Monday, December 30, 2013

DEFY by Sara B. Larson

Okay, so I've known Sara for about 5 years now. She lives here in Utah with me, and we get together for parties, dinners, launches, write nights, conferences, and various other things. When a fried organized an ARC tour, I signed up.

Then DEFY came up on NetGalley, so I snagged it there too. It's easier for me to read at the gym on my Kindle, and this way, when the ARC finally came, all I had to do was sign it and go through and tell Sara all my favorite parts.

And there were many favorite parts. I absolutely loved DEFY. It's a YA fantasy that fits into the genre very nicely. Let's explore a little bit.

About DEFY: Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?

I have also written a (trunked) novel about a girl who pretends to be a boy, so I loved this aspect of it. I liked how Sara handled the delicate issues of female body parts while still making this girl a boy on the outside. But Alexa is a girl, and she has female internal reactions, worries, and thoughts. This can be tricky to do, and Sara did it well.

I loved the jungle setting. I don't know why; maybe because I haven't read anything like that for a while. It was different, and for me, different in a book is always good.

DEFY is a fantasy, so it has danger, intrigue, wicked kings, and magic. And there's some kissing, which you know I'm fond of. If you like fantasies like THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS or GRACELING, you'll like DEFY.

It comes out on January 7, so be sure to get your copy!!

Also, I am woefully out of the loop. What should I be looking forward to reading in 2014??

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Story With No Words (Okay, Some Words)

Okay, so there's a couple of things going on today, and I thought about writing them all out. I am an author, sometimes. However, I think sometimes pictures speak louder than words, so I'm opting for an image-fest today.

Now I'm not very good at this kind of stuff, so it'll probably be lame. Judge me if you want.

First, there's this:
That's right! I survived 2013! It feels goooood, too. 

And then this:
Yes, that is my school shirt. Vikings, FTW! Don't judge.
And yes, that looks like me signing something, right?
I AM signing something -- a new agency contract!

This is where I sent the signed agency contract.
I am now represented by Victoria Marini at Gelfman Schneider!

I feel like I could do this:
Because, seriously. 

Or this:

And strong!

And I definitely want to go here:
The adventure of a lifetime! 

And if that weren't enough, this girl and I are meeting today:
This is the world-famous photographer, Erin Summerill.
We're meeting to SHOOT THE COVER OF ELEVATED (my next book, coming February 2014).
I could not be more excited.

So what do you think of my image-fest? Pretty awesome, no? It's okay if you hated it. I'll like you anyway. 

Monday, December 9, 2013


Okay, so my daughter wrote a letter to Santa this year, outlining all the things she wants. I think gift-giving is one of the most fun things of the holidays. And there's a book that has a hero that believes the same: ALL SHE WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS by Sara V. Olds.

Sara is one of my critique partners, and she just released her holiday romance last week. It's a super-fun, fast, and perfect holiday read. I hope you'll consider gifting it to yourself this Christmas, or to someone else who likes to read clean, witty, and swoon-worthy romance.

About ALL SHE WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS: Saving Christmas will take more than Magic.

George Clauson is Santa's daughter, but she can't stand Christmas. All that ho-ho-hoing, caroling and people's greedy wants? No, thank you. She's left the family business and struck off on her own in the human world finding her niche as a humble second-grade teacher.

Ebenezer Herod is a descendent of King Herod. His family has never stopped trying to destroy Christmas. This year they may actually get their wish, but not if Ben can help it.

George wants nothing to do with restoring balance to the Christmas season, and she certainly isn't interested in the shockingly handsome and devilishly rich Ben. A determined do-gooder, Ben's used to saving the day, but he can't rescue Christmas alone. Can George and Ben find a way to work together despite their opposing heritages to make the Season bright?


I hope you'll consider getting ALL SHE WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS as part of your holiday season. 

What great read should I get for myself?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Blog Tours by Elana

Okay, so I've been putting this off for a while now. Mostly because I'm lazy. Ha! But I've gone ahead and done it--created a new site just for the blog tours, cover reveals, and book blitzes I do.

This way, each author I work with will have a place they can direct their friends/family for sign-ups, and I can keep this blog separate for my writing ramblings, news, book reviews, and other more authorly things.

BUT -- you should go check out all the things I have going on! There are some amazing authors who are gearing up for the releases of their books, and I have cover reveals coming, and book blitzes, and blog tours!

INCLUDING -- a cover reveal for my own ELEVATED, a YA contemporary novel-in-verse I am self-publishing on February 18, 2014. So go here to sign up for that.

And poke around the site to find other opportunities to feature new covers and participate in blog tours and book blitzes.

These are my current sign-ups:
Cover reveal for BLOOD CROWN by Ali Cross
Cover reveal for PARIS CRAVINGS by Kimberley Montpetit
Book Blitz for Ann Stampler's AFTERPARTY
Book Blitz for Donna K. Weaver's HOPE'S WATCH
Blog Tour for Derick William Dalton's HOUSES OF COMMON

I have four more tours upcoming (Ali Cross's BLOOD CROWN, Donna K. Weaver's TORN CANVAS, Lee Strauss's SUN & MOON, and Christina Farley's GILDED) that will be announced soon. So please consider checking out my new site, subscribing to my blogger list, and signing up for a blog tour or two, or the chance to help reveal a cover.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Books to Give This Season: TAKEN by Erin Bowman

Okay, so I loved this book. I don't even think "love" is strong enough a word. I L-O-V-E-D this book! I bought it many months ago when it first came out, but I just read it recently.

The book in question? TAKEN by Erin Bowman. If you haven't read it yet, you need to get it, stat. And then you need to buy a copy for someone you love. Because there's nothing better than books for Christmas.

About TAKEN: Gray Weathersby has grown up expecting to disappear at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. They call it the Heist—and it happens to every boy in Claysoot. His only chance at escape is to climb the Wall that surrounds Claysoot. A climb no one has ever survived . . .

Why this book works for me:

1. Super unique concept. A closed society, with a wall that no one has ever made it over? That's full of mystery and intrigue right there. 

2. A main character to root for. I loved Gray, and his steadiness. I loved that he knew what he wanted -- not only a girl he loved, but a brother to save -- and that he went for it. He wasn't overly emotional, something I think sometimes happens to male narrators, and he had a perfect voice for the story.

3. The twists and turns. There's so much more to this book than what's listed in the description. There's the wall, yes. But that's just the beginning. There are secrets Gray doesn't know (no spoilers here!), and I thought the world-building was spot-on. The information was delivered to the reader at just the right time to keep the pages turning. And the set-up for FROZEN, the second book? Brilliant. 

4. The writing. I'm a fan of good writing, and while I can't really explain it, I know it when I see it. And TAKEN has it. I like smart verbs, and smart characters, and a swift plot. TAKEN delivered.

So if you're looking for a great read, pick up TAKEN.

What's on your holiday wish-list? What books are you giving this holiday season?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Everyone Deserves A Chance to Fly!

Okay, so I've been listening to a lot of WICKED in the car recently. You know how you turn it up really loud and scream-sing along with, pretending you're even half as good as Kristin Chenoweth? Yeah, maybe that's just me.

But anyway, my favorite song of the show is "Defying Gravity." It just seems to fit a lot of what I've been feeling, thinking, and going through lately.

So Glinda has told Elphaba that she "can still be with the Wizard. What you've worked and waited for." (Tell me that doesn't apply to publishing!)

And Elphaba says:
"I know:
But I don't want it -
No - I can't want it

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules
Of someone else's game

Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep

It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!

It's time to try
Defying gravity
I think I'll try
Defying gravity
And you can't pull me down!"

I love that. You can't pull me down!

Then Glinda says:
"Can't I make you understand?
You're having delusions of grandeur."

(Also, publishing. Who among us doesn't have delusions of grandeur? I'm totally guilty as charged.)

To which Elphaba replies:
"I'm through accepting limits
'cause someone says they're so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I'll never know!
Too long I've been afraid of
Losing love I guess I've lost
Well, if that's love
It comes at much too high a cost!
I'd sooner buy
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I'm defying gravity
And you can't pull me down."

See? See how this applies to publishing? "I'm through accepting limits, 'cause someone says they're so." I absolutely love that line. And there are things in publishing that we don't understand until we try them. And things we're afraid of, and things we miss out on because of those fears.

Then Elphaba and Glinda have their little goodbye, and Elphaba sings:
"So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky!
As someone told me lately:
"Everyone deserves the chance to fly!"

And if I'm flying solo
At least I'm flying free
To those who'd ground me
Take a message back from me

Tell them how I am
Defying gravity
I'm flying high
Defying gravity
And soon I'll match them in reknown
And nobody in all of Oz
No Wizard that there is or was
Is ever gonna bring me down!"

Again, love. Because everybody DOES deserve the chance to fly, even if it's solo.

So today, I am getting on my broom and hoping it'll fly. I'm letting you know that I will be self-publishing a novel of mine on February 18, 2014. It's called ELEVATED, and it's about a girl who gets stuck in an industrial-sized elevator with her ex-boyfriend. It's a YA contemporary novel-in-verse.

That's right. Poetry. Every word.

And my good friend, Erin Summerill is making the cover with some exclusive photography she shot--and she is brilliant!

And in case you haven't heard of WICKED or Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, you really should watch it.

Don't you think everyone deserves a chance to fly?

Monday, November 18, 2013

How Do You Know If You're Good?

Okay, so many of you know I'm querying. And if you didn't, you do now! Of course, I'm getting rejected. It's part of the business. But as the rejections have been coming in, I'm always left with one question: How do you know if you're a good writer?

Is it because people tell you you are? Is it because you have an agent? A lot of sales? A deal?

I'm not sure, because I've read books that win big, major awards and I walk away from them because I don't like them. I've read books that are brilliant that no one else seems to be talking about. I've read books that sold for a lot of money and found them boring.

So how do you know if you're a good writer? What's the measurement?

I hate stuff like this, because I am a concrete person. I want a plan, a method, to know. Like, I can count my calories and know how much I've eaten. I can see the weight coming off the scale (BTW, I'm down 10 pounds now! Just started a couple of weeks ago). I know how to measure the success.

But with publishing, I don't.

I think that might be the most frustrating thing of all. I don't want to publish something bad, something poorly written or imagined, something poorly executed. But I don't know how to tell what's "good" and what's "bad."

So how do you know if you're a good writer?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pushing Past the Subjectivity

Dude, this business is SO subjective. If you didn't know that yet, I hope I'm not revealing anything too heart-breaking. Because this publishing thing? It has the power to rip your heart out and trample on it.

And it's because of the subjectivity of the art. Writing is art. Books are art. I know intellectually that not everyone will "connect" with the art I produce. But emotionally, this is a much harder fact to internalize. Because, if the writing is good, and the plotting is smart, and the characters are well-developed (all compliments I've gotten), why exactly isn't this book for you?

Subjective tastes.

And that's hard to stomach, because I don't know how to revise to fix that. It's impossible. We can't revise our books for every reader who comes along, be them agents, editors, or fans. Maybe if you're writing a Choose Your Own Adventure (remember those?).

But seriously, the subjectivity of this industry is demoralizing. It makes you question your ability, and allows your mind to wander into Forbidden Territory: Doubt.

At the same time, this subjectivity is what's so great about publishing. There literally is a place for everyone, all stories, all types.

So each time I get a rejection that doesn't resonate with me, or with the reasons I wrote the story I did, or the vision I have for my story, I have to push past the subjectivity of it. Sometimes it's hard -- oh, so many times. But in the end, I have to create the art I love and believe in.

How do you push past the subjectivity?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NaNo Check-In!

Okay, I realize I've abandoned the blog for a little bit. It's because all my time is sucked up in teaching, mothering, and writing. And it's exciting! I haven't written a book since April, and for a few days there, I seriously thought I'd forgotten how.

But isn't that always how it goes? Sure, I've been spending a lot of time on writing-related things. Revisions. Social media. Editing. But the actual drafting a book doesn't happen as often. Not nearly enough.

So this NaNo-ing has been good for me. Very therapeutic. I'm a bit ahead of the curve right now, but I still need to be writing about 1400 words each day to finish on time.

The real problem came yesterday when I wrote during my lunch hour (gotta grab the minutes when you can, you know?). I think I may have written myself into a corner. I usually write again after my kids go to bed, but I just couldn't. I wasn't sure how to get out of what I'd gotten into.

So I'm stewing on that today, and I might have to do one of those fillers. You know, the "stuff happens here" highlighted in yellow so I can keep getting the words on the page.

Are you NaNo-ing? How is it going?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Suck Less

So I was trolling Facebook the other day. It's pretty standard for me these days. I can fly through my lists and like and comment in a few minutes. I like it. Someone had said something about their family motto (for which I instantly felt inferior), and my husband reminded me that we too, have a family motto.

Suck Less.

I decided this is a good motto for a lot of things, writing included. So as I prepare to k-i-l-l my concept for NaNo with lots of words, I'm going to try to make them suck less.

Of course, how one goes about doing that is another matter entirely. I've been reading a lot lately (lucky you, because as usual, I'll be talking about the books I love), and I think instead of giving you a recommendation on why you'll like a book from a reader's standpoint, I think I'll talk about how amazing the books are based on their writing -- and what I learned from it.

This might only last for one or two books (let's be honest here), but I've read some really good ones lately that have struck something in me. Something that sounds a lot like This sucks less. Make yours suck less.

So that's my official goal for NaNo. Do you have a writing goal? In general or for NaNo?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Facing Fears

Okay, so this is always hard, isn't it? Facing down that rabid dog or whatever. But though I am terrified of most dogs, rabid or not, that's not really what I'm talking about. Not a physical fear, but an emotional one.

That's not quite right either. More of a creative one.

See, my agent and I parted ways last month. She is a lovely person and a great agent. I have no hard feelings toward her and our split was amicable.

And here I am. Facing a wide-open world of publishing for the first time in years. Well, that's not really true either, because I already have books out. The only way to truly have a wide-open publishing world is to choose a pen name and start over.

I don't think I'll do that, and now I'm exploring all the options. See, I have five full manuscripts that are finished. Like, finished. Like, I could send them to editors and agents and not be embarrassed.

I'm querying a couple of them, actually. Querying is just as painful and demoralizing as I remember from 2009. Rejections are hard--especially when the feedback is at odds from agent to agent.

I have submitted a couple of my manuscripts to small and midsize publishers that take unsolicited submissions.

I have purchased Indie-publishing guides, and I've emailed with friends, and I've discussed options with my husband.

I really do have a ton of choices. The real problem is facing the fear of choosing one over the other. It seems that every publishing model has it's pros and cons.

And of course, I want it all. *wink* But mostly, it's the fear of trying something I've never tried before that's got a grip on me right now. I almost think it would be easier if someone just told me what to do! Anyone? Ha!

Have you faced a fear? How did you overcome it?

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Okay, so I'm here today with C.J. Hill to celebrate the release of her second Slayers book: FRIENDS AND TRAITORS! I've met the real C.J. in real life, and she is awesome!

So let's learn a bit about the book first.

About FRIENDS AND TRAITORS: In C.J. Hill's action-packed sequel to Slayers, the group of teens known as Slayers have been betrayed—but they won’t give up without a fight.

Tori’s got a problem. She thought she’d have one more summer to train as a dragon Slayer, but time has run out. When Tori hears the horrifying sound of dragon eggs hatching, she knows the Slayers are in trouble. In less than a year, the dragons will be fully grown and completely lethal. The Slayers are well-prepared, but their group is still not complete, and Tori is determined to track down Ryker—the mysterious missing Slayer.

What Tori doesn’t bargain for, however, is the surprising truth about her powers. She isn’t just a Slayer, she’s part Dragon Lord, too. How can Tori fight to save her friends when half of her is programmed to protect dragons? And with a possible traitor in their midst, the Slayers will be divided in more ways than they ever imagined.

Sounds amazing, right? It is! I've read it, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes good writing, fun characters, and the supernatural in their books.

And now we get to have some insight into C.J. and how she started writing and of course, whether she prefers bacon or chocolate!!

The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less: Slayers are teens with superpowers to fight dragons. Which is a good thing, because dragons are back and they don't want to be our friends.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes, although I also wanted to be a ballerina, an astronaut, and an ice-skater. Thank goodness I became a writer since my astro skating ballerina ambitions didn't pay off. (LOL! It's awesome to dream.)

What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication?
I joined a writers group and a lot of the women were actively sending out their stuff. I realized that if I wanted to be published I couldn't just wait around for an editor to show up at my house and ask to see my stuff. I had to send it out into the cruel, harsh world. It's a hard step--but until publishers send out roving editors--a necessary one. (So true!)

Quick! You’ve been chosen to go on Survivor. What luxury item do you take?
A notebook and pen, of course. What else would I be doing in a remote spot besides writing my next novel? (Great question!)

Bacon or chocolate?
It's a hard choice as these are probably my two favorite foods, but I'm going with chocolate. It is my happy place. (Mine too, though it is hard to beat bacon...)

Find C.J. around the Internet:


About C.J. Hill: CJ Hill is a pen name for a YA author who is best known for writing romantic comedies. (Slayers will be her 18th published book.) Her writing has shifted away from the romantic comedy genre, so her editor thought a pen name would be a good idea. (New books will include: dangerous dragons, time travel to dystopian worlds, and flesh-eating beetles.) Since the publisher refused to let her have the pseudonym : The Artist Formerly Referred to as Princess, she chose a name to honor her mother. CJ Hill was her mother's pen name, or at least it would have been if her mother had published. Her mother wrote a few children's books and a middle grade novel but was taken by cancer before she had fully learned the craft.

Most writers' first novels aren't publishable. CJ Junior's first novel wasn't, but somehow was published anyway. Now, even though it is out of print, it remains forever available on Amazon, where it taunts her with its badness. This was another good reason to use a pen name.

CJ Hill has five children, three of whom like her on any given day depending on who is in trouble. She has lived in Arizona for the last half of her life, but is still in desert denial and hopes that one day her garden will grow silver bells and cockle shells or maybe just tomatoes.

I hope you pick up SLAYERS if you haven't read it yet. And you can check out all the blog tour stops for FRIENDS AND TRAITORS over at Fire and Ice.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

VISION by Lisa Amowitz Cover Reveal!

Okay, so I've known Lisa for years. She read Possession way back when it was a baby, and I'm thrilled for her success. Her next book is titled VISION, and today she's releasing the cover!

A bit about VISION: The light is darker than you think…

When seventeen-year-old Bobby Pendell begins to have blinding migraines followed by frightening hallucinations, he fears there’s something wrong with him. Then murder rocks his sleepy town and the visions that put him on trail of a killer—also make him the prime suspect.

A little bit about Lisa: Lisa Amowitz was born in Queens and raised in the wilds of Long Island, New York where she climbed trees, thought small creatures lived under rocks and studied ant hills. And drew. A lot. She is a professor of Graphic Design at her beloved Bronx Community College where she has been tormenting and cajoling students for nearly seventeen years. She started writing eight years ago because she wanted something to illustrate, but somehow, instead ended up writing YA. Probably because her mind is too dark and twisted for small children.

Find her on:

And now onto the cover!

Creeptastic, right? I think it fits the description really well, and I can't wait to read it! VISION is coming from Spencer Hill Press on May 13, 2014.

What do you think of the cover?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

SKY JUMPERS Giveaway!!

Okay, so I am lucky enough to live only a few minutes away from the Famous Peggy Eddleman, author of the amazing middle grade adventure, SKY JUMPERS. I got to go to her release party a week or so ago, and I bought two copies of the book.

One for my eight-year-old daughter--who was so excited!

And one for one of you!! It's a signed hardcover, and it's the perfect read for anyone who can, well, read!

Enter in the Rafflecopter below. Contest runs all week.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Cover Reveal for THE ACCIDENTAL MARRIAGE by Annette Haws!

Okay, so I'm bringing you a fun new cover today! I think this looks really fun and really cute. I've been enjoying my foray into the adult contemporary romance genre, but I do like it to be cleaner than not clean. So yeah. It sounds like THE ACCIDENTAL MARRIAGE will fit my tastes!

Are you ready to see the cover? Well, maybe we should talk about the book first.

About THE ACCIDENTAL MARRIAGE: Nina Rushforth was born with a silver spoon caught in her throat. She and her father have mapped out a future that includes a brilliant legal career, a marriage to an equally stellar attorney or Wall Street whiz kid, and eventually the production of three perfect children. A semester at St. Andrew's University in Scotland, was part of the plan, but falling in love with a handsome missionary was not.

Six months later, after Elliot returns from his mission and after a tumultuous courtship, Nina finds herself teaching at a junior high school, learning to keep house in a minuscule apartment, and living with a man who doesn't know any more about being married than she does. Intimacy, cooking, laundry, lesson plans, and a tug-of-war with a possessive mother-in-law prove to be more overwhelming than Nina can successfully manage. The newlyweds awaken to realize the head on the adjacent pillow belongs to a stranger.

This novel captures the heartbreak of young love caught in the turbulent social crosscurrents of the 70's, at a time when brave women struggled to find dignity and equality in the workplace, as well as peace at home.

THE ACCIDENTAL MARRIAGE is coming out on December 10. You can pre-order it here or here. You can add it to your Goodreads shelf here (which is one of the ways to enter the contest below!).

Okay, now are you ready to see the cover? Here it is!

See how fun? I love the car, the bright blue, the tagline. Everything!

Here's a little bit about Annette -- be sure to like her on Facebook and tweet about the giveaway too!

Annette Haws’s literary strengths are based upon her experiences in the classroom. She began her teaching career as a junior high teacher in Richmond, Utah and ended it teaching Sophomore English at Murray High School in Salt Lake City. However, her favorite assignment was a five year period at Logan High School teaching English, coaching debate and mock trial, and watching the antics of her own three children who were also students in the same school.

Her first novel, Waiting for the Light to Change, won Best of State in 2009, A Whitney Award for Best Fiction, and the Diamond Quill Award for Best Published Fiction in 2009 from the League of Utah Writers. In July of 2008, the Midwest Book Review selected it as a Top Pick for Community Library Fiction Collections.

Find Annette online:

And there's a TWO DAY giveaway! This contest for $25 cash ends tomorrow night! So tweet and like and spread the word about the cover of THE ACCIDENTAL MARRIAGE!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

AWAKENING by Christy Dorrity

So my friend and fellow Utahn is launching her book today! She's also the one who included Possession in her Book Blogger's Cookbook -- and I can't wait to read her book! Christy Dorrity's AWAKENING is out today, and the blog tour begins. So take a second to learn about the book, add it to your Goodreads, and buy a copy!

About the Book
. . . because some Celtic stories won’t be contained in myth.

A little magic has always run in sixteen-year-old McKayla McCleery's family—at least that’s what she’s been told. McKayla’s eccentric Aunt Avril travels the world as a psychic for the FBI, and her mother can make amazing delicacies out of the most basic of ingredients. But McKayla doesn't think for a second that the magic is real—it’s just good storytelling. Besides, McKayla doesn’t need magic. She recently moved to beautiful Star Valley, Wyoming, and already she has a best friend, a solo in her upcoming ballet recital—and the gorgeous guy in her physics class keeps looking her way.

When an unexpected fascination with Irish dance leads McKayla to seek instruction from the mute, crippled janitor at her high school, she learns that her family is not the only one with unexplained abilities.

After Aunt Avril comes to Star Valley in pursuit of a supernatural killer, people begin disappearing, and the lives of those McKayla holds most dear are threatened.

When the janitor reveals that an ancient curse, known as a geis, has awakened deadly powers that defy explanation, McKayla is forced to come to terms with what is real and what is fantasy.

A thrilling debut novel based in Celtic mythology, Awakening is a gripping young adult fantasy rife with magic, romance, and mystery.

Awakening (The Geis, #1)

Praise for Awakening
"AWAKENING is a wonder and a delight. Christy Dorrity is a talent to watch."
~David Farland, New York Times bestselling author of Nightingale

"I thoroughly enjoyed AWAKENING, a captivating and unique debut novel that creatively integrates Irish dance."
~ CHRIS NAISH, Riverdance member and Creative Director of Fusion Fighters Irish dancers.

About the Author

Christy Dorrity lives in the mountains with her husband, five children, and a cocker spaniel. She grew up on a trout ranch in Star Valley, Wyoming, and is the author of The Geis series for young adults, and The Book Blogger’s Cookbooks. Christy is a champion Irish dancer and when she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably trying out a new recipe in the kitchen.

Purchase Awakening by Christy Dorrity:

Purchase Kindle Book
Purchase Nook Book

Friday, September 20, 2013

Inspiration from... Katy Perry?

Dude, yes. If you have not listened to some teen pop rock in the last year or so, start with Katy Perry. I don't like all her songs, but I like a good few of them.

In particular, Firework and Roar. Because you know how this publishing business is like a meat grinder? No? Well, it is. Pretend you're this fabulous cut of meat. Kobe beef or something. You go in, expecting everything to be awesome, you'll be cooked to a perfect medium-rare, and you'll be juicy, and have this butter-herb sauce, and everyone will love you.

And then... You get ground up and formed into who-knows-what-but-it-ain't-a-meatball, and drowned with some sick brown gravy from a packet, and then bypassed on the buffet line by even the most forgiving of diners.

Yeah. Publishing can be like that. But Katy Perry has your solution. You could say that the 213 times I've listened to Roar in the past couple of weeks makes it my theme song. Okay, fine. It's totally my theme song.

Watch it. Listen to it. Love it.

(I'll admit the jungle theme is a little strange... Just go with it.)

My favorite lyrics:
I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar

Sometimes you just need to roar.

I also love Firework. Not necessarily the bra she wears... Can't believe I just used the word bra on my blog.

Anyway, I think sometimes I can relate to the lyrics of this song rather well. Let's examine.

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?

Do you ever feel already buried deep six feet under?
Scream but no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there's still a chance for you
'Cause there's a spark in you?

(Uh, yes. To all of the above.)

And later:
You don't have to feel like a wasted space
You're original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow

Maybe you reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will glow
And when it's time you'll know

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

So yeah. I think I'm going to do that. Ignite the light and let it shine. Own the night. Roar.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Judging a Book by its Cover (and Title)

Okay, so I read a lot of books. Usually it's something one of my friends wrote, or a recommendation from a friend, or something that's getting a lot of buzz. But recently, I've decided to try reading something I've never heard of before.

Shocking, I know.

Buy here
So I go to the Kindle (which is how I read now. I know, you're disappointed), and I simply start clicking around. I find this book called FLAT-OUT LOVE by Jessica Park. I read it--and I really like it. Like, like it a lot.

It's not exactly YA, but it reads very much like a YA. I suppose this is called New Adult (Julie, the MC is a freshman in college), a genre I'll admit I've been skeptical about and honestly, a little scared of.

See, I don't want the entire plot to be the romance. Don't get me wrong. Romance is essential in the books I love, but I've read so much that I'm getting weary of the busy/scorned/betrayed/world-weary woman falling for the sexy/hot/tall/dark/handsome/motorcycle-riding guy. That said, I still read a lot of those and enjoy them. I know, I'm a mixed bag.

Anyway, I've derailed here. I've read several NA novels, and I've found they're not really my thing. I've found them to be a bit romance-heavy, and sometimes more sexy than I want to read.

But FLAT-OUT LOVE wasn't either of those. There is romance--and I really enjoyed and was rooting for it. But there's more. There are other--more important--plot lines going on. Real relationships and real problems being explored. Some romance, but not the immediate kind of romance, but the kind of relationship that takes months to build.

That's why I loved the book. So I finish, and I want to read more books like that. Well, the Kindle (or Amazon) will tell you what other books people are buying when they buy FLAT-OUT LOVE.

And I started judging. That cover looks too romance-heavy.
That cover looks too sexy.
What is that on the cover?
I can't read that title. (Remember, I'm on the Kindle. It's small.)
I can't pronounce that character's name.

I'd only click on the covers that looked like I might get something that had substance and sported a title I could read easily. Then I'd read the book description. I'll admit that none of them piqued my interest for one reason or another, and I'm still looking for my next read that's like FLAT-OUT LOVE.

But I realized that book covers and titles are really important to me, and I think, all readers. It's our first judgement of a book. It might be that we'd really enjoy what's behind the cover, but we'll never see it if that first impression isn't done well.

Do you find yourself judging books this way? And do you have any recommendations for what I can read if I loved FLAT-OUT LOVE? I'd love to hear them!!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

On Overload

Okay, so at the risk of becoming the world's biggest hypocrit ever, I've sort of decided to move away from the blogosphere. I feel like a complete hack, having taught many (MANY) "how to blog" classes at conferences and conventions.

I love blogging.

Or at least I used to.

Over the past year, I've fallen more and more out of love with it. I find it so much easier to send a tweet, or update my Facebook status, and I can easily read through my lists and groups to find out what's going on with the people I care about.

I know. That makes me like, the worst blogger ever. I just can't keep up anymore (haven't been able to for a long time), and I've been wondering if blogging is a platform that I'm all overloaded on.

And I think maybe it is.

I've been hesitating from moving away from it -- though, let's face it, I've been emotionally detached for a while now -- because I used to love it so much.

But I also used to love cotton candy. Now I just find it sticky, and messy, and overpriced. I didn't worry about abandoning that sweet for something else I liked. I don't know why this move has taken so long or feels so... I don't know. Painful? Yeah, probably painful.

I will still be here, periodically, as I have things to say and contribute. But really, I'm spending more time on twitter and Facebook. Or writing -- definitely writing.

Have you ever gone through this? Leaving behind something amazing and good, hopefully in the pursuit of something better?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Winning Streak or Losing Streak

Okay, so I've been gone for a while! I swear I didn't mean to do that. But I was crazy-busy with planning and executing WriteOnCon (only the most amazing thing ever!) and then I moved right into work again. School starts TODAY, and I've been swamped with teacherly things, and motherly things, and well, when you stop blogging for a while, you sort of forget it's there... Tell me I'm not the only one who does that!

Anyway, I know I give you guys my professional development lectures every year. I just find them so inspirational, and I find that they almost always relate to how I'm feeling as a writer.

So we focus a lot on data at my school, because we're a Title I school and a lot of our funding comes from such things. One of our speakers was talking about winning streaks and losing streaks. He said something that resonated with me. He said that it only takes two (TWO) events to get on a streak, either winning or losing. Two successes to feel confident. To self-analyze how we're doing, and what we could be doing better. Two successes to feel like we know what we're doing. (He, of course, was talking about creating successes for kids, and I, of course, agreed and then applied it to writing/publishing.) Two successes to think, "Hey, I might be good at this."

Hopefully, you've been on a winning streak before. Maybe even in publishing.

Then he said that it only takes two disappointments or failures to be on a losing streak. Two failed tests. Two instances where a student couldn't perform what they were asked to. And this is the dangerous spiral. When you're on a losing streak, you want to give up. You criticize yourself mercilessly. You have no confidence and no motivation to keep trying. Not only do we start to think, "I can't do this," we continue that thought to "I can't do this, because I'm not good at it."

Oh, how I've felt this in writing. Two rejections in a row can get you there. Maybe my book is terrible. Maybe I'm not a good writer.

Two bad reviews. My book is lame. I can't plot. I should just give up.

The trick is to take the "failures" and make them into successes. Or ignore them. Or make it so you don't even know about them.

Or eat a lot of ice cream and have a writer's group to vent to. Ha!

No matter what, I felt that what our trainer was saying was true. I've felt it as I've pursued a writing career, and I know my students feel it as they try to learn math, science, and English. My goal is make sure EVERY interaction they have is a success, and I'm going to try to work through the losing streak in writing, anticipating a success just around this next corner...

Where are you right now? Winning streak or losing streak?

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Domino Effect

Okay, so I took a little vacation last week. I've been around on Facebook and Twitter, but not much. I did buy a new car, and I've been slammed with WriteOnCon things. You do know about WOC, right? Because if you don't, you should get in on the fun! Go over to the WOC site to find out more.

Additionally, I'm working on a novel--hopefully the final polish! I've written, edited, and polished enough manuscripts now to name this stage "the domino effect."

This is the round where you're doing targeted fixes in character and plot. Seeding emotional ties you've missed before. Planting clues or details so you can earn the big payoff at the end. Ensuring the motivation is correct and strong. Those sorts of things.

It's not like adding a new scene or eliminating a chapter that isn't working and replacing it with one that does.

No, this requires a fine toothed comb, a careful eye, to find the exact location to insert maybe 15 words that will make your manuscript shine. You don't want to put in too many hints, or make them so few and far between that readers forget.

This round of polishing is really like playing dominoes. The details must be evenly spaced and perfectly aligned. The transitions must be strong so as not to give away where you've inserted said details.

For me, this is the toughest and most rewarding round of edits. The toughest, because one false move and the whole thing doesn't feel right. The most rewarding, because when you get it right... Ahhh.

Don't you think writing is like playing dominoes? 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Some Things...

Okay, so sometimes life comes at you full force. Last week was one of those weeks. In short:

Monday: Washing machine breaks down mid-cycle. I go to the laundromat. For any of you who have to do this regularly, my condolences. I realize how blessed and fortunate I've been for the past 15 years having my own washer and dryer.

Tuesday: Washing machine repairman says it'll cost $500 to fix the washer.

Also Tuesday: The ice maker goes on the fritz (again). Pull out fridge (I've actually cleaned behind it recently, so this isn't as disgusting as you might be thinking!), and inspect the line. Everything looks good, and things go well, if not a little wet because that water line wasn't all the way off...

Wednesday: Husband's car won't shift out of park. Watch YouTube videos. Go to automotive store and buy part. Begin drive home...

Then this:

Thursday/Friday: Talk to a billionty people about the car accident, the insurance, medical appointments, rental cars, etc. etc. We were in the car alone (no kids, thank goodness!), and we walked away. There's the normal aches and pains and stuff, but all in all, we are alive and healthy.

This week, we're going on vacation. I'm not quite ready for it because of the firestorm that was last week, but mentally, I'm already there. Ha!

Have you had weeks like this? And hey, isn't this what we do to our characters in our novels? "Hey, you think this is bad?? Just wait five more pages... *cackle*" I mean, seriously.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

THE PLEDGE by Kimberly Derting

Okay, so today I'm showing some dystopian love to THE PLEDGE by Kimberly Derting. I realize I'm way behind the times on this one -- but I did buy it when it came out! Sometimes books have a way of getting lost around my house. There's just so much to read, you know?

But you should definitely add THE PLEDGE to your list! Let's examine.

About THE PLEDGE: In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines your class, and there are harsh punishments if you forget your place—looking a member of a higher class in the eye can result in immediate execution.

Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie for short) can understand all languages, a dangerous ability she’s been hiding her whole life. The only reprieve from oppression is within the drug-filled underground club scene. There, she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy who speaks a language she’s never heard, and her secret is almost exposed. As the violent clashes between the totalitarian monarchy and the rebel forces escalate, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible grip of a deadly regime.

I loved Charlie as a main character. Writing a character that has a secret and can't tell is hard--trust me, I've tried! It always seems like there are people who know, or the MC tells someone randomly. Well, that didn't happen here. Charlie has a secret -- she can understand languages -- and she doesn't tell. Shocking, I know.

I liked that about her. I also liked that she was more than she knew, but she actively sought to discover the answers. Along the way, she meets Max -- who is also so much more than he seems. I liked that we got to see things from his POV too. I'm finding more and more that I liked multiple POVs in books, as long as they're done well.

And Kimberly does them well in THE PLEDGE.

If you like a little bit of magic mixed in with a very cool society, you'll like THE PLEDGE. I liked that it was dystopian (because I love dystopian!), but I also felt a lot of fantasy vibes in the book. I really liked that genre mixing.

Check out what the other Bookanistas are reading this week:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Revising in the Digital Age

Okay, so I used to go through my manuscripts over and over (okay, I still do that!), and then finally when I thought I had it, I'd print it. The hard copy was the last version I went over to find all the little things I just couldn't see on the screen.

I mean, I couldn't print my 350-page novel every other day, you know?

But now, I find that I'm not printing anymore. The goal was always to see the manuscript in a different way.

I'm using my Kindle. I can email any document (PDF or simply a Word doc) to my Kindle email address and ba-bam! It shows up, ready to read. I can change the font, the size, the background color. And I can see it in a different medium -- anywhere!

Not only that, but I recently discovered that I can HIGHLIGHT things in the text. I used to keep a notebook with me as I read my manuscripts on the Kindle. I'd take notes on what needed to change/be fixed in each chapter.

Now I can highlight those things -- and it's easy to find those notes, because Kindle keeps them in a list for me!

It's a match made in heaven. Not only that, but I can email myself a new version of my book every day if I want! I even sent myself my launch day speech. No more printing for me!

Have you used an e-reader to actually edit before? Did you know you can highlight the things you need to fix in the manuscript?? I mean, seriously!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

DUALED by Elsie Chapman

Okay, so one of my favorite genres is dystopian. I love almost everything I read, and DUALED by Elsie Chapman is no exception. Not only is the cover great (that shadow!), but it's one of those books that makes you go, "Man, I wish I'd written this!"

About DUALED: Two of you exist.

Only one will survive.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

I'm a big fan of alternate universes (think the movie The One with Jet Li), and cool names like West and Chord (the leading male MC). So automatically, DUALED had me by the throat.

West has to find and eliminate the other her. She's early in her training, and she's suffered a lot of loss in her personal life. So she's kind of messed up, and unsure about what she should do. So there's quite a bit of stumbling as she tries to figure out who she is, and if she should be the one to live at all.

And I like that kind of angst.

The action is intense and swift, with barely time to breathe between scenes. Yet somehow, Elsie manages to find moments to show West's vulnerability. I really liked her as a character, and I felt like she was exactly the person to take us on this journey. And that's what we want in a book, right?

If you liked THE HUNGER GAMES, I think you'll enjoy the action-packed plotline of DUALED (though I think West is more real than Katniss).

Find out what the other Bookanistas are doing:

Monday, July 8, 2013

It's A Matter Of Time

Okay, so I think I'm one of the most impatient people on the planet. This, mixed with the snail's pace of publishing, is not really the best mix.

Or maybe it's my snail's pace of revision that makes the months melt into years. Just when I think I've got the story figured out, there always seems to be something else suggested or discovered that makes total sense. You know those moments where you go, "Why didn't I think of that?" Especially after you've worked on a novel for several rounds.

Yeah, that's about where I am. I enjoy the process of revision. The tightening of character and plot, the re-imagining of scenes, the weaving together of story lines.

But every once in a while, there's a little voice in the back of my mind that whispers, "I wish you'd just gotten it right the first time. Then we wouldn't have wasted all these months."

Sometimes I listen to that voice. I feel a little bit anxious about the pace of publishing -- or my perceived pace of those publishing around me. I worry over things I can't control.

Sometimes I just tell that voice, "Sometimes it's just a matter of time." Sometimes I need time to think on a book, it's plot and character. Sometimes I need time away from a project. Sometimes I need time to work on a project. And none of it is wasted. I hope that in the novels I write in the future, I'll remember some of the lessons I've learned through really working on a novel for an extended period of time.

How about you? Have you ever spent so much time working on a novel that you're entertaining voices in your mind? 
(Ha!) Is it really just a matter of time until you get things right? (Please say yes!)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Characters Who Change Their Course

Okay, so I've been on the lecture circuit for a while now. I've taught many writing classes, and I've spoken to numerous book clubs and writer's groups. The thing I love most about doing these kinds of things is that I--me, myself--always learns something new.

Go figure!

So last week, I went to talk about query letters to a local writing group, Riveting Writers, and as we were talking, I said something like, "Isn't that what characters do? Change their course?"

And I had this little a-ha! moment. In all my beating out and revising and characterizing, I've never quite thought of my characters this way. But truly, every novel has a character who is choosing to change their course.

They're not coerced into changing their course. They're not dragged. It doesn't just mysteriously happen through plot devices, no matter how brilliant.

We love characters who choose to change their course.

So today, I'm renewing my effort to create and write characters who change their course.

Have you thought about your characters like that before? Are they changing their own course?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

THIS IS W.A.R. by Lisa and Laura Roecker

Okay, so today's Bookanista post is for one of my favorite reads so far this year. THIS IS W.A.R. by Lisa and Laura Roecker will knock your socks off!

About THIS IS W.A.R.: This is not a story of forgiveness...

The mystery of their best friend's murder drives four girls to destroy the Gregory family. Emily Thorne would be proud.

Everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club saw Willa Ames-Rowan climb into a boat with James Gregory, the Club’s heir apparent.

And everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club watched him return. Alone.

They all know he killed her. But none of them will say a word. The Gregory family is very, very good at making problems go away.

Enter the W.A.R.—the war to avenge Willa Ames-Rowan. Four girls. Four very different motives for justice and revenge, and only one rule: destroy the Gregory family at any cost.

I really liked this mystery from Lisa & Laura. I've enjoyed their mysteries before, but this one had so many more layers in it that I found intriguing. Maybe because of the multiple narrators? I don't know. But I really enjoyed reading THIS IS W.A.R. and trying to figure out who did what, and when.

The plotting was masterful. Details were revealed right when they needed to be, and not a second sooner. I think my favorite character was Sloan, because she just wanted to do what was best for everyone, but that's hard for her. (No spoilers, but she's a great character -- doesn't fit any of the stereotypes.)

I liked the dynamics of the girls. One of them, Rose, doesn't quite fit in the social hierarchy, but Lisa & Laura made her essential. And that fact that she doesn't belong added one of those layers I was talking about. This little detail gave the book a sense of depth that I really enjoyed.

If you like a good mystery with some (a little, I promise!) YA angst, and fabulous characterization, you'll like THIS IS W.A.R. Be sure to pre-order your copy, because this book doesn't come out until July 2!

Check out what the other Bookanistas are talking about today:

Monday, June 24, 2013

When in Doubt, DELETE

Okay, so if there's anything I've learned over the past five years, it's this: The delete key is your friend. There's nothing "darling" about words that don't work, and if you're not sure if they're working or not, chances are, they're not.

My philosophy in this situation? Delete.

When my critique partners start asking me questions about a specific sentence or passage, and I can't answer? Delete.

When my plot is feeling too heavy and convoluted? Delete.

When a chapter needs to be rewritten? Delete it all, and start from blank pages.

I have deleted entire portions of many of my novels in the past. In POSSESSION, I completely wiped out several chapters, creating a Point A and a Point B. I then rewrote a new way to get from A to B.

And you know what? It was better. It worked.

In another of my as-yet-unpublished novels, I deleted about 25,000 (that is not a typo) words--the last 1/3 of the novel. I can hear some of you going, Why? Why would you do that? Didn't you save some of them? What if there was a particularly brilliant sentence?

The truth is, the ending wasn't working, and I couldn't see how it could work with all that black on the page. So I deleted it.

As for combing through the work to find that one awesome piece, I guess I just don't care. I suppose that if I did write one brilliant sentence that might be worth saving, I could write another equally fantastical sentence to take it's place.

In fact, I'm not going for just one sentence. I'm looking to make each word the right one, each sentence more compelling, each scene vital to the overall workings of the book.

And if it's not working... Delete.

So yes, whenever I'm in doubt, I delete. Have you done this? How do you feel about the delete key?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cover Reveal!!! SALLY SLICK AND THE STEEL SYNDICATE by Carrie Harris

Okay, so *muppet flailing* (You can imagine that inside your own head however you want.) Today I'm bringing you the FABULOUS Carrie Harris's cover for her new novel SALLY SLICK AND THE STEEL SYNDICATE.

Woo hoo!

This book is coming on December 3, from Evil Hat Productions and you don't want to miss it!!

About SALLY: Every hero has a story. This one starts with a girl and a racing tractor.

Sally Slick knows she’s meant to be more than a Midwestern farm girl. What she wants more than anything is to be an inventor when she grows up—and she has the custom-built racing tractor to prove it. But good girls in 1914 don’t go off to the city in search of adventure. Everything changes when Sally’s big brother comes back from Chicago with a robot in hand and mobsters on his heels. With the help of her friend, wannabe hero Jet Black, Sally will risk everything to protect the people she loves.

Those bad guys are about to get a giant wrench thrown right into their plans.

And now... The cover!!!

Isn't it shiny and beautiful??! Yes, yes it is. And you can PREORDER IT HERE. Do it. You won't be disappointed. 

See what the other Bookanistas are talking about today!

What have you read recently that you loved?

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