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1. Cover Reveal for SURRENDER THE SKY

The third book in the Sary Society series, SURRENDER THE SKY, has a shiny new cover!



Release Date: May, 2014

Synopsis:

Gabby lives by two unbreakable rules: don’t expose her kind, the Sary, and don’t fall in love—too bad some rules are made to be broken.

When Gabby’s most difficult charge accidentally shoots her in front of a class full of students, the event exposes her carefully hidden identity. She shifts from looking like a normal teen to her secret Sary form, revealing her wings and the existence of her kind—immortals who try to keep people from committing suicide. Her incident attracts the attention of the next leader of the Sary, Jassen, who offers her an impossible bargain: she can keep her wings if she makes amends with those who know the truth. Things get more complicated when a rebel Sary, intent on exposing them to the world, starts interfering with Gabby’s work. And there’s no denying her attraction to Jassen, who is torn between his duties and his heart. With threats at every turn and her immortality on the line, Gabby has to find a way to save the Sary or surrender the sky forever.


Surrender the Sky is a stand alone title that follows COLORS LIKE MEMORIES and THE CHEMISTRY OF FATE, with cameos from several of the characters in the first books! It will be available in May wherever ebooks are sold!

Join in the celebration for a $10 Amazon gift card! Use the rafflecopter below for entries :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Find Meradeth Houston online at: www.MeradethHouston.com
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and of course her blog!

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2. Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

ICE DOGS
by Terry Lynn Johnson
From Goodreads: Victoria Secord, a 14-year-old Alaskan dogsled racer, loses her way on a routine outing with her dogs. With food gone and temperatures dropping, her survival, and that of her dogs and the mysterious boy she meets in the woods, is entirely up to her.
Author Terry Lynn Johnson is a musher herself and her crackling writing puts readers at the reins as Victoria and Chris experience setbacks, mistakes, and small triumphs in their wilderness adventure.  
Check out other MMGMers
and their links over at
Shannon Messenger's blog
My reviewVictoria is a fourteen-year-old musher who gets caught in a snowstorm. She has to take care of not just herself, but her beloved dogs and a lost, clumsy city boy named Chris. There’s the frigid Alaskan weather, injuries, a dwindling supply of food, and so much more they have to deal with. Even when things look bleak, Victoria struggles and persists in finding her way to safety for all of them. This is an amazing adventure story with a wonderful dog and mushing angle that I found interesting. Because of the main character’s age and fast pace, this seems to be upper MG, young YA. 

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3. Books Recently Read

16 Things I Thought Were True16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Morgan has her eyes and hands on her phone for a reason. Other than trying to achieve 5,000 Twitter followers, she’s avoiding people. Her former best friend posted a video of her dancing in men’s underwear and it went viral. One can imagine the looks and taunts she receives. At her summer job people smirk and make comments. She thinks she doesn’t have any allies, but she does. She makes friends with a jerk manager, Adam, who isn’t really a jerk, and perky Amy, who doesn’t censor herself and says the first thing that comes to mind.

It’s good that she has these two new friends by her side, because Morgan needs the support when her mom has a serious heart ailment. The idea that she might lose her mother propels her to search for her father, whom she’s never met. Amy and Adam accompany her on a road trip to Canada to meet him. Family secrets, friendship, and romance are found on this trip; some of these things bring pleasure, some bring more pain.

This YA contemporary novel is an amazing read. It has an equal balance of the serious and humorous. Morgan jumped off the page, and I loved her brothers, Amy, and Adam. Her family problems were intense and the slow romance with a new love interest was sweet. I read this via NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.

Impossible (Impossible, #1)Impossible by Nancy Werlin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Years ago, an elfin knight put a curse on a young, beautiful woman. Her daughter was cursed, her granddaughter was cursed, and so on, with all the females of this line carrying the curse. After giving birth to their first and only born, a daughter, these women went insane.

In the present time, there’s Lucy. She’s a teenage girl who lives with foster parents, because her mother has been mentally ill since she could remember. Piecing together the folksong “Scarborough Fair,” snippets of her mother’s diary, and the presence of a handsome but chilling stranger, Lucy realizes that she’s cursed. When she becomes pregnant with a daughter, she has to face the reality of going insane after the birth unless she follows the song to break the curse. She has to do three almost impossible things to save herself and the fate of her unborn child. With the help of her loved ones she sets to do these things, even though she’s running out of time and strength.

I adored everything about this book. It’s magical, suspenseful, and entirely engaging. Lucy goes through so much to figure out what she has to do to break the curse. The secondary characters, her boyfriend, foster parents, and others, jumped off the pages. I highly recommend this.

More Than Good EnoughMore Than Good Enough by Crissa-Jean Chappell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Trent has a Miccosukee father and English mother. Neither of them seem to be on his side, although he goes to live with his father, an ex-convict. A spiteful ex-girlfriend proves to be a pain in the butt, and he’s trying to get closer to Pippa, a girl he’s known for years who now seems incredibly gorgeous and cool to hang out with.

Yes, there are people in his way who aren’t looking out for his best interest, and Trent is imperfect himself, messing up in school and in relationships. He doesn’t feel good enough, he’s not a great student, he doesn’t fit in with many people his age, and he perhaps isn’t Miccosukee enough for the reservation. The setting and situations in this fast, YA contemporary read are realistic and kept me interested throughout.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Charlie Bucket, #1)Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The mysterious Willy Wonka will open his chocolate factory to five children who can find the five golden tickets hidden in his candies. I so badly wanted Charlie to get a ticket, since he seemed so deserving of one, and he eventually does. Wonka's factory holds both delights and dangers for these children. I loved this book. It's lots of fun and has that wonderful spark of childhood magic about it.

Suitcase of Stars (Enchanted Emporium #1)Suitcase of Stars by Pierdomenico Baccalario
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved the concept of this novel. A boy delivers mail in his village and meets a girl who’s affiliated with an emporium that has magical items. There are bad guys, a giant, many adventures, and the magical items are charming. I loved the illustrations, too. Unfortunately, I didn’t connect to the story or to the characters. I wonder if it’s because this was a translation, and sometimes I can’t sink into translated stories because of a loss of voice or some other element. With the title, cover, description, and illustrations I wanted to be enchanted, and I was only partially so. I’m giving this three stars, even though this could be four without my misgivings. I read this via NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.

This Journal Belongs to RatchetThis Journal Belongs to Ratchet by Nancy J. Cavanaugh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ratchet lives with her father. Her mother died years ago and her father is homeschooling her. Ratchet would very much like a female touch, not just because she’s motherless, but because she’s a tomboy who helps her mechanic father fix cars. She wants to take a class called “get charmed” at the recreational center and make friends. This will be hard considering that she and her father are the joke of the town. Her father isn’t just greasy from working on cars all day, but he also wears funny t-shirts and is an environmental activist who gets in trouble with the law.

We learn all this because of a journal Ratchet is keeping. Through a variety of home school assignments, she writes life events, scenes of a play, poems, stories, and uses other writing formats to reveal her thoughts. One of her biggest goals is to find out what’s inside a mystery box her father has been hiding. She’s sure her mother’s keepsakes are in there.

There’s plenty of conflict surrounding the mystery box, Ratchet’s quest for friends, and the city’s plan to ignore the environmentalists and tear down a park. This is a fast read, both because of the short journal entries as well as Ratchet’s amazing voice, which will carry you swiftly through the story. She’s so real and endearing. This is an amazing debut.

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4. Insecure Writer's Support Group

First Wednesday of every month.
I'm about 10,000 words into a new draft and loving it. I was planning on waiting until after edits of my 2014 releases to start something new, but I couldn't help myself. I've been drafting the past two weekends. Sure I'll have to start and stop the draft now, but I'm usually pretty good about picking up where I left off. It's another YA manuscript.

I've been writing some chapters on my AlphaSmart and others strictly on my laptop. Even though I prefer the keyboard of my laptop, I like the AlphaSmart because it has no internet, application, or software distractions. I started this new WIP on it, writing the beginning chapters to get me going.

Anyone else drafting? Are you waiting for the next stage of a project? I bought my AlphaSmart after seeing it on someone else's blog. Does anyone else rely on this wonderful device?

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5. CAMPUS CRUSH Book Blitz


The co-eds of Timberland College know a little romance is good for the soul.
Follow four couples as they try to find love in the Campus Crush Series boxset, including Nothing to Tell, Romancing the R.A., Behind Closed Doors, and Rushing Into Love.
When you're looking for love, you have to be willing to break the rules.

A closer look at the four novellas in Campus Crush:

Nothing To Tell  
Some guys have the art of hooking up down to a science. They know all the right words to say and all the right games to play.

Except...for guys like Mike Hannigan. The dude has got no game, his pick-up lines never work, and to make matters worse, his wing-man is his female best friend, Mindy.

Until one day, a mysterious raven-haired beauty catches Mike's eye and he's determined to have her. He doesn't care what lengths he has to go to. He'll do whatever it takes to perfect his game and figure out what to say without sounding like a sleaze.

But… There's always something strange about mysterious girls. They're usually mysterious for a reason and this girl in particular might be more than Mike bargained for.

Romancing the R.A. 
Noelle Buckman is looking forward to making a fresh start in college, one that doesn’t involve immature high school boys. The second she steps on campus for freshman orientation, she can sense the possibilities. Especially when she spots Andy, a resident advisor who’s not just hot but also thoughtful enough to open doors for a girl.

And Andy has his eye on Noelle. Even when her nerves take control and she thinks she comes off as a hillbilly with no direction, Andy can see what she’s really like and he’s more than a little interested.

But orientation is less than two full days and there’s an entire summer between Noelle and Andy. Will her attempt to romance the R.A. be as short-lived as college orientation?

Behind Closed Doors 
Julia Monroe is through wishing she had an older guy like her best friend Noelle does. It’s time for her to act on her desires. So when she sees sexy, twenty-three-year-old Darren McEntire eating dinner alone at the pub, she decides to make her move. The attraction between them is undeniable, and even through Julia isn’t looking for a one-night stand, she winds up back at Darren’s place the same night she meets him. Only being with him makes her realize what she’s been missing dating other guys. All she wants is Darren.

But Julia allows Darren to think she’s his age and a grad student at the nearby college. She knows she has to confess the truth, but she’s afraid to shatter what they have. Not knowing what to do, she starts the semester only to discover that her new teaching assistant is none other than Darren. With the lies out in the open and campus policy against them, Julia and Darren know the relationship should be over before it even begins. But the chemistry between them is too strong to deny.

Can they find a way to be together or are they doomed to only see each other behind closed doors?

Rushing Into Love 
As a college junior, Mindy Stanton has no interest in dating a freshman.
That is until Ben Whitmore shows up and serenades his way into her heart at the dorm social she’s running. And after hearing him sing, even Mindy can’t deny that he has a deep, sexy voice that makes her melt.

Even though Mindy makes it clear that she doesn’t date younger guys, Ben pursues her anyway. After all, he doesn’t seem like the typical college freshman, who is only interested in hooking up, partying until he can’t remember his name, or joining a frat. He’s a gentleman, a romantic, and definitely knows all the right things to say to sweep a girl off her feet.

So Mindy drops her guard. She allows herself to fall for him. Before she knows it, Ben is all she can think about. To her, he’s perfect. But it doesn’t take Mindy long to discover that even the most perfect guys… have secrets.

Add Campus Crush on Goodreads.

But Campus Crush on Amazon and B&N.

Ashelyn Drake is a New Adult and Young Adult romance author. While it’s rare for her not to have either a book in hand or her fingers flying across a laptop, she also enjoys spending time with her family. She believes you are never too old to enjoy a good swing set and there’s never a bad time for some dark chocolate. She is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

Find Ashelyn online

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6. FATE INTENDED Blog Tour

Hi Medeia! Thanks for having me over during my blog tour.


You always write the best book reviews. Me? I'm not so good at them. I'm rarely objective in my like or dislike of a book. For me, books are like people. They are all different and I usually favor them on a personal level. That does not a good reviewer make!

Take Medeia's book, Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. It's an enjoyable read, Almira Abdul is a Muslim teen trying to find love and happiness in a secular, Hollywood inspired America. Problem is, her strict Islamic upbringing makes "being cool" difficult.

Medeia does an excellent job pulling the reader into Almira's world, and for a curiosity junkie like myself, I loved learning about a culture I don't bump into every day in my tiny country town. There was also humor and a fun cast of characters from Almira's sexy, yoga practicing mom to her garbage can colliding grandpa.

As a matter of fact, it was Grandpa that made me LOVE this book.

He stole my heart when he called Santa Claus an infidel.

He was a pants-to-his-boobs, crashing his car into corners  kind of guy. He was opinionated, bossy, and oh, so narrow minded. A real trip. He saw evil behind every corner and knew this sinful, progressive world would be the downfall of his beloved granddaughter.

Grandpa was a guardian of his faith, a vanguard of his culture, and I love him for it.

For me, he is a reminder that we are all very much alike. We love our families and want what is best for them. And sometimes that means fearing the world around you, not out of nastiness or hate, but because of the worry that your culture and beliefs will not be respected in a modern world.

I know plenty of people like Grandpa. To the world, he might appear stodgy, but to me he is reminder that our roots are as important as our wings. We live in the present, with our eye on our future, but we are anchored by our past. That is a good thing, in any culture.

Fate Intended is the third book in the Coulter Men Series.  Trip is the last of the Coulter sons to find love. He’s a handsome man with all the skills a young spy needs to succeed. But when it comes to love, he misses the target. Jane is a sweet beauty who may or may not be wanted for murder. She’s hiding out as a cleaning lady when chance brings her and Trip together. It looks like a happily ever after is in the cross hairs until reality tries to destroy what fate has intended.

Elizabeth Seckman is a simple chick with a simple dream…to write stories people want to read.

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7. Books Recently Read

The Art of SecretsThe Art of Secrets by James Klise
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Saba Khan is at a tennis match, with her entire family there cheering her on, when her apartment goes up in flames. Nothing is left and investigators announce that an arsonist is behind the destruction. It’s also possibly a hate crime since the family is Pakistani. Due to the kindness of strangers, Saba’s family gets to stay in a high-rise condo, rent-free, until they can get back on their feet.

The kindness doesn’t stop there. Everyone wants to know Saba. The most popular boy in high school notices her and wants to be her boyfriend. Her Facebook friends go from the double digits into the hundreds. Reporters are at the school all the time. Saba’s classmates decide to hold an auction to raise money for the family. First they find regular things to auction, but when the Spoons, a brother and sister new to the school, find a valuable work of art by a famous artist, things become even crazier. Who should benefit from such an expensive item? The work of art is for the auction, nowhere else, but people have their eyes on it.

THE ART OF SECRETS is deftly told in multiple points of view. It was interesting how everyone viewed the Khans, their situation, and auction-related circumstances. The fire and unknown work of art added a wonderful touch of mystery. This is a unique YA story, one that will make the reader think about class, race, religion, altruism, and so much more. I read this via NetGalley,courtesy of the publisher.

The Summer I Found YouThe Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kate’s boyfriend broke up with her and she’s still longing for him. She also has to deal with a recent diagnosis of diabetes, and her family is upset with her because she’s not taking it seriously. Her sugar levels lead to hospitalizations. Aidan was a soldier in Afghanistan where he witnessed an explosion, the death of a friend, and the loss of one of his arms. He’s living with relatives and barely goes out, but he’s slowly coming out of his shell with Kate.

Aidan is two years older, he feels self-conscious about his arm, and what happened to him in the military is fresh, raw, and painful. Kate is keeping things from him, puts her foot in her mouth all the time when she’s around him, and has her ex-boyfriend on her mind. But the attraction between the two is undeniable.

Although there are heavy issues, this is a fast read that could be both YA and NA because of the characters’ age difference. I enjoyed the chemistry between Kate and Aidan and would love to read more from this author. I read the book via NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.

Hope Is a Ferris WheelHope Is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Star is not faring too well at her new school. She has a layered cut that people call a “mullet” and she openly tells people she lives in a trailer park. As one can imagine, children tease and are cruel to her. At home, her mother isn’t the most dependable person and she has a sister named Winter who writes dark stories and goes to an alternative school.

Despite all this, Star seems spunky and energetic. She is eager to start a club at school. First she names it the Trailer Park Club, which doesn’t entice people. That club breaks apart and Star heads a new club, the Emily Dickinson Club. “Hope is a thing with feathers” has a whole new meaning to Star, because she delves into what makes her hopeful. One thing she really wants is to get closer to her father. Towards the end of the book family secrets burst open. Can Star remain hopeful when she learns what her sister is going through and the truth about her father?

I really felt for Star because of her family problems and her desire to fit in at school. She also has an amazing voice. This delightful story moves well and there's never a dull scene. I read this via NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.

Secrets of the BookSecrets of the Book by Erin Fry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Imagine having a book full of images of famous people and with some bizarre sliding of your fingers you can bring them to life. Gandhi, Lincoln, Newton…boom, they appear before you, you can have a conversation with the person, and then put them back in the book. In this novel, there’s such a thing. It’s called Pandora’s Book.

Spencer meets an elderly man named Ed at a nursing home. He’s the keeper of the book and hands it over to him. Ed disappears and Spencer has no idea how to fully use the book. Also, Socrates is out and about and he doesn’t know how to get the famous philosopher back inside the book. There are also strange people following him and his friend, Gregor, as well as Ed’s granddaughter, Mel. One of the guys following them is a wicked person who popped out of another book. They need to defeat him, put the famous people back where they belong in between pages, and prevent historical figures, particularly the evil ones, from ever joining the modern world again.

I was hooked by the first chapter because the idea of Pandora’s Book was so interesting. The whole concept is highly imaginative and will appeal to many children. This book is a wonderful mix of both fantasy and history. I’m glad I read an ARC of this through NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.

Skin and BonesSkin and Bones by Sherry Shahan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Years ago someone said something disparaging about Jack’s weight and since then he’s been struggling. He’s one of the few anorexic boys to stay at an eating disorder hospital, and his nickname there is Bones. He befriends Lard, an overeater who can be abrasive, but always means well. The most important person in Jack's eyes is Alice, an anorexic ballerina who pushes herself to lose more weight and dance better.

He and Alice commence a romantic relationship, although it’s dysfunctional since they both suffer from eating disorders. He finds he’s enabling her, which isn’t the best thing when she’s so underweight. Jack wavers between aching to be bony and desiring to be healthy. Within the hospital setting, the reader gets a grasp of the thoughts and compulsions of the characters, and the difficulties they have getting rid of them.

I really liked that this was told through a male POV since most eating disorder books have a female protagonist. All the calorie counting, weighing, and other behaviors of anorexics were realistic. The book tackles a serious issue, although the banter between characters was playful and humorous. I read this via NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.

LostLost by Jacqueline Davies
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Essie is a young lady working at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. A mysterious, secretive woman named Harriet is the new girl there and Essie is fascinated with her, to the point that she follows her around, eager to get to know who Harriet really is. Why is Harriet, who seems high class, working in such horrible conditions for low wages?

At home, Essie takes care of her little sister, Zelda, as if the girl were her own daughter. Her mother, who is poor and harried, complains that Essie is spoiling the girl. When tragedy befalls the family, Essie is in denial. These are the moments in the story where the narrator becomes unreliable. What is truth and what is reality?

This story is fascinating both before and after the famous factory fire. The author does an amazing job with both characterization and setting. She takes you to the Lower East Side of Manhattan of the early 1900s. The mystery of Harriet and the truth about Zelda gripped me, and I couldn’t put down the book until I finished it in one sitting.

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8. Interview - Tammy Theriault

Today I have the lovely and funny Tammy Theriault for an interview. Give her a warm welcome. She's been in the blogging scene since 2012, so many of you might already know her. If you don't, follow her. You'll want to after this interview.

Pretend we're on Twitter. Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

It’s hashtag central right? I’ll do the hashtag lingo. How about #SarcasticChatterbox, #ThriftShopFashionista, #TellMyHubsDownDogDown, #MyKidsSmotherMeICan’tBreath,#LovesToJokeToHearTheSoundOfLaughter, #FitnessAndCulturalDifferencesRule, #EatsFoodAndWouldBeATerribleAnorexic, #Psychology/SociologyRocks, #Motorcycles,ShootingGuns,AndBillardsOhMy!, and last but not least #LovesDoingThingsForOthers.

Well, that was very descriptive. Those hashtags are very telling. :) Give my blog readers a snapshot of your publishing efforts. 

I’m getting close to ending my final revisions of LIVING RUNAWAY, so I will definitely take a “snapshot” of my querying efforts. It’ll be a picture of a mansion full of agents with an iron fence around it, but the lawn will be littered with paper airplanes professing my need for them to represent me. Doesn’t everybody do that? With binoculars ready to see if the door is gonna open or not?

A mansion full of agents? As long as there are no guard dogs on the lawn, this sounds great. I'm sure the paper airplanes will get their attention. Next, list some books or authors who inspired you. 

I shall make authors cry everywhere…not one author/book has inspired me. I’m so sorry, don’t grab those pitchforks! And now the real tear jerker…it’s all of you! Come in for a big hug, guys! But I will say there is one book that the writing style spoke volumes to me: THE LAST CHILD by John Hart. It was crazy good. Crazy…good.

How have I not heard of this book? I'm going to look it up now. What are some must-have conditions for writing?

Something to drink, and something to keep my mouth busy. Lollipops, sweetarts, smarties, redvines, etc. It keeps my hands free and my jaw from clenching tight with frustration. I’m a night writer since I work, and I prefer either no noise, or the strum of laundry washing/drying in the background. Sometimes I even tell my hubby that a certain “task” must commence so I’ll write amazing that night. :)

My mind went all wrong on that last bit. *clean thoughts, clean thoughts* Sooo...what are your favorite social media sites?

Blogger and Facebook. Blogger for obvious reasons. Through Facebook I get to see writers in our blogging world as actual humans with families and interests. Strange, right? It’s helped beyond Blogger to create deeper friendships, with some chats going long into the night. And Elizabeth Seckman and I created a private support group for writers on Facebook that has been blooming, called “Daydreamers Anonymous”. Hit me up if you want an invite in! The passcode is your bank account numbers…

I love Blogger. The Facebook group sounds awesome, although I'm one of those strange creatures who has deleted her Facebook out of fear that someone will get hold of my bank account number. According to your site, you write everything. What's your favorite format or favorite genre? 

I’m going to make perfectionist everywhere scream…I don’t have one! Here’s the thing, I don’t pigeon-hole myself into anything. Why? Because I don’t have a particular one I adore writing more than another. The idea for me is I’m writing. Period, exclamation mark, and no question mark needed. In fact, Stephen King started with magazine articles for over 5 years, then wrote his first novel CARRIE, and 15 years later wrote for Marvel Comics in between novels. Writing is writing. In the end, it’s all experience and practice.

That's a fantastic sentiment, and I like writers who are diverse and try new formats. Lastly, what's the most inspiring thing someone said to you in regards to your writing? 

“Do what’s right for YOU!!!” I have to do it my way in the end, because heck—I kind of know the girl, what she needs, and what doesn’t make her all butt hurt in the process. I can’t have that. Neither can my butt. We are attached at the hips, you know? Needless to say, I wrote that quote awhile back and began living it. And when I did…magic happened. Don’t be afraid to believe in your own magic either. KA-ZAAM!

Ka-zaam indeed. Great responses, Tammy. Before you go, give us your links so we can follow your trail of magic.

Blog | Goodreads | Facebook | Google Plus

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9. Interview - L. Diane Wolfe

Today I have L. Diane Wolfe, aka Spunk on a Stick, for an interview. If you're interested in being interviewed, my email is on my contact page.

Hello, Diane. Thank you for coming over. Since you answered my Twitter call for author posts, describe CIRCLE OF FRIENDS BOOK V...HEATHER in 140 characters or less.

Coaching basketball, useless sister, father dying - last thing Heather needs is a relationship with a workaholic who’s opposed to marriage...

That is the last thing, but I have an inkling that maybe it's good for her, unless I'm wrong. I'll have to see when I read the book. Give my blog readers a snapshot of how you got your series published. 

I originally started subsidy publishing the series, something I don’t recommend any author do if they want a career. (And don’t want to waste a ton of money.) It did teach me a lot about marketing though. Fortunately, Dancing Lemur Press was willing to take on the series and complete it.

I don't know much about subsidy publishing. I'm glad a publisher accepted the series. List some books or authors who inspired you.

Richard Adams - Watership Down
Anne McCaffrey - The Dragonriders of Pern series
Gary Chapman - The Five Love Languages series
Napolean Hill - Master Key to Riches
(Yes, quite the variety, huh?)

Yes, it is. :) And what are some must-have conditions for writing? 

When working on fiction, I enjoy music and can write in 10-15 minute segments. It’s the opposite with non-fiction though. I need silence and a good 1-2 hours to focus on what I am doing.

Interesting. I've also written in short segments, although I prefer 30 or more minutes. What are some favorite ways you promote your work?

I used to love doing book signings and interacting with readers. I still do that through my speaking gigs, but with fewer stores and less people buying print books, signings aren’t as fun anymore. Blog tours and appearances are also fun.

I understand about the personal appearances. So, what are you working on next?

I have an outline for a book with four paranormal stories, one of which will be a rewrite of story I wrote 25 years ago. Hopefully paranormal doesn’t go out of style before I finish.

I think people are always eager for a great paranormal story. What words of encouragement or inspiration would you give to unpublished writers in the query trenches?

Believe in yourself and consider all the possibilities!

L. Diane Wolfe
Professional Speaker & Author

Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” Wolfe is a member of the National Speakers Association and an author. She conducts seminars on book publishing, promoting, leadership, and goal-setting, and she offers book formatting and author consultation. She is the author of seven books, including two non-fiction titles and a NA/YA series, The Circle of Friends. Wolfe travels extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements, maintains numerous websites & blogs, and contributes to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group site.

The Circle of Friends, Book V...Heather

When confidence turns to frustration…
A new beginning awaits Heather Jennings. The position at Clemson means she will finally realize her dream of coaching basketball and Heather’s ready to focus on her duties.
Sadly, her triumph is hampered as her father and greatest advocate lies dying of cancer. Battling her grief, she must also deal with a sister who appears incapable of achievement. And once basketball season begins, a talented but cocky player challenges all that remains of Heather’s patience.
Her life changes when she encounters a man capable of handling her bold and feisty attitude. Straightforward and smug, he entices her to date him. However, the last thing Heather needs is a serious relationship with a man equally fixated on work and opposed to marriage…

Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

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10. Happy Release Week to Elana Johnson

 About ELEVATED: The last person seventeen-year-old Eleanor Livingston wants to see on the elevator—let alone get stuck with—is her ex-boyfriend Travis, the guy she's been avoiding for five months.

Plagued with the belief that when she speaks the truth, bad things happen, Elly hasn’t told Trav anything. Not why she broke up with him and cut off all contact. Not what happened the day her father returned from his deployment to Afghanistan. And certainly not that she misses him and still thinks about him everyday.

But with nowhere to hide and Travis so close it hurts, Elly’s worried she won’t be able to contain her secrets for long. She’s terrified of finally revealing the truth, because she can’t bear to watch a tragedy befall the boy she still loves.

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes | On Goodreads

Praise for ELEVATED:
"ELEVATED will take you on an emotionally gripping journey through the highs and lows of first love."
~Carolee Dean, author of Take Me There and Forget Me Not

"Poignant, raw, and intense, ELEVATED is a novel that will grip your heart and linger in your mind long after you turn the last page."
~Stasia Ward Kehoe, author of Audition and The Sound of Letting Go

About Elana Johnson: Elana Johnson’s work, including Possession, Surrender, Abandon, and Regret, published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), is available now everywhere books are sold. Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available for free download, as well as a Possession short story, Resist. School teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog or Twitter. She also co-founded the Query Tracker blog, and contributes to the League of Extraordinary Writers.

Social Media LinksWebsite/Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Wattpad | League of Extraordinary Writers | WriteOnCon | Elana on Goodreads:

My Review: Elly has several deep issues she’s been dwelling on. She has an ex-boyfriend she doesn’t want to talk to. She feels responsible for a horrific accident her best friend went through…there’s more, but I don’t want to become spoilerish. She has to face things head on when she’s stuck in an elevator with Travis, her ex. Talk about tension!

I adore novels-in-verse, so I was ecstatic when I received an ARC of Johnson’s ELEVATED. It’s a great addition to this genre and style. The author is skilled in verse and knows how to write a superb YA contemporary book.

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11. Interview - Kate Scott

Today I have Kate Scott over to talk about herself and her writing. She has a new release out, a YA entitled COUNTING TO D. It was a pleasure to read and I'm thrilled to have her here today.

I've read it, but for those who haven't encountered it yet describe COUNTING TO D.  

Counting to D is a contemporary young adult novel about a dyslexic fifteen-year-old girl named Samantha Wilson, who was diagnosed with dyslexia as a young child. When her mom gets a new job and forces Sam to move to a new town, Sam sees it as her chance to start over and put her learning disability behind her.

In addition to trying to keep her little illiteracy problem a secret, Sam also struggles to make new friends. Two of the first people she meets are Nate (her charming chemistry lab partner) and Eli (the basketball star in need of a math tutor). Nate and Eli are nothing alike, and Sam doesn’t seem to have anything in common with anyone.

Sam’s got to get the grades, get the guy, and get it straight—without being able to read.

I'm wishing many sales and reviews for your work. Give my blog readers a snapshot of how you got COUNTING TO D published.

My path to publication was a bit unusual. I signed with a literary agent back in 2011. By the beginning of 2013, she still hadn’t sold my novel to a traditional publisher, and it became clear it was time to part ways. Instead of seeking a new agent, I decided to look into smaller presses. The publishing industry has changed a lot in the past few years, and I believe small, boutique-style presses will be the publishing model of the future.

Once I started looking into different presses to submit to, I found myself thinking, “That looks like fun.” I love to write, but I like doing a lot of other things, too. Being the executive editor of a small press is my dream job. So in the summer of 2013, I founded Elliott Books, LLC. I then acquired COUNTING TO D as its first title.

While I am doing all the things a self-published author would have to do, I don’t think of myself as being self-published. I am small-press published. I just happen to be both an author and the executive editor of the press I’m using.

I chose to release COUNTING TO D first because I want to learn what I’m doing and make all my mistakes on myself. My goal is to open Elliott Books to submissions from other authors by the summer of 2014.

It would be fantastic to open the door for other writers! List some books or authors who inspired you. 

I’m inspired by great writing, so I guess the easiest way to answer this question is to list some of my favorite books and authors.

I love Sarah Dessen’s characters. She always has great main characters, but she also always has wonderfully complex minor characters. I love how all of her books are set in the same community, and a minor character in one book can appear as a major character in another book. Together, all her books tell a larger story—everyone is interesting, and every character (no matter how minor they may appear) has a story of his or her own. In an attempt to emulate this in my own writing, my second novel, THE EVOLUTION OF EMILY, is set at the same school as COUNTING TO D, and some of the characters overlap.

I love Maggie Stiefvater’s words. She writes unique urban fantasy that is almost impossible to describe. A book about man-eating water horses doesn’t sound all that interesting or compelling to me, but THE SCORPIO RACES is probably my favorite book of all time. The reason is simple: Maggie can write! Reading her words inspires me to keep working at my own craft. I hope one day I’ll be able to construct a sentence the way she does.

I love Laurie Halse Anderson’s drama. In recent years, the term “Contemporary Young Adult” has become synonymous with “Teen Romance.” Changing hormones are a huge part of adolescence, and I do enjoy the romantic element of many YA novels. But there is more to life than romance, and Laurie Halse Anderson writes better “issues books” than anyone else. Her characters aren’t pure angst; they’re normal teens, dealing with very real problems. I love all of her novels, and her words definitely inspire me to push myself and my characters to tackle bigger issues.

I've read all three authors and also admire them greatly. Next question...what are some must-have conditions for writing?

I prefer to write with my laptop on my lap, not at a desk. I have a big, overstuffed recliner in my office, which is where I do most of my writing. I can write just about anywhere, though, and I don’t have any real “must-haves.” I do prefer it to be quiet when I’m writing. I’m a very auditory person and often find it hard to tune out sounds around me, so music (especially music with lyrics) can be a big distraction.

What are some favorite ways you promote your work?

Since this is my first novel, I’m still learning the ropes of self-promotion. So far, I have had a lot of great responses from bloggers (like you). I expect that, even after I discover lots of other PR avenues, blogs will still be my favorite because they give me a chance to connect both with readers and with other writers. Writing can be a very solitary activity, so I always enjoy forming connections with other people working in this industry.

Blogging remains my favorite after all these years. And what are you working on next? 

I’m currently working on a book called THE EVOLUTION OF EMILY. It is a companion title to COUNTING TO D and is set at the same high school. I’m having a lot of fun getting to know this new cast of characters, as well as getting to know some of my old characters better. For example, Miles from COUNTING TO D plays a big role in THE EVOLUTION OF EMILY and is such a quirky guy; he is very fun to write. I expect THE EVOLUTION OF EMILY to be released in the fall of 2014 or spring of 2015.

I look forward to it. What words of encouragement or inspiration would you give to unpublished writers in the query trenches? 

Don’t be afraid to reassess your dreams. If you can land a big name agent, and then a subsequent big name publisher, that’s great. But the publishing world is in the midst of a major transition. Twenty years from now, the big New York-based publishing companies will probably all be gone, or at least redefined. If you’re a new writer who hopes to still be writing in 20 years, you don’t have to wait in line to buy tickets for the Titanic. You can submit to small presses. You can self-publish. You can team up with other authors and create a press of your own. This industry is changing, but people are still reading.

Your first goal should always be to write a great story. Once you’ve done that, you need to find a way to connect that story with readers. But there are many paths you can take to find those readers. If your first dream doesn’t come true, don’t give up—just find a new dream.

The publishing world is indeed changing. Thank you for answering my questions, Kate.

Find Kate: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google+

Bio:
Kate Scott lives in the suburbs outside Portland, Oregon, with her husband Warren. Kate was diagnosed with dyslexia as a young child but somehow managed to fall in love with stories anyway. COUNTING TO D is her first novel. When Kate isn't writing, she enjoys listening to audiobooks, camping, and spending time with her friends and family. Kate also spends a lot of time doing math and sciency things and is a licensed professional engineer.

Official Synopsis for COUNTING TO D:
The kids at Sam’s school never knew if they should make fun of her for being too smart or too dumb. That’s what it means to be dyslexic, smart, and illiterate. Sam is sick of it. So when her mom gets a job in a faraway city, Sam decides not to tell anyone about her little illiteracy problem. Without her paradox of a reputation, she falls in with a new group of highly competitive friends who call themselves the Brain Trust. When she meets Nate, her charming valedictorian lab partner, she declares her new reality perfect. But in order to keep it that way, she has to keep her learning disability a secret. The books are stacked against her and so are the lies. Sam’s got to get the grades, get the guy, and get it straight—without being able to read.

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12. FERAL Cover Reveal

It’s too late for you. You’re dead.

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

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire quickly realizes something is wrong—the town is brimming with hidden dangers and overrun by feral cats. And her fears are confirmed when a popular high school girl, Serena Sims, is suddenly found dead in the icy woods behind the school. While everyone is quick to say Serena died in an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it—for she was the one who found Serena, battered and most certainly dead, surrounded by the town’s feral cats.

Now Claire vows to learn the truth about what happened, but the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to discovering a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley. . . .

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

FERAL will be released August 26, 2014 with HarperCollins. 

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13. Books Recently Read

Abby Spencer Goes to BollywoodAbby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Abby Spencer has never met her father. What she knows is that her American mother dated him in college, he went back to India, and his mother tried but couldn’t get in touch with him there. When Abby has an allergic reaction that might be hereditary, she and her mother try harder to reach him. He’s been elusive because he’s been going by a stage name. He’s now Naveen Kumar, big Bollywood superstar and heartthrob.

Soon Abby is on a plane to Mumbai to meet her estranged father, who had no idea about her existence. She’s wowed by the people, the city, and her famous father and his films. How do they break it to the public that he has a daughter? Will Abby be able to keep this secret until that time comes?

This was a fun, light read. I loved Abby’s voice, her real feelings about family, and her enthusiasm about India and her father’s side of the family. I’m sure the middle grade audience will adore this book. I read this via NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.

Counting to DCounting to D by Kate Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sam is a dyslexic math whiz who finds comfort in numbers, not in words. When her unemployed mom finds work in another city, she has to move. In her new school, she finds herself taking AP classes and falls in with the smart kids. Having to take beginning Spanish and possibly facing special ed classes might ruin her façade, because with her new clique she’s hiding the fact that she’s practically illiterate. She’s good at memorization and distracting people when it’s her time to read, but the truth will spill out. There are ways to cope and seek help, although Sam can’t help but feel anxious. The author tackles an important issue with this well-plotted story. Sam is a great character and someone to root for.

Sheltered Volume 1 TPSheltered Volume 1 TP by Ed Brisson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vic and Hailey are renegades who don’t believe Lucas, a boy their age who wants to be leader of their survivalist group. According to Lucas, a huge volcano is about to blow and everyone will need to take shelter underground for years. In order to survive, the current population needs to decrease. Lucas and his followers kill all the adults, which means the parents…when some people don’t believe in this philosophy and are heartbroken by their loss. It was interesting seeing the tension between Lucas’s followers and the rebels. There’s a lot of bloodshed, gore, and language in this book, so it’s not for the faint of heart. I didn’t quite believe in the kill-all-the-parents thread. It needed something stronger behind it, rather than the weak explanation presented in the book. This is a four star book for me. I read this via NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.

Hero for HireHero for Hire by Milo James Fowler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Darrel is twenty-seven and still lives with his parents…not exactly a winner in life, but he is a winner in his fantasies. He imagines himself to be an amazing samurai warrior with a sword he bought on eBay. He decides it's time to make his mark by advertising himself as a “hero for hire.” After a few crank calls, he gets an actual client. He sets off to prove himself and some funny circumstances unfold. I'd love to read more about Darrel and his hijinks.

The White AlbumThe White Album by Joan Didion
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After stumbling on this book on a blog that featured a rave review, I had to get this. THE WHITE ALBUM is an amazing collection of essays about the 60’s and 70’s, it’s people, events, and zeitgeist. Also, snapshots of the author’s life were quite interesting. I’d love to read more from this author, both her fiction and non-fiction.

Smoke (Burned, #2)Smoke by Ellen Hopkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

SMOKE follows two sisters, Pattyn and Jackie. Pattyn is on the run after defending her sister by killing one of her abusers. Jackie is left behind, with serious issues of a community cover-up surrounding her history of abuse. Pattyn drifts farther away, in disguise, and builds a new life for herself. Every plot point was amazing and I couldn't wait to see what would happen with the two young ladies. This is an intense novel in verse. Next to CRANK, this might be my second favorite from this author.

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14. More Good News

Fellow bloggers, I have another book coming out in 2014. You must think I've been on some writing frenzy since I recently announced SECRETEST. BOYFRIEND. EVER. for spring and VITAMINS AND DEATH for the fall. VITAMINS AND DEATH I finished over the summer, but the other two books, SBE and the new one I'm about to announce, are 2 years or older. I've been submitting and getting offers is all. :)


I signed a contract with Evernight Teen for the release of THE WINTER I LOST ALL MY PRETTY HAIR. This is the TWILAMPH abbreviation I've been referring to all along in my ROW80 updates. 

Here's the synopsis:

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.

Add it to Goodreads here.

If you'd like to help me promote this book this spring, there's a form below. It's only for a cover reveal and interested reviewers. Instead of doing a blitz or tour, I'm planning on doing a fun blog hop with prizes.

This YA contemp book was a blast to write and I can't wait to have it out in the world. Thank you in advance to those of you who sign the form, and I'm always willing to return the favor.

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15. Interview - Shane Bowen

Today I have author Shane Bowen for an interview. Give him a warm welcome. He answered my Twitter call for author interviews. If you're interested in being interviewed, email me. The address is on my contact page.

Briefly describe your latest novel so that we can become acquainted with your work.

COPS AND ROBBERS is the story of a young reporter who gets the break of a lifetime when he lands a widely sought after interview with former police chief Boyd Craig. Boyd is an old man who tells the story of his life and career in the city of Moyenne. From the time Boyd was a young man, he had to choose to follow the law or organized crime. Find out what drove him and what he wants his legacy to be!

Boyd sounds like an intriguing character. Give my blog readers a snapshot of how you got COPS AND ROBBERS and your other novels published. 

I am a self-published author. Perhaps someday I will switch to a more traditional route, but then again, what is "traditional" these days? I have relied on family and friends to proofread and edit my books at this point. COPS AND ROBBERS was no different from the first three, although I did have more people willing to get a sneak peek at the story to help me prepare it for the public eye.

List some books or authors who inspired you.

John Grisham, and Stephen King are certainly my two favorite writers. I am inspired by most any book I have read because they each remind me that I can do this. Books of all sorts remind me that every story should be told, it is just a matter of learning how to tell it right.

Yes, it can be done. What are some must-have conditions for writing? 

I write better with a little bit of noise in the background, whether that is music or chatter of a coffee shop. Time of day is irrelevant to me and I do not have a particular place that helps me write.

What are some favorite ways you promote your work?

I am still learning and developing my promotion techniques, but it seems that utilizing Facebook and Twitter have helped me so far. I am in the developmental stages of a website and a blog, so hopefully that will push me beyond the area where I live. Book signings are also a lot of fun, but not necessarily a great way to spread the word.

What are you working on next?

I am currently working on THE RECKONING, which is the final book in a three book series. It is the culmination of a story that started in the early 1700s and reaches into present day. Two secret organizations, founded in Hannover, have pursued each other for centuries, until a break for one them sets things into full swing.

What words of encouragement or inspiration would you give to unpublished writers in the query trenches?

Keep trying. Submit, submit, submit. I haven't gotten that glorious acceptance letter yet, but I think it will happen someday. Let people read your query letter, especially someone who has been signed! Find out what publishers want to hear and put those words in front of them.

Keep plugging away, Shane. Thanks for coming over.

Find Shane

Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads
Lulu.com

About Shane

I am a 36 year old, self-published author. I love telling stories and seeing the look on a person's face when they enjoy hearing my story. I have a bachelor's degree in business administration, but I am currently working on becoming a math teacher.

COPS AND ROBBERS

This is the story of former police chief Boyd Craig. Reporter Alan Truitt is chosen to tell the story of this legendary police officer from Moyenne. Follow Boyd from his childhood through to present day. Learn of his adventures and what made him a legend in his own time.

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16. Insecure Writer's Support Group

First Wednesday of every month.
I’ve been writing numerous review and promo posts that I haven’t had a big update about myself. Here’s what going on with me in the writing front.
  • I have a middle grade that’s half-way finished that I haven’t worked on in a month. I’ve been busy writing blitz posts for my two releases this year, so I can’t wait to return to actual writing. 
  • I’ve been taking my horror MG to my critique group. I should be all done with revisions by late spring. I really like how it’s turned out.
  • When I was doing ROW80 updates, one of the abbreviations I used for a contemporary YA I was working on was TWILAMPH. I’ve been submitting that project and crossing my fingers for it.
That’s about it. What’s going on with all of you? 

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17. Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday


THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY

by Holly Schindler
From Goodreads: “Beasts of the Southern Wild” meets Because of Winn Dixie in this inspiring story of hope.

August “Auggie” Jones lives with her Grandpa Gus, a trash hauler, in a poor part of town. So when her wealthy classmate’s father starts the House Beautification Committee, it’s homes like Auggie’s that are deemed “in violation.” Auggie is determined to prove that she is not as run-down as the outside of her house might suggest. Using the kind of items Gus usually hauls to the scrap heap, a broken toaster becomes a flower; church windows turn into a rainbow walkway; and an old car gets new life as spinning whirligigs. What starts out as a home renovation project becomes much more as Auggie and her grandpa discover a talent they never knew they had—and redefine a whole town’s perception of beauty, one recycled sculpture at a time. Auggie’s talent for creating found art will remind readers that one girl’s trash really is another girl’s treasure.
Check out other MMGMers
and their links over at
Shannon Messenger's blog
My reviewAuggie Jones lives in a town that’s separated. There are people like her who have circles around their knees and those who wear brand new clothes. Auggie lives with her grandfather Gus, a trash hauler, in the poor side of town. When her wealthy classmates’ parents create the House Beautification Committee, Auggie throws herself in the process. She and her grandfather turn trash into treasure. They create amazing sculptures from junkyard finds to put on and around their home.

This doesn’t sit too well with the committee. Even though many agree Auggie’s house is lovely, the city labels it an eyesore and slaps Gus with a bunch of fines. Auggie has to contend with snobs, a family secret, and so much more. The question of what is beauty and what is art also arises. 

This is a unique story with a fantastic heroine who has a lot on her plate. I liked the people who were on Auggie’s side, while the antagonists really got under my skin. I loved reading Holly Schindler’s first middle grade novel. I’ve read her YA novels, and she’s also amazing writing for this age group. 

A few days ago I had Holly here for 3 Truths and a Lie. Today the lie will be revealed.

1) I once worked as a model.  Favorite gig?  A floral show—I wore a formal, was escorted to the end of a catwalk by a male model in a tux, and modeled bouquets.  Those bouquets were more creative than any of the outfits I ever wore.
2)  I’m a lifelong Springfield-Missourian, and one of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils taught me to play guitar.
3) Speaking of famous Springfieldians, I once had lunch with Brad Pitt.  Totally by accident, we wound up at the same lunch counter when he was home visiting family.
4)  I’m also a movie buff (which is why the Brad Pitt encounter was exciting), and when I love a movie, that love is complete and total.  I often find myself imitating my favorite looks from movies—I cut my hair trying to mimic a Grace Kelly ‘do in college, and in high school, I proudly wore the same gloves Watts wore in SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL.  (My gloves were black instead of red.) 

The lie is #3. Looking at the comments, only some of you guessed right. 

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18. THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY TOUR

I'm a big fan of Holly Schindler. I've read both her YA books, PLAYING HURT and A BLUE SO DARK. When I heard she has a middle grade coming out, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, I was eager to host her for her tour. I asked her to give us 3 Truths and 1 Lie. 

3 Truths 1 Lie – Holly Schindler
1) I once worked as a model.  Favorite gig?  A floral show—I wore a formal, was escorted to the end of a catwalk by a male model in a tux, and modeled bouquets.  Those bouquets were more creative than any of the outfits I ever wore.
2)  I’m a lifelong Springfield-Missourian, and one of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils taught me to play guitar.
3) Speaking of famous Springfieldians, I once had lunch with Brad Pitt.  Totally by accident, we wound up at the same lunch counter when he was home visiting family.
4)  I’m also a movie buff (which is why the Brad Pitt encounter was exciting), and when I love a movie, that love is complete and total.  I often find myself imitating my favorite looks from movies—I cut my hair trying to mimic a Grace Kelly ‘do in college, and in high school, I proudly wore the same gloves Watts wore in SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL.  (My gloves were black instead of red.) 

The lie will be revealed in a few days. We'll see who was right and who was wrong.

Book Description:

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” meets Because of Winn Dixie in this inspiring story of hope.

Auggie Jones lives with her grandpa Gus, a trash hauler, in a poor part of town.  So when her wealthy classmate’s father starts the House Beautification Committee, it’s homes like Auggie’s that are deemed “in violation.”  But Auggie is determined to prove that there’s more to her—and to her house—than meets the eye.

What starts out as a home renovation project quickly becomes much more as Auggie and her grandpa discover a talent they never knew they had—and redefine a whole town’s perception of beauty, one recycled sculpture at a time.

Holly Schindler’s feel-good story about the power one voice can have will inspire readers to speak from their hearts.

Reviews:
"...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve." – Kirkus Reviews
"Axioms like 'One man's trash is another man's treasure' and 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder' come gracefully to life in Schindler's tale about the value of hard work and the power of community…Auggie's enthusiasm and unbridled creativity are infectious, and likeminded readers will envy her creative partnership with [her grandfather] Gus." – Publishers Weekly

Links: Twitter | Facebook | Author Site | Blog Holly Schindler’s Middles | YA Outside the Lines (YA Writers' Group Blog) | Smack Dab in the Middle (Middle Grade Writers' Group Blog)

a Rafflecopter giveaway The next stop on the tour will be February 1st at Darlene Beck-Jacobson's blog.

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19. Bish Denham's ANANSI AND COMPANY

I received an ARC of this for review and was so glad I did. This is an amazing collection of tales about a rascally spider named Anansi. Some of my favorites were “Anansi and the Cooking Pot,” “The Pea that Made a Fortune,” and “Escaping Tiger.” There were also clever riddles interspersed throughout the book, difficult ones I might add. Overall, this was a delightful read.

More about ANANSI AND COMPANY and the author...

How do you escape a hungry tiger? Why do ram-goats smell? What happens if you get too greedy? In this collection of ten retold Jamaican stories, Anansi the spider tricks, sings, and dances his way into and out of trouble.

But who is Anansi? It was the Ashanti of West Africa who brought the spider into the Caribbean. He clung tight to the web he wove in the minds of those who had been captured, surviving not only the harrowing passage across the Atlantic Ocean, but hundreds of years of slavery.

As a trickster, Anansi has both good and bad traits, which makes him very human. Sometimes he wins, sometimes he loses. When he wins he dances and sings for joy. When he loses, he shakes it off and keeps on living, a lesson for us all.

Bish Denham, whose mother's side of the family has been in the Caribbean for over hundred years, was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. She still has lots of family living there and visits them regularly.

She says, "Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book. Columbus named them, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. Pirates plied the waters and hundred of years of slavery left its indelible mark. It was within this atmosphere of magic and wonder that I grew up. My hope is pass some of that magic and wonder on to my readers."

You can learn more about Bish by visiting her blog,Random Thoughts. She can also be found on Facebook,Twitter, and Goodreads

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20. VITAMINS AND DEATH Info

I was thrilled when Brinda Berry created a trailer for my upcoming novel, VITAMINS AND DEATH, which will be released by the end of the year. Here it is. Thank you so much, Brinda.



If you would like to help me promote this novel, the form is below. The ebook will be released December 10th. If you are on a blog break at that time, we can postpone some of the posts for January. Please note that this is the first time I'm posting this form. There was another form on this blog a few weeks ago for my other to-be-released novel.

The form has been removed so I have a set number of promo posts. Thank you to those of you who signed up.

Also, if you did not sign up for the blitz for my other 2014 release, SECRETEST. BOYFRIEND. EVER., the form can be found here. I will be deleting the SBE form in a few days since I'm composing promo posts this week and need a definite number in order to work on other things.

Thank you so much to those who signed up for SBE and those who'll sign up for the V&D blitz. I'm always willing to return the favor.

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21. ELEVATED Cover Reveal

About ELEVATED: The last person seventeen-year-old Eleanor Livingston wants to see on the elevator—let alone get stuck with—is her ex-boyfriend Travis, the guy she's been avoiding for five months.

Plagued with the belief that when she speaks the truth, bad things happen, Elly hasn’t told Trav anything. Not why she broke up with him and cut off all contact. Not what happened the day her father returned from his deployment to Afghanistan. And certainly not that she misses him and still thinks about him everyday.

But with nowhere to hide and Travis so close it hurts, Elly’s worried she won’t be able to contain her secrets for long. She’s terrified of finally revealing the truth, because she can’t bear to watch a tragedy befall the boy she still loves.

Buy Links: Kobo | iTunes | Goodreads | Amazon (some links are pending)

Praise for ELEVATED:
"ELEVATED will take you on an emotionally gripping journey through the highs and lows of first love."
~Carolee Dean, author of Take Me There and Forget Me Not

"Poignant, raw, and intense, ELEVATED is a novel that will grip your heart and linger in your mind long after you turn the last page."
~Stasia Ward Kehoe, author of Audition and The Sound of Letting Go

About Elana Johnson:Elana Johnson’s work, including Possession, Surrender, Abandon, and Regret, published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), is available now everywhere books are sold. Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available for download, as well as a Possession short story, Resist. School teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog or Twitter. She also co-founded the Query Tracker blog, and contributes to the League of Extraordinary Writers.

Social Media Links: Website/Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Wattpad | League of Extraordinary Writers | WriteOnCon | Goodreads

And there's a giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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22. Cover Reveal for REBORN by Cherie Reich


The stunning print cover.
The ebook cover.
To save a kingdom, a prophetess must challenge Fate.

On the day of Yssa’s death and rebirth, the god Apenth chose her as the Phoenix Prophetess.

Sea serpents and gods endanger the young prophetess’s journey and sour the omens. Yssa is cursed instead of blessed, and her duties at the Temple of Apenth prove it. She spends her days reading dusty scrolls, which does nothing to help her forget Tym, the boy back home. But the annoying yet gorgeous ferryman’s son Liam proves to be a distraction she can’t predict, even though he rarely leaves her alone for two sand grains.

Her boring temple life screeches to a halt when visions of her parents’ murders consume her. Yssa races across an ocean to stop the future. If she can’t change Fate, she’ll refuse to be the Phoenix Prophetess any longer. Fate, however, has other plans for her and the kingdom.
Yssa must either accept her destiny or fight to change Fate.

Reborn, book one of The Fate Challenges, by Cherie Reich will be released on May 23, 2014. For more information about Cherie Reich and her work, please visit her website or blog. The cover art is created by Laura Sava. To add on Goodreads, click here. If you’d like to be notified when Rebornreleases, please sign up for her newsletter here.

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23. Books Recently Read

Ophelia and the Marvelous BoyOphelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ophelia, her sister Alice, and her father move to a place where it’s always snowing. Ophelia’s mother passed away, but her presence lingers. She’s going to help Ophelia battle the evil Snow Queen. The strangeness of the museum and whom she finds there is unbelievable, but her curiosity and determination remain steady.

Inside the museum where her father works is a boy who’s been trapped for over three hundred years by the Snow Queen. Ophelia must not only save him, but save the world. Circumstances involving strange creatures and deadly situations don’t scare Ophelia away. The boy’s story of how he came to be there is intriguing, and Ophelia faces her own journey of magic and heroism.

The setting and storyline are rich—I was absolutely lost in them in the few hours I read this. This modern take on fairy tales will surely captivate young people. I read this via NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.

8-Bit Christmas8-Bit Christmas by Kevin Jakubowski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jake Doyle wants a Nintendo for Christmas. It’s the 80’s and all his friends have to line up outside Timmy Kleen’s house, fawning over and bribing him to be let inside since he has the neighborhood's only Nintendo. The game system is hypnotic. But when something wacky, unexpected, and dangerous happens, Nintendo is banned in their small town of Batavia, Illinois.

There’s no stopping Jake from trying to get his own system, though. He’ll help his sister get a Cabbage Patch Kid if she helps him get a Nintendo. He’ll attempt to sell the most Cub Scout wreaths for the chance to win the prize of a gaming system. He and his friends will make the utmost sacrifice to pool their money together to buy their own. Time after time, Jake and his friends face the frustrations of not being able to acquire a Nintendo. Christmas is nearing. Maybe Santa will grant Jake’s wish.

This book was laugh out loud funny. Also, I loved the suburban setting, Jake’s parents and other secondary characters, the nostalgia, and all the names of the candy, toys, and shows of the 80s. I recall many of the games mentioned, and yes they were addictive, so I completely understood where Jake was coming from. Great writing and a trip back in time made this a delight to read. I read this via NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.

Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for HalloweenScaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween by Mélanie Watt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The narrator is a scared, germphobic, super-organized little squirrel who gives tips on how to have a safe Halloween. Not to worry, despite the squirrel's worrywart ways, the reader can still have an enjoyable Halloween following his advice. This is a cute book. I also liked the illustrations, lists, and other features. I read this via NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.

Tell Me WhenTell Me When by Stina Lindenblatt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amber is a wounded young woman. Starting her first year of college, she suffers from nightmares, flashbacks, and other signs of PTSD. She’s on the brink of failing her math class. Also, because of a horrific stalking incident that happened the previous year, she doesn’t want any men making moves on her, but they do anyway despite the way she hides behind clothes and friends.

That’s when Marcus steps in. He’s irresistible and his personal life consists of a string of one-night stands. He pursues Amber, but she doesn’t seem to want him, which is puzzling since women normally throw themselves at him. She does hire him to tutor her in math and the two form a tentative bond. They’re both hurting and hiding terrifying secrets. What happened to the both of them threatens their budding romance. Also, with someone menacing sending messages to Amber, perhaps her stalker isn’t locked up, or he has someone on the outside working to harm Amber and anyone close to her.

This novel has a strong balance of both emotions and pure suspense. I was teary-eyed with the romance and the revelations of Amber and Marcus’ past, and how they were slowly opening up to each other, and I was also on the edge of my seat in regards to the stalker. The secondary characters were fleshed out well and they were fantastic complements to the two main characters. This is a superb NA novel from a talented debut author. I read this via NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.

'90s Island: A Novella'90s Island: A Novella by Marty Beckerman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twin brothers Jack and Zack have always been wistful for the 90s, their coming of age decade. They shun modern things and wish they could turn back time for the music, movies, junk food, video games, dial-up internet, and other decade markers. After turning the big 3-0 and launching a Kickstarter campaign, they fund a 90s island, inviting thousands of other 90s buffs to live with them. When one brother becomes a power-hungry egomaniac, things take a turn for the worse in this nostalgic paradise. It was interesting seeing people regress and live all-90s. The humor here isn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but the story is still quite enjoyable.

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24. HOPE'S WATCH Book Blitz

Today I have Donna Weaver, author of A CHANGE OF PLANS, for her book blitz. She has a new short story entitled HOPE'S WATCH available. Isn't the cover gorgeous? Today you're going to see her on many blogs, and by visiting each one you'll learn a little something about her. I asked her a "this and that" question.

Text or Talk?  

We text a lot in our family. I got to be a big fan when we went to Disneyland with three teenaged boys. We have parkhopper passes, and there’s no way you could hear for a phone call. Texting made it possible to communicate and meet when it was time.

Makes sense. I prefer texting.

About HOPE’S WATCH: Elle Reinhardt loves people and has a gift for turning groups of strangers into friends. When she talks her best friend Lyn into taking a month-long Pacific cruise, Elle is in her element, gathering fellow passengers to her. But things go horribly wrong when a ship excursion ends in death and disaster at the hands of modern-day pirates.

Filled with her own emotional wounds from the experience, Elle tries desperately to buoy up the grieving loved ones as they wait for news on those lost at sea. Malcolm Armstrong, friend of one of the missing men, arrives to act as family spokesman. Elle knows it’s unreasonable, but she resents his presence. When Mal offers the strength she so desperately needs, will she be able to let go of her animosity and accept his support?

This ebook-exclusive short story includes special excerpts from both A Change of Plans and Torn Canvas.

HOPE'S WATCH Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads: 

A CHANGE OF PLANS Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About Donna: Donna is a Navy brat who joined the Army and has lived in Asia and Europe. Because she sailed the Pacific three times as a child, she loves cruising and wishes she could accrue enough vacation time to do more of it with her husband. At age fifty, she decided to study karate and earned her black belt in Shorei Kempo.

After doing city council minutes for twenty years, she decided to write something a little longer and with a lot more emotion--and kissing. She is the author of A CHANGE OF PLANS and the forthcoming TORN CANVAS.

Social Media Links:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Goodreads | Pinterest

Enter the $50 giveaway: 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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25. Tell Me When Blog Hop


This blog hop was initiated by Stina Lindenblatt. In her novel released this month and that I’ll be reviewing next week, TELL ME WHEN, the main character is stalked throughout. She’s always being watched, someone is leaving messages for her, and this is absolutely terrifying.

While I read this, I wondered if the character could have done anything to prevent this horrific situation from happening to her. We know some stalker prevention techniques like not revealing too much online, not having our addresses out in the open (like envelopes laying around), and things like that. In this novel, when the past was revealed piecemeal, it was obvious the main character had done nothing out of the ordinary to capture this person’s attention. The stalker was truly a madman who, in his warped mind, believed she should be his.

I’ve encountered creepy people before, whether being out and about or at the workplace. Although I haven’t been stalked, I’ve had some odd people insinuate themselves into my personal space and into my life. I’ve had people call nonstop, several times a day, even several times an hour, because they made up some relationship with me in their minds. After knowing these deranged people for a mere few days, they pronounced that I was their friend. And at the time, when I was twenty-something, I felt the need to be nice and polite. Nice and polite gave these people the wrong message. Getting these people out of my existence wasn't always easy since they were clingy. The best thing to do was cut things off abruptly, stop accepting their calls, tell them in an email or in person that I wanted nothing to do with them...whatever I had to do to excise them from my life.

This no longer happens to me because I’ve established boundaries. When I’m rude or cold, oh well. I have to survive in this world without anyone making me feel uncomfortable. The energy and time stealers are going to back off. If these people are needy, helpless, insecure, lonely, what have you, and they think I’m going to save them, help them, and be their best friend and confidante, they can think again. No one is forcing any sort of relationship on me.

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