaNoWriMo is letting us set our own word-count goals, as well as projects.

I'm going to write a 10,000-word short story! YAY!!! I'll certainly need something to distract me from that big looming college decision.

Delving into a big fat novel will be the perfect distraction when my daughter heads off to college in a few months--in one direction (hundreds of miles away) or another (thousands of miles away).


Friday, March 21, 2014

Newbie Mistake #1.79

Often when I finish a long work of fiction, I'll spend some time working on short stuff, sort of like a brain cleanser while I research or cogitate on the details of the next big project. Early in my career, writing magazine stories also helped me obtain publishing credits for that I'm-the-real-deal paragraph in my query letter.

Contests are another great way to pump up that last query letter paragraph. I've tried many times to win the Highlights For Children contest. I'd brainstorm a list of ten ideas and write ten magazine stories, quickly. I'd work on the best ones and submit them to the contest. While I never won, I did end up with pieces I could submit to other children's magazines. Some of those have been published.

So far, so good. But here's where the mistake occurs:

In 2003, once again, I failed to win the Highlights contest. No biggie. I popped the piece into the mail again.

Magazine #1 said, no.
Magazine #2 said, no.
Magazine #3 said, maybe this should be a picture book?
Me: YAY!!!! I've written a picture book!!!! (I immediately popped it back into the mail.)
Book Editors #1-#6 said, NO!!!!

So I filed the manuscript and moved on to other things. No lesson learned. Yet.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a book publisher looking for just the kind of story that's been sitting in my file cabinet for the last decade. YAY!!! I rushed to the file, ready to submit my picture book.

But I hadn't written a picture book, I'd written a magazine story. No wonder all those publishers said, no. Magazine stories have a few spot illustrations, but the description in the text provides most of the details. Picture book text leaves much more to the illustrator--and it needs a dose of magic to inspire reading over and over again. That kind magazine editor wasn't telling me that I had a picture book manuscript, only that I had an idea that could be developed into a picture book.

The thing about me in 2003? I wasn't fond of revision. I wanted to be published NOW, NOW, NOW!

Thus, Newbie Mistake #1.79: Not taking time to revise (always mistake #1, combined with not knowing the difference between two writing genres .7, plus rushing the process and sending stuff out too soon, .09).

I have now scrapped everything but the idea, and, wow, writing picture books is hard. Maybe that's why I write short stuff--it makes me really excited to delve into something long again!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Blogging Elsewhere

I'm over at YA Outside The Lines today, blogging about how my books are used in the classroom. Except, my books aren't used in the classroom--I am! You can read the post here:

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Post In Which I Incidentally Reveal That I Watch Bad TV

So a strange thing happened while I was doodling and making notes about my favorite American Idol performances--I found myself writing down one of judge Harry Connick Jr's comments, "Work on the things that are hard. Work on the things that make you uncomfortable and you will improve."

I love that advice.

What is hard for me? What makes me uncomfortable? Poetry.

No form of writing makes me feel more stupid than poetry. I still vividly remember one of my high school teachers quoting a poem in which the narrator feels "big as a house."
My teacher: "Of course that means she's pregnant."
Me: What the huh? I thought she was fat. Man, am I stupid.

Poetry plagued me in college, too. Those fat Norton anthologies contained stumps of partial stories (who wants to read part of a story?!?!?) packed between poems, poems, poems, and more poems.

I would never want to be married to a guy who wrote poems for me. Just watching contestants on the Bachelor read poems makes me squeamish.

About a year ago, I decided to tackle my poetry problem. Poetry might make me feel stupid, but fearing an entire literary genre is stupid. I bought Sage Cohen's Writing The Life Poetic: An Invitation To Read & Write Poetry.

Slowly I've read through each chapter and worked through most of the writing exercises. I've written a lot of bad poetry in my writing practice notebook. But I'm determined to shape a few of those messes into something worth reading. Although I did scrawl a note next to one verse-y passage, "maybe a better short story?" No. I will make it a poem first.

I can't say that I'm comfortable with poetry yet, but I have been reading poetry before bed. I started with the accessible Billy Collins and now I can say that I'm actually enjoying Polish poet, Wislawa Szymborska's collected work. I vow to continue reading poetry--just a few poems a day. I can't say that I understand all that I'm reading, but every now and then I feel a spark of joy when a poem speaks to me. I get it! I get it! Yes!

I'm going to continue to write poetry, even though I really do suck at it. Even though it scares me more than spiders and snakes. I do think that my study of poetry has helped me think about word choice, description, and unique phrasing in my fiction writing. Harry Connick Jr. is right: work on what's hard, work on what's uncomfortable and you will improve.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Guest Blogger: Denise Jaden

Rather than doing a traditional interview-filled blog tour, Denise Jaden is celebrating the release of her new nonfiction writing book, FAST FICTION, by dropping tips about writing quickly at every stop of her blog tour, and offering some awesome prizes for commenting on any of these posts (including this one!)

The more you drop by and comment, the more chances you have to win these great prizes:

Denise's Fast Fiction Tip: Write because you love it!
If I had to pick one tip above all others, I’d say do this because you love it. Sometimes we need reminders of that. I have a few writer-friends who remind me often. I also keep a folder of favorite writing bits that I’ve composed over the years to look back at when I need to be rejuvenated. The thing is, not only will your passion for what you’re doing translate to readers when your book eventually has readers, love and passion will also make the writing process much easier. When I talk about fast-drafting in my book Fast Fiction, I highly encourage writers to write about something they care about. Caring about your story and loving the process will make your writing zoom by faster than anything else. 
The Prizes:

  • Compliments of New World Library: They will be giving away A BOX of copies of FAST FICTION by Denise Jaden and GET IT DONE by Sam Bennett (US and Canada only):
  • Compliments of Denise Jaden, TWO BOXES of great fiction (US Only). Details on Denise's blog.
  • Audiobook copies of NEVER ENOUGH by Denise Jaden!
  • A critique of your first five pages, compliments of Denise's agent, Michelle Humphrey from The Martha Kaplan Agency!

All you have to do is enter the rafflecopter for a chance to win (at the bottom of this post, I've included links to all of the other blogs where you can comment for more chances to win).

About Fast Fiction:

Writers flock to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) each November because it provides a procrastination-busting deadline. But only a fraction of the participants meet their goal. Denise Jaden was part of that fraction, writing first drafts of her two published young adult novels during NaNoWriMo. In Fast Fiction, she shows other writers how to do what she did, step-by-step, writer to writer. Her process starts with a prep period for thinking through plot, theme, characters, and setting. Then Jaden provides day-by-day coaching for the thirty-day drafting period. Finally, her revision tips help writers turn merely workable drafts into compelling and publishable novels.

A portion of publisher proceeds will be donated to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

Praise for Fast Fiction:

“Fast Fiction is filled with stellar advice, solid-gold tips, and doable, practical exercises for all writers who want to draft a complete novel.”
— Melissa Walker, author of Violet on the Runway

“Being a ‘pantser’ I have always resisted outlining, but I have to say that Fast Fiction changed my mind! Denise Jaden takes what I find to be a scary process (outlining) and makes it into an easy and, dare I say, enjoyable one. Fast Fiction is a hands-on book that asks the right questions to get your mind and your story flowing. I know I’ll be using Fast Fiction over and over again. Highly recommended for fiction writers!
— Janet Gurtler, author of RITA Award finalist I’m Not Her

“Fast Fiction is full of strategies and insights that will inspire and motivate writers of every experience level — and best of all, it provides them with a solid plan to quickly complete the first draft of their next novel.”
— Mindi Scott, author of Freefall

“Fast Fiction provides writers with the perfect mix of practical guidance and the kick in the pants they need to finish that draft. This book is a must-have for writers of all levels.”
— Eileen Cook, author of The Almost Truth

Practical and down-to-earth, Denise Jaden’s Fast Fiction makes a one-month draft seem doable, even for beginners, any month of the year.”
— Jennifer Echols, author of Endless Summer and Playing Dirty

“One of the greatest challenges any writer faces is getting a great idea out of one’s brain and onto the page. Fast Fiction breaks that process down into concrete, manageable steps, each accompanied by Denise Jaden’s sage advice and enthusiastic encouragement. And anything that helps streamline the drafting process is a-okay by me! Fast Fiction is a great addition to any writer’s toolbox — I’ve got it in mine!”
— Catherine Knutsson, author of Shadows Cast by Stars

“Forget the fact that this resource is directed at those wanting to complete a fast draft — if you’re out to get your novel done, period, Jaden’s Fast Fiction will be the kick in the butt that gets you there, from story plan to ‘The End’. . . and beyond.”
— Judith Graves, author of the Skinned series for young adults

Where you can find Fast Fiction:

Help an author out:
Can't get a copy of FAST FICTION right now? I wonder if you'd consider helping out in other ways. I'd really appreciate any way that you can help!

  • Ask your library or bookstore to bring in FAST FICTION
  • Leave a review on Amazon (the more books are reviewed on Amazon, the more they will show up as suggestions for readers).
  • Mention FAST FICTION on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or pin a link to Amazon on Pinterest
Blog Tour Stops:
Comment on any of the following blog posts celebrating Fast Fiction's release to be entered to win prizes galore! 
(All Fast Fiction blog posts should be live by March 9th, or sooner. Contest will be open until March 15th. If any links don't work, stop by for updated links.)

GCC Blogs:

Additional Participating Blogs:

Remember, all you have to do is leave comments to get lots of extra entries to win some great prizes. 
Don't know what to comment about? Tell us the name of your favorite writing book!

Share this widget here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Or, if the Rafflecopter Giveaway doesn't seem to be coming up on this blog, access it here:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It Got Me Again!

Sometimes little gifts turn out to be very expensive…

When my daughter gave me a book-a-day calendar, I thought it would be fun to read nice quotes every morning, a nice change of pace from last year's doodle calendar on which I drew far too many octopuses. The calendar isn't filled with quotes, it's filled with well-written little blurbs. And they're making me buy books. Lots and lots of books. It got me again, today.

Heck, yeah. I want to know about China's Taiping civil war. I want to go to China someday! I love learning! I love reading about everything! Books, books, books, more books!

I told my daughter that she better get me another bookcase next year. Or maybe I should just start drawing octopuses over the enticing book blurbs?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cover Reveal! Holly Shindler's FERAL.

Holly does such a great job corralling all of us over at YA Outside The Lines, so I'm thrilled to help her reveal the cover for her newest title, Feral. Beautiful, isn't it? 

It’s too late for you. You’re dead.

Those words float through Claire Cain’s head as she lies broken and barely alive after a brutal beating. And the words continue to haunt her months later, in the relentless, terrifying nightmares that plague her sleep. So when her father is offered a teaching sabbatical in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out of Chicago, away from the things that remind her of what she went through, will offer a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire quickly realizes something is wrong—the town is brimming with hidden dangers and overrun by feral cats. And her fears are confirmed when a popular high school girl, Serena Sims, is suddenly found dead in the icy woods behind the school. While everyone is quick to say Serena died in an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it—for she was the one who found Serena, battered and most certainly dead, surrounded by the town’s feral cats.
Now Claire vows to learn the truth about what happened, but the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to discovering a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley. . . .

With an eerie setting and heart-stopping twists and turns, Holly Schindler weaves a gripping story that will make you question everything you think you know.

You can pre-order the book here:

Or add the book to your Goodreads shelves:

To find out more about Holly:

Congratulations, Holly! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Blogging Elsewhere

Today I'm over at YA Outside The Lines blogging about my first character love. I gave serious consideration to moody-on-the-moors Heathcliff, but ultimately settled on Pippi Longstocking, an earlier, longer lasting love. You can read the post here.

Who is your favorite character?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Advice & Giveaway with Kristina Springer

It's here, it's here! I've been waiting for Kristina Springer's My Fake Boyfriend Is Better Than Yours for a long time. I'm sure you'd like it too. Leave a comment & you might win a copy! 

What's your best advice for fellow writers?
Don't get discouraged and don't quit. If you're persistent and always believe in yourself you'll eventually get there.
What popular writing advice do you never follow?
Write every day, write anything it doesn’t matter just as long as you’re writing. I have 4 kids with busy schedules so any time I have to write I’m working on a book. I don’t just “write anything.”
Where do you do most of your writing? 
Home or coffee shops.

What's the best book you've read lately on the craft of writing? 
I just started Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. It’s been recommended to me so many times as THE best book for plotting so I had to get it.

Find out more about Kristina Springer at  Adorable website, by the way.

To win a copy of My Fake Boyfriend Is Better Than Yours leave a comment!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Celebrating A New Book

I like to celebrate the various phases of the I've-got-an-idea to the completion of an actual book process. When I finish a first draft, I usually send myself a box of my favorite truffles (Legacy Chocolates), or in the case of my mummy manuscript, a box of pyramid & pharoah-shaped chocolates (thank you, Martine's!). I celebrate small milestones because it can take a long, long time before a manuscript transforms into a real book.

That's why I was thrilled to treat myself to this:

A still-frozen Pepperidge Farm coconut cake is how I celebrated my completed first draft of Not-A-Dr. Logan's Divorce Book many years ago. I ate another one when it won first place in the Utah Art's Council Original Writing contest. The cake features in the story as part of the "Signs Your Mom Has Had A Bad Day" section of Logan's own book. And it's an inside joke with my mother--I only recently realized that most people wait to eat these things after they've defrosted. Let's just say I borrowed that bit of fiction from real life.

I'm pleased to announce that I have eaten my third Pepperidge Farm cake! Not A Dr. Logan's Divorce Book will be published by Character Publishing on May 1st. YAY!!!

Confession: I don't think I can force myself to chow down on another partially-frozen Pepperidge Farm cake. I might make my own much more delicious and moist coconut cake on May 1st! 

Contest Winners!

Congratulations to Kelley, winner of Open Mic and Demonosity. And congratulations to Anonymous (please contact me with your true identity!) who won a copy of Reflecting Emmy!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Revising… My house?!?

My apologies. I've been a particularly bad blogger these days. November passed with the writerly joy of revising my WIP. But in December, we started revising our house.

I always expect my housework to fall behind when I'm busy with a big writing task. Later, laundry! But I didn't realize how much my writing life would be affected by remodeling. I knew there would be days of moving things in and out and back again--and I saved money by doing all the painting.

But it's the waiting. Waiting for the guys to arrive to work. I like writerly waiting better because the cure for that is more writing! But I can't count the number of days I never got into the shower because I was waiting for folks whose definition of "morning" is 3PM. Or not at all. If only contractors would honor deadlines like my writer friends… But I do have to say that the excuses I've heard for not showing up are pretty darn creative!

Anyway, the house revision is almost all wrapped up, and I will have my writerly routine back again. YAY!

Here's a joke I sent to my 8th grade daughter. It's a paint roller selfie. I'm always telling her that if I'd had to live in the selfie world of junior high no one would have ever seen my nose--for sure!

A belated happy 2014 to you all!