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Results 4,551 - 4,575 of 14,406
4551. Excerpt: Wyoming Bride by Joan Johnston

I am back from Disney World, trying to recover from a week long vacation from work and a cold.  Dean and I have dubbed WDW the germiest place on earth, because we always get sick there.  I even got a flu shot this year!  Please enjoy this Romance @ Random excerpt of Wyoming Bride by Joan Johnston while I recharge and attempt to get back on track with the blog posts.


WYOMING BRIDE by Joan Johnston, Excerpt

About the book:

The sensational second novel in Joan Johnston’s new Western historical romance series set in the world of Bitter Creek.


After three months in a mail-order marriage, Hannah Wentworth McMurtry is a widow—pregnant, alone, and near death in the Wyoming wilderness. Though she is saved by a man with a face cut from stone, she still grieves the husband who died on their journey west. Hannah needs a husband, but does she dare marry another stranger?

Flint Creed has also lost someone he loved—when the woman he hoped to marry chose his younger brother instead. Now he must find a ranch wife of his own. But every female in the remote Wyoming Territory is too old, too young, or already married . . . until he discovers Hannah on the prairie. Flint doesn’t pretend to love her, but he doesn’t tell her he loves another woman, either. Hannah doesn’t pretend to love him, but she doesn’t tell him about the child she carries. Though danger surrounds them on the Wyoming frontier, the greatest threats of all are the secrets within—revelations that could destroy the new life Hannah and Flint have begun to cherish.

If you enjoyed this excerpt, follow the links below to purchase a copy.

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4552. Review and Giveaway of SANCTUM

I have been excited to review for you SANCTUM by Sarah Fine. Honestly, I wasn't sure how Fine would deal with the issue of suicide, which is ultimately what this book was about. But she creates characters and a world that are both intriguing and so real that I was sucked in from the get-go.

The Blurb from Amazon:

"My plan: Get into the city. Get Nadia. Find a way out. Simple."  A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos’s best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance – hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures.

But Lela isn’t just anyone – she’s determined to save her best friend’s soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife.

What I love about this book: There really is so much to love about Fine's writing. She brings a unique twist on Heaven and Hell, which allows readers to look at the tough issue of suicide and rape in a different light. Her characters are real people. Nadia ,who is bogged down in the pressures of our society to be perfect. Lela, the "bad girl" who struggles to get her life on track despite no support from home. And yet despite these girls differences, how much they need each other to survive.

What makes this book unique: The concept of this book blew me away. Fine created a whole new world to set her story in, including characters such as Mazikins (demons). This allowed her to deal with issues teens face today by taking readers away from their own world and reliving those same conflicts in a fantasy setting.

Why you should read it: The romance, oh the romance. Malachi is hot, hot, hot. Do I need to say more?

My favorite line: "Either you're a Mazikin, and I will destroy you, or you are ready to go before the Judge and get out of this city."

Stalk Sarah Fine on her website or Twitter.

I'm also giving away my ARC to one person who comments below. Giveaway open to North American residents. Ends Dec. 9th.

12 Comments on Review and Giveaway of SANCTUM, last added: 12/6/2012
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4553. Feeding My Reader #2

I've recently shifted from reading mainly print books to having about half of what I read be in ebook format.  My semi regular My Mailbox posts have only featured print books.  I'm going to start featuring a few of the great ebooks I receive in Feeding My Reader Posts.

I recognize I have an Ebook addiction.  There is no way I will ever be able to read all the great ebooks I have but I love having my Kindle full of wonderful books that I can choose from.  I will never be able to keep up and share all the great ebooks I receive but I'm going to attempt to share some of them.

Here are a few of the books that have been added to my Kindle recently.

Life on the Edge by Jennifer Comeaux

Nineteen-year-old Emily is new to pairs skating, but she and her partner Chris have a big dream–to be the first American team to win Olympic gold. Their young coach Sergei, who left Russia after a mysterious end to his skating career, believes they can break through and make history.

Emily and Chris are on track to be top contenders at the 2002 Winter Games. But when forbidden feelings spark between Emily and Sergei, broken trust and an unexpected enemy threaten to derail Emily’s dreams of gold.

Red Madrassa by Terah Edun


A magical accident threw them together. But when Fate holds all the cards, it can be impossible to tell the difference between pure chance and Destiny...

Allorna thought being a hereditary guardian meant an automatic posting with the royal family. Instead, she's assigned to Petty Larceny--which has its moments, especially when she engineers a jailbreak and finds herself on the run from her colleagues.

With healer trainee Sidimo in tow, she sets out to save Maride, a young mage unjustly accused of murder. But now she has to clear her name as well. Easier said than done, especially when they accidentally enroll at the Red Madrassa, a legendary school of magic.

Alongside Vedaris, a sarcastic dragon-boy, and Sitara, a storm-caller, they soon find themselves hooked on their studies. The road they've stumbled upon is a challenging one, and now each must decide whether the Madrassa is where they truly belong...

Red Madrassa is a epic, adventurous coming of age story that will enchant those who enjoyed the fantasy worlds of Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic, Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar, or the wonderfully crafted landscape of Cinda William Chima's Seven Realms series.

Fire Prophet by Jeral Law

What if you could actually see angels and fallen angels engaging in battle—and you were expected to join the fight?

It’s been one year since Jonah Stone and his sister, Eliza, discovered that their mother is a nephilim, the product of a union between a human and a fallen angel, which makes them and their little brother, Jeremiah, quarterlings, or one-quarter angel. After embarking on an epic journey to rescue their mother and the other nephilim, who were kidnapped by fallen angels, the Stone kids have enjoyed a little peace and quiet.

But when Jonah and Eliza are attacked by fallen angels at school, they learn that quarterlings all over the world are being targeted, and separating them from their parents is the only way to keep them safe. The kids undergo special training to help them discover their own unique angelic gifts, which come in handy when they embark on a mission to find a mysterious prophet who they believe holds the key to Abaddon's defeat in a massive battle between good and evil.

Parents today are looking for fiction that makes Christianity and the Bible exciting for their kids. This series is the first Christian answer to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the Kane Chronicles, the Secret Series, and other middle grade series packed with adventure, action, and supernatural fights. But the message is solidly scriptural in that God alone is always in control.

Splintered by A.G. Howard

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now. When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Evie's Knight by Kimberly Krey

Clean Romance Novel. When Evie falls in love with Calvin Knight, their young, virtuous romance conjures a truly wicked spell. Evie always thought her eighteenth year would be magical, but so far it's not what she hoped for. Her best friend has gone wild, her love life is void, and she misses her mom more than ever. But life for Evie is about to change. Calvin Knight, the object of her fascination, is about to fall madly in love with her. Just one problem: Their love conjures a murderous woman from beyond the grave who wants Evie dead. The same demon who has haunted the Knight men for over four generations. Soon Calvin is forced to make a choice: Set Evie free and hope to evade the wrath of The Raven- haired Ghost, or use his newly gifted strengths to fight against her. If he chooses to fight and wins, Calvin will free the Knight men of this demonic witch. If he loses, Evie will become her next victim.

Slated by Teri Terry

Kyla has been Slated—her memory and personality erased as punishment for committing a crime she can’t remember. The government has taught her how to walk and talk again, given her a new identity and a new family, and told her to be grateful for this second chance that she doesn’t deserve. It’s also her last chance—because they’ll be watching to make sure she plays by their rules.

As Kyla adjusts to her new life, she’s plagued by fear. Who is she, really? And if only criminals are slated, why are so many innocent people disappearing? Kyla is torn between the need to know more and her instinct for self-preservation. She knows a dangerous game is being played with her life, and she can’t let anyone see her make the wrong move . . . but who can she trust when everyone is a stranger?

Debut author Teri Terry has written a brilliantly compelling, original and thought-provoking novel about an uncomfortably plausible future.

A Shimmer of Angels by Lisa M. Basso

In this compelling and spirited debut novel, 16-year-old Rayna Evans has spent the last three years in a mental institution for seeing angels—intent on remaining free, she ignores signs that she may be slipping into a world she has tried to climb out of. When her hallucinations begin showing up at school, can she keep her sanity and prevent students from dying at the hands of angels she cannot admit to seeing? Psychiatry, fantasy, and realism come together here in a story of a young girl struggling with identity, secrets, and confronting her greatest fears.

HEADACHE: The Hair-Raising Sequel to BELLYACHE by Crystal Marcos

The magical adventure continues in the spine-tingling fantasy-adventure, HEADACHE: The Hair-Raising Sequel to BELLYACHE! Crystal Marcos delivers another whimsically entertaining escapade for ages seven and up. Readers will delight in more sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat, non-stop action adventures of Peter and his best friend, Lina.

When Peter Fisher sets out for school one morning, he has no idea that trouble is stirring in his hometown. With the unexpected arrival of his new Candonite friends from Maple Town, Peter and Lina have extra help saving their beloved town and loved ones from the clutches of the one villain they had hoped they would never see again. Humorous and thought provoking, this unforgettably entertaining story teaches a valuable lesson about standing up and facing one's fears.

3 Comments on Feeding My Reader #2, last added: 12/12/2012
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4554. My Mailbox

Here are the great books I received in the mail recently.

I won $50 in Books from Rachel @ Fiktshun

The Christmas Train by Thomas S. Monson
In this children's picture book, President Thomas S. Monson recounts a Christmas memory from his childhood. As a boy, he yearned for an electric train. To his delight, on Christmas morning he got exactly that a train that operated through the miracle of electricity. Then he noticed a second train that his mother had purchased for the boy down the street whose family was struggling. Although it was only a wind-up train, it had an beautiful oil tanker car, which little Tommy wanted for his own. Soon after, Tommy s mother invited him to accompany her to the neighbor s home to deliver the gift. Young Mark was thrilled with his new train and, of course, didn t notice the missing train car. However, a remorseful Tommy did. What happened next will bring the spirit of Christmas into every heart and home. Illustrated by renowned artist Dan Burr, The Christmas Train is sure to be a classic Christmas story and a beautiful addition to every Christmas library.

The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher by Robert Kraus
(One of my favorite Christmas books from when I was young)
In a snow covered village, while children all sleep,
the Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher, lands with a leap!
All the sprinkles he snitches, it's his Christmas fun,
but without sprinkles the baking cannot be done!
The villagers panic, but says Little Nat,
"I'll track down the Snitcher wherever he's at!"
Will Nat find the Snitcher? Will the Snitcher relent?
Will the cookies be baked? Will the Snitcher repent?
Will Nat lose the trail? Will he fall through the ice?
If Nat finds the Snitcher, will the Snitcher be nice?
These questions are answered for all to enjoy!

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson
Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she'll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry. From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will Marianne be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke.

The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Renee Anderson
Unknowingly cast as the bachelorette for her town’s charity event, Taycee Emerson wants out. Especially when she discovers her old teenage crush, Luke Carney, is one of the bachelors and it's up to the viewers--not her--to decide which bachelors stay or go. Coerced into participating, Taycee does what any self-preserving girl would do. She launches a subtle attack on Luke’s good name with the hope of getting him voted off the show. Unfortunately, Luke's an eye-for-an-eye kind of guy, and when he discovers what she's up to, it means revenge. But when their pranks go south, will they screw up any chance they have at a future together, or will they be able to forgive and forget and prove that love really does conquer all?

For Review

Island of Tory by Regina M. Geither
When sixteen year old Arella Cline's summer vacation begins with the tragic death of her parents, she is sent to live with her aunt to begin a new life on a remote island off the western coast of Ireland. But there are strange things happening on Tory Island— shadow figures, mysterious auras, and the haunting sound of her deceased parents’ voices. The only thing Arella finds appealing about Tory is the handsome, dark-haired Declan McQuillan. But Cannon Fidelous, a mysterious outcast, warns her that the island and its inhabitants are hiding a dark secret. And when Arella finds an ancient book of prophecies, she discovers the island's curse—a curse that only she can undo.

The Legend of Captain McFinn and Friends by Phyliss Cafaro
Captain McFinn was once one of the biggest bullies on Sand Dusty Reef, but when he meets the Undersea Friends, he learns that being a friend is always better than being a bully. Come along with Captain McFinn and Friends and see how McFinn, the bully, became Captain McFinn the leader and protector of Sand Dusty Reef.

Captain McFinn and Friends Meet Coral Rose by Phyllis Cafaro
Captain McFinn and Friends go on an adventure of discovery when they stumble upon a new ocean paradise where they meet their newest friend, Princess Coral Rose--The Princess Between the Tides.

Captain McFinn and Friends Rock by Phyllis Cafaro
The day Captain McFinn and his Undersea Friends start a band, they learn about more than just making great music. When Bella feels left out, it takes some extra Finn Power to get everybody ready for the big contest. Will hard work and friendship win the prize, or will Tox and the Barracuda Brothers ruin the fun?

2 Comments on My Mailbox, last added: 12/1/2012
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4555. App of the Week: Manga Camera

Title: MangaCamera
Platform: iOS
Cost: Free

Purists may scoff at a point-and-click way to ape the Japanese art form, but this free app makes rendering black-and-white scenes with drama and romance nearly foolproof. The app includes thirty-two backgrounds, most of them with manga-style captions or actions suggested, taking your photo to entirely new places.

You can choose (or change) the background after capturing the image from within the app, but unfortunately you can’t access your camera roll or the front-facing camera. There are options for darker, normal and brighter image processing, and the finished product can be saved via integrated output to twitter and facebook as well as saving on the device itself. It’s a bit of easy artistry for your nipponophiles.

Manga Camera runs only on the later versions of iOS devices and only on the most recent generation of iPod touches. For Android users, there are a number of comparable free apps in the Play Store.

For more great apps to use with young people, check out the archive.

bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark

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4556. WOW Wednesday: Lydia Sharp on Writing the Book You Want to Read

Today's WOW guest, Lydia Sharp, is a novelist and short fiction author who grew up on the shores of Lake Erie. Then she got tired of finding sand in her clothes so she moved further inland, but she'll always call Ohio home. Laughing is her favorite pastime. Kissing is a close second.

For Lydia's published and upcoming fiction, click HERE.

She is also a regular contributor of wonderful articles for the Write It Sideways blog and the award-winning Writer Unboxed blog. Of course, you can also catch her on her blog or on Twitter as @Lydia_Sharp.
Write the Book You Want to Read and Maybe Someday It Will Be Published

by Lydia Sharp

During a writers' chat a few years ago, someone said, “In the end it's just you and your manuscript. You have to be okay with whatever has your name on it.” I can't remember who said it, but ever since I read that advice, thought about it, and agreed with it, my writing has become much more selfish. And at the same time, less selfish.

I started focusing more on writing stories that I want to read, rather than focusing on trying to please a market that is continually in a state of flux. For a while this gave me no career benefit, other than feeling satisfied with my own work. But then things changed, as they do. Things that were completely out of my control.

In late 2010 the “It Gets Better” videos went viral, and suddenly it was vogue to be outwardly LGBTQ-friendly. To be fair, I truly believe the majority of people who showed public support of this campaign, especially those in the publishing arena, were not doing so to jump on a trend.

Earlier that same year I had made a personal decision to start focusing on LGBTQ fiction, and usually, specifically, the B (although I do write the others, too). I made this choice knowing that it would possibly hinder my chances of getting any such stories published. But in the end it was just me and my manuscripts, and I had to be okay with whatever had my name on it.

I started looking for YA fiction with bisexual characters. Main characters, not side characters. And kept looking… and kept looking… and kept not finding much of it. Lesbian and gay characters were more prevalent, but still rare. There was (and I think, still is) a big hole that needed to be filled.

Why shouldn't I try to fill it?

Especially since LGBTQ-friendliness was gradually becoming more acceptable (although we still have a long, long way to go). I had a better chance of sharing these stories with the world through publication, which would hopefully get them to the people who needed them most--bisexual teenagers who wanted to read about characters similar to themselves.

This is the type of story I would have liked to read when I was teenager, but couldn't find them. This is also the type of story I like to read now.

When I wrote Twin Sense it was kind of my way of saying, “You all can take your common misconceptions about bisexuality and shove it.” The notion that a bisexual teenager is "just confused" isn't always true. It also affects the way people treat you, for instance, thinking they have to set you straight (or set you gay, as the case may be).

So what did I do?

I wrote a bi teen character who is… confused. heh. But it isn't her bisexuality that she is confused about. She is more indecisive, I would say, than confused. She is unsure of who she should be with, because both people vying for her affection seem wonderful. In fiction it's called a love triangle. In real life it's called a hot mess.

For this character, the love triangle just happens to be between a boy and a girl, but for the bisexual this can realistically happen between a boy and another boy, or a girl and another girl. And it's the same conflict. People just tend to view it differently when one of the options the character can choose is a same-sex romance.

Not all of my bi characters are indecisive like Layna in Twin Sense. But for this story I liked the idea of using a romantic comedy to show readers that it's okay to laugh at their own problems from time to time. This is the kind of story I want to read.

But was it publishable? That's something else entirely.

As I mentioned above, things in publishing were trending, and continue to trend, more towards LGBTQ acceptance. More recently, contemporary YA is also on the upswing. I actually had two e-publishers show great interest in Twin Sense, and soon realized that it wasn’t a question of “Is this going to be published?” It was more a question of “Where is this going to be published?”

A few years ago this would have played out much differently, both because of story content and because e-publishers were not as big then as they are now. So the point of all my ramblings is this:

Publishing trends mean nothing to the career writer. Write the story you want to read now. And believe that someone, someday, will want to read it as much as you do. They might even pay you for it.

Happy writing,


* * *


by Lydia Sharp

two boys + two girls = one big mess 

As girlfriends of the Taylor twins, Layna and Sherri have only been friends by association. But when Sherri breaks up with Keith (for real this time), and Kevin gives Layna a promise ring (whoa, what?), Layna's whole world spins off balance. She avoids Kevin's unwelcome pressure to commit by spending more time with Sherri.

Without the twins around, Layna and Sherri are tempted to go beyond friendship status. Then Keith tries to win Sherri back, and Kevin apologizes for rushing Layna. Now she's stuck inside a double-trouble love quadrangle that has her reaching for the consolation cheesecake. The only way to sort out this mess is to make an impossible choice—between the one she wants and the other one she wants—or she might end up with no one.

Buy Twin Sense


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4557. Review: Construction Beauty Queen by Sara Daniel



Title: Construction Beauty Queen

Author: Sara Daniel

Publisher: Entangled

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Chicago socialite Veronica Jamison is determined to shake off her sheltered lifestyle and overbearing parents. She heads to her grandfather’s small town of Kortville, ready to roll up her sleeves and work for the family construction business. She’ll prove her worth, even if it means answering to the company’s ruggedly handsome co-owner, Matt.

Matt Shaw just wants to run his business, spend time with the niece he’s raising on his own, and give back to the townspeople who have stood by him. Managing a spoiled-rotten princess he knows he’ll never be good enough for? Not part of his plan. But as he gets to know Veronica, he learns there’s more to her than her beautiful looks and designer clothes. She’s got a heart as rich as her background.
With the quirky townspeople rallying against Veronica inheriting her grandfather’s business, it’s up to Matt to try to drive her out of town. But how can he, when instead she’s driving her way into his heart?


I really wanted to like this book, but I never connected with the secondary characters.  In fact, I thought most of them were just plain mean, especially at the beginning.  Veronica has just arrived in the tiny town of Kortville with a basketful of dreams.  She wants to escape the meaningless life her parents have planned for her, and stand on her own two feet.  She wants to make a difference with her life.  She wants a real job, and she has worked her tail off for years, first by graduating from college, and then earning an MBA which she paid for all by herself, thank you very much.  Her parents can’t see the sense of her having an education, since she’s just going to marry the man of their choosing anyway.  Uh, no thanks, Mom and Dad!

After emailing her grandfather, Veronica has been given a challenge.  If she can stick it out for 30 days working at the construction firm her grandfather has a stake in, he will let her take over operations at his successful distribution firm.  Putting every bit of faith in this man she has never met, Veronica sells everything she owns to pay off her college loans, purchases a clunker of a car, and makes the journey from Chicago to Kortville.  Once there, she is met with nothing but contempt.  The residents resent her because her grandfather was going to sell his company and invest the profits in the town.  Matt, the guy who owns the other half of the construction company, makes her feel as welcome as an army of fire ants at a picnic.  It is all of these awful people and their determined efforts to derail Veronica’s plans that kept me from engaging in the plot.  I couldn’t stand these people.  Matt and her grandfather even put her in harm’s way, instructing her to undertake tasks that she was clearly not ready for.  I had to hand it to her, though.  She didn’t know how to accept defeat, and she never gave up.  Besides Matt’s young niece, Veronica is the only character in this entire book that I had any bit of respect for.  Even Matt, super studly construction dude, was a turd, constantly putting her in situations where she could have been seriously hurt.

I had a hard time getting behind the romance because I didn’t like Matt.  He was dumped by his big city girlfriend after he moved to tiny Kortville, and as a result, he couldn’t give Veronica any slack at all.  He made an effort to keep his niece firmly isolated from “girly” things, too, lest she turn into a fashion snob and want to leave town, too.  This did not earn any brownie points for Matt.  Neither did his constant projection of his ex’s faults onto Veronica.  He gave her nothing but grief for the first half of the book because she was from the big city and had a wealthy upbringing.  Then, after proving herself time and time again, he gave her grief because she had ideas how he could expand his business and make it more profitable.  I didn’t get this, and it made Matt look like a hick.  He didn’t want the ability to provide a better life for his niece?  At this point, I just wished that Veronica would walk away from him and the rest of the narrow-minded town.

Overall, the behavior of the secondary characters diminished my enjoyment of Construction Beauty Queen.  I did not enjoy how they trivialized Veronica at every opportunity.  It made me angry because she never treated them with anything other than warmth and openness.  The residents of Kortville did eventually make a turn around, but I was so irritated with them by then that it didn’t make a difference to me.

Grade:  C-

Review copy provided by publisher

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4558. CYBILS F/SF: SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo

I love Mysterious Orphan stories; they've been some of the most successful in modeling the Hero/ine's Quest. Like Superman, Lyra, Harry Potter, and all the rest, Mysterious Orphan tales start with a kid who isn't sure of their place in the world, or... Read the rest of this post

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4559. What I'm Reading: SHADES OF EARTH by Beth Revis

It's been a long time coming, but the final book in the ACROSS THE UNIVERSE trilogy is almost here! And because life is good, I've had an early look at the book!

SHADES OF EARTH by Beth Revis (Razorbill, January 15, 2013)

Here are Five Things I Have to Say About SHADES OF EARTH:

1) It's rare that I actually read the third book in a series these days. With so many new books being published all the time, for a series to draw me back again and then again definitely makes a statement.

2) Of the three books in the trilogy, SHADES OF EARTH is by far the best as far as the science and the story go. They are on the planet. Lots of things happen. And...

3) ...there is some cool science fiction going on in this story. Whereas the first two books in the series could be generalized under teen romance, SHADES OF EARTH definitely delves more deeply into the science of things. It gives us the answers to questions we've had since we picked up ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.

4) Does everything end happy? Well, technically if I gave you the answer to that question, it would be considered a huge spoiler. So suffice it to say that if you've read books 1 and 2, you should definitely not stop there. Pick up SHADES OF EARTH and see how everything comes out.

5) Highly recommended for boys and girls, fans of romance and science-fiction, seventh grade and up.


Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.


Source of book: From publisher by request

4 Comments on What I'm Reading: SHADES OF EARTH by Beth Revis, last added: 12/2/2012
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4560. Monday Review: THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson

Hardback coverReader Gut Reaction: As I often am with Maureen Johnson's work, I was immediately drawn in by the premise of this book—a teenager from the U.S. whose family leaves for England, so she decides to live and go to school in... Read the rest of this post

3 Comments on Monday Review: THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson, last added: 12/2/2012
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4561. My Thoughts: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

4 sweet frosted sugar cookies.

Cover Love:  Yes.  I love that you get the impression of a busy airport with time stopping for two people.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I love contemporary teen romances and had seen some good reviews for this one.  Here's the synopsis from Good Reads:

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. Having missed her flight, she's stuck at JFK airport and late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.
Romance?: Of course!

My Thoughts: 
This was just a good, fun, sweet read.  So much growth between both characters.  It was definitely destined that they meet on what was to be very hard days for both of them.  Oliver and Hadley were able to help each other get through everything.

They were so easy with each other.  Their friendship and conversation came so easily.  I liked both of them so well.  And while I was thinking Hadley needed to give her dad a break you just know Oliver was thinking the same thing.  And once she got to the wedding it wasn't nearly as bad as she expected it to be.  The funny thing is that they both ended up having hard days and being there for each other but Oliver's day was actually much worse than Hadley.

Hadley's viewpoint of her parent's divorce was very intense.  She was very, very hurt and not at all ready to move past it.  I think the way the author wrote this was very true to life.  I am sure it is very hard to move beyond the betrayal and feelings of abandonment!

I do think that what developed between them on the course of the airplane was more of a good friendship that could become a romance, rather than love at first sight.  But you also got the feeling that they will be a part of each others lives for quite awhile after this.

To Sum Up:  A good, sweet romance that I am adding to my library collection.   This is a romance that many female readers will enjoy!

Book bought for my library collection.

1 Comments on My Thoughts: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith, last added: 11/30/2012
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4562. Adapting Story Structure for Any Project

Well, November is quickly wrapping up and we appear to be careening headlong toward Christmas. But slow it down, people! Because today we're Stop #3 on Lydia Sharp's blog tour for her recent release of Twin Sense. Ange and I are both HUGE Save the Cat! fans, and we're super excited that Lydia's going to share some tips on how to use Blake Snyder's Beat Sheet to help with story structure.


Ever since I discovered Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder back in 2009 (which was actually less of a discovery and more of a recommendation by the fabulous Therese Walsh), I’ve never approached my first drafts in the same way again. I used to be an all-out pantser, with only a vague idea of where to begin and where the story would end up on the final page, but no idea whatsoever of how to get there or what needed to happen through the middle.

Then Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet came into my life and everything made sense. Writing up a Beat Sheet is not the very first step of my story development process, but it does happen early on.

First, I get an idea for a concept and a specific main character to navigate the plot--this is where I hone my logline and 2-3 paragraph pitch. Then I write a possible opening scene, to get a feel for the main character’s voice. Then I create the Beat Sheet.

A Beat Sheet is not meant to be a strict outline. It’s more like a frame of guideposts that light your way from draft to draft. Here is my Beat Sheet for Twin Sense:

GENRE: contemp YA; sub-genre: romantic comedy
LOGLINE: Twin Sense is about a girl who must untangle herself from the love quadrangle she created with her boyfriend, her boyfriend’s twin brother, and her boyfriend’s twin brother’s ex-girlfriend.
START DATE: December 2011
FINISH BY: February 2012

Before I go any further I’d like to emphasize how important it is to have a word count goal before you start. This affects how you break down your Beat Sheet, which will in turn help you write a more focused first draft. Twin Sense is short, so I had very little room to develop one section before it was time to move on to the next. If not for the Beat Sheet I could have very easily gone astray between turning points, resulting in major revision woes on the second draft.

And since the Beat Sheet was meant for screenwriters, not fiction writers, you must calculate the word count milestone for every beat. This is how many words you should have written when you reach each major turning point. But remember this is just a guideline. There is plenty of room for flexibility, especially in a first draft. I also suggest giving yourself a deadline if this is a story not under contract with an editor-issued time frame. Deadlines have a way of motivating you.

Twin Sense has a total of 12,000 words, and there are 110 minutes in a Beat Sheet. Here is how that (roughly) translates:

Opening and Setup: 0 - 1300 words - inciting incident; set the tone - contemporary, teen romance, humor

Theme stated; all major players introduced

Catalyst: 1300 words - new element introduced that forces MC to make a choice

Debate: 1300 - 2700 words - MC unsure of which path to take; unsure of new relationship

Break Into Two: 2700 - 3300 words - MC makes the decision to avoid making a decision (haha)

B Story transition; running gag introduced

Promise of the Premise: 3300 - 6000 words - MC waffles between two love interests, not realizing the mess she’s creating until it’s too late All minor players are introduced or referenced by now

Midpoint: 6000 words - MC realizes the mess she created; now the decision she was avoiding is even more difficult to make

The Big Squeeze: 6000 - 8000 words - stakes raised by outside forces; things the MC thought she knew for certain are now questioned

All Is Lost: 8000 words - an easy solution is clearly impossible; any solution seems impossible

Dark Night of the Soul: 8000 - 9300 words - MC reflects on her situation; seeks solution even if it means personal sacrifice

Break Into Three: 9300 words - MC decides to move forward despite any consequences.  Everything the MC needs to reach the resolution at the climax has been introduced by now, even if she doesn’t realize this until the moment she needs it during the finale

Finale: 9300 - 12000 words - MC fights for what she wants; chaos ensues; story resolution

Closing Image: 12000 words - wrap-up; circle back to the beginning/emphasize theme

(Sorry I had to get really general in the second half to avoid giving away spoilers!)

Notice that each beat only requires a single sentence about what I planned to happen there. This is what gives my creative juices room to flow as I move through the first draft. If you get too detailed in this planning stage it doesn’t usually help much because you end up changing most of those details as you write in “story mode” rather than “brainstorming mode.”

For those of you who are novelists and tend to have trouble writing short fiction, you’re probably making cross-eyes at those numbers, I’m sure. In the average novel, the catalyst occurs right around the 10,000 word mark. In Twin Sense, 10,000 words is almost the entire story--the catalyst occurs less than 1500 words into it. This is why I believe writing short fiction is an excellent way to practice your brisk pacing skills.

Once I have this rough outline written, I reference it throughout the process of writing my first draft. I’m an obsessive word count checker, which may seem counter-productive, but it actually helps me finish my drafts more quickly because I don’t allow myself to run astray. That isn’t to say that I don’t write extra scenes or notes. I do all of that, and it helps tremendously with plot development, character development, and for brainstorming unique twists and turns. But all of that stays outside of the story document until I figure out how to use it.

After the first draft is complete and then major revisions are done, I tighten everything up to make sure it adheres to the story structure as closely as possible without feeling formulaic. If the average reader (not someone who studies the craft of writing) is able to “see” your structure, then your story isn’t ready yet. Blend and weave all the story elements in such a way that it feels like one, solid piece, instead of a bunch of little pieces all tossed together into a box labeled “story.”

It should flow naturally from point to point, never feel forced. Work as many drafts as necessary to make this happen. Beta readers are priceless at this stage.

After Twin Sense was accepted for publication, my editor suggested a lot of cuts (to help with pacing) and a few scenes were completely revised. This, of course, affected the overall structure, so the adjustments continued. I had to make sure my new changes didn’t mess up the flow or inadvertently shift a turning point to the wrong place.

In other words, revisions can create an imbalanced structure if you don’t go back and readjust. That is why you need to think about structure from the time you first think up a story idea all the way to your final edits before publication. It stays with you every step of the way, no matter what your story’s genre, type, or length.

So that’s my story structure process, but every writer has their own. Do you use a Beat Sheet? If so, how? If not, what do you use (if anything)?

Lydia Sharp is a novelist and short fiction author who grew up on the shores of Lake Erie. Then she got tired of finding sand in her clothes so she moved further inland, but she'll always call Ohio home. Laughing is her favorite pastime. Kissing is a close second. Lydia is also a regular contributor to the Write It Sideways blog and the award-winning Writer Unboxed blog. Her recent release, Twin Sense, is now available for purchase.

As girlfriends of the Taylor twins, Layna and Sherri have only been friends by association. But when Sherri breaks up with Keith (for real this time), and Kevin gives Layna a promise ring (whoa, what?), Layna's whole world spins off balance. She avoids Kevin's unwelcome pressure to commit by spending more time with Sherri. 

Without the twins around, Layna and Sherri are tempted to go beyond friendship status. Then Keith tries to win Sherri back, and Kevin apologizes for rushing Layna. Now she's stuck inside a double-trouble love quadrangle that has her reaching for the consolation cheesecake. The only way to sort out this mess is to make an impossible choice—between the one she wants and the other one she wants—or she might end up with no one

24 Comments on Adapting Story Structure for Any Project, last added: 12/2/2012
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4563. Dancing at the Shame Prom blog tour and giveaway!

We all have shameful secrets we’ve guarded—whether they be big secrets like crimes or smaller secrets like “stealing” a teenage friend’s boyfriend—that are important only to us. No matter how the world would view them . . . to us they are important, so shameful that we keep them hidden for a lifetime. As long as we keep the secret no one gets, right? Except the secret keeper. Shame can hold you back from what you love, diminish your sense of self-worth, and prevent you from fully being who you are.

So what happens when you share the shameful secrets you’ve hidden for so long? In Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories That Kept Us Small (September 18, 2012, Seal Press), editors Amy Ferris and Hollye Dexter encourage readers to confront the powerful emotion of shame head-on. They gather together 27 gifted and talented writers who reveal, explore, and embrace the root of their shame, in the process demonstrating the strength that comes from defeating their demons.

In a brilliant display of bravery, these writers share their darkest fears, offer up their most vulnerable moments, and reveal jaw-dropping secrets. From spilling long forbidden secrets to revealing their innermost faults, these authors openly share poignant and life-changing moments of humiliation, embarrassment, and despair, along with the wisdom they learned from letting go of the shame that’s been weighing them down. Freeing, provocative, and audacious, Dancing at the Shame Prom is about divulging the secrets that have made you feel small so that you can stand up straight, let the shame go, and finally—decisively—move on with your life.

Are you ready to release your secret and change your life—for the better?

Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Seal Press (September 11, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1580054161
ISBN-13: 978-1580054164
Twitter hastag: #TheShameProm

Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories That Kept Us Small is available in print and e-format at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and your local bookstore.

Book Giveaway Contest: To win a copy of Dancing at the Shame Prom please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes this Friday, November 30 at 12:01 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Contributors:

Learn more about the 27 contributors to Dancing at the Shame Prom from their interviews and guest posts during the Blog Tour! This is a fun tour that will introduce you, not to just one or two writers, but to at least EIGHT different writers.

About the Co-Editors:

Hollye Dexter:

Hollye Dexter recently completed a second memoir, What Doesn’t Kill You. Her essays have been published in anthologies (Chicken Soup For the Soul, Answered Prayers, and Character Consciousness) and in many online publications. She writes regularly for iPinion Syndicate and AOL Patch News. A singer/songwriter with four albums out, she also founded the award-winning nonprofit Art and Soul, running workshops for teenagers in the foster care system. In 2007 she received the Agape Spirit award from Dr. Michael Beckwith (from The Secret) for her work with at-risk youth. Together, with Amy Ferris she teaches writing workshops, helping others to find their authentic voices. She is on staff for the San Miguel Writer’s Conference and a visiting author at UCLA extension. She lives in Southern California with her husband and three children, where she hikes, plays music and blogs about living an authentic life at www.hollyedexter.blogspot.com

Amy Ferris:

Amy Ferris is an author, editor, screenwriter and playwright. Her memoir, Marrying George Clooney: Confessions From a Midlife Crisis (Seal Press) is off-broadway bound, CAP21 Theater Company, March 2012. She has contributed to numerous anthologies, and has written everything from Young Adult novels to movies and films. She co-wrote Funny Valentines (Julie Dash, Director), and Mr. Wonderful (Anthony Minghella, Director). Funny Valentines was nominated for a Best Screenplay award, and numerous BET awards. She co-created and co-edited the first ever "all women's issue" of Living Buddhism magazine. She serves on the Executive Board of Directors at The Pages & Places Literary Festival, Peters Valley Arts, Education and Craft Center, and is on the Advisory Board of The Women's Media Center. She is on faculty at The San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference. She is a visiting teacher at the UCLA Writers Workshop (extension). She contributes regularly to iPinion Syndicate. Her number one goal, desire, dream: Is that all women awaken to their greatness. You can find her blogging in the middle of the night at www.marryinggeorgeclooney.com. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Ken.

Find Dancing at the Shame Prom Online: http://www.theshameprom.com

------Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: Can you each tell us a bit about your writing careers, how you joined forces for Dancing at the Shame Prom and how you got it published?

Hollye: I began my writing career as a songwriter (twenty years) and had just finished writing my first memoir when I met Amy through SheWrites. We became great friends and began having long weekly phone chats about life, love, fear and other things—one of the recurring topics was how shame had kept each of us small in our lives. We began blogging about our own shame stories in order to free ourselves from shame's grip, which started an avalanche of responses from others wanting to share their own stories. We decided this needed to be a book.

Amy: I began writing years and years ago. I wrote a (very) short story which got the attention of Tom Fontana who was show running a TV series, Tattingers. He hired me on the spot to write an episode. From there I went on to write films (Mr. Wonderful, and Funny Valentines) and TV series (Tattingers, and Jack's Place), and then I wrote a young adult novel, A Greater Goode (Houghton Mifflin, 2001) and my memoir, Marrying George Clooney. Hollye and I met a few years back (THANK GOD!!!!!) and we just connected on every level. Our passion was in creating opportunities for women to speak their truth, stand up. Be heard. Voila, The Shame Prom came about. I had been working with Seal Press for the past few years and both Hollye and I felt it a natural fit for a book like this. We put together a stunning proposal and they swept it up instantly. We were lucky, and fortunate to have had that experience.

WOW: Many times we take a second glance at a book because the title "grabs" us. And the title of this anthology definitely does that! How did you come up with such a unique title?

Hollye: We knew that having a provocative title would encourage readers to pick it up out of curiosity. Amy came up with the funny term of "Shame Prom" and I added Dancing so it would sound celebratory—because this book is not sad—it celebrates the richness of our lives and overcoming adversity.

Amy: Oh, Hollye was (is) such a genius. I came up with The Shame Prom while sitting in a parking lot at Walmart, and after we had put together the proposal and collected some of the essays, it was Hollye who said the title sounded a bit too sad, and instantly, like right in the minute, said: "How about Dancing at The Shame Prom? Doesn't that sound celebratory?" I mean, really, how can you say no to that.

WOW: Most of our WOW readers are also writers. Any insider tips for us on how to can be part of great project like Dancing at the Shame Prom in the future?

Hollye: The most important thing I think you can do is to be part of a writing community. I participated in writing groups and workshops for years. I also joined online writing communities (SheWrites, BlogHer, Red Room, etc). Most of my opportunities have come through people I've met within my writing community. You can't just sit home in your pajamas. You have to go to literary events, sign up for workshops, get out there and be an active participant in your community and opportunities will come.

Amy: Write. Just keep writing. Submit. Keep submitting. Rejection is part of acceptance. It's as natural as having curly hair. What I would offer up: don't be hard on yourself. Be proud that you've put pen to paper (keyboard to computer). Be proud of your words, your truth, your story. Send out to everyone and anyone. While there seems to be rules (?) nothing is written in stone. Make-up new rules. Be bold. But mostly, mostly be yourself. It's no different then having a relationship—if you're yourself, you're bound to meet up with those who fall in love with you. Write/right your life. And NEVER, EVER GIVE UP.

WOW: And now the question we've all been asking since A Cup of Comfort anthology series closed up shop—is the anthology market disappearing? If not, what makes the anthology so appealing to readers?

Hollye: The Chicken Soup franchise is still alive and well! I've had two essays picked up by them in the past year, and in fact, I love writing for them. They are the nicest group of people, and they sell so many books, my writing gets out to many more people than I could reach on my own. Amy and I have a lot of friends who both edit and write for anthologies, so no, I don't think it's dead. I say if you don't find an anthology to write for, write your own!

Amy: Anthologies are like mini-series. I think folks love the opportunity to read slices of humanity, pieces of life. You get to read (what can feel like) a whole life story in 15 pages.

WOW: Did you learn anything while editing this anthology?

Hollye: I learned how to really collaborate, for one thing, and Amy and I do that really well. I learned that every single person has a story that would blow your mind, and that every shame story is universal on some level. I also think that in sharing our truth, exposing the ways we are cracked and flawed, we open ourselves to connecting with others in much deeper and truer ways.

Amy: What I realized while working on the anthology is how much I adore working with Hollye. Ours is a very fluid, give and take relationship. Hollye is brilliant at editing, I'm great at gathering the troops. Hollye is great at anything/everything organizational, I'm great at networking and bringing folks together.

On a personal level, re: Shame, I learned that shame isn't something particularly identifiable. It has layers and layers attached to it, with many cousins: guilt, fear, and sadness. You think you conquer one aspect and then poof, another layer manifests. I also was thrilled to realize that shame is powerless once you say it's name, call it out.

WOW: What's up next?

Hollye: Amy's play, Marrying George Clooney, is going into production, and I am shopping a second memoir, but aside from that, Amy and I have workshops booked through the end of 2013, including: "Women Write Their Lives" at the San Miguel Writer's Conference.

"Rediscover Your Creative Spirit" in Costa Rica: www.RanchoPacifico.com

For more info on upcoming workshops, see www.theshameprom.com

Amy: I'm velcro-ing myself to Hollye for the next decade or so, so whatever Hollye is doing, I'm gonna be right beside her.

(Hollye Dexter talks about shame)

---------Blog Tour Dates

Monday, November 26 (today!) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and book giveaway!

Wednesday, November 28 @ All Things Audry
Nina Burleigh, contributor to the anthology Dancing at the Shame Prom, is posting about being a woman in the Middle East. Don't miss it!

Wednesday, December 5 @ Kritter’s Ramblings
Check out a review of the anthology Dancing at the Shame Prom and a guest post by Marcia Yerman, a contributor to the anthology.

Thursday, December 6 @ Kritter’s Ramblings
Need to know more about Dancing at the Shame Prom? Check out today's review.

Friday, December 7 @ Eye on Books
Join us today for a conversation about shame, editing, anthologies and more with an audio interview of the editors of Dancing at the Shame Prom.

Tuesday, December 11 @ CMash Loves to Read
Learn more about Starting Life Over from Kate Van Raden, a contributor to Dancing at the Shame Prom. Don't forget to enter to win a copy of the anthology today.

Thursday, December 13 @ Thoughts in Progress
Learn how an anthology comes into being from Hollye Dexter and Amy Ferris, co-editors of the anthology Dancing at the Shame Prom.

Monday, December 17 @ Empty Nest
Stop by for a review of the thought provoking anthology Dancing at the Shame Prom.

Wednesday, December 19 @ Lisa Buske
Don't miss a guest post by Kristine Van Raden, contributor to the anthology Dancing at the Shame Prom.

Wednesday, January 2 @ Lisa Buske
Is your New Year’s Resolution to let go of the shame you’ve been lugging around? Read this review of Dancing at the Shame Prom.

Monday, January 7 @ Read It All Book Reviews
Meet Robyn Hatcher, a contributor to the anthology Dancing at the Shame Prom, and LAST CHANCE to enter and win a copy of this amazing book.

Tuesday, January 8 @ CMash Loves to Read
Need some inspiration for a great 2013? Read a review of Dancing at the Shame Prom, an anthology of inspirational stories of overcoming life's challenges.

Thursday, January 10 @ Read These Books and Use Them!
Today Samantha Dunn, a contributor to the anthology Dancing at the Shame Prom, is guest blogging at Read These Books and Use Them! Today's topic? Surviving Poverty.

We have more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE. Keep up with blog stops and giveaways in real time by following us on Twitter @WOWBlogTour

Get Involved!
If you have a website or blog and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email us at blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com. Some of our upcoming books include fantasy romance, children’s middle grade, memoir, cookbooks, and writer how-to.

Book Giveaway Contest
Contest open internationally: Enter to win a print copy of Dancing at the Shame Prom (US and Canada), and an e-copy (Internationally)! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget this Friday, November 30.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

8 Comments on Dancing at the Shame Prom blog tour and giveaway!, last added: 11/30/2012
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4564. Old School Sunday: Eleven Kids, One Summer by Ann M. Martin

Eleven Kids, One Summer. by Ann M. Martin. 1991. Scholastic. 160 pages. ISBN: 9780590459174

Eleven Kids, One Summer is the sequel to one of my favorite books from childhood, Ten Kids No Pets. Looking back, I remember the first book as the better of the two, but reading them both again as an adult, this sequel is the story that won me over. Keegan, the youngest in the Rosso family, is now six months old, and the family is taking a vacation to Fire Island, where they will stay in a beach house. As the summer passes, each of the kids has an adventure involving everything from fishermen and haunted houses to movie sets and romances.

Here’s what made me love this book:
  • While each of the kids has his or her own adventure, some of the adventures overlap. For example, Candy’s chapter early in the book introduces a haunted house plot that reappears in Hannah’s chapter and Hardy’s chapter in the middle and end of the book. Woody also becomes an entrepreneur in his chapter, which influences things that happen to Bainbridge later on. This interconnectedness made me feel like I was living amongst the Rossos during their vacation, and even when some of the kids were not heavily featured in a chapter, the ongoing plot threads gave me an idea of where they were and what they were doing.
  • Justin Hart, the romantic hero in Ann M. Martin’s romance novel, Just a Summer Romance, as well as the heroine from that story, Melanie, reappear in this book. I read Just a Summer Romance when I was in ninth or tenth grade, and by then I’d forgotten the details of Eleven Kids, One Summer, so I never made the connection until now. I remember really liking those characters, though, and it was nice to check in with them. 
  • Eleven Kids, One Summer has everything in it that I loved about the various plots of the Baby-sitters Club books- a big family, a ghost story, lots of kids of all different ages, movie stars, twins, a hospital visit and a summer vacation. The Publishers Weekly blurb on the back cover of the book says that Ann M. Martin “knows well what pleases young readers” and I would so agree with that statement. She knows how to keep the pages turning and how to create adventures out of seemingly everyday experiences.
  • This book reminds me of The Penderwicks series, and especially of The Penderwicks at Point Mouette. Abbie Rosso and Rosalind Penderwick are both wonderful big sisters, and the younger Rosso siblings all reminded me of Skye, Jane, and Batty at different points. Both books evoke a timeless sense of childhood innocence and the they celebrate the joys of imagination and independent play. Eleven Kids, One Summer was published 14 years ahead of the first Penderwicks book, but they both feel equally contemporary in style and content.
Eleven Kids, One Summer is a perfect example of Ann M. Martin’s talent for creating unique kids and making each different personality relatable for her readers. Reviews from when the book was published were not particularly kind - especially one from School Library Journal that said “signs of formulaic contemporary sit-com fiction are in abundance” in the book, and that “sometimes the pace and content strain credibility.” I think this book is actually heads above many of those poorly written sit-com books, and maybe not everything that happens is likely to happen in real life, but it worked well in the fiction.

Eleven Kids, One Summer is out of print, which makes me sad, but there is obviously still some love for the Rossos, since copies of their books are quite expensive (over 140 dollars!) on Amazon. I think this book brings about heavily nostalgic feelings for a lot of kids of the 90s. I know it does for me.

I borrowed Eleven Kids, One Summer from a friend. 

For more about this book, visit Goodreads and Worldcat.

0 Comments on Old School Sunday: Eleven Kids, One Summer by Ann M. Martin as of 1/1/1900
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4565. How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

In her book How to Be a Woman, British columnist Caitlin Moran shares her opinions on topics like music, social status, and feminism while sharing anecdotes from her life. Unabashed and funny, this non-fiction work is definitely not for children, but I know some of you who regularly read this blog will get a kick out of it, especially those who liked Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. Caitlin details both silly and serious events that happened to her or her family members without shame or judgment. Readers will quickly pick up on her wry sense of humor and her world outlook.

My favorite passages from How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran are a mix of the poignant and the fun:

The people around you are mirrors, I think. [...] You see yourself reflected in their eyes. If the mirror is true, and smooth, you see your true self. That's how you learn who you are. And you might be a different person to different people, but it's all feedback that you need, in order to know yourself. But if the mirror is broken, or cracked, or warped...the reflection is not true. - Page 150

If I'm going to [waste] £500 on a pair of designer shoes, it's going to be a pair that I can (a) dance to "Bad Romance" in and (b) will allow me to run away from a murderer, should one suddenly decide to give chance. That's the minimum I ask from my footwear. To be able to dance in it, and for it not to get me murdered. - Page 198

And if you're a nerdy girl, you've read enough books and seen enough films to know that being on a mission, saving the world, trying to get the band back together, or just putting on a play, right there, in a barn, really is a life well lived. Batman doesn't want a baby in order to feel he's "done everything." He's just saved Gotham again! If this means Batman must be a feminist role model above, say, Hillary Clinton, then so be it. - Pages 238-239

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4566. New YALit in Stores 11/24-11/30 Plus Giveaway of Christopher Paolini's INHERITANCE Deluxe Ed

Happy Black Friday! Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I am extremely thankful for all of you, and for all the readers and writers who make the world of young adult literature an amazing place.

Happy reading,




Inheritance (Deluxe Edition)
by Christopher Paolini

This deluxe edition of the spellbinding conclusion to the worldwide bestselling Inheritance cycle includes:

A glimpse at life in Alagaësia after the final scene of the series
Never-before-seen art by the author
A new scene within the story
A note to readers from the author
An exclusive full-color foldout poster by award-winning artist John Jude Palencar

Not so very long ago, Eragon—Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider—was nothing more than a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. Now the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders.
The Rider and his dragon have come farther than anyone dared to hope. But can they topple the evil king Galbatorix and restore justice to Alagaësia? And if so, at what cost?

Order Inheritance (Deluxe Edition) on Amazon

View Inheritance (Deluxe Edition) on Goodreads


by Antony John
Signed Hardcover


A mysterious and powerful fantasy adventure from a Schneider Award winner

In the near future, most of the population of the United States has been destroyed by the plague. The few remaining survivors live in colonies on the barrier islands off the East Coast. In one colony near Cape Hatteras, almost all the members have elemental powers and can control wind, water, earth, and fire. All but sixteen-year-old Thomas. When the Guardians, the powerful adult leaders, are kidnapped by pirates seeking to take over their colony, it is up to Thomas and a small group of teens to save them and preserve the mysteries of the island.

Fast action, strategy, and mystery churn together into a bold and fresh fantasy from an award-winning author.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Elemental?

More than any book I've written, ELEMENTAL is the novel I want to give to teen me. Until time travel happens, I guess that's not really feasible, which is a shame. Teen me had a short concentration span and was scared of long books. Teen me craved adventure and a healthy dose of suspense. Teen me wasn't terribly special in most of the ways that teen boys wish they were special. And it's exactly these ingredients that I threw into the mix of ELEMENTAL: a main character who is an outsider faces a dangerous situation and must work out what's going on, even though it seems he is the least suited to do so. And all of this is packaged in a book that is fast-moving and suspenseful. What I love about this is that even though I won't get to enjoy ELEMENTAL as a teen, I know plenty of teen boys who are the same as I used to be. This is my book for them.

Order Elemental on Amazon

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The Lucky Ones (Bright Young Things)
by Anna Godbersen

In 1929, the Bright Young Things escape Manhattan's heat for the lush lawns and sparkling bays of White Cove, looking for leisure, love, and luck.
New York City's latest It Girl, Cordelia Grey, is flying high with celebrity pilot Max Darby. But Max is a private person with a reputation to uphold—and a secret to hide. A public romance with a bootlegger's daughter could cost him more than just his good name. . . .
Aspiring triple threat Letty Larkspur has finally gotten her big break, but will her talent—and special bond with the married silver-screen star Valentine O'Dell—make her a target in the cutthroat world of Hollywood? Perhaps the ingenue knows how to play the leading lady after all.
Newly married to her longtime sweetheart, socialite Astrid Donal finds herself spending more time with one of her husband's henchmen than with him. With so many secrets between man and wife, is the honeymoon already coming to an end?
As summer reaches its hottest peak, these sun-kissed girls will find out if their luck can last . . . or if dark surprises are on the horizon.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes the riveting conclusion to the one summer these Bright Young Things will never forget.

Order The Lucky Ones (Bright Young Things) on Amazon

View The Lucky Ones (Bright Young Things) on Goodreads


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4567. The Ruins of Noe, by Danika Dinsmore

Continuing with my resolution to review the books I've received for consideration in this year's Cybils Awards, here are my thoughts on The Ruins of Noe, by Danika Dinsmore (Hydra House, 2012, middle grade/YA, 253 pages).

This is the second book about a young  faery, Brigitta, who, after harrowing adventures described in Brigitta of the White Forest, is now apprentice to High Priestess Ondelle.   Things are not well in the White Forest--the Ancient Ones, who visit newborns and set their destinies in motion, and who free faery spirits after death, seem to have withdrawn, and so Ondelle and Brigitta, who is implicated in a prophecy, set off to the ancestral homeland of Noe to try to set things right.

There in Noe they encounter two warring clans of faeries, living miserably beneath the rule of two terrible tyrants.   When Ondelle is captured and rendered powerless, it's up to Brigitta to not only save her, and return home safely, but to set right the wrongs she encounters.  Fortunately, she makes allies among the disaffected faeries of Noe, and even more fortuitously, two ancient, dragon-like beings have been watching through the centuries for their foreordained opportunity to help.   So all ends well.

It's a complicated story, densely populated with (perhaps too many) faeries.  It was hard for me to keep track of who was who, and because action takes precedence over the development of the secondary characters, it was hard to know who I should care about, and I ended up being disappointed that I didn't care as much as I would have liked about any of them by the end of the book.   I was also slightly disappointed that the ancient dragon-like creatures, introduced in the prologue, had a somewhat anticlimactic role in setting things right.

Yet Brigitta herself is a character to cheer for, the setting and adventures are interesting enough to keep the reader absorbed, and Dinsmore raises interesting questions of free will vs  destiny.

The Ruins of Noe takes Brigitta toward YA territory--her concerns are becoming more those of a teenager, and there is a hint (a very small one) of romance.  Still, despite some violence, this, like it's predecessor, is still book that I think would be best enjoyed by the eleven to thirteen year old reader.

Other thoughts at:

Clockwork Reviews -- "Danika Dinsmore outdoes herself in the crafting of this new book. All of the elements that made Brigitta wonderful continue on in this book. It is still just as magical and engaging as the first book, exploring the trials and struggles of the now adolescent protagonist."

Close Encounters of the Night Kind --  "This story was amazing and the world itself was well imagined and incredibly creative.  This book will take you on an amazing journey through the growth of a very lovable and unassuming character."

Rise Reviews--  "Dinsmore did an excellent job at keeping me hooked, and sometimes even panicked, by the tale she wove."

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher for Cybils consideration

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4568. Writing Irresistible Kidlit Goes on Your Christmas List!

I didn’t think the world needed one more writing book—but I was wrong. The book that changed my mind is Writing Irresistible Kidlit by Mary Kole.


This book answers so many of our questions about:


  • the current writing market (and all the changes)
  • what sells best and why
  • how to target today’s major traditional book markets
  • getting inside the minds of middle-grade and YA readers
  • crafting characters and plots that grip a reader
  • and what makes a winning query or proposal for an agent or editor.


[NOTE: The book is an in-depth treatment of middle-grade and young adult fiction. It does not cover fiction for kids under age 8 or nonfiction. This is not just a “beginner’s book.” While the book is understandable for someone just starting out, it is challenging enough for a more experienced writer, and especially helpful to anyone wanting to bring their novel up several levels so it can compete much better in the current marketplace.]


Why should you listen to Mary Kole? Well, she has worked at Chronicle Books, the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and now spends her days as a Senior Literary Manager at Movable Type. She holds her MFA in creative writing from the Universityof San Francisco. Mary blogs at Kidlit.com, named one of the “101 Best Websites for Writers” by Writer’s Digest Magazine for three years running. The book is a bit like having the opportunity to sit down with an agent for a heart to heart about why some books sell and some don’t.


Mary Kole’s encouragement to slow down and really focus on the writing, the theme, and the passion in your story is very welcome. In Mary’s own words:

“That’s why I’m so excited to share this book with you. It’s about craft, first and foremost, and, I hope, it forces you to focus on what’s really important. The publishing game will always be there when you’re ready, and when you finally hit upon that amazing idea and execute it with finesse, you will have a much easier time landing an agent and progressing to a book deal.”


One big change Kole talks about is the current “blockbuster mentality” (that came about after the mega hits of Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games) and why novels need to be so well crafted in order to sell today:

“The blockbuster mentality that is rampant in Hollywood and in adult and nonfiction publishing has finally come to the kidlit market. We now know that children’s books can make money, so we (agents, editors, and the finance guys upstairs who are signing off on book offers) expect them to.”


Many students have told me they love middle-grade writing, but have no interest in writing about vampires or wizards. Mary’s thoughts:

“If you want to avoid genre, though, there’s still definitely room for stories that deal with the real world of school, friends, romance, and family. In fact, some editors and agents are clamoring for strong contemporary stories where nobody has any magic powers and nothing falls out of the sky or crawls out of the ground. They (and readers) want real life, because that’s fascinating, too.”


The same holds true for YA writers who don’t want to write books with edgy violence and sex scenes. Mary’s advice is:

“Before you start writing smut and gore, though, here’s a very important point to remember: You don’t have to be edgy to write YA. In fact, that’s a huge trap that most aspiring writers of YA fall into. They try on a snarky voice, shoehorn in a paranormal element, and put their character in dangerous situations—all because they think that’s what’s selling right now. But all it does is come off as forced.”


Editors and agents are looking for “high concept” novels today. Here are some clues to what that means—and ways to get your novel this designation. Mary says:

“There are certain things that seem to get the high-concept designation more than others. Basically, it’s anything Hollywood might like: twists; surprise endings; secrets; betrayals in friendship; family ties; romantic relationships; big events like birth, death, and transformation; life-threatening danger; glamour; fantasy and superpower elements, hidden identities; big crime; conspiracy; love triangles—anything that’s larger than life.”


Writing Irresistible Kidlit has sections called “From the Shelves” throughout the book that highlight examples from current published books. A full list of these books is at the end under “Novels Cited,” and I intend to print off the list and start reading. That will be an education all by itself!


I read this book as a PDF sample review copy. Even though I highlighted throughout, I’m going to buy a hard copy. If you can’t buy it right now, put it on your Christmas list. (Or earmark one of those Amazon gift cards you’ll receive from someone this year.) It will make a great Christmas present to yourself! I recommend this new writing book very highly.

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4569. Free Fall Free – One More Day

The delightful pair of mice dressed up for Thanksgiving was sent in by Roberta Biard.  She was the first illustrator featured in 2012. http://wp.me/pss2W-3U0

Roberta is a full time illustrator from Texas. She specializes in whimsical artwork for children’s picture books and related industries.

Writers and Illustrator have one more day to send in something to win one of the following:

1. If you have or are writing a book, you can submit it for a chance to have editor Karen Chaplin read and critique your first page. 

2. If you are a published author, you have a chance to be the Featured Author of the Month – be interview and get your book or book seen.

3. Illustrator’s have a chance to be featured on Illustrator Saturday by submitting a piece of art and a link to see more.

4. Illustrators who have already been featured on Illustrator Saturday, Illustrators who want to be considered for Illustrator Saturday, or Illustrators just starting out and do not have enough artwork to be featured, can still get there artwork or new illustrations seen by professionals in the industry by participating.

Karen Chaplin began her publishing career at Scholastic. She was most recently an editor at Puffin Books/Penguin Young Readers Group, where sheedited Zombie Queen of Newbury High and Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby, Paris Pan Takes the Dare by Cynthea Liu, and Exclusively Chloe by J. A. Yang, among others. Currently, she is an Editor atHarperCollins Children’s Books, where she acquires middle-grade and YA fiction. A few recent projects she’s worked on includeSomething Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard, Starling by Lesley Livingston, andDon’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon. You can follow Karen on Twitter @CapChapReads.

Fundamentally, Karen loves a good story with strong characters that leap off the page and stay with her long after she’s finished reading. A short sampling of what she is looking for include contemporary realistic fiction (e.g., contemporary romance), anything for middle-grade boys, techie/spy/action thrillers, middle-grade mystery, YA psychological thriller/horror, and reality-based sci-fi/fantasy (i.e., the story needs to take place on earth or in a place that is recognizable and accessible).

You must do one of the following:

1. If you choose to follow me or are already following me, you will get your name put into the basket.

2. If you put a link up on your blog or website, you will get your name put in the basket. If you have both, you can choose to put a link on both and get your name in twice.

3. Do two Tweets about a post on my blog and get your name in the basket. This can be repeated three additional times for a total of four times in the basket. Tweets must be done on separate dates.

4. Post something on Facebook and get your name in the basket.

5. Do it all and you will have your name in the basket eight times. On November 24th I will put all the names in the basket and I will pull out ten names and read the first pages that go with the name. Out of those ten, I will pick 4 to send to our quest critiquer for November.

Here is what you need to do:

WRITERS: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Put “November First Page Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre. Also let me know which steps you took, so I will know how many times to put your name in the basket. If you end up doing more things to get additional entries, then e-mail me by November 24th with the updated number you have completed. Please let me know what you have done and when, so I can check it out.

Published Children’s Book Writers: You can also participate by doing one or more of the five above steps to get your name in the “Book Feature” hat. If your name is drawn, I will do a post featuring your book, an interview, bio, and pictures of the cover and interior art (if that applies). Author Susan Hood was the winner for October.  Here’s the link: http://wp.me/pss2W-5Bc

Please put “November Children’s Book Promo” in the subject area and let me know the steps you took, so I can put the correct amount of slips in the basket. Please send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Deadline November 24th.

ILLUSTRATORS: If you are an illustrator, you can participate and choose to get featured on Illustrator Saturday or get your new book featured by following the five steps for the writers. Please put “November Illustrator Feature” in the subject area. I will need to know what steps you completed to get into the basket and I will need a few illustrations or if you want to promote your book, then send the name and cover along. Also include a promtional blurb.  Please send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com.

Call for illustrations for November (You do not have to be narrowed down to send in a piece of art for Nvember). I’m looking for illustrations that reflect the feel of Fall, the election, and Thanksgiving. You do not have to wait, I will post the illustrations as they come in.  I would like to have them no later than November 25th, since it is hard to find the right place for your work, instead of squeezing it in at the end of the month. I would love to have something to go with the election on Tuesday. Please make sure the illustration is at least 500 pixels wide and include a blurb about yourself and a link to see more of your work. Please send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com and put “November Illustration” in the subject box.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: marketing, opportunity, Places to sumit Tagged: Critique, Editor Karen Chaplin, First pages, HarperCollins, Roberta Biard

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4570. Judge a Book By Its Cover

I love looking at cover changes! I understand how covers change because of marketing, but sometimes a book will have a cover I really love and change to something I'm not a fan of in the paperback.Here are some I've come across recently-what do you think?

Across the Universe has had many changes-I've posted about it before. But I think the cover evolution is interesting:

New Series Covers
-I think all the covers are nice and I like each of them. I also think the latest series design has the broadest appeal.
Now for a cover change that I don't think I like as well-
Paperback (and new series design)
-I think this one freaks me out mostly because I don't starting into a creepy eye on the cover. But it does give a very chilling feel, which is a great marketing effect.
-I like both of these covers for Born Wicked. I think the first one stands out a bit more, but I think both have a feel of mystery which matches the book well.
And for some non-series cover changes:
-I really dislike this cover change. It makes the book look like a girly romance and it's so much more than that! And I love Sean's head on the hardcover-such a funny and clever cover. At least Sean on the paperback is cute. I'll hopefully get over this cover change someday.
-This is a cover change where I like both cover options. I think they both express humor and they're simple enough to catch my eye.
What do you think? Like or dislike these changes? Any other changes you've seen?

5 Comments on Judge a Book By Its Cover, last added: 11/30/2012
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4571. Opal Book Trailer Reveal

We're excited to be part of the book trailer reveal for Opal, the third book in Jennifer Armentrout's Lux series.  I can't get enough Daemon Black and am counting down the days until Opal's release on December 11. Enjoy the trailer!

No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger... and they know it.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

USA TODAY Bestselling author, Jennifer L. Armentrout, lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell, Loki. Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She also writes adult romance under the name J. Lynn. Find Jennifer on: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Blog

You can read about how much pie Thuy eats this Thanksgiving on twitter @fishgirl182.

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4572. Character Bucket List: Adele Griffin and Theadora Parrott from ALL YOU NEVER WANTED w/ Giveaway

Happy Thanksgiving!

Name: Theadora Parrott 
Age: 17 years, 2 months, 5 days old.
Sign: Pieces
favorite color: red
favorite flower: peony
favorite saying: “Well that’s your opinion, isn’t it? And I’m not about to waste my time trying to change it.” ~Lady Gaga

I can’t believe that the day before Thanksgiving we have to write some asinine English in-class essay about what we should be grateful for. Could this be any more eighth grade?

Considering that I
a: do not care about this assignment and
b: am totally regretting that I didn’t just call in sick today (like I should have) I am opting not to do this at all. Right now I could be eating the last pack of Twinkies, catching up on Season 2 of American Horror Story, and texting Joshua. Oh well.

Instead I’m going to make a Bucket List, aka all the things I’m gonna do before I kick it, although by the time I get old, science will have probably found a way for super-rich people to stay alive forever.

Also, considering I have limitless access to anything, I will probably take care of most of this list by the time I’m 21 lol.

Till then here is:

My Bucket List by Theadora Parrott
10. go on tour with Gaga as her personal dresser, give interviews, take credit.
9. buy a Gray Lurie parrot, name him Parrott, and teach him to say dirty words.
8. rent a killer house in Rio for the 2016 Olympics, invite everyone.
7. commission a temporary full body tattoo made of Swarovski crystals.
6. charter this yacht. http://bit.ly/ebpgMO
5. eat a deadly torafugu in Japan.
4. own something by Jeff Koons: www.jeffkoons.com
3. try this on: http://most-expensive.net/ring
2. get married in Bali: http://bit.ly/10uB8jb
and my number #1? I want to do is . . . this: http://bit.ly/nYHmYy

About Adele Griffin

Adele Griffin the critically acclaimed author of numerous novels for young adults, including the Vampire Island and Witch Twins series. Her novels Sons of Liberty and Where I Want to Be were both National Book Award Finalists. All You Never Wanted, Griffin's newest novel, was published October 2012. She lives with her husband and two children in Brooklyn, New York. Her website is www.adelegriffin.com. Follow her on Twitter @adelegriffin and Facebook.

* * * *

All You Never Wantedby Adele Griffin

With my eyes closed and Alex's core friends all around me, it was like I'd become my big sister, or something just as good. And so who cared if they were calling it Alex's party? One thing I knew: it would be remembered as mine.

Alex has it all—brains, beauty, popularity, and a dangerously hot boyfriend. Her little sister Thea wants it all, and she's stepped up her game to get it. Even if it means spinning the truth to win the attention she deserves. Even if it means uncovering a shocking secret her older sister never wanted to share. Even if it means crying wolf.

Told in the alternating voices of Alex and Thea, Adele Griffin's mesmerizing new novel is the story of a sibling rivalry on speed.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about All You Never Wanted?

5. the thematic spin is about how money can't buy happiness-- or anything meaningful
4. it's got a pretty hot romance, which is new for me, and was so thrilling and fun to write.
3. one of my favorite jackets ever. (it's amazing, right?)
2. it was blurbed-- beautifully-- by Sara Zarr
1. I dedicated the book to my mother.

Order All You Never Wanted on Amazon

View All You Never Wanted on Goodreads

To win an ARC of ALL YOU NEVER WANTED, please complete the form below by 6:00 PM November 28, 2012. The winner will be announced on November 29th.


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4573. Anna Dagmara Cameron

Anna Cameron has always had a passion for writing.  She wrote her first novel, The Crest,  in 2008 and publishes her books under the pen name, A. Dagmara.

Hi Anna, please tell everyone a little about yourself.

Anna: I am thirty-five years old, married with children.  I have over fifteen years experience within the business community as a jack-of-all-trades.  Originally born in Poland, my family fled to Austria when I was four years old. The climate in Poland at the time, sadly, was volatile during the Union strikes. My family, consisting of my mother, father, and younger sister, lived in Austria for about six months until we were granted asylum in the United States. We immediately settled in the State of Maryland, where I currently reside with my Husband and children.  My family have moved back to Poland in recent years.

My life thus far has been an amazing journey. I consider myself more than just a survivor, a firm believer in truly living life. I was a young single mother who eventually married her high school sweetheart, followed by the birth of a second child, who unfortunately passed away at a young age. My eldest daughter and I bonded further than just a mother and child from that moment on. We grieved, mourned, and got through it together.  Now, at sixteen, she and I find courage and inspiration through each other.

When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

Anna: The writing bug never really bit me, as I had been writing short stories and tales of woe since I was about ten.  By fate, and after reading a few books leaving me disappointed and frustrated with some of the story lines, possibly by their pace, I found inspiration to write what I would have preferred to read. During a stint of being ill with pneumonia, inspiration hit. Three weeks of fevers, lethargy, and bed rest, I wrote The Crest.  The intention to publish never occurred to me.  It was when I moved three years later, and my current husband picked up the dusty manuscript without my knowledge.  He read the manuscript and loved it immediately, suggesting I set a goal to one day publish.  I entertained him, stating that I would one day, simply to stop pushing the subject, never truly intending to publish.  Both embarrassment and lack of confidence hit me hard when I reminded myself what I had written in the first manuscript.  See, the genre in which The Crest falls under is an Adult Paranormal Romance, Erotica. Needless to say, I was a bit modest to the writing, or more like some of the scenes in the book.  Being my husband, I was insecure about how he would perceive me for writing about such an intimate subject.  Over a year ago, he decided that I needed to do this.  Revisiting the manuscript, I spent another four months re-reading it and altering it.  Since that time, I was so entrenched in the story I wrote two more books to follow it up.  I guess you could say I fell in love with my own characters.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish?  Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Anna: When I decided that I wanted to share my stories, the first thing I hoped for was that there were more readers, such as myself, that are annoyed with the pace of the average romance novel.  In real life, we don’t wait until we know we love the person to dive into all that leads us there.  Relationships are not a cookie cutter from each person, so why are most of romance novels?  Yes, their plots all vary, but the pace and structure of the romance between characters are not.  Personally, I’ve read over four hundred book alone in the past year and a half, and only a handful were against the grain. I wanted to have a “reality” approach. Perhaps I’m going against the grain and many do enjoy the long, and drawn out pace.  I also felt that I didn’t want to be predictable when it came to the development and story of my characters.

Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

Anna: My most recent book is Holt’s Holding, due to be published in January 2013. This novel was intended to be a stand alone, until many of my trusted “beta readers” insisted on a sequel to the story. More than happy to oblige, I planned for a second book. Holt’s Holding, is very closely related to many of my experiences living in Maryland, though very fictionalized.  The Plot of this story is varied with a huge twist three fourths of the way into the book.  The main Character, Lillian Holt, is in her mid twenties.  Lillian, the only survivor to a house fire that took her family, finds herself amidst a corporate takeover of her father’s company, which has been safeguarded until her twenty fifth birthday.  Having known this day would come, she had spent seven years preparing and plotting her revenge.  Perfectly positioned, she falls in love, only to have her heart broken.  Her story is of survival and perseverance, as she learns that life is about living not plotting.  A preview of Chapter one is available on the website: www.adagmara.com

What’s the hook for the book?

Anna: The biggest hook to the story is Lillian Holt herself. Not all is as it appears to be. She is what most woman want to be, strong independent and driven.  However, like most of us, she’s flawed and has a lot of unwanted baggage. The development of her character leads into a world of underlying secrets and twists, sure to keep the attention of a reader.  Her strength is one of inspiration and her inner turmoil is emotional heart gripping.

How do you develop characters? Setting?

Anna: Most of my characters are inspired by actual people, events, and conversations – mostly conversations. However, my settings along with plot are inspired from dreams. The Crest, my first novel, was completely inspired by a dream. My daughter’s tenacity, humor, and strength inspired the main character. Though the character differs from her, it was my daughter’s nature that I modeled the main character after. I wanted to highlight those qualities within my characters and strive to do so.

Who’s the most unusual/most likeable character?

Anna: In The Crest, my most likable character is Kurt.  He is a sudo, brother, and the main character’s best friend. He has known her since birth and kept watch over her. Being level headed and caring, he truly would do anything for her. As his character evolves through the story, it is easy to see how and why most of my readers fall in love with him. He is the good guy next door!

The most unusual character is Skylar, dark mysterious, not to mention the bad guy. In the second book in the series readers learns so much more about him and his motives, they won’t know whether or not they want to torture him or hug him.  He’s my loveable monster, so to speak.

Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Anna: When writing, I typically find myself writing an outline; however, almost always straying away from it. I also keep a separate file on each character – their description down to how I want them to develop through the story.  Initially, when I first wrote The Crest, I went by nothing and just wrote it as it came. Not the best way to write, but amazingly, it worked. My writing and techniques, with time and practice, are ever evolving.  I’m not shy about calling myself a young writer, and even revel in it.

What are your current projects?

Anna: My Current project is the last book in the Guardians of the Realm series, The Gates. This story gives the reader an insight into the “Tri–Fecta”, by giving her a voice. Through the first two books, she has no voice, and the opinion of her is less than favorable. The Gates brings us to the conclusion of the search and epic journey, safeguarding the Realms.

I am also finishing up the second book in the Holt’s series, Holt’s Vaihn.  The second book answers many of the questions left unanswered and is set in New York City.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Anna: To learn more about my latest projects and upcoming events, readers can stop by my website: www.adagmara.com or find my author page on Facebook.

On my website, I offer previews of my books and latest projects, as well as encourage those to follow or participate in my blogs. In my blogs, I share with my viewers my current reads and thoughts. I’m a huge fan of books and emerging authors. Some of the best stories I’ve read were written by authors who could not get published traditionally.  They are my courage and should be respected for the time and work it takes to get our stories out there.  Happy Reading!

Thanks for joining us today, Anna.

Anna: Thank you for the opportunity.

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4574. Cover Reveal: Edge of Truth by Natasha Hanova

Today, I'm happy to share the cover of Natasha Hanova's upcoming YA novel, Edge of Truth!

Citizens who report to work on time, obey the Overlord’s laws, and stay off the Synbot’s radar, live long lives. Long, dull, monotonous lives.

It’s not a bad plan for someone with a hidden, emotion-based ability to trigger earthquakes. In a world pitted against her, sixteen-year-old Rena Moon strives for a life beyond working herself to death at the factory. Seeing an alternative, she risks selling relics from the forbidden lands at Market. It becomes the worst decision she ever made. Someone kidnaps her best friend in exchange for the one thing that would end her oppression.

Driven by loyalty, Rena and seventeen-year-old Nevan Jelani, soulful composer, green thumb extraordinaire, and the secret love of her life, plot to rescue her friend and reclaim her salvage. Still, the thought lingers whether Nevan is a true hero or another thief waiting for his chance at her loot. Events spin wildly, deepening Rena’s suspicions and pushing her limit of control. With more than her chance for freedom at stake, she must decide if she’s willing to kill to protect what’s precious to her. For once, the Overlord isn’t holding all the power, but can Rena live with being reduced to what she’s trying so hard to escape?

Title: Edge of Truth
Publisher: Sapphire Star Publishing  

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Dystopian
Release Date: June 6, 2013
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4575. Books in the future by Keren David



One over-flowing bookshelf..
My house is full of books. Seven bookcases, over-stuffed and spilling over. Bags of paperbacks waiting to go to the charity shop.

 In the attic there are three packing cases full of books that went into storage in 1999 when we moved to Amsterdam, and haven’t been unpacked since we returned. They’ve been joined by other boxes of books that we don’t want to throw out, but had to be moved when we tried to impose order. Sometimes I feel as though the books are breeding, multiplying silently, taking over the house by stealth.

I doubt my children will have a house like this. Their books will live in e-readers and tablets. Reading will be more private, more portable. Their homes will be a lot tidier, and moving will be considerably easier.

Choosing books will be different too. They'll have fewer opportunities to browse in shops and libraries. Instead, expertise and criticism will move online.  If the kindle charts are anything to go by, then books will be sold for pennies, with authors hoping to make money by selling in bulk.

Some of these things worry and frighten me -  as a writer.  I hate the idea of books ceasing to exist as physical entities. Yet, as the owner of an e-reader, I prefer having books that I can find and carry around. I think my house would be a nicer place to live in without toppling piles of books in every room.

And I’m excited by the possibilities that e-books can bring. I love the idea of adding music, film, information, interviews and other extras to my books. I’m intrigued by the idea that a  basic book might sell for £1, but the enhanced version would be sold (perhaps to existing fans) for a higher price.

Lydia Syson’s excellent debut, A World Between Us, published by HotKey is the first example I’ve seen of the books  that I dream of. It’s an epic romance set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War. (I should declare an interest here, Lydia and I belong to the same writing group and I consider myself a proud auntie to her love-crossed characters, Felix, Nat and George)
The paperback is a thing of beauty, with its 30s poster style cover. But the enhanced ebook is really special. It contains fascinating background information about the rise of the Blackshirts in London, the International volunteers who fought in Spain,interviews with Lydia,  historians and (very movingly) a veteran.  It’s interesting, educational and it offers  much more than is possible in a conventional book. It's a format that fits historical books perfectly, but could be applied to many others.
Try it, think about how the concept could be used for the books you write, and the books you love, and some of your fears about the future might just fade away.


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