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26. Writer Wednesday: Putting Yourself Out There

I recently got an email from one of my publicists asking me what events I had coming up. To be honest, it was an eye opener for me. I planned a lot of events in the spring, but then there was a gap. A big gap. I have a book tour with other authors planned for the fall, but I realized my summer was wide open, which just isn't okay. So, I got my butt in gear and started contacting bookstores.

I reached out to a bookstore owner I met at YA Fest and got a very nice email stating she'd love to have me sign at her store this summer. I also contacted the Books-A-Million by me because they were on my list for the fall witch book tour for The Monster Within. But after I talked to the manager about the tour I also asked if I could come in alone over the summer for my Touch of Death series. And they said they'd order my books right away.

Sometimes we need a reminder to get ourselves out there. I love doing events. Other than writing a new book, it's the most fun part of this career. What I don't like is booking the events because it means I have to step out of my comfort zone and sell myself and my books to people. But that's exactly what I have to do. I'm really glad my publicist emailed me, because now I can go back to her and give her a list of events I have coming up.

What are you doing to put yourself out there?

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27. Monday Mishmash 6/30/14

Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:

  1. Construction  *Sigh* I knew this was going to be bad, but ugh. I can't wait until July is over so this construction will be finished. Still no roof, which means lots of rain damage. :(
  2. July  How is it almost July already? I mean seriously? Where did June go?
  3. Editing  Amidst the craziness in my house, I'm editing for clients this week. It's keeping me sane.
  4. Books heading to production  I recently had three titles to proofread and get ready for production. So exciting!
  5. Touch of Death Series  Last week, Stalked by Death became a #1 best seller in Teen & Young Adult Greek and Roman Myths, and Touch of Death was the #3 best seller in the same category! Needless to say, I was thrilled! Thank you to all who bought copies.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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28. Friday Feature: Cold Calls by Charles Benoit


18222846
Three high school students—Eric, Shelly, and Fatima-have one thing in common: "I know your secret."

Each one is blackmailed into bullying specifically targeted schoolmates by a mysterious caller who whispers from their cell phones and holds carefully guarded secrets over their heads. But how could anyone have obtained that photo, read those hidden pages, uncovered this buried past? Thrown together, the three teens join forces to find the stranger who threatens them-before time runs out and their shattering secrets are revealed . . .


My thoughts:

The back of this book said it was Pretty Little Liars meets The Breakfast Club, and I was sold with that one line. One of my favorite TV series meets one of my favorite movies? Yeah, I'm reading it. I love suspense. The book begins with Eric getting a threatening call from someone who has been inside his house, judging by the photo the caller sends him. It was a great creepy moment to start the story. The caller knows Eric's secret, knows it and has evidence to send to everyone in Eric's phone contact list. That is unless Eric follows a list of tasks targeted at a kid at Eric's school. Eric is bullied into being a bully and winds up getting caught and thrown into a program for bullies.
At the program, Eric meets others who have gotten the same calls. Together they try to figure out who is harassing them and put an end to the sick game before all their secrets are spilled.

I really loved the cast of characters and the variations of their secrets. Finding out who the caller was also kept me turning the pages. And the ending! It was my kind of ending. Perfect for a suspense like this one. I highly recommend this book.

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29. Writer Wednesday: Group Promotion


Promotion is tough. I think we all can agree on that one. But there are ways to make it easier and one of them is to join forces with other authors. First, it's fun to cross promote with authors who write similar books. Second, you reach a bigger audience by merging your promotional efforts. Here's how I'm using group promotion right now:
  • Group Book Tour: I have a book tour in the works with three other authors for this coming fall. Bookstores love to book multiple authors for events because it usually drives in more traffic. More authors means more fans. 
  • Group Blogs: I'm also part of two group blogs, YA Bound and Darkly Delicious YA. YA Bound has been around for a while and runs the very successful Swoon Thursday meme. We get a lot of traffic on a daily basis. DDYA is relatively new and made up of YA authors who write darker books. We promote each other's books and do joint giveaways. In fact, we have one going on right now. We're giving away a ton of our books. That's another plus to joining forces with other authors. You can offer big prizes for very low cost to you and the other authors. 

Enter this giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Blog Hops:  I participate in blog hops, which also allow authors to band together and offer prizes to readers. The more authors, the more prizes, and the more happy readers.
These are just a few ways you can join forces with other authors and promote each other. I'm always looking for more ways, so feel free to share in the comments if you know of others.


Do you use group promotion?

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30. Monday Mishmash 6/23/14


Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:
  1. Construction  I stayed at my parents' house for four days to avoid the construction here. It was a glorious, stress-free break but I'm home again now. Please tell me this construction can't last forever.
  2. Limited internet access  I will most likely not have internet for most of today and maybe tomorrow because of the construction. I'll have to catch up on responding to comments once it's back on.
  3. Curse of the Granville Fortune  I'm working on final proofreading for my MG fantasy, Curse of the Granville Fortune this week. Let's see if I can get this done with all the craziness over here.
  4. Client edit  I'm also working on a client edit this week. I may have to spend a lot of time outdoors to get this accomplished. The inside of my house is a nightmare.
  5. Swimming  This is how I'm staying sane this summer. I escape to the pool when I get really stressed. I wouldn't survive without it.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?


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31. Friday Feature: Into the Fire


If you've been following my blog for a while, you've probably noticed a book called Into the Fire in my side bar. You may have also noticed that the cover has changed slightly.
Yes, that's right. It now has my Ashelyn Drake romance pen name on the book as well. Why you ask? Well, to answer that question, I'd like to share the Dear Reader letter I wrote at the start of the book.

Dear Reader,

When I set out to write Into the Fire, I thought I was writing a paranormal novel. But after I witnessed Cara and Logan together, I soon realized I wasn’t just writing a story about a Phoenix trying to save her kind. I was writing a love story. And the further I got into the novel, the more it became obvious that the book was equal parts paranormal and romance. In essence, you could remove the paranormal and have a straightforward romance, or remove the romance and have a full-fledged paranormal novel. Honestly, I prefer the blend of the two, but the tricky part became how to brand this particular series.

As many of you know, I write under two names. Kelly Hashway is my speculative fiction name, and Ashelyn Drake is my contemporary romance pen name. When it came to deciding which name should be on the cover of Into the Fire, there was really only one answer: both. For a book that is so clearly two genres, I need both my names. I hope that everyone who reads the book will agree and see why I chose to blend the names I write under.

So for the Kelly Hashway fans, I can promise you will get a Kelly Hashway paranormal novel that you are accustomed to, and Ashelyn Drake fans will get the kind of romance they are used to. It’s the best of both worlds, something for everyone.

Thank you for picking up Into the Fire. I hope you fall in love with Cara and Logan the way I have, and that you root for Cara and the Phoenixes as they fight for their lives against the Hunters.

Yours truly,
Kelly Hashway/Ashelyn Drake 

The ebook will actually release through Swoon Romance, while the paperback edition will release through Month9Books. We're embracing both genres fully, and I love it. Another change is that it was previously listed on Goodreads as a Kelly Hashway title, but it now appears as an Ashelyn Drake title. If you'd like to add it, you can find it here.

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32. Writer Wednesday: Dream Casts

 
When we're drafting a new book or are preparing for a book to be published a fun thing to do is scour actors to potentially play the roles of our characters. Yes, it's dreaming big, but like I said it's fun. Since The Monster Within released yesterday, I want to share my dream cast—well, a partial cast at least.

Samantha Thompson ~ Sam is my MC. She dies of cancer at seventeen and is brought back to life by her longterm boyfriend, Ethan. Sam is strong but falls victim to a monster inside her, one that surfaces after she's brought back to life. She definitely has a dark side, but she's also a survivor. My pick for Sam is Adelaide Kane. You probably recognize her from the TV series Reign.


Ethan Anderson ~ Ethan is the male lead and Sam's boyfriend. He loves her so much he found a way to bring her back from the dead, but he won't tell her what he did. Ethan is extremely loving and sexy, but he's keeping a big secret. My choice for Ethan is Brandt Daugherty. You might recognize him as Noel Kahn on Pretty Little Liars.


Mr. Ryan ~ Mr. Ryan is one of Sam's teachers at her new school. He happens to both help Sam get used to a new school and cause problems for her at the same time because he's the hot young teacher every girl in school drools over. This was a no-brainer for me as far as casting Mr. Ryan. He's definitely Jensen Ackles, best known as Dean Winchester on Supernatural.


Now, there are a lot of other characters in this book, but I'm not going to post them all. Instead I'm going to show you the triquetra necklace that goes along with this book, because it's not just fun to think of dream casts. It's also fun to see objects in the book brought to life. 


Do you create dream casts for your books? Do you do this before you start drafting, while you're writing, or after the book is finished?

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33. Monday Mishmash: 6/16/14


Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:
  1. The Monster Within Release Tomorrow!  Tomorrow is the big day! I wrote The Monster Within the first twelve days of 2012, and I signed with Spencer Hill Press the following September. It's been a long wait, and I'm so excited to share Sam and Ethan's story with you all. 
  2. Face of Death is the Kindle Big Deal  Face of Death is part of the Kindle Big Deal June 13 through June 28th! That means you can grab a copy for only $2.99! Get yours here. Oh, and Touch of Death is now only $2.99 as well since the full series is out. :)
  3. Out on Submission  Today my YA contemporary written under my pen name, Ashelyn Drake, goes out on submission. I'm excited and nervous!
  4. Father's Day  I hope all you dads had a great Father's Day. I didn't get to see my dad, but I we'll celebrate another day. I did have a nice day with my husband, daughter, and my in-laws though.
  5. Revisions  I'm finishing up revisions on a YA title my CPs got back to me last week. My goal is to send it to my agent in the next couple of days.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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34. Friday Feature: Significance by Shelly Crane



Significance (Significance, #1) Maggie is a seventeen year old girl who's had a bad year. She was smart and on track, but then her mom left, her dad is depressed, she's graduating - barely - and her boyfriend of almost three years dumped her for a college football scholarship. Lately she thinks life is all about hanging on by a thread and is gripping tight with everything she has.
Then she saves the life of Caleb and instantly knows there's something about him that's intriguing. But things change when they touch, sparks ignite. Literally.
They imprint with each other and she sees their future life together flash before her eyes. She learns that not only is she his soul mate, and can feel his heartbeat in her chest, but there is a whole other world of people with gifts and abilities that she never knew existed. She herself is experiencing supernatural changes unlike anything she's ever felt before and she needs the touch of his skin to survive.
Now, not only has her dad come out of his depression to be a father again, and a pain as well, but Caleb's enemies know he's imprinted and are after Maggie to stop them both from gaining their abilities and take her from him.

Can Caleb save her or will they be forced to live without each other after just finding one another?


My thoughts:
The concept of imprinting is what drew me to this book. I actually use that concept in Into the Fire, so I wanted to see how another author handled it. I have to say that Crane didn't disappoint. I was immediately rooting for Maggie and Caleb, and I felt like the connection they had was both genuine and realistic. The imprint kind of throws them into each other's arms, but that's the nature of an imprint. I liked how it was all new to Maggie and she lets the reader feel her draw to Caleb while still finding it odd to care about someone so much when she just met him.

The book has a nice balance of action and inner reflection. I was never bored and constantly wanted to know what was going to happen next. I really enjoyed both the characters and the plot. My only complaint was that I found a lot of errors in the book. I'm pretty lenient when it comes to understanding human error. Even after having a team of people proofread a book, an error can slip through. I get that. But there were enough errors for me to really notice and that makes me sad because I would rate this book a five for content and characterization, but I have to deduct a point for grammar/punctuation.

If you can get passed the errors, this story is well worth the read. Oh, and I really liked how this book sort of bridges the YA/NA age groups. I think it appeals to both.

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35. Writer Wednesday: Beth Fred's Tips on Plot

Please welcome my good friend and fellow author, Beth Fred. In addition to writing, Beth teaches courses on plot and writing book blurbs. She knows her stuff. So, without further ado, here's Beth!

Thanks for having me here to talk about plot today, Kelly.

What's the big deal about plot? Well, it's the structure of your whole story. Take a hardback fro your bookshelf. If the spine is in tact you can flip through it and not have to worry about what falls out. You can probably even stand it up, and it will stay because it has a backbone. The true backbone of that story is the plot. What really makes it stand up and stand out is the plot. It's true every now and then you come across a phenomenal book that made your faves list for other reasons like theme or characterization. Still it had to have some kind of plot even if that wasn't it's biggest strength. But most modern day bestsellers have a strong plot.

My favorite device and the plotting technique I teach is the three act structure. It's been around since the Greek plays. The three act structure is commonly used in films because it's all about keeping the tension up to push the story further and further along until it explodes into a climax and evens out in falling action. It's so popular right now because with the action scenes and sequences we are bombarded with in film and television, this is the pacing we are used to. The three act structure is by no means the only way to write a book. But it's perhaps the most common. It's in my view best and it's the one I use. 

Another likely option is GMC. Goal, Motivation, Conflict. Debra Dixon wrote the book on this, literally, and you can find my review here. I had the opportunity to meet with Debra and she says that if you are using GMC the seven pivotal scenes of the three act structure are already in your story. But GMC works like this. Your MC has a goal for some reason (motivation). Conflict is whatever gets in the way of that goal but your MC will do whatever it takes to overcome the conflict and accomplish goals because well motivated human beings just don't like things getting in their way. This is a logical pattern and the book does a good job of showing how to use this for plotting. I just think it works better for characterization.

But, Beth, I'm a pantser. Well, so was/am I. That's another thing I love about the three act structure. I start my books with a seven sentence outline. That's it. Anything more is too much.

Do you plot? How so?

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36. Monday Mishmash: 6/9/14


Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:

1. Construction  Major construction is underway and I'll be fleeing to my mom's house for a while. If I'm a little MIA, you know why. I have to drive my daughter back and forth to school each day from NJ, which won't be fun. 


2. Beth Fred's Blurb Writing Class  There are still openings in Beth Fred's online blurb writing course. Sign up here.

3. Drafting  Last week I fast drafted the opening of a new manuscript. I'm hoping to keep moving on it this week, but I'm sure my pace will slow quite a bit thanks to the craziness of this construction. Wish me luck, please!

4. Catch Me When I Fall Cover Reveal and Giveaway  My agency sister, Vicki Leigh, has a cover reveal for her upcoming YA releasing October 23 through Curiosity Quills Press. Check it out. 

Recruited at his death to be a Protector of the Night, seventeen-year-old Daniel Graham has spent two-hundred years fighting Nightmares and guarding humans from the clawed, red-eyed creatures that feed off people’s fears. Each night, he risks his eternal life, having given up his chance at an afterlife when he chose to become a Protector. That doesn’t stop a burnt-out Daniel from risking daring maneuvers during each battle. He’s become one of the best, but he wants nothing more than to stop.

Then he’s given an assignment to watch over sixteen-year-old Kayla Bartlett, a clinically depressed patient in a psychiatric ward. Nightmares love a human with a tortured past. Yet, when they take a deep interest in her, appearing in unprecedented numbers, the job becomes more dangerous than any Daniel’s ever experienced. He fights ruthlessly to keep the Nightmares from overwhelming his team and Kayla. Soon, Daniel finds himself watching over Kayla during the day, drawn to why she’s different, and what it is about her that attracts the Nightmares. And him.

A vicious attack on Kayla forces Daniel to break the first Law and reveal his identity. Driven by his growing feelings for her, he whisks her away to Rome where others like him can keep her safe. Under their roof, the Protectors discover what Kayla is and why someone who can manipulate Nightmares has her in his sights. But before they can make a move, the Protectors are betrayed and Kayla is kidnapped. Daniel will stop at nothing to save her. Even if it means giving up his immortality.
    a Rafflecopter giveaway
5. The Monster Within Teaser, Kindle Pre-order Sale, and Trailer!  Lots of good stuff going on for The Monster Within. First the Kindle edition is on sale for only $3.99. This sale won't last so get your copy here now. And here's a new teaser for you:

And…here's the book trailer:


    That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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    37. Friday Feature: Daughter of Chaos by Jen McConnel (Review)



    Daughter of Chaos (Red Magic, #1)

    Witches must choose the path they will follow, and Darlena Agara is no exception. She’s been putting it off long enough, and in her case, ignoring it has not made it go away. In a moment of frustration, Darlena chooses to follow Red Magic, figuring she had outsmarted the powers that be, since there’s no such thing as Red Magic. But alas, Darlena’s wrong (again) and she becomes a newly declared Red Witch.

    Her friends are shocked and her parents horrified by the choice Darlena has made. As a Red Witch, she now governs one third of the world’s chaos. She is the walking personification of pandemonium, turmoil, and bedlam, just as the patrons of Red Magic would have it to be.

    But Darlena believes there must be more to Red Magic than chaos and destruction, and she sets out on a journey to achieve balance. Only doing so puts her at odds with the dark goddess Hecate, who simply will not allow Darlena to quit. She encourages Darlena to embrace who and what she is and to leave good magic to the good witches. If only Darlena could, life would be simple, and she would not be the Daughter of Chaos.


    My thoughts:
    I liked Darlena from the start. She thinks she can outsmart Hecate, and for me that just spelled guts right there. Of course it backfires and she winds up pledging herself to Red Magic, which she didn't even know existed. Still, Darlena seems suited for Red Magic and the fact that Hecate wants her means she has a lot of power. Unfortunately, that power makes her a very sought after witch. Darlena doesn't know who to trust or how to use her Red Magic for good, and she winds up on a journey she never could have imagined.

    Witches and Greek gods! This seriously couldn't get any better. I have a weird obsession with Hades, and he was awesome in this story. I tore through this book, loving every second and being totally invested in Darlena and her future. McConnel has a winner with Daughter of Chaos and in my opinion, book two can't get here fast enough. If you enjoy witch books, go get Daughter of Chaos now!

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    38. Writer Wednesday: Book Expo America 2014



    BEA!!! Okay, I still haven't come down from my BEA high. This is seriously my favorite event. Why? Because I always get to hang out with really awesome writers and bloggers and publishing people. Man, I love my job.

    So, here's a recap of my BEA 2014 experience:

    First, check out the awesome Spencer Hill Press signing chart. (Do you see my name?)


    And here I am signing The Monster Within ARCs. Photo courtesy of the very awesome Miss Dvora Gelfond.

    Fellow horror writer Charles Day stopped by to get an ARC of The Monster Within.


    I got really amazing triquetra necklaces for my book, which we raffled off in baskets and during the signing. I don't think I'm ever taking mine off. It's so pretty!


    And here's the beautiful Jennifer Allis Provost who made the triquetra necklaces for me because she's that awesome.

    Brooke Delvecchio is one of the most adorable people ever. I love her.


    Here I am with Richard Shealy, one of my copy editors.

    Here I am with Jessica Porteous, Lisa Amowitz, and Elizabeth Langston.

    My agency sister, Vicki Merkel, attended my signing. 

    Vikki Ciaffone is not my editor at SHP but I love her.

    And I got to meet Eliza Tilton in person finally too! And I met J.A. Ward.


    I also had a signing as Ashelyn Drake for my upcoming YA contemporary Perfect For You. Swoon Romance was awesome about getting people to stop by my booth to pick up signed postcards and talk about the book. I also had two amazing dancers (Yes, I said dancers.) bringing people in. A special thanks to Dorothy Dryer and Dan Cohen. You two are the best cheerleaders ever! 


    After knowing Rachel Harris online for years we got to meet in person!

    Okay, and this has nothing to do with my signings or meeting people, BUT… I finally got to see Rick Riordan!!! Thank you to Dan Cohen for making sure I got a picture of Rick this time. 


    AND…I got Becca Fitzpatrick's new book! Yay! I'm so excited to read it. I loved the Hush, Hush series. I have to thank Dan Cohen for this one too because he totally snagged me a copy early and I didn't even have to wait in line.

    I had to leave early on Saturday because the train schedule changed and we are having work done on our house and had to be home for it. I was sad to go and am already counting the days until BEA 2015!

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    39. Monday Mishmash: 6/2/14


    Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:
    1. BEA  I had a blast at BEA. I'll post pictures on Wednesday. I'm still recovering from traveling and packing up my house for an addition.
    2. Construction  Construction began on my house the Saturday of BEA. I came home to find I had no ceiling in my living room. I'll have to leave for a few days when they do the demo since my entire roof is being removed. Wish me luck. It's a crazy mad house over here!
    3. Editing  I'm working on a client edit this week and copy edits on my MG novel. 
    4. Blurbing  I'm reading a book right now that I have the honor of blurbing. I'm excited, but I only have a few days to read and submit my blurb, so eek!
    5. Free Monthly Newsletter  My free monthly newsletter goes out later today. If you aren't signed up to receive it but would like to, click here.
    That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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    40. Friday Feature: Son of Set by Kelsey Ketch (Review)



    Son of Set (Descendants of Isis, #2)Seth O’Keefe has broken the laws of his god. He never thought he would sacrifice his own future to protect a Daughter of Isis. But when the Sons of Set discovered Natti is the Secret Keeper, he had no choice. Now, Seth and Natti are on the run from his father, who wants nothing more than to see Seth dead. With no allies, Seth turns to the Daughters of Isis for help, hoping they would protect Natti. But when they meet the Daughters, he discovers a secret that puts both their lives in more danger. Low on options, Seth sees only one possibility for survival. He must help Natti solve an ancient puzzle and find the secret name of Ra. 

    Natara “Natti” Stone is having a hard time swallowing the truth. She can’t believe what she has learned in the past twenty-four hours: Seth is a Son of Set blessed with charm; she is a Daughter of Isis blessed with a sliver of Ma ‘at; the locket her grandmother gave her holds an ancient Egyptian secret linking to Osiris and Isis. That along with being tortured and brutalized by the Sons of Set, she can hardly hold herself together. Thank God for Seth’s touch! That warm, tingling sensation that drowns it all out. Yet her heart struggles to stay focused. She must quickly embrace her destiny before the secret name of Ra falls into the wrong hands.


    My thoughts:
    It's rare that I like a sequel more than book one, but I did with this one. Son of Set grabbed me from the start and didn't let go. There was plenty of action and emotion throughout. The dynamic between Seth and Natti was amazing in this book. I love them together. And the twists that Ketch throws in…just wow! I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next. I don't want to give any spoilers, which is tough because I want to gush about so many things. I'll just say that I didn't see one particular twist coming, but it was genius. It's one of those things that when I read it, I could see all the things from the previous book just fall into place. It made sense, which was awesome because I hate when you come to find out something and there were no clues planted along the way. This was done so well because it was such an "OMG! I didn't see that but I totally get it now!" moment for me.

    If you haven't started this series yet, you should.

    *I'm at BEA so if I don't get to respond to comments, please forgive me. I still love you all.*

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    41. Writer Wednesday: Drafting vs Revising/Editing



    I've been kind of hard on myself lately. Why? Because I'm used to writing about six books a year, but this year, edits are getting in the way. Edits are important and have to take precedent since they are for contracted books, but sometimes I just want to write. I want to draft a new book from start to finish and not have to stop in order to edit an upcoming release. 

    There, I said it. Don't get me wrong though. I LOVE to revise and I love getting editorial feedback. The problem is that I've become a fast drafter of insane proportions. Earlier this year I wrote a book at a crazy pace, getting 18K in one day. I actually felt hungover the next day. lol I don't advise keeping that pace, nor am I looking to duplicate it. But I seem to always get to a certain point in a new draft when I'm pulled out to either revise one of my contracted books or edit for a client. 

    Again, I'm not complaining. I just miss drafting. I had to put aside a book that was surprising me left and right in a very good way. The characters had taken over. And now…I have another idea. See my problem? I have two books fighting to be written and I'm busy editing and revising. 

    What's a girl to do?

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    42. Monday Mishmash 5/26/14


    Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:

    1. BEA!!!!  I'm heading to BEA Thursday morning! Here's my schedule if you're going to be there and want to find me: Thursday-3pm signing at the Spencer Hill Press booth (2567) for The Monster Within. Friday-7:30am author breakfast. Friday-4pm signing at the Swoon Romance (PDZ638) for Perfect For You (writing as Ashelyn Drake).
    2. Memorial Day  Happy Memorial Day! We're spending the day packing up our house for an addition that is going to take place right after BEA, weather permitting.
    3. The Monster Within Monster Giveaway  Don't forget to enter the MONSTER giveaway for The Monster Within. The giveaway is open until June 17th when The Monster Within releases and you can tweet each day for additional entries. Enter here!
    4. Deadlines  I'm trying to meet the last deadline I have before BEA. It's been another crazy month for me with deadlines, but BEA will be a great reward when I'm finished. :)
    5. New teaser for The Monster Within  Check out the latest teaser for The Monster Within. This one focuses on Sam and Ethan.

    That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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    43. Friday Feature: Snip, Snip Revenge (Review)



    Genre: Contemporary Romance  Word Count: 64, 185  ISBN: 978-1-77130-816-8  Editor: JC Chute  Cover Artist: Sour Cherry Designs

    Beautiful, confident Tabby Karim has plans for the winter: nab a role in her school’s dramatic production, make the new boy Michael hers, and keep bigoted Heather—with her relentless Ay-rab comments—at bay. When a teacher’s lie and her father’s hastiness rob her of her beautiful hair, her dreams are dashed. The fastest barber in Miami Beach has made her look practically bald. 

    With all her pretty hair gone, Tabby doesn’t believe she fits the feminine role she’s auditioning for. Michael is still interested in her, but he’s playing it cool. Heather has taken to bullying her online, which is easier to do with Tabby’s ugly haircut. Tabby spearheads Operation Revenge, which proves satisfying until all of her problems deepen. After messing up, she sets to make things right.

    My thoughts:
    This book has an array of emotions. At first, Tabby is full of confidence. She thinks her long hair, which is the envy of most girls in her school and catches the eyes of most boys, makes her a beauty that can't be ignored. But when a lice outbreak hits her school and Tabby's least favorite teacher diagnoses her with lice, everything changes. Her father takes her to a barber and has all her hair chopped off. I felt terrible for Tabby because she didn't even have lice. Tabby's emotions roller coaster after this. I won't give spoilers, but Sharif shows us all sides of Tabby as she tries to figure out who she is without her beautiful hair.

    I really enjoyed seeing Tabby grow in this story. There were times when I wanted to reach into my Kindle and shake her, but at the same time I felt bad for her and understood where her anger was coming from. Sharif really handles the emotional aspects of this story well, and because of that I read this book very quickly. I think Sharif has a winner here.

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    44. Writer Wednesday: Battling Nerves at Author Events


    Today's topic came by request from Taurean Watkins after last week's Writer Wednesday post about enthusiasm. Taurean wanted some tips for how to handle author events if you are shy or if you get extremely nervous talking about your books. So, here are my tips for you all.

    If you get nervous talking about your own books or approaching potential readers, bring a friend or family member along who has read your book and is willing to talk you up. The advantage of doing this is that someone else is enthusiastically promoting you and your work, so you won't come off as the author who loves to talk about him/herself. This person can greet people as they come into the store, library, or wherever you are holding your event. They can invite people to come meet you and check out your books. 

    Now, what do you do when people come up to you if you're shy or nervous? If you're hands shake, then I suggest holding something. Got a stack of business cards, bookmarks, or other SWAG? (You should!) Hold it and hand the SWAG to whoever stops by your table. That will give your hands something to do to keep from shaking and to keep you from fidgeting.

    Next, ask people what kind of books they like to read. This takes the focus off you and gets the potential reader talking. Feel free to discuss books you love, too. It doesn't and shouldn't just be about your book that you're selling. Make a connection and have a real conversation. That should put you more at ease and get you talking. Don't like talking about your book and feeling like a salesman? That's fine. Encourage people to pick up your book, to read the blurb, and to flip through the pages. Some readers prefer to read the back cover than to ask you what the book is about.

    Too nervous to ask people to sign up for your newsletter/mailing list? That's fine, too. Have a sign-up sheet front and center so it's visible. Want to offer more but fear you're too shy? How about making a YouTube video ahead of time and then bringing a laptop so people can view the video? When you make a video, it's just you talking to your computer. The pressure of face-to-face interaction isn't there. But…by playing the video for people, you are giving them that interaction they want without having the in-the-moment pressure.

    I hope these tips are helpful, and if you have any to add, please leave them in the comments.

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    45. Friday Feature: Who R U Really?



    To celebrate the cover reveal for Who R U Really? Margo Kelly is giving away TWO Advance Reader Copies of the book! Visit www.margokelly.net to enter by Sunday, May 11, 2014!


    WHO R U REALLY?
    by Margo Kelly
    Merit Press -- September 18, 2014


    Thea's overprotective parents are driving her insane. They invade her privacy, ask too many questions, and restrict her online time so severely that Thea feels she has no life at all. When she discovers a new role-playing game online, Thea breaks the rules by staying up late to play. She's living a double life: on one hand, the obedient daughter; on the other, a girl slipping deeper into darkness. In the world of the game, Thea falls under the spell of Kit, an older boy whose smarts and savvy can't defeat his loneliness and near-suicidal despair. As Kit draws soft-hearted Thea into his drama, she creates a full plate of cover stories for her parents and then even her friends.

    Soon, Thea is all alone in the dark world with Kit, who worries her more and more, but also seems to be the only person who really "gets" her. Is he frightening, the way he seems sometimes, or only terribly sad? Should Thea fear Kit, or pity him? And now, Kit wants to come out of the screen and bring Thea into his real-life world. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit's allure, and hurtles toward the same dark fate her parents feared most. Ripped from a real-life story of Internet stalking, Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea's life spins out of control.


    About the Author:
    Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, Margo is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her debut novel and will be published by Merit Press in September 2014. Margo welcomes opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.


    Links:

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    46. Monday Mishmash 5/12/14


    Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:
    1. Back to the eye doctor  I picked up my new glasses on Friday and when I brought them home, I found out one of the lenses is not the correct prescription. *sigh* So I'm going back again today. 
    2. The Monster Within Monster Giveaway  The big giveaway I'm planning for The Monster Within begins this Friday. Want to join me? Sign up here.
    3. Mother's Day  I hope everyone had a nice Mother's Day. I had a great day with my family.
    4. Editing  I'm playing catch-up this week with client edits since my eye drama last week made it very painful to sit in front of the computer screen for very long.
    5. Curse of the Granville Fortune  I had a cover reveal on Friday for my debut middle grade novel, Curse of the Granville Fortune, which releases October 22, 2014 through Tantrum Books. Check it out!

    Find the fortune, break the curse!

    The hunt is on for an ancient treasure tied to nine-year-old J.B.'s family history. He's been having visions that make him sweaty, lightheaded, and certain he’s turning into some kind of freak—or worse, going insane. But things are worse than he imagined. The visions stem from a family curse. An ancient ancestor was accused of stealing the massive Granville fortune, and now J.B.’s entire family will suffer.

    To break the curse, J.B. must find and return the Granville’s stolen property. But he's not the only one searching for the treasure. As he sets out on his journey through a dark and foreboding forest, he'll battle his worst fears and fight terrifying creatures along the way. And when he meets two others who share the missing pieces of his visions and suffer from the same curse, the three soon realize they need to work together to break the curse before it's too late.

    That's it's for me. What's on your mind today?


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    47. Writer Wednesday: Review Pledge


    Lately, I've seen a lot of writers online talking about why readers don't always leave reviews. Honestly, if you love books and want to support the industry, then you should review those books online. It doesn't take long to write a review, and you can copy and paste it on Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes & Noble. So why don't more readers do it?

    I don't know, but I've decided that since I want others to leave reviews for my books, I'm going to make a real effort to post reviews for the books I read. I'm good at posting reviews on my blog, but sometimes I forget to post to Amazon, etc. Not anymore. I'm going to make sure my reviews go up all over. Why? Because reviews help authors. Because reviews don't have to be really long or take up too much time to write. Because I love books.

    So today I'm asking you to join me in pledging to review the books you read. Even if your review is a brief paragraph, you're helping authors and potential readers. It's worth it. Who's with me?


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    48. Friday Feature: The Monster Within MONSTER Giveaway!





    Squee! There's one month until the release of The Monster Within! That means it's time to celebrate! And what better way to celebrate than by having a giveaway? But before we get to the giveaway, check out the cover and blurb for The Monster Within.

    The moment seventeen-year-old Samantha Thompson crawls out of her grave, her second chance at life begins. She died of cancer with her long-time boyfriend, Ethan, by her side—a completely unfair shot at life. But Ethan found a way to bring her back, like he promised he would. Only Sam came back wrong.

    She's now a monster that drains others' lives to survive. And after she kills, she’s tortured by visions—glimpses into her victims would-have-been futures had she not killed them. Barely able to live with herself and trying to make things right, Sam ends up a pawn in a vicious game of payback within the local coven of witches.

    But when the game reveals what Ethan had to do to save Sam, she must make a choice that will change all their lives forever.

    Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
    ISBN:  978-1-937053-85-7
    Release Date: 6/17/2014
    Formats: Paper, e-book 

    Add it on Goodreads.
    Pre-order on B&N or Amazon. 

    So, what can you win? 



    • 1 signed copy of The Monster Within
    • The Monster Within bookmarks
    • a mask (winner's choice of purple, green, or gold)
    • a mood ring (winner's choice of small, medium, or large)
    • a triquetra necklace (not shown in picture)
    • a paperback ARC of Cold Call, a YA thriller by Charles Benoit
    • a hard cover copy of The Magnolia League, a witchy YA by Katie Crouch
    • a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (winner's choice; gift card not shown in picture)


    Sound good? Enter by filling out the rafflecopter below.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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    49. Monday Mishmash 5/19/14


    Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:

    1. The Monster Within MONSTER Giveaway  If you missed my post last Friday, I'm giving away a copy of The Monster Within, SWAG, two other YA novels, and a $10 Amazon or B&N gift card. Enter here. And here's another teaser quote for you.
    2. Website Updates  I've become obsessed with updating my website. I just added a pretty rotating banner to it as well as redesigning the entire site. Feel free to check it out here.
    3. BEA  I can't wait for BEA. I'm such a little kid. I have two signings (Thursday and Friday) and an author breakfast panel (Friday). Yay!
    4. Proofreading, Editing, and Drafting  This week I'm proofreading Into the Fire, editing for a new client, and continuing to draft a new book. 
    5. The Devil Made Me Do It Cover Reveal  My fellow Darkly Delicious YA author Shawna Romkey has a new book coming out. Check out this great cover.

    Lily is working with the angels to stifle the last of the demon outbreaks and to figure out how to stop the Silence of God, so life can get back to boring normality. But all hell breaks loose when she’s stolen from school and brought face to face with the devil himself. Lily has to find her way back home to Luc, crack the prophecy that breaks the curse silencing God, and figure out how she and Luc can ever really be together; but Lucifer has other plans for her that don’t include her ever getting out of Hell in tact.


    Coming July 1, 2014

    That's it for me. What's on your mind today?


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    50. Writer Wednesday: Tell Me What You Want



    Did the title of this post make anyone else break out into a Spice Girls' song? No? Just me? Okay, then. Moving on… I've been thinking about goals a lot lately. I've mentioned that I really want to be a NYT Best Seller, but there are a lot of other things I want too. Things that will most likely happen first. 

    So here's my list:
    • To sell foreign rights for one of my books
    • To have one of my books optioned for film
    • To sign with a big name publisher
    • To get an advance that makes me so blown away I cry and start planning a vacation
    Okay, so that's my dream list, but do you know what? There will always be something that comes before all of those. Something that will mean more to me than all of them combined, even hitting the NYT list. And that's hearing from someone who loved my books. Nothing makes me happier than getting a letter from a fan telling me how much my story touched them or how they couldn't put it down. I read because I want to become immersed in another world and feel what the characters feel. I'm so thankful to all the authors who have allowed me to do that, and hearing that I did that for a reader is the best feeling ever.

    So, yes, I want to be a NYT Best Selling Author. I do, but I want to connect with readers more.

    What about you? Tell me what you want, what you really, really want. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

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